Thursday, March 31, 2011

The National Pastime begins a New Season

Baseball is continuity. Pitch to pitch. Inning to inning. Game to game. Series to series. Season to Season.

- Ernie Harwell

No, those are not the usual words with which Mr. Harwell used to inaugurate a new baseball season. Yet they serve as a reminder, in this first full season without him, that the game goes on. Even the great ones such as Ernie Harwell recognize and love that aspect of the game. It is always with us in a way in which the other major sports simply are not.

The 2011 season begins today. That continuity which he spoke about goes on. That triumph of Americana begins again. The first pitch will come today in many areas, tomorrow in others, but it comes. The Boys of Summer are here, and no doubt Ernie has the best seat in the house.

Play ball!

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

The War in Libya and American Politics

The old saying goes, "The more things change, the more they stay the same". It certainly seems to apply to President Barack Obama and the art of war.

Ronald Reagan was routinely criticized for his use of the military in areas of the world where we presumably had no interest. In that light it is fascinating to see the current Chief Executive railing against Libya. As John McCain said, Obama's policy with regards to that north African nation is simply that Gadhafi must go.

On the surface, that appears to be a much stronger attack on a foreign nation which has offered no real threat to us since, well, since President Reagan laid the smackdown on it back in the 1980s. Yet the media doesn't seem to mind Obama's warmongering. Why?

In part because it's a liberal leader rather than a prototypical right wing reactionary (in their minds) leading the way. But surely part of it lies in the fact that the only real area of American politics where the President holds a tremendous amount of sway is in foreign policy. Combine this with the fact that Obama and the Democrats are in trouble at home with the 2012 elections looming, and we see what is truly their inspiration: they want and need a foreign policy victory, especially one which is easily painted as being in support of freedom for the Libyan people, in order to shore up the chances of a better result for the Democrats and their President two Novembers from now.

We are not saying this is all the reason for their support of the Libyan rebels, but it is surely a huge factor in their rationale. In short, don't give the President too much credit. He's really only using Libya to fight his own political war stateside.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

A Question on Global Warming

There are concerns being expressed by weather watchers that April could find many areas of the nation looking at recorded snowfalls. This isn't all that unusual; it was only about 6 years ago that Detroit had around 7 inches of snow on April 7th, and as we had up until late yesterday a winter storm watch for our neck of the woods. Indeed, snow flurries have occurred in the Motor City recently as late as the 22nd of April. Late snow just isn't big news around here.

Until you factor in that hobgoblin, global warming. If we are warming up too much, why are temperatures staying so low so far into the spring? To be sure, that is not the easiest question to address, as there are myriad factors involved in what creates our weather. But to hear the global warming crowd, there is only the one factor: us.

We recognize that there are rarely any nicely gradual changes in our climate, and that even presuming global warming to be true cannot mean that changes in our weather will occur on a steady, sliding scale. But again, that seems to be more of an argument against rather than for any kind of spectacular climate change. Why ought we assume that something on a scale almost unimaginable will happen when all credible evidence suggests that nature moves slowly, and sort of back and forth? It rocks, but doesn't roll.

Yes, there are convoluted explanations by the scare mongers which assert that these cold spells in fact support their point. Yet until we can see something straightforward and easily explainable, our money will be against them. It's the safe bet in light of their shrill tone.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Morals are not Consensual

One of the most pervasive while also one of the most ridiculous arguments in favor of certain presumed freedoms is the one about consenting adults. Simply put, it makes moral a given action on the grounds that the folks involved are in agreement as to their joint participation. It is ultimately a wholly untenable position.

To begin with, if all that is required to make something ethically acceptable is the agreement of the parties involved, then we really ought to allow duels. The (presumably) two participants agreed to take shots at each other. So no matter how barbaric, as they freely entered into the contract we would have to let them fire away.

Absurd. Yet when applied to other moral questions, and prostitution for example is one key area where the adage is often used, it is something accepted as axiomatic. The truth is that you would be on stronger ground simply to argue that paying for sexual favors is not in itself wrong rather than to say it's okay because there was no coercion.

The mere fact that people are willing to sell themselves that way while there are also folks willing to buy the, ahem, product, in fact reeks of coercive effects on its own standing. One person wants money, the other wants something which money can buy. A certain coercive effect is in fact at work. Still, even setting that point aside begs the question. The best answer is that nothing is good solely because those involved want to to do it. The act in question must be good on its own stead lest those involved be acting on mere impulse or selfishness. Or, indeed, actual immorality.

This is not to say that a free will act without pressure isn't a factor in moral decision making. It goes without saying that for most personal acts to be moral they must be entered into with a reasonable amount of freedom. In marriage, for example, both the man and the woman involved must do so of their own consent. Yet a hypothetical marriage between a man and a woman both of whom are free to marry is itself already moral. We are in fact beyond the issue of the morality of the potential nuptials by the time the question of will enters the fray.

In short, when considering the rightness of something there are two questions at hand. The first and most important query is whether the act is morally right, seen objectively, on its own. The second is whether those involved are the proper parties to it. Their consent is never a point until after the moral correctness of the action is assured.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Sunday Musings

Vice President Joe Biden has warned that the Democrats could lose the Senate in the 2012 elections. Isn't that something we've known for several months now, though? With so many more Democratic seats up than Republican (by a count of 23-9) and five open seats, and as the GOP only has to win four seats to take the Upper House, it seems a slam dunk even if the economy rebounds drastically in the meantime. The best guess is that the Republicans will take over almost regardless of what happens between now and then. The only real question left for 2012 is whether the President gains another term.

There is significant debate within the GOP over funding for Planned Parenthood. This is something for which there should be no debate at all. What business does the government have in so directly shaping families? Particularly through a group which was started as a subtle way of preventing the growth of minorities and other presumed undesireables? What does it say about the liberal intelligensia when they have effectively demanded support for an organization which exists to eliminate targeted segments of the population?

Indeed, why aren't the liberals calling out Planned Parenthood on the question? They certainly don't mind dismissing our founders as racist despite the great good they have done for ourselves and in our history, yet they will not hold the same standard against the founders of an organization which supports them. Apparently, political souls are only skin deep. If you'll pardon both puns within that sentence.

Geraldine Ferraro has passed away at the age of 75. She deserves our prayers as any and of all of the dead should. For although there is much analysis of her political life, none of that should matter today. History will again take up her cause, such as it will, at a later date. For now, requiescat in pace.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

George Washington on Religious Perspective

And let us with caution indulge the supposition that morality can be maintained without religion...reason and experience both forbid us to expect that national morality can prevail in exclusion of religious principle.

- George Washington, from his Farewell Address

We have said many times that morality, indeed any issues of right and wrong, must have a God of some sort behind them. Without an objective norm to fall back on, any and all questions of good and evil, even issues of simple prudence, are nothing more than your word against mine. In such a case, problems would be resolved only through might makes right, whether at the hand of a single tyrant or that by the hand of that tired old saw consensus, which is but a name for the tyranny of the majority. We must do right because it is right on its own terms as instituted by the Creator of the natural law.

Consensus cannot make something right. Consensus is merely what the majority of the people at a given time happen to want and which they are able to subject the upon the minority through force; what we obliquely call the rule of law. Do we honestly believe that such is the best way to create good law and rational public policy?

Obviously it is not. We require a Supreme Being, a supreme and final Law, in order to do well and avoid evil. To those who object, which God?, we say, the one whom philosophy, not religion, insists is there. From that point we can safely speculate on how such a being would expect us to act. It is then when we start to cross into religious principle because at that point we begin to realize that people are special, that doing wrong against them is an evil in itself because it is an affront to their dignity as individuals. A dignity they have by virtue of their humanity, as given them by God. It does not come from them or anything they do.

So there is no reason to base morality and law on anything slippery such as convention, which can and will change as generations do. We need that eternal sense, that eternal reality, if we are to make a good society, and become good people. For any ideal of dignity must come from the religious ideal that everyone deserves proper respect. That cannot come from any simple human act. It can only come from above, overarching each individual. We recognize that and live accordingly, or we slowly perish.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Check Lanes for Drunk Driving

Something which we are seeing more and more often, at least here in Michigan but it seems safe to assume that it's happening in many areas of the country, are drunk driving check lanes. The idea is to capture drunk drivers before they can do any harm. On paper, it isn't a bad idea. Yet other ideas on paper, such as our Constitution, my well be at odds with it.

Why should anyone be pulled over merely to see if they are driving legally? Aren't we supposed to be innocent until proven guilty? Aren't the authorities supposed to have reason to detain us, let alone inspect ourselves in our private vehicles (vehicles as private as our own homes, in moral if not legal fact) before they can take action against us? Why do we tolerate such violations of our basic rights?

Because we are fighting drunk driving? While drunk driving is of course reprehensible and irresponsible, to say the least, is it ultimately justifiable to allow anyone's rights to be ignored simply in a preemptive attempt to prevent crime? Isn't a crime supposed to happen, either in fact or in full view of law enforcement, before it can be addressed? As bad as drunk driving is, why should it get a free pass when questions of our civil liberties are involved?

We may be told that it is in part because driving is a privilege. Well, there's a bit of a moral issue with that. Why isn't driving seen a right as much as working freely within the job or housing markets? It is, you know. Any competent human being, one willing and able to follow the legitimate rules of the road, has the moral right to operate a car. As such, the state, no matter how many of its own rulings or assertions to the contrary, cannot prevent an otherwise free person from driving. It must allow anyone to drive for which there is no compelling reason to keep them from doing it.

From there it must presume, until there is compelling evidence otherwise, that that person is driving well and competently. Anything less is an infringement upon that guy's rights.

This is not to defend drunk driving, though we shall be accused of such. It is to defend law abiding citizens. Isn't that why we have laws to begin with? If so, then we must apply the true spirit and the rule of law properly and equally across the board, no matter how justified we may feel with allowing certain exemptions. If we are not doing that, then we have something worse than drunken drivers staring in our faces. We have nothing short of tyranny rambling towards us on the very roads we hold sacred.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Insult to Injury?

In one of those rather bizarre news stories, it turns out that the underwear bomber who attempted to destroy an airplane in Detroit at Christmas in 2009 chose our fair city because it was a cheap destination. Really.

It is a tale which kind of adds insult to injury, in light of the city's recent Census borne woes. We weren't even a target for any of the reasons which one might expect of terrorists: a dense population, perhaps to harm manufacturing, maybe even bring the war on terror to a center of Arab Americans for whatever insane purpose. But no, Detroit was chosen because it offered a better price.

Not that that makes the incident any less heinous, of course, nor any less a threat. Indeed, the approach has been interpreted by some analysts as a reason that the Yemen based branch of Al-Qaida has become more of a threat to the US in general than the presumed big boys in Afghanistan. It makes the entire war seem more random, more directly aimed at the American people than towards mere symbols of Americana.

Still, because there were cheap flights here? It would be downright comical if it wasn't so dangerous. And that's the salient factor which must be kept in mind. They want to bring the war right into the heart of our nation. By any means necessary.

That is why this war will be so difficult to fight. Al-Qaida and the like rely on the unknown and unexpected. They take advantage of it. We ignore that fact to our peril. They will try to come right down to into our own backyard. Wherever that backyard may be.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

A Leaner Detroit may Not Be So Bad

Can Detroit turn a loss into a long term gain? that is the question being asked now that the Census figures are out, showing the Motor City's population is now less than what it was in 1910, an entire century ago.

The numbers are being disputed in certain corners, yet that really isn't particularly important. It doesn't take a brain surgeon to see that the City is way down from its both recent and extended past. The simple fact is that, with a few exceptions in areas of town which seem more oases than anything else, where a commitment to neighborhood has stayed in place, as folks have found greater prosperity they've a dying Detroit.

Indian Village, Woodbridge, Corktown, Old Redford; these and a few other areas are strong because the people there believe in them. That's something that a government can't really ensure, a government at any level. True, it can help by providing the stability of services which make neighborhood possible. It can make sure there is adequate police protection and that the trash gets picked up. On the whole, Detroit has had questions about those and other areas of legitimate public function for years.

Things appear brighter now, what with hip hop mayors out of the way and a serious respected local hero is running the show. Detroit can survive; she will simply have to do it with fewer numbers. Yet there is a strength in that. It should be easier to service the city with less to service. Ultimately, all we can do is hope and pray, and for those of us still here, keep the faith. In the end, that's all that accomplishes anything worth doing.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

The New Libertarian?

Have you ever noticed that libertarian and liberal both begin with the same five letters? Is it a coincidence, or not?

There are indeed folks who have begun to call themselves 'liberaltarians'. It is as though libertarians are seeing the light.

Somewhat, anyway. The precise nature of the change in heart isn't really important. The fact is that libertarians are a bit of a schizophrenic bunch: liberal on social issues while conservative on fiscal matters. It is fair to ask if you can have it both ways and maintain any philosophic consistency.

Can one really be fiscally responsible in public policy while essentially arguing that social responsibility is a radically different question? Why do we have the freedom to do almost anything we want personally (provided it does not violate that vague and rather self-serving platitude: so long as it doesn't harm anyone else) yet have no such similar freedom politically? Indeed, how can one reasonably argue that financial discipline and personal discipline do not go hand in hand? If you are no good at the one it is doubtful you can be particularly effective at the other.

In short, libertarians are essentially liberals who happen to like fiscal discipline. Yet such is like getting blood from the proverbial turnip. If folks are not personally disciplined they are not likely to be publicly disciplined. After all, we reap what we sow. Sow freedom, reap freedom, with all the errors that must grow from that field. But sow justice, the idea that some things are really right and others really wrong on their own merit, and we improve society by having bettered ourselves.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Hey Lady Gaga: We Were Born This Way Too!

Lady Gaga, that icon of the current music world, has had one of her songs effectively censored by the good folks in Malaysia. It seems that that nation's Muslims do not approve of her song 'Born This Way' which preaches as only the modern shallow philosophers of popular culture can, that we should accept homosexuals and so-called transgendered folks for what they are, because, of course, they were simply born that way.

Indeed. To be fair, we are all born with certain proclivities which may present us with various challenges both within ourselves and in dealing with other people. We may well have no control over exactly what our DNA have left us. But once we begin to think that, merely because we are born with these issues perhaps inherent within our individual selves, we may act upon them any way in which we like, we fail to ask ourselves many important questions.

Must we act on our impulses? If so, then free will is right out the window, and we are no more than animals. We invite nothing less than anarchy at all levels of society. The most delicious irony within this point is simply that if homosexuals, etc., have the right to act on their impulses merely because they were born that way, then the anti-homosexual person must have the right to bigoted as they too were only born that way as well. There is no other way such a belief can be applied consistently.

Can we not judge whether we should act on our mere appetites? One must think so. This is an idea which applies even within what can surely be seen as generally reasonable actions: we desire food, but if we eat every time something tempts us we shall become overweight and out of shape. A husband and wife may have the right to engage in heterosexual sex, but they cannot act on the impulse in the main aisle of a supermarket. In short, even with the things we have the general right to do we find rational limits over when, where, and to what degree we ought to engage them.

But the bottom line is this: if being born a certain way means the right to act upon the matter in whatever way we alone see fit, then person A, born with an ill temper, has the right to punch person B in the mouth when angry at him. After all, dear old person A was only born that way. How can we hold who he is against him?

Sunday, March 20, 2011

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.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Democracy in Wisconsin

Can there be any question anymore about the true state of the Democratic Party? Can their intent be any more clear, now that they have ran to the courts (as they always do) rather than actually trust in the will of the people? They ran to the courts, which are, of course, the very least democratic section of our national, federal, scheme?

Their actions in Wisconsin speak volumes about what the Democrats really want from our national society. The events in Wisconsin tell us all we need to know about what the liberal intelligensia desires. They want force; they want coercion; they want what they want, regardless of the will of the American people or, more importantly, of what's actually right. And they will force it down our throats any way they can.

A judge, an unelected and essentially autocratic bureaucrat, has ruled that the recent actions in Wisconsin be delayed, on the grounds that they violated the state's open meetings act. Yet it ignores how they might possibly have a meeting of any kind when the state's Democratic leadership hid like cowards rather than face what the will of the citizens of Wisconsin decreed. The Democrats ran away from their responsibility, and then had the gall, the unmitigated gall, to charge that the Republicans were the ones actually at fault.

We see the true colors of the liberal Democrats now. They preach democracy...until it goes against them. They preach the will of the people...until they do not share the will they claim to say they find so valuable. They preach why can't we all get along...until they decree that they cannot get along with the rest of us.

Wisconsin speaks for the Democratic Party. The rest of our great nation should listen.

No Support for NPR

The House of Representatives has voted to end all funding for NPR, or National Public Radio. It is precisely the kind of move which, even if only symbolic, the GOP must make in order to show that there are real differences between the them and the Democrats.

Defenders of NPR will assert that this is nothing more than a partisan vote. It almost surely is; but notice the partisanship of the defenders. Why should we automatically take Republican partisanship as evil while Democratic partisanship is not? The Democrats want NPR funded because their supporters want it. Period.

Who is the more nonpartisan, though, if such can be ascertained? Well, seeing as government support of radio, any given radio, it should be emphasized, is at best an argument of dubious import, it is fair to question whether any government anywhere ought to pay to help keep certain stations on the air. In short, funding NPR is a luxury by any rational measure, even when the coffers are full to overflowing. Paying for radio when we face the deficits we do is simply absurd.

Why can't the left pay for their own radio? Right wing radio certainly is able to support itself. If left wing radio can only survive with government help, then that in itself tells us all we need to know about NPR and its supporters. They don't mind making us pay for their listening enjoyment through our taxes, but they won't pay for it themselves. They don't legally stealing our tax dollars to fund their programs, yet aren't about to put out more of their own cash to support what they say they like.

If there's a practical definition of hypocrisy, that's it. Hopefully the voters are taking notice, and throw the rest of the bums out in 2012.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Do We Really Need to Recycle?

Today is the day that we take our recyclables to the recycling center. As I've mentioned before I'm not particularly a fan of recycling. That does not, however, mean I am diametrically opposed to it.

Unless I miss my guess, I think the conservative position on recycling is akin to the conservative position on almost everything else: if it's necessary, truly useful, advances the safety of human beings or, quite frankly, if it pays without violating any moral norms, we are open to it. This list by no means exhausts the questions we might have about recycling or any other issue. It merely sets the table for discussion.

We are not, no matter what liberals may say about us, obstinately opposed to change. We only ask that the change is genuinely worthwhile or serves a greater purpose than what we were doing before. There's no point being fools about it: if recycling is what we have to do to keep planet Earth habitable for us, then we should do it. I am not convinced that it saves the planet all that much wear and tear. I am merely stating that if it can be reliably demonstrated that without recycling we, or our heirs, will die out due to our lack of proper stewardship, then we ought to recycle heavily.

The trouble is that I don't see that being the case, and the burden of proof must lie on the shoulders of those who think it is rather than on those of us don't. It is fair to ask: why must I change my habits because you think it good? Give me something concrete and we'll talk. Otherwise, I am well within my rights to wonder whether anything projected over a large scale is actually predictable. Telling me that without recycling we'll be piled with trash or run over with landfills within a couple hundred years is nonsense on its own face. Scare tactics merely scare. How about a little rationality, a little perspective? If you're right, the sanity of your cause will come through.

Why shouldn't I ask whether the process will pay me? It strikes me that we give away paper, plastic, glass jars and so on, solely for someone else to benefit from it. If it pays, why can't I get paid for it? The answer, essentially, is that these products don't really pay anyone unless given to them. They must be had in large quantities or they aren't worth handling; the true value of those products are virtually nil. Yet I can and have gotten cold hard cash out of my scrap iron, aluminum, and copper. Why? Because they hold a decent value even after their initial use. Even now I am willing to concede that if there is a greater necessity, something beyond monetary value which I ought to consider, then I should consider it. If we will die out by about 2025, or especially by next Tuesday, without recycling, then let's do it and forget about who gets paid what. Otherwise, it's just scare tactics again.

Is recycling truly useful? Certainly for a few, but for the general society? You're asking that a lot of people go to a significant effort to turn in garbage; again, where is the empirical proof or practical reason for it? I'm not all that interested in how recyclables are used outside of that context. So there are playgrounds where shredded old tires can soften a kid's fall: would there be no other ways of doing this, ways perhaps better, with new materials? I don't know the answer. I'm only asking. But I am within my rights to expect a good answer.

As it stands now, my attitude is live and let live. If you want to recycle, then recycle. Only don't force your preferences upon me without just cause. Your say so, no matter how heartfelt, is not good enough.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Nuclear Power is a Moral Issue

It is often said, when discussing certain social issues, that we cannot legislate morals. Do you know the right response to that question?

In a word, poppycock. There is a better word, to be sure, but decorum will not allow its use here.

We can and we must legislate morals. Further, every decision ever made by every legislature, parliament, congress, diet, knesset, or whatever else you want to call it, was an action predicated on a moral decision. Making us drive on the right side of the street is based on the moral axiom that we require order. Forcing parents to send their kids to school, let alone feed and clothe them, is a moral choice that parents are obliged to do that for their progeny. Trying to force health care down our throats is a moral decision by the government that we need it, however erroneously felt. Whether or not to use nuclear energy, especially in light of the current tragedy playing out in Japan, is a moral question.

We can and we must legislate morals. We do it all the time. The only real questions are which ones, and under what circumstances.

Monday, March 14, 2011

March Madness 2011

Well, it all begins again this week. March Madness, the NCAA Men's basketball tournament, starts with the so-called 'First Four', a round of play-in games whereby the field is expanded to 68 rather than 64 teams. And all in the name of, well, what?

Okay, so Michigan and Michigan State have made the grid, so at least there's a certain amount of good sports news for our local heroes. But beyond that, what are we actually seeing demonstrated by this roundball excess? What's it all about?

In a word, cash.

Do the First Four, or more precisely, first eight teams really have a chance at winning the whole tourney? Of course not. We will not see the University of North Carolina at Asheville even in the final 16 teams, let alone the Final Four. Yet they anxiously grab at the opportunity to somehow be associated with the tournament. Why do they want to be such patsies? Don't they know they're being, ahem, played?

Oh, right, the cash. They get a little money and and little prestige through being associated with the madness.

This isn't about sports excellence. This isn't about who ought to actually play for the championship; does anyone really believe that there are 68 teams who deserve to play for it? Please. This isn't even about the game itself. It's about the money.

When you give that one moment's serious thought, it's really rather sad.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

The Japanese Tragedy

Japan currently faces a crisis worse than any it has seen since World War II, at least by the analysis of several news interpreters. The chance of a nuclear holocaust has been painted with a wide brush by many reporting agencies in the West.

But is there any realistic chance of that happening? Will we really see any complete meltdown? The Japanese government seems to think it has it all under control: "At the risk of raising further public concern, we cannot rule out the possibility of an explosion," Cabinet Minister Yukio Edano has said (addressing concerns about cooling at one of the facilities in question). "If there is an explosion, however, there would be no significant impact on human health."

It seems, then, that they are responding in proper reaction to the earthquake/tsunami crisis: preparing for the worst, but confident of the best. So why is the western press acting so much like victim of hysteria? A simple internet search this morning shows that CNN, Time, and several other news sources are overrun with concern about nuclear disaster. Why not just report the news as it happens, rather than sensationalize?

Because that doesn't drive viewership to them. That point alone tells us more about the state of the world than the horrific troubles in Japan, The Japanese address real threats; CNN stokes the coals of fear.

Who truly is concerned with the welfare of the average Joe?

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Let American Football Die as a Sport

Football features two of the worst aspects of American life, violence and committee meetings.
George F. Will


Pity all the poor owners and players in the National Football League. Why, they just can't seem to come together on an agreement to divvy up all those hundreds of millions of dollars in a way satisfactory for them all. It, it, simply brings a tear to the eye.

Not. Most emphatically not.

So the NFL players association has decertified itself. Big whoop. The owners have instituted a lockout. Double big whoop. So now the players can sue the NFL as individuals against a monopoly. Really big whoop. You mean it wasn't effectively a monopoly anyway? Just like the players union itself was not a monopoly? By all that's right in the world, there ought to have been a Detroit Lions union (okay, so that does invite all kinds of jokes, buy let that be as it may) or a Green Bay Packers union rather than one big union anyway if monopolies weren't involved.

The best thing that can happen now is for the entire 2011 season to be lost; indeed, for modern professional football as a sport to be knocked down a few pegs. The league, the players, and the very game have become far too arrogant and self aggrandizing. Celebrating savage hits as something to marvel upon? Life threatening injuries are interpreted as 'part of the game'? Incessant trash talk and unsportsmanlike conduct on the field (too many actions on the field are nothing more than in your face insults which no true sport ought to tolerate). Why not let's go back to the Roman Colosseum for our blood for sport?

Why, football is such a great game that it can only be played once a week. That's a testament to how big and tough football players are, to be sure. Yessir, we're big and tough, not like you baseball and hockey and basketball weaklings who play several times a week. Real men, we NFLers are.

Let the NFL die, and let its fans watch it. They may find that there are better things in life. Such as getting one.

Friday, March 11, 2011

What Peace Costs

From time to time in my life I have heard people remark that they are against war, all war; indeed that they oppose any kind of violence at all. They are for peace. Peace solves everything.

I beg to differ. It is a wholly untenable position to hold. Would no sane man or woman knock a criminal on the head with a rock if it meant the saving of lives? Would no country with any claim to a good moral standing not go to war to prevent a tyrant's rule? While violence and war must always be a last resort, it is, sadly, almost exclusively by violence and war that evil is kept in check. It is generally the threat and use of force which keeps people in line. For people will do bad things if they think they can get away with them, and will do so often enough despite the chance of violence against them hanging over their heads. If we approach them with no intention of eventually having to aggressively force them into right behaviors if need be, and they know that, we will soon enough have no stable society worth our participation. We surely will not have peace.

Peace did not end the Holocaust or drive Hitler from power.

Peace did not bring about the end of slavery in the United States.

Peace does not apprehend criminals nor rehabilitate them.

Peace only works among the peace loving. It almost never will turn the heads of those who hate for the sake of hatred, no matter what the treacly entreaties of the peaceniks assert.

Seeing as we live in an imperfect world, one which, quite frankly, shall never be perfect without divine intervention, the price of peace must ultimately be anarchy. At that point, will the Department of Peace flower, or simply become a seed crushed against the ground and bake, exposed, in the sun?

The cost of war is, needless to say, grim. But from the greatest human costs come the greatest things, if properly driven, and without any loss of human dignity. Indeed, I rather believe that our dignity is enhanced when we stand for the greatest things. We stand for nothing when we stand for what will not work.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Ash Wednesday, 2011

Yesterday was one truly awful day. Everything which could go wrong did. Everyone wanted everything now, this instant, without regard for what everyone else wanted or needed. The telephone rang incessantly, much to the consternation of the folks waiting at my counter for service, or those desperately wanting their repairs done before anyone else. And not a one of them wanted to be told no.

I nearly lost my temper with more than one customer; I nearly lost my patience and temper with my Dad, something I have never done, something I would mortified over if I actually ever did; most decidedly, not something I want to start doing when he's 75. It was as though getting anything accomplished required the movement of, not merely a mountain, but an entire range.

Then we went to get take out fish dinners from our Church, it being Ash Wednesday and all, only to discover when we returned home that the cod was baked, not fried. I have never been to a Church fish fry and not have the cod actually deep fried. So it tasted okay, but it wasn't what any of us wanted. In all the day was so bad, I almost didn't go to Mass as I had planned. I just wanted to stay home and have a beer; beer, like any other liquid, doesn't violate the fast we Catholics are required to observe on Ash Wednesday.

I went anyway. It's good to begin Lent at Mass, but as the rest of my family had went earlier, it wouldn't be right if I didn't go myself. So I went, admittedly reluctantly.

Good move. During the sermon, Father reminded us where the ashes he was about to put on our foreheads symbolically came from: the palms laid before Christ when He triumphantly entered Jerusalem in the days before He was crucified. Lent is about His fasting and praying for forty days before that, so that He could fulfill what He came here to do. Of course, he came here to die for us.

Then the distribution of the ashes. "Remember, man, that thou art dust and unto dust thou shalt return." Sobering. Soon after, for our hymn of thanksgiving, we sang Panis Angelicus (bread of Angels), one of the most beautiful and glorious songs in the Catholic tradition.

I am overwhelmed and overjoyed that I went. Here I almost lost my temper with my father over a simple question on a simple clarification of a parts order. I barked orders at my brother, my coworker, and let more than one customer know, through gritted teeth, that I was doing the best I could and that they just had to wait a minute. I pitied myself that the fish wasn't precisely what I wanted though it was very good, and a lot more than many others may have had to eat yesterday. All the while thinking how awful my day was.

Then I am reminded, in stark and certain terms and forms, of the beauty of the man who gave it all so I might have it all, despite my anger and self pity and the raw fact that I don't deserve it. It was the right amount of perspective for the start of Lent. It made the day glorious, and made me humble.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

I Was Born a Rambling Blog

A couple of NPR executives, one now a former NPR executive, have been stung on tape criticizing the GOP and the Tea Party types. They are scary and racist, it seems. If that isn't an argument to completely defund NPR, then there isn't one at all. When the left has fell to simple hate mongering, and the label racist is a sure liberal move in that regard, then they have absolutely no credibility as a journalistic organization.

We are using less gas recently due to higher prices. That's kind of a good/bad thing, isn't it? It saves, or at least holds on reserve, a bit of petrol while keeping pollutants down. Then, too, traveling less means spending less, which is also a good/bad question: it keeps us from spending money on tripe, but surely can't help the general economy. Is there a real middle ground on questions such as these? Or does it all just devolve into trusting individual decisions?

We'll go with the individual choices.

China now has the world's largest mall, with a whopping 1% occupancy. Now Beijing intends to build 45 more airports, in response to the travel boom and the presumption that airports bring prosperity to the locals. They seem to working on the "If you build it, they will come" principle. Yet the one things you cannot easily do is command people to go somewhere or spend their money. That is the entire reason why command economies cannot work. You may well build the largest shopping center anywhere (which itself is a bit odd, considering that China is supposedly still communist) but that can't ensure success. All that does is mislead the people into thinking that their government actually does provide for them.

That's all, until the morrow, friends.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Right Wing Politics

I have spoken a bit in the past about how many shallow thinkers are knee jerk, and that liberals take advantage of that. I suppose it is only fair to allow that there are knee jerks across the political and philosophic spectrum. Of course there are; but the more conservative, more traditional thinking ones, however shallow their reactions may be, are safer than the rest.

Those who react to stimuli rather than act on principle, the ones who respond in selfish ways to the conditions in their lives instead of really thinking about what they might truly need or what may be best for society in general, pose a threat to everyone's well being. This includes, yes, right wing reactionaries. But they at least have principle on their side, however tenuously the connection may be. They are, dare I say it, on the right side. We must keep them in our camp for two reasons.

First, if someone is starting from the correct point of view there is a greater chance of leading them into holding the right attitudes for the right reasons. If the foundation is there, a sturdy building may be built. Second, in holding to the best principles they are themselves more likely to lead others into the fold. Perhaps their obstinacy may demonstrate to others that they might actually be on to something, especially considering that truth is its own best calling card, one which can be read even in the dimmest light.

Liberal knee jerks, however, on their own level teach selfishness. They may occasionally lead someone onto the path of righteousness, but that would be incidental in the way that a bad example is good as a lesson in error. Poor thinking by and large only leads to poorer thinking.

We see that in the sexual permissiveness of our society. One of the reasons, for example, that gay marriage is wrong is that acceptance of one type of error easily leads to acceptance of other errors. Once a taboo is broken, and that could be any taboo mind you, it is easier to break more even in seemingly unrelated areas. For we are creatures of habit, and poor habits in one aspect of our lives may lead to poor habits in others. If sexual morality is off the table as liberals wish, then it really is a short hop to wondering whether stealing is wrong. For the moral imperative, the Tao of C.S. Lewis if you will, is a whole. Disease in one part of society is bad for the entire community just as a cancerous lung threatens the whole body.

True, conservative knee jerks may drive people away by their callousness, and shame on them for that when and as it may happen. Yet even then, if we are to believe that we are actually responsible for ourselves, the person driven off is no less responsible for seeking the just and true. For we are still obliged to seek the true and the just and act accordingly. It is how we become better people.

So cut the right wing curmudgeon a little slack. He at least has tradition on his side. The left have only the shallow pool of selfishness. It can dry out in the sun. A pool of good thought is more readily able to become an ocean of justice. It will withstand the heat of the moment.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Public Schools: Education or Indoctrination?

The schools in the United Kingdom are being ordered to teach acceptance of active homosexuality at all levels and in all classes. Geography courses, for example, are supposed to address questions such as, why do homosexuals tend to move from rural to urban areas? Critics call this a waste of resources, and a distraction from education's real mission.

Indeed it is. Yet before anyone assumes that this will become a rant against a societal acceptance of active homosexuality, let us assure that it will be nothing of the kind. This instance will be used to illustrate what has become the actual mission of public education, not only here in the U. S. of A, but, it seems, elsewhere on the globe. Public schools are not so interested in teaching as they are in spreading propaganda. With a heavy trowel.

The British schools are to teach about homosexuality in all subject areas. This is no different in form that what was being taught right here in Detroit way back in the 1980s, right at the University of Detroit in its education classes. We were taught that we had to incorporate certain life lessons into our teaching.

One of the more innocuous examples involved a lesson plan for a biology class which stressed the importance of getting your shots and having a physical exam. While these things are good and important, why should we make students (as this lesson plan attempted to make them) harp on their peers to go to the doctor? What did this teach them about actual biology?

Nothing. Nor does talking to kids about homosexuals moving to the city teach anything about geography. Together, these two instances, years and nations apart but supported by a liberal mentality still preaching the same ideology, and nothing more, tell us what idea in fact drives modern education. It is the attempt to indoctrinate people to accept a certain agenda because it fits the bill of those who control the education establishment. Not only does this, in their minds, enlighten the young, but it sure is a lot easier than actually teaching a subject, and helping those young and developing minds to think for themselves. They will begin to support certain ideals without ever having really been allowed to question them.

Didn't Jefferson, that great promoter of schools feeding at the public trough, say something about questioning everything, just to be sure we understand the truth in the end? Apparently, the education elite didn't get the memo.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Carbon Footprint: No Big Deal

I have written several times about how unimpressed I am with the recycling fad which increasingly permeates our society. Today, I feel like writing a bit more.

Many of my conservative friends have latched onto the R-Train. "Conservative means conserve, right?" one asked me the other day. Another, holding out his plastic water bottle in demonstration, remarked that he "...didn't want to see this end up in a landfill." I fought the to urge to ask, why not? We were at a party to cheer up a sick friend, and I felt that good taste recommended not pursuing what can become a highly charged topic in such a setting.

But now I ask, why not? At our current rate we will have, in about 300 years, a total landfill area only about the size of Yellowstone Park. I see no landfills producing zombies or adversely affecting the water tables or local agriculture or industry or home life. Why not keep burying the trash?

A large part of conservatism certainly involves conserving various things and ideals. But that cannot mean that there isn't a necessary prioritizing of what we do. Fighting abortion, big government (which is, let's face it, greatly responsible for forcing recycling around our necks, which I think in itself makes the policy suspect), and the myriad factors of liberalism which threaten to tear our social fabric apart. To wit, the critical part of what we conserve must be our well being as a people along traditional lines. What we do with our garbage, while important, pales beside that.

So I say, screw my carbon footprint. There are more important things to worry about than whether we incinerate our debris or put it in a hole in the ground. Unless and until you can prove beyond reasonable doubt that those things are substantially harmful to the human condition, I can live with them. That's conservative environmental policy in a nutshell.

Friday, March 4, 2011

A Word on Education

An ongoing debate within the political sphere, one which has indeed been carried on since the dawn of the Republic, has been about the extent and nature of public education. it is time that we addressed the issue squarely, by stating unequivocally and emphatically that public education is not a right.

For starters, seeing as education is ultimately the obligation of the individual (if mature enough) or of the parents of young children, then it is up to the person or their moms and dads to see to their learning as much as to their housing, clothing, and food. Society should only step in when the individual or the family needs help, just as it does with housing, clothing, and food. This needs to be said emphatically and forcefully: if you are able to provide for your or your child's education then you should have to provide for it, not the rest of us.

Indeed, with all the blather which the purveyors of teaching at the public trough give towards such ideas as diversity, how much more diverse can you get than to leave education to parental judgment and inquiry? Imagine a world where parents send their kids to schools they like based on their ideas of right and wrong rather than having them indoctrinated by the often errant views of the general society, a society whose 'views' are all too often dictated by judicial and legislative fiat rather of by the rational analysis of the individuals who are more concerned with true education (it is their children involved, you know) than passing fancy? How much more diverse can you get?

Or is diversity not what they truly want? Is their real aim the propagation of erroneous creeds and disreputable acts? To wit, do they want diversity as diversity, which is really only different folks acting different ways with no regard to the value of those acts (something of which even traditionalists should be wary), or do they in fact want indoctrination, the acceptance and living of the acts they, the education elite, deem worthy? Do they really want diversity, or the interpretation of ideas in their own light?

But the bottom line is that education is not a right so much as a duty. When we live up to that, we live well. When we don't, we get whatever comes along. And exactly what we would deserve.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Libya and Domestic Drilling

The United States, as well as other nations in the world, are apparently considering military force to restore order in Libya while helping topple the long time government of Moammar Gadhafi. It will be interesting to see how such plans pan out.

Some kind of action may be necessary for humanitarian reasons. At least, that is the view of some supposed humanitarians; but would someone please say, 'Somalia?' Because as noble as it sounds, humanitarian endeavors into areas where government is failing if it exists at all are at least arguably the worst reason to enter into any semblance of war. Say what you will about Afghanistan and Iraq, in those places the US and her Allies were at least facing relatively organized governmental structures. There was and has been a certain order in those theaters of war. Does that exist in Libya anymore?

Is a merely peacekeeping role even possible within an anarchic environment? With overwhelming force, perhaps, but does the situation in Libya merit as much? To be blunt, if we need that nation's oil, yes...but we can and should do what we can to exploit our own domestic oil and wells before we could justify that. Does the Obama Administration have the guts to do that?

For let us be blunt once again: isn't the whole interest of the United States in the Middle East, no matter how justified (and under the current circumstances, we think it is) about oil? About energy? Well, why not exploit our own resources? Until the left allows us to do that (and kindly refrain from those tired calls for alternative energy, as nothing widespread and affordable of that kind will be available for at least a generation), we have little option but to keep a stake in Middle Eastern politics. As such, the blood of any US soldiers and sailors, should intervention occur, must be on the hands of American liberal environmentalists.

We say, increase domestic drilling and let Libya sort herself out. Let the Chinese and Europeans who buy a lot of Libyan oil fret over Libya's internal woes. All that will happen if we intervene at all is that whatever actions we take will be called wrong anyway, even by many within our own borders. It's time to drill our own oil, and let the rest of the world worry about their own energy needs.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Death to Save Money

There is an issue which is vaguely tied into the raging health care debate yet has not been seen as such to date. It is the question of the falsely labeled 'right' to die, and it will eventually become part of any health care plans formulated and, if you'll excuse the term, executed by the government.

The question is often dismissed as a merely religious one by those in favor or it. Yet as with a similar moral issue, abortion, it really is not a wholly religious position if it is even particularly religious at all. It is a philosophical question at heart, perhaps, yes, with religious implications, but grounded in philosophy nonetheless. Simply put, if you had no say in being born, on what grounds can you assert, outside of truly heroic situations, a right to determine when you leave?

But however true that rings it is on a bit of a tangent with regard to the politics of the issue and national health care. If the proponents of euthanasia are ever successful in securing a right to die the next step is as obvious as it is ominous: the right to die will become an obligation to die.

You don't think so? Imagine in the near future an 85 year old with severe health problems. He's 85 anyway, so how much longer may he hang on regardless? He will be asked, after that, how much of a burden do you really want to be on your family? Your friends? Society? Do you honestly believe that you should tie up limited resources when they may be used on someone who may actually be helped by them to a greater degree more than you? Should you burden everyone by making them watch you die slowly, watch you wither away despite everyone's best efforts? Save us the trouble, save you the trauma; take the shot and it will all be over quickly and peacefully.

It won't happen? When health care is rationed, and it will be rationed if the nation goes on far enough into the future, it absolutely won't happen? When bureaucrats control who gets what treatments, it cannot happen? Do you really want to take the chance that someday it won't be made to appear selfish that you simply want to live?

Mull that over, and then let me know what you think.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Global Warming?

February 2011 was the third snowiest month in Detroit weather history. We all know what that means: global warming, your Grandma's blue hair.

To be sure, there's probably some pseudo-scientific explanation which will attempt to explain the fact away. Pop science is not a force which does not give up easily on its far out presumptions. This is, we might be assured, an anomaly. Global warming is really, truly happening.

Tell that your heat bill.