Why This May Be the Last Election

The Wall Street Journal reminds us why this may be the last meaningful election we have:

All this money gives Acorn the ability to pursue its other great hobby: electing liberals. Acorn is spending $16 million this year to register new Democrats and is already boasting it has put 1.3 million new voters on the rolls. The big question is how many of these registrations are real.

The Michigan Secretary of State told the press in September that Acorn had submitted “a sizeable number of duplicate and fraudulent applications.” Earlier this month, Nevada’s Democratic Secretary of State Ross Miller requested a raid on Acorn’s offices, following complaints of false names and fictional addresses (including the starting lineup of the Dallas Cowboys). Nevada’s Clark County Registrar of Voters Larry Lomax said he saw rampant fraud in 2,000 to 3,000 applications Acorn submitted weekly.

Officials in Ohio are investigating voter fraud connected with Acorn, and Florida’s Seminole County is withholding Acorn registrations that appear fraudulent. New Mexico, North Carolina and Missouri are looking into hundreds of dubious Acorn registrations. Wisconsin is investigating Acorn employees for, according to an election official, “making people up or registering people that were still in prison.”

An Obama administration’s first task is not to stabilise our economy, get us (or keep us) out of a recession, or end the war in Iraq.  Their first task is to consolidate their power and that of their party in such a way that their opposition/competition is unable to unseat them, even in the most dire of circumstances.  One way to accomplish that is to stack the electorate so that they cannot lose an election under any circumstances.  The way in which the opposition is geographically concentrated simplifies the job considerably; they only need to concentrate on a relatively small number of states.

That’s the way it’s done in many parts of the world.  Why not here?  Indeed!

Blast From the Past: The Supreme Court and the Conservatives: Avoiding Checkmate

Originally posted 21 July 2005.  The liberal side of this was dealt with yesterday.

Since the retirement of Justice Sandra Day O’Connor—to say nothing of the health problems of Chief Justice William Renquist—much of the buzz in the American press has been about whom President George Bush will nominate in her (their) place. Unfortunately the nomination of John Roberts hasn’t answered as many questions as one would like. Since the days of the Bork and Thomas nominations in the late 1980’s and early 1990’s, presidents have generally preferred to nominate “stealth” nominees to the Court, ones with scanty records for the Senate to shoot at. This one is squarely in that tradition. But what do we know? What does he believe? Is he really a conservative? Or are we looking at another David Souter, who waits in his Washington Valhalla while his New Hampshire house is bulldozed in the wake of Kelo vs. New London? Is Roberts a real nominee or just someone to wear the Senate down before he makes his real choice? This administration is perfectly capable of playing both chess and tic-tac-toe, and sometimes it’s hard to know which one they’re playing at any given time.

The basic problem for conservatives is simple. The drift of the courts has been towards interpreting/making the law in a liberal/elitist direction. We’ll discuss in our follow-up piece why this is so, but the effect is to dilute the Republican control of the Congress since 1994 and the predominantly Republican control of the White House since the late 1960’s, to say nothing of the conservative trend of the country at large. Control of the Supreme Court is central to the conservatives reversing this trend. In a nation where the rule of law is like winning to Vince Lombardi (it’s not everything, it’s the only thing,) long-term loss of control of the Supreme Court would lead to the undoing of the conservative agenda and of the conservatives themselves in public life. It would be checkmate on a large scale. The survival of conservatism in the U.S., and of the constituent groups that support it, hangs on their ability to place justices on the Supreme Court that will give them a receptive hearing.

Failure to do so leads to several options, none of which is very appetizing for conservatives or anyone else.

The first is what we would call the “neo-con” option, which would involve bypassing the judiciary altogether and imposing their agenda by executive fiat. Such an option would end democratic processes in the US as we know them. Given the conservatives’ power structure, this would involve the military, an option the left floated in the wake of the 2004 election. This explains why the liberals, though the “Yale model” of tolerant chaplaincy, are trying to dilute the evangelicals’ (an obvious ally in such an attempt) influence there, which has already created controversy in both the Navy and the Air Force.

The second is the “millet” option, an option most suited for the conservative Christian community. This would involve a general retreat into a closed community which would not venture into the outside world very much, either at school or in the military or wherever. The biggest practical challenge would be the constant fight with the various human service agencies over the rearing of children. On the broader view, the US, the heir of Enlightenment concepts of uniform laws for everyone, would find it hard to implement such a regime without detonating running persecution (as opposed to Canada, which allowed the Muslim community to implement shar’ia internally.) The Brits were reminded this morning, however, that a community with a high birthrate and bound together by belief is a tough nut to crack. On the other hand, after so many years of being told by its leadership that Christianity is both the road to advancement and the birthright of Americans, retreating into the corner would be a bitter pill to swallow.

The third option is the more probable: the politicisation of the judiciary would lead to a general loss of confidence in the system. Once people realise that the judiciary is the de facto legislature, and that laws are made “on the fly” for the benefit of the elites, they will look elsewhere for their survival. This would take two forms.

The first is a greater reliance on foreign sources of support. In this age of globalisation, it’s not difficult. Christianity is rapidly becoming a Third World religion and sending representatives through immigration to the U.S.; the native believers would end up the recipients of missions help rather than the givers. Takeovers like CNOOC’s ongoing struggle for Unocal would have a more sympathetic hearing in the US as people sought a counterweight to an untrustworthy government. Emigration would increase, creating a brain drain as people sought a new life in a world where the boundaries of prosperity are expanding. Finally—and a direct product of more rulings like Kelo vs. New London—we would experience capital flight, as an expanding government would erode property rights to finance its own aggrandisement.

The second would be a general breakdown in the use of the legal system to settle disputes and enforce public order. Americans are not used to a world where people took care of problems outside of the legal system to avoid being trapped in a system rife with bribery, arbitrariness and favouratism, but people in many cultures have been living this way for millenia. Such a chage would alter the face of American life forever, and not for the better.

These are the reasons why the conservatives need to shift the balance of the Supreme Court. In our next posting, we will look at the matter from the liberals point of view.

Why Do We Register Anybody for Selective Service Anyway?

Now the Elitist Snob wants to register women for selective service, while McCain does not:

But the two presidential candidates disagree on a key foundation of any future draft: Mr. Obama supports a requirement for both men and women to register with the Selective Service, while Mr. McCain doesn’t think women should have to register.

FYI, Jimmy Carter resumed selective service registration of men in 1980.

Personally, I don’t see why we still have selective service registration.  And you’d think that someone who hung around Bill Ayers as much as Obama has would come out and say that.  Either that’s his real objective (in which case he’s lying) or his idea is to use this as another device to reinstitute the draft, or use it for some other national service corvée.  Either way, it stinks.

Blast From the Past: The Supreme Court and the Liberals: Dodging the Abyss

Originally posted 23 July 2005.  The course of the Supreme Court is probably the most significant unheralded issue of the presidential campaign.  The conservative side to this will be dealt with tomorrow.

If there is one thing guaranteed about the nomination of John Roberts to the Supreme Court, it is that the Democrats in the Senate will, on the whole, oppose it. They are currently trying to conceal this fact to appear “evenhanded,” but their base will make this cordiality difficult. In his nomination the interest groups that are at the core of the left see the end of a “swing vote” on the Court and a turn to the “right.” Thus they are forced to oppose it, even if some of the senators come to suspect that they have another David Souter on their hands.

One of the hallmarks of Anglo-Saxon jurisprudence is the use of judicial precedent in deciding cases before the court. The proper working of such a system is dependent upon the judges’ willingness to assume the “mind of the court” in their deliberations. The simplest way to ensure this is for judges themselves to have a basic reverence for the law and for that reverence to be their foremost value system. Any wholesale shift in that value system will lead to a shift in the way precedent is “set” and how cases are decided, and in reality on the shape of the law itself.

That shift in the values of the elites—a shift that has come to define liberalism itself—is now extensively reflected in the types of decisions that American courts produce today. As the final court of appeal in the US, the Supreme Court has become the centre in the left’s desire to remould the US. The urgency of focusing on the Court is accentuted by their failure to hold control over the executive and legislative branches of government.

This means that, for the left, a Supreme Court nomination is a “do or die” process, more important in some ways than recapturing the White House in 2008. Losing the Supreme Court on a consistent basis would lead to the progressive unravelling of the liberals’ agenda. The left’s non-governmental recourse is not as broad as the conservatives’ because their control of the government—especially the money-favouring created by political appointments in the bureaucracy and the endless grants to academia—is central to their whole concept of success in life. Their loss of government control would be the abyss for them. Like their Islamic careerist counterparts, for the left belief and politics are one, which may explain why they find being allied to Islamic groups against the Bush administration so convenient.

And an analogy to Islamic careerists is fruitful all around. Their position is akin to that of the Sunnis in Iraq: after years of being in power as a minority in the country, they are faced with the majority rule of the Shi’ite/Kurdish coalition that has emerged after the American invasion. The Sunni response has been an all-out war with the help of al-Qaeda. The left, with the exception of groups such as ELF and perhaps Act-Up, are simply not up to such an insurgency, and in reality they’re not up to fighting insurgencies of others, which is why they leave such tasks up to others and trash them when they no longer suit their own purposes.

The left, however, does have one option, and they only need to look at the example of other countries, something they generally enjoy doing.

Today in the US abortion, legalised sodomy, and in Massachusetts gay marriage are all products of judicial fiat. In other places these are accomplished through legislation. The succession of one “activist” court decision after another has relieved the American legislature of having to tackle many of the really difficult issues of the day. And the process of judicial fiat has mobilised opponents in a way that legislation has never done. Although many Christian political “pundits” wouldn’t want to face it, the reality is that much of the left’s agenda would probably eventually pass given time and the left’s talent for “raising the consciousness of the masses.”

But the left will not allow this to happen if they can help it. For untimately the greatest problem of liberalism is the liberals themselves. They prefer to issue their edicts, relying on Americans’ reverence for the rule of law to make their dreams come true. Unfortunately, as we saw in the last piece, their overreliance on the judiciary would lead to the erosion of the rule of law, and that in turn would only advance the agenda of criminals.

The Problem With a Liberal Government is Keeping The Children Home

It’s not that uncommon to see grandparents raising grandchildren.  But in the UK, some social service workers would prefer that children go elsewhere, as is evident here:

I was at a meeting ten days ago that reminded me of the Soviet Union at its most obstructive, bureaucratic and inhumane.

I was there to support two friends, Gail and Graham Curlew, who had been summoned by Norfolk Social Services to be told why they were being allowed no further contact with their two adored grandchildren, a girl aged eight and a boy of six, who are in council care.

Mr Curlew, a builder from Sheringham in Norfolk, and his wife, a seamstress and chambermaid, had been intimately involved in their grandchildren’s upbringing since they were born.

The Curlews’ daughter Claire, a drifter since adolescence, and her then partner – a heavy drinker and drug taker – had often had an unstable, volatile relationship.

Even they accepted that they struggled to look after the children properly and the Curlews began the process of trying to adopt.

Everyone agreed (apart from the local authority) that it was for the best.

And yet, for two years, without publicity until now, the Curlews, an ordinary working class couple, have fought a battle of attrition with Norfolk Social Services.

Far from being able to offer the children a little emotional consistency in the form of an adoption, the Curlews have found themselves being allowed less and less contact.

Although they’re loathe to admit it, Social Services’ problem with the Curlews is their religion:

The Curlews are members of the Salvation Army and the children attend Sunday school when they stay. But the Curlews believe their faith is another obstacle between them and Social Services.

Another accusation against them is that they’ve told the children they can have ‘secrets’ from their foster carer.

This may sound incriminating – until you hear what the secret is. The children have been told by their foster carer that they can’t say their prayers: ‘We don’t do God in this house.’

They were upset and Gail reassured them: ‘You can pray in your head. God still hears. It can be a secret.’

As Graham says, if anyone treated Muslim children with such discrimination, there would be an outcry.

And bringing in their Liberal Democrat MP hasn’t helped either.

And it stands to reason that, if the left swept into general control of our government, you will get the same results.

“The Repentant Fundamentalist” Also Repents of Dialogue

I suppose I should have known better.

Earlier today I posted a response to anti-fundamentalist James Alexander’s piece, “So…am I right about this stuff?” You can read my response here.

Unfortunately, visitors to his blog probably won’t.

Because he blogs on Blogger, there’s no acknowlegement in the comments of a ping, or a blog that refers to his article, like there is in good old WordPress.  So I put a comment on his posting linking back to my response.

So what did he do?  Delete my comment, and the link with it.

As they used to say on the television show The Prisoner, the fact that he won’t explain anything explains everything…and I’ll move on to more productive things.

Young Earth Creationists: Not The Only Source of Bad Decisions in Curricula

Based on what secularists are saying these days, you’d think that “creationists” are the source of all evil in our school curricula.

For better or worse, that’s not always the case.  Case in point comes from Dr. J. David Rodgers, Professor of Civil Engineering at the University of Missouri at Rolla.  In his 2002 monograph “Disappearing Practice Opportunities: Why are Owners and Engineering Taking Increased Risks?  What Can Be Done to Counter This Threat?” he says the following about the disappearance of engineering geology from the civil engineering curriculum:

Between 1975-2000 the requirement for engineering geology was inauspiciously removed from the required civil engineering curriculum.  In 1980 the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET) superseded ECPD as the accreditation body for engineering curricula.  ABET soon embarked upon a program in cooperation with the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) which polled practicing engineers to rank the relative importance of various coursework they had received to their everyday practice.  Practicing civil engineers ranked engineering geology lower than other civil engineering courses, especially structural engineering courses.  This should not have surprised anyone because only about 9% of civil engineering graduates find employment in geotechnical engineering, while slightly less than 40% use structures-related coursework in their everyday practice.  Geotechnical aspects of civil engineering are usually performed by external consultants.  ABET used these results of these polls to recommend “modernizing” the civil engineering curricula to phase out what it perceived to be outmoded courses and replace them with more relevant subject matter, especially offerings which emphasized computer methods.  Today only 4% of the accredited civil engineering programs require their undergraduates to take a course in engineering geology.  During the same interim (1975-2000) we have seen geology curriculums begin to phase out summer field geology courses and related field work because these courses are expensive to offer, remove professors from duties that generate external research support and are no considered career-enhancing.

He goes on at length on other forces that have influenced this process.

As one who has been involved with geotechnical engineering most of his working career and certainly as an “old earth creationist,” having a course in engineering geology would have been welcome.

The cause of science in our schools would be greatly advanced if its advocates would stick with its objective advancement rather than constantly emphasise a subjective ideology.  Getting better positioned luddites (like the environmentalists) to come to terms would help as well.  (An example of what happens when you don’t is here.)

Can an Anti-Fundamentalist be Wrong?

James Alexander, in a reflective moment, tells us this:

Reading though the postings on this site has led me to question if I am coming off as more “right” about it all than I really want to. I am concerned that the reader might get the wrong impression. So… let me qualify.

I am completely fallible. I screw-up on a regular basis. I am often opinionated. Still, I know my limitations. My conclusions are only as good as my observations and facts.

In my last response to him, I noted that “if you want to see a one sided view of things, just visit Alexander’s own.  As he says, it’s impossible to get away from a fundamentalist background.” Is this an attempt to rectify that?  Let’s take a look.

Before I get to that, let me start by outlining the approach that many anti-fundmentalists take in dealing with their opponents.    A good example is Dr. Saul Adelman’s own method, which got us into this dialogue.

  • The first step is to label your opponent as a “fundamentalist.”  Such a label requires a definition.  Adelman generated his own (unless he cribbed his in turn from someone else, which is possible.)  Alexander used Adelman’s.
  • The second is to, by virtue of the fact that your opponent is, mirabile dictu, a fundamentalist, ascribe to him or her opinions and characteristics that are “typical” of fundamentalists.  This relieves you of having to investigate or address what they are actually saying.
  • The third and final step is to triumphalistically mow down your opponent’s new-found position.  Given the nature of our society, you are guaranteed to find a sympathetic audience for such a attack.

The weakness of this method is obvious: it doesn’t address your opponent’s issues, which is essential for a proper response or refutation.  When Adelman’s bluff was called (yes, Dr. Alexander, I come from a long line of hard drinking card players) on this, he responded as follows:

Although I have found that many fundamentalists are sincere in their beliefs, nevertheless I am profoundly disturbed by individuals who desire the products of our modern scientific revolution yet reject its pragmatic, rationalist points of view. This is hypocrisy.

It’s only here that Adelman gets past his own rhetoric and comes to his true belief: that the only way to be eligible to live in a modern society is to accept a secularist view of things.  Today we have ninnies such as Christopher Hitchens and Richard Dawkins who push this line very aggressively, and frequently do so using the technique outlined above.  They do not grasp the fact that, in a purely materialistic framework, the only things that count are the results, and that such litmus tests are self-defeating.  They also do not understand that morality has no place in a such a framework, an issue I addressed vis-a-vis Adelman.

This is a line which I pursue elsewhere on this blog and I would do so in more depth here, but I’m not convinced that Alexander is an adherent of this decree of secularism.  So let me bring my thoughts closer to home.

The basic problem with Dr. Alexander’s approach, as I see it, is that it shares one characteristic with his fundamentalist opponents: it’s too simplistic and narrowly focused.  It’s a “single-issue” approach to life and, as I noted with one of my other visitors, a single-issue approach makes one sound like a drone.  It also forces everything through the thin gap of one construct without considering other factors.  Let me enumerate two of these.

The first, IMHO, of primary interest for Dr. Alexander and me, is the quality of our Southern, Scotch-Irish ancestors.  This is a favourite topic of mine, and sometimes I’m surprised that my conservative Christian colleagues haven’t taken me to task about this a long time ago.  I even applied this analysis to our style of preaching, and although it generated much interest here I never got a comment about it.  My point in bringing this up is that the constant implication of many “progressive” voices in the South is that our region would be well advanced if we could only jettison all of this “fundamentalism.”  But our history indicates that the activities that we choose in place of church aren’t an improvement, to say the least.

The second is that such a dialectic does not take into account socio-economic complexities that always seem to mess up everyone’s ideal construct.  In this case they do not consider the fact that many “fundamentalist” movements are fuelled by class disparities and inequities that would otherwise be addressed in a revolutionary context.  What this does is place the “anti-fundamentalist” at the disposal of the elites whose position is threatened by such movements.  Although I’m sure that some anti-fundamentalists enjoy doing the elites’ dirty work, I can’t believe that all of them do.

Related to the second is the simple fact that religion has traditionally been regarded by controlling interests as a way to calm the otherwise destructive impulses of the people under them.  That’s why Marx and Engels regarded religion at the “opiate of the people.”  One thing not appreciated about our Founding Fathers is that they too looked at religion in a similar manner, an inheritance from their classical education more than anything else.  That’s why it’s erroneous to say that the U.S. was intended from the start to be a purely secular state, which brings me back to the point in the original Forum article.  The Fathers knew that the discipline and morality that religion instilled were necessary for a society not run by pure fear of punishment from the government.  It was their own enlightened self-interest.

Unfortunately, as Spengler laments, “Successful manipulation of religious conflict is a lost art.”   Our modern rulers only know how to pass laws and throw people in jail.  They have no other response to anyone who puts their God ahead of their government.  They are too narrow minded to put that impulse–one obvious to theologians but oblivious to bureaucrats–to work for them.

Back in the 1970’s, when liberals had their previous best shot at taking permanent command of this society, they had the chance of using identity politics to create a safe “millet” for Evangelical Christians.  But they passed this opportunity up.  They instead proposed regulations for Christian schools and pursued other avenues which first cornered and then galvanised the “Religious Right.”  The rest, as they say, is history.

These are some of the reasons why I find the whole “anti-fundamentalist” line inadequate.  Is there room for thoughtful dialogue?  Maybe.  Maybe not.

Why Environmentalists Cannot Control Greenhouse Gases

Few things show the inability of environmentalists to properly prioritise what’s important than this, from Chattanooga, TN:

An air quality permit was approved Friday afternoon for the huge new Volkswagen auto assembly plant at Enterprise South Industrial Park, though – to meet current EPA requirements to deal with paint fumes – greenhouse gas emissions from the facility will be high. Also, there will be nitrogen dioxide emissions contributing to the local ozone problem.

Some six thermal oxidizers that will burn natural gas will have to be installed at the plant to control emissions from the paint shop.

Officials said the entire plant will emit 128,000 tons of carbon dioxide per year as well as 80 tons each of nitrogen dioxide and carbon monoxide.

Bob Colby, Air Pollution Control Bureau director, said the paints used at the plant will use low-VOC (volatile organic compound) waterborne coatings except for the clearcoating operation, which is used to seal the undercoating of paint. The sealant paint will be solvent-based.

Mr. Colby said under existing EPA rules that the oxidizers will be necessary to neutralize hazardous materials in the sealant paint that is designed to preserve the paint shine and prevent chipping.

But he acknowledged that the oxidizers are heavy greenhouse gas emitters and utilize large quantities of natural gas.

This has been a running problem since the 1970’s, when automakers were forced to drop the compression ratio to deal with NOx emissions in cars.  This worsened the petrol mileage, which drove up CO2 and thus greenhouse gas emissions.  And, as you can see, NOx are still getting in the way of combating global warming.

Colby puts the problem at its simplest:

Mr. Colby said, “We do have some concern that the oxidizers will create large amounts of carbon dioxide gas and use a finite energy source when it may not give us any significant environmental benefit. Those are the rules now and we have to abide by them.

“But there may come a point when the policymakers may need to change that policy.”

Don’t hold your breath.  In a country where everyone is focused on “religious right” people and their “irrational thinking,” the environmentalists seem to get a pass, even from the secularists (most of the time.)  And there’s little indication that will change any time soon.

A Challenging Question in View of Conneticut’s Decision to Legalise Same Sex Civil Marriage, AKA Gay Marriage

In view of Conneticut’s decsion to legalise same sex civil marriage (most people call it gay marriage, but that isn’t, strictly speaking, proper, as will become evident) I’d like to throw out a question.  It’s primarily for my Christian friends but everyone can take a crack at it.

Growing up in Palm Beach, my parents had a royal visitor, one Prince Alexander of Belgium.  (You can view the account of this here.)  He is the son of King Leopold III and Lillian Baels.  The facts concerning his parents marriage are as follows:

  • They were married in the Catholic Church on 11 September 1941.
  • They were married in civil ceremony 6 December 1941.  Keep in mind the following:
    • In most European countries, civil and religious marriage is separate.
    • It’s a serious no-no to marry religiously first, by the law at least.
  • Prince Alexander was born 18 July 1942.  This means that he was conceived after their Catholic marriage but before the civil ceremony.

Now the questions:

  • When were they married in the sight of God?
  • Was Prince Alexander conceived out of wedlock?

As they say on the 700 Club, bring it on!