Friday, April 03, 2009

A Comment On The Limitations of Electoral Politics

For exaltation comes neither from the east
Nor from the west nor from the south.
But God is the Judge:
He puts down one,
And exalts another.

-- Psalm 75:6-7

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

A Fair Tax [Penalty] Indeed

File under "Goose, Sauce For": N.C. Rep. Jerry Dockham (R-Davidson) has filed the "Geithner Tax Fairness for N.C. Citizens Act":


(House Bill 941)

Friday, March 06, 2009

Sports: Does The Punishment Fit The Crime?

A bill submitted by a Duplin County Democrat would bar failing schools from participating in interscholastic sports. While the role of athletics and other extracurriculars may be debateable -- the John Locke Foundation's Karen Palasek has addressed this before)-- the cost or appropriateness of high school athletics is not in question. Neither is it alleged that athletic interests have overwhelmed the school's attention to basic literacy. Sports are simply being used as a carrot-and-stick incentive to encourage the school, at whatever level, to move forward on their responsibility to give and receive a basic education.

The N.C. High School Athletic Association governs participation in public high school sports. They already have scholastic eligibility requirements -- basically, that a student have passing grades in a full-time academic load -- that apply to the individual students (see page five of the NCHSSA handbook). The proposed rule would take the focus off individual eligibility and place the burden on the entire student body, a situation that simply can't be addressed by the student who is already keeping his grades up and his eligibility safe to play basketball, tennis, or whatever.

And that is the problem I see with the present bill: the penalty is too broad. Successful student athletes are denied the opportunity to compete because of the academic failures of even non-athletes in their schools. Perhaps the intent is to penalize the school, seeing the failure as a systemic problem rather than a collection of individual problems. That might be effective at the collegiate level, where student recruitment and donor support often respond favorably to the
college sports program. I think the only effect it would have at the secondary level, where recruitment is positively forbidden (see page four of the NCHSAA rules) and student apathy is a regular complaint anyway, would be to anger students and parents who feel unjustly excluded from a major extracurricular activity.

If you accept that high school sports are just an expected part of high school culture -- and another bill, opening public school sports to students which are not currently eligible, underscores that expectation exists -- then they deserve to be handled fairly and objectively as possible. And if you are going to upset a large number of parents in the best of intentions, it seems there are more effective things to spend political capital upon.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Help Me Out Here

What's wrong with this sequence?

1. We absolutely have to pass an $800 billion stimulus package without really looking at it.

"With the stakes so high we simply cannot afford the same old gridlock and
partisan posturing in Washington. It's time to move in a new direction.
Americans know that our economic recovery will take years -- not months. But
they will have little patience if we allow politics to get in the way of action,
and our economy continues to slide." (Obama, 1/31/09)

"... we can't afford to make perfect the enemy of the absolutely necessary. The scale and scope of this plan is right. And the time for action is now.Because if we don't move swiftly to put this plan in motion, our economic crisis could become a national catastrophe. Millions of Americans will lose their jobs, their homes, and their health care. Millions more will have to put their dreams on hold." (Obama, 2/7/09)

2. Now that we pass that, we positively have to have $200 billion more for additional things.

3. The President threatens mayors and governors if they waste any of it.

4. Now that we've committed a trillion dollars we didn't have to begin with, we're going to cut the Bush-era deficit in half.

I'm missing the logic behind this.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

A Doctrine of Fairness

I continue to hear calls for [conservative] critics of President Obama to back off and let the president be president for a while. I've addressed this before, and it turned up again in my study this morning:
Then Paul, looking earnestly at the council, said, “Men and brethren, I have lived in all good conscience before God until this day.” And the high priest Ananias commanded those who stood by him to strike him on the mouth. Then Paul said to him, “God will strike you, you whitewashed wall! For you sit to judge me according to the law, and do you command me to be struck contrary to the law?” And those who stood by said, “Do you revile God’s high priest?” Then Paul said, “I did not know, brethren, that he was the high priest; for it is written, ‘You shall not speak evil of a ruler of your people.’”

-- Acts 23:1-5

Even though Paul had a justifiable claim against the unjust treatment he was receiving, he repented when he realized the position of the one he was addressing. Calling the high priest a "whitewashed wall" is probably an example of the kind of reviling Christ condemns.

But if the president [our "king"] claims our consideration out of respect for his position --basic fairness, maybe -- then what should we make out of this passage?
Do not curse the king, even in your thought;
Do not curse the rich, even in your bedroom ...

-- Ecclesiastes 10:20a

Is there some unbridled rhetoric and heavy-handed policy coming from the new administration? I think there's room for self-examination and repentance on the other side of the aisle, too.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Maybe Obama Rejected The Wrong Churchill

Not long after 9/11, the British government loaned a valuable bronze bust of Winston Churchill to President George W. Bush. It occupied a prominent position in the Oval Office for the rest of his term.

Now President Barack Obama has returned it, unrequested, and provoked puzzlement and conjecture in British circles.

The London Telegraph suggests it may be because Churchill was Prime Minister when Britain suppressed the Mau Mau Rebellion in Kenya, and reportedly detained and tortured Obama's Kenyan grandfather.

The (UK) Spectator's Alex Massie opines it is a sign of Obama's "maturity", a sign that he doesn't need the inspiration of Winston Churchill looking over his shoulder to be president. He further lambasts "neoconservatives" as "traducing Chamberlain" and living in a "cult of Churchill" in the U.S. which needs taking down and no delay about it. (HT: The Corner)

I think it's likely nothing more than housecleaning (if you want to say that of an artwork worth hundreds of thousands of dollars). Obama likes Lincoln, so Abe it is in the statue corner.

Anyway, this whole argument loses traction in the reality of Early Churchill v. Later Churchill. We conservatives do admire Churchill's clear understanding of Britain's crumbled national security, his accurate identification of the threat that was Hitler and Nazism long before the rest of the government, and his stalwart leadership of his embattled nation before the Americans were stirred to engage the foe directly, and then ever afterward.

We forget however that Churchill's domestic policies were by no means conservative, including strong support for national socialized medicine, unemployment insurance, huge public works programs and old age pensions decades before we came up with the New Deal. For a time, he was a big-L Liberal. I've commented on this elsewhere before.

Contra The Spectator, I would argue that maybe President Obama would find a kindred spirit in the Early Churchill of 1904-1923, rather than the more remembered Later Churchill of 1939-1945 he supposedly rejects when he evicts Winston's image from the White House. Maybe it is Massie guilty of oversimplifying the history of a very long political career in his own country, and not we American provincials, y'know.

Besides, we have our own leadership cult now, and we've successfully exported the American Up-Leg Thrill to many countries already.

Maybe The Spectator would like a bronze bust of Barack Obama for their offices in return ?

BONUS: If President Obama had kept the bust, would he have been accused of trading on a famous relative?

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Our Side Is Bipartisan, Too

Just as President Obama's jibe, "We won!", is a false justification for staunching opposition, it should be noted that there was bipartisan opposition to the stimulus bill. While true that three Senate Republicans joined the Democrats in the Senate -- not that Senators Specter or Snowe were any surprise in that role -- in the House, there were eight Democratic Congressmen who voted no on the final ballot for the bill. While Speaker Pelosi didn't have to have their votes, I still commend the eight who voted right, and point out that "bipartisan" goes both ways.

Voting NO on H.R. 1:
Bobby Bright (D-AL)
Parker Griffith (D-AL)
Heath Shuler (D-NC)
Gene Taylor (D-MS)
Walt Minnick (D-ID)
Peter DeFazio (D-OR), and
Collin Peterson (D-MN).

Another Thing Wrong With The Stimulus Vote

With so many bad economic ideas and such glowing setups for fraud, waste, and abuse of taxpayer funds, this may be just one puff in a whirlwind. However, here's a direct Biblical warning of one of the major features of this bill's passage:

He who answers a matter before he hears it
It is a folly and shame to him.

-- Proverbs 18:13
Question: How many members of Congress could honestly say they had read the bill? Or even, that their staff had been able to read the bill and brief the member on its contents?

For further consideration:

Prov 14:29 - He who is implusive exalts folly

Prov 21:5 - The plans of the diligent lead surely to plenty, but those of everyone who is hasty, surely to poverty.

Prov 29:20 - Do you see a man hasty in his words? There is more hope for a fool than for him.