Just A Guy

Just A Guy

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

George Washington was right

"The alternate domination of one faction over another, sharpened by the spirit of revenge, natural to party dissension, which in different ages and countries has perpetrated the most horrid enormities, is itself a frightful despotism. But this leads at length to a more formal and permanent despotism. The disorders and miseries, which result, gradually incline the minds of men to seek security and repose in the absolute power of an individual; and sooner or later the chief of some prevailing faction, more able or more fortunate than his competitors, turns this disposition to the purposes of his own elevation, on the ruins of Public Liberty.

"Without looking forward to an extremity of this kind, (which nevertheless ought not to be entirely out of sight,) the common and continual mischiefs of the spirit of party are sufficient to make it the interest and duty of a wise people to discourage and restrain it."

George Washington, "Farewell Address"

Translated from late-18th-century English, our first, arguably greatest and certainly most humble President warned that political parties do more harm than good, and should be discouraged at virtually any cost, because they lead to the despotism of the party in power over the party out of power and, finally, to a person who "turns this disposition to the purposes of his own elevation, on the ruins of Public Liberty. I am afraid in my soul that we have reached that point.

A personal anecdote to prove that a pox is appropriate on BOTH their houses: I was considering at one time running for district court judge here in Bexar County, Texas. Not having participated in the local party politics, I looked up the Bexar County Republican Party chairman and made an appointment to discuss how one goes about running for judge. I explained who I was and what I thought made me a good candidate for judge. When I finished, he told me I was just what they were looking for: a bilingual Anglo military veteran with good connections and a background as a trial attorney.

"Now", he said, "we need to get you over to see Jim [no last names for this post]".

"Who is that?", says I.

"The kingmaker", says the Republican Party Chair. "If he likes you, we'll support you as a candidate."

This is a name I'd never heard before. I began to realize that there was a power behind the power, and a price to be paid to get support from my own party. It disgusted me and played a large role in my decision not to run.

I have no doubt the same shadow players exist in the Democrat power structure, and in fact once received unsolicited a call from a friend who is a "player" in the Democrat party, asking me not to support a particular female [Republican] candidate for judge because "she hasn't paid her dues". I knew this candidate was (and still is) an excellent attorney and a person whose judicial temperament was above reproach, and that dues had nothing to do with her qualifications. The call, like my conversation with the party chairman, made me sick to my stomach.

Call me naive; call me silly. I just believe that party affiliation should not be the touchstone of our decisions to cast our vote. I am a conservative; many Republicans aren't. I have Democrat friends for whom I have voted repeatedly for judge, despite knowing full well their party affiliation. A friend of mine, Charles Gonzalez, currently a United States Representative from Texas, received my vote as a judge and, the first time around, as a candidate for House of Representatives. He was a very good judge, but showed himself to be a party hack as a politician, and I stopped voting for him (sorry, Charlie - I still love ya!).

Things have to change. We must stop allowing politicians to have 10 and 20-year (and more) careers in office. That's not how the Founders meant the system to operate. Nobody can keep his or her sense of what's going on outside the beltway, or city council chambers, or Austin, for more than two terms. Entitlement has become the rule, and NOBODY's entitled to my tax money in the form of pay and benefits for life.

It all fits together: party politics leads to party hacks and party bosses; blind, unthinking ballot casting leads to party despotism and the kind of win-at-all-costs alley fighting we've seen over the last 20 years, with elected officials thinking more of lining their pockets and consolidating their power than of working for the interests of their constituents and of the nation. Any politician who sneers at the principles of integrity first and service before self should be subjected to the full fury of his or her constituents. Why do we stand still for the Foleys, Clintons, Sanfords and Franks of our current political landscape?

Washington was right: party politics are the root of all kinds of evil, regardless of the party. Find out where your candidate stands, don't just vote the straight ticket! Your future and your country's future demand it.

Friday, June 26, 2009

And for this, the world comes to a halt?

Michael Jackson, a performer as strange as he was talented, died on Thursday. I'm sorry. I feel for his family. But for God's sake, does he merit nonstop coverage by Fox News, all the broadcast networks and every web news outlet? Hell, no!

What a sad commentary on us that coverage of perhaps the most destructive legislation of our time, "cap and tax", was relegated to the "Politics"section of the Fox News website so more space - even more space - could be given to every conceivable angle of the Death Of Michael Jackson. A subject of tremendous importance to every man, woman and child in the United States was crowded out by multiple homages to a guy who beat the child sexual abuse rap, pissed away jillions of dollars on his freaky habits and hated himself so much that he spent his entire adult life trying to literally blot out his genetic past. Pathetic, pitiable, creepy, and THIS news is what took precedence over actions of elected officials that could very likely result in the end of our nation as we know it. And no, that's not hyperbole.

Let's get over this obsession with freaky talented people, shall we? I mean, at least Farah Faucett had class - and she had the bad fortune to die a few hours before Jackson and be completely ignored. Mark Sanford got more press than the debate in the House of Representatives, and doesn't have the presence of mind to realize that by engaging in adultery and abusing state funds to arrange a trip so he could visit her in Argentina, he's lost the moral authority to lead, doesn't have the good sense and humility to just resign.

I can only hope Sarah Palin stays as head-up, squeaky clean and classily outspoken as she has been so far. We've got to have someone to look up to.

Friday, May 8, 2009

The Latest "I don't get it"

I've noticed lately (I noticed it before, but just haven't mentioned it yet...) entirely too many guys (as opposed to "men") riding crotch-rocket motorcycles bareheaded (and in flip flops, shorts and tank tops), but with a helmet clipped to the side of the bike. I finally asked myself, "what does this person think he's going to do in an emergency? Does he think his reflexes are so "Fantastic-Four" that if he starts to slide, or a big honkin' four-by-four with a cowcatcher made of 4-inch oil field pipe is about to squash him like a grape, he can quickly reach behind him, lift up the seat he's sitting on, unhook the helmet, cram it on his head, thread the strap through the buckle (all while keeping one hand on the throttle/front brake combo and the other on the clutch), and lay the bike down without high-siding it?

Hmmm...why do I get the feeling that if some of these macho guys were under the influence of scopolamine (truth serum), they'd answer, "I'm a great motorcycle rider! I can handle myself. The helmet's just for some bimbo I might meet at a bar, so she'll feel safe when I strap her to the back and ride 130 miles an hour down the interstate, weaving in and out of traffic so she'll be impressed and give it up to me".

I guess I could be making assumptions. I guess...

It's been that kind of week.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Unethical, maybe. Illegal? Nope

The response by Congress to AIG's payment with tax money of bonuses to employees is nothing more than poorly considered grandstanding. The imposition of a retroactive confiscatory tax on those particular people violates the Constitution in at least three ways: it singles out particular people who have not violated any law for civil punishment, and it takes the form of a bill of attainer and/or an ex post facto law, both of which are specifically prohibited under the Constitution.

Do I think it was wise for these people to take the bonuses to which they are entitled under contract law? No. Does it even rise to the level of immoral or unethical? Perhaps. But was it illegal? From all I've seen (and lawyers tend not to make judgments on stuff they haven't reviewed personally, so there's my caveat), two things make the Congress' action not just grandstanding but embarrassingly stupid: first, AIG was contractually obligated to make these payments; second, it was the Congress that approved billions of dollars in bailout money with not a single real limit on how it was to be spent. The arrogance, the hypocrisy, the plain old stupidity, are breathtaking.

Shouldn't there be some kind of test these people have to take that shows they're minimally conversant in the particulars of the document that creates the elective offices they hold?

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Mr. President - please define "gyrations"...

“Day to day gyrations of the stock market” – this is how our Commander in Chief describes the Dow’s fall from 12,000 in September to its current 6,500 level. My concern is less that he doesn’t know what’s going on in the stock market – I don’t either. My concern is the dismissive attitude we see whenever anyone asks Mr. Obama a question whose answer might be uncomfortable or inconvenient, or otherwise not in line with his string of campaign promises. “Don’t worry about it” is beginning to sound like, “Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain”, or worse: “Your worries are silly, ridiculous and beneath my dignity to address”. It smacks of the elitism, the “let them eat cake” attitude he and the other Democrats currently in positions of authority attributed to the previous administration and the Republican Congress.

I want this nation to recover. I want government to be in its intended role as servant of the people, not ruler of the people. I want this administration and this Congress to understand and remember that, in the words of Rush Limbaugh last weekend, they are elected to be temporary stewards of the nation, not to remake the nation. This nation has survived worse than we are currently experiencing, and it is arrogant in the extreme to think that one President’s view of how this nation should look trumps all those who have gone before and that the nation must change to fit his view.

Monday, March 2, 2009

"We Need Your Help!"

So it's been a couple weeks since anything hacked me off enough to write about. Here's one: I am tired of being insulted by the people who are supposed to represent my views.

I gave a couple hundred bucks - once - to the Republican National Campaign Committee, and agreed to serve on their Business Advisory Council, thinking this might be an opportunity to offer up some observations or suggestions, me bein' a small business owner and all. Imagine my delight (can't you just?) when Chairman Tom Cole notified me that I'd been selected for the honor of being an "Honorary National Chairman - Texas" for all my contributions to the cause. At this point (after playing with the little wooden gavel they mailed me that had a solid brass plaque proclaiming my achievement), I started thinking, "Wait - have I actually made a substantive contribution other than my two c-notes? Hmmm...." Surprise of surprises, I then started receiving "personal" faxes from the selfsame Tom Cole, telling me how delighted he was, yadda yadda yadda, and (you guessed it) asking for more money. Fool me once, shame on you...I wasn't about to be fooled twice. Sent my polite declination (I kept the cool gavel, though), and have continued getting the "personal" faxes (and phone calls, and letters) telling how important I am to the conservative cause and seeking my input (and my money).

Look - in '94, we sent a Republican majority to Congress, the first majority in 40 years, and excitement and anticipation were high that ethics and integrity were making a comeback. Twelve years later, we lost the majority, partly because the people we sent to represent conservative, small government, anti-pork values took less than two years to become completely enslaved to the same system they ostensibly were elected to clean up.

So when my own party starts telling me how "we need your help to return conservative values to Congress", I get a real and increasing pain in the hind parts. That, and I start thinking, "These people really do think I'm a rube!" A twit. A tool, a pawn, a yawping yokel. Further alliterations fail me - I'm dangerously close to the fate of Screwtape when he got so apoplectic he turned into a large caterpillar.

I didn't stop being a conservative. The party of Lincoln, the party of conservatism turned from principles to profit and power above all else, betrayed and left rank-and-file conservatives holding the reins of the valiant Reagan steed. It's time to reject the perfumed princes. It's time for tea parties, not just in protest of the horrendous "stimulus" and bailout packages, but in protest of those who presume to speak for conservatism but in reality just want, to quote Mel Brooks, "their phoney-baloney jobs" back.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Much - and Too Little - Ado About Race

Two bits of news yesterday showed with stark clarity just how wrapped up in race are many in this nation: a cartoon that showed two police officers standing over a recently deceased chimp and asking who'll write the next stimulus bill now that the monkey's dead, and newly installed US Attorney General Eric Holder saying that America is "a nation of cowards" with respect to race relations.

The cartoon generated all sorts of controversy, with the majority of public quotes ranging from "open racism by the cartoonist" to "tone-deaf" failure to realize "what people would think". Race-baiters and those who spend their lives waiting to be offended by something immediately assumed the chimp was supposed to be President Obama and made the "racist" connection right away ("racists think blacks look like monkeys, yadda yadda yadda"). Those same people apparently aren't smart enough (or didn't pay enough attention in Government class) to know that the President doesn't legislate, the Congress does - and in this particular case, the President mainly did a "me too" on the bill, suggesting some stuff (or stuffing) after it got to the White House - so calling the monkey an Obama stand-in just points out the ignorance of the critics.

The cartoon, it seems obvious to me, was intended to say a well trained chimp could write a better bill. Seems to me that’s a recognized and oft-used put-down that has absolutely zilch to do with race. As to the “tone-deaf” quote, that depends on whether you acknowledge the "people are racists" tune, doesn’t it?

As to Holder's disgusting comments, I'm offended, as somebody who was raised in the Air Force and by my parents to be color-blind, to be lectured by this race-baiting AG - uh, the FIRST BLACK Attorney General, appointed by the FIRST BLACK US President. Is there anything more morally and ethically offensive than to have this beneficiary of a selection process established in a "nation of laws, not of men", smugly lecture the public that our Constitutionally protected freedom to associate with whomever we wish makes us cowards if we don't intentionally associate (which is different from intentionally not associating) with others of different hues outside the workplace? I reject his premise that, to the extent this "voluntary social segregation" occurs, it results from cowardice. Mr Holder, as a public servant and a public figure, keep your personal opinions to yourself in these matters. And try to work up a little open-mindedness, willya?

Monday, February 16, 2009

...But Who's Counting? The Census Scam.

After a long (in terms of stuff I hadda do) weekend, I'm getting back to reviewing the Obama administration's growing list of remarkable (a descriptive, not an approbation) initiatives. Today's jaw-dropper is the stated intent to bring oversight of the 2010 census into the White House; specifically, into the office of Rahm Emanuel, perhaps the most partisan Chief of Staff in American history and one who unabashedly starts with, rather than resorting to, the politics of personal destruction to accomplish his team's objectives. Another example of the pathologic need for control of all aspects of life in America, this is a bald-faced power grab to ensure the census numbers permit Emanuel, et al to redraw demographic population lines so that Democrat candidates have the advantage in every district.

Nobody except Obama and Emanuel and their henchmen has said this is a good idea. Even other Democrats are saying this blurs the lines between politics and legitimate information gathering. Does that matter to this administration? Apparently not. As for decades past, the acquisition and retention of power by liberals trumps all other considerations.

I'm willing to listen to an explanation of why it's a good idea to put control of the census inside the White House. Anybody? Buehler?

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Blind Hogs and Acorns - Alinsky's Rules

"[T]he answer I gave the young radicals seemed to me the only realistic one: 'Do one of three things. One, go find a wailing wall and feel sorry for yourselves. Two, go psycho and start bombing—but this will only swing people to the right. Three, learn a lesson. Go home., organize, build power and at the next convention, you be the delegates.'" - Saul Alinsky, Rules For Radicals.

I can't believe I'm quoting the man whose ideas about what the United States of America should be are as diametrically opposed to my own as it is possible to be. Here's the problem: the conservative movement in this country has been co-opted by those we sent up to Washington to represent our conservative values. At best, with few exceptions, they have become a part of the system that the '94 conservative waxing of Democrat incumbents was supposed to rout: earmarking, pet projects, kowtowing to lobbyists and special interests, "big government". At worst, they have sold us out, more interested in power and prestige than in public service. I'm having trouble seeing the baby for the bath water.

Is Ayers right? Except for "left" in the above quote, his advice to the young idealists of the Eugene McCarthy/Bobby Kennedy crowd could apply very well to those of us who are pushed to the breaking point by the fecklessness and, yes, betrayal that is the majority of our current crop of Republicans: cry about it, get violent, or "organize, build power and" be the delegates. The first two are completely unhelpful and fly in the face of all that is America. The third just may be the only way to reclaim conservatism and the "servant" part of "public servant". Oh, and my personal opinion is that nobody should be allowed to be a member of Congress for more than eight years. When people have to go back home for good in a finite time frame, they may be less likely to "go native" in Washington.

And We Pay These People For What?

It seems the United States Congress has once again leapt before it looked. Even if I believed in government bailouts of foolish private industries, the "stimulus" bill that passed the Senate yesterday contains exceedingly more government growth money than private business stimulus money. What sickens me is that I'm not confident that a single Senator who voted for this bill actually read the bill before voting. The vast majority simply voted for it because it's a short term fix for which they can claim credit (no pun intended, but certainly apropos) with the local rubes when they go home for an undeserved break. Others voted for it because they bought into the administration's hype that the world as we know it would end if our grandchildren and their children didn't throw money at the problem right now.

Understand, the Obama administration has no lock on fearmongering: the bailout bill of September last was also a knee-jerk, fear-driven reaction to a problem created partially by private industry running before the whip of Barney Frank and his ilk, who demanded loan money be provided to people with no business committing to a mortgage. Rather than simply letting processes already in place (the Bankruptcy Code) work to resolve the looming personal and business financial failures, a majority of both houses of Congress listened to Chicken Little and vomited out an ill-considered and unmonitored $700 billion.

If all it takes to be a congressman is voting on stuff you haven't read, on the advice of people who have no intention of giving you information that might dissuade you, I say we should just rotate the congressional seat among us. Send whoever's next up there to raise his or her hand at the appropriate time. Of course, we could avoid the bother just by training a few chimps to do so. At times, I think we'd be better off...

The Republicans, with the exception of the three typical traitors, voted properly against the Senate bill. My good friend Charlie Gonzalez (D-Tex), for whom I have great personal respect and with whom I disagree on almost everything politically, and Ciro Rodriguez (D-Tex), who appears to be nothing more than a MALDEF/Dem party hack, both voted for the House version. My prayer is that each will be held accountable for the vote he or she cast. But I'm not hopeful.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Of Willages and Wittamins

My church sponsored an event called Global Impact Celebration last week, in which missionaries from around the world came and visited with various groups at this 6000-member congregation, to give a glimpse into the life of a Christian missionary. It was, to say the least, enlightening.

Some of the missionaries were Americans, sent by various "sending agencies" to preach the gospel and plant churches in places like Thailand, Colombia, Costa Rica and (don't get ahead of me) France. Others are indigenous missionaries in, to name a few, Mexico, Pakistan, Ukraine, Cambodia (Kampuchea, as he informed us - "nobody in Cambodia knows what Cambodia is"). We listened in various venues as these missionaries, some in fluent but very strongly accented English, told of the roads they had traveled in bringing Christianity to places that had never heard of Jesus, or had no idea who He is. Suffice it to say, persecution - loss of job, social ostracism and, yes death - is alive and well throughout the world.

Though the relating of horrendous torture, long treks through frozen tundra, threats from Al Quaeda and simple (!) bureaucratic nightmares gave me pause - and cause to really admire these pioneers, the story that seems to me most tragic is the situation in Europe. I had a long conversation with Jim Biese, the area director for the Mission Society of United Methodists' European mission field. I could tell he'd heard the "tough job, having to live in Paris" quip more than once. Unlike the missionaries who take the gospel to people who have never heard of Jesus Christ, Jim spent over eight years trying to open dialogue with people who have seen the Church and rejected it: a "post-Christian" society, full of cynical people who think they know what Christianity is and have no use for it. They've grown beyond needing a spiritial placebo, they're arrogant in their self-reliance, they view believers as weak, ignorant people who cling to religion (does that sound familiar?) because they can't face the "real world".

How tragic. How (see my Carlin blog from a few days ago) unutterably sad. This is not the hot rage of Pakistani taleban or the ignorant indifference of Thai bhuddist materialists, this is cold, "reasoned" rejection of religion in any form. I am reminded of the parable of the evil spirit that is cast out, then returns to find the house swept clean and moves back in with more evil spirits: nothing good replaced the evil, and now the house is worse off than it was before the casting out occurred. My heart breaks for Europe, for those sophisticates who are so supremely self-confident that they blind themselves to both the physical threat of increasing numbers of Muslim immigrants with no wish to assimilate, and to the the eternal danger of an emptiness unfilled by the only One who can give them what they lack: wholeness and peace.

Friday, February 6, 2009

The Bloom Is Already Off The Rose

"On Thursday, the White House conceded that the husband of Labor Secretary-nominee Hilda Solis this week paid about $6,400 to settle tax liens on his business that had been outstanding for as long as 16 years. The Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee postponed a confirmation hearing after the news broke." - Wall Street Journal, 6 Feb 09.

"[President Obama] may have to change from an open hand to a closed fist" to get Republicans in the Senate to fall in line - George Stephanopoulis in an interview with Christ Cuomo, 6 Feb 09

Obama spent a good bit of his speech last light heaping scorn, derision and ridicule on Republicans simply because they've called him to account for some of the ludicrous spending in the proposed "stimulus" bill presently before the Senate.

This from the man who can't seem to find anyone qualified for public appointment who hasn't flouted the tax laws his branch of government is charged with enforcing.

This from the man who was touted as being the first "post-partisan president" when he was running.

This from the man who promised to have the most ethical administration in history.

Two weeks in, and he's already been reduced from "The Messiah" to a Chicago hack politician pulling out the truncheons against those who disagree with him. It's going to be a long four years for this President.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

The Tragedy of George Carlin

Last night, I watched the Kennedy Center show honoring (posthumously) George Carlin. A truly brilliant, insightful, funny comedian, Carlin's bits over his 40 year career in standup were introduced by a number of comedians and I thoroughly enjoyed the chuckles down memory lane.

Until the next-to-last presenter: Bill Maher, the smirking, rabidly liberal former funnyman who is not only a professed atheist, but virulently anti-religious. Maher referred to a line he used to use in his standup, before he "saw the light and realized how stupid and awful religion was and that there is no God" (a paraphrase, admittedly): "suicide is like telling God, 'You can't fire me, I quit!'". Actually, a tragically funny bit. Maher then introduced Carlin's bit about shrinking the 10 Commandments down to 2, and it became obvious that the late George Carlin was a complete atheist. Not a smirking, small-time-bully atheist like Maher, but a cold, calculating unbeliever. The bit wasn't funny - in fact, putting this piece of Carlin's life last in the presentation left me unutterably sad for him. Sad that he hated religious institutions, sad that he rejected the Creator who gave him life, intellect and amazing creativity. But sad mostly because all these people were celebrating the life of someone who denied the very existence of the Giver of Life, and who found out after it was too late that "even the demons acknowledge that Jesus is Lord - and tremble".

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

"I Am Not A Role Model", revisited

Since my screed yesterday, Michael Phelps has not suffered any loss of income from the revelation that he's a pothead; however, as I write this, I just heard that Tom Daschle has withdrawn his name from consideration - this after the White House press secretary yesterday excused Daschle with a "nobody's perfect" explanation for his failure to pay six figures worth of taxes until after he was offered the job of Secretary of Health and Human Services. To his credit, President Obama took the blame for making the nomination, saying, "I screwed up". Regardless of my distaste for the choice of words from a sitting President, his actions in taking responsibility for the Daschle nomination, and that of his original nominee for the new post of "chief performance officer" (who also had tax problems), are commendable.

At the risk of a charge of piling on, I'll go ahead and make the point at which I was originally aiming (before the Daschle announcement): What does it say to our children when people who are role models because they achieved the recognition and fame they sought, suffer no consequences when their intentional bad acts are brought to light? Remember Charles Barkley saying, "I am not a role model"? Well, guess what? If people see you in a particular role, if you're in the public eye, you're a role model. Tough if you don't like it. As a litigator, I've seen what a bad witness can do to a case. That doesn't mean the witness wasn't a witness, it just means his word isn't worth much.

If there's a nugget here, it's this: to paraphrase General George S. Patton: "You're always on parade." People who seek the limelight need to be prepared to face the consequences of their poor decisions. Or as Christ puts it, "What you do in the dark will be seen in the light"

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Of Tattoos and Absolution

The sermon yesterday morning at my church contained a story about one of our younger parishioners getting a tattoo, told by the pastor who accompanied him to the tattoo parlor. A good story about where our parish is - the world - but it led to discussion at lunch about why tattoos have become so popular among young people (I'd go with "a blight on the landscape", but hey...) in the last several years. I contend it's because young people are being taught that no action has permanent consequences and that if they screw up, they can just reset the clock and start over (laser removal, that handy-dandy creme that some tat artist is hawking on TV - never mind that laser HURTS and the creme won't get it all).

A little bit of a stretch, you say, to equate tattoos with the larger refusal to take responsibility for our conduct? Let's consider:

1. Not one, not two, but THREE Obama administration nominees for Cabinet posts have very recently paid long-overdue back taxes, said, "Oops - sorry..." and it was as though it never happened. One has been confirmed, two (Tom Daschle and Eric Holder) are just waiting for the call.

2. How many sports figures (I'm thinking of "Pac Man" Jones, Kobe Bryant, any number of professional hockey players) have done heinous things or just been all around bad people and been told, "All is forgiven" and permitted to pursue their careers and make obscene amounts of money because, no matter how insincere the apology, they're dealt absolution "for the good of the game." Thank God Pete Rose is still in the doghouse.

3. Barney Frank letting his homosexual lover run a prostitution ring out of his Congressional office, Ted Kennedy's cowardice at Chappaquiddick, insert name here whose extramarital affair was discovered, apologized for and swept aside at no loss to career or reputation...

There are, of course, the occasional exceptions (mostly Republicans and church leaders) who are made to account for their misdeeds (Blago, Ted Haggard, Larry Craig, Ted Stevens - three of the four have refused to admit any wrongdoing even in the face of overwhelming evidence), but generally, we've been telling the last 2 generations that no bad action will carry permanent consequences. Hence, getting a tattoo is just "expressing yourself", cheating and getting caught are solved with an apology, substance abuse is just experimentation - that's healthy, right?

We are raising a generation that doesn't understand that actions have consequences, and forgiveness is not intended to shield them from the consequences of their actions. They've seen over and over again that what their parents taught about having the face the consequences doesn't apply to everybody and "isn't fair".

**Update that proves my point - Drudge this morning has links to stories about Jennifer Hudson lip-synching the National Anthem at last night's Super Bowl (her agent says there's just too much chance of a screwup if she does it live - hunh?), the Daschle debacle (he's sorry), and Michael Phelps getting caught smoking dope with a bong and apologizing for his youthful hijinks. I WEEP for this generation!

Friday, January 30, 2009

How to Get Better at Stuff

I'm a musician who has the privilege of playing with musicians who are better at what they do than I am at what I do. They make me better by just trying to keep up with them. Jeff's been playing mandolin since his mom had to carry the case for him. Sherry's not a drummer, she's a percussionist who excels at all styles. Monica is breathtaking in her skill at the piano - so much so that a laugh of delight often escapes me in the middle of a tune when she surprises me with a riff. Rachel's only 19 but is getting to where she can harmonize to anything with anybody (I take a LITTLE credit for that 'cause she's my kid!). She can do that because she's been playing with real players since she was 14 or so, and because they allowed her to participate.

Call this my little "do good stuff" minute: if you excel at anything, you're a potential mentor - share your skill. If you desire to excel, don't be shy - ask to interact with the folks who do it really well. I know from experience that, at least with Dana & Friends, the whole is greater than the sum of the parts and I'm better for it.

We'll be playing tonight from 7 to 9 at Windcrest United Methodist Church's Soul Cafe, corner of Walzem and Midcrown, in San Antonio. Free food, free admission, and fun tunes - and a glimpse of somebody getting better because the "real players" let me sit in.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Emanuel's Prophecy Comes True

Rahm, that is...

The supposed bailout bill presently before Congress should be no surprise to anyone who was listening to current White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel during the general election. He gave us a preview last fall when he said the following in a Wall Street Journal interview:

"You never want a serious crisis to go to waste. And what I mean by that, it’s an opportunity to do things that you think you could not do before. I think America as a whole in 1973 and 1974 … missed the opportunity to deal with the energy crisis that was before us. For a long time our entire energy policy came down to cheap oil. This is an opportunity - what used to be long term problems, be they in the healthcare area, energy area, education area, fiscal area, tax area, regulatory reform area, things we had postponed or too long that were long term are now immediate and must be dealt with. And this crisis provides the opportunity for us … to do things that we could not do before. The good news is … the problems are big enough that they lend themselves to ideas from both parties for the solution."

In other words, Emanuel sees in the current financial crisis the opportunity to camouflage far left initiatives in the areas of "family planning", "climate change" and multiple pork projects in the 800 billion dollar bill that is ostensibly to provide financial relief to private business. Regardless of your position on whether private companies should receive federal (read yours and mine) funds to rescue them from the results of their own greed and the pandering of the Democrat Congress (can you tell what my position is on this?), if it's a financial bailout it shouldn't contain funding for social programs.

Read Emanuel's last statement again. Then notice that the Democrat House Speaker and the new president have each used the phrase, "We won", to justify pushing through pet projects without asking for "ideas from both parties". This is bullying, plain and simple. I call it socioeconomic rape.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Basic Biology and The Social Construct

Okay, here we go with a big one: The push by a loud but tiny minority of homosexual activists for homosexual marriage is completely illegitimate. Although I’m a sold-out, born-again Christian, I’m going to make a completely secular argument against homosexual marriage, based on biology and the social construct. If the following sounds mean, blame the facts or tell me where I’m going wrong, please.

I think anyone would agree that at its biological root, the basic reason for sex is as a mechanism for procreation. Sexual intercourse perpetuates the species, unless you’re talking about asexual reproduction (the decided minority in animals). There is, to my knowledge (and I’m happy to hear differently), not a single instance in which homosexual conduct resulted in a naturally conceived child. There’s no natural homosexual reproduction. Yes, some fish change gender under certain circumstances, but I know of no instance in which two male or two female of any creature have naturally conceived a baby critter. Petri dishes and implanted eggs don’t count – that’s science interfering in nature.

Assuming the above is true, then all the specious arguments about, “my aunt and uncle can’t have kids ‘cause she’s infertile – does that mean they shouldn’t be allowed to be married?” fall away: NO two men, and NO two women, can EVER naturally make a baby by sexual intercourse. Even if your aunt and uncle can’t have kids, A man and A woman can. So, the straw man attempt to equate homosexual marriage with marriage between two people of opposite sexes where one is infertile, falls flat.

So, if society protects marriage as essential to perpetuate society and raise the next generation with the values that will continue the cycle of reproduction, and homosexual marriage cannot under any circumstances naturally result in children, then it does not deserve the protection of law. It just doesn’t. Does that mean that homosexual people are evil or don’t have the same rights as anybody else? Of course not. I can’t keep this from sounding flippant, though I don’t intend for it to: any homosexual has the right to marry any unmarried person of the opposite sex who will have him or her. That’s the same right that heterosexuals have. No difference at all. Protecting homosexual marriage would result in special rights, not equal rights. To equate the push for special rights for homosexuals with the civil rights struggle for equal rights for blacks is an affront to the memory of Dr. King, et al: skin color and ethnicity are completely beyond the control of the person and cannot be altered or not done: my friend Brian can’t just not be black today, and nobody would want him to. There is significant evidence that people can go from homosexual to heterosexual permanently. Regardless, a person who believes himself to be homosexual CAN refrain from homosexual conduct. Even if he chooses to engage in homosexual conduct, that and its consequences are his problem and not the responsibility of society to protect.

On a related topic, the procedure commonly known as “sex change” is, in my opinion, nothing more than mutilation of the patient: a male who is artificially altered to appear biologically female is nothing more or less than a mutilated male. Ditto for females. If it makes you feel better to have your anatomy altered, well…okay; but don’t try to force me to acknowledge as true something which is patently false. A “reassigned” “former” male marrying another male is homosexual marriage, nothing else. Ya can’t change the chromosomes.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Harkin, no; Hatch, yes: Whaaaa….???

As I write this, Fox News is reporting that Timothy Geithner has been confirmed as Secretary of the Treasury. A man who owed about $34,000.00 to the IRS, some of which, according to Allahpundit in his January 13 blog on www.hotair.com, he didn’t pay until the day he was nominated for the post, has been confirmed to the position which is directly responsible for the assessment and collection of income taxes. The argument is apparently that he was just SOOOO BUSY being in charge of financial stuff that he didn’t read the two manuals the IMF gave him describing both the obligation and the procedure to pay self-employment taxes. Oh, he said he was sorry.

Earlier in the day, Democrat Tom Harkin took a principled stand, voting against Geithner because he (rightly, to my way of thinking) could not in good conscience vote for a man who had repeatedly violated the very laws he will now be in charge of administering. On the other hand, Republican Orrin Hatch made the astonishing statement that Mr. Geithner’s experience in financial matters outweighed his violation of the tax laws of this nation. According to Mr. Hatch, capability outweighs responsibility.

This is an embarrassment more appropriate for European politics than American. My hat is off to Senator Harkins. I can't fathom Mr. Hatch's logic. How are we to teach our children to do the right thing for the right reason when people in positions of authority absolve each other for ethical lapses, without requiring any consequences for their actions?

Cedar Fever and Ad Hominem

Well, it's cedar season in South Central Texas. Ordinarily, I would be absurdly pleased with that alliteration; however, at the moment, there's a little guy with his back wedged against my optic nerve and his itty bitty hobnailed boots pushing against the back of my left retina, while his evil little buddies run back and forth under my scalp and yank on my hair follicles. So, while I'm waiting for the allergy medicine to kick in, let's talk about the phrase, "ad hominem".

The latin "ad hominem", translated literally, means, "to the man". It is used in two ways: to appeal to one's prejudices, emotions, or special interests rather than to one's intellect or reason, and, as we've seen ad nauseum (yeah, yeah) in the last two years, attacking an opponent's character rather than answering his argument.

Generally, people in positions of authority don't feel it necessary to engage in ad hominem, it being perceived as unbecoming and an abuse of that authority. So when somebody in authority - say, a President - does personally attack somebody solely for that person's expressed opinions, we have to wonder why. When President Obama told Congressional Republicans last week that, "You can't just listen to Rush Limbaugh and get things done," he was beneath the office of President of the United States. Now, Rush certainly doesn't need for me to come to his defense: he's possessed of intellect and skills of erudition that will run rings around both me and Mr. Obama. My point is that the President should be justifying his initiatives on their own merit, not by taking swipes at a private citizen - one of the citizens to whom he is accountable. Methinks he took Saul Alinsky's advice too much to heart: to paraphrase Mr. Alinsky, "Destroy everybody who doesn't agree with you." Is this the conduct and mindset we need in a chief executive?

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Of Snow and Running

Okay, so I'm at the Denver Tech Center Marriott, done with meetings for the day, and I say to myself, "Self, you gotta get a workout in". Self argues that it's going to be WAAY too crowded in the fitness center, so why bother. "Self", I say, "You were always lazy and you'll never change. Let's go for a run!" Rolling its eyes, Self says okay.

So, we get dressed in our "winter running duds", consisting of a long-sleeved t-shirt, shorts and my Air Force PT jacket, do our stretches in the room and jog down the hall to warm up. As we hit the front door of the hotel, Self notices that it's snowing. Not a lot, but I'm a Texas boy and a little is a LOT. "Bag it", says Self. I argue that it can't be that bad, and I win (surprising me and my Self).

Off we go, it's probably 30 degrees or so, but gently drifting snowflakes make a picturesque scene as I cross the street and head off down the road. "Pfooey on picturesque, this is gonna suck", says Self. "Pipe down", says I. As I get warmed up, I realize that there's a lot less oxygen in Denver than San Antonio ("See?" says Self). Shuddup.

A mile down the road, I'm breathing (okay, panting - whatever) hard, and notice that the gently drifting snowflakes are not so gentle anymore. GAAAACK! I pant in a snowflake the size of a healthy hamster and start to cough uncontrollably, which causes me to have to stop and recover ("You're killin' me!" says Self). As I'm whooping in what little air there is, I realize that my legs are both numb and aching at the same time. Must be the sheet of ice that's covered them in the 5 seconds I've been stopped. And the worn tread on my running shoes is starting to lose ground against the frozen sidewalk. And my knees hurt. And the shortest way back to the Marriott is the way I came. Crap. I force myself to start running (that's what I'm calling it, okay?), just to keep from doing a Tin Man and having somebody find me in the Spring. It seems like the run back is twice as long as the run out. Hmmmm....

Back into the parking lot, and my gait is recovering - meaning I don't look quite so much like a 90 year old lady could kick my butt without working up a sweat. Stop at the covered drive, walk a little to cool down (!?!)...as we stroll into the lobby, Self says, "See, I told you we were lookin' good!" Chatting with a friend, looking fit, getting kudos for my dedication, and another runner, a captain, comes in from the snow. Probably 20 years younger than I am, disgustingly fit, comes up to us and says, "I'm glad to see you made it, Sir. I was behind you for a little while and was a bit concerned." Oh, shut up.

Running sucks.

The Black Sphere: Democrats – That Wasn’t So Tough!

Just read the blog below from The Black Sphere, a black conservative, on the appointment of New York's new junior senator to replace Hillary Clinton. Thought you might enjoy it.

The Black Sphere: Democrats – That Wasn’t So Tough!

Friday, January 23, 2009

A Faulty Premise for Foreign Policy

I watched President Obama and Secretary of State Clinton yesterday as they, dare I say smugly, announced a "new direction" in US foreign policy: aggressive engagement. As though the only way we're going to regain the respect of the world is to ask them what they want and give it to them. This, my friends, is appeasement, pure and simple. I believe it arises from the faulty premise that we should care what the rest of the world thinks of the United States.

Does that sound arrogant? Let me tell you why it shouldn't matter to us what any other country or person thinks of us. We, the United States of America, should be doing the right thing, in the right way, for the right reason, regardless of who will approve or disapprove of our choice. That is a definition of integrity, and that is what we will lose (some, like Bill Gertz in his book, "The Failure Factory", think we've already lost it) when we begin making our decisions based on what we perceive others may think. CS Lewis, in his essay, "The Inner Ring", explains that the only inner circle we should care about being a part of is the one that results from us doing what we should in the way we should - then the respect and accolades we receive will go where they should: upwards. We (read, "State Department bureaucrats and Blame America Firsters") care too much about what others think of us. Right is right - the rest will take care of itself.

I may be rambling a bit - it's early yet. If you have something to contribute to this conversation (agreeing or disagreeing - that's why I putting this stuff out there), please visit my blog at http://josephandhisbrothers.blogspot.com. As the header says, I'm Just A Guy trying to figure this stuff out.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Isn't there ANYBODY clean to nominate?

The most recent revelations about Treasury Secretary nominee Geithner "forgetting" to pay taxes and penalties, and his statement that these were "unintentional mistakes" (is there such a thing as an intentional mistake? Just sayin'...) and that they shouldn't interfere with his qualifications to serve in the post just put the icing on the cake, as far as I'm concerned. Added to Eric Holder("I'm really sorry"), Hillary Clinton ("My husband's prostituting his former office to foreign powers, but it won't affect my judgment as SecState") and others, does this not call into question our new President's judgment? Does nominating people clearly not morally or ethically qualified to assume positions of stewardship and trust not cast doubt on President Obama's ability to properly select the future servant leaders of this nation?

But wait a minute: the preceding statements assume that our new President and his followers ("henchmen" sounds so pejorative) see leadership of the greatest nation the world has ever seen as a sacred trust rather than a right. Nominating people such as Holder, Geithner and Clinton (and Janet Napolitano - Homeland Security? Talk about putting the fox in charge of the henhouse!) seems to me a squandering, not to say an abrogation, of that sacred trust. Why is it that saying you're sorry, in the minds of some, completely wipes the slate clean? Is this a lack of willingness to forgive? Not at all: as my granddad used to say, "Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me".

It is my fervent prayer that these United States will survive the arrogating of power by people who see the average person as incapable and unworthy of the rights guaranteed them under the Constitution. That will take spines of steel and a willingness to stand up for right in the face of power. An ironic twist, isn't it, that the same "speak truth to power" mantra used by the civil rights activists for 40 years is becoming the exhortation against the first black President's administration?

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Now that the festivities are over...

Okay, I'll give O and M props for sticking it out to the - literally - bitter end on the inauguration parade. I have to believe they were praying for the moon buggy to come around the corner.

I'm really ready to stop hearing pundits dissect the new president's speech and try to figure out on whom to pin the blame for the slightly awkward swearing-in. Does it really matter whether Mr. Obama blew the lyrics, or whether his speech was "pedestrian" or "inspiring"? Do these people really have nothing better to do than pick apart the actions and words of people living through a set of circumstances they, as mere critics, will never experience? As a tiny little parallel, I occasionally sing the National Anthem at San Antonio Spurs home games, and I always have a little cheat sheet with the lyrics on it, because being the only person making any noise in an arena that seats 16,000 people who are looking at you and waiting for the real entertainment to start is really unnerving and you can forget the words in a heartbeat.

I've said before, the new prez is not my guy. However, he is now my president. I am confident there will be many issues of substance on which I will have the opportunity to kvetch in the next four years. Why strain at gnats?

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Bigger than the man...

The Founding Fathers envisioned that a grander priority would always take precedence over personal preference after the votes were counted. Well, here we are. Inauguration Day, and my distaste for the incoming administration must take a back seat to the overarching miracle that is the peaceful transfer of power.

The complete class of George and Laura Bush is remarkable, even considering my feelings that the 43rd President failed to put the right people in positions of authority to ensure his policies were effectively carried out. I was proud to serve him as my Commander in Chief. I will serve the new Commander in Chief to the utmost of my ability because the Constitution and the oath I took commit me to that responsibility.

President Barack Obama now has to "shake the stick" and let the American people know he is in command. My prayers are with him because the future of this nation depends on how he carries out his duties.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Just A Guy musing

A new president (not my guy, but the other guy wasn't my guy either except that he was the last one standing), lousy economy (I'm not feelin' it much yet), a nation that has come under immense criticism (mainly unjustly, IMHO), and a government being run by people more interested in the acquisition and retention of power than in honoring the principles and precepts of the men who established this nation.

Wow - sounds like I think everything sucks wind.

That's not so - I believe in a living God who cares so much for me that He was willing to die for the sins I hadn't even committed yet. I believe in the opportunities we can make for ourselves when we are not afraid to take a stand, not take "no" for an answer, and find a way around the naysayers. I believe in the right to keep and bear arms. I believe that freedom of speech should be tempered by the speaker, not by the state. That having been said, I believe I'm just as entitled to tell the speaker and the world that the speaker is full of poop.

Peeves - "he/she", when everybody knows that when we use "he" in a propositional statement, we mean he, she, they, whoever. The idea that a child in utero should be held accountable for the actions of its biological parents. The usurpation of the term, "trial lawyer", to refer exclusively to plaintiff's attorneys. At every jury trial, there are at least two "trial lawyers" - one for the plaintiff and one for the defendant. The idea that homosexual conduct is ever anything more than morally reprehensible. People who refuse to accept that I can "love the sinner but hate the sin". Well, I can. So shut up.