Sunday, September 14, 2008

Read Alan Stewart Carl ...

... exclusively at Donklephant.

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Thursday, March 30, 2006

I'm back.... and staying in the Middle of it all

I doubt anyone still checks this site, but like Alan, I'm back.

Alan's thoughts on his first year as a blogger reminded me of how much I, too, missed the outlet that blogging provides. Since TYL was Alan's child, I thought it best to come back on my own. And, I could think of no place I'd rather be than in The Middle of DC.

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

I'm Back. But Not Here.

O.k., so announcing my retirement was clearly premature. It was more of a hiatus.

And now I'm back. But not here. Instead, I've started a whole new blog called Maverick Views. It's less focused on Centrism than was TYL and more focused on discussing politics and culture from outside the partisan bubbles.

Hope to see y'all there.

Friday, December 23, 2005

Merry Christmas

To all those who might still bother to pop into The Yellow Line, have a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. Also, a Happy Hanukkah to those of the Jewish faith and just a plain ole Happy Holidays to those who are neither Christian nor Jewish but still enjoy participating in this season of giving.

Come 2006, I may just emerge out of retirement. I have sufficiently decompressed and am feeling the urge to share my thoughts with the world again--albeit with only one post every day or so. Gotta pace myself.

Wanna know what I think about this "War on Christmas" faux debate? I think it's a rather disgusting use of the word "war," particularly while many Americans are fighting a real one. I think the secularization of Christmas is not due to some dark liberal plot but instead due to the nature of capitalism (Saddly, Santa sells better than Baby Jesus so stores use Santa).

But I do think our culture too often takes political correctness to absurd ends. And I think groups like the ACLU tend to overreact to what is usually very light mingling of religion and government. We don't need an absolute divide.

But in the end, as long as someone is wishing me well, I'm a happy guy.

And I wish you all well in this season that is blessed for many and fun for all.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Gay Marriage Is All About Values

Cross-Posted on the Moderate Republican:

One thing I've been thinking about was a letter to the editor that showed up in today's Minneapolis Star Tribune. It's an argument that I hear all the time concerning gay marriage. I used to agree with it, but I don't anymore. The impetus of this is a column written by the Strib's token conservative columnist, Katherine Kersten (being center-right in my politics, I like to see conservative writers, but I perfer ones with brains. Ms. Kersten doesn't have one. Or a heart for that matter) that talks about how Canada is sliding towards Gommorah because of it's support for gay marriage. Whenever people start talking about gay marriage, you will hear an argument from our side. Here's an example:

Katherine Kersten states that the proposal to preserve same-sex marriage will be one of the biggest issues of the next legislative session. If so, shame on us.

We have children without health care, traffic congestion, working parents unable to afford housing, and underfunded schools. If we allow ourselves to be diverted and avoid the real moral issues before our state, how can we kneel in prayer before the God who calls us to lives of justice and compassion?

Now, there was a time in my life that I would have agreed with this writer. But I don't anymore. Why? Because what this person is saying basically is that gay marriage doesn't matter. It isn't a moral issue. We have more important things do deal with than two guys getting hitched. The message this line of thinking sends is that gay marriage isn't important. If we are saying that to the general public, you know what happens? The general public will listen.

The fact is gay marriage does matter. It matters to millions of gay Americans who have or are intending to have a life partner, someone to share their lives with. It matters when one person in gay couple gets sick and the other person can't visit because he's not a legal relative in the eyes of the state. It happens when one partner can't get the other's social security benefits when the other one dies. It matters.

A few weeks back, Log Cabin President Pat Guerriero was in town. My friend and fellow Republican, Mark, was able to get him on a local radio station that has a lot of conservative programming. He shared a story of two gay men in Vermont who have been partnered for 50 years. One served his country in war. The other was a teacher. They are both in their 80s. One is very ill and will die soon and as it stands now, the surviving spouse won't get the dying man's social security benefits.

That is a moral issue. These two men have given of themselves to help others and this is how society treats them.

The anti-gay crowd have one thing right about this issue. They know it matters and will do what it takes to stop gays from marrying and hopefully put us back in the closet. Why are we and our allies so scared to deal with this honestly and say this is about values and morals? How can one be moral and deny people things like seeing a sick partner?

Maybe it's easier for me because I'm somewhat more conservative, but values do matter. Not the one that the religious right spouts, but the values my parents taught me about being kind to people and tolerant of others.

I think we need to start talking about values. Getting married is a value. It matters and it's important. We need to start acting like it is.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

And Costco Democrats?

The positive thinking continues apace. Here is the companion piece to the Weekly Standard article on "Sam's Club Republicans." It's a Washington Monthly collection called The New Progressivism.

Again, I highlight this partly because there are some worthy ideas - I particularly like Kevin Drum's proposal to shift the burden of identity theft from consumers to banks. But I also want to point out that the smart folks in both parties are coming up with some very similar suggestions.

The partisan age we're in is going to crumble. It's just a matter of time.

Yet another tax proposal... guest blogger Micah over at Seth Chalmer's place. This one is labeled "The Progressive Consumption Tax," and it is intriguing. Basically, it's a tax on bank withdrawals, with the tax rate going up based on the amount of withdrawal per year. So it's not a sales tax per se, but rather a tax on cash spent.

There are complications, some of which Micah accounts for - most notably, how to incorporate the (good) deductions we currently have, such as health care and business expenses. Read it, and give 'em some feedback.

More talking points...not

The Daily Kos gets more attention, but the best big Democratic blog by far is the Talking Points Memo Cafe. The range of views expressed there, especially by the featured bloggers, is far more diverse than what gets featured at Kos. And the best part of tpmcafe is their Book Club, which actually features intelligent people engaging in passionate, well-supported arguments over policies, ideas, and visions for the future.

Right now, they're debating Gene Sperling's book The Pro-Growth Progressive, and oh boy has this one lit up the place. For anyone interested in discussing economic policies at a level beyond "Higher taxes! Lower taxes!", this is a must-read.

Bad Laws from the Blue and the Red (a post-election rant)

Technically, I’m retired from blogging, but yesterday’s election results have managed to irritate me enough to prompt a brief return to this forum. Two jurisdictions, one “red” the other “blue”, passed laws that are just plain foolish and demonstrate the narrowing of thought that can occur no matter where people fall on the ideological spectrum.

The first case comes from San Francisco where the city’s residents passed a law banning the possession of handguns and ammunition within the city. Residents will not even be allowed to have a gun in their own homes.

I am continuously amazed with liberals who will scream bloody murder anytime they see the First Amendment being infringed but pretend like the Second Amendment doesn’t exist. We can’t pick and choose which amendments we like best. And while I know guns are pretty dangerous things and that the Second Amendment is oddly worded, any serious study of that amendment will reveal that our Founders wanted to ensure we could own a gun. Free speech is dangerous too. So is giving violent criminals fair trials where they can get off on a technicality. Our Founders knew that freedom comes with risk and enshrined that balance in the Constitution. The people of San Francisco have no authority to override the Second Amendment anymore than early twentieth century Mississippi had the authority to override the 14th and 15th.

I could go on about the ineffectiveness of such laws (see: Washington, DC) but there’s more irritating election results to discuss, so let’s move on.

Good ole’ San Francisco also passed a measure encouraging high school and universities to ban military recruiters. I have no problem with people who protest the war. But this kind of action (and this is hardly the first case of it) is abhorrent. First, it assumes that young men and women are too stupid to make up their own minds and have to be “protected” from the big bad military. Secondly, it is a clear violation of freedom of speech and association to ban one employer but allow all others access. What would San Franciscans say if a conservative city banned Disney from recruiting because of that company’s gay-friendly attitudes? They’d be outraged. Just as those of us not trapped in liberal groupthink should be outraged that San Francisco would approve of such a measure.

Finally, let’s move on to my home state of Texas where my friends and neighbors just passed an amendment to the state constitution banning homosexual marriage. This was clearly a very pressing issue that had to solved before the state addressed our crumbling public health system and piss-poor schools.

I know I’m in a minority here, but how in the world is gay marriage a threat? Really? And don’t give me that b.s. about “slippery slopes” and how gay marriage would lead to polygamy and bestiality and god-knows-what. All those other examples involve exploitative relationships where one person is exercising depraved power over another. That’s not the case with homosexual relationships which are formed through mutual love.

Do we as a nation not support mutual, loving relationships? Is commitment between two people that abhorrent that we have to run out and ban the act? Our culture is not threatened by accepting loving, committed relationships. Our culture is threatened when we pretend such relationships are evil—when we exploit religion and inflame prejudice and pretend we are saving ourselves. We are saving nothing.

And don’t tell me the Bible condemns homosexuality. The bible condemns loaning money too and we aren’t rushing to the polls to ban banks. In fact, the Bible barely mentions homosexuality and, when it does, many Biblical scholars will tell you that the references were directed to the Greek and Roman practice of older men coercing adolescent boys into sexual relationships. That clearly is immoral. But consensual love between two men or two women is not a sin and is not condemned in the Bible.

Outside of scripture itself, why would anyone want to believe that God would let two people fall in love and then condemn that love as sin? Where does Jesus or any of his disciples ever claim love to be a sin? They don’t. And that’s the moral guidance I choose to follow.

I may be wrong. Who knows. But if I’m going to err in this world, I’d rather err on the side of mercy and grace. I wish the people of my state felt the same. Apparently, there’s still a lot of convincing to do.

Thank you for reading this rant.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Paris (and Normandy, and Toulouse) is Burning

Cross-posted on the Moderate Republican:

As the Paris suburbs, heck as most of France, is awash in violence, I've been doing some thinking and listening. I believe that there are lessons for both liberals and conservatives in the wake of the recent fighting.

First, the liberals. Those on the Left tend to look to Europe as some kind of heavenly realm where the government takes care of everything and there is no poverty or racism as there is in the United States. Some (not all) Europeans were quick to criticize the US after the chaos that erupted in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina. Both the leftists here and Europeans have looked at the United States as a nation with a broken social model that is dog-eat-dog.

I'm not here to say the US has a better system. We clearly have problems, as Katrina showed, but the fires in the French Republic show that, at least in France, there is still much work to do on social issues. The riots have revealed what was in our faces and especially white French faces all along: an underclass of persons of color who face very little opportunity for economic freedom.

It also revealed something conservatives have known for a long time: that government alone can't solve all the problems. This is from an editorial in today's Washington Post:

It's also too facile to say that French authorities have ignored the problems. Billions have been spent on urban renewal: High-rise projects have been torn down and enterprise zones created, much as in some American inner cities. As in the United States, interlinked problems of jobs, schools, crime and discrimination have not easily yielded to government solutions. Yet until now, many in France assumed that what they regard as a superior "social model" protected them from the eruptions of lawlessness that in recent years have touched Los Angeles, Miami and New Orleans.

This isn't to say that government has no role in alleviating poverty. But thinking that having "Big Government" as the French clearly do will solve it the problem is foolish. The size of government matters less than the effectiveness of it, and it seems that the French government hasn't done as well in that effect.

Now to Conservatives. When it comes to matters of race, conservatives want to believe in the concept of "colorblindness," meaning government should not consider race in government programs. Being a Republican, I resonate with that ideal. However, in reality, what works in theory doesn't work in practice. France has followed that model, basically saying everyone is French not regarding one's ethnic background. The results have not been pleasant. From the Post editorial:

[French Interior Minister] Mr. Sarkozy recently suggested that France abandon the pretense that all of its citizens -- including an estimated 5 million Muslims -- are treated equally, and adopt affirmative-action policies.

Conservatives here have wanted to role back Affirmative Action policies. I can understand that. As an African American, I've benefitted from these policies, but also resent that they exist since they put race right up front. But I think it is a pipe dream to think that Americans can just be, well Americans. For African Americans, we have had a history of racial discrimination that has presented itself in many ways, including employment and education. If we abandoned affirmative action tomorrow, I doubt that schools and workplaces would continue to be diverse and try to help disadvantaged populations. A fellow conservative friend of mine who is Asian American said it best: you have to correct a bias with a bias. American society can't just say to African Americans as well as other ethnic groups, "You're free," and the walk away. There is still the problem of inequality that has to be addressed. This is what has happened in France and we can see what happened.

Listen, I don't like affirmative action, but at least for now, we still need it. (I would mend it though to be more sensitive to help raise poor blacks and whites out of poverty, since now it seems to benefit minorities with means more.) Conservatives who think that everything will be rosy if affirmative action were to dissappear are kidding themselves.

It will be interesting to see how France works all this out. Let's hope for the best.