Thursday, March 10, 2011

Wisconsin and FDR

The current Wisconsin battle over public sector unions is a disappointing spectacle. The inflammatory rhetoric from the left has virtually no limits. They act like the evil Republicans are taking away some fundamental right from the "workers". But there is precious little discussion as to whether it makes any sense for government workers to even have collective bargaining.

So what did FDR have to say on this topic?

FDR: All Government employees should realize that the process of collective bargaining, as usually understood, cannot be transplanted into the public service.

FDR: Particularly, I want to emphasize my conviction that militant tactics have no place in the functions of any organization of Government employees.

FRD: A strike of public employees ... is unthinkable and intolerable.

From a letter to the president of the Federation of Federal Employees

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Merry Christmas etiquette

Christians are celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ today. The celebration is called "Christmas". It is (ideally) an uplifting time of joy, gift giving and family. If you want to be cheerful and polite to Christians, it's appropriate to say "Merry Christmas!" to them. In many Christian societies (e.g. the U.S. outside of San Francisco), it's an appropriate greeting to strangers. They are most likely either actual or ethnic Christians. If not, they're likely to be good natured about the greeting, recognizing they live in a Christian society and respecting that. In a few cases, you will come across an anti-Christian bigot who will reject your good cheer. Do not be concerned about their reaction. Unfortunately, there will always be a few intolerant folks in the crowd. btw, don't say "Happy Holidays." If you believe in Holy Days, just say Merry Christmas. If you don't, say "Hello".

Thursday, November 04, 2010

Obama's response to the election

Some commentators are responding to Obama's press conference following the election as indicating that Obama still doesn't get what the people want. I have to disagree: he gets it. Obama knows perfectly well what the people want. That was clear from his election campaign. He said all the right things about what people wanted. But that was just to get elected, not what he believed or intended to do. He doesn't care what the people want. He knows what his agenda is, and placating the people is just part of the process to get where he wants to go. He has contempt for the people. Why would he let them tell him what to do?

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

The ground zero mosque incident is inching us toward discussion of the real question no one wants to address: can those who follow Islam coexist in the world with those who don't? There is a lot of loose talk about "moderate Muslims." But I'm not sure there is any such thing as "moderate Islam." In any faith, there are those that sincerely believe the tenets and strive to follow them with rigor. Then there are others that are nominal believers, ethnically part of the faith but not "all in." Are there any "all in" Muslims that are moderate? That believe in a society in which Muslims and non-Muslims should have equal rights? I'm willing to believe there could be a more moderate line of theology that is adopted. Christianity certainly looks different in many ways than it did a few hundred years ago. But it's up to the Muslim community to convince others that the "real faith" is not radical. I keep looking for Muslim leaders to denounce the radicals, but see very little. Many of them keep declaring holy war on the U.S. and Israel. The U.S. has the strongest record of religious tolerance in history. We can get along with others. Muslim community: you need to prove to us that you can, too.

Wednesday, August 04, 2010

Post democratic U.S.

In November 2008, California voters amended their constitution to define marriage as a union between a man and a woman. Today, U.S. District Judge Vaughn Walker decided that violated the U.S. Constitution. This is a very graphic illustration of what has been coming for a while: our form of government is no longer a democratic republic, it is a judicial oligarchy. I'm reminded of the British monarchy. They still have a queen who goes around being very important. But it's all ceremonial. She's not really a queen in the historical sense. Similarly, we go through much democratic political process - electing representatives, writing bills, passing laws. While it is not yet ceremonial, it is increasingly irrelevant. Most (all?) significant laws are immediately challenged and taken to court. The courts decide which laws they feel like addressing. The significant ones are addressed and judges make their decisions. And their decisions are increasingly arbitrary, having little foundation in prior law, historical precedent or, in the case of the Constitution, original intent.

The California Prop 8 is a particularly glaring example. It's a very simple law. It was passed by a vote of the people. It confirms a foundational value of western civilization (and most cultures world wide). If the people can't do something as simple as defining marriage to be what it is and always has been, what can we decide?

Monday, June 21, 2010

My contribution to NRO

Today Jonah Goldberg was asking for help doing some research for NRO. I responded with my crack research, and he published it.

Monday, May 31, 2010

What did we learn?

Here's the question: what is the single most important lesson that the world learned in the twentieth century? How would you answer? Take a moment to come up with your answer (and potentially reply to this blog).

My answer: Communism doesn't work. In many ways, the twentieth was the century of Communism. It was incubating as the century arrived and was violently placed into action in 1917 in Russia. It was popular in western academic circles throughout the twenties and thirties, and widely considered in political circles in the forties. Following WWII, China and Eastern Europe came under Communist rule followed by several third world countries in later decades. By the early 1980's, nearly one third of the world lived under Communism. But by 1991, the Soviet Union had collapsed, and by the end of the century Communism was rejected in most of the world. Even China, the last significant Communist country, has been aggressively engaging in free market economics. All of the former Soviet countries have market economies. Everyone knows that centrally planned economies don't work.

Or do they? The U.S. has always been the poster child for free markets. Our economy has been the strongest, by far, for decades. Why? Because wealth must be created and people are most creative when they are freest. We've had the freest economy with the least government intervention which has led directly to the most wealth. And yet we find ourselves in the most significant thrust toward socialism in 70 years. Even as European socialism, Obama's role model, is collapsing, this administration is seizing car companies and the health care industry. Is America on an inevitable path to socialism that Marx foresaw?

I think not. First, Americans do not believe in socialism. Obama could never have been elected if he would have been truthful about his beliefs and his intentions. Second, his results have been abysmal. By the time he leaves office, he will be a laughing stock. Third, the European model of socialism is failing. The collapse of Greece is a wake up call for everyone. I believe that Obama's presidency will ultimately be valuable to America for its contrast. It has forced many more Americans into thinking about the fundamentals of our country. Five years from now, the Obama presidency will have been a bad dream. Americans will have a clearer view of the principles that have made our country exceptional and will support politicians who pledge to return us to them.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Wrong tool for the job

When all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail.

Americans have always been these independent, can-do folks. Creative. Whatever it takes. But more recently I see an America in which the Government will take care of it for you. Homeless folks? The Salvation Army could help. Or an inner city church mission. But most expect the Government to handle it. The Government is there to handle everything, from responding to a natural disaster to deciding what kind of light bulb I should buy. For many, the first response to any and every societal issue is for the government to fix it.

But there are only a few things the Government is really good at. People have natural gifting. One has a knack for brightening another's day. Another is just the person to get something done. Government's natural gifting is to force people to do things they don't want to do. Government is about law. The legislative branch makes laws. The judicial branch makes judgment calls on disputes over gray areas in the law. The executive branch carries out the law.

So consider what a law is: a mechanism to force people to do what they otherwise would not do except for the threat of fine, imprisonment or death.

Government is fundamentally coercive by nature. If people behave in the desired manner without the threat of force, no law is necessary. Others such as artists, authors, educators and preachers change public behavior by changing thinking and values. Then people freely change behaviors based on their beliefs. The Government solution is much more heavy handed. And it's just the right tool for some cases. It's not acceptable to shoot your neighbor if his loud music annoys you. So we make that illegal with a stiff penalty. But it's the wrong tool for so, so many things.

Every single law that is passed removes some liberty from someone. Most laws remove some liberty from everyone. Every law. Every law is coercive. Forced behavior modification. It's like spanking - effective but to be used sparingly. Government is not the right tool for every job.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Everybody loves Nancy

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Speaking English in the U.S.

I've been in over a dozen countries and observed from that and from reading that to be well educated these days means to know English. Everywhere. With so much opportunity to learn English here, I consider it cruel to not to do everything possible to encourage people here to learn English. To not learn English is to guarantee a life with diminished opportunity. Everywhere. And especially here. I think people who support policies that do otherwise should be ashamed of themselves and should be shamed in the political arena by those who care for the well being of people.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Darwin Fish

So I see you have a Darwin fish on your car.

Yeah ...


Well, it's what I believe.

What you believe, or what you don't believe?

Huh? What do you mean by that?

Well, I think the Darwin fish were a response to the Christian fish, the ictheus. Christians started putting them on their cars to proclaim their faith in Jesus. Then the Darwin fish came as a clever response. So I'm interpreting it as more of an anti-Christian statement than a pro-Darwin statement. Is that what it means to you?

Well, I'm not really speaking against anyone. I just believe in science and reason. Educated people believe in evolution. I can't accept a belief system where you have to check your brain at the door and sign up for some sort of creation myth. That seems rather primitive to me.

So you analyze the data and make a dispassionate decision based on your study?

Yeah, I guess you could say that.

So you've studied what Darwin taught and studied what Jesus taught and decided that Darwin made more sense?

Yeah, pretty much.

Have you read any of Darwin's publications? Origin of the Species?

Well, not directly. But we've covered the basic content in classes I've had.

So let me guess. You covered evolution in a high school biology classes for, what, a week? Then maybe again in college for another week, say three classes. A couple hours outside of class doing homework. So you've studied Darwin's teachings for a total of, say, 20 hours?

I'm sure it's more than that.

OK. Less than 100 hours?

Yeah, I guess.

And how much time have you spent studying Jesus' teachings?

I think everyone's pretty familiar with Jesus' teachings.

Have you ever studied them? I assume you didn't do that in school because it's illegal. Have you read the Bible?

I've looked at it some, but I guess I couldn't say I've really studied it.

But you consider yourself educated?

Yes! I have a degree from a very good university.

So here's the deal. Since the invention of the printing press, the Bible has consistently been the world's best selling book. It's been printed about five billion times. Translated into over 2,000 languages. Its concepts are the foundation for western civilization. It's the most published and most influential book in the history of the world. Harvard University was formed so men wouldn't have to go back to England to get a good education. And the bulk of that education was studying the Bible. It was the primary text in all American schools for the first 150 years. One cannot understand the foundational thinkers of western civilization without knowing its content. I estimate, conservatively, that I've spent over 5,000 hours studying it.

Well, good for you. But there are a lot more current books now.

Yeah, I suppose so. The founding fathers didn't have Private Parts by Howard Stern. But back to Darwin. In his Descent of Man, 1871, Darwin wrote:
“Civilized races of man will almost certainly exterminate the savage
races throughout the world...
The break between man and his nearest allies will then be wider, for it
will intervene between man in a more civilized state, as we may hope, even
than the Caucasian, and some ape as low as a baboon, instead of as now
between the negro or Australian and the gorilla.” So he pretty much supported the whites exterminating the blacks. Makes sense. If survival of the fittest and natural selection are the backbone of creation as we know it, you're definitely messing up the gene pool if you *don't* encourage the stronger to eliminate the weaker. If a few hydrocarbons cause global warming, what will it do to the future of mankind if we allow weak and stupid people to continue to reproduce more than the educated class? Hitler was a good Darwinian. He understood this.

Now you're just being extreme.

Jesus taught us to love the poor and the weak as he did and as the Father does. He taught that everyone has value in God's eyes, not in himself, but because God has created him in His image. Because He loved the world enough to sacrifice His only Son on their behalf. The religious right was willing to fight and die to free the slaves in the U.S. Darwin wanted to exterminate them. Are you sure you want that fish on your trunk?

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Prop 85

So Proposition 85 lost. Again. Fairly handily. When it lost last time, I assumed that many people didn't quite understand it because of the tremendous spin the pro-abortion folks put on the campaign. But this time the pro-85 ads were clear, straightforward. I have to assume people understood it. So I have to believe Californians believe that a 12 years old girl should be able to kill her own children without their parents' knowledge. That they should be able to go through a life-alterring event without the comfort and support of their parents if they're afraid to seek it. Which is common. What teenager that screwed up big time is not afraid to tell their parents? But for the vast majority of parents, that's exactly when they come to their support, instead of yelling at them as expected. What we're seeing is fallout from the collapse of the traditional family. The majority of voting Californians think the school nurse (do they still exist?) is a more trusted counselor during the biggest crisis of a girl's life than her parents. They seem to think they can just go to Planned Parenthood and have the child removed like a wart, then everything will go back to the way it was. God is not mocked. I'm sad for my state and for the girls this will hurt. And soberly fearful. God cannot bless this.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Election today

Democrats are expected to control the House after the election today. I understand the president's party historically loses 37 seats in the sixth year election. That might not be so bad. The public mood seems to swing back and forth. If Republicans hold on today, there might be just that much more pent up dissatisfaction in 2008. That could produce some real damage: Democratic control of the presidency and House, maybe even Senate. Who knows what marvelous things Hillary and Nancy Pelosi could do together with some real power. On the other hand, if Democrats win today, how much damage can they do with Bush as president and the Senate in Republican hands. Of course, Bush may need to learn how to veto a bill. But I think Democrats getting some power now could forestall a bigger swing in 2008. I've got to believe the public will tire of Pelosi very quickly when they see a little more of her views and approach to power. That could be just what we need to set up the 2008 election.

Sunday, April 10, 2005

Team Player?

This is Ryan just wondering my way over here to see what being a team-player is all about. (So many puns, so little time)


Friday, April 08, 2005


I used to be puzzled when I'd read in the Bible about Zion rejoicing at God's judgment (e.g. Psalm 97:8, Psalm 48:11, Rev 15:4). After all, isn't judgment a scary thing? Lake of Fire and all that? Weeping and gnashing of teeth? Wouldn't rejoicing in that be a bit twisted? But I was aware of my, and many others', heart's cry for justice as I read the latest news of court decisions. In today's news: "A Virginia judge sentenced a spammer to nine years in prison Friday ..." (story) Now I think having laws to stop spamming is probably OK. And I believe in enforcing laws. But nine years? Murderers typically serve about seven. A few days ago Sandy Berger was convicted of stealing and destroying classified documents and was given a sentence of ... a stern lecture. OJ Simpson had his blood at the crime scene and his wife's blood in his car but was acquitted of her murder. And of course, last week Judge Greer did not rule that Michael Schiavo could have Terri's feeding tube removed, but rather ordered that it be removed. A court order to kill a healthy, if disabled, woman. And in LA, over 1,000 of the most violent gang members are illegal aliens who have previously been convicted of crimes and deported. When these are picked up by LA cops, the cops are prohibited by law from informing the feds that they are back in the country and deporting them. And, of course, there are the previously unnoticed clauses in the Constitution granting the rights of abortion and sodomy recently discovered by our esteemed Supreme Court justices.

Where is justice? Wouldn't it be great to live where judgments were just? Oh, for God to be our judge. It's comforting to know that righteousness and justice are the foundation of His throne.

Thursday, March 31, 2005

Living like Terri

Many people seem to be saying "I'd rather die than live like Terri Schiavo was living." I don't accept that.

First, it's said too casually. Have you really thought about this? Prayed about it? Spent any quality time meditating about it? If the time you've spent pondering this issue is measured in single digits of minutes, just say "I don't know. Haven't thought about it enough."

Second, you don't know what you're talking about. Live like what? No "artificial" mechanisms? My cousin Jim has kidney failure and is on dialysis. Without that procedure, he dies. If he had a living will that said don't prolong life using artificial mechanisms, does that mean his wife has the right to have him executed like Terri? Several people said Terri might likely have been taught to swallow if anyone had attempted to teach her. If she could eat and drink without a tube, she'd still be alive. But her "quality of life" would be the same. So you want to die if your cognitive abilities are poor even if your physiological health is good (like Terri's was)? You want to die if on a resperator but not if only on a feeding tube (like the Pope is right now)? What about a pace maker? That's certainly an "artificial" mechanism for pacing the heart. Would you rather die than get one of those? I don't think many have thought this stuff through.

Third, I suspect you're just wrong. From the anecdotal info I've seen, people in these difficult states DO want to live. When Christopher Reeve was paralyzed (became a vegetable as the uninformed and insensitive say), his mother thought he should be terminated. What's the point in living like that? Fortunately for him, his wife didn't agree. As we all know, he went on to publish books, testify before Congress and have a fuller life in his wheelchair than most able bodied people have.

No, I think the folks that say life has no value without an able body simply think life has no value. Because if it does, it's certainly not about smoothly functioning physiology.

Wednesday, March 30, 2005

Pope on feeding tube

So the Pope is now on a feeding tube, like Terri Schiavo. The spin from the Old Media makes me smile. AP Headline: Pope Getting Nutrition From Tube in Nose
You've probably seen a number of stories over the years about people being put on feeding tubes. Do you recall the location of the tube being addressed, at all, before? Let alone in the headline? Of course, they do that to distance any comparisons between the Pope, who presumably has value as a human, and Terri, who apparently does not. Heaven forbid if someone might ponder, "You know, Terri's situation is not all that different from the Pope's." The story is careful to describe the Pope's nasogastric tube and contrast it with Terri's PEG tube. In a percutaneous endoscopic gastrostomy a surgical incision is made in the abdomen to permit a tube to be passed directly into the stomach. Of course, if you stay with the story long enough, it says the Pope may have a PEG. It doesn't say that Terri initially had a nasogastric tube, just like the Pope.

So, the Pope will die if caretakers don't feed him. Terri will die if caretakers don't feed her. The Pope has trouble swallowing. Terri has trouble swallowing. The Pope can't speak. Terri can't speak.

Differences - The Pope is 84 and in frail health. He probably won't live much longer regardless of the best medical care. Terri is 41 and in good health. She could probably live many years if she were not executed. And, oh yes, Terri is mentally disabled and the Pope is not. And her husband wants her dead.

Monday, March 28, 2005

Initial post

This is basically a test. I'm figuring out how this works.