Thursday, August 19, 2010

Muslims, Mosques, and Manners

Amid all of the unseemly froofraw over the defilement of the hallowed ground of lower Manhattan, moral clarity has been lacking. Until now. Thanks to True Gentleman Adam Shaw of Baltimore, who reminds us of the need for sensitivity and tolerance:

The stated motive of building an Islamic center and mosque near ground zero is to bring Muslims and non-Muslims together, a worthwhile goal. Fostering good relations between different communities requires, above all else, sensitivity, and the ability to see through the eyes of the other.

Some Muslims, by insisting on their “right” to build this mosque where other Muslims killed thousands of Americans, show an astounding level of insensitivity and are thwarting their alleged goal of increasing understanding and harmony.

Adam hits the nail on the head. When one group refuses to have any relations at all with another, the polite thing for the second group to do is to accept it and disappear quietly. A polite government might even lend a helping hand.

Personally, I'm heartened by this insightful display of moderation, which harkens back to the era of civil rights, when, sadly, some Americans stirred up trouble (none having existed before) when they refused to consider and accommodate the sensitivities of their neighbors.

Kudos, Adam. You're a gentleman and a scholar and an inspiration to us all.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Manners Please, Mr. President!

Thanks to the intrepid reporting of Mark Leibovich at the Times, we know the cause of gridlock on health insurance reform: Barack Obama's appalling lack of social graces.

It was not always thus, however. The President in the past upheld the dictates of politeness by inviting Republican leaders to cocktail parties. Now, for no reason whatsoever, the President has evidently decided that the Republicans are not good-faith partners in politics and has shunned their pleasant company.

Though shocking, it's true! Leibovitch has left no stone unturned to find disinterested and impartial sources of information. Who better to ask why Obama is disinterested in working with Congressional Republicans than the Congressman who leads the caucus in political combat against the President's agenda?

Mr. Obama, who barely knew the leaders of the other party when he served in the Senate, seems to have lost any expectation that investing a lot of quality time with Republican leaders would help build a better relationship. (To wit: when asked in an interview what he would say to the president in a private meeting, Mr. Cantor said, “I would take the opportunity to press the president on why he thinks it’s better to ignore the public.”)
For those of you who might rudely question Cantor's impartiality, this blog has neither the time nor the inclination to tell you why you're wrong. Suffice it to say that Leibovich consulted a roughly equal number of partisan Democratic sources to present the other side of this profound debate, thus conforming to the highest standards of journalistic excellence.

I feel better knowing that the Paper of Record is there to extend a wagging finger to stem the currents of rudeness flowing through the capital city's social circuitry.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Hall of Uncouth: Alan Grayson

Readers must forgive my breach of my established standards that a long and distinguished career of indecorous and disrespectful behavior must precede induction to the Hall. Mr. Grayson has truly pushed the envelope of uncouthness with his insistence that economic and historical perspective and standards of fairness be applied to judging the actions of Wall Street bankers, rather than mere deference to their feelings.

Well done, Congressman. You've earned it.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

I'm worried about the Roberts Court

Apparently, they've fallen into a vortex in which the passage of time no longer moves uniformly from "before" to "after", because they no longer have the ability that you and I callously take for granted to distinguish between what political candidates do before an election and what they do after taking office:

The appearance of influence or access, furthermore, will not cause the electorate to lose faith in our democracy. By definition, an independent expenditure is political speech presented to the electorate.... The fact that a corporation, or any other speaker, is willing to spend money to try to persuade voters presupposes that the people have the ultimate influence over elected officials.

I'm particularly afraid for Justice Anthony Kennedy, since this vortex has evidently caused him particular distress; I can only conclude that in this other universe it is possible for campaign contributions to both corrupt elected officials and be completely irrelevant to their conduct. Since it would be uncouth to criticize a ruling written by five old conservative Catholic men in weird robes under the trying circumstances of crossing over into an alternate universe, I urge readers to refrain from speculation on the question of whether policies popular with the public are generally enacted if wealthy interests are aligned against them, or whether these kinds of donations buy influence. Now is not the time for such bickering and arguing.

Rather, since apparently they are close enough to an interdimensional portal to render judicial opinions that obey the laws of grammar and matter that prevail in our universe (I think the logical fallacies and specious reasoning are fairly attributed to crossing the boundary between dimensions), let us hope that the justices can find a rope, throw it back through the portal, and let the remaining justices pull them back to safety. With two ladies on the other side, I don't know if it'll work. Maybe Alito's hired Tim Tebow as a clerk in case any feats of strength are required in chambers? I shudder to contemplate Roberts, Alito, Scalia, Thomas, and Kennedy vanishing from our universe without a trace.