The Moralist’s Catch-22

OK, let’s make a couple of assumptions right off the bat for the purpose of this exercise.

  1. You want to help others.
  2. You’d like not to compromise your own values in doing so.

Simple enough. Now, what do you do when compromising your own values is the best way to help people?

This is the moralist’s dilemma, and every now and then it becomes a focal point of policy. Do we employ torture in the hope that it saves innocents, or do we shun the practice, deciding that the moral implications outweigh the potential good?

What’s interesting politically about such dilemmas is that they are a poor litmus test. For instance, someone on the right might say yes to torture but no to sex-ed that isn’t abstinence-based. Sex education, as with torture in the abstract, compromises their values. But in this scenario, our hypothetical right-wing friend doesn’t think the benefits of lower rates of teen pregnancy or sexually transmitted disease are worth the moral grey of handing out condoms.

I don’t mean to pick on anyone; the point is you can’t simply say conservatives make moral compromises, liberals don’t, or vice versa. In fact, it would be far more accurate to say that, when dealing with the morally grey, liberals and conservatives alike will only “go there” when the cause matches their ideological bent. Adding to the deficit is OK when it’s to cut taxes, but not when it’s to increase spending. And on, and on.

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Ron Artest on Foreign Policy

Someday, I’d like to go visit all those countries that (the U.S.) really doesn’t have great relationships with. Because I think the people are more important than politics. Go to Afghanistan, even North Korea. Just to say “hi” to the people.

It’s a short life, and you don’t want to spend it hating on somebody.

— Ron Artest, via L.A.’s Daily News

I mean, sure, I guess.

I gotta say, though, I would’ve pegged Ron-Ron as ascribing to the preemptive self-defense school of thought.

RCP: We’re Gonna Lie to You for More Clicks

The headline on a RealClearPolitics video from today:

Obama: Legalize illegals to get them health care

Wait, what?

And the pull-quotes from said video (which, oddly, the RCP staff pulled from a Washington Times article rather than from the video that’s being hosted on their own site. Yeah, I’m not qualified to work for you guys.):

“Even though I do not believe we can extend coverage to those who are here illegally, I also don’t simply believe we can simply ignore the fact that our immigration system is broken,” Mr. Obama said Wednesday evening in a speech to the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute. “That’s why I strongly support making sure folks who are here legally have access to affordable, quality health insurance under this plan, just like everybody else.

“If anything, this debate underscores the necessity of passing comprehensive immigration reform and resolving the issue of 12 million undocumented people living and working in this country once and for all.”

Does RCP honestly think that referencing immigration reform in a speech to Latinos is equivalent to saying, “let’s legalize illegals and give them health care?” Or have the Drudges of the world just blurred the lines so much that otherwise respectable outlets will stoop that low for a sweet headline?

Just because you’re quoting the Wash Times doesn’t mean you have to act like them.

Suite101 Article: “Should Polls Matter…?”

After much procrastinating, I finally wrote my first article for Suite101. Their formatting kind of annoys me — namely putting my lede in a little yellow box — but it’s a good way to get some exposure and clips.

Here’s a snippet, check it out…

Were one creating a Platonic Republic, one might even divvy up legislative responsibility according to expertise: for instance, assigning the teacher-turned-representative from Utah to deal with education and education alone.

The realities of this republic, however, afford neither the luxury of specialization nor, even, representation in the sense of a senator making his or her own decisions with the constituency’s blessing. The United States doesn’t work that way: a vote in November isn’t understood to be a blank check for the person elected. Electoral pressures make representation less a mandate to vote on the electorate’s behalf than an appointment to vote as the public demands, lest they be replaced in the future.

BaucusCare Criticisms

Today, Sen. Max Baucus (D-Mont.) pulled back the curtains on Baucus-care, the definitive Gang of Six Finance Committee health care opus magnum we’ve been hearing so much about.

For his trouble, Baucus has been teared into by just about everyone. Progressives hate it, chiefly because it scrapped the public option, and even the trigger compromise, in favor of non-profit private health insurance cooperatives. Conservatives hate it because it costs a bunch, doesn’t do much to make insurance more affordable for those who already have it, includes an individual mandate that carries a hefty (up to $3,800 a year for a household) fine, and cuts nearly $500 billion from Medicare¹.

Though the plan was released today, The New York Times already assembled a bunch of really smart people to dissect it.

Here’s some snippets of the more interesting critiques.

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Hiatus? More like, bye-atus… Amiright?

At some point in the last, oh, two months, I convinced myself that someone would actually pay me to work for them.

Man, am I a sap.

As a result, my frail psyche has been imbued with just the right combination of self-loathing, boredom and stick-to-it-iveness to put some actual effort into this blog.

What you — Dan, Luke, the spambots and the circus enthusiasts who occasionally stumble upon this blog by mistake — can expect in coming weeks is the following:

  • Blog posts. In an abrupt departure from what the Two-Ring faithful have been used to, I will write stuff. Some of it will suck. But it’s better for my general well-being than opening new tabs I don’t intend to use and sporadically clicking my Facebook¹ bookmark.
  • Footnotes.²
  • Expert³ commentary.
  • Hyperlinks.
  • Exhaustive coverage of Fox’s hit new sitcom, Glee, airing Wednesday nights at 9 pm EST.

¹Speaking of Facebook: Catherine Anderson “had an epic dream about the sex-slave industry (with elements of her own life mixed in) last night that was the equivalent in plot and detail to five dreams! It might take me a while to sort out everything God is telling me.” Neat-o.

²Also, questionable grammar decisions. Does a footnote go inside the period like a parenthetical citation, or outside the period like a quotation mark?


The Death of a Great Paper

This is the list of the most viewed articles at the Christian Science Monitor today.

Most Viewed -

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About the Author

Brian Eason is a University of Missouri graduate with bachelor degrees in Journalism and Political Science. He has covered Congressional elections and local government for the Columbia Missourian and worked as a general assignment reporter for the State Journal-Register in Springfield, IL. Brian has also had articles published in Roll Call.