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Swearing Off Blegging



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I’ve written two columns in a row now with no blegging, which much be some sort of personal record. Which reminds me belatedly to thank everyone for the Dixie Chicks/country music e-mails. This was my column on it, very inadequate to the topic, which deserves a couple of thousand words.

Yes, I Should Have Looked



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An emailer who can use his browser (unlike, evidently, me) writes:


It looks to me like one of those photos is at the bottom of the left-hand column on the whitehouse.gov hompage. It would be hard to make a link to this photo any easier to find.

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A Reader’s Good Point (Disclosure: I Have Not Gone Looking...But If The Rnc Does Send Out Posters, I Should Be On The List, Ya Hear?!)



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If the White House is as intent on using the Lincoln photos of Bush in a
flight suit for publicity as some leftists are claiming why can’t I find an
easy link to them on www.whitehouse.gov? I wanted to bookmark them for easy
inspiration and print one for my “I’m living through one of history’s
turning points” file.

Web Briefing: December 21, 2014

What If They Gave a Protest and Nobody Came?



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Funny and sad article in the Washington Times today, reporting on how frustrated the civil rights establishment is at the refusal of immigrant minorities to act like victims. “Black politicians … haven’t been able to get [black immigrants] to buy into what white America is all about, about what white privilege is,” complains William Spriggs, executive director of the National Urban League Institute for Opportunity and Equality. “Many immigrants are not even aware of the ‘color line’ that prevents minorities from excelling, other panelists said in amazement.” Oh, how tragic it is to have a false consciousness of opportunity. The Times reports that “about 40 people” showed up at the grandiloquently titled “Spirit of Democracy Symposium on Diversity.”

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Flying Monkeys!



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Here I Am



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Sorry I’m late posting something to the Corner this
morning. I’ve been curled up in my prayer closet drinking Grey Goose and
prune juice and mulling over the fact that Jonah said “p-[CENSORED BY THE K-LO POLICE] off” live on
CNN this morning, thereby scandalizing Bill “Opie” Hemmer, and provoking him
to chastise our man. Dang, let Bill Bennett fade from the scene and public
morals among conservatives go right into the crapper (can you say that on
NRO?). ;-)

Correction/Clarification



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As readers of NRO know full well, I have clearly and repeatedly announced my opposition to sodomy laws. I did so two years ago, in “The Ashcroft-Logger Alliance,” and did so again recently in “Defending Senator Santorum,” http://www.nationalreview.com/kurtz/kurtz042403.asp and in “Sullivan, Santorum & Me.” In fact, I do so again in my new piece for NRO today, and do so on yet another blog I’ve put up today on The Corner. Despite all this, I am sorry to say that one of my fellow NRO Contributing Editor’s, Deroy Murdock, has written a column that condemns me for my supposed support of sodomy laws. In the column he refers to, “The Libertarian Question,” I do explain the rational for sodomy laws, but I never, as he claims, argue that they should “remain on the books.” In fact, in that piece, I specifically separate my views from those of Senator Santorum. And again, as noted, I have clearly and repeatedly announced my opposition to sodomy laws in many other pieces. I have asked both Deroy and Scripps Howard to issue a public correction on this matter.

From a Reader



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Dude, where’s my corner? My guess:

Goldberg: Trying to explain to Cosmo why it is not hypocritical to avoid hitting squirrels with the car, just a little inconsistent.

The Derb: Trapped fending off radical libs somewhere in Northern CA

Stuttaford: Saving all his best material for the weekend, and/or chowing down on some marmite.

Dreher: THE GUY DOESN’T WORK HERE ANYMORE, HE’S IN DALLAS NOW, STOP FORCING HIM TO POST TO THE CORNER!

Miller: Rejoicing in the Piston’s OT win last night

Ponnuru: Formulating a plan to privatize the lottery

Kurtz: Thinking about how best to configure his “triple posts” (it is well known that Stanley’s corner posts come in threes)

Cosmo: Suffering through one of Goldberg’s “Hypocrite v. Inconsistent” tirades

Churchill & Consistency



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Professor Gary Glenn also sends in the following passage on Burke from Churchill’s essay, “Consistency in Politics:” “No greater example can be found in this field than Burke….On the one hand he is revealed as the foremost apostle of Liberty, on the other as the redoubtable champion of Authority. But a charge or political inconsistency applied to this life appears a mean and petty thing. History easily discerns the reasons and forces which activated him, and the immense changes in the problems he was facing, which evoked from the same profound mind and sincere spirit these entirely contrary manifestations….No one can read the Burke of Liberty and the Burke of Authority without feeling that here was the same man pursuing the same ends, seeking the same ideals of society and Government, and defending them from assaults, now from one extreme, now from the other.” What strikes me here is that the necessary tension in Burke’s thought between Liberty and Authority has been unstrung for our contemporary libertarians, who tend to credit only one side of the equation. That is why their demand for abstract consistency is troubling.

Burke Scholar On Burke & Consistency



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Apropos of yesterday’s discussion of Edmund Burke and the problem of consistency in matters political, professor Gary Glenn, a Burke scholar, sends the following thoughts: “In the practical world, Burke…thought prudence a greater good than abstract, theoretical consistency. Moreover, abstract consistency is not the same as practical consistency. A defender of Burke’s practical consistency…said that Burke changed his front but did not change his ground. Something like that is in the right direction for someone who has responsibility for acting in the real world. The demand to do to North Korea what we did to Iraq is ideological, not practical. It implies that either one should do nothing to rid the world of evils or that, having rid the world of one evil, one should be willing to rid the world of all evils. It’s demand for an abstract consistency, rather than a practical consistency, absorbs practical judgement about what is possible her and now into the metaphysic of an undergraduate. Burke thought…that the real world is too complicated and intractable to reform and be governed in that manner.” This is not a matter of justifying arbitrary practice, adds Glenn, but of consistently pursuing the right goals, even when that requires a temporary change of tactics or direction.

A Roadmap



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In my piece today, I explain why I draw the policy lines I’ve described. But the point is, the position I outline in my piece applies to heterosexual cohabitation, as well as homosexuality. In general, the key battle now, as I see it, is to stop the devolution of marriage into an infinitely flexible contractual system. That covers a whole range of issues that go well beyond homosexuality, although gay marriage is clearly the issue that is driving the larger process. My oft-stated concern about legalized polyamory, of course, is fundamentally a concern about heterosexuals, not homosexuals. The same applies, by the way, to my critique of reproductive cloning, with its potentially disruptive effect on family structure. And of course, my several defenses of Waite and Gallagher were about heterosexual marriage.

It’S Not All About Homosexuality



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In my NRO piece today, I explain why I think we need to accept many of the liberalizing changes in marriage and sexuality since the sixties. Yet I also draw lines against too many more such changes. My key example involves heterosexuals, not homosexuals. I accept the post-sixties practice of premarital cohabitation, but I don’t want to see the government grant cohabitation legal recognition (as is now being proposed). I have the same mixture of positions on the question of homosexuality. I oppose sodomy laws and favor our post-sixties shift toward tolerance for homosexuality, but I also oppose gay marriage.

The Marriage Movers



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Third, Sullivan asks why pro-marriage types often ignore attempts to strengthen divorce laws but oppose gay marriage. Actually, pro-marriage types like Linda Waite and Maggie Gallagher (whose book I defended repeatedly when Harvard refused to publish it) do favor divorce reform. Yet Waite favors gay marriage while Gallagher opposes it. In general the marriage movement is much more divided on gay marriage than Sullivan implies. Some traditionalists want to move back to the fifties on the question of divorce. I see that as neither possible nor desirable. A waiting period in contested divorces involving children (a Waite-Gallagher suggestion) is a promising idea, however.

Again, I Say to You...



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Yesterday Andrew Sullivan asked me to clarify several apparent contradictions in social conservatism. First, he asks, “Why is it ok to allow sodomy for straight people but not for gays?” For the umpteenth time, I state that I do not approve of sodomy laws–for anyone–and would like to see them repealed, legislatively. I have explained the underlying rationale for sodomy laws, but I do not myself believe that these laws are a good idea and would like to see them eliminated. Second, Sullivan asks why hate crimes laws are okay for every group except gays. But I do not like the idea of hate crimes laws–for anyone.

Dudes, Where’s My Corner?



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I think some of us confused today with Christmas or something. Where are we? I promise all you loyal readers now forced to do work for your employers we’ll make it up to you–check out the homepage in the meantime, buy a t-shirt, subscribe…you know there’s tons to do without leaving NRO.

My Nobel Vote



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K Lo: My Nobel Peace Prize vote goes to Oswaldo Paya Sardinas, the man behind the Varela Project in Cuba. There’s already a campaign on his behalf, supported by Czech president Vaclav Havel.

Lotteries, Again



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Tom from Florida “takes umbrage” at being called innumerate for playing the lottery:

He says he knows that “the odds are about 1 in 23 million…but that it’s still fun to bet $5 or so on a long shot,” a point echoed by a number of other readers.

Meanwhile, on the subject of governments pushing ‘vice’, how about state-run liquor stores? Judging by the remarks from a correspondent in Pennsylvania, the ones there sound peculiarly depressing: “high prices, less selection and employees in the Cliff Claven mold.”

Also...



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He promises not to expose the round-the-clock games of caribbean stud poker and pai gow taking place in my basement.

For The Record



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Josh Green of The Washington Monthly got in touch with me and says the transcript I posted below is either wrong or that he misspoke. Green stands by his $8 million dollar net loss assertion as reported in his article.

Consistency and Paradox



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From a reader:


Hey Jonah,

Don’t you dare back down on the tyranny of consistency, the twin of the tyranny of hypocrisy!

This is something that’s bugged me for a long time, one of the main causes behind e.g. “Something so ridiculous only an academic could believe it.”

One thing that doesn’t seem to get mentioned often is the difference between a contradiction and a paradox. A paradox is only a seeming contradiction, based on incomplete knowledge. Take Zeno’s paradox, for example, (where the hare can never catch up to the tortoise, because the tortoise will always have moved forward by the time the hare catches up to where he was; related to not being able to cross a room because you are always halving the distance, etc.). The paradox was thought up to prove Xeno’s idea that motion and change are mere illusions. We have a contradiction, therefore the premise must be false.

The point, of course, is that apparent contradictions or inconsistencies may only prove a lack of knowledge or understanding (in Zeno’s case, of differential calculus).

In philosophy, the idea is to sit in a dark room and understand the universe using reason alone. In science, the idea is to ask “OK, what actually happens” i.e. do an experiment and see what reality says about your ideas. I’ll take reality over intellectual consistency any day (although, of course, most scientists are perhaps a bit distant from reality).

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