Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Happy Reformation Day

On this date 490 years ago, Martin Luther nailed his 95 Theses on the church door at Wittenburg. The event began a remarkable theological and ecclesiastical battle across Europe, but it was also a culmination of a great spiritual and intellectual crisis in the heart and mind of Rev. Luther.

For years he had struggled with the concept of the righteousness of God. That was a biblical concept that terrified Luther, who realized that a God who is perfectly righteous might not be prone to look very favorably on those of us who fall far short of the same. Luther sometimes spent hours in confession and returned to his room at the monastery to flagellate himself over his sins. Eventually, however, he realized that the righteousness of God is not merely the righteousness that God demands. It is also the righteousness that God provides freely by His grace through faith alone. Luther was liberated by that realization, and so have many of us been liberated who have followed in his steps.

I once told someone who asked me why I go to church that I do so because I am a hypocrite -- those of you who don't go to church because of all the hypocrites may have me in mind. More often than I care to admit, I fall far short of what I know I am supposed to be. I don't live up to the things that I believe. Don't get me wrong: I am not a contented hypocrite. I wish that I were better than I am, and look forward to the day when I will be.

In the meantime, in Christ I find that there is hope even for people like me. God demands a righteousness that I do not have. Yet, the One who knew no sin died for mine and freely gave to me the gift of righteousness. In that alone I find hope.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Lincoln at Gettysburg

I have been reading Doris Kearns Goodwin's delightful bestseller, "Team of Rivals: the Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln." Ms. Goodwin's retelling of the 16th President's life and administration, which focuses on how Mr. Lincoln managed to build a functioning cabinet dominated by those who wanted his job and were quite certain they deserved it, makes for a magnificent read.

I just reached the point in the story at which Mr. Lincoln delivered the Gettysburg Address. Reading that speech again in light of the historical context which Ms. Goodwin so aptly sets up renewed my own understanding of why it is the greatest speech in American history. At a time when speeches frequently went on for hours, the President provided in two short minutes a statement of purpose for both the country and for the war.

Addressing an audience at a battlefield filled with memories of carnage and death, Mr. Lincoln filled the speech with life, beginning it with a birth ("brought forth... a new nation, conceived in liberty") and ending it with a "rebirth of freedom." The new birth, he declared, provided the hope of something that would never perish (again, in contrast to the reminders of death all around) from the earth ("government of the people, by the people, for the people"). It is for that hope of new birth (grounded in the proposition of the earlier conception) that "these honored dead... gave the last full measure of devotion." Because of the greatness of both that sacrifice and that hope, we are told it is "for us to be dedicated to the great task remaining before us."

Is there another example in English of anyone saying so much in so little space? What a remarkable speech!

Watch What They Do, Not What They Say

John Hinderaker is right about this:

It is the luxury of knowing they are [dissimulating] that allows American liberals to claim that their freedoms are going up in smoke and that dissent is being suppressed, when in fact, "dissent" is socially mandated in polite society from Manhattan to Marin County.

I would add this parallel: any survey of Europeans you look at will say that they think the United States is the biggest danger to world peace, worse than North Korea or the Islamofascists. But they don't mean it. If they did, they would be clamoring for their own countries to re-arm. But the very people who claim to believe that the U.S. is bent on world domination are the same ones who don't want their own governments to spend a dollar on defense. They are entirely content to let us keep the peace. Which means that what they tell pollsters about threats to world peace, like what liberals say about threats to their civil liberties, is, to put it politely, disingenuous.

Monday, October 29, 2007

An Unfortunate Marriage

The blogger at Southern Beale and I stand far apart on the political spectrum; however, I note favorably her passing reference to the Christian music industry's "revolting marriage of religion and consumerism that nobody involved in it seems to have a problem with."

The way that the Christian entertainment culture trivializes faith does more damage to Christian belief than 100 Christopher Hitchens' on steroids, yet hardly anyone seems to take notice or be offended.

Hat Tip: Kleinheider

Democratic Governor Takes on Teachers' Union

The Nashville Scene reports on two recent speeches by Tennessee governor Phil Bredeson advocating educational accountability and innovative methods for getting qualified teachers in the classroom.

Tennessee Education Association executive directorAl Mance responds by advocating the indispensability of the moribund and nearly worthless colleges of education that have done much to ruin the American education system over the last half century.

Mr. Mance somehow claims that Governor Bredeson shares in the ignorance of "laypeople," but it is the governor who has it right. And, contra Mr. Mance, the general public is not under the illusion that prospective teachers take classes in "basket-weaving;" however, we do question the efficacy of courses dispensing knowledge about how to create bulletin boards.

And, lest Mr. Mance think that only "laypeople" doubt the virtues of schools of education, I would add that, having discussed this issue with dozens of educators over the years, at least half the teachers agree with the governor. I would suggest they tend to be the better half.

Hat Tip: Campfield

Staging Events

Satirist Scott Ott "reports" that last week's phony FEMA news conference was a first step toward a goal to stage natural disasters.

Funny stuff.

Free Speech Quote of the Day

"Justice Brennan used to be a liberal hero. If he were alive today, he would surely be dismayed to learn that liberals seem to have concluded they have no use for the First Amendment."

-- John Fund, on Democratic attempts to re-impose the "Fairness Doctrine" as a means of squelching conservative dominated talk radio.

Ignoring Art

I have always wondered at the proponents of affirmative action who are forever counting noses. It seems that, not content with that, they are also counting statues.

Rep. Mike Honda (D-CA) must be especially spartan in his lack of artistic appreciation. According to the article, the "lack of diversity in the artwork of the capitol," not the impressiveness of the architecture or the individual pieces, was among the first things he noticed about the building.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Finding a Silver Lining in the Holy Land Foundation Trial

Rod Dreher argues that even though the Holy Land Foundation trial was "an embarrassment" that made "our system look shabby and pathetic," the information that emerged in the trial "was highly valuable and deeply damaging evidance" regardin Islamic front organizations operating in the United States.

Read it here.

Changing Higher Education

Of all of the worries that Americans express over their educational system, the one that should cause the least concern relates to the percentage of high school graduates that go to college. As George Leef ably argues, too many kids go to college:

[I]t isn't true that the economy is undergoing some dramatic shift to "knowledge work" that can only be performed by people who have college educations. When we hear that more and more jobs "require" a college degree, that isn't because most of them are so technically demanding that an intelligent high school graduate couldn't learn to do the work. Rather, it means more employers are using educational credentials as a screening mechanism. As James Engell and Anthony Dangerfield write in their book Saving Higher Education in the Age of Money, "The United States has become the most rigidly credentialized society in the world. A B.A. is required for jobs that by no stretch of imagination need two years of full-time training, let alone four."

Not a great deal happens politically these days that can't be explained in soundbites, so what needs to happen in higher education will probably not occur. Fewer people need to go to traditional colleges, and those who do should benefit from an intellectually more rigorous course of study. Resources currently allocated for colleges should be re-oriented toward other types of vocational training leading to both blue and white collar career options.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Northeastern Religion

If anyone needs evidence as to the extent to which Boston belongs to the Red Sox: while I was there this week, I heard on local radio that at least one local Catholic school had sent a letter home telling parents that their kids didn't have to wear uniforms. Instead, the children were encouraged to wear red for the World Series.

While I was not able to obtain a ticket to game 1, I did walk around Fenway Park that morning. Old stadiums like Fenway and Wrigley Field in Chicago are interesting in that they are built into the fabric of their neighborhoods. Of course, newer stadiums are typically surrounded by parking lots.

That does mean that those going to games are better off taking the subway than driving. The few small lots available around the park were advertising spots available for $45 for "Fenway Events."

Judicial System Quote of the Day

"Justice is supposed to be blind, not lazy and dumb."

-- The Dallas Morning News, commenting on reports that a juror in the Holy Land Foundation trial slept and stayed otherwise distracted over the course of a trial of a case that many observers claim is too complex factually to prevail before a jury.

I admit to having a decidedly non-conservative thought: I no longer believe in the jury system, and I have not for years. There are simply too many instances where things such as what is described above occur.

Update. In other Dallas area judicial news, a jury listened to the desperate crying of a mother and grandmother and sentenced them to probation in the scalding death of a 20 month old baby. According to the Dallas Morning News report, the baby had second and third degree burns over 1/4 of his body caused by scalding bathwater. Rather than take the child to the hospital, the two women treated him for days before he died with prescription ointment from when another child was burned. They said they didn't take him to the hospital because they feared the child would be taken away. Their attorneys, Ray Jackson and John Read, said the women loved children and should receive probation.

While the women wept desperately before the jury went out to decide sentencing, the report says they were smiling when the judge read the verdict.

Does anyone wish to criticize me for saying I no longer believe in the jury system?

Friday, October 26, 2007

Religious Education?

Marvin Olasky has some suggested questions for a Christian considering attending a Christian college:

Does it implicitly teach that Christians should be separatists from society, appeasers of it, or transformers of it? (I recommend the latter.) Does the college fall into legalism concerning movies, music, etc.? Is spiritual life vibrant or rote? Are students engaged in classes that are small enough to demand thoughtful participation? Are professors narrowly specialized and intent on playing to other academics, or are they excited by the play of ideas and the practical applications that result? Does the college emphasize internships and other means of helping students recognize their calling?

Are Football's Days Numbered?

In 1906, responding to an increasing number of fatalities and serious injuries resulting from playing football, President Roosevelt told leaders of the sport to either change it or see it banned. The result: the creation of the forward pass as a means of spreading the players out on the field.

None of the presidential candidates this year from either party would dare threaten to ban what has become the national pastime. However, the popularity of football is on a collision course with realities made possible by ever improving dietary and training techniques. The violence of the sport, when combined with the fact that players continue to get larger and faster, may make the game unsustainable in the long term.

Of course, none of this will happen soon. The human mind has an amazing capacity to avoid uncomfortable dissonance, and the notion that one of the most popular forms of entertainment in the land may be irretrievably inhumane is one that most of us would prefer not to contemplate. Nonetheless, the growing data on the effect on football players of "repetitive trauma to the brain" raises the uncomfortable possibility that enjoying the sport is fundamentally inhumane.

Chris Nowinski -- who may be the only living human being who has both a degree from Harvard and a past career as a professional wrestler on his resume -- understandably does not want his name associated with talk of banning a sport that he once played and still loves. He became interested in these issues after retiring from wrestling after suffering several concussions that resulted in cognitive impairments -- "the last match I actually forgot who was supposed to win." The stories he relates from other athletes are gripping. Wrestler Chris Benoit, who's suicide was treated by the media as a steroid issue, had told friends that he had suffered "more concussions than he could count" and had depression, memory impairment, and erratic behavior. Mr. Nowinski describes a meeting with another former athlete who during testing could not name the first six months of the year.

In raising issues related to athletes who have experienced life long disabilities as a result of multiple concussions, Mr. Nowinski's goals are to improve benefits for former players and to raise awareness of issues faced by student athletes. The NFL -- in terms of both the owners and the players union -- has not taken to these efforts kindly, and one wonders about the level of indignation. Certainly, providing adequate treatment for debilitated former players would be expensive. However, the cash rich NFL could certainly find a way to fund such health care, especially given the positive public relations that would come with doing so. One senses that the NFL may not be taking this on because they fear the opening of Pandora's box. The extent of a wide array of injuries endured by a huge percentage of former players has never been one that the league has wanted to be widely known. The types of cognitive injuries resulting from multiple head traumas would make for especially bad public relations on an issue for which the league will have no solutions.

And the problem is arguably getting worse as players get ever larger. In the 1980's, a lineman for the Chicago Bears was so enornous that he stood out on the field. Fans called him "the Refrigerator." At 320 pounds, today he would be average size for his position. Some running backs are now the size that linemen were a generation ago.

What are the solutions? Before this week, I had considered improved equipment (such as helmets that absorb shock better) to be part of the answer. Perhaps it will be. However, it has been reasonably pointed out to me that in some ways improved equipment makes the problem worse. While statistics about closed head injuries in another violent sport in which the players wear less protective equipment -- rugby -- are not available, experience shows that players instinctively protect their heads differently when not wearing helmets. In a football game, a helmeted head is a weapon used frequently (in spite of some rules to the contrary). No unhelmeted athlete uses his head in this way. A fair number of football tackles result in helmet to helmet contact. A rugby player who did that would crack his skull.

While much of the media focus is on pro athletes, high school and college players face similar issues. For various reasons (kids wanting to stay in the game, others considering a kid "not tough" if he sits out because of a head injury, etc.), closed head injuries are by every indication grossly under reported.

I write this as a football fan and would prefer to be proven wrong. However, as I increasingly try to climb over the wall designed to keep me from my own cognitive dissonance, I fear that I am not.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Glad I Didn't Buy the Scalped Tickets

Since arriving in Boston Tuesday for a meeting, I had been watching e-Bay, and yesterday morning I took a walk around Fenway Park looking for tickets on the street. Interestingly, around the stadium, where there were countless people milling around, I saw other people trying to buy, but I didn't see any sellers. The tickets on e-Bay were beyond the spending limit I had set for myself.

It would have been nice to see a World Series game, not to mention one at Fenway Park. But to have paid $700 or more to go to a game that was essentially over by the end of the 5th inning would have been disappointing.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Back to Basics

After providing a quick overview of the meteoric rise of newly elected Louisiana governor Bobby Jindal, Doug Patton argues that the election holds some important lessons for conservatives:

When Republicans controlled the White House, the U.S. Senate and the U.S. House of Representatives, they lost the confidence of the American people. Voters repudiated the party last year because Republicans had stopped acting like Republicans. The GOP grew government at a rate dizzying enough to have thoroughly impressed FDR....

But the Democrat victory prophesied by every inside-the-beltway pundit writing or broadcasting is not a foregone conclusion. Bobby Jindal has proven that voters will give a conservative a chance to govern if they believe he or she will follow through on the promises that are made to them.

One may hope that some conservatives will rediscover the notion of fiscal and governmental restraint, both in word and in deed.

Partisan Bias?

I have been engaging in an ongoing debate with a couple of California lobbyists as to whether the health care proposal put forward by California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger will ever see the light of day. Governor Schwarzenegger has little support among legislative leaders from within his own party, so he is relying on Democrats to drive his plan. However, union leaders, who reflexively object to any Republican originated proposals, strongly oppose the plan and have even hired a former adviser of President Clinton to lead the opposition.

The rich irony here, as Aurelio Rojas points out, is that the governor's proposal in many respects resembles that recently put forward by presidential candidate Hillary Clinton. In fact, Mr. Schwarzenegger has relied on many of the same advisers as Ms. Clinton in formulating his plan.

All of this begs the question: if Democratic leaders in California trash Mr. Schwarzenegger's plan this year, will that spell trouble for Ms. Clinton's plan in 2008?

Probably not. Democrats have not for a long time been known for their intellectual consistency. In that regard, they bear some resemblance to Mitt Romney -- another candidate who as governor put forward a plan with many similarities to Ms. Clinton's, but who now (rightly) trashes her plan as "socialized medicine."

You Know that You Are No Longer a Baptist When....

....your Sunday School class is planning a class picnic, and someone mentions that last year they had inadvertantly violated a city ordinance by bringing beer to a public park for the event.

This year, since they are aware of the law, they said they will obey it.

We Have No King but _________

Naomi Schaefer Riley concludes a review of a book on marketing the church by making a provocative point:

If you can find a way of seeing religion primarily as a form of consumerism--skipping the (how to put it?) faith and truth part of religious belief--then Mr. Twitchell's analysis makes some sense. And in fact there are churches out there self-consciously engaged in marketing. They hire consultants and public-relations experts to "grow" their flock, and they obey a market discipline. Mr. Twitchell notices a sign hanging in Mr. Hybels's megachurch office that quotes Peter Drucker, the business guru.

But consultants can only do so much, and the point of church outreach surely has less to do with improving "brands" than with saving souls. Mr. Twitchell concludes by noting that, "in the Land of Plentitude, the customer is king." Thus he asks: "Why should religion be different?" The answer to that question comes from another book.

Indeed. It never seems to occur to many of the mass merchandisers of church life that it is possible to gain the whole world and lose one's soul.

Why Huckabee Can't be Veep

Rich Lowry correctly posits that Republican presidential candidate Mike Huckabee lacks either the organization or the message needed to make a serious run at the GOP nomination. However, Mr. Lowry is incorrect when he suggests that the Arkansan makes an ideal running mate for Rudolph Giuliani. The columnist theorizes that Mr. Huckabee provides the former New York mayor with some needed help with "social conservatives."

That may be, but Mr. Huckabee would cost the ticket more than he would gain for it. There is simply too much stigma attached to being a former Baptist preacher for Mr. Huckabee to be an asset to the ticket. It matters not how good of a speaker Mr. Huckabee is or how reasonable he sounds: many middle of the road voters will be turned off by his former occupation.

Voters like their candidates to be religious. However, at this point in history they will not be prone to put a Baptist preacher one heartbeat away from the White House.

Monday, October 22, 2007

So Close, and yet so Far

As it happens, The Oracle will be in Beantown attending meetings on Wednesday when the World Series begins there, a fact which has brought forth the rather interesting question of how much I would be willing to pay to see both my first World Series game and my first game at Fenway Park.

After taking a quick look at eBay, I suspect not nearly enough.

If only I could find a way to expense it.... Just kidding, boss.

Longer Prison Sentences for Child Abusers

In an investigative report that makes a number of important points, writers for the Dallas Morning News suggest that tough new laws designed to increase sentences for perpetrators of sexual abuse against minors may not have much impact, even though it is almost universally agreed that those who commit these acts currently are not punished severely enough:

Even when abusers are prosecuted, they rarely get long sentences. A Dallas Morning News analysis of sentencing in more than 13,000 cases of aggravated sexual assault of a child since 1991 found that four of every 10 offenders initially received no prison time at all. And when an offender was sent to prison, less than one in five got 25 years or longer.

Among the reasons: Parents are reluctant to take a relative or friend to trial; children may make poor witnesses; and despite depictions of the tattooed ex-con hiding in the bushes, most sex offenders look like the harmless guy next door.

The article repeatedly drives home the point that while much of the public attention given to this unpleasant subject in recent years has involved abuse by strangers, that in reality these crimes are in the vast majority of instances committed by family or friends of the victim.

The article suggests that education for victims and the public at large, not punishment, should be the emphasis of reform, though one would think that those different remedies are not mutually exclusive. Certainly, tougher sentences at least get those convicted off of the street. That being said, the willingness of families to ignore this kind of abuse in order to avoid family disruption is incomprehensible to me. Unfortunately, it is a problem not readily susceptible to legal remedies.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

A Profile in Leadership

The willingness of Fred Thompson to broach the issue of growth in Social Security payouts demonstrates that he has the seriousness and competence to be President. That some of his fellow Republicans in Congress have criticized his proposal demonstrates why they are not. They are not leaders willing to address real problems.

That is not to say that the Thompson proposal to index Social Security increases to the rate of inflation instead of the rate of wage growth is necessarily the right proposal. However, those criticizing Mr. Thompson's plan fail to offer any alternative reforms. They merely smile dismissively and point out that senior citizens don't like that sort of talk. Of course, anyone who passed third grade math knows that the current program is not sustainable.

Please understand. I am more than willing to pay for the benefits expected by my father -- now over 70. However, the benefits that would be due to me, if the program is not altered, are not sustainable by the next generation without confiscatory levels of taxation. I would not do that to my son.

Next Question

Anyone who has listened to the sometimes inane questioning that sometimes can go on at press conferences can understand the frustration of Tennessee Titans' quarterback Vince Young this week with reporters:

"That's enough about the injury, please, I'm begging you,'' Young said. "It's enough. I can't do nothing about it. What do you want me to say? I am saying the same thing over and over, the same question. Y'all are just re-wording it.''

Mr. Young has not practiced all week because of a quadriceps injury. It is still not known whether he will play Sunday against the Houston Texans.

Dallas Pastor Badly Misses Mark

The Dallas Morning News reports that Robert Jeffress, the badly confused pastor (my description, not theirs) of Dallas' First Baptist Church, told his congregation, "Christian conservatives are going to have to decide whether having a Christian president is really important or not."

He was expressing concern that some prominent evangelicals have thrown their support to Mitt Romney.

While it is true that Mormonism's odd theology is outside the pail of orthodox Christianity, the maxim once expressed by Martin Luther still holds: it is better to be governed by a competent infidel than an incompetent Christian. Thus, Christians in no way violate their faith in adhering to the notion expressed in the Constitution that there should be no religious test for holding office.

As a result, in response to Dr. Jeffress statement, it can be stated unequivocably that it is not important. Christians, like everyone else, should vote based on the fitness of candidates to govern, as determined by their competency, character, and ideas for what they will do while in office, not on the basis of their religion.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Stretching Hard to Find Bad News

A friend forwarded me an e-mail describing this as "the stupidest AP headline I've ever seen," and I wouldn't argue the point. The headline currently reads, "As violence falls in Iraq, cemetery workers feel the pinch."

The story complains that cemetary workers are making less money because deaths are down.

Because of all of the false hopes expressed and proven fleeting over the last four years, I have been slow to get on the "surge is working" bandwagon. However, if cynics are having to reach this far for bad news or negative spin, one might begin to wonder.

Will It Be Lake Effect or Mountain Snow on Bud Selig's Hat?

When they began calling the World Series the "October Classic," they didn't mean the end of October. Back then, they also weren't worried with television ratings, so they didn't play at night.

This year, Major League Baseball is on the brink of holding its premier event in the cold of night just before Halloween on the shores of Lake Erie and in the mountains of Colorado. Global warming or no, they will likely not enjoy ideal conditions in which to play baseball. A good snowstorm could create a situation where the game would be seeking its first "Mr. November."

All true baseball fans consider this shameful. The baseball season needs to be shortened so that once again the World Series is concluded no later than the ides of October.

Presidential Candidate Positions on Health Care

The Kaiser Family Foundation has created a user friendly website that allows one to do a side-by-side comparison of what any or all of the Republican and Democratic candidates for President have proposed regarding health care. See it here.

It should be noted that as of this date some of the candidates have put forward far more detailed proposals than others.

Hat Tip: Joe Paduda

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Inviting Both Parties to the Dance

Michael Barone asks why the primary season can't include a debate among candidates of both parties. He remembers that it happened once -- in 1987:

Mr. Brokaw asked questions that were appropriate to the various candidates, so that the debate took on the aspect of an extended and well-informed conversation. He questioned Democrats and Republicans separately, during four 30-minute segments, but the format allowed candidates of one party to criticize those of the other party, which several did.

In the process viewers heard the talking points and propaganda of not just one party but of two, and the prospect that the other side would soon get its turn to speak may have deterred candidates from the kind of cheap shots which would evoke cheers from a one-party audience. My impression, which was reinforced by reading the transcript this week, is that there were fewer of these than in the debates I’ve watched this year. And viewers got more of a preview of the arguments that would be made by either side once the nominees were determined, along with some basis to measure the candidates of one party against those of the other.

I wouldn't mind eliminating debates altogether, as they have become little more than games of "gotcha" with little real illumination regarding what the candidates believe. However, if we must have debates, and it appears we must, Mr. Barone's idea is not a bad one.

Because Some Clearly Deserve to Die

I have long been ambivolent about the death penalty. While in theory I have no difficulty with giving the state the power to end a person's life when the enormity of a crime merits doing so, in practice I have had concerns about the number of cases in which those on death row have been found to be innocent of the particular crime for which they were sentenced to death. I have also had concerns about compelling evidence of racial bias with regard to death sentences.

Having said that, I think that John Hutcheson, in posting and then commenting on the heinous story of a vile man who left a child in alligator infested waters, takes a reasonable position:

On the other hand, some crimes, if the deed can be clearly pinned to the accused, are worthy of death because of the heinous nature of the crime..e.g. Timothy McVeigh. The amount of money in his bank account and the color of his skin is irrelevant in such times.

And, such times, imo, are few and far between.

Of course, Mr. Hutcheson couldn't resist using his post as an opportunity for taking a poke at President Bush -- in this instance for presiding over so many executions while governor of Texas. Whatever Mr. Bush's faults, blame for that doesn't belong to him. Down here, executions have continued at a steady pace since his moved to the White House.

Timing Isn't Everything, but It is a Lot

Did the people of Turkey commit a nefarious act against the Armenians nine decades ago? I haven't studied the matter enough to know. But surely the Wall Street Journal is correct that it is exactly the wrong time for the Speaker of the House to make an issue of it. To risk a breach with an ally at this particular point in time in a crucial area is senseless.

A Warning to Republicans: Don't Forget the Vision Thing

This article in The Hill reports that Republicans plan to make an issue of credible allegations that Hillary Clinton was involved in listening in on the phone conversations of her husband's political opponents in 1992. The story, if true, shows her own behavior to contrast sharply with her vocal criticism of the Bush administration for allowing law enforcement to monitor calls to and from the United States by or to suspected terrorists.

As always, the behavior of the Clinton's provides more than enough examples of questionable conduct and judgment to fill a campaign. Even so, Republicans would be wise to avoid repeating the same mistakes that defeated them in the 1990's. If Republicans believe that they can win by attacking the personal conduct of the Clintons without also putting forward a positive vision of their own plans for the future, they will lose. They have walked down that path before.

A Quick Movie Review: "The Kingdom"

For a positive review of the current action adventure thriller, The Kingdom, see Megan Basham here.

I agree with her suggestion that behind all of the action is a fairly nuanced movie. The American FBI agents are not the bad guys in this movie -- though they make their share of mistakes. While the bad guys are the terrorists, also coming in for a drubbing are the spineless representatives at the U.S. State Department. Their portrayal -- more often accurate than not -- makes the movie worth the price of admission.

Looking for a Conservative Health Care Lobby

Michael Cannon argues that conservatives are having a difficult time on the health care issue -- because they aren't putting forward any conservative ideas. Arguing that HSA's are a good start, but not the end all of health care reform, Mr. Cannon criticizes conservatives for too often defending the status quo -- which is already largely government run, either directly or indirectly -- and only offering up reduced versions of programs favored by Democrats.

He is right.

Monday, October 15, 2007

All Absolutists at Heart

Philosophy professor Stephen Asma has an interesting way of questioning the relativistic assumptions of his students:

My relativist undergraduates feel empowered by a leveling theory that puts their favorite rock band on equal footing with Bach and Mozart; but watch how quickly a qualitative hierarchy races back when, in the interests of consistency, you suggest that their favorite band must be no better than the Backstreet Boys (or that their favorite bohemian film is no better than, only different from, Police Academy 5). The old dichotomies between elite and popular, and high and low, may indeed be vexed by unjustifiable privileges, but without a new language of merit for the arts, the postmodernists are forced to live in a flattened landscape where Barry Manilow and Beetho-ven are equals. In principle, the postmodernists are happy to do so, because anything else would be hegemonic propaganda. In practice, however, their hearts are as autocratic as yours and mine (and they frequently elevate their own favorites with praise of "keepin' it real").

That passage reminds me of a debate I once had with an individual that assured me that all interpretations of meaning were equally valid. I responded that I interpretted his words as an expression of his sympathy for the Nazis. He was at a complete loss as to how to respond. I am not suggesting that my way of arguing was necessarily air tight, but it was striking to note the extent to which a reasonably intelligent individual was operating on the basis of assumptions that he had never bothered to think through.

Hat Tip: Evangelical Outpost

The Practical Harm of Becoming Politically Beholden

Tony Woodlief says that while the controversy over what happened to Armenians in Turkey nearly a century ago is complicated and can be viewed in different ways, that the way that many Christians will reach conclusions on what happened is completely wrong. He writes:

Christians, however, aren’t called to be geopolitical strategists, are we? It seems to me that we ought not care whether the Foreign Affairs Committee’s resolution makes political sense (it probably doesn’t), or whether it is motivated less by a desire to see justice done than a desire to reward the Armenian-American lobby (which is probably the case). What we ought to ask, quite simply, is: What is the truth?

Young Evangelical Voters

Dallas Morning News reporter Wayne Slater has an interesting article today with interviews supporting polling that indicates that "young evangelical voters" have a wider range of issues in mind than do their elders when deciding who to vote for. Based on that notion, pundits are speculating that those younger voters may be up for grabs in coming elections.

While proponents of that theory make some valid points, one may sense that they indulge in a fair amount of wishful thinking, as well.

It is not surprising that younger voters, evangelical or otherwise, would approach politics differently than an earlier generation, as they have come to age at a time when the concerns are different. The interests of the religious right have never been as narrow nor as monolithic as some pundits seem to remember them. The notion that the older generation of evangelical politicos have only been concerned with abortion and gay marriage does not hold water for those old enough to remember that the written materials produced in the early days of Jerry Falwell's Moral Majority had a lot of information on opposition to communism and support for lowering taxes. With the decline of Soviet communism, the religious right has certainly been more focused on domestic concerns, or was, at least, until the 9/11 attacks generated concerns about radical Islam. Ironically, the growth of that concern has proven to be divisive for evangelicals of all ages, as some of those political figures who have garnered support among grassroots evangelicals for their positions on the war on terror (Giuliani and McCain) have not been popular with those considered to be evangelical leaders.

Polling of the concerns of young evangelicals is also difficult, as it is not easy to discern whether those responding to polls are truly representative evangelicals who will take active roles or even vote in the coming election. It is sort of ironic that Mr. Slater chose to take the temperature of young evangelical opinion at Baylor University, a historically Texas Baptist school now distrusted by many evangelicals who would not think of sending their children there.

In addition, Mr. Slater makes one sloppy reporting error that deserves mention: he speaks of evangelical leadership passing "from Billy Graham and Jerry Falwell" to a new generation of leaders. However, Billy Graham has never participated in the political forays of the religious right, having decided to give up taking political positions as a result of disappointment rising out of his relationship with Richard Nixon. While Rev. Graham continued to be seen with political leaders of both parties, for over 30 years his only role has been pastoral, not political.

Nonetheless, while young evangelicals may or may not be diverging from their elders in their political thinking, churchmen might think that it would not be a bad thing, if true. While the Christian message, which touches on all of life, certainly has political implications, it has been an enormous mistake for religious leaders to attempt to reduce the Church into a voting block. The church belongs to Christ -- and to no one else.

Hot Metal

Statenet compiles from several sources a report on a growing "epidemic" of scrap metal theft and legislative attempts to deal with the problem:

Across the nation — and around the world — guardrails have been disappearing from roadways. Manhole covers have been vanishing from city streets. Power lines have been pulled down from utility poles. Rails cut from train tracks. Wires torn out of farm irrigation systems. Copper plumbing ripped from home construction sites. Aluminum bleachers hauled from high school football fields. Beer kegs swiped from liquor dealers. Catalytic converters stripped from the engines of parked cars. Bronze statues lugged from public buildings and parks.

The consensus seems to be that the growing problem is related to methamphetamine addiction.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Which of These Things Doesn't Belong Here?

In the wake of the announcement that Albert Gore, Jr. has won the Nobel Peace Prize, many people, especially on the right, are talking about the decision (HT: Volokh Conspiracy) of a British Court that Mr. Gore's film, "An Inconvenient Truth," contains scientific errors, and that opposing views must be presented if the film is used in school classrooms. However, I had not heard heard reading it this evening that the ruling, in describing the documentary, uses language that is astounding now, and which I would have considered impossible a few years ago: "It is built round the charismatic presence of the ex-Vice-President, Al Gore...."

One supposes that charisma is in the eye of the beholder.

While Being Sure to Put the Seat Down....

Joe Carter, with tongue planted firmly in cheek, posts some suggestions for having a happy marriage. It is the hardest I have laughed in a long time.

Read it here, where you will also find a link to a discussion of ways to have a smooth divorce that is equally as funny.

Out Foxing Himself

I have actually been an advocate of comprehensive immigration reform, as opposed to an "enforcement only" approach, but sometimes I find myself regretting who some of my allies are. It is certainly not easy to defend a broader approach when former Mexican president Vicente Fox is in Texas attempting to interfere with local policy.

Sharon Grigsby shares additional thoughts after participating in an interview with Mr. Fox at the offices of the Dallas Morning News.

Worthy of Consideration

Perhaps some of those who were overlooked this year by the committee awarding the Nobel Peace Prize can be considered in 2008. For a worthy list, see here.

The vice-president declared himself humbled. It's embarrassing, actually.

A Needed Confession

The worship service I attended this morning included the following prayer of confession:

"You call us to worship You in spirit and in truth. But we confess that we often worship not Your true self but who we wish You to be. We too often ask you to bless what we do rather than seeking to do what you bless. Forgive us for seeking concessions when we should be seeking guidance. Forgive us when our worship shapes You into what we want instead of shaping us into what you want...."

I am certain that is a prayer I should ponder regularly. I would suspect that I am not alone.

Enforcers of Left Wing Orthodoxy

George Will has an outstanding and important column in today's Washington Post regarding the extent to which some social work programs at public universities forsake real academic work in favor of "ideological advocacy." He cites specific instances of students being required to participate in legislative lobbying on issues favored by their professors and being disciplined for their political views:

The [National Association of Scholars] study says that at Rhode Island College's School of Social Work, a conservative student, William Felkner, received a failing grade in a course requiring students to lobby the state legislature for a cause mandated by the department. The NAS study also reports that Sandra Fuiten abandoned her pursuit of a social-work degree at the University of Illinois at Springfield after the professor, in a course that required students to lobby the legislature on behalf of positions prescribed by the professor, told her that it is impossible to be both a social worker and an opponent of abortion.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Outing Bloggers

R.G. Ratcliffe has an interesting post with links related to a proliferation of lawsuits seeking to require anonymous bloggers to identify themselves. I am of a mixed mind on this subject. On the one hand, I would hate to be the subject of such a lawsuit, though my identity is thinly enough disguised that I suspect that a fair number of people know who I am anyway. My additional thought is that there is not anything honorable about lobbing verbal grenades while under the cloak of anonymity. Blogging anonymously should be done with a sense of responsibility toward the subjects about which one rights. I certainly attempt to do that, and would be willing to listen to any criticism that I fail to do so.

Senator Hutchison's Plans

The senior U.S. Senator from Texas, Kay Bailey Hutchison, strongly indicated in an interview with blogger Evan Smith that she will run for governor in 2010 and that she will resign her Senate seat prior to that election. Ms. Hutchison's present term will run out in 2012. Resigning prior to 2010 will give current Republican governor Rick Perry the opportunity to appoint a replacement. She indicated that she will not run for re-election in 2012 in any event.

And, The Oracle will not take offense at Ms. Hutchison's blanket criticism of "anonymous blogs" as "cynical and mean." I will put my own sense of fairness up along side that of any journalist.

Hat Tip: Wayne Slater

A Match Made Somewhere

The Cincinnati Enquirer and other media outlets are reporting that the Cincinnati Reds will announce soon that they have hired Dusty Baker as their new manager. Mr. Baker previously managed the San Francisco Giants and the Chicago Cubs.

It was widely known that the Reds were interested in a big name manager, and this hiring fits that bill. On other levels, it would not seem to make much sense. Mr. Baker has a reputation for not working well with young players, especially pitchers, and the small market Reds are relying on the development of young talent, including pitchers such as Homer Bailey, as their means of becoming competitive again. How Mr. Baker's management style will work with the talent that he will be provided to compete with remains to be seen.

Pedantic Preaching from Paper Thin Characters?

Marvin Olasky describes what is wrong with most "Christian fiction," which he notes often takes the form of "treatise fiction:"

The problem with treatise fiction is that when it doesn't hit the bull's eye it usually misses very badly. Novels in the mystery or action-adventure genre can have some clunky writing while still remaining page-turners: Take that, Tom Clancy. But a novel that turns its characters into walking billboards for particular brands of Christianity or electric signs flashing "evil atheism" is likely to be turgid, especially when it gives two scoops of sermons in every box.

A penchant for treatise novels has led to stereotypes of contemporary Christian fiction as the marriage of tract and melodrama, homilies decked out in purple prose. Some Christian authors, rebelling against that, have moved toward literary fiction, with some good results and more dull ones. But we still have a long way to go to develop popular fiction—action-adventure, mystery, romance—that isn't poorly written and sometimes downright embarrassing.

He suggests Flannery O'Connor as an example of an author who wrote interesting fiction with a Christian foundation.

Safe and Fun?

The Dallas Morning News ran a story today on a theme that seems recurrent across the United States over the last decade: school recess times are becoming shorter and, by some standards, more safe.

I say by some standards, as the focus to me seems to be narrow. Eliminating fun games like tag, red rover, and dodge ball may result in fewer bruised elbows and scraped knees, but it also makes play time boring. At a time when many kids are already too inclined to sit in front of television sets and computer screens, with the result that a disproportionate percentage are obese, isn't there some health risk in making outdoor play boring?

Not to mention that fun ways of getting exercise helps kids work off excess energy so they can calm down when they get back to class. But why risk a slip and fall on the pavement when we can instead drug our kids into submission?

I am frankly glad that I grew up in a time when a scraped knee, or even a knot on the head, was not seen as a catastrophe to be avoided at all costs.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

There Was Not Even Any Drinking Involved

For reasons that defy explanation, I am going to post about one of my most humiliating experiences in recent memory.

Last night, I was attending a meeting of a club that I am a member of. I began feeling ill during the meeting with what seems to be some sort of inner ear thing, though I have not yet gone to the doctor. Anyway, during a speech by another member, I made the unfortunate decision to stand up quickly and go to the restroom. The next thing I knew, I was lying on the floor with other club members gathered around me.

Actually, by the time I sat up a couple of minutes later, I didn't feel that ill other than being a little lightheaded. Thus, I mostly was just feeling embarrassed by the whole thing.

I also probably gave the unfortunate impression that I have a one track mind.

As I was still sitting there, talk began as to who might drive me home. I insisted that I was ok and would be able to drive. There was then concern as to whether I would make it safely. At that point, I had the following exchange with the club president, who, by the way, is tall, slender, blond, and clearly out of my league:

Her: "Well, if you drive, why don't you let me follow you home."

Me: "Under different circumstances, that would be a heckuva offer."

Fortunately, she laughed.

Football Satire

Last week, Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo threw 5 interceptions. Based on that, you can bet that Bill Belichick, coach of this week's Cowboys' opponent, the New England Patriots, will be watching a lot of film in order to try to take advantage of Mr. Romo's weaknesses.

And, that's just the practices. He'll probaby review game film, too.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Not Grading on the Curve

I've known some teachers who could be really hard on students, but I haven't known any that would do this.

Hat Tip: Say Uncle

Loose Lips Sink Ships -- and Sometimes Cost Lives

A person within the Bush administration who last month leaked to U.S. media the most recent video of Osama bin Laden may have compromised an important intelligence resource developed by a private company that had made the information available to the U.S. government, the Washington Post reports. The person responsible for the leak should be prosecuted for having committed a criminal act.

Hat Tip: Michael Barone

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Just the Facts, Sir

A news report in the Dallas Morning News recounts dry cleaner owner Joseph Baggett's successful effort at warding off a would be robber. The thief's errors turned out to be fatal. Jeremy Weidenhof succinctly summarizes the outcome:

Although he got only one of three rounds on target, Mr. Baggett scored a critical hit in the perp’s head, resulting in the immediate cessation of hostilities. Well done. The robber also managed to expire in the parking lot, thus simplifying cleanup.

Picking up Chicks at Church

A former minister to singles posts "20 Theological Pick-up Lines Not to Use." Some of them require a little insider knowledge of the ways of churches, but they are all funny. My favorites:

11. During communion say, “Can I get you another drink.”

10. “The Bible says that God is not concerned with outer appearance . . . neither should you.”

Hat Tip: Evangelical Outpost

Torture, Indeed!

The best satire on the internet comes from Scrappleface. The opening line from a recent example:

According a newly-leaked top-secret document published in The New York Times ‘Classified’ section today, the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) has employed controversial methods to extract information from terror suspects, including threats to put the detainee in front of a Senate committee for further interrogation.

Read the rest here.

Authentic Living v. Bait and Switch

In response to a New York Times article describing churches that are using the violent video game Halo 3 as a hook to lure boys and men to church, Anthony Bradley asks if they might try "hook up" night next. More seriously, he has this advice to churches that traffic in such gimmickry:

Men and boys are not a “market,” they bear the image of God and are called to follow Jesus. What if churches did something radical like loving and serving men and boys in their local neighborhoods, off the church property, bringing them into real discipleship by immersing them into communities of authentic and open masculine formation?

If churches were really serious about having boys and men join them they would stop singing love ballads to Jesus, repaint the pink and lavender walls, and preach to the transcendental questions looming in the minds of boys and men. Jesus does not use gimmicks he simply invites men into danger to heal, fight, suffer, and die for the Kingdom of God.


Economic Security, but at What Cost?

Earlier this year, the battle for the Democratic nomination for President appeared to be a horse race between Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama. In recent months, Ms. Clinton has become the clear front runner -- among the American electorate if not the party's left wing base -- by clearly distinguishing herself as the more presidential of the two.

More recently, however, in pushing to seal the deal, Ms. Clinton is showing that her intention, if elected, would be to completely overhaul the American way of life and push us toward collectivism. By claiming to offer every child a check on his or her day of arrival, lifetime health benefits for everyone, and, now, a government funded "401k plan," Ms. Clinton is showing her goal to be the failed policies of European socialism.

The Republicans had better get busy. In addition to the problem of an unpopular administration and an unpopular war, the Republican nominee will face another challenge. Someone has said that democracy would be undone as soon as 51% of the population figured out that they could require the remainder to foot all the bills. This is what Ms. Clinton is proposing, and she would wreck the country.

Of course, even an elected President must deal with an unwieldy Congress, and Ms. Clinton would be hard pressed to get such a program through. Nonetheless, giving her the opportunity to try will be asking for disaster.

Up until now, Ms. Clinton has played well to the center, and some have wondered if Republicans will be wooed to sleep. They are now forewarned. 2008 will, or at least should, provide a clear choice between economic security (as secure as one can be in a straitjacket) and economic freedom. May we choose wisely.

Spend More Money on Politics

The Tennessean and a cadre of fellow travellers (here, here, here, and here) once again take to shouting the mantras of campaign finance reform this morning. These zealots, who evidently know the right amount that should be spent on political campaigns, merely point out the amounts of money raised and declare ex cathedra that it is too much. Americans will spend more on Halloween candy over the next three weeks than we spend electing the leader of the free world, but some people are only spooked that people want to spend their resources on exercising basic democratic rights.

Is the interplay between money and politics sometimes problematic? Of course, it is, but the proposed solutions are worse than the problems. Whether relying on welfare entitlements for politicians (public funding), or creating a scheme based solely on limiting contributions or expenditures, these supposed solutions result in increasing the distance between politicians and citizens, reducing accountability, protecting incumbents who cannot be outspent, and restricting the free speech rights of ordinary Americans. It is really quite amazing that The Tennessean, which acted as though the First Amendment was in danger of repeal when Metro government wanted to place some restrictions on the placement of newspaper racks, continually advocates in favor of allowing politicians to regulate the timing and manner of political speech by private citizens -- such as mentioning a candidate by name in an ad within 60 days of an election. Freedom of the press is important to our form of government. However the first amendment rights of all Americans are no less sacred.

Monday, October 08, 2007

Their Own Worst Enemy

For the results of a Gallup Poll measuring public perceptions of media trustworthiness and bias, see here.

Mainstream journalists attacking the amateurishness of bloggers would do better to insist on upholding standards of accountability and professionalism among themselves. The failure to do so, not the rise of new media, accounts for the lack of public confidence in them.

Hat Tip: Michael Silence

The Politics of Personal Destruction

In the course of describing how the Clarence Thomas hearings turned her away from the Democratic Party, The Anchoress laments that their tactics don't seem to have changed much since that time:

Frankly, watching the Democrats do this incredible, manufactured smear job on Rush Limbaugh (of whom I have more than once written I am not a fan) tells me I’m well out of it, too. This “scorched earth” policy which the Clinton’s brought to the fore during the Clinton 42 campaigns is ruthless and shameless, and it is intellectually so dishonest as to be embarrassing. And the tit-for-tat “oh, you didn’t like the Petraeus ad, but Rush did it too,” mentality is remarkably idiotic; the Petraeus ad was a planned and thought-out slander; the “phony soldiers” remark was a spontaneous moment of a conversation - a simple brain/mouth shortcut that delivered imprecise language, such as we are all capable of delivering at times. And the Democrats are revealing something incredibly ugly about the state of that party as they go about trying to make something huge out of something small, something real out of something not real.

The Democrats are revealing that they are not serious about real issues, anymore; they’re only serious about winning elections, consolidating power and destroying identified enemies who - incredibly - are all domestic.

Locking Them up vs. Stealing Them?

Democrats and others have severely criticized the Bush administration over its policy of maintaining the confidentiality of White House records. Fair enough. However, can you really with a straight face continue to criticize that policy and stay silent on the decision of the Hillary Clinton campaign to retain as an adviser an admitted document thief, Sandy Berger?

Well, one shouldn't be able to do so, but I suspect they will manage it.

Hat Tip: World Mag Blog

Health Information Technology

The editorial page of The Tennessean today comes out in favor of legislation furthering the development of health information technology designed to bring health care record keeping out of the age of the pen and pencil and into the 21st century. This is an important issue, as technology provides a means for addressing significant administrative problems in the health care system that both increase costs and cause risk to life and health. However, technological innovation also raises concerns relative to health care privacy that are not easily resolved, and implementation of standardized technology solutions will be extremely costly.

It is unfortunate that the editorial seems to show little awareness that this issue has been around for awhile. The newspaper breathlessly praises legislation introduced by Bart Gordon as evidence that "Congress sees the problem and the importance of the matter." Well. Similar legislation has been introduced in Congress in each of the last several years and has never managed to pass. Meanwhile, the Department of Health and Human Services has tried to fill the gap created by congressional inaction by moving forward on the basis of an executive order. Legislation has also been introduced in many states. While everyone more or less agrees that federal legislation would help move the program along, it is hardly accurate to imply that Congress is on the vanguard of this movement.

In addition, no discussion of a The Tennessean editorial would be complete without noting a couple of syntactical oddities. For example, the opening sentence makes a first impression by combining awkward phrasing and reliance on a rather uncreative cliche:

Despite the modern, sophisticated healing in the American health-care system today, the record-keeping practices in health care can sometimes look as old as the hills.

Then, there is this:

Physicians order tests and procedures for patients with marvelous new devices that perform in ways that would boggle the mind of any doctor not long ago.

Got to watch out for those patients with marvelous new devices!

Saturday, October 06, 2007

Quote of the Day

Both sides are making a big to-do over very little. Liberals and conservatives in Congress should put aside the penny-ante playground partisanship and behave like grown-ups. There's a war going on.

-- From the editorial page of the Dallas Morning News, commenting on recent happenings in Congress, where attacks on newspaper advertisements and radio talk show hosts have taken precedence over addressing issues that would seem to merit their attention.

Friday, October 05, 2007

Character Matters

During this past offseason, when the Tennessee Titans were trying to decide whether to try to re-sign running back Travis Henry, one of the arguments against doing so concerned the wisdom of investing so much, both in terms of money and of planning, in a player who was one positive drug test away from a year long suspension.

It appears that the Titans made the right choice.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Mr. October

The Oracle turns 44 tomorrow. When people at work asked me my age today, I told them that I look great to be 63.

For reasons that I won't get into on this blog, my birthday last year was perhaps my best ever, or so I thought at the time. For reasons entirely unrelated, this is one of my worst. Hopefully, the next year will include less stress and change than this past one has.

We will now close the book on personal remarks and return to discussing politics and culture.

Update. The day turned out better than expected. Thanks to those who sent along their well wishes.

Texas Politics Quote of the Day

"That's true. And if a worm had a .45, the bird wouldn't [mess] with it,"

Republican State Rep. Pat Haggerty, on speculation that he would be "sitting pretty" if he were to switch parties and the Democrats were to win back a majority in the state house of representatives.

Regional Income Disparties and S-CHIP

While most critics of President Bush's veto of legislation that would expand the S-CHIP federal program into a middle class entitlement view it as a question of providing health care coverage for children, it also can be seen as an issue pitting states with low median incomes against those with high ones. It is an important argument affecting other nationalized programs. Read it here.

Changing Colors

Those who look at political maps in terms of red and blue states often speak of those maps as though they are for the most part static. However, Michael Barone uses a current off year U.S. House of Representatives race in Massachusetts as a reminder that "we're in a period of turbulence" in which voters will be more prone to cross party lines and in which anti-incumbent moods may frequently prevail.

Indeed, the closely divided presidential races of 2000 and 2004 are historically the exception, not the rule. There is no reason to think that the political map cannot change substantially, in one direction or another, in the years ahead.

A Just Indignation

James Tarranto has an excellent discussion of the current theme of much left wing media discussion of Clarence Thomas' biography. Mr. Tarranto finds the charge that Justice Thomas is "bitter and angry" to be unwarranted. In addition to his thoughts, I would add the following.

Those who call Justice Thomas by these names partly do so because, though they don't say so and they lack adequate evidence, they still consider him to have been guilty. If he were innocent of the charges made by Anita Hill, who really could blame him for holding some ill will? Indeed, one might suggest that the justice has demonstrated remarkable restraint. Those who say that Justice Thomas should just get over it since his nomination was subsequently confirmed simply pass over the rather natural response that one would have to having his name sullied in the most public way before an entire nation.

Mr. Tarranto quotes from the justice's testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee to that effect. Reading it reminded me of the surprise I felt when Justice Thomas appeared before the committee on that eventful evening. Most expected him to reply cautiously to the charges that Ms. Hill had made earlier in the day. There was an audible gasp in the room when the nominee declared that he had not watched her testimony earlier in the day. His testimony was both eloquent and fiery, and believing him to be innocent, I admired it.

To forgive may be divine, but one can hardly blame Justice Thomas for being rather human with regard to those who have never asked forgiveness for attacking him in that most personal way.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Psychology as Political Tool

For an interesting post by a psychotherapist on Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, both as a diagnosis and as a political tool, see Shrinkwrapped here.

Just to Prove You Can Do Anything on the Internet....

You can even sign up to get a wake up call. Do it here.

Hat Tip: Evangelical Outpost

All of the Comparisons Are Unflattering

I have been comparing Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid's abuse of power in using his office to attack media with whom he disagrees to Spiro Agnew's complaints about "nattering nabobs of negativity" during the Nixon administration. James Taranto goes farther back and suggests that Senator Reid is taking a page from the playbook of Joe McCarthy.

Sen. Richard Shelby Attacks Boeing

This seems to be the week for U.S. Senators to use the power of their office to attack private businesses. Although Senator Richard Shelby's (R-AL) attack of the Boeing Corporation does not raise the first amendment concerns created by Majority Leader Harry "Spiro" Reid's (D- NE) assaults on various media outlets over the last couple of years, it still represents an abuse of power.

Boeing's CEO had made comments that the lack of airline manufacturing experience in Mobile made putting new plants there more risky than using existing plants with experienced workers. In response, Sen. Shelby wrote him a letter in which he called him "ignorant" and "offensive."

A Reason to Support McCain?

Kathryn Jean Lopez offers an interesting rationale as to why conservatives might consider supporting the candidacy of John McCain. Those who have not served in the military have difficulty urging young people to potentially put their lives at risk. Unique among the leading candidates, Sen. McCain has the resume for providing that kind of leadership.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Do You Mean that You Don't Like Mr. Giuliani?

Today's quote of the day:

Eventually [Republican] primary voters will realize that the reason the liberals in New York City elected the pro-choice, anti-gun, cross-dressing philanderer is because he was one of them -- not one of us.

I'm not saying that I fully concur, but it is a great line.

Harry Reid: the Spiro Agnew of the 21st Century

I am sure that I will be accused of merely being a conservative defending conservative people or causes, but, really, does one have to be a fan of Rush Limbaugh to be concerned about the frequency with which Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid brandishes the power of his office in an effort to squelch media that he doesn't like? Is this really the role of the majority leader of the United States Senate?

This year, Mr. Reid is writing demand letters to the employer of a radio talk show host. Last year, he wrote a threatening letter (referencing their being a "beneficiary of the free use of public airwaves") to ABC over plans to air a miniseries. And, don't forget the whole notion of reviving the so-called "fairness doctrine" as a means of potentially silencing voices with whom Mr. Reid disagrees.

In the current political climate, I suppose everything gets seen through partisan eyes, but this should not be a conservative or liberal issue. Mr. Reid is using the considerable power of his office to go after media he does not like. For that, he deserves bipartisan disapproval.

Corruption Following The Oracle

When I lived in Nashville, four state legislators were handcuffed by federal agents and led from capitol hill as the result of an FBI sting operation. Several other people, including an additional former legislator, were involved, as well. Now, I live in Dallas, and similar events are occurring at city hall here, though only one of the 16 people indicted thus far is currently holding elective office, and people learned of those charged through the announcement of indictments rather than through dramatic arrests.

For those worried, this investigation was ongoing long before The Oracle moved into the area.

More seriously, 12 of the 16 accused persons are black, and one of those persons has already raised the specter of a racially motivated prosecution. While that raises concerns that this case could heighten racial resentments in Dallas, news accounts seem to indicate that people, while skeptical, are largely willing to take a wait and see attitude about all of this.

Monday, October 01, 2007

Out with the Old; in with the New

For an enormously interesting and informative review of the historical context of the emergence of new media, along with some suggestions as to where things are going, see Ed Driscoll here.

Hat Tip: Bill Hobbs

Can't Beat This

I scored 60 out of 60 on this civics quiz.

Hat Tip: Alan K. Henderson

Interesting Website

For an interesting website that allows you to type in your zip code and access interesting demographic information about the area (based on 2000 census data), see here.

Hat Tip: Evangelical Outpost

Save a Mare, Ride a Trolley

In a story passed on by Statenet, a group in Seattle came up with a creative way to express their displeasure over the expenditure of $50 million dollars on a trolley car service:

[R]esidents have taken to calling the South Lake Union Streetcar by a new name: the South Lake Union Trolley, or the SLUT for short. A local coffee shop made hay recently by selling 100 T-shirts with the slogan, "Ride the SLUT" emblazoned across the front. The shirts sold out in days.