Paul Smith Jr has a new home for his blog: www.gazizza.net. Click to go there now!

Saturday, February 25, 2006

delawareonline | The News Journal | Sallies swimmers win school's 100th state title
Salesianum has now won 100 state sports titles. We rock!

Why Divorce and Contraception are Wrong
NOTE: This is written from a Christian perspective, so I'm getting at the fundamental issue of the meaning and purpose of marriage, rather than the obvious financial, emotional and psychological harm divorce does to people.

The first 1e verses of Mark Chapter 10 (linked to above) were Friday's Gospel reading at Catholic masses. This reading tells of Jesus' teaching that marriage was ordained by God to be indissoluble. But why is that?

When you read the Bible, you frequently see marriage used to describe the relationship between man and God. Examples include: The Songs of Songs which describes the love between an man and his beloved, some parts of Revelation, and the book of Hosea in which God has the prophet Hosea marry a prostitute in order to serve as an example of how God feels when the Israelites are unfaithful to him by worshipping other gods and disobeying his commands.

So what does this tell us about marriage? It's a sacrament: a visible sign of something sacred, something that draws us closer to God. It's meant to teach us about the relationship that we were meant to have with God and will again if we meet Him in Heaven after the end of our earthly existence. It's therefore a representation of God's love.

What do we know about God's love? One thing is: it's eternal. It never ends. So if God's love never ends, how can the symbol of that end be allowed to end?

What's something else we know about God's love? It's fecund, or fertile. After all, he not only has a Son ("begotten, not made") but the love between them is so powerful that it "took form" as the Holy Spirit. His love is so infinite that he created us in order to have still more people to love. How can a symbol of God's love not be fertile therefore? God's doesn't restrain the fertility of his love, how can we restrain the sacrament? (This doesn't exclude those who, for reasons beyond their control, are unable to have children from marriage, of course. They can still have an openness to life that reflects God's love.)

We also know that we are most happy when we fulfill God's plan, so if we enter into marriage with a proper view of what a great sacrament and gift it is, that's when we'll experience the most happiness. And even the msot happy marriage contains just a fraction of the happiness we'll experience when we're reunited with God in heaven.

Abortion v. Capital Punishment
In the thread linked above, an anonymous commenter argued that those who oppose abortion should not support capital punishment. For those who aren't aware, I oppose both the death penalty and abortion, but I don't think his logic works.

Here's why:

Abortion, I think it's clear to all but the most die-hard partisans who take the time to think about it, is the taking of a human life. Not one that's completely developed, but a life nonetheless. The death penlty is as well. However, the death penalty, when appropriately applied (ignoring for the purposes of this discussion executions of the innocent which hasn't been proven in this country), is the taking of a person guilty of some crime, usually most heinous. By comparison, the victim of abortion's only "crime" is existing as the result of some action of his or her parents.

That's the fundamental difference between abortion and the death penalty: innocence. If you believe capital puinishment to be wrong because it takes the life of a violent criminal, how can you support an action that takes the life of an innocent without any sort of legal process at all?

The Australian: Sunnis and Sadr's Shiites make peace [February 26, 2006]
THE movement of Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr, alleged to have played a role in the anti-Sunni violence over the last few days, publicly made peace with political and religious Sunni leaders overnight.

Four sheikhs from the Sadr movement made a "pact of honour" with the conservative Sunni Muslim Scholars Association, and called for an end to attacks on places of worship, the shedding of blood and condemning any act leading to sedition.

The agreement was made in the particularly symbolic setting of Baghdad's premier Sunni mosque Abu Hanifa where the Shiite sheikhs prayed under the guidance of Sunni imam Abdel Salam al-Qubaissi.

The meeting was broadcast on television and the religious leaders all "condemned the blowing up of the Shiite mausoleum of Samarra as much as the acts of sabotage against the houses of God as well as the assassinations and terrorisation of Muslims".
Looks like the hopes of those who want to see Bush embarassed, no matter the cost, have been dashed.

Friday, February 24, 2006

Stop the Harm to Women
Here’s a riddle for readers: Name the terrible affliction that since 2000 has hurt over 800 women, but is completely preventable by legislation. Need some clues? Here are some symptoms documented in reports to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on “Adverse Events”:

• Infection and Septic Shock: five deaths in North America alone; 66 additional infections, 46 of them life-threatening or serious.

• Hemorrhaging: One teenager outside the US died from bleeding; 42 women suffered life-threatening bleeding. Of the 237 women reported as hemorrhaging, about 70 required emergency blood transfusions; some lost over half their blood volume.

• Ectopic pregnancies: The mystery affliction can mask the presence of an ectopic pregnancy, which then might not be detected until it ruptures. Without surgery, women rapidly bleed to death. One died and eleven others suffered ruptures out of 17 such events.

• Documents record 235 emergency surgeries due to this affliction. Women have had heart attacks, and others needed stitches to close head wounds sustained when they lost consciousness.

Give up? This “affliction” is RU-486, a little white pill that was supposed to make abortion safe, effective and available in doctors’ offices all over the country — but it has failed, spectacularly, on all counts.

Speaking the Truth With Strength: The Pro-choice Heresy
We live in an age which places a very strong emphasis on tolerance, mutuality, and acceptance. I have heard repeatedly over the years that “Jesus never judged, condemned or excluded anyone.”

I wonder if Peter would agree as the words of Jesus, “Get behind Me you Satan,” rang in his ears. I wonder if the Scribes and the Pharisees would agree as they rankled at being called whitened sepulchers or broods of vipers. I wonder if those who heard Jesus say, “Whoever leads one of these little ones astray, it would be better if he had a millstone tied around his neck and be cast into the sea,” nodded approval and said, “He is so tolerant and accepting.”

JIMMY AKIN.ORG: Jurassic Church
Did you ever wonder if we could celebrate Mass if we traveled back in time to before the Crucifixion?

Sadly enough, I have.

Read a discussion of that (and other time-travel related questions relating to the Catholic faith) at the link above.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Smile if (and Only if) You're Conservative
A survey by the Pew Research Center shows that conservatives are happier than liberals -- in all income groups. While 34 percent of all Americans call themselves "very happy," only 28 percent of liberal Democrats (and 31 percent of moderate or conservative Democrats) do, compared with 47 percent of conservative Republicans.
Begin with a paradox: Conservatives are happier than liberals because they are more pessimistic. Conservatives think the Book of Job got it right ("Man is born unto trouble as the sparks fly upward"), as did Adam Smith ("There is a great deal of ruin in a nation"). Conservatives understand that society in its complexity resembles a giant Calder mobile -- touch it here and things jiggle there, and there, and way over there. Hence conservatives acknowledge the Law of Unintended Consequences, which is: The unintended consequences of bold government undertakings are apt to be larger than, and contrary to, the intended ones.

Conservatives' pessimism is conducive to their happiness in three ways. First, they are rarely surprised -- they are right more often than not about the course of events. Second, when they are wrong, they are happy to be so. Third, because pessimistic conservatives put not their faith in princes -- government -- they accept that happiness is a function of fending for oneself. They believe that happiness is an activity -- it is inseparable from the pursuit of happiness.
The Bible (Psalm 118) tells us:
Better to take refuge in the LORD than to put one's trust in mortals.
Better to take refuge in the LORD than to put one's trust in princes.
Conservatives, even those of non-religous views, understand that trusting people to be perfect will only lead to disappointment. It's why they're conservative and oppose centralization of power. The more power any one person, or group of people, has the more that can, and will, get screwed up. People are fallible. Let's keep their mistakes small.

Secondhand Smoke: If Doctors Should Not Execute, They Should Not Euthanize
Killing is not a medical act. Doctors have no greater moral authority than anyone else, and no greater right to kill. If doctors should not execute, even though it is a consequence of a murderer's actions after receiving abundant due process of law, they should not euthanize.
THis is in response to doctors refusing to participate in executions. It's a very valid point.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

One common response to Muslim anger at Western coluture is to remind them of our tolerance towards differing points of view. I'm not so sure this helpful.

After all, we've see the level of "tolerance" many Islamic nations show themselves. At best, Christians and Jews are taxed more heavily than Muslims. At worst, they're killed.

Also, their perception of our tolerance has to be pretty negative. We tolerate the very things that most upset them. Examples: Britney Spears. Extreme freedom of speech is a good example. Muslims are smart enough to know that our tolerance extends even to those cartoons they're so upset about. It's completely rational for them to say, "If your tolerance is your strong, we want no part of it." By emphasizing it, we run the risk of making the divide between us even larger.

Curling Rocks. Again.
It’s easy to mock or snipe at curling. It’s played by men with brooms for one thing. It’s very popular in Canada for another. But any sport that requires you to root against our friends from the Great White North demands respect. On the curling rink, Canada and the United States swap places. The Canadians are the sport’s brash superpower, the curling colossus; the Americans are the polite, plucky underdogs forced to live in their neighbors’ shadow. (They are also, presumably, the only Americans ever mistaken for Canadians when overseas.)

Curling can even bring America together. Conservatives can wrap themselves in the flag while even the prissiest liberal need feel no guilt in supporting the underdog Minnesotans. We are all curlers now, you might say.
I agree with this article. For reasons I don't completely understand, I really enjoy curling. I don't even completely understand the rules, but I love watching it. There's something hypnotic about watching the rock flow down the ice. NBC should stop showing so much figure skating; just limit to highlights of women falling on the ice or getting thrown badly by their partners. Use the freed up time for curling!

"It should be the highest ambition of every American to extend his views beyond himself, and to bear in mind that his conduct will not only affect himself, his country, and his immediate posterity; but that its influence may be co-extensive with the world, and stamp political happiness or misery on ages yet unborn." —George Washington

"The first duty of a newspaper is to be accurate. If it is accurate, it follows that it is fair." —Herbert Swope

"Knowledge is proud that he has learned so much; Wisdom is humble that he knows no more." —William Cowper

"There is too much power in Washington and too much power in government, and not enough power at the grassroots and not enough power with the average American." —Newt Gingrich

"The 'minimum wage' is...a legal barrier to trade in labor. As economists have long argued, higher minimum wage laws lead to less employment." —Paul Jacob

"When I was a kid everyone knew who [George] Washington was and what he accomplished, but few kids know about him today—few understand how unique our political system is and how the incredible bounty we enjoy can be laid at the feet of Washington. Thus, all that Presidents Day is for a lot of folks is the best day of the year to get good deals on furniture and linen." —Tom Purcell

Jay Leno: I did something dumb this weekend—I walked into a Muslim bakery and asked for a Danish. ... At the Olympics they had the premiere of a new event called "boardercross." Boardercross? I'd never heard of boardercross. But I figure if there was ever an event where Mexico is going to win the gold this would be it. ... NBC now has 418 hours of Olympic viewing. I think this is day 112 of Olympics. You know what NBC normally calls 418 hours of programming? "Law and Order." ... Hillary Clinton blasted the Vice President for failing to disclose all the facts [about his hunting accident]. She wants Dick Cheney to give exact details. You know like, "How do you shoot someone and make it look like an accident?" ... Hillary said that she finds the administration's refusal to level with the American people "troubling." She also finds it somewhat nostalgic.

Delaware 2006: delawareonline | The News Journal | Voters mad at legislators for electric rates
Read a post I wrote at Delaware 2006 about why, despite the News-Journal's best efforts, there will likely be little impact on the election from the electricity price hikes.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

The New Counterculture - Meet Rod Dreher, a conservative who is critical of capitalism
But Mr. Dreher is also a passionate environmentalist, a devotee of organic farming and a proponent of the New Urbanism, an anti-sprawl movement aimed at making residential neighborhoods more like pre-suburban small towns. He dislikes industrial agriculture, shopping malls, television, McMansions and mass consumerism. Efficiency--the guiding principle of free markets--is an "idol," he says, that must be "smashed." Too often, he claims, Republicans act like "the Party of Greed."
In Mr. Dreher's view, consumer-crazed capitalism makes a fetish of individual choice and, if left unchecked, "tends to pull families and communities apart." Thus consumerism and conservatism are, for him, incompatible, a fact that mainstream conservatives, he says, simply do not grasp. He warns that capitalism must be reined in by "the moral and spiritual energies of the people." It is not politics and economics that will save us, he declares. It is adherence to the "eternal moral norms" known as the Permanent Things.
And the most permanent thing of all is God. At the heart of Mr. Dreher's family-centered crunchy conservatism is an unwavering commitment to religious faith. And not just any religious faith but rigorous, old-fashioned orthodoxy. Only a firm grounding in religious commitment, he believes, can sustain crunchy conservatives in their struggle against the radical individualism and materialism he decries.
Mr. Dreher sees "Crunchy Cons," in part, as "a handbook of the resistance." He advocates homeschooling. He applauds community-supported agriculture, small businesses, simple living, historic preservation and much else that promotes a "sacramental" (non-utilitarian) sense of life. You cannot be truly conservative today, he avers, without being countercultural.

These themes, of course, are not new, as Mr. Dreher acknowledges. He cites E.F. Schumacher's decentralist 1973 classic "Small Is Beautiful." He approvingly mentions Richard Weaver (1910-63), the author of "Ideas Have Consequences," and Wendell Berry, a contemporary agrarian poet and essayist. Above all, he extols Russell Kirk, the author of "The Conservative Mind" and a tireless defender of the Permanent Things. Mr. Dreher, in short, identifies himself with the venerable traditionalist school of conservatism that reaches back to Kirk, the Southern Agrarians and beyond: a communitarian conservatism profoundly disturbed not only by secular liberalism but also by the relentless dynamism of modern commercial life.
I can't wait to read this book. From what I've read by him in the past and what's been written about the book he does a lot to show how conservatism and Christianity intersect a lot more than people (even conservatives) give them credit for.

CrunchyCon on National Review Online
NationalReview.com has a new blog devoted to Rod Dreher's book Crunchy Cons: How Birkenstocked Burkeans, gun-loving organic gardeners, evangelical free-range farmers, hip homeschooling mamas, right-wing nature lovers, and their diverse tribe of countercultural conservatives plan to save America (or at least the Republican Party), which promises to be an interesting read as it focuses on the conflict within the Conservative movement between "those for whom the highest social good is freedom — the emancipation of the self from statist restraint and oppressive custom — and those for whom the highest social good is virtue: the formation of character, the cultivation of the soul" as George Nash, author of "The Conservative Intellectual Movement in America" put it in his review on OpinionJournal.com, which I'll read and link to later today. (Both Dreher and I come down on the side of formation of character and cultivation of the soul, BTW.)

I've got the book on order and allegedly in the mail from Amazon.com. I have to finish Jesse Helm's memiors first (I hate reading two books at once), but once I do, I'll be eagerly reading this book.

I'm an Übergeek
I heard Michelle Branch's "Goodbye to You" (lyrics in the link above) on the radio last night and all I could think about was Giles heading home to England and Tara leaving Willow.

If you don't get what I'm talking about, and I'm guessing only one person who reads this site does, consider yourself normal.

Monday, February 20, 2006

The Curt Jester: Impeach Bush

The best Cheney joke I've seen yet.

Delaware 2006: State-Wide Outlook
Read this post at Delaware 2006 by yours truly arguing the Delaware GOP is in better shape than you might expect. (It's certainly in better shape than I expected.)

My Current Reading
I'm currently reading Jesse Helm's memoiors, "Here's Where I Stand." It's an interesting read so far, learning about how he came to be interested in politics from discussing current events with his father-in-law after growing up apolitical. How he got his start in radio, and later TV, broadcasting.

I especially want to read itfor the story of how he saved President Reagan's career in the 1976 North Carolina President primary. Reagan's campaign had been floundering and he was close to dropping out. On Helm's advice, he started attacking the negotitations to hand over the Panama Canal to the nation of Panama. This propelled him to victory in North Carolina, which revived his campaign. Although he ultimately lost the nomination to the incumbent Gerald Ford, he did become the darling of the conservative movement and came back to win the Presidency four years later.

It will also be interesting to read about his efforts to reform the United Nations. Interestingly, based off the comments in the photo section of the book, he got along well with our Senator Biden. Politics makes strange bedfellows, indeed.

I finished the Politics of Prudence. It was more a collection of essays and speeches than a book in its own right, but it contained a good amount of sage advice for conservatives as to how we should proceed in the future. Definitely recommended.

UPDATE: Forgot to mention that I read Theology of the Body for Beginners by Christopher West yesterday. About 130 pages, this provides a brief and easy to understand overview of John Paul II's teaching on the Christian teaching on human sexuality. Not merely a list of "Thou Shalt Not"'s, John Paul the Great shows how our sexuality is at the core of our humanity and is meant to reflect the great gift of Heaven God wishes to accept. The body and our sexual impulses are not evil or sinful; rather, they are a simple prefigurement of the union we will have with God in Heaven. It's our misuse of them that leads to sin. The proper use of them will draw us closer to God and help us understand what we can achieve if we give ourselves to Him as He wishes to give himself to us. A must-read.

On George Washington:

"His integrity was most pure, his justice the most inflexible I have ever known, no motives of interest or consanguinity, of friendship or hatred, being able to bias his decision. He was indeed, in every sense of the words, a wise, a good, and a great man." —Thomas Jefferson on George Washington

"His example is now complete, and it will teach wisdom and virtue to magistrates, citizens, and men, not only in the present age, but in future generations, as long as our history shall be read." —John Adams, Message to the U.S. Senate, 19 December 1799

"First in war, first in peace, and first in the hearts of his countrymen, he was second to none in humble and enduring scenes of private life. Pious, just, humane, temperate, and sincere; uniform, dignified, and commanding; his example was as edifying to all around him as were the effects of that example lasting... Correct throughout, vice shuddered in his presence and virtue always felt his fostering hand. The purity of his private character gave effulgence to his public virtues... Such was the man for whom our nation mourns." —Official eulogy of Washington, written by John Marshall and delivered by Henry "Light Horse Harry" Lee III, 26 December 1799

"Perhaps the strongest feature in his character was prudence, never acting until every circumstance, every consideration, was maturely weighed; refraining if he saw a doubt, but when once decided, going through with his purpose, whatever obstacles opposed. His integrity was pure, his justice the most inflexible I have ever known, no motives of interest or consanguinity, of friendship or hatred, being able to bias his decision. He was, indeed, in every sense of the words, a wise, a good, and a great man." —Thomas Jefferson, letter to Dr. Walter Jones, 2 January 1814
"In the wrangles over gay marriage, some conservatives are proposing a simple solution: Have the government just get out of the marriage business. Small-government conservatives are saying, Why not just let people have any marital relationship they want? What business does the government have regulating marriage? Christian conservatives are saying, Let the secular world throw out or redefine marriage if it wants, we'll keep marriage as a distinctly Christian institution... The problem with privatizing marriage is that marriage is not private. Nor is marriage a 'legal fiction' constructed by the government. Nor is marriage the creation of the church. Marriage is a function of God's creation... A private romantic or sexual preference cannot overthrow God's design. Marriage itself, as God built it into His creation, cannot be revised." —Gene Edward Veith

"In free societies, government exists for the sake of the people, not the other way around. Government is not directed by the whims of any dictator or the mandate of any clique but by the good sense of the people through a democratic vote. In free societies, people do not live in fear. They never worry that criticizing the government will lead to a late knock on the door, an arrest by some goon squad. When people are free, their rights to speak and to pray are protected by law. And the goons are not running the jails; they're in the jails." —Ronald Reagan

"I am convinced that forcing hundreds or, if necessary, thousands of votes to strike individual earmarks is the only way to produce meaningful results for American taxpayers. Bringing the Senate to a standstill for as long as it takes would be a small price to pay for shutting down what Jack Abramoff described as Congress's 'earmark favor factory.' The battle against pork is crucial. Pork is the root cause of the unholy relationship between some members of Congress, lobbyists and donors. Inside Congress, the pork process is effectively a black market economy: Thousands of instances exist where appropriations are leveraged for fundraising dollars or political capital. It is delusional to claim Congress can redeem its relationship with K Street without eliminating earmarks. The problem is not lobbyists. The problem is us." —Sen. Tom Coburn

"[T]he truth is that George Bush's presidency has suffered precisely because he has failed to listen to the small-government guys... Earmarks have mushroomed during the Bush presidency from 6,333 to 13,999—and Republicans are taking the heat because of them. Education spending at the federal level has doubled, with the political payoff extremely hard to detect. The largest expansion of Medicare in four decades has occurred with Bush leading the charge. And Bush is heading toward an historic first: the only president in over 120 years never to have vetoed a single bill." —Allan Ryskind

Washington's Birthday
Today's George Washington's birthday. Commonly known as President's Day, although officially the holiday is still known as President's Day since Congress never changed the name (I'm guessing Richard Nixon knew this was the only way we'd ever commemorate his Presidency), this day commemorates the birth of the most important American.

Today, think about all that George Washington did for our country: sacrificing a comfortable life to lead a bunch of rag-tag and often unmanagable rebels against the world's dominant empire; coming out of retirement to serve as our first President (a job he did not want) because it was the only way to keep the country together; serving a second term (despite not wanting to) for the same reason; governing as President not just with an eye to immediate concerns, but with an awareness that every action he took set a precedent for the future.

Truly the Father of our Country, we all owe him a deep debt. Our country most likely wouldn't be here without him and certainly not as stable or prosperous.

Delaware Conservative Bloggers Alliance
Saturday night a group of conservative Delaware bloggers got together for dinner at Chili's in Christiana just to chat and discuss how we can have a greater impact. Those attending included Mark Levin Fan, Jeff the Baptist, Paul Smith Jr., Ryan of Jokers to the Right, Stephen of Blogolution and Hube of Colossus of Rhodey. Out of this quite enjoyable night, came the Delaware Conservative Bloggers Alliance and a new group blog. Delaware 2006, where we will comment upon and analyze the coming election in Delaware.

So, I've created new blogrolls (down on the left of the page) to separate out the various different types of blogs I link now, and to give greater prominence to my fellow DCBA'ers.

It was good night to get together with everyone and put some faces to names. A picture of our group is below:

From left to right: me, Jeff the Baptist, Ryan, and Hube.
(Mark Levin Fan had to leave, and Stephen of Blogolution took the picture.)

I look forward to working with these guys more in the future.

Comment via email
Interesting site and can't wait to read more. i googled to see if i could find out why bon jovi opened his concert in tampa the other day wearing a USMC dress jacket. it brought me to your site :) yours is the first "blog" i've ever enjoyed!
I have no idea how that search brought someone to my site. I don't think I've ever mentioned Bon Jovi on this site, until just now anyway.

Anyway, thanks for the good comments.

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