Saturday, December 31, 2011

A Good Wife...

I recently had the immense pleasure of watching the HBO miniseries John Adams, starring Paul Giammati as the title character and Laura Linney as his wife Abigail Adams. Besides stellar production values and superb casting, the writers I think successfully boiled the story down to its one essential relationship, that of John Adams and his wife. Their marriage on screen is real, passionate, flawed, humorous, and always loving.

The remarks of Thomas Jefferson at a certain juncture in the movie are striking; at one point John Adams introduces his wife to Thomas Jefferson and Jefferson claims he already knows her because of all the counsel and wisdom she passes on to her husband. I think the series shows in fine detail exactly what a wife of the time, and yes, wives of all times and places, ought to be.

As the series unfolds it quickly becomes clear that Abigail is the driving force of her husband's life. She is his inspiration, his counselor, his wife, his lover, mother to his children, and his "dear friend," to borrow a line from the movie (which line, I am sure, is lifted from John's actual writings.) In the end, she is everything to him, and he realizes and rejoices in his dependence on her. The two are nearly inseperable, ironic as that is considering that they were apart for a good deal of their lives. They wrote volumes of letters to each other, the preservation of which gives us a fantastic glimpse into their real lives.

The longer I am married, the more I realize the truth of that striking relationship: that the wife is the life-force and lifeblood of her husband. She is his goad, his lifeline, his comfort, his aid, and his conscience. Without a woman, a man is very little. I marvel sometimes about the things I have accomplished that I know that I would never even have dreamed of doing had I not been married. A wife is a powerful motivation for a man to be something better than just a decent man. For a woman, a man desires to be excellent.

I may be buying a home soon, because of my wife and the family she has helped me to produce. She and my children are the reason I go to work every day, the reason I curb my tongue when I am angry at my boss some days so that I can keep my job, the reason I work to maintain a decent budget and working vehicles and adequate shelter and food. Without my wife, I would feel little need to be excellent; with her around, it's not only a burning desire, it is quite literally a requirement.

It is not Valentine's Day today, my wedding anniversary, or any other particularly special day other than the New Year's weekend. And yet I feel the urgent need to put out a thank you to my wife. With her at the home, I can feel comfortable going anywhere I need to without fear. Her being there is enough reassurance to me that all is well. She is my motivation, my moral compass, my lover, and my best friend. I never had a word of deliberate discouragement from her in my life, nor am I ever likely to. I can only claim the achievement of having chosen my woman well. She has done the rest.

To my wife, I can only really say I love you. You are my soul.

And to all other good wives out there, God bless you. The world would fail to turn properly without you. Don't stop being the good that you are.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

The Truth and Its Shadow

There is a funny line in the film The Trouble with Angels, where the generous donor of band uniforms to a Catholic girl's school is scolded by the mother superior for the immodesty of the uniforms' cut. The mother superior proclaims indignantly that she runs a Catholic school, to which the donor replies without even blinking, "Band uniforms are non-sectarian."

Besides the belly laugh I got out of the line, it actually got me to thinking. The word "Catholic" really only means one thing: universal. In its application to the Catholic Church, the word encompasses the universality of both its message, its scope, and most importantly, its truth.

The humor of the line for me comes from the oxymoron of the Catholic Church being a sect. A sect would suggest a splinter group, an organization possessing a certain truth, rather than all of the truth. A sect requires comparison to some other thing for its identity. The Catholic Church has no such need.

But I will let someone far more eloquent than I expound further on this topic, mainly because he has captured precisely what I have always thought but could never verbalize. This article is extraordinarily moving in its beautiful defense of the truth and in what way the truth must be understood.

Monday, December 26, 2011


Almost ten days ago now I had to go to the emergency room for severe and painful ringing in my ears, and I was diagnosed with an inner ear infection in both ears. Bleh. Anyhow, I have practically never gotten an ear infection and was unaware that it renders the infected ear almost totally unable to hear. Put an infection in both ears, and voila! you have almost instant, pretty severe deafness.

I recount this story not for pity's sake, as I am almost all the way recovered as I write this, but more to pass along an intriguing perspective I gained from the past week and a half. I had heard of people who would put themselves in the shoes of deaf people for a day by putting hearing protection on and then trying to interact with the world. I could never participate in such an exercise mainly for reasons of practicality. However, I finally had the experience forced upon me without my consent, and the result was as intriguing as it was terrifying.

The first thing I recall feeling was a sort of desperation. I wasn't supposed to lose my hearing, that happened to other people. Not me. Also, the onset of the deafness was so swift that it left me in a panic. I literally couldn't hear much of anything, including the doctor asking me what was wrong.

As the week wore on, it became clear that the deafness was going to be a pretty standard fixture of the next week or so. The panic and desperation distilled slowly down to a kind of resigned calm, where I and the pain in my ears lived in a weird sort of coexistence that did not feel real.

And that's when it finally hit me: the sense of isolation. People who tried to talk to me eventually would get frustrated that I had to ask them to repeat things over and over again. I couldn't hear movies playing, could barely hear my wife in the car, and couldn't hear my alarm clock in the morning. My temporary disability was, not to put too fine a point on it, absolutely debilitating.

I finally had that experience I hear people with various disabilities speak of sometimes, the experience of being crushingly lonely. It is hard to express that feeling, but it is real. I gained a new sense of what an old person in a nursing home must feel like, half-deaf and unable to interact properly with others. I felt that loneliness first hand, and it was not good.

Of course, I have people that love me who wouldn't abandon me in that sort of situation. I have a fantastic wife who made everything run smoothly while I was laid up. I have great parents who pleasantly put up with my need for repeated questions and comments. I am surrounded by love.

But the truth remains that many other people are not surrounded by love. They are abandoned and hopeless, many times for things beyond their control. Knowing a tiny slice of that loneliness and separation makes it not only encumbent upon me to be more aware of those people myself, but to get others to pay attention to them as well. I believe it was Mother Teresa who said that the greatest plague of modern man is loneliness. She would know. It was her job to fix it. So should it be ours.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Merry Christmas

Enough with the politically correct drivel of "Happy Holidays," Seasons Greetings," and all the other sickeningly unspecific mundanities. There is only one reason we have lit-up trees in our living rooms, presents underneath it waiting to be opened, and feasts on our tables this time of the year, and it is not to celebate togetherness, niceness, or the winter solstice. We are having a birthday party, for the most famous man ever born on this earth, a man who was more than a man, a child who was more than a child. Whether you like it or not, the birth of Jesus Christ, the Son of God, is the reason that we celebrate on the 25th of December.
Have a Merry Christmas, all of my readers, and don't be afraid of the reason that we celebrate. God bless you all!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Out For Blood

I remember back when Osama Bin Laden was killed in his compound during the now-famous SEAL Team Six raid, I was sitting at work doing whatever I was doing, with my headphones on listening to the local news and talk station on the radio. I believe it was Sean Hannity's show I had been listening to (which I shall do no more except to get the gist of the conservative mood on a certain subject, as Hannity's particularly rabid version of conservative arm flailing grates most obnoxiously on my nerves.) But putting his irritating and ADHD tendencies aside for a moment, I wish to draw out a particularly egregious statement he made that week concerning the government's release of pictures of the raid.

Now, normally, if the government is going to make an extraordinary claim like the fact that they have killed World Terrorist Number One, I would be the first to say "prove it." The government makes very little attempt these days to prove anything, especially its own capacity to govern, so maybe this cynicism is justified. And in this vein, or so I thought at first, Hannity demanded that the pictures of the raid be shown to the public. But he did not really desire proof of anything. On the contrary, he was highly praiseworthy of the SEAL team's efforts and applauded their actions even without the proof. I will try to quote his exact words as to why the pictures should be shown, because the American people "deserved to see that bastard with a bullet in his brain."

Wow. The man was literally bouncing in his recording booth seat with glee at the fact that another human being had been shot to death through the head. And this same man claims to be a Catholic.

This scenario basically repeated itself in the conservative talk show world this past weekend with the death of Kim Jong Il, although without the same driving intensity of the Bin Laden raid. The lack of charity shown was astounding, from talk show hosts and callers. These are people that are supposed to be middle of the road Americans, working class Christians, middle class Evangelicals, Catholics, Protestants, Jews, and atheists who show some kind of moral character. And I can't say that they were all out for blood, but many of them were.

One of the most fundamental things I learned from good Catholic parents when I was a child was that no matter the cost, embarassment, ridicule, or hatred I received, I was required to love my enemies. That does not mean I am not allowed to fight enemies (the Church has the best developed theory on the conduct of a just war than any other institution on earth), but I am still called upon to love the enemies I may be called upon by my country to destroy. One of the greatest parts of this love is to pray for the salvation of the souls of all men, especially publicly evil men. At the death of Osama Bin Laden I did not joke about him finally meeting his seventy-seven virgins, I prayed for God's abundant mercy on his soul. At the death of Kim Jong Il I prayed that his soul might rest in peace because that is what a Catholic does.

A Catholic, a Christian, never revels in another man's death. Vengeance is God's and He shall repay. What we should pray for is that God's merciful will be done in that dead man's case. God does not consider a sinner in hell a triumph; rather, a soul in hell has rejected his Maker and must suffer the consequences. On the other hand, a soul that turns to God at the last moment is a victory more momentous than any other in heaven and on earth, and God rejoices in that soul even more than that soul rejoices in God's grace. In either case, however, God stands as eternal and all-knowing judge, and only He is to say who is in hell and who is not (not you, Senator John McCain.) It is not only not our job, it is entirely outside our realm of knowledge and experience. For us to rejoice that the bastard is finally gone and that God may send him to live with the likes of Hitler and Stalin is to act like a freshman at college, a state of life in which we are ignorant of how little we know and therefore revel in how stupid we are.

It is only fallen human nature to desire vengeance instead of justice, and only logical to desire justice without mercy. And yet God astoundingly does neither; maybe that is part of His unfathomability. He never does what we would do and that frustrates us. And yet when we do His will, we are mysteriously more at peace with ourselves. Far be it from usas His followers, then, to be less magnanimous than God.

I write this with some anger and frustration, not at Kim Jong Il or any publicly evil person in general, but directed at a single comment of a friend of mine. I had made the comment that I wished Kim Jong Il to rest in peace, and that God might have mercy on his soul. This friend (a Catholic) could not agree to my desire that Kim Jong Il should rest in peace, and to this day I do not know why. If it is because of listening to people like Sean Hannity and Rush Limbaugh, turn them off. Now. They have been less than Christian numerous times before, and they deserve to lose listenership every time they spout uncharity and untruth. If that is where the vindictiveness comes from, cut them off for the safety of your own soul. Please.

Mahatma Gandhi famously said once: "I like your Christ. I do not like your Christians. They are so unlike your Christ." A "Christian" nation that is out for the blood of tyrants is no Christian nation at all. Be aware of revenge and hatred and root them out. They do nobody any good.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

To Russia, With Love

An Open Letter to Russia, Its People, and Its Leaders:

This past week I was able to observe the Russian parliamentary elections via the various news networks. And I have to say, the results were disgustingly predictable. The ruling party once again stayed put in power, amidst widespread reports of election rigging and fraud. The authorities have vowed to bring those responsible to justice and have so far done little to nothing, claiming that even with election fraud factored in, the ruling party still wins.

It would seem that 70 years of totalitarian oppression and the systemic bureaucratic corruption it bred do not fade easily. While the Soviet Union may have crumbled over fifteen years ago, the corruption has remained but under a different guise.

I live in a country where you hear of local election fraud only once in a while, where political dissidents do not disappear in the middle of the night, and where I am free to write and report pretty much anything I want. I will not pretend to know how frustrating and frightening it can be to live under a system that cares so little for its people.

It has therefore been to my great satisfaction to witness the courage of the people of Russia in standing up to a rotting tyranny, finally throwing up their hands and saying that they have had enough. If ever there was a people that has had enough, it must be the Russians. Utilizing all the modern tools at their disposal (social media, mobile electronics, etc.) they have become a powerful determining force in reshaping their nation hopefully for the better.

My prayer is that the Russian people will first and foremost show restraint. Your anger with your government is great and widespread, and yet it must not become violence. To become violent in protest against your government would only be to mimic the very thing you wish to change.

My next prayer is that you, the people, will understand that proper representation in government does not solve all ills, although it is an excellent place to start. Freedom is not only freedom from, but freedom for. Your society must be moving towards something, some end, and its end will greatly determine its means. Choose your goals wisely.

My third and final prayer is for the Russian leadership. Not only is violence against your own people, a people that are begging for justice, not advisable, it will never work. You must recognize not only when you have the opportunity to do good in power, but also when your time has come to leave. The needs and the wants of your people are powerful things to reckon with, and every day spent thwarting them is a day spent digging your own grave deeper. Engage with your people. Or leave.

My country and the Russian nation have of course long been at odds; I hope the day comes in my lifetime when that is no longer the case. You, the Russian people, are a beautiful and industrious people; your land is expansive and rich in abundant natural resources. Your culture is ancient and fascinating, your buildings and cities even more so.

Continue to strive for the freedom to be good, to be honest, to be prosperous, and to be generous. And to those who would stand in the way of those goals for their own personal gain, beware. You will not come to any good trying.

Be aware, Russia. And God bless you.

Monday, December 12, 2011

No Fun

I don't usually post two of someone else's writing in a row here, but I found this intriguing enough to pass on. It is an invigoratingly fresh take on the problem of moral relativism. I hope you all enjoy this article from

Saturday, December 10, 2011

The 99%

I am not sure if I ever posted this article or not, but it makes some intriguing points worth considering. I felt it my duty of sorts to put something else up about the Occupy Wall Street movement, considering they have become such a... fixture. Whether you are annoyed at them or otherwise, this article is a good read.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

December 7th

I ask that anyone reading this will remember what happened at Pearl Harbor 70 years ago today. I ask that you pray for the souls of all the men who died that day, both American and Japanese, and that you pray for peace in the world. There are already too many wars; let us remember to never provoke other nations to violence, and yet at the same time let us never hesitate to defend our country in time of need.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Your One Stop Shop!

I recently had an interesting conversation with my dad about the tanking economy and the government's recent rash of bailouts to corporations. We noted that economic growth, which is largely driven by home building and home sales, would never speed up if the government continues to subsidize and incentivize new home construction. There is no bottom to a market that is continually propped up by tax payer monies.

However, an even bigger thought occurred to me at the time.

The government has a proper role in relation to the marketplace. One part of that proper role is the provision of legal protection to those business entities whose days are numbered and who wish to enter into a state of bankruptcy, where they might portion out their dues without threat of legal action. This is an admirable function of government. It is just another branch of the defend and protect part of government.

Now consider the actions of those who approve governmental funds being applied to help companies to regain their footing. Now we are in much less savory territory. A government check always has strings attached, just like most private money. However, these strings are much more difficult to justify or define properly, because the money being used is money taken by taxation from people who the government is supposed to protect and serve. A conflict of interest immediately emerges because of the need to define who "deserves" government money.

When these two things are combined (i.e. bailouts and bankruptcy protection), a perfect storm of corruption immediately emerges. Now the government not only decides which companies should receive a check of tax payer money, but also how a company filing for legal protection of bankruptcy should be approached. GM is a prime example of this. The unions walked away with a killing while GM's secured creditors suffered. Solyndra is another great example, a failing energy company that raked in half a billion in government handouts.

We are well on our way down a slippery slope when we allow our government to not only pick the economic winners, but then also to manage their decline when they become no longer viable. The only reason for the existence of this sort of arrangement is corruption and power-hunger.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

A Different Perspective

I recently came across a truly intriguing article concerning the ever politically and religiously sticky topic of homosexuality. I will say very little here, and let you just read and tell me what you think. I personally found it quite powerful.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Warm Fuzzies

This country is suffering from an emotional meltdown.

In the age of Dancing with the Stars, American Idol, opinion polls on news outlet websites and reality courtroom TV shows, emotion has become king. It seems the question any reporter nowadays asks at the very start of any interview is, “How did this make you feel?” Televangelists manipulate congregations and viewers, cracking their voices with emotion at just the right moment to bring the donations crashing in. Anchors like Jane Velez Mitchell and Nancy Grace manage to insinuate in their broadcasts that the beauty and age of a victim of violent crime contribute to the heinous nature of said crime (i.e. the more beautiful the victim and/or the younger they are, the more evil the murder.) An acquaintance of mine saw George Stephanopolous on the news one day, and commented that she liked his reporting because he was “such a nice-looking man.” Also, splattered all over the news are stories of Herman Cain and Michael Jackson's doctor: the former deals with the court of public opinion convicting as guilty a presidential candidate without very solid evidence but only on a gut emotion of distaste; the latter deals with a real courtroom case that has been sullied by calls for a guilty verdict by Jackson fans and supporters, who are quite ready to punish Dr. Conrad Murray regardless of whether he killed the singer or not.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Opinion Vs. Truth

Rush Limbaugh
In my rather short experience regarding talk radio, be it conservative or liberal, I have detected an overarching trend that all talk shows on the radio dial exhibit, It is not that these shows all spew lies and deceit for the entirety of their running time. Few of them do that. On the contrary, many of these shows utilize the same news stories, talk about the same subjects, cite the same facts and figures, and generally agree on the facts of the latest headlines. However, it is here that the truth in many respects ends. Listeners are not listening to talk radio to hear the facts; they are listenng to hear the host's interpretation of the facts.

How trustworthy are these interpretations? It depends. The modern political talk show world is plagued with agendas, left and right. Glenn Beck would have you believe that the world will end with Barack Obama's second term and that George Soros controls everything on the left. Neal Boortz would have you believe that killing a child is a womn's personal decision and a right to be protected. And finally, the "doctor of democracy," the god of the radio talk show universe Rush Limbaugh, would have you believe that any education that does not directly tie into "job training" of one sort or another is a monumentally idiotic waste of time and money.

The other hosts' contentions put aside, Rush Limbaugh's assertion regarding education, particularly the liberal arts, strikes a powerfully sour note with me. If you will recall, in my Thanksgiving post I gave thanks for a fantastic liberal arts education that has gotten me several of the jobs that I have held in my lifetime. I hold a B.A. in English Literature and it was worth every penny. But I would rather give Martin Cothran the intellectual floor here and point you all to an excellent article he wrote published to Memoria Press's web site. He does a fantastic job of disassembling Limbaugh's senseless rant against a liberal arts education. It is worth the read.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

My Apologies

I apologize for the lack of posting here over the past couple days. My grandfather, a wonderful gentlemanly man of 74 years, just died the Saturday after Thanksgiving. I have been down south visiting with him and the rest of my extended family and have simply not had the chance to put coherent hands to the keyboard in the interim.

There will be new stuff here going forward, since this blip looks to be pretty much over. Again, my apologies.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

An Un-Traditionally Traditional Thanksgiving

Last year, my wife and I decided that our Thanksgivings had become far too much about the food and the place settings and everything looking and feeling just right. The striving for a “traditional” Thanksgiving day itinerary was overwhelming the true purpose of the day. It ended up too many times with one woman doing all the cooking and with everyone else hanging out and enjoying themselves. The stress potential for that one woman was amazingly high.

So, instead of my wife cooking everything and decorating a table and everyone sitting down all at once to eat, we made the whole day a “life appreciation” day. That meant that we both cooked, tasted, ate in undefined “courses”, laughed, went out later to shop and have fun, and overall just reveled in being together and the fact that we had money to put such food into our bellies.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Video Promo!

We have a new video promo! It's a little fun, a little cheesy, a little simple, and just about right.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

The Politics of Non-Accountability

An interesting take on the issue of torture from Andrew Cohen in this article here from The Atlantic. His immediate jump to blaming Obama for the problem may be a stretch and a half, but the rest of the argument makes a whole lot of sense. The main issue anyways is accountability, of which there is way too little of these days in the likes of Washington D.C.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

America's Last Just War

U.S.S. West Virginia burns after the attack on Pearl Harbor.
My DVD shelf at home exhibits a wide variety of topics and genres, from romantic comedy to thrillers, and yet if you were to canvass the content of said DVD shelf with respect to how much money was spent on each genre, the war genre would most definitely top the list.

The genre of World War II movies, to be precise.

No, it's not because I'm a sucker for blood and gore (although war and war movies tend to produce prodigious amounts of both), nor is it because I need a patriotic rush every now and then (which seems to be the reason behind the making of Captain America.) I own war movies of that kind both for the stories of greatness and tragedy that they contain, but also to remind myself who we are and why we fight wars, and which ones to not fight.

But thinking on my buying habits concerning movies focusing on World War II, I think I stumbled on something interesting. It seems that my fascination for this particular war is hardly unique. In fact, it exists and persists almost universally in (male) America today. The evidence for this is everywhere, from Stephen Ambrose's many books on the topic, to the endless number of video games that depict various battles of World War II. I live not 30 miles from one of the most beautiful World War II monuments ever built, the D-Day Memorial in Bedford, VA. It is a relatively new construction of staggering emotional complexity and artistry, dedicated shortly after Saving Private Ryan, a film about the D-Day invasion, hit theaters. Saving Private Ryan was quickly followed by a string of World War II films, notable among them being Band of Brothers and The Pacific, as well as Pearl Harbor.

Why the mystique? What makes World War II so especially memorable? A comparable number of soldiers died in battle in World War I, and yet many Americans hardly know the events of the war that set the stage for World War II. Why is that?

I offer here my humble opinion on the subject: I put forward for consideration the idea that World War II is the war of choice for study and dramatization because it holds little to no controversial value in terms of the justice of the Allied cause. In fact, I will go as far as to say that World War II could very well have been America's last great morally justified war.

Consider it for a second: on America's side there was no preemptive strike of any kind, nor did we actively push for war with either Japan or Germany. Those are two very important factors, especially for the perception of a war in hindsight. It takes the greater part of the onus of explanation and justification off the United States.

To bolster that fact even further, let us first look at the Japanese side of the conflict: we were brutally attacked at Pearl harbor with little warning from Japanese leadership, with whom we were in peace negotiations with at the time. In other words, Japan was saying one thing and planning and doing something quite different, attempting to hold us up in peace talks while the Imperial Navy knocked out any and all of America's ability to wage war at sea. The attack on Pearl Harbor thus became a morally ironclad reason to go to war, perceived as such at the time and ever after as well.

The other side of the equation, Nazi Germany, was a somewhat different affair but the ending was the same. Instead of attacking us, however, Adolf Hitler took the next most self-destructive action and simply formally declared war on the United States. Our case would have been a little harder to make otherwise.

Then of course there remains the indisputable evil of Nazism and the horror of the “Final Solution.” Most sane people cannot harbor any remorse they may have had for Hitler's dashed dreams when they see pictures of Dachau and Auschwitz. The skinny limbs and hollow faces of Jewish corpses evoke too strong of a reaction to be forgotten that easily. It was then and remains to this day an evil worth fighting to destroy. In a similar vein, the horror of Japanese occupation and treatment of prisoners lends a powerful moral argument to the righteousness of America's cause.

The fact is that no one seems to look back at World War II and declaim against the involvement of the United States in the conflict. We more look back for a fresh perspective on the war and how it was fought, not necessarily why it was fought. The reason why we fought is culturally accepted in the United States as good.

I think we are in a healthier place now in our view of the Second World War than we were immediately following it. The films of the late forties and fifties generally depict the war as all guts and glory on the Allied side, death as a noble and bloodless thing, and the American fighting man as close to a demigod in the rightness of his cause. We know a bit better now, as the film Saving Private Ryan suggests with its horrifically real portrayal of the assault on Normandy beach. Heroism was involved, yes. However, we now can accept the soldiers who fought in the war as human beings with courage and cowardice.

All in all, it makes a compelling case for the continued fascination with the last epic global conflict. Never again, it seems, would we live in a world that was so patently divided into good and evil and in which the good fought the evil the old-fashioned way.

Our modern world of the 21st century being so muddied up in its morals, alliances, and pursuits, maybe having such a war to reflect back on does our nation some good.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Sometimes It Just Happens

The title pretty much says it all. My favorite is Bill Clinton alternating between falling asleep and nodding intelligently. The guy who put this together really should tack Rick Perry's "oops" moment on the end. Enjoy!

Friday, November 11, 2011

A Word of Warning to Mr. Andy Dean

This past Tuesday, conservative radio talk show personality Andy Dean spoke at length about the new report concerning Iran and its nuclear program. Okay, “spoke” may not be quite the word I am looking for to describe what he did. “Rant” would be closer to the truth.

Mr. Dean ranted at length about the freshly gleaned information that supposedly proved Iran's intent and designs for acquiring nuclear weapons. He spoke of how dangerous nuclear weapons would be in the hands of a maniac like Ahmadinejad, who they were likely to be used against, the growing threat of nuclear proliferation, and the need for a military strike against Iran before those weapons are used. On the last point he was particularly adamant: Iran must be hit by somebody's bombs, either ours or Israel's, and it must be hit soon before it is too late. This is on top of his insistence on our continuation of military action in Iraq and Afghanistan, and the expansion of the global “war on terror.”


Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Good Olde Alternative Energy

Both my father and I are in the business of manufacturing electronics, and it gives one quite a different perspective on the problems facing manufacturers and factories than those people who know nothing of the process. Especially when those problems involve the government coming in with a loan to invest in an alternative energy company. Conservative talk show hosts can shout about the government picking winners and losers and loss of economic freedom all they want, but I don't think in the end that is really where the most interesting and fatal issues lie. The real problems begin with the actual manufacturing process involved, the philosophy of how these new alternative energy systems will be utilized, and the expectations placed on them.

Here is an excellent article explaining all of these issues in reference to the ongoing debacle of energy company Solyndra, and which argument against the Department of Energy loan is the truest one.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Moving Forward...Towards Something!

Conservatives confuse me.

I don't say that in a thoughtless or sarcastic sort of way. They genuinely confuse me sometimes. I hear plenty of talk coming from the conservative radio/blogosphere side of the political argument about Obama, how horrible he is, how bad the economy is, how it's all his fault, how government is over-regulating business, and how we are losing our freedoms one by one.

And they always end with the same argument: that liberals are keeping the country from “moving forward.” In fact, one of the slogans of the Fox Business Network is, you guessed it, “Moving Forward.” The president and his administration need to get out of the way of the American people, in order to allow them to “move forward.”

I have one question: what IS forward? Which way is forward, and where will it take us to? I would assume that when one moves forward, one is moving towards something, a goal of some sort. In the end, in my opinion, “moving forward” may sound nice, but it barely means anything at all on closer inspection. And it seems no prominent conservative cares to explain what it means. 

Thursday, November 3, 2011

A Few Words Concerning Executive Decision Making...

Jason Lewis - Picture by Genesis Communications Network.
License Info here.

I was intrigued and ultimately floored when I read the news about Al-Awlaki and the circumstances of his killing by a U.S. unmanned drone strike. There was a distaste I had for the operation that I vaguely understood but needed complete clarity on, so naturally I went in search of wiser minds to help explain. This article here is a piece written by political author and talk show host Jason Lewis, one of the most balanced minds in the talk show business and the calmest articulator of the limited government argument I have heard so far.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

War and (No) Peace

Protest against Qaddafi -Photo by William Murphy
License Info here.
On October 20th 2011, the hunt for one of the world's more brutal and stubborn dictators came to an abrupt end when U.S. and French airpower stopped Moammar Qaddafi's convoy, allowing Libyan rebels to capture and kill their former ruler. Qaddafi was brutally beaten and manhandled, and finally shot numerous times before he died, defiant to the end. On the same day, President Barack Obama delivered a speech to the American people, beginning by extolling the new opportunity in Libya for free and democratic self-determination and ending by invoking the memory of Americans lost to the Qaddafi regime and the hope of a bright future for the Libyan nation.

I can't help feeling oddly left out by all sides. I consider myself obliged to ask what should be the glaringly obvious question: why were we ever involved in the Libyan civil war in the first place?
We have been currently fighting in Iraq for eight years now. The war in Afghanistan is two years older than that. We have spent billions of dollars on both wars in fighting, training, equipping, and rebuilding. Our losses total over four thousand, and that's not counting the physical and mental damage of the wounded. As if that wasn't enough, as a nation we are deeply in debt to just about everyone with no end to the printing of money in sight. We have no money to spend on extra things. Our political and social problems at home also remain unresolved, with youth taking to the streets in cities across the nation, a divided congress that has not passed a real budget in a frighteningly long time, and a jobs crisis that simply refuses to disappear.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Another Brilliant Analysis by Ms. Peggy Noonan

Peggy Noonan is a proverbial breath of fresh air when it comes to discussions of politics and policies. Her insight into the problems facing our country and the divisions caused by both government and the private sector is penetrating and complex. She realizes that there is no simple "the other side is evil and uncooperative" fix-all argument for the situation at hand.

I will let her say it in her own words in an article she wrote for the Wall Street Journal.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Future + Children

It must be one of the more well-worn cliches that our children "are the future." This would seem self-evident, as without children our race would die out. Without children, there is no one to appreciate or keep alive the legacy of the parents. Without children, there are no new human eyes that still behold creation with wonder and delight and teach their parents to marvel again. And yet, as self-evident as this truth would seem to be, we as a society are shockingly negligent of "the future."

Monday, October 24, 2011

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Rest in Peace, Dan Wheldon

A bit of a departure from my usual content, but I thought this was worth noting.

So far as I know, the funeral for IndyCar driver Dan Wheldon is today, Saturday October 22. British champion Dan Wheldon was killed in a 15-car pileup in IndyCar's season finale race when his car flew through the air and smashed into the outer fence of the track.

May he rest in peace, and may his family find comfort and solace in the months ahead.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

The Schizophrenic Man

If you know anything about history you know that, besides just the drastic change in fashion statements and political structures, our world looks vastly different than the world of the early 1700's. “Lawn” was not a word used frequently, if at all, in the lexicon of middle to lower class families anywhere in Europe, America, or Asia, at least not to refer to their own land. The soil was something that produced edibles, like fruit and vegetables, or grass that was grown as food for the family cow. A cellar dug into the soil also provided a place to protect food for the summer and winter time. Trees provided shade against blistering sunlight when being indoors proved unbearable. Life, although highly imperfect, was an organic whole.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

And the Violence Begins...

As I said in my earlier article about the Occupy Wall Street protest, they were only a few steps away from becoming a violent mob. Ambiguity of purpose has led to a global movement that is only too easy to coopt for one's own agenda.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

The Fashionable Despair

Flannery O'Connor once wrote in her own penetrating way that, “At its best our age is an age of searchers and discoverers, and at its worst, an age that has domesticated despair and learned to live with it happily.”* She was writing in the middle third of the twentieth century when this observation was made, before the extensive outlets of media that are available today even existed or had come to maturity. The world was not the globally connected place then that it is now; there was no mobile internet (no internet at all, actually), no streaming video, no up-to-the-minute news. Only radio and, later on, television. And yet how true her words still ring, even more so now. We have the power of fantastic technology at our fingertips (created by 'searchers and discoverers'), and yet in spite of all of those things we are possibly even more despairing than Miss O'Connor's generation. 

Friday, October 14, 2011

Alec Baldwin and the Children

Alec Baldwin rubs me the wrong way. He just does. Sure, he can be kinda funny sometimes (the movie Elizabethtown comes to mind), but he is to me like petting a cat the wrong way (the cat being me, of course.) So I naively thought that I could escape the man by simply not watching any movies or shows he is in. I was wrong.

Random Cute Non-Obese Child
I was listening to some radio program recently on my local station, and the commercial break came up. And lo and behold, a PSA came on starring (you guessed it) my favorite star. His Baldwinian gravelly opening words were something like, "Like any parent, I worry about the health of our nation's children." He went on to talk about obesity rates among children and eating healthy, and ended by plugging whatever foundation was sponsoring him.

Once the mind-numbing effect of the PSA wore off (they all seem to be mind-numbing, regardless of their content), I was left with an oddly uneasy feeling. What was wrong?

And We are Here to Protest What We are Here to Protest!

I recently saw a sign from the ongoing "Occupy Wall Street" campaign that got my attention and provoked a bit of a laugh. I don't recall the precise wording, but the gist was very clearly this: "Wall Street is responsible for all poverty in the world."

I had to chuckle ironically as I read it, and also had to chuckle with a steadily lessening enthusiasm as I read more and more of the material coming from the Occupy Wall Street movement. There were dozens and hundreds more signs, facebook comments and Tweets with similar slogans, their spelling ranging from fair to incompetent, and with growing dubiousness as to the truth of their content. The first sign mentioned here was clearly an unresearched statement at best, as there are many other demonstrable causes of poverty in the world such as war, confiscatory governments as in the case of China and the former Soviet Union, and other causes having nothing to do with Wall Street. However, not only was some of the other content on this issue even more assinine in its name-calling and wild accusations, it also demonstrated a disturbing muddle of reasons for why these people were even protesting in the first place.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Welcome. And Be Aware.

It has taken me approximately a year and a half for this project to gestate in my tangled mind, but now it seems that the spigots of the brain have gotten leaky and the project has begun to ooze out more or less on its own. I have a somewhat dull day job and it leaves plenty of time for solitary thought and deep reflection on issues and problems that are important to me. I like to think thoughts about politics, about religion, about society. I like to reflect on wealth and poverty and what they mean, and I like to contemplate the reaction of different people to all of the aforementioned things.

All of these things I find fascinating. What frustrates my enthusiasm (or whets it sometimes, maybe?) is the lack of coherent thought concerning the issues of the day. Pontificating news anchors and posturing politicians, televangelists and talk show hosts; they are all guilty of muddying the proverbial waters at one point or another in their careers. The muddying has never helped before, and it helps even less especially now with a precariously balanced country, a tanking economy, and a youth run amuck.

We are a society that came from somewhere and is going to somewhere; in short, we are a social continuum. Let us have a conversation about who we are, where we are trying to go, and how we plan on getting there, and let us have that conversation in a setting that encourages real thought processes rather than wild conjecture and name calling. I love a heated argument, but not an unreasonable one!

Let us be intellectually honest with ourselves. An argument that is born in well-founded reasoning and ends in a well-reasoned conclusion is a true argument, and truth demands acceptance. So welcome, and Be Aware!