CAUTION, CURVES AHEAD
NEW YORK TIMES
We know what kind of Syria we’d like to see emerge, and we have a good idea of the terrible costs of not achieving that and the war continuing. But I don’t see a consensus inside Syria — or even inside the opposition — for the kind of multisectarian, democratic Syria to which we aspire. … I’m dubious that just arming “nice” rebels will produce the Syria we want; it could, though, drag us in in ways we might not want. But if someone can make the case that arming the secular-nationalist rebels increases the chances of forcing Assad and the Russians into a settlement, and defeating the Islamists rebels after Assad falls, I’m ready to listen.
HOW TO PASS A GUN LAW
I’m all for limiting access to assault weapons, although the impact would be more symbolic than practical. But reinstating the ban was never in the cards. The best that could be realistically hoped for was a Senate floor vote on an assault-weapons amendment — a vote doomed to fail. … If Reid had included assault weapons, it would have doomed the larger effort — in particular, the chance of expanding background checks for gun buyers. Requiring background checks for nearly all gun purchases is a change that is simultaneously more effective than banning assault weapons and more politically achievable.
LIMITED GOVERNMENT MEANS MARRIAGE EQUALITY
Though there remains immense hostility in some segments of the American right toward gay marriage, as a matter of both principle and practicality (not to mention political viability) it is time for conservatives to embrace gay marriage. As a matter of principle, the argument is charmingly simple: from where does the government derive the authority to prohibit consenting adults from marrying each other? … Once again, the choice for the advocate of limited government seems clear. Social conservatives simply haven’t the power to stem the tide of gay marriage acceptance, but they can subvert the authority of the government to impose that acceptance upon them by removing the government from the process entirely and returning marriage to the churches and to the people.
LOVE IS THE HIGHER LAW
There are some funny parallels between court and church. In both, precedent has a powerful appeal. (In the case of marriage, many conservatives go back to the beginning, trotting out the line “Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve,” which should be banned for its triteness, if nothing else.) In both church and court, we’re arguing over documents written long ago — one by the Founding Fathers, the other by the founding Father. The characters can roughly be classified as originalists, strict constructionists and so on. And in both, the fight, though often depersonalized into a political cause, has emotional and practical ramifications for real human beings.