This just has to be a better day than yesterday.
And I’m not even referring to the Yankees beating the Red Sox 17-13 in the first MLB game ever played in Europe.
Also, much thanks to the many readers who sent their condolences to me and my family. It helped.
1. Keepin’ a-goin’! Believe it or not, having to say farewell to our sweet, vocal and witty Jack Russell terrier was not necessarily the worst part of our Saturday. This makes today another ethics challenge, that being the theme of the intentionally simple-minded poem used by comic actor Henry Gibson on “Laugh-In,” “The Dick Van Dyke Show,” and later as a country music song in Robert Altman’s “Nashville.”
The ditty was “Keep A-Goin,” and Gibson, unethically, left the impression that he had written it. He hadn’t: the poem was written Frank Lebby Stanton (1857-1927), now forgotten, and Henry (who died in 2009) bears some of the responsibility for that, though the poem was ripe for stealing since the copyright expired long ago.. The “Nashville” credits claim Gibson was the author of the song. Wrong. Here it is:
Ef you strike a thorn or rose,
Ef it hails, or ef it snows,
‘Taint no use to sit an’ whine,
When the fish ain’t on yer line;
Bait yer hook an’ keep a-tryin’—
When the weather kills yer crop,
When you tumble from the top,
S’pose you’re out of every dime,
Bein’ so ain’t any crime;
Tell the world you’re feelin’ prime—
When it looks like all is up,
Drain the sweetness from the cup,
See the wild birds on the wing,
Hear the bells that sweetly ring,
When you feel like sighin’ sing—
Since around 4:30 pm yesterday, I have felt like doing absolutely nothing other than grieving and helping the rest of my family deal with the sadness that engulfs us. But, as another poet memorably said, I have promises to keep, and miles to go before I sleep.
So do we all.
2. Today’s Democrats support forced busing. They support forcing a lot of things. As if the far Left isn’t supporting enough terrible ideas that threaten the viability of the nation as well as democracy, the second debate showed a renewed enthusiasm for forced busing. Of course it did! The Declaration’s principles of guaranteed liberty are suddenly anathema to many liberals, as bizarre as that sounds. Judges ordering that Americans had to allow their children to be forced to go to schools far away from their homes in order to achieve racial quotas was constitutionally questionable in the Sixties, and subsequent jurisprudence has made it clear—I thought—that even if an ethical rationale could be defended a half-century ago, the strategy is considered dictatorial now.
Unless one is a candidate for the Democratic nomination for President, that is.
The Supreme Court case Milliken v. Bradley, 418 U.S. 717 (1974), finally began limiting busing just as the public was becoming progressively more aligned against the process. The Court declared that federal courts did not have the authority to order inter-district desegregation unless it could be proven that suburban school districts intentionally mandated segregation policies. The courts could order desegregation where segregation patterns existed, but only within municipalities, not suburban areas. In 2002, the Supreme Court upheld a lower court decision in Belk v. Charlotte-Mecklenburg Board of Education which declared that the school system had achieved desegregation status and that busing, was unnecessary, and thus impermissible. Then, in 2007, the Roberts Court ruled in Parents Involved in Community Schools v. Seattle School District No. 1 (PICS) that student assignment plans based on race could not be used to maintain racial balance.
The apparent enthusiasm of modern Democrats for a device that was oppressive and ethically questionable at best is less significance for the specific policy it involves than it is for the undemocratic attitudes it exposes.
3. Canada shows us what can happen without a First Amendment…The Quebec government passed a bill this month barring schoolteachers, police officers, judges and other public employees from wearing religious symbols in the workplace. A religious symbol is defined as “any clothing, symbol, jewelry, ornament, accessory or headgear that is worn in connection with a religious conviction or belief.” The government added an amendment that would allow inspectors to verify that the law was being obeyed.
To pass such an anti-democratic law, Quebec invoked a Canadian constitutional loophole known as the “notwithstanding clause,” which empowers Canadian legislatures in the various provinces to override basic individual rights if sufficiently “necessary’—you know, like if the next Democratic majority needed to banish “hate speech” or ban guns here. The legislation will not apply to those already working in the public sector as long as they stay in the same position. However, under the bill, a Muslim teacher wearing a head scarf could not be promoted to a higher position like school principal and continue to wear her “religious symbol.” Lawyers who wear head scarves, crosses, skullcaps or turbans will also no longer be able to work as external counsel for the government, or to represent it before the courts or with a third party.
Naturally, critics of the measure are using it to impugn the U.S., because that’s what smug Canadian politicians and pundits do. Catherine McKenzie, the lead lawyer for a group seeking to overturn the legislation. “This bill is based on the same forces of populism we are seeing in the United States …the fear of the other.”
Oh no you don’t, you America-bashing hack. This country’s traditional civil libertarians are doing the opposite of what Quebec’s new law intends, trying to hold back the oppressive wave of anti-religious bigotry that was seeded by the last administration. Quebec’s discriminatory law would be impossible in the U.S., nor would anything but a small minority of citizens (and extremist atheists) support it, while this measure is apparently supported by a majority of Quebecers. We have an Amendment that guarantees the Freedom of Religion, and there is no cynical “notwithstanding clause.”
4. Oh, how neat! A keyless car! And the old way of starting the ignition was inadequate how? The Marshalls finally have new car, our first with the same year as the one it was acquired in since our late, lamented, loved Oldsmobile Aurora, which I totaled on Route 395. This Nissan Altima has a keyless ignition, which I have dealt with in various rental cars, but never with my own.
Ms. Penney, 81, and Mr. Livingston, 88, were found dead at their home in Sarasota, Fla., poisoned by carbon monoxide, according to preliminary tests by the local medical examiner. Susan Livingston said that after the car — which had a keyless ignition — pulled into the garage attached to their house, the engine had continued to run.
The deaths highlight a hazard that regulatory and legislative efforts have yet to remedy: Without the motion of turning a physical key, some car owners, especially older ones, forget to turn off a vehicle. Based on news reports, lawsuits, police and fire records, and research by advocacy groups, at least 36 people have been killed in the United States in such incidents since 2006, including seven in the past six months. Dozens of others have been injured, some left with brain damage.
By my calculations, that’s a lot of people who have been killed or injured because auto manufacturers violated the “If it ain’t broke , don’t fix it” principle, and didn’t perform a basic cost-benefit analysis to determine if the benefits of being able to turn your car on without taking the key out of your pocket outweighed that confusion of drivers not being clear on when the car was turned off.