The Chris Christie path vs. the Rand Paul path

Washington Post political columnist Chris Cillizza has written an interesting column saying that the Republican Party must choose between two different paths, as represented by two likely presidential candidates:  the moderate pragmatism of New Jersey governor Chris Christie; or the purist small-government principles of  Kentucky senator Rand Paul.

Mr. Cillizza casts the Rand option in terms of being more conservative.  In doing so, I think he completely misses what Rand Paul represents.  He is a libertarian, appealing strongly to young people and the politically-disaffected.  But he is also pro-life.  He is also the peace candidate, stealing that issue from the left.

Someone who can attract the internet crowd and pro-lifers and free market business types and evangelicals and peaceniks and the Tea Party and the Occupy Wall Streeters has the makings of a paradigm-breaking and very formidable candidate. [Read more…]

Lack of belief as an identity

Brendan O’Neill himself does not believe in God, but he has written a piece entitled How atheists became the most colossally smug and annoying people on the planet – Telegraph Blogs.  After rehearsing the various ways atheists have become obnoxious, he offers a rather penetrating analysis of why that is:

So, what’s gone wrong with atheism? The problem isn’t atheism itself, of course, which is just non-belief, a nothing, a lack of something. Rather it is the transformation of this nothing into an identity, into the basis of one’s outlook on life, which gives rise to today’s monumentally annoying atheism. The problem with today’s campaigning atheists is that they have turned their absence of belief in God into the be-all and end-all of their personality. Which is bizarre. Atheism merely signals what you don’t believe in, not what you do believe in. It’s a negative. And therefore, basing your entire worldview on it is bound to generate immense amounts of negativity. [Read more…]

Social mobility requires social capital

You know the American Dream, that in this country if people work hard and grab their opportunities they can pull themselves up by their own bootstraps and find material success?  Or, put another way, that America is a land of social mobility, where poor people can newly-landed immigrants with a just dollar in their pockets can rise to the highest levels of wealth and status?

Well, America has been doing worse than other countries when it comes to social mobility.  What happened?  Among other reasons, according to columnist Fareed Zakaria, is our loss of “social capital.”  That is, the breakdown of American families. [Read more…]

When the president does it, it’s not illegal

Those who oppose Obamacare may well be glad that the President keeps delaying the implementation of parts of the law (namely, the employer mandate and the limits on out-of-pocket expenses).  But there is a deeper issue:  The law says that these measures are to go into effect in 2014.  But now the President says, “no they won’t.”  By what authority can the President just change a Constitutionally-enacted law?

George Will says that the President’s increasing habit of by-passing Congress, ignoring laws, and legislating by Executive fiat is an example of the flagrantly unconstitutional principle affirmed by Richard Nixon :  “When the president does it, that means it is not illegal.” [Read more…]

Letting churches endorse candidates?

A commission is recommending to Congress that churches and other  501(c)(3) nonprofit organizations be allowed to endorse political candidates without losing their tax-extemptions.  Here is the report.  Details after the jump.

I decry the politicization of churches.  And yet I also decry the federal government using the tax code to squelch political speech, which seems to me to deserve particular protection under the 1st Amendment.  Which also protects religious liberty, and some religions do emphasize political action, whether from the right or from the left.

What do you think about this? [Read more…]

City vs. Suburbs

Retiring baby-boomers are increasingly moving away from their houses in the suburbs to condos in the city.  This makes sense.  Single and just-married adults living in small apartments when just starting out, then moving to larger homes, more space, and better schools in the suburbs when their family grows.  Then, when the nest is empty, moving back to smaller, lower-maintenance apartments when they reach retirement age.  With both the young and the old liking a stimulating environment close at hand with less driving.

But this hasn’t happened all that much until lately, and it goes along with some interesting demographic changes.  Poverty is up 64% in suburbs, twice the rate as in cities.  And the crime rate is falling in cities and rising in the suburbs.

Why do you think that is?  What can be done to improve suburbs?  Or make cities habitable for families?  And where do small towns fit into all of this? [Read more…]