Sunday, September 30, 2012

A Dose of Reality

Honey Boo Boo. We've seen pictures of her (how can you not, seeing as they're all over the Internet) but not a single episode of the reality show which features her and her family. Further, we have no intention of seeing one. We don't need to. We know all we need to know about it. And what we know about it tells a tale about an American society which appears to be increasingly dysfunctional, to say the least.

Why are we so excited about reality shows, and particularly ones which appeal to our baser instincts? Why do we want to see people who are so out of whack that, in earlier years, they would have never come close to starring in TV shows? What is the actual appeal of bridezillas and families who speak so poorly that captions are needed as we watch each episode? Does seeing them make us feel superior? It's an arrogant type of superiority if it does. Do we enjoy the fact that those folks are being played for patsies? To be sure, they are patsies who are well compensated. Yet that hardly seems the point.

We have seen recently where a teen in West Branch, Michigan, was a target of a horrible scheme to have her terribly embarrassed which was made into something good. That makes sense; that's the kind of realty which ought to be promoted. Yet how far removed is that situation from what we see and cheer on in reality shows? Not very. We enjoy embarrassing them through the simple fact that we encourage their behavior. And we do nothing to, perhaps, put them in a positive light.

Surely the first defense will be that the reality stars are in the spotlight by choice. There's little doubting that. But is it the point? At the end of the day we are effectively telling them that what they do is okay. Indeed, aren't we hoping and expecting that they will become all the more outrageous in their behavior in order to keep the money flowing and increase their air time? That speaks volumes about them, yet it speaks volumes about us as well.

Or does it? Maybe we are so simple minded, prurient, and devilish that that's all we need for entertainment. If so, then the United States deserves the back water status towards which it is headed. Ah well; we had a good run.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Science and Goodness

One of the great debates between the Christian and the scientist is the degree to which we are animal or spiritual. Many scientists wish us to be wholly scientific in our approach to humanity and understanding of ourselves. It is really a rather shallow outlook on human nature or, even, the necessary consequences of a purely scientific view of who we are.

Science has apparently discovered the part of our brain which helps us to recognize justice. It asserts, at least in some quarters, that goodness is innate within us physically. Yet it ignores the very real point that whether 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? It 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?

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 empirical.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Replacement Refs and World Hunger

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.

We find ourselves paying six bucks for one single hot dog at a sporting event when that same six dollars would buy a whole pack of them, buns and all, outside the park. We twitter incessantly over the results of the game we just watched, as though it were the end all be all of human endeavor. It's just a game, folks. To be sure, there's nothing wrong with recreation or personal comfort. Yet that doesn't mean that a better perspective isn't a good thing as well.

This is not naive. We realize that there is no direct correlation between add-ons to cars, or millionaires playing games while thousandaires overpay for the privilege of watching them, 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.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

The Ballot Proposals which Failed

We know that there are 6 ballot proposals facing Michigan voters this November. Yet how many people realize that there were 9 more that were, for one reason or another, not included on the upcoming ballot? We don't necessarily know why each was rejected, but that really doesn't matter right now. What is interesting is that sometimes the things which don't make it are more interesting than the ones which do.

An initiative on expanding casino gaming was scrapped by a ruling of the Michigan Supreme Court. But that was one of two which dealt with new casinos; this demonstrates that gambling has become a big business around here. Yet it ignores the issue of how much is too much, and we're probably just as well without having to consider the question ourselves.

Two other rejected ideas involved the structure of government: one would have abolished the State Senate, while the other would have enshrined the right of the people to alter or abolish government. Interesting ideas, both. Yet both are better off off the ballot. There's nothing particularly wrong with a two house legislature, and don't we have the right to 'alter or abolish' government as it is?

Another proposed amendment would have made horizontal hydraulic fracturing for oil illegal. Come now, why would we want to do that? We need oil, and fracking is safe. This is just a liberal scare mongering tale which has no business as part of our State's highest law. We must be very, very slow about having a Constitution dictating how and why to get energy. It would have only tied the hands of our legislature in an area where it ought to be making decisions.

One proposal would have banned union dues as a condition of employment. We would have liked for that one to have approved. There's always been something underhanded about a group of people claiming to represent your best interests but, as is often the case, against your will. With your money and my brains, we can change the world; how can that not sound suspect? Yet it didn't make the ballot, and that's too bad. It's one we would really have liked to see voted upon.

Any way you slice it, for all the complaining about this November's initiatives clogging up the state Constitution, it could have been worse. We might have had another 9 to consider. Seeing that, perhaps we are lucky to have only what we have.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

A Conservative Movie?

Picture, if you will, a man who tries to control others through the everyday behavior and wants of the people in an area. Under his influence, the local government bans innocuous actions. The people can't do what they want; their most offhand actions are deemed immoral by a higher power. They must walk about the town unable to do what they would like. The town becomes a walking dirge, watching in trepidation its every step trying to avoid the evil eye of its leadership, to avoid its condemnation. Fear, fear of the slightest error, rules the populace, because even the smallest errant action, however slight, and indeed however unimportant, may lead them to ridicule and sin. Imagine that; then imagine that you were talking about the social conservatives and the Reverend Shaw Moore from the movie Footloose.

Imagine that, and you're wrong. We are talking about the likes of New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who says you can't buy soft drinks in larger than 16 ounce sizes. We are talking about Verenice Gutierrez, who believes that peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, good old PBJs, are racist. We are talking about all the folks who do not want others to sell their farmland to developers, who do not want people to take anything but public transportation to and fro, who want us to live according to their own autocratic and despotic rules. We are talking about liberals.

Conservatives are supposed to be the ones who want to control you. Conservatives are the ones who want you parading around in goose step fashion. Conservatives are the ones who believe that anyone who doesn't look like them, think like them, talk like them, and act like them are evil. Conservatives are the control freaks who measure everything with a harsh and certain ruler.

They aren't. The left wants to control you. Liberals want you to do their bidding. Liberals are the ones whop want you to dance to the rhythm of their drum. Liberals, not conservatives.

The Reverend Mr. Moore from Footloose may well be a conservative. Indeed, we think he is. He overreacts, sees the error of his ways, and repents. Will the left?

No. They aren't wrong, and they know it. They tell us all the time. And what better assurance can we have?

Friday, September 21, 2012

To be a Professional

It is fascinating where certain interesting ideas may be found. The Bill James Historical Baseball Abstract is must reading for any baseball wonk, almost entirely (surprise, surprise) for its in depth analysis of the game and its players. Still, that doesn't mean that every scrap of value found within it is restricted to interpretations of the true American National Pastime.

Mr. James at one point laments the rise of professionalism in our nation over the last fifty years or so, indeed comparing it to the many other -isms which have infected our body politic. Sportswriters and reporters have become journalists, whereas at one time they had the simpler jobs of reporting the news or sports, with someone to answer to if they didn't stick to those specific jobs. But James takes it further: teachers have become educators who teach to tests rather than teach the subject at hand. Cops have become police officers, garbage collectors sanitation workers, and so on.

The result is that we now have self aggrandized professionals in all fields, but to what point? James opines rather well that legal professionals delivered us the O. J. Simpson verdict, but not justice. On other fronts, he says, journalism has made reporting on news and athletic events adversarial rather than benign. Doctors evolving into physicians and nurses into health care professionals have driven the cost of an aspirin in a hospital to $35 while doctors used to make house calls. You get the point.

While we cannot agree with him on every particular (health care costs have went up for reasons beyond and better than a simple change of attitude, even if you believe they have gone father than reason might allow, and reporters are almost naturally adversarial) his general point is well founded. Why do we see teachers so differently lately? At one point, they had the rather straightforward job of making kids sit down, shut up, and pay attention, while expecting and getting the general support of the community. Now, we demand results from them, codified and quantified based on all kinds of data which the general public doesn't understand yet supports in the cause of education. Why can't we be happy that the kids end up with a high school diploma? Surely most of those earned over the course of American history have been reasonably granted?

Why can't cops catch the bad guys and lawyers by turn prosecute or defend them? What are we really seeking when we make things into more than they are? The net result seems to be displayed through that incident with Barbara Boxer awhile back. You know, the one where she asked to be called "Senator" rather than "Ma'am" because she earned it? Instead of becoming the professionals we claim we are, we instead begin to be arrogant about what we in fact perceive ourselves to be.

We do not mean herein to pick on Senator Boxer in particular. Really, we don't; nor do we wish to disparage the jobs which are done every day and well by all the good teachers and cops and doctors and nurses out there in our land. But the sanctification of what, in the final analysis, we as individuals do for a living cannot help us to truly appreciate the necessary jobs being done for us and by us each and every day. It seems that we've lost something of our innocence, indeed of our humility, when we demand a certain grovelling before us as we earn our daily bread.

We hate to say that all a teacher is is a teacher, or that all a doctor is is a doctor. Yet we cannot escape the feeling that a real teacher or a real doctor should feel that way. It is one thing for the general society to venerate any given individual's very good and very much needed work, indeed up to and including that of, say, trash collector. Would you do that? Pick up others' garbage? Then respect the ones who do. But for the professional to demand that treatment, quite frankly, reeks of a lack of professionalism.

By and large, true professionals command the respect they deserve. They command it precisely because they stick to their jobs rather than trumpet about them. They tend to know their place, and to know that they are not irreplaceable. They know their jobs are bigger than they ever will be. They do them in that light: as best they can without ever thinking they are better than anyone else because of it.

Be appreciative of all the things others done for you. Be humble about what you do for them. If there is a better prescription for a better world, a better description of true professionalism, we do not know what it is.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Act Locally

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.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Be Careful about Ballot Initiatives

The November elections are not very far away now, and excitement is in the air for, at least, the big races. Yet there is something of an elephant in the room, at least in Michigan, and, at least, according to the local political wonks anyway. No, it has little or nothing to do with Presidential politics. We are talking about the six statewide ballot proposals Michigan voters are faced with 7 weeks from today.

They cover subjects ranging from tax increases to collective bargaining rights. Each item is controversial to one degree or another, and likely as not all deserve discussion at one level or another. We'll look into each of them in the coming weeks; or, at least, we intend to. But today, we are interested in the game within the game. There is a controversy which covers all six initiatives, and it is interesting enough in itself. That is, if state constitutional issues can be all that interesting in themselves.

Anyway, backers of each proposal firmly believe that their ideas require public affirmation, so much so that what they want must be made part of our state's highest law. Yet others say that all which is happening is that we are clogging the constitution with issues which ought to be addressed by the Legislature and, further, that all these ballot measures simply confuse the electorate. They say that the effect of all this is an abuse of the Michigan Constitution.

Well, if the mechanism for constitutional amendment is what is causing all this, and the mechanism itself is acceptable under the terms of the US Constitution, it seems a stretch to say the local document is being abused. Ironically, should that be the case, perhaps the long term answer is to amend the state constitution to make ballot initiatives more difficult to put before the voters. Yet that is not the point today. What is now is what is now; if each of the six proposals are on the ballot legitimately under existing law then we cannot call them abuses. Simply because small, well funded groups may be behind any given one of them, a likelihood we don't doubt at least on one or two, cannot make their efforts illicit. At least, not on legal grounds.

Still, that doesn't mean we can't have a certain sympathy for the groups trying to cry foul. Some proposals may well be of questionable merit for non-legal reasons. Further, the confusion of the voters does appear a legitimate enough worry. We are quite sure that much of the electorate will not study the questions sufficiently enough to cast a rational ballot; when there is a lot to consider those not particularly interested in a question or questions simply will not consider them fully. That's hardly the fault of the state constitution, though; as such, we may fault the backers of these proposals as vague charlatans, depending, again, on the nature and content of the proposal. And merely because some of the proposal backers and funders may have less than the best of intentions does not make the legitimate ballot questions any less so.

As such, we seriously disagree those who say that every measure must be rejected simply because some people are, as a set of widely seen commercials have asserted, messing with Michigan's Constitution. The best thing to do as a voter is to consider each proposal on its own merits and vote accordingly. If you aren't sure how to vote, then no is better than yes as it simply isn't wise to support anything which you don't understand. After that, if the constitution needs tweaking, than all we really can do is hope that someone somewhere takes the bull by the horns and goes about getting it properly tweaked. Until then, it is silly to apply a blanket answer over what we face in the voting booth this November. To encourage the electorate to do that and reject the measures en masse is as questionable as the process which led to the measures in the first place. Those people are simply charlatans wearing new clothes.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

To Whom do We Owe Allegiance?

Is it good to fly the flag in public schools and to recite the Pledge of Allegiance? 43 states say yes; Michigan has passed legislation which would add our state to that number. Students would not be compelled to recite the Pledge. That's probably good; no sense offending those with serious and rational objections to it.

Yet the first question which comes to mind is: why can't we have voluntary school prayer under the same guidelines? The answer: because that makes non-Christian students feel pressured to become Christians (or Muslim or Buddhist, perhaps, depending on the locale; inserting any creed here will make the point). Wouldn't recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance by many if not all others effectively 'pressure' non participants into affirming allegiance to the United States?

e certainly are not against the Pledge. It is a good and noble thing to love your country (so long as your country is good and noble) and such sentiments should be encouraged. We are likewise not against things which encourage allegiance to any right and proper cause, or to instilling a decent sense of nationhood within the citizenry. But what we are against is the relative hypocrisy on the matter. The state can, well, at least attempt to compel its wards to love, honor, and support the state. The trouble is that the state is, after all, an institution of mere human design.

Why can the state, in even so modest of a fashion, try to make elementary and high schools students love and support it while not allowing those willing to love and support something of greater importance than a simply human construct express open and public support for it while in view of all?

We will leave the question at that. We're simply throwing it out there for the consideration of body politic. Yet we strongly suspect that the answer from that body will tell us all we need to know about the state indeed.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Real Election Fraud

Carol Campbell is a Democrat running for state representative in Michigan's 83rd House District. She is doing so because she thinks the current representative, Paul Muxlow, a Republican, is against the middle class. That's no surprise. Yet there is a part of her campaign which, quite frankly, doesn't help her cause. She has a billboard up which reads, "Keep your mitts off our Social Security and Medicare." If that's her opinion, fine. The trouble is that Social Security and Medicare are not state but rather Federal issues.

The St. Clair County Democratic Committee defends the billboard as an example of her moral compass. That may apply to her personal opinion on those questions, but as she is running for a Michigan political office it cannot help her cause. Indeed, it actually brings her moral compass into question: shouldn't she be concerned with Michigan issues? As such, it leaves the voter to wonder whether she has a real grasp on any issues at all.

Candidates need to concentrate on the issues which they will potentially face in the job they seek. If they do not or will not, then they ought to expect defeat at the ballot box. We're not saying that that will happen to her; the voting public isn't necessarily up on the differences between state and national issues either, and some will surely vote for her based on her stands on Social Security and Medicare. Yet that only demonstrates that some voters are knee jerk voters.

A political candidate, though, should know better. Running for the Michigan House on federal issues is tantamount to shyster politics. It is at the least stupid and at the worst, downright immoral. You're trying to get your potential constituents riled up over issues which you cannot affect. It's a fraudulent way to seek election.

When pressed for a better answer to the question than 'it reflects Ms. Campbell's moral compass', the St Clair County Democratic Committee said that it was harassment to harp on the question and refused to consider it further. So much for free speech; so much for addressing issues rather than sentiment. So much, indeed, for trying to tell the voting public what it needs to know in order to make a decent decision at the polls.

Or do we have enough information? In this case, we certainly do. That one question speaks volumes about the mentality of liberal Democrats. Getting elected is what matters, and the questions we must face in the office we seek be damned. It is shallow politicking such as this which gives politicians the bad name so many of them deserve. We deserve better from our candidates and elected representatives.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

The President Fiddles

Can Barack Hussein Obama be James Earl Carter? He's certainly attempting his best imitation. The trouble is that, in this case, it's hardly the sincerest form of flattery. We have chronic unemployment, Muslim terrorists attacking our embassies and consulates, and a lack of domestic and international leadership which the world is freely exploiting. We have an America on the wane with a President blaming everyone except himself; perhaps he does want to create a nation in decline. His vaunted intelligence community, credited so much for the killing Osama Bin Laden, did not see the obviously planned attack on Benghazi coming and appears unwilling to accept that everything happening in Cairo and Yemen and Libya, as well as in at least seven other nations, has anything to do with embarrassing the US on the Anniversary of 9/11 but is only in response to a film which no one seems sure has actually been made. He will not admit that the Muslim world may well be testing America's resolve, a resolve they see weakened after almost four years of pandering. Some people do not understand nice, Mr. President. Yet with all these attacks on the US and US citizens Mitt Romney is the one who has supposedly gone of the deep end. Why is the President so afraid of the free speech of a fellow candidate for the White House when he is so unwilling to support the free speech of Americans who may criticize Islam? Why not try to understand the passions of Mitt Romney as much as you try to understand the passions of those who hate us, Mr. President? Mr. Obama can say what he wants, but he would surely be criticizing Mr. Romney if the shoe were on the other foot. You campaigned in 2008 for your job, Mr. President, and are doing so again for the next term of office. Take the heat. It's essentially what you yourself wanted. We need to remember more than the last four years if we are to make a sound choice for President in November 2012. We need to remember what the America of 1979 looked like. It is strikingly similar to the America of 2012.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

The Devil's in the Details

We have, in the last 24 or so hours hours, witnessed attacks on the American Embassy in Cairo, and the death of an American diplomat in Benghazi, Libya, along with the destruction of the American consulate in that city. The Libyan President has condemned the act; we do not know this minute about any official Egyptian response. In the meantime, President Barack Obama has announced that he will not visit Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu when he is in the country later this month.

What does it all mean? Well, once you factor in the facts that both Egypt and Libya have, relatively recently, underwent regime changes, and that Israel has warned the West for years about Muslim intentions in the Middle East, the obvious conclusion is that the Obama Administration is turning a deaf ear towards the situation. It is doing so to the peril of the United States and her citizens.

What's more, many Americans themselves, indeed many people of many nations, are not learning certain lessons which they need to understand if we are to understand world events at all. There's no doubt that Hosni Mubarak and Muammar Gaddafi were tyrants. In a perfect world, they would have had to be brought down.

Yet our world is not perfect. As such, and as a direct reflection of the lack of perfection on the part of Americans and others who want tyrants out of power without regard for what happens next, when known tyrants are removed without known superior personages in a position to take their place, the people in those places are playing with fire. Yet the world, in its relative ignorance of many local political situations, applauds the changes. What does that get us?

Murdered Americans in increasingly unstable areas of the globe, that's what.

We are seeing in Libya and Egypt exactly what we ought to have expected to see given the circumstances of their revolutions. We are witnessing what must almost naturally happen in a power vacuum: the rabble begins to win in the short run, which means an increasing likelihood of worse tyrants in the long run. That is bad for the locals. It is bad for the world.

Libya and Egypt today are precisely what we should the fear the most, and in a part of the globe where stability is necessary to world security. We are watching the devil we don't see at work. We fear he will be worse than the devil we once knew. Not only for us, but for the very people he purports to lead.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

September 11, 2001

Eleven years have now passed since what may become the defining point of a generation. Eleven years, almost to the minute as this is being written, terrorists attacked the Pentagon, the World Trade Center, and were overcome by the passengers of an airplane over the hills of Pennsylvania. Eleven years, and we still cannot make any sense of it.

The trouble is that there is no sense to be made. To be sure, we can understand the reasons for even such terrible actions, in the same way that we can understand the reasons Hitler did what he did. Yet that is not the same as understanding.

How do we, how can we, come to actually understand rape or murder or thievery, mass murder or any any other evil which may be added to such a gruesome list, if we are to be decent human beings ourselves? It is only in warped mind where such heinous acts may be justified. As such, reasonable people simply cannot understand them. It is beyond their ability; it is pure nonsense.

So the goal today should be to remember. Remember the victims and their families, remember the countless acts of heroism that day, remember even the perpetrators of such despicable carnage if for no other reason than to remind ourselves that such twisted souls do exist, seeking the ruin of those those not in lockstep with them. But hopefully, remember even so that their redemption may be possible. If we are the good people we claim to be, even that shouldn't be so difficult of a task on so difficult of an anniversary.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

The Catholics and the Poor

Republican Catholics are 'country club Republicans' sorta, kinda, maybe, says Fr. Thomas Reese of Georgetown University, a Jesuit. We have nuns on buses who call House member Paul Ryan's budget 'immoral'. We have the Democratic Party telling us that Catholics who say things like that are the real Catholics. Well, what are the real Catholics to say about such criticisms?

Go to Hell comes to mind, but that is not charitable. Not at all. Yet we cannot help but feel that that is what they think of us. And that thought is entirely unfair. But, we think, it is an apt representation of how liberal Catholics view conservative Catholics.

We live in a world where television channels will not air prayers from Catholic Archbishops such as what Timothy Dolan gave from the Democratic National Convention but will show on live TV speeches from the likes of Sister Simone Campbell calling out Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan for supposedly immoral budgets. Does Sister Campbell speak for the Church, or does the Holy Father in Rome?

We certainly do not hear Pope Benedict XVI telling American Catholics to vote for Barack Obama, and with good reason. He favors things which are completely and totally at odds with the platform of the Democratic Party, things which are repugnant to the morality of any nation. However, even that does not and cannot violate the obligations of individual Catholics towards those in legitimate need. Sister Campbell is right to remind us of our obligations towards the poor and downtrodden.

What to do, what to do?

First off, we need to remember that our obligations towards those less fortunate than ourselves are our obligations as individuals. Governments are not called to help the poor: persons are. But what does that mean?

It means that persons are both obligated and empowered to seek out the truly needy. It means that persons are, further, obliged to judge who is needy and who is not. Not the government. Any government.

Sister Campbell can say what she wants, but persons, individual people, you and I, are the ones responsible to help the poor. Not Washington. Not Barack Obama. Not the Democratic Party. You and me.

That does not and cannot mean that you and I can take money from someone else to give to another someone whom you or I may consider in need. It means that we, each one of us, must seek out the face of Christ in the people who need help and then help them, even if it hurts us. It does not mean that we must dip our hands into the pockets of our fellow man to give to others. It means that we, as individuals, must dip into our own pockets to aid our needy brothers and sisters. It means that taking money from others, even to a presumably good cause, is immoral. It means that forcing others to be charitable on your judgment is of, at the least, questionable merit, and, at the most, an evil in itself.

And that is precisely what liberal Catholics do not understand. Persons are called by God to help persons who need help. Persons are not called by God to make other persons do what they themselves should do. People, individual persons, are called to do God's work. They are not called to make others do it for them. Making others do your work is not philanthropy. It is, however, lazy, selfish, and arrogant.

True Christian charity is in doing what you should do, not in making others do what you think they should do. This does indeed mean reminding our fellows of their duty towards themselves and others, even in things seen today as personal choices (as we see in the realms of abortion and gay marriage). We are our brothers' keeper. We are. Not Washington DC.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

GOP Supports Civil Rights

The minority vote is taken for granted by the Democratic Party. That's a shame, when you consider how badly that group has played minorities over the years.

Democrats want to take credit for all the advancements in civil rights in recent times, indeed for any and all forward movements on civil rights in our entire history. Yet at the least, the GOP deserves more consideration in what it has done in that area over time.

It was a Republican President, Dwight Eisenhower, who sent federal troops to insure that minorities were allowed in public high schools. Going back much further, a Republican, Abraham Lincoln, did the most to free the slaves. Say what you want about what he said at the time, his actions were what ended slavery.

How quickly too we forget the Dixiecrats, Democrats who opposed civil rights legislation. You know, the guys such as the late Robert Byrd, whose past the Democratic party has gone to great pains recently to ignore if not outright, ahem, whitewash? Not that it isn't good that he may have recanted later on in life, there is nonetheless his history of at least initially working against minorities.

It is interesting also to note that Republican support of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 was actually stronger than Democratic support. As a Party, the GOP voted for the Act by about an 80% - 20% margin; Democrats, while overall in favor of it, voted at about a 62% - 38% figure. Indeed, not enough Democrats in the Senate voted for the measure to have passed it on their power: only 46 Democratic senators voted aye. That means that it would not have passed the Senate without Republican support at a time the Democrats were the majority party by a tremendous number in that chamber, 67-33.

Why don't we hear about this in schools and the media? Because it's not history that they like. It makes conservatives in general and Republicans in particular look too good. So much for the objectivity of the journalists and educators.

When you throw in the fact that many minorities are social conservatives, one cannot help but conclude they need to rethink their ties to the Democratic Party. But when the race card gets played, well, we'll see who's actually played.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Would they Boo Sick Kids too?

You have to wonder whether the Democrats are trying to shoot themselves in their collective foot. They leave God out of the platform, then contrive to put Him back in. The action is met by boos, and, of course, it's all on film. A film which will be repeated over and over throughout the next nine weeks. It's nothing short of rank stupidity. They even had the order to pass the addendum to their platform typed into the teleprompter. Even Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, the chairman of the convention and the one at the podium during the voice vote which ended in booing, seemed confused and unsure of what to do. He finally announced that, in his teleprompted opinion, two-thirds were for the amendment, the Democratic platform would be altered. It was a completely scripted moment. Except for the boos, and the clear fact that there was not two-thirds support for the measure. Further attempts at damage control, and that is exactly what this was, went so far as to assert that the President did not know that there were no references to God in the original platform. Please. The President was not aware of something so obvious as that? Sitting presidents control theoir5 conventions, which mean they control the platform. If he didn't know, then it is simply another sign of how out of touch Barack Obama is with the American public. Last night's events overshadow the whole Democratic National Convention. The way in which they handled the issue is merely another symptom of the the illness which affects their party. They make a bad and wholly avoidable mistake and then compound it with something profoundly stupid. It is one more sign of the discomfort in their ranks as we head towards November. There is fear in the hearts of the Democrats. It shone brightly last evening.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

God and the Democrats

The Democratic National Convention is underway this week in Charlotte, North Carolina. It has hardly been smooth sailing. But perhaps more than anything else, there have been a couple of things which so far define the meeting in ways which should profoundly affect the American people and their view of the Democrats.

For starters, it seems that the national debt has crossed the $15 trillion dollar mark as the convention began. This was labelled 'unfortunate' by the Huffington Post. Why? Because it reflects poorly on their candidate? It was hardly an instance of unbiased journalism, considering their choice of the word unfortunate. Who are they to judge? Why not simply, ahem, report the fact? It shows us two things: one, the Huffington Post is biased towards the left and favors the Obama Administration. But most telling is that it shows very clearly to the American voting public that this Administration and this party are spending our nation into oblivion. It is not a message they wish to be reminded about during their time in the spotlight precisely because it illuminates the main trouble President Barack Obama and his minions must answer for in this election cycle.

Beyond this, the Democrats have dropped dropped the word God from their platform. He is mentioned in terms such as 'God-fearing Democrats' yet they do not otherwise appeal to Him. This leaves the question, who can they possibly be pander to with such an omission? The relatively few Americans who don't believe in God? How many votes can they hope to secure with this move? How could it have really hurt them to appeal to a Deity? Were there people ready to vote Republican if the Democratic Party had called upon the Almighty? We doubt it.

The Democrats are in trouble and they know it. Why are they going out of their way to exacerbate it? Have their fears become panic? Time will tell; our best bet is to let the clock keep ticking. Their further reactions to the tick tocking will tell us all we need to know.