Thursday, September 29, 2005

The right to be crazy

From "The Scofflaw Swimmer" by Peggy Noonan from Opinion Journal

I think Katrina revealed something else: a change in the relation of the individual and those who would govern him.
David Brooks on "Meet the Press" Sunday said he thought Katrina had given rise to a greater public desire for "authority" and "order." I found what he was saying typically thoughtful, but I differ with him. That difference gives rise to this piece.

I don't think Americans are or have been, by nature, lovers of authority. When we think of the old America we think of house-raisings on the prairie and teeming cities full of immigrants, but a big part of the American nature can also be found in the story of Jeremiah Johnson, the mountain man who just wanted to live off by himself, unbothered and unmolested by people and their churches and clubs and rules. He didn't like authority. He wanted to be left alone.

We live in the age of emergency, however, and in that age we hunger for someone to take responsibility. Not authority, but a sense of "I'll lead you out of this." On 9/11 the firemen took responsibility: I will go into the fire. So did the mayor: This is how we'll get through, this is how we'll triumph.

In New Orleans, by one took responsibility, but there was plenty of authority. People in authority sent the lost to the Superdome and the Convention Center. People in authority blocked the bridges out of town. People in authority tried to confiscate guns after the looting was over.

And they did things like this: The day before hurricane Rita hit Texas, last Friday, I saw on TV something that disturbed me. It was not the usual scene of crashing waves and hardy reporters being blown sideways by wind gusts. It was a fat Texas guy swimming in the waves off Galveston. He'd apparently decided the high surf was a good thing to jump into, so he went for a prehurricane swim. Two cops saw him, waded into the surf and arrested him. When I saw it the guy was standing there in orange trunks being astonished as the cops put handcuffs on him and hauled him away.

I thought: Oh no, this is isn't good. This is authority, not responsibility.

You'd have to be crazy, in my judgment, to decide you were going to go swim in the ocean as a hurricane comes. But in the America where I grew up, you were allowed to be crazy. You had the right. Sometimes you were crazy and survived whatever you did. Sometimes you didn't, and afterwards everyone said, "He was crazy."

Last week I quoted Gerald Ford: "The government big enough to give you everything you want is big enough to take away everything you have." I was talking about money. But it applies also to personal freedom, to the rights of the individual, including his right to do something stupid as long as it's legal, like swimming.

Government has real duties in disaster. Maintaining the peace is a primary one. But if we demand that our government protect us from all the weather all the time, if we demand that it protect us from rain and hail, if we make government and politicians pay a terrible price for not getting us out of every flood zone and rescuing us from every wave, we're going to lose a lot more than we gain. If we give government all authority then we are giving them all power.

And we will not only lose the right to be crazy, we'll lose the right to be sane. A few weeks ago when, for a few days, some level of government, it isn't completely clear, decided no one should be allowed to live in New Orleans after the flood, law-enforcement officers went to the home of a man who had a dry house, a month's supply of food and water, and a gun to protect himself. The police demanded that he leave. Why? He was fine. He had everything he needed. The man was enraged: It was his decision, he said, and he was staying.

It is the government's job to warn and inform. That's what we have the National Weather Service for. It is not government's job to command and control and make microdecisions about the lives of people who want to do it their own way.

Governments always start out saying they're going to help, and always wind up pushing you around. They cannot help it. They say they want to help us live healthily and they mean it, but it ends with a guy in Queens getting arrested for trying to have a Marlboro Light with his Bud at the neighborhood bar. We're hauling the parents of obese children into court. The government has increasing authority over our health, and these children are not healthy. Smokers, the fat, drinkers of more than two drinks per night, insane swimmers in high seas . . .

We are losing the balance between the rights of the individual and the needs and demands of the state. Again, this is not new. It's a long slide that's been going on for a long time. But Katrina and Rita seemed to make the slide deeper.

It is hard for governments to be responsible, and take responsibility. It takes real talent, and guts. But authority? That's easier. Pass the law and get the cuffs.

Read the whole thing here.

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Truly stupid questions

When I was a kid in school, I would often hear teachers say, "There are no stupid questions." But I overheard a conversation at a department store last week that made me doubt the wisdom of that statement. Two girls were looking at shoes together, and the snippet I overheard was this:

"...what if everyone in the world jumped off a bridge, would you do it?" the first girl said.

"NO! I would not!" the second girl adamantly replied.

"No? Well, if everyone in the whole world jumped, they'd all be DEAD and you'd be all alone. Do you want to be all ALONE?" the first girl asked.

"No, but somebody else would have not jumped too," the second girl wisely said.

"NO! The question is IF THE WHOLE WORLD jumped off a bridge, the whole world!" the first girl shouted.

"I don't care. That's just a stupid question, anyway." the second girl said.

I wanted to cheer the second young lady for her courage and good sense. And I thought about what she said about it being a stupid question, and I realized my teachers were wrong. There are stupid questions, probably more of them than good questions. It is a tricky way to distort people's perceptions, and create a false dilemma, when there is none. If we say we believe that abortion kills a child, we are asked if we would prefer to have women dying in back alleys. If we say we think it is a good thing for mothers to stay at home and teach their children, we are asked if we think that women should be enslaved and oppressed by their husbands. If we say that we think that a war is just, we are asked if we enjoy seeing innocent people die. Satan loves to create and teach others to create such false dilemmas with these "stupid questions" where there is no real choice at all. How grateful I am that we all banded together to fight against Satan's plan to take away our choices, and that Christ's plan ensured that we could make our own choices freely.

Toward Soviet America

From "War on God Continues" by Steve Farrell at Meridian Magazine

In 1932, it was Communist Party USA founder, William Z. Foster, in his book, Toward Soviet America, who outlined “the elementary measures the American Soviet government will adopt to further the cultural revolution.”

His target: America’s schools. His strategy:

[S]tudies will be revolutionized, being cleansed of religious, patriotic and other features of the bourgeois ideology. The students will be taught on the basis of Marxian dialectical materialism, internationalism and the general ethics of the new Socialist society. Present obsolete methods of teaching will be superseded by a scientific pedagogy.
Recall, if you will, Communist Founder Karl Marx bragged that he and his fellow communists would “Abolish the family!” Why? Because the traditional family was the transmission belt of Christian and Capitalist values. Plain and simple. The traditional family had to go — and with it, home schools, private schools, and old-styled public schools (where parents were the employers, the curriculum chiefs, the bosses over the neighborhood school).

The bourgeois claptrap about the family and education, about the hallowed co-relation of parent and child … [is] disgusting,” Marx wrote. His plan? “We destroy the most hallowed of relations when we replace home education with social.”

Very interesting to note that Marx realized and spoke so openly that to replace home education with socializing education would "destroy the most hallowed of relations"! How blindly we are walking this path to the destruction of our society.

Read the whole thing here.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Protecting the Family

If you haven't heard of United Families International, you may not know of the wonderful work that they are doing in behalf of all families and the world, but I have been quite touched by the compassion and courage that the president of UFI, Sharon Slater, has shown in her work and in her writings at Meridian Magazine (here's a sample). I received an email today from UFI, asking for help in "spreading the word" and since I believe very much in the importance of the work they do, I felt impressed to post a link to them in hopes that others might become aware and maybe also lend their support.

From the UFI website(emphasis mine!):

United Families International is fighting to protect the family and family values on many fronts. One of those is in the international arena, where much of our effort is trying to prevent harmful actions by various United Nations agencies and activities.

In some cases, these are major, high profile confrontations. In others, however, our work is largely behind the scenes. I am contacting you about one of these less publicized but still significant efforts, trying to stop the US government from funding the harmful activities of a small UN agency, the United Nation's Fund for Population Activities (UNFPA).

Among other things, UNFPA has been implicated in supporting forced abortions and forced sterilizations in China, a country notorious for inflicting these atrocities on huge numbers of women and unborn children each year. In fact just last week Time magazine reported that in the city of Shangdong 7,000 people had been sterilized against their will.

A few years ago UFI uncovered sexually-explicit UNFPA "sex education manuals" targeting children in developing countries around the world. These manuals are designed to sexualize young children.

And if this is not bad enough UFI has also documented UNFPA materials intended to undermine the religious and socio-cultural values of families in third world countries by teaching children that homosexuality and bisexuality are normal and widespread, that viewing pornography is acceptable, that children have "sexual rights" and that "gender" is merely a social construct, not what someone is born as.

If you are interested in more details, we have posted on our Web site the memo United Families has used to stop this funding in previous years, but I think this brief summary gives you the idea of how bad this material and UNFPA's programs are.

UFI uncovered UNFPA's harmful sex education activities around the world several years ago and we have taken the lead in actively opposing U.S. support for this agency. This year Congress once again appropriated $34 million for UNFPA, but gave President Bush the option of not spending the money. He has again used this authority and withheld funding for UNFPA.

The Bush Administration's announcement that they would not be funding UNFPA once again has set off a flood of criticism of the President here in the U.S. and around the world. Liberal nations and special interest groups bent on promoting abortion and sexualizing children to advance their broader anti-family agenda are angry.

Pro-family Americans are contacting the President and expressing their appreciation and support for his courageous leadership.


President George Bush is being harshly criticized by anti-family forces in the U.S. and around the world because he has withheld U.S. funding for a UN agency, the United Nations Fund for Population Activities (UNFPA), which is causing great harm to women, children and families around the world. This is just the latest instance where the President has shown courageous leadership in the international arena on family issues.

However, too frequently pro-family activists do not thank policy makers like the President when they take responsible stands like this. We encourage you to show your appreciation and support of the President and his administration for their leadership. You can easily do this by sending President Bush, Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice and Under Secretary of State Nicholas Burns an e-mail by filling in the information

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

The Velvet Revolution

From "Velvet Revolutions and the Logic of Terrorism" by Frederick Turner at Tech Central Station via RealClearPolitics

Thirty years ago it looked as if the totalitarian state was solidly established, successful and immortal. Democratic capitalism had been stopped in its tracks. The nuclear-armed socialist dictatorship could not be attacked or defeated; it could at best be contained, and none of its incremental marginal conquests could be rolled back. Marvelously, however, a new strategy emerged, invented by the world's middle-class populations, that could bring down the totalitarian state: the velvet revolution. Totalitarian governments rely on elites to govern and control the people and defend themselves against outside ideas. Those elites must reproduce themselves, creating a property-owning educated class with great power but without the revolutionary ideology of their parents; and to remain economically viable the state must produce a skilled artisan class, like the shipbuilders of Gdansk, with the capacity to unionize. Out of these materials, generated by totalitarianism itself, comes the velvet revolution.

The velvet revolution (also named the orange revolution, the purple finger, the rose revolution, the cedar revolution) has swept the world. In different ways, nonviolent, non-ideological middle-class and skilled-worker mass movements have unseated tyrants and established democracies in an amazing range of countries: Spain, Portugal, Chile, Argentina, Poland, East Germany, Hungary, Romania, Bulgaria, Russia, Bangladesh, South Korea, Indonesia, the Baltic states, Mexico, Serbia, Albania, Georgia, the Ukraine, the Philippines, Lebanon, even Palestine, all fell to the regimes of popular sovereignty. China nearly fell in 1989, with the Tiananmen protest, and will become a democracy some time in the next twenty years. If there is one defining event that characterizes the end of twentieth century political modernism, it is this one.

The suicide bomb, with the mass terrorism it epitomizes, is the weapon of choice against the velvet revolution. The target is not, as well-meaning critics of terrorism say, indiscriminate: it is exact and precise. The target is any population that might organize a velvet revolution, the potential sovereigns of a democratic state. It is people who are not ideological, who are willing to let others believe what they want, who want to make a living and be independent, and who want a say in their government. Even in Israel, where it was the citizens of an already-established democratic state that were being attacked, the true target, as we are now coming to understand after the death of Arafat, was the nascent democracy of Palestine. By killing Jews, Arafat could continue to oppress and defraud Palestinians.

Global terrorism is not a revolution, but an attempt to suppress a revolution. What is being defended by suicide terror is not Islam, not traditional moral culture, not the ethnic nation yearning to be free of the colonial oppressor, but the principle of totalitarian rule -- the sovereignty of the dictator or the ayatollah, promoted as national self-identity and independence, or as the will of God. It is the last gasp, historically, of the ancient system by which the huge majority of human beings were ruled since the Neolithic agricultural revolution.

Read the whole thing here.

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Political correctness is result of the decay of Judaism and Christianity

From "Original American Sin" at The American Thinker by Jonathan David Carson, Ph.D. (via Jerry Scharf at Common Sense and Wonder)

This is just the the whole thing here.

Man is a religious animal. Only in modern secular society, which is in fact not all that secular, could one doubt that we have an overpowering religious impulse. We can either cooperate with this impulse or try in vain to suppress it. Thus, the ostensibly secular realm is propelled by transmuted religious energy and filled with parodies of Judaism and Christianity, one of which is political correctness. Their high priests have their Ten Trillion Commandments, their anathemas, and their grace. We have our five tithes and Lives of Obligation.

Religion has been blamed for most of the ills of the world and deserves much of the blame, but any good thing can be misused, and the best thing most of all. If religion is dangerous, however, it is most dangerous, not when it thrives, but when it dies. The rotten carcass of a religion is far more pestilential than the religion was when it was alive. Putrid hunks of doctrine infect the minds of those who have forgotten the doctrine when it was still vital. Political correctness is one result of the decay of Judaism and Christianity in the United States. Without their renewal, we will have to continue to endure the godless religion of political correctness.

Monday, September 12, 2005

Great Blog: My House has Many Mansions

I just found a wonderful new blog (ok, maybe it's not that new, but I've really been out of the blogging loop lately, sorry!) called My House has Many Mansions (The journey of one woman and her bicultural, interfaith LDS/Anthroposophic family as they move to Wuerzburg, Germany. She muses about faith, being the wife of a Waldorf teacher, life as an expat, motherhood, spousehood, and her novel in progress.) by K.D. Clement. I've read pretty much all she's written there, and it resonated so strongly with me it left me wondering if we aren't kindred spirits! ; Her occupation is listed as SAHM, Writer, Perpetual Student...which is very similar to mine! (Krista, I'm very glad you commented on my blog so I would be aware of yours!) Thanks so much! If you haven't yet done so, I would really heartily recommend a visit to this delightful blog!

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

We need to shore up our moral levees

Rebuilding New Orleans -- and America by Thomas Sowell via RealClearPolitics

The physical devastation caused by hurricane Katrina has painfully revealed the moral devastation of our times that has led to mass looting in New Orleans, assaults on people in shelters, the raping of girls, and shots being fired at helicopters that are trying to rescue people.


During good times or bad, the police cannot police everybody. They can at best control a small segment of society. The vast majority of people have to control themselves.

That is where the great moral traditions of a society come in -- those moral traditions that it is so hip to sneer at, so cute to violate, and that our very schools undermine among the young, telling them that they have to evolve their own standards, rather than following what old fuddy duddies like their parents tell them.

Now we see what those do-it-yourself standards amount to in the ugliness and anarchy of New Orleans.

In a world where people flaunt their "independence," their "right" to disregard moral authority, and sometimes legal authority as well, the tragedy of New Orleans reminds us how utterly dependent each one of us is for our very lives on millions of other people we don't even see.

Thousands of people in New Orleans will be saved because millions of other people they don't even know are moved by moral obligations to come to their rescue from all corners of this country. The things our clever sophisticates sneer at are ultimately all that stand between any of us and utter devastation.

Any of us could have been in New Orleans. And what could we have depended on to save us? Situational ethics? Postmodern philosophy? The media? The lawyers? The rhetoric of the intelligentsia?

No, what we would have to depend on are the very things that are going to save the survivors of hurricane Katrina, the very things that clever people are undermining.

New Orleans can be rebuilt and the levees around it shored up. But can the moral levees be shored up, not only in New Orleans but across America?

Read the whole thing here.
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