Sunday, October 31, 2010

Cicero and Good Law

True law is right reason in agreement with nature; it is of universal application, unchanging and everlasting.

- Cicero

Right wingers and Christians are two groups of folk who are almost universally derided for daring to suggest that there is something such as the Natural Law. They are scorned when asserting that some things are congruent with nature and others less so, if at all. They are mocked because of the idea they espouse which says that certain acts are really right, and others really wrong. In the end, they are scolded for the presumably arrogant belief that our laws must reflect this, because, of course, nothing is right on its own terms and how dare anyone try to force their morality on another. Simple and stupid consensus will take care of that.

So imagine the joy which one put upon by society in such a manner might have when they discover an old pagan who says exactly what they do. A pagan who speaks of virtue and discipline as though they were ideals to strive for rather than ancient old abstractions of which some people simply will not let go. A pagan who insists there is a God who is the source of all of our law, and that we must adhere to the commands of that being. In the end, Cicero teaches, our laws must reflect that eternal and unchanging law on which any and all good laws are based.

Right Reason is that which is in league with nature and nature's God. All that we do which is to be of any good use must reflect that sense. When we do that, we create justice on Earth. When we do not, when we do as we please with no regard for ultimate and final right and wrong, we invite chaos and anarchy. To quote Cicero once more:

...if the principle of justice were founded on the decrees of peoples, the edicts of princes, or the decision of judges, then justice would sanction robbery and adultery and the forging of wills, in case these acts were approved by the votes or decrees of the populace. (For if a human law)...can make Justice out of injustice, can it not also make good out of bad?

Indeed it can. It is good to hear such a question voiced by someone not, ahem, tainted by modern religion. Those who dismiss religious sentiment and insist that it cannot be applied to lawmaking need a good dose of the old Roman orator if they are to see things in the right light. For Christianity has no hold on the eternal. The truth and beauty of that belongs to all who are willing to seek it. Our laws would be truer and more beautiful as well, should we create them justly.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Basic Morality 101

Here are, among other reasons, five simple points about why morality cannot be based on empathy and compassion. They came in response to an atheist who claimed that morals are based on such mere feelings.

1. If all there was to morality was whatever any given individual thought, then we would have no morality. You dismiss my point as 'according to me'. I can just as easily dismiss your homosexual friends defense of their acts as moral 'according to them'. We would not have advanced morality one bit with such an approach, as anyone could dismiss any moral argument not in agreement with their own as merely someone else's opinion. That's not empathy, and it's not compassion. It's nothing at all.

2. I give you props for admitting that biological truth has a role in morals. Yet morality is more than empathy and compassion: we might feel bad (that is, empathy) with a victim of circumstances who may have committed a crime. Yet a crime was still committed, and must be seen as such. Morality is ultimately based on what is really right, and what else really wrong, no matter what any particular individual may think or feel.

3. Is active homosexuality right because active homosexuals say so? Well, might not a thief attempt to justify theft? A biased court will always find for itself. Morality cannot be based on what any individual may want, especially when that individual wants to justify what they are already, or want to, do.

4. Morality is based on empathy and compassion. According to you. Your own words condemn your point.

5. Empathy and compassion are ultimately simply feelings. The next logical and obvious questions must be asked, if any feelings are to be taken seriously: should we feel they way we feel?, and, ought we be compassionate towards what may happen to command our attention? For if we are to follow our feelings, if feelings are to guide our morality, why can't we allow our anger to dominate us when angry, or our sloth when lazy? Indeed why should empathy and compassion be the critical feelings in our makeup? It is arbitrary to make certain feelings the rulers of the others. Why should we accept your dichotomy? Because you say so? We are back to the start, and have made no progress on the validity or condemnation of human acts.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

The ACLU hates democracy

An Arizona federal appeals court, and that point must be emphasized, has ruled against an Arizona law which required that voters prove their citizenship and to show identification when attempting to vote. The state law is inconsistent with national law, specifically the National Voter Registration Act. The ACLU claimed that the Arizona law, passed by popular vote in 2004, kept the poor 'who could not afford a driver's license or birth certificate' to go ahead and vote.

Never mind that such ideas are wide open to voter fraud, something that the ACLU and their liberal Democratic allies surely don't mind. The voters they claim to be protecting are most likely of their ilk. Did it ever occur to them that just maybe the rights of those same poor at at stake, too? Their own votes may one day be watered down should more folks without proof of who they are be conservative.

The easy answer to that one complaint would be to encourage the states to give free IDs or birth certificates to anyone who could show duress, but that won't do for the leftists. Doing things by the rule book the rest of us are expected to follow, i.e., the legislative process, takes so long. Let's just go to the courts when we don't like what the people have wrought.

We are becoming a nation of men, not laws, when the ACLU and their brethren can smack down the will of the people in court rather than through the action of actual legislators actually elected to create good law, or through public initiative ballots. We shall, if we continue to let courts make law as the ACLU wants, find ourselves eventually with an oligarchy, not a republic. It will be an oligarchy of judges who will not have to answer to the people.

But the ACLU doesn't mind that. When rights are at stake, specifically the rights they like, nothing else matters. If there is ever an American Hitler, he will arise from the ranks of the American Civil Liberties Union.

No court will then stop him.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Using Political Power

Say what you will, and many people are doing just that, there is one thing which the Democrats have that conservatives don't. When they have the advantage, they push it.

The most recent example is of course the health care debate. No matter what the polls said, Barack Obama and his army forced the issue through. No matter what the tea partiers and protesters did, the President and Nancy Pelosi pressed on. No matter how often the liberals in the past have said that the then reigning GOP had to be open to all sides, they closed their ears to the Republicans and did what they wanted. In short, liberals know how to use raw political power, and will use it to suit their ends.

No big tent when they want what they want. No inclusiveness when their ideals are at stake. No regard for what the general populace wants when leftist oxen are threatened. They wield their power mercilessly and unilaterally. Yes, they're hypocrites. But they know how and when to press their advantage.

Remember that in the coming elections in 2010 and 2012, Republicans. You might forge yourselves a useful majority then.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Come Again?

Nancy Pelosi thinks that there's a target on her back because she's been an effective, successful legislator?

That must be it. It can't be because she's a liberal tax and spend big government dinosaur, can it?

Just tellin' it like it is, folks.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Wedding Day Blues

What seems to be missing here? There was an episode a little while ago of How I Met Your Mother wherein the characters Lily and Marshall were soon to be married. Okay. But there were planning on living apart for the two weeks before the wedding so that their wedding night would be more special. They had been living together for, apparently, several years.

Why, guys? What's your point? You've already done the marriage thing (which demonstrates quite well how much the characters actually care about marriage) so why pretend you haven't? This question hasn't even begun to approach the usual religious aspects of the issue, either. It would not be the first time that you've been with each other in that manner. The very desire to think anything else is a fraud.

To be sure, the desire is understandable. At one time your wedding night was supposed to be the first night of your lives together. But what's the point of sentiment once broken? We're not even talking about a couple who once, in the heat of the moment, shall we say, forgot themselves. We're talking about a couple who have given themselves to each other many times yet trying to pretend there was nothing special about it. Absurd. The absurdity was further compounded by the fact that couple ended up secretly spending the nights in a hotel because 'they couldn't be away from each other'. That, in fact, was used as a bizarre justification for their marriage.

Even as the show is a comedy, the entire situation was inane (yes, the pun is intentional, BTW). Either marriage and sex are at least somewhat sacred or they are not. This is the result of both being taken for granted by the secular world. When that is the case, what difference does it make about when folks have sex or get hitched? Yet we wonder why the morals and discipline of the world are in decay. Attitudes like Lily and Marshall's, and there are many of Lilys and Marshalls around these days, offer an almost perfect demonstration why.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Go Texas!

Is there anything more American than the greatest sport in the all of human history, baseball? Of course not. And is there anything more American than rooting against the most despised team in all the world, except within the dark confines of New York, where they think that money can buy everything, including championships? Certainly not. And when you throw in that it gives a franchise its first ever opportunity to win a World Series, in an almost Cinderella fashion, who wouldn't get a case of the warm fuzzies? Ogres and trolls, perhaps, or maybe those arrogant denizens of New York, but on the whole, the victory of the Texas Rangers over the New York Yankees in the American League Championship Series is fast becoming the best sports story of the year.

The Rangers celebrate series wins with ginger ale rather than alcohol so that one of their star players can take part in the celebration without fear of his demons. All we have to do to support the Rangers is set aside for a couple of weeks the fact that outside of NY the next most self aggrandizing part of the United States is, as fate would have it, Texas. In this case, it should be easy. The underdogs have knocked out the snarky Yankees. Life is good.

Why do so many Americans hate the Yankees so much? Part of it may well rest in irony: so much of the world sees America as on the whole overly proud of herself, and rather arrogant. Maybe we recognize a bit of that in ourselves, ourselves, and sympathize to some degree. By rooting against the epitome of arrogance we are sending the message that we do, in our hearts, get it. We understand that wealth and power unchecked is bad. In some small way we hate it too.

But no point in going too far away from the feel good part of the day. The Texas Rangers are going to the World Series, the New York Yankees are vanquished, and we can sit back and enjoy the final games of the National League Championship Series knowing that we can afterwards simply enjoy the World Series, basking in the glow of baseball's finest hour without fearing that the bad guys might win again.

Baseball is America. The little guy, with courage and perseverance, can triumph. The giant can be slain. And then, we can sit back and sigh happily.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Republicans? They Evil.

"Republicans? They evil."

I should not be shocked to hear such commentary, especially after some twenty five years of political commentary. It's reflective of a lower class, knee jerk view of the political scene, an attitude of which liberals take full advantage.

You must understand that the speaker of that quote, I know by first hand knowledge, is not the sharpest tack in the box. He's 'a bubble off plumb' as a heating contractor I know would say. But no matter: the salient point is that the man clearly does not think things through. He wants what he wants because he wants it, and someone should just give it to him. He believes what he believes because it suits his belief system, and nothing more. This is the very definition of modern liberalism. And no fair asking questions about whether it is deserved or moral or merited. Society should simply give him what he wants because he wants it. I know this because I have spoken to him frequently. He is a student of mine, and something of a slacker.

Liberals play to this mentality, obviously enough, by promising him everything he wants. That's essentially how Barack Obama became our president-elect, though Republicans not acting Republican over the last few years surely helped. The left craves power (they are a showy, vain lot) and they get power by relying on the basest aspect of humanity: jealousy. It's not fair that other people should have what I don't. It's not fair that better paying jobs go to other folks. It's not fair that I should have to work for what I get. It's not fair that a rich woman can get an abortion and I can't, that farmers can sell their land to developers when I think that land that I'll never see should be kept pristine or that polar bears in the Alaskan wilderness should be hampered by oil rigs. If it ain't what I want, it's not fair.

And if you don't accept this train of thought?

You're evil.

Here I thought it was the Christians who had the holier than thou market cornered. You learn something new every day.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Palin, O'Donnell: why does the media hate them?

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

Sarah Palin correctly references the Boston Tea Party in 1773, yet is immediately twittered by certain media types as dumb. Christine O'Donnell correctly points out the Constitution does not erect a wall of separation between church and state, and is lambasted as not knowing the Constitution. Why?

Because neither woman, in the mind of the media, can really be all that smart. The only intelligent women are those who tow the liberal line, you see. Palin and O'Donnell speak their minds, and therefore, can't be truly intelligent and free women.

No wonder that November 2nd is shaping up so poorly for the Democrats. They just can't seem to keep the women in line.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Late Nights at the US Border

What is the point of holding cars for so long when crossing back into our own country? I realize that I have complained about this before but really, we know the border guards know everything about us when they punch our information into their computers at their stations, or see our passports or swipe our enhanced licenses.. When they see we're clean, we should be allowed to proceed. I will even allow for the occasional random checks of vehicles. But by and large, when we've done nothing to raise suspicions we should released.

All that we are doing with all these extra and nonsensical delays are punishing folks who are in virtually all ways good citizens. And yes, it is a little personal. I maintain that I have the right to travel to Canada and see my friends there and consequently the right to expect easy entry back into my country. I haven't had so much as a parking ticket in the last 15 years. Why should I have to feel as though I have to justify my return? Why should I have to justify it?

We're treating people like criminals when we act this way. It needs to stop.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

What's up?

Something is on the horizon, something important, and even historical. It's two weeks from today, in fact. But what?

Oh, yes, that's right: the November 2nd elections. The one where Real Clear Politics has the Republicans currently with 213 seats in the House, with only 218 needed for a majority. The same ranking which has 43 House seats as toss ups, but only two of those currently in the GOP. Who also has the Republicans up to 46 seats in the Senate, yet with all six Senate races which are toss ups are held by Democrats. This is before we even get to governorships or state legislatures, the ones who will decide reapportionment and perhaps cement a Republican Congress for a decade.

It's going to be a fun day for most of us. For the others, I'm sure that the bars will take any crying in your beer money. Taxed appropriately, of course.

Monday, October 18, 2010

History Cannot Justify Everything

Over the past weekend the Detroit Historical Society Women's Guild hosted their twice a year rummage sale. It is a good time to find some bargains, while getting in a bit of history. The event is held on the grounds of old Fort Wayne, which is open to the public as part of the price of admission, and it thus offers those so inclined an opportunity to see a classic example of 1840's military architecture.

Often, there are events within the Fort which reflect on our history. One year they played baseball by 1867 rules, and it is not unusual to see Civil War reenactors showing their wares. Yet this past weekend was different. There were reenactors of World War II GI Joes and their Nazi counterparts, complete with a battle reenactment on Saturday.

The first and likely best question is: who would want to play Nazis? One answer is that as we grow away from WW II we need to reestablish a connection to it and its atrocities, and that means someone has to play the Nazis. That may be true of movies and documentaries but it sounds rather hollow as a reason for regular weekend entertainment. Certainly we need to remember Nazi atrocities; yet to actively play them as a diversion from reality in the same way Civil War reenactors find respite from their daily labor seems more to glorify than condemn the Third Reich. It appears to put them on a level playing field with the Allies to take refuge in the symbols of a totalitarian state.

Image if you will similar scenes with fake Al Queda operatives sometime in the future. If that sits well with you, then I think the question is well, if poorly, answered.

Even playing a Confederate invites the same skepticism. Why would anyone want to go even near towards justifying their cause? It is like playing games without proper consideration of the real meaning behind what happened, whether the American Civil War or the Second World War is the focus or not.

We do not need to see Nazis in our historical reenactments. It can only, even if only marginally, redeem our image of them. It is something which must be discouraged from our future reflections on why we fight tyranny.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Does God Punish?

A statement recently by a leading Belgian Catholic cleric has come under much fire. Archbishop André-Joseph Léonard of Brussels has said in so many words that the spread of AIDS is largely the result of a promiscuous and often homosexual lifestyle, and that such may be a reflection of God's will. Further, it is also arguably a result of nature herself coming around in reaction to human action.

Needless to say, the left is us making much of the remarks. Essentially, their assertion is that God and nature wouldn't respond that way. Some have even quoted John Paul the Great, who said that it is difficult to know God's intentions. He is right, of course. But that, also of course, brings up the question of how the critics of Archbishop Leonard themselves can know the intentions of God and nature.

An objective critical analysis shows clearly that the Belgian prelate did not say that AIDS is definitely a punishment from the Almighty or the natural world, but only, logically, that it may well be. How can anyone argue with that? It is not presumption, only potential, which is addressed, and ought readily be conceded as such.

Here is what was said by the Archbishop:

"Someone once asked John Paul II if AIDS was a punishment from God," Léonard says. "He then wisely answered that it is very difficult to know God's intentions. I myself don't reason in those terms at all. So I do not see this epidemic as a punishment, but at the most as a sort of immanent justice, sort of like how, in ecology, we are faced with the consequences of what we are doing to the environment. Maybe human love also responds when she is treated badly, without the need of a transcendent source. Maybe it is a sort of immanent justice, but as far as the concrete causes are concerned, doctors should some day be able to say how this disease came to be, how it was initially transmitted and then spread further...But considered more generally, I stick to something in the order of a sort of immanent justice. Badly handling physical nature causes it to treat us badly in turn and badly dealing with the deeper nature of human love will ultimately always lead to catastrophes on all levels."

All Archbishop Leonard says, basically, is that when human beings turn against nature, whether the actual natural world or the world of the human intellect, is that it isn't illogical to expect a reaction to that. Because all that has actually been said is that there may be a reaction of some type, from God or within His creation, to individual thoughts and behaviors.

Why should that be so sensational? The only obvious answer to that question is that AIDS, being so prominent among active homosexuals and promiscuous people, people defended so regularly by the prevailing media, can never in the mind of the media be viewed as even remotely the possible result of human, uh, interaction. Because active homosexuality is, they believe, not wrong, and that promiscuity generally none of the business of the greater society.

The attacks on the sins of the individuals within the Church which have, not surprisingly, come from the media and political leaders in the world in response to Archbishop Leonard's words, fail to address that point. Indeed they only reflect the logical fallacy of attacking the messenger rather than the message. For the sex abuse scandal within Catholicism is ultimately a separate question from the one the Archbishop has addressed. Indeed, the sins of individuals within the Church do not and cannot justify the sins of those outside the Her.

What we have here is hypocrisy, pure and simple. The Church, says the left, is of course responsible for Her actions, while certain benighted individuals are not likewise responsible for theirs. In that framework we ask, who truly speaks for justice and light?

Saturday, October 16, 2010

True Conservatives are Compassionate

A writer on AOL, Jill Lawrence, asks the question of whether the 'compassionate conservatism' of George W. Bush is dead. In supporting her point, she offers a laundry list of things which various Republicans and Tea Party favorites espouse: getting the federal government out of the education, unemployment, and even social security markets, to cite a few. The obvious insinuation is that anyone who supports such ideas are callous.

It is an unfair and irrational perception. Why is it that if someone is against, say, the federal Department of Education, it is assumed that they are against education as education? We have yet to hear a Tea Party maverick assert that children should not be taught to read, write, and cipher. Likewise on health care: no one is saying that the folks who need a doctor's care or hospitalization should not get it if it can be had. No one in the GOP asserts that we should not put in place in our nation the mechanisms which will allow anyone and everyone truly seeking gainful employment to have a decent shot at it.

What it all boils down to, again, is philosophy. If you're a big government tax and spend liberal, then any opposition to Washington being involved in our day to day affairs is immoral. Period. Yet if you believe in the sanctity of the individual then you believe that his freedom to choose what he wants out of life, among his legitimate options, is what will in the long run best promote decent education, affordable heath care, and an environment where jobs can be created and maintained through human ingenuity and industry rather than by government command.

In short, conservatism and conservatives aren't ogres. Indeed, they give more charitably than any other political group, of their time and money. Sure, the liberals give: but that's the practice of giving your money to other people. It is not true charity. Indeed, it is patronization on the one hand, and to a degree (because not all government spending is wrong of course) organized theft on the other. That does not promote goodwill or compassion. It creates jealousy of the worst kind: that because person A has something and person B does not, then there must be something wrong with the system. That is not charitable. It is, however, in the long run a recipe for dictatorship.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Brother, Can You Spare a Trillion Bucks?

The Obama Administration is set to announce that this year's budget deficit will be over one trillion dollars for the second straight year. But that's okay, because that will still be about $12.5 billion less than last year's shortfall.

The news, while hardly unexpected, will surely help November candidates who are calling for greater fiscal responsibility and less Washington in our lives. It should serve to demonstrate once again the true tax and spend nature of the Democratic left. Yet the Democrats insist that things would be worse without the additional and unfunded spending.

How can things be much worse than the 13% unemployment here in Michigan, or the gigantic and increasing bill which our children's children will still be paying long after our generation is gone? Further, the assertion itself is rather lame on its own merits: we cannot ever know if things would have been worse precisely because we cannot undo the actions of the current Congress and Administration. We're stuck with it, and that's all. It is a hollow and self serving claim to insist that we would be worse off without the stimulus package or Wall Street bailout.

Still, we can affect the future actions of these charlatans. We can show them the door on November 2nd.

So don't despair too much over today's budget news. These times they are-a changin', and you will be part of it. Proudly.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Jesse Ventura and Political Activism

In a recent television interview, former WWE wrestler and Minnesota Governor Jesse Ventura said that he could not support Linda McMahon's run for the US Senate out of Connecticut. It was nothing personal, he explained: he simply couldn't vote for a party candidate anymore. Perhaps if she were an independent, he might.

Mr. Ventura further commented that he is against even a third party in the United States. "We already have a two headed monster; why have a three headed one?", he opined. The gist of it all was that it makes no difference who is in power, or for whom we vote.

Yet in fact it does make a difference, Jesse. Just the other day we pointed out in these pages how the Clinton Administration had to pare down its budget plans after the Republicans took control of Congress in 1994. And there's more where that came from.

We have the great success of the 1980's when Ronald Reagan and the GOP led us on an incredible run of prosperity after the Carter pessimism and malaise of the 1970s. We have seen bans on embryonic stem cell research when Republicans held the White House. We have seen that Americans believe in themselves when there are more right wingers and right leaning politicians in office than when those of the left hold sway.

The differences are sometimes negative as well. Everyone can see how President Barack Obama and his Democratic minions ramrodded the recent health care reforms through Congress despite the obvious fact that the majority of Americans did not want them, using an obscure parliamentary tactic in order to achieve the goal. The term 'borked' is in our political lexicon solely because the Democrats smugly and arrogantly weren't about to give then President Ronald Reagan the time of day once they retook the Senate. We saw Democratic hypocrisy when the party pushed and prodded President George H. W. Bush for new taxes which they claimed were absolutely necessary, only to have the man mocked as a hypocrite himself when he tried to be nonpartisan and conceded to their will. Indeed, much ill has come when the GOP wanted to appear magnanimous and bipartisan, only to be lambasted by the opposition when they gave in to it.

This isn't to say that the parties are perfect. When the GOP lost its moorings the public responded with a series of electoral rebuffs. Hopefully, a lesson has been learned in the last couple of years, and that there will soon be a return to fiscal and moral sanity in Washington. But the bottom line is that lumping the parties together is in fact unfair, and intellectually dishonest. The differences are there, and they matter. To ignore them, or worse, to not vote or fail to espouse better public policy on the grounds that it makes no difference, is shallow intellectualism. It mocks the very ideals of our nation, and is, at its heart, just plain lazy citizenship.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Resolving Energy Issues

Note: This is in response to a reply on an earlier blog. The blog scoffed at conservation of oil outside of abject necessity, while the response itself called for strict conservation of it.

-Charles Martin Cosgriff

Well, there isn't anything like good, open debate to stimulate the resolution of issues. Yet at the risk of repeating myself, I do not mean that we should burn resources wantonly or out of no consideration for the future. Rather, it is a belief in the future, a belief in the inventiveness and ingenuity of humankind, which lead me to scoff at conservation of oil outside of genuine and immediate need. Trying to hold on to what will indeed exhaust itself does little more than teach us that that is all we now or ever will have. Some faith in the future, some belief in the human mind itself, will show that oil cannot be all that we will ever have for fuel. Anything else is, quite frankly and admittedly for about the fourth time, simply pessimistic.

Further, while it may indeed be somewhat selfish to want to go about as I please, to work and ball games and family functions and indeed just to my favorite pub ten miles away, these things aren't wrong on their own merits either. What does it say about the need for human freedom when it cannot be aided by freedom of movement?

Our arguments are not in fact based on nothing. They are based on the thought that we have the means to alleviate our ills: our own minds and the application of the products of the mind. To be direct: I cannot answer you precisely on how the energy issue will in the long run be addressed. But I know that there are scientific and entrepreneurial minds who can address it. I am happy to leave them the job. IF, as another poster has as much as said here, folks get out of their way and let them do what they are able.

Human inventiveness is a wonderful thing. The future is only bleak if we think it so. What it really comes down to is trust: do we believe in ourselves and the talents God has given the many individuals we have now and who will later inherit the planet, or do we think everything will all fall down and we shall only perish? How we answer that question tells us everything we need to know about what we truly think of humankind.

I prefer to be optimistic. Pessimism condemns us the instant we accept it.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Win, then Govern

Do you sometimes believe that there's more to more than meets the eye with some television icons? That may be the case with Pat Sajak, the longtime host of the popular game show Wheel of Fortune. He writes on Ricochet that, while he expects a huge Republican victory in three weeks, that doesn't that the GOP should feel as though it's all about electoral victory. The man makes a good point.

In particular he warns that although Americans may not like the socialized medicine of the recent Congress and President, that may not mean that they don't want some greater oversight of the health care industry and health costs. Also, he sounded wary of the right pushing too hard on social issues, a point of which even certain stalwart conservatives may have to reluctantly agree. Yet perhaps the most significant observation he made had to do with the GOP turning an electoral win into a sort of witch hunt, holding all sorts of congressional hearings to look into the sins of the Obama Administration and the current Democratic Congress.

That is an idea well worth heed. After the 1994 change of power in the national legislature, it seemed that Republicans (to a degree) lost their bearings and began pursuit of arguably wholly spiteful attacks on President Clinton. To wit, rather than extend and solidify their new found glory and concentrate on putting Republican values to work, the GOP instead sought to bring down the Clinton Administration.

What they ought to have done was ignore the man and his foibles. This is not to excuse the former President, as the Lewinsky affair was for example a proper concern of the nation's. But to have pursued their own initiatives while smirking at the President and allowing his actions to speak for themselves, the GOP may have accomplished more and better things. Instead, the party merely sunk into mere partisanship.

The best way to handle President Obama and his minions, then, should the coming vote play out as anticipated, would be to ignore him as far as possible. Marginalize Mr. Obama; keep him out of the process unless and until inclusion becomes necessary, as in the signing of legislation brought to him. Put the President squarely on the spot on the issues of the greatest interest to the country and make him defend himself. At that point, he will have little option but to show his own partisanship, and the GOP will have constructed an excellent springboard towards bouncing him out of office in 2012. Anything less would only leave the party open to equal and equally deserved public skepticism.

Monday, October 11, 2010

What Makes a Community

Ford Field and Comerica Park are about a mile from where the old Tiger Stadium sat here in Detroit, Michigan. It's nothing but a field now, yet something special seems to be happening there. A dedicated group of folks have been maintaining the basic integrity of the baseball diamond and the playing field as a whole, while also mowing down the brush which had at one point this year dominated the area where the stands had been. Further, pick up games are a regular occurrence at The Corner, as well as families just showing up to toss the old pill around or hit a few on a field where so many sports heroes have appeared over time. It was a personal pleasure this summer to help a bit with the upkeep, and even more of a thrill to hit a ball around on the diamond and have a catch with my own sons on a place which almost feels sacred to me. That's hyperbole, I know, yet it is a sentiment from which I will not back away.

More than that, even football fans are arriving to stand on the grounds and show a thing or two to their kids. As I rode my bike past there yesterday morning, there were a good 20 Lions fans, most in Lions regalia as they tailgated before that afternoon's match with the St. Louis Rams at Ford Field and were waiting for shuttles to the game. That's fitting in it's own way, seeing as the Lions played there for around 40 years. But more, it was obvious that the ones with kids were out there for ulterior if completely understandable motives: pointing out where they sat as kids growing up in and around Detroit, showing who played where, and even, perhaps, describing spectacular plays they had seen, or standing near where Larry Herndon caught the final out of that wonderful 1984 World Series. 1984 will never mean to Orwellians what it means to Detroiters, and for rightly better reasons. They were there, these parents, seeing history, and showing what they could of it to their progeny, hoping that some small part of it would stay with their children as the kids grew up.

So, what have we here? Simply, we have what makes a community. Shared experiences, shared thoughts, a common past, an appreciation for unity, and a willingness to impart what we can of that to our young. We can see in what's happening at The Corner things which politicians cannot create for us: ourselves, and our place in the grand scheme of things. We see that it all boils down to each individual willingly accepting that we are all in this together, and that while the common good is critically important, it is the person who ultimately matters most because that is how the common good is built. The person who understands that there are others just like him and is able to reach the souls of those others. That's when we have a community. Not when it is forced upon us by government order, but by ordered personal will.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Could a Republican Tsunami help the President?

The spin doctors on the left have already gotten started. Now that a significant GOP victory in the November elections is nearly assured, we are already hearing that President Obama might actually benefit from such a result.

Many are pointing out that President Clinton may have been helped by the Republican tidal wave of 1994. Things improved so much after the GOP took control of Congress that Mr. Clinton easily won reelection in 1996. Yet how much of that is due to the actions of the then President, or of the electorate; indeed, of the GOP itself?

On a further yet similar vein, there are those who note that the President's job approval rating went up in the year after November 1994. The irony here is that what we had in effect was a Democratic president riding on the coattails of Republican work. For instance, there was far greater spending restraint (about 2 percent per year) AFTER the 1994 elections than before, when spending was growing at around a 10% pace (when the Democrats controlled Congress). In short, Mr. Clinton was the lucky recipient of the initiatives of the opposition rather than from his own backers. Combine that with the purely psychological effect that as the nation was doing better, the President automatically deserved credit (a shallow thought, to be sure) and that the GOP ran a weak candidate in 1996, it should not be a surprise that Clinton won reelection. So it must be stressed that he won, not on his laurels, but because of Republican ideals coupled with a confused electorate.

The real lesson here in that the GOP must offer a solid candidate in 2012, after doing what good it can in Congress in the next two years, in order to relegate President Obama to much deserved one term status. Can the Republicans learn themselves from the history of 1994: that it is perhaps more critical to win the minds of the people as the offices of state. If that can be done, we will see a Republican majority in Washington for a long, long time.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Saturday Missives

As election day nears, it is looking more and more as though a massive Republican victory is in order. Still, the vote is a little more than three weeks away, and a lot can happen in that much time. So it won't do for GOP candidates to sit on their laurels. They have to keep driving home the message that the socialist Democrats are morally and politically bankrupt. The real threat to a potential Republican win at this point is more likely presumption than that their message is out of tune.

A local man has put off an important heart procedure rather than miss today's Michigan - Michigan State football game. He does realize, one hopes, that it is a game, nothing more, and not worth possibly putting his life on the line? It is instances such as this which indicate that our country really and truly puts too much emphasis on sports. While we fervently pray that nothing bad comes of this, it is interesting to consider what questions St. Peter might ask such a person at the pearly gates: "You risked death to watch a game?" How can such a question be rationally answered?

A new poll not only shows significant Republican gains upcoming, but that George W. Bush is not statistically rated as good of a President as Barack Obama. Who'da thunk it? Sadly, though, it probably speaks poorly of both men at this point.

Friday, October 8, 2010

The General vs. the Special Interest

The Detroit Symphony Orchestra is on strike. That is not news to metro Detroiters, and likely not a big story nationwide. Still, it affords a chance to examine an issue which is rarely discussed. That is, what are general interests, what are special interests, and how each ought to be supported.

It has been accepted since the beginning of the Republic that the government should only be involved with general interests. What that traditionally entailed were things such as military protection and police powers, uniform weights and measures as well as currency, and so forth. It was a rather short to do list. That list has nonetheless been expanded upon over time, and not necessarily wrongly. The need for clean air and water, for example, particularly as industrialism developed, became the province of government, and quite properly. But the main point is that government ought to only get involved in the things of the interest to society writ large: the general interest.

That began to change as government on many levels became interested in things such as parks, museums, indeed the arts in, uh, general, as well as many other areas at first not within its realm. We can of course debate what and where exactly government obligations may lie, and at what level, but it is surely a reasonable argument that governments ought to be slow to have parks and arts in their spheres. Why? Those who want to camp ought to bear the full cost of camping; likewise those concerned with the arts ought to be the ones supporting them. Why? Because they are the ones who want them, and the general public ought not be supporting what are essentially private activities and interests.

If we are truly concerned about and want to reduce government expenditures (and taxes) we must first become more involved in what is of the general and the special interest and see that governments act only on the former. For the record, I do not this minute know whether the DSO for example gets any government funding, but that does not matter to the issue at hand. If it does, it should not, and if it doesn't, then all is as it should be. The bottom line though is simple enough: governments should only spend money on things which benefit everyone at least roughly equally. Anything more is simply the strong (by that it must be understood those who hold political power) forcing the weak to support what they may not care to and should not be expected to when left to their devices. If we began spending only to the general interest, we may be shocked at how much spending can be cut, and how many dollars could be left in the wallets of all.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Grasping at straws?

First lady Michelle Obama has entered the 2010 election fray, begging Democratic voters not to stay at home on November 2nd. This appeal seemed aimed at the young, whose 'leadership' she cited as the reason so much has been accomplished by the administration.

Well, perhaps this is a good time then to point out to the younger voters that it is the leadership of President Obama which has foisted upon them a huge and crushing debt which they will have to work very hard and long to pay off; that what it in fact means is that tomorrow has been sacrificed for the sake of today. That the leadership of the Obama Administration has consisted of apologizing to foreign nations for being American. That the American people are beginning to see that government isn't necessarily the answer, and that is a lesson worth learning.

Mrs. Obama, now proud of America because it voted for her husband (can one be more self-serving than that with regards to any true affinity for their country?) went on to say that change takes a long time and a lot of effort...never mind that the Obama Administration radically changed the landscape of health care in the proverbial one fell swoop, using a legislative provision rarely invoked simply to avoid actually addressing the concerns of the citizens. That's us, by the way. The Obama Administration believes in democracy so much that it is more than willing to effectively circumvent it when democracy doesn't happen to want what those in power do. That isn't love for America. That's a power play, pure and simple.

The First Lady is shilling for her husband because her husband's appeal has waned. While that may be admirable so far as it goes, in the end it merely demonstrates how far the left has to go to keep the mid term elections from becoming a complete disaster. The Democrats must step beyond their own party officials to have any hopes of re-energizing what is supposed to be its own electorate. They are grasping at straws. It's merely another sign of where America is headed in the next 4 weeks.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Free Speech and Funerals

The Supreme Court is to hear oral arguments today over a lawsuit which pits free speech rights against the normal privacy and expected dignity of funerals. It offers a good case lesson on the true value of both.

In a nutshell, a fundamentalist group out of Kansas has been protesting openly at the funerals of soldiers and citizens alike, proclaiming that God hates the United States (a highly unusual position for supposed fundamentalists) because of its supposed embrace of sin. It has been sued by at least one parent of a soldier at whose funeral they voiced their opinion. The group has been sued for invasion of privacy, international infliction of emotional distress and civil conspiracy.

Several things need to be addressed here, not all of them of a legal nature. That's sad, because it indicates how far apart our legal and moral mindsets have become in recent times.

First of all, and perhaps most importantly of all, anyone who protests at a funeral is simply acting in a diabolical, reprehensible manner, no matter how right they may be (or think they may be). A certain respect ought to be expected at such sad events, not the least reason for which is in the very nature of last rites. Someone has died: one would think that any religion genuinely concerned with the salvation of souls would come to pray for the deceased and their families rather than attempt to spread what is essentially a message suited for the arena of public debate rather than the realm of private grieving. Protesting at funerals is simply a moral affront, something no decent human being would do.

The more legal matter involves the right of protest. Let us be perfectly clear on the following, no matter what the legal eagles might say: no one has the right to protest on private property. You may be able say what you want, but not in my house. I control the speech that happens there, as an essential private property right.

The same goes for Churches and cemeteries, if they are private held. Perhaps a band of vocal protesters can't be kept off the streets, but they surely, morally, ought to be kept off of private land or from inside private buildings. The courts may not be able to prevent them shouting on the street outside, except possibly on a violating the peace issue. It is an area which ought to be looked at more closely.

That last point may be something which cannot be usefully enforced, for a variety of reasons. At that point we, sadly, simply have to rely on the good judgments of individuals. Which means that some mean spirited folks may show up and hoot and holler. And that by itself tells us all we need to know about them.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Drill, Baby, Drill

The Detroit Free Press once editorialized on the bad things about gasoline ever 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, as though oil is our only fuel option ever? That's what the liberal 'government is the answer' thinkers apparently believe.

That is patently absurd, unless we allow it to become the case. Still, 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."

Monday, October 4, 2010

No Sympathy for the Symphony

The Detroit Symphony Orchestra had voted to go on strike. It seems that they cannot live on $73 grand with nine weeks paid vacation.

Such figures do not elicit much sympathy. With the DSO in danger of losing its very existence, the musicians surely must see that public support isn't likely to be particularly strong. Yet we must march to the beat of our drummer, we are told.

So be it. But one does wonder if we need a symphony at all; Detroit surely will survive without one. Especially one which appears content to kill itself.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Can We Trust Science?

There has been for years a tremendous hue and cry from certain quarters about how science is the answer to all of our questions, and religion and philosophy are dying. Even the revered (perhaps overly revered) physicist Stephen Hawking has recently came out and said the the universe didn't need God for its creation. That is all very well; he is, after all, trying to sell a book, and it seems that whatever must be done for publicity is all right. That's hardly a reasonable approach to truth, however. Any truth, in fact: scientific, philosophical, or theological. Yet why should we stand on moral grounds when science and progress are all that matter?

Well, perhaps because what we need to do in this day and age is to take a step back and ask ourselves: can we indeed trust science?

It can be found that the scientific world is rife with scandal, should the media decide to take as a hard of a look at the world of science as they do with religion. Indeed, scientific fraud is at least as well represented within our history as scandal sometimes seems within things religious. The Piltdown Man comes to mind, or the Cardiff Giant. And before you begin grousing that those are old news stories made in times where we hadn't progressed enough scientifically to see they were frauds, let us remember two things: it was decades before science acknowledged the error of the Piltdown Man, and that science can be as rigorous in its unwillingness to bend as they accuse religion of being.

Piltdown Man was made of the jaw of an orangutan on the skull of a human. It is difficult to believe that anthropologists way back in 1912 could not have noticed that with little more than a cursory review of the evidence. Yet that did not happen. Why?

Could it be because the purveyors of science, and by that we mean the people who make money off of it, at the time were so married to the Theory of Evolution that they would not even think of it as a hoax because it seemed to blend so well into their pre-established arguments? It could be easily alleged that their desire for, ahem, orthodoxy, could not allow them to search for the actual truth, until it was so obvious that even the priests of science had to yield.

But it is not only the older hoaxes which call attention to the arrogance of what often passes as modern science. As recently as the late 1990's we had the fraudulent researches of Jan Hendrik Schön, who made up his research yet was hailed as a rising star among scientists. And there's Shinichi Fujimura, a Japanese archaeologist who buried his own artifacts to be dug up later. His fraud went on for almost 25 years before discovery.

Then, in 1996, we had the Sokol Affair, where physicist Alan Sokol submitted and had published a paper in the journal Social Text which was totally fraudulent. He had announced on the day the article appeared later in Science Wars that his work was an experiment to “publish an article liberally salted with nonsense if (a) it sounded good and (b) it flattered the editors’ ideological preconceptions.” The experiment was quite the success. Yet he was basically accused with a violation of academic ethics rather than hailed by exposing the lack of a healthy skepticism which is supposed to be so important to the scientist.

A similar incident occurred in 2006, known as the Rooter Paper, where a computer randomly generated a paper which then submitted to and accepted as legitimate by a scientific conference.

This is not to say that all science and all scientists are bad. Yet it is interesting to note that the fraudulent scientists are viewed as outside of true science while the sins of religion are seen as inherent to religion. Is that good science, or bad philosophy?

The bottom line is that science, like religion, is practiced by human beings. Human beings who are as subject to lie and cheat if they feel sufficiently threatened as anyone else. Our lesson is not to take science at face value merely because it clothes itself in the garb of truth any more than we take religion as purveyors of truth without an honest review of their credentials. Because the biggest liars might just be on the biggest stage, and may be wearing, not robes, but lab coats.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

His Beloved Auntie

President Barack Obama praised an Aunt in a book he wrote. Nothing wrong with that, of course. Indeed, it would expected. So now that Mr. Obama has become the big man on campus, where do we find this wonderful Aunt Zeituni who meant so much to him?

Well, she's living in Boston, having been granted political asylum a few months ago. It was granted after she had lived in the United States illegally for several years. Oh, and while being where she wasn't supposed to be, paying nothing into our system, she was getting $700 a month from the public trough.

Now let's see...her nephew who admires her and is worth millions hasn't helped her. In the meantime, she has unashamedly lived on the dole. What does it all mean?

It means that November 2nd can't get here quickly enough. Think of this story as you go to vote that day. It's all the reason the GOP needs to begin righting our ship of state.

Friday, October 1, 2010

It Just Doesn't Matter

Scientists have found a 'Goldilocks' planet. It isn't too hot, and it isn't too cool. In short, it's just right for sustaining life as we know it.

So what?

We aren't saying that this isn't news (it is) and we aren't saying it isn't, uh, cool. But we are saying that it isn't something we ought to be particularly excited about. We're here; why should it be a shock that others are not here as well?

The Almighty created us. If He created others it is His will too. We are special, but we may not be that special. Why worry about it?

Or may we be jealous?