The Divided States of America – and the Problem Is…?

NEW -  Washington Post pundit Dan Balz has a problem:

Political polarization has ushered in a new era in state government, where single-party control of the levers of power has produced competing Americas.


Republican states have pursued economic and fiscal strategies built around lower taxes, deeper spending cuts and less regulation…. They have clashed with labor unions…. moved to restrict abortion rights or to enact voter-identification laws….

Yes, yes, all true.  Yet, at the same time, as Balz also notes:

Blue states have also been forced to cut spending, given the budgetary pressures caused by the recession.  But… a number of them also have raised taxes….  They have backed the president on the main elements of his health-care law…. Legaliz[ed] same-sex marriages, provid[ed] easier access to voting and… impos[ed] more restrictions on guns.

Needless to say, with the exception of cutting spending, conservatives likely oppose all of the blue state policies Balz lists, just as Balz surly has problems with many, perhaps even all, of the red states’ policies.  But perhaps the greatest area of disagreement between us conservatives and our liberal friends lies in the problem that Balz does not state, but apparently has, not with the specifics of any particular policy disagreement, but that such differences should exist at all.

In Balz’s article’s comments thread,  reader “kabscorner” states plainly what Balz implies (emphasis mine):

How can the people of a nation ever come together when each side is certain that they have a monopoly on being correct and that the other side is wrong on all issues?

That statement reeks of hypocrisy; if there are liberals who don’t believe that “they have a monopoly on being correct” and who don’t consider conservatives to be “wrong on all issues,” this writer has yet to meet one.  Nevertheless, the sentiment itself is a good one, so in that spirit, perhaps some liberal reading this could provide a list of things that Atlas Shrugs gets right.

But I digress, so let us move from hypocrisy to dissembling, which is what kabscorner is doing when he or she asks, “How can the people of a nation ever come together?”  For what kabscorner is really asking is, how can liberals enact (read, force) their policy preferences in states where conservatives are the majority?

However disturbing may be the liberals’ philosophy and agenda, even more disturbing – and damaging – is liberals’ overarching belief that their philosophy is not merely right, but so right that it must be imposed on the entire country – by winning the argument in the so-called marketplace of ideas, if possible, but – what’s the phrase the left loves to use? – “by any means necessary,” if democracy fails to produce the desired result.  It is not sufficient, for liberals, that Massachusetts enacted Romneycare; Mississippi must have Obamacare, too.  Houston, with the same size population as Chicago, but many more gun stores and many fewer murders, must have Chicago’s draconian gun control regime and, presumably, its sky-high murder rate, too.  Every state must recognize same-sex marriage, not just those states that have enacted it (or had it imposed by unelected (and liberal) judges).

And of course, the seminal policy difference that begat the current polarization that so distresses liberals:  abortion.  In 1973, some months before the Supreme Court decided Roe v. Wade, when the was still living in his home state of Michigan, Michiganders held a referendum on whether to liberalize our state’s abortion laws.  Overwhelmingly, we voted to keep our abortion laws as they were.

Roe v. Wade, of course, changed all that when a liberal-dominated Supreme Court reached into Justice Douglas’s and Griswold’s Pandora’s Box of “emanations and penumbras” to extract a new, theretofore undiscovered, constitutional right to abortion – and struck down the abortion policy the people of Michigan voted for, overwhelmingly, only months before.

Surely many states’ voters felt the same anger Michigan voters felt at having their state’s independence so blithely flouted by Roe.  Almost as bad, and arguably worse, than the decision itself, was its pioneering creation of a new weapon to add to liberalism’s by-any-means-necessary arsenal.  For the first time, liberals had successfully (mis)used the Supreme Court to impose the sensibilities of a New York City Upper West Side liberal onto the entire nation.

Conversely, the overturning of Roe by a future Supreme Court, would not impose Mississippi’s values on New York, or Phil Robertson’s values on Whoopie Goldberg, but merely restore the right of every state right to chart its own course, which is to say the right the states had – and that the Constitution intended them to have – from the instant of the nation’s founding.

Contra Dan Balz and kabscorner and the rest of our liberal friends, absent a shooting war with a foreign power, the question is not, “how can the people of a nation ever come together,” but how can most liberals (and, to be fair, a few conservatives) learn to live and let live?

E pluribus unum is – “Out of many, one” – is America’s motto.  But where in that motto, or in the Declaration of Independence, or in the Constitution, does it say that the “many” must march, or think, or legislate, in lockstep?

If liberals wish to demonstrate their purported admission that they do not think that they “have a monopoly on being correct” and that they do not think that conservatives are “wrong on all issues,” they might start by respecting the principle of federalism on which our great country was founded.

Rethinking Romney

In two consecutive elections, Republicans nominated mainstream, non-ideological candidates for the presidency of the United States.  Both lost.  Why, then, would Republicans even consider nominating a similar candidate in 2016?  And surely, the only thing worse than nominating someone like the guys who lost the last two times, would be to nominate the actual guy who lost in 2016. Continue Reading »

Why a Defund-Obamacare Strategy Would Succeed

We are less than 1½ weeks from the Showdown at the CR (Continuing Resolution) Corral and establishment politicians, of both parties, are panicking.  The latest turn of the screw came last week, when opposition from 43 apparently non-establishment Republicans forced Speaker Boehner to cancel a vote on a CR because that CR would have continued to fund Obamacare. Continue Reading »

A Tale of Two Red Lines

Today (9/1/13), an article appeared in The Times of Israel (emphasis mine):

“Netanyahu warns enemies not to test Israel’s strength”

Speaking hours after US President Barack Obama delayed a military strike at Syria pending a Congressional vote, [Israel Prime Minister Benyamin] Netanyahu declared that “Israel is calm and confident.  Our citizens know that we are well prepared for any circumstance.”

He added:  The citizens also should be aware that our enemies have very good reasons not to test our strength and might.  They know why.

And so does the rest of the world, because when Benyamin Netanyahu warns an enemy that Israel will do something and states the conditions that will cause her to do it, that enemy – and anyone else within earshot of the Israeli prime minister’s words – knows that he means it. Continue Reading »

The Joy of Schadenfreude

Schadenfreude – enjoyment obtained from the troubles of others. – Merriam-Webster

Readers of political punditry may not realize it, but our profession, like any other, has over the years acquired a rich tradition of customs and practices.  One custom of which I’m particular fond (because I’m lazy) is the one of beginning an article with a pithy quote from some politician or other notable figure.  Or, in some cases, someone who has a notable figure.  It’s one of those behind-the-scenes-sleight-of-hand maneuvers that allows us pundits to seem more erudite than we actually are, while filling the word-count with another person’s existing words rather than having to come up with something original, ourselves. Continue Reading »

A To-Do List for RINO-ers

Hang around Twitter, the media, the comments sections of conservative Web sites or wherever conservatives gather to put their two cents in, and you’re bound to see messages like this one, that appeared recently on my Twitter timeline:

Tweet -redacted

In case the above is illegible in your browser, the message reads (emphasis mine):

They all dance to the tune of the same piper.  Two parties are the same.  Destroying liberty is a bipartisan effort. Continue Reading »

Yes, Defund Obamacare

The GOP division over whether to defund ObamaCare can be summarized in two quotes: This, from Texas senator Ted Cruz:

We can de-fund Obamacare if Republican leaders who tell their constituents they’re conservative stand up and act like they’re conservative.

And in opposition, Ramesh Ponnuru:

[I]f Republicans stay firm in this demand [to defund Obamacare], the result will be either a government shutdown or a partial shutdown combined with a debt default.

Either would be highly unpopular, and each party would blame the other. The public, however, would almost certainly blame Republicans. Continue Reading »

Trayvon Truthers

I’m sure many of you have had the experience that I’ve had, of doing something and being unable, later, to remember why you did it.  So forgive me when I tell you that I have no idea what prompted me, the other night, to search on Youtube for the video of the Apollo 11 moon mission, to relive, vicariously, the historic moment when Neil Armstrong took his one-small-step-for-man-one-giant-leap-for-mankind onto the lunar surface. Continue Reading »

Are “Benevolent Juntas” the Best Path to Muslim Middle East Democracy?

Forgive your faithful essayist for stating the obvious, but the Arab experiment in democracy seems not to be going so well.  Oh, they’ve got the revolution part of the process down pat, but the aftermath – replacing dictatorship with democracy –seems to be a bit of a problem, with, so far, no peaceful resolution in sight.  Those cheering Egyptian president – oops! make that former president – Morsi’s ouster would do well to keep in mind that the democratically elected Morsi’s forced ouster comes scarcely a year after unelected predecessor Hosni Mubarak, voluntary resignation (for all you irony buffs out there). Continue Reading »

The Senate’s Anti-Dog-Eat-Dog Law

In a perfect world, where Republicans actually exercise their principles, this essay would be called, “The Democrats’ Anti-Dog-Eat-Dog-Law.  Sadly – but let us agree, surprisingly – Republicans are complicit with Democrats in passing the travesty known as the Marketplace Fairness Act.  This Heather has two mommies.

The purported logic behind the MFA is simple:  The ability, via the Internet, to buy products and services across state lines without paying a state sales tax, puts in-state businesses, that must collect state sales tax from their customers, at an unfair competitive disadvantage. Continue Reading »

Adieu to the Blue: Time to Write Off the Blue States?

I write today from Cordova, a small suburban town outside Memphis Tennessee, where I am attending my adorable niece’s wedding.  I am also, for the first time since my last visit, nine years ago, enjoying a real shower, the kind where the water just skooshes out in a broad, forceful torrent that blasts, as much as washes you clean, with the invigorating pinpricks of steaming wonderfulness that I’d almost forgotten.  In New York City, where I have been living for over 30 years, the City long ago outlawed such showerheads, to be replaced by newfangled “energy saving” showerheads that restrict the water flow so much that one feels almost grateful for each slow-moving droplet that manages to make it through. Continue Reading »

Israel’s Rise: Dream Realized, or Prophecy Fulfilled?

Sometimes even the scientist, if he is truly as open-minded as scientists claim to be, must open his mind and look beyond.

Almost precisely a year ago, Egypt announced that it would cut the amount of natural gas it would sell to Israel.

And little more than a week ago, production began at the Tamar offshore natural gas field.  And just two days ago, a German newspaper reported that the estimated capacity of the Tamar field has been raised, by a full trillion cubic feet. Continue Reading »

Fun with Obamacare

Suspecting that I raised a few conservative eyebrows with this article’s title, let me clarify from the outset that I do not support Obamacare.  On the contrary, I fervently believe that this horrible new entitlement must – and will – be torn out by its roots, stomped to a bloody pulp and consigned forever to the legislative hell whence it came.

But that doesn’t mean one can’t exploit – and some fun – with the law in the meantime.  After all, it’s not often that one is gifted with a law so badly conceived, so convolutedly written, that one can use the law to one’s advantage and bring it down at the same time. Continue Reading »

Israel: Never Mind the Palestinians, Talk to the Saudis

Next month, President Obama will be making his first trip to Israel since becoming president, a trip that “is almost certain to raise expectations for the type of peace initiative that eluded Obama and his foreign policy team during his first four years in office.” Continue Reading »

You Got Your Tax Increase, Dems, Now Show Us the Money

The so-called fiscal cliff has been avoided, at least for the time being, and all it cost was a tax rate increase on the nation’s most productive taxpayers.  Of course, conservatives are disappointed, but one also needs to appreciate that with all the Bush tax rate decreases set to expire automatically, Democrats had Republicans over a barrel.  That being the case, Republicans didn’t do so badly, considering.  The higher rates that would have kicked in at incomes above $250,000 (for marrieds, $200,000 for singles) will instead apply only to incomes above $450,000 (for marrieds, $400,000 for singles).  And the formerly temporary Bush rates on incomes of $450,000 and below, have now been made permanent. Continue Reading »

Boehner’s Blunders, Rope-a-Dem and (Not) Raising the Debt Ceiling

The attacks on House Speaker John Boehner followed quickly and furiously (not to be confused with Operation Fast and Furious) on the heels of what had to have been a painful vote for House Republicans.  But just as President Obama believes that at some point, one has made enough money, this writer believes that at some point, one has sufficiently beaten a dead horse.  Or a live speaker.  So now that the barely re-elected and clearly chastened, has stood before the House and delivered a near-tearful mea culpa, what say we hold off on further criticism and focus our efforts on the more useful task of analyzing what Boehner did wrong, learn from his mistakes and use what we’ve learned to strengthen his hand moving forward. Continue Reading »

Liberalism’s Critical Mass

When the people find that they can vote themselves money, that will herald the end of the republic. – Benjamin Franklin

In 1938, famous psychologist and behaviorist, B.F. Skinner introduced the concept of “operant conditioning,” after a series of experiments in which:

Skinner found that he could train pigeons and other animals to do particular behaviors in exchange for a reward, namely food. His experiments consisted of placing a pigeon in a cage with a lever.  When by chance the pigeon pecked at the lever, it was rewarded with a pellet of food.  Consequently the pigeon continued to peck at the lever to get more pellets of food. Continue Reading »

What If Vicki Soto Had Been Armed?

After more than a decade of exploding gun ownership – and the accompanying and indisputable plunge in violent crime, including those committed with guns that accompanied it – the formula, more guns = less crime – has been proven.  Only liberals dwelling in the parts of America that still preach and practice strict gun control, where “fewer guns = more crime,” continue to argue the contrary. Continue Reading »

What’s Wrong with Regular Order?

Today (12/9/12), Politico is reporting that, “This afternoon, the President and Speaker Boehner met at the White House to discuss efforts to resolve the fiscal cliff.”

I object.  I object to the secrecy.  More than that, I object to Boehner “negotiating” with the president at all.  And regarding the quotes around negotiating, that’s because, so far, the Speaker seems to be negotiating only with himself, which, to me, is kind of like calling masturbation, sex.  Well, except that masturbation at least produces a conclusive, hopefully pleasurable, outcome. Continue Reading »

A Way to “Fiscal Cliff” Victory

Perhaps, the National Republican Committee should create a new position, Pointer-out of the Obvious.  Or how about, Victory from Jaws of Defeat Puller?  Well, whatever they call the new position, if they create it, I would like to apply.

On the other hand, I could also be the VFJDP’s first customer because, it would seem, my ability to miss the obvious is as good as anyone’s. Continue Reading »