On Wednesday evenings around the country, many churches hold mid-week services or children’s programs, or bible studies. Sometimes, all three. A few weeks ago, a pastor was leading one of those Bible studies when a visitor came into the church and sat in on the group. He was welcomed to join in. He requested to sit next to the pastor, and so he did.

An hour passed by with readings from the Bible and discussion, perhaps about what the text meant, perhaps about how to apply it personally. Even, perhaps, asking for the visitor’s thoughts, though I would imagine that the group, not wishing to create an awkward situation, probably didn’t push him to participate in an unfamiliar setting, content to let him listen in, and yet willing to let him speak should he want to.

I don’t know what was discussed, or what the passage was that was the topic of the evening, but the visitor later said that the people were very nice to him. So nice, he said, that he almost … almost … didn’t do what he had come there to do. But in the end, he did, and when he was done, the pastor and 8 others had been shot dead.

Dylann Roof had come there to start a race war; to start an uprising that would supposedly boil over into a full-blown conflict.

At this point, we can only guess what he imagined the sequence of events would be leading to that war. Certainly he had seen the news reports about riots in the streets in other cities when a white man killed a black man, so it’s conceivable that he thought his actions would create the same situation, only more violent, because unlike many of those other instances, these would be killings that were obviously pre-mediated, with no other explanation than hatred. He wouldn’t have any self-defense case. He wouldn’t be a cop who may, or may not, have thought his life was in danger. No, nothing would be murky about this. This would be a clear cut case of racially-motivated murder, possibly causing an even more violent reaction than those previously.

But all his plans were taken apart piece by piece, because of who he targeted. He targeted those who believed that you should love your enemies, and pray for those that hurt you. He targeted those who believe that the merciful are blessed. He targeted those who are told to forgive as freely as they themselves have been forgiven.

He targeted a Christian Bible study. And while he was committing those acts of hatred, of malice, of evil, he had no idea that he was also opening up the floodgates of the love that those he killed professed. Those that survived, and hundreds of others in Charleston, though undeniably hurting, expressed that love to him. A reporter covering the crowd that stood outside the arraignment had a difficult time keeping his composure in the face of such love.

Inside the proceedings, instead of acrimony and hatred, surviving family members expressed the forgiveness that the evil had certainly not expected.

I would like to note that the faith community in other cities with unrest – Baltimore, Cleveland, and others – did take a stand and tried to calm and heal the tensions in their area, sometimes meeting with gangs to come to a truce, sometimes with special services for those in need because of the riots. But because there were riots, they got the headlines, and the tweets, and the Facebook posts. But in Charleston, riots didn’t happen, so they didn’t mask what good things were happening.

So now it can be seen, and it is surprising, amazing and, dare I say, perplexing many who see the love of God in action. It’s been there, perhaps in the background, not grabbing the front page, but it’s been there nonetheless.

There are those that believe that God, or even just religion, isn’t necessary to express this kind of love. We can, so the idea goes, work this up within ourselves without any help, because the capacity is clearly there in people. I would say that, yes, the capacity is there, because we are made in the image of God, and since God is love, we too have that ability. But while we, within ourselves, might be able to approximate the appearance of such a love, it is but a dirty reflection of what is truly possible. If, instead, we let, not our love, but God’s love shine through us, that’s when you’ll see what it really looks like, and it will be surprising, amazing, and perplexing.

Some will ask, “Where was God? Why wasn’t He protecting His church?” That question has been asked many times, in many situations, throughout history. Perhaps one of the earliest examples of an answer to this comes from a man who was sold into slavery by his brothers. Through a series of events, over the course of years, he became second in command of the biggest economic power of his time. And in that position, was able to return good for evil, and save his family from a major catastrophe. You may recognize the Biblical story of Joseph, the son of Jacob. Or you may recognize the musical, “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat”. Either way, when his brothers felt extremely uncomfortable in the presence of the one they hurt, Joseph forgives them, telling them that, “You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done…” We don’t always get to see the big picture – we may not live to see the big picture – but for those who trust Him, God uses the evil to work out the good. Dylann Roof intended to start a race war. He failed because God’s people let Him shine through them.

If you’re wondering how such forgiveness and love can really happen, I have a suggestion. Somewhere near you, very likely, is a church. Now, you don’t have to jump in completely to their Sunday service. You might just want to test the waters. Try getting your feet wet at, perhaps, a Wednesday night Bible study. One of those almost stopped a gunman filled with hate. Imagine what it could do for you.

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    Jenner’s Gender; Genetics and Psychology

    The Bruce Jenner that I grew up knowing about, who was the Olympian’s Olympian back in the day, has transitioned, he says, into a woman, and wishes to be called Caitlyn. Where to begin?

    Well let’s begin enumerating what I don’t know about this. I don’t know at all what he’s going through, and I don’t want to pretend that I do. I acknowledge that my comments in this episode will come from a position of ignorance on that point.

    I also don’t know for sure, speaking as a Christian, whether or not what he’s done is a sin. I suppose that there could be something that could be found that could be said to speak to this situation, but frankly I don’t think that determination is very helpful at this point in time. It will be something that should be considered (because of all questions this bring up, that is the eternal one), but for now I have no plans to address that here.

    In fact, I don’t plan on addressing Bruce Jenner at all in this episode, other than to say that God loves you, and for whatever it’s worth, I love you and respect you, too. What I want to tackle in this episode is society’s reaction to transgenderism in general, using Jenner’s example as a launching point.

    Let me define a term first. The term is “body dysmorphia”. Wikipedia calls it, “a disorder that involves belief that one’s own appearance is unusually defective and is worthy of being hidden or fixed.” The Medical Dictionary calls it, “a mental disorder characterized by a perceived defect in one’s physical appearance or in a part of the body.” The typical examples of this are “anorexia”, where people (usually, but not exclusively, women) believe their body is too big, and “muscle dysmorphia”, sometimes referred to as “bigarexia”, where people (typically men) believe that their body is not big and muscular enough. Those are the typical examples, but the definitions point to a more general disorder where your body is not what you think it ought to be.

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      Riddle Me This Mr Lynch

      So, public tar and feathering was proper and righteous when a baker refused to bake a cake for a wedding ….

      Would a Black owned bakery be similarly treated for refusing a family baking a cake in memory of their ancestors bearing the Battle Flag of the Army of North Virginia? Hmm?

      Hypocrisy runs rampant in the public square, eh?

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        Of Sign, Symbol, and Culture

        In 1977 I was passing through Chicago with my family (I was just finished my first year of High School), we’d gotten off the train and were wandering around downtown Chicago prior to renting a car and driving up to Wisconsin to visit grandparents (both my mother and father’s family lived south of Madison in a small town and a farm … for kids, the farm was way way more fun). There was something of a kerfuffle near city hall. Seems some KKK boys were having a parade. Do you think that parade would be allowed today? I’m doubtful.

        A decade or so later, PBS had a hour long program that I recall about four small sub-cultures in retreat. French speaking Quebec and their separatist movements, the Basque, and two others which escape my memory. At the end, they had an editorial verbal essay about how cultures often go to separatism and similar gestures to maintain a cultural identity in the large wash and mix of our modern Babylon.

        Seems pretty obvious that events and symbols which evoke pride in accomplishments past are one of the obvious means of doing that. Sometimes these symbols are not quite untarnished, but it seems uncharitable in the extreme that those who hold to those symbols are not remembering the good, but the bad instead. That some evil and some insane men cling to those same symbols on account of the tarnish does not change that we should remain charitable. Read the rest of this entry

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          If You Knew Then What You Know Now…

          A number of Republican candidates for President are being asked a question that I’d like to pose to you. This is a hypothetical that is really trying to “Monday morning quarterback” decisions from the past, but let’s try this exercise.

          If you knew then what you know now, would you have invaded? Now remember, at the time, the country was run by an iron fist, a guy who was killing his own people, partly because they were of the wrong religion, but partly just to keep himself in power. He had also already shown a propensity for invading and occupying his neighbors, so this wasn’t some tin pot despot talking big but not actually doing anything.

          But it’s not just what was known before the war; would you have gone in if you knew what would happen after the war? What if you knew that, when the war was over, something even worse would rear it’s heard? And that this group would also butcher people under its control. It would have an expansionist agenda, trying to grab as much vital territory from other countries as it could.

          It’s not really fair to judge decisions of the past based on information from the present, but the media seem to enjoy posing this question to the Republicans, as though a particular answer from them, with knowledge from the present, would show that their decisions from the past were “ill-informed”. The answer to the question is of little use, but they demand an answer to it, so I’m posing it to you as well. What do you think? Should we have invaded … Germany?

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            How One-Party Rule Has Affected Cities

            A few thoughts on this particular subject.

            Chicago, Illinois; the safest city in the US because of its strict gun control laws. Heh, no, not really. It’s got some of the highest gun crime in the country in spite of, or perhaps because of, it’s strict gun control laws. Gun control is one of those things that liberals insist works in spite of the reality to the contrary.

            Here’s another: in spite of Chicago being a liberal paradise – not having a single Republican governor for over 80 years since 1931 – somehow the city’s economy is crumbling. It’s Democrats who keep insisting that they, and not Republicans, know how to bring the poor out of their situation, and believe that if we only spend enough money on a problem, it’ll get solved by government. And yet Moody’s Investor Service, which rates, among other things, the municipal bonds of cities, has downgraded Chicago’s credit rating to junk level. It also said that the city’s future outlook is negative, which I guess means that someday the credit rating could drop to “extra junk”, “junkier”, or maybe “double secret junk”.

            I’ve mentioned Detroit, Michigan in the past. They’ve had Democratic mayors since 1962; about 30 years less than Chicago, but still over half a century. And yet the economy and infrastructure have seen better days. The city of Baltimore, Maryland was in the headlines for riots over the death of a black youth in police custody, and the state of its economy came to the fore during that; an economy where poverty was still rampant. And its mayors? Only 1 Republican since 1947.

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              Baseball Silliness

              So Max Scherzer almost pitched a perfect game (stymied apparently by a guy leaning into a pitch to get a hit-by-pitch call). Now a perfect games is all good (9 innings 27 batters). You could of course improve on that.

              • Impossibly perfect game of the first degree, nine innings 27 strikeouts.
              • Impossibly perfect game 2nd degree, nine innings 27 pitches … all hit in play for an out on the first pitch.
              • Impossibly perfect game third degree. Pitchcount exactly 81 pitches. All strikes, three pitches per batter. No foul balls on the third pitch to any batter.
              • Impossible virginal perfect game, Pitch count exactly 81, all strikes no batter touches a ball.

              Any more suggestions for improvements?

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                What’s Your Opinion of Opinion Polling?

                The founder of our Stones Cry Out group blog, Rick Brady, was much more a student of polling than I, but I wanted to give a few observations of my own, such as they are.

                The science of polling the general public has had its good and bad times, and it appears it’s going through one of those rough patches at the moment. Mark Olson, who also blogs here, refers to polls as “cricket races”; basically a snapshot of where things are in a particular race, that has as much bearing on our lives as a race amongst crickets. If it’s a slow news day, release the results from a poll, and call it news.

                Some might put the word “science” in the phrase “science of polling” in scare quotes, not convinced that it’s much of a science at all. I do have some respect for those whose lives are in various statistical occupations. It seems like a black art, but, for example, one pharmaceutical client I worked for years ago had a Quality Assurance group that tested the products coming into the warehouse before they could be shipped out, and they explained quite a bit to me.  I couldn’t relate what they said now – I really can’t remember it all – but basically, given a good random sample, they could give you a good reading on whether or not the batch that just came in was good enough to ship out. Yeah, the only way to be totally sure was to test it all, but to get close enough to 100% sure without going overboard, there was a lot of science backing up their procedures.

                Sampling people, on the other hand, is nowhere near as straightforward as sampling pharmaceuticals. People can say one thing, and yet do another. Which apparently happened in a big way over in the UK recently, when the conservative Tories trounced the liberal Labor Party in national elections, gaining their first outright majority since 1992. This even though Nate Silver, the US polling expert, had a look at all the UK polls and proclaimed that a Tory win of a majority of seats in Parliament was “vanishingly small when the polls closed – around 1 in 500.”

                So much for that prediction. But the predictive value of polls is lessened when the pollsters themselves hide some of their results. It happened in the UK, and it happens quite a bit, apparently. No pollster wants to publish results that wind up being way out of line with those from other polls. No one wants to be the outlier, but that’s what happened in the UK. A last-minute poll by one group got the percentages virtually dead on to what the voting results were, but they didn’t publish it, “chickening out”, as the group’s CEO explained. It’s a herd mentality that we see in news coverage as well.

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                  Links: 2015-06-11

                  1. Your feel good story for the day. (HT)
                  2. Mr Schraub shows is partisan bent … in that it was very partisan of him that he twigged on that and not, say, birth citizenship queries aimed at Mr Cruz (or the somewhat silly NYTimes “expose” pieces demonstrating Rubio had (gasp) some parking tickets a few decades ago).
                  3. A freaking felony? Truly!! Stupidity squared.
                  4. I think what underlies this post is one of the things separating the left from right. The left thinks our civilization is robust and strong. The right knows it is not … tell me what caused the decline and fall of Rome? How do you know that won’t happen to us too? Read too the Dominic Flandry novels by Poul Anderson for a vision of life during the decades and centuries of the decline. As goes the predominance of the our Protestant work ethic and our can-do attitude about what is possible so goes our future.
                  5. Pointing out the problem with we’re not charging you with a crime, but your response to our investigation … that was criminal.
                  6. Squid farmers on Mars, “so who should have won the Hugo?” Hmm. The Martian never won. That was in the top 3 best sci-fiction novel of the last decade or two. How’d that get missed?
                  7. To cheer up the conservatives, a reminder … the failure and fall don’t happen over night.
                  8. Freedom of speech on campus … and a confused girl.
                  9. The Urkainian conflict as war as UFO.
                  10. Big data and the government. The author the linked letter has trust in the government. Look, Google and lots of big retailers know lots more than you’d expect about you and so does the government. But for myself, I’d trust Google further with that then the state. I know why Google (as proxy for commerce) wants that data. They want to sell me stuff, but not randomly, they want to be able to sell me stuff that I actually want when I actually need or want it. Just recall the recent IRS partisan attack on conservative groups and ask yourself if you really think our state can be trusted not to abuse their data, haven’t abused that trust already.
                  11. Considerations of Pacific conflict and geographical implications on the same.
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                    Scattered Thoughts on Law and Ethics

                    Take two sets of actions and deeds, in the first set we have “things which are moral” in the second “things which are legal”. There may be overlap. Observing the fights about various things in our (mostly urban/rural cultural divide for which party serves as proxy) like marriage, divorce, abortion and so on .. many if not most people confuse the two and figure what overlap there is (most killing for example) is intentional and what is moral and what is legal in a “good” society would be a very close if not exact match. This. Is. Wrong. Very wrong. It is an unconstitutional and un-American idea.

                    Here’s the thing. The purpose of the law is to structure our society to promote life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness (and happiness != pleasure but the meaning Aristotle and the like intended).  This structuring of law as constructed in our country leaves morality out of the metaphysical framework underpinning it. “Life, liberty and the pursuit …” is not the 10 commandments. It isn’t a call to act rightly. It isn’t a prescription of how to act or think. Our law is not encoded so that we will be righteous by what ever meta-ethic you or I live by. But free, alive, and able to pursue excellence.

                    This isn’t precisely true however. You notice our founders made particular exceptions for freedom of religion and the law subsequently has made a point to encourage religious practice. Many, especially of the academic left and press think religion and it’s place in our society is a relic and it’s time has passed. It might be worth noting a really good start in this discussion which shouldn’t be ignored is first to read through this discussion. Then argue from there.

                    This realization that law and morals (personal ethics) are independent has consequences. For example,

                    1. For most, what is moral should take precedence. If you must do something because it is right, you must do it even if it is illegal.
                    2. Take abortion as an example. If you think abortion is immoral, don’t do it and don’t advise those around you to do it. If you want to argue that it should be illegal those arguments shouldn’t center on how it is immoral but how it doesn’t exactly give a chance at, erm, life, liberty and pursuits to those who are among the weakest and smallest in our midst (there’s a Rawlsian argument to be made there). You could point out that excluding people from personhood based on particulars of their existence and not the ontology of their being has a very poor history of human rights vis a vis the 20th century. There may be good arguments on the other side of this question, but they are not known to me so I won’t attempt that. Similar “life &c” argument can be made with respect to most, if not all, of those things over with the rural/urban cultural divide quarrels.
                    3. Moral instruction for children, an essential responsibility of parents, is quintessential. This is the most important thing a parent can impart to their child. Why? Because the civil environment (law) does not do that. But you can’t be happy (see link above) without ethics. After all ethics can be succinctly coined as a study in what is good (and doing that). Without know what excellence is, how can you be happy?
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                      Gosh, If You Could Do That Over … (a better answer)

                      On Iraq Invasion … Answer:

                      How many iterations do I get? I mean, we know a lot now about what worked in Iraq and what didn’t. If I knew what worked I could alter my tactics and strategy and do it far better the next time. But … that might not get it quite right, can I do another iteration and fix what doesn’t go right the second time? Be kind of cool, run the Iraq war like Tom Cruise in “Edge of Tomorrow”. Gosh we could do lots of things if we could replay hundreds of times. Now you can run this both ways from the onset to do nor not to do. But when you have replay ability clearly “do” is the correct answer, because gosh, whenever you say “do” you can replay until you get it perfect. If you “don’t” then there is no action, so no replay. So apparently the question real question at hand is “would you like a perfect Iraq invasion” or “no perfect invasion”. Clearly perfection is better.

                      Follow-up on this question is to ask the questioner first what thing in his life he’d most like to redo. And perhaps as well, to suggest some of the things you’d start doing differently in your re-do.

                      That’s the “interesting” answer. Now less “clever” answer but smarter political tack, which was a path not taken, is to turn the question on your political opponents, that is to ask about decisions made by those whom you see as your adversaries whether they’d redo their decisions. Like regarding Obamacare, Libya, or the early Iraq pullout, any “redo” or second guessing there?

                       

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                        A Link (and some remarks): 2015-05-13

                        1. Syria. So a year or so ago, our President “drew a red line” in the sand taking a “hard stand” against the use of poison gas. Assad (and/or the opposition) used said gases after he said that. Turns out that “red line” meant, “let’s talk”. Supposedly back then Mr Putin hornswaggled the President diplomatically and brokered a wonderful deal which satisfied everyone. Except, now there are reports that weaponized chlorine gas has been in use for some months in Syria. Why isn’t that bigger news? Why isn’t it talked about. I don’t get it.
                        2. So the Clinton’s both of them, are scum. They’ve been involved and complicit in so many scandals and have so many items of pure greed and corruption laid to their feet that the mind boggles. Yet somehow, because “they’ve done it before” nobody except the opposition party seems to care. I really really don’t get it. I’m not saying that they need to go to jail (though that would be nice) but … that seems a very low bar. “Not going to jail” is no reason to listen to speeches or pretend you’d vote for them.
                        3. Mr Schraub (and lots of other people especially on the right … which Mr Schraub certainly isn’t … ) get affirmative action exactly backwards. Affirmative action is wrong not because it “helps” minorities at the expense of other (mostly missed minorites, e.g., Asian Americans) but because it is harmful to those it supposedly benefits. Those on the right gripe about aff/action for the wrong reasons. Read Clarence Thomas’ remarks on why he thinks his Yale law degree wasn’t worth the paper it was printed on. Or watch (or recall) the movie “Tuskegee Airmen”. The critical error by the openly bigoted people running the training squadron was that making things very very hard creates an elite unit. And how do you destroy the moral and capabilities of a group? Lower the expected standards. Aff action is wrong because it is harmful to those it pretends to help. This should be obvious to everyone observing it. So the point regarding Ms Clinton and Mr Obama gets it hind end foremost. They overcame the deleterious effects of affirmative action. This, on their part, is commendable … but any advantages they received from it is likely dwarfed by the disadvantages (again, read some Thomas on the subject and learn).
                        4. And a last snipe  at his post… Mr Schraub writes “Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton were and are every bit as qualified and meritorious as your typical President before them” … hmm. Mr Obama was less experienced and qualified as Ms Palin and as qualified as Mr Cruz and about Ms Clinton, well, we the prior point and remind everyone that for example selling US Uranium ore rights to Russian plutocrats to raise money for your PAC is the apparently exactly the kind of qualification Mr Schraub applauds. I remain ignorant of the methods and metrics people use to determine (and those on the left seem very very sure about this sort of things) how “qualified” or “smart” a politician is. As above, I don’t get it.

                         

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                          Links: 2015-05-11

                          What’s gnu?

                          1. So. Some possibly ISIS inspired Islamic fellows decided freedom of speech isn’t for them and attacked a group who purposely insulted their religion (which reminds me, if you can’t depict Mohammed with pictures why it both a common name and people with that name have pictures taken and published). Be that as it may, the usual suspects some out with remarks.
                            1. A liberal commentator invites the attacked groups leader and declares her interview to be filled with hate. Except alas, said hate is nowhere to be seen. Methinks the accuser self-labels himself as that which he accuses.
                            2. A cartoon in response.
                            3. And a column on freedom of speech (in which said cartoon was first seen).
                            4. more here.
                            5. The liberal response in a nutshell. (apparently … you can recall their not-similar reaction to, say, “piss Christ”)
                            6. Is this related or not?
                          2. Grist for the Indiana bakery discussion.
                          3. An interesting division by sex in the motives of serial killers.
                          4. A suggestion of a famous art piece’s interpretation.
                          5. Loss of credibility has consequences.
                          6. Journalistic malpractice on display.
                          7. The fine print on Obama/Kerry’s Iran centrifuge deal.
                          8. A very cool time-lapse sequence.

                           

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                            Links: 2015-04-28

                            Snippets?

                            1. A liberal ponders Baltimore, and while he professes to be optimistic certainly seems not to be. His optimism is founded on “hopefully we’ll have an exceptional leader” is his only hope having found that process and and representational liberal solutions have failed. This is hardly unsurprising as social destruction of the two atomic parent family and those discounted (by liberals) conservative values being lost trump process liberalism and representation.
                            2. My thoughts on Baltimore mirror what has been said elsewhere (including perhaps badly by the President). Even though liberals and elites think terrorism on the other side of the globe doesn’t sully the message. They. Are. Wrong. In the Middle East and, say, the Chechen mountains murdering civilians rightly invalidates your message. Do you want people to respect your right to self govern in Palestine? Then stop killing women and children with bombs. Do you want police to take more care in their jobs? Then don’t riot, steal, and destroy. One of the complaints of inner city slums is that everything costs more locally than it does in the exurbs. Guess what? You just made it even more expensive. Good work. You just bought the Baltimore police free sympathy, after all, look at what they’ve been dealing with.
                            3. The other thought on Baltimore is that this is a continuation of a retrogressive civilizing trend that’s been going on for quite some time. In the 19th century wars had a lot more conventions and rules. We’ve gone away from that and it’s not a good thing. It’s a sign of less order, less thought, and less honestly and honor. A fight between individuals (or nations) doesn’t have to be a “until you call uncle” affair, but could … if the combatants be civil decided at a stage significantly sooner. More akin to a duel, which is sometimes but less frequently, “to the death” but decided by an agreement to hold to the outcome of a symbolic struggle. Nations too could struggle via proxy, if they could honorably and honestly hold to the outcome of said proxy contest. Alas, men aren’t by and large honest anymore. Certainly not our world leaders at any rate.
                            4. Well, the liberal elite certainly have no sympathy for it. And a law to be challenged I’d offer.
                            5. In light of the NRO article about DA Chislom using his office to quash political opponents. He’s not backing down, but upping the ante. In the absence of any liberals coming to his defense, which seems to imply his position isn’t defensible, where are the cries from the left against him?
                            6. Tasting the winds of change. Mr Fernandez is not optimistic about the crises in education as typified in the recent failure of a chain of colleges in California, which if Baltimore hadn’t irrupted we’d be talking about today.
                            7. At least my kids did some free running. Those in authority which went against that Maryland couple who let their kids walk from parks to home … should be tarred and feathered and run out of town on a rail.
                            8. Actually I’d like to see more of this in general in the hospital systems, inviting friends and family to help in the care seems like a great idea.
                            9. So. Get out of Jersey when you can, I guess.
                            10. A great lady noted.
                            11. What the climate models have demonstrated very well. A succinct way of putting it, is that these models all operate under the principle that CO2 is a driver of global warming. They they all fail, demonstrates the converse, CO2 is not the driver of climate.
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                              Suitable President: Loyola and Napoleon

                              Bertrand de Jouvenel in his musings on authority and power suggests that in the executive there are two primary qualities needed. These qualities are not “either/or” type features but often one dominates over the other. Jouvenel is French, so his examples he draws from French history, and actually from one particular element of each of the titular men’s life. For Loyola he cites an (apparently) famous painting in which Loyala is seen under a spreading oak tree and with his words and example reconciling two opposing people. Reconciliation and bridging of differences is the feature that he cites for Loyola. This is one kind of leader. Napoleon he cites another painting, a heroic charge across a bridge. Napoleon (again apparently) through his charisma, leadership and bravura inspires his mean and leads a charge across a bridge capturing victory from defeat. Inspiring leadership is the second quality that we seek in our chief executive.

                              Neither alas, has been found in any measure in my lifetime in any executive elected in this great nation.

                              My suspicion is that the reason is how our electoral process has developed over the years. The qualities that are required to win the election in this country have little to nothing to do with the qualities that would serve us best in serving in that same office.

                              Fortunately we are in something like a democracy, which as noted is the worst sort of government … except for all the rest. Let’s hear it for representative democratic rule. Sucks less! What a wonderful slogan.

                              Which brings to mind another question. What two opposed qualities makes a good leader of a Church?

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