Russell Kirk

I have been waiting to read the new biography of Russell Kirk by Brad Birzer for many months and am hopeful to read it very soon.  Russell Kirk was one of the old style conservatives who wrote The Conservative Mind in 1953 which was a trend setter for the modern conservative movement. According to Brad Birzer, Kirk was rather disinterested in politics with two lone exceptions.  The first was in the late 1950s and 1960s when he advised Barry Goldwater who was in his early terms as a senator for Arizona and supported his nomination for President 1964 which was unsuccessful.    Dr. Birzer wrote a piece in the Imaginative Conservative that goes into detail on how Kirk supported Goldwater.  The next time he involved himself in the political realm was toward the end of his life when he chided the neoconvervatives for their support of the First Gulf War.   As Gerald R. Russello stated in 2004 in the New York Sun:

He did not believe that the complex of customs, traditions, and norms we know as constitutional democracy could be packaged and exported to other cultures, especially under force.

Kirk died in 2004, but not before he left us with a great legacy and a pile of wisdom that will take years to pore over.  Brizer’s biography on Kirk is available from Amazon.com in hardback and Kindle formats.   It is an essential read and I hope many will enjoy its pages.

Tragedy in Paris

As of the writing of this post, over 120 people were gunned down or were killed in explosions across Paris.  Apparently, this dastardly deed was done by members who are sympathetic to the ISIS group which has occupied vast swaths of territory in Syria and Iraq as well as small portions of the Mediterranean coast in Libya.   Little is known about the men themselves, but it is clear that events that led to this event have developed over many years dating back to the  unwise actions of the United States in Iraq beginning in 1990 and interventions from other nations  dating to the end of the First World War.

Ever since the end of the First World War, the Middle East has been a cauldron of instability with either leaders ousted in violent coups (Iraq and Syria) or emirs and their decedents holding power for decades (Saudi Arabia and Bahrain).   Some good books to read on the early years of this transition from Ottoman rule to countries ruled by strongmen are John Hulsman’s fine book To Begin the World Over Again: Lawrence of Arabia from Damascus to Baghdad”  which is a short book that explains how we got  to this tragic situation and “Gertrude Bell: Queen of the Desert, Shaper of Nationsby Georgina Howell.   The West’s refusal to heed the counsel of Gertrude Bell and Lawrence of Arabia with regards to post-Ottoman rule has led to unnecessary interventions by the West to stabilize that part of the world.    There is much more to this story on how events of a century ago led to the shootings in Paris, but suffice to say, it all began with the Sykes-Picot treaty which is mentioned in Hulsman’s book.

 

Peter Hitchens’ take on the George Bell Controversy

Peter Hitchens, a columnist for the Mail on Sunday, has written a very able defense of George Bell, the former Bishop of Chichester in the November issue of the London Spectator.    It is remarkable that the accuser in this incident has remained anonymous and the evidence against Bell has remained out of public view.   Without collaborating evidence, the matter should not be brought out into the open.  The  Church of England has violated the Bible’s own standards of testimony by taking the word of just one witness.  2 Corinthians 13:1 states as follows:

Every charge must be established by the evidence of two or three witnesses.

English Common Law is the foundation for our right to a jury trial where one is tried by due process with a jury of one’s own peers.  In this day and age, the standards of common law in England have been under attack by professed “reformers” such as Simon Jenkins, columnist for the Guardian, who stated in 2013 “Juries should go the way of ducking stools and vestry duty.”    It seems that fair hearings are going the way of the dodo and George Bell’s indictment and conviction on the testimony of one person without a jury seems to be a sign of the decline of liberty in the West.

 

The Life of Karen Carpenter

A few years ago, I wrote a book review for Amazon on the life of Karen Carpenter.  She was part of the Carpenters, a soft rock duo that was very successful in the 1970s.  As with many groups in pop culture, the Carpenters were no different in encountering many trials in their lives that were a result of their fame.  The pressure was too much for Karen as she starved herself and died at the age of 33.  I still listen to her music and some people say that such music was only fit for a certain time and is “corny,” but it seems to me that such opinions are from people who cannot appreciate the harmonies of the music and the lyrics that seem quaint today.  Hopefully her memory will carry on for years to come.

On the job hunt

Being unemployed is a traumatic experience for anybody.  A person hopes to have a long career at a position and looking forward to retirement and then BOOM, out the door they go.  To be unemployed gives one a sense of rootlessness, a time in their lives where they do not know where they would go.  Of course some try to stay in one area, but the reality is that in this changing world of the job market, a move out of town is a big possibility.   Look for similar jobs not only in your home state, but also in adjoining states where a move might not be that expensive.  The key is to be enthusiastic and be ready for every interview whether in person, by video call or over the phone.  Study the job, see what the position entails and look over the website of the prospective employer.  That way, you can be ready to ask questions about the job.

As for websites, I recommend Indeed, Monster and for those who wish to seek positions in state government, Government Jobs.  At these sites, you can break down positions by salary and location and the sites are very easy to navigate.  Remember, if you have joined the ranks of the unemployed, do not fear.  Just make sure you look for work immediately and do not get discouraged.

Trashing a Forgotten Hero

To many here in America, the Reverend George Bell is a mystery.  Only those who have read the about the exploits of Dietrich Bonhoeffer come across the name.   It was Reverend Bell, the Bishop of Chichester, who was Bonhoeffer’s greatest English ally in his battle of defiance against the anti-christian activities of the Nazi regime in Germany.   Bell also conveyed to the British government that it should recognize a provisional German government in the event Hitler was ousted during the war with the help of Bonhoeffer.

Bell also was a humanitarian and spoke out against the aerial bombardment of civilian targets in Germany in a speech in the House of Lords.  After the war, he spoke mainly on nuclear disarmament and was a pioneer of the Ecumenical Movement.  Bell died in 1958 and he was remembered as a man who stood on  principle even as his chances to become Archbishop of Canterbury diminished due to his unpopular criticism of aerial bombing.

Just a few days ago, an article appeared in the Guardian stating that George Bell engaged in the sexual abuse of a young child.   The witness has remained anonymous and a sum of money was paid to that person.  Without cross-examination of this person or defense given by a man who has been dead over a half century, the fact that Bell has been given the “abuser” label without any formal jury trial smacks of character assassination by a media which takes any sort of accusation as gospel truth.  We may rue the day when an accuser comes after any of us without any collaboration and be branded an abuser for the rest of our lives.    Peter Hitchens said it best in his October 25, 2015 column when he said:

I know the C of E [Church of England] has had real problems with child abuse in recent years, and has a lot of apologising to do. No doubt. But was it wise or right to sacrifice the reputation of George Bell, to try to save its own? Who defended the dead man, in this secret process?

VW Emission Scandal

In the latest news from the environmental world, Volkswagen was found to have rigged the emission programs on their vehicles.   This has caused a stir among the minions of the EPA and the agency has vowed to crack down hard on the German automaker.  In a recent episode of the Tom Woods Show, Eric Peters addresses the issue as well as sharing his thoughts on autos that we Americans cannot buy.

Hillary’s Escape Act

The GOP once again failed to take advantage of Hillary Clinton’s disastrous policy in Libya.  Going through hours of testimony, the GOP did not press for Hillary’s explanation of why she urged President Obama to go ahead and aide rebels fighting Muammar Gaddafi.  Gaddafi, who ruled this North African nation for over 40 years, was ousted with the help of the Americans and suffered a summary execution at the hands of his captors.  Hillary’s boast of “we came, we saw, he died” has been rightly excoriated by a number of journalists and commentators including Glenn Greenwald,  Michael Scheuer and even Joel Gillin of the New Republic.   That such a disaster, with the resulting waves of refugees entering Europe and the killing of Ethiopian Christians along the Mediterranean Sea by ISIS forces having failed to put a dent in Hillary’s march toward the White House,  seems to indicate that the GOP is just along for the ride.

Once again, we have had another case of political theater inside the Beltway where players from the opposing parties engage in mock battle without much substance being accomplished.  More misery in North Africa will come for many people, including Christians whose ancestors have dwelled there for over thousands of years.  As they are being killed and their monasteries suffer destruction, Hillary will probably be dancing with her mate Bill in 2017 at the Inaugural ball if all goes according to plan.  The voters who will put her in power should heed the late H.L. Mencken’s wisdom when he said:  “Democracy is the theory that the common people know what they want, and deserve to get it good and hard.”

Welcome to my site

In the coming weeks and months, I will take you all on a ride through my thoughts on a whole range of subjects.  Politics, theology, sports, culture and much more will be coming through this website and it is my hope that I will invigorate your thought and challenge you on exploring new things.  I chose the funny name for my site (Last Plane from El Paso) as a random event that has happened in my life.  I hope that you will enjoy the ride.