Wednesday, January 11, 2012
Sunday, February 21, 2010
Wednesday, January 28, 2009
From CT, reprinted here (because it will disappear):
Michael Gerson: Obama's Speech Rhetorically Flat, but Ideologically Interesting
A former presidential speechwriter examines President Obama's inaugural address.
Interview by Sarah Pulliam in Washington, D.C. | posted 1/23/2009 04:19PM
Former speechwriter Michael Gerson was quick to parse President Obama's speech to the nation on Tuesday, calling it "rhetorically flat" but "quite interesting from an ideological perspective." Gerson's pen was behind President George W. Bush's inaugural addresses in 2001 and 2005, and in preparation, he studied every single presidential inaugural address in American history.
Now a columnist for the Washington Post, Gerson spoke with Christianity Today yesterday about Obama's inaugural address, religious references, and whether he thinks an evangelical should serve in the new administration.
What did you think of the inauguration?
I thought it was surprising. I came to Obama's speech in many ways expecting something that would be rhetorically masterful and maybe ideologically shallow, because of his ideological background, and we got something very different from that.
I thought it was rhetorically flat, uninteresting from a literary perspective, but quite interesting from an ideological perspective. He set out some interesting themes about political pragmatism. It was one of the strongest defenses of pragmatism against ideology in any inaugural address that I can recall. I think that his assurances on national security issues were pretty reassuring. He recognized that we're in a war and talked about defeating our enemies and talked about soft power a little bit with the fight against global poverty — I thought all those things were good. And then his closing theme of renewing America by returning to its oldest values and virtues — he used the word "virtues" — is a traditional inaugural theme, but I think a very good one.
He talked about loyalty, and duty, and responsibility, among other things, and I think that's both an effective message and an important one. In fact it's been the message of most of America's great progressive leaders, whether it's Abraham Lincoln or Martin Luther King, they always talk about recreating our country by returning to its oldest and deepest values. So that was a good theme. But I just wish the speech itself had been better.
What was missing rhetorically?
I found some of the phrasing odd when they tried to reach they did not reach effectively for memorable phrases. The use of the word 'swill' is very odd in the speech. I found a lot of use of cliché language, "gathering storms" and "children's children," and things you would expect to find in a House floor speech. There were some nice moments, but it was very uneven in its quality.
I don't think it made that much difference to the two million people on the Mall — they were into the moment, and I don't think the speech was terrible, but it was a missed opportunity. This was an unbelievably historic moment, and you look for example at the end of that speech, at the mentioning of Valley Forge and those values, and that's fine, but it could have literally been given by any president in American history. There was nothing specific to the moment, nothing that made it the summary of this great, extraordinary cultural progress culminating in an African American president. Maybe he did that on purpose, maybe he didn't want that to be the rhetorical culmination of much of American history. Maybe he just wanted to lower his sights and be less ambitious. But it's hard for me to be a fan of that as a fan of rhetoric.
How does this compare to his campaign speeches?
I think he rose in the Democratic Party because of some very fine speeches that he gave, his speech on the night of his Iowa victory I thought was a brilliant speech. His race speech in Philadelphia I thought was a serious speech, a serious and interesting speech. But now he's given two speeches in the most high profile settings: his convention speech, which was actually very poor — it was unbelievably typical — and now his inaugural speech, which was not that bad, but it wasn't equal to the moment. Somebody's going to eventually notice that this man who has risen because of his speaking ability has not risen to the moment in some very important historical contexts.
How did you prepare for President Bush's inaugural addresses?
I read every single inaugural in American history when I was preparing for the first one in 2001. There were some weak ones, but there was some marvelous rhetoric as well. The story of America is, in many ways, the story of this extraordinary founding flaw, that we were a nation dedicated to liberty that was also a prison for millions of people. It explains the arguments at the constitutional convention, the run-up to a bloody Civil War, reconstruction, civil rights, and in 45 years we've gone from a circumstance in which when Martin Luther King spoke in 1963 civil rights workers were murdered, where African Americans with doctorate degrees where denied the right to vote because of so-called literacy questions that asked how many bubbles are in a bar of soap and how many jellybeans are there in a jar. That is the central story of American history and one of the dramatic stories in world history, the progress we've made. Obama did nothing to summarize that moment. He made one reference to his father, if he had been here 50 or 60 years ago he might have been denied service. Which I thought was fine, but it needed ambitious rhetorical summary and he purposely did not do it.
What about Rick Warren and Lowery's prayers?
I think Rick Warren did a great job, but I also think Reverend Lowery did a great job. I was very impressed with him, because for me, who was looking for this kind of summary moment, it was very nice to have one of the large figures from the civil rights era putting his blessing on this moment in American history and to hear the cadences of civil rights rhetoric in his prayer. I know some people found it a bit much; I found it very much a great rhetorical tradition in America, which I wish I had seen a little more of in Obama's speech.
Did you parse Rick Warren's prayer?
Not really. He made a point of using Jesus' name, which I think is a genuine pluralism. Pluralism shouldn't mean that we have these common denominator situations; it means that everybody should have a voice. I thought that was a strong reassertion of that. Warren was appropriately enthusiastic about the moment. My basic view there for all the controversy is it's a biblical mandate to pray for those in authority, and that's what Rick Warren did.
Obama's speech had several religious references. What did you think of them?
He was completely within the tradition of American inaugural speeches. I mean they often have references to scriptural passages. His were 'setting aside childish things,' which I thought was a very effective line, it called attention to one of his great political strengths, which is he seems like an adult. He has a very mature manner. And he also used the phrase still waters, which I thought was interesting. But you know, there's a little bit of a double standard here.
When George W. Bush used scriptural passages they thought it was somehow a threat to the Constitution and when Barack Obama uses them they're normal rhetorical devices. But I thought it was interesting, the one thing that maybe was unprecedented in the speech was the mention of nonbelievers in the litany. That's something other presidents, including George Bush, have done in other speeches, but not an inaugural address. I think it's a recognition of an electoral reality that you've had over the last few decades, a significant growth in an area of voters identified as nonreligious. That was recognition of reality. It didn't bother me at all but it was interesting. So I thought he made fairly good use of religious references.
Does it matter if Obama has any evangelicals in his administration?
I've never really viewed it that somehow you need some quota of evangelicals. I think the policy matters more.
I do know that the Obama transition team has worked pretty closely with Jim Wallis and some other religious leaders in some early stages of policy development. I'm told that their director of the domestic policy council is very open to faith-based ideas and other things.
The encouraging thing is that Obama comes from a community organizer background and at least understands the role of faith and faith-based institutions in our society and you hope that translates broadly in his administration. But we also know there are elements of the Democratic party that are deeply secular and have been highly critical of any recognition or cooperation with the role of faith-based institutions in our public life, and so I think that's probably a struggle within administration. I hope Obama's viewpoint, at least the one he outlined in the campaign, prevails.
Tuesday, January 20, 2009
My own favorite address, as I have mentioned many times before, is Lincoln's Second. Nevertheless, Thomas Jefferson's first, is a meditation in good government. An excerpt:
During the contest of opinion through which we have passed the animation of discussions and of exertions has sometimes worn an aspect which might impose on strangers unused to think freely and to speak and to write what they think; but this being now decided by the voice of the nation, announced according to the rules of the Constitution, all will, of course, arrange themselves under the will of the law, and unite in common efforts for the common good. All, too, will bear in mind this sacred principle, that though the will of the majority is in all cases to prevail, that will to be rightful must be reasonable; that the minority possess their equal rights, which equal law must protect, and to violate would be oppression. Let us, then, fellow-citizens, unite with one heart and one mind. Let us restore to social intercourse that harmony and affection without which liberty and even life itself are but dreary things. And let us reflect that, having banished from our land that religious intolerance under which mankind so long bled and suffered, we have yet gained little if we countenance a political intolerance as despotic, as wicked, and capable of as bitter and bloody persecutions. During the throes and convulsions of the ancient world, during the agonizing spasms of infuriated man, seeking through blood and slaughter his long-lost liberty, it was not wonderful that the agitation of the billows should reach even this distant and peaceful shore; that this should be more felt and feared by some and less by others, and should divide opinions as to measures of safety. But every difference of opinion is not a difference of principle. We have called by different names brethren of the same principle. We are all Republicans, we are all Federalists. If there be any among us who would wish to dissolve this Union or to change its republican form, let them stand undisturbed as monuments of the safety with which error of opinion may be tolerated where reason is left free to combat it. I know, indeed, that some honest men fear that a republican government can not be strong, that this Government is not strong enough; but would the honest patriot, in the full tide of successful experiment, abandon a government which has so far kept us free and firm on the theoretic and visionary fear that this Government, the world's best hope, may by possibility want energy to preserve itself? I trust not. I believe this, on the contrary, the strongest Government on earth. I believe it the only one where every man, at the call of the law, would fly to the standard of the law, and would meet invasions of the public order as his own personal concern. Sometimes it is said that man can not be trusted with the government of himself. Can he, then, be trusted with the government of others? Or have we found angels in the forms of kings to govern him? Let history answer this question.
Let us, then, with courage and confidence pursue our own Federal and Republican principles, our attachment to union and representative government. Kindly separated by nature and a wide ocean from the exterminating havoc of one quarter of the globe; too high-minded to endure the degradations of the others; possessing a chosen country, with room enough for our descendants to the thousandth and thousandth generation; entertaining a due sense of our equal right to the use of our own faculties, to the acquisitions of our own industry, to honor and confidence from our fellow-citizens, resulting not from birth, but from our actions and their sense of them; enlightened by a benign religion, professed, indeed, and practiced in various forms, yet all of them inculcating honesty, truth, temperance, gratitude, and the love of man; acknowledging and adoring an overruling Providence, which by all its dispensations proves that it delights in the happiness of man here and his greater happiness hereafter—with all these blessings, what more is necessary to make us a happy and a prosperous people? Still one thing more, fellow-citizens—a wise and frugal Government, which shall restrain men from injuring one another, shall leave them otherwise free to regulate their own pursuits of industry and improvement, and shall not take from the mouth of labor the bread it has earned. This is the sum of good government, and this is necessary to close the circle of our felicities.
About to enter, fellow-citizens, on the exercise of duties which comprehend everything dear and valuable to you, it is proper you should understand what I deem the essential principles of our Government, and consequently those which ought to shape its Administration. I will compress them within the narrowest compass they will bear, stating the general principle, but not all its limitations. Equal and exact justice to all men, of whatever state or persuasion, religious or political; peace, commerce, and honest friendship with all nations, entangling alliances with none; the support of the State governments in all their rights, as the most competent administrations for our domestic concerns and the surest bulwarks against antirepublican tendencies; the preservation of the General Government in its whole constitutional vigor, as the sheet anchor of our peace at home and safety abroad; a jealous care of the right of election by the people—a mild and safe corrective of abuses which are lopped by the sword of revolution where peaceable remedies are unprovided; absolute acquiescence in the decisions of the majority, the vital principle of republics, from which is no appeal but to force, the vital principle and immediate parent of despotism; a well disciplined militia, our best reliance in peace and for the first moments of war, till regulars may relieve them; the supremacy of the civil over the military authority; economy in the public expense, that labor may be lightly burthened; the honest payment of our debts and sacred preservation of the public faith; encouragement of agriculture, and of commerce as its handmaid; the diffusion of information and arraignment of all abuses at the bar of the public reason; freedom of religion; freedom of the press, and freedom of person under the protection of the habeas corpus, and trial by juries impartially selected. These principles form the bright constellation which has gone before us and guided our steps through an age of revolution and reformation. The wisdom of our sages and blood of our heroes have been devoted to their attainment. They should be the creed of our political faith, the text of civic instruction, the touchstone by which to try the services of those we trust; and should we wander from them in moments of error or of alarm, let us hasten to retrace our steps and to regain the road which alone leads to peace, liberty, and safety.
March 4, 1801
Friday, January 02, 2009
Thursday, December 18, 2008
Sam Baugh, the Greatest Football Player there ever was.
I picked up the paper and saw that Samuel Adrian "Sammy" Baugh passed from legend into Glory yesterday. Without a doubt, he was the greatest player that football ever saw.
He played both quarterback on offense and safety on defense, plus was the punter for the Washington Redskins. As noted in his Wikipedia entry:
By the time he retired, Baugh set 13 NFL records in three player positions: quarterback, punter, and defensive back.
Two of his records as quarterback still stand: most seasons leading the league in passing (six; tied with Steve Young) and most seasons leading the league with the lowest interception percentage (five). He is also second in highest single-season completion percentage (70.33), most seasons leading the league in yards gained (four) and most seasons leading the league in completion percentage (seven).
As a punter, Baugh retired with the NFL record for highest punting average in a career (45.1 yards), and is still 2nd all-time (Shane Lechler 46.5 yards), and has the best (51.4 in 1940) and third best (48.7 in 1941) season marks. As a defensive back, he was the first player in league history to intercept four passes in a game, and is the only player to lead the league in passing, punting and interceptions in the same season. Baugh also led the league in punting from 1940 through 1943.
The game in which he intercepted four passes, he also threw for four touchdowns - against Detroit in 1943.
My favorite story about Sam Baugh (he was known as Sammy or Slingin' Sammy, but preferred Sam) was about the 1940 title game, which the Bears won 73-0 (still the most lopsided game in pro football history). Earlier that season, the Redskins had won a close game against the Bears, 7-3, and this game figured to be close as well. The Bears took an early lead, 7-0, on the second play of the game when their fullback, "Bullet Bill" Osmanski, broke off a 68 yard dash to the end zone. The Redskins responded by methodically marching down the field and Baugh hit Charlie Malone in the end zone with a perfect pass. Unfortunately, the usually sure-handed receiver dropped the pass and the Redskins failed to score. After the game, the sportswriters wanted to know if that was a turning point - "Would the game have been different had Malone caught that pass?"
Sam reflected, momentarily and drawled, "Sure, the final score would have been 73-7."
Sam Baugh was a man. The greatest who ever played football.
A tribute on the ESPN website.
Monday, December 15, 2008
It isn't just James Gleick or Bruce Feiler, consider this from John Steinbeck:
The split second has been growing more and more important to us. And as human activities become more and more intermeshed and integrated, the split tenth of a second will emerge, and then a new name must be made for the split hundredth, until one day, although I don't believe it, we'll say, "Oh, the hell with it. What's wrong with an hour?" But it isn't silly, this preoccupation with small time units. One thing late or early can disrupt everything around it, and the disturbance runs outward in bands like the waves from a dropped stone in a quiet pool.
-John Steinbeck, East of Eden, 1952 (Chapter 49).
Sunday, December 07, 2008
Here you can listen to the radio bulletins, as recorded at the time, of the attacks on Pearl Harbor and other military bases in the Pacific.
Here is a news article which gives some background on how some of these recordings were made - which wasn't normal at that time.
At Thanksgiving, my father told us his memories of December 7, 1941. He had gone with his family and aunts to a special presentation at St. Casimir's Catholic Church in Lansing on missionary efforts in Alaska. They had a party afterward in the parish hall and then went home. He remembers the radio reports and, then, he said, all the women started crying, because this meant war and the loss of sons and husbands and brothers...
Saturday, November 08, 2008
Wednesday, November 05, 2008
An opinion piece in today's Wall Street Journal by "an investigative reporter and lawyer who previously interned with John F. Kerry's legal team during the presidential election in 2004."
Please read it all.
Tuesday, November 04, 2008
Friday, October 31, 2008
I'm mostly done with the updates - some of the links are broken and I need to go back and fix those.
Also, I'm having trouble posting the ProLife Blogs icon on my sidebar:
If anyone has any ideas, please let me know.
Thursday, October 30, 2008
Here is audio of Senator Barack Obama arguing against the Born Alive Abortion Bill in Illinois:
What happens to the mind of a person, and the moral fabric of a nation, that accepts the aborting of the life of a baby without a pang of conscience? What kind of a person and what kind of a society will we have twenty years hence if life can be taken so casually? It is that question, the question of our attitude, our value system, and our mind set with regard to the nature and worth of life itself that is the central question confronting mankind. Failure to answer that question affirmatively may leave us with a hell right here on earth.
- Jesse Jackson, National Right to Life News, January 1977.
Tuesday, October 28, 2008
Friday, October 24, 2008
BabyBlue has a story - a true story up about a man named Frank who reads "the series called, 'Conversations with God'. . . the third book in the series discusses suicide and emphasizes suicide as 'a personal choice'...
This is a story about Frank.
Frank was a bright young officer under my command in Kosovo. We spent many long hours talking, especially late at night when all was quiet, unless their was a disturbance downtown or something. Frank was a recovering alcoholic and a man in search of answers. I worked hard with him, making steady progress until I finally reached the point where I could share the Gospel with him.
Please read it all
Thursday, October 23, 2008
Today, we observe those who died in the 1983 Beirut Marine barracks bombing. It happened 25 years ago, October 23, 1983.
Here is a list of those who died for our country that day; 220 Marines, 18 Navy sailors and three Army soldiers.
Remember too, the near simultaneous attack on the 3rd Company of the 1st Parachute Infantry Regiment, France (La 3ème Compagnie, 1er Régiment de Chasseurs Parachutistes) which killed 58.
And then there came a shadow, swift and sudden, dark and drear;
The bells were silent, not an echo stirred.
The flags were drooping sullenly, the men forgot to cheer;
We waited, and we never spoke a word.
The sky grew darker, darker, till from out the gloomy rack
There came a voice that checked the heart with dread:
"Tear down, tear down your bunting now, and hang up sable black;
They are coming -- it's the Army of the Dead."
* * *
The folks were white and stricken, and each tongue seemed weighted with lead;
Each heart was clutched in hollow hand of ice;
And every eye was staring at the horror of the dead,
The pity of the men who paid the price.
They were come, were come to mock us, in the first flush of our peace;
Through writhing lips their teeth were all agleam;
They were coming in their thousands -- oh, would they never cease!
I closed my eyes, and then -- it was a dream.
There was triumph, triumph, triumph down the scarlet gleaming street;
The town was mad; a man was like a boy.
A thousand flags were flaming where the sky and city meet;
A thousand bells were thundering the joy.
There was music, mirth and sunshine; but some eyes shone with regret;
And while we stun with cheers our homing braves,
O God, in Thy great mercy, let us nevermore forget
The graves they left behind, the bitter graves.
Robert W. Service
The March of the Dead
Sunday, October 19, 2008
The smart side of the blogosphere continues to look at the evasions by the Obama camp on his extreme pro-abortion stance and his efforts to downplay that stance.
First, here's Archbishop Chaput, at Public Discourse, excerpt:
Prof. Kmiec has a strong record of service to the Church and the nation in his past. He served in the Reagan administration, and he supported Mitt Romney's campaign for president before switching in a very public way to Barack Obama earlier this year. In his own book he quotes from Render Unto Caesar at some length. In fact, he suggests that his reasoning and mine are ''not far distant on the moral inquiry necessary in the election of 2008.'' Unfortunately, he either misunderstands or misuses my words, and he couldn't be more mistaken.Notre Dame Law Prof. Rick Garnett writes of the Kmeic essay, mentioned below:
I believe that Senator Obama, whatever his other talents, is the most committed ''abortion-rights'' presidential candidate of either major party since the Roe v. Wade abortion decision in 1973. Despite what Prof. Kmiec suggests, the party platform Senator Obama runs on this year is not only aggressively ''pro-choice;'' it has also removed any suggestion that killing an unborn child might be a regrettable thing. On the question of homicide against the unborn child - and let's remember that the great Lutheran pastor Dietrich Bonhoeffer explicitly called abortion ''murder'' - the Democratic platform that emerged from Denver in August 2008 is clearly anti-life.
Prof. Kmiec argues that there are defensible motives to support Senator Obama. Speaking for myself, I do not know any proportionate reason that could outweigh more than 40 million unborn children killed by abortion and the many millions of women deeply wounded by the loss and regret abortion creates.
To suggest - as some Catholics do - that Senator Obama is this year's ''real'' prolife candidate requires a peculiar kind of self-hypnosis, or moral confusion, or worse.
Doug Kmiec's latest, in the L.A. Times, seems, at the end of the day, to endorse the old "personally opposed but . . . " argument from Gov. Cuomo's Notre Dame speech....In Newsweek, the unholy trio of Obama apologists (Nicholas P. Cafardi, M. Cathleen Kaveny and Douglas W. Kmiec) who claim to be communicants in the Church of Rome respond to George Weigel. Unfortunately, the best they can offer about Obama is that he's not McCain:* * *
This is not the pro-life view. Nor, until a few months ago, would Doug Kmiec have regarded this as the pro-life view. It is emphatically not the case - at least, it is not the case for those who hold the views that Prof. Kmiec always professed to hold — that the regulation of abortion involves a burden on the religious freedom of those who do not believe that unborn children are entitled, as a matter of human rights, the protection of the law. To protect unborn children is to vindicate human-rights commitments. It is not to impose sectarian morality on non-adherents. (Remember, Doug Kmiec professes to believe that the Constitution requires governments to ban abortion. It doesn't, but that's not the issue. Can it be that the Constitution requires a ban *and* that "the law must simply leave space for the exercise of individual judgment"?)
The church asks its faithful to find meaningful—not hypothetical—ways to promote human life. While getting the law and philosophy right might eventually do that, it does bring up the question: What are you doing for the cause of life now? The McCain answer: not much.They are unable to give any positive reason explaining how voting for the radical pro-abortion Obama is consistent with Roman Catholic theology.
Besides being prepared to nominate justices like Samuel Alito and John Roberts, who in keeping with their judicial oath are certainly not on record as having a predetermined view on the reversal of Roe, McCain's planning has all the narrow, in-built affluent bias of the near-identical Bush ideas. In terms of health care, McCain makes no provision for the uninsured and proposes that the insured pay more, in all likelihood dumping people into a private insurance market that is more expensive and less responsive to those with pre-existing conditions.
On Mirror of Justice, Richard Stith replies:
Doug Kmiec, Cathy Kaveny, and Nick Cafardi make some good arguments for voting for a Democrat who actually helps women choose life as opposed to a Republican who pays only lip-service to the pro-life cause (even though lip-service from a bully pulpit counts for a lot). As a life-long Democrat, a passive member of Democrats for Life, and an active member of Consistent Life [formerly “Seamless Garment Network”], I would be quite open to such an argument.More later, I'm sure.
But that argument would be valid only if we had candidates like Jimmy Carter running against pitiless Republicans.
By contrast, Obama has refused to endorse our modest Democrats for Life proposal to help women choose life. Far worse, he has said that his first act in office will be to sign the Freedom of Choice Act. FOCA will hurt women as well as children, especially because it will eliminate state laws that discourage overly hasty abortion decisions.
Why don’t Doug and his friends ever respond fully to the FOCA question raised by Weigel and George? (I call Doug “Doug” because he was my colleague here in Valparaiso for two years or so, during which, by the way, I don’t recall him ever hinting that he agreed with my pro-life stance. I was pleasantly surprised to hear of his views later on.)
More generally, they don’t seem to take seriously Cardinal George’s statement that “children continue to be killed [by abortion], and we live therefore, in a country drenched in blood. This can't be something you start playing pragmatically against other issues.”
My suspicion is that all three of them –and indeed John McCain as well—have failed to grasp the fundamental pro-life argument for human equality....
From Richard John Neuhaus:
As abortion extremists put it, the woman has a right to a dead baby. Obama apparently agrees, even saying that it is a constitutional right. In this he goes farther than almost any reputable constitutional scholar, claiming that the abortion license is covered by a right to “privacy” that is found not only in the “penumbra and emanations” of the Constitution but in the Constitution itself.
This, together with his adamant support for the government funding of abortion and for the Freedom of Choice Act, which would eliminate all state regulation of abortion–including waiting periods, parental notification, and other very modest measures–leaves no doubt that Senator Obama is on the farthest edge of abortion extremism. And it highlights what is arguably the most important single issue in this election: Who, as president, will get to nominate the next one, or two, or three, justices to the Supreme Court.
BTW, I looked for a link to this here and see I failed to mention it last spring. Therefore, from last April, this by Michael Gerson, in part:
But Obama's record on abortion is extreme. He opposed the ban on partial-birth abortion -- a practice a fellow Democrat, the late Daniel Patrick Moynihan, once called "too close to infanticide." Obama strongly criticized the Supreme Court decision upholding the partial-birth ban. In the Illinois state Senate, he opposed a bill similar to the Born-Alive Infants Protection Act, which prevents the killing of infants mistakenly left alive by abortion. And now Obama has oddly claimed that he would not want his daughters to be "punished with a baby" because of a crisis pregnancy -- hardly a welcoming attitude toward new life.
For decades, most Democrats and many Republicans have hoped the political debate on abortion would simply go away. But it is the issue that does not die. Recent polls have shown that young people are more likely than their elders to support abortion restrictions. Few Americans oppose abortion under every circumstance, but a majority oppose most of the abortions that actually take place -- generally supporting the procedure only in the case of rape or incest, or to save the life of the mother.
Perhaps this is a revolt against a culture of disposability. Perhaps it reflects the continuing revolution of ultrasound technology -- what might be called the "Juno" effect. In the delightful movie by that name, the protagonist, a pregnant teen seeking an abortion, is confronted by a classmate who informs her that the unborn child already has fingernails -- which causes second thoughts. A worthless part of its mother's body -- a clump of protoplasmic rubbish -- doesn't have fingernails.
Abortion is an unavoidable moral issue. It also has broader political significance. Democrats of a past generation -- the generation of Hubert Humphrey and Martin Luther King Jr. -- spoke about building a beloved community that cared especially for the elderly, the weak, the disadvantaged and the young.
The advance of pro-choice policies imported a different ideology into the Democratic Party -- the absolute triumph of individualism. The rights and choices of adults have become paramount, even at the expense of other, voiceless members of the community.
These trends reached their logical culmination during a congressional debate on partial-birth abortion in 1999. When Democratic Sen. Barbara Boxer was pressed to affirm that she opposed the medical killing of children after birth, she refused to commit, saying that children deserve legal protection only "when you bring your baby home." It was unclear whether this included the car trip.
Friday, October 17, 2008
Recently, continued correction has come from, among others, Robert George of Princeton, see this very powerful essay and this follow-up. In addition, George Weigel has called out Dean Kmiec by name in this essay. In the face of this, Kmiec has issued yet another call to vote for Obama, knowing that Obama has said "the first thing I'd do as President is sign the Freedom of Choice Act." and that he favors the repeal of the Hyde Amendment which stops the government funding of abortion. See also this.
How can he continue to back the radically pro-abortion Obama?
I am now convinced that Kmiec is doing this solely for personal gain - he is hoping to get that coveted judgeship. It has come time then, to view him as the very worst traitor - a 21st century version of Richard Rich.
You may recall in the play or movie "A Man For All Seasons" Robert Bolts' Thomas More is persistently pestered for an appointment to office by Richard Rich. More tells him early on that he can have a post at a school as a teacher:
MORE: Why not be a teacher? You'd be a fine teacher. Perhaps even a great one.
RICH And if I was, who would know it?
MORE You, your pupils, your friends, God. Not a bad public, that . . . Oh, and a quiet life.
At the end of the play, when More is on trial, he refuses to testify and Cromwell produces Sir Richard Rich who gives perjured testimony that results in the eventual conviction of More. As Rich leaves the witness stand, this exchange occurs:
MORE I have one question to ask the witness. (RICH stops) That's a chain of office you are wearing. (Reluctantly RICH faces him) May I see it? (NORFOLK motions him to approach. MORE examines the medallion) The red dragon. (To CROMWELL) What's this?Kmeic is 57 and would be 66 at the end of the Obama presidency - it's his last hope for a judgeship. So what if Obama solidifies abortion on demand and makes you pay for it, he will be known as Judge Kmeic - isn't that worth it?
CROMWELL Sir Richard is appointed Attorney-General for Wales.
MORE (Looking into RICH'S face, with pain and amusement) For Wales? Why, Richard, it profits a man nothing to give his soul for the whole world . . . But for Wales!
Saturday, October 11, 2008
I am strongly opposed to amending a state or U.S. Constitution to address something like marriage. I don't think the Constitution should have language which expressly sets forth marriage shall be between one man and one woman only.
The problem is, judges don't share that belief. As we have seen, first in Massachusetts, then in California and now in Connecticut, judges believe they have the power and the duty to amend the state constitution to override the express will of the people and the state legislatures and radically alter the state constitution and create out of whole cloth a new definition of marriage.
Accordingly, it is time to rebuke the judges and let the people amend their constitutions - it is probably time to pass a federal marriage amendment as well.
It should be noted the extreme violence these radical judges are doing to the state of the law by substituting their own personal whims for the laws carefully thought out and developed over time. It could be that, in time, society will change and will decide to jettison marriage and substitute something new. So be it - it is not for the judges to act as tyrants to ram these changes through.
Therefore - amend the constitution and send a clear message to the judges that they, too, are under the law.
Friday, October 10, 2008
First, the Dow from September 16, 2008:
Second, the RealClearPolitics Average of Polls from September 17, 2008, the last time Senator Obama and Senator McCain were tied:
Is there a correlation?
Is there causation?
In response to the blogfather, one reader notes:
One of my hedge-fund readers emails:
The thumbnail future market history of this month is likely to include the phrase "correctly discounting the economic fallout of an Obama presidency and hard-left Congress repeating the failed frenetic economic policies of the 1930s". Let's just hope it doesn't take a re-run of the 1940s to extract us.
Ugh. Thanks for that comforting thought. And those enthusiastic for New Deal type solutions should be required to read Amity Shlaes' book on the subject.
P.S. Thanks for the comments!
Sunday, October 05, 2008
I also want to get to Senator John McCain on his response to the human rights of a baby question. I think that while he answered the question in a manner that, say, a devout Roman Catholic might agree with, his past vote does not square with his answer. Again, from the Saddleback Civil Forum:
Q: AT WHAT POINT IS A BABY ENTITLED TO HUMAN RIGHTS?Unlike my post below, this will be a brief one (for now - I may revisit).
A: AT THE MOMENT OF CONCEPTION. I HAVE A 25-YEAR PRO LIFE RECORD IN THE CONGRESS, IN THE SENATE. AND AS PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES, I WILL BE A PRO LIFE PRESIDENT AND THIS PRESIDENCY WILL HAVE PRO LIFE POLICIES. THAT'S MY COMMITMENT, THAT'S MY COMMITMENT TO YOU.
The problem is, that while John McCain opposes "fetal farming" or the creating of human embryos for stem cell research, he is also in favor of using human embryos already existing for such research.
In addition, he has voted to fund such research:
Q: Would you expand federal funding of embryonic stem cell research?As quoted from here.
A: I believe that we need to fund this. This is a tough issue for those of us in the pro-life community. I would remind you that these stem cells are either going to be discarded or perpetually frozen. We need to do what we can to relieve human suffering. It's a tough issue. I support federal funding.
Source: 2007 GOP primary debate, at Reagan library, hosted by MSNBC May 3, 2007
I respectfully submit, then, that he does not believe a baby is entitled to human rights at the moment of conception.
As I note below, Pepperdine Law Professor (and former Dean of Catholic University) Douglas has endorsed Barak Obama, a man who is, without question, the most pro-abortion candidate to ever run for the U.S. Presidency. He has gone further and written a book defending his position. His initial endorsement is here, although he does nothing to attempt to reconcile his supposed pro-life beliefs with Barack Obama's pro-abortion actions. (Wisconsin Law Professor mocks it as not understandable.)
So why does Kmiec back Obama?
Does he believe that Obama has had a conversion experience and now admits he was wrong? No, he acknowledges disagreements with Obama over the issue.
Has Kmiec changed his view and become pro-abortion? No, Kmiec insists that he is still a faithful Roman Catholic.
Is Kmiec a Quisling or a Richard Rich who will betray all for higher office (perhaps a judicial appointment)? Well, he's not craven enough to say.
What Kmiec says is that Roe will never be overturned and that Obama will try to keep girls and young women from becoming pregnant. Apparently, he is also fed up with the Iraq war and believes that the U.S. should pull out immediately, even if it leads to civil war and genocide.
No really. Here is one of his essays defending his support for Obama.
Also, as you will note in the essay, Kmeic, a self-professed Republican lawyer claims "the current Republican Party thrives on demonizing its opposition to win elections." This may be the only thing I currently agree with him on - however, I note that the Democratic Party is doing exactly the same thing - witness the unrelenting attacks on Sarah Palin (do I even need to begin to document this?)
Here are some thoughts by Deacon Keith Fournier. Here is a post by Prof. Richard Garnett (added later: And this longer more recent one on the First Things blog). First Things editor Fr. Richard John Neuhaus responded earlier here. Finally, although not directly on-point on Kmiec, here is an interesting note on the effect of an Obama Presidency passed on by Rob Vischer (although not written by him).
The Martyrdom of St. Douglas Kmiec:
Here is Kmiec's account of being denied the Holy Eucharist. Here are some responses by Kmiec to a Beliefnet Q and A.
In my last post, I looked at Obama's statements on the human rights of a baby - in particular related to abortion. In this post, I will examine his actions as a legislator.
First, I must acknowledge the wonderful work done by Jill Stanek, a nurse whose ordeal at Christ Hospital, pushed her into the forefront of this issue. Ms. Stanek, in 1996 held a newborn boy who had Downs Syndrome, while she watched him die because he survived an abortion. She contacted law enforcement officials who told her the law did not protect infants who survive an abortion - as a result she began a campaign for a law which would protect any baby who had been delivered from the womb from being "terminated."
This legislation, known as the Born Alive Infants Protection Act was overwhelmingly passed at the federal level and signed into law by President Bush. It passed the House by a voice vote and it passed the Senate unanimously.
In 2001, in Illinois while Barack Obama was serving in the State Senate, state Sen. Patrick O’Malley of Oak Lawn introduced a parallel bill to apply at the state level. [Due to constitutional concerns, even if the federal law had been in effect, it is not likely that it could be enforced in the individual states - see United States v. Morrison, 529 U.S. 598 (2000)]. The bill used as its definition of "live birth" the same definition used by the World Health Organization in 1950 and adopted by the United Nations in 1955. See Senate Bill 1095, Born Alive Infant Protection Act. The bill was sent to the Illinois Senate Judiciary Committee where Sen. Obama voted no. (see .pdf here). When the measure reached the floor, Senator Obama was the only voice to speak in opposition and indicated he would vote present (which, for purposes of this bill, had the same effect as a "no" vote). The bill passed The floor discussion can be read here (.pdf transcript, pages 84-90). Here is Senator Obama's objection:
… I just want to suggest … that this [legislation] is probably not going to survive constitutional scrutiny.What he is arguing is that because the Act covers a baby when it is removed or expelled from the mother, the Act would also protect a living baby in the womb. Never mind that the definition, as noted above, only covers a baby who has been delivered in some fashion from the mother.
Number one, whenever we define a pre-viable fetus as a person that is protected by the equal protection clause or the other elements in the Constitution, what we’re really saying is, in fact, that they are persons that are entitled to the kinds of protections that would be provided to a — child, a 9-month-old — child that was delivered to term. That determination then, essentially, if it was accepted by a court, would forbid abortions to take place.
I mean, it — it would essentially bar abortions, because the equal protection clause does not allow somebody to kill a child, and if this is a child, then this would be an antiabortion statute. For that purpose, I think it would probably be found unconstitutional.
Although the bill passed the Illinois Senate - over Barak Obama's objections - it died in the house. See here for Obama's "present" vote on the Illinois Senate floor (.pdf), March 30, 2001.
Recall that we are looking at when Barak Obama thinks a living human gets human rights - for Obama in 2001, a baby who had fully been delivered from the mother was not guaranteed the protection of the U.S. Constitution or the Bill of Rights or any human rights. It could be exposed and left to die and Barack Obama was alright with that.
In 2002, Sen. O'Malley again introduced the Born Alive Infants Protection Act as SB1662. Again the bill was referred to the Senate Judiciary Committee where Sen. Obama voted no (.pdf). Having passed the committee, the bill was sent to the floor, where again Sen. Obama led the opposition to it. Transcript from April 4, 2002 (.pdf) - see pages 28-35. Specifically, if you read his objections, he believe the intent of this bill is not to protect a human life but is "...really designed simply to burden the original decision of the woman... to perform an abortion." Ms. Stanek has posted audio of Obama making this objection on the floor here. Unlike in the prior year, this time Sen. Obama actually voted "no" on this bill. See here (.pdf). Again the bill died in the Illinios House.
In 2003, control of the House switched parties and although the Bill was introduced again, this time it was not sent to the Judiciary Committee, but to the Health & Human Services Committee, chaired by Barack Obama. In Committee, the Bill was amended to add the "neutrality clause" from the federal version to the Illinois Bill version to make them absolutely identical. Barack Obama voted in favor of adding this clause. See the docket, here in .pdf. Even after making this amendment, which appeased rapid-pro-abortion politicians such as Barbara Boxer, Barack Obama still voted to kill the bill which would protect a child who was born alive during an abortion. Once again, the bill was killed and did not see the light of day. For a very complete discussion of the episode of the 2003 bill see this page by Jill Stanek.
The bill did not pass the statehouse until after Barack had left the state senate. See this letter to the editor from Former state senator Rick Winkel, in which Sen. Winkel notes that none of the opponents, he believes, actually favor infanticide, but all were so rabidly pro-abortion that none could bring themselves to vote for protecting the newly born:
On March 12, 2003, I presented the neutrality amendment before the state Health and Human Services Committee chaired by then state Sen. Obama. All 10 committee members voted to add the amendment. Nevertheless, during the same hearing, the committee rejected the bill as amended on a vote of 4-6-0. Obama voted no.To summarize: Barack Obama has, through his actions, shown the world that if it comes to a newborn baby's human right to life versus a mother who intended that that child die in an abortion, the baby has no right to life and must die. To answer the question he avoided at the Civil Forum, it appears that for Barack Obama, no fetus has any human rights and no newborn has human rights if the mother desires the child dead.
I was stunned because the neutrality amendment addressed the concerns of opponents. It was the same neutrality language approved by U.S. Sens. Barbara Boxer, Ted Kennedy, Hillary Clinton and John Kerry in the federal bill.
None of those who voted against SB-1082 favored infanticide. Rather their zeal for pro-choice dogma was clearly the overriding force behind their negative votes rather than concern that my bill would protect babies who are born alive.
In 2005, I joined 116 state representatives and 54 senators in voting for HB-984, which contained the same born-alive definition and neutrality language as Senate Bill 1082, plus some extra language to satisfy the most zealous pro-choice legislators, yet harmless to the bill's purpose. No one voted against it. We had finally accomplished what we had set out to do—protect a newborn baby's life.
I did not intend for there to be such a long delay between my first post on this subject, immediately below, and this one. Indeed, most of this was written at the time of that post (in fact, they originally were to be one, but due to the length, I split them), however, there were many new news stories and developments. As I expressed initially, I started writing this with a desire to give Senator Obama the full benefit of any doubt and have spent a great deal of time reading the charges and countercharges and looking for an exculpatory explanation which would indicate Barack Obama would, in deed, give a new born child some human rights. Nevertheless, the record is quite clear. If you doubt me, please do your own research. Finally, this link sets forth Sen. Obama's defense of his record on this issue:
You may also read the webpage of former Catholic University Law School Dean Douglas Kmeic here. (See also, Ed Whelan who counters Kmeic here.)
And finally, here is a link to an examination of this issue by the Annenberg Public Policy Center of the University of Pennsylvania: FactCheck.Org
Monday, September 08, 2008
I will begin this section with an extended discussion Senator Obama had with Rick Warren of the Saddleback Church in southern California:
Q: ... Now, let's deal with abortion. 40 million abortions since Roe v. Wade. you know, as a pastor I have to deal with this all of the time. All of the pain and all of the conflicts. I know this is a very complex issue. 40 million abortions. At what point does a baby get human rights in your view?
A: Well, i think that whether you are looking at it from a theological perspective or a scientific perspective, answering that question with specificity, you know, is above my pay grade.
But let me just speak more generally about the issue of abortion because this is something obviously the country wrestles with. One thing that I'm absolutely convinced of is there is a moral and ethical content to this issue. So i think that anybody who tries to deny the moral difficulties and gravity of the abortion issue i think is not paying attention. So that would be point number one.
But point number two, I am pro-choice. I believe in Roe v. Wade and come to that conclusion not because I'm pro abortion, but because ultimately I don't think women make these decisions casually. They wrestle with these things in profound ways. In consultation with their pastors or spouses or their doctors and their family members. and so for me, the goal right now should be -- and this is where I think we can find common ground and by the way I have now inserted this into the Democrat party platform -- is how do we reduce the number of abortions because the fact is that although we've had a president who is opposed to abortions over the last eight years, abortions have not gone down.
Q. Have you ever voted to limit or reduce abortions?
A. I am in favor, for example, of limits on late term abortions if there is an exception for the mother's health. Now from the perspective of those who, you know, are pro life, I think they would consider that inadequate and I respect their views. I mean one of the things that I've always said is that on this particular issue, if you believe that life begins at conception, then -- and you are consistent in that belief, then i can't argue with you on that because that is a core issue of faith for you.
What I can do is say are there ways that we can work together to reduce the number of unwanted pregnancies so that we actually are reducing the sense that women are seeking out abortions, and as an example of that, one of the things that I've talked about is how do we provide the resources that allow women to make the choice to keep a child. You know, have we given them the health care that they need. Have we given them the support services that they need. Have we given them the options of adoption that are necessary. That i think can make a genuine difference.
This is from Part Two of the Saddleback Civil Forum on the Presidency (I have made a few minor corrections). I give the full quote and will attempt to give longer quotes because I want to be as fair and accurate as I can to Senator Obama.*
Notice, first of all, that Senator Obama does not answer the question - which was really very simple - when does a baby get human rights? This is not a question about when life begins, but when an infant simply gets the rights that any American have?
Indeed, this very question was the spark which set off the Civil War, when Chief Justice Roger B. Taney and a majority of the Supreme Court held that blacks had no rights that white men were bound to respect. Dred Scott v. Sandford, 60 U.S. (19 How.) 393 (1857) (Taney specifically wrote the blacks in America were: "..."beings of an inferior order, and altogether unfit to associate with the white race, either in social or political relations, and so far inferior that they had no rights which the white man was bound to respect." at 407)
So Pastor Warren's question is a good one - it doesn't seek to get a philosophical answer - but rather an answer which a legislator, an executive, or a judge, must face.* Not to mention a constitutional scholar, which Senator Obama claims to be. Unfortunately, he doesn't answer the question - instead, he throws up a theological and scientific smokescreen and evades completely the fundamental human rights issue. When does a baby get human rights?
In order, then to answer this question -- to find out when Senator Obama believes a baby receives human rights, we must look to his past actions and statements to see if he has answered the question.
As I indicate below, I believe he has answered the question and I think his answer is monstrous.
To begin with, I look to the official statement on the Obama website - which he has hidden. It's not given an entry of it's own - "abortion" and not in the obvious places - "civil rights," "family," "healthcare," "ethics," "disabilities," - instead we find it under "women's issues," (along with "stem cell research") and reads in full:
In brief, then, he stands behind the Roe decision which grants nearly unlimited abortion. He says nothing about the modification of Roe in Planned Parenthood of Southern Pennsylvania vs. Casey 505 U.S. 833 (1992).**
Supports a Woman’s Right to Choose:Barack Obama understands that abortion is a divisive issue, and respects those who disagree with him. However, he has been a consistent champion of reproductive choice and will make preserving women’s rights under Roe v. Wade a priority as President. He opposes any constitutional amendment to overturn the Supreme Court's decision in that case.
Preventing Unwanted Pregnancy:Barack Obama is an original co-sponsor of legislation to expand access to contraception, health information and preventive services to help reduce unintended pregnancies. Introduced in January 2007, the Prevention First Act will increase funding for family planning and comprehensive sex education that teaches both abstinence and safe sex methods. The Act will also end insurance discrimination against contraception, improve awareness about emergency contraception, and provide compassionate assistance to rape victims.
Steven Waldman, editor of Beliefnet, surveying Obama's recent statements on the subject observes a straddle going on:
Waldman further notes that Obama probably would not push for public financing of abortion (although I have my doubt about this, since he wants to federalize all healthcare).
On the one hand, he wants to court moderate evangelical Christians and centrist Catholics. Evangelicals and, to a lesser extent, Catholics tend to oppose abortion.
On the other, he wants to court independent suburban women, who tend to be pro-choice, and he's laboring to attract Hillary Clinton voters - and donors.
Perhaps this is why Sen. Obama's moves on abortion have seemed clumsy. He made news by saying he supported a ban on "partial birth" abortions except if the mother's life or health was seriously threatened - only to back off and add "mental health" to the list of exemptions.
Sen. Obama's approach has been to combine down-the-line pro-choice policies with conspicuous respectfulness of pro-life people. While he supports the Freedom of Choice Act, which would potentially roll back state restrictions on abortion, his Web site declares that he "respects those who disagree with him." In his book "The Audacity of Hope," he recounted how a pro-life protester had once offered to pray for him: "I said a prayer of my own - that I might extend the same presumption of good faith to others that had been extended to me." His most evangelical-friendly formulation came in an interview with the Christian Broadcasting Network. "Abortion is a deeply moral issue and those who deny there's a moral component to it are wrong," he said, adding that he trusted women to make "a prayerful decision" and said sex education needed to impart the "sacredness of sexuality."
But more important than this is what Obama thinks about the unborn and the newborn. When does that baby obtain the protection of human rights? When does Obama think the law should protect the helpless baby? After all, Sen. Obama believes that terrorists have the same legal rights as criminal suspects which should be adjudicated in criminal court. Shouldn't a baby have some rights?
* On Sunday, September 7, 2008, Barak Obama acknowledged his statement was "flip," but continues to cling to his claim that this is solely a theological question. I believe this is the link, if there is a menu at the bottom of the page, select the video titled "Obama: McCain has Suggested I am a Muslim"
** I have heard some people regard this as a theological question - when does human life begin? I guess I don't understand why this is considered theological - which I always considered to be primarily the study of God, and secondarily the study of doctrine and religion. I assume people use "theological question" to represent a dustbin, into which they can then dump the question since God is not supposed to have anything to do with American law.
*** In particular, see the opinion of Chief Justice Rehnquist, concurring in the judgment in part and dissenting in part, noting the plurality opinion "retains the outer shell of Roe . . . but beats a wholesale retreat from the substance of that case."
Sunday, September 07, 2008
Last February, in the Virginia Primary, I cast my vote for Barack Obama. Looking back now, I can admit that I did so without fully informing myself of his background and beliefs.
My impression of him was that he was a reformer - I was aware that he had co-sponsored a bill with Senator Tom Coburn to give a bit of clarity to federal spending. In doing so, I saw he reached across the aisle to team up with a maverick, thereby giving himself the aura of a maverick and someone who could forge bi-partisan bonds. I had heard that he was elected president of the Harvard Law Review with the support of the conservative law students, further giving me hope that he could forge bonds (I still don't know if this story is true). Prior to Obama being elected to the US Senate, I recall reading encouraging posts on him by fellow U of Chicago professor Jacob T. Levy. (Of course, this was back before I learned that Obama was not a professor - just a part-time lecturer.) And finally, I recall reading favorable commentary from Christianity Today's Books and Culture editor Agnieszka Tennant (who remains a supporter).
(As a parenthetical - Barry Obama was a 1979 graduate of Punahou High School in Honolulu, in the same school and class as my life-long best friend and best man. While I had left the islands long before this, there is something special about thinking that we were in the same place during the same era - even if he did go to the ultra-elite Punahou.)
In addition, in Virginia, I had the opportunity to vote in either the Democratic or the Republican primary - and by the time we voted, the GOP nominee was fairly well decided. This left the choice as to either Hillary or Obama.
Finally, well after I cast my vote, I learned that former Reagan Justice official and former dean of Catholic University, Douglas Kmiec endoresed Barrack Obama - for me, this was a big deal as it conferred a solid pro-life imprimatur on the candidate.
Since that time, when my vote was cast in large part on wishful hope and in large part on Obama's association with people I respected, I have learned of Barack's other associations - with Tony Rezko, Bill Ayers and Jeremiah Wright and I have learned about his positions with respect to life issues - which are monstrous - and will be the subject of another post.
Thursday, September 04, 2008
Here we are on the cusp of John McCain's acceptance speech to be given to the GOP convention and we can already predict that Barack Obama will win the presidency. This is based on a set of "keys" developed by Political Scientist Allan Lichtman with Russian geophysicist Voldia Keilis-Borok.
Over the past two years, Prof. Lichtman has consistently predicted a GOP loss, no matter who is the nominee for either party. See, for example, this column from June 2008.
The following are Lichtman's 13 keys, with my answers given (if close, I will break the tie in McCain's favor):
1. The incumbent party (i.e. George Bush's party - the GOP) holds more seats in the U. S. House of Representatives after the midterm election than after the preceding midterm election. NO ( In 2002, the GOP won 229 seats, in 2006 it only won 202.)
2. There is no serious contest for the incumbent-party nomination. (close - I'd say yes there was, but on the other hand, McCain wrapped this up on Super Tuesday- therefore tie goes to McCain) Yes. (On the other hand, Lichtman doesn't see this as close and also give this a "yes" answer.)
3. The incumbent-party candidate is the current president. NO
4. There is no significant third-party or independent candidacy. Is Barr or Nader significant? I say no, so advantage McCain - Yes. (Lichtman has the same answer)
5. The economy is not in recession during the campaign. While not doing well, the economy is technically not in a recession. - Yes. (Lichtman scores this as uncertain)
6. Real (constant-dollar) per capita economic growth during the term equals or exceeds mean growth for the preceding two terms. NO See, for example, the recent Fed Beige Book, this post by Lane Kenworthy. But see this column by Robert Samuelson.
7. The administration has effected major policy changes during the term. This is iffy - what would the major policy change be? I say the answer is NO. (Lichtman also sees this as a "no")
8. There has been no major social unrest during the term. Yes.
9. The incumbent administration is untainted by major scandal. Yes.
10. There has been no major military or foreign policy failure during the term. Iraq - part 1 was a failure - NO
11. There has been a major military or foreign policy success during the term. Iraq - part 2, the Surge, was a success - Yes. (Lichtman disagrees - he scores this as a "no")
12. The incumbent-party candidate is charismatic or is a national hero. McCain is a National hero - Yes. (Lichtman disagrees - see below, for discussion on this and number 13.)
13. The challenger is not charismatic and is not a national hero. Barack Obama is a rock star, a celebrity as McCain acknowledges. NO. (Lichtman scores this uncertain.)
If six or more of these statements are false, the incumbent party loses. I score six No's, therefore Obama wins. Lichtman scores four yes's, seven no's and two uncertain.
Now, for some longer discussion:
Although Prof. Lichtman has long said these are objective keys, I think there is a lot of subjectivity. What is "major social unrest?" Who is a "national hero?" What is charismatic? And obviously, we disagree on whether the surge was a sucess or not - perhaps this is his partisanship showing - in 2006 he ran for the Democratic party nomination to the Senate based, in large part on his opposition to the Iraq war.
- Real per-capita Economic Growth compared
- Major military or foreign policy success and failure
- Charismatic / National Hero
[the commenter would turn] the charisma/hero key in favor of John McCain when the definitions of the keys, established in 1981, would clearly exclude him. The definition includes national leadership in wartime as exemplified by Grant and Eisenhower. It does not include heroic performance in war.If you scroll down in the discussion you will see that Lichtman believes that McCain was a Charismatic Figure when he initially ran, but is no longer. All of this seems very subjective to me.
Now then, having said all this, there is still an election to take place. Those of us who follow sports know there is no way an NAIA school with 800 students could beat the number one ranked Virginia Cavaliers and Ralph Sampson. Chaminade?
Thursday, August 07, 2008
Sunday, August 03, 2008
Rest in peace Aleksandr Isayevich
Alexander Solzhenitsyn, one of the great men of the 20th Century, indeed a prophet of Biblical proportions, has passed into history.
His address to the Harvard graduates 30 years ago, are the words we in the west need to hear today.
Even if we are spared destruction by war, our lives will have to change if we want to save life from self-destruction. We cannot avoid revising the fundamental definitions of human life and human society. Is it true that man is above everything? Is there no Superior Spirit above him? Is it right that man's life and society's activities have to be determined by material expansion in the first place? Is it permissible to promote such expansion to the detriment of our spiritual integrity?
Friday, June 13, 2008
Judge James Burge of Lorain County ruled that the administration of the Ohio death penalty was unconstitutional because two of the drugs in the three drug cocktail might cause the condemned to feel pain. Judge Burge is pictured in his office on the right.
So what would Eutimio Guerra and the other 215 persons who were personally killed by Che Guevara (Source in pdf). Note that these 216 persons are all documented and were all killed in Cuba by Che during a three year period. This does not include his post-Cuba victims.
The picture on the left is taken from an execution by Fidel Castro's gang, which included Che Guevara while they were in the Sierra Maestra.
More photos and discussion can be found here.
See also, this page (in Spanish and English).
More. Just to make clear - this has nothing to do with the death penalty -- which I strongly oppose -- or Barack Obama. It has everything to do with idiot judges and idiot followers of mass murderers.
Monday, June 02, 2008
Tuesday, May 20, 2008
Recently I read the first two books from the Moonlight Bay trilogy, Fear Nothing and Seize the Night. Alas, the third of the triolgy, Ride the Storm is not out and has no plans for being finished. Basically, the series is your typical end-of-the-world, genie-out-of-the-bottle dystopian epic about a black government weapons project gone awry. Oh yeah, the main character is a surfer from California. Cool.
Of course, what I love is how the Christian world-view permeates the fiction of Koontz. This does not mean everyone is moral and has G-rated English. One of the main characters of Seize the Night shacks up with his girl. And yet the vision is so right.
Consider these two passages, from Fear Nothing [warning - link contains mondo spoilers]. By way of background, the protagonist has XP, a genetic disorder which prevents him from being in any kind of light with UV waves. He has a friend, Manuel who has been tempted greatly because of his love for his son, Toby, who has Downs syndrome, but is also an idiot savant when it comes to glass blowing.
Because I was not expected to survive to adulthood, my parents raised me to play, to have fun, to indulge my sense of wonder, to live as much as possible without worry and without fear, to live in the moment with little concern for the future: in short, to trust in God and to believe that I, like everyone, am here for a purpose; to be as grateful for my limitations as for my talents and blessings, because both are part of a design beyond my comprehension. They recognized the need for me to learn self-discipline, of course, and respect for others. But, in fact, those things come naturally when You truly believe that your life has a spiritual dimension and that You are a carefully designed element in the mysterious mosaic of life. Although there had appeared to be little chance that I would outlive both parents, Mom and Dad prepared for this eventuality when I was first diagnosed: They purchased a large
second-to-die life-insurance policy, which would now provide handsomely for me even if I never earned another cent from my books and articles.
Born for play and fun and wonder, destined never to have to hold a job, destined never to be burdened by the responsibilities that weigh down most people, I could give up my writing and become such a total surf bum that Bobby Halloway, by comparison, would appear to be a compulsive workaholic with no more capacity for fun than a cabbage. Furthermore, I could embrace absolute slackerhood with no guilt whatsoever, with no qualms or doubts, because I was raised to be what all humanity might have been if we hadn't violated the terms of the lease and been evicted
and then this:
"In spite of all that he didn't have, he was always happy," I said of Toby. "He found a purpose, fulfillment. Now what if they can take him far enough that he's dissatisfied with what he is . . . but then they can't take him all the way to normal?"According to Mr. Bradley, today is the release date for the newest Odd Thomas book.
"They will," Manuel said with a measure of conviction for which there could be no justification. "They will."
"The same people who've created this nightmare?"
"It's not got only a dark side."
I thought of the pitiful wails of the visitor in the rectory attic, the melancholy quality of its changeling voice, the terrible yearning in its desperate attempts to convey meaning in a caterwaul. I thought of Orson on that summer night, despairing under the stars.
"God help You, Toby," I said, because he was my friend, too. "God bless You."
"God had His chance," Manuel said. "From now on, we'll make our own luck."
Monday, May 19, 2008
In the first case, two of your ideal justices would have set free a man who to offered to exchange photographs of adult men sexually molesting his 4-year-old daughter for other pictures of child pornography. [Opinion.] In the second case, your ideal justices would have given a career criminal who was illegally using a firearm a much lighter sentence than what the majority determined the law required. Given that both Justices Roberts and Alito, whom you voted against, were in the majority with Justice Breyer, can you tell American whether you would persist in nominating judges like Souter and Ginsburg?
Oh, and in a third case today, Justice Stephen Breyer dissented from a Supreme Court opinion which overturned the 9th Circuit which had set aside the conviction of a terrorist who conspired to detonate explosives at Los Angeles International Airport during the millennium holiday travel period.
During the Alito confirmation hearings you opposed him because you believed he was "contrary to core American values." In other words, he was wrong to punish a child abuser, a convict possessing illegal weapons and a terrorist?
Senator Obama, what values are you talking about?