So, without further ado, here's an outline of the contemporary sticky points on which I shall render an opinion:
- gay marriage
- police brutality
- unequal pay for women
- overturned convictions (Louis Scarcella)
- affirmative action
- The Iranian threat to Israel and America
- America's relations with Israel
- Israeli settlements
- Palestinian Suffering under occupation
- Two-state solution
- tax reform
- defense spending
- health care
I believe abortion should be legal. The actual act is questionable from the standpoint of the person undergoing the procedure. I don't think women who seek abortion are callous or do so lightly. But it's ultimately their decision, not the public's, since there is clearly no public interest in an increased population and there is no clear aggrieved party.
2. Gay Marriage
One thing is clear. Sodomy laws have been rightfully scrapped by the states and eventually banned nationally by a supreme court decision in Lawrence v. Texas in 2003. I fully and unequivocally respect the right of a homosexual to have a permanent homosexual relationship, including cohabitation, intimate acts and even inheritance.
However, when it comes to the term "marriage" I don't see the compelling reason to expand it to include the union of two parties that cannot reproduce and thus do not readily forge a traditional family. From a federal standpoint, I want the government to be more tolerant, and I thus am happy to see DOMA struck down as unconstitutional. I think the federal government should recognize for tax purposes homosexual unions that are bona fide. However, if a local jurisdiction, be it state or municipal government wants to refuse to grant such marriage certificates, that should be their prerogative. I am this disappointed in the SCOTUS ruling that the 14th amendment compels states to issue marriage certificates to homosexual couples.
3. Police Brutality
I think the matter is overblown. Much of the hoopla surrounding this is kindled and inflamed by video footage and the social media. Those sources are notorious for partiality. People post and watch and are incensed only by the footage that incriminates the police, not the one that incriminates the perpetrator. This is not fair. Likewise, social media allows readers to insulate themselves in a bubble of news and commentary that reaffirms their convictions, thus creating a general perception of police brutality within this bubble that doesn't mesh with reality.
Another contributing factor here is the institutional problems with the criminal justice system. It being unmoored from any rehabilitative purpose and from efforts to improve overall conditions within the ghettos that give rise to crime, people take out their anger at "police brutality" as a proxy for frustration with the system. President Obama has hinted as such in his reaction to some of the recent scandals. Accordingly the real solution is not to tame the police, but rather to assume whole new approach to policing and community building among the poor and uneducated, which of course would involve economic and social action, as well as a new moral conviction.
4. Unequal Pay for Women
I am against this newfangled cause celebre. I think it detracts from real economic and social inequities out there. Women are naturally different from men and it's absurd to force the round peg of "equal pay" into a square. In other words, it may very well be that that women make less due to biological and resultant social conditions. A biological condition would be propensity to emotion vs. reason, and a social condition would be the need to take leave for child care (at least if they fulfill their natural duty to care for their young). Bottom line is that I don't see any compelling reason to interfere with market forces in this regard.
5. Overturned Convictions
I noticed something very peculiarly unifying about virtually all famous cases of overturned convictions: the convicted felons are all guilty of OTHER offenses even if we may be occasionally become absolutely certain that they did not commit the particular crime imputed to them, IN THE MANNER portrayed in the indictment. Very often they are likely accomplices to the crime or are habitual thugs who associate and collaborate with other outlaws. I don't see any reason why we should seek to investigate a case that has been adjudicated a very long time ago and there is no question as to the general culpability of the convict. The NYT never seem to mention the convicts general culpability in these stories, and I find it to be a glaring omission that most uncritical readers don't notice.
Bottom line is I am against revisiting these cases and in any rate convicts in such cases should NOT receive any compensation from the state, even if the state chooses to release them early based on recent DNA evidence. A democratic state should never have to apologize to its citizenry so long as it is carrying out the wishes of its citizenry in good conscience. Once again, in most if not all the cases, the State was going by the evidence available at the time as gauged by standards used at the time. The state need not apologize if it exonerates someone later based on subsequent better technology.
6. Affirmative Action
I am generally for affirmative action, even now (after decades of use). It is clearly in our best interest to have an egalitarian society with respect to race, meaning that we ought to strive for equal opportunity (I hate this cliche) with respect to a person's ancestral heritage. We don't want a society wherein someone who was born in Nicaragua and has dark skin and plebeian demeanor is eternally locked in this mode of living for themselves and for their eternal offspring. We should do something to enable them to reach parity with other members of society who are born with innate advantages (such as money, political power, connections). To that end, affirmative action lowers the standard for such disadvantaged but high-potential individuals. Whereas normally a 90 percentile in required for admission, the Nicaraguan immigrant might be admitted at an 80 percentile.
Having said this, I am not sure that the way affirmative action is now commonly implemented is wise. Two essential conditions for affirmative action to be fair and productive are: a) We strive to offer equal opportunity but NOT an equal outcome. Thus using the previous example, the Nicaraguan who scores in the 80th percentile will be admitted to law school, but we won't graduated him if he falls short, or if we do graduate him due to affirmative action, the private sector will not be induced to hire him. At some point the buck stops and the day of reckoning arrives. If the individual is still not up to snuff, then so be it. b) We do not lower the standard in our quest to achieve parity. In other words let's not say "gee, this test is too difficult for minorities. let's make it easier for everyone so that they too can pass!" or worse yet, let's not say "the reason the Nicaraguan is failing is that they have a different cultural background that doesn't value the kind of stuff that we value". This is cultural relativism which I don't believe in.
To rehash: whereas I do uphold affirmative action as an overall guiding principle, it cannot be applied exhaustively in all stages and in all cases. We should curb its application and use good judgement therein.
7. Nafta and other free trade agreements (such as the recent TPP)
Free trade agreements have gotten a really bad rap in the liberal circles. The argument goes that they are beneficial to corporations by allowing them to produce goods more cheaply abroad and bypass the American worker, thus increasing their profits. In my opinion, however, globalization and its partner in crime automated technology are both inevitable forces in the labor market. They cannot be resisted! It's the natural order for things to move in this direction. Therefore, while it's okay to be cautious and deliberate about such agreements to ensure that the nation obtains a clear net benefit from it, it's not wise to reject any and all free trade agreement outright, or simply dilly dally.
Conversely, what could and should be done for workers in order to offset the deleterious effects of such agreements, is government training of workers for new industries that are commensurate with our status as a developed country with a better educated workforce and better working conditions. Our country WILL be near the top of the production pyramid. So instead of fighting to retain sectors within the lower tiers of the production pyramid, let's allow market forces to eliminate such sectors and instead channel our energies in creating fertile ground for workers to be part of the new higher-tier economy.
Recently there has been a slew of reports about the prevalence of rape in college campuses and military units. I read many such stories and I was not convinced that this problem is real. Similar to the police brutality outburst, rape scandals seem to be driven by a culture in which women are overly sensitive to male advances and they feel pressured by feminists and other liberal activists to assert themselves.
I do not diminish the gravity of sexual assault if and when it's real. However, as the recent article in Rolling Stone that turned out to be based on a fabricated account demonstrates, many liberals are too eager and willing to accept the story of the alleged victim without due scrutiny. It plays into their philosophy of remaking our society in an all-around equal manner. I vehemently reject this quest and the concomitant attitude that unjustly terrorizes and vilifies those who are perceived to be in power.
In short, rape accusations need to be taken seriously, but if the context shows that no rape has occurred and that the female made a choice of partaking of the activities that ultimately led to sex, then we ought not treat it as rape. A slap on the wrist may be in order if the male exerted undue pressure, but no more.
We are a nation of immigrants --many waves of immigration over the centuries. Continued immigration is what enabled our economy to grow so fast in the 19th and 20th centuries leading to a mature and stable economy in the new millennium. At this point it is no longer in our best interest to encourage or permit mass immigration. However, it makes perfect sense to allow those who did arrive here many years ago and who have positively contributed to our economy to legally stay here and become naturalized here.
Thus, the tens of millions of latinos who are already here should be given a pathway to citizenship. Some should be deported and we should enact laws that make it clear that future illegal immigrants will not receive similar white glove treatment, but those who are already here should be allowed by and large to remain here and be incorporated fully into the fabric of our nation.
Often I hear talk about securing the border first before we can deal with the naturalization question. This is a silly diversion from the grave problem at hand, since the border will always be porous to some extent. And besides, this doesn't address the injustice and nationally self-inflicted harm of millions of workers not being able to rely on the various government organs for protection AND not paying any taxes. Come to think of it, the whole issue of worker migration is more trivial than it seems. Those workers do not come here merely to soak up the largesse of our rich nation. They come here to work so that they could make money and live a better life. Thus they are contributing inasmuch as they are "taking" and so there's no rational reason for us to hate them (other than for partisan political purposes). If you are determined to reject them because you believe that they take in the form of medical care, police protection, road use, etc... more than they contribute in the form of taxes, then the American worker would fare no better, and so why the distinction? Yes, we are an overly indulgent society and I do think we should do something about it but this is outside the scope of the topic of illegal immigration.