Archive for September, 2009

Down to the River

Tuesday, September 22nd, 2009

I don’t know this world that he describes at all. Not by color, not by education, not by work, not by time. Oh, I worked on farms, in a factory, but I was never connected to a farming community, a factory community the way he implies. And I was always expected to progress; to work hard; to save, fall in debt and get a post-secondary education.

And I can only imagine the walloping that would have taken place if I’d gotten a girl pregnant when I was 17. (when I graduated high school).

For my lefty friends, a lovely version of Bruce Springsteen’s The River:

And a version that includes a nice story:

“Me and my dad used to go at it all the time… over almost anything”.

Yeah.

But it was amazing. Between 17 and 21, it was astonishing how much my Dad learned.

-wolfe

Evolution on the Campus

Tuesday, September 22nd, 2009

A brief recap for those who’ve been sleeping. I’m Christian, I think Intelligent Design is a very interesting conceptual attempt to explain where we came from. I tend to buy into some aspects of it in a big picture way.

ID is not a scientific theory and should never be taught as such. It doesn’t compete with evolution in the marketplace of scientific ideas; it can’t. The only proper place of ID theory in a science class would be to show why it isn’t science: it doesn’t make clearly falsifiable predictions; it doesn’t conform to the scientific method.

Evolution is an elegant theory that has been repeatedly challenged and has only needed very minor corrections (e.g. punctuated equilibrium) to remain a robust and viable scientific theory. It is my considered opinion and view that evolution explains how we came to be. Not why, but certainly how.

First off, here’s a quick hit on five critical things to know about evolution. I will paraphrase (and do them out of order, with the most important ones — to me — last).
-evolution isn’t instant;
-we may well not recognize it when it’s happening;
-a million years is a long, long time. And evolution has been running for a lot longer than that.
-evolution executes in parallel.
-a horrible solution is better than a dead solution.

The last seems obvious, yet is quite subtle. Even if all the answers are very bad, the one that doesn’t result in death is good enough to live on… and evolve, change. This doesn’t require gigantic leaps; it does require progress, even if only minor.

The second last is the other interesting aspect. A standard criticism by creationists of evolution is the question of the formation of the eye. I readily concede that a brilliantly complex device with separate components that can process movement, detect shapes, and recognize colors (all three are separate in the eye and in optic processing) might well … evolve in parallel.

In any event, there’s the background. The discussion will follow… time permitting -/.

-wolfe

For the record…

Tuesday, September 22nd, 2009

Wolf Blitzer and wolfe, your host, are entirely unrelated.

Thankfully.

This does boggle my mind, though. A major anchor is this feeble relative to a comedian and a nighttime soap star?

What a world we live in.

-wolfe

The measure of a man

Saturday, September 19th, 2009

I’m going to talk about the measure of a man. He is active today in our nation’s discourse, and makes headlines regularly. He not only opposed integration, but contemptibly, he tried to stop the construction of a (segregated) school for black children on the grounds that it was too near an all-white school, and white and black children might mingle in walking to school.

The horror.

And this isn’t a matter of this man simply going along with the school board he served on; this is a matter of him calling in his political markers and trying to get the state to terminate construction of a school for black kids that was desperately needed.

What would be your measure of such a man?

I’ve given mine, above: contemptible.

If this man had simply gone along with the school board, I could perhaps more easily forgive him as simply being a weak man. But, with some of the most blatantly racist of his constituents shouting loudly, he not merely went along with them, he went the extra mile.

Even if he simply did so to placate his constituents, it is wise to recall the words of 18th Century British statesman and philosopher Edmund Burke:

Your representative owes you, not his industry only, but his judgment, and he betrays, instead of serving you, if he sacrifices it to your opinion.

Indeed.

This man, in going down such a dark path, failed his constituents, his state, and his country.

Well, that was the 1950’s you say. People change.

Indeed they do.

The same young man, running for governor in 1970, had his campaign manager put out a flier that accused his opponent of “cavorting” with blacks. That noted repeatedly with menacing black and white photos of “radical” blacks, such as the head of the NAACP endorsing his opponent. Why his opponent refused to attend a speech by arch-segregationist George Wallace!

This then young man wasn’t alone in the 1950’s or the early 1970’s. Others felt as he did, though fewer and fewer each year.

But he is alone today, in making headlines, and excoriating his political adversaries with a very interesting charge.

Who is this turbulent man?

James Earl Carter, 39th President of the United States.

And now that we know, let’s consider this quote from President Carter:

“I think an overwhelming portion of the intensely demonstrated animosity toward President Barack Obama is based on the fact that he is a black man.

For a great many years, I have given President Carter the benefit of the doubt. I’ve written so, a number of times in my blog. He came to power in difficult times, and while there were elements of his foreign policy that were clearly disastrous, I thought and think that the Helsinki Accords he championed were an excellent force that helped the cause of dissent within the Eastern Bloc.

I’ve known about Mr. Carter’s past for many years. But I believe people make mistakes; they repent of them; we move on. Given Mr. Carter’s recent fanning of the flames of race, I conclude that he is either unchanged or unhinged. The man will use race, and race-baiting charges to his own narrow political ends.

Just as he did between 1956 and 1970.

Unlike Mr. Carter, I won’t cast aspersions on those who agree with his politics. I’m not making the claim that the Democratic party is filled with lunatic racists and race-baiters. It isn’t. Such people represent a tiny minority of the Democratic party, just as they represent a tiny minority of the Republican party, a tiny minority of socialists, a tiny minority of progressives, a tiny minority of conservatives, and a tiny minority of Americans.

But I will be double-damned if I let a segregationist Wallace supporter who tried to shut down black schools and attacked his Republican opponents for being too friendly with blacks call me and those who agree with me a racist. [To be fair, wolfe, he’s talking about “white” people, and under the “one drop rule” that segregationists like Carter championed, you are 100% black, just like the President -ed. Gee that makes me feel better about Carter -wolfe]

Jimmy Carter seems hellbent on destroying whatever credibility he had left.

It’s to the credit of the President that he’s cast the debate in different terms:

Now there are some who are, setting aside the issue of race, actually I think are more passionate about the idea of whether government can do anything right.

True. Though with the recent bizarre behaviour of the Speaker of the House, I’m beginning to wonder at whether Carter’s behaviour is an aberration or not.

-wolfe

Dark Beauty

Thursday, September 17th, 2009

No politics in this. Or at least as little as possible.

This is late for some of you, I’m sure, but it was new to me when I surfaced, back home.

Astonishingly beautiful sand animation, coupled with music, from the Ukraine. Perhaps the finest piece of performance art I have ever seen. I had thought that sand animation originated in Asia, but Wikipedia informs me, rightly or wrongly, that it is Canadian/American/Eastern European.

I hate to say it, but I find Joe Castillo’s performance of The Passion inferior to this.

And to think that this appeared on a reality tv show. Man. We need to work at our culture.

-wolfe

Unions, some thoughts

Thursday, September 17th, 2009

I think I’m going to try and take a personal vow that if I continue this blog, Fridays will have as little to do with modern politics as possible. CatA once had a comment that made me stop and think: she didn’t think my blog would be as much about politics as it wound up being. Good point. Neither did I.

And I will fail in this Friday post, but I promise another, right after to this, that is as non-political as I can get.

So I’ll start by writing about my complex (generally negative, but by no means entirely) views on unions, based on the activities of people ranging from Libyan-backed Arthur Scargill to the Western Federation of Mineworkers, ranging through likely terrorist acts such as the assassination of Governor Steunenberg, and the horrific Italian Hall disaster.

(Conventional wisdom is that Frank Steunenberg was assassinated courtesy of a union conspiracy, and that the Italian Hall disaster was orchestrated by management-backed thugs. If so, both would classify in my view as acts of terrorism).

In terms of politics? Gov. Steunenberg was a Democrat, sympathetic to the interests of labor, but adamant that the rule of law had to prevail. At least on that last, my kind of guy.

How does this color my view on unions?

Well, they can be insanely thuggish. Vicious. Terroristic.

And guess what?

They germinated in some pretty dark times.

To continue with the example of miners, company towns often controlled the entire local economy. Miners had no option but to shop at the company store. No option but to pay company rates for drill bits that they used up in the course of work. (yep, that’s right, treated in every negative way as both a contractor and an employee).

This was tough, hard work, and it generated tough, hard men.

Technological advancements started sweeping in, in the late 19th century. Embraced by companies to lower costs (and, yes, make the work easier), they resulted in lower-skilled miners being able to do the same job, put downward pressure on labor costs, and broke up mining teams. Instead of three, then two men on a team, one man could run a drill alone. This decreased safety (with no one else present in the event of an accident), but vastly increased productivity and efficiency.

So the unions and mineworkers were bad evil thugs?

Well, not exactly.

What were those words I used? “Insanely thuggish. Vicious. Terroristic”.

Thanks.

Yeah, that about described a lot of management.

Company guards had, under certain circumstances, liberty to kill workers.

To kill workers.

And they did.

Oh it was rare, but it happened.

It’s just me, but that seems like really bad labor relations.

And see above, for the travails (in every sense) of being a miner. I’ve not even attempted to describe the challenge, difficulty, and terror of the job itself; not least dying years prematurely from inhalation of toxic particles… because I can’t.

Like most of you, I’ve had an easy life. My toughest times have been in the mountains in NWFP and the like, and while bullets flew a couple of times, no one was shooting at me, that’s for sure! I’d say the summers I worked on a farm were tougher in many respects, though less scary.

Mining? I can’t imagine.

Mining in a company town, knowing you can be shot for dissenting or forming a union?

Look, I’m an ardent capitalist. Capitalism has been one of the greatest forces for overall social good in human history. We can debate that, sure. But keep in mind Communism managed to ratchet up something like 150m+ murdered, (counting Mao) and Fascism on the crude order of 27m murdered. Not very good records. The information and societal benefits provided by free-market pricing is staggering, of enormous benefit any way you slice it.

(Of course, an unkind person could ascribe 50m murders to Colonialism, arguably a capitalist construct. I’d say more mercantile and imperial, but he or she would have a point. For more information, see the works of R.J. Rummel)

But pure, robber baron capitalism is a bad thing. Sad but true. In that sense, I am a progressive conservative. (WTF is that?).

(Consider simply for example this. Evil-Bob runs a factory that discharges lots of waste into the local watershed. There are no laws against doing so, and a general environmental ignorance and apathy, so the free-market ascribes an arbitrarily low cost to his production. On the other hand, consider this: Saintly-Bob runs a clean, efficient nuclear power facility. Because of the activity of crazy environmentalists, the free-market drives up all his costs, massively. In neither case is the free market “correct” in a moral sense; it simply reflects the costs society collectively deems appropriate in a fashion that no bureaucrat could achieve. The fact that society is wrong in both cases is irrelevant).

Well, put me roughly in Theodore Roosevelt’s camp. Or Winston Churchill’s (who crossed, famously, from the Liberals to the Conservatives in the early 20th Century).

There is a role for government. Some regulation is good. Food. Drugs. Labor rights. We have a responsibility and a duty of care to one another that cannot be discharged simply through the free market or family relationships. Pace Baroness Thatcher, society does exist.

Do the crazed socialists take it way too far? You bet. Whoops I thought this wasn’t going to be political… oh well.

Back to unions. Unions can be a force for good. Or at least a force against what is not-so-good.

The New Deal was an abominable piece of socialism that probably helped save America from massive unrest. Hard to say for sure, and, yes, a perfect visionary capitalist President could have probably done better… but doing so against the voices of mobs would have been a challenge.

But here’s my fundamental observation on unions, and I’d be very interested in my friend Sam’s reaction.

I think, far from being “progressive” — assuming we can agree on some common-sense definition of the word — unions are fundamentally a reactionary force. They were founded as such, and they remain such.

Reactionary in being anti-technological advancement, reactionary in reacting to pressures and forces from management, and reactionary in a social sense — look at the initial anti-Chinese and anti-Black stances of unions.

Unions are courted by self-styled progressives, precisely because they are powerful. Not because they are progressive in any meaningful sense. And I’m starting to think that today’s progressives are anything but.

-wolfe

Snippets

Wednesday, September 16th, 2009

Rebuked. Good.

Joe Wilson owed not only the President an apology for shouting out “You lied!” — which he graciously, and, I think sincerely gave — he owed the House an apology.

He offended the House with his rude and uncivil behaviour. (And no, the fact that Democrats booed Bush during a joint session is also unacceptable, but it doesn’t excuse Wilson).

Having irritated Wilson supporters, I will now irritate Obama supporters.

Of course the President was being… how can I put this in the kindest possible way… he was being economical with the truth. And that’s not a good thing, nor, I think, is it a smart thing if Obama wants to change things the way Ronald Reagan did. Reagan succeeded precisely because of ‘Reagan Democrats’ — people who weren’t too crazy about the GOP, but agreed wholeheartedly with enough of Reagan’s agenda and appreciated his outreach to them.

President Obama appears to be abandoning (domestically) every element of outreach that he seemed to personify. Fair enough, but that may cost him in 2010 and 2012.

I’m coming to be genuinely very disturbed at this President’s domestic agenda. But I’m sure it’s because I hate highly educated people, elites, especially when they are black. That must be it.

Especially a highly educated man with an African dad and a mom who is white. Man, that’s just not right. No one should listen to people like that, obviously. [For new readers: that doesn’t merely describe our President; it describes me.]

That said, credit to the President for authorizing Celestial Balance. One terrorist dead; probably hundreds if not thousands of African lives saved. Good Job.

Mind you, the story I’m loving is this ingenious idea of Hannah Giles’ to do a prostitute/pimp sting on Acorn. The story has everything — sex, corrupt politicians, sleazy abuse of taxpayer’s funds, cheating on taxes, trafficking in sex slaves, illegal immigrants… and on, and on.

It even made The Daily Show last night and The New York Times (grudgingly, and finally) this morning.

As a result, Acorn (which Obama once represented as an attorney, and which had a whole series of links to him in his ‘community organizing’ days, and to which he paid $800,000 to ‘get out the vote’ last year) is damaged goods. The Census (thankfully) has ditched this criminal enterprise.

In reviewing Ms. Giles and James O’Keefe’s videos, I’m struck by how terribly corrupt and broken many of the people who work for Acorn seem to be.

As a human being, I sympathize with them. As a Christian, I can’t help but think “There but for the grace of God — and loving parents — go I”. As a human being, Christian, and a conservative taxpayer, I want them nowhere near the spigot of uncontrolled public money, and I don’t want them being ‘helped’, ‘counselled’, or ‘enabled’ by people who are similarly bereft of a moral compass.

There’s a tremendous malignity in the idea that all of these things — sexual slavery, prostitution, non-consensual promiscuity, tax evasion, pimping, etc. are simply “lifestyle choices” of equal value to any other “lifestyle choice”.

They aren’t.

All of these are wrong, malign, and corrupting.

And conservatives could say, not without merit, “See, I told you so.” Yet we were wrong about a lot of things too… and perhaps I’ll have more on that later.

More to follow. Nice to see Teri, Sparky posting. Must dash.
-wolfe

Anger. Peace.

Thursday, September 10th, 2009
Helmand Cross, Copyright Michael Yon.

Helmand Cross, Copyright Michael Yon.

That’s what I feel on this day. Riffing off of Kathryn Lopez a bit.

I lost a friend on 9/11. I won’t mention her here, as she was a very private person. If you’re determined, that alone should be enough of a hint.

She was butchered by men who loath America.

And that’s that.

The way that George W. Bush, for all his terrible faults, responded to those attacks makes him a decent and liberal[*] person in my eyes. He smacked down, correctly, the idea that this was a war of Islam vs. the US. He smacked down, hard, the idea of engaging in racial or religious bigotry and pogroms.

I think Al Gore would have done exactly the same thing.

Which makes this an awesome country to live in.

May the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost Bless America today.

That piss you off? Too bad. It’s my faith. I extend to you this:

May your faith — whatever carries you through the day — even if it’s believing in nothing — expand and bless America today.

We are one people. One family. Of equal, heroic hearts, and crazily divergent beliefs. We love one another, and we stand for one another even when we dislike one another’s views.

-wolfe

[*]Damn. Liberal has a different meaning now that I’m back in the US.

Democrats reduced to Cannibalism.

Friday, September 4th, 2009

Yes. Really. They are now trying to eat their political opponents.

AP (via Fox News — and seriously, Fox News is quite good at picking up the most interesting AP stories, regardless of your political leanings) reports:

Sheriff’s Capt. Frank O’Hanlon says about 100 people demonstrating in favor of health care reforms rallied Wednesday night at a Thousand Oaks street corner when one protester walked across the street to confront about 25 counter-demonstrators.

O’Hanlon says the man got into a fight and bit off half the left pinky of 65-year-old William Rice.

Granted, not all Democrats are cannibals. But even one is too many.

I thought the guys showing up to outside town hall meetings (not to the meetings themselves; this is a critical distinction) who were conspicuously armed were kind of nutty.

Now?

Well after the cannibal, and the beating of Kenneth Gladney by racist Democratic thugs enraged at Gladney being a black man who dared wander off the plantation, [1] I’m starting to think they might not be so crazy.

-wolfe

[1]It’s not clear to me that Mr. Gladney actually is a conservative; reading the news coverage carefully, he seemed simply to have been a merchant selling pro-conservative merchandise. Whatever his views, he sure didn’t deserve to be attacked, 5-on-1, by large racist Democratic thugs calling him the N-word,