April 27, 2015 4 Comments
The view from the Prairie, with an emphasis on Energy
April 21, 2015 13 Comments
Exactly two years after President Obama’s bid for gun control following the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting died in Congress, a new poll has discovered a huge shift in public opinion to backing Second Amendment gun rights and away from controlling gun ownership.
The reason: Americans now believe having a gun is the best way to protect against crime, 63 percent to 30 percent.
Pew Research Center found that while support for gun control once reached 66 percent, it has dropped to 46 percent while support for gun rights has jumped 52 percent, the highest ever in the past 25 years.
“We are at a moment when most Americans believe crime rates are rising and when most believe gun ownership – not gun control – makes people safer,” said the survey.
I said above that I don’t find it particularly surprising. That’s because I don’t think Pew got the cause completely right. probably because of the news coverage we get, some of do think crime is up, and it is, in some locations, like, say Chicago. But I think there is more to it.
Most of you know that I have family on the east coast, and they are fairly normal for the area, compared to me, you’d likely call them liberal, some, at least, voted for Obama, at least once. But when I was back there at Christmas, one of my nieces, who lives in a somewhat isolated area, commented that she was considering getting a gun. I was surprised, although not shocked. Like all my family she has a big dose of reality based thinking in her, and knows that women living alone are vulnerable.
My only advice to her is what it always is, “Make sure first that you are willing to use it, otherwise you are simply giving someone a weapon to use on you. And practice!”
But I don’ think this is driven by crime, at least in the normal sense. I think a large part of this is driven by the administration. Obama has made governance in this country a continual constitutional crisis. His disengagement with many of the American norms of government (even if for most, they are merely lip service), has made much of the citizenry uneasy, and unseemly trends in the surveillance state, and the militarization of police departments has added to the mix.
On an objective basis, many of these things can have a case made for them, but coming one after another, it is distressing, and the obvious unwillingness of the Department of Justice to enforce the law on an objective basis (remember the Black panthers in Philadelphia back in 2009?) has made it worse, far worse.
In large measure then, I don’t think the country is arming itself against crime so much, as it is arming itself against a rogue government, in defense of our freedom. That is, of course, the real purpose of the second amendment, not to protect hunting, or to fight crime, but to stop tyranny in its tracks.
And it appears to be working.
I also find it interesting that politics is changing as well. if one were to look at American governance outside of Washington, one would find it to be more conservative than it has been since 1928. so perhaps what we are seeing, is the return of that peculiarly American individualism and self-reliance, and the beginning of the break up of the nanny state.
Well, one can hope, anyway :)
April 10, 2015 12 Comments
Archbishop Cranmer yesterday shared his thoughts about the British Trident, and they’re apropos for us as Americans as well. Trident is, of course, the British submarine based nuclear deterrent force, comparable in most respects to the US Strategic Command. The British were the world’s second nuclear armed power, because of their contribution (a huge one) to the Manhattan Project, and they have, as always, been steadfast in their duty.
I doubt I’m the only one who remembers with gratitude the sight of the American strategic forces at RAF Greenham Common guarded by the RAF regiment from the Moscow inspired Greens of the CND.
But that was then and now is now. The old Soviet Union is gone, although it does seem to be stirring somewhat like a phoenix, and its nukes still exist as do China’s, Pakistan’s and North Korea’s. Nor does it lo0k improbable that Iran, and perhaps others in the Middle East will develop nuclear weapons, and some may not be as rational.
Here is some of what His Grace had to say:
Trident is the price we pay not only for peace and national security, but for the contribution Britain makes to the security of the world. Our seat on the UN Security Council is contingent on our nuclear potency, which the SNP may not care very much about, but they will if President Putin keeps making incursions into Scottish airspace.
And it’s not only Russia: there’s also North Korea, and President Obama has just gifted the eschatological ayatollahs of Iran the means of ushering in the Mahdi and wiping Israel off the map. There is denial that this deal will do anything of the sort. But an assurance that Iran will open up their nuclear programme to inspection and not make a bomb for 10-13 years is no assurance of anything at all. When you believe you have a prophetic role to play in ushering in the End Times and the Second Coming of Isa, a decade-long delay is as a few minutes in the quest to reestablish Allah’s kingdom of righteousness.
There is no ‘Christian’ approach to nuclear deterrence: Jesus would no more bless a Trident submarine than He would a fruitless fig tree. And it’s hard to square a nuclear bomb with the Just War theory on the grounds of proportionality alone, let alone the collateral incineration of civilians. There is no jus post bellum after a nuclear strike: you’re dealing with the fallout (quite literally) for decades if not centuries.
But Jesus said, ‘Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God.’ And Trident helped to establish international treaties of concord throughout the Cold War era, even if that peace was sometimes hot. How would a nuclear-free Scotland defend herself against a nuclear aggressor?
Keep reading Archbishop Cranmer.
And that’s the point, isn’t it? These ugly weapons, always restricted for ‘no first use’, that no one ever wants to use, have kept the peace in Europe, for 70 years, courtesy of the United Kingdom and the United States. These two great maritime powers have taken the doctrines that allowed them to first make and then protect the modern world and turned them into a doctrine that has allowed them to keep the peace worldwide, for nearly 70 years.
It has been hugely expensive for both countries both fiscally and psychically. It is a power no rational man would desire, the ability to end life on Earth, and yet our countries have done so, and kept the peace.
It was no joke when back in the 1940s the USAF Strategic Air Command took as its motto:
For truly these warriors, some of the best in the United States and the United Kingdom are indeed the peacekeepers. To them every person in the world owes their life, and such freedom as they have, or even hope for.
As Cranmer said above:
But Jesus said, ‘Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God.’
April 9, 2015 2 Comments
In recent days we have looked at various things, The War Against Academic Freedom, The New Intolerance, the likely outcome of forcing Americans to do much of anything, and today we’re going to look at the intolerance shown in the opposition to the RFRA in Indiana. We’ll start that with some background provided by Richard A. Epstein writing for The Hoover Institution.
Our country is in the midst of a heated and corrosive debate over what protections the law should afford to religious liberties. The matter reached its boiling point on March 17 when Indiana passed a now amendedReligious Freedom Restoration Act that was, with significant variations, patterned on the federal 1993 Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA). Hard as it is to remember, the federal RFRA represented an overwhelming bipartisan rejection of Justice Scalia’s 1990 decision in Employment Division v. Smith, which stood for the proposition that “the right of free exercise does not relieve an individual of the obligation to comply with a valid and neutral law of general applicability on the ground that the law proscribes (or prescribes) conduct that his religion prescribes (or proscribes).’”
Having enunciated that broad principle, Justice Scalia then upheld Oregon’s decision to deny unemployment benefits to Alfred Smith, a member of the Native American Church, because he was fired for having ingested peyote, a banned substance, as part of his religious rituals. Under Scalia’s iron logic, the disparate impact of this law on Smith did not require Oregon to make any accommodation for his religious beliefs. The denial of unemployment benefits here was collateral damage, given that Oregon did not initiate criminal proceedings against him, as it might have done if he had ingested peyote for recreational use.
Justice Scalia’s dangerously broad neutrality proposition prompted massive disapproval at the time because of the potential breadth of its application. Under that rule, the United States could draft Jews or Muslims into the military and force them to eat pork. After all, they have the choice to go hungry in order to not violate their religious convictions. It could also require commercial Kosher butchers to slaughter meat in accordance with federal health laws inconsistent with kosher rituals.
RFRA’s response established that the United States could not “substantially burden” the religious liberties of any person unless it could show a compelling state interest for the law that caused the burden, and even then it had to pick the least restrictive means to achieve its narrowly-defined public interest. During the more than twenty years that the federal RFRA has been in operation, it has provoked relatively little litigation on provision of services issues, and courts have never read it as a blanket license to discriminate. For the most part the application of the law dealt with matters of faith and religion.
Continue reading The War Against Religious Liberty | Hoover Institution.
That’s about as good on the background as I’ve seen. Mark Bauerlein writing on First Things has something to say on religious liberty as well
[I]n Public Discourse this week is a forthright statement of religious liberty signed by five distinguished figures. It’s a point that needs to be made again and again.
Religious liberty is the first freedom. It is one of the “moral roots” of our “constitutional system.” It is every American’s “birthright.” Without it, “civic harmony” is endangered.
And yet, a circumstance in our country today makes arguments for religious liberty alone inadequate. The statement acknowledges it in the third paragraph:
In recent days we have heard claims that a belief central to Judaism, Christianity, and Islam—that we are created male and female, and that marriage unites these two basic expressions of humanity in a unique covenant—amounts to a form of bigotry.
That’s the crux of the matter. Religious conservatives demand religious liberty, while liberals, progressives, and libertarians demand that discrimination stop. In this set-up, which the media blast daily, conservatives don’t defend their beliefs. They only defend their right to exercise those beliefs. The charge of bigotry stands.
Keep reading: RELIGIOUS LIBERTY IS A REARGUARD POSITION.
Ben Johnson writing on Life Site News tells us that
A New York Times columnist and a corporate leader have agreed that Christian churches “must” be convinced, or coerced, to change their teachings on sexual morality and abandon an “ossified” doctrinal teaching that sex outside heterosexual marriage is immoral.
Frank Bruni wrote that traditional Christianity – whether among evangelicals, Catholics, or Orthodox – provides the greatest resistance to normalizing homosexuality in the United States in a recent column in the New York Times.
“Homosexuality and Christianity don’t have to be in conflict in any church anywhere,” Bruni insisted. “The continued view of gays, lesbians and bisexuals as sinners is a decision. It’s a choice. It prioritizes scattered passages of ancient texts over all that has been learned since — as if time had stood still, as if the advances of science and knowledge meant nothing.”
Bruni quoted furniture tycoon Mitchell Gold, who has used his millions to found a liberal pressure group Faith in America, writing that Gold believes Christian churches “must be made ‘to take homosexuality off the sin list.’”
Now remember that there is a difference, especially in the United States, between what is legal in the civil realm. Frankly, i can see little justification for banning SSM there, although I do think it should be confined two natural persons, which is a better firebreak. It is different in any church built upon Christ’s teaching, (or Mohammed’s, for that matter) that is very clear. But that does not give us the right to coerce others, but it does give us the right to say who is a member in good standing of our congregations. We are covenantal organizations, when you join, you promise to obey (or at least try to obey) the teachings of the Church. If we do not have that right, the church itself has no meaning. And that is, I believe, the objective.
In many ways what we are seeing is a multi-pronged full on assault on freedom and liberty (yes, political correctness is part of this, it sets the allowable terms to be used, If you obey, you lose).
Why now? I think, with the best President they’ve ever had foundering in scandal, and ineffectiveness worse than anyone since Wilson himself after World War I, they have grown desperate because America is more conservative today than it has been since about 1928.
They have to win now, or they will be set back at least another 50 years, and so they are trying to make ha while the sun shines. If we stick with it now, I think we have a historic opportunity to roll back the nanny state, and increase freedom.
So cheer up and keep your powder dry, the kleptocracy is losing again, for at least another generation. Will America be as it was before? Nope it’ll be different, it always is, and likely it’ll be still better. because as always it will be:
Because, amongst other reasons, as Maggie Thatcher said:
“Europe was created by history. America was created by philosophy.”
April 7, 2015 5 Comments
Rick Wilson wrote an article the other day on The Federalist that caught my attention, and deserves yours, as well.
I try to stay off Twitter on April first. The jokes are rarely as good as their authors think, which is why the Internet Rage Machine attack unleashed on the Memories Pizza parlor in Indiana couldn’t have happened on a worse day. This had to be a joke, right?
Sadly, it wasn’t. It was a custom-made moral panic story perfectly tuned to stroke the egos and ideological erogenous zones of Washington and New York’s media classes. It was a perfect opportunity to play their Red State Haters narrative at full volume. Of course, we’re locked in the Stupid Spiral now, talking about this instead of the news of a Democratic U.S. senator being indicted for corruption or of Hillary Clinton destroying evidence under subpoena, or of Barack Obama willing to sell his soul for a bad nuclear deal with a gleeful Iran.
Custom made is one of the operative phrases here. The situation that the owner was asked about had never happened, and likely never would have. Long ago when I lived in Indiana, I spent a certain amount of time in Walkerton. It was another small town much like millions of others scattered across the heartland of America, quiet, unassuming, a great place to live and raise a family, mostly Christians, more or less. In fact, it could just as well been the town in Nebraska I live in now.
And so this little girl reporter from the ‘big city’ (if South Bend counts) strolls into a pizzeria and asked a stupid question. Not least is it stupid because how many wedding receptions, of any kind, are held at a pizzeria, anyway? The owner, likely an open and forthright Christian man said he’d likely have a problem with a gay wedding reception. Well, I don’t have much trouble seeing his point, and it’s not even necessarily about SSM, either.
I doubt there is a business in America that hasn’t turned away business for one reason or another. I surely have, for me it’s often that I don’t have time for your silly requirements, or you can’t understand why I won’t violate code, or I simply don’t think you’ll pay. Usually I’ll simply say I’m too busy and let it go. I need customers but I don’t need any given customer, and life too short to knowingly take on trouble that you can avoid. And getting in the middle of SSM for no good reason is nothing but trouble.
And so, back to Rick:
As with immigration, race, abortion, guns, income inequality, and a host of other topics, I’m reminded that gay marriage and religious liberty questions will never be resolved in the eyes of liberals. A large segment of the Left wants their vote-driver issues to never, ever be in the rear-view. There is no shining city ahead for them, just an endless arena of raw, almost inchoate rage and complaint. Their entire model is predicated on the creation and maintenance of grievance demographics, and the latest flavor is the hypothetical oppression of gay couples in contrived scenarios in tiny Indiana pizza shops. Oh, this one will fade soon, but the sense that these fights are getting louder, and uglier, is troubling.
And that’s a goodly portion of the trouble, isn’t it? It’s become an endless skirmish, they can’t be satisfied. In truth, they don’t give a damn, it’s simply a means to get votes, and the devil take the hindmost. They can’t really be against anything because they’re not for anything really, except being in power, and that ain’t a noble cause.
In the government/civil area, I personally have little problem with SSM, I simply don’t believe it’s any of the government’s business. As a Christian, it does rather strongly conflict with my beliefs but that doesn’t give me the right to impose my beliefs on others, nor does it give them the right to impose their’s on me, or for that matter my church.
But in a very real way, that’s all prologue:
At some point, the social-justice warrior crowd is going to incite their people into something more than Ferguson or Occupy or Internet harassment. At some point, their fanatic desire to erase God from the hearts and minds and actions of red America will cross a threshold. Someday, in some town, a Christian shopkeeper who becomes the focus of the 4chan or Reddit Rage Machine will be killed by some militant atheist or black bloc kid or some other flavor of crazy. That day, their rage won’t come from the click of a mouse, but from the barrel of a gun.
And that is the day that America as we knew her ends. Because while the left continues to think it’s all about votes and elections and power, for much of the Red States it’s not. It’s about freedom and liberty and the rights of the individual, and what our forefathers built. It’s the closest thing to an established religion there is in America, and if that line is crossed, all those hundreds of millions of weapons come out, and the argument is over, and the war is on.
The funny thing is that while the left doesn’t know it, it’s the same war that the Barons fought at Runnymede 800 years ago this month, it’s the same war as the English Civil War, it’s the Glorious Revolution, the American Revolution and it’s the American Civil War. It’s the war of the people against the government and its prerogative power. And it’s also the war between good and evil, and the people who recognize the difference and the time servers who ‘go along to get along’. It’ll be terrible because many of us know that anything worth living for is also worth dying for.
And the king with all of his horses and all of his men doesn’t have a chance but, America will for a time become a bloody shambles, and so will the world, because without American leadership it’ll all stop.
Long ago Thomas Jefferson said:
That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.
He also said this:
The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants.
One prays that time has not come again but, if it has, it has.
None of this is inevitable or likely even probable. But I think the left has become like children playing with matches in the powder magazine, and it is worrying.
What must be done will be done.
April 2, 2015 4 Comments
I suppose I should write a bit about the furore in Indiana and Arkansas about their state Religious Freedom Restoration Act. The whole mass is distasteful, grotesque, reminiscent of fascism and several other -ism’s, not to mention despicable. But rather than tell you all about it, I’m simply going to give you a few excerpts of what others are saying.
David Harsanyi writing in The Federalist reminds us that Republicans have undergone a spinectomy.
As always it’s up to us, The People.
Kevin D. Williamson at National Review reminds us that there is he War on the Private Mind, In Indiana, in Arkansas, and in the boardroom.
Read more at: War on the Private Mind.
The Anchoress compares the mess in Indiana (correctly, I think) to Kristallnacht. She thinks saner voices may prevail. I pray she’s right.
Deacon Greg Kandra adds some detail to that in Great moments in journalism: TV station fabricates a controversy, destroys local business. Business as usual for the4 media these days, sadly. Not quite what the Founders had in mind but, what you often get in the neighborhood of one of the great pseudo-Catholic institutions Notre Dame University.
So the news is pretty distasteful this Maundy Thursday, and Holy Week, in fact but, The Newman Lectures remind us that it’s nothing new. From Keble:
“DARK FROWNED THE FUTURE E’EN ON HIM, THE LOVING AND BELOVÈD”
“O Holy mountain of my God,
How do thy towers in ruin lie,
How art thou riven and strewn abroad,
Under the rude and wasteful sky!”
’Twas thus upon his fasting-day
The “Man of Loves” was fain to pray,
His lattice open toward his darling west,
Mourning the ruined home he still must love the best.
Oh! for a love like Daniel’s now,
To wing to Heaven but one strong prayer
For God’s new Israel, sunk as low,
Yet flourishing to sight as fair,
As Sion in her height of pride,
With queens for handmaids at her side,
With kings her nursing-fathers, thronèd high,
And compassed with the world’s too tempting blazonry.
’Tis true, nor winter stays thy growth,
Nor torrid summer’s sickly smile;
The flashing billows of the south
Break not upon so lone an isle,
But thou, rich vine, art grafted there,
The fruit of death or life to bear,
Yielding a surer witness every day,
To thine Almighty Author and His steadfast sway.
Oh! grief to think, that grapes of gall
Should cluster round thine healthiest shoot!
God’s herald prove a heartless thrall,
Who, if he dared, would fain be mute!
E’en such is this bad world we see,
Which self-condemned in owning Thee,
Yet dares not open farewell of Thee take,
For very pride, and her high-boasted Reason’s sake.
What do we then? if far and wide
Men kneel to Christ, the pure and meek,
Yet rage with passion, swell with pride,
Have we not still our faith to seek?
Nay—but in steadfast humbleness
Kneel on to Him, who loves to bless
The prayer that waits for him; and trembling strive
To keep the lingering flame in thine own breast alive.
Dark frowned the future e’en on him,
The loving and belovèd Seer,
What time he saw, through shadows dim,
The boundary of th’ eternal year;
He only of the sons of men
Named to be heir of glory then.
Else had it bruised too sore his tender heart
To see God’s ransomed world in wrath and flame depart
Then look no more: or closer watch
Thy course in Earth’s bewildering ways,
For every glimpse thine eye can catch
Of what shall be in those dread days:
So when th’ Archangel’s word is spoken,
And Death’s deep trance for ever broken,
In mercy thou mayst feel the heavenly hand,
And in thy lot unharmed before thy Saviour stand.