You are currently viewing archive for October 2008
The Infidel Bloggers Alliance yesterday contained this post by Rolf Krake on the growth of Asatru in Denmark, and its implications for the Danish Army. The writer, an atheist and a Dane, expressed an admiration for this belief system, stating that if he were to have a religion this would be it.

Outside Scandinavia most people do not know what Asatru is or their values so a quick explanation is needed to know what an Asatru believer is - He is one who believes in the old Norse deities as did the Vikings, Asatru is not a religion in the sense as we know it from monotheistic religions but a way of life and spirit and a set of values of some can be found in the Havamal.

Moral virtues inculcated by this religious system include courage, honor, and independence. With these values, many Asatru believers join the Danish Army.

"They want to be soldiers and some of them have got a romantic dream about dying in battle. Then you are assured to go to Valhalla" Says the asatru society Forn Sidr's secondary chairman about his young male co-believers who are deployed in the Danish Army. . . .
"They want to be soldiers and some maybe have got a romantic dream about dying in battle. Then you are assured to go to Valhalla. The Asatru-believe is right up the alley because it emphasizes on masculine values. You are persuaded to show courage and to protect the community, all are values which also belongs in being at war" he explains to Kristelight Dagblad.

According to Army priest Christian Madsen who have been on mission in Kosovo and Iraq the Asatru believers are so visible that the latest camp in Iraq, Camp Einherjer, was named after einherjerne, who in the Norse mythology were the Viking warriors who felt in battle with honor and found worthy to live in Valhalla.
Christian Madsen do not know how many Asatru believers there is in the army. But he underscores that they are very visible both in the military at home and on the international missions.

"There is a great deal of Asatru believing soldiers there have got a romantic dream of the community solidarity one experienced in the old North. The Norse mythology is heavily influenced by war and probably also one of the reasons they want to be soldiers. You notice them because they have got Thor's hammer as a necklace and tattoos of the Midgard serpent or other Viking tattoos on their arms" Says Christian Madsen to Kristeligt Dagblad.

Asatru seems to be growing worldwide, and even has an internet presence, such as this site. In the United States, Asatru has an appeal to White Supremacists who prosyletize in prisons.

The last link is to an article from today's (October 31) CBS website, here is a portion:

A man who murdered a fellow inmate during a pagan religious ceremony was executed Thursday after the U.S. Supreme Court rejected his appeals and Gov. Timothy M. Kaine denied his request for clemency.

Michael Lenz, 42, received a lethal injection at the Greensville Correctional Center and was pronounced dead at 9:07 p.m.

When asked if he had any final words, Lenz gave a slight shake of his head, indicating no.

Lenz and another inmate, Jeffrey Remington, were sentenced to death in 2000 for stabbing 41-year-old Brent Parker a combined 68 times with makeshift knives at the Augusta Correctional Center. Lenz had been serving a 29-year sentence after being convicted in Prince William County of burglary and weapon possession.

The three inmates were followers of the Nordic pagan religion Asatru, and belonged to a group known as the Ironwood Kindred. The kindred was gathered for a ceremony when Lenz and Remington attacked Parker at the foot of a makeshift altar.

Asatru has been gaining popularity among inmates, say religious leaders and prison experts who believe its roots in Viking mythology attract prisoners seeking power, protection and unity.

Asatru belongs to the much larger category of Neopaganism, which means a revival of beliefs and rituals from European paganism. There are a wide variety of groups and practices, and most are not violent or particularly martial. For example Wicca, which focuses on the Earth Mother. And Druidism, reviving ancient Celtic beliefs. Neopagans can be found in most Western cultures, and are working for greater recognition and respect.

So, why the revival of the Old Gods and Goddesses? Perhaps a search for community, prison inmates are not the only ones who feel a need to belong to a group for protection and identity. In Eastern and Central Europe neopaganism has been linked to a search for national identity. And,some feminists and environmentalists are drawn to the idea of an Earth Mother and a sacred earth.

But, in the main, I think Neopaganism can be understood as a replacement religion for Christianity. Most of Western Europe secularized in the nineteenth century, and the decades since WW 2 have seen this trend accelerate. But, since scientific secularism is so basically unsatisfying to people, and postmodern anomie even less satisfying, Religion will be found. With Christianity seemingly discredited, paganism once again had an appeal. And with Christianity associated in people's minds with the modern dominant industrial culture, those who cared for the environment and those who despised patriarchy felt the appeal of the old gods and goddesses.

The more martial paganisms, such as Asatru, with its strong appeal to men, also reflects a Christian failure, I believe. In much of Western Christianity, especially in Protestantism, the nineteenth century witnessed what is called "the feminization of Christianity." Not only were most worshippers women, but the role of the mother as the keeper of the family's religion was stressed. The softer virtures such as humility received more attention than fortitude. And the believer's relationship to Jesus Christ was presented in femine terms; even Jesus became feminized. Compare these two Victorian Era hymns with earlier hymnody.

1. Softly and tenderly Jesus is calling,
calling for you and for me;
see, on the portals he's waiting and watching,
watching for you and for me.
Come home, come home;
ye who are weary come home;
earnestly, tenderly, Jesus is calling,
calling, O sinner, come home!

2. Why should we tary when Jesus is pleading,
pleading for you and for me?
Why should we linger and heed not his mercies,
mercies for you and for me?

3. Time is now fleeting, the moments are passing,
passing from you and from me;
shadows are gathering, deathbeds are coming,
coming for you and for me.

4. O for the wonderful love he has promised,
promised for you and for me!
Though we have sinned, he has mercy and pardon,
pardon for you and for me.


I come to the garden alone
While the dew is still on the roses
And the voice I hear, falling on my ear
The Son of God discloses

And He walks with me
And He talks with me
And He tells me I am His own
And the joy we share as we tarry there
None other has ever known

He speaks and the sound of His voice
Is so sweet the birds hush their singing
And the melody that He gave to me
Within my heart is ringing

And He walks with me
And He talks with me
And He tells me I am His own
And the joy we share as we tarry there
None other has ever known

I'd stay in the garden with Him
'Tho the night around me be falling
But He bids me go; through the voice of woe
His voice to me is calling

And He walks with me
And He talks with me
And He tells me I am His own
And the joy we share as we tarry there
None other has ever known

These two hymns are Victorian feminine sentimentality. No wonder some men have trouble relating to Jesus as portrayed in many churches. Compare them with two from an earlier century

1. Jesus shall reign where'er the sun
Does His successive journeys run;
His kingdom spread from shore to shore,
Till moons shall wax and wane no more.

2. To Him shall endless prayer be made,
And endless praises crown His head;
His name like sweet perfume shall rise
With ev'ry morning sacrifice.

3. People and realms of ev'ry tongue
Dwell on His love with sweetest song;
And infant voices shall proclaim
Their early blessings on His name.

4. Let ev'ry creature rise and bring
His grateful honors to our King;
Angels descend with songs again,
And earth repeat the loud "Amen!"


1. Lo, he comes with clouds descending,
once for favored sinners slain;
thousand, thousand saints attending
swell the triumph of his train.
Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Hallelujah!
God appears on earth to reign.

2. Every eye shall now behold him,
robed in dreadful majesty;
those who set at naught and sold him,
pierced and nailed him to the tree,
deeply wailing, deeply wailing, deeply wailing,
shall the true Messiah see.

3. The dear tokens of his passion
still his dazzling body bears;
cause of endless exultation
to his ransomed worshipers;
with what rapture, with what rapture, with what rapture,
gaze we on those glorious scars!

4. Yea, Amen! Let all adore thee,
high on thy eternal throne;
Savior, take the power and glory,
claim the kingdom for thine own.
Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Hallelujah!
Everlasting God, come down!

These last two, from an earlier era, present a masculine Jesus.

Of course, the old paganisms never really went away. As I write this on Halloween, I have been interupted by costumed children seeking candy on the date of an old pagan festival. And, in less than a month I'll put an evergreen tree up in my house. At my first teaching job, the elementary children of the school had a May Day celebration with a Maypole. The pagan religions were simply domesticated and Christianized. But now that Christianity is weakened in the West, they are slipping the leash and growling at their handlers.
Christianity Today has these stories:

Protestant pastors polled on presidential preference yields surprises--

1. Self identified "mainline" pastors not more pro-Obama (they were split).
2. A sizeable minority of pastors are still undecided.
3. A majority [of] pastors endorsed candidates outside of their church role.

Evangelicals polled in swing states. As expected, McCain leads, but, has a surprisingly small lead in Indiana.

Indiana: 57 (McCain) 33 (Obama) percent
Florida: 72-21
Ohio: 61-33
Pennsylvania: 62-31

30/10: UFO Religion

It is not too late to register for UFO Conference 2008, November 7-9 in Las Vegas. Speaker topics include "UFOs and the National Security State," "Roswell's Day in Court; The Deathbed Testimonies," and "Disclosure 2009? Exopolitics and the New Administration."

Though I have never attended a UFO Conference, I am going to guess that the people there will range from the strongly curious to the obsessed, from those who think of UFOs in terms consistent with modern science to those who think in terms of "light beings" and multiple dimension and time travel.

And, there may be attendees for whom UFOs are central to their religious beliefs and feelings.

From Wikipedia (yes, I know I knock some of their entries, but this one is legit)

A UFO religion or UFO cult is an informal term used to describe a faith community whose belief in the existence of extraterrestrials and/or UFOs is a central component of its religion and practice.

Though their beliefs are highly varied, UFO religions commonly believe that alien beings exist; that they have played, or are still playing, a key role in human history; and that at some point in the future, humanity will become part of a wider galactic community. The arrival or rediscovery of alien civilizations, technologies and spirituality will enable humans to overcome their current ecological, spiritual and social problems. Issues such as hatred, war, bigotry, poverty and so on are said to be resolvable through the use of superior alien technology and spiritual abilities. Such belief systems have often been described as millenarian in their outlook.[who?]

Of course, not all believers are members of faith communities of the like-minded.

Perhaps the most famous, or infamous, UFO cult was Heaven's Gate, whose members committed mass suicide on March 27, 1997.

Trolling the internet, one can find "revelations" that

The third secret of Fatima also concerns the return of Jesus Christ and the fact that mankind is going to have contact with inhabitants from other planets. I was told that all mankind will realize that we are not alone in the universe. We will understand that many of these beings are much more evolved than us, not only on a psychological level, but above all on a spiritual level. And I was asked to talk about what Jesus Christ tried to teach us, the fact that we have to love one another, that we have to respect the planet, to respect one another, exactly what he taught us 2,000 years ago. I was asked to spread this message to the world. Read more.


The power-oriented civilization behind the 2008 Disclosure Management Psyops does not represent the future of human civilization. That civilization - which we call the "permanent war economy" - represents a species of human consciousness which is destined to become extinct during the emergence of transparent, interactive contact between our Earth and ethical advanced Extraterrestrial civilizations surrounding and following alignment during the period 2011-2012 with the gigantic Black Hole at the center of the Milky Way Galaxy, 23,000 light years from Earth, and 4000 as heavy as our Sun. As our Earth approaches alignment with the Black Hole, time as a dimension accelerates and human consciousness stratifies into two domains or dimensions. For polarity's sake, we can call these two domains "Fear & Contraction" and "Love & Expansion".
During this post 2011-2012 transitional period we are entering, Exopolitics - the new political science of outer space - and Exo-consciousness - humanity's emerging Extraterrestrial consciousness - will establish the platform for transparent and inter-active contact between an emerging human civilization based on values of sustainability, Universality, cosmic Love and advanced ethical Extraterrestrial civilizations.
Read more.


I also strongly suggest that there are many people who have experienced themselves outside of their own physical and mental bodies.

This is a form of existence for many human beings on earth. There are doctors and scientist who are aware of people who say they have had near death experiences (NDE), out of body experiences (OBE), and ET UFO experiences. (ET UFO Exp). Some prefer to call these contacts, some abduction, and some experiences. Regardless of the words chosen or accepted while in discussion, these situations are real. The differences that have occurred are based on the individuals and yet we know there are now similarities.
Read more.

What do I think? Well, it is a big universe. May be we are not alone, that there are other sentient beings with civilizations perhaps more technologically advanced than our own. But, I cannot imagine that our obscure solar system on the edge of our galaxy is some sort of high-traffic space crossroads. If other races exist, odds are we'll never meet. And, I don't think they are necessarily higher spiritual beings than ourselves.

What interests me most, is the way UFOs function for some people as a focus for religious feelings and beliefs. Scientific secularism is ultimately unsatisfying to almost all people. Homo sapiens seems hard-wired for belief. We need to believe in something that transcends the ordinary, that is higher than ourselves, that gives us hope. Some people find this in UFOs. I pray that some day they may find it in the truth as it is in Jesus.
Here is a list of the ten scariest movies according to LiveScience. Just in time for Halloween.

Some of these films I had not heard of before reading the list: Bug, Martin, Frailty. Others are familiar such as Pscho, Jacob's Ladder, The Shining, The Stepfather, Seven, The Exorcist, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre.

Last year for Halloween I posted this listing of movies and reading for this season of the year.

I recommend The Exorcist, or the original 1925 Phantom of the Opera with Lon Chaney, or perhaps the 1922 Nosferatu, or maybe the 1932 The Mummy with Boris Karloff, or if you can find it the 1932 Freaks.

To my list I'll add Alien, the first one from 1979, and The Innocents, a 1961 adaptation of Henry James' The Turn of the Screw, and The Omen from 1976.

Anyone else have any favorite horror movies?
Two significant items: The Central Washington Presbytery is beginning to consider steps to remove itself from the PCUSA. A presbytery is a regional association of congregations.

The Presbytery of Central Washington has approved a resolution declaring that the General Assemblies of 2006 and 2008 “have brought our PCUSA denomination to a point of crisis. Actions of these assemblies have broken the connection and covenant that has existed in our church since the first meetings of our General Assembly.”

The Presbytery report also included this quotation from the respected German theologian Wolfhart Pannenburg:

6. Finally, we believe that we have come to a tipping point as a denomination. We affirm the words of Wolfhart Pannenberg:
“Those who urge the church to change the norm of its teaching on this matter must know that they are promoting schism. If a church were to let itself be pushed to the point where it ceased to treat homosexual activity as a departure from the biblical norm, and recognized homosexual unions as a personal partnership of love equivalent to marriage, such a church would stand no longer on biblical ground but against the unequivocal witness of Scripture. A church that took this step would cease to be the one, holy, catholic, and apostolic church.” (Church Times, June 21, 1996)

Full story. from The Layman.

And, also from the Northwest, Second Presbyterian Church in Portland has worked out an agreement with its Presbytery to leave the denomination with its property in exchange for cash contributions to the Presbytery. Second Pres, Portland, is exactly the kind of large, healthy congregation a denomination cannot afford to lose.

According to denominational data, Sunset’s membership at the end of 2007 was 1,957. Sunday school attendance averaged 3,911 and the average turnout for Sunday worship services was 2,067.

Attendance larger than membership is not common, and indicates a growing, energetic, faithful congregation.

Full story from The Layman.
Posted by: an okie gardener
Copper mines from the time of King Solomon found south of Dead Sea. Story.

The oldest Hebrew text found written on a pottery shard, about 3000 years old. Story.
Story here from The Mail.

Vatican chiefs are concerned at what they see as an increased interest in the occult.
They have introduced courses for priests to combat what they call the most extreme form of "Godlessness."
Each bishop is to be told to have in his diocese a number of priests trained to fight demonic possession.
The initiative was revealed by 82-year-old Father Gabriele Amorth, the Vatican "exorcistinchief," to the online Catholic news service Petrus.
"Thanks be to God, we have a Pope who has decided to fight the Devil head-on," he said.
"Too many bishops are not taking this seriously and are not delegating their priests in the fight against the Devil. You have to hunt high and low for a properly trained exorcist.
"Thankfully, Benedict XVI believes in the existence and danger of evil . . .

"Exorcism" means the casting out of a demon or demons who are possessing a person. The belief in evil spirits who would harm humans, including by possessing human bodies, is an ancient and widespread belief, not confined to Christianity.

From its earliest days Christianity has believed that a personal devil, and hordes of lesser demons, sought to harm human beings as part of the rebellion of the fallen angels. In the Early Church casting out of demons was done by laypeople as well as church officers, but gradually the practice became restricted to the ordained.

While Modernity downplayed the supernatural, resulting in the loss of belief in demons and exorcisms among many Western Christians, the growth of Pentecostalism has revived the practice of casting out demons among conservative Protestants.

Traditionally, "possession" was distinguished from "oppression" and from the more general temptations and malicious work of demons. "Oppression" refers to the strong presence of demons in a person's life, perhaps resulting from willingly participating in sins. "Possession" refers to demons taking up residence in the person's body.

The Roman Catholic Church's position is that actual possession is rare, at least within Christendom. More common is Oppression, which can be handled by prayer, along with confession and repentence if needed. Possession, however, must be fought with Exorcism, the casting out of the demon through the work of an exorcist (involving prayers, rituals, sacred objects) and the willingness of the possessed to be delivered.

Raised within modern culture, I have tended not to think much about possession, or exorcism. Probably that is an area of my ministry I need to reconsider.
From The Anchoress, Lewis and Chesterton on the threat to Freedom posed by the Nanny-State.

link via Brits at Their Best.
Category: Campaign 2008.15
Posted by: A Waco Farmer
Mark McKinnon wrote a brilliant column earlier this week that everyone should read.

He asserts:

Steve Schmidt and his colleagues took John McCain further than he had any reasonable right to, given the political climate.

McKinnon reminds us of this obvious truism:

One of the physical laws of politics is that if your campaign wins, you’re a genius. If you lose, you’re an idiot.

I agree. Get off McCain.

Considering the daunting political geography, there were only two times over the past three years in which I thought the Republicans had a good shot at winning this election. The first instance was when the Jeremiah Wright revelation finally emerged as a public issue. I was convinced that the American people would never tolerate Wright's brand of incendiary race mongering. Of course, at the time, even then I saw it more as the end of Barack Obama rather than the Democrats. I fully expected Hillary to pick up the pieces and carry her party to victory in November.

In re Wright, my instinct (my absolute certitude) has never been more wrong. Why did the Wright episodes not sink Obama? The media supported their man during his two times of trial concerning his longtime pastor. First, the prObama press rallied around his excellent speech in Philadelphia, which cleverly clouded the issue of Wright by thoughtfully addressing the larger issue of race in America. Then, when Wright reinserted himself into the campaign with his insanely riveting performance at the National Press Club, the candidate reversed himself. After saying he could never disown Wright--Obama vehemently disowned him, and his fans in the mainstream media applauded and accepted the about-face in stride.

Then, in what may be the most amazing display of restraint in the history of American politics, John McCain decided early-on to declare the issue off limits. Why? Without a doubt, Obama's twenty-year relationship with Wright was a legitimate issue. Why? McCain correctly reasoned that the exploitation of Reverend Wright would so divide the American electorate along racial lines that victory would pale in comparison to the cultural damage. Country First. Amazing.

For this unprecedented magnanimity McCain gained what? Ironically, the mainstream media trafficked the ubiquitous notion of McCain as a negative campaigner who had lowered himself to ruthlessly, relentlessly, and unscrupulously attacking his virtuous opponent. Shame, shame, John McCain.

The second moment when I thought victory was attainable came with the advent of Sarah Palin. Her dynamic explosion onto the political scene completely transformed this campaign. For all the pundits who want to point to Palin as McCain's downfall, they should recall how low down the McCain fortunes were when Palin raised him up to parity with the Obama juggernaut.

If I have a complaint against McCain worth pressing at this point, it is my sense that his campaign squandered the potential of Sarah Palin--hiding her under a bushel.

Once the Palin phenomenon emerged, the opposition pushed back with everything they had--correctly comprehending that crushing Palin was "make or break" for Obama 2008. It was not pretty--but the opposition expertly destroyed her public persona. The all-out offensive included blatant lies, distortions, double standards, and a devastating doppelganger--Tina Fey-lin.

Don't blame McCain for selecting the Alaska governor. It was the most brilliant political coup of this new century. However, you can blame McCain for not pushing back hard enough and/or quick enough. You can also blame Team McCain for not giving the young maverick her head. Sarah Palin is incredibly formidable live and on the attack. She should have been running circles around the enemy in a series of guerrilla raids--not laying low or attempting to connect to the electorate through taped and edited interviews with nightly news anchors.

Having said that, McCain has been McCain--and I give him credit for a bully effort. In a year in which the Republican brand is all but discredited, McCain fought valiantly and honorably. In a year in which no straightforward Republican strategy had even a ghost of a chance at success, McCain ran a courageous insurgent campaign. Not perfect--but perfection is a little bit too much to ask in human kind. Well done, Johnny McCain.
The Ark of the Covenant, according to the Bible, was a wooden box, overlaid with gold, in which were the Tablets of the Law. Housed in a movable tent for centuries, it later was placed in the Temple in Jerusalem that Solomon built. It is generally assumed that the Ark disappeared when the Babylonians conquered Jerusalem and destroyed the Temple, hauling the treasures back to Babylon.

However, the Ethiopian Orthodox Church believes they have the Ark, kept safe and guarded for millenia in Ethiopia.

Story from The Smithsonian Magazine.

25/10: Did You Know?

Has anybody noticed that many of the most reputable public opinion polls indicate that Barack Obama is set to garner the biggest white male vote for any Democratic Party candidate since Lyndon Johnson in 1964?

According to the Zogby-Reuters-C-SPAN poll, white and male voters are fairly evenly split between John McCain and Obama (both in the forties among "decideds")--with McCain holding a modest edge within both groups.

According to the same poll, 95 percent of African Americans report that they are likely to vote for Barack Obama. A staggering number—but not surprising in that this near monolithic statement of support would signal only a slight uptick from the past two elections: African Americans voted 92 percent and 88 percent for Al Gore and John Kerry, respectively, in 2000 and 2004.

More disappointing--but perhaps not surprising--huge numbers of Hispanics seem likely to vote for Obama as well. Many polls predict a twenty-to-thirty point drop off for McCain in 2008 from the Bush heights of 2000 and 2004. Some of that turnaround must be attributed to Obama's charisma and appeal as a minority candidate, but some of it, undoubtedly, is the mendacious Spanish-language ads depicting John McCain in league with the Talk Radio anti-immigration populist revolution of 2007. If voters had any sense of recent history, they would find these blatant lies so preposterous as to be hilarious. But, unfortunately, that particular "if" is a luxury we don't enjoy this election.

As many of you know, I tend to view George W. Bush as much more astute than the hapless buffoon he plays on TV. He certainly understood better than most that chasing off Hispanic voters was a bad idea for the GOP in the long term. It seems that those chickens are coming home to roost this time around.

But, back to the real point of this post, what does it mean for our "racist nation," if Barack Obama wins more white males than any other Democratic candidate of the post-New Deal era?

As I have said before, the liberal establishment in this country has a huge stake in the accepted notion that I am a racist. Why else would a middle-class American continue to vote Republican? Because I am a simpleton who does not understand my own interests. The GOP waves the bloody shirt of race hatred, homophobia, and evangelical sophistry in front of my face, and I revert to conditioned behavior.

Not too long ago America was "too racist" to elect Obama. But as his election grows more probable, we are now forced to endure the new explanation: white America is so desperate for a competent leader that there is no choice but to accept Obama. Economic fear trumps race prejudice. This assumption, by the way, rests on the well-known fact that Barack Obama is an expert on the economy.

All that noise aside, "whitey" turning out in record numbers to vote for the first serious African American candidate for president in our nation's 220 year history will speak loudly and clearly. Of course, the axis of disingenuousness, so invested in the image of virulent racism lurking in heart of Red-State America, will use every weapon in its vast arsenal to combat the notion of the United States as a place that actually hungers for racial justice and fairness.

At this point, who can bet against them?
Category: Politics
Posted by: an okie gardener
The sleaze, the sleaze.

Powerline has this post on how the donations to the Obama campaign by folks like Doodad Pro, and also fraudulent card use, are happening.

Two choices: systemic incompetence or intentional dishonesty.

Neither of which is a positive characteristic in a candidate for the powerful office of president. Perhaps, since we are attacked if we print Barak Hussein Obama's full name, we should substitute Barak Milhouse Obama.
According to Harry Reid and a host of pseudo-experts on American history, Sarah Palin "obviously knows absolutely nothing about our Constitution or our country."

Who is the ignorant buffoon in this instance? Harry Reid, actually, and all the smug but misinformed "know-it-alls" who have been laughing up their sleeves all day.

The Constitution of the United States authorizes the vice president to perform two functions:

1. to assume the powers and duties of the office of chief executive in case the president finds himself incapable of discharging his appointed duties.

2. to preside over the Senate.

Article I, Section 3.

The Vice President of the United States shall be President of the Senate, but shall have no Vote, unless they be equally divided.

The Senate shall chuse their other Officers, and also a President pro tempore, in the Absence of the Vice President, or when he shall exercise the Office of President of the United States.

First of all, please note that this explanation of vice presidential duties comes in Article I, which describes the nature of the legislative branch (the executive is detailed in Article II, the judiciary in Article III). While Article II explains the election of the vice president, and his prescribed role as successor to an incapacitated president, it is Article I that actually articulates the one regular duty of the vice president, presiding over the Senate, which includes several enumerated functions (including breaking tie votes in the Upper Chamber).

Indeed, the framers developed the position of vice president as something of an afterthought, creating the second executive office in early September during the latter weeks of the four-month deliberations that produced the Constitution of the United States in 1787. But, once settled on a second national office, the framers envisioned the vice president as an "ex-officio President of the Senate." Undoubtedly, they had in mind the contemporary lieutenant governors of various states, elected to state-wide office but charged with presiding over their respective legislatures.

Some framers argued on 7 September that the installation of an executive officer, empowered to preside over the proceedings of the Upper House, dangerously diluted the power of the legislative branch. Notwithstanding, the Convention voted to install the vice president despite those fears regarding an inappropriate intermingling of divided powers.

Moreover, the framers clearly expected the vice president to actually fulfill the role of ex-officio president, providing for a temporary replacement selected from the upper body in case of the vice president's absence. Significantly, the framers also provided for an extraordinary instance in which the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court would replace the vice president as presiding officer (during an impeachment trial). This protocol for automatic recusation also affirms the expectation that the vice president would chair the Senate under normal circumstances.

The first vice president, John Adams, seemed to harbor no doubts about his role as president of the Senate and at times even understood his obligation to the legislative as superior to the executive.

From the Senate historian:

Shortly after taking office, he wrote to his friend and supporter Benjamin Lincoln, "The Constitution has instituted two great offices . . . and the nation at large has created two officers: one who is the first of the two . . . is placed at the Head of the Executive, the other at the Head of the Legislative." The following year, he informed another correspondent that the office of vice president "is totally detached from the executive authority and confined to the legislative."

Early on, Adams regularly lectured the Senate and directed the proceedings in a manner his opponents disdained as quite partisan. Eventually, the Senate itself instituted a rule (not a law or a Constitutional amendment) that prohibited the vice president from participating in debate. It was after this insult, that Adams bitterly offered his famous quote concerning the vice presidency: "My country has in its wisdom contrived for me the most insignificant office that ever the invention of man contrived or his imagination conceived."

Thomas Jefferson, who succeeded Adams as the second vice president, happily affirmed the rule of silence, as the Sage of Monticello was famously shy about public speaking.

Therefore, the tradition of a silent vice president and one estranged from the Senate is a long one, but it is not rooted in the Constitution.

How does Joe Biden do as a constitutional scholar?

During the vice-presidential debate in St. Louis, Joe Biden stated unequivocally:

"The idea he [Dick Cheney] doesn't realize that Article I of the Constitution defines the role of the vice president of the United States, that's the Executive Branch. He works in the Executive Branch. He should understand that. Everyone should understand that."

Actually, nobody should understand that because it is wrong. Remember Article I defines the role of the legislative branch.

More Biden: "And the primary role of the vice president of the United States of America is to support the president of the United States of America, give that president his or her best judgment when sought, and as vice president, to preside over the Senate, only in a time when in fact there's a tie vote. The Constitution is explicit."

Actually, the Constitution is not explicit about any of this, and it does not even hint at any advisory role to the president (although that is not an illogical inference). However, the Constitution says nothing about limiting the veep's role as chair of the Senate to merely instances of a tie vote. Wrong again.

More Biden: "The only authority the vice president has from the legislative standpoint is the vote, only when there is a tie vote. He has no authority relative to the Congress. The idea he's part of the Legislative Branch is a bizarre notion invented by Cheney to aggrandize the power of a unitary executive and look where it has gotten us. It has been very dangerous. "

Perhaps bizarre to Biden--and a good opportunity to push a conspiracy theory near and dear to the hearts of the "nutroots"--but not so historically and/or constitutionally unorthodox (Jefferson too espoused this theory). Maybe if President Lincoln could have gotten on TV back during the early 1790s and explained it to the nation, Biden would enjoy a better understanding of this murky reality: the framers confusingly created the vice president with one foot in the two separate branches of government.

In truth, none of this history matters all that much. The nature of the vice presidency is pretty well defined at this point by tradition, history, and modern expectations. However, loud-mouth critics who want to pile on Sarah Palin for her "lack of understanding" regarding American history and the Constitution ought to crack a book before they start spewing.
I voted yesterday in Waco, Texas. In addition to the six or seven generic retired regulars I generally see when I cast my ballot during early voting, I also encountered (literally) scores of citizens seemingly unfamiliar with the venue and/or the system but, nevertheless, gleeful and anxious to participate in the carnival atmosphere. These were young people (likely college students) and many African Americans of all ages.

FYI: I arrived approximately ten minutes after the Elections Office opened for business. There were probably ten Obama supporters outside on the periphery of the parking lot enthusiastically waving signs for their candidate. There were no Republican counterparts.

What lesson do I draw from this scene? This election is over. While I don't think it possible that Barack Obama will take Texas--I look for him to do surprisingly well here. More importantly, look for a lot trouble down-ticket for Republicans (if not in Texas, in a lot of other surprising places).

Why is Obama going to do so well?

1. Give him some credit. He is an amazingly gifted candidate.

2. This is a very bad year for Republicans.

--Why so bad? Because Republicans ran a lousy war. Give Petraeus, Crocker, and Gates credit for saving our asses--but we were in a mess directly connected to Bush administration malfeasance.

--Why so bad? Because Republicans ran a lousy economy. We are ten trillion dollars in debt. We are TEN TRILLION DOLLARS in debt!!! We are $10,000,000,000,000.00 in debt. Forget about all the explanatory noise--Republicans did not lift a finger during their six years in control of Washington to place us on a path to economic sanity.

--Why so bad? Because the Republicans ran a lousy PR campaign. Some of the above could have been justified with the right amount of sincerity and finesse. But it wasn't.

3. Media Manipulation.

As Mark Salter complained the other day, the political reporters in this campaign have covered 2008 with a "thumb on the scale." They are fully invested in an Obama victory, and they are "blunting attacks against Obama even before the candidate can articulate a defense." These guys are in the tank to an extent unprecedented in modern American politics (for comparison sake, see the Washington Globe's coverage of Andrew Jackson circa 1832).

What do I mean? Some examples:

Candidate for president, Barack Obama, the forty-seven year-old, half-term senator from Illinois, is imminently qualified to transform America and the world. On the other hand, candidate for vice president, the forty-four year-old, half-term governor of Alaska, Sarah Palin, is an embarrassment to all right-thinking citizens and proof that John McCain cannot be trusted.

Joe Biden (in reality, the most prolific human gaffe machine since Norm Crosby) is an eloquent and wise statesman of renown, who provides additional depth and understanding to the already exceptionally brilliant former editor of the Harvard Law Review--as if he needed such buttressing. On the other hand, Sarah Palin (who, in reality, has had one bad taped interview with an unfriendly edit) is the tongue-tied airhead with a penchant for mentioning beauty pageants and keeps saying, "I can see Russia from my house."

Barack Obama is his own man and a healer, likely to transcend the cruel racial and partisan divides that afflict our nation, distributing (not to be confused with re-distributing) love and friendship to all Americans. This is the dawning of the age of Obama.

John McCain is Bush redux, incapable of bucking his odious party and slavishly loyal to the discredited Republican orthodoxy. He was not always this way--and this is the tragic part of our tale-- but he sold his soul to the Devil (Karl Rove--who is, in fact, acting as the silent mastermind to his current campaign) in order to gain the presidency at any cost and quench his fierce and blinding ambition.

Barack Obama is the tax reformer who wants to ease the burden on 95 percent of Americans. Believe him. He could not say something like that if it were not true. John McCain, on the other hand, is erratic and consumed by his contempt for our young champion. Sadly, the erstwhile Maverick and operator of the once storied straight-talk express will say anything to get elected. This is all very dishonorable.

And so it goes. I could go on--but what's the point?

Okie Gardener: steak dinner in Cowtown? You're on. If you win, bring the kids and new members of the family. I will gladly pony up for a feast if you are right.
From the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life,

Oct. 27 marks the 10th anniversary of the signing of the International Religious Freedom Act, a law that made the promotion of religious freedom a basic aim of U.S. foreign policy. The passage of the legislation marked the culmination of a campaign of unlikely religious allies, who went on to champion other international human rights causes. Pew Forum Visiting Senior Fellow Allen Hertzke, an eyewitness observer of the birth and growth of the international religious freedom movement and author of Freeing God's Children: The Unlikely Alliance for Global Human Rights (2004), recounts what he witnessed in Washington, D.C., a decade ago and discusses the difference the landmark legislation has made in promoting religious freedom worldwide.

Read the full article.
Category: Politics
Posted by: an okie gardener
I remain cautiously optimistic that McCain/Palin will win this election, and Obama/Biden lose.


*Counter to the media template, the polls are tightening.
*McCain support is looking stronger in Ohio and Florida.
*Joe Biden just spouted off one for the poly-sci textbooks: he said that Obama would be tested seriously in foreign affairs within 6 months in office, and his response would appear at first to be wrong. Not reassuring. Biden still has two weeks to try to control his mouth, which would be a record for him.
*"Joe the Plumber" now has put the S word into the campaign. Is the majority of American voters ready for income redistribution?
*In his contest with Hillary, Obama could not close the deal, and now seems in a similar position as he is unable to get close enough to 50% in the polls.
*In the last primaries against Hillary, Obama did not do as well in actual votes as his poll numbers asserted. On voting day, his vote totals were lower than the exit polling numbers. More people may be lying to pollsters this time around, for fear of being seen as racist. I agree with those who say that if Obama is not up by at least 6% going into election day, he is in trouble.
*It seems that all the dirt on Obama is now starting to stick: ACORN, Rezko, Ayers, Wright, campaign contribution fraud. Even ABC has noticed a few specks on the shining messiah.
*Obama's allies, the MSM and Pelose/Reid & Co., are extremely unpopular with average Americans.

Farmer, I know you are anticipating an Obama win. We'll need to agree on some sort of wager, perhaps a steak in Ft. Worth.
Category: Politics
Posted by: an okie gardener
Christianity Today has two articles worth reading.

This one has some discussion of McCain's faith, and covers his bumpy relationship with evangelicals.

This one on Obama, including how he is reaching out to white evangelicals more effectively than any Democrat candidate since Carter.
Category: Politics
Posted by: an okie gardener
In no particular order. For Obama see this post.

*He's not a Socialist.
* I do not expect him to govern from the left.
*I expect him to nominate less-activist judges than Obama would.
*He may be serious about cutting spending by the Federal Government.
*He is seasoned and experienced.
*I have no doubt he loves America.
*He is honest and open.
*He can laugh at himself.
*He doesn't seem to hold grudges.
*He will not kill the economy with tax increases and income redistribution.
*Palin as VP.
*He gets it that the War against Radical Islam is long, hard, and difficult.
*World bullies, yes I'm thinking of you Russia and you Iran and you China, would hesitate to push McCain, I think.
This link will take you to a website that will list the companies selling gasoline made from USA and Canadian petroleum.

Sinclair is perhaps the most common.

Citizen Warrior has more; as does the Infidel Bloggers Alliance.

In the last several decades we have made the largest transfer of wealth in history from Europe, Japan, and the U.S. to the oil-producing nations. The billions of dollars transfered to many nations in the Middle East, most noticably Saudi Arabia, have funded militant Islam around the globe. Buy gas from Saudi Arabia and support terrorism.

Mariner posted a comment that deserves a wider read:

I won't get into the macro-level concerns against movements like these, but instead I'll point out a few errors in the cited material:

1) The Citizen Warrior article contains a link to a chart showing percentage of crude oil imports coming from the Persian Gulf. (

Errors here:
a)The Persian Gulf as defined here includes Iraq. Natural, for a purely geographic definition, but in this case, we as Americans WANT to buy Iraqi oil! If we want to have a stable Iraq, if we want to lower our troop numbers there (and limit American deaths), we NEED an economically viable Iraqi government. This hinges on oil exports. Conservatives of all people should be first lining up to buy Iraqi oil.
b) As alluded to earlier, "Persian Gulf" as a political designation is very difficult to support. Yes, the Saudi government has supported madrassas which have supported terrorist training. They should be out. Hell no, we shouldn't support Iran. But the UAE, Kuwait, Qatar, Bahrain? We would have no military presence in the Gulf if not for the support of these countries (Navy base in Bahrain, Air Force base in Qatar, major Army post in Kuwait.) I'm having a tough time buying a boycott of these countries.
c) Again, the "Persian Gulf" designation: this list focuses on one region (which we've already seen is 2/3 wrong anyway) to the detriment of others. What about gas from Venezuela? Russia? Citgo is transparent enough: it = Hugo Chavez. Oil from GazProm or LukOil (both Russia) is more difficult to distinguish, and should be pointed out. Also, some of the companies listed as "good" for low percentages of gulf oil do far more damage elsewhere. Shell, for example, is hand-in-glove with the Nigerian government, ranked the most corrupt in the world. I personally don't buy Shell gasoline, because the amount of human suffering inflicted in Nigeria as a result of its and the government's policies is astronomical.

2) The Terror-free oil initiative:

a) They lose for sheer logical disconnect. The two categories for oil companies? "Companies that do not import oil from the Persian Gulf" and "Companies that finance terrorism by importing oil from the Middle East". Apples and oranges between Persian Gulf and Middle East, for one. Two, it's a mere tautology to speak of Persian Gulf equaling Terror-support. Trust me, *most* governments in the Middle East (or Persian Gulf, if you prefer) have as much if not more to fear from Islamic extremism as we do.
b) Maybe a little more nit-picking, but the list of "good" companies includes a caveat for Hess and Sunoco, as they import oil from Algeria, "home of GIA and GSPC." First, the GSPC doesn't exist anymore - it's now AQIM, but that's just a detail. More importantly, the GIA and GSPC's primary enemy and raison d'etre is the Algerian government. Who gets oil revenue, and uses a portion of this revenue to finance anti-terrorism operations? - the government. [We equip and train these troops, too]

I think most of these errors come down to portraying the entire situation in too broad of terms: It's purely "us" and "them", regardless of who "they" actually ARE. That's misidentifying the problem; the solution is misidentified as well. I fully recognize the value of conservative viewpoints, but economic isolationism is a 19th century solution to a 21st century problem - I don't think it will work.

Granted: the category "Persian Gulf" is too simple and misleading. And agreed, Venezuala and Russia should not be encouraged right now with our oil money. Agreed, no oil money to Saudi Arabia or Iran. Re: "economic isolationism," I still think it is a tremendous problem for us in transfering so much wealth to other nations. And, there are two things no nation can be dependent on and survive long as an independent nation--food and energy.
FROM WIKI: White privilege is a sociological concept that describes advantages purportedly enjoyed by white persons beyond that which is commonly experienced by non-white people in those same social, political, and economic spaces (nation, community, workplace, income, etc.). It differs from racism or prejudice in that a person benefiting from white privilege may not necessarily hold racist beliefs or prejudices themselves. Often, the person benefiting is unaware of his or her supposed privilege.

Today I escorted my sixty-six year-old mother to the Department of Public Safety in Waco. Having recently moved from Southern California to Central Texas, she sought to obtain an in-state driver's license. However, our ostensibly mundane mission proved surprisingly impossible. My mom ran into a bureaucratic buzz saw--and the buzz saw won.

What happened?

Texas DPS requires proof of identification in order to issue a Texas Driver's License, of course. We wouldn't have it any other way. For the three-tiered system of verification, see this link.

How my mom ran afoul of the system:

She has a Texas birth certificate issued in Marlin, Texas, circa 1942. She has a social security card re-issued by the feds circa 1990. She has a current California driver's license issued circa 2004. She has numerous credit cards, insurance cards, medicare cards, prescription drug cards, local utility bills, newly issued car registration from the state of Texas, myriad local homeowner documents, and proof of a relationship with a Waco bank. But her 1942 birth certificate did not anticipate her subsequent name changes (she has been married twice). To further complicate things, she dropped her given "first name" decades ago. These inconsistencies make the state of Texas very suspicious.

Bottom Line: unless she has her name legally changed (birth certificate amended) and/or brings in her two marriage licenses and certificate of divorce, the Lone Star State cannot sanction her as a legal Texas driver.

As I was unexpectedly drawn into this tawdry drama at the counter of the local DPS, a slow realization came over me: we were not in Kansas (or even Texas) anymore. In a very short time, our way of life has changed dramatically. We have crossed over into a brave new world in which regulations trump common sense, community, and, more importantly, consanguinity. As I attempted to explain to Ms. (let's call her) Ramirez and Trooper (let's call him) Gonzales that my mom was "okay," it occurred to me that the old days of sixty-six year-old white grandmothers automatically getting the benefit of the doubt were fading fast.

This is not a new observation. We have seen and heard the jokes about nuns being "frisked" at the airport while Saddam Hussein and Osama bin Laden look-a-likes stride past security checkpoints undeterred. To be fair, we are told, we have to be random. If we don't frisk the grandmas, we are racial profiling. But in Waco, Texas? Do we have to be this unreasonable and uncompromising in this venue?

Ms. Ramirez and Trooper Gonzales assured us that these procedures existed for our own protection. Although I can tell you that those sentiments did not sooth our pique.

Of course, the ID regulations are a product of the post-September-11th world. I have said this before, but it bears repeating: May the Terrorists Burn in Hell!!!

But there is more to this anecdote than just anti-terrorism. This is zero tolerance. And zero tolerance is the opposite of (perhaps even the antidote to) white privilege. How can you combat white privilege? Make all men (and grandmothers) exactly equal before an entirely heartless bureaucracy. "Come on. You know us. It's okay." What am I really saying? Come on. We're white and upstanding. We're okay. No dice. Not anymore.

Evidently, white privilege does not go very far these days. Is that a good thing? Undoubtedly, many of us are reading this right now and applauding, saying that white privilege needs to go. And, almost certainly, many of us are reading this right now denying that white privilege even exists.

An Aside: white privilege does exist. Believe me. Not just white privilege--but white entitlement. We were very angry. We were hurt. We felt extremely mistreated. We deserved some consideration--but, instead, we received a cold-blooded ruling based on a lifeless code of rules and regulations. And, quite frankly, right or wrong, fair or unfair, we suspected that Trooper Gonzales may have enjoyed exercising his power over us to make our lives less convenient.

In truth, over time, millions of persons of color (and plenty of others of just plain low means) have faced the same frustration and humiliation that we encountered today. Tonight, my heart goes out to them more than ever.

On the other hand, treating us all like a subhuman species of non-verified potential criminals cannot be the only answer. Somewhere between white privilege and zero tolerance there has to be some middle ground. It was abundantly clear to any rational observer that my mom was not Muhammad Atta. Somebody ought to have the courage to look at her ten pieces of ID (even when none of them conform exactly to the prescribed code), and make a humane common sense decision.

What's more, we really did deserve some consideration. Not because we are white, but because my mom has spent sixty-six years following the rules and establishing herself as a model citizen. Her son teaches at the community college. Her daughter-in-law works for the local university. Her brother works for the county. We are good folks and assets to the community. We deserve the benefit of the doubt.

We need to figure out a way to get this right. Discrimination based on race was an abomination. Erasing discrimination based on common sense and merit is a foolish policy that will eventually destroy the fabric of our society.

Good citizenship ought to have its privileges.
I wrote this piece for another venue (it was "give a conservative the mike night" at Osler's Razor). But I thought some of you might find it interesting.

Recently, a Saturday Night Live skit skewered Nancy Pelosi, Barney Frank, George Soros, “deadbeat” homebuyers, speculators, and Herb and Marion Sandler for their roles in the mortgage meltdown. Pretty clever. To my great surprise, it proved insightfully critical of Democrats.

Then, last week, without explanation, the clip disappeared off the program's website. Why? According to spokespersons from SNL and NBC, when pressed for answers, the bit "didn't meet [their] standards."


It did not meet SNL standards? Really!?!

What standards exactly? Standards of accuracy? Good taste? Fairness? Standards? Really!?!

Do you remember the one about (fill in your favorite tasteless SNL moment here)? But this one did not meet your standards?


No harm, no foul—I suppose. After a lot of wailing and gnashing of teeth on the conservative blogosphere, the skit is back on the website—but, come now, standards?


The Good News: the Tina Fey/Sarah Palin material, evidently, continues to live up to all aforementioned SNL “standards.”

Does the Media lean left? Pretty hard to name a sitcom or drama with a conservative undertone. There is no conservative late night talk show or equivalent to SNL. I cannot think of a conservative David E. Kelly or Aaron Sorkin. Or, for some of us old timers, a conservative Norman Lear. Anybody?

Are there logical reasons for this? Certainly. Creative folks are naturally more prone to a “liberal” sensibility. Entertainment is a product of New York and L.A. Conservatives just aren’t that funny?

Am I whining? I don’t think so. I don’t mean to be. I have come to accept the world as it is. I am not one to rail against the liberal bias of the mainstream media. I am, in fact, a big fan of Saturday Night Live, and I have been, literally, since the very beginning.

I suffer their politics because I enjoy their art. Such is life. The perfect is often the enemy of the good.

Important Confession: I am also a big fan of NPR. I admire their artistry. I acknowledge their left-leaning bias, which often colors their coverage of Republicans and conservatives in unflattering and unfriendly ways. Nevertheless, I appreciate the skill and erudition that permeates every aspect of their operation.

However, there are times when the subtle bias of NPR makes me cringe. The other morning I was listening to a story about a bell-weather county in Indiana in which the poor NPR correspondent, Howard Burkes, dutifully reported on three ignoramuses who wondered whether they could vote for a Muslim. Berkes immediately inserted into the audio narrative, with his well-modulated authority, a correction: “of course, he [Obama] has always been a Christian.” Later, a more enlightened white voter asserted (without challenge): "If Obama were a white man, I'd say he'd be way out in front here and nationally."

According to reputable national polls, approximately 90 percent of voters understand that Barack Obama is a professing Christian. Give national news organizations credit for digging up the ignorant tenth in disproportionate numbers to buttress the obligatory mention of the most famously false accusation in American history. Then, the corrective from Berkes: “he’s always been a Christian.” From birth? Funny—but also a cultural commentary that even this basic fact of Protestant Christianity somehow eluded this top national reporter. This is a mistake you might expect from one trying to make sense of a foreign culture. More importantly, it also omits a telling episode in the life of the candidate (the way in which Obama came to Christ). And then there is the ubiquitous assertion that “race” is somehow holding back this candidate. Presumably, if he were white (like John Kerry, Al Gore, Mike Dukakis, Walter Mondale, or George McGovern), Barack Obama would be fourteen points ahead by now.

As I say, I love NPR—but this story is just another example of the unexamined assumptions that permeate even the best reporting in America.

Again, don’t hear me complaining. But I do get a little frustrated when I hear liberals rail against FOX News and other arms of the conservative media as somehow egregiously biased (compared, presumably, to the mainstream media culture).

FULL DISCLOSURE: I should mention that I do not watch FOX News on a regular basis. Why? I have an ultra-frugal cable package, which, blessedly, does not offer FOX News, CNN, MSNBC, or the Cartoon Network. Thanks be to God. However, my package does come with C-SPAN 1 & 2 (my wife has long suspected some kind of conspiracy regarding that piece of good fortune). FYI: there is no skullduggery involved—I am just lucky that way.

Having said that, I do monitor FOX News—and feel competent to comment on the following question:

How is FOX News different from the other network and cable news organizations?

Fox is not under the delusion of "objectivity." The liberal mainstream media labors under the self-serving certainty that they are reporting the news of the day in an objective way.

No matter how many studies show that an obscenely high percentage of "Beltway" reporters vote for Democratic candidates, mainstream reporters continue to argue that their personal politics do not impinge on their ability to report the news in a detached manner. They are professionals. In their own minds, they are expertly objective.

I have always believed that the FOX News slogan, "fair and balanced," was partly a parody of the mainstreamer’s tortured self-perception.

What do I mean by that?

Most of the Fox pioneers were veteran reporters and producers from the mainstream orgs (think Britt Hume formerly of ABC News). They had toiled in the fields of their oppressors for years. When they broke free and raised their own flag, they signaled their independence and defiance with a series of slogans like "We Report, You Decide" and "Fair and Balanced."

Moreover, they knew well that the competition would see FOX as conservatives reporting the news through a lens of conservatism. But they also knew that their liberal counterparts would NOT see FOX as their mirror image; the established media would continue to see themselves as faithful adherents to the sacred calling of objectivity; they would see FOX News as unwashed infidels desecrating the holy temple of objective journalism.

The FOX News brain trust fully expected that their conservative cable news network would make the mainstream newspersons apoplectic. Furthermore, I am convinced that they think the whole situation is quite hilarious.

Bottom Line: it really comes down to whose ox is getting gored. FOX viewers appreciate a reading and framing of the news sympathetic to conservatism. This makes some non-conservatives very angry. Liberals should calm down, be more generous, and let conservatives have one news outlet.
Category: Politics
Posted by: an okie gardener
Astute Bloggers has gathered all the information into one place on the massive vote fraud problem coming with this election. Looks like we'll see fraud on a scale that will make 2000 and 2004 seem clean by comparison. Also, tensions have been built up such that if it is a McCain victory, we can expect violence.

Welcome to bananna republic politics.

Link via Infidel Blogger's Alliance.

Category: The Economy
Posted by: Martian Mariner
Thomas Friedman has a lucid commentary on the causes of the current financial crisis in today's NYT: Why How Matters

A quote which well summarizes his argument:

You cannot tell tens of thousands of people that they can have the American dream — a home, for no money down and nothing to pay for two years — without that eventually catching up to you. The Puritan ethic of hard work and saving still matters.

I don't always agree with the NYT (see here), but she's still got some good things to say, especially when Tom Friedman's the one saying them.
Category: Politics
Posted by: an okie gardener
In no particular order, the reasons I am not voting for Obama. (reasons for McCain later)

*Not accomplished enough. He has never run a business and met a payroll; or accomplished serious things in politics; nor does he have a list of serious publications detailing a political philosophy.

*He is not seasoned enough. It appears that his greatest testing came from the nomination contest with Hillary Clinton.

*His hubris. In spite of his weak record, he thinks he is qualified to be President of the United States. And, as Farmer pointed out, he cannot admit mistakes. He also seems unable to laugh at himself, or tolerate it when others laugh at him.

*His voting record in the United States Senate is the most liberal of that body; quite a feat in a group that includes Ted Kennedy and John Kerry.

*His political style is Chicago intimidation. Attack his critics personally as racist, distort their records, ally himself with voter fraud (do a web search for ACORN and OBAMA).

*He defended killing or allowing to die infants born alive during abortions.

*His long association with Hate Americans such as Jeremiah Wright, Bill Ayers, and others.

*His slippery half-truths and omissions when confronted about his past associations. Obama makes Tricky Dick Nixon seem straightforward.

*His long association with socialists and other leftists makes me assume that his governing philosophy will be hard left.

*I expect a president Obama to nominate judicial activist judges.

*The Democrats probably will control Congress after the elections. Obama in the White House will give Dems a free hand to do whatever they wish to the country.

*Michelle. Notice that she is being kept out of the news. She has a record of hating America, and being whiny and demanding in her jobs.

*I really do want a black president some day. But, I want this step up from our past to be accomplished by someone who will succeed. Someone with a track record of accomplishment.

*Obama seems lost without his teleprompter. His long pauses and stutters during unscripted speaking makes me think he is not quick on his feet.

*He seems naive about foreign policy, and on a deep level naive about power relations in the real world.

*His biggest executive decision so far of the General Election campaign: choosing Joe Biden as his running mate.
Today I opened my most recent retirement account statement from my time at Baylor. Ouch. Down has it gone since the last statement.

And I blame Barak Obama the and Democrats. Here.

If there is justice in our country, then the losers on election day will include Obama, Franks, and Dodd.
Category: Politics
Posted by: A Waco Farmer
John Lewis: "Sen. McCain and Gov. Palin are sowing the seeds of hatred and division, and there is no need for this hostility in our political discourse."

Lewis also compares McCain and Palin to George Wallace, likening their 2008 campaign rhetoric to the incendiary political speech that contributed to the 1963 16th Street Baptist Church bombing in Birmingham that killed four young girls.

See the full statement from the civil rights icon here.

McCain's reaction (as reported by ABC News):

"Congressman John Lewis' comments represent a character attack against Governor Sarah Palin and me that is shocking and beyond the pale. The notion that legitimate criticism of Senator Obama's record and positions could be compared to Governor George Wallace, his segregationist policies and the violence he provoked is unacceptable and has no place in this campaign."

"I am saddened that John Lewis, a man I've always admired, would make such a brazen and baseless attack on my character and the character of the thousands of hardworking Americans who come to our events to cheer for the kind of reform that will put America on the right track."

"I call on Senator Obama to immediately and personally repudiate these outrageous and divisive comments that are so clearly designed to shut down debate 24 days before the election. Our country must return to the important debate about the path forward for America."


Just when I was getting ready to sit back and make the most out of defeat, these guys keep kicking sand in my face.

A huge number of white people in this nation, for a myriad of reasons, desperately want to elect the first African American president of the United States. Am I saying that this sentiment is unanimous? No. Undoubtedly, there are large numbers of whites in America who are horrified at the thought of a black president. Having said that, I have a VERY STRONG hunch that the number of citizens who will cast their vote for a forty-seven-year-old political neophyte because he is black dwarfs the contingent of voters who will vote against him solely because of race.

For me, the potential good that might come as a result of a black president (simply because he is black) is something of a counterweight to the potentially disastrous scenario of a Democratically controlled White House and Congress. But, the axis of liberalism (the academy, Hollywood, and the mainstream media) is not about to let me enjoy this "silver lining" aspect of my impending defeat.

The liberal establishment in this country has a huge stake in the accepted notion that I am a racist. Why else would a middle-class American continue to vote Republican? Answer: because I am a simpleton who does not understand my own interests. The GOP waves the bloody shirt of race hatred, homophobia, and evangelical sophistry in front of my face, and I start salivating like Pavlov's pooch.

Not too long ago America was "too racist" to elect Obama. But as his election grows more probable, we are now forced to swallow news analysis like the David von Drehle piece in TIME, which argues that as the economy falters, white America has no choice but to accept Obama. Economic fear trumps race prejudice. I suppose this assumption is based on the well-known fact that Barack Obama is an expert on the economy.

Of course, this attack by John Lewis on John McCain is more in keeping with the old playbook. Back when the Obama Nation was chastising that well-known racist, Bill Clinton, for his incendiary comments, this thought kept running through my mind: what did he say, exactly?

The accepted evidence that served as the baseline for every one of those "racist Bill" stories was that Clinton repeatedly spewed patently racist comments during the campaign. But every time I read or viewed some form of that story line, it always reminded my of one of those Wikipedia entries in which some statement is followed by the phrase "[citation needed]."

What did he say? When did he say it? Where? What was the quote exactly?

In reality, Clinton simply suggested that the main reason better than 90 percent of African American Democratic primary voters (ironically, previously nearly 100-percent loyal to him) were now voting for an unknown African American candidate might be that Obama himself was an African American.

Was that racist? polarizing? unfair? implausible?

Polarizing maybe. But, seriously folks, did anyone ever really believe Clinton's assertion to be anything other than manifestly correct?

Now Johnny McCain and Sarah Palin are racist (again).


Because the McCain-Palin campaign has asserted that Barack Obama "pals around with a terrorist," which may or may not be true. We will probably never know. Why? Rather than address the true nature of the relationship with Bill Ayres, the Obama campaign and his "willing accomplices" in the prObama press shout down the question as racist.

When the Keating Five history comes up, McCain addresses the charge rationally and methodically. It is, in fact, an unfair charge--but we understand why it comes up (over and over again). McCain had a relationship with Charles Keating. Every official and/or objective entity that has ever looked at the imbroglio agrees that McCain showed poor judgment but did nothing (ABSOLUTELY NOTHING) illegal or unethical.

But it continues to come up, and McCain continues to refute the charge. It is an association that invariably invites many questions.

How is "Ayres and Obama" different?

Part of it is style. Barack Obama has a strong tendency to be right all the time. He was right to say he would meet with rogue leaders without preconditions. Actually, he waffles on that one. Either he did not really say it, or, he said it, and he was right to say it--and now all of McCain's smartest advisers agree that he was right to say it. What he never says is that he misspoke.

He was right to say that the SURGE would not work. Actually, he waffles on that too, alternating between the SURGE really did not work and nobody in their right mind could have expected it to work--and it would have actually worked better if it had not worked. But never, "thankfully, I was wrong about the surge."

On Ayres: it doesn't really matter because Obama was eight years old when Ayres committed acts of terror, and he does not really know the man that well, and, if he does know him well, which he might, it is okay because Ayres is a college professor and a strong ally of Mayor Daley. But, in truth, none of it matters because the whole issue is soaked with racism and should be disqualified on that count. Next Question!!!

This has some backfire potential. John Lewis should have let sleeping dogs lie.
Category: From the Heart
Posted by: A Waco Farmer
I said, Grandpa what's this picture here?
Its all black and white; it aint real clear; is that you there?
He said, yeah, I was eleven; times were tough back in '35.
That's me and Uncle Joe just tryin to survive a cotton farm in the Great Depression.

If it looks like we were scared to death,
like a couple of kids just trying to save each other,
you should've seen it in color.

On an unofficial den outing this afternoon, I drove my six-year-old Cub Scout (and my nine-year-old civilian) out of town to a cornfield in Central Texas. On another busy weekend in another hectic month in another insanely harried semester, honestly, I was not looking forward to this time-consuming excursion. Leaving Waco in caravan, traveling north on I-35, we exited the interstate at Elm Mott, traveling northeast on FM 308 past Leroy. A few miles short of Birome, we cut-off onto an unpaved gravel county road and proceeded to the Kaska Family Farm for some bucolic diversion.

Like many of us, I have been distracted lately. I spent the first half hour in transit rolling down the highway at 88 feet per second, listening to the final minutes of the Red River Shootout on my car radio, and generally ignoring the children inside and the changing landscape outside my air-conditioned sedan. I spent the first few minutes on the "farm" paying the price of admission, scoping out the "attractions," and surveying the lay of the land--but not really seeing, listening, or feeling.

I was stressed, depressed, and detached. So much so, in fact, that I was blind and deaf to the land. This is somewhat unusual for me. While I have absolutely no inherited skill as a farmer, I tend toward sentimentality when I traverse the byways of Central Texas. In an almost mystical way, I often hear the echoes of generations of share croppers and hard-scrabble forebears when I travel the back roads of my ancestral home.

At some point, thankfully, amazingly, on a warm fall day under a shimmering blue sky, I finally heard the rustling of corn stalks. Awakening from my stupor, I heard the soft but reassuring and immutable pastoral song of life:

This is the real world. This is the natural world. Life began here. Life is renewed here. Life is grown here.

These rolling hills will be here when the titans of Wall Street are long gone.

These are the verdant pastures that have comforted the soul of man for millennia. This natural cathedral is the antidote to the Valley of the Shadow of Death.

After taking in deep breaths of this reinvigorating and cleansing fresh air, we headed back toward town. This time, though, with our windows down and senses open to the sights and sounds and smells of the land. We did not try to connect with the interstate on the return trip. Instead, we turned left at Leroy, passing a rural cemetery and the Baptist/Methodist Church, where the sign read: "WHAT ROLE ARE YOU PLAYING IN GOD'S UNIVERSE?"

Country music is appropriate on these farm-to-market roads, as it so often celebrates the interconnectedness and fragility of the human experience.

Ohh and this one here was taken over seas,
in the middle of hell in 1943, in the winter time;
you can almost see my breath.
That was my tail gunner, ole Johnny Magee.
He was a high school teacher from New Orleans.
And he had my back, right through the day we left.

If it looks like we were scared to death,
like a couple of kids just trying to save each other,
you should've seen it in color.

A picture's worth a thousand words,
but you can't see what those shades of gray keep covered,
you should've seen it in color.

Unlike other forms of popular music, country and western presupposes a value system based on the cyclical beauty of the agrarian life as well as the innumerable and wholly unpredictable dangers of the natural world. Country music trades on a community memory of a time in which families were at once fragile and dependent but also rugged and self-sufficient.

Passing silos, tractors, and farm houses, we stretched our thirty-minute return trip into forty-five. Awakening from a modern funk, it was good to be reminded visually that there were, of course, still vast expanses of land just outside my city limits. Land where real people grew food and raised livestock and faced the trials of a countryside still untamed in many ways.

And the songs about Jesus, redemption, making it through the hard times, and the hand of God in the lives of good folks kept coming.

This one is my favorite one.
This is me and grandma in the summer sun,
all dressed up the day we said our vows.
You can't tell it here, but it was hot that June,
and that rose was red, and her eyes were blue,
and just look at that smile--I was so proud.
That's the story of my life, right there in black and white.

And if it looks like we were scared to death.
like a couple of kids just trying to save each other,
you should've seen it in color.

A pictures worth a thousand words, but you can't see what those shades of gray keep covered.

You should have seen it in color.

We are a people with a tradition. We are a people of the land. We have faced hard times. We have survived hard times. The Good Lord willing, and the Creek don't rise, we will persevere through this time of difficulty.

These people of the land, "clinging to their God and their guns," are fighters. They have much to tell us. We should listen more.

For your viewing pleasure: Jamey Johnson - In Color: Video.
Jihadwatch reminds us that October is the month in which Charles Martel and his Frankish army defeated Islamic invaders near Tours. This battle is called the Battle of Tours, or, the Battle of Poitiers.

For some time after conquering the Iberian penninsula, the Muslims had raided into Gaul, and contested Christian rule there. Finally, in 732 an army of about 80,000 led by Emir Abdul Rahman Al Ghafiqi, pushed into Gaul. Charles met them near Tours with an army about half their size. The victory by Charles Martel saved Western Europe from Islamic conquest.

So, if you prefer the Europe of cathedrals, to the averted fate of Europe with mosques, then raise a glass to The Hammer this month.

To read more, here, and here, and here is an account from an anonymour Muslim chronicler. And here excerpts from 3 medieval accounts.

Are we at the end of the Goodfellas Era
of the American Century?

But now Paulie could do anything. Like run up bills on the joint's credit.

And why not? Nobody will pay for it anyway.

Take deliveries at the front door and sell it out the back at a discount.

Take a two-hundred dollar case of booze and sell it out for a hundred dollars.

It doesn't matter. It's all profit.

Then finally, when there's nothing left...

...when you can't borrow another buck from the bank... bust the joint out.

You light a match.

ONE MORE. Explain this:

For years we have clucked at the Chinese for establishing an economy on the backs of working people who labor under sweatshop conditions at slave wages. We don't want that kind of an economy. We want to send all our citizens to college and teach them to earn a living with their brains not their brawn.

My question: why are those poor ignorant bastards the only folks with any savings and the only nation on the face of the earth with solvent banks?
Category: General
Posted by: an okie gardener
Tonight the wife and I saw An American Carol in a theater in Lawton, Oklahoma. Just four of us in the multiplex room for the 5:30 showing. Too bad.

The film is humorous throughout, and laugh-out-loud funny in spots. I won't summarize the plot, since I assume you've seen the trailers, or at least have seen or read A Christmas Carol. This movie resembles director David Zucker's other works--Airplane, Naked Gun, Scary Movie--with verbal gags and sight gags. Kevin Farley carries the movie reasonably well as Michael Malone (Michael Moore) and Kelsey Grammer get the most screen time of the ghosts as General Patton. I think the most effective work is done by Jon Voight as the ghost of George Washington. Every sacred cow of liberalism gets gored.

At its core, the movie portrays two antithetical world-views. On one side, those who believe that other peoples, nations and their leaders are basically decent, and only would attack us if we provoked them. Since Islamic terrorists are attacking us, we must have done something to provoke them. If we only could change our nation into a pacifist, socialist utopia, and then sit down and talk with our attackers, everything would be well. On the other side, those who believe that some other peoples, nations and their leaders are evil, and mean us harm for reasons that will not change even if we apologize to them for existing.

If you are in the latter category, you'll enjoy the movie.

09/10: More Jazz

Category: American Culture
Posted by: an okie gardener
Instapundit links to an Amazon promotion listing "1000 Recordings to Hear Before You Die."

Here is their choice of 133 jazz recordings.

Of course I have some quibbles: Light as a Feather to represent the work of Chick Correa? Give me a break.

A serious, serious omission: John Coltrane Complete 1961 Village Vanguard Recordings. Even though this music was recorded 47 years ago, it still sounds like its coming at you from the future. I don't mean "futuristic" in the sense of gimmicks; I mean a body of work so complex and complete, so perfect, that it transcends simple chronology to achieve the timelessness of a true masterpiece. I have posted on this recording before.
Category: American Culture
Posted by: an okie gardener
A while back I did a post on the greatest jazz drummer of all time, the man many regard as simply the best drummer ever--Buddy Rich.

And now, as a break from politics, a few of the other greats, men who deserve to be mentioned in the same post as Mr. Rich.

Gene Krupa. When Buddy Rich was young, Krupa was the man he was measured against. Krupa biography. The man helped develop the modern drum set or drum kit, and created the definitive role for the drummer within a jazz orchestra. The Gene Krupa Band in a 1941 movie; yes, that trumpet soloist was black--Krupa integrated his band much earlier than most. If "Drum Boogie" does not make you want to get up and swing dance, then check your pulse. The Gene Krupa Quartet, "Swing, Swing, Swing." And finally, Gene and Buddy go stick-to-stick.

Louis Bellson. Biography. You have perhaps heard of his wife, Pearl Bailey. Though overshadowed by Krupa and Rich, both men admired Belson. In fact, during a hospitalization Rich asked Belson to fill in for him. The Louis Belson Band. (Yes, a jazz drummer is not great unless he can lead a band.) A drum solo. And, Bellson and Rich mano-y-mano.

Billy Cobham. Biography. Born in Panama, the only one of these drummers who could step over to play rock and fusion when he chose. With Ron Carter and Herbie Hancock doing traditional jazz combo work. In a fusion mood.

There are very good young drummers out there today, catch a listen to Dave Weckl, for example; jazz replenishes itself each generation. These four are the O.D.'s, the Original Drummers whose influence continues.
I am not sure what this is worth, but will offer the following for consideration.

I teach an American History Course on Ft. Sill over the lunch hour. The class is mixed military and civilian, many of the civilians being post workers or military spouses.

I was surveying the 90s today, and the Clinton Administration. I remarked about Clinton still providing fodder for late-night comedians. Blank looks. I asked, "You folks have heard the Clinton jokes on late night TV haven't you?" Negative response. "Do any of you watch Letterman, Leno, Conan, Ferguson?" Negative responses.

It turns out that NO ONE in my class watches the late-night comedy/talk shows, even on Friday night. It's not that they did watch and for some reason quit watching. They just do not and have not watched these programs.

I knew that today's youth watch far less TV than previous age cohorts, instead playing video games, chatting on the internet, or watching videos. But I had no idea so many are unaware of the monologues.

If my class is anywhere close to representative, then the late-night comics are not affecting the youth vote by their monologues on Old McCain, Moose Hunter Sarah, or Hair Plug Biden. (Rarely do I hear or read jokes about Obama on late night.)
Assertion: Every American adult should pay Federal Income Taxes.

(1) At present we have a severe disconnection between what we demand from the Federal Government, and any sense that such demands will cost us anything. Paying Federal income tax reminds us that nothing is free.

(2) At present, it is too easy for the majority of Americans, who pay little or no Federal taxes, to demand increased services because someone else will be paying for them. This places politicians in the position of promising more and more to the masses in order to gain votes ("Promising to rob Peter to pay Paul usually will gain the vote of Paul") while threatening to destroy the producers of wealth (see "The Goose Who Laid the Golden Egg"). Such practice could eventually mean the end of Democracy through demagoguery (see Plato, The Republic).

(3) The present system described above works against virtues such as industry and prudence, and encourages vices such as imprudence and sloth (turning "The Ant and the Grasshopper" upside down).

(4) At present too few people pay attention to decisions made by the Federal government. Most adult Americans know more about their favorite sports team, than about their Congressional delegation. Paying Federal income taxes would give every American adult a vested interest in knowing what the Federal government is doing.

Assertion: Except during declared emergencies such as war, Federal spending and Federal taxes should be yoked together such that the percentage increase, or decrease, in Federal spending is matched by the same percentage increase or decrease in the amount of Federal taxes paid by each individual.

(1) Such a linkage would reinforce Reasons (1) and (2) above.
(2) Americans would be motivated to demand less spending by the Federal government in order that taxes would decrease.

Assertion: this plan still would work with a progressive system of income taxation.

(1) An increase in spending leading to a corresponding increase in taxes, for example 3%, is noticable whether that means the individual's tax increases $30,000 per year, or $30.
UPDATE: My slot on Political Vindication Radio described below has been postponed for one week. PLease tune in next Tuesday, October 14th.

This Tuesday (October 7th, 8:00 CDT), I will be a guest on Political Vindication Radio. Always an honor to sit in with Frank and Shane. This week's topics: some discussion on the Palin-Biden debate and a few thoughts on democracy.

In that vein, here is a snippet of a conversation from last week on Osler's Razor (following the House vote in the negative on Monday). I averred that, "the will of the people is not always the same as the public interest. This is why self government based on representation by courageous statesmen is far superior to the tyranny of the majority (see James Madison et al, 1787)."

Professor Osler countered:

Madison knew what he was doing. He constructed a government (through the Constitution) with two features that play directly into this outcome:

1) The lower house of the legislature would be elected, in whole, every two years.

2) All spending bills must originate in that lower house.

Madison, then, said that spending would be controlled by people who are constantly up for election. That seems to me to be a system which demands that proposed spending bills respond to the desires of the electorate, which is what happened today.

I replied:

Your historical analysis is spot-on concerning the Lower Chamber; it really is (as intended by Madison) the people's house.

On the other hand, Madison knew there would be rare times when even the House needed to defy the People and take its lumps.

The [Rescue] was/is a moment when representatives need to lead rather than follow.

A statesman who loves his office more than the public good is a politician. We had a few too many politicians in this country this afternoon [last Monday].

Professor Osler had also taken me to task for my lack of " small government, the will of the people, or the basic and broad intelligence of Americans."

As for the "broad wisdom of the people," it is amazing to me how often it really is correct. Our history of "getting things right" collectively so often over time is almost enough to make one believe in Providence.

However, there are also numerous instances in which the broad wisdom of the majority is just flat wrong: 200 years of insensitivity on race comes to mind.

Also, I think this thread [Osler's] began with you chastising popular ignorance on offshore drilling. A large majority of Americans demand offshore drilling. Should they be given their head?

A more optimistic (or perhaps pessimistic) reading of democracy is that this week may bring an abrupt awakening. The people are feeling like this is someone else's problem right now. If the crisis begins to snowball in the days to come, we may very well see a throbbing electorate feeling suddenly at risk and clamoring for action.

End Loose Quote.

In closing, let me be clear, Madison was no fan of democracy. The democratic revolution of the early nineteenth century was Jeffersonian and Jacksonian--not Madisonian. The Constitution throws a bone to democracy with the Lower House, but, in truth, the framework of 1787 was established to hold back democracy, "to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity...."

As Madison and Alexis de Tocqueville well knew, there are some serious perils to democracy. Join us for the conversation on Tuesday [NEXT TUESDAY--see note above)--or listen to the archive (as, unfortunately, the program runs concurrent to the McCain-Obama debate).
The conservative Diocese of Pittsburgh voted to split from the Episcopal Church. The plan is to remain within Anglicanism and unite with a South American Anglican province. Story here.

Pittsburgh joins the Diocese of San Joaquin in splitting. This fall two more Diocese will take their final votes on leaving--Quincy, Illinois, and Ft. Worth, Texas.

The issue is Biblical Interpretation in general, and same-sex practice in particular.

While I am not predicting Civil War, I will point out that we saw denominations split over slavery in the decades leading up to Secession. Slavery was one issue this nation could not solve politically and so did by force of arms. The inability of the Christian denominations to resolve the slavery issue and remain united previewed the political split.

As a nation we are divided on several cultural issues--abortion, same-sex marriage, etc. The splits in the churches probably tells us that there is no compromise solution possible in our national life. We will continue to fight over the issues.
Category: Politics
Posted by: an okie gardener

Everything you need to know about the Sub-Prime Loan mess we now are in, and as taxpayers are now committed to bailing out.
Category: American Culture
Posted by: an okie gardener

British model Lily Cole posing for the French edition of Playboy. My problem is with the cover: Cold has a very young looking face (she is 20) and is posing with a large teddy bear and has her hair in pigtails.

She is participating in the ongoing sexualization to men of young girls.

Maybe we are hard-wired before birth with certain sexual proclivities.

But, as an historian I know that sexual stimuli preference has differed from culture to culture. Men of some cultures commonly have regarded girls as young as 9 or 10 as sexual objects of desire. Men of some cultures have regarded boys, but not men, as objects of sexual desire. These variations in addition to the fat versus thin, etc.

In other words, speaking historically, it seems that our culture shapes what we perceive as sexy and what we do not.

Western Culture is now teaching men to regard younger and younger women as sexual creatures.

I remember the Bible saying something about the nations that forget God being cast into hell.
And I'm not talking about the bailout, although that was nice.

I'm talking about the Senate's other action yesterday, to approve the nuclear trade treaty with India. The treaty allows civilian nuclear trade between the U.S. and India for the first time since India started its own nuclear program in the 1970s.

I don't think I could overstate the importance of this action.

I'm not talking about the impact of Indian nuclear reactors but about the fact that India is now in the inner circle of U.S. allies.
[Although the nuclear power issue is important, as well. India is in position to out-consume the U.S. in terms of energy (well, not for a decade or so) and a network of nuclear plants will make a significant difference in world CO2 output.]

And, for once, I agree with Condoleeza that this is a very good thing.

Bosqueboys has previously commented on the strategic importance of a relationship with India here and here.

In short, India is a natural ally of the U.S. - a big, noisy, federal democracy. It's on its way to join the top-tier economies and it's got the potential to be the major maritime force in the India Ocean. The arguably two largest threats to the U.S. in the next 10 years are Iran and China - both of which are significant threats to India, registering behind only Pakistan (in the minds of Indians, at least.)

This deal is getting some flak, and understandably, for the fact that India is a non-signatory to the Non-Proliferation Treaty. Critics of the trade deal insist that it's sending the message that a state can flout international convention and be rewarded for it. I would humble point out that the single largest recipient of American aid, Israel, is also a non-signatory to the NPT (and Israel almost certainly has nuclear weapons, too.)

I hope that our next President, whoever it is, cultivates what could very well be the beginning of a beautiful friendship.
Category: Politics
Posted by: an okie gardener
Now this is funny right here, I don't care who you are.

Machina Est Deus

From Iowahawk via the Rottweiler.