Monday, December 22, 2014

Christmas Wishes 2015

     Yes, that is 2015 -- which sounds like a mistake, but isn't, if you think about it.

     This video of a modern Christmas carol may bless you.  I ran across it at the website of Norman Finkelstein.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

An Old -- Very Old? -- Christmas Carol

     Thanks to Richard and Mike who shared the links to this old Christmas Carol.  Enjoy.

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Keith Ablow Wants An "American Jihad"

     Here is the link, now.  I may comment here later.  Your comments, of course, are most welcome.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Rule For Respectable Commentary

     John V. Walsh has written a short post titled, "A Rule For Respectable Commentary."  This post will probably not be remembered by many for long, but it focuses attention on one thing to keep in mind when
     (a) you are writing commentary of your own making
     (b) you are reading the published commentary of someone else, at least in the US
     (c) you are thinking about how the people around you are affected by this

Friday, October 3, 2014

To Cam, Again

     I think of you, Cam.

     I think how you came forth from the Father, and how quickly you returned to Him.  I think about who you are, where you are, how you are.

     It came to me, this morning, that it was for you -- especially for you -- that the world, the earth itself, was created.  As the Lord of All Worlds has said, and by saying, has decreed, "Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth," it is a thing of certainty that you, the Little Meek Fellow, will inherit the very earth itself, and all that is in it.  If Cosmos itself must be restructured in order to receive you, then the Cosmos itself will be restructured.

     I have called you meek.  By saying that I do not say, and I do not mean, that you were, or are, merely powerless or passive; though in a certain sense it must be granted that you were then, and still are, powerless and passive.  The Holy Scriptures attribute meekness to that strong servant of the Lord, Moses -- meekness being that humility that comes with increasing clarity and reality as the knowledge of the Lord God Himself comes with increasing clarity and reality; and for some that humility only comes, or comes best, where the spirit recedes from the body.

     You, like all the meek, must expect, and patiently await, the Resurrection.  It is surely He who will bring you to your inheritance.  He has promised this much:  Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.

     I have some other things to say to you, Cam.  But let that be for another time.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Men Were Worthless

     Men were worthless -- in the eyes of their women, and in the eyes of their top commanders, in World Wars One and Two.  Are they worth more today, in your eyes, or the eyes of your women, or your country's "leaders"?

     Read this link from Angry Harry:  "Men Are Worthless -- Especially For Young Women,"  and bring the subject up at the next "men's meeting" at your favorite church, or your favorite watering-hole. See what kind of a discussion you get, and get back to me.

     Now that we're back in Iraq, with the updated Global War On Terror 2.0, it's past-due time for looking back at what we've been doing in the Middle East for the last 25 years or so, why we have done it, what it has cost, and who has paid the price, and what that price has been and still is.

     I recently posted a brief recap of war (past and present) here: "The Guns of August And September."   I followed it up with another brief post, "The General Principles Of War," where I posted (only two) General Principles.  As the events of recent weeks have unfolded, the response I have received, both on and off the blog, and among family and friends has been mostly . . . crickets.

     So I'm pretty sure that a third principle can be added:

     General Principle 3.  Fighting men are considered relatively worthless to the Powers That Be who send them into war.  And they are also considered relatively worthless by the society from which they come -- and that includes the women who urge them on.

     Have a nice day.

Friday, September 5, 2014

The General Principles of War

     General Principle 1.  Wars Cost Money.  It takes a considerable amount of money to establish even a small fighting force.  Soldiers must be paid, armed, trained, and moved around.  This means, at a minimum, that there is a payroll for personnel, purchase of weapons, the cost of training exercises, and the considerations of supplies and logistics.  This expense is greater than any poor man can readily imagine, and more than a single citizen of normal and average means can afford.  Wars are therefore rarely organized by either the poor classes or men of merely ordinary means.  This leads us directly to:

     Corollary to General Principle 1.  Rich men can best afford to initiate war.

     General Principle 2.  Wars make people rich.  (A.) The officers who are "commissioned" (hired) to make the war are usually paid somewhat better than they would have been otherwise.  Furthermore, they expect to "administer" (own) choice properties and positions in the event of victory.  (B.) The foot soldiers usually are not well paid (since they are often conscripted), so they are promised the usual privilege of stealing, plundering, and despoiling the property of those that they kill, rape, enslave, or otherwise subdue.  (C.) The rich men who plan the war are loath to see their inferiors do better than they, so they will carefully plan to come out of the war relatively much more prosperous than their fighting men.   This leads us directly to:

     Corollary to General Principle 2.  Rich men stand to profit the most from the wars they initiate.

    Ordinary Exception to Principles 1 and 2.  It will be truly observed that small tribal conflicts do not accord with these general principles.  Very small tribes living in stone-age villages, for example, do not prosecute their wars on exactly these principles.  And occasionally, one can find instances of nomadic tribesmen or pirate bands who also operate in this exceptional manner.  These exceptions are granted.

     Further Exceptions to Principles 1 and 2.  There have been some situations in recorded history where people of poor or modest means have repelled invaders. (True: but they did not initiate the war.)  And there have been cases where people of poor or modest means have initiated wars and rebellions and have overthrown their overlords.  We may think of colonial uprisings, etc., here.  (We should note, however, that this is the result of some previous war or imposition that was previously initiated against them.)

     Glorious Exception to Principles 1 and 2.  The wars that are "ordained by God."  Yes;  though we might remark three things:  First -- that the Lord God is given a lot of credit (or blame) here that I am not sure He either wants or deserves.  Second, and pointedly -- Which God, exactly?  Third -- not to be impious, but if we are really talking about the Lord God here, He admits that He is rich, so . . .

     These ordinary and glorious exceptions do admittedly exist; but like other exceptions they prove, rather than contradict, the General Rule, which in this case combines Principles 1 and 2:

     Rich men initiate wars and rich men profit from them.

     This brings us to a practical starting point for inquiry into both history and current political affairs:

     General Observation on the Causes of War.  If you want to understand the causes of general wars, just follow the money.  This may lead one to cynicism (??), enlightenment (!), conspiracy theory (!!), or shocked (!)  disbelief.

     Oh: and add that to your "Principles of Sun Tzu," or Clausewitz, or whomever.  Hey, they could even teach this at West Point or Annapolis, if they cared to.  General Smedley Butler wrote about it in 1933, after all.  (But what did he know -- him just being a highly decorated Marine, and all.)

Thursday, August 28, 2014

The Guns Of August And September

     August 1914.  After years (centuries) of conflicts between protestants, capitalists, catholics, socialists, orthodox, nationalists, revolutionaries, communists, anarchists, freemasons, muslims, hindus, and various other interested parties, a planned political assassination in central Europe is transmuted into a "Great Power" confrontation by the political and financial elites.  This manufactured crisis is intentionally fanned into the flames of popular "outrage" and ginned-up "war fever" by the European press, and especially the British press, which is acting on the knowledge that un-elected, un-accountable decision-makers in the City of London have decided that this is the best way to advance their "interests" -- the usual inspiring, intoxicating, insipid cocktail of money, sex, and power for themselves -- while carrying banners, flags, crosses, crescents, guns, messages of optimism, messages of pessimism, apocalyptic notions, etc, etc.  A line is drawn around Belgium, the violation of whose sovereignty adds the necessary politically-moral touch.  To awaken American fears, and a desire to "save civilization,"  the Germans suddenly become "the Huns."
     The result is four-years of World War I, followed by its inglorious aftermath.

     August-September 1939.  After (twenty-five more) years of conflict between "all of the above," and with the addition of "game changers" like Nazis, Japanese, anti-colonialists, Chinese, etc., the same old game is re-played with higher stakes.  A line is drawn around the latest version of the borders of Poland, the violation of whose sovereignty add the necessary politically-moral touch.  The political and financial elites, well-prepared for these eventualities, direct the "world press" to fan the flames of popular outrage and war fever, trot out flags and symbols old and new, and have at it.  The enemy are "the Narzis" (Churchill's term) and the "yellow Japs" (American term).
     The result is six-years of World War II, followed by its inglorious aftermath.

     August 1964.  After another 25 years of conflict, now focused on "capitalists" vs. "communists," a United States warship conducting surveillance operations is attacked by the gunboats of North Vietnam.  Despite the fact that North Vietnam is a decidedly minor power (in fact, it is only one-half of a country), and that the "attack" by the gunboats did not even take place -- that's right, it was a false flag operation completely manufactured by the US National Security Agency and sold to an eager President and Congress -- this is held to be an event of such importance that the United States must send a half-million-man army to settle the matter.  The political and financial elites, well-prepared for these eventualities, direct the American "press" to stir up America's ever-ready righteous juices of "anti-communism" and "freedom for all the peoples of the world."  This time the enemy are the "gooks."
     The result is eleven years of the Viet Nam War, followed by its inglorious aftermath.

     August 1990.  After another 26 years, the "communist threat" is beginning to fade and America needs new foes to fight.  The Middle East looks like a good place to find them.  Our old client, Saddam Hussein of Iraq, takes it upon himself to invade and occupy the territory of Kuwait, and this gives us a chance to play the "good guys."  Immediately following the invasion, American public relations firms hired by the Kuwaitis plant false stories about Kuwaiti babies being dumped from hospital incubators by Iraqi soldiers, and of course the world-renowned American love of righteousness and little babies is again awakened.  The political and financial elites, better prepared than ever for these eventualities, prosecute an expensive war and project American power half-way around the world.  The enemy is "Saddam" (temporarily pronounced Sodom, for purposes of demonizing) and his "Republican Guards."
     The result, this time, is glorious:  a brief but expensive, exciting, victorious war, that "erases" the "bad feelings" about Viet Nam, and the oil flows freely again.  The aftermath is inglorious, however:  American enforced no-fly zones, treachery in dealings with Iraqi factions, sanctions of food and medicine, eventual invasion of Iraq "to defend our freedoms," participation in all sides of a civil war, etc, twenty-four years and counting.

     September 2001.  Four airplanes are used to attack the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.  Within 24 hours it is positively identified in the press that this was perpetrated by 19 hijackers whose names are known.  Despite the fact that 15 of them are from Saudi Arabia, whose "intelligence" operations are known to be well-financed, widespread, vicious, authoritarian, and arbitrary (and largely controlled by the Bin Laden family, who are close friends of the Bush family), the political-financial-propaganda elites quickly turn "world attention" to Afghanistan, whose Taliban government (also vicious, authoritarian, etc.) happens to be resisting the plans for an American oil pipeline project.  The Saudi connection is conveniently forgotten.  Americans can then turn their attention to punishing Afghans and other "ragheads" and "sand niggers."  (Their terms, not mine.)
     The result is a "Global War On Terror," a war on Islam, etc. etc.  Thirteen years and counting.

     September 2013.  The US government, arming and directing the "Free Syrian Army," (with the help of Saudi intelligence), and seeking to overthrow the elected government of Bashir Assad, plans direct intervention.  The enemy is the "atrocities" committed (exclusively by) Bashir Assad, which must be stopped.  (Rebel atrocities, including chemical weapons, as well as beheadings of old bishops and young men, are not so bad.)  The usual gang of political-financial-globalist elites are apparently a little bit "off their game" this time, because the pre-planned intervention does not take place:  perhaps it is the involvement of Russia, perhaps it is the outspoken opposition by the American people, perhaps cooler heads prevail in the Pentagon, or perhaps it is something else.
     Anyway the result this time is:  no overt intervention in Syria.  (Covert operations may, of course, proceed as deemed appropriate.)

     August 2014.  The new enemy emerges in Iraq.  Using arms it has captured, purchased, received, or otherwise acquired from the United States / Europe / Saudi / Israel sources, it poses an "existential threat" to everybody.  The enemy is "ISIS," or "ISIL," or more recently, the "Islamic State." This time, beheadings are bad again, because it happened to a young American journalist (with apparently close ties to the US intelligence "community") on a video (though there are some questions about the manufacture of that video); and there are the Yazidi "refugees" about whom we have a sudden concern  (only to discover that their numbers were inflated, their circumstances misrepresented, their desire to be rescued was overstated, and their long-hallowed traditions of "honor killings" -- stoning their women to death on a regular basis -- had gone temporarily unnoticed).
     The President must DO something!  Though we don't know what he should do, since we don't even have a clear idea what is going on.

     Stay tuned.  We're still in August.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

An Inquiry On The Immigration Question

Guest post by Ben Carmack.  
Ben occasionally blogs at his own site, and has graciously permitted me to reprint his post in full.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

The Immigration Question: A Modest Biblical and Conservative Inquiry

This is long. If you don't want to read it all, take a look at the synopsis at the end. Thanks.

We have all been hearing about immigration lately. The sudden arrival of youths from Central and South America has brought the issue to the forefront. Conservative radio personalities have been pushing against "amnesty" and for "border security" with great fervor.

The Boundaries of the Debate

The debate over immigration is often framed as a debate between those who "believe in borders" and those who don't. It is often framed as a debate between those who believe in "enforcing our laws" and those who don't. Some say it is a debate between a welcoming America and a closed America, or between a kinder America and an angrier, meaner sort of America.

I want to propose that the "borders" of the immigration debate are not what was suggested in the previous paragraph, nor is the debate between "liberals" and "conservatives." Immigration is an intra-conservative debate. Conservatives are the ones who need to decide what they want to do on immigration reform.

I say this because the political interest of liberals is clearly in favor of keeping the status quo. Moderates/independents can be won either way, depending on what conservatives decide to do on immigration.

One wing of the conservative movement I will label the Populist Wing. This wing is well represented on talk radio. These conservatives tend to be men and women of modest means who rarely give a lot of money to political campaigns but are often engaged as activists. They may homeschool their children, protest outside abortion clinics, call in to radio shows or show up at Tea Party rallies. The Populist Wing tends to take a hard line on immigration. "Enforce the border," they say. They are instinctively against any kind of "amnesty" and detest RINOs (Republicans In Name Only) who try to work for "comprehensive immigration reform."

The other wing is smaller in terms of numbers of people, but more than makes up for it by their wealth. This is the Chamber of Commerce Wing. The Chamber men give a lot of money to political campaigns and often serve or advise at high levels in the Republican Party. They influence which candidates rise or fall, which are acceptable and which are not. In general, CoCs don't favor "sealing the border" because it would jeopardize their business interests. Mass immigration, both legal and illegal, drives down labor costs and increases profit margins. 

Since the Republican Party emerged from the Whigs in 1854, there has always been a form of those two wings, but the Chamber wing, the Money wing if you will, has always had the upper hand. At times, the relationship between the Populists and the Money men has gotten strained, but they've managed to get along.

The power dynamics of the relationship allow the Populists to force the hand of Daddy Warbucks if there is a real electoral threat. Daddy Warbucks would rather keep his influence than lose his influence for the sake of business. He can negotiate. 

The Chamber wing knows that without the Populist wing, there isn't much of a Republican Party left. The Populist wing knows that without money from the Chamber wing, they have no shot at getting their message through.

Neither side is "good" or "bad." They exist. There is quite a bit of overlap between them. Many Populists admire Chamber types for their business success. Many Chamber types use their money to fund Populist causes. 

The Political Reality

There are fundamental differences in outlook and sociology between the two groups that are often difficult for die-hards in either camp to recognize. The path to conservative political success is to find a way to harmonize these two groups and get them to work together. Ronald Reagan was a wealthy man, but he had blue collar roots. Richard Nixon wasn't known so much as a man of wealth, but his moderate positions appealed to the Chamber of Commerce, and he knew how to court Populist support as well. Mitt Romney is a good example of a solid Chamber of Commerce man who was not very good at reaching out to the Populist wing, or even blue collar folk in general, to his peril.

I bring up these two groups because it appears to me that the immigration hard-liners on talk radio are largely unaware that this division exists and always has existed in the Republican Party. Since they are unaware, they generally assume that the "conservative" position on immigration is theirs and theirs alone. The blunt reality is that neither side of this divide within conservatism is going to get everything that they want, but if they are willing to negotiate with one another, there's probably a path to a politically coherent "conservative" solution to the immigration issue.

More importantly, not only is there a division of mere opinionbetween the Populist and Chamber wings, but both wings areworking against each other. The illegal immigrants coming across the border are being employed by Chamber of Commerce men. If the jobs weren't being offered, the immigrants would not come. In a sense, the entire problem of illegal immigration and "breaking our laws" is the fault of Chamber of Commerce conservatives, not multicultural liberals who have no idea how to run businesses.

The irony here is that the anti-immigration, talk radio, Populist conservatives don't seem to be aware of any of this. If they were, I think we would see more fracture within the conservative Republican coalition than we've seen thus far. Perhaps being aware that conservatives don't agree with each other on immigration in deep and fundamental ways is a job that conservative Americans won't do (if you'll pardon the humor).

What do we do to solve or remedy this impasse? Do we kick the Chamber of Commerce types out and start a True Blue Conservative party? Should we be the Tea Partiers of the True Flame? Maybe we should cast protest votes for libertarians, andreally rub in the irony?

Liberals are more or less united in their desire for more immigration. Conservatives are divided. Those who are against immigration are in the minority. If they want to advance their agenda, they will have to compromise. I don't see most Americans or most of Congress adopting a Minuteman stance on immigration. I think this will remain the political reality whether we like it or not.

Searching the Scriptures: Does God ordain borders? 

Populists are correct that doing away with borders entirely, and allowing any and all to come en masse is a bad idea. America is a distinct nation with a distinct culture that should be preserved and passed on because it is worth conserving. I believe that because I am a conservative, and I want to conserve the best of America. 

Borders are not simply useless "fictions" that hamper our global development into an international schmoozefest. Borders arelegal fictions. They exist "on paper" just like the Constitution exists "on paper." Borders represent important covenantal obligations and distinctions. 

Borders between countries establish on the macro level the principle of private property. "Cursed is he who moves his neighbor's boundary landmark." (Deut. 27:17). God created a world blessed with distinctions. This, not that. Your land, my land. Your culture, my culture. My family, your family. God detests adultery in part because it involves a man stealing another's man family, invading the sacred covenantal space, as it were.

Deuteronomy 32:7-8 reads:

Remember the days of old,
Consider the years of all generations.
Ask your father, and he will inform you,
Your elders, and they will tell you.
When the Most High gave the nations their inheritance,
When He separated the sons of man,
He set the boundaries of the peoples
According to the number of the sons of Israel.

At the Tower of Babel, men desired to create an international schmoozefest of sorts, and God confused their languages, sending them all abroad (Gen. 11:1-9), indicating his desire that men separate to form distinct cultures and ethnic groups.

Saint Paul repeats this teaching on the God-ordained distinctions of nation and culture in his speech before the Athenians: 

He made from one man every nation of mankind to live on the face of the earth, having determined their appointed times and the boundaries of their habitation, that they would seek God, if perhaps they might grope from Him and find Him, though He is not far from each of us.

Any discussion of immigration should proceed from the presupposition that the Word of God is authoritative and true, and serves as the Standard by which we make our decisions. I wish to make it plain that with Scripture as my Standard, I believe in borders.

Having said that I believe in borders, and that God's Word requires that nations have those legal fictions, what should be the nature of those borders? 

This would be a good time to bring in an analogy. I believe, with St. Paul and Romans 13, that civil government is necessary and ordained by God. Likewise, I believe in the necessity of taxation to support said government. Having said this, the next question would be what nature of taxation and government is best? 

Good Bible Christians should acknowledge that believing in the Godly institution of a thing is not a blank check to push the limits of said thing to the ends of Earth. The difference between a man who believes taxes should consume 98% of our income and the man who would prefer they only consume 10% is not the difference between a Bible believing citizen and an anarchist.

Likewise, the difference between a man who favors limited and appropriate immigration and a man who supports a moratorium on all immigration is not the difference between an Open Borders man and a Rule of Law man. The difference is on the application of a principle both men hold in common.

What is a Nation?

Having established that there is room for Christians to disagree on this issue of borders and immigration, I think it's useful to ponder what Scripture means when it uses the term "nation." A clue is given in St. John's Gospel in the final chapter. Jesus tells Peter and the disciples to catch some fish and they caught exactly 153, "and although there were so many, the net was not torn." (John 21:11). 

Why would the Holy Spirit record for us the exact number of the fish? In the ancient world, it was commonly believed that there were 153 distinct ethnic groups. This story, included at the end of a Gospel which is full of typology, allusions and symbolic language, could be thought of as a sort of "Great Commission" ending. The other three Gospels conclude with a Great Commission, though each account is different in subtle ways. Immediately after this story Jesus asks Peter to feed his sheep, reinstates him as an apostle and commands Peter to follow Him, even unto death.

Biblically speaking, a "nation" is more or less what would we would now call an "ethnic group." It is a group of people who are genetically similar, who have lived in a particular part of the world, who share a common language, etc. 

Today, we tend to blend "nation" with "nation-state." The nations are the people who happen to live under a particular jurisdiction. Those who live in China are Chinese. Those who are under the Mexican nation-state are Mexicans. Those who live under the American nation-state are Americans. The individual ethnic makeup or heritage of the person in question doesn't matter very much to us, only to whom he pays taxes.

"Nations" in the biblical sense continue to exist, and often exist across and within nation-states. Kurds are their own nation (biblical sense) but live in two different nations (modern sense), Iraq and Turkey. Yugoslavia used to be a nation (modern sense) but has split up into many nations (biblical sense). 

Within "nations" (biblical sense) regional differences and loyalties often exist. This is certainly true of border regions. 

I live in a border region between Indiana and Kentucky. It can be hard to tell, as you get to the edges of something, whether you are in one thing or in another. The culture of the people usually doesn't conform to the neat legal fictions of borders. Culture crescendos in and out gradually. 

Consider the Kentucky/Indiana border region. There are people in Indiana who work or have family and friends in Kentucky. The same is true of many Kentuckians. Many people in Indiana root for sports teams from Kentucky, and likewise with Kentuckians. Many people from Southern Indiana have southern accents like Kentuckians do, and even fly Confederate flags (even though Indiana was never part of the Confederacy). Northern Kentuckians often show many Midwestern tendencies that would surprise people looking for a "Southern" culture. The landscape and geography of Southern Indiana is very similar to that of Kentucky.

Of course the further you get from the border, the more Indiana becomes Indiana and Kentucky becomes Kentucky. When distance between people grows, cultures become more independent from one another and they diverge. 

The same is true of border regions between nation-states. Someone who parachuted into Eagle Pass, Texas would wonder if he was in Mexico or the United States. Someone who parachuted into a small village in extreme northern Maine would wonder if he was in Canada or the United States. 

In the biblical sense, however, the cultures of these areas are understandable. God has set the habitations of the nations. Particular groups have lived in the Southwestern United States/Northern Mexico region for many centuries. 

Many people who live in the United States in places like Eagle Pass, TX, have friends or family on the other side in Mexico. It is conceivable that some folks from Mexico work on the other side in Texas. Due to the vast stretches of dry ranchland, it is also conceivable that "working in the United States" would mean "working in a place deep inside the United States," so deep it might mean temporarily relocating to the United States several months a year to pick tomatoes, for example.

The local realities of employment and relationships that go across borders should give us pause whenever we hear that the proper "solution" to the "border crisis" is to "seal the border." If the border were sealed, we would upset many local relationships that presently exist (as they always do) in the border regions. It would be a case of the universal intruding upon the local and particular. It would be a classic case of federal overreach, of trying to plan everybody's life from Washington, DC.

If we look at the Southwest United States with a biblical conception of what a "nation" is, a few historical facts become significant: 

1) The original inhabitants of the land were the various Indian tribes. In the case of Pueblos (or Anasazi) these Indians were often quite sophisticated in their construction techniques, building permanent dwellings in desert canyons and making a living there

2) In the 16th century, armies from the Spanish nation arrived and took over the area, claiming it as part of the Spanish nation-state even though the people there were not ethnic Spaniards and didn't speak Spanish.

3) Over time, the Indians and the Spanish speakers mixed, creating their own culture. In the 19th century, the Mexican nation-state was formed when the various ethnic groups across the Southwest and into Central America rebelled against the Spanish nation-state and declared independence. 

4) American immigrants began arriving in large numbers in the largely uninhabited area known as Texas. The habitation of this area became majority American, and they rebelled against the Mexican nation-state and established a new nation, Texas.

5) In 1845, Texas joined the American nation-state. In 1846, a border dispute between Texas and Mexico led to the Mexican War, in which the American nation-state defeated the Mexican nation-state and took possession of the Southwest, a huge increase in territory, in 1848.

6) Besides Texas, ethnically much of the Southwest was largely still Indian or Mexican. The biblical sense of nation and habitation was overridden by the modern sense of nation as the governmental body which holds military control over a certain geographic region, regardless of the ethnic makeup of that region.

7) Over time, after the war, Americans began to settle the Southwest. The 1849 Gold Rush led to a population boom in California. Other states took much longer to come into the Union. New Mexico and Arizona did not become states until 1912.

8) The ethnic makeup of the Southwest has changed over time, but remnants of the Spanish, Indian and Mexican cultures have remained. Cities and geographic features retain their Spanish and Indian names. Ethnic Indians and Mexicans still live there. Several of them, no doubt, have family and friends across the border.

Immigration is Economic

Immigration is explosive because it is an economic issue, primarily, and secondarily an issue of clashing cultures. People fear that more immigrants means fewer jobs or lower wages. This is not a completely unfounded fear.

Since the Great Recession, immigration from Mexico has considerably waned. Many of the immigrants worked in the construction industry. When the housing bubble burst, the jobs dried up and the workers went home. See this informative article on the status of immigration vis a vis Mexico. Net immigration in the years after the recession was roughly zero or even negative.

Note that if immigration was roughly zero, then considerable numbers of Hispanic immigrants chose to leave the country when they could no longer work. They did not stay to collect welfare benefits, for instance. Perhaps that means that the reason for their coming was to work and better themselves?

During the years when Latino immigration was high, the economy was doing much better than it is today, aside from a mild recession that occurred from about 2001 to about 2003. Unemployment was often 6% or 5% among the legal, working population. That means that 94% of legal Americans already had jobs. The jobs that the Latino immigrants came to do were jobs that a prosperous economy created out of its abundance. 

When an economy is booming, the demand for labor often exceeds the supply. In times like these, immigration makes sense. The difficulty is that U.S. legal immigration is often complicated and lengthy, and doesn't respond to changing economic conditions very well. It's easier to come across illegally and take your chances than to apply for legal residency. 

When a recession hits, it makes sense for a country to restrict immigration, instead of continuing to allow corporations to import thousands of temporary workers from Asia to fill technical jobs, for instance. In a time of abundance, however, importing workers makes sense.

Immigration policy shouldn't be static because the market is not static, nor are human relationships static. Government policies should seek to harmonize as much as possible with what the market already encourages people to do. That leads to maximum liberty and optimum prosperity.

To accommodate those living in border regions, some kind of guest worker permit should be available, and should be relatively easy to get, so as to discourage illegal immigration. When times are good, legal immigration or temporary visas should be as streamlined and easy to obtain as possible, so as to discourage illegal immigration or over-staying one's visa.

When people settle in a new place and contribute to that community through work, relationships are formed and cultures are formed that benefit many people. Our economy, like it or not, has benefited from the labor of Hispanic illegal immigrants. Many of them have lived here for many years. To deport them or ignore them is simply unjust.

There is a valid economic argument that the presence of cheap illegal labor distorts the labor market against native Americans who have their papers in order. The blame for this ultimately does not rest with the Hispanic immigrants, who came for jobs and opportunity, but with those Chamber of Commerce conservatives who chose to hire them to save a few bucks. Remember: if there were no jobs, the immigrants would not come. When the jobs dry up, many of them go home.

Since the Chamber of Commerce conservatives are to blame, the ideal and efficient way to handle the problem is to level the labor playing field. Make the illegals legal. Give them the same labor protections and liabilities that native Americans have. Suddenly, the economic incentive for hiring an illegal over a native disappears. 

Reforming the immigration system is complicated of course and will require smart policymaking and compromise between all sides. Maybe the illegals should pay a fine (or better yet, their employers should pay a fine). Maybe they should pursue a path to citizenship of some kind that would be gradual, which would include learning English. All of these ideas are good ones and should be on the table. 

Ideally, these issues should be dealt with locally. God set the habitations of the nations (ethnic groups), and those habitations are in local places. Let most of the enforcement and handling of these things happen at the state and local levels.


To summarize my position, countries have a God-given authority to establish and maintain borders. God set the habitations of the nations, but did so with respect to ethnic, geographic, cultural and linguistic markers which are often papered over by modern nation-states. 

The border regions of the United States have and have had a distinctive culture that is partly American and partly Spanish or Mexican. Long standing relationships exist that would be upset by a rigid "seal the border" solution. Upsetting these relationships would also go against the biblical notion of nation-hood, favoring universal concerns over local concerns. 

A booming economy tends to produce excess demand for labor that is best met by increasing immigration in an orderly manner. Some labor is temporary. Other labor is more permanent. Immigration policy should be flexible and open enough to deal with these realities.

Illegal immigrants have contributed much to our country. Many of them have lived here for many years. They enjoy an unfair advantage over some native workers because their illegal status makes them cheaper and less of a hassle to their employers. To eliminate this unfair advantage, while also doing right by the immigrants for their contributions, it is best to pursue some kind of amnesty for those immigrants. Once they are legal, they will have no further advantages over native born Americans in the labor market. They will also begin to pay taxes and begin to assimilate into our society.

Legal immigration should be streamlined in a sensible manner, in order to discourage illegal immigration. When taxes are high and unreasonable, incentives are created to avoid the taxes. When immigration controls are unreasonable, incentives are created to break the law. While taxes are lawful and nations may lawfully control their borders, they must do so reasonably and fairly.


Immigration is obviously emotionally charged and complicated. There are no easy answers. The politics of it is also complicated. Hoping for a total solution that satisfies only Tea Party or Populist conservatives is naive. It isn't going to happen. Compromise will be the order of the day.

Some issues are black and white, and admit little opportunity for compromise. Marriage is one. Abortion is another. Others are more complicated and require sophisticated and nuanced political solutions. I believe immigration is one of those latter issues. We can compromise on immigration and not betray our fundamental principles.

Christians should remember in all of this that God's Providence sets the boundaries and habitations of nations, and that this Providence includes the Great Commission. Different cultures exist so that they may be reached with the Gospel and seek God, bowing before King Jesus, each glorifying God in a distinctive manner as nations. Recognizing the world-wide unity the Church shares across cultures, we are to show kindness and hospitality to the stranger and the sojourner, while also remaining loyal and submissive to our lawful governing authorities. Doing both is complicated and calls for judicial wisdom (I Cor. 6:1-4, Prov. 18:17). 

In wisdom and understanding be men...

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Former Congressman George Hansen RIP

     Former Congressman George Hansen has just passed away.  Since the time of his political activity was mostly in the 70s and 80s, an entire generation has grown up that is unaware of him, what he stood for, who they were who made themselves his enemies, and what was the price that he paid for putting his constitutional principles into action.

     Will Grigg has just written a post about George Hansen's life.  Please read it.

     When I read it, it triggered in my mind a whole cascade of recollections and reflections that wanted to turn themselves into an essay of my own.  Which I may eventually write; but I know how these things go, and I want to go ahead and give this story exposure, just as it is.  It is something we need to remember -- or know for the first time.

     Thanks, Will, for remembering, caring, and taking the time to remind the rest of us.


Saturday, August 16, 2014

Tipping Point?

     Hi.  Have you had a tipping point this week?  (Or recently, or even long ago, that made a permanent  difference for you.)

     I did.  I will not tell you mine (yet), and you can decide not to tell me yours (yet).  Let's give the things that were all piled on one side of the see-saw time enough to slide to the other side.  And that might take a little while.

     Other people are having their tipping points, too.  One of them is Ellen Finnigan.  She writes about it here.  It is personal to her, and is probably not exactly the same as yours.  It is not exactly the same as mine, either.  But also, not exactly different.

     Point is, those tipping points are happening.  And have happened.  And will happen.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Sixty-Nine Years And Remembering

     I've read history (especially military history) with great interest since I was a child, and I'm good with remembering dates, so I usually remember where I am in the annual military cycle.  June 22 for Germany's invasion of the Soviet Union, December 7 for Pearl Harbor, June 6 for the Normandy Invasion, and so forth.

     Today, August 6, is the date for the Atomic Bomb on Hiroshima, and August 9 is the date for its companion event, the bombing of Nagasaki, sixty-nine years ago and counting.

     You can understand some important things about military history from the dates, the maps, the photographs, and the published histories.  Among my piles of books, I have many volumes of the official histories of World War II, published by the Army.  Thus far the histories.

     Then there are the people, the human beings, the incarnations of the Image of God -- who have their own, and their more reliable, and their more significant, histories.   When the massive edifice of the Pentagon has been long abandoned for something better -- or worse -- those other histories will go on.  As C. S. Lewis truly said, "We shall live to remember the galaxies as an old tale."

     Such a story was lived out by Hiroshi Mori, who was a youngster living in Nagasaki on the Big Day.

     His story -- well really, its aftermath -- is briefly recounted by Davydd Price, here, in a brief essay titled "Mr. Mori."  Mr. Price currently writes at his blog, "10 Miles From Everywhere."


Sunday, July 13, 2014

Pop! Goes The Weasel

     The old nursery rhyme goes like this:

Round and round the mulberry bush
The monkey chased the weasel;
The monkey thought 'twas all in fun:
Pop! goes the weasel.

A penny for a spool of thread,
A penny for a needle;
That's the way the money goes:
Pop! goes the weasel.

      Is it just me, or is there a meaning hidden in this little rhyme?

     The monkey was thinking and operating in the circle of the world, which is to think locally.  The weasel could operate in that world too, just as well as the monkey.  But the weasel could think and operate non-locally, too.

     Where did the weasel go?  Into some tunnel, into some other dimension -- who knows?  He went Pop!

     What happened to the monkey?  Who knows?

     Spools and threads and needles are useful things -- strong, continuous, readily available, and cheap; and so is the money that buys them.

     Both the monkey and the weasel are conscious, animate beings;  but the weasel displays a mode of consciousness and an agility that the monkey does not.

     The smart money is on the weasel.

*       *       *

     Spoiler alert:  that is NOT what Wikipedia thinks it means.

Friday, July 11, 2014

Moron and Oxymoron

     If you really want and fully intend to be a moron, then you are an oxymoron.

Thursday, July 3, 2014

For Cam

To the love of the Father
will of the Father

In the joy of the Spirit
power of the Spirit

With the peace of Jesus
body of Christ

Go forth, little man

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Tom And Ariel On Torture And Forgiveness

     This is one of those posts (that I frequently make) that is really nothing more than a link to someone else's work.  I include posts like this right along with "guest posts," and some of my own original work,  because I think that they deal with topics that might be of interest to the handful of people (probably less than 30 on any given day) who visit here.

     The essay appears at the "Tom Dispatch" website.  It is introduced by Tom Englehardt and written by Ariel Dorfman, an aging playwright and scholar from Duke University whose native country is Chile.  Title? "A Tale Of Torture And Forgiveness."

    I urge you to read this essay, but I feel that I must hasten to offer a re-assurance:  it is "safe" to read:  No "Bible-believing Christians" were harmed in the making of this essay.  This is about torture practiced by "the bad guys" -- or alternatively, one particular bad guy -- in a forgotten world far, far away from our own:  the context is southeast Asia during World War II and the local conditions are things like the Bridge on the River Kwai.  (You may remember the movie.)

     It is also about forgiveness as practiced by a "good guy,"  Eric Lomax, who was an officer in the British army, and what it cost him.  Please read it -- but notice that I did not say, "Enjoy."  Or, "Blessings."

Monday, June 9, 2014

The Menace Of The Herd

     Fred Reed, a veteran of the US armed forces who has lived for several years in Mexico, writes on the recent repatriation of Bowe Bergdahl, and the influence of herd mentality.  Here is the link.

     I think that his points are well taken for consideration.  Here are a couple of my thoughts.

     There exists, in our country, and in the larger world, a War Party, or several war parties.  Their thinking is largely the same.  They largely operate in governments, established institutions, "hallowed traditions," "cultural imperatives," propaganda, and appeals to the baser elements that are present in human nature.

    There is no corresponding Peace Party, as such.  As far as I can tell, there has never really been one.  Other students of history may correct me on this.  Until they do, I am left with the supposition that a desire for peace (and liberty) remains mostly in the province of small communities and private, and usually quiet, individuals.  Life is much more than war, they rightly believe.  And as war is, in its actual operation, opposed to Life and Liberty, this sort of sets the true love of Life and Liberty against war.  I believe that there are actually many such peace-preferring people, though by nature they tend to reserve or suppress their own voices.  Though sometimes they speak out:  someone, after all, wrote the One Hundred Twentieth Psalm, and managed to get it published.

     This thing we have in common:  we all live our lives, and we all die our deaths.  The Lord of All Worlds watches.  Sometimes, He speaks to us, sometimes to others.  Sometimes, He seems silent.

     Perhaps He is mysterious.  What is He thinking?  This, perhaps:  Blessed are the Peacemakers, for they shall be called the Sons of God.  He said that.  Perhaps that is one reason He is called The Prince of Peace.

     Your thoughts and comments are most welcome, as always.

Saturday, June 7, 2014

The Good Song Leader

     Listen to this.  It's a two-and-a-half minute song.

     I sure wish he was still around to lead the singing at our church.  Not for the crowd he'd draw, just for the make-you-think-seriously blessing.

*       *       *

Thanks for the link, Doc.

Friday, June 6, 2014

Bowe Bergdahl's Moral Odyssey

     I make no secret that the readers of this site, while quite international in location, are quite few in number.  But many of them are people whom I know personally.  It is to them that I write this.

    The following post -- a guest post -- is one of the most important, I think, that I have published here, because the issues discussed in this article are crucial to us, politically, personally and spiritually.  The post is quite lengthy, but I urge you to take the time to read it in its entirety.  It was written by William N. Grigg, who blogs regularly at his Pro Libertate website (where I, and many others, have learned much), and he graciously gave permission for me to post it here.


Guest post by William N. Grigg.

"The Future is Too Good to Waste on Lies": 
 Bowe Bergdahl's Moral Odyssey

"I can't make up my mind to put the damn thing on again.  I feel so clean and free.  It's like voluntarily taking up filth and slavery again.
 . . . I think I'll just walk off naked across the fields."

John Andrews, a U.S.soldier in World War I who went AWOL, discusses his uniform in Three Soldiers by John Dos Passos

Trying to find their footing amid a gale-force outpouring of largely manufactured outrage, officials in Hailey, Idaho canceled their long-planned homecoming for Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl. They were understandably intimidated by the prospect of dealing with thousands of protesters who planned to besiege the tiny central Idaho town to demand the blood of a young man they now regard to be a deserter, and a father they consider a terrorist sympathizer.

To understand the kind of welcome the War Party has been preparing for Bowe and his family, it's useful to consider the treatment given to the family of World War I-era conscientious objector John Witmer.

A Mennonite from Colombiana, Ohio who was denied a deferment by the local draft board, Witmer died from the Spanish Flu while stationed at Camp Sherman, Ohio.  Witmer's lifeless body was returned to his hometown on October 10, 1918, where the family -- his father Dan, his siblings, and his fiance, Nola -- was greeted by a silent crowd heavy with sullen disapproval for the "slacker" and his family.

Like thousands of others who shared his faith, John had been kidnapped at gunpoint from his family farm through the evil practice of conscription.  The local draft board had turned down John's appeal for Conscientious Objector status, dishonestly assuring him that once he had taken the oath of enlistment he would be recognized as a CO and be given a non-combatant assignment.

As with everything else of consequence that emerges from the lips, pen, or keyboard of a government functionary, those assurances were lies.

During wartime, explained Bernard Baruch, the head of the Wilson Regime's War Industry Board, all "men, money and things" within the government's claimed jurisdiction "suddenly become a compact instrument of destruction . . . [T]he entire population must suddenly cease to be a congeries of individuals, each following a self-appointed course, and become a vast unitary mechanism."

Read the rest of the post, with its accompanying photographs and links, at the Pro Libertate website.

Thursday, June 5, 2014

A Word From Patrick And Paul

     Neither one of whom is a saint.  That is, I am not speaking of the estimable St. Patrick, nor am I speaking of the amazing St. Paul.

     I am thinking, rather, of Patrick Henry and Paul Craig Roberts, both of whom are fine men, Americans, and perhaps nothing more.  Nor less.

     In the generation of the American Revolution, two hundred and plenty years ago, the patriot Patrick Henry is quoted as having said:

    "The liberties of a people never were, nor ever will be, secure, when the transactions of their rulers may be concealed from them."

     Quite recently, Paul Craig Roberts -- who is not as well known, nor as well heeded as he should be, but he is very accessible right now -- said this:

     "Washington thinks nuclear war can be won and is planning for a first strike on Russia, and perhaps China, in order to prevent any challenge to Washington's world hegemony."

     Now you and I can do our own due diligence, and see for ourselves -- as well as we can, given the deceptions and obscurings that characterize our national experience (and which Patrick Henry, in the quote above, was considering) -- whether what Mr. Roberts is saying has a large and serious grain of truth to it, or not.  I, personally, think that it is far more than a grain, and this causes me to have a pretty intense degree of concern.  We have been here before, those of us who are older than fifty, in the era of nuclear hubris and irresponsibility that characterized our government during the 50s, 60s, and mid-70s.

    Those members of the Boomer and Buster generations who were attracted to the power, or to the personal license, that is offered to those placed highest in our government -- and yielded to that attraction without the advantage of any clear and honorable moral self-governance, or political intelligence, or common sense -- are a dangerous clan to have governing us, or our destiny.

     Have done with my rambling words.  William Butler Yeats says it better:

     The Second Coming

Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.

Surely some revelation is at hand;
Surely the Second Coming is at hand.
The Second Coming! Hardly are those words out
When a vast image out of Spiritus Mundi
Troubles my sight: somewhere in sands of the desert
A shape with lion body and the head of a man,
A gaze blank and pitiless as the sun,
Is moving its slow thighs, while all about it
Reel shadows of the indignant desert birds.
The darkness drops again; but now I know
That twenty centuries of stony sleep
Were vexed to nightmare by a rocking cradle,
And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,
Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?

     Sadly, he was talking about the United States of America.  And tragically, we knew it not.  We always thought it was The Other Guys.  Not us.  Not U.S.



Sunday, June 1, 2014

Parsing "You Have Been Lied To"

     There is a recently retired political figure (whom I shall refer to hereafter as the "Old Doctor") who is fast receding from public memory.  He is receding from public memory because who, after all, cares or remembers much about anything before last Monday, in the United States of Amnesia? We are, after all, thinking more about 2016 already.

     Now I happen to think that the Old Doctor said many interesting, truthful, and thought-provoking things;  but among one of his best and most useful statements was this:

     "You have been lied to."

     Before we dismiss that as a quickie-clever political remark, or a mere one-liner or slogan, let us try to parse it for its possible meaning.  It could mean any or all of the following:

     1.  "You have been lied to" by authority figures that you thought you had every right to trust.  You thought that they were (and that they themselves actually felt) honor-bound to tell the truth.  They could have been government officials, school teachers, authors of respected books, statisticians, employers, professionals (like doctors, lawyers and judges), policemen, even pastors and parents.  You were told to respect them and trust them.  And because they seemed upright and full of good will and had your best interests at heart -- you still do trust them.

     2.  "You have been lied to" by people who, to be honest, you had plenty of reason and evidence to doubt.  You had reason to know that they were shallow, or dishonest, or simply mistaken -- but you bought their snake oil anyway.  Or their flimsy answers, or their cheap solutions, or their self-serving viewpoints, or their outright fantasies.  And now you are heavily invested . . . 

     3.  "You have been lied to" by you, yourself.  You told yourself things because you wanted something.  Stuff, perhaps.  Or you developed a fantasy about how things "ought to be," and decided that that wishing it were so, somehow made it so.  Let's pretend.

     We could go on, but you get the idea.

     Now, supposing for a moment that, for any one of the foregoing three reasons, the Old Doctor was right in his diagnosis of the cause of certain, shall we call them, generally, societal or personal problems.  "You have been lied to."

     Should we perform some personal self-examination and see if we might discover which of our current ailments had specific lies as their cause?

     One device might be to take a long look in the mirror and, while looking ourselves in the eyes, ask ourselves:

     Have I been lied to by people whom I trust?  Have I allowed myself to be lied to by untrustworthy people?  Have I lied to myself about myself, my expectations, and the situation around me?

     For those who look to the Holy Scriptures for guidance,  I offer these selections:

Type 1 lies.  The lies of false authorities.

      And many false prophets shall arise, and shall deceive many.

     For false messiahs and false prophets will appear and perform great signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect.  -- Jesus Christ

Type 2 lies.  The lies of the con artists.

     . . . evil deception to fool those on their way to destruction, because they refuse to love and accept the truth that would save them.

     But evil men and imposters will proceed from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived.  -- St. Paul

Type 3 lies.  The lies that you tell yourself.

     The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked:  who can know it? -- the prophet Jeremiah

The solution.

     When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come.

     You shall know the truth, and the truth shall set you free.  -- Jesus Christ

     A lot more could be said, and should be said.  But this is a good start.

*       *       *

As always, comments pro and con are welcome.

Monday, May 26, 2014

Escapism Of The Better Sort

    Believe it or not, I like to avoid overloading this site with political commentary (I prefer larger perspectives), and when I read this a few minutes ago, I saw my chance.

     Call it a guest post, if you like.  Aurini has written a brief item at this link.

     Brief?  Well, it is longer than the Gettysburg Address.  And it is more relevant, in my opinion, in that it is less political.  That is to say, more honest, and more fully human.

     I think that Ed Abbey, Henry David Thoreau, and John Muir would find something to like in this piece, so that is a good enough reason to post the link.


Thursday, May 22, 2014

When The Dollar Rules The Pulpit

     Here's a link to a song by the Dixie Hummingbirds.  Says it all, I don't need to add a single thing.  Except that -- it hasn't gone viral, for some reason.

     If that link should be broken for some reason, try this second one.

*       *       *

Thanks to Doc Future for this link.

Monday, May 5, 2014

The Emperor's New Clothes

     You remember the old fairy tale about the Emperor and his New Clothes.  The one where some con-men, posing as tailors, take advantage of the Emperor's wealth, vanity, and gullibility, selling him on the idea that the magical fabric that they are using is visible when worn by the worthy, and only invisible to the unworthy.  Through an elaborate bit of play-acting, they manufacture the purportedly visible clothing, and persuade him to parade himself, wearing only his magical garments, through the streets of the imperial city.  Not only the emperor, but all his courtiers, and the population as well, must buy into the pretense, for fear of revealing himself, or themselves, to be "unworthy."  The parade commences.  An untutored boy in the crowd, observing only the plain facts of the matter, blurts out that the Emperor is naked, and the universal pretense is exposed.  In this short story the only hero, if we may use that word, is the truth-telling child.

     In my opinion, this fairy-tale is more than a fairly tale, and even more than a morality tale.  It has, quite deservedly, attained the status of a myth.  If not quite on a par with the metaphysical insights of some other old myths, it is at least an historical or worldly-wise myth.  Adapted and re-figured from a story that dates back about seven hundred years to medieval Spain, the Hans Christian Andersen version  from Denmark has been translated into many languages, and has been well understood by many cultures.

     If the fairy-tale were to be retold today, we should have to change its ending.  The child would be immediately seized by uniformed and armed special agents, promptly charged with domestic terrorism, further accused (upon mature reflection) of hate speech, called out as a truther, and dismissed by the public as another conspiracy theorist.

     Credentialed spokespersons of the purportedly Free-Speech-Loving-Left and the Defend-Our-Freedoms-Right would argue lengthily and vigorously about whose patsy he was, but would nevertheless be mutually glad that he had been sent to Gitmo prison to live out his days with Julian Assange, Bradley Manning, and Edward Snowden.  After a few weeks of head-shaking and head-nodding, and milking the story for media-advertising revenue, it could be forgotten in favor of some newer and better manufactured "outrage."

     Fortunately, we do not have Emperors today.  Especially we do not have naked ones.

     We only have fairy tales.

Monday, April 28, 2014

Sarah Palin Beyond The Pale

     If this linked video could be shown to be some sort of Saturday-Night-Live parody, I would want to laugh at it for being completely over the top.  Then, as things developed, I'd want to put in a good word for the lady if she pointed out that they had defamed her character (though satire of a public figure is, properly, defensible as free speech, which I support).

     That is, IF it were a parody.  Apparently it is not.  Apparently she actually said these things, as reported here, here, and here.

     That makes it the very opposite of "funny."

     The woman is quoted as saying (in the context of throwing red meat to be eagerly devoured by an approving public audience, and anticipating wide reportage), "If I were in charge, they would know that waterboarding is how we baptize terrorists."

     I was going to say that this is a blasphemy against the Mind of Christ, but I will not:  the Lord of All Worlds can speak for Himself, and needs no impulsive help from me.   (Besides, He has assured us in the Gospels that even some blasphemies are forgiven).  But I will say, for myself, that these words are a direct and substantial affront to the Mind of Christ as I understand Him.

     What is beyond doubt is that she has insulted the best teachings and best practices of historical Christianity.  She has converted the sacrament of Baptism, which introduces the believer into Eternal Life, into a mocking taunt, justifying torturous death and punishment upon our supposed "enemies" which, if they are indeed enemies, Christ has most firmly commanded us to love.  She has given doubters, skeptics, unbelievers, and participants in other religious traditions plenty of mental ammunition and excuse to revile the Christian gospel.  They are justified in questioning the sincerity of Christian evangelists around the world, at least if their Christian witness is tied to anything American.  This is terribly consequential.

     After that, her insult and betrayal of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights is quite secondary in my mind, but that does not make it of no importance.  The Preamble declares that to "establish justice" is one of the primary intentions of the Constitution and the Framers; and Congress and the People added the first Ten Amendments with the purpose of elaborating the essentials of justice, as they conceived it, and secured this in writing (so far as writing can secure anything).  The Bill of Rights, both in spirit and in letter, absolutely precludes such an attitude as she exhibited, and such behavior as she recommended.  You know this already, and don't even need to look it up.

     I absolutely believe in free speech -- for myself, for you, and for Mrs. Palin.  But having exercised our free speech, we must expect to stand by our words; and may be called out for our words; and of course may, so far as is possible, retract our words and apologize for them.

     I hope that Christian people, leaders and otherwise, will call her out on this, and help her to apologize and make amends.

     I hope that people who are truly committed to the Constitution, or to the Natural Law, or to the Golden Rule, will do likewise.

     This was absolutely beyond the pale.


Saturday, April 26, 2014

Google and Blog Stats

     I hate to descend into mere technicalities, especially in public.  Especially, when I must confess that I do not understand those technicalities -- it leads directly to uncertainty, and this is an uncertain post.  But here goes.

     I have had, and have enjoyed using, the platform of this blog for a little more than three years.  It has been totally free, both to me and to those who happen by here, and for that I am grateful.  Grateful to Google, I guess, and to the larger world of the Internet, of which the former Vice President, Mr. Albert Gore, is reputed to be the founding father.  So, special thanks to Google and Gore.

     However, I would like to mention a concern, or several concerns, that I, and presumably other independent bloggers, continually face. The first concern is the fact that I -- we -- are at the mercy of the common software and "infrastructure." A second concern is that we are at the (very arbitrary) mercy of the controllers of that infrastructure.

     Now it is certainly true that a system as valuable, effective, and global as the Internet, and even the small subset of that system that is familiarly called "the blogosphere," exists only because it was carefully developed, and is carefully maintained, by an army of dedicated specialists -- and this implies, indeed rquires, some degree of control.  I fully recognize that, and I salute them here: Technicians and communications visionaries, I salute you.

     But a problem arises when, and because, that system, both ideal and practical, is -- simply by virtue of being a sort of "communications commons" -- subject to the vagaries and troubles that any "commons" faces.  Such public commons (as happened in the case of the the old common grounds that were popular in the planning of early American towns and cities) may be more or less ruined by such simple human inevitabilities as ignorance, disregard, overuse, and continual carelessness.  Or that ruin may be hastened by the more intentional (and not, therefore, "inevitable") factors of greed, grabbing for attention, or exercise of obscured power -- psychological, financial, or legal -- "whether sought or unsought," to use the famous phrase of President Eisenhower in his farewell address of January, 1961, in which he warned the American people of the dangerous rise of what he called a "military-industrial complex."

     The sober fact is, that the Internet is older than the existence of Google or the influence of Mr. Gore.    Despite its free and free-wheeling appearance (which I appreciate), with its popularity and sense of democracy, it was developed by an entity called "DARPA" (Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency). This "Agency" has always been as much a part of the military-industrial complex as the supposedly "civilian" National Aeronautics and Space Administration (whose acronym, NASA, was said by some of its appointed overseers in Congress, in the 1960s, to stand for "Never A Straight Answer"), or the also "civilian" National Defense Interstate Highway System, which can be legally converted to strict military use by the drop of an Executive Order upon the "finding" of a national emergency.

     What, you may fairly ask, does this have to do with the technicalities of "blog stats" that were mentioned in my title?  (Meaning simply my blog stats, since they are the only ones I know.)

     This:  the numbers don't add up, and never have.  Also this:  they are un-natural, and getting worse.

     First of all, the numbers don't add up.  On an average day, my blog receives a very modest 30 or so "hits," from several countries around the world.  I know this because my blog-statistics page tells me so. Of these 30 or so hits, only a part -- a fraction, maybe 10 to 20 -- are identified as to where they come from, and to what post or page they linked.  What about the other hits?  How am I to know what posts are popular, and where?  I don't know; and as far as I know, I can't know; and furthermore, I don't know why I don't know.

     Some of the numbers are credible.  Throughout the history of this blog, monthly totals have consistently ranged from as high as 1500 or more on three or four occasions,to as low as 500 on two others, and this seems to me natural, meaning pleasantly random and to be expected.  (It is a separate matter, which I find odd, that Google thinks that I started my blog in 2007, when I actually started it in 2010.  It makes up for this by "skipping years" on its graph displaying my reported monthly activity.  Okay, just a glitch.)

     But is this natural?  Three years ago, back in January of 2011, I wrote a forgettable little post called, "You've Got To Check Out This Site."  (Don't bother to check it out.)  In the following three years, Google reported about 500 hits to this post, which would average less than 20 per month.  Suddenly, in the present month of April, 2014, Google has registered over 3200 hits to this post in one month.

     Oh, really.  Random folks from around the world suddenly found my site and are profoundly interested (about 160 times as interested as before) in this one old very-difficult-to-randomly-find post, while not particularly caring about any of the 200 others.  Amazing.  But hey, what's not to like?  My hit-count is up, from the usual thousand or less, to a marvellous over 4,000!!  I'm so excited!  I'm popular now!  I'm having an impact!

     I have no idea what is causing the appearance of these bogus statistics.  Do you?  Maybe this is only what Benjamin Disraeli, or Mark Twain, or whoever it was, was referring to when he talked about the three kinds of lies -- "lies, damned lies, and statistics."  Maybe it's just another Google glitch. (A very persistent and patterned glitch.)  Maybe Google wants to ramp up my numbers to encourage me to keep blogging. (Clumsy effort at encouragement: I don't believe it.)  Maybe they want to tell me that now that my bandwidth is up because I'm so popular, they need to start charging me for it. ($$$. Nice angle.)  Or maybe it isn't Google.

     The one thing I know is that I don't know, and this bothers me.  As far as I can tell about my abillity to control the other end of the software, I could wake up tomorrow, check out my blog, and find out that "I" had written a post that advocated violence and revolution, or that "I" had "hacked" some secret website, or that "I" had posted links to kiddie porn.  Or, more benignly, my site could simply be closed down.

     As I have watched developments on the internet concerning you-tube, porn-sites, investigative reporters, and security sites, this is a real possibility.  What with backdoors, trapdoors, hackers, false identities, NSA cyber-war, comment-moderation complaints, hate-crime accusations, intellectual-property claims, copyright "infringements," planted evidence, and the rest of the discrediting techniques perfected by our beloved media and our "national security interests," better people than I am have landed in prison.

     This is a risk which any blogger takes, so be advised, whether you are a blogger, a reader, or a commenter.

     Oh, and by the way, you might watch out what is happening on Facebook and Twitter.  Just friendly advice.