Archive | September, 2012
26 Sep

Thomas Sowell: “Obama versus Obama” — Great Stuff!

26 Sep

Thomas Sowell has just written a series of essays titled “Obama versus Obama”.  In my opinion, these are excellent portrayals of the “before and after” Obama, and well worth the read and redistribution – and re-read.

I usually provide excerpts and refer the reader to the entire essay, but this is another of those instances where I cannot begin to do justice to this series by just providing “sound bites”.

Read ‘em and weep . . . . or better yet, become re-energized

http://www.creators.com/opinion/thomas-sowell/obama-versus-obama.html

http://www.creators.com/opinion/thomas-sowell/obama-versus-obama-part-ii.html

http://www.creators.com/opinion/thomas-sowell/obama-versus-obama-part-iii.html

http://www.creators.com/opinion/thomas-sowell/obama-versus-obama-part-iv.html

Notes from the Pen of C.S. Lewis

25 Sep

I’ve been rereading some of C.S. Lewis’s essays recently.  Lewis, of course, was the brilliant Christian apologist, author of such classics as Mere Christianity,  Screwtape Letters, and many other thought-provoking books.  He also was the author of The Chronicles of Narnia novels.  Lewis even wrote a science fiction trilogy, referred to, apparently without much originality, as Space Trilogy.  He died just about 50 years ago.

I thought I would post some passages that particularly resonate with me.  [Emphasis is mine]

“In the parable [of the lost sheep], it was the one lost sheep that the shepherd went in search of; it was not the only sheep in the flock, and we are not told that it was the most valuable – save in so far as the most desperately in need has, while the need lasts, a peculiar value in the eyes of Love.”

 

“We are in no position to draw up maps of God’s psychology, and prescribe limits to His interests.  We would not do so even for a man whom we knew to be greater than ourselves.  The doctrines that God is love and that He delights in men, are positive doctrines, not limiting doctrines.  He is not less than this.  What more He may be we do not know; we know only that He must be more than we can conceive.  It is to be expected that His creation should be, in the main, unintelligible to us.”

“What we must do, which road we must take to the fountain of life, we know, and none who has seriously followed the directions complains that he has been deceived.”

Power Corrupts — Or Does It?

25 Sep

We’re all familiar with the statement attributed to Lord Acton (19th century British historian):

“Power tends to corrupt.  Absolute power corrupts absolutely.”

We want to believe this is NOT true – that if WE, for example, were thrown into power, we would be beloved and benevolent rulers, only doing that which is best for the citizenry, the country, and the world.  And yet, what we observe in the dismantling of effective government in the United States would tend to support Lord Acton’s declaration.

A recent study at the University of Toronto has shed some light on the subject (published in the Journal of Applied Psychology).  Through a series of experiments with 275 people, undergraduate students and working adults, the study concluded that Power itself does not corrupt.

Rather, power tends to exaggerates ANY ethical tendencies.  If your ethical tendencies are overwhelmingly toward compassion, generosity, fairness, etc., you will probably not be corrupted by power.  But if there are any elements of greed, nepotism, racism, negative influence-peddling, etc., these will be greatly exaggerated by the addition of power, and corruption is difficult to avoid.

This seems to me to be a more satisfying interpretation of the effect of power on the powerful.  However, it does seem to raise a follow-on question:  Why does it then seem that  — given the thoroughly corrupted state of politics in this nation — most people who enter politics must go in with unhealthy moral attitudes?  Why don’t we get more people running for office who have a solid grounding in the kind of morality  (incorruptible) that most Americans would like to see exemplified in our elected representatives?

Can truly good people not get elected to office in today’s America?

Obama the Healer?

22 Sep

In a recent Mark Levy essay, part of what he had to say was the following:

“I understand David Letterman is a comedy show, but President Obama’s response to the Romney tape of, “My expectation is if you want to be president you’ve got to work for everybody not just some,” was a joke. In the spirit of Letterman’s show, let’s put Obama’s pathetic performance under Letterman’s stupid human tricks.

Since his inauguration, President Obama has done nothing but divide the country on race, income, gender, health insurance status and union membership. He has demonized Wall Street, business owners and doctors. He’s incited phony wars on women, public servants and immigrants.

Don’t crow too soon, as Obama has his own tape to defend, where he discusses his support of wealth redistribution. Sadly, this tape won’t damage the president, as many of the 47 percent don’t seem to care that they’re taking money from fellow citizens.”

This full essay can be read at:

http://www.creators.com/opinion/mark-levy/obama-on-letterman-and-father-daughter-dances.html

The State of Higher Education in America — Ugh!

20 Sep

One of Walter Williams’ recent essays is entitled “Academic Dishonesty”, and highlights the sorry state of our colleges and universities.  Disgusting and scary at the same time – another nail in the coffin of “American Exceptionalism”?

Walter Williams is a professor of economics at George Mason University.  I have included excerpts from this essay below.  The full essay can be read at http://www.creators.com/opinion/walter-williams/-academic-dishonesty.html

Excerpts:  [Bolding is mine and content in brackets [ ] is mine]

College education is a costly proposition with tuition, room and board at some colleges topping $50,000 a year. Is it worth it? Increasing evidence suggests that it’s not. Since the 1960s, academic achievement scores have plummeted, but student college grade point averages (GPA) have skyrocketed. In October 2001, the Boston Globe published an article entitled “Harvard’s Quiet Secret: Rampant Grade Inflation.” The article reported that a record 91 percent of Harvard University students were awarded honors during the spring graduation. The newspaper called Harvard’s grading practices “the laughing stock of the Ivy League.”   [Other examples were included here.]    In the 1930s, the average GPA at American colleges and universities was 2.35, about a C plus; today the national average GPA is 3.2, more than a B.

Today’s college students are generally dumber than their predecessors. An article in the Wall Street Journal (1/30/97) reported that a “bachelor of Arts degree in 1997 may not be the equal of a graduation certificate from an academic high school in 1947.” .  .  .  Employers report that many college graduates lack the basic skills of critical thinking, writing and problem-solving and some employers find they must hire English and math teachers to teach them how to write memos and perform simple computations.

What is being labeled grade inflation is simply a euphemism for academic dishonesty.

After all, it’s dishonesty when a professor assigns a grade the student did not earn. When a university or college confers a degree upon a student who has not mastered critical thinking skills, writing and problem-solving, it’s academic dishonesty.  .  .  .

Academic dishonesty and deception go beyond fraudulent grades. “Minding the Campus” is a newsletter published by the Manhattan Institute. Edward Fiske tells a chilling tale of deception titled “Gaming the College Rankings” (9/17/09). The U.S. News and World Report college rankings are worshiped by some college administrators, and they go to great lengths to strengthen their rankings. Some years ago, University of Miami omitted scores of athletes and special admission students so as to boost SAT scores of incoming freshmen. At least one college mailed dollar bills to alumni with a request that they send them back to the annual fund thereby inflating the number of alumni donors.

[Other examples were included here]

Academic dishonesty, coupled with incompetency, particularly at the undergraduate level, doesn’t bode well for the future of our nation. And who’s to blame? Most of the blame lies at the feet of the boards of trustees, who bear ultimate responsibility for the management of our colleges and universities.

Let’s Face It — Romney Blew It

19 Sep

I perceive Romney’s “47%”  statement to be an inexcusable mistake on his part — an exaggeration of extreme order, not representative of what a presidential candidate should mess up.   In fact, something I might expect of Obama – but NOT of e seasoned businessman, someone who should be used to identifying the twisting of numbers.

And if I wasn’t so sure that it was just plain unthinking ignorance on his part, I would be insulted that my candidate just dissed millions of people out there on non-taxed retirement incomes, on disability incomes, low-income students, part-time workers raising kids, and those who are just between jobs searching hard for work that will support their families.

As it is, I’m just embarrassed and disappointed.

What in the world is the problem with us Republicans?  We have all the ammunition in the world to blast away all the arguments of the Democrats, and we just slog along with the worn-out “Are you better off . . . .” rerun.  Is that all the imagination, all the drive, all the outrage we can muster at the misrepresentations of the Democrats?  We have to misrepresent right back?

May God save us.