You are currently viewing archive for May 2008
The Chinese government has an ongoing espionage action against the U.S. computer infrastructure. The Chinese also may be responsible for two major power failures in our country. Story here. Link from Drudge.

Someone tell me again, why are we trading with China like it is an ally?
What determines that there is a larger society, rather than merely a collection of competing groups and tribes? What determines the nature of the larger society? Is it possible to have a nation without having a larger society? That is, can one indeed have a nation without a consensus on shared values? To be specific, is multiculturalism a sufficient shared value that will create and sustain a larger culture, or is it a recipe for devolving into a collection of competing groups and tribes?

My favorite Anglican bishop, Michael Nazir-Ali, Pakistani by birth and rearing, moved to Britain due to threats on his life in Pakistan. As an outsider coming into British society, he sees things that those raised as insiders might miss. One of these things is the degree to which British society and the British nation were based on Christianity, and the dissolution of the larger society and nation as Christianity is abandoned for multiculturalism.

Here is his very thoughtful essay that has provoked some predictable response by the usual suspects.
Have you noticed that positive changes in the world often trace back to an individual, or a small group of individuals, who see a need and then respond courageously and compassionately? And, have you noticed that the most effective positive-change agents are almost always private, not governmental? And further, have you noticed that many, many, positive changes in the world have been the result of Christianity?

I would say the world does not need bigger government, but individuals with bigger hearts.

Here is the story of the founder of Save the Children, Eglantyne Jebb, from Brits at Their Best.
Category: Politics
Posted by: an okie gardener
Last of the Few links to this funny but sadly true satirical commentary on our worst current ex-president.

This link is Safe for Work, but not everything on Last of the Few is.
Category: Campaign 2008.13
Posted by: A Waco Farmer
This is a devastating ad against Barack Obama:

Vets For Freedom (view here).

Hugh Hewitt is pushing it--and others will too.

Watch it!

We'll see how this plays--but I suspect that this is a moment we may well remember as a turning point.
Category: Campaign 2008.13
Posted by: A Waco Farmer
As we all know, 2008 remains an excellent year to run for president as a Democrat.

Intense George W. Bush fatigue (brought on by an unpopular five-year war with no end in sight and a paralyzing uncertainty concerning the economy) offers a nearly insurmountable advantage in favor of the out-party.

More specifically, the young and compelling Barack Obama will run against an inarticulate presumptive Republican nominee who is seventy-one-years-old and looks every bit his age, who is admittedly inexpert on the economic questions, and who stubbornly (albeit bravely) advocates doggedly pursuing the unpopular war until the mission is accomplished.

I repeat: this is a good year to run as a Democrat.

Even Worse:

1. Knowledgeable pundits have predicted that Obama would receive a tremendous bounce when he finally clinches the nomination. Obama is at that point, and I suspect the big bounce is in the pipeline. Once the polls begin to reflect a double-digit lead for the Democratic candidate, all the bad will be forgotten for a time, and the new storyline will be the impending "rout" on McCain.

2. The national press corps loves Obama; moreover, they are heavily invested in Obama. The newly crowned young lion of liberalism will enjoy protection from the mainstream media from Labor Day through the first Tuesday in November. Don't hold your breath waiting for George Stephanopoulos or any other mainstream newsman to ask any irritating questions of this Democratic nominee during the homestretch.

On the other hand, John McCain will face withering wall-to-wall coverage of every gaffe, potential hypocritical anomaly, and every ache and pain. The media onslaught aimed at McCain is going to be brutal. As I said the other day, the storm of calumnious opprobrium will be intense.

3. McCain may appeal to moderates (or he may not--we will see), but conservatives continue to revile him. Of course, conservatives are much closer to McCain philosophically than Obama--but that may prove irrelevant in the end.


First, the One Hint of Good News: Because the Democrats have erred so egregiously, Republicans have a chance to elect John McCain. Barack Obama is painfully naive about the world and ill-prepared for the role of commander-in-chief (and I am not really talking about the "youth and inexperience" issue). George McGovern and Jimmy Carter, in their eighties, are painfully naive and ill-prepared to serve as president of the United States.

However, Obama's lack of foreign policy gravitas translates into merely a slim chance for John McCain. Why so slim? Realistically and historically, one cannot count on the American electorate to take that crucial fact into primary consideration.

The other BIG albeit unheralded problem: mainstream conservatism is hopelessly divided over foreign policy, or, more precisely, our predicament in Iraq. A considerable contingent of rock-ribbed conservatives see the Bush "adventure" in the Middle East as pure folly (read this essay by the late Bill Buckley for an example).

Conservatives are uneasy with McCain for myriad reasons. Even worse, the one element that might unify conservatism, a foreign policy exigency, is, in this instance, potentially more divisive than politically beneficial.

While McCain is right on Iraq in my view--and Barack is dreadfully silly--not all my conservative brethren agree. Iraq is not akin to the Cold War in which religious conservatives, social conservatives, fiscal conservatives, and libertarians were so energized in pursuit of a common enemy that they could lay down their divisions and rally around the flag.

Too many conservatives do not see the continuation of our mission in Iraq as absolutely essential to our vital national interests. For that reason more than any other, a long General Election night for the GOP remains our most likely scenario.
Category: General
Posted by: Tocqueville
Does Tom Coburn believe his own words when he says "John McCain, for all his faults, is the one Republican candidate who can lead us through our wilderness"? Of course, McCain is the only Republican candidate, so Coburn's words make little sense on their face, and Coburn does not say that McCain is the only Republican "who can lead us." To say that McCain is "the only Republican candidate who can..." is an embarrassing inanity.

Anyway, others, including Coburn, would lead better. In effect, Coburn is saying "our guy, with big and ugly warts and whom none of us prefer, is still somewhat better than their guy." An uninspiring announcement. Coburn is on the VP list for McCain (probably won't and shouldn't get the nod because of the small state and a state already in the red and because two senators is not a good idea). Maybe he is just dutifully pitching in and trying to remind McCain of a few things. But the word "remind" suggests that McCain once knew these things -- a dubious proposition. McCain is not a conservative, he is an opportunist. McCain does not perceive principles, he perceives moments.
One of my friends and former teachers, Gregg Frazer, shared with me this friendly response to a local Los Angeles-area columnist (a proudly liberal Democrat) with whom he is acquainted. Frazer's email offers a cogent summary of arguments against the recent California Supreme Court ruling in re MARRIAGE CASES.

Gregg Frazer is Professor of Political Studies at the Master's College.

1) Since marriage is NOT a CIVIL right, but a POLITICAL right (privilege granted by the govt., like driving) – how is it a civil rights issue? If it’s a civil right, it belongs to all persons and my 12-year old would have it and so would 2-year olds. Also, if it were a civil right, you could compel someone to marry you lest you be denied a civil right. I challenge to show where in the California – or U.S., for that matter – Constitution marriage is listed/identified as a civil right. One of the myriad of problems in our society is the claim that anything anyone wants to do is a “civil right.” Where do I sign up to claim that owning a Mercedes is a civil right – after all, some people get to do it!

» Read More

Category: American Culture
Posted by: A Waco Farmer
I hear people talkin' bad,
About the way we have to live here in this country,
Harpin' on the wars we fight,
An' gripin' 'bout the way things oughta be.

An' I don't mind 'em switchin' sides,
An' standin' up for things they believe in.
When they're runnin' down my country, man,
They're walkin' on the fightin' side of me.

First, in pursuit of full disclosure and intellectual honesty, please accept this relevant and noteworthy caveat:

Much has changed for Merle Haggard since 1970. In his dotage, the great voice of the common man in country music has argued for the impeachment of George Bush, endorsed Hillary Clinton for president in 2007, and wrote a song a few years back advocating U.S. withdrawal from Iraq.

Read my shoulder shrug and perplexed expression. But, oh well, God bless Merle and an America where one can switch sides and stand up for things that one believes in.

Notwithstanding, Merle's simple and powerful poetry from nearly four decades ago, generally, continues to resonate with me much more than his current political viewpoints.


I continue to meet too many Americans who gleefully exhibit complete disdain for our national heritage, evincing absolutely no perceptible appreciation for the good fortune of their birthplace, even as they enjoy the myriad privileges and blessings associated with American citizenship.

They love our milk an' honey,
But they preach about some other way of livin'.
When they're runnin' down my country, hoss,
They're walkin' on the fightin' side of me.

Jeremiah Wright: there is no dastardly act so heinous of which he could not believe the American government capable.

Michelle Obama: she finds nothing in our history of which she is personally proud.

Why is this a problem?

Quite often, we are who we say we are and believe we are. Of course, a healthy amount of skepticism regarding governments implemented and executed by the sons of Adam is a wise precaution--but rank and unadulterated cynicism produces a whole array of deleterious ramifications.

The American story is one in which we have consistently transcended our imperfections by working toward American ideals as expressed in our founding documents and "glorious" history. Over time, we have consistently outperformed reasonable human expectations, in part, because we have striven to be great and good. In large part, we believed that our heroic past demanded a heroic present as merely fair recompense for our birthright seeded with endless possibility. To whom much is given much is expected.

However, modern man sees the past as corrupt. Heroes are for suckers. George Washington was a slaveholder. Thomas Jefferson was a hypocrite. Andrew Jackson was a racist and a genocidal monster. Abraham Lincoln was a clever political manipulator.

In other words, our past was just as degenerate as our present. In fact, our moral impotence is actually more honest (from our culturally relative perspective) than the integrity and bravery of our ancestors, mustered only to propitiate a ridiculously disingenuous corporate ethos. That is, our predecessors were only heroic because their history had misled them into believing that they were somehow linked by "mystic chords of memory, stretching from every battle-field, and patriot grave, to every living heart and hearth-stone," which somehow required superhuman sacrifice and subordination of self for the good of a grateful and worthy nation.

They were fools--but we know the truth.

An' I wonder just how long,
The rest of us can count on bein' free.
Category: American Culture
Posted by: A Waco Farmer
Praise the Lord and Pass the Ammunition!

Down went the gunner, a bullet was his fate
Down went the gunner, then the gunners mate
Up jumped the sky pilot, gave the boys a look
And manned the gun himself as he laid aside The Book, shouting:

Praise the Lord and pass the ammunition!
Praise the Lord and pass the ammunition!
Praise the Lord and pass the ammunition and we'll all stay free!

Praise the Lord and swing into position!
Can't afford to sit around and wishin'
Praise the Lord we're all between perdition
and the deep blue sea!

Yes the sky pilot said it
You've got to give him credit
for a son - of - gun - of - a - gunner was he,
Praise the Lord we're on a mighty mission!
All aboard, we're not a - goin' fishin;
Praise the Lord and pass the ammunition and we'll all stay free!

"Praise the Lord and Pass the Ammunition" relates the partly true story of a chaplain ("sky pilot") and his reaction to Pearl Harbor. The song was a huge pop hit for Kay Keyser and his orchestra in late 1942. For a revealing window into our current sensibilities, view this You Tube video (with the actual music as sarcastic background to some classic conservative baiting) and then read the accompanying discussion (from the beginning).


One other hit song from the era (#1 in 1943):
When The Lights Go On Again All Over The World

Note: In truth, unlike 1943, only a small slice of America is actually at war today (the rest of us are drafting off the heroic sacrifice of a select few stalwart souls). For all those Americans on their third and fourth tours of duty, and all the families waiting at home, our sincere thanks. This song is dedicated to you.

When the lights go on again all over the world
And the boys are home again all over the world
And rain or snow is all that may fall from the skies above
A kiss won't mean "goodbye" but "Hello to love"

When the lights go on again all over the world
And the ships will sail again all over the world
Then we'll have time for things like wedding rings
and free hearts will sing
When the lights go on again all over the world

One last thought, FYI: The number one song again this week (three weeks running) is “Lollipop” by Lil’ Wayne: “She she lick me Like a lollipop; She she lick me Like a lollipop; She she lick Like a lollipop; She lick Me Like a lollipop….”

Unfortunately there is much much more to “Lollipop.”

Remember the bad old days when we sang silly songs that assumed God was on our side in a just war against evil doers? Thank goodness we have elevated our culture above that brand of provincialism.
From The Telegraph, this story about Muslims prisoners gaining power in a British prison.

"Staff appear reluctant to challenge inappropriate behaviour, in particular among black and ethnic minority prisoners, for fear of doing the wrong thing," the report adds.

"This is leading to a general feeling of a lack of control and shifting the power dynamic towards prisoners."

Just under a third of the 500 prisoners at Whitemoor are Muslim.

And why would guards feel afraid of exercising adequate control over Muslim prisoners? The attitude of the report answers this question:

The concern about Muslim prisoners is in danger of leading to hostility and Islamophobia, the report warns.

I would say the insane political correctness of the bureaucrats is leading to increased hostility by the Islamic prisoners as they realize they can leverage fear of discrimination into power within the jail.

Bloody insane. Paging Richard the Lion Hearted, your people need you.

From The Telegraph, a UK paper full story here:

The Bishop of Rochester, the Rt Rev Michael Nazir-Ali, accused the Church of failing in its duty to "welcome people of other faiths" ahead of a motion at July's General Synod in York urging a strategy for evangelising Muslims.

However, his comments were condemned by senior figures within the Church. The Rt Rev Stephen Lowe, the former Bishop of Hulme and the newly appointed Bishop of Urban Life and Faith, said: "Both the Bishop of Rochester's reported comments and the synod private members' motion show no sensitivity to the need for good inter-faith relations. Christians, Jews, Muslims, Hindus and Sikhs are learning to respect one another's paths to God and to live in harmony. This demand for the evangelisation of people of other faiths contributes nothing to our communities."

Bishop Nazir-Ali, born in Pakistan, is calling for the Anglican Church (Church of England) to evangelize Muslims in Britain. The Anglican establishment is accusing him of narrow-mindedness and lack of sensitivity. What would they have said to Jesus, when he told the eleven to go into all the world and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit?

A Christian communion that refuses proclaim that Jesus is the Way, the Truth, and the Life, and summon hearers to repentence and faith, is on its way out of Christendom. "Multiculturalism" and "tolerance" must bear distinctive meanings within the Church. As Christian citizens of pluralistic societies we tolerate other religions in the sense that we do not burn down their places of worship, imprison them for their beliefs, or discriminate in the workplace. But, "tolerance" for Christians must not imply that beliefs of other religions are also true in the way our faith is. Christians are multicultural in the sense of welcoming those of other cultures, and recognizing that believers can be Christians while being of another culture. But, respecting other cultures must not imply for Christians that all religious beliefs are equally valid.
Memorial Day 2008

Bernard Perlin, artist. Office of War Information poster, no. 26. 1943.

25/05: Craziness...

Category: Politics
Posted by: A Waco Farmer
Not that I really care much anymore about Hillary--but can anyone doubt that the mainstream media continues to treat her like a red-headed stepchild (or, even more dramatic, like a Republican candidate in the general election)?

Now she is advocating the assassination of Barack Obama.

Get real guys. Interesting story on Politico about this era of hype over substance.

FYI: I mentioned the same exact incident back in an otherwise utterly forgettable March post: Political History 101.

In re Hillary, RFK, and Obama: much ado about not much in this case.

The Bigger Point: Get ready John McCain and Republicans. Our day is drawing nigh. And the storm of calumnious opprobrium will be intense.
Category: Politics
Posted by: A Waco Farmer
What about John Hagee?

Although I subsequently pushed it to the back burner, I began this post last Friday, after listening to Fresh Air with Terry Gross (NPR), which re-ran (again) a 2006 interview with San Antonio-based, Pastor John Hagee. Several times during the break, an announcer explained that the segment was especially relevant considering Hagee's endorsement of McCain earlier this year.

Terry Gross's long-held fascination with Hagee centers around her fascination with "Christian Zionism," which purports to see recent Middle East history as the culminating events of a Christian eschatology as described in the apocalyptic writings of the Bible, most notably the Book of Revelation.

Yesterday, after some more recent and less-canonical revelations that Hagee had described Adolph Hitler (and I paraphrase) as part of God's plan to bring the Children of Israel back home to the Promised Land and the scene of the impending Apocalypse (fairly mild by Hagee standards), John McCain renounced the preacher's endorsement. Of course, McCain had previously actively courted Hagee's blessing (and gleefully accepted it when his advances proved fruitful on the eve of the Texas primary back in March).

However, yesterday, McCain announced:

"Obviously, I find these remarks and others deeply offensive and indefensible, and I repudiate them. I did not know of them before Reverend Hagee's endorsement, and I feel I must reject his endorsement as well."

Hagee's retort:

"You can all go to Hell" (again I paraphrase).

What does it mean?

First and foremost, John McCain doesn't know his rear end from his elbow when it comes to matters of faith. If you are looking for somebody that understands that "old time religion," you may need to get yourself another boy. To John McCain, pastors John Hagee, Jerry Falwell, Oral Roberts, Pat Robertson, James Robison, and James Dobson are all the same guy. Back in 2000, scorning these fellows was part of his political strategy. They were "forces of evil" and "agents of intolerance." But 2008 brought a new game plan: suck up to these "right-wing religious nut balls" (you guessed it--another paraphrase).

The John Hagee benediction was a conquest of expediency--but not the product of much individual forethought.

The conversation might have gone this way back at McCain HQ:

McCain aide: "John Hagee is on the phone ready to endorse your candidacy."

McCain: "Who's he again?"

Aide: "The preacher from Texas who thinks the return of Jesus is imminent."

McCain: "Doesn't help me."

Aide: "He is the guy who thinks Katrina was the judgment of God on New Orleans for condoning homosexuality."

McCain: "Again. You gotta narrow it down some."

Aide: "He has a 19,000 member congregation in San Antonio and can be seen and heard on over 200 TV and radio stations."

McCain: "Praise the Lord. You mean my good friend, Brother Hagee. Why didn't you say so in the first place?"

Bottom Line: the Hagee endorsement does not tell you much about John McCain's theology--but the entire sordid affair probably tells us more about politics than we want to know.

One other thought: for forty-plus years I have been hanging out with right-wing religious zealots--but, in all my life, I have never met one who was actually itching for Armageddon. The only time I ever hear about Christians who are mapping out the Final Cosmic Battle at Megiddo Junction, they are always on shows like Fresh Air. But I meet a lot of liberals who assure me they are ubiquitous.
George Bush has chosen Southern Methodist University, in the Dallas area, as the site of his presidential library. There was much wailing and gnashing of teeth further south on I-35 when Baylor University learned it had lost the competition to host the library.

From the time that SMU began to compete for the library, some faculty, students, and assorted Methodists, begin a counter-campaign to oppose any link between George Bush and SMU.

While locating the library at SMU is probably a done deal, a group of diehard Methodists is still fighting to prevent it. Story here.

I am beginning to think that Bush hatred may be stronger than the Reagan hatred I remember from the 80s.
Category: General
Posted by: Tocqueville
An anonymous English Professor is asking some sensible questions about his own progressive assumptions:

"America, ever-idealistic, seems wary of the vocational-education track. We are not comfortable limiting anyone’s options. Telling someone that college is not for him seems harsh and classist and British, as though we were sentencing him to a life in the coal mines. I sympathize with this stance; I subscribe to the American ideal. Unfortunately, it is with me and my red pen that that ideal crashes and burns."

"Sending everyone under the sun to college is a noble initiative. Academia is all for it, naturally. Industry is all for it; some companies even help with tuition costs. Government is all for it; the truly needy have lots of opportunities for financial aid. The media applauds it—try to imagine someone speaking out against the idea. To oppose such a scheme of inclusion would be positively churlish. But one piece of the puzzle hasn’t been figured into the equation, to use the sort of phrase I encounter in the papers submitted by my English 101 students. The zeitgeist of academic possibility is a great inverted pyramid, and its rather sharp point is poking, uncomfortably, a spot just about midway between my shoulder blades."

"For I, who teach these low-level, must-pass, no-multiple-choice-test classes, am the one who ultimately delivers the news to those unfit for college: that they lack the most-basic skills and have no sense of the volume of work required; that they are in some cases barely literate; that they are so bereft of schemata, so dispossessed of contexts in which to place newly acquired knowledge, that every bit of information simply raises more questions. They are not ready for high school, some of them, much less for college."

"I am the man who has to lower the hammer."

UPDATE: Follow the related discussion here.
Category: General
Posted by: Tocqueville
Apparently, the Roberts court has achieved just too darned much consensus. After decades of griping about a heavily politicized and divided court, the New York Times now complains about the dearth of 5-4 decisions. Astounding but entirely predictable.

Category: General
Posted by: Tocqueville
Former New York mayor Ed Koch seems to think so.

What do you think?
Category: General
Posted by: Tocqueville
"Like many left-leaning academics, Anita Clair Fellman, Director of Women’s Studies at Old Dominion University, found Ronald Reagan’s landslide election in 1980 puzzling and troubling. Convinced that modern liberalism reflected the heart and soul of America (at least since Goldwater’s resounding defeat in 1964), feminist scholar Fellman wondered how Reagan’s rhetoric of individualism resonated with so many Americans. Could there have been a strain of individualist, anti-statist political thought lurking in America’s heartland? If so, where did it come from, and how had it been nurtured? In her search for causality, she recalled the endearing series of Little House books written in the 1930s by Laura Ingalls Wilder."

"Fellman argues in her new study Little House, Long Shadow: Laura Ingalls Wilder’s Impact on American Culture that Wilder’s books not only present a version of American pioneer history with an inchoate individualism, but do so intentionally in an effort to inculcate generations of children with a traditionally conservative view of American history. Indeed, the popularity of Wilder’s books and their ubiquitous presence in American homes and schools serve as the major vehicle for the dissemination of what Fellman egregiously terms 'extreme individualism.'"

Read Dedra Birzer's provocative review of Fellman's book here.

21/05: "Guvment"

Category: General
Posted by: Tocqueville
Patrick Deneen offers another lifetime's worth of insight in a single post:

What is important, then, is not whether guvment is involved - it is finally to what end. And our current end is growth and expansion of the modern project of the human mastery of nature. When we debate over guvment involvement in the market, we obscure the nature of the debate - whether this is the appropriate or sole goal of a society. I would submit that it is a deeply flawed goal - sharing the view of Aristotle that a proper economy is cognizant of limits to moneymaking in the name of fundamental human goods of which prosperity is a part, but only a part.

Those goods include healthy and stable communities which are both formed by culture and in which cultures are maintained and preserved; a sound culture that inculcates central human virtues and that is ably passed on from one generation to the next; a culture that makes and keeps good families; a culture that inculcates the very virtues that will be necessary for a good, humane, and moral economy (one that avoids the abuses that we have recently seen in our financial markets); a culture that strongly emphasizes a sense of gratitude and obligation between generations; a culture that encourages stewardship, conservation and fidelity; and perhaps above all, a culture that reins in and chastens our eternal temptation toward Promethean or sinful self-aggrandizement, that teaches and enforces limits, that calls to our mind our flaws, and that does not allow us to lose sight of our fundamental condition of being dependent upon one another. A further good is our ability to act in concert with one another to achieve and maintain such a culture and polity - citizenship as shared and mutual governance, which goes far beyond our current conception of citizenship as suffrage.

Deneen also demonstrates how Americans' love-affair with untethered "Liberty!" often has unintended consequences. He then reminds us that another alternative tradition exists, manifest broadly in the West, including Aristotle and Aquinas, Burke and Chesterton, and in America, including the Antifederalists, Hawthorne and Melville, Orestes Brownson, Henry Adams, Jonathan Edwards, Santayana and Royce, the Southern Agrarians, Russell Kirk, Richard Weaver, Christopher Lasch, Alasdair MacIntyre, and Wendell Berry.

Please read the whole thing here.
Newsweek has a story on "The complete list of the 1,300 top U.S. high schools."

Public schools are ranked according to a ratio devised by Jay Mathews: the number of Advanced Placement, Intl. Baccalaureate and/or Cambridge tests taken by all students at a school in 2007 divided by the number of graduating seniors.

What this criteria measures, therefore, is the ratio of top college-bound seniors to the total number in their graduating class in each school. Notice that the results of the tests are not a factor, simply whether a student took one of the exams. In other words, the list is simply a ranking of the percentage of ambitious college-bound seniors in each school's graduating class.

Big deal.

(1) When I was a high-school classroom teacher, I figured my students could be divided into three groups: those bright hard-working kids I could take no credit for because they would learn in spite of me; those kids who for whatever reason could be reached by no one that year; and the large group in between whose learning or lack of it I could take credit or blame for. A better measure of school success, but hard to measure, would be how well a school does with this middle majority of its students--those whom the school has a direct impact upon their learning or not learning.
(2) This list accepts the falsehood that the real purpose of high school is to prepare students for college. Wrong. College is over-rated. I know the owner of a plumbing company in Lawton, Oklahoma. He anticipates a possible shortage of licensed plumbers in a decade or so. A licensed plumber starts work for his company at $20-25 per hour, based on experience. Getting a skill is important in life; getting a college degree may or may not be important. Vocational education matters also.
Monday, May 19, was the Feast Day of St. Dunstan. Among his accomplishments was a political practice that is part of our heritage of British Liberty.

From Brits at Their Best: full post

In AD 973 Dunstan created a coronation ceremony for Edgar that is still used today. The people affirmed their willingness to acclaim him King; and he in turn swore an Oath to the people. The Coronation Oath that Edgar swore embodied the practical ideals of justice -

“First, that the church of God and the whole Christian people shall have true peace at all time by our judgment; second, that I will forbid extortion and all kinds of wrong-doing to all orders of men; third, that I will enjoin equity and mercy in all judgments.”

In this ceremony the King commits himself by sacred oath to perform justice. By this fact of public oath, the monarch can, at least in principle, be held accountable for his conduct in office. Absolute Monarchy, in its widest sense, is thereby forbidden. The King himself must hold to an external standard other than his own will.

Thank you, Saint Dunstan.
Category: Christian Belief
Posted by: an okie gardener
Gateway Pundit has the story on the anti-refugee/immigrant rioting in South Africa. WARNING: DISTURBING IMAGES. The violence included burning people alive.

G.K. Chesterton once wrote that he could not understand liberal Christianity abandoning the Doctrine of Original Sin since it is the one empirically verifiable dogma.

When we see what people are capable of, we should take some lessons:
(1) We should watch ourselves. Chesterton has Father Brown say in one of his stories, that each of us has one murderer to watch and guard our whole lives--ourself.
(2) We should realize that liberty has more than one enemy. Chaos threatens freedom just as much as tyranny does.
(3) The mob is always to be feared; individual conscience submerged into the herd leads to bestial behavior.
(4) Conscience is formed by a variety of factors--family, society, religion. If the formative factors weaken, so does a sense of right and wrong.
Category: Politics
Posted by: an okie gardener
My Problems with Obama: Part 1

I want my president to love our country. I don't want naive, blind, love that is unaware of our mistakes and problems. But I do want love of country.

I am not sure that Obama really loves America.

Item 1: Jeremiah Wright. I don't need to rehearse the pastor's well-known tirades against the U.S. Barak sat under his preaching for 20 years, has said and written about how influential Wright has been in his life, and first defended him when he was attacked by conservatives. The rest of us may have crazy uncles who say inflamatory things, but we do not get to choose our families. We do, however, get to choose our churches.

Item 2: Michelle Obama's remarks that for the first time in her life she was proud of her country. For the first time? Not when learning about the defeat of Nazi Germany and ending of the holocaust? Not when learning about abolitionists and social reformers? Not when learning about the Declaration of Independence and Constitution, which made possible the success of the NAACP lawyers and eventually Martin Luther King, Jr.? Not when looking at the generosity with which Americans have given to worthy causes over the decades? I don't agree with my wife on everything, but Michelle's attitude would have been a deal-breaker for me.
Quoting Barack Obama (paraphrased--as his remarks are too rambling to make good copy):

"The GOP can say anything they want about me (that's what they do), but making Michelle an issue is unacceptable."

Three Things.

Number One:

The GOP can say anything they want about him? Really?

You mean the candidate with no middle name?

Ask Bill Clinton how acceptable it was to mention that Obama had posted Jesse Jackson-like numbers in South Carolina.

And the list literally goes on and on...

Let's be honest. The miniature strike zone on this candidate is unprecedented. Thanks to our collective jitters regarding race and a vigilant mainstream media intent on providing security, Obama enjoys around-the-clock political protection.

Number Two:

Shame on the opposition for trying to make this statement seem disdainful of America:

"For the first time in my adult lifetime, I'm really proud of my country, and not just because Barack has done well, but because I think people are hungry for change."

Number Three:

Obama says:

"[F]or people who purport to be promoters of family values, who claim that they are protectors of the values and ideals and the decency of the American people to start attacking my wife in a political campaign I think is detestable."

Shame on the opposition for trying to take advantage of Obama's poor defenseless Princeton-educated, Harvard-lawyer wife. How ungentlemanly of the GOP to attack a member of the weaker sex.

Get Real fellows! Next thing you know Obama will be talking about his wife's cloth coat. And, as I always say, honey, you'd look great in anything.

You cannot send your hard-hitting, highly educated wife out on the trail as a fire-breathing political surrogate and then try to hide behind the chivalry card when things get a bit too hot.

Or maybe you can.
The Rott links to this Dutch-language video of Dutch troops conducting a live-fire exercise in Afghanistan.
Category: General
Posted by: an okie gardener
The AP has the report on the letter Albert Einstein wrote to Eric Gutkind in 1954 and recently sold at auction.

In it, Einstein said, “The word God is for me nothing more than the expression and product of human weaknesses, the Bible a collection of honorable but still primitive legends which are nevertheless pretty childish.”

“For me,” he added, “the Jewish religion like all other religions is an incarnation of the most childish superstitions.”

Oh, well, you can't be right about everything.
Category: General
Posted by: Tocqueville
A trenchant quote from the Australian philosopher David Stove:

A primitive society is being devastated by a disease, so you bring modern medicine to bear, and wipe out the disease, only to find that by doing so you have brought on a population explosion. You introduce contraception to control population, and find that you have dismantled a whole culture. At home you legislate to relieve the distress of unmarried mothers, and find you have given a cash incentive to the production of illegitimate children. You guarantee a minimum wage, and find that you have extinguished, not only specific industries, but industry itself as a personal trait. You enable everyone to travel, and one result is, that there is nowhere left worth travelling to. And so on.

This is the oldest and the best argument for conservatism: the argument from the fact that our actions almost always have unforeseen and unwelcome consequences. It is an argument from so great and so mournful a fund of experience, that nothing can rationally outweigh it. Yet somehow, at any rate in societies like ours, this argument never is given its due weight. When what is called a “reform” proves to be, yet again, a cure worse than the disease, the assumption is always that what is needed is still more, and still more drastic, "reform."
Wednesday night Martian Mariner and I went to see the movie Ironman. I confess a weakness for comic-book movies, probably the result of my passion for comic books as a boy. I would walk the ditches looking for pop bottles to redeem at 2 cents each; when I had 6 I could buy a comic, then 12 cents.

(In keeping with my conservative cred, we went to a theatre that shows first-run movies for $3.50 per ticket for all shows.)

He and I found the movie entertaining and well-done. The leads deserve applause for their performances. The special-effects worked, and did not overshadow the characters. Even the spoken Arabic was accurate and sounded like native-speakers, reports MM.

The basic plot: Robert Downey, Jr. (Stark) is an engineering genius who designs weapons; a playboy patriot who sees himself giving America the tools she needs to defeat her enemies. While in Afghanistan to demonstrate a new tactical missile, his convoy is ambushed and the attackers take him to a cave where he is held. During the ambush he noticed that the bad guys are using weapons manufactured by his company. He will be released, they promise, once he builds them the same missile. Helped by another prisoner, who tells him that Stark weapons have destroyed his village, he instead constructs a beweaponed suit in which he kills bad guys, destroys stockpiles of his company's weapons in the camp, and escapes. Once back home he holds a press conference in which he announces that his company will henceforth work for peaceful purposes, much to the annoyance of his business partner.

But, Stark has unfinished business, foiling the bad guys in Afghanistan who are using his company's weapons. He builds a new and improved suit, flies back, liberates a village, kills a number of bad guys, and destroys the weapons. Eventually he learns that his business partner has been selling weapons to both sides, leading to a showdown between the two of them, both in beweaponed suits. The good guy wins. (Thoughts below)

» Read More

16/05: An Old Gag

Category: Politics
Posted by: A Waco Farmer
George Bush:

"Some seem to believe that we should negotiate with the terrorists and radicals, as if some ingenious argument will persuade them they have been wrong all along. We have heard this foolish delusion before. As Nazi tanks crossed into Poland in 1939, an American senator declared: 'Lord, if I could only have talked to Hitler, all this might have been avoided.' We have an obligation to call this what it is -- the false comfort of appeasement, which has been repeatedly discredited by history."

Barack Obama:

"I resemble that remark."


Seriously, what is this argument all about?

Is Obama arguing that he has not promised to negotiate with terrorists and radicals?

Or is he taking issue with the assertion that negotiating with terrorists and radicals equals appeasement?

No matter, give the day to Obama for his clever indignation (with a big assist from the mainstream media and the Democrats in Congress who were also so shocked and offended that an American politician would take internal differences beyond the water's edge).

However, I remain convinced that Obama's anti-war stance is his biggest long-term disadvantage. He is winning daily political battles, but his determination to lose the war in Iraq may be losing him the war in November.

That is, are Americans really prepared to elect a Democratic candidate who has promised to pull-up stakes in Iraq to appease the nut-roots crowd?
Biblical Witness Fellowship, a conservative renewal movement within the extremely liberal United Church of Christ (UCC) has this post that does a good job demonstrating that Jeremiah Wright is not a maverick in the context of Mainline Protestantism. Rather, his positions reflect those taken by the leadership of several liberal and declining denominations.

Small wonder the mainlines have become the sidelined.
The United Methodist Church is a very large and important body of Protestants, with churches scattered all across America. At their recent General Conference, a meeting of leaders that occurs every 4 years, some significant actions were taken. Links and quotations are from the official news site of the UMC.

On homosexuality:

Delegates to the 2008 General Conference on April 30 rejected changes to the United Methodist Social Principles that would have acknowledged that church members disagree on homosexuality.

Delegates instead adopted a minority report that retained language in the denomination’s 2004 Book of Discipline describing homosexual practice as “incompatible with Christian teaching.”

The adopted wording in Paragraph 161G also states that “all persons are individuals of sacred worth, created in the image of God,” and that United Methodists are to be “welcoming, forgiving and loving one another, as Christ has loved and accepted us.”

The rank-and-file made themselves heard on this issue. Notice that the floor adopted the minority report. Interestingly, the photo accompanying this story shows a picture of weeping delegates whose preference was defeated.

Divestment in Companies Doing Business with Israel:

United Methodists have rejected attempts to have the denomination endorse divestment from some companies that do business in Israel as a way of addressing the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The actions occurred during General Conference, the church’s top legislative body, meeting April 23-May 2 at the Fort Worth Convention Center.

A number of petitions, including five from U.S. annual (regional) conferences, were folded into one petition on "divestment" that called on the denomination’s pension board and finance agency "to review and identify companies that profit from sales of products or services that cause harm to Palestinians and Israelis and begin phased selective divestment from these companies." That petition was rejected May 2 by General Conference delegates as they voted on a special consent calendar.

Support of the People of Tibet, Taiwan, and The Sudan:

United Methodists have officially affirmed support for “the people of Tibet and their struggle for independence and autonomy.”

A new resolution on Sudan called “Sudan: A Call to Compassion and Caring” was part of the consent calendar approved on April 29. It advocates for justice for all Sudanese, calls upon United Methodists “in every country” to encourage their governments to aid development of a more just economic system in the Sudan and asks church members to “examine all methods of protest and solidarity before undertaking them” to ensure that none of their actions cause violence.

Also approved by consent was a petition reaffirming the denomination’s support “of the democratic aspirations and achievements of the people of Taiwan." Church members are encouraged to become educated about contemporary issues related to Taiwan and the “One China” policy and promote the rights of Taiwanese “for stability, security and self-determination of its own status in the family of nations.”


The United Methodist Church will continue to “sit at the table” and retain its 35-year membership with the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice.

In a May 2 vote of 416-384, the 2008 General Conference affirmed continued membership of the denomination’s Board of Church and Society and the Women’s Division of the Board of Global Ministries in the organization.

Notice how close was the vote: if 17 votes out of 800 had changed to pro-life, then the outcome would have differed. Perhaps as the liberal wing declines in numbers, and the conservative wing grows, we can anticipate a different outcome in four years.

For other news articles see here.
Category: Courts
Posted by: Tocqueville
Consent of the Governed: R.I.P.


From the dissent:

The question presented by this case is simple and stark. It comes down to this: Even though California’s progressive laws, recently adopted through the democratic process, have pioneered the rights of same-sex partners to enter legal unions with all the substantive benefits of opposite-sex legal unions, do those laws nonetheless violate the California Constitution because at present, in deference to long and universal tradition, by a convincing popular vote, and in accord with express national policy (see fns. 1, 2, ante), they reserve the label “marriage” for opposite-sex legal unions? I must conclude that the answer is no.

. . . .

But a bare majority of this court, not satisfied with the pace of democratic change, now abruptly forestalls that process and substitutes, by judicial fiat, its own social policy views for those expressed by the People themselves. Undeterred by the strong weight of state and federal law and authority, the majority invents a new constitutional right, immune from the ordinary process of legislative consideration. The majority finds that our Constitution suddenly demands no less than a permanent redefinition of marriage, regardless of the popular will.

. . . .

I cannot join this exercise in legal jujitsu, by which the Legislature’s own weight is used against it to create a constitutional right from whole cloth, defeat the People’s will, and invalidate a statute otherwise immune from legislative interference. Though the majority insists otherwise, its pronouncement seriously oversteps the judicial power.

Tocqueville: Notwithstanding two hundred years of history to the contrary, "we the people" are incapable of governing ourselves humanely, according to this judicial dictatorship.
The Times of India has several stories dealing with the bombings in Jaipur that killed 61 and wounded 218. A group calling itself Indian Mujahideen claimed credit.

Here. Here.
Gateway Pundit has the best round-up of Burma news after the cyclone. Some aid is starting to get in, but the Burmese government's reluctance to admit foreign aid is condemning many, many people to death.

Notice once again that the most effective relief efforts can come from the U.S. military.

As of yesterday, Church World Service, a very fine organization that my denomination channels aid through, was still waiting with supplies on the Thai-Burmese border for permission to cross.

14/05: Truly Heroic

Category: American Culture
Posted by: an okie gardener
In a healthy country, these men's names would be known and celebrated. Lance Cpl. Jordan Haerter and Cpl. Jonathan T. Yale, RIP.

Category: Politics
Posted by: an okie gardener
Thucydides, the ancient Greek writer, reports that at the meeting of representatives from Athens and Melos, the Athenians stated, "But you and we should say what we really think, and aim only at what is possible, for we both alike know that into the discussion of human affairs the question of justice only enters where the pressure of necessity is equal, and that the powerful exact what they can, and the weak grant what they must."

The ancient Greeks knew, from experience, that dealings between states were based on relative power: the stronger got what they could, the weaker gave up what they must. This relationship between states reflected the drive to power, or will to power, that ever lived in the human breast, ready to grow and flower when circumstances were favorable. Again, Thucydides relates: "For of the gods we believe, and of men we know, that by a law of their nature wherever they can rule they will. This law was not made by us, and we are not the first who have acted upon it; we did but inherit it, and shall bequeath it to all time, and we know that you and all mankind, if you were as strong as we are, would do as we do."

This conception from the Greeks finds expression in Christian doctrine as the Doctrine of Depravity, or Human Sinfulness. Our fallen natures are sinful, and one expression of innate depravity is the desire to dominate others. Reinhold Niebuhr based his system of Christian Realism on the insight that while grace may permit an individual to repent and restrain himself from self-assertion, a group or a social system such as a nation or a business cannot and will not restrain itself unless forced to. Our Founders understood this human tendency to tyranny, and so tried to protect against it.

It does not seem to me that Barak Obama really gets it, down deep in his heart. He appears to be another Jimmy Carter, thinking that if we are nice to other nations, talk with them, give no offense, then we all can sit down together and sing folk-songs.

Peace through strength, it ever must be, for there is no peace through talk unless supported by might (what the Athenians referred to as necessity or power).
David M. Potter, in his magnum opus, The Impending Crisis, wrote of John Brown:

"If he had been killed [at Harper's Ferry]...[the general public] might quickly have dismissed Brown as a mere desperado. But he was not killed, and he surpassed himself as few men have ever done, in the six weeks that followed. The most striking testimony to his superb behavior was the fact that he extorted the complete admiration of the Virginians. They had regarded all abolitionists as poltroons, but Brown showed a courage which captivated southern devotees of the cult of courage in spite of themselves."

So also has Hillary Clinton won the admiration of her erstwhile (and undoubtedly future) adversaries. As Weekly Standard columnist, Noemie Emery, wrote last week, Hillary has earned an exceedingly strange new respect from conservatives since "March Fourth and long."

The governor of Virginia (quoted in Potter) praised John Brown back then with an encomium that some of us might apply to Hillary's late underdog incarnation:

"...a bundle of the best nerves I ever saw, cut and thrust and bleeding...[s]he is a [wo]man of clear head, of courage, fortitude, and simple ingeniousness. [S]he is cool, collected, and indomitable...."

Of course it goes without saying, like the Virginians of old, none of our new found admiration for her would have deterred us from working with all our vigor toward her metaphorical execution come November. But many of us have sincerely appreciated her gameness in the face of long odds (which is the primary reason why I would like her to make a gracious and honorable exit).

One last thought: it is worth noting, unlike John Brown, the passion of Hillary Clinton will probably not lead to her apotheosis (even among her most stalwart supporters). We are not likely to be singing folk songs about Hillary any time soon.
After spending the last two days and three posts explaining how this race is over, and why Hillary must withdraw, allow me to explain why it goes against her instincts:

1. She thinks she is a better, more-qualified, more electable candidate for president than her opponent. I happen to agree with her.

2. All of her political experience (including the most defining moment in her public life--Bill's impeachment), compels her to trudge on in the face of adversity and full-throated pundits who assert emphatically that she is finished. "Press on," her inner voice must be saying right now. "You can beat these S.O.B.s!"

3. She keeps thinking: "Obama is ripe for the taking. He is weak. People are going to wake up from this "fairy tale." She wants to be the one to pick up the pieces when the illusion comes crashing down.

Once again, for the most part, I happen to agree with her analysis--although this awakening may take years to transpire.

Having said all that, realistically, she cannot spend the next three months (between now and Denver) waiting for a pack of ravenous predators to catch up with her opponent somehow. She cannot win by circling above her prey like a canny vulture awaiting the impending demise of a frail wildebeest who has wandered too close to the lion's den. There is no political future in the vulture strategy. She needed to be the lion to win, but she missed her last chance to be a predator in North Carolina.

She must face this sooner or later.
1. We are about to see a deluge of superdelegates for Obama. If Hillary does not withdraw soon, her decision will be academic. She must retreat gracefully of her own volition right now in order to avoid total defeat. That is, to make any political hay out of this ugly thrashing she must do the honorable thing while she can still claim with some plausibility that her exit is her idea.

My guess is that party stalwarts are making this argument to her right now. Give her a few days to let it sink in.

2. The worse this gets (superdelegates and graybeards and all that), the humiliation factor will rise exponentially. The Clintons will become the butt of every late-night political joke. Hillary has endured a lot of mortification in her public and private life. We know she can absorb copious amounts of debasement at the hands of the mainstream media and her political opponents, but can Bill and Hill face the derision that will accompany a decision to continue at all costs?

At this point in their lives (in his life especially), will they allow themselves to become public laughingstocks? Probably not.

I give them seventy-two hours (one week at the most).
In part one I offered the psychology and the emotional explanation of "why it's finally over."

In a nutshell, Hillary had one last "moment" of opportunity to "change the game," and she did not. Barack beat her fair and square in a big show down state, North Carolina (tenth most-populous in the Union). Democrats in North Carolina were attentive and cognizant of the stakes, and they chose him over her. Done deal.

Why she will actually quit:

The Practical Reasons.

1. She is a practical politician. Lyndon Johnson purportedly said, "if you can't walk into a room and know who is for you and who is against you, you shouldn't be in politics." Hill and Bill understand who is for them and who is against them and time has run out to change that complex but clearly unfavorable calculus. They wake up this morning to the inescapable conclusion that this thing is all over.

For the record: it was not over until last night, which is why they stayed in when so many people told them to quit. But it is over this morning.

2. Fighting on once you have lost is poor form and bad politics. Once Lee was cut-off from joining Johnston in April of 1865, he faced a monumental decision. Did he "go see General Grant" or take his fight into the hills and stage a guerrilla war? Hill and Bill will follow Lee's gentlemanly example and choose not to "devastate the countryside any further."

She will shut down her campaign and begin to do things to help her party and the man who defeated her. Anything short of that will garner nothing but ill will from too many Democrats. Will there be hard feelings? Yes. Will she need to grit her teeth and smile as she forces herself to tell huge crowds that Barack Obama is the most qualified man to be president of the United States in 2008? Yes. But she will be a trooper.

What does she have to gain by being a team player?

She is relatively young at 60. And life takes funny turns. She had to play this like it was her one and only chance--but, in truth, it may not be. Who knows? But what she does between now and November will determine her political viability over the course of the next ten years. Moreover, being president is not the only mode of serving your country with honor and distinction.

She must be a good soldier. She must show grace in defeat.

3. Money (the most compelling of all the practical reasons). At this point, who would invest in this sinking ship?

Next Question: Is she VP material?

No. There is no place for her on this ticket. If elected, she and Bill would overshadow the young president during the early stages of even the most successful of Obama administrations. Moreover, although I continue to believe that she could have beaten McCain in the General Election, why place a national politician with such high negatives in the second chair? How would that help?

Is there a need for unity? Not really. The Hillary supporters are going to be frustrated and a bit bitter for a time, but all that will wear off between now and Labor Day. Hardcore Hillary-ites are going to support Obama all the way in the fall. An Obama loss would have created a crisis (with "millennials" and African Americans), which could have only been alleviated by an Obama conversion. Not so with a Hillary defeat.

Speculation in re VP: I look for Obama to pick a less-famous white woman (from the Midwest maybe).

Anyhow, the party is finally over. The Clintons had ample opportunity to take their case to the people--and the people have spoken. All that is left now is deciding on the protocol for a graceful exit.
If, indeed, these exit numbers from North Carolina are indicative of the final official tally, the Hillary campaign is essentially finished.


There is a tide in the affairs of men.
Which, taken at the flood, leads on to fortune;
Omitted, all the voyage of their life
Is bound in shallows and in miseries.

In terms less grand, life is made up of moments.

Tonight was Hillary's last great moment of opportunity. She was on a roll, still gaining altitude after notching an exultant ten-point victory in Pennsylvania. Even more encouraging, the data underneath the Pennsylvania numbers illustrated deep trouble for the wunderkind from the Land of Lincoln. Add the second wave of the Reverend Wright fiasco to the fire, and Obama was not just in a slump, he was gasping for air and desperately in need of a high note.

For the first time in a long time, there was the a sense of possibility floating around Camp Clinton.

UPDATE: with 29 percent reporting in NC, Obama leads Clinton 59 to 39. Rout.

Oddly enough, the raised expectations concerning North Carolina makes this defeat ultimately more crushing. It was suddenly and unexpectedly the moment to "change the game," as Mrs. Clinton sensed earlier in the week.

The game changed tonight--but not in the way she had hoped. Is there anywhere to go from here?

Can anyone really get excited about the 28 delegates available in West Virginia next week?

I don't expect her to withdraw within the next twenty-four hours (but I would not be completely surprised if it happened much sooner than we might have dreamed earlier in the day). However, this loss cuts deep, and I expect the life to gradually fade from the Clinton campaign before our eyes over the course of the next seven days. This thing looks over to me.

Expect my final salute to the gutsy and surprisingly sympathetic Mrs. Clinton in the days to come.
I have written often concerning Religion and Public Policy. At greatest length in a series here: Part One, Part Two, Part Three, Part Four

If the topic of Religion and Public Policy, or, how Religion can operate in the American political process, interests you, then I recommend this article from the most recent Princeton Seminary Bulletin by John R. Bowlin, the Professor of Reformed Theology and Public Life at the Seminary.

His most provocative thesis is this: our nation has had, and will have again a religious establishment. Following Thomas Aquinas, he asserts that human beings naturally link politics and religion into a self-supporting whole--religion supports the order of rule and vice versa whithin a public piety. Our nation, historically, has had unofficial religious establishment(s). Our last one was the Cold War linkage of mainline Protestantism with true Americanism that came apart in the late 20th century. We now are in what he regards as a temporary period between religious establishments. The question: what will the next religious establishment be? He doubts it will be some variety of Christianity.

For myself, some claim that our current multiculturalism/ religious&moral relativism supported with postmodernist philosophy and expressed in an ironic ethos is itself a religious establishment. One certainly can define "religion" broadly enough to encompass this milieu. But it would not surprise me to see a more explicitly religious establishment arise. And it would not surprise me if it were post-Christian.
This article from the Washington Post offers a sobering, even frightening, look at the future of Japan.

An excerpt:

The proportion of children in the population fell to an all-time low of 13.5 percent. That number has been falling for 34 straight years and is the lowest among 31 major countries, according to the report. In the United States, children account for about 20 percent of the population.

Japan also has a surfeit of the elderly. About 22 percent of the population is 65 or older, the highest proportion in the world. And that number is on the rise. By 2020, the elderly will outnumber children by nearly 3 to 1, the government report predicted. By 2040, they will outnumber them by nearly 4 to 1.

The economic and social consequences of these trends are difficult to overstate.

In the U.S. we have seen an overall decline in the birthrate for decades. Why? Many causes, but let me raise a few possibilities and questions.

When the social ideal for both sexes is a successful career, then couples will choose to have fewer children.

When the economic ideal for couples is a house their grandparents would have regarded as a mansion, plus travel and at least two nice cars, then couples will choose to have fewer children.

When the societal ideal for old age is a carefree extended vacation requiring invested money, then couples will choose to have fewer children.

When self-satisfaction and personal leisure are high priorities, then couples will choose to have fewer children.

When stable family life until death seems an impossible ideal, then couples will choose to have fewer children.

When the social ideal of the child-centered household means that children are terribly expensive, then couples will choose to have fewer children.

I do think that it is a responsible decision to choose to have a limited number of children for the sake of the environment (we seem to have obeyed one of God's commands, to fill the earth), but I suspect we have fewer children for lots of not-so-good reasons.
Category: Campaign 2008.13
Posted by: A Waco Farmer
My Two-Cents Worth (discounted to move fast):

My predictions:

• if Hillary wins both Indiana and North Carolina, she wins the nomination (the "math" be damned).

• if Obama wins either Indiana or North Carolina comfortably, she is finished. I did not think this two weeks ago—but the fact that she has pulled even in NC, ironically, makes it a must-win for her; if she loses big in Carolina, she will suffer from the recently inflated expectations there.

• however, if Hill wins in Indiana—but loses a tight race in NC in which she wins big with white voters, then Barack is in real trouble (see Jay Cost on the upcoming West Virginia primary).

• Of course, Hillary has been in sudden-death mode for months, for the first time in a long time the pressure in on O. He needs to win tonight. Let's see what kind of clutch player he really is. On the up side, a nice clear and convincing win in either state may well clinch the nomination for him.

One last non-prediction: as I have come to expect the unexpected in this battle, and, if truth be told, I am actually expecting a good night for Hilllary, I suppose we should actually prepare for the opposite: an evening in which Obama turns the tables and finally registers a knockout punch. We shall soon see.


Category: General
Posted by: Tocqueville
The always insightful Patrick Deneen is on fire again with this latest post:

"For many, the instant response to the growing evidence that the era of cheap energy is over is to insist upon its replacement with something else. Anything short of that is simply unacceptable, even inconceivable. A few years ago, when I began reading and writing about this great challenge we face as a civilization, I assumed that if I - and many others - were able to show the evidence and implications of peak oil, that people would be awoken from their dogmatic slumber and we would at once begin to arrange that we live together more responsibly and demand that our leaders help us toward that end. What I find instead is the absolute demand that something else be found in order to ensure that nothing has to change. So fully defined are we by our profligate way of life that nothing short of its permanent continuation can be deemed acceptable."

. . . .

"These immediate responses - the desperate wish to avoid, at all costs, the prospect of having to change our behavior - are the definite signs that we are not likely to change one iota until we have extracted every last possible form of energy that can be transformed into our active effort to control and master nature and to avoid the possibility of self-restraint. We do so thinking the alternative must be unthinkable, so awful and horrific to be unimaginable. A world built closer together, with greater stability of communities and requisite cooperation among neighbors in order to live, survive, and thrive, and absent the kinetic and kaleidoscopic activity of our age as well as the vast military empire needed to support and defend fuel supply lines - this is the prospect that we must avoid at all costs. We will accept ignorance of any atrocity we are committing in order to avoid an acceptance of limits, the forging of community and the reality of less. Of course, we only delay that day, and make it more likely that the transition to such a world will be violent, bloody and horrific. So long as we can power our IPODs just one more day..."
North Carolina, 1990

"You needed that job, and you were the best qualified. But they had to give it to a minority because of a racial quota. Is that really fair?"

So began the infamous "hands" political ad in support of Jesse Helms for U.S. Senate, which emphasized Helms's black opponent (Harvey Gant) and his support for affirmative action by depicting a pair of white working man's hands presumably crumpling up a rejection letter from a prospective employer.

Just for the record, as I have written before, although reasonable people can disagree, I see the 1990 Helms-Gant ad as within the bounds of fair play and acceptable political discourse.

Cut to: North Carolina, 2008

Ironically, eighteen years later, the Tar Heel State is once again hosting a pivotal battle with national ramifications in a contest freighted with racial overtones.

Where Are We in this Contest?

Any honest observer at this point will admit that Hillary Clinton is on a roll and exceeding even the most optimistic expectations regarding her range and capacity as a candidate. Like the most recent Super Bowl champion incarnation of the New York Giants, Mrs. Clinton has peaked at the right moment in the season, playing at the top of her game when it counts the most.

On the other hand, Barack Obama finds himself bereft of momentum with no upswing in sight, (caution: about to switch sports metaphors) desperately trying to run the political version of the old Dean Smith "four corners" offense to preserve his precarious lead.

Nevertheless, even as more and more observers concede that the early Obama magic has all but evaporated, most pundits continue to write that the Democratic Party decision-makers would not dare deny their failing candidate the nomination at this point.


In large part, African Americans are the explanation. Right around 90 percent of African Americans vote Democratic in general elections (no other constituency in America even comes close in terms of fidelity). Moreover, during this primary season, 90-plus percent of African American Democrats have voted for Barack Obama (over the wife of their former hero, Bill Clinton).

Sub-question: why has Barack Obama been so successful in garnering the African American vote?

Frankly, it is much safer NOT to answer that query in our current political climate. For additional evidence concerning the pitfalls of offering impolitic analysis in this regard, see the strange case of that well-known racist, Bill Clinton, who famously suggested it might be akin to the reason so many African Americans voted for Jesse Jackson in 1984 and 1988.

The main point: the Democratic Party bigheads are intent on stuffing Obama down our throats, regardless of the trend lines, the revelations, the unfolding primary battle, or the growing sense that this forty-six year-old, half-term senator is not quite ready for the Oval Office.

Or, rather, to put it another way, Americans are belatedly realizing that we don't really know this fellow well enough to invest him with the most important and most powerful office in the history of humanity. We liked what we saw at first blush, but now we are seeing "a side" of him that gives us pause. In other words, we have gone from love at first sight to a fairly rational case of cold feet.

No matter, the Democratic Party brass continues to follow a preset script written during headier times.

Has Barack Obama Finally Become the Affirmative Action Candidate of 2008?

To paraphrase the Helms ad: the need for racial transcendence and keeping peace in the Democratic Party coalition suddenly "makes the color of your skin more important than your qualifications."

Frankly, I expect a backlash at some point. I think we may see it in North Carolina on Tuesday, which coudl derail the Obama train (or perhaps not). The fix may be in so deep at this point in the nomination contest that he is impervious even to humiliating defeat.

No matter, the backlash is out there--and it is going to buffet this race in some fashion.

On the other hand, an Obama victory in North Carolina and Indiana puts all this to bed. If he can beat Mrs. Clinton in a fair fight, it will be easy to see him as Tiger Woods (worthy and fabulous) once again.

But barring a clear victory on the field of battle, the elevation of Obama for all the wrong reasons makes for an exceedingly unappealing message.
Category: Environment
Posted by: A Waco Farmer
I appreciate the Okie Gardener's recent thoughts on Global Warming (and his prior musings), which always reflect a true respect for the scientific method and classic conservatism, rather than the all too common blow-hard varieties of both.

As was noted earlier this week by a friend who knows me well, my knowledge of science is fairly elementary. Perhaps as a result, the Global Warming jokes are hard to pass up. A few months ago, I noted wryly that I spent the night at Gate C-29 at DFW, snowed-in during early March. I confess that I cannot help but get a chuckle every time an Al Gore conference on Global Warming is canceled on account of a 100-year blizzard. And every morning in May that I wake up in Central Texas with the temperature in the high-40s (and then told Global Warming is actually making things cooler before they get unbearably Hellish), I tend to become more skeptical of the UN, NASA, Brad Pitt, and the Hollywood intelligentsia.

Notwithstanding, I agree wholeheartedly with the Gardener's call for better stewardship of Creation and his exhortation to thoughtfully consider genuinely alarming potentialities despite the asinine alarmists.

Minus my intro concering some Texas football history, I am reissuing this concurring opinion based on what I consider a non-scientific, common-sense approach:

The predicament:
Finite resources and exponential population growth equals a problem at some point in human history. Thus far, dramatic advances in technology and an amazingly dynamic and productive economic system have outpaced the inherent difficulty --and made the Malthusian predictions of scarcity during the nineteenth century the butt of modern derision.

However, do we really think that this planet will sustain 10 billion people? Twenty billion? Thirty billion? Do we think the United States will sustain a billion? Two billion? Do we think the American Southwest can continue to meet its water needs in perpetuity?

Does it alarm anyone other than me that we have become accustomed to a luxuriously abundant lifestyle that is predicated on an expanding economy, which is dependent on a growing, building, and expanding civilization, which requires the creation and infusion of more and more inhabitants into an environment with finite resources. There are limits. Where those limits actually exist--perhaps no one can say with certainty. However, undoubtedly, there must be a point at which our demand for potable water, breathable air, and fossil fuels to run our modern world exceeds the planet's capacity to offer them up.

Note: back when I first posted this, Tocqueville directed us to a timeless and provocative piece by Fred Ikle: Growth Without End, Amen. It is a must-read, if you missed it.
The Labour Party is going down in flames in local elections in Great Britain. According to The Telegraph, as of this posting The Conservatives are winning big. Conservatives are picking up around 44% of the votes, with Liberal Democrats and Labour fighting it out for second with about 25/24%. The infamous mayor of London, Red Ken, appears to have lost reelection.

One issue not emphasized enough in the coverage is the Labour Party breaking its promise to hold a referendum on imposing the EU Constitution on Great Britain. The High Court has just agreed to hear a case challenging the Labour government's refusal to hole a referendum. Story here with links.

If the EU Constitution is imposed on Britain it will supercede the traditional British Constitution, the ancestor and model for our own liberties as Americans. In many ways the EU is a step back from liberty, turning way too much power over to unelected bureacratic elites far removed from local conditions and not subject to local control.

If you are interested in keeping up with liberty across the pond, one source is Open Europe. For a summary of the implications see this post from Brits At Their Best.

Lest you think I exagerate, remember that presumption of innocence at trial is found in the British Constitution, but is not shared by many other systems, including, for example, the French justice system.
Category: Environment
Posted by: an okie gardener
Conservative Talk Radio lately has made much of data indicating that the earth could be in a cooling phase until about 2015, according to computer models. The Telegraph has details on recent climate predictions.

I have addressed the issue of Global Warming many times, for example here and here.

I think the same reasoning I argued earlier still applies. (1) Christians should seek to practice good stewardship of this planet and its resources, which includes minimizing pollution. (2) the model behind Global Warming--that carbon dioxide in the atmosphere helps trap heat--is pretty universally accepted by science. The question is, are humans releasing enough carbon dioxide into the atmosphere to alter the earth's climate. Since we have only one habitable planet, we had better be careful with it. We do not want to say oops.

I can believe, along with some conservative talk show hosts, that the fear of Global Warming is being used by some to try to destroy capitalism. But, we must not confuse the motive for an assertion with the truth of an assertion. Who knows why I might argue that 2 plus 2 equals four. What matters is the truth or falsity of the assertion.
Gateway Pundit has this news on the recently released documentary "Refusenik." The film covers the brave Soviet Jews who sought the right to emmigrate and refused to be cowed. "Scoop" Jackson and Ronald Reagan also get credit for their aid to the "Refuseniks."

Many things contributed to the fall of the Soviet Union. One essential action was the moral and physical courage of Soviet dissidents.