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?


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.

Aggression or Hypersensitivity?

What is less clear is how much is truly aggressive and how much is pretty micro — whether the issues raised are a useful way of bringing to light often elusive slights in a world where overt prejudice is seldom tolerated, or a new form of divisive hypersensitivity, in which casual remarks are blown out of proportion.

via Students See Many Slights as Racial ‘Microaggressions’ – NYTimes.com.

This is a debate that is important to everyone. If we are allowed to over-define racism, free speech dies. If we under-define it, we allow racism to fester and regain acceptance. We walk a perilously fine line.

Please read all the way through an article. The last five paragraphs mark the beginning of a rebuttal to how far the concept has gone.

On Executive Pay

Sunlight is supposed to be the best disinfectant. But there’s something naïve about the new S.E.C. rule, which presumes that full disclosure will embarrass companies enough to restrain executive pay. As Elson told me, “People who can ask to be paid a hundred million dollars are beyond embarrassment.” More important, as long as the system for setting pay is broken, more disclosure makes things worse instead of better. We don’t need more information. We need boards of directors to step up and set pay themselves, instead of outsourcing the job to their peers.

James Surowiecki 
Open Season
The New Yorker

October 21, 2013

Surowiecki is nobody’s idea of a conservative, but he is going in the right direction with this. The problem here is that boards have lost control of their companies. The way to get boards to “step up” is make sure that the right people know about the pay disparity, and are ready to punish the company for it.

If you want to change executive pay, get shareholders and consumers to vote with their pocketbooks and refuse to patronize or invest in a company that pays the folks in the C-suite more than, say, 25 times the salary of the lowest-paid worker. That will get the ball rolling.

But the idea that regulation is going to fix this problem – and not simply drive it underground – is naive in the extreme.

The Fed is Afraid of Goldman. This is Bad.

United States of Bankers
Rod Dreher

The American Conservative
September 29, 2014

One of those stories where the pull-quotes speaks for themselves, demanding no narration.

The American Conservative is all over the story of how the Feds are terrified to regulate Goldman Sachs et al. NPR is all over it. Pro Publica is all over it.

Time to wake up, folks. Forget the non-issues being used to divide the nation. The Right, the Left, and everyone in between need to get together and put an end to the corporate capture of the organs of our government.

And if you don’t think that’s an issue that every American should be screaming about, you had best explain yourself. Use the space below.