Reasonable Nuts

Sometimes nuts. Always reasonable. We are REASONABLE NUTS.

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Only in Germany

... could this photo garner MORE votes than LESS. In America, the politician would be run out of office by MADD, among others.

Though pols in the U.S. generally steer clear of being photographed potentialy promoting alcoholic beverages (though some certainly seem to be promoting alcoholics), it is interesting to note a brewery named Bush in Belgium. Among their creations is a beauty with 12% alcohol content. How I'd like to have one of these in hand come the next presidential debate.

Angel-a

Does anyone else find this photo of German Chancellor Angela Merkel as a little interesting, what with the wings of the German eagle seeming to sprout from her back?

The R-N Frappr Group

Check out the link below our blogroll for our new Frappr map depicting the locations of the Reasonable Nuts - or - simply click here. Are you a reasonable nut? Go ahead then and add yourself with a comment!

Jimmy Carter's son to run for senate seat

One thing is for certain: his interpretation of the world cannot possibly be as skewed as his father's.

When yellow just isn't good enough

This just could explain recent failures to obtain timely relevant data from at least one of our intelligence agencies.

15 Minutes

The following is the text of an op-ed I submitted recently and which was apparently rejected (probably for the direct references to individuals, though without feedback, I do not know). It is based largely on a post I made here the other day. I post it in this form for posterity's sake:
A Review of the First 15 Minutes of the Film, "Ice Harvest"
Christopher Suleske

My wife, her brother, and I were looking to see a film this past Saturday night. We wanted to see "Walk the Line" (which my wife and I had already seen), but did not do so in order that her brother could see it for the first time with his wife. That said...

We tried to get tickets to "Pride and Prejudice". SOLD OUT.

So we opted for tickets to the latest John Cusack vehicle, "Ice Harvest". I didn't know anything of the film, but remarked to my wife, "It's got John Cusack in it; how bad can it be?"

Building on my naive statement, I am reminded of the two-word review in the film "This Is Spinal Tap" of the mythical album "Shark Sandwich": Sh-t Sandwich.

It was worse than that. Really.

I couldn't believe how bad it was initially, as it was directed by Harold Ramis, director of such seminal films of my early adulthood as "Caddyshack", "National Lampoon's Vacation", and "Groundhog Day". I feel as if this review is dedicated to him personally.

As the film opens, not a minute into the credits, we see a nativity scene. The camera pans around as the ice-covered diorama is rained upon. As the camera scans the figures, it focuses on the baby Jesus in His manger, where several drops of cold rain drip onto Him. I thought this tasteless, but didn't make much else of it. I have learned to increase forgiveness of the offenses I take in our era of tolerance*. Only after leaving the film 15 minutes later, did I find that both of my companions shared my offense.

Such is why I title this "A Review of the First 15 Minutes of the Film, 'Ice Harvest'", as that was all I saw. Actually, I saw less. Since a large portion of this section of the film takes place in a strip club, I found myself looking away from the screen in respect for my wife. It was as if I had taken my wife to such a place.

The leading man character, Cusack, is apparently hot to trot for the owner of said strip club, an improbably beautiful, well-dressed, and intelligent woman. The writer(s) of the story would seem to seek to dispel the stereotype of the chauvinistic distinctly male owner and the exploitation of women which occurs in clubs.

Personally, I can endure the errant S--- or F--- bomb, if used in a way which adds proper color to a story. I am much less resilient to relentless use of the names Jesus Christ and God in derogatory ways. This film had plenty of each. The first line of the film had the word F--- in it... "Ho F---ing Ho". It was almost as if it, like the rain on Christ, was an overt warning.

All - or most - is forgiven in my view IF THE STORY IS AT LEAST FUNNY. This story was not in the least. I chuckled perhaps once in the 15 minutes. The audience seemed to agree with me. For a comedy, however dark, there was precious little laughter.

About 10 minutes into the travesty, my wife and I began debating leaving. A few minutes later, my brother-in-law leaned over and asked "how are you doing?" We said "we're about ready to go. Let's see if it gets any better." I kid you not, the next word was F---. We left.

At 36, that's the first movie I've left out of offense. Actually, it's the first I've left at all.

We sought our money back and received it. The manager, a young man of somewhat less years than me, agreed that he'd been somewhat offended in seeing the film himself. This was reassuring in this first step of sanity in a walk away from an insane Hollywood sh-t machine.

I really expected better of Ramis and Cusack. I get the notion of fielding a black comedy at Christmas. It's a little fun to let some of the air out of that gigantic balloon of Christmas Spirit. But Ramis delivers a balloon-bursting bomb with this effort. Really, Harold - drops of rain on a close up of the helpless Christ child? You may not share my faith, but don't you think this is the least bit disrespectful? The Christ child represents everything good that Christians live for - to bring that hope and light into the world. Your silly raindrops reveal your disdain.

Oh, it was just a little rain.

Riiiiiiight.

The wife and I went to see "Walk the Line" again this past Sunday. I cannot recommend the film more highly than to say you need to see it. Just as "Ice Harvest" was the first film I have ever left, "Walk the Line" is the first film I have twice paid to see. That I saw them a day apart is no surprise to me.

Harold, I forgive you now as I long ago forgave you for "Club Paradise" (for which I did not get back my money). Now try again.

~-~


* - tolerance, defined through popular usage, as "1 - the tacit enduring of all that is not directly referential to Biblical Christianity. 2 - the elevation of a minority of voices of lesser logical and moral merits concomitant with the abasement of an established majority of voices whose merit is not of logical or moral dispute.

A picture is worth a 1000 words...

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Yep! That's Her Real Haircolor.

Ann Coulter bitchslaps Lydia Cornell.

And rightly so. This has got to be either the most vapid liberal space cadet I ever seen, or the best political tongue-in-cheek satire known to man. Put Scrappleface, IMAO and Iowahawk together for a brainstorm session and you couldn't come up with better way to lampoon leftist thinking.

My personal favorite:

I’ve been bewildered to the point of jaw-gnashing agony at how certain fundamentalists can call themselves Christian, when they do not follow the teachings of Christ! I feel I’m going insane. Right after the 2004 election when You-Know-Who was elected, I actually developed a nervous tic in my left eye, like the Police chief in the Pink Panther, who was driven berserk by Inspector Clousseau.


Just for that line, you can expect a little something extra in your secret monthly check from Karl Rove.

And yes, she is the blond daughter from Too Close for Comfort.

UPDATE: In his comments, Mr. Suleske expresses some reservations about Coulter. I have them too, ever since 9/11 where she advised that the US, regarding terrrorist states, "invade their countries, kill their leaders and convert them to Christianity." She's yet to retract that statement.

Ann Coulter is who she is. She's a known quantity, a good columnist but not the end all, be all of American political thought. Her research is excellent, her logic is great, and her jabs are funny, but she always goes one step too far. In her defense, there has been, and currently is, behavior among the American left that borders on reckless, socialistic and treasonous. She calls it as such in the strongest terms she can think of.

Before doing family shows like Full House and America's Funniest Home Videos, Bob Saget did standup comedy that, to the chagrin of many, was actually quite raunchy and profane. More recently, he was interviewed about this period of his career. Saget said he wasn't trying to be dirty; he was just saying what he found to be the most funny. Coulter is the same way, saying what makes the most impact, while ignoring the appropriateness of those comments. The individual reader decides whether the good of what she says outweights the bad.

Also, it looks like Saget may be falling into his old routine.

A Breath of Fresh Air

Here is a snippet from the Left Coast Report, which relates a story that is a breath of fresh air. After all of the leftist bias in the media and in Hollywood, Bruce Willis is apparently making a movie that (*gasp!*) takes pro-American stance of the Iraq war.

Bruce Willis to Make Pro-Iraq War Film
Bucking the trend in Hollywood, Bruce Willis plans to make a film about the war in Iraq where American soldiers will be shown to be the valiant heroes they really are.

The flick will spotlight the highly decorated members of Deuce Four, the 1st Battalion, 24th Infantry, which has been waging the battle against the insurgents in the town of Mosul in northern Iraq.

Willis described the members of Deuce Four to the London Times as "guys who do what they are asked to for very little money to defend and fight for what they consider to be freedom."

Willis believes it would be wrong for Americans to give up on Iraq just as progress is being made. "The Iraqi people want to live in a world where they can move from their homes to the market and not have to fear being killed," Willis said. "I mean, doesn't everybody want that?"

The actor recently offered a $1 million bounty for the capture of any of Al-Qaeda's most wanted leaders such as Osama bin Laden, Ayman Al-Zawahiri or Abu Musab al- Zarqawi.

He told MSNBC, "I am baffled to understand why the things I saw happening in Iraq are not being reported."

The Left Coast Report thinks the Bush administration ought to hire Willis as its communication director.

Hats off to Bruce!

Due Diligence: Rush Limbaugh

On my first major blog post, I'd thought we jump right in with some good ole' fashion internet gumshoe reporting; see how much we can find out about people and what we can do with this here internet thingy. The internet makes easily obtainable to the public sources of information--always openly available--but previously known only to a few. Means of research commonly used by law enforcement, reporters or financial institutions are now literally at your fingertips. Case in point:

Rush Limbaugh is the most nationally syndicated talk radio show in the country.

He lives in Palm Beach County, Florida. He often says so on his show. Also easily available is his full name: Rush H. Limbaugh, III.

If we go to the Palm Beach County Property Appraiser, and do a search for Limbaugh we find that "R H Limbaugh" owns property along North Ocean Boulevard in Palm Beach.

Public information for that property is found here. Among the information immediately visible is the following the following:

  • He originally paid $3.9 million for the property.

  • The property is a 2.92 acre lot with a 31,761 sq. ft. house built on it.

  • The property is assessed for a total value of around $30 million. This year, Rush will pay $436,088 in property taxes.

  • A mailing address given for the owner of the property is P.O. Box 2182, Palm Beach, FL 33480-2182


  • When we go to the Structural Detail link, we get to learn more about Rush's residence.

    This part of Limbaugh's residence consists of four buildings, build in 1992. The main building is a 5br/6.5ba, 2 story home with a stucco exterior and hardwood and marble floors on the inside, complete with garages and patios. Somewhere on the complex is an indoor pool and an elevator. Two of the other outbuildings were build in 1997 and 2001 respectively. The later one contains 2br/2.5ba, perhaps a guest house or a servants' quarters. Floor plans are available for these buildings.

    We also see that Limbaugh also acquired an adjacent older house through his now ex-wife Marta F. Limbaugh, a 4br/3.5ba also with an indoor pool built in 1934. They paid $2.3 Million for this property, with a 2005 property tax of $26,236.00.

    Deeds for these parcel can be found here, here and here. Limbaugh owns property under "R.H. Property Holdings, L.C." and "The RH Trust". Other documents show (1) that he got the kitchen and bathrooms remodeled in 2002, (2) that the trust bought and sold an adjacent parcel, and that (3) they’ve bought for $450,000.00 and kept this parcel, a relatively small 4br/3ba brick house built in 1951 (vesting deed here). It would appear that Limbaugh is trying to buy out his neighbors and expand his estate.

    All these details on where Rush lives come into focus when we see a satellite image of his residence on the corner of N. Ocean and Mediterranean . He’s carved out quite a nice niche for himself on the Florida barrier island, beachfront property only a mile away from a marina and a golf course.

    A little more digging revealed two phone numbers for the "RH Trust". One was a fax machine and the other, at last check, just rang until some weird beeps picked up.

    None of this information was acquired through illegal, mendacious, or even impolite means. It’s all public record easily acquired on the internet, if you know where to look.

    Disclaimer: The "Due Diligence" series is a work with political, literary, artistic and scientific merit protected under the First Amendment, and a republication of readily available public information. It is not the will or intent of the author(s) or the webmaster(s) to harass or cause emotional distress to any party, or to aid and/or solicit those who do. Any incidents of use of this information to harass or "cyberstalk" a party will be reported to the appropriate authorities.

    A review of the first 15 minutes of "Ice Harvest"

    The missuz, her brother, and I were looking to see a film Saturday night. We wanted to see Walk the Line (which the missuz and I had already seen), but did not do so in order that the missuz' brother could see it for the first time with his missuz. That said...

    We tried to get tickets to Pride and Prejudice. SOLD OUT.

    So we opted for tickets to the latest John Cusack vehicle, Ice Harvest. I didn't know anything of the film, but remarked to my wife, "It's got John Cusack in it; how bad can it be?"

    Building on my naive statement, I am reminded of the two word review in the film This Is Spinal Tap of the mythical album Shark Sandwich: Shit Sandwich.

    It was worse than that. Really.

    I couldn't believe how bad it was initially, as it was directed by Harold Ramis, director of such seminal films of my early adulthood as Caddyshack, National Lampoon's Vacation, and Groundhog Day. I feel as if this review is dedicated to him personally.

    As the film opens, not a minute into the credits, we see a nativity scene. The camera pans around as the ice-covered diorama is rained upon. As the camera scans the figures, it focuses on the baby Jesus in His manger, where several drops of cold rain drip onto Him. I thought it tasteless, but didn't make much else of it. I have learned to increase forgiveness of the offenses I take in our era of tolerance*. Only after leaving the film 15 minutes later, did I find that both of my companions shared my offense.

    Such is why I title this "a review of the first 15 minutes of 'Ice Harvest'", as that was all I saw. Actually, I saw less. Since a large portion of this section of the film takes place in a strip club, I found myself looking away from the screen in respect for my wife. It was as if I had taken my wife to such a place.

    The leading man character, Cusack, is apparently hot for the owner of said strip club, an improbably beautiful, well-dressed, and intelligent woman. Yet perhaps such a person exists, given this story.

    Personally, I can endure the errant S or F bomb, if used in a way which adds proper color to a story. I am much less resiliant to relentless use of the names Jesus Christ or God in derogatory ways. This film had plenty of each. F this. F that. The first line of the film had the word F in it... "Ho F-ing Ho". It, like the rain on Christ, was almost a warning.

    All - or most - is forgiven in my view IF THE STORY IS AT LEAST FUNNY. This story was not in the least. I chuckled perhaps once in the 15 minutes. The audience seemed to agree with me. There was little laughter at this "comedy".

    About 10 minutes into the travesty, my wife and I began debating leaving. A few minutes later, my brother-in-law leaned over and asked "how are you doing?" We said "we're about ready to go. Let's see if it gets any better." I kid you not, the next word was F. We left.

    At 36, that's the first movie I've left out of offense. The first I've left at all.

    We sought our money back and received it. The manager, a young man of somewhat less years than me, agreed that he'd been somewhat offended in seeing the film himself. This was reassuring in this first step of sanity in a walk away from an insane Hollywood shit machine.

    I really expected better of Ramis and Cusack. I get the notion of fielding a black comedy at Christmas. It's a little fun to let some of the air out of that gigantic balloon of Christmas Spirit. But Ramis delivers a balloon-bursting bomb with this effort. Really, Harold - drops of rain on a close up of the helpless Christ child? You may not share my faith, but don't you think this is the least bit disrespectful? The Christ child represents everything good that Christians live for - to bring that hope and light into the world. Your silly raindrops reveal your disdain.

    Oh, it was just a little rain.

    Riiiiiiight.

    By the way, the wife and I went to see Walk the Line again this Sunday. I cannot recommend the film more highly than to say you need to see it. Just as Ice Harvest was the first film I have ever left, Walk the Line is the first film I have paid to see twice. That I saw them a day apart is no surprise to me.

    Harold, I forgive you now as I long ago forgave you for Club Paradise (for which I did not get back my money). Now try again.

    * - tolerance, defined through popular usage, as "1 - the tacit enduring of all that is not directly referential to Biblical Christianity. 2 - the elevation of a minority of voices of lesser logical and moral merits concomitant with the abasement of an established majority of voices whose merit is not of logical or moral dispute.

    Monday, November 28, 2005

    Il Papa likes his Pradas

    One wonders if he's ever caught tapping his heels together, chanting the mantra "There's no place like Rome. There's no place like Rome..."

    Republican Liberty Caucus

    Hark! There is hope for the Republican Party. If only we can up the membership in the Republican Liberty Caucus from 8. :-)

    Ron Paul and what your congressman should know

    Firstly, a welcome and shout-out to the Protagonist, who is now posting at Reasonable Nuts. Having been a fan of his former blog, I can aver that you'll need your thinking cap firmly ensconced to consider his propositions - and that you'll need a shovel to dig through his copious research.

    Now onto other things.

    Congressman Ron Paul, a medical doctor and onetime presidential candidate for the Libertarian Party, has a weekly column he posts to his congressional website. He's known somewhat amusingly as "Dr. No" - a moniker given to him by his associates in congress for the fact he typically votes "No" on legislation he interprets as falling outside the boundaries of authority delineated by the Constitution. In this respect, he is a lone voice in den of spendthrifts.

    How many congressmen do you think understand the mechanisms behind this statement recently gleaned from Paul's site?
    The fundamental question is whether a central bank can manage the supply of money and credit better than the free market otherwise would. We shouldn't kid ourselves about the true nature of the Fed, which is inherently incompatible with real free market capitalism. Centralized planning of the money supply is a form of economic control that significantly affects prices, wages, and production levels. Remember how market economists once criticized central planning of prices, wages, and production levels in the former Soviet Union?
    You should consider asking your congressman meaty questions on subjects he or she should understand. Not what *you* should understand (e.g. how to raise your child), but what *he or she* should understand. This is such a subject.

    I suggest voting out of office any representative who cannot quickly answer your questions satisfactorily. Certainly, his or her assistants will do most of the answering - so consider this but a first line of questioning. If you can ask in such a way as he or she must respond "live", such as at a press conference, please do so.

    Sunday, November 27, 2005

    More Nutty Goodness!

    Hi, I'm Louis, a friend of Christopher's, whom he's invited to post on this blog. I'm cooking up some good posts for you all soon.

    Before then, take a look at this article by, of all people, Pat Boone. It's honestly one of the most philosophically/theologically profound writings I've read in a while. Just shows that Christians aren't dumb, and that you don't have to spend you're whole life in school to be a thinking individual. Reminds me of that time I heard an hour-long political speech on C-Span by The Ultimate Warrior.

    Wednesday, November 23, 2005

    Forgiveness

    Two thoughts on the revelation of a never-before aired interview with an embittered John Lennon:
    1. I hope he forgave his bandmates, who gave him so much, before his passing.
    2. When your friends and family really don't like your ladyfriend, it's usually for one or more good reasons.

    Nukes now

    Regarding electricity production through nuclear fission, the Finnish are right and the Germans are wrong.

    The United States needs a comprehensive energy policy that leans heavily on the most underutilized resource we have available to us: nuclear fission. We need it not now, but 20 years ago. Interestingly, however, in 2000, electricity derived from nuclear fission still represented 18% of total production. That is with no new plants having been built in quite some time. One wonders if we had stayed on course with nuclear power generation, where we'd be today.

    Tuesday, November 22, 2005

    Nothing worth doing can be achieved in a lifetime (?)

    Do we have the patience for long-term transformation?
    That's the primary question in a good screed by Erik Lokkesmoe regarding cultural change through the arts. He defines a decent standard for transformational art:
    Our standard should be this: great art, entertainment, and media leaves the audience a little better off than when they first entered the theater, turned on the I-Pod, or opened the book. Art doesn’t have to be happy or easy; it should, however, be a vehicle for recreation and re-creation, an echo of grace that reminds us what it means to be human and more than human.

    "X" man

    Obviously, CNN has caught wind of my posts here concerning Vice President Cheney's soon to be announced resignation and Condoleeza Rice's installation as his replacement.

    Matt Drudge quotes a rival (of CNN) network news director who gets to the point:
    "When has an 'X' ever aired on CNN before? Who had the graphic sitting in the key signal? Who generated the 'X'?"

    Prudence

    Republicans are hardly differentiated from Democrats these days, insofar as fiscal responsibility. Doubt me? Check out the "Porker of the Month" hall of shame from Citizens Against Government Waste (CAGW). In recent years, there are almost as many Republicans as Democrats on the list. The fiscal malfeasance of Republicans is all the more egregious, as they typically preach restraint, balanced budgets, financial prudence, etc.

    I pose this question once again: if our leaders cannot or will not spend with restraint, keeping in mind the budget and debt, then why should we?

    For me, the answer is that my God calls me to handle His finances (as all I receive is His) with prudence. It is called stewardship.

    "No fault" is the fault of all

    I use Google Mail, otherwise known as Gmail, as my personal e-mail service. Generally an excellent service, with helpful tools, reasonable response time, and massive storage. For this free service, Google inserts supposedly content-related ads on the far right of the screen. I generally don't even see them, as they are unobtrusive. This morning was different, however, as I couldn't miss the link for this one: It read "End your marriage NOW!"

    Because I had received an e-mail inquiring about the wife's and my weddding photos - and if we'd posted them yet (we're newlyweds) - Gmail picked up on keywords such as wedding and married and inserted an ad about how to easily end a marriage. I don't fault the engine that does that; it is only as intelligent as programmed. I do however chastise Gmail for allowing such an ad - promoting easy divorce, probably one of 2 or 3 principal problems in our western society. Gmail hardly stands alone in this, however; it is endemic.

    Monday, November 21, 2005

    Walking the political line?

    I read a reasonable review of "Walk the Line" over at Libertas. I was not amused with the politics injected into viewing Cash's life and was compelled to leave this comment:
    To all who would diminish Cash’s story to a treatise on politics, don’t do it.

    All good stories deserve more than that. Cash’s life, above all else, was a damn good story: the principal human struggle to see oneself accurately (that is, not all-bad, not all-good) and then taking that accurate vision, living a life humbled by failings and hopeful of the future. The film’s fulcrum is Cash’s having given up the drugs, but still despondent in viewing himself that all-bad little boy from Arkansas. At first he borrows the hope of another, June Carter, but eventually makes that hope his own as he learns to believe it.

    This is good stuff. Don’t miss this message in the attempt to make Cash a posthumous member of your party.

    Jimmy Carter's Christianity

    Jimmy Carter is unquestionably a nut - and I am not referencing his background as a peanut farmer. But lest you think him a reasonable nut, read this.

    My mom campaigned for Carter in 1976 - why, I'm not quite certain. My guess is that it was due to his blatantly playing-up his Christianity - much as did G.W. Bush in 2000. In fact, he won the Southern Baptist vote in both '76 and '80. When was the last time a Democrat did that? I remember being derided - at age 6 - by schoolmates whose parents noticed my mom's activism. Not that this matters, but I find it interesting that 6 year olds were teasing about such a thing. No, I take that back; 6 year olds will tease for pretty much anything.

    What bothers me about Carter's Christianity is not that he emphasizes only the teachings of Christ which could be construed as liberal within today's politics. What bothers me is that he then uses this Christ - an incomplete Christ - to pimp his leftist message. It bothers me just as much - more so even - when conservatives do likewise with their message, for I am more sympathetic intellectually to that message and expect more of my friends than I do my less-than-friends.

    Carter would seem to read the story of Jesus and the adulteress, yet stop short of the verse "Go now and leave your life of sin." Carter's Christ is a bearer of mercy without truth. The Christ of history stood one foot in both. The Christ of eternity is both.

    Temper Temper!

    President Bush, we all lose our temper from time to time - some (me) more so than others - but you're the president of the United States for crying out loud. Hold it together man! :-)

    At least you (now) have a good attitude about it. Consider apologizing to the reporter. I say this as a man who just had to apologize to a waitress Friday for treating her poorly when I was emotionally less than centered.

    Friday, November 18, 2005

    IBT Timeline

    Think the whole Islamic-backed terrorism (IBT) thing is overblown? Check out this timeline. It's a companion to a film being produced on the subject. Interesting to me is what I remembered from my childhood, as the timeline nearly parallels my own life. I especially recall the bombing of the Marine barracks in Lebanon and the myriad plane hijackings of the mid 80's. I recall the Iranian hostages of 1979 and the hostages who were taken in Lebanon, some freed through the arms-for-hostages scandal. Mixed in with episodes of the Dukes of Hazzard, Fantasy Island, and the Incredible Hulk, I saw seemingly repeating stories of Americans overseas kidnapped, killed. It was so bad in 1985-86, that my school's 2 week summer trip to Germany was cancelled; not enough parents would allow their kids to travel overseas that summer.

    I wonder if because of this, my generation does not largely accept IBT as a fact of existence, something which has always been and will always be. I wonder then if any generation in particular is more concerned with IBT than the others.

    One thing is for certain: plenty of us are damn tired of it.

    Now on DVD!: "Alan Smithee's The Passion of the Christ"

    I am somewhat torn in how to interpret the news that Mel Gibson's Icon Entertainment is suing Clean Flicks for what it terms copyright infringement. Clean Flicks edits popular releases for content, including:
    Profanity
    This includes the B-words, H-word when not referring to the place, D-word, S-word, F-word, etc. It also includes references to deity (G-word and JC-words etc.), only when these words are used in a non-religious context.

    Graphic Violence
    This does not mean all violence, only the graphic depictions of decapitation, impalements, dismemberment, excessive blood, gore etc.

    Nudity
    This refers to male and female front and back nudity.

    Sexual Content
    This includes language which refers to sexual activity or has sexual connotation. It also includes visual content of a graphic or stimulating nature.
    I don't know enough about the company's arrangement with productions companies and copyright holders to comment on the allegations. However, I can comment on the notion of editing films for content.

    Generally, I've taken an artistic purist's "all or nothing" approach, that is, if you can or will tolerate the content, then view the film; if you cannot or will not, then do not.

    That said, I am greatly in favor of an open marketplace. If copyright holders are willing to enter into arrangements that permit the editing of films and their distribution, then there must be a demand for such films. The purist in me may balk at the thought of a director's vision being altered, but so long as the original is available, I have no practical problem with this. Of course, the possibility exists that a title might become more popular in its edited form than its original, but this has happened before. How many other pre-teen boys (like me) grew up watching myriad James Bond films on ABC television, edited for sex, language, violence, and time? Most of the Bond flicks I've never seen in their pure format.

    Should Gibson lose the suit, he might request his name withdrawn as director. In that case, perhaps we will see the issuance of "Alan Smithee's the Passion of the Christ", starring George Spelvin as the hand with the hammer.

    Thursday, November 17, 2005

    Vice President Rice to take the oath of office soon...

    As I parroted earlier, the purported issues surrounding current VP Dick Cheney may have some amount of truth to them...
    Meanwhile, Cheney’s world is continuing to crack. Not only is he widely viewed as the administration official who launched the campaign to out Valerie Plame and almost certainly will be the focus of a struggle in court with Special Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald seeking his sworn testimony, but there are suspicions Washington Post star Bob Woodward’s source was Cheney. (On the other hand, Raw Story says the source may well have been National Security Adviser Stephen Hadley.)
    Then again, whomever took the Village Voice as authoritative in matters political? No slant there. Nor here for that matter. ;-)

    Don't look to Cheney to resign without a fight. But were he to do so, there is none so likely to fill his shoes than Rice.

    Monday, November 14, 2005

    The Republican Party Platform: A Bloated Beast

    Were this not within the realm of probability, it would be funny. Thanks to Scott for the attempt at lightening the mental load that is enduring the very real presence of non-conservatives in the Republican party.

    A Quizzical Reality

    I am at something of a loss for how to analyze this reality, i.e. liberal Republicans. In my simple political philosophy, party affiliation should fall quite distinctly along philosophical lines. This is, sadly, not how reality presents itself. There are an unreasonably large number of Republicans whose personal philosophies are antithetical to my own - and many more times than not, antithetical as well to the generally understood tenets of the Republican party. Such is why I prefer the terms libertarian and conservative to Republican, when describing myself. Perhaps this is how it has always been - that those of us who are philosophically motivated will go where we are most welcomed, if but in word.

    Historical Motives

    Forgive the affront to logic, but I have less than no respect for politically motivated types who ally themselves with a particular party for reasons other than personal philosophy. The least respectable reason among these is an assumptive history - a history which entitles one to forego a bold look at reality. Among such history, there is family history ("I'm in party X 'cause Pa and Grandpa were in party X."), regional history ("Every self-repecting New Englander chooses party X."), and ethnic history ("My people have always been members of party X.") to name a few. Static interpretations such as these of very dynamic histories is foolishness. Any respect for history is meaningless unless it serves as educator.

    A "truth" Stranger than Fiction

    The two questions that dominate my thinking at most moments are 1, "What is truth?" and 2, "How do my choices line up with that truth?" As such, the reality of liberal Republicans - people who have made choices which appear to fly in the face of what I have held as truth - well, this sends me back to question 1, "What is truth?"

    A Bloated Beast

    How do the views of a liberal Republican square with the platform of the Republican Party? I'd like to do that analysis for you here, but after pulling up said platform - all 92 pages of it - I decided this was beyond the scope of what I care to endeavor. Really, if a political party's governing document contains more than three times the number of words as does the United States Constitution (42,000 v. 12,000), the party itself cannot be expected to be able to succinctly communicate its message. At 92 pages, the message to me is "do not read this document". The wordy liberalism of our age has produced a document which could be roughly summarized "everything to everybody". Until recently, this had been the exclusive modus operandi of the Democratic Party. I am compelled however to give the Democrats my appreciation in crafting a party platform that is but 19,000 words. That's a full two Constitutions less than the Republican behemoth and a lot closer to something I might actually read on a very rainy weekend. I have heard many a Republican congressman claim to carry a copy of the Constitution in his coat pocket - some even taking it out on-camera to prove as much, but I have yet to hear one claim to similarly carry his party's platform.

    With a Republican party platform this wide, it can only be so tall. In the attempt at being a platform which elevates the views of all (regardless of their basis in truth), it renders in reality as something incapable of effectively elevating the views of any. The bloated beast that is the Republican Party platform, however reflective of the grand scope of today's Federal Government, is merely a surface example of a misunderstanding which lies at the core of the party.

    The Misunderstanding

    You could argue that the Constitution was purposely written to be simple and that the world of 1789 was a far simpler environment than that of today. You could further argue the Republican party's platform is the result of the attempt at describing and dealing with a complex world and that the Democrats' platform is far shorter because it is less reasoned, less grounded in today's complex reality. While I won't touch the last sentiment, I believe the prior ones are mistaken. The world today, while certainly more complex on the surface is just as simple as it has ever been at the core. The motivations which guide us personally are no more evolved than they were 20, 50, 100 or 1000 years ago. What has evolved is the rapidity with which we are expected to process surface compliexities. The misunderstanding is confusing this surface complexity with the core simplicity.

    The two fundamental levels, if you will, require different interpretive tools with which to effectively process information. Surface complexities require more of a shades-of-gray (maybe) approach, while matters of core simplicity require a more discrete black-and-white (yes/no) approach. Dealing with issues of surface complexity over time produces stress, while similarly dealing with issues of core simplicity over time produces peace.

    A Document of Peace

    The party platform should be a document of peace - that is, minimum complexity - and, as such, no more than a few pages at its core. While I understand that an issue, simple at root, can often require a complex resolution, these resolution strategies could and should be kept apart from the core document. A political party of principle is best served by its members fully understanding and capable of easily explaining its governing documents. The principal reason the Contract with America was so successful initially was its simplicity. Overburdened Americans respond very favorably to simplicity.

    Simple, Neat, and Wrong

    H.L. Mencken once said that "For every complex problem there is a solution that is simple, neat and wrong." This does not preclude the possibility of a solution that is simple, neat and correct, however it does bring up the point that for every one such solution, there are undoubtedly myriad wrong ones. Care must be taken to craft a party platform which, like the Constitution, is grounded firmly in history and tested against the backdrop of that history. Rather than conflict with the deepest sense of right and wrong in a man, it will resonate with that core, which some take as the image of the Creator. I envision that such a document, under ideal conditions and if fairly presented, will appeal to the vast majority of Americans - those whose core has not been so pelted with lies as to be beyond recognition.

    Recall the notion of "the Reagan Democrat". This was the Democrat who, while remaining loyal to his party for historical reasons, voted for the Republican Reagan in 1980, 1984 or both. Reagan had a strong simplicity to his presentation that resonated with complexity-weary voters. In a real way, Reagan was the embodiment of a simplified Republican party platform, even if the underlying platforms of his presidency were well in excess of 30,000 words.

    Does a simplified Republican party platform necessarily mean a lowest common denominator or "dumbing down" of the current document to suit the allegiance of all currently calling themselves Republican? I would argue that the current document is the incorrect starting point. A better point at which to start would at a retreat somewhere pleasant - a few days away from the surface complexities of modern life - with the first best governing documents of the United States, the Declaration of Independence and Constitution, as the sole reading material on the agenda. In addition to comfortable clothing, representatives of the current party should come prepared with a legal pad and pen. A party platform that cannot comfortably be written by one man with one pen and one pad of paper is not going to be read by one man with one iota of common sense.

    The Document

    Though there are several formats which might work, I suggest an outline, with introductory and closing comments, not to exceed a few paragraphs. The focus of that document should be maximizing "life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness", among the "certain unalienable rights" of man, and should be penned with an emphasis on ease of communication, not written with lofty or superfluous verbiage, as say, this document.

    The Wedge of History

    Reflecting upon history in light of the motivating core of simplicity in man will drive a wedge between the more conservative and more liberal elements of the current party. The primary reason for this is best explained by John Kekes in his essay, What is Conservatism?
    Conservatism, like liberalism and socialism, has different versions, partly because conservatives often disagree with each other about the particular political arrangements that ought to be conserved. There is no disagreement among them, however, that the reasons for or against those arrangements are to be found in the history of the society whose arrangements they are. This commits conservatives to denying that the reasons are to be derived from a hypothetical contract, or from an imagined ideal order, or from what is supposed to be beneficial for the whole of humanity. In preference to these and other alternatives, conservatives look to the history of their own society because it exerts a formative influence on their present lives and on how it is reasonable for them to want to live in the future. The conservative attitude, however, is not an unexamined prejudice in favor of the historical arrangements of the conservatives’ society. They are in favor of conserving only those arrangements that their history has shown to be conducive to good lives.
    Those who tend more to respect history as an arbiter of things "good" in society will remain with pad in hand. They will tend more than not to be conservative.

    Thursday, November 10, 2005

    History for Dummies: Jordan

    Dr. Walid Phares has a succinct and - more importantly - reasonable analysis of yesterday's bombings in Jordan. He explains by giving precious background (note to the mainstream news media: this is called "history"):
    First, one has to consider the weight of Jordan's religious divisions. Jordan is ruled by a prominent Arab Muslim dynasty, the Hashemites, who are a serious competitor to the Wahhabis. The Hashemites are not the equivalent of Monaco's princes in Europe. In the Arab world, the ancestors of the Hashemite King Abdallah were the legitimate rulers of Mecca and Medina until the Saudi clan of Wahhabis "invaded" Western Arabia in the 1920s. The remnant of the Hashemites established TransJordan with the help of the British as Wahhabism took hold of the peninsula and its religious shrines. Since then, the Saudi Kingdom exported fundamentalism, while the Hashemite Kingdom established a monarchy. The result: two fundamentally opposing views of Islam and the world.
    He then gives his "root cause" assessment:
    The "root cause" of Islamist action against Jordan is this: the Hashemites are moderate Muslims, possibly the most successful in distancing their religion from Zarqawi's barbarism. Jordan is modernizing and has become friendly with the U.S., the UK, Europe, and Arab moderates.
    I don't think most people know that Zarqawi - the face of jihadism, terrorism, and Al-Qaeda in Iraq is a Jordanian national. In bombing Amman, he's a little like Jordan's Timothy McVeigh, albeit a heck of a lot more "successful" in his freakish designs.

    Drunken Sailors: Part XIII - "Financial Collapse"

    "Financial Collapse" - must this be a term of negative implications? Couldn't stifling and soul-wrenching, utter and complete "financial collapse" be a good thing? I looked up the definition of collapse and must admit the first 5 were a bit challenging to this logic, but the sixth was more promising: to fold down into a more compact shape. In our age of miniaturization, compact is the way to go. So yes then, this could be the sort of "financial collapse" of which the Comptroller of the U.S. was recently speaking.
    U.S. Comptroller: Financial Collapse Looming

    Ronald Reagan once said that Congress always finds a need for the money it gets.

    In the past few years, Congress has been finding many needs.

    Now the head of the General Accounting Office has pulled out the soapbox, climbed up and shouted "enough is enough."

    David M. Walker, comptroller of the United States, writes in the latest edition of Business Week that limits are needed on both further tax cuts and government spending.

    Comparing America to the last days of the Roman empire, Walker says that fiscal irresponsibility is pushing the U.S. closer to the same fate that befell the Romans in their heyday.

    "Unfortunately, there is no question that both U.S. government spending and tax cuts are spiraling out of control," writes Walker. "Recent increases in federal budget deficits have far outpaced the cost of the global war on terrorism and incremental homeland security costs."

    While Walker admits that the $319 billion fiscal deficit in 2005 is lower than it was last year, he maintains it's still high - especially if federal spending climbs at the same rates we're seeing today.

    "The federal government's long-term liabilities and net commitments, such as those relating to Social Security and Medicare, have risen from just over $20 trillion in fiscal 2000 to more than $43 trillion in fiscal 2004, in large part because of the passage of the Medicare prescription drug bill in December 2003," says Walker.

    "This translates into a burden of more than $150,000 per American and $350,000 per full-time worker, up from $72,000 and $165,000 in 2000, respectively."

    Consequently, Walker says, it's time for the U.S. to get a grip on its finances - complete with government caps on spending and tax cuts, a serious re-evaluation of America's rampant consumer culture and a thorough review of every federal government program.

    "Believe it or not, much of the government is on autopilot and based on economic, security, workforce and other conditions that existed in the 1950s and 1960s," Walker writes. "It is time to rationalize and modernize the mission, programs, policies and operations of the federal government to reflect the challenges and opportunities of the 21st century."

    If that sounds like President Clinton's "smart spending" initiatives, it's no accident. Both Walker and the previous administration say that it's a disciplined approach - and not a wide-reaching scalpel - that will be key to limiting government spending.

    "Indeed, without a more disciplined approach to our fiscal challenges, policymakers as a default will tend to resort to across-the-board spending cuts and other sweeping measures," he says.

    "Such actions, even if used year after year and on a large scale, won't come near to closing our fiscal gap and will actually result in perverse incentives in some cases. For example, effective agencies and programs with reasonable budgets would be treated the same as ineffective ones with bloated budgets."

    Walker closes by citing the nation's first president, George Washington, calling him a strong believer in fiscal discipline.

    "In his 1796 farewell address, Washington admonished the nation to avoid 'not ungenerously throwing upon posterity the burden which we ourselves ought to bear.' Americans today would be wise to heed Washington's timeless wisdom."
    Note: I went to BusinessWeek to get to the source material, but the site requires a subscription. Thus, the above quoted material is the direct analysis from MoneyNews.

    Alito's raison d'être exposed: avenge 1964 Phillies loss

    It has been reported that Appeals Court justice and Supreme Court nominee Samuel Altio is a bigtime Philadelphia Phillies fan and that this, outside his career, is his one pursuit. The Reasonable Nuts have noticed that people who spread their non-career interests this singularly tend toward the rabid end of the fanatic spectrum. Given this very reliable hypothesis, I point your attention to a salient passage from an article posted today:
    Alito isn't using his time to just talk about weighty constitutional issues. He also found time to get into a little baseball talk last week with former Philadelphia Phillies pitcher Jim Bunning, now a Republican senator from Kentucky.

    Bunning said Tuesday that Alito had told him how he had been a lifelong fan of the club. In fact, a 14-year-old Alito watched the 1964 Phillies collapse after having held first place in the National League for much of the summer, losing 10 straight games and missing the World Series.

    Bunning finished that season with a 19-8 record and a 2.63 earned run average.

    "He proceeded to tell me about the 1964 season and how we blew the pennant," Bunning said.
    Perhaps nothing could easier drive a 14 year old baseball geek to the brink of insanity than the self-destructive last-minute slide of his home team. The psychological groundwork laid, the Reasonable Nuts are concerned with this "chance" encounter with Senator Bunning. We implore the Senator to beef up his security detail in the coming weeks.

    Wednesday, November 09, 2005

    "Duh" of the day: sex is up on TV

    It is no surprise to this casual viewer of things televised that depiction of sexual content on broadcast TV is way up in recent years.
    The study found that 70% of all shows include some sexual content, and that these shows average 5.0 sexual scenes per hour, compared to 56% and 3.2 scenes per hour respectively in 1998, and 64% and 4.4 scenes per hour in 2002. These increases combined represent nearly twice as many scenes of sexual content on TV since 1998 (going from 1,930 to 3,780 scenes in the program sample totaling a 96% increase between 1998 and 2005).
    Says the lead researcher on the study:
    “The increase in the number of TV shows with sexual content, combined with the increase in sexual scenes per show has led to a dramatic overall increase in sexual content on TV since 1998.”

    The Virginia Gubernatorial election, in a nutshell


    Click for a larger image. See the original.

    Virginia election roundupup

    I'll try to write this with the least modicum of spin I can impart. The governor's race in Virginia was quite close, as you can see from these results:
    Office: Governor
    Precincts Reporting: 2418 of 2426 (99.67%)
    Registered Voters: 4,451,487 Total Voting: 1,971,284 Voter Turnout: 44.28 %
    Candidates Party Vote Totals Percentage
    T M Kaine Democratic 1,019,366 51.71%
    J W Kilgore Republican 907,212 46.02%
    H R Potts Jr Independent 42,919 2.18%
    Write Ins 1,787 0.09%
    Total: 1,971,284
    Close, but no cigar. 3 things seemed to be weighing on the Kilgore campaign: 1, A strong respect for current Democrat governor Mark Warner, 2, a strong discontent with current Republican president George Bush, and 3, a crappy campaign from Kilgore himself. Let's face it, if Kilgore had run a more positive "this is what I'm going to do, this is how I'll stay out of your way" campaign, he likely would have won. For a graphical representation of this point, see here. Don't believe me? Look at the results for Lt. Governor and Attorney General:
    Office: Lieutenant Governor
    Precincts Reporting: 2420 of 2426 (99.75%)
    Registered Voters: 4,451,487 Total Voting: 1,936,960 Voter Turnout: 43.51 %
    Candidates Party Vote Totals Percentage
    W T Bolling Republican 981,495 50.67%
    L L Byrne Democratic 951,812 49.14%
    Write Ins 3,653 0.19%
    Total: 1,936,960

    Office: Attorney General
    Precincts Reporting: 2421 of 2426 (99.79%)
    Registered Voters: 4,451,487 Total Voting: 1,935,831 Voter Turnout: 43.49 %
    Candidates Party Vote Totals Percentage
    R F McDonnell Republican 968,937 50.05%
    R C Deeds Democratic 965,265 49.86%
    Write Ins 1,629 0.08%
    Total: 1,935,831
    Both went to Republicans, if just slightly. This election was not about pro-Kaine and much less about anti-Republican than it was anti-Kilgore.

    OK - here is the slightly spun version. Conservatives and right-of-center libertarians can be happy with the results from last night. Republicans actually gained a top office: Lt. Governor. Yes, Virginia is one of those strange states (commonwealths) which can elect a Governor and Lt. Governor from different parties. This wouldn't matter much however, as Kaine will not have any coattails in 4 years to help another Democrat be elected as Governor. Fortunately, we will have a mostly sane legislature in-place to block any serious nonsense from Kaine's office. Good luck, guys and gals.

    Now - there's something more interesting buried in the election results. That is that the election of Kaine would seem to give a confirmation of the popularity of Governor Mark Warner, and raise his chances of being noticed for the Democrat presidential nomination in 2008. At the same time, it would seem to rebuke Senator George Allen, who is rumored to have presidential aspirations of his own. Kilgore is said to be a protege of Allen and does seem somewhat in his mold.

    Ultimately, Iraq will weigh the heaviest on the '08 presidential election. If our troops are still there at the level they are today and if we are still losing soldiers and marines at the rates we are today, the Republican - whomever he or she is - will soundly be defeated. If only there were a viable Libertarian waiting in the wings... :-)

    Tuesday, November 08, 2005

    Pilfered punditry

    Beware bloggers! You too may have your cogent analysis pilfered for use by a politician who may share your views if not your mental faculties.

    Nice guys finish well

    This is probably one of the more fair articles you will read written on the judicial background and character of Supreme Court nominee Sam Alito. My hat's off to the authors. It's a nice read about a man who appears to be precisely the sort of jurist a reasonable nut wants presiding. The salient bit:
    These nuances are likely to get lost as the interest groups crank up a campaign to paint Alito as "Scalito." In an ad that began airing around the nation this weekend, People for the American Way calls on voters to take a stand against "giving the radical right wing the power to choose who sits on the Supreme Court." Ralph Neas, head of PFAW, led the Block Bork Coalition almost two decades ago, and he is a wily and effective agitator. He distributed press packets to 8,500 journalists before Bush formally announced the nomination, and he has anti-Alito petitions circulating in 25 states. Conservatives, too, are spending money on the coming media battle. Last week the conservative grass-roots organ-ization Progress for America bought $425,000 worth of TV ads praising Bush's choice for the court. "Alito is the darling of the radical right," says Neas. "He is precisely the person they wanted."

    Actually, the radical right would have preferred someone more reliable, like appeals court Judges Michael Luttig and Edith Jones. When Supreme Court vacancies began opening last summer, Alito was the White House's second choice, after Roberts. Interviewed around the same time by President Bush, Roberts beat out Alito in July to fill the slot left open by O'Connor's retirement. Bush thought that Roberts's presentational skills were a little smoother than the geeky Alito's, says a White House aide who did not wish to be identified talking about internal deliberations. The president was more confident that Roberts would perform well at his confirmation hearings—and knew that Roberts, a judge for only two years, had a shorter paper trail to chew on than Alito, a judge for 15. But Bush liked Alito's "quiet confidence," says this aide.

    Monday, November 07, 2005

    When will Dad catch a break?

    This is, bar none, the most insipid, inane, and inept analysis of a jurist's decision (or in this case, opposition) that I've yet seen. Proudly opines the author in his installation of himself as Senator in a mock confirmation hearing for Judge Samuel Alito,
    What I'd like to know is, why do you think it's constitutional to treat a pregnant woman like a child?

    I'm referring, of course, to your dissent in Planned Parenthood v. Casey 14 years ago. As you know, that case involved a Pennsylvania statute that required women to notify their husbands before having abortions, on pain of criminal sanctions. You voted to uphold the statute.
    He continues,
    Now, here's my question, Judge. Do you really think an undue burden for a grown woman is the same as an undue burden for a teenager? Do you think a woman deserves no more deference than a girl?
    Saletan's analysis leads me to wonder of his history with marriage and family. He would seem to have little respect for the notion of fatherhood.

    Legislating morality

    I had an e-mail exchange this morning which reminded me of the question "can we legislate morality?" And that question reminded me of the answer that I read some time ago, which was very well argued by Frank Turek. I post that answer in its entirety below.
    Legislating Morality: Why Everyone is Doing it
    By Frank Turek

    It never fails. Whenever some conservative takes a stand on a moral issue, some liberal somewhere will indignantly claim, “You can’t legislate morality!” How many times have you heard that worn-out phrase? Incredibly, it’s not even true. As the Apostle Paul declared in 2Cor. 10:5, Christians must “demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God.” It’s time we demolish the pretension, “You can’t legislate morality.”

    Morality is about right and wrong, and that’s what laws put into legal form. Can you think of one law which doesn’t declare one behavior right and its opposite wrong? The truth is all laws legislate morality (even speed limits imply a moral right to life). And everyone in politics — conservatives, libertarians and liberals — is trying to legislate morality. The only question is: “Whose morality should be legislated?”

    You say, “But what about the separation of church and state?” What about it? The First Amendment says nothing about the separation of church and state. (The Supreme Court obviously can’t read because the amendment says “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof ...” Article 1, Bill of Rights.) But even if it did mandate the separation of church and state, the First Amendment does not prohibit legislating morality. In fact, the First Amend­ment itself legislates morality: it clearly implies it would be wrong for Congress to legislate a national religion or prohibit the free exercise of religion; it also implies any congressional attempt to abridge freedom of speech, the press, or assembly would be morally wrong. When lobbying for moral legislation in the public square, Christians must learn to cite documented evidence and appeal to the common ground of reason. This is exactly the strategy employed by the Apostle Paul on Mars Hill before the Greek Philosophers. He did not quote Bible verses to them, because they did not believe in the Hebrew Scriptures! Instead, he reasoned with them. We must do the same in our anti-Christian public square. One such reasonable distinction we must draw is the distinction between religion and morality. While it is true that morality comes from God, there’s a big difference between religion and morality: for purposes of legislation religion involves our duty to God while morality is concerned with our duty to one another. Laws against murder, child abuse, rape and theft are moral (not just religious) issues, because they are needed to restrain evil and protect the innocent. We can and should avoid legislating religion, but we can’t avoid legislating morality — that’s what laws inevitably do! We don’t want to make a law to tell people how to worship, where to worship, or if to worship; that would be legislating religion. But we can’t avoid making laws that tell people how we should treat one another; that’s legislating morality. In short, legislating religion is unconstitutional, but legislating morality is unavoidable. All laws legislate morality.


    Everyone Is Trying To Legislate Morality

    Let’s use the most divisive issue in America — abortion — to illustrate how morality is always legislated and imposed on others by both sides in the debate. It’s widely believed the “religious right” (read pro-life) are the ones who want to cram morals down the throats of everyone else, while the “pro-choice” (read pro-abortion) folks are the reasonable ones who don’t want to impose on anyone. Nothing could be further from the truth. In reality, both sides in the abortion debate are actively seeking to impose moral standards on others.

    Everyone realizes what pro-life people want to impose: they want to protect the baby and, thus, impose on the mother the duty to carry her baby to term. But what is so often missed in this debate is that pro-abortion activists want to impose their morals on others as well: they want to impose the morals of the mother on the baby and, in some cases, the father. When abortion is chosen, the morals imposed on the baby come in the form of a knife, vacuum, or scalding chemical. Such a “choice” also imposes on the father by depriving him of fatherhood and the right to protect his own baby.

    In short, while the pro-life side wants to impose continued pregnancy on the mother, the pro-abortion side wants to impose death on the baby. That’s right — even liberals want to legislate and impose morality on others! The only question is: “Whose morality should be legislated?”


    Whose Morality Should Be Legislated?

    Thomas Jefferson had the answer: the morality that should be legislated is the one Jefferson declared is “self-evident” (the Apostle Paul wrote in the second chapter of his letter to the Romans that such morality was “written on [our] hearts”). Jefferson wrote in the Declaration of Independence, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are creat­ed equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with cer­tain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” Notice that rights come from the Creator, and “Life” is the first stated. In other words, true morality comes from God who bestows on His creatures certain moral rights.

    In an imperfect world, these rights will conflict at times. In such cases, the lower right must give way to the higher right. When life and liberty conflict, as they do on the issue of abortion, liberty must give way to life, because life is the ultimate right. The right to life is the right to all other rights — if you don’t have life, you don’t have anything.

    You may be thinking: “If this Moral Law is indeed ‘self-evident’ as Jefferson declared, then why doesn’t everyone agree about abortion?” We all don’t agree about abortion because some of us suppress the truth about right and wrong (Rom. 1:18). We know this truth about right and wrong (i.e. the Moral Law) by how we react to what’s done to us rather than by what we do to others. ­In other words, our reactions help us discover right and wrong better than our actions. For example, you may not be conscious of the Moral Law when you lie to someone else (your action); but when someone lies to you, the Moral Law becomes bright as the sun because being lied to upsets you immediately (your reac­tion). Likewise, a pro-abortion activist might not think abortion is wrong if she wants the convenience of getting an abortion (her action), but if you could put her back in the womb her opinion regarding abortion would change immediately (her reaction). As Ronald Reagan said, “I’ve noticed all those in favor of abortion are already born.”


    Don’t Cram Your Morals Down My Throat!
    Why Not?

    If Christians are to be effective in politics, then we must be able to answer this “cramming morals” objection. As with most liberal objections, Christians must learn to challenge the assumption behind the objection. This objection assumes that it is immoral to impose morals! Therefore, good questions to ask such a person are these: “Why shouldn’t I cram my morals down your throat? Is there something immoral about that? And if there is, by what standard do you come to such a conclusion? Is it just your opinion or is it really, absolutely wrong according to an objective standard outside yourself?”

    Notice that the person stating this objection is really trying to cram their own morality down your throat. As we have seen on the issue of abortion, liberals are trying to impose their morals through political (or judicial) means. They also seek to do so on each of their pet causes including affirmative action, homosexuality, smoking, euthanasia, government health care, arts funding, welfare, etc. Indeed, all political positions are attempts at legislating morality. Once again, the question is not whether morality can be legislated; the question is: “Whose morality should be legislated?”

    Whose morality? The answer is very simple. We shouldn’t impose my morality or your morality; we should impose our morality — the one inherited by us all. So when someone protests “Don’t cram your morals down my throat!” — after pointing out that their position actually does that — simply respond by saying, “These are not my morals, I did not make them up. I didn’t make up the fact that abortion is wrong, that murder is wrong, that stealing is wrong. In fact, if it were up to me, I might like it if some of those things were not morally wrong. Abortion might help me get out of trouble, and theft could solve my money problems. So I’m not imposing my “personal” morality on you any more than a math teacher is imposing her “personal” math when she teaches her students that 2+2=4. Morality like math is not based on subjective feelings; it is based on objective facts.”

    If they say, “Well, that’s just your interpretation!” Respond this way, “Of course, but that doesn’t mean my interpretation is false. I also interpret that Mother Teresa was better than Hitler, and that interpretation is certainly true. Second, your position is also an interpretation. For example, when you say that the unborn are not human beings so abortion is okay, you are indeed making an interpretation. Why should your interpretation be the law of the land? Why should your interpretation go unchallenged? The question is not about who is interpreting; the question is: “Whose interpretation and conclusion best fits the facts?” While many in our society may want to suppress the medical facts which affirm the humanity of unborn children, those facts compel the conclusion that the morality which should be legislated is the pro-life morality. This is the morality inherited by all of us, but only accepted by some of us. It is our common morality. Facts are hard things.”

    Thursday, November 03, 2005

    God blogs

    Here's an interesting piece about blogging among Christian conservative Republicans. Though some of the assumptions are rather obvious to those of us who have been 1, Christian, 2, conservative, and 3, blogging for some time, the article has some interesting points.
    Darr said she believes a strong link between Christianity and Republican voting could be bolstered further by blogging among Christians.

    A Pew study after last November's presidential election showed 78 percent of evangelical Christians voted for President Bush while 21 percent preferred Sen. John Kerry — and 65 percent of people who attend church regularly preferred Bush compared to 35 percent who liked Kerry.

    That leads to the conclusion that if Christian bloggers do coalesce into a political force, it is "certainly going to be more [of a] benefit to Republicans than Democrats" in terms of organizing supportive blocs, Darr suggested.
    Um, posting an entry referencing this story seems a little reflexive. :-)

    "Mr. President, Mr. President - Queen Spoo here from Reasonable Nuts"

    I must admit I did not follow the "Jeff Gannon" saga from last year - which apparently amounted to the question "should bloggers or other less-than-officially-sanctioned reporters have access to White House press briefings?" An interesting article points to the fact that bloggers largely have not further pursued access to the White House via this means now somewhat open to them.

    Perhaps we can get Queen Spoo or Spoomonger, both of whom live precariously close to the White House, to attend and report on future briefings? :-)

    RIP: Aaron Brown

    I'm not quite certain this story is up to coverage by the Reasonable Nuts. However, given CNN's (let's say) unique outlook on things newsworthy and its penchant (second only to the New York Times) for becoming a news item itself, it is noteworthy that its onetime lead anchor, Aaron Brown, is leaving the network and being replaced by (rumored) automaton, Anderson Cooper.
    Cooper, 38, has been gathering momentum all year that peaked with his on-the-scene coverage of Hurricane Katrina, Klein said.

    "He's got a refreshing way of being the anti-anchor," he said. "He's not quote-unquote reporting at you. He's just being himself. He's asking the questions you would like answered. He's getting involved the way you might. You feel that he's a regular person that you can trust talking to you. He brings such a passion to the storytelling that's infectious."
    Infectious like the Avian Flu, which he will no doubt be covering from a within a poultry farm in North Carolina once the strain makes its way here. Good luck, Andy.

    As I did a little research, I discovered Cooper's mother is Gloria Vanderbilt. I'm not sure what it matters, but his brother commited suicide at age 23. Perhaps he was gay as well, but could not endure the pressure. Why is this worthy of speculation? Perhaps it is not. But it had to shape the man who is shaping CNN and the opinions of the 3 or 4 people who still watch the dinosaur.

    Wednesday, November 02, 2005

    Can a liberal possibly be a hypocrite?

    With all the talk of corruption and hypocrisy on the right and the relative absence of stories about similar malfeasance on the left, one might think the left with an ethical high ground. HA! Hoover Fellow Peter Schweizer (what an interesting - if long - name!) has written "Do As I Say (Not As I Do): Profiles in Liberal Hypocrisy." Says Schweizer:
    "Hypocrisy has proved to be a wonderful weapon for liberals in their war against conservatives, yet for all the talk about conservative hypocrisy, there has been very little investigation into the prevalence of hypocrisy on the left. ...what I discovered was just stunning."
    Among the assertions in "Do As I Say":
    * Filmmaker Michael Moore insists that corporations are evil and claims he doesn't invest in the stock market due to moral principle. But Moore's IRS forms, viewed by Schweizer, show that over the past five years he has owned shares in such corporate giants as Halliburton, Merck, Pfizer, Sunoco, Tenet Healthcare, Ford, General Electric and McDonald's.

    * Staunch union supporter Rep. Nancy Pelosi (Calif.) has received the Cesar Chavez Award from the United Farmworkers Union. But the $25 million Northern California vineyard she and her husband own is a non-union shop.

    The hypocrisy doesn't end there. Pelosi has received more money from the Hotel Employees and Restaurant Employees union than any other member of Congress in recent election cycles.

    But the Pelosis own a large stake in an exclusive hotel in Rutherford, Calif. It has more than 250 employees. But none of them are in a union, according to Schweizer, author of "The Bushes: Portrait of a Dynasty" and a regular contributor to the New York Times, Wall Street Journal and other periodicals.

    The Pelosis are also partners in a restaurant chain called Piatti, which has 900 employees. The chain is - that's right, a non-union shop.

    * Ralph Nader is another liberal who claims that unions are essential to protect worker rights. But when an editor of one of his publications tried to form a union to ameliorate miserable working conditions, the editor was fired and the locks changed on the office door.

    * Self-described socialist Noam Chomsky has described the Pentagon as "the most vile institution on the face of the earth" and lashed out against tax havens and trusts that benefit only the rich.

    But Chomsky has been paid millions of dollars by the Pentagon over the last 40 years, and he used a venerable law firm to set up his irrevocable trust to shield his assets from the IRS.

    * Air America radio host Al Franken says conservatives are racist because they lack diversity and oppose affirmative action. But fewer than 1 percent of the people he has hired over the past 15 years have been African-American.

    * Ted Kennedy has fought for the estate tax and spoken out against tax shelters. But he has repeatedly benefited from an intricate web of trusts and private foundations that have shielded most of his family's fortune from the IRS.

    One Kennedy family trust wasn't even set up in the U.S., but in Fiji.

    Another family member, environmentalist Robert Kennedy Jr., has said that it is not moral to profit from natural resources. But he receives an annual check from the family's large holdings in the oil industry.

    * Barbra Streisand has talked about the necessity of unions to protect a "living wage." But she prefers to do her filming and postproduction work in Canada, where she can pay less than American union wages.

    * Bill and Hillary Clinton have spoken in favor of the estate tax, and in 2000 Bill vetoed a bill seeking to end it. But the Clintons have set up a contract trust that allows them to substantially reduce the amount of inheritance tax their estate will pay when they die.

    Hillary, for her part, has written and spoken extensively about the right of children to make major decisions regarding their own lives. But she barred 13-year-old daughter Chelsea from getting her ears pierced and forbid the teen from watching MTV or HBO.

    * Billionaire Bush-basher George Soros says the wealthy should pay higher, more progressive tax rates. But he holds the bulk of his money in tax-free overseas accounts in Curacao, Bermuda and the Cayman Islands.
    Schweizer asserts that
    "Liberals claim to support affirmative action but don't practice it. They support higher taxes but set up complicated tax shelters to avoid paying them. They claim to be ardent environmentalists but abandon their cause when it impinges on their own property rights.

    "The reality is that liberals like to preach in moral platitudes. They like to condemn ordinary Americans and Republicans for a whole host of things - racism, lack of concern for the poor, polluting the environment, and greed.

    "But when it comes to applying those same standards to themselves, liberals are found to be shockingly guilty of hypocrisy.

    "The media and the American people need to hold them accountable."

    Harry blows a gasket

    It appears Senator Harry Reid blew a gasket yesterday. Frontpagemag puts the unreasonableness of it all succinctly:
    The Democrats are liars. They have defected from a war they themselves authorized and they have blackened the reputation of Americans more effectively than al-Jazeera. These leftist partisan hacks have put politics above principle so securely that they give al-Jazeera and the terrorists confirmation of America's evil intentions "from the mouth of the beast."

    Tuesday, November 01, 2005

    The corruption in your own eye

    Our Liberal friends up north are still having some trouble, it would seem.
    OTTAWA (Reuters) - The inquiry into a Canadian government corruption scandal said on Tuesday that senior officials in the Quebec branch of the ruling Liberal Party had engaged in a kickback scheme and in illegal financing, but it said Prime Minister Paul Martin was not to blame.

    The initial report by Judge John Gomery into the scandal is likely to embarrass the Liberal team as it prepares for an election early next year.
    If you were to inquire of those involved in the scheme, you likely (my guess) would find them largely unaware of their fraud. Yet, were conservatives involved in a similar scheme, the same Liberals would easily see the malfeasance. There's an ease of seeing the sins of others relative to our own, resident in all of us to some degree. However, it is my opinion that the ruling elite of the United States - largely still liberals of all parties (Democrat and Republican) - are far more prone to succumb to such hubris than are small-c conservatives of either party. What say you?

    Overreaction or legitimate preparation?

    The federal government has recently set up the website, pandemicflu.gov. Overreaction or legitimate preparation? You decide.