Mensch tracht, un Gott lacht

Friday, September 18, 2009

On Capital Punishment

The Vatican's position is that it opposes capital punishment. It's the normative Roman Catholic teaching, although as far as I know one can still be a Catholic in good standing if he or she still favors capital punishment.

Me, I think the arguments are stronger in favor of capital punishment, not about justice so much, but especially Dennis Prager's argument that murderers tend to kill again in prison, guards or fellow prisoners. Once you can bring yourself to kill a fellow human being, adding another to you list isn't a big deal.

So, Prager argues, if and when the murderer murders again, the moral responsibility lies with those who kept him from his deserved justice and fate.

I've tended to agree with that unassailable logic.

My best and perhaps only counterargument has been that executing a human being dehumanizes his executioners.

His name is Romell Broom. I could call him a convicted rapist and murderer---which he is---but I think we should call human beings by their names.

In Ohio a few days ago, the state sent Romell Broom to go meet his Maker. Mercifully, by lethal injection. In theory, you just go to sleep. Eternal sleep.

You can read about what happened here

In short, they tried to find a usable vein to deliver the lethal injection but couldn't find one. They tried for hours. Hours. In fact, Romell Broom tried to help them find one. He pinched his arm, he rolled over onto his stomach.

No luck.

Finally, the warden called the governor and told him of the difficulties. The governor postponed Romell Broom's rendezvous with destiny for a week, the execution is scheduled for then.

"What Would Jesus Do" is an often-abused political question. But He wouldn't do this or be any part of it, and more importantly, He wouldn't ask his followers to do this, far lesser mortals than He.

He wouldn't put them through it, no way, no how. Vengeance is Mine, saith the Lord, and that means vengeance belongs to God, not man. "Vengeance" doesn't mean revenge, it means justice.

No to capital punishment. I guess I just made up my mind, finally. Wish I knew why it took me so long...

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Obama Opponents are Racist

Oh, it's Page One of the Obama playbook. The NYT Magazine ran "The Mellowing of William Jefferson Clinton" some months ago:

And the man once called the “first black president” remains deeply wounded by allegations that he made racially insensitive remarks during the campaign, like dismissing Obama’s South Carolina win by comparing it with Jesse Jackson’s victories there in the 1980s.

“None of them ever really took seriously the race rap,” he told me. “They knew it was politics. I had one minister in Texas in the general election come up and put his arm around me.” This was an Obama supporter. “And he came up, threw his arm around me and said, ‘You’ve got to forgive us for that race deal.’ He said, ‘That was out of line.’ But he said, ‘You know, we wanted to win real bad.’ And I said, ‘I got no problem with that.’ I said it’s fine; it’s O.K. And we laughed about it and we went on.”

Well, Bill laughed, I guess, but it was Hillary who took it in the pantsuit.

I was a little surprised the elites and mainstream media didn't pick up on this, but the answer's obvious now---they intended to use the same slimy tactic again, this time at the real enemy, the right. If they pulled it on Bill Clinton, what chance do the rest of us have?

No doubt some people are serious in calling Obama's opponents racist, like that unfortunate puddinhead Jimmy Carter, but for the rest, it's just all part of the game.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Glenn Beck: Caveat Emptor

I share some of my colleague Davy Buck's enjoyment of Glenn Beck, mostly because we have a common enemy, the administration's and this Congress' affinity for statism. And Beck does dig where the mainstream media doesn't---into fellows like Van Jones [whom he got], and into the looming specter of "community organizing" on a national scale by ACORN [which he just took a nice bite out of].

But I would caution the righteous Right against putting too many eggs in Glenn Beck's basket. He's a showy populist, not a genuine and well-grounded thinker like a Krauthammer or a Beckwith. He's already said some stupid things that cross the line:

...that President Obama has "a deep-seated hatred of white people, or white culture, I don't know what it is..."

This simply won't do.

If the great Newton L. Gingrich, who's much less of a hot dog and a much better thinker than Beck, could screw up and hurt conservatism, that Glenn Beck will screw up and hurt it is a near certainty. And unlike Gingrich, Glenn Beck will never resign.

What Beck said in the above video is already enough to discredit him forever to cite him as a source in polite argument.

So, enjoy him while he lasts and scores a few lefty scalps, but keep in mind it's tick...tick...tick...

I'll defend Edmund Burke-style conservatism 'til the cows come home, but Beck's hero is Thomas Paine, and damned if I'm gonna be left holding the bag for either of 'em.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

On "Death Panels"

Well, the leftosphere is having great fun with whatever Sarah Palin wrote on Facebook about the new health bill's "death panels", but "IV," the mechanism for end-of-life counseling

"(IV) is guided by a coalition of stakeholders includes representatives from emergency medical services, emergency department physicians or nurses, state long-term care association, state medical association, state surveyors, agency responsible for senior services, state department of health, state hospital association, home health association, state bar association, and state hospice association."

...may not be a "death panel," but how such bureaucracies become "stakeholders" in another individual's life must have been an argument I missed.

The whole section is about DNRs and the like, employing the euphemism of "orders." Read it for yourself.

Whether or not the term "death panels" strictly applies is not the heart of the matter. There is indeed something more going on here than Sarah Palin, and it's disingenuous to pretend there's not. These are bureaucratic panels advising on matters of life and death.

Bureaucracies are not "stakeholders" in human lives. At least not yet. But if and when they do become "stakeholders" in my life [and death], I shall find no reason to trust their advice.

In fact, any sane person would shun it.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Progressivism Never Changes

(L to R) George Bernard Shaw, Hilaire Belloc, GK Chesterton, 1928.

What with all the "change" and "hope" we've just installed in Washington, the estimable GK Chesterton on George Bernard Shaw and "progressivism" seems appropriate:

“After belabouring a great many people for a great many years for being unprogressive, Mr. Shaw has discovered, with characteristic sense, that it is very doubtful whether any existing human being with two legs can be progressive at all. Having come to doubt whether humanity can be combined with progress, most people, easily pleased, would have elected to abandon progress and remain with humanity. Mr. Shaw, not being easily pleased, decides to throw over humanity with all its limitations and go in for progress for its own sake. If man, as we know him, is incapable of the philosophy of progress, Mr. Shaw asks, not for a new kind of philosophy, but for a new kind of man. It is rather as if a nurse had tried a rather bitter food for some years on a baby, and on discovering that it was not suitable, should not throw away the food and ask for a new food, but throw the baby out of window, and ask for a new baby.”

So if we're the change we've been waiting for, do we need to throw ourselves out and start all over?


Thursday, February 12, 2009

From a Caller on Talkradio:

President Obama's gonna give me a pony!


Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Two Terms I Could Live Without Hearing for Awhile...

"Stimulus" and "lavender sachet..."


Friday, January 16, 2009

Help Wanted Ad of the Year

At least the year so far, but the economy being what it is, it's likely to get even stranger, even if this is from LA...


Looking for Guitar player/vocalist..or bass player who can play guitar and has lead vocal and background vocal ability (good ear for harmonies) to be a member of the STILT ROCKERS. if you can walk on stilts of course that is a plus .....however if you are willing to learn how to walk on stilts that's OK too!
MUST have a really good knowledge of classic rock/pop and R&B tunes....ex; the Beatles, Aretha Franklin, Blondie, and other main stream classic artists. We have corp clients waiting on this trio to get promo together to book events in the very near future. serious players ONLY!

To respond to this ad, man, you'd have to be really serious. Like finding yourself sleeping on your ex-girlfriend's couch. That's really, really serious, although somewhat the norm for rock musicians.


John Adams' Christianity

At least for one day in 1810, it wasn't exactly what I thought...
by Tom Van Dyke

I find John Adams confusing at best---and make that confused---in his dabblings in theology, and I've previously called him a twit and a ninny when it comes to these things. An opinion I've not been led to change, mind you: I find his understanding shallow when it comes to his tourism of other religions, a fragment from the Greeks here, a page from the Hindus there, and he's not particularly incisive when it comes to the Christian religion, with which he was most familiar.

Neither do I think Adams' and Jefferson's letters [frequently to each other] after they left public life are particularly relevant to our studies, a) because these ex-presidents were out of the game and b) because their letters were private.

But I'd like to look at a letter I recently ran across from Adams to Dr. Benjamin Rush [who himself got Adams and Jefferson writing to each other again after a long estrangement]: first, because some folks think Adams' thoughts are important, and second because I think this letter might be typical of general attitudes toward Christianity back in those days, and probably our own days as well.

"Shallow" would be too pejorative, but what Jefferson called the "pillow of ignorance" in his younger and wiser days before he too decided to become a theological "expert" fits here: that most of us don't worry much about what can't be known about God or Jesus or whatever, although we have a dim awareness---seeing through a glass darkly, as an evangelist once put it---about answering the most immediate philosophical question, How Should Man Live?


JANUARY 21, 1810

"[Thomas Paine's] political writings, I am singular enough to believe, have done more harm than his irreligious ones. He understood neither government nor religion."

Oh, my. For John Adams to say Paine didn't understand religion, well, we might compare the color of their kettles, but let's move on. Paine, of course, was the author of The Age of Reason, which trashed the Bible and religion in general, and for which he got trashed by just about everyone in America in return.

"From a malignant heart he wrote virulent declamations, which the enthusiastic fury of the times intimidated all men, even Mr. Burke, from answering as he ought."

Wow. A "malignant heart," and one that could intimidate even the best of men like Edmund Burke. A sage observation, although perhaps Christian charity and the quality of mercy might have tempered what would have been Burke's just response.

"[Paine's] deism, as it appears to me, has promoted rather than retarded the cause of revolution in America, and indeed in Europe."

This would be 1810, not 1776. I don't think Adams means this as praise: Revolution would be a bad thing, and therefore deism, too, at least Paine's deism. By this time, Paine had made his way to revolutionary France, where he was thrown in prison as an agitator. President Washington let his "malignant heart" stew there. [And oh!, you should know about Thomas Paine, revolutionary France, and President George Washington. What a drama!] But back to the action:

His [Paine's] billingsgate, stolen from Blount's Oracles of Reason, from Bolingbroke., Voltaire, Berenger, &c.,

Paine's not even a visionary, he's a mere plagiarist in John Adams' eyes. Voltaire, of course is just the type of "Enlightenment" figure whose hostility to Christianity was ill-received in the new United States, as Adams ills that hostility:

"...will never discredit Christianity, which will hold its ground in some degree as long as human nature shall have any thing moral or intellectual left in it."

Ah. Christianity comports with human nature, then, or at least what is best in man. This is an important point, as "natural law" acknowledges human nature, and is also "the law written on man's heart," as the aforementioned evangelist [OK, OK---it was Paul, who wrote the Epistles in the Bible] also noted.

"The Christian religion, as I understand it, is the brightness of the glory and the express portrait of the character of the eternal, self-existent, independent, benevolent, all powerful and all merciful creator, preserver, and father of the universe, the first good, first perfect, and first fair. It will last as long as the world."

All John Adams is saying here is that Christian teaching [religion] reflects the true nature of God. That's nice, but as a tourist of other religions, Adams often says the same thing about them, too. So let's continue:

Neither savage nor civilized man, without a revelation, could ever have discovered or invented it.

Aha. Just one sentence later, our eureka moment! What is essentially Christian could only have come from God, and only by direct revelation!

I mean, why would "the law of nature" oblige you to "turn the other cheek?" That's crazy, man. Dogs that do that become bottom dog, not Top Dog, and that's only if he doesn't get eaten by his fellows.

This is where the "law of nature" as expressed by Thomas Hobbes comes in, the view that life is nasty, brutish and short and that man enters into the "social contract" of government mostly out of a fear of violent death. Or one might enter into the "social contract" to preserve his "right" of hedonism!

Adams is arguing anything but.

"Ask me not, then, whether I am a Catholic or Protestant, Calvinist or Arminian. As far as they are Christians, I wish to be a fellow-disciple with them all."

How ecumenical of John Adams here, but why not?

I think we find him at his most honest here, and probably pretty close to many of us in 2009---content to sleep on the "pillow of ignorance," but we still have to get up in the morning, look at ourselves in the mirror, then go face the world.

After reading so many of John Adams' letters expressing his theological doubts and explorations but still seeking a universality of religious truth, I was a bit surprised to run across this. But it jibes/vibes/chimes with all of his other writings. Just because a man doubts and inquires and explores beyond his self-drawn boundaries, that should never be taken that he abandoned his home.

"Test all things, and hold firmly that which is good," said that aforementioned evangelist. "Breathe," Paul might well have said to equal effect, because that's how man, armed with free will, seems to be wired.

My opinion of John Adams as theological dilettante and poseur has been moderated by looking at this letter. And if Thomas Paine could intimidate even the estimable Edmund Burke, we should not doubt that the vociferious skeptic Thomas Jefferson could intimidate John Adams, and we might read their correspondence with that in mind. After all, Jefferson had once cut off his correspondence with this same Benjamin Rush over just who Jesus was. [Rush was what we might call an "ecumenical" Christian himself, a little of this, a little of that, but still recognizably Christian.]

And so, Adams never wrote to Jefferson like he does here to Rush; Jefferson was quite clear that he considered Jesus a philosopher, perhaps the greatest moral philosopher of all time, but still just a philosopher. But at least on one day in 1810, Adams states the belief that Jesus' moral philosophy came from God, not man.

As we try to get a handle on the religious landscape of the Founding, this is not a small thing.

Thursday, January 15, 2009


True story.

According to The Sun [UK], NASA will announce that

ALIEN microbes living just below the Martian soil are responsible for a haze of methane around the Red Planet, NASA scientists believe.

The gas, belched in vast quantities in our world by cows, was detected by orbiting spacecraft and from Earth using giant telescopes.