Monday, November 30, 2009

The GOP in 2012

Mike Huckabee has said that he is leaning against running for President as a Republican in the next election. Citing that it is too early to say for sure, it appears that his decision will rest on several factors, including the results of the 2010 biennial elections and whether he thinks the party would unite behind him as a candidate.

Mitt Romney seems likely to be in the mix, as do Sarah Palin, Bobby Jindal, and Newt Gingrich. There are undoubtedly several others considering a run, so it's all little more than speculation at this point. Further, every one of them carries baggage: Palin for being part of a failed campaign, Jindal for being new, Gingrich for already having had a political career (which means a record that can be severely scrutinized), and so forth. But the main question which the GOP must address is: what kind of a party does it want to be?

Does it merely want to be an anti-Obama opposition type group? While that may appeal to many of the knee-jerk voters, it is a rather shallow platform. Anybody can be in opposition; simply be contrary and you have that market cornered.

Or does it want to be a party which stands for something? Which has principles worth defending and voting for in light of the current events? That would surely broaden its base, as the average joe will listen when someone speaks to their heart as well as their head. Do any of the current crop actually reflect that virtue?

Hopefully, Huckabee will run. He seems the most likely to fit that mold. We shall see.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

School Nicknames: Much Ado About Nothing

The Washington Redskins have won the right, at least for now, to keep their trademark logo and team name. It is part of an ongoing struggle between certain Native Americans and several institutions over the supposed racism of such monikers.

Before saying another word, it must be conceded that the term Redskins is indefensible as a nickname. Some forms and fashions are indeed racist on their face and ought to be seen as such. But is it in general racist to use a tribal name, or such a general term as Braves, to name your group or organization?

No.

It is no more racist to call yourselves the Chippewas or Seminoles than it is anti-religious bigotry to have the San Diego Padres, or hatred against the Emerald Isle to call yourselves the Fighting Irish. Indeed it can be argued that in taking away Native nicknames we are further trying to erase their history from our books.

Sure, they become rallying cries of support for the home team and are mocked by the visitors, but so what? Are we so thin skinned that we cannot stand such ultimately meaningless playfulness? Are protestants up in arms because Wake Forest players are known as the Demon Deacons? Lighten up, folks.

It is regularly asserted that such names make Native Americans on campuses using tribal monikers feel inferior because of it. Do Christians at Wake Forest feel that way? Irish at Notre Dame? Catholics in San Diego? Even the Cleveland Indians, if what I understand is true and they are named in honor of Native American baseball player Louis Sockalexis, deserve a pass on the question.

So give it a rest, my friends. No one's rights are being violated by harmless team names, and it is fair to ask whether those who feel they are need to get a grip. In the meantime, go North Dakota Fighting Sioux!

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Gay Marriage: Simply Wrong

Gay marriage is a moral question on the level abortion: that is, it is not of necessity a religious one. It is not in fact a particularly religious matter at all. Therefore, as with any philosophical issue, we have the need and indeed the right to debate it in public. Especially seeing as our laws reflect the kind of people we are.

Gay marriage should not be allowed. As it is clear that good families can only come out of loving heterosexual relationships which have children naturally (that is, in league with nature: it takes a male and female to have a child and in no other way can that happen while remaining congruent with nature), and that gay couples cannot have children of their own in such a way, then by definition a gay couple cannot be a family. Seeing as the family is the building block of the greater society, it must be defended strongly, even fiercely, towards the end that society must be strong with reflection to nature, to the way things out to be, in order to survive.

Many arguments have ensued about who defines marriage. Yet no one truly defines it; they see it as a reflection of the natural law or they do not. It has been said that homosexuality is well documented in the world of the lower animals. Even if so, it is fair to ask whether we are more than mere animals. If you wish to think about people as though they had no choice, no free will in their actions, then you are making us less than human. That argument, such as it is, speaks for itself.

A common legal argument is that same sex couple do not receive the legal benefits of married heterosexual couples. Well, if they cannot be married as a matter of course, any issues of legal rights are moot. If they cannot marry, they simply are not entitled to the rights of marriage.

Some say that all sorts of awful people can and do marry and have children. That they certainly do. Which is why there are laws against pedophilia, abandoning or abusing your children, and taking them from your custody if you are unfit. The laws recognize familial obligation and do their best to uphold and enforce it.

More can, and surely will, be said about this issue. But the bottom line is this: any society which will not uphold and respect the natural laws is a society which cannot last. We risk becoming that type of nation if we deviate from the objective norms of the natural environment.

Friday, November 27, 2009

The Trouble with Hockey

Todd Bertuzzi is a forward with the Detroit Red Wings. He should not be. He should not be in the National Hockey League at all. He should be in jail, or at least under a heavy probation. At the very least, he should have been permanently barred from the NHL. That he is not tells us what's wrong with the sport of hockey today.

Most fans of the game know about Bertuzzi. He was involved in a famous incident in which he viciously attacked Colorado player Steve More from behind, causing him severe injuries and apparently ending the man's career (he has not played since). Though there have been civil suits filed against him and the league disciplined him (the fourth longest suspension in its history), Bertuzzi suffered no criminal penalty.

He should have. What happens on the ice (or playing field, arena, stadium, and so on) is as subject to criminal prosecution as anything on the street. If Bertuzzi had have mugged Moore off ice he would have surely faced assault charges. Yet as hockey fans will, Detroiters have accepted Bertuzzi into their hearts with no regard to his tactics and history.

It is bad enough that hockey tolerates fighting as 'part of the game'. No other sport that I know (outside of actual fighting matches of whatever ilk) allows fighting. You get kicked out of the game if you do. Hockey ought to treat it similarly if it wants any credibility for itself as a sport.

I do not doubt that Bertuzzi is sincerely remorseful about the incident. I do not deny that, relative to the game and his own earning capacity, he has faced significant trial and financial harm. Yet it ought to be worse than it is. He wrecked a man's life. He should be held more accountable for his actions.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Thanksgiving

Note: I'm reprinting last year's thanksgiving blog because it still stands.


It would be all too easy to write a blog on the things I should be thankful for today. Except everybody does that, and it would not be original.

I could write on the first Thanksgiving, reflecting on what it means in our history. Yet that's been amply covered as well.

I could post a Happy Thanksgiving shout out to the soldiers and sailors and airmen and marines who sacrifice their time and, too often, lives for us to be able to celebrate Thanksgiving. But that seems stale.

The hell it does. Happy Thanksgiving to all of you in Iraq, Afghanistan, GITMO, Germany, Korea, Britain; Forts Bliss, Leavenworth, Benning, Lewis, Hood, Riley, Sam Houston, Bragg, Sill, Leonard Wood, on the high seas, and all our Allied forces, Canada, England and all others, who are aiding us in all the trouble spots in the world. Happy Thanksgiving to all in the places I've neglected to mention; you're in our hearts too.

That your turkey dinners are happening in places I can't imagine, thank you for the will to do what you're doing. I hope they taste better as part of a job well done.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Is it Time to Rethink Public Education?

In the midst of all the the recent grumbling in Michigan about the cuts to education made by Governor Granholm, I wonder whether we might start thinking about the issue on a deeper level. I wonder whether we ought to consider in the most profound way the true nature of public education.

Why should it be such a priority? Isn't it fair to presume that parents ought to hold the primary obligation to educate their children? After all, we rely on parental commitment in many other areas - housing, clothing, feeding; a stable environment - which are at least arguably more important for a child's development than doing sums and learning subject/predicate agreement. Why shouldn't parents bear the brunt, so far as they can, in educating their offspring?

How may they? Through the greater sources of private education which would surely be available if the government did not already take so much of our money to pay for public schooling. By home schooling, perhaps, as there seem to be more resources and desire for that every day. But be all that as it may, the important point here is that maybe we are mistaken in this nation. Maybe we are missing the boat on where the true responsibility for education lies.

The primary responsibility for teaching and/or seeing to the education of children is parental, not societal. Until we remember that and adapt to it, education may be little more than a government sponsored jobs program. When seen that way, we ought not be shocked at the poor product it gives us.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Patrick Kennedy and the Church

So it appears that the Diocese of Providence, Rhode Island has barred Representative Patrick Kennedy from receiving communion within its borders. It is high time that the Catholic Church has begun to reign in those who flaunt Her teachings, as it is an embarrassment to the Church to allow those who claim to be members to act in ways opposed to her teaching authority.

The onus of the issue is, of course, abortion. Mr. Kennedy supports abortion rights and the Church opposes them. At some point a line must be drawn and if crossed, the proper actions must be taken. Catholics need to learn that there is no real practicing of the faith if you will not support its teachings in all that you do. Especially in your public acts.

Many around here believe that our own Governor Granholm ought to be prohibited from the reception of communion on similar grounds. Be that as it may, what should be noted is that this is not a church/state question. The Church, any church for that matter, has the right to define what it is and what it stands for. If those who claim to be one with them talk and act against them, the given religion has the right to address the question and act.

That Mr. Kennedy has chosen to seek elective office and oppose his faith is his choice. The Church isn't telling him how to act, but rather telling him how to act Catholic. Further, the Church is not telling the State how to act either. It does what it does.

But that does not mean Catholics must aid and abet that. Hopefully, errant members of the flock will begin to realize the importance of faith in action, and follow suit.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Comin' Home and Done His Time

Supposedly, hopefully, my son Chuck is at Fort Jackson South Carolina as I write. His hitch in the Army is ending and his out processing starts there.

Thank you for your service, Son, and God Bless.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Abortion: Keep the Debate Going, Anywhere, Anytime

This morning's Detroit Free Press reports that Michigan Representataive Bart Stupak's (one of those rare and brave birds, an anti-abortion Democrat) anti-abortion rider may kill the proposed health care initiative. That is a moral good in and of itself. But more importantly, it forces this nation to address what sometimes has become an issue relegated to second class status.

Abortion is the proverbial elephant in the room for the politicians in the middle. They know they can't win on the question, so they generally hope that it will just go away. If they seem in the slightest way to promote it, conservatives become upset. If they likewise appear to go against it, the leftists rant. That is precisely because, like slavery, it is an issue which does not allow for compromise. There is no middle way. We have it or we don't; there simply is not another, ahem, choice on the matter.

So if the abortion debate alone kills the health care initiative, it will have served a great good. Nevertheless, we must remember that more is at stake than short sighted political gain such as that. We must use this opportunity to remember that abortion is a stain on our national soul, and as a rallying point where we fight it all the harder in the future.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Is God God, or are You God?

There are only two kinds of people in the end: those who say to God, 'Thy will be done,' and those to whom God says, in the end, 'Thy will be done.'

- C. S. Lewis

I have long believed that there is only one God. There can only be One; Plato eons ago rightly pointed out that perfection implies singularity, as multiplicity must infer defect. To wit, complexity must allow for great error because there are so many parts of it. There's more to go wrong. Conversely, One Whole Something must be essentially simple so that nothing can be wrong with it.

Ignore for the moment any pleas within your mind which may ask, so which God is God? I am merely establishing that there can only be one. Christ, Yahweh, Allah; Animism and Mother Earth: we can deal with all that another time. What I am concerned with here is how this truth affects us in our day to day actions.

When we discuss morality it often seems to devolve into an us against them rant. "Who made you God?", we may often be asked. The reply, "Who made you?", generally is left unasked, yet is just as fair. Be that as it may, the overall implication is that that other person doesn't have to listen to you because you aren't the final arbiter of right and wrong and, further, that maybe there isn't actually a God for us to bother about anyway.

That is dangerous on two fronts. The first is that you never, ever want to even broach the idea that you are God. The second is that it begs that question of who is. To the former, what kind of God would you be if you did in fact call the shots? Could you stay good with all the power that implies at your control? To the latter, if there is a God who can make those calls, hadn't we best find out who He is and what He wants? For surely our poor opinions and actions would pale next to His.

Still, God allows us some share of that power. He will, as Lewis says above, tell you 'thy will be done', and cast you off. He will allow you your choice on the ultimate matter: to be with him or not. You can be the god of your own destiny.

But ask yourself whether you would like where the trail must lead.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Standards of Art and Beauty

Is beauty in the eye of the beholder? That is a stance taken by most people when the subject of beauty comes up. Taken at face value, it is meant to say that we all have our quirks and foibles and as such our own opinions on the beautiful. That's fine, too, so far as it goes. Without a bit of individual interpretation an awful lot of very good things might go unrecognized.

Too often, though, it is not taken at face value. It is often intended as a way of dismissing any claim which propriety or objective analysis of art and objects may have against what makes something beautiful. On that level, it at the least makes art valueless. At the most, it is dangerous to our very psychological well being.

Why should there be no standards for beauty? Why should we not be able to know and employ them? We do and know and apply standards to so much else; why should the beautiful be any different? What can we really know about art and beauty if we have no way of judging them anyway? Indeed it can open us up to certain ironies, areas where what think awful may actually be lovely.

I remember a nun back when I was in Catholic schools who couldn't hold a musical note in a bucket: God love her, her voice was terrible. Yet when I hear it now, I realize that it in fact had a certain beauty in it which made it endearing. She belted out those hymns, by gosh, a Joyful Noise Unto the Lord, and it really was a joyful noise.

Aethetics, I believe Aristotle called it. A way to judge the beautiful from the horrendous. It is a subject on which I think we need to spend more time and effort.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Evolution: Why the Insane Reaction?

Why is it that one of the very first criticisms which typically spew forth from defenders of evolution is that those against it are religious nut cases? Why are they so afraid of religion if it so obviously (in their view) means so little?

I have posted here on several occasions that evolution as a theory may or may not be true; I have not condemned it. Indeed I believe I have been very generous in allowing it whatever sway it may have amongst the scientific world. I concede, once again, that maybe it is true. Yet when I caution that the theory my, only may, mind you, go beyond its evidence, I find myself subjected to nothing less than vile contempt and uncalled for vitriol.

To be sure, this isn't the reaction (one hopes) of the evolutionists writ large. Yet the viciousness of the attacks by at least a few of them suggest something rather disconcerting. Something which can only be labeled reactionary. For if it is only by outlandish behavior that they can make their point, perhaps we haven't evolved very much at all.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Pigs With Lipstick

I do not think highly of consensus as consensus. It isn’t that I don’t recognize the need for sometimes disagreeable agreement in order to move things along; it’s simply that most people who preach ‘consensus first’ really aren’t ready or willing to concede anything substantial at all.

Liberals are great at this game. They want consensus on abortion or gay rights, for example. Yet they are in favor of both; conservatives are not. They talk about tolerance: they want us to tolerate both. That’s easy for them as they find both issues tolerable. They aren’t moving towards consensus in any way shape or form because they aren’t conceding anything. Yet we right wingers are essentially being asked to give up entirely on core values which we believe in very deeply. In short, it isn’t consensus they request. It’s the total and complete acceptance of their world view.

Yet there are issues on which we cannot make concession without violating our basic creed. To allow abortion is so abhorrent that we cannot tolerate it. To allow gay marriage speaks so ill of our society that we cannot tolerate it; society has the right to define marriage in the pattern which best represents what an ideal society should be.

Yes, conservatives are being obstinate on these and other questions. That is, no doubt, in part because they are such important questions to our most essential beliefs; but more, they are issues upon which a stable society cannot long survive without their being addressed properly. They must be answered in accordance with what is really right, what is really needed for a wholesome and decent nation to become and stay wholesome and decent. We strive to follow the natural moral law.

Not so with liberals. We are pariahs, neanderthals, if we do not go beyond tolerance (which, when we do tolerate things such as the legalized abortion we deal with these days, truly is only a recognition of error which we can not, at a given time anyway, overcome) and embrace their ways. There is no room, in their actions or in their philosophy, for us to be us. They are hypocrites who sound like they’re being inclusive when they are in fact less considerate of beliefs anathema to theirs than they accuse us of being. They are, to use Barack Obama's phrase from last year's campaign, pigs with lipstick. We need to step back far enough that we may see the sty they wallow in.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Blank Slates

Sorry, my friends, I have nothing today. After looking at the computer screen and surfing the net for inspiration for the last three hours, I have nothing. Hopefully tomorrow will bode well.

Friday, November 13, 2009

You Can Think For Yourself!

The moral relativist claims that we can know nothing on our own. My question for him, beyond, 'Then how can you know that?', is, 'Why don't you want to trust your senses?'

Why not trust them? Sure, they can be fooled, but can the tomfoolery not be discovered by thought, a presentation of the valid evidence, or exposure of the true villain, among other remedies? By and large, hot is hot, hard is hard, and mathematical progression continues uninterrupted by what we might wish. Why won't you believe your eyes, ears, nose, and touch, your own rational thoughts indeed, as need be?

The only reason I can think of is that any valid thought might interfere with what you might want, and we can't have objectivity ruin a night on the town, can we, brother? For you see, a proven truth in one area necessarily suggests there are provable truths elsewhere, including perhaps those which may affect how you want to behave. That simply destroys any moral chance of, well, doing an awful lot of immoral things.

Such a shame that human beings have to consider the weight of their actions to be fully human.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Pro-Choice means Pro-Abortion

It is high time that we took control of the debate about abortion by defining our terms in a way which better illustrates the matter. We must start by asserting the very obvious yet oft denied truth that Pro-Choice means Pro-Abortion.

There is a simple test to prove this point. I am not a fan of basketball. I am not impressed by the athleticism of the game nor do I find it particularly entertaining. Yet I am in favor of those wanting to play it being allowed to do so. I am, with no embarrassment, willing to proclaim that I am pro-basketball. I am not merely in favor of individual choice on the question. I wholly support that those who want to play it must be allowed to play it.

Yet abortion supporters will not make a similar allowance. Indeed they are nearly rabid in their denuciations: pro-choice, they claim, does not mean pro-abortion.

Why do they want to hide the true nature of their views? That they most certainly wish as much is found not merely through the above example but in the fact that so many of them, when discussing the question, are quick to add that they themselves would never have one.

I do not go around proclaiming that, while I support those playing basketball in their right to play, I personally would never play it. I never say, "You'll never see me shooting hoops." I don't have to; as playing it is not wrong, I see no reason to assert that I wouldn't do it. Unless they know in their own hearts that abortion is wrong, the pro-abortion activists have no need of trying to imply a difference of viewpoint which does not exist.

It all boils down to one simple point: a guilty conscience needs no accuser. They convict themselves by their actions.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Football and Arrogance

I am an overall sports fan, which means that I'll watch just about any sport to pass the time of day. Of course, the biggest sports get the bulk of my attention, which means I watch a pretty good amount of football. Yet I find myself slowly tiring of it. The reason? It's a combination of two factors: certain rules, and the ridiculous amount of grandstanding which has become part of the game.

Sports are supposed to be sportsmanlike. That means respecting your opponent. How can it be said that you're respecting the other team when you trash talk? What is it saying about them when you gesture wildly after every single play? That stuff is particularly galling late in blowout games: it's arrogance if you're winning and quite frankly silly when you're losing. Why not let your actions speak for you, guys? Remember that in the end it's only, and I mean only, a game. You aren't saving lives or tending crops or curing disease. You're merely fortunate to live in a country with enough disposable income to support your playing kid's games. Get perspective, even, or perhaps especially, on the field.

There are rules I don't like either, on the very same grounds of sportsmanship and fair play. Why should a quarterback be allowed to throw a ball away when he's in danger of being sacked, with no penalty? I know what you'll say: to protect him because he's vulnerable. But doesn't he know that he's playing a brutal game? Besides, the NFL doesn't protect other players in the same way: running backs aren't allowed to toss the ball down when a tackle is immanent, and they're often in as vulnerable of a position as the QB. What such a rule does is penalize the defense. It violates one of most basic rules of sportsmanship: if I have the best of you I've earned the benefit of it.

Spiking the ball to stop the clock is another gripe of mine. Many games have been won because a team with no time outs simply spikes the snap into the ground, allowing them to race the kicking team onto the field and win a game. But again, this punishes good defense while rewarding poor clock management. It's unsportsmanlike, and even the rules of a mere game must have integrity. They must, shall I say, play fair. If the quarterback has no intention of running a play then he should at least get the penalty for intentional grounding: 15 yards and a loss of down.

The defense of allowing this action is that it makes the games more exciting. Still, I say the games need integrity ahead of excitement. If we're supposed to learn certain things from sports, like fair play, then the rules must reflect that quality. Period. Otherwise the game can only teach us that winning is all that matters. You can't get more shallow than that.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Knowing Things: Seeing Truth.

And looking out on high I saw Aristotle, the Master of Those Who Know, ringed by the great souls of philosophy.
-Dante, The Inferno

The exact translation of the line I paraphrase above seems in some dispute; what Dante is saying precisely is beyond my poor academic powers to determine. But the gist is reasonably accurate: the poet was speaking of Aristotle, and Aristotle was being commended for seeking and holding and teaching real knowledge.

Not, of course, that Aristotle's knowledge was perfect; no one's is. The overriding point is that we can know; we can hold a real knowledge of and appreciation for persons, things, and events.

Many thinkers today do not accept this preposition. My professors of education (I will not call them teachers) were very open in that they did not believe that there were any things true for all time and all places. In that light, should we be surprised that so many schools do such a poor job of education?

Questions of religion are tossed off as little more than personally interpretive systems which, at best, only help individuals cope with the traumas of this world. Could this be a reason that reverence for anything beyond the person involved has paled lately?

In politics, issues are little more than vague platitudes which help people get elected. Perhaps that is why men and women of depth and understanding eschew elective offices, for they understand that real things are at stake and are too busy actually dealing with them in real time?

Moral virtue is now all too often seen as a myth; should we wonder why there is so little respect for people and institutions?

All of this and far greater errors are based on the idea that we cannot really know anything. The fact is, if that axiom is right (please ignore such irony this moment, for we all know it's there but isn't the point here and now), if there is no universal knowledge which we can all, if we wish, understand, then there is no meaning in the world or to life.

Do not fear. That cannot be the case. Aristotle and all the dead white guys, and a great many others of varying races and creeds (for truth is eternal and thus widely spread across cultures and peoples) have shown us that we can know. Forget the liberal academics who have no respect for that tenet; it shows only their ignorance. Ignore the science trumps religion tribes; they will not accept that knowledge has different tests in different areas. In science, the test of truth is empirical. In philosophy, the test is Reason. With Theology, the standard of evidence is Faith. In the end, all knowledge compliments itself across these three major branches of her, that goddess we call Wisdom.

We can know. Therefore we can act. We can act for the greater good of ourselves and our world. We can do what we must with the clarity that truth is with us, that it dwells among us and at all levels. In the end, that is why we will win and the liberal elements across the spectrum will lose. We have something to stand on. They have a bedrock of air.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Today's Gospel Reading

"Amen, I say to you, this poor widow put in more than all the other contributors to the treasury. For they have all contributed from their surplus wealth, but she, from her poverty, has contributed all she had, her whole livelihood."

-The Gospel of Mark, Chapter 12, vs. 43-44

It is easy for any of us to give of our excess. But to give out of our own need is difficult indeed. Yet it seems to be precisely the sort of thing which Christ asks of us: give until, or even if, it hurts.

C. S. Lewis once said that that is the true measure of our charitable giving: if it doesn't affect us, we aren't giving enough.

So that's what He wants: he wants all of us, all that we have. So long as we hold back anything, we are not fully within Him. And how can we hold back when the One who walked among us held back nothing?

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Defeat National Health Care!

The swarm of protesters who descended on Washington last Thursday ought to send a message to our federal lawmakers: stop the proposed overhaul of our health care system. It is nothing less than a power grab by a group of newly empowered Democrats who, regardless of their intent, want to make a huge impression on our nation and our future while they have the chance.

They remember too well what happened the last time around. Their political kin could not force through Hillarycare when they might have, and went down to a stinging defeat in the 1994 elections. It is similarly important to vote down the current plan; such a defeat, if followed up with a ringing anti-Obama message next year, would stave off attempts at national health care well into the future.

There is, also, an ominous cloud which the observers of history may already see. When the government expands its powers, it rarely retracts them. In England, for example, no less than Winston Churchill embraced their brand of socialism in the 1950's when he saw political gain in it. Don't think that Republicans would not embrace national health care, once in place, as an area where they might wield power and influence in their own way.

Power corrupts. Do not give the power over everyday life and death to the feds.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Massacre at Ft. Hood

What happened yesterday at Ft. Hood, outside of Killeen, Texas, is nothing short of reprehensible. It is an act which has no excuse: no matter what your view on the military in general or US policy in particular, nothing can justify such outlandish and wanton disregard for human life.

But two things can, and indeed must, be recognized about the dastardly attack by one of our own against our own. First, it is an attack perpetuated by a disillusioned individual, and nothing more.

Second, it cannot be used as an attack on Islam. Again, we must stress that it was committed by an individual who did not want to do what he was told. Read no more into than than that. And be happy that it was not worse as we pray for the victims and their families.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Humilty

Humility is an odd thing. Once you realize you're being humble, you're not really humble anymore.

How, then, does one maintain it? By being unassuming, of course, such as an Ernie Harwell or Fr. Solanus. You certainly don't keep it by thinking about it or dwelling upon it.

But that seems to make the whole task impossible. How can you not consider something which is widely accepted as a valuable trait and expect to develop and keep it as a part of you?

It is a point to ponder. Good luck with it.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

2009 Elections

Elections in what are generally considered off years, where there are few or no major national or even statewide contests, are usually rather nondescript. So it is no surprise that yesterday's vote garnered no huge changes in political power.

Locally, Dave Bing won what we all truly hope will be the last Detroit's mayoral election for four years, and while former TV personality Charles Pugh is lined up to become President of the City's Common Council we cannot see any significant difference in city politics. Detroit is still in deep trouble with hard questions requiring hard answers still lurking. Time will matter more than this election in where Detroit lands.

Perhaps the greatest result from the polling was in Virginia and New Jersey, where Republicans won governorships. This may be a bad sign for the Obama Administration, especially as he campaigned heavily for the Democratic incumbent governor there, visiting the State five times yet losing it for his party. Is this a precursor to a 2010 backlash against the big winners of 2008?

Maybe so, maybe no; again, only time can tell us that. It would not be unusual for the party in power to suffer a setback of some sort in the bi-elections. In fact, such a thing is typical. But it is heartening to see what one can only hope is a glimpse of a more positive future for conservative and Republican candidates. No doubt Mr. Obama and his allies are reading this morning's political analysts closely.

Monday, November 2, 2009

The Lions

A 17-10 loss to the St. Louis Rams, a team which had been threatening to eclipse the Lions' woeful 19 game losing streak, leaves me wondering if Detroit Football fans will ever get to cheer for a winner.

Do what I do: root for someone else. As a proud Pittsburgh Steelers fan I have seen a few winners in my lifetime. It's not bandwagon hopping, either: I choose the Steelers after Franco Harris' so-called Immaculate Reception in a 1972 playoff game two years before they won their first Super Bowl. It was team which cried out excitement.

The Detroit Lions on the other hand simply cry out. They have for almost 50 years now. Sure, they've crept near to opportunity, yet they've never quite grasped it. They can't even make themselves into lovable losers like the Cubs or Mets. They're just losers.

Until a major change takes place, give up on them. They aren't worth the effort.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

I'm Becoming a Curmudgeon: Part Eight in an Everlasting Series

Last night, of course, was Halloween. It's a decent enough little spot on the calendar, and I as much as anyone enjoy seeing the kids and passing out the candy.

Passing out candy to the kids, I should say, because it seems that more and more older teens still want their hand in the till, so to speak. Our neighborhood saw trick or treaters smoking, of all things, yet still with their hand out for treats. For crying out loud, where are your parents?

Oh, they're in the cars driving the kids the around. You know, so they can help them gather more loot by covering more territory. And stay in the warm car instead of hiking about the cold streets and actually being with their kids. Way to bond with your family, bozos.

Several kids, upon getting only one piece of free candy had the nerve to tell me, "I'm a big guy," meaning, 'Give me more.' Get lost, punk. One to a customer. I ought to take back the one I gave you for that bit of cheek.

Then, too, many of the revelers didn't even bother with a costume. Get with the program, you little twerps. If you want me to pony up, entertain me by wearing something unusual or scary or something. Other than the obligatory presidential Barack Obama mask (okay, that was truly scary) it was obvious that the only patrons costumed were those whose parents cared about following the rules of the day.

Come on, folks, make the evening festive. Walk door to door, don't trick or treat if you're over 20, and don't be rude or selfish. It's only going to make guys like me swear off the day, and where will you be then?

Yeah, I know, egging my house. I know your type. There were o so many of you at my door yesterday.