Just A Guy

Just A Guy

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.