Activities

At the port down the hill from where I live, boats have beautiful Christmas light displays. Last Saturday I watched them go in and out after providing security at a bookstore while Santa and Mrs. Claus were visiting.

Saturday was also the lighting of the crabpot Christmas tree.  They stack up crab pots right by the place that processes crabs,* wrap some greeneries around it, and it looks like a Christmas tree.  I see it right now a mile away.  The tree had already been lit several nights, but this was the ceremonial lighting.  Crabpots with Christmas lights can also be seen throughout Ilwaco’s streets….

Sunday I went to church and one of the worship leaders obliquely refered to Herman Cain’s departing the Presidential race due to allegations of adultery or sexual harassment or whatever it was.  Something about “people who present themselves as leaders, but don’t walk the walk.”  I know there’s some kind of tax exempt status thing, but I wish churches would kick this habit of oblique political references.  “May your will be done on Tuesday.  Wink, wink.”  It happens in every church I go to. 

Look, at the time of the American Revolution, pastors were railing from the pulpit every week about the rights of man and whatnot.  If you think a political issue is that morally important, go ahead and talk about the issue once in a while, overtly.  But that doesn’t mean you have to involve yourself emotionally with a particular political party or candidate, even one who goes to great lengths to convince you he has been Born Again….

Speaking of church, my pastor and I had lunch at Chen’s this Tuesday.  When he alluded to the idea of a relationship with Jesus, I asked him how a good relationship with Jesus differed from doing the right thing.  He mentioned a book, something about good versus great, about the idea of going beyond basic moral requirements.  Still, I wonder, how would you really know if you had a relationship with Jesus or not?  You could do something great and not have one, right- and you could do great things and forget to be good in the process.  Abraham, Isaac and Jacob certainly had relationships with God the Father; Jacob even wrestled the Old Man to the ground.  Jesus actually hung out with Peter and those guys all the time, so they certainly had a relationship with him….

We’ve got Christmas decorations all up.  Our house turns out to go well with Christmas decorations.  Outside we have lights up and six lit candy canes.  The neighbor’s dog killed a birdie the other day.  He also got another neighbor’s crab.

Christmas party is tomorrow.

* or whatever it is you do with crabs

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Chinese Media on Syrian Protests

I found it interesting to see how Xinhau is reporting on Syria:

As fresh tensions were palpable between government forces and armed groups in the flashpoint city of Homs, some 2,000 Syrians gathered on Saturday evening for a candlelight vigil at a main square in the capital Damascus, in a show of solidarity with President Bashar al-Assad and in memory of the victims of the nearly nine-month-old unrest.

The villain here is “unrest” and instability, whose “victims” are those the regime supporters are commemorating.  The piece doesn’t villify the rebels themselves, however, just the state of unrest.  The style reads like a Western report, objective in tone but clearly advancing a perspective.

Al-Assad has lately said that some 1,100 policemen, security agents and military personnel had been killed by the alleged terrorist groups in the country. However, the United Nations put the death toll in the past nine months at as high as 4,000.

Here Xinhau glosses over the fact that Al-Assad is counting only the regime dead, while the UN is counting (possibly exclusively) the rebel dead.  With the “alleged terrorist” remark, the paper continues to avoid vilifying the rebels and preserves its objective tone, but implies that the regime’s allegations are worthy of being taken seriously.

 

 

Jacques Barzun on Burke

I have just read the only explanation of Burkeanism I have seen that makes any sense to me*:

The greatest political thinker of the late 18C, Edmund Burke, had demonstrated that stabel governments depend not on force but on habit– the ingrained, far from stupid obedience to the laws and ways of the country as they have been and are.

It follows that to replace by fiat one set of forms with another, thought up by some improver, no matter how intelligent, ends in disaster.  To expect such a scheme to prosper is unreasonable because habits do not form overnight.  Change is inevitable and often desirable, but it serves a good purpose only when gradual…

– Jacques Barzun, From Dawn to Decadence

Burke in the hands of those insufferable Burkians (Russel Kirk, for instance) turns politics into something poetically beyond and more wonderful than the rational, as though it participates in a Pascalian transcendence of reason.**  In Barzun’s hands, it is nothing of the sort; politics, tradition, forms of government, and conservatism are a means to an end, a liberal end even, rather than ends in themselves. 

I’d like to be able to comment on who is interpreting Burke correctly (I suspect it’s Barzun, because people’s followers are always taking them too far)***, but I still haven’t gotten through the first chapter of Reflections on the Revolution in France that Hannah got me last Christmas.  (I want to; I’ll keep trying)Old Edmund rambled endlessly.  Eighteenth century writing style is no excuse; Madison had an eighteenth century writing style, but he also knew he had to persuade before his reader needed to go out and milk the cows, so he bloody well got to the point.

* Possibly including Burke’s own, but that I haven’t gotten through.  See below in text

** Pascal: “The heart has its reasons, which reason does not know.”  That I agree with.

*** In Burke’s case, the attraction is he allows you to say “ah HA!  Your argument is based on lowly reason.  You lose!”

Herman Cain Comes to Hillsdale

Aside

The New York Times, covering Herman Cain’s appearance at Hillsdale, attempted to read handwriting on the wall in his tepid reception:

There were no ovations or chants of his name. Many in the audience were students at Hillsdale College, a school in a politically conservative county in southern Michigan, west of Detroit.

This of course comes at a time when Cain is reassessing his candidacy; the reporter noted that Cain did not discuss said reassessment, nor give enough specifics to shore up his foreign policy credentials, which is probably one of his goals.  But he’s talking to college kids, not supporters!  Newt Gingrich could drop by, and Hillsdale college students, conservative though they are, would not start chanting his name.  Maybe they would cheer a few anti-Obama one-liners, but even there he’d probably have the most success with the old donor crowd, and there’s no indication they were there.  The only politician I can think of who could conceivably get major applause at Hillsdale would be Paul Ryan- he’s spoken there, but I don’t know what the response was.  Ron Paul would bring out a few fans and opponents.  That’s really it. 

As for the residents of the “politically conservative county in southern Michigan” (who have nothing whatsoever to do with the college being conservative), I’m sure a number of people dropped by because there was a Presidential candidate in town, and the world’s most famous fair hadn’t started yet, but I can count on one hand the number of residents who would care enough to have a primary preference at this point, and for all I know none of them are Cain supporters.  The response, as compared with other events packed with his supporters, doesn’t tell us anything about how badly Cain’s candidacy is reeling.