Wednesday, November 26, 2014

A missed chance

Brad details an egregiously stupid comment made by the head of the St. Paul Government Schools--more or less, she asked what she was going to tell her black students about the situation.  The police union responded--showing, I'm afraid, some ill fruits of their membership having attended schools like St. Paul Public in their diction--and I'm afraid also missed a golden chance to educate.  Here's how I would have responded:

Ms. Silva

You tweeted an interesting question regarding the grand jury decision not to indict Officer Wilson of the Ferguson Police in the death of Michael Brown; what does one tell black students in this case?  Well, our position is that it would be wise for teachers to simply tell the truth, and here's how we'd phrase it.

"The grand jury decided after 200  hours of deliberation that Officer Wilson was justified in shooting Michael Brown because Mr. Brown had committed aggravated assault with likely intent to kill, including the attempted theft of Officer Wilson's service pistol.  They have released all of the information on which they based this decision, and it's worth noting that 90% of the information came from blacks at the scene, and that almost all of them agreed that Michael Brown had committed aggravated assault with likely intent to kill.  This is, by the way, the same thing that got Trayvon Martin killed.

Kids, I'm going to be very blunt with you; there are times in school where you may have gotten away with having a fight, even a fight where the loser needed to go to the hospital.  However, when you get out in the real world, your victim does not know that you are going to stop "once you've made your point."  When you start punching him--especially if you are much larger and male--your victim will assume that you are intending to kill or maim him.

And that, under the law, allows your victim to respond to your likely lethal force with lethal force, whether he is a police officer or not.  So choose your behaviors wisely, again, especially if you are large, athletic, and male."

See, that's not so difficult, is it?  Moreover, as we look at the crime rates from students in and graduates of the schools you run, it's pretty obviously a lesson that many of these kids need to learn.  So let's give it a try, OK?


David Titus
St. Paul Police Federation

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Feeding the fires of riots

No, I'm not going to blame the media here, though Mitch does a good job of that here and here.   Rather, I'd like to build on what Powerline notes here and here; that if one looks at the footage from the media and ignores the reporters and commentariat, it appears not that people are rioting because they are enraged at the grand jury, but rather because the system is set up to reward those who riot, at least if they're the right skin color. 

Take a look at the reports; people are prying up bricks from walkways and buildings to throw at police.  They are destroying businesses that serve them and looting them.  Vehicles on the streets are being overturned and burned.  What are they saying with this, besides "I am a criminal."?

They are saying "This is not mine.".   In other words, the rioters have no sense of ownership or belonging in the community where they live.

Now look at the proposals to help the situation.  Someone should come from outside and reform the police.  Someone will come from outside and provide jobs, housing, educational opportunities.....

.....and thus reinforce the lesson; "This is not mine, but I can get what I want when I make a stink.".   If we really want to help, we need to make sure that help has a very clear message:

This is yours.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Much belated on music.....

....I have been, as time permits, reviewing the book of Psalms to see a little bit more of what I'd discussed earlier; that it seems that the Psalms utilize more complex thoughts than even most hymns, and that they tend to lead with the "facts on the ground" about God's provision, nature, and such, and then let emotion flow from that.  Just the opposite of what one would figure reading "Vertical Church" by a friend of Mark Driscoll's, really.  We can also infer a little bit about what Temple music would look like from modern interpretations in Hebrew, infer a beat and physical movement with music from some of the Psalms, and even remember that strictly speaking, music is not worship.

To learn what it is, however--besides the obvious category of "praise" that one would infer from all of those Halleluiahs (praise y'all the Lord) in the Psalms and elsewhere--let's  take a look at Ephesians 5:19. 

addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with your heart, 20 giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ

Notice here that we are to address, or speak to, one another in three (?) types of music.  OK, so we're not bound to just the Psalms, and whatever we do, we "speak" to one another.  Some kind of information is being imparted, and hence I would affirm that the song ought to (a) contain some theological information  and (b) ought to convey it clearly--no coffee shop mumbling or heavy metal screaming a la Hillary Clinton Brian Johnson, please. 

We can infer from the second phrase of Ephesians 5:19 that believers ought to join in the singing, and that the melody ought to be somehow in our hearts.  Hopefully this is not too much of a stretch, but a "melody in our hearts" can imply both that the Scripture resonates in our hearts, and that the way the song is formulated is winsome--it is poetically and musically good.  It ought to have some discerning marks in meter, rhyme, alliteration and the like, it ought to have a decent tune (no amelodic hymns, please), and the presentation of the song (hymn, Psalm) ought to be appropriate and memorable. 

What seems very clear is that James MacDonald's prescriptions for music are pretty much dead wrong.  It should convey theological content, is not as a rule repetitive or simple, there is no restriction on the grammatical person therein, and in light of the range of topics presented in Psalms, it doesn't as a rule need to lend it self to physical movement.  Imagine, for example, trying to dance to "When I Survey the Wondrous Cross."  It is, like many of the Psalms and Lamentations on the fall of Jerusalem, solemn. 

Or, to address the final part of MacDonald's "Vertical Church" prescriptions for music, "When I Survey" builds its emotional value off the horror and awe that we ought to see when we consider ourselves in the shadow of the Cross--and does not need to be "emotive" in its wording because it is already powerful in its content. 

In short, I would argue that those who would write, or perform, music in the church can do little better than to--beyond learning the Scriptures and possibly even hearing or reciting the Psalms in the original Hebrew--learn the depth and breadth of good music and poetry, including secular sources.  Read Ben Johnson, the Bard, Frost, and others to get a "feel" for powerful poetry.  Listen to a variety of music to get a "feel" for powerful music--concentrate especially on the music which is notable enough to be remembered on the "oldies" stations and such.  You may quickly see what dreck is being pushed on us from many of the sources you may be hearing at church and elsewhere.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

A thought regarding the Obama immigration usurpation....

.....or a couple.  For starters, this move by the President is in a way only doing what the INS/ICE and previous Presidents have been doing for decades; ignoring the problem.  The only real innovation is that he is going to illegally hand out work permits.

But that said, I reckon that if I told my employer that I was not only not going to do my job, but was going to prevent my coworkers from doing theirs, my manager would promptly let me know that I was welcome to resign my position or be fired.  I'll be sending such a note to the President, as well as my Senators and representative.  I am, as a citizen and taxpayer, their employer, and if they're not going to do their job, they are welcome to resign or be fired.

Regarding the specifics of the plan, Hugh Hewitt makes some guesses, and (as is typical for the President), it turns out that his plan will hurt those who are not here legally.  The trick is that the fraudulent documents Mr. Obama plans to hand out to illegals will.....

.....clearly identify them as what they are.  As such, employers who don't want a hassle from angry neighbors for hiring illegals won't hire them, and illegals won't want a clear paper trail to exist when (God willing) we get a law-abiding President in 2017.

In other words, President Obama is about to do for the Constitution and the immigration issue what he's done for the rule of law in taxes and healthcare.  God help us.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Regarding the Gruber/HIDA scandal

One question that comes to mind regarding Jonathan Gruber's "paid to obfuscate" testimony regarding the Health Insurance Deform Act, a.k.a. "Obamacare", is what consequences Gruber and his minions and cronies ought to face for more or less deceiving the public to get HIDA passed.

For my part, it is my opinion that tenure ought to protect the right of professors to investigate unpopular areas and propagate their sincerely held views, but that it ought not protect those who use their credentials to lie for political gain.  There is a place for ethics requirements in academia, and there ought not be a place in academia for liars like Jonathan Gruber.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Good and bad news

Well, the good news is that it's extremely unlikely that my Spartans will be humiliated in the NCAA playoff this season.  :^)  Well done, Buckeyes.

The bad news is that activists in Ferguson, MO, have released a list of 19 demands that, if agreed to, will make the situation a lot more dangerous when the grand jury conclusion in the Michael Brown case (all but expected to exonerate the police officer) is released.  Here's the list for reference.

What's wrong with it?  Here you go:
  • Demand #3 is that advance notice will be given--OK, 48 hours to prepare for a riot.  What could possibly go wrong?
  • Demand #4 is that the rioters be informed of the police chain of command--"Hey Honey, have a nice time while I'm at work.  By the way, the rioters know who and where you are."
  • Demands #7 and #8 are that the police not wear riot gear, use rubber bullets or tear gas, or use crowd control equipment.  OK, if I'm an officer and do not have crowd/riot control equipment, and I'm faced with a possibly lethal situation, what tool on my belt do I use?  Hint; it's not the nightstick, the flashlight, or the Taser.
  • Demand #9 is that the police not interfere with the communications of the protesters--because it's not like rioters have ever coordinated to create a much more dangerous result, is it?
  • Demand #10 is for individual arrests and not bulk arrests.  Because apparently the police have never faced a situation that became more dangerous because people refused to disperse, which is a crime.
  • Demand #11 is for "safe houses" so the rioting leaders can run the riots without interference from the police.  Um, say what?
  • Demand #15 is for police to tolerate "minor lawbreaking" like throwing water bottles.  Because a bottle filled with an unknown liquid has never been used as a weapon, of course.
Put bluntly, if I wanted to get a bunch of these protesters killed, I don't know that I could do any better than to release these recommendations.  Are we sure it was civil rights protesters, and not a local KKK chapter, that came up with this?

Tuesday, November 04, 2014

Election predictions

Now as much as I hope that Harry Reid gives up his position, and as much as I think it's likely today, here is my somewhat pessimistic prediction for the outcome of the elections today at the national level.  Whether the GOP wins the Senate or not, the President is a consummate politician with the media in his back pocket and guarding him well.   As others have noted, if only the Secret Service were that good.

Hence, my prediction is that whatever gains are made, they will be stymied by Mr. Obama.  The Democrats will stymie attempts to vote on repealing Obamacare, as there is little chance the GOP will take a filibuster-proof majority there, and even if a vote is taken, the bill will be vetoed by the President. 

The most I am hoping for is a slowing in the rate of growth of government, and perhaps a slight roadblock for the worst of Mr. Obama's judicial and other nominees.  Real progress will have to wait for national repentance for the debacle of Barry Soetoro and 2016.