Friday, December 20, 2002

Sarah Wildman (site requires registration) says that Senator Jeff Sessions is "worse than Lott" on race. I'm sure that she and other liberals would love to disqualify everyone who isn't politically correct from running for office, but the problem with this argument is that Sessions is not the Majority Leader. Lott didn't resign from the Senate, and shouldn't have. I'm sure that the people of Mississippi will give Ms. Wildman's points the weight they deserve in his next campaign.

Lott has resigned. Bill Frist looks like the replacement. I just heard Pete Domenici call for an early meeting of the caucus and election of Frist by acclamation.

Thursday, December 19, 2002

Well, it seems that the right is cracking into accusatory groups arguing over Trent Lott. It seem to me that this is really a disagreement between idealists and practical politicians. On one side there are those who think that if you don't demand that Lott be damned to hell, you're going too easy on him and must therefore be of racist tendencies yourself. There are others who see his gaffe as a quirk common to most Southern whites of his generation or earlier which just the way they are. These mostly call for his dismissal as Majority Leader because it harms Republican efforts to reach out to minorities. Others still think it is all being overblown and is being misinterpreted.

I've shifted phase throughout the spectrum, because I don't think it's right to condemn someone for a single statement. There are lots of commentators, however, who have dug up all kinds of examples to prove Lott's a closet klansman. These sound to me like liberals or former liberals to whom political correctness is second nature.

It would be nice if the world could be so simple. But I can't help thinking that these would prefer it if all southern whites above a certain age would just stay out of politics, which is juvenile in its impracticality. I'm uncomfortable with thought crimes, and I suspect that Lott's words were just nothing more than a way of showing affection for Strom Thurmond, not a political comment on his whole career. Nevertheless, I don't really care what other convervatives and libertarians think about this issue. I just wonder what will happen if Lott remains in spite of the lynch mob atmosphere.

Republicans will have to live with it, and continue to make their principled case. I just hope Lott won't give away the store in trying to make up to blacks and Democrats.

Glenn Reynolds writes, in response to a Johah Goldberg column which, in turn, is a response to a Charles Krauthammer column:
I might be one of those "Stephen Green" conservatives who support gay marriage, drug legalization, cloning research and the elimination of excise taxes on alcohol (actually, I made that last one up, but I imagine Stephen would be willing to add it to the platform). But I don't think many more traditional conservatives would count that.

Mostly, I'm a proud member of the anti-idiotarian party -- which is growing by leaps and bounds, as best I can tell. And which, judging by the likes of Sean Penn and Trent Lott, won't lack for targets anytime soon.

This is the kind of intellectual taxonomy that I find tiresome. Neocons, traditionalcons, paleocons, whigs and libertarians--it's a frenzy of pigeonholing. I don't know why people do this, except as a kind of shorthand which is useful in dismissing someone you don't agree with on a particular issue. I agree with much of what Glenn Reynolds writes, but I disagree with him on drugs, alcohol (which is really a drug) and homosexual marriage, but I agree with stem cell research. I agree with most of what Virginia Postrell writes, but I think Jonah is a little too cheeky and glib for someone his age.

I'm a Mormon, and that carries with it a certain number of conservative principles. For example, I don't believe in abortion, not because it's murder (sometimes it is, sometimes not), but because it is rarely justified on the grounds of health or rape. Usually it's a means of terminating an inconvenient pregnancy, which is the result of irresponsible conduct.

I've become a Prohibitionist where alcohol is concerned from observing the price society pays for it in deaths on the highway, broken homes, spouse and child abuse and other idiotic conduct. If we have to have a legal drug, I'd prefer that it be marijuana than alcohol.

I suppose that in Krauthammer's formulation, I'm a traditional conservative, as long as that excludes Pat Buchanan. I believe in three core values: freedom, duty and tolerance. Freedom is essential to the purposes of life, growth and testing. Duty is essential to a successful society, especially one founded on democracy. Tolerance is required by secularism and freedom. The interplay of these principles can't be defined once and for all, but we have to honor them all. Too much freedom is bound to harm others, even when it only involves "victimless" crimes. The reason this is so is that we all owe duties of citizenship to our society, to respect the rights of others, to participate in self-government, to become educated and informed and to be self-reliant and contribute to the betterment of society. Tolerance is also a duty stemming from the concept of individual rights. I strongly believe in the following, written by the prophet, Joseph Smith:
Behold, there are many called, but few are chosen. And why are they not chosen?

Because their hearts are set so much upon the things of this world, and aspire to the honors of men, that they do not learn this one lesson�that [authority] . . . cannot be controlled nor handled only upon the principles of righteousness. That [it] may be conferred upon us, it is true; but when we undertake to cover our sins, or to gratify our pride, our vain ambition, or to exercise control or dominion or compulsion upon the souls of the children of men, in any degree of unrighteousness, behold, the heavens withdraw themselves; the Spirit of the Lord is grieved; and when it is withdrawn, Amen to the . . . authority of that man. Behold, ere he is aware, he is left unto himself, to kick against the pricks, to persecute the [innocent], and to fight against God.

We have learned by sad experience that it is the nature and disposition of almost all men, as soon as they get a little authority, as they suppose, they will immediately begin to exercise unrighteous dominion. Hence many are called, but few are chosen.

No power or influence can or ought to be maintained by virtue of [one's position], only by persuasion, by long-suffering, by gentleness and meekness, and by love unfeigned; by kindness, and pure knowledge, which shall greatly enlarge the soul without hypocrisy, and without guile�reproving betimes with sharpness, . . . and then showing forth afterwards an increase of love toward him whom thou hast reproved, lest he esteem thee to be his enemy;

This is part of Mormon scripture dealing with the exercise of ecclesiastical authority, but the principles apply to other authority as well.

Even when we are required to use coercive methods, as in the case of police or soldiers, it must be done with the right spirit. We can disagree and argue, but we can never let incivility and anger get the better of us.

Wednesday, December 18, 2002

Josh Marshall, flush with being credited for bringing Trent Lott so much grief, is now trying to do the same to John Ashcroft. However, the quotes he posts from an interview with Southern Partisan magazine, are not akin to what Lott said. Ashcroft was criticizing the revisionism that has infected the African American community that denounces George Washingtion and Thomas Jefferson by applying modern sensibilities to them, as if everyone in the 18th century were NAACP members and these two were resisting the tide.

By these standards, FDR was a vicious anti-semite. Remember that the revisionists are also calling Abraham Lincoln a racist, as well. (Of course, he was. He was a Republican, wasn't he?)

Shelby Steele's take on the Lott scandal. I think that Lott's refusal to totally denounce and renounce segregation and the Dixiecrat platform suggests that he deserves what he's getting.
The senator's many apologies--perhaps more than his original gaffe--have revealed him to be a man who has troubled himself very little with self-examination where race is concerned. And now, in racial crisis, he has no inner anchoring to call on.. . .

But in the end a man cannot be redeemed by a moral equivalence. That those who ask Sen. Lott to imagine beyond his race do not do so themselves is no consolation. The senator is probably a more moral man and thus a better conservative today than he was two weeks ago, but moral calculus is more forgiving than political calculus. He is now so politically compromised that in his Black Entertainment Television interview he declared "across the board" support for affirmative action, vowed to rethink his support for Judge Charles Pickering, and agreed to a "civil rights tour" with Rep. John Lewis.


As for Bush's refusal to call for Lott's resignation, it's entirely appropriate. The President shouldn't be seen to be trying to control internal matters of the Senate. He's made clear what he thinks of Lott's gaffe. It's now up the Lott's fellow Republicans to do what they should in order to rescue their declining credibility.

I know I've waffled somewhat on the seriousness of Lott's big blurt, but it's more out of a desire to be forgiving and to give him the benefit of any doubts that remain. He still deserves that, but not enough to remain Senate Majority Leader. I believe in repentance and forgiveness, but they don't entitle us to escape the consequences of our sins. Forgiving someone is not the same as condoning the evils he has done.

A Solomon come to judgment! John Oltsik lists the 10 best (worst) hype jobs of 2002, including "customer relationship management," i.e. making your customers think that you don't really see them as sheep; and security FUD:
To gain attention, suppliers quote statistics with the sole purpose of scaring the pants off prospective buyers: "In 2001, more than 30 vulnerabilities were discovered each week."

Terry Eastlund credits the Blogosphere, in part, for changing (literally) the Times.

Fox News Channel reports that the weapons inspectors in Iraq are reckless drivers. They go everywhere at 90 mph and have had two wrecks so far. I suppose they're trying to give the Iraqis as little time as possible to move the incriminating evidence, but this is ridiculous. They look more like the Keyston Kops than a serious U.N. (Oxymoron Alert!) delegation.

A recent poll suggests that there is more depth to the Republican win this year than anyone realized. The big question is, can they keep from screwing it up and alienating the new supporters?

Fox News Channel's Special Report with Brit Hume raised an interesting point on Lott this evening. Fred Barnes and Brit Hume pointed out that Lott has made similar remarks in the past, but only when Strom Thurmond was present, indicating that Lott was just engaging in a little collegial flattery. If that is the case, all he had to do when the matter first came up was to say so and flatly deny all the inferences. There would still be a lot of offense taken, but I think it would have been contained. The problem was that it didn't sound like a josh, but a spirited appeal to Rebel pride. Then he compounded it by his insincere and mealy mouthed "explanations."

I'm willing to give him the benefit of the doubt as to the charges of racism, but he handled the matter incompetently and has now promised to support affirmative action to try to save himself. He has made too much of a mess of this to continue to lead the Republicans in the Senate. He may have earned his position by being a good soldier, but now he's a casualty and should let someone else lead the troops.

Tuesday, December 17, 2002

Tom Bray analyzes why Republicans need to make Lott step down. I agree with him, including the points he makes about Democrat hypocrisy in calling Republicans racists.

Monday, December 16, 2002

Ya think the Al Gore story will knock Lott off the above-the-fold? One thing about reading blogs, NPR doesn't have much real news any more. (Sorry I left out the links, but the story is all over the place.)

Instapundit has it about right. I remember when the civil rights laws were being debated in the 1960's the issues of states' rights and federal police power were being made by conservatives then, not because they were racists, but because they feared the growth and centralization of power in the federal government.

Both sides were right. Something did need to be done, because white Southerners and their politicians were intransigent. On the other hand, the federal government has grown both in personnel and power over states. Much of this was aided by the concept that if the states aren't doing their own jobs "correctly" then the Feds must step in. The Civil Rights movement also gave rise to a large number of activist organizations, most of which have nowhere near the moral authority that Martin Luther King and his associates had. If proved that grassroots movements could overthrow the established order. Now we have PETA and its ilk making nuisances of themselves with disobedience, civil and criminal, and lawsuits. Almost any idea about the way society should be can be made emotionally compelling with the same kinds of arguments which won in the civil rights arena for human beings. And anybody clearthinking enough to see the distinction can readily be denounced as a bigot.

Hard cases make bad law. The Civil Rights laws passed in the 1960s were necessary. But much of what has followed in their wake, such as "affirmative action," was not, and has harmed African Americans by discounting their ability to succeed without a lowered bar.

I write all this because we are now being polarized along a multitude of axes (plural of axis) by activists who have enlisted the liberal establishment for their causes. We should have known that not all differences require federal intervention and resisted the urge to try to undo every supposed injustice with a federal program. I believe that governmental powers should be restricted to the most local level they can be. I also believe that all "gifts" from the government come with strings attached, and we are rapidly becoming puppets.