A Further Perspective

A Further Perspective

Why Have Elections?

By 9.15.15

In a country with more than 300 million people, it is remarkable how obsessed the media have become with just one — Donald Trump. What is even more remarkable is that, after six years of repeated disasters, both domestically and internationally, under a glib egomaniac in the White House, so many potential voters are turning to another glib egomaniac to be his successor.

No doubt much of the stampede of Republican voters toward Mr. Trump is based on their disgust with the Republican establishment. The fact that the next two biggest vote-getters in the polls are also complete outsiders — Dr. Ben Carson and Ms. Carly Fiorina — reinforces the idea that this is a protest.

It is easy to understand why there would be pent-up resentments among Republican voters. But are elections held for the purpose of venting emotions?

A Further Perspective

How Trump Has Changed the Game

By 9.14.15

Watching Republican establishment types trying to stop Donald Trump’s presidential campaign is like watching a highlight film of Fran Tarkenton’s NFL career. Tarkenton’s legendary ability as a scrambling quarterback was every football coach’s worst nightmare. Never mind what play Tarkenton called in the huddle, or what scheme the defense deployed against him. Once he started scrambling, the playbook ceased to matter. He’d run all over the backfield, eluding the defensive linemen who tried to tackle him, until he found a receiver open downfield. Tarkenton’s improvisational style was unique and unpredictable, and he led the Minnesota Vikings to three Super Bowls by defying the norms of what an NFL quarterback should be.

A Further Perspective

Patent Legislation, Pending

By and 9.10.15

Forty years ago, nearly no one cared about patents or patent law. Now, almost everyone does. The reason for the revisionism: the evolution of the economy. Splicing DNA became possible in the late 1970s. It started to become profitable in the Reagan-era 1980s. Personal computers were nearly unheard of when Ronald Reagan was elected President. By the end of his term, Apple Computer was one of the world’s most important corporations. A combination of neo-liberal politics and economics shifted society’s relationship with science. Biotechnology, and computing, and capitalism formed a lucrative, new relationship with America that lasts to this day.

The rate of patenting new inventions in the U.S. has been increasing in recent decades and stands at “historically high levels,” according to research by the Brookings Institution. While the growth in patent applications slowed a bit after the IT bubble and the Great Recession, the rate of patenting by U.S. inventors is at its highest point since the Industrial Revolution.

A Further Perspective

A Short Route to Chaos

By 9.9.15

As Kim Davis sat in jail, she received criticism from not only the usual liberal suspects but also conservative-leaning Christians who take an oddly absolutist stance against civil disobedience by government officials. If a Christian clerk resists an unconstitutional and unjust law to sign gay marriage licenses, why is that morally wrong? It undermines the proper functioning of the government, say her Christian critics. But that argument only makes sense if the smooth functioning of a tyranny is a moral good. It isn’t.

Justify Davis’s civil disobedience and the “rule of law ceases to exist,” says Rod Dreher of the American Conservative. No, the rule of corrupt judges is impeded, and that is all to the good. If the rule of law has been twisted tyrannically, why prioritize its preservation? The unquestioning adherence of government officials to unjust laws does far more damage to the real good for which government exists than the supposed bad example of Kim Davis ever could.

A Further Perspective

Does Donald Trump Have a Foreign Policy?

By 9.7.15

What was a delegation of Indonesian dignitaries doing at Donald Trump’s press briefing last Thursday, September 3? The delegation included House Speaker Setya Novanto, Deputy Speaker Fadli Zon, and three other deputy speakers.

Trump said they were there to join him in doing “great things for the United States.”

But that’s Trump. For him, America comes first. It’s not enough to ask what America can do for other countries. We must ask also what they can do for us. Life is a series of deals. Or, as every first year law student learns, a series of contracts.

Indonesian news source Okezone said the purpose was to discuss “strategic alliances between Indonesia and America going forward.” Does that sound like a foreign policy discussion?

A Further Perspective

Big Apple Versus Big Toilet

By 9.1.15

Why is New York so much cleaner than San Francisco? It’s a question you hear all the time, even as some New Yorkers swear that Mayor Bill de Blasio’s lighter approach to law enforcement has undone some of the gains made under former Mayors Rudy Giuliani and Mike Bloomberg. I spent three days walking at least 5 miles daily in Manhattan last week. The one time I was accosted by a strong whiff of urine, it was from horses in Central Park.

Good luck walking two blocks in downtown San Francisco without smelling pee.

Yes, I saw panhandlers, guys with squeegees, street people, the sorry-looking and the down and out, especially in midtown. Most just made me sad. The homeless were not invisible, but in my limited time (and maybe I was lucky), there was not a moment that I felt menaced — as one can feel walking down Market Street toward City Hall in San Francisco.

Why does my city reek so much more than New York? Both cities share liberal sensibilities, although New Yorkers have been known to elect Republican mayors. Not San Franciscans, who most recently elected a Republican in 1959.

A Further Perspective

Bush vs. Trump: A Revealing Clue

By 9.1.15

Even those of us who are not supporters of either Donald Trump or Jeb Bush can learn something by comparing how each of these men handled people who tried to disrupt their question-and-answer period after a speech.

After Bush’s speech, hecklers from a group called “Black Lives Matter” caused Bush to simply leave the scene. When Trump opened his question-and-answer period by pointing to someone in the audience who had a question, a Hispanic immigration activist who had not been called on simply stood up and started haranguing.

Trump told the activist to sit down because someone else had been called on. But the harangue continued, until a security guard escorted the disrupter out of the room. And Jeb Bush later criticized Trump for having the disrupter removed!

What kind of president would someone make who caves in to those who act as if what they want automatically overrides other people’s rights — that the rules don’t apply to them?

A Further Perspective

The Hole in Trump’s Wall

By 8.24.15

Donald Trump is commanding center stage with his pronouncements on illegal immigration. He says he will build a wall along the Mexican border, from the Pacific to the Gulf of Mexico, and that he will get the government of Mexico to pay for it.

He conjures up a vision of thousands of Mexican rapists, drug dealers and other criminals flowing here unimpeded. He claims he “invented” immigration as an issue. It’s true he is the one who has made it the issue of the day every day recently, but the other candidates had been discussing it for months. 

Trump suggests that the Mexican government might even be behind the flow of illegal immigrants across our southern border. He said he had evidence to substantiate that claim. When asked for it by a journalist, he said he’d had a guided tour of the Mexican border. It turns out this included a chance conversation with a member of the Border Patrol who grumbled that he thought the Mexican government hadn’t been doing enough to stop border crossings. 

A Further Perspective

Immigration Excuses

By 8.19.15

One of the most lame excuses for doing nothing is that we can’t do everything. Such excuses have been repeated endlessly, even by some conservatives, when it comes to illegal immigration.

We can’t deport millions of illegal immigrants already living in the country, some say, so the wise thing is to just learn to live with them, according to the supposedly sophisticated crowd.

This completely sidesteps the plain, obvious, and galling fact that we are not deporting those illegal immigrants who are arrested by the police for violating other laws — and are then turned loose back into American society. In so-called “sanctuary cities” across the country, local police are under orders not to report illegal immigrants to the federal authorities.

Nobody has a right to obstruct justice when it comes to federal laws — not even the President of the United States, as Richard Nixon discovered when he had to resign after Democrats threatened him with impeachment and Republican Senators told him that they would not defend him.