Friday, May 26, 2017

Calls to investigate mosques to have a backlash against Christians, Jews?

In the wake of the murderous Manchester bombers, there are increasing calls for investigation of the religious activities of the plotters, and the teachings of the imams in various mosques they attended.  Compounding the angst is the fact that once again the bomber was on the radar of the authorities, but they "didn't do anything to stop them".

An article on WND.com today tells the tale of two Minnesota muslim men who were arrested recently with ammunition, rifles, "electronic bomb making materials", and a grenade in the trunk of their car, and the outrage that one of them has already been released.  The other is being held on federal weapons charges.  The gist of the article is that we should be asking them about their religious beliefs and the preaching they have been listening to at their mosque.  It also talks about the islamic enclaves that have formed in many places around the world (this location in Minnesota being one of them), and the fact that Sharia law is the defacto law in these areas, rather than the laws of the localities and countries that contain these enclaves.

Finally, I am reminded of the court battle a few years back where the Mayor of Houston, Texas was embroiled in a battle with several area pastors over a local gay-rights ordinance and the effort to repeal it.  The Mayor, Annise Parker, subpoenaed sermons and other materials from these pastors, allegedly to investigate any disparaging comments they may have made about homosexuals, gay marriage, or other topics the mayor didn't want them preaching about.  This act by the Mayor was roundly criticized on First Amendment grounds, and ultimately the courts rejected the Mayor's actions.

These kinds of things are testing the boundaries of the First Amendment, and I'm honestly troubled by the knee-jerk reactions of most of the comments I have seen toward increasing the reach and power of the security state even into religious matters.

So here is the question: if we are outraged by Annise Parker's actions, shouldn't we also be outraged by the calls to investigate imams, if we want to be consistent?  Isn't that the state trampling on the religious freedoms of the muslims? Aren't we all equal before the law?

And if the answer to this question is no - we're going to investigate the imams and mosques because one or two or some of their attendees killed a bunch of people while chanting an islamic text - then we have just given the state jurisdiction over the things that are said in any church or synagogue or temple in addition to the mosques in question.  And if the state doesn't like that fact that a particular religious assembly speaks out against gay marriage or school prayer or any other topic that society has deemed "wrong", then we're going to investigate you and possibly shut you down because you don't agree with "us".

And yes, I understand that this sort of thing could happen regardless of which side of the political spectrum the Mayor/Governor/Attorney General/etc. comes from.  Power is a seductress, and those who can stand up to the seduction are rarer and rarer.

So, in our haste to root out the evil among us, let's not give politicians the right to govern our religious speech at some (near) future time.  Because we all know what happens when politicians get involved in things like this, and it isn't pretty.

Monday, May 22, 2017

My Little Girl has Graduated

Yes, this is a proud parent post. 

We had my daughter's Senior Recital and Open House this weekend, and it was wonderful.  She is a terrific flute player, and it showed.  Here are a few pictures.

First up, just Lauren-


Next, with her friend Allison.  Who wrote the piece they played.  And is getting some notice from people who know about such things.  And who is going to Interlochen this summer to study composition.  And she just gave it to Lauren, and played it with her.  Yes, I'm bragging on her too, because she is all this and just as nice as can be.  I'm glad Lauren has friends like you, Allison!


And finally, Lauren's private teacher, Dr. Tess Miller.  We're very grateful to her and all the work she has done with Lauren - both musically and personally.  If you are looking for a flute instructor, you can't go wrong with Dr. Miller.





I have some video coming, and I'll post that when I can.

Lauren - you have become a very lovely young woman, and I love you dearly.   Can't wait to see what your life has in store for you.

Tuesday, April 04, 2017

The Nuclear Option? I'll believe it when I see it

Speculation is swirling in Washington as the nomination of Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court continues to make its way through the Senate.  Reports are now that there are 41 Senators committed to support a filibuster when the nomination comes to a vote.  These reports then blithely state that the Republicans will "invoke the Nuclear Option" in order to confirm Judge Gorsuch.  For those of you who went to public schools and thus never had a civics class, the Nuclear Option means that the Senate will change its rules to allow confirmation of a Supreme Court nominee via a simple majority (51 votes) rather than a three-fifths super-majority (60 votes).

The first thing we all need to realize is the Republicans, especially their leadership, have no courage at all.  They have proved this over and over during the 8 year reign of Barry the First, and even during the W administration when they didn't do anything they said they were going to do when they had control of both the legislative and executive branches.

So when I read these offhand remarks about Republicans invoking the Nuclear Option, I have to laugh, because they have never shown the least inclination to do anything that is hard, or will subject them to criticism.  And the criticism will be loud, long, and intense, starting with the vote they will have to take to change the rule in the first place.  Mitch McConnell has never shown the courage to face the outrage the press would put out when they find that this rule change is going to be brought to the floor.  He will pull the rule change, allow the confirmation vote to go forward and lose, and then shake his head sadly while lamenting the democrats intractability and unwillingness to cooperate on this very important nomination, and how sad it is that such a good man and eminently qualified judge will not be on the Supreme Court.  And once again a party and a philosophy that has lost over a thousand seats nationwide over the last decade will have won the political war, over the clear will of the people of this country.

Monday, April 03, 2017

Tigers Baseball 2017

Traditionally I have done a preview post on my favorite baseball team, the Detroit Tigers, as the regular season begins, so here is my attempt for this season. 

And honestly, I have no idea about this team. It's hardly changed from last years team that barely missed a wildcard slot and missed the playoffs for the second year in a row. 

There are aging veterans in key positions (Verlander, Cabrera, Victor Martinez, Kinsler) but there are younger players in others (JaCoby Jones, James McCann, Matthew Boyd, Daniel Norris), and who knows how they are going to perform?

So here it is: if they stay reasonably healthy and everyone plays to their norms (or expected norms in the case of the youngsters) they should be somewhere in the vicinity of 90 wins and contending for a playoff slot. Otherwise, it's a third year of watching the playoffs instead of playing in them. 

Saturday, April 01, 2017

Healthcare repeal failure

I sent this message to President Trump via the WhiteHouse.gov website, so I'm sure he'll get it :)
I didn't vote for you to get Obamacare Lite, I voted for Repeal
I have written before in this blog about the "Replace" part of the commonly referenced "Repeal and Replace", and the need for government to get out of the healthcare business and into the tort reform business - thus "Repeal" is as far as I really want them to go.  Let the insurance companies (or other entities for that matter) sort out how healthcare gets delivered and paid for.


I also have to say that Paul Ryan has to go as Speaker of the House.  He seems to have no spine, and seems to be working for someone other than the people of this country.  And now he's walking away from repeal in a snit, saying "we've got other priorities". 

I would like to know what other priorities are more important than avoiding the collapse of the healthcare system in this country, and the great heaping mountains of federal money (created out of thin air, of course) it will take for it to continue to operate between now and that downfall?  Mr. Ryan, and yes, you too Mr. President - this is just irresponsible.  We elected you to extricate the country from the financial morass created by Emperor Barry the First (and yes, W as well), not to just walk away at the first resistance you got! Get back to work!

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Why is local Sanctuary City "uncooperation" different than 2nd Amendment "uncooperation"

Attorney General Jeff Sessions yesterday intimated that federal funds were going to start being withheld from Cities and States that had passed "Sanctuary" legislation instructing their police and other local agencies not to cooperate with federal law enforcement efforts against illegal aliens within their jurisdictions.

There seems to be widespread approval of Session's action from the political right.

But I remember not so long ago that many on the political right were applauding the State and Local governments that were doing the same thing regarding the enforcement of federal laws concerning firearms, instructing their police and other local agencies not to cooperate with federal law enforcement efforts against gun ownership.

So, are we on the right now becoming that which we have so roundly criticized, because the guys we helped elect are now in power and doing it to those we have disagreement with?

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Neil Gorsuch and his "I'm just here to help the team" statements

Listening to some of the answers Neil Gorsuch was giving to the Senators during his confirmation hearings the last couple of days, I was reminded of a scene from "Bull Durham".  (Warning: R-Rated language)


Now, I understand that you have to say stuff like "Heller/Roe/whatever is the law of the land" so you can impress (or confound) the Senators questioning you without really saying anything they can blow you up with, and you get confirmed.  I do - I get it.

But here's my question:  at one time, Dred Scott was the law of the land, and if we applied this sort of legal logic, especially at the Supreme Court level, we would still be sending free blacks back to their southern masters.  Is that really what we want?

My point is that the legal doctrine of Stare Decisis only goes so far, and one of the jobs of the Supreme Court is to overturn bad precedent, rather than just slavishly sticking with it because that's the way we've always done it here.   That's just crazy.

So if Judge Gorsuch really believes in the "precedent uber alles" method of legal decision-making, then we have a problem here.

Monday, February 20, 2017

Know your enemy

An article by Gabriel Suarez, a man who grew up in Castro's Cuba. My only (minor) quibble is his use of the term "soft communism" to describe much of what we see today. My contention is that there is NO soft communism, only different faces and masks of the  core of evil that communism is. 


Wednesday, February 08, 2017

They can really stand there with a straight face and say this stuff?

Reading with some interest about the Senate debate over the Jeff Sessions nomination as Attorney General of the United States, and I came across this statement by Sen. Tim Kaine (D-VA), who we most recently saw standing alongside Hillary Rodham Clinton in her failed bid to prolong her political career:
"Any attorney general must be able to stand firm for the rule of law even against the powerful executive that nominated him or her. In this administration I believe that independence is even more necessary"
And I had to stop and look again.  Did he really say that?  After eight years of Eric Holder and Loretta Lynch not standing up to the extra-constitutional shenanigans of Barack Obama, Tim Kaine steps onto the floor of the Senate and has the gall to say this? And indeed, beyond those two not doing their jobs, if you felt this way Senator, where were you when Barack Obama was trampling on the constitutional rights of the citizens you purportedly represent?  Why weren't YOU holding that powerful executive accountable for his lawlessness?

There were no reports of Sen. Kaine's tongue bursting into flame after this utterance, so I guess God was in a merciful mood today.

Thankfully, Mr. Sessions was confirmed despite the complete lack of conscience shown by Mr. Kaine during the debate. 

Thursday, February 02, 2017

On a cold day in February, it's important to remember...

Pitchers and catchers report to Lakeland, FL on Feb. 14th!  Tigers Baseball begins anew!

Today it was 21 degrees here in my little corner of Michigan, with 25 MPH wind gusts.  I need facts like that to get me through this month, especially since my job keeps me outside all day.

Thinking of the greenest grass you ever saw, and the smell of popcorn and hot dogs and beer.  Of clean white home uniforms and the duller grey or blue of the away togs in the bright afternoon sun.  Brown or red dirt on the infield, white chalk foul lines and yellow foul poles presiding over the limits of the field, and the smack of baseballs leaping off of bats and settling into gloves.  It's all closer than you think, and the thought of it gets you through when the cold wind wants to strip the skin off your face.  Baseball's coming.  The trucks are already hauling the gear south.  In two weeks it will have already started.  You can get through two weeks, right?

I can't wait.

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

McDonalds wonders why sales are declining in U.S.

Reading an article in The Detroit News this morning about McDonalds wondering why its sales are still declining even after they started their all-day breakfast menu. So they are trying to think of other gimmicks to lure customers back to their stores. 

Well, I thought I might help out those execs a little, as it seems like they're missing something here. The bottom line from this side of the counter is this: your food isn't all that great, and certainly not worth the price you charge for it. 

Think about it. If you go and get a "Value Meal" you're going to spend $7 to $8 for it. I can go to my favorite Chinese buffet and get more and better food for not much more than that, and it usually includes ice cream or a couple of cookies. 

McD's - your niche is "fast, cheap, familiar". Your price point is $5.  Do what you have to do to stay in that range and see what happens. 

Thursday, September 15, 2016

To the Flint Pastor who interrupted Trump

You invited a Presidential candidate in the midst of a campaign to speak at your church and you expected a non-political speech?  Really?  

I bet you wouldn't have interrupted if it was Obama speaking at your church. Or Hillary. Or Shotgun Joe Biden. 

To all the "conservative" pundits...

I keep hearing you talking up Trump  and decrying Obamacare (you're right) saying we have to repeal it (so far so good). But in the next breath you say "and replace it". 

Now to an actual conservative like me there is a big unstated finish to that sentence that says "with another government healthcare program that we republicans made up."  And to any real conservative that would be anathema. 

How about this:  replace it with NOTHING. The problem with healthcare is too much government meddling and any new program from the government is another opportunity for waste, fraud, abuse, bureaucracy and mismanagement (in short, the VA) which is exactly what we don't need. 

If you want to talk tort reform and getting rid of frivolous lawsuits I'm all ears. If you want to talk about ways to get the government out of the way of creativity and innovation in this sector I'll join right in. But if you want Trumpcare or Republicare instead of Obamacare, you are no better than the cabal that brought that monstrous thing to us in the first place. 

Saturday, September 10, 2016

Second Shift means never having a normal life

I have been working a second shift job all summer (one reason why I haven't posted here at all), and I can truly say I have no life any more.  I leave at 3pm, don't get back until 2am, and I get up around 10am. Often there is no one here since everyone else's life is still on a day shift schedule and they are going to work or school or something.

It feels like my life is work, sleep, eat, repeat.  And sometimes cut the grass.