Saturday, December 30, 2006

Good and Good Riddance

I am not a huge fan of the death penalty. Sometimes it is justified - this was one of those times. There was not a shadow of a doubt about his guilt. With Arafat dead and now Saddam it is sure to be less lonely in hell for Stalin and Hitler...

Say a new prayer for peace and more justice, this prayer has been answered.


Thursday, December 28, 2006

America: Too Fast, Too Furious?

You often hear people claim that as they age that life – time itself – seems to go faster and faster. In a blink of an eye the kids are grown and you are looking at fewer years left than you’ve already lived. It is a universal phenomenon and frankly it’s a little disconcerting for those of us closer to fifty than we are to forty.

There is a perfectly logical explanation. When you are only ten years old one year is 10% of your life, and at age 50 one year is 2% of your life. It only makes sense that relative perception would make a year seem 80% longer to the ten-year-old as he skips off to school. Face it, you and I won’t even finish paying off Christmas until June (you only have ‘til September before the Christmas decorations start making their appearance at Target).

This topic was a conversation starter at a recent holiday dinner and it really set off an interesting take on our country and our way of life. It begs the question “is our way of life superior or simply insane?”

My opinion? It’s both.

The knee jerk response to the frenetic pace of American life is typical. It goes like this… Because most families need to have dual incomes just to get by a heartless and greedy corporate America is short changing our family life and driving us all to an early grave. Parents have to choose between staying home with a sick child or sending them to day care or school with snot running down their faces. It seems Mommy or Daddy has to be at an important meeting today. People who work at day care centers and at elementary schools will tell you this happens all the time.

So, who is at fault when this happens? It surely isn’t right that a parent should 1.) treat their own child like this 2.) expose all the other children to illness 3.) should feel so compelled to be at work that they would forsake the attention they should be giving to their own kid in favor of a hot project at work. Yes, I would hope that the boss, the company, our society would put the emphasis on the child’s needs in this case. Some companies do and others not so much.

There is a mentality that I have seen at my workplace that really rubs me the wrong way and those who hold it are usually those without any kids. They will say – and I mean literally – “is it the company’s fault you got your wife pregnant? Shouldn’t your wife stay home and take care of your little brats?” This is shortsighted and counter-productive in the long run, but it is a reality.

In other countries, especially in Europe, they have far more liberal worker policies. More paid time off for maternity (and paternity), more vacation (or holiday if you will) and shorter workweeks. The trade off is a less dynamic economy, higher unemployment, less income, far higher taxes and far less buying power. The gain is a slower more leisurely life style with less emphasis on work, work, work.

There is another factor that is really the key to this debate. Our individual wants and desires play the most significant role in our work versus lifestyle choices. It is possible for family to live on one income in this country. It is difficult at times but if you don’t get yourself into too much debt it can be done. Many of us baby-boomers had one parent stay at home while the other worked outside the home. Terrible decisions like the one described above were not needed. There were other decisions like taking vacations and buying a new boat were never made either; there was simply no money for them. Families did without luxuries, families got by on hand-me-downs, and families didn’t get to eat out all the time and buy soda pop, chips and snacks on a whim.

Today we want it all – and we want it all today! Instant gratification requires two incomes. The boat, cable TV, fast Internet, new living room furniture, the tropical cruise, the cell phone plan for all the kids, the surround-sound home theater and the new addition to the house cost a lot of money. Lest we forget that the regular bills like gas and lights and telephone, sewer and water and property taxes, (not to mention gas for the car) keeps creeping up every single year. Thanks to Chinese manufacturing and stores like Target, Wal-Mart and the Family Dollar Store clothing and other non-durable goods are actually cheaper than they used to be.

The point is that there is no scapegoat, no demons here. We can choose the lifestyle we want. If you are working for a company that is so rigid and inflexible that you are forced to make terrible choices when it comes to your child’s health and well being then it is time to look for a different job. There are better companies around. If you want all the goodies and toys then both of you are going to have to go to work. If you are a single parent you may not be able to own your own house right away, or subscribe to cable TV and eat out four nights a week. Choices, my friend. The very fact that you are a single parent is often a matter of choices you made. Oh yeah, you can choose to move to Europe too, that is if you can find a job… Europe – the land of milk and honey, you know the one… Eh, oh that’s America you say?

Is the preferred American go-go lifestyle slightly insane? Yes, Virginia, it is. I’ll be the first to admit it. I too want many of the things I rattled off, but do I expect that I can have it all - and have it all right now? No way. My first tropical vacation may well be after I’ve already turned 50. But I will have me that boat!


Monday, December 25, 2006

The Secret of Our Success: Part 2

Part 2: Good Government

As a firm believer in the old adage “the government that governs least governs best” I think it only fair to examine from time to time the things that government does well. It has become so easy to condemn the impersonal government bureaucracy, as I have been known to do myself on occasion, without a thought to the hard working men a women that make up the “public sector”. While criticism is probably a good thing considering the impact government has on all aspects of our lives, we often fail to see the good that rises above the bad. As with anything in life we tend to complain the loudest when we feel we have been abused. Conversely, when things work well we often to take them for granted. Any parent will recognize this phenomenon. The good things government does become transparent while it’s transgressions are magnified by second and third-hand outrage.

Consider, for a minute, your morning routine: The water coming out of the shower is safe, clean and reliable because a government agency has made it so. The waste water scurries its way down the drain without a second thought from you and yet the government is there routing and cleaning it to make sure it is safe to be reintroduced into the environment. Your hot buttered toast and cold cereal are safe and nutritious because government and industry standards exist to protect your health and well being. The streets that extend from your house to your place of employment are well lit and swept clean of snow without you having to lift a finger. The traffic signals and road signs that guide commuters from here to there work flawlessly day after day.

In cities and towns across the nation we are assured that when we dial 911 someone will be there to answer the call. When we go to the store we know our money will be accepted because we have a standard currency issued and backed by the government. When we buy a widget we know it will fit properly because standards of weights and measures are set up and enforced by the government. When we have been damaged by the actions of another or if we are accused of wrong doing there is a justice system that succeeds in finding the truth far more often than not.

Taking in the bigger picture one cannot overestimate the role of the armed forces in keeping our citizens safe from the terror of a foreign power invading our shores. That may seem like a silly notion, but human history is littered with the bodies of ordinary people slaughtered in their own homes by hostile invaders. It is the projection of a powerful military controlled by a civilian government that has helped make us the most successful nation in history.

Even with the things we complain the about most, and often with good reason; taxes, public schools, public financing of dubious ventures, corporate and social welfare we fail to see the good side first. We all know people in our lives who work in the public sector. Most of them work very hard and do a great job day after day. These are not the bureaucrats we deplore. Those in the positions of power within any government agency are as ambitious and self-absorbed as any of their contemporaries in the private sector. The difference is that they often control and spend our money. When we feel our tax dollars are wasted we get angry, as well we should. However, when we lash out, myself included, as critics of everything that is government we are not making it better. On the other hand those who wish to put the finger of government into every aspect of our lives are only making it worse.

In an ideal world the government would be transparent. When last I looked this is not an ideal world. We should strive for the former, giving the benefit of the doubt to the citizen and not the government, but sometimes we have to accept that the government really does [ try to ] work for the greater good.

The Secret of Our Success: Part 1

Part 1: The Goodness of Free Market Capitalism

Simply put, the market economy has created the prosperity we enjoy today. Year after year, decade after decade legions of innovative, productive, and creative people labor to lay the foundation we build our individual lives on. For those who have chosen to participate and not merely sponge off the largess of the productive among us the capitalist market system has produced previously unheard of wealth and well being. This sort of system has prospered where ever it has been tried and despite what the socialist or the communist would have you believe it has produced the greatest middle class societies the world has ever known.

The astonishing thing is that the forces aligned against the free market include certain capitalists themselves as well as the aforementioned communists and socialists. When this triad coalesces within the government it is a wonder that capitalism thrives at all. But thrive it does. It works because it has as its base the very essence of human nature that has been at the foundation of civilization since the dawn of recorded history. Self interest.

In the past (as well as in the present) kings and dictators, corrupt king-pins and bosses have subverted this self-interest, leaving the powerless in slavery or servitude. It wasn’t until the uniqueness of the United States blossomed did it become clear that the power of the market to serve the individual would impress upon the world what true economic freedom could produce. Make no mistake – it is a work in progress, but what a piece of work it is!

The good news is that humanity has been liberated from endless poverty, sickness, and early death!

It is to the power of free market capitalism we owe everything - our prosperity, our leisure time, our good health and our long lives. Wherever starvation, disease, systemic corruption and a perpetual state of war exist you will not find a free economic system running on capitalistic principles - that is, except in the margins where the black market thrives. The black market is an artificial manifestation in an unfree society that fulfills the unmet need of the individual to trade his goods and services. When the free market is unleashed the black market disappears into the shadows and a new middle class society is born.

There is more than just economic benefits that surface as a result of the miracle of capitalism. It is also an expression of freedom, real freedom – economic freedom. The inherent result is a society where individual rights are respected; businesses, families, and associations are permitted to thrive without intrusive government interference.

Recent history is replete with examples of how free markets and free trade has delivered the masses from poverty and servitude. Since World War II we have had a virtual lesson in economics played out with the world’s economy as our classroom. The nations of Japan and West Germany whose reconstruction was managed by the United States saw these two nations become the 2nd and 3rd largest economies in the world. At the same time the communist overlords in the Soviet Union and China continued to see poverty and shortages plague their centrally controlled economies. Even now in the liberated nations of western Europe the stagnation of socialist guided economies is becoming ever more apparent with each passing year. Only after the governments in China and India threw off the economic shackles of their communism and socialism respectively have we seen both nations develop into the most dynamic economies of the day. In contrast Western Europe, Russia and even Canada stubbornly cling to their socialist/oligarchical ways only to watch Southeast Asia leap over them on the world economic stage. Ironically, it is the “capitalistic” elements in all these societies that produce whatever power and wealth they enjoy!

Perhaps the most prescient example of the deficiency of economic freedom is in the Arab/Muslim world. Oil wealth in the region gives an appearance of success when in fact the poverty of peace and freedom is overwhelming. No where in the world is the need for economic reform greater than in the nations of the greater Middle East. Unfortunately without a successful example of an economically free nation in their midst (excluding Israel, of course) it is less and less likely that the region it will ever reform. This makes the resistance by the so-called western allies to the American led regime change in Iraq all the more puzzling. Well, maybe not…

There is a world wide effort to devalue what capitalism has created and it is led by the Europeans, the Chinese government, the UN and certain political groups in the United States itself. Freedom itself is at issue here. The Europeans, the Chinese, the Russians, the Muslims and the American left wing don’t believe in it. Oh, they may say they do, they may even accuse you of slander and, of course, racism if you question their commitment to it, but their actions speak louder than their words.

When a beleaguered President Bush says opposing the tide of Islamic terrorism is the cause of our time he is actually down playing the challenge… Defending the freedom and prosperity that free market capitalism has produced is really at stake. We ignore this challenge at our own peril.


Friday, December 22, 2006

How to Tell the Good Guys From the Bad Guys at the Border

Rule #1
The good guys are the ones representing the border patrol and are American citizens

Rule #2
The bad guys are the illegal drug smugglers

Well, now that we have this straight let's see if the judicial system can figure it out. At the risk of sounding like a cliche I AM OUTRAGED! You see a pair of border patrol agents have been tried and convicted, facing up to 20 years in jail for "violating the civil rights" of an illegal drug smuggling Mexican and for shooting him in the butt. If their appeal fails they will be going to jail for doing their jobs. There is a petition drive to ask the President to pardon them - there's been no word from the White House.

What really stinks to high Heaven is that American authorities went into Mexico tracked down the drug smuggler and gave him immunity to testify against agents Ignacio "Nacho" Ramos and Jose A. Compean. To these officials I say read Rule #1 and Rule #2.

What is wrong with this country?


Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Ban Me Now or Ban Me Later

Government of the People, By the People, For the People - so long, it's been good to know 'ya

The nanny-state clears another hurdle in it's relentless quest to protect us children from ourselves. Instead of actually holding people accountable for their actions and behavior the bureaucratic nannies over at city hall will simply create a ban.

New York City has banned restaurants from selling food made with trans-fat. "It is a dangerous and unnecessary ingredient," claims the NYC health commissioner. It is also the ingredient that gives certain foods the texture and flavor desired by cooks and clients alike. What business is it of New York City to decide what New Yorkers eat?

It wasn't even ten years ago that "experts" and health professionals were urging the use of trans-fats to replace "dangerous" animal fats for cooking. We have all seen the ridiculous use of the media to spread fear of certain foods or drugs (or breast implants) only to see a study years later that totally refute the previous dire claims.

Yes, it is totally possible that trans-fats are dangerous in large amounts. Cigarettes are dangerous too, as well as alcohol and a whole host of perfectly legal products. People have a choice whether to eat, drink or smoke things that may be or may not be dangerous to them. In Japan there is a delicacy called fugu, a fish that aficionados pay hundreds of dollars to eat. It is also potentially deadly if it is not prepared in a precise manner. The flavor, it is said, is really nothing special? A little richer than other white fish but a flavor sensation it is not. So why do diners and cooks risk their lives to serve and eat it? Because they can! It's called freedom!

The nanny-state claims that trans-fat (and cigarette smoking) are costing society billions in health care outlays so this tact of regulating what people do is for the good of all society. Again, this is strictly because society doesn't punish offenders for their actions, instead they punish the law abiding and wise for the actions of a few. Instead of throwing the book at violent criminals who use firearms they want to ban all guns - as if the gun points itself and pulls it's own trigger. Or, the cigarette jumps from the pack, lights itself and forces you to inhale. People make choices and they ought to be held accountable. Smokers perhaps should pay substantially higher insurance costs. Violent gun users should be locked up for good! Obese people perhaps need better mental health care coverage to overcome behaviors that lead to poor eating decisions.

I am diabetic and have many restrictions on what (and the amount) I should eat. Donuts are out, can't eat them. Should I demand that donuts and pastry be banned - they are clearly dangerous to me if I eat them in large amounts. No, I just shouldn't eat them. Why should I or the city on my behalf ban donuts for the millions who love them and can eat them without consequence?

A colleague at work looks upon the the trans-fat ban with an "oh well, it really isn't good for you, and face it too many Americans are overweight" as he pats his substantial belly. He is essentially saying that I can't control myself so it is good that my nanny watch what I eat. This is a 40 something adult man with a decent head on his shoulders. This "what can you do about it" attitude towards the creeping nanny-state is exactly what got Europe in the state it is in.

It is so much easier to just let our nanny force us into healthy and compliant behavior - why fight it? Because you are a free person, an individual with a free will. We are not a collective, but a community of individuals. We are not a hive serving one queen (or nanny). Yes, we need each other, I know that better than most, we need to look out for each other and help when it's needed or asked for. But as I am learning as a father and a husband (not a nanny) I have to let them face the consequences of their actions... So should the government.

My colleague at work may think it is just OK that the government regulates what we can and cannot do until the day they come after something he likes and holds dear!


Thursday, December 14, 2006

World's Shortest Book

"Everything Men Understand About the Female Mind"

Obviously this is not an original concept on my part since every male stand-up comedian has made this topic his bread and butter since the invention of the microphone. In fact, for men, it is as hard a question as there is. Frankly, women are too complicated for us. Men in contrast are pretty easy to figure out, nothing too complicated about what goes on in our skulls - mainly sex and sports. Pretty much all we do is aimed at building a comfortable place to have sex and play our games.

I define sports widely - it can be anything from actual physical athletic exertion to building model airplanes. In the modern workplace when a group of men get together at the proverbial water cooler the discussion of the two "G's" inevitably comes up. Girls and Golf. Like I said - it's sex and sports. In all honesty men talk about these two things a lot more than they do these two things, but it hardly matters since the the phrase "it's all in your head" has never been more true.

Women, on the other hand, think about a lot of things, too many things for their own good actually. When I watched that Mel Gibson movie a few years ago "What Women Want" I was struck by one thing over and over. I wasn't sure if what I detected was true or not since I really don't know if the movie was written and produced by females or males. It seems that women - or a lot of women lack confidence in themselves in comparison to men.

What struck me about this revelation was an article I read on one of my favorite blogs and a conversation I had with my dear mother.

Christopher Chantrill's "Road to The Middle Class" blog posted an article called Men Are Funnier Than Women. Discuss where he cites Christopher Hitchens perplexity on the subject. The one quote cited that really got me was this:

Men have to pretend, to themselves as well as to women, that they are not the servants and supplicants. Women, cunning minxes that they are, have to affect not to be the potentates.

This I believe all men in committed relationships know to be true. Men at some level are here to serve women. Women hold tremendous power over the men in their lives even if they don't know it. Men for the most part are only truly happy when their women are. "If Momma aint happy nobody's happy!"

So, what makes women happy? Are you kidding me? I have no idea, I'm a man!

As women's roles have evolved over the last thirty years to where they now have some of the same opportunities men have had along I think they are finding that the more complicated (and cluttered) their minds are the more difficult it is to be happy. For men, heck, it's just sex and sports - happiness should be just that easy!

The key to the difference is self assuredness and confidence. Whether a man is discussing the effectiveness of the quarterback of his favorite team or the best route to get from here to there he is extremely confident about it. He may be full of it but it doesn't matter, he knows he's right.

For women it is, as always, a double-edged sword in the swaggering self-confidence department. If a woman is just too damn sure of herself and pushes it she is a dragon lady or a bitch whereas a man is viewed as man's man and respected for his strong opinion. This is what my mother was talking about. When it comes to things like driving directions (a car or a golf club) and how things ought to be done we men think we are right and we are damn confident about it. "Do it my way!" The bottom line is that men doubt themselves far less than women do.

Seriously, it is a huge problem and the popular culture of portraying the woman as constant victim of male domination fosters a large part of the destruction of her confidence. As a result many women fall apart and the whole society suffers. Men get confused and since we have a proclivity to fix things we end up make it worse. By fixing "everything" we only reinforce the notion that led to her crisis of confidence in the first place.

The problems that arise from this are just to numerous to discuss here - books have been written - and the solution is not going to be simple. We can be certain that as society evolves the worst thing we can do is continue to trumpet victimhood because we can see what that has done for black Americans. Women do have power, they always have, now they need the confidence to go along with it.


Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Predicting the Future: Fun for the Whole Family

Where Are We Going?

I think one of the reasons I love Science Fiction so much is that it transports me out of this world where everything is seemingly going to hell in a hand basket. I know this is not really true when in fact everything is actually getting better all the time. The fact that the global economy is more diverse and free than at any time in history - and in the process human poverty and starvation is actually declining - is totally lost on the consumers of the nightly news cycle.

The doom and gloom and constant hand wringing coming from that TV drives me crazy. The hardest thing for modern man to overcome is our own cynicism. Hell, I am a natural complainer myself. I have been known to be a negative Nelly, no really, as hard as it is to believe it's true.

Are we There Yet?

I'll bet that right before the world was plunged into darkness that we called World War II back in the late 1930's few people would have predicted just how well civilization would be doing in the year 2000. What Western Civilization has built (or rebuilt) after the fall of the Nazis and the imperialists in Japan is simply remarkable. If the past is the predictor of the future then, my God, the future looks bright.

Most futurists look at the present situation and apply a formula that simply extrapolates a future based on incremental advancements. This makes perfect sense. Moore's Law on computing power has proven to be remarkable accurate. Even when we reach the physical material limits of the current semi-conductors some advancement comes along that will allow another barrier to be breached. This is true with most things - not the least of which is agricultural yields. Abundant food alone is responsible for the rising fortunes of humanity!

The pace of human advancement follows an exponential curve. This means change will come faster and the achievements will be even greater. I for one look forward to the day when we as the human race find that magical solution to our energy woes. I am confident it will happen in my lifetime. A brilliant solution to harness the power of the Sun in a safe, efficient manner is forth coming. If not, then, we will find a way that makes the energy solutions we already have insanely more efficient than they are today. The bottom line is that the key to our future is more energy use.

Like I said earlier, the future is an extrapolation of the past and if one thing is made clear by now our energy needs are ever increasing. This, I contend, is a good thing. I want the future to be bigger, better and come faster. I want to be an optimist! We have every right to believe the future will deliver us into a better world.

However, there are more than a few flies in the ointment...

The Big Three:
Global Warming hysteria
GM food hysteria
Islamic fascism

All three of these have one goal which is clearly evident to those who actually take the time to truly examine them: The End of Capitalism

This comes at just the time capitalism has proven itself vastly superior to the other "isms" at delivering the promise of a better future. Why is it what seems so clear to me is lost on most people. Well, most people, who derive their very fortunes from the dynamic world capitalism has created, are too brainwashed by the overbearing foghorn that is the mainstream media.

This is not say that the environment in the case of Global Warming is not important. Satisfying our need to protect the planet from environmental degradation will not be served by destroying capitalism. It seems obvious that the 70 year experiment with communism was the worst environmental disaster the world has ever seen. China is an environmental disaster waiting to happen not because it has embraced capitalism but because it took so long to do so.

So too, the world's embrace of GM (genetically modified) foods should be done with all the care and caution that is required, but in the end it is doing with science what man has done with hybridization for thousands of years. It should be celebrated as a marvelous human achievement not feared and banned.

The real threat to a better future for all of us is Islamic fundamentalism. Those of you who read this blog regularly might think this is a broken record - but don't fool yourselves into thinking I am alone. I have to ask why the mainstream media doesn't even try to sound this warning siren with the same conviction they scream about "HailiBushHilterBurton" stealing your money, killing your sons and daughters and taking away your constitutional rights. Fear, my friends. They don't fear "HailiBushHilterBurton" but they fear Islam, they fear insulting Islam and they fear their multicultural politically correct peers.

Western Civilization is in peril because we are so apathetic and unconvinced of our own greatness that we would rather yawn and proceed clicking the channels than to stand up and defend what we have.

Victor Davis Hanson writes so eloquently on this subject in the Wall Street Journal. His piece "Losing The Enlightenment" he states:

"The hard-won effort of the Western Enlightenment of some 2,500 years that, along with Judeo-Christian benevolence, is the foundation of our material progress, common decency, and scientific excellence, is at risk in this new millennium.

"But our newest foes of Reason are not the enraged Athenian democrats who tried and executed Socrates. And they are not the Christian zealots of the medieval church who persecuted philosophers of heliocentricity. Nor are they Nazis who burned books and turned Western science against its own to murder millions en masse.

No, the culprits are now more often us. In the most affluent, and leisured age in the history of Western civilization--never more powerful in its military reach, never more prosperous in our material bounty--we have become complacent, and then scared of the most recent face of barbarism from the primordial extremists of the Middle East."

Michael Novak sums it all up in his excellent piece "What the Islamists Have Learned" citing the new creed of the militant Islamists:

"Maxim # 2: Take heart, then, my terrorist brothers! Bin Laden is even more correct than we knew before the last two years. The West does not have the will to resist. Those elites among them who do have the stomach to fight back, inexorably, day after day, are being undermined by their own media.

Now and in the future, the media will do our work. All we need are martyrs sufficient in number to keep a steady stream of orange flames and black smoke before their cameras, and to dump before them bodies that are stone-cold dead, and bear all over them the unmistakable blue marks of power drills and other disfigurements.

Of such martyrs, we need each day only a handful. In 365 successive days, we need fewer than one thousand.

This small band of brothers can defeat the most powerful army in human history. The path, my brothers, is to come to dominate the minds of their public, which they must suppose is supporting them, and in reality turns quite quickly into our best ally.

This is not so huge a task, my brothers! In the long run of glorious history, the time required is like the blinking of an eye."

Mark Steyn from "America Alone":

“In the fourteenth century, the Black Death wiped out a third of the Continent’s population; in the twenty-first, a larger proportion will disappear — in effect, by choice. We are living through a rare moment: the self-extinction of the civilization which, for good or ill, shaped the age we live in. One can cite examples of remote backward tribes who expire upon contact with the modern world, but for the modern world to expire in favor of the backward tribes is a turn of events future anthropologists will ponder, as we do the fall of Rome.”

Mona Charin:

"The lone exception to this downward spiral in the West is the United States. Our birthrate plus immigration means that our population is growing, not shrinking. (Actually, our growth is due to red state birth rates. If it were up to the blues, we’d be in Europe’s fix.) But most American liberals are as weak-minded as the Europeans when it comes to the matter of will. They do not feel the urge to preserve Western civilization as strongly as the desire to apologize for it — and that may be the death of us."

And last but not least the uncommonly positive and enthusiastic futurist and technologist Ray Kurzweil after telling us all about the wonders of our technologically advanced future world lays down this warning:

"One trick we'll have to master is staying ahead of the game. Kurzweil warns that terrorists could, obviously, use this same technology against us. For example, they could build and spread a bioengineered biological virus that's highly powerful and stealthy."

The future is bright if we care enough to see it through. If we blink and allow the socialists, the Luddites and the Islamic swarm to destroy capitalism, more precisely the United States then I say pass me the government-distributed candle so I can read my Koran.


Saturday, November 25, 2006

Fear and Hate, Disgust and Distrust

We often hate what we fear. Most of the time fear and hate are irrational and arise out of simple ignorance. I claim no exception from both of these emotions but I do marvel at the general knee jerk nature of those among us for whom ignorance is a badge of honor when it comes to understanding those they both fear and hate.

We almost always distrust those we fear. We often hate those that disgust us. Sometimes these feelings have a basis in reality and sometimes once again they are a result of ignorance. Sorting this out and assigning rational fear and distrust to those who can actually harm us or our society is the function of study and an open mind.

Take religious folk and secular folk in the good 'ol United States for instance. Those who make a boogieman out of Christians and more particularly the Christian Right assign way too much distrust and disgust in my opinion. What is mainly a backlash against what they see as a societal breakdown of decency and manners and a hateful degradation of benign Christian traditions by the secularization of America, Christians are regarded as an enemy of the constitution. The popular notion has become that Christianity is irrelevant to all that has made this a great country.

In truth the secular and religious traditions and institutions have combined to make this country a great success story. It is balancing act that teeters back and forth self correcting as we go along. I fear that with the real and rightful corrections to laws that were blatant religious constructs (such as the Blue Laws) we are ready to throw the baby out with the bath water.

In my opinion all the so-called "crimes" of the religious right pale in comparison to the rhetoric spewed by a hateful secular left. It is unbalanced and the country now teeters on the verge of tearing itself apart. A good friend of mine and I were discussing this very topic recently. I told him I thought that the constant horn blowing against religion in this country was very detrimental because such fear mongering was way out of proportion. He sort of agreed - but said he didn't think the Christian Right should have so much influence on elections and public life. I looked at him quizzically and said "don't you think the secular mainstream media has too much influence on elections and public life." What could he say to that?

Does the public display of religious content pose anywhere near the threat to our country that an "anything goes" popular culture does? Does promoting abstinence, adoption and pro-life messages pose anywhere near the harm that unplanned pregnancies, abortion and "free love" does? You can say that a ten thousand year tradition in nearly every society on earth of marriage between one man and one woman is obsolete but the vast majority of our society doesn't agree based on the result of dozens of state-wide referendums and constitutional amendments that have passed.

Finally, I guess what bothers me most is that Christians and Christian belief systems are constantly ridiculed (sometimes rightly and oftentimes wrongly), feared and compared to ideologies that are truly dangerous and horrendous. Islam is just such an ideology/religion and does not even come close to Christianity for the scorn, distrust and outright hatred it engenders in the world of the secular left. This bothers me. Islam has a stated goal of ruling the world and now has the wealth and is soon to have the weapons to accomplish this goal - if we let it. The worst part of this is that we are handing them the wealth and the weapons with which they will conquer and actually impose their beliefs on the rest of us - Christian and secular alike. Oil is obviously the wealth creator but their biggest weapon against us is not going to be nuclear weapons but our own self-hatred and apathy. We are systematically dismantling the blend of secular and Christian values that have helped create our power and our wealth, a power and wealth that has saved the world from Nazism, imperialism and Soviet communism.

Whatever you choose to believe I can say confidently it is not Christian fundamentalism that threatens America and the west.

Author David Aikman speaking to a Chinese official when researching for his book "Jesus in Beijing" got this quote which I think we should all take to heart before we dismantle our society:

"At first, we thought [the power of the West] was because you had more powerful guns than we had. Then we thought it was because you had the best political system. Next we focused on your economic system. But in the past twenty years, we have realized that the heart of your culture is your religion: Christianity."


Saturday, November 18, 2006

If I Were Half as Smart as I Thought I Was...

I have used this blogspot space as somewhat of an electronic editorial page rather than a true stream of conscientiousness weblog. Since my local newspaper has not seen fit to give me a shot as guest columnist I feel the public is being deprived of my brilliance (initiate laugh track here). They run a contest of sorts, or they used to (since I no longer subscribe and have no idea what the are up to these days) to give members of the community a shot at writing about six opinion columns during the course of the year. There have been a couple of these guys who continued on and have become "paid" columnists - and they deserved it.

I had been rather good at getting my letters to editor published over the years in both my local paper and the one from the big city across the river. While I didn't like that they edited my work to the point of cutting or altering the very meaning of my words I was always thrilled to see my work in newsprint. In short I thought I had a uniquely incandescent view of the world that simply must be shared.

Well, ladies and gents what I have learned is that mine is puny intellect. Sure, I like to think I am far more well informed and frankly more intelligent on the subjects that interest me than the average Joe - and this is probably true - but it seems everyday I find the more I think I know the less I actually know. If I was half as smart as I thought I was.

It doesn't matter what subject I tackle or how "expert" I think I am there are a thousand average Joe's out here on the Internet that just put me to shame. It can be depressing if you let it get to you. So, I try and learn what I can and I continue to hone and even change my own opinions as the facts dictate. Basic core beliefs are harder to reform and that's how it ought to be. I could no more throw away my distrust and revulsion of Socialism, for example, on a whim than I could suddenly stop being attracted to the opposite sex.

There's a term that was coined years ago after the Jonestown incident called "drinking the Koolaid". It means you are so brainwashed by the gurus you admire that anything they ask you to do you do! Political, religious and social ideologies are hotbeds for these Koolaid drinkers. Even I have been seduced from time to time to take a sip...

The bottom line is we need to question our own beliefs and behaviors from time to time and adjust our opinions and even sometimes our core beliefs. The recent election in America gave me pause to think about which "path" our nation should be following. Does the other side have anything to offer? Does the full on charge of capitalism offer the most for the most as I have come to believe over the years? Do I need to reevaluate what I presume to be true about world as it is?

It only took about a week after the election to have my views on Socialism reaffirmed. I firmly believe that America MUST follow a course that rejects socialism with every fiber of our being. If we follow the path Europe has mapped out we will be living in the world George Orwell described in his classic novel "1984". I believe Orwell was socialist himself, or he was anti-capitalist, and saw the right-wingers bringing about the world Winston Smith found himself in. Truly after reading this article and hearing the rationale behind Britain's "parenting workforce" I have come to believe all my fears of socialism running amok are true. The first couple of paragraphs are simply chilling:

Parents could be forced to go to special classes to learn to sing their children nursery rhymes, a minister said.

Those who fail to read stories or sing to their youngsters threaten their children's future and the state must put them right, Children's Minister Beverley Hughes said.

Their children's well-being is at risk 'unless we act', she declared.

And Mrs Hughes said the state would train a new 'parenting workforce' to ensure parents who fail to do their duty with nursery rhymes are found and 'supported'.

(found and 'supported' - look at this language and tell me it doesn't frighten you!)

Please, I ask you, the American people, reject this bullshit with every fiber of your being!


Friday, November 10, 2006

The Black Swan

My latest painting I decided to entitle with the Latin name Cygnus Atratus when I learned that the term Black Swan had another meaning. A black swan is a unpredictable event that defies prediction: its very unexpectedness helps create the conditions for it to occur. Since I finished it on election day I felt that through power of the karmic transcendental universe I had unwittingly caused the thumping we took that fateful day. But, then again, the results were really not that unpredictable were they? By definition Nov 7th 2006 was not a black swan.

I hope you enjoy this painting. It is from a photo I personally took when visiting the Duluth Zoo in the summer of 2006.

Please, if you haven't already taken a peek at my art gallery, visit: Thanks!

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Say Hello To Higher Taxes

The one that is perfectly clear in the aftermath of this electoral wipe out - our taxes are going up. When the smoke clears and the victors go to work on the "bad" economy, global warming, stem cell research and Bush's "adventure" in Iraq we will all see if sound bite governing will actually work.

The problem for us is that they will still have Bush to beat up for 2 more years. Now, if history holds true and the tax increases, environmental roadblocks and handouts this Congress will surely accomplish do not produce any real effects until 2009 then Bush will have left us with a vibrant and growing economy. The Democrats will continue to blame Bush for years to come but when the American people "feel the pain" they will blame the party in power. I will then experience what the Germans call schadenfreude.

scha den freu de
- noun
satisfaction or pleasure felt at someone else's misfortune.

Today the Democrats are experiencing it. I hope they enjoy it while it lasts.


Saturday, November 04, 2006

All My Cars

All The Gas Guzzling , CO2 Spewing Internal Combustion Monsters I have Known and Loved!

As I was filing some photos the other day I came across a bunch of pictures of cars I have owned. It is amazing how many cars one ends up owning in the course of a twenty-five year driving career. The fact that for 10 years during that time I did not personally own a car because I had a succession of company cars amazes me even further. Take a look... Some of these photos were not my car but are pictures off the Internet.

1969 Plymouth Barracuda
w/225 slant six
My first car. I loved this car, enough said.

1970 Volkswagen Beetle
Easily the biggest piece of crap I've ever owned. Other than the fabulous clutch and the huge trunk there was nothing to like about this hunk of "German engineering".

1969 Chevy Van (mine was Orange)
I traded the Volkswagen for this thing. It was a danger to me and any one who ever got near it. I ended up painting like a hippy van - huge mistake - neither the cops nor my girlfriend's dad liked it very much. Neither did I.

1970 Dodge Dart (mine was tan)
I hardly remember this car. I didn't have it for too long and don't recall what happened to it.

1980 Plymouth Horizon TC3 (mine was dark blue)
Easily the second biggest piece of junk I ever owned. It had - yes, you guessed it - a Volkswagen engine. There was almost nothing to like about this car... If I think hard enough... No, nothing.

1986 Chrysler Lebaron GTS (mine was a non-turbo)
This was the first and only NEW car I ever bought. My wife and I loved this car and took exquisite care of it. At precisely 100,000 miles it blew a head gasket and it never ran right again after that. We sold it with a heavy heart and vowed never to own a Chrysler again.

1986 Mercury Sable Wagon
This was purchased in haste to replace the Chrysler. It was a comfortable, capable car with lots of extras. It also had lots of extra costs too. Every repair required the equivalent of the entire GDP of a small nation. Talk about nickle and diming you to death... When the heater core went and we were told it would $550 to replace it we waited for spring and sold it!

1988 Chevrolet Celebrity Wagon
This was my first GM car. It was a retired taxi that had had the odometer tampered with. By the time I donated it to Camp Courage it was a rust bucket without a muffler, but it started and ran as smoothly as the day I bought it. The odometer said 209,000 - no telling how many miles it actually had. It was by far the most plain-jane generic car I had ever owned but it was the best, most reliable transportation I ever had.

1992 Pontiac Grand Prix LE (mine was light blue/gray)
Another car that I really loved. It gave me little trouble and the repair costs where reasonable. Except for poorly engineered rear disk brakes it was a very decently made car. I gave it to my daughter and at 14 tears old it is still used everyday.

1995 Pontiac Transport SE
We bought this one to pull around our little pop-up camper and to haul around kids and groceries. It served it's purpose. It was not as mechanically sound as it should have been considering it was the top of the line mini-van of its era. It sucked to drive, like driving a barn down the road except that a barn would have handled better. When the power windows started to fail and it needed a host of other repairs it was time to go. I donated to a school that trained mechanics and gave the vehicles to the poor.

2001 Toyota RAV4
My wife currently drives this little SUV. It is the first foreign car we have ever bought. (I have wiped the Volkswagen Beetle from my memory) What can I say - it is a great vehicle. It is a bit under powered for my tastes and the little 2 liter four banger is noisy and buzzy but it runs and drives great. Other than a water pump that the mechanic (who was replacing the belt) said was showing signs that it just might one day spring a leak it has been defect free to 71,000 miles. Face it, Toyota's and Honda's are great cars...

2001 Pontiac Grand Prix SE
This my current ride. I've had it just under a year so jury is still out on it. It has been defect free so far. It rides a little rough for my tastes but it handles great and I am surprised by the snort this small V6 engine has. The heat and A/C and the stereo are first rate. And just look at it - it is gorgeous car!

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Moron the Economy

...err, I Mean - More On the Economy

This weekend I was watching CSPAN and they had a Democratic pollster going through the list of things that voters are "concerned" about this year. Once again he went off on this so-called bad economy. Voters perceive that despite low interest rates, low unemployment, a strong stock market and solid corporate balance sheets that the economy is poor. Rising prices at the grocery store and stagnant wages are the supposed cause of this perception. In truth it is about prices at the pump more than anything else, but that's a subject for a different day.

So, I ask this: if stagnant wages and higher prices are putting the squeeze on the middle class what do they think higher taxes are going to do? Are higher taxes going to put more money in our wallets? Of course not. Higher taxes are what we are going to get if the Democrats get control of the House and Senate. Oh, but you say the Democrats are for targeted tax cuts for the middle class. In reality they will give tax cuts to those who act the way they want them to act. The beauty of the Bush tax cuts is that they were across the board - if you paid taxes you got a tax cut, period. If the Democrats (and the Republicans, for that matter) do not extend the Bush tax cuts then many people on the lowest rung of the economic ladder will be hit with tax increases because they had fallen off the charts under the Bush plan.

If I was asked what is number one reason I support Republicans - it certainly isn't the social conservative issues and Bible thumping - it isn't their courageous stand on illegal immigration - it isn't flag burning bans or flag waving stunts - it is taxes. The Republicans are 100 times more likely to lower taxes or at least not raise them. When all is said and done the reason this country continues to economically outperform all other countries is lower taxes.

But, but, but, what about healthcare and what about the environment and what about education??? Don't even try to tell me we don't spend enough on that rat-hole called public education. The environment is getting cleaner even as we increase in population and economic output. As for healthcare, yes it is a problem, but we have yet to see a socialist system of state-run healthcare that is really worth a damn.

Democrats will raise our taxes as a feel good measure and the only real beneficiaries will be in Washington DC. Eveyone else will suffer because of it. Is that what you want?


Monday, October 30, 2006

Good Economy, Bad Economy

I don't believe in all my years of following politics and elections that I have ever witnessed such an all out assault on one man as I have with this one. The real crazy thing is the man in question is not even on the ballot. George W. Bush will not be running again and while that may or may not warm the cockles of your heart it is no excuse for the full frontal the Republicans have faced from the MSM.

Somehow George W. Bush is responsible for EVERYTHING that is wrong in this world. Nearly all the media (worldwide) suffers so badly from what Charles Krauthammer calls the "Bush Derangement Syndrome" that they are not even trying to hide their out and out biases this time around. It is absolutely breathtaking in scope and degree. The media has used the divide and conquer method on the conservative base by trying to drive a wedge between the Christian conservatives and the Reagan conservatives. They have been using every demoralizing trick in the book to get conservative Republicans and center right independents from even bothering to show up on November 7th. I wonder if the wacko-left is even a little embarrassed by the blatant favoritism - wait, what am I saying...

The thing that drives me the most crazy is the constant references to the "bad" economy. If this is a bad economy then the 1970's was the Great Depression II. I'm sorry, but this is a GOOD economy, it is a very good economy. The world economy powered by the capitalism of the United States under Republican leadership has never been better, ever. More people have been lifted out of debilitating poverty around this globe than at any time in world history. Yet we sit and let this pig headed, and frankly evil, entity known as the main stream media denigrate the great things that have been happening in the last 8 to 12 years. It's shameful.

Don't beleive me? The Business and Media Institute, a division of the Media Research Center has done the homework on this one and it is not pretty. (READ HERE) This is a concerted effort by liberal/socialist dominated MSM to deliver the goods for the Democrats. Well, I am tired and beaten down but I will be at the polls on November 7th and I will do my part to defeat this insurrection of lies and distortions. I may not be happy with everything the President and this current Congress does but I can be damn sure I won't be happy with the socialists tearing down this country. They can pretend all they want that George W. Bush is Hitler and Dick Cheney is Goering but neither man is anything close to liars the left wing of the Democrat/Media coalition has produced.


Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Now He's Gone too Far: Part II

This is almost too good to be true...

A friend sent this in an e-mail today and it really struck a chord considering the topic of my last post. At first I didn't beleive it was real but a little seaching on the Internet and I did indeed find it to be legitimate. Please take the time to read it - it is short but sweet "Europe - Thy Name is Cowardice" by Mathias Dapfner CEO, Axel Springer, AG.

For those of you who have already seen this and read some of the "rebuttals" floating around ether have you noticed that the same ones who rant on and on with their anti-Americanism use the word Zionist all the time too? Curious, no?


Sunday, October 15, 2006

Nows He's Gone too Far!

We Can't Allow Western Culture to Be Slaves to Muslim Sensibilties

Writer and high school philosophy teacher Robert Redeker has been under police protection in hiding since the newspaper Le Figaro published his op-ed piece last month. The article entitled "Faced with Islamist Intimidations, What Should the Free World Do?" And Redeker is only the latest. Many Europeans have been threatened with death by Muslims outraged by criticism of their faith and prophet.

If it wasn't so deadly it would be funny...

This outright ridiculousness first came to the attention of the West when Salman Rushdie published a novel called "Satanic Verses" and suffered a fatwa issued by Ayatollah Khomeini, the leader of Iran. The West looked on curiously not quite understanding what the fuss was all about. In fact the intolerance and extreme sensitivity Muslims have toward anything or anybody that "disses" Islam is deadly. Modern Christians and Jews are frankly dumbfounded having endured caustic treatment of their icons, symbols and catechisms from all sides, including Muslims, for centuries.

Today we are becoming almost desensitized and oddly tolerant of Islamic intolerance. In Britian they literally banned the public image of pigs out of deference to Muslim sensibilities. Dutch filmmaker Theo Van Gough was brutally murdered in broad daylight for his documentary film "Submission" which looked at the way women are treated under Islam. His co-filmmaker, Ayaan Hirsi Ali, couldn't bare living under constant police protection, and resigned from the Dutch parliament and moved to America. Last month the Pope was roundly criticized for speaking what is so plainly obvious - how the "religion of peace" violently practices conversion. The Pope claimed, in so many words, that Islam is a violence based religion. What did the Muslims around the world do? Why they committed acts of violence and murder in protest.

This week I read that the Muslims were outraged by the shape of Apple Computer's new store in New York City. Muslims claim the new insult to Islam is a cube-shaped building Apple Computers is building in midtown Manhattan. "It is clearly meant to provoke Muslims." The fact that the building resembles the Ka'ba, is called 'Apple Mecca,' is intended to be open 24 hours a day like the Ka'ba, and moreover, contains bars selling alcoholic beverages, constitutes a blatant insult to Islam. Well, for one thing the word mecca is not an exclusively Muslim word anymore than the word Bible is a Christian word. For another, the store is 'clearly meant to promote the selling of computers and iPODS'. Already Apple spokesmen have claimed that threats have been issued...

Still, immediately following every act of vile terrorism perpetrated by Muslims we hear our leaders and news media implore us not to look askance at the "religion of peace". The first acts many governments commit is not retaliation against the terror sponsors, but rather it's to enact laws protecting the very perpetrators of TERRORISM!

I for one am growing weary of the West and free people everywhere being made to bite our tongues when it comes to criticizing an ideology - note that I did not say religion - that deserves all the criticism it gets and more. It seems I am not alone. Paul Belien of The Brussels Journal (probably the only conservative paper in Europe) is seeing signs that some Europeans have finally had enough. In his piece published on October 6th "Show Them Who Is the Boss in France", he states:

What is happening in France has been brewing in Old Europe for years. The BBC speaks of “youths” venting their “anger.” The BBC is wrong. It is not anger that is driving the insurgents to take it out on the secularised welfare states of Old Europe. It is hatred. Hatred caused not by injustice suffered, but stemming from a sense of superiority. The “youths” do not blame the French, they despise them.

And Europeans have only themselves to blame, Belien continues:

Europe willingly opened the door to the Muslims, not just by allowing large-scale immigration on an unprecedented level, but also by encouraging the newcomers to retain their culture. Several million Muslim immigrants allowed in at a speed and scale that was unique in history.

This is unlike the current invasion of the United States by Latin Americans - in that - a vast majority of the American people and by and large the government want immigrants to "become Americans". This is not to say that the majority of illegal immigrants want to become American citizens despite our historic ability to meld newcomers into the uniquely American culture. But the tide is turning here as well to where all too soon we will start to experience European-like riots in our streets.

I fear that Europe for demographic reasons alone may already be lost. It is good, however, that they are finally waking up, they've been taking it for too long. I only wish the Western media in Europe and in America would stop its clandestine war against Judeo-Christians values, not because Christians and Jews can't take criticism, but because we don't deserve it any more than Islam deserves a free pass.


Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Static Art (my new online art gallery)

I have decided to post a bunch of my paintings and drawings in a new blogspot site called Static Art. In it you will find old and new works of art by yours truly. The unfortunate part is I do not have very good equipment for rendering the images for the web, what I have will just have to do, for now. I hope to afford in the near future the gear to produce high quality images.

Please click on the link here and take a peek. I will be adding stuff occasionaly (as well as replacing the blurry images when I can) so stop by on occasion...


Sunday, October 01, 2006

The Promise of Adult Stem Cell Therapies

The Promise of Embryonic Stem Cell Therapy May Be in The Future, But Adult Stem Cell Therapy is NOW!

Every so often a story squeaks out of the mainstream press that might shed some light on the Stem Cell debate yet it slips right by most people. The fact that embryonic and adult stem cell research continues on with or without federal dollars is never really mentioned because we are led to believe that President Bush has "banned" stem cell research. In fact he has only suspended federal dollars for new "embryonic" stem cell research. What I find most interesting in this debate is the fact that embryonic stem cell therapy does not yet exist. Therapies derived form adult stem cells are not only in existence but are producing promising results as found in this LA Times article "Adult stem cells boost ailing hearts".

Yes, it is true that the possibilities for embryonic stem cell therapy are mind boggling - as mind boggling as, say, cold fusion and room temperature super-conductors. The difference is that there is no real ethical component to clean and cheap nuclear energy and the ability to transmit said energy over long distances without loss like there is with destroying (potential) human life. One can argue that many of the embryos in question are slated to be destroyed anyway- and it's good argument. However, one can also argue the slippery slope principle...

Many had said after we developed the "bomb" just because we can doesn't mean we should. In other words, with science we "can" do a lot of things but should we? Yes, the embryos are merely potential babies, but babies were the reason they were created in the first place. Hitler's doctors conducted and developed many useful studies and processes by experimenting on human beings - something we should all find abhorrent. This is the slippery slope.

It is already happening in this brave new world that women are concieving babies for profit. In Africa fetuses are being harvested for cosmetics. Yes, cosmetics. British women swear by it! Just read this article: Fetuses harvested for cosmetic procedures: Repulsive new world of humansacrifice by Drs. Michael A. Glueck & Robert J. Cihak and try not to be repulsed. This is the fear many people have about going down this road.

The other question one must ask is why the media and the celebrity cultural foghorns never, ever talk about the real progress being made with adult stem cells. Adult stem cells, while perhaps not having the same "potential" also have far fewer gotchas like rejection and cancer. In this rather lengthy article by Wolfgang Lillge, M.D called The Case for Adult Stem Cell Research we learn about the real potential for therapy from ones own cells to repair or maybe even cure disease. But instead of the good doctor being mentioned in the news stream we find articles that purposely dismiss the good news with false and misleading reporting like this article from the CBC: Poor success for heart attack stem cell treatments: study. But this study is already outdated because now the preferred technique would be to modify the marrow stem cells in a way that made them more like fetal stem cells EXCEPT being your own, no rejection worries. Either the people reporting this study are not sufficiently versed in what is going on in the field - or more likely - they didn't want to mention it.

So, was it wrong for the President to have veto'd the bill sent to him by Congress? That is for history to judge. Bush will not be running again. The next President could reverse this and we will then see if it going to be money poured down the rat hole or a miracle - or the slippery slope to a place like 1940 Germany... Time will tell, but I do hope that the actual promise of adult stem cell research gets is due.


The Matterhorn

In this crazy world one must find peace where ever he can. I have burned myself out on politics and war (one and the same these days) and find my solace in the brush.

"The Matterhorn"
20X24 acrylic

Here I have finally put to canvas a picture that's been sitting in my "someday" box. The original photo came from a 1987 calendar distributed by Glaxo (apparently before Smith and Kline got involved). The calendar has twelve fantastic full color photos of various views of the Alps. The Matterhorn is undoubtable one of the most awesome jagged peaks in the world. In this painting the spectacular 14,692 foot high Matterhorn is fronted by ancient architecture that lends the rock-hard visage the soft hand of humanity. I think this one turned out rather nicely... Enjoy.


Sunday, September 17, 2006

The Case for Something Instead of Nothing

"I find it quite improbable that such order came out of chaos. There has to be some organizing principle.

God to me is a mystery but is the explanation for the miracle of existence, why there is something instead of nothing."
Dr. Alan Sandage - an American astronomer.

Why is there something instead of nothing? Why are we here? What is the meaning of life? What is my purpose? These are enduring questions that mankind has been asking himself since the dawn of time. Up until about a hundred and fifty years ago man thought he had the answer. The answer was God or the gods. The secular humanist revolution of the 19th century spurred on in part by the likes of Marx and Darwin has in effect pushed God out of the picture, prefering the chaos of random chance as the only rational explanation to these questions. But is it really rational?

Dr Alan Sandage, whom I quoted above, was born of Jewish background, but at age 60 became a Christian. He is not the only scientist who became a believer in Jesus Christ as God incarnate. One of the most famous is geneticist Francis Collins, the scientist who mapped the human genome. In the mid 70's Collins, a self described "obnoxious athiest" was surprised by the serene faith of the terminally ill patients he encountered during his medical residency. With his faith in "nothing" shaken he sought a consultation with a local minister who knew just the ticket... He handed Collins a book called "Mere Christianity" written by the most famous athiest to Christian convert of the 20th century - the one and only, C.S. Lewis. Dr. Collins put his science and his faith on the line in his own recently published book called "The Language of God".

"The Case for Christianity" the first volume of the collection that eventually became "Mere Christianity" is a gem of a book. C.S. Lewis has a remarkable way of making complex issues understandable. At the end of the first chapter Lewis lays out the scope of his argument: "First, that human beings, all over the earth, have this curious idea that they ought to behave in a certain way, and cannot really get rid of it. Secondly, that they do not in fact behave in that way. They know the Law of Nature; they break it. These two facts are the foundation of all clear thinking about ourselves and the universe we live in". It is true that all cultures throughout history have had such a moral code and those codes are remarkably similar.

If we start with the premise as Lewis does that there is an unwritten Law of Right and Wrong, Law of Human Nature, Code of Decent Behavior, a Moral Code or whatever you want to call it then logic and reason demand that it came from somewhere. Since it is not merely instinct and it transcends all cultures and all time it can't be simply "learned" then one concludes it was given to us by something, someone, - perhaps God???

Here I will step through the main points of C.S. Lewis' remarkable little book:

* * *
There exists an innate Law of Right and Wrong, Moral Code or Law of Human Nature that dictates how we "ought" to act and behave. The way we behave in fact is generally at odds with this Law. This Law had to have come from Somewhere or Something.

* * *
The universe we live in either exists for no reason or there is a power or "mind" behind it. There is but one entity that can even pose this question via the observation of the universe and everything in it, that would be man. LEWIS: "If there is a controlling power outside the universe it could not show itself as one of the facts inside the universe... The only way in which it could expect to show itself would to be inside of us as to influence or a command trying to get us to behave in a certain way. And that's just what we do find inside us." (The Moral Code)

* * *
The power behind the universe is either a Duality as in a Light/Good force and a Dark/Bad force or it is a Singularity where one force precedes the other. In the case for the Duality both Light and Dark are equal but separate and both forces believes itself to be good and righteous while the other is bad and evil; the two are locked in an endless battle. In the case for the Singularity the Dark force has fallen away from the Light.

* * *
Badness/evil for it's own sake is insufficient since being in a state of existence is itself a good thing. To pursue badness takes intelligence and will, both of which are good. It follows that badness is only spoiled goodness. LEWIS: "And you begin to see why Christianity has always said that the devil was a fallen angel... It's a real recognition of the fact that evil is a parasite, not an original thing... the thing that enables something to be effectively bad are in themselves good things - resolution, cleaverness, good looks and existence itself. That's why Dualism in a strict sense, won't work."

The Dark Power in the universe - a mighty evil who holds the power behind death and disease and sin was created by the Power behind the Good, which we call God Himself. The Dark Power was created by God and was a good when it was created and went wrong. The universe is at war with itself, but it is not a war of equal and independent powers. It is a civil war, a rebellion and the world we live in is occupied territory, occupied by the rebel, Satan himself.

LEWIS: "Christianity is the story of how the rightful King has landed, you might say landed in disguise... Christians then believe that an evil power has made himself for the present the Prince of this World." Then how can the absolute Power allow something so contrary to His will? God created things which have a free will, free to go right or wrong. And why would God give us free will? LEWIS: "Because a free will, though it makes evil possible is also the only thing that makes possible any sort of love or goodness or joy worth having... When we've understood about free will we shall see why it is silly to ask: Why did God create a creature of such rotten stuff that it went wrong?"

LEWIS: "How did the Dark Power go wrong? Because the moment you have a sense of self at all, there is a possibility of putting yourself first - wanting to be at the center - wanting to be God, in fact. That was the sin of Satan: that was the sin of the human race..." Satan, the devil, the Dark Power - put into the heads of our ancient ancestors that they too could be Gods. That they could invent some sort of happiness outside of God, apart from God.

The problem becomes that since we were created to "run" on God we don't run properly without him. He is the fuel of our spirits like gasoline is to a car. Despite all the terrific things man has accomplished throughout the centuries something always goes wrong. The people who rise to the top with their power, wealth and influence develop the fatal flaws of selfishness or cruelty and a people or a society falls into misery and ruin.

God is absolute goodness and imbued in us this Moral Code, the Law of Right and Wrong so that we can be good as well in order to be "with" Him. Since we, as fallen men under the yoke of the Dark Power holding this Earth in it's grips, fall short and do not live up to this Law we lose favor with Him. Christianity is the story of God's plan to save us from the emptyness of life without God.

There was a people chosen by God to be the ones to know and understand the sense of right and wrong and right conduct. The Jews spent several centuries chronicling the Moral Law that existed inside the conscience of man. The Jews, convinced that God was the creator of this universe and exists outside of it, were shocked at the claims of this Man among them, Jesus of Nazareth who went about claiming to be Him. LEWIS: " Let us get this clear. Among Panthiests, like the Hindus anyone might say he was part of God, or be one with God: there would be nothing very odd about it. But this man, since He was a Jew, couldn't have meant that kind of God... Once you grasped that, you will see what this man said was quite simply the most shocking thing that has ever been uttered by human lips."

LEWIS: "We are faced with a frightening alternative. This Man we are talking about was (and is) just what he said or else a lunatic, or something worse." Christians accept that Jesus was God and landed in enemy occupied territory in human form. The question is - to what purpose? To suffer and be killed for the forgiveness of our sins. The central Christian belief is that Christ's death has somehow put us right with God.

LEWIS: "We learn that Christ was killed for us, that his death has washed out our sins and that by dying He disabled (spiritual) death itself. That's the formula, that's Christianity." That is not to say that we are free to sin and act pridefull because Christ has made this ultimate sacrifice. The unrighteous must dig out from the hole he created. LEWIS: "In other words, the fallen man isn't simply an imperfect creature in need of improvement: he's a rebel who must lay down his arms..." This surrender is called repentance.

Repentance means killing a part of yourself. LEWIS: "Only a bad person needs to repent and only a good person can repent... now we need God's help in order to do something which God, in His own nature never does at all - to surrender, to suffer, to submit, to die. Nothing in God's nature corresponds to this process at all... God can only share what he has: this thing, in His own nature, he has not"

What if God became a man? What if our human nature which can suffer and die was joined with God's nature - then we could receive God's help. God through Christ sacraficed and died which is something He himself needn't suffer at all. The perfect surrender: Perfect because He was God, surrender and humiliation because He was man.

We can follow Christ through repentence and live a Christ-life where we are not expected to be perfect, for only He is perfect, but through the power of the Holy Spirit which Christ places in you. You carry a piece of Christ with you that will help steer you straight when you get off course. LEWIS: "This repentence, this willing submission to humiliation and kind of death, isn't something God demands of you before he'll take you back... it's simply a description of what going back to him is like." The unrighteous must die (spiritually) and be reborn to go back to God. To simply ask for forgiveness without going back and starting over is getting there without actually going there, it's impossible.

Through belief, baptism and communion we begin the process of reconciliation with God. Belief is obvious, but what about baptism and communion? Baptism is the process in which the Holy Spirit enters into you, a part of Christ. You are accepting the Christ-life. (That's why even as a Catholic I believe in adult baptism or reaffirming baptism at every Christening of a baby.) Communion, Mass, the Lord's Supper reflects our phyical being - we are not simply spiritual creatures, we are made of matter - and our physical selves need Christ's nourishment as well to protect the Christ-life inside us.

In Conclusion

Being what I like to call a born again Catholic I say this: while I consider myself Catholic I am a Christian first and foremost. I know this flies in the face of "The Church" teachings but I can and will live without the Catholic Church if I have to, but I will not live without Christ. There are many wonderful things about the Church and it's catechism but the Roman Catholic Church is a human institution and therefore is infected with Satan. There is evil in the Catholic and all other denominations and faiths (uh hem Islam) so my loyalties are between me and Jesus.

I think C.S. Lewis would also agree with that as he noted that the various theories of exactly how Christ died and rose from the dead are secondary to the fact that Christ died for our sins, paid our debt in advance. We don't necessarily need to understand something perfectly to know it is good.


Saturday, September 09, 2006

9/11 Conspiracy Theories Deflate (a bit)

Last week the Arab network Al- Jezeera aired a pre-9/11 tape of Osama bin Laden and a pair of the 9/11 hijackers apparently engaged in final planning stage of the attack on America. This I would hope will take some of the air out of the 9/11 conspiracy nonsense I wrote about here. It will not, of course put it to rest forever, nothing ever will.

The moonbats howling over this will simply slide into their backup plan that 1.) the Bush administration knew about the plan and did nothing to stop it 2.) Osama bin Laden and al Qaeda are constructs of the US government and helped plan it all along. I am trying to see the benefit bin Laden gets out of it??? Unless you go so far as to believe he has been an agent of the US since the Soviet/Afghan days and draws money from the international war/oil machine, a machine that is, of course, dominated by the US. Possibly he likes living in a cave and being chased around by army rangers.

I had a hard time finding any major news outlets that kept the report of this new tape available on their websites. None of the alphabet networks in America archived the link to this story which died in about two days. Not surprizing in that anything that would appear to help George W. Bush must be buried. I found snippets of this story at Reuters, Yahoo News, and TaipeiTimes . Here on this Taos, NM site I found an article that feels remarkably like my earlier post on this subject. The writer, Eric Mack like myself was impressed with the effort and quality of the investigative work that went into the DVD, but like me can't get past the sheer magnitude of such a conspiracy:

MACK: Speaking of those pesky hijackers, where are they now? Avery claims that almost half of them are in fact still alive and well and piloting commercial planes halfway around the world.

This is where things begin to fall apart for the theory and the film’s credibility in my mind, because if this is the case, it is certainly a veritable smoking gun. However, Avery presents absolutely nothing to substantiate the claim or even a terse explanation of how he came across the information. And if Avery is able to locate living hijackers, what then is his answer for the hundreds of people whose families are quite convinced they died aboard hijacked flights that were actually a military dummy plane or a cruise missile according to the film? If no jetliner crashed into the Pentagon, where are the passengers that were allegedly on that flight? That’s an awfully large number of co-conspirators.

Avery does present a wealth of important and overlooked reporting from that day. The evidence of some sort of cover-up is undeniable – something that can be expected from an administration possibly seeking to hide some of the more embarrassing aspects of the country’s worst catastrophe –

There is no doubt that the government at the urging of the Bush Administration sought to obscure damning details of the negligence of our national security aparatus out of fear what an already hostile media would do with it. But to think that rises to the level of planning and carrying out such an obscenity is patently delusional.

Needless to say the conspiracy theories will never die but each time something like this tape comes out (if it is responsibly reported) it will help put a nail in the coffin of this nonsense.


Sunday, September 03, 2006

So, How's that Working Out for You?

There is being right and there is being bullheaded. When you put these two things together watch out! Ask any parent ushering an unruly child through this life to name the ingredients for TNT. One part tantrum and one part "if you know what's good for you!" Somethimes you just have to do what works and suspend the righteousness of your point. Concede to lead.

Which one of us Earthly parents has not used bribery to get a child to do what we "want" them to do? After standing on our high horse lecturing someone who can't possibly hear the wisdom and brilliance of our every utterance we eventually sucumb to the tactics of the old time Chicago Ward boss. It lends credence to the old phrase - you can catch more flies with honey than with vinegar. Standing there with your arms folded holding to your point in firmly because you are absolutely right (and you are) while your little world crumbles around you doesn't win you friends or influence. A friend of mine sympathizes with me under these circumstances and says "no, listen, you are absolutley right, so, how's that working out for 'ya?"

I am starting to think that our - the United States - ongoing involvement in Iraq is much like that of a parent of an unruly child. That child's name is Democracy, and Democracy is throwing a tantrum. We are standing with our arms folded insisting that young Democracy simply behave and stop acting up. Democracy's peers do not understand her parents and all this freedom stuff. No one in the neighborhood has parents like that, and the other parents don't like Democracy's parents one bit.

What are we to do? The President insists that we are not leaving until Democracy is a stable well adjusted child. Well, we have all seen what becomes of the kid with overbearing parents... Honestly, I think it's time we step back and allow little Democracy to flounder and flail a bit. Let her work out some of the details herself. We can keep an eye out and protect her from the neighborhood bullies - like any good parent would.

I am not calling for the US to leave Iraq to the insurgents and terrorists what I am saying is maybe we should quietly fall back to our bases. I base this notion on an observation made by author and adventurer Rory Stewart. He noted that the Italians, who were in charge of security of a smallish area in Iraq, rarely left their base to do any sort of patrols. This was not due to any brilliant strategy or forethought, but rather it was more conducive to staying alive than the American style of securing an area. Oddly enough the area under the Italian purvue was far more stable and well governed than nearby provinces under American or British authority.

Stewart also noted that immediately after the elections, which were a rousing success, he witnessed what no doubt happened all over Iraq. At the first session of the newly elected regional councils the local cleric/warlord walked in and ousted the democratic idealist and took over the town. No one stood up and insisted in honoring the result of the elections out of fear and an adherence tradition. A tradition that gives power to the biggest bully... OK it's something like our democracy, without the glad handing, smiles and the lies (our bullies are the ones with the biggest wad of cash)!

What Stewart is essentially saying is that we (the West) know nothing of this culture and we ought to step back without insisting that the Iraqi's do exactly what we want and let them "discover" democracy for themselves. Stewart, by the way, is apolitical and is not anti-American/anti-West. He was in fact in favor of taking Saddam Hussein out. And like the Americans he was unprepared for the reality of the devastation of Iraq that Saddam had wrought. Iraq, as we have found out, was a hollowed out shell. Despite all the set backs and the reality of the insurgency and the presence of al Qaeda Iraq need not succumb to civil war. There is a strong sense of nationalism that the US can exploit if we fade back and allow it to flourish. Even though the shiite population has strong ties to the shiite's in Iran there is no love for the Iranian regime in Iraq.

There is a phrase we use to diffuse problems with our children that works as sort of a misdirection when the very presence of a certain something illicits and undesirable reaction - it is "out of sight, out of mind". Maybe it's time for a less visible American presence in Iraq.


Thursday, August 31, 2006

Guaranteed America

Is the USA forever???

Did you ever consider when you were a youngster, for me, admittedly, we're talking a long, long time ago, that America would not go on forever? In all honesty, only recently have I even entertained the notion that America as we know (knew) it would not survive. The evidence of our demise as the "fifty, nifty United States" is piling up all around us.

Countries come and go all the time. Just look at a globe in made in the 1960's and note how many countries do not exist anymore a mere 40 years later. As a young man in the 80's you could not have convinced me that by 1992 the Soviet Union would not exist. Grab the 1960's globe again and look at Africa. Half the nations in the Congo region sport new names if not new borders. As well, the entire region we knew as being behind the Iron Curtain has been broken up into countless new nation states. Map making seems to be a good business to get into, no?

But what about America? Can it really happen here?

America has many enemies. The obvious ones like Islamic facists and France come to mind immediately. There are enemies within our borders even more potent than insane mullahs and envious frogs with an inferiority complex. The radical socialist left is the most dangerous enemy this nation has ever faced. Sure the radical leftist will counter claim that the unrestrained capitalist poses the greatest threat the world has ever seen. This is poppycock, of course, since market based systems are the natural state of things - evidenced by the lucrative black markets in those economically unfree states. The leftist is all about power and control and oddly enough will use the very capitalistic forces he derides as evil to further his desire to reign mighty over the ignorant masses.

Currently the number one enemy of the United States of America is George Soros. He has publically claimed that America is the source of all that is wrong in this world. He is hailed by the left as a great man of great causes. But Soros is a destroyer. His wealth and power came from destructive currency speculation and his philanthropic activity has been focused on entities that tear down the good with the bad.

In her scathing article called "George Soros, Postmodern Villain" Srdja Trifkovic cites a litany of Soros' causes...

he supports increased government spending and tax increases, drug legalization, euthanasia, open borders and immigration, immigrant entitlements, feminism, free abortion on demand, affirmative action, and "gay" rights. He opposes the death penalty in any circumstance... Soros remains primarily committed to destroying the remaining bastions of the family, sovereign nationhood, and Christian Faith...

The fact that Soros opposed the Soviet Union and the pre-Solidarity government in Poland doesn't a hero make. Remember, Soros is a destroyer and if one looks closely at what his foundations have done in former Soviet block nations as Srdja Trifkovic has -

Soros' main goal is clear and frankly stated: "to improve the quality of abortion services." Accordingly, his Public Health Program has supported the introduction of medical abortion in Albania, Latvia, Lithuania, and Slovakia and the introduction of manual vacuum aspiration (MVA) abortion in Macedonia, Moldova, and Russia... Why is Soros so interested in promoting more abortions in Eastern Europe? Overpopulation cannot be the reason: The region is experiencing a colossal demographic collapse and has some of the lowest fertility rates in the world. Unavailability of abortion cannot be the answer either: According to a recent U.N. report, five European countries had more abortions than live births in 2000-the Russian Federation, Bulgaria, Belarus, Rumania, and Ukraine. Overall, the report said, abortion rates are "substantially higher in central and eastern Europe and the CIS countries than in western Europe and North America." The only logical answer is that Soros wants as few Russians and others born into this world as possible.

Soros has now set his sites on dominating American politics via the hostile take over of the Democratic Party. In a facinating interview's Jamie Glasnov speaks with Richard Poe author of "The Shadow Party" about George Soros' grand designs...

POE: The Shadow Party derives its power from its ability to raise huge sums of money. By controlling the Democrat pursestrings, the Shadow Party can make or break any Democrat candidate by deciding whether or not to fund him... During the 2004 election cycle, the Shadow Party raised more than $300 million for Democrat candidates, prompting one of its operatives, MoveOn PAC director Eli Pariser, to declare, “Now it’s our party. We bought it, we own it…”

Soros is the moving force behind as well as countless amorphous liberal organizations. Oddly enough he can count on one Republican Senator to further his quest for total control of the Democratic Party - John McCain. It was the legislation known as McCain-Fiengold that empowered groups like while destroying traditional funding mechanisms the DNC counted on...

POE: the McCain-Feingold Act was a Trojan Horse. It made the Shadow Party possible. Among other things, it forced the Democratic Party into a financial crisis, enabling Soros to swoop in and buy up the Party at a bargain-basement price... Democrats have traditionally relied on large, soft-money donations from unions, while Republicans relied more on small, “hard-money” donations from mom-and-pop donors. When McCain-Feingold outlawed soft-money donations to the parties, Republicans were not unduly hampered, but Democrats flew into a panic. They faced the real possibility of bankruptcy.... Enter George Soros. After forcing the Democrats into a fiscal crisis, he then offered to rescue them. He set up a network of non-profit, “issue-advocacy” groups – the Shadow Party.

When he is firmly in control and the radicals regain political power he will begin to chip away at our constitution. Religious freedom and gun ownership will be the first to go.

POE: He appears to have a special animus against the Bill of Rights. Take freedom of worship, for instance. Soros seems to favor some sort of religious apartheid, with fundamentalist Christians banished to a socio-political Bantustan. For example, in a New Yorker interview of October 18, 2004, he said of President Bush, “The separation of church and state, the bedrock of our democracy, is clearly undermined by having a born-again President.” ...Then there’s the Second Amendment. Soros has provided massive funding to anti-gun groups and anti-gun litigators. The unprecedented assault on gun rights during the 1990s was largely bankrolled by Soros.

The scary part is the average American knows next to nothing about him and his phenomenal influence. This is my warning to those who think the two parties are the same. It makes one wonder about John McCain's allegiances since he has openly participated in several Soros backed events. Even Hillary Clinton has kept her public distance from Soros despite the fact they are kindred socialist spirits.


Soros is only one front in the internal war against America. Another front is a well known hot potato: The Mexican invasion.

It is not entirely inconceivable that the southwestern states secede to Mexico one day (or create it's own sovereign nation). In his book "Mexifornia" Victor Davis Hanson infers that he does not think Mexicans are by and large bad for America but the circumstances of their arrival and experiences do not allow for them to become fully "American". Hanson is not without sympathy for the invading Mexicans whose own inept country can't provide for them. He advocates patrolling the border effectively and reducing illegal immigration, restricting immigration and stifling Mexican chauvinism in the U.S. We cannot allow current mushy policies to make the southwest look like an unreformed Mexico.

The current administration in Washington has willfully ignored (some say abetted) the problem until it showed up on the political radar last year. The President's relationship with Vincente Fox has raised more than a few eyebrows, particularly after Fox declared:

as cited by Patrick Buchanan
FOX: "Our long-range objective is to establish with the United States ... an ensemble of connections and institutions similar to those created by the European Union, with the goal of attending to future themes as important as ... the freedom of movement of capital, goods, services and persons. The new framework we wish to construct is inspired in the example of the European Union."

Critical element of the Fox post-NAFTA agenda: absolute freedom of movement for persons between Mexico and the United States -- a merger of the nations. Foreign Secretary Luis Ernesto Debrez put it succinctly in April 2005. What Mexico is about is "complete integration" of the two nations.

We have only ourselves to blame for this mess. While we can't control Islamic Facists (or France, for that matter) we can and must defend our borders and demand that immigrants follow our laws.

The real question for America is: do we care enough for our remarkable country to save it. Has the media, academia, popular culture and Hollywood poisoned our collective psyche so completely that we are rotting from the inside out? The next question is: can the world afford another Europe? Because that's where we're headed.