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Friday, April 30, 2010

Taking It to the States

States begin flexing their federalist muscles to limit abortion and shore up the thinly protected provisions in President Obama's Executive Order, in the wake of Obamacare becoming law.

Some examples:
Tennessee passed a law that requires abortion facilities to prominently post policies against coercion in an effort to stop forced abortions. Then the Tennessee legislature, with bi-partisan super-majorities in both chambers, passed a measure that would direct Tennessee to opt out of using state funds for abortion services in the state's health exchange.

Governor Dave Heineman signed into law a measure, which passed the Nebraska Legislature with an 80% margin, that would ban abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy based on the fact that unborn children feel pain. The law becomes effective in October, but will face a court challenge before then. The governor also signed a law that requires the abortionist to screen women for statistically significant risk factors that may put them at higher risk for psychological or physical complications following an abortion--and to advise the women of the results of the screening.

Georgia is considering a ban on abortions based on the race, or sex, of the child.
And there's more:
Idaho passed a law which provides comprehensive conscience protections for health care professionals.

West Virginia passed a law that protects a mother's right to view an ultrasound prior to an abortion by requiring the abortionist to inform her that she has the right to view one.

Oklahoma has had three pro-life bills signed recently into law. The first one, protects health care professionals' freedom of conscience by affirming their right to refuse to participate in the taking of a human life. The second regulates the use of the abortion drug RU-486. And the third one prohibits abortions based on the sex of the child.
According to USA Today, dozens of other states are debating new restrictions on abortion. No point in quitting now...



Not enough, yet? Maybe you need an App for that.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Restrictions Placed on Indonesian Police Candidates

Papua's police chief announced recently that any applicant who has had his "vital organ" enlarged will be considered "unfit to join the police or the military" because of anticipated difficulties during training.

One of those culture-unique problems, I guess. And here all I could think of was that the Papuans are sitting on a gold mine.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Perhaps a New Repeal and Reform Strategy

Somehow I doubt the president will leave Obamacare on the table.



Nevertheless, given the recent assessment by the Chief Actuary of the HHS' Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services, it ought to be. (HHT: John Goodman)

Podcast: Catholic Cave Dweller Ep.1

Greetings and Thank You's

Pilot episode. Long format. Introductions, sending a big "Thank you," considering a value-added tax (VAT), observations on this year's NFL draft, a side note from the DFL's gubernatorial endorsement, noting the 15th anniversary of the OKC bombing, and looking for Walter Johnson.

Includes experiments with different recording equipment, set-ups, and locations. Also a dry run with the hosting site.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Something from the E-mail Bag That Made Me Laugh #2

George W. Bush, Queen Elizabeth, and Vladimir Putin all die and go to hell. While there, they spy a red phone and ask what the phone is for. The devil tells them it is for calling back to Earth.

Putin asks to call Russia and talks for 5 minutes. When he is finished the devil informs him that the cost is a million dollars, so Putin writes him a check.

Next Queen Elizabeth calls England and talks for 30 minutes. When she is finished the devil informs her that the cost is 6 million dollars, so she writes him a check.

Finally George W. Bush gets his turn and talks for 4 hours. When he is finished the devil informs him that the cost is $5.00.

When Putin hears this he goes ballistic and asks the devil why Bush got to call the USA so cheaply.

The devil smiles and replies: "Since Obama took over, the country has gone to hell, so it's a local call."
Sometimes you can't help the things you laugh at. It's been that kind of week.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Clinton Goes to Oklahoma City Again

Former President Bill Clinton tries to connect the dots again between dissent and violence.

While it is not a surprise, given the nature of his political inner beast, that he would dust off an argument that did not work the first time, 15 years ago, it is still disappointing. And Oklahoma's US senators will have none of it. While Tom Coburn dismissed the former president's remarks as cheapening Oklahoma City's tragedy, Jim Inhofe was more direct:
People in Oklahoma are much more offended by his remarks than those in Washington. For those of us in Oklahoma, it is a huge deal. We think of it in terms of personal losses. For him to exploit our personal losses for personal and political gain is unconscionable.

Despite not moving to Oklahoma City until 18 months after the bombing, I can relate to Sen. Inhofe's comments. Whenever anyone visited us for the first time during the 7 years we lived there, we always took them to Ground Zero.

There was no avoiding the feeling each time; that steady, steely burn those of us outside New York and DC felt in the wake of September 11th. Multiply it by an order of magnitude and you start getting close to the response of seeing the shell of the Alfred P. Murrah building, the tattered Water Resources Board building, and particularly the chain link fence covered with notes, pictures, flowers, stuffed animals and the like. Despite being downtown, the site was always quiet, adding to the emotion.

That it was two domestic malcontents only added to the nonsensical nature of it. A foreign attack is at least comprehensible. This was something different. And, no, it was not fomented by talk radio. The president was as wrong then as he is now. The seeds then were sown in the minds of the wing nuts by not one, but two, pooch screws by the Justice Department in the two and a half years prior. Nevertheless, the operative phrase here is "wing nuts." Extremists acting in isolation.

President Clinton correctly describes how extreme the views and actions that day 15 years ago were, as well as how today we are "more connected than ever before, more able to spread our ideas and beliefs, our anger and fears." But it is simply wrong to think that such interconnection and access create or fill echo chambers of extremism. Rather, having more real connections builds solidarity.

We became friends with a woman, who was injured in the Water Resources Board building. One of our children's teachers lost her husband that day. A family in the neighborhood next to ours lost a wife and mother. It was not difficult to form multiple one-degree-of-separation relationships. For example, not even transplants would think of naming their boys "Timothy" when we lived there, much less natives, out of deference to the unfortunate pain linked to the name; I don't imagine it has changed much today. For his notorious ability to connect with people, it would seem Mr. Clinton failed to make a meaningful connection (beyond his "I feel your pain" boilerplate) with the people of Oklahoma City.

To link what is happening with the Tea Party movement today with the motivations and world views behind the Oklahoma City bombing is bad analysis at best. And, as a former Oklahoman who wasn't even there when that act of evil was committed, I, for one, find it untenable.

May no city, no state, no nation ever have to endure something like it. And let us hope to recognize that personal connections like those forged in the aftermath are a key to preventing it from happening again.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Bumper Sticker Thinking #6



An oldie, but a goodie, spotted on Co. Rd. 42

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Watch Out for Kool-Aid Drinkers Today



I like Greg Gutfeld's take on people looking to infiltrate upcoming Tax Day Tea Party rallies:
But here’s what I love: The guy’s goal is to act racist and homophobic, in order to create…proof of racism and homophobia! Which means, he’s pretty much proved that none of it exists in the tea parties, if he has to go to the trouble of importing the stuff.

And, he’s also invented a new way for racists to get away with being racist: just say you’re an undercover liberal!

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Love the Ballpark, Hate the Corporate Welfare

On the Ballpark, Part 2

During the Twins radio broadcast on Monday, Commissioner Bud Selig stopped by the booth for an in-game interview. It was actually more like a gush-fest at how impressive Target Field is. The commissioner has overseen the creation of 22 new parks during his tenure as part of his push to correct the artificial dislocations that existed in Major League Baseball's finances. That's all well and good. (There's probably a whole other post on that topic, not to mention the Steroids Era that also occurred on his watch.)

He then went on to talk about how rewarding having this particular ballpark built is because of the struggle to get it done, including taking a shot at Jesse Ventura for not being cooperative and at those of us who didn't support the public funding of the project. "And where are those naysayers now?" he asked mockingly. "Probably in the stands," answering himself.

This is a fallacy that never gets old. If I don't like how Social Security is structured and advocate for something different, it is somehow hypocritical and illegitimate to actually take what benefits I can get from a system into which I paid for decades.

It's not that I don't like baseball, or the Twins, far from it. It's not that think it is illegimate for a community to decide expressly that they value something like a new ballpark and are willing to subsidize it, far from that, too. No, what rankles is this idea that keeps getting pushed that billionare businessmen are so inept they cannot figure out a way to make a go of it without a hand-out. Please.

So the billionares got their subsidy and shifted their business risk onto the taxpayers. In return they do make a show of good faith and give the local kid a big payday and giving us a chance to enjoy excellent baseball by a contending team, and we have a nice place to take the unique opportunity of sampling such culinary delights as walleye on a spike for the tune of $11. So it goes. I'll be visiting the ballpark in a few minutes for the first time, and I fully intend to enjoy it. Why the heck not? I love baseball, and I paid for part of it.

Choice My Foot

One more demonstration that Planned Parenthood is less about "giving women the choice of what to do during a pregnancy" and more about pushing a (deadly) product.



Even if the ban on federal funding of abortion somehow holds up, you can take it to the bank that federal dollars will find their way to subsidizing "health consultations" as prejudicial and inaccurate as this as a normal course of business.

Domeball was Real Baseball

On the Ballpark, Part 1

In Sunday's game against the Yankees, Rays third baseman Evan Longoria sky-ed, or rather "ceilinged," a pop-up that struck the catwalk, which is part of the roof's support structure, in fair territory. A sure out was redirected so that it landed safely for a single.

For the common visions of grand pastures, baseball is in reality a city game. It's heydey tracked with the rise of the industrial city. Growing up, kids played it wherever they could. The kids in our neighborhood growing up played in back yards, on the street, in a parking lot, on an open lot, and occasionally on a ball field. The ground rules often depended on the venue and the number of players:
OK, we're playing pitcher's hand; a ball hit to the right of second base that goes out of the infield is a foul ball; if it goes through the trees and hits the fence on the fly, it's an automatic triple.
Just like these kind of rule changes we all may to make the game work when we were young, ballpark quirks are part of the charm of baseball. The Green Monster, Yankee Stadium's short right field porch, Crosley Field's "terrace," the goofy Polo Grounds dimensions (279'-483'-258'), Tiger Stadium's overhang, etc. As much as I could not stand watching a ball game at the Metrodome, it still hosted authentic baseball, despite the teflon sky, the baggie, and the springy turf, or perhaps because of it.

Putting up with the constraints that creates such quirks is every bit a part of the long traditions of the major league game. So in the wake of Longoria's dome-assissted single, the Yankees' protests ring hollow.

What does offend the sensibilities, however, is the self-conscious creation of quirks, i.e., Minute Maid Park's hill in center field, regardless the redeeming features it may have. This is why I'm glad to hear that the Twins apparently avoided such temptations with Target Field.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Bumper Sticker Thinking #5



Spotted in the grocery store parking lot tickling the scatological fancy of a couple pre-teen Troglotykes.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Both More and Less to Work than That

Garrison Keillor stumbles upon one truth, only to lose sight of another.

In an interesting bit of linguistic legerdemain, Garrison Keillor claims a conservative mantle and wonders where are the Obama administration's make-work projects. He apparently missed the memo that the president's first step in focusing his proverbial laser on jobs and the economy was to force through a medical insurance reform package that is as efficacious as the firing squad that stood in a circle.
It's the conservative in me that wishes we had an old-fashioned government jobs program, such as FDR's Works Progress Administration, which hired unemployed people to work to build roads, libraries, public toilets, hiking trails, tens of thousands of small useful projects. (When my dad saw the initials WPA on the cornerstone of a building, he said it stood for "We Poke Along," but he could afford to be disdainful since he'd been hired after high school by his uncle Lew to pump gas at Lew's Pure Oil station.) My inner conservative thinks unemployment is wasteful and damaging to the spirit -- 15 million unemployed, many more underemployed -- a disaster, a blight upon the land. Intolerable.
He then goes on to note that work is redemptive. And he's not alone in recognizing the spirit-building capacity of work; Pope John Paul the Great also saw the redeeming power of work:
By enduring the toil of work in union with Christ crucified for us, man in a way collaborates with the Son of God for the redemption of humanity. He shows himself a true disciple of Christ by carrying the cross in his turn every day in the activity that he is called upon to perform.

- Laborem exercens
It's hard to argue that there isn't value in work, particularly when there so clearly is. As cliched as it has become, there is some truth in recognizing that minority joblessness has been disproportionate in this last recession. For example, while the national unemployment rate has been hovering near 10%, the rate for African-Americans has grown to more than 15%. Moreover, last November, Pew released a study linking upward mobility for the following generation to a family discipline of saving, which, among the wealth-starved poor, can only come from earnings, i.e., work. I would imagine that traditional and self-styled conservatives alike would be in favor of (or at least not oppose out of hand) something like this coming from the White House in response:
Employment is a cornerstone of America's vibrant communities and benefits individual families by building stability and long-term financial security. The President has issued a challenge to the private sector to encourage them to join the effort to close the gap that exists between the employment rates of minorities and non-minorities. The President also announced the goal of increasing the number of working minorities workers by at least 15% with in the next 6 years. As part of his initiative to dismantle the barriers to employment for anyone who wants to work, the President will announce etc., etc.
The cautionary tale here (and you knew there was one) is that those words describe nearly word-for-word President George W. Bush's policy for home ownership, a similarly "conservative" notion. Statecraft as soulcraft may be all well and good (particularly in theory), but does anyone care to hazard a guess as to how a bursting (or at least a long-time deflated) jobs bubble might look? I suppose we could always go to war were that to happen.

No, lest we forget the folly of Alan Greenspan's "soft landing" trope, pumping the value of anything with the machine of government leaves behind a mess when it pops, which it will inevitably.

Wednesday, April 07, 2010

Whatsoever You Do... Love Life



(HHT: Divine Ripples)

Cracks in the Left's Hate?

It wasn't that long ago that Sarah Palin, Michelle Bachmann, and Sean Hannity, would have drawn a crowd of mouth-frothers unable to restrain themselves from getting downtown to speak "truth" to the power of the Evil Right.

However, about an hour before the event, the Troglodytrix, who is attending the NCEA convention, spotted only a half-dozen protesting outside the Minneapolis Convention Center.

*** Sidebar ***
Garrison Keillor's keynote speech this morning apparently only had one thing in it that insulted the Church enough to get people to stand up and leave.

Yep, something about the sex abuse scandal. Good guess.
*** End Sidebar ***

Six people seems a pretty tepid response for three of the horsemen of the apocalypse riding into town, setting to undo the Great Hope of Change (or is it Great Change of Hope?) and commit other crimes against the people. I suppose there could have been more sequestered somewhere else, but sheesh, is the local Twin Cities leftosphere losing its sand?

Perhaps, unlike Capt. Christopher Pike, self-styled progressives can't keep up the hate.



Somehow, I doubt that is true. Why stop after only 10 years?. I'd be surprised if the protests didn't heat up soon.

Monday, April 05, 2010

Baseball Predictions 2010

Yearly event...

American League
East - New York Yankees
Central - Minnesota Twins
West - Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim
Wild Card - Tampa Bay Rays

National League
East - Philadelphia Phillies
Central - St. Louis Cardinals
West - Los Angeles Dodgers
Wild Card - Colorado Rockies

World Series
Phillies over Rays

Other comments...
1. I'm rooting for a re-match of the '87 Series with a similar result
2. The Angels still have the most cumbersome name in all of American sport
 
[submitted by e-mail]

Friday, April 02, 2010

John Paul the Great on Salvation #2

Good Friday

Through Christ's sacrifice on the Cross, the victory of the Kingdom of God has been achieved once and for all. Nevertheless, the Christian life involves a struggle against temptation and the forces of evil. Only at the end of history will the Lord return in glory for the final judgment with the establishment of a new heaven and a new earth; but as long as time lasts, the struggle between good and evil continues even in the human heart itself.
Centesimus Annus

Thursday, April 01, 2010

Apparently It's Atheists Day

At least that is what I discovered in the e-mail bag:

April 1st is Atheists' Day...
"The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God."
— Psalm 14:1 (1599 Geneva Bible)

Also in the e-mail bag was an interview of Vera Sharav by Suzan Mazur. Ms. Sharav is the founder and president of the Alliance for Human Research Protection (AHRP), a watchdog group for the protection of human rights in biomedical research. Very well. What caught my attention, however, was the in-quest-of-a-conspiracy tone of questioning.

A little poking around reveals that Ms. Mazur claims to have unearthed a discovery behind closed doors that will shock (Shock! I tell you!) the world of evolutionary science. Okaaaaaayyyyy.

It all comes across as as breathless as the ID movement types, or maybe Glenn Beck when he needs some time off.

Just before dismissing her as being allied with the black helicopter crowd, I found out that atheist curmudgeon Paul (PZ) Meyers (he of "It's a frackin' cracker" fame) does not care much for Ms. Mazur and so thought maybe she is worth a second look. (No, I didn't really.) On this one, Herr Meyers is right.

Having not been on his site in a while, I poked around some. It seems that Mr. Meyers now styles himself as an Affirmative Atheist, discarding the Uppity Atheist moniker. Nah.. More like jerk, same as it ever was. (If you follow the link you may want to try the bulk of the comments, if you're interested in completing a hugger-mugger of vitriol, ignorance, and shoddy thinking.) Actually, I think zealot fits best. The plus is that zealots can still make good converts, but not all. (Yes, that was a biblical allusion.)

Update:

On the positive side, I did get reintroduced to John Wilkins' Evolving Thoughts, which includes a link to this bee post that got me laughing so hard I cried.

Pope Benedict's Prayer Intentions for April

General:
That every tendency to fundamentalism and extremism may be countered by respect, tolerance, and dialogue among believers.
Missionary:
That persecuted Christians may persevere, sustained by the Holy Spirit, in witnessing to the love of God for all, even for those who persecute them.
For more info, see the Apostleship of Prayer.

This month we also offer a special prayer for the Church in crisis:
God of our fathers, renew us in the faith which is our life and salvation, the hope which promises forgiveness and interior renewal, the charity which purifies and opens our hearts to love you, and in you, each of our brothers and sisters.

Lord Jesus Christ, may the Church renew her age-old commitment to the education of our young people in the way of truth and goodness, holiness and generous service to society.

Holy Spirit, comforter, advocate and guide, inspire a new springtime of holiness and apostolic zeal for the Church.

May our sorrow and our tears, our sincere effort to redress past wrongs, and our firm purpose of amendment bear an abundant harvest of grace for the deepening of the faith in our families, parishes, schools and communities, for the spiritual progress of our society, and the growth of charity, justice, joy and peace within the whole human family.

To you, Triune God, confident in the loving protection of Mary, our Mother, and of all the saints, do we entrust ourselves, our children, and the needs of the Church.

Amen.

- adapted from "Prayer for the Church in Ireland," Pope Benedict XVI, 2010

April Fool's Day Winner!

Unfortunately, Rep. Johnson seems to be serious. The admiral did a better job of keeping it together than I did.



(HHT: Judd)

No Fooling, We Could Use Some Common Sense

A friend forwarded me recently Kipling's "The Gods of the Copybook Headings:"
As I pass through my incarnations in every age and race,
I make my proper prostrations to the Gods of the Market Place.
Peering through reverent fingers I watch them flourish and fall,
And the Gods of the Copybook Headings, I notice, outlast them all.

We were living in trees when they met us. They showed us each in turn
That Water would certainly wet us, as Fire would certainly burn:
But we found them lacking in Uplift, Vision and Breadth of Mind,
So we left them to teach the Gorillas while we followed the March of Mankind.

We moved as the Spirit listed. They never altered their pace,
Being neither cloud nor wind-borne like the Gods of the Market Place;
But they always caught up with our progress, and presently word would come
That a tribe had been wiped off its icefield, or the lights had gone out in Rome.

With the Hopes that our World is built on they were utterly out of touch,
They denied that the Moon was Stilton; they denied she was even Dutch;
They denied that Wishes were Horses; they denied that a Pig had Wings;
So we worshipped the Gods of the Market Who promised these beautiful things.

When the Cambrian measures were forming, They promised perpetual peace.
They swore, if we gave them our weapons, that the wars of the tribes would cease.
But when we disarmed They sold us and delivered us bound to our foe,
And the Gods of the Copybook Headings said: "Stick to the Devil you know."

On the first Feminian Sandstones we were promised the Fuller Life
(Which started by loving our neighbour and ended by loving his wife)
Till our women had no more children and the men lost reason and faith,
And the Gods of the Copybook Headings said: "The Wages of Sin is Death."

In the Carboniferous Epoch we were promised abundance for all,
By robbing selected Peter to pay for collective Paul;
But, though we had plenty of money, there was nothing our money could buy,
And the Gods of the Copybook Headings said: "If you don't work you die."

Then the Gods of the Market tumbled, and their smooth-tongued wizards withdrew
And the hearts of the meanest were humbled and began to believe it was true
That All is not Gold that Glitters, and Two and Two make Four—
And the Gods of the Copybook Headings limped up to explain it once more.

. . . . .

As it will be in the future, it was at the birth of Man—
There are only four things certain since Social Progress began:—
That the Dog returns to his Vomit and the Sow returns to her Mire,
And the burnt Fool's bandaged finger goes wabbling back to the Fire;

And that after this is accomplished, and the brave new world begins
When all men are paid for existing and no man must pay for his sins,
As surely as Water will wet us, as surely as Fire will bum,
The Gods of the Copybook Headings with terror and slaughter return!
I'll spare you the task of looking it up:
A copybook was an exercise book used to practice one's handwriting in. The pages were blank except for horizontal rulings and a printed specimen of perfect handwriting at the top. You were supposed to copy this specimen all down the page. The specimens were proverbs or quotations, or little commonplace hortatory or admonitory sayings—the ones in the poem illustrate the kind of thing. These were the copybook headings.
The thing about such pearls of wisdom, is that, to work, they have to be founded on natural law.
The natural law, the Creator's very good work, provides the solid foundation on which man can build the structure of moral rules to guide his choices. It also provides the indispensable moral foundation for building the human community...

- CCC #1959
Moral law is established for our own good and for our own final end, i.e., our own well-being, individually and collectively. Natural law expresses the common moral sense that enables us to distinguish good from evil; it is common in that it is both universal and established by reason. Believers know this moral law was established by God and its principal precepts are stated in natural law by reason in the Ten Commandments. Nevertheless, it is a notion that even a smug atheist can appreciate.

Kipling wrote his poem in the aftermath of World War I. Two of his children had already died. He was a man who likely felt besieged. Nearly a century later, it not only endures, but resonates. (It is being passed amongst the political right today in the wake of the passage of Obamacare as it was amongst the left during the early years of the war in Iraq.) As we enter the Easter Triduum, we would do well to remember that in an important way, the state of things is the same as it ever was, as is the solution.

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