Friday, February 26, 2010

The Noncensus of it all!

There was yet another brouhaha earlier this week concerning illegal aliens. The Washington Examiner reported on February 21 that certain counties surrounding Washington, DC were pulling out all the stops to make sure that illegal aliens were counted in the census. Fanning out to ethnic church events and other community settings where they would likely reach an audience of illegal aliens, county officials were urging them to stand up and be counted, at the same time assuring them that their information will not be shared with federal immigration officials. So why are county officials doing this?

Failing to count illegal immigrants, local officials say, will reduce federal funding around $1,000 a year for each ignored person. And counties are looking for ways to offset costs that arise from providing health care and school services to thousands of residents who don't contribute taxes.

Some might be surprised at my take on the immigration issue. Though I am politically conservative, this is one area where I part company with the right. As noted in a previous post:

Friday, February 19, 2010

Are We Out of the Woods Yet?

I am probably among the few who has not seen or listened to the Tiger Woods’ apology. I have little or no interest and really felt no need to hear it. In truth, I know relatively few of the details of his transgressions. From the little snippets I have heard on news radio over the last few months while driving home from work, I take it he was unfaithful to his wife and family.

Don’t get me wrong. It’s not that situations like this don’t sadden me deeply. Marriage is sacred. And I grieve over those who are deeply hurt when one or more partners break their vow. Even when in the midst of the wreckage of the relationship both partners bravely attempt to forgive, mend and restore, it has to be terribly painful.

This is one reason I had little interest in the public apology. To whom in the public does he need to apologize? Yes, I suppose he should issue an apology to those whom he let down because they had looked to him as a role model. But this is more of a sad commentary on our society, where we elevate and lionize people who can run fast, score goals, break records or get a silly 1” diameter ball to fall into a hole with the fewest strokes possible. As impressive as these feats are, are they really the makings of a role model?

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

What is your drug of choice?

I am currently reading a book by Alister McGrath called The Twilight of Atheism. It is a somewhat heavy but worthwhile read that traces the philosophical underpinnings and history of atheism, including its meteoric rise in the 19th and 20th century and—as the title of the book suggests—the beginnig of its decline. I will not attempt to synopsize or otherwise do justice to the book in a single post (To be honest, I am not finished reading it!), but rather focus on two of the fallacies pointed out by McGrath:
  1. The assumed tension or enmity between science and faith;
  2. The notion that belief in God or theism is the natural result of man’s fear of death and desire for immortality
Scientific discovery through the ages has advanced precisely because of theistic thinking, as scientists have investigated on the assumption that an ordered world and consistent universe flow from a First Cause and Ultimate Controller of the laws of natures. It was not until Darwin’s Origin of the Species suggested the possibility of a natural evolution of man without a divine agent that there arose a perceived tension between science and faith. But this tension was not necessary. Darwinism merely suggested a theory of natural history that differs from literal interpretations of the Genesis creation accounts, but that is nothing new. Theologians as early as Augustine were careful to point out centuries before Darwin that Genesis need not be taken literally.

Friday, February 12, 2010


“Forget red and blue - color America white. There was snow on the ground in 49 states Friday -- all 50 states if you count the snow on top of the mountains in Hawaii.”

So stated an AP story quoted on the WTOP News Website on February 12, 2010. You would think I would use this as a springboard to take another potshot at the politically motivated global warming hysteria. Believe me, it is tempting, but that is not my purpose here.

I will focus instead on the effects of the record snowfall in Washington, DC, expressed not only in terms of the back to back storms that dumped more than three feet of snow on the national capital area, but also in terms of closings and delays. While it is not uncommon that a significant snowfall should shut down local school systems—for obvious safety reasons--it is extremely rare for inclement weather to shut down the federal government, even for a day. Instead, federal employees who cannot make it into work are usually offered the option of taking unscheduled leave.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Out of the Bush League

A little over a year ago, just a day or two before Inauguration Day, I unapologetically wrote a post entitled The Bush Legacy and an Ungrateful Nation. Even while pointing out my areas of disagreement and disappointment with the 43rd president, I maintained that he got a bum rap and that history would eventually vindicate him.

I found it amazing that within the course of six or seven years a president’s approval rating can drop from the stratospheric 90’s down to dismal 20’s. It’s not like he underwent a dramatic shift in policy (except, as I pointed out, his disappointing performance in fiscal policy, in which he allowed deficit spending to soar to levels that … seem pathetically mild compared to now.) But he otherwise stuck to his guns tenaciously (or stubbornly, depending on your point of view), despite the shifting and fickle political winds.

Anyway, no point in repeating here what I wrote a year ago. I was inspired to raise the issue again by news reports of a peculiar billboard sighting on I-35 in Wyoming, Minnesota. The picture here is courtesy of National Review Online.

It’s interesting that nobody knew initially who funded the billboard, leading some wishful thinkers on the left to wonder whether it was funded by someone of their ilk in hopes of reminding people how terrible things were under Bush. I would welcome the comparison. So how about it?

Monday, February 8, 2010

Talkin' 'bout my generation!

Though I was born a little late for it, I consider myself a child of the sixties. I imbibed the culture and the music from my older brothers, and even from my dad, whose negative experiences growing up in fascist Italy caused him to be sympathetic to a generation that questioned authority, and particularly a generation that opposed the war in Vietnam. Though my brothers and I were otherwise raised to be pretty straight-laced kids that otherwise steered clear of the uglier side of the sixties generation, and even as I have since rejected much of the political ideology in favor of common sense conservatism (i.e., I grew up.), there is much about the sixties that causes me to look back nostalgically. If nothing else, I still love the music.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Required Reading

Last month a fellow blogger and Facebook friend posted a quote from a historical figure I had never heard of. This in and of itself did not surprise me, because the older I get the more I am made aware of my profound ignorance, which is attributable in part to the pathetic education I received in the public school systems. Anyway, the quote is as follows:
When plunder becomes a way of life for a group of men living together in society, they create for themselves in the course of time a legal system that authorizes it and a moral code that justifies it. (Frédéric Bastiat)

I had to do some internet research to learn that Bastiat was a French statesman, essayist and economist of the nineteenth century. His classic treatise, The Law , is one of the great philosophical and moral defenses of liberty and limited government. I borrowed a copy from a friend and was heartened to learn that I was not alone in discovering Bastiat late in life. In his forward to the Dean Russell translation published by the Foundation for Economic Education, Economics Professor and political commentator Walter Williams admitted: “I must have been forty years old before reading Frédéric Bastiat’s classic, The Law. An anonymous person, to whom I shall be eternally in debt, mailed me an unsolicited copy.” As a fan and admirer of Walter Williams, I can say I am in good company!