Saturday, November 13, 2004
Is Faith Genetic?
Dr. Dean Hamer, of the National Cancer Institute, makes his claim based upon a study of 2000 volunteers.
Needless to say, this raises questions. Is the notion of faith undercut if belief is predetermined by genetics? Does it do away with the notion of God?
Dr Dean Hamer, the director of the Gene Structure and Regulation Unit at the National Cancer Institute in America, asked volunteers 226 questions in order to determine how spiritually connected they felt to the universe. The higher their score, the greater a person's ability to believe in a greater spiritual force and, Dr Hamer found, the more likely they were to share the gene, VMAT2.Studies on twins showed that those with this gene, a vesicular monoamine transporter that regulates the flow of mood-altering chemicals in the brain, were more likely to develop a spiritual belief. Growing up in a religious environment was said to have little effect on belief. Dr Hamer, who in 1993 claimed to have identified a DNA sequence linked to male homosexuality, said the existence of the "god gene" explained why some people had more aptitude for spirituality than others.
Dr. Hamer says no. In fact, he claims just the opposite.
"Religious believers can point to the existence of god genes as one more sign of the creator's ingenuity - a clever way to help humans acknowledge and embrace a divine presence."You can read more about the subject in his book, The God Gene: How Faith Is Hard-Wired Into Our Genes.
O'l Dirty Bastard -- Dead At 35
O.D.B. was among the founders of the Wu-Tang Clan, a group of rappers who helped change the face of the genre in the early 1990s. But for all his talent and influence, his erratic behavior and drug use wil will be the things he is most remembered for. O.D.B. is known to have fathered at least a dozen children, by a multitude of women, making him yet another poster child for male irresponsibility among the younger generation. And it may yet be determined that his high-flying lifestyle was the cause of his death.
And yet, I cannot help but be touched by one quote from the AP article announcing his death.
His mother, Cherry Jones, said she received the news of her son's death in a phone call, which she called "every mother's worst dream.''I just wish that the young people who idolize him would realize that the "live fast, die young, and leave a beautiful corpse" lifestyle advocated by so many of the "gangstas" in the entertainment industry impacts lot just the "playas", but also those who love them. No mother should have to bury her child, and certainly not because of a self-destructive hedonistic lifestyle.
"To the public he was known as Old Dirty Bastard, but to me he was known as Rusty. The kindest most generous soul on earth,'' her statement said. "Russell was more than a rapper, he was a loving father, brother, uncle, and most of all, son.''
Some People Don't Have A Clue
Deggans, however, also shows why he and many liberals don't have a clue regarding a key point on this issue.
As a black man married to a white woman, I couldn't help wondering what might have happened if Americans had voted on interracial marriage back in 1968, when the Supreme Court ruled that laws against such unions were unconstitutional. According to a Gallup poll from back then, 72 percent of respondents disapproved of the idea.
I couldn't imagine someone telling me my marriage was "too much, too fast, too soon," even then.
Expecting the Democratic Party to turn its back on a minority group fighting for equality feels too much like throwing out the baby with the bathwater - parroting a prejudice voters wouldn't believe coming from the party of Barney Frank and Ted Kennedy, anyway.
There was a time when black people were told their demands for equal housing, schools and voting rights were "too much, too soon," and they turned to the courts for victories they couldn't win at the ballot box. Can anyone blame today's gay activists - with 40 years of black-focused civil rights history behind them - for an unwillingness to wait now?
What Deggans misses is that there is a fundamental difference between the struggle for full equality for African-Americans and the gay marriage issue. More than one, actually.
- Equal rights for blacks was already contained, explicitly, in the US Constitution. The battle that was waged for decades was about enforcing what was already there, not reading into the document that which never existed and which its authors would have repudiated.
- By 1968 interracial marriage was already legal in most states outside the South, and had been for decades. While there was social stigma, the law in most places generally supported such marriages. Gay marriage is an innovation that has had to be created by courts from scratch, via a usurpation of the legislative function and the rejection of the beliefs of the people.
- A high melanin level doesn't raise moral issues. Homosexual activity does, at least for the overwhelming majority of Americans.
- Interracial marriage did not require a wholesale redefinition of the marriage, whereas gay marriage does.
Help A Kerry Supporter
Among the destinations available are the following:
- Anarchists: Antartica
- Anti-Americans: Afghanistan, Iraq, Iran, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, Syria, or Venezuela
- Communists: Cuba, North Korea, or Vietnam
- Leftists: France, Germany, Italy, or Spain
- Socialists: Canada, Denmark, England, Finland, Norway, or Sweden
"Marlboro Marine" Profiled
I've blogged on the response to it, both here and at Lone Star Times.
Now see the face behind the camouflage and the cigarette.
He is Marine Lance Cpl. James Blake Miller, a 20 year-old from Jonancy, Kentucky. And he's down to his last four packs of Marlboros. The Los Angeles Times, not may favorite paper in the world, does a halfway decent profile of the guy. I'm not sure that he is as nonchalant about the war or as disinclined to reenlist as the article makes him out to be -- but on the other hand, he sounds just like a lot of our men and women in uniform, folks who are in for a time of service to their country but who then want out so they can pursue the American Dream. In Miller's case, it sounds like that means doing auto body work.
My favorite part of the story? The explanation of the name of his hometown.
"It's named after my great-great-great grandparents: Joe and Nancy Miller," the Marine explained. "They were the first people in those parts."
God, don't you love this country, and the people who make it great.
Friday, November 12, 2004
Couldn't Happen To A "Nicer" Guy
NOVEMBER 11--Comedian Bill Maher was slapped yesterday with a $9 million palimony suit by an ex-girlfriend who alleges that the HBO star subjected her to physical and verbal abuse, including "insulting, humiliating and degrading racial comments." In the below Los Angeles Superior Court complaint, Nancy Johnson, a centerfold model and former flight attendant also known as Coco Johnsen, alleges that Maher, 48, reneged on promises to pay her expenses and purchase a Beverly Hills home. Johnson, who says she dated Maher for 17 months before splitting from him in May, also contends that the performer promised to marry her and have children. Johnson, pictured at right, does not detail the degrading racial comments allegedly made by Maher, and recounts only one episode of supposed physical abuse by the host of HBO's "Real Time." She charges that Maher pulled her arm and shook her at one party, causing "injuries to her back and neck," and later that evening warned he'd hit her on the head with a hammer if she was unfaithful.
You know, I bet he didn't try any of that stuff with Ann Coulter.
Thursday, November 11, 2004
Gold Star Mom Trashes Moore
Eva Savage of Livingston, Tennessee, lost her son, Marine Cpl. Jeremiah Savage, in Ramadi, Iraq, on May 12, 2004. His was one of the pictures abused by Michael Moore on his website. I cannot do her words justice, so I include the entire content of her remarks. Mrs. Savage is outraged by Moore's disgraceful actions.
''I am the mother of a United States Marine. Jeremiah was killed in action in Ramadi, Iraq on May 12, 2004.Some things need no further amplification.
''People like Moore would have you believe that we hold President Bush responsible for my son's death. Michael Moore has not spoken to me — ever. So he cannot profess to know how I feel. He is a coward who thrives on the lives of others by twisting the truth and rewriting it to suit his own agenda.
''Lance Cpl. Jeremiah Edward Savage was a United States Marine. He was not drafted. He chose to join. It takes a special person, someone with a sense of honor, duty, commitment and courage to be a member of the Armed Forces. My son believed in his mission, in his duty to protect the way of life all Americans enjoy.
''A few Americans take that for granted and would have you believe that our military heroes have died in vain. My son did not die in vain. The only way that would be true is if you believe people like Michael Moore. My son died for Moore's right to use the First Amendment. But if Moore had said those same things about Saddam Hussein as an Iraqi, he would no longer be living.
''Michael Moore wants us to believe that the picture of President Bush's face — a mosaic of the lost lives of our soldiers in Operation Iraq Freedom — is a statement that President Bush is responsible for lives lost in vain. Let me tell you what I see: I see heroes who gave the ultimate sacrifice so we can continue to be free. I see faces that make up the face of our commander in chief who is not afraid to stand his ground, not afraid to say 'enough is enough' and will not back down to the terrorist, not afraid to cry with a mother, a wife when he meets with them, not afraid to admit he prays to the living God. I see honor, duty, commitment and courage. I see Semper Fidelis (Always faithful).
''I will continue to speak out against closed-minded co-wards like Michael Moore. I used to be afraid to say what I thought for the way someone would think of me. Not any more. You do not walk in my shoes, Mr. Moore. You do not know what I feel or think. Until you have stood where I stand, do not put words in my mouth.
''I have a voice, and it is about damn time I stop being silent. My son died giving me the right to speak, and speak loud. I will not allow his name or even his picture be disgraced.''
Yeah, that's right. Not one, but TWO letters complaining that a Marine getting a break from the Battle of Fallujah was shown with a cigarette. Oh, the horror of it all! These Smoking Nazis are concerned about the impact such a photo will have on "the children."
First we get Dr. Daniel Maloney of the Woodlands, who writes,
I was shocked to see the large photograph on Nov. 10. A tired, dirty and brave Marine rests after a battle — but with a cigarette dangling from his mouth! Lots of children, particularly boys, play "army" and like to imitate this young man. The clear message of the photo is that the way to relax after a battle is with a cigarette.Yeah, Doc, you are probably right. The young man in the picture probably shouldn't be smoking. But do you really have nothing better to do than chastise a Marine in combat for smoking? One would hope you have something better to do with your time, not to mention a higher standard of decency. Were I one of your patients, I would be looking for a new physician right about now -- and I encourage any reading this to do so.
The truth is very different from that message. Most of our troops don't smoke. And most importantly, this young man is far more likely to die a horrible death from his tobacco addiction than from his tour of duty in Iraq.
Then there is Maynard Hovland of League City. His entry in the "Disrespect for Veterans" competiton is shorter and more absurd.
I opened the Chronicle this morning and got slapped in the face by a huge picture of a "battle weary" Marine with a fine looking cigarette hanging out of his mouth.
I respect everyone's rights, but do we really need to encourage our young people to think that this is part of required military gear?
Well, I'm glad to know you respect people's rights. I'm sure that young man respects your right to write such an inane letter to the editor to show your disdain for his putting his life on the line for your freedom. If seeing someone with a cigarette is such a traumatizing event, I can only assume that you don't watch movies or leave your home for fear of becoming psychologically scarred by the sight of a tobacco product in use.
I'm no fan of smoking. I've lost too many loved ones to lung cancer, emphysema, heart disease, and other smoking related maladies. But I do have a sense of proportion about that particular vice, and it seems to me that any creature comfort our fighting men can get in a war zone is one that I'm not going to criticize.
So to all our men and women in uniform, far from home and in harms way on another Veteran's Day, the smoking lamp is on. "Smoke 'em if you got 'em!"
Wallace B. Jefferson, Chief Justice of the Texas Supreme Court
It was a historic day for Texas.
AUSTIN -- U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia administered the oath of office today to Chief Justice Wallace B. Jefferson, the first black person to preside over the nine-member Texas Supreme Court.
A mere fourteen decades after emancipation, Texas has a Chief Justice who is the descendant of slaves. For thirteen of those decades, Texas politics were controlled by Democrats.
[Gov. Rick] Perry first appointed Jefferson to the court in March 2001 to fill a vacancy created when Alberto Gonzales left to become White House counsel for President Bush.
Apparently the Democrats were unable to find even a single qualified black candidate to serve on the court for one and a third centuries, but Republicans could easily find such a candidate, along with qualified Hispanic candidates.
Jefferson won election to the court in 2002. His term expires in 2006.
But we all know, for the media and the Democrats and the "civil rights" leaders all tell us so, that Republicans are the party of racism and segregation, while the Democrats are the party of equal opportunity and inclusion for minorities.
Actions speak louder than words.
Cornyn's Irrational Logic On Specter
"Based on what he told me yesterday -- if that is his position and if it is his public position and it is one we can rely on going forward -- I would not have an objection to him serving as chairman," Cornyn told reporters.
Hold on, Senator. Your use of the word "if" in that sentence should be reason enough to oppose Specter. You really don't know, and can't know, his position. Given his recent contradictory statements (both before and after the election) and his treatment of Robert Bork, the single most qualified nominee to the Supreme Court of the latter half of the twentieth century, it seems clear that anything he says now is a self-serving statement to secure the center seat. There is no way anyone can be sure where he stands.
It is really simple, Senator Cornyn. Arlen Specter should not even be permitted to SERVE on the Judiciary Committee, much less run it! If you cannot see that, perhaps it is time for those of us who work the grass roots of the party to start encouraging a primary challenge designed to make you a one-term senator.
Sunday, November 07, 2004
Blue To Leave The Union?
Well, that's the position of Mariel Garza of the LA Daily news. She proposes that the entire West Coast secede and form its own country -- Caliwashegon. She's basing that on the fact that the red/blue map shows her part of the country to have voted for the losing candidate.
"Theoretically, it's possible," said Erwin Chemerinsky, a constitutional law professor at Duke University who formerly taught at the University of Southern California. "Realistically, it won't happen."
But just for the sake of giving into the hypothetical, here's how it could go: First, California leaders would have to get a mandate from residents to declare the state a republic. Neighboring states would, I guess, do the same. We would need lots and lots of money. Hey, Darrell Issa, time to break out your checkbook again. This is your chance to be secretary of state.
Once the residents are in accord, our leaders, headed presumably by President Arnold Schwarzenegger, inform Washington, D.C., that, um, sorry, we won't be participating in your little republic anymore.
Here's the tricky part. If no one else in the rest of the country objects - if Texas, Iowa, New York and all the others are glad to be free of the Left Coast wackos, good riddance - then we are home free. If not, it's time for Civil War II.
Well, setting aside the fact that such a plan is unconstitutional (not that the Democrats have cared about the Constitution since Franklin Delano Roosevelt), there is the fact that the states in question are not particularly blue -- just a few counties.
Yeah, that's right. The hate-filled rhetoric of the Ranting Left finds a receptive audience among only a relatively few counties. Most parts of most of the Blue States are not blue at all. They are filled with people who are supportive of the president and the War on Terror, people who see al-Qaeda as a bigger threat than the GOP.
But we can be gracious. We'll let Ms. Garza have California and all the rest on a county-by-county basis. That will do a way with a good chunk of her "sixth-largest economy in the world and a population larger than most countries." And by the way, Mariel, my relatives up in Oregon and Washington tell me that the local liberals even (perhaps especially) hate Californians, so I doubt you'll get the neighbors to join you in leaving the Union.
Hasta la vista, baby!
Why Voters Rejected Gay Marriage
Vin offers a different take on the adoption of gay marriage bans by 11 states this week (and 13 this year). I think he may have a good point, one which has been missed by the commentators I've read.
Look at the huge margins of victory for the "marriage is between one man and one woman" ballot measures adopted in 11 states Tuesday. Voters have shown no recent enthusiasm for jailing anyone for practicing homosexuality, thank goodness. The general attitude is laissez faire -- leave them alone as long as they don't frighten the horses. So what are these "gay marriage" votes really all about?
It's not at all far-fetched for parents to worry the next step could be federal "civil rights" lawsuits complaining the number of openly gay schoolteachers and chaperones in their local school doesn't meet "federal guidelines."
Conservatives aren't saying gay marriage is the start of the socialists' campaign to destroy the wholesome social institution of marriage; they seem to see it as something more closely approaching the last straw.
As I've been discussing with Jason over at Positive Liberty, I'm open to the whole concept of civil unions -- provided they are adopted legislatively rather than judicially -- to protect certain legitimate interests of homosexuals in relationships. I know very few (if any) folks who want to prevent someone from passing property to their same-sex partner or deny that partner the right to be present in a hospital room during a partner's serious illness (or even direct the medical care of that partner). Where we get hung up is calling the status of such partners "marriage" (we object to the redefinition), anti-discrimination laws (which have the effect of discriminating against many religious believers) and mandatory spousal benefits for partners (for the same reason). There are not many Rev. Fred Phelps-types out there, and most conservatives (even Christian conservatives) I know are more grouped around the libertarian paradigm. We are more than willing to co-exist in peace with homosexuals if they are willing to co-exist in peace with us -- but we will fight back when we believe we are under attack. To that end, the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court decision on gay marriage and Mayor Newsom's antics in San Francisco have been the 9/11 of a culture war in our society, and the amendments have been our response.