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In the last few years Jerry Falwell and D. James Kennedy both have died. Pastors of large churches, Baptist and Presbyterian (PCA) respectively, they were culture warriors on the national scene. Fighting for a "Christian America" on every front, including political, future historians will be assessing the impact of these men, and the New Religious Right, for years to come.

Their churches, and many of the ministries they started continue, though with changes.

Controversy at Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church from the South Florida Sun-Sentinal.

The two sons of Jerry Falwell now lead Thomas Road Baptist Church and Liberty University. From USA TODAY.

While these two articles point out some of the changes made under the leadership of Jonathan Falwell at Thomas Road, Jerry Falwell at Liberty, and Tullian Tchividjian at Coral Ridge, a significant point is missed in both. These three men are representative of the new generation of evangelical leaders who are not taking up leadership in political and cultural crusades fought by their predecessors to change institutions and structures. Instead, all three are following a philosophy of changing the world through changing individuals.
Headline from The Telegraph (UK).

Taliban targets descendants of Alexander the Great

If you read the article, you learn that the target is a tribe believed to be the descendents of Alexander's army. They are blue-eyed, blond, and pagan.
From Powerline, via The Corner, facts originally from the director of the ACLU Voting Rights project in his book A Voting Rights Odyssey: Black Enfranchisement in Georgia.

Carter and the rest of the Sumter County School Board then reassured parents at a meeting on October 5, 1956, that the board "would do everything in its power to minimize simultaneous traffic between white and colored students in route to and from school."

Jimmy really should have limited his post-office activities to pounding nails. Every time he opens his mouth, as in recently calling critics of Obama racists, he diminishes his own stature and harms the body politic.
Category: Politics
Posted by: an okie gardener
Charles Krauthammer has a brilliant column, in the Washington Post, even by his own high standards.
Today is Constitution Day, a working holiday in honor of the signing of the U.S. Constitution in Philadelphia in 1787. Of course the ratification process was still to come, a hard-fought, well-argued campaign that resulted in adoption in June of 1789.

From the National Archives, a transcript of the original text of the Constitution.

Official website of Constitution Day.

Brief article on the U.S. Constitution from Britannica Concise Encyclopedia.

The Founders wrestled with the issue of Power and Liberty. Power in human hands was seen as a natural threat to liberty since it tended toward tyranny. The Founders believed that history and reason demonstrated that human nature when given power almost always yielded to the temptation to become tyrannical, unless checked. But, government was necessary in order to prevent anarchy, also an enemy of freedom. The answer was to give the Federal Government the minimum amount of power necessary for its function, and to safeguard liberty from even that small amount of power through a system division and of checks and balances. The first protection was to ensure that power would be divided between the state governments and the federal government. The second protection was to divide power within the federal government, and establish a system of checks and balances between federal branches.

It is interesting this year to celebrate our Constitution in the midst of the Tea-Party Movement, which believes that the federal government has become too powerful, and wants still more power, threatening liberty.

More Christians massacred. Slave raids continuing. The Islamic regime in The Sudan has a lot to answer for. Protected as they are by China's Security Council veto, the U.N. cannot stop the violence.

I wonder why the Congressional Black Caucus has done so little of substance.

What can we as a nation do? Probably nothing in a conventional military sense. Though I would not be opposed to the CIA shipping lots of Iraqi surplus AKs and RPGs into the south, and into Darfur.
Category: National Security
Posted by: an okie gardener
Muslim spokesmen (I wonder who elected these guys) rave against "Islamophobia" at every opportunity. Nevermind that the terrorists who are coming after us these days proclaim that they do it in the name of Islam for the glory of Allah. But if the Muslims in America really want to be viewed as fellow citizens, then they must start driving the extremists and terrorists from their midst.

Case in point:

Regarding the recent raids in New York and investigations in Colorado said to have prevented another 9/11 scale attack: the big fish seems to have gotten away. The New York Post explains why

The FBI, meanwhile, is furious with the NYPD for bungled intelligence gathering that tipped off Najibullah that he was under surveillance, sources said.

Federal agents working with the Joint Terrorism Task Force asked their NYPD counterparts to discreetly gather intel on Najibullah.

Rather than slyly contact their list of sources and informants the NYPD canvassed the suspect’s old Flushing neighborhood and flashed around his picture.

Eventually the imam of the Masjid Hazrat Abu Bakr Islamic Center learned of the investigation and contacted the man’s family to let them know that he was subject of a law enforcement inquiry.

While most of the media attention has explicitly or implicitly criticized the NYPD for its heavy-handed investigation, I think the real subjects for criticism are the Muslim community in Queens.

a. A cell operated in their midst for some time. Given the NYPD bulletins to be alert for strange odors and window fans [bomb making? chemical weapons?], it seems that the neighbors of the cell members should have guessed something bad was going down and acted accordingly.

b. The big fish was tipped off by a local imam through the suspects family.

Way to help Americans trust Muslims there folks.
Yesterday, September 15, was observed as Battle of Britain Day. The Few deserve to be remembered by all free peoples.

More from Brits at their Best.
According to Mark Tooley at the Institue on Religion and Democracy, the visit to the U.S. by Pakistani bishop Alexander John Malik may be paying dividends among Mainline churches.

Amazingly, the recent Islamist atrocities in Pakistan have compelled some left-leaning church groups in the West to admit problems with radical Islam, a difficult admission for many. The current visit to the U.S. by a Pakistani Protestant bishop on behalf of besieged Pakistani Christians is helping to fuel the catharsis.

"Unfortunately, the (anti-Christian) mindset is not restricted to Pakistan but to the whole Arab-Muslim world," Bishop Alexander John Malik told the National Council of Churches (NCC) during a recent visit with them in New York. "It's the same from the Sudan to Somalia, from Iraq to Indonesia. This is the mindset of Muslims who consider their religion to be of the utmost importance." Malik represents the united Church of Pakistan, which is a merger of Anglicans, Methodists, Presbyterians and Lutherans.

Mainline agencies, viewing the world through the spectacles of Liberation Theology, have assumed that the Victimizer is always the First World, and the Victims always Third World. Perhaps a more realistic and nuanced view may develop.
Featured on the History News Network (HNN).

"Why It's Time to Face the Hard Truths Embraced by George Washington."

In his celebrated Farewell Address, George Washington bequeathed to us a series of shrewd observations. Reflecting the vast experience of an extremely practical national leader, as well as the prevailing philosophy of the American Revolution, his valedictory instructions include a common sense economic roadmap for long-term national strength and security.

“Cherish public credit,” Washington counseled. Employ it sparingly. Spend public money frugally. Avoid costly and unnecessary wars. Judicious spending on defense is wiser than inviting aggression through weakness, and sometimes exigencies necessitate appropriating public money, but do not mortgage the future. Always pay your own way.

Each political age bears a solemn responsibility to pay down debt during times of peace and prosperity. Do not burden future generations with your profligacy. To pay down debt, government must tax. While taxes are always inconvenient and unpleasant, in a physical world in which consequences inevitably follow actions, taxes are obligatory.

Equally important, Washington asserted, good government is responsible government. Government must be worthy of our taxes. Our elected officials are ultimately responsible for holding down spending, but, in truth, public officials are hostages to public opinion. Expenditures will reflect the popular will. We the people must demand responsible government.

While much of Washington’s advice flies in the face of modern political practice, perhaps our lifeline in this tumultuous sea of uncertainty is a return to classic common sense.

Where are we now? We currently possess a national debt that is 57 percent of our gross domestic product (GDP). According to the latest projections, we are headed for a national debt that will grow in excess of 77 percent of our GDP over the next decade (and those predictions may well be optimistic).

How did we get here? In short, well-meaning twentieth century "tax and spend" liberalism, arguably necessary and successful for a time, ultimately yielded the stagflation, systemic insolvencies, and malaise of the 1970s. As a well-intentioned alternative to over-taxation, market conservatives offered what tragically amounted to "borrow and spend," which produced another season of high times but ultimately led us to our current desperate moment of reckoning.

Is there a solution in the wisdom of the past?

First and foremost, we must heed Washington’s admonition concerning taxes. As illustrated above, we are amassing a national debt that poses an existential threat to American independence. True commitment to American liberty requires that we raise revenue and cut expenses—and do BOTH of those things in a meaningful way.

An important tenet of the twentieth century small-government-conservative economic worldview held that low taxes would starve government into more frugal behavior. With less money available to spend, the theory asserted, Congress would necessarily cut back proportionately on expenditures. Our generation witnessed the failure of that experiment. Even as tax rates plummeted, government and government spending continued to swell at an alarming pace.

Given our present emergency and current trajectory, we must fall back on a more direct approach. Reason dictates that we collect revenue commensurate with our spending plus enough extra money to retire our colossal collective debt on a feasible schedule. As a consequence of our decades-long descent into extravagance, remedial taxation will be painful.

In regard to changing long-term patterns of national behavior, perhaps the only answer lies in taxing ourselves so that we ALL feel the pain of taxation. By “all” I mean every single American—no matter his or her socioeconomic rank. For those who pay no taxes, every government program is a good one. On the other hand, if we all pay taxes, we are all invested in good stewardship and a more responsible government.

We must summon the discipline to rebuke politicians who pledge lower taxes for 95 percent of us while promising more government services for all. We must transcend the tantalizing sophistry that the masses will benefit from a tax structure that only "inconveniences" the fortunate few. It is time to face reality. Those numbers do not add up.

It is time to commit ourselves to frugality and moderation. We should embrace the manifest truth that sustainability, living within our means, is our primary national priority. The transition back to fiscal health will not be pleasant—but it is time to transform our indulgent way of life.

While George Washington certainly suffered partisan thorns in his flesh, he was the first and last president of the United States elected without the benefit of a political party. I am not advocating the demise of the two-party system in America, but maybe we can all walk to the middle together—at least temporarily. To survive, conservatives must necessarily give up the dream of a benevolent global "Empire for Liberty." Likewise, liberals will have to concede that a welfare state is impractical.

Of course, this compromise is easier suggested than implemented. The concessions will be painful, even more so for Americans unaccustomed to accepting limits. With a more modest federal government, our domestic safety net will have holes and good people will slip through the cracks.

When the United States stands down as policeman to the world, a large cohort of friendly and peaceful nations will need to militarize in order to protect their own interests. The world will be a much less stable place without American military might guaranteeing the free flow of oil and commerce all over the globe. We can only guess what chain of events this new world order will initiate.

On the other hand, what are the alternatives?
Posted by: an okie gardener
Story here.

Slowly, gradually, and with little publicity, archeological work is beginning in Saudi Arabia. One of the last regions in the world that has had little digging done, important finds slowly are being uncovered from Arabia's pre-Islamic past. Pagan, Jewish, and Christian sites lie buried and are beginning to be studied.

They have remained unexamined because Islamic authorities prefer to let the ages prior to Islam remain in darkness.

The sensitivities run deep. Archaeologists are cautioned not to talk about pre-Islamic finds outside scholarly literature. Few ancient treasures are on display, and no Christian or Jewish relics. A 4th or 5th century church in eastern Saudi Arabia has been fenced off ever since its accidental discovery 20 years ago and its exact whereabouts kept secret.

In the eyes of conservatives, the land where Islam was founded and the Prophet Muhammad was born must remain purely Muslim. Saudi Arabia bans public displays of crosses and churches, and whenever non-Islamic artifacts are excavated, the news must be kept low-key lest hard-liners destroy the finds.

"They should be left in the ground," said Sheikh Mohammed al-Nujaimi, a well-known cleric, reflecting the views of many religious leaders. "Any ruins belonging to non-Muslims should not be touched. Leave them in place, the way they have been for thousands of years."

In an interview, he said Christians and Jews might claim discoveries of relics, and that Muslims would be angered if ancient symbols of other religions went on show. "How can crosses be displayed when Islam doesn't recognize that Christ was crucified?" said al-Nujaimi. "If we display them, it's as if we recognize the crucifixion."
Imports from China are in the news again with the restrictions on tire imports. Rather than write about the specifics of trade and tires, I want to consider trade and national security.

Liberty, or independence, means the ability to practice self-government. Dependency restricts self-government because external pressures may force decisions to be made that otherwise would not have been chosen. Dependency also includes reliance upon others for the necessities of life.

Nations which wish to govern themselves, in their own best interests, cannot afford to become completely dependent upon other nations for the basic necessities of life.

For example, a nation must try to be self-sufficient in food production, otherwise it can be put under lethel pressure by other nations.

But what of other goods?

Energy certainly. Steel. And probably also others such as plastics, electronics, and machine tools.

And if war comes, as it has again and again in history?

In the industrial age, production capacity usually has won wars. In the Civil War Northern industrial power combined with political will to insure victory. In WW1 the U.S. supplied the Allies with the means to wage war prior to our official entry. During WW2 a key decision was made to outproduce our enemies, and to fight accordingly, for example on a broad front in Europe. The Cold War was brought to an end, in part, when the U.S. began an arms buildup supported by our large economy that the U.S.S.R. did not have the economic base to match.

In a modern war perhaps having a GM to convert production to trucks and tanks is not as critical as in WW2. But what of electronics, the nerves and senses and even brains of today's weapons? Can we afford, at some future date, to have our electronics production all outsourced to Malasia and China?

Trade is a national security issue.
Norman Podhoretz raises the question in a Wall Street Journal op-ed.

He suggests an answer by observing that non-observant Jews are the most likely to vote Democrat, while those few Jews who are Republican tend to be Orthodox. In other words, an inverse relationship between religious practice and support for Democrats. Therefore, he suggests, modern liberalism may function as a religion for "secular" Jews.

A similar observation may be made for Roman Catholics. Those who attend mass infrequently are more likely to vote Democrat.
The increasing official openness to gay and lesbian clergy in the Episcopal Church continues to produce fallout. The latest group to leave are nuns, almost an entire order, who have moved into Roman Catholicism.

Most Americans probably are not aware that the Anglican Church has celibate, ascetic religious orders both of men and of women. Mostly dating from the 19th century, and never as important as in Roman Catholicism and Orthodoxy, Anglican orders have nevertheless done significant work.
Equality of the masses never really worked out anyway.

Chinese millionaire buys world's most expensive dog.

Which raises the question: what to call China's present economic/political system. I vote for mature fascism, but perhaps Western categories are not the best in this case.

Category: Politics
Posted by: A Waco Farmer
Initial Reaction to the Speech:

Very good. Not perfect--but a home run, nevertheless.

The tearjerker Kennedy reference was gratuitous--but the punchline was vintage Obama and a reminder that this guy is still plenty potent. Obama delivered in the final moments in a big way. He is a money player. We underestimate him at our own peril.

The faux conciliation and bipartisanship was disingenuous and continues to grow very thin--but it is still reasonably effective. The mainstream media will report the President's willingness to work with the opposition--and, when it doesn't happen, the MSM will dutifully report Republican bad faith.

Yelling at the President from the floor made me very uncomfortable. On one hand, it represents a lack of respect for this inexperienced politician who suddenly seems vulnerable. On the other hand, this demonstration of incivility could very easily break against Republicans and generate sympathy for the President. This is the President!!!

Low point: when he said he would be the last president to deal with health care. I was stunned. Does he really believe he will craft a solution that solves the problem in perpetuity? Or is he predicting that he will be the last president of the United States?

Bottom Line: Republicans have enjoyed a fairly carefree summer in which we dreamed big dreams about reasserting our former dominance--now school is back in session. The President is back--and he looks ready to rumble.
Information from the Pew Forum, including names and brief information on board members.

On Feb. 5, 2009, two weeks after taking office, President Barack Obama signed an executive order establishing the White House Office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships. The new office retains the basic administrative structure of President George W. Bush's White House Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives. The central White House office and satellite offices in 12 government agencies work together to encourage partnerships between the government and religious and community groups for the delivery of social services.

The White House office, led by executive director Joshua DuBois, has identified four primary goals:

¡Connecting faith-based and community groups to economic recovery;
¡Promoting interfaith dialogue and cooperation;
¡Encouraging responsible fatherhood and healthy families;
¡Reducing unintended pregnancies and the need for abortions, strengthening maternal and child health, and encouraging adoptions