Courage is rightly esteemed the first of human qualities because it is the quality which guarantees all others.—W. Churchill

Friday, February 08, 2008

Homnick on Darwin and Genesis

Even the greatest walking encyclopedia of the King James Version of the Bible can't begin to penetrate the mysteries of the Book of Genesis without being grounded in Judaism, and more precisely, the rabbinic tradition.

Hereabouts, we're lucky to have a fellow who is---Jay D. Homnick. Christians and atheists, creationists and Darwinians alike need to understand the Torah as it understands itself before they start spouting off about it.

Jay's essay on what Genesis really means to those who wrote it should open a lot of eyes and ears about "what the Bible says." Translating it into English---and reading that translation 400 years later---frustrates any search for truth.

Homnick's most interesting points are that The Creator doesn't go poof!, here's the world. The Seven [well, Six Working] Days of Creation show a process, and each succeeding life form [evolution?] comes from the existing material on God's Good Earth and is not plunked down ex nihilo at every stage. Life lives, grows, is fruitful and multiplies. It's permitted to find its own course, to grow and differentiate, from the trees to the grasses.

There's more there than one can do justice to with a brief tout. Read it. All I can say is that the great Jewish medieval Maimonides [b. 1138], when introduced to Aristotle and the wisdom of the Greeks (while living in Muslim Spain!) was a reasonable man.

{{{Jay D. Homnick [artist's conception]

He [Maimonides, not Homnick] wrote that if Aristotle were proven right, he'd accept the Greek view that the universe was eternal, always had been and always will be. Seemed reasonable, but in the meantime, he'd hold onto an idea, the idea, of Creation as set forth in his scriptures.

Good call, Moses Maimonides, משה בן מימון I mean, أبو عمران موسى بن ميمون بن عبد الل القرطبي الإسرائيلي. [Moshe ben Maimon, AKA Abu Imran Mussa bin Maimun ibn Abdallah al-Qurtubi al-Israili.]

Big bang. Heavens. Earth. Life. Man comes in at the end. After nearly 1000 generations of squalor, God says hello to Abraham. Read the Homnick, already, it's all there.

Ex-nun Karen Armstrong wrote a popular book called "A History of God," where man comes first and starts developing his notion of God. The Bible, in contrast, is a History of Man, told in first-person perspective---not merely an autobiography but a diary, and we see him grow in his understanding of himself and his God day by day and chapter by chapter.

That he gets many of the essential details about his origins right from the very very first, topping even the most reasonable of men in their time and for over 1000 years, the ancient Greeks, suggests to Mr. Homnick---and perhaps us all---that man's autobiography has an omniscient point of view that could only originate from Divine Inspiration.

The genesis of Genesis, if you will.

Well done and thank you, Jay. More, more!


Jay D. Homnick, most recent sketch [Courtesy: FBI]

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Idea of a Genesis

Permit me to strongly recommend my article on the Jewish understanding of Genesis, and how that reflects upon evolution and related issues. After years of reading Jewish articles on the subject, I decided to write up a basic presentation of the main building blocks in the Talmudic/Midrashic system. The others never seemed to marshal the material in a coherent way. Hopefully I will succeed in achieving that goal.

Thursday, February 07, 2008

A Great Day for the GOP

Mitt Romney dropped out, and so, he must surrender our newsticker over there on the right margin>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>.

Mitt, we hardly knew ye, but that was your fault, not ours. I wasn't the only one who noticed Mitt gave his best, most impassioned, and sincere speech of the campaign, betraying a love for America and the American ideal, and revealing that he's not made of printed circuits after all.

[Well, not entirely, anyway, although if he were hit by a stray round or a falling girder and revealed as a cyborg, it wouldn't surprise me.]

Mitt did well, and if he'd said "I'll be back" in an Austrian accent, that wouldn't have surprised me either. We're all brought up to think we should want to be president, but the reality's more than a little scary, and I think Rudy and Fred permitted overcomeable reverses to chase them off, too.

Alan Greenspan said of the seven presidents he's known, only Gerald Ford wasn't weird, and of course, Ford backed into it.

But I think Mitt's just weird enough to give it another go. Which leads us to John Insane [McInsane?]:

He gave an ace speech to the Conservative Political Action Conference, which had just been stunned by Romney announcing his withdrawal from the race. The new Republican standard-bearer, perhaps a 7 on the conservative scale, and has done it despite all the force 10s of talk radio [the toy store]. Republicans, being temperate and reasonable people, sorted out their differences with him immediately, cheering him on many points, and McCain while healing his rift with the hard-core, was already appealing to independents and "Reagan Democrats" as well.

So, after Super Tuesday confirmed the writing that was already on the wall, the GOP took all of about about 36 hours to achieve consensus.

As for where the Reagan Democrats may or may not have gone home, it could be months before anything coherent emerges. Things being what they are over there, we could inaugurate a president in 2009 and still have a court case pending about who the rightful nominee was.

It's hard to take that party's EEG right now since Hillary's a 9 and Obama's a 9 1/2 if not a perfect 10. There is little to disagree about---therefore little for the hard core to get exercised about---but the papers tell me there still could be a war for months to come, as the "superdelegates," who aren't selected in the primaries, represent 20% of the total at the convention.

I was of the opinion that Obama has risen like a tsunami, but political genius Karl Rove just said that Obama's best demographic days will be behind him after the end of February. Decisive African American majorities, and caucuses, where he does extremely well as they are attended largely by the hard core.

We shall see. Me, I like Obama too, and was at one of his rallies the other night. [Don't ask.]

I must admit I was unnerved by a messianic current [We'll change not only the nation, but the world!] that would have been out of place even at a Huckabee do, although I appreciated that they vilified neither Hillary nor the Current Occupant, except in nod-nod wink-wink code.

But since I speak Democrat as well as Republican, I understood---so well in fact, that I "passed" as one of Them. Even got a t-shirt: He's Black and I'm Proud!

McCain? I dunno. We're Lukewarm, But He's Hot!

Anyway, he, and we, had a helluva day.

Monday, February 04, 2008

It's McCain For Me

I let it go to the wire, even wasting 50 bucks on Fred Thompson's prom dress [he stayed home], but it's decision time here in California. The general election, especially if Obama's the Dem nominee, will be fought at the 8th-grade level. Hope. Inspiration. Youth. Energy. Nobody's going to hear a word about policy positions.

Mitt Romney's just too mooky---like Al Gore and John Kerry, who probably both should have smoked the weaker/vulnerable Dubya, let's face it.

Favorable ratings among even Republicans give McCain the edge 72-54. How is a guy with favorable ratings of only 54 in his own party gonna win the general? Sorry, Mitt. We can't nominate Urkel, even if he's rich.

So let's get real. John McCain is a war hero, and unlike Barack Obama, who follows almost every liberal dot [95% rating from Americans for Democratic Reform], is his own man. The GOP's only hope is that PJ O'Rourke is right, and that age and guile beat youth, innocence, and a bad haircut. Although Obama even has him on the haircut.

John McCain for President: We Could Do Worse.

Obama Solves His Latino Problem

Barack Obama's good, real good. He found the only way out of his conundrum [see post below]: the cure for identity politics is more identity politics. If there's a problem between Us and Them, find another Them to scapegoat.

On Friday, he sent demagogue extraordinaire Ted Kennedy out to California for a little race-baiting: anyone who thinks you can't wave a magic wand on illegal immigration simply by making everyone legal is a "bigot," the same as those who opposed the civil rights acts of 1964 and 1965. The problem isn't Us, it's Them, that other Them.

Obama, being far slicker, today noted that "They" hated the Ellis Island immigrants back in the day, anti-Irish, anti-Italian. Obama also noted that not all the Ellis Island folks had their papers, a "fact" he simply made up to square the circle with today's Hispanic illegal immigrants.

But what technique, showing Teddy for the piker he is: Obama narrowed "Them" down to the nativist Mayflower crowd of a century or more ago, who are dead and don't vote, not even in Chicago.

No wonder he's erased Hillary Clinton's lead in the polls here in California with the bat of an eye, a nod and a wink, and marches on to the nomination.

Dang. He's good, real good.

Thursday, January 31, 2008

Hillary: Woman. Barack: Black. What's a Hispanic to do?

Identity politics.

Valid? There have unquestionably been groups excluded---indeed, kicked around---by whatever Powers That Be, those powers in human history tending to be Europeanish males, with mebbe exceptions like the Huns and Mongols and Aztecs and Bantus, who were still males.

Accruing to his everlasting credit, the great Rush Limbaugh immediately slammed Mike Huckabee's touting his credentials as a Christian minister in his Iowa ads as "identity politics," which are by definition divisive, no?

Once you got an Us, that means We ain't Them, and you got divisiveness.

I won't deny that the "power" thing is a legitimate historical criticism, and perhaps a legitimate way to look at the world. Females and non-whites have seldom if ever enjoyed unquestioned first-class staus.

But the unintended consequences of pursuing that line and using that prism include this piece on the LA Times' opinion page.

Now, the essay by some Hispanic notables elides the facts on the ground---that Hispanics and African Americans, each of which vote heavily Democratic, are often in competition more than cooperation when it comes to political power.

And here in Los Angeles, in competition across the board, neighborhood by neighborhood.

Even in attempting to ignore that reality, the authors are still stuck with identity politics---their contention is that Hillary will win the Hispanic vote not particularly because Hispanics won't vote for Barack Obama---who happens to be black---but because HRC had the sensitivity to reach out to major Hispanic political figures from the first and secured their support.

OK, fine. But that's still identity politics, something every American should recoil from. That the Democratic Party at last hoists itself on its own petard of race over reason, well, I'm pretty good with that.

Hehe. Real good.

Friday, January 25, 2008

The Clintons and the Black Electorate

There is a good deal of commentary in both the mainstream media and the blogosphere to the effect that the Clinton attacks on Obama, whatever their basis in truth or fiction, have had the effect of inducing black voters to rally around Obama as one of their "brothers," or something like that. It seems to me that there is something more fundamental going on: The Clinton position---again putting aside the relationship of the assertions to the truth---smacks of the old racist putdown, "Keep your place." And not in a very subtle way either. After all, the Clinton attacks grew in intensity and decibel level and acidity just as the polls showed Obama to be a serious rival. I don't think that this is an accident, as Pravda in its glory years used to put it, and it does not speak well for Bill's much-lauded but illusory political skills or for Hillary's ability to see political subtleties. And let's face it: Bill and Hillary would be perfectly willing to lynch someone if they believed that their political fortunes would be enhanced. But we already knew that.

Debate Wrapup

Quick takes from the 1-24-08 debate:


Romney:
I just don't see how a man with so little charm can win the presidency unless his opponent is Hubert Humphrey. Maybe if her last name is Clinton.

McCain: Not bad. Sorry, Mr. Limbaugh, but he still sorta looks like a Republican, if you squint hard enough. Especially compared to what the Democrats are up to these days.

If he faces Hillary, it'll be Bill Clinton vs. McCain's mom. Sounds like a fair fight, although she has her wits more about her, and seems more presidential.

Giuliani: Not dead yet. Still the sharpest and most spontaneous knife in the GOP drawer. Has that actor's gift of making his rehearsed lines sound like he's saying them for the first time.


Huckabee:
As previously noted, I'll see him in hell before he gets my vote. Sorry, Rev---you can aim at being FDR or Billy Graham in this life, but not both. And I don't want either of you as my president.


Ron Paul:
Always good for a laugh. Abolish Social security? Sure, why not. Almost as irrelevant and doltish as talking about abolishing the Internal Revenue Service. Oh, wait---Mike Huckabee actually did that. If this guy ever got the nomination, the electoral fallout would yield the Democrats 70 senate seats, as America ran screaming.

Most amusing moment of the night: Mainstream news insider/NBC "reporter" Andrea Mitchell telling and MSNBC host [and putative Republican] Joe Scarborough how conservatives are diggin' John McCain. Twice.

Even the quisling Morning Joe couldn't keep a straight face on that one.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Rush is Wrong, Statesmanship, or: The Year of the Mixed Bag


"I can see possibly not supporting the Republican nominee this election, and I never thought that I would say that in my life."--R. Limbaugh, January 21, 2008



Well, I must admit that if it's Huckabee vs. Obama, I might cross party lines for the first time since 1988 myself. Rush shares my antipathy for Huck, but I think he's really talking about John McCain.

Now, McCain has his sins against conservative orthodoxy, and wrote a bill with Ted Kennedy for what amounted to amnesty for illegal aliens. Very unpopular, but President Bush supported the idea, too, after all. McCain has since retracted this apostasy, and says he'll support border enforcement as the Will of the People.

Not great, but hey, that's the idiosyncratic McCain. Scarcer than honest men in Washington are people who agree with McCain 100% on the issues. It's part of his charm, what makes him appealing to independents, and what makes him the only Republican who, according to the current polls, is in a statistical dead heat with the Democrat candidates---any, all, and each, even against the odious John Edwards.

But what puts a burr under El Rushbo's bottom most is McCain-Feingold, a law that admittedly puts a dent in the First Amendment's protection of free political speech. Bad idea.

McCain was also one of only two GOP senators to vote in 2001, '02 and '03 against the Bush tax cuts [known today as "the Bush tax cuts"], a pillar of one of conservatism's three-legs-of-the-stool, economic liberty. But McCain's right out front in 2008 that he wants to make them permanent, under the somewhat twisted but clever logic that to repeal them would amount to a tax increase. McCain is philosophically against tax increases---and in this, the Year of the Mixed Bag, that should be sufficient.

As for the other two pillars of the conservative coalition, McCain's credentials on national security are nonpareil, and it was he who wanted to whack the counterattack in Iraq even more than Bush and the neo-cons did. As for social conservatism, McCain's record as a pro-lifer is nigh-perfect on abortion issues, although he's not an absolutist on banning embryonic stem cell research.

And if his "Gang of 14" bi-partisan coalition with 7 Democrats in the Senate was offensive to conservatives who wanted to go to the mattresses over Bush43 judicial nominees, it was that very peace treaty that put John Roberts and Sam Alito on the Supreme Court, neither of whom conservatives view as "compromise" candidates.

In fact, they may stand as the Bush43 administration's greatest accomplishment, and it may very well have been John McCain's statesmanship that made their confirmations happen.

So when the estimable Mr. Limbaugh says

The Drive-Bys [mainstream media] consider McCain's 'straight talk' anything they agree with, and the first item on the things they agree with him is: 'Bush sucks.'


I think he's missing the bigger picture here. Although it's unfair to call Bush43 a divider [he reached out to Ted Kennedy, after all, with "No Child Left Behind"], even Dubya's admirers confess that his style became more autocratic than statesmanlike. It was John McCain who buried the hatchet after the 2000 primaries, campaigned for him in 2004, and carried his water in Congress without losing himself and his credibility as his own man in the process.

"Bush sucks?" Hardly.

Look, Rush, I realize that you see yourself as a conservative first and a Republican second, and that's OK. You yourself admitted to the mistake of carrying the Bush administration's [and the GOP's] water, and regretted losing yourself in the process.

John McCain never did. That's presidential timber: his personal heroism is unquestionable, his statemanship and character as well.

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Caught on CNN's "Situation Room"

WOLF BLITZER: ...and thank you for the excellent report, Lou. I had no idea things were that bad for the Republicans. Truly a party in chaos. Now over to Jack Cafferty, who gives us the opinions that create the news.

JACK CAFFERTY: Thanks, Wolf. Today's question---Does the president, Mr. Bush, really suck, or does he really REALLY suck?

Summer from Palo Alto writes, "He really sucks. He got us into an illegal war and let bin Laden slip away at Tora Bora. And then there's Katrina. Oh yeah, and tax cuts for the rich."

Brent from Boston says, "Really REALLY sucks. Iraq, Tora Bora, Katrina, and eroding our civil liberties. Oh yeah, and tax cuts for the rich."

William from Berkeley agrees. "Definitely really REALLY sucks. Iraq, Tora Bora, Katrina. Civil liberties, the police state, and Guantanamo. Oh yeah, and tax cuts for the rich."

Sheila from Long Island thinks he just really sucks. Howard from Vermont and Ted from Martha's Vineyard say, he really REALLY sucks. So you can see, Wolf, we're really all over the map on this one.

But Jim from Boise asks, "Why do you even pretend the "Situation Room" is a newscast? Jack Cafferty hangs over Wolf's shoulder like some demented Jiminy Cricket, asking leading questions when he's not spouting leftist propaganda every fifteen minutes. I mean, are you afraid people might think for themselves?"

But Noam from New York observes, "Why didn't you include 'really REALLY REALLY sucks,' which is what Dumbya actually does? Just proves you're all right-wing stooges for the globalist corporate newsocracy."

And there you have it. America speaks. Our next question---Barack Obama: Will he be a really great president, or a really REALLY great one? Wolf?


BLITZER: Thank you, Jack. I notice we got criticism from both the right and the left on that last question, which is what happens when you play it straight and down the middle. Which is why we here at CNN, as always, are proud to remain The Most Trusted Name in News™.

And at 8 PM Eastern, our award-winning special investigative report, "Planet in Peril: God's Warriors in our Broken Government." Don't miss it.


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Sunday, January 13, 2008

Whose Party Is It, Anyway? [...and I'll cry if I want to.]

Last November, this correspondent tried to warn philosophically-minded Republicans that they were taking Christian votes for granted. They're certainly the backbone of social conservatism---sympathetic to pro-life issues and the cohesion and integrity of the nuclear family---and compose the third leg of the GOP coalition along with a strong national defense and economic liberty.

But they also believe that Christian charity is a duty, caring for those who slip through the cracks of the free market system's meritocracy.

Just because some people aren't equipped to compete in it---for whatever reason, their fault or not---that doesn't mean they should be left to starve in this dog-eat-dog world. A Christian conscience cannot permit that to happen.

Jonah Goldberg picks up the theme, in a customarily excellent essay. Committed Christians, primarily the evangelical vote, represent 30% of the conservative coalition, and at least 10% of the total electorate. And Roman Catholics are also an overlooked part of the coalition, and it was their favorite philosopher St. Thomas Aquinas who argued for a "just wage." No wonder a Pew poll noted that "79 percent of self-described social conservatives" favor raising the minimum wage. Lose half of these voters, and in this 50-50 republic, the GOP loses 55%-45%.

That's a landslide, folks, and a helluva mandate for more Bigtime Bigass Government. Word up---even Adam Smith, the apostle of competition and free markets, before he wrote the capitalist bible An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations in 1776, in 1759 wrote:


How selfish soever man may be supposed, there are evidently some principles in his nature, which interest him in the fortunes of others, and render their happiness necessary to him, though he derives nothing from it, except the pleasure of seeing it…That we often derive sorrow from the sorrows of others, is a matter of fact too obvious to require any instances to prove it; for this sentiment, like all the other original passions of human nature, is by no means confined to the virtuous or the humane…the greatest ruffian, the most hardened violator of the laws of society, is not altogether without it.
—--Smith, The Theory of Moral Sentiments


If Marxists are brutes who trust the false god of government, and whose greatest error is ignoring human nature, so are those who worship the equally false god of the free market and ignore what's in the heart of every man, Christian and non-Christian alike.

In this here democratic republic, every one of us is a citizen-ruler, so we don't just petition the government to help out the poor and the weak. We are the government, and vote accordingly, every man a king. The just ruler is also kind, and anyone who writes kindness out of the human equation misses the whole point of being human in the first place.