May 30, 2015

Saturday Learning Series - Room 237

A subjective documentary that explores the numerous theories about the hidden meanings within 'Stanley Kubrick (I)' 's Kubrick''s film "The Shining". The film may be over 30 years old but it continues to inspire debate, speculation, and mystery. Five very different points of view are illuminated through voice over, film clips, animation and dramatic reenactments. Together they'll draw the audience into a new maze, one with endless detours and dead ends, many ways in, but no way out.

May 26, 2015

Eating our own is maybe okay

Conservatives in America, I have a mea culpa for you. Being outside of America, I must confess that I've experienced a baffling inability to understand why any conservative Americans would have any level of reservation about squishy, RINO Republicans in the Congressional House or the Senate. That is, until now. Recent events here in Canada have opened my eyes to dissatisfaction with those supposedly on one's own side of the political line. I've chided those who would stay home and not vote for the likes of John McCain and Mitt Romney, despite the misgivings they had about them (and I shared, I must admit).

Let me first establish the reason for my original thinking on this. In Canada, having spent decades under federal Liberal leadership with exceedingly liberal policies often bordering on socialism, conservatives had been starving for a seat at the table let alone any sort of victory. Decades of being excluded a la Obama's "I won" and Republican exclusion from 2009 until recently, will allow you to forgive those less conservative than yourself, if they at least expressed some level of dissatisfaction with the status quo. While it was easy to identify with the goals and concerns of the disparate Tea Party movement in the U.S., understanding their tactics often escaped me.

Why bash those who want to move in your direction if only less so, or less rapidly than yourself? They are a potential ally against the greater threat of progressivism/socialism. Why try to replace Susan Collins or Olympia Snowe in Maine when someone more conservative could very likely not win there? Surely a broken wrist is better than chopping the wrist off entirely.

What I was questioning was the spirit of compromise from necessity rather than the desire to move the country back towards it's spiritual roots of true liberty. The movement, in my estimation would take time and require these compromises but on a declining basis over time. Conservatism could breed conservatism, just as progressivism had bred progressivism over time.

In any case, my fault was not I believe in my thinking, but in my ability to misunderstand the nature of the frustration of many American conservatives and their desire to overcome these hurdles.

Two events recently in Canada have opened my eyes to the frustration of conservatives in America. Conservatives here have recently made strategic or tactical errors that have led me to the same frustration. I'm not sure yet if it has led me to the point of wanting to "throw the bums out", but it certainly has given me pause for thought.

Firstly, the federal Conservative Party is facing an election this year. Coming of their third consecutive government, but first majority government (having led the country since 2006), they have undertaken a number of populist positions in order to aid their re-election bid. Many of these positions have been strategically sound politically, though not necessarily conservative in nature. One position in particular has irked me considerably. Recently they created a new tax break targeted specifically at families. On the surface it's seemingly a wholesome conservative position. The tax break applies to families with children under 18 living at home. But there are a large number of people for whom the tax break reminds me of the government choosing winners and losers. Sound familiar in America? In my case I do not qualify for it. Sour grapes on my part? Certainly there is an element of that, I will not deny. But the argument I make still holds true, since there a vast number of empty-nesters or families without children, or singles for of people for whom the tax break does not apply.

In my view this is not really a conservative tax break, it's a targeted political and/or social engineering driven tax break. It's the government either trying to engineer more families and/or trying to win votes by targeting a sizable, but not universal constituency. That notion aside, the government is choosing winners (tax break recipients) and losers (all others). That's not cool, and it's not conservative. It's no different than the progressive liberal notion of progressive tax rates - the more you make, the higher the rate you pay. That's inherently biased much like mandated racial quotas in hiring practices - different in nature, but similar in intent and desired outcome. Social engineering AND/or political gain. I do not expect conservatives to be above aiming for political gain. I do not expect them to use liberal tactics to achieve their aims. And I certainly do not want them causing, intended or not, social change based on policy decisions. Let the people decide for themselves. that's bigger than democracy, it's liberty.

Secondly, and more colloquially, the provincial conservative party in my home province of Ontario, having been out of power for the better part of the last 50 years, once again was facing a leadership race. My member of provincial parliament, the leading candidate, lost her bid to a younger candidate, a member of the federal parliament. He seemed to be a weaker choice, and for the third time in a row, they've picked a candidate who cannot win the provincial election (at least it appear to be the case so far). Are conservatives in Ontario comfortable being perceived as a party with no interest in women as leaders? Does the level of experience of the leader not matter?

Rant over. My point is that in Canada we have been starved for conservatism for so long (at least as conservatives we had been), it had been easy to get the low hanging fruit and please all conservatives because any movement towards the right by the government was good news to us. Now that has been done, and the Conservative party needs to maintain it's governing role, it can no longer please all of its constituency and some are going to be displeased. I am among them.

Now I am in more of a position to say to American conservatives to suck it up and vote Republican despite your individual misgivings because it is far better than the socialist alternative that dwells within the Democratic party. The irony is that I am less inclined to say it now. I still believe it's the truth, and I will still live by it. Despite having written the Prime Minister about this very concern and suggesting that I may not be able to support him and his party in the coming election (having supported conservative politics since before I could even vote), I will still do so. Having voiced my displeasure directly (and indirectly via this blog), I've said my piece. I'm a team player and I'll suck it up for now and support the conservative team. But make no mistake, I will do my part to see that these sort of decisions are made with a more conservative, yet strategic-thinking impetus in the future.

May 24, 2015

Sunday verse

Then Peter came up and said to him, “Lord, how often will my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? As many as seven times?” Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you seven times, but seventy times seven.
~Matthew 18:21-22

May 23, 2015

Saturday Learning Series - The Edge of the Universe?

A thought experiment as much as anything else, since at that range, everything is hypothesis.

May 21, 2015

Thursday Hillary Bash - Kinda, but mostly GOP primaries

It takes a village idiot.
The Republican debates are approaching quickly and I for one am looking forward to them.  There's a pretty deep field, unlike the Democrats, where Hillary Clinton may end up having to debate herself. Trust me there are enough inconsistencies in her positions that she could probably pull that off (and the press would declare both sides the winner and a better choice than the GOP candidate). But let's set that discussion aside for another time. What's interesting in the GOP debates is that there are more candidates than there are slots available on a stage.  Choosing how to include/exclude participants is topic enough for its own debate.  That discussion has been vigorously taken up in several quarters already, so I'm not going to rehash the options and pros and cons here.

What I will suggest is that the importance of getting the field whittled down to a more manageable level is important for the GOP, as the needs to be anything but chaotic.  But it is also important to have the opportunity for vigorous debate and a substantive discovery process.  Whittling a field of 16 down to 7 or so, must be done in a way that ensures the right (best) 7 are the ones left standing. Having the process over too early only helps the Democrats' (i.e. Hillary's) chances of re-taking the White House in 2016.

And we really don't need that.

May 10, 2015

Sunday verse

Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.
~Romans 12:2

May 9, 2015

Saturday Learning Series - The Myth of Christian Dark Ages

Conventional 'wisdom' that the Dark Ages in Europe was the fault of Christianity. But the church was actually the institution that helped preserve the knowledge that was deteriorating as the result of the fall of the Western Roman Empire.

May 7, 2015

Thursday Hillary Bash - back before Congress

Via USA Today, Hillary Clinton will indeed testify before Congress.  You wanna bet she has a plan and that it serves her presidential aspirations to get this out of the way now?  Absent a smoking gun, this actually helps Hillary. She's going to get this over with, and she can then use the failed attacks during her presidential bid - "I'm clean.  They didn't find any dirt on me, and I even went back to give them another shot because I have truth on my side."  Yeccch.

May 6, 2015

Is anyone surprised Al Jazeera America might harbor anti-Americanism?

Apparently, yes.
Last week it was a $15 million wrongful termination lawsuit claiming a senior executive repeatedly expressed an anti-America, anti-Semitic and anti-woman bias plus the exits of the EVPs for Human Resources and Communications that hit the Qatar-backed news network. Today, another top executive headed for the door...

Mary McGinnis told staff in an email Monday that she has decided to resign because she could not “support the decisions or direction set forth by him (Shihabi) and the Al Jazeera Media Network would be welcome to leave.” The veteran CBS News employee joined AJAM as SVP of Newsgathering in July 2013 just before its August launch. McGinnis became SVP of Corporate Outreach for AJAM back in March.
Apparently yet again, we have anecdotal proof that CBS executives can be fooled. Is it okay to say we told you so when you decided to join the network?

I wonder what Al Gore thinks of all this at the network to which he sold his television empire? Actually, no I don't.

May 5, 2015

Water is leaving us behind

I was watching National Geographic channel yesterday.  I don't know why - ultimately every show on that channel seems to end up talking about man-made global warming.  There was a show on talking about the droughts of 2012-2013 being worse than the dust bowl of the 1930's.  Imagine that. It must have been all over the news as a national existential crisis right?  Did I miss that?

I'm no climate scientist, but isn't the earth a relatively closed system? If water evaporates it doesn't leave earth's gravitational pull. It doesn't magically teleport to Mars. It becomes water vapor. Ultimately, only so much of the planet's ice can become water and so much of the water can become vapor before the atmosphere is so humid that it has to rain. So-called man-made global warming is not costing us water.  Water does not leave the system.

Desert regions can change. Ice levels can rise and drop.  This is all normal change.  The opposite of climate change would be climate stagnation. I imagine that and picture fetid swamps and permanent deserts. No wind, no rain, no seasons.  That would be a natural disaster.


The hole in Christianity...is us

The Texas shooters included a convert to Islam that everyone should have seen coming, and it speaks volumes to the hole in Christianity, which is us. Not America, not the West, but Christians.
The attorney who once defended one of two men who opened fire at a “Draw Muhammad” event in Texas on Sunday says she was “shocked” to learn that he was involved in the attack.

According to Sitton, Simpson didn’t come from a Muslim family and didn’t convert to Islam until he was in high school. “He said he was running with a bad crowd in high school—smoking, drinking and stuff,” she said. “He said Islam got him away from that stuff.”
Have we become too insular and busy preaching to the choir to reach out where need to do so?  Have we abandon the cultural war for the souls of humanity?  It sure feels that way, at least in this case.  But I do believe this case is symptomatic of a broader problem.

What Elton Simpson says Islam did for him, Christianity should have done. The opportunity was there.  And subsequently, it would almost certainly not have led to Jihad.  A vulnerable youth - first with drugs, then with Jihad, could have been saved.  We should not have let that happen.

As an aside - a liberal judiciary did nothing to help the situation either. After a considerable amount of evidence, he was given probation, despite being flagged as a threat:
Judge Murguia—an Obama appointee on what is often considered to be the most left-leaning appeals court in the country—found that there was insufficient evidence that Simpson’s false statement to authorities involved international terrorism.

May 4, 2015

China leads in immigration now too

Reading the WSJ today, it appears that China has overtaken Mexico as the number one country for immigrants entering the United States as of 2013.  It's not as surprising as it would seem at first blush.  This is after all census data. Illegal immigrants are mostly not answering the census I'd wager.  so the numbers are skewed.  India it turns out appears to be ahead of Mexico in the immigration volume game as well.  Again, not a surprise.
For a decade, immigration from China and India, which boast the world’s largest populations, has been rising as increasing numbers move to the U.S. to study, work and unite with families already in the country.

Meanwhile, immigration from Mexico has been declining due to improvements in the Mexican economy and lower Mexican birthrates. More recently, the U.S. recession also reduced illegal immigration from Mexico.
The real interesting part of the equation to me is whether the shift is indicative of the labor forces needs in the U.S. Does the U.S. need immigration right now, given the fragile economy? Does it need a more educated immigrant population versus a labor intensive immigrant population (setting aside the implied prejudicial notion of Asian versus Mexican immigrant skill sets - the implied notion is not my intention here)? Assuming the economy does eventually roar back to life, will it be a manufacturing driven recovery? Does manufacturing still need manual labor or does it now need more engineers? And given the slide in Mexican immigration, is that shift part of the reason for declining Mexican immigration?

Another question - how is the illegal immigration situation evolving now? Is it waning, or just as strong as ever? Since it is illegal, who really has a handle on the scope of it?

Fundamentally, does the U.S. - a nation built on immigration - still need it? Or has it matured demographically past that point? Does it still have room to grow through immigration? And if so, how is that driven? In the past immigration was welcome, but while ethnicity was diverse, culturally the immigration was more homogeneous, at least with respect to Christian values. That has changed but to what degree? And if you say it still matters because it's been part of the DNA of the nation since birth, are you going to be called a racist?

Being a melting pot of cultures does not mean you allow the original flavor to disappear. It's still important. If enough Muslim immigrants came to America and wanted to make Sharia law the law of the land, and did so, would it still be America at that point? No, it wouldn't. So it matters. At least I believe it does.

May 3, 2015

Sunday verse

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.
~Phillipians 4:8
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