Russia threatens the U.S. base in Poland

Russia warns of response to US missile shield:

Russia says its response to the further development of a U.S. missile shield in Poland will go beyond diplomacy.

Russia’s Foreign Ministry issued a statement saying the U.S. missile shield plans are clearly aimed at weakening Russia.

The U.S. says the missile defense system is aimed at protecting the U.S. and Europe from future attacks from states like Iran.

The United States and Poland signed a deal Wednesday to place a U.S. missile defense base just 115 miles from Russia’s westernmost fringe.

“Beyond diplomacy”? What do you think that means? An airstrike to take out the anti-missile installation? If that happened, what should we do then?

This would not be an attack on a little Eastern European country like Georgia; it would be an attack on us. Is this threat enough to make you want to withdraw our installation, even though we have just signed an agreement with Poland, in the hopes of avoiding war? And please, don’t accuse any one here of wanting war. No one here wants Russia to do this. Is it war-mongering to go to war if attacked?

We need to think through these things, since wars often come upon a nation by surprise.

Fighting drinking with more drinking

A bunch of college presidents want to lower the drinking age. One can make that case, but why would college presidents make it? Drinking and underage drinking are huge problems on college campuses, part of the climate of debauchery that rules at most of our institutions of higher education. These presidents are saying that if the legal drinking age were lowed to 18, that would somehow help them deal with binge drinking. That is hugely naive. College students tend to drink, not so much to make the heart glad, but precisely in order to get drunk. Later, they might develop a more mature use of alcohol, but 18 year olds at fraternity parties will not.

Now McCain is ahead

The latest Reuters/Zogby poll now has McCain leading Obama by 5 percentage points, reversing Obama’s recent lead by more than that margin just a few days ago.

As I’ve said to Obama supporters and now say to McCain supporters, these polls mean little. Once the conventions are held, then they will mean more. But the only opinions that count are those that happen to be dominant on election day.

What strikes me, though, is the utter volatility of American opinion. It can careen wildly from week to week. A single faux pas or a clever zinger can seemingly sway an election. That’s a climate ripe for demagoguery and thus, potentially, tyranny.

Certainly the day to day persuasion of the electorate is what a campaign is all about. It looks like Obama is no longer inevitable and McCain has gained momentum. (By the way, note the bias in the linked article, which gives excuses for Obama and tries to refute McCain’s debating points.) I worry, though, on another level, that we have lost some of the old virtues of citizenship that took self-government more seriously.

Is this any way to pick a Vice President?

It appears that both candidates will be announcing their vice presidential choices very soon. Perhaps we could have a non-partisan discussion on the matter. It seems to me that it is anti-democratic and just wrong for presidential candidates to have the power to select–according to their whim, personal preference, or political ticket-balancing calculation–an individual to hold this important office.

The notion that the vice presidential office is worth less than a warm bucket of spit, as one holder of that office put it, and so doesn’t matter is just not true. The VP can very well ascend to the highest office in the land, and often has. At the very least, the VP is the chairman of the Senate, which is no mean responsibility. And very often, after the president fulfills his term, the VP becomes the leading candidate for the succession. The office is too important for it to be filled by personal appointment as chosen by one individual.

I think people should run for the office, or, at least, be chosen by the party convention.

Do I have a point?

Tainted money

A man won $6 million in the Florida lottery. Doubtless grateful to God, he wanted to give a tithe to his church. But the Baptist congregationturned down the $600,000 since it came from gambling. Is that integrity or legalistic scrupulosity?

Good times for farmers

In 2005, corn sold for $2 per bushel. Today, it goes for $6 per bushel. Farmers’ land is now worth more than ever. Agricultural-related businesses are booming, and the farm states–unlike other parts of the country–are thriving economically. This article gives details. Farmers work hard, we all depend on them for our daily bread, but they are often poorly rewarded. I’m glad they are doing well.