Wednesday, November 26, 2008

The Perfect Thanksgiving

By Erick D. Snider (link)

A Conservative's Guide to the Perfect Thanksgiving

Pause and reflect on the first Thanksgiving, way back in 1621. The savage Indians, tragically unacquainted with God, were so grateful to the Pilgrims for bringing them the light that they prepared a feast for them. In return, the Pilgrims taught the Indians to abandon their primitive ways and embrace Christianity. And thanks to those early settlers converting or killing everyone who opposed them, America has been a Christian nation ever since!

A Liberal's Guide to the Perfect Thanksgiving

Be sure to pause for a moment and reflect on the first Thanksgiving, when America's legacy of arrogance and aggression was just beginning. Unbidden and unwelcome, our forefathers took food from passive Native Americans whose tribes had existed in complete peace and harmony for hundreds of years without a single inter-tribal conflict. In return, we introduced them to guns, deprivation, and death.

I wish I had written this. Click the above link for the complete article. It is very clever.
Happy Thanksgiving!

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Trade versus Protectionism

Walter E. Williams, Wednesday, November 26, 2008

There's a growing anti-trade sentiment in our country. Much of the dialogue is grossly misinformed. Let's try to untangle it a bit with a few questions and observations. (link)

Since the economic downturn I also have observed the growing protectionist sentiment. Even among people who I suspect are normally conservative you hear comments about how we need to "buy American" and "stop sending jobs overseas."

Last week I attended a screening of a documentary, I.O.U.S.A. This film addressed the problem of the enormous debt burden of the US government as well as American households. About 150 people or so attended the event. Following the film there was a lively discussion that lasted about forty-five minutes. The solution offered by several participants was to buy American made products. Some, went as far as to suggest we should buy locally produced products whenever possible. Not just "buy American" but "buy Tennessee." I fear that as this economic downturn continues that we could see protectionism take on a patriotic fervor. A resort to protectionism will grantee that the current economic difficulties become a world-wide, long-lasting depression.

Protectionism is the worse possible response to the current crisis. I hope rational thought will prevail and the new administration and Congress does not give in to the rising demand for protectionist policies.

This is a good article by Walter Williams. Please read it. One argument he makes is that contrary to popular opinion, we are not losing our manufacturing base. We just make different stuff and it takes fewer people to make it. Manufacturing output is actually growing. People seem to know this in agriculture. It takes a lot fewer farm workers to produce the food we need and markets adjust, yet many people seem to think that they should be entitled to the same manufacturing jobs that their daddy had.

One argument you often here is the demand for retaliatory trade barriers. This is often the disguised as a call for "Fair Trade." Williams makes this argument:

Japanese protectionist restrictions on rice imports force Japanese consumers to
pay three or four times the world price for rice. How much sense does it make
for Congress to retaliate against Japan by imposing restrictions on their
products thereby forcing American consumers, say Lexus buyers, to pay higher
prices? Should our rule be: If one country screws its citizens we should
retaliate by screwing our citizens?
Bad times can bring out the worst in people and people often look for scapegoats. When you combine this impulse to look for places to lay the blame combined with economic ignorance, we may see a demand from the people for the government to really screw us and adopt policies that will grantee this crisis last a long, long time. I hope our representatives are a lot smarter than the people they represent.

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Sunday, November 23, 2008

The God problem

Call them “values voters” or “social conservatives” or “the Christian right” or whatever term may you may wish to use to refer to them, but I believe that that faction of the Republican Party is becoming a drag on the party and it is time their influence was lessened.

Ever since about 1979 when Jerry Falwell founded the Moral Majority, the religious right has been an important segment of the Republican Party. The party’s victories for the last thirty years would likely not have occurred without this faction. They consistently vote, contribute and volunteer. But, I now suspect that they drive more people away than they attract. The identity of the Republican Party as the party of prudes and religious fanatics is harming the party.

Now don’t get me wrong. I oppose gay marriage, I would like to see abortion restricted, and I respect tradition; so I guess to a certain extend, that makes me a “values voters” also. However, I am just not comfortable with a lot of the religious right. I do not want creationism taught as science. I think if science can be advanced by stem cell research using embryos that are to be discarded anyway, then we should do it. While I want my local schools to acknowledge Christmas and I think it is OK if a Christmas carol is sang at school or played by a high school marching band, I think we should try to keep Christmas primarily secular in the public square and not use it as a government sponsored opportunity to proselytize.

It is more than a disagreement over specific issues that make me uncomfortable with the religious right. I am just not comfortable with people who think God is on their side. I am OK with people who talk to God; people that God talks to concern me.

The religious right often appears angry, judgmental, intolerant, and self-righteous. Also, I fear that if they had their way they would like to do more than they now do to impose their morality. I suspect that they would drape all the art that featured the nude human form, they would mandate modesty, make all TV safe for their nine year-olds to watch, lock up homosexuals, ban co-habitation of unmarried people, close stores on Sunday, and ban the sale of alcohol. I bet most of those people who pressure politicians to “clean up the city” are religious Republicans.

Also, the religious right folks are just not a lot of fun. If I was a non-political young person and could attend either the Republican Convention or the Democratic Convention, which one would I choose to attend? Somehow, I just think the Democrats would be a lot more fun.

On election night the Republicans unexpectantly won both houses of the Tennessee State legislature. At the Williamson County Republican Party election night party, those attending joined hands and had a prayer of thanksgiving. I would rather be at a party where victory calls for breaking out the Champaign.

I suspect that there are people who are, or would be, economic conservatives, and national defense conservatives, and moderate social conservatives but who are not Republicans. These are people who are essentially secular and cannot feel at home at a gathering dominated by people who take their religion so seriously. Face it, there are a lot more secularist and people who take their religion with a grain of salt than there are devout Christians. If the Republican Party becomes the Christian Party, we will loose.

I don’t like the blending of the sacred and the political. I would prefer to let the Church concern itself with man’s eternal soul and my political party concern itself with this world and the hear and now. Recently there has developed a modest movement of a more liberal branch of evangelical Christians. I think this is a welcome development. We should welcome the separating of religious faith from political affiliation. It will be good for the Party if evangelicals are not automatically assumed to be Republicans. If a Bible-believing, teetotaler, praying-in-tongues person might also be a Democrat that is a good thing.

Now the Democrats get all or the hedonist and the Republicans get all of the real Christians. Let some to the Bible-thumpers become Democrats. I will trade you one Christians liberal for two hedonists who want to cut taxes.

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Giving up on God

By Kathleen ParkerWednesday, The Washington Post, November 19, 2008; 12:00 AM

As Republicans sort out the reasons for their defeat, they likely will overlook or dismiss the gorilla in the pulpit.

Three little letters, great big problem: G-O-D. (link)

Comment: This is an important article on the future of the Republican Party. My commentary on the topic will follow.

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Courage Under Fire

I watch a lot of movies but only occasionally find one I like well enough to recommend. This is one. It is one of those movies that when it ended, I didn't want to immediately do anything else. I wanted to just sit and watch the final credits play and come down from the emotional ride and contemplate what I had just watched. The movie is both heartbreaking and exhilarating.

The final scene of the movie has Colonel Serling standing before the headstone of Captain Walden in Arlington Cemetery. In the voice of Captain Walden, the letter she wrote to her parents to be read if she died in battle is recited. This may bring a lump to your throat and a tear to your eye.

Below is a synopsis of the story provided by the Blockbuster website.

A soldier discovers how elusive the truth can be in this first major film about America's role in the Gulf War. Lt. Col. Nathaniel Serling (Denzel Washington) was the commander of a unit during Operation Desert Storm who mistakenly ordered the destruction of what he believed to be an enemy tank, only to discover that it actually held U.S. soldiers, including a close friend. Since then, Serling has been an emotional wreck, drinking heavily and allowing his marriage to teeter on the brink of collapse. As a means of redeeming himself, Serling is given a new assignment by his superior, Gen. Hershberg (Michael Moriarty). Capt. Karen Walden (Meg Ryan) was a helicopter pilot who died in battle during the Iraqi conflict, and the White House has proposed that Walden be posthumously awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor. Serling is asked to investigate Walden's actions on the field of battle, but he quickly discovers that no two stories about her are quite the same; Ilario (Matt Damon) says Walden acted heroically and sacrificed herself to save the others in her company, while Monfriez (Lou Diamond Phillps) claims she was a coward who was attempting to surrender to enemy troops. Meanwhile, reporter Tony Gartner (Scott Glenn) is hounding Serling, trying to get the inside story on Walden and on Serling's own difficulties. ~ Mark Deming, All Movie Guide

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