Bunker Mulligan "Let us endeavor so to live that when we come to die even the undertaker will be sorry." ~Mark Twain

January 27, 2004


Filed under: International — Bunker @ 6:37 pm

Steven Den Beste discusses one European lawmaker’s view of the proletariat. He also links to a blog new to me, Porphyrogenitus.

Their thoughts are worth reading. Basically, a Danish representative to the EU derides the idea of a referendum on joining the EU because “Referenda are in fact pure gambling. There is no guarantee of a positive outcome, unfortunately.”

Don’t be too shocked. Our political “betters” look at us the same way. I just ranted about the ACLU and their suit in support of polygamy. The same mentality is at work here. How many societal and cultural issues have been brought before our courts for decisions? We have a long list of programs in this country which were never authorized constitutionally. Why? Because politicians know how hard it is to get an amendment passed and ratified. So the focus has become putting judges on the courts who will decide “properly.”

They know better than we do. We should just let them run things the way they want. Anyone else have problems with that?

Civil Union

Filed under: Society-Culture — Bunker @ 1:10 pm

I can’t believe I actually support something the ACLU does. In this case, I do.

Marriage. It is a religious, spiritual, cultural, and societal issue. Throughout history, marriages have been sanctified by an organized church, or blessed in one form or another by a village elder. Church marriages were reserved for the upper classes, although many others were officiated by clergy.

But I can’t think of a single sentence in our Constitution or its Amendments which gives the federal government the power to regulate marriage, or any other societal or cultural issue. In fact, this is one issue where I believe the church/state separation philosophy actually applies. I don’t know with any real certainty, but I seriously doubt that any state constitution has provisions for regulation of marriage, either.

Government got into the marriage business when politicians saw another way to raise revenue–licenses. Of course, there was a pretext of “for the public good” by requiring blood tests. (Are those still done?) Logically, why do I need the government’s approval to get married?

Today there are far more issues involved. And those issues are the prime reason for the ACLU to press this case. Marriage grants certain privileges, most due to givernment edict. What the ACLU is supporting is same-sex marriage partners receiving privileges (not rights) that heterosexual partners have. My dog in this fight is exactly the opposite result the ACLU wants. I want to see the government out of the marriage business in every way. Privileges must be based on individuals. Companies should not be required to offer equal privileges. They need to have consistent policies, but the government has no place dictating what they recognize. If a gay couple can get recognition of their union by some group, good for them. I feel the same about polygamy, which is the stated focus of this suit.

I am not optimistic, though. If the ACLU is successful in this suit, it will have exactly the opposite effect I want to see.

This is the danger of allowing our judiciary to legislate. I would only support a Marrigae Amendment to the Constitution if it stated the government had to stay out of the marriage business. The issue is already resolved by the Constitution–it doesn’t give the government any authority in this matter. Therefore, the Feds must stay out of it. If a state wants to make a law regarding marriage, and their constitution allows it, the matter is settled.

Don’t count on it.

Academy Awards

Filed under: Society-Culture — Bunker @ 12:28 pm

Hoorah! Today the talk of the news shows is not only the spectacle in New Hampshire, but something even more important: Academy Award nominations.

For many people in this country it is a momentous event. Not for me. It doesn’t matter to me any more than the award of “Top Salesman for 2003” at any company you could name. As one of the lists of names was recited, I realized how little I know or care. Most of the names didn’t even ring a bell.

My daughter works in the TV and film business in California. I’m sure it is of interest to her. One of my sons always gets together with friends to watch the awards show. I hear conversations about “Can you believe so-and-so got the ‘Best Whatever’?” at work.

What makes all of this ridiculous is that it matters only to people in the industry. Yet those folks all believe it should matter to everyone, because they are stars. My “Company Grade Officer of the Year” award a few years ago was against much broader and stiffer competition. And it addressed what I did for an entire year, not just the results of a couple of months worth of effort. I don’t remember whether Billy Crystal was the emcee or not!

I remember all the talk when Halle Berry won her Oscar. She was the first “female African-American” to win one. The talk was of racism. Everyone in Hollywood was supportive of her and her struggle to make it in the industry. Racism in this country had to be the reason. But nobody made the most important point about it: To find the racism they were talking about, all they had to do was look at the attendees.

The average American doesn’t vote on the Oscars. It is an industry award. The industry must be racist. The very people who, almost daily, chide the rest of us about diversity.

The American public has no problem with black actors and actresses. We vote by buying tickets. Ever heard of Denzell Washington? Sidney Portier? Bill Cosby? James Earl Jones? Halle Berry?

These same hypocrites are the ones who will berate anyone who doesn’t support their pet concerns. I listen to none of them. After all, most of them are operating with a high school education and life experiences in a world of make-believe.

Maps On Line

Filed under: International — Bunker @ 10:07 am

The University of Texas Library has the finest set of maps on line that I know of. I’ve added the link to the RH column if you ever need it in the future. As a single example, though, here is a link to a map of Iraq.

To have, and have not

Filed under: Politics — Bunker @ 6:49 am

Another issue came up last night on O’Reilly during his interview with John Edwards. Edwards claimed he wanted to cut taxes, and O’Reilly jumped back. “You mean you want people like me to carry the load.” They both then agreed they were among the top earners in this country, and that the tax burden falls on the backs of people like themselves.

Edwards’ thesis is, however, that people like him and O’Reilly owe something back because they’ve realized the benefits of our society and economic system. Both talked about their “humble beginnings” and how they worked hard to get where they are today. And they agreed that this country provides the environment where someone can do just that.

But they both agree that anyone who works hard and succeeds owes support to those who don’t.

This is the typical argument of class warfare. If Bill O’Reilly and John Edwards can work hard and become millionaires, and that success is due to the American system, why do they owe support to those who fail to take advantage of the same system? “Not everyone has the same opportunity.” Really? Is there anyone in this country who cannot get access to an education? Is there anyone in this country who cannot leave a city with no jobs for one that has them? Is there anyone in this country who can’t take a job in a fast-food restaurant or convenience store in an effort to learn the basics of business before starting a business of their own?

No, an entry level job doesn’t pay enough to support a family. But, by definition, it is a beginning, which means there must be a further goal. It is all about choices. Those who make it big took big chances. Many of them fail three and four times before achieving the success they were after.

I’ve known and worked for several millionaires. They all worked hard. Very hard. For some reason, people who ain’t got blame those that got. They need to look in the mirror.

NO Spin

Filed under: Society-Culture — Bunker @ 6:05 am

John Stossel was on O’Reilly last night. I haven’t watched Bill in some time–he’s become another Geraldo–but I wanted to hear what Stossel had to say. He didn’t get to say too much, typically, because O’Reilly gave him only a short session and spent a lot of time talking about how he provided a review for the dust jacket on John’s book.

This morning in my daily news read I found the above article on WorldNetDaily. I was very interested. Last night I decided John’s book is one I need to read. The gist of the article, linked as a “get an autographed copy” ad, is more about how things changed for John once he began covering government rather than corporations in his consumer protection pieces. It is worth a read.

So, too, is the textual context of his recent TV show on ABC which busted a few major myths. All this combined interested me in searching for more on Stossel. Apparently, some major players are on his butt. Just makes me even more interested in what he has to say!

January 26, 2004

Corn-Pone Opinions

Filed under: Mark Twain,Politics,Society-Culture — Bunker @ 7:12 pm

Mark Twain’s Corn-Pone Opinions: “Its name is Public Opinion. It is held in reverence. It settles everything. Some think it the Voice of God.”

I was surfing a bit last night and migrated to some Mark Twain sites. As I did so, his Cone-Pone Opinions piece caught my eye. I’ve read virtually everything published by Sam Clemens, from A Pen Warmed Up in Hell to Huckleberry Finn, although there are probably still many things I’ve missed. This one takes the winding route to a conclusion through down-home stories.

Of course, his wry humor has always been an attraction, but his insight is what always fascinated me most. He was the greatest observer of human nature ever. Ever. He had the ability to cut through the haze of perception with common-sensical logic, and could explain circumstances and human success/failure with either homespun anecdotes or high-minded rhetoric. And he always chose the more appropriate tone.

In this essay, Twain judges that people hold opinions based on the group they belong to. It would be unwise to do otherwise, culturally and financially. It addresses a subject I feel strongly about, and one Dave Barry talks about in one of my earlier posts: Group-think.

I don’t like groups. I belong to as few as possible, and am involved as little as need be. I don’t identify myself by any of these associations. Identification with a group requires subordination of one’s ideals which are not a part of that group’s reason for being. For example, Zell Miller is a Democrat. He has always been a Democrat. But he disagrees with some of the views of the Democratic Party. The DNC has concluded he shouldn’t be part of that organization. Even though he shares opinions on some 80-90% of the DNC platform, he is an outcast–you must support 100%. Diversity is for other people.

The same can be said for the Right-to-Life movement. You can agree with them that abortion is wrong, but you had better believe a woman has no right to terminate a pregnancy for any reason. Otherwise, you are an outcast and your opinions mean nothing. The Women’s Rights groups are polar opposite–abortion is okay regardless of circumstance.

I cannot think of a single group where this isn’t the case. Sure, many folks will proclaim a willingness to accept differing opinions. Eventually, though, someone who regularly disagrees, even if only on a single point, will be ostracized either de facto or de jure.

Opinion polls are the current rage. News shows devote a lot of time to various polls, and not simply the ones tracking the primaries. They have on-air polls for everything. Many web sites do the same. The psychology of people contributing responses must range from solid believers to folks simply adding their input to see what the results are. I have to wonder, though, how many folks engage in this activity to get a sense of what they should believe.

(Twain explored this a bit in his essay. And searching for more info on this work I ran across this other, very interesting site. This is a collection of essays written and posted by a group, and I intend to “join” this one by reading some more of their work tonight. They have an essay of their own posted regarding this psychology and Twain’s treatment, but I will let you read it for yourself. )

I believe Twain was correct. We all care about how people view us, to lesser or greater extent, and any personal feelings we have may be overcome without our even realizing it. The best we can hope to do is understand this, and try to keep our feet solidly on the ground.

Corn-pone opinions run rampant during political campaigns, and this election is far too important to allow ourselves to be swayed one way or the other by the desire to be part of a group. Personally, I do not trust any of the Democratic candidates other than Lieberman to continue doing what it takes to maintain our sovereignty. That is MY opinion. This weekend, I’ll have to defend it strongly against my in-laws!

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