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Retired Lt. General Daniel P. Bolger does a commendable job launching a preemptive strike against the push for more “boots on the ground.” He makes the case that “The surge in Iraq did not ‘win’ anything.” He explains the allure of myth making around the failed surge.

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Mon Oct 13, 2014 at 06:45 PM PDT

The tide has turned.

by Glenn Melancon

Having read the entire “Relatio Post Disceptationem,”  I am struck by its embrace of, rather than its rejection of, the Catholic tradition.  It is a tradition that has shown incredible flexibility and adaptation over 2000 years.  The Catholic Church is not a fundamentalist church.  Over the last 40 years, fundamentalists have tried to deny that tradition, ardently fighting the reforms of Vatican II.   Pope Francis is simply revitalizing a tradition that recognizes perfect often stands in the way of the better.

According to “Relatio Post Disceptationem,” the problems in today’s society are individualism and hedonism.  In other words, when confronted with the question, “Am I my brother’s keeper,” too many people around the world answer “No.”  While this may make Ayn Rand smile, it makes Christ weep.  Families teach us that we are not alone.   Our actions can either lift up or tear down those around us.    Families are the first to teach us to feed the hungry, cloth the naked and care for the sick.   “Relatio Post Disceptationem” makes clear that any form of family is better than the Obectivist world of Ayn Rand.

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Fri Sep 13, 2013 at 02:38 PM PDT

“If I were the Devil…”

by Glenn Melancon

If I were the Devil, I would say
Blessed are the rich for theirs is the Kingdom of God.
Blessed are the well feed for they have worked hard.
Blessed are the comforted for they deserve every penny.
Blessed are the merciless for might makes right.
Blessed are the well dressed for they understand fashion.
Blessed are they that use government to force their religion on the weak for they are pleasing.
Woe to you who are poor for God has cast you down.
Woe to you who hungry for you are too lazy to feed yourselves.
Woe to you who are suffering for you don’t have sense enough to improve yourself.
Woe to you who are ragged for you have no eye for beauty.
Woe to you who show mercy for you are too stupid to understand power.
Woe to you how show respect to those who understand God differently for you shall rot in hell.

And then there is Paul Harvey.  

http://youtu.be/...

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Thu Oct 18, 2012 at 08:41 AM PDT

Stand Up for Susan Rice

by Glenn Melancon

I have not seen any story condemning Governor Romney for his slander against Ambassador Susan Rice.  In the debate he said, "I think you have to ask yourself why didn’t we know five days later when the ambassador to the United Nations went on TV to say that this was a demonstration. How could of we not known"

In fact she did not mislead the American people.  She did not blame demonstrators for the attack.  Here is what she said.  

RICE: [O]ur current best assessment, based on the information that we have at present, is that, in fact, what this began as, it was a spontaneous — not a premeditated — response to what had transpired in Cairo. In Cairo, as you know, a few hours earlier, there was a violent protest that was undertaken in reaction to this very offensive video that was disseminated.

We believe that folks in Benghazi, a small number of people came to the embassy to — or to the consulate, rather, to replicate the sort of challenge that was posed in Cairo. And then as that unfolded, it seems to have been hijacked, let us say, by some individual clusters of extremists who came with heavier weapons, weapons that as you know in — in the wake of the revolution in Libya are — are quite common and accessible. And it then evolved from there.

We’ll wait to see exactly what the investigation finally confirms, but that’s the best information we have at present.

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Yesterday afternoon, Lander Bethel presided over a memorial service for Doug Johnston, son of Glen and Christina Johnstone.  It was a beautiful service down by the creek and under the trees.  The cloud cover lowered the temperature, making the slight breeze cool to the touch.  Lander had found a bagpiper to play that haunting, yet calming, sound as a motor cycle association lined the perimeter with American flags.  Doug had been a Captain in the United States Army, and the cyclists had come to pay their respects.

I always enjoy listening to Lander talk.  I say talk because he doesn’t “preach.”  He has a soft voice that makes you feel like you’re sitting on the couch next him or sitting by a camp fire on a starry night.  Lander chooses his words carefully; bringing home a truth that you knew in your heart but never had the words to say for yourself.  

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Tue Jul 03, 2012 at 06:00 AM PDT

"Obama has cooties!!!"

by Glenn Melancon

As I listen to conservatives cry and whine every day now, I have come to the conclusion that their message has narrowed.  Gays and guns don't scare Americans any more.  Americans have rejected the conservative gods of wealth and war.  Obamacare IS constitutional and moving forward despite 30 years of packing the court with ideologues.  

The conservative message has been reduced to "Obama has cooties!!!  EEEEWWWWWW!!!"

"Cooties is, in American childlore, a kind of infectious disease. The term may have originated with references to lice, fleas, and other parasites. A child is said to "catch" cooties through any form of bodily contact, proximity, or touching of an "infected" person or from a person of the opposite sex of the same age. Often the "infected" person is someone who is perceived as "different" and bears some kind of social stigma: of the opposite sex, disabled, someone who is shy or withdrawn, someone who has peculiar mannerisms, etc. The phrase is most commonly used by children aged 4–10; however, it is also used by many others older than 10."

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In a 1984 interview John O’Sullivan asked Friedrich Hayek to explain the contradiction between the reality of English freedom and his argument that economic planning leads down the Road to Serfdom.  Sullivan pointed out that since World War Two, the United Kingdom had adopted “increasing control over industry, over planning, over education, over the provision of welfare, and yet the people in this country don’t feel any less free.”  Hayek responded, “I did never say, as it is alleged, that once you go down this track, you are bound to go along to the bitter end.”[1] Just ten short years later, however, this popular mis-characterization of Hayek’s thesis persisted.  Gerald O'Driscoll, director of policy analysis at Citicorp and a senior fellow of the Cato Institute, told an audience gathered to dedicate an auditorium in honor of the Austrian intellectual, that “Hayek's thesis in The Road to Serfdom is that one intervention inevitably leads to another.” [emphasis added][2] Clearly, there is a disconnect between the ideas of Hayek himself and the popular understanding.  The roots of the disconnect stretch back to the arrival of the Road to Serfdom in America.  Conservatives in the United States, not only found a simplistic explanation for the rise of European totalitarianism, both Nazism and Communism, but also a tool to attack the foundation of New Deal policies.  Like their counterparts in the United Kingdom, ordinary Americans felt free, and American conservatives took it upon themselves to raise the alarm about the inevitable threat of government intervention.  Reflecting back on the American popularity of his ideas and the shallowness of that popularity, Hayek said, “Both sides talk about my book.  Nobody really read it or studied it.”[3]
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Can a candidate recover from this?

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No man is an island, entire of itself...any man's death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind; and therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee.

John Donne (1572-1631)

Europe is slowly committing suicide.  After 50 years of seeking a common path forward, nationalism is dividing Europe once again.  Unlike pre-World War Two nationalism, which drew upon raw emotion, today's nationalism draws upon a "sophisticated" moral superiority.

Frugal Germans lecture their lazy Southern neighbors about the values of thrift and industry, driving a wedge between the righteous and the wicked.  Because no nation is an island, the economic death of Greece is causing the bell to toll for all of Europe.

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At the end of the 19th century, Populist farmers pushed for the Federal government to rein in the abusive practices of banks and railroads.  At the beginning of the 20th century, the Progressive movement actually convinced the Federal government to break up monopolies and protect consumers from unsafe food and drugs.  During the Depression, FDR built a broad "leftist" coalition that stabilized the lives of average Americans and laid the foundation for a middle class society. In the 1960s Liberals pushed the Federal government farther, extending Civil Rights to minorities and women. Liberals also created a safety net for the poor, starting with Social Security and Medicare, and extending a helping hand with welfare.  Liberals have accepted the fact that good government can build a better world.

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There is a traditional German saying that warns the foolish not to throw the baby out with the bathwater.  A wise person realizes the value of preservation and change.  Since the French Revolutionaries first took their seats in the National Assembly, politicians have divided themselves along this axis.  One party favored preservation, while the other advocated change.  Conservatives sat on the right, while liberals sat on the left.  A healthy political system balances the two, keeping the baby and throwing out the dirty bathwater.

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As we listen tonight to Pres. Obama and the conservative response, we need to keep in mind that there are basically three schools of thought.  As voters we have to decide which one conforms to reality and which one is fantasy.

1) The Keynesian Solution

Keynesian economics was used by New Deal policy makers and during the period immediately following WWII.  They believed that consumer spending drives economic growth.  As a result, the government, in times of recession, should put money in the hands of consumers.  This is done with unemployment benefits, food stamps and housing assistance.  It is also done by jobs programs, either direct infrastructure projects or indirect hiring of state workers.  The government borrows at low interest rates from private individuals who are too scared to invest in a troubled economy.  In other words the government uses "fiscal policy" to put idle capital to work.

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