Friday, April 08, 2005

Aversion to Risk Taking?

* This is not to end the thread on same-sex marriage as I do want to continue that discussion *

Victor Davis Hanson wonders why it is that President Bush is willing to take risks abroad but avoids doing so at home:

Yet after the president's successful reelection, and the stunning news of the Iraqi voting and its encouraging aftershocks in the region, George Bush enjoys little more than a 50 percent approval rating. Unemployment is low. Inflation remains moderate. Interest rates are affordable, and real growth is strong, Why, then, the discontent?

Perhaps the wear and tear of being targeted by elites for nearly five years, from Michael Moore to the New York Times, has taken its toll. Or perhaps the casualties from the Iraq war and hysteria over Social Security reform explain the discontent. It is said that the Terri Shiavo matter did not win the president American support either.

Perhaps. But I think the answer lies instead in a strange paradox of George W. Bush and the optimistic prospects he has raised about solving problems of the first order. The President has shown himself so resolute in matters of foreign policy that he has raised the bar of his expected performance on the home front. (emphasis in the original)

That is, by standing nearly alone in the Middle East, by never wavering in the face of unprecedented venom, and by weathering everything from Abu Ghraib to the televised beheadings, Bush has established himself a man of principle who welcomes the chance to offer unpopular but needed solutions to real crises.

But, on the domestic front, there are at least three critical issues that engage Americans Left and Right — and right now Social Security reform, as salutary as it could be, is unfortunately not one of them. In contrast, worry about long-term American financial strength, illegal immigration, and soaring energy prices most surely are.

We don't like record deficits, high gas prices (whether low or high if adjusted for inflation is irrelevant to the average person), and a souther border that we will not or cannot control. Whether these things are good or bad, the average person sees them as bad. It is more a matter of perception than anything else.
In short, the president's critical strength — his bravery in the face of bitter status-quo invective, his worry more over history's verdict than polls of the hour, and his concern over the honor, rather than the mere happiness, of the American people — is either being untapped or is dissipated here at home.
How odd that the more risk-taking and principled the administration's sense of purpose abroad, the more we demand the same at home — and thus feel it sorely when such tough leadership on what matters most to Americans is wanting. And that, I think, explains the paradox of why a president, in the midst of crafting one of the most successful foreign policies since World War II, can only convince half the population that they are, in fact, living in historic times.

Do you agree or not?

We hear ad nauseum that we are a "divided nation". Perhaps, but is our current division really any different than the divisions of the past? One of the great temptations is to believe that the times that you live in are better (or worse), unique and different, than at any time in history. Sometimes this is true, but I think that most of the time we magnify a current situation and forget (or never learned) about events in history.

Why, also, is the president spending valuable political capital on Social Security reform? Yes it is surely important, but it isn't at the forefront of what most people are thinking about on a daily basis. More people worry (rightly or wrongly) about uncontrolled illegal immigration, yet this has become the new "third rail" of American politics. Why?

We expect Bush to take on tough issues here at home. Bill Clinton briefly tried to reform health care but quickly gave it up after a diasasterous start. We expected Clinton to punt, but we expect Bush to be strong. Is he not taking up the tough domestic issues, and if not, why not?

Tuesday, April 05, 2005

Same Sex Marriage: Beyond Morality, The Legal Impact

I posted this at my site, but wanted to bring it up here and push it around considering the previous post regarding secularism.

Same Sex Marriage: Follow Your Nose

Borrowed that last part from Colombo.

My point is that same sex marriage has a lot more connotations on financial and legal issues than the small minority of homosexuals that might take advantage of the practice. It opens up a whole other world of legal bonds, legal complications and financial expectations that we could see in thirty years or less if it was allowed to be codified either through amendments or judicial fiat.

Tell me what you all think about the subject.

Sunday, April 03, 2005

Give me that Left-wing theology

In the aftermath of the 2004 elections, many Democrats realized that they needed to appeal to people who place a high priority on "moral values." It sounds like a promising way for the Democrat party to expand their base, except that they want to accomplish their task while retaining their views on abortion and homosexuality.

Thomas Frank, author of What's the Matter with Kansas, has written about how amazing it is that blue-collar workers, people who should be joining Marxist guerilla movements or at least voting against Wall Street speculators, seem to be strong supporters of Republicans candidates. Of course, one could examine the various economic theories that have been offered by Left throughout the decades. It is possible that blue-collar, red-state voters have concluded that socialism doesn't deliver prosperity.

But don't tell that to Jim Wallis, author of God's Politics: Why the Right gets it wrong and why the Left doesn't get it. Jim Wallis believes that concern for the poor should be the primary concern of Christians and this automatically translates into more spending by the federal government on social welfare programs. Katherine Mangu-Ward has analyzed Wallis's politicial-theological blueprint.
Take the political program advocated in God's Politics. A liberal Democrat will find almost nothing here to challenge him, unless he balks at praise for "healthy, two-parent families"; a conservative Republican almost nothing to agree with. The obvious exception is abortion. Wallis is pro-life and forthrightly deplores the Democratic party's "highly ideological and very rigid stance on this critical moral issue." But his chapter "A Consistent Ethic of Life" offers a spoonful of sugar to help the medicine go down for committed pro-choice Democrats, pairing the case against abortion with the case against capital punishment. Pro-choicers will have no trouble shrugging off this breach in an otherwise nearly flawless leftist litany on poverty, war, the environment, domestic spending, racism, the Middle East, the evils of advertising, and the awarding of sinister contracts to Halliburton.
Asked to name a prominent Republican ally, Wallis mentions only Mark Hatfield, who retired from the Senate in 1997. Current Democratic senators, meanwhile, are fervent in their praise. Byron Dorgan calls Wallis a "breath of fresh air." Both Minority Leader Harry Reid and liberal patriarch Edward Kennedy credit Wallis with helping them figure out how to talk about values, aides told the Los Angeles Times. Reid has even borrowed from Wallis's editorials in the magazine he edits, Sojourners, for floor speeches, vowing to "turn this budget into a moral document."
Certainly the religious right's alliance with the Republican party, beginning during the mid-1970s when Ronald Reagan challenged President Ford for the 1976 Republican presidential nomination, has been no small factor in the Republican party becoming America's majority party.

I suppose that there are many people who regularly vote Republican who are agnostic on economic issues and would be perfectly willing to support a socially conservative Democrat, even if he supported a higher minimum wage, Canadian style health care and a host of other anti-corporate ideas lifted from Ralph Nader's campaign literature. But most Americans, religious and non-religious alike, have seen this movie before and realize that what's bad for business isn't necessarily good for them.