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The Episcopal Church, the American branch of Anglicanism, is in disarray. While most of the press goes to the issue of Episcopal support for same-sex marriage and practice, there are other symptoms of sickness. Like confused priests and bishops.

Take the Episcopal priest who converted to Islam. The Rev. Ann Holmes Redding, when converting to Islam, might have been expected to renounce her Christianity, and cease to be an Episcopal priest. Do not expect such clear thinking by Episcopal priests. She decided she wished to be both Christian and Muslim, and continue in her office. Her bishop, Geralyn Wolf, might have been expected to remove Redding's credentials. Again, do not expect such clear thought from an Episcopal bishop either. Instead, Wolf placed her under pastoral direction, which was recently extended. On the plus side, this "pastoral direction" is described as being a time of reflection during which Redding is not to exercise priestly functions.

Bishop Wolf described the priest as a woman of utmost integrity and said her interactions with her remains open and mutually gratifying.

You can't make this stuff up.

That flushing sound you hear is the mainline American churches heading down the crapper.


Statement from Bishop Wolf.
Category: Politics
Posted by: A Waco Farmer
Today in the Washington Post, staff writer, Eli Saslow, relates the story of a patriotic but confused senior citizen torn between the optimistic belief that America can change for the better and the scurrilous rumors that suggest Barack Obama might be an African-born, gay Muslim intent on smuggling his illegal alien relatives into America.

Oh, what will he do? Who can this voter believe?

Will he give in to the small-minded ignorance and malicious rumor mongering of small-town life?

Or will he listen to his better angels exhorting him to rise above prejudice and misinformation and vote for a man of hope and vision?


The mainstream media and Team Obama (is an "and" really appropriate in that context?) would have you believe that only racists and fools object to Barack Obama.

Enough of this straw man.

This is a carefully devised strategy to confuse and conflate ridiculous rumors with truly incriminating facts in order to cast doubt on the actually problematic revelations surrounding this unlikely candidate. Obama has a tremendous amount of real baggage (Reverend Wright, ill-considered comments that belie his elitism, etc.)--but, ironically, those tempting time bombs are unnecessary diversions.

Even as Obama defenders disingenuously bring up straw-men distractions while simultaneously shrieking that we should only concern ourselves with real issues, we should call that bluff.

Barack Obama is the most verifiably liberal Democratic Party nominee since Adlai Stevenson. He is much too far left of mainstream to get elected president under ordinary circumstances--and possibly too offensively liberal to win even during these times so conducive for a Democratic candidate.

Forget about his middle name. Forget about his whacked-out pastor. Forget about the radicalized wife. Give me Obama and the issues, all the issues, nothing but the issues, and, so help me, the GOP has a shot at snatching a victory against all odds.
A few days ago at their General Assembly (the big annual meeting of delegates that makes policy for the denomination), the Presbyterian Church, USA, voted to amend the constitution of the denomination. Here are the changes:

"b. Those who are called to office in the church are to lead a life in obedience to Scripture and in conformity to the historic confessional standards of the church. Among these standards is the requirement to live either in fidelity within the covenant of marriage between a man and a woman (W-4.9001), or chastity in singleness. Persons refusing to repent of any self acknowledged practice which the confessions call sin shall not be ordained and/or installed as deacons elders, or ministers of the Word and Sacrament. Those who are called to ordained service in the church, by their assent to the constitutional questions for ordination and installation (W-4.4003), pledge themselves to live lives obedient to Jesus Christ the Head of the Church, striving to follow where he leads through the witness of the Scriptures, and to understand the Scriptures through the instruction of the Confessions. In so doing, they declare their fidelity to the standards of the Church. Each governing body charged with examination for ordination and/or installation (G-14.0240 and G-14.0450) establishes the candidate's sincere efforts to adhere to these standards."

The underlined text is to be deleted, and replaced with the remaining text.

In the Presbyterian system, changing the constitution requires that proposed changes such as this one, be sent to the prebyteries (associations of local congregations) for vote. This is the fourth time that changes in sexual ethics have been proposed and sent to the presbyteries in the last 12 years. So far, the presbyteries have proven more conservative than the General Assembly, rejecting similar proposed changes in 1997 and 2000. But, more turmoil will ensue, and more people will leave the denomination, an already dwindling body.

In addition, the Assembly also voted that

"Interpretive statements concerning ordained service of homosexual church members by the 190th General Assembly (1978) of the United Presbyterian Church in the United States of America, and the 119th General Assembly (1979) of the Presbyterian Church in the United States and all subsequent affirmations thereof, have no further force or effect."

For those who wish to know the motivation for declaring the statements of 78 and 79 on homosexuality void, here is the explanation from the denomination's own official website.

The Advisory Committee on the Constitution has repeatedly said that clearing the way for ordination of sexually active gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered Presbyterians requires the deletion of G-6.0106b and the removal of the authoritative interpretations that undergirded Assembly policy statements of 1978 and 1979 prohibiting the ordination of practicing homosexuals.

For more see The Layman Online and the Presbyterian Church, USA official website.

John Calvin and John Knox, call your offices.
No surprise in Zimbabwe. Robert Mugabe, the thug-in-chief, has won "reelection" through violence. This while his government has created a massive humanitarian crisis through corruption and mismanagement. The Telegraph has this and many other stories.

Africa is full of former colonies who gained independence only to be subjected to home-grown tyranny. Many times by a man elected to office who then rigs the system so as to stay in power while enriching himself and cronies.

Thank God our first president under our present Constitution was George Washington. He wielded power only when he thought it his duty, then put it down at the first honorable opportunity to go back to Mt. Vernon. During his time in office he behaved honorably with honesty. Traits he had shown earlier while leading the Continental Army during the Revolution.

In one of my fantasies, on Judgement Day the Lord Jesus sends all U.S. presidents over to their own area, telling them to fall in line by order of office, all except George Washington. Washington's job, walk down the line in silence, looking into the eyes of each president. Those who can honestly meet his gaze go to their reward in heaven, those who cannot, well they go to theirs.
Category: General
Posted by: Tocqueville
In the last two weeks I have had 3 funerals. All of them were Indian. I take the liberty now of repeating an early post from 2006.

Last fall I helped bury a Ft. Sill Apache. He was 97 and had been born while the Apaches were held as prisoners of war. The tribe was released in 1913. It is thought that he was the last such in Oklahoma; there may be one other surviving Apache POW in New Mexico. He had been living with his daughter in Norman, OK, the last several years following the death of his wife. For years he was Headman of the Ft. Sill Band of the Apache Nation. I saw him in the hospital in Norman several times in the last week, though he was lucid only at my first visit when I took him communion. The past is not so very far away: I have had contact with a living link to the Indian Wars.

more below

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Category: Politics
Posted by: A Waco Farmer
Some facts in brief:

If you do not vote for John McCain in the upcoming fall election, you are voting for Barack Obama.

Principled conservatives who are too pure to vote for John McCain--and prefer to cast a protest vote for some other irrelevant blowhard--are voting for Barack Obama.

Frustrated and alienated conservatives who too distraught over the lack of a "conservative" choice--and choose to stay home--are voting for Barack Obama.

Just as every citizen who did not vote for George H.W. Bush in 1992 (and I know so many of you had reasons that struck you as fully justified at the time) voted for Bill Clinton, any person who does not vote for John McCain in 2008 is actively voting for Barack Obama.

Bottom line: any American who offers less than full support for the Republican ticket owns every single policy and decision of the Obama administration.

Get over yourself and get in the game. There is too much at stake to act out of narrow self-interested principle.
Category: Courts
Posted by: A Waco Farmer
From the New York Times:

Published: June 27, 2008

WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court on Thursday embraced the long-disputed view that the Second Amendment protects an individual right to own a gun for personal use, ruling 5 to 4 that there is a constitutional right to keep a loaded handgun at home for self-defense.

Back in March, following oral arguments, we discussed the case here.

While the fairly extensive coverage of the issue is worth the reread, I am a bit reluctant to redirect your attention to this post as I made an embarrassing mistake in my discussion of federalism, not noting nor taking into account that the District of Columbia is not even a quasi-sovereign entity---but a fully subordinate federally controlled territory. Tocqueville corrected my error.

Worth special note, however, is


My prediction is that the Court will recognize a full-bodied individual right to gun ownership under the 2nd Amendment (This is why we care. The Court will be deciding what the 2nd Amendment means, and the 2nd Amendment means the same thing in and out of D.C.). But I predict that the Court will strike down the D.C. statute as unconstitutional on very narrow grounds. In short, I expect the Court to find that an outright ban on gun ownership is patently unconstitutional. But the Court will leave plenty of room for the regulation and control of gun ownership for health and safety reasons. And this right to regulate may likely be broader for the states than it is for the federal government.

Good work, Tocqueville. Just another example of why all good men (and women) should read our blog regularly.

Pope Benedict XVI continues to hold the line on Roman Catholic doctrine, as evidenced by the recent appointment of Archbishop Raymond Burke, recently of St. Louis, to head the Supreme Tribunal, the highest court for ecclesiastical law.


Burke has led the charge among a handful of U.S. bishops to discipline Catholic politicians who stray from church teaching. In 2004, he told Democratic presidential nominee Sen. John Kerry he could not receive Communion in St. Louis because of his support of abortion rights and in 2007 said he would refuse Communion to then-Republican candidate former New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani for the same reason.

Full Story.

Official Site of the Archdiocese of St. Louis. The front page contains Burke's farewell statement upon his new appointment.

Burke's traditional Roman Catholicism can be seen in this excerpt from a 2007 column:

Last year, in the face of the fierce battle to prevent the approval of a proposed constitutional amendment guaranteeing the right to clone human life for the purposes of scientific experiment, the Archdiocese
launched the Rosary Crusade for the Protection of Embryonic Human Life. As you know, now the battle ground has shifted. Now, we must work steadfastly and tirelessly to repeal the constitutional amendment
which was passed. I urge you to continue to pray the Rosary daily for the work of the Respect Life Apostolate, for the reversal of the decisions in
Roe v. Wade and Doe v. Bolton, and the reversal of “Amendment 2").

The Rosary is one of the most effective prayers in the Church. Many victories of the Church are connected to a crusade of praying the Rosary, for example, the Battle of Lepanto in 1571. It is my desire to renew publicly the Rosary Crusade in the Archdiocese, during the next months. If you have remained faithful in praying the Rosary for the Protection of Embryonic Human Life, please continue the same. If you have not yet begun or have discontinued the praying of the Rosary, I ask you to begin praying, at least some decades of the Rosary, from today forward. Our Blessed Mother never fails to hear the pleas of her children, especially when they are on behalf of innocent and defenseless unborn human lives or the lives of those who are heavily burdened by advanced years, special needs or serious illness.

From a Pastoral Letter of Archbishop Burke's which drew some attention at the time:

39. But, there is no element of the common good, no morally good practice, that a candidate may promote and to which a voter may be dedicated, which could justify voting for a candidate who also endorses and supports the deliberate killing of the innocent, abortion, embryonic stem-cell research, euthanasia, human cloning or the recognition of a same-sex relationship as legal marriage. These elements are so fundamental to the common good that they cannot be subordinated to any other cause, no matter how good.

Ol' Benny 16 knows how to pope.
Category: American Culture
Posted by: an okie gardener
In this article in Christianity Today, Chuck Colson urges our political candidates to raise and debate the problem of our growing prison population. He points out that in the last 35 years there has been a six-fold increase in the number of prisoners, and that currently 1 in every 100 U.S. citizens are incarterated. State governments spend $50 billion per year in prisons.

Colson advocates programs to change the lives of those imprisoned. Citing studies he notes

Though many sociologists of the 19th and early 20th centuries attributed crime to environmental factors like poverty, an inadequate criminal justice system, and racism, landmark studies in the last 30 years have shown that crime is really about wrong moral decisions. For example, in their 17-year-long study The Criminal Personality, psychologists Stanton Samenow and Samuel Yochelson found that crime, in every case, was "the product of deliberation," and gave the antidote of "conversion to a whole new lifestyle." And in their definitive study Crime and Human Nature, Harvard social scientists James Q. Wilson and Richard Herrnstein found that crime is caused by a lack of moral teaching during the morally formative years.

Colson's point echoes two of my recent posts, on the spread of crime in Memphis, and on the shaping of killers by the Nazis.
At bottom, what we need to debate nationally, is how to become a society that provides positive shaping of the human conscience, and encourages healthy family life.

As you can guess, I am not a Libertarian.
Story here.

Somebody explain to me why we trade with these belligerent a***o*e*.
Category: US in Iraq
Posted by: an okie gardener
If the MSM of today had the patriotism of their predecessors, the story of Lance Corporal Christopher Aldesperger would have been featured on the front pages of all newspapers.

Story here. From The Rott.
More evidence for those who might still need it, that the Cuban people live under tyranny. Cuban blogger threatened. Free speech must be powerful indeed since all tyrants fear it.
Police have arrested about 26 members of the violent criminal gang known as MS-13, based in El Salvador. Story here.

This last paragraph makes another case for border control.

Many of the defendants were in the United States illegally, and two were additionally charged with re-entering the country unlawfully after having been deported, the DOJ statement said.

In other news, according to this story, the Interior Department has stated that Mexican drug smugglers have made some areas on the U.S. side of the border unsafe.
The Pew Foundation has released the latest data from its survey of Americans on religion, including religion and politics.

Some of the data on party affiliation:

38% of Evangelicals identify as Republican and 24% as Democrat.
31% of Mainliners identify as Republican and 29% as Democrat.
66% of those belonging to Historically Black Churches identify as Democrat.
52% of Mormons identify as Republican.
47% of Jews identify as Democrat.
37% of Muslims identify as Democrat.
41% of Hindus identify as Democrat.

Survey results on party identification.

Full results including demographics, state-by-state percentage composition, etc.
Category: American Culture
Posted by: an okie gardener
The Scottish Parent Teacher Council blasted Wikipedia, and other internet sources for providing inaccurate information to students. Article. Link from Drudge.

I remember in graduate school that someone kept a list on the bulletin board of the Religion faculty mailroom of errors in Wikipedia entries concerning history and religion. When I worked in the Baylor library we tried to steer students toward scholarly material, both on and off line. My advice to my students for their writing is: don't use Wikipedia as your sole source. And don't believe everything you read.

A former British prime minister once said that the primary purpose of an education was to enable one to tell when the other fellow was talking rot. You need your own base of good, reliable information to make that judgment.

One of the major problems I have noted with student use of the internet for research is a lack of digestion. Back in the day (I was in college in the mid-70s) when we did library research we read books and periodicals. Since photcopiers were in their infancy, expensive and poor qualitity, we took notes of what we read. The process of reading and then writing summaries required us to digest the material. Now, students too often skim an internet source, then copy and paste into a paper, perhaps changing a few words in the hope of avoiding plagurism. Pages of books and periodicals, if consulted, tend to be scanned and used the same way.

The papers too often read like undigested material thrown together.
Posted by: an okie gardener
Henry Chadwick, gifted historian of the Early Church, has died at 87. His work exemplifies the genius of British scholarship--careful, thorough, not going beyond the evidence in its claims. While he had a personal agenda, the health and unity of the church, he never let it get in the way of his scholarship. He was devoted to scholarship, the church, and his family. He is survived by his wife of 63 years and three daughters. He was an Anglican priest.

NYT obituary.

RIP Brother Chadwick.
Category: Frivolity
Posted by: an okie gardener
As anyone who grades high school or undergraduate papers can attest, way too many young people trust spell-check to do their editing and rewrites. These are local headlines from our local TV station. Click the links if you do not believe me.

Motorcycle critically injured in crash.

Mexico recovers pre-Columbian artifacts seized in US, Canada; some looted from nomadic caves
Category: American Culture
Posted by: an okie gardener
I am reading the book The Sunflower: On the Possibilities and Limits of Forgiveness by Simon Wiesenthal.

In the first part of the book Wiesenthal relates a disturbing experience during his time in a Nazi concentration camp in Poland. While on a work detail outside the camp at a school (his old "high school") that had been converted into a hospital for wounded German soldiers, he was summoned by a nurse. She led him into the room of a dying SS soldier and left him there. The young man had asked that a Jew be brought to him. He then proceeded, in words interupted by pain, to relate his life story, working up to what he wanted to tell a Jew.

He had been a good boy, he said, raised in the [Roman Catholic] Church by a pious mother, and truly believed. Then, he joined the Hitler Youth, and gradually was turned against the Church, giving higher alliegance to the Furher than to his parents. When the war started he volunteered for the SS. Moving east with the invasion of Russia, he and his squad were given an order one day.

"An order was given," he continued, "and we marched toward the huddled mass of Jews. There were a hundred and fifty of them or perhaps two hundred, including many children who stared at us with anxious eyes. A few were quietly crying. There were infants in their mothers' arms, but hardly any young men, mostly women and graybeards.
"As we approached I could see the expression in their eyes--fear, indescribable fear . . . apparently they knew what was awaiting them . . .
"A truck arrived with cans of petrol which we unloaded and took into a house. The strong men among the Jews were ordered to carry the cans to the upper stories. They obeyed--apathetically, without a will of their own, like automatons.
"Then we began to drive the Jews into the house. A sergeant with a whip in his hand helped any of the Jews who were not quick enough. There was a hail of curses and kicks. The house was not very large, it had only three stories. I would not have believed it possible to crowd them all into it. But after a few minutes there was no Jew left on the street."
. . .
The dying Nazi went on: "Then another truck came up full of more Jews and they too were crammed into the house with the others. Then the door was locked and a machine gun was posted opposite."
. . .
"When we were told that everything was ready, we went back a few yards, and then received the command to remove safety pins from hand grenades and throw them through the windows of the house. Detonations followed one after another . . .My God!"
Now he was silent, and he raised himself slightly from the bed: his whole body was shivering.
But he continued: "We heard screams and saw the flames eat their way from floor to floor . . . We had our rifles ready to shoot down anyone who tried to escape from that blazing hell . . .
"The screams from the house were horrible. Dense smoke poured out and choked us . . ."
. . .
". . .Behind the windows of the second floor, I saw a man with a small child in his arms. His clothes were alight. By his side stood a woman, doubtless the mother of the child. With his free hand the man covered the child's eyes . . . then he jumped into the street. Seconds later the mother followed. Then from the other windows fell burning bodies . . . We shot . . . Oh God!"

More below.

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Category: American Culture
Posted by: an okie gardener
Disturbing data from a study in Memphis. The answer is clear. Demolishing the large housing projects in the inner-city, and dispersing their residents throughout the city using rent vouchers also spread violent crime.

Full story in The Atlantic. Link from Instapundit.
The Los Angeles Times has this story the other day on the religious debates surrounding same-sex marriage. I want to engage some of the ideas found in the article.

Nonsense [speaking against the idea that moderns must be bound by the literal message of the text] , says the Rev. Mel White, a former Fuller professor and evangelical author who married his partner of 27 years in a ceremony Wednesday at All Saints Episcopal Church in Pasadena.

White calls the Bible a living document that must be understood in its historical context -- a view shared by reform-minded clergy and theologians from other faiths.

A major issue in the religious debate over homosexual practice is the interpretation of the Bible, specifically, how the Bible is to be interpretted and implemented. The two sides in the issue correspond roughly to the political debates over the U.S. Constitution and its interpretation. On one side are those who think we are bound to follow the text as written, on the other are those who think the Bible is a "living document" whose meaning and application must change as circumstances change. The problem for biblical conservatives is that few are truly conservative in their reading and application of Scripture: witness the NT teachings that women are not to have authority over men, that we are to be content with what we have, are not to remarry after divorce, or that charging interest on loans is a sin. Small wonder that polls show that for young evangelicals, homosexuality is just not an issue. The problem for biblical liberals is the danger that a person or group can make Scripture appear to bless any sort of behavior or practice. One could argue, I suppose, that due to the current situation of world overpopulation we should reexamine those passages that state we should feed the hungry, etc.

More below

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Here for the recent post.

The Indian Army so far is responding non-violently to Chinese border incursions, forming human chains by having men link arms so that Chinese troops cannot simply walk over the border. And, the Indian Army is taking more serious steps such as deploying artillery.

Full story from The Times of India.
The Infidel Bloggers Alliance posts this essay which is well worth reading.

It begins with a quotation from the Ayatollah Khomeini whom we'll regard as an expert on Islam, or at least an authority of Shia.

Let me begin with a quote from a fatwa by the late and unlamented Ayatollah Khomeini of Iran.
"A man can marry a girl younger than nine years of age, even if the girl is still a baby being breastfed. A man, however is prohibited from having intercourse with a girl younger than nine, other sexual acts such as foreplay, rubbing, kissing and sodomy is allowed.

A man having intercourse with a girl younger than nine years of age has not committed a crime, but only an infraction, if the girl is not permanently damaged. If the girl, however, is permanently damaged, the man must provide for her all her life. But this girl will not count as one of the man's four permanent wives. He also is not permitted to marry the girl's sister."

The Ayatollah is not simply giving a personal, idiosycratic opinion. For Muslims of all branches, the life of Muhammad serves as a prescriptive example of how a man should live. His is the exemplary life. And, he married his last wife when she was still a child, having sex-play with her until he had intercourse when she was nine. Since The Messenger of God did these things, then no good Muslim can disavow the practice.

Multiculturalism, what a crock.
Posted by: an okie gardener
So far, the news from Europe is not good.

Suspected Al Qaeda leader Abu Qatada is celebrating his release from prison [in the U.K.] with the release of a book in which he urges Muslims to commit terrorist attacks in the West.

In the 71-page tract, published in English translation on the internet, he repeatedly claims that fighting jihad, holy war, is obligatory for all Muslims and urges them to 'terrorise' non-believers.

Full story from The Daily Mail.

Abu Qatada is not an aberation. The Koran itself urges Muslims to fight against unbelievers until the unbelievers feel themselves to be subdued.

"But when the forbidden months are past, then fight and slay the Pagans wherever you find them, and seize them, beleaguer them, and lie in wait for them in every stratagem (of war); but if they repent, and establish regular prayers and practice regular charity, then open the way for them, for Allah is Oft-forgiving, Most Merciful." Qur'an, Sura 9:5

"Fight those who do not believe in Allah or the Last Day; nor hold that forbidden which has been forbidden by Allah and His Messenger; nor acknowledge the Religion of Truth, (even if they are) of the People of the Book until they pay the Jizya with willing submission, and feel themselves subdued." Qur'an, Sura 9:29 The Jizya is the tax paid by Christians and Jews living in Muslim lands.

"O you who believe! Fight the Unbelievers who gird you about, and let them find firmness in you: and know that Allah is with those who fear Him." Qur'an, Sura 9:123

The above quotes from the English translation of The Qur'an by Abdullah Yusuf Ali, published in Istanbul, 2002.

It is well to remember that Islam spread through military conquest from Arabia west across North Africa and the Iberian Penninsula, north into central Asia and into central Europe, and east to India.

China has stepped up its incursions into Indian territory. Here, from The Times of India.

And, we are not the only ones the Chinese are targeting with cyber-warfare. India reports daily attacks. Story here.

So what? This is the what. First, we must judge a country's intentions in the world by what it does, not be its rhetoric. China is showing itself to be something of a bully, shoving its weight around its area of the world. The question for us is this: what will it do when it feels itself stronger?

Second: India is a natural ally for us, much more so than many nations. It also is a democracy, has some Anglo institution from the British, and is a force in the marketplace.
Category: Politics
Posted by: an okie gardener
David Carlin, writing in Commonweal, makes a most persuasive case for McCain against Obama (or Hillary), and does so as a life-long Democrat.

McCain is not the perfect presidential candidate, but I think he is miles ahead of Obama. When it comes time to vote we vote for who we have on the ballot, not an abstract perfect candidate.
Category: General
Posted by: Tocqueville
"There is something hollow about the blanket praise of 'change,' as if change were always inevitable and always commendable. We know better, but we are reluctant to acknowledge it. Instead, we are bombarded with political oratory, editorial-page bombast, and psychological advice, stressing that one must have the courage to change, to reinvent oneself, to adapt, to move on. Flexibility is to be regarded as the chief virtue of the truly civilized. Suppleness is next to godliness."

"Yet this rhetoric is often a mere rationalization for selling out, giving in to the spirit of the age, reneging on one’s commitments, and taking the path of least resistance, rather than standing fast and resisting in the name of those things that one should really care about, the things that are precious and good. There’s a dirty little secret such oratory is designed to mask: that all too often it’s change that’s easy, all too easy—and it’s continuity, or loyalty, or perseverance, or honor, or idealism, or any number of other firm and steady traits that we used to think of as 'noble,' that is truly difficult. When we choose to forego the fleeting in the name of the enduring, we affirm what is deepest and most admirable in our humanity. But we also swim against the current."

Read the whole thing here.
NBC Washington Bureau chief, Tim Russert, is dead at 58.

A "Russert" search on this blog yields a lot of hits. We have mentioned him often on the Bosque Boys, usually obliquely (in keeping with his role as a facilitator of the American political conversation) and usually with a grudging fondness.

Here is an extended impression of him after an appearance on Washington Journal with Brian Lamb back in May of 2006:

Tim Russert followed. Maybe I am a fool for his working-class persona, but I cannot see how people can generate hatred for Russert. He tells great unassuming stories about being a kid from Buffalo who made good. He offered a meaningful account of how and why his father recently opted for a Ford Crown Vic over a Mercedes, Lexus, or Caddy. He read a moving letter attacking the New York Times Magazine for their sloppy journalism in re a feature that dealt with his personal memories of his mom.

Later, a passionate caller castigated Russert for being in the tank for the Bush administration. Ironically, the indignant caller provided an almost inverse interpretation of the Condi Rice interview from David Limbaugh. Why weren't you as rough on Rice as you were on Nancy Pelosi last week? She accused him of letting his corporate bias cloud his news judgment (FYI: the corporate news conspiracy: all the news orgs are owned by a few corporations who filter and water down the news).

Tim Russert was at the center of American politics for a long time. I will miss him. May God comfort his family, and may God rest his soul.
Gateway Pundit has two posts worth reading this morning: one notes that Bush is not being greeted by mobs of American hating Europeans, the other that today is the anniversary of Reagan's "tear down this wall" speech.

It is worth remembering that when our media tells us how much the world hates us, they usually are referring to the elites. It also is worth remembering that the right person at the right time can change history.
Three cheers for the Irish. They have defeated the Lisbon Treaty. The Lisbon Treaty was a back-door effort to impose the EU on the nations of Europe after the earlier EU Constitution was defeated. Since all 27 nations must approve the Treaty for it to take effect, this should kill it. Though it does not pay to assume that the political elites will play by the rules.

A major problem with the EU is that it shifts power from local nations and communities to a bureacratic elite not accountable to voters. It also makes EU law superior to national and local laws. Its justice system was to be based on Napoleanic Code, which would mean the loss of the rights and liberties of the Anglo-American tradition such as presumption of innocence.

The Irish were the only nation to put the Treaty to the voters. Other nations approved it in other ways, most of them knowing that public opinion was against the Treaty.

God bless the Irish.

Full story from The Telegraph.
Category: General
Posted by: Tocqueville
So who has won? Not the detainees. The Court's analysis leaves them with only the prospect of further litigation to determine the content of their new habeas right, followed by further litigation to resolve their particular cases, followed by further litigation before the D. C. Circuit—where they could have started had they invoked the DTA procedure. Not Congress, whose attempt to "determine—through democratic means—how best" to balance the security of the American people with the detainees' liberty interests, has been unceremoniously brushed aside. Not the Great Writ [of Habeas Corpus], whose majesty is hardly enhanced by its extension to a jurisdictionally quirky outpost, with no tangible benefit to anyone. Not the rule of law, unless by that is meant the rule of lawyers, who will now arguably have a greater role than military and intelligence officials in shaping policy for alien enemy combatants. And certainly not the American people, who today lose a bit more control over the conduct of this Nation's foreign policy to unelected, politically unaccountable judges.

Category: General
Posted by: Tocqueville
From The Washington Times, a chilling report on the doings in an Islamic school right here in the good ol' USA, courtesy of President Bush's "good friends" the Saudis.
Category: General
Posted by: Tocqueville
Camile Paglia sums up John McCain:

"For disaffected Republicans as well as many Democrats like me, McCain is an irascible grandstander of slippery ideology who has made a career out of flattering and courting the media. It remains debatable whether McCain's traumatic experiences as a prisoner of war have enhanced or distorted his admittedly wide-ranging knowledge of military and security matters. Crystal clear, however, is McCain's startling awkwardness as a public speaker. With stilted, stodgy intonations that seem to descend from the late-19th century era of one-room schoolhouses, McCain laboriously reading a speech is a painful spectacle. After the mumbling, disjointed George W. Bush, doesn't the U.S. deserve a more sophisticated leader on the international stage? "
Posted by: an okie gardener
I at last have read the text of Pope Benedict's homily given in Yankee Stadium during his recent visit. I think there are some ideas in his sermon that need to be noted.

He began,

In the Gospel we have just heard, Jesus tells his Apostles to put their faith in him, for he is “the way, and the truth and the life” (Jn 14:6). Christ is the way that leads to the Father, the truth which gives meaning to human existence, and the source of that life which is eternal joy with all the saints in his heavenly Kingdom. Let us take the Lord at his word! Let us renew our faith in him and put all our hope in his promises!
. . .
This magnificent vision of a world being transformed by the liberating truth of the Gospel is reflected in the description of the Church found in today’s second reading.

Benedict wars against the tyranny of relativism. He unequivocally places Christ above every other source of truth, and asserts Christ's uniqueness as "the way that leadds to the Father." So, regarding Roman Catholic relations with other religions, these cannot be regarded as somehow equal. After Vatican 2 it seemed to some that the position of other faiths in relation to Christianity was up for discussion. Benedict says that any consideration of other religions cannot compromise the Church's belief in the superiority of Christ.

With this encouragement to persevere in the faith of Peter (cf. Lk 22:32; Mt 16:17), I greet all of you with great affection.
. . .
The first reading also makes clear, as we see from the imposition of hands on the first deacons, that the Church’s unity is “apostolic”. It is a visible unity, grounded in the Apostles whom Christ chose and appointed as witnesses to his resurrection, and it is born of what the Scriptures call “the obedience of faith” (Rom 1:5; cf. Acts 6:7).
. . .
And this, dear friends, is the particular challenge which the Successor of Saint Peter sets before you today. As “a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation”, follow faithfully in the footsteps of those who have gone before you! Hasten the coming of God’s Kingdom in this land! Past generations have left you an impressive legacy. In our day too, the Catholic community in this nation has been outstanding in its prophetic witness in the defense of life, in the education of the young, in care for the poor, the sick and the stranger in your midst. On these solid foundations, the future of the Church in America must even now begin to rise!

Benedict, without rancor or exclamation points, asserts the superiority of the Roman Church to all other bodies who call themselves churches. Roman Catholicism is The Church, connected to the apostles, and lead by the "Successor of Saint Peter." After Vatican 2 the relationship between the Roman Church and other communions also seemed to some open for discussion. Benedict, like John Paul II, wants it known that while Rome may not cut itself off from other groups, it can not regard them as equals.

The guy knows how to pope. Kudos to Benedict XVI.
I have not seen Sex and the City the movie--but I am a big fan of the HBO TV series. On general principle, I reject the negative reviews from critics who are not fans going in. Why? The film is a reunion. Hopefully, artistically, it will be better than the Return to Gilligan's Island, but, in a larger sense, Sex and the City (the movie) is little more than a lucrative bow to nostalgia along the lines of a Very Brady Christmas. If you like and care about Carrie Bradshaw, Miranda Hobbs, Samantha Jones, and Charlotte York-Goldenblatt, surely you will be keenly interested in and mildly entertained (at the very least) by the Sex and the City movie.

Earlier this week, the Okie Gardener wrote:

Home and family, the traditional destination of a woman's path, is not where the quartet are. They are obsessed with material objects and sex. And the sex is not remotely related to procreation. Fun only, without commitment to future generations. Sterile fun.

Not to nitpick with the Gardener (who admits not knowing much about the characters), but the girls are actually much less one-dimensional (and much more concerned with procreation) than a casual observer might guess. When we last encountered the fabulous foursome in TV land, Miranda had a young son (and a husband), Charlotte was married but devastated by her inability to conceive a child of her own and making arrangements to adopt, and Carrie had rejected the penultimate man in her life partly because of his inability to father a child. Samantha? The Gardener pretty much gets her right.

Rather than "sterile fun" as a group motif, however, a much more dominant theme within the series is the search for meaning in a world bereft of traditional values.

An Aside: in this way, Sex in the City is not unlike Seinfeld (another snappy commentary on modernity to which the Gardener objected).

In truth, Carrie Bradshaw is our liberated and self-sufficient protagonist, but no fan of the show could possibly describe her as truly happy, at peace, or at all satisfied in her independent and non-traditional life.

Nevertheless, the Gardener correctly notes that the modern Manhattan girls of Sex and the City reject domesticity. This morning, as luck would have it, NPR featured a discussion of Jo March, the protagonist from Louisa May Alcott's Little Women, perhaps the ultimate independent woman of the nineteenth century, and her impact on modern American womanhood. Surprisingly (or not), several female former fans of the work, upon reaching adulthood and a certain feminist enlightenment, have reconsidered their previous childhood devotion to the book.

"At a time when women's lives were restricted to hearth and home," NPR's Lynn Neary reports, "Jo represented the possibility of another kind of life."

"'Jo always makes you think anything is possible and anything is possible for a woman,' says children's book expert Anita Silvey."

More Silvey: "She really softens the hard edges of her life. She makes Jo a much more lovable, accepted character than Louisa May Alcott herself ever was."

Was that a betrayal to the cause?

Others object to Jo March as too needy and excessively adoring of the man who eventually comes into her life. Ironically, what some modern readers find unappealing about Jo and the March family, the need "to be liked," many modern women also detest about Carrie Bradshaw, her need for "validation" by men.

Most striking to me, however, was this complaint:

"Who could possibly live up to Jo's standards?"

Neary "discovered something of a backlash against this idealized vision of a woman who is at once a loving sister, a good daughter, a best friend, a career woman and a devoted wife."

One woman confessed, "I didn't really like the book" after rereading it as an adult.

"That family was just too good... and I think part of the thing that bothered me when I was growing up was that it made me feel very guilty because I knew I couldn't be that good."

Is Sex and the City in vogue and Little Women passé for the simple reason that what we really want in twenty-first century America are role models who are just as lost as we are and who set standards we can live DOWN to?
Category: Politics
Posted by: A Waco Farmer
A couple of months ago, I offered comments contemporaneous to the Petraeus/Crocker Senate hearings in April.

This follow-up piece has been in my queue as a draft ever since. While it is no longer current, and I make no claims as to worthiness, I am pushing it off the plank, nevertheless.

For what it is worth:

A Pet Peeve with the United States Senate: they impose upon themselves time-limited opportunities to question important witnesses (this in itself is a good thing; the Senate is, of course, legendary for its tendency to talk endlessly).

The rub comes when august members of the Upper Chamber spend most of their allotted time bloviating and posturing, aiming for something sound-bite worthy, hoping to curry favor with some vital special interest, and leaving no time for witnesses to respond to their fatuous interrogatories. This is all too often followed by exasperation with the witnesses, whose thoughtful answers take away critical time from the Senator's seven minutes of fame.

Without naming any names (Joe Biden), so often senators tend to weave the most esoteric tapestry of bromides, false choices, and hypotheticals--and, then, at the conclusion of an interminable rhetorical odyssey, demand that some poor witness give a "straight answer."

"JUST ANSWER THE QUESTION, Judge (General, Secretary, etc.)!"

This will be followed by a good faith attempt to make sense out of utter gibberish--without making Senator Blusterbuss look like a complete fool (that would be uncivil and bad politics).

Senator again: "Okay, you're not going to answer; that's fine; just say you're not going to answer my question," as he hams it up for the cameras and his partisan viewing audience.

At which point, I am sure the poor witness must really want to say: "What in the Hell is your question; if I only had some remote idea as to what you are talking about, I think I could throw you some small bone for your feeble mind to chew on."

Or maybe this:

"I was listening and I thought I almost understood your question--and then you kept talking and I lost it again."

But, of course, they never say that. They merely sit there politely, apologize, genuflect before the 100 smartest people on the face of the earth, and take their lumps.

God Bless David Petraeus, Ryan Crocker, and the countless other Americans who have suffered this humiliation over the years as a sacrifice at the altar of democratic governance.
Category: Frivolity
Posted by: an okie gardener
Jean Paul Satre died and appeared before God looking very dazed and confused. God asked him, "Well, what did you expect?" "Nothing."

Rene Descartes walked into a bar and orders a drink. He finishes it and the bartender asks him, "Want another?" "I think not," he replied, and disappeared.

A rabbi, a priest, and a Protestant minister were debating which of their faiths was most effective at making converts. Finally a contest was proposed. They would all go into the woods, and the first one to convert a bear would be the winner. At the agreed upon meeting place the priest and the minister met after their ursine evangelism. "I think I won," said the priest. "I soon came upon a bear, recited the Creed, sprinkled him with water, and now he's a Catholic." "I think I was faster," said the minister. "I also met a bear, asked him if he accepted Jesus Christ as his Lord and Savior, and he roared. I took that as a yes." The two of them waited and waited for the rabbi. Finally they saw him drag himself out of the woods, his clothing torn and bloody. "What happened?" the other two cried. "Maybe I should not have tried to begin with circumcision," moaned the rabbi.

One night a lion jumps into a missionary compound. First he ate a Roman Catholic priest. Then he ate a Baptist minister. Finally he ate a Methodist missionary. Then he went back into the jungle and had an ecumenical movement.
Category: Politics
Posted by: an okie gardener
As I was pondering my next post on why I could not vote for Obama, I found this at Wizbang that pretty well says what I was going to say.

Barack Obama, though... he really doesn't bring much "change" to the party.
. . .
Well, one of the key figures in getting Rich his pardon was Eric Holder, who was the #2 man in the Justice Department under Attorney General Janet Reno. It was Holder who directed that the normal pardon process (including consulting with -- or, at least, notifying the officials who were directly involved with the case against the pardon-seeker, or that the subject of the pardon make the request themselves, or that the proposed pardon not mess up any current cases) be bypassed and Rich get his pardon.
. . .
Well, Mr. Holder is now one of the troika that is advising Barack Obama on who should be his vice-presidential candidate.
. . .
Several of Obama's top foreign policy advisors is Zbigniew Brzezinski, who served as National Security Advisor for Jimmy Carter -- where he helped shape the foreign policy that we're still paying the price for, in many ways, today.


What he said. Obama is the candidate of no real change.

Category: American Culture
Posted by: an okie gardener
A Disclaimer: I have not, nor in all probability will I, see the new movie Sex and the City. I watched parts of two or three of the TV episodes to see what the fuss was about--and found them tacky and boring. I have some thoughts prompted by Roger Ebert's review.

“Sex and the City” was famous for its frankness, and we expect similar frankness in the movie. We get it, but each “frank” moment comes wrapped in its own package and seems to stand alone from the story. That includes (1) a side shot of a penis, (2) sex in positions other than the missionary, and (3) Samantha’s dog, which is a compulsive masturbator. I would be reminded of the immortal canine punch line (“because he can”), but Samantha’s dog is a female. “She’s been fixed,” says the pet lady, “but she has not lost the urge.”

Samantha can identify with that. The dog gets friendly with every pillow, stuffed animal and ottoman and towel, and here’s the funny thing, it ravishes them male-doggy-style. I went to and typed in “How do female dogs masturbate?” and did not get a satisfactory answer, although it would seem to be: “Just like all dogs do, but not how male dogs also do.”

The "girls" in Sex and the City represent one possible destination on the paths open to modern women: hedonistic narcissism. Home and family, the traditional destination of a woman's path, is not where the quartet are. They are obsessed with material objects and sex. And the sex is not remotely related to procreation. Fun only, without commitment to future generations. Sterile fun. The play of a sterile masturbating bitch.

1. Muslims do not recognize the Jews to be God's chosen people.
2. Jews do not recognize Jesus to be the Messiah.
3. Protestants do not recognize the Pope to be the the Head of the Church.
4. Baptists do not recognize one another in Hooters.

Category: Politics
Posted by: A Waco Farmer
Up until now, the Democrats have had all the hot-button, no-brainer, red-meat, purely emotional issues on their side. We have Iraq on our side, but that has always been a tough and incredibly complicated sell that may cut against us more than for us. And, worth noting, our opponents are betting on the latter, convinced of our inability to present a cogent and convincing case in re Iraq.

However, there may be a brand new opening for the GOP. Four-dollar-per-gallon gasoline presents John McCain with an enormous opportunity.

Read Fred Barnes for a good summary of the issues, openings, and challenges.

But, in a nutshell, for the last few decades we have been very indulgent concerning energy policy. Why? Oil has been cheap and plentiful. Which means we could drive SUVs and run our AC on 66-degrees all summer and not think too much about the future. It also meant that we could allow the environmentalists to control our energy policy, making drilling, refining, and politically incorrect alternate fuels more trouble than they were worth.

However, we cannot afford that brand of indulgence any more. The good news for green-necks? SUVs and mindless energy consumption are on the way out. The good news for roughnecks: the good ole USA is probably about to get back into the business of oil production.

Back to the horse-race aspect of this question. The Democrats are completely beholden to the "environmentalists wackos," and a major pivot before the Fall Election is completely impossible. The Republicans, on the other hand, are in perfect position to propose a pragmatic policy of increased exploration, drilling, and refining that will strike so many of those swing voters as a perfectly reasonable response to a vital question.

Barnes notes that McCain has some potential problems in this area, but this perfect storm presents the king of pragmatism with a golden opportunity to go on offense.
In "a gripe about Google," Tocqueville points out that the most-used search engine on the web elected to ignore the significance of June 6th, "one of the most pivotal days in the history of the modern world, the day where thousands of America’s finest young men fought and died on the beaches of Normandy to help push back the forces of fascism and tyranny." Instead, Google reconfigured their logo to celebrate the 509th anniversary of the birth of a noteworthy but fairly obscure (to most of us) seventeenth-century portrait artist of the Spanish court.

My sense is that Google merely reflected a general reluctance yesterday among America's cultural gatekeepers to make too much of this 64th anniversary of the "Longest Day."


--Sixty-four is a fairly mundane number--nothing sexy or golden about a 64th anniversary.

--Perhaps no one cares anymore about something that happened so long ago. An increasingly small percentage of Americans were alive on that day in June in 1944, even fewer have a contemporaneous recollection of the event, and the surviving participants of Operation Overlord are down to a minuscule remnant. Literally, one might ask, who cares?

--Perhaps many well-meaning persons of cultural authority also worried that a reminder of this event might glorify war, hail American sacrifice, and highlight our positive role in modern geo-political history. Perhaps noting past military victories while American troops are in the field doing battle as we speak might appear too political and/or triumphal. Perhaps trumpeting warriors and a "good war" during a presidential election year in which the outcome of the political contest might turn on the collective assessment of our current war struck some as inappropriate.

Hard to know.

Nevertheless, here is a brief and personal (albeit somewhat indirect) recollection concerning Normandy and the "boys" who showed so brave sixty-four years ago.

For three weeks during the late spring of 1996, I traveled through France and Ireland. Making the trip by myself, I felt free to wander wherever the spirit led me. Consequently, without much conscious forethought, I found myself at the Musée Mémorial de la Bataille de Normandie in Bayeux on June 8 (the 52nd anniversary of D-Day plus two), where I ran into a contingent of British veterans of the Normandy invasion. Having served in the 21st Army Group under Field Marshal Bernard Law Montgomery, these troopers (then in their late-sixties and seventies) were excited to find a young man who seemed so interested in their great adventure so long ago. Even better, I was an American who would cordially laugh with them as they good-naturedly scoffed at the idea that Eisenhower (merely a "political general"), Patton ("all talk of blood and guts but no real grit"), or any other U.S. commander could have accomplished much without "Monty" to tell them what to do and lead the way.

Their devotion to "Monty" and his fame reminded me of a Winston Churchill story (as told by the late Sir Robert Rhodes James during one of his visits to Baylor University during the mid-1990s). According to the tale, toward the end of the war Churchill was briefing King George VI during one of their regular meetings, when the King noticed that the Prime Minister was distracted and agitated. Prompted by the King's query, Churchill explained that although the progress of the war was thoroughly agreeable, things on the domestic front were less happy. After ticking off a number of political and economic problems he faced, Churchill sighed with exasperation: "And I think Monty wants my job." To which, the King purportedly rejoined, "that is quite a relief, Winston, all this time I assumed he wanted mine."

God Save the King and God Bless Monty, Winnie, and all the boys of the 21st Army Group.

God Bless Ike and Patton and the all the boys of Pointe du Hoc and all the other places along the beaches of Normandy.
Category: General
Posted by: Tocqueville
You've probably noticed that Google likes to commemorate certain historical events on its home page by turning the Google logo into an image that represents something relevant that happened on that day. For instance, events like “World Water Day,” MLK’s Birthday, Earth Day, and even the Chinese New Year get recognized every year without fail. And Christmas and Easter are always heavily secularized in their depictions.

On this, the 64th anniversary of one of the most pivotal days in the history of the modern world, the day where thousands of America’s finest young men fought and died on the beaches of Normandy to help push back the forces of fascism and tyranny, how does Google pay tribute to this event?

Naturally, by celebrating the life of
Diego Velazquez, a Spanish painter who died in 1660.
Religion does not always move public policy in a conservative direction.

Story here from The Christian Century.


Little noted in the history behind the California Supreme Court decision that gives the "right to marry" to same-sex couples are the bold steps taken over four decades by onetime Pentecostal minister Troy Perry in trying to establish legal and religious rights for gays and lesbians.

Perry, who founded a church 40 years ago that became an international denomination for Christian homosexuals, filed the initial lawsuit with his spouse and a lesbian couple in February 2004 that led to last month's ruling making California the second state, after Massachusetts, to legalize marriage for same-sex couples.
. . .
A sociologist of religion who has studied the MCC movement credited Perry's leadership for the changes. "He has had the audacity and the tenacity to claim for gay and lesbian people the religious and civil rights that most Americans have the privilege to take for granted," said Steven Warner, professor emeritus at the University of Illinois-Chicago and immediate past president of the Society for the Scientific Study of Religion.
. . .
By contrast, some mainline leaders who have welcomed homosexual clergy into their ranks praised the California high court.

The United Church of Christ, which joined a brief in the California case, approved overwhelmingly in its 2005 convention a resolution supporting legalization of same-sex marriages. Bill McKinney, president of the UCC-related Pacific School of Religion in Berkeley, said the seminary "celebrates this historic decision."

Episcopal priest Susan Russell, the national president of the gay-advocacy group Integrity, indicated that supporters for gay union rites should raise these issues at the 2009 triennial Episcopal General Convention in Anaheim, California. She told Episcopal News Service that it is time for the church to "be as prophetic as the state of California has been."

Category: General
Posted by: Tocqueville
Here's a bizarre and disturbing story from India revealing the unintended (but entirely forseeable) consequences of affirmative action.
For the full Report, go here. (This year's report has more color and graphics and so loads more slowly than past reports.)

The worst nation offenders (Tier 3) are Algeria, Burma, Cuba, Fiji, Iran, Kuwait, Moldovia, North Korea, Oman, Papua New Guinea, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Syria.

Interesting that 8 countries out of 14 in this tier have Muslim governments. Communist dicatorships account for 2 more. And Burma, with its now infamous military dictatorship.
Category: General
Posted by: Tocqueville
"I was a normal 9-year-old boy with two parents. And then, after a fateful camping trip, I had four."

UPDATE: One Man, Many Wives, Big Problems
In May The Pew Form sponsored another biennial conference on faith, public policy, and politics attended by scholars and journalists. One of the presenters was

D. Michael Lindsay, author of Faith in the Halls of Power: How Evangelicals Joined the American Elite, described eight fallacies or misconceptions he held as he began his book. In the three years of his extensive research, he made surprising discoveries about the true power brokers and centers of power in American evangelicalism.

The book that resulted from his research, Faith in the Halls of Power: How Evangelicals Joined the American Elite was published in 2007 by Oxford University Press, and has been very well received.

He gave a talk on evangelicals that is must reading for everyone interested in American public policy and politics.Transcript.

Here are a couple of excerpts.

And I began to realize that there is a whole segment of the evangelical movement –many of those folks who are in the elite – who were trying to distinguish themselves from the rest of the evangelical subculture. And so I began to think more about this and pay more attention to it. And the real divide, in my opinion, in evangelicalism is not between the left and the right; it’s not between the young and the old. It is between a group that I call the “cosmopolitan” evangelicals and “populist” evangelicals. And these are very, very significant divisions.

You see, populist evangelicals are what we oftentimes think about evangelicals. These are the folks who are culture warriors, who say that they want to take back the country for their faith. They see themselves as embattled against secular society. They are very much concerned that they are in a minority position, and they’ve got to somehow use very strong-arm tactics to win the day.

So that populist evangelicalism is alive and strong, especially in the evangelical subculture: the music, the publishing, the entertainment segment of the evangelical subculture. But there is a whole other segment. The people who I interviewed, by and large, fit more this cosmopolitan outlook. They are less interested in taking back the country for their faith. They really are more interested in their faith being seen as authentic, reasonable, and winsome. So they still have an evangelistic impulse, but their whole modus operandi looks quite different. Because of that they have different ultimate goals of what they are actually trying to achieve. They want to have a seat at the table. They want to be seen as legitimate. They are concerned about what The New York Times or TIME magazine thinks about evangelicals because they [the cosmopolitan evangelicals] are concerned about cultural elites. They want legitimacy. Legitimacy is actually more important to them than necessarily taking back the country. And so that cosmopolitan-populist divide I find to be quite significant.


I think there are some issues that people assume will be huge elements that I think are going to go away: same-sex unions, for example. I think the train has left the station. I don’t think evangelicals 20 years from now will be raising concerns about it. I think same-sex unions will be across the country in 20 years. And I don’t think evangelicals will raise a very big stink because this is one of the issues where you do see very significant generational divides. Older evangelicals are very opposed to it; younger evangelicals are not. And in this way, it mirrors the rest of the country.


The sixth fallacy I had is that faith in politics, if we have to look at how religion fits into politics, it is most centrally about domestic issues. It is most centrally about abortion and about same-sex unions, those kinds of things. When in fact the real story, the real interesting story, is foreign affairs. Fifty years ago, evangelicals were vehemently opposed to foreign aid. They were opposed to interventionism. In fact, some of the strongest opposition that President Woodrow Wilson received for some of his policies when he was in office was from fellow conservative Christians. They said that we should not be involved in multilateral relationships. This was quite upsetting.

The major turnaround that evangelicals have made on issues about foreign aid and foreign investment is quite significant. Today, for example, evangelicals are very, very positive, very high on USAID and the State Department. Why is this? Well, over the last 20 years, we have witnessed a de-professionalization of foreign missions – and that’s a significant development. You see, 50 years ago, evangelicals were sending missionaries by the droves to China, to India, to all over. What has happened is that there has been a paradigm shift within the evangelical community. Now you don’t necessarily send somebody for the rest of his or her life to go and do foreign missions; now you send a lot more people for shorter-term ventures. People go for two weeks, for a month, for a summer, for a year, for two years, and this has changed the dynamic. What it’s done is exposed a lot more average evangelicals to a global culture. So you’ve got 7,000 members of Saddleback Church who have now traveled to Rwanda to go and do development and aid in very interesting ways.

03/06: Why Obama Won

The ultra short list in brief:

1. He is black. Joe Biden had it right: "this is story book, man."

Americans desperately want to elect a black president. Colin Powell could have had it. Condi might have scored a double. But Obama got there before anyone else. White America is going to feel great relief when this barrier is broken. As we find out more about Obama, he is much less story book than originally advertised--but his early momentum carried him through his dismal final three months.

Looking Ahead: this basic collective truth remains his most powerful asset in the Fall.

2. He pandered to the nutroots on the war.

Hillary ran a Fall Election campaign, offering a sober foreign policy strategy. Obama appealed to his party's extreme left wing, anti-war base. Once she realized her giant problem, she tried to get left--but it was too late.

Looking Ahead: this necessary primary tactic should prove his greatest liability in the Fall.

3. He dominated the caucuses. Ironically, the formerly insignificant smattering of caucuses in formerly insignificant places taken as a whole became "King Caucus" and provided his winning margin. She expected a quick knockout and bet everything on Super Tuesday. In truth, she was actually much better on the traditionally much more conclusive big primaries in big states than he was (Florida, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Texas, etc.).

On the other hand, he bet on the caucus because he had no other choice. She bet on the primaries because it was the historically smarter strategy. Life is funny.

4. The mainstream media fell in love with him.

An Aside: Bill is exactly right about the pro-O bias (although he seems ignorant that the MSM devotion to his wife's opponent has been the status quo for every Republican candidate of the modern era).

Looking Ahead: needless to say, another huge advantage in the Fall.
Category: Politics
Posted by: A Waco Farmer
The always insightful, often absolutely brilliant, Charlie Cook on the end of this race:

1. The "calls [since mid February] for Sen. Hillary Rodham drop her bid for the sake of the party were," says Cook, "wrong and unfair...until now." But now she has no choice; she must go now.

More Cook: "At this point, the Clintons should begin thinking about their future and standing in the party. What they do over the next five months will determine what their standing will be. Will they be seen as party unifiers and team players, or party wreckers and sore losers?"

2. "On at least one level, Clinton has really helped herself this year," observes Cook. "She has shown a fight, a perseverance and a tenacity that has proven that she has heart. Nobody can deny that she's the real deal."


3. "She needs to spend the rest of the summer and fall campaigning for...Obama and paying off her multi-million-dollar campaign debt," writes Cook.

[She very much needs to be in the position in which] "no one would be able to say that Hillary and Bill Clinton didn't do all they could to help Obama win the general election. And in all honesty, she could also be praying every night that he loses, so she could give folks the 'I told you so' look and have another shot in 2012."
I don't have the skills or resources to research the answer to my question, so I'll lay the question on you:

How big a part in the rise of oil prices is due to commodity futures trading, rather than current supply and demand?

UPDATE: I have located an essay by Raymond P. Learsy, whose bio states that his career was in commodites trading. His argument is that the current price of oil is indeed being manipulated by the futures trading of unkown agents, perhaps OPEC. He offers some evidence. I don't have the skills to do a good analysis of the essay, but, if I were running OPEC, I certainly would do whatever I could to keep prices high and push them higher.

UPDATE 2: Somehow I missed this item before. Congressional Democrats are accusing futures traders of artificially running up the price of oil.

"Legislation has been proposed to make speculation more difficult. But arguing that "rampant speculation" in the oil markets has helped drive up crude prices, Senate Democrats proposed a new measure that would increase the amount of money traders would have to put down when buying oil futures. With gas and oil prices at record levels, it makes no sense to allow this growing bubble of speculation to take place," said Sen. Byron Dorgan, D-N.D., who is championing the measure. "By increasing the margin requirement, we will send a message to speculators that they will no longer be allowed to artificially drive up the price of oil and gas." Currently, traders must put down anywhere between 5 percent and 7 percent when making energy futures trades, compared with 50 percent for stocks. The legislation does not specify how high that new margin requirement should be. It would instruct the Commodity Futures Trading Commission to require a "substantial increase" in the amount.

Sounds like reasonable regulation to me.

UPDATE 3: From England, this editorial in The Mail. Mostly invective without actual argument, to the effect that commodities futures trading is behind the run-up in oil prices. Link from Last of the Few. (Last of the Few is NSFW)

The practice of commodites futures trading raises serious questions. From a Christian point of view, I've had trouble with commodity futures trading. I am more familiar with agriculture than petroleum, so I'll use an example from that area. A commodities trader decides, for whatever reasons, that the price of corn will be higher in 8 months than it is now. So he begins "buying" corn futures at a price lower than he anticipates in 8 months. Let's say he is a big and well-known trader. Others follow his lead. Soon, the current market is responding to the demand and prices rise. (The reverse scenario could also happen.) Prices, therefore, in this example are going up not because of current supply and demand for actual use of corn, but because of forecasts.

And it's not like the traders have any intention of eating the corn they are buying, or feeding it to livestock, or making ethanol. These are purely money-making transactions in which the buyers and sellers never will see the product.

Christian economic theories are not agreed-upon dogma, but most of them stipulate that work done should be honest and needful. Does commodities futures trading meet this criteria? Also, I think most Christian economic theories would hold that price increases should reflect real conditions, not speculative ones, and be related to actual value, not merely market value.

Would Jesus be a commodities futures trader?
See this interview. Infidel Bloggers' Alliance has excerpts and a link to MEMRI.
Category: Politics
Posted by: A Waco Farmer
The headline in the Chicago Sun-Times calls this an apology:

"The last few days have been the most painful days of my life, even more so than the murder of Jarvis, my foster son," Pfleger said.

"When the world is meeting you for the first time from a dramatization in a sermon that I felt was in the sacredness of a sanctuary, among people who know me, and then find a YouTube that in no way defines the sermon or the message that I preached, nor the person or pastor that I am, it is painful.

"It is also grieving to me when a 1.5-minute YouTube video becomes the headlines across the world of papers and news stations, while the tragedy and death of earthquakes, cyclones and tornadoes that have taken the lives of people around this world, while the killing of our children across this country and here in Chicago and the easy access to guns have become stories on page 18 and 19, and while people are at my front door, looking for food to eat or gas to get to work, indeed that grieves me," he said.

Perhaps, if by apology they meant this definition: "a defense, excuse, or justification in speech or writing, as for a cause or doctrine."

Actually, it was more "victimology" than apology by any definition. Poor Father Pfleger.

UPDATE: One last thought. Enough with the "woe is me; I received umpteen death threats and scores of hate-emails" routine.

If you make it into the public eye, inevitably, there is going to be some loon someplace sitting at his computer feeling brave and anonymous writing some kind of "I'm gonna get you, sucker" note.

Stop crying, Father Pfleger, and take your medicine.
Category: Something Personal
Posted by: A Waco Farmer
From the AP:

WASHINGTON (AP)President Bush on Monday presented the nation's highest military award to a 19-year-old soldier who died saving the lives of four comrades in Iraq by jumping on a grenade tossed into their military vehicle. The honored soldier, Army Pfc. Ross McGinnis, "gave all for his country," the president said somberly.

This is the fourth Congressional Medal of Honor awarded to an Iraq War hero. They have all been posthumous.

President Bush:

When Ross McGinnis was in kindergarten, the teacher asked him to draw a picture of what he wanted to be when he grew up. He drew a soldier. Today our nation recognizing -- recognizes him as a soldier, and more than that -- because he did far more than his duty. In the words of one of our commanding generals, "Four men are alive because this soldier embodied our Army values and gave his life."

Last Friday, my six-year-old graduated kindergarten in a blue-striped seersucker suit. When asked what he wanted to do when he grew up, he said, "I want to be in the Navy because I love my country." Later that afternoon, per a prior agreement, he was awarded his prized "buzz cut" for the summer.

For those who know me, it will not surprise you to learn that I listened to the story of Ross McGinnis with a lump in my throat.

President Bush:

The Medal of Honor is the nation's highest military distinction. It's given for valor beyond anything that duty could require, or a superior could command. By long tradition, it's presented by the President. For any President, doing so is a high privilege.

Before he entered our country's history, Ross McGinnis came of age in the town of Knox, Pennsylvania. Back home they remember a slender boy with a big heart and a carefree spirit. He was a regular guy. He loved playing basketball. He loved working on cars. He wasn't too wild about schoolwork. (Laughter.) He had a lot of friends and a great sense of humor. In high school and in the Army, Ross became known for his ability to do impersonations. A buddy from boot camp said that Ross was the only man there who could make the drill sergeant laugh. (Laughter.)

Most of all, those who knew Ross McGinnis recall him as a dependable friend and a really good guy. If Ross was your buddy and you needed help or you got in trouble, he'd stick with you and be the one you could count on. One of his friends told a reporter that Ross was the type "who would do anything for anybody."

That element of his character was to make all the difference when Ross McGinnis became a soldier in the Army. One afternoon 18 months ago, Private McGinnis was part of a humvee patrol in a neighborhood of Baghdad. From his position in the gun turret, he noticed a grenade thrown directly at the vehicle. In an instant, the grenade dropped through the gunner's hatch. He shouted a warning to the four men inside. Confined in that tiny space, the soldiers had no chance of escaping the explosion. Private McGinnis could have easily jumped from the humvee and saved himself. Instead he dropped inside, put himself against the grenade, and absorbed the blast with his own body.

By that split-second decision, Private McGinnis lost his own life, and he saved his comrades. One of them was Platoon Sergeant Cedric Thomas, who said this: "He had time to jump out of the truck. He chose not to. He's a hero. He was just an awesome guy." For his actions, Private McGinnis received the Silver Star, a posthumous promotion in rank, and a swift nomination for the Medal of Honor. But it wasn't acclaim or credit that motivated him. Ross's dad has said, "I know medals never crossed his mind. He was always about friendships and relationships. He just took that to the ultimate this time."

God Bless Ross McGinnis. God Bless an America that produces young men such as Ross McGinnis.

President Bush:

The day will come when the mission he served has been completed and the fighting is over, and freedom and security have prevailed. America will never forget those who came forward to bear the battle. America will always honor the name of this brave soldier who gave all for his country, and was taken to rest at age 19.

Fervently do we pray.
A life-long friend and dedicated reader from Southern California, known on the Bosque Boys as "Football Coach," wrote last week (his thoughts in italics) concerning the ongoing situation with the "Yearning for Zion Ranch" case:

*** It concerns me that a state as Libertarian as Texas took 400+ kids away from their parents because of one phone call and a basic dislike for the lifestyle of the people involved. If that can happen in Texas, what can happen in the Democratic Peoples Republic of California?

Reality Check: the rugged "frontierism" of "libertarian" Texas is mostly myth and memory these days. Big Government in Texas is not so unlike Big Government in California. Perhaps the popularly elected state judiciary has resisted this trend somewhat (in some cases) over the last decade or so--but that has proven anomalous within an otherwise thoroughly modern conception of government within the Lone Star State.

*** While I certainly disagree with their theology and lifestyle, the group appears to be following firmly held religious beliefs. Most of us would agree that polygamy is wrong (ironically however, we’re told that homosexual marriage is OK), but what about other religious parenting issues, such as spanking? Many well-meaning Christians would disagree on the issue, but you can make a pretty strong case from the book of Proverbs that corporal punishment is Biblically mandated.

Excellent point, Coach. The general problem with polygamy, of course, is underage victims forced against their will to submit to unions ordered by church authority. But, in this day and age, how long can folks continue to inveigh against plural marriage for consenting adults?

One other point worth noting: the ACLU has been instrumental in fighting for the rights of these accused and accursed religious "others."

Speaking only for myself, for all their silliness, thank God for the principled atheists at the ACLU.

Note: the latest on the reunification of families from the AP.
Category: Politics
Posted by: A Waco Farmer
Obama resignation letter from Trinity via the Moderate Voice:

May 30, 2008
Dear. Rev. Moss:

We are writing to make official our decision to end our membership at Trinity.

We make this decision with sadness. Trinity was where I found Christ, where we were married and where our children were baptized. We have many friends among the 8,000 congregants who attend there and we are proud of the extraordinary good works the church continues to perform throughout the community to help the hungry, the homeless and people in need of medical care.

We also have come to appreciate your ministry and both think you have been, and will be, a wonderful pastor for years to come.

But as you know, our relations with Trinity have been strained by the divisive statements of Rev. Wright, which sharply conflict with our own views.

Our larger concern is that because of my candidacy and membership at Trinity, these controversies have served as an unfortunate distraction for other Trinity members who seek to worship in peace, and have placed you in an untenable position as you establish your own ministry under very difficult circumstances.

Our faith remains strong and we will find another church home for our family. But we also know that faith and prayer are not merely exercises to be discharged for two hours on Sunday. They are and always will be a bulwark for us in our daily lives.

We are grateful for our years as part of the Trinity community, and wish you all the best as you lead the congregation into the future. You, your family and the entire Trinity family will be in thoughts and prayers.

Michelle Obama
Barack Obama