Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Civil Libertarians Bully Christians

There is a small town in Ohio called Arlington. It is a neat little town. The streets are clean and the Christmas decor still adorns lamp posts and residences. Why, even the school is considerate enough to leave a nice holiday message on a sign facing the street. It says 'Merry Christmas and Happy New Year'.

Clearly, the ACLU has not caught wind of that. After all, a specifically Christian greeting on a public school (and therefore a government entity) surely violates that non-existent idea of the separation of church and state. It surely pressures everyone who sees it to violate their consciences and convert. Indeed, a Muslim family which were passing by on mere happenstance pulled their car over, sprung from it and ran right up to the greeting. They fell on their knees, making the Sign of the Cross and chanting the Our Father. It had that much impact.

Of course it didn't. No one with a reasonable head on their shoulders would be that affected by a simple wish readily expressed by a small town school. Quite frankly, even if such wishes were expressed everywhere, whether on government property or not, it is highly doubtful that they would impose guilt enough upon someone of another religion or the serious atheist to cause their conversion. The very idea is completely irrational. No one comfortable with who they are would care.

So it leaves us with the conclusion that those who protest against such expressions of faith are uncomfortable with who they are. So uncomfortable in fact that they must deny anyone not of their ilk the right to express their true emotions.

They say that bullies are actually afraid of others and are afraid that they don't measure up to them, and that's why bully. It brings those superior folks down. Likewise, it would appear that the civil libertarians who despise a common expression of Christianity on even government property are bullies. It leads us to believe that they fear their own rightness; they are very afraid that they might be wrong and the Christians the ones in the right.

It surely is a horrid, cowardly existence they must live.

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Sports mean Too Much these days

So drop the damn ball. What does it matter? - Joe Cosgriff

The above is an exact quote from one Joe Cosgriff, who was not much of a sports fan. Oh, he'd watch something occasionally, and was even known, every now and then, to ask how the Tigers had done. So we're not saying that he had no interest in sports and games. But we do wonder whether he, perhaps, had the right idea about them.

It is in this light that we note with a certain interest the upcoming reality show Friday Night Tykes. It appears to get into the real world of youth sports, with that distinct in your face attitude which football does so well. Screaming parents and coaches trying to impart manhood unto young men, doing so at the top of their lungs. Yep, it sure looks like it has sports in the right light.

So let's ask Joe's question: what does it matter if an outfielder or wide receiver drops a ball? What really can we take from a successful dunk or pretty goal or even an uphill 35 foot put with a significant left-right slope?

It could make millions of dollars to some people; okay, we get that. But that's only, we will say it, about the money. There's nothing wrong with that per se either. But the athletes who do not bag the extra cash still have friends and family, don't they, as well as more than the capacity to care for themselves and those who depend on them, right? So it hardly really matters, in any rational sense, what the outcome of the game might be.

Yes, yes, sports and games can be good recreation. Yet even that value seems a very minor one these days, especially when so many athletes aren't playing for recreation, are they? They're playing to show that they're better than the other guy. They're competing. It strikes us that such goes beyond recreation, so much so that any point about relaxation is out the window.

But sports teach us things, don't they? Things like discipline and doing your job and living up to the expectations of people who rely on you. They teach teamwork; they teach sportsmanship and respect for others.

Respect for others. That's are difficult point to take seriously when you're in a naturally adversarial position. Indeed, arguably, such can't teach respect but rather the other side of respect: the idea that I'm better than you. Such competitiveness cannot truly teach anything useful as it can only encourage jealousy and arrogance. Beyond that, so much of the discipline which comes from playing games can be learned without the games, and much more easily and directly. Get to school or work on time; get your job done; be there for people when they need you. If these and a great many other virtues aren't learned day in and day out as you live your life, it seems highly unlikely that the mere practice and play for a game will do it. At best, they are only part of the learning process, and a quite obviously unnecessary one at that seeing as they're a small part of most lives. Even the lives of most athletes.

We're not saying that sports and games are wrong. But we are saying that they're become too much a part of our society considering their relative worth. At the end of the day, no matter how you doll it up, a game is just a game. Nothing more.

We will have good sportsmanship only when someone drops a damn ball everyone simply shrugs and says, oh well. Until then, we will not have learned anything about the real value of any given game.

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Local Control Works

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.

It goes without saying that the most localized control we can have is to go right down to the individual. The more that an individual can do for himself, to pay for and nurture by himself, the better quality product he will generally have. What was the first part of the famous Milton Friedman quote? When a person is paying for something directly and for himself, he will demand the best price and the best quality. This goes for nearly all the everyday things human beings require: food, clothes, shelter, and education.

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, December 24, 2013

The Democrats are the True Extremists

Some recent polling has indicated that a majority of Americans see the Republican Party as extreme. The same data says that 57% of Americans see the Democrats as mainstream. What does this say about us as a nation?

A few folks have asserted that it reflects the fact that people want government out of their lives. Yet if that were the case, why are so many Americans against Obamacare, a plan which infuses government into the average American's life more than anything the GOP ever proposed? If the poll reflects anything, it reflects that Americans are confused. Or, worse, it reflects a general apathy.

We fear the latter. How can anyone argue seriously that the Democratic Party is the party of individual rights when we have Obamacare and TSA searches? How can anyone seriously argue that the Democrats are the party of the person when that party says that Americans can be hunted down without regard to their rights as American citizens? Does the average American not know about Obama's disregard of Constitutional rights?

Of course, the logical answer is that the average American doesn't know about these things. And they don't care. They have their football and various entertainments. So long as what Obama does doesn't seem to affect them directly, or if it is in areas where they see a 'right' such as mandated health care (even should it violate the conscience of an individual), then so be it. Besides, we may need an abortion some day, should our free will dalliances result in a human life which would get in the way of our free will dalliances.

If the GOP is seen as extreme, a debatable point given the general nature of polls and the fickleness of people, it is because of one of two things. If the Republicans aren't explaining themselves well enough, not taking the initiative they need to in showing the people what is right and what is wrong, then the fault is theirs. But if the trouble is with the American people themselves, if they have been seduced by the Democrats and their call for an easy life where decisions are made for them by the government, then the fault is with the people and not with what the GOP or the conservative movement or conservative philosophy. The responsibility then lies with the people. If that is the case, then the United States has not long to live. Indulgence to our basest instincts, to our personal selfishness, can only lead to our collapse as a nation.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Mount Soledad Cross must Remain

This is in response to those who want to remove the Cross from Mt. Soledad in San Diego, a cross which is a tribute to veterans. It is part of a debate will never end, but needs to be perfectly clear just the same: the United States is a Christian nation. It was founded by Christians on essentially Christian principles.

Freedom of religion? A Christian concept.

The majority of our Founders? Christian. The Declaration of Independence refers to 'Laws of Nature and Nature's God' entitling the people their right and concludes (in part) 'with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence'.

The money says In God We Trust.

There are prayers before sessions of Congress.

Presidents regularly end televised addresses 'and God Bless America'.

We could go on, but this is ample evidence. We will point just to same, to all you ignorant of the real Constitution, that the supposed separation of church and state is not a part of it. The phrase was coined by Thomas Jefferson in a speech from 1802. But that little fact won't matter a whit to the atheist bullies and haters out there, will it?

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

The Free Market isn't Everything

We conservatives like the free market; that declaration ought to surprise no one. But we also know that it is not and never will be truly free. Why is that?

Human imperfection, for starters. We aren't perfect, and it is silly to believe that a perfect system can come out of less than perfect people. Every human construct will be flawed and there's no getting around that. Markets, being human constructs, will not always lead to the right or best result. Of course, we think that free markets are the best there is at getting beyond error. Yet that doesn't mean they always will. As one of chief arguments against government interference in the economy is that too much is going on for governments to efficiently regulate, it applies as well that in free markets too many people and too many decisions are involved for every single effort to work out well. Yes, markets will organize themselves to a certain degree. But not exactly right and not necessarily in everyone's best interest in every single instance.

Then there's that pesky fact that not every economy in the world is free. True, that is not the fault of free market economics. Yet is another reflection on that pesky idea that people aren't perfect. Simply telling folks that they need freer markets won't lead to them. Government interference alone will see to that, and the simple assertion that open markets are better won't convince everyone that they are. It may be honest disagreement, stupidity, power, or just plain obstinacy which prevents accepting the free market rationale. The markets will never overcome all such obstacles. As such, completely free markets will never exist. There's no point to pretending they will. There will always be interference in them; about the best we will ever have is to limit that through the political process the best we can.

Now we come to those pesky social issues which drive the more rabid free market enthusiasts mad. Not every human trade ought to be in the open market. An easy example is slavery, but it goes beyond that. Prostitution comes to mind, and of course the entire abortion industry is simply wrong. What we're leading up is this: merely because people could do something doesn't mean that they should. Some activities must be banned simply because they're so wrong that an enlightened society must not tolerate them. We can argue where the line should be drawn: that there is a line is another question. There is, and we must find (or at least get as close as we can) and adhere to any legitimate market parameters which exist.

Finally, and this comes directly from our third point, free markets are not the end all be all of human existence. Right and wrong are; doing what's right and avoiding what's wrong the best we can should be our goal. Even the concept of free markets itself recognizes this. Proponents essentially say that markets ought to be free because justice demands it. Yet once we say that, we are effectively arguing not for free markets but for justice. It appears that free markets are a subset, albeit a very important subset, of justice. That also makes it appear that justice can make demands of markets, and that markets not only cannot but should not be totally free.

The freest market possible market is the best market because it allows for the most possible good for the most people. Yet it would still be flawed, it would still commit error, and we need to realize that if we are ever to improve upon it.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Why Hunt, but why Regulate Hunting?

The Michigan Legislature has passed a bill, The Michigan Wildlife Management Public Education Fund, which attempts 'to sell the public on the benefits of hunting.' It will be financed by increased fees for hunting and fishing licenses.

Well, where to start? To begin with, and we know before we say this that it's going to draw the ire of hunters and fishermen, we don't really see the point in hunting and fishing in this day and age, at least in the western world. We're not saying it's wrong either, but it surely can't be about getting food. That's much more easily done by a trip to Meijer's, and with a lot less trouble and expense. Yes, we know that it's fun for hunters, and that's as may be. It still seems like a lot of trouble, and it concerns us that so many get a thrill from a kill, so to speak. Still, so long as they properly harvest what they hunt we see no reason to condemn the practice.

It's good to hear that the Fund will be financed through hunting and fishing licenses, that is, by those who hunt and fish rather than through the general taxes. If a government is going to be involved in the hunting business then at least only those already involved should have to pay the higher fees. It would be nice if the government would in like manner apply that logic to state parks and increase the fees to where only those who used them funded them. But, oh dear, we've probably just offended another group, haven't we?

It remains to ask, though, why 'sell' the public on hunting at all? The practice doesn't appear to need selling. If it's to convince the populace of the need to thin herds or ward off predators, well, that strikes us as a different matter. Yet even there, can we be so sure the government knows what it's doing? Surely persons can defend themselves and their property as need be...until we remember all the regulations involved with hunting, fishing, and self defense. It seems we can't just shoot predatory animals without Lansing's approval, if the wolf hunting in the Upper Peninsula outcry means anything. And thinning herds must be terribly problematic for anyone less than a higher organized body, at least in the minds of those in legislatures. So what's the real answer?

As with so many issues, it's to let the people alone to hunt, fish, and repel dangerous creatures. But that's just far to simple of an idea for a government to grasp, isn't it?

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Markets are coercive too

Our libertarian friends make a big deal about how laws are coercive. Some go so far as to assert they do 'violence' against people, whatever that means, and as such are at least arguably wrong.

Maybe so, maybe no. It seems reasonable to allow that government when acting within its proper sphere must be allowed that strength. Still, the coercive ability of government certainly is indeed powerful and as such must be limited. But as the typical libertarian also demands freedom (whatever they mean by that) and free markets, we find ourselves asking, isn't freedom, aren't the markets, coercive too? Cannot people acting freely nonetheless be doing violence to others through whatever coercive measures may be at their disposal?

When a large corporate structure makes its employees work on what are holidays for most of the populace, isn't it being coercive? When a large corporate structure leans on its vendors for better prices and service, isn't it being coercive (and arguably violent, to use the libertarian catchphrase)? Why aren't such 'violences', which most certainly infringe on the freedom of others, as wrong as government action?

Perhaps because those involved in private endeavors realize what they're up against and accept the cost. That appears fair enough, so far as it goes. Yet how far does it really go? If you need your job but would like the time off with your family and friends, you are at least, again, arguably, having a violence done against you when made to work when most others are enjoying days off. If you have no realistic choice but to take the job you've got or are offered, isn't that still a demand against your freedom and free will? If Large Corporate Structure leans on your company or you employer's company to give a better deal or else, isn't violence being done to you and them? Why is that less of an affront to human dignity that a law?

Don't misunderstand our point: we would far prefer freer markets and freer people than we have in America today, and freer markets would surely give people greater choices in where they work and what they buy. We are simply not impressed with the violence argument with regard to government action. The question isn't whether government actions are coercive but whether they are right. So long as they are right, issues of freedom are superfluous. But more, if freedom is the real point of libertarianism then the movement ought to be a bit more concerned with a decided lack of real choice on the part of many people much of the time, and realize that often they are at the mercy of forces if not as powerful as government, still very strong and still to some degree oppressive. That was part of the point of Pope Francis's recent encyclical. Threats to freedom and dignity are not all at the hands of a congress or parliament.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Born This Way means Nothing

Why should anyone think that they have a right to act certain ways, and this includes any kind of action at all, simply because they are 'born that way'? If there is a more asinine defense of what we may do as people, it certainly isn't obvious.

No one, and that means absolutely anyone under absolutely any conditions, has the right to do anything they please based merely on intuition, feeling, or physical or psychological makeup. They may not be able to help what they do if and when a genuinely physical ailment or other explicable impediment is involved, yet even then we do what we can to help them learn to do the right thing, because even their genuine ailments or unfortunate conditions cannot justify their actions. It can only mean, at most, they are not morally culpable for what they do.

But most of us are. As such, we can choose what we should or should not do as we get along in our lives. We make decisions, and it is up to us to be rational about them. Indeed we have a duty to act rationally so far as we can, and we must be willing to face the consequences of what we do as well. But if we are to be rational, we must admit that we have a basic, general control over what we do. Why? Because one of the things which most of us are indeed born with is the capacity for intellectual considerations.

A properly developed intellect must tell us that we simply cannot do things just because we have a desire to do them. This includes doing the things we like to do which are not wrong in themselves. If you are inclined to play baseball, you may play it. But not because you're born with an affinity for sports and games; rather, because it is not wrong to play baseball. Even then, it can be wrong, according to circumstance, to play it. If you're supposed to be at work or doing your chores, then you can't play because more important obligations trump the desire.

If you cannot accept that, well, so be it. But you had also better not hold anything against conservatives supporting conservatism. Because, of course, they're just born that way.

Friday, December 6, 2013

The Pope Didn't Say It

The media and the uniformed voter are having a field day: Pope Francis has condemned capitalism! Except, as with many other things he is supposed to have said, he did nothing of the sort.

His latest encyclical, Evangelli Gaudium, does not condemn capitalism in any way, shape, or form, nor does it speak ill of the free market. He does not speak of 'unfettered capitalism' as a 'new tyranny'. Those are terms which the media and the Catholic and religious left have put into his mouth. You can be a Catholic in good conscience as well as a capitalist; why does the left want the Pope's views seen otherwise?

Obviously because they are trying to make what they want of the Church because the Catholic Church as an institution is the biggest obstruction to government action. They're trying to shame the Christian right into doing things which cannot be supported. Not only is that unmitigated gall, it is rank hypocrisy. The left wants the Church involved in government where it believes there should be state action. But check your religious values at the voting booth door all you against abortion, thank you.

The Pope's actual intent is really rather simple: to remind us that all human constructs will be flawed because each and every human being lacks perfection. As such, even capitalism and the free markets are not, cannot, and never will be perfect. We must be aware of those facts, and ready to act against error when the market errs, as it will.

His words are not cause for alarm on the part of the conservative religious nor a rallying cry for the activists of the religious left. They are the words of a servant reminding all who will listen of their obligations towards themselves and the world. Nothing more.

And nothing less. Our obligations are great and our weaknesses many. We must not forget either side of that equation.

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Shop Till You Drop Wherever

Today is shop local Saturday, or something like that. We forget the acronym for day or whether there even is one, but we all get the point: shop local, shop the mom and pop establishments rather than the big box stores.

We're okay with that, provided that you aren't doing it merely to knock shopping the big national or international chains. At the end of the day it's about shopping for what you want where you want. There are advantages both ways really.

Think what you want, there tend to be better buys for the common goods at larger stores and there isn't anything wrong with taking advantage of that. Smaller neighborhood stores are typically niche stores, and there are good things about that. If you want something quirky or unique you'll often find it at a place small enough to be quirky and unique. And if you think that's helping your friends and neighbors, well, you're right. You are.

Yet you're helping them too to shop the box stores. How many friends and neighbors work at them? If it's keeping the money local which worries you then it's at least worth considering that the wages they earn and the taxes they pay, much of it, anyway, stays local. Why be all hung up on money staying local as it is? Everything's local to someone. So WalMart's profits go to, where is it, Arkansas? Wherever their products are made is local to those folks, isn't it?

The bottom line is to shop where you want and don't try to shame others about where they spend their dimes. This means that the box stores mavens must reject their sneering about shopping local for those who want to while the supporters of the store next door end their holier than thou tactics as well. To us, that sounds like the perfect solution.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Thanksgiving 2013

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.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

It isn't all about the Economy

Once there was a day called Black Friday. It was meant to launch the holiday shopping season, and was known to start as early as 4 or 5 in the morning on the day after Thanksgiving. Yet that, it seems, was not good enough. We have reached the point where the sales are encroaching so far into Thanksgiving itself that there are stores opening as early as 5PM Thursday afternoon. We are now faced with Black Thursday.

There is something seriously wrong with this picture, something which speaks to a serious ill in American society. Why do we need these sales? Why do people think they have they right to them? And before all the rabid libertarian free marketers go livid about it (no one makes them do it, what about freedom?) let's ask you one things: aren't some folks being made to do things?, and, isn't their freedom being sacrificed?

It is hard to imagine that the bulk of sales and support staff at stores would rather be working than at home with their families and friends on a major holiday. The same can be said of those working arenas for sporting events as well, or even at television stations and entertainment establishments. Why do we think we have the right to expect those people to have to work for our leisure?

This isn't capitalism. It's consumerism, and it's the worst example of bacchanalia. It is the time of year when we least like free markets, and perhaps the best time to remind those who do that economics aren't everything. Simple, unfettered economics may well infringe on someone's freedom as well as any government attempt to stifle a reasoned liberty. Yet there is a difference. There's at least a small chance that, with a bit of discipline at the voting booth door, we might actually stop government. Is there any way we might stop the Invisible Hand?

And we have yet to address the question of how society seems okay excising religion from itself while employing religious holidays just the same for its own nefarious purposes. But we'll save that for another time.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Hate isn't a crime

When someone is beaten up or killed, the attacker is usually charged with a crime appropriate to the situation. A killing may be murder one, or perhaps simply manslaughter, depending upon the circumstances surrounding the act. There are various gradations of many other crimes as well. All of that is fine, so far as it goes. It gives the judicial system the leeway necessary to ensure that criminal acts are justly prosecuted. Any decent approach to criminal justice requires that all things relevant to someone's ill conceived or stupid action be considered. Yet more than anything else, the main reason we have the laws we do is to protect human lives, because each human life is immeasurably valuable.

Yet we have now added to the mix the specter of hate crimes. If the crime someone has committed was driven by bigotry, by a hatred of minorities or, as seems more generally the case, homosexuals, (although depending on the area where the incident takes place there can be many other inclusions within the hate crime arena), then an additional charge is often leveled at the accused. They will be charged, essentially and additionally, with hating the attacked.

The first glaring error within such a line of thought is that the motivation for a crime is seen as the same as a crime. But while we recognize that impure and spiteful thoughts of any kind are morally offensive, merely thinking such and such a way can never truly be considered a crime. We would all merit jailing if that were the case, for we all from time to time think things we shouldn't. It is simply Orwellian to make thoughts criminal.

Yet that is perhaps not the worst aspect of hate crimes or, as they are sometimes more benignly called, bias oriented crimes. The most galling aspect of them is in how they, however inadvertently this may be, treat those killed or beaten or robbed without hateful motivation as essentially less human than a homosexual or minority or whomever attacked because of their skin color or sexual preference.

This is nothing less than an insult to the victims of crime who do not happen to fall into one of the hate crimes categories. They are no less human than those people who have the added glory of hate crime given them.

Murder is murder. Period. A irreplaceable human life has been taken. The reason hardly matters, for we have grounds enough to condemn to at least life imprisonment the murderer on that fact alone. To add anything more to that merely because the victim may be of a certain ilk beyond his control is nothing less than making those people more important, well, merely because of incidental circumstance. It truly insults the attacked who had no such special (and it cannot be stressed enough, incidental) extension of themselves while actually patronizing the supposed victim of whatever hate crime is at issue. We act as though a crime against them is worse merely because of who they are.

That isn't justice. That's an immorality upon itself. We must cease to see motive as criminal. Only then shall we truly see a crime as a crime, and only then will all be equal in the eyes of the law.

Friday, November 22, 2013

Clive Staples Lewis

Joy is the serious business of Heaven.

We think that what we do here on Earth means something. And it does, to be sure. But not what we believe of it.

A smile, a glance, a kind word. Very important little moments. And very small just the same.

All the while these moments make us very happy. But why?

Because they are glimpses of a very real and true happiness which we all sense, which we all fathom quite profoundly even when we refuse to allow that it exists.

To many people remember JFK fifty years later. They do not remember another soul lost to the world decades ago as well.

They should.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Obamacare Bullies the People

What to do on a Sunday morning? Why, take potshots!

Given the fact that health insurance is going to rise considerably, wouldn't it make more sense (and be cheaper) to just take the penalty the first year or two? You know, try to stick it out until the country has a chance to throw the bums out and maybe allow the markets and the people to decide what sort of care (if any) they want? It's obvious that the liberals, those paragons of civil liberty, want to control you, as the venerable Charles Krauthammer says here: http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/charles-krauthammer-obamacare-laid-bare/2013/10/31/d229515a-4254-11e3-a624-41d661b0bb78_story.html

It ain't about caring for you, people. It's about controlling you. That's what modern Democrats are all about.

That bullying scandal facing the NFL today is deliciously ironic. In an arena where brute force is encouraged (except against quarterbacks, who can't be hit as they are apparently milquetoasts who must be protected by special rules) that these big, strong he-men can't remember the old saying about sticks and stones. We hear all kinds of fire up chants coming out of huddles, we witness all kinds of chest pounding after late game, meaningless tackles or touchdowns, only to finally hear the moral equivalent of, "Mommy, they're being mean to me!"

The fact is that the football mentality encourages upbraiding an opponent on the field. It encourages disrespect of anyone who isn't part of their team. Yet there's shock and dismay when this bullying attitude spills over into the real lives of the players. More than 30 NFLers have been arrested so far in a year (2013) which still has about seven weeks to go. The charge of mere bullying seems laughably innocent.

We were going to say something about something else, something political, perhaps, until this story caught our eye: http://www.sportingnews.com/ncaa-football/story/2013-11-15/quarterback-attacked-in-bathroom-ciaa-winston-salem-state-virginia-state

It seems a more appropriate way to end this column this day. The collegians are learning from their professional role models.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

The Ignorant Electorate

The Republican controlled House of Representatives have passed a bill which would allow anyone who wanted to to keep their current insurance. 39 Democrats joined in to make the vote much more significant. Meanwhile, the President has vowed to veto the bill if it reaches his desk.

With so many Americans against Obamacare it is very difficult to understand why so many folks don't better appreciate what the GOP in the House is trying to do. With a majority of citizens against the health care law, the GOP was stormed with criticism for 'shutting down the government' (which in fact it did not; the President did) in an attempt to stop the ACA entirely; why? We often hear cries for a more principled leadership from our elected officials. Yet when those leaders try to do something about what we don't like, they are frowned upon.

Now we have a reasonably bipartisan effort to do little more than tweak the law, and a President who vows to stop the effort. There haven't been all that many clear cut issues in our history, but this one draws sides quite precisely. Can we expect the American people to sit up. take notice, and support the guys and gals trying to do right by the voter here?

Probably not. The American voter is one of the worst low information voters in the world. It does make us wonder whether democracy really is all that. If we call for principled leadership yet decry it when it comes, we wonder whether the right to vote has any real use.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Florida HOA out of Line

In the news today, a homeowner in Florida had a bit of trouble with his Homeowners association. He planted trees which were, in their minds, too short, and is being fined a hundred bucks a day for it

Here are a few reflections on the matter.

1. The homeowners association is way off on such issues. What difference could short trees make to property value?

2. You should be careful about signing away your right to property ownership to a bunch of other property owners who really only want to be busybodies.

3. Homeowners associations are ultimately socialists writ small.

4. Sure, there are reasonable exemptions to what even a property owner should be able to do with his property. But note the word reasonable; property owners should never have to kowtow to the neighborhood simply because the neighborhood thinks they should.

5. You aren't protecting your property one bit by dictating every little thing your neighbor can do. You're just being a little Hitler, and a pretty petty one at that.

6. This demonstrates that private individuals acting privately can't always be expected to fully understand property and personal rights issues. That's why property rights should be protected by law rather than, perhaps, shallow local opinion.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Veterans Day

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.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Time Outs are Evil

Time outs in any timed sport (except for those called by officials) simply lack integrity. No player, team, or manager/coach, indeed anyone with a direct interest in the outcome of the game, should be able to stop the clock merely because it's to their advantage. It is nothing less than unsportsmanlike.

It's entirely just to argue against nonofficial time outs. Part of a timed sport almost by definition is how well one can play during the time allotted. If you run out of time it generally says something about poor clock management, poor decision making, and poor play more than anything else. As such, time outs punish good defense and reward error. How many games, especially football and basketball games, are won by teams who took leads which they should not have had the opportunity to take simply because they could stop the clock merely because it suited them and only them, or prevented another team from running out the clock when they led? Either instance is hardly a fair measure of athletic ability. And neither have integrity.

Isn't that what sports are supposed to be about, integrity, fair play, and sportsmanship? If they aren't, why play them? What could they teach us otherwise except that it's okay to win any way we can, so long as we win?

But let's call time outs what they really are: manufactured excitement. The fans are getting played because the powers that be want more excitement any way they can generate it, to keep interest and make more money. Fans have bought into this hook, line, and sinker, so much so that they don't even realize their allegiances are being toyed with, so much so that they don't even care about whether the rules are sportsmanlike or not. It's become the Roman Colosseum all over again, bread and circuses, and it indicates a serious flaw in our society.

Time out rules are inherently partial because they play solely towards one side at a given, uh, time. But a good rule must be impartial; it should never play only to one side's advantage. Rules ought to be wholly impartial, and not simply in sports but in life in general. They require impartiality so that they may be applied fairly and justly.

Part of it too is that time outs separate acts from their natural consequences. If a team plays poorly for 58 minutes but can stop the clock often late in a game it makes light of their earlier mistakes. Does life give us such chances? Then why ought sports, if part of their intent (as defenders of athletics so often say) is to make us better people? Can they really make us better people if they allow wanton selfishness at critical points during play?

No, they can't. Until we learn that a game holds no lesson for us unless it has the most completely impartial rules possible then that game will only teach us that winning is everything. But when the Great Scorekeeper comes, will he accept that defense?

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

2013 Elections: Nothing Great

Well, nothing spectacular happened in any local races yesterday, which ought to have been expected. Mike Duggan was elected Mayor of Detroit (though not by so large a margin as we expected, even though it was almost a statistical landslide) and Detroit voters also elected Council members by district for the first time. A Latina, Raquel Castaneda-Lopez, was selected from Detroit's 6th Council district, and she is believed to be the first Hispanic ever elected to be for the Council. In Lincoln Park it appears that Elliott Zelenak will be the youngest City Council member ever there, being 18. Myriad other cities elected myriad others to various governmental positions, most of which are relatively blah except to the localities themselves.

Detroit saw a higher turnout than its last municipal election. A little over 25% of Detroit voted yesterday compared to around 22% in 2009. It's not exactly an outstanding number, but political wonks seem to believe it worth mention. The real big issue is probably that Detroit will have its first white mayor in 40 years in Duggan. Yet even that seems unimportant given that his election had long been a foregone conclusion; what excitement can there be when what was anticipated actually happened?

We do wonder whether some of the municipal offices require election. Why are we electing city and county clerks? Why can't they be appointed? There are likely many reasons for it, but we don't care to look them up. It sounds dull, so it probably is dull. We only the question to begin with because we don't see anyone getting truly excited over city clerk candidates; even political groupies seem rather ho-hum about them, don't they?

There were usual ballot initiatives which nobody but Library Larrys actually care about. Initiatives to fund community colleges were passed by people who think public vaguely education matters, while some provisions for road work (something where a local government actually has a legitimate sphere) passed too. There were probably a couple charter revisions as well, but, yawn.

Simply put, nothing earth shattering happened yesterday. It was what to be expected. And we all prefer things when they're we expect anyway, don't we?

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Elections 2013

Today there is an election in Detroit. Actually, there is probably an election in many other places besides Detroit, yet we doubt that it matters less anywhere except Detroit. It will be interesting to see how many folks show up to vote.

With the Emergency Manager and all it is difficult to imagine a more pointless endeavor than voting in Detroit today. Not that we're against the EM; Detroiters brought Kevyn Orr upon themselves through irresponsible voting as it is. And eventually the people elected today will indeed run the city. Perhaps the real questions are, will the newly elected have learned from the past and actually be responsible guardians of the public trust? Will the new Detroit City Council, elected mainly from districts, actually represent the city and not simply use their thrones to rant against everyone they suppose are against her? Will this be the true renaissance which brings Detroit back into respectability or merely another example of the provinciality which has plagued the town for years? Will Detroit actually become a part of Michigan, or continue to insist she stands alone?

We shall see. In the meantime, watch the local news and pretend, Detroiters, that we are still players in the Wolverine state. It will at least make things entertaining.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

NFL anti-bullying efforts Absurd

Any one else notice the odd bedfellows associated with anti-bullying crusade?

A Miami Dolphins football offensive tackle has reportedly been bullied by teammates, although the player, Jonathan Martin, reportedly holds nothing against his fellow players. Still, the Dolphins have announced that the team will not tolerate bullying. This from a member of an organization, the National Football League, which promotes organized and willful violence between its participating athletes on a daily and weekly basis through practices, scrimmages, and games. But they're against bullying.

Does anyone else see something absurd about that?

Similarly the WWE, or World Wrestling Entertainment, has for several years been active on the anti-bullying front through such promotions as its Be a STAR program (Show Tolerance And Respect) in which their roster of superstars go to schools to encourage kids not to be nor tolerate bullies. There's nothing wrong with that so far as it goes (we could quibble by asking such intrusive questions of a feel good campaign such as tolerate what? or respect it why? but such are for another time), but isn't it the least bit incongruent for a wrestling entertainment corporation which actively promotes trash talk among its members leading up to, during, and after wrestling events to turn around and, in real life, argue against the same behaviors? Can someone say mixed message?

Still, there are important differences between the two. The WWE brand of violence is comic and the organization knows it. Indeed, it plays it up. Wrestlers do things cooperatively in the ring so as to reduce the chance of serious injury. The violence of the NFL is intentional and uncooperative, and makes the League's anti-bullying cries seem at least vaguely hypocritical. The WWE is self aware. It doesn't promote violence per se. The NFL is at least arguably schizophrenic. Its violence is encouraged while its mouthpieces say things radically opposite of the attitudes encouraged for play in an actual game.

We find we can take the wrestlers' anti-bullying pleas more seriously. Go figure.

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Libertarians are at War with Religion

We have written from time to time where we doubt the libertarian commitment to freedom of religion. Libertarians as a group haven't really come out with guns blazing to support the religious rights which are involved with the health care debate in the United States today. A recent article in Time appears to indicate why.

This: http://ideas.time.com/2013/10/29/whos-a-real-libertarian-now/ is a very interesting piece and worth a conservative taking a moment to read. It in many ways supports the idea that conservatives and libertarians could (in fact ought to) get along better. The seeds are there to the point where the poll cited as the basis of Nick Gillespie's writing (the American Values Survey) indicates that around 45 percent of those who may be identified as libertarians also call themselves Republicans, a higher affiliation than independents. Only 5 percent of libertarians call themselves Democrats, a mind bogglingly low number considering the general libertarian positions on social issues.

But the most troubling aspect is the assertion that libertarians 'are far less likely than most Americans to be religious and to think that religion has a place in politics.' This puts libertarian philosophy at odds with conservatives on questions of abortion and gay rights, the questions which are at the heart of the entire health care debate with regard to religion. Libertarians are so focused on the individual that they have trouble fathoming that an organization may have rights above the individual will.

Yet it must be noted that religious organizations are moral persons too (just as the government is a moral person, as are big or small businesses as well) and as such have rights individual to them. If a Catholic hospital does not want to offer abortions or a Catholic adoption agency does not want to adopt children to homosexuals, they have that right. Indeed if any given religious organization feels that way, they have that right. Truly, if an individual business does not want to offer certain health care options because of a serious religious conviction, it has that right too.

Libertarians don't seem to care about that. They are so focused on the person that they cannot accept that not each and every right is quite so personal. This means they have difficulty accepting that there are obligations on the person above or beyond that person's will whether that person wants to accept them or not. And now we are right at the crux of the abortion debate: who is a person, and what are their responsibilities? Further, we are faced with the issue of who determines responsibility: the person acting alone, or something greater than he or she?

We are willing to argue that the trouble stems from a lack of real respect for religion on the part of our libertarian friends if not also from a lack of responsibility in the best sense. Or, that is, from a lack of an understanding of the causes and sources of responsibility. They believe it is the person. Yet when they do that, they fail to consider whether a tyranny of the individual is better than the tyranny of society.

We're not arguing for either; tyranny is bad either way. But we are arguing for a better course than what we've got, one that should lean strongly towards individual freedom while keeping it checked where checks are needed. Conservatism, being so more closely in touch with right religious sentiment, indeed being more in touch with right sentiments generally, sees that. Libertarians, being generally disassociated with religion, do not. In the end, it is a telling example of why we are the one rather than the other.

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Packard Plant issues Run Deep

The purchase of the old Packard plant on East Grand Boulevard in Detroit is down to the second bidder, and it seems that the opportunity to buy the old building will in fact fall to bidder number three. But why should we even care?

It hasn't been seriously used in half a decade; we do not count self styled artists, quite frankly. They're simply interlopers. So for something that has sat around deteriorating they seems little reason why it should be such a huge public worry these days.

Yes, it's a blight as it is, and a potential danger. We get that. But we're aren't saying that nothing should be done about the former auto assembly plant. We are saying that the solution is as simple as it is obvious: tear it down.

That that hasn't happened is a reflection of many things, and we admit we don't know all the factors involved. Absentee ownership may enter into it, and incompetence on the part of Detroit officials almost surely does as well. There may be a decent way to salvage it which we do not know, for that matter, but given its location we doubt that. Any way you slice it, all the hand wringing over the issue just strikes us as absurd. We suspect that the most likely culprit is a general dereliction of duty all the way around, and that someone ought to have taken the bull by the horns decades ago yet have not. The only real public interest question is why nothing has happened in so very long. And that will never be properly addressed yet alone answered satisfactorily.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Wither Isle Royale?

Republican Senator Tom Coburn has opened up a hornet's nest among the Michigan Congressional delegation and Michigan outdoorsmen and outdoorswomen. He has said that spending federal money on Isle Royale National Park and the Keweenaw National Historic Park are wasteful.

Let's cut straight to the chase here: why should the federal government be involved in parks services at all? To keep certain areas pristine and free from development? But why? What true national interest is there when attempting to 'maintain' an island which is rather inaccessible and scarcely 16,000 folks per year see it? Why, in the case of the Keweenaw holdings, are we trying to keep up mining sites?

One could argue, for recreation. But isn't that just another code word for special interest? After all, when a scant 16,000 people care to visit Isle Royale, we are most certainly speaking of a narrow interest. Yet even beyond that, whether or not we have national parks should not be about numbers. They should be about a truly general interest.

Or they ought to be held privately by people who actually care about them. Remember the Obama Administration trying to close Mount Vernon, only to find out that it's privately and reasonably maintained? Why should imagine that an government which can't build a decent website but can increase health care costs under the thin veil of helping the people be able to keep parks clean and available?

We aren't sure that any national parks truly serve a general interest. But to the degree that they might, the standards should certainly be higher than they are. As it is, we're spending an awful lot of money on pork. Senator Coburn is right to draw attention to this. The oinks from the sties of the likes of our own Senator Carl Levin or Representative Dan Benishek are are we really need to hear to know that the Oklahoman is on target.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Education and the Nation

A player on his high school football was booted from both the team and his school for writing a poem, which was labelled 'bullying and intimidating'. You can read it here, if you like: http://www.cnn.com/2013/10/24/us/high-school-football-player-poem-suspension/index.html . He has since been reinstated, and has himself called the poem 'stupid'. But before we get into any discussion of whether the poem was either stupid or bullying, let's ask the one question which will not, we promise, get asked by anyone. Why was a high class given an assignment to write a poem about what made them angry in the first place?

Wouldn't you expect that such a piece of writing could very easily become intimidating? Yet even that isn't really the problem. We cannot help but wonder why a high school English class ought to be writing what amounts to free verse poetry to begin with. We wonder whether they had studied poetry at all before dreaming up such assignments.

Read the poem. It clearly isn't particularly good (nor particularly bad, to be fair). It's just an expression of thoughts. But our real question has nothing to do with self expression as such. It has all to do with why the class wasn't studying actual poets and poetry rather than merely having students express their contempt about something and calling it education?

Perhaps they did study poetry and were expected to apply that knowledge, but we doubt it. American education hasn't been about actually learning something for quite some time. It has, however, become self indulgent under the guise of education. The results are knee jerk assessments of how a young man is treated by his football team and his school, and how knee jerk the results. It is not thought but a lack of thought all the way across the board which allowed this seed to become an issue played up on CNN over issues which have nothing to do with education but all to do with sensationalism.

This is not education. But it is American in the 21st Century. And it is not pretty.

Friday, October 25, 2013

True Historic Preservation

A University of Detroit Communications professor has made a documentary about a dedicated group of Tiger Stadium fans who call themselves the Navin Field Grounds Crew. They have voluntarily kept up the basic integrity of the baseball diamond on the site where the stadium once stood. Jason Roche, the aforementioned professor, followed them about their labors and his film will debut tonight at the Detroit Historical Museum. Above all else, what does this about historic preservation?

It tells us that the best way to preserve anything is not to go around asking others to do it, but to get your hands dirty and do it yourself.

In this case, the Navin Field group have seen to themselves that a cherished piece of Detroit history is somehow kept alive. Sure, we know that Senator Carl Levin has some few million bucks pigeonholed in federal coffers for use in redeveloping the site somehow. But as that hasn't happened yet as it is increasingly unlikely that it will, regular citizens, the ones interested in baseball and baseball history, have gotten out to do what they can on their own.

They're doing a good job of it too. A drive past Michigan and Trumbull will show all that a nice green field, well kept, is in place for the enjoyment of all. There are impromptu ball games, and just friends and families having a catch, all the time there. Out of towners drop by just to see what remains of the history of the Corner. Even Lions fans coming downtown for football have been spotted checking out the grounds, remembering that football was once played there too.

It would seem that the people can be trusted to understand and respect history even when millionaires and Detroit politicians spit on it. That is, however, a tale for another day. We have seen real historic preservation, a real concern for our collective past, at work. It is a much more inspiring thing than what any government could do. And it hasn't cost the taxpayers a dime.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

The Death of Adrian Peterson's Son Speaks Ill of Society

Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson recently lost a son; that is unquestionably tragic, and Peterson has received many condolences over it. That's a good thing so far as it goes, and perhaps in that light it's too soon to reflect negatively upon the crisis. Still, there are certain things about the death which reflect ill of our society, and unfortunately Peterson is among the guilty for at least part of the neglect involved.

To be sure, he had nothing to do with the actual killing. And he has, since he found out about the child being his about three months ago, been trying to arrange a meeting with the young man. But has this raised any questions about personal responsibility for our own children to the degree that it should?

If he had not found out that the child was his son, there would have been no condolences. There would have been no talk from Peterson himself about being ready for his next big football game and playing through the pain, no trips to South Dakota for the funeral of a son he didn't really know. In short, the support he has gotten through the NFL and its fans was predicated on a rather tenuous connection: the slain toddler happened to have been found out as the child of a football star pretty much immediately before his death. Peterson had not even met him yet.

What we are getting at is simply that a certain irresponsibility has led to both the birth and death of this child. He was born of a mother and father who by all surface indications weren't properly committed to the child in the first place. That is the hidden tragedy of the whole situation, the part of the equation which will receive little public comment. If mom and dad had been in a committed relationship before the child had been conceived he might well be alive today.

That is the one sad part of the case which will not be considered properly. And beyond the child's biological parents, perhaps we as a society are guilty of something too: tolerating behaviors which lead to such terrible losses of life.

This was more than a murder. It was evidence of a general relaxation of personal morals tolerated by an increasingly hedonistic society. Its makes us wonder how many other innocent young men and women have paid the ultimate price for our sins.

Almost any football player will talk about how important discipline is when trying to win a game. How many of them, how many of us, truly consider how important discipline is to living a good life for ourselves and, indeed, for our children? Obviously not enough of us.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Big Brother in Washington

Why do people hate the GOP right now? The Republicans were only trying to undermine Obamacare with their recent escapades, something a majority of Americans agree with them about, yet the approval rating of Congress is lower than the President's (which itself is pretty low right now; low enough that if it were Bush Jr the media would be crowing about it but are strangely silent, things as they are). But it ultimately means little. 'People' may not like Republicans yet like their local representative. Wither consistency?

Ah, consistency. It is a trait sadly missing in this world. Don't bother about it being the 'hobgoblin' of small minds. As with so many other phrases, that is a misquote the same as another famous misquote, the one about money. Money isn't root of all evil: the love of it is. Likewise, not consistency as such but a foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of small minds.

Are sports worth the effort? Are they worth the emotional investment? Sure, they're fun to watch, and more fun to play. But intellectually, what do we really get out of them? Our old grandpappy used to say, 'So drop the ball; what does it matter anyway?', and he was right to say so. Athletics are distinctly overrated.

If we had our way with the world, and that is a thought which troubles us too, there would be a decided de-emphasis on sports. Sports are a useful sideline so far as recreation goes, and recreation is a good thing. Yet we can't get around our grandpappy's point; if an athlete drops a fly ball or a forward pass, yea even if he catches it, what real value is added to the world? None that we can see; nor is any value lost. Either way, it is high time we re-evaluated our attitude towards what are really only games.

On Obamacare again, why is it that our government believes that it has solved a great problem by merely ordering folks around? The logic behind it is asinine: many Americans don't have health insurance, so we'll order them to get it, and this is seen as 'problem solved'. Yet all it really means is that those who didn't have health insurance before because they couldn't afford it will still not be able to afford it and will now be taxed by the government for not having it. Does anyone else think this is profoundly stupid?

Ah, well. Life goes on...

Friday, October 18, 2013

Insulted at the Border

Border delays have become part of our lives since that infamous September day now sadly immoratlized as 9/11. We are also seeing a lot of analysis of the long term effect the wait times have upon ourselves and Canada, our nearest neighbor.

Border delays, while they seem to be lessening on the whole, are being both praised and despised. Many criminals are being caught, thanks to an increase in border guards and an increase in the technology which allows for more criminal activity to be caught. Yet American travel to Canada has dropped, as it is becoming more difficult for Americans to get back into their own country from our neighbor to the north.

This should be expected when law abiding American citizens are treated as criminals when all they are trying to do is get back home after visiting friends or taking what ought to be a simple day excursion into Windsor. They should not be subjected to the insulting types of questions they are asked, such as, "When was the last time you were in prison?" If the record shows no evidence of any given person's presumed incarceration, then Homeland Security has no right to ask it. If it has the right at all; aren't American citizens entitled to be in America regardless?

Even question such as, "How much money do you have on you?", are inherently insulting. "None of your business", which is the best and correct answer to that, would only delay a US citizen's return all the more. We have been told of a person who belonged to a Canadian curling club being asked, 'Why do you curl in Canada?' Because he wants to and is violating no laws or norms in so doing? The fact is that any questions beyond 'How long were you in Canada?' or 'Do you have anything to declare?' are out of bounds, unless the border guard has good reason to believe otherwise that you aren't who you say you are.

We have said it before, yet it remains true: if we have to change the way we live because of the terrorist threat, then the terrorists have won anyway and 9/11 has simply made us into a boot camp. Until law abiding Detroiters can cross reasonably freely into Canada, then maybe it's time to stop the War on Terror, because we've clearly lost it.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Obamacare Kills

What's this? Today's Detroit Free Press reports that 146,000 Michigan residents - and probably more, the article ominously states - will lose their cheap health care premiums due to Obamacare.

But, but, government sponsored health care is supposed to be good for everyone and make health care less expensive.

Well, that's health care based on what type of coverage you want. You know, you, the individual, the one who the government knows better how to care for than himself? Why should you not be penalized for being more willing to take care of yourself? Why should not be penalized because you are a low risk for serious illness? Why should you not be penalized for the mere willingness to see for yourself and your family?

Do you liberals really want to know why Republicans are trying to stop the ACA? It's imply because Obamacare is nothing save paternalistic, nanny care demagoguery. If you don't understand that now, well, perhaps you will on your deathbed.

Friday, October 11, 2013

A Guilty Conscience

A McDonald's cashier, Nancy Salgado, has had the wherewithal to chastise McDonald's CEO Jeff Stratton about the conditions of her employment. The single mother of two claims she can't feed her kids on the $8.25 an hour she makes at McDonald's after working there more than ten years.

We do not doubt that that is a struggle. But we are also going to admittedly be a bit snide and ask of her and her peers questions. We don't know her particular position but we believe that, if it is fair to chastise the morals of a big corporate honcho it is fair to question the morals of the accuser as well.

Under what conditions is she a single mother of two? Oh, that's none of our business? So, basically, she can live however she wants but the rest of us, all of us mean spirited CEOs and conservative Republicans, must help her help her kids? We aren't against that, of course, although we have and will be accused of it. But isn't it at least possible that there are people out there living any way they want and don't you dare tell us how to live our lives...but when how they live their life has become a struggle, and a struggle at least in part due to their own free will actions, we, the rest of society, must ante up. And we had not dare question them or their lifestyle choices.

Yes, we as a society must help her kids the best we can. Yet has anyone every considered that those kids might be hostages to a sublime form of blackmail? Has anyone ever considered that, while there is certainly a responsibility of the haves for the have nots, that the have nots still have responsibilities themselves?

We're just asking. But if corporate CEOs must defend themselves in the public arena, then surely all of our sins are subject to similar public debate. But trust us, that debate won't happen, at least within the mainstream media or among fast food union organizers.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Why Our Schools Don't Teach

Sixth graders in a school in Arkansas were given an assignment to revise the Bill of Rights as they have become outdated. You can read about the task here: http://www.infowars.com/sixth-grade-assignment-destroy-the-bill-of-rights/ if you like.

We chose not to read it, and for very good reasons. First and foremost, we can't possibly see how any such drivel could really pass for education. The typical sixth grader simply isn't going to have the wherewithal to discuss anything as important as human rights with any useful insight. This isn't to dismiss them as dumb. But it is to point out that they simply are not likely to have the academic background or real world experience to contribute anything significant to such debates. They're sixth graders, for crying out loud. They cannot as a group be taken as seriously as the actual authors of the Constitution could be.

Secondly, and we know this from experience with serious schoolteachers and not from the facilitators graduating from many teacher academies, assignments like this are not education. They're open ended bull sessions which are easy to grade. They make the job of the teacher and student easier. The former's job becomes less difficult while the latter receives an artificially good grade. After all, you might have to tell a student who misidentifies the Fourth Amendment that he's wrong and hurt his GPA and self esteem. How can you call his view (and almost assuredly a knee jerk and shallow view it will be) of a revised Bill of Rights wrong, especially once you've established that the current one is broke and needs his special expertise to fix? All you will get from such assignments will be arrogant and self satisfied students. And teachers.

We feel, or, better, we hope, that most adults would get this. Most adults, again, hopefully, will see it for the tripe it is. Yet even as we say that we fear we are wrong, because too many American adults these days came through similar schools and did similar work. It is small wonder Americans are behind many other nations in math and science and real knowledge. America doesn't respect such areas and it can through American teaching.

You'll notice we haven't even gotten into the philosophy behind such an assignment yet, either. We don't have to. There isn't a serious philosophy behind it. There is only the promotion of ego. Yet folks wonder why there is increasing disrespect for others in the United States today. It all begins with sixth graders who know how to run a country.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

A Month for Everyone

October is breast cancer awareness month. It is also anti-bullying month. It is as well Hispanic Heritage month and Italian Heritage month. It's even Gullah Geechee Cultural Heritage in the Carolinas and Georgia. There isn't a thing wrong with any of these things, of course. They're simply trying to draw attention to very important things. Yet as we strangle our calendars with months of this and months of that all in the name of calling attention to things, how long before everything becomes lost in an ever larger shuffle?

A cursory internet search will find that every month is a month for somebody, and the list offers everything from the sublime to the ridiculous. We find everything from National Fish Month to Political Correctness Awareness month. Thanks to our friends among the Wikipedia crowd, a quite certainly incomplete list can be found here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_commemorative_months .

There are some interesting ideas shared within given months; October further houses both National Work and Family and LGBT History month within its dates. We could go on and quibble about all this emphasis on all these things and about which do and do not merit accolades or jeers; perhaps another time. The main point here is that very soon no one may pay any heed to these causes.

Remember the yellow ribbon faze? It launched ribbon after ribbon in myriad color and design schemes, all meant to make folks sit up and take notice of whatever the promoters had in mind. Does anyone notice those ribbons anymore? Surely not. The market gets saturated and even the most noble ideas become lost in the assault of metallic car emblems in ribbon shapes.

Will anything matter once everything matters? That's the worry we should have should we continue in the direction we tread. When we attach importance to all things great and small, don't we risk minimizing the really critical issues? Short of that, at the very least we ought to agree that we can live without Smart Irrigation Month.

That's July, by the way, if we can trust Wikipedia's editors.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Culture and the Poor and the Socialists

Some things make you laugh out loud the instant you read or hear them. One simply can't help the eruption of rowdy and uncontrolled guffaws which come from wherever deep inside of you. We had that experience this morning when reading online about protestors railing against the Detroit Institute of Arts possibly having to sell off some of its memorabilia in order to satisfy Detroit's debts. The protest was organized by the Socialist Equality Party.

You laughing uproariously too, aren't you? We're still giggling as we type this. We may be wrong, yes, we'll admit, as we never really delved that far into socialist theology (yes, we use the word theology purposely). But the idea that socialism would actually care about art objects which have generally been created for the haves rather than the have nots of society, well, if these aren't folks simply playing to what they perceive to be the grandstand solely for the sake of generating publicity for themselves...you see the joke.

Culture is a social right, they say. Yes, we're quite sure that younger workers on ramen noodle diets think deeply of culture as they are trying to move up the economic ladder. We're sure the poor single mother trying to nurse her sick child feels that trip to the DIA would cure him. Quite frankly, if socialists think at all about art and culture then Vonnegut is likely more right than the Socialist Equality Party. Bring on Harrison Bergeron!

We're not mocking struggling young people or single parents or anyone whom socialism has traditionally sought to defend. We're just pointing out that they almost certainly care more about their immediate needs far more than about bourgeois banalities such as artifacts stored away from the public anyway (as are the bulk of the DIA's collections). Yet even beyond that, even before we consider as a body politic whether we should maintain large collections of what other people call art (for much of what passes for art these days is not), to see socialists defending what has generally been seen as an upper class fancy is, well...

Sorry, we couldn't finish that last paragraph because we're snickering again.

Saturday, October 5, 2013

South Carolina right to criminalize Obamacare

You've all heard of South Carolina, haven't you? It's that quaint little state jigsaw pieced between Georgia and North Carolina, home of Myrtle Beach, Parris Island, and some great golf. It also has an interesting history within the sphere of state and federal relations in our nation.

In 1832 South Carolina threatened to secede because of the so-called Tariff of Abominations which the Congress had passed. The tariff was liked by many northern states because it was designed to protect its industry but hated in the south because it increased the prices of goods it wanted. This led to the Nullification Crisis, where South Carolina went so far as to declare the tariff null and void, as it was unconstitutional. Under the threat of military action against her because of this, South Carolina backed down.

Fast forward to 1860. Abraham Lincoln is elected President, and the south expects that he will do all he can to stop the practice of slavery. Many southern states left the Union, of course. The first to go was South Carolina.

This is not to defend South Carolina in these cases. Slavery was wrong and should have been illegal; arguably it is not wise to go to war against your own government simply over a tax, the American Revolution notwithstanding (and which was about much more than forms of taxation anyway). But it is to point out that when Washington has overextended itself South Carolina has been at the forefront of those challenging federal authority at least twice in our history.

Now the South Carolina House has passed a bill which would outlaw the implementation of Obamacare. The proposed law, the Freedom of Health Care Protection Act, declares Obamacare 'null and void' and would criminally prosecute anyone who attempts to enforce the measure there. Yet unlike the other two instances in which the Palmetto State, South Carolina is quite correct on this one. Obamacare is an offensive intrusion into the lives of the American people, and it is becoming increasingly apparent that only the will of the American people can force President Barack Obama and the behemoth that Washington has become to back down. We must force a Constitutional crisis on the issue.

To that point, what is there to say to South Carolina today?

Third time's a charm.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

The Pope Should Measure His Words more Carefully

We are trying very sincerely to understand and appreciate Pope Francis. He has said many things which have caused conservatives to wince. That's really okay; once you begin to think that you're 'all that' you might also fail to fully adhere to God's will and God's call. You may find yourself not being merciful and compassionate. Even when mercy and compassion may not seem, on the surface, to be merited, well, is that the point? We ought to be merciful and compassionate anyway, even when the objects of those noble virtues by their own actions reject them. Further, we ought to be humble even within what is right and just, for such are not right and just by our decree but by the will of God. The truth is what the truth is; we are not lords of the truth, only guardians of it.

We can accept also that God loves everyone, and so too we should love everyone. We must love even those who willfully and arrogantly do wrong yet assert it is right. We do ourselves at times. Maybe ours are not, indeed they certainly are not, their sins. But we must take care that we are not even inadvertently substituting the shame of our sins with any inordinate disdain for the sins of others. At some point we must realize that St. Peter will not be asking us about what others did in their lives but about what we did with ours. This is most certainly not to say that we ought not work against the ills of the broader society despite our own illness. Love, mercy, and compassion do not and cannot mean that we should not speak and act against a recognition of gay marriage in our nation. They simply mean that we should not demonize the person when condemning the action. It is a tightrope; it is, as the old philosophy teacher said, splitting hairs. Sometimes we must split them, and very finely.

But this latest interview, between the Holy Father and Eugenio Scalfari of La Repubblica, an atheist writer and editor, has us wondering whether Pope Francis needs to be more considerate of his words than he has been. It runs from the sublime to the ridiculous, and seems to us somewhat disjointed and, perhaps, confused.

The Pope says that 'The most serious of the evils that afflict the world these days are youth unemployment and the loneliness of the old.' With all due respect to His Holiness, and we hold the Chair if St. Peter and Francis himself in high esteem, we have a difficult time accepting these as the most serious issues we face today. To be sure, we want young people to have hope in tomorrow and we ought to venerate senior citizens. But the worst? Even arguing, and we are extrapolating here and not meaning to put words in anyone's mouths (especially the Holy Father's) that evils such as abortion and euthanasia arise from such issues, surely an actual abortion and the culture of abortion do not come solely from youth unemployment, do they? It just sounds as though the Holy Father was being flippant, a little too off the cuff; we hate to say it, but such blithe comments seem shallow. They seem to relegate the great issues of our times, indeed of all times, to the level of the catchphrase. Make people happy and evil will go away. We're not convinced that saving the world is all that easily done.

Pope Francis later asserts, “Proselytism is solemn nonsense, it makes no sense. We need to get to know each other, listen to each other and improve our knowledge of the world around us." To the latter point, yes, we need to listen. But we need to listen so that we can understand people and help them, not because their view may be right. To cut to the chase, if we as Catholics don't want to convert others to our Faith, what does it say of our faith? If he means that we ought not hit people over the head about it but prayerfully explain and cajole folks towards the truth of the Church, okay. But he should say that. As it is, he sounded very relativistic even as he explained his point (the interview can be found here: http://www.repubblica.it/cultura/2013/10/01/news/pope_s_conversation_with_scalfari_english-67643118/ ), and relativism works against everything the Church supports.

This is especially disconcerting when the Holy Father says “Each of us has a vision of good and of evil. We have to encourage people to move towards what they think is Good. … Everyone has his own idea of good and evil and must choose to follow the good and fight evil as he conceives them. That would be enough to make the world a better place.” Will it? There is simply no way to ask that question except boldly and bluntly: will it? We hope to find out that the Holy Father was taken out of context. We will let you know if we do.

We are only addressing certain parts of the interview. There are points where the Holy Father says very important things very well, and we encourage everyone to read the entire article for the sake of that. Not everyone, and especially not those who only want to hear what they want to hear of Pope Francis, will do that. The trouble is, it is those people who will make of the Pope's words more than there is to make, and for their own selfish purposes.

This is a man we must respect. This is a man chosen by God to be where he is because we need him right now, for whatever reasons God wills. Yet we have the right to question even the Pope so long as we do so charitably and in search of explanation and guidance rather than to chastise him. On the surface, we feel that the Holy Father must learn to choose his words more carefully. The world will not be so considerate of the big picture as he is apparently attempting to be. That will only work against him, and his work, in the long run.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Obamacre's Shocking Debut

The Michigan Health Insurance Marketplace, Michigan's first step in the Obamacare revolution, fizzled yesterday. There were all sorts of problems with error messages and glitches. People simply could not access the site, nor could they in most every other state in the Union. The program had a rather inauspicious start, to say the least. One wonders if it is little more than a sign of things to come.

Yes, there was a lot of demand, and heavy traffic flow affects websites. But if government is supposed to be the answer, being made up of all those experts who know what's best for us, wouldn't they have anticipated such an obvious potential problem? Doesn't everyone know that high volume affects serves and such? And high volume should have been expected, seeing as everyone who relies on government wants to have their piece of the pie.

Yet the government wasn't ready for it.

And you think it will be able to give you access to quality healthcare at good prices? Let's say we're skeptical.

Monday, September 30, 2013

The Devil's in the Details

Back in the 1970s and 1980s there was a wonderful Professor of Philosophy at the University of Detroit named Dr. Carlo Grassi. He was one of those teachers who made you want to learn simply by his own excitement about the subject. Perhaps that is why we think of him now; but that is also a point for another time. Right now we want to consider one question which he frequently asked. He didn't really ask it in search of an answer; it was a question meant to provoke thought. And that it did quite well. The question was: as government takes over more and more charitable works and taxes us to pay for them, how responsible does that leave the person for being charitable?

The most obvious inference, and one he readily conceded, is that it lessens the person's obligation to help others. We're biased, perhaps, but we agree with that. The next question becomes, is that a good thing?

Do we really care for people when we ask (and increasingly demand) that someone else, not me, of course, but, in this case, the government, do what we ought to do ourselves? What kind of person will that make us? Will we become more considerate, more, ahem, charitable, in our dealings? Our will we become less truly concerned with others, because someone else should deal with them, another obvious inference in demanding government aid to whomever? Or worse, will we become actually more intolerant of them?

In that last point we can see why the left, who wants more government and less individual responsibility for caring for others, wants to limit trans fats and soda consumption. Now that their ally, the government, is paying for so many things and their taxes are footing the bill, then they have the right to monitor what people eat and drink. In short, in the name of helping the people, they begin to despise and terrorize them in the minutiae of their acts.

This is not to say that all government charitable works are evil. But it is to say that the devil's in the details. Do we like the details when governments being to assert that abortion is okay but you better not let yer kid have a 20 ounce Coke? Should we like them?

The devil is in the details. Chew on that for awhile, and then let's have a serious discussion about charity.

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Dam the War of 1812 and Obamacare

Today the Detroit Historical Museum celebrates, if that's the right word, the day the British left Detroit during the War of 1812. Two hundred years ago today British forces left Detroit and have never returned. It seems that Fort Wayne did its job rather well.

The Detroit Free Press reports this morning that many of Michigan's dams are in need of replacement or repair, having approached the ends of the their useful lives. In the next decade or so, about 9 of 10 dams will be beyond their designed engineering expectation. But what's the real trouble here?

Lack of money. Why is that so? There are surely many reasons which those politically concerned would cite, yet one reason which likely trumps all other objections and because of that it will not be cited. Simply put, if the state government would get out of funding things which it should not, there might actually be money for the general interest. The general interest is the forgotten idea that what the government does ought to be helpful to all of society in general. Don't bother about that, though, You'll only hear it here.

Will it or won't it? Will Obamacare be funded this year or next? Will a government shutdown doom us all?

To that last question, probably not. Most of us probably won't even notice any effect. But we like the idea of delaying the implementation of Obamacare for a year. Have it go into effect right before the 2014 biennial elections. That would be the ideal time to see what the people really think about it. Hey, if it's good for the people, they'll support it at the ballot box, right?

We believe that the Democrats don't want that, and exactly because of the fear of repercussion. If it goes into effect Tuesday as planned, a whole year will pass before the election, and opposition will wane as time has its effect. The electorate doesn't mind new things once its become accustomed to them. The left and the Democrats are banking on that.

So long for now.

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Are Liberals Out to Control Us?

As conservatives, we are often accused of trying to run everyone's lives. We quibble with that presumption. To be sure, there are aspects of conservatism which may well seem to dictate to people; abortion and same sex marriage come to mind. But do conservatives try to run the lives of the others so much as their friends on the left do?

We ask: who is telling you how much soda you can drink? Who is on the march against trans fat? Who is telling you that you must get health care insurance? Who is telling you what days you may cut your grass or gas up your car? Who wants you to take the bus rather than drive your own car? Who asserts that the environment is more important than the person? One answer to these and a great many other questions is this: it ain't conservatives.

Yes, the few issues through which the right does try to dictate terms are big ones. Yet they aren't actually about control. They're about preserving the dignity of the person in very important areas, areas which would help to make a better society. What dignity for the person is there within the nanny state?

The government is not our mother. Conservatives know that. Liberals don't. And that may well be the key difference between those broad groups.

Friday, September 27, 2013

Michigan Senate should resist Common Core

The Michigan House has approved the Common Core State Standards for education, as have 43 other states. But as is also happening in several other states as well, the Michigan Legislature is sowing seeds of revolt against them, asserting that the CCSS are little more than another intrusion by the federal government into state areas. Education has traditionally been a local rather than national issue in these United States.

But dare we ask: what's wrong with national standards in education? Surely math is math and science is science; history and literature do not vary, do they?

Not as such, perhaps. But indeed there is some variance: which history do we teach, and whose literature do we read seem valid questions. Still, there are core values beneath them. History teaches us cause and effect no matter which history we deign to enlighten students with, and good literature inspires in myriad ways no matter the source material. Even in the hard sciences and mathematics, it isn't necessary to teach everyone with the exact same problems and questions, is it, so long as the principles involved are understood?

Yet is that the issue? Truth is truth no matter the font from which it springs. But who controls, or ought to control, the flow of information? Does that matter?

Of course it does. Truths from a parent matter more to a child than those from a teacher; truths from afar less than truths from a neighbor. The source is important. Even if the essential truth is the same.

The Michigan Legislature ought to resist the Common Core initiative. Not because it may be all that wrong in content; it probably isn't terribly bad for our kids in that sense. It ought to resist it because it does, or attempts to do, exactly what the state legislature fears. It takes learning away from the near and dear and thrusts it into the abyss of the all knowing yet shimmering mass of the far off. It makes education something from on high rather than from the personal and intimate.

Education should be personal and intimate. After all, it's meant for the person, isn't it?

Saturday, September 21, 2013

The GOP Stands on Valid Principle on Obamacare

The Republicans in the House of Representatives have voted for, what, the 42nd time, to defund the 'Affordable Care Act', which is popularly known as Obamacare. Only this time, they've tied the vote into a demand that would cause the government to default on its loan obligations unless the defunding is sustained. There are a lot of people out there who call this stupid.

We prefer to call it principled.

Isn't this what we want from our leaders, to stand on and fight for principles? Is it not regularly lamented throughout the land that what we need are leaders who lead, who believe in certain things and work towards them, yet we do not get such leaders? Well, the House GOP has elected to stand on principle and has the support of an awful lot of Americans behind them to boot. That strikes us as the ideal confluence of political will and popular support. What's not to like?

Granted the President and Nancy Pelosi don't like it. But you will notice that they don't like it for very partisan reasons: it threatens to gore their ox. All the while they too will assert they are standing on principle. If they are, well, then, wouldn't we have two groups dedicated to principle? If fighting for what you believe in is a principle worth defense, then we have it on both sides now. Isn't that good?

Not particularly. What we have here is yet another in that series of shallow words and shallow thought. People believe we ought to stand on principle. Unfortunately this isn't any different than being for education, peace, or freedom. Without asking all the corollary questions, what principles, why, how do we enforce them, and so on and so forth, we are asking for we don't know what. And all that that will get us is we don't know what.

Naturally, we support the GOP here because their principles are more sound. The federal government should not be in the health care business, the Supreme Court be damned. Yet it is interesting to see how President Obama and former Speaker Pelosi react when they don't like when folks stand on principles contrary to theirs.

Friday, September 20, 2013

Pope Francis is still Catholic

If you believe the mainstream media, the Catholic Church finally has a Pope who is living in, well, at least the 20th Century if not quite the 21st. After all, in an interview which took place in August 2013, Pope Francis has said that divorce and remarriage is okay, that gay marriage is okay, that abortion is okay, and maybe even that the Houston Astros will be the surprise winners of this year's World Series.

The only trouble is he didn't say those things. He said, in a nutshell, that God loves everyone. He did not say that practicing homosexuals were all right in their behavior; he did not say that abortion was okay. In fact, he said that Church teaching was 'clear' on these and other things. He says that we must preach salvation first, as a start, not as a recognition of rights which do not exist or of sins which are not sinful. We must preach love first. We must get folks in the door first.

He calls the Church a 'triage' unit: as the sick go to hospitals, the spiritually sick go to Church for the Church's help and guidance. The obvious inference, especially in reading the whole article and reflecting on the Pope's digression about the a hypothetical repentant woman who had had an abortion, is that the Church must be open to active homosexuals not on their merit or the merit of their actions, but so that She can help them. It's really no different than Christ's remark that he came for the sinners and not for the healthy. So gay rights, abortion, divorce, and women's ordination are not on the table. There is no rational inferring that through this interview, found in full here: http://www.americamagazine.org/pope-interview

That the Church must be open to everyone is nothing new. If the door is eternally shut for those who at any given time are outside of the grace of God, then She cannot be of service. Note, however, that an open door doesn't mean that everyone will enter or that anyone must enter. It only means that access to the Church must be available to all who want access and that an open door requires courtesy and charity so far as they can be had. If she does not clearly and unequivocally have such open doors, She fails Her mission.

The tale of the prodigal son comes to mind. His father gave him everything, yet the boy squandered it. Yet when he came to his senses and saw the error of his ways, his father welcomed him back. What kind of father would not, if he is any decent sort? Likewise, repentant sinners today ought to be welcomed back.

It strikes us that what the Pope is doing too is reminding us that there are other sins in the world which also require attention and instruction. This is something which, perhaps, the conservatives within the Church need to hear. But such is not to say that we must drop our concerns about gay marriage and abortion, but only to remember that there are other evils in the world. It would be nice to hear a similar paternal chastisement of the liberal churchgoers who think that the only sins out there are hunger, racism, sexism, or the improper exploitation of the environment. Still, not every word from the Pontiff's mouth must cover every issue. If today Pope Francis is gently chiding the right wing (and don't bother about him not considering himself right wing; he should not, nor left wing either) because he feels the need, then our job is to reflect upon his cautions. Be fair: we can be overzealous, friends.

Remember as well that in this same interview he laments the prospect of an unrestrained populism. “And, of course, we must be very careful not to think that this infallibilitas (infallibility of the Church in belief) of all the faithful I am talking about in the light of Vatican II is a form of populism," the Pope says. To wit, the eternal ideals which the Church defends are eternal; there is no going back on them by way of whatever the currently fashionable thought may be.

Pope Francis reminds us that every human life has tremendous value. It is that value which the Church recognizes and wishes to both preserve and increase within the person. If a person squanders his life, if he does not accept the grace of God through the Church instituted for him, well, that's on that guy. Yet if he squanders in part because he does not find a loving Church who really has his best interests in mind, then we are answerable to God ourselves at least so far as that goes. We must love even when it is not returned; we must love even when our motives are questioned and the world frowns upon us. God Himself loves even the souls in Hell. Why ought we not show love to those souls around us?