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May 31, 2007

Blogs4God Relaunches

Blogs4God used to be a Yahoo!-like categorization of blogs by Christians. It's now been relaunched as a digg-like social bookmarking site for the same target audience. If you sign up, you can nominate and vote on blog posts you find interesting (hopefully, including some of ours).

Posted by Doug at 10:00 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

May 30, 2007

Freedom of Religion Returning to Texas

The right to freely exercise one's religion outside of the 4 walls of a place of worship was affirmed by the Texas legislature. It's unfortunate that it had to be affirmed at all, but in today's church-and-state climate, it's necessary.

The House embraced legislation Monday that seeks to clarify the rights of Texas public school students to offer public prayers at football games or graduation, hand out religious messages or hold religious meetings during the school day if they want.

Supporters said the Schoolchildren's Religious Liberties Act, which passed on a 110-33 vote, would protect districts from lawsuits by setting guidelines for students' religious expression while protecting students from being admonished, for example, if they talk about Jesus in an assignment about Easter.

You can't keep people insulated from each other, and this bill takes the common sense step of acknowledging that.
"Freedom of religion should not be taken as freedom from religion," Gov. Rick Perry said. "This was a vote for tolerance of diverse views in our education system so that students are not admonished for wishing a soldier overseas a 'Merry Christmas' or for any other harmless forms of expression."

Precisely. The "diversity" crowd is the very group trying to remove diversity in the public square.

The bill has its opponents, who, as usual, use exaggerated language when describing religious speech.

"The intent of this bill is to enable people to impose their religious beliefs on people, and I stand four-square against that," said Rep. Lon Burnam, D-Fort Worth, who is a Quaker.

"I was one of those students of a minority religion who was frequently subjected to unwanted ... advice and insults when I was in the public schools. I do not believe the intent of the author [to avoid lawsuits]. I believe the intent of the author is to facilitate imposing certain religious values on students regardless of their religious faith."

Sorry, but freedom from getting unwanted advice is not in the US Constitution. Those who insult you because of your faith should be punished by their parents or, for adults, marginalized, but it's still not a legal issue, and it doesn't mean that because some kids were mean to you in school that now all kids must be silenced on religious issues. Bathwater, meet baby.

And rather than dream up your own view of what the bill's author intended, let's just ask him.

Author Charlie Howard, R-Sugar Land, said repeatedly that the bill "does not allow anything that isn't in the current law."

What the bill does is specify that "a school district shall treat a student's voluntary expression of a religious viewpoint, if any, on an otherwise permissible subject in the same manner the district treats a student's voluntary expression of a secular or other viewpoint" as long as the expression isn't obscene or vulgar and doesn't discriminate against homosexuals or religious beliefs.

Further, the bill says students may not be penalized for expressing religious views in classwork, and they may organize religious meetings and use school facilities like any noncurricular group.

Not sure why homosexuality was specifically singled out, but this is a good step in the right direction.
Plano ISD has been at the center of this debate since 2003, when school officials told a student he could not hand out candy cane pens with a religious message during a holiday party.

Rep. Burnam can hand-wring all he wants about how hearing religious speech is somehow imposing values onto him (is he that impressionable?), but if we can't give away pens in the name of religious freedom, things really are upside down.

Posted by Doug at 12:50 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

When Spammers Attack

Sounds like a bad sci-fi movie. We've had more than the usual load of spam hit the server lately and we're digging out of it. Comments and trackbacks may act funny for a few hours, but it'll be all better very soon.

Posted by Doug at 12:41 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

May 24, 2007

The Rising Tide Works as Documented

It raises all boats, including, and especially, the poorest. (Via Captain Ed, because I don't have a WSJ subscription.)

It's been a rough week for John Edwards, and now comes more bad news for his "two Americas" campaign theme. A new study by the Congressional Budget Office says the poor have been getting less poor. On average, CBO found that low-wage households with children had incomes after inflation that were more than one-third higher in 2005 than in 1991.

The CBO results don't fit the prevailing media stereotype of the U.S. economy as a richer take all affair -- which may explain why you haven't read about them. Among all families with children, the poorest fifth had the fastest overall earnings growth over the 15 years measured. (See the nearby chart.) The poorest even had higher earnings growth than the richest 20%. The earnings of these poor households are about 80% higher today than in the early 1990s.

A vibrant economy for all is a better long-term solution. Government taking a smaller percentage of peoples' earnings give the poor more to spend and encourages investment by the rich which creates jobs. When government doesn't encourage welfare, the poor, indeed, work, which is inherently better.
What happened? CBO says the main causes of this low-income earnings surge have been a combination of welfare reform, expansion of the earned income tax credit and wage gains from a tight labor market, especially in the late stages of the 1990s expansion. Though cash welfare fell as a share of overall income (which includes government benefits), earnings from work climbed sharply as the 1996 welfare reform pushed at least one family breadwinner into the job market.

Earnings growth tapered off as the economy slowed in the early part of this decade, but earnings for low-income families have still nearly doubled in the years since welfare reform became law. Some two million welfare mothers have left the dole for jobs since the mid-1990s. Far from being a disaster for the poor, as most on the left claimed when it was debated, welfare reform has proven to be a boon.

Far from throwing families out on the streets, welfare reform encouraged work. The work was there because the richer folks had money to start businesses or invest in them. The moral advantage of work over hand-outs should be self-evident. That doesn't mean there should be no hand-outs, but policies that give families little incentive to work do not help them in the long run, no matter how it makes the policy makers feel in the short run.

More stats are discussed by the Captain.

Posted by Doug at 12:48 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

May 23, 2007

Evangelical Leaders Issue Global Warming Policy Principles

The Evangelical Climate Initiative is at it again, suggesting that good Christians can care about the environment, and even sound some alarms about global warming.

As some of you know if you've followed this blog for some time, the ECI is a client of my public relations firm. So I have a self interest in this cause. Nonetheless, I love to bring a little havoc into the world of my brethren who are still flat earthers, and provide a glimpse into the reasoned world of a group that is both Christian and working against global warming.

Today, leaders with the Evangelical Climate Initiative called on public officials to draw on traditional, conservative perspectives to address the challenge of climate change facing the United States and the world. They said, federal policy must maximize the free market, care for the most vulnerable, assure national security, and protect personal freedom, evangelical leaders said in a document of principles that “should guide government officials as they establish policies at the federal level to begin to solve global warming.”

Hey wait, this doesn't sound like a bunch of liberals!

In the paper released today and announced in print ads that will run Thursday in the Washington Times and Roll Call on May 24, the ECI outlined 10 principles for policymakers, including a call for the “scope of the free market to be maximized to allow innovation, ingenuity, and entrepreneurship to generate climate solutions, and to ensure that U.S. businesses can compete internationally in clean technologies.”

See the full document: Principles for Federal Policy on Climate Change

The principles document reads: “We are in favor of climate policies that reduce our dependence on foreign oil (e.g. increasing fuel economy) and thereby enhance our energy security and our advocacy of religious freedom and human rights.”

The 10 principles read in part:

1. The Problem is Real, the Objective Clear
We believe that human-induced global warming is real and, based on nearly universal agreement in the scientific community, we encourage policy-makers to accept this fact.

2. Maximize Freedom in Solving the Problem
When government deals with global warming, a proper policy framework will establish the “rules of the road” and what businesses call “regulatory certainty,” which can enhance freedom by allowing us to begin to solve a problem whose impacts will severely limit that freedom in the future if not addressed.

3. Maximize Protection from Harm from Generation to Generation
A primary function of government is to protect all of its citizens from undue harm, be it from foreign invaders, criminals, or pollution that impacts human health.

4. Take Special Care to Protect the Most Vulnerable
The most important way that federal government policy can protect the poor here and around the world from the impacts of global warming is to begin to solve the problem by reducing CO2 emissions 80 percent by 2050.

5. Enhance National and Energy Security, International Religious Freedom, & Rural Economic Development
American reliance on foreign oil also undermines our national security, and makes us
dependent on undemocratic, despotic foreign regimes that restrict the religious liberty of their peoples, and threaten the stability of democratic allies such as Israel.

6. Disburse Decision-making Authority to the Lowest Possible Level
A robust response to the threat of global warming will involve individuals, families, churches, businesses, and governments at multiple levels. In particular, we believe in states’ rights and responsibilities as the laboratories of democracy.

7. Solve the Problem through the Free Market and Protection of Property Rights
To help ensure competitiveness, climate policy should provide: (1) a stable, long-term, substantial research and development program; (2) long-term regulatory certainty, and; (3) a robust price signal that reflects the true social cost of greenhouse gas pollution.

8. Start Now and Solve the Problem in the Most Cost-Effective, Least-Disruptive Way Possible
Significant reductions in global warming pollution should start sooner rather than later in order to minimize disruption to the economy, and to avoid the necessity of drastic, steep reductions in the future.

9. Lead by Example
Regardless of whether all nations agree to be part of the solution, America must do the right thing.

10. Learn from the Future
Our understanding will continue to grow, and we may find that we must accelerate steps that address climate change.

(The Evangelical Climate Initiative, by the way, is a group of more than 100 evangelical leaders who are—-as a result of their commitment to Jesus Christ and concern for His creation—-encouraging action by evangelical Christians and all Americans to make life changes necessary to help solve the global warming crisis and to advance public policy that will limit global warming pollution, while respecting economic and business concerns.)

Posted by Jim at 07:03 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

May 21, 2007

A Dictator in All but Title

Hugo Chavez isn't officially "President For Life", but the permission he has for ruling outside Venezuela's legislative body and his crackdown on dissent shows he's acting like one.

Tens of thousands of protesters on Saturday denounced President Hugo Chavez's plans to close an opposition television channel, accusing their leader of maiming Venezuelan democracy as he forges a socialist state.

Chavez says RCTV, the country's oldest private broadcaster, supported a bungled coup against him in 2002. He has had a long-running battle with opposition television stations, calling them "horsemen of the apocalypse."

"Let us defend democracy, let us defend freedom, let us defend free independent media such as RCTV," RCTV's managing director, Marcel Garnier, told demonstrators in Caracas.

The majority that voted him in is now getting a taste of what real dictatorship is like. Buyer's remorse is setting in.
Chavez, re-elected by a landslide last year, still enjoys support of about 60 percent of the public on the back of massive social spending. But a leading pollster has also found a majority of Venezuelans oppose the closure of RCTV.

Datanalisis found almost 70 percent of Venezuelans would rather RCTV kept broadcasting, but worried more about the loss of their favorite soap operas than free speech.

RCTV has been showing a nostalgic collection of clips from comedies, soap operas and Christmas specials that have been part of life in the Caribbean country since it started transmission in 1953.

"It is like losing a close relative," said Renaldo Gonzalez, a student at the protest, whose family members have worked at RCTV as actors, producers and directors.

Do Venezuelan's really aspire to be like Cuba? It's a few steps backward. Hopefully, this will wake up the populace, even if their concept of free speech comes mostly from which entertainment shows are available.

Posted by Doug at 10:14 AM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

May 17, 2007

Mental Torture in George Bush's America

The BBC reports on claims that we're mentally torturing inmates at Gitmo.

US detainee 'mentally tortured'

A Pakistani-born US resident detained at Guantanamo Bay has said he was "mentally tortured" there, according to a transcript released by the Pentagon.

Majid Khan, who has been accused of planning to blow up petrol stations in the US, also described how he tried to commit suicide by chewing on an artery.

After tales of how Mr. Kahn denies being an enemy, the last 3 paragraphs of the story described this awful "mental torture".
Mr Khan complained about how US guards had taken away pictures of his daughter, given him new glasses with the wrong prescription, shaved his beard off, forcibly fed him when he went on hunger strike, and denied him the opportunity for recreation.

This led him to attempt to chew through his artery twice, Mr Khan said.

Later, Mr Khan produced a list of further examples of psychological torture, which included the provision of "cheap, branded, unscented soap", the prison newsletter, noisy fans and half-inflated balls in the recreation room that "hardly bounce".

Oh, the ever-luvin' humanity. And this is what passes for "news" from the BBC. You can't just scan the headlines at the BBC; they may say the exact opposite of the truth. No mention in the headline that this was just a "claim" of mental torture.

And is this really newsworthy; a guy at Gitmo proclaiming his innocence while claiming that cheap soap and noisy fans are mental torture? It is to the BBC, apparently. Wild claims of torture where there is none are featured on their "Americas" front page. It has about as much validity as the latest UFO conspiracy theory, but that doesn't make the front page.

It's still all about the narrative.

Posted by Doug at 02:48 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

Global Warming...on Neptune

The World Climate Report blog notes a report about the warming temperatures on Neptune, and how closely they correlate with Earth's changes.

Neptune is the planet farthest from the Sun (Pluto is now considered only a dwarf planet), Neptune is the planet farthest from the Earth, and to our knowledge, there has been absolutely no industrialization out at Neptune in recent centuries. There has been no recent build-up of greenhouse gases there, no deforestation, no rapid urbanization, no increase in contrails from jet airplanes, and no increase in ozone in the low atmosphere; recent changes at Neptune could never be blamed on any human influence. Incredibly, an article has appeared in a recent issue of Geophysical Research Letters showing a stunning relationship between the solar output, Neptune’s brightness, and heaven forbid, the temperature of the Earth.

Click on the link to find graphs of how changes in Neptune's temperature, Earth's temperature, and the Sun's output are strangely similar; about a 90% correlation.

Posted by Doug at 02:25 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

May 16, 2007

Digesting the Debate

I actually sat down to watch last night's Republican presidential debate. (Memo to Fred Thompson: you really need to run especially after yesterday's video response to Michael Moore - you would have easily beaten the other ten guys on stage)

While there will be much debate on which candidate was triumphant the clear winner last night was Fox News. The questions were sharp, intelligent and tough. The questioners (particularly Chris Wallace) did a good job of pressing for more direct answers when the candidates would evade the questions. Just check out the video montage at National Review's Media Blog to see the difference between last night's debate and the first debate on MSNBC.

Democrats would be well served to rethink their position about not holding any debates on Fox News. If you can stand up to a few tough questions from the best political reporters in the business how are you ever going to stand up to America's real enemies?

Posted by Tom at 02:01 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

May 15, 2007

Remembering Jerry Falwell

Jerry Falwell lived life large and he dies well-loved by many and much-maligned by most. Unlike the many who feel free to mock him even as his friends and family are in the hours of their immediate grief, I knew Rev. Falwell. I served as one of his public relations counselors during some of his best and worst moments. I choose to remember him fondly and to honor his faithfulness, even as I recognize—more than most—the flaws that taint his memory and embolden his critics to dishonor the dead.

Falwell’s greatest accomplishment was his leadership of a large and expansive church, Thomas Road Baptist Church, where many are saved and served. The church’s outreach extends to many, such as unwed mothers and the down and out; many that those who saw the familiar visage of fundamentalists only on talk shows would never believe he had any care for at all.

His message of unwavering fundamentalism became unpopular and easily criticized in modern America, but Falwell never changed. That served him well as a bellwether of the right. His downfall was his more than occasional public carelessness, and his inability to stay away from a microphone or a camera when he could do no good for himself, his cause, or the God he served.

Unfortunately, by the late 1990s it was nearly impossible for any moderation or substance to penetrate his caricature as a southern, overstuffed, intolerant buffoon.

I’ll remember Rev. Falwell as a kind and generous man with an easy laugh and a better vision for America than the nation seemed to have for itself. I was never his primary counselor or a close friend, but I was nearby and involved when media relished reports in one of his publications on Tinky Winky, the gay Teletubbie (blown out of context, but he deserved the firestorm because he refused our counsel to ignore media requests for comment).

And I helped him write his late apology for his callous comments following the attacks of 9/11, when he failed to see that it was time for a pastor’s voice, not a prophet’s rage.

I remember his willingness to reach out to Mel White, his former ghostwriter who began an organization to extend the voice of gay Christians. It was hard for him to stretch toward this natural adversary, but he did so when many others would not.

I disagreed with the reverend on many things, but I appreciated his faithful engagement and the substance behind the bluster. He was an American original and an important voice in our times. I extend my sympathies to his family, and the many families of Thomas Road, Liberty University and beyond that lived happily in his shadow and flourished because of his inspiration.

Posted by Jim at 08:34 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Jerry Falwell Dead

Jerry Falwell has died at the age of 73. Love him or hate him, he did have a huge impact on US politics; US News named him one of the 25 most influential people in America in 1983.

Put a person in front of a camera long enough, and you're sure to get fodder for plenty of Saturday Night Live skits. Falwell was certainly no exception to that, and did his share of apologizing for comments he made. Little is typically noted about what he did that didn't cause a stir--schools, homes for unwed mothers, a home for alcoholics--but those weren't headline-grabbing.

Falwell's fumbles were sometimes notable, sometimes infamous (the Tinky-Winky incident, and where he placed blame for 9/11, for examples), but he did get many conservative Christians out of the closet, so to speak, and get them involved in politics.

He was the go-to guy for many media networks whenever a Christian perspective was needed, giving the impression of a monolithic interest group that all thought like him. That's more a reflection on lazy journalists than it is on Falwell, but he handled them with aplomb, virtually always with a smile.

(And now that he's gone, what'll the MSM do for "Christian reaction"? Pat Robertson, clear your calendar. >shudder<)

Posted by Doug at 03:14 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

May 14, 2007

An Inconvenient Debate

While some schools are showing Al Gore's "An Inconvenient Truth" without rebuttal, a university class is demonstrating that perhaps the global warming alarmists can't handle balance.

Nick Shipley, an Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University freshman, had just spent a week of classes watching two films with polar-opposite conclusions about global warming.

"After watching 'An Inconvenient Truth,' I was relatively convinced," Shipley said one day last month in class. "(Al Gore) did a good job in presenting his points very methodically one after the other. They all build up to essentially prove his point.

"After watching 'The Great Global Warming Swindle,' my thinking completely changed," he said. "I kind of did a complete flip-flop."

It appears that the reason we have more global warming alarmists, especially on college campuses, is that the liberal activists and media are simply not...well....fair and balanced.

To be fair, both sides do their share of exaggeration, but both sides should still be allowed evaluation.

[James] Wanliss [space physicist who teaches the class] said he doesn't necessarily subscribe to either film, but believes his students -- and the public -- should remain skeptical of theories such as Gore's explanation of global warming.

Other Embry-Riddle scientists are less outspoken than Wanliss, but one -- John Olivero, professor and chairman of the department of physical science -- allowed that skepticism is an essential tool of the scientific method.

"Science lives with internal conflict all the time," Olivero said. "Part of what we have to do is continually challenge each other."

That process, they say, leads scientists closer to truths that may be elusive for lifetimes.

The truths of global warming are, if not inconvenient, incomprehensible, Wanliss argues.

"The atmosphere is incredibly complicated, and we know very little about it," he said. "We are studying a system which is so big . . . we don't know what all the variables are."

Pointing to quotes in magazine articles, Wanliss says Gore and the producers of the "Swindle" film are purposefully overstating their science as a means to a political end.

And yet the Left talks of their foes in Holocaust-denial terms. The stifling of dissent in Al Gore's America.

Posted by Doug at 01:16 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

May 11, 2007

The Blame Game, CBS Edition

Why are Katie Couric's ratings in the tank? Linda Mason, CBS News' Senior Vice President for Standards and Special Projects has a thought during this interview.

Linda Mason: I'm just surprised at how, almost 30 years after I worked on the "Evening News" as the first woman producer, that Katie is having such a tough time being accepted by the public, which seems to prefer the news from white guys, and now that Charlie's doing so well, from older white guys. I guess they want the reassurance of a Walter Cronkite.

So why, then, has CBS been in 3rd place since the mid 90s? Couric didn't start that trend. Neither did she start the trend of a ratings dive. That's been going on for at least a quarter century.

So blame the viewers. Suggest sexism and racism. Keeps you from having to answer the hard questions.

Posted by Doug at 08:51 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Newsworthy. Or Not.

With a hat tip to Clayton Cramer, a not-so-hypothetical question. If 3 retired generals (out of several thousand) come out against the war, and if almost 3,000 active-duty military come out asking for full support and full funding and don't want to retreat, are both these items newsworthy?

If you said Yes to the first part and No to the second part, you too could work for CNN or just about any other mainstream media outlet. (Except Fox News, of course. They covered both news items.) As of this posting, two days after the presentation to Congress, CNN has no mention at all of the "Appeal for Courage". Were it not for blog coverage, this might well have been swept under the rug by a media for whom this doesn't fit the narrative.

As John Hinderaker notes at Power Line, this is sort of a lab experiment. And the media failed, as is their habit.

Click here for more details on this petition.

Posted by Doug at 02:05 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

"Public School? Aren't You Worried About Socialization?"

That's the bumper sticker that Linda Whitlock used to have on her car. She's got a great article on the socialization of homeschool kids, including her grandchildren. OK, she may have a conflict of interest, but she still makes great points.

Posted by Doug at 09:35 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

May 09, 2007

Fred Thompson's Excellent Adventure

I must admit up front that I don't know who I'm going to vote for in the presidential election next year. To me, it seems way to early to even think about the election even though my state will have its primary in just nine months. Even though I'm not willing to go out on a limb and declare support for any particular person, I am intrigued by the increasingly successful candidacy of former Tennessee Senator, actor and radio commentator Fred Thompson.

Mr. Thompson is a fairly busy guy between his duties on NBC's Law and Order and his daily radio show on ABC. He's also going around the country making numerous political speeches and drumming up quite a bit of support for his yet-to-be-declared candidacy for the Republican presidential nomination.

Consider two separate polls in the last few days (hat tip to the indispensible Jim Geraghty for both). A few days ago, Mr. Thompson came in second to Rudy Guliani in a North Carolina poll drawing 25% of the vote. Over the weekend, Mr. Thompson won the Washington straw poll.

Do these polls matter at this stage in the game? My answer would be yes and no. They matter in that they show there is a groundswell of support for a Thompson candidacy and a general dissatisfaction among Republicans with the current crop of candidates. However, because Mr. Thompson has not declared and consequently hasn't raised any money it's unclear whether he can stage a viable bid for the nomination.

One other thing: the media has focused a great deal of attention on Rudy Giuliani, Mitt Romney, and John McCain by essentially declaring them the frontrunners (and, by implication, the only men who have a real shot at winning the nomination). Despite all the attention these three have received, Mr. Thompson is still faring pretty well despite the fact he's not officially a candidate.

I think Mr. Thompson could succeed in winning the nomination. First, he is a staunch conservative that has a great deal of name recognition. This is a combination of attributes that seems to be missing from the current field. Most of the candidates are either well-known or conservative but not both.

Second, Mr. Thompson is a very straight shooter who tells you exactly what he's thinking. There is no equivicating or parsing of words. He tells you like it is. Whether you agree with him or not, you know exactly where he stands. Such clarity is woefully absent in politics. This gives him an appeal all across the political spectrum that is lacking in the other candidates.

Hopefully Mr. Thompson will end the mystery soon and let us know his intentions. If nothing else, a Thompson candidacy will give us bloggers a lot to write about.

Posted by Tom at 05:52 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Pope Warns Catholic Politicians Who Back Abortion

In no uncertain terms.

Pope Benedict on Wednesday warned Catholic politicians they risked excommunication from the Church and should not receive communion if they support abortion.

It was the first time that the Pope, speaking to reporters aboard the plane taking him on a trip to Brazil, dealt in depth with a controversial topic that has come up in many countries, including the United States, Mexico, and Italy.

The Pope was asked whether he supported Mexican Church leaders threatening to excommunicate leftist parliamentarians who last month voted to legalize abortion in Mexico City.

"Yes, this excommunication was not an arbitrary one but is allowed by Canon (church) law which says that the killing of an innocent child is incompatible with receiving communion, which is receiving the body of Christ," he said.

"They (Mexican Church leaders) did nothing new, surprising or arbitrary. They simply announced publicly what is contained in the law of the Church... which expresses our appreciation for life and that human individuality, human personality is present from the first moment (of life)".

And he took on the motivations of those who pass pro-abortion legislation.
"Selfishness and fear are at the root of (pro-abortion) legislation," he said. "We in the Church have a great struggle to defend life...life is a gift not a threat."

Well said.

Posted by Doug at 02:58 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

"Under God" Gains Ground in Texas

Michael Newdow must be having a conniption.

The Texas House voted early Friday to inject a little religion into the Texas pledge.

House lawmakers voted 124-5 to put the words "under God" in the Texas pledge of allegiance recited by thousands of school children every day. The change mirrors the national pledge, which has included "under God" since 1954.

Under the bill, the Texas pledge would be: "Honor the Texas flag; I pledge allegiance to thee, Texas, one state under God and indivisible."

The bill still needs a final vote later Friday before it is sent to the Senate.

The bill overwhelmingly passed in the Texas State House, and doesn't appear to have much opposition in the State Senate.

Posted by Doug at 02:10 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

May 08, 2007

Santorum Validated

Time magazine reminds us of a little history.

When the Supreme Court struck down Texas's law against sodomy in the summer of 2003, in the landmark gay rights case of Lawrence v. Texas, critics warned that its sweeping support of a powerful doctrine of privacy could lead to challenges of state laws that forbade such things as gay marriage and bigamy. "State laws against bigamy, same-sex marriage, adult incest, prostitution, masturbation, adultery, fornication, bestiality, and obscenity are ... called into question by today's decision," wrote Justice Antonin Scalia, in a withering dissent he read aloud page by page from the bench.

Rick Santorum was one of those critics.
"If the Supreme Court says you have the right to consensual sex within your home," Santorum said at the time, "then you have the right to bigamy, you have the right to polygamy, you have the right to incest, you have the right to adultery. You have the right to anything."

As [Boston Globe columnist Jeff] Jacoby noted, Santorum was given "holy hell" and handed "nail-spitting" by some critics.

Where are the folks now who gave conservatives such a hard time? Given what Time is reporting, they're probably being very, very quiet.
It turns out the critics were right. Plaintiffs have made the decision the centerpiece of attempts to defeat state bans on the sale of sex toys in Alabama, polygamy in Utah and adoptions by gay couples in Florida. So far the challenges have been unsuccessful. But plaintiffs are still trying, even using Lawrence to challenge laws against incest.

The key phrase is "so far". I'm glad to hear that lower courts are now expanding the Lawrence decision, but these attempts at overturning state laws (joined by the ACLU, unsurprisingly) are unprecedented, and the outcome is by no means assured.
The issue does not appear to have been challenged in federal court previously, though the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in 2005 that a Wisconsin law forbidding incest among blood relations (but not including step-relations) did not conflict with Lawrence's ruling. But in upholding prison sentences for a brother-sister couple in that case, the court acknowledged that the language in Lawrence is all but certain to prompt more challenges to prosecutions for sex-related crimes on privacy grounds.

Hey there, liberals. Pandora left this box for you. Enjoy.

Posted by Doug at 12:49 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

May 07, 2007

Environmentalist Roundup

Found a number of interesting articles regarding some of the radical environmentalist mentality, although the "radical" adjective is becoming less and less applicable, soon to be replaced by "mainstream", methinks.

Paul Watson, one of the founders of Greenpeace and now founder and president of "Sea Shepherd Conservation Society", says that humans are a virus (the "AIDS of the Earth"), and that we should reduce the earth's population by 83%. Watson may have broken away from Greenpeace because they weren't radical enough, but Wikipedia notes some high-profile supporters, some adored by the Left.

Sea Shepherd has many critics, but also many outspoken supporters including actors Richard Dean Anderson, Pierce Brosnan, Martin Sheen, Sean Penn, and William Shatner, environmental activists Dave Foreman and Farley Mowat, and the late writer Edward Abbey. Corporate sponsors include John Paul Mitchell Systems and Patagonia.

Sean Penn is often held in high regard with respect to his Iraq war sentiments, and he's in the company of others not typically considered fringe. (I'll still watch "Stargate SG-1" until the upcoming end of the series, in spite of Anderson's name being on this list.)

In a similar vein, the "Optimum Population Trust" (Wikipedia entry) says that having more babies is a bad thing, at least with respect to carbon dioxide output. Well, at least here's one left-wing organization that can say without a hint of irony, "Don't have children, for the sake of the children." The article notes that the developed world isn't really the problem; it's the developing countries (who probably won't read the report) that he has issues with.

The population of developed nations is expected to remain unchanged and would have declined but for migration.

The British fertility rate is 1.7. The EU average is 1.5.

(As an asidee, this really proves Mark Stein's point when he says that the Arab/Muslim world could install a Caliphate without firing a shot, by simply migrating and reproducing, since the Western world isn't.)

What I find ironic is that the Left, where you often find imagery of back-alley abortions to buttres their points, is likly encouraging another back-alley practice.

China faces a looming baby boom as newly-rich couples find they can afford to pay fines incurred from having more than one child.
[G]rowing numbers of pregnant women are risking their own lives and those of their children by seeking back-alley deliveries to avoid fines for having more than one child, Xinhua quoted vice health minister Jiang Zuojun as saying.

Back-alley procedures are bad if more babies are saved overall, but they're acceptable if they save the atmosphere. I'd rather that people didn't choose either of these dangers, but look at the priorities on display. Someone's holding a magnet to these folks' moral compasses.

And then, appealing to our spirituality, Al Gore holds an evangelistic meeting.

"It's in part a spiritual crisis," Gore told the crowd in the Convention Center at the American Institute of Architects national convention. "It's a crisis of our own self-definition — who we are. Are we creatures destined to destroy our own species? Clearly not."

I will agree that poor stewardship can be a spiritual issue, but I see some problems with the connection he's trying to make. First, self-definition is circular, and from my religious point of view Someone Else does the defining. Secondly, in spite of evidence to the contrary, Gore continues to preach about that global warming / hurricane connection that the climatologists say doesn't exist.
These looming problems involve flooding and severe coastal erosion from rising seas and increasingly severe storms, more common and prolonged drought, and changes in the growing seasons and migration patterns of many wild species.

He's got his own crisis to deal with. He shouldn't bring in a generic religious message for pandering purposes.

Posted by Doug at 02:26 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Big Weekend for Spam

This weekend was a big time for spammers apparently. Got so bad that our blog software shut down comments and trackbacks. Looks like the flood has subsided, so they're back on now. Thanks for your patience.

Posted by Doug at 09:34 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

May 04, 2007

MSNBC: Fair and Balanced?

From watching the Republican debate, Mark Kilmer at Redstate notes some nuttiness on the part of the host.

Chris Matthews was moderating, and he used his forum to blast the Bush Administration in front of a group of Republicans who needed to keep their distance from that Administration. (NOTE: It was the same with Clinton (Bill) when he left office with half the contents of the White House in tow.) He asked Jim Gilmore if President Bush should shakeup his Administration. It's not a question for a Presidential candidate, one who would serve after the Bush Administration had left town, but it was part of Matthews' prank. He later asked Gilmore if he would keep Karl Rove in his Administration.

Is this the kind of shenanigans that Democrats allege would happen on Fox News, and why some of them decided to opt out? Fox-sponsored debates have had, as other debates have had, multiple questioners asking their own questions, and not just questioners from Fox. This one, however, essentially was a platform for Matthews to get in his digs. If MSNBC ever hosts a Democratic debate, it's a safe bet that none of them will opt out. It's not, by any means, a complaint about bias. It's simply that Fox doesn't drink the KoolAid (tm) that apparently MSNBC has a fridge full of.

But we're Republicans. We can take it. >grin<

Posted by Doug at 03:09 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

May 03, 2007

ABC to Webcast Christian/Atheist Debate

Kudos to ABC for webcasting a debate between 2 Christians and 2 atheists this coming Wednesday. It won't be on network TV, but will be on their website live. Speaking for the Christian side will be Ray Comfort and Kirk Cameron (yes, that Kirk Cameron).

Two Christians are meeting two atheists in a televised debate with the subject the existence of God, and Ray Comfort, a best-selling author and expert on Christian evangelism, says he can prove the existence of the Almighty in his allotted 13 minutes – without mentioning the Bible or faith.

"The network originally offered me only four minutes to present my case," Comfort said. "After speaking with Kirk [Cameron, former Growing Pains and Left Behind series movie star] and conferring with the atheists, they settled on 13 minutes. I'm ecstatic. I can prove the existence of God in that amount of time."

The debate will be Saturday in New York, and ABC had originally planned a live webcast of the 90-minute event, but changed plans to capture a larger audience, officials said.

ABC instead will broadcast the entire debate on ABC.com on May 9, at 1 p.m. EST.

The old adage goes that no one was ever argued into heaven, but some are at least influenced by reasoning. I'm not really concerned about what the atheists might say.
The idea for the debate developed after several atheists launched the Internet site Blasphemy Challenge, which offers to send people a DVD if they post on Youtube.com a video of themselves condemning themselves to hell.

The self-described "Rational Response Squad" said its DVDs, "The God Who Wasn't There," was described by the Los Angeles Times as "provocative – to put it mildly."

These guys have some sort of special vendetta against Christianity specifically, and their MO is shock. No, not worried about what these guys will come up with.

Posted by Doug at 02:51 PM | Comments (7) | TrackBack

May 01, 2007

How Did They Survive Before?

Muslim cabbies refusing to service customers who have alcohol or a dog, even a guide dog. Muslim cashiers refuse to scan pork products. Now, they're asking for, and getting, special ceremonial foot basins to wash their feet just prior to their prayer time.

How did these folks survive 20th century America? Or is this, as the first link asks, a battle of the vision for the Muslim religion? And are the radicals winning?

Posted by Doug at 02:32 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack