Friday, June 30, 2006

Does Virginia Marriage Amendment Go To Far - 1

Opponents of the Virginia Marriage Amendment often claim the amendment goes "far beyond" protecting marriage. They use the Ohio Marriage Amendment as the example of how the amendment will evicerate rights far beyond the marriage covenant -- usually based on a misreading of one appeals court ruling which wouldn't apply to Virginia in any case.

But does Ohio's ban spell discrimination in that state? In the latest ruling related to the amendment, a court has ruled that the Ohio marriage amendment cannot be used to deny visitation rights to a parent who has entered a same-sex relatonship.

From the Cincinatti Post, "Ruling: Gay marriage ban doesn't nix custody":

COLUMBUS - A mother plans to appeal a magistrate's decision that she cannot use the state's constitutional ban on gay marriage to take away her former partner's visitation rights, the mother's lawyer said Thursday.
"Granting custody of a minor child to a nonparent is done every day," Krippel wrote in the June 22 opinion. "The granting of custody to these nonparents is not against public policy."
The ruling makes clear that granting custody is not related to defining a marriage, said Camilla Taylor, an attorney with Lambda Legal Defense and Education Fund, a gay rights legal advocacy group representing Leach.

It shows "you can't use a constitutional amendment as a weapon to attack a cherished relationship between a child and an adult that that child considers a parent," Taylor said.

As well you shouldn't.

There are principled people in this state who support gay marriage, and want to defeat the Virginia Marriage Amendment. Their arguments are weakened when others appeal to irrational fear of "unintendend consequences". Arguments are best fought on their own merits.

In this particular case, the child was the offspring of a homosexual couple. And why did this couple have joint custody rights? from the article:

At Fairchild's request, the Franklin County Domestic Relations Court gave Leach parenting rights in 2001, saying the women "shall be treated in the law as two equal parents of their minor child."

They sought the agreement so Leach could make medical decisions for the boy in Fairchild's absence, Fairchild said.

These two people were in love, and wanted to raise a family. They received protection to make medical decisions that was legally binding, and the Ohio amendment, which is essentially the same as Virginia's amendment, had no effect on that agreement to provide for medical decisions. A good thing to remember the next time you hear otherwise in the next few months -- and I'm sure you will.

Thursday, June 29, 2006

Which way are the rafts going?

I stumbled across a blog today from a guy named Bill Whittle called Eject!Eject!Eject! that I have started reading in earnest. I can't say much more about it -- the writer has a good style, and makes a lot of sense. He certainly makes some good points.

Anyway, I've added him to my very shot list of links.

The author is in the midst of writing a book, and he's included his introduction in his blog.

The title of the post is from the end of the introduction. The author makes an argument that, while we may all have our own truths, the world exists in reality, and the view, the "map", that best reflects that reality is the one most useful to us.

His seminal example was to compare two "world-views" about the "miracle" of Cuba's government:

Socialist intellectuals will tell you that Cuba is a model nation: universal free health care, near total literacy, and essentially no gap whatsoever between the rich and the poor. They call it an island paradise where brotherhood and compassion reign in stark contrast to the brutal inequalities of the heartless and racist capitalist monster to the North, ruled by its Imperial Nazi King, who is the devious mastermind of all manner of Conspiratorial Wheels and is also a moron.

Capitalist intellectuals -– and there are not many, since most of these people have jobs -– argue that Cuba is a squalid, corrupt, poverty-ridden basket case, a land of oppression and secret police and torture chambers run by a megalomaniac who practices the most idiotic, inhuman and degrading economic system ever invented.

So here we sit in the chartroom, with our competing maps. What to think?

Well, ask yourself what it would take to give up your home, your country, your family and all your friends. Ask yourself how desperate you would have to be to sneak out in the night, and strap your family – your grandmother and infant son – to a collection of inner tubes lashed together and set out in the dark surf across 90 miles of shark-infested water in the dead of night, hoping against hope to make landfall. We can all agree, I think, that that kind of desperation could only be driven by a fairly passionate first-person opinion of such things. Surely this goes beyond what you or I would do to win a map argument at Starbucks.

So. Go up on deck, get out the telescope, and answer one simple question for me and for yourself:

Which way are the rafts headed?

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Superman Movie Panned by local Bloggers

My daughter was interested in seeing this movie right away, but frankly I wasn't that excited by it anyway. I see that a couple local bloggers, Vince and Chad, saw the movie and weren't impressed.

But I'll say this, without having even seen the movie. It's hard to be entirely against a movie that has THIS line uttered in seriousness:

"You said the world doesn't need salvation but why do I hear the world calling out for a savior."

Have we lost our Compassion

That's the question asked and answered in my latest Potomac News Column. You can find the column and a place to comment over at criticallythinking.


A local Comcast customer was having trouble with his new cable internet service. After some difficulties, he finally had a service technician in his house. The technician needed assistance from the office, and was put on hold for an hour. While waiting, the technician fell asleep on a couch. The customer’s response? He videotaped the sleeping man, and posted it on the internet. As a result, the technician was fired.

We know little about the technician. He could be a hard-working man, with a wife and kids, working long hours with little sleep. Who among us hasn’t drifted off during a sermon, a long meeting, or at other inappropriate times? Why not just wake the guy up? Why humiliate him in front of the entire world? The customer’s anger at the company was directed at the technician, with no thought to the damage it would cause.
The internet is part of the problem. Anonymity and physical isolation make it easy to say things that civilized people wouldn’t say in public. E-mail complaints are often harsh and cruel compared to in-person complaints. And the internet gives us a world-wide receptive audience for our diatribes.

The web offers the opportunity for debating problems and finding common solutions, but it rarely lives up to its potential. You are much more likely to find childish insults, personal attacks, vulgar racial, ethnic, and sexual slurs, and baseless accusations of wrongdoing. The “search for common ground” with our fellow man is replaced by the simpler “seek and destroy” of faceless opponents. Instead of working through our differences, we draw lines in the sand and hurl invectives hoping to demonize our opponents.
People are human beings, worthy of respect. There are few truly evil people in the world, but you wouldn’t know it from our modern discourse. We used to care about people as people, now we want to dehumanize them so we can ignore them, attack them, and destroy them, without feeling any guilt.

So tonight, some cable technician is sitting with his wife and kids, explaining why they had to cancel their summer vacation because he lost his job for nodding off waiting on hold. And too many people see nothing wrong with that, because we’ve lost our capacity to see others as fellow human beings. Life itself has become a game to us, and we’ve forgotten that real people are suffering from our words and actions.

Virginia Senate Poll: Allen 56%, Webb 37%.

Frankly, you can find polls to say almost anything. But since some people like to follow polls, I thought this one was interesting.

From the WDBJ, Channel 7, Roanoke - News-7 Poll: Allen leads Webb in first Senate poll:

George Allen would defeat Jim Webb if the election of U.S. Senate in Virginia were held today.

That's the finding of a statewide News-7 poll conducted this week. This is the first SurveyUSA poll since Jim Webb won the Democratic nomination to face Republican incumbent George Allen.

SurveyUSA interviewed 1,200 Virginia adults Sunday through Wednesday of this week. Of them, 984 were registered to vote. Of them, 533 were judged to be "likely" voters.

The breakdowns in "Survey Details" reflect likely voters.

Fifty-six percent of the likely voters said they'd vote for Allen. Thirty-seven percent said they'd vote for Webb.
56% Allen (R)
37% Webb (D)
2% Parker (IG)
3% Other
3% Undecided

If the Rassussen poll was Webb's bounce from the primary, it has suffered the same fate as the ball in the Tempur-Pedic commercial.

Harry J. Parrish Boulevard

The new name for the "Airport Access Road". I wish they could have found a larger road for his name, but it is still a well-deserved tribute to the man who gave his life for our community.

From the Manassas Journal-Messenger:

The Prince William Board of County Supervisors voted Tuesday to honor the late Del. Harry J. Parrish, R-Manassas, by renaming the Manassas Airport access road in his memory.

The supervisors approved renaming the road currently called Airport Connector Road to Harry J. Parrish Boulevard.
Parrish was instrumental in establishing the airport when he served on the Manassas Town Council.

A portion of the road is within the limits of the City of Manassas. The move to rename the road is a collaborative effort between the Manassas City Council and the Prince William Board of County Supervisors.

That's just an excerpt, read the whole story at the link above.

And the race for Chairman is on.

Much to the consternation of some who think that pretending you aren't running for an office when everybody knows you are is a nobel thing, the race for PWC Chair started the minute Sean announced he would accept Bush's appointment.

So Kudos to Corey Stewart and Wally Covington for being honest about their interest in the position.

From today's Manassas Journal Messenger:

Soon after the White House announced Connaughton's appointment, Supervisor Corey A. Stewart, R-Occoquan, announced his intention to run for the Prince William at-large seat.

Stewart has often been at odds with Connaughton over questions of growth in the county.

"I intend to continue to fight to control growth," Stewart said. "It's a question of leadership and the chairman's position is responsible for establishing the direction of our county."
Covington described himself as an "interested party" for the at-large seat.

"I'd think about it," he said.

Marty Nohe, who some say also wants the position, seems noncommittal at this time:

Supervisor Martin E. Nohe, R-Coles, said it's too soon to make that kind of decision.

"We don't really know yet what this process will be for confirmation. We don't have a time line on that, so I don't know that it's really time to be making that decision," Nohe said.

For sure, it could take months before anything happens. However, we certainly hope it happens this year, and if so we are looking at a November election, which means it is not early, but late, to be putting together a campaign. I would have expected that anybody thinking of running even NEXT year would have started putting plans together by now.

In the meantime, Corey and Wally may have a jump on the fundraising, unless others who are running but think it's too early to announce have started putting together their own networks behind the scenes.

I do think there is such a thing as getting into a race too early -- but when an announcement of pending vacancy is made, that's the time to jump in. This isn't like the 50th district, where the opening was due to a death. A presidential appointment is a positive move, and it's not something that requires the moment of silence.

Whoever the republicans pick for this race, I hope we can all rally behind them. I also hope they are tuned in to the "controlled growth" message sent by the Loudoun voters -- I sense Prince William is as fed up with uncontrolled growth, and will vote accordingly.

I also hope that we can pull the warring factions back together for the PWC republican committee -- without Sean, we are going to need a strong committee to hold our own in the elections. We won't have Sean's independent band of merry workers to fill in the gaps this time.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Senate Blocks Flag Desecration Amendment

From the Herald Sun:

THE Republican majority in the US Senate has failed by just one vote to amend the constitution to ban desecration of the national flag.

The motion was backed by 66 votes, one short of the two thirds majority need to get a constitutional amendment passed.

Thirty-four senators voted against.

The 34 included 3 republicans, McConnell, Lincoln Chafee, and Bennett.

First, I don't care about this amendment. I wouldn't push it, but I'm not so opposed to it that I would write my congressman about it.

Second, I can't imagine anybody making a decision about a candidate based solely on this vote. But apparently among those who do, most of the politicians think they are on the pro-amendment side, explaining why so many democrats vote FOR this amendment (like Mark Dayton and Dianne Feinstein!!)

Third, Flag-burning is a problem waiting to happen. Flag-burning would likely increase if it was a crime -- people who protest are looking for attention, and you don't get attention for things that are legal but annoying.

Fourth, we should not NEED an amendment for this. The Supreme Court went off-course when they equated ACTS with WORDS. A picture may be worth a thousand words, but the founders surely KNEW that, and if they wanted they could have written that congress could not abridge freedom of action, and they didn't.

Fifth, I think there is some supreme irony that in a country where everybody is up in arms about the separation of Church and State, our Supreme Court has ruled that we can't protect the symbol of our country from burning, but we CAN protect the symbol of Christianity from burning.

In the end, our freedom is what makes our country strong, not the symbol of our country. We have a right to be outraged at the mistreatment of the flag, and the disrespect it shows to our heritage and way of life. And to make that illegal would just make it harder for us to know those who we should be wary of.

Marine Exonerated after another violation of privacy

In a somewhat better outcome, a marine whose relatively private performance of a song to boost the morale of his platoon threatened to ruin his career has been exonerated and will face no further investigation:

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. military will not punish a Marine who performed an obscenity-laced song to a laughing and cheering crowd of fellow troops in Iraq making light of killing Iraqis, the Marine Corps said on Tuesday.
"The preliminary inquiry has been concluded. No punitive action will be taken against Corporal Belile. And there will be no further investigation," said Maj. Shawn Haney, a spokeswoman at Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point in North Carolina.

The marine, who was stationed in Iraq, played the song at an "amateur-night" type event used to boost morale and give the troops something to do during their long, hard service in a war zone. He meant it to go no further, but unbeknownst to him a fellow marine who liked the song videotaped it on his cell phone and posted it on the internet without telling him.

The song, mischaracterized by the story but certainly not politically correct, was found by CAIR, an organization supposedly dedicated to improving Arab-American relations but which often pursues policies which strengthen our enemies and hurt our troops.

They misquoted and misreported the meaning and context of the video to cast a harsh light on the marine and our troops, which forced the marine corp to launch an investigation.

Oddly, CAIR's action (which included posting the video to their own web site after the marine found out what had happend and had it pulled from YouTube) did more to publicize the song and incite others to outrage and hate.

Too many people put their agenda above their humanity. The words "have you no decency" seem to have lost their meaning.

Modern Technology has destroyed our privacy

I know, it is a self-evident statement, but with all the arguments over what the government may or may not be collecting for the war on terror, I think it's important to remember that whatever our feelings are on our privacy, we really have no privacy to speak of anymore.

The latest example is a District Comcast employee who was fired for falling asleep on a customer call. I happen to think the firing was wrong, but Comcast was forced by the customer, who videotaped the sleeping technician and published the video on the internet for hundreds of thousands of people.

BTW, he fell asleep while WAITING ON HOLD for an answer from the office. So if someone deserved to be fired, maybe it wasn't this guy.

Thus, not only did a probably good employee with a family lose his job, his chance of getting another job in a similar field is probably very low, and he is the butt of jokes of people all over the world that know nothing about him.

Maybe there shouldn't be a law against this, but frankly we didn't used to NEED laws against this, because we treated people as human beings instead of things to be exploited for our own enjoyment.

That is the focus of my column for this week, which should be in the Potomac News tomorrow morning.

Meanwhile, here's the story:

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Cable operator Comcast Corp. said on Monday it fired an employee who was caught on camera sleeping on a customer's couch after the video clip was shared all over the Web.
Finkelstein filmed the operative sleeping, edited and set the video to the Eels pop song "I Need Some Sleep," and shared the 58-second footage on popular online video site

Titled "A Comcast Technician Sleeping On My Couch," more than 300,000 people have viewed the video since it was posted last Tuesday.
Comcast said it has fired the employee and apologized to Finkelstein, of Washington, D.C., for the "unsatisfactory customer experience."

"We obviously do not condone what was represented in the video," the cable operator, which has over 21 million subscribers in the United States, said in a statement.

Of course, the customer complaints were NOT the fault of the technician, who was there to FIX problems Comcast hadn't corrected in over two weeks. And the idea of rewarding a customer who violates your employee's privacy seems a bit harsh, but Comcast has enough of an image problem that it's hard to fault them on this one.

But I still ask, why do we take delight in destroying people's lives?

Connaughton nominated to head Maritime Administration

I'm not first, or even the most comprehensive, but the Potomac News has the story online:

President Bush announced late today that he is nominating Sean T. Connaughton, chairman of the Prince William Board of County Supervisors, to be the next administrator of the U.S. Maritime Administration.
Since the Administrator position is full-time, Connaughton will resign his position as board chairman upon being confirmed and sworn into office.

I add my congratulations to the many others on the net. A presidential appointment is a big deal, and hopefully Sean will not be derailed or sidetracked by partisan bickering in the Senate. I can't imagine there would be any problems with his nomination, but sometimes these are held up for reasons having nothing to do with the nominee or position.

On the blogosphere, it's hard to say who had the story first, because apparently some people knew the facts for some time but understood that leaking the story could nix the nomination, so their stories waited for official word.

Others who maybe didn't have such good contacts also apparently had no agreement to stay silent.

And some were apparently surprised by the announcement, at least of Sean's impending resignation, but knew the underlying story before it was official.

My favorite quote from TC, who I'm certain was conflicted between his undying support for Tom Davis and his supernatural attraction for all things Sean, after seeing Human Events crediting Tom for pushing this appointment:

I believe Connaughton got this job on his own merit. We should be congratulating him, and not Congressman Davis for the achievement.

If it keeps raining, Prince William may need a little of Sean's maritime expertise before he moves on. :-)

Sunday, June 25, 2006

Virginia's Compelling interest in traditional marriage

(I lifted this from a comment by James Atticus Bowden over at TooConservative to a thread where TC is once again unable to make up his mind about the marriage amendment. I thought it was an excellently written argument for the amendment, and with the permission of the author I put it here.)

The Commonwealth of Virginia has a compelling interest in defining and supporting the family.

Every government is built from a civilization which rises from a culture (not a multi-culture - but one defining culture). Since our government is neither monarchy, oligarchy, plutocracy, democracy, dictator, theocracy, tribe or clan - but a federal republic, the government must set in law the definitions of family for inheritance, legal responsibilities, etc. which have existed since the rise of recorded civilizations 5,000 years ago.

The health and welfare of the family, as a primary institution in history of every culture (and recognized in the Bible in Genesis before the pre-Abrahamaic covenant) is vital to the survivable of the state.

Every culture that ever existed from tiniest tribe to greatest civilization had, and has, three categories of sexual behavior. Sex which is honored, that which is tolerated and that which is punishable. The lines between those categories have moved widely across continents and centuries to include polygamy, polyandry, temple prostitutes, and homosexuality and really weird stuff.

No culture, ever, confused homosexual sex with marriage. Ever. Even civilizations that had rampant homosexuality in their declining, falling years. None.

Only today’s Liberals, modern Pagans and sissy Christians - essentially Liberal Human Secularists, confuse homosexual sex and relationships with marriage, children and family.

The compelling interest of the Commonwealth to preserve marriage as one man - one woman is because to do otherwise opens the gates to anything as marriage. When you reject 400 years of Judeo-Christian culture for a made up standard, then you can NOT deny bigamy, polygamy, polyandry, group marriage, pediophilia, incest or bestiality except for your own, private bigotry for homosexual and heterosexual monogamous exclusive sex and marriage - and rejecting all others. There is no written statement of morality or ethics in any culture that ever existed that establishes such a bogus standard. Liberals are just making it up as they go along - based on feelings.

Since the SCOTUS pretty much declared a right for consensual sodomy in Lawrence v Texas, a Morman in Utah has sued to have multiple marriages, and a father and grown daugther in KY (or was it OK?) sued for consensual incest marriage.

See, when you trash the 400 year old standard of American Civilization in Virginia , then you must replace it with a new standard of morals and ethics. So, where is this new standard? The front page of the New York Times or recorded blather from Oprah? Show us the new standard that says homosexual marriage is right but a devout Muslim can’t have 4 wives or an old time Mormon 40 wives? Why can’t adult family members marry? Who says the age of consent is 16 or 18 or 12 or 10 - why with what authority?

The bad behavior of heterosexuals doesn’t invalidate the standard (one of those three sexual behaviors) as most honored is one man and one woman exclusively for life. The repeated, eternal bad behavior of criminals to lie, cheat, steal, rob, rape and murder doesn’t mean you should destroy the laws which sanction against such behavior.

The Commonwealth and the US should pass amendments to our Constitutions to preserve marriage and the family from the invidious tinkering of tyrannical judges - the would be black robed priest-kings - who will destroy American Civilization if they aren’t stopped.

Another reason is the political agenda to surpress Christian free speech (Homosexual behavior is sinful), but that is for another post and, frankly, not the fundamental argument for preserving marriage.

James Atticus Bowden

Saturday, June 24, 2006

The failure of Health Insurance

I don't think we have a health care crisis. What we have is an over-manipulated and politicized medical insurance industry.

Medical insurance is the only insurance that is primarily provided on an other than individual basis (life insurance for most people is both a group insurance AND an individual insurance).

Medical "insurance" is also the only insurance where routine occurances are "covered". Medical insurance is, for many, much more like an extended warranty coverage than an insurance coverage.

Medical insurance is hobbled by the "triangle" approach. Most insurance is a contract between the insured and the insurer -- a person contracts with the insurance company, and the insurance company pays for insured occurances. The insured has two goals -- cheap rates and high-quality service. The insurer has two goals -- make a profit, and customer satisfaction. The shared goal of customer satisfaction, and the competing goal of lower rates/higher profits makes this relationship "efficient" in economic terms, since with sufficient competition insurance companies will tend to provide a fair value, and customers will choose various policies based on their own cost/benefit analysis.

But medical insurance, provided mostly through employer group benefits, has three participants. A company finds and pays for most of the "insurance", and the employee uses the insurance (and pays a portion of the costs). The company has two goals -- employee satisfaction/retention, and cost savings. The employee has two goals -- cheap insurance rates and high-quality care. The insurance company has two goals -- keep the contract, and increase profits.

Because there is no direct shared goal among the three, and because the person USING the service is largely divorced from the cost of the service, the relationship is inefficient from an economic standpoint, with little in the way of valuable corrective feedback.

As with most insurance, there is an independent operator, the provider of services. This always provides some tension, with the service provider wishing to maximize income, and the insurance provider wishing to minimize services.

HMO insurers attempt to "solve" this problem in part by increasing co-pay amounts (giving the insured an disincentive to using the service) and a complex system of reviews and pre-approvals to protect against insurance padding by doctors. They also use their size to force doctors, hospitals, and pharmacies into long-term contracts providing cut-rate service in exchange for a guaranteed supply of consumers.

Meanwhile, the employers attempt to control their costs by using their size to force insurance companies into long-term contracts providing cheaper costs to the employer in exchange for a guaranteed supply of customers.

The employee's cost of insurance is almost entirely divorced from the service provided, except that larger companies can offer a small choice of insurers at different price points. Whatever the case, there is almost no "competition" for the employee's service because the employee is restricted to the few companies that sign deals with the employer. The cost the insurance companies charge was set between them and the employer, and the amount the employee is required to pay is also set NOT by the insurer, but by the employer, based on what they think they can charge as part of an overal benefit package and still retain their employee loyalty.

The result is insurance companies with little reason to respond to individual needs EXCEPT if the employer cares, and an industry with no incentive to cut prices to "compete" for customers since the customers cannot "choose" between health providers, being locked into exclusive contracts through their employer/insurance provider agreements.

About the only way the health care consumer can feel they are getting a better deal is, perversely, to use the service MORE, since most "co-pay" values are low compared to the overal cost of insurance. Much like people at an "all-you-can-eat" buffet will take too much food because they "paid for it", people who have high-cost medical insurance with low co-pay values will use the service as often as possible because "they paid for it".

Normally doctors wouldn't discourage this because they do get some money on a per-visit basis. The insurance company may offer incentives to doctors who sluff off patients to "nurse practitioners", but negative publicity has largely prevented outright clauses in contracts to discourage people seeking medical treatment.

People need cars, but we don't have a system where everybody's car insurance covers mechanical repairs and yearly checkups to ensure cars keep running smoothly. And yet people seem to know to get their cars fixed when they break, to buy insurance that covers catastrophic problems like accidents, and if they care to they buy long-term "maintainence agreements" which are like throwing money away but do limit the downside of expensive repairs.

But you would NEVER get a system like that for health care, because there is NO incentive for employers to provide that kind of care. Since it largely leaves customers in charge of paying for their own "service", it would mean less money paid to the insurance companies. Since the doctors aren't guaranteed patients, they won't sign long-term agreements.

What we need to consider is BANNING employers from providing employee health care, forcing employees to get it on an individual basis, like they do car insurance and homeowners insurance.

Then we can force people, like we do for car insurance, to have certain "minimum" coverage either in personal investments, or in catastrophic care plans, so that there is money set aside for major expenses. Then we need to "punish" people for not having insurance, just as we do now for people and their cars and houses -- a person without car insurance crashes their car, they have to come up with their own money to buy a new car.

With such a plan for most of us, money would be available to provide indigent medical care, not the best care in the world but reasonable care for free. As much as it seems 'unfair' to "punish" people for not having money, it is a simple fact of life that, in our economic system, people with money do better than people without money. That provides incentives for people to work hard to earn money -- if there was no value to having money, most people would not work. If the "universal minimum" services are generous enough to satisfy a majority of the people, nobody will strive to earn enough money to pay for "better" services.

And in a world where things ARE rationed, where there may not be enough to go around, any system that determines who gets things will be unfair to those who do NOT get them, even if the choice is random. Better those things be given in a rational way to those who earn them. Not that wealth is the best indicator of earnings -- but it's what we have.

Friday, June 23, 2006

my medical week

OK, so Sunday morning we are packing up for Kings Dominion. Prior to this, I had a long-running back/hip/leg/muscle pain, but it had been getting better for the past couple of weeks and I was ready to hobble around with the family.

Then I reached down and opened a drawer, and I was in great pain. I pulled myself into bed, but could not find a comfortable position. Panicking, moaning, and being generally like the weaker sex that man is when it comes to pain, I popped some pills and used a heating pad but soon decided I needed professional help.

We called the squad, and some nice men and women came. They took some information, and tried to get me to sit up so they could get me down the stairs. I swear I tried, but simply could not bring myself to work through the pain, so finally they rolled me up and dragged me down the stairs (they were glad, I am sure, that I weighed 220 pounds rather than my previous 251 -- although they insisted I wasn't nearly the largest person they carried around.

They rolled me into the ambulance for a very uncomfortable ride to the hospital, I talked most of the way because I can never keep my mouth shut.

If you have to go to the Emergency Room, an ambulance is the way to go, because they roll you right into a room, and a nice person comes to you to get your information. I of course had one question, and one question only -- WHEN DO I GET PAIN MEDICATION!!!!. (Oh, I also asked if they had wireless internet, which they don't).

They did several tests, and then put a needle in my arm. "Drugs?" I said hopefully. No, just the tap. They needed to take some blood, and then I lay there moaning for a while with my wife, who drove separately. I told her I could use a pillow, so she found someone to give me one. I was actually somewhat comfortable except when they put me on the table they missed by 6 inches so my feet were hanging off the bottom of the bed.

My wife helpfully covered them up, and I tried to push up in bed but was unsuccessful. However, I found that pushing myself upward in the bed relieved some pain, so I spent the next period of time pushing with all my might.

Eventually a nice man came in with 4 bottles of medication. One was an N-said to block pain receptors. One was a narcotic, one was an anti-nausea drug because the narcotic could make you sick, and one I think was either a muscle relaxor or a sleeping pill to shut me up, because I was still babbling away.

Those intravenous drugs are GREAT. Once I was shot up, they took me to X-ray but I remember very little of that, or after that. I woke up a minute later (or a few hours) and they were getting ready to send me home. After a failed attempt to get into a wheelchair, I talked them into another round of medication, and then I slept some more.

Finally we got me into a wheelchair, and my wife took me to the car and drove me home.

The next day I went to my orthopedic guy, who once again told me there was nothing wrong with me. (I borrowed a wheelchair to get into the room, but somehow that was unconvincing). I have to admit that I was able to get up on his table, and he was able to manipulate my joints with little pain.

Since he could find no reason for the pain, he gave me more painkillers and sent me home with a prescription for an MRI. Getting out was very hard, as it hurt to sit in the wheelchair. I moaned a bit (or a lot), but once in the car settled down.

The next day we expected to book an MRI, but that's when I ran into the bermuda triangle of primary care, specialist care, and medical insurance. Mostly my orthopedic office is in the dark ages, claiming it would take them a week to get my transcripts back to send in an MRI request. That bothered me, so I got my primary care doctor to send one in. TUrns out all my calls pushed some people to action and both requests for an MRI arrived on Wednesday. I called the insurance people on Wednesday, and they said that they had two requests, and that i had to get one cancelled, and meanwhile it would take them two days to get one of them approved.

Meanwhile, I had to apply for intermittent absense with my employer, which meant calling an 800 number and getting a package and trying to get the doctors to send medical information. That's when it occured to me that no doctor had actually said I was disabled, they just kept saying take more pills and you'll feel better.

Friday I called to schedule the MRI because I new it would take a couple of days, but they said I needed approval first. I tried calling my orthopedic office to see if they had aproval, but I couldn't get through.

Finally, I called the medical insurance people, and they told me the MRI had been approved on Wednesday (yes, they same wednesday I talked to them and they said they wouldn't LOOK at them until thursday).

So I called and got an MRI appointment -- for NEXT SATURDAY, JULY 1st. Apparently MRI's are all the rage these days.

So now I have a week to prepare to be stuck in a small enclosed area for 45 minutes with loud noises on my bad back. Did I mention I'm rather claustrophobic? It's all in the mind, I tell myself. It will be a true test of my mental abilities to convince myself I'm OK (knowing that 6-year-olds do this every day with no problem is no comfort to me).

Meanwhile, I'm trying to get an appointment with my primary care physician tomorrow so I can get him to sign the forms that say that my pain is bad enough to keep me from work. My work is great about this, and so far I've had no problems, but unfortunately now I fall under the FMLA law provisions, so there is a LOT of paperwork they have to fill out even though our benefits were always BETTER than the FMLA law.

Anyway, my PCP office is open from 8-noon, but they don't take appointments ahead of time, and you can't go in at 8am to sign up, you have to call, starting at 8am, to make appointments. Which makes me wonder what they do at 8am, since nobody could have an appointment for 8am (my wife suggested people might use their cell phones from the parking lot).

So that's my medical story. Typing made me forget about the pain for a little bit, but not any more. Ouch. But it's not too bad.

I go away for a week, and

I spent the week laying in bed and watching world cup soccer, with breaks walking around in pain or limping downstairs to forage for small bites of food.

I see Kaine is trying to start up his preschool-for-everybody campaign.

Thank You, Joe


And thanks again to all the well-wishers in the blogosphere.

I told my wife, "today my imaginary world collided with my real world, and left a big puffy smiley face.

Temptation, thy name is butter-cooked peanuts.

Sunday, June 18, 2006

Rush Limbaugh is a good person.

I've been following the saga of Ed Morrissey (Captain Ed) over at his blog. He ruptured a disk and therefore has been in pain and it gives me hope to follow his story. He just got out of the hospital following fusion operation.

Anyway, in today's Captains Quarters in a post he calls A Correspondent to Thank, he speaks of a personal letter of support from an unlikely source:

I wrote last week about the excruciating pain that the disc rupture caused and the painkillers that doctors prescribed to ease the situation. Some of you wrote to caution me about Vicodin and Percocet and their addictive qualities. One person in particular wrote to me about his own addiction, and in particular gave me solid advice on physiological conditions that would indicate an addictive response from my body. Given the very public nature of his addiction, his note had one hell of a lot of impact on the decisions I have made this week.

That man is Rush Limbaugh.

I know that some people think that conservatives all take orders from Rush, but we're really not that lucky. I have corresponded with Rush' staff on a couple of occasions where they wanted to quote my blog -- they are extremely scrupulous about asking permission -- but other than that, I have never written directly to Rush nor him to me. He read my post and wanted to make sure that I took precautions with pain medication in order to avoid the problems that he faced in very public (and very overblown) fashion.

It takes a special kind of person to reach out in those circumstances to a man unknown to him just to help protect that man from a danger he might not see. That correspondence informed my decisions in the hospital to hold down my pain medication and to transfer to Ibuprofen as soon as possible. I've been fortunate; my pain since the surgery has allowed me to rely on the over-the-counter analgesic instead of the Vicodin and Percocet. Had I never heard from Rush, I might not have had the discipline to make that decision.

Our politics has gotten to personally vile. We demonize and dehumanize people rather than discuss the issues. Everybody shares some blame in that. My personal philosophy is to see the good in people, to ignore personal insults and deal with the issues, but it would be great if you could publish an opinion without those who disagree resorting to namecalling and character assassination.

My point being, even Rush Limbaugh is a human being who cares for others around him, and whom he reads on the internet.

Setback (or Oops I did it again)

How did you spend Father's Day?

I spent father's day in the hospital.

I was supposed to be at Kings Dominion. I was just getting dressed, and reached down to open my bottom drawer. As I pulled it open a bit, I had the worst pain I have felt in my life shoot through my left side.

Unlike before, I could barely flip around writhing while I flopped into my bed, which did NOTHING for the pain. I found a single position that wasn't too bad, and got my wife to get me my muscle relaxer and my Vicodin.

But it just got worse, I couldn't find a position that didn't hurt for more than 2 minutes at a time. And I could get a foot on the floor.

So, we called an ambulance, and I got a free almost-all-expenses paid trip to the Prince William Hospital.

So far as I can tell, they have no idea what's wrong with me. They shot me up with drugs (synthetic heroin, some N-said, a nausious medicine and muscle relaxant, and x-rayed everything.

When I woke up 4 hours later (around 1:30) they told me there was nothing they could find wrong, and I could leave. But putting me in a wheelchair drove my to scream again, so I got back in bed and got another shot of heroin (I think). The 2nd attempt at around 5pm worked better, so now I'm home sitting in my chair.

I'm on OxyContin now, along with my daily N-said and back to muscle relaxors. I'll have to see some doctor tomorrow, but I don't know what they will do about it. It is unsettling to be told there is nothing wrong, that I can't hurt it, when I just got dragged down my stairs by an emergency response team.

Anyway, I'm back online, watching "Because of Wynn Dixie", and a little afraid of what tomorrow holds.......

On the other hand, my weight tonight was 219 pounds.

Saturday, June 17, 2006

Jesus Christ, Superman?

Today's Potomac news ran a story from AP, which is also found at msnbc, titled "Some view new Superman as Christ figure":

As the hype machine shifts into high gear for the upcoming release of “Superman Returns,” some are reading deeply into the film whose hero returns from a deathlike absence to play savior to the world.

“It is so on the nose that anyone who has not caught on that Superman is a Christ figure, you think, ‘Who else could it be referring to?”’ said Steve Skelton, who wrote a book examining parallels between Superman and Christ.

Actually, Hollywood is replete with Christ-figures which have one thing in common -- they are flawed saviors, prone to self-doubt and often failing to acheive their goals. Another common theme is the savior who must also be saved -- the most obvious example being Neo from the Matrix trilogy.

I've always had a more secular observation about Superman, and that is that if we knew there was such a thing as a Superman, we would of course seek to destroy it. Because man cannot stomach the thought of something better than himself deciding what is best for him, and in the end that is the heart of the Superman saga -- Jor-el sending his son to interfere in our affairs because we are too stupid to survive on our own. And in the first Reeve's Superman movie, Superman chooses his word over his love, but not happy with the outcome reverses the very fabric of time so he can have his cake and eat it, too.

"The Incredibles" played well the outrage of the normal folk to the "rampaging" super-heroes, forcing them into exile. And many more "mortal" movie heroes endure a moment when they are cast off by those who the hero tries to save.

But that is a true picture of our relationship with God and his son, Jesus. Man is rebellious, and independent, and loathes giving power, authority, or credit to anybody else. I often say everything I need to know I learned on Star Trek. Star Trek was replete with examples of this common theme. We may meet villians, or heroes; evil aliens bent on our distruction, or benevolent creatures seeking our survival; The Talosians who meant only good, or the Organians who upset us so by interfering in our war. But we insist on making our own mistakes, saving our own lives.

So if we had a Superman today, some would embrace the security, but many more would see it as an assault on our freedom, a man who could so interfere in our lives, and who we could not stop.

One of my favorite movies was called "Colossus -- the Forbin Project". I urge you to watch it, so I won't spoil the story much. The U.S. designs a new computer to control our nuclear missles, programed to keep us safe and with artificial intelligence. Brought online, it searches the world networks, and finds a similar computer in the Soviet Union. "There is Another System". The computers talk, the people realise too late what is happening and pull the plug. The computers retaliate by launching weapons, the people unpull the plug, and the rest of the movie is the humans trying to stop the computers.

The point being, the computers tell the humans that they are only acting in OUR best interest, based on the programming which called for our protection from attack. We of course rebel against such control over our lives.

However, this is the real world, not a movie. In THIS world, our rejection of God's message, of the saving power of Jesus Christ to put us right with God, carries the real consequence of an eternity of hell, separated from the one who we will know as our creator and father.

But with all our knowledge of that message, many refuse to submit, refuse to accept that there is something more powerful than ourselves, refuse to give up what we see as control. Many more see the advantage of knowing God, but reject his means, assuming we can do better. "We don't like THAT God", the refrain goes, so instead we make up our own less particular god, one that doesn't insist on ruling our lives but instead is more like our best buddy putting up with whatever we do and making things right in the end.

Which may sound nice, but false gods don't save. We don't get to choose our path to the Creator, we don't get to define the terms of our relationship with the Almighty. And that is too much for some to bear.

Which is perplexing to me, because I need a Savior who is much more powerful than anything I could dream up, not one that I need to save first. Because man is not a powerful being who just wandered a bit of course and needs directions to get back. We are dead creatures sitting at the bottom of the ocean with not a breath of life, waiting for God to choose to resurrect us, to make us "born again".

And that's not a picture of Jesus you are likely to see from Hollywood.

Rishell says there is no surplus

In a Potomac News Article titled "Miller takes GOP nod for 50th", they interviewed the Democrat candidate for this seat, Jeanette M. Rishell, who said this about spending some of the general fund surplus on critical transportation needs:

Instead of using what Miller said is a surplus of funds, Rishell wants to see a revenue stream dedicated to transportation.

"Miller's calling it a surplus, but it's really not," she said. "Money in the general fund is traditionally used for education, health and public safety."

Well, really, it is. We have a budget for this year, and next, and next, and the revenues we are taking in are higher than the budget allocates to spend. Meanwhile, the transportation fund is hit by a triple-whammy, as higher gas prices drive up the costs of building roads, lower use of gas cuts the money available, and people using public transportation drive up costs more (since it costs us money when people use public transportation).

Traditionally, when the transportation fund had "more than enough money", our representatives had no problem taking money from the transportation surplus and spending it on general funds. Now, they should have no problem doing the opposite.

Our taxes are taken to fund government services. Roads are a government service, and improve the common welfare for EVERY citizen of our state, even those who don't drive. So our income taxes are properly applied to the pressing needs of transportation.

But if democrats like Rishell are elected, there won't be a surplus. We won't get it back, it won't be used for transportation, it will be used as free money and frittered away, while we get hit with another billion a year in taxes for transportation before the trust fund is locked up.

I've taken up residence

at What I mean is, I would normally have blogged about a few storys from late this week But instead I spent the morning fixing a computer (part of my hard disk went bad, but for now I've managed to resurrect it) and fixing my network (my wireless simply stopped giving out network addresses -- I ended up hard resetting and reloading).

Meanwhile, yesterday I waded into a conversation over at novatownhall about the marriage amendment, and decided to start arguing the points running around in my head to see how they stood up to opposition. That has turned into a dozen comments most longer than my typical posts. Of course I use too many words.

Anyway, head over to novatownhall to their thread Family Foundation: Marriage Campaign Well Underway , and I'll see if I can get something up before bed tonight here.

Tomorrow I'm spending father's day at Kings Dominion, in the vain hope that I'm the only one who thought of it (I understand that mothers day is a great day for parks, but fathers day probably isn't). In any case I won't be blogging.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Punishing Individuality - Weekly Column Update

The Web Editor at Potomac News took an interest in my column for this week, titled "Where does youthful individuality bump into disruptive behavior?", so it's up on their site, complete with a picture, and they gave me a link from their front page. I've also got a comments section there.

It's a shameless request, but if you have an opinion, please post it to the PotomacNews web site, it shows an interest in my column. Of course, the floor's open here as well.

The column is about one of the basic attributes that make America great, our individuality, and how it is endangered by our Public School system.

I use for examples the boys kicked out of school for showing pride in their heritage, and the girl kicked out of school for her hair color, who also told her story here.

The thrust of the article, told by selective excerpts:

This "individualism" critical to our country's success is passed from generation to generation, father to son, mother to daughter. Responsibility for your own actions, pride in your own work, self-worth and self-esteem, accepting and embracing those different from ourselves -- these are the sometimes hard lessons that make our nation strong.

But today individualism is threatened by the very school system charged with teaching our children those lessons. "Zero-tolerance" policies teach children to blindly follow orders, and to judge perceived harm without regard to individual circumstance. Speech codes in schools teach self-censorship and "group-speak," based not on personal ethics or manners, but on threat of punishment. And then there is the arbitrary imposition of dress codes.


But it was wrong to bar my daughter with no evidence of disruption, just as it was wrong to punish the kids for their T-shirts. These arbitrary actions have a chilling effect on both students and parents. Punishing non-conformity out of often unfounded fear of disruption harms our children, and teaches intolerance rather than acceptance.

My daughter's school is an excellent school, and the principal is a good man who I'm sure acted in good faith. But the fact remains my daughter, the T-shirt boys, and probably others have been removed from school for positive expressions of individuality. Mindless conformity is not a lesson we should be teaching our children.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Murtha Cuts-And-Runs from his bid for Majority Leader.

Well, not quite, but he is suspending his bid for the non-existant Democrat Majority Leader post until after the democrats actually have a majority to lead, which could be the same thing.

Last Friday Murtha announced with great fanfare that he would run for Democrat Majority leader:

June 9 (Bloomberg) -- U.S. Representative John Murtha, a Vietnam War veteran who has called for the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq, said he plans to run for majority leader if Democrats win control of the House in the November elections.

Murtha, 73, sent a two-sentence letter to all House Democrats today stating his interest in the post, said his spokeswoman, Cindy Abram.

(Interesting he forgot to add "if he wins his OWN election").

Now, his sudden interest in a leadership post after all these years raised some questions, which he sought to answer in this local Pennsylvania Paper:

Immediately, speculation began to arise about whether Murtha’s recent foray into the spotlight was a calculated strategy aimed at improving his political standing. While attending the official opening of Gamesa Inc.’s Fiberblade plant in Cambria Township on Monday, Murtha dismissed the critical speculation as being off target.
“I decided I needed to step up because a lot of Democrats were sitting on the fence regarding the war,” Murtha said. “We needed to show the country that something had to be done. We needed to show the country that there are two positions on this issue: President Bush’s and mine.”
Murtha said announcing his intentions to run for House majority leader was a difficult one. He said he enjoys his current position of ranking Democrat on the House Appropriations defense subcommittee.

Of course there are more than two positions on the issue. And assuming he wins his own race, I hope he enjoys his current position.

Anyway, four days later he (or more accurately, he as directed by Nancy Pelosi) was singing a different tune:

WASHINGTON Jun 13, 2006 (AP)— Rep. John Murtha, a candidate for House majority leader if the Democrats oust the Republicans from power in November, said Tuesday will not actively campaign for that post until after the elections.
Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi said Murtha was suspending his campaign "in the spirit of unity to achieve our goal of winning a Democratic majority in November."

At least Pelosi told the truth -- The Democrats goal is NOT about what is good for the country, it's not what they will do to make things better, improve our security, win the war on terrorism, or solve the budget problems. It's winning a Democratic majority.

His opponent in Pa, Diana Irey, had a good guess at what may have prompted Pelosi to put the kibosh on Murtha's run for leadership:

“Jack Murtha’s decision to suspend his campaign for House Majority Leader – curiously, announced by Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, rather than by Mr. Murtha himself – is just one more example that he is out of touch and in need of retirement from active duty in the Congress.

“Just as he demonstrated that he’s got an itchy trigger finger with his reckless pre-judging of U.S. Marines at Haditha – acting as prosecutor, judge, and jury and convicting them of ‘killing innocent civilians in cold blood’ before any charges had been filed, before any court martial had been convened, before a single Marine had been convicted – this latest episode, in which he announced a campaign for House Majority Leader (an office the Democratic Party doesn’t currently hold) on Friday afternoon, and then, 96 hours later, abandons the effort, leads one to wonder what in the world is going through his head

“Of course, maybe it wasn’t what was going through Mr. Murtha’s head, but what was going through Mrs. Pelosi’s head – to wit: In a year when she had planned to make corruption a key campaign theme, it’s possible she just decided that having a man whose thumbnail bio includes the words ‘Abscam unindicted co-conspirator’ running for a leadership position probably wasn’t such a good idea.

“Perhaps it’s not the Marines who are ‘overstressed,’ to use Mr. Murtha’s word. Jack Murtha has lost his way, and obviously needs a good vacation. It’s time to retire him from active duty in the Congress.”

I disagreed with Diana's press release on one point. Where she said "before a single Marine had been convicted", I would have said "before a single Marine has had his day in court".

Anyway, I think John Murtha has just learned the hard way what the Democrat party generally thinks of him, dragging him out when they need cover on national security, but not wanting to give him real power.

A post from DailyKos about President's Trip to Iraq

DailyKos got a lot of free media this past week, including a fauning set of articles in the Washington Post. A common theme was that they "Kosacks" couldn't understand why they didn't get more respect, given their power and superiority.

Well, I think posts like this are one reason they have a little trouble being taken seriously (well, that and the fact that they are currently 0-20 in getting their endorsed candidates elected).

"Bush Flees for Iraq (1+ / 1-)
Recommended by:ZappoDave
Trollrated by:Wisper

I don't think I've ever seen such a look of misery and dejection on the face of my daughter as I just did a moment ago. She just couldn't understand why the President would be going to Iraq when so many things are wrong in this country. "Doesn’t Mr. Bush care about us anymore?" she asked pitifully.

I sat down with her on the sofa and (as calmly as I could) tried to explain to her why the President seems to be abandoning his country. "Honey, I think his boss, Mr. Rove, sent Mr. Bush out of the country in order to keep himself out of the newspapers. You see, he wasn’t sure if he was going to be arrested today or not, and so he planned Mr. Bush’s trip ahead of time just in case...”

I tried to keep my voice steady, but it became increasingly difficult - the rage and feelings of helplessness were just too much. I think my daughter could tell something was wrong. I found myself at such a loss for words - nothing made any sense; nothing makes sense anymore. I finally had to admit, "Honey, I just don't know - I don't know what's going on in this country anymore..."

When I finished her lower lip started to tremble and her eyes began to fill with tears, "Daddy" she said, "why are the Republicans doing this to the country?" Well, that was it for me: I finally fell apart. She just fell into my arms and we both began sobbing for several minutes.

For once she had to comfort me and get me back on my feet. Sometimes I just think it's too much, but seeing the strength in my young daughter's voice helped me to get through."

It is hard to imagine how ANY President could "reach out and unite" people like this.

Fitzmas is cancelled -- hug a liberal, they'll need it.

If it wasn't bad enough for liberals that Al-Zarqawi was given two 500-pound bombs as a "going-away" present, or that the Iraqi Government is now fully formed, or that none other than the Kossacks hero Paul Hackett attacked John Murtha as recklessly indicting marines as the marines under investigation provide compelling refutation of many of the charges and investigative journalists poke holes in the charges.

Now they must deal with the depressing (for them news that) no indictment of Rove is forthcoming from the special prosecuter who previously acknowledged that no underlying crime was committed when Valerie Plame's employment was reported in the news. Says National Review's Byron York:

Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald has informed top White House adviser Karl Rove that Rove will not face indictment in the CIA-leak investigation, National Review Online has learned. The word came yesterday, when Fitzgerald told Rove lawyer Robert Luskin that he, Fitzgerald, did not plan to seek charges against Rove.

He reports a press release by Rove's attorney:

On June 12, 2006, Special Counsel Patrick Fitzgerald formally advised us that he does not anticipate seeking charges against Karl Rove.

In deference to the pending case, we will not make any further public statements about the subject matter of the investigation. We believe that the Special Counsel’s decision should put an end to the baseless speculation about Mr. Rove’s conduct.

THe left-wing blogosphere has been abuzz for over a month now about "Rove's indictment", which at last report had already happened but was under special super-secret seal, according to Leopold, the reporter who originally "broke" the story.

Signs of despair are everywhere, as Rove-Indicted memorabilia seems to be going cheap on E-bay.

(OK, that last things fake, but pretty funny).

So, if you know any liberals, be sure to stop by and give them a hug today. With all the bad news, they surely could use one.

Sunday, June 11, 2006

What is a Social Conservative?

That is the question Vincent asks over at TooConservatives.

I wrote a two-part answer, but it was so long I thought I'd strip it down and put the longer version over here so it takes up my space and not his.

I will try to summize the original post in it's own words:

What does it mean for a politician to be a social conservative? ... I used to believe three issues defined whether or not a candidate could be properly labeled a “social conservative” : guns, abortion, and gay marriage. ... my definition has changed into defining a “social conservative” as someone who lives morally.
Is someone a social conservative who is pro-life but yet has taken bribes? Is someone a social conservative who is in favor of the marriage amendment banning same-sex marriages, when they themselves have cheated on their spouses?
it is a persons character which makes them a “social conservative”. For preaching the conservative line, and living a truly conservative lifestyle are often not one and the same.

First, it is certainly true that espousing social conservatism is not the same as living a conservative lifestyle. But moreso, we shouldn't expect them to be the same.

Let me take the most obvious set of examples. A person could support gay marriage on principle, but be a heterosexual who only had sex with his wife and stayed married til death parted them. Personally moral, but not "socially conservative". Or, a person could oppose gay marriage and civil unions, but practice group sex with both sexes -- taking the social conservative government position, while living a personally hedonistic life.

The first man might have more moral "street cred" for his position than the 2nd, but that's because of people's biases, not based on the soundness of the underlying position.

However, it is clear that, if a practicing divorce lawyer thinks government should ban divorce, that would suggest a hypocritic approach to the issue.

There is a danger in taking a policy position/philosophy - "social conservatism", and mixing it with personal behavior, making judgments about other people instead of about the philosophy.

It is a dangerous road, but one that bloggers in particular relish. It's so much easier to attack people for their personalities, their failings, their moral flaws, then it is to debate what the appropriate philosophy is.
People try to live a philosophy, but people are NOT the philosophy, and nobody will perfectly embody a philosophy.

All humans are fallible. But a sound philosophy remains one regardless of whether it's adherants live up to its tenets. NOBODY lives up to the Christian view of morality, NOT ONE of us, but that does not negate Christianity, nor is Christianity defined by how they live up to those tenets.

On the other hand, in deciding whether a PERSON adheres to the philosophy of social conservatism, you would judge by what they espouse or support. So what they believe and say and advocate matters.
If they don't LIVE UP TO those things they espouse, they could well be hypocrits, but it does not mean that social conservatism is what they live, nor does it mean that they do not believe in the values of social conservatism.

We should not be judges of others personal lives. The bible warns against such action -- we should denounce wrongdoing, but should not leap from the righteous identification of wrongdoing, to passing judgment on the soul of the wrongdoer.

Applied to politics, people love to point out he failures of others, and to condemn those they hate for those failures. It is easy to go from recognition of an error, to a condemnation of the character of the person who committed the error.

The definition of a "social conservative" as one who lives a moral life is inaccurate, an attempt by those who do not have conservative social principles to gain inroads among those who do. A person can live a personally moral life but espouse a philosophy that is anathema to true social conservative principles.

The view that "social conservatism" consists of specific position on guns, gays, and abortion, is simplistic -- especially as it substitutes issues for philosophy. A philosophy is an underlying principle, which when applied to a specific ISSUE would lead to choosing one side or the other, or determining a specific solution.

Take for example gun ownership. The principle of strict adherance to the restrictions on government and the freedom of the people espoused by the constitution is not a "social" conservative principle, it is simply a conservative principle. But it is a good proxy for determining whether a politician is likely to engage in social engineering using government to shape society to his/her liking in defiance of the constitution's limitations on government power.

Regarding abortion, the social conservative principle that each life has value leads to the opposition to abortion. Itn allows different social conservatives leeway on the margins as they define what makes a "person". One might oppose birth control pills, while another might be OK with anything that stops implantation of the fetus while opposing further interference.

The post included the following definition of social conservatism:

“Social conservatism is an umbrella term for any ideology that supports a belief in traditional or natural law based morality and social mores and the desire to enforce these in present day society, through civil law, regulation, on the grounds that such social arrangements’ age infuses them with such value”

Social conservatism broadly defined is a belief in morality as found in religious writings. However, it is not the "age" of those teachings that infuse them with value, it is their success in shaping workable societies.

More specifically, "social conservatism" espouses "family values" meaning married parents who put their children and family ahead of personal aggrandizement, believe in discipline, oppose premarital sex/overly physical contact, oppose extramarital sex, divorce, and living together. It advocates the value of children, of churchgoing, belief in things bigger than yourselves, and belief in PERSONAL responsibility and charity, NOT government-funded versions.

It opposes pornography, suggestive movies and lyrics, as well as violence, bad language, and other things that attack the morals of our culture and corrupt our youth. It espouses the work ethic, not the welfare state. It supports public religion, thinks it's OK to pray in public, thinks schools oppose morality because morality is defined in our culture through religious teachings. It opposes situational ethics, believes that people should not steal from other people or use the state to do so.

In summary, it puts family ahead of government, children ahead of personal aggrandizement, espouses public religion, and personal responsibility/charity, not government as Santa Claus. It opposes the attack on societies morals, and believes government should protect the people from these attacks, just as certainly as government has a responsibility to protect the people from physical attack.

"Gods, Guns, and Gays" is a straw man repeated by opponents of social conservatism to belittle it. Evidence is overwhelming that society suffers when we ignore and attack moral values, but rather than open their eyes to facts and truth, the opposition, loving their license to immorality more than the good of society, attack a straw-man, in the hopes of suppressing, making fun of, and marginalizing social conservatives because they can't win in the arena of ideas.

Friday, June 09, 2006

Powell says border walls won't work

According to the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, Powell made the following comments while in Mexico City, Mexico on Thursday:

MEXICO CITY -- Former Secretary of State Colin Powell said Thursday that extending walls along the U.S.-Mexico border will not solve the problem of illegal immigration.

"The Berlin Wall did not work perfectly and the wall that the Israelis are putting up is not going to work perfectly," Powell said. "So, a wall alone is not the answer."

Note that he didn't actually say border walls won't work, he said a "wall alone" won't work. Of course, the Berlin Wall was remarkably effective, even if a few people escaped, and the Israeli wall has done wonders to cut down on suicide bombings in that country -- we would be ECSTATIC to have success like that in combating illegal immigration.

Who said something had to be perfect, anyway. After all, while Powell ran the State Department, it was FAR from perfect, and yet for some reason we are still stuck with it.

Does Marriage Matter to the Nurturing of Children?

In the debate over same-sex marriage, some people argue that maybe the answer is to have the state stop recognizing marriage altogether.

I have argued that state sanctioning of marriage is NOT for the benefit of people who get married, but rather it is a benefit to the STATE -- and therefore the state has the right to sanction only those marriages that provide benefit. As an intellectual exercise, I have suggested starting with a system in which marriage is NOT recognised, and from there thinking about what forms of societal structure we would want to encourage.

My conclusion is that doing so would lead to state recognition of marriage, but that was simply my feeling. Now someone has done an evaluation of studies on marriage, and found that, in fact, marriage DOES matter for children -- to wit, that children who grow up in a household with married parents do better than those who grow up in a household with unmarried parents.

The survey was performed by Robin Fretwell Wilson, a professor of law at the University of Maryland Law school. Her study, "Evaluating Marriage: Does Marriage Matter to the Nurturing of Children?", was published in the San Diego Law review in 2005.

She provided a summary of her article in an e-mail I received:

Dear Colleague,
Policymakers have argued recently that society should withdraw the legal and financial support given to marriage. Obviously, an important consideration in this debate is whether the State's support of marriage matters to the well-being of children. Until recently, social science studies contrasted families that were so dissimilar that nothing meaningful could be drawn from the studies about the importance of marriage. A pair of studies published in 2003 compared how children fare in families that contain biological, married parents with those containing biological, unmarried parents. These studies concluded that "marriage per se confers advantage in terms of" how children thrive and to the extent to which parents are willing to invest in children.
My latest article, Evaluating Marriage: Does Marriage Matter to the Nurturing of Children?, 42 (3) SAN DIEGO LAW REVIEW 847 (2005), evaluates the extent to which these newer, more carefully constructed studies can assist us in isolating the impact that living in a marital home has on a child's well-being. Although various selection effects may color the results, the transformative power of marriage seems to lie first in the greater permanence of marital relationships and, secondarily, in the motivation of the parties to invest in these relationships. In the article, I conclude that these studies provide a compelling justification for state support of marriage. By supporting marriage, the State is supporting children.

The actual article can be found here (pdf format). Seminal quote from the abstract:

Part II examines a pair of studies published in 2003 that compare children’s outcomes and parental investments in children in families that contain biological, married parents with those containing biological, unmarried parents. These studies conclude that “marriage per se confers advantage in terms of” how children thrive and to the extent to which parents are willing to invest in children.

House Republicans Cut 13.5 BILLION from Supplemental

The House/Senate conference has finished reconciliation of the house and senate versions of the supplemental appropriation. The House had previously passed a supplemental relatively free of extraneous items, but the "congenial" senate worked overtime, adding almost 14 billion dollars to the original request.

According to the Washington Post, they have now finished the conference:

House and Senate negotiators reached agreement last night on a $94.5 billion package to pay for Iraq war and hurricane recovery costs, after shaving numerous extraneous provisions that the Senate had wanted to stuff into the bill.
The agreement came after long negotiations. Some Republicans in the Senate, including Appropriations Committee Chairman Thad Cochran, who represents storm-ravaged Mississippi, had viewed the must-pass bill as an opportunity to address other pressing needs. The Senate bill wound up exceeding Bush's original $92.2 billion request by $14 billion.

Two particularly aggregious items were removed:

One item dropped from the bill: $700 million for a railroad relocation project along the Mississippi Gulf Coast. The compromise package also trimmed $1.2 billion from the Federal Emergency Management Agency disaster fund, which provides individual assistance and pays for debris removal. And it struck language that would have compelled the Pentagon to cover hurricane damage to shipyard facilities that would otherwise be covered by private insurance -- a provision that budget watchdog groups have pounced on as a perk for a major Northrop Grumman facility in Pascagoula, Miss.

Instead, the final language included $140 million for the Navy to help with infrastructure improvement costs related to Katrina. This money would be available to shipbuilders in the Gulf Coast who had existing Navy contracts and suffered storm damage.

The railroad provision was to build a new railroad parallel to an existing railroad that was just repaired with $250,000 million in federal money.

It's good to see that, finally, Republicans are showing a little bit of the conservative spirit that was why they were elected in the first place. And it's good to see the Senate once again put in it's place. When the senate is evenly divided, with their rules about 60 votes needed, it's just tailor-made for "compromise" that means taxpayers are constantly under threat.

Oh: The savings from the Senate version amounts to about $40 bucks per american family. So go to your favorite restaurant and celebrate.

Kennedy Sobriety Checkpoints

This was pretty funny. The group "Public Advocate of the United States" set up a "Kennedy Sobriety Checkpoint" in DC over Memorial Day weekend, to make sure no Kennedy's were driving around drunk or under the influence of drugs which might make them run over people on the way to vote.

Video Here.

Story Here. Highlights:

"Citizen volunteers have responded to the call and we have erected checkpoints at several intersections to prevent any Kennedy from driving in an impaired manner on Capitol Hill," said Public Advocate President Eugene Delgaudio. "We selected the long Memorial Day weekend due to the increased potential for a repeat of earlier car accidents."
Public Advocate designed the checkpoints to raise public awareness and to discourage impaired driving by Senator Ted Kennedy or Congressman Patrick Kennedy. The ultimate goal is to ensure the roads are safe for all motorists by achieving voluntary compliance of the drinking and driving laws by all Kennedys in Congress. That was accomplished this weekend

Thursday, June 08, 2006

Train Show Pictures

Pictures of my train show are uploaded to Brickshelf, and will be available after "moderation" is complete (usually no more than a day).

Here's one:

Democrats say Democrats may win 50th District (Column)

In last week's hectic"ness", I forgot to post my column from last week, which in a rare occurance was an expansion of a post i had made here previously, but included quotes from republicans to answer the democrats in the articles in question.

See it here, "Democrats say Democrats may win 50th District".

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

California Voters Soundly Reject Universal Preschool

As Kaine attempts to drum up support in Virginia for his first step in bringing Universal Preschool to our schools, voters in the liberal state of California soundly rejected a ballot measure establishing Universal Preschool in their state.

From the Sacremento Bee, "Preschool, library measures falter":

But opponents contended the initiative would create an expensive new education bureaucracy that would mostly benefit families that could already afford private preschools.

"The idea was warm and fuzzy -- everybody wants preschool for children," Amanda Riccetti, a San Francisco Montessori preschool provider and spokeswoman for the now 82 campaign, said as returns showed the initiative losing Tuesday night. "But the reality of Prop 82 is that it wasn't going to target those that it needed to target. And $2.4 billion for a new preschool bureaucracy was too much money for too little."

I addressed Kaine's plan in a column last year titled Universal preschool will come at the expense of private schools and daycare, in which I cited similar concerns:

For example, Tim Kaine (Democrat candidate for governor) supports spending $300 million a year for universal preschool for 4-year-olds. This is a good sound bite - more education for our kids, who can be against it? But this is a bad idea. It will waste money that, if available, can be better used for other education needs. It will harm religious preschools and private daycare centers, and lead to a government takeover of the preschool industry, restricting parental choice. And it will do nothing to improve educational outcomes.
Universal preschool not only spends money for children who will gain nothing, it gives tax dollars to parents who already pay for preschool or daycare. And businesses love it, because they don't have to provide daycare solutions for their employees.

We should reject the siren song of universal preschool in favor of refocusing existing programs that target those who truly need help.

I also included a good deal of commentary about how Universal Preschool will largely destroy religious preschools, just as universal public education has marginalized religious education. I note that while Kaine's proposal called for partnerships, it was certain that, once public schools had preschool programs up and running, the same people who oppose vouchers would call for cutting off funding for all religious preschool programs.

I had hoped, of course, that Kaine would lose and we wouldn't have to worry about this again. But he won, and unlike his promise not to propose tax increases, or his promise to back proposals to give local governments tools to stop development, OR his promise to support the marriage amendment, it looks like this bad promise is one he would at least like to keep.

Frankly, most kids don't need preschool. What they need is to be allowed to be kids, to spend time with their parents. We don't need new excuses to give the state control over children.

Hillary Outraged over attacks on 9/11 victims.

Hillary is up in arms over comments made about 9/11 victims and their families.

From the Toronto Star:

(Hillary Clinton) said she found it "unimaginable that anyone in the public eye could launch a vicious, mean-spirited attack on people whom I've known over the last four and a half years to be concerned deeply about the safety and security of our country."

What was Hillary so upset about? A search of the internet turns up this gem:

As to those in the World Trade Center . . . Well, really. Let's get a grip here, shall we? True enough, they were civilians of a sort. But innocent? Gimme a break. They formed a technocratic corps at the very heart of America's global financial empire – the "mighty engine of profit" to which the military dimension of U.S. policy has always been enslaved – and they did so both willingly and knowingly. Recourse to "ignorance" – a derivative, after all, of the word "ignore" – counts as less than an excuse among this relatively well-educated elite. To the extent that any of them were unaware of the costs and consequences to others of what they were involved in – and in many cases excelling at – it was because of their absolute refusal to see. More likely, it was because they were too busy braying, incessantly and self-importantly, into their cell phones, arranging power lunches and stock transactions, each of which translated, conveniently out of sight, mind and smelling distance, into the starved and rotting flesh of infants. If there was a better, more effective, or in fact any other way of visiting some penalty befitting their participation upon the little Eichmanns inhabiting the sterile sanctuary of the twin towers, I'd really be interested in hearing about it.

Oops. That's not the one -- that's a speech from Ward Churchill.

If you are searching the web for Hillary Clinton's statement attacking Ward Churchill, good luck.

Hillary reserved her outrage for a line from Ann Coulter's new book:

'These self-obsessed women seem genuinely unaware that 9/11 was an attack on our nation and acted as if the terrorist attack only happened to them. They believe the entire country was required to marinate in their exquisite personal agony. Apparently denouncing Bush was an important part of their closure process.These broads are millionaires lionized on TV and in articles about them reveling in their status as celebrities and stalked by grief-arazzis. I've never seen people enjoying their husbands' death so much."

(from NBC's Today Show)

Now, Ann is always too bombastic for my tastes. The problem is, her valid point is lost in the outrage over her over-the-top comments. IN this case -- if you enter the public arena on a political side, your ideas should be debatable, but with these activists, as with Cindy, their supporters would cry foul whenever someone disagreed with them, because of their loss.

But nobody believes they asked for it, or were happy at their loss, any more than Cindy is happy she lost her son, regardless of how she uses that loss, and her son's memory, for her own personal political vendetta.

But the outrage from the left over Ann, and their relative silence about Ward Churchill, is revealing -- as is the almost uniform denunciation of this comment by Ann from the right.

Outrage for political purposes is itself unseemly.

Murtha recklessly indicted Marines

Don't take my word on it.

Murtha is feeding an image of traumatized, out-of-control soldiers like characters in the movies "Rambo" and "The Deer Hunter."

"With one broad stroke, he's recklessly indicted all those Marines ... I don't know if he's gotten addicted to the microphones and the cameras. For him to continue to foam at the mouth, it's irresponsible, it's stupid, it's wrong."

Ann Coulter? Rush Limbaugh? Sean Hannity? Karl Rove? Jean Schmidt?

Nope. Former Democrat House Candidate, and the darling of the left wing, Paul Hackett.

If you are waiting for the house and senate democrats to leap to Murtha's aid, and to denounce Hackett, well, don't hold your breath.

Stop Blaming Others

My latest Potomac News Column, "Stop Blaming Others", is up now over on the column web site.

In this column, I use a specific, particularly outlandish example of a person blaming others for their own actions, to make a broader point that we need to take responsibility for our own actions, and stop looking for someone else to blame when we mess up.

This would apply to many people over the past year who have managed to blame other people for things they had control over.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Are you Free on the 13th?

It seems that the Democrat National Committee isn't taking the Virginia Primary as seriously as one might think. I got this e-mail from them:

Dear Charles,

Governor Dean is meeting on Tuesday, June 13th, at the Capital Hilton with a group of very powerful Democrats who live inside the Beltway (or at least pretty close to it).

While they are indeed powerful, most pundits and powerbrokers still don't understand how and why. They are the small donors giving whatever they can afford to make the Democratic Party and its 50-state strategy successful.

Please join us for this grassroots reception in Washington. If you'd like to attend, you have two options:

Get your Democracy Bond by making a small monthly contribution to the Democratic Party. By joining the Democracy Bonds community you join a group of Democrats committed to our party's future by making possible the long-term financial planning necessary to win.

Make a one-time contribution in the amount of $50.

To RSVP and make your donation, click here: (link deleted -- sorry , democrats)
If you have any questions, please contact call Jen Gonçalves at (number deleted).

Thank you, and I look forward to seeing you on the 13th!

Yours truly,Carl

Carl ChidlowFinance DirectorDemocratic National Committee

I'm thinking the democrats on THIS side of the Potomac might be too busy manning polls, and voting, to spend time on Tuesday driving into DC to meet with Howard. But maybe I'm wrong.

It's all relative -- New York's HS grant.

New York city's grant this year for Homeland Security is slated to be about 75 million less than last year, and they are pretty upset.

Meanwhile, in DC, we are spending THIRTY FOUR MILLION DOLLARS for the Asia Trail exhibit, a set of new "environments" for three pandas, the sloth bears, and a few other current zoo inhabitants.

Kind of puts it all in perspective.

The answer is Exercise.

I've been two three doctors about my current leg pain. I had previously been to doctors for a knee problem, a shoulder problem, and a dizziness problem.

In every single case, the prescription given was -- exercise. Yes, even the dizziness had an "exercise" which reset the stabilizers or something.

I now have a cool picture of my spine with two disks looking a bit droopy, squeezing into the little spine pockets. Years of being overweight do take their toll.

I am now officially down 24 pounds from my first doctor's visit, and have 53 pounds to go before I am no longer "obese", and another 25 or so to be "normal".

But my leg is beginning to feel better, and I now have real hope that one day I will realise that it hasn't hurt in a while.

I'll put the finishing touches on my column tomorrow morning, and then try to get some posts up. To tell the truth, I was afraid to post anything because I don't like to post ahead of time about what I'm writing about (I know I've done that as recently as last week), so when I'm not sure what I want to write about I don't want to post anything.

I've gotten hooked on Digital Cable music, I mostly listen to the contemporary christian while I'm blogging. They are now playing one of my current favorite songs -- just because of the tune's chord changes in the chorus. Music fascinates me. The song "All in the Serve", by Michael W. Smith.

I also plan to put my Train pictures up at my brickshelf site, and will include a link here in case anybody wants to see what they missed. I've got to edit them all for size first.

I can't believe the kids have less than two weeks of school left. Time has really flown by.