Tuesday, May 31, 2005
This and That
The French EU Vote
The EU concept has unravelled another step. In other posts, I have wondered whether the EU could really pull together the nations of Europe, with their diversity, pride, cultures, vastly different economies, and outlooks on politics. A common theme, however, is socialism, and this non vote was supported by those who thought the EU constitution was not Left enough. The Dutch seem to be against the constitution also, and we will hear from them tomorrow. If they vote nay, it will be far harder to pull off the EU as a legitimate government. With the UK now wavering, the whole idea is in jeopardy. I do not think this is necessarily good for the US, but I will wait for some of the informed commentators out there to report.
The idea that collectivism and levelling of people's status and income more to an acceptable average across the board, except for the elite few who run the show, is simply not my cup of tea. Then too, this puts industry into a bind in that they must pay for it to a large degree, with benefits galore for their workers, and much lower profit margins. Adding higher taxes, and more generous government benefits to the pot means eventual deficits that can't be coped with. I paid over 62% of my salary in taxes when I lived in Holland.
At the same time, there were 100,000 guest-workers on the dole at 70% of their last pay, out of the 200,000 in the country then. It is much worse now, and practically all of the guest workers were Muslim, hence the strife there recently. It is no wonder that big industry is branching out and developing plants worldwide where they can get a tax break. This in turn hurts the home country, by providing fewer jobs. If the big guys, such as Philips, decide they cannot make sufficient profits in the home country, there is little to prevent them from moving out to another country where they can make a profit. The experiment in socialism will last quite a while, but the quality of life will gradually decay, and the ecomomies will falter sooner or later. There is simply no such thing as a free lunch!
The Nuclear Option
I have been in favor of the constitutional option. I still am in favor of it. Perhaps we must wait a bit for the Democrats to show their lack of trustworthiness once again, before it will be enacted by the Republicans. Meanwhile, I will take what was given -- three conservative judges. Look for it to be enacted when the next appointment to the Supreme Court comes up.
Friday, May 27, 2005
Treason and Sedition
That is quite enough from warblogging.com
Having learned a few things about this warblogging site, I believe it is time to pull stakes and ignore them. If anyone does go there, be prepared for seditious posts and rants. They should be checked out from time to time, however, just gage the tenor of their rants against the country.
Wednesday, May 25, 2005
My Opinion on Warblogging
Here are a few thoughts about this site from my perspective. Bear with me while I lay it out, please.
The form of the discussions is currently centered around a lead journal post, followed by comments that may stay on topic or not. The selection of these Journals is either from “card-carrying warbloggers” or from those who have the right to post granted them, presumably by George Paine.
The tenor of the stream of selections to me appears to be mainly driven by finding in the ocean of web articles out there just those that support the “what else is wrong with the hated Bush and Co.” or what is bad in or about the current US frame of reference. Sometimes the tenor is directly this, and sometimes it is indirect, but apparent, nevertheless. Thus, there is established a framework to begin with that is heavily slanted in one direction. The continuity of this slant is supported by most of the old-guard posters in warblogging. Entering into such a slanted world is not helped by the second aspect either.
The second aspect: any newcomer would spend quite a long time reading the posts of WB before attempting to formulate as accurately as possible the affiliations, worldviews, belief systems, and country of origin of the posters. There is no objective reference to these aspects of the selected Journalists on site. Clarifying where one is coming from, up front, would be a valuable assist to commenters, if one is really contemplating attracting people with differing points of view.
It is well established to me that another aspect of not having a working point of view first is that of mistaking and misidentifying an individual’s relatively unique assembly of tenets with those of an entire wing on the political spectrum, which is far too broad a categorization to distinguish the actual nuances of beliefs. I suppose that is the same for religious, philosophical, sociological, and even psychological beliefs too.
If attracting differing world views isn’t your purpose here, then your intent to have a rather closed and slanted, more or less Progressive society of posters (i.e. Rightists Unwelcome!) should be stated on the site, and registration should be installed to keep out the dissenters. Some of the members believe in that, I think.
A third point: I also think that Warblogging itself should have a “mission statement,” a manifesto (!), and terms of debate and discussion that are clearly understood -- and enforced -- which is rather problematic at best, as the site deals with issues that arouse strong passions and antipathies – often as a visceral reaction to some trigger phrase or another. Such a statement of purpose isn’t needed for long-time members, of course, that purpose having been established between the members historically. But for the newcomer, particularly the dissenter, it would provide much needed focus.
A third matter that must be broached is that of “scholarship” and perfect presentation and typing. For the moment I will divide scholarship into three parts: fact-finding; analysis of facts and related opinions; and a statement of opinion or conclusion, with references as needed. If this is the requisite form for posting in WB, then that should be a part of the mission statement. It is often rather burdensome to perform the necessary background research, or to have it at hand on line, in a ready form. Many examples come to mind. However, if that is the requirement, so be it. My feeling is that opinions are worthwhile to read if they can be substantiated eventually, if not immediately, or can be closely related to a system of thought that is well-established.
Punctuation and spelling accuracy is desirable, but if you demand nothing but perfection here, and carp on every misplaced comma or misspelled word, it most certainly detracts from the flow and the comity in posting. (I have read what Idzg, MK and others have posted about respect and comity, and agree with them.)
Finally, I am far more interested in topics per se than in daily news reports. Topics such as: whither secular humanism, Darwinism versus ID, the “Laws of Nations” versus “International Law”, why have judicial activism?, what is the threat of Theism? etc. etc. These would be tremendous learning exercises for everyone, unless, of course, these issues have been decided here already, and there is nothing more to say about them.
Monday, May 23, 2005
Authority for Statements
On the Right to an Opinion
I have witnessed many times the tactic of insisting on highly specific authority for statements made in blogs. This can be a very appropriate challenge if the statement made is radical and out of the ordinary. Claiming that the moon is made of green cheese is a simple example. Or that the universe was created 9,000 years ago by God. It is a question of common knowledge, and accepted scientific facts, where to produce unimpeachable references in short order for the statement or its challenge might be difficult. Google helps, of course, and so does Lexus-Nexus, but I ask why is it really necessary?
My opinions are formed through intensive reading, analysis and synthesis and I own them fully.
To trace back to the origins of them could take quite a lot of time, which I consider to be a waste. For example, why do I believe in God? A completely referenced article to establish this would take me days to assemble, when I could as well say something like : that is my Faith. End of Story. Similarly, why am I a conservative? Again, many pages later it would boil down to simply: it seems right for me, since its principles fit my preconceptions very well, and other political belief systems don't.
But, one might say, if you state a fact that is unsupported anywhere, what then? Take the question given earlier that "the universe was created 9,000 years ago." You can find references in Google to that fact if you care to, but then comes the second level of challenge to it, namely what is the scientific basis for such a belief? Here we are on solid ground. A number has been stated.
Now you search for such things as the Big Bang Theory, and other cosmological sources for the latest scientific evidence of how long the Universe has been in existence. Back comes the very hedged answer that some astrophysicists believe the Big Bang happened in the range of 13.7 billion years ago plus or minus .2 billion years, based on their observations and opinions as to the validity of their interpretations of the data collected. Another group places the time at 15 billion years ago, about!
So far so good, and that challenges the other number (9,000 years) as scientifically proven to be nonsense. But, in the highly convoluted new physics of the combination or integration of the General Theory of Relativity and the micro world of Quantum Physics by means of Superstring M-Theory is yielding some very strange results about the origin of the universe, Space and Time and objective reality. So we do not have an absolute answer to the question of how old the universe is, and, if the Theory of Alternate Universes is proven to be true, it becomes equivocal. Now we are on shaky grounds again, because age may be meaningless.
Then you might ask: "What was there before the big Bang?" We probably will never know.
Now look at the above. I could have said simply that the generally accepted age of the universe by scientists is about 12 to 15 billion years old, and not 9,000 years old as some believe.
This is kid's stuff! By the age of 12 I think most kids would know that the 9,000 number was out of line and a number like 12, 13, 14, or 15 billion years would be the better answer. Mine certainly did. When asked how they knew that, they would say something like that is what my book said, or the teacher told us or my Dad said so, and they would be correct. So, my book said so!.
(Source? If you must! For the nitpickers. The Elegant Universe by Brian Greene, Vintage Books, 2003)
Sunday, May 22, 2005
Exploring Subjects With the "Opposition"
Once you agree to disagree, and establish where the parties are coming from, it is useful to comment on whatever subject is at hand. No one has a corner on all knowledge, and there are always different views of the subject to bring out and test in the crucible of critiques.
However, some people had rather cast stones at you for your opinions, instead of listening before "flaming." Nothing stops civility faster than being called stupid or worse. It all goes downhill from there, and it then becomes a contest of who can sling hurtful words faster.
I am not interested in that kind of experience. I am interested in differing opinions and how they came to pass.
Sometimes, from a long-ago settling of my basic tenets, I am undoubtedly stubborn and dogmatic, for it can be very hard for me to see the other's viewpoints clearly enough through my "automatic" filters. Perhaps they have the same reaction about mine. Then too, I find that others make gross assumptions about who you are, what you believe in, and why you arrived at those beliefs.
That is one reason for this blog: to lay out my system of beliefs and opinions from my years on earth. I might add that it is a new experience for me, as a long-time defense systems engineer, to enter into the larger world of discourse. For too many years, I was far more interested in the project at hand, and getting ready for the next one.
So I welcome comments, interactions and politeness.
Lives of great men all remind us
as their pages o'er we turn,
That we're apt to leave behind us
Letters that we ought to burn.
Saturday, May 21, 2005
Today Seems Far Too Conflicted
Just go read any news feed. Mostly conflicts from everywhere and about everything. From small to large, from simple to complex, and from national to international, we are butting heads in all directions. Perhaps it is technology that allows us to gather reports worldwide, continent wide and nationwide in a flash. The information avalanche hits us from many sources: TV, Newspapers, Mags, Radio, and the Internet all throwing stuff at us far faster than we can read it or assimilate it, then integrate it. Formerly, we put our trust in a few analysts and commentators whose job it was to make sense of all the bits and pieces for us, but over time they have proven to be biased, arrogant, and many times sailing too close to the wind.
Swirling in my head are the current US conflicts worldwide: Iraq, Iran, NOK, Syria, and China for nations; Islam, Anti-Christians, Nihilists, and Secular Humanists, not to mention Socialists and Communists still there for ideologies; and Saudi Arabia, Iran, Venezuela, The EU and Russia for resources, especially oil; they are all at our throats. I have undoubtedly left out too many others.
Then I shake my head and up come the national conflicts we have now: Left versus Right; Activist judges; abortion, gay marriage; pork for everyone as in free college, free medical care, free retirement, and jobs for life; a national debt that is soaring; medicare going bust sooner than social security, and so on, and so on...
After sticking my head in a bowl of water to flush away the tensions, out come the personal problems as well. But I won't go into them here!
There are simply too many conflicts chasing my attention. I keep thinking of those people who buy a remote piece of land, build on it, and go after a lifestyle that is simpler and more attuned to the rhythms of nature. No telephone, no TV, no internet and no newspapers to boil their blood or shock their sense of right from wrong. Maybe an island in the South Pacific with palm trees, white beaches, and soft music in the warm night air. Soft music? Who is playing that?
Only in the movies.
The places I dreamed of visiting or even living in have one at a time shown me their undersides, their drawbacks, and their dangers. Think of being isolated when a medical emergency arises. Think of the illnesses that the local population has become inured to that you haven't. Think of the local politics and whether you just might not fit in. And think of the services you have now that would not be available: police you can count on, security as good as you can find anywhere, transportation, proper sewage, clean water, fuel for heating or cooling, foods you can believe are fresh and uncontaminated. Yes, I have been to many countries, and dwelled in each one long enough to make a sound judgement about life there.
But then I look around and see life here as we live it. A free and relatively secure country, many public services, good doctors and hospitals, a comfortable home, enough to eat and drink, plenty of books, gadgets to help us out, autos to take us where we want to go, our dogs to love, friends to come calling, and the web to play around in: what more can one have in this life? Get too involved in the dramas of the world or the nation and you risk creating great unhappiness in your life, with no time to sit, to reflect, to dream, and to enjoy what pleasures you have.
Most of the major themes of life have been explored and more or less settled now, so it is quite possible to watch the goings on, and let your opinions of them form around those themes you believe in. Not much could change my opinions here, except solid proof that they are wrong. But I needn't worry about that until it happens.
Meanwhile, I have developed a mindset that can cope: I needn't fret from issue to issue, and crisis to crisis, always trying to assess blame; perhaps not entirely serene, but far better than travelling an extremely bumpy and crooked road in an old flivver, cursing the rain, God, and a sore bottom, and complaining about it all the time.
"Should the whole frame of Nature round him break,
In ruin and confusion hurled, He, unconcerned, would hear the mighty crack,
And stand secure amidst a falling world."
Joseph Addison, Horace, Ode III, Book III
Thursday, May 19, 2005
Fly the Flag
It seems to me that patriotism has become something you hide until a monstrous event such as 9/11 occurs, which gives everyone a boot in the tail, and "allows" nascent patriotism to show forth in all of its glory. That is why I have made it a point to display the flag at every flag-flying opportunity, and for long periods in between too (if the wife doesn't complain too hard that her favorite seasonal flag isn't getting its usual outing). As far as I am concerned, patriotism has never gone out of style or become passe. It is a 24/7/365 thing, and the flag simply makes the statement of my strong and proud feelings for this, my country, and yours.
It is not a blind patriotism either. Not the "My country right or wrong" kind, but the kind that honors and supports the republic, constitution, our laws, and our many venerable institutions and traditions. It is volunteering for military service when the country needs you. It is working to ensure that our military has all it needs to perform superbly. It is supporting our President, and our elected officials: and it is also voting to keep or change them from an informed opinion when election time comes around if we decide for change. It is finding and fixing problems in our complex society that will last beyond a few years, and to do those things in the spirit of our Founding Fathers, not in the spirit of a power grab, or an expansion of supposed but self-serving rights, or in trying to move the nation into a drab and featureless collective society.
To me, it is also making sure that we ourselves do no harm to this nation, just as physicians vow to do no harm to their patients. We are all physicians to our government and our people. Today, I have seen many writings and many biased attitudes cascading from journalists and, yes, bloggers, that betray those people as America-haters. Not just iconoclasts, but true haters of our nation and our way of life. We need people who have innovative points of view; we even need a strong opposition to balance the power of elected government, but we don't need America-haters.
Thus, flying the flag symbolizes all the above positive themes about America, and many more.
Filibusters for judicial appointees
Don't need 'em for judges, but the method may well be useful for other purposes in the future. I am glad that the break proposed is ONLY for the judiciary advise and consent task of the Senate.
Newsweek, AKA Weaknews or Newsweak
Expect more of same. No one in the MSM is giving an inch to the charges of bias, weak sources, and lack of solid verification as a necessary ingredient to their jobs. Nor are they coming even close to assuming responsibility for the deaths that occurred as a result of their flawed story. So, other events, or non-events, will pop up and thirsty reporters will grab at it if it is negative for the US. What happened to love of country? Why is it that so many reporters and their editors are Leftwing haters of the US? Let them all go to rural France for a 10-year stint. Nah! Make that China; rural France has wonderful reds!
Human events has an article by Viet Dinh that debunks the major criticisms of the Patriot Act.
Well worth a read. www.humaneventsonline.com, and look for Patriot Act Exemplifies Checks and Balances.
Dinh makes the points that not one court or congressional committee has found any evidence of abuse of powers under the Act, and that not one civil action has been filed against the government under Section 223 of the Act, which allows citizens to seek damages for willful violations of the Act. All this after three-and-a-half years of its existence and effective use.
Googled and read up on some of the web sites for and against Dominionism. It is an enormous understatement that these people are simply rightwing kooks. Some of them appear to be dead serious about taking over the government and restructuring our society to their liking. I have news for them: I know how to resist, and so do most of my friends. Extremists bear watching. I trust the FBI is on their case. Their numbers seem to be relatively low, perhaps 2 million according to a site I read, but that is large enough to forment considerable trouble.
Now we have to look both left and right: extremists of either persuasion are not welcome.
Tuesday, May 17, 2005
US Muslims and Their Silence
If They Are Benign, They Aren't Saying So Loudly Enough!
What would it take to quell the growing anti-Muslim sentiment in the US? Quite a lot, actually. For starters, here is a list of actions I believe Muslims should take immediately, vociferously, and on national media as often as possible:
Condemn all of the Islamic terrorist activities worldwide, in unequivocal terms, often and loudly, both in public and in their mosques.
Seek out in the community any hidden cells of sleeper terrorists and turn them over to authorities. Share knowledge of anti-American activities and plans by Muslims.
Rein in Muslim Imams from preaching hate for America, distributing hate literature, and supporting terrorism by monitary contributions.
Swear an oath once again, publically, en masse, to uphold the Constitution of the US in all of its particulars. Invite witnesses to the oaths in mosques.
Cease contributing to any organizations that support terrorism.
Imams in America should issue fatwas condemning terrorism worldwide, and in the US in particular.
Volunteer in great numbers for service in the military or in other capacities in Iraq and Afghanistan, and serve with distinction.
Denounce any allegiance to those parts of the Koran that state Muslims can and should lie, cheat, steal, or even kill infidels, and issue fatwas to that effect. Denounce all of the fatwas issued in support of Osama bin Laden.
Accomplishing all of these things very publically would go a long way toward reducing the suspicions and fears of the American public as to the intentions of the large and growing population of Muslims. Lacking such assurances and actions, the public will continue to look askance at Muslims as potential threats to the American way of life. It is easily seen that Muslims are conflicted between their religious teachings by Imams and their oaths to support the Constitution of the US as the law of the land.
Will they do as suggested here? I doubt it.
Monday, May 16, 2005
Russell Kirk (1918-1994)
Russell Kirk was a political theorist and author of the wildly influential book The Conservative Mind (1953). In that book he codified six cannons of conservatism which have acted as guiding definitions of conservative thought now for over a half century.
Kirk was a very popular essayist and columnist for the National Review for 20 years. Here are his cannons taken from The Conservative Mind:
(1) Belief in a transcendent order, or body of natural law, which rules society as well as conscience. Political problems, at bottom, are religious and moral problems.
(2) Affection for the proliferating variety and mystery of human existence, as opposed to the narrowing uniformity, egalitarianism, and utilitarian aims of most radical systems: conservatives resist what Robert Graves calls “Logicalism” in society.
(3) Conviction that civilized society requires orders and classes as against the notion of a “classless society.”
(4) Persuasion that freedom and property are closely linked: separate property from private possession, and Leviathan becomes master of all.
(5) Faith in prescription, and distrust of “sophisters, calculators, and economists” who would reconstruct society upon abstract designs. Custom, convention, and old prescription are checks both upon man’s anarchic impulse and upon the innovator’s lust for power.
(6) Recognition that change may not be salutary reform: hasty innovation may be a devouring conflagration, rather than a torch of progress.
One can see the influence of Burke in these cannons; indeed Kirk was a strong adherent of Burke, and is credited with bringing Burkian ideas back into the lexicon of modern conservatives.