Friday, October 31, 2008
1. Violation of allegiance toward one's country or sovereign, especially the betrayal of one's country by waging war against it or by consciously and purposely acting to aid its enemies.
2. A betrayal of trust or confidence
1. To differ in opinion or feeling; disagree.
2. To withhold assent or approval.
1. Difference of opinion or feeling; disagreement.
2. The refusal to conform to the authority or doctrine of an established church; nonconformity.
3. Law A justice's refusal to concur with the opinion of a majority, as on a higher court. Also called dissenting opinion.
--The American Heritage Dictionary
There is a rather large difference between treason and dissent, a difference that has been ignored for the past forty years or so; basically, since the conflict in Vietnam, the two have been treated the same. Neither dissent, which must not be punished, nor treason which should be, has been punished since World War II.
Granted, war has not been formally declared since WWII; however, treason is not just aiding and abetting enemies during a time of war. Treason is also aiding and abetting enemies during any time, because we never know when a relatively quiet tension will erupt into full fledged war.
So, what is the difference?
Dissent is when patriotic, conscientious objectors hold peaceful demonstrations to protest the actions of the government. Dissent is when artists, singers, actors, and directors use their craft to demonstrate why they think the actions of the government are wrong. We see this all the time in the United States, and while some wish these protestors would shut up, we all agree that (and are thankful for) these people have the right to express their opinions.
A notable example of dissent through art is the war protest songs of the 1960s. Dylan and others built careers on their disagreement with the government regarding Vietnam. Another notable example, one that’s less acceptable since the opinion was expressed overseas, was the Dixie Chicks’ statement that they were ashamed of being from the same state as the sitting president with whom they disagreed.
The right to dissent without fear of official reprisal is one of the foundations that the United States was built on. Dissent isn’t, should not be, and must never be punished by law…individual choices not to purchase the goods produced by dissenters, however, is its own form of dissent, and should never be forced (as in, the Dixie Chicks’ complaints about their listeners getting so upset that they’ve quit buying albums).
Treason, on the other hand, is something far different. Where dissent is disagreement, treason is betrayal. Betrayal of nation, betrayal of Commander in Chief. Betrayal must be punished, both to prevent the individual from committing treason again, and to deter others from treasonous acts.
There are several notable acts of treason that have been committed, both during Vietnam and during the intervening years. One of the more famous acts of treason that was committed during Vietnam is the photo op with Jane Fonda sitting on a Viet Cong anti-aircraft gun. Or Fonda visiting POW camps, and handing letters home the soldiers passed to her to their Viet Cong jailors—which, by the way, brought about more beatings and torture.
Fonda has never been punished, despite the fact that she clearly gave aid and comfort to the enemy killing our soldiers.
During the Cold War, certain members of our United States senate approached the Soviet Union and offered to sell them intelligence.
More recently, Sean Penn visited Hussein’s Iraq, following in Fonda’s footsteps with regards to spreading enemy propaganda and helping to put our troops in harm’s way.
While actors and senators aiding and abetting the enemies of the United States is bad, actively putting soldiers and civilians alike in harm’s way, the above treasonous acts put the individuals committing them into the category of “useful idiots.” While they have committed the crime, it is, with the exception of Fonda’s involvement with the Viet Cong, on the misdemeanor level. There have been far more serious instances, even more recently, of treasonous acts—the undermining of a sitting president’s international negotiations—committed by a presidential candidate.
Earlier this month, news stories detailing a meeting between one of the presidential candidates and the Iraqi foreign minister alleged that the candidate urged the foreign minister to put off making any sort of deal until the next administration took over.
On the surface, this seems like fairly sound advice: after all, no one knows yet who is going to head the next administration, or what their policies will entail. However, if one reads between the lines, the candidate was implying that he would definitely be the next president, and that his administration would not honor any deals or treaties negotiated by the sitting president.
Clearly, this is an attempt to undermine the sitting Commander in Chief. Clearly, this falls under both definitions of “treason.” This should not—must not—be tolerated.
And that man, Barack Hussein Obama, should be disbarred from the presidential race, removed from the senate, and punished for his crime to the fullest extent of the law.
However, it’s certain that he will not be held accountable for his treasonous act.
Thursday, October 30, 2008
Florida's experiencing record lows, as well.
Ironically, London had a snowstorm during a parliamentary debate over global warming legislation--the first October snowstorm since 1922.
Switzerland had a record snowstorm that briefly delayed the trains. According to their records, which stretch back to 1931, this snowstorm dumped the most of any October snowstorm, beating out the previous record of 14 cm, set in 1939, by 6 cm. To those of us that still use the old systems of measurements, they received 8 inches of snow.
The next time someone, other than one of my students who don't know any better, suggests that we need to "stop global warming before the flooding from rising ocean levels kills us all," I am going to slap the snot out of them.
I hate winter.
Tuesday, October 28, 2008
Somehow, an order to remain inside the home with exterior lights off and a "No Candy Here" sign posted is too vague to be enforceable. And the judge in question who so ruled really had to stretch to find anything to rule against, too.
Of course, Missouri is appealing the decision, but Halloween is only a few days away. There may not be time to get it overturned.
Watch for little kids getting hurt as a result of that judge's decision to treat the offender as a victim, and the potential victims as meaningless.
By climate change, he means human caused global warming.
Unless he's defining "warming" as "temperatures dropping" in a case of Orwellian double-think, he's way out of touch.
I don't think we're looking at warming. I don't think that's what's causing near record cold and early snow in the Carolinas, and early nor'easters combining with the lake effect to put snow on the ground from Pennsylvania to New York.
However, while the global warming comment undeniably makes him an idiot, it's claiming that it's a bigger crisis than the economic problems that puts him past idiot into "Oh God, how can he breathe on his own with a brain that tiny?" territory.
Granted, I know I'm a bit nation-centric where global policy is concerned, but the world's economies really are linked with ours. And when our consumer confidence is in a flat dive to the point that oil prices are falling on projected demand despite OPEC's continuous threats to cut production, and experts are saying that the worst may be yet to come--for the whole world--Prince Charles looks like an even bigger idiot.
Well, duh. Religion gives us a set of rules, of moral absolutes of right and wrong. It's when we abandon the absolutes--when we turn toward moral relativism--that we have events like this.
Occasionally, one religion's moral absolutes are in opposition to another's. For example, the Christian bible says "But whoever is a cause of trouble to one of these little ones who have faith in me, it would be better for him to have a great stone fixed to his neck, and to come to his end in the deep sea." I can think of nothing that causes more trouble to children than sexual abuse; however, Muslims see things differently, often marrying prepubescent or barely pubescent girls, and consummating by force.
The Christian religion says "Thou shalt not kill;" Islam justifies killing unbelievers in the name of Allah, and promises paradise for any who die in jihad.
However. Despite these clashes, both Christians and Muslims are directed to care for the poor. The devout of both religions do--there is no one more charitable than a truly faithful Muslim or Christian, because such is the way to heaven, and their God is watching. No one is less likely to commit a crime than one who believes his or her God is watching and judging their actions.
No one feels guilt more intensely than someone who's done wrong while their God is watching. Thus, while guilt avoidance is the motivator for good works, nothing prompts individuals to feel it more than a strong belief in religion. After all, when moral absolutes are what the individual feels bound by, there is no higher authority than one's God.
Monday, October 27, 2008
Friday, October 24, 2008
Levitican law, for the most part, is directly related to hygiene and health; however, there are some odd laws that, when compared with others, don't seem to make as much sense. For instance, it dictates to the Jews that they are not to boil the flesh of a lamb in the milk of its mother.
Yes, it seems a bit out of place amongst laws such as the one forbidding individuals from touching corpses without elaborate cleansing rituals that, upon modern analysis, are nothing more than elaborate isolation and decontamination. If one only looks at the practical.
In fact, the God of the Hebrews was setting up something entirely new: a culture that valued life. This culture of life is what shaped all Judeo-Christian cultures in general, and Western cultures in specific.
I can think of one major illustration of the effects of the Judeo-Christian/Western culture of life: modern health care. The health care system in the United States, in specific, is a major illustration of the difference between the culture of life, and what I will term the culture of death: basically, a culture that doesn't value life--the opposite of what the odder laws in Leviticus were trying to set up.
Modern American health care systems are dedicated to preserving life, and the quality of life. It's here that research is done that permits new cancer-fighting treatments to be developed, that permits new life-extending therapeutic drugs (such as cholesterol medications, high blood pressure medications, anti-senility medications, etc.) to be developed, that permits treatments for terminal illnesses (such as HIV/AIDS) to be developed. Our doctors and hospitals, though expensive, are some of the best in the world. Our Intensive Care Units have an extremely high survival rate. Our Neo-natal Intensive Care Units have developed resources to save the lives of infants that certainly would have died as few as ten years ago--infants born with heart defects, lung problems, or simply too early to have survived. In fact, our NICUs can offer babies born as early as 23 weeks--that's a little less than six months' gestation--a 50% chance of survival.
It's here, in the United States, and in modern health care and hospitals, that we can see the sharpest differentiation between the culture of life and the culture of death.
Some states have passed assisted suicide laws: laws permitting doctors to euthanize terminally ill patients that request it. Many doctors refuse to perform such a "service," but are required to refer their patients to a doctor that will in the name of "quality of life." In other words, since the terminally ill patient has no chance at survival (at least, in their opinion, and with current medical technology), and they're in pain, their life is no longer worth living. They prefer to "die with dignity."
Those states illustrate one aspect of the culture of death. In fact, they lag behind some countries in Europe, where the terminally ill patient and their families are not consulted before the doctor euthanizes the patient. Typically, these nations have "single-payer health care" systems, where the more expensive to treat patients seldom get the treatment they need because of the expense.
In 1973, a law was passed that permitted a woman to have an abortion at her discretion--basically, infanticide before the baby is even outside of the womb. Of course, most of the time, the baby is perfectly healthy. The "quality of life" that matters in this case is that of the woman who chose to have sex, and doesn't want to live with the consequences.
Sometimes, the baby survives the procedure. In those cases, depending on the state, the hospital or clinic, the doctors, and (sometimes) the woman, the living baby is left to die, even though it's entirely possible that the baby could survive with prompt, or even not-so-prompt, NICU medical assistance. Sometimes, the baby is left exposed on cold tile floors until he or she simply freezes to death. Sometimes they're deliberately murdered by the doctor performing the abortion.
Some states have passed laws that ensure that if a baby does survive, and could survive with treatment, that treatment must not be withheld. The federal government has passed similar laws, despite the opposition of those that don't want to burden the woman who carried the baby with a child. Some of the opposition believe that, since the woman paid for a dead baby, she should get the dead baby she paid for.
The states that permit the unwanted babies to be left to die still lag behind many countries in Europe which refuse treatment to premature infants born earlier than 27-30 weeks, wanted or unwanted, because they're too expensive to treat.
The differences between the culture of life and the culture of death are nowhere so starkly illustrated as between the United States and Europe, and between the Western cultures and the rest of the world. The sharpest, most poignant illustration is in how we care for our sick, and our helpless. The most rewarding illustration is heroic efforts of the NICU staffs to ensure survival of as many babies as they can, and to improve the survival rate in the United States for infants born so very early.
I'm thankful to live in the United States, and in a Christian conservative area in the Midwest. Though I've been thankful for that all of my life, my gratitude increased with the premature birth of my son, and his subsequent excellent care in our local hospital's NICU. If he'd been born in certain parts of the world, he wouldn't have survived the nearly three weeks he's been alive outside the womb, much less thrived as much as he has. I have the Judeo-Christian culture of life to thank for that, and God to thank for setting it up nearly four thousand years ago.
Until I read the article. Then I found out that he doesn't see what he did wrong--he's only parroting leftist talking points that he'd assumed the market would work, and wrongly opposed regulatng it.
At least he also said that "onerous regulation" would have stifled the unprecedented growth we've seen over the past couple of decades.
Wednesday, October 22, 2008
Granted, the daugher is 17 years old, but I'd bet that this was the first time she got caught, not the first time it happened.
Tuesday, October 21, 2008
Last time I checked, neither word was a code for "black." All calling Obama "skinny" meant is that, in a nation where the majority is overweight or obese, he stands out because he's, well, skinny. Socialist is a bit more negative, though: a socialist is a communist is an anti-capitalist. Calling Obama socialist is naming his policies, not his color, despite the examples cited in the Diuguid piece.
I hate to say it, but each and every one of the black activists named in that piece were socialist, to some extent; some were downright communist. Calling them socialist had nothing to do with their color, nor their desire for equality, but had everything to do with their "from each according to his abilities, to each according to his needs" politics.
Monday, October 20, 2008
I have a suggestion.
After America won Independence, we faced an issue from which we'd been sheltered before, first by the British navy, then, during the war, the French: the pirates of the Barbary Coast. The pirates demanded a yearly payment, or else they'd take ships for ransome, or maybe sell their crews into slavery.
From the first, Jefferson advocated fighting: he attempted to put together America's first coallition of the willing to take on the pirates. He failed, not least because America's presidents prefered to pay the tribute.
In short, once Jefferson got into office, he carried out his plan unilaterally: he sent our navy to the Barbary Coast to rescue the sailors from a taken vessel, which had been burned by one of its officers rather than allow it to fall into the pirates' hands. The marines aboard fought hard, and all the way to the palace in the middle of town (hence, the line, "to the shores of Tripoli" in the Marine's Hymn).
Thus, the threat to American shipping was broken.
Thus, someone should do with (and to) the Somali pirates.
Heh. Good luck getting that done.
I'll believe that when I believe that the government is the best agency to do anything underbudget, on time, or with any type of efficiency.
Actually, on second though, I'm willing to believe that they mean what they say, for now. I think they'd rather mess with us in our own back yard. They are, and have been for a while, selling arms to Venezuela, a nation hostile to us, in a bid to use Chavez as a puppet, and Venezuela as a proxy to keep some safe distance between their poor troops and equipment and us, since we have more than just an edge on them in quality.
Unfortunately for us, their military does outnumber ours, and so does their political will to use that military. As Stalin said, and Hitler learned, "Quantity has a quality all of its own." Once they build up their confidence a bit, I look for an actual, full-on attack, either against our troops overseas, or actually against us, here at home.
I'm sure they've already noticed we don't really have the political will to stand up to them.
Saturday, October 18, 2008
President Bush claimed, yesterday, that the government isn't moving toward nationalizing banks. What else would he call it, when the government buys preferred stock in the failing banks? I'm sure the government meant well, but the law of unintended consequences is already active: the richest tennis player in the world, Roger Federer, joked about taking his money and putting it in his mattress. I wouldn't be surprised if he'd been only half joking.
Consumer spending has been spiraling down for months, now, between the housing crunch starting and gas and oil prices driving up production and transportation costs driving up the prices for the goods consumers have to have. With consumers hanging onto their money, and credit becoming harder and harder to come by, prices are starting to free-fall in more than just the stock market as manufacturers and sellers drop prices again and again to try to get some cash flowing. Experts may not see a problem, but most consumers aren't experts, and they're terrified.
Business spending is also falling. As the money dries up for investors, they in turn become less willing to invest in new small business ventures. Housing continues to slow--only the slowdown isn't limited to sales any longer. New construction is falling off, leaving contractors unemployed.
There is one bright spot, though tax experts (wrongly) fear that it could cost more than it could save: the IRS and Treasury Department have rolled back some of the tax code that's been driving businesses out of the United States. Granted, they'd be right about it costing too much, were it not that lower taxes brings about companies re-investing what they save in taxes into new infrastructure, and new employees. This helps profits to rise, rapidly, which in a short period of time brings in higher tax revenue than did the higher tax codes.
Hopefully, this could be enough to stave off the mass of jobs that will be lost when the minimum wage increase hits in January, raising the costs of doing business. Honestly, if the government really wanted to help, they'd suspend the minimum wage increase, if not cut minimum wage, then stay out of the way until the crisis solves itself.
Friday, October 17, 2008
Thursday, October 16, 2008
Wednesday, October 15, 2008
Tuesday, October 14, 2008
Monday, October 13, 2008
Saturday, October 11, 2008
Friday, October 10, 2008
Tuesday, October 7, 2008
I'll get back to my usual format, but with a slightly reduced production rate, as soon as I can. In the meantime, I've got other, more important, things to worry about than the greater world around me.
Honestly, we've seen the deflation hit the housing market--hard--already. We shouldn't be surprised to see its ugly head popping up elsewhere.
Deflation was one of the two real kickers in the Great Depression. The other, as I've said before, was Hoover's failing policies carried out to their logical extreme by FDR, who has long been known, wrongly, for pulling this country out of the Great Depression. As I've linked before, it was some of his policies that made it last as long as it did.
I think the bailout bill which was just railroaded through is going to do for us what Hoover's and Roosevelt's policies did in the thirties, if not worse with the current loads of unsecured credit card and other debt that most Americans carry.
Between domestic issues--the economy, the social issues that've split the nation, energy policy, etc.--and foreign issues in the Middle East, Europe, and the resurgent Russia, we're looking at some of the more interesting times that any of us have seen in living memory, or studied in history. And when I say "interesting times," I mean in the ancient Chinese curse sense of the term.
Welcome to the world, son. It's going to be an interesting ride, and I'm sorry we had such bad timing in bringing you into it.
Saturday, October 4, 2008
Phoenix, one of the major sanctuary cities in the United States, has a major violent crime problem. The county's prosecutor has revealed statistics that demonstrate that illegal immigrants do commit a good portion of the crime in the county. Since his statistics are county wide, we can assume that Phoenix's numbers are much higher than the numbers cited in the story; however, with the mayor's policy forbidding police from inquiring into immigration status in arrests, we cannot be sure how much higher.
What these sanctuary cities attempt to sweep under the rug is the types they provide sanctuary for: the newest, most dangerous gang bangers currently in the United States. These are the same gangs run by the drug cartels committing murders in Mexico, as well as bribing the Mexican military to get their people and drugs across our borders.
With the economy faltering, though, and the money pool shrinking, there are enough fewer hardworking illegals who've come for a better life that city politicians will not long be able to justify their foolish, short-sighted, dangerous policies.
Almost immediately after the bailout was passed, the market began to drop. Before the end of the day, it went from being up by a few percentage points across the board to down by a couple. I don't know if it was news of what-all was put into the spending bill, being told how much the bailout would cost, news about the unemployment rate, or something else entirely, but the market had one of the worst weeks since September 11, 2001.
Now, and only now, economists are telling us that the bailout won't work unless the housing market stabilizes.
Remember that when it comes time to re-elect state representatives and senators. Also remember that it took a majority Democrat congress for President Bush to pass the mess we're now saddled with. And last, remember that this will cost each household a minimum of $17,064 if this were fairly apportioned across every household in the United States--which it won't be.
Sometimes the "do nothing" option is the best one there is.
In other ways, it feels like they've bent us over something without even having taken us to dinner and a movie first. And they aren't planning to use lubricant, either.
Friday, October 3, 2008
If there’s anything I’ve learned from my study of history, it’s that we’re doomed to repeat it. Over and over again. We, as a species, have a unique capacity to learn from our mistakes. We, as a species, are wasting that capacity.
I have a couple of specific instances in mind that we really should have learned from:
Let’s start with appeasement. In 1937, Neville Chamberlain became Prime Minister of Britain. He faced a Hitler, belligerent and drunk with power granted him by the people of
Even then, what Chamberlain attempted to do was negotiate a deal where Hitler wouldn’t go for the rest of
In August of this year, not long after I started this blog,
I predict that we’re seeing a similar resurgence of Russian power just as
Second, recent studies have postulated that the Great Depression of the 1930’s lasted a good several years longer than it should have, and that there is one, previously irreproachable, suspect for why it did: FDR’s New Deal policies.
Judging by the current legislation passed and signed into law today, we have learned no more from this than we did from Hitler’s invasion of the
Many different philosophers have commented on how those who ignore history are doomed to repeat it. Several science fiction authors have commented on—or written sagas illustrating—the same concept. Unfortunately, science fiction is rather a niche market, with the serious science fiction (as opposed to pulp sci-fi like Star Trek or its clones) tending to be the only ones willing to listen to and learn the lessons history has to teach.
Here’s hoping we can learn to learn from our mistakes before we face repeated wholesale destructions of civilization as chronicled in Walter Miller's novel of repeated nuclear holocaust and rebuilt civilizations, A Canticle for Leibowitz.