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.