You are currently viewing archive for July 2008
Category: Politics
Posted by: A Waco Farmer
In brief, as I gave Barack Obama holy hell for rolling a dismal 37 game in his disastrous bowling photo op during the Pennsylvania primary, it is only right to note with much admiration (perhaps even some awe) his magnificent performance from beyond the three-point line in front of a big crowd and huge television audience during his world tour.

If you haven't seen it (if that is even possible) here it is via YouTube.

By the way, this was no fluke. Evidently, Obama really is deadly from the outside--and he can perform this feat almost on demand.

Certainly, no one would argue that "draining threes" is a necessary presidential skill--but, undoubtedly, clutch play in tight situations is a big plus.

I am convinced that he is the wrong man for the job, but, for me at least, he is nearly impossible to dislike.
Category: Campaign 2008.13
Posted by: A Waco Farmer
I am a big fan of the Washington Post, which will not make me popular among my conservative brethren. Nevertheless, the Post is clearly the one great national paper that consistently places the best interest of America over ideology.

An even more damning confession: I continue to be a big fan of National Public Radio. NPR received an avalanche of criticism for reporting almost nothing but the bad news from Iraq (back when we were failing miserably). But did anyone on the Right side of the blogosphere notice that among the left-leaning journalist elite, NPR led the way in reporting the Anbar Awakening and the success of the Surge, eventually shaming the more-watched mainstream media into acknowledging the obvious--eventually.

Back to the Post, their editorial today criticizes John McCain for a "lack of civility."

The offensive McCain quote:

"Because anyone who fails to acknowledge that the surge has worked, who has consistently opposed it, consistently never sat down and had a briefing with General Petraeus, our commander there, would rather lose a war than a political campaign."

While admitting McCain is absolutely correct, the Post assails him for "falling short of [his own] standards...of respect and courtesy in the heat of political battle."


Barack Obama was absolutely and vociferously adamant that the Surge was abject folly (back when that line was politically advantageous for him). Now that it is obvious to any objective observer that his former position proved incorrect, Obama will not admit his error (when such an admission might well injure him politically).

As no one knows what lurks in the hearts of men, I will not speak to his motivations, but Mr. Obama's current obstinate denial is not the behavior of a statesman, sir; that is the conduct of a calculating poltroon.

How was that? More civil? It is definitely more nineteenth century.

Here it is bluntly: the Democrats are invested in defeat in Iraq (that is a right-wing talk radio line--but it is right on). Harry Reid said the war was lost (I hope, I hope, I hope). Let's face some facts: the successful surge is very politically inconvenient for 2008 Democrats. David Petraeus is a colossal pain in the backside for Obama boosters.

Call me crude, but I have said on numerous occasions for months and months, the key question for the future of America is this: will Democratic politicians sacrifice their political advantage over Iraq to help save the nation?

McCain merely said what we all can see.

Was it blunt? Was it a bit indelicate?

Yes--but if you don't scream it out at the top of your lungs in this current climate--who is going to hear? That is, if you don't spell it out for (and past) the Obama-adoring press corps--is anyone likely to notice this glaring inconsistency and disturbing character flaw?

Stand down Washington Post.
In response to my post on John McCain and the anatomy of an upset, candidate for the Iowa House of Representatives, and my good friend, Jamie Johnson wrote:


WACO: You make a good comparison. Yes, the NCAA basketball circa-1980s upsets are worth pondering, especially the Volvano strategy.

John McCain is slowly and steadily rising despite the media's over-the-top coverage of Obama's Middle East trip. Don't count Johnny Mac out -- those who do usually lose. He is the closest thing to an energizer bunny that anyone has seen in modern American politics.

Remember where McCain was in the Spring of 2007? People told him to pack it in, that it was all over. He had to lay off his whole campaign team. He had to start carrying his own bags again in airports. And that was when it happened -- he reconnected with the common man, the guy who ultimately decides every election.

In the midst of all the Obama worship, we need to ask ourselves one simple question: WHO WILL THE COMMON MAN VOTE FOR ON NOVEMBER 4?

Let me rephrase it. Who will be the candidate of choice for the independent, 44-year old, white male who is married (perhaps divorced) with two teenage children; who goes to work in jeans and carries a lunch bucket; who worries about his kid's future and his own retirement; whose wife (or girlfriend) often puts only one slice of baloney on his sandwich; who loves the flag and the pledge and the soldier; who respects the Good Book, even if he doesn't always live by it; and who hates what is happening to his country.

Despite what he tells pollsters when they call, despite what he may say to union activists in the lunch room -- when he gets in the privacy of that voting booth on November 4, where only God can see him -- which man will he vote for?

Answer: John McCain. Why? Because he sees himself AS John McCain -- a survivor, a guy who everybody counted out, a salt-of-the-earth type with calloused hands, chapped lips, a slight weight problem, etc. He is the Michigan man, the Ohio man, the Pennsylvania man -- the man who, 28 years ago fell in love with Reagan, and now sees an arrogant Obama acting as if he were already anointed President.

WACO, you are right. McCain may be the political Jimmy Volvano of 2008. And if he is, who will he find to hug on election night?
Category: Politics
Posted by: Tocqueville
Gerard Baker of the Times Online has an amusing piece today:

And it came to pass, in the eighth year of the reign of the evil Bush the Younger (The Ignorant), when the whole land from the Arabian desert to the shores of the Great Lakes had been laid barren, that a Child appeared in the wilderness.

The Child was blessed in looks and intellect. Scion of a simple family, offspring of a miraculous union, grandson of a typical white person and an African peasant. And yea, as he grew, the Child walked in the path of righteousness, with only the occasional detour into the odd weed and a little blow.

When he was twelve years old, they found him in the temple in the City of Chicago, arguing the finer points of community organisation with the Prophet Jeremiah and the Elders. And the Elders were astonished at what they heard and said among themselves: “Verily, who is this Child that he opens our hearts and minds to the audacity of hope?”

Read the whole thing here
Last week we learned that Inflation is soaring (reportedly at the highest levels since 1981) and growth is anemic.

Hello Stagflation! You heard it first (last July).

These numbers cannot come as much of a revelation to many of us. Milk and gas are $4.00 per gallon. Coffee is $4.00 per pound. Bread is $2.00 per loaf. In truth, these official statistics from the Department of Labor merely confirm what we have known for months. Chalk up the collective surprise to the inherent human power to delude ourselves into believing what we desperately want to see.

Hello Reality. Statistics catch up to life. To paraphrase Mary Chapin Carpenter, the Stars Might Lie, but eventually the numbers come around...

The Other Big Numbers that don't seem to make sense right now: McCain versus Obama.

The ubiquitous question: why is this race so tight?

Blah-Blah Nyborg writes this week:

Oh, let's just admit it: John McCain is a long shot. He's got a heroic personal story, and being white has never hurt a presidential candidate, but on paper 2008 just doesn't look like his year. And considering what's happening off paper, it might be time to ask the question the horse-race-loving media are never supposed to ask: Is McCain a no-shot?

No argument from me. I have said basically the same thing for months (although the "white" crack is gratuitous and misleading).

But seriously folks, who in their right mind would vote for John McCain for president?

Me--but I don't count---long story.

Why is McCain hanging in there on the national polls when all political science models, recent political history, and all conventional wisdom suggest that Obama ought to be up thirty points right now?

An Aside: is this somehow connected to the question from the spring: why can't he [Obama] put her [Clinton] away?

Eventually he did. And, chances are, he eventually will.

But what is going on?

I have been thinking about upsets lately. What is the dynamic of a mind-blowing, logic-defying upset?

Most upsets don't happen. Obvious, right? Most underdogs lose. An over-matched team may hang in for a while, fight the good fight, maybe even lead during the first quarter. But, eventually, the sky collapses on them--and the blowout commences.

But not always. There is a phenomenon we know as upsets. They do happen.

Two cases in point: Villanova-Georgetown, 1985, and NC State-U of H, 1983.

Rollie Massimino and the low-seeded Villanova Wildcats out-thought and out-fought the incredibly talented defending-champion Georgetown Hoyas to squeeze out perhaps the most shocking victory in all of American sports history in the 1985 NCAA Final. According to legend, Massimino predicted the exact number of points it would take to win the game and wrote it on the locker room chalkboard before tipoff. Villanova had a plan, and they worked it to perfection--shooting 78 percent from the field along the way. They maintained a thin lead for most of the game, and they never faltered, doubted, or faded under pressure.

If you watched that Final you may remember thinking no team (and certainly not Villanova) can maintain this level of excellence for an entire game. But they did. And Villanova prevailed--by two points (66-64).

Is John McCain Villanova? Does John McCain have a Rollie Massimino behind the scenes with a master strategy? No and No. John McCain has no plan, and he will not play brilliantly from now until the buzzer. Villanova-Georgetown offers little encouragement to Camp McCain.

However, remember the great Final Four upset of 1983. Jimmy Volvano and the Wolfpack of North Carolina State stunned a heavily favored University of Houston Cougars team, chocked full of future NBA Hall of Famers. "Phi Slamma Jamma." That was a crazy game in which the Cougars could never quite pull away, tightened up a bit down the stretch, and allowed their inexperience and their over-confidence to get the best of them. The Wolfpack hung around, hung around, and as the game devolved into chaos in the final seconds, a star NC State player shot an air ball which serendipitously landed in the hands of a role player standing in the right place at the right time, and he forcefully dunked it home to win a national championship for State by two points. SHOCKER!!!

Cue Jimmy V. racing around the court with his hands in the air looking for someone to hug.


Possible? Maybe. McCain is much more the unstructured wild man hanging in there and needing a break at crunch time. But, who knows, things at least this strange have happened.

Do you believe in miracles!?!
"If ifs and buts were candy and nuts, what a Merry Christmas it would be."
~~the Danderoo

"If the Sunni Awakening had not occurred, and the Shia Stand Down had not transpired, then the Surge, which has been successful, would not have been successful in itself, and I would have been right when I predicted that the Surge would not be successful, as I did not anticipate the other components coming together in the way that they did."
~~the Obamaroo

You think I exaggerate? Only slightly for comic effect. Here is the actual quote from the exchange with Terry Moran of ABC News:

Moran: The Surge?

You opposed the Surge, staunchly.

Would you say, based on what you see here, that you were wrong in saying that twenty thousand troops would not make a significant dent in the violence? They have…

BARACK OBAMA: Here’s what I‘ll say, I did not anticipate the convergence of not only the surge, but the Sunni Awakening, in which a whole host of Sunni tribal leaders decided they’d had enough with al Qaeda. In the Shia community the militias standing down to some degree. Had those political factors not occurred, I think my assessment would have been correct.

Moran: If you had it to do over again, knowing now what you do, would you support the Surge?

OBAMA: No because...

Moran: [incredulously] You wouldn’t?

OBAMA: What I am absolutely convinced of is that at that time we had to change the political debate because the view of the Bush administration at that time was one that I disagreed with and continue to disagree with because it focused narrowly on Iraq and not these broader issues...

A Waco Farmer:
Say What?

Farmer's Note: I am linking the video of this exchange, which is available on the ABC Nightline website--but I have yet to see the transcript anywhere (I had to play the link repeatedly as I transcribed it myself). I also note that this exchange did not make the ABC web story summarizing the Moran/Obama interview. You will never hear me say "vast left-wing conspiracy," but this is the kind of coincidental lapse that makes it harder for me to convince my friends at the John Birch Society meetings that the mainstream media is really objective.
I caught a few minutes of a McCain town hall meeting on C-SPAN last night ("Road to the White House").

Obama proved himself exceedingly wise in his deft evasion of McCain's post-primary invitation to debate in ten town hall forums all across the county during the period prior to the conventions.

An Aside: what accounts for Obama's deftness? He unceremoniously and unabashedly "ducked" the straight-forward offer (technically, I think he and his staff are still considering the proposal)--and that was the last most of us heard on the subject. The mainstream media dropped the story, and John McCain could not find a way to make any hay out of Obama's refusal to meet on the field of honor.

Second Aside: although it has been widely reported that Barack Obama spurned public financing of his campaign (essentially, because he got a better offer), that dramatic disavowal of a time-honored Democratic Party (and Beltway press corps) shibboleth never rose to the level of a huge media story either. Love means never having to say you're sorry.

Third Aside: the best ironic human interest angle never reported (and almost certainly destined to be ignored through November) is that McCain really is everything that Obama purported to be during his "a change you can believe in" period. On the other hand, if a candidate loses his innocence, and the media refuse to report it, did it actually happen?

On last irony: ask the media why they lost that loving feeling for their erstwhile sweetheart, Maverick John McCain? Number One Answer: he changed.

Reset. Back to point. Why was Obama wise to avoid McCain and his offer to traverse the nation together on the same plane as his opponent meeting and greeting the people of our fair land like the statesmen of old?


Because McCain owns the format.

Watching McCain last night was truly awe-inspiring. There he was in a GM plant with a real audience. Some people liked him. Some people were obviously hostile questioners. But Johnny Mac backs down from no one. Some one wanted to hold his feet to the fire on his "flip flop" concerning off-shore drilling, he had an answer. He also said to her: "keep the microphone." He intended to answer her question and then give her a chance to follow up.

True Grit.

After she was satisfied (or at least subdued), her friend wanted to take him to task on Iraq. McCain told her he did not have time to answer that question fully, but then he proceeded to speak for the next ten minutes in rapid-fire explanation of American vital interests in Iraq yesterday, today, and tomorrow. It was a tour de force.

McCain crushes any other candidate in this venue.

Why? He has deep and thick positions on vital questions, which he can address from any number of angles.

The Bad News: McCain cannot deliver a speech to save his soul. Running for president cannot be an endless parade of town halls. Even worse, his opponent is a master stem winder. McCain looks even worse than he is (and he is dreadful) in comparison to Obama. If McCain is to win this election (which, let me remind you once again, is an outrageously unlikely proposition), he must avoid a big live televised speech to the American public (change the format of the nominating convention, if need be).

What works for McCain in terms of national media? Frankly, not much. Perhaps some quick-hitting commercials with video of his return as a POW, coming down the gangplank of his airplane smiling and hobbling, while the voice over (Tom Selleck maybe) talks about who McCain is and what he's going to do (cue some sentimental and patriotic music). Does that sound too manipulative? Maybe--but that is the only way to counter the oratorical majesty of his opponent--which, in truth, is merely a pleasant but basically irrelevant distraction from the real issues of this campaign.

McCain needs those town halls. What really works for McCain is hand-to-hand combat. If he could court the 125 million potential voters in America the way he wooed the 250,000 Republican and independent voters in New Hampshire, McCain would be the odds-on favorite for 2008. However, reality check, this is not the game.

Nevertheless, McCain needs those town halls. Why is Obama unlikely to spend any time with his opponent in this venue? The town hall not only plays to McCain's great strength, it also highlights Obama's chief stylistic weakness. While he is a brilliant writer and extraordinarily skilled at delivering his well-crafted speeches, Obama is not particularly articulate off the cuff. He can be rattled. Once off script and roughed up a bit, he may threaten to bomb Pakistan or begin scheduling face-to-face meetings with America's most wanted.

Obama reminds me of my students who sometimes claim "test anxiety." That is, "I knew all the material," they tell me, "but my mind went blank during the exam." What that means, generally, is that at some point at three in the morning they sort of remember being able to recite (for the most part) all the terms and definitions they had scribbled on a study sheet. But now that it is actually test time, and the pressure is on, they are scrambling and grasping for the answers.

Yes, believe it or not, in the American colleges of the present, there is an official diagnosis for this malady: Test Anxiety. Back when I was in school we just called it insufficient preparation. Now you can get a note from our disabilities specialist.

John McCain doesn't suffer from test anxiety. Generally, he does not need to call up something from a recent late-night cram session. McCain is thoroughly McCain. He is always on message--because he is the message.

Barack and Johnny will debate eventually in a tightly controlled network-anchor-dominated format in which both sides will fire broadsides at one another with probably little effect. In truth, neither one is a very good debater (Obama for the reasons listed above; McCain lacks humor and charisma). Having said that, Obama will win the visuals and the spin and most likely take the match on points.
Category: American Culture
Posted by: an okie gardener
Interesting. More American blacks are converting to Judaism. The numbers are very, very small, but fascinating that such conversions are happening at all. Blacks and Jews, as groups, have had some antagonism since the Civil Rights struggles which united the two groups. And, Judaism does not seek out converts.

Story here from The Christian Science Monitor.

Another recent study by the Institute for Jewish and Community Research in San Francisco estimates that there are as many as 150,000 practicing black Jews in the US today, with synagogues across the country reporting increasing numbers of blacks either exploring or converting to Judaism.
An absolutly brilliant essay on the role of Protestant faith in American discourse, and the loss today of a common vocabulary that accompanies the decline of the Mainline Denominations.
Category: Politics
Posted by: an okie gardener
Gateway Pundit has the round-up on the continuing threats and now actual violence against Clinton supporters from Obamaniacs.


Does anyone else find this scary? The adulation Obama receives, coupled with the threats and violence, make his movement seem like Third-World politics.
Anyone out there have a clue what Thin Lizzy mean by their song Holy War?


A sample:
If you will adore me
Bow before me and praise my name
If you place no god before me
Then all I have is yours to claim
And if God is in the heavens
Why did God let children die
If you don't ask these questions
There is no reasons why
We are chosen
We are one
We are frightened of no one
And no one will win this war
This is the way
This is the law

Holy War performed in concert, 1983. Hat tip Infidel Bloggers Alliance.
Category: Politics
Posted by: an okie gardener
This afternoon I had a conversation with a former chairman of the Comanche Nation. He mentioned that he had met John McCain once. My friend was returning from a meeting in Washington, D.C., after the 9/11 security procedures were in place. After he cleared security and was putting his shoes back on, things into his pockets, etc., he noticed that the man next to him putting on shoes was John McCain. My friend spoke to him and shook his hand. While he remains a staunch Democrat, this encounter impressed him; McCain asked for no special treatment but stood in line with everyone else.

Character is revealed day-by-day in small actions. Take a lesson Cynthia McKinney.
Throughout the war in Iraq the best reporting on the ground has come through the blogosphere from military personel or independent bloggers who traveled to Iraq. Here is a report from Armed and Curious that tells a powerful story. Link from Instapundit.

I know that a lot of Monday-morning quarterbacking has criticized the U.S. military for disbanding the Iraqi Army almost immediately, and building another from scratch: a time consuming process that may indeed have left a power vacuum. But, there is all the difference in the world between an army that has been the support for a tryant and an army committed to democracy and human rights. In the long run, I think we did the right thing in building a new Iraqi Army.
Some evangelicals are becoming increasingly wary of the religious teachings promoted by Oprah Winfrey. Story here from USA TODAY.

Religion writer Marcia Nelson, author of The Gospel According to Oprah, said criticism of Winfrey by conservative Christians dates to 1998 when she included a spiritual emphasis on her TV show.

"Back then she got pretty much lambasted the way she is being lambasted now, for telling us what to believe and telling us the wrong thing to believe in, according to conservative Christians," said Nelson.

But Nelson, who studied a year of Winfrey's shows, differs with those who call Winfrey's spiritual ideas "New Age." She says Winfrey would be more related to the "New Thought" movement, which is more mainstream, focusing on positive thinking as a spiritual tool rather than crystals, for example.

"I absolutely regard her as a Christian but ... she's one of those capacious Christians," Nelson said.

I myself don't have an opinion because I have almost no idea what happens on Oprah or in O Magazine.
Category: Christian Belief
Posted by: an okie gardener
Staying with us now is a work group from a Reformed church in Slate Hill, New York. Tonight I am to do a devotional with them. I am planning to ask them this series of questions, following a reading of Matthew 28:18-20, stressing the part about making disciples of all nations.

Matthew 28:18-20

1.You are a missionary to a culture that practices polygamy. A man wants to convert to Christianity. He has 4 wives. Do you baptize him as is? Do you have him choose only one wife before baptism? A single male Christian within this culture takes a wife. Then, he wants to take a second wife to add with the first. Do you perform the wedding? If he does take the second wife, do you think church discipline is necessary?

2.Within a culture that venerates ancestors, each family keeps a shrine within its house dedicated to the ancestors of the family. A small plate of food and a small cup of liquor are placed before the shrine each day, in a short ceremony involving prayers to the ancestors. What do you do, as a missionary pastor, in regard to this practice?

3.You are a missionary pastor to a culture that is oral, without a written language. Stories are retold within families. In each village there is a storyteller whose task is to remember the history of the village and of the tribe, and to tell the history on special days. In the middle of the village is a large thatched roof shelter. When anyone comes to the village, they are expected to go to this shelter where everyone will gather to hear the news from wherever the person who arrived is from. Do you attempt to create a written language for the tribe, so that a written Bible translation can be made, or do you create a Bible translation that is purely oral, that is, unwritten.

What resources guide you in your answers? What is your thought process?

4.You are a missionary pastor to a culture in which legal divorce is easily obtained and common. A divorced woman wants to convert. Do you baptize her? A Christian man in the church divorces his wife, saying they just drifted apart. Is church discipline necessary? The man wants to take another wife; will you marry the two of them?

5.You are a missionary pastor in a culture which values sports highly. Youth soccer games are routinely scheduled morning, noon, and night on Sunday. What do you teach your congregation to do?

6.You are a missionary pastor to a culture that spends vast sums of money on weddings. Easily the sum of money that could be used as a down payment on a house. The latest trend is to do “destination weddings” in which the ceremony is to take place in an exotic location like the Bahamas. Do you participate? What do you teach your congregation?
Category: Politics
Posted by: an okie gardener
This essay argues that an Obama presidency will not resemble Carter's--who was weak and president during a time of economic malaise--nor Clinton's--who lacked Congressional support for left-of-center policies--but rather will be like LBJ, promoting significant change in the direction of Big Government as the attempted solution to all perceived social problems. Worth checking out. Link from Instapundit.

In fairness to LBJ, I think the big Texan loved his country and had a genuine connection to and affection for common Americans. And some of his actions were good and overdue, like signing the Civil Rights Act.

Obama is seeming more and more like an elitist without a deep affection for this country as it is and has been.
Brits at their Best excerpts and links to this essay by David Pryce-Jones on the arrogent, undemocratic, liberty-destroying, actions of the European political class in pushing ahead with the EU even after the people have spoken against it. Evidently the voice of the hoi poloi means nothing to the MASTERS OF THE UNIVERSE in their home in Brussels.

And to think that some American politicians (read DEMOCRATS) want us to become more like Europe.
Recent comments by Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury and therefore leader of world-wide Anglicanism, show a tremendous lack of critical intellect. Story from The Mail online.

Dr Rowan Williams also criticised Christianity's history for its violence, its use of harsh punishments and its betrayal of its peaceful principles.
His comments came in a highly conciliatory letter to Islamic leaders calling for an alliance between the two faiths for 'the common good'.
The Archbishop of Canterbury Dr Rowan Williams has admitted that Christian doctrine is offensive to muslims
But it risked fresh controversy for the Archbishop in the wake of his pronouncement earlier this year that a place should be found for Islamic sharia law in the British legal system.

(Sigh), where to begin? He seems to assume that Christianity is pacifist, a point that is at least debatable. And, Anglicanism has never been pacifist. And finding a place for Sharia in the British legal system? How can one have a nation if more than one system of Basic Law is in place? Sharia? a blueprint for the oppression of women, punishment of "apostates," discrimination against non-Muslims, etc.

The Archbishop's letter is a reply to feelers to Christians put out by Islamic leaders from 43 countries last autumn.
In it, Dr Williams said violence is incompatible with the beliefs of either faith and that, once that principle is accepted, both can work together against poverty and prejudice and to help the environment.

What? Islam spread by force of violent conquest. The Q'uran advocates violence against unbelievers. Muhammad, the exemplar of how to live, engaged in acts of violence in consolidating his power. Islam and violence are extremely compatible. What a ninny.

He also said the Christian belief in the Trinity - that God is Father, Son and Holy Ghost at the same time - 'is difficult, sometimes offensive, to Muslims'.
Trinitarian doctrine conflicts with the Islamic view that there is just one all-powerful God.
Dr Williams added: 'It is all the more important for the sake of open and careful dialogue that we try to clarify what we do and do not mean by it, and so I trust that what follows will be read in this spirit.'

What does he mean "sometimes offensive, to Muslims?" The Doctrine of the Trinity is inherently offensive to Muslims who believe Allah to exist in splendid unitary isolation. And why do I think that Williams call "to clarify what we do and do not mean by it" will involve backpedaling on this most fundamental Christian doctrine.

He told Muslim leaders that faith has no connection with political power or force, and that Christians have in the past betrayed this idea.

What? Only if Christianity is to have absolutely no relationship, directly or indirectly with government, which as St. Paul said, has been given the sword by God. I was not aware that Anglicanism had secretly been Anabaptist all along.

'Religious identity has often been confused with cultural or national integrity, with structures of social control, with class and regional identities, with empire: and it has been imposed in the interest of all these and other forms of power,' he said.

Such as when the Royal Navy in the nineteenth century unilaterally ended the slave trade across the Atlantic, a projection of power rooted in evangelical Christian conviction.

As Bugs Bunny says, What a Maroon!

Category: Politics
Posted by: A Waco Farmer
The Cover

Is it funny?

Not so much. It took my breath away, but it did not make me laugh. Although, in the interest of full disclosure, the droll brilliance of the celebrated New Yorker cartoons is often wasted on my simple palate.

Should the Obama-nation be this angry?

Obama is not my guy--but, if he were, I would be crying foul, overflowing with contempt for the mainstream media. What I might say if the New Yorker did this to John McCain: "Would they do something like this to Barack Obama? Hell No!"

Of course, if the tables were turned, the other side surely would be saying: "lighten up, fellows. It is merely a cartoon. You Republicans need to have thicker skins."

Having said that, this seems mean-spirited and ugly.

What was the point?

Inoculation. This clunker of a cover was an obvious attempt by the New Yorker, an Obama-friendly den of sophisticates, to make opponents of their candidate seem ridiculous. As I have declared before on numerous occasions, the claim that Obama is actually a closet Muslim and, therefore, potentially an Islamist Manchurian Candidate is one of the most patently asinine accusations in all of American political history. No one with any sense gives this story any credence. Almost everybody (90 percent of Americans, according to recent polls) understand perfectly well that Barack Obama is an evangelical Christian (possibly from Kansas). Upon the foundation of that egregiously spurious claim, the cartoon connects a series of images that convey other less outlandish worries.

The Message: any concern you might have about Barack Obama is backward, ignorant, and possibly racist.

What went Wrong?

1. It wasn't funny. It was too New Yorkerish. There are too many people like me who aren't snarky and hip enough to appreciate this genre.

2. The satire was a bit too close to reality. Even the intended beneficiaries realized that the caricatures struck too close to home. In the midst of the satirical sketch, there is the "fist bump," which is actually a true staple of the Obama public personae.

The real problem: apart from the Muslim garb, the other gags are not so outrageous. There is a legitimate worry in Middle America that Michelle really is a limousine radical. Some Reagan Democrats really do fret that Barack may be a bit too naive when it comes to confronting terrorists. Floyd R. Turbo wonders why the Senator seems so uncomfortable with Old Glory as a unifying national symbol.

Although this was indisputably friendly fire, in the end, the New Yorker outsmarted itself and inflicted a non-lethal wound on Barack Obama.
John Lennon and Jesus Christ. Sounds like the setup to some sort of joke. But, John had a love/hate relationship with Jesus, as detailed in the book The Gospel According to the Beatles by Steve Turner. The January 2007 Christianity Today has this excerpt.

A teaser paragraph:

Those close to the couple sensed that the real reason she [Oko] was concerned was that it threatened her control over John's life. If he became a follower of Jesus he would no longer depend on her and the occultists. During long, passionate arguments she attacked the key points of his fledgling faith. They met with a couple of Norwegian missionaries whom Yoko questioned fiercely about the divinity of Christ, knowing that this was the teaching that John had always found the most difficult to accept. Their answers didn't satisfy her, and John began to waver in his commitment.
The terrorists know how to use the institutions of the West against us, including the courts.

Those imams who were thrown off an airplane a while back for suspicious activity are in a lawsuit against the airline. And now, in discovery, they want detailed information on the airline's security procedures. Here.

Powerline has been on top of the story from the beginning.

And here. Search the Powerline site for other stories.

Will our present mindset turn the Constitution into a suicide pact?
Category: Frivolity
Posted by: an okie gardener
Gangsta Rap Star Wars. NSFW Now that's funny right there. I don't care who you are. Link from the Rott.

I'm Just Too White and Nerdy. Rap from Weird Al.

Tobacco. A classic from Bob Newhart.

The French. Robin Williams. NSFW

Noah. Bill Cosby.

I Think We're All Bozos on this Bus. Firesign Theater
Category: Politics
Posted by: A Waco Farmer
"Just remember," George Bailey cautions the panicky, wide-eyed, mini-mob in the midst of a run on the Building and Loan, "this thing isn't as black as it appears."

How black is this thing?

A slew of unhappy customers descended on the numerous Southern California branches of IndyMac bank today (Monday), following the news reports that federal regulators seized control of the troubled mortgage house on Friday.

Easy day for the press. Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae conflated with IndyMac, roll tape of hot and bothered depositors standing in long lines outside a newly failed bank during a summer heat wave, and this story writes itself.

I am reminded of the reportage of the 1994 Northridge (Reseda) Earthquake, which I happened to experience up close and personal. You may remember the iconic picture in which a two-story apartment building in Reseda collapsed on itself, rendering a buffeted and compressed one-story structure. CNN ran that image with every one of its up-dates for several days, as did a lot of other news agencies. That visual became the emblematic image for most of news-watching America.

I cannot tell you how many times I have been asked sincere questions about my experience in that earthquake derived from that video. "Did your house collapse?" Based on that reporting, a huge number of news consumers in the Heartland unconsciously assumed that a vast majority of the people in the San Fernando Valley lost their homes to piles of rubble.

In truth, it was a devastating earthquake: seventy-two deaths, over 12,000 injuries, and $12.5 billion in damage. Depending on how you calculate, and your criteria, the so-called Northridge Quake can be ranked as one of the costliest natural disasters in U.S. history.

For the record, it was a big-time scary event, and we were shaken and inconvenienced for a long time following our 4:30 a.m. moment of terror. Power was out for several days in places (I never saw the CNN coverage everybody else watched because I was in the dark). Water was unreliable. There was visible damage everywhere. But very few of us were homeless, and very few of us were dead. Of a population of approximately 17 million residents in the Greater Los Angeles area, less than 100 of my fellow Angelenos died. Even seventy-two mortalities is a tragic number, indeed, but it always seemed to me that most of America had the sense from watching television that something much more catastrophic had transpired.

How black is this thing?

I really don't know--but things are generally not as bad as they seem on TV.

Is this financial crisis another Great Depression? I doubt it. But if it is, I suppose we will live through it the way our parents, grandparents, and great-grandparents did. Were a lot of people in line at IndyMac today? Yes. Did it really happen? Yes. But let's keep some proportion to all this.

We should take these events seriously. There are in fact some very scary components to our current panic.

However, one quirky reason I continue to have faith in our potential for recovery is that politicians are not to the point of being frightened enough to refrain from seeking partisan advantage.

A number of Democratic legislators (many of whom are Obama cabinet hopefuls) blame the Bush administration and other appendages of the greedy Republican-Big Finance axis. The politicians bemoan the practice of "predatory lenders...luring potential homeowners into mortgages they could not afford." These mean lenders, the story goes, did not do due diligence and "take into account the borrowers inability to repay the loans."

Is it just me, or is that crazy?

It is the responsibility, and in the interest, of the lender to make sure borrowers can pay back loans. Bad credit risks don't get lured into buying homes against their better interest.

I get a house because a lender wants to make a loan and is not sufficiently cautious. Wooohooo! I pulled a fast one---and I am in control of my own destiny. I pay back the loan and I keep the house. It is a time-honored (and fairly accepted) practice in America to buy more house than you can afford.

Remember the days when you hoped and prayed to get your home loan approved, carting box loads of check stubs and personal financial records to your loan officer in hopes that he/she would smile on your application.

Every home loan is an opportunity.

This ubiquitous talking point seems tantamount to accusing employers of luring unqualified job seekers into high-paying, prestigious positions for which they are not prepared. It just strikes me as an odd way of looking at this set of facts.

In this case, obviously, people who bought houses on speculation are in trouble. Lenders who loaned money for a plethora of over-valued homes are facing serious consequences. The housing bubble collapse is very bad news to them--and, by extension, bad news for all of us. A go-go economy is fun for everyone while it lasts. A crash depresses all sectors of the community. In retrospect, these reckless lenders were foolhardy--and they generally have come to a fool's end.

But let's cut the election cycle hysterics and give a rest to the melodramatic storyline regarding the poor benighted ignoramuses suckered into buying nice homes by greedy lenders who only wanted to make a buck.

In conclusion, perhaps we should consider George Bailey's other words of comfort: "Let's stick together and resist panic and we can work through this thing."
Category: Politics
Posted by: an okie gardener
At a recent conference, both candidates made a pitch for the Indian vote: McCain by video, Obama through a surrogate. If the election is close, the Native vote becomes more important.

While the Indian vote traditionally has gone Democrat, there are signs of possible change. Russell Means, the AIM activist, campaigned in South Dakota for Republican John Thune, helping him defeat Tom Daschle.

From an article in Frontpage back during the campaign against Daschle:

It makes perfect sense. There has been little improvement in Indian country under the Democrats. Conditions in South Dakota reservations certainly haven’t improved under Daschle. What’s an Indian to do politically? "I'm going to work with Sen. Thune's staff,” says Means, “and the state Republican Party, and that will open doors to work with the National Republican Party to completely change Indian policy in America."

For some years, in fact, Means has recognized the impotence of the Democratic Party’s approach to Indian problems. He joined the Libertarian Party in 1987, and ran as the Libertarian candidate for governor of New Mexico in 2002. “What is an American? I believe an American loves to be free. You are free to be responsible. That's the only rule you should understand,” Means says.

That American freedom does not exist on the great Indian reservations. In fact, tyrannical communism reigns on the reservations. Means explains, “This [America] is the only place where communism is successfully practiced in the world. Communism is alive and well on Indian reservations run by the United States government.”

The Republican ticket may offer Indians an alternative, says Thune, and he has more than just Russell Means behind him.

Bruce Whalen, also an Oglala Sioux of Pine Ridge, is committee chairman of the Republican Party in Shannon County. Whalen says, "I know there's a lot of Republicans out there on Pine Ridge. They just don't know it yet.”

Whalen believes the Republican Party more closely mirrors his traditional Lakota values than the Democratic Party. Those values are respect for life, limited government, sovereignty and local control.

McCain should be in a better position to reach out to the tribes with his experience in Arizona.
Bronislaw Geremek, a pivotal figure in the fight to end Communist rule in Poland and one of the leading statesmen of the democratic era that followed, died on Sunday. He was 76.

Story here, from the NYT.

RIP, say hello to President Reagan for us.

Story here from the Sidney Morning Herald.

Words of wisdom, once again uttered by Cardinal Pell, Archbishop of Sidney:

"Ruthless commercial forces are telling young people that this is the way forward, that this is the modern way, and they remain totally silent on the difficulty and damage this does to marriage and family life."
1. Jesse's comments in re castration:

Before I saw the video, I wondered if the whole thing had not been staged. If Barack Obama can schedule alternating bi-weekly tiffs with Jesse Jackson and Reverend Al from now through Election Day, he will be well served.

After seeing the tape, I am convinced that Jackson's comments were sincere and unintended for mass distribution. Also, I doubt Reverend Jackson is selfless enough to throw himself in front of a high-speed media bus to help out Obama (or anyone, for that matter). That has never been the Jesse style. No conspiracy.

Why does this help Obama? Jackson's genuine frustration with Obama points to the potential danger an African American president presents to the civil rights industry. More specifically, Obama's tendency to go "Bill Cosby" on the seedy side of black culture offers hope for a watershed moment in American life. Just as only Nixon could have gone to China, only a "black" president can hold Black America accountable.

Analysis: advantage Obama.

2. Barack's comments in re culture and language:

He is embarrassed that Americans are so deficient in foreign language and made sport of "English only" proponents. If you watched only FOX News and listened only to conservative talk radio, you might think this was the story of the week.

It wasn't.

Not much to say about this really:

The mainstream media gave Obama a pass on this potentially controversial crack (no surprise there). Sometimes an MSM-ignored story bubbles up into the public consciousness of its own momentum (Reverend Wright, Tony Rezko, the San Francisco comments). Of course, it certainly helped in those cases to have the Clintons calling in favors and manufacturing buzz to draw attention to Obama's miscues, but those days are over. THAT LUXURY IS GONE.

This story does not seem to have legs. Perhaps this is just more evidence (about "Exhibit #426") that cultural conservatives vastly overestimated the issue of immigration et al as a hot-button concern for a critical mass of heartlanders. No doubt, assimilation and American culture are vitally important to the survival of our nation, but these rabid anti-immigrationists always seem to grab this sword by the wrong end.

Analysis: no impact.

3. Phil Gramm's comments on the economy:

Gramm observed that the country was not in a true recession but a "mental recession." He also accused Americans of becoming "a nation of whiners." Gramm: "You just hear this constant whining, complaining about a loss of competitiveness, America in decline."

Not that the facts matter in this case, but Gramm is right (indisputably on the first count and, in my view, fairly accurate on the second). The technical definition for a recession among economists (and Gramm, for the record, is one: PhD, Economics, 1967, UGA) is two consecutive quarters of negative growth. Again, during an election year, the facts matter much less than the perception, but last quarter the American economy achieved some anemic growth. In re the "whining," who can really argue against that? Nevertheless, Phil should have known better. Insulting the electorate is never a winning strategy.

What makes this so devastating, however, is that Obama took a screwball comment and hammered it out of the park.


"I want all of you to know that America already has one Dr. Phil. We don’t need another one when it comes to the economy – we need somebody to actually solve the economy. It’s not just a figment of your imagination, it’s not all in your head! Let’s be clear...gas and groceries... 438,000 lost jobs over the past six months...the typical family has lost a $1,000 of income in real terms since George Bush took office....

"This economic downturn is not in your head. When people are out there losing their homes and property values are declining, that’s not a figment of your imagination and it isn’t whining to ask government to step in and give families some relief!"

"I think it’s time we had a President who doesn’t deny our problems – or blame the American people for them – but takes responsibility and provides the leadership to solve them. And that’s the kind of President I intend to be. "


I remember the afternoon in March 2004 when I first heard the John F. Kerry "I voted for it before I voted against it" sound bite. I could not believe it. After I took measures to assure myself that it really happened, I thought: "We just won this election." Karl Rove reportedly had the same reaction when he heard it. It was devastating.

Am I saying that the Gramm assertion is tantamount to that infamous Kerry game-turning fumble? Not exactly. The Kerry quote came from Kerry—the candidate himself. Even worse, Kerry never could admit to himself that his comment was a gaffe.

An Aside: the most devastating aspect of the Kerry blunder was the he never got it. He is still defending it. If you invite Kerry on TV to talk about anything, he will eventually get around to explaining how he was perfectly in the right and anybody who cannot accept that is either evil or dumb. Kerry remains the gift that keeps on giving. My hunch is that he will be good for a few more priceless gaffes before the first Tuesday in November.

Back to point: how devastating is Gramm's comment? Pretty devastating.

It is a template. Read Obama's comments again: GOP denies your misery. You need a fighter. You need a fixer. These guys don't care, but I do. I can help. These guys won't even try.

Pretty devastating.

It is classic Democratic Party candidate boilerplate strategy--and it works. It is 1992 all over again. Similar to that election, the economy this is not great--but not the Great Depression either. But a handsome, charismatic, and glib agent of change is running against an out-of-touch older generation statesman who does not have the capacity to "feel your pain." It's the Economy, Stupid!

The good news is that it was not McCain who said it, and he disowned the remark quickly. But it is out there. Obama is smart enough to run with it, and the mainstream media is complicit enough to boom it.

In the Final Analysis: Pretty Devastating.
Category: American Culture
Posted by: an okie gardener
Tonight I have Harry Chapin songs playing in my head. Don't know why. For those of you too young to remember him, Chapin was a brilliant songwriter who also sang. Most (all?) his songs were sad, about lost love, lost dreams, lost souls.

One of his biggest popular hits was "Taxi," about a man who picks up his high school love late one night. Brilliant lyrics. Here's the end of the song:

There was not much more for us to talk about,
Whatever we had once was gone.
So I turned my cab into the driveway,
Past the gate and the fine trimmed lawns.
And she said we must get together,
But I knew it'd never be arranged.
And she handed me twenty dollars,
For a two fifty fare, she said
"Harry, keep the change."
Well another man might have been angry,
And another man might have been hurt,
But another man never would have let her go...
I stashed the bill in my shirt.

And she walked away in silence,
It's strange, how you never know,
But we'd both gotten what we'd asked for,
Such a long, long time ago.

You see, she was gonna be an actress
And I was gonna learn to fly.
She took off to find the footlights,
And I took off for the sky.
And here, she's acting happy,
Inside her handsome home.
And me, I'm flying in my taxi,
Taking tips, and getting stoned,
I go flying so high, when I'm stoned.

Full song lyrics.

Chapin had a social conscience, and helped found an organization to fight hunger. Before his early death, he was playing 200 concerts a year, half of them benefits. His own brief autobiography is here. (From this front page click on "keepsakes" then at the far right near the top click autobiography.) He died in 1981 in a car wreck at 38 years of age. His final project was to write the music and lyrics for the musical "The Cotton Patch Gospel", a reverent retelling of the Gospel based on Clarence Jordan's book of the same name.

Taxi, a live performance.
Mr. Tanner, live.
30,00 Pounds of Bananas, his funniest song, but even here someone dies
Cat's in the Cradle, his most famous song
Category: American Culture
Posted by: an okie gardener
This past Friday evening my wife and I went down to our city park on the creek bottom at the west edge of town to watch the community fireworks display.

Earlier in the evening had been games for the youngsters supervised by volunteers from the Chamber of Commerce, and a carry-in dinner ("please bring a covered dish to share") with hamburgers provided and grilled by the volunteer fire department (donations appreciated).

About half an hour after sunset, with a waxing crescent moon hanging low in the western sky, the rockets fired their cargoes into the air: starbursts, whistling comets, bright clusters of stars hanging in the night--blue and red and yellow-white in different shades.

A small town in Oklahoma celebrating Independence Day.

And it did not cost any government a cent. Even the fireworks were provided by the Rattlesnake Association from a portion of the Rattlesnake Festival proceeds. The American armies of volunteers and volunteer organizations, making community happen.

The Democrats seem to have a vision of society in two parts: the individual and the (Federal) government. Traditional conservatives know better. In a healthy free society, citizens form communities, and volunteer their time and wealth as individuals and in organizations. Governments are for things that are too big to do by handing out grilled hamburgers, donations accepted.

God Bless America.
Category: Farmer's Favorites
Posted by: A Waco Farmer
It is certainly no secret how much I admire David Petraeus. But I stumbled upon this post today from eighteen months ago. Read it and remember how bad things were when this fellow took command of Iraq.

January 6, 2007

For three years of war, the Bush administration deluded itself into thinking that they sat atop a generational political realignment. Karl Rove et al saw George Bush as a McKinley-like figure who had inaugurated a decades-long Republican dynasty.

What is wrong with dynasty? Dynasty lacks accountability.

No pressure in Iraq guys, we have a compliant Congress. Don't bother selling this to the American people, they understand GOP means patriotism, peace through strength, and a no-nonsense view of the world; we speak the same language; the electorate is in the bag.

Now George Bush is operating within a new model. The administration understands all too well today that the American people are fed up with where we are in Iraq, and we want to quit. This past election saw crushing defeats for the President and his policy, and the next election, if we are in the same position in Iraq, will be much worse.

An aside: At least one of two things is true: the President and his brain trust badly misjudged the obstacles in the Middle East, and/or the President failed miserably in articulating what was ahead of us and preparing us as a nation for the long siege against Islamism, history and fifty years of American foreign policy in the region that works against us.

What can Bush do? He can give up. He can pack up the troops and bring them home. He can say he made a huge mistake. He can ask forgiveness and reach across the aisle for help in shutting down military operations. He can say his heart was in the right place, but events overwhelmed him. We wish the people of Iraq the best, and we hope that the Middle East finds the right path on the long highway of life--but we are done.

Or he can say damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead. I am certain that the President is going to give this project one more shot. The President must understand, finally, that he has used up all his “political capital.” For a very brief period, he can stand against an electoral mandate and a hostile Congress--but not for long. He must make decisive progress, and it must come quickly.

With the clock winding down, President Bush is putting the ball in the hands of Lt. Gen David H. Petraeus. Is victory still possible? Stranger things have happened. Generals Grant and Sherman turned the tide for President Lincoln during desperate times. Has President Bush found himself a fighting general? Perhaps more importantly, is George Bush ready to be a fighting president?

Here is a New York Post column from Ralph Peters, who argues that Petraeus is capable but possibly not belligerent enough.

A profile of Petraeus from the Washington Post here.
Can McCain win the upcoming Fall Election? Unlikely--but not impossible.

My advice to GOP die hards: deal honestly with the percentages. Take a deep breath and say to yourself three times: "Barack Obama is going to be the next president of the United States." Prepare yourself.


1. Barack Obama is taut and handsome; John McCain is weathered and shrunken. Obama is young, vibrant, and charismatic; McCain is old and faded. Obama can deliver a speech with the best of all time; McCain is haltingly inarticulate. Obama shows all the signs of true political genius; McCain is an old warhorse.

2. The Republican brand is at its nadir and inextricably linked to the most unpopular president of the electronic age. The Democrats are not stellar---but they have the distinct advantage this cycle of not being Republicans.

3. The uncertain economy (exacerbated by the ubiquitous breathless reporting thereof) has us all dazed and queasy, nervously waiting for the other shoe to finally drop.

4. The mainstream media is invested in Obama--and they will surely (most have already) turn on their former favorite Republican, McCain.

5. Even worse, McCain cannot seem to get any traction within GOP ranks. Quite frankly, it remains a mystery to me how he even won the nomination. I am quite sure that I am the only Republican I know who voted for him.

Unfortunately, this is merely a partial enumeration; the list of McCain disadvantages goes on...and on.

And, again, Obama is a remarkable candidate. He possesses an extraordinary political IQ. He has impeccable timing, as demonstrated in his stunning nomination victory---knowing when and exactly how to challenge a 500-pound gorilla, how to make hay while the sun shone, and when to hunker down and weather a pretty horrible three months at the conclusion of the primary season. He has expertly exploited every one of his advantages of character and culture. He seems to know when to ignore, when to obfuscate, when to deny, and when to renounce (think Jeremiah Wright). And he shows no sign of getting any dumber between now and November.

What about some of McCain's strengths?

John McCain has experience in government, and he is a war hero. Does that count for anything? Not really.

Americans do not elect presidents based on foreign policy. If we did, no one would even remember Bill Clinton, the youthful Arkansas governor who unseated the steadiest and most capable chief executive of the twentieth century in the midst of the most dramatic moment in American foreign relations history. America's reaction to that ultimate defining geopolitical crossroads back in 1992? A big long yawn. What we really wanted was someone who could feel our pain and not look at his watch during debates.

Americans are not particularly impressed with war heroes either. Think about 1992 again and 1996. The WWII heroics of George H. W. Bush and Bob Dole proved virtually meaningless against a Bill Clinton who had avoided military service under questionable circumstances. And what about John Kerry? Democrats thought they had pulled a fast one on the red, white, and blue crowd---but, again, politics trumped dog tags. The Vietnam veteran awarded three Purple Hearts lost to National Guardsman George W. Bush in 2004. I am afraid that the electorate is in agreement with Wesley Clark on this one, military service doesn't carry a lot of weight in the presidential sweepstakes.

Having said all that, John McCain has an outside, long-shot chance to pull off the biggest upset in the history of modern American presidential elections.


There is something slightly disturbing about Barack Obama.

It is not race. His pigment makes him unique among prior serious candidates for president, no doubt, but in the year 2008 we generally like that he is a person of bi-racial parentage.

It is not the rumor that there is a rumor that he is Muslim. Newsweek reported last week that 10 percent of persons polled mistakenly believed that Obama was Muslim. Quite frankly, that number is a relief (shockingly small). Turn it around: 90 percent of Americans do not misidentify him as a Muslim. Could 90 percent of Americans identify the vice president? Speaker of the House? Could 90 percent of Americans name the three branches of government? Remember the National Geographic poll from a few years back (merely a few months subsequent to Hurricane Katrina) in which 33 percent of the respondents could not point out Louisiana on a U.S. map. Ninety percent of Americans comprehend that Barack Hussein Obama is not Muslim! That is an amazingly promising statistic.

Neither is his exotic and unfortunate appellation much of a real problem. Of course, it is almost sinisterly comical in its blending of two American villains, but, keep in mind, we elected Dwight Eisenhower a mere seven years after the conclusion of an all-consuming war between the USA and the nation of Ike's German ancestors. In the end, what's in a name?

However, aside from all that there is something that is not quite right about Obama. His Ivy League elitism and internationalism-slash-cosmopolitanism rankles some. His America-hating, race-baiting, former pastor of twenty years leaves a bad taste. His wife's remarks concerning her national pride makes us wonder. His association with an unrepentant sixties radical and domestic terrorist is unsavory. His inconsistent position on flag pins makes us chuckle at him (not with him). His unwillingness to pay his political dues strikes some of us as a disconnection with traditional American values. Taken together, these are traits about the man that set off alarm bells. He does not seem to be one of us.

Three "P"s: Patriotism, Petraeus, and Petroleum.

Add all those things up and we have an uneasy feeling, which we struggle to articulate under some broad and nebulous idea--perhaps like "patriotism." This attempt at identification is not quite right, not quite satisfying--but it may be as close as we can get, finding ourselves limited by language--an imperfect form of communication.

But the fact that he is already delivering speeches explaining and defending his patriotism proves that he has a patriotism problem--for lack of a better word. Again, this deficiency is hard to confront directly; therefore, it is hard to extinguish.

Petraeus. This may seem contradictory in light of my thesis above: "Americans don't have much patience or capacity for foreign policy questions during a presidential election." Hit people hard with something scary like a "missile gap" or another terrorist attack and you might score a few points in the short run---but, generally, big and complicated issues like the Cold War or the War on Terror don't tickle the fancy of your standard citizen.

However, as unpopular as the war in Iraq remains with a vast majority of voters, there is a growing number of Americans who see progress in that interminable war. When pressed, these folks do not actually want to walk away from our investment in the Middle East, unwilling to give back the demonstrable and increasingly undeniable gains we've registered recently.

A growing number of Americans see General David Petraeus as the symbol of our recent upward turn of fortunes. Obama's non-relationship with Petraeus is part of his overall awkwardness (his delay in condemning the radical left for the "General Betray-us" controversy points up his lack of dexterity in this area). Obama's opponents ask why he will meet with Ahmed Ahmadinejad unconditionally---but he has never met America's great winning general. A lot is riding on Candidate Obama's visit to Iraq to meet with the Cen-Com chief in August. I don't see how Obama ever squares his anti-war stance with the image of Petraeus as a heroic man of honor, vision, and surprising success.

His lack of relationship with David Petraeus is increasingly awkward and seems unpresidential.

Petroleum. Four-dollar per gallon gasoline.

The Democrats are nearly completely beholden to environmentalists who are adamantly opposed to aggressive new drilling and refining policies as well as politically incorrect alternate fuels. A major pivot before the Fall Election is highly unlikely (although, after the last two weeks of Obama's shamelessly clever re-positioning, nothing is 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.

Could it happen?

A Republican victory in November remains improbable---but not impossible.
Category: General
Posted by: Tocqueville
A tip of the hat to the fine folks at Investors Business Daily (a much better investment publication than The Wall Street Journal and, in fact, a better editorial page -- although both are excellent) for noticing the 500 metric tons of yellow cake uranium coming out of Iraq.

Also, what would happen if the U.S. won a war but the media didn't tell the American public? Find out here.
The pastors of two large and prominent Presbyterian (PCUSA) churches are reacting negatively to the decision of the recent General Assembly to attempt a change in the denomination's constitution that would remove the clause requiring sexual faithfulness within marriage as the only biblical sexual expression. Story in the Layman Online.

Pastor Vic Pentz, of the Peachtree Presbyterian church in Atlanta, the denomination's largest congregation with 8700 members stated that the PCUSA is

a slow motion train wreck for the past thirty years. . . . the smoke seems at last to have cleared, and the steaming debris of the PCUSA has settled into place. It's not a pretty sight. One thing (is) for sure: this Humpty won't be getting back together again for a long time, if ever.
. . .
The battle is lost for evangelical renewal groups within the system. The old 'stay-fight-and win' strategy is history."

Pastor Ron Scates of the Highland Park Presbyterian Church in Dallas said

The PCUSA is clearly on a path of self-destruction in cutting herself off from the larger, global church, . . . [the denomination is taking a] different path than the path God has revealed to the Church in His Word.

Highland Park Presbyterian will be considering withholding funds from the denomination.

If these two major and influential churches leave the PCUSA, expect an exodus. On the plus side, with these two responses, the proposed changes to the Constitution may be dead in the water with the presbyteries, where similar proposals have been rejected twice in the last ten years.

Previous post on the General Assembly actions this summer.

Hard to believe that the major source of theology for the fundamentalist movement in America came from the nineteenth-century faculty of the Princeton Theological Seminary, the flagship Presbyterian seminary. After chapel on weekday mornings I drank coffee with friends under the portrait of B. B. Warfield.
British pupils stymied by chemistry quiz questions from the 1960s. Story here. From The Mail.

07/07: On Patriotism

Category: From the Heart
Posted by: A Waco Farmer

n. Love of and devotion to one's country.

Samuel Johnson famously pronounced "patriotism...the last refuge of a scoundrel." While one might impute a number of possible meanings to that famous saying (the 1775 context for the assertion is not extant), modern skeptics of American history and government oftentimes interpret this observation as a general caution against extreme patriotism.

The other day I entered into a discussion with a Progressive friend who professed a profound admiration for his country.

Why is America great?

What engendered feelings of national pride in his heart?

1. America FINALLY recognized the equal rights of all its citizens regardless of race.

2. America FINALLY recognized the worth of its female citizens, although, he was quick to add, we could not bring ourselves to put this development in writing (ERA).

3. America FINALLY stood up to defend the rights of African Americans, ninety-odd years after initially according those rights.

4. America FINALLY seemed to be stepping forward to combat poverty, hunger, and AIDS in less fortunate parts of the world.

My reaction: those are all good things, no doubt--but I could not shake the sense that they were also condemnations in the guise of faint praise. They all struck me as a bit grudging and back-handed. The rhythmic "FINALLY" seemed to me gratuitously ubiquitous.

Was he saying America was a pretty crumby country while we allowed slavery? Were we a pretty lousy nation for the ninety-nine years after outlawing slavery in which African Americans faced egregious discrimination?

Granted, slavery, racism, and sexism were (and are) bad things--but do the American blemishes overshadow the triumphs?

If I were going to tell our story, I think I would begin with the great and positive impact the United States of America made on the history of the world--and, then, for some balance, I would talk about some of the ways in which we fell short of our own aspirations. But I might also note that we often judge the American past against present standards, which, ironically, would not be the accepted benchmarks of civility and equality--if not for the United States of America.

My point: to lead with our flaws may be factual, strictly speaking, but it is also misleading. This is not the way we would introduce a friend or a loved one. Generally, in our relationships with people we like, we do not dwell on the very worst aspect of their personalities.

We don't say: "This is my colleague. He is a recovering alcoholic." It may be true and an impoprtant component of who he is--but, if this is a friend whom we admire, that part of his life taken alone does not accurately convey his story.

America, right or wrong.

My Progressive friend also took a moment to inveigh against the notion of "America, right or wrong," which he construed as a simplistic statement of blind and unquestioning allegiance to US policies and actions.

I have long wondered at this interpretation of that particular expression of support. Do people consciously misconstrue this straightforward and heartfelt expression of patriotism? I know my friend to be a person of good will and sincerity, so I will accept his construction as an honest difference of opinion, but what is so offensive about a pledge of unconditional love for the United States of America? Why do some listeners always seem to hear that phrase with such radical ears?

Would he have trouble with this statement?

"My wife, right or wrong."

Would you necessarily assume that I am asserting that my wife is always right? Or wouldn't you more rationally assume that I am saying that my wife is right sometimes and wrong sometimes (and I reserve the right to debate those matters with her privately)--but I support her (especially in public) regardless. Why? Because she is my wife, and I love her unconditionally. I have made a vow before God and man to love her in sickness and in health.

I love America unconditionally. I love America when George Bush is president. I love America when Bill Clinton is president. I will love America when Barack Obama is president. I often disagree with the policies of my government, and I reserve the right to debate those policies within our system of self government--but I continue to love America.

Unconditional love does not mean blind faith and unquestioning allegiance, but an unconditional love is definitely part of "the bonds of affection" and the "mystic chords of memory, stretching from every battle-field, and patriot grave, to every living heart and hearth-stone, all over this broad land," which, spoken of long ago, continues to unify and uplift.

May God Bless America.
This is what happens when the checks on power are gone. The unscrupulous grab power and keep it by whatever means they choose. Without an armed citizenry it can happen anywhere.

And notice China's role.

Story from The Mail Online. Link from Last of the Few .
Category: Frivolity
Posted by: an okie gardener
A friend sent me these jokes.

When I die, I want to die like my grandfather--who died Peacefully in his sleep. Not screaming like all the Passengers in his car.' --Author Unknown

Advice for the day: If you have a lot of tension and you get a headache, do what it says on the aspirin bottle: 'Take two aspirin' and 'Keep away from children.' --Author Unknown

'Oh, you hate your job? Why didn't you say so? There's a support group for that. It's called EVERYBODY, and they meet at the bar.' --Drew Carey

'The problem with the designated driver program, it's not a desirable job, but if you ever get sucked into doing it, have fun with it. At the end of the night, Drop them off at the wrong house.' --Jeff Foxworthy

'If a woman has to choose between catching a fly ball and saving an infant's life, she will choose to save the infant's' life without even considering if there is a man on base.' --Dave Barry

'Relationships are hard. It's like a full time job, and we should treat it like one. If your boyfriend or girlfriend wants to leave you, they should give you two weeks' notice, there should be severance pay, and the day before they leave you, they should have to find you a temp.' --Bob Ettinger

'My Mom said she learned how to swim when someone took her out in the lake and threw her off the boat. I said, 'Mom, they weren't trying to teach you how to swim.'' --Paula Poundstone

'A study in the Washington Post says that women have better verbal skills than men. I just want to say to the authors of that study: 'Duh.' --Conan O'Brien

'Why does Sea World have a seafood restaurant?? I'm halfway through my fish burger and I realize, Oh my God....I could be eating a slow learner.' --Lynda Montgomery

'I think that's how Chicago got started. Bunch of People in New York said, 'Gee, I'm enjoying the crime and the poverty, but it just isn't cold enough. Let's go west.'' --Richard Jeni

'If life were fair, Elvis would be alive and all the Impersonators would be dead.' --Johnny Carson

'Sometimes I think war is God's way of teaching us geography.' --Paul Rodriguez

'My parents didn't want to move to Florida , but they turned sixty and that's the law.' --Jerry Seinfeld

'Remember in elementary school, you were told that in case of fire you have to line up quietly in a single file line from smallest to tallest. What is the logic in that? What, do tall people burn slower?'
--Warren Hutcherson

'Bigamy is having one wife/husband too many. Monogamy is the same.' --Oscar Wilde

'Suppose you were an idiot. And suppose you were a Member of Congress.. But I repeat myself.' --Mark Twain

'Our bombs are smarter than the average high school student. At least they can find Afghanistan ' --A. Whitney Brown

'You can say any foolish thing to a dog, and the dog will give you a look that says, 'My God, you're right! I never would've thought of that!'' --Dave Barry

Do you know why they call it 'PMS'? Because 'Mad Cow Disease' was taken. -- Unknown, (presumed deceased)

'Everybody's got to believe in something. I believe I'll have another beer.' --W. C. Fields
I cannot do better today than this post at Brits at Their Best.

Fly the flag.
In an earlier post, I raised the question as to whether speculation in oil futures were at least partly to blame for high oil prices.

This article affirms that it is.

03/07: TORTURE!?!

Christopher Hitchens, no shrinking violet when it comes to forcefully addressing the threats posed by Islamism in the modern age, describes “waterboarding” today in Vanity Fair as a brand "of barbarism that [one] might expect to meet at the hands of a lawless foe who disregarded the Geneva Conventions."

After subjecting himself to the terrifying ordeal of "controlled simulated drowning" at the hands of some patriotic Americans skilled in the procedure, Hitchens notes that reasonable and honorable people disagree over whether the extreme intelligence tool is efficient and/or moral.

For his part, however, Hitchens provides a gripping account of his own experience and a compelling argument against "waterboarding," which he sees unequivocally as torture. It is worth the read--as Hitchens makes cogent arguments well worth considering:

--is the "ticking time bomb" model a slippery slope to worse brands of torture?

--does all this secrecy really serve American interest? Doesn't anybody with an internet connection know all the top secret details there are to know anyway? Couldn't the American government do better honestly confronting these accusations and wild rumors?

Read it.

Two quick notes:

--Hitch (whom, for the record, I like very much; in fact, he may be my all-time favorite atheist communist) brings up the old saw that confessions yielded from "waterboarding" may contain inaccuracies. Hitch notes that the information extracted from Khalid Sheikh Mohammed did not prove to be "wholly reliable."

The bottom line: the information from KSM produced from his interrogation proved invaluable--no one contests that point. Was it all invaluable? Maybe not. But doesn't that miss the bigger point. When a terrorists starts spewing information--are we not much happier with the leads that turn out accurate than we are disappointed with the ones that do not pan out?

--Hitch also notes:

“'waterboarding'” [is] something that Americans [have been doing] to other Americans [for many years]. It was inflicted, and endured, by those members of the Special Forces who underwent the advanced form of training known as sere (Survival, Evasion, Resistance, Escape). In these harsh exercises, brave men and women were introduced to [this brand of torture as a method of preparing for captivity among our worst enemies]."

My cousin, a retired Marine Corps sergeant and currently a young executive (he sometimes comments as "a Farmer's cousin"), reminded me recently that he endured this preparation exercise (SERE training). Needless to say, he did not enjoy it. However, the point is that he survived it, as thousands of American military men have.

"Waterboarding" is undoubtedly horrible (just ask Hitchens, or a farmer's cousin, or KSM), but there is a palpable distinction that the mainstream media perpetually (willfully?) miss: Americans undergo "waterboarding" on a regular basis as part of their training. No one would ever suggest that we stick bamboo under the fingernails of American servicemen--but for years we have "waterboarded" them.
Photognome has sent this link to a memoir by a latter19th/early 20th century doctor and professor. The link connects to the chapter on the Spanish-American War.

Here are the opening paragraphs:


After the sinking of the Maine in the harbor at Havana, the proclamation of war against Spain, and the call for volunteers, I was anxious to enlist; but having a wife and five children dependent upon me, I could not conscientiously do so. There was quite an outbreak of enthusiasm for enlistment among the students of the University of Michigan. President Angell was then in Constantinople as United States Ambassador to Turkey, and President Hutchins, who later became permanent President, was acting in that capacity. One day he came to me and said that the students were all astir about the war, wanted to hold a mass meeting with speeches, and might be stampeded into enlistment. He advised that the mass meeting be permitted, that representatives of the students be invited to talk, and that the older and wiser members of the Faculty pour the oil of caution upon-the troubled waters of youth. As dean of the Medical School I was asked to attend the meeting and to do my part in allaying and cooling the enthusiasm and patriotism of the students. Reluctantly I consented to do my small share in this work.

University Hall was crowded. Even the students who made speeches, for the most part at least, evidently had been selected from among those most likely to be moderate in speech. I sat on the platform and listened to talk after talk by my older and wiser colleagues. One admonished the students that their first duty was to their parents, that they should not enlist without consulting them, and that they had parents distributed from the Atlantic to the Pacific. Another said that the student's first duty was to the University, that if he enlisted he interrupted his course of study, would probably not be able to regain his place in his class, and would suffer delay in graduation. A third told the students that there were enough unemployed in this country to fill the quota called for by the President, advised waiting until the unemployed had enlisted, and if it appeared that the ranks were not filled by these, enlistment by the students might be considered. I had promised President Hutchins that I would be at least moderate in my speech and I went to the meeting fully determined that I would comply with my promise. I have long known that in speaking I labor under a serious defect, but I had no realization until that night of the extent to which this defect dominates and determines my actions. Whatever I may intend to say, when I am to make a speech, when I actually begin to talk, I always give expression to my convictions. Many a time I have gone before an audience intending by my words to palliate and to compromise, but after I begin to talk I have always been led by my convictions rather than by my intentions. At the mass meeting I was called upon to follow the colleague who had spoken of filling the ranks with the unemployed. This drove me into a mental frenzy, and standing before the audience, I said: "God pity the country whose tramps must fight its battles; it is true that you are here to acquire an education with the purpose of fitting yourself for the work of life; but I would rather see these walls crumble into dust than to see you hesitate to go when your country calls. You have duties towards your parents, but your first duty is to serve your country." Along this line I rushed on in a verbal flood until my time limit was reached.

The next afternoon Governor Pingree, in his office at Lansing, called me by telephone, informed me that he had read my speech, had signed my commission, and that I would report for duty at Camp Alger, Virginia, without delay. Some enlist because they like the soldier's life, some for patriotic reasons, but I received my commission at the outbreak of the Spanish-American War because I talked too much.

An economic downturn like we are experiencing currently is not all negative. Here are three positives

(1)Housing Prices are down and housing sales have slowed. This is bad news if you are a seller, and perhaps devastating news if you are a speculator (unless more tax-payer bailouts* occur); it is not bad news for every one. If you are a first-time buyer, perhaps a young newly married couple, then that house just got more affordable.
*Strictly speaking there is no such thing as a "government bailout." The government has no money. A "government bailout" means the government has decided to use our money to bailout someone.

(2)The Stock Market is down. Bad news if you are retired and depending on investment income, or near anticipated retirement; it is not necessarily bad news if you are younger. The Stock Market decline means that stock is now more affordable. In other words your dollar goes farther on Wall Street. If you are 35 and beginning a savings program, for example, you now can afford more stock each month that may repay you well in the future.

(3)Gas prices are high. This hurts everyone except the wealthy, directly at the pump and indirectly through increases in the price of everything. But, there is a silver lining. Maybe, just maybe, our country will get serious about energy independence, increasing our national security. And, maybe, just maybe, we will improve environmental quality by moving away from internal combustion engines.
Category: Politics
Posted by: an okie gardener
Blackfive compares the two from the perspective of martial virtues.