Archive for December, 2004

Short Changed Again!

Friday, December 31st, 2004

An open letter to Clare Short, Member of Parliament.

I read your comments regarding President Bush\’s plans to organize relief for the victims of the tsunami through the governments of the US, Japan, India and Australia. You indicated that \”only the UN\” has the moral authority to act. Perhaps you are unaware of the oil for food scandal. Perhaps you are unaware of the UN\’s complete failures during other recent humanitarian crises (Rwanda and Dharfur to name two). Any objective observer would have to conclude that the UN is a corrupt, inept institution. Even if this were not so, how is it that anyone could criticize the US government\’s (or any government for that matter) willingness to help people in need? The United States and its people have always been there to assist the victims of disaster, even to the degree of feeding sworn enemies (North Korea as one example). Your own nation has greatly benefited from the blood, sweat and toil of the American people. Should we have left \”Lend Lease\” to the League of Nations?

Gratitude

Wednesday, December 29th, 2004

As I consider the nearly countless advantages belonging to those fortunate enough to be living on the earth at this time, I continue to be overwhelmed by the remarkable circumstances in which we find ourselves. We can argue how long man has been on the earth and we can debate his origins. We can get in some good verbal volleys about the existence of God and the purpose of man’s existence. We might disagree in all of our respective opinions concerning the religious and philosophical underpinnings of the human experience, but with some things there can be no disagreement.

Throughout most of human history, the relatively little amount of information that was available to the inquiring mind could travel no faster than a horse could gallop or the wind could blow. Few people had the time to cultivate an inquiring mind, necessity requiring instead the cultivation of the plot of land (their own or someone else’s) that provided them the very barest of their simple fare. Chinese takeout was not an option, even to the Chinese. The average person toiled from dawn to dusk simply to bring food into their hewn-log hovel or their dark adobe abode. As a reward for their interminable labors they were blessed with an average of 33 years of life-struggle, barely enough time to imagine grandchildren and certainly not time enough to enjoy them.

Fashionable wardrobe was anything that kept a person warm, even though it might have also provided shelter for some of creation’s smaller creatures. Entertainment was limited and was more frequently the result of an anomalous circumstance or an accident (a la America’s Funniest Home Videos, minus the videos, the prizes, oohs, ahhs, and applause). There were a few people who could play an instrument but you couldn’t always call it music. Having to listen to the jug band tuning up or endlessly enduring even an expert on the bagpipes might have been considered more an atonement for some forgotten transgression than an opportunity to enjoy the artist’s musical expression. It may have been the source of some depression or the proximate cause of an indiscretion, or a puny excuse for my digression————uh, sorry!

I return to the point that we are fortunate to be living in the most incredible time in all of human history. One could argue that people in all the ages might have said the same thing about their time but if those people were to miraculously rearrive in mortality in our day, could they possibly disagree with this conclusion? Even though much of the world’s population lives in circumstances we in the Western World would consider archaic, their humble existences have nevertheless been positively impacted by continually evolving modern technologies. These good souls mired in third world pallor may never have made a phone call or flown in a airplane or watched TV but the food and the medicine that have spared countless lives in the places they call home landed in their midst as a result of their televised plight and the phone calls of others which unleashed the crystallized goodwill of citizens in lands more materially blessed.

We witness the catastrophe on the shores of the Bay of Bengal and we are moved by compassion to take immediate action. Aid is flowing into these devastated areas with a speed and efficiency not previously known. In another time, not distant, most of the world would have been completely unaware of the disaster and unable to respond if and when word reached the outside world. As tragic as the deaths of tens of thousands is, the final toll would ultimately be much higher without modern transportation modes expeditiously employed in rescue and relief operations.

Technology has changed our world in wondrous ways. The knowledge available to the average citizen of an industrialized nation has increased to a degree nearly unquantifiable when compared to 100 (or even 20) years ago, or when compared to what is available to the average member of an agrarian culture. We have much to be grateful for. King Solomon in all his wisdom and with all his wealth would be envious of nearly anyone alive today.

As we arrive at the close of 2004 and look forward to 2005, it is well that we take stock of our favorable circumstances, that we appropriately offer our gratitude to the God that made us, for the opportunity to live at this time and in this place, and for the talents with which we meet the challenges of our day.

Congratulations

Monday, December 27th, 2004

This is a copy of the letter I sent to the government and people of Ukraine.

\”As a free citizen of the United States, I offer my heartfelt congratulations to the people of Ukraine for their victory over those who would maintain the tyrannical status quo. The rights of free people to govern themselves are essential for the peace, prosperity, and happiness of any nation and its citizens. Your willingness to work and to sacrifice for this freedom is a great example to all people the world over.

As a student of history I greatly appreciate the deeper significance and purpose of the Orange Revolution. Now the real work of economic and cultural reform begins, but remember two very important things; first, freedom presupposes the right to do wrong. Some will abuse their freedom causing reactionary forces to be critical of the process, but the failures of individuals are not to be laid at freedom\’s feet. Also, the good that people do cannot be credited to them as truly good unless they are free to choose the good. A person forced to do something, even a good thing, will never receive the full value for that act, having been coerced rather than acting upon his own free will. These are the blessings and the curse of freedom. Your nation will experience both in the course of constructing freedom\’s foundation.

Freedom is not free. It has a price; a price you are obviously willing to pay. With faith and focus you will succeed. Remember that you have an ally in the American people. Do not hesitate to call upon us collectively or individually. We can offer more than our prayers, but in the larger picture our prayers are perhaps the most valuable things we can offer. Again, Congratulations to the Ukrainian People and their new leader, President Yushchenko!\”

Merry Christmas!!

Saturday, December 25th, 2004

Merry Christmas dear reader! It is my wish, hope and prayer that you and your family will experience the peace that comes through Christ. \”God is not the author of confusion, but of peace.\” 1 Corinthians 14:13. \”Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you.\” John 14:27.

There is no burden heavier than the burdern of guilt born of sin. Christ came to earth to atone for the sins of all men and to relieve them of this awful burden. \”My yoke is easy and my burden is light.\” Matthew 11:30.

I know these things to be true. I have experienced the joy and peace available through Christ\’s atonement, His life, ministry, example, and His victory over death. These blessings are available to all. If the pursuit of pleasure has left an aching void in your heart and soul, come unto Christ. Merry Christmas!

Rumsfeld

Wednesday, December 22nd, 2004

The criticism of Donald Rumsfeld reveals yet again the hypocrisy of liberal, agenda-driven journalists and their complicity with the Democrat Party; those who are really responsible for the intelligence failures that led to 9-11 and other terrorist attacks, and the people who gutted our military and its capabilities during the 90’s. I can make this claim without fear of being accused of partisanship. I have never been a member of the Republican or Democrat Party (or any other party for that matter). Anyone who objectively reviews the facts cannot escape the same conclusion.

The Church Committee (Sen. Frank Church, Democrat of Idaho) significantly hindered the work of the CIA back in the early 70\’s. Please look it up if you doubt it. Where was the ACLU and its demands for separation of Church and State at that time? Have our problems with terrorists increased since then? In the mid-90\’s, Disgraced former Sen. Robert Toricelli, carrying the torch and the water for the Clinton Administration, finished the job that Church began, successfully neutering the CIA for years, if not decades to come. Have our problems with terrorists significantly increased since then? Again, check it out if you don’t believe it.

Clinton and his pals made no effort to disguise their disdain for the military and they harmed our fighting forces worse than any foreign enemy ever could. Not only did they use the US Military as a social experiment, they used individual Soldiers, Marines, Sailors and Airmen in undignified ways in an effort to put them in their place. Hillary’s use of the military guard at the White House as servants and waiters was particularly telling of the Clinton Administration’s attitude toward our troops. Clinton is widely known to have stated that he “loathed� the military.

In Draconian fashion, the Clintons and their allies on the Hill slashed the defense budget dramatically and redirected these funds to numerous domestic programs. Again, don’t just take my word for it. And not all that money was well-spent. As far as we know, there is still nearly $40 Billion missing from the Department of Education. It just vanished without a trace. Is it perhaps commingled with Arafat’s and Saddam’s billions in some Swiss account? (And while we are asking, is this Swiss account thing the reason the UN maintains such a large presence in Geneva?)

The bottom line is this; the Dems have a verbal contract out on Rumsfeld in order to hurt the Bush Administration. They are certainly not taking out their inherent hostilities against the terrorists our troops are fighting. They remain true to their habit of attacking people and things that are decent and true. They have issued the talking points to their lackeys at the Times and the networks. But as with the Kerry candidacy, just because they are selling doesn’t mean we are buying. As consumers of political doctrine and propaganda we must be aware, or beware. Send an email, make a call, or mail a letter of support for Secretary Rumsfeld. That would be an appropriate response to the unconscionable attacks he has suffered from the left and bereft wing of this nation\’s political spectrum.

Keep Your Friends Close

Thursday, December 16th, 2004

You’ll recall the old line, \”keep your friends close and your enemies closer.â€? This is one of the few valid reasons for maintaining US membership in the United Nations and the only valid reason for keeping the UN in NYC. As bad as the situation is, can you imagine what mischief these people would get up to if they were domiciled anywhere else, say Beijing, Cairo, Moscow, Melbourne, Madrid, Mombassa, New Delhi, Berlin, Sao Paulo, Johannesburg, Geneva (it gets worse), Riyadh, Quebec, or Paris????

There is truly no better place for this wholly unholy convocation of disparate and desperate regimes, this largely wretched refuse, than in the capital of the world, New York. Sure, the delegates have amassed a mountain of unpaid (and uncollectible) parking tickets, the fines for which would fund most other municipalities’ annual budgets. And sometimes the delegates and their respective staff behave most contemptibly, and sure, they frequently spy on us, and more often that not they vote against our interests, but better they do this here, right? At least we can more easily “ride herd� and keep tabs on them in their present location on the East River, than if they were headquartered further East (although the Bermuda Triangle could work very well as a permanent solution).

The UN is simply another good idea gone bad; another spawn of the law of unintended consequences; another self-perpetuating and unaccountable bureaucracy with a bloated budget and a dubious mission and purpose; a debatable debating society comprised of the rabble from Babel; a disorganized organization riddled with corruption and greedy self-interest of the variety that the institution itself was created to prevent.

The UN is, and has long been a disgrace. It rubs most Americans the wrong way because it is un-American in nearly every way. Our tax dollars fund the lion’s share of the UN budget but the slinking jackals that skulk behind the blue banner treat this nation more like a wounded wildebeest. Although, we (and the world) could be far better served by this unwieldy institution, we are better off hosting the party than by kicking all the power-inebriated guests out into the street where they might do some real harm. Now, at least, we can keep them in a state of quasi electronic house arrest. Considering the difficulties we face in the world today, that’s about as much as we can reasonably hope for.

Words

Saturday, December 11th, 2004

We all spend a great deal of time rearranging words; pushing the big ones against the walls, hanging the adverbs in the gaps, dusting off the adjectives like artifacts and repositioning them amidst the other knick-knacks and bric-a-brac. Thinking (as opposed to inspiration, which is like moving into a furnished house) is the process of choosing your words and terms, dragging them around the room, stopping and stepping back for a moment, massaging the chin between thumb and forefinger, affixing a fleet glance, then reaching forward to adjust the angles. Thought, or self-talk, is the constant process of literal interior decoration and redecoration varying in sophistication from “hmmm� to “gotta reproduce� (or something similar) to “get food� to “time is but an arbitrary creation of linear technology�.

There aren’t many new words with which to create a new thought. Nanotechnology is a new word. A nanometer is a billionth of a meter, so we are talking “small�! When Steve Martin asked if anyone wanted to “get small�, he hadn’t anticipated smallness in terms of nano. Robin Williams may have been closing in on the concept with “nanu� but we will probably never know for certain.

Many words have been redefined or have had meanings recently added to them. Props are no longer simply the ornaments of the stage, the things which hold other things erect, or the gyrating, twisted lengths of wood that pull airplanes through the heavens, but it comes now to also mean kudos (which itself was newly added to the English lexicon in the 19th century and means the same thing in singular or plural).

Of the nearly 500,000 words that exist in the English language, the average American uses an average of 400 words, and far fewer with regularity. And with these 400 words (give or take a few), millions of books, more millions of essays, hundreds of millions of theme papers, billions of newspaper and magazine articles, zillions of song lyrics, quintillions of poems, and far too many blogs (including perhaps this one) have all been uniquely composed by simply rearranging these few words into patterns not previously organized. The only thing more amazing than this is the nearly limitless number of original musical scores of every genre derived from a mere handful of notes. The Austrian Emperor in the movie “Amadeusâ€? complained that one of Mozart’s pieces contained “too many notesâ€?. The reality is that Wolfgang didn’t use too many notes; he simply used the few notes available a large number of times. If we are amazed by the vast universe of thoughts and ideas emanating from so few words, consider this; in the world of knitting (which matters to all the fashion conscious among us, and those who simply like to stay warm), every pattern ever created is derived from just two stitches, the knit and the pearl. These words will be further rearranged when digitally translated and transmitted utilizing a mere two numbers; \”1\” and \”0\”. Further back along the amazing chain that links us to our essence, we find that everything is composed of particals that make nano seem big, but that is another story.

Besides being best known for losing her head and for uttering the highly impolitic remark credited for creating the clamor for her beheading; that being “Let them eat cake�, Marie Antoinette was also purported to be the source of a surprising pearl of wisdom. She is quoted as having remarked that “There is nothing new except that which has been forgotten.� Even a broken clock is right twice a day, right? Still, it must be true that truth has always been with us otherwise it would not be truth, would it? No matter the manner in which the words are merged, if truth is there, it will emerge. It may be the same truth others use other words to describe, but it will still be truth.

Some believe that truth has less to do with what we know than in how we act or behave. “And the Word was made Flesh, and dwelt among us.� “He that doeth truth cometh to the Light.� Whether we use many words or few, whether we use them properly or like Archie Bunker, whether we think them, speak them, or write them, the important thing is that they convey truth and that we translate that truth into action.

Is there a truth you are attempting to elude in order to maintain your favorite sins? George Carlin frequently joked about yielding to temptation and committing the sin he had been thinking about, employing the logic that if he was already guilty of a sin by virtue of merely thinking about, say adultery, that he might as well go ahead and do it if he was already hell-bound. It was a funny joke, but funny only in the sense that humor is often generated by inconsistency and incongruity. Still, whether he intended or not, he brought a critical point to light; that thinking and doing are essentially the same.

Christ, in speaking of the Law of Moses, and of the Seventh Commandment in particular, said in essence, you were told of old not to commit adultery but I am telling you not to even think about it, “that whosoever looketh upon a woman with lust in his heart hath committed adultery with her already in his heart�. According to Christ, thought and deed are ultimately the same. This should be instructive of how we ought to order our thoughts; how we arrange and rearrange our words.

\”The soul is dyed the color of its thoughts.\”
-Hericlitus

“For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he.“
-Proverbs 23:7

\”By faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the Word of God——\”
-Hebrews 11:3

\”Whatever is true is part of our religion\”
-Brigham Young

Why Believe Joe Biden?

Monday, December 6th, 2004

Joe Biden is an admitted plagiarist. Plagiarism is literal (and literary) thoughtlessness. Anyone who takes someone else\’s words and work and claims them for his own has no reason to expect that anyone should take him at his word. He is entitled to his opinion (if it really is his opinion) but we are entitled to question the validity of anything he says. In fact, we would be foolish not to. Would you leave your Rolex (or even your Casio) lying around when your kleptomaniac cousin comes to visit?

In Biden\’s most recent act of thoughtlessness, he offers an assessment of the Iraq War (criticisms that sound borrowed from the pre-election Democrat spin machine) in which he has again proven himself to be untrustworthy; an assessment that tells us much more about him than about the circumstances he would have us consider. Even if what he says is true, why give the enemy aid and comfort by making such unprofitable public pronouncements? If what he says is true he should be discussing these issues privately with those who can legitimately address them.

Maybe he is planning another run for the White House (now that his plugs have grown in) and he has observed how well Kerry\’s near-treasonous Vietnam comments played among the Lefties who apparently select the Democratic nominee. His “yuck-it-upâ€? style would be a welcome contrast to that of the last contender, but surely the good people of Delaware are weary of his shtick by now and they will hopefully send this, this —–person into long-deserved retirement at the earliest possible moment. How close is Delaware to the Catskills?

We hold These Truths

Saturday, December 4th, 2004

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness.�

Self-evident? What does this mean? Does it still have a meaning in our relativistic world?

We live in an age of air-brushed beauties, of breast and penile implants. Sluggers on illegal performance enhancing drugs drive juiced balls out of the park. The chief executive of the land commits perjury with impunity and builds a monument to himself to further bury the truth. A significant number of members of a major world-wide religion teach and preach hatred toward their neighbors and export violence and death to those who decry the hypocrisy they display. Movies and TV fill the screens with special effects and other affectations to further blur the faded line separating fact from fancy. Wit has overtaken wisdom as a quality to be admired. Altered states of consciousness are preferred to sober reflection. Drinking beer will make you attractive to air-brushed beauties with breast implants.

So, what is truth? Is it still self-evident? Or do I miss the point? Should all these fake and phony things simply be adjudged to be legitimate pursuits of happiness? Maybe that’s it. Has our Creator granted us the Liberty to use our Life in the sole and simple pursuit of Happiness? If this is the truth to which we hold; that happiness can be pursued into the realms of the unreal, what does this say about the quality of the resulting happiness? Will it be just as fake and phony? Is it more akin to pleasure than say, to joy? It is worth considering. Does the fragile condom that allegedly makes pleasure safe, actually diminish the sought after pleasure? Will those who supply the flesh for the flesh trade also deliver the love?

The truth is, those young and lovely airbrushed beauties will only be attracted to me if they are drinking beer. The truth is, pleasure isn’t happiness and happiness isn’t joy. Happiness and joy are not the fruits of phony pursuits.

The Liberty we have been granted by our Creator was designed as a test. A wise man once noted that there can be no righteousness without freedom. One must be free to choose whether or not to be righteous. Being forced to do the “right thing� carries no reward. The freedom we enjoy in this land naturally presupposes the right to do wrong. This is the blessing and burden of freedom.

Productivity

Friday, December 3rd, 2004

We have heard much hollering about the “outsourcing� of jobs. Some seem to believe that this is the cause of a reduction in high-paying jobs here in the US economy. This makes for good rhetoric and average political theatre, but it is probably not so. Some jobs may have fled, it is true, but not many. Look at the many other industrial nations whose unemployment rates are higher than our own. If they are taking our jobs, why are their jobs’ numbers not improving? Certainly, there is a continuing general globalization and dove-tailing of economies taking place in most of the world, and with that comes some work force re-deployment, but not enough to get worked up about. The truth is this; we have arrived at the outskirts of a destination we have long-anticipated. We are beginning to experience a saturation point in labor saving technologies in the industrialized nations of the world that may be heralding our arrival at Leisure Lane, at long last.

Remember when we Boomers were kids and our teachers told us that one of our futures’ great questions would be “what will I do with the excess of leisure time created by advent of the robotic age?�, or something akin to that? (Some people thought the great question we would all be asking is “would you like fries with that?�) This may be that time and place. Remember also that no one promised we would have money enough to appreciate this fact, however. We may simply be the victims of our own successes.

There can be no question that America is the most productive nation in the history of the world, and that Americans are unquestionably the most creative, most productive, the most effective people to ever populate the planet. There are the visible exceptions, of course; the irresponsible and undisciplined are among us, but these are noticeable in the same way “news� is noticeable. News is all about the anomalous; the exceptions to the norm. Plane crashes are news. Planes that land safely are not. If plane crashes were not the exception, it is probable that flight would still be the exclusive province of birds and winged insects. The point is this; the vast majority of Americans are anxiously engaged, in a host of ways, in the pursuit of building a brighter tomorrow (and the consequential generation of tax revenues for the bureaucratic class who are unfortunately not as anomalous as the aforementioned undisciplined among us).

Our technology has allowed each of us to greatly enhance our abilities to be more productive. The cell phone I use permits contact with clients whether I am at my desk or out of state. Word processing capabilities greatly magnify our talents and disguise our deficiencies. Computers; Instantaneous communication technologies; Robotics; High speed transportation; Climate control; Fast food in its multiple forms; all these enhancements and more provide the average person the opportunity to be two or three times more productive than our hard-working forefathers, generations of whom labored with their able children in the fields from dawn to dusk. Of course, many of these technological advances also provide distraction-potential sufficient to negate all the advantages named. (It is rather reminiscent of the cynic in the classic film “Picture of Dorian Gray� who proclaimed that “A woman will inspire a man to do great things, and then spend the rest of her life preventing him from achieving those same lofty goals.�) It all still boils down to a matter of individual choice but by and large, Americans continue to pursue and accomplish to the point where our world would be virtually unrecognizable (for better and for worse) to nearly everyone who lived on the planet before 1900.

Some people needlessly fret over today’s global economy. Economies have always been global to a certain degree. In what is now one nation, once existed many nations; some trading flint for corn, others buffalo hides for plant dyes, others smoked salmon for flint. Obsidian tools and arrowheads were found thousands of miles from any possible natural source for that sharp, dark, opaque substance. The only explanation for this is extra-national trading or in other words, the global economy. Were the native tribes that are so revered by so many in our day, actually globalists in their limited sphere? This fact could be a great disappointment for some; for those who think their Beaujolais Nouveaux actually grew in the bottles which grew in the box which grew in the shop on the corner of Cedar and San Pablo.

It would be difficult to quantify how many jobs have been exported by virtue of all the technologies created here in the USA. Complaining about losing American jobs to foreign competitors that have purchased, adopted, improved upon, or even stolen our technologies, is as absurd as the Farakanian claim that “his people�, the Ancient Egyptians, lost their great knowledge to the larceny of the white man. How does that happen? The act of sharing knowledge with another does not diminish one’s own knowledge, does it? If I tell you that
4 x 4 = 16, will I not still retain that knowledge? If I tell you that 4 divided by zero yields an indefinite result, we will both still be mystified, won’t we? (Interestingly and contrastingly, the Babylonians gave us the zero and Arab culture has given us just about that much since then. Last year, apart from oil, all the Arab nations combined exported less that the nation of Finland.) That jobs are created and lost in eternal economic flux should not surprise anyone. It is certainly not a political problem until politicians intervene.

What we are really talking about is something we Americans revere; competition. We worship in the temples of the NFL, the NBA and MLB. Every contest has a winner and a loser but winning and losing are not permanent conditions, especially now that the Red Sox have finally won the Series. If we lose today we can work on our game, practice improvement, and play again tomorrow. So it is in commerce.

We do need to be wary of unfair competition, however. Steroids give temporary competitive advantages to some athletes, and are therefore not officially permissible. We must acknowledge that people who engage in this practice only gain a temporary advantage and that long-term negative health consequences can and should be expected. So it is with government subsidies to industries that are questionably competitive when left to sink or swim (or fly, as in the case of Airbus vs. Boeing), on their own. Temporary advantages are gained but cannot be sustained. A simple glance at the Soviet economy will tell us all we need to know about command economics. When pressed to excel, the entire structure collapses.

The ultimate test is found in the free and unfettered exchange of ideas and technologies. In this arena, no one can surpass a motivated America. We need not concern ourselves that we lost buggy whip manufacturing jobs while we are busily inventing the 21st Century.