Wednesday, December 31, 2014

2014: relatively uneventful

So this is the day where we're supposed to think about the rest of the year, in anticipation of taking the the time tomorrow (sometimes we simply love alliteration) to determiner what we should do in the next. The Year of Our Lord 2014 is slipping away. His Year of 2015 beckons.

Well, what of 2014? For some reason this morning there doesn't seem to have been much which sticks to our mind. It was the year of at least an increased attention to police shootings and other actions, for most of which the officers involved were exonerated. All the whole, this is right and just quite frankly. Generally speaking, when there is a case of the cops against any given assailant, back the cops. It's safe to say that in the vast majority of police-citizen disputes the police and not the perps are in the right. When you invite trouble you simply must not be shocked, nor seriously attempt to insist injustice towards you, when you get it.

We saw this past November a striking rebuke of the President and the Democrats. We always said that it's the liberals and not the conservatives who are the real controllers and that Obamacare is a perfect example of that. Outside of a relative handful of issues it's the leftists who want to boss you around. Ban trans fats and sugared soft drinks. Reign in urban sprawl and encourage public transportation. No oil pipelines and ozone actions days. This is the Democrats rtalking, not the GOP. The November elections were probably the highlight of 2014.

There was a big soccer tournament in Brazil and everyone seemed to care, even the United States. Or did it? We're not really sure. We think it may have only been the fawning over the game or sense of event which made it seem that way, not unlike what it does with our Super Bowl. Nobody cares that much a bout a single game, folks. Most just want the party. There's nothing wrong with that per se of course. But let's call such what they are: reasons to party more than deep felt support for a game or series of games.

You can peruse lists such as this one: http://kfor.com/2014/12/11/2014-in-review-fast-facts/ if you really want to think more about what we may have missed in 2014. Have at it. We just don't think that 2014 was all that, at least not all that enough to write anymore than what we today have. We now switch gears and look forward to 2015. We might as well. 2014 wasn't much to write home about anyway.

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Garner Responsible for his Death

High School teams in California have been asked to not participate in a regional basketball tournament if they insisted on wearing "I can't breathe" T-shirts. The shirts have been worn by several well know athletes and are in support of Eric Garner, who died after being in a choke hold while resisting arrest at the hands of New York City police.

We're getting just a little tired of all the liberal/libertarian knee jerk support for people who are less than exemplary citizens. While we concede that what Garner was doing did not merit death, and indeed we're not sure that it even merited police attention even though against the law (surely there are worse things happening in New York than selling cigarettes illegally) Garner still holds at least a significant part of the blame for his own death. In poor health, his actions surely contributed to his death perhaps more than police actions may have. And the facts still remain that if he had not resisted arrest or been selling the Satan sticks illegally he would almost certainly be alive today.

This opinion does not absolve the police of what responsibility they may hold. Nor does it mean to assuage concerns about general police overreach or overreaction. We think these are issues which deserve attention. But we also think that no less true than at any other time in our history. We must always be concerned with authority using its power beyond reason. Yet such worries cannot mean that we have writ to excuse the actions of those the police confront either. Police are human beings who will make mistakes, and who will sometimes do stupid things.

Yet so are all the rest of us. What Eric Garner did was stupid, especially given that he knew his health was poor and that he was breaking the law (we can argue that it was a bad law, yet that is essentially a separate question). We cannot serve the more noble cause of justice by making a catchphrase of a plea which was clearly false anyway (he could not have said I can't breathe if he wasn't breathing) on the part of someone resisting arrest when, for his own sake if nothing else, he should have know better than to do.

We will be accused of it, so we'll emphasize once more that we agree that police abuse of authority must be taken seriously and dealt with with justice. But we wish to remind others that few issues are so cut and dry as to be wholly the fault of one side over the other. We don't doubt that the officer involved with Eric Garner did not wish to see him die. Yet Eric Garner did wish to openly break a law and cause a scene. That could be the most important difference between the two.

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Free Markets Imperfect

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 21, 2014

Secular Bullies

There is a small town in Ohio which we will not name because it would be like calling the dogs out upon it. But it exists, and is a neat little town. The streets are clean and the Christmas decor adorn 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. Indeed, a Muslim family passing by on mere happenstance pulled their car to a screeching halt, sprung from it and ran right up to the greeting. They fell on their knees mindless of the snow, making the Sign of the Cross and chanting the Our Father, having fully converted to Christianity at the sight of such a goodwill wish. 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 of the serious atheist to cause their conversion. The very idea is completely irrational if not outright comical. 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 even in so benign a manner.

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 even on 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.

Friday, December 19, 2014

What is the cost of peace?

We routinely hear people remark that they are against war, all war; indeed that they oppose any kind of violence at all. They are for peace. Peace solves everything.

W beg to differ. It is a wholly untenable position to hold. Would no sane man or woman knock a criminal on the head with a rock if it meant the saving of lives? Would no country with any claim to a good moral standing not go to war to prevent a tyrant's rule? While violence and war must always be a last resort, it is, sadly, almost exclusively by violence and war that evil is kept in check. It is generally the threat and use of force which keeps people in line. For people will do bad things if they think they can get away with them, and will do so often enough despite the chance of violence against them hanging over their heads. If we approach them with no intention of eventually having to aggressively force them into right behaviors if need be, and they know that, we will soon enough have no stable society worth our participation. We surely will not have peace.

Peace did not end the Holocaust or drive Hitler from power.

Peace did not bring about the end of slavery in the United States.

Peace does not apprehend criminals nor rehabilitate them.

Peace only works among the peace loving. It almost never will turn the heads of those who hate for the sake of hatred, no matter what the treacly entreaties of the peaceniks assert.

Seeing as we live in an imperfect world, one which, quite frankly, shall never be perfect without divine intervention, the price of peace must ultimately be anarchy. At that point, will the Department of Peace flower, or simply become a seed crushed against the ground and bake, exposed, in the sun?

The cost of war is, needless to say, grim. But from the greatest human costs come the greatest things, if properly driven, and without any loss of human dignity. Indeed, I rather believe that our dignity is enhanced when we stand for the greatest things. We stand for nothing when we stand for what will not work.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Conte drops the ball

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.

His words came to mind after recent comments by Chicago Bears safety Chris Conte, saying that playing in the National Football League is worth losing 10 to 15 years of his life, even at the cost of injuries (including two concussions he has suffered this year alone) which will possibly haunt him in his older days. Yep, it sure looks like he views sports in the right light.

So let's ask Joe's question again: 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? Or in Conte's case, so what if you miss the tackle or have a potential interception bounce off your hands?

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 of value or virtue, what the outcome of the game or match 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 concerns about relaxation are 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, physically adversarial position. Indeed, arguably, such can't teach respect but rather the other side of respect: the idea that I'm better than you. I'll knock you on your tail because I can (we can't say must, because no one has that right inherently). Such extreme competitiveness cannot truly teach anything useful. It more likely only encourages 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. We're aren't saying don't do your best when you play them. 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 and everyone simply shrugs and says, oh well. Until then, we will not have learned a thing about the real value of any given game.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Don't simply agree to disagree

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

We should, of course, strive to get along with everyone we meet no matter where we find ourselves on the issues. We should do all that's reasonable to get along with others even when significant differences are involved, so long as the debate is kept civil. We even recognize that for the survival of the nation we might have to tolerate certain evils, because we would have no say over them anyway from the outside or in anarchy. But as to agreeing to disagree? That is simply a tool which the left uses in an attempt to shut the right up, because on the major issues with which we disagree, quite often the laws and society are already on their side. It is easy to say let's just agree to disagree when you have what you want in place.

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

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

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Teachers not Teaching

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

Cooperative Learning.

This is a fancy name for group work. The kids are assembled together in small groups to do a project, often made up of smarter students along with, ah, challenged learners, and the magic happens. Everyone learns and everyone's happy.

Except that those of us who remember such group work projects remember well that that ain't the way it happens. The smarter ones drag along the rest, and the rest appreciate that they don't have to work as hard while earning (yeah, right) a better grade at our cost.

But wait! The education elite have discovered a way around that. Simply assign segments of the project to individuals within the group.

But how does that help? If it really does anything at all, it means that the better students risk not knowing the object of the project (sorry, silly Suessian slip of the tongue) in its entirety because some parts of it aren't their responsibility. Besides, hasn't that made the project individual rather than group anyway? Why bother then?

To cut straight to the chase, why is it that we expect students who presumably don't know anything about something to be able to master it on their own especially (as is often the case) when working with other students who don't care as much as they do? Why is a teacher present anyway if the pupils, or some of them, that is, are expected to do their job? Further, how much time is wasted on these projects? How much more material could be covered, and how much deeper would the understanding and appreciation of a subject be, with a traditional pedagogue at the front of a classroom keeping things moving?

The entire idea of group work is patently ridiculous. It eases the teacher's job more than anything else by blowing it off on twelve year olds. All that can do is inspire them to become teachers, where they can collect a paycheck at others' expense. All the while, we wonder where America's work ethic has gone.

It has done nothing but follow its teachers.

Saturday, December 6, 2014

The Presumption of Innocence

Rolling Stone magazine has issued an apology of sorts to a fraternity at the University of Virginia after printing a story about an alleged rape at their house on campus. A young woman whose identity was hidden openly accused by name the Phi Kappa Psi and several of its members of the school chapter of raping her as part of an initiation ritual, a charge the frat denies and for which there appears credible evidence in its support. In the meantime, the University has cancelled all fraternity activities until January 15, 2015 as it investigates what now look like fraudulent accusations.

That this is shoddy reporting is the least of the matter. So a few questions to the accused were not thought important; why should that get in the way of a good story? But the real sin here is the presumption of guilt. Why should we presume that a rape charge is true simply because it has been leveled?

Rape is a heinous, unspeakably terrible thing which no woman should be subjected to. Yet isn't the converse equally true, that the charge of rape, the crime being so disgusting, ought not be tossed around lightly? A woman who is raped has had her very life torn asunder. But has not a man's life when unfairly accused been ripped apart as well?

It is interesting that there are issues where we are supposed to assume that the mere charge means guilt. Sexism and racism appear to be two such questions. Michael Brown and Eric Garner? Institutional racism of course. A young woman cries rape to a Rolling Stone reporter three years after the supposed incident? The frat is obviously guilty. Bill Cosby accused of rape thirty years after the supposed fact? He's shunned by the entertainment world without further consideration. All this belittles the victims of real rape and actual racism, and serves only to fuel the fires of those who doubt such evils actually exist. And this all comes before the fact that we're supposed to presume innocence. Because a young woman said she was raped, then she was raped. No trial necessary.

We cannot imagine the horror which a rape victim suffers. But a worse horror may be the false accusation with an underlying presumption of guilt. All that serves to do is create a culture of distrust and fear. It is the same threat upon which the old witch trials were based, and equally tyrannical for the all. Especially for the ones who are actual victims of actual crimes.

Friday, December 5, 2014

We Don't Need A College Football Championship

Oh boy oh boy oh boy! Beginning with the Big Ten Championship game tonight, and rolling through the various other conference championships to be played this weekend which then culminate in a select group picking which four teams will play for the National Championship means a big weekend of college football. Sounds exciting, doesn't it? Yet we have just one little question about all the whistles and bows.

Why must we have a national college football champion at all?

It isn't as though championship games and playoffs aren't inherently flawed. At the highest levels of play any team could beat any other team in any given game. If Missouri beat Alabama in the SEC or Wisconsin upends Ohio State in the Big Ten, that doesn't mean that Missouri or the Badgers are better teams. It just means they won at the right time. And the same can be said about the winner of a four team runoff for what would actually be an engineered national championship, because not all teams which have a decent chance of winning it will be involved. Why? Because non players will choose who plays for the mythical ring.

That's not even an honest tournament, quite frankly. But do tournaments even give us an idea of the best team in a given year? Not as a matter of course. The best team might win, but quite often do not. And it's really kind of of a cheat, isn't it, to make teams plays long schedules only to say: what you did in the long haul matters not. To be vaunted you must win this one special game, special only because the powers that be say so.

What does a single game mean anyway? If the team which should win does, then accolades are shallow because that team should have won. If the underdog wins, they arguably were no more than lucky to have played well at the right time. That's hardly championship quality, and not at all really sportsmanlike.

The best team in a given season with most any sport is the team with the best record at the end of the regular season. With sports as far flung as college football, three playoff games mean little except to the monied types, schools and television networks who like the hoopla because of the cash flow. Because, let's face it: the new national championship won't necessarily crown a real champ. But it will certainly drive beer and pizza sales, and that's all that really matters, isn't it?

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Wither Responsibility?

The great current debate over the amount of institutionalized racism we may or may not have is intriguing. We don't doubt that there are racists and that that will at times influence the decision making process adversely. We see that argument applied to the Michael Brown case and others involving individuals and the police. The point is worth considering, and indeed commands consideration: if a broad societal influence is adversely affecting justice, the issue must be addressed as a matter of justice itself. Yet the question remains: how much injustice is the fault of society, and how much of the individual?

At the risk of oversimplification, the trouble here is that too many folks insist on grand background theories which purport to explain everything while actions themselves are essentially individual. This doesn't mean that the twain shall never meet, nor that we should not examine the big picture. Surely a root cause of crime is poverty, for example, and we should strive to eliminate it. Yet poverty can never excuse crime; a mitigating factor no matter how relevant can rarely fully absolve an individual of responsibility for his acts. At the end of the day, if we truly believe in individual freedom and responsibility (indeed of the dignity of the individual), then we have to be careful about blaming society more so than the person when the person does something wrong.

When all is said and done, what we are left with as each individual action occurs is little but to study that action on its merits or lack thereof and go from there. As to the institutionalized questions which may lie nearby, whether racism, poverty or the like, the best we can do is discuss them freely, openly, and without rancor, and as such work towards freeing the individual mind from biases (on either side of the divide) which hurt rather than help human understanding and the search for justice. If talking about the underlying issues which may or may not lurk beneath the Michael Brown tragedy will help us prevent similar problems in the future, then let's talk about them. Yet they cannot, no matter how deep one may feel they may run, absolve Mr. Brown of his own ill thought out actions.

That's the bottom as we see it. We truly hope it helps rather the hurt the ongoing debate over society, the person, justice, and freedom.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Hands up, Don't shoot an ineffective racism fighter

Hands up, don't shoot, has become a catchphrase now to the point of distraction. The trouble is that it's an attempt to make a statement about something which belittles the very cause it portends to support.

That there are longstanding troubles between police and black communities is almost without question. The causes are myriad, and we don't know what to make of them. We're skeptical of the blanket charge of institutionalized racism (by all the evidence it really doesn't apply with the Michael Brown case except to left libertarian zealots) but are not so naive as to think racism has been eradicated in these United States (or anywhere else for that matter) and neither so naive as to believe it can't in fact be institutionalized. Sometimes police forces and government agencies fail to represent the community but for reasons which aren't racially motivated in any direct sense. Some cities such as Highland Park, Michigan here locally saw the makeup of the communities change so relatively quickly that, due to public service contracts and such, there was no way that the makeup of their police, fire, and civil service workers could have been expected to keep up with the demographic changes. If those changes were racial, and it seems unlikely that they weren't, then at least the charge of racism wouldn't necessarily reflect upon government structure or policies. Still, to where racism borne both of individuals or civil units exist, we must all strive to reign it in.

But that cannot be done successfully if a less than sympathetic character should become the symbol of the movement.

Like it or not, the Grand Jury looking into the issue has made up its mind, and the decision is in favor of Darren Wilson and the Ferguson Police. There is little compelling evidence that Brown acted properly within his rights, and no obvious reason to cry racism over the troubles. As such, raising the banner of 'hands up, don't shoot' to fight racism must be seen more as a group seeking a cause rather than as a group of concerned citizens who desire justice. They will be dismissed as extremists who see racism everywhere, as they should.

What we need in America today is a mentality which wants justice for everyone, not any one group. This means studying the issues with a blind eye which, should it see racism, call it out. But should it it see simple and offensive criminal acts, call them out too. Without that as our guideline we will have little but mob rule. And we should not want to be ruled by either the pro or anti Michael Brown rabble.

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Them Southern Gals

We recently had a serious health issue with mom. She was suffering fainting spells and eventually ended up with a pacemaker, but is doing well now. That allows me to view the incident with a bit more humor today, because, as with much of life, there is humor even in distress. Especially when the distress has passed.

While at work one day my phone rings, and I saw it was mom. I knew it because our phones tell us everything today, so as I took it out of my pocket the words 'incoming call Mom' stared back at me. "Hi Mom, what's up?"

I didn't like the uncertainty immediately obvious in her voice. "Do you have my doctor's phone number?"

"Yeah, somewhere, why?"

"Well, I blacked out and fell and hit my head..." I interrupted her to say, "I'm closing, ma, and I'm taking take you to Emergency."

"I'd rather you call the doctor to see what he says."

I replied tensely, "He's gonna say take you to Emergency."

"I'd feel better if you'd call him." So, not to make her any more upset, I said I would and then call her right back. The doctor, of course, though very nice about it, made it quite clear that I should not be speaking to him but rushing her to the hospital instead. I called her and said I would be at her house right away.

As I had a key, I let myself in. Mother was not to be found, until I noticed her bathroom door shut. I knocked frantically and said, "I'm here, ma, let's go."

"In a minute. I'm brushing my hair and fixing my lipstick."

"We're going to Emergency, not a wedding reception." I barked in dismay. "They're not going to say, 'oh, don't treat Mrs. Cosgriff, her hair's mussed' Let's go!"

"I'll only be a minute." she responded with the finality of tone that told me I would be waiting until she was good and ready to go. Being a North Carolina girl, she would not be pushed, and I knew not to push back when she became that way. It would only make things worse, cause them southern gals, when their dander's up, they's fractious.

So we get to the hospital, they take her in right away, and we begin to sit and wait. She was lying on a gurney as I sat next to her. After a while she opined, "Well, I hope they find something, but I've lived a good life, no matter what."

I said nervously, having been thinking about the never never myself all along and not wanting to, "Let's not talk like that, ma, let's see what the doctors say."

About half incensed she asked, "What, don't you think I've had a good life?"

"No one says you haven't, ma, but let's not think about that just yet."

"Well, I've lived a good life anyway." There's that finality again, so I clammed up. But I really didn't care for it that second.

An hour or so later as I was standing next to her she said, stating more than asking, "It don't look right, does it, you seeing your mother lying in a hospital bed with all these wires and needles."

"No, momma, it don't." I whispered. I couldn't help but remember barely a year before, watching my dad as he lay dying in that same hospital. She was right on the money. It didn't look right at all.

"But I've had a good life." she said again. Aw, c'mon, ma, didn't we just go through this? I felt the exasperation of Ray Romano.

So a few weeks and several tests pass, and the doctors became sure she needed a pacemaker. It was obvious that even Mom was now quite sure that her good life had an indefinite time left and that she needed to get about living it. I sat with her on that Wednesday morning, waiting for the procedure. She fretted, "I wish they'd hurry up and do it. I have to weed my garden.", getting fractious. "And I'm hungry. But you know they won't feed me until after they're done."

Several starts and stops later (you know how hurry up and wait hospitals can be), and after not too little worrying about all the things she had to do, they put in the pacemaker. After she left for the OR, the next time I saw her was back in her room, all rosy cheeked after a month of appearing grayish and wan. She was eating and complaining, "They better let me go soon. I've got to get to work on my garden, and you know the house needs cleaning."

As my siblings were by then with her, I slipped out to find her doctor. I advised him to release her soon for his own good, because them southern gals, they's fractious.

Saturday, November 29, 2014

The Real Issue in Ferguson

Now that a few days have passed, we're going to revisit the Ferguson situation and offer a comment or two hopefully more in a spirit of understanding what lies at the bottom of it. We're just throwing a couple things out there, to stimulate conversation as much as anything else.

To begin with, closing malls and freeways will not win you many converts. When protestors get in the way of people trying to live their lives they will create more opposition than support. Part of the reason for that is that, by and large, people either don't care or have already made their minds up. Either way, at this point in the game, and it is a game of sorts for the left/libertarian protestors, the supporters of Michael Brown have lost their point. For the sake of argument, that in itself isn't saying that they're wrong about the incident. It's merely a suggestion that they need to acknowledge that different tactics are needed in order to change minds.

Quite frankly, and this may sound odd coming from folks like us who typically distrust government power, we and we believe a solid majority of Americans support the actions of authority generally over the actions of an individual, particularly when that individual was apparently a real threat. Like it or not, even if Officer Wilson overreacted, Michael Brown brought this upon himself. It has been said often in various ways and manners but it holds true and bears repetition: don't steal from and attack a store owner, get out of the middle of the street (where you should not be) when told to by a cop, don't threaten that officer of the law, and you will virtually always be unharmed. Brown's friend wasn't hurt, you'll notice, and why? Because he did not present himself as a threat.

We will admit that, in terms of race relations, there may well be certain socioeconomic background issues which lead to poor community relations and, sadly, sometimes violence. These avenues may need to be explored in order to determine how to make things better for everyone, police and community alike. Still, in the heat of the moment if you will, that simply doesn't matter. If there were socioeconomic problems which lead to Michael Brown becoming the legal adult which he became, and we ourselves don't doubt that, for example, the breakdown of the family brought on by government policy may be one, that may mitigate his faults. Yet at the moment he posed a danger to that store owner and Darren Wilson, that just didn't matter. People must bear that in mind when considering what the best course of action by the police and the community might be.

We're just ruminating a bit and explaining the conservative outlook. The entire incident is a shame for all involved: we should strive for a society where kids growing up have better support and where the police and neighborhood store owners and neighbors themselves are not living under threat. Yet the here and now is the here and now, and in it, threats exist. Ours in not an ideal world. We must be careful about allowing unfettered ideals to cloud our judgment about real world problems.

Friday, November 28, 2014

Black Friday 2014

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 two things: aren't some folks (if not most involved, quite frankly) 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 preach them 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?

Anything which does not practice a decent amount self examination and a reasonable self discipline will become a devil. The free market is no different. Yet it does create quite the hypocrites among its defenders, doesn't it? They express a disdain for coercion. Yet they sure don't mind the coercion which the markets force upon people.

That strikes us as violence against the person as hateful as any government encroachment upon the person. But the free marketers won't see it. They have their own god attending to their business. And it is not constrained by care for humanity.

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Thanksgiving 2014

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

Now, therefore, I do recommend and assign Thursday, the 26th day of November next, to be devoted by the people of these States to the service of that great and glorious Being who is the beneficent author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be; that we may then all unite in rendering unto Him our sincere and humble thanks for His kind care and protection of the people of this country previous to their becoming a nation; for the signal and manifold mercies and the favorable interpositions of His providence in the course and conclusion of the late war; for the great degree of tranquility, union, and plenty which we have since enjoyed; for the peaceable and rational manner in which we have been enable to establish constitutions of government for our safety and happiness, and particularly the national one now lately instituted for the civil and religious liberty with which we are blessed, and the means we have of acquiring and diffusing useful knowledge; and, in general, for all the great and various favors which He has been pleased to confer upon us.

And also that we may then unite in most humbly offering our prayers and supplications to the great Lord and Ruler of Nations and beseech Him to pardon our national and other transgressions; to enable us all, whether in public or private stations, to perform our several and relative duties properly and punctually; to render our National Government a blessing to all the people by constantly being a Government of wise, just, and constitutional laws, discreetly and faithfully executed and obeyed; to protect and guide all sovereigns and nations (especially such as have shown kindness to us), and to bless them with good governments, peace, and concord; to promote the knowledge and practice of true religion and virtue, and the increase of science among them and us; and, generally to grant unto all mankind such a degree of temporal prosperity as He alone knows to be best.

George Washington's Thanksgiving Proclamation, 1789

Anyone who claims that we weren't founded on Christian principles, read these words well and carefully. And have a wonderful and happy Thanksgiving in that light.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Justice in Ferguson?

Is Ferguson, Missouri burning? Because, given all the signs we've been given, it should be. Officer Darren Wilson of the Ferguson Police will not be charged in the shooting of Michael Brown. And, of course, this is a miscarriage of justice.

To the more libertarian among us, it may well be. To the arrogant (presumedly) poor, it may well be as well. For after all, when an authority figure uses deadly force, he must be wrong. All authority must be subject to question when a person is at issue.

And, of course, no individual or action of an individual should be subject to question either. But, you know, the person is always right. Because someone somewhere said that Michael Brown had his hands up, well, he must have had his hands up and was trying to surrender. Why even debate the matter?

Well, because authority, in some book somewhere, is always wrong, and the person, in that same book (wherever it exists), is always right. And do you know what the bottom line is?

If someone, some person, that is, had gotten out of the middle of the street when told to by a cop, none of this would be at issue. If someone who should not have been in the middle of the street had gotten out of it when told to by a legitimate authority, there would be no issue tonight. If someone who had any real respect for others let alone the law had done what he should have done, there would be no issue tonight.

Yet there is an issue tonight. And it is made by those who disrespect the law. And they are why the Taco Bell restaurant in Ferguson or nearby environs were boarding up their windows earlier last night. Because they knew, somehow, that certain hooligans would use last night's grand jury findings to justify what they, in their own, felt, only felt, mind you, was right.

But they could not be selfish, could they?

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Mean What You Say

We live by definition. Many folks will disagree with that, and it's interesting to wonder whether all they're doing is living under a different definition. It would seem so, despite the fact that, very often, they attempt to live under a banner of no definition.

What purpose can that serve? For starters, all it really does is put them into the category of relativists. All kinds of fun can be had with factoid, but we'll set aside for now. There's a more ominous idea at work under the auspices of no definition. If people cannot be defined, then no human action can be called wrong as there would be no definition to fit it.

That's why so many folks now believe that marriage can be between any two people who love each other. It takes away from marriage by making the term meaningless, that is, without definition. It throws the point into the realm of love, whatever that means, as it is also a term used rather loosely these days. How many of us actually consider what love might be, or what it actually might demand of us? Very few, because it is now a term used merely to justify what we want to do and with whoever wants to do it with us.

Words mean things. At least, they're supposed to. They are the only way in which we can effectively communicate, and they can only be effective when we define them and hold people to those definitions. This is hardly a new concept. The ancient Greeks insisted that we must define our terms before discussing matters; more recently, Rush Limbaugh opined that, well, words mean things. If we are truly serious about understanding other people and other cultures then we have to be able to understand what is being said by ourselves and others. If we are really serious about ending war and injustice or merely making our local community a better place, then we must admit that our words must be well defined in manners comprehensible and acceptable to all rational people.

If we do not do this, then we are simply banging a gong when we speak. Such is nothing more than a metallic din which can only drown out those who really want a better world.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Amnesty for illegals is a moral wrong

It appears as though President Barack Obama is preparing to announce a general amnesty to those who are living in this country illegally. Such an act would make them all legal residents.

This would be an insult on many fronts, not the least of which would be the simple question of fairness to everyone who has entered the US by the front door. There are questions of it might affect elections, which is surely something which the Obama Administration and its Democratic allies have thought through. But more than that: it is an affront against every American who has left his country only to be put through the mill on his return, and to the many visitors to our nation who are similarly grilled when attempting to visit amicably.

We have border guards in Detroit, no doubt by instruction, demanding to know where US citizens have been and what had they done while outside the country. What, can citizens with proof of citizenship not be allowed back in should not they care not to explain, to someone who has no business knowing, that they were out with friends or enjoying legitimate recreational activities? The insults have went so far as to demand the last time the subject was in prison, as if that too might prevent their repatriation. Legitimate visitors who mean know harm are often hassled as well when they are merely trying to come by to say and maybe spend a few bucks.

Yet those who have come here wrongly and have lived off our largesse are soon to be welcomed with open arms.

We have no problem with fairly open immigration. But there's nothing wrong with expecting to people to come by the front door after a friendly knock. But if someone broke into your house, would you tell them that's okay or call the cops?

Yes, that's a decent analogy. But we are increasingly sure this Administration cares not for decency anyway. A general amnesty simply proves it all the more.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Jay Nixon is Right to Plan Ahead

We await the verdict, such as it may be, of the grand jury investigating whether Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson wrongfully shot and killed 18 year old Michael Brown. Speculation about what may happen runs the gamut from having charges brought against Officer Wilson up to his being cleared of any wrongdoing. In the meantime, Missouri Governor Jay Nixon has already deemed the St. Louis area to be in a state of emergency and supporters of Michael Brown are making various demands, and mostly demanding an indictment of Officer Warren.

What's wrong with that, that last bit? Simply that it leaves us to question whether the people, of Ferguson really want justice or not.

Shouldn't the system be allowed at least the chance that it will work? Remember that working actually means doing justice, and the Darren Wilson is an entitled to justice as Michael Brown. Yet when protestors openly demand an indictment, they are for all practical purposes demanding to have there way about the manner without regard to any actual right or wrong.

It's that sort of knee jerk reaction to events however possibly awful which brings the entire community down. We can almost imagine that no matter what the grand jury finds there will still be rioting in Ferguson after an announcement is made, because what happened isn't about doing right but rather about what a supposedly put upon community wants solely because it wants it. Most of the protesters, we'll venture to say, don't in fact give a hoot nor a holler about the young man who was killed. They simply want to lash out for whatever vague reasons.

That is not justice. But it is the mob mentality. As such, we believe Jay Nixon has the right idea.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Brittany Maynard's God

We recently spoke of the death of Brittany Maynard, calling it an act of cowardice or, worse, self righteousness. You may read about it here: http://www.examiner.com/article/brittany-murphy-s-death-pure-selfishness . We have received several criticisms of our editorial, and they all boil down to two things: that God is a loving and merciful God, and that we cannot judge the acts of others. They are interesting criticisms.

The second point we can quite frankly dismiss almost without thought: aren't those who criticize our thoughts guilty of judgment of us? Yet if judgment of the thoughts and acts of others is wrong, on what grounds do they judge us? We will skip the intermediate steps which that question entails and cut straight to the chase: no one argues against judgment when they like the judgment. If we were to have said that Maynard had the right to do what she has done, no one would have jumped up shouting, 'You can't judge her!'. So the implication is clear: the assertion that we cannot judge the thoughts and acts of others is itself little more than a selfish, self righteous claim invoked when one doesn't like the conclusions being drawn. As such, we dismiss the point as an argument for assisted suicide. Or as an argument for anything else, for that matter.

The first argument, that God is loving and merciful, is simply a red herring with regard to any human act or construct. We do not argue that God isn't loving and merciful; but what have those fine and lofty ideals to do with whether an act or thought is right anyway? It is as though those who employ that line of argument are saying: because God fully understands what so and so is going through, he will forgive it. Again, we do not argue that God does not fully understand things, or will further not take individual circumstances into account. Yet the idea that that must mean He will forgive them is presumption, plain and simple. We must be very careful about presuming the Will of God.

That God loves us and is willing to forgive us is without question. Yet love and forgiveness mean little if you don't want them, and wanting them requires that you ask for them with contriteness. Contriteness means understanding that what we did was wrong and required forgiveness. So we ask: might Brittany Maynard have been contrite before she did what she did (which seems unlikely as she went ahead and did it), or at least before her act came to fruition?

The answer is that we don't know; as we've just said, we must be very careful about presuming the Will of God. Since we don't know, we cannot presume anything about the state of her person. Yet even that is still a separate question over whether what she actually did was right or wrong. And we can draw useful conclusions about that: it was wrong. No one has the moral right to take their own life (sacrificing it, in war or as a police officer or when defending a family member or friend for example, is not taking your life, just for the record, but is offering it for a greater good).

Quite frankly, we cheapen human life to think that what is wrong is in fact right no matter the exact state of the person involved. Yet the god invoked in support of Brittany Maynard apparently would not say that. He would say that what she did was okay, because, you know, he loves her and would never, ever judge her.

Yet the sad fact is that the god of Brittany Maynard would be quite happy if we did all just kill ourselves.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Social Conservatism is not a lost cause

Cheer up, social conservatives. Things aren't so bleak as they seem.

To be sure, the battle over gay marriage is lost. Not to be flippant, but so it goes. Sometimes, in this imperfect world, the wrong side wins. Yet there are many reasons for that happening, and not the least of which is the simple fact that the world in its imperfect vision blurs the lines. People reach a point where they cannot or are unwilling to fully see right from wrong; this is not said to excuse them but only as an observation. Either way, we're at the point so that as long as religious liberty is not infringed upon by the gay rights activists we may just have to live with parts of their program. Worse things have happened in human history and, not to excuse them, but sins of the flesh are indeed the least immediately harmful of the sins. At the end of life, those who commit them will have to answer to God for their errors as we will for ours. If you aren't shuddering at the task of explaining your own sins to St. Peter, then you may need to give that question better thought anyway.

But as to our responsibilities towards justice on this Earth, well, sometimes all that can be done, so long as we've actually done all that we can do lately, is to wait for the next best opportunity and do what we can do now about whatever other errors are out there. With some few exceptions, there is no point to fighting battles which cannot at this time be won. All that does is expend resources uselessly while perhaps leading to other more critical battles unwon. Abortion still exists, and is surely a worse evil. So long as we will not support human rights among our weakest brothers and sisters then talk about rights and responsibilities in general is pointless. Even this does not preclude our speaking from the pulpits and through our social media against what has been made conventional. Leaving the battlefield does not mean we are no longer to propagate. It only means that we must be patient about ultimate ends.

The one thing we cannot do is allow ourselves to be painted into a corner. We cannot be lumped in with the buffoons who say that rape can't cause pregnancy or that God wills this or that; we don't really know God's will in particular instances, and He cannot undo the free will of men and women. But we insist that as a group we are not Todd Akin or Richard Mourdock. We must stay reasonable about our cause. Further, we must not allow ourselves to be called bigots. It is the bigots against religion who call us that, and they cannot be allowed the high ground. We speak, if we speak truly, for what is really right and what is really wrong. As such, we need to call for honest introspection and proper self denial among ourselves as well as our adversaries. They speak almost by definition for shallow self interest. That by itself should give our beliefs greater moral clarity and power.

And it will in the long run. Keep the long run in mind, for the short run will never give us complete satisfaction for the good or the bad. That's simply the way things are, and there's no use becoming pessimists over short term defeats. We must remember that we are called to optimism evil in this world. Without that belief, how are we to be optimistic about the next?

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Justice leads to Freedom

Libertarians and conservatives seem so very close on several issues that it may at times be difficult to distinguish between the two. Yet certain distinctions can be made, and they may be all the difference in the world between the camps.

Perhaps the most serious difference lies in the areas of freedom and justice. Libertarians occasionally talk as though justice is the most important thing which human society ought to strive towards yet almost unfailingly insist that the measure of an act is the amount of freedom it allows. The problem is that freedom ultimately is a means rather than an end, and while it is easy to think that the society with the most freedom may (and the word may cannot be stressed enough) produce the most justice, that surely cannot be a given. A hedonistic society such as what the Western world sometimes appears hell bent for leather determined to make of itself surely welcomes a great (one is tempted to say an absurd) amount of freedom among the people. Do libertarians sufficiently address what that must mean?

Seeing as they are only seriously opposed to areas of direct and physical violence against persons, it is easy to say no. This isn't to say they oppose any and all nonviolent yet repugnant actions; we presume they are against libel and slander, for example. But do they take it far enough? Are there areas where, even though there may appear a lack of real violence against the person or society, there is a nonphysical violence which may yet hurt individuals and nations?

The conservative says yes. When society allows repugnant actions to be legal then it had begun teaching individuals and nations that the immoral is in fact moral. It begins to tear the fabric of civil society into little more than strands, each strand being each person, each person being free to do what they want, outside of overt violence, of course, without censure. When that happens, how long may it be before the strands cannot support even themselves? Likely as not, the moment they become too individual, too little concerned with the larger society. What will happen then? The strands that get together by whatever means will dominate the rest. That probably won't mean much for freedom, let alone justice.

Without a sense of true justice, decidedly non violent yet unjust actions will be seen as mere aspects of personal freedom. If it doesn't harm anyone directly and immediately it must, in the libertarian view, be allowed.

Such is a shallow definition of justice. But when a creed is based on mere freedom rather than on actual right and wrong, what can we expect in the long run but decay? If the libertarians wish to be taken seriously then they must accept that freedom isn't the end all be all of human actions. Until that happens, they will always be on the margin of political society. Or, worse, they will lead all of society to its destruction.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Veterans Day 2014

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

That is the fault of the Hollywood Left, quite frankly. For whatever bizarre reason, and knowing them it must be somewhat bizarre or selfish, it seems that the soldiers most fondly recalled are those from the WWII generation. Without a doubt, they deserve that praise of course. This isn't to doubt their service or their bravery. We should recall them. The American Soldier, and his compatriots from Canada and Great Britain and France and China and dozens of other nations from around the world fell while fighting that menace. The Nazis were awful, to be sure. They may have been at least to that time the worst threat the entire world had faced, and a threat to the United States as well, to be sure. But were they only reason the American Soldier fought and died?

Did not the American Soldier fight and fall at Lexington and Concord? Citizen soldiers, yes, they were. And they stood their ground, refusing to allow the Redcoats to secure a garrison of patriotic supplies at Concord, pestering the British all the way back to their garrison at Boston. Did the American Soldier not fall at Fort Ticonderoga, or Bunker Hill, or at Saratoga? Did he not fall at the retreat from Manhattan, or while fighting the Hessians at Princeton or Trenton, or was their blood not shed as they attacked redoubts numbered 9 and 10 at Yorktown, the attacks which were key to victory at that famous battle? Why do we not remember that American Soldier?

During the Wars which we do not remember so fondly, at sea against the French in 1798, at the Raisin River right here in Michigan in 1813 during the War of 1812, did he not fall? At Tripoli during the Wars in 1804 and 1815? Why do we not remember the American Soldier from then?

Do we remember Fort Sumter? Do we remember Antietam? Do we remember Bull Run, battles One and Two, or the siege of Vicksburg? Do Chambersburg and Gettysburg, Gettysburg, the battle which many historians argue is one of the ten most critical battles of World History, World History, mind you, mean anything these days? Do we appreciate what that means to our nation even today?

The doughboys in World War I; do we know them these days? Yes, they are universally gone now. They should not be forgotten.

World War II and Korea live in our memories. Yet we forget Korea. That is, other than with the greatest cynicism, as presented by M*A*S*H. Why do we recall only with disdain the great victories of the American Soldier in Vietnam? Why do we not acknowledge the tremendous victory of the American Soldier of the TET Offensive during the New Year of 1968? The Viet Cong were blown off the field of battle as an effective fighting force for a year, an entire year, and the media which hates conservative America called it a military loss. Why do we forget you? Why do we forget the American Soldier of Operation Iraqi Freedom? Why do we forget the American Soldier who toils each day in Afghanistan? Why do we forget the American Soldier who toils each day holding the Al Qaeda militants at bay at Guantanamo, safe from attacking their fellow citizens?

We should not. We should not forget you any more than we should forget the veteran of Granada or Operation Desert Storm, of Panama or Haiti or the 200 or more military operations in our history. Has every action of the US been right? No; we are human. We have made mistakes. Where we have, nature and nature's God rightly demand we regret them and make amends where we can. Yet even then we must not forget that our sons and daughters have not died in vain. There were part of the greater cause, willing to serve their nation whenever or wherever it called. We must give them their due too.

The Nazis have not been the only evil in the world. They may have been not the worst evil, either. Other evils have arisen; evils whose blood soils the hand of the American Soldier. He was always and everywhere was concerned with rightness and justice no matter what. And that, dear friends, is how we ought remember him.

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Hey GOP: Be Partisan

Everyone on the left wants bipartisanship, it seems. Cooperate; make concessions; let everyone have a slice of the pie, a share of the trouble. It sounds so right, so fair, and so just.

Well, it isn't. The Democrats have not been bipartisan for years. So the best advice for the now ruling Republicans is: be partisan. Stuff your ideas down their throats. It's what the liberals and Democrats have done for years. Now it's your turn.

The Left, the Democrats, they aren't bipartisan. Their very history displays as much. Ronald Reagan nominated Sandra Day O'Connor to the Supreme Court in 1981 in order to fulfill a campaign promise, fully expecting that when then time came the Democrats would respect his real first choice for the high court, Robert Bork. Yet when it came time to nominate Judge Bork, the liberal Democrats who by then controlled the Senate said no way. Hence the term Borked was brought into our political lexicon. No bipartisan ship there.

When George Bush the First pledged no new taxes, he was coerced into agreeing to the largest tax increase in American history, on the grounds of necessity and bipartisanship. Was he lauded when he gave in? No. Before the ink was dry on the deal, Democrats were already pointing fingers and yelling, "He's a liar! He said no new taxes and he raised them!" Unprincipled hypocrites, the whole lot of them.

After the 2000 Presidential election, when it was clear to any unbiased observer that, under the system established by the United States Constitution, George W. Bush was the duly elected President of the United States, were the Democrats bipartisan? Nope. They called out every lawyer they could to argue that this was not so. They argued for imaginative judgments about hanging and dimpled chads where no real intent could possibly be displayed, and for totally subjective and selfish reasons, that an unknown voter meant to vote for Al Gore.

Then these same types of people deigned to shove Obamacare down the throats of Americans at the last minute, before a newly elected Congress (elected by a substantial majority) could meet, by nothing less than parliamentary gamesmanship, at the last minute.

The Democrats do not believe in bipartisanship. Now is the time to teach them exactly what that lesson means.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

You won, GOP; now Govern

The 2014 midterm elections weren't even close. The Republicans took control of the US Senate and could increase that margin, and they have added at least 13 seats to their majority in the House of Representatives and could add more there as well. Governors races, which were supposed to offer the Democrats solace and perhaps even slight gains, saw the Republicans add three governorships to their majority of that group. Illinois and Maryland saw Republican upsets. State Legislatures by and large are held by the GOP. The only good national news for the Democrats was in Pennsylvania, where a Democrat ousted a Republican governor.

What of the supposed racist and sexist Republicans? Iowa and West Virginia sent their first women senators to Washington, Joni Ernst and Shelley Moore Capito respectively; they are Republicans. South Carolina sent the first elected black senator to DC since Reconstruction: Senator Tim Scott, a Republican. This turned out to be a much more significant romp than even we expected. Well, what does it all mean?

It means that the GOP is the new majority party in America. And it can keep that status if it lives up to its promises and actually governs like Republicans, something quite attainable in a center-right country such as ours.

Take President Barack Obama to the woodshed. Show him that the nation does not like his policies or his leadership and force upon him policies which will help the United States prosper. Don't go after as the GOP went after Bill Clinton in the 90s. Go after him by putting forth an agenda which will improve our economy and increase legitimate personal freedoms. Make him the man of NO the same way he disingenuously called the GOP the party of No. Because he will say no to the Republicans. So take advantage of that. Show that there is a real difference between the major parties and that more conservative ideas are better for us.

2015 isn't that far away, and the Senate math could work against Republicans then. The GOP needs to fashion itself so that it can keep a Senate majority while winning the White House. The Party can only do that by showing, clearly and forcefully, that its ideas are right and will work.

Monday, November 3, 2014

Brittany Maynard Died Selfishly

Brittany Maynard has died. The 29 year old woman with terminal and aggressive brain cancer took her life in Oregon, where she moved to take advantage of that state's assisted suicide laws. Her death, it is said, was with dignity.

Only in America today can we call surrender dignified. Only in America today can giving up, throwing away perhaps the most incredible gift we are given, be interpreted as an act of strength. How can anyone believe this something positive?

What did she really believe, this woman who taught children in Nepal and traveled widely as she pursued what must have been, with her mentality, a vain bucket list? Vain, quite frankly, and its sister term vanity, are absolutely the correct words here. Apparently nothing matters except her comfort, her desires. Why else do what she did? Teach kids why? Because it satisfied her. Travel why? Because it satisfied her. Die on a schedule? Because it satisfied her.

This was an act of selfishness, of, in fact, hatred, and nothing more. It teaches only that life is good until it is difficult. Then it is a trial which should be ran away from with all due speed. Brittany Maynard did not love life, did not love going places and seeing things, did not care for children in remote areas of the world. She cared for herself and her enjoyment, and nothing more. Her opting to die rather than fight the good fight, rather than actually live every day to the fullest measure possible, demonstrates as much. There is no lesson in that save that futility is the end of humanity.

Pray for her, friends, as you ought. But as much as that, pray that no one takes her lesson to heart. We are all doomed should her attitude win the heart of humanity.

Sunday, November 2, 2014

NFL anti-bullying campaign hypocritical

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

The National Football League has, lately, had a significant rise in aggressive off field behavior from its players, most notably in the area of domestic violence. The very product it offers glorifies violence; it actually encourages it on the playing field. It's no wonder that too many of its players can't control it off the field. Violence can easily become ingrained in their psyche; can we reasonably expect that they can readily turn it off? Yet the NFL is quite active in the anti-bullying area.

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, uncooperative, and will quite naturally lead to serious and debilitating injuries. It makes the League's anti-bullying cries seem at least vaguely hypocritical. The WWE meanwhile 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.

Friday, October 31, 2014

2014 should be good for Republicans

The 2014 off year elections are fast approaching, coming up this Tuesday, November 4th. We fully expect that the day will bring good news for the Republican Party, seeing as we have a decidedly unpopular Chief Executive at the helm. When dozens of members of your own party are distancing themselves from you, you aren't being held in particularly high esteem. When you factor in that the party seen as out of power generally gains ground in the biennial vote, this promises to be quite a good year for the GOP indeed.

Other factors almost certainly help the minority too, not the least of which is that the non-presidential election years usually bring out the more serious voter. Many people tend to view the presidential elections as the elections; after that, nothing much matters. What this means is that the low information voter came out in November 2012 and will reappear in late 2016. He is less likely to bother with this coming Tuesday.

Why does this help Republicans? First Lady Michelle Obama pretty much answered that: Democratic voters tend to be lazy voters. Lazy voters are not easily fired up, as opposed to the voters who are more passionate about democracy and getting their party in power. The more conservative voter shows up at the polls more consistently because the vote matters more to him. The liberal voter only cares about the big time. It's significant that most big Republican gains have occurred during the off year elections.

Yes, there are lazy and uninformed right wingers among the electorate. But we will go on record as saying that they are fewer and farther apart than their opponents. So while this year will be no 1994, we expect that November 4th will be a very good day for the Grand Old Party.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Catholics and Humor

You gotta hand it to the Catholics. They have a sense of humor about themselves. Of course, so do conservatives in general, but that is an issue we'll take on another time.

What brings this up is the discovery of a funny little website called Eye on the Tiber. It promises to deliver all Catholic news as it happens, when it happens, and before it happens. And it does a very good job of it. Check it our for yourself: http://www.eyeofthetiber.com/

You don't have to be Catholic to find Eye of the Tiber hilarious. That might help at times, yes, such as the article which tells us that Irish bishops are lengthening opportunities for Confession into 8 hour blocks due to 'gargantuan' demand, a manner which neatly lampoons supposed Church authoritarianism and Irish guilt at the same time. Then there's the piece about the Mars Rover discovering a Jesuit seminary...but we digress. The point here is that serious Catholics can joke about themselves. Let's face it: they aren't expected to by the world at large. Catholics are supposed to be staid, stolid types.

But there are greater points than that at work. Perhaps first on that list is how the site demonstrates how little the media know or understand Catholics and Catholicism. How often in recent months have we heard the media chirp that Pope Francis is leading the Church in a new direction, into the 'modern' world, away from all that mythology and God stuff. He isn't, of course, and EOTT cleverly mocks that attitude. There's a recent article, if that's the right term for it, which gleefully reports that Francis has split with the past in announcing that gravity is true. This comes on the heels of media assertions that the Church had traditionally opposed evolution when the Holy Father said that it was compatible with Catholic doctrine. Yet Pius XII said so in 1950; what's up wit dat?

Simply that the media and the population at large don't understand Catholics and Catholicism. In fact, it's probably safe to say that they don't care to understand religion beyond their own straw men which they use to knock it. To actually take religion seriously would require a feat which they would not find humorous at all, because it might challenge their lifestyle choices. It might make them have to become introspective. They don't want to have to answer the questions that that might entail.

Yet the people who try to answer those questions honestly about themselves are the ones with a comic streak about something very dear to them. We believe that that tells us all we need to know about the secular world, and that it should instruct the secular world on the real Church.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

No Explanation Possible for Irrational Acts

“Can you ever explain something like this?” asked Susan Bibeau, the mother of Michael Zehaf-Bibeau, who attacked an unarmed guard at a war memorial in Canada before assaulting the Canadian Parliament. Zehaf-Bibeau was killed by Kevin Vickers, the Parliament sergeant-at-arms.

The sad answer to this anguished mother's question is, no. There is no explanation for things like what happened in Ottawa this past Wednesday. There might be thanks that it was not worse, there may even be reasons in the sense of why Zehaf-Bibeau acted they way he did, but no explanation which might prompt someone to say, 'Oh, so that's why'. Irrationality is on its face not rational.

But we must face it every day of our lives. Throwing aside extremist ideologies of any type, we simply cannot know how everyone else is going to act on a given day or at a given time. Not to sound trite, but perhaps Bilbo Baggins expressed it best: it's dangerous to leave your home each morning. Yet we cannot do that. We cannot live our lives sitting on our hands and worrying about what's outside. We have to go out and face what's there.

The Canadian response has been grand, indeed sublime in its grandeur: watching the procession of slain Corporal Nathan Cirillo as he makes his last trip home from roadsides and overpasses as his hearse returns him to Hamilton, Ontario. You can see many images of such quiet bravery here: http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/2014/10/24/nathan-cirillo-highway-of-heroes-photos_n_6043546.html?1 It is the very definition of Lest We Forget.

So let's not forget that we have jobs to do, just as Cpl. Cirillo and Kevin Vickers did so laudably. We honor them both, the living and the fallen heroes, by continuing to do what they are and were protecting us so that we can do: live our lives freely, even in the face of those who would do us wrong.

Friday, October 24, 2014

Evil Empires and Ottawa

What happened in Ottawa on Wednesday is indeed tragic. It is tragic on many levels and in many forms. It displays to each one of us, and in a very direct manner, that no one is safe. One deranged lunatic can ruin your whole day.

But how do we stop them? What can we do to prevent this happening again? There must be some answer.

Alas, there is not. We cannot prevent evil from happening, no matter how hard we wish we could and no matter how hard we try. We live in a fallen world. People are weak; we all are subject to fall prey to the lowest forms of humanity. That's simply how it is. In an imperfect world such as ours, that's simply how it is.

Yet we cannot stop trying to prevent evil. That is a very politically incorrect way to say something, yes. But there is good, and there is evil, in the world. And calling evil evil is the first step we must take in pursuing the goal of doing all we can to eradicate evil from our lives. Ronald Reagan called the Soviet Union an evil empire, and was derided by many in the the public forum for being so blunt. Yet the Soviets are no more, and President Reagan has superhighways and airports named after him.

We will lose many battles. We will, in fact, lose the war, so far as we may fight it on Earth. Yet we have something on our side which is above the Earth, above all the tiny thoughts we as individuals may think to ourselves. We have truth, those of us introspective enough to see it, on our side. The Canadians see it; they have witnessed it every bit as much as we did on 9/11, they have witnessed it first hand of late, and they have the right attitude. They say, we have seen what evil can do, and we will fight it to the ends of the Earth. It will not go unpunished. This is an excellent attitude to have.

Because of it, the Canadians will win in the long run. And we will too.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Pulling Demand Forward?

Automakers are worried that lower financing costs on new cars might cause a drop in used car prices in the coming years. As more new cars are sold there will be more used cars in the future, and as we all know, when there is greater supply than demand, prices fall.

And this bad why?

Okay, perhaps it is for car producers. With stiffer competition from used car lots new car lots might suffer. But then, why should those who want used cars be expected to pay, indeed arguably to underwrite, new car dealers and manufacturers simply because they want greater sales?

Analyst Adam Jones frets that ... "we are taking consumers out of the normal trade cycle, pulling forward demand from the future." We're not really sure what that means in part because we're not sure that there is such a thing as a normal trade cycle. But if it sounds like buzzspeak it likely is buzzspeak. In this case, it sounds like car makers, or those most interested in new car manufacture perhaps, wanting to protect what they view as 'their' turf. They can't have too many used cars available because that will, naturally enough, affect new car sales. That would be bad.

But for whom? All those associated with new cars of course. Yet that says nothing about those who cannot afford or merely do not want new cars. Those latter groups simply should not be expected to buy new just because it helps the automotive industry or even, by specious argument, society as a whole. We don't live in Terry Gilliam's Brazil; we live in the real world where we have options, one of which is that we are not obliged to buy new anything merely because it helps those associated with the production and sale of that anything.

There's nothing wrong with buying a new car if that's what you want. But there's nothing with buying used cars either. So how about if we just the markets decide such issues? Why not force the new car industry to deal with the pressure of used car sales? We might actually get better, cheaper new cars anyway. It sounds to us like the best of both worlds.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Obama decorative headstone is poor tase

Halloween is upon us, and that means decorations which have begun to rival, at least in terms of scope, Christmas, appear routinely on our streets and in our shops. There's nothing wrong with that, of course, so long as they are kept to within at least some bounds of civility. Given that most of the season's decor is macabre, that can no doubt be a chore. But, we believe anyway, the effort ought to be made, and can be made successfully. Indeed, that the effort really must be made when decorations are public.

Which brings us to a complaint by a neighbor about a home in Oklahoma which adorns its lawn with gravestones as part of its, well, we suppose celebration would be the word, Halloween fun. That itself isn't the issue: fake headstones are all over the place in October these days, and most of them (the ones which ask, Izzy dead?, for example) are innocuous enough. Yet these folks have amidst their front yard graveyard a stone which says across the top "Obama" with fake blood running down its face, and a question mark rather than a date of birth or death. The homeowners say it has been there for years and meant as a joke about the President's birth, and thus a question about his eligibility to be President. A new neighbor feels it is too disrespectful of our Chief Executive.

We have to side with the neighbor on this one. We are no fans of the President but he is the President just the same. Anything that hints at the wish of his death, which a fake tombstone by its very nature surely must, is in taste too poor to be displayed. This isn't to say that the force of law should be used to remove it, of course. But it is to say that people ought to police themselves better about whatever they put on public display. And if it's on even your own property but well in view of passers-by, you have an obligation to be considerate of that.

We would apply this principle to any President, so it is wrong to apply it with regard to Barack Obama. Good taste should never be set aside, even with so eerie of a holiday as Halloween has become in these United States.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Starting Black Friday Sales on Thanksgiving Morally Wrong

Fortune Online has proclaimed it: Macy's, the famous New York City department store, has 'thrown down the Black Friday gauntlet'. The store has announced that it will open at 6 PM Thanksgiving evening for the sake of the Thanksgiving Friday madness. Many other retailers are sure to follow.

This is a prime example of why unfettered capitalism, of why a completely free market, is on this Earth a moral wrong. Forcing, yes, forcing, people to work on holidays, outside of essential services, is an affront to their human dignity. And please don't bother about trying to argue that no one is being forced. Most of Macy's, and Target's, and Toys-R-us, and Sears employees, most likely a significant majority of them anyway, need their jobs. They have little option but to work at such absurd times when the powers that be say they must. Further, don't go on about them just getting other jobs. That ain't so easy, folks. Certainly it isn't so easy as the laissez-faire academics (who live in an idealist, abstract, and therefore unworldly, paradise) want us to believe. The world isn't perfect. Neither then will be the application of the theories of its denizens, no matter how good they look on paper.

Which is why some government regulation of the markets is good and necessary. There would be nothing wrong with a reintroduction of something like the old Blue Laws, used to prohibit nonessential services from being performed on major holidays anyway (or absurdly early on the days following them). People need time off, and the people who demand those folks' time need to reevaluate their needs. This includes more than the big shot business owners. It includes the selfish buyers who want what they want when they want it, and consideration of their fellow man be damned.

The Catholic Church has the right word for it: consumerism. At its extreme, it is a moral evil. People simply do not need everything they think they need. They certainly don't need it at the expense of another citizen's well deserved relaxation, or their time with family and friends. Your new big screen TV can wait until tomorrow, or the next sale, and if you don't get it at all, well, poor baby. Your life must indeed be awful.

If you want to talk responsibility, then let's talk about man's inhumanity to man and go from there, because responsibility doesn't begin with market forces. All too often they merely stomp responsibility and, in fact, our obligation to others. Obligation is not inherent in amassing goods.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Hate doesn't make a crime worse

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.

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Gender Identity is Obvious

What's wrong with gender? Why can't we be boys or girls, seeing as that's what we all really are?

A Nebraska school district has issued a handout which purports to deal with 'gender identity issues', whatever that means. We've labored under the impression that your gender is what you're born with, but apparently we need to discover our 'authentic selves', whatever that means. The handout was developed by a group calling itself (itself seems the appropriate term here) Gender Spectrum. They're the ones seeking their authentic selves, unlike the rest of us simple males and females who aren't seeking anything like that. Indeed, if we have a decent sense of self, we aren't seeking anything like that at all.

There are times when we don't know what to say. This is one of them. What do you say to someone who doesn't know what they are, when the choices are pretty obvious? You're a guy or a gal; it doesn't seem necessary, or wise, to go beyond that. Quite honestly, it doesn't seem as though there can be any confusion about that. Unless, perhaps, you want to be confused.

And there's the rub. What we have here is a prime example of the tyranny of the individual: I'm whoever I say I am. I won't be defined by society. I won't even by defined by my DNA. I'm me, gosh darn it, and no one is going to place a definition on me except me.

Well, sister, or brother, or, or, it, we've got news for you. Society is going to define you, and the terms it will use will be accurate if not pretty. Only decorum prevents us from printing them here. But trust us: the labels are indeed accurate.

Monday, October 6, 2014

SF sugary drink tax immoral

Conservatives get a bum rap for wanting to control people. To be sure, and this really applies to almost any political group when you think about it, there are degrees to which we right wingers do attempt to control human behavior. Being against abortion and gay marriage come quickly to mind, for example. But then, any rational person understands that there are areas where attempts to control others are necessary for the public good. We could not have laws against murder, theft, or kidnapping if we didn't accept that society must try to control some human behaviors. Yet there are truly not that many areas where conservatives wish to control the public actions of others.

Enter into this line of thought Proposal E, which will be on the San Francisco city ballot this November 4th. It would place a tax of two cents per ounce on sugary beverages. Two cents per ounce. That's 24 cents per twelve ounce can. A buck-twenty eight on a Super Big Gulp at your favorite 7/11. Another California city, Berkeley, is to consider a penny an ounce tax on such drinks. We will grant that these measures will not end the consumption of soft drinks. You could still drink them, you'll just have to pay through the nose for the right.

This is worse than any conservative actions against any supposed civil rights, quite frankly. This is micromanaging; this is nagging; this is the very definition of the nanny state, and it runs deeper than right wing beliefs that a fetus is a child or that marriage is one man to one woman. Initiatives such as these indicate a desire to control all aspects of human activity. These proposals indicate the desire by some to control all parts of human endeavor: don't think for a moment that your right to an abortion would be safe if these powers begin to think it beyond your capability to decide for yourself about childbirth. Look at China: they'll tell you you must have an abortion if the state thinks you should.

We don't actually believe that that is at the front of the minds of the San Francisco establishment which wants this measure enacted; they're not thinking that far ahead. They're simply trying to do something for the 'good' of the masses, or maybe trying to find a new revenue stream (like that will work: people will simply stop buying Coke in San Fran stores or restaurants). But is a direction which can be taken over, in the long run, by those who do think in the long run about questions of social engineering. Or more to the point, about people who believe that humanity must be formed in their image. Those folks, contrary to popular belief, are not conservative.

Proposal E is not merely wrong on its face. It is insulting to anyone who actually believes that people are responsible for themselves. Those people are conservative. The real libertarians.

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Respect Life Sunday 2014

Today is Respect Life Sunday. It is a day which the Catholic Church has set aside each year to remind people that life must be respected from the moment of conception. Naturally enough, the aim is to convince everyone that abortion, and things such as assisted suicide, are moral evils.

It cannot be said enough that being against abortion is a philosophic and not inherently religious stance. Society likes to dismiss it as merely religious so that it can justify the deed. Separation of Church and State and all that, you know. It's funny how they don't mind religious action on other matters, such as poverty and capital punishment, but that is a question for another time.

Human beings have human babies. Common sense tells us as much. Science, if you simply must have everything interpreted empirically, tells us as much. When a couple decides to have a child, they fully expect a human child. Even in the despicable cases of rape and incest, we cannot set aside the question of personhood involved with the child simply for the sake of the unfortunate (in terms of having a crime committed against her) mother. We know that a pregnant woman is carrying a human being. To deny that is intellectual dishonesty, or worse: a moral evil perpetuated by those who benefit from the act of abortion. This must include the men and women who happen to want one merely because a child would cramp their style.

Likewise, assisted suicide and any form of euthanasia must be seen too as abhorrent. Did you put yourself on this Earth? No; indeed, you had no say on the matter. Why ought you have in say in how and when you leave? We have addressed the question philosophically, without an appeal to any higher authority. This before we get into the question of someone helping you...which means that someone helping you check yourself out must be doing something wrong too.

These conclusions can be derived by logical argument and inference without any reference to religion. It is time that we as a society accept it as such, and act accordingly. Short of that, we are simply savages.

Finally, you must respect life from conception if you expect your life to be respected equally. We are less than human otherwise; you are less than human otherwise. If you will not respect someone else's life simply because it is their life, on what grounds can you demand respect for yours? Because you're already here? Listen to how selfish that sounds. Where's the respect in such attitudes?

All right, this is harsh. But it's less harsh than denying a human being humanity.

Respect life at all times. Especially at its weakest and most defenseless.

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Are Libertarians Lying about their Political Positions?

One area which libertarians pride themselves on is that they hold few positions on the issues. As such you can, in theory, be both Catholic and libertarian. You just can't force your Catholicism on others. This is very true when issues which are wholly Catholic are the focus, such as, say, confessing your sins to a priest (which is an entirely religious point). Still, libertarianism is sold to conservatives in general on other political and social questions as being without political position. One can be for example anti-abortion and still be libertarian because there is no libertarian position on abortion. It sounds good, and if it weren't for one teensy trifle we might actually accept the premise.

The trifle, you say? Well, simply that libertarians do hold positions on the issues and to truly become libertarian, you must hold those positions too.

Yes, and we say so emphatically, libertarians do hold positions on the issues. Let's use the question of abortion again. As a group, they overwhelming think a woman who wants one should be allowed to have one. This is not a neutral stance: this is being pro-abortion. It's no different than the tired liberal saw (which many if not liberals all seem to accept) which states, "I'm personally opposed, but..." If you believe that abortion should be allowable then you are in favor of it and that's you're actual position on the matter. To say anything less is disingenuous, quite frankly, and arguably deceitful.

Abortion is but one example, so there's no point running down the litany of the various political positions. Yet there is a further problem involving things such as abortion. If we as persons can't work against it through the law and remain libertarian, then libertarianism becomes noxious to the very individual it purports to admire. It asks us to give up on a very basic principle through which by surrendering we have violated our most basic and essential beliefs. It asks us to give up not only the vaunted individualism which the creed champions (a pretty obvious point when you think about it). It really asks us to give up our souls. How can we be people who believe in the dignity of others if we have no yardstick by which to grade human behavior? How can we be individual if we so decisively negate our selves?

Libertarians have positions on the issues; there could be no libertarian thought or movement if this were not true. It's time they acknowledged as much, and played fair with Right Reason and human intellect.