Saturday, August 30, 2008

So Trade Him to a Team That's Already Retired the Number 85

Chad Johnson has legally changed his surname to Ocho Cinco.

Next up: Berkeley Premium Nutraceuticals founder Steve Warshak legally changes his name to Smilin' Bob.

More Palin

Inexperience? Some of our gentle readers believe that McCain's Palin pick disarms his attack on Obama's inexperience. We think that it keeps the issue on the table in several ways, albeit not with monochromatic clarity, while nicely putting other high cards on the table:
  • Dems can't talk about Palin's inexperience because they've claimed Obama's is a matter of no consequence.
  • Palin has loads of unconventional experience: as a mom, a partner with her husband in the fishing industry, an officer in local education and local government (i.e. a "community organizer" with an actual organization) and--even if briefly--as an executive in government in a state where government is a very big deal. On that last category, she's the only person on a major party ticket with any executive experience of any kind. When she says that she knows the environment, oil and education, we pity the fool who tries to challenge her.
  • Her political record in Alaska so far is remarkable. If the vote is on potential, hers rivals the potent potential of Obama and highlights the proven political impotence of Biden.
  • In debate, if Biden, not the most sensitive of politicians, attacks her, he'll inevitably look mean and stupid, especially because she seems to be temperamentally unflappable and articulate and so will likely respond with grace and clarity.
  • On the stump, if Obama or any of his surrogates tries to attack her, they'll look even meaner and more desperate than will Biden.
  • Every time a Democrat makes sneering reference to the obvious fact that instead of being a seasoned politician with a national reputation, she's an attractive, married woman with five kids, they'll confirm what Republicans have said for a generation: that liberals really loath women. Do we all remember how utterly uncouth Biden appeared when, in his first speech after being named Obama's mate, he moaned that Mrs. Biden is "drop-dead gorgeous" and then tried to recover by saying that her doctoral degree "is a problem"? Dude, SWNID knows the boundaries of sarcasm better than you do, which makes you utterly pathetic.
  • So much for Obama running against Washington. McCain's got the farthest-from-Washington candidate ever: the governor who refused to spend the appropriated federal swag for the Bridge to Nowhere. Best line so far: If Alaska needs a bridge, we'll build it ourselves. Nice.
Religion? Wikipedia reports that Governor Palin is a member of the Assemblies of God. Religion blog, helpfully maintained by the Dallas Morning News, notes that she's kept her faith well in the background in her rhetoric, while clearly taking positions--publicly and privately--that are informed by it. It's also a matter of long-standing: Palin seems to have made her faith her own in high school, leading FCA activities while a standout point guard for the state championship high school basketball team. We venture the assertion that Palin will not only be the first Pentecostal on a major-party national ticket but also the first candidate in the post-Carter era to handle the question of religious faith with proper perspective, which is to say clearly guided by her faith but unwilling to flaunt it as an appeal to voters. She obviously won't need to make the kind of awkward public confession that some think will satisfy evangelicals (remember Giuliani's "Jesus is my personal savior"?) and is disinclined to fire up the base with the myth of Christian nationhood and such.

We'll say what's needless for the sheer pleasure of saying it: we really like how as a politician she's handled her faith.

And so? A day later, we still really like this pick. Palin gives McCain a better shot (no basketball or hunting reference intended). As Bill Kristol has been saying and many now agree, Sarah Palin is such a real, regular person, other real people, especially of the female persuasion, who are inclined to vote on their sense of personal identification with the candidate, are going to get a brighter green light to try the GOP one more time. This is more than a matter of being a mom with roots that remain in the middle class. By a wide margin Palin passes the barbecue test: which candidate would you most like to invite over for a backyard cookout?

Even in the case of an Obama victory, still the likely outcome in November, McCain has promoted the next generation of Republicans to prominence. If McCain loses in '08 or retires in '12, in the next presidential election the Republicans will largely be the party of Palin, Jindal, Portman and other young lions. By 2016, should McCain win two terms, the party will be fully in the hands of that generation.

It's worth noting that Palin-Jindal Republicans came of age in the Reagan era. They know how to be happy, courageous, conservative warriors. They won't need to brand their conservatism as "compassionate" because they'll assert its compassion naturally. From their youth they can also personally remember how disastrous are the policies that still find a hearing in what was once the party of Jefferson. They can tell the millennials that as far as higher taxes, federal subsidies and isolationist foreign policy are concerned, there's no reason to replay That 70s Show.

The young GOP will be what Palin and Jindal embody: enemies of corruption, proponents of economic growth, sensible about natural resources, scourges of high taxes, advocates of a vigorous foreign policy and strong military, quiet protectors of traditional values. And if they can extinguish the sinister influence of anti-immigration demagogues, they'll be ethnically diverse.

In sum: This will be the most interesting campaign since 1980. And the Dems can forget about creating a generation of political dominance like what they had from 1932 to 1994. The GOP is proving it can learn and adapt. Meanwhile, the Ds sound exactly as they have in every election since 1984. When Barack Obama leads them while Harold Ford, Jr. is on the sidelines, the Democrats remain the party of Henry Wallace rather than Harry Truman, as they have since 1972.

Friday, August 29, 2008

On Political Cliches

David Brooks today weaves together a marvelous tapestry of political cliches in his Gray Lady opinion piece. It's worth a read for a nice chuckle.

What's funniest is that the Times's sophisticated readership seems deaf to the reality that he is lampooning not Obama so much as current political speechmaking.

We figure he'll do something similar after the RNC, much to the disappointment of the Obamaniacs who presently scorn his lack of esteem for their Chosen One. And we'd like to see what Brooks could write after listening to some sermons in evangelical churches.

The Palin Pick

We're back. Maybe.

We think we like McCain's pick of Sarah Palin. It has elements of brilliance, though it's not without dangers.

We observe first that McCain clearly understands that his road to the WH is through the HCBEs (Hillary Clinton Bitter Enders). Palin is well matched to him politically and balances his age. Because she’s not a national figure, she’s mostly untainted by association with the national Republican brand.

The danger is that she’s relatively inexperienced, blunting the main rap against Obama, and that she’s an Alaska Republican, where corruption is a way of life. However, she’s at least an antiestablishment Alaska Republican.

She will be able to hammer Obama mercilessly on the issue of life. The youngest of her five children is a Downs citizen.

And McCain's timing is most excellent. Does anyone remember that Obama made a historic speech last night?

Friday, August 22, 2008

Prayer Service at CCU

For those who wanted to share in the prayer service at CCU yesterday but were unable to attend, here's the best treatment of it that we've seen from the news media:

Thursday, August 21, 2008

The Tragedy at Cincinnati Christian University

All members of the Cincinnati Christian University family are united in support of Dr. Jodie Edwards, her husband, Chris and their family and friends in this awful time of grief. The death of Jenna is a profound tragedy that has broken everyone’s heart.

Dr. Edwards is an esteemed colleague on the Cincinnati Christian University faculty. She is a brilliant thinker, accomplished scholar, caring clinician and beloved teacher. But more than that, she is a loving, devoted wife and mother. We affirm our deep love and respect for her as a fellow professor, friend and sister in Christ as she grieves with her husband, family and friends. This terrible accident is more than the heart can bear or words can express.

As followers of Jesus Christ, we rely moment by moment on his grace and mercy. We believe in what the Apostle Paul called “the peace that passes all understanding” and the one whom he called “the God of all comfort.” We ask the public to join us in praying for God’s peace and comfort for Jodie, Chris and their family.

Thursday, August 07, 2008

Why Buy That When This Is Free?

As the third anniversary of this blog nears, we note the publication of this book and ask ourselves why anyone would pay $24.95 (or even $18.21 plus shipping) when SWNID is free and by definition much more rarely wrong.

SWNID Endorses Visual Arts

This blog doesn't often deal with the visual arts, but today we make a belated exception, directing gentle readers to a short interview with our favorite living painter, Martina Nehrling.

We think that Martina's paintings prove that abstract art can be interesting and joyous, and we're in favor of both.

Update: Criswell College Prez Resigns

The Dallas Morning News reports that Criswell College president Jerry Johnson has resigned over his dispute with the leadership of First Baptist Church of Dallas. Given the public nature of the dispute, such is hardly surprising.

In the world of higher education, issues of "governance," i.e. who controls what, are massive. Criswell's situation is classic in that regard.

Without insider knowledge of anything, SWNID will not be surprised if the college becomes a unit of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, migrates to or near that institution's main campus, and relinquishes control of its current property to the church.

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Brits Go French, And for What?

The UK Times (hat tip: BryanD) reports that British soldiers didn't engage in the Battle of Basra because they'd made a secret deal with Moqtada al-Sadr to stay out of Basra.

And now, the infamous al-Sadr is planning to tell his militia to disband.

This means that
  • once our Republic's most reliable military allies, the Brits now look like paper tigers.
  • the importance of American military power for global stability is once again evident.
  • calls from the left for our Republic to engage a more international consensus now look extremely fishy.

Note this well: the Iraqi central government and its American allies took back Iraq, including Basra, with essentially no contribution from the second largest foreign force in Iraq (not counting Iran, of course, since they're not there officially and fight on the wrong side).

Senator Obama, are you listening?

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

The Russian Prophet

Belatedly we acknowledge the passing of Alexander Solzhenitsyn by adding his masterful novel One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich to the SWNID Fiction Club. This disturbing, hopeful narrative of life in the gulag ought to be read by all literate people.

The great writer's insight into the human condition rivaled the great Russians Dostoyevski and Tolstoy. His courage to confront his totalitarian masters put him in an altogether different category. Both characteristics were nurtured by his robust Russian Orthodox Christian faith.

Of the tributes to Solzhenitsyn, none has surpassed the one in today's WSJ, most especially because the editors also included a most compelling excerpt from Solzhenitsyn's infamous Harvard commencement address in 1978. One could perhaps call it the opening salvo in the conservative insurrection against Western materialistic liberalism. That a man could be at once the victim of concentration camp horrors, a writer of singular prowess, a believer in the risen Christ, a mortal enemy of communism, a critic of the vacuous culture of the West, and an advocate for vigorous military action to protect the world's people from totalitarianism was at once amazing and at the same time completely logical.

Monday, August 04, 2008

First Baptist Church of Dallas Versus Criswell College

The Dallas Morning News reports that Criswell College's president has gone public with a feud between the college and the pastor of First Baptist Church of Dallas, who by charter is chancellor of the college. The issue is whether college assets can be transferred to the church for a building program. The church's pastor insists that nothing of the kind is afoot.

And so it goes.

Such affairs depress SWNID. Glad that we are not a Baptist and do not serve a college with enough financial assets for anyone to lobby for a transfer, we are still overwhelmingly sad that the predominant mode of Christian behavior still tends to be Corinthian.

Saturday, August 02, 2008

Stupid Conservatives?

Per much mediaspeak, the following individuals were or are stupid: Ronald Reagan, George H. W. Bush, George W. Bush.

Per the same mediaspeak, the following individuals were or are brilliant: Al Gore, John Kerry.

For a delicious refutation of the same, see the excerpt from Peter Schweizer's new book, Makers and Takers at National Post.* Schweizer tidily points out that political conservatives aren't stupider than political liberals by any objective measure except the assumption that they must be, which of course is not an objective measure.

We delight in this piece for two reasons.

First, because we are tired of reminding people that Nobel laureate Al Gore flunked out of Vanderbilt Divinity School, something that we barely imagined possible for any person who inhabits planet earth and can pay tuition.

Second, because the same applies to theology, where it is commonly assumed that the orthodox are stupid (meaning ignorant, fearful, and secretly evil) and the revisionists intelligent (meaning insightful, honest and brave).

So, the left is truly stuck on stupid.
* Who would expect such from a Canadian publication?

Friday, August 01, 2008

Proving Obama Can Be Laughed At

That is, if you're a Brit.

For those who haven't seen it, here is the satirical description of Obama's World Tour from Gerald Baker, USA editor of the UK Times.

NASA's Faith-Based Mars Probe

The Martian lander Phoenix has confirmed that the Martian soil contains water.

At one level, this is unsurprising. The nearest planet to Mars, the one Nancy Pelosi is so busy saving, has loads of water. Water is a stable compound derived from molecules of the universe's most common element and one of its most reactive.

So why the great interest?

At one time earthlings might have been interested in Martian water for the prospect of their sending some of their own species there to live. Today, however, the interest is related to the discovery of life on other planets.

SWNID is interested in the epistemic leap involved in such studies. Though it's nearly impossible to imagine "life as we know it" on a waterless Mars, there are a few thousand of thousands of other conditions that would have to obtain for life ever to have had a chance of existing there.

Meanwhile, the standard theistic arguments have existed and been refined for centuries, offering excellent warrant for believing in someone we like to call God.

Amazingly, for many outstanding thinkers of our age, it is unreasonable to accept such well-developed warrant for belief in God, but reasonable to imagine that some bits of frost under the Martian dust should prompt serious, expensive consideration that life once existed on that forbidding hunk of minerals.

We conclude that belief in God, though having exponentially better warrant than belief in extraterrestrial life, is perceived as exponentially more costly than belief in extraterrestrial life, though the search for extraterrestrial life costs thousands of millions of ducats.