What I’ve been doing lately – columns
For loyal readers who’ve wondered if I’ve been taken over by the brain-eating movie reviewer from Mars. I’m still alive. I’ve been busy with other projects and personal issues I won’t bore you with.
I’ve been posting the TV and movie reviews I do for the print-only edition of the newspaper I work for as kind of a place holder, and because I think they’re kind of good in a mostly-inconsequential way. At least they appear to be the stuff I get the most complimentary remarks about from readers and fellow-journalists.
But what I’ve been really busy with, and haven’t chosen to unveil until now, it trying to become a self-syndicated columnist.
Some know I had a weekly column at my last newspaper. Well, now I’m at a bigger paper with a bigger staff, and they say, “Blog.” I have posted some of my newspaper blog stuff and will probably do some more, but I’m kind of uneasy about putting up a lot of stuff on my site that I do on company time.
After having gotten polite brush-offs from major syndicates, I discovered Minnesota’s own Jill Pertler, who is a self-syndicated columnist.
Soooo, what I’ve been doing is cranking out a column every week. I have a source list of Minnesota newspapers with contact data. Every week I cut about 20 from that list, and send a column to each of them with a contact letter, addressed personally to the editor. Then I add each to my long list of Minnesota editors, and send each weeks submission to the whole list.
It’s a bit tedious to be sure. But, I’ve gotten one contract so far and several nibbles. Pretty good after a couple months. Pertler said try it for six!
I haven’t been posting my stuff yet, because of course you don’t want to give away for free what you’re trying to sell. Not until a decent interval has passed for sure. And besides, the blog format is a bit different from newspaper column style. However I’m going to start posting after that decent interval has passed, just to archive these and make them available to potential subscribers.
So without further ado, here’s one from a couple weeks ago>
By Steve Browne
President Obama is currently being roasted for an apparent gaff about the Supreme Court.
In regards to the current case before the court concerning the constitutionality of Obamacare, the president said on April 2, “I’m confident that the Supreme Court will not take what would be an unprecedented, extraordinary step of overturning a law that was passed by a strong majority of a democratically elected Congress.”
Right wing pundits are having a field day bludgeoning Obama, a graduate of Harvard law school, former editor of the Harvard Law Review, and one-time lecturer (not a professor) on constitutional law with Marbury v Madison, the 1803 case that established the principle of judicial review. Not to mention the fact Obamacare passed by seven votes, hardly a “strong majority.”
What is bothering me is less the president’s views on judicial review than those seven votes.
What occurred to me while thinking about this issue was Thomas Jefferson’s remark, “Great innovations should not be forced on slender majorities.”
Jefferson of course, could toss off more profound observations in an offhand remark than most of today’s political thinkers can in a book.
This is what is bothering me about an awful lot of issues these days: energy policy, foreign policy, healthcare, etc.
Everyone can see these issues split the country right down the middle – and that’s precisely why we should be treading carefully here.
These proposed policies tend to be of the top-down, one-size-fits-all, my-way-or-the-highway kind. There’s little room for significant decision-making on the state and local level – or individual choice for that matter. You pays your taxes, you get your marching orders.
Now some decisions by government necessarily have to be of this kind. If we’re going to war, you don’t get to say, “No thanks, not my war,” and continue to trade with, travel to, or even send letters to the enemy country. There’s a word for that – treason.
Or for that matter, try opting out of using the roads.
But the issues we’re dealing with today are a lot less pressing than eminent war. Sorry, you may believe the climate is causing the seas to rise and flood Miami, but it’s not happening on a time scale equal to the Pearl Harbor attack, nor is it quite so obvious to all that the threat is looming as rapidly as some passionately believe.
People are not dying en mass in the streets from lack of health insurance, whatever the proponents of nationalized single-payer insurance say.
Yes it is possible man-caused climate change may have serious consequences down the road. Yes there are many individual hardships caused by skyrocketing medical costs. But the point is, these are complex issues, with wide range for honest disagreement among honest men. We are not going to solve them with government-mandated policies crafted slap-dash in six months!
And we are not going to make the acrimony go away by half the population forcing the policy down the throats of the other half. If the differences of opinion on any significant issue amount to a few percentage points (and in fact, in the case of Obamacare, polls show it’s a lot more unpopular than that,) then heck, that’s the percentage of people who change their minds six times before breakfast!
Consider World War II, the last war we had a nearly universal consensus for, versus Vietnam. Ask why the British traitor Lord Haw-Haw was executed and Tokyo Rose imprisoned, while Jane Fonda returned from making propaganda tours in North Vietnam and nobody dared lay a finger on her?
Precisely because WWII had universal approval, while Vietnam was so deeply divisive.
One of the principles of constitutionally limited government is that all decisions which can be left to individual citizens – should be. And for precisely this reason. Deeply divisive issues wind up being decided on slender majorities, and those decisions rend our society and breed contempt for all authority and all law.