Saturday, April 30, 2011

Recalling Snyder: Ranting and Nothing More

Arrogantly claiming that the idea is being pushed 'by the People of Michigan', there has been approval of petition wording to recall Governor Rick Snyder. If the folks actually pushing for the removal of Mr. Snyder can get 807,000 signatures within a 90 day window, he will be subject to a recall election.

We'll give the left this much: for now, anyway, they are working with rather than against the democratic process. Still, it seems a typical reaction on the part of anyone whose ox is being gored. The Governor is being called a dictator in some circles for supposedly taking choice away from localities. It is a violation of their rights to have, such as in Benton Harbor, elected officials power removed.

If Benton Harbor were an entity unto itself, then it would indeed be suffering a grave political loss. Yet it is not; cities and counties are subsets of the State. They do have the same relationship with Lansing as the several states do with Washington. Further, as Benton Harbor gets State money and has squandered its own spending, then it should come as no surprise that Michigan would have to step in, on behalf of the taxpayers of the whole State, to see that their monies are well and properly spent.

If you don't like that, the what you need to do is convince people to change the Michigan Constitution so that localities hold a certain real independence. But as things are, Snyder is no more of a dictator than the President. Yet we see no movement on the right to remove him except during the regular election cycle.

What we actually have here is a protest from the folks who live and breathe government money: leftists such as the Washtenaw Coalition for Economic Justice who feel that only they know how Lansing should spend the taxpayers' dollars. That isn't concern for Benton Harbor or education or the poor. It is, however, a sanctimonious display of false injury, and unworthy of civil debate.

Friday, April 29, 2011

The Royal Wedding?

The entire situation has gotten ridiculous. The fawning and the oogling have reached epidemic proportions, and in America, no less. For crying out loud, it was the headline piece at, of all places, Fox News this morning. It was the Royal Wedding, and it's everywhere today, just like it has been for the bulk of the week, even to the point of overshadowing the upcoming Canadian elections (yes, they matter). Why, golly gosh darn it, why?

We threw off royalty more than two hundred years ago. We're Americans, red blooded and hot tempered and well past any regard for the Divine Right of Kings. Especially as you consider that what we are dealing with in England today are lions with no teeth, with no bite and no real roar. The House of Windsor can do nothing; it has no actual power. Why is it even in existence anymore?

Yet the guy who's second next in line for the throne and his young bride are treated, well, like royalty, even here. What fantastic effect can this possibly really have on anyone with a moment's decent thought? Or are we somehow, fondly yet inexplicably, harkening back to the days of yore, of colonies and peasantry, of taxation without representation, of the suspension of the legislative process and the quartering of soldiers? What? What rational explanation can there be of this, this excess of froth and frivolity?

Americans honoring royalty? What's next in bizarro world, Superman renounces his US citizenship?

Oh. Nuts; we have gone mad.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

American Decadence

At one time we would have bristled at the accusation that we Yanks were decadent. We no longer do, chiefly because, in too many ways, we are.

In these rough economic times that may appear an odd lament, yet we 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, we'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.

This is not naive. We know realize that there is no direct correlation between add-ons to cars and someone in Haiti lacking good food. We will even readily concede that these luxuries do have the positive side benefit of keeping people in jobs. Further, we 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, we 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, we 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. We believe it 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.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Drill, Baby, Drill!

Gasoline prices are going through the roof. With costs at around four bucks a gallon in many localities, it seems a safe bet that many if not most families are going through hardship simply getting back and forth to necessary places such as work and the grocery store. What, then, is our President doing about it?

Encouraging Saudi Arabia to produce more oil.

Does anyone see the silliness in that approach? Is it not obvious that we are being reduced to pleading with other nations to satisfy our energy needs? If we had done more to encourage production in our own neck of the woods, we might not be in the position of begging for alms.

It takes five to seven years, in many cases, to set up production in domestic oil fields. When you consider areas such as the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, the time frame may be longer. Does anyone remember that it was the 1990's, under President Clinton, when talk of drilling in the ANWR was first proposed? We could have had access to that oil by now, except that keeping a pristine wilderness for polar bears and caribou (read that: creatures less important the human beings) seems a higher priority than our daily bread. This despite the fact that a very tiny area of the Arctic would have been affected by drilling anyway.

If you want to pressure someone else into increasing production and lowering the price of anything, you need to demonstrate that you have options. Domestic drilling would fit that need. It is high time we began work on it with far greater degree than we have lately. In short, if we want more oil out of the Saudis and other oil producing countries, we must show them that we have alternatives. Otherwise, we will continue to be at their mercy.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Earth Day Musings

Last Friday was Earth Day, and perhaps not coincidentally my birthday. I point this out not in search of salutations, or condolences as the case may be, but as an example of the irony found everywhere in our wild little universe.

Why else would the powers that be (likely greeting card companies who were looking for yet another way of encouraging the buying public to purchase prepackaged, smarmy, and shallow goodwill) honor the birthday of a rabid and aging conservative with what seems at first glance an incongruent alignment of ideals? Somebody is surely laughing somewhere.

I can't blame them for that. Many of those somebodies will take the opportunity to point this out to me as they wish me happy birthday, as it is, no point denying it, funny on a rote level. Still, I don't understand why so many folks out there believe that conservatives have no respect for the planet or her environment. The very fact that we refer to Mother Earth in the feminine demonstrates the great respect we have for her.

We readily acknowledge that good stewardship is right and proper, not only as God has given us this gift of a place to live and we should honor it on that point alone, but because our own interests command it. We cannot continue as a race without maintaining our world properly.

So plant a tree today if you so desire. Cultivate a field, or begin using cleaner burning fuels if that is your mission in life. I certainly won't stop you. So long as you don't make it into a cause which puts Earth ahead of people, living, breathing people with eternal souls that matter much more than dirt and leaves, we can coexist happily.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Staying Close to Home

One of the most basic axioms a conservative should have in his arsenal is known as the Principle of Subsidiarity. Plainly stated, it says that things should be done on the most local level possible. Why? Because that it the surest way to get necessary things accomplished in the most efficient manner.

The closer we are to a problem the better we ought to be able to understand it. We will see it more clearly, and indeed, particularly with issues and events nearby, we will likely have a greater interest in it. Schools, for example, should by and large be run within the local community because it is the locals who have the greatest interest in the education of their kids. Their kids are the ones who are generally going to hang around and run things when the current generation cannot anymore.

As a rule, the closer to a problem the less money which must be spend alleviating it. This is in part due to localized control, again as issues should be seen more clearly but also as there would be no added layers of bureaucracy which would otherwise have to be paid for by the electorate. Perhaps this is why, try as she might, Washington cannot get a grip on poverty: too much money which is supposed to help the poor in fact keeps bureaucrats at a desk.

There are of course many factors to consider when deciding what job should be done where in a national scheme. A nation as a whole must take up the defense of its people: could Detroit reasonably be expected to ward off an attack by a large foreign power on its own? If we were to leave Detroit to its own devices (a prospect many folks out there may not mind, but let's set aside jokes right now) we would hardly be a nation in the best sense of the word.

As a rule, conservatives would argue that few powers would be nationwide in scope. Military protection, the necessary and proper federal judicial arrangements, coinage, and issues of commerce (to varying degrees) come first to mind. State power would be wider than that of municipalities, perhaps, while communities would see to the bulk of day in and day out tasks: police and fire protection, trash pickup, and to the schools, among other chores.

We could go on all day discussing particulars, but you get the point. Local control is the best remedy for most ills. It is a point which should be discussed, if you'll excuse the irony, on a wider scale.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Easter Sunday

Happy Easter everyone! Christ is risen and salvation is possible. There is nothing of greater import to be said today.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Terry Jones and Dearborn Protests

It is easy to criticize those who generally disagree with us. It may be harder to praise those same people where we find common ground. Yet that perhaps is the best reason why we ought to compliment when the compliment is earned.

The ACLU actually stood in defense of the ministers Terry Jones and Wayne Sapp as they had intended to stage a protest outside of a Mosque in Dearborn yesterday. The actions of Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy were derided as breaches of the free speech rights of the men.

The County successfully convinced a court to jail Mr. Jones and Mr. Sapp rather than let them protest, citing breach of the peace concerns. While such an issue is not invalid, the ACLU came down on the side of what even they think of as reprehensible speech.

For this, they and other Constitutional scholars, and several voices of Islam itself, who made positive comments on the proceedings must be thanked. They maintained a certain decent consistency on an important question of personal freedom. For though the approach of Jones and Sapp are dangerous and wrong, they have the same rights as anyone else.

In the end, truth be told, the entire situation was rather stupid. The ministers needed to employ more charity in their actions, and the Prosecutor's Office and the Court needed to display better judicial foresight in theirs. Still, circumstances may make for odd bedfellows. But when we are on the same page, decency calls for us to acknowledge as much.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Good Friday Comments

Today is perhaps the day of the greatest irony on our calendar. It is Good Friday, the day we Christians remember the crucifixion of out Lord Jesus Christ.

For years I wondered why it was called good. On the surface, the celebration (perhaps veneration is a better word) of someone's death, particularly a rather gruesome one, seems odd to say the least. Yet that is an interpretation based solely on earthly terms. When you consider that the great Divinity was involved, it casts an entirely different light on the situation.

God sent His only Son to be humiliated, to suffer and die horribly, for us. Such a great act cannot be seen except as fantastic. How could a sacrifice of that magnitude be seen in other than a positive light?

We cannot rightly see it any other way. Remember what Aquinas teaches: Christ is either lunatic, liar, or Lord. He Himself gives us no option but to answer the question in that frame. He claimed He could forgive others' sins: sins committed (on the surface) against other people by other people. That itself is effrontery or lunacy or even diabolical if He is not part of the Godhead. If He cannot actually do that, if He does not really have that power, then He lies or is insane. If He lies or is insane, then we cannot trust anything else He may say or teach or do. It's that simple.

Yet if we choose the example which faith recommends, if we see Him as Lord of all based on His actions in life and death as well as through the testimony of his trusted companions, then we see the need for praise and holy fear which His death illustrates to us. We understand what that death means: that the God of all humanity will not forsake humanity to her own selfish desires. He will give us an out, if you will, by living the greatest love of all: to give one's life for one's friends.

When the greatest One does that, what choice do we have but to call it Good?

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Legal Does Not Mean Moral

Never forget that everything Hitler did in Germany was legal. Never forget that everything the Founding Fathers did was not.

-Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Much hay is made over the idea that legality equals morality. Yet one moment's reflection by any person of serious thought can demonstrate that such is not necessarily the case.

We must be very careful with any premise which asserts that simply because the leaders of any given nation at any given time or in any given place say something is okay that it is in fact okay. The supporters of atrocities such as abortion regularly and flippantly assert that as it is legal it is moral. Well, as the old saw goes, slavery was once legal. Does that mean slavery, when legal, is moral?

Of course not. Only a fool would build a system of right and wrong on such an axiom. It would result in nothing short of an ethical house of cards, subject to the violence of the summer breeze and the whims of the short sighted and thoughtless soul.

Still, we have essentially done just that in the United States today. The issues involved are not even so heinous as abortion or national health care, either: it is patently immoral to take one man's money to give to another man so that that man can buy a car. Period.

The problem is that when we stray in one area it is too easy to stray in another. To avoid this, we must begin doing what is right because it is right and avoiding wrong because it is wrong. Until we can make that distinction and act properly, we are on the high road to political and social extinction.

The first step in recognizing that is accepting that the best laws are in fact also moral. The first step away is thinking that the legal changes the moral. That is nothing less than Orwellian, and marks nothing less than our doom.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

The Trouble with Science

Note: this is in response to a You Tube video sent me by a friend. The video, featuring Carl Sagan, Bill Nye, and others, purports that science and scientific knowledge is the end all be all of our existence. This is my reply.

-Charles Martin Cosgriff

Well, I agree that the beauty of the universe is not in the atoms which make things up. But I must point out that such is not a scientific judgment; it is fact a philosophic judgment.

Any time you claim something is beautiful you cannot rightly be said to be talking science because your have made a value judgment in calling it beautiful. Value judgments, opinions expressed about the innate quality of any given thing, are based on reason, or what the classical philosophers called Right Reason, things so obviously correct that they are Truth Itself and over which no rational being could disagree.

Science as science ignores this. Indeed popular science (for that is basically what is espoused by the Carl Sagans of our history) isn't actually science at all: it is an expression of their philosophical beliefs about what ultimate truth is. Therefore, scientists such as he who say they are making statements about science, which are in all actuality laced with value, are not themselves being scientific at all. They have stepped into the realm of philosophy.

Nothing wrong with that, but call it what it is. Yet as such, they can make no empirical statements about beauty. The trouble there is that science is all about empiricism: hard factual evidence easily reproducible and recognizable over and over again. Carl Sagan has in fact gone beyond what he claims as his expertise, science.

I can use the same evidence about the complexity of the universe and make a better philosophic claim that it signifies design, that it must have come about via a conscious act: an act of will. An Act of God. Because complexity in and of itself is merely a complexity. When we begin to ask ourselves: Why is it complex? How did it become this way? we have begun to become truly human. We don't look at the merely scientific explanation of an object, which is at the end of the day simply raw data. The meaning of it is philosophical, and then eventually religious.

In short, science answers the 'how' questions. That gives us much good and necessary knowledge. But it is only rote knowledge; no matter how important, it is the least valuable type of knowledge. How we interpret and apply it means so much more, and those issues are not addressed by science at all. The 'why' questions have more meaning because they explain how we ought to be and how we have came about being here. They are addressed by our philosophic and theological outlook, and necessarily imply a God of some sort.

Science is not spiritual. It is not philosophical. It is not religious. But it isn't supposed to be. When it pretends to speak for what it is not, it is wearing the Emperor's New Clothes. It is out of its league.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

The Trump Card

Just how seriously are we to take Donald Trump's presumed decision to run for President? That is a question which will leave the nation hanging for the next few weeks, it seems. But a quick analysis may help to put the possibility in a better light.

If he does run, he will of course be a factor, to the detriment of the other Republican candidates who may be considering a run themselves. The Donald (is he still called that?) may well cast a shadow on any and all who seek the same nomination. This is not necessarily good, and indeed points to one of the flaws in the current American system: that an outsider could well force himself upon the GOP. Sat what you will, neither major party ought to have a potential tasteless candidate forced upon them. Such is not democracy: it is the tyranny of the majority, in this case the mere numbers who may call themselves Republican who would not otherwise or who do not really contribute anything to the Party except an occasional vote. If the formal organization of a political party, any political party, we must stress, must accept a candidate as their standard bearer due to overdemocratized laws, our political system is weaker, not stronger.

Perhaps this is merely a publicity stunt by Mr. Trump. Perhaps; but it would seem that of anybody in America today he least needs more attention. If he does feel that way himself, then we must conclude that it is ego talking more than anything else.

So he questions President Barack Obama's birth. If that is meant to attract people to him then we must believe all the more that he may only be feeding his own sense of self worth. This can only attract the precise element which least needs more attention itself today. We do not need the fringe partisans having greater attention heaped on them. It will do nothing less than distract us from the real work of the 2012 election cycle.

It doesn't seem likely that the GOP would want him as their candidate. As bad as we may look to the rest of the world with our elections (thank you Al Gore for be such a graceless loser) the potential for debacle which a Trump/Obama race would offer is far greater than we as a nation ought to have to suffer. A socialist against a socialite. Who could blame the rest of the world for guffawing at such a race?

Let's hope he doesn't run. Our own regular party candidates on each side of the aisle do a decent enough job of embarrassing America without an inflated ego added to the mix. The Libertarians may get our support after all if Trump actually leads the ticket.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Tax Day Lesson: How We Can Change the Constitution

Much gets said about what's wrong with our government, but little gets said about concrete ways to fix it. To be sure, everyone seems appropriately concerned with the acts and laws of government being constitutional. Yet rarely does anyone actually address the document itself. There are things within it which could be changed or altered to better direct the workings of Washington.

We could start by getting rid of the Fourteenth Amendment. Say what you will about how it has protected the rights of the citizenry, it has nonetheless been used to allow the Federal Government to dip too far into what originally had been considered the realm of the States, and the citizens as well. We forget that in 'championing' the citizens' rights we have seen great abuses of their rights as well. We might just be better off to leave basic human rights to the several states.

The Sixteenth Amendment ought to be trashed as well. In letting the feds dip directly into the pocketbooks of individuals we have expanded their power far beyond the intention of the framers. It must be remembered, as the great Chief Justice John Marshall said, "The power to tax implies the power to destroy." Let the feds get money from the states and from various fees for only their necessary functions.

Let's trash the Seventeenth Amendment while we're at it. If senators were elected by state legislatures as they once were, then they could get back to their true job: representing the states as states. We are a federal system after all: it isn't as though the state governments should have no direct say in federal antics.

This is only for a start, to perhaps begin discussion. Sure, nothing will come of it as the special interests hold too much sway and federal power has become too entrenched. But you got to have a dream: if you don't have a dream, how you gonna make your dreams come true?

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Barack and the Birthers

It is the issue which won't go away, and we will accept our role in keeping it afloat so far as our little influence may have been. Yet it will probably never go away completely; scholars a hundred years after his Presidency will likely still address it. The debate over whether Barack Obama meets the Constitutional qualifications for the Presidency of the United States will never fully end.

So be it. His legacy won't be the first dampened however slightly by vague scandal; that's how history seems to work. There will always be those who look under the rugs in the attic, who peer deeply into empty closets in search of the sensational. But the main trouble today is that the whole birther scheme simply distracts people at both ends of the political spectrum from the real problems our nation currently faces.

To the birthers it must be said: get over it. Get over it for two reasons: one, that Barack Obama indeed meets the qualifications to be President whether you like it or not, and two, even if you are so gosh darn sure he doesn't, the practical matter is that he holds the office anyway and will not be removed until either after the 2012 or 2016 elections. The question is, for all realistic purposes, moot. If you continue to push it you will only be labeled racist, and you indeed hurt the overall conservative effort to remove him via the next election.

To the attackers of the birthers, we must insist that it simply isn't fair to dismiss the birthers as racists. That's what the philosophers call the hasty generalization: lumping everyone who questions a certain point or who ask for a certain standard into one camp. There is not one thing wrong, in itself, with requiring presidential candidates to prove who they are. Period. Besides, it is at the very least possible that maybe some of those who want such proof are actually concerned with the direction of the nation? Or that it may be politics and not race which drives the issue? Yet even if some in the movement are in fact racist, and we must, sadly, allow that some may be, that does not and cannot mean that demanding proof of citizenship for presidential aspirants is wrong in itself. In fact, such proof would prevent this type of issue from coming up again.

To the general charge of racism, it is interesting to note that supporters of the President have quietly (and sometimes not so quietly) hinted that any opponent of Mr. Obama must be a latent racist. Perhaps; we must allow that this could be the case, on an individual basis. But has anyone ever considered that maybe some of his supporters are themselves guilty of racism? Indeed, that they may be guilty of that kind of patronizing racism which hurts more than it helps, which in itself is insulting to Mr. Obama's dignity? How many supporters of the President voted for him precisely because he is black? That's hardly a vote on the content of his character.

In short, to the birthers, shut up already. You only muddy the waters. To the opponents of the birthers, put a sock in it too. You only jump to conclusions which are unfair and often insulting in themselves.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

The Birther Bill and the Budget Bill

The Arizona Legislature has approved a law which would presidential aspirants ts to prove they meet the Constitutional standards for the office. And what's wrong wi8th that? We have to our citizenship for all sorts of reasons, such as getting back into our own country legally. What's wrong with demanding proof that any given candidate was a natural born US citizen? While this salvo may well be aimed at President Barack Obama, that in itself does make it unreasonable.

The Federal House of Representatives has approved a budget for 2012. The vote was along party lines. This is good. It will allow everyone to see who stands for what in the upcoming 2012 elections. It further shows that the Republicans are standing their ground. That is their best hope of becoming a majority party in 2012 and beyond.

It doesn't matter that the measure will likely die in the Senate. What matters now is that the GOP continues to display to the public that genuine differences exist between the two major parties. The people will learn from actions, not words.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Canada = North Korea?

No world order that elevates one nation or group over another will succeed. No balance of power among nations will hold.

-President Barack Obama, in a speech to the United Nations

Here we have, in a nice and concise form, President Obama's foreign policy. If it sounds the least bit treacly, well, it should. It is a variation on what has now become the old theme of why can't we all just get along. It is an assertion that all nations, just like all people, you know, are at heart the same. Yet before any of you begin to dismiss this as a preamble to a rant on the glories of America, let us toss out for you to consider two examples of world nationhood: Canada and North Korea.

Is there anyone willing to argue that those two countries are of equal stature in the family of nations? Can anyone, seriously, and with a straight face, assert that each has the same moral validity? Do they each deserve an equal say in world affairs? Oh, sure, we may have to deal with the one simply as an exercise in practical politics. Yet the Canadians seem a reasonably reasonable people.

We do hope that that went over as the wry, humorous comment in the spirit of which it was intended. Because, of course, it is much easier in reality to deal with our northern neighbors than it is with the despotic regime in North Korea. Which is, of further course, the point. The nations of the world are no more equal in form and substance than individual human beings are. It is silly to act as though they were, and contrary to any rational foreign policy aims. Of any given nation, not only of the United States.

Seeing nations as moral equals merely by the evidence of their nationhood is bad policy. Even the United Nations doesn't believe it: would we be bombing Libya if it did? If all nations were on equal footing, why aren't we leaving Gaddafi alone?

We must make judgments about the actions of nations in the same way as we must make judgments about the actions of people. Some people will simply refuse to do the right thing. So will some nations. The difference is that the former don't have the capacity to threaten entire regions, if not the entire world. We will have no security until we take off the rose colored glasses which see a false equality among nations.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

No State Campgrounds

The Sate of Michigan plans to close twenty three state owned campgrounds this coming May. They are mostly in the Upper Peninsula and the the northern Lower Peninsula, yet those details really don't matter. What is matters is whether we ought to have state owned and maintained campgrounds at all.

One reason given is to make camping cheaper and more available to all. Well, if so many people wanted to do that, why are these being closed? Lack of use, really, which is likely complicated by the distance they are from major cities. But it must also serve as a hint that maybe there isn't actually a demand for the campsites at all. If anyone wanted to use them, they would be used. But again, this begs the question of why the State should be in the recreation business.

To help folks get out and enjoy the country? What, with hundreds of others right on top of them? Still, the ultimate question is ignored: should the State be in this business? When we talk about government spending and what and where to cut, recreation seems one of the most logical areas to cut, if not fully eliminate.

Why should the general public pay for what is not generally used by the public? How many Michigan residents actually camp? Even if the number is as high as 1 in 3, which strikes us as high, aren't we still dealing with a special interest?

In the end, having Lansing pay for campgrounds is a little like having Lansing pay for someone's baseball tickets. If you can't afford to go to the ballgame, then you shouldn't go. If you can't afford to camp, then why are you camping? If you can afford to pay for the full costs of camping, then you should. It's as simple as that. Anything else is simply putting pressure on the public coffers for your own benefit. It's exactly these types of middle class quasi-entitlements which break our government budgets. If you care that we spend too much public dough, then this and other areas are where you ought to be seeking spending cuts.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Why Active Homosexuality is Wrong

There are those who support gay marriage and gay rights based on two interesting ideas: that we find examples of homosexuality within the animal kingdom, and, as some people may be born with homosexual desires we must allow them to act on them. They are each poor indicators of what may determine proper human action.

What the lower animals do or do not do has no relevance to the question. We have intellect; they do not. We can judge our actions; they cannot judge theirs. We can interpret and infer meaning; they cannot. We can intend; they cannot. Ours is the realm of action; theirs is the world of reaction. They know no meaning. So what they do, as it is on a purely animal plain, really has no bearing on what we ought or ought not do. Our nature is on a deeper, more profound level.

That children are born of nature cannot be denied. That they are born with issues which are difficult to resolve due to their genetic makeup or whatnot is also beyond question. But if they cannot help but act on them, then isn't free will out the window? And isn't the person thus born with an ill temper, if we are to allow that we must condone active homosexuality simply because certain folks were born that way, within his rights to throw a tantrum when he doesn't get his way? How can we tell the person born with a short fuse to keep his temper if he was merely born that way?

We infer that active homosexuality is a moral wrong because by nature it is clear that sex should be between a man and a woman. We should explain that when speaking of nature we are appealing to an ideal which can be reasonably inferred from the obviously imperfect nature we deal with day in and day out. In such a regard, it is rather like Plato's idea of Forms: we see things as they are, but that very sight gives us an idea of what they ought to be. It's a bit of a loose interpretation, but we like it.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Got any Change, Buddy?

Embracing change is easy. Embracing Orthodoxy is the real challenge.

-a paraphrase of Mr. G. K. Chesterton

We hear it all the time, don't we, fellow conservatives? We hear the importance of embracing change, of being willing to change, of the need to alter our beliefs and desires to the will and whim of the current society. That's all we need to do is embrace the change which the modern society wishes us to do.

If they meant for us to change in the sense of becoming truly better persons, of changing from bad habit to good, of learning to like what we ought and dislike what we ought as well, of becoming more truly and usefully charitable and kind, there would be no problem. But they don't mean that. They mean, 'accept our ways of thinking and acting'. Or, more precisely, accept the change we want imposed on you.

But the trouble with accepting change merely as it is change, merely because it is what modern society may want rather than what may really help both the individual and the world at large, it that it will leave us we know not where. For accepting it is simple. Do nothing, reflect on nothing, question nothing, and change will occur. There's no effort involved.

Yet embracing Orthodoxy, and we capitalize it on purpose, accepting and living by proper traditions, now that's the challenge. That's where we grow and nurture our selves and our souls. That's how we create better people and a better world. By living right according to the just precepts which have been with us since the dawn of time. Change is all right, yes, if done to that purpose.

Otherwise, it will happen anyway. But would you rather do what you can to control change, or merely be stuck in its tight and unwieldy (and worldly) groove, as Mr. Chesterton also suggests? For you will lose control of yourself by merely agreeing to eternally change. Yet tradition works. That's how it became traditional in the first place.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Agree to Disagree?

All too often, when we find ourselves in disagreement with our political and philosophical fellows (which seems, indeed, all too often) it is suggested, why can't we all just get along?, and further, why can't we just agree to disagree? Well, because that's just talk, and talk is cheap.

We should, of course, strive to get along with everyone we meet no matter where we find ourselves on the issues. We can get along even when significant differences are involved, so long as the debate is kept civil. But as to agreeing to disagree? That is simply a tool which the left uses in an attempt to shut the right up, because on the issues with which we disagree, quite often the laws and society are already on their side. It is easy to say let's just agree to disagree when you have what you want in place.

So, how about we change the law and make abortion illegal and then agree to disagree? Why not enact a Constitutional amendment defining marriage as between one man and one woman and then agree to disagree? Ahem, my dear conservatives, that's because we really don't want to agree to disagree. We want you to accept our judgment, and check yours at the voting booth curtain or courthouse door.

They look down their noses from such tall pedestals that they will not even consider that maybe, just maybe, what they ask for is selfish and inane. Such is the height of liberal hypocrisy.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

LLC again: Why Social Issues must be Addressed in the Legal Arena

The other day we spoke here about the relative closeness of libertarians and conservatives. One interesting response to that assertion was that, while conservatives may talk the talk, they don't walk the walk. They use the courts the same way as liberals on issues such as marriage, drug use, and censorship. It is a point which merits a bit of follow up commentary.

For now, we'll set aside the question of how often conservatives go to court as opposed to their liberal friends. This is not because the point ought not be addressed but instead that it would be rather time consuming to do a full compare and contrast analysis right this minute. If we do not forget, or unless we simply get lazy (that happens sometimes at the Wayne County Conservative Examiner's Office) we shall look into it soon. But right this second we will content ourselves to point out that, in charging that the liberals go to court far too often and selfishly, we do not say that the legal route is always an invalid one. We only say that they pursue it too quickly, and without due regard to the legislative process or the actual meaning and intent of the US Constitution. If and where conservatives may also do as much, they would be subject to similar criticism.

Now, in talking about the issues of marriage, drug use, and censorship, indeed when addressing almost any of the so called social issues, there are two basic points when considering them in relation to the conservative/libertarian spectrum. The first is that they fall into the very areas where we have admitted differences between the two groups exist. They matter and must be discussed. The second is that, hopefully, anyway, we also disagree on them out of concern for the dignity of the individual as within the economic realm.

Libertarians assert that it is up to the individual when it comes to issues which do not, on the surface, appear to affect anyone else. Conservatives, ideally, anyways, stress that the point is not so simple. Your free will acts may well affect others, and must be tempered by good judgment. Indeed, it is the concern for the dignity of the person which calls us to enact laws which protect that dignity even if the persons involved may not want (or, especially, be able to use) such defenses. That is why abortion must be illegal: we are dealing, by any measure of Right Reason, with a person who cannot defend themselves. We need good law with such questions, even if it may seem, in some quarters, to be overreaching. With justice, it is difficult to overreach.

Then, too, with areas such as marriage, it is in fact out of respect for the person that society can and must define legal marriage. Not only because marriage and the family are the building blocks of society and as such a hearty, civil society requires a hearty, stable, and just family and personal environment, but because it may affect the rights of others in areas which get swept under the rug if they are considered at all.

Is a factory owner who opposes same sex marriage morally obliged to offer marital benefits to such a couple, when one of them is his employee? Either way you answer that question, notice closely what you are doing as you do it: defining marriage, and attempting ultimately to force whatever definition you come up with upon others. Without laws regulating what marriage means, on what grounds can we act in support of either belief?

Or do we simply leave the question hanging? That will only work if everyone agrees to it, and that won't happen. It won't happen because it shouldn't happen, and it won't happen because no one, liberal or conservative or libertarian, can or will let it go. We must address it, out of a proper concern for the human dignity of any and all involved, as well to give the correct legal standing to the point.

You get the gist by now. The dignity of the person is a question which does not apply solely to economic rights and responsibilities. Conservatives believe that; we think that in their hearts libertarians do too. If they did not, they wouldn't make an issue of such things themselves.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Shut Washington Down

So, unless a settlement should occur in the next few hours, or even in the next few minutes as this is being written, the Federal Government will shut down. What is our reaction to such a tragedy?

Let it.

It is time to play hardball on federal spending. It is time to show the Democrats that Republicans actually mean what they say. It is time to take the bull by the horns and make real cuts and show the people that their government is responsible. It is time to show that a shutdown of Washington really wouldn't be all that bad.

Let the Federal Government shut down. We may well be the better for it.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

The LLC Connection

We have written several times herein about the political spectrum of liberals, conservatives, and libertarians. Indeed, we have gone so far as to say that libertarians are really just liberals who happen to be fiscal conservatives. This is an idea which was, it seemed, cemented at a recent time when we read that some some libertarians have come to like the term 'liberaltarians'(we must thank a friend of a friend who pointed this out). But sometimes other things come along which give us pause.

In a speech given at Hillsdale College here in Michigan and reprinted in their neat little pamphlet called Imprimis (the particular article can be found here: http://www.hillsdale.edu/news/imprimis.asp) William McGurn, a former speechwriter for George W. Bush, makes the case that libertarians and conservatives are actually much closer. Why? Due to the libertarian emphasis on economics and economic justice.

It is a fascinating speech and we will not attempt to repeat it in detail. But the gist is that what conservatives and those who share the ideal of economic freedom have in common is the belief that it is freedom which drives the machine which improves the human condition. This is because freedom allows greater innovations and deeper thought in decision making than any type of state controls might allow. Freedom invented the wheel, the cam, and the steam engine. Freedom eradicated disease. Freedom improved agriculture, advanced science, and opened minds. And why does freedom work?

Because it offers a positive trust in the individual.

This is not to say that what individuals may or may not do is boundless. But it is to say that, where there is no moral affront involved, freedom works. To be sure, and Mr. McGurn points this out, there are differences between libertarians and conservatives, and the differences matter. Still, it is at least arguable that the right wing and the libertarian are closer than the latter may be to the liberal because the liberal ultimately believes in government control of people and things despite how he may protest otherwise. That's why they go to the bureaucrats and the courts when the don't get their way. They believe in force, not freedom.

We are closer, perhaps, to libertarians than liberals are because we share, even if from different starting points, the same essential belief in individual human beings. The full bodied libertarian and the blue blooded conservative are so much concerned about human relations that it makes differences more acute, precisely because we are seeking to do and support what's right. Liberals believe in a vague, amorphous humanity, defined ultimately by their whim. Conservatives and libertarians believe in real, flesh and blood people.

Mr. McGurn suggests that we are sides of a coin. It is an idea which deserves more discussion.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Science and Religion

No good Christian would have any issue with good science. Indeed Christianity and science go rather well together, as better thinkers than myself have said in better ways than I for years. Yet there is a breed of science which will have no quarter with any ideals save its own. It is the realm of pop science, and its followers are legion.

Pop science is most noticeable in the area of global warming, but exists in many other forms. Environmentalists who see the Earth as better off without human beings and those who insist on evolution as the only acceptable theory on the origin of people and things are two other examples. We should of course be concerned with meteorological cycles and I will admit that we have not always used our resources wisely; further, we must allow that evolution may well be fact. All of this is, to one degree or another, open to reasoned debate. But what is truly galling about pop science is how it so readily dismisses religious belief when it is so nearly a religion itself.

You don’t think so? If not, why the presumption (for that is all it is; who out there has observed a world without US in order to rationally make such a judgment?) the earth would be better without humans? Science is the area of fact and observation; value judgments are beyond its scope. Likewise the assumption that short term warming is bad, or that all the matter in the Universe was once compacted into an object the size of a basketball which just happened to be around (while the possibility of God just being around is deemed fantasy). What do these beliefs sound like? What do they appear based upon?

The answer is obvious: faith. The pop culture, of which pop science is a part, believes what it believes simply on the faith that it's true. They believe because it is what their conclusions lead them to think. Which is not to say that, on a case by case basis, there may be no reason for their faith. It purely illustrates that their ideas emanate from what the religious readily admit about theirs: knowledge is ultimately built upon axioms, starting points which are simply accepted as true. We believe in God because without an uncreated Creator nothing makes sense. They believe in the big bang basketball because, well, matter had to start from somewhere.

So you see, much of today’s science and religion share an approach to their creeds. It is not unfair to say, in a very real sense, that science is religion.

Let’s see if the evolutionists can handle the rebound.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Recycling Simply Isn't That Important

Today is the day that we take our recyclables to the recycling center. As I've mentioned before I'm not particularly a fan of recycling. That does not, however, mean I am diametrically opposed to it.

Unless I miss my guess, I think the conservative position on recycling is akin to the conservative position on almost everything else: if it's necessary, truly useful, advances the safety of human beings or, quite frankly, if it pays without violating any moral norms, we are open to it. This list by no means exhausts the questions we might have about recycling or any other issue. It merely sets the table for discussion.

We are not, no matter what liberals may say about us, obstinately opposed to change. We only ask that the change is genuinely worthwhile or serves a greater purpose than what we were doing before. There's no point being fools about it: if recycling is what we have to do to keep planet Earth habitable for us, then we should do it. I am not convinced that it saves the planet all that much wear and tear. I am merely stating that if it can be reliably demonstrated that without recycling we, or our heirs, will die out due to our lack of proper stewardship, then we ought to recycle heavily.

The trouble is that I don't see that being the case, and the burden of proof must lie on the shoulders of those who think it is rather than on those of us don't. It is fair to ask: why must I change my habits because you think it good? Give me something concrete and we'll talk. Otherwise, I am well within my rights to wonder whether anything projected over a large scale is actually predictable. Telling me that without recycling we'll be piled with trash or run over with landfills within a couple hundred years is nonsense on its own face. Scare tactics merely scare. How about a little rationality, a little perspective? If you're right, the sanity of your cause will come through.

Why shouldn't I ask whether the process will pay me? It strikes me that we give away paper, plastic, glass jars and so on, solely for someone else to benefit from it. If it pays, why can't I get paid for it? The answer, essentially, is that these products don't really pay anyone unless given to them. They must be had in large quantities or they aren't worth handling; the true value of those products are virtually nil. Yet I can and have gotten cold hard cash out of my scrap iron, aluminum, and copper. Why? Because they hold a decent value even after their initial use. Even now I am willing to concede that if there is a greater necessity, something beyond monetary value which I ought to consider, then I should consider it. If we will die out by about 2025, or especially by next Tuesday, without recycling, then let's do it and forget about who gets paid what. Otherwise, it's just scare tactics again.

Is recycling truly useful? Certainly for a few, but for the general society? You're asking that a lot of people go to a significant effort to turn in garbage; again, where is the empirical proof or practical reason for it? I'm not all that interested in how recyclables are used outside of that context. So there are playgrounds where shredded old tires can soften a kid's fall: would there be no other ways of doing this, ways perhaps better, with new materials? I don't know the answer. I'm only asking. But I am within my rights to expect a good answer.

As it stands now, my attitude is live and let live. If you want to recycle, then recycle. Only don't force your preferences upon me without just cause. Your say so, no matter how heartfelt, is not good enough.

Monday, April 4, 2011

The President seeks Re-election

President Barack Obama has announced that he will seek re-election for the office of President of the United States. No surprise there, of course, and he has a couple big advantages over his Republican fellows which with he may make hay. He will face no primary opposition, a situation few incumbents face anyway, and incumbency itself means so very much. It's pretty easy to have your face in the news every day when you're already in the Oval Office.

That does not mean that his road will not be bumpy. His party and his political creed are relatively unpopular these days. Further, the President will need the twenty months or so which he's got in order to shore up a base which has itself soured on him. Elected largely on an anti-war platform (despite any pledge to ramp up the actions in Afghanistan) he has actually spread war. Libya is not going to go away soon, and that's something he cannot blame on his GOP counterparts. The gyrations he will be forced into in defending that course shall indeed be fascinating. It's always different when it's your army rather than the other guy's eh?

He said in announcing his candidacy that change takes time. This certainly true, especially when considering we have an American constitutional system which basically forces slow alterations to our structures and policies and an American people who resist drastic shifts to their thoughts and acts. Say what you will, Mr. Obama has definitely shown a willingness to push his views by any means necessary. If that's the definition of a leader, he qualifies.

Yet a true leader is more than that. A true leader knows the necessary from the optional, the constitutional from the illegal, the right from the wrong. The 2010 elections hold something of a lesson in how the American voters view such things. That in itself will likely be that biggest hurdle the President faces. Can he make them believe that he really knows what's best, what's right, for all of us?

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Afghan deaths are not Terry Jones' Fault

Three United Nations workers and four Nepalese guards were killed in Afghanistan recently during the route of a protest aimed at revenge for a Florida pastor's having burned copies of the Quran. Revenge, mind you, being the very operative term here. Staffan de Mistura, the top U.N. envoy in Afghanistan, put the blame squarely on the shoulders of the pastor. "The demonstration was meant to protest against the insane and totally despicable gesture by one person who burned the holy Quran," he said.

Granting that this is true, and there is little reason to doubt that in the direct and immediate sense it is, it still seems as though a further, and worse, quite frankly, 'insane and totally despicable gesture' has occurred. That gesture is precisely what was perpetrated by the protesters in Afghanistan.

We are told, almost incessantly, that Islam is the 'religion of peace'. Yet the actions of those purporting to practice the Muslim faith appear to say exactly the opposite: mock us and we will kill you. With any provocation, we will not turn the other cheek, but, rather, hunt you down and extract vengeance for your crimes. Even if those we choose to exact our revenge upon are not particularly close to the source.

What the Reverend Terry Jones did is indeed reprehensible and indefensible. There is no case in its favor. Yet in the same manner, what he did cannot ever be seen as a defense of what that Afghan crowd did either. Blaming him for the deaths of those UN workers and guards, even tangentally, lets the mob off the hook. They murdered seven innocents. That is not and never will be fully on the soul of Terry Jones. It will be primarily on the hands of the murderers themselves, and nothing less.

To say it any other way is to ignore the real cause of this most heinous act. The real sin lay with those who committed willful murder. The blood of the victims is not on the hands of a peripheral American minister. It stains only the religion it claims to believe in and live.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

The FDA's New Food Regulations

In what can only be seen as another shallow attempt by the government to do something which feels good rather than what is substantial, the Food and Drug Administration has proposed that restaurants include calorie counts on their menus by 2012. After all, you already get that information, courtesy of the FDA, on prepackaged foods you prepare or eat at home. Why not have the restaurants do it too?

Oh, let's see: maybe because your health is your job? Could it be that what you eat is your responsibility? Yes, yes, we know the obvious and vacuous reply to that: because those bad old food companies won't offer the information without being forced. Heaven forbid that the American people force it themselves by demanding it on their own, if that's so important to them.

But, you must understand, the government can't have citizens going around looking out for themselves now, can it? Because, of course, they might begin to see something which Washington, and even Lansing and Detroit and Wayne County (albeit to lesser degrees) don't want you to see. You might begin to realize that you're a big boy, you're a big girl, and you can make your own choices in these and other personal areas. You may begin to think that, horror of horrors, you simply do not need government to the depth and degree which government says we need it.

Yet the longer we accept such pandering, the less chance of our becoming truly independent human beings. What really can be said is good for us when we are not able to see it for ourselves?

Friday, April 1, 2011

It's Not All About What Folks Will Buy

I am a free market enthusiast through and through, but I do believe that the capitalists (particularly the more libertarian ones) do need to keep one thing in mind: something is not moral merely because there is a market for it.

Nothing wrong with making money, of course. As a rule. Yet there are ways of making money which are morally abhorrent. The whole sex trade, to be sure, or products which are seriously and significantly offensive. No one ought to see Calvin urinating on a Ford symbol, for example. That people will buy this sort of thing is not the point; nor is the point that human freedom may call for grudging toleration of such things. The ultimate point must be that the act or product must be moral in and of itself in order to be moral in the marketplace.

I am not saying that the government should become involved in regulating what are admittedly often only juvenile paraphernalia. Still, it would nice if the markets would be a bit more self regulating and eschew such garbage.

To rephrase an old saw, I have come to the conclusion that capitalism is the worst economic system except for all the other economic systems. It is a sobering thought.