Mayor Giuliani is calling on the Republican Party to redefine itself as "the party of freedom," focusing on lower taxes, school choice, and a health care system rooted in free market principles. Delivering a policy-driven overview of his presidential platform yesterday, Mr. Giuliani outlined the agenda in a Washington speech before a conservative think tank that sought to make clear distinctions between his vision and that of the Democrats, if not his rivals for the Republican nomination in 2008. The former New York mayor's proposed redefinition of the Republican platform would signal a shift away from any focus on social issues, on which Mr. Giuliani is much less ideologically aligned with the party.Conventional wisdom has it that Giuliani's liberal stance on social issues will alienate the Republican Party's "conservative base". These concerns may be overblown - consider these results from an ABC News/Washington Post poll released today. Among those polled leaning Republican, Giuliani beat his main rival John McCain decisively in the following categories: most inspiring (65% vs 21%), strongest leader (63% vs 26%), most electable (55% vs 34%), and "closest to you on the issues" (44% vs 29%). Furthermore, among all voters polled (both Republican and Democrat), Giuliani is rated favourably by 64 % and unfavourably by 28%. By contrast, Hillary Clinton is rated favourably by 49% of all voters polled, and unfavourably by 48%. This seems to suggest that Giuliani has more appeal to centrist Democrats than Clinton has to centrist Republicans, so the so-called "conservative base" may not be as big a factor as it is made out to be in Republican circles. Let's hope so!
Tuesday, February 27, 2007
Tuesday, February 20, 2007
Names with bad spelling:
Mitchall, Mayson, Jaxon, Troi, Johnathan, Allayna, Micheal
Boys' names that sound like soap-opera characters:
Tanner, Chase, Colton, Grayson, Braydon, Austin, Lane, Bowen, Ryker, Ryder, Riley, Trent
Girls' names that sound like soap-opera characters:
Ashlee, Jadyn (or variants Jaydan, Jaden), Scarlett, Aislynn, Morgan, Allayna, Hayden, Kaydin, Haillie
First names which used to be surnames:
Regan, Ryker, Mackenna, Cooper, Hunter
Bizarre girls' names:
Liberty, Zoah, Etney, Autumn, Charley
Names of kids destined to be CEOs and cabinet ministers:
James, Adam, Emmett, Emily, Claudia, Graham, Rachel, Rebecca, Olivia, Thomas, David, Jacob
So, prospective parents: the future is in your hands. Name your kids responsibly.
Thursday, February 15, 2007
With "Radicals for Capitalism," Brian Doherty finally gives libertarianism its due. He tracks the movement's progress over the past century by focusing on five of its key leaders--Ludwig von Mises, F.A. Hayek, Ayn Rand, Murray Rothbard and Milton Friedman. The emphasis is on their ideas, but Mr. Doherty also takes into account their personal struggles--not least their feuds with other thinkers and their relation to an intellectual establishment that for most of their lives thought they were either crazy or irrelevant or both.
Libertarian ideas have enjoyed a surge of respect lately, helped by the collapse of Soviet central planning, the success of lower tax rates and the appeals of various figures in popular culture (e.g., Drew Carey, John Stossel and Clint Eastwood) who want government out of both their bedroom and wallet. Even so, libertarianism is often not the people's choice. Part of the problem is the inertia of the status quo. "In a world where government has its hand in almost everything," Mr. Doherty writes, "it requires a certain leap of imagination to see how things might work if it didn't." Many people couldn't make that leap when, for example, economists proposed channeling some Social Security payroll taxes into private accounts.
Wednesday, February 14, 2007
365 Gay reports that the National Assembly of Nigeria is debating a bill that would ban gay marriage and criminalize virtually all forms of gay expression in Nigeria. Gay sex is already punishable by imprisonment in the Christian south and by death in the Muslim north, but the bill goes further:
"Any person who is involved in the registration of gay clubs, societies and organizations, sustenance, procession or meetings, publicity and public show of same sex amorous relationship directly or indirectly in public and in private is guilty of an offence and liable on conviction to a term of five years imprisonment.''So what is the Anglican Church of Nigeria's position on this bill? The Archbishop of Nigeria, Peter Akinola, under whose leadership the break-away American parishes have placed themselves, had this to say:
The Church commends the law-makers for their prompt reaction to outlaw same-sex relationships in Nigeria and calls for the bill to be passed since the idea expressed in the bill is the moral position of Nigerians regarding human sexuality.OK - religious qualms about gay marriage are one thing, but this is ridiculous. North American Anglicans should be outraged and embarrassed.
(h/t:Average Gay Joe )
Tuesday, February 13, 2007
It was big news when the rate of melting suddenly doubled in 2004 as ice sheets began moving more quickly into the sea. That inspired predictions of the imminent demise of Greenland’s ice — and a catastrophic rise in sea level. But a paper published online this afternoon by Science reports that two of the largest glaciers have suddenly slowed, bringing the rate of melting last year down to near the previous rate. At one glacier, Kangerdlugssuaq, “average thinning over the glacier during the summer of 2006 declined to near zero, with some apparent thickening in areas on the main trunk.”Howat also writes that the recent melting of the Greenland glaciers is consistent with historical patterns, and is unlikely to cause a catastrophic rise in sea levels:
Greenland was about as warm or warmer in the 1930’s and 40’s, and many of the glaciers were smaller than they are now. This was a period of rapid glacier shrinkage world-wide, followed by at least partial re-expansion during a colder period from the 1950’s to the 1980’s. Of course, we don’t know very much about how the glacier dynamics changed then because we didn’t have satellites to observe it. However, it does suggest that large variations in ice sheet dynamics can occur from natural climate variability. The problem arises in the possibility that, due to anthropogenic warming, warm phases will become longer and more severe, so that each time the glaciers go through a period of retreat like this, they won’t fully grow back and they will retreat farther the next time.
Tuesday, February 06, 2007
The measure would require couples to prove they can have children to get a marriage license. Couples who do not have children within three years could have their marriages annulled. All other marriages would be defined as "unrecognized," making those couples ineligible for marriage benefits.
The petition is a publicity stunt, of course, but it does point out the logical flaws in this particular anti-gay-marriage argument.
Friday, February 02, 2007
First, the British case. In January, Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor issued an ultimatum to Prime Minister Blair. He said that placing children with same-sex couples was against the teaching of the Church, and that Catholic adoption agencies would be closed unless they were exempted from the Equality Act, which outlaws discrimination against homosexuals by businesses and organizations in the public provision of goods, facilities and services. The Anglican Archbishops of Canterbury and York supported the Catholic position, even though Anglican adoption agencies already provide services to gay couples. British Muslim clerics have recently issued statements of support for the Catholic policy. Blair initially seemed to favour a legislative exemption, but faced with opposition from civil libertarians and members of his own Labour Party, he was forced to back down. The British government's position now is that no organization will be exempt from the law. Supporters of the church see an unconscionable infringement on their own freedom of religion.
The paramount concern in this case should be the best interests of the children involved. No one disputes that children raised by two parents do better than those raised by single parents or by no parents, and yes, ideally every child should have a male and a female parent and role model. However, there is no credible scientific evidence to suggest that the sexual orientation of the parents has any adverse effect on the children they raise. And anyway, in the case of many of the adopted children at issue here, the alternative to being placed with a gay couple is not to be placed at all. Are people seriously saying that it would be better for a child to be raised by the state in foster care than to be placed with a loving gay couple in a stable home?
There is, however, a financial issue at stake. The Catholic Church in Britain receives public money to run its adoption agencies, both in the form of subsidies and in the tax breaks it receives as a charitable organization. Organizations that receive public money must obey the law - we can't have a system that provides funds from the public purse to groups that will not obey the law. If, however, the Church was a completely private organization receiving no public money, a case could be made for an exemption: no one would be discriminated against in the provision of a public service in such a case. I doubt, however, that the Church will voluntarily give up this funding to maintain its principles - it would rather shut down its adoption agencies completely.
In the case of Orville Nichols, the Saskatchewan marriage commissioner who refused to marry a gay couple, the same principle applies. Mr. Nichols is not a clergyman, and he is not performing private religious ceremonies. He is technically a government official who is providing a public service. If the law of the land says that gay couples have the right to marry (which they do in Canada), then no public official has the right to deny that service based on his private religious beliefs. If he cannot in good conscience marry gay couples, he should resign his commission. Citizens cannot pick and choose which laws they will obey and which they would ignore, even if they disagree with them. We would not accept, for example, a Muslim male government employee who refused to provide services to female customers, because that is illegal in Canada. Why make an exception in this case? With all due respect to Mr. Nichols & his beliefs, no one is trying to change the way he thinks or the religious principles he supports - he is free to worship the religion of his choice, and his church should be allowed to privately marry whomever it chooses. Public services must be available to everyone without discrimination - end of story.
One last thing - please keep the comments civil.
Thursday, February 01, 2007
Machiavelli wrote in chapter XVII: On cruelty and mercy and whether it is better to be loved than to be feared or the contrary. I think President Bush and Prime Minister Harper should heed this advice while trying to deal with the mess in Iraq and Afghanistan and the carping from malcontents at home:
From this arises an argument: whether it is better to be loved than to be feared, or the contrary. I reply that one should like to be both one and the other; but since it is difficult to join them together, it is much safer to be feared than to be loved when one of the two must be lacking. For one can generally say this about men: that they are ungrateful, fickle, simulators and deceivers, avoiders of danger, greedy for gain; and while you work for their good they are completely yours, offering you their blood, their property, their lives, and their sons, as I said earlier, when danger is far away; but when it comes nearer to you they turn away. And that prince who bases his power entirely on their words, finding himself stripped of other preparations, comes to ruin; for friendships that are aquired by a price and not by greatness and nobility of character are purchased but are not owned, and at the proper moment they cannot be spent. And men are less hesitant about harming someone who makes himself loved than one who makes himself feared because love is held together by a chain of obligations which, since men are a sorry lot, is broken on every occasion in which their own self-interest is concerned; but fear is held together by a dread of punishment which will never abandon you....
When the prince is with his armies and has under his command a multitude of troops, then it is absolutely necessary that he not worry about being considered cruel; for without that reputation he will never keep an army united or prepared for combat.