Saturday, October 4, 2008

With Friends Like This...

Barney Frank deserves to be pilloried for his role in the financial crisis we're now facing, but people like Bill O'Reilly are obviously not the ones to do it. This video is an embarrassment to those who agree with O'Reilly's point but think that a much more effective case could be made against Frank and the Democrats by calmly and rationally explaining it rather than acting like a three year-old having a tantrum in the sandbox:

The lesson here is that we need to carry on our discourse in ways that are polite, courteous, and calm. We persuade no one by yelling at them and calling them cowards. Nor do we impress our listeners if they're repelled by our belligerence and name-calling, which any decent person would be. It's disgusting when the left does it, and it's no less so when it comes from the right.

This is not to say that there's no place for anger. There is, but if we want to persuade others to our point of view our anger should be controlled. Anyone who doesn't understand the issue in this video, and who doesn't know the players, is going to find Barney Frank a much more sympathetic character than Bill O'Reilly, and that would be unfortunate, at least it would be if you believe that conservative ideas must prevail if our nation is going to survive.

People like O'Reilly (and Michael Savage) succeed only in making the task of conservatism's opponents that much easier.


Hurtling Toward the Cliff (Pt. III)

In his essay titled Without God physicist Stephen Weinberg says this:

[I] do not think we have to worry that giving up religion will lead to a moral decline. There are plenty of people without religious faith who live exemplary moral lives (as for example, me), and though religion has sometimes inspired admirable ethical standards, it has also often fostered the most hideous crimes. Anyway, belief in an omnipotent omniscient creator of the world does not in itself have any moral implications-it's still up to you to decide whether it is right to obey His commands.

Set aside the pomposity and self-righteousness implied by his claim to be a moral exemplar. He's being hopelessly naive when he says that belief in a transcendent creator has no moral implications. Unless there is a transcendent moral authority there simply is nothing that obligates or binds us to act in any way beyond how we feel like acting. There's nothing that makes kindness better than cruelty. Both kindness and cruelty are simply things some people prefer, like they prefer a particular flavor of ice cream. We may like or dislike the behaviors we label kind and cruel, just as we like or dislike a particular flavor of ice cream, but as with the ice cream, there's nothing wrong with them.

Weinberg then adds this:

As religious belief weakens, more and more of us know that after death there is nothing....Living without God isn't easy. But its very difficulty offers one other consolation-that there is a certain honor, or perhaps just a grim satisfaction, in facing up to our condition without despair and without wishful thinking-with good humor, but without God.

So atheism amounts to this: We are like a lone man lost in a wilderness and facing certain death. We can face our predicament bravely or not, but which we choose isn't going to change anything and doesn't much matter. And why worry about bravery? What makes bravery a virtue? The fact that other people admire it? People admire a lot of things in others that are not virtuous, what makes bravery different?

Atheists like Weinberg adjure us to face the absurdity of life with a smile on our face, but it's the smile of a clown. It's there but there's an incongruity between the smile and the emptiness and despair that lurks behind it. The smile is a mask that tries to send the message that one's life means something when in fact anyone who thinks about it knows that it doesn't.

Thanks to Logan Gage at EN&N for calling Weinberg's essay to our attention. See here and here for additional posts on Weinberg's Without God.



Senator Biden is often praised for his extensive foreign policy experience but that experience is of little moment if he doesn't know what's going on in the world's hot spots. In his debate with Governor Palin the senator took some swipes at the Bush policy in Palestine and along the way delivered himself of the asseveration that we and France kicked Hezbollah out of Lebanon and that he and Senator Obama urged that NATO fill the void.

I haven't a clue as to what he's talking about, and neither, I suspect, did he. Lots of other folks are wondering about it, too. It's as if Biden just made this up on the spur of the moment.

He made a number of other erroneous statements during the debate, but this one is perhaps the most bizarre. Check out the link.

Maybe he was thinking of something else and got confused in the spotlights, but the point is that after this debate there should be no more gibes at Sarah Palin's relative lack of knowledge about the world.