David Rodeback's Blog

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Thursday, December 26, 2013
Random Thoughts on the Passing Scene

From random acts of kindness to ducks and Swallow, from global cooling to gay marriage.

Here are some accumulated musings, including some on topics which deserve more attention than I'll be giving them today.

Random Acts of Kindness, etc.

Random acts of kindness are far better than no kindness at all. But there's something about their randomness which makes them seem non-committal and dismissive. Here, I'll do this kind thing for you, stranger, and it might help you, and it will make me feel really good. Then I'll go back to my normal life and leave you squarely in the middle of whatever you're suffering, and no more intimately connected to me than before. Wouldn't systematic acts of kindness, perhaps even to the degree of befriending someone, be of more lasting value to both the actor and the recipient? This model is a lot less convenient, of course.

On a related note, surely we can see that random good is insufficient to oppose organized evil.

On a weirdly related note, I wonder: Is there any merit or meaning in kind acts of randomness?

A Federal Budget Resolution

I dislike some things about the federal budget resolution, such its size and its cuts in military pensions, but it's been years since the Senate was willing to produce any budget resolution at all. This nod toward responsible governance is a big step forward for Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, and I'm thinking it might be at least a small step forward for the country, imperfections notwithstanding.

John Swallow

For the record, as a delegate I voted against John Swallow in his race for Utah Attorney General. I voted against him as a voter. There was a reason for that. When I'm looking to hire an attorney, I try to avoid the prospects who make me want to take a shower when I listen to them talk or watch them work a crowd.

I hate to say I told you so. Wait, I really don't.

Duck, Duck, . . .

I'm not a Duck Dynasty fan, though I used to enjoy some other A&E programming years ago, when I had cable television and could watch A&E. Here are a few thoughts:

  • I wonder how many of the people who are condemning Phil Robertson for his remarks in GQ or condemning A&E for suspending him actually read the whole, long GQ article. I did. The writer has some skill but is just about as vulgar as his subject. GQ is not the first place one turns for tasteful, urbane, politicially correct prose.
  • There's no First Amendment case here. Robertson's constitutional freedom of speech protects him from the government, not a television network. The network has its own freedom of speech (or press), and is acting entirely within it when it suspends Robertson for offensive, public remarks which contradict the network's values. In their place I might have done the same, regardless of politics.
  • Sarah Palin already was missing from my list of credible Republican presidential possibilities, even if she was more qualified than her running mate and both names on the opposing ticket in 2008. Her siding with Robertson against A&E on supposed First Amendment grounds is just one more bit of proof that she lacks the wisdom and judgment needed for in the Oval Office. I willingly say the same of other lightweight conservatives who jump on the same bandwagon. Regrettably, would-be heavyweight Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal is flirting with lightweight status himself over this one, and so is  Senator Ted Cruz.
  • I don't particularly like duck.

Last but not least, am I the only one thinking this whole thing might have been just a big, smart marketing ploy to get Duck Dynasty gear to fly off the shelves just before Christmas?

This Is What Tyranny Looks Like

John Fund identifies the 14th illegal change in ObamaCare -- illegal, that is, because it's our lawless president making the changes arbitrarily, without Congressional action or legal authority. When a president takes it upon himself to make substantive changes in the law, rather than letting Congress do its job, he is more of a monarch than a president.

However, anyone who still surprised at this behavior just hasn't been paying attention.

Global, uh, Cooling?

Please tell me 1970s hairstyles aren't coming back. Please!

I mention this because, back in the 1970s, we were worried about global cooling too, and it's back.

Let's say for a moment, for the sake of argument, that I accept the shaky theorem that human activity can significantly affect these climate patterns. If I were an acolyte of global warming, I would have to accept that, right? So if the globe is now cooling, we need to reverse that, to avert an ice age which is already (so I hear) long overdue.

Therefore, we need more greenhouse gases, not less, and this is an emergency! Drive your cars, everyone, as much as you can! Burn coal, if you can find it! Feed your children and your cattle chili with every meal! (Remember the global concern over the climatological effects of cow flatulence?) Breathe heavily whenever possible! Kill trees, bushes, plants whenever you can; they're breathing the CO2 we need to warm the planet!

Actually, please don't do that stuff. I like to breathe. Instead, read this. Calmly.

And the Left Rolls On

Historically, people who believe in forced redistribution of wealth (socialists, communists, modern American Democrats, etc.) find inheritance particularly offensive, because it tends to keep wealth in the family and the social class. I'm not making this up; this is years of academic study of history and political theory talking. Sometimes revolutions abolish all inheritance. More commonly, the redistributionists tax it heavily, as in the United States. So a report I saw the other day is completely in character. ObamaCare is forcing millions of people into Medicaid, where the government can go after their estates, upon their death, to get its money back. Their heirs are just out of luck.

They call it "estate recovery."

Gay Marriage in Utah

The chief difference between me and a federal judge is that I don't claim the moral, legal, or intellectual authority to redefine words such as marriage to suit my own political views. Nor am I comfortable with a single judge tinkering with the central pillar of human civiliation. I think such matters are better left to the normal political processes, and even that makes me nervous.

While I have publicly advocated local laws prohibiting discrimination in housing and employment on the basis of actual or perceived sexual orientation or gender identification, I have never supported redefining marriage as we have just done in Utah. I think it is unwise. I think it is arrogant to assume that we can foresee the sociological consequences. If it must be done, it ought to be done by the legislature and the people, as it was in Washington State, not by a judge.

The primary case for government encouraging traditional marriage rests on society's interest in having as high a percentage of children as possible raised in two-parent homes by their biological parents. (Spare me all the arguments about how that doesn't always work. I'm not stupid.) Schools work better, jails fill up more slowly, poverty is far less common and less permanent, and so forth. If we jettison this motive and officially value marriage only as a legal, committed, formal, public relationship between two people who love each other, it's hard to make a non-religious case against gay marriage. By the way, if we jettison that motive (as we mostly have), gay marriage won't be nearly our biggest problem.

In any case, my and my coreligionists' freedom of religion can remain intact in a society where gay marriage is legal, as long as its official advocates respect others' freedoms as much as they love their own. If there is such respect, here's what we won't see:

  • people and/or judges trying to force churches and clergy to perform gay marriages if they perform any marriages at all;
  • charges and lawsuits against wedding cake makers, photographers, wedding planners, bands, etc., who refuse to be hired for gay weddings.

Regrettably, we're already seeing some litigation of these things in other states. Clearly, freedom is not these litigants' first concern.

For some people, a political victory isn't a political victory unless you can use it to oppress someone.

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