Sunday, May 28, 2006

DaVinci Code

We went to church this AM, and the DaVinci code this evening. I had read the book, and this was one of those cases were the book was definitely better. I like Tom Hanks, I think Ron Howard is generally a pretty good director. I'm not a film criitic, I can't say I can really put my finger on what the problem is with movie. My raw guess is that in order to make it as a film the sexual tension and developing relationship between Langdon and Sophie had to be there and be bought into, and that just never happened. There was also the problem of just attempting to follow the book to closely .. they needed to skip something and develop the characters more, but given the intricate way the code fit together, they likely didn't have any time. It also may just be one of those stories that knowing how it came out in the end just spoiled it too badly to hold interest for the length of the movie.

There is one gigantic point of comedy here. Earlier this year we had riots worldwide due to a couple of tired old cartoons in a Danish magazine. The liberal press wrung their hands about how "they respect Muslims" ... indeed they do respect the violence and threats of violence used by the Muslims. Of course, they have no problem reporting on a movie that claims that Christ was "just a man", there is no power in the blood of Christ, and he never rose from the dead. While the movie points to the Catholic church, and Opus Dei as sinister and violent, the lack of bloodletting or even any threats thereof show pretty clearly that Christianity is far different from Islam. Is it possible for people to be so blind that they can't see the difference in MSM treatment of DaVinci Code vs the cartoons? I suppose the blind will always find a way to remain blind.

The movie is fiction, and obviously fiction. Were any of the secret organizations depicted nearly as powerful as Brown makes them out to be, he would be long dead. The Christian faith has little problem in standing up to challenges like Brown's, and has no need to "duck and cover" by phrohibiting believers from seeing it, or threatening violence against those that created it. Star Trek isn't real either (although I know some folks this is a shock to) ... but it is still entertaining. If things had to be true to be entertaining, there would be no reason to listen to NPR!

Saturday, May 27, 2006

Shooting the Gift Horse

After years of work by Democrats and the Press to create a "culture of corruption" charge against Republicans, the FBI finds that New Orleans Congressman William Jefferson has $90K in freezer, no readily available lie, and on tape taking $100K from an informant. Little things like that would tend to weaken the idea that corruption is somehow a "Republican problem" in an unbiased nation.

It is an election year, the guy is guilty as sin, other than the fact that a good deal of work is required to get the media to do any reporting on a dirty Democrat, it looks like political Christmas in May. So how do the Speaker Hastert and the House Republicans handle it? Well, they complain about the FBI getting into a Congressional office of course, and turn it into another "administration over-step", likely to have a "chilling effect" on the "separation of powers". What are they thinking? Nothing intelligent obviously.

Unless they are just out to lunch, and that should not be discounted in this case, I'm thinking the idiots think something along these lines; "Duh, Bush is unpopular, we want to be popular, we better distance ourselves from Bush". Makes one wonder how the country can operate if that is what counts for thinking at that level. The country is a 50/50 country, Bush is at 32 because he has alienated 18% of HIS base, and likely more than that. He alienated them by "governing as a center-right moderate" which he is, and always has been. That seems pretty obvious, for those that are not sheep of the MSM or the 20%+ from the right that are ticked at Bush, but apparently not.

prescription drugs, Harriett Miers, UAE Ports deal, small tax cuts, immigration and even the general level of military response to 9-11 have all been "center right" (at best, some are middle to center left). Since the media and the Democrats in this country are bordering on far left, but naturally call themselves "moderate", the skew gets confusing to folks that pay probably the rational level of attention to current events and politics. I pay an irrational level of attention because I seem to like to waster time. If the MSM analysis of where they are is correct, then there is nobody to the right of Bush, and TONS of folks to the left of NYT, NPR, and the Democrats. There are PLENTY of people to the right of Bush on all the issues that I mentioned before (Like 20% of the country), but it is very hard to find folks to the left of even elected Democrats, let alone MSM moonbats.

Clinton was able to "triangulate" and "run to the right", since there was a "D" next to his name. The MSM, as well as all but the farthest right Republicans were more than willing to give him credit for NAFTA, welfare reform, and his anemic little military adventures in the face of the mounting terrorist threat of the '90s. There are at least two severe problems when a Republican attempts to be "moderate". First of all, the MSM will give them no credit at all ... it will be labeled as "pandering", "weak and ineffectual", "wrong", "complex", "not a real program", or some other term that means that even though potentially vast amounts of dollars and political capital have been squandered (as in prescription drug benefits), the amount of political benefit to the Republican is essentially zero.

The 2nd problem is that Republicans have principals, and believe that consistency IS an issue. If Democrats believed the same they would have turned on Clinton in droves as a result of NAFTA, Welfare Reform, Somalia or Kosovao. Where Clinton was able to keep his base and the media reasonably happy even though he was mining votes on the center right, nobody in the center or left of center is moving to Bush because of his moderate policies, and 18-20% of his base on the right has abandoned him since they see him as abandoning them first.

The media keeps up working hard to defeat Republicans, Bush has had some severe missteps for sure ... Meirs, Ports Deal but he hasn't left any stains on any dresses that I know of. Now the Republican congress seems intent to be as stupid as possible, the only remaining bright spot is that Republicans STILL get to run against Democrats in the fall. The benefit of that can't be overstated. Americans are still goint to have to look at the other side before they punch the buttons for Democrats all over the country. Everyone was "sure" in '02, and '04, that Republicans were going to go down in those elections are well. The congress seems to be doing all it can do to help, but it is still a long way until election day.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Mille Lacs Good Old Days


I grew up with a nearly constant discussion of "the good old days". I suspect a lot of that has to do with being on a small farm, where it would have been clear to anyone of an objective bent that the best days of small dairy farms were well over. It didn't just pertain to farming though, there were a lot of discussions on how great fishing "used to be", and most everything else in life. I got sick of "the best days being behind" with Jimmy Carter, and have never gone back to that way of thinking.

I spent Thursday-Sunday last week up at lake Mille Lacs having a great time fishing and catching walleyes. Fishing on Mille Lacs was the best in 2003 that it had been in any time in the last 100 years or so, and I got to enjoy some of that. It wasn't quite that good this past weekend, but with numbers of walleye over 20" and 4 over 25" for our group, it was a long way from bad. In fact, it was pretty much in there with the stories that I grew up with about the "good old days" of fishing.

The modern world is all about change. What is very odd is that liberalism is generally all about change too, but it is change only in "removal of restriction without effort", which has generally come to mean only social change. Technological and economic change generally required effort, and that is something that liberals tend to be against, certainly as a "requirement". The modern "Reagan Conservative" movement is a far cry from the old meaning of conservative as "someone that wants to keep everything the same". The modern conservatives have embraced technology and practical changes in economics as well as fishing, and as a result, these are the good old days, and they generally keep getting better all the time for those willing to embrace change.

The fishing is an easy example. Mille Lacs is a big lake, and the kinds of waves that make the catching good would push almost all pre-70's private boats off the lake. No longer true with an 18+ foot deep aluminum boat with enough power, electronics, and pumps, the conditions can be dealt with safely. Add in modern light lines, sneaky and effective tackle techniques, plus the management of catch and release, and more and bigger walleyes can be caught than "in grand-dads time".

Much the same is true for life in general. Master the computer, internet, cell phones, globalization, "just in time" inventories, branding, franchises, or a host of other technology and process innovations, and you are taking part of the upper part of a US growth rate that continues to hum along at 4%, better than the '90s, when the media liked to talk about "a strong economy". Ignore advancement and try to operate like it was 1950 or 1960, and the talk quickly shifts to pining away for the "good old days".

No doubt part of it is age. With my 50th birthday approaching this year and having had much more in the way of health problems in the last decade than those decades prior, it is easy to understand how pessimism and looking back can creep in and cause "death before death". Politically, the left which includes the media see loss of the political power that is their only religion as having so much pain that only pessimism is possible.

For those that want to stay alive though, a reasonable recognition of the need for "attitude adjustment" with age, a staunch avoidance of belief in the MSM, and a hearty embrace of change will go a long way to keep the good new days getting better all the time.

Sunday, May 14, 2006

Iowa

Spent most of the weekend going to a graduation in a small farming community in IA, that included a service at the "Apostolic Christian Church" that my wife grew up being associated with. Link to Their Web Page if you are curious. I'm not going to spend a lot of time on the specific doctrines, but the men and women sit on separate sides of the church, men members greet men members, and women members greet women members with a "Holy Kiss". Women wear head coverings, and male members can't wear any facial hair, which pretty much excludes any 1st century Galilean fisherman from taking part.

I happen to be reading a biography of Rousseau, which I'll no doubt comment more on later, but some of the aspects of our world that we take so much for granted were simply impossible in the say the 1700s. The family mix that showed up for the graduation was all MN and greater IA, but transportation would certainly allow more. Something around 200 people attended the party out in a big machine shed on the IA flatlands. A good number of them were farmers, which means it was a rare national group, since < 2% of the current US population is in farming. In the 1700s, you generally either stayed in the village you were born in, or within a day or two walk of same. Often you followed the trade of your family. "Class" was a major issue, and the idea of "class mobility" was quite foreign.

Today we travel for 100's of miles with very little thought. Differences in education and income are certainly present in a gathering like a graduation, but "class" is not, and the differences in income and education are quite muted. The modern proclivity for informal dress (one that I approve of and enjoy very much) makes that aspect of personal style virtually melt away. One could potentially make some guesses based on the vehicles, but in general, even that is often significantly off with the higher income/education people being less "consumer market controlled" and driving vehicles that would supposedly indicate less "status". In fact, as you meet and greet people, the whole concept of relative "status", or "class" is close to impossible to determine, and the desire to do so is conspicuously missing.

Democrats would like to change this. They would love to be able to ignite class warefare between "the rich" and "the poor", as well as between those who have religious faith, and those who do not. They have definitional problems ... they don't really want to name the dividing line between the parties that are supposed to war on income, and they don't really know how to name the exact boundary between the "religious" and the "non-religious" either, but they keep trying.

Their response to the tax bills of this past week make that very clear on the monetary class warfare front. I'm sure this year will see them working hard to get some anger going between "rich and poor", and between "the religious right", and everyone else. The MSM has been having a good run since Katrina, maybe they can successfully get some warfare going this time. At least out in IA though, there doesn't seem to be much concern about politics at this point, so potentially they will fail yet again.

Monday, May 08, 2006

Confirmation

Our youngest Son was confirmed this past weekend. Having been raised a Baptist, and having a wife raised in a church with somewhat Baptist-like beliefs, the path of infant baptism - confirmation - communion is very special to me.

I recall my religious youth as one long altar call. The issue was about YOUR commitment to Christ. YOU needed to make a "personal commitment", and once that was done, you would be "saved forever". The only fly in the ointment was that the commitment had to be "true", and there was the rub. If YOU managed to be genuine enough, then "old desires would pass away and all things would become new". That was the way it was supposed to be, and in public, especially in church, it even looked that way pretty much. But it really wasn't. Some were closet smokers, some were closet drinkers, "the love" wasn't quite what was portrayed on Sunday, so it seemed like nobody really "made the big conversion". The old joke is that Baptists sin just as much as Lutherans, they are just a whole lot better at keeping it secret seemed very true. If you are going fishing take two Baptists or none -- if you take one they will drink all your beer was another that had the ring of truth.

The other interesting item about Baptists was that they knew were the only ones that got it right. That is unfair, because most of the "adult baptism types" are pretty convinced that each sect will be the only ones in heaven. The rest of us will need to be quiet, because no doubt they would have to tell God he messed up if they were to see a Lutheran or for certain a Catholic. Yes, they believe Jesus died on the cross, and then maybe a few folks got it right for 100 years or so, but then "the harlot", the Catholic Church, took over and dispensed nothing but tickets to Hell up until some folks got it all right on the 2nd or 3rd attempt after Luther. Luther apparently paved the way, but still missed the mark because of infant baptism, communion being a real sacrament rather than just a symbol, and thinking that there was a purpose for church beyond a place where one went to hear perpetual altar calls.

Mostly they don't talk about the period from say "AD 100" up to post reformation when the "Anabaptists" or "re-baptizers" show up. It is generally a pretty uncomfortable topic. A few will somehow claim that there were some "real Christians" that somehow survived for 1200 years or so hiding and passing down "the true faith" from generation to generation until the evil (but obviously much more courageous than "the real Christians") Luther somehow shook things up. It is somewhat unclear how these holy spirit filled holders of the truth managed to be completely unseen for over a millennium, yet another plain old "world church" guy named Luther was able to upset the whole apple cart of Catholicism, yet still miss the boat. He did open the door so the hidden "truth" could finally come out  from their POV I guess, although there were not many kind words for Luther (nor Lutherans) in the church I grew up in.

The evangelical and "fundamentalist" movement has found a real home in modern America. It is "if you want to do it right, you have to do it yourself, and since it is done right, it is done forever" (once saved, always saved). I love independence as much as the next guy, it is just that all those competitive do it yourselfers tend to set the bar a bit high. "All things being changed"  to me, doesn't really mean that all the wrong desires are gone, they are just "new", as in given an ongoing willingness to continue to accept grace and to stay in communion with the church. The power of the sin is "gone", like the power of death, ONLY in the CONSTANT light of the church and sacrament. . "Salvation" is a process AND an event, but the event is all God, the process is you being continually willing to let God work in you. 

Lutherans are into God's commitments, not their commitments. They accept the weakness of their ability to commit, but also the strength of God's ability to commit. I was a really bad Baptist -- never "changed enough". The more they would preach about the "new life",  the more I realized if I was honest, I was never more than one short skirt from following Jimmy Carter to "lust in my heart" -- and fully realizing that alone was enough to mean that I was not "really changed", so therefore, if I was honest with myself, not "really saved". There were LOTS of short skirts in the early '70s!

It was being around Lutherans and Lutheran families that taught me that there were folks that were genuine ... Maybe not claiming as much "perfection" as in 'don't drink, don't smoke, don't lust, don't cuss, don't go to movies etc" Baptist, but at another level, very solid on the DO side of a working actual faith that was "in the world, but not of the world". They stood out from what showed through them on the "DO" side vs trying to stand out from the "don't" side. Somehow the "don'ts" always seem to degenerate into a war over who is "failing to don't" just one or two last things that eventually become key -- and then that church breaks up over women wearing slacks, somebody having TV, or maybe somebodies kid going to a dance. It was as if the commandment had been "you will know them by their DON'TS!

I love a lot of evangelical fundamentalists. I don't like to spend a lot of time thinking about what it means to go through life without connection to the true body and blood, given unto you for forgiveness of sins. It isn't really my opinion that counts, I've accepted that my commitment to Christ isn't good enough to get me to heaven. A Baptist has faith that ONCE, their  "personal commitment to repent" was completely genuiine, and that is that.. They have no sacraments, need no baptism (just a symbol), and need no communion (another symbol). Both are just optional "good things". Their commitment to give their lives to Christ "got it done" as long as it was genuine, and they aren't likely to be talked out of that by a poor sinful Lutheran.

Nor should they be. There is no doubt people are wired amazingly different. As a Packer fan, it seems completely unnatural that someone could cheer for the Vikings, and yet, here in MN I see it every fall and those people are accepted as completely sane. I've often been told that "I think too much" -- and that may well be right. Maybe a Baptists really are changed more than I and have found the true way. These things have been discussed for a couple thousand more, they will be discussed for as long as Christ tarries.

Most of all though, I'm thankful. Thankful that our boys have gotten a wonderful start in the faith that makes me a bit envious and wistful. I pray that is how their lives may always be, in faith, in love, in career, in every way.

Saturday, May 06, 2006

Kennedy vs Limbaugh

Those that believe that the MSM is into the "equal treatment" concept could look at a small juxtaposition of events in the past week. On April 28, CBS news was running the following headline about Rush Limbaugh's battles with addiction to perscription pain medication. The MSM has been wallowing in enjoyment over the charges against

Rush since 2003. This "arrest" was a political stunt by a well known Democrat prosecutor in Palm Beach county to be able to get another set of headlines and a mug shot. The case is over, he completes the treatment that he voluntarily started and there is nothing left here.

A week later, Representative Patrick Kennedy, driving with no lights on, crashes into a concrete barrier near the Capitol, "late for a vote". The police fail to take a breathalizer. In their defense, one could argue that is a reasonable decision and simply efficient. One doesn't need a breathalizer to know that a Kennedy is drunk.

Now it appears that Kennedy is going to seek treatment from perscription drug addiction. The incident is already off the CNN headline this AM, and something tells me that we won't be hearing about it for two years. In fact, shockingly, I would make a strong guess that there will be ZERO attempt to try to find out "how he got the pills", or any mug shots taken at all. Even if there were, it would be buried in the back pages of the MSM. The reason is pretty obvious ... he has a "D" next to his name, and of course in his name, the ultimate in lefty royalty, he is a Kennedy. I'd argue that is "just fine" ... the treatment of Kennedy, Favre and countless others with pain med additions in the media is generally correct. If they are famous, it is reported (especially if something like a car accident is associated with it), and then they are allowed to quietly seek treatment. Of course, Rush was not treated that way, nor would I expect a congressman with an "R" to be so treated by the MSM.

Virtually every one of the Limbaugh articles points out that "he made statements against drug addition on is radio show". I'm sure that Kennedy has never made any statements of that kind. Why, in his view, the only vice is probably people that have worked hard, made money, and tried to keep some of it rather than send it all to the Government. In the Kennedy school, the only valid way to have money is the old fashioned way, inheritance.

The media trips over itself to report the fallacy of people having any kind of standards. They are likely to fall short of them. The only safe position is "anything goes", and who is more consistent on that then the Kennedys? Clinton gave it a good try, but sex in the Oval Office still falls a bit short of murdering your girlfriend. Who knows, he still has time left and I'd never count Slick out in that kind of a race. I'm sure he would be very sorry, and the lip would even quiver a bit if he was left with no alternative but to murder a young girl. Sometimes sacrifices have to be made for "great men".

Great men like Clinton and Teddy have to get a pass, but is there any limit to the abuse that should be heaped on someone that claims that there are such things as moral standards and then fall short of them? Well, according to Democrats, the MSM, and Satan, I guess not. Having just recently had plenty of vicodin in my diet and having had a drink or two in my time, my analysis is that equating "vicoden" and "drugs" in general is about like calling the Mona Lisa and the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit issue "pictures".

My personal experience with Vicoden is that it does a darned good job of reducing or wiping out pain, doesn't make you feel "high", and mostly you at least "feel" like you can operate pretty naturally with it in your system. Based on Favre winning an MVP while apparently on it, Limbaugh no doubt on the radio with it, and me certainly doing work and reading with it, my guess is that analysis isn't very far off.

So why do they get addicted? Partially because Doctors seem to be willing to give out a lot of the stuff, which I suspect is "no problem" as long as the pain goes away in some reasonable time. Having had more than my share of knee surgery, back problems, elbow surgery, busted ribs, etc, I can attest that long term pain isn't all that much fun. Something that gives you freedom from pain and allows you to pretty much live as if you didn't have it (all be it with risks that are likely hard to quantify), is pretty darned enticing. Like a lot of addictions, it likely is well along the way before you really realize exactly how bad it is.

I'm also overweight. I work out 6-7 times a week for 40min+ on a stairmonster or other suitable torture device. I attempt to watch what I eat, but I really like food, and the bottom line is that I'm weak and eat too much. So, do I have to be in favor of perscription drug addiction since I feel I can understand it, and obesity, since I'm a "victim"? Ann did a great job of discussing this in
Lie Down With Strippers Wake up with Pleas so I won't try to cover the same ground here, other than to say "of course not".

The well known quote by the Frenchman whose name I can never recall; "Hypocrisy is the homage that virtue pays to vice" says a good part of it. To be a human and have any virtue at all is to be a hypocrite to some extent, often even a great extent. To not be a hypocrite is to be a liberal, but lacking virtue and wallowing in vice is quite a high price to pay for avoiding hypocrisy.

Friday, May 05, 2006

Never Again?

Charles Krauthammer has a must read for the reality oriented on the clearly stated intent of the Iranians toward Israel and how the world is yet again standing by. He doesn't say what to do, or even suggest anything. The Iranian leadership seems to feel that the consequences of wiping out Israel would be "acceptable losses" for that Arab world.

My personal view is that a series of H-bombs should be installed in monoliths around Mecca and Medina as beautiful gift monuments to Islam, the religion of peace. If the monuments are tampered with, all go off, and there is no Mecca. If a nuclear bomb goes off in Israel, they go off and Mecca becomes an ex-location.

There will of course be the "moral equivalence people" that will scream "what right do we have"? That argument is the kind of argument that let Hitler kill 6 million Jews the first time. The other popular "everything is equal" argument will be "Well, the US used nuclear weapons against Japan". These arguments all come down to belief. For those that at their core really believe there is no "objective truth" other than their own authority, everything really is morally equivalent except for their own view. If they really search their souls, they will find it is actually the idea of "authority" and "order" beyond the confines of their own skin bag that produces the anger. The idea of "truth to power", or basically anything that gives "chaos" the upper hand and thus (in their mind) improves their position relative to "authority" is a "win". Only in their blindness do they miss the authority that they serve. There is a god of chaos as well, and he is happy to let them see themselves as the ultimate authority as long as possible.

For those that don't hold that view, it isn't likely that a deterrent against the use of nuclear weapons will be seen as equivalent to the use of them in the first place. Sometimes it is fun to have an argument or two to rebut the chaoicians;
1). The US was attacked by Japan and a known state of war existed between the two nations. Two weapons were used, surrender was achieved, and rebuilding and assistance in the billions of dollars was provided to return Japan to a peaceful and productive member of the world community. The careful observer may notice slight difference between that at a desire to annihilate the Jews.
2). The choice of using the weapons is in their hands anyway. The only action that would be taken from this side is to make the consequences obvious.

The "specifics" of the weapons in monuments are of course a "detail of implementation". The dangerous part is the Arab world not understanding clear and unavoidable consequences, and the monuments would just make that visible. I hope and pray that quiet back room diplomacy has qiettly shared the target coordinates of a number of missles on submarines and assured them that the technology and resolve is as physical as an H-bomb sitting on a granite slab.

Monday, May 01, 2006

Proper Use of the Constitution

We have been regularly schooled by the Democrats and MSM here in MN that making a constitutional amendment that marriage should be between one man and one woman is "frivolous". Senator Dean Johnson assured us that he had it directly from MN Supreme Court judges there was no way they would question the law on the books from the legislature. He later assured us that he had never heard any such thing, but the MSM is still certain we don't need anything so foolish as a constitutional amendment.

What we DO need is an amendment to permanently provide some percentage of sales tax to clean water, swamps, ducks, fishes, the arts and maybe some form of public broadcasting. That usage of a constitution is quite reasonable, and something that everyone should be in favor of. Oh, the outrage on MPR though. This AM they pointed out that the evil house Republican bill EXCLUDES Minnesota's "premier broadcasters", none other than MPR. They could think of "no legitimate reason" for this exclusion, but quickly debunked a couple of "false reasons".

It seems that some Republicans think that a service that has 100's of millions in endowments, just build a $40 million new main office in St Paul, turned down $500K from the state because it would have required them to disclose the NUMBER (not the names) of their employees over $100K salary a year, owns major parts of CA public radio, and has a corporate arm that rakes in a bunch more, didn't NEED funding. How foolish. It was pointed out "look at the new Walker, look at the new Guthrie, these are WINNERS, they get state money, the state ought to WANT to invest in WINNERS!". A wonderful sentiment ... I'm sure their attitude will be the same for people with high incomes, corporations that make a lot of money, and CEO salaries from this day forward. No double standards on MPR.

They also pointed out that maybe some idiot Republicans don't like that fact that Garrison Keilor who is regularly on MPR in all sorts of capacities raises a lot of money for Democrats, writes scathing editorials against Republicans, and regularly makes it known they are the lowest form of slime on the planet. Pay no attention that there is nobody associated with MPR that has anything like the reverse view. Never mind, Garrison Keilor DOESN'T WORK FOR THEM!! Well, they air his show, and he is on there a lot, but he has his own company, and they just pay them, so there is really no connection. Simple. Now, let's see, Dick Cheney and Halliburton? Nah, can't be any relation, "he doesn't work there". There has yet to be a Republican politician that ever had a job for which the "relationship" between them and their former employer or business isn't "questionable", but the MPR to Garrison relationship is 100% clear, "he doesn't work there".

This is all amazingly funny, but the slightly sad part is that they have no clue how funny they are. Sadly, I'm convinced that they actually BELIEVE what they are saying, which is pretty frightening. There are people who actually listen to MPR for news rather than humor, and that makes one understand how MN elects Senators like Mark Dayton.