February 29, 2004
Passion of Christ - Another Perspective
One of the great things about people is their diversity. My review of The Passion of Christ was obviously written in my analytical style. Given the amount of fanfare this movie has provoked, I have found two other perspectives I thought quite interesting.

The Pro-Semitic Passion of Christ
I saw The Passion of Christ on Thursday, but wanted to think about the film for a few days before posting about it. I had many conflicting impulses about the movie. It is an intensely graphic movie about Christ's last weekend on Earth before His resurrection. Even several days after viewing it, my feelings are still mixed. However, one fact is abundantly clear. Any person who believes this movie is anti-Semitic is either very ignorant, very biased, or both.

February 26, 2004
AFL-CIO: Supporting the Wrong Party?
A Missouri reader asked me to comment on Ann Coulter's column on the AFL-CIO. I do not know much about Coulter, but she raised an interesting point in this column. She claimed that the AFL-CIO is acting foolishly in their dedicated support of the Democrats. As evidence, she brings up three important issues where the AFL-CIO attempted to influence US policy.

1) The AFL-CIO vehemently opposed NAFTA.

2) The AFL-CIO opposed permanent normal trade relations with China.

3) The AFL-CIO supported drilling for oil in Alaska's Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.

Coulter then sarcastically noted:

The unions lost every vote. Demonstrating his savvy political skills, the head of the AFL-CIO, John Sweeney, repeatedly throws the federation's support to political candidates who opposed labor on all three issues.

Strictly following his strategy of selling union votes for nothing, the AFL-CIO has endorsed Sen. John Kerry – who voted for NAFTA, voted for trade with China and voted against drilling for oil in Alaska.

There is only one candidate for president who didn't vote for NAFTA, didn't vote for trade with China and supported drilling in ANWR. That candidate is George Bush.

Coulter is correct in both her three statements about the AFL-CIO and her statements about Kerry.

In fairness to the ACL-CIO leadership, I should point out that Coulter only brought out points that supported her argument. There may be points where Kerry is more attractive on the issues to ACL-CIO than Bush. I am only aware of one such point. Kerry would require companies to give three months notice to employees if their jobs were sent overseas. However, since 1) this would do absolutely nothing to change the long-term outsourcing trend and 2) many companies already provide substantial compensation plans in these circumstances, this hardly seems enough to overcome Kerry's votes against union interests.

One of my biggest gripes with President Bush is that he is the most protectionist president we have seen since at least Jimmy Carter. I am still irritated by Bush's imposition of steel tariffs along with his protectionism in the proposed Australian Free Trade Agreement. Yet the very factors that annoy me should make him attractive to unions whose primary consideration is the economic well-being of their members. (While free trade is better for the American economy as a whole, protectionism is definitely better for those working for protected industries). So why does John Sweeney (and thus, the AFL-CIO) endorse Kerry? Your guess is as good as mine. However, it does not appear to be out of reasoned concern for union members.

Handling Stress
Sometimes people handle stress in unusual ways. What would you do if you were pursuing your doctorate while your wife was overdue with your third son? Here is one answer.
After reading a book to his 4-year-old son, Andrew, about a furry critter who builds a snow fort, Botz decided to build one of his own. He and Andrew went out to work on it together, but the son soon got cold and went inside.

Wednesday, the couple's [third] son, Thomas, was born. He came in at 10 pounds, 13 ounces. Botz took a two-day break from the igloo, then went back for the finishing touches.

…after more than 30 hours of hand-freezing labor, he finished it: a two-room sleeper igloo, complete with a welcome mat and a skylight made of ice.

Botz credits his wife for never telling him he couldn't do it.

"I told Erin, sometimes we choose projects, and sometimes they're thrust upon us," he said.

While I was in a similar situation when my third child was born, I must confess Botz's solution never once crossed my mind.

February 25, 2004
Political Highlights of the Week
I have not been posting too much on the political race lately because it seems obvious that Kerry will be fighting Bush for the nomination unless he suffers a Dean-like meltdown between now and Super Tuesday. However, for those who follow politics, this has been an interesting week.

On Monday, President Bush made his first response against his probable opponent.

February 23, 2004
Creative Writing
Lady Quixote sent me this link and stated "I could SO see you doing this as an undergraduate." If I were given that opportunity, well, my wife is probably right. Of course, I hope I would have been more polite at the end.

Political and Other Anagrams
A reader forwarded this list of anagrams to me. It was presumably created and compiled by several Scrabble experts. I found it amusing, but let me provide fair warning. This post contains a few crude anagrams (on par with Jay Leno's monologues).

Don Quixote | | TrackBack: 0
Category: Domestic Politics , Category: Humor
February 20, 2004
Europe Revisits Bush
Paul Johnson, a British historian, has an interesting column in Forbes (free membership required, feel free to sign in as "AdmiralQuixote" password "Solport"). Towards the end of it, he discusses how many Europeans are changing their views about Bush.

February 19, 2004
A Promising Development
An experimental vaccine has shown promise against lung cancer. The specific details of this particular research are not as important as what this foretells. I expect to see many similar studies testing various cancer vaccines over the next five to ten years. By the time my children reach adulthood, it is certainly possible that many cancers will be easily prevented.

Windows RG
A Mac User sent me this link. It contains enough truth to both hurt and be funny.

Pay attention to the initial instructions (you exit the demo by holding down the "alt" key and hitting the "F4" key).

February 18, 2004
The State of the Union
Remember the infamous red and blue map from 2000? Someone had the bright idea of using it as a baseline and applying current polling results to it. According to his explanation, he is slightly biasing things against Bush (deliberately) in his methodology by assuming Nader will not run in 2004 and by using the best Democratic poll for each state (e.g., he may use a Kerry vs. Bush poll in Massachusetts and a Bush vs. Edwards poll in South Carolina). This has given a very interesting result.

According to his research, if the election were held today, Bush would narrowly win. Many pundits, myself included, have thought we might see a landslide victory by Bush in November. This is the first objective forecast that I've seen that shows we are still a divided nation. As I've explained, it does stack things slightly against Bush, but I think his approach is quite reasonable. It will be interesting to see how his map changes as we get closer to November.

Tip of the helm to My favorite movie reviewer

Democratic Hopefuls and Gamesmanship
I flipped on the news last night to see the results of the Wisconsin primary. Kerry narrowly beat out Edwards, but that was expected. The closeness of the race was the story and some of the talking heads were trying to figure it out.

None of their theories made sense to me, especially those who blamed the results on hypothetical Republicans who may have voted for Edwards in the primary. Why would this matter? Good question. The pundits said it would cause Kerry to spend more time concentrating on the primary and less time attacking President Bush.

Actually, if any Republicans were playing games (and I do not endorse such behavior), the smart move would have been to vote for Kerry. Unless he self-destructs as quickly as Howard Dean managed to do, Kerry is the presumptive nominee to be the Democratic contender. And while Kerry continues to hack off Southerners, he is still popular with Democrats in most of the country. His public positions are far to the left of Edwards which will not help Kerry win the swing voters. Republicans would be stupid to do anything to increase the chances that Bush would have to run against Edwards instead of Kerry. Not only is Edwards relatively moderate compared to Kerry, he might actually win a Southern state or two. Risking facing a much more competitive opponent in exchange for making Kerry spend a few more days nailing down the nomination would be a poor trade-off for any Republicans.

No, the reason why the race was so close is because of the potential intern scandal. Most Democrats only care about one thing in their candidate: electability. Voters abandoned Dean in droves once it was clear he could not beat Bush. I believe many Wisconsin Democrats were simply worried that the intern scandal would tar Kerry, so they voted for Edwards instead. As this story ages (and is buried behind disclaimers that there is no proof), I suspect Kerry will easily win on Super Tuesday and then it will be Kerry versus Bush from that point forward.

It looks like self-destructing Dean is finally going to bail this week too. If he endorsed Edwards, he could probably make the campaign much more competitive. However, early indications are that he will not do so. I suspect he is negotiating with both Edwards and Kerry for a potential administrative position should Bush be defeated.

February 16, 2004
Reader Feedback on Abortion
One of my Canadian readers, MRH, had some comments on my abortion paper What do the Scriptures Say about Abortion?. To the best of my knowledge, MRH is currently an agnostic, but has been studying the Bible in order to make an informed decision about Christianity. This gives him a unique perspective on things.

Civilized Discourse with Clashing World Views
I have been posting less than usual recently. In part this has been due to real-life constraints, but I have also been engaged in an exchange of worldviews elsewhere on the net. One of my readers asked me to comment on this thread. Not on the original topic, but on the difference in world views between the religious right and the agnostic left. If you are interested in this sort of discussion, feel free to join in. Warning: it is quite lengthy, but almost all concerned has been quite civil.

February 12, 2004
Clinton Endorses Kerry
Scott Ott breaks the story about Clinton. I was debating even posting the Kerry problem, but Scott's unique perspective was worth posting.

I suspect this story will keep Dean in the race for a while longer. I'm starting to believe Edwards was staying in the race to position himself for a 2008 run, but he, too, has to wonder if this story will give him a chance in 2004.

This does not change my voting plans since I wasn't going to vote for Kerry anyway. I'm mostly curious as to what the Looney Left (such as Move on) will do. You remember, these are the people who first defended Clinton by stating infidelity was a personal issue and should have no role in making political decisions. Then they decided that infidelity was an important political issue again when Schwarzenegger ran for office. Now that another Democrat has been caught, I suspect fidelity will no longer be important (again). Gotta love folks who can take a stand and stick with their principles…

Republican, Democrat, or Independent; I see no reason to believe that a man who will betray his family vows to his wife will keep his office vows to me.

Fingerprinting, Birds, and Brazil
In January, I remarked on a wacko Brazilian judge who stated the new US policy of fingerprinting visitors was worthy of the worst horrors committed by the Nazis and then turned around and willfully enforced the same policy for incoming Americans.

Since then, two Americans have shown their opinions of the policy by shooting birds at the Brazilian authorities when they were being photographed. American Airlines pilot Dale Hersh did so in January and was paid nearly $13,000 in fines vs. risking spending two years in jail. Last week, Douglas A. Skolnick also paid more than $17,000 to get out of jail.

Brazil has laws against showing contempt to authority. Brazil is certainly within their rights to do this, although I wonder what sort of diplomatic problems would have been caused if either of the Americans refused to pay. However, this incident reinforces how fortunate Americans are to live in a country where we are very free to express ourselves. I do not condone the rudeness of these two Americans, but I hope someday the people of Brazil will have the same rights to free speech that we take for granted.

I also wonder how many American tourists will now avoid Brazil since they now know the can be substantially fined if they are too free with their opinions.

February 11, 2004
Another Right to Life Bill
The media must really despise how the internet has reduced their monopoly on power. When I was vainly searching for a media report on Hunter's Right to Life Bill, I found a post by the evangelical outpost. The legislature of South Dakota is directly challenging Roe v. Wade. In South Dakota House Bill 1191:

Right to Life Bill, Part II
I asked several legal bloggers to comment on the Right to Life Act. Many responded, but the subject was outside the expertise of most of those I contacted. Fortunately, Glenn Reynolds and Eugene Volokh were kind enough to respond. Neither thought much of the bill.

February 10, 2004
Welcome Lucy!
The King of Fools' moonlighting career as a web-designer is taking off. He just finished designing a site for a friend of mine. Go visit Lucy's Island.

Thoughts on DOMA
Clayton Cramer poses a conundrum. In a recent AP poll, 42% of Americans favored a constitutional Defense of Marriage Amendment, 49% opposed, and presumably 19% were undecided (the AP article did not say). The same poll stated that 60% of the same respondent opposed any law legitimizing homosexual marriage (with 31% favoring such a law).

Given this majority opposition to legitimizing gay marriage (60%), Clayton wonders why 18% (60% minus the 42% who approved the amendment) of the respondents did not also favor a federal amendment. He theorizes:

Another Small Step for Free Trade
Assuming Congress ratifies the agreement, Australia and the United States will have a free trade agreement (FTA). The negotiated FTA is not perfect. The US continues to protect its farmers from competition (especially sugar/corn syrup producers) to the cost of Australian producers and American consumers. Likewise, Austrialia still protects its entertainment and pharmaceutical industries from American competition to the cost of some of our industries and their consumers.

However, this agreement is far better than nothing. Yes, I share the disappointment that the agreement took the more politically expedient route of not threatening Big Sugar. However, let us be thankful for a step in the right direction. Given the Bush administration's protectionist record, I am thrilled that they are willing to bring this to Congress in an election year. I had feared they would completely wimp out and wait until 2005 if Bush is reelected.

In the words of Gerard Henderson,

The exclusion of sugar from the FTA will not make canegrowers and sugar producers any worse off than they are now. Yet the junking of the FTA would have adversely affected the prospects of other Australian industries seeking to sell on American markets... No developed economy, including Asian economies, would want to be excluded from such an arrangement. And none would sacrifice such a deal for any particular industry, including sugar.
In other words, half a loaf is better than none.

What does it mean for the typical American consumer? Virtually all tariffs on lamb and manufactured goods are now gone. I'm not sure what manufactured goods we import from Australia, but we imported about $5 billions dollars worth in 2003. So I expect imports of these goods (whatever they are) and lamb to increase. Many American manufacturers will benefit from opening up Australia's markets as well. According to the United States Trade Representative office, the US already has a $9 billion trade surplus with Australia despite paying very high Australian tariffs. With the removal of these tariffs (and the currently low dollar), I expect exports to Australian to increase.

Trade is not a zero-sum game. By more efficiently exporting products that each country produced efficiently, both sides benefit. If you write your representatives, please ask them to ratify the FTA. Make it clear that your support would be even stronger if the FTA did not protect our inefficient domestic sugar producers.

February 07, 2004
Right to Life Act
Here is a bill that has not received much press. Last year, Congressman Duncan Hunter sponsored H.R. 3069, the Right to Life Act. It is also known as the Life at Conception Act. As of today, there are 23 co-sponsors (two from this week). The act is an elegant and straightforward way to make abortion illegal again without a Constitutional amendment.

The Supreme Court, in the Roe v. Wade Decision itself, provided a way to overturn their decision.

If this suggestion of personhood is established, the appellant's case [that is, "Roe" who sought an abortion], of course, collapses, for the fetus' right to life is then guaranteed specifically by the [14th] Amendment.
As far as I can tell, the Right to Life Act has received absolutely zero press. I just learned about the act this week. I did a search on Google and found a grand total of zero media references to it. Given the pro-life swing in public opinion, it does not surprise me that many in the media do not want to make this a story.

If you are a fellow blogger and do not agree with this act, please discuss it at your site. This issue is too important to allow the media to prevent its discussion.

I ask any pro-life readers who support this act to do several things.

First of all, send this post to as many of your pro-life friends as possible. If you click on the permalink (the chain icon) and scroll down past the comments section, you can simply enter a friend's email address and it will be forwarded to them. If you have lots of pro-life friends, simply email the post to yourself and then forward it to all. If you are a pro-life blogger, please link to this post on one of your discussions. Let's see how much attention we can draw to this act despite the objections of the traditional media.

Second, contact your congressman or congresswoman and let him or her know you support this bill. If you feel strongly about the issue, write a person letter. You can even collect signatures and send them in – that is a real attention getter. If you do not have time to create your own letter, feel free to use this letter I created. You may use it for either purpose.

Tip of the helm to the National Pro-Life Alliance

February 06, 2004
Soft Judgments Result in Death
The AP reported that a long-time drug offender, who continually violated parole, is the primary suspect in the murder of a young girl.
Police said Joseph P. Smith told a witness that he had kidnapped and killed Carlie Brucia, and authorities used that information to find the sixth-grader's body in a church parking lot a few miles from the carwash.

Smith has been arrested at least 13 times in Florida since 1993.

Cinematic Movie Reviews
Khobrah, the host of Sharper Than a Serpent's Tooth, has set an ambitious review schedule for 2004. If you enjoy B movies, go visit. As Lady Quixote has said, his reviews are more fun than the movies themselves.

The German People Deserve Better, Part IX
I am not a fan of Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder. He played the anti-American card when he ran for election and I believe he was the single most influential German when it came to weakening the strong ties between America and Germany. (Please note that I said he was the most influential German, I recognize that some Americans – and many French – also played a role in creating a gulf between our nations.) I know and respect many Germans and believe that relations between our countries will grow strong again once Schroeder is no longer in power. Before I enabled comments, I posted German feedback to facilitate understanding.

Schroeder has lost the confidence of his own party and today he announced he was resigning as the SPD party leader. I misread the headline and cheered aloud when I thought he was quitting as chancellor.

Faking Mental Illness
In 1972, a psychologist named David Rosenhan convinced some of his friends to fake their way into psychiatric wards across the US.
The pseudopatients were to present themselves and say words along these lines: "I am hearing a voice. It is saying thud." Rosenhan specifically chose this complaint because nowhere in psychiatric literature are there any reports of any person hearing a voice that contains such obvious cartoon angst.

Upon further questioning, the eight pseudopatients were to answer honestly, save for name and occupation. They were to feign no other symptoms. Once on the ward, if admitted, they were immediately to say that the voice had disappeared and that they now felt fine. Rosenhan then gave his confederates a lesson in managing medication, how to avoid swallowing it by slipping it under the tongue, so it could later be blurted back to the toilet bowl.

Once in the admissions unit, Rosenhan was led to a small white room. "What is the problem?" a psychiatrist asked.

"I'm hearing a voice," Rosenhan said, and then he said nothing else.

"And what is the voice saying?" the psychiatrist questioned, falling, unbeknown to him, straight into Rosenhan's rabbit hole.

"Thud," Rosenhan said, smugly, I imagine.

Today's Trivia
You may be surprised to learn that approximately 90% of dictionary publishers have omitted the word gullible since 1973. Let's do an unscientific study and see how many of my readers' dictionaries include the word.

Please respond in the comments section.

February 04, 2004
Give Your Beauty a Beast
These words of "wisdom" come from New York.
Looking for a little something special for your valentine? How about a hissing cockroach?

For ten bucks, you can adopt a hissing cockroach for your sweetheart. The adoption includes a photo, cockroach fact sheet and a free pass for your special friend to visit the little hisser.

While I am tempted to insert a Hillary Clinton crack, I shall refrain. Some things are just too easy.

I shall warn men to think carefully before following this advice. While a few women may appreciate this gift, most will not. I know Lady Quixote would not be amused by receiving such a gift. On the other hand, many men might appreciate it.

Abortion and Politics
As I state in my biases, I am very pro-life.
My strongest bias is my respect for human life. I think the vivisection of unborn babies is barbaric and I look forward to a time when this practice rejoins slavery as a relic of the past. I take great solace that the post Baby-Boomer generations are growing more and more pro-life every year and I predict that abortion will be illegal again somewhere between 2020 and 2040.
I do not know how many of my readers share my views on this, but my abortion reference page receives many hits along with a white paper I wrote on What do the Scriptures (Jewish & Christian) say about abortion? So I am confident that this issue is of interest to many people who visit this site no matter where they stand on the issue.

The political implications of abortion are fascinating and are starting to receive more media attention.

Democratic Primaries – The Road Ahead
After last nights dismal showing, Lieberman realized he had no chance and finally withdrew from the contest. Kucinich and Sharpton are evidently playing their own personal game of Democrat Survivor and I expect at least Sharpton to hang around for the entire contest for both the attention and the hopes of trading his delegates for future influence should it be a close contest.

So let's consider the top four candidates.

Mini-Super Tuesday Results
Kerry had a big night, winning five of the seven states. Edwards showed his Southern strength and easily won South Carolina. In a surprise showing, Wesley Clark narrowly beat out Edwards for Oklahoma with Kerry a distant third.

February 03, 2004
Imagine waking up to ten degrees below zero Fahrenheit -- -20 to -30F with wind chill (- 23 Celsius; -28C to -34C with wind chill). I drove a bit northwest of Chicago Thursday night and awoke to these conditions. My compliments to the State of Illinois; despite ridiculous low temperatures and the occasional snow and sleet, Illinois did a great job keeping the roads clean and drivable. The only hazardous aspect was during a brief snowfall, it was difficult to see a snowplow in front of me until I was upon it.

I had a great trip. Although I may delay future visits until the arrival of warmer weather.