12 December 2005

A little busy...

Haven't blogged lately because I've been involved in a debate on the ordination of women in the PCA, here, in case you want to read my contributions to the debate.
02 December 2005

A couple of "relevant" articles

After you've read the aforementioned Dragon Master Gunner's posts, the Relevant Magazine has two good artilces worth the reading, Tim Willard, "Mimicking the Mainstream" and Brett McCracken, "A New Kind of Hipster". Here are snippets of each, respectively:

"The scandal of the evangelical mind is that there is not much of an evangelical mind," historian Mark Noll keenly observed of the current state of evangelicalism (The Scandal of the Evangelical Mind). However, it was not always this way. Evangelicalism has become a juggernaut of sorts in the present age, but possibly at the expense of its mind. The sub-culture that is evangelicalism has successfully morphed into a dominant political combatant, as well as a multi-billion dollar publishing (multimedia) empire. One must ask the questions, however: have Christians sacrificed scholarship and intellect for relevance? Have Christians truly become anti-intellectual? more

and
Of course, rebelling against stiff-establishment religion and assimilating spirituality to "happening" culture has been a part of the Church since the Jesus People hippified faith back in the '70s. Then with the extravagance of '80s televangelism, a new generation of young Christians desired to break the stigma of moneyed, political Christianity. Enter the age of Christian rock music. Throughout the '90s a new counterculture developed--the rock-gospel youth group--and to scores of young Jesus freaks, faith became something comparable to all the best things about worldly culture. We had music festivals, T-shirts, books, bracelets and movies of our own--perfectly sanitized alternatives to the trendiest things in the devil’s domain. more


Enjoy.

The Master Blaster is Locked and Loaded!!!

There are some must-reads over at Gragon Master Gunner: this, and this, and this and, especially, this one.

Tankers lead the way, MG!!!
22 November 2005

What about peace-making?

In a previous post I raised the issue of whether I--as a Christian--should not rather be praying for my enemies, instead of discussing how best to defeat them (which I have defined as stopping them before they kill us, and killing them if that is what it takes to stop them). I said that I would like to offer a longer, more cogent reply; and here it is.

I don't want to talk about this from the command to pray for one's enemies. I want to approach it from the blessing that Jesus pronounces upon the "peacemakers" (e.g., Matt. 5:9). There are, and always have been, Christians who are opposed to war simply because Jesus said, "Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God." There are at least three problems with this view. The first, which I won't deal with here, is that it imtimates a works-oriented salvation. As a Calvinist, I reject the assertion, even the tacit assertion, that we do something (even "peace-making") to earn the right to be called sons of God. That right is a free gift (see John 1:12). The second problem is that it just doesn't square with Scripture. It defines "peace" as nothing more than the absence of war. And it ignores the fact that the Prince of Peace is the Son of a God of war. The third problem is that it just doesn't square with the rest of Scripture.

First, let's deal with the idea that "peace" is nothing more than the absence of war. The usage of the word, shalom renders it impossible to believe that shalom is merely the absence of war. Since I have discussed this before, I will just quote myselfhere
On this view, Jesus, in giving us a duty to be peace-makers, is giving us a duty to do no more than to be absence-of-armed-conflict-makers. But 'peace' in Scripture is not just the absence of war. Jesus, a Jew, was talking about shalom-making. As it is used in the Tanak, or Old Testament, 'shalom' is a word that admits of a great many meanings, perhaps the least of which is merely the absence of armed conflict. When Joseph, in Egypt, saw his brothers again--but before he revealed himself to them--he inquired after "their welfare, and said, 'Is your father well, the old man of whom ye spake? Is he yet alive?'" (Genesis 42.27) In this passage both the English words 'welfare' and 'well' serve to translate the Hebrew word 'shalom'. In his commentary on this passage in Matthew, Hendricksen says that this peace is the peace of God's salvation (cf I Corinthians 1.18). Peace-makers are those "who, having themselves received reconciliation with God through the cross, now strive by their message and their conduct to be instrumental in imparting this same gift [i.e., not absence of armed conflict] to others." Look in Scripture and see who are called sons of God; it is those who have put their trust in Him and in His Anointed One. Other wise, everyone who ever signed a peace treaty ending a war, is a shalom-maker and, thus, a son of God. No only that, but on the Sojourners' view, Jesus himself is not a peace-maker, for he says he says he has not come to bring peace [i.e., now we are talking about armed conflict] but a sword. Read it for yourself:

Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a
sword. For I am come to set a man at variance against his father, and the
daughter against her mother, and the daughter in law against her mother in law.
And a man?s foes shall be they of his own household (Matthew 10.34-36).



So it is useless to argue that (a) peacemaking is nothing more than producing or working for the absence of war and (b) that we are, by being peacemakers, being absence-of-war-makers.

Second, with respect to the God of War we must take note of the fact that if the orthodox Christian view is true, then Jesus Christ, being fully God and fully human, was in complete agreement with God (i.e., the Father) who--among other things--commanded the Israelites not just to conquer Jericho but to kill every inhabitant, man, woman and child (Joshua 6.17). He must surely have been in agreement with the Father's command to Saul to kill every last Amalekite (1 Samuel 15.1-3). If Jesus Christ is, as the writer of Hebrews claims, "the same yesterday, today and forever" (Heb. 13.8) then He still has no problem with war as such. And do let's take note: the war with which Jesus concurred was a war of conquest, which is supposedly not a just war.

A Brief Digression
But, you say, all those things notwithstanding, Jesus, in the Sermon on the Mount, presents a new teaching on our duty. We must love our enemies, turn the other cheek, etc. Presumably this means that a nation must not pursue war if attacked. This is nonsense.

This sort of reasoning assumes that nations have such duties as individuals have. So then, if an individual has a duty to allow himself to be assaulted, a duty not to defend himself, then so does a nation. If an individual has a duty not to relatiate when attacked then so does a nation. This sort of reasoning is logically falacious; it's composition, asserting that the whole possesses the attributes of its parts. Taken to its extreme, it would mean that since I have a duty to fulfill my wife's sexual needs, so does the state. (It's an extreme example, but it works better than any other example I've been able to use with leftist Christians.)

Here's a rhetorical question: If the duties of state and individual are identical, then do I have a power to tax? Do I, like the state, have any police powers? Can I take it upon myself to perform the duties of a highway patrolman? (Oh, boy, how I would like to!)

Returning to the main subject...
Third, with respect to the rest of Scripture, there just does not seem to be--anywhere--a conviction on the part of God's people that war, as such, is just always wrong. The Hebrews just were not pacifists. Clearly, they did not go out looking for war, but they were not pacifists as we understand the term; they did not--as Christian pacifists suggest we do--avoid war at any and all costs. When attacked, they responded in kind, with the obvious intention of conquering the enemy. And, speaking of the people of God, when the Prince of Peace returns, he is returning, sword in hand, with the armies of heaven. He is returning to conquer. It is interesting that this is the image of the returning Messiah that John gives us, is it not? The Prince of Peace carries a sword. To me that means--among other things--that there is something to be said for "Peace through superior firepower."

For all that, I believe that the strongest New Testament argument that the State, even in the New Testament era, still possesses the power to prosecute war is Paul's assertion, in Romans (13.4), that the State does not bear the sword in vain. In asserting that the state does not bear the sword in vain, Paul claims, in effect, that the state will, from time to time, kill people. If this is not the case, then he lied: the state does bear the sword in vain; it barks, with no intention ever of biting. We should also understand that the people whom the state will kill fall into two classes: (a) those within, who break certain laws; and (b) those without, who wage war against the nation. Paul seems not to hold the view that the state must lay down its arms, and eschew all war, in the name of "peace" (i.e., "absence-of-war") making.
11 November 2005

A Veteran's Day Ramble

We do this every year: honor our veterans. I am always happy to do so. When I was in school, I was the resident "expert" on World War II. So of course I have, and still have, an appreciation for the Greatest Generation.

But there is one veteran who, I have always believed, will never get his due. I mean, of course--and The Wall notwithstanding--the Vietnam Vet. You Vietnam vets don't know this, but when I see those bumper stickers I always do a brief "eyes right" when I pass you on the highway. (Brief, because I'm driving, you see.)

For good or ill (and I believe it was for good) I joined the Army because of you. I am old enough to have seen the protests, complete with draft card burning, on the evening news. I grew up in a college town. College students always seemed to think they were smarter then everybody else, and the ones I observed never had any kind words for Vietnam vets.

But I had uncles who served in Vietnam. And listening to those college punks made my little 8 year old blood boil. And I decided that before I did anything else in life, I would serve in my country's armed forces. Ten years later, it turned out to be the Army. That's because I saw "Patton" on TV. After that, it just had to be Army.

Of my service I will say only this. I served because I was convinced it was my duty. And when I enlisted (January 1984), I truly believed that NATO and the Warsaw Pact would soon have it out: I was convinced--perhaps even hoped--that I would see combat. So, I served during the Cold War, a "war" that someone (Tom Clancy?) described as a war with no battles and no monuments, only casualties. First, I was at Fort Carson, Colorado, in the 1st Squadron, 10th U.S. Cavalry (a cavalry unit comprised of both tankers and scouts). Then, I went to Germany and served in the 2d of the 32d Armor (later, the 4th of the 67th), 3d Brigade, 3d Armor Division (Spearhead). The mission of the 3d Armor Division was to defend the so-called Fulda Gap. I can assure you, it was a mission we took seriously. I don't know about any other element of 3d Div, but the 4-67 "Bandits" were fanatical, about being both soldiers and tankers"--probably because our battalion commander, Lieutenant Colonel J. S. Wheeler was pretty fanatical. I really enjoyed those get-togethers on Bandit Field for our two-fold purpose. Really. I did. (Elvis Presley, by way, had been a tanker in the same outfit.)

The previous paragraph was designed to give some background for this statement. I joined the Army because I thought I had a duty to do, not because I lacked education (which, in fact, I did) and not because I had few job prospects (which, again, I had). And most of the soldiers I served with felt the same way. After all, in an all-volunteer force, you may join because you have no job prospects, but I just don't think it stands to reason that you join the combat arms. There are enough other jobs in the Army that you can do if you're joining just to have a job.

I'm thinking about that today because I have heard yet again someone on the radio suggest that joblessness is why people join. (You know how they do it. They start off by being all talk and weeping about being concerned for our troops and blah, blah, blah.) It ticks me off. I'm also thinking about it because of all those people who keep trying to insist that the war in Iraq is some Vietnamesque "quagmire". @#$% that!

I don't think I could attach a monetary value to what I got out of the service. I got so much. One thing I think I got was a fast-track to maturity. Whenever I went home on leave it seemed that a lot of people I graduated high school with were getting older, but still living pretty much the same way we did in high school--except just not living at mom and dad's. When I got out and went to college, I felt so much older (at 23) than the 18 year old freshmen. Children. All of them. And they still were when they were juniors. Desert Storm took place while I was at college. Those children protested the "senseless death" and blah, blah, blah. (I was tempted, every time I walked past their protests to salute them by extending my middle finger. But I had become a Christian by that time and wasn't sure that Jesus would like that.) One of the regular protesters was a girl named--get this--Pansy. I thought that was a very appropriate name for a liberal, of any sex.

This "fast track to maturity" didn't just come by being in the Army. It came by virtue of my specific job. It starting coming to me as a result of one of my first classes at Holder Complex at Ft. Knox, Kentucky. In that class we learned how men in tanks die when their tanks get hit. I'll just say, "Not pretty." (I'm sure the Infantry got a similar lesson.) Confronted with your mortality at age 19. It was even more serious two years later when I was in Germany, when the alert siren would go off. No one actually ever said it, but there were times we wondered if this time it was for the real, especially when, to hear the left tell it, Ronaldus Magnus (R.I.P.) doing everything he could to provoke the Warsaw Pact. And even if he were doing precisely that, let me just say that I was all for it and am darn glad to have been even an infinitismal part of his evil plan provoke the Union of Soviet Swallowed Republics.

One other thing I have from the Army--the memory of guys whose names I hope I may never forget. For example: Gary Clark and John D. Sparks (my Drill Sergeants at Ft. Knox), Richard Shevlin, Scott Jeffrey, Levy Rouse, Mark Milne, David Workman, Todd Reed, Jeff Allison (I'm sorry about that I.D. thing), William Peters ("Momma Hen"), Tim Harvey, Luis P. Venero, Jeff Sanders, Pat Stowe, Michael Marsh (a.k.a. "Marsh the Harsh"), Gary Hughes ("Master Blaster"), Pat Simmet ("Fill to this Line"), "Bear" Garner (Viva the "boot"!), Barry Freeman, Billy Ray Bell, Jim Cotton, Gilberto Marrufo, Jeremiah Nieves, Charles Crenshaw, Ray Earl Johnson, Bill Powell, David Christensen, Ray McFarland (Delta Co. 1st Sergeant) and Michael K. Seidl (Delta Co. CO).

And all because I saw Vietnam veterans treated like dog doo-doo by a bunch of smarter- and holier-than-thou college wussies! I don't know who to thank.

Perhaps I was a little too "gung-ho" about it. (Oh, the "band-of-brothers" of it all!) But then, I saw my service as a sort of tribute to those Vietnam vets that I knew and revered as a kid. I didn't want to be a let-down. Whatever. Everyone who enlists (or gets commissioned) has his reasons. At least, to quote Patton again, when I think about where I was at the height of tension between NATO and Warsaw, I won't have to say, "Well, I shoveled [excrement] in Louisiana." (It's not much, but it's something.)

All right. That's what it looks like when I get emotional. Now you know how I feel. Not that it matters to anyone but me. But hooah, anyway.

Tankers lead the way.

Out.
08 November 2005

O Hammer, where art thou?

There's a great article by Mark Steyn on the uprising in Paris. (I've linked to it here because I like this site.) Read it, and then you'll know why I ask just where is a Charles Martel when you just really need one, like when you need to stop a Muslim advance like the one that was stopped at Tours, 10 October 732.

Western Europe West just really needs another Charles Martel. Of course, Western Europe also needs people with the courage to be led by a Charles Martel.

(Hubris demands that I broadcast the fact that I knew about Charles, and the Battle of Tours long before I read Steyn's article. I have a degree in history. How could I not have known? To me, Martel ranks just about up there with Patton.)

A Christian hawk?

I suppose someone could ask, since I am a Christian, whether, instead of favoring the torture of our enemies I should rather be praying for them. I would like to offer a longer, more cogent response; but let me just say this for now. I do pray for these Islamifascists. I pray two things: (1) I pray that they will stop "fighting" like pansies and come out in the open. (I will even stipulate that they may name the field and the weapons.) This will, of course, make them easier to kill, bringing the war to an end sooner. (2) I pray that they will give it up, so that we don't have to kill them. This will also result in a speedier end to the war. If they do neither, then they will die. It's not that I like that. It's just the way it must be. They--not us--want this war. And in this war they kill us, or we try to stop them. And if stopping them means killing or (I believe) torturing them for life-saving information, then so be it. They kill us or we stop them. Period.

Von Clausewitz said that all war is simple, but it becomes complex when we allow ourselves to be distracted (probably by liberals) from certain simple truths. There is one very important question in war: Do you want to win? Liberals--the few who might say yes--want to say, "Yes, but not if it means...." Sorry. The question, again, was, "Do you want to win?"

It would be nice if we could fight this war by employing the rules of engagement that civilized nations observe. But the enemy have not left us that choice, nor do they desire to do. What the left seem to want strikes me as the modern equivalent of showing up to a battle on horseback when the enemy shows up in tanks because, after all, that is how civilized people fight and we must never descend to the enemy's level. Such people are more dangerous then the enemy.
07 November 2005

Torture terrorists? So what if we did?

So, President Bush is assuring us all that we, the US, do not torture terrorists. It's long past time to ask why we don't, assuming that he's telling the truth.

I no longer care what problem anyone has with not treating terrorists like criminals. I see no problem with holding them in covert prisons or in places like Gitmo. The people who object to this do so because the people we are holding have been convicted of no crime. So, what? I don't think they belong to the class, 'criminal.' So let's not treat them like crminals.

On the other hand, I don't think it serves much purpose to treat terrorists as prisoners of war. Terrorists just do not fit the definition of enemy combatant. They are not soldiers.

So, I do not believe that terrorists ought to be treated like criminals. And I do not believe that they ought to be treated like prisoners of war under the Geneva Convention. So, what do I believe about them?

I believe that terrorists belong to a class all their own. And just as we have separate rules governing criminals and prisoners of war, I believe that we are justified in formulating separate rules for terrorists.

They are not merely criminals. And they certainly are not soldiers. They are terrorists. Holding them in a manner in which we would not hold either convicted criminals or enemy soldiers is perfectly consistent with the fact that terrorists are neither. They are sui generis; and the rules for dealing with them must also be sui generis. And I see no difficulty in holding them in covert prisons or torturing them for information which can be used to prevent further terrorist acts--or to find Osama bin Ladin (as if that matters for anything).

Of course, we have a lot of pansies in this country who just think that holding terrorists, whether we torture them or not, just reduces "us" to "their" level. Here's a thought experiment: Let's say you are walking through the woods. As luck would have it you (a liberal) happen to be armed. Suddenly you hear a loud growl; it's a bear. He sees you, and charges. You know (never mind how; you just know) when he gets to where you are he is going to kill you. Do you (a) shoot and kill him before he kills you or (b) let him kill you because killing him would reduce you to the bear's level (i.e., the level of an ignorant, wild animal)? Now, some self-styled intellectual type liberal will quibble me here. "After all, Phil," he'll say, "a bear is an animal. A terrorist--no matter what he's done--is still a human being." If that is what someone would say, I don't know what else we can conclude but that, as far as the liberal is concerned I can (maybe) kill the bear, but I must let the human kill me. Well, I don't see why this is so. And I don't see why I should not get information from a terrorist about other terrorists in any way possible.

Of course, some well-intentioned Christian will say that as a Christian I am constrained to fight differently from my enemy, more ethically, or justly. I agree. I just don't think that torturing terrorists--people who don't mind slicing off a few heads--is unethical, or unjust. The aggressors, as far as I'm concerned, just don't get to complain about how they are comabatted, especially considering the way they "fight". They use our very sense of ethics and justice against us. No one in his right mind gives to his enemy the very means which his enemy needs in order to defeat him. As we used to say when I was in the army, "@#$& that!" Why don't we just give them tanks, and jets and machine guns too.
02 November 2005

Secret prisons? So what?

While the (anti?) American press are letting the world in on our covert prison system we can recall that one year ago today Dutch film maker Theo van Gogh had his throat slit by Mohammed Bouyeri.

Now, why do I link the two? Because the secret prison story is supposed, by some, to raise concerns about what kind of people we are becoming in the war on terror. Mohammed Bouyeri is a fellow traveller with the kind of people we are holding. We have not become anything like him. To kill, or merely to hold prisoner--even to torure--does not make us like "them." Why? Because they are the agressors: we would not be doing whatever it is we are doing but for the attempt to get them before they get us. Mohammed Bouyeri knows what kind of war he is fighting; and he knows how his ilk are fighting it. We are still doing better then our enemies: if we fought the way they do, we would just slit the throat of every Arab-looking person and every Muslim we could find. As it is, we still try to discriminate between those who are participants in the war against the West and those who are trying to live at peace with the West.

Those poor people (sniff) in those awful covert prisons (sniff, sniff) are getting better from us than they would extend to us.

The only way to do any fighting is the way Sean Connery put it in "The Untouchables." Remember? It went something like this: He pulls a knife, you pull a gun. He sends one of yours to the hospital, you send one of his to the morgue.

Or better yet, and a real treat, how about this bit of the "Patton Speech" from the 1970 movie, "Patton" (and based on historical research, by the way):

...When you were kids you all admired the champion marble shooter, the fastest runner, big league ball player, the toughest boxer. Americans love a winner and will not tolerate a loser. Americans play to win all the time. I wouldn't give a hoot in hell for a man who lost and laughed. That's why Americans have never lost and will never lose a war, because the very thought of losing is hateful to Americans....

Now, we have the finest food, equipment, the best spirit, and the best men in the world. You know, by God I, I actually pity those poor bastards we're going up against, by God, I do. We're not just going to shoot the bastards; we're going to cut out their living guts and use them to grease the treads of our tanks. We're going to murder those lousy Hun bastards by the bushel.

The Nazis are the enemy. Wade into them. Spill their blood. Shoot them in the belly. When you put your hand into a bunch of goo that a moment before was your best friend's face, you'll know what to do.

Now there's another thing I want you to remember: I don't want to get any messages saying that we are holding our position. We're not holding anything. Let the Hun do that. We are advancing constantly and we're not interested in holding onto anything except the enemy. We're going to hold onto him by the nose and we're going to kick him in the ass. We're going to kick the hell out of him all the time and we're going to go through him like crap through a goose.

Now, there's one thing that you men will be able to say when you get back home. And you may thank God for it. Thirty years from now when you’re sitting around your fireside with your grandson on your knee, and he asks you: "What did you do in the great World War II?" You won't have to say, "Well, I [wrote excrement for the Washington Post]."

Alright, now you sons-of-bitches, you know how I feel....

That's all.


Pretty much sums it up for me.
27 October 2005

Actually it's, "Qué linda!"


Jennifer Garner is taking a little bit of flack for the weight she has put on during her pregnancy. Take as one example, the caption, accompanying this photo of her at Gypsies, Tramps and Theives: "Jennifer Garner is seen here walking into her baby shower. I hope she loses this weight quick!"

I mean this in the best sense in which a happily married man can: I think Jennifer Garner is a beautiful woman. (Note: I did not say, "Hot.") Only someone who has little idea what a woman is for can look at this picture and see only a woman who needs to "lose this weight quick!" Perhaps, to someone like this, a woman is fit for little else but oggling and fantasizing about; she exists for sexual gratification alone--and the viewing public's at that, not only her husband's. And she must lose this weight quickly so that we can all get back to the business of lusting for her, I suppose. (Now, I make no claim to know where this blogger is coming from, but that doesn't affect what I'm presently blogging about in the slightest.)

No one who claims to have any idea what the universe is for can fail to think that Jennifer may never have looked as lovely as she does in this photograph. In the economy of God--whether she believes in Him or not--He has granted to women to bear children. She may not acknowledge it, but this is a photograph of her glorifying the God who made her, as a function of that work we Calvinists call common grace. When you take away her acting career and everything that accompanies it, Jennifer Garner is just a woman. Women, occasionally, get pregnant; sometimes they remain that way until they give birth. When women get pregnant they often put on weight, some of which is a necessity--for the baby. Get over it. Heck, I could almost envy her husband, not because I can't have sex with his wife (God forbid!) but because my wife and I can't have children. (Hey, Jen, have a couple more for my wife and I. Okay?)

Now, guys like this could say two things. First, I'm just being a prude. The first thing to notice about this is that it's ad hominem. It says something about me, not my argument; so it doesn't work as a refutation of anything I've said. More importantly, I am applying an entire worldview here, not merely any prudish notions of "womanhood." Specifically, I am applying the Christian anthropology. What is a woman? Well, like a man, she is an image-bearer of God. Any appropriate appraisal of a woman must begin by taking that fact into account. A woman is a female man. And like a man, a woman exists to glorify God, not to serve as--among other things--eye candy. Besides, I did not become a Christian until I was 23; and the life I led before that--well, let's just say that my eyes have seen so much that it is way too late for me to be prudish about much, if anything.

Second, I'm really making too much of a photo, aren't I? Are there not other more important matters to blog about? After all, at least in this one Jennifer is fully dressed. But I'm not addressing the photo. I'm addressing the attitude that accompanies the photo, an attitude--toward women--that really is important enough to blog about. And it is an attitude which a Calvinist must assert differs only in degree from that of a sexual predator: females exist primarily to pleasure males in some form or fashion. That's what I do here--address issues from a Calvinist-Christian perspective.
21 October 2005

Obfuscation by (intelligent) design

I was listening to the Mike Rosen Show yesterday. Rosen was interviewing Dr. Henry I. Miller, of the Hoover Institution, about the spread of the avian flu. During the course of the interview, Rosen asked Dr. Miller about virus mutations and what it says about intelligent design versus evolution. Miller said he thought ID requires a leap of faith. He admitted that someone could say the same for evolution, but(unlike intelligent design) he could see the effects of evolution all around him. His dog, you see, was bred to kill rats. Dogs are probably descended from a common ancestral wolf. So, evolution is not the leap of faith that intelligent design is. (Mike Rosen Show, KOA-AM Radio, 20 October 2005, 3d hour.)

1. To me this is just further evidence of the fact that evolutionists just are not listening to ID people. Dr. Miller can only make such remarks by insisting on using Intelligent Design as a synonymn for Creationism. ID adherents do not deny any and all evolution. Some deny macro-evolution, but not micro-evolution. Some deny neither micro- nor macro-evolution. Unike creationists, some ID adherents are not truly theists. They are deists; as such they deny special (biblical) creation.

2. Notice that he can only see the effects of evolution if, in fact, evolution has taken place. It's unbelievable: he denies that accepting evolution over Intelligent Design is a leap of faith, but in making his case he argues in a circle. Evolution, he says, is not a leap of faith because there is evidence for it. And this evidence for evolution is precisely that we can see the evidence of evolution. (Consider this: if a theist claimed that his belief in God was not a leap of faith because he can see the evidence of God all around him we would have to admit that he, too, was arguing in a circle--or at least begging the question. And I suspect that Mike Rosen would take great joy in pointing that out to our hypothetical theist.)

3. Even if I wanted to grant that his circular argument could count as a refutation of the assertion that evolution requires a leap of faith, I cannot accept his rat-killing dog as evidence of evolution. He says that his dog is evidence of evolution because he was bred to kill rats. But that is artificial selection, not natural selection. When we talk about evolution we normally use it as a short hand for natural selection, which Darwin distinguished from artificial selection. Indeed, artificial selection made natural selection seem stronger. Darwin believed that the fact that men could select for certain traits when breeding animals ought to induce in us the belief that nature, being superior to men, could do an even better job. So artificial selection cannot be treated as synonymous with natural selection. (Yes, as a matter of fact, I have read the Origin of Species.)

So let's take stock of the logical fallacies Dr. Miller employed here: (1) circular reasoning (i.e., the effects of evolution constitute evidence for it); (2) question begging (i.e., there is evidence for evolution in the effects of it, so evolution is not a leap of faith like ID); (3) persuasive definition (i.e., "intelligent design" is "biblical creationsism").

What galls me most about dogmatic evolutionists is not so much that they don't "buy" intelligent design. What bothers me is that they won't be honest about what ID asserts and what it does not assert. What also bothers me is that while they deny ID because of it's inability to be tested, they pretend that natural selection is testable. By definition, natural selection cannot be testable--not even in principle. It isn't even falsifiable in principle. And asserting that it is so, is to engage in philosophy anyway, not science. And enaging in philosophy rather than science is what evolutionists say that ID adherents do.
20 October 2005

I'm no lawyer, but...

Congress-woman Cynthia McKinney wants to know: Since the owners of the nursing home where so many people died are being charged with negligent homicide, should not Michael Chertoff also be so charged?

The answer: that depends on (a) whether she thinks he ought to be charged under federal or (Louisiana) state law; and (b) what the law is in these respective jurisdictions.

Louisiana state law (RS 14.32, amended by Acts 1980, No. 708, §1; Acts 1991, No. 864, §1.) defines negligent homicide as
"the killing of a human being by criminal negligence," and criminal negligence as "exist[ing] when, although neither specific nor general criminal intent is present, there is such disregard of the interest of others that the offender's conduct amounts to a gross deviation below the standard of care expected to be maintained by a reasonably careful man under like circumstances" (RS 14.12).


Federal law looks a bit trickier. Federal law (18 U.S.C. sec 1111) defines murder as
"the unlawful killing of a human being with malice aforethought. Every murder perpetrated by poison, lying in wait, or any other kind of willful, deliberate, malicious, and premeditated killing; or committed in the perpetration of, or attempt to perpetrate, any arson, escape, murder, kidnapping, treason, espionage, sabotage, aggravated sexual abuse or sexual abuse, child abuse, burglary, or robbery; or perpetrated as part of a pattern or practice of assault or torture against a child or children; or perpetrated from a premeditated design unlawfully and maliciously to effect the death of any human being other than him who is killed, is murder in the first degree.

Any other murder is murder in the second degree."


Federal law, so far as I can tell, does not provide for "negligent homicide." If she wants to see him charged under federal law, McKinney would probably like to see him charged with murder in the first degree, asserting that the deaths in New Orleans resulted from "a premeditated design unlawfully and maliciously to effect the death of any human being other than him who is killed." Given the difficulty (I hope) of proving "premeditated design", and given McKinney's specific use of the phrase "negligent homicide" I gather that she would see him charged under Louisiana state law. It seems to me that in order to do that, one would have to show (a) that Chertoff's relation to the deceased is relevantly similar to that of the nursing home owners to those who died in their nursing homes and/or (b) that Chertoff had a duty which he failed to perform, no doubt, by"premeditated design," and which failure resulted in the deaths in New Orleans. (And let's be clear: this duty, it seems to me, must be prescribed by state law, which, I think, does not apply to federal agents. So I guess she'll have to turn back to the U.S. Code.) Demonstrating (a) and/or (b) strikes me as bordering on the impossible.

I have a question for McKinney: Given their closer proximity to the events; given their ostensible mis-managment of federal funds; given their failures to declare a state of emergency in a timely manner--are Mayor Nagin and Governor Blanco also to be charged with negligent homicide?

More takings

As I mentioned in my previous post, takings through use of eminent domain are on the rise. D.C. want a professional baseball park and they are going to get it. Read all about it, here.

A few more examples:

1. In Pittsburgh, the Mayor is threatening to use eminent domain to take more than 60 buildings and 125 local businesses in a historic downtown area to give the property to developer who will build a mall with a Gap and a Tiffany’s. (Dana Berliner, "Pittsburgh’s ‘land grabs’," Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, March 19, 2000.)

2. Boston is using eminent domain to build a new ballpark for the Red Sox. (Brian C. Mooney, "The Mismatch of the Century," The Boston Globe, August 9, 2000, p. B3)

3. In Richfield, Minnesota, a car dealership is being threatened to make way for a new headquarters for the Best Buy electronics chain. (Jim McCartney, "Richfield, Minn., May Start Plans to Get Car Dealership Out, Move Best Buy In," St. Paul Pioneer Press, August 5, 2000.
)

4. And outside of Cincinnati, the city of Norwood wants to condemn a number of small businesses so that a nearby Walgreens can move its current store to a new corner one block away. (Ken Alltucker, "Corner braces for Walgreens; Businesses prepare to be booted," Cincinnnati Enquirer, August 10, 2000, p. C3.)

(Anyone notice a trend here? These things are taking place in states dominated by liberals.)

And you will just love this story.
18 October 2005

Ransom thougths on a few current events

1. It occurs to me that one bad argument against Miers is the one that goes something like this: Shumer and Reid are for her; therefore I should be against her. It's a logically fallacious argument; specifically, it's ad hominem. It's an argument against her that has nothing to do with her, since it asserts nothing about her.

2. Certain SCOTUS justices think that foreign law should be applied against us--at the Court's sole discretion, of course. But the Consititution says:

"This Constitution and the laws of the United States which shall made in pursuance thereof shall be the supreme law of the land..." (U.S. CONST.Art. 6, sec.2).

If this is the case, then what is the state of the union, if the Supreme Court applies against a state the laws of another nation? What do we call it when one nation is made subservient to the will of another nation (as expressed in that nation's laws)?

3. Anyone keeping up with the issue of takings, since Kelo, knows that the number of takings--and the excuses for them--are multiplying. I've been thinking a lot about this and it occurs to me that there is another problem with the logic of Kelo: Kelo applies, today, only to real property. But real property is only one species of property. Once you accept that government may seize real property and transfer it to someone else, what prevents government from doing that to every species of property? Like, say, intellectual property. Patents? Copyrights? Gone!

4. Hillary Clinton, speaking to the Congressional Black Caucus recently, said she attended Sunday School as a child, but must have missed the lesson on taking care of the rich rather than the poor. Yes? Well, I also missed several lessons, apparently. I missed the lesson on patting yourself on the back for taking care of the poor with money that isn't yours, and in fact was stolen from rich people. I also missed the lesson that taking care of the poor is the government's responsibility and not mine.

ATTENTION LIBERALS: Don't tell me that I fulfill my obligation to the poor through actions taken--on my behalf--by my government. You may as well try to tell me that I can fulfill my sexual obligations to my wife through some actions taken--on my behalf--by my government. In both cases, I flatter myself to think I can do a better job! (There is a logical fallacy [i.e., composition] involved in this liberal assertion, but I don't want to trouble them about logic. Many of them just can't--and wont--be bothered with it, anyway.)
11 October 2005

IN RE Harriet Miers

Like most conservatives, I would like to have seen either J. Michael Luttig or Janice Rogers Brown be nominated to the Supreme Court. Some conservatives seem to have given up. This is it. They are quitting. Caution! The reason the left has been so successful is that they have been far more patient than conservatives have shown themselves to be. It took almost 60 years for the left to screw this nation up. Did anyone really think that George Bush was going to undo it all in two terms? Or with two supreme court nominees?

So, I'm disappointed. But we need to be honest about a few things.

Many conservatives who are opposed to her nomination are thinking in terms of her "light-weight-ness." She is not an Antonin Scalia. So be it. But she is a bit of a Clarence Thomas, who had little more than a year's experience as a jugde.

It is this lack of judicial experience that seems to concern most conservatives. But look (as I mentioned in my previous post): you don't have to be a judge to be on the Supreme Court; and you don't even have to be a lawyer to be on the Court. Let's ask ourselves what we really need right now.

Think of the problem. Those appointed to the Court have a tendency to drift leftward. Why is this so? I think that Michael Medved summed it up perfectly. Judges drift left because they succumb to the temptation to acquire more power. If you want power and you are a judge you must head left. If we really want to battle judicial activism we do not necessarily need people on the court who are brilliant legal minds or even judges. (And I increasingly find myself wondering if we should even want lawyers. After all, the military are under the control of civilians. Why shouldn't the courts be under the control of non-lawyers? But I digress.)

The left's number one concern, judicially speaking, is to have judges who are willing to arrogate power. It seems to me that our number one concern, as originalists, ought to be having judges who are committed to the proposition that judges say what the law is, not what it should be. In a republic, we must insist that character matters, yes sometimes even more than intellectual preparation (we don't want elites, do we?) or previous judicial experience. We ought to insist, above all else, that all our leaders--including judges--be commited to the principles of federalism. A commitment not to seek to garner more power for oneself is a matter of character. (And with respect to the whole "brillian legal mind" business. There has never been anyone on the left whom I have considered a brilliant mind at all, much less legally.)

I tend to believe that the President has ascertained that Harriet Miers is committed to judical restraint, the proposition that judges say what the law is, not what it should be. I tend also to believe that the President has ascertained whether or not she is the kind of person who would seek to arrogate power to herself. For too long we have asked the wrong questions of our judges. We have asked their views on civil rights, abortion, the environment, gay marriage, and the like. The real question really is whether they can be trusted with even a little power--and be content with having only a little power.

Now, we might all have the nominations we want if we could have a filibuster-proof nominee. For the fact that we do not, blame JOHN ONE-OF-THE-GANG-OF-FOURTEEN MCCAIN.

Of course, there might, as some suggest, have been something to having that fight in the Senate that we might like to see. And it is a fight that must, arguably, finally take place. But what we need right now is someone who, at the very least, would vote with Scalia, Thomas and, hopefully, Roberts. And, if nothing else, the appointment of Harriet Miers would give us something almost as wonderful as victory itself: the chance to live and fight another day, after we have spent a few more years pushing back "the frontiers of ignorance" and arguing the superiority of federalism.

But there's something else. I hold to a worldview, Calvinism, which is not the product primarily of pointy-headed intellectuals. The worldview to which I hold is the development of Scots and Dutch, working people, whose worldview arises from the attempt of working people to apply their fundamental religious principles to all of life. So I have a preference against scholars and academics being leaders; I prefer working people.

No, Harriet Miers is not known to be a constitutional scholar. So what? The Constitution was written to be the fundmental law of a land of working people; it is easily read. No, she is not an academic; and she is not a judge. She has, however, spent her life doing something that I can and do respect tremendously: working for a living, as a corporate attorney, and not taking up space in an ivory tower, and coming to the conclusion that because she has done so she now knows more than we what is good for us and our nation. And I would bet that she has now spent enough time in the working world to be rather unimpressed by the nation's elites--in stark contrast with the likes of Kennedy, Souter, Ginsberg, and Mr. Rogers, I mean Breyer.
10 October 2005

Originalism only requires the ability to read

Sometime ago I was blogging on the Kelo case and I made the comment that "I think we might all be better off if we let six farmers who know how to read just replace the six pin-headed intellectuals who think the reader's job is to assign meaning to the text." ("Is this a republic or an oligarchy," 30 June 2005 here. How gratifying it was today (10 October 2005) to hear Hugh Hewitt say just about the same thing. To be an originalist supreme court judge you only need to know how to read! It is not that complicated.

You know, one does not have to be either a judge or even a lawyer to be on the Supreme Court. Hmmmm. The military is under civilian (i.e., non-military) control); perhaps the Supreme Court, and hence all lower courts, should--following the same principle--be under the control of non-lawyers. After all, how republican is it to have a branch of our government populated only by members of an elite profession?
06 October 2005

If you believe in federalism, act like it!

Speaking of judicial activism, it occurs to me that the present argument before the Supreme Court over assisted suicide (Gonzales v. Oregon, 04-623), shows a glaring inconstistency on the part of many who think that judges ought to interpret and apply the law, not create it. The brilliance of this inconsistency is revealed by the fact that many of these also believe in states' rights.

Here is a simple fact condition. The sovereign state of Oregon passed a law in 1997 permitting physician assisted suicide. Personally, I find this law repugnant and would be opposed to a similar measure here in Colorado. But the people of Oregon have spoken. That's the end of it.

Now the crux of the matter isn't properly a constitutional one. It is, as Gina Holland puts it, a bit of a turf war. "Former Attorney General John Ashcroft...decided in 2001 to pursue doctors who help people die," reasoning that "[h]astening someone's death...violates federal drug laws." ("Supreme Court showdown begins over assisted suicide,"
5 October 2005 [accessed 6 October 2005], here) As a federalist and republican, I believe federal drug laws are, for the most part, unconstitutional--at least insofar as they would not permit physician-assisted suicide in a free state. ("Free State" -- that's how the Constitution refers to them. [See U.S., CONST. Amend. 2]). Of course I also believe that courts do not really have their self-asserted authority to declare legislative acts void because unconstitutional. The Congress should repeal the law, or at least those provisions which curb the freedom of the citizens of a free state to pass such laws as they think necessary.

According to Holland: "Solicitor General Paul Clement, the Bush administration's Supreme Court lawyer, has told justices in a filing that 49 states, centuries of tradition and doctors' groups agree that assisted suicide is fundamentally incompatible with a physicians role as healer" (internal quotation marks deleted). This is irrelevant to the court. What is relevant is this question: What is the law? The Solicitor General offers, arguably, a good rationale against physician assisted suicide, but the proper place for his argument is either the American Medical Association or the (free) State of Oregon. Of course, as Solicitor General, he is arguing the adminstration's case, not his own, but my point remains the same.

The administration lost this same case at the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals (the one in San Francisco), which said that former Attorney General Ashcroft's "unilateral attempt to regulate general medical practices historically entrusted to state lawmakers interferes with the democratic debate about physician-assisted suicide." I really, really, really hate to say this--and I hope it's the last time I'm put in this postion--but I agree with the 9th Circus--I mean Circuit. (Besides, it is not as if the 9th Circus really cares about anything "historically entrusted to state lawmakers" [i.e., states' rights]--except when, as in the present case, those state lawmakers make laws that fit the left leaning views of said 9th Circus.)

I believe one of the reasons for much of the rejection of federalism is simply that some of its loudest proponents retreat from it when it is clear that federalism will result in free states passing laws that they (these pretended federalists) merely happen not to like. In other words, many so-called federalists are federalist when federalism is convenient for them, or comformable to their passions. But federalism means just this: that a state just may pass laws that we personally do not like.

Let's get real. If the Supreme Court ever does overturn Roe, this will not automatically outlaw abortions nation wide. It will return the issue of abortion to where it truly belongs in a federal republic, the free states. This means that your state may outlaw abortion. It also means that your state may permit abortions. If your state permits abortions and you don't like it, what are you going to do? Take it all the way to the Supreme Court?
30 September 2005

The solution to judicial activism

Well, John Roberts is our new Chief Justice. I for one am glad, though many conservatives are not because of failure to assert a strong position on Roe. Then again was his refusal to answer question about hypothetical cases.

My friend and former seminary classmate, Lee Johnson, chided Republicans in a recent post:

Is Roberts a Thomas or a Kennedy? I fear that the hearings will be pointless. I fear that Republicans will try to argue you should not get to vote against a judge because of judicial philosophy, which is why Republican overwhelmingly approved Ruth Ginsburg. Then they turn around and whine about judicial activism. "Thoughts on John Roberts," Two-Edged Sword, 10 September 2005, www.twoedgedsword.blogspot.com.


Lee, the answer to judicial activism is not in the confirmation process. Judicial activism is, by definition, something that judges engage in; it is something that they do. And as we have seen, it is difficult to talk about solving the problem when there are those who want to pretend that they don't know what the definition of judicial activism is. (Or, worse, they really don't know what the definition is.)

Since judicial activism is something that judges do, the solution to judicial activism is judicial restraint. Judges must restrain themselves; there can be no prior and external restraint placed on judges by either a president or the senate. The reason is that we now live in a culture of power politics, as opposed to legal politics. What I mean by that is that it is acceptable for people in office to do things because they have the power to do, not because they have the legal authority to do (as long as what they do is for the little guy). Right now, judicial activism is as much a part of our culture as reality TV. And, like reality TV, judicial activism began with a small, almost inaudible shot (in Marbury v. Madison), before it became the avalanche it has been since just about the Warren Court. I'm sure putting an end to it won't be an overnight task.

To try to use the confirmation process at this point in history, is engage in more power politics. We have the Senate; we have the Executive. Our nominees get in. And, while they ought to get in on the basis of judicial philosophy, the people don't know enough about federalism (thank you, NEA, multiculturalists, and, well, leftists, generally) to know how significant a thing judicial philosophy really is.

So here, Lee, is why Republicans can at the same time confirm nominees and "whine" about judicial activism: the Constitution says that the President gets to appoint judges with the advice and consent of the Senate; it is judges, not the Senate, who must end the activism. The "advice and consent clause" is not about examining a nominee's judicial philosophy; it is about checking cronyism. That's what the Federalist papers say, anyway:

To what purpose then require the co-operation of the Senate? I answer, that the necessity of their concurrence would have a powerful, though, in general, a silent operation. It would be an excellent check upon a spirit of favoritism in the President, and would tend greatly to prevent the appointment of unfit characters from State prejudice, from family connection, from personal attachment, or from a view to popularity. In addition to this, it would be an efficacious source of stability in the administration. (Federalist 76,para. 9)


Only outright crooks, not people with whom we disagree philosophically, ought to be denied a seat on the Court. To do otherwise is simply to use raw political power to try to effect a predetermined outcome, which is what judicial activism is. And even if I wanted to concede that the Senate could put some sort of check on judicial activism, that will be very difficult to do until our culture is arrayed against such activism. Right now, that it not the case. In order for it to one day be the case, we shall have to educate the public about federalism...and the Calvinist world and life view from which it comes.
29 September 2005

...and the quarterback is toast

Tom DeLay has been indicted. Wow. Here's the text of the indictment. Read it and see if you can see what the indictment specifies that Tom DeLay did. It does a very good job of specifying what John Colyandro did. But, after you finish reading, ask yourself this question: What did Tom Delay do? What action did he perform? (And here is the provision of Texas State election law which DeLay is alleged to have violated, if you want to undertake the reading of it. It isn't exactly scintillating; but it is informative.) Although the indictment says that DeLay agreed with Colyandro's acts, so far it looks to me as if Delay is being indicted for merely being associated with John Colyandro. We'll see, I'm sure, what sort of documentary evidence is presented at trial to demonstrate this agreement. (And if any such evidence as is presented fails to demonstrate this collusion, have no doubt that DeLay's enemies will say, "Well, of course, it just means he covered his tracks.")

Of course, it doesn't matter how any of this turns out. In practical political terms, DeLay--in many respects the driving force behind the conservative Republican agenda (such as it has been)--is toast.

Against "settled" precedents

Much is made about legal precedent, especially during confirmation hearings. When asked about Roe v. Wade, Judge Roberts acknowledged that Roe is a precedent. I understand that he had to acknowledge this; it is at least true. (Some conservatives have been concerned that he did not make a statement a little more strenuously pro-life. But look, he's a judge, not a candidate for elective office. He ought not campaign for a seat on the bench. The issue for a judge--again--is not what the law should be; the issue is what is the law. But I digress.)

What concerns me about all this talk about precedent is that Democrats seem to be urging the idea that no decision of a supreme court may later be overturned by that same court. That just doesn't square with our Constitutional history.

It would be nice if I had time to discuss several cases in which the Court overturned a prior decision. But if we just take the implicit categorical proposition that, "For all Supreme Court decisions the Supreme Court does not overturn its prior decisions," all we need is a counter-example. So, I offer one.

Just this summer, in Roper v Simmons, the Supreme Court overturned, Stanford v Kentucky (492 U.S. 361 [1989]) a decision handed down a mere 15 years ago. In Stanford (to be quite brief), the Court held that a minor's being given the death penalty did not violate the Eighth Amendment. In Roper, the Court asserted that such a penalty did in fact violate the Eighth Amendment.

Well, there it is, then. The Court does reverse itself. And since the Left are so concerned about Roe, we ought to ask: How is it possible that Stanford can be overturned, but not Roe? (Former Labor Secretary Reich would probably tell us that, unlike Stanford, Roe is a "super, super, super dooper [what the heck?!] precedent."

One thing that concerns me about "settled" legal precedent is that we, a supposedly free people, have to live by rules that are settled--extra-constitutionally, I might add--by people who are not elected. And, what is more, according to the Left, once it is "settled" it is never to be subject to scrutiny again.

In no other shere of life is there such a principle. Think about it. I can never win an argument with my wife by staking out a position, appealing to my superiority by virtue of being the "man of the house," [Ha!] and then telling her that the issue is settled. What a joke. And even if I did declare some matter "settled" my wife would hardly feel obligated not to ask again at a later time. After all, what if, later on, some new facts indicate that the issue I settled should really have been settled in some other way?

But the courts, apparently, can do this. They formulate rules that we have to live by, and which are insulated from change by the need for a Constitutional amendment. They decide that these rules are "settled" legal principles which in many cases remove issues from venues in which they can be settled by the voting public. And that is my biggest problem with the Roe decision: it decided a very important issue by simply removing it from the democratic process. And I fail to see how anyone who has actually read the Roe decision can possibly think that is represents "good law". It is very clear that the Court arbitrarily decided to settle the issue--period. It's just not very republican. (Note the lower case 'r'.)
28 September 2005

Sunday School public policy lessons?

Hillary Clinton, speaking to the Congressional Black Caucus, said she attended Sunday School as a child, but must have missed the lesson on taking care of the rich rather than the poor. Yes? Well, I also missed several lessons, apparently. I missed the lesson on patting yourself on the back for taking care of the poor with money that isn't yours, and in fact was stolen from rich people. I also missed the lesson which taught us that taking care of the poor is the government's responsibility and not mine.

ATTENTION LIBERALS: Don't tell me that I fulfill my obligation to the poor through actions taken--on my behalf--by my government. You may as well try to tell me that I can fulfill my sexual obligations to my wife through some actions taken--on my behalf--by my government. (Yes and I'm sure I know a certain former president who would like to head up that governmental department!) In both cases, I flatter myself to think I can do a better job! (There is a logical fallacy [i.e., composition] involved in this liberal assertion, but I don't want to trouble them about logic. Many of them just can't--and wont--be bothered with it.)

Oh, yeah! Who really cares what Hillary Clinton was taught in Sunday School? From a Democrat perspective it can have no possible relevance to politics. After all, Democrats are the same people who by and large remind us of the "separation" of church and state when Republicans talk about ethical issues they care about, issues which have even the most tenuous of connections to Scripture. So what about that, Hillary? What about that "separation" of church and state thing?
16 September 2005

Senatorial silliness

It really galls me that a judicial nominee must submit to the advice and consent of a senate that is populated by people who just are not very bright. I offer two examples from Tuesday's (13 September 2005) proceedings.

Senator Leahy asked Judge Roberts about the disposition of matters if Congress passed a law requiring the removal all U.S. troops from a foreign country, etc. Judge Roberts decline to answer the question on the grounds that it would be improper to declare how he might rule in a case that could come before the court. Senator Leahy: "Isn't this Horn Book law? I don't know of any case on its way to the Supreme Court." Roberts replied that it was at least possible because there were cases which arose during the Vietnam conflict and came before the Court. Now, to give Senator Leahy his due, he did make an important distinction: the cases which came before the court during the Vietnam conflict did not involve a law passed by Congress--over a presidential veto--requiring the removal of troops. But even so, look at Senator Leahy's logic: a case such as he describes is not on its way to the Supreme Court; therefore it would be permissible to Roberts to answer. But Roberts did not say that he declined to answer questions about cases which were on their way to the Court; he declined to answer questions regarding cases which could come before the court. Leahy's logic is this: A has not happened, or is not happening, therefore it will not happen. This is like saying, "I am not presently dying: therefore I will never die--or at least not during your lifetime."

Then there is Senator Joe Biden, who wanted to address the refusal to answer such questions--known as The Ginsberg Rule. He asked Roberts, rhetorically, whether Ginsberg followed her own rule. Well, according to Biden, she did not, because when she was asked if she agreed with a decision made recently by the court (i.e., just before she was nominated) she said she did. So Biden wanted to use Ginsberg's failure--or refusal--to abide by her own rule as some sort of precedent. There are two problems with this attempt by Biden here. First, note Biden's logic: She broke a rule; therefore Roberts should break the same rule. This is the sort of poor logic that teenagers offer their parents: "But Johnny drives without a license!" (And Democrats insist that they are intellectually sharper than Republicans.) Second, as I understood the exchange, Biden wanted Roberts to answer questions about hypothetical cases--cases which had not yet come before the Court. But the question which Justice Ginsberg chose to answer was about a case that had already been decided by the court. So she was not being asked to pre-judge a case. That Biden could not distinguish the two cases indicates to me that he is not qualified to advise or consent with respect to judicial nominees.

Now, my friend Lee, over at Two-Edged Sword, probably has not been very happy. He had hoped that Roberts would answer the Senators' questions. I certainly hope that, upon reflection, Lee will recognize that telling us how he would decide certain cases, in order to get senate confirmation is tantamount to running for office. (Did anyone notice Shumer's exhortations to Roberts, "...if you want to get my vote..."?) And, as Roberts himself put it (in response to Senator Biden's assertion that if senator's did not declare their positions they could not get elected): Judges don't stand for election.

I for one was satisfied by the only real answer Roberts could give on the question of his judicial philosophy. When asked if we would be for the little guy of the big guy, Roberts replied, "If the Constitution says that the little wins, then the little guy wins. If the Constitution says that the big guy wins, then the big guy wins."

Too many questions have focused on Roberts beliefs about matters other than the law and his approach to it. (And asking how he will/would decide specific cases hardly counts.) It makes no difference what he thinks about Civil Rights, any more than it makes a difference what a baseball umpire thinks about the size of the strike zone!
13 September 2005

It's always your fault--even when it's my watch

This will be a short blog. It will also, I think, be my last on anything related to Hurricance Katrina.

It is a singular irony, is it not? The same people (i.e., Democrats) who hounded President Bush to admit at least one mistake regarding the war in Iraq--and criticized him vehemently when he would not--will not breathe a hint of any wrong-doing with respect to the disaster in New Orleans. Nothing about any of this is any Democrat's fault. When a major heatwave killed over 700 in Chicago back in 1995, I just don't recall Republicans claiming that President Clinton was responsible. I don't even recall whether anyone claimed that Mayor Daly was responsible. Incredible.

Now, I agree with Charles Krauthamer: there really is plenty of blame to go around. But to listen to Democrats, everything about this is Republicans' fault; it is just a matter of figuring out how. And nothing in the way of any blame is to be laid at the feet of Mayor Nagin (who, if he had any sense of honor, would fall on his sword) and Governor Blanco. One would think that FEMA is an interstate first-responder; it isn't. Local and state organizations--in that order--are the first responders.

What troubles me further is the number of Republicans who have jumped on the big, bad Blame-Bush Bandwagon. I am with Laura Ingraham: I would like to see more backbone on the part of Republicans on all this.

As I stated in a previous post, there are issues regarding federalism that are raised by the disaster--and the Democratic response to it. It is time to start paying attention to the nomination hearings on Judge Roberts.
09 September 2005

Worth the reading

Victor Davis Hanson, Our Perfect Storms, Jewish World Review, 8 September 2005

Drs. Michael A. Glueck & Robert J. Cihak, 'Population Bomb' Bombs With the Birth Dearth, Jewish World Review, Jewish World Review, 9 September 2005

By Rich Lowry, Bureaucracy at work, Jewish World Review, 9 September 2005
08 September 2005

Stop whining, and save yourself.

ATTENTION ALL WHINERS!!!

At least one lesson from New Orleans is this: No bureaucracy can protect you or save you. Oftentimes it is true that If you want something done right you've got to do it yourself. From that it sometimes follows that if we want our asses saved we've got to save our own asses. (Yes, it's all right for a Christian to believe that, while he cannot save himself from the judgment that follows death, there are still many things from which he can--and even should--save himself. After all, it was, apparently, all right for Jacob to save himself and his family from a famine by purchasing grain in Egypt. It was all right for Paul to save himself from an unfair trial by appealing to Caesar. If my house gets broken into by violent men, I fully intend to use either my .45 or my .357--depending on my mood--to protect my wife...and anyone or anything else. And I make no apologies.)

Of course, we all need help from time to time. So--and here's a novel idea--we can sometimes band together as a group and help each other. We saw some of that on TV going on in New Orleans. A few people decided not to wait for others to come to their rescue. All it takes is a willingness to work together, a little bit of energy, and some time.

All the time that those looters were waiting to be "saved," waiting for their government to stop "abandoning" them, was time that could have been spent banding together and helping. (I saw one woman had an inflatable raft, which she was using to carry off her booty. I suppose she could think of no other purpose for such an apparatus.)

All those looters certainly had plenty of energy and time. Many of them seemed willing enough to band together in order to rape, murder, and pillage.

They could have helpful. But they were so much less.

That, of course, raises the question: Why the looting?

Thomas Sowell (Rebuilding New Orleans -- and America, Real Clear Politics, 6 September 2005) and Robert Tracinski, An Unnatural Disaster: A Hurricane Exposes the Man-Made Disaster of the Welfare State, The Intellectual Activist, 2 September 2005) have written two fine essays offering reasons for, or causes of, the looting we witnessed on the news in New Orleans. Their explanations, as you might imagine, differ from those offered by Harry Connick, Jr., Celine Dion, Oprah Winfrey, and others.

I understand that, "Save your own ass!" doesn't sound very compassionate, not very Christian, but let's think about this. Say that it's three hundred years ago and you and a handful of people are all by yourselves in that area. A hurricane comes along and the entire area floods. Who's going to save you and your friends? No one, that's who. You must save yourself.

"Yes," you say, "but James, we have a government now. And it is government's responsibility to save us."

Well, there are in fact three governments. There are local (i.e., city and county) governments, state governments, and then the federal government. The constituents of the federal government are the states. (Gosh! I feel like I've said something like this before.) In a federal system, the governments which have primary responsibility for saving your ass are the local and state, in that order. Why? Because you, personally, are a constituent of those governments--not the federal government.

Besides, if the government has a duty to save your ass, that means that I have that duty. How do you come to have a right against me, that I should save you...from anything.
07 September 2005

What about federalism?

My old seminary-mate, Lee Johnson, finds fault with a post by another old seminary-mate of mine, Matt Powell. A recent post at Matt's blog contains a brief defense of Bush's response to Hurricane Katrina--which Lee characterizes as "slow".

Now, while Lee does make some fine points about the contraversy, I wonder if Lee missed something in Matt's blog. Lee says that it points out some things that Bush did right. But then he compares the alacrity with which Bush became involved in Florida (which I have actually criticized) with his slowness in getting involved in New Orleans. I wonder if Lee has not thought that perhaps the difference is not in Bush, but in the respective state governments: How much sooner did Governor Jeb Bush ask for federal aid than Governor Blanco? Also: when we talk about when Bush got involved in La., are we talking about when he got publicly and visibly involved? Or do we include any phone conversations he had with Gov. Blanco and/or Mayor Nagin while he was on his so-called vacation? (I have heard, though not yet confirmed, that Bush asked either Blanco or Nagin to order a mandatory evacuation, or request federal assistance, days before it was actually ordered, or requested.) It is interesting to note that the Mission Statement for the New Orleans Office of Emergency Preparedness contains this very interesting passage:
"We coordinate all city departments and allied state and federal agencies which respond to city-wide disasters and emergencies through the development and constant updating of an integrated multi-hazard plan. All requests for federal disaster assistance and federal funding subsequent to disaster declarations are also made through this office" (emphases mine).
That same document (i.e., "Emergency Guide for Citizens") also contains this provision (with respect to all those poor people who could not evacuate):
During the Recommended Phase of Evacuation:
1. The City of New Orleans Emergency Operating Center (EOC) is staffed for 24-hour operation.
2. Local transportation will be mobilized to assist persons who lack transportation.
3. Bus routes and locations of staging areas for those needing transportation to shelters in or out of the Parish, will be announced via radio and television.
4. Relatives and neighbors should help family and friends who need transportation and other assistance.


It would appear that items 2 and 3 were not done. Did you see the aerial photographs of all those school buses underwater?

For my money, if people are going to say that they are responsible to do something and then fail to do it, the issue of culpability has been resolved. The City of New Orleans had a plan; the plan was not followed. Mayor Nagin is a disgrace; so is Governor Blanco. (And yes, as a matter of fact, I do think I'd have done a better job. Governor Blanco still had more than two-thirds of her Guard available for deployment. As of 23 May 2005, Louisiana's Army and Air Guard numbered approximately 11,500 (Source: GlobalSecurity.org, of which 3,000 (i.e., 26 percent) are in Iraq, leaving 8,500 (i.e., 74 percent) which could have been deployed. Why weren't they? How many more than that 8,500 would Blanco have needed? Now that Guard units from three other states have been deployed there, how many are there now?)

I don't really care about defending Bush. That is because I do not think he needs defending. I am a federalist. Much of the vitriol over all this stems from a deplorable ignorance of what federalism is all about--and how it works. And it concerns me because I know that there are those who will attempt to parley this into yet another increase in the power of the increasingly-not-so-federal government, giving to it police powers--which is does not have, depite--apparently--much belief to the contrary. (This belief is evidenced by the number of people who will assert simply that the government "abandoned" the people of New Orleans. By this they apparently mean the federal government. The governments of the City of New Orleans and the State of Louisiana get no mention; they are irrelevant; they do not exist. Only someone who believes that the federal government has extensive police powers could do this.)

Hugh Hewitt has a blog (you'll have to scoll down a bit) on, among other things, what it is, or would be, for the federal government to have police powers. I suppose there will be those--there always are--who will assert that abstract principles such as federalism ought not take precedence over human life. But you just let the federal government acquire the power to define and then assert a "state of emergency" and who knows the circumstances under which we will see federal troops deployed to enforce law. As illustrated beautifully by George Lucas, in "Revenge of the Sith", (but even more beautifully in the histories of actual tyrannies) tyrannies can comfortably begin when a government is granted broad police powers to deal with a "state of emergency". And "human life" won't mean spit after that.

Following Saint Benedict's exhortation (47), I keep death constantly before my eyes; I have accepted it. But I'm not dead yet. And as long as I am alive I prefer to live free, so I'll take my chances against Nature: she is much less tyrannical than any government, and so is her God.
06 September 2005

Judgment?

You can always count on superficial, and therefore stupid, Christians to give yet another reason for smart people not to consider Christ.

Apparently, according to the sort of superficial Christians I'm talking about (source: a caller to Dennis Prager, 1st Hour, KNUS-AM 2 September 2005), what has happened to New Orleans is a judgment of God because of all of the homosexuality and pornography and so forth in that city. When people speak this way, they are tacitly claiming to be prophets; to say that some event constitutes a judgment of God is to claim to be a prophet.

Most non-Christians who come into contact with stupid Christians probably think that the stupidity of stupid Christians is the result of spending too much time reading the Bible. This was my experience when I was a non-Christian. In actual point of fact, this sort of stupidity is really due to not spending enough time studying the Bible. Had stupid Christians spent time studying the Bible instead of trying to prophesy they might know that Jesus taught that not every bad thing that happens is a judgment of God:

Now there were some present at that time who told Jesus about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mixed with their sacrifices. Jesus answered, "Do you think that these Galileans were worse sinners than all the other Galileans because they suffered this way? I tell you, no! But unless you repent, you too will all perish. Or those eighteen who died when the tower in Siloam fell on them do you think they were more guilty than all the others living in Jerusalem? I tell you, no! But unless you repent, you too will all perish." (Luke 13:1-5)

How could real, Bible-reading Christians have missed such a passage?

Oh yeah. One more thing. When a Christian says that an event is a judgment of God, he had better not be speculating; he better be right. The reason is simple: the person who says that such and such is a judgment of God is, as I mentioned above, acting the part of a prophet. And the Scriptures provide both a two-fold test and a stiff penalty for false prophets. (And here we come to another evidence that stupid Christians are stupid Christians because they do not know the Scriptures.) The two-fold test is this: (1) the so-called prophet makes a declaration, regarding the future (not the past) which comes to pass; and (2) does not, on the basis of his accurate declaration, attempt to lead people away from the worship of the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. (See Deuteronomy 13:1-5) Note that we cannot test what these pretended prophets prophesy: the event about which they offer an interpretation (i.e., prophetic word) comes before they speak. Unless one can find some passage of Scripture which asserts that every natural disaster is a judgment of God upon the people upon whom said disaster falls, one simply has no warrant for the assertion that this or that disaster was a judgment. And the logic of such a position would look something like this:

1. According to the Bible every natural disaster is an act of judgment upon the people who live in that area (cite said passage here).
2. A natural disaster occured in New Orleans (and no where else, apparently).
3. Therefore, the disaster was a judgment of God.


The problem with this sort of argument is that propositions 1 and 2 are false. The Bible makes no such assertion about disasters. And New Orleans was not the only place touched by disaster. Indeed, once the economic implications of all this are truly felt, we shall see that this disaster will affect even those against whom God cannot possibly have intended any judgment.

Silly Christians, prophecy is for prophets!
02 September 2005

I have a right to live where I want...

...at your expense, of course.

Dennis Hastert is in trouble for asking a reasonable question: Should New Orleans be re-built? The fact that he is in trouble for merely asking the question is indicative to me of just how much the American people, or at least a certain segment, just cannot and will not abide rationality.

"Why should the question be asked?" you may wonder. The question should be asked because, as I mentioned in a previous post, New Orleans has been sinking for a long, long, long, long, time. It is now 5 feet below sea level; when it was founded it was not below sea level. If and when New Orleans is re-built, it will continue to sink. (Who knows? It may then be ready for a new nickname. Instead of the Big Easy, maybe we will take to calling it the Low Down.) That is just one problem. The other problem is that the Mighty Mississippi will continue to dump silt, which means that the levees will be continually be in need of shoring up. This means that, however long it takes, another disaster such as we have seen this week will happen again. Is it smart to build a city on a patch of real estate everyone knows is sinking? Would you buy, or build, a house on a piece of real estate that you knew was sinking when you purchased it? Would you even purchase it? Would you think you were being smart if you did so? If a friend of yours did so, would you think he was being intelligent in doing so? (More importantly: How would you feel if he insisted on doing so with some of your money?)

"Where is your Christian compassion?" you may ask. New Orleans is where these people live. Their homes are there. Well, I am a Christian; I do feel--A LOT!!!--for these people. I can't think about all this for very long without crying. (And I am not easily moved to tears.) But, that being said, I am a Calvinist and that means that I believe in the application of wisdom to life, the right application of knowledge. So I am also, as a good Calvinist, committed to science, without driving an artificial wedge between "faith" and "science" as if there is no element of faith in any science (but that's a subject for a different post, on another day).

The application of the results of scientific research must lead one to the conclusion that, with all that we know now about the site on which the city was built, re-building the city there just would not be wise. Let us say that there was no city there right now. No responsible person would propose founding a city on that site. So why should the city be "refounded"? (In fact, I have heard, though not yet confirmed, that the local native Americans warned the French not to build a city there because, well, it floods. That was 300 hundred years ago .)

The only people who could support re-building New Oleans are people who like to allow sentimentality trump rationality. Frankly, I would like to see much less sentimentality about this and a lot more honest rationality. But I'm sure I won't see that.

But what about people who built in earthquake zones, or hurricane zones? Fine. But we are not talking about a city built in a hurricane zone. We are talking about re-building a sinking city! (On second thought maybe the Big Easy will be called the Big Money Pit.)

I suppose someone could say that, as a believer in liberty, I must be committed to the view that people can live wherever they want. And so I am. But then, I'll just have to say that I don't believe that anyone but you should pay for where you live. If the citizens of New Orleans truly want to rebuilt the Low Down fine by me, as long as they aren't going to demand federal dollars to do so. And it is only the fact that the site is sinking that motivates me to say this. All other things being equal, I wouldn't be saying this at all.

I don't understand why those who think that the city should be rebuilt can't just say so without demanding an apology from Hastert for asking an intelligent question. The responses to his asking the question are nothing more than a whole lot of emoting. I would like to see--and hear--less emoting, and more thinking.
01 September 2005

God is in His Heaven...

...well, in his White House, actually.

Listening to Dan Kaplis and Craig Silverman (KHOW-AM, Denver, Co. 31 August 2005) wondering whether or not the President dropped the ball on the hurricane. Apparently, there is something that the President needed to do, that he could not do while on "vacation". He just had to get back to the White House; or maybe he was supposed to go to New Orleans. (Who knows? Perhaps he could have stood in the Big Easy and said to the storm, "Peace! Be still!") Because, according to Silverman, his primary concern is the welfare and safety of the people. Wow. And what, pray tell, is the primary concern of, Oh, I don't know, a state governor, or a city mayor? I happen to believe that the President's primary concern is the welfare and safety of the union by executing the laws of the union (i.e., federal laws). The people live in states; the President should not have to worry about a single U.S. city--not even in a hurricane. And when and if states need federal aid they can just ask. We have a Federal Emergency Management Administration. Federal response should be already defined by law, needing nothing more then automatic execution. And if that is not the case, then it is a legislative problem. The President's personal involvement would only be eye-wash, and--if I were a state governor--offensive to the highest degree. The president is the commander-in-chief of our armed forces; he is not the Governor-in-Chief of each and every state!

According to Caplis: The president was two steps behind on two levels: (1) Verbal leadership, and (2) The actual supply of aid.

First, verbal leadership, as I've already mentioned, should have been wholly unnecessary. Louisiana has a governor. Was she providing no verbal leadeship? She wasn't on vacation, was she? I saw quite a bit of her on TV, so I am pretty certain she was providing at least verbal leadership. Mayor Nagin was pretty visible also.

With respect to the supply of aid. Caplis says it should have been in place ahead of time. It was too late, really, when the president finally got around to offering it. Let's say this is true. Why does all this have to await a personal order from the President? If the provision of federal aid must await a golden invitation from the President of the United States, does that not connote a weakness in our federal emergency management system?

Both Caplis and Silverman agreed in that one of the things for which Bush is blame-worthy is the amount of time he had to respond to this. He knew--as we all did--for days how bad this would be. He (personally, of course, because everyone is just waiting for him to tell them what to do) should have had everything in place ahead of time. George Bush--personally, like a micro-manager--should have seen to all of this. Well, if possessing prior knowledge is what makes one culpable for something then Caplis and Silverman should have a look at some internet resources which will give them a better idea of who should have responded and had everything in place ahead of time. They can start with this Wikipedia article; and they might find Jim Wilson's 2001 article, New Orleans is Sinking, (Popular Mechanics, 11 September 2001 [accessed 31 August 2005]), also enlightening. New Orleans has been sinking for more than just decades, including the years during which Bill Clinton was President. Could not Bill Clinton have done something about that? Why has no Louisiana governor or New Orleans mayor been on top of this? If Caplis and Silverman want to talk about who should have done what due to the amount of warning, they may very well do so. The list is long and distinguished; and it need not include the present executive office holder. Dropped the ball? Please.

And I am not saying all this just to defend Bush. His predecessor was all over the place in emergencies and I objected to his ubiquitousness for the same reasons. I found it offensive that he thought he needed to be some place where something bad had happened--as if no one can possibly have a clue what to do unless and until the President, God Manifest in the Flesh, shows up to direct them. Suddenly, by his mere physical presence, everything is all right.

One more thing. Caplis and Silverman made a bit of the fact that when the President was campaigning last, he went down to Florida after the devastation there. If he had been campaigning this year, he would surely have gone to Louisiana, they claim. Now, on this one I agree. However, I must sadly agree because the only reason anyone would have for visiting a disaster is really that people are superficial. Nothing about any disaster changes just because a president--or any politician campaigning for office--shows up. (I for one was not a bit impressed by his going to Florida.) And if you want to say that, yes, but his being there can be of comfort to people. I can only respond that there is only one person who can show up and give me comfort in a disaster area. And he has never sought my vote.
31 August 2005

Kick 'em when they're down

A caller to the Laura Ingraham Show (KNUS-AM, Denver, Co., 31 August 2005), discussing the disaster in the wake of Katrina, asks why other countries never help us when we have disasters, when we are frequently helping other nations with theirs. The answer is quite simple. We comprise a small fraction of the world's population and we consume the largest fraction of the world's resources. With these resources we cause global warming, which creates all those natural disasters. When it happens to them we ought to help them because it is our fault anyway; we cause those disasters to happen to them. When it happens to us, we're on our own, since it's our way of life coming home to haunt us; we deserve it. Or, other nations simply don't have the resources to help us because we have them all. How was it Ward Churchill put it? Oh, yes: Chickens come home to roost--or something like that. (See, e.g., Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., For They That Sow the Wind Shall Reap the Whirlwind,HuffingtonPost, 29 August 2005 [accessed 31 August 2005].)

Well, that's probably what they tell themselves, anyway. You know, to ease their consciences. (See, e.g., Patrick Goodenough, German Minister Links Katrina to Global Warming, Bush Policies, CNSNews.com,
31 August 2005 [accessed 31 August 2005].) Of course, no one who actually knows anything about weather cycles, especially hurricane cycles, could say such things (see, e.g., Lindsey Sherrill, 14 named storms predicted, The Atmore Advance, 9 June 2004, which includes this interesting sentence: "According to...estimates, the south Alabama area is more than 100 years overdue for a Category 4 or 5 storm." [accessed 31 August 2005], emphasis mine). But politicians these can't be expected actually to know anything about much--except, apparently, how to get and use power. And their mouths.

It's just like a leftist, isn't it? To kick a rightist when he's down. (This pussilanimous behavior is one of the reasons that leftist intellectuals are, rightly (so to speak), some of the first people to be liquidated after successful Marxist military coups. When you're done with the butter, you no longer need the container.) This sort of whimpy behavior is one of the reasons I...uh...left the Left--that and a growing conviction that (1) there might be a God, and (2) it might be wrong to take one guy's money just because he has it and give it to another guy just because he doesn't (while keeping a pretty sizeable portion for the distributor's self, of course).

P.S. I have heard that Japan has offered to open up its petroleum reserves to help us out here. But I have been unable to confirm the rumor. (If so: Thank you, Japan, for the offer.)
18 August 2005

The barbarian invasion of the US

Because of my family's (hispanic) heritage, we talk alot about immigration, especially illegal immigration. In general, I'm probably the most conservative about the matter. I think we can--and should--be as stringent in protecting our border with Mexico as as we possibly can.

The influx of illegal immigrants from Mexico is not likely to let up any time soon, and certainly not without stronger enforcement measures on our part. The reason? It's the economy--the Mexican economy, that is. And this problem is not going to be solved merely by closing the border as some conservatives have suggested. Oh, I suppose we could and it would work, but before we get too enamored of that idea consider that the unemployment rate in Mexico is roughly equivalent to that of the U.S. during the Great Depression. This article ("Mexican Magnet" published 17 August 2005
) would be well worth the time spent reading it.

Now, in all honesty, while I am certainly no fan of illegal immigration, I must wonder what I would do had--putting shoes on another foot--I been alive during the depression and all I had to do to support my family was smuggle myself into Mexico. I have always found it difficult to fault people simply for trying to make a living (though I do greatly fault people who do so and demand the privileges and immunities of citizenship, such as free education, in-state college tuition, drivers' licenses, etc).

Having said that, let me say that I find none of the arguments defending illegal immigrants very persuasive. My least favorite is the argument that illegals only take jobs that we are unwilling to take. The real truth is that they take jobs that most of us don't have to take. Frankly, most of us can take other jobs; we have other options. After all, why should someone give up a job that pays tens of thousands of dollars per year for one that doesn't pay much more than ten thousand--if even that much? The others of us don't take those jobs because one of the privileges and immunities of U.S. citizenship is that those members of the ranks of the unemployed who don't want "those jobs that no one wants" and, consequently, do not work, are able to live off of those who do work. We could try ending welfare and then see if there are any takers for those jobs "no one" wants.

But, for all that, it remains the case that the real problem is Mexico's economy. There is virtually no middle class in Mexico. And with an unemployment rate roughly that of our Great Depression, the average Mexican lives in the midst of what we would call a disaster area. And it isn't much different in South America either (especially in Guatemala). Our approach to the problem (and I don't claim to have a clue) must deal intelligently with that fact that many illegals are refugees. And it would be easier to feel like treating them like refugees if they would simply act like refugees. And many of them don't.

Take for example a certain rancher I heard of, though I have not been able to confirm this yet. He has been cautioned by his local government not do travers his property to check on the condition of his cattle. Why? Because it's dangerous. You see, his cattle are being rustled, not by cattle thieves who are going to take the rustled cattle to market, but by illegals. They take this man's cattle, slaughter them, then barbecue them--right on his property! This same man's parents, I have heard, were essentially held prisoners in their own homes by a group of illegals who came in and took over while they were trying to get away from someone who was after them. Imagine it.

In short, many people would find it easier to respond compassionately to theses refugees if more of them would act like refugees instead of invaders. You have to really know your Roman history to get the full import of this (and if you don't know your Roman history you won't understand it the way that you think you do): what is presently happening is a "barbarian" invasion. (Michelle Malkin has used her column to report on this invasion, which includes invasions by dangerous and violent gangs--in some cases machete-wielding gangs. See. e.g., her "The gangstas in my neighborhood" 31 August 2005 (accessed 31 August 2005).)

P.S.
It should be noted that many people coming into the U.S. are not Mexicans; they are South Americans.

Also, since 911 the United States have asked Mexico to beef up security along its border with Guatemala. Apparently, the idea is that many of those coming into the US from South America via Mexico may be potential terrorists. Fine. But I don't know about the advisability of passing part of our security problem down to Mexico when, as I've just said, they really have their own set of very real problems to work on. They have a Depression to put an end to.

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About Me

James Frank Solís
Former soldier (USA). Graduate-level educated. Married 26 years. Texas ex-patriate. Ruling elder in the Presbyterian Church in America.
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