Sunday, July 31, 2005

Great White North

July 28 5:00 AM
Well here I am in the Great White North. My father in law has hosted his second annual Canada fishing trip. Our group is my father in law (who just turned 50), his father (72), his son, myself and his daughter's husband. His wife(my mother in law) came this year as well because Grandpa wanted a cook at the cabin when we came back from fishing. We're staying at the Golden Route Lodge, this dive just west of Chapleau, Ontario. We got here yesterday and got on the lake around 5 PM. I was in a boat with Rod (just like me - family by marriage and an inexperienced fisherman) and Grandpa at the helm. Fishing with Grandpa is an annoying and frustrating experience. He loves fishing and has been doing it all his life. For all that fishing, he sure hasn't learned much. He knows a lot about fishing but a whole lot of nothing about Catching fish. He has no instinct and doesn't know anything about scientifically finding the right spot and staying on the right spot. We found a good spot and the two Jerry's (father in law and his son) found the line and caught at least seven fish. Grandpa couldn't find the line or the right speed if his life depended on it. He managed to stumble across some fish so that he got two fish and Rod got one. That appears to be the limits of his abilities, stumble around until you find a fish. But he sure likes to tell Us how to fish. If you do something differently then he does, he'll try to "correct" you every time he sees an opportunity. That's the way he is with everything. (He also takes things too seriously and has no sense of humor.) A lot of times he's right, sometimes he's not. But even if he's right, sometimes I just want to try something different and he doesn't appreciate that. Add on to it that he's deaf as a post when he's at the motor and fishing with him becomes an ordealing experience. Today I think Jerry Jr is going to drive us. He's a better fisherman than grandpa and a lot easier to get along with. Plus he's willing and able to use the fish finder. So today's experience should be much more enjoyable. Hopefully I'll land the big one today.

July 30 2:00 PM
Day 4 - still haven't caught anything ( well I caught a little one we tossed back,but I'm not willing to officially acknowledge that). They're going back this afternoon, but I'm staying here. I have come to realize that God was sending me a message - I shouldn't be here. He wanted me to spend these five days in some other way and some other place. Everybody else caught at least nine fish,so it wasn't the lake or the weather. I got some bites and lost a couple, but mostly just sat in the boat feeling sorry for myself and getting in the way. Yesterday was a good day. We found a good lake. The weather was beautiful. Rod was having good luck, catching a bunch of bass. We got on the lake around seven in the morning and got off just as it was getting dark. The best part was late in the evening, after the sun had gone down. The lake was smooth as glass, the temperature was perfect and the fish were biting. Jerry put a good bait on his line and the pike bit on it as soon as it dropped in the water. He caught four fish in twenty minutes, most of which was spent taking the hook out. Technically, I caught one of those four fish because he gave me the same bait, but I'm considering it his fish. Besides, we ended up throwing it back later because we didn't need another small pike. Since I don't want the only fish I caught to be a small crappy fish not worth keeping, I'm denying credit. Besides, it was a pretty boring catch. I dropped the bait in and reeled into the boat within thirty seconds. We could have caught more, but we had no need for small pike and it was getting dark. We trolled back to the boat launch and Rod caught a nice bass. We all enjoyed watching it leap from the water and Jerry thought it was a very nice catch. He thought Grandpa would be pretty excited, but he had already caught one just a litte bit bigger. Grandpa either has the best luck of the group or is a better fisherman then he appears to be, because I think he caught the most fish and the biggest fish. Maybe his luck and his son's driving was an unbeatable combination.

Fishing is not for me. I just wasted four days. I could have and should have been working on my writing. Or doing pretty much anything else. And I think God was telling me so by not sending any fish my way. That's the only explanation, the only difference between me and the rest of the group. He's sending a pretty clear message that I should have stayed home and that I shouldn't go on any more fishing trips. When my son is old enough, I might go then. But I would feel wrong going any other time and possibly even then.

Well I'm off to work on my writing.

Saturday, July 30, 2005

Instruction Manual

I knew somebody at my church that had a shirt that read "If all else fails, consult the Instruction Manual". Instuctional Manual refers to the Bible. I always liked that shirt. That seems like an excellent way to think of the Bible. To Christians, it is the ultimate source for how to do things and how things are suppossed to work. But like all instructional manuals, it sometimes relys on common sense, better described as generally accepted assummptions, to fill in the blanks. Also, every instructional manual contains mistakes (usually poorly written or described instead of blatant mistakes) that the reader will have to catch, sometimes the hard way. That also applies to the Bible. Finally, every instruction manual does not tell you absolutely everything you need to know to operate. Some things are just too vaguely described, too open for different interpertations or just plain not covered. I think probably ninety percent of the Bible falls into this category.

I have read most of the Bible. I haven't read it cover to cover. I could never sit through Psalms and haven't read a couple of Old Testament books after Psalms. I think there's a couple of epistles I haven't read yet. But unlike the majority of Christians, I do read the Bible outside of Church and have even read over 3/4 of it. I have to admit, it never really did much for me. It's like reading a horrorscope. It rings true a lot of times, but the words are vague enough that every reader will gain radically different insights from the same set of words. Even the same person can get different insights at different times. In other words, the words themselves are basically meaningless and empty. It's the communion with God that it inspires that really matters. Personally, I commune with God by prayer much more than the Bible. But everyone sparks the connection in their own way.

Infomercial Faith

My wife and most of her family have what I'm going to call "Infomercial Faith" They shop at Christian bookstores, listen to Christian music, spout Christian pithy sayings, decorate their homes with Christian decorations and read Christian self-help books. Their faith is anagalous to buying something from QVC or Tony Little. Improve your relationship with God for only 19.99! With three easy steps, you can work your way into heaven! Christianity has found a slick marketing plan and plenty of suckers to buy into it. Now, don't get me wrong. Just because you bought it on the Home Shopping Network doesn't mean it's not a good product. Likewise, I'm not saying my wife and her family have faith based on a marketing plan without any true connection with God. Hey if a snappy marketing plan or a good dose of guilt works, that's fine by me. But I am suspicious of anyone whose faith is strongly influenced by all of the Christian material available today. I believe it is a facade, a false front, that can hide true faith. It can make someone who has no relationship with God appear to have a good one. Even worse, the person using the material may not realize it's a facade either. The material itself is not bad. In fact, much of it is good, helpful reference material. However, it must be used carefully and must not be the center of your relationship with God. No book, video, or song can significantly improve your chances of achieving and enjoying Eternal Life. Nor can any Church or other organized group activity. All of these things can be helpful. All of these things can provide guidance and knowledge and occassionally praise or reminders of God's Power and Grace. But ultimately Spiritual Truth can only come from one place - one on one time with God.

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Return to Flight

Well, they finally got the shuttle program going again. woo hoo. My question: Why did they bother creating the shuttle to begin with? Why did they follow up a series of silly little moonwalks with a silly shuttle program????? Instead of wasting time and huge amounts of money on a meaningless shuttle, they should have built a colony on the moon. People were bored with the Apollo program and therefore unwilling to pay for it. Of course they were bored, all they did was plan brief missions where they bounced around on the moon for a few hours. Five or six missions of that nature is more then enough. Instead of planning endless pointless moon hops until Congress wisely cut off the money, they should have started planning a colony program as soon as Apollo 12 came back. That would have kept people engaged and the money flowing. Instead they did skylab, which nobody remembers and then created the shuttle, a stupid idea from its inception. And instead of doing the logical thing - build a lunar station- they waste time and money on a orbiting space station that can serve no useful purpose.

Getting into space is absolutely essential to our future. It will be the lifeblood of our society and our salvation. We can stop fighting useless wars on earth and shoot for the stars. We don't have to worry about population pressures. The development of space technology will provide advancement normally only possible under the impetus of war. Solving the problems of colonization in space will provide us tools for survival here on Earth. I can go on and on, the space program has the potential to be the single most important program of the nation. It could also create a global community as different nations pool their resources.

NASA is a completely useless organization that has screwed up the space program. Once it reached the moon, it's usefullness disappeared. It should be killed and replaced by an international coalition (with both government and private sector members) that might actually get something done. Probably at half the price.

Right to be Stupid

Why is prostitution illegal? Why do strip clubs have restrictions placed on what the dancers can do? Why does pornography have to fight the legal system? Why are alcohol and tobacco legal but marijuana is not? Why are any drugs illegal? Why would any government discriminate against people because of race, gender, or sexual orientation? Why would government prevent two people from making a permanent, legally binding commitment, just because they happen to be the same gender? Why would anyone care if someone chooses to take more than one spouse? Why would anyone prevent a terminally ill patient in incredible pain from asking for assistance in ending their life?

These are all examples of laws that make no sense to me. Some of them are clearly problems that need to be addressed, but making them illegal is a way to avoid the problem, to avoid dealing with it and addressing it constructively. Others may have a legitimate reason for being illegal that I am not aware of. But I think most just boil down to one thing: the majority feel they have the right to tell the minority what to do. The "right" feel the need to correct the "wrongs" of others. Some of these things are sins and behaviors that individuals should not be involved with. But the real sin, the real wrong, is the moral superiority of those who passed such laws and support such laws and encourage more such laws. These are the ones who need to fall to their knees and beg God's forgiveness. God will decide right and wrong, not Man.

I have written a Constitutional Amendment that I would Love to see passed to discourage stupid laws like the ones listed above. It would never get passed in the world we live in, but a guy can dream can't he? Read it and let me know what you think.

Monday, July 25, 2005

Bush's America

USA Today published an article entitled Taking the pulse of Bush's America that I think is a pretty accurate reflection.

Here's my favorite quote from a guy talking about people's view of Bush:
"They think it's un-American to say anything bad about Bush," he says. "Religion and politics have become too mixed, and that's not healthy."

Sidney Crosby

I sure feel sorry for Sidney Crosby. He's been hyped as the next Mario Lemieux or Wayne Gretzky. Now he's going to be drafted by the Pittsburgh Penguins, one of the worst teams in the NHL. Of course they were so bad because they had no money. Supposedly the new player's contract will relieve that issue until they can fix the money pinch and build a new arena. But I digress. This kid will be expected to be the center of the team. To bring a team from the bottom rung all the way to the top, practically singlehanded. That's an awful lot of pressure. I sure wouldn't want to be in his skates.

PS It sure feels good to be able to talk about hockey again.

Friday, July 22, 2005

Darwin among Believers

Here's an article on creationism vs evolution. This person argues that the two theories can co-exist and to deny evolution as fact is like saying gravity doesn't exist. Makes sense to me.

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Election 2000

This is really beating a dead horse. Bush duped the American public into voting for him in 2004, with the Democrats helping by choosing an extremely lame candidate. Nonetheless, the 2000 election still stings. The electoral college has been a fucked up way to elect the president since George Washington stepped down. The 2000 election was an excellent example of how a guy that lost the election by over half a million votes could still win on a legal technicality. The Supreme Court took the election into their own hands and elected Bush in a 5-4 decision. Apparently those 5 votes matter more than 540,000 votes.

I found this article while reading about the Supreme Court nomination process. It talks about a flawed election and the role of the Supreme Court that occured more than 5 years ago, but it's so informative and told in such a disturbingly amusing way that I couldn't resist posting it.

Legislating from the Bench

Bush said over and over again that he would appoint a Supreme Court justice that would not legislate from the bench. His nomination certainly seems to fit that criteria.

What I don't understand is why is legislating from the bench a bad thing?? I'm not necessarily saying it's OK, but I don't see the problem with it. Maybe I'm just missing something. One of the organizations that Roberts belongs to is the Federalist Society. Their belief is that the role of the judicial branch is to say what the law is, not what the law should be. I'm not sure I agree with that. The job of the judiciary is to interpret the law and how it applies to specific cases. Its job is to look at the facts, including the existing laws, and find the fairest and most just outcome. Sometimes legislation falls short. The judiciary shouldn't let a flaw in the legal system prevent fair and just judgments.

Another argument often heard is appointing judges that will uphold the constitution. That's just a stupid statement. All judges, no matter what their ideology, will treat that as their primary responsibility. But when you look at the Constitution, you'll realize that it is a short document that lays out the structure of government. It really offers very little help in interpreting modern issues. After all, Roe v Wade was decided based on Constitutional right to privacy. The Constitution, by neccessity or design, is open-ended and vague. That's probably why it's lasted over 200 years - the little it says is hard to argue.

The true nature of government is fluidic and changing, adopting to current circumstance, defined by all three branches of government in equal proportion. Saying the judicial branch shouldn't legislate from the bench is a violation of one of our most important principles: checks and balances.

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Politics and Defense

It appears Hillary Clinton is gaining credibility as a presidential candidate. She's been making an effort to shore up her weak spots. McCain was on Leno last night and said she would make a good Secretary of Defense. That's a pretty solid boost, considering a woman president, especially a Democrat, would have to fight image problems in that area. It's what she's been focusing on lately. McCain is probably encouraging a Hillary candicacy because that would improve his own chances. I know if I was choosing between him and Hillary, I would easily choose McCain. McCain and Gore are the only contenders so far that I actually like and would Want to vote for. I know I won't vote for Kerry again.

As I've said before, Bush ignores the nation that poses the greatest threat to the world - North Korea - because it possesses neither oil nor Islam. Hillary pointed out quite clearly the result of that policy:

At an April Armed Services Committee hearing, Clinton won headlines after her persistent questioning led Vice Adm. Lowell Jacoby, chief of the Defense Intelligence Agency, to admit that North Korea may now be able to arm missiles with nuclear warheads.

"The North Koreans have the ability to arm a missile with a nuclear device that can reach the United States," she said. "Put simply, they couldn't do that when George Bush became president, and now they can."

Friday, July 15, 2005

Baby Girl

I have a new niece! My middle brother just had a baby girl. That makes 4 nephews and 1 niece.
Penelope Jane
Born 7/15/05 2:57 p.m.
20.5" long,
8lb 3oz

Wednesday, July 13, 2005


I just read an email from the youth pastor at a church I used to go to. In it, he feels obligated to point out that the senior pastor runs the church in a spiritual abusive manner. He tried confronting the pastor directly, talking to the board, everything he could. Finally, after what I was sure was very difficult soul searching and fervent prayer (in addition to consulting a respected pastor), he sent an email to the congregation. The youth pastor had resigned at this point by the way. I also felt that something was wrong with that pastor and I was grateful to see someone I respect call him out on it and hold him accountable.

I also thought you might want to read about what I believe in.

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Hockey and Unions

Hockey is the only sport I pay any attention to. It's the only sport worth watching. It's a sport that has everything. It has grace and style. It has non stop action, both violent and non violent. Hitting is part of the game but does not define the game. It is completely possible to have a game where no one gets hit at all. It is kind of annoying when a fight breaks out (maybe 1 out of 15 games), except when it's a close game and the fight is part of the drama and tension. You can't beat the drama and excitement of a close hockey game where the stakes are high. And of course there is no equal to the Stanley Cup. No other sport has a trophy worth fighting for like the Stanley Cup. I also like the game because it is both extremely simple and strategically complex. To play or watch the game you only need to know one thing - get the puck in your opponents net. The rules are there to make gameplay better, not define the game. Unlike baseball or football, if there were no rules, you can still have a game.

  • American Football - the point of the game is to run until someone knocks you down, seems kind of stupid and barbaric to me - I actually find this sport offensive

  • Baseball- 2 hours of boredom with Maybe 2 minutes of excitement, golf is more interesting than baseball, this is a sport that has no place in today fast paced society

  • Basketball- The sport is kind of cool, but the professional level players are distracting. Mostly just never got into it, especially since it's on at the same time as hockey

  • Soccer (Football for everyone but us Americans) - Never really caught on in America, but I would probably like it - it's hockey without the smooth flowing nature of playing on ice

If I were President, I would try to change the national pastime from baseball to hockey. Instead of throwing the first pitch, I would drop the first puck (Although I think that particular thought may be motivated by an extremely strong desire that no one witness me throwing a ball - it's not a pretty site.)

The hockey lockout this season is the ultimate example of why I think unions have outlived their purpose. Manny Legace, a Red Wing, put it best when he said we lost a season for no reason. I've never heard of a union in modern society that fights to protect its members from employer abuses. Usually its the union committing the abuses, as union leaders fight to get everything they possibly can, even if it's more than the employer can afford and more than the employees really need.

I believe both unions and political parties should have a statute of limitations. Get a group of people together to rally around a common cause. Once the cause has been accomplished, the group is disbanded. If you don't then the group no longer becomes about the cause, it becomes about keeping the group alive and fighting the opposition just for the sake of fighting. Look at the UAW or the Teamsters. Those are corporations in themselves whose sole reason for existence is to be antagonistic to employers.

      Monday, July 11, 2005

      Multiple Supremes?

      This article by an Associated Press writer offers all the recent tidbits circulating about the Supreme Court. It says Bush is meeting Democrats, that's a good sign. On NPR, they also pointed out that he doesn't have to worry about pleasing his Republican base, since he cannot run again. That means he can pretty much appoint whomever he pleases. That could go either way, but I have a feeling that will be a good thing. My gut tells me Bush wants to appoint the right person for the job. I think he's going to make this pick on his own, without relying too heavily on his usual advisors. That would be a very good thing, for he tends to surround himself with poor advisors. He's not going to pick someone left wing, but I think a moderate conservative with a proven track record has a good chance. I'm just feeling positive today. I'm feeling good about the President and his ability to make this decision.

      The other big question is whether Rehnquist will retire. My feeling is that he won't. If he was going to do it, he would have done it already. I don't think he will, I think he wants to work as long as possible. I've heard it mentioned that he idolizes John Marshall and that he wants to serve as long as he did. I don't think he's going to make it to 35 years as Chief Justice (he'd have to serve until 2021 and still be heathy at 97). But in January 2007, he will have been on the court for 35 years. He might be making that his goal. Another likely motivation is the desire to keep working despite the Cancer. Arlen Spectre explained that motivation pretty well: "Having being engaged in a bout with cancer myself, I know that it's good to get up every morning and have something that you have to do, something that is important to do"

      Specter and others have suggested O'Conner could replace Rehnquist if he does retire. That would be interesting. She's basically been chief justice for a while anyway because of her swing vote status. She apparently would be willing to take the job if offered. Personally, I don't think Bush would do that. I think he would see her as a judge legislating from the bench, the one thing he has consistently stood against when asked about the Supreme Court. Not to mention that that would threaten his ability to create a lasting change on the court.

      Word of the Day

      My wife and I keep encountering the work dysentery in our reading. When it came up in dinner conversation, I finally had to look it up. Apperently it's a severe form of diarrhea (which I also had to look up to be sure) where you have loose,watery, and bloody stool. The version I always hear about is caused by contaminated water. So there you go, I learned something new. I just felt like sharing my newfound knowledge. Enjoy.

      Saturday, July 09, 2005

      Perfect Parent

      I had a realization as I was walking. I was thinking about God's Plan vs Worldly Demands. I walked past roadkill and breathed exhaust fumes, wondering why God would allow bad things to happen. If he's in control of everything, why is the world so messed up?

      The answer is the world is not really all that messed up. Even when things seem bad, God is allowing them to happen for a reason, even if we don't know what the reason is. Another important thing to remember that God is the perfect parent. He gave us free will. He allows us to make our own decisions and make our own mistakes. He rarely interferes and simply nudges once in a while if necessary. He refuses to be overly protective and only helps when we ask Him to. He never criticizes and is always loving and supportive. (Sidenote: I count myself extremely fortunate to have parents that also have all these qualities.)

      I also got to thinking about evil. I don't believe anything is inherently evil. Nothing is bad in and of itself. Take the nuclear bomb for example. Even though it was created for destruction, the very first time it was used, it ended a war and ushered in peace. If Great Britain had the bomb in 1939, they could have used it when Hitler invaded Poland. After a few German cities had been destroyed, Hitler would have backed down and World War II would have been avoided. Once the bomb was used once, it's mere existence prevented conflicts from escalating to large scale wars because everybody feared nuclear war.

      Thursday, July 07, 2005

      Are we Alone?

      Whether we are alone in the universe is one of those big questions that can not be definitively answered. The Drake Equation is often used to estimate the number of extraterrestrial civilizations in our galaxy with which we might come in contact. I can't quite figure out how Drake used that equation to estimate 10,000 civilization. The way I look at in a universe of at least 200 billion stars in our galaxy alone and a theoretically infinite number of galaxies, intelligent life had to appear Somewhere. Even if it only occurs .0000001 % of the time, there would still be over 200 other civilizations out there! The only way you can deny the possiblitity is a extremely literal translation of religious beliefs.

      Traditional religious people who belief in the Creation will probably argue that God created the Earth and that it is the only place he created life. However, to me, there is nothing to suggest that God only created life here. You can believe in Creation and still believe in Extra Terrestials. I found a site that tries to reconcile the Bible and astrophysics, I haven't spent much time there yet, but it looked like it might have some interesting points.

      By the way, I also believe that Creationism and Evolution do Not contradict each other. I don't think God created the earth in 6 days is intended to be interpreted literally. A "day" could be thousands or millions of years. I think Moses (or God speaking to Moses) was just keeping it simple so it could be understood at the time. I think natural selection is a tool that God uses to control his creation. Let creation evolve on its own and just poke your finger in once in a while to give it a nudge if you don't like where it's going.

      Wednesday, July 06, 2005


      My aunt saw my book on the Republican Party I was reading over the weekend and said that was uninteresting. She suggested reading about plants growing instead. I still think politics is more interesting, but I did find this article on grass that might help me take care of my yard.

      Tuesday, July 05, 2005

      Alex Kozinski

      After reading the various blogs that revolve around the hub of Instapundit, I noticed a common theme: everyone likes Alex Kozinski. I liked what I saw as well, so I'm going to hope and pray that he gets Bush's attention.

      Mass Media

      A lot of the media is being criticized for lack of objectivity, for being biased. I'm reading about politics in the late 1800's and back then each party had papers loyal to it. When you picked up a newspaper, you knew it was guaranteed to be biased and what the bias would be. Personally I think that makes a lot more sense then the pretending media does today. Fox News should drop the Fair and Balanced moniker and just admit who they are: The Network for Right Wingers. The same for New York Times, just admit they are The Newspaper for Liberal Bias. Don't hide your bias, embrace it! Then we can read or view the media and know where it's coming from and how to intrepret it.

      Of course the world is not as black and white as the political right/left concept tries to make it. This is a relative world we live in, there is no escaping that. Personally, I think the "liberal bias" in the media is a reflection of the nature of journalism. The job of a reporter is to report every perspective, to show the direction the world is taking. A reporter is supposed to have his finger on the pulse of change. Entertainers also reflect change, if they are not creating the change to begin with. And of course all journalism is supposed to report the facts, to report the truth. All of these things are the values of a liberal. The liberal embraces change, embraces freedom, embraces liberty. The conservative tries to protect current values. Sometimes this means ignoring facts, fabricating truth, in order to preserve the existing worldview.

      The greatest problem with mass media today is money. The networks insist on making a profit. This means they must avoid aggravating advertisers. It also means the news must be slanted to attract viewers and ratings. They spend their money on dozens of talking heads, with no money left to spend on actual research. The Truth often suffers in the pursuit of personal gain.

      Political Supremes

      Ann Althouse has a good post with interesting comments on the stance Democrats and Republicans are taking on the Supreme Court. McCain also gets discussed a lot.

      Military Enlistment

      The military, not surprisingly, is encouraging parents to allow their children to enlist. Although I don't think we should have gotten involved in the war that caused the enlistment problems, the best way to keep our people safe and get them out as quickly as possible is to make sure they have all the resources they need, including personnel.

      There's very few things in this world worse then parents involved in and controlling every decision their children make. Parents need to let their children make mistakes, allow them to injure themselves. They must allow them to make monumental screw ups and figure out how to extract themselves. Otherwise, they will never be self sufficient confident adults. Of course, military enrollment is none of those things anyway. It's a chance for children to become adults, to gain life experience. It's a chance for them to find themselves. It seems like it would be particularly effective as a positive life experience if the child had trouble in school. Both college and the military are excellent ways to form character independent of parents. Community college is good to save money but going off to college and being completely independent of parents is even more important than the academics. I encourage minimal phone calls home and visit only when absolutely necessary. If possible, don't take any money from the parents either. That's how I went through school and highly recommend it. The military basically forces all of these growth factors and then adds plenty more. Yes, the military can be a dangerous place to be. But so can driving down the road or walking across the street. Going through life sheltered from danger is no way to live a life.

      I think an incentive program that functions as a pseudo draft would be an appropriate way to improve recruitment. Even a draft would be acceptable as far as I'm concerned, but I don't think that produces the best military force, especially in today's world. In Starship Troopers by Robert Heinlein everyone had to serve in the military before they could vote. That doesn't seem very practical. Perhaps it would work if you have a list of choices that a young citizen has to choose from before being allowed to vote ( or some other incentive like better job placement resources or additional college grants). Examples of civil service choices could be military service, peace corps, relief efforts, campaign workers, environmental cleanup crews. Anything that benefits greater good and requires young adults for basic tasks (gophers or grunts). Perhaps set it up so that when someone turns 18, they do more than just fill out a piece of paper and send it in. They are required to attend a seminar or something that educates them on their options. Maybe they would takes tests to determine what civil service best fits them. Perhaps just attending the program would be sufficient to gain the right to vote.

      I myself have never joined the military. At the time I thought it meant becoming a mindless automaton, which is the antithesis of what I strive to be. I now realize that conclusion is not necessarily true. But I'm also a complete clutz and have no hand eye coordination. I would probably end up shooting myself or running over somebody with a humvee. And I reflexively resist being given orders - I have to agree with something before I do it. I also hate neatness and tidyness - cleaning only occurs to me when the stench gets overpowering or I can no longer use the thing that needs to be cleaned. Not to mention I'm a chickenshit with no backbone when it comes to things that require action. I also have a MacGyver style discomfort with guns. So the military was not a good fit for me. Besides, I did good in school and got a good scholarship so I didn't need the military.

      PS The other way to improve recruitment would be to restore confidence that our soldiers are being sacrificed for a good reason. People don't mind volunteering for their death if it's for a cause they believe in. Bush can not provide that confidence, nor can anyone associated with him. No one who takes the time to think about it logically can believe in Bush or his administration when it comes to military action.

      Supreme Court Nominees

      I wanted to find out who the possible nominees are.

      Of course, Alberto Gonzales, Bush's lawyer and good buddy gets a lot of attention. Right Wing groups are lobbying against him as too moderate. That's a positive recommendation, as far as I'm concerned. However, I don't think he'll be nominated. I don't think the job fits his temperament/style/competencies. He strikes me as a lawyer, not a judge. He'd rather be arguing cases, not deciding them. I'm not sure if Bush appointing him to Texas Supreme Court and then bringing him to Washington a year later supports or denies that theory.

      The Volokh Conspiracy is suggesting Alex Kozinski. There's other interesting posts on the Supreme Court as well. I found the post on the process Clinton went through informative, for instance.

      Based on two hours of internet research and using the AP Short List as the "ballot", I vote for James Harvie Wilkinson III. Although I don't think Bush will choose someone from this list. I think he'll try to find a woman. I hope he picks a moderate conservative. But given his history of appointments, I think he'll go for someone controversial, just to see if he can get away with it, which he probably will.

      Other Candidates:
      Larry Thompson
      Michael McConnel
      Michael Luttig
      Samuel Alito
      Edith Jones
      Emilio Garza
      Theodore Olson

      Underneath Their Robes offers a good summary of potential nominees. They also offer some unconventional recommendations, be sure to check it out!

      The Supreme Court Nomination Blog provides pretty detailed summaries of each candidate. The links are on the navigation bar on the right.

      Other sites I found, some funny, some serious:
      Talk Left
      Blogs for Bush
      Sadly No
      Melanie Kirkpatrick, Wall Street Journal

      Africa Aid

      It looks like Bush is coming around on his position for Africa Aid and offering to increase funding.

      Africa is a continent that needs a lot of support from the world's economic powers. It is the globe's biggest source of human suffering. Relief of suffering - helping those who cannot help themselves - is the responsibility of everyone. This is a central Christian value, but it is also a basic human value.

      This sounds idealistic and unpractical. It is. But there are many practical justifications as well. The article I linked above has good examples. Providing aid to Africa can be part of the fight against terrorism. It can be part of the quest for oil. It can be a source of new medicines and prevention of new diseases or spreading of existing ones. But even if there were no practical reasons, aid for third world countries is a good thing to do. Such aid could easily become a source of endless spending. But if we can figure out a way to do it right and give it proper attention and priority, it's worth it.

      Bush Supreme Court

      Bush and his Sureme Court vacancy weighs heavy on my heart. I pray for him to find a candidate who will serve God's will wisely and carefully, while also serving to make the country the best it can be. I believe a judge should be neither right wing nor left wing, neither conservative nor liberal. It is a judges job to be unbiased and impartial and to decide each case individually first by what will best serve the individual and the country now and in the future, then by Constitutional principles, then by personal principles (which are often influenced by spiritual beliefs).

      This article summarizes what Bush has made known publicly about what he is looking for in a Supreme Court nominee. He says he wants someone who will "strictly interpret the Constitution" and "not use the bench to write social policy." That's politician speak for "I only want someone that intreprets the Constitution in the same way I do." Both sides will use almost that same language and when they do, they are saying exactly the opposite of what the words indicate- they are saying they do want such a person, as long as that person shares their views.

      Abortion is closely related to Supreme Court nominee issues. It shouldn't be, but it is. So here's my two cents. I believe abortion is wrong. I would never have an abortion or encourage anyone else to have an abortion. But it should not be illegal. It should not be decided by federal legislators or Supreme Court justices. It is a very complex issue, and both the Pro-Life movement and the Pro-Choice movement miss the point. I believe O'Conners view is that if the child is viable (which I intrepret as able to survive on its own outside the womb), it should be protected. Otherwise, the woman's choice has to be protected. I may be mistaken in thinking that is O'Conners view, but it is certainly mine. The Pro-Choice people need to remember that a woman is deciding not only what to do with her own body, but also that of the child within her. We don't know at what point that child becomes a human life, but I believe that it occurs around week 20. Therefore, I believe first trimester abortions should not be considered murder. Third trimester abortions are the taking of a human life, I don't see how anyone could reasonably deny that. The location of the magic line that divides between human life and an organized growth of cells growing inside a woman's body has to be decided by each individual based on their own personal moral convictions.

      Friday, July 01, 2005

      Minority Protection

      On the O'Reilly Factor the other day, he spouted some poll where 75% of people polled agreed with him. The guest was against the issue and said the Bill of Rights was created in large part to protect the minority. O'Reilly discarded that argument, saying the majority should be respected. My response - it is one of government's primary responsibilities to protect the interests of All People. Since the minority needs protection the most, it is government's job to provide that protection. Majority rules is the position of last resort to be used only when no consensus is possible. Our system of government will always suffer from that fatal flaw- majority rules.

      Republican Principles

      I am reading Grand Old Party as research for an essay comparing Republicans, Democrats, and Biblical Christian Values.

      Here's what I've found so far. First of all, the party during the time of Lincoln and the Civil War had nothing in common with the Republican Party as we know it today or even by 1870. It was formed as an opposition party against the Democrats on really nothing more than an anti-slavery platform. Until Reconstruction became unpopular, it was pretty much nothing more than anti-slavery,anti-South and anti-Democrat.

      After 1870, several basic principles emerged that are still present today.
      1. Business - Republican and Big Business have always been closely related and supportive of each other

      2. Moral Superiority - It has always been a party driven by Protestant Christian values. Even during periods of high Republican corruption, the party is driven by the believe that they have moral superiority over any other party or group of people. Therefore, it is willing to legislate it's values to force it's moral values on the Nation.

      3. Powerful Federal Government - Since its origins, the Republican Party hasn't hesitated to make government as big as it needed to be to support their positions. This is closely related to their Moral Superiority. Although I haven't gotten to the Reagan era in my studies, I think the small government propaganda of that era was just false advertising.

      4. Hypocrisy - Like many politicians and religious people, Republicans suffer from a belief that they are always right, even when they're clearly not. They refuse to admit or or are unable to see wrong in their own ranks. They often create a false worldview to justify words and actions (ie Trickle Down Economics,Iraq war).

      5. Blind Loyalty - Republicans often form a united front where party platform matters more than individual values. Patriotism is often the form this blind loyalty takes, as Republican moral superiority leads them to belief they are the moral compass of the Nation. A group of politicians agreeing to stay united can be viewed as a strength, but in my experience this undermines the values held by the Founders and instilled in the Nation.

      It seems Democrats have always stuggled with Morals and Ethics more so then Republicans. Neither party is perfect in this department of course, but it does seem to be a trend that contributes to Republican moral superiority.

      O'Conner Supreme Court

      The worst has happened, as far as the Supreme Court is concerned. The most important member for fairness and balance, Sandra Day O'Connor has announced her retirement. With that announcement, no matter who Bush nominates to replace her will result in an Extremely biased Court. Any hope of fair Supreme Court judgment will become almost non-existent. Bush will cement his dictatorial hold over all three branches of the government. In this case, the hold will outlast his Presidency. If any other justices retire, it will make it even worse. We can pretty much write off any hope of fairness and reason emerging from the Supreme Court. This country is heading in a very dark direction. Only a miracle could prevent the ungodly conservative movement from controlling our country.