Martin Luther King’s Conservative Legacy

http://www.heritage.org/research/reports/2006/01/martin-luther-kings-conservative-legacy

It is time for conservatives to lay claim to the legacy of the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. King was no stalwart Conservative, yet his core beliefs, such as the power and necessity of faith-based association and self-government based on absolute truth and moral law, are profoundly conservative. Modern liberalism rejects these ideas, while conservatives place them at the center of their philosophy. Despite decades of its appropriation by liberals, King’s message was fundamentally conservative.

If the GOP wants to win the next round of fiscal debates, maybe they should adopt some of Obama’s tactics

Marc A. Thiessen, writing in the Washington Post, urges the GOP to act more like its chief antagonist, President Obama.  First, the President put forward a questionable stimulus package (which all indicators seem to show, didn’t work).  He did so over a chorus of objections from the minority party.  But he held fast.  Next, the President pushed a massive (and arguably far too costly) health care reform.  At the time, the GOP (and America) was stoutly against

(Source: Pool/Getty Images North America)

Obamacare, and offered a high-profile rebuke of his planned policies by electing Scott Brown (in Massachusetts of all places).  What did he do?   He pushed it through anyway.  Eventually, he was rebuffed in 2010 when the house was taken over by the GOP in a history defeat which made 1994 seem mild.  No matter, President Obama pushed forward.  (Perhaps there’s something to that motto of his: “Forward.”)  Whether you agree with his principals or not, Obama sticks to them…come what may.  Marc Thiessen says that this pattern should be followed by the GOP in the looming budgetary fights:

Republicans should take a page from Obama’s playbook, do what they think is right, use all the leverage at their disposal and stop worrying about the electoral consequences. If they learn anything from Obama’s victories, it should be this: Voters reward conviction politicians who fight for what they believe in — even when they disagree with them. Pandering does not work.

The GOP’s next test comes in a few weeks time, when the deadline to raise the debt limit is reached. Democrats are gearing up to demand $1 trillion in new taxes as the price for any spending reductions. Republican leaders have said that they will not accept any more tax increases, [period — and that spending cuts are the price for a debt-limit increase.

Obama will be forgiven if he sees this as a bluff. Let’s hope he is wrong.

In the last debtlimit showdown, Republicans set an important benchmark with the “Boehner rule” — requiring at least one dollar in spending cuts for every dollar in debt limit increase. This is the absolute floor of what the GOP should demand. Unlike the fiscal-cliff standoff, Republicans hold all the leverage in the debt-limit fight — because Obama cannot allow the country to default. Republicans should emulate Obama and use their leverage without hesitation — demanding deep spending cuts and structural reforms to entitlements as the price for any increase in borrowing authority.

Make no mistake: If the roles were reversed, Obama would not hesitate to use the threat of default to break his political opposition. He didn’t flinch from using the threat of a recession to force Republicans to break their no-tax pledge. He didn’t hesitate to use arcane parliamentary strong-arm tactics to pass Obamacare. Obama uses every ounce of political power at his disposal to get what he wants. It’s admirable, really. He has core beliefs and is willing to put everything on the line for them.

It’s time that Republicans did the same. If the GOP wants a path out of the political wilderness, they should start acting more like the current occupant of the Oval Office.

Racism at the Times « Commentary Magazine

http://www.commentarymagazine.com/2012/12/19/racism-at-the-times/

We’re Facing a Moral Cliff

http://www.realclearpolicy.com/articles/2012/12/20/were_facing_a_moral_cliff_384.html

“I Am Adam Lanza’s Mother”

An interesting article published in Gawker.com approaches the tragic Connecticut shooting from a different perspective.  The author, who believes she has a son who suffers from similar mental challenges that Adam Lanza suffered from, argues that we should focus less on gun control and more on mental illness policy.  After describing the challenges that have faced her son throughout his life, she leaves the article with the following:

I don’t believe my son belongs in jail. The chaotic environment exacerbates Michael’s sensitivity to sensory stimuli and doesn’t deal with the underlying pathology. But it seems like the United States is using prison as the solution of choice for mentally ill people. According to Human Rights Watch, the number of mentally ill inmates in U.S. prisons quadrupled from 2000 to 2006, and it continues to rise—in fact, the rate of inmate mental illness is five times greater (56 percent) than in the non-incarcerated population.

With state-run treatment centers and hospitals shuttered, prison is now the last resort for the mentally ill—Rikers Island, the LA County Jail and Cook County Jail in Illinois housed the nation’s largest treatment centers in 2011.

No one wants to send a 13-year-old genius who loves Harry Potter and his snuggle animal collection to jail. But our society, with its stigma on mental illness and its broken healthcare system, does not provide us with other options. Then another tortured soul shoots up a fast food restaurant. A mall. A kindergarten classroom. And we wring our hands and say, “Something must be done.”

I agree that something must be done. It’s time for a meaningful, nation-wide conversation about mental health. That’s the only way our nation can ever truly heal.

God help me. God help Michael. God help us all.

You can give a boy a doll, but you can’t make him play with it

In an extremely interesting article from the The Atlantic (posted by the American Enterprise Institute), Christina Sommers discusses the recent trend in Europe to make everything “gender-neutral.” In particular, she focuses on Sweden and it’s recent foray into compelling toy makers to publish their catalogs as gender-neutral.

boys and girls, on average, do not have identical interests, propensities, or needs. Twenty years ago, Hasbro, a major American toy manufacturing company, tested a playhouse it hoped to market to both boys and girls. It soon emerged that girls and boys did not interact with the structure in the same way. The girls dressed the dolls, kissed them, and played house. The boys catapulted the toy baby carriage from the roof. A Hasbro manager came up with a novel explanation: “Boys and girls are different.”

This may seem like an obvious conclusion, but for some reason, many in Europe seem to continue to struggle with it. It seems like the main issue involves the age old debate regarding nature and nurture: is it the societal strictures that force girls to play with dolls and boys to play with guns? As it turns out, there are studies that demonstrate a strong link to predetermined, biological factors that influence specific boy and girl preferences.

Biology appears to play a role. Several animal studies have shown that hormonal manipulation can reverse sex-typed behavior. When researchers exposed female rhesus monkeys to male hormones prenatally, these females later displayed male-like levels of rough-and-tumble play. Similar results are found in human beings. Congenital adrenal hyperplasia (CAH) is a genetic condition that results when the female fetus is subjected to unusually large quantities of male hormones—adrenal androgens. Girls with CAH tend to prefer trucks, cars, and construction sets over dolls and play tea sets. As psychologist Doreen Kimura reported in Scientific American, “These findings suggest that these preferences were actually altered in some way by the early hormonal environment.” They also cast doubt on the view that gender-specific play is primarily shaped by socialization. Professor Geary does not have much hope for the new gender-blind toy catalogue: “The catalog will almost certainly disappear in a few years, once parents who buy from it realize their kids don’t want these toys.” Most little girls don’t want to play with dump trucks, as almost any parent can attest. Including me: When my granddaughter Eliza was given a toy train, she placed it in a baby carriage and covered it with a blanket so it could get some sleep.

The most disturbing observation from the article relates to how one professor views the preferences of boys versus girls:

Hunter College psychologist Virginia Valian, a strong proponent of Swedish-style re-genderization, wrote in the book Why So Slow? The Advancement of Women, “We do not accept biology as destiny … We vaccinate, we inoculate, we medicate… I propose we adopt the same attitude toward biological sex differences.” Valian is absolutely right that we do not have to accept biology as destiny. But the analogy is ludicrous: We vaccinate, inoculate, and medicate children against disease. Is being a gender-typical little boy or girl a pathology in need of a cure? Failure to protect children from small pox, diphtheria, or measles places them in harm’s way. I don’t believe there is any such harm in allowing male/female differences to flourish in early childhood. As one Swedish mother, Tanja Bergkvist, told the Associated Press, “Different gender roles aren’t problematic as long as they are equally valued.” Gender neutrality is not a necessary condition for equality. Men and women can be different—but equal. And for most human beings, the differences are a vital source for meaning and happiness. Since when is uniformity a democratic ideal?

I would recommend reading the entire article. There are numerous points that are made which show how this type of thinking is not only flawed, but dangerous for the progression of both genders.

Conservatism in practical terms

Harvey Mansfield in an interview this week in the Wall Street Journal argues for the case of limited government. Contained in that interview is a good set of quotes critiquing the current trend for conservative purity:

“The Republicans should want to recover the notion of the common good,” Mr. Mansfield says. “One way to do that is to show that we can’t afford the entitlements as they are—that we’ve always underestimated the cost. ‘Cost’ is just an economic word for the common good. And if Republicans can get entitlements to be understood no longer as irrevocable but as open to negotiation and to political dispute and to reform, then I think they can accomplish something.”The welfare state’s size isn’t what makes it so stifling, Mr. Mansfield says. “What makes government dangerous to the common good is guaranteed entitlements, so that you can never question what expenses have been or will be incurred.” Less important at this moment are spending and tax rates. “I don’t think you can detect the presence or absence of good government,” he says, “simply by looking at the percentage of GDP that

government uses up. That’s not an irrelevant figure but it’s not decisive. The decisive thing is whether it’s possible to reform, whether reform is a political possibility.

“Then there is the matter of conservative political practice. “Conservatives should be the party of judgment, not just of principles,” he says. “Of course there are conservative principles—free markets, family values, a strong national defense—but those principles must be defended with the use of good judgment. Conservatives need to be intelligent, and they shouldn’t use their principles as substitutes for intelligence. Principles need to be there so judgment can be distinguished from opportunism. But just because you give ground on principle doesn’t mean you’re an opportunist.”

Conservatism, as has been covered from time to time in this blog, requires a certain degree of pragmatism. We must be principled by simultaneously strategic on how and when we fight our battles.