December 25, 2010

Merry Christams to All

And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus, that all the world should be taxed. (And this taxing was first made when Cyrenius was governor of Syria.) And all went to be taxed, every one into his own city. And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judea, unto the city of David, which is called Bethlehem (because he was of the house and lineage of David), to be taxed with Mary his espoused wife, being with child.

And so it was, that, while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered. And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn.

And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And lo, the angel of the Lord come upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid. And the angel said unto them, "Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger." And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men."

And it came to pass, as the angels were gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds said one to another: "Let us now go even unto Bethlehem, and see this king which is to come to pass, which the Lord hath made known unto us." And they came with haste, and found Mary and Joseph, and the babe lying in a manger. And when they had seen it, they made known abroad the saying which was told them concerning this child. And all that heard it wondered at those things which were told them by the shepherds. But Mary kept all these things, and pondered them in her heart. And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen, as it was told unto them.

Luke 2:1

December 23, 2010

December 16, 2010

News from the Hindu Kush

The Salmon Kid landed in Afghanastan a few weeks ago and is cooling his jets at Bagram while he awaits a transfer to a FOB to train the Afghan military. He passed along the following video.

This was a favorite of mine when I was his age. Everything old is new again I suppose and this version is actually better than the original.

December 15, 2010

The Deconstruction of Obama's Progressivism

The Hoover Institution's Peter Berkowitz in a long but thorough primer on Barack Obama and the sources of his deeply ingrained modern progressivism comes to this conclusion:
One reason for the resounding rebuke delivered by the electorate to the Democratic Party and its leader last month was the immoderation and un-pragmatic character of President Obama’s progressivism. In its pursuit of a transformative agenda, it treated the public as too simpleminded or mean-spirited to adopt the correct policies for the correct reasons. It overlooked that while government is in a good position to provide equality before the law and equal opportunity, it is often a bad judge of what citizens deserve and poorly equipped to ensure equal outcomes. And in seeking to expand government’s responsibility for managing citizens’ lives, it ignored the prospects for diminishing citizens’ freedom.

The president and his fellow progressives needn’t be seen as having acted cynically. In the progressive mind — as illustrated by the president’s rhetoric on the campaign trail and conduct in office, and professors’ theories about deliberative democracy, pragmatism, and empathy — progressives are moderate and post-partisan because progressivism itself is not a flawed and incomplete perspective but rather the comprehensive perspective that has at last transcended the flawed and incomplete perspectives of the past. Progressivism’s vision of reform, progressives suppose, is vouched for by reason, by practice, and by the heart. It is equivalent for them to justice itself.

It follows that those who depart from progressivism are unreasonable, indifferent to or disdainful of how the world really works, and heartless — in a word, unjust. From the point of view of the new progressivism, compromise is form of compassion; it means offering the unreasonable, the impractical, and the heartless a seat at the table and providing them an opportunity to recognize the wisdom of progressive ways. And moderation for the new progressivism is kind of resoluteness; it signifies flexibility, patience, and persistence in pursuing progressive ends.

Confidence that one possesses the complete and final understanding of morals and politics can encourage a politician to think of himself as a transformer and redeemer rather than as a statesman. It can impel a president confronting dramatic electoral backlash to attribute opposition to his party and his programs to a fear that blinds voters to “facts and science and argument.” And it can drive him to rouse loyalists to adopt the ancient warriors’ ethic and declare, “We’re going to punish our enemies and we’re going to reward our friends who stand with us on issues that are important to us.” One reason that progressives under pressure so readily succumb to the common temptation to deride voters who disagree with them as frightened and foolish and to portray fellow citizens as adversaries to be vanquished is that progressive assumptions about knowledge and politics make such conclusions about those who decline to follow their lead hard to escape.
Although Berkowitz delves into the influence of modern philosophers Rawls and Rorty one aspect that I think is always lacking in the explanations of the New Progressives is the influences of the early 20th Century radicals on the Progressive movement; as I have said before these ain't your granddad’s progressives.

The Socialists, Anarchists, and Syndicalist didn’t just fade away; although they all still maintain a web presence  they largely, along with the progressives, melted into the Democratic Party in the 1940s. The last gasp effort for them to stand on their own was Iowa's own Henry Wallace's run for the presidency on the Socialist Party ticket in 1948. Many of their ideas and rhetoric became a part of the progressive movement which today takes the form of anti-capitalism and anti exceptional-ism, while the term democracy no longer refers to a  form of participatory politics but instead is a means of political control.

Taken together Progressivsism  becomes a superiority complex that sees non believers as cattle to be herded and Constitutionalism as a quaint but inadequate means of social order that unltimately must be replaced.

The Berkowitz piece is a long but definitely enlightening read.

December 08, 2010

As you know posting has been pretty non-existent here for the better part of two months because the teaching program I am in prides itself on weeding out us "undesirables" by burying them in up to there neck in crap and covering their heads with honey. I am proud to say I think I survived. With only few loose ends to wrap up today I have the next couple weeks off to prepare for Christmas.

So to get you into the spirit of the season here is Clay Aiken (sorry it's the best version I could come up with) singing "Mary Did You Know." Enjoy!