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Missing the 80s

March 3rd, 2014 No comments

Watching Putin play Obama for the amateur he is brings to mind the snarky, dismissive remark our current Bumbler-in-Chief made during the last presidential campaign:

The 80’s called. They want their foreign policy back.

So, Mr. President, have you tried copping that attitude with Vlad? How’s that working for ya’?

I can’t be the only American who wishes for a return to the policies of the 1980s. Or even, say, the 2000s. When America’s allies knew we could be trusted, and our enemies knew we should be feared. Now both alike do nothing but laugh.

Categories: Conservatism, International Tags:

Yes, We Are the World’s Policeman

September 18th, 2013 3 comments

Dennis Prager makes a strong moral argument for America maintaining an active and vigilant military role on the international stage.

Categories: Conservatism, International Tags:

‘We the People’ Loses Appeal With People Around the World

February 7th, 2012 No comments

You really have to love the NY Times. Their latest lament is that America is, apparently, out of touch with the rest of the world when you compare our Constitution with those of other nations.

Other nations routinely trade in their constitutions wholesale, replacing them on average every 19 years.

Yes, they do. Repeat after me, “Stability is a good thing.” America became a great nation because its founding principles are, in fact, timeless. Is our Constitution perfect? Probably not, and it certainly wasn’t as it was originally written. The founders knew that, and so included a mechanism for making changes. The fact that those changes are hard to make, however, has been a great benefit rather than a hindrance.

The rights guaranteed by the American Constitution are parsimonious by international standards…

I actually had to read that a few times. Parsimonious? Then I saw what was missing just a few sentences later:

But the Constitution is out of step with the rest of the world in failing to protect, at least in so many words, a right to travel, the presumption of innocence and entitlement to food, education and health care.

Yes, I see. Americans are terribly restricted in our ability to travel. Huh? And since when are we not guaranteed the “presumption of innocence” in court? It’s one of the pillars of our legal system and always has been. Then comes the kicker: entitlements. A country that is fighting an increasing epidemic of obesity lacks an “entitlement to food”? Really? The left is so preoccupied with what we are “entitled” to that it entirely ignores our responsibilities.

And then, of course,

It has its idiosyncrasies. Only 2 percent of the world’s constitutions protect, as the Second Amendment does, a right to bear arms.

That, in the end, is what guarantees our liberty. So long as Americans can arm themselves, the government cannot exert unlimited power over us. This is no small freedom.

To be fair to the authors, they concluded with a powerful and unrebutted counterpoint by Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia:

“Every banana republic in the world has a bill of rights,” he said.

“The bill of rights of the former evil empire, the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, was much better than ours,” he said, adding: “We guarantee freedom of speech and of the press. Big deal. They guaranteed freedom of speech, of the press, of street demonstrations and protests, and anyone who is caught trying to suppress criticism of the government will be called to account. Whoa, that is wonderful stuff!”

“Of course,” Justice Scalia continued, “it’s just words on paper, what our framers would have called a ‘parchment guarantee.’ ”

Yeah, I really wish our country were more like Canada. It’s a great model of individual freedom and freedom of speech. I’ll take the liberties enshrined in our founding documents, thank you.

Brits Tiring of Increased Taxes

December 7th, 2011 No comments

A new survey shows Britons ‘less willing to pay for taxes to help others’. Among other interesting findings,

Britons are less willing than ever to pay higher taxes to support the National Health Service, schools or the environment, a new survey suggests.

The National Centre for Social Research’s 28th annual British Social Attitudes report also found increasing numbers blaming poverty on “laziness”.

Maybe the U.K. is coming around. Funny, but the BBC reports this as if it’s a bad thing. We need more of that on this side of the pond.

Christmas Consumerism vs Charity

November 28th, 2011 No comments

Today I was given a quick poll asking how much Americans spend each year on Christmas: $10B, $450B, or $620B. Mathematician that I am, I had to figure out what the numbers worked out to per person.

With a population of about 309 million, $10B would average $30 each, which is clearly low. But the next higher choice pushes the average up to $1450—double the $715 Gallup published for 2010 average spending. Even that last figure would put a family of 4 at nearly $3000 for Christmas spending. Really? I make a pretty good living, but even adding up decorations, parties, extra baking, gifts, etc., we don’t reach that. I don’t see how a typical American household—with significantly less income—could. So, without seeing exactly what is meant by “Christmas spending” I must admit to some skepticism regarding the numeric choices. Does that include all meals eaten out, or just the “extra” ones that we might have eaten at home during a different season? Does it include travel expenses? Does it include all consumer spending, some of which would have taken place during any other time of the year? And so on.

The real point of the poll, however, was that Americans simply spend too much on Christmas and should, instead, redirect our money to charities that benefit the third world. So what would happen if we spent significantly less? I’m not advocating rampantly selfish consumerism, but there’s a flip side to this coin. Every dollar taken out of the economy has a ripple effect. Stay home instead of flying to spend the holidays with relatives? Lay off a flight attendant. Stick with last year’s Christmas dress? Put a garment worker in Mexico or Central America out of work. Skip the new MP3 player? Cut the pay of a factory employee in Asia. It’s a complicated global market. Shifting money out of it—even for well-run, legitimate charities—certainly benefits some, but inevitably harms others.

The sad truth is that the very real problems in most third world areas can’t be solved by simple charity. We’ve spent billions on foreign aid (private and governmental) to Africa alone, with relatively little improvement in the horrid plight of its people. Each year I hear the same heartbreaking stories of rampant hunger and disease that were told by missionaries when I was a kid. Contrast that to Asia where, over the last few decades, economic development has raised the standard of living and increased individual freedom even in places like Vietnam and China. Perfect? No, but greatly improved. The situation on the dark continent isn’t likely to get better until they reform or replace their incredibly corrupt governments, which are far too often propped up or enabled by…our aid and charity. That’s not my own analysis. It came straight from the director of a Christian African business organization—born in central Africa—who spoke at Central Christian Church (Mesa, AZ) a couple years ago making the case that Americans should actually reduce our charitable contributions to the continent and replace them with economic activity and increased direct pressure on governments to reform. That runs against our sense of Christian charitable responsibility, but he made some very good points. In many ways our charity perpetuates their poverty.

All that said, my wife & I support Samaritan’s Purse, Salvation Army/Angel Tree, and World Vision—and encourage others to give generously. Do your homework and choose well-run charities that have a record of real impact. We like these because the first two have the dual benefit of boosting the consumer market while the last lets us help provide sustainable long-term economic assistance in the form of livestock. (Bunnies ain’t just cute. They’re incredibly tasty and reproduce like, well, rabbits.) Most importantly, all three work hard to share Christ with a desperately lost world—the change they really need most.

Consumption isn’t all bad; charity isn’t all good. It may seem counterintuitive, but as in all things, balance and wisdom are required. Keep Christ in the center of your Christmas and the question will become moot.

[Thanks to Kurtis Strunk, Youth Pastor at Mesa (AZ) First Church of the Nazarene for posting the poll via Excess for Africa. Have a teen in the area? Check out ROC Student Ministries.]

CNN Shows Its Bias Against Guns

November 25th, 2011 No comments

In yet another poorly written attempt to demonize American gun ownership, CNN published this piece about the first homicide to occur in Windsor, Ontario in just over two years. You know the story isn’t really about the homicide just by reading the first three paragraphs:

In his 60 years, Arnold Blaine has known only two people who’ve owned a gun: one a hunter, the other a nightclub owner.

“We don’t even have gun shops,” said the Windsor, Ontario, business owner.

The paucity of guns is one of three factors police in the city across the river from Detroit cite for its low homicide rate.

Those police are, quite simply, near-sighted fools—as are the authors of the hit piece article. Choosing one crime statistic and a single potential factor and tying them together is not only statistically invalid, it is entirely illogical. Let me demonstrate.

Mesa, Arizona, is a city of just under 440,000—close in size to Windsor at roughly 215,000. I pulled the 2010 crime statistics for both Windsor and Mesa for a direct comparison. When you look at these numbers, keep in mind that while it is very difficult to own a handgun in Canada, Arizona has some of America’s most permissive firearm laws. Having until recently been an Arizona gun owner myself (I now reside in North Carolina—with guns—but my kids were in Mesa schools) I can guarantee there are thousands of legally owned firearms of all types throughout the city of Mesa. Handguns, rifles, shotguns, bullpups, “assault weapons”—you name it, there are a whole bunch of ’em in Mesa. If guns were the primary (or even a significant) problem in and of themselves, you would expect Mesa to be a fearful place to live. So let’s see the numbers in residents per crime:

Crime Windsor Mesa
Sexual Assault 1396.1 3548.39
Assault 172.97 385.96
Robbery 1009.39 861.06
All Personal 76.76 245.67
Arson 5000 7457.63
MV Theft 500 436.08
Theft from MV 95.9 228.1
All Property 22.09 29.57

[Note: MV = motor vehicle.]

That paints a little different picture, now, doesn’t it? You are more likely to be the victim of a property crime in Windsor than in Mesa, and far more likely to be the victim of assault or sexual assault. I don’t know how you read those numbers, but I can tell you with certainty that you would be safer in the city that has all those evil guns. I’ll keep my freedom—and safety—thank you very much.

Evangelicals and the Case for Foreign Aid

November 12th, 2011 No comments

In a recent Wall Street Journal Op-Ed piece, Richard Stearns—the head of World Vision, a charity I personally support financially—makes some good points in a compelling argument for American aid to other countries…but not for government aid.

He states that,

Yes, individuals and churches play a vital role in aid and development. But governments play a unique and vital role that private organizations cannot.

But he fails to provide a single example of such a government role. Christian aid organizations have smaller budgets but are much more efficient than the government, with a significantly higher portion of their funds going to aid rather than to bureaucracy. Further, our federal aid far too often props up governments which not only oppress Christians (and adherents to other locally minority religions) but bear little resemblance to anything we would recognize as democracy—one of his (correctly) stated goals of foreign aid.

Stearns is also confused about the meaning of the word “dependence”:

And at a time when more than a billion people do not have enough food to eat, President Obama’s Feed the Future initiative provides nutrition assistance and helps 21 South American, African and Asian countries feed themselves, without dependence on aid.

The sentence is self-contradictory. If these countries don’t depend on our aid, then why are we providing it?

He is also perplexed by Christians—who quite rightly should be concerned with the plight of the poor throughout the world—supporting large cuts to our federal foreign aid. As the leader of a Christian aid organization, this shouldn’t be such a puzzle to him. Government aid is strictly secular in nature. Christians, in particular, should prefer that our foreign assistance be accompanied by evangelism—something that can only be done by Christian groups.

Christians do care about the less fortunate among us, both at home and abroad. We are also concerned that our tax dollars are so frequently spent in ways we believe to be contrary to both America’s interests and to the primary calling of the church—to reach the lost for Christ—which the government cannot do.

More Like Europe?

August 10th, 2011 No comments

The left in America would have us become more like Europe: a largely secular society with cradle-to-grave “security” provided by the government. After seeing the rioting in England—public depredations that can only be described as evil—I’ll pass.

MOBS have begun stripping people and taking their belongings as police struggle to control riots in London and in other major English cities…

A young man is shown being forced to hand over all of his clothes after appearing to be stripped naked during the third night of lawless riots…

Another picture which emerged shows an unnamed woman completely naked next to a police officer after apparently having her clothes taken from her…

…another shocking video shows a bleeding teenager being robbed in broad daylight by lawless thugs who pretend to help him to his feet.

[Note the stirling security provided by the British government. The Bobbies—yes, that’s one ‘o’ and two ‘b’s, not the other way around—can’t control the mobs, and the people have been entirely disarmed by their own government so that they can’t protect themselves. But that’s a whole ’nother can-o-worms.]

And what are they rioting over? The big-government teat at which they’ve been feeding is drying up. This is swiftly becoming a recurring pattern—riots in Greece, France, and England by a populace weakened and spoiled by decades of government coddling. Once people grow accustomed to being cared for, they lose the ability—and the moral determination—to care for themselves. Think that couldn’t happen here? Yeah, I’d have thought the same thing a few decades ago when I lived in Europe and visited the U.K. with my family. But I was young and naive then.

Europe Showing Signs of Awakening to the Danger Within

February 5th, 2011 1 comment

For years western Europe has been quietly allowing an increasingly radical Muslim population to cause serious societal problems. The conflict has been most notably covered in Belgium and the Netherlands, but the U.K. has certainly had its share of issues, particularly with homegrown terrorism. Britain’s Prime Minister David Cameron today signaled that his country’s slumber may be coming to an end.

Speaking at a security conference in Munich on Saturday, Mr. Cameron condemned what he called the “hands-off tolerance” in Britain and other European nations that had encouraged Muslims and other immigrant groups “to live separate lives, apart from each other and the mainstream.”

He said that the policy had allowed Islamic militants leeway to radicalize young Muslims, some of whom went on to “the next level” by becoming terrorists, and that Europe could not defeat terrorism “simply by the actions we take outside our borders,” with military actions like the war in Afghanistan.

“Europe needs to wake up to what is happening in our own countries,” he said. “We have to get to the root of the problem.”

The full text of his speech can be read here. It’s well worth your time.

While the rest of the world expands drilling…

December 2nd, 2010 No comments

While the rest of the world expands oil drilling, we shut it down and will inevitably wind up buying even more of what we need from foreign sources. While sucking the energy life-blood out of our own economy we pour billions into other nations’ oil ventures. Brilliant, that.

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