Arvel Yule

The Arvel at Yuletide:

Last spring, we held the arvel for my father-in-law. Unsurprisingly, his wife of fifty years did not long survive him. I wrote of her here, and can think of no better memorial. She died Wednesday.

As a consequence of her death, I am home from Iraq on two weeks' emergency leave. My wife, who loved her mother dearly but is relieved to see an end to her suffering, says that the timing was like a last gift from her mother. Knowing the strength of the lady's spirit, I would not be surprised.



To my knowledge, no organization with the above name exists. That is a pity because it should. If, as many pundits claim, evangelical Christian conservatives are responsible for Huckabee’s surging poll numbers then some of us need to stand athwart his campaign momentum and yell “HALT!”

I will concede that some of the criticisms of Huckabee smack of regional and religious bias. That is both unfortunate and unnecessary because there are SOOOOO many other reasons to criticize him. Additionally, criticisms intended to make Huckabee appear like some uneducated Southern hick fundamentalist will only have the effect of causing many evangelicals, especially in the South, to become defensively sympathetic to his candidacy.

For those who don’t know me, I am a proud Southerner from a South Mississippi family. I was born, bred, and remain a devout Southern Baptist. As a fellow Southern, Southern Baptist Mr. Huckabee would appear to be my ideal candidate. Unfortunately, I am also something else that Mr. Huckabee is not; a small government conservative that believes in reduced taxation. Consequently, I will not support Huckabee.

As I pointed out earlier, many pundits claim that evangelical conservatives are flocking to Huckabee’s campaign, ostensibly because they see him as their candidate. However, if you use the term “conservative” in any way to describe your political philosophy then Huckabee should most certainly not be your candidate. First of all, as David Harsanyi points out in Nanny State: How Food Fascists, Teetotaling Do-Gooders, Priggish Moralists, and other Boneheaded Bureaucrats are Turning America into a Nation of Children, Huckabee is not averse to using the power of political office to enforce his personal lifestyle preferences. As Governor of Arkansas he established a statewide smoking ban. He also required schools to adopt stricter rules on snacks and issued government stickers and approval to restaurants offering healthy alternatives and nutrition information. It should come as no surprise that he has proposed a national smoking ban. I don’t like smoking either but at least I recognize that a nationwide ban would be a gross overstepping of federal power.

If Huckabee’s nanny-stateism isn’t enough to convince you he is no conservative then how about his propensity to grow government and raise taxes. According to the Cato Institute, Huckabee raised the Arkansas tax burden 47%. The Cato Institute points out that, according to the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, this included increases in the state's gas, sales, income, and cigarette taxes. “He raised taxes on everything from groceries to nursing home beds.” The Cato Institute gave Huckabee an F on fiscal policy and an overall D for his two terms. To put all this in even more perspective, he raised taxes more than Bill Clinton did.

If the above information still doesn’t convince you that Huckabee is a liberal in Republican clothing then take a look at his soft-on-crime approach to pardons. According to this USA Today story, Huckabee granted 1,033 pardons and commutations in his 10 1/2 years as governor of Arkansas, twice as many as his three predecessors combined, including Bill Clinton. As a Christian I believe in forgiveness and second chances. However, I also believe that criminals, especially violent criminals, need to pay for their crimes. A governor that hands out pardons to criminals like they were candy raises serious questions regarding his judgment and sympathy towards victims. I would also recommend this American Spectator article for people interested in this issue.

Our country is currently involved in a two front war in Iraq and Afghanistan. Consequently, we need a commander in chief that appreciates the complexity of the current international situation. However, Huckabee’s Article in Foreign Affairs demonstrates that he is not up to the job. This article is so full of contradictions and empty platitudes that it would require a separate post to adequately set them all out. I do find it interesting that he thinks that the current administration has not done enough to convince the American public that jihadists are bad guys. Give me a break.

Huckabee might be a fine preacher. Nevertheless, this conservative evangelical Christian will not be supporting him on any level. If he wins the Republican nomination I will vote for the Libertarian candidate. I would rather see any other Democrat become president then have a hand in helping Huckabee enact the same policies they would while fracturing the conservative movement at the same time.
Did the botox wear off or something? (warning: view at your own risk)

The drudge report posted an unflattering photo of Hillary Clinton this morning, and the person who blogs at immodest proposal thinks her campaign is over: (pic at his site)
Right here, that's it, this is the most significant photo taken in the year 2007. Think it will win a Pullitzer? Whichever photog snapped this photo effectively ended Sen. Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign.

Over at her blog, Ann Althouse has a different take:
But here's my second reaction, on reflection: We make high demands on women. A picture like this of a male candidate would barely register. Fred Thompson always looks this bad, and people seem to think he's handsome. We need to get used to older women and get over the feeling that when women look old they are properly marginalized as "old ladies." If women are to exercise great power, they will come into that power in the 50s, 60s, and 70s. We must — if we care about the advancement of women — accommodate our vision and see a face like this as mature, experienced, serious — the way we naturally and normally see men's faces.

Now, I happen to think that the professor has a point about older women--but still, even Althouse has a picture of the Senator looking apple-cheeked earlier this year, not like a dried apple. There's more here than meets the eye.
A Marine's family and his dog.

bthun noticed this story:

The family of an Albany Marine killed earlier this year in Iraq will become the first in the history of the armed forces to adopt a military working dog, Marine officials said Wednesday....Lt. Caleb Eames said Wednesday that the U.S. military has agreed to begin the adoption process that will eventually allow Lee’s family to be reunited with their son’s unshakable partner.

Obviously, the dog isn't the Marine, but its good to see such a gesture made all the same.