Friday, August 29, 2008

The Platform Position That Really Matters

Forget the Iraq War. Forget the economy. Forget gay marriage, abortion, taxes, unions, foreign policy, domestic policy, and everything else.

I need to know, and I need to know now, what the next President will do about giant foreign spiders killing our family pets.

GIS for the spider in question here. Sweet Lord, deliver us from this evil.

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Thursday, August 28, 2008

A Little Part of Me Just Died

Sounds like Fred! is out for VP. The tiny, burning ember has lost its spark.


Wisdom of the Ages

Jay Nordlinger posts the following quote, in response to Slow Joe Biden's execrable remark that "these times require more than a good soldier, they require a wise leader" (directed at McCain, of course), courtesy of Thucydides*:
"The society that separates its scholars from its warriors will have its thinking done by cowards and its fighting done by fools."

I'm not terribly well-read in the Classics, and I consider this a major failing of my own education (the other being the lack of any "shop" type classes, although both of these are failings of modern pedagogy as a whole, I think). In fact, apart from some high school Homer and some Julius Caesar, I'm not "read" at all in that realm. But clearly there is much wisdom to be gained from such an exposure, so perhaps it's time I rectify that glaring omission in my own studies.

As for the content of what Biden said: okay, show me one genuinely wise thing Obama has done or said in his vast, expansive career. Just one! Please! That's all I'm asking...

*Update: Okay, maybe it was more recent than Thucydides. But I think my points still stand.

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Friday, August 22, 2008

How Does That Happen?

The latest (and boy do I mean late!) buzz in the VP race is now pointing to Chet Edwards as a potential pick by Obama. Interesting Red Shirt Fun Fact™: Edwards was my congressman for four years while I was at Baylor. And we at Baylor really didn't like him despite his incredibly conservative (for a Democrat) record, for a single reason: he is staunchly pro-choice. Apparently the rest of his central Texas district thought that was just fine and dandy, though.

So he's pro-choice; that's hardy surprising for a Democrat. But he's also very much anti-gay-marriage. And that's where confusion really enters into it for me, so I pose the question: how does one become pro-abortion and anti-gay-marriage? I don't see the logical path. I can certainly see the reverse path. One could easily approach a pro-life position from a "sanctity of all life" approach that is not necessarily informed by religious values, and extend that to a sort of "do what thou wilt and harm no other" sort of philosophy, thus being hunky-dory with gay marriage as well.

And of course the other possibilities in this matrix are evident in everyday politics: for cultural and religious reasons, people tend to oppose both abortion and gay marriage; for libertarian or "empowerment" reasons, people tend to support them (see attached illustration). Everyone knows where I stand on these issues, and I certainly make no effort to conceal my thoughts thereupon (and far from the "There's room to debate these issues, of course" line, I think anyone who differs from my opinion (Cartesian quadrant IV) is either evil (Cartesian quadrant II) or ignorant (Cartesian quadrant III). Take THAT!). But I am really at a loss to understand any personal ethos that would convince someone that killing babies is okay, but damn those queers and their legitimated sodomy! So to my dear readers: please, if you can justify (if not believe yourself, I hope!) such a logical connection, however speciously, please illuminate me in the comments!

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Pithy And Powerful

Over at The Corner, Peter Kirsanow deconstructs the central myths of the Obama campaign and its appeal. I don't normally repost entire articles, but this is so brutally effective that I will make an exception, both here and my other blog. For your enjoyment:
When the Obama campaign was at it's apogee six months ago, its narrative— and Obama's appeal— consisted of the following components: 1) he transcends race; 2) he has superior judgment; 3) he's a post-partisan, non-ideological moderate; and 4) he's a nice, decent guy.
For most of the primary season, the narrative filled the voids in Obama's resume and experience. The claims underlying the narrative have now evaporated —-primarily due to Obama's self-inflicted wounds :

* Claim: Transcends race. Obama's a post-racial healer; he doesn't count by race.

Reality: 20 year membership in Rev. Wright's church; staunch supporter of racial preferences in public employment, contracting and school admissions; profligate insinuations of racism; even the New York Times notices he fails to transcend race.

* Claim: Superior judgment. Obama's lack of experience is more than offset by superior judgment. See, e.g., his opposition to the Iraq war.

Reality: Spectacularly and obstinately wrong on the surge; associates with Wright, Ayers, Rezko,Pfleger; his position on withdrawal from Iraq would've resulted in chaos, defeat and a resurgent al Qaeda.

* Claim: Post-partisan, non-ideological moderate. He bridges the partisan divide; not a knee-jerk ideologue like Bush/Cheney/McCain; thinks through issues; appreciates nuance.

Reality: Most liberal member of the senate; doctrinaire Democrat who rarely crosses the aisle; has perfected the technique of claiming to "listen" to the other side while almost invariably ending up on liberal/ Democrat side.

* Claim: Nice guy. Obama's an ordinary, reasonable Joe with Midwestern—"Kansas"—values.

Reality: Voted against the Born-Alive Infant Protection Act and issued four false explanations regarding same; calls those who point out the truth liars; repeatedly implies opponents or critics are racists; condescends to rural, blue collar Americans.

The Born-Alive vote and Obama's mendacity regarding the vote are, perhaps, the most devastating blows to the narrative. Obama hasn't been able to explain the vote because it's inexplicable.
With the narrative extinguished, the war being won and Bush/Cheney leaving office, what's left of the Obama appeal?
Forward this, or at least the link I've provided above, to everyone you know who's buying into this bunkum.


My VEEP Picks

I go on record about my official VEEP picks here. Long story short, Obama/Bayh and McCain/Cantor.


Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Obama Declares Self as VP Pick

Denver, CO -- Amid much speculation and anticipation, presumptive Democratic Presidential nominee Barack Obama has finally unveiled his selection for the Vice Presidential candidate slot: himself. Coming as a shock to his supporters, and almost no surprise at all to his detractors, Mr. Obama's campaign staff was quick to explain the decision to reporters. According to one highly-placed campaign staffer, "Barack Obama has demonstrated time and time again that this campaign isn't about experience, it isn't about who fought in what silly little wars, and it definitely isn't about an established track record on issues that matter to Americans. No, it's about judgment. And if we're saying that Obama has the best judgment ever, then why would he sully that judgment by picking a lesser being to run alongside him?"

Barack Obama himself, when questioned about the startling revelation, responded, "Well, I am "The One", after all. How can The One be Two? That just doesn't make sense, you see. And I'm not going to let my Republican detractors make an issue out of my short time in office. If I were to pick someone with more experience than me, they'd be quick to point out that I was trying to shore up deficiencies. And, let's face it, there is nobody with less experience than me, so that leaves... just me!"

A Constitutional scholar, who asked not to be named because he is supporting the Obama/Obama ticket and did not want to give the appearance of bias, offered up this opinion: "Many folks have been trying to object to this move on the grounds of no clear line of succession should some tragedy befall Mr. Obama as President. I don't think there's really much concern for that. After all, from what I hear, if he should be struck down, he'll just rise again in three days".

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This Is Sad News

LeRoi Moore, saxophonist for the Dave Matthews Band, has died of complications stemming from injuries sustained in an ATV accident back in June.

As some of my readers know, back when I was in college and graduate school, I was a die-hard fan of the Dave Matthews Band. I attended so many of their shows that I actually lost count (including all three nights of their historic "Gorge at George" performance),was actively involved in "tape trading" (DMB was one of the few bands around who actively encouraged fan-taping and trading of their shows, up to and including the selling of special "taper tickets" near the sound boards), and possessed somewhere in the range of 250 thus-taped "bootleg" shows. Hell, I even picked up a guitar for the first time just to play their songs. Everybody needs a hobby.

One of the side effects of listening to show after show after show is that, in some way, you get to know the performer. This is especially true of Dave Matthews, who engages in what fans call "Davespeak" quite often in between songs, particularly during his own solo (or duo with guitar-god Tim Reynolds) shows. So it became increasingly clear that the lead singer, and the band itself, drifted leftward from an already considerably left-ish starting point, following the WTC attacks on September 11th -- clearly Bush Derangement Syndrome at work. It was never as shrill as most lefties; Mr. Matthews and the band were always adamantly supporting the troops, and not even in a " bringing them home" way, so they have that in their favor. But clearly they were never "mugged by reality" in the way that most sensible converts (read: "dreaded neo-cons") were. And unfortunately, this drift began to pervade their music, made manifest in particular with their 2005 release "Stand Up", many of the songs on which contain not-so-thinly veiled jabs at the Bush administration and the situation in Iraq.

This "social conscience" also seemed to effect the quality of their music, which had been in steady decline since the "Lillywhite Sessions" debacle of the previous few years. In short: the band had produced a stellar album full of crowd-tested songs back in 2001, which was then completely scrapped, and their long-time producer, Steve Lillywhite, was sacked. Then the band got together with uber-pop-producer Glen Ballard, who churned out an "album" of all-new material in less than a month, which was uniformly reviled by all long-time fans. Shortly thereafter (or maybe shortly therebefore; I can't recall the exact timeline), a fan illicitly obtained a copy of those originally scrapped studio sessions, which were then swiftly released onto the internet as "The Lillywhite Sessions" -- an amazing compilation of great, soulful songs in the finest tradition of DMB. Two years later, "Busted Stuff" was released, which was a soulless re-mastering of many of those same songs, by a different producer. At any rate, I mostly stopped listening and completely stopped attending concerts and tape trading around 2004. Their music has been total dreck since then (the rumor mill reports that their current tour is, albeit missing LeRoi Moore, back to form), and I have not been bothered to listen to them or follow their career for several years because of these factors. Of course, I still listen to the "good old stuff" from time to time.

But despite having "fallen off the wagon", this strikes me as very sad news. My thoughts and prayers go out to his family and friends.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

I Want This

Behold: the Meat-Cake. For Weddings.

I want to divorce Mrs. Red Shirt, and then re-propose to her, and get married again, for the sole purpose of letting that be my wedding cake. Screw that "groom's cake" nonsense. I'm thinking... multiple tiers. And G.I. Joe figures on top. Baroness and Destro, probably.

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Friday, August 15, 2008

A Priesthood of One

In my daily Bible readings, I'm currently going through the book of Hebrews. As Hebrews could be considered one of the more weighty and controversial of the books of the New Testament in terms of its dense theological pronouncements (up there with Romans and James in my own estimation), it's certainly no small task to make one's way through it (I'm very much a one-book-at-a-time, all-the-way-through-it kind of Scriptural reader). Anywho, today I read from chapter 7, which discusses Christ as a high priest from the order of Melchizedek (in short, a non-Levitical King/Priest ordained directly by God rather than by birthright). What stood out to me was the following passage:
[23] The former priests were many in number, because they were prevented by death from continuing in office, [24] but he holds his priesthood permanently, because he continues forever. [25] Consequently, he is able to save to the uttermost those who draw near to God through him, since he always lives to make intercession for them.
It struck me that, as Christians, we are differentiated from the Jews in that we have no need of a formal priesthood to intercede for us or provide access to God, because Christ fulfills this role wholly and perfectly in a way that the human High Priest only incompletely did for the Jews. Now, don't misread what I'm saying to be a knock at formal orders of clergy per se -- there is certainly Biblical precedent for some kind of hierarchy and dedicated Church leadership. Perhaps referring to it as a "priesthood" is part of the problem, however, given the context of these verses. Human beings yearn for human shepherding, which is comprised in part by teaching, comforting, leading, training, etc.; and I believe that is the role fulfilled by pastors, priests, deacons, bishops, and other clergy members across all denominations. But only Christ alone provides us with unfettered access to God the Father, and in a way that is far more glorious than any human ever could.


Thursday, August 14, 2008

There But For The Strokes of Phelps Go I

Much is being said in the blogosphere about the complete lack of interest in the 2008 Beijing Olympics. Typically, and somewhat surprisingly given the blogs I haunt, it's more a matter of total lack of interest rather than any sort of anti-ChiCom political statement. Or at least that's what the avoiders claim, perhaps in an attempt to seem iconoclastic. Well, I'm largely in their boat, AND the other boat -- I detest the atrocities of the Chinese Communist regime and the entire political ethos for which they stand, so that takes away any potential interest I might have in watching them perform; but on the other hand, there was virtually no interest in the various Olympic competitions in the first place, so it's a move from infinitesimal to zero, really.

The one exception to this, though, is Men's Swimming, and in particular, Michael Phelps' performance therein. I defy anyone to watch the video of the Men's 4x200 or 4x100 relays (available currently here), or any of Phelps' individual events, and not feel the spark of American dominance and competition somewhere in their cold, "Citizen of the World" hearts. Just look at this already-classic photo of Phelps upon realizing that his team just beat the famously cocky French team ("The Americans? We're going to smash them. That's what we came here for.")in the 4x100 relay to win the gold:

That's America. Victorious and unafraid to show it. His enthusiasm during that match is a great sight to see as well; I advise you all to go seek out that video (no embed for dumb ol' NBC so far -- maybe they'll wise up eventually). It's also great to be a part of his epic chase for the all-time inter-Olympic gold medal record (now accomplished) and the all-time intra-Olympic gold medal record (5 down, 3 to go, and the "hard" events are behind him), and to watch him score a world record in Every. Single. One.

But antagonistically-godless Buchananite curmudgeon John Derbyshire (linked above, and oh how I do so love calling him increasingly descriptive names!) made a pretty good point, effectively raining on my parade:
If you are real good at running, jumping, throwing, basketball, etc, you may get a gold medal. If you are real good at swimming, however, you can get a dozen or so. How is this fair?
I don't really have an answer to that. Darn you, Derb!

Update: I posed the quote to Mrs. Red Shirt. Her (strong, I think), point, which dovetails into Marty's comment in the comments section, is that it's a matter of training choices. A gymnast, for example, could spend time training in each and every event (pommel horse, rings, bars, floor exercise, spring board, etc.). It would be insanely rigorous, but it's been done before. Same with track & field, as Marty says. Nothing is preventing a stand-out runner from competing in multiple T&F events of a similar nature; there's lots and lots of races that are almost exact analogs to the various swim events. For whatever reason, they don't, and swimmers do. Mrs. Red Shirt argues that mastering different strokes is possibly even more difficult than different running events, for example. In fact, many many events have multiple "flavors" in a similar vein: fencing has epee, saber, etc., shooting has single trap, double trap, prone, pistol, etc., weight lifting has multiple weight classes, etc., etc... The mechanics within a single grouping are all very similar, so perhaps it IS (as per Marty) a matter of over-specialization in all but the one field of swimming.

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Wednesday, August 13, 2008

It's A Boy!

Mrs. Red Shirt and I just got back from her 20-week ultrasound this very morning. And the news is in: we're having a baby boy! We're very excited about it. I know my brother is upset, as he wanted to have the first boy, being the eldest himself, but the early bird gets the worm, as they say! (that was a none-too-subtle jab at you to start makin' babies, bro!).

A confession: I'm glad my first child was a girl, as I was able to get all ooey-gooey with her in completely unrestrained fashion. I have a bit of trepidation when it comes to boys, as my interests veer heavily toward "geek", away from the traditional "masculine" outlets of sports, hunting, fishing, fixin' things, etc. Thus, I am concerned that I will not be able to properly "butch up" my son in a way that I think is proper. Fortunately, my son will have no fewer than six uncles, including a couple grizzled war veterans, some stellar athletes, at least one gung-ho outdoor sportsman, and all of them great, doting uncles so far. So little Isaac Leopoldo will be the manliest super-geek you ever did see!

I provide the following snapshot as evidence of overwhelming butchness on at least the part of my brother: his gun collection, posted with his permission (it's smaller than I remember it being, but living in Commiefornia for a couple years will do that to you):

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