Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Gay Marriage Is Conservative

From conservative commentator and former opponent of gay marriage David Frum,
No agency of government can ever begin to do for anyone what loving spouses do for each other. The stronger our families are, of every kind of family, the less government we’ll need.
There is the conservative argument. Conservatism in the traditional sense. Not the snake oil being peddled by tribute demanding idolators.

Thursday, March 07, 2013

Welcome To The Road To Damascus

Last night, Rand Paul spake and it was good.

For thirteen hours, the junior Senator from Kentucky did not read the newspaper, did not recite nursery rhymes, did not impress us with his knowledge of Betty Crocker. Instead, he spoke eloquently on one subject and one subject only; will the President guarantee he will not kill U.S. citizens on U.S. soil if they are not engaged in combat against their country.

For one day in that much reviled house on Capitol Hill, there was no discussion of the record number of judicial appointments unfilled, no talk of the idiocy meat cleaver called the sequester, no whining about who caused what latest inanity. For one day, it was about the most fundamental right; the right to not be killed by your government.

As I watched, Sen. Paul, I found myself frequently responding, nodding my head, retweeting missives from two writers, one liberal, one conservative, who have led this quiet crusade for years. As the night wore on and other Republicans joined Paul, there was a subtle shift in attitudes on my social media. Suddenly, it was a pep rally. A chance for Republicans to call out Democrats for not supporting the obvious. Rightly so.

But let's not shake those pom-poms too vigorously yet.

Let's travel back a decade and visit with Jose Padilla. Padilla was arrested in 2002 on charges of conspiring to create a "dirty bomb". He was transferred to military custody and held in solitary confinement for years without facing a court. The Bush administration argued vigorously that the in times of crisis, the 4th Amendment did not apply. Sound familiar?

Before his case came before the Supreme Court, the Bush administration finally transferred Padilla to civilian court where he was indicted, tried and convicted.

That decade also saw the establishment of the TSA. At the time, it was seen as a necessary inconvenience. Heck, there were those who said it didn't go far enough; that we should profile or ban certain groups from traveling all together. Ten years, later, TSA is seen as molesters of grandmothers and young children. Was this radical change caused by the natural tendency of Americans to quickly forget necessities when it interferes with convenience or yet another case of political expedience when the other guy holds the power? Probably a little of both.

As much as those hypocrisies irritate, so be it. The fight is here and it is now. As I hoped over five years ago, President Obama has awakened Republicans from their decade long slumber and prodded them to care about things beyond placating Grover Norquist or worshiping the deceased. He did it by mixing a little Nixon, lack of transparency, and a little Dubya, the imperial Presidency, and certainly with a stance I find abhorrent. But, it is done none the less.

Welcome to the great civil liberties awakening, Republican brothers and sisters. But have a care about preening with too much pride over your latest star. For it is pride that brought us here.

Friday, March 01, 2013

The Last Spoke

Many speak of the greatest generation, coined by Tom Brokaw to honor those who survived the Great Depression and won World War II, but in my family, the greatest generation was born a few years earlier. Not only did seven brothers and sisters experience and shape those towering events, but longevity allowed them to stretch their legacy from the days of the pioneers to the modern world which surrounds us now. At 104, the last of that generation, Cornelia Murphy, left us this week.

In the late 1830s, three Murphy brothers journeyed down the Thigpen Trail from North Carolina to the pine forests of southern Georgia. They purchased a stretch of land on the Ochlocknee River. In country still considered frontier, they carved out a harsh but fruitful life harvesting the longleaf pines, gathering the turpentine and hauling loaded mule drawn wagons to the nearest mills.

A few miles from the river, their grandson Robert Murphy established his first home. In that house were born eight sons and daughters; my grandmother, Fonnie, was the oldest. After Fonnie came Claudie, Addie, Onie, Roy, Mary, Cornelia and finally Paul. Claudie died very young and as time passed the remaining Murphy children became known as the "Seven".

Robert Murphy's small tin roofed house near burst at the seams and in 1913, he built a larger house just up the hill. It still stands today.

My grandmother and her siblings shaped the early life of a young man. When roads were still dirt, television was black and white and the woods were still a wonder, I would sit at her kitchen table listening to stories of going to town in the horse and buggy, picking peas and fishing in the deep holes of the Ochlocknee. She insisted I learn to swim because she never did and a recalcitrant mule once nearly dumped her and her father into the river, where she surely would have drowned.

She remembered the novelty of airplanes, the great struggles of the depression and sending her oldest son off to war. She tended to hoard her small bits of money. Flour, meal and vegetables grown in the garden were staples. Candy was an occasional extravagance. Hard lessons from living through hard times created a restraint and reserve we rarely see today.

Her brothers and sisters, including Aunt Cornelia, never strayed far from these roots. The men remained farmers. The women married and left but never too far; Aunt Onie making it as far as Tallahassee. As they grayed, they still gathered every Christmas. Much to the chagrin of the next generation of women, it was years before they were invited to the sisters special afternoon meetings.

Uncle Roy was the first to leave us.Gone too soon in a family known for its longevity. My grandmother was next. The rest stretched their full lives well into their eighties with the majority making it to their nineties. Aunt Cornelia made it to the century mark and beyond.

With the "Seven", there was a tradition. One florist in town had a peculiar standing order; a wagon wheel arrangement with eight spokes. As each brother and sisters passed, it would appear at the front of the church with an additional spoke removed.

Today, the last spoke is broken and the wheel is no more.