Thursday, August 5, 2010

Good Analogy

Arizona Governor Jan Brewer is taking a lot of heat for the crime of exercising common sense on a political issue. The issue, of course, is illegal immigration, and Gov. Brewer is insisting, contra the wishes of the Obama administration, that the law against it be enforced. This defiance of liberal political correctness is too much for most of her ideological opponents to bear, and as a result the left has encircled Brewer, tomahawks aloft, whooping and grunting in the characteristic fashion of primitives about to sacrifice a prisoner of war. One of Gov. Brewer's antagonists is Phoenix Suns owner Robert Sarver who recently demonstrated that running a basketball team does not require the same intellectual skills as running a state.

In response to Sarver's criticism of the Arizona law Governor Brewer issued this statement:

"What if the owners of the Suns discovered that hordes of people were sneaking into games without paying? What if they had a good idea who the gate-crashers are, but the ushers and security personnel were not allowed to ask these folks to produce their ticket stubs, thus non-paying attendees couldn't be ejected. Furthermore, what if Suns' ownership was expected to provide those who sneaked in with complimentary eats and drink? And what if, on those days when a gate-crasher became ill or injured, the Suns had to provide free medical care and shelter?"

This is, of course, a good analogy to what is happening along our southern border. The same logic may be applied in other cases, too. Why is there a fence around the White House and what would happen to someone who tried to climb it? Why do most people, including most liberals, lock the doors of their homes? What would they do if they came home and found an intruder sitting at their kitchen table availing himself of refrigerator, toilet and television? What if the intruder insisted not only on staying but on bringing his family to enjoy the benefits and screamed in protest if the homeowner objected? How are these situations any different than what's happening on our southern border?

Questions like these, of course, never get answered by those who oppose the Arizona law because even they can see where the answers lead. Instead, people like Sarver try, in effect, to convince us that, even though he would never dream of doing so himself, other people should allow the less fortunate into their arenas without tickets and that it's just unAmerican and churlish to deny them the opportunity to see a game.

As Governor Brewer's rejoinder suggests, many of the arguments against the Arizona law are either stupid or hypocritical. Or both.


Secularism's Debt

John Steinrucken is an atheist which makes his excellent column at American Thinker a remarkable feat of intellectual objectivity and detachment. Steinrucken argues, correctly in my view, that the future viability of a free society is contingent upon the vitality of the Judeo-Christian belief system. Indeed, the title of Steinrucken's essay is Secularism's Ongoing Debt to Christianity. Here's his lede:

Rational thought may provide better answers to many of life's riddles than does faith alone. However, it is rational to conclude that religious faith has made possible the advancement of Western civilization. That is, the glue that has held Western civilization together over the centuries is the Judeo-Christian tradition. To the extent that the West loses its religious faith in favor of non-judgmental secularism, then to the same extent, it loses that which holds all else together.

Succinctly put, Western civilization's survival, including the survival of open secular thought, depends upon the perdurance in our society of the Judeo-Christian tradition.

The heart of his argument is a series of rhetorical questions the answers to which illuminate the crucial importance in modern society of a religious ground for the morals and values which the people embrace:

Although I am a secularist (atheist, if you will), I accept that the great majority of people would be morally and spiritually lost without religion. Can anyone seriously argue that crime and debauchery are not held in check by religion? Is it not comforting to live in a community where the rule of law and fairness are respected? Would such be likely if Christianity were not there to provide a moral compass to the great majority? Do we secularists not benefit out of all proportion from a morally responsible society?

An orderly society is dependent on a generally accepted morality. There can be no such morality without religion.

Those who doubt the effect of religion on morality should seriously ask the question: Just what are the immutable moral laws of secularism? Be prepared to answer, if you are honest, that such laws simply do not exist! The best answer we can ever hear from secularists to this question is a hodgepodge of strained relativist talk of situational ethics. They can cite no overriding authority other than that of fashion.

I couldn't help wondering, though, as I read this essay, why Steinrucken remains an atheist. If he's really convinced that God doesn't exist then his support for religion as a moral foundation is, at bottom, an endorsement of a Platonic "Noble Lie," a falsehood that he believes should be foisted upon the masses in order to get them to behave well.

As much as I appreciate the case he constructs and the fine spirit in which he presents it, I cannot agree with him that religion should be honored and encouraged for its practical value irregardless of its truth. A society built upon a lie, after all, is doomed to fail once the people recognize the lie. Steinrucken is right in his analysis of the importance of Christianity for society, but he's mistaken about it's truth. Perhaps, like many atheists before him, he'll soon rectify his error and embrace the truth of Christianity as well as its practical value.

Anyway, the piece deserves to be read in its entirety. There's much more to it and it's all quite good.


Electoral Armageddon

I am by nature a cautious man. I tend to see the glass as half empty. I have a strong disinclination to assume that what is true today will be true tomorrow. I'm keenly aware that in the affairs of men there's much that can go wrong and often does. So it is with considerable reservation that I call your attention to a piece by political analyst Mark McKinnon at The Daily Beast that proffers ten reasons why, in his view, the Democrats are "toast" in November. Perhaps it is so, but I'm not going to start pouring the champagne just yet.

With that caveat in mind here are the first three reasons McKinnon gives for thinking that the GOP is going to kick the donkey's butt three months from now:

1. Red regions are gaining; blue are bleeding. Folks are fleeing stricken states in search of jobs. Based on these population changes, eight states in the more conservative South and West are projected to gain one or more U.S. House seats. With a probable gain of three or four seats, the biggest winner is Texas-not surprising, with its continuing record job growth. Ten states, mostly in the more liberal Northeast, will likely lose one House seat or more.

2. Republicans are pulling ahead in U.S. House races. With a projected gain of more than 40 House seats in November, Republican candidates also have the financial lead in most of the 15 competitive races in which Democratic incumbents aren't running. Republicans only need a net gain of 39 seats to take the "damn gavel" away from Speaker Pelosi.

3. Toss-ups are turning red in the U.S. Senate. The GOP is leading or tied in eight Senate races for seats now held by Democrats, and is ahead in all Republican-held districts. More toss-up states on the map are leaning Republican. And the National Republican Senatorial Committee predicts a change in control of the Senate is now possible in just two election cycles.

Read McKinnon's article for the other seven. The ones that surprised me most have to do with the loss of support for President Obama among both minorities and young people. To be sure the erosion among blacks is only about ten percent, but it's indicative of the President's inability to achieve a level of competence as president equal to the quality of his rhetoric as a candidate.