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Friday, December 03, 2004

Faith-based Charities and Federal Funding
I've always been ambivalent about Bush's policies in this area. Mostly it was because it seemed obvious that, although the President did this with the best of intentions and will administer this program fairly, it could be the path to future government interference with faith-based programs.

After all, that's what happened to our colleges and universities. They used to be largely unaffiliated with the government, but once they started accepting federal funding, all sorts of restrictions and mandates were placed on them. It even went so far that Hillsdale College, which refused federal funding, was taken to court and ordered to abide by federal mandates because some of their students received federal grants and scholarships. Hillsdale told the government to "shove it" [not a direct quote] and now matches all federal grants to their students so they can remain free of federal interference. Other areas show similar patterns.

So, accepting federal funding could be the door to the federal government mandating all sorts changes to religious activities. Just to look at the Catholic church, the government could try to mandate women priests, that people of all faiths must be allowed to recieve the Eucharist, male nuns, and I'm afraid to continue thinking up possibilitiess. So to maintain the long-term independence of the Catholic church, I hope we don't accept any of the funding.

But another reason to refuse was brought to my attention recently. (Unfortunately, I can't remember where I read it.) The article I read argued that a reason for innate conservatism of the American people is the history of religious freedom. Since, for the most part, American governments have never really funded churches, they've been forced to be self-sufficient and rely on the generosity of their membership.

This is in contrast to the state-supported churches of Europe, which have become lazy and heterodox in their teachings, and have matched the decline of Europe. In contrast, American churches, while weaker than they once were, are comparatively strong and some believe we're currently in the midst of a third (?) "Great Awakening" of religious activity.

It also taught Americans that great things are possible without government assistance. It was individual effort that built these churches, not government workers. We know we can do great things, because we have.

Avoiding federal funding, in my opinion, will help maintain our independence from the government and the strength our of churches. This, in turn, will keep America great.

Barnes & Noble.com - Tear Down This Wall: The Reagan Revolution
I'm thinking about buying this, of course, but look at the books it pushes as related:
People who bought this book also bought:
• Lies: And the Lying Liars Who Tell Them: A Fair and Balanced Look at the Right Al Franken
• Moral Politics: How Liberals and Conservatives Think George Lakoff
• Can America Survive?: The Rage of the Left, the Truth, and What to Do about It Ben Stein, Phil DeMuth
• Left Illusions: An Intellectual Odyssey David Horowitz, Jamie Glazov (Editor)
• The Best Democracy Money Can Buy: The Truth about Corporate Cons, Globalization, and High-Finance Fraudsters Greg Palast, With Al Franken, With Janeane Garofalo
I find most of those hard to believe.

Baseball Prospectus | Articles | Casey's Random Batting Trial
A modern version of Casey at the Bat. Very funny. (You need to know some more modern baseball statistics to get full enjoyment, but non-statheads should enjoy it also.)

Stone To Recreate Thatcher's Reign?
I definitely believe that the Iron Lady deserves a movie about her, I worry that it's Oliver Stone doing it. I can't trust that it will be fair to her.

I always enjoyed what my freshman year of high school Current Events teacher called her: "The Only Man Left In Europe"

Wednesday, December 01, 2004

"Never do anything against conscience even if the state demands it." --Albert Einstein

"If all that Americans want is security, they can go to prison. They'll have enough to eat, a bed and a roof over their heads." --President Dwight D. Eisenhower

"France has neither winter, nor summer, nor morals. France is miserable because it is filled with Frenchmen, and Frenchmen are miserable because they live in France." --Mark Twain

"Liberty has turned into licentiousness, and tolerance for dissenters has become little more than rank relativism and nihilism. All perspectives are equally valid, which means no perspective is truly valid." --Jonah Goldberg

Watched the First Season of Angel
I skipped two episodes because I seem to catch them in reruns all the time. It was a good season overall, better than any of the last four seasons of Buffy. I was suprised when I barely remembered any of the episode "She," but then I realized that was because it was awful.

One thing of note: I've seen a great deal of (deserved) criticism of Elisabeth Rohm for her lack of acting ability on Law & Order. It surprises me how bad she is on that show, because I thought she was good on Angel as Kate, the detective who fnds out Angel's secret.

I'll have to return the DVDs to my friend who loaned them to me. Maybe once he's done with my Buffy Season 7 DVDs.

Cheap Shot Alert!
Dear Abby:

My husband is a liar and a cheat. He has cheated on me from the beginning, and when I confront him, he denies everything. What's worse, everyone knows he cheats on me. It is so humiliating. Also, since he lost his job three years ago he hasn't even looked for a new one. All he does is buy cigars and cruise around and bullshit with his pals, while I have
to work to pay the bills. Since our daughter went away to college he doesn't even pretend to like me and hints that I am a lesbian. What should I do?

Signed, Clueless

Dear Clueless:

Grow up and dump him. For Pete's sake, you don't need him anymore. You're a United States Senator from New York, act like it!


Belated Birthday Wishes
To the man who saved England from Nazism and recognized Communism for what it was.

Tuesday, November 30, 2004

The Netherlands is Just Sick
Raising the stakes in an excruciating ethical debate, a hospital in the Netherlands - the first nation to permit euthanasia - recently proposed guidelines for mercy killings of terminally ill newborns, and then made a startling revelation: It has already begun carrying out such procedures in a handful of cases and reporting them to the government.
The guideline says euthanasia is acceptable when the child's medical team and independent doctors agree the pain cannot be eased and there is no prospect for improvement, and when parents think it's best.

Examples include extremely premature births, where children suffer brain damage from bleeding and convulsions; and diseases where a child could only survive on life support for the rest of its life such as spina bifida and epidermosis bullosa, a blistering illness.
However, experts acknowledge that doctors euthanize routinely in the United States but that such practice is hidden.

"Measures that might marginally extend a child's life by minutes or hours or days or weeks are stopped. This happens routinely, namely, every day," said Lance Stell, professor of medical ethics at Davidson College and staff ethicist at Carolinas Medical Center in the United States. "Everybody knows that it happens, but there's a lot of hypocrisy. Instead, people talk about things they're not going to do."
The quote in the last paragraph shows that Dr. Stell doesn't get the point: treatments that prolong a patient's life but merely postpone the inevitable are acceptable. Again, I'm no expert, but it is morally permissible to refuse treatments that would merely prolong life. It's when you get into actions that deliberately terminate a life that we are commiting evil.

More than half of all deaths occur under medical supervision, so it's really about management and method of death, Stell said.
I missed this quote before. Sounds like an excuse Tony Soprano could use: "The dude was bound to die sometime. I just chose a different method and managed it myself." Sick bastards.

Godzilla Gets Hollywood Walk of Fame Star
Well-deserved. His acting ability was only surpassed by one other actor:

Monday, November 29, 2004

Interesting Article on the Holy Grail
Gives the historical background on where the Holy Grail ended up after the Last Supper. It also explains why Indiana Jones did not choose wisely at the end of The Last Crusade.

James Jordan, the parachute-jumping older brother of hoops legend Michael Jordan, headed for Iraq yesterday after winning a battle with the Army to delay his retirement so he could complete a full, yearlong deployment with his troops.
Jordan, a member of the 35th Signal Brigade, which is based at Fort Bragg, N.C., was to have retired next April 29 after spending 30 years in the military. But the father of three requested — and was granted — permission to delay his retirement so he could finish the full deployment. "In the end, you've got to figure out what is good for the team. I felt what was good for the team was some stability at the top," said the older Jordan.
Forget Michael, this is the real hero of the Jordan family.

Link via The Corner.

Gramm looks good for Treasury
I sent this article to a fellow veteran of Gramm's 1996 Presidential Campaign Delaware staff and he responded: "maybe he can get more people pulling the wagon than riding in it".

It cracked me up, but if you get the joke, you definitely need to get out more.

The News Journal : LOCAL : Shopping protesters arrested for 'nothing'
I was pretty good friends with the oldest of these sisters in college. (We got along pretty well despite the fact I was conservative and she was wrong.) She was a good person, if misguided politically, so I'm not sure who to believe in the "he-said, she-said" arrest stories, since I also tend to believe cops as a general rule. (Arrests mean paperwork, and who wants more paperwork?)

As someone (I think PoliticalTracker) said, protests are overused and largely ineffective at this point in history. Do the White sisters really think anyone would change their mind on Black Friday? Anyone nuts enough to brave those crowds isn't going see the error of their ways that day.

And I do agree with their basic message: the consumerization of American society is a bad thing. I just don't think their methods will work. You want to change people's hearts, the best method is to show them the happiness that comes from a simpler lifestyle, not by confronting them. That's likely to be counter-productive.

The other thing I don't get, and it shows how different Anna and I are from each other, is this: Who says, "Hey, while we're all together, who wants to go protest?" When I get together with far-flung family, the day after Thanksgiving is spent either sleeping off the dinner, watching movies or hanging out talking. Protests would never enter our mind.

It's sometimes amazing to me how people can miss the obvious when it's staring them right in their face. In the Peanuts collection linked above, the first book contains an essay which frames Peanuts as an early shot fired by the "beat" movement and tries to link it to the political movements of the 60s even while admitting that Schulz was never political in his strips. But nowhere in the essay does it mention Christianity, which clearly had a tremendous influence on the strip, especially as it became more established and secure. Linus and Charlie Brown both frequently quoted the Bible in applying it to the situations they found themselves in.

The collections are great to read, but the essay is disappointing in trying to analyze the influences of, and on, Peanuts. It's especially disappointing since there were at least two books published in the Sixties discussing the Christian view of Peanuts, at least one of which was a best-seller, so the idea was already out there.

It's still the greatest strip of all-time, far outpacing Calvin and Hobbes and the Far Side in my opinion. The announcement that it would no longer be produced really depressed me and I really felt an emptiness. I'm glad they're rerunning the "Classic Peanuts" strips now. I don't know if I'm ready to face a comics page without Peanuts on it. I hope I'm never faced with that situation. Here's to another 50+ years of Peanuts reruns!

My Current Reading
The Confessions of Augustine.

Read the first chapter yesterday before I was too tired to read. (I woke up for no real reason at 3 AM and couldn't get back to sleep. By the time I started the Confessions, I'd already been up for over 12 hours.)

I also read Rise, Let Us Be On Our Way by Pope John Paul II yesterday. (I said I was up early.) Interesting book, mostly advice to bishops on how to fulfill their responsibilities, but advice also applicable to our daily lives as well.

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