Thursday, December 31, 2009

Bloom's Taxonomy of Educational Objectives, or, Why We Can't Teach

Have you ever wondered why we can't seem to get through to so many students in our American classrooms? Or even why so many of the students who can actually comprehend basic skills and data become rather cynical about what they are "taught"? Well, the answer really is rather simple, and is found in the gospel of education. The book is known as the Taxonomy of Educational Objectives, and is edited by one Benjamin Bloom.

Bloom and his kind blithely state their foundation of education right in that very book. That should not be surprising, of course. But what their education is founded upon ought to strike fear in your heart, and stoke anger in every breast.

On page thirty-two of that awful and, truth be told, stupid book, the collaborators blindly state:

It is assumed that as the number of things known by an individual increases, his acquaintance with the world in which he lives increases. But, as has been pointed out before, we recognize the point of view that truth and knowledge are only relative and that there are no hard and fast truths which exist for all times and all places.

You see, we cannot actually know anything. As to whether the Bloomists and their educationist brethren can know stuff themselves, and thus teach us what is good and true, well, the question is answered. We, they assert so readily, cannot know what is true. Yet they ignore the fact that it follows, and very obviously to those who can actually think even on a bare and rote level, that they must mean they cannot know anything either. Yet they pretend to know something about education and its importance.

Now you know why Johnny can't read, and doesn't care that he can't read. Nothing is actually true, so what's so great about readin' and writin' and 'rithmatic?

The Bloomists will tell you they don't mean it that way. It is a trifle readily dismissed. Ask them, simply, whether they know in their hearts if their creed is true. Then walk away. They cannot have a rational answer.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

We Are Indeed Decadent

At one time in my life I would bristle at the accusation that we Yanks were decadent. I no longer do, chiefly because, in too many ways, we are.

In these rough economic times that may appear an odd lament, yet I stand by it. What type of luxuries have we demanded in recent years? Things such as seat warmers in our cars. Seat warmers? The seat is the first thing that warms up when you get in your car, in a span of maybe five seconds. This is before we even get to remote starters; how much money do you have that you can burn gasoline simply so that your car is toasty warm the instant you get in it? This at a time when, I'll say it even at the risk of appearing liberal, there are too many people in the world without enough to eat, and even too many in our country without proper access to housing and medical care.

I am not naive. I realize that there is no direct correlation between add-ons to cars and someone in Haiti lacking good food. I will even readily concede that these luxuries do have the positive side benefit of keeping people in jobs. Further, I recognize that the problems elsewhere are not, as a rule, our fault. As P. J. O'Rourke for example explains so very well in his funny and enlightening book All the Trouble in the World, many of those problems are caused by the local government in question and not American selfishness. Still, I have to ask whether this sort of consumerism is what we ought to be promoting when there are folks who lack basic necessities. On their own merit, I have to wonder whether they are worthwhile uses of our time, effort, and cash.

In short, that something is doable doesn't mean that it's worth doing. That we can buy something doesn't mean it's worth the purchase. What we consider basic creature comforts may be little more than modern forms of let them eat cake. I believe we would do our souls well to mull that over when we make certain purchases or demands on our productive forces.

Who knows? We may actually find that what we want isn't what we need.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

We Can't Win the War on Terror

The war on terror is so important it seems that even the President is acknowledging its importance with a troop surge in Afghanistan. This comes along with his recent admittance in Oslo that there is evil in the world, a comment unheard of from a modern Democrat. But the worst thing about this fight is the glaring fact that, when all gets said and done, we cannot win the war on terror.

The simple fact is, like evil, there will always be new forces and people willing to do things to harm other people, and impair their movement. We need only see what happened in Detroit in the last few days to understand as much. We cannot, in the long run, win something so amorphous and intangible as a war on individual human action. So, what do we do?

We fight it anyway. Just like we fight other evils. Just like humanity has had to do since the dawn of time.

The sad fact is that, as there will always be Caesars, Napoleons, and Hitlers, there too will always be little criminals, little renegades who desire nothing more than calling attention to themselves and their ultimately petty causes solely because they want to. There will always be those who think in terms of violence only, and take what pleasure they can from it in ways and forms which more civilized folks can't comprehend. That is almost entirely why we have police forces, armies and navies, and neighborhood watch programs.

It is the nature of the beast, simple as that. And that is why we must be better people and oppose it at every turn. That is why our resolve must never waver and we must always pursue and eradicate what we can. That is why we must meet their force with greater force.

We should not be surprised when new threats come from the darkest corners of the world; they rise from the dankest basements of the human mind. Where we must offer surprise, it must in shining light on evil and causing it to wither. Take away the raw hatred and replace it with the undying truth: we are better than they. We will oppose them no matter what.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

C. S. Lewis

If it isn't obvious enough by now, I am a huge fan of Mr. C. S. Lewis. My wife found a copy of The Screwtape Letters at a garage sale almost 30 years ago, and I read and was hooked. As is my usual habit when I discover an author I like, I proceeded to seek out and read all of his books.

I haven't quite made it. Not being interested I have never read any of his books in his academic specialty, Medieval and Renaissance literature. And two of his books, Dymer and Spirits in Bondage, being published early on in his career and before his reconversion to Christianity, well, I haven't honestly looked very hard for them. I have read a passage from Dymer and it sounds interesting, though.

I cannot begin to tell you enough about a later edition of Screwtape which includes the addendum Screwtape Proposes a Toast. As it happens he was addressing American education, and was dead on in his assessment. I have used his arguments there quite often in my dealings with, ahem, modern educators.

The Abolition of Man may be the best work of nonfiction outside of the Bible. Mr. Lewis' defense of the doctrine of objective knowledge is far more fantastic and profound than the small book in which he delivers it. In short, I adore the man, and must credit him to a great degree in cementing my belief in God.

Yet there is a skeleton in the closet which most of his admirers, Catholic and Protestant alike, tend to downplay or ignore. And that is his refusal to make pronouncements about certain particulars of Christian doctrine. He asserts that he is not enough of a theologian to do so.

I am not aware that one must be a theologian in order to understand most theology. I understand, as a Catholic, that the consecrated host is really the Body of Christ. Lewis famously says in regards to this that Christ's directive is, take, eat, not take, understand. I say with all due respect that he rather begs the question. Why would God not want us to understand? Wouldn't we want that closer relationship with Him?

Much of it can be linked to the psychology of Mr. Lewis I'm sure. Dr. Joseph Pearce wrote a very good book called C. S. Lewis and the Church of Rome which deals with the issue of why Lewis never became Catholic as he certainly was very close to it. Dr. Pearce's answer was, essentially, because of Lewis' background and his Ulster stubbornness (he was Northern Ireland).

I would have to agree. And I don't mean that without sympathy: sometimes, and I say this with absolutely no disrespect intended, invincible ignorance gets in our way. Lewis may not have had the capacity to take that next step; it's the same as I think of my dear paternal grandfather who, though he came to accept and respect my father's Catholicism, could not be expected to easily let go of his Southern Baptist background. Thankfully, God will accept us on those terms, if the situation is real and sincere, and not an intentional blindness.

That question used to plague me yet now I can accept it. But even in that light, we still must address our skeletons as honestly and openly as we can. C. S. Lewis did what he could with what he given, and had accomplished with it a far sight more than anything most of us have managed. So he perhaps could not take that last step towards full Christianity. How many of us can? It is an area in which we must be supremely grateful for God's mercy.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Merry Christmas!

Just wanted to be sure that I told everyone Merry Christmas! If I don't have too much egg nog on Christmas Eve, I'll expand upon this. Otherwise, Merry Christmas!

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Far From Over

A week ago it looked as the the Senate was not going to pass any kind of health care reform bill. Now they've gone and done it, and our only hope of stopping this travesty lies in the upcoming conference committee in January.

Passing the measure along a complete and pure party line vote, it seems as though the Democrats are determined to force their will upon the American people. Whatever you think about the liberals, you have to give them credit: when they have the upper hand, they push for their goals. You never hear a liberal say something like, 'You know, we really should be more inclusive of the conservative thought.' Nosiree; they ram through what they want.

Don't be concerned about all the negotiation that went into this: it was all banter among themselves. When you get a strict party line vote, you haven't had any real negotiation, no actual compromise. What we have seen is a display of raw power at work. They did it because they wanted it done and could do it.

When we needed a Reagan, we got an Obama. Our grandchildren will pay dearly for this if we can't stop it. As likely as not, they will pay with an America unlike the America the Founders gave us. We are witnessing the tyranny of the majority rearing its ugly head, and there is no St George on the horizon.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

California knows Cancer

As if it isn't bad enough that the Federal Government has its hands in too many pies, now we have situations where one the states has taken it upon itself to get involved in enlightening the citizenry through badgering people about what it thinks important. It should be no surprise that that State is California.

While installing an in line ground fault interrupter on a piece of machinery, I found this warning wrapped around the cord:

WARNING: This product contains chemicals known to the State of California to cause cancer, birth defects, and other reproductive harm. Wash hands after handling.

On what grounds do they force this warning? California's Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment guideline states thus: “A person exposed to the chemical at the ‘no significant risk level’ for 70 years would not have more than a ‘one in 100,000’ chance of developing cancer as a result of that exposure.” Anything over that, say one extra case per 100,000 people over 70 years, means the tag has to be applied to the whatever it is at hand.

Doesn't this strike anyone as overkill? How am I supposed to feel about getting a scare that I have increased my chance of contracting cancer simply by putting a power cord on a machine? How do the people using equipment day after day react to the news that they are in such a slightly more hazardous situation than they could possibly have imagined? By what right does California think it can violate someone's comfort zone by insisting on a tag where no significant increase of contracting cancer exists?

We could dismiss it as simply the big dog of the nation throwing its weight around. But it's more than that: it serves as a reminder that government, any government, when its gets big enough feels it has the right to throw its weight around. California is darn near a nation unto itself anyway, and seeing as its infrastructure needs are well below what its citizens demand, one would think it would be more concerned with shoring up its physical plant than in promoting scare stories.

But, after all, its still a big brother government. What's not to love?

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Happy Birthday to a Hometown Hero

Yesterday Mr. Tiger, Al Kaline, turned 75. He is truly one of the greatest players to ever don the Old English D, and perhaps the premier right fielder in the history of that grand American game, baseball.

Kaline turned down a $100,000 contract when it was first offered on the grounds he didn't have a good enough year to merit it. That contrasts well against the players of this age, who just can't make ends meet on $10 million dollars a year and so hold out for $12.5. He was considerate and humble almost to a fault; it would be a challenge of tremendous proportions to find anyone who might speak ill of him. He has been loyal to a club that has been loyal to him. If that isn't a tribute to his character, what else could be?

Number 6 offered to sit out what would become his only World Series back in 1968 because he thought others deserved to play more than him. Yet management would have none of that, and Kaline responded by hitting .379 for the club in its victory over the St. Louis Cardinals that year.

Sportsmanship; that's the premier quality of this living legend. Most any of today's players could learn a lesson from that.

Happy Birthday, Al Kaline, and many happy returns of the day.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Tiger Woods

At first, there didn't seem much point in commenting on the lurid case surrounding golfer Tiger Woods; it's a story which has been covered to death and people are likely getting sick of it. But things change, so we'll drop a little note on the matter.

Mr. Woods has been named golfer of the decade by the Associated Press, and PGA Player of the Year by the pro golf tour. He should not receive either accolade.

Part of what makes an athlete great is his demeanor, both on and off the field. Reputations are important; they tell us what kind of a person someone is, and the kind of guy he is is more important than what he does when he golfs. There is nothing wrong with taking that into consideration when we hand out awards and honors. It is an embarrassment to ourselves and to our sports when we pretend that all that matters is what happens in the arena.

Character ought to keep Tiger Woods from getting these awards in that same way that character ought to keep Pete Rose out of Cooperstown. No one who acts contrary to sportsmanship merits the respect of the game, or, more importantly, of the general society.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Conservatives on Other Planets

The journal Nature reports that circling a nearby star is a planet with some earth conditions, specifically an atmosphere and water. While too hot to likely support life, as it has a surface temperature of about 250 degrees, the discovery bodes well for those who hope that there may be sentient life on other planets. Apparently there are at least two other so-called 'Super Earths' which have also been detected.

That these are exciting discoveries cannot be disputed. But where we have an issue about them is in the interpretation over how finding other life in the galaxy would shake our core beliefs here on our own good Earth. It has been said that we would have to completely rethink our philosophies, and even our religion, should there be other life forms similar to ours somewhere else in the universe.

Why? Would not the same God have created them too? Why would they not be as subject to sin and failure, the whole universe being imperfect, as we are? Further, why should we presume that the challenges they face aren't any different from ours? Getting food and shelter, worrying about how the kids are growing up; why should alien daily life be so much different than ours?

The best guess is that they would still have personal, political, and social struggles akin to ours. Granted, they may be superior or inferior to us in myriad ways and forms, but there is simply no reason to think that the cultures of another world would be, at their core, any different from ours.

So while finding Earth-like planets is certainly exciting, it should not change our outlook on the relationship between God and Man. It only means that He has seen fit to share Himself more generally than some may have thought. There would still be conservative and liberal viewpoints vying for attention, and their conservatives would still be as right as our liberals are wrong.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Improper use of Religious Icons

It seems, at a glance, to be much ado about nothing. There is a poster circulating which encourages Latinos to participate in the upcoming 2010 Census by pointing out that Christ was born was born while his parents were participating in the Roman census of the time. The point is to be unafraid (because of language barriers and the like) and to get yourself counted.

The Census is of course important; probably too important anymore, seeing as it has essentially become a pawn in the game of political power. As so much government cash depends on population, and, more critically, the distribution of House seats at the federal level and legislative seats in the several States being decided by its results, the every ten year count affects everybody.

It's kind of shame, really, that politics have become so important that a simple count of the citizenry creates such gamesmanship. Government shouldn't be so influential as to make the census such a fuss. But money and power come of it; especially the power of who gets what, so it's important that as many as possible in a given area belly up to the bar.

The admittedly inadvertent comparison of modern America with Imperial Rome is a sticking (perhaps) point to those of us on the right, but that is surely minor. As to the use of the religious imagery, the truly sad thing is that it is being used essentially to ensure that cash and influence are distributed, shall we say properly, to the various regions and groups within our borders. I had though Christ tossed the money changers out of the temple, but perhaps He's had a change of heart. Maybe the socialists have gotten to Him after all.

It reeks of a liberal attempt to be sure that they and their minions get their way at the ballot box and the coffers of the public treasury. Whoever came up with this idea should have been more respectful of the religious feeling of Christians generally rather than the few who see government as a religion.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Bringing Detainees to Illinios

It looks as though about 100 detainees from Guantanamo Bay are headed to an underutilized prison in Illinois. A formal announcement is expected later today.

This is a mistake. There is no reason to bring the detainees onto our mainland. It would create a threat to the safety of the local population: all that a committed terrorist group would need to do is stage a break and get some of their comrades out into the countryside to cause havoc. They are better off left isolated on the island prison.

Why must Guantanamo close anyway, other than the fact the President Obama signed an ill advised order to do it? These people in question do not merit American style constitutional rights: they are not Americans. They are terrorists and suspected terrorists; you do not protect your country in the same way that you protect your own streets and citizens. Beyond the consideration of basic human rights, the detainees do not deserve further thought as they are dealt with.

The bottom line is this: you cannot run the military in the same way you run many other aspects of policy. You cannot run the military as though it were a platform for political gain, or for the sake of pandering to world support for America. Yet the President elected to do just that, to show he was in favor of that vaunted 'change' which liberals spout about so much.

Funny that their idea of change almost always means 'do what we want'. Yet it is sad that that attitude puts the average American in harm's way.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Beauty and the Beholder

Is beauty in the eye of the beholder? That is a stance taken by most people when the subject of beauty comes up. Taken at face value, it is meant to say that we all have our quirks and foibles and as such our own opinions on the beautiful. That's fine, too, so far as it goes. Without a bit of individual interpretation an awful lot of very good things might go unrecognized.

Too often, though, it is not taken at face value. It is often intended as a way of dismissing any claim which propriety or objective analysis of art and objects may have against what makes something beautiful. On that level, it at the least makes art valueless. At the most, it is dangerous to our very psychological well being.

Why should there be no standards for beauty? Why should we not be able to know and employ them? We do and know and apply standards to so much else; why should the beautiful be any different? What can we really know about art and beauty if we have no way of judging them anyway? Indeed it can open us up to certain ironies, areas where what think awful may actually be lovely.

I remember a nun back when I was in Catholic schools who couldn't hold a musical note in a bucket: God love her, her voice was terrible. Yet when I hear it now, I realize that it in fact had a certain beauty in it which made it endearing. She belted out those hymns, by gosh, a Joyful Noise Unto the Lord, and it really was a joyful noise.

Aethetics, I believe Aristotle called it. A way to judge the beautiful from the horrendous. It is a subject on which I think we need to spend more time and effort.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Laws must be moral; they must reflect true morality

A writer for the Canadian National Post, Diane Francis, had this to say recently:

“The ‘inconvenient truth’ overhanging the UN's Copenhagen conference is not that the climate is warming or cooling, but that humans are overpopulating the world.

A planetary law, such as China's one-child policy, is the only way to reverse the disastrous global birthrate currently, which is one million births every four days.

The world's other species, vegetation, resources, oceans, arable land, water supplies and atmosphere are being destroyed and pushed out of existence as a result of humanity's soaring reproduction rate.”

A great many questions come from that missive, not the least of which is whether people are more important than plants and animals (they are, by the way). Beyond that, we have the technology today to produce more than enough food and clean water for anyone here, as well as for an increasing population. If we used our resources rightly, and generally that means getting governments, especially projected world governments and busybody organizations such as the UN, out of the way and letting people find solutions to their problems.

But the real point which needs to made here is that Ms. Francis' views are precisely why, when we make laws and morals choices as a people, they must be moral. They must reflect what is really right and really wrong in this universe.

China's one baby policy is an affront to any all who want to have a family. It is an insult to the personal dignity of any human mother or father, who in their free will exchange of wedding vows have the right to have as many kids as they want. But if morals and law are merely manifestations of the local will, then we have released a power of one group of people over another which can only lead to such ends as governments, and read that other people, calling the shots on true reproductive freedom.

This issue, and a great many others, cannot properly be dismissed as merely what a given society at a given time wants. These are issues of raw power; power just as inhuman and debilitating in a democracy as in a dictatorship. We must remember what Abraham Lincoln said: all democracy ultimately means is that fifty percent plus one can make everyone else do what they want.

It cannot be rationally argued that such is the basis of good government. It cannot be reasonably believed that any group should have such strength, to force the minority to do its will simply because it holds the upper hand in this time and place. Such attitudes promote nothing less than inhumanity, a hatred of all things human.

If we really believe that law is merely a passing fancy, a historical accident of our times, then we have made ourselves less than human. If we are mere animals, then our laws have no useful value. That means of course that any consideration of the world's other species, vegetation, resources, oceans, arable land, water supplies and atmosphere lack meaning as well.

Such is not the sort of world a same man would care to live in.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Celebrating Diversity: Be Careful what You Wish For

Many a car can be found adorned with bumper stickers which read 'celebrate diversity' or a like sentiment. April, it seems, has become Celebrate Diversity month (great: another holiday season Hallmark can co-opt). There's nothing wrong with that so far as it goes, of course. But one cannot help but wonder exactly how far it's supposed to go.

If what you mean by recognizing diversity is what I call small 'd' diversity, I have no argument. If there weren't different people with different interests and abilities then an awful lot of great and necessary things would not get done. We couldn't play baseball if everyone were a catcher. But if you mean, as has been said in various quarters, that our diversity makes us strong, then I am not so sure it is a valid basis for our thoughts and actions.

What makes us strong as a nation and as individuals is an underlying unity which we all accept as the rock upon which society is built. What we bring to the table, so to speak, when we offer new insights or inventions is that our input will help strengthen that unity. Indeed, that such ideas are brought up in light of that union which holds us together. We act to improve upon it.

So if what you mean by diversity are things contrary to that unity, ideals which will harm or destroy the body politic or personal responsibility, then it is not something we should want. If by diversity we mean to accept and appreciate cannibals and cannibalism, then we should not celebrate it. Aristotle did not appreciate barbarians, nor should that have been expected of him.

I fear that many of the folks who wish us to celebrate diversity wish us to do just that; it is a hedgerow behind which they can hide their true colors and sneak beliefs into our system which will hurt or kill it in the long run. We are better off celebrating unity. It allows us to see what unites rather than divides, because in union their is strength. In mere diversity, we are just so many pebbles in the sand.

Friday, December 11, 2009

The President and the Peace Prize

Barack Obama has accepted the Nobel Peace Prize, but says that he will use war as necessary. Oh what a tangled web we weave.

If he uses force, liberal supporters can gore him as a hypocrite. If he doesn't conservatives will say he is bowing to liberal and world pressure. Oh what a tangled web we weave.

It's not that we can find fault with some of what he said to the Nobel people. When the President says:

"I face the world as it is, and cannot stand idle in the face of threats to the American people. For make no mistake: Evil does exist in the world, A nonviolent movement could not have halted Hitler's armies. Negotiations cannot convince al-Qaida's leaders to lay down their arms. To say that force is sometimes necessary is not a call to cynicism; it is a recognition of history; the imperfections of man and the limits of reason."

it is difficult to criticize. Indeed, it sounded almost Reaganesque. Evil does exist in the world? Kudos, Mr. Obama. Take that, peaceniks. Because he is as right as Reagan was: The Soviet Union was an evil empire, and evil exists and must be countered.

Though when the President asks for, "alternatives to violence that are tough enough to change behavior" I am not sure that such things exist. At some point in given situations, in our imperfect world, violence will be in need. There's simply no way around that.

But to hear a defense of force from a darling of the left?

Oh, what a tangled web we weave.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

The Importance of Axioms

Much fascinating discussion can be had with an attempt at affirming the critical role reason and objectivity play in our political and social discussions. It all begins at the beginning, so to speak. One such starting point held by those against objective norms is a statement something like: nothing can be true for all times and all places.

That was a fun one back during sophomore year at university, when we discussed whether such a statement itself could be true for all times and places. But beyond such nonsense which the assertion invites, it is clear that the statement cannot be true. For if it is, then there is an objective standard of right and wrong in that there is no right and wrong. And if it's not, then there must be standards of objectivity generally.

So where would we begin? Where would we seek this objectivity?

Without self-evidence, nothing can be proven; so says the British author and apologist C. S. Lewis. He is quite right. Without axiomatic statements, things true in and of themselves, things so obviously right that no one can deny them and still call themselves rational, things which are Reason Itself, we can make no progress within the realms of morals, politics, law, and treating the next door neighbor with charity. Without things which must be accepted on their own terms, which it would be social and personal suicide to deny, we cannot know what to do even in our daily lives.

It is in this realm that most questions can be answered. Abortion is wrong because human beings have human babies. Gay marriage is wrong because it is self evident that we are made to be male/female couples. Some extrapolation may be necessary as circumstances may dictate, but all morals begin with dogmatic statements.

Which means that any decent consideration of what laws we must have must start with a reflection of how much they are in line with the first principles. Do they codify these axioms or disparage them? Do they encourage society to live within them or deny their worth? Will proposed laws make us better or worse people?

It all starts from the right beginning. If we choose to start from somewhere else, we will end up who knows where. We might, by happy accident, arrive at our destination with good laws and a good society. But there's no point taking that chance when we have a handy road map, available to all who will have it, at our beck and call.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Tea Parties: Old News?

It was reported on AOL this morning that the tea party movement may be fracturing. There are several different groups who make up the overall movement, and each is trying to put its stamp on the direction in which they are headed. Further, some think the drive is being co-opted by the Republican party for its own use. It can seem a tangled web.

Populist movements historically tend to wither as they are often single issue. It is no surprise then when chinks appear in the armor, especially as it is difficult to keep people together when something by its nature appears primarily to individual thoughts. Yet if any movement is to gather steam and maintain itself, then at some point compromises have to be made. At some point we simply have accept that progress in our country means understanding that we can rarely get everything we want, so we must be happy with what we can get.

It leaves a bad taste, to be sure, and this is not to say that we should not keep an sharp eye on things and become shrill at times when the leadership begins to stray too far from core values and beliefs. But without a basic central figure at the helm a ship cannot do much but flounder.

Without Washington our nation would not have been formed. Without Lincoln the Civil War may have been lost. Without Reagan the prosperity of the Eighties may not have come about. It would be false to say that these great men did not have their share of naysayers. But the one thread they share is that they were able to get the populace to see beyond bickering on small matters in order to respect and work towards the big picture.

So get it together, tea partiers, and accept that there can only be one big dog. Imagine, if you will, the sound his bark will command.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Consumerism

Our economy is in trouble; that news is so old it has whiskers. But what worries me is that so many of the plans to improve it are based on encouraging folks to buy things. That, too, isn't exactly rocket science. I long ago taught my students that we all worry about keeping at least some of our money, yet the fact is the economy, both for our own personal world as well as the world in general, is worse off when the money isn't moving. I still hold to that. Nevertheless, I think we ought to consider the value in buying things simply to buy them too.

How much junk do we accumulate just because we can? How often do we buy things on impulse which we never really use? How many times have we indulged ourselves out of nothing more than mere selfishness? These are the kinds of questions which come to my mind when I think about our economy. Am I the only one who believes that such attitudes, while not necessarily immoral, still manage to have a certain bad odor about them?

True, when we buy we invariably help our fellow citizens whose jobs rely on our willingness to purchase what can only be, in many instances, unneeded items. That itself is probably the main reason for which I cannot call such otherwise wantonness wrong. Yet it too begs a few pertinent questions, not the least of which is whether we as a society ought to encourage businesses which cater to trivialities. Isn't there more that we all could be doing with our time and efforts than acquiring stuff just to acquire it?

The Church has a word for for that kind of system: consumerism. Consumerism is essentially selfish, and again, that does not make it bad. A bit of me first is what ensures that necessary things get done, important things like seeing to the clothing and the feeding and all for ourselves and our families. Still, that cannot mean that merely because something can be made and marketed that it ought to be made and marketed. And it cannot mean that we have an obligation to buy it simply to help others out.

We're all in this together, yes, so I should do what I can even for the general economy. The rest of society, which the word economy often represents, should, however, work with me on that. Don't tell me I need a new car when my old one works perfectly fine, or that I need to remodel a kitchen which I just fixed up five years ago. Give me something worth buying and we'll take it from there. Otherwise, we're only feeding our egos. That cannot, in the long run, be healthy.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Liberals: the real haters

I can’t remember where I first heard it; it was either Rush Limbaugh or P. J. O’Rourke, I believe. But it is a simple phrase which I’ve never forgotten: liberals hate people, especially the free. It is not an overstatement, and runs from the proverbial, ahem, sublime to the ridiculous. They want abortion because there are too many of us on the planet, and they want mass transit so that we have to go places on their schedule, not ours. They’re against urban sprawl because they don’t want people living where they want to by their free will exchanges among themselves. They use global warming scams to make us stop living how we live because it isn’t how they want us to live. They champion the environment because inert matter is more important than living, breathing human beings. It’s all about control, my friends, and we’re well past time to tell them enough is enough: I can control my own life just fine without liberal meddling in things which are none of their business. It’s time to send these busybodies and their trumped up causes packing so that we can conduct the business of our lives unharried by manufactured guilt. It’s time we stand up to the true haters in our land.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Truth and the Bible

Everything in the Bible is true, but not everything which is true is in the Bible.

- Bishop Fulton Sheen

In a recent article in which I spoke out against gay marriage, one commenter stated that 'Jesus didn't say anything about homosexuality'. While I'm not sure that such is an accurate statement (too many people read into the Bible what they wish it to mean) let's take it at face value today and assume it is. Where does that leave us on the issue?

It leaves with Bishop Sheen. It is not reasonable to believe that something, anything, is acceptable merely because Christ or anyone else in the Bible said so or not. Truth is true; I'm sure Christ never specifically condemned abortion, yet it is a moral offense against God and man nonetheless.

I've noticed a similar approach with constitutional questions in our country. There is a prevalent attitude which asserts that as certain things, we'll use abortion again, were not condemned by the Founding Fathers then they must have supported it. Yet I cannot help but think that if they had the slightest inkling that the nation they were forming would ever have allowed such a thing they would have put an anti-abortion plank into the Constitution. It would have been beyond their imagination that anyone would every support such things.

It is high time that society began looking at things with the proper perspective. True is true if no one else think so, and false is false even if the entire world believed otherwise. There is no other useful way to think.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Hypocrisy at Work

With regard to the whole PETA/Joanna Krupa issue, another thought occurs which bears consideration. Have you ever noticed how people who don't think much of traditional morals and religion are so quick to use those forces when it suits them?

In the ad we spoke of yesterday, Ms. Krupa is clearly supposed to be angel. In another photo, she cuddles a puppy as she holds a rosary. What they are doing is trying to influence us using powerful religious symbols, symbols of goodness and humility, as it happens to suit their purpose just now.

But of the rest of the things religion and tradition stand for, how many PETA members are against abortion? How does Ms. Krupa stand on the gay marriage question? Yet they have the audacity to try and use the authority of the Church for their own selfish ends. Maybe they are against these things, to be fair; but do you really expect that to be the case?

It is nothing but sheer hypocrisy at work that Christian symbols are used in this manner. It is brazen and self righteous: PETA and Joanna Krupa do not wear it well.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Their Cross to Bear?

In a recent ad for PETA, the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, Joanna Krupa posed nude. That's nothing new, as many celebrities have posed in their birthday suits for PETA's various ads. The trouble is, she poses with a crucifix strategically placed to cover her endowments.

This is an insult to the Catholic Church and to Catholics generally. No one should use such sacred icons as a drawing point in a commercial advertisement. Particularly one which involves the sort of nudity that the Church and Her followers would not support. To have a former Playboy model sport the main image of their religion in such a playful way is both shocking and revolting.

Why is it that, given all the hue and cry anymore about relatively unimportant slights, it is acceptable to mock important Christian symbols? You may recall that years ago when an 'artist' placed a crucifix in urine and photographed it, it was called art. One cannot help but wonder if society would have given it the same sanction had it been a Star of David or something representative of Islam or Buddhism or MLK Day.

This ad is nothing less than disrespectful and inconsiderate. So long as PETA treats the world as its stage with such offensive attacks, it will never reach mainstream America. Such outlandishness cannot appeal to the common citizen.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Bobby Jindal: For the Right Reasons

Although it is still way too early to make any commitments over whom to consider for the GOP nomination in 2012, it is interesting to note the slow building of support for Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal. He does in fact appear to be an interesting choice, and I certainly intend to look at him closely as I consider my vote. But the one thing I will say at this point is very, very simple. If you're going to vote for him, vote for him for the right reasons.

There have been whispers that, as we have our first African American President, wouldn't it be wonderful to get out first Asian Indian president next? That is not a good reason to support him.

Vote for him, if you will, the same way that you should vote for anyone else: on issues and character. In this day and age, ethnic background should be little more than a sidebar, a footnote to history if anything and nothing more. It isn't important that Barack Obama is black; it would be as patronizing to have voted for him because he is black as it would have been racist to vote against him on skin color. If we are intended to be a color blind society, then it is only right that we are color blind all the way.

This is not to take a swipe at Mr. Jindal, who surely isn't involved in any such efforts. Nor is it meant to lessen the pride of any particular minority group which may feel good as a result of Mr. Obama's election or Mr. Jindal's potential candidacy. It is only to say that, in the end, support the man and not the background. It is the greatest decency we could afford them.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

The Republican Litmus Test

This is an idea whose time has come. The major political parties need to make a clear statement of what they support, and Rep. James Bopp has proposed that these items be approved by the Republican National Committee as a way of measuring how Republican those candidates who claim to be Republican actually are.

Former Rep. Dick Armey says it is not a litmus; the idea is that someone ought to agree with the GOP on 7 of them to be considered for party aid. But let's call it a litmus test anyway. There is nothing wrong with those who claim to be Republican actually acting Republican before deigning to represent the party.

Here is the resolution:


RNC RESOLUTION ON FINANCIAL
SUPPORT OF CANDIDATES
1
Proposed RNC Resolution on Reagan’s Unity Principle for Support of Candidates
WHEREAS, President Ronald Reagan believed that the Republican Party should support and espouse conservative principles and public policies; and
WHEREAS, President Ronald Reagan also believed the Republican Party should welcome those with diverse views; and
WHEREAS, President Ronald Reagan believed, as a result, that someone who agreed with him 8 out of 10 times was his friend, not his opponent; and
WHEREAS, Republican faithfulness to its conservative principles and public policies and Republican solidarity in opposition to Obama’s socialist agenda is necessary to preserve the security of our country, our economic and political freedoms, and our way of life; and
WHEREAS, Republican faithfulness to its conservative principles and public policies is necessary to restore the trust of the American people in the Republican Party and to lead to Republican electoral victories; and
WHEREAS, the Republican National Committee shares President Ronald Reagan’s belief that the Republican Party should espouse conservative principles and public policies and welcome persons of diverse views; and
WHEREAS, the Republican National Committee desires to implement President Reagan’s Unity Principle for Support of Candidates; and
WHEREAS, in addition to supporting candidates, the Republican National Committee provides financial support for Republican state and local parties for party building and federal election activities, which benefit all candidates and is not affected by this resolution; and
THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED, that the Republican National Committee identifies ten (10) key public policy positions for the 2010 election cycle, which the Republican National Committee expects its public officials and candidates to support:
(1) We support smaller government, smaller national debt, lower deficits and lower taxes by opposing bills like Obama’s “stimulus” bill;
(2) We support market-based health care reform and oppose Obama-style government run healthcare;
(3) We support market-based energy reforms by opposing cap and trade legislation;
(4) We support workers’ right to secret ballot by opposing card check;
RNC RESOLUTION ON FINANCIAL
SUPPORT OF CANDIDATES
2
(5) We support legal immigration and assimilation into American society by opposing amnesty for illegal immigrants;
(6) We support victory in Iraq and Afghanistan by supporting military-recommended troop surges;
(7) We support containment of Iran and North Korea, particularly effective action to eliminate their nuclear weapons threat;
(8) We support retention of the Defense of Marriage Act;
(9) We support protecting the lives of vulnerable persons by opposing health care rationing and denial of health care and government funding of abortion; and
(10) We support the right to keep and bear arms by opposing government restrictions on gun ownership; and be further
RESOLVED, that a candidate who disagrees with three or more of the above stated public policy position of the Republican National Committee, as identified by the voting record, public statements and/or signed questionnaire of the candidate, shall not be eligible for financial support and endorsement by the Republican National Committee; and be further
RESOLVED, that upon the approval of this resolution the Republican National Committee shall deliver a copy of this resolution to each of Republican members of Congress, all Republican candidates for Congress, as they become known, and to each Republican state and territorial party office.
Chief Sponsor:
James Bopp, Jr. NCM IN
Sponsors:
Donna Cain NCW OR
Cindy Costa NCW SC
Demetra Demonte NCW IL
Peggy Lambert NCW TN
Carolyn McLarty NCW OK
Pete Rickets NCM NE
Steve Scheffler NCM IA
Helen Van Etten NCW KA
Solomon Yue NCM OR

There isn't a thing on that list that a conservative can't support. Let's hope it is accepted by the GOP.

Monday, November 30, 2009

The GOP in 2012

Mike Huckabee has said that he is leaning against running for President as a Republican in the next election. Citing that it is too early to say for sure, it appears that his decision will rest on several factors, including the results of the 2010 biennial elections and whether he thinks the party would unite behind him as a candidate.

Mitt Romney seems likely to be in the mix, as do Sarah Palin, Bobby Jindal, and Newt Gingrich. There are undoubtedly several others considering a run, so it's all little more than speculation at this point. Further, every one of them carries baggage: Palin for being part of a failed campaign, Jindal for being new, Gingrich for already having had a political career (which means a record that can be severely scrutinized), and so forth. But the main question which the GOP must address is: what kind of a party does it want to be?

Does it merely want to be an anti-Obama opposition type group? While that may appeal to many of the knee-jerk voters, it is a rather shallow platform. Anybody can be in opposition; simply be contrary and you have that market cornered.

Or does it want to be a party which stands for something? Which has principles worth defending and voting for in light of the current events? That would surely broaden its base, as the average joe will listen when someone speaks to their heart as well as their head. Do any of the current crop actually reflect that virtue?

Hopefully, Huckabee will run. He seems the most likely to fit that mold. We shall see.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

School Nicknames: Much Ado About Nothing

The Washington Redskins have won the right, at least for now, to keep their trademark logo and team name. It is part of an ongoing struggle between certain Native Americans and several institutions over the supposed racism of such monikers.

Before saying another word, it must be conceded that the term Redskins is indefensible as a nickname. Some forms and fashions are indeed racist on their face and ought to be seen as such. But is it in general racist to use a tribal name, or such a general term as Braves, to name your group or organization?

No.

It is no more racist to call yourselves the Chippewas or Seminoles than it is anti-religious bigotry to have the San Diego Padres, or hatred against the Emerald Isle to call yourselves the Fighting Irish. Indeed it can be argued that in taking away Native nicknames we are further trying to erase their history from our books.

Sure, they become rallying cries of support for the home team and are mocked by the visitors, but so what? Are we so thin skinned that we cannot stand such ultimately meaningless playfulness? Are protestants up in arms because Wake Forest players are known as the Demon Deacons? Lighten up, folks.

It is regularly asserted that such names make Native Americans on campuses using tribal monikers feel inferior because of it. Do Christians at Wake Forest feel that way? Irish at Notre Dame? Catholics in San Diego? Even the Cleveland Indians, if what I understand is true and they are named in honor of Native American baseball player Louis Sockalexis, deserve a pass on the question.

So give it a rest, my friends. No one's rights are being violated by harmless team names, and it is fair to ask whether those who feel they are need to get a grip. In the meantime, go North Dakota Fighting Sioux!

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Gay Marriage: Simply Wrong

Gay marriage is a moral question on the level abortion: that is, it is not of necessity a religious one. It is not in fact a particularly religious matter at all. Therefore, as with any philosophical issue, we have the need and indeed the right to debate it in public. Especially seeing as our laws reflect the kind of people we are.

Gay marriage should not be allowed. As it is clear that good families can only come out of loving heterosexual relationships which have children naturally (that is, in league with nature: it takes a male and female to have a child and in no other way can that happen while remaining congruent with nature), and that gay couples cannot have children of their own in such a way, then by definition a gay couple cannot be a family. Seeing as the family is the building block of the greater society, it must be defended strongly, even fiercely, towards the end that society must be strong with reflection to nature, to the way things out to be, in order to survive.

Many arguments have ensued about who defines marriage. Yet no one truly defines it; they see it as a reflection of the natural law or they do not. It has been said that homosexuality is well documented in the world of the lower animals. Even if so, it is fair to ask whether we are more than mere animals. If you wish to think about people as though they had no choice, no free will in their actions, then you are making us less than human. That argument, such as it is, speaks for itself.

A common legal argument is that same sex couple do not receive the legal benefits of married heterosexual couples. Well, if they cannot be married as a matter of course, any issues of legal rights are moot. If they cannot marry, they simply are not entitled to the rights of marriage.

Some say that all sorts of awful people can and do marry and have children. That they certainly do. Which is why there are laws against pedophilia, abandoning or abusing your children, and taking them from your custody if you are unfit. The laws recognize familial obligation and do their best to uphold and enforce it.

More can, and surely will, be said about this issue. But the bottom line is this: any society which will not uphold and respect the natural laws is a society which cannot last. We risk becoming that type of nation if we deviate from the objective norms of the natural environment.

Friday, November 27, 2009

The Trouble with Hockey

Todd Bertuzzi is a forward with the Detroit Red Wings. He should not be. He should not be in the National Hockey League at all. He should be in jail, or at least under a heavy probation. At the very least, he should have been permanently barred from the NHL. That he is not tells us what's wrong with the sport of hockey today.

Most fans of the game know about Bertuzzi. He was involved in a famous incident in which he viciously attacked Colorado player Steve More from behind, causing him severe injuries and apparently ending the man's career (he has not played since). Though there have been civil suits filed against him and the league disciplined him (the fourth longest suspension in its history), Bertuzzi suffered no criminal penalty.

He should have. What happens on the ice (or playing field, arena, stadium, and so on) is as subject to criminal prosecution as anything on the street. If Bertuzzi had have mugged Moore off ice he would have surely faced assault charges. Yet as hockey fans will, Detroiters have accepted Bertuzzi into their hearts with no regard to his tactics and history.

It is bad enough that hockey tolerates fighting as 'part of the game'. No other sport that I know (outside of actual fighting matches of whatever ilk) allows fighting. You get kicked out of the game if you do. Hockey ought to treat it similarly if it wants any credibility for itself as a sport.

I do not doubt that Bertuzzi is sincerely remorseful about the incident. I do not deny that, relative to the game and his own earning capacity, he has faced significant trial and financial harm. Yet it ought to be worse than it is. He wrecked a man's life. He should be held more accountable for his actions.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Thanksgiving

Note: I'm reprinting last year's thanksgiving blog because it still stands.


It would be all too easy to write a blog on the things I should be thankful for today. Except everybody does that, and it would not be original.

I could write on the first Thanksgiving, reflecting on what it means in our history. Yet that's been amply covered as well.

I could post a Happy Thanksgiving shout out to the soldiers and sailors and airmen and marines who sacrifice their time and, too often, lives for us to be able to celebrate Thanksgiving. But that seems stale.

The hell it does. Happy Thanksgiving to all of you in Iraq, Afghanistan, GITMO, Germany, Korea, Britain; Forts Bliss, Leavenworth, Benning, Lewis, Hood, Riley, Sam Houston, Bragg, Sill, Leonard Wood, on the high seas, and all our Allied forces, Canada, England and all others, who are aiding us in all the trouble spots in the world. Happy Thanksgiving to all in the places I've neglected to mention; you're in our hearts too.

That your turkey dinners are happening in places I can't imagine, thank you for the will to do what you're doing. I hope they taste better as part of a job well done.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Is it Time to Rethink Public Education?

In the midst of all the the recent grumbling in Michigan about the cuts to education made by Governor Granholm, I wonder whether we might start thinking about the issue on a deeper level. I wonder whether we ought to consider in the most profound way the true nature of public education.

Why should it be such a priority? Isn't it fair to presume that parents ought to hold the primary obligation to educate their children? After all, we rely on parental commitment in many other areas - housing, clothing, feeding; a stable environment - which are at least arguably more important for a child's development than doing sums and learning subject/predicate agreement. Why shouldn't parents bear the brunt, so far as they can, in educating their offspring?

How may they? Through the greater sources of private education which would surely be available if the government did not already take so much of our money to pay for public schooling. By home schooling, perhaps, as there seem to be more resources and desire for that every day. But be all that as it may, the important point here is that maybe we are mistaken in this nation. Maybe we are missing the boat on where the true responsibility for education lies.

The primary responsibility for teaching and/or seeing to the education of children is parental, not societal. Until we remember that and adapt to it, education may be little more than a government sponsored jobs program. When seen that way, we ought not be shocked at the poor product it gives us.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Patrick Kennedy and the Church

So it appears that the Diocese of Providence, Rhode Island has barred Representative Patrick Kennedy from receiving communion within its borders. It is high time that the Catholic Church has begun to reign in those who flaunt Her teachings, as it is an embarrassment to the Church to allow those who claim to be members to act in ways opposed to her teaching authority.

The onus of the issue is, of course, abortion. Mr. Kennedy supports abortion rights and the Church opposes them. At some point a line must be drawn and if crossed, the proper actions must be taken. Catholics need to learn that there is no real practicing of the faith if you will not support its teachings in all that you do. Especially in your public acts.

Many around here believe that our own Governor Granholm ought to be prohibited from the reception of communion on similar grounds. Be that as it may, what should be noted is that this is not a church/state question. The Church, any church for that matter, has the right to define what it is and what it stands for. If those who claim to be one with them talk and act against them, the given religion has the right to address the question and act.

That Mr. Kennedy has chosen to seek elective office and oppose his faith is his choice. The Church isn't telling him how to act, but rather telling him how to act Catholic. Further, the Church is not telling the State how to act either. It does what it does.

But that does not mean Catholics must aid and abet that. Hopefully, errant members of the flock will begin to realize the importance of faith in action, and follow suit.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Comin' Home and Done His Time

Supposedly, hopefully, my son Chuck is at Fort Jackson South Carolina as I write. His hitch in the Army is ending and his out processing starts there.

Thank you for your service, Son, and God Bless.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Abortion: Keep the Debate Going, Anywhere, Anytime

This morning's Detroit Free Press reports that Michigan Representataive Bart Stupak's (one of those rare and brave birds, an anti-abortion Democrat) anti-abortion rider may kill the proposed health care initiative. That is a moral good in and of itself. But more importantly, it forces this nation to address what sometimes has become an issue relegated to second class status.

Abortion is the proverbial elephant in the room for the politicians in the middle. They know they can't win on the question, so they generally hope that it will just go away. If they seem in the slightest way to promote it, conservatives become upset. If they likewise appear to go against it, the leftists rant. That is precisely because, like slavery, it is an issue which does not allow for compromise. There is no middle way. We have it or we don't; there simply is not another, ahem, choice on the matter.

So if the abortion debate alone kills the health care initiative, it will have served a great good. Nevertheless, we must remember that more is at stake than short sighted political gain such as that. We must use this opportunity to remember that abortion is a stain on our national soul, and as a rallying point where we fight it all the harder in the future.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Is God God, or are You God?

There are only two kinds of people in the end: those who say to God, 'Thy will be done,' and those to whom God says, in the end, 'Thy will be done.'

- C. S. Lewis

I have long believed that there is only one God. There can only be One; Plato eons ago rightly pointed out that perfection implies singularity, as multiplicity must infer defect. To wit, complexity must allow for great error because there are so many parts of it. There's more to go wrong. Conversely, One Whole Something must be essentially simple so that nothing can be wrong with it.

Ignore for the moment any pleas within your mind which may ask, so which God is God? I am merely establishing that there can only be one. Christ, Yahweh, Allah; Animism and Mother Earth: we can deal with all that another time. What I am concerned with here is how this truth affects us in our day to day actions.

When we discuss morality it often seems to devolve into an us against them rant. "Who made you God?", we may often be asked. The reply, "Who made you?", generally is left unasked, yet is just as fair. Be that as it may, the overall implication is that that other person doesn't have to listen to you because you aren't the final arbiter of right and wrong and, further, that maybe there isn't actually a God for us to bother about anyway.

That is dangerous on two fronts. The first is that you never, ever want to even broach the idea that you are God. The second is that it begs that question of who is. To the former, what kind of God would you be if you did in fact call the shots? Could you stay good with all the power that implies at your control? To the latter, if there is a God who can make those calls, hadn't we best find out who He is and what He wants? For surely our poor opinions and actions would pale next to His.

Still, God allows us some share of that power. He will, as Lewis says above, tell you 'thy will be done', and cast you off. He will allow you your choice on the ultimate matter: to be with him or not. You can be the god of your own destiny.

But ask yourself whether you would like where the trail must lead.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Standards of Art and Beauty

Is beauty in the eye of the beholder? That is a stance taken by most people when the subject of beauty comes up. Taken at face value, it is meant to say that we all have our quirks and foibles and as such our own opinions on the beautiful. That's fine, too, so far as it goes. Without a bit of individual interpretation an awful lot of very good things might go unrecognized.

Too often, though, it is not taken at face value. It is often intended as a way of dismissing any claim which propriety or objective analysis of art and objects may have against what makes something beautiful. On that level, it at the least makes art valueless. At the most, it is dangerous to our very psychological well being.

Why should there be no standards for beauty? Why should we not be able to know and employ them? We do and know and apply standards to so much else; why should the beautiful be any different? What can we really know about art and beauty if we have no way of judging them anyway? Indeed it can open us up to certain ironies, areas where what think awful may actually be lovely.

I remember a nun back when I was in Catholic schools who couldn't hold a musical note in a bucket: God love her, her voice was terrible. Yet when I hear it now, I realize that it in fact had a certain beauty in it which made it endearing. She belted out those hymns, by gosh, a Joyful Noise Unto the Lord, and it really was a joyful noise.

Aethetics, I believe Aristotle called it. A way to judge the beautiful from the horrendous. It is a subject on which I think we need to spend more time and effort.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Evolution: Why the Insane Reaction?

Why is it that one of the very first criticisms which typically spew forth from defenders of evolution is that those against it are religious nut cases? Why are they so afraid of religion if it so obviously (in their view) means so little?

I have posted here on several occasions that evolution as a theory may or may not be true; I have not condemned it. Indeed I believe I have been very generous in allowing it whatever sway it may have amongst the scientific world. I concede, once again, that maybe it is true. Yet when I caution that the theory my, only may, mind you, go beyond its evidence, I find myself subjected to nothing less than vile contempt and uncalled for vitriol.

To be sure, this isn't the reaction (one hopes) of the evolutionists writ large. Yet the viciousness of the attacks by at least a few of them suggest something rather disconcerting. Something which can only be labeled reactionary. For if it is only by outlandish behavior that they can make their point, perhaps we haven't evolved very much at all.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Pigs With Lipstick

I do not think highly of consensus as consensus. It isn’t that I don’t recognize the need for sometimes disagreeable agreement in order to move things along; it’s simply that most people who preach ‘consensus first’ really aren’t ready or willing to concede anything substantial at all.

Liberals are great at this game. They want consensus on abortion or gay rights, for example. Yet they are in favor of both; conservatives are not. They talk about tolerance: they want us to tolerate both. That’s easy for them as they find both issues tolerable. They aren’t moving towards consensus in any way shape or form because they aren’t conceding anything. Yet we right wingers are essentially being asked to give up entirely on core values which we believe in very deeply. In short, it isn’t consensus they request. It’s the total and complete acceptance of their world view.

Yet there are issues on which we cannot make concession without violating our basic creed. To allow abortion is so abhorrent that we cannot tolerate it. To allow gay marriage speaks so ill of our society that we cannot tolerate it; society has the right to define marriage in the pattern which best represents what an ideal society should be.

Yes, conservatives are being obstinate on these and other questions. That is, no doubt, in part because they are such important questions to our most essential beliefs; but more, they are issues upon which a stable society cannot long survive without their being addressed properly. They must be answered in accordance with what is really right, what is really needed for a wholesome and decent nation to become and stay wholesome and decent. We strive to follow the natural moral law.

Not so with liberals. We are pariahs, neanderthals, if we do not go beyond tolerance (which, when we do tolerate things such as the legalized abortion we deal with these days, truly is only a recognition of error which we can not, at a given time anyway, overcome) and embrace their ways. There is no room, in their actions or in their philosophy, for us to be us. They are hypocrites who sound like they’re being inclusive when they are in fact less considerate of beliefs anathema to theirs than they accuse us of being. They are, to use Barack Obama's phrase from last year's campaign, pigs with lipstick. We need to step back far enough that we may see the sty they wallow in.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Blank Slates

Sorry, my friends, I have nothing today. After looking at the computer screen and surfing the net for inspiration for the last three hours, I have nothing. Hopefully tomorrow will bode well.

Friday, November 13, 2009

You Can Think For Yourself!

The moral relativist claims that we can know nothing on our own. My question for him, beyond, 'Then how can you know that?', is, 'Why don't you want to trust your senses?'

Why not trust them? Sure, they can be fooled, but can the tomfoolery not be discovered by thought, a presentation of the valid evidence, or exposure of the true villain, among other remedies? By and large, hot is hot, hard is hard, and mathematical progression continues uninterrupted by what we might wish. Why won't you believe your eyes, ears, nose, and touch, your own rational thoughts indeed, as need be?

The only reason I can think of is that any valid thought might interfere with what you might want, and we can't have objectivity ruin a night on the town, can we, brother? For you see, a proven truth in one area necessarily suggests there are provable truths elsewhere, including perhaps those which may affect how you want to behave. That simply destroys any moral chance of, well, doing an awful lot of immoral things.

Such a shame that human beings have to consider the weight of their actions to be fully human.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Pro-Choice means Pro-Abortion

It is high time that we took control of the debate about abortion by defining our terms in a way which better illustrates the matter. We must start by asserting the very obvious yet oft denied truth that Pro-Choice means Pro-Abortion.

There is a simple test to prove this point. I am not a fan of basketball. I am not impressed by the athleticism of the game nor do I find it particularly entertaining. Yet I am in favor of those wanting to play it being allowed to do so. I am, with no embarrassment, willing to proclaim that I am pro-basketball. I am not merely in favor of individual choice on the question. I wholly support that those who want to play it must be allowed to play it.

Yet abortion supporters will not make a similar allowance. Indeed they are nearly rabid in their denuciations: pro-choice, they claim, does not mean pro-abortion.

Why do they want to hide the true nature of their views? That they most certainly wish as much is found not merely through the above example but in the fact that so many of them, when discussing the question, are quick to add that they themselves would never have one.

I do not go around proclaiming that, while I support those playing basketball in their right to play, I personally would never play it. I never say, "You'll never see me shooting hoops." I don't have to; as playing it is not wrong, I see no reason to assert that I wouldn't do it. Unless they know in their own hearts that abortion is wrong, the pro-abortion activists have no need of trying to imply a difference of viewpoint which does not exist.

It all boils down to one simple point: a guilty conscience needs no accuser. They convict themselves by their actions.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Football and Arrogance

I am an overall sports fan, which means that I'll watch just about any sport to pass the time of day. Of course, the biggest sports get the bulk of my attention, which means I watch a pretty good amount of football. Yet I find myself slowly tiring of it. The reason? It's a combination of two factors: certain rules, and the ridiculous amount of grandstanding which has become part of the game.

Sports are supposed to be sportsmanlike. That means respecting your opponent. How can it be said that you're respecting the other team when you trash talk? What is it saying about them when you gesture wildly after every single play? That stuff is particularly galling late in blowout games: it's arrogance if you're winning and quite frankly silly when you're losing. Why not let your actions speak for you, guys? Remember that in the end it's only, and I mean only, a game. You aren't saving lives or tending crops or curing disease. You're merely fortunate to live in a country with enough disposable income to support your playing kid's games. Get perspective, even, or perhaps especially, on the field.

There are rules I don't like either, on the very same grounds of sportsmanship and fair play. Why should a quarterback be allowed to throw a ball away when he's in danger of being sacked, with no penalty? I know what you'll say: to protect him because he's vulnerable. But doesn't he know that he's playing a brutal game? Besides, the NFL doesn't protect other players in the same way: running backs aren't allowed to toss the ball down when a tackle is immanent, and they're often in as vulnerable of a position as the QB. What such a rule does is penalize the defense. It violates one of most basic rules of sportsmanship: if I have the best of you I've earned the benefit of it.

Spiking the ball to stop the clock is another gripe of mine. Many games have been won because a team with no time outs simply spikes the snap into the ground, allowing them to race the kicking team onto the field and win a game. But again, this punishes good defense while rewarding poor clock management. It's unsportsmanlike, and even the rules of a mere game must have integrity. They must, shall I say, play fair. If the quarterback has no intention of running a play then he should at least get the penalty for intentional grounding: 15 yards and a loss of down.

The defense of allowing this action is that it makes the games more exciting. Still, I say the games need integrity ahead of excitement. If we're supposed to learn certain things from sports, like fair play, then the rules must reflect that quality. Period. Otherwise the game can only teach us that winning is all that matters. You can't get more shallow than that.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Knowing Things: Seeing Truth.

And looking out on high I saw Aristotle, the Master of Those Who Know, ringed by the great souls of philosophy.
-Dante, The Inferno

The exact translation of the line I paraphrase above seems in some dispute; what Dante is saying precisely is beyond my poor academic powers to determine. But the gist is reasonably accurate: the poet was speaking of Aristotle, and Aristotle was being commended for seeking and holding and teaching real knowledge.

Not, of course, that Aristotle's knowledge was perfect; no one's is. The overriding point is that we can know; we can hold a real knowledge of and appreciation for persons, things, and events.

Many thinkers today do not accept this preposition. My professors of education (I will not call them teachers) were very open in that they did not believe that there were any things true for all time and all places. In that light, should we be surprised that so many schools do such a poor job of education?

Questions of religion are tossed off as little more than personally interpretive systems which, at best, only help individuals cope with the traumas of this world. Could this be a reason that reverence for anything beyond the person involved has paled lately?

In politics, issues are little more than vague platitudes which help people get elected. Perhaps that is why men and women of depth and understanding eschew elective offices, for they understand that real things are at stake and are too busy actually dealing with them in real time?

Moral virtue is now all too often seen as a myth; should we wonder why there is so little respect for people and institutions?

All of this and far greater errors are based on the idea that we cannot really know anything. The fact is, if that axiom is right (please ignore such irony this moment, for we all know it's there but isn't the point here and now), if there is no universal knowledge which we can all, if we wish, understand, then there is no meaning in the world or to life.

Do not fear. That cannot be the case. Aristotle and all the dead white guys, and a great many others of varying races and creeds (for truth is eternal and thus widely spread across cultures and peoples) have shown us that we can know. Forget the liberal academics who have no respect for that tenet; it shows only their ignorance. Ignore the science trumps religion tribes; they will not accept that knowledge has different tests in different areas. In science, the test of truth is empirical. In philosophy, the test is Reason. With Theology, the standard of evidence is Faith. In the end, all knowledge compliments itself across these three major branches of her, that goddess we call Wisdom.

We can know. Therefore we can act. We can act for the greater good of ourselves and our world. We can do what we must with the clarity that truth is with us, that it dwells among us and at all levels. In the end, that is why we will win and the liberal elements across the spectrum will lose. We have something to stand on. They have a bedrock of air.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Today's Gospel Reading

"Amen, I say to you, this poor widow put in more than all the other contributors to the treasury. For they have all contributed from their surplus wealth, but she, from her poverty, has contributed all she had, her whole livelihood."

-The Gospel of Mark, Chapter 12, vs. 43-44

It is easy for any of us to give of our excess. But to give out of our own need is difficult indeed. Yet it seems to be precisely the sort of thing which Christ asks of us: give until, or even if, it hurts.

C. S. Lewis once said that that is the true measure of our charitable giving: if it doesn't affect us, we aren't giving enough.

So that's what He wants: he wants all of us, all that we have. So long as we hold back anything, we are not fully within Him. And how can we hold back when the One who walked among us held back nothing?

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Defeat National Health Care!

The swarm of protesters who descended on Washington last Thursday ought to send a message to our federal lawmakers: stop the proposed overhaul of our health care system. It is nothing less than a power grab by a group of newly empowered Democrats who, regardless of their intent, want to make a huge impression on our nation and our future while they have the chance.

They remember too well what happened the last time around. Their political kin could not force through Hillarycare when they might have, and went down to a stinging defeat in the 1994 elections. It is similarly important to vote down the current plan; such a defeat, if followed up with a ringing anti-Obama message next year, would stave off attempts at national health care well into the future.

There is, also, an ominous cloud which the observers of history may already see. When the government expands its powers, it rarely retracts them. In England, for example, no less than Winston Churchill embraced their brand of socialism in the 1950's when he saw political gain in it. Don't think that Republicans would not embrace national health care, once in place, as an area where they might wield power and influence in their own way.

Power corrupts. Do not give the power over everyday life and death to the feds.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Massacre at Ft. Hood

What happened yesterday at Ft. Hood, outside of Killeen, Texas, is nothing short of reprehensible. It is an act which has no excuse: no matter what your view on the military in general or US policy in particular, nothing can justify such outlandish and wanton disregard for human life.

But two things can, and indeed must, be recognized about the dastardly attack by one of our own against our own. First, it is an attack perpetuated by a disillusioned individual, and nothing more.

Second, it cannot be used as an attack on Islam. Again, we must stress that it was committed by an individual who did not want to do what he was told. Read no more into than than that. And be happy that it was not worse as we pray for the victims and their families.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Humilty

Humility is an odd thing. Once you realize you're being humble, you're not really humble anymore.

How, then, does one maintain it? By being unassuming, of course, such as an Ernie Harwell or Fr. Solanus. You certainly don't keep it by thinking about it or dwelling upon it.

But that seems to make the whole task impossible. How can you not consider something which is widely accepted as a valuable trait and expect to develop and keep it as a part of you?

It is a point to ponder. Good luck with it.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

2009 Elections

Elections in what are generally considered off years, where there are few or no major national or even statewide contests, are usually rather nondescript. So it is no surprise that yesterday's vote garnered no huge changes in political power.

Locally, Dave Bing won what we all truly hope will be the last Detroit's mayoral election for four years, and while former TV personality Charles Pugh is lined up to become President of the City's Common Council we cannot see any significant difference in city politics. Detroit is still in deep trouble with hard questions requiring hard answers still lurking. Time will matter more than this election in where Detroit lands.

Perhaps the greatest result from the polling was in Virginia and New Jersey, where Republicans won governorships. This may be a bad sign for the Obama Administration, especially as he campaigned heavily for the Democratic incumbent governor there, visiting the State five times yet losing it for his party. Is this a precursor to a 2010 backlash against the big winners of 2008?

Maybe so, maybe no; again, only time can tell us that. It would not be unusual for the party in power to suffer a setback of some sort in the bi-elections. In fact, such a thing is typical. But it is heartening to see what one can only hope is a glimpse of a more positive future for conservative and Republican candidates. No doubt Mr. Obama and his allies are reading this morning's political analysts closely.

Monday, November 2, 2009

The Lions

A 17-10 loss to the St. Louis Rams, a team which had been threatening to eclipse the Lions' woeful 19 game losing streak, leaves me wondering if Detroit Football fans will ever get to cheer for a winner.

Do what I do: root for someone else. As a proud Pittsburgh Steelers fan I have seen a few winners in my lifetime. It's not bandwagon hopping, either: I choose the Steelers after Franco Harris' so-called Immaculate Reception in a 1972 playoff game two years before they won their first Super Bowl. It was team which cried out excitement.

The Detroit Lions on the other hand simply cry out. They have for almost 50 years now. Sure, they've crept near to opportunity, yet they've never quite grasped it. They can't even make themselves into lovable losers like the Cubs or Mets. They're just losers.

Until a major change takes place, give up on them. They aren't worth the effort.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

I'm Becoming a Curmudgeon: Part Eight in an Everlasting Series

Last night, of course, was Halloween. It's a decent enough little spot on the calendar, and I as much as anyone enjoy seeing the kids and passing out the candy.

Passing out candy to the kids, I should say, because it seems that more and more older teens still want their hand in the till, so to speak. Our neighborhood saw trick or treaters smoking, of all things, yet still with their hand out for treats. For crying out loud, where are your parents?

Oh, they're in the cars driving the kids the around. You know, so they can help them gather more loot by covering more territory. And stay in the warm car instead of hiking about the cold streets and actually being with their kids. Way to bond with your family, bozos.

Several kids, upon getting only one piece of free candy had the nerve to tell me, "I'm a big guy," meaning, 'Give me more.' Get lost, punk. One to a customer. I ought to take back the one I gave you for that bit of cheek.

Then, too, many of the revelers didn't even bother with a costume. Get with the program, you little twerps. If you want me to pony up, entertain me by wearing something unusual or scary or something. Other than the obligatory presidential Barack Obama mask (okay, that was truly scary) it was obvious that the only patrons costumed were those whose parents cared about following the rules of the day.

Come on, folks, make the evening festive. Walk door to door, don't trick or treat if you're over 20, and don't be rude or selfish. It's only going to make guys like me swear off the day, and where will you be then?

Yeah, I know, egging my house. I know your type. There were o so many of you at my door yesterday.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Playoffs: unfair and unsportsmanlike

We are well into the college football season yet only a week or two into the annual BCS, Bowl Championship Series, rankings of the highest caliber teams in the top division of the sport. Their purpose is to establish a 'true' national champion within the college football world. Sadly it is, like most systems of playoffs for top honors, much ado about nothing.

To begin with, playoffs really don't prove who is the better team. At the highest levels of play anybody can beat anybody else on any given day, particularly in a short series let alone one game at a time. BCS schemes only make matters worse, by factoring in noncompetitive aspects of the game. If games are to mean anything at all then all we should do is see what happens on the field or in the arena. Strength of schedule, and such as that, are ultimately subjective. They are useless in determining who ought to play who when.

But more than that. Playoffs are inherently unfair to any participant. If the better team wins, so what? They should have won. If the worse team wins, again, so what? On one day and one day only they outplayed a superior rival. It happens; yet when it does, the lesser squad is still the lesser squad, and they gain acclaim beyond their actual ability.

The bottom line is, paraphrasing former Detroit Tigers and Cincinnati Reds manager Sparky Anderson: the best team isn't necessarily the team which wins the World Series. It's the team with the best record after the regular season. This applies to all sports; it is the long haul rather than one series or one game which really lets us see who's the best in their field. Short series only offer false excitement. They do not truly measure the mettle and grit of a team.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Kwame and Barack

Well, it seems that former Detroit mayor Kwame Kilpatrick knows nothing about his wife. That's not too surprising, seeing as he apparently was too busy with too many other women in his life to bother about the one he married.

What is truly unintelligible in the whole ordeal is why rich businessmen such as Penske and Karmanos would bother helping an arrogant jerk after he could no longer be a political influence for them or their initiatives. Helping Kwame's family appears the reason, and a noble one it is if that's the case. Yet coddling him seem somehow contrary to how an admitted felon ought to be handled.

Adding insult to injury is Mr. Kilpatrick's insistence that he knows nothing about his wife's finances, whether she has had a job in the last year, and that old claim that he could only afford six bucks a month restitution to the city. This is nothing save continued arrogance, which shows little save more of the disregard for people and institutions which landed him in this mess in the first place. He's in fact won, and he knows it. There is no real penalty; his smirks demonstrate that he knows he is in the driver's seat and doesn't care about how things look. Shame on you, sir.

Shame on our President, too, for his arrogant behavior towards Fox News. When even CNN begins to question your motives, you've done a bad thing, George. It's time for the White House to stop such banal attacks on the free media and concentrate on shoring upo its own image.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Smoke Filled Rooms!

We certainly do not lack for democracy in our country these days. In Detroit, for example, we are about to have our fourth mayoral election in the last year. But that itself is a sidebar, an aberration caused by the Kwame Kilpatrick scandal. What is really telling and in fact a weakness in our system is in how political parties selected their candidates. Basically, almost anyone can participate in the way in which Republicans and Democrats select the people who run for office in the name of the party.

The way things are right now, anyone can enter primaries as whatever party they choose. If they wish to seek elective office all they need to do is proclaim themselves a Democrat or Republican and do their level best to entice the public into supporting them rather than appeal to the respective party on the grounds of political philosophy. Further, as is so often the case, almost anyone can vote in the primary or caucus of their choice in order to select candidates for either major party. In short, the parties have increasingly little say in who actually represents them.

What this does more than anything is weaken party identification and, in the end, any real choice we have in who we elect. It leads to what currently are called RINOS: Republicans in name only. One would supposed that DINOS, Democrats in name only, would be rampant in the political world as well. Basically we end up with two parties: Demopublicans and Republicrats, political movements of a hash which leave little save bland taste.

As political parties are essentially private entities, it should follow that they ought to be able to select their own candidates for office. It would create something more akin to what parliamentary systems have, a party discipline wherein you could not run as a Republican or Democrat unless you really stood for what the party did.

What we require is a return to the smoke filled rooms of yesteryear. That would stand a better chance of giving us as the electorate a real choice in who becomes our legislators, congressmen, governors, and presidents. Let the parties choose who represents what they believe in. Then we may actually see a difference in the GOP and the donkeys. Until then, we shall get what we deserve: bad philosophy, and worse politics.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Curling

Curling season began last night, and for many of us that is a banner day on our calendar. We manged to win, 7-1, thanks to a few breaks and some good shots by my teammates.

But that isn't the best thing about the start of the season. It's in seeing our friends again after the summer, in hoisting a brew or two and catching up and reminiscing. To be sure, the game itself offers a fair share of high points: gliding down the ice, brooms swishing, chatter and screaming shot calls and catching a few shots on other sheets as well all offer a necessary recreation which soothes the soul.

I wish more sports were like that. Yet so much of it is in the mentality behind the game, and so many games anymore harbor a showy arrogance which in the end must speak ill of them. That's sad, but apparently that's life.

But no use being maudlin. It was a great night with great friends, and many more are to come. See you on the ice!

Monday, October 26, 2009

That Time of Year

Well, baseball fans, it's that time of year. Time to gear up for the most truly important and genuinely American sporting event on the calendar. It's World Series time.

Sure, it's the Yankees and the Phillies rather than most any one of our hometown heroes. Nevertheless, it's our game on its grandest stage. Baseball in October. There isn't anything more reflective of Americana than that. And need you be reminded of an opportunity which this offers any and every red blooded American?

You got it: a chance to root against the New York Yankees. The dreaded Bronx Bombers. It's time for that old ABNY cheer: anybody but New York. Time to sound the clarion call against that symbol of all that it wrong with our beloved land: buying your way to winning rather than earning it through shrewd analysis of talent and building a winner block by block.

So let's make it two straight for the City of Brotherly Love. Doesn't that sound better than win one for corporate greed?

Sunday, October 25, 2009

The Underground Grammarian

Richard Mitchell, the Underground Grammarian, was a brilliant man. His essay What To Do Till the Undertaker Comes is about the best and most concise vision of why our schools teach so poorly. The only better short writing I can think of is C.S. Lewis' wonderful Screwtape Proposes A Toast, interestingly also aimed at the follies of modern education.

Our best writings and most brilliant minds should be concerned with education. For the teachers, so many of them filled with ideas of facilitation and nonjudgmentalism rather than on actually teaching people, are right about one thing: it is education which molds the man. Which is why it should be propagation: Humanity transmitting humanity to the future, to very roughly paraphrase Mr. Lewis. What we have today is, again to borrow from Lewis, merely propaganda.

Respecting all other cultures and people and histories without judgment of their actions is merely that. I'm not saying we have the right to condemn others, but we can and must judge their actions. It's how we can really get to know them and their ways, which includes of course incorporating their good and positive values into our own. But it must also mean an obligation to charitably instruct them, so far as charity will allow, in where their errors may lie.

So if you want to read Lewis, well, he's all over the place. The Abolition of Man, The Screwtape Letters, and his Chronicles of Narnia are among his great works. We can learn from them. As to Richard Mitchell, go here: http://www.sourcetext.com/grammarian/ . Look for the Undertaker essay, but I also suggest The Teacher of the Year, Sayings Brief and Dark, and whichever essay it is (I think that it's right after Sayings) which lambastes scrambled sentences lesson plans for writing classes. That one's hilarious!

Mitchell wrote: "Seek out the best, wondering minds, and go and sit with them." My advice is to go and sit with him.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Update!

As of today, Saturday, October 24th, 2009, Oswald acted alone, there are no Illuminati worth the time of day, there are no Lincoln/Kennedy paralells outside the incidental, the Trilateral Commission is a powerless body of no importance, the Earth still spins on its axis, and Charlie Sheen is still wrong.

All is right with the world. Just so you know.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Drill that Oil!

The Detroit Free Press recently editorialized on the bad things about gasoline falling back to around two bucks a gallon. Among other things, the paper lamented that it would make people less inclined to conserve natural resources.

Fuel conservation, outside of genuine need (and I mean need on the scale of World War II nationally, or harsh personal finance individually) is really a rather pessimistic principle. You conserve because you have no option (personally), or because you have no hope in the future or see that great or unusual restraint is necessary (nationally). While we each have to deal with our own situations the best we can based on our personal resources, as a nation we can do more. We can tie into the traditional American belief in herself, that someone or something given the opportunity will find us alternatives when the time comes. We can believe that with the freedom we have come to rely on we will find new fuel sources for our cars, homes, and businesses. We can see that if the government would just get out of our way we will get over any over-reliance on limited means. Something will be developed or found or invented to alleviate the current pressures on our current natural resources.

Or do we think that once the oil is gone, we're toast? That's what the liberal 'government is the answer' thinkers apparently believe.

That is patently absurd, unless we allow it to become the case. So we do need certain pressure to keep it from becoming a self-fulfilling prophesy. And the surest pressure to prevent that is exactly what may seem, at a glance, the lousiest choice.

Drill that oil. Process it. Burn it up in our cars. Because if you want something to take the place of oil, then get rid of the oil. Where there's a buck to be made and a need to be filled, someone will satisfactorily address the situation if given the freedom to do it.

So pump that oil out of the ground and into your tank. As P. J. O'Rourke said in one of his books: "Fat lot of good its done lying in the ground for billions of years."

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Liberals are Haters

I can’t remember where I first heard it; it was either Rush Limbaugh or P. J. O’Rourke, I believe. But it is a simple phrase which I’ve never forgotten: liberals hate people, especially the free. It is not an overstatement, and runs from the proverbial, ahem, sublime to the ridiculous.

Liberals want abortion because there are too many of us on the planet, and they want mass transit so that we have to go places on their schedule, not ours.

They’re against urban sprawl because they don’t want people living where they want to by their free will exchanges among themselves.

They use global warming scams to make us stop living how we live because it isn’t how they want us to live.

They champion the environment because inert matter is more important than living, breathing human beings.

It’s all about control, my friends, and we’re well past time to tell them enough is enough: I can control my own life just fine without liberal meddling in things which are none of their business. It’s time to send these busybodies and their trumped up causes packing so that we can conduct the business of our lives unharried by manufactured guilt. It’s time we stand up to the true haters in our land.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Aestehetics

Is beauty in the eye of the beholder? That is a stance taken by most people when the subject of beauty comes up. Taken at face value, it is meant to say that we all have our quirks and foibles and as such our own opinions on the beautiful. That's fine, too, so far as it goes. Without a bit of individual interpretation an awful lot of very good things might go unrecognized.

Too often, though, it is not taken at face value. It is often intended as a way of dismissing any claim which propriety or objective analysis of art and objects may have against what makes something beautiful. On that level, it at the least makes art valueless. At the most, it is dangerous to our very psychological well being.

Why should there be no standards for beauty? Why should we not be able to know and employ them? We do and know and apply standards to so much else; why should the beautiful be any different? What can we really know about art and beauty if we have no way of judging them anyway? Indeed it can open us up to certain ironies, areas where what think awful may actually be lovely.

I remember a nun back when I was in Catholic schools who couldn't hold a musical note in a bucket: God love her, her voice was terrible. Yet when I hear it now, I realize that it in fact had a certain beauty in it which made it endearing. She belted out those hymns, by gosh, a Joyful Noise Unto the Lord, and it really was a joyful noise.

Aesthetics, I believe Aristotle called it. A way to judge the beautiful from the horrendous. It is a subject on which I think we need to spend more time and effort.