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Pat Buchanan - The decline of Christian America

"This is a Christian nation," said the Supreme Court in 1892.

"America was born a Christian nation," echoed Woodrow Wilson. Harry Truman affirmed it: "This is a Christian nation."

But in 2009, Barack Hussein Obama begged to differ: "We do not consider ourselves a Christian nation."

Comes now a Pew Research Center survey that reveals the United States is de-Christianizing at an accelerated rate.

Whereas 86 percent of Americans in 1990 identified as Christians, by 2007, that was down to 78 percent. Today only 7 in 10 say they are Christians. But the percentage of those describing themselves as atheists, agnostics or nonbelievers has risen to 23. That exceeds the Catholic population and is only slightly below evangelicals.

Those in the mainline Protestant churches — Presbyterians, Lutherans, Methodists, Episcopalians — have plummeted from 50 percent of the U.S. population in 1958 to 14 percent today. By accommodating the social revolution of the 1960s to stay relevant, mainline churches appear to have made themselves irrelevant to America's young.

The decline in Christian identity is greatest among the young. While 85 percent of Americans born before 1945 still call themselves Christians, only 57 percent of those born after 1980 do.

If we want to see our future, we should probably look to Europe, where Catholic Ireland just voted in a landslide to legalize same-sex marriage and where cathedrals and churches are being turned into tourist attractions and museums and even bars and restaurants.

What are the causes of a de-Christianized America?

High among them is the Supreme Court, which, since the Earl Warren era began, purged Christianity from all public schools and the public square — and has been met with a puzzling lack of resistance from Middle America to the secularist revolution being imposed upon it.

Second, an anti-Christian elite captured the cultural heights — the arts, elite universities, popular culture, the media — and began, through movies, books and magazines, an assault on Christian beliefs and morality.

Third was the social revolution of the 1960s, which began with the arrival of the baby boomers on campus in 1964. Five years on, Woodstock Nation was wallowing in the mud, listening to Country Joe & the Fish.

The counterculture of the '60s would be used as a foil to build 49-state landslides for Richard Nixon and Ronald Reagan, but then the '60s views and values were embraced by the elites and came to dominate the culture in the time of Bill and Hillary Clinton. Given his baggage, "Slick Willy" of Yoknapatawpha County would have been a comic figure in the 1950s. Today he is the Democratic Party's beau ideal of a statesman.
Many churches came out to meet the cultural revolution halfway. The results were irrelevance and scandal — too many Elmer Gantrys in televangelist pulpits and too many predators in priestly cassocks.

What are the consequences of a de-Christianized America and West? Si monumentum requiris, circumspice. (If you would seek its monuments, look around you.)

Half of marriages end in divorce. Fewer children are being born, and of these, over 40 percent are out of wedlock. Record drug use rates and dropout rates and soaring crime rates that have declined only because we have an incarceration rate that rivals South Africa's.

Despite astonishing advances in medicine, we have far more and far more varied and deadly STDs.

As Christianity dies, individualism, materialism and hedonism replace it. "Selfies" could be the name for the generation for whom Easter Sunday long ago took a back seat to Super Bowl Sunday. More than a million abortions a year, assisted suicide and euthanasia are seen as the milestones of social progress in the new America.

"Panem et circenses," bread and circuses, were what the late Roman Empire was all about. With us, it is sex, drugs and rock, with variations on all three.

Historically, as the faith dies, the culture and civilization to which it gave birth die, and then the people die. And a new tribe with its own gods comes to occupy the emptying land.

On the old and new continents, it is the native-born of European ancestry who are de-Christianizing, aging and dying. And the nations they created are the ones depopulating.

To occupy Rome, the barbarians came from the east and north. To occupy the West, they are coming from the south. And like the Romans of the fourth century, we seem paralyzed and powerless to stop them.

Christianity was the founding faith of the West. That faith and the moral code and culture it produced once united this disparate and diverse nation and civilization.

As Christianity fades away and the moral code and culture it generated recede into irrelevance, what will hold us together?

Economically, we are dependent on foreigners for the necessities of our national life. Our politics are poisonous. Our racial divisions, once ameliorated by shared belief in the same God and Bible, are rawer than they were in the 1950s.

As for equality, diversity and global democracy, who will march and die for that?

Historian Arnold Toynbee said it well: "Civilizations die from suicide, not by murder."

(Syndicated columnist Pat Buchanan has been a senior advisor to three presidents, twice a candidate for the Republican presidential nomination and the presidential nominee of the Reform Party in 2000. He won the New Hampshire Republican Primary in 1996.)

Last Updated on Tuesday, 26 May 2015 07:50

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Froma Harrop - Why do so many eggs come from Iowa?

An outbreak of bird flu has forced American farmers to kill millions of egg-laying chickens, 32 million in Iowa alone — hence the rise in egg prices.

But why so many? Because our eggs are now produced by a handful of gigantic farms. When one of their birds gets sick, the farmers have to kill them all.

This concentration of egg production wasn't always the case. In the 1970s, there were about 10,000 commercial egg companies, according to The Wall Street Journal. Today there are fewer than 200.

Bird flu aside, depending on a few farms, mainly in the Midwest, for most of our eggs doesn't make much sense. Eggs can be laid anywhere in the country. That includes backyards in Denver, New York and Des Moines.

So many urbanites have taken up chicken husbandry that cities are setting down strict rules for the activity. Poultry farming in dense neighborhoods is problematic. More on that later.

But every city has farms nearby that could supply eggs. The reason a few industrial farms dominate the business is that bigger is cheaper.

"Our customer base is demanding the lowest cost possible, and that causes us to put 6 million chickens on one farm," an executive at Rose Acre Farms told the Journal.

Some consumers care greatly about where their eggs, as well as apples, come from. The more local the better.

But fast-food chains and warehouse stores gravitate to the lowest prices. The restaurants don't necessarily buy eggs as most of us know them. McDonald's uses eggs in liquid form for many of its dishes (though the Egg McMuffin, the McDonald's website clearly states, is made with "a freshly cracked, Grade A egg").

Interesting that the concept of "food miles" — the distance American produce travels before reaching the table — was pioneered at Iowa State University's Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture. Researchers there found that California onions sold in Des Moines typically journey over 1,700 miles. Produce trucked from outside the state uses between four and 17 times more fuel than that grown locally.
And Iowa hardly lacks for farmland.

As drought strikes California's agricultural kingdom, concerns are rising about its ability to "feed the nation." Meanwhile, more Americans are wondering why all their carrots must come from there. The water crisis enhances their arguments for local agriculture.

About backyard chicken farming: This is not a job for squeamish city people. Chickens smell, and their coops must be cleaned. Hens reach a point when they can no longer lay eggs. Are urban farmers emotionally equipped to turn a "pet" into Sunday dinner — or to provide retirement facilities for a hen past her prime?

Also, sooner or later, something gruesome is going to happen to one of the chickens. A dog may get at it. Or the chicken comes down ill.

Neighbors may object to the clucking and the odors. They have a point.

The desire to connect more closely with our food sources is a good one. But the idea of raising chickens in small backyards is more romantic than the reality.

In densely packed areas, growing silent lettuce, tomatoes and string beans may be more neighborly than raising living, squawking farm animals. Better to patronize your local egg producer. That would bring both fresher eggs and help boost your local farmer.

Meanwhile, there's no point in stressing over buying food products from elsewhere in the country, especially those needing special climates (avocados) or wide-open spaces (beef). Without our food distribution system, produce sections up north would be pretty dull in February.

Moderation in all obsessions is the way to go.

(A member of the Providence Journal editorial board, Froma Harrop writes a nationally syndicated column from that city. She has written for such diverse publications as The New York Times, Harper's Bazaar and Institutional Investor.)

Last Updated on Monday, 25 May 2015 05:27

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Pat Buchanan - What the fall of Ramadi means

The fall of Ramadi, capital of Anbar, largest province in Iraq, after a rout of the Iraqi army by a few hundred ISIS fighters using bomb-laden trucks, represents a stunning setback for U.S. policy.

When President Obama declared that we shall "degrade and defeat" the Islamic State, he willed the ends, but not the means. The retreat from Ramadi makes clear that the Iraqi army, even backed by 3,000 U.S. troops, cannot drive ISIS out of Anbar and Mosul and back into Syria.

Baghdad cannot alone reunite Iraq.

Republicans are almost gleeful in charging that Obama's withdrawal of U.S. forces from Iraq created the vacuum the Islamic State has now filled.

Blaming Obama for ISIS in Iraq is shaping up to be the 2016 GOP attack line. But when it comes to the critical question — do Republicans favor reintroducing U.S. ground troops to retake Ramadi and Mosul and drive ISIS back into Syria? — no credible GOP presidential candidate is clamoring for a return to Mesopotamia. None of the mice wants to bell that particular cat.

Yet, absent American leadership and U.S. troops, who is going to expel the Islamic State? The only forces in Iraq able to attempt that are the Shiite militias whose sectarian barbarity is exceeded only by that of ISIS itself.

For the Sunnis of Anbar to be liberated by Shiite militias is like the Catholic Poles being liberated by the Red Army in 1945. Many Sunnis fear a rescue by Shiite militias more than they do the domination of the Islamic State.

America's choices in Iraq, none good, come down to these:

One: Reintroduce 10,000 ground troops and Marines to retake Ramadi and Anbar, and thousands more to retake Mosul and cleanse Iraq of ISIS. Another surge, like 2007. Yet that does not solve the problem of the Islamic State, which would retreat to Syria and wait for the Americans to leave Iraq again.

Two: Adopt a policy of degrade-and-contain by continuing air strikes on the Islamic State in Iraq, while training and backing the Iraqi army and Kurds in keeping ISIS out of Baghdad and Irbil.

Three: Accept the inevitable — that the Shiite-led Iraq we created by dethroning Saddam and smashing his Baathist state and army is going to be in the orbit of Iran. For we cannot now, without a major and indefinite reintroduction of U.S. forces, alter the existing balance of military and political power in Iraq.
Before the United States replicates the epochal blunder Bush II and the neocons committed, we should look hard at the realities of Iraq and the region, as we failed to do before we invaded.

The relevant realities are these.

First, the Iraqis are incapable of reuniting and pacifying their country themselves. To hold Iraq together and keep it out of Iran's sphere would require a large and indefinite presence of U.S. forces. How much more American blood and treasure is that worth?

Second, while the reintroduction of U.S. ground forces may be cheered by our Western allies, no NATO troops will be there beside us. As far as the West is concerned, Iraq is America's problem.

Nor will the Turks, Jordanians, Saudis or Gulf Arabs be sending troops to fight ISIS in Iraq or Syria. For them, the greater long-term dangers are: Iran, Hezbollah, Bashar Assad's Syria, Shiite Baghdad, and the Houthi rebels of Yemen, the so-called Shiite Crescent.

Another reality is that neither Syria, nor Iraq, nor Libya, nor Yemen is likely, soon, to be brought together as a unified nation-state under a government supported by a great majority of its people. Any regimes that rise in the capitals of these four nations seem certain to be seen by a significant slice of the population as illegitimate, and valid targets for revolutionary violence.

The Middle East is becoming a basket of failed states. And as we look around that region, every country is looking out for No. 1.

The Turks looked the other way as volunteers entered Syria to join ISIS. The Turks then let Kurds cross into Syria to keep ISIS out of Kobane. Now, according to Assad, the Turks are aiding al-Qaida (the Nusra Front) in establishing its own caliphate in Idlib. The Saudis and Gulf Arabs also, says Assad, aided the Nusra Front in taking Idlib.

And what of us?

Considering the millions of dead, wounded, uprooted, homeless, sick and suffering, American-born and native-born, have our wars and bombings in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Libya, Yemen been, on balance, more a blessing than a curse to the people we went to help?

Before we plunge back into these Middle East wars from which, at long last, we have begun to extricate ourselves, we ought to recall the words of that anonymous U.S. officer in Vietnam: "We had to destroy the village — in order to save it."

(Syndicated columnist Pat Buchanan has been a senior advisor to three presidents, twice a candidate for the Republican presidential nomination and the presidential nominee of the Reform Party in 2000. He won the New Hampshire Republican Primary in 1996.)

Last Updated on Friday, 22 May 2015 12:47

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Jim Hightower - Obama's ugly show of presidential petulance

When the going got tough, Barack got in a huff, and then he got gruff.

President Obama has worked himself into such a tizzy over the TPP that he's lashing out at his progressive friends in Congress. He's mad because they refuse to be stereotypical lemmings, following him over this political cliff called the Trans-Pacific Partnership. It masquerades as a "free trade agreement," but such savvy and feisty progressive senators as Sherrod Brown, Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren have ripped off the mask, revealing that TPP is not free, not about trade and not anything that the American people would ever agree to.

It is a stealth power grab, written in top-secret negotiations by and for multinational corporations from the U.S. and 11 other nations. This raw deal effectively empowers these profiteering corporate giants to overrule actions by the governments of any of these countries — including ours — that protect consumers, workers, the environment and other interests from corporate abuse.

This gift to the Trans-Pacific Titans is going to expand the rules of trade deals of the past such as NAFTA, WTO and Korea FTA. A few examples of what we have to look forward to with this turd of a deal the president is trying to polish and force onto the American people are: more off-shoring of American jobs, which in turn leads to greater income inequality; higher costs for lifesaving and sustaining medicines; our environmental protections will be under threat of corporate attack; food and product safety regulations will be undermined; net neutrality will once again be challenged; Wall Street reform will be nothing but a memory; and say so long to Buy American initiatives.

Why an American president — especially a Democrat — would embrace this private usurpation of our people's sovereignty is a mystery, but the great majority of congressional Democrats are not going along. So he's been publicly scolding them (as though they're disobedient children), huffily whining that they're playing politics, "whupping on me" and making up "stuff" about how this deal allows corporations to challenge and even change American laws.

Yet, rather than offer any evidence that they're making up stuff, Obama gruffly made up stuff about them. By opposing the TPP, he prevaricated in a recent speech, the Democrats are anti-trade and want to "pull up the drawbridge and build a moat around ourselves."
The president is on such thin ice with this ponderous giveaway to global corporate giants that his appeals for support have turned desperate, including this recent claim that TPP "is the most progressive trade deal in history."

Wow, that's a low bar! Does he mean more progressive than the thoroughly regressive NAFTA? Or maybe he's comparing TPP to King George III's East India Trading Company, which was such a bully that it sparked the American Revolution.

Indeed, Obama is doing some bullying of his own. He's pushing the lie that such Democrats as Warren are lying when they point out that TPP would let foreign corporations sue the USA in corporate-run international tribunals to force our officials to weaken or kill laws that might pinch a corporation's profits. "There is no chance, zero chance" of that happening, the president barked.

But, as he knows, it already has happened!

In April, under another trade agreement, his own administration was directed by a WTO tribunal to change — and essentially gut — a U.S. food-labeling law that dramatically reduced the killing of dolphins by commercial tuna-fishing fleets. Responding to public outrage over the mass slaughtering of the mammals, our Congress passed an effective dolphin-free law. But some tuna operations in Mexico complained that using dolphin-free nets hurt their profits, and the WTO ordered our sovereign nation to surrender our law to the dolphin-killing Mexican profiteers.

And just this past Monday, the WTO ordered the USofA to change its country-of-origin labeling laws, effectively saying our consumers do not have a right to know where the meat they eat is coming from.

By claiming that "no trade agreement is going to force us to change our laws," Obama is either lying, or he doesn't know what's in his own agreement.

What a pathetic show of presidential petulance! It's time for Obama to question himself — not his friends.

(Jim Hightower has been called American's most popular populist. The radio commentator and former Texas Commissioner of Agriculture is author of seven books, including "There's Nothing In the Middle of Road but Yellow Stripes and Dead Armadillos" and his new work, "Swim Against the Current: Even Dead Fish Can Go With The Flow".)

Last Updated on Friday, 22 May 2015 08:37

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Sanborn — Who's on deck?

So, it's Memorial Day once again and this is where we kind of kick off the summer season. This holiday may involve having a barbeque out on the back deck with lots of friends and family. So, I thought I would do a public service announcement and tell you about the history of decks as well as some things to watch out for. And, did you know that the common household deck is one of most dangerous parts of the house? It should be used with extreme caution while partying.

First, the history of decks. Unfortunately, when I Googled "decks" there really wasn't any historical info that came up. All I found was the definition: "structure of planks or plates, approximately horizontal, extending across a ship or boat at any of various levels, especially one of those at the highest level and open to the weather." I also saw something about deck the hall, decks of cards, and what Mohammed Ali did to Sonny Liston. Apparently the term (deck) originated from the "Middle English dekke covering of a ship, from Middle Dutch *dec covering, probably from Middle Low German vordeck, from vordecken to cover, from vor- for- + decken to cover; akin to Old High German decchen to cover."

But, I happen to know that the common everyday house deck was invented by a redneck in Arkansas named Rooster Decker back in 1946. He had just returned home from World War II and wanted to have a party celebrating his return but his back yard was turned to mud by all his critters that were allowed to roam free while he was gone. Luckily, he had lots of pallets available and placed them on the ground in the back yard and voila, the deck was born. Of course, at parties in subsequent years he put plywood over the pallets because the first year both his cousin Zeke and his neighbor J.J. broke their ankles stepping in the slots in the pallets. Eventually, the name Decker became shortened to just "deck."

Improvements were made in decks over the years and they were eventually raised off the ground to prevent the critters from coming onto the deck and scurrying off with the unprotected barbecued goodies. But elevating the deck also led to some structural issues that need to be looked at particularly if you are buying a house with a deck and are going to have large groups of people partying, eating food, drinking, and generally hanging out on the deck. You better be sure the deck is constructed properly or the party could be ruined big time. That's where the home inspector comes in. These guys have partied on many a deck and are experts in finding problems.

While some rednecks might elevate a deck using 55 gallon drums or old wheels and tires, the correct method is to use pressure treated posts setting on concrete sona tubes (pilings) that are put into the ground going down below the frost level. That prevents the deck from heaving up and down with the frost. Of course Rooster didn't have a frost problem in Alabama, but we northern rednecks face more challenges.

Attaching an elevated deck to the house so that it doesn't fall off requires it to be lagged to the structure not just nailed. Nails will fail you when you get too many people on the deck dancing to Lynyrd Skynyrd and drinking margaritas. Many people have been seriously injured or killed rocking out to "Sweet Home Alabama" on improperly constructed decks. No kidding.

Another big problem occurs when a deck is not flashed correctly. Flashing is a metal strip that prevents water from seeping down between the deck and house. If flashing isn't done or done improperly water gets in there and causes the wood to rot. Lots of time we see decks built by do-it-yourself city folks that are done wrong. Rednecks always use flashing, or empty, flattened Mountain Dew cans... and sometimes they also streak, which is just a different kind of flashing.

The deck floor joists should be hung with metal hangers, not just nailed together Willie Nillie. And there are guidelines for correct spacing and spans for floor joists. Correctly constructed stairways and railings will prevent serious injury and falls. Things are risky enough out there on the deck without adding additional danger. We don't want little Timmie falling off the deck because the balusters were improperly spaced. Always use a good contractor to build your deck if you don't already have one and always get a home inspector when you buy a house because he will check it out thoroughly. This is the end of this week's public service announcement.

There were 63 residential homes sold in the twelve communities in the Lakes Region covered by the report. The average sales price came in at $341,682 and the median price point was $235,000. Forty four out of the sixty three buyers opted for homes with decks. It should be noted that not all of these buyers were rednecks.

P​ease feel free to visitwww.lakesregionhome.comto learn more about the Lakes Region real estate market and comment on this article and others. ​Data compiled using the NNEREN MLS system as of 5/20/15. ​Roy Sanborn is a sales associate at Four Seasons Sotheby's International Realty and can be reached at 603-677-7012

Last Updated on Friday, 22 May 2015 07:41

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