Wednesday, October 29, 2008

God Prefers Atheists


Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Obama's Pro-Choice Extremism

HispanicPundit points to an article here detailing Obama's stance on abortion. So extreme it would probably take Hillary Clinton back. Disappointing.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Sarah Palin: The Hannah Montana of American Politics

I got nothing against Miley Cyrus, Britney Spears, The Backstreet Boys, or 98 degrees. They are perhaps half way talented people that are rich and famous. Good for them. But there's something about the way they rise that is a little irritating.

Some singers and bands become rich and famous because they are just extremely talented. Say what you will about Michael Jackson, but the guy can sing, dance, and write music. He's good. And he rose to fame and fortune because of that. Elvis earned his stardom. He wrote great music and performed it incredibly.

These manufactured bands don't really earn their fame based on their talent. Their fame is created in a board room, where Disney executives simply choose a talented person and create huge marketing on their behalf. They pay writers to write their music. They teach them to dance. They perform as directed, and become stars. Miley Cyrus can sing better than your average girl, but her fame is not so much based on her talent as it is on the decision of certain executives to make her a star. You would suspect that there are people much more talented that simply aren't known because they were not fortunate enough to be chosen by the executives. Hundreds of girls could have been just as successful as Miley Cyrus if they had been given the chance, because her success was not about her talent and smarts. It was about the marketing and song writing of people in the background. Not so with Michael Jackson, Elvis, and the Beatles. Their success had more to do with their talent, and this is why they deserve more respect.

Leaving aside the positions on the issues for a moment, consider a politician like Ronald Reagan and why he was considered presidential material. Here is a guy that looked at the issues of his day and actually pondered them. He began to form a certain philosophy about the issues. He then toured the country speaking to all the groups of people who would listen about why he held the beliefs he held. He interacted with these people in order to refine his own philosophy and come to his final conclusions. Finally, after spending years forming a philosophy and forming conclusions, he ran for president in 1976 and again in 1980 when he won. This is the type of person you are looking for. A person that has thought about the issues and come to conclusions based upon rational deliberation.

Compare this with Sarah Palin. Her interviews suggest that she really hasn't pondered many of the issues of the day. Don't worry, say her supporters. She'll be ready by inauguration day.

Really? How do you know she'll hold to the right opinions? I normally expect presidential candidates to think about things and draw conclusions based upon rational deliberation. If that is how she will do it, then how do you know she'll come to the correct conclusions? Maybe she'll conclude that talks with Iran make sense even without preconditions. Maybe she'll conclude that $800 billion in bailout money to banks that made poor decisions really isn't helpful. If she hasn't thought about the issues, then how do you know what conclusions she'll come to when she does think about the issues?

On the other hand, if she's an empty vessel that really isn't going to spend time rationally deliberating, but will simply parrot the correct lines, then in that case I suppose you can confidently claim that she'll be ready by inauguration day. But is that what we want in a vice-president?

The picture that emerges is that Palin was simply picked in a board room. Maybe Rove and Bill Kristol were present. They said "Here's a talented girl. She's pretty. She's got a great family and a great story. I bet we can market her. I bet we can write the proper lines, and when she says them the crowds will eat it up. It worked for Hannah Montana. It'll work for Sarah Palin."

I got nothing against her. She's moderately talented. But I want a candidate that has earned their status. I want a person that has already thought about things and knows why they think what they think. I don't listen to Hannah Montana. I prefer the Beatles.

Monday, October 20, 2008

No Significant Difference Between Obama and McCain

I'm beginning to recognize more and more the futility of the political process. Yet I watch as Obama cheerleaders on one side of the fence and McCain cheerleaders on the other get all excited about their man, and conclude that if the other wins everything will become a horror. It's quite a spectacle to watch, and interesting to me to think that I was a part of the spectacle not so long ago.

Part of it is the uniformity of opinions amongst the major candidates. There are so many issues that the candidates pretend to disagree about. But for now I'll just consider the two primary issues of the day. These are the economy and the war.

The economy is struggling mightily these days. Mostly because of government intrusion in my view. The typical leftist type of response would be to have more government intrusion. Have the government back all the failing banks by creating money our of thin air to sustain them. As a Democrat Obama naturally supports the massive government takeover and move to socialism. McCain, the ostensible Republican, agrees. Both candidates share virtually identical positions on the solution to our economic problems.

Now, it is true that Obama wants to roll back some of Bush's tax cuts for those making over $250K (while passing further tax cuts for the middle class), while McCain wants all of Bush's tax cuts to be permanent (though he voted against them, because he was concerned about deficits). In my view these are quibbles relative to the economic problems we're facing.

Should the top marginal rate be 33 or 38%? It's a worthwhile question. I prefer lower. But what about the staggering and stifling growth of government that has been marching onward for the last several decades. We have created enormous additional bureaucracies that are not only expensive to run, but are harmful to economic growth. Yet the politicians tell us what we want to hear in saying that there is no need to pay for any of this. No tax increases. We can have it all. We can run $500 billion deficits annually with no consequences. This is a road to disaster, and neither candidate indicates they are interested in doing what it takes to fix it.

In the past 8 years our long term debt obligations (mostly from Social Security and Medicare) have ballooned from $20 trillion to $53 trillion. The former head of the Government Accounting Office, David Walker, calls this a tsunami of debt that could swamp our ship of state. He's so desperate to get this message out, and so frustrated with the politicians unwillingness to address this issue, that he's trying to take the message directly to the American people. Where are Obama and McCain on this issue? Busy offering the American people tax cuts and an expanded war machine. These are our choices for president?

The war issue is also obviously directly relevant to the economic crisis. And yet there is no significant difference between the candidates on the war. Both are calling for increased troop levels in Afghanistan. Both support sending more resources to Georgia to continue prop up the government we've installed there, aggravating the Russians. Both want to continue bombing missions in Pakistan. Both are threatening Iran.

There has been some disagreement about tactics. McCain supported a surge, and thinks the surge is responsible for all the recent improvement in Iraq. Obama apparently was not in favor of the surge. But neither candidate is talking about how we're going bankrupt as a nation spending $1 trillion annually on overseas military operations. Nobody is talking about how our meddling all over the world creates the very resentment that makes us unsafe. We sustained military dictators in countries such as Pakistan, Iraq, Iran, Saudi Arabia, and many others, and when people from these countries react violently we don't understand why, so we pump billions of dollars into further intervention hoping that will solve the problem. This is the strategy of both McCain and Obama.

My liberal friends worked tirelessly to see Democrats sweep in in '06 because of the war issue. They succeeded. What do they have to show for it? Obama tells them what they want to hear, and makes them feel great. But nothing changes, and all indications are that nothing will change. Why do they still get so excited over Obama?

My conservative friends just hate big government telling them what to do and meddling in their lives. So they worked tirelessly and succeeded in the early part of this decade, electing Bush and a Republican House and Senate. What do they have to show for it? Government that is bigger than any government that has existed in the history of humanity. Unprecedented fiscal irresponsibility. Abortions are still widely available with few restrictions. Government sweeping up their phone conversations, internet habits, and preventing protesters from collecting video or audio. Threatening to build walls just like the old Soviets. Requiring papers for travel (you soon will need government permission even to travel to Canada) just like the old Soviets. Campaign finance reform, which greatly restricts access to the political process (see Stossel's depressing 20/20 segment on that covers this. Part 1 is here. I believe Part 4 covers campaign finance reform). Incumbency rates even higher than the old Soviets.

Obama or McCain? This is not a choice. Sadly Americans cannot recognize this. They'll wave their flags and jump up and down again in 4 years, 8 years, and 12 years, talking about hope and change, while things continue on the same path they would be on regardless of who wins.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Origins of Life

Perhaps we are one step closer to explaining life origins naturally. Stanley Miller is famous for performing experiments that produced amino acids naturally. Amino acids are the fundamental building blocks of life on earth today. The atmospheric model he used is today regarded as not representative of that of the early earth, but his experiments still shed light on how life may have originated naturally.

Miller recently died. While going through his effects, sealed vials of material from his original experiment were discovered. They were reanalyzed and found to contain 17 additional amino acids that Miller had not detected as well as 5 amines. His experiment was more successful than he had realized.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Virgin Birth? Big Deal.

Virgin births don't just happen in the case of Jesus and Anakin Skywalker. It seems it also happens with sharks.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Trusting God

Here's a conversation Bob Dutko just had with a caller here in Detroit, which I'm just going to transcribe as best I can from memory.

Caller: Bob, I don't understand why people call into question whether Barack Obama is a Christian and not John McCain. John McCain says that he sometimes gambles. He supports gun rights, and guns kill people. How is that Christian?

Bob: How is it un-Christian to own a gun?

Caller: Guns kill people, Bob.

Bob: Swords kill people to. Should Christians not have swords.

Caller: No they should not.

Bob: So Jesus was wrong to tell his followers to get swords.

Caller: Jesus said if you live by the sword you die by the sword.

Bob: Yes he did. But he also said get a sword. You don't agree with Jesus?

The caller generally refused to deal with the contradiction and questioned the faith of those that don't trust God to protect them.

Bob: You're not answering my question. Tell you what. I'll answer your question if you agree to answer mine. Why should Christians have tools to protect themselves? Because there is nothing un-Christian about protecting yourself. Do you lock your doors at night?

Caller: No.

Bob: You don't lock your doors at night. Do you ever lock your car when you go to a dangerous place?

Caller: No. The Bible says faith like a mustard seed can cast a mountain into the sea. If faith can do that, why do I need to be concerned about locking my doors?

Bob: If you had children and you lived in a dangerous area you wouldn't lock your doors at night?

Caller: No, I would not, Bob.

Bob: You wouldn't lock your home in a dangerous place to protect innocent children? Ok, how about this. Do you leave your money laying around where anyone can get it? Would you blindfold yourself and just walk across a busy freeway?

Caller: Well no. In that case there is a really good chance of getting hurt, but break ins don't happen that often.

Bob: What does that have to do with it? If you're trusting God the chances shouldn't matter?

Caller: Ok Bob. Since you put it that way, I will walk across a freeway blindfolded. My faith is that strong.

Bob: But that's testing God. You shouldn't test God. Gotta run. More of your calls next folks.

No joke. Sounded like a younger person. I seriously hope he doesn't really do this.