Third parties?

I’ve heard many people dismayed by the major party presidential slate say that they would turn to a third party. Well, does anyone know what the various third parties are doing? Do they have a candidate either?

I’ve heard the Libertarians might nominate Ron Paul, but wouldn’t his pro-life convictions rule him out for that party?

The Cult vs. the Machine

Hillary Clinton is still in this thing, having won Texas and Ohio. Meanwhile, John McCain won the Republican primaries, racking enough delegates to win the nomination. Mike Huckabee graciously conceded. For details, go here.

The press, shamed by a Saturday Night Live skit, started asking Barack Obama hard questions. Mrs. Clinton held nothing back, took advantage of the Hispanic vote, and fought her way back into contention. The delegate count is nearly even. Will Mrs. Clinton reclaim her superdelegates, who had started to leave what they thought was a sinking ship? Now we will see who is more powerful, the Obama cult or the Clinton machine.

The robotic chanting of a name

Thanks to my students Nathan Martin, David Carver, and Travis Jordan for their comments on that Obama video I posted yesterday. See their discussion on their excellent online magazine they and others have put together, entitled Patrol Magazine. What got ME about that video was the robotic chanting, “O-ba-ma. Oba-ma. O-ba.me.” I will quote Travis on the subject:

A hiss beneath a rotted log, a growl from the tall grass, the click of a hammer in the shadows of a slum. Sound is the sense of fear. We can dodge and fight what we can see, but what we hear can only warn us that we are in peril. When a sound provokes dread or terror, it is because we fear what makes that sound, or rather, we fear what the maker of that sound can do to us. A snake can bite you, a giant cat can eat you, and a gun can shoot you. But that’s about it. While a hiss, growl, or click can illicit the fear of these grave calamities, the threat is limited to you, and you may get away or survive. That is why these sounds ring weak and hollow compared to the roaring whisper of a chanting mass.

If the chanting mass wants to kill you, you will die. If it wants to kill your family, torture everyone who ever knew you, and exterminate your race, you cannot stop them. The chanting mass can destroy the things and people you love more than yourself. The threat does not die with you, but endures until the spell binding the throng is broken.

This is why, nine second into the “We Are the Ones” video, I froze. An inhuman voice began rising, eventually dominating the song’s rhythm. It sounded as if the uncountable throng were summoning a spirit for them to unconditionally obey. There was no emotion or reason in the chant. It was powerfully hollow, proclaiming the inevitability of the mass will.

O-BA-MA. O-BA-MA.

The meaning of the word isn’t inherently disturbing. The vacuous liberalism of the testimonies is nothing we haven’t heard before. But we have heard that sound. Whenever a people has felt abandoned, wherever a nation has decided to bring about the future, that sound has rung through streets, halls, and stadiums.

The music isn’t menacing and the face on the wall isn’t scowling. But when has it ever been? Of course, Obama is no Hitler, just as McCain is no George Washington. But the names synonymous with genocide and tyranny were never caught without a smile and a tune people couldn’t get out of their heads. Since what was catchy in 1930’s Germany isn’t catchy today, we might have to use a little imagination to create an equivalent mental image of a dangerously charismatic demagogue. Or we can just watch this video.

To truly understand the power of chant, try to create two neighborhoods of make-believe. The first is easy, as it is eerily represented by “We Are the Ones.” But that scenario alone provides a one-sided understanding. Now imagine the name chanted is your favorite public figure. The coordinated testimonies and soulful rhythm all just feel so right. You could not have written the rhetoric better yourself. Is the chant still creepy? It should be.

O-ba-ma, O-ba-ma, O-ba-ma, O-ba-ma, O-ba-ma

Do you find this video as creepy, disturbing, and scary as I do? Parse its elements.

Feminists play the gender card

Feminists are incensed at opposition to Hillary Clinton, and especially to women who are supporting Obama instead of one of their own. “There are some people who promote Barack Obama because they want anybody but a woman,” says NOW official Marion Wagner. “Would they like a white man instead of a black man? Of course. But they’ll take a black man over a woman.”

As Wagner and other NOW executives toured Ohio last week, they repeated a resounding message: Clinton has been mistreated by an opponent who subtly demeans her, by a mainstream media that ridicules her, by voters too threatened to vote for a confident woman, by young women who no longer feel the urgency of the women’s movement, by African American women for whom race is more important than gender. . . .

They point to the way Obama pulled out Clinton’s chair before each debate, immediately establishing the upper hand in their interaction. “You can bet that’s a calculated move,” Wagner said, “and it’s absolutely demeaning.”

Buckley’s advice to Christian activists

Christianity Today online has dusted off an interview with the recently-deceased William F. Buckley from 1995, featuring his advice to Christian activists. The interview shows his own Christian faith, as well as points like these:

What frightens people most about the Religious Right is the rhetoric that is sometimes used. There ought to be some thought given, for example, as to how you formulate your antihomosexual position: it should be more pastoral than vitriolic….

If, at the end of a broadcast by Pat Robertson, fewer people are disposed to Christianity than were before he came on (I’m not saying that is the case), then that would be awful if that were so….

Whatever you want to say about the anti-abortionists, you have got to at least say this: Theirs is the most disinterested act of humanitarian concern since the Emancipation Proclamation. They are not talking about protecting their own child, they are talking about protecting children….

Thomas Aquinas once was asked, “If the public view was that a famine was imminent, would you be justified in charging injurious prices for your grain, knowing that a relief wagon of grain was coming?” Thomas said yes, you would, but it would be wrong. A Christian would not do that.Certain things which the market authorizes simply in terms of law are unchristian and ought not to be done.

The big issue today has to do with the fidelity of marriages. The tendency now to leave your wife because you have an infatuation with a younger woman of tenderer flesh is an enormous temptation. It’s carnal, and it’s also easy to justify with all the solipsistic reasoning that we hear today. That is about the gravest offense that a human being can commit, to throw away a wife.


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