Act Like Life Matters Saturday, Oct 18 2008 

Warning: Most vitriolic post ever.

If you never again read anything that I recommend to you regarding this campaign, or politics in general, please read the following:

UPDATE: Don’t know why I didn’t have this link here in the first place: The National Right to Life White Paper

http://www.catholic.org/politics/story.php?id=30081&page=1

http://www.snopes.com/politics/soapbox/huntleybrown.asp

http://illinoisreview.typepad.com/illinoisreview/2008/01/top-10-reasons.html

I have quite a few friends and loved ones who are voting for Senator Obama in the election this year for varied and sundry reasons. Some like his view on the War, some his view on the economy, some his view on the enviroment and some his view on not being George W. Bush. Though I may disagree with these reasons, these are, I think, justifiable reasons for voting for Senator Obama for President. However, where I think every Christian should draw the line on voting for Senator Obama is his view on abortion and the right to life. Again, please read the above articles before reading the rest of this post.

Even supporters of Obama can admit that his legislative record is fairly short. He has been a U.S. Senator for almost four years. Before that, he was an Illinois state senator for eight years. But this is not a post about his experience. What is really striking to me is that much of what his supporters are basing their hopes on is just that: hope. People hope that he will fix the economy. People hope that he will save the enviroment. People hope that he will deal well with world leaders, and make just decisions when overseeing Congressional legislation. But he has no track record of doing anything of the sort (He is, however, not George W. Bush. So that hope is well founded). I am not saying that his track record runs the opposite way in regard to this issues. What I am saying is that his track record does not run at all. But, again, this is not a post about his experience.

One of the few things in which Senator Obama does have a record is his support of abortion and his opposition of the culture of life. Yes, this is a strong statement. However, I believe that the articles above bear out my accusation. The article by Dr. George is correct. Senator Obama’s positions on abortion are a matter of record. Look them up. I have. This one takes considerably more digging, since it will give you a list of everything that Obama’s name is attached to in his term as a Senator. Here is the transcript of a session of the Illinois legislature where Senator Obama opposes the Born Alive Infant Protection Act (Obama’s opposition begins on page 85). Please note that the “induced abortion” that he is talking about is also known as partial birth abortion. The main point that he is making is that children who survive partial birth abortions aren’t really people, and thus are not protected under the equal protection clause of the constitution. Thankfully, this bill  passed 34-6 despite Obama’s opposition.

Please consider this carefully before you vote for Senator Obama for President. He has said that the first thing he will do when he takes office is sign the Freedom of Choice Act into law, which would sweep away all local and state limitations on abortion and allow a child to be aborted at any stage of a pregnancy. He has said that support for Roe v. Wade would be a prerequisite for any person he appointed to the Supreme Court. This last is especially concerning, as rumor has it that 4-6 of the Supreme Court justices will be retiring during the next 4-8 years. When they retire, Obama will replace them with staunchly pro-abortion justices, who will prevent any overthrow of Roe v. Wade for years to come. Futhermore, Obama not only supports embryonic stem cell research, to the exclusion of alternative stem cell research methods that would not require the destruction of children, but he also supports legislation that would prevent bringing any of these embyros to term. He supports legislation that would legalize the mass production of embryos for stem cell research, resulting in the deaths of thousands more children per year.

Obviously, if you are pro-choice, these arguments won’t matter at all to you. But if you are pro-life then this should matter. In my opinion, this is the most important issue at stake this election cycle. More than the economy. More than the war. More than the enviroment. Abortion has already killed over 49 million children in the U.S. alone since 1973. This is your chance to do something to put a stop to this evil practice.

In the forum at Saddleback Church, Senator Obama said that it is “above his paygrade” to determine when life begins. Friends, this was a lie. His actions time and again have shown that he does not regard the unborn as being human, and that their right to life is entirely dependent on the choice of their mothers.

Friends, please, act like life matters. Vote for John McCain.

P.S. If you have any questions or concerns about a McCain presidency, I would be happy to help you address them. I readily admit that McCain is not perfect and that I don’t agree with all of his ideas. But compared to the culture of death we would get if Obama is elected, I will not hesitate to vote for McCain.

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Machosauce Monday, Oct 13 2008 

You need to watch these videos. Now.

http://www.youtube.com/profile_videos?user=machosauceproduction

What are you waiting for?

Blast from the Past: Ahmadinejad’s Anti-Semitic remarks Sunday, Sep 28 2008 

This story seems to have been lost in all of the hullabaloo about the economy. Since there are people more qualified than I to tackle that issue, I thought I’d give this one some of the attention it deserves.

It is truly astonishing that only 60 years after the Holocaust, this man can stand in the U.N. General Assembly and give the most blatantly Anti-Semitic speech since a little known German tyrant was toppled from power. That he was not only able to give this speech, but to receive applause and be embraced by the President of the General Assembly afterward is truly sickening. Though he politicizes his anti-semitism by referring only to Zionists (those people in favor of the nation-state of Israel) the context of his comments make it clear that he is an enemy of the Jewish people wherever they are found.

Some choice quotes from his speech:

“The lives, properties and rights of the people of Georgia and Ossetia and Abkhazia are victims of the tendencies and provocations of NATO and certain western powers, and the underhanded actions of the Zionists.”

“The dignity, integrity and rights of the American and European people are being played with by a small but deceitful number of people called Zionists. Although they are a minuscule minority, they have been dominating an important portion of the financial and monetary centers as well as the political decision-making centers of some European countries and the US in a deceitful, complex and furtive manner…This means that the great people of America and various nations of Europe need to obey the demands and wishes of a small number of acquisitive and invasive people. ”

He repeats the same accusations that have been levelled against Jews since time immemorial: they are greedy, grasping and manipulative. He attempts to lay the blame for the current economic woes of America at the feet of the Jews. This is the exact same rhetoric that Hitler used against Jews amidst the economic collapse that characterized the last few years of the Wiemar Republic. The only difference is that Ahmadinejad is able to couch his racism in the political term “Zionist”. But, really, how many Jews in the world are not Zionists? Don’t forget that this is the same man who, on October 26, 2005, called the Holocaust “the myth of the genocide of the Jews,” and who has repeatedly called for the violent destruction of Israel. It is abundantly clear that Ahmadinejad, despite claims to the contrary, is an enemy of all Jews, everywhere. The same man with whom Sen. Obama said he would meet with no preconditions, while Sen. Biden told Israeli leaders that they would have to get used to the idea of a nuclear Iran. On the other hand, Sen. McCain and Gov. Palin have time and again warned of the danger that Ahmadinejad and Iran pose to the rest of the world, most recently in a speech that was supposed to be delivered by Gov. Palin on Monday.

One of the greatest mistakes of the 20th century was the policy of appeasement that the leaders of Europe and America  used when addressing the threat posed by Hitler. Had these leaders chosen otherwise, they could have prevented the suffering of millions of people. One presidential ticket seems prepared to repeat these same mistakes, and I, for one, will be damned if I don’t do what I can to prevent that. Just one more reason I am voting McCain-Palin.

Big Bro = Really Cool Guy Friday, Sep 26 2008 

In addition to being a brilliant scientist, my brother is also a very gifted amateur photographer. Go over to his blog or photobucket to check out photos of our recent trip to Colorado as well as the other photos he’s taken. Especially marvel over the pictures of the protein crystals. These are apparently incredibly difficult to grow and are just one more testament to the genius that is my bro.

The Mistaken Identity of the Bush Doctrine (Part 3 of 3) Saturday, Sep 20 2008 

And the stunning conclusion:

Lastly, the Bush Doctrine has been seen in a strong attempt to gain international allies. To many, this may seem to be an odd statement, since most people in the United States view the Bush administration as an international public relations trainwreck. And it is true that the actions of the Bush administration have hurt our relationships with several nations. However, almost all of the nations with which relations have cooled are in Western Europe, which is beginning to exert less and less influence in the world abroad due to the modernization of South America and South-Eastern Asia, and it is in these last areas where the Bush administration has been truly successful.

The United States and India have long been allies, but President Bush has done much to strengthen the ties between the two countries. After the September 11 attacks, President Bush requested that India police the sea lanes from the Suez canal to Singapore, an importan responsibility that India was happy to accept. Both nations have worked closely together in responding to natural disasters, particularly the 2004 Southeast Asian Tsunami. In addition to this, trade with India has increased dramatically under the Bush administration, and it was President Bush, along with with Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, who instituted the Trade Policy Forum to ensure better economic cooperation between the two nations. The growth of this partnership with India stands to have numerous long term benefits for the United States, and we would not be where we are now without President Bush.

Ten years ago, the common assertion was that the next world war would be one between the United States and China. Ten years ago, that was a possibility. The, hopefully, accidental bombing of the Chinese Embassy in Belgrade, followed relatively shortly after by the Hainan Island Incident, raised tensions higher than they had been in years, and though war was not at stake, things did not look good for U.S.-China relations. President Clinton apologized and arranged for payment for the incident in Belgrade, but the real turning point was the Letter of Two Sorries issued by Ambassador Joseph Prueher on behalf of the President. The genius of this letter is not only that it was an apology, but that it was an apology specifically tailored to Chinese cultural forms, and that it also included the possibility of a cessation of reconaissance on the Chinese border. Through the intervening years, the United States has worked closely with China in the War on Terror, and our economic partnership has increased dramatically. One striking example of how our relationship has changed is that President Bush has declared an official One China policy, and has rebuked the President of Taiwan when he has been too openly advocating a one China policy. One last remark here: Many people were critical of the fact that President Bush did not leave the Olympic games to deal with the developing crisis in Georgia. They have accused him of staying on vacation while one of our allies was attacked. However, this accusation misses the point of what he was doing, which was continuing to strengthen the relationship between the U.S. and China. To the Chinese, the Beijing Olympiad was the most important international event thus far this millenia, and the cost and painstaking preparation are proof of that. President Bush was specifically invited as an honored guest. Thus, while he was attending the Olympics, he was not on vacation, but was acting in an official diplomatic capacity. Had he left the Games in order to address the situation in Georgia, a situation over which he had no control, he would have deeply offended the Chinese government and damged U.S. relations with them.

Despite claims to the contrary, President Bush in no dullard. Though he has been thoroughly lambasted these past few years, I believe that time will show the true effectiveness of the Bush Doctrine. In twenty years, people will look at Bush the same way they view Reagan: as someone who made the world safe for America.

The Mistaken Identity of the Bush Doctrine (Part 2 of 3) Tuesday, Sep 16 2008 

Continuing my post on the Bush Doctrine:

The least publicized method that President Bush has used to help eliminate our country’s enemies has been the persistent use of diplomatic and economic pressure on those states deemed threats to the nations security. No President has issued more economic sanctions than President Bush. Perhaps the best example of this strategy is the changing relationship between the United States and North Korea.

Though talks between the U.S. and North Korea began during the Clinton administration, it has been President Bush who has gained the most ground in the diplomatic effort. Most people know that President Bush labeled North Korea as part of the “Axis of Evil” in his 2002 State of the Union address. What they don’t know is that before he made that speech, he made an announcement on June 6, 2001that he would continue working towards a diplomatic solution with North Korea. What even fewer people know is that over the summer, President Bush removed North Korea from the Trading with the Enemy Act, and has worked to loosen sanctions on North Korean goods. For instance, it is now possible for a U.S. citizen to travel to North Korea without the special permission of the U.S. government, and it is also possible to import some goods from North Korea with the permission of the Office of Foreign Assets Control (more info here). As another sign of the improving relations between the two nations, the North Koreans demolished their nuclear reactor in Yongbyon, long considered to be a symbol of North Korea’s nuclear program.

Finally, the success of Bush’s enemy elimination program is shown by the fact that no President has lifted or weakened as many sanctions as President Bush. In addition to the North Korean sanctions listed above, President Bush has also weakend or lifted sanctions on Iraq, Myanmar, and Iran. The fact that the U.S. has been able to adjust these sanctions is a strong indication that President Bush’s foreign policies have worked much better than most people give him credit for.

The Mistaken Identity of the Bush Doctrine (Part 1 of 3) Friday, Sep 12 2008 

The first interview with prospective Vice-President Gov. Sarah Palin was posted yesterday, and there is one section in particular that had a few people wondering just how out of touch with reality the Alaska governor really is.

Whether or not Governor Palin is justified in her response to the no-context phrase “the Bush doctrine” is discussed in other places. What I would like to address here is the underlying assumption that these critics make that the war in Iraq is the most important and will be the longest lasting legacy of President Bush’s administration. While it is true that the war in Iraq has been a major part of President Bush’s policy for the past 6 years, to define the phrase “the Bush doctrine” solely based on this war is missing the big picture. In reality, the Bush Doctrine has been an overall polciy of securing the United States from foreign threats, and he has done this in two ways: eliminating enemies and gaining allies.

The part of the Bush Doctrine that is the most notorious is his process of eliminating enemies militarily. His two wars, the one on Terror and the one in Iraq, have been at the forefront of media attention since they began. There is widespread consensus that the War on Terror was justified, while the War in Iraq was not only unjustified, but also immoral. However, in looking at these wars from the overall Bush Doctrine policy of eliminating foreign threats, they both make sense. The War on Terror is less controversial (save a few of the homeland security measures), so I’ll really focus on the War in Iraq.

Quite a few people believe that the situation in Iraq is purely a Bush family affair. Bush Sr. started it, and Bush Jr. wants to finish it. Some assert it is a personal war because Saddam Hussein attempted to assassinate Bush Sr. However, the view of the Baathist regime in Iraq as a threat to United States security has been held for almost three decades now. Iraq was first put on the U.S. list of States that Sponsor terrorism on December 29, 1979 due to its harboring of organizations Abu Nidal, The Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) and the Palestinian Liberation Front (PLF) among others. It was removed from this list in in 1982, and put back on the list at the opening of the First Gulf War in 1990. In addition to this, the Baathists had openly declared themselves as enemies of the state of Israel, which, given the United States’ strong support of Israel, made Iraq a de facto enemy of the U.S. as well. On the Presidential front, more than the Bush’s have recognized the threat posed by Iraq. The economic sanctions imposed on Iraq by President George H.W. Bush were actually strengthened by President Clinton and were only weakened (on May 23 2003) and then removed (on July 30, 2004) after the successful invasion of Iraq in the Second Gulf War. Thus, there has been a long tradition of holding Iraq to be an enemy of the United States, one that President Bush successfully eliminated during his tenure as President.

I believe Obama. Wednesday, Sep 10 2008 

This post is for you, Naomi.

Barack Obama is not sexist, racist, age-ist or the Anti-Christ. He is certainly not an idiot. I say this because some people on the right are treating Senator Obama’s inadvertent blunder as a sure sign that the Illinois Senator is a few tools short of a full shed. Not only is this demeaning to a duly elected public official, but it is also injurious to the Republican cause.

Senator Obama has proved time and again that that he is both highly intelligent and a gifted orator. To try to portray him as foolish at this stage of the game smacks of willful blindness. To think that a man of his abilities would knowingly call Gov. Palin a “pig” is, in my mind, a bit ludicrous. His statement was obviously a figure of speech, one which both he and Senator McCain have used before, and was not meant at all to be an attack on Governor Palin. Was it an unfortunate simile? Yes, and it is one that should not have been used after Governor Palin’s lipstick comment in her convention address. However, it is readily apparent that Senator Obama is sincere when he says that his statement was not meant as a personal attack. The right’s response to this slip has been farcical, and does nothing to nourish the goodwill that has been generated by the unwarranted media attacks on Governor Palin.

UPDATE: Dr. John Mark Reynolds has posted an excellent blog on this issue. Highly recommended. Also, here’s an interesting article with a different take on the issue.

The Great Golden Gripe – Part 2 Friday, Dec 21 2007 

As mentioned in my previous post, Mr. Pullman believes the fantasy writing of authors such as C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien to be subversive to the minds of young readers, steeped as their creations were in the Judeo-Christian moral tradition. In order to save these impressionable minds from the danger of Christian inculcation, Mr. Pullman created the His Dark Materials trilogy. However, rather than attempting to create a world in which non-traditional values replace those of Christianity, Mr. Pullman also attempts to explicitly attack those values of which he does not approve. This leads to an imperfect creation, as too much text is lost in his anti-Christian polemic.

Many of the ideas that Mr. Pullman uses for the setting of his fantasy world are quite unique and interesting. Having the setting of the first novel be an alternate universe that resembles the early twentieth century of our own universe is an excellent idea, as it gives his readers a familiar setting that is still different enough to encourage excitement with the universe. Other good ideas are: daemons, Gyptians and armored bears. This last is, in fact, one of the most loved aspects of the novels (see The Golden Compass board game, in which the entire purpose of the game is to get to the fight between the bears to see which side wins). Strangely, save for the Daemons belonging to Lyra and her parents, each of these creative elements is distinctly lacking from the second and third novels. Why does Mr. Pullman not focus on the creative aspect of his work?

The answer is that he spends too much of his time giving his readers reasons to dislike Christianity in general and the Church in particular. Mr. Pullman’s polemic is mostly done through his characterization of the church and the god they serve. In these books, the villains, without exception, belong to the church. God is characterized as a tyrant who desires nothing more than slavish obedience, and to do his will he has established the church (or something like it) in every possible universe. Though Mr. Pullman never identifies Christianity specifically within his books, the ecclesiastical language that he uses leaves the reader no choice but to identify the church in Lyra’s world with the Christian Church in ours. Having offhandedly identified the Christian Church as the set-piece villains, he then gives the young reader innumerable reasons to hate it (kidnapping children, separating them from their souls, and occasionally killing them are just a few of the offenses performed by the church in Mr. Pullman’s novels).

One of the problems that this characterization creates within Mr. Pullman’s literature is that he fails to adequately supply an alternative. If Judeo-Christian values are unacceptable to Mr. Pullman, it is difficult to determine from these books what he will accept. By the end of the novels, Mr. Pullman has focused so much on destroying God and the church that the alternatives he offers seem like weak replacements (teach everyone to pursue wisdom and live in harmony together? Why? For what purpose?). Mr. Pullman should have learned his lesson from the Chronicles of Narnia, in which C.S. Lewis wastes not so much as a sentence in attacking other points of view, but instead writes page after page of Christian theology turned powerful fantasy. Instead, the effect of having Mr. Pullman’s creative energies focused on obliterating his opponents’ values rather than on extolling the virtues of his own creates a moral hinterland in which the reader finds very little substance for substantive thought.

The Great Golden Gripe – Part 1 Wednesday, Dec 19 2007 

The Golden Compass has just recently been released in theatres the world over, to less than stellar reviews. However, despite its lackluster box office blues, it has garnered quite a bit of press, particularly within Christendom, due to the anti-theistic leanings of the author, Philip Pullman. I have recently been asked by a few different people to express my opinions on these books, and so I thought that it might make a worthy topic for my first couple of blog posts here on WordPress.

For those of you who may not have read the books or seen the movie (I fall into the latter category, but plan to rectify that soon enough), the Golden Compass is the story of Lyra, a young orphan girl being raised by the scholars of Oxford University in a world not entirely unlike ours at the beginning of the 20th century. There are, however, a few differences. The first is that each person’s soul is physically manifested in the form of a sentient animal companion called a daemon. Second, there are armored bears that can talk. Third, the church is the sole power and authority in this world, and it is evil.

This last point is of the most importance to the works from a literary standpoint, as it is the quality of this world upon which all of the action of the trilogy hinges. The church is doing bad things, and Lyra sets out to stop them, and ultimately ends up killing “god”. Philosophically, this point is also important: the wrongdoing of the church is the first manifestation of the heavy anti-Christian polemic that saturates the rest of the trilogy. As it turns out, part of Pullman’s motivation in writing this trilogy was to provide a kind of counter-point to the openly Christian Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis. Apparently, Pullman views the readily evident Christology of the Narnia books as subversive to the minds of young readers, and wanted to offer them an alternative world based upon non-Christian values. In this, he largely fails, for the following reasons:

1. His work is destructive, not constructive.
2. His version of the Christian church is a straw man that is so out of touch with the reality of the Christian church, that it is relatively easy to knock over. The same is true of his conception of God.
3. He fails to account for the goodness and morality of his characters.
4. He fails to account for the person of Jesus Christ.

These are my main philosophical criticisms of this trilogy. There are literary criticisms to be made as well (character development is poor, as is story pacing, and the climax of the entire trilogy is so lame that one could miss it if they skipped a few lines of text), but I won’t delve too deeply into those.

I’ll start with my first point in my next post.