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Friday, December 30, 2005

Rangers Roundup: Palmeiro Deserves An Impartial Jury
Years ago Fort Worth and Tarant County nearly went broke trying to get a jury to convict Texas Billionaire Cullen Davis of murder in 3 different trials. In all three Davis walked, despite physical evidence, motive and eyewitness accounts. Why no conviction? The jurors could not believe that any man who had that much money would try and carry out a murder on their own, they would simply pay somebody to do the dirty work. It just made no sense any other way.

I am afraid that I may be one of those doubting jurors when it comes to Rafael Palmeiro. It is much easier for me to believe his story than it is to believe this man deliberately took steroids, near the very end of a hall-of fame career, knowing that if he failed a test he may never end up in Cooperstown and he might be called back in front of a Congressional committee on perjury charges. I just can't believe anyone would risk so much for so little.
This sums up how I feel. It makes no sense for Palmeiro to have taken steroids.

Thursday, December 29, 2005

St. Dorothy Day?
An interesting discussion of the possible canonization of Dorothy Day, despite her misguided leftist views.

delawareonline | The News Journal | Election head drops newspaper column
I've never read one of Mr Calio's columns, but this is a good decision. We've got a good election system in Delaware at the state level and I'd hate to see its fairness and impartiality called into question because of something like this. We need our election system to be above reproach. Obviously, Mr Calio (who I don't know) is a partisan Democrat. (Otherwise, why would Ruth Ann have appointed him to the job?)

I worked at the New Castle County Department of Elections during the summers of 1995 and 1995 and found the staff there to be very fair and interested only in running fair and honest elections. I'm still in contact with many people there; two I'm very good friends with and the others I see when I stop in. I still work for them running a polling place on the various primary and general election days. I try my hardest to fair to the voters and candidates and enforce the rules equally regardless of political affiliation. (For example, on Election Day 2004, the only voters I had to correct were Republicans who wore campaign stickers into the polling place, which is against the law.)

It matters a great deal that even the appearance of impropriety be avoided so I'm glad Mr. Calio dropped his column.
John Flaherty, lobbyist for Common Cause, said Calio made the right choice

"Given the controversies in Florida and Ohio during the past two presidential elections, you don't want to create the appearance of impropriety," Flaherty said. "He's doing the right thing in giving it up."

But Flaherty said he does not think Calio's action was a severe error.

"Frank may have made a mistake, but if he did, it pales in comparison to what [former Attorney General M.] Jane Brady did in soliciting secret contributions for candidates," he said.

This is why I've never really trusted Common Cause. Even though they're supposed to be about good government,it seems like they've always carried water for the Democrats. Why was it necessary to bring Jane Brady up? It wasn't unless you're trying to deflect away for partisan reasons. And an unbiased reporter should have recognized that and not even printed it. Especially since, as the article itself states, what Brady did was completely legal, while the actions of Mr. Calio are still being investigated by the Attorney General.

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Krispy Kreme No More In Philadelphia Area
I had no idea. Apparently we get fat off something else in the Philly area. I've never really liked Krispy Kreme anyway. Not sure why; just not my thing.

S.D. Makes Abortion Rare Through Laws And Stigma
OR: Why South Dakota Rocks!
South Dakota, those on both sides of the abortion debate agree, has become one of the hardest states in the country in which to obtain an abortion. One of three states in the country to have only one abortion provider -- North Dakota and Mississippi are the others -- South Dakota, largely because of a strong antiabortion lobby, is also becoming a leading national laboratory for testing the limits of state laws restricting abortion, both opponents and advocates of abortion rights say.

In 2005, the South Dakota legislature passed five laws restricting abortion, after a bill to ban abortion outright had failed by one vote in 2004. And new laws are virtually assured for the coming year. A 17-member abortion task force, made up largely of staunch abortion opponents, issued recommendations to the legislature earlier this month that included some of the most restrictive requirements for abortion in the country.

The report states that science defines life as beginning at conception and recommends a law that gives fetuses the same protection that children get after birth, thus banning abortion. Until such a ban, the task force recommends requiring that a woman watch an ultrasound of her fetus, that doctors warn women about the psychological and physical dangers of abortion, and that women receive psychological counseling before the abortion, among other measures.
One law passed in South Dakota this year is an informed-consent measure that requires doctors to tell women in writing and in person two hours before an abortion of the medical risks of the procedure and that an abortion ends the life of "a whole, separate, unique living human being." Enforcement of the law has been blocked by a lawsuit from Planned Parenthood.

Another measure is a "trigger law" that automatically bans all abortions in the state should the U.S. Supreme Court overturn Roe v. Wade.
Go South Dakota!

OpinionJournal - American Conservatism
Where does American Conservatism stand today? Jeffrey hart review the accomplishments and failures of the last 50 years.

UPDATE: Go here to see a distillation of the very interesting debate on The Corner over this article.

One More Book!
Forgot to mention another book I read recently. Letter and Spirit : From Written Text to Living Word in the Liturgy By Scott Hahn. (Link Above)

It deals with the relationship between the Catholic Mass and Scripture. One of the primary tests of a book's validity and Inspiration was its suitability for inclusion in the Liturgy.

Good book, but he still hasn't returned to the heights of Hail, Holy Queen, The Lamb's Supper or Rome, Sweet Home.

I Love Lisa
No, I'm not declaring my love for someone. Well, other than a certain episode of the Simpsons. I just had the Mediocre Presidents song pop into my head, so I went to look it up and realized how great an episode this truly is. Here's some of the best quotes:
... and my doctor said I wouldn't have so many nose-bleeds if I kept my finger out of there.
-- Thank you Ralph, very graphic
Lisa: What do you say to a boy to let him know you're not interested?
Marge: Well, honey, when I...
Homer: [puts up a hand] Let me handle this, Marge, I've heard 'em all. [enumerating them on his fingers] ``I like you as a friend.'' ``I think we should see other people.'' ``I don't speak English.''
Lisa: I get the idea.
Homer: [not getting the hint] ``I'm married to the sea.'' ``I don't wanna kill you, but I will.'' ...
Marge suggests Lisa tell Ralph she's flattered, ``but you're just not ready for this kind of thing.''
Homer: Six simple words: I'm not gay, but I'll learn.
Lisa: I'm not sure if I should go. I don't even like him.
Bart: You're right, Lis, you shouldn't go. It wouldn't be honest. I'll go, disguised as you.
Lisa: But what if he wants to hold hands?
Bart: I'm prepared to make that sacrifice.
Lisa: What if he wants to kiss?
Bart: I'm prepared to make that sacrifice.
Lisa: What if...
Bart: You don't want to know how far I'll go.
Watching a videotape of the incident, Bart narrates the scene
frame-by-frame. ``Watch this, Lis. You can actually pinpoint the second when his heart rips in half.''
Homer: You know, one day, honest citizens are gonna stand up to you crooked cops!
Chief Wiggum: [suddenly afraid] They are? Oh, no! Have they set a date?
We are the mediocre presidents.
You won't find our faces on dollars or on cents!
There's Taylor, there's Tyler, there's Fillmore and there's Hayes.
There's William Henry Harrison, ``I died in thirty days!''
We... are... the... adequate, forgettable, occasionally regrettable
Caretaker presidents of the U-S-A!
Bart, do you want to play John Wilkes Booth, or do you want to act like a maniac?
-- Miss Hoover gives Bart a scolding, ``I Love Lisa''
Hasta la vista, Abey.
-- Bart Simpson plays John Wilkes Booth
How can you not love that episode? I never think of it when considering great episodes, but I think it needs to be on the list.

Blessed Be the Lower Middle Class
But in this era when mass society is affluent society, I'm beginning to think it applies to this world, right now. "Blessed are the poor, for you won't worry about the fashionableness of your car. Blessed are the poor, for you will not think about the difference between Pellegrino and Eddie Bauer waters. Blessed are the poor, for you won't know when your clothes are out of style. Blessed are the poor, for you won't find yourself dissatisfied when the dozen coffee choices don't include mild Starbucks."

I'm beginning to think that the lower middle class in America might have it the best: Blessed are the lower middle class in America, for you have enough to live comfortably but not enough to consume yourself with the comforts.

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Merry Christmas
Great Flash animation set to the Drifters' version of "White Christmas," which for my money is the best version of that song. (It's so good, Elvis did his version in tribute to it.)

Townhall.com :: Columns :: What is Chanukah? by Paul Greenberg
Good overview of the meaning of Chanukah by Paul Greenberg.

Sweet Charity - The American people are extraordinarily generous
Americans are "stingy." This was the accusation hurled at the U.S. almost exactly one year ago today by Jan Egeland, United Nations Undersecretary for Humanitarian Affairs, immediately after the Asian tsunami disaster.

Even by U.N. standards, it was a particularly absurd anti-American slur--although it no doubt expresses the view of many foreign elites, who have come to believe that government is the only true source of goodness and charity. In the weeks and months that followed the tsunami, American citizens dug deep into their wallets, donating some $1.78 billion to the relief effort in Asia--dwarfing the contributions of other developed nations. Since October Americans have also contributed $78 million to assist the casualties of the Pakistan earthquake.
What impels Americans to engage in such kindness to strangers? We suspect that Americans give to private charities because they recognize that these initiatives work best. Bobby Jindal, a Congressman from New Orleans whose own home was badly damaged by flood waters, tells us that "by far the most effective relief efforts have come from private charitable aid organizations. FEMA and other state/local government agencies set up bureaucracies and red tape, while private businesses and charities moved in swiftly to alleviate the human suffering on the ground."

Mr. Jindal tells the story of an elderly woman who dropped off a white envelope at a county sheriff's office in Louisiana filled with eight single dollar bills and a note of apology saying that this was all she could afford to give. Another woman wrote a quarter-million-dollar relief check with only one stipulation: that her generous act remain anonymous.

There is a mythology in the philanthropic world that Americans are motivated to give by the somewhat selfish pursuit of a tax deduction. But a surprisingly large percentage of charitable gifts aren't even itemized on tax forms. Moreover, the Tax Foundation has provided compelling evidence that over the past 50 years--as tax rates on the highest earners have fluctuated from a high of 90% to a low of 28%--American giving has hardly deviated from 2% of personal income. In the 1980s, as tax-rate reductions reduced the value of the charitable tax deduction by about half, the level of charitable giving nearly doubled. This suggests that charitable giving would continue to flourish under a flat-rate tax system with no deduction.
But yes, it's true, that when it comes to funding self-serving bureaucracies that don't produce results--such as much of the U.N. and most other multi-government foreign-aid schemes--Americans are skeptics. For good reason. Study after study has documented that there is no correlation between the amount of foreign assistance a nation receives and its subsequent rate of economic development. Think Africa, which has received hundreds of billions of dollars in aid to little positive effect. This suggests that the optimal amount of U.S. government development aid may be zero.

But at the same time, when it comes to private Good Samaritan undertakings that do alleviate poverty and despair, Americans are second to none, giving three to four times the amount of "official" foreign aid, according to Ian Vasquez of the Cato Institute's Global Liberty Project. That's not stingy. It's smart.
Why do Americans give? I would be largely because our Christian heritage demands it of us. We have an obligation to help those less fortunate, so we do.

Quote of the Day
"[T]he States can best govern our home concerns and the general government our foreign ones. I wish, therefore...never to see all offices transferred to Washington, where, further withdrawn from the eyes of the people, they may more secretly be bought and sold at market."

-- Thomas Jefferson (letter to Judge William Johnson, 12 June 1823)

My Current Reading
It's been a while since I updated my current reading. Just kept forgetting to do it.

I think the last book I didn't review was Peggy Noonan's John Paul the Great : Remembering a Spiritual Father. This book was an amazing read. Peggy really outdid herself this time. It caught his flaws as well as his strengths. It really made you realize how much God cares for his Church that he sent us two great leaders back to back like John Paul the Great and Benedict XVI.

The next book I read was Why Gender Matters: What Parents and Teachers Need to Know about the Emerging Science of Sex Differences by Leonard Sax. When I bought this book, I wasn't expecting it to be so focused on raising children (which may be my fault), but still found it to be very interesting and I learned a great deal. One interesting point: he argues that it's acceptable to spank boys, possibly even necessary, but that we should never spank a girl. Boys being so aggressive and tuned to violence will understand and even respect a spanking. But girls won't be able to comprehend it due to their different nature. I found it the complexity he argues parents and teachers have to bring to raising children kind of frightening. I'm not sure I'm capable of that. Fortunately, I don't have kids yet, so I'm not messing anybody up.

The next book was Rights and Duties: Reflections on Our Conservative Constitution by Russell Kirk. Every time I read Kirk I'm amazed at his brilliance. Essentially, Kirk argues that America (and all nations) has two constitutions, the written one we all know, and an unwritten one that consists of the often unspoken agreements that undergird a society. Briefly going through history, with a special focus on the French Revolution, Kirk states that the written Constitution can not violate the unwritten Constitution or else it is doomed to failure.

This book actually deals with a question I've often asked: why the American Revolution succeeded where the French Revolution failed so spectacularly. Kirk points out that the French revolution attempted to remake French society and therefore violated the unwritten constitution of the French nation which led to their failure. The authors of the American Consitution to a man had been involved in politics for many years and so understood that politics is the art of the possible and so didn't attempt to do too much. The American Revolution and the Constitution, Kirk argues, were essentially an attempt to restore rights the colonists had possesses "as Englishmen" and only once the King refused to restore those rights did the colunists pursue independence. Once independent, they were merely attempting to create a framework that would guarantee those rights in perpetuity.

He also examines the current Constitutional outlook of our nation and here he presents a fairly gloomy picture. He argues that many recent Supreme Court decisions have violated the unwritten Constitution and therefore could lead to the breakdown of the written Consitution. Roe v. Wade guaranteed the ability of a mother to kill her unborn child, undermining the status of the family. A series of rulings have made pornography easily available, due to misinterpretation of the First Amendment's protection of "the freedom of speech." (Emphasis added and important.) A number of rulings have taken power away from the states and localities and passed it to the general government. Religion is being pushed out of the public sphere despite the unwritten constitution's acknowledgement of Christianity as the religion of the land and the need for religion to provide a check on the baser instincts of the people.

Excellent book and probably one I shuld return to again.

Finally, I started Washington: The Indispensable Man by James Thomas Flexner. It's considered the biography of Washington from what I understand. I'm only a few chapters in, but I've already learned a lot. (Washington may have inadvertantly, due to his inexperience as a military commander helped provoke the French and Indian War, for example.) I'm looking forward to more reading and learning.

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