Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Slow News Day

Not much going on today. I hate my job and am looking forward to a 6 day weekend.

Leave a comment to let me know you were here.

Monday, June 27, 2005

Supreme Court

I doubt Rehnquist will announce retirement while Court is in Session. But we might hear this week. Or just after the holiday. I don't think his retirement will have much impact. Bush will most likely appoint someone similar and not much will change. I worry a little about Scalia as Chief Justice, but still think not much will change.

I hope Bush doesn't nominate another John Bolton. In that case, he nominated a guy he knew was going to be controversial. I often wonder if he nominated him just to see what he can get away with in this administration that flirts with dictatorship. From his perspective, the UN is such a worthless body that he might as well send Bozo the Clown as Ambassador. (I have to admit I somewhat agree with that sentiment, the UN has been a joke since it's inception.)

I hope that he takes a Supreme Court nomination more seriously. I think he will. But even if he does, I'm still worried about what kind of person he might dig up. I really worry if he has to fill more than one position. He could so easily send this country further down the spiral he is currently sending it.

The whole filibuster thing - I think judicial appointments should automatically require 60% majority, especially for the Supreme Court. We are talking about a lifetime appointment here. Majority rules is a crappy way to run a country, but that's what we have. By requiring all SC nominees to be approved by 60% majority, that should encourage presidents to appoint more well rounded justices. I'm pretty sure I would feel this way even if it was my party in the majority.

Church and State

The Supreme Court ruled on the Ten Commandments cases. Actually, given how divided the court was and the results of the cases, I would say they didn't really decide anything. They basically said it's OK to display the Ten Commandments, but be careful where and how you do it. In other words, it has to be decided on a case by case basis. Makes sense to me.

The separation of Church and State is such a delicate thing in this country. It's kind of silly really, but it's something we're stuck with because of the way things are set up. We are a country founded by protestants who were compelled to include religious freedom provisions because of the nature of the revolution. Now we are stuck in this limbo where we pretend to be a government free of religious persecution but in reality are intolerant of non Christian religions. In other words, hypocrisy is a fundamental principle of American politics and has been since its inception.

I do not say that to be negative. It is just a fact of life that people need to admit exists. So how does that translate to practical real life decisions? As the Supreme Court said, it's a case by case decision. Personally I think the approach consistent with the founders intent and modern logic is to make sure all religions are present and given equal treatment. You can only place Ten Commandments up if you also put up other religious basic principles. Our schools should not avoid teaching religion, they should teach All religion. A class on Comparative Religion that explains all of the world's major religions and encourages tolerance and open minds should be required in every public school.

Jesus is a Liberal

I feel that Biblical teachings and the values of Jesus make it quite clear that Jesus is a liberal and that liberal causes and passions should be Christian causes and passions. I also believe Republican values are for the most part contrary to Christian values.

This is a good article. It paints a pretty accurate picture of American Politics. The article was found at this site, check out the rest of the articles and read the explanation on the the home page as well.

The Price of (Replacing) Oil

One of my favorite columnists is Tamim Ansary. He has written several articles for Encarta that I found incredibly educational and interesting.

His latest is one on what would happen if the oil economy was replaced by a new source of energy. The Price of (Replacing) Oil

His conclusion:
Indeed, the only thing worse than finding an alternative to oil will be not finding one. Because whether or not we have a replacement, fossil fuels will run out. And the more sudden it is--this inevitable transition to the post-oil world--the more cataclysmic it will probably be.

Something to keep in mind.

Friday, June 24, 2005

Natalee Holloway

Apparently I'm not the only one that thinks the Fox News Aruba thing is a non-story. There is no reason for the ridiculous coverage of the story. It is a very uninteresting story. Let me know when they solve the case. Until then, stop covering it!!!

Here's and excellent link, the case is solved!

Thursday, June 23, 2005

Social Security

Bush is running into opposition even within his own party on his Social Security agenda. I think everyone agrees social security reform is needed. I also think most people agree that Bush is pushing for too much, too fast. I don't understand this push for privatization. I'm not necessarily against it, but it has to be very carefully constructed and most likely phased in very gradually. Bush even admits that they will not bring solvency to the program. So why push for it? I just don't get it. Why doesn't Bush break it into two parts? Fix the solvency first and then deal with the private accounts. Instead, he resorts to partisan name calling and blames the Democrats for blocking it.

I think something that should be done immediately is remove the salary cap that is part of the formula. Not just raise it, remove it. I don't understand why it's there to begin with. Remove it and get the rich to pay for the poor's retirement.

Republicans are proposing putting the current social security surpluses into private accounts. This proposal and removing salary caps both seem like obvious non controversial changes.

I do think that Social Security is supposed to be a safety net. It should not be something everyone gets. It should be a welfare program. It's goal should be to prevent people from living in poverty after they are no longer able to work. I also think that the taxes currently set aside Should be gradually transitioned to a 401k style mandated investment plan. By the time I retire in 2050, I would expect no social security payments because as an upper middle class wage earner, I don't qualify. I would expect the required investments in funds with high level of government oversight would be supplemented with voluntary 401k funds to provide a comfortable retirement. That's my gut feeling. I reserve the right to change my position upon further review of the facts. :)

The New York Times editorial that got me going is here.

Flag Burning

The House passed a Constitutional Amendment banning flag burning. That makes no sense to me whatsoever. For a very good explanation of why that's a bad idea, watch the movie An American President. Towards the end, Michael Douglas makes an excellent speech defending his positions, including being in favor of flag burning. Burning a flag is a very important right that needs to be preserved. It is the right of an oppressed group to send a clear cut signal that they are unhappy with their government. That is a right that must be preserved. Banning it is yet another step towards the totalitarian state.

I must admit, I have very little use for patriotism. I'm not going to be loyal to my country, my company, or any organization just because I'm a member. I think it everyone's responsibility and duty to question any organization, especially ones they belong to. Patriotism is a blind loyalty that is used when reason fails. Like most things, that in and of itself is not bad, but how it is used makes it a good or bad thing. When it's used to add emotion to an appropriate cause, it's a good thing. When it's used to accuse those who disagree with the majority, it is a very bad thing. Most of the time when someone is accused of being unpatriotic, the accuser is basically admitting they are wrong and they have no arguments left.

On a slightly related point - can we please replace the National Anthem? It's a silly little poem inspired by a battle set to the tune of a British drinking song. Doesn't sound like anything any country would want as a national anthem. It contains nothing to be proud of. Not to mention it is a just plain awful song, no matter who sings it. I vote for God Bless America. Now that's a song that stirs up loyalty and pride.

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Climate Change

Congress is working on legislation to fight global warming. It looks encouraging. And of course Bush wants to spend as little as possible on the legislation - he's very consistent in his abuse of the environment.

When Bush talks about the Energy Bill, he usually talks about increasing the supply, as most politicians do. Although the supply side is important, it would be much more productive to focus on the demand side. Dump tons of money into alternatives to fossil fuel dependent industries. Make cars running on fossil fuels illegal at some point in the future. Find some other way to make plastic that isn't dependent on petroleum. The goal is to make it so that by 2020 (to pick a date) no one even wants oil. For example, BMW has already created a car that has an internal combustion engine that runs on liquid hydrogen. It's a race car and there are a lot of issues around producing and distributing the liquid hydrogen, but that's an excellent direction to go.

Trouble in Paradise?

I don't have cable at home, so the only way I can watch the news channels is in the cafeteria at work. It's always set to Fox News, which is why I'm complaining about it all the time.

Fox News is continously covering this Aruba girl case. I don't get it. Who Cares? I was able to watch CNN in the gym and they covered it properly- brief update at the end of the show. Fox opens every show with it and dedicates half the show to it. Why would we care that much about a missing girl in Aruba? And they make Aruba look like this nasty place to stay away from. They have one major crime and the whole island is bad? Crimes like this happen every day all over the world. The United States has the worst crime rate in the developed world. Florida is ten times as worse then Aruba. It seems like all the worst news comes from Florida - that's a place to avoid. Florida is the troubled paradise, not Aruba.

Party of Lincoln

I always get a chuckle when Republicans refer to their party as the Party of Lincoln. What they fail to realize, or choose to forget, is that both parties have changed significantly since then, even switching sides of the fence. If Lincoln were alive today, he would be a Democrat! After all, Illinois is a very blue state and Lincoln would have wanted to be involved with the party of the people.

I was inspired to write this after reading this post from Ann Althouse about John McCain. It refers to an interview asking whether McCain would run as an independent. He responds with the party of Lincoln line and also mentions Theodore Roosevelt. There's another guy who might be a Democrat as the parties are defined today. If McCain did run as President, I just might vote for him. He seems to be a pretty independent thinker, which is unusual in the partisan world of American politics.

Monday, June 20, 2005

Christian Voter

The Christian voter today faces a dilemma. The Democratic Party shares his or her principles as taught in the Bible. (I hope to write an essay on that when I have to time to do the proper supporting research.) However, most of the Democrats that show up on the ballot do not adhere very closely to those principles or have significant character flaws. The Clintons are a prime example of this deficiency. Bill Clinton was an excellent president, but a horrible person by most standards, including Christian ones. He upheld Democrat principles and therefore created a strong country. His successor is the ultimate example of the Republicans - good person with principles that are destructive to the nation and contrary to biblical teachings. So the moral person faces a quandary - Does he vote for the person of questionable character who shares his principles and ideals or does he vote for the person of good character who will lead the country down the wrong path?

I voted for Gore with complete confidence - he appears to be a good person who would have lead us down a good path. I hope he runs again for President. I had less confidence with Kerry- I'm not completely convinced he's a good person and I am quite confident he is not a Christian. Even by his own words, he's Catholic, which means he's not Christian. But I voted for him because I knew Bush was leading us down the wrong path and I believe that he is not a good person. Christian maybe, but not good. At the very least, he's not qualified for the job.

Currently, the respective front runners appear to be Hillary Clinton and Condeleeza Rice. Aside from the incredible fact that that would guarantee a female president, this would be a morally tearing race. We know Hillary Clinton is a person of weak morals and religious values. In addition, she has an unpleasant personality. But she has a good head for leadership and politics and would probably put the country on the right path. Rice is a product of the flawed and anti-Christian values of the Republican Party. But she appears to be a good person, a smart person, a person of good credentials and as far as I know, strong morals. This race would be the ultimate example of the quandary I stated above.

I will pray (and hope that others join me) that Democrats will remember their roots, find a platform that will connect with the people, and (most importantly) attract good, moral people to it's senior ranks.

Howard Dean

I find myself agreeing with Howard Dean almost every time I see a quote from him. I've shared a few in this Blog already. But he should have learned from his mistakes. Over the top behavior lost him the presidency and he still continues it today. Other Democrats are doing it as well. I think they are trying to emulate Bush's forthrightness. What they forget is that when Bush says something stupid, everyone forgives him because they know he's an idiot. Not to mention he already has the job. Democrats can't quite pull it off. Like with everything else, Democrats are at a loss.

War on Terror

I hate the term War on Terror. The word war implies something that has a beginning and end. Like the "war on drugs", terror is not something you fight against for a fixed period of time. It is something that will ALWAYS exist. You can not fight a series of battles and expect it to go away. It requires constant vigilance, constant disruption of resources, and removal of leaders as they appear. But new terrorists will always appear - there will always be some issue that motivates a group of passionate people to feel the only way to achieve their goals is through violence. Patrick Henry, Samuel Adams, Thomas Paine, and George Washington are good examples of such people.

I also worry that the War on Terror is an excuse to keep us in perpetual war. Being in a state of war gives political leaders ability to do things they would never get away with normally. It is an important part of creating a totalitarian state, as seen in the novel 1984.


The state run news network, aka Fox News, is starting to lay the groundwork for the next stage in Bush's foriegn agenda: war with Iran. They are suggesting that bin Laden may be in Iran. That's always an easy way to drum up support: say it's part of the revenge, er I mean, protection against the terrorists. And of course they deride the Iranian elections, although I will admit that part is true.

So any predictions on when Bush will declare war on Iran?

Why does he ignore North Korea? This is a country that without a doubt has all the symptoms that Iraq supposedly had - nuclear weapons, weapons of mass destruction, powerful despot leader. Why do they conjure up and fabricate allegations of these things against one country to justify a war but ignore proven facts in another? My answer - Two Things: Oil and Islam. The Middle East has oil, which we want and need and it is the center of Islam, which will overtake the American state religion (Christianity) in the near future. Compared to those concerns, the administration feels no threat from North Korea.

Downing Street Memos

I have seen plenty of things to suggest that Bush planned to invade Iraq since day one of his administration. He was just looking for justification to sell it to the American people. It's possible his administration organized September 11th to give Bush excuse for war. Although that's probably far fetched, I think it is a good possibility that they consciously or unconsciously ignored the intelligence leading up to 9/11 because they knew such an event would benefit their objectives.

So far, this has all been theories and suggestions. The Downing Street memos are the first evidence to support the theory. Here is one reporter's summary of the memos. The memos themselves are at: afterdowningstreet.org

By the way, I think it's interesting that I haven't seen any mention of these memos on Fox News (I don't watch it 24 hours a day, maybe I missed it.)

GW Bush

George W Bush is probably one of the worst presidents this country has ever had. He's not necessarily a bad person, but he is without a doubt a bad president. Every single one of his policies is rash and destructive to the American way of life. His No Child Left Behind act does nothing but hold children back and remove good teachers because they happen to be poor test takers - not to mention it is not sufficiently funded (you can never spend too much money on education). He lead us into a war that was completely unjustified and did nothing to make this country more safe and secure. He shoves tax cuts down our throats even when it is so clearly not the correct course of action. (The whole trickle down economics theory has always been a line of BS used to justify cutting taxes for the rich who fill Republican coffers.) Every decision he ever makes has been the wrong one, or at least it seems. His current passion - social security - is the least objectionable of his actions. I want Social Security reform, but not by a proven screw up like GW.

I have no doubt that he truly is a reborn Christian for whom God is an important part of his life. I don't think anyone doubts that. But, like so many Christians, he fails to carry his faith into actions. He allows greed to be a stronger influence in his life than God - as seen by war against Iraq, oil drilling in Artic, and many other policies. An excellent example is his most recent relationship with Tony Blair, the British Prime Minister that stuck his neck out to help Bush is his quest for oil and vengeance. Blair is lobbying Bush for two things: poverty relief for Africa and climate change. Although I don't know the details about what Blair is fighting for, these are issues that a Christian should aggressively pursue. The Bible contains tons of references to feeding the hungry and being caretakers for the world. It doesn't say anything about attacking countries because they have a different political system then you.

World Trade Center

Here's an article about the WTC collapse I found on How Stuff Works.

It explains how it's extremely unlikely that the jets alone would have caused the collapse and that only a controlled demolition fits all the facts. I don't know what I personally believe, but I'm most comfortable with the official story that the planes took them out without assistance. I think Allah/God, whichever name you prefer, had a direct hand in it and caused the collapse. Either to answer the prayers of followers of Islam or to wake up the complacency of American Christians - or both.

However, I definitely think a coordinated attack on our own soil by our own people is possible, even plausible. That sounds like something Cheney or Rumsfeld would advocate to encourage the totalitarian state we are currently working towards. I don't think Bush himself knew. He is a puppet of stronger forces within his administration. He's not smart enough to comprehend such a subtle plan. He's not smart enough to do his job at all, but I digress. I do believe that Bush's faith is real, but like most Christians, his faith has little influence on his actions.

Saturday, June 18, 2005

Bad News

Our fears have been realized. This morning, my wife started bleeding, similar to a period. This is what happened last time we had a miscarriage, so naturally we were worried. We called the doctor and she said these things can happen and don't worry about it. When a 10 cm long blood clot came out, we called the doctor again. She said not to worry, it can happen. This was a Saturday, so the office was closed. She said we could go to the emergency room for an ultrasound or wait until Monday. Since there was nothing they could do either way, we decided to wait until Monday. Then, when we were down the street at a community potluck, my wife had to go back to the house to go to the bathroom. She came back and told me she was pretty sure she had passed the baby. When I saw what had come out of her, I had to agree. It was a sac, about the size of a thumb and I thought maybe I saw the dark spots of the developing eyes inside the sac.

We told our eight year old right away. He took it relatively well. He was sad and kept saying that he couldn't believe he had lost a second brother or sister. We told him that we would bring the baby to the doctor and they would try to find out what happened. He said maybe they could make him alive again, but we firmly told him that the baby was dead. We told him no one knows why these things happen and that it's nobody's fault, no one did anything wrong. It just happens.

None of us cried, but we all came close. Our friends and relatives, whom we told over the phone, cried. My wife's favorite theory is that her body rejects the babies as foreign matter. I think she likes that theory because that would mean there are medicines that can fix it. My favorite theory is that there is something about my chromosomes combined with hers that is producing offspring that nature or God naturally allows to die because that is what is best. I think our primary reaction is confusion: Why is this happening? What is God's Plan? Why does he allow us to get pregnant at all if he's going to take it away?

Thursday, June 16, 2005

Terri Shiavo pt 2

The New York Times came out with an editorial on the autopsy results. It says the politicians should be embarrassed. I think the politicians and the family should not only be embarrassed, but ashamed of themselves. Maybe even guilty of criminal conduct, although I can't imagine what the crime would be.

The autopsy results released yesterday should embarrass all the opportunistic politicians and agenda-driven agitators who meddled in Terri Schiavo's right-to-die case. There is no evidence that Ms. Schiavo's husband did any of the awful things attributed to him, and no hope that her greatly damaged brain would ever have recovered. The courts were right to conclude that she should be allowed to die after 15 years in what her doctors described as a persistent vegetative state with no hope of recovery.

Here's the link, but I don't think it will be active for very long:
Autopsy on the Shiavo Tragedy

Wednesday, June 15, 2005


I like this article written by the Instapundit.

It points out that lifespans are going to continue to get longer, making social security funding an increasing problem. He suggests discarding the retirement age altogether and having people work until unable, at which point disability benefits could kick in. Sounds good to me.

By the way, as a person in my twenties, I don't consider Social Security part of my retirement plans. I expect to have to provide for my own retirement. The program should probably be available as a safety net, but no one who lives above the poverty line should be entitled to benefits.

Personal Accounts would have to be handled very carefully. I'm not oppossed to gradually phasing them in for people under fifty. Basically a mandated 401k. Maybe it should be on top of existing tax?? If Bush has anything to do with changes, he'll bungle it like he does everything else and probably bankrupt the program altogether.

Terry Shiavo

The autopsy results are in for Terry Shiavo. Read Here As I expected, it confirmed she had very little brain left and no evidence of spousal abuse. For all intents and purposes, she died fifteen years ago. Hopefully her soul departed then as well.

This case amazed and disturbed me, as it did most people. I know if I'm ever in that state or anything resembling it, I want the plug pulled. Fox News and other conservatives were spinning that this was an issue of life. But as a spiritual person, I felt the only moral thing to do was remove the feeding tube. As far as I am concerned, her family prevented her from going to heaven and being with God for fifteen years. That's the atrocity, that's the wrong of the case. Her parents were being incredibly selfish and made her husband fight in the court system to do the right thing. The court system carefully reviewed all of the facts and came to the proper conclusion. Anyone who wanted that tube kept in is going to have to face their relationship with God, I suspect it's not up to par.

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Guatanamo Bay

There has been buzz to shut down Guatanamo Bay, the place where the US likes to stick prisoners for shady purposes. I don't see the point of that. I have no doubt that human rights are being violated there. I have no doubt that the Koran is being abused in addition to prisoner abuse. Anyone who thinks otherwise is being naive. The United States is far from the perfect saint Americans seem to think it is. The argument being made is that the existence of such a place gives the terrorist a recruiting tool. That's true, but shutting it down won't help relieve that. Shutting it down would make it more difficult to track human rights abuses. Instead of it happenning mostly in one place, it will happen all over the world. And the final word: sometimes it is necessary to do unpleasant things to protect the general population. With a designated place to carry out those unpleasant things, we can keep an eye on it to make sure it doesn't go too far.

Pregnancy News

We told our eight year old son about the new baby on the way Sunday. We were avoiding telling him because we are worried about miscarriage. But with him out of school, my wife was having a hard time keeping the secret from him. We told him it was a secret until the fourth of july, but he can't keep a secret - he tells everyone he sees, even complete strangers.

Jackson Verdict

Well I guess I'm not a good jury predictor. I am disappointed he didn't get at least one conviction. I think it's pretty clear that his behavior is borderline if not outright illegal. If he would have had to face one conviction, he Might have had to face the fact that maybe he was doing something wrong. Instead, he's probably going to use it to get a brief career spurt.

Friday, June 10, 2005

Personal Page

Here's my Personal Page, if anyone is interested. It contains a lot of stuff from 1998. Eventually, I intend to put more essays and stories out there.


Howard Dean is getting a little bit of heat for saying the following about Republicans: "not very friendly to different kinds of people, they are a pretty monolithic party ... it's pretty much a white, Christian party." Read Article
I agree with that assessment, but I've always wondered why. Why do Christians tend to be Republican? It is just because they agree with them on the abortion and gay marriage issues? Surely, people wouldn't be so narrowly focused would they? (note sarcasm) Is it because Republicans are more comfortable with religious language? Is it because Republicans and many Christians have a significant flaw in common: hypocrisy?
I am a Christian. I also happen to be white. I am actually more devout than most. I don't accept everything the Church teaches, but I know the Bible well and have most of the knowledge. More importantly, I can feel God's presence every moment. I have a very close relationship with Him. He guides my life, my actions, and my words. Because of that, I am completely mystified as to why anyone that calls themselves a Christian could also call themselves a Republican. The Republican values and the values of the Christian as taught in the bible are directly opposed to each other. (not completely of course, nothing is ever black and white.) Even more clear is the ties between Democrat values and Christian values: fight against poverty (Bush isn't willing to pay for that), protect basic needs of individuals, turn the other cheek, etc.

The only conclusion I can reach is that the Democrats are going through a slump where they can't find good people to support their causes. When the front runner of your party is someone like Hillary Clinton, you know your party is in a bad spot.

Personal Note

I plan to use this blog to share an important event in my life: the pregnany and birth of my child. My wife is currently pregnant. She's due January 20th, so she's in her 8th week. We haven't told the families yet. We want to tell them in person, and we're going to do it July 4th weekend. We lost one about a year ago at 17 weeks, so we are a bit nervous about it. We've been trying since we got married (it will be five years in August).

Fox News

I really dislike the Fox News Channel. They should not be allowed to call themselves a news channel, they are an entertainment network that presents sensationalized bits loosely based on current events. And they definetely can not be considered Fair and Balanced. That is the most atrocious thing about the channel. They claim to be Fair and Balanced, but are so obviously not. They have such a right wing conservative bias that it's ridiculous. Everything about the channel, from the shows they put on, the anchor's personalities, to the stories they cover screams Republican bias. That doesn't bother me, but don't claim to be Fair and Balanced and then act unfairly and unbalanced with every opportunity.

Anchors: All of the anchors, with the possible exception of Brit Hume, are very right wing biased. They just leak it from every pore. When they editorialize, it's obviously biased. That's fine, that's what editorial is suppossed to be. But every anchor has the same bias. Doesn't sound very balanced to me.

Format: All of their shows are slanted towards Republican values. For instance, they place much more emphasis on business then CNN. They love putting on oppossing pundits and having them argue on the air (very annoying and unpleasant). When they do, they almost always steer the interview in favor of the Republican, conservative, or right wing pundit.

Stories: They prefer covering stories that favor the Republicans. There is no such thing as in depth coverage on Fox News. They never cover anything for more than 2 minutes. Even when they are talking about the same story all day, it's just the same 2 minute blurb over and over again. When the Terry Shiavo thing was going on, I was stuck in a room with that channel in the background. I couldn't change it. Despite the fact that they talked about it constantly for 8 hours, they never once went into coverage deeper than the 2 minute high level summary. And their bias also showed: they made a complicated, convoluted issue look pretty one sided. They seemed to condem anyone that thought letting her die was the most moral thing and spirtiually responsible thing to do (my position by the way). And they seemed obssessed with making the judicial system the bad guy, when it was actually doing its job very well.

Michael Jackson Case

My prediction: 1 or 2 convictions, definitely the alcohol charges. Spend a couple of months in jail and then house arrest like they did for Martha Stewart. And most likely civil cases to follow, which is probably what the mother was really working towards.

Jackson is basically a guy that has some serious psychological issues. He probably should be in a mental institution. Who knows, maybe while he's in prison they'll end up transferring him to a mental institution. He is way past his prime, he only stays in the media because the media likes weirdos. A coworker posted a joke news item that said Jackson was abducted by aliens several years ago and replaced with an alien. I almost could believe it...