Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Shared Wiring

So, I know I haven't blogged in a while (and I don't really consider this a blog post), but I did want to share some interesting links from

1. Concept Art Offers Peek at Tim Burton’s Twisted Genius - New York’s Museum of Modern Art will be displaying a collection of 700 art pieces produced by Tim Burton from the past three decades. Also, I am really looking forward to Alice in Wonderland!

2. Review: New Super Mario Bros. Wii Is Nostalgic, Chaotic - a review of the upcoming throwback-to-classic 2D Super Mario Brothers for Wii...the review also includes snippets of game play. As NES Super Mario Bros. was my first video game, I am interested to see how this 2D game will fair in a 3D gaming world.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

SFW: Jesus Said Rock

It's time for another exciting installment of "Scenes From Waco!" This one comes to us from the Genie Car Wash and Fast Lube, where I took the infamous Little Red for an oil change the other day. Remember, my friends, that nothing does more to keep you car in tip-top shape and improve your gas milage than following your auto dealer's suggested maintenence schedule. As in the case of Little Red, this becomes even more important after about 203,000 miles.
The poster at left advertises a rollicking good time down at Common Grounds, wherein the faithful will gather to keep the 11th Commandment: ROCK. Fans of Spinal Tap will note that much like that group's mega-loud amps, in Waco our commandments go up to 11, that we mayst rock even harder for Our Savior. I don't really recall Jesus saying "rock," except in one horrendously misinterpreted little pun to Peter: "Upon this rock ("petros" in Greek) I will build my church." So are we to recall that Jesus Said Peter? That's got potential for hilarity for sure. But now that I think about it, Petros was really an affectionate nickname for the disciple called Simon, so maybe the point is that Jesus Said Simon? I thought the deal was Simon said things, not that people said Simon. Maybe that's why I never got that game, because it's a very deep theological allegory.
I guess this post is really more questions than answers. Is it safe to assume that God does not want us to remember the Black Sabbath, and keep it holy? What are the Son of Man's thoughts on Marilyn Manson? Is the carpenter from Galilee partial to The Carpenters? As a fellow member of the Tribe, does Christ keep Gene Simmons and KISS on the Ever Blessed iPod? Did Jesus have a certain genre in mind when he told us to Rock? I know this doesn't make the cut, but are we talking classic rock, or do folk rock and alt country count? These are but a few of His Holy Mysteries.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

It's Kelo-ver: Pfizer Leaves New London

After battling the eminent domain case Kelo v. New London all the way to the Supreme Court, and the court ruling in favor of the City of New London (5-4), Pfizer announced today that they are closing their R&D facility in New London, CT. Ouch. Although I am not a lawyer or law student, I did follow this case closely back in 2005, and hearing this final outcome of the situation reignited the arguments for me...I can understand the City's side of wanting control of private, blighted areas to redevelop for the benefit of the city, but I also have serious reservations about the Supreme Court's decision and the moral infringement on the 5th Amendment (also basic Free Market principles). The Pfizer announcement just seems like the ultimate slap in the face. So, I pose 2 questions for all those law focused readers:

1. Thoughts on the original Kelo decision by the Supreme Court? Effects on the 5th Amendment?

2. Because of the Kelo decision, revisions to state constitutions have been proposed (Proposition 11, recently voted on in Texas, passed and "will state in the Constitution that governments in Texas are prevented from seizing private property and giving it to a private developer to boost the tax base") - will this proposition, in turn, effectively protect private property and land owners in Texas?

Monday, November 9, 2009

Political Identity

I suppose that like the other human beings waltzing around this big blue marble, I'm constantly in search of an identity. Sure, most of us know who we are to some degree. But our nature requires that we define ourselves in terms of our models and examples. After all, there is nothing new under the sun.

So it comes as no real surprise that recent discussions of an Republican "identity crisis" have caused me to contemplate my own identity.  I know where I stand on certain issues, but where does that put me in the spectrum of my right-wing compatriots? Are we even compatriots any more?

Most voters articulate their views (even when those views aren't so articulate) in a few neat categories: social issues, economic issues, The Government, and foreign affairs. There's tons of overlap here, but the categories make it simpler to discuss in this format. On the almost every front, I'm a sure conservative. On economic issues, I think we need less taxes and less government spending if the private sector is ever going to really rebound. This ties right into The Government, which I think is too big, too driven by a Congress and Executive with solutions in search of problems, and too entrenched to change without major reform. On foreign affairs, I'd like us to walk softly and carry a big stick, but not be afraid to swing the bejezzus out of the stick when our interest, allies, or freedom are at stake.

Its on the "social issues" where I run afoul of many other Republicans, especially in Texas. It's not a question of stance--I don't like abortion, and I think it should be illegal. I think "marriage" means a man and a woman, and I think the death penalty is appropriate in limited circumstances. Heck, I even think the Bible's got lessons for everyone and the world would be a better place if we all learned and lived by them. But the problem's in presentation and priority. I don't think my views MUST be everyone else's, and that all those who disagree are apostates. I don't think that the Defense of Marriage Act is a national priority, or that gay marriage is going to morally bankrupt the Union. And as vile as abortion is, I don't think it's the first question someone should ask a political candidate for, say, city council. I believe what I believe, and I'd like the government to stay the hell out of it, thank you very much.

Thankfully, my views put me in good company. Reagan and Goldwater, for instance. And my former congressman, Dick Armey (Diana's  posted a great NYT profile of Armey on facebook). And not insignificantly, the majority of the American population. Especially during these economically turbulent times, the tough fiscal questions are at the forefront and most people fall to center-right. And perhaps surprisingly, most of the Tea Party crowd. But unfortunately every time a Terry Schivo-type issue comes up, the DeLay and Palin Republicans feel the need to run out and prove their righteousness. Well I'd rather be right than righteous--they're usually the same thing.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

The Rs Win! (And Hopefully Learn Some Lessons for 2010)

A brief respite from finals to reflect: It's a good day to be a Republican. We've just swept in Virginia (including the Governor's post), and elected a Republican replacement for noted gun hater Gov. John Corzine in New Jersey. But we've also got egg on our face from losing the stalwart NY23 seat to the Dems. Failure is always an opportunity in disguise, so lets look at the lessons to be learned from this situation. (photo jacked from Politico)

As Orin Kerr noted over at The Volokh Conspiracy, there are four clear lessons (I've put my own twist to some of these): 1) The conservative movement is alive and well. 2) American's want old-fashioned economic conservatives, and are much more accepting of social moderates than certain pundits would like you to believe. 3) 2010 could be disastrous for Obama, even though  there hasn't been a fundamental sea change in opinion since he was elected. 4) Radical right-wingers do not have large scale support.

Obviously the winners in New Jersey and Virginia had to be more moderate and right-of-center than their counterparts elsewhere (ahem, Texas), or they never would have stood a chance. But the real fireworks were in NY23. The Republican nominee there was forced out by a "Conservative Party" candidate who garnered support from the likes of Palin and Glenn Beck. Folks on the far right crowed when the pro-choice, pro-gay rights nominee Scozzafava suspended her campaign last week. But what are they to say now that their candidate has been defeated? I've thought for a while that the fight up there was local at heart--it was a special election, and the moderate party establishment nominated Scozzafava, she wasn't swept in by popular vote. So there was probably some resentment unrelated to her more left-leaning positions. And it's been generally acknowledged that Republicans only held that seat because we've been willing to elect moderates that the area independents could support. Case in point, last night's election. The "Conservative Party" nominee Hoffman won 45.2% of the vote, the Democrat 49.3%, and Scozzafava 5.5%. Isn't it pretty clear that without Hoffman in the race, the Republican would have won? And that's not even counting the independents who voted Democrat, but would liked to have voted for Scozzafava?

This was supposed to be the far right's big hurrah--Palin, Beck, Perry, and all those guys came out in support of Hoffman, and advocated a "purification" of the Republican Party. To win, they said, we've got to be even more conservative than we were before, and stick to our guns. Guys like Newt, however, said they opposite. Remember that Newt was one of the principle architects of our takeover in '94. He said that we've got to stop pushing people out of the  big tent, and start figuring out how to work together inside it. As Mark Davis recently said while sitting in for Rush, isn't a 60%  R better than a D?

The sad part is, I can't expect that we'll learn this lesson. The talk show guys will chalk the wins in New Jersey and Virginia up to anti-Obama backlash, and call the loss in NY23 a narrow miss. The Obama win in 2008 and the developments of 2009 probably won't be writing on the wall enough to forestall disappointment in 2010. If we want to win, we have to stop giving creedence only to the loudest and most acerbic voices in the party. We have to realize that maybe you can get away with purging the RINOs on a small scale, in safely conservative areas. But we can't keep attacking our own on a nationwide scale, especially in Dem territory like New York.