Monday, April 25, 2016

The rock bottom criterion for a presidential candidate that Trump doesn't meet

There is one rock bottom criterion that should be applied to all presidential candidates. If you want to be president, you can be a Republican or Democrat, man or woman, Black or White, short or tall, old or young, rich or poor. But if you do not know what form of government we have, then you have no business running for the nation's highest office. 

Donald Trump (and apparently the rest of his family) do not seem to have a clue that we live, not in a pure democracy, but in a Constitutional republic. They are apparently under the impression that no procedure for electing a president is legitimate unless the process for doing it is directly democratic in nature.

Hence Trump's criticism of the delegate process in the Republican (and Democratic) Party. Trump doesn't like the delegate apportionment process because when he wins a state, he doesn't get as many delegates as he thinks he should get. This is the guy who, for example, only got 45.7 percent of the popular vote but got 100 percent of the delegates?

When he got all these delegates, were the other candidates calling the system rigged? If he thinks the system is rigged because delegates aren't assigned in proportion to the popular vote, is he going to give those delegates to the other candidates in proportion to the percentage of votes they received?

Don't count on it.

Do these people not realize that when it comes to the general election, they will not be involved in such a process? Do they not realize that they will be elected, not directly by the people, but by delegates to the Electoral College? And that that's the way the founders set it up? And that the founders were justifiably suspicious of a pure democracy and that all the checks and balances that they put into our republican form of government were to avert the dangers that were implicit in the direct kind of democracy that Trump and Co. seem so enamored of?

And why in the world are supposed conservatives like Tucker Carlson and Pat Buchanan backing Trump up on this?

I'm sorry, but if I'm given the choice between Jefferson and Trump, I'm picking Jefferson every time.

The problem (from Trump's perspective) is that he doesn't like the rules each state party has set up for selecting a president. And he's calling on the national Party to change the process.

Now let's get this clear: He's wanting to nationalize the presidential election process in the Republican Party. Is that a very conservative thing to do? Can we look for more of this approach when he becomes president? If he doesn't like things that states do, is he going to have the federal government force them to change it?

Heck, if he's going to do that, then why NOT elect Hillary?

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

"Why Should Christians Read the Pagan Classics?" A Highlands Latin School Lecture this Friday

If you are in the Louisville or even Lexington area, you may be interested in Highlands Latin School's Community Lecture this Friday: "Why Should Christians Read the Pagan Classics," with special guest speaker Louis Markos. 

Admission is free and open to the public.

Dr. Markos is the author of numerous scholarly books, including Lewis AgonistesHow C.S. Lewis Can Train Us to Wrestle with the Modern and Postmodern WorldOn the Shoulders of Hobbits: The Road to Virtue with Tolkien and LewisApologetics in the Twenty-First CenturyHeaven and Hell: Visions of the Afterlife in the Western Poetic Tradition, and Pressing Forward: Alfred, Lord Tennyson and the Victorian Age

He has also produced several lecture series for The Teaching Company, including “The Life and Writings of C. S. Lewis,” and “Plato to Postmodernism: Understanding the Essence of Literature and the Role of the Author.”

Just as importantly, he is a popular and engaging speaker.

In past years Highlands Latin School's Community Lecture Series has featured speakers such as Tracy Lee Simmons, Peter Kreeft, Christopher Kopff, and Ralph Wood.

Join us for this informative and enlightening discussion on why it is important for Christians to have a familiarity with the Greek and Roman classics. For more information, please click here.

Just in case you wondered whether Donald Trump knows we live in a constitutional republic (He doesn't)

Just a question: How can we trust that Donald Trump is going to nominate Supreme Court justices who respect the Constitution when his own rhetoric betrays an almost complete lack of respect for our republican form of government?

Not only does Trump himself, on a daily basis, advocate purely democratic processes in the electing of a president--processes which the founders themselves shunned in institutions like the Electoral College--but he has now deployed his equally ignorant sons to articulate the same anti-Constitutional principles.

On Sean Hannity's radio show yesterday, Donald Trump, Jr. that the delegate selection process in the Republican Party presidential nomination process was a sign that we are "not a democracy anymore."

Um, yo, Donald, Jr., we have never lived in a democracy. We live in a republic. A republic has a lot of democratic elements in it, but is representative all the way down. In fact, there is no aspect of decision-making in America's republic that is anything other than representative. No one gets together and directly votes in any decision made by government. Not the executive branch (whose chief executive is selected by the Electoral College, which Donald Trump must really hate), not the Congress (whose members, like Republican delegates, are free to defy those who elected them), and certainly not the judiciary.

Some of these offices are directly elected, but no decisions are made except by representation, directly (as in the House of Representatives and the Senate (after the 17th Amendment)) or indirectly (as in the Supreme Court).

The Republicans have a delegate selection process that is also representative and no one who wants to change it because it is representative in nature should have any pretensions about being in favor of the American form of government.

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

What Obama's education chief knows that many "conservative" education policymakers don't

One small sliver of light in an otherwise pretty dim Obama administration has been the people heading the U. S. Department of Education. Arne Duncan, who was far from perfect, was at least willing to take on the teachers unions and push charter schools.

Duncan's replacement is John B. King, Jr. I don't know much else about him, but his first comments as Secretary of Education indicated that he is in favor of, get this, "a well-rounded education." Get out!

He is also against the Cult of Testing that plagues education from sea to shining sea. 

King's remarks place him in stark contrast to the many voices on the Materialist Right who want to shun the arts and humanities in favor of math and science. If you listen to prominent Republican policy voices on education, it is clear they think STEM is the answer to our education problems, when, in fact, the chief education problem is that we are not passing our culture on to students--a culture that is best passed on in our history and literature.

I'm sure King, who was the head of New York State schools, has other beliefs I would not be quite as sympathetic toward, but his one idea--that education should be broad--puts him head and shoulders above the mindless STEM rhetoric we are constantly hearing from people who clearly got a poor education in the arts and humanities.

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Why I'm supporting Ted Cruz for president (and wish Crump was running)

Even though I am a conservative Trump detractor, I'm not sure I would feel any more comfortable in a gathering of other such people than I would among Trump supporters.


Because half the reasons the people who say Trump is not a conservative would, outside of neoconservative circles, be considered reasons that he is a conservative, and the reasons he is really not a conservative are reasons that the new, hip, politics of what's-happenin'-now, socially liberal Republicans doesn't really want to talk about any more. 

Talk about a Surrender Caucus.

The two primary reasons given by Trump detractors that he is not a conservative are, first, that he is an economic populist, and, second, that he is not a foreign policy expansionist. This is the reason, for example, that Pat Buchanan supports Trump: Buchanan ran against George Bush, Sr. on these very issues.

The problem, of course, is that Trump is largely right on a large part of both of these issues. Trade deals have cost American jobs, and the Iraq War was a mistake—and one we should not make again.

To say that these are not conservative positions is to betray a blithering ignorance of historical conservatism. The political movement that began with Edmund Burke and today can claim a figure like Pat Buchanan has no sympathy for the Religion of Democracy or the Religion of the Free Market. Conservatism has always balanced an acknowledgement of the macroeconomic realities of the free market with the microeconomic realities of real people, and has always believed (as Buchanan once said) that we are a republic, not an empire.

Contrary to what all the Rush babies out there seem to think, conservatism is not a political ideology. An ideology is a political religion. It seeks salvation in the political realm. It looks at elections as eschatological events with the potential to usher in the Millenial Kingdom. This attitude should be left to the liberals. Instead, we have conservatives (people like Sean Hannity come to mind) who are just as politicaly utopian as liberals: If we could just establish a society in which there was a completely free market—or one in which America rules the waves (and the fields and mountains), then all would be bliss. 

But it is supposed to be liberals, Richard Vogelin pointed out, who "immanentize the eschaton," not conservatives. This is secular religion and no conservative worthy of the name could embrace it. And yet many who claim the title do.

When it comes to social issues it is as Michael Barone has said: Trump "speaks conservatism as a second language he hasn’t bothered to master." He doesn't need to speak conservativese when he talks about shipping jobs off to foreign countries or opposing American imperial foreign policy because conservatives just don't talk about these things, except to defend them on the basis of "free trade" and "exporting Democracy."
But he does talk this way when it comes to social issues, which is why he made the blunder about punishing women who have abortions. He just didn't know the issue well enough to know that that is not the pro-life position. It's also why he talks very little about the marriage issue. And its why, when he talks about being a Christian, he sounds like someone who just fell off the theological turnip truck.

I'm not opposed to Trump because he's wrong on all the issues; I'm opposed to Trump because he's a less intelligent version of Willy Stark, the Huey Long-like protagonist of Robert Penn Warren's All the Kings Men, a basically decent person deep down who discovers the usefulness of political populism, the use of which for seemingly noble purposes corrupts him in the end.

This is the dilemma for traditionalist conservatives like me: If we could create our perfect candidate, he would have about half the qualities of Trump and about half the qualities of Cruz. Let's give him a name: "Crump."

Crump would have the following Trump characteristics:
  • Masculinity (e.g., throwing reporters out of press conferences, and talking back to them before he does; taking no guff from others running for the same office, refusing to kowtow to the Approved Opinions, etc.)
  • Opposition to Political Correctness (e.g., bearding the feminists)
  • Opposition to trade policies that result in job loss for Americans
  • Opposition to nation-building foreign policy
  • A willingness to defy the establishment
Crump would also have the following Cruz characteristics:
  • A functioning brain
  • A mouth that will cease operation before something idiotic comes out of it
  • A principled opposition to abortion
  • A principled opposition to same-sex marriage
  • A willingness to defy the establishment
Problem is, I can't have Crump. I must settle for either Trump or Cruz. So I have chosen Cruz and here's why:

First, the good aspects of Trump are the things that this country can still have even if Cruz wins and does something else by hopefully finding a candidate with better foreign and economic policies later. Besides, we're not in danger of any new, unnecessary war anytime soon, partly since the Iraq War is still fresh in our memories (we'll need a better candidate 20 years from now, when everyone has forgotten the last time our nation-building efforts failed).

Second, the good aspects of Cruz are things that the failure to secure will ruin everything else. The culture of death and the anti-marriage movement are things that will destroy the culture if not quenched. You can talk about all the foreign policy and all the economics you want, but if we lose the concept of the value of life and we end up with a culture in which most children are raised without a father or a mother, then we're hosed. It's over. Bring on the next civilization because this one's finished.

Oh, Crump, thou Blessed Hope. Whence art thou? Thy people fail for lack of hope of you. In the meantime, thy people (or at least this one) shall support Ted Cruz.

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Hypocrisy Alert: Bruce Springsteen, call your record label.

Excuse me while I extract myself from the saccharine self-righteousness of the stories I've been reading about businesses and celebrities who are boycotting North Carolina and Mississippi for their Political Incorrectness.

In addition to the hypocrisy of punishing people they disagree with under the label of tolerance and diversity, they have added another level of insincerity to their hypocrisy portfolio by boycotting whole states that engage in discriminatory behavior--or what passes for discriminatory behavior among the fevered ideologues who have taken over the culture.

Here's Brandon Morse at RedState on the sad condition of the liberal cultural schoolmarms now wagging their fingers at other people for violating the new moralistic tolerance standards:
PayPal decided they weren’t going to build a global HQ there, even though they have HQ’s in places like Singapore, which arrest gays on site just for being gay.
And then there's the Boss, who has willingly let himself be Blinded by the PC Light:
Bruce operates under the Sony label, who does business in countries where you can be jailed, or even killed for being gay. Is Bruce going to drop Sony in solidarity with the freedom fighters? If he’s that into moral grandstanding, then that would be his next logical move, right?
But moral posturing doesn't really involve any logic. It's just a cheap way to make yourself feel like you have really struck a blow for some revolutionary progressivist principle. It doesn't cost them a thing and it gets you applause among your progressivist friends.

The Classical Reason for Calculus

From my post today at Exordium, the blog of the Classical Latin School Association:

 In a recent opinion piece in The Wall Street Journal, Tianhui Michael Li and Allison Bishop question the utility of teaching calculus in high school. The reason? There are other fields of mathematics better suited for preparing a student for the job market.

... The irony is that classical education, whose purpose, along with passing on a common culture, is to train the mind, is the only philosophy of education that can provide a justification for calculus. Why study it? Because it will help a student to think better.

Read the rest here.

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

If Trump can't conduct a competent campaign, how can he conduct a competent administration?

Charles Krauthammer on Trump, who, after telling us how great will be the people he's going to hire to run things in his administration, is whining because of how incompetent are the people he's hired to run is campaign.

NEWS ALERT: Founding Fathers Rigged the Democratic System

It was revealed today that the Founding Fathers manipulated the system for electing a President through the establishment of a Byzantine electoral process that shut voters out.

Known as the "Electoral System," the process set up by the authors of the Constitution involves a corrupt, anti-democratic process that ignores the popular vote and instead requires states to send delegates to the "Electoral College." The process is so rigged that someone could win the presidency who did not receive a majority of the popular vote.

In fact, come to think of it, the whole idea of a republic is anti-democratic. I mean, having to elect representatives to some political body instead of everyone just voting directly? C'mon.

In any case, the revelation of the nature of the process yesterday caused Donald Trump to cry foul because ... 

Oh, wait. Hmmm. Actually the national electoral system has been known for a long time. 

Actually it was the Colorado Republican electoral system—which also works on a representative, not a directly democratic basis—that he got upset about when it resulted in an organizational schooling by Cruz.

Never mind.

Monday, April 11, 2016

Controversial NC religious freedom law saving the state from over-the-hill rock stars who really need to retire anyway

Already North Carolina's religious freedom law is benefiting the state. First Bruce Springsteen canceled a concert date there and now Bryan Adams has now followed suit in Mississippi, which has passed another law deemed unacceptable to the Tolerance Police. If the trend continues, these states will have completely rid themselves of the problem of aging, overrated rock stars who really should have retired years ago continuing to perform way beyond their expiration date.

Several years back, Springsteen did the Superbowl Halftime Show. At one point in the performance the sixty-some year old rocker did his patented stage slide toward the camera. It was not exactly graceful and probably had him bedridden the next day, with massive doses of Advil coursing through his veins.

I remember my wife furrowing her brow, shaking her head, and saying, "He's way too old for that."

Speaking of aging rock stars, how much longer can the Rolling Stones continue to perform? Keith Richards really should have died a long time ago. In fact, I suspect he really is dead, it's just that nobody has bothered to tell him yet. 

Then there's acts like Kiss and Alice Cooper, whose members no longer need to wear makeup in order to look scary.

And will someone please tell Boy George that he's no longer a boy (or girl, or whatever he was)?

Not only that, but if Iggy Pop takes his shirt off one more time, they're going to have to pass a law—one a whole lot more punitive than the one North Carolina just passed. It was shocking when he did it back in the early 70s, but it's shocking for an entirely different reason now.

No rock band should be allowed to perform in concert whose members, in addition to having to practice prior to a concert, must also be exhumed.

I'm not terribly familiar with Adams (then again, he's a Canadian, why should I care?). Looking at his date of birth, I see that he qualifies for inclusion in the category of "Rock Stars Who Really Need to Grow Up And Stop Embarrassing Themselves."

Kentucky had our chance to be included in the list of places these people would not come this past session. But SB 180 didn't make it through the Kentucky House. It's worth trying again next year, if only to be rid of this cultural nuisance.

Gay rights groups in doublethink mode over new state laws

There's currently a national dust-up over two types of laws that are cramping the style of LGBT groups who want to impose their views on everybody else and bully religious people in the process. 

The first are religious freedom laws, that, say critics, will result in discrimination against gays  which is wrong because, as one commentator said today on NPR, they were "created that way."

The second are bills requiring people to use the bathroom facilities that correspond to their biological sex. We can't have these because it would discriminate against "transgendered" people, who have the right to decide what gender they are.

So one law is wrong because people are created with a certain gender. The other law is wrong because you can decide what gender you are despite how you are created.

We could call these mutually exclusive position examples of Orwellian doublethink, but that's probably considered unacceptable toofor undoubtedly conflicting reasons.