The massacre in Mumbai, India is over (see here).  Now the authorities are trying to determine who is responsible.  The trampling death of an employee in a Wal-Mart store in Valley Stream on Long Island forced the store to immediately close for several hours right after its opening.  Authorities are now trying to determine which shoppers were responsible (see here). What do these two incidents have in common?  Both the terrorists who attacked Mumbai and the people in the stampeding crowd at the Long Island Wal-Mart demonstrated a lack of wisdom.

Consider the definition of wisdom.

n 1: accumulated knowledge or erudition or enlightenment
2: the trait of utilizing knowledge and experience with common
sense and insight [syn: wiseness] [ant: folly]
3: ability to apply knowledge or experience or understanding or
common sense and insight [syn: sapience]
4: the quality of being prudent and sensible [syn: wiseness,
(from here)

Neither the terrorists nor the people in the stampeding crowd are ignorant or stupid.  Nonetheless, both lacked crucial knowledge.  They lacked the ability to make good use of their knowledge and experience.  Instead, they were destructive.

Most have heard this old adage:  “A little knowledge is a dangerous thing.”  It comes from one of the works of Alexander Pope.


A small amount of knowledge can cause people to think they are more expert than they really are.


First used by Alexander Pope (1688 – 1744) in An Essay on Criticism, 1709:

“A little learning is a dangerous thing; drink deep, or taste not the Pierian spring: there shallow draughts intoxicate the brain, and drinking largely sobers us again.”

(from here)

The best way to learn wisdom is from stories told with good humor.  So it is I enjoyed reading the stories of Mark Twain. Consider this short story.

When I was a boy of fourteen, my father was so ignorant I could hardly stand to have the old man around. But when I got to be twenty-one, I was astonished at how much the old man had learned in seven years.  (from here)

Somehow as the boy became a man, he began to acquire the wisdom of his father. Seemingly, this should be the easiest of all eras to become wise. We live in the Information Age.  In a matter of minutes, anyone with a computer and a connection to the Internet can gather huge amounts of data on any subject.  The problem is digesting this data, separating what is useful from the chaff.  It takes time, effort, and courage to learn wisdom.  Where do we start?

I think it begins by learning what our forebears considered important.  What was their greatest joy?  What knowledge did they consider most valuable?   Around 1450, Johannes Gutenberg invented movable type printing (see here).  His invention made the mass production of books feasible.  What was the first book he published?  His first edition was called the Gutenberg Bible.  What is even more amazing is that copies still exist (see here, here and here for examples).

The Bible represents the accumulation of hundreds of years of wisdom from over 40 authors (see here).  These authors give us the history of their times.  They tell stories about challenges faced by real people.  They provide advice from the wise and from God.   Most important, the Bible gives us a reason for living.

Unfortunately, the Bible is not an easy read.  It does not offer simple answers.  So even amongst those we consider educated, knowledge of the Bible is surprising sparse.  Consider this example from a popular writer of fantasy.

That is the line we all straddle, between comfort and adventure.  There are those who find satisfaction, even fulfillment, in the former, and there are those who are forever seeking.

It is my guess, and can only be my guess, that the fears of the former are rooted in fear of the greatest mystery of all, death.  It is no accident that those who construct the thickest walls are most often rooted firmly, immovably, in their faith.  The here and now is as it is, and the better way will be found in the afterlife.  That proposition is central to the core beliefs that guide the faithful, with, for many, the added caveat that the afterlife will only fulfull its promise if the here and now remains in strict accord with the guiding principles of the chosen deity.

The author of the above is R. A. Salvatore.  The two paragraphs above are from The Orc King.  What the two paragraphs betray is a misunderstanding of the meaning of faith.  Faith is about belief.  Faith also provides comfort, but it provides this comfort within the context of seeking and adventure.

Faith is about finding the courage to act upon what you know to be true.  That is not as easy as it sounds.  Think of the things we each did growing up.  We learned to swim, stand before a group and give a presentation, drive a car, go to work the first day on our first job…..  Each new endeavor requires of us a small act of personal courage, to have faith in what we know to be true.  Religious faith requires even more courage.  The believer must act upon truths we cannot prove.  That faith sometimes even requires the faithful allow themselves to be subjected to ridicule and persecution.

When God calls upon us to serve as his hands and feet, He asks us to walk with Him in a journey outside our comfort zone.  The Bible is the guide for the Christian faithful.  The Bible explains God’s purpose for us. It gives examples of the trials of those who have gone before us.  And the Bible provides words of reassurance.  Most of all, the Bible itself is a sign of God’s concern for us.  The Bible is a miracle for our age.  Without His guiding hand, the Bible‘s creation and survival is inexplicable.

Other Views

The Terrorist Attack on Mumbai

The Virginian Federalist wonders aloud about Barack Obama’s attitude towards torture.  How would Obama react if the outrage in Mumbai had occured here?  See here.

Bearing Drift (See here.) and Democratic Central (See here and here.)tell us about the Virginians who died in Mumbai.

novatownhall blog provides a summary of yesterday’s news articles. See here.

From On High highlights the terror effect of the attack.  See here.

SWAC Girl tells us this attack was expected.  See here.

The right-wing liberal mourns with India.  See here.

With respect to all the above reports, there is more stoicism than anger.  It is a distant event, but it could happen here.  So we pay attention.

Wal-Mart Stampede

ANTI-BVBL asks readers for shopping stories and wonders if the recession is over.  See here.

The Mud Pit (See here.) and The Valley Progress Report (See here.) agree on something.

There are certain things that find widespread bipartisan agreement, and the death of a store employee-as a couple hundred animals, seeking to save a few bucks, trample the life out of him-ought to be one of them. (quote from here).

Curiously, while the deaths in India sparked more posts, the death of one employee sparked more outrage than the much more numerous and deliberate murders in India.



UNCHARTED TERRITORY! — Federal Budget Info – Must See Video


Cartoon from here.



H/T to Everyday Opinions on Public Policy & Welfare.  From this post.

I.O.U.S.A has a video at www.iousathemovie.com that goes over our debt crisis.  The first segment of the YouTube version is below (They are linked together.). Please view the video before you consider my comments.

Some say this movie is nonpartisan.  Nonetheless, this byte-size version of the movie puts much of the blame on Ronald Reagan and George Bush for our current fiscal situation.  Blaming our leaders is grossly unfair.  This problem has little to do with leadership.   We do not have a leadership deficit.  We have too many people demanding too much government.  We the People have a deficit of wisdom.

Our budget is growing out of control solely because of us.  We are demanding the wrong things from our government.  Government exists to protect our right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.  Government does not exist to give us happiness.  Nevertheless, we have insisted government give us happiness, and we have nationalized far too much.  That includes such monstrous expenses as:

  • Retirement savings.
  • Medical care.
  • School, business, and home loans.
  • Welfare.

There are several problems with the Federal Government being so involved in our economy.

  • There is a conflict of interest.  We depend upon the Federal Government to regulate private enterprise.  When government takes upon itself activities that normally would be performed by nonprofits and private business interests, government becomes responsible for regulating itself.  That never works well.
  • Government regulates our currency.  We depend upon government to ensure the value of our currency.  When government spending becomes large enough, it becomes difficult for government to collect the taxes it needs to pay for its spending.  When government cannot raise sufficient revenues to pay for its spending, it just prints what it needs.  That inflates our currency.
  • The easiest way to solve a big problem is to break that problem up into smaller problems.  That is one reason why state budgets are more manageable than the Federal Budget.  Local government budgets are still easier to manage.  When we are not too heavily taxed, family budgets are the most easy to manage of all.

When we look at the Federal Budget, there is no question who is going to break it.  Even when we have clear evidence that the numbers will never add up, Baby Boomers still expect to retire, collect Social Security, and benefit from government financed medical care.   We naively expect others to pay for our laziness and our goodies.  If any private corporation tried to operate its business the way the Federal Government operates the Social Security Administration, we would see prosecutions (see Pyramid Scheme).   The same is true for Medicare.

The first of our generation will soon reach “retirement age.”  Is it not time we grew up and acted like responsible, mature adults?  Instead of trying to get Mommy and Daddy government pay for everything, is it not time we admitted certain unalterable realities?

  • The Federal Government cannot pay for everything we want.
  • Taxpayers are not bottomless ATM machines.
  • No matter how calmly or self-assuredly a politician tells a lie, it is still a lie.
  • Socialism is a recipe for disaster.

There is only one way to reduce the Federal Budget.  We must work until we drop.  Our children will not let us parasitize them and their children.  We do not have the right to expect such a thing.  Instead, we are obligated to protect them.

The outfit responsible for I.O.U.S.A is the Peter G. Peterson Foundation.


Cartoon from here.

The Ant and the Grasshopper

Illustrated by Scott Roberto

In a field one summer’s day a Grasshopper was hopping about, chirping and singing to its heart’s content. An Ant passed by, bearing along with great toil an ear of corn he was taking to the nest.


“Why not come and chat with me,” said the Grasshopper, “instead of toiling and moiling in that way?”

“I am helping to lay up food for the winter,” said the Ant, “and recommend you to do the same.”

“Why bother about winter?” said the Grasshopper; we have got plenty of food at present.” But the Ant went on its way and continued its toil.

When the winter came the Grasshopper found itself dying of hunger, while it saw the ants distributing, every day, corn and grain from the stores they had collected in the summer.

sroberto_t2Then the Grasshopper knew…

It is best to prepare for the days of necessity.

(from here)




There are two parts to Thanksgiving Day.

The first part is the hard work of learning to live in God’s grace.  Then we see His miracles and begin to understand how He makes life worth celebrating and giving thanks.

The second part happens on the occasion of Thanksgiving Day.  We gather family and friends.  Then as a nation we take the time to reflect upon what He has given us.  We humble ourselves in the knowledge that He makes all things possible.  We thank Him for His blessings.

Below is a video (H/T to Crystal Clear Conservative) of a Thanksgiving Day celebration.  The video is from one of Charles Kuralt‘s “On the Road” segments on The CBS Evening News with Walter Cronkite.





Cartoon from here.

elephantgop.pngThis was the sort of meeting no one wants to see.  Yet it went as well as could be expected.  Lyle Beefelt, the Chair of the Prince William County Republican Committee, went over why we lost and what we need to do about it.  He began with the vote totals.  Let it suffice to say that even though more people turned out, McCain got fewer votes than Bush in 2004.

Why did the Democrats win?  Beefelt said national factors involved the economy, negative media coverage, and the fact that Obama hugely outspent McCain.  Obama’s spending swamped our local efforts.  Although our volunteer base was twice as large as it was in 2004, The local Democratic Party got a significant boost courtesy of the Obama campaign.  Democrats easily outstaffed and outspent us.

So what do we do?  Beefelt pointed out that in some respects, the PWC GOP came out of the election in good shape.  We have more money (Federal election laws, courtesy of McCain-Feingold, limited how much we could spend.).   We have also identified a large, local volunteer base.   Our problem now is to hold this organization together.

Beefelt then let our Membership Committee Chairman, Tom Whitmore, describe his proposal.  Essentially, Whitmore described how the Committee should work.  He described an organization that maintains grassroots organizational integrity from one year to the next.  He said District Chairs and Precinct Captains must take a stronger role.  District Chairs need to recruit Precinct Captains.  Precinct Captains need to work with volunteers in their precincts, focusing on fund raising, identifying Republican voters, getting out the vote and manning the polls on Election Day.

There is only one way to make such a plan work.  We must depend upon our own initiative to get the job done.  Consider how Jeanine Lawson, our Vice Chair, responded to a complaint.  She asked the person making the complaint to take up the task of fixing the problem.

The PWCGOP is a volunteer organization.  We don’t have lots of money; we are all volunteers.  Unless our leadership can depend on us, we cannot depend on our leadership.

Although there was general frustration with the simple fact that the Republican Party did not get its message out, comments from other committee members were generally positive.   When members complained that our candidates did not do a good job of defining and carrying the party’s message, Beefelt explain that it is our job to help our choose our candidates, define their message, give them support when they deliver that message.  While Beefelt’s statement met with some grumbling, no one could argue with it.

Other members spoke up and explained that we have to get out in the community and explain what the Republican Party is about.  Many of our new Hispanic citizens, for example, live much more conservatively than they voted.  Unfortunately, the Democratic Party did a much better job of asking for their support than we did.

So instead of fixing blame, the meeting focused on fixing problems, and that was a good thing.  As another member stated, we have to stop fighting amongst ourselves.

David Ray, one of our State Central Committee representatives, made a point of stating that he would continue to support Jeff Frederick as the RPV Chair.  That announcement met with general approval.


Cartoon from here.


Cartoon from here.

One Man Was a Tyrant; The Other a Citizen-Leader.

  • A constitution should be framed so as not to impede the action of government, nor force the government to its violation.
  • A constitution should be short and obscure.
  • Quotes from Napoleon Bonaparte (from here)

  • With respect to the words “general welfare,” I have always regarded them as qualified by the detail of powers connected with them. To take them in a literal and unlimited sense would be a metamorphosis of the Constitution into a character which there is a host of proofs was not contemplated by its creators.
  • I cannot undertake to lay my finger on that article of the Constitution which granted a right to Congress of expending, on objects of benevolence, the money of their constituents.
  • Quotes from James Madison (from here)