Thursday, July 31, 2014

Vote Anyway

We are less than one hundred days from what might be a paradigm shifting election. Based on the polls and the number of Democrats running for cover (and on the amount of fund raising President Barack Obama is doing) the left is on its heels. To be sure, three months is a long time in politics and a lot can happen. A world event or some unpredictable calamity might reshape the electoral landscape or, each election being local, a line of individual candidates might manage to rework that landscapes into their personal favor. But today, it looks good for the GOP. But all you conservatives out there, remember: you still have to vote. Your vote matters.

We know that one vote rarely makes a difference. Common sense says as much. Honestly, how often in our nation's history has one vote really mattered? Not very, if at all. And there are great temptations not to vote, not the least of which are that a given election may be a foregone conclusion. They aren't necessarily; can you say Thomas Dewey?

Then there's the idea that it is a good and necessary thing to exercise your rights, even when they seem unneeded or, perhaps, pointless. You're exercising your rights when you walk into the restaurant of your choice, aren't you, when that choice really isn't particularly important, is it? No one would tell you that it's okay not to eat there that basis. But at the heart of it, that choice is a reflection of a very important right. Why treat your vote as less important?

And as always, there's the ages old saw about what if everyone thought like you? What if everyone quit voting because their single little tally meant relatively little? We shouldn't have to finish that thought. You know where it goes and we know how trite it sounds. Still, if you don't use your rights well someone will use them for you. You will get the government you deserve.

So vote, even if it doesn't mean much. The practical implications will certainly be small. The symbolic implications, however, will be a great victory for the individual.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

At What Point do we Back Off?

It's sad when a senseless murder is committed. And since any murder is senseless, they're all sad.

National Guardsman Dontae Norris was shot and killed trying to stop two men from stealing his car. He leapt onto the top of his car and was shot through the roof by the assailants. The Detroit Police have two men in custody.

Mr. Norris had just completed his training, was working at the store where the assault occurred, and was also incidentally engaged to be married. How many lives have been injured by this incident? A countless number, no doubt, some of them perhaps not even born yet.

It's easy to get on Detroit's case for this and other equally heinous crimes. Surely, however, the issues behind the plight of the City run deeper than one crime, however reprehensible. There doesn't seem a lot to say.

We despise the idea of the inmates running the asylum. That in itself is a poor reflection on so much of modern urban society. We despise further the idea that they should be allowed such power over us and our security. We almost hate to ask what we're about to ask, yet we feel we must. At what point should you nevertheless back down?

It was just a car, after all, and we are in no way, shape, or form arguing that the assailants are at all less than 100% at fault here. They stole a car, they killed a man, and they have to pay the price.

Yet look at the price Mr. Norris paid.

Crime must be fought. But there are times when the bad guys just win. We need to reflect on that, on when we reach the point where such and such is just going to happen, and that in a war sometimes the wrong side wins a battle. The real shame is that we sometimes must think that way.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Johnny Football, Michael Sam, and distractions

Now that a few days have passed and, hopefully, we might be able to see things in a less impassioned light, let's talk again about former NFL coach and current football commentator Tony Dungy. You know him. He answered a question honestly and with all due consideration to all involved yet was vilified for his answer. Ah, yes, tolerance. The insipid calling card of the left.

As a quick recap, Dungy was asked if he would have drafted Michael Sam, an openly gay football player. Dungy said no; he wouldn't want the distractions which would come with such a selection. He didn't say that Sam didn't merit an opportunity or that Sam couldn't play football. Indeed he stressed that he had no problem with the former Missouri standout as such. He simply said that as a coach he didn't want distractions of any kind if they could be helped.

Think what you want about homosexuality or homosexuals in sports, this isn't an invalid concern. Distractions are actually beyond the ability of either Dungy or Sam to control really. Coach Dungy was reflecting that in his response.

At this point we're going to do a bit of conjecture. We won't deny it. Still, the projection we have in mind should make for interesting discussions.

Jerry Johnson, the somewhat less than uncontroversial owner of the Dallas Cowboys, has said that he was close to drafting Johnny Manziel. Manziel was easily the best player on the board for Dallas when his name came up, Johnson reports. Yet the Cowboys went with Notre Dame guard Zack Martin instead.

We have not yet found any detailed reasoning behind the choice, but we will take what we think a good educated guess. We think the Cowboys passed on Johnny Football because they feared the distraction it would cause. Manziel's own self aggrandizing actions since the Cleveland Browns selected him seem to bear out that he can easily be a distraction. His antics have been so overt that Cleveland management felt compelled to request he tone it down a notch. His response was, essentially, nope, won't do it, I'm just being me.

Perhaps this wasn't Johnson's concern. Only what happens with the Browns will bear that out, as only what happens in St. Louis will bear out Tony Dungy's concerns about distractions. But it will be an interesting exhibition season this August in the NFL either, or both, ways.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Harassment at Comic Con should not be shocking

We simply cannot believe it. There is a dark underside to the famous San Diego Comic-Con which took place this past weekend. It seems that sexual harassment has been a problem there, and we just don't know why. After all, all there are are hundreds of young women dressed in sexually charged outfits traipsing around like their comic book heroines. Or can we say heroines, as the word itself denotes a type of sexuality which is not right in the modern PC world? The question empathizes the schizophrenia of our world with regard to matters of gender, doesn't it?

To be sure, there no doubt are also young men in suitably (for the occasion) sexually charged costumes as well, so the point plays both ways, doesn't it? Maybe, but let's be honest: when pictures are posted online even on such mainstream sites such as AOL, what do you see? That's right, the ladies. And when all else is said and done, who is usually more victimized by such things? The ladies.

How can you not expect issues of harassment when you encourage such dress? We know that the fantasy world is fantasy. We know too that most everyone has their own ideas of the fantastic. But we also know that some ideas ought to be kept private, for decorum's sake if nothing else.

Yet more than decorum is at risk, as evidenced by the very fact of Comic Con and what it enables people to do. It surely goes farther that comic book conventions, a term which sounds decidedly quaint against the backdrop of sexual harassment. Quite simply, we cannot as a society argue that anyone, male or female, should be allowed to dress any way they want for the sake of milling around in public places and in the next breath contend that an impropriety has been breached when those folks are harassed. They have, we will say it and we mean it, at least to a degree brought it upon themselves. The society which allows platforms for this is in the dock as well.

Sexual harassment is wrong. It is a true moral evil. But when we permit public displays of things with overheated sexuality we ought not be shocked when some people cross the line. And their sins are not exclusively theirs.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Is Science based on Religious Justifications?

They say the Universe is constantly expanding. But if it is, what is it expanding into?

- Ferb Fletcher

Yes, that is a (reasonably accurate) quote from a cartoon character. And yes, too, it was said for the joke value. But as the best jokes have some truth to them, the idea behind the quip seems too good to leave alone.

What is one of the primary criticisms of the existence of God? Simply put, that the agnostic or atheist cannot accept that some being has just been around for all eternity. They cannot get a grasp on the infinite. Yet here we find a twofold example of science expecting that the believer accept pretty much the same thing, don't you think?

To begin away from young Mr. Fletcher's witticism, popular science (which we wonder might actually and only be a straw man used by atheists and Stephen Hawking to support their worldview) denies God by asking what was there before Him? Yet the corollary question, what was there before the ball of matter from which we had the Big Bang, appears unfair. It was just there, of course. But in those same minds, God could not have been 'just there' as philosophy (not religion, we feel compelled to add) may dictate.

Now Ferb's inquiry comes directly into play. If that ball of matter was just there, merely hanging around, what was it hanging around in? And if the Universe is constantly expanding, what is being displaced by the expansion? The obvious answer is that it can't be displacing anything. But then, where is space expanding, and how?

We did find the scientific answer, by the way, and it's almost quaint: it's just expanding. You can read a bit about that here: http://www.universetoday.com/1455/podcast-what-is-the-universe-expanding-into/ But we will say, at the risk of prejudicing you, that we think that author's assertion little but a mind game. The balloon/raisin bread analogy strikes us as weak; there is still something outside of the balloon or the bread which the areas of the balloon and the bread are displacing. Even the idea of understanding the expanding universe better if we were 4 dimensional beings feels lame. It sounds rather like attempting to justify a preexisting belief, quite frankly. And it profoundly fails to address the question of eternal being anyway.

However you view it, we are wont to believe that quite a lot of modern science is predicated upon exactly the same philosophic ideas as those behind the existence of God. When coming from purveyors of science, we're supposed to accept that things just are. When those same folks aim those same ideas at philosophy or religion, they're childish delusions.

We can't help wonder who is truly delusional.

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Heroic Border Patrol saves America from Scouting Menace

There are things which simply seem to good to be true. Then there are things simply too interesting to not be true. Then there are things which are so outlandish and bizarre that everyone should hope that they can't possibly be true. This is one of those incidents.

Apparently a Boy Scout troop from central Iowa was detailed, and one young scout held at gunpoint (a point which the Border Patrol disputes), when returning to the good old U S of A from a trip to Alaska through Canada after a troop member snapped a picture of a border guard as their caravan passed. You can see more here: http://www.kcci.com/news/boy-scout-from-iowa-is-subject-of-alaska-border-dispute/27102496#!bmVQR6 You can't take a picture of a government agent or government building? Really?

So if the White House is in the background of your holiday picture of Mom and Dad and Sis, you face prison and fines? If a federal agent happens to inadvertently photobomb you in a restaurant when you and a friend take a selfie, you might have your camera taken away?

Seriously, we hope that such incidents aren't as bad as they seem, although it is difficult to imagine how it could be worse even assuming (as we should; we must play fair to all involved) that no gun was actually drawn. We should remember too that one bizarre incident does not indict an entire system. Still, have the absurdities involved in Americans merely returning to their home country gotten so bad that a group so apple pie as the Boy Scouts are suspected of treasonable behavior over something which was surely innocent, which was surely meant only for a photographic montage? We suppose that they might be terrorists in disguise smuggling in a dirty bomb.

No, we suppose not. That the trip of a young lifetime should end so ingloriously is nothing short of insane. We're still hoping that it did not actually happen.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Kill the Living Constitution

I have heard many times, and I'm sure you have too, that our wonderful Constitution is a living document. I have to imagine you have heard the sentiment expressed by the same people from whom I've so often heard it as they waxed reverentially from their lips: liberals, or what were once known more legally as loose constructionists.

Why would anyone want anything less than a precise, or at least as precise of one as possible, interpretation of our nation's highest law? Yet that is what most of our government's leaders since about, oh, the New Deal, have asked us to support. It is what our current leaders in their rush to force federal health care down our throats want. Indeed they probably want no bother about a Constitution at all, but as we have one they have little option but work with it. Or, more exactly, to work it into whatever hash they would like it to be.

They forget, or more likely do not or do not wish to understand, that no living document, one that ebbs and flows with the times, cannot ultimately have any real meaning. It would be too parochial, too ingrained into one time or place to be useful in other eras. It would not last beyond a generation or two.

We want, we need, the words of our governing document to have the certain meanings the founders breathed into them. We need rules and guidelines which do not easily change so that we know how to act and can comprehend what is expected of us. We need a healthy static norm which we can rely on for the sake of order and progress.

We do not need the rules of the game to change or become altered based on whimsy or political expediency. We cannot survive that way: imagine a baseball game where the rules changed as a runner was between first and second to where he had to run clockwise, only to have them reversed when he raced around first, only to have his hit determined to be an out if caught on fourteen hops. Could he reasonably be expected to continue to play baseball? Would there in fact still be a game of baseball to be usefully referenced at all?

No, of course not. And neither will there be a nation we could call the United States for very long without a proper respect for the most basic rules of existence. It's time to kill the living Constitution; freeze it on the historical date of 1787 and the freeze the Amendments at the dates of their inclusion. If something about it merits changing, then follow the methods which the document already contains. Anything else is simply making a mockery of the best governing document in human history.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Hamas and Gaza and Russia

Do you have the impression that the media favors Hamas? If you are you, aren't alone. There seems to be no shortage of coverage of wailing Palestinians on the news shows while little appears said about the attacks by Hamas on Israel, nor on the numerous tunnels which have been destroyed by Israel in her invasion of the Gaza Strip. These tunnels were for ground assaults on Israel proper.

War is not pretty, and there are certainly innocents being killed and harmed during the Israeli offensive. But that's allegedly part of the plan with Hamas, to hide among innocents, and innocent Israelis have been harmed in rocket attacks themselves. This war is not a one way street and should not be thought of as such.

On another front, we wonder whether another war actually is a one way street. Although many suspect that the downing of Malaysian Flight MH 17 over the Ukraine last week was an unfortunate accident, it still happens, and appearances are increasingly that Russia is at least somewhat morally culpable for the sad event. They are arming the rebels in the eastern Ukraine and helping to create instability in the nation. When Europe (or at least England, kind of hypocritically it seems) begins to sit up and take notice and warning of sanctions, it's difficult to think well of Moscow in this matter.

Singer Lana Del Rey, has said that she slept with a lot of record industry insiders (well, she doesn't exactly say 'slept' in a recent song) yet that didn't land her any recording contracts. You can read a synopsis here: http://www.foxnews.com/entertainment/2014/07/23/lana-del-rey-slept-with-lot-guys-in-idustry-but-couldnt-get-record-deal/?intcmp=features The short story is that she found it 'annoying' that her dalliances garnered no help in, uh, advancing her career.

We just don't know the best way to respond to that. It seems to speak for itself, really. She just slept with guy after guy and got nothing but annoyance. One would think she would have expected that. Give someone what they want with no guarantees and what guarantee do you get?

We'll allow you to answer that yourself.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

$23 billion tobacco award absurd

The R J Reynolds Company, the second largest cigarette company in the US, has been handed a $23.6 billion dollar settlement order by a Florida jury. The settlement was on behalf of the smoking husband of Pensacola wife Cynthia Robinson.

We aren't fans of smoking. Indeed, we've wondered off and on through the years whether it's, yes, we mean this, a sinful behavior. Seeing as it does significant damage to your body and that virtually everybody knows it, it's easy to imagine that the practice is ill advised, to say the least.

Yes, we know of the addictive qualities in cigarettes. We know as well that addictions are tough to overcome. Charity alone suggests that we ought to be considerate of anyone dealing with real addictions, as smoking almost certainly is. Still, as they tend to based on chosen behaviors and as the surest way to break them seems to be willpower, we don't want to let the individual entirely off the hook about addictions either.

The bottom line is that Michael Johnson Sr., her husband, was engaging in a legal behavior which he was not forced to do. He chose to smoke; cigarettes weren't lit and nicotine forced into his lungs. As sad as it may be, he did it to himself. It's hard to blame R J Reynolds, a company doing business legally selling a legal product, for his death.

We really don't mean that to sound so harsh. But we don't know what else to say. Unless and until smoking is made illegal, it's the smoker who actually has responsibility for his smoking and the damage which the practice doe to him. When all is said and done, awarding $23.6 billion dollars the family of a smoker, for his essentially killing himself, seems absurd.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Why We Can't Be Isolationist

An airplane was shot down above the Ukraine. Citizens of many different nations have died. The act may or may not have been committed by major player in world affairs. But does that matter? Certainly not to the victims or their families, nor to anyone else with a soul. That is what brings us to the subject today. Isolationism is both cowardly and irresponsible. We live in a world more tightly connected than at any other time in human history. People come and go at their leisure to any and all parts of the Earth. Their lives should not be endangered simply because they are moving about. We have no way of insuring that their travels will be safe, of course. Accidents happen. Planned incidents do not. Where intention is concerned things are not so innocent. By all indicators the fate of Malaysian Airlines was intended. It was meant to do harm and serve a cause. Whose intention and cause is beyond us at the moment. But the event serves to remind us of one very important fact in this uber connected world: we ignore the other nations on Earth when refusing to deal with their affairs. That willful ignorance has a price. The people on Malaysian Airlines Flight MH 17 paid it.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Libertarian Conservatives

Libertarians and conservatives seem so very close on several issues that it may at times be difficult to distinguish between the two. Yet certain distinctions can be made, and they may be all the difference in the world between the camps.

Perhaps the most serious difference lies in the areas of freedom and justice. Libertarians occasionally talk as though justice is the most important thing which human society ought to strive towards yet almost unfailingly insist that the measure of an act is the amount of freedom it allows. The problem is that freedom ultimately is a means rather than an end, and while it is easy to think that the society with the most freedom may (and the word may cannot be stressed enough) produce the most justice, that surely cannot be a given. A hedonistic society such as what the Western world sometimes appears hell bent for leather determined to make of itself surely welcomes a great (one is tempted to say an absurd) amount of freedom among the people. Do libertarians sufficiently address what that must mean?

Seeing as they are only seriously opposed to areas of direct and physical violence against persons, it is easy to say no. This isn't to say they oppose any and all nonviolent yet repugnant actions; we presume they are against libel and slander, for example. But do they take it far enough? Are there areas where, even though there may appear a lack of real violence against the person or society, there is yet a nonphysical violence which may yet hurt individuals and nations?

The conservative says yes. When society allows repugnant actions to be legal then it had begun teaching individuals and nations that the immoral is in fact moral. It begins to tear the fabric of civil society into little more than strands, each strand being each person, each person being free to do what they want, outside of overt violence, of course, without censure. When that happens, how long may it be before the strands cannot support even themselves? Likely as not, the moment they become too individual, too little concerned with the larger society. What will happen then? The strands that get together by whatever means will dominate the rest. That probably won't mean much for freedom, let alone justice.

Without a sense of true justice, decidedly non violent yet unjust actions will be seen as mere aspects of personal freedom. If it doesn't harm anyone directly and immediately it must, in the libertarian view, be allowed.

Such is a shallow definition of justice. But when a creed is based on mere freedom rather than on actual right and wrong, what can we expect in the long run but decay? If the libertarians wish to be taken seriously then they must accept that freedom isn't the end all be all of human actions. Until that happens, they will always be on the margin of political society. Or, worse, they will lead all of society to its destruction.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

LIfe on Other Worlds: Not Important to Us

NASA, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, announced during a panel discussion yesterday in Washington that it finds it highly unlikely that we're alone in the universe and that further, it expects that life will be found on another planet within the next two decades. The Hubble, Spritzer, and Kepler space telescopes will see to that.

Maybe be, maybe no. Further, what type of life might be found is a good question to ask. Will it be sentient, bacterial, or something else, perhaps even something we might not expect? Will it be good or bad, if self aware? To that last question, it is certainly more than fair to apply the same moral standards to other thinking lives as we do (or ought to do anyway) with ours. There's no special reason to believe that alien life would be benevolent, or even intellectually superior to life on Earth. Despite our favorite science fictions, it could well be vile and depraved.

How will the telescopes find life? Probably through detecting microscopic traces of something, not unlike how many planets have been discovered through 'wobbles' making their across distant stars which would indicate an object passing between our scopes and a sun. But even more, will we be able to make contact with these creatures (and we use the term creatures only to indicate there are created beings and not to pass a moral judgment on them) if we find them? What real value will the discovery of other life in other solar systems or galaxies, not to speak of other universes, have?

Not that much that we can imagine. Should the new found (to us) life be sentient and self aware, it will almost surely face the same problems we do. Should it be less than that then we don't actually have much to brag or wonder over, do we? And as we'll very likely never ever make contact, it won't make a dime's worth of difference to us just the same.

We do wonder if it's all worth the effort, except as an academic curiosity. As such, the whole issue has little meaning and will have little effect of humanity. We are coming to the belief that our tax dollars would be spent better, and more wisely, on us rather than some remote speck in the distance.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Did Radical Individualism lead to Jersey City Officer's Death?

If you haven't read it, and especially if you haven't heard of it, a good book to read on what's happening in the United States today is Robert Bork's Slouching Towards Gomorrah. In it, the former federal judge expresses his concerns about the twin problems our nation faces today: those of radical egalitarianism and radical individualism as empathized by the liberals of American society over the last several decades. We see perhaps and example of both maladies on display currently in Jersey City, New Jersey, where a police officer was slain in an ambush allegedly set by a gunman.

The gunman, Lawrence Campbell, was shot and killed by Jersey City officers after he supposedly killed officer Melvin Santiago this past Sunday in front of a Walgreen's drug store. Campbell supposedly told store patrons to 'watch the news' because he was going to be famous.

That seems to be true. A memorial for him in the neighborhood where he lived was larger than one which appeared for the slain policeman in front of the Walgreen's, and the gunman's widow, while expressing sorrow for Officer Santiago's family, said her husband ought have killed more police if they were going to kill him.

This situation fits the bill of radical egalitarianism through a society which apparently sees no difference between the life of an officer of the law and a thug. Indeed, arguably, the thug is seen by at least part of society as equal than the cop doing his legitimate job. Interestingly, you might note that this also is where radical individualism kicks in: the alleged perpetrator is seen, again at least by a part of society, as simply an individual doing what he wished, to the point of murder merely because he wanted another individual dead. Who's to call him wrong in an age where we spend so much time telling people to be themselves?

Is this a simplistic view of the issue? No doubt it is, on certain levels, anyway. Not knowing or able to know the exact mental state of the gunman for example leaves us unable to judge his moral culpability for what he has done, for example. But is this situation as it has developed really about him or the policeman he is supposed to have shot? Or is it about a society being brought down slowly through ideals which, to say the least, are misguided and, to say the most, morally deficient if we are to continue as a civil nation?

Bork might argue that the libertarian left are at fault. It's sometimes hard to disagree with such assertions.

Monday, July 14, 2014

Time to Get Out of the Middle East?

They're at it again. Palestinians are firing missiles into Israel and Israel is firing back. In Detroit yesterday, this was met with a protest which grew as it continued. One of the protestors lamented that what Israel was doing 'amounted to almost war crimes.' Another asserted that Gaza as 'an open air prison' from which Palestinians could not escape. Hyperbole is the rule of the day when war is involved. No doubt that it comes from the other side too.

And that's maybe the biggest part of the problem. Do we really know who's at fault in all this? It's been going on for so long and Americans are so unwilling to take serious looks at world issues that, be honest, all we really know is that there's been a lot of fighting going on the Middle East and it's been going on for a long time. So much so that we aren't even going to bother trying to sort it out here.

Why should we care anyway? Why should a regional conflict half way around the world mean anything to us? Yes, there is the human toll which is taken; many of the casualties in Gaza are apparently civilian, but no doubt many of the Israeli casualties are too. Not that there can be any decent quid pro quo where lives are maimed or lost. But it does little more than add to the hyperbole.

So let's just call the situation what it is: we care about the Middle East because there's oil there. We wouldn't have to care quite so much if the radical environmentalists would let us drill the oil we have here. Some people believe that we have more reserves than all of OPEC: see here http://abcnews.go.com/Business/american-oil-find-holds-oil-opec/story?id=17536852 for details. And remember that's just one spot on the map.

The ongoing hostilities in the Middle East are bad, to ay the least, and ought to stop. But as we don't really appreciate the causes it doesn't seem we could actually be much help in the reconciliation. At some point, people and nations become solely responsible for themselves and their actions between one another. That may just be the bottom line in the Middle East. So let's just remove our interest in the area and let whoever's there sort it out. That might be the most rational option the US has in Gaza.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

The Courts and the Confessional

The Louisiana Supreme Court has ordered a Catholic priest to testify in a court trial as to what he heard in confession. The cleric, Fr. Jeff Bayhi, may face jail time if he does not comply.

That this is a clear case of religious freedom should not need to be said. That any court in a nation with freedom of religion should do such a thing is reprehensible. Yet such is the state of religion today.

Perhaps the worst sign that respect for religion is in decline is in the relatively little response to the situation. There's really been no hue and cry about it, none of the outrage which one should expect of a predominantly Christian nation. Maybe that's because the situation involves child abuse and thus is seen as more important than religious rights. Maybe people just want to give the Church a comeuppance. Maybe they just don't care.

They should. This is about more than just the Catholics: this could affect all religions and from there, all freedoms, because all freedoms begin in the conscience and this is an issue of conscience. The Diocese of Baton Rouge has vowed to fight the decision, and we should feel confident that it will be overturned in the federal courts. It's simply a shame that it's going to have to go that far.

Saturday, July 12, 2014

We Should Control Our Borders

Okay, this is it. We're going to be 'that' guy. We're going to be the one who upsets the party and says what many other party goers are thinking yet are too shy or are too intellectually highbrow to say. We're going to overturn up the apple cart. Yep, that's us. We'll say it.

Borders are real.

Didn't see that coming, did you? We would say that we can't imagine what you were thinking. But we could. And we smiled at the thought. Still, borders are real. They aren't imaginary lines drawn in the sand. They aren't pretend. They exist, as surely as so many other human constructs do. And they mean something as well.

They stand for things. In the United States of America, they stand for a freedom, often abused just the same, to be what we are are. We are the world's laundry agency. At least, we hope and pray we are.

Why are there so many illegals coming here? We will go out on a limb and say that it isn't because of gay marriage. That is surely way down on their list. They did not come here to do the reprehensible. They came here because things aren't so great where they are from originally. And we will say further that gay marriage isn't one of those things. Only the intellectually high brow think that.

They came here because they can't enjoy the freedom to provide for their families there, wherever 'there' is. They came here because 'here' isn't 'there'. They came here because a line in the sand exists, a line drawn not by us, really, but by the people who control where they were from.

Borders exist. And we do not draw them.

Friday, July 11, 2014

Celebrate What?

A new commercial has been airing the last few days, the theme of which is 'celebrate differences'. Yes, we're about to go on that rant again, the one where we ask just what the hell do they mean. It's a personal favorite.

Celebrate differences. Before going any further, we do in fact know what they mean. They mean for us to accept the 'differences among people', and to an extent that's okay. The commercial speaks of loving those of different colors and backgrounds and lifestyles; to wit, whomever they see as worthy of acceptance. Some of those, the ad makes quite clear, are outside right wing celebration.

And there's the rub. Will they accept conservatives who will not accept everyone or every idea they support? Somehow we doubt it. And we haven't even gotten into the notion that merely being asked to celebrate differences is little but a vacuous and hollow platitude. In the first place, we know it because we know they will not support us and our differences along with theirs. In the second place, by themselves the words don't actually mean anything in particular.

Murders are different than most of us because few people murder. But you know we don't mean that, the celebrators will assert. Well, then, say it, even though it will mean little. The point is simply that any idea left to itself is meaningless. It's the affects and effects that such trite catchphrases have and cause which matter. Have no doubt in your mind then that such blithe remarks will cause some people to want support for the unsupportable. After all, such would be as different as anything else might be when making mere comparisons between people and concepts.

So, onto the dust heap, celebrate difference. You belong right there with education, peace, liberty, freedom, and all other large sounding words employed by many yet without real meaning. Come celebrate that with us. The bonfire, being fueled with the best fuel (you know what we mean), will burn quite nicely.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Would an Ill Donald Sterling get Compassion?

Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling has been diagnosed with Alzheimer's Disease. Two doctors have said so, as part of of a lawsuit filed to keep his estranged wife from selling the team. Maybe so, maybe no; not being doctors, we have no real way of knowing. But we do wonder: if he is in fact sick with a condition which is a form of dementia, will there be any consideration from all those people calling him racist? Or is racism one of those things so vile and contemptible that there is no excuse for it?

That racism is vile and contemptible no one should argue. Yet how many things in life are excused on the grounds that people can't help who they are? Indeed, in areas such as the gay community and supporters of gay rights it is argued that those born with homosexual proclivities must be allowed to act on them simply because it is who they are. Well, a Donald Sterling with dementia is simply who he is right now, today. If his racist comments were a result of a condition which he can't help having, should he not be cut some slack? After all, and again stressing that if he really is sick, then he surely could not have helped whatever awful and hateful ramblings he spewed however many weeks ago.

Will the National Basketball Association and the many entertainers, politicians, media types and various activist groups who have roundly criticized Sterling's words make any allowance at all for the man if he does truly suffer from Alzheimer's? These folks want conservatives to make allowance for people who purport to have free will and argue to be in complete control of their faculties to do whatever they want. Anyone without free will and without control of themselves then certainly would deserve like consideration. They actually would deserve greater consideration due solely to their affliction, which would be something actually beyond their control.

Maybe so, maybe no. Maybe Donald Sterling, if ill, will in the end receive due charity. But as we as a society are becoming less interested in actual and objective right and wrong, we doubt it.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

NFL Football is Too Brutal

It is said that football is now the American national pastime. Be that as it may, what does that say about us as Americans, especially in light of yesterday's federal court ruling which gave preliminary approval to compensation for former football players who now live with serious injuries and debilitating conditions?

There are somewhere in the area of 4,500, four thousand five hundred, an outstanding number when you consider how relatively few men have played professional football, former NFL football players suing the National Football League for failure to address the physical and psychological damage the game has done to them. Many former football players have publicly stated that they will not encourage their sons to play football. Why? Because it is too brutal.

Too brutal. Yet we as a nation encourage this activity.

What does this say about us as that nation? It is not something we care to dwell upon. Should we dwell upon it, it might cause us to ask questions which we do not want to answer, let alone ask. Such questions which may cause us to ponder whether we ought to feel as we feel on autumn Saturday and Sunday afternoons in the fall in the good old U. S. of A.

We don't ask, because it will harsh our buzz. We just want to be entertained. If that means watching grown men possibly scarring themselves for life, even when freely choosing to do so, it's okay. We need that, it seems.

Do we also need former players so messed up that they will not watch the game, a la Mike Webster? He's the center from the famous Steel Curtain teams of the 1970s who lived a post football life of trauma and instability. Do we care about that? After all, he chose to go down that road. Is that our problem?

Yes, quite frankly, it is. When we as a society encourage young men to behave that way, it is our problem. Their lives are on us. Lives like these: http://www.gq.com/sports/profiles/200909/nfl-players-brain-dementia-study-memory-concussions?currentPage=2

We can regret them, of course. Yet we can do more. We can question whether we ought continue to support a mentality which says this okay. We can question whether our values need to be prioritized better. We can do that.

But we won't. We're Americans, after all. We don't need to question our motives. We're the best.

What is left, then, is the penultimate question: who will explain that to Mike Webster?

Monday, July 7, 2014

The First Lady Meddles with School Lunches

You have to hand it to the President and First Lady. They sure can sense the writing on the wall, that script which says in loud and resounding letters: lame duck. Once the GOP wins big this November, they won't be able to further their socialist, nanny state agenda. Here, here.

The President himself has long made it known that he doesn't mind using executive orders and other means of obscure political gamesmanship where democracy is properly reluctant to do his dirty work. It is a lesson quite frankly which the right needs top learn and employ: when in power, use it. And don't mind about the other side's whining. You aren't going to win them over anyway, so do what you have to do. Not that we want too much extra-constitutional wrangling. But we do wish that conservatives would use power more forcefully when they have it, so long as they don't go beyond the legitimate limits of strength under the law.

The First Lady herself is taking on her opposition in other ways, ways nonetheless arrogant and preachy as is her husband's wont. Most notably, she is fighting to enforce the standards of the Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010, which sought to ensure healthier lunches in order to combat childhood obesity. The trouble is that the kids don't want the food, to the tune of more than a million of them deciding not to buy the new lunches since 2012. But it's for their own good, gosh darn it. They must be forced by the power of Washington to eat the grains and fruits.

Now, no sane person champions obesity, whether childhood or in adults, and parents surely ought to encourage their kids to be active and eat well. But it's one thing for parents and private agents to preach good habits of nutrition and health and a whole 'nuther for government to do it. The NFL's Play 60 program or Major League Baseball funding inner city youth baseball are good examples of the former. The latter is all too well illustrated by a shrill First Lady, someone not even an elected official of the government but rather a meddler when you get down to it, screeching that House Republicans are by some strange gyration encouraging childhood obesity.

Such is not actually the case. The folks against the new lunches are speaking loud and clear, indeed so loudly and clearly that Mrs. Obama ought to just shut up about the whole thing. Yet that won't happen. She is on a modern day Crusade, and with the power of the Presidency behind her. Let's see what damage that may wreak upon the little toads and their future.

Friday, July 4, 2014

July 4, 2014

Independence Day. July 4, 2014. Officially, we have enjoyed 238 years of freedom.

Well, freedom for the most of us. There are those who are not quite so free: the ones who have elected to surrender part of their lives so that the rest of us may be free. They surrender a part of themselves so that the United States does not surrender.

It is far too easy to write about the sacrifices made by the soldiers and sailors who give of their lives, who have given their lives, for the sake of ours. Words are simple, talk is cheap; actions, however, speak loudly, and echo through history in a way text pounded into a computer never can, and never will.

It is particularly important on this holiday to remember the armed forces of our Allies as well, the Canadians and Britons; the French, Spanish, and Dutch (for would we be a nation today without their aid in the 1770s and 1780s?) and countless others, who give and have also given of their lives and efforts for the same basic reasons our men and women in uniform do. Our Constitutions may differ, our political systems vary; but the commitment to freedom is quite the same.

Yes, there are and will be differences, as there are differences among ourselves. But if the long range goals are the same, if all eyes are on the same prize, then all roads will lead to the same reward. It is our armed forces who pave that road, and they are the reason we live free on this 238th anniversary of our birth.

God Bless America, God Bless our friends, and God Bless those all who do His work.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Hobby Lobby and Religious Liberty win

Hobby Lobby and religious liberty have won. Corporations which are 'closely held' do not have to pay for benefits which go against their sincerely held religious beliefs. It is a good and just verdict handed down by the US Supreme Court, radicals like Ruth Bader Ginsburg notwithstanding.

To begin with, as no company is morally obliged to offer workers any specific benefits at all, it is hardly right for the government to hold that any group of workers ought to receive any special benefits. Period. This may not be a point of law but it is a basic and straightforward moral point. No one, corporation or individual, ought to be compelled to do what is not an obligation in the first place.

Secondly, yesterday's ruling affirms that corporations are people. They most certainly are moral people; if they weren't, it would be difficult to apply any laws against them. Further, they represent what individuals within a company want: they are an expression of persons and so have rights and responsibilities with regard to those persons. An excellent defense of this principle by Professor Steven Horwitz of St. Lawrence University can be found here: http://dailycaller.com/2012/05/07/yes-corporations-are-people/ Corporation are people who have the right to express themselves as such. Period.

To be sure, it was a close decision. We need to remember that as we consider the upcoming 2016 Presidential election, as there will almost certainly be Supreme Court positions to be filled by whoever wins and we need to make sure that it's a good Republican in the White House to fill them. But for now, let's simply be happy that religious liberty has won. Let's be happy that, at least sometimes, the system does work.