admit it: you smiled
silly, but worth a look.
locdog reminds you that it's pronounced "FRAHN-ken-shteen"
hillary: prostitute or liar?
heard a wacky prediction on a local talk show this morning. hillary clinton is going to run for president in 2004. all i can say about this prediction is that, if it's not correct, then hillary clinton is a paid operative of the RNC--or should be.
as the theory goes, hillary will not deign to defile herself by mucking about with the clowns and pretenders currently littering the democratic primary--and who could blame her? much better to be drafted in by a party desperate for a real contender, a messiah who could put an end to four years of terror, war, and poverty. the beauty of it all is that it casts hillary as the reluctant leader. she can drive all over the country on a (*cough* *cough* *campaign* *cough*) book tour, do all the morning and sunday shows (except fox's), make speeches, have appearances on letterman and leno, and basically do everything a slick, organized campaigner would do, all the while maintaining the farce that she is not, in fact, running for anything. if anyone asks her about her presidential aspirations, she can look them square in the eye and tell them she has absolutely no plans of entering the race whatsoever--and you can bet your bottom dollar than unless hillary had already made arrangements to get into the race somehow, she'd never burn her bridges like that. not the smartest woman in america! finally, in response to a nationwide outpouring of demand for a serious democratic hopeful, hillary, with heavy heart and deep reluctance, accepts--for the good of the party.
my friends, if this is not the case then hillary clinton is more or less single-handedly wrecking the donkey's hopes. she's sucking the life out of the primary, hogging the spotlight that should be going to...uh...what's-his-face...that guy who's running...so is hillary a mercenary, a loose cannon who's only out for herself regardless of the cost to her party, or has this all been plotted well in advance, with hillary and the democratic leadership conspiring secretly to pull off the election-coup of the century?
time will tell. but one way or the other, hillary is either a selfish mega-ho screwing over her party for fun and profit, or a liar.
locdog's betting on liar. you heard it here first!
bonus! after comtemplating the sort of response anything i write about hillary normally gets, i'd like to save you all some trouble by offering--for a limited time only--my "stock liberal mad-lib response generator." no, no, don't thank me. i do it because i care. supply the following words:
1. expletive (adjective)
2. expletive (noun)
4. expletive (verb)
5. barn yard animal
6. name of conservative talk show host
7. expletive (verb)
9. member of hated political ideology
10. expletive (verb)
...and insert them in order
locdog is glad he could be of service
oh, by the way, they might overturn roe v. wade
norma mccorvey, better known as jane roe, has petitioned the courts to re-open roe v. wade. mccorvey has the right, as the winner of the case, to request that the decision be overturned and may win if she can present new evidence to demonstrate that the original verdict was incorrect. now a pro-life activist, she believes that she has just such evidence. included in her petition were statements from 1000 women who'd had abortions, women who
became alcoholics; "hated life in general," were "unable to bond with anyone;" suffered from depression, various medical problems, years of mood swings and eating disorders, panic disorder and promiscuity, post-abortion syndrome; "felt empty inside;" "lack of ability to deal adequately with true love and sex in marriage;" went to therapy for anger and other symptoms; and "I'm always thinking about my unborn child."
combined with that, mccorvey plans on presenting new scientific evidence such as highly detailed sonogram images unavailable to the courts at the time of the original trial.
now i would think that's news-worthy. especially on a slow summer day where the next biggest story is a routine (if fatal) clash between iraqi protesters and american troops. but as i scan major newspapers via a lexis-nexis search, i can find only three mentions of this story, two of which are in canadian papers. that's searching for "norma mccorvey" in major papers over the past week. three mentions.
in the fox story linked above, a planned parenthood spokesperson waved the story off: "I don't believe that the courts are going to take this seriously in any sort of legal framework." on the t.v. side, a similarly dismissive pro-abortion activist called the move a "publicity stunt." apparently american papers agree--and not completely without cause. as fox's legal analyst, judge andrew napolitano, points out, the supreme court has consistently reaffirmed roe. but hey, since when have the papers ever cared about relevant news? for instance, most important papers have a front page story today on canada's decision to allow gay marriages. profitable news is what they're after, and i'd personally drop seventy-five cents into the little slot to read about this. so would a lot of people. besides, mccorvey's position may not be as hopeless as it seems. abortion was a rare, illegal practice in the early seventies and little was known about its long-term physical and psychological affects. lesser still was known about the status of the unborn child itself.
i bring this up because it reminds me of the recent debate over partial-birth abortions, where basically the same tactics were employed. the main thrust of the pro-life argument was dismissed outright by pro-abortion activists--i had one roe supporter say to me that the whole fuss was meaningless, would save no lives even if we got our way, and was only being raised because we thought it a useful stink. and yet today, as i peruse NARAL's website, i find that the partial-birth abortion ban is nothing less than "The Beginning of the End of Roe v. Wade."
in a weird way, i find myself more in agreement with NARAL than i do with jane. what i mean is, as of this moment, i don't see abortion ending in one sudden, catastrophic supreme court ruling. i see it sliding down the slippery slope to a slow death. but that doesn't mean that this isn't a debate worth having, and that doesn't mean that, as the pro-abortion side seems to believe, there's nothing worthwhile here for the courts. we know an awful lot more now than we did when jane roe was a scared 21 year old carnival barker. who knows? we may get lucky.
locdog's hope springs eternal
clash of civilizations
"do you think western civilization is a good idea," the professor asked.
if anyone thought that it was, no one had the guts to say so. not after the muslim kid seated a few desks down from me giddily informed the class that the arab world had "slapped you in the face" on september 11th and that "you can't do anything about it." his blue jeans were the same color as everyone else's, though.
from a few rows behind me, another voice added "we're just bullying the nations of the middle east. it's just the same old story. white people picking on people with dark skin."
a bit to my left, a largish sort who looked like he might play football agreed in his booming voice that we could never have peace until we stopped invading everyone else. the professor, who had been nodding the whole time, sadly agreed.
"this is not over," he warned. "there will be more invasions." this, he explained, was because arab nationalism was a threat to american oil concerns. ‘twas always thus.
the class had studiously avoided the topic of the war until this final lecture, but the views being expressed weren't anything new. to briefly summarize what i had been previously told, all human misery in the past thousand years was the fault of european elites who ruled through either divine right or bourgeois democracy, which was the same thing. if you found trouble anywhere on earth, you could bet that behind it all was a european capitalist. the legacy of western civilization was slavery, genocide, imperialism, oppression, greed, and theft.
the professor was mournfully concluding that the history of the west was no longer worth studying--mournful not because he'd be sad to see it go, but because for the moment, it looked like the capitalists had won. nation-states were becoming irrelevant in global economics as trade organizations controlled by industrial giants united the world. IBM and exxon were controlling history now. what point was there in learning about europe? i raised my hand.
"i think western civilization is a good idea, and i think it's a good idea to study it."
"because it's not irrelevant. communism may have failed as an ideology, but we've still got the same old conflicts. look at the muslim world. the Old Regime isn't dead. it's alive and well. look at saudi arabia, for instance, the biggest sponsor of terrorism in the world. and there are millions of people right now who live in lands controlled by the church and the king--people who are actually fighting to push back the frontiers of that world."
"then you would subscribe to the 'clash of civilizations' idea?"
"no, i wouldn't say that. it's not like communism, for instance. there were people over here who thought communism was a good idea, who would have liked to see it implemented. i don't know of anyone, other than the arab world, who's crying out for theocracy. it's just that right now, these are the two dominant ideologies."
from the front of the room, another student said that he was very interested to see how it would all turn out. just as colonialism had lead to conflict in the fifties and sixties, would this war lead to the crisis of tomorrow?
"i think that's an interesting point," said the professor. "and i'm going to have to disagree with [locdog] here." it was the first time in the entire class that i had heard the professor take direct issue with anything a student had said--and the students had said some pretty stupid things. you could even tell he thought so at times, but he was one of these young professors who'd try to spin what you said around into something that the book taught just so he wouldn't have to disagree with you.
but of course he is disagreeing, i thought. he stood there nodding blithely as someone sneered at the slaughter of three thousand of his countrymen--the bourgeois pigs--but don't dare suggest that maybe the west might know something after all.
"because i think that this war is going to lead to future conflict," he continued. "we have terrorism because we've funded terror. we've kept the house of saud in power because they sell us cheap oil. now they're our enemies? the world has 230-some countries right now, and the united states has troops in about 140 of them." he paused a long time for dramatic effect. "the tighter we close our fist on the globe, the more likely we make it that one lone man with a suitcase nuke will attack one of our cities. sooner or later, we'll have to find another solution."
i raised my hand again.
"if i may, i think that we may have found part of that solution in iraq. i agree with you completely about the saudis, but before we got rid of saddam hussein, what other option did we have? realistically, where else were we going to buy our oil from? we're finally in a position where we don't have to back down to the saudis because we can buy oil from a liberal democracy."
"what liberal democracy is that," the prof asked incredulously.
"the one we are trying to create in iraq. there's trouble over there, sure, but iranian agents are mostly behind it because iran is looking like it could turn revolutionary any day now. the last thing they need is a democracy right next door. we can finally fight terror--really fight terror--because we no longer have to send our oil dollars to saudi arabia."
"well," he said somberly "i think that if we are going to fight a war on terrorism, then we need to stop funding terror." it was clear from his tone that he wasn't talking about anything as indirect as buying our oil from the saudis.
as i walked back to my car after the lecture, i wrestled with a lingering question that had plagued me throughout the course of the class: why had we won? sure europeans had exploited the peoples of asia, africa, south america, and the middle east. but if our culture is so bankrupt, how could we have done it? how come we had the biggest, fastest ships? how come we had the cannon and the musket? how come we had the navigational equipment or the superior military tactics or the science of metallurgy? some would say that we stole those advances from the cultures we raped, others would say it was geography, others still that it was plain dumb luck. to me, any way you slice it, the bottom line was that europe was stronger than everyone else, and, through america, that remains true to this day. you cannot exploit someone who is not weaker than you.
and why were we stronger? because our civilization was superior--is superior. liberal democracy, capitalism, industrialization, all of these supposed evils worked. they produced powerful, wealthy societies. a hundred years ago, a good imperialist would have stood and cheered at this point, but the problem with the imperialists was that there weren't any of them good. they used their strength for evil purposes. they used their wisdom and power to harm their fellow man rather than to elevate him. imperialism was hypocrisy--infinite hypocrisy--but that doesn't mean that its premise, the notion of cultural supremacy, was wrong. humanity had learned that there really is a best way of running a society just as there really is a best way of running a machine. western dominance proves this.
the overall lesson of the class had been that our ideology was wrong, but i believe that its application had been wrong. and i believe that, in iraq and afghanistan, we are seeing the first signs of its correct usage. if we can successfully encourage an internal revolt in iran, if we can instate an independent palestinian homeland under freely elected rule, then we may see democracy do in a few scant years what half a century of bureaucratic meddling could not. my professor didn't seem to feel that the sins of stalin or pol pot discredited communism--at least, i assume he didn't since he never bothered to mention them, or the fact that communism had killed more people in the last century than hitler and george w. bush combined--why then should the sins of a few bourgeois democrats discredit capitalist democracy? it's a better system than anything currently going. it just needs to be used correctly.
locdog doesn't see a clash of civilizations as much as he sees the same civilization at two different points in its development
update: fellow Christian blogger josh claybourn drops by for a visit (where ya been, josh?) then adds a few thoughts of his own. great stuff, as always.
poverty and the Bible
well, i'm back from vacation a changed man: older, wiser, and tanner than before.
shortly before i left, i'd posted something on the democratic response to bush's tax cut, specifically, how they were disingenuously bemoaning the lack of tax relief for the so-called "working poor" --a group which generally pays no taxes and frequently makes money off of the government through the "earned income tax credit." in the course of that post, i remarked, in essence, that this class was lazy and that they'd squander whatever additional welfare the government gave them on fast food and nascar-related merchandise. that was something of an exaggeration, i'll admit, but there was a lot more truth in it than your typical class warrior would like to admit. take, for instance, comrade denton, a respondent who read my post as nothing less than a renunciation of the Christian faith:
The one thing I really cannot understand about you is your persistent thinking that the poor are all drug-addled, lazy, sub-human scum that have earned their place in the world. Having grown up in a relatively poor area of the country, I have to admit that I find your vision of a Horatio Alger/Ayn Rand paradise where no one who deserves to be poor is very inconsistent with the reality. In fact, some of your ideas seem to resemble those of the Emperor Tiberius more than those of the Son of God you follow.
i'm not exactly sure what constitutes a "relatively poor" area of america, but i'll tell you flat out that a "relatively poor" american enjoys a better standard of living than did most ancient kings, and still beats out probably 80% of the people alive today. for most of human history--and for much of the world still today--being "poor" meant living in a dirt-floor hovel constructed of whatever bits of refuse you managed to scrape together. it meant the lack of indoor plumbing, electricity, internal combustion engines, or cable television--which i have personally installed in inner-city, section 8 housing and rural shacks that didn't even have front doors or sufficient clothing for their 18 children. it meant dying in your forties from malnutrition or dysentery, not dying in your forties from a massive coronary owing to one's penchant for hostess snack cakes and greasy fries. it meant, in short, famine, pestilence, and death. it occurs to me now that i grew up in a "relatively poor" section of america--there were families in my town who had subsided quite nicely on welfare for four generations. four generations of air conditioning, telephones, motorized transportation, clothing, food, and shelter.
to briefly summarize my feelings on the matter, if you are born into american poverty then you are one of the luckiest human beings who ever lived, and if you die in american poverty then you have only yourself to blame.
so what does the Bible have to say for these, the "working poor"? actually, i'm not sure. i can't seem to find them in the pages of Scripture. i see an awful lot about "sluggards"--none of it very good, not very good at all. and i see an awful lot about widows and orphans, the oppressed, the fatherless, the lame, the blind. but nothing about the "working poor." seems back then, everyone who had to work was poor, so the concept had no meaning. and if you couldn't work, that is, you were physically incapable of working, you starved--hence Jesus' frequent exhortations to charitable acts. if someone could work, but did not, he was either one of the aforementioned "sluggards" or he was a criminal. one of these groups is promised a swift, violent end, the other a more protracted one, but the two roads eventually converged. as to welfare, the whole concept of modern welfare is something so alien to the Bible, and humanity in general, that i can find nothing on it, save this:
"if any would not work, neither should he eat."
although what isn't fair is for me to pretend that people collecting on work they didn't do is a new phenomenon. it isn't. to be perfectly truthful, it's quite common in the annals of history. all you need is some feudal lord with a big plot of land, a couple hundred peasants to farm it, and a few soldiers to enforce taxation. there you go. welfare.
locdog is all for showing compassion where compassion is due