Tuesday, September 30, 2008

DEBATE AT LOLITA BAR: "Should We Loosen Term Limits?"

It seems like only yesterday (but was actually the day before yesterday) that the “Month of Sex” climaxed with a debate about sex at Lolita Bar — and yet our October debate is fast upon us.

October is the “Month of Horror” here at ToddSeavey.com, and some might look with horror upon career politicians, as Mayor Bloomberg and the City Council may well become, since they now want to extend their terms in office despite the people of New York repeatedly voting in favor of term limits. But wait! There is a case to be made for their position:

Tuesday, October 7 (at 8pm)

•Yes: BRYAN HARRIS (author and journalist) argues that we should loosen term limits (and indeed, might it be undemocratic not to?).

•No: KENNETH MOLTNER (lawyer-activist from People to Stop a Self Serving Council) argues that term limits are good.

Hosted by Todd Seavey and moderated by Michel Evanchik.

Free admission, cash bar. Basement level of Lolita Bar at 266 Broome St. at the corner of Allen St. (on the Lower East Side of Manhattan, one block south and three west of the Delancey St. F, J, M, Z subway stop).

Amusing, coincidental footnote: Mr. Harris wrote The Sanctity of Marriage Handbook, mocking opponents of gay marriage who have done a pretty good job of making a mockery of marriage in their own private lives — including my own favorite presidential candidate, newly-Libertarian (and now somewhat less religious-rightist) Bob Barr. But I’m more or less on Harris’s side in that fight. (Next Tuesday, of course, I shall be scrupulously neutral.)


Many people reading this may feel like term-limiting the U.S. Congress right about now, given the crazy uncertainty over the potential bailout of Wall Street (and were it not for an anti-term limits 1995 U.S. Supreme Court decision, from which Clarence Thomas harshly dissented, there likely would be term limits on most states’ members of Congress by now — and so many familiar characters from the national scene would arguably have gone off to get real jobs by now).

I wonder, if the people who say the bailout is needed to avoid catastrophe are right: What’s the tiniest possible bailout that could be done, not to rescue every failing institution or debt-saddled homeowner, but merely to prevent general credit-panic? Maybe something puny and cosmetic would be the best compromise.

(Not that I begin to know — though my own inclination, shared apparently by most people of an ideological bent whether left or right, is to say no bailouts of rich risk-takers, and let the chips fall where they may so that important long-term lessons are learned. I wouldn’t take it for granted that Wall Streeters clamoring for bailouts are necessarily the most trustworthy experts on it all, any more than I’d trust a chronic debtor to argue for the best revisions to bankruptcy laws.)

On a completely unrelated political note: Is it just me, or do others (even who aren’t Obama supporters) find it odd that people harp on Obama’s willingness to talk to hostile leaders? Wouldn’t most of the people complaining about this be delighted if Bush said, “I call up Ahmadinejad about once a week — and tell him he’s a jerk”? Or to put it even more radically, wouldn’t you take the chance to speak to Hitler (if he couldn’t kill you) or Satan (if he existed)? My writer and journalist friends reading this surely would say yes (and even have a hard time understanding people who’d say no).

I know I’ve got all sorts of things I’d like to say to Hugo Chavez. And the government of China. And Cuba. And Zimbabwe…


Sammler said...

See The Case Against Negotiation.

Todd Seavey said...

[...] I’m resisting right-left political combative urges until November — and neutrally hosting a debate on term limits next Tuesday — but I’m allowed to comment on a ghost story, this being the Month of Horror on the blog and all, right? [...]