“Thank you for your service”

Happy Veteran’s Day.  And to all of you veterans, let us join in saying what has become a common refrain: “Thank you for your service.” Notice how the military’s emphasis on service ties right in to the doctrine of vocation.

Here is a fine meditation for the day by my sometimes-colleague Joe Carter:  What a Veteran Knows | What So Proudly We Hail.

Adultery still matters

General Petraeus, who effectively led American troops in the “surge” in Iraq and Afghanistan, resigned as director of the CIA.  He confessed to having an affair with a woman who had written a book about him.

CIA Director David H. Petraeus resigned Friday and admitted to having an extramarital affair, bringing a shocking end to his brief tenure at the spy agency and highly decorated national security career.

The affair came to light as part of an FBI investigation into a potential security breach involving Petraeus’s e-mails, according to federal law enforcement officials and a former senior intelligence official. The investigation uncovered e-mails describing an affair between Petraeus and Paula Broadwell, a former military officer and co-author of a glowing biography of Petraeus, according to two law enforcement officials who were briefed on the investigation.

Petraeus, a retired four-star Army general who once was seen as a potential presidential candidate, met with President Obama on Thursday and said he intended to step down because of the affair, Obama administration officials said. The president accepted his resignation Friday.

“After being married for over 37 years, I showed extremely poor judgment by engaging in an extramarital affair,” Petraeus said in a statement distributed to the CIA workforce Friday.“Such behavior is unacceptable, both as a husband and as the leader of an organization such as ours. This afternoon, the president graciously accepted my resignation,” he said. . . .

Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, said Friday that she believed Petraeus’s infidelity did not require him to resign.

“I wish President Obama had not accepted this resignation, but I understand and respect the decision,” she said in a statement. She described Petraeus’s resignation as an “enormous loss for our nation’s intelligence community and for our country.”

via David Petraeus resigns as CIA director – The Washington Post.

Here are some of the ugly details.  But some are saying that his transgression in itself is not considered necessarily a reason to lose his job.  (Dianne Feinstein’s response is telling.)  Petraeus could possibly have hung on to his job.  And yet, he felt shame and guilt to the point of resigning his office and ending his extremely successful career, which many were hoping might lead to the Presidency.

Notice that sexual morality has not entirely faded away.  Though pre-marital sex, homosexuality, and pornography have become socially acceptable, adultery retains its stigma.  And rape and sex with children remain abhorrent, deserving harsh punishment.  This is evidence that sex has an objective moral significance that cannot be easily evaded.  Then again, if we accept pre-marital sex, how long can we still oppose extra-marital sex?  If sex is “no big deal” between adults, why is it a big deal when it is between adults and children?  Or perhaps, before we slide further down that slippery slope, we will perceive once more, from bitter experience, that sexual morality is real.

Predicting the election

Now that Florida has FINALLY counted its ballots (why can 49 states conduct an efficient election but Florida can’t?), we know the final tally.  The Sunshine State went for Obama, giving him a total of 332 electoral votes.  Here are the results:

CandidatePopular votePercentageElectoral votes (270 to win)
Barack Obama61713086 51% 332
Mitt Romney58510150 48% 206

This enables us to assess how we did at our pre-election post Your predictions.

The winner?  MY BROTHER Jimmy Veith.  He nailed it EXACTLY.  Here is what he said at comment 22:

My brother is good at predictions. I am a little better.

Obama: 332
Romney: 206

Popular vote: Obama: 51%, Romney: 48%, Others: 1%

Congratulations, Jimmy!  You have proven yourself to be this blog’s  top prognosticator.  And thanks for keeping it in the family.  (Imagine what I am going to have to put up with at Christmas!)

I predicted Obama would get 291, coming short by 41.  The Veith boys, Jason, Todd, Klasie, Darren, & ADB were the only ones who correctly predicted an Obama victory.

I appreciate SKPeterson’s comment in a post-election thread:

It would appear that the Republican Party would be better served if it followed the commentary on Cranach and quit listening to the Limbaugh’s, the Rove’s and the WSJ hack commentariat (as much as I enjoy reading the WSJ too, natch).

He links to this article:  How Conservative Media Lost to the MSM and Failed the Rank and File.  According to the author, Conor Friedersdorf , the conservative media and punditocracy were nearly unanimous in predicting a Romney victory.  They didn’t predict a McCain victory in the last presidential election, but this time wishful thinking trumped reality across the board.

Perhaps my brother Jimmy will explain how he reached his completely accurate conclusion.  (I wouldn’t be surprised if wishful thinking had some influence, Obama fan that he is.  I myself wished for the opposite of what I predicted, which I daresay is even rarer.)  But here is my reasoning, first, in regards to the election results; and second, in regards to the arguably more impressive feat of predicting Obama’s election in 2008 before he won any primaries, Romney’s nomination before the Republican primaries, and Obama’s re-election at the lowest point of his popularity.

For the election, I ignored the popular vote, which has little to do with electing a president.  The electoral vote is everything, so the state-by-state results are everything.   In general, unlike most conservatives, I trusted the poll results.  Survey research has gotten extremely sophisticated.  Journalists might be biased, but it does no good for professional pollsters to be biased, since their livelihoods depend on accuracy.  One can question their sampling techniques, but these guys usually know what they are doing.  That is to say, it’s a matter of vocation.  It’s true that poll results will vary, so I paid most attention to the poll aggregators at RealClearPolitics, which posts the average of all polls.  Most of the states were strongly for one candidate or the other, with neither scoring the necessary 270 total.  So everything hinged on eight too-close-to-call “battleground states.”   For Romney to win, he would have to win virtually all of them.  I thought that was unlikely.  Obama only needed a few.   The day before the election, the polls showed him leading slightly in most of them.  As my brother somehow knew would happen, he won all but two.

So much for my quantitative analysis.  For my qualitative analysis that predicted the outcomes before the races even started, I picked Romney as the best of an exceedingly weak field.  And by “best” I do not mean the most conservative or the one who would be the most effective chief executive.  I mean the one who presented himself the best and seemed least likely to pull something embarrassing.  (Republicans have GOT to field better candidates.)  Americans like their presidents, for better or for worse, to be inspiring and have a compelling story, to have a mythical quality about them, to be larger than life.  Not all presidents are that way.  George W. Bush wasn’t,  but then again neither was Al Gore or John Kerry.  Nor do such figures necessarily make good presidents.  But Barack Obama had the “it” factor, so I thought he would go far.

Will the election matter?

The election cost $5.8 billion and years of furor and trauma, only to leave us with what we had already:  President Obama, a Democratic Senate, and a Republican House of Representatives.  Does that mean we’ll have another four years of the status quo, that the election won’t really mean anything?  I don’t think so.

As President Obama told the Russians, after he has won re-election, he will have much more “flexibility.”  That is to say, he won’t have to worry about alienating voters, so he will be free to do more of what he wants.  Conversely, Republicans won’t have as their priority, as Mitch McDonnell said, ensuring that he does not get elected to a second term.  So expect, for better or worse, more co-operation between the parties.  Already some Republican leaders in the House have said that if Obama gets re-elected, they will consider that Americans support his economic program and want more taxes; therefore, they will be willing to compromise on “raising revenues.”  So expect taxes to go up.

Also, the election clears the way for Obamacare.  If that health care program falls short of taking over the entire medical sector, it at least is a government take over of the medical insurance industry, which amounts to much the same thing.  To this day, no one knows what Obamacare will do, as it’s gradually implemented through 2014.  Already there are hints that at least some businesses will keep their number of employees below 50 and hire workers part-time rather than full-time to escape the required insurance expenses.  What procedures will be paid for and how much will be paid will be up to government regulators.  Church ministries and pro-lifers may well be forced to pay for contraceptives and abortifacient drugs, a direct assault on religious liberty that the administration is unlikely to compromise on, given the success of its “war on women” rhetoric during the election.  Perhaps a court will block that and other provisions, but we can’t count on it.

The popular vote was close, but the size of Obama’s electoral victory (300+ to 200, three-fifths, 60%) will allow Democrats to claim a mandate.  Americans voted for the Democratic proposals, so that’s what we all are going to get.

Can you think of other likely results of this election?

Massachusetts is voting down assisted suicide

As we discussed, Colorado and Washington have legalized marijuana.  Also  Maryland and Maine have legalized gay marriage, the first time that step has been taken by popular referendum.  But Massachusetts, to its credit, is voting down a measure that would legalize physician-assisted suicide.

In Massachusetts, ballots are still being tallied, but it appears voters have rejected a move to legalize physician-assisted suicide for the terminally ill.

“My late husband Sen. Edward Kennedy called quality, affordable health care for all the cause of his life,” Victoria Kennedy, the widow of the late Sen. Ted Kennedy, D-Mass., wrote in a Cape Code op-ed.

“Question 2 turns his vision of health care for all on its head by asking us to endorse patient suicide — not patient care — as our public policy for dealing with pain and the financial burdens of care at the end of life,” she said.

With about 93 percent of the votes counted, the measure is failing by 51 to 49.

via Pot Initiative Passes, Assisted Suicide Failing – Politics – CBN News – Christian News 24-7 – CBN.com.

I appreciate how we have here in Mrs. Kennedy’s remarks a pro-life argument cast in liberal terms.

I have never understood what is so liberal about believing in abortion and euthanasia.   As we saw with the Democratic national convention, liberals will go on and on about protecting the weak, the vulnerable, and the marginalized, only to throw out all of that rhetoric when it comes to protecting the weakest, the most vulnerable, and the most marginalized of all, namely, unwanted children.

British agency is requiring open communion

A British commission is refusing to allow a Plymouth Brethren church to be registered as a charity because it practices closed communion:

A government agency that oversees charities in the United Kingdom has decided that a local Christian congregation cannot be registered because it does not open its communion services to just any outsider.

The decision by the U.K.’s Charity Commission is being reported by The Christian Institute, which has been working on the case of the Plymouth Brethren assembly in Devon for seven years.

Without registration, the group would be subject to a number of government restrictions that do not apply to charity organizations.

The decision “would have a huge impact on the group’s tax relief and would also have other implications,” said the institute in a report.

The report said the congregation’s elders testified to a select committee of Parliament last week.

The government has determined the group cannot be registered because it has decided that its communion services are for members only.

“During the evidence a letter from the commission’s head of legal services emerged claiming that churches cannot be assumed to be acting for the public good,” the report said.

The institute said it is working on the case because of the need to protect religious liberty for all church groups.

A statement released by the government agency said, “The application [from the church] was not accepted on the basis that we were unable to conclude that the organization is established for the advancement of religion for public benefit within the relevant law.”

The institute said Conservative Member of Parliament Charlie Elphicke speculated whether the government agency was “actively trying to suppress religion in the U.K., particularly the Christian religion.”

According to a report from the Telegraph of London, the faith group is planning to take the battle to the European Court of Human Rights if needed.

via Government regulates church communion.

I don’t pretend to understand church-state relations under British law, and I think I must be missing something.  Roman Catholic churches don’t practice open communion.  Are they registered as “charities”?  Also, there is a small but vibrant group of confessional Lutherans in England.  Are they in the same jeopardy?  And what does it mean to be a registered charity in England?  Is that the same as our “non-profit” status, with all of the tax deductions that makes possible?  If anyone knows anything about this, please comment.

Is this an example of the state control of churches in a country that does not have our separation of church and state?  Or is it a foretaste of what American Christians will face also if they are not sufficiently “inclusive” according to the canons of state-mandated toleration?