Thursday, November 29, 2012

What is Truth?

Will somebody please tell me why I feel like a criminal? Will somebody please tell me why I feel that way simply as I approach my own border? I am in Canada a lot. Quite often in fact. And yet, when I am returning home, crossing my own border, I am addressed as though I do not belong where I live. I don't get it. I am an American citizen. I have proof of that. Yet I am treated as though I am not that. I do not know why. Have we lost our way? Have I lost my way? What is it? Who is wrong? I'm just asking. Yet I dread the answer. I would dearly love an intelligent answer. Is there one?

Cooperative Learning is Wrong

Do you want to know what's wrong with American schools these days? Yes, quite a lot, and particularly with the public ones. Yet certain trends permeate the whole scheme of education in this country, and one in particular has come to mean more than most. And it can be summed up in two words.

Cooperative Learning.

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

How Dare They Tell US How to Act?

House Speaker John Boehner's office was taken over yesterday by naked protesters. They were protesting proposed cuts in the funding of AIDS research. Their bodies were painted with slogans such as, "AIDS cuts will kill us".

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

Catholics and Personal Will

An article in this morning's Detroit Free Press, penned by a former priest, insists that the Catholic Church needs to rethink the issue of gay marriage. He is wrong, of course; the people who need to rethink their position are those who favor it. But to the point: he clearly is not in favor of gay 'marriage' for any theological reason. He's in favor of it for personal reasons, and that brings his entire position into question.

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

Is the Arab Spring Waning?

Egyptian leader Mohamed Morsi has taken Egypt upon himself. He has decreed new powers by which he claims he will be able to speed up the transition from the Mubarak regime into a democratic Egypt. Meanwhile, a civil war continues to rip apart Syria, and unrest threatens the peace in Gaza. All of this while the Middle East is still under the shadow of the vaunted Arab Spring which was supposed to move that area into the fold of supposedly enlighten democracies.

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

Take Away Black Friday

Here it is again, the fabled Black Friday orgy of spending excess which comes right on the heels of a popular holiday. We feast one day, and spend like mad the next. What are really being thankful for, in that light? It has been said ad infinitum the the commercialization of Christmas is a bad thing. It most certainly is, particularly for real Christians. Why should the second most important day in Christendom be hijacked for the sake of the economy? We ought to be insulted, not once, but twice: once, for the secular world co-opting the season, and two, for the hubris displayed by a world which doesn't want to hear about religion when religion is intent on making it a better place (which is what the truly religious seek) but is more than happy to invoke its call for generousity when it means lining tradesmens' pockets and adding sales taxes to the government coffers. The best thing to do is to stop feeding the beast. Maybe we are at a point where we ought simply stop giving and receiving Christmas gifts. Not that giving gifts is wrong; but that can be done anytime and any place. Why not be generous all the time and not just when the powers that be (be they private or government) encourage it? They should know we are Christians by our love, not our Christmas gift giving. It's just sad that too many folks, especially Christians, no longer see it that way.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Thanksgiving: We Are a Christian Nation

Whereas it is the duty of all nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey His will, to be grateful for His benefits, and humbly to implore His protection and favor; and Whereas both Houses of Congress have, by their joint committee, requested me to "recommend to the people of the United States a day of public thanksgiving and prayer, to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many and signal favors of Almighty God, especially by affording them an opportunity peaceably to establish a form of government for their safety and happiness:"

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

The Inconsolable Longing

C. S. Lewis speaks of something which, in German, is called Sehnsucht. He translates that as the inconsolable longing. It is a wish, says Wikipdeia, for we know not what. But we know not what, don't we? And it hurts very deeply, doesn't it?

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.

The Press, the Public, and Religion

The media is always after us, eh? The election of 2012 has come and gone, and it still harps on Republicans. Every dog indeed has its day it seems.

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

Tomorrow You may Die

Have you ever seen the movie Brazil? It's a fascinating and very strange film; what else would you expect out of Monty Python animator turned director Terry Gilliam? He certainly gives you what you bargain for visually. But do you remember how it's always Christmas in that film world? It's that way because the government has become to big and clumsy, and as governments can't seem to manage economies very well (governments tend not to understand economics) that government made it Christmas all year. The intent was to encourage people to spend for the sake of the economy. It was all that government could think to do, everything else, as should be expected, having failed.

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 Aren't Tolerant

Consensus as consensus is not particularly appealing. It isn’t that we don’t recognize the need for sometimes disagreeable agreement in order to move things along; it’s simply that most people who preach ‘consensus first’ really aren’t ready or willing to concede anything substantial at all.

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

A Stupid Way to Teach

Students in several school districts in Michigan are being exposed to yet another educational innovation designed to spur their thinking. It's called 'visible thinking' or 'See Think Wonder'. And, on the surface, it's stupid.

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

Government Help is not Charity

Is government aid charity? What brings this question up is Mitt Romney's explanation for his electoral defeat: the President offered gifts such as health care to the voters. The former Governor said more, but one illustration is enough. Basically, he alleges that Barack Obama bought the election.

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?

No.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Laws are Moral Decisions

It is often said, when discussing certain social issues, that we cannot legislate morals. Do you know the right response to that question?

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

Remember All Veterans Today

Why is it that we often only appreciate the American Soldier when he is fighting Nazis?

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

Papa John's Reduced Hours are Liberalism's Fault

The CEO of Papa John's pizza, John Schlatter, says that he will instruct his franchisees to limit employee hours. The parent company of the Olive Garden restaurant chain has toyed with the same idea; no doubt that many other small businesses have as well. Why? Because the law will require that any employee who works over 30 hours per week have their health care paid for by his boss.

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

Appealing to the Electorate

A quick glance at the American electorate after Tuesday's election offers questions which beg answers. This is highlighted even further when we contrast the results of the Election of 2012 with those of 2010.

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

Romney lost more so than Obama won

This is not a mandate. That's the first and most important thing to say. The President won, yes, but the GOP controls the vast majority of state houses and appears headed towards increasing its seats in the House of Representatives. It's a oddly divided nation we have, and the really interesting question about this election is, why are American voters so inconsistent?

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

Vote as You LIke on 5, Michigan

Of all the proposals on the statewide ballot this year in Michigan, perhaps the easiest to overlook is Proposal 5. It would call for a supermajority in the the State Legislature to pass any tax increase, or a popular vote in a November election. The idea gives one pause. It appears to be a very easy proposal to support; who among conservatives anyway does not want to make it more difficult for governments to increase taxes? Still, a two-thirds vote of the Legislature seems high. On how many things can we find two-thirds support among the people, let alone politicians? Not many. That, perhaps, is the most troubling fact with the proposal. It becomes fair to wonder whether democracy itself could survive should the idea be more broadly applied. Still, we can't shake the feeling that there is a degree to which Michigan politicians, or, more correctly, politicians in general (Michigan government seems to have been curtailed in recent times), have brought this upon themselves. As government continues to expand, it may be that the only real check on its growth is to choke it financially. Limit what it can take in, and it can only spend so much. Yet sometimes taxes must be raised, whether we like it or not. While the principle of minority rights cannot be too readily shunted aside, neither can the fear of the tyranny of the majority. If and when needed monies must be had for the sake of everyone in the state it seems foolish to hamper raising them. As we have said twice this week already in addressing ballot proposals, we always have options with elected officials. We can elect them out the next time. So what to do about Proposal 5? We lean towards saying no. The idea of limiting the power to tax is quite appealing, and we realize that a simple majority to pass any given tax all too often comes dangerously close to infringing minority rights. This is particularly true in this day and age when we have married ourselves to democracy so much that we have an attitude that if the majority wants it, it must be right. Might makes right, as such, is hardly moral. Yes, sadly, the safe bet seems to be vote no. But we will just the same not harbor any ill will towards those who vote yes. By itself, that may be a great message to send to Lansing. It's really only too bad we can't apply the measure to Washington.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Government must Govern

The Michigan ballot proposals which we face this coming Tuesday are an intriguing lot. But no matter what each one individually may say, they all have one thing in common. They're all attempts to enshrine ideas within the state constitution. That's not necessarily good.

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

Only Five Days Left

As we head down to the wire, the race for President appears to taking firm shape. Races are tightening in several states thought at one point to be safely for President Barack Obama. Swing states such as Ohio, Wisconsin, Florida, and Virginia, once thought in the President's back pocket, are in play. But to whom do we listen? The Huffington Post and the Nate Silvers of the polling world are insisting that Obama's lead will hold. Yet Gallup polls and the Rasmussen Reports seem to say that Mitt Romney is ahead; Gallup in particular has the former Massachusetts Governor up significantly. By that measure, Romney appears an easy winner. Given that Rasmussen and Gallup are more reliable than many other polls, and it is fair to believe that Romney rather than the President holds the upper hand. Rasmussen has the President with 237 safe electoral votes as of today, while it pegs Romney with 206. As 270 such votes guarantee a win, the advantage, it is argued, is to Mr. Obama, However, that doesn't take into account that two states, New York and California make up for 84 of the President's safe votes. Most of his other solid support comes from smaller states with fewer electoral votes, and most is also concentrated in the northeast. Almost everything is at least competitive or favoring Mitt Romney. What it means, then, is that the so-called swing states hold the power. And they are increasingly trending Romney, according to the more trustworthy polls. The evening of November 6th will be a long one for the White House, and the time to January 20th short.