The three candidates on the economy

The Washington Post, in a useful exercise, asked spokesmen for each of the three presidential candidates about what each of them would do to address our current economic problems. Go here, then click each candidate in turn.

The notion that Obama and Clinton have virtually the same policies does not hold, at least for this issue. And it is certainly not true that McClain is just like the Democrats. He stands for conservative free-market economic policies, addressing our problems through tax cuts, letting those who made bad investments fail, and refusing to bail out the financial industry. Obama offers a series of ingenious “incentives and guarantees” that would protect the little guys caught up in all of this, policies that would increase government’s impact in the economy, but which sound like they respect a free market and a free society. Clinton’s proposals, though, are full of government fiats: She would impose a 90 day moratorium on home foreclosures. The rhetoric is about what the government should permit and not permit. (E.g., “Complex lending vehicles for sophisticated financiers must ultimately be shown to benefit America’s working families”–shown to whom? who is going to have the power to approve or disallow such investments?) The point is, Clinton sounds far more hard-core statist than Obama does.

CBS looks for those missing snipers

CBS dug through its files and did a story on what we blogged about yesterday, juxtaposing Hillary Clinton’s speech about running with her head down from sniper fire with video clips of what actually happened. See for yourself:

Words from that Muslim the Pope baptized

More details about that Muslim journalist whom the pope baptized, and sure enough, as we predicted on our post, he is in danger and the pope is taking heat from Muslims. See Muslim baptized by pope says life in danger:

A Muslim author and critic of Islamic fundamentalism who was baptized a Catholic by Pope Benedict said on Sunday Islam is “physiologically violent” and he is now in great danger because of his conversion. “I realize what I am going up against but I will confront my fate with my head high, with my back straight and the interior strength of one who is certain about his faith,” said Magdi Allam.

In a surprise move on Saturday night, the pope baptized the 55-year-old, Egyptian-born Allam at an Easter eve service in St Peter’s Basilica that was broadcast around the world.
The conversion of Allam to Christianity — he took the name “Christian” for his baptism — was kept secret until the Vatican disclosed it in a statement less than an hour before it began.

Writing in Sunday’s edition of the leading Corriere della Sera, the newspaper of which he is a deputy director, Allam said: “… the root of evil is innate in an Islam that is physiologically violent and historically conflictual.” Allam, who is a strong supporter of Israel and who an Israeli newspaper once called a “Muslim Zionist,” has lived under police protection following threats against him, particularly after he criticized Iran’s position on Israel.

He said before converting he had continually asked himself why someone who had struggled for what he called “moderate Islam” was then “condemned to death in the name of Islam and on the basis of a Koranic legitimization.” His conversion, which he called “the happiest day of my life,” came just two days after al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden accused the pope of being part of a “new crusade” against Islam. . . .

Allam’s highly public baptism by the pope shocked Italy’s Muslim community, with some leaders openly questioning why the Vatican chose to shine such a big spotlight it.

Hear more from CHRISTIAN Allam at First Things.

Two models of ministry

Michael Horton, one of our most insightful Christian writers, has a striking article in “Touchstone,” entitled All Crossed Up about two models of ministry and worship. He describes them with this set of dichotomies:

Ordinary Extraordinary
Communal Individualistic
Predictable and Disciplined Spontaneous and “Authentic”
Respectful of office Respectful of persons
Hierarchical Egalitarian
Patient Restless
Receptive Expressive
Mediated Immediate
Wise/Knowledgeable Practical/Intuitive
Custodial/Pastoral Entrepreneurial
Formal Casual
Mature Creative
Traditional Innovative
Deferential Independent

He argues that whereas the Bible and historic Christianity favor the left-hand side, today’s church culture favors the right-hand side.

The case of the missing snipers

Hillary Clinton, touting her experience over Barack Obama, has been saying that President Clinton would send her overseas to places that were “too dangerous” for him to go to. Mrs. Clinton specifically has been telling about how she landed in the Balkans under sniper fire:

“I remember landing under sniper fire. There was supposed to be some kind of a greeting ceremony at the airport, but instead we just ran with our heads down to get into the vehicles to get to our base.”
–Hillary Clinton, speech at George Washington University, March 17, 2008.

Since then, the comedian Sinbad, who was on that trip along with singer Sheryl Crowe, has disputed the story, saying that that they were never shot at and that the trip was pretty uneventful. So fact checkers from the Washington Post investigated.

Not only did none of the people on that trip report getting shot at, CBS had footage of the landing! Mrs. Clinton was greeting by dignitaries and a little girl read her a poem. (The article links to the footage so you can see for yourself.) No snipers were in attendance.

But this is what gets me:

According to Sinbad, who provided entertainment on the trip along with the singer Sheryl Crow, the “scariest” part was deciding where to eat. As he told Mary Ann Akers of The Post, “I think the only ‘red-phone’ moment was: ‘Do we eat here or at the next place.’” Sinbad questioned the premise behind the Clinton version of events. “What kind of president would say ‘Hey man, I can’t go ’cause I might get shot so I’m going to send my wife. Oh, and take a guitar player and a comedian with you.”

Replying to Sinbad earlier this week, Clinton dismissed him as “a comedian.” Her campaign referred me to Togo West, who was also on the trip and is a staunch Hillary supporter. West could not remember “sniper fire” himself, but said there was no reason to doubt the First Lady’s version of events. “Everybody’s perceptions are different,” he told me.

Mr. West was on the trip and didn’t remember getting shot at, something that MIGHT stick in one’s memory, but THERE WAS NO REASON TO DOUBT THE FIRST LADY? “EVERYBODY’S PERCEPTIONS ARE DIFFERENT”? That’s pure postmodernist dogmatism at its most idiotic. Either she was shot at or she was not. This is a question of fact, not “perception.” And everybody’s perceptions were not different, since no one else–including the person who said this–perceived bullets flying and having to run for cover.

What is the best–or only–construction that we could put on Mrs. Clinton’s speech? Help me out, tODD.

Robert and his Rules of Order

Once again, the US Postal Service has denied a petition to feature on a stamp the visage of Gen. Henry Martyn Robert. We have stamps honoring Wonder Woman and other individuals who do not exist, but we cannot honor the man who wrote Robert’s Rules of Order, a treatise used around the world, from church committee meetings to national parliaments, that, in many ways, makes participatory government and collective decision-making possible. I know none of us like meetings, but still, we should salute what this man accomplished. The linked article gives some background on Gen. Robert and how he came up with his rules:

As Robert the grandson tells the story, the elder Robert was living in New Bedford, Mass., in 1863 and was asked to preside over a meeting to consider the defense of the city during the Civil War.

He didn’t know beans about it [presiding over a meeting], and he found it very embarrassing,” Robert III said. “He made up his mind that if he got out of it alive, he would learn something about the subject.”

Learning something about parliamentary procedure involved reading a few books and making some notes, which he carried in his wallet for about four years.

When he moved to San Francisco, he encountered a city where prostitution was rife and Chinese laborers brought in to build the railroad were exploited, even chased by dogs for sport. Robert, a Baptist lay leader, was offended.

He joined the YMCA and several newly formed religious groups dedicated to relieving the plight of exploited souls, but he found that the city’s motley population had discordant notions about how to conduct meetings. San Francisco needed rules.

When Robert came out with the first version of his rules of order in 1876, he had trouble finding a publisher. Who’d want to read such a book? So he printed up 4,000 copies himself. Since then, Robert III says, it has sold 5 million copies.

I suspect that the very committee that turned down his stamp did so after receiving a motion that was properly seconded, with all in favor saying “aye,” and all opposed by the same sign.