Sunday, June 29, 2008

Popular Moral Philosophy

A friend of mine works in IT. His department sends out email notices of things that they are going to do -- shut down servers, install patches etc. But what is remarkable in these dull departmental emails is the inspirational messages they place at the bottom. This is the "wisdom" that they think (do they even think?) will produce a more productive workforce for tomorrow:

Your mind knows only some things. Your inner voice, your instinct, knows everything. If you listen to what you know instinctively, it will always lead you down the right path. -- Henry Winkler

Understand that the right to choose your own path is a sacred privilege. Use it. Dwell in possibility. -- Oprah Winfrey

So if my inner voice (essentially my feelings) tells me that I should key the boss's car, smash my co-worker in the face or sleep with a subordinate who is perhaps even a young intern, I have chosen "the right path."

Dwell in that possibility.

At some, but sadly very few, colleges and universities, we are thinking seriously about what "citizenship" in the moral sense of the word entails in a liberal democracy, and thus what kind of citizen character is required in order to sustain a free and decent society. Henry, Oprah, and the tragically miseducated managers in this fellow's IT department somewhat miss the mark.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Both Sides of Liberty in Albania

This is something I did not see in Albania when I visited last month. The New York Times reports today (for some reason presenting it as "world news"):
Pashe Keqi recalled the day nearly 60 years ago when she decided to become a man. She chopped off her long black curls, traded in her dress for her father’s baggy trousers, armed herself with a hunting rifle and vowed to forsake marriage, children and sex.

What's the fuss? Women do this all the time in America. Ironically, it's called "feminism." (There! I've said it!) Hold on, There's more.
For centuries, in the closed-off and conservative society of rural northern Albania, swapping genders was considered a practical solution for a family with a shortage of men. Her father was killed in a blood feud, and there was no male heir. By custom, Ms. Keqi, now 78, took a vow of lifetime virginity. She lived as a man, the new patriarch, with all the swagger and trappings of male authority — including the obligation to avenge her father’s death.

So this custom represents not a confusion of the respective roles of men and women in the natural order of things, but a recognition and affirmation of them. Of course, like all things, the particular cultural expression of that natural order is twisted and perverted by sin. “Back then," says Keqi, "it was better to be a man because, before, a woman and an animal were considered the same thing.”

In the Bible itself, we see this twisting of the created order between Genesis 2 and Genesis 3. Eve is given to Adam as his "suitable helper" (Gen. 2:20 NIV) or "help meet" (KJV). Adam was to govern his home with a righteousness that mirrored the character of God himself (Gen. 1:26) in the larger enterprise of governing the creation (Gen. 1:28). Sin changed that beautiful moral economy. When announcing the curses on the serpent, then on Eve, and then on Adam (last, on account of his ultimate responsibility), God said, "Your desire will be for your husband, and he will rule over you." God here announces the effect that sin will have on those previously godly relationships between the sexes.

By "desire," he does not refer to romantic attraction. In the next chapter, God uses the same Hebrew word when he warns Cain against sin that wishes to dominate him: "If you do not do well, sin is crouching at the door. Its desire is for you, but you must rule over it" (Gen. 4:7). Wives will want to dominate their husbands, and husbands, in their own particular perversity, will want to rule their wives brutally.

Again Miss Keqi: “Now, Albanian women have equal rights with men, and are even more powerful."

It seems that the Albanians, so eager to embrace American liberty, are following us also in exchanging one perversion for another in the relations between the sexes.

(To see the pictures of these female patriarchs, you have to go to the NYT story, "Albanian Custom Fades: Woman as Family Man.")

Sunday, June 22, 2008

It's the Price of Gas, Stupid!

I just filled up my Honda Odyssey here on Long Island...$71! Gas is not just over $4 a gallon. That was a few weeks ago. At $4.23, it is now well over $4 and heading swiftly toward $5. The candidate who squarely and convincingly addresses this issue will be the next President of the United States. It's as simple as that.

Message to John McCain. Do not just concede that drilling is likely okay now. Call for drilling and make a big point of it.

In fact, call for rapid expansion of our nuclear and oil refinery capacity as well. The last time a license was issued for building a nuclear power plant was 1973. That was 35 years ago. Actually McCain has recently said that he wants 45 new reactors by 2030 to supplement the 104 that currently supply 20% of our national electricity needs (New York Times 6/19/08). In 2005, the Christian Science Monitor reported, "In 1981, the US had 324 refineries with a total capacity of 18.6 million barrels per day, the Department of Energy reports. Today, there are just 132 oil refineries with a capacity of 16.8 million b.p.d., according to Oil and Gas Journal, a trade publication." In real terms, the economy has tripled in size since then.

If John McCain hammers at this issue unrelentingly and with passion ("American Energy Means Prosperity and Security"), and if Obama's high principles and tender conscience (and powerful environmentalist lobby) will not allow him to soften his stern opposition to these measures, the Republicans will win the White House in November.

Charles Krauthammer, "McCain's Oil Epiphany" (Washington Post, June 20, 2008), is puzzled by McCain's half measures on nuclear plants and utterly perplexed over his refusal to support drilling in the 0.01% of the Arctic National Wildlife Reserve (ANWR) that contains those billions of barrels of oil.

Paul Krugman thinks drilling, whether off-shore or in ANWR, will have an insignificant impact on oil prices, even in the long run, and that the suggestion that it will is a con. Keep it up, Paul.

Michael Barone suggests that the Democrats have their heads buried deep in the sands of unreality, not only on this issue but also on the war in Iraq ("The Facts in Iraq Are Changing"). Even the Washington Post is telling them to wake up on Iraq. When a candidate, Obama in this case (for ideological reasons, perhaps also for party political reasons), is stuck on a major narrative that is years out of date and the obsolescence of which most voters can see plainly, it is hard to imagine that he could win the election.

Friday, June 20, 2008

The Obama Puzzle

Today, David Brooks describes "Two Obamas" that he sees in the Democratic presumptive nominee: Dr. Barack, "the high-minded, Niebuhr-quoting speechifier who spent this past winter thrilling the Scarlett Johansson set and feeling the fierce urgency of now," and Fast Eddie Obama, "the promise-breaking, tough-minded Chicago pol who’d throw you under the truck for votes." He sees hope in the tough Chicago pol side both for moderating the liberal political principles and for dealing with foreign bad guys.

I have recently found these two quotes from Obama challenging.

Obama on religion (even Christian religion!) in politics:

Secularists are wrong when they ask believers to leave their religion at the door before entering into the public square. Frederick Douglass, Abraham Lincoln, William Jennings Bryan, Dorothy Day, Martin Luther King – indeed, the majority of great reformers in American history – were not only motivated by faith but repeatedly used religious language to argue for their cause. To say that men and women should not inject their 'personal morality' into public policy debates is a practical absurdity. Our law is by definition a codification of morality, much of it grounded in the Judeo-Christian tradition

Obama on the war against Islamofascism:
The terrorists are at war with us. The threat is from violent extremists who are a small minority of the world's 1.3 billion Muslims, but the threat is real. They distort Islam. They kill man, woman, and child; Christian and Hindu, Jew and Muslim. They seek to create a repressive caliphate. To defeat this enemy, we must understand who we are fighting against, and what we are fighting for.

John Kerry would never have said these things.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Damage Limitation for an Obama White House

Two items of interest. One anticipates a natural limit on the damage a President Obama could do economically, and the other sees a possibility of light in a President Obama tunnel.

Brian Wesbury in "Change We Can Believe in is All Around Us" (Wall Street Journal, June 11, 2008), argues that on account of the lightening fast speed with which economic data is available today, the unintended consequences of a foolish economic policy become painfully but quickly apparent to the American electorate who in turn make their displeasure painfully known to elected officials.

Decades ago the feedback mechanism was slow. The unintended consequences of the New Deal took too long to show up in the economy. As a result, by the time the pain was publicized, the connection to misguided government policy could not be made. Today, in the midst of Internet Time, this is no longer a problem. So, despite protestations from staff at the White House, most people understand that food riots in foreign lands and higher prices at U.S. grocery stores are linked to ethanol subsidies in the U.S., which have sent shock waves through the global system. This is the good news. Policy mistakes will be ferreted out very quickly. As a result, any politician who attempts to change things will be blamed for the unintended consequences right away.

Bruce Bartlett explains how various neocons and libertarians are viewing Obama with hope in "Mr. Right? The Rise of the Obamacons" (The New Republic, June 25, 2008).

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

The Unity of All Religions

America is a notoriously religious country. It is also a religiously diverse country. One would think, therefore, that it would be a country of either pervasive religious strife or pervasive religious nominalism. But while there is much nominal religion in America, there is also a lot of religion that takes its own particular claims, traditions and practices very seriously. The role of religious liberty in maintaining both religious health and social peace simultaneously is a topic for another time. There are many who suggest, however, that syncretism or focusing on what is common to all religions is the remedy for human conflict that is traceable to religion. But that is no religion at all. It solves the tension between religion and peace by eliminating religion while only seeming to preserve it.

The Bahá'í Temple near Frankfurt, Germany
illustrates the unity of religions in symbolic symmetry
with its nine sides representing the nine major world religions.

I saw an example of this in Albania when I was visiting that country this spring. On account of the country’s Ottoman history, it is largely Muslim. But on account of its Byzantine history before that, it has a significant Eastern Orthodox population, and also many Roman Catholics. Albania’s communist dictator for forty years, Enver Hoxha (pronounced hoja), not only smashed Islam in Albania, but also reduced all of Illyria’s religions to cowering co-religionists. As a result, Albanian religion is all quite nominal. In a New Life Institute seminar on the value of religion for democracy at which I spoke, a “Muslim” and a “Christian” in the audience gave separate accounts of the essential unity of all religions, at least the monotheistic ones, and held—as though it were a truism—that this is the basis on which we can all finally get along peacefully and have our religion too.

But what if what is most important in religion is not what they share in common, but what distinguishes them? What if what is most profoundly significant is what is unique in each one? That, after all, is how the religious themselves view their own religions, at least when they have religion chiefly in view. People who view it otherwise are those more concerned about peace among men than about peace with God.

Isn’t it always what is unique and distinguishing that is of greatest human importance? Whatever is common merely directs us to it. If we were to recognize only what is common to all human beings, friendship would be impossible. And it is only in friendship—that attachment of one’s own particular soul to another particular soul in all its particularity—that humanity is most profoundly understood and cherished. A tyrant, for example, has no concern for humanity. A tyrant has no friends.

A critic of my position would perhaps cite medicine as an important human practice and source of well being that is premised on an understanding of what is common to all human beings—the circulation of blood, the structure of the cell, the arrangement of organs. Yet if doctors did not recognize and take seriously the distinguishing characteristics of particular bodies, diagnosis and cure would be impossible. There would be no remedy for our very particular sufferings.

Returning to religion and the source of our greatest well being, consider that God became man to remedy sin. But in so doing, he became a particular man at a particular time to redeem particular men, women, and children. Abstraction has an essential role in understanding religion, as it does in understanding anything. But you can’t understand Christianity without appreciating its uniquely gracious character and the defining role of the necessarily particular savior, the Lord Jesus Christ.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Now the AIDS Truth Can be Told

Who would have guessed it? Turns out the world-wide hysteria whipped up starting in the 1980's about the threat to heterosexuals from an AIDS pandemic was...a flat out lie. And almost everyone who knew anything about it knew it was a lie. Kevin De Cock--I'm not making that up--who has headed up the world-wide effort to fight AIDS for the widely admired UN, now admits what most of us knew all along--it is a disease that threatens only high-risk groups--homosexual men, drug users, and prostitutes, and these mainly in poor African countries. Brendan O'Neill in the UK Guardian newspaper lays it out straight:

It is time to recognise that the Aids scare was one of the most distorted, duplicitous and cynical public health panics of the past 30 years. Instead of being treated as a sexually transmitted disease that affected certain high-risk communities, and which should be vociferously tackled by the medical authorities, the "war against Aids" was turned into moral crusade.

Yes, and an extremely profitable moral crusade, both in terms of putting traditional morality back on its heels and advancing the notion that sexually transmitted diseases can happen to anyone, but almost as importantly, as a lever for prying billions out of Western, mainly American, taxpayers' hands.

And guess what--when something works for you, you stick with it. Anyone want to bet that twenty years from now we'll be getting a similar admission about the distortions, duplicity, and cynicism of the moral crusade mounted by the global climate alarmists? But not until after--funny how this works-- they've prised hundreds of billions from Western publics unable to defend themselves from duplicitous and cynical politicians, eager in their devotion to the new morality to punish us for our immoral excesses. Oh, and to direct all that taxpayer largess to the new winners in life's lottery.

The Shadow Descending Across Canada

In case any Canadian readers missed the little note of invitation that I added to the previous post as an afterthought, I reproduce it here. (You can follow up on the petition pictured above at

I said: Canadian readers, I want to hear from you. Let me know what you are reading on this, what you are hearing from the people around you (especially from the right thinking ones), and what you make of it yourself. Pass this along to a friend.

By the way, how much reflection is there upon the words of the national anthem in this context? What does "free" mean? Does it just mean "not American" and "no longer British?" What does it mean to "stand on guard?" Is it anything more than being ready to render service in the military if called upon to do so? Is vigilance over this violation of free speech recognized by anything more than a fringe minority as "true patriot love?"

If Steyn loses, then Canada is as "free" as East Germany was "democratic" and a "republic." The noble and free spirits north of the border will need to start advocating regional separation. Start in the west. If you remain stuck to Ontario, you'll be dragged into the darkness which Canadians seem philosophically and religiously helpless to oppose.

In 1965, George Grant published his Lament for a Nation. He didn't know the half of it.

Follow the "Mark Steyn" label beneath this post for other Steyn related posts.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Steyn's Thoughtcrime in Canada

For many years now, I have been telling Americans why I prefer to remain in the United States and breathe the atmosphere of freedom. In America, there is a battle raging between, on one side, the defenders of the Founders' understanding of liberty that is bequeathed to us in our Constitution and, on the other side, advocates of post-modern, progressive statism. But in Canada, there is only the political correctness of the left, and everything else is thoughtcrime.

We are seeing the truth of this claim played out in the Star Chambers of the British Columbia and Canadian Human Rights Commissions where columnist Mark Steyn is on trial for "hate crimes." Read Rich Lowry's "Mark Steyn: Enemy of the State?"

The Canadian Islamic Congress took offense at an excerpt in Maclean's magazine, the premiere Canadian news magazine, from Steyn's book America Alone. ("The Future Belongs to Islam.")

"Canada's Human Rights Act defines hate speech as speech 'likely to expose a person or persons to hatred or contempt.' The language is so capacious and vague that to be accused is tantamount to being found guilty." Truth is no defense.

"The national commission has never found anyone innocent in 31 years."

One of the principal investigators of the Canadian Human Rights Commission said, "Freedom of speech is an American concept, so I don't give it any value."

Tony Blankley mentions the Steyn case in the course of discussing the Muslim assault on liberty in "Rising Euro-Muslim Tensions."
But radicalized Islam places little value on the individual, while holding up for supreme value the interests of the group, particularly their view of the group called Islam. And it is this aggressive, assertive insistence by radicalized Muslims in the West to subordinate our inherent rights to their collective demands that slowly and more or less quietly is forcing Westerners to take sides in the radicals' demands.

Americans are fighting and dying to establish liberty in the Middle East, and yet this sort of thing is going on in the country immediately to our north.

And on this side of the border, not all is well. In his column, "Political Viagra," Steyn reflects on what Barack Obama recently said are his hopes for America after he is elected. "My friends, we live in the greatest nation in the history of the world. I hope you'll join with me as we try to change it." Of course, if America is the greatest nation in the world, why would you change it? Never mind. Steyn's concern is this: "Speaking personally, I don't want to remake America. I'm an immigrant and one reason I came here is because most of the rest of the western world remade itself along the lines Senator Obama has in mind. This is pretty much the end of the line for me. If he remakes America, there's nowhere for me to go...."

As a fellow Canadian immigrant to this land of liberty, I share that position, and I lament for my nation.

P.S. - Canadian readers, I want to hear from you. Let me know what you are reading on this, what you are hearing from the people around you (especially from the right thinking ones), and what you make of it yourself. Pass this along to a friend.


"Hearings An Embarrassment for Democracy" by Paul Schneidereit (The Chronicle Herald, Nova Scotia): "...nearly six months after Steyn’s article appeared and after they had published 27 letters to the editor in response, many opposed to Steyn’s point of view, they still agreed to meet Awan (law school student Khurrum Awan) and his group to see if they could accommodate their demand for space for another rebuttal. That went nowhere, the magazine said, when the group demanded total control over the editorial content, cover art and a donation to an Islamic charity. (Awan told the hearing last week he had $10,000 in mind)."

"Unlike Others, U.S. Defends Freedom to Offend in Speech," New York Times, June 12, 2008 - Of course, this article just takes the Steyn case as a jumping off point for Americans talking about themselves. Americans are NEVER interested in what's happening in Canada.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Say! Let's Use American Oil!

Gas is over $4 a gallon. It is a marvel that the 100% increase over the last year or so has not shocked the economy into a stupor. Yes, the dollar is weak, but as large portions of the world's population, for example China and India, begin to discover the natural means of prosperity, and thus begin consuming the way we we do, demand is bound to increase. And if the supply of oil does not increase to meet that demand, the natural measn of price regulation will give us ever higher oil prices and thus higher prices for just about everything else. Expect gas to cost $5 or $6 a gallon, maybe more, if we don't do something soon.

But it seems that the United States is potentially swimming in oil. But much of of those oil reserves are under federal lands and national parks or under coastal waters, and so environmental laws make extraction least politically. This information comes primarily from Pete Winn of CNS News, "U.S. Policies Put Most U.S. Oil Off-Limits to Drilling" and Lawrence Kudlow's column, "More Oil, Jobs, Better Wages."

Here's what should jolt us into seriously reconsidering our priorities, however (Winn):
"there are 117 billion barrels of oil on lands owned or managed by the U.S. government"

"Adding in what's available on privately held land, the figure rises to 139 billion barrels of oil, according to the government - more than the known oil reserves of Iran, Iraq, Russia, Nigeria or Venezuela, respectively."

"The biggest untapped land-based oil deposit in the United States lies within ANWR, the Artic National Wildlife Refuge (7.7 billion barrels)."

"Much of the oil is off-limits because of the National Environmental Policy Act(NEPA), the Clean Water Act, the Endangered Species Act and the National Historic Preservation Act."

Kudlow tells us (tipping his hat to Mark Perry at Carpe Diem):
"The Bakken fields beneath North Dakota, Montana, and Canada hold an estimated 400 billion barrels of oil. In comparison, Saudi Arabia's biggest field, Gahawar, has an estimated 55 billion barrels, while ANWR has an estimated 10.4 billion barrels."
And American voters are connecting the dots. Lawrence Kudlow tells us that, according to Gallup, over the last year "support for more drilling in U.S. coastal and wilderness areas has increased to 57% from 41%."

This is a national security issue and it is a love of neighbor issue. We make opportunity cost decisions on the environment all the time. It is not an absolute value. We pave over "the environment" for roads and housing. We sacrifice it to mineral extraction and recreation. People have to live. It is time to start using Amrican oil sources instead of paying some of the most evil and dangerous people in the world astronomical prices for theirs.


"The Moral Imperative for Drilling" by Victor Davis Hanson (New York Post). He tries to address liberals on their own terms. "Instead of objecting to the view of a derrick from the California hills above the Santa Barbara coast, shouldn't a liberal estate owner instead console himself that the offshore pumping will help a nearby farm worker or carpenter get to work without going broke?...At best, the transfer of wealth to most oil producers means a Chinese worker working longer for less money while artificial island resorts pop up in the Persian Gulf. At worst, that strapped Chinese is also working harder for another Iranian centrifuge, al Qaeda landmine or Saudi-funded madrassa."

"Drill! Drill! Drill!" by Daniel Henninger (Wall Street Journal). "While other nations use their oil reserves to attain world status, we give ours up. Why shouldn't they conclude that, long term, these people can be taken? Nikita Khrushchev said, "We will bury you." Forget that. We'll do it ourselves."

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Obama Worship and Obama's Silence

The Apostle Paul Worshiped and Refusing It (Acts 14)

Jesse Jackson Jr. is not an obscure New Age journalist from San Francisco. He is a United States Congressman from Illinois and the son of Jesse Jackson, a prominent figure in American politics for the last 30 years. As Harold reported in the previous post, Rep. Jackson said,
"The event itself [Barack Obama's nomination to be the Democratic party's presidential candidate] is so extraordinary that another chapter could be added to the Bible to chronicle its significance.”
(, in "Black Lawmakers Emotional About Obama's Success," reported this without comment in a serious of responses to the historic development.)

This is not an isolated statement. It has actually become quite common to describe the presumptive Democratic nominee in Messianic or at least semi-divine terms. See Jonah Goldberg's "Messiah in Our Midst" and his more thorough documenting of this in The National Review, as well as my post, "Obama Offers Civil Religion on Steroids." Re-read "Is Obama an Enlightened Being?," the article the provoked the previous post. He denies that he is doing a "superhero messiah" thing. And yet... "Many spiritually advanced people...identify Obama as a Lightworker." He can "help usher in a new way of being on the planet." He can even "help us evolve."

Ask yourself, "What would I do if people were saying these things about ME?" Surely you would caution them to sober up and adjust their expectations. (1) It's wrong. (2) As a professing Christian, he should redirect glory to God. (3) It's bad for the republic. (4) It's bad for him politically, as it establishes expectations he cannot possibly meet.

Notice what the Apostle Paul did when the people of Lystra, led by the priest of Zeus, started worshiping him after he healed a crippled man.

"When the crowd saw what Paul had done, they shouted in the Lycaonian language, 'The gods have come down to us in human form!'...But when the apostles Barnabus and Paul heard of this, they tore their clothes and rushed out into the crowd, shouting: 'Men, why are you doing this? We too are only men, human like you.'" (Acts 14:11-15)

But Obama has not uttered a word of that sort. I am curious to see what effect this talk eventually has on him, especially as it is coming (arguably) even from his wife. This is what happened to Herod Antipas, Tetrarch of Galilee and Perea, when he let the praises of flattering crowds go to his head.
"On the appointed day Herod, wearing his royal robes, sat on his throne and delivered a public address to the people. They shouted, 'This is the voice of a god, not a man.' Immediately, because Herod did not give praise to God, an angel of the Lord struck him down, and he was eaten by worms and died." (Acts 12:21-23)

Not only has Obama not distanced himself from this sort of talk, the way he eventually did from Jeremiah Wright's outlandish rhetoric, he encourages it. He may even have initiated it. In his speech in St. Paul (ironically) marking his effective securing of the Democratic nomination, he promised the faithful that,

“generations from now, we will be able to look back and tell our children that this was the moment when we began to provide care for the sick and good jobs for the jobless; this was the moment when the rise of the oceans began to slow and our planet began to heal.”

Never mind the notion that we have never taken care of our sick, to say nothing of the sick all over the world, but will he really turn back the tides and "heal" the planet? Yes, we know what he means. He is going to introduce legislation to address global warming. But that's not how he puts it. William Kristol, in "A Campaign We Can Believe In?," notes that, "In his evocation of healing powers and dominion over the waters, Obama summons up echoes of the Gospels and Genesis." He presents his candidacy in millenarian and arguably messianic terms. It stirs up the crowds. It has secured the nomination. But it is dangerous and the mark of a demagogue of a sort most threatening to liberty.

To my knowledge, we have never seen anything like this in American politics. It is the sort of immoderate politics that leads to tyranny and horrific tragedy. There are limits to what can be accomplished through politics and in general through these flawed things we call human beings, even the best of them. When we reach for the Republic of Virtue ushered in by an Enlightened Being or a cadre of such extraordinary men, what we get is...the Terror.

Obama has many questions to answer between now and November. His silence in the face of this political veneration, if not worship, raises one of the most important ones. This may put the Constitution and the character of the American people to an historic test.

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Political Idolatry

A columnist at the San Francisco Chronicle, Mark Morford, confesses his Obama-worshipping idolatry in the most extravagant outpouring I have yet seen. In a piece titled, "Is Obama an Enlightened Being? Morford's scarily mystical New Age answer is a big YES. I am one of the "miserable, deeply depressed Republicans" he mentions, and his piece is one of the reasons. The following is a representative quote from this paean to the Enlightened One, the still point of karmic, self organizing positive energy:

Many spiritually advanced people I know (not coweringly religious, mind you, but deeply spiritual) identify Obama as a Lightworker, that rare kind of attuned being who has the ability to lead us not merely to new foreign policies or health care plans or whatnot, but who can actually help usher in a new way of being on the planet, of relating and connecting and engaging with this bizarre earthly experiment. These kinds of people actually help us evolve. They are philosophers and peacemakers of a very high order, and they speak not just to reason or emotion, but to the soul.

So, Obama the Soul-Speaker, this being who is not like us, this Lightworker! is a rare cosmic gift being recognized as such by those among us who are "attuned to energies beyond the literal meanings of things." Can anyone reading this explain what this means? I'm too literally minded, or perhaps "coweringly religious", to get it. But I fear this is only the beginning of this sort of thing, as the literal meaning of idolatry comes down from the ironic and off handed pop-culture references like "American Idol", to a concrete expression, albeit a perverted one, of "spiritually advanced"people's in-built desire to worship something greater than themselves.

But all idols, after they have done their damage, are eventually exposed for what they are: pathetic--and malicious--imitations of the One who truly dwells in the light, and unworthy of the extravagant devotion lavished on them.

Although this is not a new thing under the sun, it is one that has not been seen for a while--a political leader worshipped as god. May the real God help us.

The Politico website shows the fever is spreading. Jesse Jackson Jr, on hearing Obama's big speech:
“I cried all night. I’m going to be crying for the next four years,” he said. “What Barack Obama has accomplished is the single most extraordinary event that has occurred in the 232 years of the nation’s political history. ... The event itself is so extraordinary that another chapter could be added to the Bible to chronicle its significance.”

Friday, June 6, 2008

Congressional Power Grabs and Scientific Fraud

Meteorologist Brian Sussman has a piece over at American Thinker on the global warming hysteria gripping the more excitable portions of the Republic, where he highlights a memorable image called up by author Michael Crichton:

In his must-read eco-thriller, State of Fear, Michael Crichton creates a brilliant visual to assist us in wrapping our minds around the components of Earth's atmosphere. On page 387, he likens the atmosphere to a football field. The goal line to the 78 yard-line contains nothing but nitrogen. Oxygen fills the next 21 yards to the 99 yard-line. The final yard, except for four inches, is argon, a wonderfully mysterious inert gas useful for putting out electronic fires. Three of the remaining four inches is crammed with a variety of minor, but essential, gases like neon, helium, hydrogen and methane. And the last inch? Carbon dioxide. One inch out of a hundred-yard field! At this point I like to add, if you were in the stands looking down on the action, you would need binoculars to see the width of that line. And the most important point-how much of that last inch is contributed by man-made activities? Envision a line about as thin as a dime standing on edge.
Are you still worried about the dangers of CO2?

These are the basic scientific facts which must inform your thinking as the hard Left elements in Congress, led by Barbara Boxer, make their run at jamming us with the Lieberman-Warner travesty.

Using the cover of imminent environmental catastrophe, they hope to gain the control they have been striving for since the 1930's. Comparisons with the constitutional changes wrought by the New Deal are apt, except that this monstrosity actually dwarfs the New Deal's intrusions. Even though it has no chance of passing even the Senate, let alone the House, be aware that this is only the first attempt, establishing the rhetorical benchmark, if you will, for future efforts--think health care here. The totalitarian excesses which doomed HillaryCare to failure the first time through have actually raised the bar for what "health care reform" will entail as we continue to wrestle with it. It is a time-honored political tactic of the Left, one which has served them well. There is an unmistakable leftward arc in our country's direction, as if the tiller on the Ship of State has been lashed, preventing even a straight course, let alone a rightward turn. Sigh.

Here is a graphic representation of the bill, helpfully provided by the US Chamber of Commerce. This is a working diagram of totalitarianism. (see an expandable version at Read it and weep.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Obama's Dilemma

Barack Obama, "the winner," is nonetheless in an unenviable position.

On the one hand, choosing Hillary as his running mate makes a lot of sense. She has nearly half the delegates. The party is deeply divided not only as a result of the unusual length and intensity of the campaign, but also as a function of the personalities involved. There are just too many Hillary supporters who have vowed that they will stay home rather than vote for Obama. In addition, Hillary's half of the delegates are of a very particular sort. Despite his best efforts, Obama was not able to crack the Hispanic and working class white votes which he consistently lost to Clinton by wide margins. Then there are the hard core feminists for whom gender trumps race. If these groups are as anti-Obama in November as they were in the primaries, his place in history will remain simply the first black nominee of a major political party.

On the other hand, selecting Hillary is almost unthinkable. Say goodbye to your claim to be ushering in a new kind of politics. Hillary is the consummate old-style political operator. She is also not one to offer a discreet word of advice when asked, and otherwise to sit quietly by as she waits for her constitutional role to kick in (heaven forbid). She pursued her own agenda when her husband was president. (Remember the Gennifer Flowers deal? "I want domestic!") Then there's Bill hanging around. Both of these people want too desperately to get back into the White House to be on the ticket with such a neophyte like the junior Senator from Illinois.

What's a guy to do?

Of course, he would be foolish to allow her in the door. His choices are not happy ones, but the only sensible alternative is to thank Sen. Clinton for her offer then press on without her and hope for the best. Hell hath no fury like Hillary scorned.

Maureen Dowd's column on this is very funny and insightful. "He thought a little thing like winning would stop her. Oh, Bambi. Whoever said that after denial comes acceptance hadn’t met the Clintons." For what it's worth, I foresee her scenario #1.

Of course, we know who Obama wants as his running mate. His idea of a dream ticket is a Barack and Michelle pair up. And wouldn't that be touching?

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Canada Strong and Free only in Song

Americans generally have no clue what is happening north of the Canada-US border, and have only the vaguest sense of who is up there. For their own part, Canadians are always in existential angst over their identity (unless they are in French Canada or the Maritimes). Thus for both Canadians and Americans, Mark Steyn's Free Market Forum lecture on September 29, 2007 at Hillsdale College is helpful. The title, "Is Canada's Economy a Model for America?," sounds dull but the lecture insightfully identifies who these adjacent yet very different peoples are, their relationship to one another and the separate directions they are headed.

Rhetorically, the lecture is a gem. Consider his inviting introduction:

I was a bit stunned to be asked to speak on the Canadian economy. “What happened?” I wondered. “Did the guy who was going to talk about the Belgian economy cancel?” It is a Saturday night, and the Oak Ridge Boys are playing the Hillsdale County Fair. Being from Canada myself, I am, as the President likes to say, one of those immigrants doing the jobs Americans won’t do. And if giving a talk on the Canadian economy on a Saturday night when the Oak Ridge Boys are in town isn’t one of the jobs Americans won’t do, I don’t know what is.
Through the Canadian example, Steyn reflects on the relationship between liberty, big government, and government control of the economy and of the health care system in particular. He tells stories of a government funded anti-government riot, unionized panhandlers, a special immigration category for "exotic dancers" (strippers), and a ten month waiting list for the government run maternity ward.

What I found most alarming, not only from an ex-pat perspective, but also from the perspective of American national security, is the Canadian demographics that Steyn reports. Like Europe but unlike the United States, Canadians are not replacing themselves.

Between 2001 and 2006, Canada’s population increased by 1.6 million. 400,000 came from natural population growth kids, while 1.2 million came from immigration. Thus native Canadians—already only amounting to 25 percent of the country’s population growth—will become an ever smaller minority in the Canada of the future. It’s like a company in which you hold an ever diminishing percentage of the stock. It might still be a great, successful company in the years ahead, but if it is, it won’t have much—if anything—to do with you.

That is not a racist concern. I am not concerned with the color or cuisine of 21st century Canadians. It is their view of liberty and of liberty's enemies abroad that concerns me and should concern my family, friends and countrymen north of the border.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Academe Circling the Drain

Charllote Allen has a piece over at The Weekly Standard that I at first thought a humorous if somewhat tasteless parody--something you might expect from PJ O'Rourke. But no. It is a straight piece of reportage, detailing the latest dead-end alley to be explored by postmodern academic discourse. I refer to "Waste Studies". As in human waste.

I suppose it was inevitable; that in the tireless search for new ways to transgress the stultifying bourgeois mentality, the mother lodes of feminism, queer theory, homoeroticism, and all aspects of pornography would sooner or later fail of their mission. And thus we find the new naughty, and the excitement generated by being at the very, very edge of the latest, latest thing--sex, race, and gender being about tapped out as sources of outrage and insight. Ms Allen treats us to a paper read by one Medievalist "scholar" at the conference she attended at Western Michigan University at Kalamazoo, apparently a yearly get together for thousands of devoted, but lonely postmodern medievalists. One excerpt:

"The excretory experience became associated with the proletariat," Persels explained. Although he seemed eager to demonstrate that he personally didn't share those uptight middle-class views, at least one of the academics in his audience remained unconvinced that a secret bourgeois habitus didn't lurk underneath his antinomian veneer. "Excretory?" she whispered to a fellow medievalist sitting next to her. "Why doesn't he just say s**t?"

You'll have to read the thing yourself to be convinced it's not a send up in the tradition of Monty Python, but there you are. Parents, look closely at the colleges and universities you and your kids are considering...a mind is a terrible thing to waste.