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

May 31, 2004

Texas Stuff

Filed under: Society-Culture — Bunker @ 2:55 pm

Steven posts some trivia on everyone’s favorite State.

My daughter’s friends visited us in Dallas once, and one of the boys said he thought he’d rent a car and drive to El Paso to visit some friends while in Texas. The look on his face was priceless when I told him it would be about a 12-hour drive. “I thought El Paso was in Texas!”

Genetic Engineering

Filed under: Society-Culture — Bunker @ 2:21 pm

I ran across this on Drudge’s site.

My biggest concern regarding the issue of abortion is that it will eventually be used to pursue the perfect child. In combination with cloning, we could eventually see a society dominated by “Aryans”.

People who advocate organic foods and eschew the genetic engineering of plants to improve crops and help wipe out famine seem to be in favor of just the sort of thing reported in the Daily Mail.

Before anyone takes a stand one way or the other on the issue of abortion or cloning, I suggest they consider some of the very real possibilities.

I’m an Extremist?

Filed under: Society-Culture — Bunker @ 1:52 pm

I’ve been accused of being right-wing. I’m really not, except from the perspective of someone on the left. I am, simply, a believer in traditional values. In fact, thirty years ago, I would have been considered “preogressive.” It is a sign of how far our culture has shifted left that someone would consider me to be hard right.

I say I believe in traditional values. I don’t, however, insist others live the same values I live. The extremes both directions do that. I believe the Constitution means what it says. No interpretation necessary. The men who wrote it knew what they wanted to say, and said it. It is a living document, but it lives in the sense that it can be changed through a defined process. It is not malleable, to be changed by interpretation. And our government is supposed to follow the Constitution. Every bill, before it is signed, should be reviewed by the Supreme Court to ensure it complies with the Constitution. The biggest societal problems we have are a result of Congress making laws they are not authorized to pass. The government has no business being involved in social or cultural issues unless it is to enforce compliance with the Constitution. That is not a right-wing opinion; it is how our government was set up.

Here are some of the knee-jerk issues that tend to define people as fight or left, and my views on them.

Gay Marriage
Marriage is a cultural and societal institution. There is no reason for the government to be involved at all. In fact, the only way government is involved at all is through passage of bills affecting people based on their cultural status. State governments are involved through the issuance of marriage licenses. Why do I need the state’s approval of my marriage? If homosexuals commit to one another in a ceremony with friends and family, they are married. A piece of paper from the state serves only to provide access to legal status in other areas. It is a civil union just the same as a traditional marriage, and the government has no business being involved in either. Our Constitution doesn’t give the federal government any power at all in this. States retain that authority, and should never be involved in a social or cultural issue. That is fascism.

I believe abortion is wrong. I will not, however, impose my view on others. I’ve had to counsel couples who conceived without wanting to, and discussed my thoughts with them. I made it clear that it was their decision, and made sure the young woman involved understood that it needed to be a joint decision. The child was theirs, not hers. This is my complaint against the pro-choice advocates; they want the decision to be the woman’s only. Regardless, the states have authority to regulate medical issues, but the Feds don’t. The reason this is a political issue is that different states will choose to make abortion illegal, and the pro-choicers don’t want that. I also don’t believe it is a “health issue” which must be funded by the government.

Affirmative Action
I was an advocate of this forty years ago. Two generations have now been given these advantages and the time has come to eliminate them. It has done nothing but make things worse. Skin color has no bearing on the ability to work hard, or learn the ins and outs of being an entrepreneur. The playing field is level. You just must be willing to get in the game and take your lumps along with everyone else.

This simply follows Affirmative Action as a subset. State and local governments may wish to involve themselves in education, but our Federal Government has no mandate to do so. Every school district ends up with different funding depending on what the residents are willing to spend on education. But money isn’t the cure-all. As an example, the city I lived in before moving here had two large high schools. Both were funded identically, and had the same superintendent and school board. One was ranked near the top in the state, and the other was ranked near the bottom. Washington, DC, has one of the highest spending per capita in the country, but fails as a school district. The Federal Government can do nothing about any of this, and has no authority either. Communities must make decisions on such things because that’s where true knowledge of the situation exists.

Buying computers for students doesn’t do much good if they can’t read or write. And the quality of education was higher before computers were even invented.

Health Care
I’d really like someone to show me where this is in the Constitution.

Health care costs are rising. Surprise. So does everything else. Things were much cheaper fifty years ago. You went to the doctor only when you really needed to. Otherwise, Mom or Dad or Grandma took care of you and your illness. When you visited the doctor, you paid your $10 when you left. In the 1960s, doctors began accepting insurance claims. They then had to hire someone part-time to handle the insurance paperwork. As the insurance industry grew, everyone felt they needed health insurance. Doctors hired someone full-time to deal only with insurance. Costs went up. Lawsuits became popular, and another form of insurance became necessary–malpractice insurance.

Unfortunately, juries are willing to find for claimants even when negligence isn’t involved. I sat on a jury once where eleven of us voted to throw the case out. The twelfth kept saying, “He got hurt. Someone needs to pay him for getting injured.” Lawyers make fortunes finding jurors like that, and the rest of us pay for it in the doctor’s office.

For anyone who wants universal health care, I suggest you spend four years in the military. Going to the hospital is an unpleasant experience at best. When it’s “free”, everyone goes for everything. Have a splinter? Go to the emergency room. There is a reason hospitals in Canada and England have waiting lists for treatment.

International Relations
Why this is even an issue I can’t understand. The Federal Government is supposed to protect us from others, and be the unifying entity to protect our interests abroad. It isn’t supposed to request approval from any other country to do that. Obviously, good relations with other countries helps. But if they have interests in conflict with ours, our government must act in our interest, not theirs. The invasion of Iraq is a case in point, and used by many to pigeon-hole others as right or left. It is centrist to expect our government to do what is right for the US regardless of international opinion. If you are hard-core right, you would do this without even talking to other nations. If you are hard-core left, you wouldn’t do anything if another country thought you shouldn’t. Whether you agree with the war or not, the Federal Government did what it was supposed to do. A rare occurance, for sure.

I believe the government has no business being involved in your personal life. If you trample no one else’s rights, live on! When you endanger others, or prevent them from living their own life, the government needs to step in. Common courtesy and simple “Golden Rule” actions solve many problems. And prevent many others.

Now, all this sounds very right-wing to some of you, doesn’t it? That’s what I mean by how far our country has moved to the left. These are issues which wouldn’t even be questioned fifty years ago. Yet they are now considered radical right. But the biggest difference between folks like me and those on the left is that I don’t care if you agree or not. They insist you believe the way they do.

Otherwise, they call you a right-wing fascist.


Filed under: Golf — Bunker @ 10:53 am

I played again today, and there wasn’t any wind. Club selection was tough! Played well though.

In front of the green at #11, a par 3, there is a pond. As we walked between the bunkers and water one of my partners said, “That’s a pretty big snake.” Sticking his head out of a drain pipe in the water was a cottonmouth. He was young, or had just shed because his markings were very plain. It was obvious he wasn’t in a mood to be disturbed. I’ll remember to be a bit more careful around the brush near that hole from now on.

I flagged down a marshal and told him to warn others about the snake. “Oh, that’s just a water snake. They have the same markings as a cottonmouth.” I assured him I knew what I saw, and left it at that. I grew up in the south and have had plenty of confrontations with the specie.

A rattlesnake has a completely different personality. He will look at you, shake his tail, and say, “Aw, man. Don’t bother me. I’m just lying here trying to catch some rays!” Cottonmouths have an attitude. Get close to them and they try to stare you down. “Bring it on. You want some of this? I’ll be glad to dish it out. This is my turf, so tread lightly and get the hell out of here before I chase you out!”

May 30, 2004

Abu Ghraib

Filed under: International — Bunker @ 8:36 pm

Michael J. Totten has a link to video of the treatment of prisoners in Iraq.

At least it is finally ended.

More on Bias

Filed under: Media — Bunker @ 5:12 pm

In the last few days there have been numerous essays in the blogosphere and in more traditional web venues regarding media bias. I’ve written several times about this topic myself. Once, when I bemoaned the laziness of journalists who spend their days in hotels, then report from a rooftop, I got a response in the comments from Kevin Sites, who does freelance work around the world:

hey mike, before you take a broad brush about “cowardly journos” standing on top of 4 star hotel roofs rather than out in the thick of the shit–consider this: twenty-one journalists have died covering the war in iraq–including two cnn employees last night. can’t give you the number injured but it’s been plenty. also btwn 12-15 killed in afghanistan. friends and colleagues. maybe the bravest men and women you’ve never met. they go out without weapons, armed only with cameras and notepads, covering the news–so you can sit back in your armchair and develop your opinions. consider this one “not so lazy journo” trying to provide you with addl info so your opinions can be a bit more informed. soldiers aren’t the only ones making sacrifices out here. and btw, when this one ends you can be sure when the next one starts me and my colleagues will be there–well at least the ones who live through this one. Kevin Sites.

I wrote a follow-up, and now keep track of Kevin and his work. I still believe him to be a bit of a renegade, working on his own, and telling the stories of civilians caught up in a war zone. I have no doubt there are brave people doing the job, “armed only with cameras and notepads.” Yet the fact they carry no weapons actually makes them a little safer. The enemy looks upon them as tools.

I taught Honor & Ethics to freshmen and Military Theory to seniors at the Air Force Academy. I was also the Professional Ethics Advisor for one of the 40 cadet squadrons. That was a decade ago, but I doubt things have changed much in those years. I understand what is taught to military personnel, and what their superiors expect of them. The hair on the back of my neck bristles when I see something in the media that implies a lack of honor and integrity in the military. I know better.

The article Steven cites mentions a program called Ethics in America. I used tapes of this program in class to generate discussion. I recommend both episodes for your viewing online.

Military professionals view ethical standards as essential to their function. They deal with problems such as Abu Ghraib and move on. An indicator that bias has been exorcised from journalism will be when they can do the same.

May 29, 2004

A Different Abu Ghraib Story

Filed under: International — Bunker @ 7:14 pm

The Heritage Foundation has a link to this film on altruism in the US.

Don North’s documentary Remembering Saddam is the story of seven Baghdad merchants who incurred the wrath of Saddam. Nine years ago, after spending a year in the infamous Abu Ghraib prison, their right hands were surgically removed as part of an effort to blame small businessmen for Iraq’s collapsing economy. Each man tells his story and friends, wives, and children recall their experiences under the former dictator.

The film is 40 minutes long, so find the time to watch. You probably won’t see it on television. No newsroom will touch it. Daniel Henninger has an article for you if you can’t spare the time.

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