How Much Do You Have to Hate Someone Not to Proselytize?

Francis Schaeffer on the Origins of Relativism in the Church

One of My Favorite Songs

An Inspiring Song


Saturday, November 28, 2009

I Lack Passion?

Someone told me the other day that I wasn't passionate about anything.

I don't know about that. I'm sure it seems like it to some. But I think it's more a question of having pretty much come to my conclusions and settled on what I need to do.

I am pretty well convinced that at best, the United States is sliding toward European-style welfare statism and quite possibly balkanization. I really don't anticipate the situation turning around anytime soon. The only thing that could turn it around is another Great Awakening, I think.

One of the things I think I need to do is to do my best to situate myself and my descendants so that we'll be better able to ride out the next--What? Fifty years? A hundred? Who knows? Could be more than that.

We--Mrs. MOTW and I, that is--have pretty much all the material things we really need and can use. Not that there aren't little odds and ends, but truthfully, all we need is to pay off the house and improve and maintain our property so that hopefully, our children can sell the house and split the proceeds when we croak. We've got to maintain, if at all possible, our health and mentality so that we are as little a burden as possible in our old age. And we've got to finish educating and preparing the kids, not merely to make a living, but to help prepare their descendants.

The other thing I think I need to do is to do my best to pass on what I can, what I know, of the Gospel, of the thinking that lies at the roots of any government that genuinely respects and protects man's rights, and the things that have proven practically useful to me or are likely to prove useful to my descendants and others of like mind. That's part of the purpose of this blog. It's true that I also use this blog to vent, but nevertheless, knowing that nothing ever really dies on the internet, I'm in hopes that some people, somewhere, sometime, will find some of these scribblings useful.

There'll be other things I try to pass on, stuff that will not appear in this blog. Sorry. I can't share everything in this forum. But I will share the introduction to a multi-generational project very soon.

Those things are long-term. All the short-term goals pretty much relate to the long-term goals in one way or another.

I suppose this mindset might seem passionless to some. It's not, not really. It's just that I'm more oriented, now, to situating self and family for the long haul. It's a mindset that calls more for steadily glowing coals of thought than for white-hot thinking.

Ideas don't, I think, ever really die. One day, the ideas behind the American Revolution, behind the Constitution, will likely experience a genuine reflowering. And when that day arrives, whether it is, by God's grace, near at hand, or a long time from now, the MOTW family will be ready.

From We Are Doomed

I brought home John Derbyshire's We Are Doomed: Reclaiming Conservative Pessimism to peruse not so long ago. It has its high spots and low spots, places that are funny, and places where I agree and places where I disagree. There are two spots that especially, in my opinion, demand attention, and I will type fairly lengthy excerpts (if I miss a typo, you'll just have to bear with me) on the assumption that some of the folks reading them will follow the link to Amazon and buy a copy. Here's the first, on a certain problem with government education:
The optimists' faith that spending oodles of money will solve any problem is quite touching. In the case of education, though, the spend-more-money theory has actually been tested to destruction in several places. In No Excuses, the Thernstroms cover two of these tests in rdetail: in Kansas City, Missouri, and Cambridge, Massachusetts.

Kansas City is the more interesting case. The Thernstroms give it a page and a half, leaving out some of the juicier details. There is a much fuller report on the Cato Institute website, written by education reporter Paul Ciotti: Go to and seach on "ciotti."

In 1977, when the story begins, Kansas City's schools were in simply terrible shape. The city, like most others of its size (population 460, 000), had experienced white flight from the 1950s on, and the school district even more so, with even whites residing in the city pulling their kids out of the public schools. By 1977 enrollment was 36, 000, three-quarters of them racial minorities (which at that point meant mostly African Americans). The voters had not approved a tax increase for the district since 1969. In 1977 litigation commenced, members of the school board, district parents, and some token children suing the state and some federal agencies on the grounds that they had permitted racial segregation. Federal judge Russell Clark, a Jimmy Carter appointee, got the case.

After eight years of litigation, Clark gave the plaintiffs everything they wanted, and then some. He in fact ordered them to "dream"--to draw up a money-no-object plan for the Kansas City school system.

Dreaming is no problem for educationists. The plaintiffs--education activists and their lawyers--duly dreamt, with an initial price tag of $250 million for their dreams. This was twice the district's normal annual budget.

It proved to be only a start, however. Over the next twelve years the district spent more than $2 billion, most of it from the state of Missouri, the balance from increased local property taxes. Fifteen new schools were built and fifty-four others renovated. New amenities, Ciotti tells us, included:
an Olympic-sized swimming pool with an underwater viewing room; a robotics lab; professional quality recording, television, and animation studios; theaters; a planetarium; an arboretum, a zoo, and a 25-acre wildlife sanctuary; a two-floor library, art gallery, and film studio; a mock court with a judge's chamber and jury deliberation room; and a model United Nations with simultaneous translation capability. [Students] could take courses in garment desgin, ceramics, and Suzuki violin...In the performing arts school, students studied ballet, drama, and theater production. They absorbed their physics from Russian-born teachers, and elementary grade students learned French from native speakers recruited from Quebec, Belgium, and Cameroon...[T]here were weight rooms, racquetball courts, and a six-lane indoor running track better than those found in many colleges. The high school fencing team, coached by the former Soviet Olympic fencing coach, took field trips to
Senegal and Mexico...younger children took midday naps listening to everything from chamber music to "Songs of the Humpback Whale." For working parents the district provided all-day kindergarten for youngsters and before- and after-school programs for older students.
The whole project was a comprehensive failure. After twelve years, test scores in reading and math declined, dropout rates had increased, and the system was as segregated as ever, in spite of heroic efforts to lure white students back into the system.
Kansas City did all the things that educators had always said needed to be done to increase student achievement--it reduced class size, decreased teacher workload, increased teacher pay, and dramatically expanded spending per pupil--but none of it worked.
The great C-130-loads of money being air-dropped on the system also brought about waste and corruption on a heroic scale. Theft was rampant. So was overmanning: The project became a huge jobs and patronage program, with the inevitable mismanagement and scandals.

I have just (late 2008) been on, looking up Kansas City's central High School. That's the one with the Olympic-size swimming pool; the school was rebuilt from scratch at a cost of $32 million under Judge Clark's supervision. Nine percent of students are testing "above proficient" on math, against a state average of 46 percent. For communications arts the corresponding numbers are 6 percent, 39 percent.


A decade after the whole thing collapsed in grisly and obvious failure, politicians and edbiz bureaucrats are still routinely calling for more money to be spent on schools as a way to improve student achievement.
The reality is that the number one predictor of academic success is parental involvement. If parents care about their kids' education and are involved with it, they typically do better. Need I point out that in most homeschooling situations, parental involvement is at its maximum?

And as far as you ladies and gentlemen who are trusting your offspring to the tender mercies of government education are concerned, I think you are whistling past the graveyard.

Friday, November 27, 2009

The Dead Zone

I refer by the title to the zone of silence regarding "Climategate" at a local lib blog I read (Why don't I ever link to them, or quote them directly? Because whenever I refer to them here, I am saying something negative, sometimes fairly caustically.). I keep waiting, you see, for some sign from them that they've even heard of it, that they have engaged it, that they realize that it means that a frequent object of their derision, Senator James Inhofe, has been more correct in his assessment of the subject than they have been.

I'll probably wait forever, just like I've been waiting forever for them to acknowledge the existence and now-clearly-demonstrated nefarious actions and nature of favored Democratic operatives and allies ACORN, just like I've been waiting forever for them to acknowledge that just possibly, the Democratic party is just as full of crooks and liars as the Republican Party (Of course I believe the Republican Party is full of crooks and liars. Politics is unfortunately all about power, money, and influence, and where the corpse is, there the vultures will gather...), just like I've been waiting forever for them to acknowledge that the Obama administration consistently appoints communist sympathizers and other varieties of socialists to positions of power.

It's not that I expect them to spend any significant time talking about the left's shortcomings. They are libs, after all. I just can't help but wonder if there will ever be an exception to the general rule that the only thing that beats through their brains is Republicans bad! Democrats good! Probably not. The main reason I continue to read them is the amusement value their incredibly simplistic approach to national politics affords.

But I'm wandering. Here, for those who are interested in exactly why Climategate matters, is a bit from the Washington Times, via John Lott:
The story has gotten worse since the global-cooling cover-up was exposed through a treasure trove of leaked e-mails a week ago. The Climatic Research Unit (CRU) of the University of East Anglia has been incredibly influential in the global-warming debate. The CRU claims the world's largest temperature data set, and its research and mathematical models form the basis of the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change's (IPCC) 2007 report.

Professor Phil Jones, head of the CRU and contributing author to the United Nation's IPCC report chapter titled "Detection of Climate Change and Attribution of Causes," says he "accidentally" deleted some raw temperature data used to construct the aggregate temperature data CRU distributed. If you believe that, you're probably watching too many Al Gore videos.

Mr. Jones is the same professor who warned that global-warming skeptics "have been after the CRU station data for years. If they ever hear there is a Freedom of Information Act now in the UK, I think I'll delete the file rather than send to anyone."

Other revelations hit at the very core of the global-warming debate. The leaked e-mails indicate that the people at the CRU can't even figure out how their aggregate data was put together. CRU activists claimed that they took individual temperature readings at individual stations and averaged the information out to produce temperature readings over larger areas. One of the leaked documents states that their aggregation procedure "renders the station counts totally meaningless." The benefit: "So, we can have a proper result, but only by including a load of garbage!"

Academics around the world who have spent years working on papers using this data must be in full panic mode. By the admission of the global-warming theocracy's own self-appointed experts, the data they have been using is simply "garbage." . . .
I have watched with not inconsiderable amusement as the high priesthood of the religion of anthropogenic global warming has attempted to make it out as though the CRU hasn't done anything all that bad, that this is all a tempest in a teapot, that it only looks bad because the public doesn't understand the culture and slang involved.

The public--those who've looked at this material, that is--don't have any trouble understanding the main, glaring fact: the folks involved have clearly cooked and/or misrepresented the data to support their preferred conclusion.

James Inhofe was right; that little local lib blog was wrong. But I'll wait until the nether regions freeze over before they ever acknowledge that.
UPDATE: Several days later, sure enough, whilst the authors of the blog haven't bothered to notice that anything's amiss in their solipsist little world, they have jumped all over Inhofe for jumping all over generals--according to them, because they disagreed with him on climate change. And commenters, predictably, have jumped into the gap, explaining, or linking to explanations of, why hacked e-mails that basically, as Rush said today, can be paraphrased as, "If this gets out, we're screwed!" and contain all manner of admissions to having cooked and massaged the data on which the global warming model is based, nevertheless don't mean what they appear to mean.

****. I knew they'd do it, or at least that someone'd do it, but it's still stunning.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Learning to Play Go

It will not take you long, if you look around this blog (which takes a beastly long time to load, if you don't have a high-speed connection, which I don't, which has been pointed out to me by none other than Mrs. MOTW), to find that I have something of an interest in chess (if you click on the link, you will find, amusingly, that they describe chess as "the Western board game." It is probably Indian in origin...) and go.

I would not ever wish anyone to get the impression that I am any good at either. As a matter of fact, I consider myself very much the beginner in both. Perhaps slightly less of a beginner in chess, but a beginner still.

I am trying to learn these games because they serve two purposes: genuine relaxation--I don't know about other people, but for me, in order for something to be truly diverting, it must fully engage my mind--and mental exercise. They are simultaneously means of having some fun and keeping my mind sharp--or at least sharper than it would otherwise become as I age.

There are bajillions of good books on chess in English. I am currently slowly making my way through Edward Lasker's Chess: The Complete Self-Tutor. At the rate I am going, I should be done in a year or so. And then I will probably want to re-read it. It is fine. As a matter of fact, it is excellent. But it is only one of dozens upon dozens of good chess books that are available in English.

Finding the right go books has been more of a struggle. The Tulsa library has two: Cho Chikun's Go: A Complete Introduction to the Game and Kageyama's Lessons in the Fundamentals of Go. Cho Chikun is supposed to be one of the greatest go players in history, and I'm sure he is, but I frankly found his book largely incomprehensible. Kageyama's was easier to understand, in a way, but probably too advanced for a rank beginner. I got the impression that it might be a good book to come back to after I've been playing for a few years.

Recently, though, I picked up Janice Kim's Learn to Play Go: A Master's Guide to the Ultimate Game. This is what I was looking for: basically, go for dummies. I honestly think that if you don't start to "get" the game after reading this book, you are not seriously trying. People that have grown up in countries where go is a commonplace may have, perhaps, internalized the game so completely that they don't quite realize that their explanations are inadequate to some Westerners. Mrs. Kim's book is not like that. She assumes--correctly, in my case--that not only do you know nothing, you cannot see the blindingly obvious, and proceeds from there.

There are four more books in the series, two of which are already on my shelf, but it will be a little while before I get to them. Even though it takes, proceeding at a leisurely pace, less than a week to read, there is quite a bit of information in the first book, and I would suggest that anyone wishing to take up the game via this book read it, play some go (you can find links to online go servers on the Oklahoma Go Player's Association website), and then come back and re-read the book--and then repeat the process one or two more times. That is what I plan on doing, and then I will go on to the next book in the series.

You might be thinking, "MOTW, who the dickens cares?" and I don't blame you. But somebody might...

You might also be wondering, "MOTW, why are you blogging on Thanksgiving Day?" I'm not. I wrote this days ago and put it in the pipeline to be published automatically, which is what I do with an awful lot of my posts.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Fifth Quote from Liberty and Tyranny

In the Communist Manifesto, Karl Marx wrote, "In the most advanced countries the following will be pretty generally applicable: a heavy progressive or graduated income tax."
The Communist Manifesto also calls, by the way, for compulsory government education. Why this--and the tax thing--doesn't scare the mess outta people, I'll never know.

Don't you understand that the idea of a progressive income tax is to punish success? To punish people for having a dollar more than what some statist, liberal, leftist, or progressive thinks they ought to have?

Order the book here.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Fourth Quote from Liberty and Tyranny

Man is more than a physical creature. As Edmund Burke argued, each individual is created as a unique, spiritual being with a soul and a conscience and is bound to a transcendent moral order established by Divine Providence and uncovered through observation and experience over the ages. "There is but one law for all, namely, that law which governs all law, the law of our Creator, the law of humanity, justice, equity--the law of nature and of nations." This is Natural Law that penetrates man's being and which the Founding Fathers adopted as the principle around which civilized American society would be organized.

The Declaration of Independence appeals to "the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God." It provides further, "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness."


Some resist the idea of Natural Law's relationship to Divine Providence, for they fear it leads to intolerance or even theocracy. They have that backwards. If man is "endowed by [the] Creator with certain unalienable rights," he is endowed with these rights no matter his religion or whether he has allegiance to any religion. It is Natural Law, divined by God and discoverable by reason, that prescribes the inalienability of the most fundamental and eternal human rights--rights that are not conferred on man by man, and, therefore, cannot legitimately be denied to man by man. It is the Divine nature of natural Law that makes permanent man's right to "Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness."
You'll note a certain similarity between what Mr. Levin says here and what I've said about a bajillion times. Order the book here.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Third Quote from Liberty and Tyranny

The Statist veils his pursuits in moral indignation, intoning in high dudgeon the injustices and inequities of liberty and life itself, for which only he can provide justice and bring a righteous resolution. And when the resolution proves elusive, as it undoubtedly does--whether the Marxist promise of "the workers' paradise" or the Great Society's "war on poverty"--the Statist demands ever more authority to wring out the imperfections of mankind's existence.
You've noticed this, haven't you? People on the Left are perpetually convinced that the solution is more government. They might prefer to call it something else, like a more expanded program or something, but the reality is that if what they've already put in place isn't working, they blame it on someone somehow undermining their splendid plans and demand bigger programs, more spending, and more authority so that they can make things work better--and, of course, they seldom, if ever, actually do work better.

One of the most ironic things is the statist's, or Leftist's, pronounced tendency toward more government whilst claiming to fear right-wing totalitarianism. It's positively weird. Or pathetically blankin' stupid. Take yer pick.

Order the book here.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Liberal Fascism Quote #7

Then there was the inevitable progressive crackdown on individual civil liberties. Today's liberals tend to complain about the McCarthy period as if it were the darkest moment in American history after slavery. It's true: under McCarthyism a few Hollywood writers who'd supported Stalin and then lied about it lost their jobs in the 1950s. Others were unfairly intimidated. But nothing that happened under the mad reign of Joe McCarthy remotely compared with what Wilson and his fellow progressives foisted on America. Under the Espionage Act of June 1917 and the Sedition Act of May 1918, any criticism of the government, even in your own home, could earn you a prison sentence (a law Oliver Wendell Holmes upheld years after the war, arguing that such speech could be banned if it posed a "clear and present danger"). In Wisconsin a state official got two and a half years for criticizing a Red Cross fund-raising drive. A Hollywood producer received a ten-year stint in jail for making a film that depicted British troops committing atrocities during the American Revolution. One man was brought to trial for explaining in his own home why he didn't want to buy Liberty Bonds.

No police state deserves the name without an ample supply of police. The Department of Justice arrested tens of thousands without just cause. The Wilson administration issued a letter for U.S. attorneys and marshals saying, "No German enemy in this country, who has not hitherto been implicated in plots against the interests of the United States, need have any fear of action by the Department of Justice so long as he observes the following warning: Obey the law; keep your mouth shut." This blunt language might be forgivable except for the government's dismayingly broad definition of what defined a "German enemy."

The Justice Department created its own quasi-official fascisti, known as the American Protective League, or APL. They were given badges--many of which read "Secret Service"--and charged with keeping an eye on their neighbors, co-workers, and friends. Used as private eyes by overzealous prosecutors in thousands of cases, they were furnished with ample government resources. The APL had an intelligence division, in which members were bound by oath not to reveal they were secret policemen. Members of the APL read their neighbors' mail and listened in on their phones with government approval. In Rockford, Illinois, the army asked the APL to help extract confessions from black soldiers accused of assaulting white women. The APL's American Vigilante Patrol cracked down on "seditious street oratory." One of its most important functions was to serve as head crackers against "slackers" who avoided conscription. In New York City, in September 1918, the APL launched its biggest slacker raid, rounding up fifty thousand men. Two-thirds were later found to be innocent of all charges. Nevertheless, the Justice Department approved. The assistant attorney general noted, with great satisfaction, that America had never been more effectively policed. In 1917 the APL had branches in nearly six hundred cities and towns with a membership approaching a hundred thousand. By the following year, it had exceeded a quarter of a million.

One of the only things the layman still remembers about this period is a vague sense that something bad called the Palmer Raids occurred--a series of unconstitutional crackdowns, approved by Wilson, of "subversive" groups and individuals. What is usually ignored is that the raids were immensely popular, particularly with the middle-class base of the Democratic Party. Attorney General A. Mitchell Palmer was a canny progressive who defeated the Republican machine in Pennsylvania by forming a tight bond with labor. He had hoped to ride the popularity of the raids straight into the Oval Office, and might have succeeded had he not been sidelined by a heart attack.

It's also necessary to note that the American Legion was born under inauspicious circumstances during the hysteria of World War I in 1919. Although it is today a fine organization with a proud history, one cannot ignore the fact that it was founded as an essentially fascist organization. In 1923 the national commander of the legion declared, "If ever needed, the American Legion stands ready to protect our country's institutions and ideals as the fascisti dealt with the deconstructionists who menaced Italy." FDR would later try to use the legion as newfangled American Protective League to spy on domestic dissidents and harass potential foreign agents.

Vigilantism was often encouraged and rarely dissuaded under Wilson's 100 percent Americanism. How could it be otherwise, given Wilson's own warnings about the enemy within? In 1915, in his third annual message to Congress, he declared, "The gravest threats against our national peace and safety have been uttered within our own borders. There are citizens of the United States, I blush to admit, born under other flags...who have poured the poison of disloyalty into the very arteries of our national life; who have sought to bring the authority and good name of our Government into contempt, to destroy our industries wherever they thought it effective for their vindictive purposes to strike at them, and to debase our politics to the uses of foreign intrigue." Four years later the president was still convinced that perhaps America's greatest threat came from "hyphenated" Americans. "I cannot say too often--any man who carries a hyphen about with him carries a dagger that he is ready to plunge into the vitals of this Republic whenever he gets ready. If I can catch any man with a hyphen in this great contest I will know that I have got an enemy of the Republic."

This was the America Woodrow Wilson and his allies sought. And they got what they wanted. In 1919, at a Victory Loan pageant, a man refused to stand for the national anthem. When "The Star-Spangled Banner" ended, a furious sailor shot the "disloyal" man three times in the back. When the man fell, the Washington Post reported, "the crowd burst into cheering and handclapping." Another man who refused to rise for the national anthem at a baseball game was beaten by the fans in the bleachers. In February 1919 a jury in Hammond, Indiana, took two minutes to acquit a man who had murdered an immigrant for yelling, "To Hell with the United States." In 1920 a salesman at a clothing store in Waterbury, Connecticut, received a six-month prison sentence for referring to Lenin as "one of the brainiest" leaders in the world. Mrs. Rose Pastor Stoakes was arrested, tried, and convicted for telling a women's group, "I am for the people, and the government is for the profiteers." The Republican antiwar progressive Robert La Follette spent a year fighting an effort to have him expelled from the Senate for disloyalty because he'd given a speech opposing the war to the Non-Partisan League. The Providence Journal carried a banner--every day!--warning readers that any German or Austrian "unless known by years of association should be treated as a spy." The Illinois Bar Association ruled that members who defended draft resisters were not only "unprofessional" but "unpatriotic."


Hard numbers are difficult to come by, but it has been estimated that some 175, 000 Americans were arrested for failing to demonstrate their patriotism in one way or another. All were punished, many went to jail.
An' there y' have it, or at least the part that I felt like typing up. A little slice of Americana that we've chosen to ignore for--well, about ninety years now.

Now, you tell me: for all his faults, for all the accusations I heard from people--people including one of my own grandmothers when she was alive, God rest her soul--that George Bush was a Nazi, that he was going to perpetrate a coup rather than give up office (don't laugh, I heard and read this more than once during the Bush years), that he was marshalling up the Black Helicopters and so forth, did he hold a candle to what Woodrow Wilson and those aligned with him did?

I don't think so. No, that was a liberal, or a "progressive," as they often called themselves back then, and as--perhaps unwittingly--many of them are calling themselves now.

You know, just as an aside, it's been a while since I thought about the people that prophesied that George Bush was going to install himself as dictator-for-life. They were out there, you know, saying that they thought he was going to do just that.

Ain't heard from 'em in a while. I wonder if they have even the slightest sense of embarrassment.

Nah. Probably not. They're too busy calling people that say Barack Obama trends fascist "paranoid," or trying to prove that Sarah Palin's baby, Trig, really isn't hers and that this situation is somehow a threat to the republic.

And I have to note in passing that despite Mr. Goldberg's more-or-less obligatory slap at Joe McCarthy, it's pretty much beyond anything approaching reasonable doubt that McCarthy was right: the U.S. government was riddled with Soviet spies.

Order the book here.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

James White Nails It

The post is short--so short, in fact, that the only reason I don't just quote it in its entirety is the few remaining shreds of my sense of decorum--but well worth reading. Dr. White links to an article noting that homosexuals in the United Kingdom are trying to legally require churches to hold homosexual civl union ceremonies.

You think that homosexuals will be satisfied with civil unions, or even with homosexual "marriage?" I beg to differ, and suggest that you don't really understand their psychology. As Dr. White says:
I have been saying for years, homosexuals do not want equal rights. They want uber-rights. They want to silence anyone who would identify their sexual perversion as sin.


This is why there is no protection at all in the addition of "free speech" protections in hate crimes laws, etc. We need to realize they are taking things one step at a time: get the law in place, then whittle away at the protections until you accomplish your goal. Do it slowly enough not to raise too loud an alarm, but never, ever give up. And given that these people define themselves by their deviancy, they will dedicate themselves each and every day to their task.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Francis Schaeffer Spells Out Our Oncoming Doom

This was filmed back in the seventies, if I recall correctly. I only tell you that because if I didn't, you'd think someone was commenting on the state of our nation today. Listen and weep. It's not as long as it looks; the last half of the clip is mostly credits.

Summing Up Thoughts on Sarah Palin

Sarah Palin's in the spotlight right now, what with her book having come out and all, and the incredibly vicious attacks that I fully expected have commenced.

My thinking on her hasn't changed. I thought I'd go back and quote snippets from things I've written before that pretty much sum up what I think:
Just because I share many of her political ideas doesn't mean that I will ever forget that she is a professional politician. Turning anything and everything to one's political advantage is what politicians do. Fish gotta swim, birds gotta fly, and politicians never, ever forget that the whole game is publicity, sound bites, money, and getting elected.

Do I think she's the perfect candidate? Heck, no. To my mind, she comes across like a reasonably intelligent, tough-minded redneck woman, with a certain amount of basic common sense, and a grasp of history, foreign policy, and economics to match.

But I will readily admit that Sarah Palin isn't my idea of the perfect conservative. While she is clearly not stupid (despite the repeated attempts to portray her as such) she doesn't appear to be the sort of deep thinker that John Adams was. She doesn't appear to have the expertise that allowed Alexander Hamilton to write his Report on Manufactures. She's no Samuel Rutherford, nor a Thomas Reid. That doesn't mean I wouldn't vote for her; you have to compare her to who else is available, and frankly, there isn't anyone running, as far as I can tell, that I would think of as a real conservative, no one whom I would think of as particularly intellectually distinguished or extraordinarily talented, intelligent, and informed. It seems pointless to complain of Sarah Palin's lack of intellectual gravitas when comparing her to the likes of Mitt Romney and Mike Huckabee (I am not calling either gentleman stupid, merely pointing out that they don't exactly come across as intellectual heavyweights, either. And don't get me started on the intellectual heft of candidates on the Left.).

And Sarah Palin does have one thing going for her, one thing that all of us red-state rednecks can see quite clearly, and since so many commentators don't quite seem to grasp it, I'll spell it out for those folks in small words:




All Republican candidates, for example, blah-blah about the Second Amendment. Sarah Palin shoots moose, and apparently has been doing stuff like that all her life. I mean, my word, the woman pretty obviously actually likes guns! All Republican candidates blah-blah about "values." Sarah Palin cares for Trig, and actually belongs to and has always attended church--not a politician's church, but honest-to-goodness reg'lar ol' redneck churches. All Republican candidates blah-blah about small government. Sarah Palin actually tries to shrink the wretched thing. And so on down the line.

She may not be a philosophical or theological sophisticate, but she's firm and unabashed about her faith in Jesus Christ and the authority of Scripture. She may not be an economic sophisticate on par with Thomas Sowell, but she knows enough about economics to know that free markets work better than statist controlled economies. She's unashamedly and unabashedly America first. She's committed to smaller government and more liberty. She's firmly committed to the traditional family. She loves guns and hunting and darn near every non-PC point of view and activity you can name. She thinks the Constitution doesn't give government unlimited power. She's a fierce partisan for her point of view. In short, she's about what most people I know are like.

And I think what really scares the left, what really drives them nuts about this woman, is their underlying sense that there may, just may, be enough people like her left in this country to shift the country away from the direction it is currently headed, if only they can find someone to rally around.

Folks on the hard left despise people like Sarah Palin, and despise folks like me and most of the people I know. When you see how they treat Palin, you see how they will deal with me and thee, should they get a chance.
And there you pretty much have it. That's what I think, and I expect I'm not alone.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

More on Palin

I thought this, from David Harsanyi, was hilarious: can (as I do) admire Palin's charisma and roots, appreciate her dissent on the policy experiments brainy folks in Washington are cooking up and, at the same time, believe she has no business running for president in 2012.

In fact, all you haters out there motivate me to root for her.

There's nothing wrong, for instance, with The Associated Press' assigning a crack team of investigative journalists to sift through every word of Palin's book, "Going Rogue," for inaccuracies. You only wish similarly methodical muckraking were applied to President Barack Obama's two self-aggrandizing tomes -- or even the health care or cap-and-trade bills, for that matter.

The widely read blogger and purveyor of all truth, Andrew Sullivan, was impelled to blog 17 times on the subject of Palin on the same day Americans learned that the Obama administration had awarded $6.7 billion in stimulus money to nonexistent congressional districts -- which did not merit a single mention. To see what is in front of one's nose demands a constant struggle, I guess.
Something drives people nuts about this woman, drives them nuts, it seems, far out of all proportion to the way anyone else drives (or ought to drive) them nuts. I've written on the subject before, and probably will do a short recap sometime soon, if I can get the time, but, in short, I think it's this:

She's not too far off what America was like, overall, circa 1960-1970, and probably is still not too far off what, oh, somewhere between 40 and 60 percent of the public is like. Even forty percent is an awful lot of people. I think that what some people are afraid of is that as long as Sarah Palin is on the national radar, those people have someone to rally 'round, a visible figurehead, and may actually prove to be sufficiently potent to temporarily (or even permanently!) derail our slide into total statism--an outcome they find completely unacceptable.

I read one local lib blog that regularly puts on full display their complete contempt for anyone who believes the Bible, believes in traditional marriage, likes guns and respects gun rights, likes hunting, doesn't think an expansive welfare state will work, etc., despite living in the heart of a state full of folks just like this, the reddest of the red states (a fact of which I am very proud). Folks on the hard left despise people like Sarah Palin, and despise folks like me and most of the people I know. When you see how they treat Palin, you see how they will deal with me and thee, should they get a chance.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Death Threats Against Traditional Marriage Proponents?

In a way, the idea that homosexual activists would pop off with death threats against those who advocate traditional marriage doesn't surprise me. You can hardly do anything in public these days without some idiot "threatening death" to you.

Shoot, even I've been threatened with death at least once in my life. Guy called up to the restaurant where I was working and threatened to "blow my blanking head off" because of some disciplinary action I'd had to take against his wife (and our employee). I can't even remember what it was. I just remember asking him if he was aware that she'd been doing X, and I heard him turn around and ask her if she'd been doing X, and she said, "Yes," and he got back on the line with me and said he was sorry.

So, even though I'm sure there are some homosexual activists out there who would willingly kill, I'm not all that worked up about it, at least not yet. Most death threats are just some idiot venting.

What amazes/amuses me is the attitude behind it all. Throughout human history, marriage has been between men and women, by and large between one man and one woman. There have been a few instances in some cultures where homosexual relationships have been widely tolerated, but darn few where people actually referred to the participants as "married." Few enough that their existence more readily highlights the weirdness of the situation than anything else, with the upshot being that for most of humanity throughout most of history, to talk of two guys being married or two women being married would have been roughly in the same class as talking of a man and a goat being married or something. Just ludicrous.

Homosexuals in this country, for the most part, are not even interested in what we would typically think of as a married, that is, monogamous, lifestyle. Most of them are quite promiscuous and prefer life that way. You need not take my word for it. Start googling and find the average number of partners the average homosexual man has in a year. If you haven't already done this, you will find yourself wondering when they have time to work.

Seen it on display at work. I was in the restaurant business, which, if you didn't already know, is rife with homosexuals. They like it because the hours suit their lifestyles. I knew a pretty fair number of them over the years and frankly, most of them, all they cared about was getting back out to the bars for another encounter. Picturing that crowd as interested in "marriage," for the most part, is just silly.

As far as I know, in every state of the union, homosexual adults are perfectly free to shack up together for as long as they like. They can go to any lawyer and arrange, via wills and so forth, dispositions of their property very much like any married couple. Except for religious organizations, hardly anyone cares what your sexual orientation is when it comes to employment. When it comes down to it, even most evangelicals that I am aware of are not in favor of out-and-out outlawing homosexual behavior. I expect that I am fairly typical: as long as we're talking about adults, I'll maintain that it's a free country and that though I think homosexual behavior is shockingly sinful, it's nevertheless not a matter for governmental interference.

Given a situation like that, why push for homosexual "marriage"? Why, in the face of overwhelming opposition throughout the country? You must realize that every single time the issue has come to a vote of the people, it's gone down in flames (so to speak). The only thing I can think is this: homosexual activists, for whatever reason, are determined to force me and like-minded individuals to call them "married" whether we like it or not, and not to speak our minds in public about the morality of homosexuality, under penalty of law. In other words, this whole thing is not so much about homosexuals being able to get married, a state most of them are simply not interested in, as it is about using force of law to shut up their critics.

Dreadfully immature, in my opinion. But then, immaturity has long seemed to me to be a hallmark of the homosexual community.

Friday, November 13, 2009

From The Politically Incorrect Guide to the Bible

Emphasis, where present, is mine and in bold:
The most secular, rationalistic, and self-consciously non-Christian of all the Founders of the United States--the aristocratic Virginian and slave-owner Thomas Jefferson--ended up writing the most biblically charged words ever enshrined in a political document:

"We hold these truths to be self-evident," he wrote, "that all men are created equal and are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. That, to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed; that, whenever any form of government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the right of the people to alter or to abolish it."

Once again, we moderns are so brainwashed and asleep, we fail to appreciate the radical, unprecedented quality of those seventy-nine words--still often denied by totalitarians, judges, and college professors the world over.

As described in the Declaration of Independence, human rights are not privileges dispensed or withdrawn at the discretion of the State. Rather, they are gifts from God which no prince or potentate, no State or sovereign, may take away.

That is the key insight behind the American revolution, not democracy or majority rule--and it is derived not from secular philosophy, but from biblical religion.

"The sacred rights of mankind are not to be rummaged for among old parchments or musty records," said Alexander Hamilton. "They are written, as with a sunbeam, in the whole volume of human nature, by the hand of Divinity itself, and can never be erased or obscured by mortal power."

This is a sentiment as old as Genesis: God declared that he made the human being (adam) in his image (tselem) and after his likeness (damut) and gave to him authority to rule over all the earth.

This is also what St. Paul was referring to, writing to the Romans, when he said that knowledge of God can be seen through creation and his law, the knowledge of good and evil, is written on the human heart:

"For what can be known about God is evident to them, because God made it evident to them," Paul said. "Ever since the creation of the world, his invisible attributes of eternal power and divinity have been able to be understood and perceived in what he has made. As a result, they have no excuse; for although they knew God they did not accord him glory as God or give him thanks" (Rom 1:19-20).

Thus, the concept of "self-evident" truths did not originate with the French enlightenment or Rene Descartes but actually dates back at least to the Apostle Paul, writing in 60 AD.

Paul adds that, even though the Gentiles did not have the benefit of the Torah (instruction), certain basic standards of morality can be known even without special divine revelation.

"For when the Gentiles who do not have the (Roah) law by nature observe the prescriptions of the law, they are a law for themselves even though they do not have the law. They show that the demands of the law are written in their hearts" (Rom 2:14).

Modern secularists believe that the idea of a self-evident human equality that pervades the U.S. Declaration of Independence came primarily from the agnostic intellectuals of the French Enlightenment; and that the theistic sentiments expressed by Jefferson and other Founders were mere rhetoric, designed to curry favor with Christian colonists.

But nothing could be further from the truth.

While some of the Founders (like Jefferson or Ben Franklin) were not orthodox Christians by any stretch of the imagination, neither were they atheists.

They were steeped, from childhood, in the stories and values and ideas of the Bible; and most believed that, as John Adams put it, "the Bible contains the most profound philosophy, the most perfect morality, and the most refined policy, that ever was conceived upon earth. It is the most republican book in the world."

Men like Washington and John Adams, Ben Franklin and James Madison, were warriors and farmers, writers and statesmen, not parsons.

But a raw religious faith was important to them. George Washington, for example, upon taking command of the Continental Army, ordered that each day begin with a formal prayer in every unit.

"The General commands all officers, and soldiers, to pay strict obedience to the Orders of the Continental Congress, and by their unfeigned , and pious observance of their religious duties, incline the Lord, and Giver of Victory, to prosper our arms," the Order went.

As philosopher Michael Novak argues in his remarkable 2002 book, On Two Wings: Humble Faith and Common Sense at the American Founding, the revolutionary political philosophy that gave birth to government "of the people, by the people, and for the people" was based on two primary sources:
1) A simple but deeply rooted biblical religiousity that saw human rights as self-evident and "unalienable" gifts of a benevolent and almighty Creator.

2) A "plain reason" that grew out of rugged, practical experience in self-government.
Revolution based solely on "plain reason," without the moral restraint of religious experience and the fear of God in rulers and legislators, gave birth to the nihilistic atheism, cold calculation, and ultimately bloody massacres of the French Revolution.

The American Founding was different.

It was, as the Great Seal of the United States found on every dollar bill puts it, to be a novus ordo seclorum, a new order of the ages. It was a bold, unprecedented attempt to work out a system of self-government and political freedom that recognized the "unalienable rights" endowed by the Creator and bestowed upon "all" men--not just upon a favored class.

Without the fear of God that religion bestowed upon arrogant and powerful men, the Founders knew, tyranny was never far away.

"Can the liberties of a nation be thought secure when we have removed their only firm basis, a conviction in the minds of the people that these liberties are the gift of God?" Thomas Jefferson asked.

George Washington agreed.

"Of all the dispositions and habits which lead to political prosperity, religion and morality are indispensible supports," Washington said in his Farewell Address. "Let us with caution indulge the supposition that morality can be maintained without religion."

The widespread, stubborn, not always orthodox or churchgoing but sincere religious faith of ordinary Americans--that Europeans and media elites find so childish and unsophisticated--has been a hallmark of the American republic since the very beginning.

According to Alexis de Tocqueville, the French aristocrat who penned Democracy in America in 1830, "for the Americans, the ideas of Christianity and liberty are so completely mingled that it is almost impossible to get them to conceive of one without the other."
I have often been amused by people who, reading Jefferson's words in the Declaration--let's look at them again, shall we?
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal and are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. That, to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men...
are at no inconsiderable pains to explain them away. They so obviously and naturally refer to God that those who opine that the United States is without a Christian foundation must somehow explain them away or ignore them. So far, the "explanation" that I have found most amusing is the simple assertion that he must not have really meant it.

Oh. Perhaps he didn't "mean it" when it came to the rest of the Declaration, too.

But leaving idiotic explanations for Jefferson's words aside, there you have it, right there in the Declaration of Independence: precisely what I have been saying ad nauseam for months: the purpose of government is to secure man's God-given rights. That's what it's for.

Government's job is not to make you comfortable. It is not to make you financially secure. It is not to take care of your health. It is not to "spread the wealth around." Its job is to protect your God-given rights. This is not something I am making up. It's right there in one of our two most crucial founding documents.

Why so insistently hammer on "God-given rights?" Very simple: without God, you have no rights! Look yet again: endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights...
Strike out "Creator" and what do you have? endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights...
You have squat, that's what you have. Without the Creator, without God, where do those rights come from? Other men? Who gave them the authority? Who do they think they are? Do "rights" even exist under those circumstances? I think not. If other men--society, that is--determines what rights you do and do not have, ultimately, you don't have any rights. What society determines is law. If society can grant rights--"rights" to health care, for example--it can take those "rights" away.

A "right" that can be taken away--not simply ignored, mind you, but taken away--by a dictator's decree or a public vote is no right at all. It is simply a temporary privilege, misnamed so as to mislead the rubes. And a view of government that doesn't recognize the concept of God-given rights and that government's job is to protect them is a view of government that ultimately puts them at risk.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

To Answer Mr. Buchanan's Question

Well, actually, I'm pretty sure that he knows the answer, but here's the question:
There is no American Melting Pot anymore. It was discarded by our elites as an instrument of cultural genocide. Now we celebrate America as the most multiracial, multiethnic, multicultural country on earth, the Universal Nation of Ben Wattenberg's warblings.

And, yet, we are surprised by ethnic espionage in our midst, the cursing of America from mosques in our cities, the news that Somali immigrants are going home to fight our Somali allies, and that illegal aliens march under Mexican flags to demand American citizenship.

Eisenhower's America was a nation of 160 million with a Euro-Christian core and a culture all its own. We were a people then. And when we have become, in 2050, a stew of 435 millions, of every creed, culture, color and country of Earth, what holds us together then?
The answer is, of course, an idea. I, at least, think of it as the idea fundamental to America, though it was not born in America. You can quite easily trace elements of it back--at least in terms of formal political statements--to Rutherford's Lex, Rex. It is the idea that men are created in the image of God, that they have, as part of their nature and as gifts of God, certain rights that, having not been given by men or their institutions, cannot be legitimately denied by men or their institutions, and that the role of government is to protect those rights. The idea is that law is king, not that the king (government) is law.

Government's role is not to serve as an instrument of plunder, but to protect its citizens from being plundered. Government may not legitimately do whatsoever those who hold the reigns of power wish it to do. It is kept within bounds by its obligation to protect man's God-given rights.

It is, of course, an idea that follows inexorably from the pages of the Bible. It is a Christian, or at the very least, a Judeo-Christian idea. It is a very powerful idea, so powerful that I am quite sure (partly on the basis of personal experience) that it can unify a country made up of people from diverse backgrounds.

Of course, we don't teach it anymore. The worldview on which it is based is widely disparaged and ridiculed, and we attempt, now, to talk about having "rights" without having any sort of basis for them other than the authority of the majority--that is, we now act on the idea that man has the rights that society says he has, which is, ultimately, a recipe for either dictatorship or mob rule.

I can't tell you the number of times I've heard perfectly well-meaning people say, in effect, "Hey, this is America! Majority rules, right?"

Wrong. The whole point of being a republic instead of a democracy is to avoid being at the mercy of the majority, to avoid having one's inalienable rights being subject to the will of the mob. When we lose this concept, the question rapidly becomes: just how long, under those circumstances, will it take America to balkanize?

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Peggy Noonan's Diagnosis and the Big American Idea

She saith, emphasis mine and in bold where present:
While Americans feel increasingly disheartened, their leaders evince a mindless . . . one almost calls it optimism, but it is not that.

It is a curious thing that those who feel most mistily affectionate toward America, and most protective toward it, are the most aware of its vulnerabilities, the most aware that it can be harmed. They don't see it as all-powerful, impregnable, unharmable. The loving have a sense of its limits.

When I see those in government, both locally and in Washington, spend and tax and come up each day with new ways to spend and tax—health care, cap and trade, etc.—I think: Why aren't they worried about the impact of what they're doing? Why do they think America is so strong it can take endless abuse?

I think I know part of the answer. It is that they've never seen things go dark. They came of age during the great abundance, circa 1980-2008 (or 1950-2008, take your pick), and they don't have the habit of worry. They talk about their "concerns"—they're big on that word. But they're not really concerned. They think America is the goose that lays the golden egg. Why not? She laid it in their laps. She laid it in grandpa's lap.

They don't feel anxious, because they never had anything to be anxious about. They grew up in an America surrounded by phrases—"strongest nation in the world," "indispensable nation," "unipolar power," "highest standard of living"—and are not bright enough, or serious enough, to imagine that they can damage that, hurt it, even fatally.

We are governed at all levels by America's luckiest children, sons and daughters of the abundance, and they call themselves optimists but they're not optimists—they're unimaginative. They don't have faith, they've just never been foreclosed on. They are stupid and they are callous, and they don't mind it when people become disheartened. They don't even notice.
A few thoughts, just as they occur to me:

"Mindless?" I am pretty close to agreeing. Too many people--I will admit to this being true of both sides of the political aisle, though I think it is worst on the Far Left side--no longer think. They do not evaluate the facts of the current situation in light of man's nature and the historical record. Instead, they rearrange and regurgitate sound bites, trying to define the terms of the debate so as to make themselves look better. Whether they are right or wrong matters less to them than whether they can lob a zinger at you.

Yes, I definitely am aware that this thing we call America is fragile in some ways. It is very fragile indeed. Sometimes, I wonder if people really understand what America, the real America is, or was, and what it is now turning into.

I'm not unaware of the realities of cultural and racial backgrounds when it comes to nationhood. Indeed, when it talks about "the nations," the Bible isn't really talking about the modern political state at all. It's talking about what the missionaries call "people groups" today. A nation is bound together by language, by shared experiences and cultural values, by shared history and ritual--but in America's case, at least, that is not all, or was not all, it is bound together by. America, more than any other nation in the history of the world, is, or was, bound together by an idea: the idea, drawn from Biblical thinking, distilled over six hundred years or so of Scots/Anglo/American political thinking and experience, that men are created equal by and before an almighty God, that they have intrinsic rights granted by that God which cannot be legitimately denied by any institution of man, since they were not granted by and do not proceed from any institution of man. I am always somewhat pained to have to point out to modern audiences that I am not at all making this up. Our history is shot through with it. You can start with Lex, Rex and follow the trail all the way up to our Declaration of Independence, which states the idea in terms as flat and stark as those I have just used, even though penned by the most deistic of our Founding Fathers. If there is a genuinely American Idea, this is it. It is an idea big enough to allow people from widely disparate backgrounds and with terrifically different cultures to come together as a nation. No doubt having a common language, having the same heroes, telling the same stories, etc., is important, but for America, the American Idea is the most important element in national unity.

Big ideas can unify people. I have seen this over and over again. But when I say, "big," I am talking about "big," not what some idiot politician thinks of as "big," but really, genuinely and truly big. When a politician talks about big ideas, he may be thinking of universally guaranteed health care, or a particular scheme of taxation. That is not really big. Nations do not coalesce around tax ideas or health care plans. Those are not national raisons d'etre. But the idea that you--yes, you--stand in the same status before God as any wealthy man, any ruler of nations, that has ever lived? That you have the same intrinsic rights, by the nature of your being, as any other man, that those rights cannot be taken away, not legitimately, by anyone? That all men bear the imago Dei, the image of God, and can all relate to one another on that basis?

Those are big ideas. Those can provide a basis for national unity amongst people from diverse backgrounds. But we are losing those big ideas. They are not taught in our government schools. Fewer and fewer people teach them at home. Publicly mentioning them will only get you ridiculed. And as these ideas fade into the background, as fewer and fewer people appreciate them for what they are and what they do, the nation--our nation, the American nation, a nation unique in the world's history--splinters. As a nation, we no longer have a vision of man that allows us to resist the pressures of disparate backgrounds.

Yes, America is strong--strong as long as it holds firmly to the idea that undergirds it. But when that idea is abandoned, when it is no longer taught, no longer understood by the mass of people born in this country, it will be very fragile indeed.

As to the rest of Ms. Noonan's remarks, I have to agree: much of what is going on now reflects a very shallow view of history. These people seem not to have realized that there has never, not once in human history, been a nation so strong, so stable, so utterly invincible as not to be capable of self-immolation and self-destruction. They don't seem to realize that they have the power to destroy the country, or that the practices they are now advocating have greatly damaged other countries, if not destroyed them outright. They are guilty of hubris of a very high order, and they worry me.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Dreadfully Disappointed

I'm dreadfully disappointed to find that Dr. James White has not seen fit to identify me as "The Smartest Southern Baptist Alive."

I guess I'll just have to settle for being the best-looking.

Or perhaps not.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

How Delightful

Much to my surprise, apparently someone else thought this was the best line delivered in the movies in a long time. I may put this in the sidebar.

Monday, November 2, 2009

From A Scandal in Bohemia

'Quite so,’ he answered, lighting a cigarette, and throwing himself down into an armchair. ‘You see, but you do not observe. The distinction is clear. For example, you have frequently seen the steps which lead up from the hall to this room.’


‘How often?’

‘Well, some hundreds of times.’

‘Then how many are there?’

‘How many! I don’t know.’

‘Quite so. You have not observed. And yet you have seen. That is just my point. Now, I know that there are seventeen steps, because I have both seen and observed.
People are, I swear, continually doing this very thing. They look right at something, and it's as though it doesn't exist. Or, rather, it does exist, but they don't bother to notice anything in particular about it. It's as though our society has collectively refused to so much as begin to think.

I'm not telling you that I go around counting the steps on the stairs I climb. Far from it. But I am telling you that the number of times that I become aware, in mid-discussion, that my conversational partner has made up his mind without bothering to pay attention to the evidence, is growing all the time. Occasionally, they will even admit it! "I don't care what the transcript shows, so-and-so is still mean!"

Sunday, November 1, 2009

From Dr. Bruce Clayton's Shotokan's Secret

I found Dr. Bruce Clayton's Shotokan's Secret fascinating. Not that I agree with him on a great many things; I don't. He is so obviously sold on the idea that Shotokan is the ultimate fighting art, that its linear punch is so overwhelmingly powerful as almost to vitiate the need for careful targeting, that saying there is a certain amount of bias in what he writes is a considerable understatement. Also, there are some things about which, at least according to what I have heard from other sources I know to be reliable, he is simply wrong. And there are places where I know from personal experience that he is simply wrong.

On the other hand, it seems to me that there is a certain element of, shall we say, bold speculation in his writing that sometimes generates some of the most interesting insights. He asks questions like, "What tasks should we reasonably expect the martial art practiced by the Okinawan Royal Guard to be able to accomplish? And knowing that kata was the principle means by which those guards got their practice, what movements in those kata might accomplish those tasks?" In answering those questions, he has come up with kata applications that, frankly, I'm not sure I ever would have--but many of them look like they could work.

Kata's weird that way. I have seen several different methods of interpreting kata and unlocking the techniques within, and the weird thing is that all of them seem to produce at least some practical and useful techniques. Dr. Clayton's method is no exception. He writes, at one point:
The real bunkai of the Shuri-te kata is so vicious it quite takes your breath away. It breaks necks. It breaks arms. It incapacitates multiple people in a single move. It rips out eyes. It crushes throats. It destroys knee joints. It targets and breaks critical bones. It ruptures vital organs. People hiss and flinch when you demonstrate.
Bunkai, for those who don't practice karate, are the applications drawn from the movements of the kata--the dancelike routines you see people performing in karate classes. And you might be wondering, if all you've ever seen of "karate" is the stuff that kids and teenagers do, wearing pillows on their heads and hands and attempting to score two points by walloping each other upside the head with their metatarsals, if karate really can be so nastily effective as Dr. Clayton paints it.

The answer is yes. Yes, it can. I take issue with his description of those techniques as "the real bunkai," for the reality is that all of those motions have more than one application (almost the first thing I was taught was that all the movements can be applied as strikes, as blocks, and as tuite), but it is nevertheless true that some of those applications really can do those things, at least with sufficient training.

Break necks? Yes, you can find neck breaks--or at least movements that can effectively break necks--in the kata.

Break arms? Yes. Mostly at the elbow. Elbows are not all that hard to break. What is difficult is overcoming the resistance of the muscles around the elbows, the muscles that are protecting the elbow joint itself. But there are ways...

Incapacitate multiple people in a single move? I suppose it might depend on what you mean by "incapacitate." But Dr. Clayton does give at least one example, and I have seen more than a few demonstrations on Youtube of people tying two, or even three people up in knots with martial arts techniques.

Rip out eyes? Of course you can.

Crush throats? You can. Might not need to. Simply punching the throat might very well send it into spasms severe enough to make your opponent pass out.

Break knees? You kidding? Of course.

Rupture vital organs? I don't know how easily, but I do know that if you know where an organ is, and can hit darn hard, an ability that classical karate certainly purports to develop, you can hit it hard enough to really hurt. You might not even have to rupture the organ. There's a nerve right around the kidney that will certainly get an attacker's attention, for example. Hit that with the tip of your thumb, and "rupture" isn't exactly necessary.

One of the things that, to my mind, characterizes realistic applications is that people really do shudder, or "hiss and flinch," when you start showing them. When you've got a real application, you don't really have to convince people that it would work. They can see it, and it's so obvious--"intuitively obvious," as my own instructor put it once--that contemplating it will send a shiver down your spine. They may never have thought of putting a hurt on a human being that way, but once they've seen it, there's a part of them that's thinking, "Sweet Honey Mustard! What demented freak thought that up?!"

And the answer is: the sort of demented freak that was determined to go home alive and mostly unharmed to his wife and family. Period.