Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Pope (and God) Want More Babies

I have a big family. I'm the oldest of eight kids and my parents drive one of those twelve passenger vans that gets absolutely terrible gas mileage--there just isn't any way we can all fit in a Saab. One of the more humorous things about living with a small army is milking the family rates for all they're worth. My dad calls it the "Catholic discount" and with good reason.

Well, it seems that Pope Benedict XVI would like to go back to days when Catholics got discounts by the ton. Okay, so that's not exactly what he said. His message was more on the lines with that other good Catholic--God--who said "be fruitful and multiply." The liberals are probably complaining that instead of reforming Church policy on homosexuality Benedict is actually reading the Good Book. Maybe it's because I'm in a compassionate mood, but I'll forgive him, at least this time.

Pope Benedict XVI told Catholics to have more babies "for the good of society," saying that some countries were being sapped of energy because of low birth rates.

Maybe the Pope reads Buchanan too. Actually, the Pope too, sees what more and more conservatives are seeing. Birth control has become so darned handy that having kids is a downright nuisance. I'm beating the dead horse, but it's nice that someone with a bit of power actually gets it.

He said the decline in the number of births "deprives some nations of freshness and energy and of hopes for the future incarnate in children."

Silly Pope, we're all pessimists now. Also, we're way too selfish to worry about our children's future. This guy is seriously out of the times, maybe we should get a new Pope who understands how things really are.

The pope also spoke of "the security, the stability and the force of a numerous family."

Again, he needs to step out of the fifties. Material things make us happy and we get security and stability from owning useless stuff. Children and the love for them are immaterial things which we have no need for.

It's good to see there is one light left in all this darkness...

Monday, August 29, 2005

F-bombs in the U.K.

Old Johnny Rotten was off by about twenty-eight years. Seems young Brits are going to be allowed to drop the dreaded f-words in the classroom, drawing us a bit closer to "Anarchy in the UK". We've come a long way since "God Save the Queen" had to appear as "*** **** *** *****" when it reached number one on the British charts.

I am of course being slightly facetious about the degree of chaos present in Britain. A couple of f-words isn't going to cause complete chaous or the Sex Pistols would have brought the whole world to come apart years ago. Nonetheless, the story has some merit, if only for it's sheer preposterousness.

A secondary school is to allow pupils to swear at teachers - as long as they don't do so more than five times in a lesson. A running tally of how many times the f-word has been used will be kept on the board. If a class goes over the limit, they will be 'spoken' to at the end of the lesson.

One can make an argument against the on the sole basis that keeping track of profanities is a waste of class time. As far as I know, the Brits can beat the bloody tar out of us when it comes to education, but I can't see how wasting time on a tally will help matters.

"Within each lesson the teacher will initially tolerate (although not condone) the use of the f-word (or derivatives) five times and these will be tallied on the board so all students can see the running score," he wrote in the letter

"Over this number the class will be spoken to by the teacher at the end of the lesson."

Only five times! What about the poor kiddies free-speech rights? The fascists.

And ah yes, the dreaded lecture from the teacher to save the day. The "talking-to" always worked for little wimps like me because my parents taught me to fear and respect authority. It is also true that I didn't get into a whole lot of trouble. When the kid--me--cries when his name is "on the board" no additional discipline is required. Suffice it to say, these kids, who are fifteen and sixteen are not like the pathetic little child I was back in kindergarten. In short, this policy is of course going to be woefully ineffective.

"This appears to be a misguided attempt to speak to kids on their own level," said the father of one pupil.

Herein lies the crux of the issue. Children are not adults. They are foolish and naive--as are many adults, it is true--and are incapable of being treated as responsible adults. Children do not have all of the rights that apply to adults, especially in a school situation. Allowing kids to cuss the instructor is disrespectful to the teacher as well as to the children themselves.

Allow me to explain. With rights come responsibilities. If we extend rights to kids without responsibilities we all end up acting like Paris Hilton--to use just one appropriate skape goat. Enough said. When the kids become adults we can give them rights with responsibilities as well. This will ensure they appreciate their rights. It also means they are less likely to be irresponsible f-ups--in the modern nomenclature--by oh, having kids while in high school, dropping out, using drugs, etc.

When we treat children like adults they will stay children. Allowing kids to swear at the teachers isn't the end of the world, but it's a bad move. One can be sure that these kids will not learn to respect authority and neither will their brat kids. Forunately it looks like saner heads will prevail and this experiment will die in the planning stage.

Still, one can't help but ask what they work thinking. Sometimes I just don't get people.

Sunday, August 28, 2005

I'm Not With Them

Christians are representatives of Christ on earth. It is fair to say that most Christians do as poor a job as our Congress members at providing a good representation. This goes without saying as living completely Christ-like is impossible. Still, when imperfection becomes blatant hypocrisy, it warrant attention. Some of these people make Jesus cringe I bet.

Members of a church say God is punishing American soldiers for defending a country that harbors gays, and they brought their anti-gay message to the funerals Saturday of two Tennessee soldiers killed in Iraq.

More flies with honey, people. Come on. Funerals are not a good place for this; let the family grieve in peace, in Jesus' name for God's sake.

Oh yeah, and God is punishing us for harboring gays. Maybe he's "punishing" us because we went to war and in war people die. I suppose we were punished in Vietnam for harboring communists. Thes folks are several sandwiches short of a picnic basket and their logic couldn't be more off.

The Rev. Fred Phelps, founder of Westboro Baptist in Kansas, contends that American soldiers are being killed in Iraq as vengeance from God for protecting a country that harbors gays. The church, which is not affiliated with a larger denomination, is made up mostly of Phelps' children, grandchildren and in-laws.

At least his church is small, but it's apparently big enough to warrant an AP story. I think I'll say a quick prayer that Phelps doesn't make any converts, although with his message that seems to be assured.

The church members carried signs and shouted things such as "God hates fags" and "God hates you."

According to the Bible--I am forced to conclude Phelps does not study it as much as he may--God is love. God does not hate anyone, unless my Sunday school teacher lied to me. Yes, God may not be a fan of homosexuality, but we're all sinners. If God hates these "fags" he must hate Phelps and company as well.

These people disgust me. God save me from your followers.

Saturday, August 27, 2005

The First Cause

As happens from time to time, I found myself engaged in a philisophical conversation of sorts. The subject matter varied as the conversation meandered to and from different topics. At one point, we were discussing God and trying to determine if God needed to have a cause.

The idea that everything has a cause makes much sense. Yet I never understood how this was supposed to apply to God as well. Bertrand Russell wonders who created God and decides that since God cannot be non-causal--that is "God" must have been created by another more powerful god--the first cause argument has no validity.

He then goes on to say that the primordial soup does not need a cause. In Mr. Russell's world, an omnipotent being had to stem from somewhere but the collection of ooze that combined to give us our lives as they are now simply always existed. Seeing how this soup exhibits some very god-like qualities one wonders why Mr. Russell does not worship it.

The reality is that the argument that God needs a cause is absurd. The very idea of God is such that he transcends human expectations and our capacity for knowledge of him. God would be eternal if he existed at all.

And he must exist because there needed to be a first cause. God is the only answer to this grand riddle. The primordial soup came from somewhere. It had to have a cause. Ironically, it seems a mightier leap of faith to believe that a collection of ooze defied all natural laws then to believe in a God who transcends those same laws.

The faith of the atheist is indeed something to be admired.

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

(I'm Not Moving To) Canton, Ohio

With every sensational story there are two errors made. The common error is to assume that what is happening in some small corner of the world is emblematic of the world at large. The other mistake is to assume that just because it is sensational it contains no truth and can be ignored. Betwixt the two extremes I will attempt to tread.

Seems there is trouble brewing in Canton, Ohio.

There are 490 female students at Timken High School, and 65 are pregnant, according to a recent report in the Canton Repository.

Being an engineering student, I calculated the percentage and it comes out to just over thirteen percent. Using my engineering knowledge further and extrapolating the given data over a substantial period of time I have determined within a reasonable amount of error that this is a problem.

The article reported that some would say that movies, TV, videogames, lazy parents and lax discipline may all be to blame.

May I suggest an alternative theory of my own? I blame the girls who are getting knocked up and the boys who are impregnating them. Callous I know, but unless there's a rape epidemic, I'd say that video games and movies are off the hook. Drat that free will; makes us responsible for our actions. How deplorable.

School officials are not sure what has caused so many pregnancies, but in response to them, the school is launching a three-prong educational program to address pregnancy, prevention and parenting.

I again have a suggestion. Sex is causing the pregnancies. Brilliant I know, to put one and one together like that--it's my mathematical background. There is nothing wrong with the educational program, but it probably won't do a lick of good. It will however distract the kiddies from learning what they should know to exist as a competent citizen of this grand country and the world at large. The good thing about this is that Jay-Walking will have no trouble finding ignoramuses to parade in front of the tele for the other cretins to watch. Hurray for complacency.

After all, what is more important, going to class or making sure your life will be a constant struggle by having a child when one is still a child. The question is, of course, rhetorical. The impications are not, and what is happening in Ohio is more prevelant than we all wish it were.

No we're not in hell, but we do seem to like to march in that general direction.

Monday, August 22, 2005

Gas Prices

As I am sure my driving readers are well aware of, gas prices are higher than normal. While this has sent many a folk into many a tizzy, I prefer to calmly analyze the situation to see the gas prices mean in the grander scheme of things.

First, this once proud country does not know what sacrifice means, nor perhaps, are we capable of it. Time brings out the best in people I suppose, and the WWII generation certainly rose to the occasion, but I have a hard team believing modern Americans could handle even a not so great depression.

The complaining over gas prices is humorous if looked at in the correct light. The great depression brought unemployment rates to twenty-five percent. But if gas dare hit three bucks a gallon, well, the whining will be loud.

Also, we are involved in a war. Okay, so technically it's a conflict since Congress is too busy with whatever it is our representatives do. Oh, that's right, while they were ignoring their constituional duty to declare war they were worried about baseball's steroid scandal. Someone may want to tell those fellows what it is they are supposed to be doing.

Anyway, with the conflict in Iraq, should come sacrifice. Ignoring the righteousness of the war for a moment, with an increase in defense spending for a war should come a decrease in fiscal spending, a tightening of the collective belt so to speak. Suffice it to say this hasn't happened, and one really wonders what kind of war we would have to fight to get Americans to suffer a little. If we can't hack "high" gas prices, I shudder to think what would happen if serious sacrifice were required.

If gas prices are such a problem, I have some suggestions. How about, drive less. Sell that SUV and buy a little four-banger. The vitriol over SUVs from the left has always bugged me because as soon as the gas prices get too high, the SUV becomes impractical economically speaking. Let the market do its beautiful work.

Also, I realize gas is important because we all need transportation. Let's re-examine where we are transporting ourselves to, shall we? Maybe we don't need to go out on the town all the time, or maybe, if we bought less junk, we'd have more money for the gas to drive little Suzy to soccer practice. Just a thought, but a little reprioritizing couldn't hurt.

One last point--though there are others--if I may. This is what happens when the market is not allowed to work. Gas prices are regulated by the government. Let's give the "laissez-faire" thing a shot, oh can't we please? We may all be pleased with the results.

Next time one hears someone complain about gas prices, take the time to think about what it may mean on a more significant level. And then smile because high prices are bringing those precious alternative fuels to the forefront faster than one can say, well, "three bucks a gallon."

Sunday, August 14, 2005

Evolution II

With our host being on vaction the role of thought provoker will be filled by the editorial page of the local newspaper. This was in todays point-counterpoint section on evolution and intelligent design. The writers are the headmaster and science chair at a local Catholic high school, enjoy and comment away.

The origin of the biology debate Intelligent design movement says the science isn't settled on how life is shaped.
As Minnesota high school educators who are also, respectively, a theologian and a biologist, we sympathize with President Bush's remark that intelligent design should be taught alongside evolutionary theory, even in public schools.
Predictably, the media have cast the issue as a demand for equal classroom attention to science and religion. The Associated Press reported flatly, "Scientists have rejected (intelligent design) as an attempt to force religion into science education." Yet, while Bush is not a scientist, his remark actually reflects a greater scientific openness than one might first suppose — indeed, an openness greater than that of many evolutionary biologists. "Intelligent design" is not a term that denotes a religious, but rather a scientific, movement.
Bush was implying, too, that something educationally important here transcends the scientific question. Ideas about life, especially human life, have moral and philosophical consequences. Should students be led to assume that science demands philosophical materialism? Should students be led to assume that science is settled in favor of randomness and dumb accident in the origins of life?
The science is not settled. What we have in today's Darwinism is a dominant theory. Intelligent design theory is, by contrast, a young movement spawned by a recognition among many scientists that mounting evidence undermines some explanatory elements of the dominant theory. For example, the fossil record suggests many sudden appearances of fully formed species. Another example is that, while today's Darwinists have studied millions of instances of mutations in species, they have yet to show any one species has mutated into another. What is needed on the part of Darwinian theorists is humility in the face of incomplete and contradictory evidence.
The problems with Darwinism have been identified by scientists; they have not been trumped up by religious fanatics. A growing number of scientists are at work developing testable hypotheses that detect design in nature. Among the most compelling is mathematician William Dembski's "explanatory filter," which detects complexity at levels statistically consistent with design. Scientists at work in this field may be ill served by the moniker "intelligent design theorists," since they freely admit that the existence of a Designer (i.e. God) is beyond the scope of empirical science. Their scientific goal is to follow the evidence where it leads.
It is Darwinists who increasingly seem to be adhering dogmatically to a creed. Rather than confront troubling evidence, many of the dominant theorists seem satisfied to classify alternative lines of inquiry as "religious" precisely in order to discount that evidence.
This is not surprising. Forty years ago, Thomas Kuhn's "The Structure of Scientific Revolutions" showed how scientific progress is often stalled by entrenched scientific (and personal) interests and convictions. Last year, a group of over 300 scientists issued a national "Scientific Dissent from Darwin" statement. "We are skeptical," they wrote, "of claims for the ability of random mutation and natural selection to account for the complexity of life.
Careful examination of the evidence for Darwinian theory should be encouraged." The time has come for Darwinists to stop hiding behind the claim that all their opponents are Scopes trial-style "creationists" and face the fact that there is a growing contingent of scientists who have found the evidence for Darwinian evolution wanting and who are ready and willing to debate Darwinists on scientific grounds.
Thus, why should schools, indeed public schools, not teach this academic dispute? Should educators insist that dominant theories be immune from criticism, much as in an earlier time the Inquisition insisted against Galileo? Surely, in science education first and foremost, the notion that you can't use evidence to criticize is a bad idea.
The key educational value of including intelligent design theory in secondary education is scientific. But philosophic concerns about life and its meaning are by no means unimportant.
All schools convey philosophical perspectives. Most schools, including ours, try hard to teach young people such values as respect, tolerance, fairness and honesty. Fair-minded people are not out of line in questioning how a dogmatic presentation of the random and accidental character of human life supports any given moral code, let alone a school's. The kids, too, are smart enough to wonder.

Friday, August 12, 2005

Gone For Awhile

I'll be gone for a week. Whatever regular readers I have will of course be disappointed that I will have nothing to say. I guess you all will just have to go to inferior sources for inciteful commentary. Do not fret fair fans--such as may be--I shall return.

How's that for melodramaticism?

Thursday, August 11, 2005

What the Catholic Church Doesn't Need

To say that the Roman Catholic Church has suffered in recent years is an understatement. Pedophile priests and a lack of seminarians has left the Church bleeding like a stuck pig. Some would even say that she is dying. To the Catholic, this is nonsense. If "the gates of hell shall not prevail against it", the Church will survive until the end of time. Incidently then, if the Church no longer exists, Christianity is false.

This doesn't concern me, since I have faith--obviously--that the Church has been ordained by Christ. If it wasn't, I would find another Church. Still, we do not need to see Catholic priests involved in sexual relationships of any kind, and stories like this just add to the weight of bad news heaped on Christ's Church.

A 79-year-old monsignor named as "the other man" in a Westchester County divorce case resigned Thursday as rector of St. Patrick's Cathedral, the New York archdiocese said.

Cardinal Edward Egan accepted Msgr. Eugene Clark's resignation despite Clark's denials that he has been carrying on an affair with his 46-year-old private secretary, the church said.

This is not good. Priests are supposed to be celibate. They are not supposed to go around screwing with secretaries.

Whenever a story like this gets attention, one can almost here the screams for reform. After all, this proves that priests should be married, does it not? And while we're at it, the Church should sanction homosexuality.

This is of course absurd. One sure fire way to get the Church to fade into obscurity is to allow immoral things to become "moral". The Church needs to remain firm on her orthodoxy if she wishes to become a beacon in this dark world. A world berift in relativism needs an absolutist institution badly.

Our priests need our prayers. What is true does not need to be reformed.

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Compulsory Compassion

I've been spending some time at the radio station's message board. I've run into a plethora of liberals, much to my delight. I think I've hit on something.

I was ripping on socialism, as per usual, and explaining that it was stupid for people to complain about being "exploited" when they enter into a contract willingly. No, I don't make a lot of money at my job, but I can either find another one or accept the wages I earn. Such is the beauty of a free society. Someone told me I should read Nickled and Dimed.

I've read parts of it and maybe I'll get around to it eventually. I doubt it though, I think I get the author's beef. So I asked the board what I would get out of the book. The reply...

"I was actually just thinking it might stir up a little compassion. You know, like that hippie Jesus used to preach about."

Ah yes, Jesus the hippie. Just like the fact that Hitler didn't have an economic policy--the subject bored him--doesn't stop liberals from calling the National Socialist as a right-winger, so too is Jesus a hippie. The extent of Jesus' economic advice was "render to Ceasar", at least near as I can figure. I guess paying ones taxes makes one a hippie.

It's funny too, how often I am told I am not compassionate for wishing the market to have its way. Because I have no problem--from a political and legal standpoint--with Wal-Mart for example, paying their employees poorly, I am a heartless jerk. Because I think welfare, socialist security, medicare, medicaid, etc. are immoral, I am a bastard.

One cannot legislate compassion, yet that is what we do. Further, compassion is not a one-way street. In order to give to Paul, one must tax Peter. Why doesn't Peter get to keep his hard-earned money?

Actually, when it comes down to it, it is socialism that is immoral. Conservatism may be harsh, but it is also just. Conservatism leaves us all to fight for ourselves, to succeed or fail based soley of our own merits. Freedom is dangerous and frightening, so socialism tries to take it away.

After all, why should I be allowed to keep the money I earn when other people don't have jobs? Why shouldn't I be forced to share? The reason is simple: it is my money.

Those who are rich should give money to those who have less money, that is compassionate. It is not compassionate to steal from one party to give to another. Stealing is immoral. It is also unjust.

The "progressive" system chokes those who are productive to lavish those whose only virtue is an inability to be successful. "From each according to his ability to each according to his need" appeals to the worst in us all. We all suddenly become needy until those of ability get sick of working for the parasitic masses. The scam can go on awhile though, since hard-workers are virtuous people who will continue to slave at seventy cents, then fifty, then twenty, then ten cents on the dollar.

Why should I work hard if my labors support someone who did not produce a thing? The system is beyond backward. Let each man get the fruits of his labors. This provides an incentive to work hard, leading to a productive society.

The last point about socialist mentality, is that it stems from guilt. The people I talked to on the message board actually feel bad about being born in America. They cannot enjoy what they have been given or work for more without wanting the government to give to those who weren't as lucky.

The circumstances of my birth were fortunate. I am not going to sit around moping about how good I have it compared to others. Instead, I'll try to put a system back in place that allows people to work to get to where I've got.

Handouts are misplaced and condescending. Let the people work. Give capitalism a shot. Do away with the compulsory compassion of socialism and allow people to live for themselves, giving, not of obligation, but true generosity.

Self-loathing liberals cannot legislate compassion. In order to love thy neighbor as thyself, as the hippie Jesus said, one must first love oneself.

Phones for Tots

File this one under ways to tick me off.

Rogers Wireless Inc. has become the first Canadian mobile phone provider to introduce a cellphone designed specifically for children as young as eight.

Fighting rage. Capitalism does its darnest to try to get me to reject it sometimes. I guess at least it's just Canada, which is incidently less capitalist than we are, for whatever that is worth.

"We do feel it's important to speak to (children) directly and treat them with respect," said McMeans, adding that the company would not comment on events south of the border. "We don't think it would be appropriate to comment on congressional discussions taking place in the U.S."

McMeans gets no respect from me because he is not purveying the intelligence he should possess. Respect is earned, and I know of no eight-year-old who has gained by respect. In ten years if they learn to use the mind God gave them, then we can talk. Until then, they are children, deserving love and care, but not respect.

We need to start treating children like children and not the adults we think they are. Has anyone really gotten a piece of new-found wisdom from the mouth of a child? I don't think so. Children can be sweet and innocent, but they are not paragons of wit and wisdom, and they don't need cell phones.

Cellphone use by children has grown 140 per cent since 2001, according to Milwaukee-based research firm SpectraCom, which found in a recent North American and European survey that the average young user spends two hours a day talking on the devices.

Who are these parents giving these kids phones? And what on earth are the kids talking to each other about for two hours a day. I guess it's better than sitting in front of the television--except for that questionable cancer bit--but come on. I know these aren't all eight-year-olds, but man, this is beyond trite.

Cell phone companies are not to be blamed here. They're interested in a buck and they're going to make it. The parents on the other hand should be mortified. Why does your child need a phone? It costs fifty cents to make a call to have you pick them up in emergencies, aside from that, there is no need for a phone for children.

The greater issue is society's reluctance to deal with people face to face and our fear of silence. Hypocrite alert: I am blogging, talking to people I'll probably never meet and not talking to my housemates--who happen to be busy, but that is not the point. Also, I am listening to music.

At least I don't have a cell phone.

Monday, August 08, 2005

Evolution

I have found that though I am an ardent conservative, most people who disagree with me grant me respect because I usually know what I'm talking about. I try to use reason and remain consistent, and am usually given props for it. Yet when I tell people I do not believe in evolution, one can almost see my stature fall. After all, only idiots would believe evolution doesn't exist right?

Maybe. I don't think I'm an idiot, and I know Buchanan isn't one. Still, here he is claiming evolution is as full of bunk as Bush's foreign policy.

I won't quote from the article. It's well worth the read though. Instead I will explain one last thing. I am not opposed to evolution. It is not inconsistent with my faith. Evolution though, has not been proven. It is merely the best scientific theory we have at the moment. I thought we were supposed to be skepitcal? Isn't that how science works? I guess not when the science discredits--it doesn't--Christianity.

Read the article; he explains it far better than I can.

I Uh Changed My Mind

I'm going to attempt to do the unthinkable here. I'll try to tie two unrelated stories together. It can be done.

First, some of the Jackson juror's are regretting an aquital. Then there is Cindy Sheehan, whose son died in the Iraq war, who is singing an altogether different tune about her meeting with President Bush.

Two of the jurors who voted to acquit singer Michael Jackson of child molestation and other charges say they regret their decisions.

Jurors Ray Hultman and Eleanor Cook, who both have pending book deals, planned to appear Monday night on the new MSNBC show "Rita Cosby: Live and Direct."

A book deal? No way. These creeps are going to make money off of the slandering of an innocent individual. Don't get me wrong, Michael Jackson is a nut, but last I checked being weird is not a crime. The jury--I think correctly--acquited him. That should be the end of the story.

One other point. Who's reading this book? Mark Twain once said, "the man who does not read good books has no advantage over the man who cannot read them." There will be nothing of value in these books, yet they will probably be bestsellers. What a lovely culture we have.

In a preview shown Monday on NBC's "Today," Cosby asked Cook if the other jurors will be angry with her.

"They can be as angry as they want to. They ought to be ashamed. They're the ones that let a pedophile go," responded Cook, 79.

Hultman, 62, told Cosby he was upset with the way other jurors approached the case: "The thing that really got me the most was the fact that people just wouldn't take those blinders off long enough to really look at all the evidence that was there."

If he was guilty, why didn't they vote guilty? They are cowards and I have no sympathy for either of them. Later on the article notes that they will give part of the proceeds from their book to charity. How nice. Scumbags.

Speaking of depicable human beings...this one isn't quite as bad, but I will not give pity where it is not deserved.

The mother of a fallen U.S. soldier who is holding a roadside peace vigil near President Bush's ranch -- has dramatically changed her account about what happened when she met the commander-in-chief last summer!

This sounds familiar. See why I connected the two stories into one post. Genius at work I say, genius.

Before:

"For a moment, life returned to the way it was before Casey died. They laughed, joked and bickered playfully as they briefly toured Seattle.

For the first time in 11 weeks, they felt whole again.

"'That was the gift the president gave us, the gift of happiness, of being together,' Cindy said."

After:

"He wouldn't look at the pictures of Casey. He didn't even know Casey's name. He came in the room and the very first thing he said is, 'So who are we honoring here?' He didn't even know Casey's name. He didn't want to hear it. He didn't want to hear anything about Casey. He wouldn't even call him 'him' or 'he.' He called him 'your loved one.'

Every time we tried to talk about Casey and how much we missed him, he would change the subject. And he acted like it was a party.

BLITZER: Like a party? I mean...

SHEEHAN: Yes, he came in very jovial, and like we should be happy that he, our son, died for his misguided policies.

One of two things happened here. First, she told the truth now and lied about it earlier. If that's the case, I am sorry, but she should have had the courage to tell the truth then. The second option is more probable. She is changing her story to gain power. She is a worthless human being who is interested in making a political point.

It is unfortunate that her son died. Guess what? It's war and in war people die. Be grateful Bush took the time to meet with you. He doesn't have to do that--though he should. Why this change of stories over a year later?

My point in all of this is made for me. Humans can be horrific creatures. Stick money and fame in our face and we'll do anything.

Honesty is still the best policy and so is courage. It is also quite lacking, especially here.

Sunday, August 07, 2005

Tax Cuts

George Bush took a lot of heat in certain circles for cutting taxes during his first term. This is one of the few times I'll defend Bush. The tax cuts were a good idea because income taxes are a bad idea. Sound economics does not provide a disincentive to work, yet that is what income taxes do. The more productive a person is under current tax policy, the more as a percentage they must contribute to Uncle Sam.

My biggest problem with the tax cuts is twofold: they weren't large enough. I know, third biggest in history, but I'd rather one up The Gipper than play second-fiddle to JFK. Tax reform--like abolishing the IRS--would be great, but sometimes one has to be a realist. The other problem with the tax cuts is that they are not, as some conservatives might suggest, the cure-all for economic woes. I know Cheney believes that, "deficits don't matter", but I think they do. Cutting taxes is well and good, Mr. Bush, but cutting spending would be swell, too.

We are now five years into Bush's presidency and his tax cuts have had time to work. The verdict...according to Bush:

Bush was upbeat in his weekly radio address a day after the Labor Department reported the U.S. economy added 207,000 jobs last month, a stronger-than-expected gain.

"Recent economic reports show that our economy is growing faster than any other major industrialized nation," he said from his ranch in central Texas.

Well, I guess since China isn't "industrialized", we win. Exporting jobs has been a problem that is not receiving significant attention, but Greenspan is handling inflation and Bush has jobs being created.

Still, I doubt if tax cuts will get the credit. They never do. If high taxes were all it took to keep an economy running smoothly, we'd see a good example of an "industrialized" economy over in progressive Europe. Last I checked, Germany still has an unemployment of about ten percent.

A query then: if tax cuts are not the reason that the economy is doing well, what is? I realize that the status of a multi-trillion dollar economy cannot be reduced to depend soley on one variable, but surely, tax cuts are helping, no?

Friday, August 05, 2005

Bush May (Not) Have (Another) Problem

Some bad news is leaking about supreme court nominee Roberts. Bad news in the eyes of the Christian right, which is by extension, should be very bad news for Bush.

Supreme Court nominee John G. Roberts Jr. worked behind the scenes for gay rights activists, and his legal expertise helped them persuade the Supreme Court to issue a landmark 1996 ruling protecting people from discrimination because of their sexual orientation.

Then a lawyer specializing in appellate work, the conservative Roberts helped represent the gay rights activists as part of his law firm's pro bono work. He did not write the legal briefs or argue the case before the high court, but he was instrumental in reviewing filings and preparing oral arguments, according to several lawyers intimately involved in the case.

Gay rights activists at the time described the court's 6-3 ruling as the movement's most important legal victory. The dissenting justices were those to whom Roberts is frequently likened for their conservative ideology: Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist, Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas.

From the perspective of Bush's religious base, their are at least two unpardonable sins. Cardinal sin number one: defending Roe v. Wade. Cardinal sin number two: defending homosexuality.

This is interesting for two reasons. First, Roberts is Catholic and should know the morality of homosexuality. Secondly, I want him to side with the conservatice justices not against them. Strike one Roberts.

Fortunately for Bush, his base moves with the speed of teutonic plates. Focus on the Family, one of the leading groups of Bush's moral base, has yet to hop on this story. When and if they do, Bush could be in a sizeable pickle.

Even as I write this though, I am struck by the absurdity of all of this. I guess I missed the part where becoming a Christian meant you never got to think anymore. The religious folks take their orders like the good obedient soldiers they are.

Bush is going to get away with this like he always does. If Roberts does turn out to be a wimpy moderate, we'll all give him the benefit of the doubt. It's funny really, that seven out of nine of the justices have been nominated by republican presidents. Look what we get.

I hope someone gives the marching orders not to vote for the republicans next time around.

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Buchanan, Collins, Chesterton

One of the running themes here at Thoughts and Ideas is the aproach of what Pat Buchanan called The Death of the West. His book should be read by anyone who cares about the preservation of Western culture and society.

Heading over to the Drudge Report, I caught a flash from Joan Collins. Set to splash tomorrow in the UK Daily Mail, it sounds quite Buchanan-esque.

A great civilization is not conquered from without until it has destroyed itself from within, said the American historian Will Durrant about ancient Rome. This self-destruction of values is exactly what is happening in England today.

Insert "America" for England and the same holds true. Still, you've got to hand it to the Brits. In our duel to the suicide, we just can't seem to keep up.

Even though the Welsh are proud to call themselves Welsh, as are the Irish and certainly the Scots, woe betide the Briton who calls himself 'English' -- a much-frowned-upon no-no.

Well, we're still allowed to call ourselves "Americans" although identifying oneself with the greatest country in the world--in my humble opinion of course--is one sure fire way to warrant a dirty look, in Britain or most anywhere else for that matter.

I believe that when a country loses so much respect for itself that it can no longer even be identified by its historically correct name, insecurity and lack of respect filter down to its inhabitants.

To illustrate her point I offer, exhibit A: Michael Moore. This laughable curmugeon is adored by the left of this country, as evidenced by his place of honor at the 2004 Democratic Party national convention, right next to fellow curmugeon Jimmy Carter. Moore plainly does not like America one bit. He loves Canada, but Americans are "the dumbest people on earth." We're certainly not the brightest, but if I were Moore, I wouldn't blast the clientele who have made his "documentaries" box-office smashes.

But that's me, and I am not a self-loathing liberal. At the risk of stereo-typing, most liberals do not at heart like this country. True, modern neo-conservativsm, per Bush, is light on ideas and high on flag-waving, but at heart it is obvious that conservatives love this country, perhaps even to a fault.

The same cannot be said of modern liberals. Yes, we had slaves here. Yes, we slaughtered the "native Americans". We also freed the slaves, and I challenge anyone to show me a single country that did not use warfare to acrue land. Such is the way of the world, but not to the self-loather.

Further evidence is liberal disrespect for the principles this country was founded on. I may have a slightly unhealthy love-affair with the Jeffersonian ideal, but liberals show no such love for any of those slave-owning founding fathers. America is--or is supposed to be--a capitalist republic. Liberals do not care for capitalism, or many of those other rights the founders in their wisdom knew God have given us. The second amendment is but one example.

A particular incident demonstrated the lack of respect and manners that is but a small example of the horrible, encroaching decay of the country that I love dearly.

My husband Percy and I were at a ball at the Grosvenor House Hotel -- a black-tie event attended by the socalled 'elite' of the city.

As Percy held the door open to let me through, a 6ft tall, middle-aged, horse-faced male pushed past me, trod on the hem of my dress and rushed outside to climb into the taxi that the doorman had waiting for us.

This was a person who should, or at least looked like he should, have known better. The cause of his behaviour? The awful pervasive disregard that we have for civility today.

"Once abolish the God, and the government becomes the God," the British Chesterton once wrote. The government has not taken a stance on common civility and removing the reverence of Judeo-Christian values has left us as the pagans we are.

There is another point here as well. Antiquated Christians like myself believe that God created men and women separately. While equal, we should treat the gentler sex with respect. Opening a door for a lady was once common courtesy, but that too seems to have died with the gods. What a lovely utopia modern feminism has wrought.

We've become the 'Whatcha lookin' at?' culture. Why do young people consider it cool to be arrogant, swaggering and rude? Why do so many people in England seem so cynical and self-centred?

I think I may have the answer. Do away with God, and there is nothing left but ourselves. Others are there for our amusement and pleasure. Again Chesterton comes through with some wisdom, "The sceptic ultimately undermines democracy (1) because he can see no significance in death and such things of a literal equality; (2) because he introduces different first principles, making debate impossible: and debate is the life of democracy; (3) because the fading of the images of sacred persons leaves a man too prone to be a respecter of earthly persons; (4) because there will be more, not less, respect for human rights if they can be treated as divine rights."

The critic generally has a goal in mind. My goal, for example, is the renewal of Christianity and the values that it espouses by the vehicle of the Roman Catholic Church. The modern cynic can find faults all around him, it takes little more than a brain to do that. What he cannot do is find a viable alternative to the mess we've landed in. Thus the prevalence of cynicism. Chesterton steals the day one final time, "Progress is a comparative of which we have not settled the superlative."

There are certainly a hand full of liberals who have a superlative in mind, but most, like Moore, are wandering around screaming about what is wrong. We get it Mr. Moore, would you kindly tell us how to fix it? What's that, modernism has killed with it the absolute and with it the standards necessary for the vision necessary for this progress? That is interesting.

After all, a lack of manners and politeness in a society can only be a reflection of what the society thinks of itself.

It's frightful how being told that you are no good makes you hate yourself, and hate others. And it's frightful how quickly a whole country of self-loathers can be bred.

Jane Collins is absolutely right. When the UK falls, maybe that will serve as a wake-up call. Until then, and probably even after, count on liberal cynics of all sorts to purvey a lack of civility and a general aura of self-loathing.

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

The Idiot TV

Back before "the man" took gangsta rap and played it on the MTV, rappers had good things to say. In fairness there still are rappers who write about more than bling, hos and 40's, but it's unlikely that you're going to hear lyrics like these on top 40 radio:

Sugar sweet sitcoms
that leave us with a bad actor taste while
pop stars metamorphosize into soda pop stars
You saw the video
You heard the soundtrack
Well now go buy the soft drink
Well, the only cola that I support
would be a union C.O.L.A. (Cost of Living Allowance)
On Television.

Television, the drug of the Nation
Breeding ignorance and feeding radiation

The song comes from a group called Disposable Heroes Of Hiphoprisy. I don't agree with all that they have to say, as is the case with most of the music I listen to, but the chorus is dead on and at least they're thinking. Music, is, or is supposed to be an artform. It influences and entertains.

I know that a lot of my posts are just me complaining about how bad things are, and I don't mean to come across as a vapid discontent, but what has happened to television? I sat down to watch some TV tonight for some reason. Stupid I know.

Every time I sit down in the effort to forget thinking for a bit, to clear my mind and just relax. Invariably I end up disgusted that there are:
a 150 channels 24 hours a day
you can flip through all of them
and still there's nothing worth watching

It has become utterly unbelievable. It's always been that way I suppose, at least in my lifetime, but you'd think the citizens of this fair land would get disgusted at some point. Apparently drowning in mediocrity is the national status quo.

Maybe, just maybe, if we all started to stop watching the tube and started reading a book once in awhile--and no, romance novels don't count--our culture wouldn't aggravate me to the point that I end up complaining about it almost constantly.

In fairness, too, this is what captialism and democracy has wrought. Perhaps the founding fathers were right to loathe and distrust the people, God knows I find myself doing the same.

Still, I'm not ready to sign up for socialism. If people prefer to sit in front of the television all day, chasing happiness in the form of pretty pictures and luxurious material possessions, who am I to tell them that they're misguided? Assurdely they are, but it is not just to revoke freedom just because people misuse it.

So here I am again, vitriol spewed, taking the role of the pseudo-intellectual by separating myself from the masses, offering no real solution. It's becoming a tired tradition.

The fiftieth anniversary edition of Fahrenheit 451 has an interview with Ray Bradbury. He says, "The main problem is the idiot TV". I couldn't have said it better myself.

Turn the idiot off and pick up a book; Fahrenheit 451 is a great place to start.

More Chinese Problems

While America tries its hand at empire and Europe dies away, the power in the east seems increasingly restless. According to the Financial Times, the Chinese are in cahoots with our former enemies in Russia.

Nearly 10,000 troops are to take part in unprecedented joint military exercises by China and Russia this month aimed at strengthening ties between the armed forces of two powers that were once bitter foes.

Chinese state media said yesterday the “Peace Mission 2005” exercises would be held from August 18-25 in and around the Russian far eastern port of Vladivostok and the Chinese coastal province of Shandong.

Peace Mission 2005 huh? Somehow, I'm just not buying that the most populated country in the world is marching with their northern neigbors in serene solidarity. Just a hunch, but this, coupled with news that Taiwan is on the Chinese chopping block worries me just a tad.

This one is also confusing. It's clear that China could use a little room for their growing population. Despite their "one-child-only" policy, there are more people year after year in a country that isn't all that large. The obvious solution for land seems eerily familiar to Hitler's vision for his own Aryan race in Mein Kampf. I'm not sure if any of the Chinese leaders have written a similar book explaining why a conquest of Russia would be beneficial, but the point remains. The land to the north of China is ripe for the picking.

So why the concilliation on behalf of the Chinese? They could take the land and--barring nuclear war or an American retaliataion--probably get away with it. In today's world, the Chinese army is going to beat the Russian army any day. Yet China is cozying up to a country that seems to have little to give it.

I do not see Russia simply handing its land over to the Chinese, and unless the Chinese are quite stupid, they won't attack Russia after becoming alligned with them. Back-stapping allies is gernerally discouraged.

The article offers this to explain: Russia is now China's leading source of high-technology weaponry, while the Chinese People's Liberation Army (PLA) has become an important source of foreign currency for the crumbling Russian military industrial complex. “The drills mainly aim to deepen Sino-Russian mutual trust, promote mutual friendship and enhance the co-operation and co-ordination of the two armed forces in the areas of defence and security,” China's official Xinhua news agency said.

It makes sense, but I have a feeling there's more that meets the eye. Something gives, and it's more than Taiwan. Now would be a good time to stop trading with China I think. China's turn to play superpower is quickly approaching. How can this not be bad news? And the word from our administration is... forthcoming I'm sure.

Monday, August 01, 2005

Gitmo Not Going Quietly

Recently I criticized Carter for blasting Bush on Gitmo. George is doing everything he can to make me eat my words. This is strangely analogous to the steroids scandal in baseball. Just as soon as the story was fading from the news, it's back and it's as if it's never left.

The US military has kept two ethnic Uighur Muslims from a troubled Chinese region at its Guantanamo 'war on terror' detention camp even though they have been found not to be "enemy combatants," a rights group said.

File this one under how not to run public relations for an administration. This seems to be a running theme actually.

According to the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR), a New York-based legal activist group, a Guantanamo review panel ruled in March that Qassim and Hakim should not be considered "enemy combatants" who would face military tribunals.

But the CCR said the men's lawyers were never told about the finding. "It was not until Friday, July 30, 2005 that the government disclosed that the men had been cleared on March 26 this year," said a statement by the group which has been working on the case of the Uighurs.

Oh, but there is an excuse for this debacle. It's of the "dog ate my homework" variety.

"The United States has made it clear that it does not expel, return or extradite individuals to other countries where it believes that it is 'more likely than not' that they will be tortured or subject to persecution," said Lieutenant Commander Alvin Plexico, a Pentagon spokesman.

"This is US policy as well as US law," he said.

Oh I get it, we kept them in prison here to avoid sending them to China. While China's human rights record is notably abysmal, I'm not sure keeping the two fellows here is a good policy. In fact, I know it's not.

If we're going to start caring about human rights, we should do two things. First, clean up our human rights. I'm not talking about the "gulag" down in Cuba, I'm reffering to our abortion policy.

Before someone screams that I'm throwing this one in here for no reason, let me explain. One of the reasons that the Muslims don't like us is because of our culture. Getting rid of abortion would be a good move in the view of most Muslims. Since the left loves to play the apologist for the Arab world, we should be seeing the DNP moving to scrap Roe v. Wade in the near future. Uh huh.

The greater and more serious point is our relationship with China. Do we really want to try to get them to play ball on human rights? Slap an embargo on them and boycott the 2008 Olympics. It's not going to happen of course, because our corporations love to exploit cheap Chinese labor. This ties into what was mentioned earlier.

We are contributing to human rights abuses by allowing corporations to export jobs to countries where the people are not paid anything close to a living wage. There will of course be debates over what constitutes a living wage and how that should be implemented, but all but the most heartless would agree that paying a couple of hours for 12-14 hours a day in a sweat shop is deplorable.

Shame on our corporations for participating in human rights violations. Shame on Bush and Congress for not doing something serious about China. Shame on the military for further tarnishing our respect--what little we have left--in the world and lending credence to folks like Carter.

It's really disappointing to have to swallow my words over Gitmo. No, it's not a "gulag" that needs to be shut down, but these little problems keep adding up.

I should know better than to try to defend this administration.