May each of you have the heart to conceive, the understanding to direct, and the hand to execute works that will leave the world a little better for your having been here. -- Ronald Reagan

Thursday, July 31, 2008

On Conservatism IV

The fourth conservative principle is also scripturally sound.
The wisdom of the prudent is to understand his way, But the folly of fools is deceit. Provers 14:8
The simple believes every word, But the prudent considers well his steps. Proverbs 14:15

"Fourth, conservatives are guided by their principle of prudence. Burke agrees with Plato that in the statesman, prudence is chief among virtues. Any public measure ought to be judged by its probable long-run consequences, not merely by temporary advantage or popularity. Liberals and radicals, the conservative says, are imprudent: for they dash at their objectives without giving much heed to the risk of new abuses worse than the evils they hope to sweep away. As John Randolph of Roanoke put it, Providence moves slowly, but the devil always hurries. Human society being complex, remedies cannot be simple if they are to be efficacious. The conservative declares that he acts only after sufficient reflection, having weighed the consequences. Sudden and slashing reforms are as perilous as sudden and slashing surgery." --Russell Kirk

Obama Quotes

“I have become a symbol of the possibility of America returning to our best traditions.” —Barack Obama

“You know, it’s always a bad practice to say ‘always’ or ‘never’.” —Barack Obama

“Many of the crisises [sic] that we face are the, uh, a direct result of putting off tough decisions for too many years.” —Barack Obama **“Crisises”?

“Throughout our history, America’s confronted constantly evolving danger, from the oppression of an empire, to the lawlessness of the frontier, from the bomb that fell on Pearl Harbor, to the threat of nuclear annihilation. Americans have adapted to the threats posed by an ever-changing world.” —Barack Obama **“The bomb that fell on Pearl Harbor”?

“So the point that I was making at the time was that the political dynamic [in Iraq] was the driving force between that sectarian violence. And we could try to keep a lid on it, but if these underlining dynamic continued to bubble up and explode the way they were, then we would be in a difficult situation. I am glad that in fact those political dynamic shifted at the same time that our troops did outstanding work.” —Barack Obama on the surge

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

On Conservatism III

Reading what follows, I think of people that are attempting to change things now. They devalue tradition, natural law, and the vision of those before us. What men or women do we have now that show vision as far and deep as George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, John Adams. Going back further to Moses (true law, law for living rightly and justly, not proscriptions on behavior and thought created by other men that desire power and violate their own laws), Solomon, David, Paul. Can you imaging listening to these? Now we listen to Oprah and Dr Phil. Now we have politicians writing law that have a lesser understanding of it than I. We are indeed dwarfs standing on the shoulders of giants. These giants recognized God as the Great and Eternal Mover, the Creator. Now the dwarfs refuse to recognize that, and defy God's creation and natural law, and think of themselves as the eternal movers; that natural law doesn't apply to them, that what has been proven to be true, and what works for society and humankind for thousands of years of human history, is no longer true. "I know that whatever God does, It shall be forever. Nothing can be added to it, And nothing taken from it. God does it, that men should fear before Him." --Ecclesiastes 3:14.

"Third, conservatives believe in what may be called the principle of prescription. Conservatives sense that modern people are dwarfs on the shoulders of giants, able to see farther than their ancestors only because of the great stature of those who have preceded us in time. Therefore conservatives very often emphasize the importance of prescription—that is, of things established by immemorial usage, so that the mind of man runneth not to the contrary. There exist rights of which the chief sanction is their antiquity—including rights to property, often. Similarly, our morals are prescriptive in great part. Conservatives argue that we are unlikely, we moderns, to make any brave new discoveries in morals or politics or taste. It is perilous to weigh every passing issue on the basis of private judgment and private rationality. The individual is foolish, but the species is wise, Burke declared. In politics we do well to abide by precedent and precept and even prejudice, for the great mysterious incorporation of the human race has acquired a prescriptive wisdom far greater than any man's petty private rationality." Russell Kirk

When I read the line "...that we are unlikely, we moderns, to make any brave new discoveries in morals or politics or taste", I'm reminded again of Ecclesiastes, verse 9, " That which has been is what will be, That which is done is what will be done, And there is nothing new under the sun".

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

On Conservatism II

"Second, the conservative adheres to custom, convention, and continuity. It is old custom that enables people to live together peaceably; the destroyers of custom demolish more than they know or desire. It is through convention—a word much abused in our time—that we contrive to avoid perpetual disputes about rights and duties: law at base is a body of conventions. Continuity is the means of linking generation to generation; it matters as much for society as it does for the individual; without it, life is meaningless. When successful revolutionaries have effaced old customs, derided old conventions, and broken the continuity of social institutions—why, presently they discover the necessity of establishing fresh customs, conventions, and continuity; but that process is painful and slow; and the new social order that eventually emerges may be much inferior to the old order that radicals overthrew in their zeal for the Earthly Paradise.

Conservatives are champions of custom, convention, and continuity because they prefer the devil they know to the devil they don’t know. Order and justice and freedom, they believe, are the artificial products of a long social experience, the result of centuries of trial and reflection and sacrifice. Thus the body social is a kind of spiritual corporation, comparable to the church; it may even be called a community of souls. Human society is no machine, to be treated mechanically. The continuity, the life-blood, of a society must not be interrupted. Burke’s reminder of the necessity for prudent change is in the mind of the conservative. But necessary change, conservatives argue, ought to he gradual and discriminatory, never unfixing old interests at once." --Russell Kirk

Monday, July 28, 2008

Quotable quote:

"I'm too young for Medicare, and too old for women to care." Kinky Friedman

That’s Why I Fell In Love With You Mulder

I went and saw X-Files "I Want to Believe". What I couldn't believe is that I sat in an ice box of a theater watching this. Nothing mysterious, supernatural or alien. A psychic guy. Serial Murders. That's it. What? The "that's why I fell in love with you ..." was the same issue that kept Scully and Mulder apart. Which reminded me of some wit's observation of the 'rules of reversal' that works in relationships. The rule is that the things that draw us together are the very things that drive us apart. I'll provide a couple of examples, see if you can add any others. "You have a great sense of humor, you're so funny" becomes "you don't take anything seriously"; "you're so smart, well read and knowledgeable becomes "you think you know everything don't you?"... so it goes. Think of any others?

On Conservatism I

Hoping I'm not violating any copyright laws, over the next ten days I'll post Russell Kirk's ten principles of Conservatism. I was a full blown Marxist at one time, one that had actually read Marx. Tried to read Lenin too, but it was an impossible undertaking. My change of thinking took about a decade, maybe closer to fifteen years. In 1980 I realized that the only thing I knew about Conservatism is what my fellow Liberals said about it; that my value of intellectual honesty dictated that I know the alternative view. The only Conservative I had read and listened to was William F. Buckley. Russell Kirk is one of the founders of modern Conservatism, and his book "The Conservative Mind" has been a best seller for decades. These principles he has modified slightly over the years. Contrary to what Liberals say, Conservatism is not a stuck ideology, but dynamic, and takes intellectual effort. It's no more easy being a Conservative as it is being a Christian. For me these two go hand in hand. They both take courage and discipline. I find it interesting that I was led back to God and the Church through political thought. In 1980 I began reading and studying Conservative writers, and in 1996 I was baptized. I doubt if that would have happened if I had remained a Marxist. Please feel free to add your comments and questions. These are general principles , and avoid application to current events as much as possible.
"First, the conservative believes that there exists an enduring moral order. That order is made for man, and man is made for it: human nature is a constant, and moral truths are permanent.
This word order signifies harmony. There are two aspects or types of order: the inner order of the soul, and the outer order of the commonwealth. Twenty-five centuries ago, Plato taught this doctrine, but even the educated nowadays find it difficult to understand. The problem of order has been a principal concern of conservatives ever since conservative became a term of politics.
Our twentieth-century world has experienced the hideous consequences of the collapse of belief in a moral order. Like the atrocities and disasters of Greece in the fifth century before Christ, the ruin of great nations in our century shows us the pit into which fall societies that mistake clever self-interest, or ingenious social controls, for pleasing alternatives to an oldfangled moral order.
It has been said by liberal intellectuals that the conservative believes all social questions, at heart, to be questions of private morality. Properly understood, this statement is quite true. A society in which men and women are governed by belief in an enduring moral order, by a strong sense of right and wrong, by personal convictions about justice and honor, will be a good society—whatever political machinery it may utilize; while a society in which men and women are morally adrift, ignorant of norms, and intent chiefly upon gratification of appetites, will be a bad society—no matter how many people vote and no matter how liberal its formal constitution may be."

Harry Reid, Lying, Disrespect

Harry Reid, our Nevada Senator and Leader of the Senate, is against using America’s own oil resources. He has blocked every legislative proposal to drill or use oil shale. Last Thursday, July 24, in a press meeting, he got caught in a lie (he often gets caught lying, but the press just gives him a pass) about some amendments that he offered to Republicans to his anti-speculation bill. The problem with this is that he is dictating what amendments the Republicans can offer, and what’s in the amendments. Senate GOP Whip Jon Kyl of Arizona said Reid was incorrect that one of the amendments was a Republican amendment on oil shale and off shore drilling. There’s nothing in the congressional record that both amendments were offered to the floor. Reid’s response, when asked about the difference between what he said he offered as amendments, and what the record of the floor proceedings recorded, was to tell the reporter she should “watch the [Senate] floor more often, you might learn something”. Another female reporter said she had in fact watched the floor proceedings, and it was not clear if he was offering separate amendments, and Reid asked her if she “spoke English”. Then, “Turn up your Miracle Ear”. I point out the reporters where female because I know that if a Republican Senator had said such a thing to a female reporter the mainstream media (MSM) would have been all over it, that sexist republican pig! And if a Republican Senator had been caught in such a blatant lie, it would have been front page on every newspaper and the lead line for all the evening news programs. There would be articles and reports about the disdain and disrespect the Republican Senator has for the press. Harry Reid forgets that he's there as a representative of the people.

Barack on Iraq

Barack on Iraq:

January 2007—“And until we acknowledge that reality, uh, we can send 15,000 more troops; 20,000 more troops; 30,000 more troops. Uh, I don’t know any, uh, expert on the region or any military officer that I’ve spoken to, uh, privately that believes that that is gonna make a substantial difference on the situation on the ground.”

July 2007—“Here’s what we know. The surge has not worked. And they said today, ‘Well, even in September, we’re going to need more time.’ So we’re going to kick this can all the way down to the next president, under the president’s plan... My assessment is that the surge has not worked and we will not see a different report eight weeks from now.”

September 2007—“After putting an additional 30,000 troops in... we have gone from a horrendous situation of violence in Iraq to the same intolerable levels of violence that we had back in June of 2006. So, essentially, after all this we’re back where we were 15 months ago... It is a course that will not succeed.”

January 2008—“I had no doubt, and I said when I opposed the surge, that given how wonderfully our troops perform, if we place 30,000 more troops in there, then we would see an improvement in the security situation and we would see a reduction in the violence.”

Now: “What I said was even at the time of the debate of the surge, was if you put 30,000 troops in, of course it’s going to have an impact. There’s no doubt about that.”

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Cowboy's Ten Commandments

Cowboy's Ten Commandments posted on the wall at Cross Trails Church in Fairlie, Texas:
(1) Just one God.
(2) Honor yer Ma & Pa.
(3) No telling tales or gossipin'.
(4) Git yourself to Sunday meeting.
(5) Put nothin' before God.
(6) No foolin' around with another fellow's gal.
(7) No killin'.
(8) Watch yer mouth.
(9) Don't take what ain't yers.
(10) Don't be hankerin' for yer buddy's stuff

Saturday, July 26, 2008

World History 101

World History 101

For those of you who slept through World History 101 here is a condensed version.

Humans originally existed as members of small bands of nomadic hunters/gatherers.

They lived on deer in the mountains during the summer and would go to the coast and live on fish and lobster in the winter.

The two most important events in all of history were:

1. The invention of beer, and

2. The invention of the wheel. The wheel was invented to get man to the beer, and the beer to the man.

These facts formed the foundation of modern civilization and together were the catalyst for the splitting of humanity into two distinct subgroups:

1. Liberals

2. Conservatives.

Once beer was discovered, it required grain and that was the beginning of agriculture. Neither the glass bottle nor aluminum can were invented yet, so while our early humans were sitting around waiting for them to be invented, they just stayed close to the brewery. That's how villages were formed.

Some men spent their days tracking and killing animals to BBQ at night while they were drinking beer. This was the beginning of what is known as the Conservative movement.

Other men who were weaker and less skilled at hunting learned to live off the conservatives by showing up for the nightly BBQ's and doing the sewing, fetching, and hair dressing. This was the beginning of the Liberal movement.

Some of these liberal men eventually evolved into women. The rest became known as girlie-men.

Some noteworthy liberal achievements include the domestication of cats, the invention of group therapy and group hugs, the evolution of the Hollywood actor, and the concept of Democratic voting to decide how to divide all the meat and beer that conservatives provided.

Over the years, Conservatives came to be symbolized by the largest, most powerful land animal on earth, the elephant. Liberals are symbolized by the jackass.

Modern liberals like imported beer (with lime added), but most prefer white wine or imported bottled water. They eat raw fish but like their beef well done. Sushi, tofu, and French food are standard liberal fare. Another interesting evolutionary side note: most liberal women have higher testosterone levels than their men. Most social workers, personal injury attorneys, journalists, dreamers in Hollywood and group therapists are liberals.

Conservatives drink domestic beer. They eat red meat and still provide for their women. Conservatives are big-game hunters, rodeo cowboys, firemen, lumberjacks, construction workers, medical doctors, police officers, corporate executives, athletes, Marines, and generally anyone who works productively. Conservatives who own companies hire other conservatives who want to work for a living.

Liberals produce little or nothing. They like to govern the producers and decide what to do with the production. Liberals believe Europeans are more enlightened than Americans. That is why most of the liberals remained in Europe when conservatives were coming to America . They crept in after the Wild West was tamed and created a business of trying to get more for nothing.

Here ends today's lesson in world history.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

The Call

I was on my way home this evening, listening to Mark Levin. Levin has a bestseller called Rescuing Sprite. The caller was known because of a previous call; the man had served in the 101st, as had his father, and now his son in Iraq. The father/caller had sent a copy of the book to his son, who was carrying it in his leg pocket. They got hit, and he was wounded, in the leg. A round hit the book, so the damage, though severe, was minimized. Mark sent him a new book with praise for the sacrifice and service of this great family.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Odd Thomas

I hadn't read Dean Koontz before, simply because he's been marketed as a Stephen King type writer and the genre doesn't interest me. A few weeks ago I read a review of Koontz's latest novel by a writer I respect, and it included an overview of his work and ideas. Ideas? So I read three books with the character "Odd Thomas" as the protagonist. It was extremely well written, funny, satirical, showed respect for faith and people of faith. The story lines were closer to what Ray Bradbury, Rod Serling or H P Lovecraft would write. There's a bridge between what we experience and the supernatural. There's much love expressed here. Here are a couple of short passages; and a longer passage, from the first novel of the series, "Odd Thomas". So if you're looking for a good read...

From "Brother Odd": Odd Thomas and a character are in a monastery, and above a door they are about to enter is written, "Lumin de Lumine". The other character translates, "Light from light". Odd Thomas says, "Waste and void, waste and void. Darkness on the face of the deep. Then God commanded light. The light of the world descends from the Everlasting Light that is God." The other character responds, "That is surely one thing it means. But it may also mean that the visible can be born from the invisible, that matter can arise from energy, that thought is a form of energy and that thought itself can be concretized into a the very object that is imagined." Odd Thomas says, "Well, sir, that's a mouthful to get out of three words. "

Also from "Brother Odd" another character says of the law: "These days law think it's about nothin' but laws. Law don't remember it was once handed down from somewhere, that it once meant not just no, but was a way to live and a reason to live that way. Law now thinks nobody but politicians made it or remake it, so maybe it ain't a surprise some people don't care anymore about law, and even some lawmen don't understand the real reason for law."
Now for the long passage, from "Odd Thomas", reflecting on a relationship with God: "Pearl Sugars was my mother's mother. If she had been my father's mother, my name would be Odd Sugars, further complicating my life. Granny Sugars believed in bargaining with God. She called Him 'that old rug merchant'. Before every poker game, she promised God to spread His holy word or to share her good fortune with orphans in return for a few unbeatable hands. Throughout her life, winning from card games remained a significant source of income. Being a hard-drinking woman with numerous interests in addition to poker, Granny Sugars didn't always spend as much time spreading God's word as she promised Him that she would. She believed that God expected to be conned more often than not and that He would be a good sport about it. You con God and get away with it, Granny said, if you do so with charm and wit. If you live your life with imagination and verve, God will play along just to see what outrageously entertaining thing you'll do next. He'll also cut you some slack if you're astonishingly stupid in an amusing fashion. Granny claimed that this explains why uncountable millions of breathtakingly stupid people get along just fine in life. Of course, in the process, you must never do harm to others in any serious way or you'll cease to amuse Him. Then payment comes due for the promises you didn't keep."

These books are filled with wit, charm, love, faith, respect, humor, satire, good writing and storytelling.

Quote from Charles Krauthammer

“Americans are beginning to notice Obama’s elevated opinion of himself. There’s nothing new about narcissism in politics. Every senator looks in the mirror and sees a president. Nonetheless, has there ever been a presidential nominee with a wider gap between his estimation of himself and the sum total of his lifetime achievements? Obama is a three-year senator without a single important legislative achievement to his name, a former Illinois state senator who voted ‘present’ nearly 130 times. As president of the Harvard Law Review, as law professor and as legislator, has he ever produced a single notable piece of scholarship? Written a single memorable article? His most memorable work is a biography of his favorite subject: himself. It is a subject upon which he can dilate effortlessly. In his victory speech upon winning the nomination, Obama declared it a great turning point in history—’generations from now we will be able to look back and tell our children that this was the moment’ —when, among other wonders, ‘the rise of the oceans began to slow.’ As economist Irwin Stelzer noted in his London Daily Telegraph column, ‘Moses made the waters recede, but he had help.’ Obama apparently works alone.” —Charles Krauthammer

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Conversation and Concert

Before the oldies concerts we go to, we like to meet at the buffet and converse and graze. I met my friend Cory (his wife was traveling) and as usual the conversation had all the elements of what a good conversation should be. We discussed music, who play with whom and when, where they are now; we talked about our faith, our church, our choir music, our own musical history, and about history in general. People that were related to those things were discussed in the context of the topic. Not once did the subject of some-one's behavior or something they said come up. In other words, no gossip. The perfect conversation.
Then we went and saw Chad & Jeremy and Peter & Gordon. For those of you under a hundred years old, they were huge in the early sixties, part of what was known as "The British Invasion". Chad & Jeremy came out by themselves, no band. Just two guys with their acoustic guitars. Chad played the piano for some songs. There was some music history of their era, and the music consisted of their hits of course, plus folk and blues. One song a Capella. Who now would do that? At this moment I can only think of Huey Lewis and the News, and the Eagles. Peter and Gordon sang after, and Peter did most of the talking. Heard about a young and up and coming singer songwriter Paul Simon, and the prolific and talented Carol King. I had forgotten she had written a zillion hits for everybody in those days. At the end Chad & Jeremy came out and they all sang together. Breathtaking. A perfect way to end the evening. Perfect conversation and perfect music.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Tribute to Tony Snow

I first started reading columns by Tony Snow in the very late eighties, and first heard him when he filled in for Rush Limbaugh in the early nineties. He, along with Rush Limbaugh and a few others were very important to me as I learned more about Conservative principles, and how to articulate them. How Tony Snow was able, with humor and genuine happiness, deflect the harshest criticism, lies, and attacks. I watched him as he launched Fox News Sunday, and built that into a success. He was an excellent talk radio host, newspaperman, TV anchor, writer. He was a man of God, of profound faith, and displayed that too with humor and grace, something all of we Christians should take note of. Humor and grace and love, walking the talk, will lead more people to Christ than Bible spouting and condemnation of those that don't have our belief. I don't, of course, know much about his family life; all reports though, from his detractors to his supporters, said he put faith and family first. Always.
Tony Snow was also an avid musician. He played the trombone, flute, piccolo, accordion and guitar, and belonged to a cover band, Beats Workin', a really cool name for a band. He even got to play with Ian Anderson of "Jethro Tull". He had said the it was because of Anderson that he picked up the flute. Sometimes we lose a public figure, and I feel a personal loss. Tony Snow has been an influence in my life for nearly twenty years, and I will miss reading, watching and listening to him. My prayers for his family especially, and everyone that will miss this extraordinary man. RIP

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Jessia's Law Update

For those of you that aren't aware of Jessica's Law, it came about and is named after Jessica Lunsford, who was just nine when her life was brutally ended by a sexual predator who had previously been convicted of sex crimes against a child. There are many judges that don't see these crimes against children as serious. Some examples:

  • In Rhode Island, 18-year-old Josh Maciorski was convicted of having sex with a 13-year-old girl, but sentenced to probation. Two years later he molested a 14-year-old girl and served just one year. Then, when he got out, Maciorski raped a 16-year-old girl. His sentence after this third strike - an unbelievable three years in prison.
  • In Missouri, 19-year old Darrell Jackson pleaded guilty to repeatedly sexually abusing a little girl, beginning when she was just eight. But when Jackson came up for sentencing, a soft judge gave him four months in prison and five years probation.
  • In Minnesota, Joseph Duncan stood in front of a judge, accused of molesting a young boy. Despite the fact that Duncan had previously served 16 years for raping another young boy at gunpoint, the judge released him on just $15,000 bail. Duncan promptly skipped bail and headed for Idaho, where he allegedly kidnapped, raped, and killed a 9-year old boy, molested his sister, and killed their family.
What Jessica's Law mandates a minimum sentence of 25 years and a maximum of life in prison for first-time child sex offenders. Considering that a human being is damaged for life by pedophile rapists, or murdered in their innocence, I don't think that this is too harsh at all. States that have not passed Jessica's Law or something similar to it are Wyoming, Colorado, Idaho, Illinois, New Jersey, Massachusetts, Vermont, and Hawaii. Where most of my friends are, Nevada and California, legislation has been past. If you are in a state that is allowing judges to set free these criminals, please write to your representative and Governor. This works. A lot of the state Governors and Reps ignored or resisted getting this law on the books until public pressure mounted and forced them to do the right thing.


I especially enjoyed church today. The sermon. The music. The care and love I received and gave. I suspect I receive more than I give. We are a community, and we certainly have different views on divers subjects. I like the simplicity of my church. Not a lot of doctrine. "Do you accept Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior?" Yes. Welcome. It's a done deal. We add something after that; the legs for the table of our church. ("Come to the Table", one of my favorite Communion hymns.) Baptism, Communion, Lord's Prayer, Discipleship...the four legs of our church.
Here's a passage from Amazing Grace by Kathleen Norris (a must read) about all the differences of people in church: "From the outside, church congregations can look like remarkably contentious places, full of hypocrites who talk about love while fighting each other tooth and nail. This is the reason many people give for avoiding them. On the inside, however, it is a different matter, a matter of struggling to maintain unity as "the body of Christ" given the fact that we have precious little uniformity. I have only to look at the congregation I know best, the one I belong to. We are not individuals who have come together because we are like-minded. That is not a church, but a political party. We are like most healthy churches, I think, in that we can do pretty well when it comes to loving and serving God, each other, and the world; but God help us if we have to agree about things. I could test our "uniformity" by suggesting a major remodeling of the sanctuary, or worse, that Holy of Holies--the church kitchen. But I value my life too much." She also said that church is a worshiping community, but the worship goes to acts beyond what happens on Sunday morning. It's what happens when we help the poor, send care packages to soldiers, sailors, marines and airmen, tend to shut in's, our volunteer work, and all the other programs we do. So I just want to take this moment to praise the faithful churched and most especially my own church.