Can Marco Do the Job?

In the CNBC debate, Governor Jeb Bush damaged his campaign by attacking Senator Marco Rubio’s missed votes. In part, Bush harmed himself by taking a picayune line of attack. After all, would you notice if one of your U.S. Senators was missing 30% of his or her votes? We live in political gridlock that renders pointless much of Congress’ activities. The second reason his attack harmed his campaign lies in the characteristically deft manner in which Rubio answered the charge. Like a man punching at the air after sustaining a staggering uppercut, Bush parroted the criticism of Rubio’s missed votes for days afterward, even as his poll numbers fell inversely to Rubio’s. Now, with a more solid footing, the bloody-nosed Bush insists upon taking down his protege with attacks on his youth and inexperience. This new line of attack reveals an unbecoming characteristic Jeb shares with his brother, George–mulishness in the face of failure. Attacking Rubio’s inexperience can only work if Republicans demonstrate that we have similarly failed to learn from Barack Obama’s presidency that experience has very little bearing on political success.

 

To be sure, judging a senator’s tangible accomplishments proves a difficult task. Senators’ primary responsibilities include participating in committees, crafting legislation, analyzing policy and voting. To that end, Rubio served on the Senate Commerce, Science, & Transportation Committee; the Committee on Foreign Relations; the Committee on Small Business & Entrepreneurship; and the Select Committee on Intelligence. He worked with Mike Lee to craft a tax plan and worked with seven other senators to create a comprehensive immigration plan. In short, he’s been hard at work.

 

Furthermore, Governor Bush cannot be allowed to escape his own words in 2012, when he urged Republican presidential nominee, Mitt Romney, to consider Senator Rubio for the vice president position.

 

“Marco Rubio is my favorite [choice],” Bush told Charlie Rose in a PBS interview. “He has more experience than Barack Obama had when he ran, and…he’s certainly got the intelligent acumen and fortitude to be a good president.”

 

Bush made these remarks when Rubio had even less experience than he has now. But, regardless of whether one believes that Mr. Rubio possesses enough governmental experience to be president, the very nature of the question neglects one of the most important lessons of the Obama presidency: governmental experience doesn’t matter.

 

Barack Obama ascended to the presidency after voting “present” throughout his short stint as Illinois’ junior senator. In office, Obama passed sweeping health insurance reform, redefined marriage, named two Supreme Court justices and filled the federal judiciaries with liberal judges. His lack of experience, in other words, did nothing to prevent him from serving the leftist agenda. Similarly, whatever experience Mr. Rubio has (or lacks) in 2016 will be irrelevant as he stares down 31 of 50 Republican governors, 68 of 98 Republican controlled state legislative houses, and a Republican House and Senate.

 

What should matter most to Republicans, and to Mr. Bush in particular, are the nominee’s values. More important than an incoming president knowing where the payroll department is located, is a president who knows that an expansive federal government shrinks individual freedom, that American retreat invites anti-American advances, and that expanding opportunity for all Americans will help us grow our way out of our economic stagnation and general malaise.

 

Again, Rubio meets these criteria.

 

As the campaign goes forth, I hope that Mr. Bush abandons his inane attacks on Rubio. At least, if Bush refrains from doing so in the upcoming debates, he can avoid suffering further embarrassing  tongue-lashings from a man he named “the most articulate conservative elected official on the scene today.”

 

We shall see.

Hey, Democrats: Check Your Privilege!

Any upwardly mobile black American can tell you that to succeed, we must be twice as good as our competitors. That’s because historically, the very institutions that worked as gatekeepers to certain avenues of success worked especially hard at discriminating against us. Successful blacks recognize discrimination, swim upstream against it, and achieve in spite of it. Unsuccessful blacks too often use injustice as an excuse for underperformance and bad choices. While both groups may openly castigate this discrimination, one group acts, while the other simply complains. What does this have to do with the CNBC Republican Debate, you might ask.

Everything.

By every measure, the CNBC hosts conducted an awful debate: John Harwood snidely asked Donald Trump if he was running “a comic book version of a presidential campaign.” He also sarcastically asked Carly Fiorina, who, like the rest of her Republican competitors, wants to greatly simplify the tax code, if she intended to shorten the tax code by “using really small type.” Carl Quintanilla badgered Marco Rubio for missing votes, asking, “do you hate your job?”

The moderators’ disrespect and contempt for conservative Republicans oozed through in every exchange–so much so, that the audience frequently booed them.

Compare this treatment to that which the Democrats receive on a regular basis. When did Anderson Cooper, in the CNN debate, ask if Bernie Sanders was running a “comic book campaign?” Did anyone challenge the math behind any of the Democrats’ tax plans or schemes to provide health care and college for “free?” Is Marco Rubio more ambitious than Hillary Clinton? Quintanilla challenged the premise of Rubio’s candidacy, asking if he was seeking higher office simply to placate an unchecked ego. How would Mrs. Clinton answer that question? We’ll never know.

In the liberal vernacular of race relations, this phenomenon is called white privilege. The idea is, whites enjoy less scrutiny and benefit disproportionately from favorable treatment. Blacks who decry white privilege are shouted down, told they are imagining things, or are simply ignored. Nevertheless, the results of privilege manifest themselves plainly, and to overcome this obstacle, blacks must work extra hard.

Similarly, Democrats benefit from institutionalized privilege. Carly Fiorina faces tough scrutiny for her time manning the helm of HP during an economic downturn, while Hillary Clinton earns lavish praise for the easier task of winning a Senate seat in liberal New York. Acclaimed neurosurgeon, Ben Carson, parries relentless media attacks on his intelligence, while Bernie Sanders receives no questioning about his honeymoon to the Soviet Union–a nation that worked to murder Americans as it had so many of its own people.

Without a doubt, media scrutiny represents the greatest struggle a candidate must overcome to achieve political success. In a free society, such should be the case. In this free society, one political party enjoys a pass–liberal privilege. Ask the gatekeepers, like Eric Altermann, about liberal media privilege, and they hedge and obfuscate and insist that discrimination is in the eye of the beholder.

So be it, bigots.

Republican, Booker T. Washington, famously writes in “Up from Slavery” that “success is to be measured not so much by the position that one has reached in life as by the obstacles which he has overcome while trying to succeed.” Americans instinctively know the truth in this timeless statement. Republicans should, therefore, keep this in mind as we move forward. While the media works, as Rubio puts it, as the Democrats’ Super PAC, we cannot forget that a Republican president will be facing this very same hostile liberal media while in office. Simply complaining about discrimination, rather than working to succeed in spite of it is a recipe for defeat and victimization. Instead, I urge Republicans to rest assured that as we weather these storms of media discrimination, our nominee will be that much stronger than the Democrats’, because he or she will have had to work twice as hard.

 

Political Math

Imagine, if you will, a Venn Diagram in which the left circle (A) represents virtuous Americans who possess strong leadership skills, intelligence, amiability, and the ability to comprehend and solve complex problems. Let the right circle (B) represent Americans willing to have their reputations muddled, their words distorted, and their personal failings broadcast and analyzed by strangers ad nauseum. From the circles’ overlap (AᑎB) we choose our party nominees and eventually, our president.

 

Americans universally agree that media sensationalism and emphasis on scandal scares people in Circle A away from politics; leaving the American public to choose leaders from a throng of celebrities and empty narcissists. This election cycle, Republican candidates have weathered particularly biased media coverage and distortion. From detailed examinations of Marco and Jeannette Rubio’s moving violations, to Scott Walker’s educational credentials, to things Dr. Ben Carson did or didn’t say; media has provided the very cynical coverage that is so universally detested.

 

A prime example of this malfeasance regards coverage of Jeb Bush’s “stuff happens” remarks.

The Miami Herald’s Leonard Pitts wrote one of the less braindead pieces about Bush’s comments, a piece that begins:

 

“And the Bush family’s War on English continues.”

 

Pitts goes on to compare Bush’s “callous” remarks to a “stink bomb in the flower bed.” He calls them “dismissive,” and lectures Bush–and conservatives–about why the comment is so reprehensible.

 

“‘Stuff happens’?…It doesn’t happen like this in Great Britain. It doesn’t happen like this in Brazil. It doesn’t happen like this in Israel…It would behoove us to try and figure out what other countries know that we do not.”

 

Take away the fact that none of these countries’ history, culture or philosophy match our own, and that most of us would rather live in an American ghetto than a Brazilian favela, and Pitts simply penned a typically thoughtless liberal response to gun violence. So what makes his article “less braindead?” He acknowledges that Bush’s “callous” comments were taken out of context.

 

The story of Bush’s “stuff happens” comment started with the New Yorker’s Ryan Lizza tweeting the two words out of context. News media pounced. President Barack Obama and presidential candidate Hillary Clinton scolded Bush over this account of Bush’s “indifference” to gun violence. When asked about his statement, Bush doubled down. Republican and independent voters, donors, and Bush supporters, who hadn’t the time to research the full quote; or who were depressed by the barrage of negative press were likely to be less enthusiastic about Bush in light of this “news.” Maybe Jeb’s inarticulateness is as bad as his brother’s. That’s how the media tells the story, after all.

 

When conservatives hounded Lizza to provide the full quote [here], it became clear that the “stuff happens” story was just another smear job. The kind of smear job that keeps people in Circle A away from politics. In fact, buried in Pitts’ daft rant against comments that were never made, he acknowledges that “this is just a new round of the gaffe gotcha game where you strip clumsy language of inconvenient context so as to imply the candidate said or meant something he never said or meant. So let’s be fair: Bush was not being callous toward the Oregon tragedy…”

 

Pitts’ article could end there. Perhaps it could even call on the media to be more responsible–less nakedly partisan. Pitts could have reminded us, as The Federalist Staff did, that the media response to Bush’s statement is eerily dissimilar to their coverage of the same language coming from a certain Democrat politician.

 

“When bad stuff happens around the world, the first question is what is the United States going to do about it,” President Obama said about children being gassed in Syria.

 

“This stuff happens way too often,” President Obama said about the Charleston shooting.

 

To turn our ire to President Obama for saying “stuff happens” misses the point. Our disgust should be aimed squarely at a media that reduces a conversation about the limits of legislation to two words that do not characterize Bush’s remarks or his sentiment. Our disgust should be aimed at the fourth estate–the very institution that makes a liberal democracy possible.

 

It is no wonder 60% of Americans distrust the media. It is no wonder our politicians look more like Donald Trump and less like Adlai Stevenson. It’s no wonder AᑎB is so small. What more can we expect when this “stuff happens?”

How Real RINOs Threaten to Ruin the Party

However much we tell ourselves that voting in the Republican primary is light years away, the polling remains stubbornly depressing. Month after month, Donald Trump sits high atop “the best candidates the GOP has ever fielded.” Trump’s most ardent supporters argue that he enjoys this success because he is a “true conservative”–tough, decisive, honest. By contrast, Trump’s opponents are RINOs (Republicans in Name Only)–the “go along to get along” gang. Real Republicans, according to this group, are conservative to their core, people like Mitt Romney (in 2008, not 2012) and Rick Santorum (in 2012, not 2016). The only other “true conservative” running for the 2016 GOP nomination is Senator Ted Cruz, the firebrand who stood up to the John Boehner-Mitch McConnell “establishment wing” of the Republican Party by petulantly leading charges to shut down the federal government whenever he didn’t get his way.

Talk radio host, Hugh Hewitt, notes that “Frank Luntz…says he believes that the Trump voters are as solid as voters can be and that those committed to Cruz are just a touch less devoted.” These supporters, Hewitt calls “True Believers.”

Trump and Cruz “True Believers” support their respective candidates out of a sense that conservatism is under attack as much from liberals outside the party as from liberals inside the GOP–RINOs. Ironically, though, both Donald Trump and Ted Cruz fit the original definition of RINOs. For this reason, chief among others, most Republican voters do not trust them.

Phil Edwards writes a fascinating article for Vox describing a brief history of the term RINO as a pejorative. In it, he notes that its roots refer to the classical definition of republican (small “r”). Originally, the term referred to people and “governments that claimed to be representative, but were actually autocratic.”

In this sense, Cruz and Trump fit the bill perfectly. Senator Cruz, for example, crafted his image by leading the charge to shut down the federal government to protest Obamacare. Even though funds for Obamacare had already been appropriated, and the legislation came into being because the American people elected Democrats to represent them, Cruz used the Senate (futilely, but in an autocratic manner) to derail legislation that he opposed.

If not for Senate Majority Leader, Mitch McConnell’s clever strategizing; and the Senate’s bipartisan exasperation with the obstreperous Cruz; Cruz would have shut the government down again to protest Planned Parenthood funding, and the Iran Nuclear Deal. Using what essentially amounts to one-sixth of the federal government, to override the will of the people as expressed through elections, to impose the will of a minority, represents an autocratic impulse–not a republican one.

Circumstances protect Mr. Cruz from being the biggest RINO running for president this cycle. He likely would have been the most despised Republican running for president if not for Donald Trump–a blathering, uncouth, empty-headed, showboat. Examining Trump’s anti-republican impulses requires a survey of his statements rather than his political actions, as Trump has never held political office.

In his announcement speech, Trump promised to use the power of the federal government to coerce businesses to do his bidding, much like Republicans decry Democrats for doing.

“I would call up the head of Ford, who I know. If I was president, I’d say, ‘Congratulations. I understand that you’re building a nice $2.5 billion car factory in Mexico and that you’re going to take your cars and sell them to the United States…’ So I would say, ‘Congratulations. That’s the good news. Let me give you the bad news. Every car and every truck and every part manufactured in this plant that comes across the border, we’re going to charge you a 35-percent tax, and that tax is going to be paid simultaneously with the transaction, and that’s it.”

When National Review editor, Rich Lowry, castigated Donald Trump, Trump called on the federal government to punish him.

“He should not be allowed on TV and the FCC should fine him,” Trump tweeted.

If a Democrat prescribed the federal government to fine a journalist who voiced a political disagreement, conservatives would rightfully cry ‘foul.’

On the subject of the Syrian refugees, Mr. Trump promised to autocratically forego immigration laws and rules regarding asylum seekers.

“I’m putting the people on notice that are coming here from Syria as part of this mass migration, that if I win, if I win, they’re going back.”

Don’t Republicans detest President Obama’s executive action on immigration, precisely because it is autocratic?
Today, the term RINO refers to what used to be known as “Me too Republicans.” In this regard, RINO is a silly term that serves to stifle debate more than to accurately describe living, breathing Republicans. The GOP enjoys more solidarity on issues than it ever has, and the only real differences we face concern tactics and priorities. In the meantime, though, there are those who wish to divide the party with this scurrilous slur–RINO. Ironically, they, and their “True Believers,” best fit the description of a RINO, and their autocratic impulses threaten the legitimacy of republican philosophy.

Some Notes on Music

I was driving down Addison Avenue, in the early 2000s, on my way to a Cubs game when I heard an esoteric song blaring from a car near me. An adept Chicago driver, I wove my way down the narrow road (always signaling) to place myself right next to the car at a stop light. “Jisas Yu Holem Hand Blong Mi” sung by The Choir of All Saints played briefly near the beginning of Terrence Malick’s film,  “The Thin Red Line.” I love the simple song, and met disappointment that it did not appear on the movie soundtrack. I tapped my horn twice to get the driver’s attention, and asked the affable, young man where on Earth he found it.

The Internet wasn’t then what it is today, and in spite of my frequenting eclectic music stores, I could never track down this song. I didn’t know what it was called. I didn’t know who sung it. I didn’t know the words. I didn’t know what language it was sung in. All I knew was that it was sung by a group of stone-aged islanders at the beginning of an artsy movie. The driver was surprised that I was so interested in the song, and he took the CD from his stereo and just gave it to me. He said he had it on his computer at home, so my refusals were futile. What little I can remember about his physical appearance fades as I age, but my gratitude for his kindness does not.

I still have the CD–a stranger’s mix tape–a compilation of popular songs with this strange, previously nameless, gem embedded within. By complete coincidence, I heard an obscure song–not even 2 minutes long–for which I had been hunting for years. Had I left my home 2 minutes earlier or later, I would never have heard it, and may even be still hunting for it today. The profundity of the coincidence continues to amaze me. Even more, though, I’m struck by how lucky I am to live in this modern era.

It’s easy to underestimate how bad most of humanity had it in terms of hearing music on demand. Before the late 19th Century, for example, everyone who heard music heard it live because there were no recording devices. Despite the heroic efforts of ethnomusicologists like Alan Lomax, therefore, most of the music ever made in the world has been lost forever. Songs that my great grandmother sang to my grandmother disappeared when either one of them forgot the words or the melody. Cultures in which music was not transcribed into notes lost even more than cultures that enjoyed a transcription method. Hunting this elusive song connected me, however superficially, to most of history’s music lovers. But then; technology, good-will, and Fate; rescued me, and reunited me with a song that I could only whistle, or hear when watching the movie.

Today, more than a decade later, I find myself in a similar situation–looking for an esoteric song while armed with technology unavailable to my ancestors: I heard this song on a YouTube video about gardening. As it happens, the video wasn’t what I was looking for, but I liked the song, so I recorded the video’s audio so that I would always have it. I asked the uploader for the song’s title, but he never returned my inquiry. Armed with Shazaam, a mobile app that identifies songs played into a smart phone, I tried to answer my own question. Unfortunately, Shazaam had no idea what the song was. There are no words, so I cannot perform a Google search of a verse or a chorus. I have no idea where the song is from, or who made it.

Unlike before, I can find satisfaction in the fact that I have a recording of this rare song. However, if I lose the CD with the mp3, or if something happens to my cloud storage provider, I will once again join history’s unfortunate music lovers. The song will be lost forever–at least, until I forget how it goes.

The Democrats’ Refugee Crisis

Democrats, nationwide, face a vexing refugee crisis of their own making: Hundreds of thousands of people have picked up their lives to rescue their families from devastation wrought by liberal incompetence and naive policies. These refugees, numbering nearly 1,000 per day, simply seek a better life, even if that means contending with culture shock and a change of climate. However sympathetic to the refugees’ plight, the people tasked with accepting them fear that the newcomers will bring along a dangerous worldview that can turn their newfound garden spots into the dysfunctional locales they left behind. As observers sift through the data to learn as much as possible about these refugees, one point remains clear, virtually all of them are Americans.

Writing for the Washington Times, Stephen Moore describes the IRS’ findings showing that, liberal blue states continue to hemorrhage people to conservative red states.

“The new Census data…in 2014 shows that the top seven states with the biggest percentage increase in in-migration from other states are in order: North Dakota, Nevada, South Carolina, Colorado, Florida, Arizona, and Texas. All of these states are red, except Colorado, which is purple. Meanwhile the leading exodus states of the continental states in percentage terms were: Alaska, New York, Illinois, Connecticut, New Mexico, New Jersey, and Kansas. All of these states are blue, except Alaska and Kansas.”

The first, most obvious, question is why.

In a summer debate with Moore, New York Times columnist and Nobel Prize winning economist, Paul Krugman, argued that weather caused the migrations. “Air conditioning,” Krugman said, “has made the South more liveable.” While that may play some role in the migrants’ calculus, that explanation fails to justify why Americans jettison New Mexico for North Dakota. Furthermore, Moore notes that California, known for its beautiful weather (droughts notwithstanding), lost more than a million more people than it gained over the last decade.

Moore accredits this phenomenon to liberal policies, like pro-union legislation and green energy myopism, noting that Right to Work laws and the exploitation of oil shale mining act as magnets for people, industry, jobs, and opportunity.

Nowhere can Moore’s point be more evident than in our home state of Illinois. Illinois Policy Institute’s Vice President of Policy, Michael Lucci, explains that Illinois lags behind every state in the region in job growth, in large part, because it is surrounded by Right to Work states. And while the Land of Lincoln greatly underperforms her neighbors in job growth, she surpasses them in adding citizens to food-stamp rolls.

“During the recovery from the Great Recession, the Land of Lincoln, alone in the Midwest, had more people enter the food-stamps program than start jobs. Food-stamps growth in Illinois has outpaced jobs creation by a 5-4 margin. In fact…Illinois put more people on food stamps than every other Midwestern state combined.”

Increasing the number of Americans living in red states may appear to favor conservatives, as population boosts equal increases in the number of U.S. House seats and electoral college votes. In fact; Reid Wilson, writing for The Washington Post; argues that the 2016 electoral college map will favor Republicans precisely because of these migrations.

“Blue states would lose a net of four electoral votes, and red states would gain a net of two…the equivalent of flipping a state the size of Iowa from the blue column to the red column,” Wilson writes.

Unfortunately, though, Republicans may not enjoy such luck. Just as Moore indicates, by noting Colorado’s “purple state” status, the sad truth is that too many blue state refugees bring their blue state politics with them to their new homes. NPR’s Alan Greenblatt explains,

“Lots of Californians have moved to Denver and its environs, bringing a progressive strain of politics with them and angering more conservative parts of the state…Conservatives have discovered that living on the far side of the Rockies is no longer far enough to get away from the influence of West Coast liberals.”

Even worse, Colorado is not the only Republican state suffering from the political ideologies of the Left’s “huddled masses.” Greenblatt notes that Nevada, Idaho, and Utah are also transitioning, while other red states “enjoy” more liberal enclaves than in years past.

The remedy for conservatives wanting to combat these trends remains unclear. By staying in red states and fighting off the refugees’ influence, the state remains an attractive magnet for an even greater influx of liberal immigrants. By leaving red states and going to abandoned blue states, like Michigan and many in the Northeast corridor, red states flip quicker to blue as liberals drive conservatives out.

In an ideal country, liberals would own up to their deficiencies. They would abandon fallacious policies; like arbitrary minimum wage hikes, and aversion to nuclear power and hydraulic fracturing. Liberals would understand that unions have a place, but they also have costs and limitations. In an ideal country; liberals would be cured of their obsession with expensive, high-speed rail fantasies; and massive, duplicative, food-stamps programs.

In an ideal country, liberals would be conservative.

In the meantime, maybe red states should consider adopting comprehensive intra-immigration reform.

The Moral Limits of Consent

WARNING: THIS ARTICLE CONTAINS STRONG SEXUAL CONTENT THAT SOME READERS MAY FIND OFFENSIVE. READER DISCRETION IS ADVISED.


Todd Nickerson penned an honest and disturbing piece that appeared in Salon about his tribulations as a pedophile.

“To confess a sexual attraction to children is to lay claim to the most reviled status on the planet, one that effectively ends any chance you have of living a normal life.  Yet, I’m not the monster you think me to be.  I’ve never touched a child sexually in my life and never will, nor do I use child pornography.”

Nickerson explains in great detail his commitment to abstaining from molesting children or watching child pornography despite his strong attraction to prepubescent youths. In fact, he writes about himself in a sympathetic light–even as a victim of an overly judgmental society that would do well to accept his sexual preference as long as he does not act on his impulses.

“I recall an event from when I was 11, sitting in the family jeep with my dad and his friend Andy when a news piece on the radio reported the sexual abuse of a girl, to which my dad said to his friend something like, “They should take people like that and place weights on top of their genitals until they smash.”  Pretty horrific imagery for an 11-year-old to process, and I couldn’t help but sympathize with the abuser…

“I believe all that hatred just serves to reinforce pedophilia in youngsters predisposed to it.  It’s a form of cognitive bias called the Backfire Effect…When challenged on deeply held beliefs, no matter how uncertain or incorrect they may be, we tend to dig in our heels.  With sexuality, that effect is likely magnified because there’s a physiological component, a drive every bit as powerful as belief.”

Indeed, Nickerson intends for readers to reconsider their revulsion to pedophiles and withhold judgment. After all, they are just like him–like you and me: Some people are straight, some are gay. He, and others (a number he believes to be highly understated), desire prepubescent children. Comme ci, comme ca.

This postmodern understanding of sexuality completely undermines the notion of sexual morality altogether. Far too often in American culture, Consent reigns supreme as the progenitor of morality. This logic abides prostitution, pornography, drug use, suicide, abortion, polyamory, incest, and, of course, homosexuality.

However unpopular to admit, Nickerson’s pleas for acceptance vary little from those coming from the homosexual community. Not long ago, homosexuality engendered a similar disgust from the general public. Many states enacted anti-sodomy laws that made homosexuality as much a crime as pedophilia is today. Calling a man a “faggot” invited a fight much like accusing a man of pedophilia would, today, lead to a similar outcome. Clearly, though, there has been a shift in public opinion. Homosexuals enjoy lavish praise from large swaths of our culture for the bravery they show by openly embracing their sexuality. Gay parades draw politicians and companies looking to show their support for a lifestyle that, in its most literal sense, is perverted (from the Latin, describing a deviation from the norm). This shift came about through a top-down attack on our culture’s mores. In the span of a few years, Americans went from supporting the Defense of Marriage Act to legalizing gay marriage. Over the same period of time, the culture was saturated in all things gay, from Philadelphia to Angels in America, from Will and Grace (credited as changing Vice President Joe Biden’s opinion on gay marriage) to Brokeback Mountain, from Boys Don’t Cry to Glee. The defense of alternative sexuality begins with a sympathetic plea, an argument that sexuality is ingrained, cannot (and eventually should not) be controlled. From there, we are asked to be tolerant, then accepting, then endorsing.

Liberals ridiculed Justice Antonin Scalia for presaging, after the Lawrence v. Texas case, that homosexual marriage would follow the Court’s decision. Then, Obergefell proved him correct. After Obergefell, liberals laughed again at the conservative justices’ dissents that saw the Court’s decision opening the door to many alternative lifestyles gaining mainstream acceptance, much in the way homosexuality did. I doubt that anyone believes that homosexual marriage will mark the end of marriage redefinition, or the farthest reach of acceptable sexual orientation.

And today, with gay marriage legalized, with traditional views of homosexuality conflated with racism, we stare down a piece calling for clemency for tortured pedophiles–signed with the author’s real name.

How have we arrived here?

 

The predictable arguments against my reaction to Nickerson’s article will criticize me for equating pedophilia to homosexuality. After all, homosexuals operate within a construct of consent that mirrors that of the heterosexual realm, whereas with pedophiles, “there is no ethical way we can fully actualize our sexual longings,” Nickerson writes, because minors cannot offer consent. Furthermore, arguing that because homosexuality has become normalized in American society, pedophilia will also, does not follow. It is a slippery slope fallacy disguised as valid argumentation.

To these criticisms, I respond that it is exactly the overemphasis on consent that can mitigate pedophilia’s stigma as it has with homosexuality. Homosexuality was never deemed wrong because adult men or adult women could not consent to engaging in homosexual acts. Indeed, homosexuality is wrong because God named it so. It is a sin; like thievery, lying, murder, adultery, covetousness, and idolatry; that Christ suffered and died for. Therefore, sinners like me are called to repent, alongside homosexuals and pedophiles, and be forgiven. Consent has nothing to do with homosexuality’s immorality. Nor does it matter to pedophilia.

Consider, for a moment, that in some states 17 years old is the age of consent. A 46 year old man can bed a 17 year old woman (or man) without fear of legal penalty. Is there any substantive difference between a 17 year old and a 16 year old? 16 and 17 year olds often exist in the same grade level at school. They can even date one another and have sex and have babies. Therefore, what explains the magic number of 17 as the age of consent? Why not 16? For that matter, why not 15? 14 year olds are often sexually mature. Is the discernment of a 14 year old any different than that of a 16 year old? If so, does it vary as greatly as that of a 23 year old and a 44 year old? Surely it does, but not enough to warrant protection for 23 year olds.

Thusly, the consent game can be manipulated to bypass the very notion of sexual morality.

Moreover, American culture insists that one should only struggle toward moral ends if failing to do so infringes upon another’s liberty. In other words, sexual morality is fluid, and sexual expression shall not be socially curtailed unless a participant does not or cannot consent. How can we, therefore, tell homosexuals that their strong sexual preference should not be relegated to an emotion, never to be acted upon; but pedophiles must live repressed? Is not the sexual desire for children as strong as a homosexual’s desire for a same-sex partner? Or a heterosexual’s for an opposite-sex partner? A standard must exist to promote healthy and moral sexuality and staunch immoral and predatory alternatives.

True morality, untainted by the caprice of postmodern influence, names homosexuality an immoral aberration. Therefore,  just as homosexuals were expected to repress their desires, pedophiles should be urged to repress their own. Likewise, married heterosexuals should be urged to repress their own desires for other sexual partners. Without clear guidelines about sexual morality, sexual morality ceases to exist beyond arbitrary definitions of rape.
In closing, I admit that Nickerson is brave. He, also, is tortured and deserving of pity and in need of prayer. I regret that he was molested, that he’s missing a hand. I regret that he struggles to find work, and I am pleased that he foregoes sexual contact with minors. That said, his message is a dangerous one. Decreasing our collective disgust of pedophiles does not show compassion. Normalizing pedophilia will harm our society. Mr. Nickerson should continue to fight his impulses, recognize that we live in a fallen world and that we suffer greatly as a result. He should repent and be forgiven, rather than conflate pedophilia with homosexuality and with heterosexuality. Sexual morality is real, and we fail to uphold it if we restrict its parameters to the limits of consent.

Democrats Need a Tea Party

Republicans concluded another presidential nomination debate before tens of millions of American viewers. Pundits routinely, and rightly, note that the wide field of candidates represent the best the party has ever presented. Amidst the conversations about tactics, temperaments, and policy, lies another debate about insiders and outsiders–The Establishment and the grassroots–populists and elitists. While elements of this latter debate exist in nearly every primary election, the Tea Party movement intensified the rift. The beneficial aspect of the populist focus is an engaged and empowered electorate: conservatives pay closer attention to their elected officials, and those officials pay attention to their constituents. The worst aspect of this focus has been an irrational disdain for powerless politicians, and a ravenous appetite for the immediate gratification gained from futile grandstanding gestures. While liberals enjoy lampooning our process, the Republican nomination race will serve to strike the right balance between these two passions.

Compare the reality on the right, with that on the left.

Governor Martin O’Malley leads an angry throng of liberals against DNC chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz to encourage the party to add more debates. The current schedule, in his view, rigs the nomination so that it favors Hillary Clinton–The Queen of the Democrat Establishment.

“This sort of rigged process has never been attempted before,” O’Malley said in a fiery speech to the DNC. “Whose decree is it exactly? Where did it come from? To what end? For what purpose?”

Most Americans have no idea that Martin O’Malley is a Democrat candidate for president, and know even less about Jim Webb’s campaign.

Looming in the background is Bernie Sanders, one of the most populist Democrats to run for the nomination in decades. Drawing record crowds, attention, and donations, the 74 year old’s unapologetic liberalism emboldens supporters frustrated that conservatism precluded Barack Obama’s presidency from ushering in the liberal reawakening pundits promised in 2008 and 2009. Sanders is honest, consistent and is a true man of the people (in their view). But, the Democrat establishment detests him.

“The politicians, plutocrats and pundits of the Democratic Party establishment have no answer to Bernie Sanders’ blistering critique of their failure to defend the interests of the voters who have kept them in power,” writes Jeff Faux. “Neither have they a substantive case against his policy agenda…They have one argument: he can’t win.”

Writing in The Upshot, Nate Cohn echoes the argument about Sanders’ electability and assures Democrats that Clinton will easily secure the nomination. This assurance spawns anxiety.

Dogged by scandal and secrecy, Hillary Clinton’s poll numbers frighten supporters. A group of party activists and Obama campaign bundlers (major donors) penned a letter urging a different establishment candidate to enter the race–Vice President Joe Biden. Though Biden appeals better to populist Democrats than Hillary Clinton, his establishment ties prove strong enough to allay fears among party leaders about his electability. Still, though, this leaves the Democrat grassroots on the sidelines.

Denied an Elizabeth Warren run, barred by the DNC from choosing a candidate after a vigorous debate cycle, and shamed for supporting Bernie Sanders, what is a liberal activist to do?

Of course, the Democrat party desperately needs a populist uprising–a Tea Party. Insofar as Ralph Nader took votes from Al Gore in the 2000 election, Nader did so by appealing to grassroots liberals. Groups like Code Pink only focused on a single issue–war. Occupy Wall Street lacked the focus to successfully transform into a political vehicle for liberal change. When the varied messages were pinned down long enough to be distilled into something intelligible, what occupiers wanted was what Bernie Sanders offers–a dream that will not be delivered (at least in 2016).

As it stands, liberals may always be politically frustrated because liberalism (and the Democrat Party) functions on a top-down model. Therefore, the establishment candidates will always be wealthy elites, even the populist ones, because liberalism believes in remanding political power to the elites.

As the left mocks conservatives for our crowded stages of candidates, our bickering over ideas and tactics, we should rest assured that our problem is a good one to have. Our process will produce the most polished candidate that the elites and the grassroots can accept.
The left will be stuck with Hillary Clinton.

GOP Nomination Debate 2: My Ranking from Best to Worst

The second Republican Presidential Nomination Debate featured 11 candidates instead of 10, a fair amount of policy discussion, and the usual dose of bickering and argumentation. In the end, though, each candidate needed to fare well in this debate by highlighting his or her strengths and addressing deficiencies. Each candidate faces different challenges, so with that in mind, I have scored the debate’s winners and losers in the following order:

Second Place: Senator Marco Rubio

Senator Marco Rubio, again, delivered a command debate performance. As usual, he dominated on foreign affairs, fleshing out the dangers of Russian intervention in the Middle East, for example. He also related the substance of his ideas to the people they will help. One of his most powerful moments tied his upbringing in a Spanish-speaking household to his defense of speaking Spanish when conveying conservative ideas to other Spanish-speaking Americans. Despite Rubio’s fluid delivery and routinely substantive remarks, he suffers in polling. Part of his problem is that he speaks so remarkably well that he can convey a robotic, over-rehearsed quality. To this end, Rubio released a charming ad meant to show off his more human side. As far as his debate performance, though, Rubio’s challenge was to highlight his humanity and remain as substantive as ever.

In an attempt at self-deprecation, Rubio opened with an awkward joke about staying hydrated in drought-plagued California. The reference to his reach for a bottle of water in the midst of his State of the Union response in 2013 fell flat on an audience that hardly remembers the referenced event at all. Worse, it came off as the kind of “scripted spontaneity” that dooms candidates like Hillary Clinton and Mitt Romney. When naturally making jokes–referring to himself as the first, not the third, senator; he comes across as more sincere.

As for remaining sharp on the issues, Rubio plays this role better than the rest.

The general consensus names Rubio the winner of the first debate and the near winner in the second. Whether this will translate to votes has yet to be seen. Still, Rubio continues to stand head and shoulders above his competitors on the debate stage.

GOP Nomination Debate 2: My Ranking from Best to Worst

The second Republican Presidential Nomination Debate featured 11 candidates instead of 10, a fair amount of policy discussion, and the usual dose of bickering and argumentation. In the end, though, each candidate needed to fare well in this debate by highlighting his or her strengths and addressing deficiencies. Each candidate faces different challenges, so with that in mind, I have scored the debate’s winners and losers in the following order:

First Place: CEO Carly Fiorina

Fiorina left the undercard debates to join her rivals on the main stage, and prove herself substantive enough for serious consideration. Her performance was simply stellar.

In the weeks leading up to the debate, Fiorina argued persuasively that the metric CNN used to decide who would participate in the debate contained serious flaws–mainly, that the polls CNN relied upon to book candidates were so old that they did not take recent polling fluctuations into account. Therefore, Fiorina was originally barred from the debate because her poll numbers before the first debate were low. Fiorina won the undercard debate and earned serious consideration and support from Republicans looking to replace less impressive candidates who happened to poll better than their debate performances. In effect, Fiorina entered the debate as an underdog needing to prove herself worthy of leaving the stage with candidates like Senator Lindsey Graham and Governor George Pataki to compete with candidates more widely predicted to actually capture the nomination. She not only proved herself worthy of the debate, she launched herself into the small ring of candidates that Republicans could feel completely comfortable supporting in the General Election.

Fiorina spoke competently on foreign relations, bested only by Marco Rubio and only by a small margin. She spoke movingly on human life–her voice cracking as if she were holding back tears for the millions of unborn butchered and sold for scrap. She revealed a human aspect of her life that many Americans hadn’t known about her–that she and her husband lost a child to drug addiction. She effectively turned her painful story into a warning about liberalizing drug policy and the lies claiming that marijuana is a harmless drug. As usual, too, she effectively attacked the Democrat frontrunner, Hillary Clinton.

As if this weren’t enough, Fiorina masterfully dismantled Donald Trump, the bully who in days previous made scathing remarks about Fiorina’s physical appearance as a critique of her competency to be president. In one of her many electrifying debate moments, Fiorina answered Trump’s sexist remark simply and effectively:

“I think women all over this country heard very clearly what Mr. Trump said.”

Trump tried to smooth over the moment by complimenting Fiorina’s looks–a tone deaf move–and met Fiorina’s steely gaze. That steely gaze sent daggers through the screen. It would dice Hillary Clinton to shreds in a debate. It would sober world leaders unwilling to respect an American president because of her sex. It would haunt America’s enemies.
Carly Fiorina proved herself as “The Real Deal.” She may be America’s own “Iron Lady.” Her strong debate performance brings her closer to carrying the GOP banner.