Friday, September 30, 2005

"Morally Reprehensible" Debate

I am sorry to give you another long bit of literature, but I have been keeping up on the outrage over former Secretary Bennett's comment on his radio program the other day. I think that Sean Hannity and Bennett made some very good points about the nature of debate in our society on Hannity and Colmes, so here's the transcript.

Now, obviously, what Bennett said the other day sounds like a horrible thought. It sounds like he said that African Americans are the cause of crime in our society. That is taking it out of context. He was trying to show why a certain type of logic is flawed, thus, he presented the argument as an example of flawed logic.

I would add that no one should accuse Bennett of being a racist. As he himself points out, he has worked for education in underprivileged communities and he believes that poverty affects all races.

If nothing else, read his explanation at the beginning of the transcript. I will leave you with his quotation from the end which I think is very telling about the lack of debate in our society:

What I say to them, Sean, is if they were given the impression that I, you know, am in favor of such a horrible idea as, you know, my critics are suggesting, they need to look at the whole quote. I don't believe that. And I'm sorry that people have misrepresented my views so much that that has given folks that impression. You're right about a person's life. I've got a life, you know, take me in the totality of my actions and I'll tell you, I will stand with my record.

"One must be very careful one gets into these arguments and we try to do it. But, you know, we try on this show to do serious and controversial issues. And it's a big country and it's a free country. We don't put liberals down. We don't put people down with whom we disagree. We talk about serious things in a serious way. And if you're not allowed to talk about these subjects, then it's not the country it's supposed to be.

"You've got to be able to condemn these horrible ideas as I did."

Thursday, September 29, 2005

More Pence

Here is a speech given recently by Mike Pence. He discusses the conservative movement and the role of government very eloquently. But I am not going to tell you what it says. You will have to read the speech yourself.

You Can Stop Holding Your Breath

Roberts was confirmed this morning. We have a new Chief Justice of the Supreme Court.

Now we have to wait for the next nominee.

Aside: I am proud to say that for once in his career Carl Levin did the smart thing. He voted to confirm Roberts. I am beyond impressed. Oh wait, he's not my Senator anymore . . .

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Partisan And Partisan

So, the Dems want to filibuster Bush's next Supreme Court nominee. The reasons to do this appear to be some vague notion about the ideological leanings of the potential nominee. This would make him or her unqualified to be on the court. What the Dems mean to say is that, if the nominee agrees with Bush on issues instead of them, then the nominee should be blocked. So if a partisan judge gets the nomination, they're going to do the partisan thing and filibuster. Makes sense to me. Hasn't the standard for judges always been whether they agree with the elected branches of government? Well, actually, no.

I have every respect for differences of opinion. But I do not remember Republicans getting this upset over Clinton's nominee. In fact, I think they just made sure that he was qualified and confirmed him. It is not as if the court was any less important back then either.

The major problem with Roberts was his failure to explain how he planned to vote on every single issue. It is perfectly within his right to be professional and refrain from announcing things before they even come close to happening. In response to the possibility of filibuster, I would just say that Dems are upset they could not find anything terribly wrong with Roberts and they're itching for a fight so they can get their constituents going. Don't we all want the good old days of scandal ridden hearings such as Bork's and Thomas's back again?

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Difficult Subjects Ahoy

Checking the news for the day I came across this article by Nelson Mandela. I know, Aids is a difficult subject for many Christians. I think most Christians my own age are past the whole, "God is punishing a continent for its sins," viewpoint (which I find to be particularly distasteful). But be forewarned, that if you are uncomfortable with this subject I'm about to discuss it. That is, discuss what little I know, which is definitely not much.

Back at Hillsdale we had a week long lecture series on marriage and family. One of our speakers was this crazy woman who decided that instead of talking about marriage and family she was going to talk about whatever the hell she wanted to talk about. I don't remember her name. I only remember that she said, in all seriousness, that Aids can only be spread through homosexual intercourse and infected heroine needles. When challenged by a student who had worked in Aids camps in Africa and seen many children who had contracted Aids while in the womb, the speaker mocked this idea openly. While some of the students chose to be very disrespectful to the speaker I can understand it to some degree. Ignorance is not deserving of total rudeness, but that was a bit over the top. Personally, I was ashamed that my school could bring in a speaker who would make such assertions. It sure doesn't look good for us when we pay people like that. Anyway, if your beliefs fall within that speaker's then I am sorry. And you will not like my own opinion.

Aids is a terrible problem that has afflicted a continent which has been monumentally mistreated by the rest of humanity. I do not know much scientifically, but I have studied African politics. While I do not go all out in the view that white people are the only problem with Africa, I do at least agree that we have not helped matters. In fact, we have not tried to help matters. Most of what we have done has been exploitation until recently. First there was colonization, which included the almost barbaric monopolization of natural resources. It also took from most Africans the ability to govern themselves because European nations took over governance and did not teach Africans to better themselves, rather they taught them to be corrupt in their governance of themselves. I understand that Europeans were opposed to practices such as human sacrifice and I am okay with that. But where things could have been made better, they were not. South African apartheid is a terrible example of exploitation and abuse. The Afrikaaner government made laws that were very similar to Hitler's anti-Jewish laws. While it did not set out to exterminate black Africans it did set out to separate the races economically, socially and politically. Eventually, however, it began to ammend its ways and it was a white government that released Nelson Mandela from prison and helped bring in a representational government. South Africa is doing rather well now compared to the rest of the sub-Saharan continent. Suffice it to say, that I think Africa has been exploited. I am saddened that those of us who believe that we have good governing methods could so purposefully harm countries that did not meet our standards.

I also find it somewhat arrogant that we always believe that the nation-state is the only way to govern properly. The African patrimonial system could have been made to work as well as our systems. Besides, how is the patrimonial system so different from our system of taxation? They take money and bribes, yes. But we have taxes and the only difference is that our methods are institutionalized. While I realize that bribery is wrong, I challenge anyone who believes that a system of taxation that lets wealthy people and corporations find and utilize every tax break in the book is more right than the patrimonial way. Okay, back on topic . . .

In the case of South Africa it took internal changes as well as external pressures (i.e. trade embargo) to change its ways. I find it interesting that in his article on Aids Mandela cites both of these things as ways to fight the HIV/Aids pandemic. While he is somewhat vague he does argue that behavioral changes must take place and through this education is the best offensive tactic. All in all, I agree with his conclusion. For too long the international community has let Africa slide away. For too long we have exploited its resources, but avoided aiding it because it is not economically advantageous to aid it. External pressure and aid combined with the internal motivation to get things done is the best way. Funding community based organizations has been proven to be very effective in African countries in decreasing the practice of female genital mutilation. Surely something like that could help against Aids as well.

Now, I know that many different countries have done a lot to help in Africa. I applaud these efforts. Change is difficult there, like anywhere else. However, I am not just talking about letting the government help these countries. I am not just talking about pressuring a government to send more aid. I am -- like Mandela -- suggesting that people do something to help with this cause. It is the interest of individuals that will do the most in this case. Help fund organizations that are actually getting something done in Africa. Take some personal responsibility instead of just letting the government do whatever. The government is not a charity operation anyway, but people can be.

Now maybe this is helping against a problem that has become a problem because of too much sin. I ask you, what human problems are not caused by sin? Besides, Jesus did not come to earth to condemn us, look down upon us and beat us over the head with news of our own death. He came to suffer our punishment, offer us forgiveness and redeem us from eternal death. He did not spend time with the righteous when he was here, he spent time with those who knew that they needed his mercy and love. It is not for us to judge, but it is for us to follow Christ's example.

Thursday, September 22, 2005

Solutions For Too Much Spending

Mike Pence recently demonstrated a very wise viewpoint on the subject of fiscal conservatism. In the face of not just one, but two record hurricanes, our government has decided to spend money like it's going out of style. Like Pence, I feel terrible for the hurricane victims, I think that much should be done to help them. I am very happy that the American people have been pouring out money and offering lodgings for these people. I am pleased that the university in this town accepted many students from Louisiana and gave them another chance at their education. All the charity that has been going on and will continue to go on impresses me immensely. The government plans to spend a lot on rebuilding and since that is part of the government's job (infrastructure) I am okay with that. But this is just an incredible amount of money that we do not have. And we are in debt already!

Congress has come up with some ideas on how to reallocate money for the hurricane. Of course, it's not enough. Furthermore, the recent trend of spending suggests that Congress is not extremely cautious or remotely responsible with our tax dollars. My guess would be that a few members of Congress will stand up for fiscal responsibility, while everyone else will vote through the spending increases and let the debt fall upon those of us who will be leaders of this nation before long. Eventually, all debt comes back to strangle its incurrer, even if it takes until the next generation to do that.

I met a young student at a debate tournament one time. He and I were batting ideas back and forth because he was a liberal and I a conservative. At one point, this student wanted to discuss Social Security, he said that he thought it was ridiculous to do anything to change social security. I could not believe how shortsighted a statement that was. Even if you do not want to privatize social security, you must at least realize that the way our government uses the money will cause an enormous tax hike eventually. Either way, I bring up this example for a reason. This student acted like our government often acts about debt. He was young, thus he can be forgiven. Most young people are not faced with actual debt and we do not understand bills until we are well out of the house and beyond college. Members of Congress, however, are old enough to understand debt. They should realize that it will not just go away. It will increase until it causes massive economic problems. But our Congress insists upon acting like debt is nothing. It's as if most of them have forgotten the fiscal responsibility that each one of them must excercise in their own home.

Pence's argument brings these points home. He compares government fiscal issues to the fiscal issues that any family would have to face. It is only different because it is on a grander scale. Thus, Pence's words ring true:
“Congress must ensure that a catastrophe of nature does not become a catastrophe of debt for our children and grandchildren.”

I encourage you to go to this website, find your Congressperson, and let him or her know that we do not want this debt to get any worse. Finding creative solutions from which to draw this funding is a far better idea than "a catastrophe of debt."

In the meantime, I'm still plugging away for Pence in 2008! His committment to fiscal responsibility is outstanding. I pray that he fights a winning battle.

I Think This One Worked

At last, a political test that seems to have done its job. I think this one is almost accurate! I'm not sure that I'm exactly a "social moderate," but I am more of a centrist than you'd think. It also said that I "exhibit a very well-developed sense of Right and Wrong and believe in economic fairness. " And I think that was the part that was most correct. l

You are a

Social Moderate
(56% permissive)

and an...

Economic Conservative
(63% permissive)

You are best described as a:


Link: The Politics Test on Ok Cupid

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

No, No, No, No, No, No, No, No, No, No, No, No, No,No . . .

So, I got rejected. Again. I'm blue. I hate this. I thought I had a chance at this job. I really did. But no. Some idiot who already worked for the DNR had to go and apply. I hate people like that. Let somebody else get a job. I know. I will be one of them myself someday. Wait. I don't have a job. So I won't be.

I am tired of waiting. I am tired of getting rejection notices in the mail. I really hate this.

Monday, September 19, 2005

A Ponder-ance

Perhaps you, my ever so patient reader, consider yourself an open minded person. The sort of person, who, by definition, allows others to express their opinions without censoring them or telling them they are blatantly wrong. You might listen to be sympathetic, or to gain some insight into someone else's viewpoints or so that you can formulate arguments during some later quiet hour so that you can discuss the person's views in more depth next time. Whatever the reason, you're not a bigot, and you know it.

I have known many people of differing opinions on life in general and there is one characteristic that each seems to carry. They all think that they are tolerant toward the views of others.

To illustrate this point, I will speak in terms of political views, because that's what I am good at!

No matter what your political views, I am sure you have heard someone of opposite opinions explain how they listen to everyone with an open mind even if they differ from them. Or maybe you haven't, but you have talked about this yourself. Why do people think that those of your persuasion are so bigoted? You can explain in detail why you have a far more open mind than those opposed to you, and you can describe the sort of people who really bother you. The ones who think they're always right and refuse to listen to anyone with a differing opinion. Maybe you've never met these people, but dammit you know they're out there. You are a lib or a con, or a mod. No matter what you are, you know that your type is the type that listens to others and values their differing opinion and the other types are incapable of doing that.

I have heard Republicans and Democrats, liberals and conservatives, all talk like this. We care about other people's ideas and on and on and so forth and so forth . . . ad nauseum.

My question is this, why do so many assume that the only person who can be reasonable about other people's views is the person making that assumption? Don't you think that if you were smart enough to realize this then others are too?

I am full of questions. But I have come to one conclusion. When next I hear someone make this broad statement in which they explain why they are more open minded than anyone who disagrees with them I am going to weigh the statement against the person's actions. If they refuse to reconsider their own ideas in all circumstances, then they probably have a very feeble self knowledge.

My philosophy class back in college was very interesting for many reasons. I learned to defend my views, but not just that, I learned to think them through and to question them. I took away an ability to question the very foundations of my thought processes, not so that I could sit in a corner and philosophize, but so that I could communicate with others. I remember that one of the guys in my class was a strict determinist. He believed, for instance, that if you raise your arm it is predetermined that you were going to do that at that moment. I'm not sure who he thought predetermined everything, but that's what he thought. This guy is a great guy, but he never once questioned his own train of thought, at least not in the classroom. It struck me as so strange that someone could come into a class like that and flat out refuse to rethink one's beliefs. I got a poor grade in that class, but I sure analyzed and re-analyzed my worldview.

Sometimes the people who claim to be in the so-called "open minded" camp are the least open minded at all. That always strikes me as funny as I listen to them explain why people of differing opinions suck so much. Actions, those are what really count. What you say or do when no one else is paying attention, that's where your true opinions lie. So I ask you, do your actions and your little spoken thoughts reflect your desire and ability to hear others' opinions or do they reflect the idea that those who differ from you are not open minded? These are very different things.

And for the record I do believe in universal truths, I know this is not completely open minded. I do not care. I agree with Alan Bloom to some extent on the definition of open mindedness. When you take it too far then you have no identity anymore and no leg to stand on. But I also agree with Benjamin Franklin that I learn from almost every idea that I hear. I realize that I might think myself correct in this moment, only to realize in the next that I was all wrong.

Friday, September 16, 2005

Another Side To Americans

I found this article in the Times to be very interesting. It's actually a positive report about Americans in general. The last part concerning the popular view that government is responsible for everything is very insightful. I have thought it myself many times and wondered why we always forget that we can take action just as well if not better than any lethargic, bureaucratic organization.

Thursday, September 15, 2005

Roberts Nomination Process

I am definitely keeping up on the Roberts hearings. I find issues of the Supreme Court to be extremely interesting. I have been reading articles, and even some of the transcripts from the hearings.

So far, Roberts has been criticized for not telling his views on certain issues. Democratic Senators keep saying that he will not answer questions or tell how he would rule on abortion or a "right to die." Roberts says that he is not a politician and does not need to make campaign promises. Furthermore, these are touchy issues to him since they may actually come up under his watch.

I think he's being completely fair. Senator Feinstein asked for his personal views on assisted suicide. He refused to answer. The way I see it, there's only one reason to ask the judge his personal views: so they can be skewed into his legal views. He pointed out something interesting near the beginning of his testimony. When he worked as a lawyer for the Reagan administration Roberts urged against the executive giving certain pension authority to Congress having to do with the Lebanon crisis. Senator Leahy appeared convinced that Roberts has an overblown view of presidential authority. Roberts countered this by pointing out that any good and careful lawyer who worked for the executive and whose job it was to ensure the executive keep its power, would have done what he did. It was his job, he had to, otherwise he would not be protecting the authority that he was paid to protect. That seems to reveal a lot about Roberts in my book. He values the job he is doing at the moment, he does not mix his personal feelings into it. When or if he takes the oath of office, he will most likely uphold the Constitution and all the precedents that have been set since then. Thus, he is a lot more like Rehnquist than I at first noticed.

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

A Special Thanks

I recently discovered that I am sensitive to sulfites. This is not a fun thing to be. Let me tell you, here in the USA almost everything you can eat is sulfured in one way or another. There are two main reasons for this: grapes and refined corn products. Of course, the biggest culprit is refined corn products.

Refined corn products include the following: corn syrup, corn starch, fructose corn syrup, high fructose corn syrup, maltodextrin and dextrose. The very first step that a manufacturer takes in refining corn is the worst. They soak it all in a giant vat of sulfur oxide solution! Corn syrup is used in every kind of sweet made in the United States. It is used in juices and jellies. It is the primary sweetener of our country. Any type of non-diet soda contains corn syrup.

Grapes are not as bad, mainly because they are not in as many kinds of food. However, they are sprayed with sulfur when they are on the vine. Otherwise they grow a nasty mold. Thus, even unsulfured wine is very bad for me. The only types of wine I have found that I can drink are made with no grapes and no sulfites are added. They are made with different types of berries and you can find this company online here. Of course, they do not have a store in my area and according to shipping laws they cannot ship wine to my state. Oh well, maybe I will get some when I go visit the fam sometime.

I only just figured out about this sensitivity problem. But I have been having digestive difficulties for at least two years. Now I know why.

I would like to thank my primary source of research to this post. Some caring sulfite sensitive person did a ton of research and was nice enough to put it all online for the rest of us. Here is his website. I don't know who this guy is, but I would have had a lot of trouble without his effort. I read his research and now I know what to avoid to evade my stomach and digestive problems.

How do I know for sure that I am sensitive to sulfites? Well, I stopped eating food with sulfites in them and I felt all better. Furthermore, I can trace any digestive problem I have had recently to some sort of sulfured food. I often suspected that certain foods and drinks were causing me problems, I just did not know why they were doing it.

A sensitivity is different from an allergy. I have been tested for food allergies and I have none. Being sensitive, my reaction comes very slowly, often 6 to 8 hours after I ate the contaminated food. I know this is self diagnosis, and oh my gosh, I should go see a doctor. Really, maybe I'm some sort of nutty hypochondriac who thinks she's sensitive to everything under the sun. Okay, yeah, I do not want to be sensitive to sulfites. I happen to like wine and grapes, sodas and candy. I happen to think corn starch is a very useful thing. If I could wish away my sensitivity I would. But I can't. It's here. From what I have read, doctors cannot check for a sensitivity. They can only check for allergies. Half the time they don't actually figure out what's wrong with you when it comes to things like this anyway. The most a doctor could do is ask me to stop eating sulfites and see if I feel better. I can figure that out by myself, dude. Besides, since sulfites do not have to be disclosed in everything, just reading labels will not do. And neither the government, nor most doctors know what all sulfites are in. I had already stopped eating wheat and lactose, and still I kept being sick. So it has to be the sulfites. It seems so obvious now.

I do enjoy feeling better all the time now.

Sunday, September 11, 2005

Four Years Later . . .

. . . and still I remember exactly where I stood the moment I heard about it. I walked into my dorm after my 9:30am class, I had about 45 minutes of down time before I would head to lunch. All these girls were standing there, watching the news. I thought, "Since when have I ever seen any of these people watching the news? They can't be watching the news!" Seriously, how often does a large group of freshman girls gather in front of the news in the morning?! Then I heard those awful words, ". . . the Pentagon was hit too." Now I thought they were watching a movie. This just could not be real. In a daze I made my way back to my room and called my Mom, of course, Mom knew what was going on. And then I knew. I remember that entire day in excrutiating detail. Every moment of it. Down to the fact that I skipped math class. I remember the next few days. I cried in the supper line in front of this guy I had a crush on (this was before Craig and I were dating) because my friends promised me that they would take me with them to give blood and then they left me behind. I wanted so badly to help the people in New York, but I had no car at the time and Hillsdale is woefully without a busing system.

Yes, I remember it all. And here we are now. Four years later.

What have we to say for ourselves? Osama Bin Laden still lives. Acts of terrorism in numerous places have occurred with increasing frequency. Some of our state governments have no clue how to deal with emergencies and do not call the Feds in before it's too late. The media screams it's anger at Bush and his approval ratings keep falling nad rising. As if any of it matters.

I often wonder about things like this. When any leader messes up, even a tiny bit, his or her enemies go into conyptions. In fits of glee they tell the world about whatever new problem he or she now has. It goes on and on like that. Then the public all have an opinion and it's one of two things a) they hate the leader because he/she is "stupid," or b) the liberal/conservative media is out to get the leader! As a Christian, I believe that both those attitudes are wrong. I propose a different plan of action.

Pause for a moment, think to yourself. Who put that leader where he or she is now? According to that one chapter in Romans it was God who did that. So, what should we do? I suppose you think that I am going to say "obey without thinking." Hah! You're wrong. We should pray for that leader. I will not say ruler, because we do not have rulers, we are our own rulers here. But we do have leaders. Why are we always more ready to hate our leaders, cry out against them, criticize them, discourage them, explain why we hate them, tell people why we disagree with them, get our opinions out there, then we are to pray for them?

We cannot do anything to that leader with our opinion, it is not a bullet as much as we would like to believe it is. But God answers prayer as he sees fit. The most important thing about prayer, however, is that God uses it to teach us things. Who knows how your perspective on a given situation will change if you start praying for the person who upsets you? We do not pray to force God's hand, His will is already chosen and in motion. We pray because God asked us to pray, because we receive from Him during prayer, and for a many other reasons that I am incapable of explaining.

After four years, you would think much had changed in the global arena surrounding terrorism, wouldn't you? Only if you are used to instant responses to everything, you would. Neither you nor I can see the hand of God at work. Not a one of us can foresee what will happen within the next moment. Who are we to tell the Almighty when it is time for a change in something? We can do nothing, save through God's grace. Then we can discern what is right or wrong, and learn how to make a difference. But the first difference ought to be made within our own hearts.

Four years ago I was horrified by the attack upon my country. Four years ago I wept in public because my people had died for no reason other than the hatred displayed toward us by a godless person. And today I realize that if those in control of our country and many other countries were to deal with this terrible threat appropriately, it will only be through the grace of God. And for that we must pray.

Thursday, September 08, 2005

News On Jobs

I have another interview coming up! I am excited about this one. It's for a job with sucky hours at a state park. I love parks! Especially parks with big, beautiful lakes and this one has one of those. I have always wanted to work at a park. The nice thing about sucky hours is that not many people are willing to work them. If I get this job then I will work at getting better hours when I can. In the meantime, they're not that bad. I could take classes very easily with the hours the way they are. Anyway, I haven't even had the interview yet. Wish me luck. I have to get busy preparing for this.

Tuesday, September 06, 2005


My former roomie and I had a long wonderful chat this evening. We talked about people and we solved all the world's problems in about an hour and a half. Interestingly enough, I found this article on Victor Davis Hanson's website just after our long discussion. It addresses some of the things that we were talking about. Namely, people's selfishness and willingness to blame others rather than take responsibility. The article concerns the aftermath of Katrina. But it says so much more than that. Victor Hanson never fails to bring some universal principle or theme into his writing.

Sunday, September 04, 2005


Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist passed away last night. This is very sad. I hardly know what to say. Rehnquist served on the Supreme Court for 33 years. His strength lay in unifying a divided court. Rehnquist voted for decisions that he disagreed with a few times that I remember. Some of those I disagree with. But I do not disagree with his reasons for voting the way he did. He made these difficult decisions based upon changes in the times. Many of his decisions reflected his leadership qualities and his more conservative reading of the Constitution. Rehnquist was a wise justice. I am sorry that he is gone.

Friday, September 02, 2005

The Tragedy

We are all asking the same questions in response to the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina: "How could this happen in the U.S.? Why isn't the government doing more? Why hasn't the problem been fixed yet?"

I do not have an actual answer to these questions. It is a catastrophe beyond any we have faced within the U.S.A. for a hundred years. We live in a modern nation-state, we have technology, we have science. Why can't we just wave our modern wand and fix this?

Again, I have no answer. But I did find a terribly interesting article that puts this tragedy into perspective. I will leave you to consider its words.