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25 January 2002

Poor Ken Lay, Ellen Goodman, Religion and The Founding, etc

Many of us who live in Houston understand that the Greater Houston Partnership essentially calls the shots at the dreadful local paper, which helps explain why the local paper is so dreadful (it's basically a cheerleading outfit for certain interests in the city). Richard Connelly has a fine column over at the Houston Press (as usual) that describes just how bad the Chron has been journalistically in terms of covering the Enron mess. But just when I thought they couldn't get any worse, here are tomorrow's headlines:

Enron chief's departure creates huge civic void
I just love the interview with Bob Stein, political science prof at Rice, who concludes that Lay won't be running for mayor anytime soon! No, Professor Stein, probably not. That may be hard to do from a jail cell. This is truly an unbelievable puff piece. In fact, you get the idea that maybe somebody wrote an obituary for Lay a year ago -- you know, just in case -- and they just restructured a few paragraphs and came up with this.

Ken Lay known as man of humble beginnings
And probably his jail cell is going to be even more humbling. I'm just amazed that the Chron concedes his legacy "may be in doubt." That's quite a concession from our Chron.

Like Enron employees, Lay could lose nearly all
Doesn't this article just make you weep for Ken Lay? He could lose nearly all! Well, there's still that $400,000 annual pension plan that is probably protected. But the man was worth hundreds of millions of dollars, and $400,000 is just a pittance in comparison! Are you weeping yet? How does the Chron write this crap?

Legal maze likely to keep Lay busy
Naaaahhhh.... Ya think?!

* * * *

I stayed home from work today to work on the introduction (lit review) to the dissertation. I got a little more than halfway through it, before my brain just went dead. In all, a pretty productive day. I've about convinced myself it's a decent dissertation.

* * * *

Now that Ellen Goodman has weighed in with her typical brilliance, I guess there's no need to read any great books or engage in learned debate on the topic of cloning. We can probably even put aside the sci-fi novels. Because Ellen Goodman's writing is just that probing. And convincing. Right?

* * * *

In response to the recent relaxing of rules for dress of military women in Saudi Arabia, a Saudi newspaper editor had this to say:

But if some American women want to deliberately challenge our local customs, then you'll see a clash, especially with the mutawaeen," he said, referring to stick-wielding religious police who roam Saudi streets to enforce Islamic codes.

I rarely gamble, even on sports, but knowing the few military women that I do, I would wager a decent amount of money that they could hold their own. Indeed, I'm guessing the stick-wielders would be running with their sticks between... something, by the time the American women were done with 'em.

* * * *

I agree with Den Beste's assessment of the legislation recently introduced in Washington state, but a couple of his constitutional assertions are a bit off. The first amendment only banned the establishment of religion by the national government, and most certainly did not extend to the states, several of which had established religions. The Supremacy Clause had nothing to do with it, and it is incorrect to state that it extended the First Amendment to the states. That was only done via the Fourteenth Amendment, in what many contend is a misapplication of that amendment (I'm among that group of critics, for reasons having nothing to do with religion). John Eastman's discussion of that issue in this op-ed is pretty good, although some of his other points need elaboration, especially those on the religious intentions of the Founders (fortunately, seriously scholars like Ellis Sandoz, Barry Alan Shain, Don Lutz, the late Daniel Elazar, to name a few, have done plenty of heavy lifting in that area).

Too often, contemporary sensibilities and understandings color our interpretation of the Founding Era (and great books, for that matter, if I may lapse into Straussian mode). I know in the past I've let my Randian/libertarian leanings color some of my thought (as with many topics outside of her expertise, Rand's descriptions of the Founding are not altogether accurate) -- at least before I became a serious student of the Founding Era. What is most interesting to me is that the Founders managed to find the common ground between reason and faith (Athens and Jerusalem) to put together a nation -- and that we continue to see the manifestation of that tension in contemporary issues, ranging from abortion to cloning.

It's especially odd that I'm not at all religious, yet am fascinated by the religious question, whether in political philosophy broadly, or in American political thought. And I've always been fascinated by the political sermons of the Founding Era.

[Posted @ 12:16 AM CST]

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