Posts Tagged ‘wrong right’

Andrew Sullivan, “The Conservative Soul”

I’ve got a review in today’s New York Post of Andrew Sullivan’s new book, The Conservative Soul: How We Lost It, How To Get It Back. A brief excerpt:

The “conservatism I grew up with,” notes Sullivan, stood for “lower taxes, less government spending, freer trade, freer markets, individual liberty, personal responsibility and a strong anti-communist foreign policy.” Defining figures such as Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher spoke regularly of human freedom as the great aim of political life. “It has long been a fundamental conviction of the Republican Party,” declared the 1980 GOP platform, “that government should foster in our society a climate of maximum individual liberty and freedom of choice.”

Somehow from there we arrived at the presidency of George W. Bush, whose pronouncement on the state’s proper role – “When someone hurts, government has got to move” – owes more to LBJ than to Barry Goldwater.

Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum brusquely waves aside “this whole idea of personal autonomy,” this “idea that people should be left alone, be able to do whatever they want to do.” Ex-Democrats of the McGovern-Dukakis era once popularized the line “I didn’t leave the party, the party left me”; if the Santorums prosper, plenty of old-line Republicans will be ready to sing the same refrain.

(Walter Olson, “Reforming the Right”, Nov. 5). Andrew Sullivan responds here.

“Erototoxins” as next tobacco

Judith Reisman, a peripheral yet oddly influential figure in social-conservative circles who is perhaps best known for her attacks on the late sex researcher Dr. Alfred Kinsey, has taken up a new cause: proving that exposure to pornography causes the release of injurious “erototoxins” in the human brain. Reports Britain’s Guardian:

Under the auspices of Utah’s Lighted Candle Society (LCS), Reisman and Victor Cline, a clinical psychologist at the University of Utah, began raising money from American conservative and religious organisations. They hope to raise at least $3m to conduct MRI scans on victims under the influence of porn and so prove their theories correct. They foresee two possible outcomes: if they can demonstrate that porn physically “damages” the brain, that might open the floodgates for “big tobacco”-style lawsuits against porn publishers and distributors; second, and more insidiously, if porn can be shown to “subvert cognition” and affect the parts of the brain involved in reasoning and speech, then “these toxic media should be legally outlawed, as is all other toxic waste, and eliminated from our societal structure”.

(Mark Pilkington, “Sex on the brain”, Jul. 14). Rogier Van Bakel (Nobody’s Business) has much more on Reisman (Jul. 21). (& welcome Andrew Sullivan, Instapundit readers).

Church and state

George Will has some sensible comments (“The Christian Complex”, syndicated/Washington Post, May 5). Christopher Hitchens, considerably more incendiary, begins by channeling Barry Goldwater (“Why I’m Rooting Against the Religious Right”, WSJ/OpinionJournal, May 5).

A machine built for complaining

Justifying government penalties for broadcasters, Federal Communications Commission head Michael Powell cited a surge in public complaints of on-air indecency — hundreds of thousands of complaints in all. “What Powell did not reveal — apparently because he was unaware — was the source of the complaints. According to a new FCC estimate obtained by Mediaweek, nearly all indecency complaints in 2003 — 99.8 percent — were filed by the Parents Television Council, an activist group.” (Todd Shields, “Activists Dominate Content Complaints”, MediaWeek, Dec. 6; Jeff Jarvis, BuzzMachine, Dec. 7).

Election roundup: the White House

Speaking only for myself and not for Ted (and obviously not for anyone else either), I’m among those who believes George W. Bush doesn’t merit re-election, though I supported and in fact actively advised his campaign the first time around. For some of the reasons, check the links in this Oct. 5 post. Foreign policy and defense blunders aside, the last thing I wanted was an administration combining aggressive social conservatism with uncontrolled spending and big new government programs.

Some Bush strategists have seemed confident that secular-minded supporters of small government and individual liberty — a rather important constituency, historically, within the Republican Party — would have nowhere to go this fall, since it’s not as if the record of Sen. John Kerry inspires confidence. But there are places to go, if not especially attractive ones. Prof. Richard Epstein of the University of Chicago School of Law, whose scholarship has inspired so many of us, says he plans to vote for the Libertarian nominee (true, as Megan McArdle points out, the nominee in question appears to be a barking moonbat, but the point of a Libertarian vote is to send a well understood protest message that stands apart from personalities). My favorite syndicated columnist, Steve Chapman of the Chicago Tribune, is actually planning to cast a Democratic presidential ballot for apparently the first time in his life (“Why I’m voting for John Kerry”, Oct. 24). Chapman quotes Cato’s Dave Boaz making perhaps the strongest argument that can be made for the Democrat on domestic policy: “Republicans wouldn’t give Kerry every bad thing he wants, and they do give Bush every bad thing he wants.” The Detroit News, meanwhile, editorializes in favor of none of the above. Finally, for balance, here’s a link to Coyote Blog, run by a small businessman who says he’s going to support Bush as a “single-issue voter” motivated by the subject matter of this website, that is to say, the need to reform the litigation system.

Malpractice discussion wrap-up

Over at Point of Law, the featured discussion has now wrapped up between Dr. Ron Chusid of Doctors for Kerry and our own Ted Frank on the presidential race and medical malpractice reform. If you haven’t looked at the exchange yet, you’ll find that it conveys a wealth of information about the state of the medical liability debate. Not surprisingly, I found Ted persuasive in arguing that Bush has the sounder position on this issue (which still doesn’t mean I’m going to vote for him).

Update: Virginia primitive, take 6

More developments regarding Virginia’s antigay law, much criticized in this space (see May 31 and links from there): the state’s Attorney General, Jerry Kilgore, has put forth an opinion (which of course does not bind the courts) construing the statute narrowly so as not to restrict persons of the same sex from entering private contractual arrangements that convey any “rights or privileges not exclusive to the institution of marriage”. (“The law”, Style Weekly (Richmond magazine), Jun. 30; Lisa Provence, “Not gay: Marriage affirmation sparks protests”, The Hook (Charlottesville), Jul. 17; Adrian Brune, “ACLU to challenge Va. union ban”, Washington Blade, Jul. 16). The law is already being cited by some attorneys as reasons why persons in Virginia should be considered free to disregard not merely civil unions, but even court orders arising out of such unions, originating in other states. Attorneys for Lisa Miller-Jenkins, who recently moved to Virginia from Vermont after the breakup of a civil union in the latter state, are citing the Virginia law to justify their client’s reported refusal to comply with a two-month-old Vermont court order awarding her former partner, Janet Miller-Jenkins, rights to visit the daughter born to Lisa during their time together. “State law forbids Virginia courts from handling legal custody and parental rights disputes if proceedings are already under way in another state.” (Calvin R. Trice, “It’s Virginia vs. Vermont in custody case”, Richmond Times-Dispatch, Aug. 14; Justin Bergman, “Judge delays ruling on jurisdiction in lesbian custody battle”, Newport News Daily Press, Aug. 13; Jonathan Finer, “Custody Case Puts Lesbian Civil Union On Trial”, Washington Post/National Constitution Center, Aug. 7)(via Tim Hulsey). And some gay residents of the Dominion have reacted to the law by deciding to move away. Update Aug. 25: Va. judge takes jurisdiction of custody case notwithstanding court order (Washington Post). More background on case: Washington Blade, Aug. 20. Further updates Dec. 16 (I challenge conservative commentator David Frum’s description of the case); Aug. 26, 2006 (Vermont Supreme Court rules against Miller); Nov. 29, 2006 (Virginia appeals panel, reversing lower court, rules against Miller).

Find this man a dictionary

“‘I don’t think censorship is a bad word, but it has become a bad word because everybody associates it with some kind of restriction on liberty,’ said Mr. [Pat] Boone, who is in Washington making the rounds as the national spokesman for the 60-Plus Association, a conservative senior citizen lobby.” (Steve Miller, “Censorship in arts ‘healthy,’ Boone says”, Washington Times, Apr. 21)(via TMFTML).