Friday, May 30, 2008
If only . . .
We add that we question the judgment of a person who sees moving to Canada or Italy as equivalent.
We double add that Ms. Sarandon is perhaps not aware that Italy recently elected a conservative government, led by Silvio Berlusconi, whose outrageousness as a conservative outstrips anything ever found on a Republican Party national ticket.
Perhaps Ms. Sarandon should merely drive off a cliff this coming November.
Hat tip to gentle reader "Raymond" for this tidbit.
Thursday, May 29, 2008
We continue to contemplate whether the fall 2008 semester will be the one in which we ban the laptop from our classroom. In our Tory way having tried moral exhortation ("If you use a laptop, use it carefully and sparingly") and found it impotent against the lure of the glowing screen, and still unwilling to embrace the libertarianism that allows students to do as they please and suffer the consequences, we may take a step toward benevolent fascism. For learning's sake, of course.
Friday, May 23, 2008
We mostly offer the link for consideration without comment. Well, without a lot of comment. Maybe just a couple:
- It's too much to hope that people could stop talking about Christianity and Judaism as separate and begin talking about them as the two surviving post-temple Jewish groups.
- We find ourselves discomfited by the notion of a theme park depicting the death of Jesus but less so with the well-established practice of churches doing so. It's a right-brain reaction, so we're not exactly sure why, except that churches are doing it outside the context of "fun" and provide the setting for establishment of relationships that can enable people to process the message and be integrated into the community of faith.
- We wonder what the present frontrunner for Most Embarrassing Christian,* John Hagee,** has to say about all this. And we hope we never have to find out.
OK, three comments, not counting footnotes.
*Current runner up: Rod Parsley.
**Moral on Hagee: run, do not walk, away from dispensationalism, which mishandles the Bible, distorts the gospel and continues to bring the faith into disrepute.
Cincinnati's Walnut Hills High School once again makes the list at number 56. That's second in the Midwest and first in Ohio.
We doubt that such rankings mean much except to point out yet again that it's possible to get a good education in some public schools, even one in the middle of a big city with a public school system famous for its problems.
Wednesday, May 21, 2008
Lieberman's argument, in sum, is that his party was once committed to the notion that freedom, our Republic's in particular, has enemies who must be resisted forcefully (in the literal sense). Among these Democrats were FDR, Truman and JFK. After 1968, the Ds became passive pacifists until Bill Clinton and New Democrats managed to turn matters around after twelve years in the wilderness (twenty if you count the Carter administration as wilderness for everyone). But partisan opposition to Bush has driven the whole thing back to its McGovernite past, most recently in the naive pronouncements of Barack Obama.
We add two observations. One is that the Ds have had this problem since their party quietly welcomed socialists in the 1920s and 1930s, culminating in FDR's naming Henry Wallace as his 1940 running mate and Wallace's running against Truman in 1948 after being passed over in 1944 for a second term as VP on the insistence of thoughtful Democratic Party leaders who prevailed on FDR.
The other is that no individual presently embodies this issue more starkly than Al Gore. On him, we urge the reading of James Taranto's chronicle of Lieberman's response to Taranto's question about Gore following Lieberman's speech.
Lionel Tiger, an anthropologist (!) from Rutgers, argues nicely for the social awfulness of polygamy and the complete sham that is the "theology" undergirding it for unreformed "Mormons" like the FLDS. We note some quotes that most lead us to believe that he read this blog before writing his article.
In this blow to simple decency, the Texas polygamists are not pathfinders. Multiple wives are of course permitted in the Islamic religion, and co-wives are a feature of dozens of human groups in which powerful men control sufficient resources to be able to support more than one woman.
This is usually because the societies in which they live are sharply unequal. Sex and offspring flow to those with resources.
One of the triumphs of Western arrangements is the institution of monogamy, which has in principle made it possible for each male and female to enjoy a plausible shot at the reproductive outcome which all the apparatus of nature demands. Even Karl Marx did not fully appreciate the immense radicalism of this form of equity. . . .
The victims are not only young women but young men too. They are reproductively and productively disenfranchised, and are in effect forced to leave the communities to become hopeless, ill-schooled misfits in the towns of normal life. No dignified lives as celibate monks with colorful costumes for them.
Again, the issue is cross-cultural. Osama bin Laden has at least five wives, which means that four young men of his tribe have no date on Saturday night and forever. They may become willing jihadists, or desperate suicides eager to soothe their god by killing infidels and Americans.
Elsewhere, preference for sons has meant a sharp shortage of women in China. It is known that raiding parties from there cross into bordering countries with more regular sex ratios to steal women.
Tuesday, May 20, 2008
Canada's National Post reports that Noel Keenleyside of the Leibnitz Institute for Marine Science and the Max Plank Institute of Meteorology now says that our planet will not warm at all for the next several years, though warming may begin again in 2015.
So what do we do with all those carbon offsets that we bought this year? Sell them at a garage sale? Maybe we could trade them for some thermal underwear.
"I'm still here because I think I would be the best president," said the candidate characterized of late as either indomitable or delusional. "So now it will be up to the super-duper delegates to decide."
Officials in Clinton's campaign took time from updating resumes and checking monster.com to explain, on the condition of anonymity, her remark. Super-duper delegates, they said, are rather like a combination of Greek gods, comic book super heroes, and the tooth fairy. Invisible to ordinary humans, they manifest themselves in various forms to the politically entitled. Clinton expects them this year to appear in the form of older white women in the working class.
"Senator Clinton is counting on them to show up at the convention, announce that Obama is unelectable, and hand her the nomination," said one staffer. "It's not a lot to base the campaign on, but you've got to remember that the Senator has a lot of experience with this kind of thing. You know: Gennifer Flowers, Monica Lewinsky, all that."
Monday, May 19, 2008
Gentle readers will note well that Joshua Leme is a distinguished alumnus of Cincinnati Christian University and the president of Eastern Bible Institute in Yangon. The water purification systems that he is carrying into the country were funded by International Disaster Emergency Services.
Meanwhile, donations to IDES for Myanmar relief have not been forthcoming. The IDES staff speculates that the media hasn't provided the kind of visual images that motivate giving. We also suspect that donors may not realize how readily IDES can get supplies into Myanmar despite its xenophobic military junta.
In any case, we put out the call again. Click here to give online. Send checks to:
PO Box 60
Kempton, IN 46049-0060
We think that her quasi-libertarian, John Stuart Mill-inspired analysis is problematic on two major counts.
First, she suggests that polygamy is positively enshrined in Western Civilization because it is found in the Bible. Such a reading of the Bible is utterly flawed, however. The biblical narrative begins with monogamy at the center of the ideal creation (Adam and Eve, not Adam and Eve and Gwendolyn and Sadie and Margaret). Deviations from monogamy are universally treated negatively in biblical narrative. To say it bluntly, every polygamous arrangement in the Bible has a very sad ending. Polygamy in the Bible is treated honestly as a fact of the culture, and the Mosaic Law seeks to regulate it without endorsing it, like slavery. But it is never something that is OK because Abraham or Jacob or David did it. Those dudes had nothing but problems because of it.
In sum the Bible portrays polygamy as a deviation from the divinely established norm, a consequence of unfaith and a sign of accommodation to the surrounding pagan culture, and ultimately as poison to harmonious familial relationships. Nussbaum's reading of the Hebrew Bible is miserably one-sided, reflecting a level of hermeneutical skill far below what one would expect of a tenured professor in a prestigious law school (the other kind of school besides a seminary that values interpretation as a professional skill).
Second, she doesn't do the math, and the math is enormously easy. Polygamy is problematic socially because it dooms poor men to being wifeless. Because men and women exist in nearly equal numbers, and because multiple wives cost extra money, polygamy inevitably leads to the accumulation of wives by the rich and the deprivation of marriage to poor men. Nussbaum cites with apparent approval the Mormons' 19th-century propaganda that plural marriage reduces married men's proclivity to visit prostitutes. Ignored in that equation are the men who remain unmarried because the available women have been taken into polygamous arrangements, who on the argument's assumption of unrestrained male sexual desire would be driven to the very thing that polygamy was supposed to prevent.
Note this well: SWNID hates economic arguments based on the assumption that wealth is a zero-sum game. But the marriage market is most definitely a zero-sum game. We can't increase production of women to meet the demand for plural marriage.* In the case of marriage, non-centrally controlled socialism is the social necessity. One wife per gentleman only, please! And the government has a mandate to say that, so that the liberty of all, in this case to have a chance at marriage, can be protected.
SWNID also hates slippery slope arguments, but Nussbaum does give one pause on this point. Advocates of such inventions of same-sex marriage have protested mightily when opponents have said that the innovations open the door to other arrangements, like polygamy. Well, what will the gay marriage advocates say to a prominent law professor arguing for the very thing, on related social and historical grounds?
*China is reaping a social whirlwind as its one-child policy yields a generation in which gender-selected men far outnumber women.
Sunday, May 18, 2008
Friday, May 16, 2008
Yes, Bush said in the Knesset that it's silly to think that we'll convince terrorists that they've been terribly wrong all along. And who can argue?
Well, Obama can. Not that he says it's smart to talk to terrorists, though he did say that he's willing to have direct talks with no preconditions with state sponsors of terrorism and nuclear proliferation like Iran, Syria and North Korea. He says that Bush was aiming at him and unfairly criticizing him while abroad. "Dishonest and divisive" are Obama's words, certainly not new ones in recent Democratic discourse.
The Bushies said no, the remark was about Carter, or at least that they figured people would think that they were criticizing Carter. Carter, of course, deserves all that and more. If the Knesset wanted to burn Carter in effigy, Bush would be justified in lighting the match.
But the underreported key is that Obama wants Bush to criticize him in public, as much as possible and as directly as possible.
Why? Because the primary Democratic strategy this year is to run against the one man who constitutionally can't be on the ticket for the Rs. Everything that McCain proposes is a continuation of the failed policies of George W. Bush. Every remark that Bush makes is yet another divisive, unfair slam of Obama.
The question is whether the electorate will continue to believe it in six months. If, as seems at least plausible, the economy continues to rebound and the war continues to go well, we wonder whether the efforts of the media and the Dems to portray the present as the apocalypse will remain convincing to 51% of citizens 18 or over. We don't expect people to start liking Bush. But we do wonder whether they'll think that a modified continuation of Bush is better than an unmodified reprise of Carter.
So Obama isn't being hypersensitive or self-absorbed with his response. He's being sly, keeping the Dems' most salable characteristic--we're not Dubya--in front of everyone.
The NY Times today editorializes against the farm bill that passed the House and Senate yesterday. Bush has pledged to veto it, and for good reason.
So has the insular editorial staff of the Times finally exited its echo chamber and entered reality?
The best objection to the current farm bill, indeed to farm subsidies generally, is that they perpetuate inefficiency in domestic agriculture while stifling the development of agriculture in the developing world, thereby making the whole world poorer and hungrier than it would be otherwise.
But no! The Times objects because the farm bill rewards rich farmers when agricultural prices are high. The issue for the Times has nothing to do with getting more food at cheaper prices for the world's humans. It is redistributing government largess from rich farmers to poor folk.
We find ourselves alternately indignant and exhausted by the elite public media's insanely sanctimonious posturing on such issues. The facts are so clear that our so-called Newspaper of Record seems able to look straight past them to the zero-sum myth that the primary problem is distribution of current production, not the development and distribution of means of production.
We say this to the left with a bit of SWNIDish anger: we are sick unto death of the self-righteous accusation that conservatives love the rich and hate the poor. Whether the left realizes it or not, their policies enshrine a contempt for the poor that traps them forever in a client-patron relationship that demeans their human spirit at the same time that it deprives their material existence. And the real beneficiary of all this noblesse oblige is the self-esteem of those who believe that by taking a few ducats from others and passing them out to the needy, they have saved people who are perpetually helpless.
And now a bit of SWNIDish advice: we urge thoughtful people to stop decrying the unequal distribution of wealth and start working on the unequal distribution of opportunity. Shut up about how awful it is that 0.001% of the world's population enjoys 99.99999% of the world's caviar, or whatever it is this week. Instead, get busy encouraging microfinance, supporting education, agricultural and industrial development, promoting property rights and the rule of law, and doing other things that are already lifting millions of people out of poverty worldwide.
Oh, yeah: the Times also wants better support for organic farming. Yes, ma'am! Let's feed the world by eliminating agricultural efficiency for an outcome that has no demonstrable effect on human health, devoting more acres to grow less food that produces not one smidgeon of improved nutrition. How cute!
For a thoughtful alternative to the Times's criminal ignorance, we recommend US News and Book of Lists for this week's feature article, "8 Ways to Fix the Global Food Crisis." We are less convinced than they that overcrowding of the planet is the problem, not least because rising prosperity tends to curb population growth. But most of the suggestions here expose the Times agenda in all its foolishness.
Riley appears to make a mostly-economic case for supporting immigration, and as an amateur economist, we find it completely sound. We add that welcoming immigrants is also very consistent with an enlightened approach to loving one's neighbor, a pretty important moral imperative for folks like us.
Thursday, May 15, 2008
Unfortunately—and here Feith is critical of his ultimate boss, George W. Bush—the administration allowed its critics to frame the issue around the fact that stockpiles of weapons weren't found. Here we see at work the liberal fallacy, apparent in debates on gun control, that weapons are the problem, rather than the people with the capability and will to use them to kill others. The fact that millions of law-abiding Americans have guns is not a problem; the problem is that criminals can get them and have the will to kill others. Similarly, the fact that France has WMDs is not a problem; the fact that Saddam Hussein had the capability to produce WMDs and the will to use them against us was.
In November California voters will doubtless approve an amendment to their state's constitution defining marriage in the traditional way. In the meantime, the justices have their moment to bask in their self-defined superior moral judgment. In the months in between, Californians will deal with an even more intense version of the signature social chaos of the Left Coast.
We urge readers of this blog to recognize the sobering reality that one candidate running for POTUS is pledged to appoint federal judges who exercise restraint and read the law according to its original intent. The other is committed to judicial activism, the Living Constitution, and other labels that name the kind of thing that happened today in Sacramento. Since federal judges, appointed for life, live as long as Galapagos tortoises these days, the effects of the next election will be felt for a very long time.
On the national stage John Edwards has once again shown why so many regard him as a courageous, visionary leader. Well before the outcome of the Democratic Presidential Nomination was clear, long before pundits proclaimed the nomination settled, for reasons based on the obvious policy differences between the two remaining candidates, and with no desire to reclaim a share of the limelight or even make a bid for second place on the ticket, John Edwards yesterday surprised 300 million Americans by endorsing Barack Obama.
It is reported that as many as three working-class, white, Southern Democrats who saw themselves as supporters for the self-styled working-class, white, Southern Democrat Edwards will now support Obama.
Speculation immediately turned to whether Edwards would indeed become Obama's running mate. In 2004 Edwards clearly helped John Kerry move up to a strong second-place showing nationally, well ahead of Ralph Nader, so we can expect the same in 2008.
Wednesday, May 14, 2008
- how Obama's promise of tax relief for the middle class plus massively expanded government benefits resembles the claim to have any cheese that one can name in the classic Monty Python cheese shop sketch.
- how the Democrats' attitude toward military power resembles Eric Idle's paranoia about being attacked by someone with a pointed stick in the classic Monty Python self-defense course sketch.
Recommended comments: other political parallels to Python (must include the word "classic" to qualify).
This remark speaks through the ages to two current political dramas: Hillary's refusal to quit, and Mark Dann's refusal to quit. Both speak volumes about the endemic disarray of the Party of Jackson.
In August 1974, a delegation from Congress, led by the esteemed senior Republican Senator Barry Goldwater, visited embattled President Nixon to tell him that with the revelations of the Oval Office tapes that he had participated in a conspiracy to cover up the Watergate break-in, his support from congressional Republicans was gone. Consequently, he resigned immediately, specifically citing his loss of congressional support as the proximate cause. The Republic was spared paralyzing impeachment proceedings precisely because Republicans had the modicum of principle and the power of influence to prevail upon a President of their party who had won a landslide reelection two years before.
Today there is no such Democrat who from a stature of integrity and statesmanship can speak to someone of Mark Dann's stature, let alone Hillary Clinton's, and get that person to accept reality for the good of the party, let alone the Republic.
We less stridently make a further point. We seriously doubt that those Democrats who knew Mark Dann prior to his election as Ohio's attorney general only recently discovered that he lives like a frat boy. We know for sure that lots of Ds understood Hillary Clinton's narcissistic, unprincipled ruthlessness after her decades of public life filled with financial scandals, character assassination, and other acts of self-serving shadiness. Those people never spoke up, publicly or privately (at least to any effect) to dissuade either these candidates or their potential supporters from electoral quests that by the hour are proving more and more damaging to their party's dignity and political prospects.
Granted that scoundrels are hard to identify preemptively and, when the scoundrels are talented, harder still to dislodge from power, we note this phenomenon as another disturbing indicator of the gutlessness of FDR's heirs. These sorry sagas would not have happened in Truman's day.
Ms. Dixon's article articulates the statistical fact that there is no evidence of economic discrimination against homosexuals and her theological conclusion that the created order makes heterosexual behavior the norm. Along the way she notes examples of individuals who have abandoned homosexual behavior because of religious conviction and conversion. (We SWNIDishly affirm her articulation of the entire issue, for what it's worth.)
The university says that someone who holds these views cannot possibly treat employees fairly. So she's outta there, summarily fired in a work environment where the norm is perpetual employment regardless of productivity or proclivity.
The University of Toledo, one of thirteen public universities in the state of Ohio, is acting in a way that confirms what everyone seems to know about higher education but few in higher education will acknowledge: that most institutions are committed not to freedom of thought but to the dogma of the political left, and so their greatest hostility is reserved for people who think in ways that adhere to Christian orthodoxy, commonly labeled as retrograde, ignorant superstition or pathology.
Elsewhere, the University of Colorado is embroiled in controversy over the appointment of a professor of conservative thought. The established left at what is doubtless one of the most politically and socially liberal public universities on the planet decries the deliberate inclusion of a conservative. Conservatives, nearly all by definition outside the university, decry the inclusion of a labeled "conservative" as if such a creature were on display in a freak show. Then there's the question as to whether the occupant of the chair will hold conservative views or merely "study conservatives," which is to say treat them as freakish advocates of retrograde, ignorant superstition and pathology.
Meanwhile, Wheaton's careful and principled receiving of the resignation, per clear internal policies, of a professor who is divorcing and who refuses to let the circumstances of his divorce be reviewed is still the object of publicity, though in yesterday's WSJ it was positive publicity. What's positive, of course, is that Wheaton is not acting like Toledo. Wheaton makes no pretense of welcoming all points of view. It tells its people in advance where it stands. At Toledo and other public and secular private universities, everyone knows what the orthodoxies are but no one will say them clearly as matters of policy, pretending all the while to welcome diverse opinions while systematically excluding the Christian ones.
SWNID normally eschews whining about such matters, which are facts of life in this present, evil age. But some examples are just too extreme to ignore. The senior administration of the University of Toledo could not have acted in a way that more clearly confirms the unspoken reality of higher education. The folks at Boulder are more subtle but no less uncritical or even unaware of their own subculture and how it shapes their behavior.
Monday, May 12, 2008
We're here quietly to report that aid can get through by other means, not reported by the MSM. Christians in Myanmar have developed sophisticated, effective means of transporting Bibles, Christian literature and other supplies into the country. Those Christians are now ready to do the same with rice, water purification systems, plastic sheeting for temporary roofs, medicines, clothing and the like.
And as gentle readers fulfill their generous impulses to help, we recommend again that they do so through International Disaster Emergency Services. IDES is already sending funds to on-the-ground Christians who can have immediate and long-term impact.
Here's a link to recent info from IDES on what's already going on. As a member of the board of directors, we assure gentle readers that this is just the start. Folks connected to IDES are finishing up work that other organizations abandoned or never really started in other disaster spots. The same can be expected in Myanmar.
To give to IDES online via a secure web site, follow the instructions here.
To give the old-fashioned way, send a check to:
PO Box 60
Kempton, IN 46049-0060
And check the link above for updates on the situation in Myanmar.
Sunday, May 11, 2008
Actually, there must be some more, since the Senator isn't counting Alaska and Hawaii. So maybe New York City and Chicago will be divided from Upstate New York and Downstate Illinois respectively. What else is in the offing? Mexico?
We're gonna need a bigger flag.
Friday, May 09, 2008
On the left, Truman had alienated the pinkish, socialist Ds with his confrontation of the Soviets after the close of WWII. Those folks ran Henry Wallace, FDR's VP in his third term, finding Truman's anticommunism repugnant.*
Elsewhere (but it's not the right, as racism is in fact alien to conservatism), the segregationists of the solidly Democratic South were incensed by Truman's integration of the armed forces.** They ran South Carolina Senator Strom Thurmond (who later switched to the Republican Party that embraced a mild form of segregationist rhetoric in 1968) to punish Truman for stepping away from segregationist orthodoxy.
Truman, of course, managed somehow to win, having been expected to lose to Republican nominee Thomas Dewey, a popular governor of New York who had given FDR a decent challenge in 1944. His blend of populist rhetoric, anticommunism, folksy charm, unimpeachable integrity and political energy proved irresistible to the mainstream of American voters.
On Wednesday, remarking that hard-working folk and white folk would prefer to vote for her than Obama, Hillary Clinton evoked memories of Strom Thurmond. It remains to be seen whether she or her party will ever pay for this awful revival of everything that is worst about the political party that Lincoln didn't belong to. If recent history is any predictor of the near future, the answer is no. Latent racism in the Democratic Party is still largely eclipsed by the Republicans' adoption of the so-called "southern strategy" in 1968, a legacy that continues to hinder their wider demographic appeal.
In this comparison between 2008 and 1948, what strikes us is the absence of a figure like Truman among the Democrats. There has been no vigorous internationalist and economic moderate among the Ds. Indeed, there hasn't been one on the national scene (though locally they do seem to survive) in decades.
While it would be unfair to say that Obama, or virtually any recent Democrat, is as hospitable to socialism as Henry Wallace and his menagerie of Trotskyites, Obama is certainly more a man of the conventional left than the mainstream middle. What record of legislation Obama has and what specifics of policy proposals he lays forth are all the predictable, dreary, oft-proved-to-be-self-defeating positions in the heritage of Eugene McCarthy, George McGovern (now an Obama supporter, as if anyone wanted his support), Walter Mondale, Tom Daschele, Nancy Pelosi and Henry Waxman.
To put it differently, Obama is clearly to the left of where Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton governed. The blood runs cold at the thought.
As to Obama's being the post-racial candidate, Hillary has now spoiled that celebration, with unfortunate help from Jeremiah Wright.
*Democratic party leaders, the guys now derided as inhabiting the "smoke-filled room," forced FDR to accept Truman as running mate because they expected FDR to die in office and believed that Wallace would be awful for the country as President. Those were the days!
**Truman in his personal life expressed the conventional racism of his time, using racial and ethnic slurs and stereotypes and enjoying racist jokes. Yet he had the courage, principle and vision to integrate the armed forces. That impresses us all the more.
Wednesday, May 07, 2008
Tuesday, May 06, 2008
Age has not treated the film kindly as far as clarity is concerned, but we enjoyed viewing so many old friends when they weren't so ... well ... settled in life.
Our thanks to the esteemed brothers Vance for making this film available.
So does anyone know if Paul Brunsman (a.k.a. the Eisenstein of the Restoration Movement) has YouTubed the "Luther" films yet?
Apologies to gentle readers who aren't part of this little subculture. We won't occupy the blog regularly with nostalgia.
Monday, May 05, 2008
For less-alert gentle readers: SWNID doesn't equate capitalist acquisitiveness with virtue, though we do think that a bit of this perspective is a needed antidote to the equation of anti-capitalism with virtue.