Thursday, July 31, 2008

Bush and the Chronically Homeless

A New York Times report notes that, due largely to a Bush administration initiative, chronic homelessness in the U.S. has declined by 52,000 people from 175,914 to 123,833, a 30% drop, between 2005 and 2007.

I wonder what the decline was during the halcyon years of the Clinton administration.

In any event, this is another data point that future historians will factor into their assessment of Bush's presidency. Combined with his achievements on behalf of the poor in Africa and his liberation from tyranny of 50 million people in the Middle East, those who really care about human rights and human welfare, as opposed to those who simply pay lip service to these concepts, will be forced to conclude that Bush has done more good for the people they're concerned about than any president or world leader in the last 100 years.

For many this will no doubt be an awkward and uncomfortable realization.

Perhaps this is one reason liberals despise him. While they have talked endlessly about their concern for the poor, he has made them look impotent and hypocritical by actually doing something to alleviate their suffering.


Religious Renaissance

A generation or so ago it looked as though theistic belief in general and Christian belief in particular were on the ropes. The atheists had all the good arguments, it was thought, the liberal church was embracing them, and it was just a matter of time until skepticism trickled down from the ivory towers of the academy to the pulpits and pews of parish churches and wiped out religious belief altogether.

Along the way to this denouement, however, a funny thing happened. A number of Christian philosophers remained unimpressed by the force of the secularists' arguments and were quietly churning out powerful philosophical arguments in defense of traditional Christian belief. This effort was epitomized, perhaps, with the publication in the late sixties of Alvin Plantinga's God and Other Minds, a work which completely altered the terms of the debate. Other philosophers contributed additional efforts over the next couple of decades and some, like William Lane Craig and J.P. Moreland, became powerful public debators.

In addition, the creationist critique of Darwinism and the rise of the intelligent design movement hewed away at an essential prop in the atheistic worldview. All this, coupled with the utter failure of secular assumptions to provide a framework for social well-being - the devastation wrought by the sexual revolution and the horrors of street crime and the ubiquity of white collar crime - cast into unmistakeable highlights the moral inadequacies of secular atheism.

Douglas Groothius at Books and Culture gives us an interesting glimpse of the current state of the controversy with emphasis on books by three of the participants, Alistir McGrath, Antony Flew, and a debate between William Lane Craig and Walter Sinnott-Armstrong. It's a good read.


Terrorism's Most Effective Weapons

This article at Strategy Page discusses some interesting aspects to the war in Iraq from the standpoint of the military:

Throughout the current conflict, the military made no secret of what they were doing, and just kept focused on winning. They knew they would be dealing with an unusual enemy, a stateless force based on ideology and religion based hatred. This foe was weak, in the conventional military sense, but was armed with two powerful weapons.

First, there was the suicide bomber, and terrorism in general. Against civilian populations, this was a very effective weapon. Against a professional and resourceful military foe, it was much less so. But the enemy had another weapon; the media and political opposition in their opponents homeland. The media is eager to report real or imagined disasters and mistakes. This is how the news business has stayed solvent since the mass media first appeared in the mid 19th century. Al Qaeda was run by people who were aware of this, and knew how to exploit it, both among friendly (Moslem) populations, and in nations they had declared their enemy. This they did by exploiting the proclivities of the political oppositions in the West.

There is much more at the link, especially regarding how the liberal media and our political leadership has been one of terrorism's most effective weapons.