Thursday, August 30, 2012

But What Does it Mean?

How we handle the Muslim world is obviously one of the trickiest tasks we face in the coming years. There is an awful lot of distrust of Islam and no real idea of how to allay the fears of it which many seem to harbor. Yet how we view and work with the Islamic world is nevertheless critical to our safety in the future.

So, how do we view Islam? That is a question which doesn't have an easy answer. The most logical point would be to look towards Muslim teachings for guidance. Yet that brings on a few difficult questions, not the least of which is: who exactly do we go to for answers?

There are many more sects within Islam than most folks imagine. A brief internet search reveals that there at at least five branches of the religion, dominated by the Sunni and the Shi'a with several smaller groups. Within Islam are four schools of thought, any of which are deemed valid to follow.

This rudimentary understanding of Islam really only heightens the problem. When there are many sects of a religion, coupled with the lack of any real hierarchical structure within it, then who actually speaks for Islam? The ones who preach peace or the ones who cry war?

Compare this to he Catholic Church, were we find a highly structured organization which can be approached as to the Catholic stance on such and such a question. We may not like what it says to us, but we cannot doubt what it means to say.

Unless we can find a source of Islam which speaks for all of Islam, can we actually ever know whether it as a movement can be trusted or not? This isn't to say that individual Muslims are bad people. As likely as not, the overwhelming majority of them are fine and outstanding members of their communities struggling with day to day life as most everyone else does. Yet do those folks speak for all of Islam when they speak, or simply for themselves as they see it no matter how heartfelt?

Without a final source on what Islam means it will be difficult to understand it more fully. And without such understanding, can the other hurdles ever be overcome?

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

You want Tolerance? Tolerate Me

We have pointed out many times the number of empty words, words often used without real meaning such as peace, freedom, and education. There are also words used with very definite intentions even though they appear to be innocuous. Perhaps first and foremost among them are 'diversity' and tolerance'.

We are told that we ought to embrace diversity and that we ought to be tolerant. Interestingly enough, the very first problem with these terms is no different than testing the use of calls for education or peace or freedom. When someone asks us to accept diversity and become tolerant, we must ask: tolerate what? Tolerate it why? Accept what type diversity? All of it, or only parts of it? For of course all that diversity really means is that A is different from B, and all tolerance means is allowing something to happen or be. It is only through the answers to these and other necessary follow up questions about diversity and tolerance that we can really know what the person is talking about or what they want us to do. And, of course, whether we should do it.

So you see, to actually understand what the preachers of tolerance and diversity want we find ourselves in the same boat as our friends who preach freedom: once we begin the discussion in detail, we aren't talking about toleration or diversity. We're talking about, at the least, acceptable personal and social behavior, and, at the most, good old right and wrong. For surely in asking those necessary questions we aim to draw conclusions about propriety or morals. Indeed, even the person asking for diversity must mean that they want you to accept what they support as right and true. If your compliance didn't matter to them, they wouldn't make any demands upon you. Indeed, if actually right and wrong didn't matter to them, they wouldn't ask for your deference because it wouldn't matter. Either that, or they are supremely stupid and selfish. We used to call those people boors, didn't we?

Another and better question to ask is, if all it's really about is accepting people as they are (which, you may notice, in itself only begs the same questions which pleas for tolerance and diversity and freedom and peace and education left to themselves do) then why don't you tolerate me? I'm diverse. All right, so maybe I am intolerant of your creed. Well, then. Put that in your pipe and smoke it too, if it's all about tolerance.

But, as we all know, it isn't about tolerance and diversity. It's about making the more conservative among us accept what we cannot. The fact of the matter is they surely do not appreciate our diverse opinions; they most certainly do not wish to tolerate us. And why? Simply because we disagree with them, and have the audacity to say so.

That leaves us with one final question. Who between us is truly audacious?

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Defund PBS

Among the cuts which Mitt Romney has proposed should he become President is to eliminate funding for Public Television. Needless to say, there has been and will be whining about losing programs such as Sesame Street and new Ken Burns documentaries. Not there's anything wrong with, well, Ken Burns documentaries anyway, but the one thing you can be certain that the defenders of PBS will yell from the mountaintops will be the shrill cry that federal funding of Public Television is a drop in the bucket compared to overall federal spending. It will be followed closely by, how will kids learn to read?

It should be hoped that parental involvement in their kids' lives' alone would address that question. Where it does not, it ain't likely Ernie and Bert will successfully fill the void anyway. Further, in this day and age where dozens upon dozens of channels offer a wide variety of programs, up to and including educational shows for kids and myriad documentaries as good as anything Ken Burns can offer, it is difficult to see that PBS could possibly be the only option for good television.

Yet the real issue is something beyond all that. The real issue is the flippancy with which many folks view federal spending in particular or government spending in general. Funding for PBS is next to nothing considering how many other ways Washington spends money; it is said as though we ought not worry about the minutiae when looking at government expenditures.

But how much minutiae is out there? How much of it is smaller than what the PBS is granted each year? If the tiniest of the government outputs are enough to justify government spending, then pretty soon we'll have government spending for everything so long as each line item is small. And this is before we even broach the question of whether governments at any level should be spending taxpayer cash on TV programs at all. Surely the dozens of other stations offer the public a tremendous choice of entertainments. There are great baseball documentaries out there not made by the prolific Mr. Burns.

This is not to pick on him or Big Bird. But it is to say that those who insist on funding PBS are barking up a tree. The funding, no matter how small, is still from taxpayers many of whom, for good reasons, may not want it spent that way. It still comes from a federal establishment too big which spends too much. Cuts to such as PBS ought not be spared for any particular reason. Indeed, they can be made with very good reason, if the arrogance of its supporters were to open their minds about the question.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Sunday Rantings

There is an attempt being made through the Michigan Legislature to ban certain types of ticket purchases. Apparently there is software out there which allows ticket brokers to almost instantly buy large amounts of tickets the instant the go on sale online; this prevents individuals from having a fair shot at a direct purchase for various events.

Ordinarily we are slow to support government involvement between private transactions, but this one has merit. As it is, small groups are able to control the free flow of commerce. This makes the proposed legislation something which would free up rather than restrict the markets for concerts and sporting events. That makes it a good thing.

Speaking of concerts and events, the Detroit Symphony Orchestra is scheduler to hold five free concerts later this year in the Detroit area. They apparently been off strike since April of 2011! We apologize, but we didn't notice. It does make us wonder how many others didn't notice either.

A reader pointed out, in response to our article yesterday, that the Detroit Occupiers do not own the buildings which they currently occupy. If he thinks this helps their position, well, it doesn't. If they're squatters, whether on city but especially if they're on private property, then they should be given the boot. If the properties have been donated for their use, then the Occupiers are hardly true to their principles. But we have become accustomed to this sort of inconsistency among, particularly, the extreme left. They want what they want solely because they want it, and such minor thing as consistency about philosophy are beneath them.

Kwame Kilpatrick must go on trial. Again. US Federal courts have said so. We don't know why and we don't care. We just want the Kilpatrick circus to move on. Detroit has enough issues without having him dragged through the legal system again and again. Perhaps there is good reason to keep up the pursuit. We don't care about that either. It's time to let Detroit move on, even if it means letting him skip out on a few things. We need to let it go, for our god, not his.

Neil Armstrong has passed away at the age of 82. He was, as we all know, the first man on the Moon. Godspeed, Mr. Astronaut. Godspeed.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Occupiers All Around Us!

The Occupy Movement is focused on Detroit this weekend. Hundreds of Occupy groups from around the United States, and even one from London, England, are in town this weekend to discuss regional issues and to determine how they might help urban areas.

It doesn't seem as though London can offer much advice on midwestern US questions, but so be it. The Occupiers have never really been a particularly cohesive bunch. Perhaps the Londoners can take in the Tigers-Angels game tonight so that they may see how we Americans have improved on cricket. Well, they way the Tigers have been playing, perhaps that isn't such a good idea.

But anyway, Occupiers from around the central US are in town to meet and discuss urban issues. As with so many other conferences held by so many other organizations, even organizations with higher callings than the Occupy Movement, there will be workshops, and they will be useful. "All of our workshops are solution-based," Diara Lo, a member of Occupy Detroit, assures us. That's good to hear. We've grown weary of all the workshops in our lives which have not been solution based.

What are these workshops anyway? Well, yesterday there was one on the role of the banks in the destruction of Detroit. Sadly, we missed it. And we were so looking forward to the part of the talk where poor voting and poor political leadership have hurt the city.

There are a couple of DA events today. DA is short for direct action. We couldn't find out what they were or who they were directed towards, however. They're probably protests, but it's okay if we don't know exactly what they're protesting. They're listed as optional events. As such, we advise skipping them. If it isn't important enough even among the organizers to be made mandatory, then it isn't important enough to participate.

Actually, every time we click on a link at the website which purports to let everyone know what's happening at this conference, there's really little or no detail. Everything has been placed in convenient time slots, yet all we're told is that there's a movie screening which doesn't tell us which movie, panel discussions which don't always tell us what's to be discussed, working group sessions which give no clue as to what's to be worked on, and entertainment sessions which don't give us a clue as to who is to entertain us, although we strongly suspect that poetry is involved. The last event, listed as Monday at 1PM, is a 'fun time and clean up', whatever that entails. Still, we can understand it to a point. Going home was always the best part of conferences.

All of this is emanating from a nice building on Michigan Avenue in southwest Detroit, and another one on West Chicago which is more centrally located. Apparently camping out on public property has become tiresome for the Occupiers. Any way you slice it, you can't get help in your cause is your cause isn't well organized, and you can't accurately inform people of anything when you aren't exactly informing people of what to expect from you. And that is precisely the weakness of the Occupy Movement. They are protesting conditions they don't like, which is okay so far as it goes, yet they don't seem to have any idea what to do in their stead. It's as though they believe that protesting, which is essentially telling someone else to do something about something which the protestors don't like, is enough to make your point and to effect change.

It isn't. But what's reality when something has to be done about The Man, dude?

Thursday, August 23, 2012

What's in a Number?

It is not unusual during an election cycle for politicians and pundits to play around with numbers. Numbers are used to impress people, although few people understand the numbers much less the manipulation of such numbers. The Democrats and President Barack Obama are relying on that as he attempts to be re-elected. They claim that the rate of spending increases under the President have been far less than folks believe.

Maybe so, maybe no. You can look over facts and figures here:

http://newsbusters.org/blogs/noel-sheppard/2012/05/24/msnbc-and-white-house-cite-bogus-report-claiming-obama-spending-binge

Or here:

http://hotair.com/archives/2012/05/23/correcting-obamas-spending-record-again/

Read these and the related links within them at your leisure, if dare or care to. They demonstrate that the rates of increase in federal spending under President Obama are far greater than he wants us to believe. But do the rates really matter? After all, if you earned a buck today but three dollars tomorrow you've increased your earnings 300%, but so what? Three bucks are nothing. But if you earned 50 grand last year and 55 this year, that 10% is huge.

So what really matters are the raw numbers. And the raw numbers are that Barack Obama has been spending a trillion dollars over budget for several years. That puts our current federal budget deficit at $5 trillion dollars. $5,000,000,000,000.

That says more than the rate of spending. And it tells us all we need to know when considering who to vote for in November 2012.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Detroit Illustrates Global Warming fears Unjustified

Yesterday, Metro Detroit was hit by a series of showers and thundershowers. None were severe, and there was no damage other than a bit of localized and minor flooding. It was not a particularly newsworthy event. Detroit experienced little more than a normal late summer day, except for one thing.

There wasn't supposed to be thundershowers. It was supposed to be a pleasant, sunny day. At least, that was the forecast as of Sunday, a mere 48 hours earlier.

That still does not qualify as as news. Or does it? Seen against the bigger picture, it may well be of note. When the specter of global warming is considered, where we are expected to believe in things which will not be for 50 to 100 years, or well into the future (Orwell?), there is something to give one thought. Seeing as weather predictions are based on computer models and that global warming forecasts are based on such things too, how can we trust the cry of global warming? If our presumed experts can't get a 48 hour weather projection right, how can we trust them to be correct over things they assure us will happen over an entire century?

To be sure, we'll be told that anomalies will occur. Certainly an anomaly of some sort happened between this past Sunday and yesterday afternoon's inclement weather which changed things significantly. Things do happen; no one disputes that. Yet it really only adds to the trouble. If what surely were minor glitches happened which changed our predicted weather in just two days so considerably, how many glitches might happen over one hundred years which would alter the likelihood of global warming as currently predicted? Indeed, how can we trust that science can accurately predict what will happen over the whole world over many decades when it can't necessarily predict what will happen in one small part of that same world over two days?

To be fair, our weather forecasts are generally accurate. They call for a series of sunny and warm days now in Detroit, and we will almost surely get them. Still, it seems that the inaccuracy of yesterday's forecast ought to be a serving of humble pie, not merely for our local weathercasters, but for their friends higher up the scientific food chain as well. If we can't be right in the short term when being right ought to be relatively easy, we must then predict the far future with greater reserve, a and quiet calm.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Why is Assange Hiding?

What is it about Julian Assange? His very name seems to incite venom of one type or another from both the right and the left. One says he's a traitor to (insert nation here) while the other says he's the penultimate defender of free speech. Meanwhile Sweden wants him on sexual assault charges. What to think?

As to the sexual assault charges, the idea that a conservative would be forgiven such things without being hauled through court leaves one to wonder whether women are being thrown under the train for the sake of allowing someone to expose state secrets to the world. That's not a pleasant thought; crimes against a person surely merit the full vetting process. And we wonder if hypocrisy is at work here as well. A cursory glance at what is happening with Missouri's Todd Akins over his views on rape demonstrates very clearly how the left can appear two faced on the supposed women's issues. Why are there no calls for Assange to face the allegations against him? He's accused of actual assault; Akins at worst was merely stupid.

Are the allegations false? That is more than we know. Yet we suspect that it is more than his supporters know as well yet for some reason don't care. Yet the charges are coming from Sweden, a nation not exactly known as bastion of social conservatism. At the end of the day, we only know that Sweden thinks enough to want to at least talk more to him about it. These charges are a separate item from whatever he did through Wikileaks. If they are mere smoke meant to draw him out for capture, well, let's just say that's it's awfully convenient that he finds the political asylum defense worth pursuit unless he finds a need to hide from something.

Which brings about point number two. He and his defenders can say whatever they want about open agreements openly arrived at, but until they recognize that that only works when everyone agrees to play fair they will never appreciate that there is a need for secrecy at certain times and certain places among nations, and perhaps even among friendly nations. If what he did amounts to espionage, then, quite frankly, the United States and several other nations may well have a right to haul him into court. It's as simple as that.

No one has the moral authority to leak state secrets solely for the purpose of leaking them. Like it or not, some things are confidential for very good reasons, reasons which go beyond any given individual's assumed right to know them. When the first nation willing to grant him sanctuary is one so far down the line of world order as Ecuador, it speaks volumes. Not the least of which are the tales of someone who has something to hide from.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Hawking May Be Right About Something

Eminent scientist Stephen Hawking has expressed concerns that extraterrestrial life may not be what we assume. Aliens may be dangerous rather than charitable and giving, he asserts in an upcoming Discovery Chanel special. If nothing else, cultures advanced enough to reach Earth may have an effect similar to the discovery by Europeans of the Americas: devastating to the so discovered.

Other scientists disagree: many believe a sophisticated alien race reaching our world could only be good.

Truth be told, we really don't know what to expect. Who's to say aliens would be bad? Or good? It's all simply presumption. That said, the only honest appraisal of contact with any given extraterrestrial life form would be the same as with meeting any given stranger on Earth: approach with caution, olive branch extended yet with the proper amount of reserve to counter their actions and intentions if need be.

Our science fiction has had a great propensity to view potential alien life as superior to ours in almost every way. It is good to see a prominent scientist point out that that may not be the case.

In the end it may all be conjecture. Presuming that other lives on other planets would face the same daunting tasks of physics as we do, interstellar travel itself may be little more than science fiction. The folks at SETI, the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence, seem to think that the best we can hope for is hearing them through radio transmissions. That sounds like the most reasonable prediction on the matter.

In short, the possibility of sentient life other than us in the universe is fun to discuss but nothing is likely to come of it. Still, it is good that Professor Hawking has sought to balance the scales. There's no good assuming that technical superiority means morally advancement.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Conservatives and Recycling

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.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

More Environmental Scare Tactics

This just in: mass extinctions could threaten life as we know it. At least, such is the belief of one John Alroy of Macquarie University in Sydney, Australia. His findings, after a study of fossil collections, concludes that when there are significant numbers of species extinctions there may be significant changes to the ecosystem. Indeed, it may alter the question of who is or is not the dominant species in any giving environmental arena. His research can be found in the latest edition of the journal Science.

The best initial reaction to this should not be shock. There are no grounds for panic here, despite the fact that it seems the world of science (meant here with the small 's') and the media want to use this as an example of how we humans are mucking up the planet. We are so smug, we humans, that we aren't even considering the possibility that we may advance ourselves from the top spot on the ecological pyramid. We may fall from the predator to the prey, if we aren't careful.

But to the point. It is not, in any way, an earth shattering conclusion that if some things change dramatically other areas may be altered as well. If you remove the key pitchers from the current New York Yankees or Tampa Bay Rays, you would likely have other teams competing for the American League lead in their division. Surely a look into the fossilized remains of 100,000 extinct species, which is what Dr. Alroy and his minions studied, was not necessary to realize that. In fact, it was almost surely overkill for an argument more philosophical than scientific, even if based on scientific data. It was not needed to found a conclusion based more on common sense than as a particularly scientific insight.

So, does this mean that humanity is doomed? No. Especially when the researchers and media types sprinkle their statements with all sorts of vague words and phrases. When we hear viewpoints such as, "Today's rate of extinction may be as great as 100 times the historic norm," as claimed by the people at Life Science, we wonder at what exactly is the threat made by the words may be as great. This followed by the rather astounding assertion of extinction rates 100 times the historic norm.

The columnist George Will famously says that, "If the data don't jibe with common sense, doubt the data." Or at the least, don't overstate its merely potential importance. For indeed that's all we have here: data which may, or may not, mean that we good folks are killing the Earth and ourselves in the process. Yes, of course we should be aware of it and serious consider the prospects to which it may lead. Yet that does not mean we are invariably bound for destruction. For two can play the what if game: what if it means that we are merely increasing our dominance? It may be that we are improving rather than destroying; our actions may be creating a better, and not worse, environment.

In the end, this is only so much more environmentalist fear mongering. If that's all they can bring to the debate, then we should not worry over their worries. It is far more disheartening to see how we hurt one another as people than as how we might, or might not, be affecting the lower species.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Direct Election of Senators

Much gets said about what's wrong with our government, but little gets said about concrete ways to fix it. To be sure, everyone seems appropriately concerned with the acts and laws of government being constitutional. Yet rarely does anyone actually address the document itself. There are things within it which could be changed or altered to better direct the workings of Washington.

Although he himself calls it a distraction, GOP Senate challenger Pete Hoekstra has actually come to support an idea which would radically change the US Constitution. He has expressed his support for the idea of repealing the 17th Amendment. Ironically, that's the one which put in place the direct election of US Senators.

He makes a good point. If senators were elected by state legislatures as they once were, then they could get back to their true job: representing the states as states. We are a federal system after all: it isn't as though the state governments should have no direct say in federal matters. They did when they sent Senators to Washington

Needless to say, his Democratic detractors are calling him a hypocrite. Yet what option does he have under the current system? If he's going to run for Senate he must do it under the current rules. That doesn't make him a hypocrite, but merely and obviously practical.

But let's call things what they are, under the current status quo. We have two Senators, Debbie Stabenow and Carl Levin, who will not be seeking the best interests of Michigan while in Washington. They are liberal Democrats supposedly representing what is currently an overwhelmingly Republican state. Republicans hold majorities in both State Houses, indeed an overwhelming one in the State Senate, as well as the Governor's chair. Stabenow and Levin cannot be seen to truly represent Michigan as they are diametrically opposed to the obvious will of Michigan residents as expressed in the November 2010 elections.

This is why we need to return to the days when state legislatures selected the representatives to the upper house of our national legislature. This is why we need to repeal the 17th Amendment and at least let the states select senators as they see fit, to best represent the entire state rather than a certain, liberal, out of touch constituency. For clearly Stabenow and Levin do not speak for the majority of Michigan residents.

The Senate was originally supposed to represent the states as states. We must remember that the states are political entities in their own right, and as such merit a certain independent representation at a national level. These days, a run for the Senate is no more than a popularity contest without regard for what may be in the best interest of the state. Indeed, without concern for the will of the whole state.

This is only for a start, to perhaps begin discussion. Sure, nothing will come of it as the special interests hold too much sway and federal power has become too entrenched. But Hoekstra is right. We need to repeal the 17th Amendment.

An interesting argument in favor of repeal can be found here: http://www.restorefederalism.org/?gclid=CLzYpJS357ECFcZQKwodUDUAAA

Enjoy.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Paul Ryan and the Church

Much hay is being made about the Catholicism of House Member Paul Ryan. Without a doubt, presumptive Republican Presidential nominee Mitt Romney tapped Ryan as his running mate in order to appeal to both the Catholic and fiscal conservative vote. Yet certain American Catholic groups, and we say that pointedly seeing as these groups are often at odds with Rome, are challenging Ryan's Catholicity.

Conservative American Catholics have long been at odds with groups such as the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops and the Leadership Conference of Women Religious. Quite frankly, the Vatican questions their devotion to Church doctrine. Conservative American Catholics do as well. Their use of the poor to support liberal ideals reeks of no less than political gamesmanship: if you don't support massive government programs alleged to aid the poor, you are not Catholic.

Bosh. An unstable economy cannot help the poor. A government which falls under the crushing weight of bureaucracy cannot help the poor. Any policy which allows groups of people to live without attempting to improve their lot cannot help the poor. Yet they can make the poor arrogant. This is witnessed by the attitude that society must help them beyond any other considerations, such as things of their own doing. Not all the poor are poor by circumstance.

When American bishops and nuns attempt to make American public policy a matter of faith they err considerably. Public policy after all is nothing more than how a nation spends its money. Isn't religion concerned with objects greater than that? What profit a man to gain the world and lose his his soul? Can this not apply to the poor who have come to rely on government largesse rather than themselves?

There is an arrogance at work here, yet it is not the arrogance of the wealthy. It is the arrogance of entitlement. It is the arrogance which asserts that certain folks cannot help themselves. It is the arrogance of groups such as the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops and the Leadership Conference of Women Religious who, rather than do the work of the Lord themselves, insist someone else must do it: namely, the government. They ask this without concern of the true mission of government, which is little more than to ensure that the Catholic Church and all other charitable groups are free to do their mission, the great part of which is to help the poor and downtrodden.

If you can only do your work with government aid, how much then are you relying on Providence and the Grace of God? Not nearly enough as to display your devotion to Faith.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Atheism More Deadly than Religion

The Independent, a British journal and website, has posted an article about research by one Frank Dikötter which has concluded that the genocide of Chinese peasants during Mao Zedong's Great Leap Forward of 1958-1962 was the worst atrocity of the last century. 45 million people were systematically killed in an attempt to bring the Chinese economy into the then 20th Century. Mr. Dikötter compared the mass murders to the gulag of Stalin and the Russian communists (as well as their other various purges and genocides) and the Holocaust driven by the Nazis. He even alludes to the Leap as on a scale of World War II, where around 55 million were killed.

Toss in things such as the Cambodian genocide of more recent times and even the 37 million killed during World War I and what have we? An awful lot of deaths at the hands of bloody revolutionaries, power mad tyrants, and even some through downright human stupidity. Yet other than the terrible human cost inflicted by the perpetrators of these heinous actions, what do each and every one of horrible events have in common?

The answer is as easy as it is obvious. Not one was committed by the hand or at the order of a religious sect, movement, or leader. They were all set in motion by wholly secular, atheistic forces. And we have not even delved into the many other yet lesser noted horrific initiatives which occurred during the same era.

Whenever someone tells you how bad religion is for the people, just remind them of the 1900's. Those years alone well display the fallacy of believing in a purely secular and atheistic worldview. God saves. Secularism kills; godless atheism kills as much as the atheist claims that religion does. It's really as simple as that.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

What Obamacare Will Cost You

The owner of the Papa John's pizza system, John Schnatter, says that his company will have to raise prices once the full weight of Obama care kicks in. The exact cost will vary due to several factors, but he expects it will be in the area of 15 to 20 cents per order.

That isn't bad, is it? So your pizza will cost another couple of dimes. It's nothing in terms of today's money, and worth it so that everyone can have Washington guarantee their good health, right?

If Obamacare were to only the affect the cost of Papa John's, absolutely. Yet what is so quickly forgotten, particularly by those who want government interference in our lives, is that that is only the tip of the iceberg. Your pizza will only be another twenty cents. But your fountain drink will be another 3 or 5 cents. Your groceries will be an extra few bucks per week. Going to the baseball, football, or hockey game? Then don't be surprised to find another few pennies against the cost of your tickets and food and souvenirs. And on and on, so on and so forth. Pretty soon, your weekly budget has gone up several dollars. Perhaps 50 or 60, depending on your ability to pay for all that stuff.

You could stop paying for all that stuff, of course. But then the general economy will suffer, and you might, after a similar fall of dominoes, lose your job because fewer people can afford to buy what you sell or service or produce. And it all begins with the John Schnatters of the world raising prices because of Washington's orders.

There's no point blaming them for that fact. Contrary to the popular delusion, at least among liberals and Democrats, the rich and well off simply do not pay for government programs out of their pockets. Their money has to to come from somewhere. That somewhere is your wallet.

Don't bother calling the rich greedy. They on their own cannot cover the costs of Obamacare, no matter what you think, and besides, you like to keep as much of your money as you can too, don't you? The cost of national health will be whatever you can afford to pay. And as more and more of you can't afford to pay it, the funnel effect will happen, and everyone will be worse off.

It all begins with 15 cents more per pizza. Would you like double cheese on your order?

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

August Primaries

Today is a primary election day throughout Michigan if not most of the nation. But what are we deciding? The answer to that depends on which part of the state you live in.

In Detroit proper, there isn't much to consider if you're a Republican. Outside of the race to challenge Debbie Stabenow for her US Senate seat, there's nothing. Even that seems little to be excited over, for although some pollsters see Clark Durant making a last second surge towards Peter Hoekstra it isn't likely he'll overtake him. Hoekstra's lead is significant, and his support comes from western Michigan where voters take primaries more seriously. Still, Durant is a better conservative choice than Hoekstra, so we think he deserves a vote.

In the two Congressional Districts which include Detroit, John Conyers will win by default and Gary Peters will serve to dilute minority clout in Congress despite his being a Democrat. Yet he will not be criticized for that choice. Democrats can't be racist, you know.

We expect each incumbent in Michigan to win their congressional primaries and almost certainly the general election. The only movement will be in Thaddeus McCotter's old district, where McCotter manged to stupidly shoot himself in the foot. That one will be interesting in November, depending especially on whether the only Republican on the ballot, Kerry Bentivolio, can withstand a write in challenge from Nancy Cassis. Seeing as this is a primary, Cassis stands a chance if GOP voters aren't lazy.

There will be issues on the ballot beyond candidates for office. Our advice, at least for Detroit area conservatives, is vote against them. All of them, no matter what. There are too many liberal voters who will vote for spending renewals and increases anyway, so simply as a protest, vote against them. It is that kind of nickel and dime government which causes most government spending troubles, particularly on things such as libraries are arts councils. Most of the people who vote for them don't use them. They are knee jerk votes at best. You can almost hear the thought process of the typical voter in the voting booth: 'Uh, yeah, books are good, libraries have books, and art is kinda cool too, so what the hey, I'll vote yes.' They are nothing more than shallow votes for things government should not be involved in. The arts in particular; if they can't support themselves they should not be kept afloat by tax money. Other folks' idea of culture should not be propped up with your cash.

So that's it. Vote Republican and vote against taxes, new ones but even renewals. That's the best statement you can make with your ballot this August 7th, 2012. We'll see you in November.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

More From the Forked Tongues

One of the primary defenses of gay rights and gay marriage is that we cannot tell people how to live. It is really not a very persuasive argument. We have many laws which attempt to tell people how to live, don't we? Even with something so benign as driving a car, we tell people which side of the road to drive on. It seems we can and we must, as circumstances allow, tell people how to live if we are to have a civil and moral society. Another oft told tale in defense of gay marriage is that we cannot judge people. To be sure, we recognize that it's wrong to judge people...but we must judge the actions of people, along with their impact, real and potential, on society and legislate accordingly. If we cannot, how can we have even a single law against any single human action? We are told that being against something such as gay marriage doesn't mean a hatred of gays. As social conservatives, we're told we're haters because we're against gay marriage and gay rights. Yet we've never accused active homosexuals of hating us when they disagree with our point of view. To be quite blunt, we should be offended at the accusation that merely because we disagree with gays (let alone anyone) on certain questions, we hate them. What ought to inspire a serious Christian is a love of humanity, so much so that they want to help others avoid error an attain Heaven; do not the Scriptures tell us as much? And finally, how dare people try to instruct us on how we ought to act and what we ought to accept when they assert that we cannot judge their actions and wishes? If we cannot question their acts and motives, then they cannot question ours without being hypocrites. But we're used to that from the left, aren't we?

Saturday, August 4, 2012

The Michigan Primary and Chick-fil-A

It appears as though John Conyers and Gary Peters will win their respective Democratic primaries this coming Wednesday. That means that Congressman Hansen Clarke is the odd man out. Since Michigan lost a seat in the House of Representatives due to the 2010 Census, and since redistricting was controlled by the GOP, everyone knew the Democrats would lose a seat.

That means though that Michigan will lose a minority representative, which seems at odds with federal laws which aim to maintain a certain degree of minorities in elected government. Yet as with so many other government attempts to control democracy, demographics simply will not cooperate. The minority vote is slowly becoming diffused; it is more difficult to create and maintain minority districts. Combine that with the fact that even ten years there are population shifts, and you get what you get and must work with it.

Still, the hue and cry about the loss of a minority seat has not been very great. Perhaps that means something. Perhaps we are growing as a nation and are not so concerned with what ought to be trivial matters. Skin color should not affect an election. We ought to look at the whole person of a candidate when deciding for whom to vote.

Or maybe the Democrats are just being Democrats. They don't care about minorities. They care about power. So as long as they keep the seat, they're okay. If keeping that seat meant throwing a minority Congressman under the bus, so be it. It isn't about rights or representation, it's about power. Call us cynical, but we believe that a better explanation than that our democracy has matured.

On another subject, did anyone notice how weak and mild the gay community's counter protest to Chick-fil-A was yesterday? There were at most a couple dozen practicing homosexuals who went to a local Chick-fil-A for the 'kiss-in'; this compared to the hundreds of thousands nationwide who protested in favor of the company Wednesday. One store owner said it was a typical day at work. Nothing really happened.

Well, one restaurant in California had graffiti sprayed on an outside wall. It is significant that with the large numbers Wednesday there was no vandalism, yet Friday with much, much smaller of a protest there was. It is a fact which speaks for itself.

Have you ever noticed how, when a conservative doesn't like something, the left's almost knee jerk reply is, well, don't watch it, don't listen to it, don't pay for it? Yet when a company does something they don't like, it isn't good for them to simply not patronize it. Why is it that what's good for the goose is not good for the gander? The left speaketh with forked tongue it seems. But we should not be surprised at that. It is just another form of their hypocrisy. They care not for consistency or reason. They only care that the get their way.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Vanity is not Good

A California woman has died as a result of silicone injections to her posterior. The stuff she allowed injected into her body were apparently industrial grade rather than the medical grade commonly used in capsule form. But it is fair to ask whether that actually makes a difference in terms of the outcome (a young woman died) or with regards to the question of whether we should seek such vulgar ways of altering our bodies for little more than vanity.

This is not to let societal judgments of what a good body is off the hook. We cannot doubt that the woman in question was seeking to make her body seem more like the ideal which reflects the opinion of much of our current society. But two things are at stake here: our own outlook on beauty, and the pressures of society to look good.

The correct answer to the second question is: damn society. In terms of natural physical appearance, you are what you are and there is only so much you can do about it. Exercise, eat better, and that's the best you can do. One should not even rule out invasive techniques such as surgery, we may suppose, but only as a matter of last resort. Some people are just built certain ways, such as having small butts.

Which leads to the first question. Don't ever let society tell you what is right unless it is in fact right by any objective opinion. No one of us has any say in how our DNA comes together. If it can and must be fixed such as with a cancer or other debilitating condition, then get it fixed. Otherwise, tell society to go suck eggs. There is no point to being bullied over something which is not your fault.

After a point, we are who we are. We are as responsible for accepting that as much as society is for letting us alone in the way God made us. The real shame here is that authorities are - properly enough, so far as it goes - treating the ones who injected the silicone as the only evil actors in this matter. Perhaps they are the only evil ones. Still, vanity has played her part. Unfortunately, we can only now pray for the soul of the girl who thought the world's opinion of her physical self more important than the person she actually is.

Was.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Proud to be an American

The line at the Chick-fil-A in the food court at a Toledo, Ohio mall was very long; the wait to get to the counter was longer than three hours. This was at 7:15 last night. The line had been long all day. Many people had driven down from Michigan because the only Chick-fil-A in state was closed until September. There were people in line from Dexter and St. Clair Shores, Ann Arbor and Detroit, and patriotic and religious shirts were throughout the crowd. One group even sang hymns. It was all part of Chick-fil-A Appreciation Day, and it made you proud to be an American.

The outpouring of support for a company and a company President, Dan Cathy, who boldly supports traditional marriage, was the brainchild of former Arkansas Governor and Presidential candidate Mike Huckabee. The crowds were long at Chick-fil-a's across the country and, what's more, they were orderly. This was no Occupy Movement. There were no rape tents. There were no bullhorns. There were no one demanding the government do something for them. These were honest, average Americans showing support for American values, indeed for right and true values, the eternal truth and not a selfish truth, in a civil fashion. They did not take over anyone's property. They were spending their own money and not depending on handouts to support their protest. They did have to be evicted, but left in an orderly fashion after ordering their food and making their point.

Chick-fil-A itself was officially neutral on the matter, as it should have been. They were letting the issue speak for itself, and speak it did. This was about religious freedom and freedom of speech, values so very important to the American psyche as to be America itself. To openly support traditional marriage is as much the right of a US citizen as petition and assembly. Freedom of Assembly, letting actions speak for you; the assembled throngs across the land spoke loud and clear yesterday.

There were counter protests, but on the whole, they were weak where they existed at all. In Toledo at 7:30, they consisted of 3 lonely teens who did nothing. They stood watching the long line, seemingly stunned. Gay rights groups are planning a 'kiss-in' on Friday, where openly gay couples will go into Chick-fil-A restaurants and show their affection. Let them. It will not match the maelstrom they were witnessing yesterday. They will not have to wait in line three hours to do it. And, to no small point, they won't exactly be spending their dimes doing it.

But the really, truly delicious (oh, we do love puns) aspect of the entire protest is that the liberal media and their allies brought this on themselves. They could have let Dan Cathy's words stand without comment and hoped that he would somehow be indicted as a cad. But those lovers of tolerance and inclusion, who will not tolerate and include conservatives and Christians, simply could not. They had to harp on the supposedly evil conservative intolerance and bigotry which drew the reaction it did. They called out the American people, the silent, moral majority, who then laid the smackdown on them.

This is American democracy in action. This is how you show your support for what you hold dear. You don't yell into the cameras. You don't blindly chant blithe phrases. You don't fall benignly into wretched tent cities to attack those who are supposed with you. You take of your own time and spend of your own money and you let your actions tell the world what you think. And the best part of all that is, it shows that you are thinking rightly all around. America has spoken, and she has been heard.