Tuesday, August 30, 2005

dems' tricks not working

A few weeks back I had a bit to say about the Democratic Party's clumsy attempts to appeal to religious voters (see here). Well, surprise, it hasn't worked. In fact, it seems to be having the wrong effect for them--which of course means the rest of America can rejoice and hope they keep trodding down the same path.

This article has some results from a study showing that only 29% of voters believe the Democraps are friendly toward religion, down from 40% a year ago. It seems that Mr. Average American is catching on to the left's "numerous efforts to strengthen its standing with religious voters." And despite their top dogs getting cozy with so-called religious leaders--hey, Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton are reverends so we must use such terms lightly these days--and despite their pow-wow in spiritual haven Berkeley to straighten things out, they're unable to hide their utter abhorrence to anything religious. Sorry guys, the truth's out and it's been out for a long time. No wishy-washy surface cleaning is going to fix your image. As clueless as the general American populace is, they can at least see past your smoke and mirrors.

But wait right there...that 29% may look low but it also implies that over a quarter of those surveyed think the Dems are favorable toward religion. Excuse me?! What are those fools smoking? Or have they just been asleep for the last 40 years? Anyone who knows anything about the stances those faith-friendly Democraps have taken on issues like abortion to religious rights to education knows they couldn't care less for traditional values. Or if that's not enough just look at their leaders. Ted Kennedy? Howard Dean? Hillary Clinton? Uh, yeah, that sure sounds to me like a party in touch with its spiritual side. And yet almost three in 10 of you believe this party of clowns is somehow friendly to religious America. Get real people! This kind of crap tempts me to just bury my head in the sand and wait for the inevitable demise of our culture...oh, that's already happening.

Perhaps the best part of the article, though, is a Democratic spokeswoman's attempt to explain the problem: "we need to do a better job of talking about our values in a way that people see we share their values." Of course! That's it--just show 'em your values! But you see, that approach only works if you have values. And as I said in the earlier post, new age pseudo-values like world peace and feel-good "morals" don't work. Religious people--and that's more Americans than the lefties want to think--see that for the meaningless rhetoric it is. I'm convinced that people who actually believe in that bunk are already on the Dems' side. Problem for them is, there's so few such people and so many of the more traditional folks.

So keep on doing exactly what you're doing, Democraps. And I'll keep applauding your efforts as you slide further into mediocrity.

Sunday, August 28, 2005

perfect coaster weather

Figured I'd add a bit here about how great the weather was at Sux Flags yesterday. No, I don't mean warm and sunny, I mean a bit chilly and drizzling. That's the kind of stuff that drives casual coaster riders out of the park but doesn't shut down any rides. In other words, it shortens lines--at Sux Flags that's huge--and ensures anyone who's riding is at least somewhat of a coaster fan to be riding in such weather. Any coaster freak knows that bad weather is always preferable to bad crowds.

Case in point: we showed up at the park yesterday evening around 6 pm (yea for season passes!), didn't meander back to S:ROS for another hour or so, and still rode at least 15 times. We even got a few rounds of firedrilling in. Let me repeat that for emphasis: we got next-train rerides on a hypercoaster. Is that happening in "pleasant" weather? Heck no. That's why you need the conditions to help you out. And help us they did.

I ought to add here that for perhaps the first time ever at a Sux Flags park I was impressed with the way the rides were operated. The teacups were spinning something furious, most of the coasters were running all trains, and the ride ops even showed some enthusiasm every now and then. Yes, all of these really did occur at Sux Flags--promise. (Okay, Chaos was down for the count, but the golden S:ROS setup kept us from caring much.) And they're getting new upper management soon I hope. Maybe, just maybe, I'll have to start calling them Six Flags again.

another reminder we're being overrun by idiots

Time for another rant...driving home tonight (or last night, whatever) reminded me of the large number of oblivions on the roads 'round these parts. People either don't know some of the basics of driving etiquette or have fogotten them in their old age. Or they're too important to pay attention to the rest of us. Or they're unaware we share their world with them. Or maybe they just plain suck. But one thing's for sure, and that is my life is more stressful and irritating thanks to them.

For one, it seems that almost every driver uses his high beams all the freakin' time at night, apparently unaware or unconcerned of how much of a nuisance he is. Geez people, isn't one of the first rules of nighttime driving to always use low beams when on a busy road or approaching an oncoming vehicle? I haven't been driving as many decades as some out there but even I know this simple courtesy. So which is it, folks? Are you just unaware that other drivers exist? Or are you just too stupid to turn your lights down? Oh, you can't see well enough to drive without blinding everyone around you? Then you probably can't see well enough to avoid being a hazard to us either so just stay off the road. Just trying to be safe? Well it ain't all that safe to blind everyone else ya know. Losers.

Another problem, one I've been tired of dealing with for years, is the abundance of left lane vigilantes on every major highway I've ever been on. You know 'em, the fools that insist on staying in the left lane--the passing lane--regardless of speed or traffic. They cause logjams on busy roads, they vary their speed wildly and unpredictably, and they cause other drivers to resort to desperate tactics to get around them. The rule be simple, kids: If ya ain't passin' or turnin' left then stay to the right. Now is that so hard? Yet it seems beyond the comprehension of such drivers. Again, if I know this or have figured it out by now then most drivers out there are without excuse. But I guess they're just too dumb or too important to have much use for such common sense practices.

I must admit though, these left laners can be worth a laugh sometimes. Every now and then I'll get over to the right and start to blow by one when he suddenly speeds up and stays ahead of me. It's as if he thinks he's in a race and about to lose a spot, or maybe my trying to pass snaps him out of his oblivion trance and he realizes how slow he's going. This always brings a smile to my face. Not only is it rather odd and amusing, but sometimes the driver will keep his foot on his newly discovered gas pedal for a while and so Jesse has to dodge one less obstacle.

There's plenty more here to work with. Cell phone users are certainly on the list, although I haven't had to deal with one today. Wait, yeah I did, near RFK in D.C.--but every single driver in the District sucks so I just expect that sort of BS nonstop whenever I enter that layer of hell. And the ever-present tourist earns a spot too. How boring would the roads be without these gawkers slowing to half speed for every street sign or landmark? And of course there are the hot rod punks, who own the distinction of being annoying, pathetic, and funny all at once. But for now let's leave the list at that so I'll have some fodder for slow news weeks.

You know, there's a saying that goes something like, 95% of the people we run across are decent folk but the other 5% ruin it for all of us. But when it comes to driving the percentages are reversed.

Thursday, August 25, 2005

vegas, baby!

Gosh darn...should go to sleep but now I'm too busy blogging. Aw well, there's always work to catch up on some Z's. I must say I'm getting damn good at that sleep with your eyes open thing. Er, did I just say that? If you work where I work, disregard that last bit. Getting late ya know.

Anyway, got invited by a coworker to head out west and do some hiking and sightseeing in early October. Of course it didn't take much convincing to get me in on the trip, and so that's where I'll be come another month or so. I've been needing to get out to those national parks so this should be a great vacation. And topping it off with a weekend in Las Vegas...awww yeah.

Now I've heard mixed reviews of Vegas from Christians I know. Some say it's a really cool place with plenty to do outside the stuff with which it earns its "Sin City" tag, and that it's even a pleasant place to be. Cheap food, cheap drinks, cheap rooms, and lots of pretty lights. Hey, sounds like my kind of weekend hangout (although weekends cancel the cheap rooms part). Then there are those other Christians, also reliable sources, who say Vegas is probably the closest thing to Hell we'll experience here in the states. There's debauchery at every turn, the streets get chaotic and noisy, and there's really no way to escape the sin that permeates every cubic inch of the place. So...which will it be for yours truly?

Given my tendency to shy away from fundamentalism and my general tolerance of worldly fare (sometimes to a fault, admittedly) I'd put myself in the first crowd. Yeah, it'll have its bad parts, but overall I expect it to be some new kind of awesome. It'll be a taste of the party atmosphere I was never part of, and in some ways that's great. I trust myself to handle that end of it okay given I don't put myself in any extraordinarily dumb situations or get too tanked up to think straight. And I'll be there with old friends so just the experience itself will be enjoyable.

But I need to get some ideas for cool stuff to do out there. And since you're reading this, that's where you come in. I'm especially in need of suggestions on where to sleep on the strip or how to work the hotels for some sweet deals. We'd love to stay in one of those ritzy places and would pay a bit more for it if we could find a way to get the price a little closer to our range. And other ideas are of course welcome. Good casinos, good games, good times to do good activities, etc. And the reverse of those too. So speak up!


Okay, people are getting on me for not keeping this thing up. Never thought I'd have that problem. But it is about time I posted something, and the whitewater rafting trip I went on last weekend is a prime candidate for topic of the night.

Five of us from my church went rafting on the New River in West Virginia...well worth the trip. I think we were in the central part of the state but that's just a guess; I never looked at a map on the trip and still haven't. The mountains were much more awe-inspiring than I expected, and right in the heart of coal mining country too. Back in the early part of last century when the mines were going there were towns up and down the river, so there's still ruins here and there. And the lodge had a wall of old pictures from the early mining days so the before and after comparison was neat. Kinda weird, the way that went down...a town would spring up from nowhere and be bustling with railroads and gangsters and lots of money and all for a few years, then as soon as the coal was gone the settlers would take what they could further into the mountains and leave the rest to become a ghost town. Similar to the old west gold rush towns I guess. There's still lots of coal mining there but it's all inland so you don't see it. The high density of railroads struck me though; much more track than I would have imagined for mountains and clear evidence of mining activity.

As for the river, it's similar to the Arkansas ones I've been on in that it's mostly slow with rapids scattered every so often, except that the rapids are about 237,492,190 times more intense and can kill you if you fall in. Some of the drops are 10 feet or more, which results in a feeling quite like going over the edge of a small waterfall except you can't see it coming. (I've never gone over the edge of a waterfall but I suspect if I ever do the sensation will be similar to rafting in Class IV or V rapids.) Clearly the stuff rafts and kayaks were made for. And the locals think so too. Rafting is big business out there, with around 20 companies doing their thing on the same 20-30 mile stretch of river. In fact, the whole day we were never out of sight of other rafting parties. Probably much like a busy day on the Buffalo, only not so cramped--rafts were never right on top of each other.

One thing that stood out to me was the absence of canoes on the river. I guess this should have been obvious since canoes and whitewater generally don't get along well, but every other time I've been out on the water I've been in a canoe or with canoes so it was a different experience in that regard. But there are plenty of good reasons for canoeists to stay off the water. I suppose a soloist in a whitewater canoe might take it but there's no way two people could paddle it in a river canoe and live to tell the story. At least not with their canoes and bones intact at the end. Of all the people we saw, most were rafters and a handful were in the tiny whitewater kayaks (which looked AWESOME by the way) but no brave souls dared tempt the river gods in canoes. So the fact that all of zero people were in canoes probably says a thing or two about their feasibility on the water. For one thing a canoe is hard and not attached to you so it becomes a deadly weapon if you fall out in rapids. And it's also made to go straight, not pull tight turns on short notice. Not the kind of thing you want to be floating in or doing battle with in whitewater rapids.

As a side note, the major risk in big-time rapids isn't drowning because you'll either be sent speeding down the river in short order or get caught against an undercutting rock, in which case the force of the water will crush you long before you'd run out of breath. Cool, eh? (I suppose there are other possible methods of death, but none with quite the same ring as thousands of pounds of water snuffing the life out of you while you lay helplessly pinned to a rock.) And that of course makes whitewater kayaking a rather deadly sport compared to others. But no worries, methinks the threat of imminent death with the wrong moves would just add to the thrill. And I suspect most of the victims are fools who don't know the lay of the river nor possess much skill at the sport, and so they are actually doing the world a favor by voluntarily removing their stupid genes from the pool.

Anyway, as I said the trip was awesome. Started off a little slow, with a handful of I's and II's to give us some practice before lunch. Lunch was awesome, with deli style stuff and a wide selection as opposed to the normal generic packed lunches one would expect on such a trip. Our guide was right; the rafting company sets itself apart from the others with the quality of food it provides on its trips. But overall I was getting used to things a bit too much before the break.

But afterwards things quickly picked up. As I remember it, most of the good stuff was III and up, with plenty of IV's and V's. And to top it all off, we even got to watch a "slaying" of tens of soloists in "duckies"--inflatable kayaks that seemed all but impossible to maintain control of in rapids. Hilarious stuff, plenty of spectacular spills for us to take in. The view gradually got better too. Don't get me wrong, it was great the whole time, but as we got further on the second leg we started seeing cliffs and better rock formations and such. And finishing the trip off by going under some cool bridges near the end was pretty sweet too.

So, overall a great trip. The river was high but still rough and the rafting outfitter we went with is highly recommended. If there is one thing I would change I would include a bit more of the danger element. Sure, it was dangerous to some extent, but I never felt out of control, like I was heading into the drink or the raft was going to flip. And I really wanted that. Heck, I even kinda wanted to get tossed out just to see what it's like. Oh well, maybe the next rafting excursion will satisfy some of those wishes. But still, an amazing trip and hopefully something I'll be doing much more of in the future.

Thursday, August 18, 2005

celebrity muck

Saw this while collecting the link for the last post and while I don't usually bother paying attention to celebrity crap I'll throw something up here on this latest circus act. I mean, isn't this the dude that got caught with the nanny? I could be wrong but I think he's the guy. And now he and the fiancee are back together already? What a freakin' joke. For those of you wondering what the bleep is going on here, let me tell you what she's thinking. "Well, let's see...he's unfaithful, he's already been divorced, he's full of himself, but...he does have lots of money!" Or something along those lines. In some circles ye only gots t'be rich.

racial profiling quiz

Been hearing lots about the quiz lately but hadn't seen a copy of it until today. So thanks to Mike Straka over at Fox News for the reference in his Grrr! column--that's a must-read, by the way--and thanks to the Federalist Patriot for the original. Without further ado...I present to you the Racial Profiling Quiz:
To ensure we Americans never offend anyone, particularly fanatics intent on killing us, airport screeners will not be allowed to profile people. They will continue random searches of 80-year-old women, little kids, airline pilots with proper identification, Secret Service agents who are members of the president's security detail, 85-year-old congressmen with metal hips, and Medal Of Honor-winning former governors. Let's pause a moment and take the following test:

In 1972 at the Munich Olympics, athletes were kidnapped and massacred by:
(a)Olga Corbutt
(b)Sitting Bull
(c)Arnold Schwarzenegger
(d)Muslim male extremists mostly between the ages of 17 and 40

In 1979, the U.S. embassy in Iran was taken over by:
(a)Lost Norwegians
(c)A tour bus full of 80-year-old women
(d)Muslim male extremists mostly between the ages of 17 and 40

During the 1980s a number of Americans were kidnapped in Lebanon by:
(a)John Dillinger
(b)The King of Sweden
(c)The Boy Scouts
(d)Muslim male extremists mostly between the ages of 17 and 40

In 1983, the U.S. Marine barracks in Beirut was blown up by:
(a)A pizza delivery boy
(b)Pee Wee Herman
(c)Geraldo Rivera making up for a slow news day
(d)Muslim male extremists mostly between the ages of 17 and 40

In 1985 the cruise ship Achille Lauro was hijacked, and a 70-year-old American passenger was murdered and thrown overboard by:
(a)The Smurfs
(b)Davy Jones
(c)The Little Mermaid
(d)Muslim male extremists mostly between the ages of 17 and 40

In 1985 TWA flight 847 was hijacked at Athens, and a U.S. Navy diver was murdered by:
(a)Captain Kid
(b)Charles Lindbergh
(c)Mother Teresa
(d)Muslim male extremists mostly between the ages of 17 and 40

In 1988, Pan Am Flight 103 was bombed by:
(a)Scooby Doo
(b)The Tooth Fairy
(c)Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid
(d)Muslim male extremists mostly between the ages of 17 and 40

In 1993 the World Trade Center was bombed the first time by:
(a)Richard Simmons
(b)Grandma Moses
(c)Michael Jordan
(d)Muslim male extremists mostly between the ages of 17 and 40

In 1998, the U.S. Embassies in Kenya and Tanzania were bombed by:
(a)Mr. Rogers
(b)Hillary, to distract attention from Wild Bill's women problems
(c)The World Wrestling Federation to promote "Mustapha the Merciless"
(d)Muslim male extremists mostly between the ages of 17 and 40

On 9/11/01, four airliners were hijacked and destroyed and thousands of people were killed by:
(a)Bugs Bunny, Wile E. Coyote, Daffy Duck, and Elmer Fudd
(b)The Supreme Court of Florida
(c)Mr. Bean
(d)Muslim male extremists mostly between the ages of 17 and 40

In 2002 the United States fought a war in Afghanistan against:
(b)The Lutheran Church
(c)The NFL
(d)Muslim male extremists mostly between the ages of 17 and 40

In 2002 reporter Daniel Pearl was kidnapped and murdered by:
(a)Bonnie and Clyde
(b)Captain Kangaroo
(c)Billy Graham
(d)Muslim male extremists mostly between the ages of 17 and 40

Anyone for racial profiling?
Well now, I'd say that get's the point across. What's the first rule of battle? Something like, know your enemy? Yet what a shame the obvious truth will be lost to so many knee-jerk liberals out there. Argh!

Monday, August 15, 2005

more roberts: so far, so good

This piece from the Commie News Network shows that the guy seems to be consistent on his defense of the Constitution. He's on the right side (i.e., he favors the restraint of federal power) of school prayer and gender equity. And his heavy focus on legal and constitutional aspects over pragmatism is especially promising. Not to mention a willingness to kick dirt on Republicrats who need it--what's not to like about that?

Even though the guy's unproven and could turn out to be a clone of Souter I find myself liking him more and more. He seems to have that very rare combination that's all but extinct in today's judiciary. Not only does he know and understand the Constitution, but he actually respects it as the law of the land. He's no Thomas or Scalia, but he at least seems to be a reliable voice for constitutional authority.

Sunday, August 14, 2005

overview of the church and reformed doctrine

Just ran across this good summary of reformed thought at another one of those kinds of sites I seem to be developing a bad habit of checking into. It's pretty much right in line with what I believe, just put in much better and much more concise terms than anything I could ever write up. So there you have it...my personal theology as explained by someone else.

Saturday, August 13, 2005

vox: shedding more light where it's needed

In recent months I haven't been very diligent in keeping up with Vox Day's articles. But judging from this one I need to start. Another great article...man, it sure is nice to have a columnist out there who's not only intelligent but unafraid to state the obvious and not hold back. Some quotes stood out to me...
When women began to enter the work force en masse in the latter half of the 20th century, the overall supply of labor increased, obviously. As per the iron law of supply and demand, over the last 60 years, this increase in supply has somewhat outstripped the growth in the economy and the attendant demand for labor, which is why real wages are still lower in 2005 than in 1973. Combined with the ever-increasing tax burden, this decline in real wages is why both husband and wife must now work when previously the husband's labor alone would have sufficed.
That's just obvious. Basic supply and demand says that an increase in the number of available workers implies a decrease in the wages paid to those workers. Holds for women entering the work force then, holds for uncontrolled immigration and cheap overseas labor today. So of course wages went down when the influx of women into the working world greatly increased the available labor supply. Duh...yet so many people will never understand or will refuse to admit this.
The women of America would do well to consider whether their much-cherished gains of the right to vote, work, murder and freely fornicate are worth destroying marriage, children, civilized Western society and little girls. They can at least console themselves with the thought that, in the long run, it doesn't matter what they do, because the women's-rights ideology is an evolutionary dead end, and it is increasingly apparent that societies embracing it will not survive.

In the end, it's not that hard to understand. A little girl who is not born will never vote, work or raise a little girl of her own.
Yup, it really is that simple. Methinks this is obvious and the problem is that people in general, both men and women, are too attached to the supposed freedom and liberation of the culture of death to do what they know (on some level) is best for them. It's much the same as us often refusing to acknowledge sin in our own lives and turn from the immoral behavior we love so much, just on a much greater scale. Scripture clearly states that if we continue in our own wicked ways we will die. Likewise for a society.

Preach on, brother Vox.

"Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death." James 1:15

Thursday, August 11, 2005

this majority-minority thing

Can't let this one pass...Bryan Preston has some great comments about the new majority-minority thing. In other words, there are more non-whites than whites in Texas. This in itself isn't a bad thing, but the situation in Texas and other border states certainly is. Mr. Preston sums it up nicely:
The problem with this as I see it isn't necessarily the numbers of immigrants, it is the quality. Immigrants should respect our laws, respect our culture and adopt our values. Otherwise, if they have no interest in doing these things, they should not emigrate. They should stay where they were born. Adopting our values and way of life should be part of the deal that allows them to come here.
Very well put. It's not the sheer multitude of immigrants that matters so much but the type and attitudes of those coming in. When someone comes to America they should strive to be American and make a positive contribution to the society they desire to join--period. There's no middle ground here. If someone doesn't want to be American they shouldn't move to America. Is that so hard to understand? If one group wants to force its way of life upon another by sending it over with their countrymen, we call that invasion, not immigration. Hence the well-chosen title of Malkin's first book.

Case in point: It has been pointed out that during the Irish Potato Famine days of early last century many Irish immigrants came to the states. So many, in fact, that the number of incoming Irish as a percentage of the U.S. population was much higher than it is with hispanics today. But there's a huge difference in the "quality" aspect. The Irish arrived with next to nothing and had to assimilate just to survive. And assimilate they did. Granted there wasn't the language barrier we see today and the Irish who made it here had a very strong work ethic, but the point is that they tried to become Americans while still retaining some parts of their own culture. In other words they actually contributed to the "melting pot" instead of staying out altogether.

Modern-day hispanic illegals, however, have proven themselves to have no desire to become any more American than is necessary to get American jobs and send American money home. After all, they're breaking the law just by living here so they clearly don't see a need to adhere to our rules and they'd get deported if they did. So the problem is that we're seeing an entire subculture that bears very little resemblance to our America being created among a huge chunk of the population. Unlike the Irish of yesteryear, these new immigrants do not have a healthy respect for American heritage and laws. Thus they are not contributing to the culture but staying separate from it and even hurting it.

Can any country continue to be a country for long with this kind of division? Can any country hope to patch together so many cultures different from its own and expect to thrive? Hasn't worked in the past, isn't working now, won't work in the future. This isn't rocket science, folks.

news flash--dems discover moral values

Well, probably not. But at least they're trying. Actually they're really not even doing that methinks. The article is kinda laughable and refreshing at the same time--the longer Democraps plod on with reckless disregard for traditional values (not the touchy-feely stuff like world peace and moral relativism) the longer they'll continue to stink it up every election. And that's good for America.

By far the best part of the article, though, is this bit:
Last month, Democratic spiritual leaders gathered in Berkeley, Calif., ...
Ha! Meeting in Berkeley of all places to discuss the spiritual state of their party! The irony is almost too much. Further proof that truth really is funnier than fiction.

Saturday, August 06, 2005

the aftershocks of kelo

Or one of them, anyway. Check out this VD post about a New Jersey town seizing private land so it can collect...less taxes.
In a twist on this summer's Supreme Court decision allowing a Connecticut city to seize private land and turn it over to developers, a New Jersey appeals panel has OK'd the taking of property from developers to assure the area remains as open space.
Hmmn...so the gummint can only steal your land to use it for the public good, right? And nowadays they can give it to another private citizen or group who promises to net them more money. Okay, that's getting out of hand--but wait, there's more! Apparently "public good" includes just about anything other than what you want to do with your land. It seems the public is better served through higher-priced developments and open space. Can landowners win? No matter what people do with their property it will always have some so-called "better use" and thus landowners are caught in a lose-lose situation.

Face it, if the powers that be want your land they're gonna get it. To hell with laws, respect, property rights, or whatever else may stand in the way. That's what this is all about methinks. Vox is dead on when he says "...the courts - government agencies - are trying to make sure that a government can do whatever it wants whenever it wants, for whatever reason." Yup, and unfortunately there's not a lot Joe Blow is going to do about it. At least not in the short term...

Thursday, August 04, 2005

bush vs. fox

I haven't kept up well with Malkin's work on immigration lately but I was able to listen to her this morning on C-SPAN radio answering questions at a young conservatives' conference of some sort. Though she's generally not as impressive a speaker as she is a columnist and blogger* (I haven't read either of her books yet so I can't comment there) she's at least willing to say what needs to be said. And she certainly has a way of answering in terms we can all understand, if you catch my drift.

Anyway, one of her responses stuck with me. I don't remember what the question was, but in answering she posed the question of which president cares more about his people's well-being or something to that effect. Perhaps there was some discussion to be had there at one point but now it's a rhetorical question. Hence Malkin basically treated it as a given and didn't bother with a needless explanation. And that's where I come in!

While we may disagree with his tactics, there's no disputing that Vicente Fox is putting the interests of his own people first and foremost when it comes to illegal immigration. I mean, the money illegal immigrants send back across the border accounts for one fifth of the Mexican GDP.* That's second only to oil! Of course Vicente is going to try to protect that huge chunk of his country's economy if he's just out to better his people and determined to not let laws or honesty get in the way. And it's obvious that's what he's doing. Is he knowingly spitting on U.S. laws and border protection? Of course. Is he acting like a sleazy scoundrel on the international stage? Is he proving that he cares not what happens up here as long as that illegal cash flow keeps sending dollars in? Yes and yes. But, again, who can argue that he's not looking out for the best interests of Mexico?

Now let's take Dubya. He has made a consistent practice of rolling over and playing dead on immigration since taking office and I don't see him growing a spine on the issue anytime soon. He refuses to take the next-step measures necessary to really protect the border, such as stiffening illegal employment penalties, jacking up identification standards here in the states, or even adding military personnel to the border force. Despite the loss of jobs and lowering of wages due to the influx of an illegal and dirt-cheap labor force, and despite the ramifications being felt across society from crime to education to national security, Bush simply refuses to open his eyes or even acknowledge the problem. This is absurd. We have a Republican president and he won't do a damn thing to add some real punch to our border control?! What a shame. This could well be the single greatest crisis facing our country and Dubya is asleep at the wheel. To put it in blogosphere terms, Bush is in bad need of a thwacking with a clue-by-four.

Now, even accounting for Bush's willingness to take the war on terror to enemy soil, who has shown more concern for the protection of the social and economic well-being of his people? Fox or Bush? The answer should be obvious. So obvious in fact that if you're not convinced of Bush's greater negligence in these matters I'll take the blame myself for not presenting such overwhelming evidence well enough.

* This only holds for radio broadcasts. Now with TV...other factors come into play. Not that this detracts from her arguments, mind you.

** Or is it GNP--heck, I get those two confused all the time. But the point is still clear.

UPDATE: Speaking of the Immigration Blog, Chris Kelly tears up a lame Matthew Dowd NYT editorial defending illegal immigration as a temporary problem that will fade with time. Some quotes from the article speak for the stupidity of such a take.
...any long-term project to close off the United States-Mexico border may use up money that could be more useful elsewhere...
More useful than combating the biggest threat to our internal security and thus our country as a whole? Bullbleep. I'm not sure any amount of money or resources could truly do justice to the problem--and if there is some amount it's too high to be a factor at this point.
...legislators and government agencies should spend more time and resources addressing the problems of immigrants already here and our direct security needs, and much less time on prescriptive laws aimed at stemming illegal immigration from Mexico...
Whoa, let's read the key words again. "...more time and resources addressing...our direct security needs..." Oh, you mean such "direct security needs" as PREVENTING TERRORISTS AND CRIMINALS FROM WALKING FREELY ACROSS OUR %#$&ING BORDER?! WTF is wrong with this clown?!?! You know why we have problems with immigrants already here? Because we've failed for years to stop them from coming in, you damn fool. If a roof is leaking you don't deal with the inside until you've fixed the leak. If a boat is taking on water you plug the hole then start throwing water over. Which will waste more resources, fixing the cause or addressing the results of a continuing problem? And this guy is some sort of big name in the Republican party? That helps to explain why they seem to be following the Dems off the deep end.

The post title says it all: "Is the GOP leadership on your side?" Well, that's a good question Chris. Or was. I guess now it's obvious they aren't. I don't know whose side they are trying to be on but it sure ain't ours.

what is sin?

Went to a very good Bible study tonight--maybe the best in the many months I've been part of this group. An interesting question came up, the kind that you think you have an easy answer for only to realize upon digging that you really don't have much of anything. So...what is sin?

Ever since my early days at IBC I've gone with the "anything that causes separation from God" comeback. Hey, it's easy, to the point, and even a bit intellectual. But it's also a bit theological and "heady" and lends itself to deeper questions. Moreover, tonight's leader brought up a very good point: What's it all supposed to mean to an unbeliever? Such talk of God and separation means nothing to someone who doesn't believe the Lord exists and certainly doesn't see any reason to avoid some kind of fictitious (to them) "separation." He/She first needs a reason to care. And this is a fundamental question not only in theological terms but also as part of evangelism. I'm a big believer in the idea that someone cannot properly understand Christ and salvation until they understand their own condition and can at least see the hopelessness that results from their actions even if they don't really grasp it. (After all, there probably aren't many Christians who really, really understand this concept and I'm certainly not one of them.) So an inability to put the idea of sin in bite-size form is a hindrance to not only one's understanding of salvation and Biblical history but also to one's willingness and ability to confront others on the issue.

Another in the group made a good point that sin can be anything that isn't done out of love. After all, we each have at least a rudimentary understanding of love and the feelings it brings. This holds across all cultural boundaries. But the problem I see here is that people think of love in so many different ways. I doubt many see it as the godly, agape love spoken of in the Bible. And plenty of others--most, I suspect--see it as only a human feeling, putting it in easy-to-measure terms like pleasure, loyalty, commitment, etc. And while these are important they don't get to the core. At least not to the level that you can begin to relate sin and love and claim that the two are inherently separate. If you tell someone to think of sin and love in such a way when their concept of love doesn't even touch on Biblical tones, they're going to end up with a twisted idea of sin and by extension an incorrect or incomplete view of Christ's sacrifice. So you'd first have to define love and that's probably more difficult than the dilemma we started with. Although the group seemed to come to a consensus on this sin vs. love idea I'm not convinced.

So, while I think I have a good theological grasp of sin, I'm sorely deficient in the practical, common realm. I don't know what the answer is or if there's an ideal answer that covers all bases nicely, but it should at least give me something to think about for a while. Or actually I should just read the Bible more...that would help too...