Author: The BPI Squirrel

Furthermore! – Hard Cases, Once And For All

I chittered with the toddlers, Nancy and Michelle, about winterbanyan’s thoughtful Midday Matinee yesterday. Hawks and other predators are a daily risk for squirrels. We love our children and try to protect them as best we can. We teach them safety rules such as looking very carefully before crossing an open area. Mrs. Squirrel and I haven’t lost any of our children, but we know squirrels who have. It’s both natural and good to try to learn from tragedies. Sometimes we learn good lessons, what we shouldn’t have done or could have done better. But sometimes we learn the wrong lessons, and that’s especially common when we try to generalize a lesson from one exceptionally horrific event. Consider the Caylee’s Law petition and bills now being proposed in state legislatures around the U.S. These are a well-intentioned response to the tragedy of Caylee Anthony, a two-year-old girl who died in Florida in 2008. Although the medical examiner ruled her death a homicide, doctors could not determine the cause or circumstances of her death, in part because Caylee was not reported missing for nearly a month after her disappearance. Caylee’s Laws would make it a crime for parents to not report a missing child within 12 to 48 hours, depending on the state, and/or to intentionally give police false information about a child who disappears, is seriously injured, or dies....

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Furthermore! – ‘Satan’ in the GOP

The opening weekend of The Gardener’s Lament went brilliantly. Mrs. Squirrel and I were there on opening night, of course. We even brought the toddlers, Nancy and Michelle, who chittered in delight every time Regis came on stage. The audience seemed swept up in the story of a squirrel and a gardener whose conflicting needs and worldviews offered, according to one reviewer, “a compelling and insightful commentary on property ownership.” Regis didn’t like that review, and said the play was not a “commentary on property ownership” or anything else. It was, he insisted, simply a story of an unlikely friendship. I agreed with him, but I also noted that reviewers often see what they want to see. “Like politicians and pundits,” Regis said. Well yes, in fact. For example, in 2008 Rick Santorum told students at Ave Maria University that Satan was destroying America: This is not a political war at all. This is not a cultural war. This is a spiritual war. And the Father of Lies has his sights on what you would think the Father of Lies would have his sights on: a good, decent, powerful, influential country – the United States of America. If you were Satan, who would you attack in this day and age. There is no one else to go after other than the United States and that has been the case...

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Furthermore! – Driving Themselves Insane?

Researching my thesis on 21st Century Political Nuttitude doesn’t sound like a cocoon of sanity. But our toddlers Nancy and Michelle are still learning they’re not flying squirrels, so they keep Mrs. Squirrel and me hopping. And with BPI’s production of The Gardener’s Lament opening Friday, Regis is all a-chitter. So my research on political craziness, ironically, is the least crazy part of my day. Still, it was hard not to reach for the macadamias when I saw that Senate Republicans are trying to put a poisoned birth control pill in the federal highway bill. The amendment, sponsored by Sen. Roy Blunt (R-MO), would allow any employer to prohibit employee insurance coverage for any medical care that for which the employer has a “moral objection.” Under the Blunt Amendment, the ‘conscience clause’ would not be limited to businesses owned by religious institutions, as are many hospitals. Any employer could claim a “moral objection” to covering any health care procedure. The language of the amendment does not require the “moral objection” to have a religious basis. If an employer’s “moral objection” is merely that he thinks child immunizations, annual physicals, pap smears, and mammograms are a waste of money … the company health insurance could not cover them, even if the insurance company offers such coverage with no additional premiums. This is not about “religious freedom.” As Mother Jones‘s Adam...

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Furthermore! – Man the Battlements!

Regis got home exhausted last night after their first technical rehearsal for The Gardener’s Lament. They had trouble with the special effects, Regis explained. Apparently the gardener goes to great lengths, and heights and depths, to protect his vegetables from Regis’ character. I saw the set yesterday, and that huge wall with net-throwers and laser beams looked very formidable. But rather than throwing spinning nets for him to nimbly duck around, Regis said the wall worked more like Pootie the Precious spitting up hairballs. He described it as “class warfare hilarity.” “Oh, like the American Enterprise Institute about President Obama’s proposed budget,” I replied. In an article titled Obama’s ‘rosy’ budget scenario doubles down on class warfare, AEI writer James Pethokoukis hyperbolizes: Then again, Obama’s new budget isn’t about economic growth or cutting debt or creating a “built to last” economy. The Obama campaign is built around the idea of reducing inequality. So in his budget, Obama takes the populist whip to the wealthy and to business[.] I didn’t hear any loud whip cracks yesterday. Then again, I was listening to music while researching my thesis on 21st Century Political Nuttitude. Maybe Jackson Browne drowned out those whip cracks. Mrs. Squirrel said she didn’t hear any either, but she was playing with the twins – Nancy and Michelle – and you know how loud toddlers can be. Just in...

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Furthermore! – Elections: More Parties?

Regis is doing well with his rehearsals for the BPI spring theatre production of The Gardener’s Lament. He spends hours each day working on his lines, which would interfere with his classes if BPI actually had any. It doesn’t interfere with his classes, but the play has interfered with his social life. His guirrel friend didn’t audition and quickly grew bored of sitting in the audience watching rehearsals. So she mostly goes out with their other friends in the evenings. Regis isn’t jealous, but he does miss having fun. Last night he offered a familiar university lament: “I wish I had more parties.” “You sound like an election reform advocate,” I said. Every four years, groups emerge or reemerge to rail against “the two party duopoly.” The ideas sound good in theory, but theory and reality often don’t match up very well. For starters, consider research on the paradox of choice. It turns out that humans easily get baffled by lots of choices, especially when they have incomplete information about the alternatives. In fact, humans can get baffled enough to make choices that do not serve the interests they set out to accomplish. The more options in the mix, and the less clear the information, the more likely that people will not choose the option that best serves their stated interests. In decision theory terms, the two-party system serves...

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