GeologicalScienceBlog - subjects include Geology, Climatology, Environmental Science, NASCAR, Beer, Property Rights, Random Thoughts, & Politics from a Christian Conservative/Libertarian/pragmatist viewpoint. As a Dad & Grandad, I am concerned about the overgrowth of government at the expense of freedom. Background - two degrees in Geology (BS '77, MS '90), started studying Geology beginning Senior Year of high school (1971 - 1972) <68>

Saturday, April 30, 2005

Random Thoughts - IV

While at breakfast with friends this morning, I noticed a sign of the ever-increasing level of government intrusion.

Do we really need Nutrition Labels on the side of bottles of Tabasco Sauce?
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Pass the Word - Support the Bricker Amendment

From Hamstermotor: The Bricker Amendment is something that Neal Boortz has been speaking of, peridocially, for years.

Boortz and others have stated repeatedly that our constitution could be over-ruled by international treaties and for years I have wondered "why did our founders do this?", this seems to be one of the glaring flaws in the constitution. But then that is why our founders left us with the Amendment system, to fix the flaws.

As submitted by Republican Senator John Bricker, in 1953, this amendment would restore some of the eroded aspects of our national sovereignty.

As proposed:

Sect. 1. A provision of a treaty which conflicts with this constitution shall not be of any force or effect.
Sect. 2. A treaty shall become effective as internal law in the United States only through legislation which would be valid in the absence of a treaty.
Sect. 3. Congress shall have power to regulate all executive and other agreements with any foreign power or international organization. All such agreements shall be subject to the limitations imposed on treaties by this article.
Sect. 4. The Congress shall have the power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.

More from the Hamstermotor post:

"Bricker's bill would have established that the United States would be prohibited from entering into any international government which, like the UN, so clearly violates our Constitution. It would have made impossible the entrance of the United States into any non-democratic international government. It would also, at the same time, have led the State governments into questioning the burgeoning Federal government's laws as well."

..."The 83rd Congress voted on Bricker's proposal in 1953, and was defeated by a single vote when the Democrats and the Eisenhower Administration joined together to preserve the government's interventionist policies."

Other links for your reading pleasure include Wikipedia and this short history.

Maybe this is a good place to start your re-education into the basics of American constitution and its history.

[More to follow...]
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Friday, April 29, 2005

On the Need for Holding the Moral High Ground

The concept of calling for a return to the core values is not a desire for a theocracy. It is a desire to apply the moral brakes to human cultures to slow the continual downward slide that is human nature (blogged about earlier this morning).

When the "people of the book", whether they be Christian, Jewish, or mainstream Muslim, call for a "return to values" it is not because they wish to project an image of being better than everyone else. It is because they recognize human nature and because they recognize that trying to adhere to a "rule book", the Bible, the Torah, the Koran, etc., is necessary to combat the natural tendency towards anarchy, cultural and personal.

Most people of faith in the United States are sensible people. Most of them recognize that ultimately, what happens between consenting adults behind closed doors is between themselves and God. It is when such behaviors are thrown in our faces that we feel compelled to action. There is a time, a place, and an appropriate age for our children to learn that there are people that practice "out of the mainstream" behaviors (euphemistically (sp.?) speaking).

TV publicity gives an air of legitimacy to almost anyone presented on-air. Why do we need to put people such as Mary Kay LaTourneau (sp.?) and her former student on programs such as Entertainment Tonight? Even when we don't watch these programs, the ads and previews make sure we know about the subjects of upcoming shows. There is no biological, cultural, nor moral justification for her behavior. She ruined her marriage. What sort of role model is she for her children by her husband? This is one reason why radical Muslims hate us (or at least it gives them an excuse). This sort of behavior has always happened, but to put it out "front and center" and to publicize their upcoming wedding reeks of a decaying culture.

The (sensible) people of faith should hold the moral "high ground", not because we think we are better than everyone else, but perhaps because we recognize and try to remediate our sinful, human nature. And we have a "rule book". Yes, even devout Christians have temptations and urges, but God gives us free choice to either follow that temptation or to seek strength through prayer and conference with others for support. When Christians "fall off the wagon", it is not a failure of Christianity, it is a failure of human nature. Churches are not intended to house angels.
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On the Value of Having Core Values

Much ado has been made recently (and blogged about here - April 24, April 18, March 15,... and elseswhere) comparing Christian conservatives to Nazis, theocrats, the Taliban, and numerous other rogues. And primarily for their collective public concerns for Terri Schiavo and the general direction of the judiciary branch of government.

David Limbaugh has researched and extensively written (including today's Townhall.com column) about the issue of anti-Christian rhetoric, verbal and legal attacks, i.e., a general MSM/Lib/Leftist hysteria that we are sliding downward into a Christian theocracy and a modern-day Inquisition.

Occasionally, nutcases can be driven to action by the harping, e.g., the Wedgewood Baptist Church shooting in Fort Worth, TX, where the shooter stated that he "hated Christians". Was he acting on long-held prejudices, was he mistreated in his childhood by a self-proclaimed Christian, was he acting on the words of criticism from Lib/Leftists,...? I don't know where the case has gone since then. I recall a case 15 to 20 years ago in Atlanta where a very large woman beat a neighbor to death with a shotgun. She didn't shoot him, she just bashed his head in with the barrel. As the police were dragging her away, she was hollering "Praise the Lord" (I saw the tape on TV). I think I can safely say that Jesus would not be pleased with her version of "delivering the message." This is not a failure of Christianity, this is a failure of individual humans.

This is not to say that one cannot engage in thoughtful criticism and/or occasional satire, as some self-proclaimed Christians offer plenty of grist for discussion, satire,.... But when critics, such as Maureen Dowd and Paul Krugman, engage in hyperbole, nothing is solved. Most sensible people can nod their heads when presented with sensible criticisms.

In the Terri Schiavo case, if her extended family had universally agreed with the actions taken by Michael, et al, we likely would have heard nothing about it. It happens, and ultimately it is something between God and those that participate. As stated here previously, when presented with such a dilemma, shouldn't we err on the side of life? If we err on the side of death, what comes after?

As for the judiciary, as David Limbaugh more articulately states, the desire is not so much to install theocratic Christian judges, but to appoint judges that understand and apply the concepts of "Original Intent". The Constitution and its Amendments are intended to be the rock-solid foundation of our legal system, changeable through the Amendment process, not at the word of one, three, or five judges. Judges are not supposed to make law, that is the job of the legislative branch. The Constitution is not supposed to be a "living, breathing" document. If your home's foundation is living and breathing, your home is likely to collapse. The Constitution, by another analogy, represents the roots of our culture. Some would make the statement that in a storm, as tree has to be "strong enough to bend", there is an element of truth in that statement, but the flexibility to bend means nothing if the root system fails.

We are a Judeo-Christian culture, end of story. It is that Judeo-Christian culture, descended from European (primarily British) culture, that has given birth and nurtured what is (by most measures) the most religiously diverse, racially diverse, and micro-culturally diverse nation in the world's history. You can go to the "yellow pages" of most large cities and find an extensive menu of churches. For the most part (yes, there are exceptions) Americans have a "live and let live" attitude towards those of other faiths, as long as folks behave themselves. The Lib/Leftists predicted widespread anti-Muslim violence after 9/11, which didn't happen. In a country of 280 million people, you are going to have a few nutcases and there have been a few occurrences, but nothing approaching the predictions of the Lib/Leftists (they have quite a record of non-fulfilled apocalyptic predictions, don't they?).

Humans need moral guardrails, without them we devolve into a "Lord of the Flies" situation. When descending a steep highway in the mountains, it is better to apply the brakes early, so as to maintain a manageable speed, rather than wait until you are going 65 mph and deciding "I ain't gonna make that next curve". The desire to return more "Original Intent" judges to the Federal judiciary is over concern about what is going to happen in the next 10, 20, 30,...years in our culture if some present trends continue. Most believers in the "Original Intent" philosophy are smart enought to separate the good of the Founders from the flawed human behaviors of the time.

Just because some (many?) Europeans see us as puritanical and hyprocritical, that is no reason to follow them over a cliff. As Dr. Thomas Sowell as articulated, "Traditions represent successful behaviors" that have withstood the test of time. Hedonism and license may seem like fun, but when engaged in on a societal basis, the long-term result is cultural anarchy. It is human nature that when one breaks one taboo (and the sky doesn't immediately fall), there is the temptation to break other taboos (been there, done that). Anarchy then leads to tyranny, as people plead for some sort of order.

The people of Afghanistan initially welcomed the Taliban party rule, as it seemed to stop the fighting between various warlords. But it became "meet the new boss, same as the old boss" (or worse in some respects).

In some respects, humanity is always on a steep slope, with anarchy and misery awaiting at "the bottom". Moral underpinnings are about applying the brakes to maintain speed, 'cause there ain't always a "runaway truck ramp" available on the way down. Besides, when properly constructed, the runaway vehicle becomes stuck in the gravel of the ramp. I'm sure you can apply these analogies to humanity in numerous ways.
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Thursday, April 28, 2005

Another Pundit Infected by the Global Warming Big Lie

Now Kathleen Parker has been infected.

She has bought into the politically-driven paradigm that atmospheric carbon dioxide increases cause global warming. The current carbon dioxide content is approximately 390 ppm (go back to my "4 out of 10,000" post of April 17). Remember the analogy, 4 pennies out of 10,000 pennies. If it doubles, it will be 8 pennies out of 10,000 pennies.

Water vapor/droplets account for an estimated 90 - 95% of the Greenhouse Effect (that's 9,000 to 9,500 out of 10,000). Do we see a difference here?

Other plausible human activities that might affect the climate include tropical deforestation, introduction of more particulates into the atmosphere, unburned hydrocarbons, and the aggregation of Urban Heat Islands.

Human-generated carbon dioxide emissions are dwarfed by natural volcanic and hot spring emissions, animal/bacterial respiration, and oceanic releases, especially if the oceans are being heated by increased solar activity.

Thirty years ago today, Newsweek ran an article about the concern over global cooling. It has only been 10,000 - 12,000 years since the last major ice age. We may just be in an "interglacial period". Over all, warm is better for biodiversity than is cold.
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Tuesday, April 26, 2005

Pushing the Panic Button

A post from Pam at Blogmeister USA today has some good excerpts from Dennis Prager's column, about why some Americans seem in a state of panic about the future.

Some of the climate of fear that seems part of the American landscape has several sources. Part of it may be blamed on the MSM. Intense competition for stories sometimes (often) leads reporters to "juice up" stories, to make them more sensational. This has lead to the overuse of the word "crisis", to the point where it seems like everything is a crisis, e.g., high gasoline prices. Sweeps months make this even worse. To some it increases the level of fear, while in others it raises the level of apathy, as they think to themselves "I can't do anything about it anyway.", so they tune it out. In other ways, TV and movies may lead us to expect "quick fixes" on energy issues, the War on Terror, etc..

Another component of fear is the subject of Dennis Prager's column. When people do not have faith in God (in whatever fashion), they tend to see the mortal life as "all there is." Sometimes this leads them to seek shelter in quick fixes, rather than having an understanding that there will be storms to weather, before the prospects of better times here or in the hereafter. "World Peace" sounds like a good idea, but a tyrant's idea of peace may be different than a citizens idea of peace. Neville Chamberlain wanted peace with Hitler, he tried to bargain, but bargaining has no value if both (or all) parties are not of good faith. Tyrants and some cultures see tolerance and patience as signs of weakness. Through the 1970s, 1980s, 1990s, and up until 9/11, we pretty much looked the other way as the Islamist storm gathered. Even if we don't participate, even if we were to evacuate the Middle East, the storm would continue. To them, cease-fires are not times to bargain to an equitable resolution, but rather it is a time to re-arm/reload and develop new strategies.

Having faith helps one understand (or at least accept) that which cannot be understood. Just because "we" (humans) don't have an answer, that doesn't mean that one doesn't exist. It might be beyond our comprehension. Things happen for a reason, though we may never understand the reason, or it may be revealed to us years into the future. Faith and prayer help remind us of the fact that there is much beyond our particular lives and particular hopes and wants. Perhaps it helps us "choose our battles" more carefully, so as to be more effective.

The secular world is self-centered (which is human nature). Having no vision of the "beyond" equals the human fear of the unknown and a fear of the uncertainties of the future. Faith requires a certain number of sacrifices and admission of past and present sins and failings. Past misbehaviors and failings of self-professed people of faith may be the reason why some people have turned away from religion. Some people may feel that they have gone too far down the wrong road to turn around. Some are afraid to speak up to politely challenge statements of religious bigotry and stereotypes. Some lost people bark about the failings of religion to draw attention away from themselves.

Yes, even people of faith experience moments (or longer) of panic and fear, when they forget their guiding principles. Prayer is not just about what we want, but to remind us of "Thy will be done...".

President Bush is no doubt worried at times, given the enormity of his position. But his usually calm demeanor is the result of time spent in prayer and reflection. This is the source of his self-confidence, which the secular see as arrogance. Those on the "inside of faith" find it easier to see faith in others. We don't need the panicked screeching of Al Gore or Hillary Clinton, rather we need firm resolve. Even Bob Marley's "Everything's gonna be alright" in "No Woman No Cry" speaks to the power of faith.

Another way to look at that place reached by prayer (I know it's hard with today's noise) is within the words of the song "Word of God Speak" by Mercy Me, a portion of which follows:

"I'm finding myself in the midst of You
Beyond the music, beyond the noise
All that I need is to be with You
And in the quiet hear Your voice..."

It brings a sense of calming. Try it.
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A Few Thoughts on Gun Ownership and Responsibility

Again there is a story in the Atlanta news about a teenaged girl shot to death at a party because some teenaged boys in a car apparently felt dissed and after firing some shots into the air, then started shooting into a crowd at random. Now family and friends are suffering. This is not a racial issue, it is universal.

The problem is not gun ownership by law-abiding citizens. Of course in the minds of most Lib/Leftists, those are the ones that need to be controlled. Taking the easy way out, yeah, that works. That is easier than actually cracking down on those responsible for the misuse of guns.

When teenagers (as those above) insist on "pretending to be adults" by using guns, then they should be treated as adults, end of story.

In my opinion there are five legitimate uses of guns:
1) Self-defense of family and home (including in some cases livelyhoods)
2) Defense of an innocent third-party
3) Hunting
4) Collecting
5) Target practice

Guns are dangerous tools and must be treated with a little healthy fear. They are not to be used to enhance one's "manhood" nor to end arguments. Gun display and use should be a last resort. A last resort that you need to be ready to "back up in a court of law", if necessary. Gun ownership is not "a love-affair with guns" as characterized by Lib/Leftists, but rather it is a sober responsibility.

We need to start sending the message through media outlets (and education outlets) that, if you pick up a gun and use it, you will be treated as an adult. If you kill someone, you may be executed, otherwise, you may lose decades of your freedom. If the message is responsibly delivered, it may sink in to at least a few young minds. When someone kills or maims with a gun (while not Uses 1 or 2, as above), we can worry about "why" after the trial and conviction. The Lib/Leftist mentality of trying to rehabilitate everyone or giving minors a pass leads to a great deal of grief. A recently released young criminal, that had served time for juvenile manslaughter, shot to death an Atlanta police officer. The police officer left behind a wife, a four year-old son and a two year-old daughter. Fortunately, the criminal was shot to death by another officer.

No one of responsible mind wants to "throw away the key" on all young offenders, but we have to face the truth that some are beyond help, especially once they have killed (unless in proveable self-defense). Their victim doesn't get released from the cemetary, why should they get released from jail?

The "hip-hop" culture has done a great deal of harm in sending the wrong message about how to deal with mistreatment by others (dissing). In a civilized society, we owe some modicum of politeness to others, but respect has to be earned. And young people need to be reminded that no matter how polite or diplomatic you are, you are going to deal with a certain number of jerks in your life. Sometimes you have to respond, sometimes you have to walk away, i.e., choose your battles carefully.

Yes, there is "angry white" music too, some of it punk and some of it heavy metal. Don't bother arguing this point. Years ago I made the mistake of attending a concert by Blue Oyster Cult (I liked their first album years before). You could feel the violence in the air, aside from the "music" being too loud to tolerate. My neighbor and I had to leave early 'cause our heads were pounding.

Perhaps a useful message to deliver to kids is - If a stranger or other person (that you do not value) disses you, why is their opinion important? If their opinion doesn't matter, then don't let it upset you, try to think of their words as "verbal farts", that while bothersome, are not really important to you. Sometimes the best way to "get someone's goat" is to refuse to argue with them. Don't make undue eye contact, don't smirk at them. Just think to yourself that you have more important issues to deal with. If your refusal to argue and fight pushes them to attack, then your self-defense is on stronger legal ground.

The gun is the tool, the human is the operator that makes the choices.

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On Getting Back to Basics - II

Just a quickie reminder...

By mandate of our Constitution, the filibuster is supposed to apply to legislation, not to Presidential appointments, like judges. To insist on an "up or down", a simple majority vote is not a "nuclear option", but returning to original intent. Dr. Thomas Sowell's column today offers more cogent thoughts (I haven't had enought coffee yet to be completely cogent).

On the issue of judicial involvement (or lack thereof) in the Terri Schiavo case, the many of the Lib/Leftists hollering about Conservative criticism of the judges are the same Lib/Leftists that repeatedly slam Justice Clarence Thomas and other judicial candidates up for approval in the Senate.

The recent killings of a judge in Atlanta and a judge's family elsewhere have NOTHING to do with any Conservative criticism.
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Monday, April 25, 2005

A Little More on the Constitution in 2020

A friend passed along an article (linked above) from the Weekly Standard online, written by John Hinderaker, about the Yale University Law School conference titled "The Constitution in 2020".

One aspect of leftist thought that I had never heard about (directly) was President Franklin Roosevelt's "Second Bill of Rights". These include a right to:
All of this sounds good, but who is going to pay for it? These are guaranteed economic benefits (of course subject to government interpretation) that if ever instituted will become permanent expectations from now until the final collapse of this nation.

One hallmark of the Conservative definition of rights is that they do not harm other individuals. You have a right to seek a job. You have a right to seek and earn sufficient earnings to provide for your wants and needs. You have a right to earn the money to pay for a good home, to pay for a good education, and to pay for adequate medical care. To force others (by way of their tax money) to pay for your home, job, education, food, clothing, etc., is using the government as a instrument of plunder. If you have never read "The Law" by Frederic Bastiat, I highly recommend this timeless, though short, explanation of "the proper role of government".

The thoughts of Professor Bruce Ackerman include "Economic citizenship-stakeholder society in which every young adult gets a form of citizenship inheritance of $80,000, funded by a wealth tax..." Hey that sounds wonderful, though how can you morally justify taxing people excessively, simply because they have been successful?

Now what in the world are you teaching "every young adult" except to expect government to meet their needs? If these young adults are taught how to access the system and earn $80,000 on their own, they will appreciate it a great deal more than if they are simply given this money by the government. Nah, then they won't need the government as much.

Where is the logic in punishing people (by higher taxes) for begin successful? That is not what the United States is about. Envy and jealousy are lousy rationales for making tax law. The purpose of the tax system is to fund basic government functions, not to manipulate social change.

The Constitution ain't broke, it don't need fixin'. [4/26 Update: When changes are needed, they are meant to be done by the Amendment Process, not by individual judges and not by re-writing the entire thing. Go back and read the Daniel Webster quote I posted in "On Getting Back to Basics - I". In consideration of past human history, our type of relatively-free republic has a normal life span of about 200 years.

Someone of note (perhaps Congressman David Crockett, yes him!) is reputed to have said "A government big enough to give you everything you want is big enough to take everything you have." Regardless of the source, consider the gist of the quote. It is too easy for humans to become intoxicated with power. That is why we need our system of "Checks and Balances". The concepts of Constitution 2020 (by whatever name) call for a larger centralized government. Decentralization of power by any significant measure is necessary for the continued existence of our humanly-flawed experiment in freedom.]
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Sunday, April 24, 2005

Another Moonbat Barks a Message of Leftist Bigotry

In today's Atlanta Journal-Constitution editorial page, there is a letter entitled "Europe on right track with humanism". I guess the more ignorant they are, the louder they bark.

In the opening paragraph, the writer disagrees with an April 17th George Will column on Europe's moral slide. [No one is claiming that we are without sin. But if we look the other way, it ain't going to get better.]

In the second paragraph: "Christianity has never been about democracy or a morality that meets human needs and addresses human problems. For almost two millenia, the Christian church has oppressed and brutalized millions of people in an attempt to control their lives by stifling any ideas of self-determination."

Oh, the logic of a bigot, who chooses only to see the human failings of "the Christian church". Though not a biblical scholar, I know enough of the New Testament to know that there is nothing in the words attributed to Jesus, nor the apostles, that justifies the "oppression and brutalization" of millions. These are human failings, not Christian doctrine.

The reason our founders wanted the separation of church and state was not because "the church was bad", but because of their understanding of human nature. There were many European kings and despots that used the "state-approved church" as a weapon against political opponents, domestic and foreign. The desire to avoid government-sponsorship of a particular sect was an attempt to avoid this misuse of religion. It was not to try to purge our culture of all aspects of its Judeo-Christian foundation.

Of course there have been human failings. Even now, on a national level, and even on a personal level, some people use "religious doctrines" (as they interpret them) to justify vendettas against others.

From the Judeo-Christian Europe, through the birth of the United States, were born and nurtured, such classical liberal concepts as Abolition of Slavery, the concepts of Natural Law and Common Law, Equal Protection under the Law, Universal Suffrage, Freedom of Speech, Religion, Assembly, Self-Sacrifice, Charity, the central concepts of the Magna Carta,.... That is not to say that other cultures didn't harbor some of these same concepts, but the Europeans, especially the British, are our cultural ancestors.

The second paragraph: "If secular humanism is indeed supplanting Christianity in Europe and elsewhere, hallelujah! Humanism is for those in love with reality, reason, freedom, tolerance and human dignity. Christianity is not."

He ends the second sentence with "hallelujah"! Isn't that a delicious bit of irony! Christianity (as the focus of his attack) is not about people trying to control others, it is not about trying to be better than others. It is about trying to be better than ourselves.

There can be some legitimate discussions about applying some Humanistic philosophies to Christian thought, but when humans think they are the center of all, pride and arrogance rule the day. When past despots (big and small) have ruled using "Christian doctrine" as a weapon, that is what it was, a weapon, not a heartfelt belief.

An excellent illustration of leftist stereotyping.
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On Getting Back to Basics - I

"Hold on, my friends, to the Constitution and to the Republic for which it stands. Miracles do not cluster, and what has happened once in 6000 years, may not happen again. Hold on to the Constitution, for if the American Constitution should fail, there will be anarchy throughout the world." - Daniel Webster

From time to time, when a sports team is mired in a losing season, a coach/supporter/pundit will offer up the phrase - "We need to get back to basics".

While I don't believe that our nation is on a losing streak, some of our problems are because we have drifted away from the "Original Intent" of our founders, away from the paradigm that has made us the envy of the world, in many ways.

In our helter-skelter existence, we (perhaps understandibly) do not have much time to spend reading history books related to the founding of this nation. [Yes, I am guilty of this, too.]

There are too many people in the nation that either do not know the content of the U.S. Constitution, the Bill of Rights and the other amendments, and the Declaration of Independence, or they don't care as long as they are getting by. Some people think they know because of what they have been told by the MSM and some others are wanting to rewrite the Constitution. Then of course, there are the few (and unfortunately over-publicized by the MSM) that genuinely hate the United States and call for its downfall, to be replaced by a socialist utopia.

A few weeks ago I ran across some references to Constitution 2020, which I think is working title for a leftist project to rewrite the Constitution for the 21st Century. [I need to track down the links and do some more study.] Twenty some odd years ago, there were some conservatives calling for a Constitutional Convention to rewrite the Constitution to include Balanced Budget provisions, as they were not satisified with efforts towards a Balanced Budget Amendment. Among the discussions of Constitution 2020 are the Progressive Commons blog post(s), UnCORRELATED, Villainous Company,... [Note: I have not read any of these in detail, this is just a beginning point. If any of these turn out to be leftist-leaning, we need to know where they are coming from anyway.]

Both considerations are recipes for permanent disaster.

In order to be more informed citizens, we need to scale back our TV to more sensible watching.

A good place to start understanding American culture/values/laws is to understand our connections to, and evolution from, British culture. Two good books by Russell Kirk are "American's British Culture" and "The Roots of American Order".

In addition to the philosophies outlined in my profile, I am also a pragmatist. If something has history of success, then it is worth looking at, whether it is borne of liberal, conservative, or libertarian thought.

Our Constitution and other Founding Documents are not a guarantee of success, they are meant to be a guide, a goal to which we strive. Yes, our Founders were flawed, but they left us a system by which we can make necessary changes. But we need to be more educated and informed as to our part in the system. If we don't make informed decisions, someone else will "seize the day" and make changes that we may not see the results of for years.

[More to follow...]
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Friday, April 22, 2005

It's Earth Day and the Sky is Probably Not Falling

[Second update - Sunday AM - This post will be enhanced as time permits.]

Today's media will probably include a litany of "crises", including global warming and everything that can be blamed on it.

I have posted repeatedly about the minute carbon dioxide content of our atmosphere (0.039%), see April 17 post "4 out of 10,000" and other science issues. I will address some of these issues today and later.

You do need to remember that whatever happens, it has likely happened before, whether it be changes in sea level, climate change, algal blooms, background extinctions, mass extinctions, erosion, earthquakes, tsunami,... Nature is not just about flowers and bunny rabbits, it is about landslides, tornadoes, pyroclastic eruptions, blizzards - it is a wild world.

Humans like to think they are in control, thus when something "new" happens, we (politicians, pundits, activists) look for a human cause. Scientists go looking for evidence of past occurrences of the same phenomenom. There are things that have not happened within "written" human history, for instance the eruption of a large, caldera-type volcano (the Yellowstone "supervolcano" crater measures approximately 36 miles by 48 miles). Past pyroclastic eruptions from calderas have been traced for approximately 100 miles from their eruptive centers. The last large pyroclastic eruption, approximately 74,000 years ago, apparently caused a severe "dent" in the human population of that time, as suggested by scientific evidence.

Obviously, we haven't experienced a true Ice Age within written history either. The closest thing was the "Little Ice Age" climatic event that occurred (approximately) between 1350 to 1850 AD. Thirty years ago, (Hat tip to Mark Alexander column for this link) we were worried about the next Ice Age. The current paradigm of global warming caused by increased carbon dioxide is a political animal. The periods of greatest biodiversity in the past were during times of climatic warmth (the Mississippian Period, the Cretaceous Period, the Eocene Epoch).

Townhall.com's C-Log posted a series of columns on Earth Day dealing with environmental issues. Read a few, including this one from the Pacific Research Institute, to get an idea of the real progress over the past decades.

When considering environmental issues, you need to consider the writer's biases. My biases are preservation (and/or repair) of our free-market system and scientific accuracy (while remembering that within the realm of science, "The learning curve never ends." - subject of a possible future post). If the Moonbats start to bark about the source of the funding (and how it might affect reported results), some of it may be their "projecting" their behaviors. Yes, sometimes industry-funded science has been manipulated, but it can't be "sat upon" forever, as there is a passion within scientists for "Good Science". It will come out. There are plenty of examples of science that has been manipulated by politics, including the NAPAP Study, as it related to Acid Precipitation.

Also from Mark Alexander's column, comes the reminder of how Earth Day was born. It was the brainchild of Senator Gaylord Nelson and falls on the birthday of V.I. Lenin, which is not a coincidence in the minds of Alexander and others. The anti-capitalist spirit of Earth Day was patterned after the anti-war protests of the day (we know the consequences of that, don't we).

Yes, capitalism is responsible for a great deal of pollution, but capitalism provides us the profit motive to clean it up (whatever works). Our Constitution-guaranteed rights include peaceful protest, if that is what is sometimes needed to effect environmental change. Our right to petition is part of how laws get changed. In a gunched-up, over-regulated socialist government, entrepreneurship is stifled.

The children of conservatives drink the same water, breathe the same air as the children of leftists. We just have different ideas of how to arrive at a legitimate goal, a cleaner environment. Socialism, in addition to its horrible human rights record, also has a lousy environmental record.

[More will follow]
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Wednesday, April 20, 2005

Lies and Damned Lies About the National Sales Tax Initiative

In the Tuesday edition of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, there is a leftist Moonbat letter to the editor using a series of lies and exaggerations to attack the National Sales Tax initiativie. Or maybe he is just putting his ignorance out there, front and center, for all to see. You can begin with the FairTax FAQs #12 and #13 and draw your own conclusions.

The first paragraph is wasted attempting to tie the name "consumption tax" to the old name for tuberculosis (consumption).

The second paragraph begins:
"A 23 percent retail sales tax would be devastating to the working poor, our fastest growing demographic. Many citizens just barely making it would have to decide between hunger and homelessness."

If the writer had done a little research, he could have discovered that 1) There is already an "embedded tax" of approximately 22% in virtually everything we buy; and 2) The National Sales Tax Plan would send tax rebate checks monthly to re-imburse individuals and families for sales taxes on vital goods.

"Since Reagan's reign, Republicans have been reasonably successful in shifting the burden of financing the nation from the wealthy and powerful to the poor and weak."

Since President Reagan, IRS figures show that the percentage of taxes paid have been shifting "upward", to the point where the "bottom 50%" pays approximately 4% of the income taxes. Besides, by definition, the poor and weak don't have as much to tax anyway, even if the Republicans were so inclined. [When time permits, I will add a link for this information.]

The final paragraph begins: "The law would no doubt be written so the wealthy can enjoy their luxuries tax-free, through shell corporations and other tax dodges."

No, this is a National Sales Tax. The more you spend, the more you pay. Used items are tax free. A rich person buying a $100,000 car is going to pay $23,000 in sales taxes (the type of car purchased is a matter of choice). A poor person buying a used Ford Escort will pay no taxes, according to the FairTax website.

"Unless your income is in the high six figures, either oppose this scam or prepare to see your standard of living drop rapidly."

Even those citizens that receive the Earned Income Tax Credit still have to pay someone to "do their taxes". The FairTax plan pays you a monthly check to rebate you for taxes on food, basic clothing, basic shelter. How is that going to cause anyone's standard of living to drop? These rebate checks are going to replace the embedded 22% tax we are paying on goods and services Right Now.

The embedded tax is composed of basically two components: 1) The "corporate taxes" imposed upon the businesses that build, distribute, and sell the consumer item of interest; and 2) The accounting costs in dealing with passing along these corporate taxes to the consumer. There is nothing inherently wrong with this as taxes are currently part of the cost of doing business, a part that is passed along to the consumer. We all know what rolls downhill!

This is not a scam, the information is readily available. This is beyond ignorance. Unfortunately, because the paper chose to publish this letter without rebuttal, it serves as a tacit endorsement and gives this opinion an "air of legitimacy" and some fools are going to believe it. The same sorts of fools that believe Michael Moore, et al, of that political stripe.

It is difficult to remain polite in the face of this much idiocy (or dishonesty). Damn, I'm glad I am no longer wasting my votes on the sort of people this fool would vote for.

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Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Blogs Worthy of a Visit

The first two blogs I ever encountered, shortly after 9/11, were Spiced Sass and the Dissident Frogman. Spiced Sass is chocked full of good reading, but for some reason, Frogman hasn't posted lately.

Frogman's latest post (Jan. 27, 2005) concerns an issue I saw mentioned elsewhere, but didn't take time to read in detail. Apparently, Leftist European TV channel "Arte" is now blaming the severity of the Jewish Holocaust on Americans, for not bombing railroads and rail stations enough to stop the transport of Jews to concentration camps. Of course it can't be Germany's fault, of course it can't be France's fault. I don't claim to be a WWII historian, but it is my understanding that before we deployed the P-51 fighter, our B-17s were largely unguarded, once they exceeding the fuel range of earlier fighters based in England. Our daytime raids were targeting the German weapons factories and other military targets. If memory serves me correctly, weren't most of the concentration camps in nations east of Germany, e.g., Poland, Czechoslovakia, etc..)? That puts them at an even greater distance from England for our bombers, thus making hitting individual railways more difficult.

Another good blog that I found last night, is Asymmetrical Information, hosted by Jane Galt (John's long-lost sister, I suppose). It seems to be a fountain of good Libertarian thought. Pam Meister's Blogmeister USA is always a good read too.
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Monday, April 18, 2005

Why Modern Liberals Ain't - IV

On the subject of Stereotypes -

It has been said that "Every stereotype is based on a grain of truth", i.e., there had to be some behavior observed that created that stereotype.

The over-reliance on stereotypes is an aspect of prejudice. All humans harbor some sorts of prejudice. In and of itself, prejudice is not necessarily a bad thing, as it sometimes is a defense mechanism that keeps us from getting into trouble. An example of a defensive prejudice might be: "I want a beer, there are four dozen Harleys in this bar parking lot. As I am wearing a Honda Motorcycles t-shirt, maybe it would not be a good idea to walk into this biker bar."

The validity of a prejudice is whether or not it is based on sound information. If a prejudice is based on ignorance and/or fear, we should try to recognize it for what it is and shine the light of truth on it, perhaps by "talking it out" (perhaps more on that later). For instance, many people are resistant to the idea of gay Boy Scout leaders, not so much because they believe that most gays are child molesters (a stereotype), but because they instinctively know that biologically, men are more sexually predatory that women are. Men are dogs (we know this). So why create a situation where a predatory person might be tempted? It is not hate to recognize this, it is just a simple understanding of biology and human behavior.

When stereotypes are thrown around too easily, this might be a sign of prejudice and/or intellectual laziness. When we look at recent political debates & campaigns, who might fit that stereotype? Hmmm.

A common stereotype thrown about by some of the MSM and Lib/Leftists is that Christians desire a Christian Theocracy to run our country. Just because many Christian ministers, pundits, politicians, etc., are calling for a return to the Judeo-Christian concepts upon which our nation (and culture) were founded, that doesn't mean that they want a theocratic government. Widespread hedonism eventually leads to cultural anarchy, which invariably leaves a trail of misery. In the 1960s (or was it the 1970s?), Stephen Stills' "Love the One You're With" may have been a catchy tune, but by the time we have been around for a few decades, we have seen, firsthand, the heartache caused by infidelity. Or in some cases we might have experienced it (been there, done that, when my first lover cheated on me 25 years ago). As articulated by Dr. Thomas Sowell, "Traditional Behaviors" are successful behaviors that have withstood the test of time. And observing these behaviors leads to long-term societal stability.

One of the central aspects of Conservatism is the value of the Individual. When you look past any group (tribal) labels, when you look at the person as an individual, you will see most stereotypes apply only to a limited number of individuals. In other words, unfounded prejudices will crumble when you look at the individual and weigh the evidence. It takes work, we have to remind ourselves that "they are not all like that". When I hear a friend cite a stereotype in "broad-brushing" a group of people, I will try to politely remind them to consider the individuals.

When I say that Lib/Leftists engage in prejudicial stereotyping more so than Conservatives/Libertarians, am I stereotyping also? When Conservatives say that Lib/Leftists operate on emotion, rather than logic, are they engaging in stereotyping? Perhaps. When David Horowitz (for example) speaks about the Academic Bill of Rights on college campuses, how often is he hit with a barrage of mis-representative statements? When he explains his reasons for opposing "reparations for slavery", how often is he labeled a racist? When a Conservative/ Libertarian calls Hillary Clinton a socialist, does he/she explain the reasons? Yes, there are Moonbats on both sides of the political aisle. We (on the right) need to practice Due Diligence in flushing them from our midst or at least explaining why certain individuals differ from others as to philosophies. I agree with Pat Buchanan on a few issues, but I think he is too anti-Israel. I agree with Bob Barr on some constitutional issues, but I think he goes off tilting at minor windmills too often.

If we don't do explain the differences, our political adversaries will do it for us (and likely get it wrong). Oops! There I go again. When a political (or other) label is applied, we need to look for the explanation. Does it make sense? Is it supported by evidence?

What follows is a common (perhaps southern) stereotype and how evidence dispels it: "Black people like to drink malt liquor". I have been in a convenience store and overheard a black woman refer to Olde English 800 Malt Liquor as "liquid crack" (honest!). Another time, while in a north Atlanta liquor store, I observed two black men in the adjacent line, one was buying a 6- pack of Guinness Stout, the other was buying a 12-pack of Beck's Beer (from Germany). Meanwhile, there I stood with my 12-pack of Mickey's Malt Liquor and the white guy in front of me had a case of Country Club Malt Liquor.

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The Coming Collapse of the European Union?

Linked above is the Ankle Biting Pundits piece on the expected collapse of the European Union, triggered by the rejection of skeptical French voters on May 29, 2005. As set up, the failure to approve by voters in "key nations", such as France, Germany, the UK, et al, results in the failure of the EU.

I have been telling my students for the last 2 or 3 years that the EU was going to collapse, the only question was when and how much damage would result. The sooner the collapse, the less damage (in my opinion) is likely to occur.

Though I am not an expert in any sense of the matter, I think the EU is perhaps a test market for a world government and some of the reasons in the linked article are a microcosm of why a world government will not work, unless enforced by some sort of tyranny. The European nations included in the EU are too diverse, the tribal identities are too deeply entrenched, to allow governance by a central government in Brussels.

One aspect of the EU that would likely be duplicated in a UN-run world government is the fact that individual EU Assembly members are not allowed to introduce legislation for approval. Instead, it is my understanding that, Assembly members vote Yes or No on legislation handed down from the un-elected EU bureaucracy.

Despite the great flaws in this centralized government experiment, as suggested in the article, we should not cheer if the collapse occurs, as this will send the European monetary system into disarray, which will send shock waves across the world. The closing thoughts of the ABP article are - "Here is the most likely scenario, as I see it: 1.) the constitution will fail; 2.) the euro will collapse; 3.) somehow, America will get the blame; 3.) America, being the kind of people we are, will come to the rescue and prevent a global recession; 4.) the Godfathers of Europe will force through an even worse constitution through less democratic means; and 5.) once established, the Europe we save will quietly engage in a campaign of economic terrorism against the United States."
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Why the Hurry? What is Wrong with Waiting 24 Hours?

Apparently, the recently ended Ga. Legislative session saw the passage of a bill that would require a 24-hour waiting period prior to an abortion. Of course this triggered protests from the usual suspects, primarily feminists and fellow travelers.

Before we go further, though I am pro-life, I am not in favor of completely banning abortion. That would not end the practice anyway, for a variety of reasons. I think we need to change peoples hearts instead. I think it should remain as a choice, though I think it is a lousy choice. It should be a last resort rather than a first choice.

Let's face it, we know that most abortions occur because a baby would be an inconvenience or the pregnancy an embarrassment. Is that a good reason to snuff out a life? Aren't we better than that?

As for the waiting period, when you consider what is going to happen, what is wrong with requiring a 24 hour wait? If the woman's conscience is going to bother her during that time, isn't there a message there? Are they afraid that some women will change their minds? Most of the same people protesting the abortion waiting period are probably in favor of a 24-hour waiting period before someone can buy a gun. It might be good to do some reading on the After Abortion blog. Yes, some of it may make you uncomfortable, but that is how we grow and evolve, by facing uncomfortable truths.

This is not "anti-woman" legislation, it is about facing up to responsibility and not taking the easy way out. If a woman has been abandoned and unable to care for an infant, that is what adoption is about. [I don't want to hear any Moonbats barking, both of my kids are adopted and we would have adopted a third, if we could have afforded it.]

As with the Terri Schiavo case, when in doubt, shouldn't we err on the side of life? When making such a momentous decision, that cannot be undone, a little more time might prevent decades of regret.
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Sunday, April 17, 2005

It Could Happen Here

As we trundle through our daily lives, most of us have the expectation that we have the right to defend our home and family against intruders.

Those that have an understanding of the historical genesis of American culture and law know of the important contributions of British culture and law. These include the concepts of common law, free speech, self defense, freedom of worship, etc.. The same aspects of British culture that provided the seed for our culture also contributed to the cultures of Canada, Australia, and New Zealand, that goes without saying.

But lately (in a broad sense), the creeping Euro-leftism in Britain has severely eroded one of the most basic of natural laws, the right of self-defense. During the last few years, especially with the restrictions on the ownership of virtually all sorts firearms, when a homeowner has used great force against a criminal intruder, the police and local officials fall all over themselves to attend to the needs of the criminal and prosecute the citizen for protecting their home and/or family.

Years ago, before the 1994 "Republican Revolution", there were efforts by Lib/Leftists in the US Congress & Senate to require that homeowners must flee intruders, rather than defend their homes. Ted Kennedy was one of those "visionaries" (does this surprise anyone?). If they had met with success, you would have a situation similar to Britain right here. In some locales, where guns have been successfully removed from the hands of law-abiding citizens, that may already be the case.

When our Founding Fathers stated that our Creator endowed us with certain inalienable rights, this was done for a reason. Too many Americans have forgotten (or never learned) the importance of this concept. If the concept of Creator-granted rights and Natural law is part of our culture, then it becomes more difficult for government to take those rights away. The concept of Natural Law actually dates to Roman culture, whereby "...Among the Roman jurists natural law designated those instincts and emotions common to man and the lower animals, such as the instinct of self-preservation and love of offspring."... (Source: The Catholic Encyclopedia).

One of the aspects of Lib/Leftism is this wishful thinking that "if we are nice to bad people, they will be nice, too". To fight crime, all we have to do is to "understand what is troubling the criminal and rehabilitate him". [I will rant more about this another time.] In a perfect world, they might be right, but the last time I looked...

If left to fester for too long, this leads to cultural anarchy, a situation that might only be solved by tyranny (maybe that's the idea). When the people cannot legally defend themselves, out of frustration they may beg the government to "just do something". To allow rampant crime to break down routine behaviors and relationships might be the plan, after which the government would construct a "new order", based on their rules.

The people of Afghanistan initially welcomed the Taliban party rule, because they were tired of the fighting between rival warlords. It initially sounded like the Taliban, though strict, would provide some sort of consistent enforcement of "Koranic law". But as Lord Acton said, "Power corrupts, absolute power corrupts absolutely".

The Second Amendment to our Constitution recognizes and codifies that right of Self Defense, against criminals and out-of-control government. It ain't about hunting. Our Founding Fathers knew what it was to live under a king the refused to follow his own laws. They knew what it was to have their doors kicked down by the king's soldiers.

It is a good practice towards responsible citizenship that we try, one a month, to read the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, and the Bill of Rights, as well as the additional Amendments (I know, I should too). After the kids are in bed, turn off the durn TV and read these documents. Those documents are part of our Owners Manual. We need to know this manual better, most Americans are blissfully ignorant of what it took to build this country.

Another example of politicians taking advantage of our collective ignorance is the Democrat's insistence on filibustering judicial candidates in the US Senate. The filibuster and cloture were constitutionally intended for legislation, not for the "up or down" voting on Presidential appointees, including judges.
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Why Modern Liberals Ain't - III

The above-linked article is from David Horowitz's War Blog on FrontPageMag.com, from April 13, 2005.

There are images of t-shirts, backpacks, and pseudo-stamps, all of which have the central theme of presidential assassination. Have you heard any prominent "liberals" denouncing this? Let's see, Senator Kennedy lost two brothers to assassination, but has he said anything about these outrages?

While President Clinton was in office, I don't remember a single conservative wishing for his assassination, regardless of how unhappy we were with his form of governance. If any talk show caller drifted in this direction, they were either cut off or guided back to the concept of the importance of the preservation of the "rule of law".

With every freedom comes responsibility. The modern Lib/Leftists love to holler about the first part (freedom), but seem to forget the "checks and balances" aspects of responsibility.

Have these people forgotten 9/11 completely? If some nutcase is successfully inspired by one of these images, can you imagine the elation of terrorists? Regardless of how you feel about President Bush, do we really need that kind of national trauma? Have you forgotten about the first WTC attack, which, if it had been successful, the death toll might have been 30,000, not 3,000? Do you hate your homeland that much? If a nutcase was successful, who else might be inspired? A quote, attributed to Osama bin Ladin, hoped for an American death toll of 4 million. We are not fighting the war in Iraq for the "right now", we are doing it for five, ten, fifteen years into the future. By (hopefully) helping establish a free and prosperous Iraq, we are going to lessen the supply of potential terrorists in the future. We are at a disadvantage in this war. We have rules and they don't.

If it ain't classical liberalism, then it ain't real liberalism.

These t-shirts, etc. are not satire. Free political speech is about give and take, not advocating the killing of political opponents.

If anybody has plausible, substantiated evidence of any conservatives advocating the assassination of President Clinton, please comment. There are plenty of open-minded conservatives that would love to pillory any "conservative" making such a remark.

Which do you love more, your country or your agenda?

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4 out of 10,000

We need to keep a sense of perspective on the issue of atmospheric carbon dioxide.

Carbon dioxide is indeed the second most common greenhouse gas, but its greenhouse influence is minute compared to Water Vapor, which is estimated to be responsible for 90% to 95% of the Greenhouse Effect.

Published current carbon dioxide measurements are approximately 390 ppm (parts per million). Converted to percentages, that is 0.039%. To put it another way, if all atmospheric components were converted to 10,000 pennies ($100), carbon dioxide would represent 4 of those pennies. 4 of 10,000. 4 of 10,000. 4 of 10,000, remember those numbers.

Carbon dioxide is an unavoidable byproduct of combustion and animal/bacteria respiration. It is emitted by volcanoes, hot springs, and ocean water, under certain conditions.

Carbon dioxide is not a pollutant. It is a vital nutrient to the Earth's plants (from algae to kelp to grasses to redwoods). Plants form the base of every major food web, every important ecosystem.

The geologic and climatologic records have shown us that there have been multiple periods of global warming and global cooling since the end of the last major Ice Age, approximately 8,000 to 12,000 years ago, when the Pleistocene Epoch ended and the Holocene Epoch began (by our scientific definitions). Changes in global temperatures are largely related to variations in solar activity and changes in Earth's orbit.

There might be other human activities that could cause climate changes (largely local and/or regional), e.g., deforestation, especially in tropical/subtropical areas, the aggregate effect of Urban Heat Islands, carbon "soot" and other particulates in the atmosphere, etc., but carbon dioxide is not a large enough component of the Greenhouse Effect to "force" temperatures upward. If the carbon dioxide component increased by two orders of magnitude, that might be a different story, but it is unlikely (see previous posts on Negative Feedback Loops).
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Saturday, April 16, 2005

NASCAR Etiquette - I

As I have been out of town for several days on a second job, I will get back into the blogging spirit slowly, until I have gotten a chance to catch up on current events.

This particular post is about the lack of respect that some "young pups" have for their elders. This even extends into the world of NASCAR.

Basically, a couple of weeks ago, during a Busch Series race at Bristol, TN, Dale Jarrett slowed to avoid another car that had gotten out of shape. When he slowed, he was rear-ended by a young driver (I'm not sure if he is a rookie or not), Shane Hmiel. Dale was put out of the race and while Shane still sitting in his wrecked car, Dale walked over and had a few stern words for the "youngster". Shane replied with his middle finger, the only problem was, there was a camera in the interior of his race car, broadcasting said gesture on live TV. For this, Shane was fined (several thousand dollars and 25 driver points). I will leave the propriety of the size of the fine to others to discuss, but it could have been avoided.

Bristol is a difficult race track and wrecks are not uncommon, nor are verbal disputes. If Shane Hmiel had shown the proper respect for his elder, he could have avoided these monetary and championship point fines. Dale Jarrett is a former NASCAR Nextel Cup champion, multiple Daytona 500 champion, and 90 - 95% of the time, a really nice guy. I don't know what he said, but the "young pup" should have had the class to at least say "Sorry" and leave anything else 'til later. [Update 4/18: Prior to yesterday's broadcast of the race from Texas, Dale alluded to the "lack of respect", though he didn't refer to himself as "an elder".]

I don't remember the specifics, but years ago, when Darrell Waltrip was a "young pup", he had an on-track altercation with Richard Petty. After the race (or it may have been after the wreck), Richard sought Darrell out in the garage area. [For those that do not know, Richard Petty has always been pretty good about controlling his temper, so when he is mad, you know you have really screwed up.] As Richard "ripped him up one side and down the other", Darrell could only remain quiet and focus on Richard's long, bony index finger, which (paraphrasing Darrell) "looked like it was a mile long", an effect which was amplified by the fact that Richard is several inches taller than Darrell.

I'm sure a few of the other NASCAR elders had a few words with Shane Hmiel about the issue of proper respect. Hopefully the words will sink in.
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Wednesday, April 13, 2005

Nominating a Career Scientist to Head the EPA - What a Novel Idea!

From this Tech Central Station article: The Bush administration has nominated Stephen L. Johnson to head the Environmental Protection Agency. If approved, he will apparently be the first career scientist to hold that position.

That this is the first career scientist to possibly hold this position doesn't speak well of either party, to be honest.

Anyway, the contrarians and Moonbats have begun barking about a program that Mr. Johnson had proposed, but that had never been implemented, involving a study "to assess the exposure and effects of common household chemicals and pesticides on toddlers in the Jacksonville, Florida area." In other words, this study, "called CHEERS (Children's Health Environmental Exposure Research Study), aimed to use financial inducements to poor families (almost one thousand dollars each) to allow investigators to monitor their youngsters' exposure to common household products over the course of two years." [Italics are from the Tech Central Station article by Gilbert Ross, M.D., Executive and Medical Director of the American Council on Science and Health.].

The children and toddlers in this study were going to be exposed to varying levels of household chemicals, even if there was no study, things such as pesticides, drain cleaners, disinfectants, i.e., the kind of stuff that we use constantly, with few second thoughts. Prior advisories and warnings on household chemicals have been based on extrapolations from animal testing. The goal was to gather real world data on human exposures.

Mr. Johnson received an opinion from the National Academy of Sciences that such a study of "kids in their natural habitat" would be ethical. "Johnson made two serious blunders, however: he offered to compensate the study families, and he arranged to get funding support from the American Chemistry Council.

Environmental activists went ballistic -- even more so than usual. The EWG
(Environmental Working Group) asserted that a study done on humans in which people could not derive any health benefits was ipso facto taboo. And worse: partnering with a chemical group? In a study on children?" Hello, "a study done...in which people could not derive any health benefits was...taboo." The study could well reveal that certain household chemicals might be more hazardous to small children than previously thought. How could any sensible person suggest that such information might not be a health benefit? This is a clear example of letting an agenda get in the way of common, scientific sense. As for the funding, someone has to pay for such a study, what is wrong with letting the American Chemistry Council pay for the study? One clear thing that activists constantly do is to assume that all scientists can be "bought off" by the funding sources of a particular study. Are they perhaps projecting? Yes, individual scientists sometimes get caught up in situations where they are forced to "sign off" on results with which they disagree", but that is usually the exception, not the rule. Most scientists are driven by a desire to conduct "good science".

Agenda-driven environmentalists often resist "using human toxicity data because they know quite well that such data will show no evidence of harm to humans from the so-called "toxins" in our environment. Their dependence on the "Precautionary Principle," wherein a lack of data mandates restrictions out of "safety" concerns, would finally be shown for what it is: an excuse for agenda-driven regulation."

In other words, if you have a given chemical, if animal test data suggests that the chemical might be harmful to humans, and a human exposure study suggests that the chemical is likely not harmful, the neo-Luddites will go with the animal test data, for the purpose of banning or restricting the chemical, "just to be safe". While there is some wisdom in the concept of the Precautionary Principle, overusing it stifles innovation, new products, and new technologies. It is impossible to eliminate all risks.

More will be added...
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Tuesday, April 12, 2005

The Debate on the Origins of Life, the Three-Sided Argument

Before we begin, I lay no claim to being a biblical scholar. So let's not pick nits. Other sources of information (besides the above-linked ReligiousTolerance.org discussion) include: The God and Evolution discussion and for the Jewish point-of-view, Evolutionary Creationism, after all, the Genesis account is in the Old Testament, which is also part of the Hebrew Bible.

A few months ago, the local media and to some extent the national media was "a-twitter" over a sticker being placed in Cobb County (Ga.) textbooks, "This textbook contains material on evolution. Evolution is a theory, not a fact, regarding the origin of living things. This material should be approached with an open mind, studied carefully and critically considered."

Speaking as a scientist, there is nothing wrong with raising questions about the theory of evolution. There is ample evidence in the fossil record for a progression of species, likely through a series of mutations. Were the mutations totally random, totally orchestrated, or did they occur as "Evolution with a guiding hand"? Evidence of the change is there, we can politely discuss how these changes occurred.

Before we go further, in the realm of science, there are very few scientific laws, for there is almost always some uncertainty. Within the realm of science, we generally say, "...the evidence suggests...", thereby avoiding the word "proof", because most of what we "know" cannot be 100% proven. For instance, we know that granite is an igneous rock, though how granite forms is still the stuff of theory, as it happens slowly and deep underground (the Stone Mountain Granite is estimated to have been 10,000 feet underground (30,000 feet by other estimates) when it solidified approximately 325 to 300 million years ago).

Theories generally carry a good bit of weight, having undergone scrutiny and study for years in the process called "The Scientific Method". In other words, they are generally our best, current estimate of "What, Why, and How". But they are not proof, nor fact, as the final word. Raising questions about a theory is part of the open atmosphere of scientific discussions. It doesn't mean we are getting ready to toss a theory.

[I am generalizing the following philosophies for the sake of saving space.]

Believing that random evolution (Naturalism or Naturalistic Evolution) is responsible for the origin of life and the progression of species, is also a matter of faith. If you sincerely believe in the Naturalistic point-of-view (as explained in the above linked article), why are you afraid of any discussion? We are not going back to the days of the Scopes Monkey Trial. We are not going back to the days of banning of any discussions of evolution. By the way, Naturalism does not preclude the existence of God.

The polar opposite of Naturalism is the philosophy called Creationism, Creation Science, or Young-Earth Creationism. Within this belief system, the Earth was created in six 24 hour days, about 6,000 to 10,000 years ago. Within the Flood Geology "branch", all of the Earth's mountains were formed in a series of catastrophes during the 6 days of creation, during Noah's Flood, and following the post-Crucifixion upheavals.

The third side of the argument, one that seems to flummox the other two sides are the Theistic Evolutionists or Old Earth Creationists. Generally speaking, this group believes in God's creation of a dynamic Earth, long ago (in some cases accepting the current estimate of 4.6 billion years) and accepting the process of evolution as one of God's tools (back to "Evolution with a guiding hand"). There are some Young-Earth Creationists that are very uncomfortable with their Old-Earth brethren. The Old-Earth philosophy can (perhaps) also play host to the Intelligent Design Theory.

The Intelligent Design Theory was "conceived" by scientists who, as they progressed further into the realm of genetics, came to the conclusion that "it was just too complex to have happened by accident". It is a sincerely-held belief. It is not a stealth method of bringing Creationism back into the schools as is claimed by those terrified by any discussion of the issue.

In my opinion, as with many issues, the truth probably lies somewhere in the middle. There is ample evidence of fossil progression, e.g., single-celled prokaryotes before multi-celled eukaryotes; invertebrates before vertebrates; fish before amphibians; amphibians before reptiles; reptiles before birds and mammals. And there are "transitional forms", i.e., amphibians with reptile features, etc.. There are also plausible reasons for gaps in the fossil record.

Despite the evidence of evolution, there is one question that evolution cannot answer - "How did it start?". If we presume that single-celled plants (or photosynthetic cyanobacteria) were "first", where did that magic "spark of life" that started photosynthesis come from? Plants take in inorganic water, carbon dioxide, and a few trace elements. From this they produce biomass that grows and replicates its DNA during the reproductive process. How could that have happened by accident?

Another consideration - when we consider the reproductive cycles of higher animals and plants, where half the genetic material is furnished by the mother and half by the father, for the purpose of "mixing" the gene pool. How could this process happen by accident? It just seems to bear the mark of an intelligent designer.

Remember, the classical definition of liberal includes having an open mind, ready for a good discussion.
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The Blogosphere is Too White, Too Male

According to Newsweek's Steven Levy, some geniuses at a recent Harvard (where else?) conference on bloggers came to the conclusion that the blogosphere was dominated by white males. In their minds, linkages among the "top bloggers" was reserved for those in the "white male club" only.

Now, barring photos and/or personal admissions, how do they know the exact numbers as related to race and gender? Of course in their world, if the numbers don't match the percentages of the general population, there has to be some nefarious reason. It can't be based on merit.

One of the female bloggers in attendance, Halley Suitt, said: "It's white people linking to other white people!" She "challenged people to each find 10 bloggers who weren't male, white or English-speaking—and link to them". Never mind finding bloggers with interesting points of view, nah, it has to be about quotas. It has to be because someone else is oppressing them.

Of course, if the UN had control of the internet, we could expect something like that in the way of regulations, where you could only blog if you have the right pedigree.

I can't imagine a more wide-open door, than that of the blogosphere. If you have something interesting to say, through persistence, you can build up a following. A blog is what you want it to be, if you are willing to put enough time into research and if you have the "gift of gab", so to speak. It can be strictly for your own personal verbalizing on your interests or you can weigh in on public issues in a way that would attract comments (or you can combine these aspects, as I try to do to supply some diversions).

For the "top 10" or "top 100" blogs, they all had to earn that position. Of course, it is human nature to associate with those you feel comfortable with, with those whom you have established a rapport. You just have to earn your way into the club by making your blog interesting enough for them to visit on a repeated basis.
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Politcal Correctness and the Censorship of Science

The above-linked article concerns the archeological future of "The Kennewick Man" skeletal remains. When the skeletal remains were found on the bank of the Columbia River in July, 1996, initial investigators thought they were investigating a murder. However, when the bones were subjected to radiometric age-dating, an estimated age of approximately 9,300 years (before present) was indicated. Of particular interest was the evidence that the skull showed characteristics of ethnic background other than modern "American Indian". Perhaps Asian, perhaps European, that is to be determined by further study and/or scientific debate.

Despite these early scientific discoveries, there almost immediately began a campaign to squelch ALL FUTURE STUDY of these skeletal remains and to order the immediate secret reburial in an unknown location. This effort began with government bureacrats, particularly the Army Corps of Engineers, using the NAGPRA Act (Native American Graves and Repatriation Act) and a coalition of Indian Tribes, led by the Umatilla Nation. As most regulations go, the NAGPRA Act was the result of past archeological abuses, but as human nature goes, the pendulum has swung too far in the opposite direction from unrespective treatment of human remains to NO STUDY AT ALL.

To ""save" the site from erosion (read future archeological study), the Army Corps of Engineers filled in the area from the river bank to the upper terrace. The entire area is now completely covered with tons of rock covered by dirt and dozens and dozens of young trees. It's difficult to imagine the original features. The willows and cottonwoods that were planted during the spring of 1998, just inches apart, are already well over five feet tall." [If a private developer had covered a "Native American" archeological site with tons of soil, there would be six-figure fines imposed, plus continued hammering in the press and by Lib/Leftist politicians.]

As with many issues, there is middle ground that is being ignored for political reasons. "Native American" activists have taken this to the zealous extreme, likely because if these remains are as old as they are, they may call into question whether or not the ancestors of current "Native Americans" were the first to colonize the continent. There is (in the zealots minds) great political sway in "who was first". If someone else "was first", they have lost some influence (or so they think).

Other linked articles on the include those by James C. Chatters and others on the Friends of America's Past website. The status of some of the bones in question and their localities are shown on a map. Most of these remains have been estimated to be between 7,000 to 13,000 years old, to old (and in many cases, too different) to be genetically & morphologically linked to todays tribes.

Some questions and statements raised on the status page:

"Ancient biologically and culturally unaffiliated skeletons are being lost forever.


Another case is the Spirit Cave Mummy, from Nevada.

More to follow...In the meantime, consult the links for more background info.

[Note: This posting will be expanded, when time allows - teachers have homework, too. If anyone attempts to use the title as justification for embryonic stem cell research, the two are not related, i.e., they are "apples and oranges" and I will elaborate on that later, too.]

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Notable Quotes - I

"Discoveries and innovations arise from the observation of little things." - Alexander Graham Bell
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Sunday, April 10, 2005

A Few Thoughts on the Origins of Palestinian Problems

The above linked article, by Caroline B. Glick, reviews some of the aspects of the post-1948 history of the Palestinians and their problems.

The easy view by Islamists, Leftists, and various anti-Semites, is that it is Israel's fault. As with most human issues, there is blame to be spread about, but one of the core concepts that we need to remember is that Israel just wants to be left alone.

I will write more on this issue, after spending some time in study and when time permits.
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Saturday, April 09, 2005

Difficult Roads to Navigate Without Unity

An April 4th Michael Ledeen column in National Review Online and cited on Blog Iran, also on April 4th, deals with the 2003 rape, beating, and murder of Iranian-Canadian photojournalist Zahra Kazemi. She was arrested while photographing the beating of student protestors by thug supporters of Iran's ruling mullahs.

It is troubling why the Canadian government has apparently downplayed this one of many human rights violations by the Iranian mullahs and their supporters. It is troubling why American "liberals" and feminists have apparently remained silent. [No, I haven't yet done a word search for MSM articles, yet, will try to do so, soon.] But could it be that none of these cited entities wants to give any "Aid and Comfort" to the long-term War on Terror plans by the United States (and President Bush) and our courageous supporters? Feminists and other Lib/leftists have abandoned the causes of individual women before to support their larger leftist agenda. [This may be a subject of a future "Why Modern Liberals Ain't.]

The Michael Ledeen column ends with the following:

"President Bush and his team of self-declared democratic revolutionaries have done a lot of talking about supporting the Iranian people, but they haven't delivered on their promises. As they talk, the toll mounts, from Americans killed in Iraq and Afghanistan to Canadians brutally murdered in Tehran, to the oppression and exploitation of the Iranian people, above all the women.

Faster, please. It's getting embarrassing, you know."

The Michael Ledeen column and the Blog Iran posts are very detailed as the evidence of the torture endured by Ms. Kazemi, but the above quotes sink to the level of "Monday morning quarterbacking" by Ledeen.

Before-the-fact and after-the-fact, our prosecution of the invasion of Iraq (as part of the ongoing War on Terror) has been made more difficult by the interference of such foreign policy luminaries as Jimmy Carter, Sen. Ted Kennedy, Sen. Hillary Clinton, Sen. John Kerry, Sen. Jim Jeffords, Michael Moore, Sean Penn, Rep. Jim McDermott, Rep. Michael Thompson, former Rep. David Bonior, Ramsey Clark, Jr., et al; other entities that had their own agendas (France, Germany, Russia); those that got "cold feet" (Turkey, Spain, et al); and those who might have been covering their own asses (Bill Clinton). If Turkey had allowed us to use bases there as staging areas for the invasion of northern Iraq, the war would have taken even less time, and those escaping to Syria (Baathists and other terrorists) and possible transports of WMDs by truck, could have been cut off more quickly. Was Turkey afraid that we would get cold feet as evidenced by past events?

We carp about the leftist bias of the MSM, but we have the alternatives of talk radio, the internet (including blogs), i.e., we have a number of sources of information. Much of the Middle East depends on Al Jazeera, and similar outlets for their news, with very little in the way of "Checks and Balances". Because of the public visits of high-profile leftists and their public pronouncements, this give the illusion that we are more divided than we actually are. This gives "Aid and Comfort" to the insurgents.

Much of the Lib/Leftists in the US have decided that "the long-term agenda" is more important than the near-term and long-term health of the United States and they are deathly afraid of doing anything that might make President Bush look good.

Because of a number of reasons stretching back over the years, our military is not what it should be. Some of it is due to the sub-currents of anti-mililtary bias in Hollywood, the MSM, and in other entities and some of it is due to the lack of spine by the Republican majority in Congress to explain the need to address military needs during the 1990s. By mandate of the US Constitution, all tax and spending bills must originate in the House of Representatives. If Newt could have kept his pants on, perhaps the Republican Revolution could have played itself out in a more effective manner, rather than being savaged by the MSM and its fellow travelers.

Because of the cited lack of unity (or as presented to the world), our prosecution of the War on Terror (the details of which were explained to us on Sept. 20, 2001) has been made more difficult. This war is not for oil and it is not just for us. Elements of Islamist terror have been at war with Western Culture, by some historian accounts, since the murder of the Israeli athletes at the 1972 Olympics. Syria, Iran, et al, have long been known as supporters of world-wide terror and if significant changes do not occur in those two influential countries (from within), we may have no choice. No matter what President Bush does, he is going to be savaged by the Moonbats (Left and Right), as well as by others on the sidelines. Any sort of direct action against Iran is fraught with unintended consequences, but then so is inaction.

Firm resolve is starting to show results in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, and elsewhere. "Going Wobbly" now is going to result in a more difficult future for our children. This conflict is bigger than the United States, we are at a crossroads event in human history. This is not a war on Islam, it is a war on a particular zealous mindset that has co-opted some elements of Islam.

Zealots, by nature, are unwilling to bargain and engage in give and take, regardless of their particular philosophy. Christians, et al, have been guilty of this in the past. Hey folks, the Crusades were about 900 years ago, weren't they? It's time to get over it.

We have to demonstrate to the zealots that they are not going to get their way. We won't convince the zealots, but we may convince a growing number of people that follow the zealots that there are better ways.

We are not 100% right, but we ain't wrong.
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Friday, April 08, 2005

Alternative Fuel Sources and the Free-Market System

As higher crude oil prices appear to be "the norm" for the near future, we need to understand the role of the Free-Market System and the role of profits in driving the system.

President Bush and Vice President Cheney, two politicians that actually understand the varied aspects of petroleum production, are regularly pilloried by the MSM and their fellow leftist travelers. [I am not naive enough to think that there are no "shenanigans", after all we are talking about humans, but if corruption in our "oil business" was pervasive, the system would not work as efficiently as it does.]. The oil business is made up of players big and small, multinationals to "mom and pop" drilling support businesses in "fly-over" towns and cities, such as Woodward, OK; Midland-Odessa, TX; Farmington, NM; Roosevelt, UT; Liberal, KS, etc..

Increased oil/natural gas/gasoline prices do put adverse pressure on consumers, especially the poor. The best way to provide a short-term relief is to cut gasoline (and other taxes) and sensibly loosen restrictions. We as consumers can also find ways to conserve.

When oil/natural gas/gasoline prices rise largely because of supply and demand issues (as now), the increased flow of capital can finance exploration for more supplies and improvements in transport and technology. When oil companies engage in exploration, they are at times engaging in risks, when drilling in wildcat or frontier areas. This exploration is done by humans and the money goes to their wages (some of which returns to the government as taxes). Even when a multinational is drilling for oil, they cannot address all of the drilling needs because of logistics. They hire out to subcontractors to provide goods and services for drilling, well construction, pipeline, etc..

When oil/natural gas/gasoline prices rise artificially because of increased taxes and or artificial rationing (both of which may prevail in the world of the Kyoto Treaty, if supporters had their way) or by excessive regulations/lawsuits, some of the increased flow of capital is diverted into the pockets of government (by taxes) or to other entities not directly involved with energy production.

Higher crude prices are also good for alternatives, as that is a normal human behavior, when the price of a commodity rises, we learn to conserve and look for alternatives. In order to develop a more diverse energy supply (some of which will best serve local needs because of logistics and transport issues), we need to maintain a healthy, vibrant economy with low taxes and sensible regulations.

A good example of the American entrepreneurial spirit is Changing World Technologies One of their projects, as cited in a May, 2003 Discover.com article on Thermal Conversion Process (also called thermal depolymerization process), is to convert surface, organic waste streams into oil (similar to crude oil No. 4), methane, recoverable minerals, and water. This process is probably similar to nature's "cooking" of organics over millions of years to produce crude oil.

To use an example cited in the 2003 article (given to me by a past student), if a 175-pound man fell into the input side of the process, the result would be 38 pounds of oil, 7 pounds of gas, 7 pounds of minerals, and 123 pounds of sterilized water. These processing plants can handle waste from meat processing plants, waste from sewage treatment plants, waste from corporate farms, waste tires, oil refinery waste, and other sources. Of course, no process is perfect, there will be issues, there will be effluent at some point, but this is the future. This is what some call "cyclical capitalism or green capitalism". This aspect of capitalism cannot grow without being financed by profits from other, existing ventures or by risks from visionary individuals. Some taxpayer-funded research may be helpful, but private ventures should lead the way.

Various European entities are probably working on processes similar to this, but the norm for Europe (and more so for the EU) is that they will be "gunched-up" by more restrictive regulations, lawsuits by the more powerful Green Parties, tribal infighting, etc., and they will probably not be able to bring it off on a scale that we are capable of. And of course they will hate us for it. They (and the UN) will probably demand that we give this technology to everyone else, for the sake of "economic justice".

Other examples of American entrepreneurship will be posted from time to time.

We can do these things for the future, but they may entail using more fuel and producing more pollution during the development stages of these technologies and some are going to holler about "the rich (that take the risks) getting richer and the poor getting poorer". We had to develop the Ford Model T before we could develop the GT-40.

We ain't 100% right, but we ain't wrong.
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The Anti-Chomsky Blog

As this morning seems to be starting slow, ...Is this the post-Pope Funeral Doldrums? We shouldn't be sad about the Pope's passing, as he has gone home. Though there are places to disagree with Pope John Paul II on a few issues, he played a very important role in the last 20 years of the 20th century.

Back to the rest of the world: I checked one of the blogs linked to FrontPageMag.com and did a little reading.

People like Noam Chomsky, Ward Churchill, et al, are weirdly fascinating. They seem to have a genuine hatred of their homeland. For this affliction, I have coined the term "domophobia" - a hatred of one's home. Others may be using this term for other definitions. Is there still a "Sniglets" registry?

For all of our faults, we that dwell in the United States have a pretty good deal. It is fine to sensibly point out faults with a desire to correct those faults ..."Towards a more perfect union...", but people of Chomsky's ilk seem to want the very destruction of their homeland.

It is totally illogical. Above all else, if you don't like it, then leave. That's one of the beauties of this country, if it is OK with your parole officer, you can leave anytime you want. "Delta is ready when you are." Some of these people that follow Chomsky, et al, may just be such utter failures in life that they hate the system that has left them behind.

The blogger of note, Benjamin Kerstein, had a detailed post on Saturday, March 26, 2005, entitled "Hands on the Whip at Last" where he gives his views into the possible mindset of Chomsky and his fellow travelers. It is a good read. People like Chomsky have a love of power and they live vicariously through past and present wielders of absolute power. That is why they cannot bring themselves to condemn those tyrants responsible for the estimated 100 million victims of "democide" during the 20th century (Hitler, Stalin, Mao, Castro, Pol Pot, et al). When a "Liberal" cannot bring himself to criticize at least Adolf Hitler, HE AIN'T A LIBERAL, HE IS A LEFTIST REACTIONARY!

If these people ever succeed, do they ever consider what comes after?
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Thursday, April 07, 2005

Property Rights in Danger during Legislative Action

Re: ANWR CONSERVATION FUND

What this is about is that after the Senate approved ANWR drilling it included the approval of a $350 million conservation fund from oil and gas leasing. This money will be passed on to various "land protection" organizations (Land Trusts, etc.) that have been buying private property (under the guise of protecting the environment). Sometimes these organizations have been employing extra-legal tactics in pressuring land owners to sell. The land is then "locked up" by these Non-profit groups, sold or given to government, or in some cases, later sold to favored developers. This primarily affects rural and mountain homes and farms.

This was done quietly by Tennessee liberal Republican Lamar Alexander. The House version is H. Con. Res. 95 (House Conference Resolution 95). The Senate version is S. Con. Res. 18. The "rub" is the Conservation Fund.

If you wish to act responsibly, the Capitol Hill Switchboard at (202) 225-3121 and ask for your Representative by name. The Senate number is (202) 224-3121.

More to come...
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Morning in America - The Importance of the Message and the Importance of Unity on Important Issues

..."But you take a man's measure by the totality of his actions." These are words from Bill Bennett's Monday talk show, in reference to minor issues with the life of Pope John Paul II (I don't know the specifics). Though I was vaguely aware of Bill Bennett's national radio talk show (116 stations, 18 of the top 20, including Atlanta), Kathleen Parker's Wednesday column provided more information. I will be a more regular listener and to the Laura Ingraham show afterward, except when working outdoors or in courthouse deed rooms in my chosen fields.

These words can be applied to Bennett himself, Rush Limbaugh, even Newt Gingrich (Newt is important as a historian, but I still have trouble with his treatment of his first two wives). Ever major human player in the Bible was flawed, yet God still used them. Moses killed a man in anger; King David sent a man into battle to be killed so he could have his wife; Jonah was ordered to preach in Ninevah and he tried to escape across the Mediterranean; Saul of Tarsus persecuted early Christians, yet he became Jesus' most famous advocate as the Apostle Paul. [I don't claim to be a Bible expert, just a learned student.]

When the Moonbats bark about Bennett's gambling problem, this is to distract from his message. When the Moonbats bark about Limbaugh's painkiller addiction or his divorces, it is to distract from the message.

We have to leave the final forgiveness issue to God and get past the noise to focus on the important messages. The Lib/Leftist Moonbats don't spend too much time barking when Ted Kennedy speaks. We don't know if Ted Kennedy has spent time on his knees asking for God's forgiveness for Mary Jo Kopechne's death or the blood on his hands from our soldiers (and civilians) killed because his public criticism of President Bush's Iraq policies. His public persona and lack of humility would suggest that he hasn't, but then that is just my prejudice.

Of course Senator Kennedy has the right of free speech, but during a time of war, repeated public pronouncements of disagreement are heard by the enemy and give the appearance of our being more divided than we actually are, thereby giving "Aid and Comfort" to those killing our soldiers.

This same sort of disunity cost the lives of thousands of Americans and Vietnamese by prolonging the war past 1968. The North Vietnamese/Vietcong admitted after-the-fact that they were considering giving up after they lost the Tet Offensive. They admitted that the antiwar movement in the US gave them "Aid and Comfort". It gave them the belief that if they held on long enough, we would lose our "stomach". We have Walter Cronkite, Jane Fonda, Tom Hayden, John Kerry, et al (plus orchestration from the Kremlin) to thank for the prolonging of the war. You can check figures on the internet, but I think our losses were about 10,000 by the end of 1968. If not for the antiwar movement, how much smaller would the "black granite" wall in Washington, DC be?

Yes, we didn't handle some (many) aspects of the Vietnam war properly, but we could have handled these things after-the-fact, while presenting a unified front to our adversaries. We ain't 100% right, but we ain't wrong. We are not handling every aspect of the War on Terror properly, but we can deal with these behind the scenes and after the fact.
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