Thursday, 12 May 2005


Sarah Hempel wonders why many people classify “committed relationships” as something other than being “single”:

I am not sure what this means exactly. I understand dating exclusively, but since you are not yet married or betrothed, serious dating relationships are still comprised of two single people. Plus, I find the word “committed” to be vague and, quite frankly, rediculous. So, you haven’t pledged life-long fidelity to one another, so “committed” means what? Committed until someone better comes along, until we have a huge blow-out and break up, until we tire of one another? Marriage promises “until death do us part;” what does a “committed relationship” imply?

I’m not sure one can fail to draw the distinction between “single” and “betrothed” and not recognize “committed relationship” in the middle; after all, betrothed (or engaged) means “until death do us part unless I come up with a good reason before the marriage ceremony why we shouldn’t stay together,” which doesn’t seem to be very different from the definitions provided for “committed relationship” except there’s now a slightly stronger promise to keep (and more people get annoyed if you break it).

Nor am I really sure “divorced” is a meaningful separate category either. Single, married, and widowed seem to cover all the bases pretty well, and even “widowed” is troublesome and could easily be lumped in with “single.” So, here are the two types of relationship:

Married: I’ve promised to spend the rest of my life with someone else and am still following through on that commitment.
Single: I’ve done no such thing.

All your base belong to the BRAC list

Jeff Quinton has a post with a list of military bases allegedly (and I stress allegedly) on the Base Realignment and Closure list to be announced tomorrow. Among the casualties include Mississippi’s Columbus AFB, NAS Meridian, and Pascagoula NS, leaving (by my estimation) just Keesler AFB and the Sea Bee base in Gulfport in service.

Professorial dirty secrets

Stephen Karlson dressed down today to administer his final exams. I actually got a bit of joshing from the gallery when I showed up to give my intro final a couple of weeks ago in a polo shirt and jeans; apparently it never occurred to them that the main reason I wear a shirt, slacks, and a tie on days I teach is so I look older than they do.

Firefox 1.0.4 now on the street

Firefox’s software update feature doesn’t seem to be finding it yet (at least on my box where I’m running a 1.0.4 release candidate), so download it here. (þ: Asa Dotzler)

Remembering Barry Goldwater

Goldwater had a philosophy that came from his upbringing, if I remember his memoirs correctly, and he held on to it quite stubbornly to the end. His defeat in 1964 was crucial to the emergence of Reagan sixteen years later. The Economist has a great article that contrasts today’s Republican Party with Goldwater’s views and the GOP comes off looking bad.

It’s a subscriber only article, but I’ll provide a quick excerpt here:

THE Goldwater Institute, a libertarian think-tank based—where else?—in Phoenix, Arizona, contains a striking photograph of the young Barry Goldwater, dressed in girlish clothes and accompanied by a tame monkey. The precise meaning of the photograph—was the monkey borrowed, or a permanent part of the maverick Arizonan’s household?—is lost to history. But for those with a taste for symbolism the photograph raises an intriguing question: is Goldwaterism anything more than an eccentric side-show in today’s Republican Party?

Although he went down to a huge defeat in the 1964 presidential election, Goldwater did as much as anybody to launch the modern conservative movement. Yet everywhere you look, the Republican Party is abandoning his principles.

One reason why Ronald Reagan had such an invigorating impact on his party is that he never allowed the Christian right to gain too much power at the expense of the Goldwater right.

The senator’s conservatism was rooted in small government. But today’s Grand Old Party has morphed into the “Grand Old Spending Party”, as the libertarian Cato Institute dubs it. Total government spending grew by 33% in George Bush’s first term. Goldwater’s hostility to big government also extended to government meddling in people’s private lives. He thundered that social conservatives such as Jerry Falwell deserved “a swift kick in the ass”, and insisted that the decision to have an abortion should be “up to the pregnant woman, not up to the pope or some do-gooders or the religious right”. For Goldwater, abortion was “not a conservative issue at all”. For many Republicans today, it often seems to be the only conservative issue.


This love affair with big government has been inflamed by the experience of power. Ten years ago, the champions of conservatism were anti-government radicals such as Newt Gingrich and Dick Armey. Today they are patronage-wallahs like Tom DeLay. The congressional Republican Party, once a brake on spending, is now an accelerator. Congress trimmed Mr Clinton’s budgets by $57 billion in 1996–2001; in Mr Bush’s first term, it added an extra $91 billion of domestic spending.

Despite this, it would be a mistake to dismiss Goldwaterism as a side-show. The Arizonan would have applauded at least some of Mr Bush’s policies, including his tax cuts, his strong defence of gun rights, and Social Security reform, a cause that Goldwater embraced in the 1960s. He would also have found something to like in some of Mr Bush’s conservative judges-in-waiting, particularly Priscilla Owen and Janice Rogers Brown, who have both been vigorous supporters of property rights.

Goldwaterism is also flourishing at the local level, particularly in the west. Thanks in part to the Goldwater Institute, Arizona has taken bigger strides towards school choice than any other state in the union. Last year, Seattle rejected overwhelmingly a do-gooder coffee tax. Florida recently passed a “right to shoot” law, giving citizens the right to shoot people who attack them in the street.


One reason why Ronald Reagan had such an invigorating impact on his party is that he never allowed the Christian right to gain too much power at the expense of the Goldwater right. Messrs Bush and Rove may have to pay more attention to that balance if they are to realise their dream of turning the Republicans into America’s permanent ruling party.

This is all another way of describing the possible split in the Republican Party: some say immigration is the issue and others say a distaste for the religious right’s influence. I see it as being split along the Goldwater lines. I favor immigration, like President Bush, but I'm increasingly uncomfortable with the RR's influence in the party. The Left immediately gave credit to the "values voters" and tried to denigrate the country because of it. Members of the RR were happy to accept credit because it would give them more influence. Don't get me wrong: I'm not one of the hysterics who thinks we are headed for "theocracy", but I do see the Party pandering too much to the RR.

I'm not in total disagreement with the religious right, but my disagreements are real and matter at the voting booth. Again, though, I'm not in total disagreement. For instance, I happen to agree with the religious right that Roe v. Wade should be overturned, but it ends there for me. Returning the issue to the states where it belongs is my goal. I suspect that the RR would be thrilled with a SCOTUS ruling that made abortion illegal in all states, whereas I would not be happy; not at all.

Bush's non-defense, non-homeland-security spending during the first term is still an embarrassment, along with the steel tariffs and the huge farm bill. In this respect, Bush looks a lot like Nixon. Not a flattering comparison, to say the least.

Bush signed McCain-Feingold though it was against his own stated principles (Nixonian also). He massively increased spending on the Department of Education and it’s so large now (over $50 billion) that the only way to get rid of it would be along the lines of welfare reform. He could propose that the Department be abolished and the huge budget spread among the states as block grants. I would be thrilled if this could be done.

If the alternative weren’t so hideous—the Democrats—I would have a hard time voting Republican these days.

If loving you is wrong, I don't wanna be Wright

The Wright Amendment is back in the news, as Southwest Airlines (my new favorite carrier—$220 round-trip tickets from JAN to RDU will give you the warm fuzzies, as will non-stop flights to my favorite city in North America) is stepping up its lobbying effort to get the flight restrictions on Dallas’ Love Field repealed.

Vance of Begging to Differ links a study that shows Dallas has the highest airfares of any major U.S. city, and the lack of competition with American Airlines at DFW, particularly now that Delta has shut down its Dallas hub due to its financial problems, is pretty clearly the cause.

American may have also dug itself a bit of a hole in trying to protect its fortress hub at DFW: the Kansas City Star reports that American reneged on promises it made Missouri lawmakers when it took over TWA, and the new chairman of the Transportation Subcommittee of the Senate Appropriations Committee is none other than Kit Bond of Missouri.

Nobody beats the Whizz

Vikings RB Onterrio Smith was apparently caught in possession of a device known as “The Original Whizzinator,” apparently designed to help people beat drug tests.

If I were particularly bored, I’d launch into a long invective about the fact the only reason anyone would need such a device is due to the widespread paranoia about drugs in America. Good thing I’m not that bored. (þ: OTB and PTI)