Socialism Under the Microscope: Part One – The Socialists Among Us

Flickr Socialist Party November 2011

Current French President Francois Hollande at a Socialist Party rally back in 2011. Flickr photo by the Socialist Party (Parti socialiste)

I’m just going to come right out and say it: the President is a socialist.

While some of us may wish to avoid talking about it, facts are facts.  The President’s policy positions, his background, and most of all his own affirmative statements prove beyond a doubt that the land which once fought so hard for liberty is now being governed by a socialist.  Sacré bleu! Continue reading

The Lavabit Shutdown and its Implications for American Liberty

Ladar Levison 2013 Flickr Gage Skidmore

Ladar Levison is not impressed with the FBI. Flickr photo by Gage Skidmore

Contributor Samuel Mantravadi believes that the FBI has overreached in its latest attempt at using technology to track down a potential criminal.

Ladar Levison is somewhat of a hero these days in software and technology news circles. If you’re not not up on the latest gossip, Mr. Levison is the founder, developer and CEO of a company called Lavabit that provides provided secure e-mail services via encryption 1) to and from its servers and 2) while on its servers (two separate methods of encryption).

In the wake of a series of secret subpoenas and search warrants given by the FBI, Mr. Levison has chosen to shutter his services rather than fully comply with the order. In the wake of the e-mail shuttering, another award-winning blog, Groklaw, also chose to stop reporting due to the possible massive invasion of privacy (previous articles still available). Continue reading

Update: Janet Yellen to Be Named Fed Chief

The White House has leaked the news that President Obama will indeed name Janet Yellen as the next chairperson of the Federal Reserve Board of Governors.  Should she be confirmed, she will be the first woman to hold the position.  Of course, it would be foolish to depend on Congress to do anything these days, but I suspect her chances of getting confirmed are quite good.

Last month, I wrote a profile piece on Yellen.  Take a look at it before the President announces her nomination tomorrow afternoon:

A WOMAN ON THE MOVE (click to follow link)

Classical Music Isn’t Dead – It’s on the Big Screen

A live performance of the score from "The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers" accompanies a showing of the film at Radio City Music Hall in 2010.  Photo by Flickr user workinpana

A live performance of the score from “The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers” accompanies a showing of the film at Radio City Music Hall in 2010. Photo by Flickr user workinpana

Word on the street is that classical music is dying out.  Sales for classical recordings are plunging, attendance at many concerts is on the decline, and it is getting harder for new graduates from art and music schools to find a decent job.  The reasons for this downward trend have been much debated.  As you might expect when dealing with the subjective world of art, everyone seems to see the problem a little bit differently.

“The root of the problem, musicians tell me, is a plague of pirated Internet downloads and a spreading anti-intellectual climate in the U.S. music world, especially among the young,” read one article by the American Spectator’s Michael Johnson back in 2011. “Further pressure, as if any were needed, comes from the current economic squeeze.” Continue reading

Are Women Better off Catholic?

St. Peter's Square in Vatican City with St. Peter's Basilica in the background. Photo by Greg O'Beirne via Wikipedia/GFDL Creative Commons

St. Peter’s Square in Vatican City with St. Peter’s Basilica in the background. Photo by Greg O’Beirne via Wikipedia/GFDL Creative Commons

Is Catholicism better then Evangelicalism when it comes to females?

The very title of this piece may be confusing for some.  Is the Roman Catholic Church better for women than evangelical Protestantism?  Some may argue that Catholicism is by nature highly patriarchal and even sexist.  Women are not allowed to be priests, not allowed to use birth control, etc.  The Catholic Church is run by a bunch of men who believe that marrying a woman would simply be too distracting from their duties.  They do not allow women to play a role in selecting the Pope, voting on important doctrinal issues, or administering the sacraments.

To all this I respond, “How is that really any different from evangelicalism?”  We too typically prevent women from becoming members of the clergy or serving on the deacon and elder boards that make important church decisions.  While we do not condemn all forms of birth control, we do start to ask questions when people don’t seem to want to get married, have children, or participate in idyllic family life.  Generally, the role of women in basic church governance, teaching, and administration is no greater in evangelicalism than in Catholicism. Continue reading

Let’s Give Neville Chamberlain a Break

Arthur-Neville-Chamberlain, US National Archive

Photo of British PM Neville Chamberlain from the US National Archive

In the year of our Lord 1938,

A man named Neville caught a bad break.

He sought to bring us peace for our time,

But as it turned out, he was blind –

Blind to evil that grew by the day,

To the Führer who feared not to betray.

We remember him for all he failed to be,

For his optimism and naïvety.

The peace he brought was none too long.

The gathering storm was just too strong.

He sought a madman to appease,

And avoid war by saying “please”.

No courage did this man possess,

Of duty and honor he knew less;

For no war would have come to be,

Dear reader, were it not for he! Continue reading

Why I Am Not Writing about the Potential Government Shutdown

Wiki Martin Falbisoner

Photo by Wikipedia user Martin Falbisoner

The political news in Washington this week has been all about the possibility of a federal government shutdown next week, provided that Congress fails to pass a continuing resolution needed to fund government operations.  Normally, such a major news story might prompt me to analyze the situation here, but I have decided not to, and the reason is simple: I’m not bothered.

In the United States, the usual phrase for such an emotion would be, “I don’t care,” or less artfully, “I don’t give a crap”, or a similar phrase that adds in words I typically don’t use in my writing. (I am trying to keep Church & State at least somewhat family friendly.) Yet, none of these American phrases has quite the same meaning as, “I’m not bothered.” Continue reading

The Hard Life of an American Christian

Photo by Flickr user Flickmor

Photo by Flickr user Flickmor

When we recently began a study of the book of Esther at my church, our pastor attempted to make a connection between his audience and the characters in the story by using a couple of rhetorical questions.  First, he asked us if we could identify with living in the capitol city of the world’s superpower.  Since our church is located just across the Potomac River from Washington, D.C., the answer was obviously “yes”.  Second, he asked if we could identify with being a persecuted religious minority, to which there were several nodded heads and muted grunts of agreement.

Except for me, of course.  Sitting there in my seat, I said, “No.”  It wasn’t loud enough for anyone but my husband to hear, but still I said it.  Why?  Because as a member of an evangelical Christian church in America, I do not feel like a persecuted religious minority: not even close. Continue reading

Obama Should Shake Rouhani’s Hand

Official Iranian government photo of President Hassan Rouhani

Official Iranian government photo of President Hassan Rouhani

Word on the street is that the White House is trying to decide whether or not to arrange a brief meeting between U.S. President Barack Obama and Iranian President Hassan Rouhani on the sidelines of this week’s annual parade of world leaders at the UN General Assembly.  Such a tête-à-tête is common at large international gatherings, but not when the two countries in question are Iran and the United States.  When it comes to this bilateral relationship, a simple handshake would be enough to grab headlines around the world.

American politicians have avoided shaking hands with their Iranian counterparts since 1979, not out of some odd “germophobic” impulse, but due to the official severing of diplomatic relations. This break technically occurred in 1980, although the situation had taken an immediate turn for the worse with the 1979 Iranian Revolution and hostage taking at the U.S. Embassy in Tehran.  In the more than thirty years since that point, politicians in both countries have come and gone, but none have been able to satisfy the demands of the other side, and the icy relations have continued. Continue reading

A Woman on the Move

FISCAL MONITOR

Federal Reserve Vice Chairwoman Janet Yellen speaks at an International Monetary Fund event. IMF photo via Flickr

Janet Yellen is about to become the most powerful female in U.S. political history, and most Americans have never heard of her.

Granted, we’ve had women in positions of political power before this point.  There have been three female secretaries of state – Madeleine Albright, Condoleezza Rice, and Hillary Clinton – each of whom was fourth in the line of presidential succession.  Our two female vice presidential nominees, Geraldine Ferraro and Sarah Palin, ended up losing.  One woman, also Hillary Clinton, came very close to gaining the presidential nomination of a major political party.

Sandra Day O’Connor, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Sonia Sotomayor, and Elena Kagan have all been members of the Supreme Court.  You could also make the case that some First Ladies, such as Eleanor Roosevelt and Hillary Clinton (again), held enormous power through their influence over the president.  Nancy Pelosi has served as Speaker of the House of Representatives, placing her second in the line of presidential succession, arguably the highest ranking achieved by a woman in America’s political system. Continue reading