You are currently viewing archive for August 2008
Category: Politics
Posted by: A Waco Farmer
There's talk on the street; it sounds so familiar
Great expectations, everybody's watching you
People you meet, they all seem to know you
Even your old friends treat you like you're something new

Remember that fellow Barack Obama? He was the young man with the winning smile who could do no wrong. The nice boy who was all the rage for a while. What ever happened to him?

Seriously, when the McCain campaign called Obama the "biggest celebrity in the world," they had it exactly right. The assertion: the Obama boom has had much more in common with the career arc of Britney Spears than Abraham Lincoln. The mainstream prObama press, so desperate for McCain to go negative, pounced on the fairly innocuous but absolutely penetrating assessment with enthusiasm. Team McCain was right to suspect that the hubris of the Obama campaign (movement) would not brook such blasphemous drivel. The Obama nation took the bait with gusto. Dirty campaigning! Karl Rove! Lee Atwater! Alex Castellanos! How dare you compare our Redeemer to a Messiah! How dare you compare our Deliverer to a cinematic Moses! And, for the first time in this campaign, the McCain needle moved a bit. The truth (albeit said in jest--but finally said) resonated.

Next Phase: how do you combat the star power of Paris Hilton? Invite Lindsey Lohan and her lesbian girlfriend to your party.

What is the genius of the Sarah Palin pick?

1. She is a new even more outlandish storyline for the celebrity-driven mainstream media. Somebody told me that Barack Obama made a speech a while back and drew a pretty good crowd. I vaguely remember that--but last Thursday seems like a month ago. Did you know that Sarah Palin earned her nickname, "Baracuda," as the point guard for her state championship high school girls basketball team? Was that before or after she was a runner up in the Miss Alaska pageant? Her husband seems dreamy. I wonder what he is really like?

You're walking away and they're talking behind you
They will never forget you 'til somebody new comes along

Advantage McCain. Of course, a big difference in Obama and Palin is that the mainstream prObama press will not be nearly as friendly to this new star bursting onto the scene. Sarah Palin will need to watch her back and carefully think out every move she makes. One misstep and this campaign is over. Talk about pressure. If she can walk this tightrope, she is more than up to handling the pressure of executive responsibility. However, as long as it lasts, Obama's star is diminished somewhat.

2. McCain has tricked the Obama boosters into making experience the central issue of this campaign. This woman, Sarah Palin, is not ready to lead on day one. Hmmm. This woman, Sarah Palin, is not ready for a three a.m. phone call. Really? The attack on the inexperienced veep candidate from the inexperienced presidential campaign seems tantamount to sacrificing your queen for the other fellow's bishop.

Message to Democrats: she's rubber and you're glue. Anything you say bounces off her and sticks to you.

3. She has a chance to become America's sweetheart. I said earlier she is Mrs. Smith Goes to Washington, but she may also be Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm--Mary Pickford. The righteous woman gone to Babylon, taking on the powerful and the underhanded and the dastardly, and finding a way to triumph in the end. It's a compelling narrative. Will it take hold? Hard to say. To repeat, she is not going to have a friendly mainstream media to "boom" her story--but, if all the stars align just right, it might just catch on anyhow.

But, until a negative consensus actually forms in the mind of the American people organically, the Palin persecutors snipe at her at their own peril. There is bound to be a lot of ugliness directed her way. How cruel it is, and how well she handles it (she needs to be tough but not shrill to be truly sympathetic), will go a long way in determining who we decide she really is.

Category: Politics
Posted by: A Waco Farmer
I don't know how tall Sarah Palin actually stands. I am guessing she is no giant, as she played point guard on her small-school high school girls basketball team--they called her "Baracuda." She is certainly not plain, at least not in the sense one means when we describe a woman with that word. To the contrary, Sarah Palin is the most strikingly comely vice presidential candidate in American political history.

An Aside: as much as this pick is designed to attract (and revivify) national security moms, I am convinced Governor Palin is also aimed at men from forty-two to ninety-five, who like to sneak a peak at Desperate Housewives every once in awhile--regardless of the less-than-plausible plot lines. I am guessing that Sarah Palin grew up watching Jill and Kris Monroe, Kelly Garrett, and Sabrina Duncan kicking and judo-chopping their way through a slew of bad men and evil-doers. She was not alone. There is a whole generation of us out there who like our women smart, beautiful, and ultra-capable.

Sarah Palin looks very comfortable in her fatigues squeezing off rounds in the desert. She strikes us as both tough as nails and soft to the touch as she shepherds her five kids onto center stage. Moreover, she grabs the microphone with the confidence and poise of a beauty queen who knows one important secret: she has been successful at everything she has ever attempted.

John McCain hopes fervently that his pick will stand tall and strong in the face of the upcoming media barrage--and he certainly hopes that beyond her good looks, her "regular Jane" story will resonate with plain folks.

My thoughts on the news?

Ambivalence. Quite frankly, my head is spinning.

On one hand, a really weird campaign took a dramatic turn toward ridiculous.

When I close my eyes and ponder Sarah Palin as the veep, my stomach hurts.

When I watch her and listen to her, my spirits rally.

What is wrong with Palin?

By some reckoning, the wise old statesman, John McCain, just burned his most meaningful trump card: EXPERIENCE. The conventional thinking called for McCain to paint his opponent as a forty-seven year-old, wet-behind-the-ears, half-term senator, far too naive to fully grasp the intricacies inherent in leading the most vital nation on the planet through a complicated swamp of pitfalls in an extremely dangerous world. McCain gave that up yesterday. Why? Not because it was not true (that line of argument was fairly accurate). No, McCain tossed EXPERIENCE because it was likely NOT compelling to a majority of Americans. Why give away this issue? Ask non-nominee Hillary Clinton? As Mark Shields said yesterday on the Newshour, John McCain was on a path to garner 45 percent of the vote.

In that sense, giving away the EXPERIENCE issue was probably a smart (even necessary) strategic choice. But, unfortunately, John McCain went even further when he tapped a forty-four year-old, half-term governor from a fairly insignificant electoral state (whose first and only prior job in politics was mayor of a small suburban town) to run as his second chair.

The Danger? If America elects John McCain, this woman, Sarah Palin, will be one heartbeat away from the presidency and be in charge of leading the most vital nation on the planet through a complicated swamp of pitfalls in an extremely dangerous world. McCain is a seventy-two year-old, weathered and shopworn, former POW, "cancer-survivor" (as all the Democratic pundits and spokespersons keep reminding us). Was this a responsible choice?

Is she ready?

Is she ready to be president? Is she ready for the next sixty-eight days? Is she ready to trade jabs with these lethal and seasoned heavyweight contenders in the most intense and punishing political prize fight around? Or, to switch sports metaphors, did John McCain really just call up a promising minor leaguer to pitch the first game of the World Series?

Is she ready? It is hard to imagine how she could be--but we will see.

What is right with Sarah Palin?

She is a woman. My initial thought on this gambit: Too Gimmicky. Come on. No one is going to fall for this. The shout-out to Geraldine Ferraro and Hillary Clinton. The chastisement of the good old boy network. The reference to women's suffrage. Doesn't this play way too manipulative and obvious?

All the talking heads are quick to point out that she is not an old school feminist. She is pro life. She is an evangelical. She is a movement conservative. Was anybody really expecting that the disaffected Hillary gals were really going to vote for this Bobby Jindal in a skirt?

By the way, she really does shore up the conservative base--but in a completely unorthodox way. Albeit breathtakingly brief, she possesses an actual track record as a conservative reformer, taking on the Republican establishment and thrilling hardcore conservatives simultaneously.

Why might women identify with her? The same reason many men will.

She is a no-nonsense fresh face. She radiates sincerity and authenticity. She exudes real personhood. She really is (no joke, no spin, no Hollywood magic) one of us. Although she takes away the EXPERIENCE card, she actually reaffirms McCain's true ace in the hole: his reputation as a maverick--which translated into the language of the common American means: "we think he is an honest man."

We know nothing about her--but at first blush, she strikes us as an honest woman.

At first blush, she is Mrs. Smith Goes to Washington.

Of course, making a good first impression is only the beginning. We shall see what we think of her on second thought. No doubt, this was a "Hail Mary," as some pundits have described it. It was a low percentage play with the clock winding down. But, every once in a while, a Roger Staubauch rears back in the gloom of a Metropolitan Stadium and throws a rainbow into the end zone and a Drew Pearson stands under the football and catches it on his hip.

And the crowd goes wild.

Category: American Culture
Posted by: an okie gardener
From MSN, the Woodward Dream Cruise.
One of the blessings of a Federal governing system, as opposed to a Unitary governing system, is the 50 Experiments at Once.

Each state is working on its own problems, responsibilities, and challenges. So we have Fifty groups of smart (I hope) and dedicated public servants trying out solutions to various issues. Two heads are better than one, and 50 better yet.

Of course, many of the problems are similar, such as roads.

My home state of Missouri has had a good road system as long as I remember. And it is getting better, with efficient use of its money. Now, it can provide a model that some other states may want to imitate.

Do you really think that a single group of Federal officials in Washington can come up with as many good ideas as fifty groups, one in each state?

Viva Federalism.
Category: Frivolity
Posted by: an okie gardener
If you need an antidote after watching too much Democratic National Convention, check out the satire on the posting The Semichrist's Anthem on Infidel Bloggers Alliance.
Today is the anniversary of the Wymondham Rebellion, another in the long line of acts of resistance to unjust power that form the backbone of British Liberty. We are their heirs. Our founders understood themselves to be defending their rights as Englishmen.

From the Revolutionaries through the reformers, union organizers, populists, civil rights activists, and ordinary citizens who challenged injustice, on our side of the Atlantic we have a rich heritage of men and women determined to--in the words of the New Hampshire state motto--Live Free or Die.

How sad that Britain today has devolved into a people ruled by bureacrats, and who are being handed over by their elites to Brussels bureacrats.

This fall, let's pay attention to politics here at home.
Category: Politics
Posted by: an okie gardener
An ABC new producer is arrested in front of a hotel while his crew was trying to photograph big-money lobbyists meeting with Democrat officials. The arrest guarantees air time linking big-money lobbyists to Democrats. It also reinforces the theme of liberal leftist fascism.

Must have been secret Rove mind manipulation.

Better yet, there is video.
Great article on a, perhaps the, root cause of Mainline demise: the end of the search for objective meaning in Scripture.

When the reader's feelings and experience become the primary bases for understanding, then Scripture becomes secondary.

27/08: Great Speech

Category: Politics
Posted by: A Waco Farmer
In brief:

Hillary did as much as anyone could have expected--and much, much more.

Will it turn the tide of battle in favor of Obama?

This is impossible to say.

I had an idea last week. What if Obama had come into the convention and asked the delegates to pick his vice president? Think of the symbolism. A massive dose of energizing democracy in the Democratic Party. Of course, the convocation would have chosen Hill—and the hearts of the faithful would have soared.

Thinking about last night, you can just imagine the tidal wave of emotion that would have swept the hall with the ascension of Mrs. Clinton. Now that would have produced a bounce.

But that is not what happened, and there is nothing more irrelevant that counter-factual history.

It is Biden.

The good news for Hillary: she took the mound in a tough spot, threw hard (squelching a dangerous rally for the other team), and proved herself a team player. If Obama wins we will look back at last night as a turning point. If Obama loses, the defeat will rest squarely on his shoulders.
This morning I listened for a while to Mark Davis on the radio He is broadcasting his talk show live from the Democratic Convention in Denver. One of his on-air guests today was Faye Wattleton, former head of Planned Parenthood and currently at something called the Center for the Advancement of Women.

In the interview she described her emotional experience of stepping into the booth to vote in the New York Democratic primary and having a choice between a black man and a white woman. She said that she felt elated and awed to be part of this historic moment, and she spoke highly of our country and its progress in rights.

Then she made this statement. And I am paraphrasing: as a black person part of my identity pulled toward voting for Obama; but my "gender-identity" (her term) was stronger and I voted for Hillary.

Mark Davis, a great talk-show host, let this statement pass because he was charging ahead into a discussion/debate of abortion.

I think this woman put into words the process by which many liberals make their voting choice: identity politics. They vote for the candidate that speaks to, or shares, their personal identity of gender or race or sexual preference or whatever. Not positions rationally considered. Not the common good. Not answers to the issues facing the nation. But identity.

I realize this manner of vote decision is not new. Many of Andrew Jackson's supporters voted for a fellow frontiersman, Southerner, self-made man, masculine man. Either their identity or their wished-for identity.

But, making voting decisions in terms of "identity" is a dangerous practice. You can wind up voting for an incompetent who shares your race or sex or class.
Category: Politics
Posted by: an okie gardener
Story here with links.
Does Obama meet the Constitutional requirements for president? There is enough evidence to ask the question.
Category: Politics
Posted by: A Waco Farmer
Quoth Me: If Biden gets the nod, I promise to eat my hat (as I jump for joy).

I really don't have many hats, so I will settle for a little crow.

First of all, I like Joe Biden more than most of my friends and conservative compatriots.

I have written:

I am guessing that most of our reading community does not understand my admiration for Joe Biden. You see the grandstanding, bloviating, self-absorbed senator always mugging for the cameras. I see that Joe Biden too, of course. But I also see the Joe Biden who is talented, diligent, and dedicated to good government. I admire the America-loving public official who has spent almost his entire career learning foreign policy and the judiciary in order to be a constructive element of the solution. He is, in fact, quite good at and what he does, and he oftentimes offers incredibly astute analysis on the topics to which he had dedicated his life.

After the Democratic midterm election victory, I placed great hope in him to act as a voice of moderation in a volatile political atmosphere (hopes he quickly dashed--which I wrote about back in January of 2007):

My sincere wish was that the Senator would choose statesmanship over grandstanding. There are two Bidens. Most of us are familiar with the blowhard-Biden of the judiciary committee, spewing gibberish and comically attempting to match wits with great legal minds. But there is another Biden. A thoughtful, pragmatic and experienced Senator who loves his country more than himself.

I was hoping for the statesman Biden--but got the clown. The demagoguery above also serves as his unequivocal signal that he seeks the Democratic Party's nomination for president in 2008. Only Joe Biden with a bad case of Potomac Fever would be addled enough to display this degree of wanton foolishness.

Under Present Circumstances, do I still think Biden is a bad move for Obama? Yes. Although I say so with a large dose of humility. Team Obama has had most of this right thus far. Based on past performance, their accuracy quotient is much higher than mine. Having said that, why do I continue to think this is a mistake?

1. Obama missed a chance to improve his fortunes in an important electoral state (Virginia, New Mexico, Indiana, to name only the most obvious). Congratulations, Mr. Obama and Mr. Biden. You are now assured of Delaware's three electoral votes. In that regard, it is the smartest choice since George W. Bush grasped Wyoming's three electoral votes with the selection of Dick Cheney.

Obama left a lot on the table. No matter how effective Biden might prove to be, Republicans are breathing a sigh of relief this morning. There were some choices out there that would have created gigantic strategic problems. This one does not.

2. Biden has a big mouth and (thus far in his life) an uncontrollable ego. Biden talks a lot, and he has a penchant for injudicious statements. Back in February of 2007, I wrote repeatedly in his defense concerning his controversial comments regarding the then-insurgent candidate, Barack Obama.

Remember this statement:

"I mean, you got the first mainstream African-American who is articulate and bright and clean and a nice-looking guy. I mean, that's a storybook, man."

He was essentially right--but do you recall the outrage? At the very least, considering the target audience to which he was appealing, Biden's comments were foolishly chosen.

Why haven't we seen more Joe Biden dust-ups over the years? For the simple reason that no one really pays him much attention. Not so anymore. From now until 4 November, the world will be following him around and scrutinizing his every word. Not good for Camp Obama. Sure, the mainstream PrObama press will give him a pass whenever possible, but the conservative media will push and press every chance they get. My guess is that Biden will give them plenty of chances. These guys are likely to be putting out fires almost continually.

3. For all of Biden's faults, ironically, his positive attributes are likely to overshadow the primary candidate. The lesson of 1988 was that a VP nominee should not make the top guy look small by comparison. Remember the undercurrent that eventually dominated the 1988 landscape: why isn't Lloyd Bentsen (the distinguished and seasoned Texas senator) at the top of this ticket? Michael Dukakis (the man in the tank with the funny hat) grew less presidential with every appearance of the stolid but steady Bentsen.

Will this happen for Obama-Biden? Maybe.

4. We will read this odd move as an admission that Obama is deficient in foreign policy.

Why Biden? Because the Democratic Party wise men, in a minor panic over the late instability in Eastern Europe, now wonder if recent events make the experienced Republican warrior infinitely more attractive. What if American voters come to a late-breaking realization that we really do live in a dangerous world? While the foreign policy of "come on, y'all, can't we just all get along?" seemed bold and innovative in the snows of Iowa and New Hampshire, we have slept since then. We have wondered about "Three AM Phone Calls." What if there really are bad actors on the world stage who will not bend to the eloquent rhetoric of an Ivy League intellectual? What if nations really do pursue their own interests irrespective to the goals of greater humanity?

Joe Biden is an answer to those questions. Joe is old school. Joe knows.

But Americans don't vote for vice presidents. If those questions really need an answer, John McCain is it. The Obama brain trust would have been wiser to roll past those questions as if they did not matter. By admitting that foreign policy is relevant, Obama cedes this newly important field to his opponent.
There is an idea popular with liberal Westerners regarding the potential of an Islamic Reformation. According to the all-seeing wiki, this Reformation would bring Islam up to speed with the rest of the world (or Europe) - Islam would become a liberal, modernist, humanist religion. The unofficial spokesman of this Reformation is Salman Rushdie, although several "Progressive Islam" movements are sometimes associated with the idea of reform within Islam.

I would say that this comparison to the Reformation is mis-applied. The Islamic Reformation is already underway, in the form of an IslamIST Reformation. While the analogy to the Protestant Reformation is of limited utility, since it is already in use it should at least be corrected.

The Islamists as Reformers

Driven, ambitious men of a religious bent are dissatisfied with the present state of their chosen religion. The see corruption in their temporal and spiritual leaders and indifference on the part of their co-religionists. They see the changes in theology from the founding of the religion to the present day, and mark these as unauthorized, un-Godly innovations. They urge a return to the sole legitimate religious Scripture. Religion should guide all aspects of personal and public life, in their view. To that end, they establish organizations, and issue proclamations of the characteristics of "true" religion. They are viewed by some as having no "authority" to issue such proclamations, but to their supporters, these statements are often viewed as law.

Who was just described? Martin Luther and John Calvin, or Hassan al-Banna and Sayyid Qutb?

The differences

1. There is no Catholic Church and single orthodoxy to reform.
In the Islamist movement, it is the temporal leaders and outside forces who are primarily to blame for the current state of the religion, rather than the religious leaders. These Islamic religious leaders, the scholars of law and theology, are not held as the answer, however. To the Islamists, in general, the state should remain the dispenser of law, which it has become in the Sunni Islamic world in the past 100 years. The movement is thus a reform, not a return to the "classical" Islamic state. The state would remain, but with the Islamists in charge, using an Islamic worldview to dispense justice, with possible advising by the scholars. (See Noah Feldman, "The Fall and Rise of the Islamic State")

2. The direction of violence.
I would almost say that the Islamists have jumped the gun and declared jihad before their chickens were hatched, to keep mixing metaphors. Serious attempts were made at the internal reforms, in Egypt, Palestine, Algeria, Sudan, and Syria; these met with mixed success, mostly failures. Before these reforms took hold, however, branches of the Islamists declared a wider, global fight against their oppressors, the West. Now the very governments which the Islamists initially sought to reform have the world superpower allied against them. The chances for Islamists to take control of the government in Egypt, for example, are much lower now than 10 years ago.

3. Democracy.
This may be the Islamist's best chance, due in part to the Bush administration's hand-tying policies. The U.S. is not only protecting its interests and seeking retribution for the September 11 attacks, it is seeking to promote democracy worldwide. The problem here is that the power of the U.S. is so great, the corruption of governments in most Islamic countries so complete, that the most inspirational option available to the majority of Muslims is the Islamist movement. If the Islamists are able to be elected into office, the U.S. would be unable to deny their legitimacy.

So...Where to?

The Islamic Reformation, as listed by wikipedia, doesn't stand a chance. Liberal Muslims can, if they want, live in a secular, western society, taking refuge in multiculuralism and giving their Islamic roots a token nod. Simply put, there is no impetus to fight for a Reform.
The Islamists, the real Reformers, have that impetus. They live in majority Muslim countries, have deep and abiding faith and ties to their religion, and are pissed off. The character of their Reformation is different than the Protestant Reformation, but it may well change the world in an equally significant way.
The Chinese government is putting on a clean, bright, smiling face for the world in Beijing, complete with bikini-babes cheering on beach volleyball.

But the face that reveals the dark heart of the Chinese government is seen in its treatment of protesters.

China shoots Tibetans dead.

Somebody tell me again. Why do we buy from these murdering bastards?
Category: Politics
Posted by: A Waco Farmer

How many houses do you own? Most Americans could answer that question quite easily.

But John McCain couldn't remember yesterday when asked by reporters. It's actually kind of ridiculous. He paused and said, "I think—I'll have my staff get to you." (The correct answer? At least seven.)

This could be an election-defining moment—it's a reminder of just how out of touch John McCain is with the lives of regular Americans. We need to make sure every voter hears about it.

All the networks are gleefully reporting this new line of attack. Is it a "defining" moment? Maybe. Elections are funny things. This thrust is undoubtedly going to enjoy the full support of the prObama mainstream media.

But what's the point, really? Are we now not allowing rich guys to be president?

How many houses does John Kerry have? How many houses does the Kennedy family own? How many houses does Al Gore own? How many houses did FDR own?

Less than seven? More than seven?

Nearly thirty years ago, John McCain married a beautiful young woman from a rich family. Does Barack "I'll take the high road" Obama really think that fact is an election-defining moment?

You never know how these things are going to play--but my guess is that most people will see this desperation shot as embarrassing (to Obama). My second prediction: no one in the mainstream media will see the attack as anything less than legitimate. And that's the way it is.

21/08: A Good Thing

Category: American Glory
Posted by: an okie gardener
A friend sent me this link to a beautiful story. Virtue, compassion, goodness.

If you have a reputation as a tough guy to maintain, you may want to be alone when you watch this.
Category: National Security
Posted by: an okie gardener
According to the Denver Post, the coronor has ruled that the man found dead in that Denver hotel room, Saleman Abdirahman Dirie, committed suicide using cyanide.

Story here.

Here is the dubious statement:

Police have said Dirie's death was an isolated incident and unconnected with the upcoming Democratic convention.

Boy does this statement not pass the smell test. Someone(s) is blowing it out the wrong orifice.

1. It is way too early even for an intense investigation to make such a determination. The FBI, even with its immense resouces, cannot in a matter of days definitively rule out conspiracy and possible connections to the Democratic Convention

2. By the accounts previously published, Dirie did not have the money either to buy a pound of sodium cyanide, or stay at a luxury hotel. Where did he get the money?

3. Is it pure happenstance that the man found dead, with cyanide, in the city hosting the Democratic Party convention, was Muslim?

4. Why would this man from Somalia, residing in Canada, go to Denver rather that some other city, perhaps Detroit? What was the attraction of Denver in August?

5. If suicide was intended by Dirie all along, why so much cyanide, in Denver, in August?

(Thanks to the Washington Post for linking to my previous post.)
Category: Politics
Posted by: A Waco Farmer
Why will Barack Obama offer the veep to Virginia governor, Tim Kaine?

Because it is the smartest play, and Team Obama always makes the smartest play.

Right now, Republicans all over the globe are praying earnestly that Candidate Obama will choose Joe Biden as his running mate. Why? Biden is a gaffe-prone bloviator and a thirty-year Washington insider.

But it gets even worse than that.

If Obama chooses Biden, we will read the move as an admission that he is deficient in foreign policy.

Why is Biden suddenly viable? Because the Democratic Party wise men, in a minor panic, seem suddenly mindful that a late-breaking realization among the American voting public that we live in a dangerous world might make the experienced Republican warrior infinitely more attractive.

What to do?

Put Joe Biden on the ticket.

Wrong Move! Why?

1. Americans do not care about foreign policy, actually. No one is talking about Russia and Georgia. Bringing attention to specific international challenges does not help Obama--rather, it damages him. He needs to keep it simple on foreign affairs. "Bush is bad. Bush gets us into bad wars. McCain is even worse."

2. No one outside of political junkies have ever heard of Joe Biden. Even if a veep could help you on foreign policy, Joe BIden is not Colin Powell (from ten years ago) or Sam Nunn (from fifteen years ago) or Henry Jackson (from thirty years ago). Biden is not an impact player. He is famous inside the Beltway, but a near compete unknown to the vast majority of Americans.

An Aside: Sam Nunn today is not Sam Nunn from fifteen years ago either.

3. Biden has a big mouth and an uncontrollable ego.

If Biden gets the nod, I promise to eat my hat (as I jump for joy). Joe Biden is more likely a "secretary of state in waiting" during this campaign.

Why Tim Kaine?

He is young, dynamic, from outside of Washington, a sitting governor, and he might be able to deliver his home state of Virginia.

Even if Republicans held on to VA, they would need to divert copious amounts of campaign cash to hold VA. Tim Kaine is a Republican strategists nightmare. GOP insiders all over America have their hands clasped together, every head bowed, every eye closed, fervently praying: "please, Lord; not Tim Kaine."
But not terrorism, said the FBI, before it possibly could have known.

The Denver Post continues investigating the death of a Somali Muslim from cyanide poisoning. The man was found dead with a pound of cyanide.

A Minnesota-based legal advocacy center for Somalis is assembling a troubling, curious background of a man found dead in a Denver luxury hotel Monday near a pound of deadly cyanide.

"He was psychotic; he was on medication," said Omar Jamal, executive director of the Somali Justice Advocacy Center, which has talked to dozens of people who knew Saleman Abdirahman Dirie, a 29-year-old Canadian citizen and former Somali refugee.

Dirie's journey to the U.S. and his stay in an expensive hotel does not fit the profile of his humble, somewhat reclusive life, Jamal said Thursday.

"People who knew him are shocked," Jamal said. "He was unemployed; he had no money. Whoever gave him the money for that hotel may have also given him the cyanide.

We need to find that person."

An unemployed person in "an expensive hotel" with enough poison to kill hundreds of people in the city that will host the Democratic Party convention.
And the unemployed person is a Somali Muslim. Alarm bells should be going off loudly.

Infidel Bloggers Alliance has a photo of the hotel.

Category: American Culture
Posted by: an okie gardener
While I am not primarily a rock fan: I lean toward jazz, folk, traditional, and world music, I did and do enjoy what we called in the long-ago 1970s Progressive Rock.

Definitions of 'progressive rock'
WordNet- (1 definition)

a style of rock music that emerged in the 1970s: associated with attempts to combine rock with jazz and other forms
art rock

Progressive Rock Encyclopedia.

Much Progressive Rock involved "Concept Albums" that worked with a theme or told a story unusual by rock standards. For example, Billy Thorpe's classic cut "Children of the Sun."

Rick Wakeman recorded some of the great concept albums of the 70s: The Six Wives of Henry VIII (1973), Journey to the Centre of the Earth (1974), The Myths & Legends of King Arthur & the Knights of the Round Table (1975).

Merlin the Magician

The Last Battle

One of my favorites, Todd Rundgren Utopia, part 1 and part 2.

And Rush, which may have the only rock song ever made that explicitly enters the Free Will v Determinism debate.

Free Will
RUSH - Lyrics by Neil Peart "Permanent Waves" Copyright 1980 Mercury/Polygram

There are those who think that life has nothing left to chance,
A host of holy horrors to direct our aimless dance.

A planet of playthings,
We dance on the strings
Of powers we cannot perceive
"The stars aren't aligned -
Or the gods are malign"
Blame is better to give than receive.

You can choose a ready guide in some celestial voice.
If you choose not to decide, you still have made a choice.
You can choose from phantom fears and kindness that can kill;
I will choose a path that's clear-
I will choose Free Will.

There are those who think that they were dealt a losing hand,
The cards were stacked against them - they weren't born in Lotus-Land.

All preordained-
A prisoner in chains-
A victim of venomous fate.
Kicked in the face,
You can't pray for a place
In Heaven's unearthly estate.

You can choose a ready guide in some celestial voice.
If you choose not to decide, you still have made a choice.
You can choose from phantom fears and kindness that can kill;
I will choose a path that's clear-
I will choose Free Will.

Each of us-
A cell of awareness-
Imperfect and incomplete.
Genetic blends
With uncertain ends
On a fortune hunt that's far too fleet.

This morning I had to fast before a blood test. What with one thing and another, most of them because it was the first day of classes at Cameron University, I walked into a WHATABURGER at 11:05 finally to get something to eat. What I really wanted was breakfast, but knew I was past time since the sign behind the counter read Breakfast served till 11 am. Angling for some mercy, I said to the young woman who waited on me, "I guess I've missed breakfast, haven't I." She looked to her right at the clock and told me nicely that it was after 11. Then the other young woman at the counter said to wait a minute, she'd check to see if anything was left. Going to the warming trays she pulled one open and hollered over that there was some sausage and bacon left, and a few biscuits. End result, I had a sausage and egg biscuit, and a bacon and egg biscuit. (One of my blood labs was for cholesterol. I observe these regular draws by treating myself to some animal grease afterwards.) I left the WHATABURGER on Cache Road in Lawton, Oklahoma a full and happy customer.

Twice in the past year I have tried to get breakfast at McDonalds and failed in the attempt. Once, in Lawton, it was a few minutes after 11. No dice. Another time, it was about 10:55 by my cell phone, but the drive-through speaker of the McDonalds on I-44 near Chickashee told me breakfast was over. I did not leave either one a full and happy customer. I would bet money that at least one of these stores had some breakfast items left. But, no effort was made to please me, the customer. In both cases the words and attitude of those who waited on me conveyed apathy.

Customer service. I am sure that both businesses in the highly competative fast-food industry tell their employees to treat the customer well, but, to different results. Why? I don't really know.

Some people get it, that it is my money as a customer that pays their wage. Others don't. Last time I was in Sears to buy a pair of pants the young woman behind the sales counter invested no real attention on our transaction. Her actions and words were minimal. Her body language mumbled "I'm bored." Even though I got the pants I needed, the experience dissatisfied me.

How do businesses create good customer service? I really don't know. But many need to figure it out.
Category: American Glory
Posted by: an okie gardener
From the First Battle of Fallujah. Story from the Rott.

Operation Al Fajr, the final battle of Fallujah, is well known. Lesser known is that seven months before the Marines had fought the insurgents to a bloody stalemate in the city in what has been called the First Battle of Fallujah. In March and April of 2004, 2nd Bn. 1st Marines, among others, fought bloody block to block battles in the Jolan district, pushing the growing numbers of insurgents away from the city outskirts. Eventually the Marines were held back while local Iraqis attempted a negotiated settlement, but not before some of the fiercest fighting to date in the Iraqi theater.

Major Doug Zembiec, then a Captain, led Echo Company 2/1 during the heavy fighting of March and April, but the culmination was a ferocious fight on April 26. On that day, Capt. Zembiec became a hero leading a company full of them.

Starting as a normal day, the company had just cleared a mosque from which it had earlier received fire when the enemy launched a coordinated assault that would last three hours. One Marine was killed and 10 others wounded in the initial fusillade and the Marines were hit with barrages of machine gun and RPG fire as waves of between 100 and 150 insurgents charged them. The engagement range was at times less than 25 yards.

Read the whole story.
Smithsonian Folkways records all kinds of music, in all kinds of places. My favorite recordings are Appalachian, recording equipment taken up into the hills, and the Old Time music recorded around dining tables and on front porches. But I also like the recordings from the Delta. Blues sung as an expression of living.

A lot of other music is available on Smithsonian Folkways. An American treasure.

Play some samples from these recordings below.

Ballads and Songs of the Blue Ridge Mountains: Persistence and Change
Various Artists

37th Old Time Fiddler's Convention at Union Grove North Carolina
Various Artists

Old Regular Baptists: Lined-Out Hymnody from Southeastern Kentucky
Indian Bottom Association

Classic Blues from Smithsonian Folkways
Various artists

This collection includes the full verson of Oh, Death made popular by the movie Oh Brother, Where Art Thou? The old version is longer, and much bleaker than what you heard in the movie. Classic Mountain Songs from Smithsonian Folkways
Various Artists
Clear-headed thinking by Ralph Peters on Russia's conquest of Georgia, and on Vladimir Putin. Essay here. From the New York Post.
Seven years after 9/11 and Saudi Arabia remains the largest exporter of hatred against the West. No wonder when we examine Saudi textbooks.

What a miserable excuse for a country. And what an illuminating example of what hard-core Arab Islam produces.

Story here.
Category: Politics
Posted by: A Waco Farmer
From Eugene Robinson's column in the Washington Post:

Here come the goons, right on schedule.

The "author," and I use the term loosely, whose vicious lies damaged John Kerry's 2004 presidential campaign has crawled back out from under his rock to spew vicious lies about Barack Obama. Right-wing radio talk-show hosts are dutifully transmitting this concocted venom. This presidential campaign has officially gotten ugly.

Mr. Robinson finds himself livid at the prospect of right-wing hoodlums coarsening the political discourse in America and, presumably, contributing to the decline of civility in campaign polemics.

Of course, along the way Robinson describes Jerome Corsi, author of the 2004 attack on John Kerry, Unfit to Command, and the recently published Obama Nation, as a "paranoid and delusional" right-wing blogger, anti-Catholic, anti-Muslim, cog in the "right-wing smear machine."

So much for measured tones.

If Mr. Robinson's point was that we should be more judicious in the way we talk to one another, the lesson seems lost somehow in translation. Actually, the thrust of the Robinson piece is clear: lay off my anointed candidate, Barack "say his middle name and you're a racist" Obama.

Granted, Eugene Robinson is not the most incisive thinker of his generation--but his breathless screed against screeds is actually fairly emblematic of the recent spate of angry rejoinders from the prObama political pundits.

The general refrain against Corsi is Al Franken-esque: "lies and the lying liar who tells them."

I do not write in defense of Jerome Corsi. I do not know Jerome Corsi. I have never read a book by Jerome Corsi (nor do I intend to start with this one). However, I keep reading these articles asserting that Corsi traffics in inaccuracies and innuendos, waiting for the specifics--but, ironically, they never seem to arrive.

Beneath all the sound and fury, Robinson (like many others I have read) objects to two main Obama Nation assertions.

Robinson (1):

Corsi's new volume of vitriol...seeks to smear Obama as a "leftist" and add fuel to the false and discredited rumor that he is secretly a radical Muslim, or at least has "extensive connections to Islam."

Note: I am not counting "leftist." Robinson throws that label (in quotes) out there and abandons it as a line of argument. defines leftist as "a member of the political Left or a person sympathetic to its views." Sure, at one time, "leftist" clearly meant socialist. On the other hand, I am not sure that under the evolving definition of leftist, even Obama would disagree with the characterization.

If Corsi actually accuses Obama of being "secretly a radical Muslim," I cannot find that phrase in any of the articles taking him to task. The closest construction seems to be the line Robinson quotes: "extensive connections to Islam."

Barack Obama was born Muslim (to a Muslim father). He briefly attended an Islamic school as a youth. He then tried desperately to find himself within the context of his African-Muslim family.

Technically speaking, those connections to Islam are arguably quite extensive.

Does that mean Obama is a Muslim Manchurian Candidate? I personally am convinced that he is not. I am personally 100 percent convinced that Barack Obama came to Christ and is a practicing Christian, just as he claims to be.

However, does that mean his "extensive connections to Islam" are off limits to voters, reporters, and political opponents? That sounds pretty restrictive.

Robinson (2):

Corsi repeats the charge, thoroughly disproved, that Obama was in church for one of the Rev. Jeremiah Wright's most incendiary sermons.

Thoroughly disproved by whom? But, more importantly, so what? Obama worshipped at Trinity under the pastoral care of Reverend Wright for twenty years. Implying that Obama missed the service where Wright offered some specifically egregiously offensive and somehow out of character statement strains our credulity. Is Robinson really positing that Obama was somehow ignorant of the real Jeremiah Wright?

This line of argument is much more disingenuous than the "insinuations" to which Robinson objects.

I can find the calumny and the overheated righteous indignation in these condemnations of Corsi, but where are the purported lies?
Category: National Security
Posted by: an okie gardener
Shouldn't this story be getting more national coverage? Link from Drudge.

The Denver coroner said Thursday a man found dead in a downtown hotel room with a pound of highly toxic sodium cyanide nearby died from cyanide poisoning.

However, the medical examiner's office could not say if 29-year-old Saleman Abdirahman Dirie, of Ottawa, Canada killed himself.

His body was found Monday inside Room 408 at The Burnsley Hotel, which is about four blocks from the state Capitol.

Denver, site of the upcoming Democratic Convention. Enough cyanide to kill hundreds of people. Saleman Abdirahman Dirie, not a common Buddhist name.

Why isn't this wall-to-wall on cable?
Jerry Falwell inherited the older fundamentalist/evangelical outlook: fight hard to save America from liberalism/modernism in all its forms. His innovations included working with Roman Catholics and Mormons in The Moral Majority, and adding military preparedness to the issues list. Today's most prominent evangelical leader, according to some, is Rick Warren of Saddleback Church in California. And his approach differs. Warren stresses global issues of compassion such as poverty and AIDS. And he advocates civility in political discourse. Both McCain and Obama are to appear on the campus of Warren's megachurch.

Article from the Los Angeles Times, link from Religion News Headlines.
Posted by: A Waco Farmer
I'll say it again: the Washington Post stands alone as our one great national newspaper, consistently demonstrating the most integrity, and consistently placing the best interest of America over ideology and/or partisanship.

Today in the Post:

If the criticism is correct [from foreign policy sophisticates and serial critics of the Bush administration who blame America for encouraging dangerous delusions of democracy in a young nation at risk], a fundamental and generations-old tenet of American foreign policy is wrong, so we should be clear about what is at stake.


There are some strange politics brewing in the United States of America this week in response to a mighty roar from the Russian bear, signaling that a long hibernation is over. Does anybody remember George F. Kennan?

The Post again:

Now we are told that Russia's invasion last weekend proves the improvidence of this policy [promoting democracy]: The United States should have helped Georgia to understand that it lies in Russia's "sphere of influence," beyond the reach of American help.

But for the United States to counsel a "realistic" acceptance of vassal status to any nation would mark a radical departure from past principles and practices.

Changing Gears. The Domestic Politics:

If Obama-Democrats admit that Russia is a threat (or that Russia was even an aggressor in this conflict), they place their 2008 political fortunes at risk. If we truly do live in a dangerous world, and there really are bad actors on the world stage, perhaps a rock-ribbed, hard-eyed, ancient anticommunist realist like John McCain might be a wiser choice for leader of the free world. This explains the massive reluctance on the Left to admit the obvious about a resurgent Russia. Very bad timing for Obama.

On the other hand, the good news for Obama--and the bad news for the world--not many voters seem to have much of an interest in this historic event.

Kudos to the small coterie of traditionally Democratic Party foreign policy wise men who are not averting their eyes this week and adopting the party line. Kudos also to the Washington Post. Their editorial today was not the best or last word on this international crisis, but, considering the long-standing Post political persuasion, it is the most astoundingly courageous.

Read in full here.
Category: National Security
Posted by: an okie gardener
On the Road Again, 6 with links to the other posts in this series.

We drove through the Nevada desert toward Hoover Dam in the evening twilight, the western sky a show worth buting a ticket for. All peaceful, the oppressive sun now below the horizon with the prospect of night breezes. The only jarring blot on the landscape the signs alongside the road telling one and all that commercial truck traffic and buses were prohibited from crossing Hoover Dam.

As we neared the dam we were forced to detour to a checkpoint alongside the road. Looking at our 98 Crown Vic loaded to the max the guard waved us on.

I was angry again. Not with the almost sick, nearly homicidal rage I was on 9/11. More of a depressive anger. Those Islamic terrorist scumbags, those s.o.b.s, those religious zealots obsessed with restoring the glory of the Caliphate, had changed our world.

After 9/11 the federal government closed the dam to truck traffic, and it remains so.

Detouring truck traffic away from Hoover Dam is perhaps a minor thing, but we cannot learn to accept it. We need to keep our focus, our fire, and remember that the war still is on.

The continued existence of Hoover Dam is one of many, many silent tributes to the leadership of George W. Bush after the World Trade Center attacks.
According to Rev. Canon George Conger of the Diocese of Central Florida the answer is "Yes." There no longer is an Anglican communion in a meaningful sense. For evidence he points to the recent Lambeth Conference in which Anglican bishops would not take communion together because of the (mostly) American actions on ordaining practicing homosexuals. Also, he points to the fact that within the Episcopal Church (Anglicanism in the U.S.) conservative priests would not be allowed to serve in a liberal diocese nor liberal priests in a conservative diocese.

The future of Episcopalianism as he sees it: litigation. Lawsuits over property as parishes and dioceses disassociate.

The cause: the belief by the Episcopal leadership that God's path forward is through recognition of same-sex orientation and practice as a blessing, and the providential role the American Church is to play by introducing to the world this new revelation. Another form of American exceptionalism.

Interview here.
Category: American Glory
Posted by: an okie gardener
For earlier posts see here.

On the way to California for our older son's wedding we visited several National Parks.

Petrified Forest National Park. Ages ago geological conditions were just right for minerals gradually to infiltrate the tissues of a forest of trees buried in the mud by a flood. Various minerals have made these fossil trees colorful, as is the Painted Desert in which they are found. The park also contains the ruins of an ancient pueblo and petraglyphs (symbols carved into stone). Worth a stop.

On the darker side, each year visitors walk away with pounds and pounds of petrified wood, even though it is illegal. Way to watch out for our grandchildren you knuckleheads.

The Grand Canyon National Park. The Canyon will not disappoint. It is as big as you expect, and even more awesome. About a mile deep and in places eighteen miles wide. A site so big that it takes stopping several times, and just looking for fifteen or twenty minutes each stop. The brain needs some time to process vastness and beauty on this scale. Believe it or not, according to the rangers, the average park visit is only two-and-a-half hours. Why? We spent only five-and-a-half hours because we needed to hit the road again. My wife and I hiked a wee bit of the trail down into the canyon and back. I think that our other senses must become involved if we are to get to know a place; we need the feel of it under our feet and to touch it and smell it.

The Canyon demands our respect. There are some railings in some places, but not everywhere. The week after we left a tourist fell to his death. I think many people are so estranged from nature that they cannot quite think of it as independently real. I wish everyone could spend considerable time out of doors, learning that our decisions and actions have consequences we must live with: go to sleep without building a fire for supper and you'll wake up cold and hungry because breakfast will take longer and there is no room service or McD's around the corner.

Death Valley National Park. We entered California from Nevada by way of Death Valley. What an aptly named place. The official high the afternoon we visited was 119 F. We got out of the car twice and walked around a bit. The hottest air temperature I hope I ever feel. Who must a Ranger p.o. in order to be assigned here?

Although large areas of the valley bottom are barren, there are plants in places. And the valley was part of the range of the Timbisha Shoshone. Living things are tough and adaptable. People as well as plants.

The Sequoia National Park. It does a person good to feel small every so often. The Grand Canyon did it with immensity, the Canyon and the Petrified Forest did it with geological time, Death Valley did it with life-threatening temperatures, and Sequoia trees do it with size and age. The largest trees in the world by volume, some of them already old when Jesus was born. We looked, hiked, and marveled in this wonderful place.

In all of the parks I heard many languages spoken by other visitors. A ranger at the Grand Canyon said that 40% of the visitors are from other countries. We have treasures in and on our land worth traveling to see from the other side of the globe. Thank God for men like Muir and Teddy Roosevelt and others who determined that parts of the American treasury would be preserved so that we and our children and our children's children could experience them.

12/08: Boomers

Category: American Culture
Posted by: an okie gardener
Christianity Today has this article on ministry to/with Boomers, adults born between 1946 and 1964. These paragraphs stood out to me.

The Baby Boomers, referring to those adults that were born sometime between 1946 and 1964, is a generation unlike any other. Defined by the historical, political, economic, and social events of its youth, this cadre of aging adults may be chronologically qualified for the Seniors Ministry, but it’s fairly safe to say that they aren’t rushing to join.

Many individuals within this generation are still searching for truth, meaning, and a reason for their existence. One need not look far to find books, articles, and websites written by Boomers who are struggling with transitions into a new phase of life. It is clear that opportunities for ministry are abundant and significant.

So how do we minister to Boomers? How do we begin to break through the walls of denial, indifference, arrogance, rebellion, and fear that seem to surround this generation? How do we share Christ with a people group that is known for spiritual exploration and tolerance? How do we meet the needs of Boomers who are facing unprecedented changes? How do we break the code?

Speaking as a boomer (b.1956) it is interesting to watch the generation that sang "hope I die before I get old" getting old. Lot's of denial and redefinition of when "old" begins
Category: Politics
Posted by: an okie gardener
The Pew Forum provides links to articles from various sources on the faith of John McCain and of Barak Obama.

The Forum also has essays on the faith of each man. Click on Religious Biography from the links above.
Category: General
Posted by: Tocqueville
I am unamused by the continued presence of Lindsey Graham in the United States Senate. His latest fling, this with the "Gang of Ten" in the matter of energy policy, is a profound irritant and fundamentally damaging to the November election effort of Republicans at all levels, as the lovely Kimberly Strassel explains:

"Sen. Obama was thrilled. He quickly praised the Gang's bipartisan spirit, and warmed up to a possible compromise. Of course, he means removing even the token drilling provisions now in the bill. But he's only too happy for the focus to remain on the Gang's efforts, and in particular on the five Republicans providing his party its fig leaf."

But one must be struck by the profound and gratifying irony of a Gang of Some Number that includes the oleaginous Sen. Graham cutting the electoral legs from under the sojourning maverick senator from Arizona in his presidential campaign in the same manner as the Arizona senator and Sen. Graham and the Gang of Some Number gleefully accosted the electoral focus of the incumbent president by a similar scam in the matter of judicial confirmations.

Has this party neither a brain nor a spine?
For background information: The CIA Factbook , Britannica , The Telegraph (UK) .

I will preface what I say by acknowledging that I am far from expert in this area of the world.

It seems to me that we, The United States, have been doing the right thing up until now by not getting too involved in the fighting between Georgia and Russia. Georgia, like the former Soviet Union generally, has separatist areas that differ ethnically and linguistically from the rest of the nation. The area of South Ossetia has fought to become independent from Georgia, resulting in a cease-fire monitored by the Russians, who support South Ossetia. The Georgians were unwise to make a military push into South Ossetia since such a move had a near certainty of leading to war with Russia, something the Georgians are not, and probably never will be, ready for.

However, if the Russians push into Georgia itself, then we must act in some significant way (what way, I'm not sure of). First, it is in our interest that Russia does not try to put the old Soviet and Tsarist empires back together, crushing the recently independent nations. Second, it is in our interest that the oil pipeline through Georgia does not come under Russian control. In addition to their own large reserves, if Russia controls this pipeline it will control the flow of oil from near the Caspian Sea to the West and be better able to exert pressure on the West. Third, Georgia is our ally, fighting beside us in Iraq. Our militaries have conducted joint training together in Georgia and in the Black Sea. It is in our interest to maintain credibility with allies current or potential in dangerous regions of the world.

May God bless our nation's leaders with wisdom and courage.
Category: Politics
Posted by: A Waco Farmer
What to say about John Edwards?

I have never been an fan. Reviewing my previous posts concerning his candidacy, I cannot find anything positive I have written about him. By contrast, I have praised Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama generously from time to time, finding many things to admire about them over the course of the last two years. But I have consistently viewed and described Edwards as a charlatan and a coxcomb.

So, having said that, here goes some analysis regarding this latest Edwards melodrama from an extremely skeptical (perhaps even cynical) and certainly unfriendly source:

1. Some pearls of wisdom from an unlikely poet: Taylor Swift. In general, I am a cautiously optimistic admirer of hers--although I too often find myself feeling like I am intruding on some high school girl's junior-year diary. No matter, her response to infidelity in her current hit, "Should've Said No," is one of the most succinct and astute reactions to romantic betrayal in eons.

You should've said no,
You should've gone home,
You should have thought twice before you let it all go.
You should've known that word 'bout what you did with her'd, get back to me.

And I should've been there, in the back of your mind,
Shouldn't be asking myself why,
You shouldn't be begging for forgiveness at my feet,
You should've said no
Baby and you might still have me.

Nothing more to say. Think Elizabeth Edwards right now. Although, I have to wonder: why does a woman rich and powerful in her own right, stay with a womanizing weasel like John Edwards for three decades? Love is blind?

2. Scandal and Politics. Perhaps you think infidelity is a major character flaw. Perhaps you don't. Perhaps you think unfaithfulness within a marriage is a private matter irrelevant to the career of a public man. Perhaps you find such behavior indicative of a general pattern of behavior.

An Aside: for all of my currently smiling and clucking Republican friends, who will argue that this revelation is proof that John Edwards is a scoundrel only the Democratic Party could love, I offer this thought experiment:

What if the New York Times, during the third week of October 2008, proves beyond a reasonable doubt that John McCain has engaged in serial adultery? Will you then concede the election to the morally upright Barack Obama out of principle?

An Aside within an aside: I say “out of principle” because if that happens (and I am about 65 percent sure that it will), speaking in practical terms, we will in effect concede the election to Barack Obama.

Ironically, this unraveling Edwards sex scandal paves the way for a more vigorous investigation of the allegations against McCain. No conspiracy here--but this is the fickle finger of fate emerging once again to pile one more pound of handicap on the seventy-two year-old senator trying to ascend the greasy pole.

But, let us return to the current scandal: what has always turned my stomach about Edwards is his egregious willingness to lie and posture in pursuit of ambition.

He wanted to be president, so he voted for the Iraq War. He still wanted to be president, so he rushed to be the first candidate to admit that his pro-war vote had been a mistake. He wanted to be president, so he said he really cared about the poor and worried about "Two Americas." He wanted to be president, so he continued to campaign for president even after his wife was diagnosed with cancer (telling the world that continuing was all her idea). He wanted to be president, so he told people how much he adored her (even as he humiliated her).

I never trusted the SOB.
When on the Zuni reservation we visited a couple of shops featuring artwork by Zuni and other Native American artists. (Zuni have a tradition of fine jewelry work.) Both shops were run by men with accents perhaps from Lebanon. We purchased a Navajo pot, and a Zuni painting. We also purchased pendants and a fetish from individual artists who approached us while on the reservation.

In Flagstaff the motel owner was European, Polish I think. In Concord the motel manager/or owner may have been Arminian. The night clerk was Afghani. In Albuquerque, Southeast Asian, perhaps Laotian. I don't know how many convenience stores/gas stations on our trip were run by Pakistanis or Indians, including one by turbaned Sikhs.

Legal immigrants bring renewed energy and ambition to America. They are a blessing. If we ever shut our doors we will be the losers.

But, as I've argued before, a nation can accept only a limited number of immigrants per year, and maintain the culture that attracted immigration in the first place.

As usualy in politics, people shout slogans designed to cloud the issue. Those of us who want to secure our borders and regulate immigration are called "anti-immigrant." Horsefeathers. I am pro-legal immigrant, and anti-illegal immigrant.

"Give us your huddled masses, yearning to breathe free." But at a rate we can assimilate.

Previous On the Road posts: 1 , 2 , 3 , 4.
Posted by: an okie gardener
This story from the NYT reminds us again of the violence between Muslims and Hindus in India. At issue is a Hindu shrine in Kashmir and control of 98 acres the Kashmiri government wants to turn over to the panel overseeing the shrine to build shelters for pilgrims. Local Muslims are protesting violently.

For those with historical knowledge, Muslim outrage is ironic, since Muslim conquests have always involved destruction or takeover of the religious sites of the conquered peoples.
Category: American Culture
Posted by: an okie gardener
Driving from Oklahoma to California we usually could pick up at least one Spanish-language radio station on either AM or FM. Advocates for a bi-lingual America, that we all speak both languages, would seem on first glance to make a strong case. Canada has two official languages and appears to get along just fine.

But once we were into California, well, at least out of the Mojave Desert, then the airwaves grew more complicated. For a while north of Fresno I listened to a Hmong-language station. When the carload grew tired of that, I found a Chinese-language station. Close to the Bay area I came across two more stations in languages I did not recognize with certainty, though I think one was Vietnamese. Oh, and I forgot to mention that between Gallup and Flagstaff we listened for a time to a Navajo-language station.

America has too many languages spoken for us to become a bi-lingual nation. Why should Spanish be privilaged above Hmong, or Navajo? Because there are more Spanish speakers than Chinese? By that logic we would stick with English.

The United States needs one language we all can speak and read for our common life. In the homes, and on radio, we can have our other tongues. But to be a nation, a people, we must be able to communicate; we must have a common culture in which we can meet outside our own neighborhoods. English it is.
So argues Ryan Anderson in the latest First Things. Worth reading and reflecting on.

For my own position see this post and its links.

I don't think a Protestant embrace of Natural Law reasoning is as simple for Protestants as Anderson asserts. Note that he quotes only Martin Luther King, Jr. as his example of a Protestant using natural law argument (indirectly, at best, since King is quoting Augustine and Aquinas). The Lutheran and Reformed traditions have had some serious suspicions about the ability of human reason to know God's will apart from revelation. Anabaptist groups are not that interested, historically, in convincing the larger culture of anything by argument. And American evangelicals, generally speaking, have little experience in laying out a vision for the good life, individually and socially, without quoting Scripture.
Story from The Times of India.

Must be because of the strong support for Israel by India, all the money and weapons. Oops. That's not it.

Must be the legacy of India's foreign policy in the Middle East, propping up dictatorships and humiliating local populations. Oops. That's not it.

Must be the resentment lingering after India's participation in the Crusades, and their imperialistic Christian missionary activity. Oops. That's not it.

How about that. Muslims hating a country other than the U.S., for reasons having nothing to do with those usually offered to explain Why They Hate Us.

Islam has bloody borders because it is innately aggressive.
Category: American Culture
Posted by: an okie gardener
Get Your Kicks, On Route 66

For most of our California Trip we were on Interstate 40, which replaced Route 66 from Oklahoma City to Barstow, California. But, I did not want to bypass totally the famous highway. We got off I-40 a couple of exits before Flagstaff and drove into town on Route 66, and against my wife's better judgment, we stayed at an older motel that predated the interstate, dating back to when Route 66 was the highway to California for much of the country. On the way home we ate supper one night in a diner along old 66 in Barstow, and again the next night ate at the El Rancho Hotel in Gallup. The El Rancho was the hotel for movie stars when filming in northwestern New Mexico, including Ronald Reagan in The Bad Man.

Planned in the 1920s and paved from start to finish during the New Deal, Route 66 linked the rural Midwest and Southwest with Chicago and Los Angeles. History. During the Depression it became the road out of the Dust Bowl for over 200,000 "Okies", refugees from Oklahoma, Texas, and Arkansas hoping for work in California. Steinbeck, in The Grapes of Wrath, termed it the Mother Road.

Those Okies had not really wanted to uproot themselves, but necessity forced them on the road. In their westward journey they recapitulated the earlier movement of their ancestors. Most immigrants to the New World came because they saw no real alternative. From starving Irish to persecuted Jews to farmers and agricultural workers displaced by changing technology and economics.

My own people lived in the hills of East Tennessee, some moving to Missouri before the Civil War, some after. Small hill farms up in the hollows can support only a limited population; the reality is move or go hungry.

Route 66 itself is now a metaphor for forced relocation. Interstate 40, and Interstate 44 from St. Louis to Oklahoma City, have left only segments of the older highway in place. The motels, diners, tourist attractions on the old road have been bypassed. Many, many have closed, unable to compete with the Motel 6s, 8s, and others along the interstate exits. Those that remain seem on their last legs, often needing some repair, probably to close when something major fails. The economic life of the nation now flows along another artery.

In my first post in this series, I celebrated rootedness and commitment. But, while we can commit to one another in marriage, and keep our family commitments, we sometimes must uproot from our communities and seek opportunity elsewhere.

I thought about these things during the time we spent on the Zuni Reservation in New Mexico (overnight our first night and part of the next day). Reservations mean continuing attachment to people, place, and some of the traditions for those who live on them. But, opportunities are limited, very limited. If reservations were happy places, then a person could accept being poor in order to live among The People. But, the high rates of suicide, drug use, and alcoholism, especially for young men, tell of despair rather than happiness. Perhaps the road out is necessity.
From the Washington Post:

Federal officials said today that bioweapons researcher Bruce E. Ivins was solely responsible for the 2001 anthrax attacks that terrorized the nation and expressed confidence that he would have been proved guilty in court if he had not committed suicide last week.

Is it just me? Or does this story stink?

For six years we don't hear a peep from the FBI. All this time they are investigating and building a case. Now the guy commits suicide, which may or may not have been the result of the dogged Feds on his heels, and now the G-men are arrogantly assured that they had this guy dead to rights and were moments away from indicting, presenting, and convicting.

Maybe so--but I wonder.

All the Federales say, they could've had him any day
They only let him slip away, out of kindness I suppose
Category: American Culture
Posted by: an okie gardener
According to the Princeton Review's 2009 survey, these 10 colleges are the most socially conservative.

The single public university (excluding service academies): Texas A&M

The 10 most socially liberal colleges are these.

The one red-state school Warren Wilson in North Carolina.
Story here. From Breitbart.

A jury was seated Wednesday in a lawsuit alleging the wife of nationally known pastor Joel Osteen assaulted a flight attendant.
Opening arguments were set for Thursday in a case Victoria Osteen's lawyer called "silly." But Reginald McKamie, attorney for Continental Airlines flight attendant Sharon Brown, said he hopes the trial will show "that celebrity status doesn't take precedence."

Brown accuses Victoria Osteen of assaulting her before the start of a 2005 flight from Houston to Vail, Colo. Brown alleges Victoria Osteen threw her against a bathroom door and elbowed her in the left breast during an angry outburst over a stain on her first-class seat. The Federal Aviation Administration fined Victoria Osteen $3,000 for interfering with a crew member.

Driving from Apache, Oklahoma, to Concord, California, I saw a lot of billboards. Way too many billboards. (Why don't environmental terrorists start blowing up big, well-lit, billboards?)

Several of these advertised that positions were available in the U.S. Border Patrol, and what a wonderful career it would be.

No thanks. If I am going to put myself into danger, I want to know that the agency hiring me will support me, not leave me dangling out on my own.

This recent story makes my point. From Gateway Pundit.

A U.S. Border Patrol agent was held at gunpoint Sunday night by members of the Mexican military who had crossed the border into Arizona, but the soldiers returned to Mexico without incident when backup agents responded to assist.

Agents assigned to the Border Patrol station at Ajo, Ariz., said the Mexican soldiers crossed the international border in an isolated area about 100 miles southwest of Tucson and pointed rifles at the agent, who was not identified.

It was unclear what the soldiers were doing in the United States, but U.S. law enforcement authorities have long said that current and former Mexican military personnel have been hired to protect drug and migrant smugglers.

"Unfortunately, this sort of behavior by Mexican military personnel has been going on for years," union Local 2544 of the National Border Patrol Council (NBPC) said on its Web page. "They are never held accountable, and the United States government will undoubtedly brush this off as another case of 'Oh well, they didn't know they were in the United States.'

And, you remember the conviction of two border agents for what seems like a justified shooting.

I would only consider joining the border patrol if the American government's policy became Threaten a Border Patrol Agent and You Die.

The will to defend its borders is essential to the survival of a nation.
Just returned from a trip to California to the wedding of my older son.

Twice on the trip heard On the Road Again.

Ironically, it became the traveling song playing in my head.

I say ironically, because it is a typical blues theme: I'm headed out again on the road, baby, and you can't come along. The rootless man, always moving on, baby may be gentle on his mind, but he's just gotta keep moving because he was born a rambling man. A free bird, yeah.

Once upon a time in America, the rambling man was an outsider to mainstream culture. Almost all men settled down, married, had children, joined a bowling league, maybe a church, and only occasionally dreamed of the road.

But now, the rambling man is the norm. Not in the stick-out-my-thumb, hop-a-freight, town-to-town fashion. But in the more comfortable form: no ties that bind, one-night-stands, perhaps marry but probably will divorce if married. Everyman's life a blues song, but the sorrow is now supressed far below the surface.

My wife of almost 30 years and I, and our daughter and her husband, were on the road to a wedding. Where my older son pledged as-long-as-we-both-shall-live to a young women. He chose to be a rooted man, keeping his baby in his arms as well as on his mind, to move together if moving on is necessary.

Perhaps my greatest achievement is that I seem to have raised counter-culture children. Praise be to God.
This article from The Layman (requires Adobe Reader) looks at the 2001 vote to repeal the chastity/faithfulness in marriage requirement. Each synod (larger regional body) and its presbyteries (smaller regional bodies within a synod) are examined. No real surprises. Those areas most apt to be called liberal and Democrat voted to repeal; those areas most apt to be called conservative and Republican voted to maintain the standard.

What to make of this information? One could argue that Presbyterians are more influenced by their surrounding society than by Scripture. This thesis may not apply equally to both sides.
Brits At Their Best brings us links and comments to an article on the use made of International Law by despotic regimes.

From Brits:

One problem with international law, as opposed to common law in the countries of the Anglosphere, is that we already have our rights and liberties and we do not want international law mucking things up. A second problem with international law is that despots can control it.

See also my earlier posts on the (ill)legitimacy of the United Nations here , here , and here.
Category: American Culture
Posted by: an okie gardener
LGF has links to photos (from Zombie) taken on the public streets of San Francisco during the Up Your Alley Fair this summer. Warning: not for the faint of heart or stomach. Public male nudity including masturbation and fellatio.

San Francisco provides us with a view of what the fully-developed, public gay culture is. Not the sanitized version seen on television. Middle America is not homophobic in the sense of fearing homosexual men as such; Middle America is homophobic in not wanting our streets ever to look like San Francisco.

Category: Politics
Posted by: an okie gardener
LGF has this link to Stanley Kurtz's reporting on B.Obama between '96 and '04. For sources he reached beyond the Sun-Times and Tribune to the black newspaper The Chicago Defender and to The Hyde Park Herald.

From Kurtz:

What they portray is a Barack Obama sharply at variance with the image of the post-racial, post-ideological, bipartisan, culture-war-shunning politician familiar from current media coverage and purveyed by the Obama campaign. As details of Obama’s early political career emerge into the light, his associations with such radical figures as Reverend Jeremiah Wright, Father Michael Pfleger, Reverend James Meeks, Bill Ayers, and Bernardine Dohrn look less like peculiar instances of personal misjudgment and more like intentional political partnerships. At his core, in other words, the politician chronicled here is profoundly race-conscious, exceedingly liberal, free-spending even in the face of looming state budget deficits, and partisan.

It seems to me that we still can see that same politician if we look carefully. Witness Obama's continued references to racism as he tries to disarm his critics, his trillion-dollar spending proposals, and his money and support ties to the gay and lesbian activists.