Saturday, August 29, 2009

Remembering Ted Kennedy


Now that the funeral is over and the leftist media will (perhaps) begin to wind down their completely uncritical praise of the last of the Kennedy brother plague, here is one more reflection on Ted Kennedy and other rich leftists.

Teddy has been touted for the last many days as someone who wanted to help ‘the little guy’ and ‘the working man.’  (Isn’t is rather amusing that, if you work well enough to make a significant amount of money, you are no longer a ‘working man’?)  He is being praised as a leader who dedicated his political life to ‘helping the poor.’

But if Teddy was truly a champion of the poor, how is it that he died a super-wealthy man?

Ted didn’t work for most of his wealth.  He inherited it from his father, who got it from all sorts of activities, some of which were illegal, such as bootleg liquor.  Teddy sat on this great wealth his whole life, never giving significant amounts of it to poor people.

Don’t you find that odd for a champion of the poor?

Teddy could have given millions upon millions of dollars to the poor and still led a relatively comfortable life.  He didn’t do that.  Instead, he maintained a massive ‘compound’ for his family.  He lived in utter luxury.  And yet he is supposed to be someone concerned with the poor.

While Teddy was not overly generous with his great inherited fortune, he was very glad to give away other people’s money in a way guaranteed to help his own political fortunes.  This was the perverted ‘generosity’ of the Kennedy’s and their ilk.

There is nobility in sacrificing your own goods to help others.  There is nothing noble about using the power of the state to steal from some and pretending to ‘give’ that to others.

And thus, there was nothing noble in this regard about Ted Kennedy.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Thou Art Wrong, Art

Here is a recent letter-to-the-editor in Christianity Today:

I read charles colson's June Back Page column, "Protecting Our Little Platoons," with a bit of chagrin. I have no argument with services delivered by "little platoons" closest to their recipients, but Colson ends it there. If the family, church, or volunteer agencies cannot solve the problem, then that's it—you are on your own.

President Obama, citing Abraham Lincoln's sacrifice to keep our union intact, stated in February that there are services only a union can provide. I agree that the federal faith-based office would be wrong to force ministries to hold nondiscriminatory hiring policies, yet the Salvation Army, Catholic Charities, and other volunteer groups are not going to fix the health care system, provide military defense, or anything else that only a union can do.

For Colson to end his column intimating that the government's attempts to improve the lives and dignity of its citizens will likely lead to totalitarianism is silly.

Art DePalma
Mill Creek, Washington

Kent comments:

Thou art wrong, Art – and dangerously so, in many ways.

What is really ‘silly’ is to lump health care with national defense.  Those who do not recognize a categorical difference here need to have their eyes examined – and not by some government-controlled ‘health care’ bureaucracy.  (No, Art, you really should be ‘on your own’ for that one.)

The mere fact that government is an appropriate way to handle national defense does not prove that any other thing you can dream up should be handled by government.

The mere fact that some problem is not yet solved by civil society (voluntary associations, businesses, or individuals) does not mean that government should or even could solve that problem.

The mere fact that someone, somewhere does not have something they want is not necessarily a ‘problem’ that anyone other than the one with the want needs to ‘solve.’

Even though Art seems to be too challenged to have realized this, when governments try to employ positive measures to ‘solve’ problems, liberty is necessarily decreased.  (And keep in mind that liberty and totalitarianism are inversely proportional.)

Governments do their work by force.  When government is set to solving all of Art’s ‘problems’ it can only do so by forcing people to live in ways they do not wish to live, or taking things from them that they do not wish to give.  What better term for that situation that totalitarianism?

When ‘little platoons’ attempt to solve problems, they must work with free gifts, willing exchanges, and willing participants.  That is the culture of liberty, and that is the only culture that truly respects ‘the dignity of citizens’ that Art and his kin seem to be so worried about.

Worst of all, I presume that Art, as a reader of Christianity Today is some kind of Christian.  How very odd (and I’m trying to be kind here) that a Christian would be advocating less ‘free and willing’ activity in our world, and more governmental force.

Art might want to check his Bible on this one.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Who’s Lying Here?

So Ted Kennedy is dead.  I am going to try my best to refrain from singing the song of the Munchkins in ‘The Wizard of Oz.’  (If you think that insensitive, I must say that I don’t care.  One less enemy of liberty on earth can only be good for liberty.)

Now the memory of Teddy is being appealed to as a reason to make our nation even more socialist by socializing medicine.  Teddy did make it very clear that this was something he desired. 

As anyone who is awake knows, the debate about this has been rancorous.  Many people are rightly concerned about key issues that seem to hover about the various proposals for how to ‘reform’ (that is, make socialist) health care.  People have worried about things like their ability to buy private insurance, the government funding of abortion, governmental encouragement of assisted suicide instead of treatment for older and other people.  (The list could go on.)

On the other hand, der Fuhrer, B. Hussein Obama, has waged a media battle recently to expose the ‘lies’ about ‘his’ health care proposals.

Now, if der Fuhrer were an honest man who really wanted to make sure none of these things were part of his proposal, it would be very easy to do.  He would not need to keep calling his critics liars.

Instead, he could very simply insert into any bill regarding ‘health care reform’ he might support some very simple statements in the introduction.  For example, “No provision of this bill shall be construed to authorize or encourage the spending of government funds to provide, assist, or encourage abortion.”  Likewise, “No provision of this bill shall be construed to authorize or allow the rationing of health care.”

I’m sure these could be worded much better, but you get the idea.  Any of the ‘lies’ about der Fuhrer’s health care proposals could easily be pre-empted in this way.

It could be unless all those ‘lies’ about der Fuhrer’s proposals are not lies at all.  Rule out these objections by clear language in your proposal, Mr. Obama.  Unless, that is, the lies are coming, not from the critics, but from you.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

The Real ‘Public Option’

The news of late has been filled with great debate about health care reform and ‘the public option.’  The would-be health care reformers have also talked about health care co-ops as an alternative.  In both of these, the government is a key player, and it plays by dictating what people can do about their health care.

This is amusingly ironic, especially since most of those pushing for one of these arrangements call themselves Democrats.  That would lead us to believe that they are advocates of democracy.  They also fancy themselves advocates of ‘the public’ in the sense of ordinary people – whatever those are.

So I have a proposal for the Democrats, if they are anything that their name and their claims imply.  Why not simply allow the public to use the most democratic option available for health care (or anything else)?  This option is the market where voluntary buyers and sellers meet for mutual benefit.

Suppose your approach to health care is health insurance.  (That might not be the best approach, but let’s grant the assumption for now.)  If there really are forty-six million un- (health) insured persons in the U. S. of A. then all those who want insurance can form a mutual insurance company – that is, one owned by the policy-holders.  That allows them to by-pass those evil insurance company executives and profits.  All the government needs to do to help this happen is to, legislatively speaking, get out of the way.  This is just one suggestion.  Maybe some people, for very good reasons, do not want health insurance.  Free people should be able to make that decision.  (If we are slaves of the state, that would be another matter.)

There simply is no need for Congress to legislate on the matter of health insurance if they believe in democracy.  People can vote with their dollars, and they always do, for what they want.  All the government needs to do is let them keep their dollars with which they vote.  Think of it this way:  when the government collects our money from us by taxes or other means, it disenfranchises us in the market place, so to speak.

And when voting on health care takes place in the market, rather than in Congress, the rights of minorities are duly respected.  If one hundred millions Americans want to form one or more co-ops, let them at it.  If another hundred million want to start mutual health insurance companies, then they can go for it.  And if a relatively small minority, say ten million, want to be customers of Blue Cross and Blue Shield, they should have the minority right to do so.  I thought Congressional Democrats believed in minority rights.  They like to tell us they do, at least.

Does the government have a role in all this?  Yes, and it involves getting itself out of the way.  Removing obstacles like ridiculously high liability on doctors might help.  Getting the FDA out of the way might help.  Getting the government out of the way in general could do nothing but help.

Let people vote with their dollars for the health care they want.  It’s democracy.  The only real alternative is government dictating what health insurance or health care we must have.  That’s dictatorship.

P.S. – If you insist on some version of the dictatorship approach, don’t be surprised or complain when people compare you to other dictators, e.g., Adolph Hitler.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Now You Can Keep Some


This just in from Americans for Tax Reform:

Happy Cost of Government Day!  Today, August 12, is Cost of Government Day (COGD), the day of the calendar year when the average American worker has earned enough gross income to pay off his or her share of the spending and regulatory burdens imposed by government on the federal, state, and local levels.

COGD falls 26 days later than last year's date, and it's 23 days later than the previous all-time high of July 20, in 1982.

As your Congressman and Senators hold their town hall meetings this recess, you should ask them why you needed to spend 224 days working to pay off your share of government. You should also ask them if you've already spent this much time working to pay off government, why would you possibly want to spend additional days working for a government takeover of healthcare?

While this is a mathematical average, it is still revealing.  You must remember that much of the cost of government goes beyond taxes.  Invisible ‘taxes’ are piled on us whenever the production of anything we use is made more expensive by government regulation.  However you look at it, YOU have to pay for it.

Will the cost of government day continue to move ever later into the year?  This bothers me for theological reasons.  The Apostle Paul tells us in Romans 13 that we owe taxes to those who give their full time to punishing evil and commending good.  We have a system of governments that both condemn good and commend evil.  (Examples abound, abortion being just one.)

So it is the height of theological naiveté to claim that scripture requires that we should cheerfully support our current mess.

As the government approaches more closely to self-declared omni-competence, it will demand that an ever-greater part of our lives be devoted to its feeding.  Economically speaking, that means it will be more and more difficult for people to support themselves – which becomes yet another excuse for the government to claim more power.

And theologically speaking, it means the government will tacitly claim to be god.  (And be led by messianic figures?  Just asking.)

Who Could Possibly Know?

Today I received a note from Jim Wallis at SojoMail.  In case you don’t know Wallis, he is someone who –very mistakenly and perhaps even a little perversely – thinks that Christianity demands socialism.  So I was not surprised to see that he is aghast to see so many people opposed to the current proposals for ‘health care reform.’  He is angry at all the ‘misinformation’ put forth by those who oppose the current proposal.  Wallis says:

A friend of mine recently traveled across several states in the U.S. visiting friends on summer vacation. He told me that, everywhere he went, people asked him to read e-mails they’d received. These e-mails had no author and no citations to support the misleading statements about health-care reform they contained – including the false claim that, if health-care reform passed, it would force families to see doctors and receive care dictated by a government panel. This is not true.

These egregious and false accusations are being created for only one purpose: to manipulate and instill fear in American citizens.

Does Jim mean emails that refer to unnamed friends who refer to unnamed people who claim to have read undocumented e-mails?  We will let that one slide for the moment.

At the moment, the only completed bill in congress is in the House.  You can try to read it if you care to do so by using this link:

I was surprised that a 1018 page document could load so quickly.  It is rather interesting in many respects.

The table of contents is seven and a half pages long.  Then comes the section where terms are defined.  This requires seven more pages.  Then the actual bill begins.  It is convoluted, as you are constantly referred forward and backward to various sections and sub-sections as you move through the bill.

In short, even a person of above-average intelligence would have trouble understanding what you would need to do to comply with this bill should it become law.  If there are false claims being made about this bill, Jim Wallis should not be surprised.  It was written in a way guaranteed to make it not understandable.

This has become standard procedure.  Members of Congress now admit that they do not read or understand the bills for which they vote.  So neither those who pass the laws, nor those who are required to live under them understand those laws.

Those convoluted bills that become ‘law’ that no one understands are interpreted and administered by bureaucracies.  What this means in the end is that we no longer live in a society ordered by law.  We live in a regime controlled by hoards of departments, cabinets, commissions, panels, etc.

It sounds very much like the society portrayed in Orwell’s 1984.

It sounds like one of the complaints against the king in the Declaration of Independence, “He has erected a multitude of new offices, and sent hither swarms of officers to harass our people, and eat out their substance.”

People cannot be expected to comply with laws that even the representatives who pass them can’t understand.  Americans are right to be completely terrified of “American’s Affordable Health Choices Act of 2009.”  We are always well-advised not to sign a contract we have not read.  In the same way, we are well-advised to oppose any new law that we cannot clearly understand.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

No Talking Allowed, Children

As reported in Real Clear Politics:

Preaching to the choir at a rally for Democratic gubernatorial candidate Creigh Deeds, our beloved Fuhrer Obama said:

I expect to be held responsible for these issues [the economy, health care, etc.] because I'm the president.  But I don't want the folks who created the mess doing a lot of talking. I want them to just get out of the way . . . I don't mind cleaning up after them, but don't do a lot of talking. Am I wrong . . .?

Kent comments:

Yes, Mein Fuhrer, you are wrong, as usual.  I think I will say that now before your green-shirted thugs come to get me.  Most of us didn’t even contribute to ‘this mess’ you are talking about.  But for now, at least until you manage to completely abolish the rights guaranteed by the First Amendment, we don’t care who you want talking.

We also will not be ‘getting out of the way.’  We intend to be in your ‘way’ every step of that way.

We will be praying that God will speed the day when you and your thugs sail back to Chicago (with apologies to Chicago) or wherever it is you came from.  Until then, wherever you turn, we will be ‘in your way.’

As a matter of fact, if anyone should shut up, that would be you.  But we are all allowed to talk, or we used to be.  So I suppose we have to let you talk, too.

It would be amusing to see what you could say sometime without that teleprompter.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Dear Senator McConnell of Kentucky:

In an earlier post I questioned you in regard to your seemingly too open mind to the travesty that is the judgeship of the ‘I’m better than some white man’ Sotomayor.  But I see today that, in the end, you did the right thing, the only wise thing, and you will vote against her.

Since I questioned you before, I want to give you your due now.  Thank you for supporting the Constitution, and thus opposing Sotomayor.  Well done . . .


Kent B. True


Meanwhile, across the river in Ohio, something that calls himself a Republican – the kind of creature that has made some of us start to become ill at the sound of the word ‘Republican’ - George Voinovich of Ohio has disgraced his state, his office, and the Constitution by supporting Judge ‘I’m better than some white man’ Sotomayor.

With Republicans like Voinovich, who needs Democrats?  Is Voinovich really the best Ohio can do?

On the Conservation of Liberty

My son recently announced that he was reading Russell Kirk’s The Conservative Mind and wondered if I had ever read it.  I had, but it had been many years since that reading, so I decided to read it again so we could discuss it.  (Note:  He began reading this book as a ‘break’ from his preparation for the comprehensive exams phase of his Ph. D. program in Political Science.  How is this book a ‘break’ from Political Science?)

As you can probably tell if you read these rants of mine often, if you had to categorize my views they probably fall somewhere in the conservative to classical liberal range.  I have sometimes thought of myself as a libertarian, and I have even spoken at a Libertarian Party state convention.  But when I speak to libertarians long enough I realize that while we have much in common, I’m not exactly one of them.  (Though I must say that they have always been very cordial with me when I start preaching to them, as I almost always do, even though a significant number of them are of the atheist/agnostic view.)

Meanwhile, back to The Conservative Mind.  Kirk traces the history of conservative thought in the relatively modern world by examining the thought of some of its key proponents.  It is an excellent book to help you locate yourself in conservatism, so to speak.  I find the 18th century British conservatives interesting, but still a bit foreign to me.  (Didn’t really mean that as a pun.)

I find myself, somewhat surprisingly, attracted to the thought of John C. Calhoun.  Kirk reminds us that Calhoun at one time had presidential ambitions, and then adds:

But one moving conviction, which in Calhoun overruled all his other ideas and even mastered his burning ambition, intervened to convert him into the most resolute enemy of national consolidation and of omnicompetent democratic majorities:  his devotion to freedom.  This principle ruined him as a politician.  As a man of thought and a force in history, he was transfigured by it.

I find something noble, beautiful, moving, admirable in that attitude:  a devotion to freedom that ruins one as a politician.  (Ironically, that is exactly the kind of person for whom I would campaign and vote.)  Like many antebellum southern thinkers, much of Calhoun’s effort was, unfortunately, bent to the defense of slavery.  But when you consider the things he said, elevated above their immediate context and generalized, Calhoun was a compelling political thinker.

But I think that as much as I admire Calhoun, I am more in sympathy with a group Kirk calls the ‘Liberal Conservatives’ which includes Alexis De Tocqueville.  (So I seem to be throwing in with the the French rather than the British!  How odd.)  Of this group Kirk says

We are in danger of forgetting how strongly attached the old liberal were to liberty.  Political liberalism before the middle of the nineteenth century . . . intended to conserve liberty.

Last summer when I was teaching a class at an area church on Christianity and Politics, I spent a few moments on the idea of conserving liberty.  At the time I fancied that an original thought of mine, neglecting the maxim that very little thought is original.  Whatever else it is, I find the idea of ‘conserving liberty’ stunning in a positive way.  It makes me long for a political situation in which liberals are liberal because they are ‘conserving liberty’ and conservatives are conservative because they are ‘conserving liberty.’

Though, as I said, I had read Kirk long ago, I had forgotten how much of it I had forgotten!  At this point I am about one third of the way through my re-read.  Perhaps I will have more to review later.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

We ‘Heil’

There has been a lot of talk lately about something that you can find on the official White House blog site:

There is a lot of disinformation about health insurance reform out there, spanning from control of personal finances to end of life care.  These rumors often travel just below the surface via chain emails or through casual conversation.  Since we can’t keep track of all of them here at the White House, we’re asking for your help. If you get an email or see something on the web about health insurance reform that seems fishy, send it to

In response to a recent post here an acquaintance of mine urged me not to make fun of Obama and company.  He was referring to my comment that Obama has ‘big ears and a big mouth.’  I should perhaps revise my statement and say that Obama’s ears are not especially large.  It’s just that his head is rather small, and he is extremely skinny, giving an appearance of largeness to his ears.

It is far too easy to make fun of Obama, and many of the people with whom he has surrounded himself.  He is farcical, in the way that strutting, wannabe totalitarians often are.

For example, in spite of the horror of his deeds, it is difficult to watch old clips of Adolph Hitler and not, after shuddering a bit, laugh.  He was a little shrimp of a man strutting around in a uniform, screaming meaningless tripe to crowds of adoring nitwits.

Though he has not yet been able to gain the power that Hitler eventually held (and remember, Hitler was elected at first), Obama is a skinny little wisp of a man who clearly thinks he is very much above we peons and who has made a career of reading meaningless tripe from his prompter to crowds of adoring nitwits.

But it appears that some of the nitwits have awakened recently.  And now that they have the audacity (is that the audacity of hope?) to question his highness, Obama and company have begun to prove that the parallels between them and the Nazis are not all that remote.

So if you see something ‘fishy’ about health insurance reform, by all means send it to Der Fuhrer and his Gestapo, or rather, our beloved leader at the White House.  The ministry of Anti-Disinformation needs to know.

In that Hitler-like way, it is all a little bit funny.

And if you have a spare 7 minutes and 54 seconds, check out this related and funny video.  Just substitute ‘Obama’ for ‘Der Fuhere’ and is very timely indeed!  And remember:

When Obama says, “You must stay in your place!”
We “Heil” we “Heil” right in Obama’s face.
Not to love Obama is a great disgrace.
So we heil heil right in der fuehrer's face.

Monday, August 3, 2009

The Irrelevance of Relevance

The title here is section sub-title from a recent excerpt of the book Unfashionable.  You should have a look for yourself, but here are some selected highlights and my (inevitable) comments:

If you stop and listen, you’ll hear that the cry of our times is for something completely otherworldly. People are up to their necks in up-to-date structures and cutting-edge methodologies. They’re beginning to understand that modern capabilities cannot make us better and more satisfied people nor make this world a better, more satisfying place. They seem desperate to recover a world that once was, a world that allows for mystery, miracle, and wonder—a world with windows to somewhere else.

Many church leaders have been telling us for a long time that the church’s cultural significance ultimately depends on its ability to keep up either with changing structures and environments (innovative technology, for instance) or with the latest intellectual fad (such as postmodernism).

All this comes at precisely the time when our culture is growing weary of slick production and whatever’s new and is growing hungry for authentic presence and historical rootedness. Younger generations don’t want trendy engagement from the church; in fact, they’re suspicious of it. Instead they want truthful engagement with historical and theological solidity that enables meaningful interaction with transcendent reality. They want desperately to invest their lives in something worth dying for, not some here-today gone-tomorrow fad.

We need to remember that God has established his church as an alternative society, not to compete with or copy this world, but to offer a refreshing alternative to it. When we forget this, we inadvertently communicate to our culture that we have nothing unique to offer, nothing deeply spiritual or profoundly transforming. Tragically, this leaves many in our world looking elsewhere for the difference they crave.

Kent comments:

Many Christians and churches I know have no clue about this.  It is more than a bit amusing that there are still some little churches out there in the wildwood somewhere who have recently, or hope to very soon, get a projector installed in the church building.  They want to finally get that ultimate connection to God, PowerPoint.  They have seen it when visiting other churches, and they now know the wonder of its true POWER to help people connect to the divine – or so they seem to think.

But there are others who are aware of the points made in the excerpt above.  They say they understand this completely and they agree.  But everything they DO says that they are unable or unwilling to wean themselves from the ‘up-to-date structures and cutting-edge methodologies’ and ‘innovative technology and latest fad’ approach to the Christian faith and the church.

Here is one small example:  when I tell many of my minister friends that many of the college-age people I know greatly enjoy older church music, they seem not to believe me.  This is especially true of baby-boomer age church leaders.

But even if people did want the latest fad, the church should not be the place where it is found.  The church should never have to be urged to offer ‘truthful engagement with historical and theological solidity’ for though the phrase is perhaps a bit pretentious, it does identify what the church should always be about.

The church will never be able to compete with the world in regard to ‘the latest thing.’  That doesn’t mean we cannot use technology or methodology.  But we do need to move those things several notches down the priority list to make room for the important things that belong at the top of the list.

In very practical terms this means at least being able to imagine what your church would be without Twitter, without TV screens, without computers or PowerPoint, without projectors, without electronic amplification, with no mention of the latest ‘ism’ or method, and without anything connected to ‘contemporary Christian music.’  Because if you think that if you had to do without any of these there would be nothing left, then the thing you are practicing if NOT the Christian faith.