Token Dissonance

Black & gay, young & conservative. A Southern gentleman writes about life and politics after Yale


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Scouting Tolerance

Update: This post was adapted by The Huffington Post. You can find that article here.

“We all live with the objective of being happy, our lives are all different and yet the same.” –Anne Frank

Amazing natural phenomenon where the Baltic and North Seas meet but don't mix because of the differing density

“Two nations between whom there is no intercourse and no sympathy; who are as ignorant of each other’s habits, thoughts, and feelings, as if they were dwellers in different zones, or inhabitants of different planets.” –Benjamin Disraeli

As a child, I was taught that you catch more flies with honey than vinegar. Dad’s particular corollary—pick your battles, as it’s not always worth it to be “right”—has served him well in the Army, so I’ve long aspired to apply its wisdom to my life. For this reason, it always made a sort of intuitive sense to seek mutual understanding and deescalate conflict rather than appeal to the choir in a scorched-earth crusade for feel-good “authenticity”. There is little value in a crown of bitterness, however righteous.

This philosophy of living, it turns out, is wonderfully conducive to maintaining close, mutually edifying relationships with many people whose political and ideological priorities would, I strongly suspect, be the ruin of America (and Western civilization) if ever realized. I have well-meaning friends who oppose gay marriage, distrust the military, hate guns, disdain football, loathe the South, think highly of France, want ever higher taxes, and blaspheme the Southeastern Conference. I don’t need my loved ones to agree with me on all that’s right and true, and I have defended those whose positions I reject. I just need the people I care about to be willing to hear me and understand where I’m coming from. Where consideration is given, it is returned.

Accordingly, I’m not terribly surprised by the development of what might seem an unlikely friendship between LGBT activist Shane Windmeyer of Campus Pride and noted evangelical Dan Cathy of Chick-fil-A. If there is any virtue in “tolerance” and “diversity”, you can find it in this:

“Dan, in his heart, is driven by his desire to minister to others and had to choose to continue our relationship throughout this controversy. He had to both hold to his beliefs and welcome me into them. He had to face the issue of respecting my viewpoints and life even while not being able to reconcile them with his belief system. He defined this to me as “the blessing of growth.” He expanded his world without abandoning it. I did, as well. [My emphasis]”

And thus a chasm was bridged.

Just last summer, as another bitter presidential campaign launched into orbit, the Boy Scouts closed a two-year study by reaffirming their ban on gay scouts and leaders. By then, there was something resembling growing public consensus in favor of including gays, and both presidential candidates were on record supporting that consensus. Still, the Boy Scouts were primarily backed by religious organizations that preferred the status quo, and so it held. Now, however, it seems that policy might change, after all, much to the chagrin of some—though certainly not all—of the faithful.

If the Boy Scouts decide to shed their national requirement to exclude gays, there will not necessarily be a sudden, massive change-of-heart within the ranks any more than Dan Cathy is now a gay rights activist because of his friendship with Shane Windmeyer. While those troops that have long been gay-friendly will be able to come out of glass closets, others will be allowed to maintain their locally decided ban on gays. In short, a new world won’t be built overnight. What will matter is that fewer members will be rejected for being who they are, and religious conservatives will not be compelled to contravene their values. In an ideal world, people from various perspectives will find new occasions and opportunities to understand one another, to everyone’s benefit. Even if not all minds ever fully change, there is hope in the possibility of harmony emerging from where once there thrived grievance and resentment.

Wherever you fall on this or any issue, there is often a world of difference between being wrong and being evil. We don’t have to all agree on the content or path to a better world of enduring fulfillment and mutual respect, but we can at least acknowledge that we each strive for one. If nothing else, may we always have at least that much in common.

We can agree to disagree.

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The Golden Taxes

“Why would anybody in their right mind leave Dallas for Southern California? We’ve got the same weather without the liberals.” –Gigi Stopper, GCB

It’s hard out there for a baller.

As you may recall, California voters in the last election enacted a plan to raise taxes on their most successful neighbors. Top earners in the Golden State now owe more than half of their income to the government, effective retroactively, and more than half of all revenue in Sacramento will be supplied by less than 1% of residents who make 20% of income. Unsurprisingly, many of the wealthy are fleeing as swiftly and shamelessly as Nicholas Sarkozy from Socialist France.

Many in the “fair share” crowd who espouse Ted Strickland’s “economic patriotism” are predictably, scathingly maudlin over the fact that people have the temerity to pursue more economical happiness. Liberals even got a cautious quasi-apology from their latest high-profile tax-flight target, Phil Mickelson, for stating the obvious—people want to keep their money. But as many are noting, Mickelson has not recanted his intention to consider leaving California. He merely expressed regret for trying to encourage “change”. Funny, that.

As Ed Morrissey noted over at Hot Air:

“Well, I don’t think Mickelson was looking for sympathy. I think he was explaining that he doesn’t have to put up with Jerry Brown’s tax hikes to fund a massively dysfunctional state government, and that he’s not likely to do so.”

Meanwhile in my native Florida, California-expatriate Tiger Woods enjoys tax-free income. Elsewhere, in predictable blue-red splits, several states have considered “millionaire taxes”, while lawmakers elsewhere have announced plans to abolish income and corporate taxes. There are certainly many problems with our convoluted tax codes in America. But whatever your thoughts on the matter, one thing remains clear: the problem remains spending. Just as California has done little to prevent future budget woes, the federal chasm between revenue and spending endures primarily because of entitlements.

In wake of all this, President Obama’s inaugural address barely mentioned the top issues concerning most Americans: jobs (fewer of those than at Obama’s first inaugural), debt (a lot more of that), and economy. Instead, he triumphantly heralded a resurgent era of the welfare state in which none of the debt-driving programs—entitlements—would face any serious reforms to keep them solvent. Thus, the administration is doubling down on what Walter Russel Mead dubs the blue social model, which Presidents Reagan and Bill “Era of Big Government is Over” Clinton had previously rebuked en route to tax reform and balanced budgets. This comes even as well-to-do citizens get far more from entitlement programs than they paid in the first place.

So this is the bed we lie in, America. Until we’re willing to make tough decisions to rein in entitlement spending, our expenditures will rise and our revenue will stagnate. In response, liberal administrations will push tax hikes, as they have from California to Maryland to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, and ever growing government will depend on an ever shrinking group of earners. Contrary to what many on the Left like to believe, those earners can always leave. Many already have. Other successful American job-creators, like Mark Zuckerberg and Whole Foods CEO John Mackey, are voting Republican with their wallets, despite the chagrin of Democrats.

You can berate them for greed, callousness, and lack of “patriotism” all you want, but at the end of the day, they’ll still be taking their wealth and jobs to friendlier climes.

And we’ll still have our debts to fix.


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Speed of Change

“You’re never as clever as you think you are.” –Mom

I was impatient as a kid. As has become archetypical of my generation, I wanted everything immediately and perfectly, and I read injustice in the heavens at my every frustration. You see, entitlement, particularly of the sloppy, Digital-Age variety, is an intensely emotional commitment. Whether it manifests in idle resentment or exhibitionist rage, a debt denied is an existential offense to the moral order that happens to linger in your orbit. So when I wanted snacks, I deserved them now. When I finished my homework, I assumed it was eo ipso done right—who has time to check their work when the universe beckons with dodgeball and moon pies, hide-and-seek and fireflies?

Fortunately, the many responsible adults in my young life disagreed with my less-than-adorable assessment of universal truths. I was required to wait for my turn or the appropriate time or the rightful owner’s consent in order to do things. I was made to double-check my math, proofread my writing, defend my assertions, and right my wrongs. In short, I was made to check my work. Moreover, I was taught the world would expect such things of me because those who run the world expect such things of themselves, and that is how good men behave. You get ahead by being on point, and thus you earn your keep.

What happens when you check your work. Stay in school, kids.

It seems the world didn’t get my upbringing.

As the recent Manti Te’o scandal marinates in memes, a recurring wonder reaches crescendo: why didn’t any of these reporters bother to check their work? From Sports Illustrated to CBS to The Chicago Tribune to Salon to the Associated Press, a story got reprinted over and over again with hardly anybody confirming anything. How was this possible? How often does such a thing happen without our knowing it? Perhaps the most chilling insight into this ridiculous affair comes courtesy of NPR:

“The truth is that much of the time, reporters are just like everyone else: They largely believe what they read in the papers and see on TV. So each successive journalist unconsciously relied on the last for confidence in what he or she was presenting to the public. And this story was one they wanted to believe.”

As disturbing as that might sound, something about it rings true. We are, after all, a culture fond of propagating frequently misattributed quotes—often from Shakespeare or Morgan Freeman—and jumping on celebrity causes—from Kony 2012 to It Gets Better—with devils for entrails. Speaking of videos, doctored accounts have led our federal executives to fire people in embarrassingly hurried error and our trustworthy pundits to double down on discredited network lines. While we’re at it, how many people, news anchors, and governments have been fooled by satire to date?

In our current debates over violence, there has been much appeal to raw emotion to blunt the sobering checks of reason. From the offset, the rhetorical issues surrounding so-called “assault weapons” has degenerated so far that Wikipedia is now more credible on this matter than The New York Times. Beyond that, there has been the bizarre notion that feel-good, do-something bans on rifle cosmetics and rare-in-crime magazines is a “sensible” way to credibly reduce any kind of violence. But notwithstanding all that confusion, we still have partisans like Andrew Cuomo and Rachel Maddow calling for “moving fast” on “sensible” gun laws and “common-sense” restrictions, even as Vice President Biden notes the established ease of getting around bans.

There were many practical lessons I learned growing up an impatient, quick-tempered brat in the singular nexus of ethnic and cultural diversity that is the U.S. Army. One key understanding was that “fast” and “sensible” are competing goods, and there is nothing common about “common sense” (another way of saying, be wary of groupthink). Sometimes, the situation demands immediate decision and you cannot afford to “overthink”. Deliberation does have costs, after all. The other side of that coin, however, is the old adage: there’s never enough time to do it right, but there’s always enough time to do it over. Enter: New York.

In wake of the tragedy and outrage of Newtown and the ubiquitous desire to do something about it, Andrew Cuomo set out to push the “toughest gun control legislation in the country” before anyone could stop and think too much about what it was they were passing. And so they did. It is illegal to have unfashionable rifles and old magazines with eight or more clips in New York. There are no exceptions to this law. Now, as every police officer in the Empire State prepares to become a gun criminal, Governor Cuomo and the nation’s gun-control enthusiasts are learning that hallmark lesson of my childhood: always check your work.


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Right Quick: The Crazies

You hear a lot these days about the “fiscally conservative, socially liberal” types who would vote for the Republican Party if only it got its act together. MSNBC-friendly Republicans like Colin Powell and Joe Scarborough have each done their part to help sustain this narrative at times. To be sure, there are a number of social positions the GOP generally represents that are rightfully anathema to this crowd, and I understand that. What’s rather interesting, however, is the degree to which the Trojan Horse of “right-wing extremism” has come to extend to the very fiscal responsibility that would-be conservatives profess to want.

Republicans don’t all agree on the optimal way forward on fiscal issues any more than do the Democrats. But whatever the media hype to the contrary, we should all be able to agree that, say, continually raising the debt ceiling without substantial budgetary reform is less than ideal. To this effect, you GOP-leery fiscal conservatives, Jonah Goldberg has written you a letter:

“So, Bob, as a “fiscal conservative,” what was so outrageous about trying to cut pork — Fisheries in Alaska! Massive subsidies for Amtrak! — from the Sandy disaster-relief bill? What was so nuts about looking for offsets to pay for it?”

Even if you think the House mishandled the Sandy bill, their objections seem not unreasonable, and they did offer another, less pork-laden bill. But as that fight is over, let’s move on to the “moderates”:

“Well, let’s talk about Eisenhower, your kind of Republican. Did you know that in his famous farewell address he warned about the debt? “We cannot mortgage the material assets of our grandchildren without risking the loss also of their political and spiritual heritage,” he said. “We want democracy to survive for all generations to come, not to become the insolvent phantom of tomorrow.”

Bob, we are that insolvent phantom, you feckless, gormless clod. The year Eisenhower delivered that speech, U.S. debt was roughly half our GDP. But that was when we were still paying off WWII (not to mention things like the Marshall Plan), and the defense budget constituted more than half the U.S. budget (today it’s a fifth and falling). Now, the debt is bigger than our GDP. Gross Domestic Product is barely $15 trillion. The national debt is over $16 trillion and climbing — fast. The country isn’t going broke, Bob, it is broke.

When George W. Bush added nearly $5 trillion in national debt in two terms you were scandalized. When Obama added more than that in one term, you yawned. When, in 2006, then-senator Obama condemned Bush’s failure of leadership and vowed to vote against raising the debt ceiling, you thought him a statesman. Obama, who wants to borrow trillions more, now admits that was purely a “political vote.”

Yet when Republicans actually have the courage of Obama’s own convictions, you condemn them.”

This, of course, brings us to the crux of our spending problem of which liberals loathe to speak—entitlements:

“Anyone who calls himself a fiscal conservative understands we have a spending problem. Do the math. A two-earner couple who retired in 2011 after making $89,000 per year will have paid about $114,000 into Medicare over their lifetimes but will receive $355,000. When will it dawn on you that Obama doesn’t think we have a spending problem? I ask because when he said “we don’t have a spending problem,” it seemed to have no effect on you.

And yet you still think Paul Ryan’s budget was “extreme.” Do you know when it balanced the budget? 2040. What’s a non-extreme date to balance the budget, Bob? 2113?”

Until and unless Democrats get serious about transformative spending cuts, my fiscally conservative friend, the GOP is the only game in town for deficit reduction. I’m not saying the Party is perfect by any means, but a few rotten apples don’t change the fact that we, as a movement, are committed to the fiscal reforms that will move our country toward the right track. And every step of the way, the Left fights us tooth and nail. Remember that the next time somebody howls about “extremists.”


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The End Game on Guns

Update: A modified version of this post was adapted by The Daily Caller to address the recent Cuomo and Obama proposals for gun control. You can find that article here.

“When seconds count, government is minutes away.  This means that in those critical moments when violence sparks, you are on your own.” – Nicholas J. Johnson

“We must stop the madness.” –Gov. Andrew Cuomo

Beware of Government bearing “common sense”

To the shock and horror of (some) people from places where I don’t care to live, gun and ammunition sales are breaking records. While the trend has escalated in wake of the recent tragedy in Newtown, it had been gaining steam ever since President Obama’s reelection inspired many wary Americans to fear for their Second Amendment rights. I can hardly run into a friend in Virginia these days without one mentioning plans to procure their first weapon or expand an existing arsenal. (For my part, I intend to wait for prices to calm down again.)

As the much-maligned NRA gains 100,000 new members in 18 days—expected to reach 5 million during this debate—Michael Bloomberg’s Mayors against Illegal Guns has seen its membership skyrocket as well. So the cultural divide yawns between worlds adrift.

Liberals are ruefully engaged in mocking perspectives they appear unable to understand from people they seem unwilling to take seriously. Nevertheless, Piers “Rambling Asininity Never Sounded So Posh” Morgan, there are many compelling reasons why ordinary people would want to own so-called “assault weapons”, which are not actual military-grade assault rifles. While we’re at it, semiautomatic firing capacity isn’t terribly new:

“Consider this from an 1862 report assessing Winchester’s lever-action Henry rifle:

‘187 shots were fired in three minutes and thirty seconds and one full fifteen shot magazine was fired in only 10.8 seconds. A total of 1,040 shots were fired and hits were made from as far away as 348 feet at an 18 inch square target with a 44 caliber 216 grain bullet [compare the 22 caliber 55 grain AR-15 round].’

This was common nineteenth century technology when the Fourteenth Amendment trumped state laws that denied citizens of United States the constitutional right to keep and bear arms for self-defense.”

Vice President Biden has indicated that he will present his proposals for gun control to President Obama on Tuesday, more than two weeks ahead of the deadline. Sen. Feinstein’s push for an “assault weapons” ban is expected to be among them, along with strengthened mental health and background checks for all firearm purchases. I understand that gun control advocates see proposed bans as about gun violence, and they aim to better the world. But the seeds of antagonism are sown, not in the hearts of recalcitrant conservatives, but in the essence of the argument for the bans. Nicholas J. Johnson elucidates nicely:

“Supply controls are no answer to this problem unless you eliminate virtually all guns.  Only when you fully acknowledge that it is impossible to get rid of guns in America (and that the failed attempt would make things worse by sending a hundred million guns fully into the black market) do you see the substantive emptiness and folly of Feinstein’s plan.

And this actually reveals a crucial sticking point.  Some of us genuinely appreciate that it is impossible to ban guns in America.  Others of us (and I believe Feinstein must be one of them)  still, deep down, imagine that we might someday fulfill the supply control dreams hatched in the 1970’s and actually get rid of guns.

Indeed, if you don’t deep down believe that this is possible, the Feinstein plan is just nonsense. Because it cannot be true that the Senator is saying we want to stop mass shootings against innocents using certain semiautomatic rifles, but shootings using other semiautomatics, pumps, lever actions, revolvers, double barrels or bolt actions are ok. If your tool is supply controls, you must ban those guns too. (Gun people know this. So they will fight this proposal like it is the last battle.)”

The reason my fellow gun rights proponents respond to bans as though the government desires to take our guns is precisely because the bans could only properly “work” if they do so. This—along with the facts that “assault weapons” is a political invention and more people die from barehanded (or –footed) assault than from all rifles—is the real reason the last ban failed and why this one would, too. Guns are all deadly and there are many “civilian” weapons (e.g. for hunting deer) more powerful than and as semiautomatic as “assault weapons”.

To understand the profound lack of seriousness of any “assault” ban, consider the laws in question (courtesy of Reason):

The New York Times reports that what Gov. Andrew Cuomo yesterday described as “the toughest assault weapons ban in the country” would copy California’s definition of forbidden firearms. In addition to a list of specific models, California’s law covers guns that meet certain criteria. Any one of these six features, for example, makes a rifle with a detachable magazine illegal in California (unless it was legally owned prior to June 1, 1989, in which case it has to be registered): 1) a flash suppressor, 2) a grenade launcher or flare launcher, 3) a thumbhole stock, 4) a folding or telescoping stock, 5) a forward pistol grip, or 6) a pistol grip that protrudes conspicuously beneath the action of the weapon. If you are wondering why a mass murderer needs any of these features to kill schoolchildren or moviegoers, you have already put more thought into this issue than the average legislator. [My emphasis]”

If the Vice President’s anodyne proposals pass, we would be remiss not to wonder what gun control enthusiasts will want after the next disaster. After all, they will have done nothing of substance to prevent that problem beyond the placebos of a poll-tested echo chamber of “common sense”. If overall violence—including gun violence—continues falling even as gun sales rise, perhaps we will finally get around to pondering a more holistic consideration of our culture and how to ameliorate its flaws. Then again, Diane Feinstein and her enablers might just find even more guns to ban and restrictions to pass in the name of “common sense”.

So to be clear: there is no such thing as an “assault weapon”. The weapons so labeled are not used in or intended for the military (sorry, Gen. McChrystal), nor are they particularly powerful, nor do they have much of anything to do with overall violence, armed or otherwise. That many ordinary people think otherwise is a testimony to our regrettably exaggerated trust in the competence and integrity of our media and political elite. Few in the chattering classes seem either willing to admit or capable of understanding easily demonstrable reality.

That should tell you plenty about how serious our leaders are about guns and violence.


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Richard Nixon, The Centennial

Update: This post was adapted by The Daily Caller. You can find that article here.

“Let’s remember the energy… there was the neighborhood, the communal determination that we, the children, should escape poverty, ignorance, disease, social injury and intimidation—escape, above all, insignificance. You must not come to nothing! Make something of yourselves!” –Philip Roth

“We go forward with our heads held high, but look back and remember where we come from.” –Col. Michael Hudson, U.S. Marines

“Sometimes you miss the memories, not the person.”

On January 9, 1913, a future President of the United States was born into a conservative Quaker family in Yorba Linda, California. A few weeks from now, forty years ago, Richard Milhous Nixon was inaugurated into his second term in office. Having won more electoral votes than any American president in history (to that point) by a still unprecedented margin of 18 million popular votes, he seemed the herald of a new era of American politics after a generation of New Deal dominance, bitter Civil Rights battles, and lukewarm Democratic wars in Southeast Asia.

Now, of course, President Nixon is largely remembered for ushering in a new era of governmental dysfunction, ill-advised economic meddling, escalating distrust in our public servants, and the so-called “Southern strategy” (which won him a now-incredible 36% of the black vote). But whatever his failings, real and imagined, Richard Nixon contributed much to the American story and the history of the Republican Party, including a two-decade conservative dominance of the White House. In remembering that Nixon swept every state but Massachusetts (and D.C.) en route to historic reelection, we must note his exceptional political savvy.

On the domestic front, he pushed policies to desegregate Southern schools, limit federal spending, protect the environment, and fight rampant sex discrimination. Before Clinton-Gingrich ended “welfare as we know it”, the Nixon administration proposed work requirements in an ultimately ill-fated endeavor to salve the sting of poverty. Whereas some conservatives today have been wont to, how to put it, reflexively malign the poor and struggling, Nixon knew how to sympathetically appeal to the dignity and plight of the working poor. For this they rewarded him electorally like no other executive besides Reagan, who was similarly gifted in the convoluted art of appealing to a diverse nation.

In foreign policy, President Nixon and Secretary Kissinger artfully sowed the seeds of American victory in the Cold War by taking advantage of the little-noted fact that Communist regimes in the USSR and China were not a monolith but antagonists. Through singular perspicacity, Nixon built on a strong record of fighting Communism, foreign and domestic (just ask Alger Hiss), to accomplish nuclear arms control agreements with the Soviet Union and the diplomatic opening of China. In winding down the Democrats’ war in Vietnam, he reaffirmed the GOP as the Party of Peace and responsible use of force—a distinction it would hold until the 21st Century. For such achievements, the fallen president would later be (privately) consulted for advice by Presidents Ronald Reagan and George H. W. Bush, who accomplished the final body blows to the fiefdom of the Bolsheviks.

This is not to say Richard Nixon is a model for Republicans Present. His commitment to conservatism notwithstanding, he was the first president in over a century whose Party controlled neither house of Congress. As such, he was obliged to yield to a far more robust coalition of progressivism than we are called to endure today, and he aimed to be a conservative reformer in a New Deal world—not exactly an enviable task. Accordingly, his governing philosophy “was only as conservative as he could be and only as liberal as he had to be.”

Moreover, he had the immensely complex task of governing a radical new consensus on civil rights, which presented a host of challenges in lieu of the clarity and achievements of today. His politically motivated price controls were a bust, his expansion of the welfare state earned legitimate qualms, and Watergate was an incalculable disgrace. But there must be something worth learning from a president who managed in four years to expand his share of national support by greater margins even than did Reagan. It is a testimony to Nixon’s governing success that his unelected, pardon-plagued successor Gerald Ford only barely lost the 1976 election because the Solid South rose again in a final stand against the divided Republican North.

The lesson of Nixon for conservatives is that we must understand the failures and successes of Republicans past—every bit as much as we must understand progressives present—if we are to take back our country from the brink of asphyxiating division, debt, and entitled mediocrity. We are not perfect, nor have been—or will be—our leaders and representatives. But if Woodrow “Segregate the Federal Government for No Reason” Wilson and Jimmy “How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Embarrass a Superpower” Carter can still get their accolades on the Left, we can remember Richard Nixon with a bit of perspective.

Besides, he was still a better president than Obama.


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Guns, Taxes, and the Devil

“Washington is often a contact sport.” –Deputy Secretary of State Thomas Nides

God’s in the SEC. All’s right with the world.

The first few days of 2013 have been eventful.

First, we got a belated deal on the tax side of the fiscal cliff. Democrats declared victory because taxes will go up on “the rich”. Republicans licked their wounds as the coalition inclined to blame the recession on the Bush tax cuts just extended 99% of those cuts into perpetuity. In the meantime, it turns out “the rich”—as defined by those who alone will see higher taxes—constitutes nearly every American worker who receives a paycheck. Nothing like a healthy dose of Hope & Change™ in the wallet! But rest assured, Democrats want more revenue and give us their oh-so-credible word that they are serious about cutting spending. They just don’t want to negotiate on it at a time when they might be forced to follow through. I’m sure that’s somehow the Republicans’ fault.

Whatever your feelings on the coming debt ceiling fight, understand this: lawmakers are exceedingly averse to spending reform. Neither side is particularly innocent here. Without some external—or self-created—pressure compelling them to do so, it would strain credulity to expect President Barack “We Don’t Have a Spending Problem” Obama and this Congress to make the sort of tough, responsible choices we need them to make to rein in the deficit. Washington seems to be defined by failure of leadership and deficiency of character these days. (Mike Shanahan is well in the running for Worst Person of 2013.)

Secondly, a newspaper in suburban New York is taking heat for publishing an interactive (and inaccurate) map with the names and addresses of gun owners (and law enforcement) in several counties. While I certainly don’t approve of this journal’s employees receiving threats or being targets of illegal behavior, we must acknowledge a rather vicious irony in their taking umbrage at having their own names and addresses published in retaliation. There is also the matter of their hiring armed guards (which are supposedly terrible for schools) to protect them from the repercussions of having private information broadcast to the public by hostile media. Karma sleeps with Irony tonight.

For my part, I would recommend that folks stop patronizing this particular paper rather than harass the staff. We should continue to highlight the unintended consequences that most reasonable people foresaw in directing criminals to exact households where they may (try to) steal weapons or more safely target unarmed families with minimal fear of harm:

“Legis. Aron Wieder (D-Spring Valley) called the publication of the list “irresponsible journalism” and said he now fears for his safety because the map broadcast that he does not have a gun license. At the news conference Friday morning, he handed a $150 certified check and a completed pistol permit application to Rockland County Clerk Paul Piperato.

I never owned a gun but now I have no choice,” Wieder said. “I have been exposed as someone that has no gun. And I’ll do anything, anything to protect my family.”

Piperato, who also serves as president to the New York State County Clerks Association, said all 62 counties in the state are supporting the state legislation to amend the law that makes gun permit holder information public.”

As a broader cautionary tale—or, as the President would say, a teachable moment—gun control enthusiasts should be wary of alienating potential allies in the push to change gun laws.

But enough about politics, we have my fourth-favorite holiday to celebrate: BCS Championship Monday! (It falls right behind the Fourth of July, Memorial Day, and SEC Championship Saturday, and just ahead of Super Bowl Sunday and Christmas.) As we all know (especially in South Florida), Nick Saban is the devil. However, devils are occasionally useful (see: Job and the temptations of Christ), and this particular incarnation is charged with securing the seventh straight BCS Championship for the Southeastern Conference.

For those of you not blessed with ties to God’s Country, Jared Freid has some words of wisdom on how you should approach tonight:

“Not only do Notre Dame grads feel their alma mater indicates a different class of people, they also believe that the rest of the country sees it that way, too. They believe they’re not just kings, but also populist heroes… And that’s the kind of delusion I can’t support – that I MUST root against… For this great country was founded on the noble notion of dissidence, in defiance of unaware monarchies and specious dictators. That a man has the right – nay, the RESPONSIBILITY – to call bullshit. To root for Notre Dame is to root for Orwellian propagandist lies (“Ignorance is Strength, Freedom is Slavery”). To root for Notre Dame is to root against America.

And so, on January 7th, flag draped on my shoulders and a cold Budweiser at my lips, I’ll utter two words in solemn solidarity with the rest of the freethinking nation: Roll Tide.”

Roll Tide Roll.