Agriculture

It is a mistake to tar our entire modern agriculture and food distribution system with the worst behavior of its meanest participants.

The proper response to the excesses of industrial agriculture is not to destroy it in favor of small scale farms and locovore culture, but to punish the miscreants, remove perverse incentives, and generally to redress the problems in the system.

Fix big ag. With a hammer. And the threat of an alternative.

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Anderson Cooper says Infidelity is not the Point

CNN’s Anderson Cooper says the fallout around allegations leveled against President Donald Trump by porn actress Stormy Daniels is not about the infidelity, but paying to hush it up just before the 2016 US election.

Source: Anderson Cooper: It’s not about the infidelity

Anderson Cooper is not entirely correct. The issue of whether Mr. Trump committed adultery – and did so for the worst of reasons – may be irrelevant to Mr. Cooper under his code of values and beliefs. This does not mean that the issue is irrelevant to all Americans, for at least two important reasons.

First, many voters care whether or not the President of the United States has sufficient personal integrity to adhere to his wedding vows. To some of us, a man who would casually flaunt a vow he took before G-d and the law cannot be trusted with the future of the nation.

Second, and more important, Mr. Trump has been elected into office by a party and by voters who espouse socially conservative values. As the nominal head of that party – a party which took Bill Clinton to task for his infidelity two decades ago – it should not be unreasonable to expect himself to behave in accordance with those beliefs in his personal life. If he cannot, he can hardly call himself a social conservative.

A genuine conservative should be troubled by the President’s behavior.

The Color Yellow

I’m old enough to remember a time when we didn’t have to wonder whether or not the Kremlin has a secret video of the President of the United States paying Russian hookers to urinate on a bed in his Moscow hotel room.

Source: The Pee Tape | The American Conservative by Rod Dreher

First off, Rod Dreher’s lede above may turn out to be the single line that best sums up the through-the-looking-glass world in which we have lived Donald Trump declared his candidacy on June 15, 2015.

Second, though, the entire issue demonstrates the craven cowardice of POTUS 45. A courageous person would defy the Kremlin to release the tape, and face the music rather than live with the implication that Putin could hold him by the leash of blackmail.

Unfortunately (and unsurprisingly,) the current occupant of the Oval Office has proven himself a coward of the worst order, morally unfit for any position of responsibility for human life, much less the responsibility of command, much less the responsibility of Commander-in-Chief.

The White House’s response to this situation is a litmus test of the character of its current tenant. The grade thus far is an F-.

Ease the Hammer

For the record, I think the consumption of pork is an affront to G-d. I think abortion in most cases is morally indefensible. The smell of marijuana in a public place disgusts me. But you will never in these pages read or hear of me calling for bacon to be outlawed, for the re-criminalization of cannibis, or for the repeal of Roe v. Wade.

For all of you who would use the heavy hand of legislation to stop your neighbor from doing something that has been a part of their lives or culture, know this: there are many things that you like doing that your neighbors find objectionable, if not downright sick-making, depraved, and socially dangerous. But we do not try to legislate them out of existence. We understand that tolerance is the handmaiden of liberty.

So the next time you are tempted to show support to a law that will criminalize someone else’s lifestyle, remember: that knife can cut both ways, and it is the nature of history that the further the knife cuts one way, the further it will swing back and slice the other. Deep inside you know this, and this is why books like The Handmaid’s Tale do, and should, scare the living daylights out of any thinking liberal. Payback is an unholy bitch, and all of us would be wise to remember that fact when we are tempted to overmilk the political climate on behalf of our own ideologies.

 

The Moose and the Elephant: Leaving the GOP

Lean a little more to the right, maybe?

Those who have been reading this blog for some time will notice that we have, once again, undergone a facelift. This time it is for more that aesthetic reasons: it is meant to signal a change.

For a long time, this site and my political activities have been devoted to the fruitless effort to rescue the wagon that is the Republican Party from its accelerating slide down the steep slope to the right. After five years, I have come to terms with the fact that this is a hopeless quest. Long before Donald Trump reared his bilious physiognomy above the political parapet, it was clear that the party was in deep need of change, and that far too few Republicans either acknowledged this or had the faintest inkling of what that change might look like.

But the past few months, culminating with Trump’s nomination at the most shameful political gathering since the last Reichsparteitag in Nuremburg in 1938, have provided sufficient evidence that the GOP is incapable of meaningful, deep reform, even in the face of its most severe existential crisis in a century. The party’s lurch beyond conservatism points our republic toward a dark and terrifying future. We can either get off the wagon and do something, or we will by inaction consign the nation to the darkness.

And while I consider myself to be a conservative, I have found that the term has become so abused as to be almost meaningless, and that I have as little in common with the vast majority of conservative pundits and politicians as I do with those of the left.

Political conservatism to me is a dedication to two things: first, the principles that motivated the Founding Fathers as embodied in their writings and in the Charters of Freedom (The United States Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, and the Bill of Rights); and second, the proposition that even the best system of governance is infinitely perfectible and thus dynamic. Conservatism should not throw itself athwart the road to change, but should embody ongoing reform informed by a wise balance of caution and progress.

Sadly, the most vocal proponents of conservatism seek to twist it into something far more regressive, robbing it of its balance in the name of dogmatic orthodoxy or more nefarious motives. When slavish devotion to free markets leads conservative thinkers like Thomas Sowell to inveigh against Teddy Roosevelt, the right no longer stands for reform but for a backslide into the cauldron of laissez-faire capitalism, robber barons, corporate monopolies, corruption, and vast income inequalities. The future promised by this sort of conservatism is not America: it is decline and dissolution. Christian conservatism would see America declare itself a Christian nation, and impose Christian values in the classroom, the bedroom, and the examination room. A theocracy dominated by plutocrats is the promise, enough nearly to rename the GOP the Banana Republican party.

Either we consign the GOP to the past, or we consign ourselves to the dystopia it promises.

In an effort to be a part of a better future, one informed by a conservatism that captures the promise of the 21st Century while holding true to the enlightened vision forged in the 18th, I am today leaving the Republican Party. I do so with a heavy heart and great reluctance. But to paraphrase my wife when she speaks of her own roots, I love the Republican Party, but the GOP that I love does not exist anymore.

But I also do so with a belief that such changes are good for the country, if for no other reason than they compel us to cast off the fetters of short-termism and special interests and enable us to engage in a more visionary and constructive conversation. This is what motivated Ronald Reagan in 1980, Dwight Eisenhower in 1952, Teddy Roosevelt in 1912, Abraham Lincoln in 1860, and the men and women who put everything on the line 240 years ago to craft a new nation.

 

I will share more about where the Bull Moose is headed in the coming weeks.

Goldberg Misses the Real Problem 

The White House’s relationship with the press is more complicated than the story suggests.

Source: What the Times’s Ben Rhodes Profile Got Wrong – The Atlantic

Jeffrey Goldberg goes to great lengths to prove that no, David Samuels, is wrong: Goldberg is not a sock-puppet for the Obama administration.

Did I mention great lengths? Goldberg goes on in intricate detail about his battle to get The New York Times to issue a retraction of a Samuels’ assertion, while making an impassioned case that no, Goldberg is not biased in favor of the Obama administration or for the Iran deal.

But if Rhodes believed Goldberg to be a member of the press corps rather more willing to defend POTUS’ position than others, has there not been ample evidence over the past eight years to support that conclusion?

The problem here is not Rhodes. The problem here is not Goldberg, or Samuels (or published score-settling between the two in The Atlantic and Tablet.)

The problem is that, once again, the White House press corps has manipulated the media, and the media has failed in its job as watchdog. The question that persists is how the media can continue to strike a balance between doing what is necessary to gain and sustain access to the administration, and serving the interests of the nation. It seems that the answer continues to be that the journalist puts his story/career ahead of the need to tell the truth either to power or the American people.

If the White House press corps is to do its job, it must learn to better draw the line between self-interest and the public good. Otherwise, what good is it?

Families

The single most troubling hypocrisy of the far right: to be against abortion (a social conservative) for religious reasons yet be against aid to families with dependent children and to unwed mothers (a fiscal consecutive). We must face the fact that, whatever our convictions, these positions translate into a contradiction.