When it comes to fiction—in print or in film—I vigorously avoid reading reviews, or even summaries of the story, because I want the author to have the full pleasure of unfolding his tale to me personally. That’s been a very difficult practice to maintain with the book I finally decided to read this weekend: Life of Pi by Yann Martel.
I bought the book so long ago, the page edges have yellowed ever so slightly. I skipped seeing it in the theaters because I much prefer to read a story first. But the movie keeps creeping up higher in my Netflix queue, so I rescued it from my “frivolous” to-read pile (as opposed to the variously sorted to-read piles of “the great books,” “scholarly studies,” “popular political writings” and the extremely dusty “beginning Latin”). I wish I hadn’t waited so long.
I’m barely a quarter of the way through it, just been introduced to the various characters and themes, but so far, I’m finding it very conservative in an oddly quirky, Tea Party-ish kind of way. (Religious conservatives of a fundamentalist or orthodox nature might be off-put by Pi’s pantheism—devoutly practicing Christianity, Islam and Hinduism, simultaneously, to the dismay of his priest, imam and pandit and the bemusement of his nonreligious parents, all to whom he explains he just wants to love God. But the manner in which Martel writes about religion through the eyes of Pi is very respectful, espousing fundamental beliefs and heralding Pi’s wish to be religious even in the face of mockery and attempts to stop him.)
This surprises me because, even though I haven’t read all the glorious reviews of the book and film, I know most of them had to have been written by liberals. That makes me trepidacious that later in the book, suddenly Pi is going to reject religion and go on a tirade against it. How else could liberals love it? But then the book starts with the warning that the tale “will make you believe in God.” So I read on to get to the bottom of this perplexing mystery.
But it’s not just in the area of religion that I find the book to have conservative tendencies, but also in political philosophy about capitalism. It’s here that I came to a passage that I just had to stop and record.
Pi’s father runs a small zoo in India. While not politically active, he is no fan of Indira Ghandi’s socialist policies, and when she began her harsh crackdown and ruling by decree, he had enough. He decided to uproot his family and business and move to Canada. Martel sums up his rationale beautifully:
People move because of the wear and tear of anxiety. Because of the gnawing feeling that no matter how hard they work their efforts will yield nothing, that what they build up in one year will be torn down in one day by others. Because of the impression that the future is blocked up, that they might do all right but not their children. Because of the feeling that nothing will change, that happiness and prosperity are possible only somewhere else.
He’s writing about India in the 1970s, but it’s amazing how apt that description is for so many people across America today in the 2010s. For some in states like California and Maryland, where the governments are determined to soak the money makers and businesses to fund their progressive folly, they have the freer states to which they can flee.
But when looked at from a national perspective, as our government tightens the yoke on its productive citizens and progressives howl for even more government control, where can the anxious move? As America is transformed into a second-rate European socialist barnacle on the Earth, where is that “somewhere else” where happiness and prosperity are possible?
Divorce is hard. Feelings remain raw for years over the broken dreams and plans that had been made that will now never be. It’s one thing if a couple can just go their own separate ways, building separate lives and building little walls and fences that can protect the heart. But when the couple shares children and both want to be active participants in those kids’ lives, the lives remain intertwined, the protective barriers prove to be porous.
And so it seems to be the case with the divorced lives of Mark and Jenny Sanford. But even with their attempts to find a family harmony, a way for them all to feel happy and fulfilled, they’re doing so in a fishbowl despite their best efforts to work things out privately. I feel for them, having every stumble put under a microscope of people who don’t know them and would prefer to use their pain and struggles for their own political benefit.
Out of that fishbowl sloshed news on Tuesday that the Sanfords would be going to family court in May to address an alleged trespassing charge arising out of the home visitation limits set by their sealeddivorce decree. Two things are evident: one, none of the Sanfords–Jenny, Mark nor the four children–wanted the public sticking their noses into their private lives; and two, someone for political purposes with no concern for the Sanfords obtained (possibly illegally) the sealed family court record and released it to the public (again possibly illegally) to harm the Sanfords as much as possible.
In her statements, Jenny Sanford said: “It is a private matter. The documents are real, but it was my understanding that the documents would remain sealed, along with our divorce agreement….I am doing my best not to get in the way of his race. I want him to sink or swim on his own. For the sake of my children, I’m trying my best not to get in the way, but he makes things difficult for me when he does things like trespassing.
In his statement, Mark Sanford said: “I did indeed watch the second half of the Super Bowl at the beach house with our 14 year old son because as a father I didn’t think he should watch it alone. Given she was out of town I tried to reach her beforehand to tell her of the situation that had arisen, and met her at the back steps under the light of my cell phone when she returned and told her what had happened….out of respect for Jenny and the boys, I’m not going to have any further comment at this time.”
I feel for Jenny and I feel for Mark. I can see both of their sides, but most of all, I can see it’s none of my business how they decide to work it out. I just wish them all comfort and peace, happiness and health–and I wish them privacy in their private lives.
I’ve been pleased to see that Elizabeth Colbert Busch herself has had the integrity to only say “no comment” in response to media inquiries to the content of the Sanfords’ sealed divorce and family court records. Breitbart.com reports: “Sanford’s opponent, Elizabeth Colbert Busch was herself party to a very contentious divorce years ago. She was even found in contempt of court for “willfully” ignoring court orders and held in a county jail for 6 hours. Divorces do not often bring out our inner-angels.”
But as with Mark Sanford’s struggles with divorce and custody, I don’t care about Elizabeth Colbert Busch’s travails in the same arena. It’s their private business that has little to nothing to do with how they will serve the Constitution and the voters of the South Carolina Lowcountry.
It’s obvious that the opponents of Sanford have nothing beyond slime-ridden, ill-gotten personal attacks to combat his stellar public voting record. None of the despicably leaked contents of the sealed family court records alter my opinion that Mark Sanford is by far the superior candidate to represent the Lowcountry. It does not shake my belief that I can count on him to vote to save America from debts and deficits and weak defenses. I will still vote for Mark Sanford for Congress on May 7, and I urge all other 1st District voters to do the same.
All right. Let’s just jump straight to the main—seemingly only—argument against electing Mark Sanford: his affair. I’m not going to rehash all the details or make excuses for him. I was devastated. But the statehouse press conference where he stepped up to the plate and poured his heart out and out and out planted a kernel of forgiveness in my heart, because unlike other politicians that give a made-for-camera bite-the-lip-and-give-a-sniffle apology, I knew Mark Sanford was completely sincere and extremely humbled. No one could possibly have given that presser and been acting. It wasn’t typical politician.
I was willing to wait and see if his words of sincerity would translate into action—and what I saw was Sanford try to ease out of the limelight as much as possible, letting everyone take potshots at him unanswered, letting everyone vent their venom, anger and disappointment, as he went about what was important to him: trying to repair and resolve the relationships in his life out of public view. When he would emerge into the spotlight, however briefly, he would be asked the inevitable question about the affair, how could he have done it, and every time, he would answer anew with deep reflection, sincerity and humility—never lashing out at others or trying to make excuses, never acting like “c’mon, I’ve already answered this.” Time and again, his actions matched his words. Over time, I fully forgave him.
Here is a man that has had a very public fall from grace, such a spectacular fall and with such circumstances that I believe it was a once-in-a-lifetime screw-up. I actually trust that he has worked to put his life back together in a way that assures me it won’t happen again. He is ready to move on, and so am I along with a multitude of #SC1 voters.
While he has been a big enough man to bear all the slings and arrows hurled at him, he hasn’t been too big to still humble himself before us and ask for a second chance, in an extremely personal way. Mark Sanford needs us. He needs us to give him the chance to fully redeem himself, and I think that makes him even more beholden to us in a deep, almost spiritual way. I believe he has something to prove to us now, to make things as right as he can possibly make them in this lifetime. We could be vindictive and withhold redemption from him, make it so that no amount of effort to regain our trust would ever be good enough, but I don’t think his sin comes anywhere close to deserving that punishment. I’m willing to give him the chance to go the next step and make amends to us, because South Carolina’s 1st district needs him. America needs him.
When he was in Congress from 1995 to 2001, he actually returned a quarter of a million dollars to the US Treasury every year, which he had personally slashed out of his Congressional office’s operating budget. This was money allocated to him, approved by voters to spend, but he took it upon himself to protect the voters further, pinching every penny and looking after voter wallets.
This attitude was also reflected in his Congressional voting record, making him ranked as the most fiscally conservative member of Congress by both Citizens Against Government Waste and the National Taxpayers Union.
Then, as a two-term Governor of South Carolina, when Obama came to office and was shoveling our money out of the doors of the White House, Sanford was the first governor to reject the stimulus money–$700 million of it. This is important not only because he was standing on his fiscal conservatism principles (and withstanding the onslaught of leftist and media howling), but by his very act of stepping forward and having the courage to lead on it, other governors around the country were emboldened to follow his lead, to compete to see who could be declared the most fiscally conservative of the fiscal conservatives.
Wouldn’t it be a great thing to have that repeated over and again in Washington–contests to see who can spend less instead of the quest, even by Republicans, to spend more? It takes bold leadership, someone that can withstand the pressure to cave, to do this. It’s something Bostic has no record of doing, and no record of even claiming to be interested in doing it. (His campaign mantra has become “Sometimes you just have to say yes” as they jeeringly call Sanford “Mr. No.” When it comes to the insatiable appetite that Congress has for spending our grandchildren’s tax dollars and Chinese loans, I want Mr. No casting my vote any day.)
And Sanford is not afraid to take on his own party. While Boehner and the House leadership keep telling us that they’ll get us a better deal next time every time they cave, Sanford is one that won’t cave. The Republican-dominated South Carolina legislature and he had some mighty famous battles, with Sanford constantly vetoing their spending bills and forcing them to override them to pry the money out of the SC coffers. (Understand that and you’ll understand the background of the trumped-up “ethics charges” his opponents love to tout.)
Due to Sanford’s storybook record of reigning in state spending, the CATO Institute ranked him as the most fiscally conservative governor in America. (Can Bostic come anywhere close to these prestigious accolades? No.)
And the Tea Party needs Sanford in their ranks. Not only because he would be a solid vote with them, if not a leader. They have had difficulty in getting leadership to go their way, mainly because so many are freshmen and sophomore backbenchers. Sanford, however, by virtue of his previous three terms in the US House of Representatives will immediately reenter Congress with seniority over nearly 60% of his colleagues. He will be hard to ignore, and in a position to press the Tea Party perspective.
The Bostic Record
Personal injury lawyer Bostic presents himself as a Christian family man. I believe him. Most of Bostic’s support is coming from the extreme-wing of the religious right, whose sole focus is on Sanford’s divorce with much less concern about spending reductions and liberty issues. In fact, their tactics have been cause for alarm by some, including the leader of a local Tea Party group. (As noted in today’s Morning Jolt from Jim Geraghty at National Review, Bostic describes himself as a creationist, but declines to elaborate on how he defines that. If some GOP are worried about Sanford being promoted to the general election because of the national media jokes about the Appalachian Trail, just wait till they sink their teeth in on creationism.)
As you can tell from the above, I’ll leave people’s faiths to themselves. My focus is on our country’s debt and spending, and it is in those areas that things give me pause with Bostic.
First, while Bostic served on Charleston County Council from 2000 to 2008, its spending increased 25%–significantly outpacing inflation and population increase. Bostic argues that Charleston County voters themselves voted for the increase. I reply, yes, but he went along with it and voted for every single big-spending budget. He championed no cost-cutting measures, and some complain that he even added in projects such as the long-running I-526 extension boondoggle without subjecting it to voter comment or diverted tax revenues to his own pet projects, such as the Greenbelt Plan.
Bostic has also refused to timely file his FEC disclosure form indicating the amount and sources of his income. He has filed for an extension that will put this knowledge out of reach for the runoff Republican voters but will be laid bare for general election purposes. How do voters know what’s in it, especially since he deems it too complicated for his CPAs and law firm to be able to figure out? What kinds of nasty surprises await us? Both Sanford and Democratic challenger Elizabeth Colbert-Busch managed to get their forms in on time.
During his eight years on Charleston County Council, Bostic also missed an average of 20% of its twice-monthly meetings. The Bostic campaign took great offense to Sanford’s noting this during their first one-on-one debate, with Bostic saying that his wife suffered from cancer twice during his tenure, implying he had to miss county business in order to tend to her needs. Quite understandable, of course.
Patch reviewed the minutes from 11 of the meetings during Bostic’s time on council. Those minutes are attached to this article. On nine occasions he was either was out of state, out of the country or out of town. On two occasions his absence was unexplained.
His attendance ranges from 67 percent in 2005 to 93 percent in 2001. Most years on council it ranged around 80 percent.
When another media outlet asked the Bostic campaign to confirm the absences were directly related to Mrs. Bostic’s illness, they declined to respond. The Huffington Post also notes that the indignant tweets that his son, actor Daniel Bostic, tweeted after the debate (and served as fodder for various right-wing blog attacks on Sanford) have since been deleted.
North Charleston Patch added that his son, Daniel Bostic, tweeted: “Not gonna lie – I’m still infuriated over Sanford attacking my dad for missing council when my mom was dying.” As of Friday afternoon, the tweet was no longer on Daniel Bostic’s account.
The broad picture here is that Bostic has left the #SC1 voters with many questions: on his finances, on the issues, his beliefs and principles, on whether he can withstand the withering attacks that would come his way should he advance to the general election. He’s asking us to just blindly trust him. Bostic’s record is full of secrets. With Sanford, we know all his secrets.
On top of that, Bostic has a history of not showing up, and when he has shown up, he has voted for bigger budgets and said he would support background check gun legislation and a Constitutional amendment to make traditional marriage the law of the land (does he really believe that, with some states already approving gay marriage, an amendment could ever get ratified? or does he just think it sounds pretty to low-info voters?). Worst of all, he’s said he wants to be non-partisan and work across the aisle.
If he’s been so fearful to let the voters see how his positions contrast with Sanford’s, how will he stand up to politicians in Washington that are going to want him to just shut up, sit down and vote the way they tell him to?
We know Sanford will have the fortitude to stand up for us, against both Democrats and Republicans. He’s been there in the heat and glitz of Washington; he knows the games played and how not to get played. This is no time to be sending a rookie in during the middle of the game. We need someone that can be a strong voice, have some seniority and lead others to vote the right way.
The Closing Argument
There’s an old story about the 1884 presidential race between anti-corruption fiscal-conservative New York Governor Grover Cleveland and the Republican Senator from Maine, James G. Blaine. Blaine made his status as a devoted family man a centerpiece in his campaign, and his campaign had the dirt on Cleveland and an illegitimate child Grover had fathered out-of-wedlock years before but had supported financially.
The Blaine campaign taunted him with the slogan “Ma, Ma, where’s my Pa? Gone to the White House. Ha, ha, ha.” The scandal was embarrassing indeed.
Yet, when it came to soberly assessing the race with logic instead of emotion, one observer noted (as related in Irving Copi’s classic text Introduction to Logic):
Since Cleveland has a terrific public record but a blemished private life, and Blaine has a storybook private life but a checkered public record, why not put them both where they perform best—return Blaine to private life and keep Cleveland in public life.
The lousy reporting on the congressional race in South Carolina’s 1st District for the seat vacated by Tim Scott (whom Governor Nikki Haley named to replace Senator Jim DeMint, who retired to head the Heritage Foundation) has reached a nadir of facts and truthfulness. In place of honest reporting, national audiences are treated to half-truths, innuendos and outright lies. Reporters and bloggers that have little knowledge of South Carolina politics or Lowcountry issues repeatedly pop off with downright laughably misconstrued “facts” to arrive at opinions that have little basis in reality.
Let’s take just one example to illustrate my point. From the illustrious Slate Magazine, we have king of the Journolist, Dave Weigel, doing his darnedest to tear down Mark Sanford’s whopping 53 to 40 lead over challenger Curtis Bostic.
Here’s the opening paragraph to Weigel’s gem of corrupt, lying propaganda:
Last night, the two Republican contenders for South Carolina’s open House seat finally debated one-on-one. Mark Sanford hadn’t bothered to attend every primary debate. He had a clear path to a runoff berth, and he eventually won 37 percent of the vote as a team of munchkins split the rest. But Curtis Bostic, the conservative former Charleston councilman who eked into the runoff, had worked all of the GOP’s low-profile events and debates. He was tested, ready.
Pure baloney, from start to finish. One of the chief complaints against Bostic in #SC1 is that he has not been showing up to events, and has been refusing to debate. Mark Sanford has been at these events, eager to answer any and all questions. But don’t take my word for it. Let’s look at the publicly available record (easily searchable by esteemed journolisters such as Weigel himself) at the Charleston daily newspaper, The Post and Courier. Here’s the newspaper’s archive search engine. (Unfortunately the search results use temporary one-time URLs, otherwise I would provide convenient links to each article for you.)
Regarding a candidate forum on February 12th before 150 members of the Charleston Metro Chamber of Commerce, just as the quick sprint race was starting, the paper notes: “16 of 20 candidates – from the Republican, Democratic and Green parties – sat elbow to elbow on a stage inside a Charleston hotel.” The paper reports what attendee Mark Sanford said about “the one issue where [the candidates] diverged the most,” immigration, especially on Lindsey Graham’s amnesty plan:
Former Republican Gov. Mark Sanford said he didn’t support the plan.
But we never got to hear the position Curtis “Sometimes You Have to Say Yes” Bostic took on Grahamnesty that day. Why? Because, as Weigel could have seen in the paper: “Those candidates who didn’t appear Tuesday include Sullivan’s Island businessman Keith Blandford, former Charleston County Councilman Curtis Bostic, state Rep. Peter McCoy and Democratic candidate Ben Frasier.”
Okay, maybe Weigel’s opening could have just been a minor error, if Sanford then hid the rest of the campaign, resting on his name recognition, as Weigel implies. But no. Let’s check in on the other two forums to see who was there. If you took Weigel at his word, I think you’ll be surprised:
In the Post and Courier story on March 1, regarding the forum attended by both candidates Sanford and Bostic, it was a good thing Bostic showed up because in the midst of much agreement by all 15 candidates there, “Only engineer Jeff King and former Charleston County Councilman Curtis Bostic indicated clear support for instant background checks for gun purchases.” So if Bostic’s wildest dreams were realized and he made it to the floor of the US House, he would be Mr. Yes and vote with the Democrats against the NRA and Lowcountry gun owners.
Then we have the March 7th forum hosted by the Republican Liberty Caucus. Fifteen of the 16 GOP primary candidates appeared. Guess who showed up? Mark Sanford. Guess who didn’t? That’s right. “Only former Charleston County Councilman Curtis Bostic did not appear.”
That was the last debate prior to last night’s post-primary debate. Clearly someone gave Weigel intentionally wrong facts that he lapped up without bothering to check, or he made them up out of whole cloth, weaving a little fantasy tale for low-information voters.
[Update 3/29/13 6:20pm: I forgot to mention that Bostic has also declined to participate in a couple other one-on-one post-primary debates, including a second one by the RLC.]
Now, let’s move down in Weigel’s piece of fiction. He rates Bostic’s performance as just “okay,” while noting Sanford’s was superior. But this is just the setup to smack Sanford down again:
He was okay. Sanford absolutely outplayed him. It took nearly an hour, past a long digression about whether the candidates should do a Lincoln-Douglas style debate (the primary is in four days!), for an audience member to ask about “the elephant in the room.”
“In 2009, you broke the trust of the people of South Carolina,” said the questioner. “How do you reconcile redemption with the costs of your personal decision, which could have compromised the state and/or the party?
I don’t know what debate Weigel watched, but it wasn’t the one last night at Porter-Gaud School, where moderator David Webb, not an audience member, asked Sanford the question, as noted by the Post and Courier, The State and local journalists on Twitter. (Oddly, Weigel still repeats Webb’s quote verbatim, while attributing it to someone else.)
He closes his short and bloody piece by bookending Sanford’s response with this:
This was a friendly way to ask the question. An unfriendly way might bring up the scandal (pretty much forgotten now) of South Carolina paying for Sanford trips that turned into trysts. But a “how can we trust you” question? Easy for Sanford.
Important question, and I suspect one that I’ll wrestle with at one level or another for the rest of my life. An old timer took me aside and said, you know, if you live long enough, you’re fonna fail at something. And I failed. I failed very publicly. But, you know, in the light of failure, you know, I guess you have a choice to make. This sermon, this Sunday, he said: Do the events of your life define or refine your life? And so, in the wake of my failure, you sort of push through to finish your term. I went down to our family farm, about an hour south of here, and I had an awfully quiet and very spiritual year. And to a degree I refined it. I wallowed in it. I struggled with it. And you go through this incredible soul-searching. You probably do more soul-searching on the way down than on the way up.
Well, of course you do! This string of Dale Carnegie blather got Sanford some mild applause.
One can only presume he’s being sarcastic with his parenthetical saying the Sanford scandal has been largely forgotten. Otherwise, he must be living on another planet.
But that last line of his post is the most preposterous. “Mild” applause. See, Weigel and company would prefer that Elizabeth Colbert-Busch face a weak, relatively unknown candidate (especially outside of Charleston County, and the congressional district spreads over five counties, from the upper reaches of Berkeley County down to near the Georgia line at Beaufort). But even they know that it is extremely unlikely that Bostic could win, so when it comes down to the one issue they can use against Sanford, they are desperate to hide the deep reservoir of forgiveness that Sanford has from Lowcountry voters, stemming not just from his past political record of service to them but in his humble approach to them since his fall.
How odd that local media (no cheering section for Sanford) found it worthy to note the rousing, loud, approving sustained applause that Sanford’s answer generated:
Sanford gets rousing applause for answer to trust question. #sc01debate
There you have it. Four short paragraphs and two quotes, and Weigel gets it all wrong. Well, except for his assessment that Sanford outdebated Bostic. The rest is pure hackery and lies.
So if you read other similar tales of Sanford not giving it his all to reach out to voters or not getting a good reception in response, be very, very skeptical. Check to see if it’s written by anyone that knows South Carolina, the Lowcountry and its people. If not, they may just be weaving you a fairy tale to suit their political purposes.
Update 3/29/12 8:15pm: David Weigel has conceded that he made errors in his Slate article and says that he will make corrections. The Slate post currently reflects a very small, but still very wrong update, which Weigel tweeted to me that he had made “earlier” but took a long time to show up.
@prupaine Corrected that earlier today, took a while to show up.
In it, you’ll note that in the original post, he merely ripped out the second sentence that had said Sanford hadn’t shown up: “Mark Sanford hadn’t bothered to attend every primary debate.” As a result, his post now begins by only referring to Sanford as “he,” without saying who “he” is. [And he left in the sentence saying Bostic went to all of them.]
In his italicized update, Weigel says “Bostic, too, skipped forums,” still directly implying Sanford missed some (I’ve asked him to name which ones, as I am unaware of any). His clever wording also implies that Bostic showed up more often than not. He went to one, and skipped all the rest until last night.
I was going to inaugurate Caturday videos at PrudencePaine.com today, but with CPAC going on, there’s too much good video to pass up.
So here’s CPACturday video. No, that doesn’t work. Here’s three of my favorite conservative women getting catty with the GOP establishment and/or the Obamas. Enjoy!
Phyllis Schlafly lays out some hard-hitting lines here. Unfortunately, it sounds like the room had cleared out after Sarah Palin left the stage just moments before. If you missed it, here’s a chance to see it (along with the introduction by Steven Crowder):
This week’s thought-provoking interdisciplinary topics: mythology and religion.
In my reading today, this passage criticizing a mythology theory by Max Müller, who deemed mythology a “disease of language,”* spoke to me:
“Nomina, not numina! [Mere names, not divine powers!] How could one say such a thing about the gods of pagan polytheism, who move us time and again exactly because of their strong personal character? Indeed, were Zeus and Wodan, Indra and Donar [Thor] no more than empty names? They were true gods—-one could almost say of flesh and blood–so human were they in their imagery, so persuasive in their doings. They demanded veneration because of their powerful intervention in life; awe and confidence, fear and love were felt for them in accordance with their power and character. Mythology is not a disease of language; it is a reality immediately apparent to man; it has its being in all that is limitless and enigmatic in nature or in himself.
Max Müller’s theory demonstrates once more the gap that lay between nineteenth-century man and the sundry faiths he knew existed. To the extent that modern man’s soul detached itself from Christianity, to the extent that Christianity was allowed to deteriorate into a mere moral lore as the core was taken out of its dogma and the sense for its mystery got lost, to that extent also man’s understanding for other religions disappeared. It seemed to him that these religions were so naïve that they could not have any connection with deep human experience. Max Müller’s theory makes abundantly clear that he never fathomed belief.”
The Dutch folklorist Jan de Vries wrote this back in 1961 in his book The Study of Religion. Moving from his European vantage point, we now advance 50 years to today. American atheist activists have spent the intervening years fighting and shrieking and clawing to remove any inklings of Christianity from the public square so as to not have their rigid, ideological, intolerant sensibilities offended. They’ve been remarkably successful, replacing Christianity with their religion: an utter absence of any sense of spirituality in the public arena.
They’ve been so successful that many children who grow up in areligious homes (ones not necessarily opposed to religion or spirituality, but not practicing any themselves) have little chance to come in contact with religious opportunities or to even know how much of it still survives in private realms.
I may no longer be a believer myself, but I worked at educating myself on the various religions, both as a child and an adult. I’m thankful for the religious training I received as a child, as it gave me a foundation in morals. Most of all, it gave me an ability to respect others’ religious beliefs—even when they seem far from my own. When others mock or belittle someone for their faith, my religious education makes me irritated, if not indignant (almost as if I were being attacked too) at the intolerance.
And so to read de Vries saying that when one has no religion, one loses the ability to understand those with religion, I can’t help but agree. The evidence is all around us. Hostility towards religious persons (or even those that just believe in a religion) is rampant in media, entertainment and academia.
I also can’t help but wonder if de Vries had Sigmund Freud’s Civilization and Its Discontentsin the back of his mind as he wrote this as well, seeing as how Freud began the book marveling over and misunderstanding a friend’s comment that religion is based in a feeling of being eternally connected to the whole universe—an “oceanic” feeling. Freud then proceeds to try to figure out this feeling he says he has never experienced and cannot understand. He ultimately concludes that it’s not him that’s deficient, that well-adjusted psychologically fit people would not have this feeling, and therefore it proves that religious people are just really screwed-up neurotics.
This is an all-too-brief summary of the screwed-up Freud that I should expound on later. I bring it up here because it so fits with de Vries criticism of Müller; Sigmund Freud himself said he could not fathom belief, and we have gotten the same result de Vries explained above.
“Intellectuals” have long used pseudo-science devoid of any proof beyond the hypothesizing of a pompous cokehead to actually deny something to which billions of people can attest (even non-believers such as myself) to then claim those billions are just all intellectually and psychologically inferior and must conform to the “intellectual” view or be forever ridiculed and derided.
Tolerance doesn’t necessarily require respect for someone else’s beliefs. To respect someone’s beliefs requires understanding someone’s beliefs.
From there, it’s courtesy, not tolerance, that tells one it’s impolite to make fun of another’s beliefs. Tolerance merely requires us to not try to force our superior beliefs down someone else’s throat.
* I’ve not yet personally read the writings of Max Müller, a 19th-century philologist who was instrumental in creating the field of comparative religious studies. Therefore, I take at face value de Vries assessment of Müller’s theory and familiarity with faith, primarily because my launching point is not Müller’s thoughts, but de Vries’ take on them.
It is with a great sigh of relief that I note the end of this dreadful year. So much potential for happiness and prosperity got crushed every time there seemed to be hope.
But tomorrow is another day, a brand-new start. It’s our chance to pick up broken dreams, dust them off and polish them up…and get down to the hard (and enjoyable) work of making them come true.
So a toast to everyone on the eve of leaving the bad behind and stepping into the future wiser and more determined than ever. It’s up to us to make our own health, wealth and happiness a reality. I think we can do it, with a little help from our friends.
Following the 2012 election which saw Barack Obama re-elected as President of the United States, after his economic policies increased the national debt to $16 trillion and grew food stamp and Medicaid rolls to the highest they have ever been, it is clear that the American voting public has little understanding of economic issues or concepts.
Therefore, the Prudence Paine Papers introduces a new category: Economics With Prudence.
Here we’ll provide quick takes on economics issues of the day and seek out the best economics learning tools available on the Internet. To maintain a free nation, we have to fully understand that government money doesn’t magically appear out of the air or a politician’s promises. It’s a real thing (even if the government does create mass amounts of it out of paper and ink) and it has real consequences that affect the lives of real citizens of all income-levels.
To set the starting point, let’s mark where we are economically as a country with a tidbit from a National Review Online column by Mark Steyn, titled “The Edge of the Abyss”:
In the course of his first term, Obama increased the federal debt by just shy of $6 trillion and in return grew the economy by $905 billion. So, as Lance Roberts at Street Talk Live pointed out, in order to generate every dollar of economic growth the United States had to borrow about five dollars and 60 cents. There’s no one out there on the planet — whether it’s “the rich” or the Chinese — who can afford to carry on bankrolling that rate of return. According to one CBO analysis, U.S.-government spending is sustainable as long as the rest of the world is prepared to sink 19 percent of its GDP into U.S. Treasury debt. We already know the answer to that: In order to avoid the public humiliation of a failed bond auction, the U.S. Treasury sells 70 percent of the debt it issues to the Federal Reserve — which is to say the left hand of the U.S. government is borrowing money from the right hand of the U.S. government. It’s government as a Nigerian e-mail scam, with Ben Bernanke playing the role of the dictator’s widow with $4 trillion under her bed that she’s willing to wire to Timmy Geithner as soon as he sends her his bank-account details.
If that’s all a bit too technical, here’s the gist: There’s nothing holding the joint up.
The situation is dire.
Before we can solve the problem, we have to understand the problem. We’ll try to provide that information in as simple a manner as possible. No math degrees required.
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If you have a question about economics that you would like to have answered, you can post it in the comments section, or submit it directly by filling out the contact form.
I’ve had to temporarily disable the post that contains all of the #JustABlogger Electoral Votes Contest official entries because I’m having server issues and am having to test various things to locate the cause of the problem. That post contains over a hundred images, so it’s taxing the system while I’m testing.
I hope to have it back up shortly. I may divide it into multiple posts to allow for easier viewing too.
In the meantime, I’ll be back in a few minutes with a chart added here for you…if all goes well and I don’t accidentally take the whole site down again. *fingers crossed*
Here is a chart of all of the official entries, sorted according to Romney electoral vote estimates, in descending order.