Precinct 333

Saturday, October 30, 2004

Farewell To A NASA Legend

Friday marked the last flight of NASA's KC-135 aircraft used to induce temporary weightlessness. Often referred to as "the vomit comet," the plane had been in service for nine years.

As a Texan who has spent the last seven years living near Ellington Field in Houston, where the plane has been based, I've seen this aircraft come and go a lot of times. It's a beauty to watch in flight -- though a bit disconcerting to have come in for a landing (at 500 feet) over your right shoulder from behind when you are on your way to the supermarket.

The Houston Chronicle provides an interesting note.
But test director John Yaniac proudly told those who attended a post-flight briefing that over the years, the plane's crew had cleaned up at least 285 gallons of vomit.

"It's been a pleasure flying on this aircraft," he said.

Yeah. I guess you aren't the guy with the hose, the bucket, or the mop.


Thursday, October 28, 2004

"Article Of Faith" -- A Liberal Term Of Derision

Dr. Francis J. Beckwith, Associate Director of the J. M. Dawson Institute of Church-State Studies and Associate Professor of Church-State Studies at Baylor University, has a piece up over at Southern Appeal. In it he notes that the new liberal term of derision for religious belief is to call it an "article of faith."
For those of us who maintain that marriage between a man and a woman is normative and that human beings are intrinsically valuable from the moment they come into existence, Kerry’s position is condescending and insulting. By calling our views “articles of faith,” not only does Kerry reveal a deep ignorance of what is an “article of faith,” he implies that these views are held by many of his fellow citizens for no reason. This is because in the circles that Kerry runs “articles of faith” are those beliefs that you are required to believe because “that’s your religion” and not because you actually may have thought about them. That is, Kerry doesn’t seem to think that there are rational believers, individuals who have actually evaluated the competing arguments over the issues people are deeply divided and have concluded that the socially conservative positions on abortion and marriage have good support and thus are in fact true. But not just "true for me" or "true for you," but actually true for everyone.

In the end, the position espoused by Kerry presumes that religious belief is inherently irrational, and that religiously based beliefs are therefore not a fit basis for seeking a political end. Such a position betrays the entire heritage of the American political tradition. Consider the civil rights movement. Martin Luther king's position was undergirded by religious belief. It was an "article of faith" that all men could live together in brotherhood and good will, treated as equals. His message bristled with religious metaphor. Does this make the cause of civil rights unworthy, and a matter upon which there should be no legislation lest someone else's "article of faith" be disrespected? Hardly! Why, then, should the beliefs of religious Americans on abortion, homosexual marriage, or fetal stem cells be treated any differently?


Red Sox Win!

They cap the most magnificent baseball comeback of all time by sweeping the St. Louis Cardinals. Congratulations, boys!

And may it be the only win for Boston for the next week.


Lone Star Times Debuts

It is finally here. KSEV radio's successor to Chronically Biased is here. It's called The Lone Star Times, and it came online yesterday around 5:15 pm. Go take a look, and find out more about the ambitious project.


Wednesday, October 27, 2004

Farewell, Cowgirls!

RodeoHouston has eliminated the nightly "opening act," the Catalena Cowgirls.

My wife and I have season tickets. Hopefully we will get the Cowgirls back next year, assuming public outcry doesn't get Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo between now and this spring.


Sometimes A Headline Says It All!

From today's Houston Chronicle:

Heinz Kerry's problem? She's a spoiled, rich brat

And I love the wrap-up.

Not to worry — there's not much to hear. Her story, stripped of hyperbole, comes to this: She was the child of privilege, and now she is the adult of privilege. Her doctor father was rich and so was her first, late husband. All her money is inherited.

After her marriage in 1966 to John Heinz, heir to the ketchup fortune, she quit her job as a translator and settled into the pampered world of the super-rich.

So she hasn't had a real job for 40 years.

Oh, yes, she does give away Heinz money. She calls herself a philanthropist.

Not exactly a job ordinary Americans can relate to. Or a first lady.

Yep -- that sums it up nicely.


Tuesday, October 26, 2004

Riots? "Not If We Win."

Apparently the Democrats are planning to violently take to the streets if they lose. Elizabeth Edwards, whose mouth is almost as deadly to the campaign as Teresa's, was involved in the following exchange.
Elizabeth Edwards, wife of Democratic vice-presidential candidate Sen. John Edwards, said the election would not result in riots if it ended in a victory for Sen. John Kerry. Mrs. Edwards' assertion was in response to a supporter at an event in Pennsylvania who expressed fears that the election result will produce riots.

"Uh ... well ... not if we win," Mrs. Edwards said in an exchange aired on C-SPAN.

In the same article, we find out that the Leadership Council on Civil Rights doesn't care about vote fraud or voter intimidation -- at least not if those who are hurt are white.

LCCR also reiterated its concerns about the need to protect the voting rights of blacks, Hispanics, American Indians, Asians and other minorities, urging Mr. Ashcroft to "reach out to election officials across the country to ensure they are doing all they can to combat efforts to intimidate minority voters."

Which tells us all we need to know about the state of Martin Luther King's Dream in the modern "civil rights" movement.


Archbishop Speaks on Faith, Morals, and Democracy

Denver Archbishop Charles J. Chaput makes an excellent point in his commetary in the Chroinicle.

Lawmaking inevitably involves some group imposing its beliefs on the rest of us. That's the nature of the democratic process. If we say that we "ought" to do something, we are making a moral judgment. When our legislators turn that judgment into law, somebody's "ought" becomes a "must" for the whole of society. This is not inherently dangerous; it's how pluralism works.

Law and morality usually (should, in fact) go hand-in-hand. It is not a violation of the Constitution to enact a moral precept into law. Indeed, it is the responsibility of people of every faith to seek to enact laws that deal with fundamental moral issues.  That is, in the end, the obligation of each believer -- to work to enact that which they believe makes for a more just, more moral society.

Words are cheap. Actions matter. If we believe in the sanctity of life from conception to natural death, we need to prove that by our actions, including our political choices. Anything less leads to the corruption of our integrity. Patriotism, which is a virtue for people of all faiths, requires that we fight, ethically and nonviolently, for what we believe. Claiming that "we don't want to impose our beliefs on society" is not merely politically convenient; it is morally incoherent and irresponsible.

As James 2:17 reminds us, in a passage quoted in the final presidential debate, "Faith without works is dead." It is a valid point. People should act on what they claim to believe. Otherwise they are violating their own conscience, and lying to themselves and the rest of us.

Salt and Light!


Persecution in Communist Vietnam

"Unauthorized" religions are still persecuted in Vietnam. Even an inoffensive pacifist group like the Mennonites can’t be allowed to exist unmolested, because they acknowledge a power higher than the state.
In the September 24 attack, government officials confiscated [Pastor Nguyen Cong] Chinh's property and farm animals, set fire to the house and chapel, and then used two bulldozers to flatten the remains. Chinh was out on a pastoral visit at the time, but his wife and children were arrested by officials and detained at Vinh Quang district headquarters from 9:30 am to 4:30 pm that day. Mrs. Chinh, who is seven months pregnant, reported being hit in the stomach and stepped on while in custody. Chinh reportedly went into hiding after returning to the scene briefly after the destruction was complete.

Vietnam has been designated a "Country of Particular Concern" by the US Department of State because of its persecution of religious believers.


Smart Lawyers, Dumb Columnist

You know that you will automatically get bias when you read a Rick Casey column. The man’s job is, of course, to offer opinion without a smidgin of objectivity or honesty. Since coming to the Chronicle, he has become the “designated hitter,” writing on issues that the Chronicle news pages won’t touch at all for fear of being seen as too partisan. That comes through in the opening paragraphs of this column.
District Attorney Chuck Rosenthal's response to my offer to pay the way for up to 12 felony prosecutors to see The Exonerated at the Alley Theatre was a single sentence: "I'll go if you sit through a capital murder trial." I told him I was asking for two hours. He was asking for at least two weeks.

Well why SHOULDN’T he ask for two weeks? That’s how long a real trial takes, not the two hours of cherry-picked material that Jessica Blank put in her play. Casey’s goal was to get an emotional response to a play as a means of changing policy. Rosenthal was trying to get Casey to change his opinion based upon exposure to the real work of prosecutors and judges. Those are two very different things. But when three prosecutors did take him up on the offer, that wasn’t sufficient. They actually watched the play with a critical eye, knowing it to be a piece of propaganda. Even if they accepted at face value every bit of evidence about the innocence of the play’s subjects that the playwright includes, that should not lead to the automatic conclusion that the system is broken, capital punishment should be abolished, and the prosecutors who handled the cases did something wrong. And as professionals, these prosecutors know that. Casey is most displeased by their failure to adopt his (and Blank’s) position on the criminal justice system.
I think most audiences understand that. And most in the audiences for this play were open to the emotional impact of the personal injustice of being wrongfully convicted. The prosecutors weren't. The lesson I learned, with apologies to Hamlet, is that the play's not the thing wherein we'll catch the conscience of a prosecutor.

Yeah, Rick, that’s right. Trained in logic and law, experts in the workings of the criminal justice system, a prosecutor is not going to suspend his or her disbelief ESPECIALLY when the playwright admits her piece is a work with an agenda. They are smarter than that. Too bad you are not.


Do These People Understand The System?

Well, Nick Lampson is going after Ted Poe something fierce in the Texas 9th Congressional District. It seems that probation officers haven’t been enforcing some of the sentences that Poe imposed as a judge, sentences which included restitution and child support for killers who got probation from juries. And as far as the families are concerned, it is all Ted Poe’s fault.
"If he can't keep promises to me, I don't know how he can keep promises to millions of people," said Sherri King, whose 6-year-old son was killed in a wreck caused by a drunken driver in 1999.

But the judge isn’t the one who oversees probationers, Ms. King. Have you been in touch with the probation officer? With the prosecutor’s office? After all, they have the responsibility to enforce the terms of the probation and violate the offender. Is it just that the judge is easier to blame? Or that you are a partisan who doesn’t mind using your family tragedy for political ends? Lampson, of course, is more than willing to politicize the issue.
"Ted Poe's entire campaign is based on the premise that he's a victim's advocate," Lampson said. "There is a clear pattern of failing to consider the needs of the victims' families and follow through on Poe's terms of sentencing."

I wonder, did the congressman or one of his staffers try making a phone call to see if the situations could be rectified? I doubt it, otherwise he would be trumpeting it. Besides, if the situation got resolved there would be no issue to use for the campaign.


Hunting v. Killing

Did John Kerry REALLY go hunting the other day?

Outdoor writer Larry Moore doesn't think so.
John Kerry did no homework for his hunting trip -- no landowner contacts, no scouting trips, no dog training. He probably did not even buy his own camouflage jacket. He probably could not recite the laws governing his hunt -- which means he did not read his Ohio Hunting Guide or the federal migratory bird rules. John Kerry is a poster boy for the Humane Society of the United States and PETA - groups that object to hunters just walking out into the fields and shooting things. What John Kerry did is not hunting -- it was killing.



Sunday, October 24, 2004

Leftist Brit Rag Publishes Call For Bush Assassination!

Blogs for Bush is a great source of information on the election. Today they link to this piece from The Guardian.

After a mouth-foaming rant against the president ("lying, sniggering, drink-driving, selfish, reckless, ignorant, dangerous, backward, drooling, twitching, blinking, mouse-faced little cheat"), columnist Charlie Brooker concludes with the following (I've added the bold-faced type):
On November 2, the entire civilised world will be praying, praying Bush loses. And Sod's law dictates he'll probably win, thereby disproving the existence of God once and for all. The world will endure four more years of idiocy, arrogance and unwarranted bloodshed, with no benevolent deity to watch over and save us. John Wilkes Booth, Lee Harvey Oswald, John Hinckley Jr - where are you now that we need you?

Let's hope the British government acts against Brooker for this threat. If not, a Special Forces team should be dispatched to take Mr. Brooker for an extended vacation at Guantanamo Bay.


Some Things Are Too Good To Pass Up!

Hat Tip: The Libertarian Enterprise


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