Friday, October 31, 2008
There is much discussion here in California about Proposition 8. It would amend the California Constitution to recognize or validate "only marriage between a man and a woman." Those who support the proposition call it the "California Marriage Protection Act." They argue that the people of California need this proposition to protect the institution of marriage. But I want to know what they are trying to protect it from. If this amendment doesn't pass and homosexual couples continue to marry, will heterosexual married couples get divorced or stop loving their spouses because of it? Will heterosexual couples not marry who otherwise would, or will they fall out of love with each other? Will people who would otherwise be heterosexual and marry someone of the opposite sex now turn homosexual and marry someone of the same sex?
I don't feel my love for my wife or my commitment to stay married to her for the rest of our lives diminished one iota by homosexual marriage. I think I can safely report that my wife feels the same way. And I certainly don't see homosexual marriage causing us to divorce each other because we have suddenly turned homosexual and now want to marry someone of the same sex.
So, I will be voting against Proposition 8. Why would anyone vote for it?
Thursday, October 30, 2008
I picked up my wife at the airport Sunday. She visited her family in Thailand for two weeks. As we left, we got caught in horrendous traffic. It resulted from people leaving the 49'er game. Thousands and thousands of cars spilling onto the freeway at the same time.
Why do people put themselves through this ordeal just to see a football game in person? Even if I liked football, I wouldn't do it. I'd watch it on TV. Or, if it wasn't on TV, I'd listen to it on the radio. What I wouldn't do is get up early on a Sunday morning, drive miles and miles to the stadium, pay God knows how much for parking and a ticket, endure the unpleasantly hot, cold, or wet weather to watch overgrown men run into, over, and around each other on the field for three hours, and then fight my way through the exiting crowd to get back in my car and make an arduous evening drive back home in ridiculously heavy traffic.
I have better things to do on a Sunday. I have better things to do anytime.
Thursday, October 23, 2008
I think this is sound advice reminiscent of "give and you shall receive."
Monday, October 20, 2008
I've encountered Bob's argument above many times and in many places, but I've never understood it. What kind of "freedom" is Bob talking about? I take him to mean that if God doesn't prove himself to us, we have the freedom to either believe or not believe that He exists, whereas if God did prove himself to us, we would be compelled by that proof to know that He exists. There would be no freedom to disbelieve that He exists.
Yet, why is it better to believe in something that may or, for all we know, may not exist than to know that it exists? I've never understood why God would prefer the former to the latter. In fact, it seems to me that He would prefer the former. That is, He would want us to worship only a God whom we know to exist rather than to worship one who, for all we know, may be an illusory God or even a real devil.
Moreover, it seems to me that even if our freedom to disbelieve in God's existence is removed by compelling proof that He exists, we would still have the freedom to either "accept his authority"--i.e., obey His commands--or not accept it, just as a child who knows that his human father exists can choose to either accept or not accept his authority. Why would it be better for the child to only believe that his father exists and commands him to act in certain ways than it would be to know that he exists and that he issues those commands? Can't the child still choose to accept his father's authority and obey his commands or to not do so?
So, again, why is it better to merely believe that God exists than it is to know that He does? And, it if isn't, why doesn't God "prove his existence"?
In the past two weeks [Palin] has spent her time throwing out tinny lines to crowds she doesn't, really, understand. This is not a leader, this is a follower, and she follows what she imagines is the base, which is in fact a vast and broken-hearted thing whose pain she cannot, actually, imagine. She could reinspire and reinspirit; she chooses merely to excite. She doesn't seem to understand the implications of her own thoughts.
No news conferences? Interviews now only with friendly journalists? You can't be president or vice president and govern in that style, as a sequestered figure. This has been Mr. Bush's style the past few years, and see where it got us. You must address America in its entirety, not as a sliver or a series of slivers but as a full and whole entity, a great nation trying to hold together. When you don't, when you play only to your little piece, you contribute to its fracturing.
In the end the Palin candidacy is a symptom and expression of a new vulgarization in American politics. It's no good, not for conservatism and not for the country. And yes, it is a mark against John McCain, against his judgment and idealism.--Peggy Noonan
Friday, October 17, 2008
However, my subjective impression of the third debate, as it has been of the two previous ones, is that Obama came across as much more presidential in his nuanced understanding of the world, his unflappably calm and self-assured temperament, his pragmatism, his earnestness, and his charismatic vitality. By contrast, McCain came across as doddering, desperate, dismissive, sarcastic, nervous, awkward, overly ideological, and vapid.
I suspect that a growing majority of the American public perceive the two candidates largely the same way and that this, more than philosophical or policy differences, is what's giving Obama his daunting lead in the polls. It's not so much that we think Obama has the better preconceived plans for improving the economy and confronting the innumerable other challenges that face our nation as it is that we believe Obama has the superior intellectual and emotional resources to handle the rigors of the job and solve formidable problems as they arise.
I suspect that this is to what "we the people" are always paying the most attention. Yes, we listen to the candidates discuss and debate their political and economic philosophies and policies, but what we really want to know is who can step into the Oval Office and on to the world stage and best accomplish what a president of the world's most powerful nation needs to for the sake of the nation and the world. And political ideologies and policy proposals are far less predictive of this than are the elusive constellation of qualities that Barack Obama appears to have in abundance and John McCain does not.
Thursday, October 16, 2008
Wednesday, October 15, 2008
I had planned to distill those allegations into a future post. I may still do it. But, in the meantime, I'd like to share with you a video synopsis by the article's author himself of some of its key points. I want to thank my dear friend Tom Armstrong for sending me the link to it.
Tuesday, October 14, 2008
I think Obama's relatively weak but nonetheless real interactions with William Ayers are a legitimate campaign issue. But Obama's best response, after telling the facts of the relationship, is to point out who else supported him. Republican machers Walter and Leonora Annenberg gave the former terrorist $50 million. They also gave money to Rick Santorum, Strom Thurmond and Mitt Romney. Annenberg was Nixon's ambassador to Britain. If Obama is "palling around with terrorists," the Republican Annenbergs are funding them.
Yesterday, the McCain campain put out a press release boasting that Leonore Annenberg had just endorsed him for president. Why is McCain happy to accept the endorsement of a funder of terrorism?
Saturday, October 11, 2008
Another example happened last night. At work, I wear a badge attached to a lanyard. Last night, the lanyard became entangled with my headphones that I use to listen to my Walkman. I spent over ten minutes struggling to untangle them but only made matters worse. I looked at the tangle and tried to figure out how to resolve it, but my brain just couldn't make sense of it. So, at quitting time, I ended up throwing my tangled badge and headphones in my backpack, bringing them home, and asking my wife to untangle the mess.
I could have struggled with it more at home, but I wanted to see how quickly my wife could undo the tangle. She looked at it for no more than a few seconds and took only a few more seconds after that to extricate the headphone cord from the lanyard. It was no problem for her whatsoever. She could instantly "see" how to do it before she began. By contrast, when I'd looked at it, all I could see was a tangle that I had no clue how to resolve, so I tried haphazardly to untangle it and only made it worse.
When I venture outside my comfort zone of narrow routine, this is the sort of thing I deal with constantly. So I've lived a very circumscribed life that has spared me all the wasted time and frustration of trying in vain to untangle life's knots and navigate life's mazes. If I had believed that taking on these challenges more often would make me better at resolving them, I would have done it. But lifelong experience has told me that practice not only doesn't make perfect but seldom results in significant improvement of any kind.
Yet, I'm now trying to disregard voices speaking of the past and focus on creating a different present and future.
Thursday, October 09, 2008
--John McCain from Worth the Fighting For
Dennis Miller thinks John McCain is a "great man," and he's voting for him in the upcoming election. Not because of what McCain's done in the House or Senate, but because he's a "war hero" and a principled man who has selflessly loved and served his country his entire adult life.
No doubt Miller speaks for many McCain supporters. But I wonder how many of them have read Tim Dickinson's Rolling Stone article Make-Believe Maverick. If what that article says about McCain is true, is McCain even close to being the selfless hero and man of principle he and his campaign make him out to be? Or has he been a spoiled, undisciplined, impulsive, tantrum-throwing, narcissistic, self-serving, and venal individual from childhood on?
McCain said during his nomination speech that his POW experience radically transformed him into a man who has put country and principle above himself ever since. But Dickinson's article recounts the following, which, if true, casts McCain's alleged "transformation" in a very different light.
At Fort McNair, an army base located along the Potomac River in the nation's capital, a chance reunion takes place one day between two former POWs. It's the spring of 1974, and Navy commander John Sidney McCain III has returned home from the experience in Hanoi that, according to legend, transformed him from a callow and reckless youth into a serious man of patriotism and purpose. Walking along the grounds at Fort McNair, McCain runs into John Dramesi, an Air Force lieutenant colonel who was also imprisoned and tortured in Vietnam.
McCain is studying at the National War College, a prestigious graduate program he had to pull strings with the Secretary of the Navy to get into. Dramesi is enrolled, on his own merit, at the Industrial College of the Armed Forces in the building next door.
There's a distance between the two men that belies their shared experience in North Vietnam — call it an honor gap. Like many American POWs, McCain broke down under torture and offered a "confession" to his North Vietnamese captors. Dramesi, in contrast, attempted two daring escapes. For the second he was brutalized for a month with daily torture sessions that nearly killed him. His partner in the escape, Lt. Col. Ed Atterberry, didn't survive the mistreatment. But Dramesi never said a disloyal word, and for his heroism was awarded two Air Force Crosses, one of the service's highest distinctions. McCain would later hail him as "one of the toughest guys I've ever met."
On the grounds between the two brick colleges, the chitchat between the scion of four-star admirals and the son of a prizefighter turns to their academic travels; both colleges sponsor a trip abroad for young officers to network with military and political leaders in a distant corner of the globe.
"I'm going to the Middle East," Dramesi says. "Turkey, Kuwait, Lebanon, Iran."
"Why are you going to the Middle East?" McCain asks, dismissively.
"It's a place we're probably going to have some problems," Dramesi says.
"Why? Where are you going to, John?"
"Oh, I'm going to Rio."
"What the hell are you going to Rio for?"
McCain, a married father of three, shrugs.
"I got a better chance of getting laid."
Dramesi, who went on to serve as chief war planner for U.S. Air Forces in Europe and commander of a wing of the Strategic Air Command, was not surprised. "McCain says his life changed while he was in Vietnam, and he is now a different man," Dramesi says today. "But he's still the undisciplined, spoiled brat that he was when he went in."
According to Dramesi, McCain was no more heroic or exceptional as a POW than anyone else. McCain told the North Vietnamese soon after his capture that his father was an Navy admiral so that they would tend to his wounds. He then disclosed to them a variety of other information about his and Navy operations in general, and he turned down a typical offer for early release because, had he accepted it, he would have had to make disloyal statements about America that could have subjected him to condemnation and even court martial when he returned home. As another fellow POW said, "Many of us were given this offer. It meant speaking out against your country and lying about your treatment to the press. You had to 'admit' that the U.S. was criminal and that our treatment was 'lenient and humane.' So I, like numerous others, refused the offer."
The article proceeds to cite many other incidents and details about McCain before and after his POW experience that make him sound to me like one of the last politicians I would want as president. I don't know if all of these things are true, and I suspect that, even if they are, there are also positive things to say about John McCain that Dickinson's article doesn't. But I believe that anyone who supports McCain and, like Dennis Miller, considers him to be a great hero owes it to himself and this nation to read the article and then do some fact-checking before casting his vote for McCain in November.
And if anyone can show me where anything in Make-Believe Maverick is false, I encourage them to do it. So far, I've seen many scathing denunciations of Dickinson's 'contemptible hit-piece,' but I've seen no refutation of what he cites as facts.
Tuesday, October 07, 2008
Sunday, October 05, 2008
There was a time when conservatives lamented the dumbing down of American culture. Preservation of basic standards in schools and workplaces compelled them -- or so they said -- to resist affirmative action for women and minorities. Qualifications mattered; merit mattered; and demagogic appeals for leveling were to be left to the Democrats.
Thursday, October 02, 2008