Rick -- As a sincere believer in Jesus and an active member of a church, I thank you for your warm wishes.
I believe freedom of religion and expression are God-given (irrevocable) human rights, including the right to reject a belief in God and/or the right to go your own way. I do not fear or despise atheists. Some of the greatest minds have been atheists who have blessed mankind with their work. I've been told (but I haven't confirmed it) that Victor Frankl, who wrote of the most inspirational books of our time -- Man's Search for Meaning -- became an atheist late in his life. I also suspect a disproportionate number of scientists are atheists. I've seen military tombstones with the atom icon.
I know many people have problems with self-professed "Christians" for various reasons. I have real problems with some of them too. The challenge, as always, is to look at people as individuals and not as definitive examples of an entire class. Admittedly, this can be tough when groups at times seem to adopt a herd mentality (aka team mentality). But no group (religious, political, ethnic or otherwise)is immune to group-think. And illusions of moral superiority are not confined to the pious.
I try to practice the Golden Rule when I interact with people, and I appreciate it when others do too. For me, benevolent and respectful behavior trumps differences in belief and background. I'd rather live next door to someone who differed from me in faith, race, sexual orientation, politics etc. but who practiced the Golden Rule, than be neighbors with someone who outwardly looked similar to me in every respect but who treated others badly.Comment Posted By Doug King On 26.12.2009 @ 10:56
The world can't have its cake and eat it too.
Relocating heavy industry to 3rd world nations may improve the appearance of our backyards, but it's still taking a toll on the planet. It's also taking jobs (i.e., prosperity) away from needy Americans -- especially the lower class. (How many more people can McDonald's employ?) And since hungry, 3rd world nations are not nearly as squeamish about impacting the environment, the toll on the planet for relocating industry is arguably larger.
I think leaders of China and other developing nations understand this. They are not deluded by Western fantasies of restoring the earth to some pristine, paradisaical state. They'll be more than happy to accept hard cash in exchange for hollow promises. I suspect much of that cash will end up in personal bank accounts, but even if it doesn't I doubt few recipient nations have serious intentions of following through. They will simply follow Iran's example with regards to its nuclear weapons programs -- stall, obstruct verification, demand more money, promise whatever Westerners want to hear but ultimately do whatever they want anyway. (If I were a 3rd world leader, I would view the whole AGW premise as a crock promoted by the West intended to keep the rest of mankind from developing wealth.)
Western leaders are desperate for a world-wide green economy while 3rd world leaders are desperate for prosperity. Put the two together and we have: A. More manufacturing jobs move to the 3rd world. B. Poverty continues to rise in America. C. The ecological state of the world does not improve.Comment Posted By Doug King On 19.12.2009 @ 09:27
Right or wrong, the claims of AGW scientists have been polluted by political agendas. Scientists seeking the truth don't cherry pick or hide information. Politicians, snakeoil salesmen, and lawyers do that.
Factual debate is a healthy process for establishing the truth when controversy abounds. The scientific AGW establishment therefore needs to:
1. Publish all its fundamental data.Comment Posted By Doug King On 6.12.2009 @ 15:50
2. Publish its source code for analyzing the data.
3. Let skeptics and believers alike question, analyze, correct, and improve the conclusions.
4. Distance itself from politicians and political agendas.
Unlike others here, I cannot claim the honor of having served in the military. (I was seriously interested in ROTC when I enrolled in college in 1974 but I let my roommate talk me out of it.) So on this Thanksgiving eve, I wish thank patriotic veterans (especially Richard with whom I often disagree) for having defended our country. (I am also very proud of my son currently serving in the USMC.)
But I would like to add that I find the argument that only veterans should have a say about strategic military decisions just as fallacious as the argument that only those who actually pay income tax should have a say about how tax dollars are spent.Comment Posted By Doug King On 25.11.2009 @ 21:28
Another thought: if Americans love anything, it's fighting -- especially with each other. (Just look at political blogs for evidence.) Governments not accustomed to free speech look at all this in-fighting and perceive weakness. We often see ourselves that way too.
But when something big occurs like 9-11-01, we somehow set aside our differences and come together. And then God help those who dared attack us.Comment Posted By Doug King On 20.11.2009 @ 23:30
I don't have TV or cable, so I'm going to have to buy the DVD.
The "greatest generation" fought selflessly and ferociously and did so without threat of the Bomb. Political strings have always been attached to American military commands, but the prospects of nuclear war made political calculations (and the value of world opinion) far more prominent. I wonder if Vietnam and Korea would have turned out differently had there been no Hiroshima or Nagasaki, and no Soviet and Chinese nuclear missiles.
The Bomb has been a mixed blessing. It ended the war in Japan and brought peace (and ultimately freedom) to Europe. It allowed America to shrink its military while at the same time assuring protection to its allies (who also downsized their militaries and invested in industry). WW II was a slam-dunk win for America, but once our adversaries got the Bomb, America has had to be far more cautious in military conflicts. Russia and China have had to watch their step too. The Bomb is the ultimate equalizer (which is why Iran seeks one).
While Americans tend to think of Korea as a stalemate and Vietnam as a lost war, I do not blame those who fought there. Neither in Iraq or Afghanistan. I believe the punishment inflicted on the enemy in those conflicts has far exceeded our losses.
To summarize, I think much of the ambiguous results of recent American wars is due to unavoidable geo-political constraints. It's easy to blame politicians for unpleasant, complex problems. On balance, I think they've generally done the right thing. And I believe those who currently serve are as fine soldiers as we've ever had.
I look forward to the DVD. Hope I don't have to wait too long.Comment Posted By Doug King On 20.11.2009 @ 23:19
If unemployment indeed hits 12% as Rick suggests, that will spell "Doom" for the Democrat majority in Congress in 2010. That would be the silver lining in these economic storm clouds.
Rick says he's in favor of shrinking government but doesn't know how. My answer -- divided government. Give President Obama a Republican Congress, and maybe both institutions will be motivated to pay more attention to the American public than to their ideological bases. The prosperity we enjoyed in 1982-1988 and 1994-2000 occurred when different parties controlled the White House and Congress. The worst times occurred when one party controlled both institutions under Carter and Bush 2, and now Obama.
Divided government is the best answer. It may not shrink government, but it can slow the growth. To those who say divided government means little will be accomplished in DC, I say, "Sounds good to me."
Palin may indeed sound empty headed, but so did Reagan, for that matter. (Let's not forget how dismissive the Left was of Reagan.) Yet, look at what Reagan accomplished. I'd rather have a vacuous, 'do-nothing' President than a savvy, Harvard-grad who uses every national crisis as an opportunity to reward special interests with programs and create new entitlements which increase the deficit.
Having said that, right now I don't trust any one party to control both Congress and the White House. Our best hope is to unseat incumbents next year.Comment Posted By Doug King On 18.11.2009 @ 20:40
I agree it's best to refrain from pre-judging this case and waiting for all relevant facts to be known. But ultimately we are going to have to categorize this crime as either: terrorism, insanity, deliberate treason, hate crime, "ordinary" criminal behavior, or some combination thereof. How do we distinguish between these terms and their differences in motivation?Comment Posted By Doug King On 6.11.2009 @ 23:34
Richard -- thanks for answering my question. To a large extent I agree with you, except for universal health care (how's it going to be payed for?). But I agree education needs to be overhauled, and not just K-12. Something needs to be done to reign in the costs of higher education as well.
funnyman -- thanks for you brilliant insights. I'm sensing that Sharpton and Jackson have more in common in Rush and Beck than I ever realized. We have self-appointed spokesmen claiming to speak for groups whose members, as a rule, do not take them very seriously -- at least not all the time. But group outsiders think these spokemens speak for their communities. When they make inflammatory remarks, they get criticized by outsiders (sometimes in a way that offends the group), which leads to defensiveness and polarization. This is good business for the spokesmen but bad for individual members of the groups. Spokesmen have vested interest in division.Comment Posted By Doug King On 24.10.2009 @ 10:02
Sorry it takes me so long to respond, but I live on the West Coast and must wait until evenings to submit comments. If you see this, please consider responding to this question: How should America respond to growing competition from the global economy? If capitalism isn't the answer, what is?
Let me say that while I believe in free markets, I acknowledge unbridled capitalism is often brutally savage. Government has a legitimate role regulating markets to assure competition is fair and to intervene and prosecute when laws are broken. I am no more enamored of insurance companies or financial wizardry or short-term-profit-driven corporations than the next guy.
But as hard as capitalism is, I know of no other economic system that gives consumers the best choices or gives corporations incentives to improve. I see Wall Street as treacherous but necessary. I think the business world should be like the NBA whose players attain (through cutthroat competition) phenomenal levels of basketball talent. Rewards should be based on merit alone as determined in a free, competitive market. Government's job is to referee the players. But if the referees start scoring points themselves, whose going to referee the referees?
I'm not happy that our factories have all but disappeared, but what can we do about it? The last three Presidents (including Clinton) promoted NAFTA. Why? Because their experts and advisers decided it was the best thing to do for America, despite protests from ordinary folks. Were all those government officials who pushed NAFTA dumb, unpatriotic crooks? I hardly think so. I think the truth is much harder to swallow -- we are in a new economic age where the old rules don't apply. This age was ushered in when the Cold War ended and the Berlin Wall fell.
I'm not saying I like things as they are. I belong to a union and I've walked a picket line. I've worried about my job being outsourced as much as anyone. But I've concluded there is no such thing as job security anymore. We've got to stay competitive. Like you, I'm sure, I wish there was more emphasis on firing the bozos who run good companies to the ground. But I also recognize that unions are often part of the problem. And bailouts just reward bad behavior.
If increased competitiveness isn't the answer, what is?Comment Posted By Doug King On 22.10.2009 @ 22:27