Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Obama’s All In with Socialism Speech

President Obama attempted to channel yet another President in a speech yesterday in Osowatomie, Kansas, this time choosing the rough rider Teddy Roosevelt.  Unfortunately for Obama, our economy is what is being given a rough ride.   Teddy gave the speech 101 years ago to lay out his progressive agenda.  Obama decided to also make the first transparent move of his administration and broadcast to everyone that he too is a progressive.  There were some 14 references to the word “fair” during his speech, which only matches the number of times the word was used during a 1917 Lenin stump speech.   The word “fair” is to me the scariest word that can be used in reference to the government and society.   Fair means that there must be some judgment in some circumstance as to what is fair.  When used in conjunction with society, the determination of fair is left to the government, which can operate either benignly or malignantly.   As more power is ceded to the federal government, the more malicious it tends to operate.  Let’s face it, we are a fallen world.  When we centralize power, we allow more and more of our lives to be dictated by a fallen people.  This is why our nation’s greatness has been eroding in direct correlation to the size of our government.  I don’t want to make this all spiritual, but people are going to turn to a central power one way or another.  In the absence of a central government, it is more likely to be God.  When the government grows, it is less likely to be God.   Again, we see a direct correlation in the erosion of faith to the increase in the size of our government. 
Back to “fair”, since that is the driving force in Obama’s message and governance.  I ask you this, where does “fair share” come into play in a free society?  Fair requires two things, a judgment on what is fair, and the enforcement of that judgment.  For example, suppose we look at a football game as we would a free market.  The game has rules regulating the play, just as there are regulations that dictate business.  People have different views about the value of many of the rules, but one thing is consistent, the rules only get numerous.   In football, the rules are applicable to both teams, however, they are subjectively applied, providing for varying results.  It may be fair or not fair, but this isn’t even the kind of fair Obama is talking about.  What Obama is talking about is fairness in outcome.  This means that regardless of the rules, effort, or results of either team, a referee will determine whether or not the outcome is fair.   This referee may choose to distribute points from one team to another.  Suppose both teams have an equal record, but maybe on team had more penalties, perhaps some points would be taken from the less penalized team and given to the other.  Even better, suppose the team with the smaller score has a worse record.  The referee may feel that because their overall records are so disproportionate, that a large number of points would be taken from the better team and given to the worse team, resulting in the worse team achieving a victory.  You see, for fairness to be enforced, one party in the equation must be penalized.  Such a system would make watching football less desirable if the outcome was not left to the skill and abilities of the teams playing, and was instead decided by a single bureaucrat. 
In the free market, it works the same way.  If I go into work with the understanding that my individual effort has a direct impact on my financial outcome, I am more likely to apply more individual effort.  However, if I show up to work and the formula that is applied is that the more effort I apply, the more likely the additional benefit of my additional effort will be applied to those that applied less effort, the less likely I am going to apply additional effort.  In fact, the more likely I am going to simply want to receive the benefit of other people’s efforts.  The more likely one person is going to reduce effort and hope to receive the benefit of other’s efforts, the more likely there will be a disproportionate number of beneficiaries to contributors.  Does this sound familiar.  This is the system we have been going down for decades now.  Instead of calling it a benefit, it is called an entitlement.   How is this fair?  The truth is that in Obama’s world, some people should be treated more fairly than others.  Going back to our football analogy, all people willing to participate within the free market system will benefit from the success of others.  A bad football team playing a good football team receives the benefit of added ticket sales from people wanting to see the better team or better television revenue for people wanting to watch it on TV.  Let’s leave fair with the kids and grow up Mr. President.

Friday, December 2, 2011

The Freedom to Celebrate Christmas

It is that time of year where I examine the celebration of Christmas with my understanding of biblical principles.  Some may feel it is hummbugness, but I assure you it is not.  It is simply a reflection of my own journey with Christ and is not meant to be a judgment on those that disagree.  So, with that disclaimer out of the way, here is what I am currently pondering.  Every year, for the 30 or so days leading up to Christmas, there is story after story about how this city won’t allow a Christmas tree, or how this school won’t allow Santa to come, or this thing or that.  Even before I was a believer, it got me all in a tizzy because it was an attack on the traditions I held sacred.  In my secularness, I protested freedom to practice my religion.   How can a state tell me no Santa or no Christmas tree.  The answer to that question is easy.  You cannot point to 95% of the Chistmas traditions as having any biblical basis.  I’m not saying people can’t derive meaning from something, but there is nothing describing Santa or a Christmas tree.   If the governor of Rhode Island wants to call a Christmas tree a holiday tree, he is welcome to it.  He didn’t actually change or affect anything that had to do with my faith, which when I didn’t have real faith, greatly brought me down.
As my journey in my faith has brought me to a place where fewer and fewer traditions, such as Santa and trees, dominates my celebration of the birth of Christ, I have felt more and more liberation in reflecting on this day in which God became flesh and prophecies began to be fulfilled.  The liberation is that nothing anyone can do externally can impact my own relationship with God and the celebration of Christ.  If I see a story about a tree, I laugh a giddy laugh as I realize the liberation my faith has brought me.  It’s kind of like when Jesus said let the dead bury their own.   In this circumstance, it is letting the ‘dead’ celebrate their own.  In the spirit of the Lord, there is Freedom.  This Christmas, I’m celebrating Freedom.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Despicable Me Movie Review

What rhymes with Despicable Me?   Answer, Despicable Movie.  Our family was high off the fun of Megamind, a movie we all enjoyed and have enjoyed many times since our first viewing.  Even the youngest of our kids were quoting lines.  We were hoping to repeat this fun with a movie that had a similar premise, Despicable Me.  The movie is about a person who was destined to be a villain because of the negative influence of his mother and his odd appearance, think of Igor.  Since he is a villain, he wants to be the best villain of all, competing against other villains that must go to the bank of evil to get loans to fund their evil projects.  Unfortunately, in this movie, everyone is a villain.  There are no decent people at all, that is until Gru, the main character, adopts three girls so that he can use them to infiltrate another villains layer so that he can steal something.  There's no surprise here as he starts to actually care for the kids.  The climax comes as he must choose between his villainous plans and attending the girls recital.  When he makes the wrong choice, he must then fight the other villain to save his girls.  The conclusion is that he wins and he keeps the girls.  Aside from the predictability of the plot, other things that worked poorly were the voice acting, steve carrell did horrible, the humor, since there was no real humor, the writers tried using the word "poop" to create laughter, but failed, and the general dialogue was boring.  Perhaps if the bar hadn't been raised so high by Megamind, I might have found the movie somewhat slightly entertaining.  My kids did enjoy the movie, and I suppose they are the real audience, but with Megamind, the whole family enjoys viewing it together.  I doubt we will do that with this movie.  Oh yeah, the minions in this movie were lame.  No matter how hard they tried, it was lame. 

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Megamind Movie Review

I’m not one to look for spiritual equivocation in movies, but I couldn’t help it when it came to Megamind.  The premise of Megamind is what would happen if a somebody with superpowers would land in a bad environment as opposed to a good one.  Megamind escapes his planet before its destruction, but so does metroman.  They are both traveling to earth.  Metroman lands in a mansion while Megamind lands in a prison for the criminally gifted.   Because of their environment, Megamind becomes a criminal and Metroman becomes superhero.  Megamind felt he was living out his destiny and thought if he was destined to be bad, he would be the baddest there is.   Megamind’s world is thrown upside, however, when one of his plans to destroy Metroman succeeds.  Without his nemesis around, Megamind feels empty and depressed.  He no longer feels fulfillment in his evil pursuits.  Inspired by the reporter that he has captured time and again, he decides to create a superhero to fill that void.  He injects Metroman’s super powers into a bumbling TV cameraman and sets about training this person to become a new hero, Titan, so that Megamind can once again find purpose.  While Megamind is training Titan, he is simultaneously falling in love with the reporter.  Because Megamind is using a disguise, she has no idea she is falling for Megamind.   Megamind begins to question his evil existence, going so far as telling Minion, his minion, that he doesn’t want to be evil anymore.  Meanwhile, Megamind’s attempt to create a hero backfires in that Titan doesn’t want to use his powers for good, but rather for selfish pursuits.  Essentially, Megamind has created a super villain.  Megamind is now faced with a choice.  He can reject the belief that he is destined to be evil and instead make the willful heart choice to be good.  Megamind makes the good choice and defeats Titan.
Where I find the parallels in Christ is that this movie is all about heart choices, heart choices for good and evil.  What made any of the characters good or evil was not their deeds, but from what within their heart motivated them to do them.   Metroman chose to use his powers to be selfless while Titan chose to use those same powers for bad.  The only variable between the two of them was their heart.  Megamind showed that there is no such thing as being destined to be good or evil, that it is a choice.  He also showed that you can overcome your circumstance and still make the right choice. 
Christ is about choice.  Christ is not looking for works, he is looking for choice.  It doesn’t matter how you were raised, in a mansion or a prison.  It doesn’t matter what you have done, been a super villain terrorizing metro city your whole life.    It doesn’t matter what words of destiny have been spoken over your life.  You can choose with your heart.
Also, the movie is pretty entertaining.  My wife really likes it.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Bring Back the Middle Class of Education: Hypocrisy of the Occupiers

I was inspired by a friend’s blog in which he had a chart that showed that the US has the highest number of top universities in the world.  Yet despite the number of top universities, the US lags far behind the other nations on the chart when it comes to test scores.  The point of this post is not to discuss the lack of real education provided at these schools, but to talk about the hypocrisy of the Occupy Wall Street (OWS) crowd. 
You see, the OWS crowd identifies themselves as part of the 99% of the have-nots, compared to the 1% haves.  Most of these OWS people are college students or college graduates.     Only around 25% of Americans have a college degree.  That means the vast majority of people in the US have no college degree.  That puts the degreed people in an elite class.  That means 25% possess 100% of the valid education in America.  Shouldn’t there be educational redistribution.  This isn’t such a crazy idea.  In the world I work in, you either have a degree and are worthwhile or you have no degree and are not worth anything.  A college degree is something you either have or don’t have, and we are told from birth that you are nothing unless you have a degree.    There is no educational middle class.  But how can there be one you ask?  The truth is, there used to be one.  
You see, for generations, trade schools, apprenticeships, certifications, and 2 year degrees had value.  While the real value still exists, the perceived value does not.  If I become an electrician, I’m viewed by the 25% as some greasy fingered dullard.  Why is what the 25% think important.  The 25% control the educational system, the legal system, the political system, and the media.  They do not control business.  Haven’t you ever wondered why the institutions that the 25% control seem so anti-business.  It is because business is the opportunity where the 75% can find success.  They don’t want the 75% to have success, and it is becoming increasingly difficult to do so. 
What the OWS movement is essentially about is redistributing opportunity to be successful from 100% of people to the 25% they are a part of.   What we need to do is to re-establish the value of the educational middle-class.  Support vocations and trades.  Push back against the OWS.

Captain America Movie Review

I don't normally watch action movies, but I made an exception so that I could screen the movie before my daughter viewed for a birthday party.  Captain America did not upset my normalcy.  The flick started out well enough.  It didn't move at too fast a pace.  They took their time in developing an introducing protagonist and antagonist.  You had a general feeling for who they are and what motivates them.  Unfortunately, once Captain America started doing Captain America things, the movie moved at such a fast and jerky pace that you had no real sense of what the goal was and why each mission might be important.  Instead, a whole bunch of new characters are introduced, of which they were all very inconspicuously diverse (I don't know if the comics were that way, but sometimes you sacrifice a sense of realism for diversity and it doesn't pay off),   You could tell they were all supposed to be cool or comical, but just as in the Clash of the Titans remake, you really could care less about any of them and their contribution to the story, which became non-existent.  There are fights and chases, and a climax that could best be described as weak and meaningless.  Also, if you are looking for any patriotism here, don't look for it.  America only references the place he is born.  There is no real nationalism in this movie.

Friday, November 18, 2011

The Futility of Shoe Laces

There are few activities that mark the emergence for a child from preschool into grade school like learning how to tie your shoes.  It means that you have acquired the complex dexterity and ability to remember instructions needed to achieve a task that will allow you to independently put on your shoes.  Velcro has stifled the need to learn this skill by putting of for many years.  Why should a child have to learn this skill when they have already achieved this independence since they are were 2.   Because I hate tying my shoes only to have them come undone, and because I have many small children that all wear velcro shoes that don't need to be retied, I have thought through the futility of laces. 
Has technology not come far enough in shoe and velcro design that we all can't wear velcro shoes?  I believe laces have hung on so long because adults don't want to be associated with the velcro of their youth.  It is like saying to a kid, not only can they not have a drink or drive a car or vote, they also can't tie their own shoes.  I advocate for a lace free movement when it comes to athletic shoes.  Many dress shoes have already turned into fancy slippers.  Athletic shoes need to be more secure than a slipper, but surely a velcro strap can accomplish this task.   Let's send the shoelace companies to the  same pages in history as milk men, buggy whip manufacturers, and ice plants.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Return of Zulubuff

I have been on a vacation for the last 5 weeks following the birth of my 7th child, Jack.  I decided to take a break from blogging as well, but now with less than a year left until the next election, I am back and ready to go.   As a recap of the last 5 weeks, my wife and I had our 7th child.  I stayed home and helped around the house and spent extended time with the kids.  We didn't do anything like a trip, just living day to day with one another.  There were highs and lows.  I am now back at work and miss my family time, but also glad to be back working at my career.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Unknown Movie Review

Okay, so I’m a sucker for a movie set in Germany in which German is spoken, so I enjoyed Unknown for that reason.  I also enjoy Liam Neeson in pretty much anything.  Unknown is a mystery movie with hints of wanting to be an action movie.   Finding out what is Unknown at the end of the movie is not so difficult as you feel like you have seen this movie before (any of the bourne movies), but it is told in a compelling enough way that you are still drawn in and entertained.  There are the clich├ęd scenes where the villain gives a full reveal to the main character rather than just killing him, as well as the most ridiculous car chase scenes.  I hate car chase scenes.  There is nothing more predictable in a movie when you have a car chase scene in the middle of the movie.  You know the conclusion before it begins.  I guess a couple of exceptions would be those interestingly enough done by Christopher Nolan in Inception and Batman Dark Knight.  Anyway, Unknown is a movie starring Liam Neeson who suffers a head injury shortly after arriving in Germany with his wife for a Bio Chemistry summit.   After 4 days in a coma, Neeson awakes in a German hospital.  He has lost some of his memory, but knows his name, why he is in Germany and that he loves his wife.    But where is his wife.  Neeson leaves the hospital despite the doctors warning to return to the hotel he and his wife were to stay in.  He has no identification, so he has a hard time getting in.  Once he shows the hotel security his wife, they escort him over to her, but to his surprise, she doesn’t know who he is.   The remainder of the film is Neeson’s struggle to regain his memory.  As it unfolds, it is clear that things aren’t as simple as that.  Ultimately, upon gaining his memory, he is given a choice to remain who he was, or seek redemption through who he has become.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Contrasting the Failure of Bush and Obama: Right or Left?

I often summarize the Bush Presidency as an utter failure.  I blame George Bush for an even bigger failure, the current Obama administration.  When you compare George Bush and Barrack Obama, your gut reaction is to compare the policies of the right with those of the left.  You might also conclude that you can’t win either way.   I do agree that you cannot win with either Bush or Obama.  You will also not win in the 2012 election either re-electing Obama, or electing a Bushalike, Mitt Romney.  So where do you go if neither the right nor left seem to work.  The answer is the right.  If you merely follow the popular media, you would think that George Bush and Karl Rove are a couple of right wing purists.  This is done very intentionally.  The reality is that there is more in common between George Bush and Obama than a true right wing politician.  While the scope of failure for Bush is not as large as Obama’s, they type of failure is very similar.  What did George Bush do right that is from the right.  He cut taxes, including capital gains taxes.  But he couldn’t go all right.  He had to go a little left even in this.  He added refundable tax credits for those that don’t pay taxes.  For the average person, that means he did more redistribution.   He passed the Medicare prescription plan, which was the biggest increase in entitlements since the great society.  He increased the power of the department of education.   He increase deficit spending and he signed the first bailout.  Nothing much from the right in anything that Bush did really.   Now comes Obama.  He holds steady on Bush’s war plans and actually opens up another front.  He passes bigger bailouts and bigger entitlements and more and more unlegislated policies and mandates.  You can summarize Obama’s presidency as Supersize Bush.  Obama blames Bush for everything, and he might be right in that Obama is just following through with more gusto on the Bush plan.
But let’s be honest, Bush’s failure is not a failure of the right because little if anything at all was legislated that is a true right wing initiative.  If you can describe Obama’s policy as an adverb of Bush’s, and Obama is the most left wing President in history, then Bush is just a more moderate flavor of Obama and not a flavor of the right wing at all.   The greatest victory that can be scored from the Obama Presidency is that we will be able to directly point to the failure of left wing policy.  In this coming election, we need to look for the candidate with the most right wing fruit in their life, not the most right wing lip service.  Who has lived fiscally conservative and respected life and liberty, not who speaks about it, but passes government healthcare in their state, or offers special breaks to people that break the law.  All I am saying is give liberty a chance. 
If we had a real conservative candidate, they would call for cutting entitlements, not sustaining them or limiting their growth.  If we had a real conservative, they would be for reforming the entire tax code, not using the tax code to pick winners and losers.  If we had a real conservative, they wouldn’t be talking about different things the department of education or energy or commerce could do, they would be talking about what benefits would be gained by doing without those departments.  If we had a real conservative, they would never entertain the idea of using federal spending as a means of fixing a social ill.  If we had a real conservative with a  real conservative congress, I think it would be a while before we saw leftists again.