Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Congratulations Canada and Bush

Public Radio is often the source of news that they really don’t even realize is news. For years we have been hearing how backward and conservative the US is for not recognizing gay marriage. Republicans want to “turn back the clock” to the bad old days before liberals around the world made marriage for gays a standard right.

Driving to work this AM I hear that Canada! That bastion of socialism and amorality north of the border has JUST voted to officially recognize gay marriage as a nation. Today! Not in the 19th century, but TODAY, 6-29-2005! What is more, this makes them the THIRD (3rd) nation on the planet to recognize this important union. The other two are the Netherlands and Belgium. Norway, Sweden, Denmark, France, Germany? They are all as “backward” and “19th Century” as the poor old stodgy USA? Even if every other country on the planet had recognized marriage between gays, bi-sexuals, random mammals, and space aliens, it would really make no difference in the morality of the issue, but the media has once again managed to hoodwink even those of us that don’t generally believe in it to believing that the US was really “behind the times”.

Next topic, the economy. It is always amazing how negative the media can be on the economy with a Republican in the White House. The Economy grew at 3.8% for the first quarter of this year, matching the rate for the final quarter of ’04. Remember Kerry and most of the media talking about how the economy is “abysmal”, and “Bush is lying about the economy”? Apparently he was lying in exactly the same way he was lying that elections would be held in Iraq in January 2005. What is more, the Growth now has exceeded 3 percent for eight straight quarters, the longest stretch in almost two decades. Hmm, almost two decades … that would put it back in the times of ??? wait, RONALD REAGAN.

Now there is an odd thought, I could swear there was another president in between there? Some guy that had trouble keeping his mind on work at the office? Oh yea, President Bubba, he was supposed to have a GREAT economy … but strangely the growth rate over a lot of his presidency was quite anemic. He DID preside over a marvelous stock market bubble and super things like Enron, but somehow he was never able to achieve 8 straight quarters of over 3% growth. Somehow, I would expect that this story will not be one of the “biggies” that the media chooses to focus on.

A lot of understanding the news today in America seems to rely on getting “the rest of the story”.

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Lost Property, Kelo

Today’s Supreme Court decision in “Kelo vs The City of New London” isn’t really getting a lot of media play, but is a giant step for the left down the road of removal of property rights. The decision allows government to use the power of “Eminent Domain” to take property from private individuals and groups for “public good”. “Public good” is not now limited to roads, bridges, or civic buildings, but the property taken can be given to another individual for development simply because the government deems the new use to be for “greater good”. Higher property tax revenue was one of the “greater goods” listed.

While this ruling is horribly serious, and this site is serious as well, there is a little humor involved. has a pointer to a press release where guy named Logan Clements is moving to petition the town of Weare NH to allow him to build a hotel on the current site of Judge Souter’s home. The Hotel would have more tax revenue, and bring people into the community as tourists, which would be better for the community than the Judge’s home. Identical justification to that the city of New London used in it’s successful argument that the homes of Susette Kelo and others should be taken to make way for a Hotel and Office complex. The Hotel would be known as the “Lost Liberty Hotel”, and would contain the “Just Desserts” dining room. Rather than a Bible in each room, there would be a copy of Ayn Rand’s “Atlas Shrugged”. Clements says it is “no hoax”, they really want to build a hotel.

The justices that voted for this one were Souter, Ginsberg, Stevens, Breyer, and Kennedy. Kennedy was the “swing vote”. The fact that the left of the court went for this one shows that removal of property rights remains a part of their agenda. “Unlimited Government” is their consistent cry, and this decision provides them a huge lever. In many cases it will be the poor that suffer because tracts of housing where they live can be gobbled up by developers that will provide new uses that will be more lucrative for the city. One of the constant lies of the left about “caring for the poor” is exposed by this ruling. The left “cares” in the fact that they want to maintain a significant, and if possible, increasing number of poor, to vote democrat. Their real allegiance is however to unlimited government. If some poor folks are damaged and some rich folks benefited on the way to the removal of property rights and ever greater government control, then they accept that as part of the bargain.

Kelo allows local governments to take private property for what they deem to be “better use”. The potentials for abuse on MANY fronts are many, but here are two from opposite sides of the spectrum. There is a little town to the south here that has an adult book, movie, etc store that snuck in under zoning restrictions. What stops the local village from going in and taking the property and getting a developer to put a gas station or truckstop there? Nothing now. However, while I might applaud that action, what about a church (such as the one that I attend) that sits on prime real estate next to a park with great views and close to downtown? The church provides zero taxes to the community, a set of luxury condos could be a nice tax base. A whole other set of folks would applaud that action. Our founding fathers abhorred government having that kind of power because it encourages abuse. It took the 5th amendment for there to be eminent domain at all, now we have the power released for whatever whim local governments may have.

The leftward legislative action of the court continues unabated, and sadly, Souter a Bush Sr appointee is consistently on the left. O’Connor and Kennedy regularly provide the swing votes. The media constantly calls THIS a “conservative court”, but rulings like Kelo show that to simply be a lie. Remember 2000? All the claims that O’Connor “elected Bush because she was going to retire”? Bush was going to be able to “stack the court” in even his first term? No vacancies, O’Connor is still there. Even if a very conservative judge is able to be confirmed and replace Rehnquist, we are no better off than today. It will take at least one, and likely two appointments beyond Rehnquist to simply stem the tide of new legislation from the bench, let alone have any sort of a chance to overturn some of this trash.

Monday, June 27, 2005

Miles Gone By

Not even slow savoring could prevent getting to the end of “Miles Gone By” by William F Buckley. Very hard to imagine a life more blessed than his, and hard to picture someone making better use of that blessing than WFB. Intelligence, faith, fearlessness, great family, wealth, super education, exciting and rewarding work, great experiences in life, and the list just goes on and on.

Born to privilege, his youth was spent in Mexico, Paris, England, and much at a mansion in Connecticut called “Great Elm”. By virtue of time spent in his youth, he always spoke fluent Spanish and French as well as English, with a good deal of Latin and German thrown in from his education. Lots of horseback riding, including being in events at Rhinebeck, NY, just north of Hyde Park, where the box alongside his fathers, was that of FDR. Much sailing as a young man, a passion that he never gave up.

He did prep school at St Johns, Beaumont, in Windsor England … the very same Windsor where the name “Windsor Castle” comes from. His father took him to the airport to watch the plane of Neville Chamberlain land when he returned from negotiations with Hitler to announce “peace in our time”.
He was in the military service stateside towards the end of the War, and then on to Yale, graduating in 1950, as the class orator, I suspect with some level of honor.

 He wasn’t all business, he learned to fly in college and had a number of misadventures in airplanes, including deciding after only a couple of flights with the instructor that he would let a friend that had been a pilot in the war fly himself to Logan airport in Boston, and WFB would just fly the plane back, his first solo! The trip in was uneventful, but Buckley didn’t know how to use the radio, so took off without telling the tower, had navigational difficulties, and night was falling too fast, so he luckily found an airport, made his first solo landing and hitchhiked back to Yale. The kind of foolish and fearless personality that would perform a stunt like that often ends up dead, but sometimes they end up famous.

His first book at age 26 was “God and Man At Yale”, and it caused a huge stir. It was the first book to explicitly make that charge that higher education in the US had become anti-Christian, anti-Capitalist, and in many cases Anti-American. Leading edge thought in those days. The formulation; “I believe that the duel between Christianity and Atheism is the most important in the world. I further believe that the struggle between individualism and collectivism is the same struggle produced on another level.” is a brilliant summary of a lot of what has happened in America and the world since the 50’s.

His list of friends, associates, acquaintances is utterly amazing. Ronald Reagan, Henry Kissinger, Whittaker Chambers, Roger Moore, John Kenneth Galbraith, Milton Friedman (nice pair of economists there), Claire Booth Luce, Alstair Cooke, Princess Grace, Vladimir Horowitz, Tom Wolfe, Barry Goldwater, Walter Cronkite, and on and on.

More than any other conservative of the era 1960-1980+, he was THE intellectual powerhouse of the movement, National Review was the publication of record, and “Firing Line” was the ONLY place where one could learn that there were at least one other side to most things presented in the media on TV. Liberals often loved to hate him, but they could not ignore the force of his intellect. He points out in one place, relative to his being in debates when running for Mayor of NYC; “It was widely speculated that I had an advantage, having in pursuit of unpopular ideas been frequently been required to face the opposition. I suspect-and admission against personal interest-that those points I have scored are primarily on account of their own cogency, rather than on account of any personal adeptness at formulating them.”

While he isn’t known as a modest man, in this case he is being a bit too modest, but he has a point as well. Since liberalism remains the dominate thinking in the mass media, not very many liberals have a solid understanding of how to defend their points. Their ideas are presented as the "universal"  ideas, why do they need to be defended? What WFB understood, and was able to articulate well is that the conservative position attempts very strongly to be CONSISTENT. Consistency means that there is a lot less to learn. 

Liberals need to recall that an unborn child has no right to any sort of life, but a Snail Darter in a stream somewhere has nearly unlimited rights to stop all manner of development. Kosovo is a great place to go to war without UN backing, Iraq, a few miles down the road is a TERRIBLE place to go to war without UN backing … oh, and by the way, genocide is an excellent justification in Kosovo, but it is a “who cares” in Iraq. It could go on for pages, but the point is when most of your positions are made up out of feelings, the phase of the moon, and political considerations on a given day, keeping it all straight can get very difficult. The best strategy is to curl your lip and look like you are going to cry like Bill Clinton. 

From the right though, one can lean back in their chair and pounce on the liberals like the intellectual tiger that was Buckley, and is not likely to be soon duplicated.

While he had a huge positive impact on history, the point that strikes me the most from the book is the intellect, the wit, the faith, and the pure joy of his life. His short essay on a pilgrimage to Lourdes is alone worth the price of admission. His experiences at sea, his love of sailing, boats, navigation, skiing, wines, racing at sea, and his trip to the Titanic aboard the Nautile are all captivating and so well written. He recounts how he had been told that; “Offshore yacht racing is like standing in an ice cold shower tearing up thousand dollar bills”.

I write this on a day when one of the Walton heirs, number seven richest in the world, died in an ultra light aircraft near Jackson Wyoming. Many of the wealthy realize that challenge, risk, and loss of physical comfort are an unavoidable part of living a worthwhile life. You can’t really buy the skill to compete in an off shore yacht race, and you certainly can’t buy the weather.

I’m very glad I bought a high quality hardcover of this one. I hope to pull it down off the shelves and give it a read once every decade or so as long as I’m around!

Saturday, June 25, 2005

The End of Faith, Sam Harris

Since the last post reminded me of the book, I dug it out for some comment. For those that are interested, the author has a Web Page.
My title for the book would be “the end of tolerance”, because that is really what it is a about. Some quotes:
Words like “God” and “Allah” must go the way of “Apollo” and “Baal” or they will unmake our world.” (The assertion being that it is too dangerous to have religion and WMD on the planet at the same time … although apparently Communism and Nazism were relatively harmless by comparison -- no need to wipe those out).
One of the central themes of this book, however, is that religious moderates are themselves the bearers of a terrible dogma; they imagine that the path to peace will be paved once each of us has learned the right to respect the unjustified beliefs of others. I hope to show that the very idea of religious tolerance – born of the notion that every human being should be free to believe whatever he wants about God – is one of the principle forces driving us towards the abyss.
While religious people are not generally mad, their core beliefs absolutely are.
The danger of religious faith is that it allows otherwise normal human beings to reap the fruits of madness and consider them holy.
Religious unreason should acquire an even greater stigma in our discourse, given that it remains among the principle causes of armed conflict in our world.
I could go on, and on, and … well, you get the picture. Let’s just say that he doesn’t like religion, and thinks his ideas are a lot better. He doesn’t like to get very direct about his “final solution”, although one doesn’t have to read between his lines very much to realize that he sees religious faith as a “clear an present danger”. One could easily argue that killing the faithful would be justified for those enlightened by the FACTS given the severity of their “madness”, but of course he doesn’t want to say that directly. 

He does say; “People who harbor strong convictions without evidence belong at the margins of our societies, not in the halls of power.” He makes it clear that we need to learn to discriminate against those of faith. That thought is of course not particularly new. It goes back to throwing Christians to the lions in Rome, gassing Jews in Germany, or sending the faithful to the Gulag or worse in the joyous and completely secular paradise of the USSR.

The man has a PHD from Stanford that he is pretty proud of, yet he seems to have missed some of the more basic aspects of history. Godlessness has certainly been tried before, very frequently in fact. Strangely, when “freed” from the “shackles” of faith, men seem to beat a rather rapid path to mass killing of those that they don’t enjoy for some reason or another. Religious faith, color of skin, potential to be a threat, using more resources than thought to be returned by their “value”, questioning the superiority of those in power, or quite commonly just for that little “thrill” that those who have thrown off all concerns of potential future judgment by some “higher power” seem to find "enticing'. 

After all, once one starts down the path of breaking as many of those backward mythological commandments as they can, that admonition to “not kill” always seems to hit the Saddam, Pol Pot, Hitler and Stalin types as being way too restrictive. For some reason, once that little line has been crossed, it seems a thirst that is very hard to slake even when the numbers of victims rise into the millions. 

I’m sure that a PHD from Stanford has a perfect explanation as to why this really isn’t a concern, or maybe even some idea of “what unusual thing happened to those fine atheist men”, but it is enough to make us poor foolish Christian types wonder if there might not be such a thing as “evil”, or even a “force of evil” out there in the world . Somehow he fails to touch on such an explanation in the book.

Other than not tolerating religious thought, his other key message (not always stated directly) is that all religion is equal, and pretty much equally bad. For some reason, there is no reason to differentiate between religions and consider if some have more merit than others. It is a bit strange really since he is of the opinion that religion is just a “made up idea” … which of course so is everything else in his book, including the words, punctuation, and all the ideas that he presents as “better”. If there is no God, than EVERTHING that is the stuff of thought is "made up" ... language, love, beauty, compassion -- pure imagination. 

If some ideas turn out to be “religion” might that make all ideas just too dangerous to mess around with? Couldn’t virtually any old idea suddenly become “dangerous”? What if some folks thought there was a spacecraft behind a comet and committed suicide to get a ride? (it happened, Heaven’s gate cult).

 How about if some folks decided that we were created by space aliens? (see Raelians, they were in the news for trying to clone humans a couple years ago). Maybe these groups are too small. How about a whole country that worships their leader as God? They meet that rationality of worshiping something that exists, so we should focus on the danger of religion, and not on such rational people? As quoted from a North Korean site:
Some people worship God or money or great men or heroes. But our worship of great Marshal Kim Jong Il is quite different from that of religion, material or any individual. It is an absolute reverence and worship for the savior of the fate of the nation and humankind and the only extraordinary leader.

One can easily see how we should blanch in fear at the thought of Lutheran ladies in Lake Woebegon attending Sunday services, but be exceedingly thankful that the rational folks in N Korea have not only seek to acquire nuclear weapons, but have managed to leave the myths of the past behind and worship their leader, Kim Jong Il. Nobody can possibly be worried about THAT, right? Better hunt down the Church Basement Ladies before they do something dangerous. 

Harris falls into the same pit as Druyan. He has immense faith in his ideas and his religion of atheism. Ultimate and eternal faith in fact. He fails to see that the problem is with man, not with God, nor even ideas about God. There are many ideas manifestly created by man that are dangerous in the extreme, and for which millions have died for. Harris is unconcerned about these. 

From reading the book, it is clear that he is quite concerned about the idea that religion might set limits on human pleasure. One such quote: “Anyone who believes that God is watching us from beyond the stars will feel that punishing peaceful men and women for their private pleasure is perfectly reasonable.”

While the generalization is of course absurd, it shows that he finds religion to be restrictive, and potentially, if such people are in charge of a country, such restrictions could be imposed on him. If there is no God, then there is no reason that Sam or Ann could not be “god”. In the liberal utopia each person is god, but for some reason there always seems to be a disagreement over which one is the “top god”, and then the killing begins.

Thursday, June 23, 2005

Druyan, The Evils of Religion

I was forwarded a link to an article by Ann Druyan, Karl Sagan’s second wife, on the evils of religion. It reminded me of a book that I read before Christmas; “The End of Faith”, by Sam Harris. A few quotes from Ann;

“I think we still have an acute case of post-Copernican-stress syndrome. We have not resolved the trauma of losing our infantile sense of centrality in the universe. And so as a society we lie to our children. We tell them a palliative story, almost to ensure that they will be infantile for all of their lives. Why? Is the notion that we die so unacceptable? Is the notion that we are tiny and the universe is vast too much of a blow to our shaky self-esteem?”
“The Bible says that the Earth is flat. The Bible says that we were created separately from the rest of life. If you look at it honestly, you have to give up these basic ideas, you have to admit that the Bible is not infallible, it's not the gospel truth of the creator of the universe. So what did we do? We made a corrupt treaty that resulted in a troubled peace: We built a wall inside ourselves. It made us sick. In our souls we cherished a myth that was rootless in nature. What we actually knew of nature we compartmentalized into a place that could not touch our souls. The churches agreed to stop torturing and murdering scientists. The scientists pretended that knowledge of the universe has no spiritual implications.”
“What I find disappointing about most religious beliefs is that they are a kind of statement of contempt for nature and reality. It's absurdly hubristic. It holds the myths of a few thousand years above nature's many billion-yeared journey. It says reality is inferior and less satisfying than the stories we make up.”
I won’t quote from Harris at this point, only point out that he is generally more militant. So what does an “infantile Christian” have to say about this?

First of all Gödel's first incompleteness theorem says that:

For any formal theory in which basic arithmetical facts are provable, it's possible to construct an arithmetical statement which, if the theory is consistent, is true but not provable or refutable in the theory

In other words, “no complete formal theory of the universe from within the universe”. We are in a box, a box which seems to us to be a very big box, but there will never be any formal system (science) that completely describes the box, let alone describes the meaning of the box.

Second, Ann (and Harris) seem to want to have “souls”. They somehow “believe there is more”, they are just certain that they know what that “more” ISN’T. It ISN’T “God” in any of the senses of any of the existing Religions (well maybe Buddhism for Harris), but it clearly isn’t the Christian / Biblical description. They may claim to not have faith, but they actually have quite a lot of faith:

  1. They have a strong faith that there isn’t an afterlife that would have a penalty for unbelief. Pascal’s wager essentially says that if you want to “withhold judgment”, what you really need to do is all you can to be a believer. If you are wrong, you potentially forgo some questionable earthy pleasures of sin, but if right, you obtain eternal bliss. If you take the other choice, one had better be VERY sure (which you can’t be, scientifically), because failure to believe will earn eternal punishment.
  2. They have faith that what they think they observe is what they are actually observing. Movies like The Matrix or items from science fiction like the holodeck on Star Trek give clues that reality may or may not be what we think it is. Quantum mechanics tells us that “we can’t know what it is”. Is it energy (wave) or matter (particle) … apparently “both”, but potentially neither. A lot of the smugness of science comes from its success at making predictions of how things operate in “human scale”. At very small sizes, and very high speeds, the smugness becomes “uncertainty”. There is a lot of difference between being happy with the information science provides where it can provide, and making the jump to it being “ultimate knowledge”.
  3. They have faith that in their intellect and experience as superior to thousands of years of Judaic-Christian and other religious teaching, and their individual reality is superior to the experience of billions. They see their experience and knowledge as valid and one supposes “adult”, while the experience and knowledge of billions is “infantile”. It is the billions over thousands of years who are guilty of “hubris”? Could there be any emotion involved in that sort of judgement? 
Humans can live without faith about as well as they live without oxygen. We may not know a lot, but we ought to be aware that we are very limited finite beings living in either an infinite, or effectively infinite from our perspective, universe. The “bridge” is faith … in our senses, in our minds, in the physics we think we see, and basically in “order”.

Science believers and religious believers have that core belief in “order” in common. If there is no order in the universe then there are no principals for science to discover. A core matter of faith is where that order came from. The complete materialist scientists like Druyan choose to believe that order was created by random accident, people with religious beliefs believe that order was created by purposeful intelligence (God).

Either position is in the final analysis a “leap of faith”, but much as Ann talks about what religious people “have to admit”, she may not quite be facing what she would “have to admit”. If all that we see springs from randomness. 

Then what would a “value”, or “right and wrong” be? Nothing but a “myth”, or a “story we make up”. The only “moral principle” in that universe is the fittest survive, or might makes right. We have the freedom to pick which universe we live in, but don’t expect those that believe in a universe with no morals to advertise what the wages of picking their approach really are.

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

The Stall

Republicans tend to forget the power of the media as they push through an election year. Nearly all of them have a lot of life work to do with work, family, church, friends, etc, and one of the big reasons that they are Republicans is that they believe in less Government anyway, so if not a lot gets done they are often less than concerned.

Democrats and the media of course have a different view. The election in 2004 was a horrible disaster for them, so they needed to do all they could to make sure that what the voters voted for never came to pass, thus “The Stall”. As I watch them hold up yet another vote on an Ambassador to some irrelevant organization in based in NYC because he might have been “intimidating”, or he “hung up on a couple of people”, while the media reports along as if such things were “normal” the level of bias in reporting is breathtaking. It would be great to go back to ’93-’94 and do some Lexus-Nexus searches on “obstruction”. It is a word that has fallen off the map.

Here in MN we have a Democrat Senate that locked things up enough last year so no bonding bill or other legislative action happened at all. Faced with a Republican Governor and House, they just did nothing. For the wackos (like me) that listen to MPR, we got to hear Dean Johnson, Speaker in the Senate, declare “We aren’t running for anything this year”. As one might expect, the media was silent on the idea of “obstruction” as they were on some financial shenanigans that allowed the Dems to spend a hunk of money on local races. Joy of joys, they were rewarded with a bump of 13 seats in the House, only 1 from a majority.

Having tasted the success of obstruction, they waited until the end of the regular session this year to propose a 3% tax on the highest earners in the state which would make MN the undisputed champ of the highest income taxes for those people. Apparently, they are not aware that this is a free country and high income people can actually MOVE, but I digress. The Governor ran on a “no new taxes pledge”, which is of course something that the Democrats and the media see no reason should be kept. The idea that politicians would follow through on campaign promises would pretty much be the end of any Democrats being elected, so must be stopped. A special session resulted.

The Governor actually went out on a limb and broke his promise with a .75 new tax proposal on cigarettes. Unfortunately he didn’t just call it a “tax” but rather obfuscated about it being a “fee”, proof that even Republicans are politicians. The Dems however have spurned his offer and are heading full speed to a state shutdown. Interestingly, even the local liberal rag paper is getting a bit of cold feet wondering if playing politics might have a limit, and enough people would see what is being done as a blatant attempt to angle for gains in the next election. NPR and the Star Trib might need to come down here and pound them back into the party line.

If the past is a guide, the Democrat strategies at both the Federal and State levels will be successful, but fortunately the past isn’t ALWAYS a guide. We have the Internet, Fox, and Talk Radio as outlets today. Beyond this, things looked pretty grim for Bush in ’03 with a ton of media beating him up, and for the “general public”, (the public not getting a decent percentage of news from alternate sources), there wasn’t much to listen to but the media echo chamber.

Next year though, there will be an election. Parties will start to spend money to put Ads on TV, start walking door to door, and the “silent majority” of Republicans that are busy at work, home, school, and church will turn at least a bit more of their attention to the political. The Democrats have made it obvious that “little majorities” aren’t going to be enough given the Senate rules, so there needs to be a run at 60 Senators on the Federal level. At the state level, MN should have a “defense of marriage” amendment on the ballot by then, something which 70% of the state will want to get out and vote for, and of that 70% a large majority will lean Republican.

Most Republicans aren’t very much oriented to “anger” at politics, but the Democrats and media are certainly doing their best to “energize the base”. Will it be enough to allow a shot at a 60 vote Senate? It is a high bar, but it is clear that the Democrats have no interest in allowing majority rule.

Sunday, June 19, 2005

Freakonomics, Roe Effect

I’m still enjoying my Buckley Biography, and savoring it a bit. I’ve had the opportunity to hit a bookstore or two lately though, and picked up a book that I really wouldn’t recommend, but found to be a quick little read anyway. “Freakonomics” by Steven Levitt and Steven Dubner. Levitt is considered a bit of a young genius in economics, but what he really does is use the tools of the dismal science (largely statistical) to understand sets of data not normally analyzed using the questions he poses.

One of the interesting quotes to think about from the book is “Morality represents the way that people would want the world to work, whereas economics represents how it actually works. Economics is above all a science of measurement.”. I’m wondering if that isn’t a bit of a fallback position, since it seems that economic prediction has a pretty bad track record. Maybe they are going to settle for just trying to explain historical data.

He argues that one of the key reasons for the drop in crime in the ‘90s was the legalization of abortion. The kinds of kids most likely to grow up to be criminals were aborted, so we had less crime. It is a correlation that is surprising to people on both sides of the abortion issue, but what struck me about his analysis is how it mirrors a political analysis done by WSJ called “The Roe Effect”. Levitt talks of the kinds of babies that were never born because of abortion being likely criminals, the WSJ talks about them being likely Democrats.

Levitt asserts that the worst kinds of mothers … the poor, the addicted, the very young, the single, and the mentally disturbed are very likely to have abortions as long as it is fairly low cost. Legalizing abortion made it much lower cost, and the number of abortions that women in the high risk of crime classes went way up, and the number of live births went way down. Less babies of the wrong kind, means less criminals. While the media rarely puts it this starkly, the sorts of people that are likely to grow up to be criminals, are the same sort that are likely to grow up to be Democrats (providing you can get them out to vote).

The Roe effect asserts that most people that kill their unborn babies tend to be Democrats, and that dead babies never grow up to be Deaniacs, or even Hillary voters. It would seem to stand to reason that more strong supporters of abortion would be more willing to avail themselves of the actual procedure, and it would seem to go without saying that most strong supporters of abortion are Democrats. The assumption is that people who feel that it is wrong to kill the unborn would be more likely to carry the baby to term, have the child, and likely raise it in a home where may be some values beyond “if it feels good do it”, possibly even the concept of Religion, morals, value of life, and other issues that would increase the potential for the child to grow up as an evil Republican.

I’m not quite ready to give either theory as much credence as Levitt or WSJ do respectively, but another data point is another data point. While the left would tend to point to the WSJ as “known crackpots”, they are somewhat less inclined to do the same with Levitt, yet there is this same odd correlation that a dead baby who commits no crimes will clearly also not commit to voting for a Democrat. Democrats have a long history of being able to bring out the dead vote, but potentially they have silenced these voices too early for them to raise their tiny hands from their unmarked trash bin resting places to pull the “D” lever.

Saturday, June 18, 2005

In Defense of Marriage

Blogging has become a bit slow. For one factor, it is summer, for a second, this past week was our 20th wedding anniversary. On that note I will provide my observations on 20 years of actual married bliss. I have some guesses that each marriage is about as unique as a snowflake or a Microsoft OS installation, but I do believe there are some basic principles that can be of huge service.

First and foremost, remember that women are in charge. A trip to any major shopping mall will prove this. If men were in charge, how many jewelry stores, women’s clothing stores of various kinds and shoe stores that are essentially or actually all women’s shoes would you find? Most likely about the same number as you find of stores dedicated to men in malls today. In a world in which men were in charge, the MOA would be a combination of Cabela’s, Bass Pro, Hardware Heaven, and every big box electronics store known to man with help imported from Hooters, peanut shells on the floor, and shopping carts that were raced from store to store in NASCAR fashion. In case you haven’t checked, that isn’t the world that we live in, so get with the current program if you have fallen out of sync. Delusions as to which planet you are on can cause all sorts of problems in a marriage.

Second, you must realize that women want only one thing from men. Heat! The average woman has feet and hand temps that run around 35 degrees on a 90 degree summer day, and if they can’t find a guy with spare body heat they are doomed to sit and shiver. When girls refer to a guy as a “hottie”, they actually mean; “I think his body temp is really high”. They like guys with shirts unbuttoned or no shirt at all because they assume that means that he is trying to cool off. If they can find a way to put a foot or hand in close proximity he will receive immediate 3rd degree frostbite, and they will have a few moments of thermal bliss. When a woman refers to a man as “cold” it means the end of the relationship, since women can put up a with a lot, but if there is no potential for thermal fulfillment, the relationship is at end. 500Mg Niacin before bed could be the miracle drug to save your marriage.

Finally, the best marriage advice that I’ve ever been exposed to was on a T-shirt (huge source of wisdom), it said; “If Mama ain’t happy, Ain’t nobody happy”. I often find men to be quite willing to put up with adversity at work, in sports, and in life in general, and sometimes I think we feel that “everyone needs to put up with adversity”. I don’t really disagree, there will always be adversity, but it is also true that “If Mama IS happy, it goes a long way to everyone being happy”, at least at home. If things are happy at home, maybe the rest of adversity isn’t all that adverse after all.

Sunday, June 12, 2005


GLBT is of course “Gay Lesbian Bi-Sexual, and Transgender”, and as the posters and the e-mail from the corporation inform us, this is “June is GLBT Pride Month”. One of my co-workers quipped; “Gee, I can remember the old days when June was Dairy Month”. There are a lot of special months in the year, Black History Month was February, March was National Woman’s History Month. “WHM” would be “White Heterosexual Males”, can one imagine the outcry if there was a call for such a month?

Such an idea is absurd in America these days. To even suggest it would be instantly labeled “racist, sexist, homophobic”, and no doubt a much longer list of names. To recognize the “contributions” of such men in history is of course a horrible idea since the position of the left elite is that they have NO achievements … at least properly gained ones. All the supposed advancement by the WHMs of history was because the minorities and women had been subjugated and “held back”. There is nothing for the properly educated to “honor” about WHMs, so were they to have “a month”, it would be a month of infamy, a month in which the wrongs, the injustices, the lies, and the hubris of this infernal group could be exposed. The more I think about it, I guess I’m wrong … since an awful lot of WHMs are Republicans, it is actually WHM “month” all year long in the major media.

The second thought that GLBT brings to me is the idea of “loss of freedom”. We of course regularly hear about the evils of “The Patriot Act” in the loss of “our basic freedoms”, and every few weeks we hear of the “chilling effects” of having to be around Christians … “living in a Theocracy” is a common theme if not always stated in those words. In at least our company and from what I understand in nearly all major US corporations, any negative statement about “GLBT Month”, or really anything else to do with that agenda is potential grounds for dismissal. I haven’t been able to even figure out how an “average American” could run afoul of the Patriot Act, nor how anyone in any place of business that I’ve ever seen would get into trouble by not being a Christian.

The “beef” from the left is really that Americans OUGHT to be able to directly support terrorists with dollars, assistance, and meet freely without threat from the government to plan all the terror they want. That is the kind of “speech” that they find is “chilled” by the act. On the “theocracy front”, their issue is largely that society hasn’t progressed as much on “freedom FROM religion” as it has on preventing any speech not in favor of the GLBT agenda. It is still acceptable to have some religious symbols displayed on our persons or in the workplace (cross jewelry, pictures of Christ, Bible verses, etc). If the left gets its way, those symbols and religions speech will be removed from the public and the business sphere so that THEY can be “free”.

Another case of the “looking glass world”. Because of the gigantic power of the “mainline media”, most people see “religion on the rise” in the US, and they see that as “chilling”. They also see “a loss of freedom” … from the anti-terrorist legislation, and to a lesser degree, the “power of the religious right”. They can’t be blamed, that is exactly what they are told from what they read and see on TV.

Meanwhile, the GLBTs are constantly gaining power, and the power they are gaining is coercive to the extent that a challenge to that power can cost people their jobs. How far are we from the point at which people can be fired for being against “Gay Marriage”? My guess is that the ’06 vote may see that barrier being tested. We have seen the Boy Scouts become a pariah organization for not knuckling to the GLBT pressure. My guess is that we are very close to seeing people being sanctioned for attempting to protect marriage.

Why is the country divided? For the same reason that adolescence (and the “terrible twos”) tend to be a challenge for parents. Children are testing the boundaries in those times. The left in this country is no longer in political ascendancy, but they ARE still in control of the media, the universities, and generally the courts. Since they still maintain large levers of power, their agenda of radical social change continues unabated, and they continue to “test the limits” of what society will let them have. Each item gained, will provide an invitation to remove the next barrier.

What will be the next barrier after homosexual “marriage”? I suspect the “GLBT” acronym gives a good clue. Shouldn’t bi-sexuals have the same rights as everyone else? After all, they have no choice in how they are oriented. Ponder for a moment the requirements of “a committed, loving, bi-sexual marriage”. As you will be told when it comes up, it is no threat to your or any other marriage, and to oppose it is bigotry of the worst sort. Always remember, it is Christians and the Patriot Act that are curtailing your freedoms. If you don’t believe me, just read the New York Times.

Monday, June 06, 2005

Friends of the Media

This is one of those times I don’t really have time to Blog, but doing it anyway. Took another short fishing vacation, and now have to pay for it big time at work this week since the work doesn’t seem to do itself while I fish.

I’ve been forced to mostly just listen to what I could pick up from the mainline media on the failure of France and Netherlands to ratify the new EC “Constitution”. From what I hear, it is more a “list of rules” than a “Constitution”, but no matter. It sounds like the far left and the far right joined together on this one and decided to say “no”. The left seems to take that course because there was too much competitiveness and not enough socialism in the document, and the right because some people still want to have a country rather than “A United States of Europe”.

What is of interest to me is how the anti-American bias of the press has been in such flower on this one. They love Chirac, because he stood against the USA in the UN on Iraq. They ALSO seem to love the idea of a “United Europe”, since they see it as a “balance” to evil USA. I suppose loathing for your own country is fairly normal for a liberal, but it always strikes my funny bone. I’ve stood in conference rooms at IBM and listened to some liberal get positively incensed on how “The Republicans are letting Corporate America run wild”. When I ask the question “But isn’t IBM a corporation, and don’t you work for it”?, they look at me as if I was from another star system.

It took me about 35 years to fully realize the liberal principle of “consistency is not an issue”. As a liberal, you can hate corporations and work for one, and you can hate America and call yourself a Patriot. It is the idea of consistency that a liberal finds to be beyond understanding.

Further evidence of this phenomenon is watching a discussion of say Airbus beating out Boeing for a contract. As long as the company is European, it is actually GOOD to see them beat out a big American Corporation and take away jobs. We don’t mind EUROPE doing that, we only mind China or Mexico doing that.

The same goes for Canada. It turns out that Canada is our #1 trading partner from which we import 255 billion dollars of goods. We import 196 billion from China (2004). This means that CANADA is “taking more jobs” than China, yet it is nearly impossible to get a media story on the “evils” of that. No, they LIKE the idea of Canada taking jobs, because Canada is more socialist than the US, and the idea of US $ supporting a more socialist system (even if it costs US jobs) is just fine with them.

It is true that the balance of trade with Canada is better, only a $65 Billion deficit vs a $162 Billion deficit with China, but the trade deficit is not the same issue as the loss of jobs … lefties LOVE to talk about “all the stuff imported from China”, but their lack of concern about “all the stuff imported from Canada”, our #1 partner, is extremely telling

Wednesday, June 01, 2005


As I’ve started on “Miles Gone By”, an Autobiography of William F Buckley JR., it has caused me to reflect on one of the voices that led me out of liberalism. The name takes me back to ’78 and the “Carter years”. Having just graduated from college and started a career at IBM (which at that time was fighting an anti-trust suit from the Government), I got to experience the essence of Democrat leadership. I was too young to have any recollection of JFK, and only the barest of interest during the LBJ years, so Carter and Clinton are pretty much my view of “actual Democrat leaders”, as opposed to some imagined ideal.

 I’m sure there must or at least "ought be" some better “abstract Democrat leaders” somewhere, but potentially the party should consider what impression it has left with the real leaders it has picked. It can be hard to imagine the “good” once one has experienced the "supposed to be good".

The late '70s found us in the throes of the energy crisis with inflation spooling up like a turbine from hell. My salary kept going up, but the taxes kept pace with a vengeance, and of course since I wanted to drive a car and buy a house, the situation was pretty grim. Through it all, “Jimah” let us know that the best years of America were behind us, it was time to let others lead, and we had taken too big a piece of the pie for too long. 

He also put on a sweater, sat in front of the fireplace at the White House and told us to not have Christmas lights, turn down our thermostats, and drive 55. He “miscalculated” on the USSR, he thought they were nice folks, but then they went wild and invaded Afghanistan. He really showed them. He kept us out of the Olympics, and made sure that US farmers didn't get to sell grain to the USSR.  I'm sure they were likely very impressed by his willingness to sacrifice the farmers in his own country to make his points on the evils of conquest of their neighbors.

While the USSR marveled at President Peanut’s resolve, apparently the Iranians were less in thrall. On November 4, 1979, they took 66 US citizens hostage.  If the world had any doubts of how far the US had fallen,  they were erased with “The Jimmy Carter Desert Classic”, the botched attempt to free the US hostages that resulted in the loss of the lives of 8 servicemen and never even got close a rescue. It was the perfect Democrat military operation ... it cost American lives, nothing was accomplished, and no enemy, or even property (other than US Military equipment) was lost.

As I watched things unfold I realized that the USSR had a golden opportunity -- they could have taken Europe, and in my opinion, had they decided to launch a couple of nukes, Jimmuh would have surrendered on bended knee, and the remaining people of N America would be slaves. I like to think I would have had the courage to have been shot as a spy, dissenter, rebel or something by now, but who knows, I might have been corrupted and become a party member. One never knows until they face real events. 

Somewhere during this economic and foreign policy debacle, disco, gays, and the Village People, it occurred to me that there really OUGHT to be some other ideas around. Somehow I stumbled on National Review, then edited by Bill Buckley, and the scales fell from my eyes. A liberal family background, sixteen years of liberal education, and 22 years of a steady liberal media diet made it unbelievable that there was “another side” out there. 

In those times, if one wanted to hear of a conservative viewpoint, NR was about the only source available, and Buckley stood like a colossus for the “view from the right”. The joys of finding some souls out there that were FAR from convinced that the best years of America were behind us was a nearly religious experience. People that KNEW that we could compete successfully with Europe, Japan, and the USSR on all fronts … military, economic, and ideological, and WIN!! In these days of post Reagan and post USSR, such ideas seem so obvious, but in the days of “Ask Amy”, such ideas were radical.
I suppose Bill won’t be around for that many more years, but as a breath of fresh air and a great influence in my thinking, “WFB” stands way up there. (and what a WONDERFUL set of initials! ;-) ) Another very enjoyable book.