Tuesday, December 4, 2012
There are somewhere in the area of 2,000, two thousand, an outstanding number when you consider how relatively few men have played professional football, former NFL football players suing the National Football League for failure to address the physical and psychological damage the game has done to them. Many former football players have publicly stated that they will not encourage their sons to play football. Why? Because it is too brutal.
Too brutal. Yet we as a nation encourage this activity.
What does this say about us as that nation? It is not something we care to dwell upon. Should we dwell upon it, it might cause us to ask questions which we do not want to answer, let alone ask. Such questions which may cause us to ponder whether we ought to feel as we feel on Sunday afternoons in the fall in the good old U. S. of A.
We don't ask, because it will harsh our buzz. We just want to be entertained. If that means watching grown men possibly scaring themselves for life, even when freely choosing to do so, it's okay. We need that, it seems.
Do we also need former players so messed up that they will not watch the game, a la Mike Webster? Do we care about that? After all, they chose to go down that road. Is that our problem?
Yes, quite frankly, it is. When we as a society encourage young men to behave that way, it is our problem. Their lives are on us. Lives like these: http://www.gq.com/sports/profiles/200909/nfl-players-brain-dementia-study-memory-concussions?currentPage=2
We can regret them, of course. Yet we can do more. We can question whether we ought continue to support a mentality which says this okay. We can question whether our values need to be prioritized better. We can do that.
But we won't. We're Americans, after all. We don't need to question our motives. We're the best.
What is left, then, is the penultimate question: who will explain that to Mike Webster?
Monday, December 3, 2012
Similarly, they say that men shouldn't legislate about banning abortion, because they can't really understand what that might mean to women. But they don't hold the same point with male lawmakers who vote for abortion rights, even though they presumably can't understand woman's needs either. Indeed, whenever a man supports a so-called woman's right in a way which women (or, should we say, liberal women) like, he is not condemned. But why should male affirmation mean any more than male denial if men cannot possibly understand a woman's position?
Two things come up here. One is that it is arrogant to assert that men cannot understand a woman's rights merely because they're men. Women sure don't mind respecting a man's opinion if it coincides with theirs; dismissing male opinion as automatically wrongheaded if it disagrees with a woman's is, simply, hubris.
Two, it is more likely that someone not directly involved in an issue would be more readily impartial than someone who wants a certain outcome. We have umpires and referees in sports precisely because, although they may not be the actual players, they are expected and indeed are more likely to be impartial than the players. An umpire says safe or out independent of the player, who would more likely rule his own way given the chance.
This isn't to say that all umpires are right and all players wrong each and every time. But it is to say that objective right is something anyone can grasp if they want it. Whether the rule maker or opinion giver is male or female means nothing to right and wrong about anyone or anything.
Sunday, December 2, 2012
The wish always survives. People will speak of it well after we're gone. In Detroit, we wish that Tyrus Raymond Cobb should be thought of as the greatest baseball player ever. But more than that, we wish that he was a better man than much of history portrays him.
This sort of enigma plagues us. We want our heroes to be larger than life; that much is understandable. Why worship them otherwise? Yet life gets in the way. We hear things, we read things, and even our conscience tells us we should think one way rather than another. Still, we want, very much in fact, to think another way.
The fact of the matter is we want heroes. Really, we need heroes. We need people to aspire towards. We need to know that there are others who care for others more than we do. So we overlay our needs across the imperfect.
So, enter Ty Cobb. The dirtiest player in all of baseball history. No one seems to dispute that. Yet there are many stories coming out which attempt to tell an alternate tale.
There's no point to going into the bad now. Cobb is dead and gone, and the dead deserve their good name. He was philanthropic in his private life, a demon on the diamond. An enigma; something we simply don't get. We wish that we were like the former. Yet we want to be the latter, even knowing there's something wrong with that.
We are of two such minds in America today. Does it drive us, inspire us, or condemn us? Does it make us all that we can be, or less than we should be?
Saturday, December 1, 2012
There are folks who opine that free speech means the right to say offensive things. They forget that there are two ways in which someone is offended: either when the listener is a fool, or when the speech in question is genuinely offensive.
No one has a moral right to voice offensive remarks solely for the sake of making offense; that is simply rudeness at best and insulting and vulgar at worst. To say that they have such a right under the guise of free speech is really only to hide irresponsible behavior behind a pretty face. As rights only grow from responsibilities, it is reasonable to argue that the right to speak freely comes from the obligation to speak truthfully, in the reasonable interests of ourselves and the general society, and considerately, so far as circumstances may allow.
Still, the only way to really stifle morally offensive speech is censorship, and the problem with censorship is that it is only good when good people are in charge. When bad people hold the reigns, then good and necessary free speech will be prohibited. It is a risk we cannot take.
In the end, though, no one has the right to say offensive things, but merely the practical option of expressing them freely. No one has the right to be wrong in the truest sense of the term, but only the free will to be in the wrong. Until we understand that, we really won't understand the importance of a well regulated freedom at all.
Rights must be viewed in their proper perspective. They are not, not a one of them, open ended and subject to mere personal interpretation. We may treat some select few of them as absolute, but only due to abject necessity. Actions which beg the true nature of free speech do not promote but instead denigrate the right. They make us less than we can be and less than we should be. We should be good and decent people.
Thursday, November 29, 2012
This is a fancy name for group work. The kids are assembled together in small groups to do a project, often made up of smarter students along with, ah, challenged learners, and the magic happens. Everyone learns and everyone's happy.
Except that those of us who remember such group work projects remember well that that ain't the way it happens. The smarter ones drag along the rest, and the rest appreciate that they don't have to work as hard while earning (yeah, right) a better grade at our cost.
But wait! The education elite have discovered a way around that. Simply assign segments of the project to individuals within the group.
But how does that help? If it really does anything at all, it means that the better students risk not knowing the object of the project (sorry, silly Suessian slip of the tongue) in its entirety because some parts of it aren't their responsibility. Besides, hasn't that made the project individual rather than group anyway? Why bother then?
To cut straight to the chase, why is it that we expect students who presumably don't know anything about something to be able to master it on their own especially (as is often the case) when working with other students who don't care as much as they do? Why is a teacher present anyway if the pupils, or some of them, that is, are expected to do their job? Further, how much time is wasted on these projects? How much more material could be covered, and how much deeper would the understanding and appreciation of a subject be, with a traditional pedagogue at the front of a classroom keeping things moving?
The entire idea of group work is patently ridiculous. It eases the teacher's job more than anything else by blowing it off on twelve year olds. All that can do is inspire them to become teachers, where they can collect a paycheck at others' expense. All the while, we wonder where America's work ethic has gone.
It has done nothing but follow its teachers.
Wednesday, November 28, 2012
It goes without saying, although conservatives will be accused of it by the liberal hate mongers, that no sane man or woman should oppose a cure for such a dreadful disease. Still, that doesn't mean that the Feds have to spearhead the drive for a cure. But more than that, this particular situation illustrates something about the whole anti-AIDS crusade which merits comment.
The protesters certainly went for the dramatic yesterday. They are more than willing to point out how 'we', that is, the rest of the country, have to help end AIDS. Yet what would happen should we turn that questions around? What would the response be should we ask the protesters and, by extension, those with AIDS, what exactly they are doing about it?
This is where the liberal haters would jump in with full force on both feet. You know where this line of thought is going already, don't you? Because conservatives, indeed anyone with a thoughtful and open mind, might ask of those who want continued government funding, are you engaging in behaviors which might or have increased your chances of contracting AIDS? Are you doing drugs or living a homosexual lifestyle, especially a promiscuous one? In short, how much danger are you putting yourself in before you demand that we, again, the rest of us, those who aren't putting ourselves at risk, save you from that activity?
This is not to say that AIDS should not be fought. It should, and it should be given the best fight we can offer. Still, if we simply point out that certain behaviors carry certain risks and that perhaps it would be a good idea if you didn't engage in them, we're intolerant and bigoted haters. That is nothing more than jumping to conclusions about the morality of the behaviors in question. It is simply liberal hyperbole. It's a fair question before we even broach the aspect of sexual right and wrong: why act in ways which may well kill you?
But what will we be told after asking that question? Basically, that how people act is none of our business. This leads to the next question: then how can they deign to tell us how to act with regard to, well, anything, much less their self indulgent folly? How is it they can tell us how to act, yet we become hateful when questioning their actions?
Once more, this is not to say that AIDS should not be fought. We realize too that some of those who have contracted it are wholly innocent of any immorality or poor judgment. It is only to point out one more bit of liberal hypocrisy: we can't question their behavior, but they sure can demand our action when their behaviors cause problems (and more to them than anyone else at that).
When someone else can do whatever they want without any judgments about the propriety of their actions, it is effrontery to demand that they can tell you what to do about yours. But that's simply the arrogance of the left. We're right, you're wrong, and that's that.
Yet we're the ones with the God complex. Go figure.
Sunday, November 25, 2012
He has a niece who has a 'partner'. He frets that one of his grandchildren may be homosexual or lesbian and fears for what they may have to put up with should that be the case. In short, he's in favor of it because it allows him to not properly council family members. By sidestepping the issue, by not seriously considering it, he does not have to face it.
Surely such a man realizes that no Church worth its salt would embrace its members without also attempting to instruct them in living rightly. Isn't that what other churches, those who support gay 'marriage', are tying to do towards Catholics and others who do not support it? Why are Catholics intolerant and hateful for standing up for their creed? Why aren't liberal church goers hate mongers for being unwilling to tolerate Catholics as Catholic?
But again, his position is clouded by his self centered will. He lacks what may be called Integrity of Position: he is so close to the question that he cannot judge it objectively. And it makes his position irrelevant.
This is why we have courts and judges in civil society, and priests and ministers in the theological world. We need objective observers to guide us towards what is right and true. To be sure, it's okay to support things we like if we have a right to them. Yet the key there is that we have a right to what is right. We have no right to be wrong pr do wrong.
And we have an obligation to inform ourselves about what is wrong. Good Churches help us with that. But the temple of the individual person too often helps only itself.
Saturday, November 24, 2012
It's a dose of reality which, one would hope, might cause western liberals to rethink themselves and their positions. They simply don't want to accept that merely removing a dictator doesn't mean that better days are ahead. Indeed if history teaches us anything, it teaches that, far too often, it simply puts in place another dictator.
The supporters of the Arab Spring are little different than those who cheered the fall of the Shah of Iran in the late 1970s. But what was left in its wake? An Iran under a far greater tyranny which lasts until today. An Iran which, you may notice, was strangely unaffected by the protests within other Arabic nations.
So while there appears to have been some progress towards more democratic societies in the Middle East, the steps taken have been small and uncertain. And that's where there has been no widespread violence or upheaval. Only the richer nations seem to be weathering the storm well.
That says something, something the left and libertarians don't seem to recognize. There are two factors at play here. The first is that popular uprisings or popular movements generally only work out in the long run where there is a reasonably educated leadership. The transition from apartheid in South Africa to a reasonably stable democracy was fueled by a body politic which had leaders who respected the people and had some idea of how to lead and where to lead them. What they sought was accomplished over much time, and with the needed patience necessary to the long term health of the movement and its host nation as well. The second is that of prosperity. The Saudis and the Kuwaitis made reforms because, while the demand for change was extant, there was a corollary understanding that they were reasonably well off anyway. No one wanted to rock that boat too harshly, lest it list and eventually sink.
You can't just throw out a dictator without a solid alternative available. Even then, that alternative must be reasonable; can someone say Hitler? Far too many people have the idea that the solution to a dictator is merely his removal. We see in Egypt that that is nothing less than shortsighted. At worst, it will lead to a worse dictator, or even something worse than that. It could well lead to a civil war which will only put a nation light years behind attaining a true and good democracy.
Friday, November 23, 2012
Thursday, November 22, 2012
Now, therefore, I do recommend and assign Thursday, the 26th day of November next, to be devoted by the people of these States to the service of that great and glorious Being who is the beneficent author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be; that we may then all unite in rendering unto Him our sincere and humble thanks for His kind care and protection of the people of this country previous to their becoming a nation; for the signal and manifold mercies and the favorable interpositions of His providence in the course and conclusion of the late war; for the great degree of tranquility, union, and plenty which we have since enjoyed; for the peaceable and rational manner in which we have been enable to establish constitutions of government for our safety and happiness, and particularly the national one now lately instituted for the civil and religious liberty with which we are blessed, and the means we have of acquiring and diffusing useful knowledge; and, in general, for all the great and various favors which He has been pleased to confer upon us.
And also that we may then unite in most humbly offering our prayers and supplications to the great Lord and Ruler of Nations and beseech Him to pardon our national and other transgressions; to enable us all, whether in public or private stations, to perform our several and relative duties properly and punctually; to render our National Government a blessing to all the people by constantly being a Government of wise, just, and constitutional laws, discreetly and faithfully executed and obeyed; to protect and guide all sovereigns and nations (especially such as have shown kindness to us), and to bless them with good governments, peace, and concord; to promote the knowledge and practice of true religion and virtue, and the increase of science among them and us; and, generally to grant unto all mankind such a degree of temporal prosperity as He alone knows to be best.
George Washington's Thanksgiving Proclamation, 1789
Anyone who claims that we weren't founded on Christian principles, read these words well and carefully. And have a wonderful and happy Thanksgiving in that light.
Tuesday, November 20, 2012
I want what I cannot on this earth have. I want to be free and brave and bold and happy, all the things not really available on this world.
Lewis takes that a step farther. He argues, quite sensibly, I think, that we would not have such a feeling if it were not possible that such a feeling could not somehow, someday, be assuagued. We live and love today, in this world, under these circumstances. Yet we hope there is more. But more than hope; we know it is there.
That is why we so often feel sad. We have that knowledge that things ought to be better. We know that there has to be a somewhere where things are as they should be. We sense it; we feel it; we are, by a very taut cord, attached to it. It is there. It has Being.
And we are detached from it as long as we live on this world. Therein lies the pain, the yearning; the inconsolable longing. We know that it is possible, indeed, we know that it is likely (if we know anything at all) and true. We know that things are not as they should be. We know that someday we will, if we wish it yet only because we need it, and nothing more, be there with it. Things will be as they should be in the end.
Today the lapdogs of the Democrats are after Marco Rubio, and the best guess as to why is that he is a leading candidate for the GOP Presidential nomination in 2016. And the reason it is attacking him today is somewhat religious. He hedged on the question of exactly how old the universe might be.
No one knows, says Senator Rubio. It's a mystery. The Huffington Post cites this as an example of the 'balancing act' the GOP must endure in keeping its religious and conservative base active and interested. The religious fundamentalists within the Republican Party believe certain things. One of those things, presumably, is that God created everything in 6 days.
his is a prime example of the press attempting to paint Republicans as neanderthals while knowing nothing of actual religion. Surely everyone these days knows that the universe is expanding from the big bang all those billions of years ago. Science, their god, has said so. Anyone who disagrees is simply uneducated.
Well, here's a great way to address that question. Sidestep it as unimportant.
The universe is what it is. Creation has unfolded the way the Almighty has intended for it to unfold. After that, don't worry about it. Do what you are called to do today and don't be overly concerned about the rest. It is what it is, and the how and why we arrived here does not matter.
God does what God wills. There's no point to allowing ourselves to be tied up with questions which do not matter. He may have created the world in six days, six instants, or over billions of years. It doesn't matter. We are here because He put us here, and precisely how we came to be here is not at all important. What is important is what we do with the time He has given us. It is high time that Republicans 'got' this, and pursued the truth which our God has called us to pursue.
Science is a very weak god, when you give it a moment of thought. So give it that moment, or perhaps not even that, and move on. Think eternally, and all those questions of exactly how arrived here will be seen in their precise and best perspective. After that, the rest will fall into place.
Monday, November 19, 2012
Enter Black Friday, that infamous day after Thanksgiving when shopping excess is supposed to be all the rage. But can the American buying public wait that long? That's a whole four days from now!
Never fear! There are billboards up already across the Detroit Metropolitan area advertizing that Black Friday prices are available now, this very day. There's no need to wait under Friday; shop now!
Granted, these adverts are placed by a private company without government coercion. That only makes our point off by degree, not substance. We must spend because we must help the economy, even with unimportant or knee jerk purchases, because we must help it. Besides, our government has in the past tried to steal the holiday season for that same nefarious purpose anyway. Franklin Delano Roosevelt, that man of the people, wanted to manipulate their feelings and have Thanksgiving earlier simply to increase the Christmas shopping season. He had to try something: his other policies weren't working. Thank goodness a German madman stepped in to kick start the American economy or FDR would have never gotten a fourth term. That's important to a power hungry man.
It is quite interesting that governments and large private entities who are so concerned these days about separation of church and state don't mind tapping into religious sentiment when it suits their selfish purposes. Don't allow your a cashier to say Merry Christmas, but take all of the person's money, honey. We can't have Nativity Scenes on public property, but remember that Christmas is driven by wonton excess for the sake of your country.
That attitude stinks. But what can we expect of an increasingly secular world? Tomorrow you may die, and without having pleased your friends and indulging yourself, what kind of life would you have lived?
Sunday, November 18, 2012
Liberals are great at this game. They want consensus on abortion or gay rights, for example. Yet they are in favor of both; conservatives are not. They talk about tolerance: they want us to tolerate both. That’s easy for them as they find both issues tolerable. They aren’t moving towards consensus in any way shape or form because they aren’t conceding anything. Yet we right wingers are essentially being asked to give up entirely on core values which we believe in very deeply. In short, it isn’t consensus they request. It’s the total and complete acceptance of their world view.
Yet there are issues on which we cannot make concession without violating our basic creed. To allow abortion is so abhorrent that we cannot tolerate it. To allow gay marriage speaks so ill of our society that we cannot tolerate it; society has the right to define marriage in the pattern which best represents what an ideal society should be.
Yes, conservatives are being obstinate on these and other questions. That is, no doubt, in part because they are such important questions to our most essential beliefs; but more, they are issues upon which a stable society cannot long survive without their being addressed properly. They must be answered in accordance with what is really right, what is really needed for a wholesome and decent nation to become and stay wholesome and decent. We strive to follow the natural moral law.
Not so with liberals. We are pariahs, neanderthals, if we do not go beyond tolerance (which, when we do tolerate things such as the legalized abortion we deal with these days, truly is only a recognition of error which we can not, at a given time anyway, overcome) and embrace their ways. There is no room, in their actions or in their philosophy, for us to be us. They are hypocrites who sound like they’re being inclusive when they are in fact less considerate of beliefs anathema to theirs than they accuse us of being. As we've said many times before: you want tolerance? Tolerate us. Short of that, admit that you aren't all that tolerant. It's obvious enough anyway, left wing, that you aren't.
Friday, November 16, 2012
An example of this is found in today's Detroit Free Press. An instructor is showing her fourth grade class an enlargement of a famous Norman Rockwell 'Freedom of Speech' painting where a man is addressing a town hall meeting. Students are asked to give their thoughts on what they think the painting is about, as an exercise in getting them to, well, think. The idea is defended on the ground that we aren't teaching students to get into a 'deeper analysis of the subject areas'.
Let's see: we show students something about they know not what, and expect a deep analysis of the issues. Well, that beats the hell out of actually teaching them the issues important in American History, doesn't it? Let's show them a picture, ask them what they think, and call it education. Small wonder we don't know math and science, let alone history.
What exactly do we get out of students following this teaching method? "I think he's giving a speech or presentation", said one. Which, of course, he seems to be. Other students, at the teacher's prompting, notice how the man is dressed (wait a minute: isn't the point to find out what the students believe they see? Why the prompt?) differently than others in the painting. None of what the kids say is untrue...but then, none of it exactly qualifies as deeper analysis of the subject either.
What we have here is a perfect example of what's wrong with American education: we have bought into ideas which do not educate, but sure make the teacher's job easier. The classroom teacher doesn't have to actually bother teaching the students about the meaning of the painting. She can just let them figure it out for themselves. Never mind the prickly details without which we cannot possibly go into 'deeper analysis' of any given subject. Never mind that Norman Rockwell had something very definite in mind when he painted it, and that he almost certainly didn't care what fourth graders might think about his work in open ended discussion. Never mind either that the point in question, a necessary and proper reverence for freedom of speech and democracy, certainly is not served without due instruction about what freedom of speech in a democratic society must mean.
But wait a minute: they get prompted. Yes; but this only furthers the hypocrisy of the education elite. "Teachers now are back in the role of learners as much as they are as teachers", says Principal Adam Scher of Way Elementary School in Bloomfield Hills. "The role of the teacher is much more about facilitating thinking, getting to where they need to go." We can infer quite a few things from this attitude. If the teachers are learners too, who's doing the teaching? If they're only facilitators, why prompt? Why not let the kids go totally on their own, if it's their ability to think on their own which we want? Are you teaching, or are you facilitating? They seem to be different things. If your job is to get them where they need to go, aren't you teaching in the traditional sense under more vague terminology (and what's your point if you are)? And how exactly can we think on our own without sufficient background knowledge anyway?
Or are we to believe that our teachers don't know their subjects? They surely don't have to, using this approach. We need to realize why facilitation is bad education: would you teach you child not to put his hand in a fire because he'll get hurt, and perhaps badly hurt, or would let him stick it into the flames and find out for himself? Social Services will want a word with you if you do. And they should.
All the while we tolerate that precise sort of idiocy from the people in front of our classrooms. We wonder why so many colleges require remedial work. And we wonder why we have trouble competing in the world market, much less even though much more critically why our kids have increasing trouble understanding right from wrong. If they get to figure it out for themselves, then they most certainly will.
It is not a pretty picture. One does wonder what Rockwell would paint to illustrate that.
Thursday, November 15, 2012
Which us back to the original point. Many people will read this and similar stories and go on to defend the President's acts as charitable. But is government aid charity?
This is not to question the safety net factor. There is certainly nothing wrong with having in place government programs which help those in true need. If you cannot feed yourself or your family under your current circumstances, if indeed you do need health services which you cannot provide for, then it becomes rational for the government to offer aid when, if, or as necessary. Even that is rife with peril, however: it can (and has) lead to dependency and the sense of entitlement, and it can lead to the government deciding who gets what. A simple look at Ethiopia during the 1980s shows what government control of resources can lead to in the extreme. Don't think for a moment that that can't happen here. It may be in the far future if at all, but it can happen here. With the distribution of food, and with health care too, quite honestly.
So is government aid charity?
Well, is it charitable to vote for people to take money from people who are not you in order to help people who are not you and who you do not know? Or is charity something you are supposed to do for the sake of others who cannot, at a given time, help themselves? This is the problem with liberal and Democratic voters. They believe that they are doing their duty towards society by making someone else do their charitable work. Yet however good that work might be in itself, its morality becomes questionable when it is supposed to be your work. Demanding that the government do your work is not charity. It is at worst lazy, and at most, theft of the wages and resources of others.
So, finally, is government aid charity?
Wednesday, November 14, 2012
In a word, garbage. There is a better word, to be sure, but decorum will not allow its use here.
We can and we must legislate morals. Further, every decision ever made by every legislature, parliament, congress, diet, knesset, or whatever else you want to call it, was an action predicated on a moral decision. Making us drive on the right side of the street is based on the moral axiom that we require order. Forcing parents to send their kids to school, let alone feed and clothe them, is a moral choice that parents are obliged to do that for their progeny. Trying to force health care down our throats is a moral decision by the government. Every single thing a government might do is based on moral choices.
We can and we must legislate morals. We do it all the time. The only real questions are which ones, and under what circumstances. But it's high time time to get off the table the idea that governments cannot legislate morals. They do it every single day. That's why it is so very important that the moral judgments they make are right and necessary and not arbitrary or capricious.
Sunday, November 11, 2012
That is the fault of the Hollywood Left, quite frankly. For whatever bizarre reason, and knowing them it must be somewhat bizarre or selfish, it seems that the soldiers most fondly recalled are those from the WWII generation. Without a doubt, they deserve that praise of course. This isn't to doubt their service or their bravery. We should recall them. The American Soldier, and his compatriots from Canada and Great Britain and France and China and dozens of other nations from around the world fell while fighting that menace. The Nazis were awful, to be sure. They may have been at least to that time the worst threat the entire world had faced, and a threat to the United States as well, to be sure. But were they only reason the American Soldier fought and died?
Did not the American Soldier fight and fall at Lexington and Concord? Citizen soldiers, yes, they were. And they stood their ground, refusing to allow the Redcoats to secure a garrison of patriotic supplies at Concord, pestering the British all the way back to their garrison at Boston. Did the American Soldier not fall at Fort Ticonderoga, or Bunker Hill, or at Saratoga? Did he not fall at the retreat from Manhattan, or while fighting the Hessians at Princeton or Trenton, or was their blood not shed as they attacked redoubts numbered 9 and 10 at Yorktown, the attacks which were key to victory at that famous battle? Why do we not remember that American Soldier?
During the Wars which we do not remember so fondly, at sea against the French in 1798, at the Raisin River right here in Michigan in 1813 during the War of 1812, did he not fall? At Tripoli during the Wars in 1804 and 1815? Why do we not remember the American Soldier from then?
Do we remember Fort Sumter? Do we remember Antietam? Do we remember Bull Run, battles One and Two, or the siege of Vicksburg? Do Chambersburg and Gettysburg, Gettysburg, the battle which many historians argue is one of the ten most critical battles of World History, World History, mind you, mean anything these days? Do we appreciate what that means to our nation even today?
The doughboys in World War I; do we know them these days? Yes, they are universally gone now. They should not be forgotten.
World War II and Korea live in our memories. Yet we forget Korea. That is, other than with the greatest cynicism, as presented by M*A*S*H. Why do we recall only with disdain the great victories of the American Soldier in Vietnam? Why do we not acknowledge the tremendous victory of the American Soldier of the TET Offensive during the New Year of 1968? The Viet Cong were blown off the field of battle as an effective fighting force for a year, an entire year, and the media which hates conservative America called it a military loss. Why do we forget you? Why do we forget the American Soldier of Operation Iraqi Freedom? Why do we forget the American Soldier who toils each day in Afghanistan? Why do we forget the American Soldier who toils each day holding the Al Qaeda militants at bay at Guantanamo, safe from attacking their fellow citizens?
We should not. We should not forget you any more than we should forget the veteran of Granada or Operation Desert Storm, of Panama or Haiti or the 200 or more military operations in our history. Has every action of the US been right? No; we are human. We have made mistakes. Where we have, nature and nature's God rightly demand we regret them and make amends where we can. Yet even then we must not forget that our sons and daughters have not died in vain. There were part of the greater cause, willing to serve their nation whenever or wherever it called. We must give them their due too.
The Nazis have not been the only evil in the world. They may have been not the worst evil, either. Other evils have arisen; evils whose blood soils the hand of the American Soldier. He was always and everywhere was concerned with rightness and justice no matter what. And that, dear friends, is how we ought remember him.
Saturday, November 10, 2012
Before all you bleeding hearts decry this idea, ask yourself one simple question: what did you expect? Businesses always pass the cost of business on, either to their customers or through their workers in firings, layoffs, or reduced hours. They can't stay in business if they can't control their costs. Usually, the quickest and easiest ways to control costs are either to raise prices or reduce overhead. This is economics 101. It is so basic of an idea that you would have to be a blockhead to fail to comprehend it.
Unfortunately it is people with that mentality who gave us Obamacare and re-elected the President who gave it to us. Just make the government do it and all will be well.
We had hoped that that lame and thoughtless mentality had gone the way of the dodo. It really is no different and no less irrational than the idea that the way to make everyone rich is to print more money. Mandating something will not make it so. You cannot force businesses, who are, after all, moral persons themselves, do any particular thing. You can only cause them to react to circumstance. If a given circumstance means the need to cut costs, they'll cut them. That may well hurt individuals, but well, there comes a time when the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few. If such and such a circumstance means layoffs or firings or the entire company will fold, then there must be layoffs and firings even though it obviously will be a crunch on the laid off or fired.
Or the ones whose hours are cut. To be sure, the higher ups who are (to a degree, anyway) immune to those government forces who order ill-advised mandates will keep their health care, but so? Rank has its privileges. It always has and, generally, should. But the bottom line is that people and businesses look out for themselves first. Even the poor and downtrodden do this: why else would they make even errant calls for bad ideas such as Obamacare otherwise? They want what they perceive as theirs inherently.
Ya gets what yas pay for. You pay for a President who blithely commands action, you get folks who blithely react. Don't be so shocked that you didn't expect it. Your lack of forethought isn't on us. Your lack of true concern for all people isn't on us either. It's on you, Democratic voter. You alone.
Thursday, November 8, 2012
Michigan, for example, elected an overwhelmingly Republican state government in November two years ago. Tuesday, 9 of the state's 14 Congressional Districts went to the GOP, even the one held by Thaddeus McCotter where Republicans were represented by something of a renegade. All 6 attempts to amend the state constitution failed. Yet Michigan also went for President Barack Obama by a comfortable margin.
Wisconsin had voted in a solid Republican state government, one which even survived a well funded recall attempt. Yet it went for the President as well, while also electing the first openly gay US Senator. Ohio, solidly Republican as well within itself, also voted for the President, albeit by a slim margin. Indeed in Ohio, the third party vote may have made the difference. But why should it have ever been that close anyway?
Part of the answer surely lies in the fact that rural areas are more conservative than urban. When dealing with state offices, particularly the most local ones such as state houses and senates, as they are typically more such offices outside of urban areas (or at least outside of the central cities) it isn't too much of a shock to GOP legislatures while liberal voters carry elections for purely national offices such as the Presidency. Yet that can't be the entire answer; after all, Rick Snyder won here as Governor running with the same electorate which went for the President. So too did Ohio and Wisconsin Governors John Kasich and Scott Walker in their respective states.
Part of it may have been a relatively weak candidate in Mitt Romney. Part too may have been Hurricane Sandy, as pundits such as Bill Riley assert that the storm gave President Obama the chance to look presidential while effectively stunting the Romney campaign for several days. Part of it as well may be that Romney never really, outside of the first debate, pushed the issues which would have put Obama on the defensive. He played too nice, some thing the Democrats rarely do. They nearly always push their advantages to the limit; that's why have Obamacare. If they were as interested as playing nice, as interested in what the people truly want, they would have never pulled the parliamentary trick which gave us Obamacare in the first place.
But the biggest reason may actually be rather shallow, as much as we hate to admit it. It may simply that the typical voter votes their gut rather than as the result of a well thought out approach to elections, the political process, and political philosophy. The right to vote does not mean that voters will vote with any consistency, or employ any particular rationale in determining their vote.
That's why the federal government was supposed to be relatively small, and decidedly limited. The founders knew that a large, overarching structure would eventually swallow the smaller units of government in a federal system. Especially when the electorate begins to gravitate towards that central organism rather than keeping things local.
This does not mean that our day is done. The United States isn't necessarily on the road to a Western European style socialism, despite the desires of our European and Canadian friends who like the President more than they like us. We can still turn back, as we did with Reagan in the 1980s. But we, us conservatives and our Republican partners, are simply going to have to do a better job of selling ourselves but, more importantly, our creed. The people will respond to that because, despite any inconsistency, they do know truth when they see it explained clearly and unambiguously. And they will support it.
Wednesday, November 7, 2012
It simply makes no sense that we re-elect a man who is spending our future away and has done a remarkably Carter-like job on the economy. Barack Obama should have lost on those grounds alone. So why, then, in a year which saw the GOP gain four governorships and expand its control of the House, could a man with that record win another four years?
Obviously, Romney was a weaker candidate than had been hoped. He never pushed as hard as he ought to have and when he should have. Mitt never really capitalized on the Benghazi debacle and, let's face it, he really didn't appeal to conservatives. If you can't appeal to your own party's base, how can you possibly appeal to the wider electorate? So it's safe to say that the conservative message wasn't the problem. It was the messenger.
And that is what the Republicans should be thinking. There have been and will be many calls for the GOP to look within itself, to do some soul searching, but that's not necessary. Why would Republicans hold so much power outside of Washington if the bulk of the voters didn't, at heart, think their way?
Why, then, did the bulk of the voters not vote that way in the one national election? Why that inconsistency? Simply put, because too many of them aren't ideological. They vote for reasons which really have little to do with policy. The President is viewed as a 'nice' man, and no doubt that he personally is one. Yet to vote for a guy because you think he'd make a great neighbor is rather shallow. Indeed, it's downright silly.
Yet that's how far too many voters think. The only way around it is to find our own nice man or woman and run them in 2016. We need someone to take up the mantle of Ronald Reagan, and there are several folks who could do that. We don't need a lot of soul searching, and we certainly do not need to rethink our priorities. Our principles are sound and true. We simply need someone to better enunciate them.
The 2012 Presidential election was ours for the taking. As such, it is safe to say Romney lost more than Obama won. The conservative situation isn't all that bad considering what the GOP gained even yesterday. If we but put a good, solid, conservative candidate up in 2016, then November 6, 2012, will have been but a speed bump.
Saturday, November 3, 2012
Friday, November 2, 2012
There's no inherent reason to tie too many things into our governing document. Constitutions are only supposed to be basic guidelines or offer a skeletal frame for the workings of government. Filling them up with any and everything is counterproductive; it can cause inefficiency in government by tying its hands. As much government waste as there may be, if we put too many limits on it we may as well not have it at all.
This is not to say that every ballot measure should be voted down. Each must be accepted or rejected on its own merits or lack thereof. But a good general rule of thumb is to vote against them. As much as it pains us to say it, because we do know that government is all too often unresponsive, the job of legislators and executives and judges is to let the legislate, execute, and judge. We have to let them do their jobs. We can vote them out later should they not.
Thursday, November 1, 2012
Wednesday, October 31, 2012
But that doesn't mean that it absolutely was not God's will. He may have been issuing a punishment, or a warning of some sort. The best we can accurately say is, maybe so and maybe no. It's simply more than we can ever know, at least while we still walk the Earth.
It's far too easy to say and think that God wouldn't do that, yet we must be very careful about presuming His will in either a positive or negative direction. We put ourselves at great peril to assume that He would never never do anything destructive if He thought that humanity needed the lesson. The Old Testament is replete with stories of Divine wrath, and even Christ Himself cursed the fig tree which afforded Him no fruit.
It's all too easy to believe that an almighty yet loving God will do good things for us while never calling out nature for His own purposes. To be sure, Christ Himself also pointed out that the people who died when a tower fell on them weren't necessarily greater sinners than anyone who still lived after the incident. So it's all whatever God wills it, and that's that.
We must remember too that nature, like man, is imperfect. If nature were perfect, no storms would form, and we only get exactly what we needed of Her at a given time. So the storm may have been nothing more than a reflection of nature's, well, nature. Part of the point here is to remind Christians that bad things are not automatically or inherently, except indirectly, of course, the Will of God. Yet it also to remind Christians as well as the world at large that we need to pay attention to these seemingly natural events in that they may indeed be meant to tell us something. The bottom line is that it isn't very outlandish to think of Sandy and the harm she caused as a chance at introspection, to consider how fragile our lives are and how they may be changed by the events around us over which we have no control.
Perhaps that is the lesson in a nutshell. As such, it is all the easier to believe that the Hand of God is behind it just the same.
Tuesday, October 30, 2012
There seems little reason to believe that this is nothing more than Maroun throwing a hissy fit. He hasn't been able to get his way on building a bridge himself, so he's trying to keep Lansing out of the business. But be that as it may, by itself the proposal has certain merits. There's no reason why a private business cannot build and maintain even an international crossing. It's what we have anyway with the current Detroit/Windsor bridge.
Yet despite that, there are practical issues. Canada has said that it won't allow a private bridge to be built, essentially on the grounds that only governments should control international crossings. The argument is weak, but it is what it is and there's not much Michigan voters can do about that. If another bridge is to be built, it will be built publicly. And, to be fair, the Canadians are willing to put up the lion's share of the funds.
The strongest reason to vote for this proposal is that it supports individual rights. Never mind that we may not care for the attitude of the individual behind it: right is right no matter what we personally think of even the persons involved. But the trouble with enshrining within the Michigan Constitution a popular vote on such things is that such things ought to be up to the Legislature. It's why we elect leaders: to scan the landscape and do the best they can under the circumstances they're facing. Making a major decision such as a bridge which can only help international traffic, international business, and international relations, ought to be left to elected representatives. If we don't like their choices, well, we get a choice on them during the regular elections.
It would be easy to vote for Proposal 6 if for no other reason than to support the idea that individuals with the money and the will should be allowed to finance even international crossings. But as there will be no new bridge that way, it seems a silly and counterproductive effort. It's best to vote no on 6, even if we must do it with a frown and a smirk.
Sunday, October 28, 2012
We are not, any of us, really equal.
This is not to say that we are not political equals. Yet even that phrase leaves a bit of uncertainty: we are only equal because my vote should count as much as yours. That doesn't strike us as equality. It strikes us as justice.
In the same manner, as we have employed this tactic when talking about freedom, education, peace, and so forth, so too do we find that we must apply it to any calls for equality. We need to ask what the supporters of equality really mean. Because any absolute and final equality of circumstances must actually be something which applies only in very, very few cases. Take equal pay for equal work, for example. Notice that we are asking a question whose answer only applies to very strict and definite circumstances. A woman cancer doctor, 50 years old, with 20 years of practice, who graduated from the same schools with the same grades as a complimentary male cancer specialist in the same place of work, and with the same proficiency of work, should get the same pay. No rational mind would argue otherwise. But the case is so limited that only one answer is truly right anyway.
As to the other facet of the argument, well, calls for equality must ring hollow because, again, we are not equal. A brain surgeon isn't equal to a plumber, no matter how much more we want the latter when the faucet breaks or the basement floods, and no matter which is male or female. As a matter of decency, we should not automatically look well on the surgeon nor ill on the plumber. But yet again, that's a point about justice, not equality.
We could refine the case further, but we trust the point is made. When we are demanding equality we are often (if not in fact always) demanding justice. We are asking that we be treated rightly and properly in light of the circumstances which surround us. We are not asking for equality. We are asking for justice.
So, and we are sure many people may have grown tired of us asking yet we must, when you demand equality, do you really want that? If so, how? Why? For we need to remember that the only sure way to make folks equal is downward, to the where no one is above the lowest common denominator.
That the average person means equality in the sense of true justice we don't doubt. Still, it is when we use terms wrongly that we have the greatest troubles. It is then when the radical fringe of any given group may take the day. Yet when we clarify our thoughts, when we strive to end misunderstanding by calling things what they are, then, indeed, justice wins out. Isn't that what we really want?
Thursday, October 25, 2012
That makes sense, in the end. For when there is a crisis, don't most people act based on what they know? When President Reagan was elected back in 1980 to stem the tide of Democratic and hence more liberal leadership, what was his appeal? To make America great again, based on the traditional American values of individualism and hard work. When the GOP ran the tide last November, what was the big question: nothing less than obtrusive, interfering government trampling the rights of the people.
The moderates responded as they knew how, by throwing out those who did not support real American values. That's why conservatives don't have to appeal too overtly to the presumed middle: they aren't actually in the center after all. They are in fact more moderate to conservative rather than being between the left and the right as they are generally portrayed.
Given the fact that so few people, about 20 percent or one in five, call themselves liberal, and it seems that what we truly have in our nation today is an overall aversion to liberalism. Even the presumed center appears to harbor similar doubts about the left, seeing as the Democrats need to get about 60% of the middle of the road vote to win major elections. It is a telling statistic, and does not bode well for any long term success for the party of Jefferson and Jackson.
Of course, the Democratic Party left the beliefs of those American stalwarts behind eons ago. But that is a tale for another time.
Tuesday, October 23, 2012
Science has apparently discovered the part of our brain which helps us to recognize justice. It thus asserts, at least in some quarters, that goodness is innate within us physically. Yet that attitude ignores a very real point. The possibility that good occurs in us naturally is an entirely different question from the judgment of what is good, or the expectation that people will do good.
How do we know what is good except to be able to judge it in our individual and societal actions? Or are our scientifically minded friends suggesting that we just 'do things' and they happen to be good? Either way, any judgment about good, any assertion that 'this is good' cannot come wholly or entirely from within ourselves; there are too many of us with too many of our own nuanced ideas of good and bad.
Or are you saying that everyone from childhood, without guidance of any kind (parental, societal, or spiritual) will necessarily elect to do good? No Lord of the Flies scenarios possible? To claim that we are innately good begs the question of why people (and it should be obvious that all people do bad things sometimes regardless of physical construction) do bad things. Why does the thief steal, if he knows in his heart and head that it's wrong? Further, what's free will, if we are born with, say, no choice but to do good? Indeed, if we have no choice but to do good, if it is 'just what we do' then even calling our actions good comes into question. What's so good about doing what we cannot help but do?
It should surprise no one that we are hard wired to recognize justice; we are, at the end of the day, physical as well as spiritual creatures. It should not be shocking news that a just and all knowing God in the very act of creation would make our physical selves able to recognize spiritual, eternal, and absolute truths, truths outside our own will, thus enabling us to see (so to speak) justice. That science has discovered as much enhances rather than detracts from our knowledge of God. It strengthens, not weakens, our relationship with Him. It makes our spiritual side and our physical side properly complimentary. It raises us from the mere animal into a higher plane of existence.
Science does not tell us who we are in our entirety. It only sets us on that road. How far we trail along that path is ultimately up to us. And the questions we discover along that way will not be answered empirically.