Puerto Rico votes to become the 51st state

8759149055_1d0e7849c6_z

Puerto Rico held a referendum on whether the U.S. Territory should apply for statehood.  Voters overwhelmingly voted “yes.”

A half million voted for statehood, with 7,600 wanting independence and 6,700 wanting to stay a territory.  Three earlier referendums failed to reach any kind of majority, but that was before the severe economic crisis that Puerto Rico is struggling with today.

The referendum isn’t enough to make Puerto Rico a state.  Congress has to make that decision.

Prediction:  The next time the Democrats have a majority in Congress, they will make Puerto Rico the 51st state, being glad to have another state that will vote Democratic, and a Spanish-speaking one at that.

But, on the merits, do you think we should add Puerto Rico’s star to the flag?  Aren’t “territories” remnants of a colonial past that we really shouldn’t’ have anymore? [Read more…]

Americans’ moral beliefs

512px-Rembrandt_Harmensz._van_Rijn_079

 

Gallup has released its latest study of Americans’ moral beliefs.

Gallup’s Values and Beliefs poll has been taken each year since 2001, so that it is possible to track changes.

Some two-thirds of Americans see nothing wrong with sex between unmarried couples (69%), homosexual relations (63%), and having a baby outside of wedlock (62%).

Despite this sexual revolution, the vast majority of Americans still strongly disapprove of adultery, with only 9% considering it “OK,” a number that has changed little over the years.

Only 43% consider abortion to be moral, a number that has also been stable since 2001.

For the numbers on these and many other issues, as well as data about the values that have changed, go here.

The summary report, excerpted after the jump, observes that no issues have shown change in a conservative direction.

While it is true that most Americans consider themselves conservative politically, conservatives too are mostly liberal when it comes to morality.

 

Painting:  Moses with the 10 Commandments by Rembrandt [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
[Read more…]

What’s the true meaning of Presidents’ Day?

15928527814_4a9e476e7b_zHappy Presidents’ Day.  What are we really celebrating today?

Originally, it was George Washington’s Birthday, honoring the Father of Our Country.  Then Abraham Lincoln, another great American, was thrown in.

Once the holiday was moved to Monday, to give federal workers a three-day weekend, Presidents’ Day became completely unmoored from the date of Washington’s birthday.  Now we use the day to celebrate ALL presidents.

We have had some good ones, but not that many.  Franklin Delano Roosevelt and Ronald Reagan, were from opposite ends of the ideological spectrum, but they were both iconic presidents who had a big impact on American history.  Then there were notable chief executives–Theodore Roosevelt, Dwight Eisenhower–whose legacy is significant, though sometimes still controversial.  (As for Donald Trump, for all the furor of his first few weeks, his presidency is just getting started.)

But here is my question:  Why do we have a federal day-off holiday to honor the Executive Branch?  If we are going to do that, why don’t we have a holiday to honor the Legislative Branch?  And the Judicial Branch?  If the prospect of the latter two seems ridiculous, why isn’t it also ridiculous to have a Presidents’ Day?

I suppose it’s because that office is held by an identifiable individual, unlike our other branches of government.  Perhaps it has something to do with an atavistic reverence for Kings.  But I’m not sure this is healthy in a democratic republic.

But I suspect I’m missing something.  Can someone explain the true meaning of Presidents’ Day and why we need that to be a national holiday?

And yet, this is our national holiday, so let’s observe it in the best way possible.  What thoughts should it call to mind?  What should we be thankful for?  What should we do to keep the holiday?

UPDATE:  My suggestion after the jump.

[Read more…]

The new culture war

Jackson_inauguration_cropThe old culture war was about morality and was informed by religion.  The new culture war, signaled by the election of Donald Trump, is about nationalism vs. multiculturalism and “the people” vs. the elites.  Trump has little interest in the old culture wars, with the important exception of being pro-life.  But the new culture war is just as emotional, with pretty much the same people on either side.  So says Rich Lowry in a piece excerpted and linked after the jump.

So where does that leave Christians and others who are still concerned about morality and religion?

If those issues are taken off the table, Christians have other interests–jobs, security, liberty–that could align them with this alleged new culture war.  Many are members of what Lowry calls “Jacksonian America,” those ordinary citizens scorned by the elite as “vulgar masses,” like those championed by Andrew Jackson (and who trashed the White House when he invited them in).

Other Christians may be on the elite side, a faction often championed by traditional conservatives.  Just as populism used to be central to the ideology of the Democratic party.

If this analysis is correct, isn’t there going to be tension between a catholic religion like Christianity (“from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages” [Rev. 7:9]) and nationalism?

[Read more…]

Who is funding the U.S. secessionist movements

9348031848_222ae13657_zCalifornia and Texas both have secessionist movements with the goal of breaking away from the United States and setting up independent nations.  California’s rebels would seem to be from the left.  The Texans would seem to be from the right.  But the unlikely breakaways of these formerly independent republics have a common funder:  RUSSIA.

The leader of “Calexit” and its organization Yes California even lives in Russia!

So says the article excerpted and linked after the break. [Read more…]

Trump vows trade deal with UK

UK Prime Minister Theresa May

UK Prime Minister Theresa May

In an interview with the London Times [subscription required], Donald Trump promised a quick trade deal with the UK, thus helping its Brexit transition.  (British prime minister Theresa May and other Brexit supporters were delighted at the news.)

He also gave other indications of what his new foreign policy would be like:  He said he supported NATO, though he considered it “obsolete,” saying only five NATO members are paying their dues.  He also said he might suspend sanctions against Russia in exchange for a nuclear arms cut.

The EU is alarmed because it had been planning to punish the UK economically for pulling out of the union.  Furthermore, if Trump is going to reward UK for breaking away from the European Union, will that encourage other member nations to do the same? Trump’s NATO talk also has Europe worried that they may have to go it alone militarily without the US.

If a free trade pact with the UK were to be extended to other countries that break away from the EU, that could create a new bloc of nations, dominated by the US.  Or maybe Trump’s deal could be extended to other English-speaking countries, such as Canada and Australia.  Throw in India, with its vast population and emerging wealth, as an alternative to China.

Whatever happens, Trump is going to remake American foreign policy, for better or worse (or some of both). [Read more…]