Cindy Sheehan Finds Out Thugocracy Isn’t Fun

It’s getting rough out there, even for a leftist like Cindy Sheehan:

Just 5 days before the election, at 3a.m. on October 30th, all of the front windows of the Cindy Sheehan for Congress campaign offices were shattered. Although staffers had been in the office less than an hour earlier, no one was in the building at the time of the incident. No one was hurt and there were no witnesses. Cindy Sheehan is a candidate for Congress in California’s 8th Congressional District race against incumbent Nancy Pelosi (D-CA).

“It seems to have been a calculated intimidation tactic,” said Tiffany Burns, the Cindy for Congress campaign manager. “One of our computers was stolen, but no other property was taken from our offices and no surrounding buildings were targeted. Clearly they wanted to both frighten us and to gather information.” Total damage to the campaign office is currently estimated at more than $5,000.

Frankly, I’m not much of a fan of Cindy Sheehan.  But, as we say these days, she is what she is–an real anti-war activist in the tradition of those who marched, demonstrated and even terrorised (like William Ayers) in protest of the Vietnam War.

But she’s finding out that what Leon Trotsky found out the hard way: you can consign your right-wing opponents to the asheap of history (as he did in the wake of the Russian Revolution) and still find yourself on the wrong side of the revolution.  Which makes me wonder: how many of Barack Obama’s fervent supporters are going to end up in the same boat?  As Michael Barone calls it, it’s thugocracy, and it isn’t fun.

The Two Americas: A Lesson from South Florida

Before the real Sarah Palin went to the podium to announce that “It’s Saturday Night!” Tina Fey did one of her skits on a Palin News conference, making fun of Palin’s implication that parts of the U.S. aren’t really “America.”

My wife and I watched this historic episode of SNL from Boca Raton, a place I’ve characterised as not quite part of America myself:

Regular readers of this blog have probably get the feeling that we don’t think that South Florida in general and Palm Beach in particular are really part of the U.S., at least in a “style of mind” sense.

Now we know this to be a fact: a councilman-elect in Tequesta has refused to swear or affirm that he will “support, protect and defend” the government,” even though Tequesta itself is hardly at war (except perhaps with the local gangs.)

Fortunately for everyone the St. Lucie River, Lake Okeechobee and the Caloosahatchie River form a nice barrier, which would make a suitable dividing line between the “U.S.” and whatever kind of country the God-hating liberals want to create beyond that. But given the inability of Homeland Security to hold the borders we have–and that includes the Rio Grande–we’d probably just create another illegal immigration problem.

It didn’t take long to be reminded of this.

The next morning, we got up and went to Panera Bread for breakfast.  The one and only line was long and the sign for help wanted in the window was big.  So we settled in for a long wait.

But, alas, another line formed. So we, in the back of the one we were in, had a straight shot for it and took it.  We were now second, and just about ready to step up, when a women cut in front of us, keeping us in second place for a few minutes longer.  My wife was incensed at this lack of manners, and wanted to say something, but I whispered her not to do so.  We finally got our breakfast amidst rumblings about calling the cops.

One of the things I learned early growing up in South Florida is that the way one reacted to such lapses in etiquette was a measure of the kind of Christian you were, be it in line or in traffic or wherever.  My wife, raised in a Southern culture that is obsessively polite, has always been mystified by my seeming diffidence in such matters.  But she didn’t have to put up with this on a regular basis, and does not now.

Having gotten through this ordeal, we went on to Ft. Lauderdale (where, as I always like to say, “the animals are tame and the people run wild”) and got on the plane for Knoxville.  We rolled the last of our luggage into the parking garage elevator, and notice a young couple making a dash for the lift.  We held it for them while they got in.

“You just get in from New York?” the young man asked.

“No, Ft. Lauderdale,” I grimly replied, sensing a distinction without a difference.

“Nobody holds the elevator for you in New York,” the man added.  Turns out they got to see the historic SNL in the studio audience, which was way cool.  But all four of us, having had good visits, were glad to be home.

Comedy is a good way to highlight serious issues in a non-threatening way, and sometimes what seems really absurd to the comedian (and some of the audience) actually rings true to others.  That’s sort of the way I feel about Tina Fey’s routine.  They can laugh all they want about some parts of this country not being thought of as “America,” but the truth is, that’s exactly the way those of us in “flyover country” feel about it.  And experiences such as we had don’t help.

It’s ironic that liberals talk about the need for community, yet many of the places where they are in the driver’s seat (the ones with a car, at least) are sorely lacking in that regard.   South Florida, for me, is Exhibit A of this.  It’s also ironic that liberals talk about the need for generosity, yet surveys consistently show that conservatives are at the top in charitable giving, especially when this is measured relative to their income.

Every election we have in the U.S. is, in a sense, a vote for the kind of country we want to have.  As you who are to vote step up to do so, think about this: what kind of America do you want?  There are certainly rude people in our parts, and we encountered great people in our return to what I call home (such as this and this.)  But what general tenor needs to be set?  There’s a lot of talk about healing.  But those who intend to heal need to start by making their words and deeds sweet, because someday they may have to eat them.

Message to Australian Christian Lobby: You’re Probably Next to be Censored

I’m not sure why the Australian Christian Lobby is so gleeful over their government’s proposal to implement mandatory internet censorship:

The Australian Christian Lobby (ACL) today welcomed Government moves towards a two-tiered Internet filtering system which would include mandatory blocking of illegal material.

ACL Managing Director Jim Wallace said it is vital that better Internet safeguards are put in place to protect children and the community from the increasingly abusive and degrading material too easily available over the Internet from both legal and illegal sources.

“Obviously the Internet industry is going to continue to fight this important initiative but the interests of children must be placed first.

“The need to prevent access to illegal hard-core material and child pornography must be placed above the industry’s desire for unfettered access.”

More details on this proposal are here.

The ACL, like their counterparts in the U.S., aren’t thinking this through.  And they should: two Christian ministers in Australia just went through a legal ordeal where they were accused of hate crimes by Muslims upset that they pointed out what the Qur’an actually says.

I don’t like the garbage that’s on the Net these days either.  But it’s just as easy to block Christian material as it it pornography (easier, perhaps, because a lot of it is in text.)  And that’s one of the long-term objectives of hate crime legislation, on both sides of the Pacific.

The ACL needs to wake up and realise that they’re–and we–are probably next to be censored.

It’s Not Getting Any Better in American Public Schools

Even a liberal virtual rag like the IHT admits this is so:

The United States once had the world’s top high-school graduation rate. It has now fallen to 13th place behind countries like South Korea, the Czech Republic and Slovenia. Worse still, a new study from the Education Trust, a nonpartisan foundation, finds that the United States is the only country in the industrial world where young people are less likely than their parents to graduate high school.

Most American parents never see these damning international comparisons, which are based on census figures and labor force statistics. Instead, parents who want to know how their schools are doing in terms of vital statistics like graduation rates must rely on phony calculations cooked up by state governments that are determined to hide the truth for as long as possible.

Evidently my cautious optimism during the time I was on a search committee for a school superintendent was misplaced.

Blaming students and parents for this isn’t the answer.  Personally, I’d advise any student college bound and with sense (and those don’t always go together) to either a) get early admission and exit high school before the senior year, or b) drop out, get a GED, then get admission to a college.  The latter might not get you into the Ivy League, but perhaps you can emigrate and have an really interesting life.

The core of the problem is that you have a collusion of school administrators and the teachers’ trade union whose main goal is to preserve their turf.  And I honestly don’t see either party (especially the Democrats, who receive so much support from the trade union) taking on this combination, something I discussed last summer in Obama Can’t Get Past Bonjour.

“Religious freedom is a rich and strategic human right”

As if to underscore a point no one seems to get, from a fascinating article about how interfaith efforts to secure religious freedoms have gotten lost in the journalistic shuffle:

“What we found out was that human rights are part of one package,” said Hertzke. “If you pull out the pin of religious freedom, it’s hard to support freedom of speech, freedom of association and other crucial human rights. Religious freedom is a rich and strategic human right.”

Both the journalists and some in the Evangelical community believe that the goal of the effort is to spread the imposition of certain ways of life on others.  This shared assumption is what really complicates our current political and social dynamic.  Evidently it even put strains on the interfaith coalitions formed to make campaigns for religious freedom a reality:

This coalition was “made up of groups that usually fought like cats and dogs on other issues, but would join together to work for religious freedom,” said Hertzke, speaking at the University of California, Berkeley.

These leaders would work on religious-liberty issues over morning coffee and bagels, before returning to their offices where they usually found themselves in total opposition to one another on abortion, gay rights, public education and a host of other church-state issues. Nevertheless, their coordinated labors on foreign policy projects “produced trust and relationships that had never existed before,” he said.

The question is whether this coalition’s ties that bind can survive tensions created by the current White House race and renewed conflicts over religious and cultural issues in America.

“The kinds of energies generated in these kinds of social movements are hard to sustain,” said Hertzke. “There was always the concern that fighting over the familiar social issues would siphon away some of the energy that held this remarkable coalition together for a decade. …

“The fear is that if people feel really threatened on the issues here at home that matter to them the most — like abortion — then they will not be able to invest time and resources in these human-rights issues around the world.”

Linda Bloodworth-Thomason Rips MSNBC, and Why the Élites Hate Sarah Palin

And Bloodworth-Thomason’s remarks come not a moment too soon either:

The cable news channel is “completely out of control,” said writer-producer Linda Bloodworth-Thomason, a self-proclaimed liberal Democrat.

She added that she would prefer a lunch date with right-leaning Fox News star Sean Hannity over left-leaning MSNBC star Keith Olbermann.

Olbermann was criticized by many who attended Monday’s luncheon sponsored by the Caucus for Producers, Writers & Directors at the Beverly Hills Hotel. The event was dubbed “Hollywood, America and Election ’08.”

Bloodworth-Thomason and others seemed especially critical of the way MSNBC — and other media — has attacked Republican vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin while demeaning her supporters.

“We should stop the demonizing,” she said, adding that Democrats have been worse than Republicans as far as personal attacks on candidates are concerned. “It diminishes us,” she said of her fellow Democrats. She stressed, though, that its Palin’s small-town American roots she wishes to defend and not her politics or policies.

Bloodworth-Thomason even suggested a defense of Palin and her supporters should be written into TV programming, just as she went out of her way to portray Southern women as smart in her hit TV show “Designing Women.”

You may remember that Harry and Linda Thomason are die-in-the-wool Clintonistas who were very prominent in that administration.  You know it’s bad when she’d rather have a lunch date with Sean Hannity!

But the whole business of demonising Sarah Palin goes to the heart of what this election is all about.  We’ve been building up to this for a long time, but the blunt truth of the matter is that Sarah Palin is a major threat to the élites in our society just by being who she is.

What we are being presented with by the left is simple: only a few people, who have gone to the right schools, live in the right places and associate with the right people are fit to govern the country. The rest of us are simply too stupid.  I’ve beat on this issue before on both a political and personal level before, and the sad part is that too many on the right agree with them (for example, Peggy Noonan and her attacks on Sarah Palin.)

What Linda Bloodworth-Thomason may not realise is that Palin’s “small-town American roots”–and her sticking to them in her life–are the core issue.  What we have is two groups of people who cannot survive if the other is in charge.  Or, as one Russian ambassador put it about the conflicts in his own time, “No treaties are possible between them.  The existence of one means the death of the other.”  That explains much of the viciousness we see in this election cycle.

Irrespective of whether you think that Sarah Palin is the ideal standard bearer for her values and those like her, the triumph of the élite idea of success is the end of the American social dynamic as we have known it.  And that leads to the next question: will this new “Plan B” work?  I doubt it.

Reply to Tom Sterbens on Christianity and Politics

Tom Sterbens initiated an interesting discussion on Christianity and politics on MissionalCOG.  His “wrap” on it is as follows:

Do you think that the general disposition of the evangelical community (concerning the potential of Obama being president) is reflective of the same consciousness when Clinton was elected to office?

Do you see it as fear filled?

Peter says, “…fear God, honor the king.” Do you think that perhaps we may get it backwards…”fear the king and honor God?”

For years I have heard and read that 95% of Christians have never lead anyone to Christ (I think I first read it a hundred years ago from Elmer Towns?)…yet I am amazed at how easily we (evangelicals) will get amped up over the political atmosphere.

Since I spend a lot of time on the political–especially during an election cycle–I think some explanation as to why I do and take the stance I have is in order.

IMHO, there are two basic approaches to Christian involvement in the political sphere in the US.

The first is the theonomistic approach, where we posit that, at one time in recent memory, this country was completely “under God” and that our duty is to re-establish that reign.  Without rehashing a lot of what I’ve already said, I don’t think there’s anyone alive who lived in such a country.  When the Moral Majority started to move in the late 1970’s, we had already lost large portions of the élite to our idea.  Our refusal to recognise that has led to the general failure of that political agenda, as is abundantly clear in this election cycle.

The second is what I call the “level playing field” approach.  By getting the state church/religion out of the mix, we created a level playing field that encouraged the growth of churches such as ours.  Behind such a scenario is the recognition that the state isn’t the highest power, an inherently theistic concept, as I noted almost seven years ago:

We said at the start that any Christian organisation worth its salt proclaims that God’s authority is above any human government.  That too is not to the liberals’ taste; they speak of freedom, but by putting the government at the top of human society they guarantee that freedom will sooner or later go away.  When the Ten Commandments are posted in our courthouses and other public places, it is a reminder that there is in fact a God who is higher than our government and other institutions, our final appeal when we are oppressed and our help when our own government turns against us.  Eliminating that appeal — and that is something the liberals ultimately cannot do — will make us slaves to whatever power holder gets to the top.

This approach in our current climate doesn’t always have a great deal of traction, as I found out three years ago:

There are several different issues involved in the whole question of religion in the public schools, but I felt that this (freedom of religious speech and student activity) was the most important, and in some ways the strongest from the standpoint of the current law. The responses varied. Some had little experience with problems in this regard, others were aware of these decisions and were happy to allow this kind of expression. A couple of the responses were a little too “politically correct” from my point of view, either showing an obsession with “coercion” by student activity (which is amazing considering that coercion is the lifeblood of the state) or showing a little too much satisfaction that formal graduation prayers were prohibited. (Neither of these candidates made the cut.)

The responses illustrated a point I made in Expelling God from School: superintendents and boards generally reflect the values of the communities from which they are drawn. The main reason for this is because most school boards are elected from those communities, and the superintendents chosen by the board.

This illustrates the importance of public involvement—and the involvement of Christians concerned with the course of their communities and nation—in processes such as this. Having said that, I was surprised to find myself “carrying the ball” on these issues. The Committee was supportive of me in that effort, and for that I am grateful. But in a community with as strong of a Christian base as this one, with a position as important as this one, and considering that all of our meetings and interviews were open to the public, the minimal open interest by Christian groups who are otherwise engaged in the life of this county was disconcerting.

But I think that it is the best one, after all this time.

Cutting to the chase, it is my opinion–based on both personal knowledge of our élites and their public positions–that Evangelical Christianity, as we know it in the U.S., is fundamentally unprepared to operate in a society where economic and religious freedoms are restricted.  I include economic, not only because of the ability for churches to hold property as a support for their ministry work (a two-edged sword at best) but because Evangelicals have tied their presentation of the Gospel to upward social mobility.  When that is lost in a society where upward advancement is conditioned on running through a cursus honorum closely defined by those at the top, our appeal will be lost too.  In the long run that will translate into lost souls.

Personally, I find that rather strange, although there is good New Testament background as to why this is so.  Christianity, for me, is attractive because this world’s systems are inherently flawed and unfair, and that the world’s attempts to fix them (especially socialistic ones, although our market crash shows that there’s blame aplenty to go around) only make things worse.  But I’ve found over the last quarter century in the Church of God I’m in a serious minority on this issue.

One of the big differences between us and the New Testament church is that we get, from time to time, to choose our king.  If that is abridged, either operatively or formally, then it’s a whole new ball game for us.  I think that abridgement is a real possibility in this election (with some support for that idea, thanks, Kevin.)

Is that what we really want?

Obama and Marx: “…to control the production of wealth is to control human life itself”

It looks like the Orlando reporterette’s question on whether Obama is a Marxist is getting closer to being answered–by Obama himself, in this 2001 interview with a Chicago public radio station:

Some comment is in order.

One of the things that has always struck me about the whole “social justice” debate in the U.S. is that it has always centred on everything but economic inequities: race, gender, sexual orientation, etc.  Yet any real Marxist will tell you that the issue that’s the “only thing” (like winning to Vince Lombardi) is economic, and Marx’s whole system is based on resolving that problem while ignoring the rest.

The weakness of any redistributive system, however, is one that countries organised on Marxist-Leninist principles found out the hard way: it doesn’t matter how a country redistributes wealth if it can’t create it.  As Hillare Belloc so eloquently put it:

Without wealth man cannot exist.  The production of it is a necessity to him, and though it proceeds from the more to the less necessary, and even to those forms of production which we call luxuries, yet in any given human society there is a certain kind and a certain amount of wealth without which human life cannot be lived…

Therefore, to control the production of wealth is to control human life itself.  To refuse man the opportunity for the production of wealth is to refuse him the opportunity for life; and, in general, the way in which the production of wealth is by law permitted is the only way in which the citizens can legally exist.  (The Servile State, from the chapter “Definitions.”)

In a country as complex and politically vindictive as this one, such a redistribution would grind the economy to an effective halt.

I should also add that such an economically focused agenda would go against “boutique” causes that favour groups who are in reality economically advantaged, such as the LGBT community.

Obama’s adherence to Marxist principles is stronger than many of us suspected.

Joe Biden and WFTV: Evidently They Thought It Was Serious

Joe Biden finally gets confronted with some tough questions:

Although many liberals weren’t impressed with these questions, the Obama campaign must be: they cut the station off from future interviews.  And this in a swing state.

Armed with a more in-depth knowledge of Marxism, I would have put things a little more subtly.  That also would have increased the possibility that Joe Biden would blurt out another gaffe, which would have been wonderful.

Why William Ayers Matters

As the last day of voting (that’s Election Day) in the U.S. approaches and the first day of suing (the day after Election Day) also approaches, people are already trying to figure out what this election means.  We won’t know that until a) we have a formal winner and b) we have an idea what kind of margin he won by and what states he took.  Back home in Palm Beach, the law requires that campaign signs be taken down within 48 hours of the election and, as Joyce Reingold notes,”(h)ope we’re finished counting ballots by then.”   As South Florida found out the hard way eight years ago, that could take a while.

So looking for meaning in this election overall is a little premature.

There’s one issue that keeps getting lost in all of this, and that issue is William Ayers, the 1960’s radical who certainly was Barack Obama’s political colleague in Chicago.  With the financial meltdown, people tend to think of Ayers and other radicals Obama associated with as side issues.  But Ayers has spent his life working not to be a side issue, and we should give him due respect in that regard.

Calling Ayers and people like him “terrorists” may be accurate but it’s uninformative.  Terrorism, like war, is politics by another method; that’s certainly the way it’s regarded in the Middle East.  The term doesn’t illuminate the motivations that drive its practitioners.  Terrorism is hard to sustain indefinitely; its aficionados are either killed, obtain the power they’re looking for through violence, give up and disappear into the woodwork, or decide to pursue their goals through the “system.”  It’s the last that Ayers and many other troublemakers in the 1960’s have decided to do, and that’s why junior Democrat careerists such as Obama end up rubbing shoulders with them.

All 1960’s radicals started with the premise that the U.S. was a reactionary, oppressive, warmongering and terminally bourgeois country which could only be transformed by the violent overthrow of the system.  Ayers is no exception, and there is plenty of evidence that his opinion of the country has not changed over the years.  The only thing that has changed is his methodology; he now seeks to use the educational machine to spread his idea amongst those who are too young to remember what a mess that he and other 1960’s radicals made of our college campuses and other places in our society.

It’s not a stretch to say that a significant part of the Democrat Party has spent the last forty years trying to implement the 1960’s radical agenda.  The more “mainstream” implementation of that agenda is embodied by the Clintons, and the party cast them aside in favour of someone who, although too young to be a direct product of that idea, has been allied with that agenda’s most “pure” advocates.  That characterisation is true for both Ayers and Jeremiah Wright.  The really important question is this: how much have these people influenced Barack Obama?  And will he make their agenda his top priority?

There are two ways of looking at the answer, and it’s like looking at an overweight person trying on clothes too small: no matter what angle you’re looking from, the view isn’t pretty.

The first is that he hasn’t been influenced by them all, that his character is such that he just uses people without them making an impact on him.  That goes to the “sociopath/anthropologist” charge that I mentioned in my piece There’s a Reason Obama Didn’t Plege the Flag, and if that’s the case then there’s no telling how many people he’ll throw under the bus if he’s President.  That would make an Obama presidency a game of Russian roulette: no one will know who gets shot next.

The second is that he has been, in which case we’ll have what I’ve been hoping to avoid for a long time: a country run by an elite that basically hates it.  Getting past the obvious problem relative to foreign policy, if those at the top don’t like this place, it’s only a matter of time before those at the bottom get the same idea.  It will be hard to fill our military, and even harder to get our economy going when hopes of improvement are dimmed by a hefty tax take and the realisation that the taxes are going to people who neither like us nor have our best interests at heart.  Such a realisation will make the downward turn in the stock market look minor.

Although I can see Art Rhodes’ point that making William Ayers a campaign issue was a non-starter, that’s due to the general historical amnesia that dominates the life of our country.  That’s too bad.  As Karl Marx used to say, history repeats itself, the first time as a tragedy, the second as a farce.  So which repetition are we looking at?  At this point, only God knows.