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The Blogging Epic, Part Eight: The Cantina Patrons

Posted by Adam Graham on December 10, 2005

Continued from Part Seven:

To find out how this all started, see Part One

Before I begin responding to the mostly rowdy patron’s at Pam’s House Blend, I realized there was one other significant point of Russ’ I didn’t cover. Here it is:

Furthermore, our rights ARE subject to change and amendment, regardless of the existence of God or not. We used to have the right to own slaves, then we didn’t. We used to have the right to drink beer, then that right was taken, then it was given back. Women used to not have the right to vote, but then it was granted. All of this was done by changes and amendments and a Supreme Court that views the Constitution, not the Bible, as the supreme law of the land.

I think what Russ and I have is a fundamental misunderstanding of what rights we have. The key point to remember with the left is they make a lot of things “rights” that really aren’t. First of all, there is no right to drink beer. Today, the State of Idaho could ban beer. The 21st Amendment which repealed prohibition says clearly:

The transportation or importation into any State, Territory, or possession of the United States for delivery or use therein of intoxicating liquors, in violation of the laws thereof, is hereby prohibited.

Secondly, when I refer to our rights being from God, I harken back to the Declaration that tells us that we are endowed by our creator with certain unalienable rights. As such these rights exist whether they are recognized by the state, because they don’t depend on the State’s recognition for them to legitimately be our rights. As Thomas Jefferson said:

Can the liberties of a nation be secure when we have removed a conviction that these liberties are the gift of God?

Part of the problem and a real danger with the left is how it creates new rights out of thin air. In the Universal Declaration of Human Rights numerous rights are spelled out such as the right to Social Security. (Article 22), the Right to Vacation and Holidays (Article 24), the Right to Education. (Article 26), the right to Participate in the Arts (Article 27), and the right to Personality Development (Article 29). While such things may or may not be things the state should promote, they’re certainly not on par with the rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. What has happened is that through a multiplication of rights, the left has denigrated the term. Its simply a higher legislation.

The founders gave us simple list of rights in the Declaration and told us they were from the Creator. (Life, liberty, and happiness.) and then left the rest to the States and people to deal with throughout our history. The danger of legislating so many rights is that we devalue them, so that in the process of creating new rights, we’ll put them on the same station as those that truly are important and vital to our society.

Now that that’s done, lets move over to the commenters.

Lets start off with Holly from Julien’s List:

Thanks Russ! Please tell Adam that Christian-specific God stuff in public places makes many non-Christians feel as if they’re being raped or poisoned.

I’ll say this as nicely as possible. Many Non-Christians need to get over it. There’s an LDS book section at Wal-Mart, there’s Menorahs on Captiol Hill and many government buildings. The culture is filled with pagan and satanic imagery during the Halloween season. Yet, somehow I manage to survive without filing a single lawsuit and rarely even complain about it. Most of it doesn’t even really bother me.

Russ decided to respond to Holly.

Holly, he won’t get it. Adam takes his Kool-Aid in an IV drip. He can’t see the point because in his mind, his God is the right God and the rest of us are wrong.

Ah, and the left can’t see its wrong because it desperately wants there to be no God or no effective God. They’ve come to save us, you see. With all those special new rights. They’ve even come to save us from ourselves, subverting our Constitution in the name of making our society better and saying the Constitution’s living and growing.

Russ almost grasps a key fact in here, though. The reason we disagree comes down to a fundamental issue of worldviews. Russ views the world through a liberal humanist lense and I through a traditional Christian lense. Thus for either of us to ever change the other’s view on anything, we have to change the way the other person’s view of the world. Thus why I generally don’t engage in these discussions. This one was just too tempting.

I thought I’ve made some great points in this series, but I doubt any of it will pursuade Russ. He’ll either come up with a response or just ignore it.

I believe that the freedom of religion most Evangelicals pay lip service unto just means “okay, we’ll tolerate your heretical beliefs, so long as you recognize ours are superior.”

Talk about persecution complex. Charles Krauthammer (who is Jewish) wrote:

The attempts to de-Christianize Christmas are as absurd as they are relentless. The United States today is the most tolerant and diverse society in history. It celebrates all faiths with an open heart and open-mindedness that, compared to even the most advanced countries in Europe, are unique.

Rabbi Daniel Lapin opposes the War on Christmas and attempts at secularization. He writes

We Jews aren’t chic any longer. Not too many people care for Jews these days. Europe, including England, makes little secret of how it feels towards Jews. If possible, they care even less for Israel. All Moslem countries, more than a billion angry people frequently at one another’s necks, are magically unified over hatred for Jews and resentment over that little patch of sand in the Middle East which Jews turned into a country. Much of Africa and most of Russia feels the same way. Hate the Jews.

It is very challenging for a small group of people to survive with no friends.

But wait! There is one group of people who unconditionally love Jews and the Land of Israel. These people are called Christian conservatives. They are made up of Catholics, and Protestants, Baptists and Lutherans and many others. Although theologies differ widely, they all share a deep conviction that God gave the Ten Commandments to Moses on Mount Sinai. They all fervently believe that in so doing, God presented humanity with a blueprint for life. Needless to say, these views should be shared by every Jew committed to his faith.

Also for more on this subject see Part Four to see why the fear of theocracy is a very silly one. There’s not enough consensus among Christians as to who the heretics are to begin cordoning off who is and who isn’t.

Oddjob took issue with my attacks on Sweden, pointing out that Sweden had an established church. Indeed, Sweden still has an official church. This would be a case against establishing an offical state church. As this is not my position, its a red herring and is also not a possibility.

The establishment of a church in Great Britain has certainly not done wonders for Britain where the percentage of Brits who attend Church stands around 14%. As a report observes, “Organized religion in the UK has severely declined to the point where it is generally overlooked and ignored.” The Church of England is thus kind of like the royal family, just without the juicy sex scandals.

Odd job went on to suggest that I needed to change my argument:

If Adam is honest with himself, instead of trying to support an imaginary America that never existed, he’ll start from first premises.

As a Fundamentalist Christian (or so I assume him to be), that necessarily means the Bible takes preeminence over everything else. If one sits down and reads it thoroughly and searchingly, sooner or later one realizes that in the entire thing there is no support for any form of government except one:


Well, I don’t agree that the Bible says only theocracy is acceptable, but he hits a point for the leftists. Why instead of claiming that guys who lived 200 hundred years ago thought homosexuals should get married through stretching our Constitution to the point of meaningless in the “Living Constitution” doctrine, why doesn’t the left admits it wants to remake our country in its own image?

One reason: they can’t get the votes. That’s why they rely on the courts.

Russ responds to a libertarian commenter (our buddy Michael) with this:

I agree, Michael. A purely socialist government would be bad for economic freedom. And a purely capitalistic government would be equally bad (history has proven it). That’s why I favor just enough government oversight, regulation, and social safety net to keep corporations honest, sick people tended to, elderly people cared for, poor people fed, schoolchildren educated, and opportunity afforded equally to all, but not so much as to unduly restrict free economic exercise. You know, the kind of system the US had between the New Deal and the Reagan administration, when we became the dominant economic superpower, and you and plenty of others became multimillionaires while more and more people escaped poverty and there was a solid middle class.

So, what does want to go back to? Jimmy Carter and the great Malaise. Lets go ahead and talk about taxes. Before Reagan took office the top marginal tax rate was 70%. Before the Kennedy-Johnson years, it stood at 91%. At the height of the FDR, the top marginal rate was 94%. Does Russ really want to take us back there?

The Prime Rate hit 21.50% during the Carter administration, with high inflation. That’s where Russ wants to go back to. Well, I don’t.

Russ also said later on that its wrong to think that “I think it’s dandy for irresponsible young women to have had eleven first trimester abortions.”

I would love to hear his explanation of why he doesn’t. After all, if its just a woman’s body than what does it matter whether its one or one hundred?

Walt of Wally Whateley’s House of Horrors had this to say:

Having read Adam Graham’s screed, I really don’t think I’d count him as someone I’d want to call a friend. He sounds like one of those Phelpsians who prays for his enemies’ deaths.

I’ve had former “friends” who revealed to me that they thought that way, and I responded correctly, by deleting them from my address book, Christmas card list, and my life.

Nice to know you practice tolerance and understanding. By the way, I’ve actually gotten angry e-mails from a member of the Phelps family.

Well, that’s about it. Thus, in eight parts ends the Blogging Epic. Thanks for reading.


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The Blogging Epic, Part Seven: Tying Up all the Loose Ends

Posted by Adam Graham on December 7, 2005

Continued from Part Six.

If you want to understand how this all started, see Part One.

Continuing to respond to Russ’ post at Pam’s, we’ve got three loose ends to tie up. First of all, aren’t we over-reacting?.

First, Russ in what passes for a paragraph goes ahead and explains how much we Christians have and ought not to be worrying about cultural decline:

And woe to the poor persecuted Christians, what with their lighted cross overlooking Boise, little crosses along nearly every roadside where a Christian has wrecked (why are y’all such bad drivers, anyway? I never see any Stars of David or Buddhas marking roadside crash sites), a church steeple every four blocks, massive scripture readerboards alongside the federal highway system, federal holidays marking the birth of your savior (why don’t we get Mohammed’s birthday as a day off?), almost every calendar made indicates your religious holidays, your holy book in every hotel room, TV shows like “Reba”, “Touched by an Angel”, “Three Wishes”, “7th Heaven” and other very Christian-friendly shows on network TV, worldwide Christian broadcast channels, popular musicians and sports figures giving “shout-outs” to Jesus at every awards show, your holy symbol is a popular piece of jewelry worn by many, missionaries knocking on doors and leaving little Jesus pamphlets in phone books, no politician can ever hope to be elected to national office without at least lip service to your religion (no atheist stands a chance in politics, because he won’t affirm the popular superstitions), your Bible stories are inextricably woven into the fabric of our culture, popular newsmagazines like Time and Newsweek devoting cover stories to Jesus, popular broadcast TV news shows running specials on Christian issues (Barbara Walters’ next special is about Heaven) and you’ve still got (in my opinion, unconstitutionally) prayers by chaplains to begin Congress, oaths sworn in court on your holy book, recognition of your deity on the currency, your Ten Commandments still displayed (in a limited fashion) around courthouses, and the leader of the country claiming he’s ordained by God. Christians complaining about persecution in America are like white college males complaining there’s no White Student Union on campus.

First of all, its bad form to use an example something that you’re attacking. True enough, Russ’ post was BEFORE American Atheists went nuts and sued to have the crosses pulled off the Utah Highway system , but other things like the Ten Commandments, Chaplain Prayers are all on the hit list. Therefore, we need to just be quiet until they take those, too.

I find laughable his reference of news magazines. (TV and Print.) These specials attack the fundamentals of the Christian faith and serve as showcases for the most heretical theories about Christ. Russ might as well have said, “You Republicans are really paranoid about Michael Moore hating George Bush. For crying out loud, Moore made a movie about the guy!”

As for TV Shows, consider some of them:

Three Wishes

NBC may be struggling this season, but the peacock network has a hit on their hands with the Friday night reality show Three Wishes. On Three Wishes, host Amy Grant (Yes, the music star) travels to communities across America to grant wishes to deserving people. Break out the Kleenex, people! And good news, ladies. Carter Oosterhouse, the hunky carpenter from TLC’s Trading Spaces, is featured as a consultant on the show.

So that’s a Christian TV show. Of course if a liberal Atheist had the show, he’d be going around finding government programs for three deserving or lobbying the government to create the programs at taxpayer expense. I didn’t know Richard Simmons’ The Dreammaker was Christian based. Probably, its just the fact that Amy Grant’s a Christian and the networks LET her be on the air for any project, no matter how secular. “Reba” is hardly Pastor Greg either with a dysfunctional family plot. Touched by An Angel has been off the air for 4 years now. Seventh Heaven is going off and while the main character’s a minister. For a pro-Christian show, it ends with support for one of the main characters converting to Judaism. More at Plugged In. So, yeah we should feel comfortable because there are TV shows that encourage Christian guys to sell out their faith for a hot girl. Yeah, makes sense.

Even if we should be comforted, how many hours of people acting lude, bad, profane, and immoral on Television do you have? You want to put religion in a ghetto, and leave it to itself. Its not something we can agree to.

Anyway, another point by Russ:

You mischaracterize “the left” as well. No one on my side argues that God is a cancer. In fact, many many lefties are people with as deep a faith in God and Jesus as you. They just understand that their belief is their opinion, not a nationally-recognized fact that should be promoted by government.

I’m sorry, Russ. I just don’t see it. We have Howard Dean’s conversion from Episcopaleanism because the Episcopal Church opposed a bikepath on their property (behold the depth of his religious conviction.) And look whose making the argument? The guy who thinks a marginal Christian in any role on television is a sign of the dominance of Christianity in America.

I know there are some true Christians on the left, I won’t deny that. But I don’t see them in the National political leadership and I don’t see them on the blogosphere.

What’s happened Russ is that you guys have lost the people of faith. My Mom’s family were Democrats. My dad never voted for a Republican until 1992. The Democrats by allying themselves with the ACLU have set themselves against church-going folk in America and they can’t overcome that with a scheme or a plan, its a huge problem.

The Democrats are going with old line Episcopal/Heroidan stuff to show their piety. People don’t buy it. Evangelicalism is a very wholistic faith. Its the idea that faith in Jesus Christ penetrates every area of your life. That’s why Christian books are published on all kinds of topics. People want to understand how to do things from a biblical perspective. The idea that faith should not influence the government doesn’t sell.

And it shouldn’t. Martin Luther King called the Church the “conscience of the state” and it is a noble calling that must not be abandonned to join the secularist crusade.

You see prayer in public school as a healthy ritual for children; I see the children of Wiccans, Buddhists, Muslims, and Atheists forced to endure government-sponsored indoctrination into Judeo-Christian ideals (how am I supposed to convince my kid that belief in God is a foolish superstition when his school and his government are constantly telling him there is a God?)

Two solutions. First of all, support School Choice. As your favorite philosopher, Confucius said, “Don’t do to others what you would not want done to yourself.” If you wouldn’t like to have your (non-existent) kid forced to learn about my view of God than don’t make Christians be forced into a school that teaches humanism. We raise tax money for education, not for the benefit of Teacher’s unions. Let you send your kid to a secular school and send mine to a Christian school.

Rabbi Schmuley Boteach explains that in Europe which you say we need to become more like, school choice is the rule:

When I resided in England, as the rabbi at Oxford University for 11 years, my children attended some of the best Jewish day schools in the world. The cost to me was minimal because the Jewish day schools have all of their secular studies subsidized by the government while the religious studies are, of course, paid for by the parents. Parents in Israel, of course, have it much better. As Jewish parents in a Jewish state they can send their kids to the most religious day schools at practically no cost, their tax dollars being used, rightly, to fund their children’s complete education.

But even solidly secular countries like Canada and France, whom Americans perceive as being hostile to religion, all have government subsidies for religious schools. Only America, the most religious of them all, brutally punishes religious parents by not allowing their hard-earned tax dollars to fund their children’s parochial schools.

Secondly, you can always homeschool, take charge of your kids education. A lot of Conservative Christian parents have done it.

Finally, we have this little tidbit from Russ:

Iran’s done a pretty good job of de-secularizing their state and recognizing God, don’t you think? (Hey, that’s as reasonable a comparison to the right’s God fetish as your comparison of lefty secularism to Sweden.)

Now, I find this interesting. First of all, I established in Part 4 that it was a quite faulty tactic to compare one sect’s domination of a country to an inter-denominational coalition in Part 4. But does the left want us to become like Sweden?

Consider the end of Radical Russ’ post:

Our nation’s continued evolution from religious fanaticism to enlightened reason…Compared to most other Western countries, we still have a long way to go.

So, by other Western Country does Russ mean “Western Countries other than Sweden?” We hear this type of stuff from the left all the time about how we need to be more advanced like other countries around the world who accept homosexuality, have totally neutered the church’s role in government. But, yet when we look at those same governments we’re told, “No! We’ll never do anything like that.” And then a few paragraphs later, they’ll tell you how we need to be more like all those other countries again.

Do I think Russ will be the one to favor locking me up and throwing away the key for disagreeing with homosexuality? Of course not. But you see, Russ will not be the one making the decision. When a movement sweeps into power, you have to ask, what’s the movement’s history? What has it done before when its came to power.

The Left will always tell you how we should be more like the Europeans or Canadians, or Australians, but they don’t want you to talk about what these regimes actually DO in power. You’re just jumping to conclusions. That could never happen here. I wonder if that Swedish pastor ever thought that.

Well, that’s about all. There’s a few minor points, but they’re really not worth extending this. I promised to respond to some of the commenters on Pam’s and I’ll do that tonight as we rap up the Blogging Epic.

Continued in Part Eight.


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The Blogging Epic, Part Six: Why Does It Matter?

Posted by Adam Graham on December 5, 2005

Continued from Part Five

To understand what all these posts are about see Part One

Now, as I continue to respond to Russ we move into more close quarter combat on the issue of why issues that matter to religious Conservatives matter.

Underlying this are three different issues. Most of the things, the left has achieved have been through an unconstitutional abuse of power in the federal courts. Now, if one concludes that the Constitution allows something, than it should be allowed regardless of the merits of the particular law. There are a lot of silly laws in our country, but being silly or outdated doesn’t make it unconstitutional. That’s why, even though I oppose drugs, I oppose federal drug laws or overturning state laws on medical marijuana. I may disagree with the policy, but its the right of the people to make their own laws.

The other point is one I addressed. If you believe God is a cancer that must be excised, a tumor that must be removed from our nation’s public life (and despite Russ’ denials, the facts speak for themselves) as if God is harmful to our nation, than by principle, I’m going to disagree with you.

Having said that, lets take these paragraphs one by one:

The Ten Commandments in courthouses? Why? The Ten Commandments aren’t laws. Cops can’t arrest me for not honoring my mother and father or having any other Gods before Him. Whether they are displayed or not doesn’t change our legal system one iota, for our laws are based on secualar, not religious, authority. What demonstrable harm can you show from not displaying the Ten Commandments?

What demonstatable harm can you show from DISPLAYING the Ten Commandments. 12 of the 13 Colonies approved the Ten Commandments verbetim into their code of laws. Our legal system is grounded in the Ten Commandments. Anyone who understand the history of common and our legal traditions understands that. If we forget who we’ve been and where we come from, how will we know where we’re going?

I know the presence of the Ten Commandments in a Courthouse is intimidating. How dare someone be so insensitive as to post, “Thou shalt not bear false witness” in a room filled everyday by lawyers. Still, its foundational to our law.

Keeping “Under God” in the Pledge of Allegiance? Why? Is an American Buddhist less less patriotic than a Christian? Can an atheist not show allegiance to country? If we don’t say “under God”, is He going to get angry and send a record number of hurricanes at us? (Whoops, bad hypothetical…) What terrible thing would happen if we didn’t say “under God”?

Same question as the last paragraph. What horrible thing do you think is going to happen if we don’t take it out? You’re giving no reason why it should be. As to your question, I won’t answer, I’ll leave that to George Washington:

Of all the dispositions and habits which lead to political prosperity, Religion and morality are indispensable supports. In vain would that man claim the tribute of Patriotism who should labour to subvert these great Pillars of human happiness, these firmest props of the duties of Men and citizens.

The mere Politician, equally with the pious man ought to respect and to cherish them. A volume could not trace all their connections with private and public felicity. Let it simply be asked where is the security for property, for reputation, for life, if the sense of religious obligation desert the oaths, which are the instruments of investigation in Courts of Justice? And let us with caution indulge the supposition that morality can be maintained without religion. Whatever may be conceded to the influence of refined education on minds of peculiar structure, reason and experience both forbid us to expect that National morality can prevail in exclusion of religious principle.

Is the Atheist or Buddhist less patriotic in general? I don’t think so. Many people who don’t believe in God still respect the traditions of the country they live in. There are people in this country who won’t stand for the national anthem. They won’t celebrate the 4th of July. They don’t think America is a good country. Are they unpatriotic?

Patriotism is defined as “Love of and devotion to one’s country.” So, maybe you could say that you guys are patriotic like Bizarro from the Superman Series is a good guy at heart. Just what he thinks is good will destroy those around him.

Fighting embryonic stem-cell research and abortion? Why? Name one American citizen that’s been harmed by either. Oh, I know, 40 million “murdered womb babies”, right? Ah, but fetuses are not American citizens. According to the Constitution, they have to have been BORN in America or naturalized to be a citizen (good thing, too, or any illegal immigrants who merely conceive on American soil would then be carrying an American citizen fetus, who’d be a citizen even if he were born back in Mexico).

The poet John Donne wrote, “any man’s death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind.” Leaving said the unborn children, our friends at Real Choice daily tell the stories of women whose lives have been cut short by safe and legal abortion. In addition, millions of women carry scars and go through post-abortion syndrome with its physical and emotional side effects. Or are women who regret and have problems after their abortion not citizens?

In addition, the destruction of human life puts a callous on our soul. As a society, we’ve taken those who are most innocent, most fragile, and most vulnerable and destroyed them. There have been some ground-breaking stories on abortion and child abuse. What type of mother does what Amy Richards did and abort two of her three healthy triplets because she doesn’t want buy big jars of mayonaise? Or what kind of women gets an abortion so she can fit into a wedding dress.

It is the cheapening of human life. So, it is done so lightly and so easy. Its killing for convenience. And there’s a question as to why we care about it? It is a choice between remaining human or becoming ghouls. Its rotting our souls, in a similar way to slavery did. As Jefferson described it:

The whole commerce between master and slave is a perpetual exercise of the most boisterous passions, the most unremitting despotism on the one part, and degrading submission on the other. Our children see this and learn to imitate it; for man is an imitative animal. This quality is the germ of all education in him. From his cradle to his grave he is learning to do what he sees others do. If a parent could find no motive either in his philanthropy or his self-love for restraining the intemperance of passion towards his slave, it should always be a sufficient one that his child is present. But generally it is not sufficient. The parent storms, the child looks on, catches the lineaments of his wrath, puts on the same airs in the circle of smaller slaves, gives a loose rein to the worst of passions and thus nursed, educated and daily exercised in tyranny, can not but be stamped by it with odious peculiarities.

And like Jefferson I reflect “that God is just and his justice cannot sleep forever.”

Fighting gay marriage and gay rights? Why? What heterosexual’s rights or what straight marriage is negatively affected by allowing gay people the same rights?

The reason you support gay marriage is that we disagree on what government recognition of marriage is even about.

You believe government recognition of marriage is about equality and letting any group of consenting adults enter into any relationship they want.

I believe believe government recognition of marriage is honestly about preserving our society. The marriage-based two parent hetrosexual family is the foundation block of a sound society. It is utter folly to begin playing affirmative action games with it.

When marriage can mean anything, it means nothing at all. If marriage means three guys and a girl in a wedded bliss, or six guys, or an orgy, it really doesn’t mean anything at all. In fact, it just becomes a way to get a tax deduction.

Love may be part of marriage, but the state isn’t in the marriage because of love. I love my mother, I love my family. I’ve got good friends and that doesn’t need state recognition. Your personal relationships and emotional feelings don’t need the stamp of the state!

To understand what you’re saying, lets make a comparison to tax policy. Its tax deductible to make gifts to charitable organizations, even if you’re getting a Thank you present back. Lets say I decide, “Its discriminatory against people who don’t give charitably to deny them this tax deduction. People who go down to a local grocery store are funding their economy, so all purchases to grocery stores or places that employ people should be tax deductible.”

Am I being less discrimatory? Yes. But am I ignoring the reason for the tax deduction in the first place? Absolutely. In the name of non-discrimination, I’m eliminating the financial incentive for people to be charitable which is the whole purpose of that deduction.

The purpose of the state recognizing hetrosexual marriage is because hetrosexuals living together are going to have sex and sex may produce babies. Babies need healthy, stable homes which isn’t accomplished by mom shacking up with a new man every few months. Now, not every hetrosexual couple produces babies, but hetrosexual marriage ideally also produces monogamy which is very important to the stability of society.

A person whose not married is going to be more likely to get someone pregnant out of wedlock. In such a way, it harnesses sexual desire within the marriage bed and keeps it away from areas where it can lead to illegitimate children. Now, does it always work? No. No system’s perfect and marriage that involves human beings is one of those systems, but it works better than the alternative of free love and publicly accepted infidelity. Marriage in our society isn’t working the way it should because its been broken by a lot of things including loose divorce laws and the sexual revolution.

Whether Homosexuals are faithful or not, we honestly couldn’t care less. Indeed, there’s no evidence that gay marriage will lead to Monogamy. Homosexual author Dan Savage has said marriage doesn’t have to mean monogamy. In fact, according to one study those in “steady relationships” tended to have three times more sexual partners, thus increasing public health risk. Given that and that no one on the left seems to be able to draw a dividing line as to how far society will sink. (See this article from last year, and that pretty well sums up, why I oppose gay marriage.

But, what about Russ’ comments on Sweden and where our rights come from?

Don’t worry, I’ll tie up all the loose ends in part seven.

Part Seven.

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The Blogging Epic, Part Five: “But the Majority’s Wrong Sometimes”

Posted by Adam Graham on December 3, 2005

Continued from Part Four.

To understand what the series is about, see Part One.

Another one of Russ’ big points regards the Majority:

The Constitution is all about majority rule with respect for minority rights. One of those minority rights is the free exercise of religion or the freedom from religion with a government neutral to religion so as to prevent state endorsement of one faith or state persecution of another. What you’re advocating, with your line about “you guys have gotten… next to nothing through the democratic political process” is the idea of tyranny of the majority. The majority is Christian, therefore government should espouse Christianity. The majority thinks there should be prayer in schools, so be it. The majority thinks gay marriage is wrong, so gays should be treated as second-class citizens. Well, the majority also thought women shouldn’t vote, alcohol should be federally prohibited, and blacks shouldn’t integrate with white society, too.

I would agree in part with Russ that the Majority isn’t always right. The Majority is not God. My viewpoint are not right because the majority holds them. The Majority, of course gets it wrong from time to time.

There are two points that have to be made on this:

First of all, isn’t a little bit hypocritical for the guy who created “The Bush Approval Map” to show us how Bush is a bad president becuase so many people think so to talk about how wrong the Majority is. Indeed, to listen to left, if the Majority vote someone down they are bad people and failures at life. (See Alan Keyes in 2004 and Brandi Swindell.) In addition the US was excoriated by the left in the ’80s for opposing various Central American strongmen who happened at one time or another to win an election and now the Bush administration is getting the same treatment over Hugh Chavez because he was elected by the Majority even if he harms US interest.

The point, I had on the Majority is larger than the typical appeal to popularity that Russ makes it out to be. Its about the type of nation we are.

Remember, earlier, we were told, “The genius of the Founders was recognizing that the only legitimate government derives its authority from the just consent of the people, not ordination from somebody’s God.” When we realize that all of these court rulings come as a result of the Living Constitution theory which tells us the Constitution changes as society does, not just what’s written down, we come to a most startling revelation. If the Majority does not rule and the Constitution as written does not rule. Then who does? The judges. Those who’ve come beyond the scope of their office to remake society in their own image.

The left, which constantly warns us of American imperialism in Iraq because of all the (mostly non-Iraqis) insurgents who don’t want us there, seem quite unaware of their own intellectual and legal imperialism. Many leftists are aghast at the stories of European imperialism in places like India despite brutal and cruel customs that were ended such as Indian women being forced to throw themselves alive onto their husband’s funeral bier. Yet, the left is trying to impose standards, beliefs, and a view of the World on a majority that isn’t willing to accept it and their shocked by the reaction of the rest of us.

The difference between legitimate activism and the strong-armed dictatorships of the past is the respect for the will of the Majority. Russ cited as examples of situations were the Majority got it wrong, prohibition and the refusal to allow women to vote. Both those who favored legal alcohol and those who believed women should vote worked through the Democratic process to achieve victory. While Brown v. Board of Education was somewhat of a departure from using the democratic process alone to achieve results, the Supreme Court was correct under the plain text of the 14th Amendment and in addition was being more of a thermometar of public opinion, not going counter to it. By the time that Brown, came down, Jackie Robinson was in his 8th season with the Brooklyn Dodgers. Full victory for the Civil Rights movement wouldn’t be achieved until the passage of the 1964 Civil Rights Act which was passed through the Democratic process.

If you want to be ruled by unelected elites, then support the living Constitution and the viewpoint of Radical Russ. However, if you believe that the people should govern themselves in accordance with the limits applied by the law and the Written Constitution, then we can be free people. I would rather deal with the consequences of the people’s mistakes rather than living in a society where all the most important decisions are decided by 9 robed dictators.

Now, why are all these things that Christians care about so important? Whether the rulings are legitimate or legal or not, why does it matter what’s on our coinage or whether abortion’s legal or not? Good questions.

The answers will be in part six.


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The Blogging Epic, Part Four: The Impossibility of Theocracy

Posted by Adam Graham on December 3, 2005

Continued from Part Three.

To understand what the series is about, see Part One

One of Russ’ huge concerns is the threat of a theocracy. From the comments in his original post:

A secular government does nothing to prevent the worship of your God, but a theocratic government will do great injury to the worship of any God but the state’s. Separation of church and state exists to protect the church, not the state.

He goes on further in his other post:

In fact, history shows that the more intertwined church and state become, the worse government becomes and the more tyrannical the state becomes. Iran’s done a pretty good job of de-secularizing their state and recognizing God, don’t you think?

He’s right about the purpose of the goal being to protect the Church from the state, but I don’t think he fully understands this.

Giving this issue some thought, it occurred to me that the left banties about the word, “Theocracy” quite a bit, but doesn’t understand it. If they did, they’d understand that a theocracy can’t happen in America and they would actually understand the first amendment.

Lets examine Iran. In Iran, Islam isn’t the official religion, Shi’ite Islam is. Sunni Muslims are considered to not be “followers of True Islam”.

What were the founders concerned about when they wrote the first Amendment? They were thinking of the Church of England in Britain which like the Catholic Church in other countries persecuted dissenting churches. This is what led to Jefferson’s statement on the Seperation of Church and State.

Jefferson’s words are found nowhere in the Constitution. Jefferson didn’t sign the Constitution, but was an ambassador in France. Still, the greatest problem with the left is perhaps that they’ve confused “The Seperation of Church and State” with “The Seperation of God and State.”

The founder’s concern was not with the dangerous influence of religion, but of the ability of one religious group to squash another through wielding political power in that union of Church and State. God, himself, religion itself was considered a good thing.

Washington said “religion and morality” are indispensable supports. President Adams in 1798 said, “Our constitution was made only for a religious and moral people and is unsuitable for any other.”

John Adams wrote to Thomas Jefferson on June 28, 1813:

“The General principles on which the Fathers achieved Independence, were the only Principles in which that beautiful Assembly of young gentlemen could Unite, and these Principles only could be attended by them in their address, or by me in my answer. And what were these Principles? The General principles of Christianity in which all those Sects were United;…

“Now I will avow, that I then believed and now believe that those general principles of Christianity are as eternal and immutable, as the existence and attributes of God…”

(Sources for these quotes, “Our Sacred Honor, Editted by Bill Bennett”)

Benjamin Fraklin in his call for prayer at the Constitutional Convention:

I have lived, Sir, a long time and the longer I live, the more convincing proofs I see of this truth — that God governs in the affairs of men. And if a sparrow cannot fall to the ground without his notice, is it probable that an empire can rise without his aid? We have been assured, Sir, in the sacred writings that “except the Lord build they labor in vain that build it.” I firmly believe this; and I also believe that without his concurring aid we shall succeed in this political building no better than the Builders of Babel: We shall be divided by our little partial local interests; our projects will be confounded, and we ourselves shall be become a reproach and a bye word down to future age. And what is worse, mankind may hereafter this unfortunate instance, despair of establishing Governments by Human Wisdom, and leave it to chance, war, and conquest.

So, this all goes to prove that God was not viewed as some enemy to be aborred, any danger that had to be checked was seen in large churches that took over government and persecuted other sects through the influence they excercised as part of the state.

Is there a danger of such a thing happening in America? Those who think so are either ignorant or dishonest. Lets take a look at some simple facts:

I’m a member of a Church of God (Anderson) with Pentecostal heritage. Brandi Swindell goes to the Vineyard. Anthony Harper at the Treasure Valley Christian News is Baptist. The Barrets who are a family that’s strongly active in local Conservative pro-life/homeschooling activism are Reformed. Nationally, James Dobson is a Methodist, Alan Keyes and my good friend, David Oatney are Catholics. Also, part of the religious Conservative movement is Rabbi Daniel Lapin. Many Conservatives such as Ken at Oblogatory Anecdotes are mormon.

Now, exactly how is such a disparate group to form a state church? James Madison said the key to guaranteeing our security is that “ambition must be made to combat ambition.” You have this group of people we call the Religious Right, but for those who look past the label, you see there’s a lot of complexity that can never fit together into a theocracy. There are more than 700 sects of Christianity in this country. The difficulty in mobilizing voters across that many denominational lines as well as non-denominational groups should suggest something.

Russ, has in the past admitted that he didn’t know much about the difference of the last days views among Christians. If you understand the differences between different sects and groups, you begin to understand how limited the agenda of religious conservatives must be.

For example, fundamentalists tend to oppose gambling, while Catholics don’t view it as a vice. Mormons tend to be hardline against tobacco and alcohol and willing to right that into law, while the Reformed don’t view tobacco as a sin. The threat of any religion or any group coming to force the opinion of everyone to conform to all is almost nil because the “Religious Right” is divided on so many issues. There’s a basic understanding on the importance of the sanctity of human life, the family, and the acknowledgement of God in the public square.

Russ alleges all of the issues that religious conservatives are concerned with are the result of religious conviction without thought:

All of these issues (except perhaps abortion; there are pro-life atheists) are only controversial to those who place their personal religious opinions based on Biblical scripture above the constitutional law of the land. Religion tells you that if you don’t put religion first, bad things will happen. No proof required, no skepticism allowed. It is its own tautological argument — “the religion is true cuz it’s in the Bible, the Bible is true because God wrote it, God exists because the religion says so.”

The good news about this acknowledgement of God in the general as a rule that Religious Conservatives operate on and are unified by is that this completely nullifies the threat of Theocracy. Indeed, the issues that we have before us are not ones that most people of any faith would disagree on. Islam recognize the Ten Commandments. (Indeed the person who hosted Brandi Swindell’s victory party was the Muslim operator of Casba’s.) Hindus shouldn’t have a problem with any Commandment outside of the first two. Even an Atheist wrote a letter to the Editor, defending the Ten Commandments monument.

Jay Tea, an agnostic on Wizbang even defended Christmas. There are pro-life Atheists (as Russ noted in his post), as well as pro-life gays, pro-life Pagans, and Buddhists. On gay marriage, that is opposed by the basic teachings of Hinduism, Buddhism, Judaism, and Islam. Even, 48% of Democrats oppose Same Sex Marriage according to a Pew Research Poll.

The idea of a theocracy isn’t going to happen in America. Yes, you can find fringe nuts out their advocating it, but the mainstream Religious Conservative agenda is not theocracy, it is a restoration of key principles that sustain our society and holding on to key traditions. It is in many cases the Majority viewpoint, not the fringe as Pam has alleged. When more than 75% of the people support the public display of the Ten Commandments, its not the support of the Commandments who are fringe nuts.

But what if the Majority’s wrong? Well, that’s something I’ll talk about in Part Five.

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The Blogging Epic: Part Three: Legitimate Law

Posted by Adam Graham on December 3, 2005

Contiued from Part Two:

To understand what the series is about, see Part One

Russ took issue with my description of liberal court victories as “cheating”:

Cheating? I suppose you’re referring to court decisions you don’t like. Interesting that you call it cheating when the legitimate exercise of judicial review is used to ensure our nation’s laws are constitutionally sound. I don’t call it “cheating” when court decision upheld the use of the commerce clause to justify the prohibition of cannabis. I call it a “bad decision”, but not “cheating”.

He may have a point about my language, but I beg to differ. Why do I think the left is cheating in the Culture War? Well, Russ used the example of a ruling on a Cannabis as a federal law (which I agree was a bad decision.) Those favoring federal prohibition of Cannabis won a victory through the political process that was defended. In fact, no court decision has made a drug illegal.

However, with the left, all of their major victories have come through the courts, consider:

1) Federal legalization of abortion was accomplished through the federal court.

2) The Ban on School Prayer was accomplished through the federal courts.

3) The Massachusetts legalization of gay marriage was brought about through the State Court’s reinterpretation of a 200 year old Constitution.

4) The Ten Commandments were removed from Courthouses and schools by federal courts.

These people can’t win at the ballot boxes except in the most liberal of places. All they are left is to find liberal federal judges to make law rather than interpret it.

Lets take a look at the Roe v. Wade decision:

3. State criminal abortion laws, like those involved here, that except from criminality only a life-saving procedure on the mother’s behalf without regard to the stage of her pregnancy and other interests involved violate the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment, which protects against state action the right to privacy, including a woman’s qualified right to terminate her pregnancy. Though the State cannot override that right, it has legitimate interests in protecting both the pregnant woman’s health and the potentiality of human life, each of which interests grows and reaches a “compelling” point at various stages of the woman’s approach to term. Pp. 147-164.

(a) For the stage prior to approximately the end of the first trimester, the abortion decision and its effectuation must be left to the medical judgment of the pregnant woman’s attending physician. Pp. 163, 164.

(b) For the stage subsequent to approximately the end of the first trimester, the State, in promoting its interest in the health of the mother, may, if it chooses, regulate the abortion procedure in ways that are reasonably related to maternal health. Pp. 163, 164.

(c) For the stage subsequent to viability the State, in promoting its interest in the potentiality of human life, may, if it chooses, regulate, and even proscribe, abortion except where necessary, in appropriate medical judgment, for the preservation of the life or health of the mother. Pp. 163-164; 164-165.

Can this really be inferred from the equal protection clause of the 14th Amendment? Of course not, it is writing law. Justice Blackmunn was legislating from the bench plain and simple.

Legislating from the Bench is cheating. It is similar to a baseball game in which an umpire is in fact rooting for his favorite and thus calls their swinging strikes balls. It is using the judicial process to fulfill a legislative. Its a misuse and an abuse of our federal court system.

How did the Founders see the role of the Judiciary? Hamilton wrote in Federalist 78:

It proves incontestably, that the judiciary is beyond comparison the weakest of the three departments of power1; that it can never attack with success either of the other two; and that all possible care is requisite to enable it to defend itself against their attacks. It equally proves, that though individual oppression may now and then proceed from the courts of justice, the general liberty of the people can never be endangered from that quarter; I mean so long as the judiciary remains truly distinct from both the legislature and the Executive. For I agree, that “there is no liberty, if the power of judging be not separated from the legislative and executive powers.’

..liberty can have nothing to fear from the judiciary alone, but would have every thing to fear from its union with either of the other departments…

Simply put, Hamilton believed liberty was safe as long as the Supreme Court didn’t try and become a legislature of the Executive. If they did, Hamilton had a solution: impeachment. (see Federalist 81)

Of course, the left tells us that the Constitution is a living, breathing document. It changes and molds itself to fit with the times. Madison rejected this theory as a President when he vetoed a public works bill 30 years after the Constitution was ratified. Madison wrote:

I am not unaware of the great importance of roads and canals and the improved navigation of water courses, and that a power in the National Legislature to provide for them might be exercised with signal advantage to the general prosperity. But seeing that such a power is not expressly given by the Constitution, and believing that it can not be deduced from any part of it without an inadmissible latitude of construction and reliance on insufficient precedents; believing also that the permanent success of the Constitution depends on a definite partition of powers between the General and the State Governments, and that no adequate landmarks would be left by the constructive extension of the powers of Congress as proposed in the bill, I have no option but to withhold my signature from it, and to cherishing the hope that its beneficial objects may be attained by a resort for the necessary powers to the same wisdom and virtue in the nation which established the Constitution in its actual form and providently marked out in the instrument itself a safe and practicable mode of improving it as experience might suggest.

Though the Country had grown quite a bit into areas that had no roads in them, with the Louisiana purchase, Madison didn’t believe the Constitution had grown to the point where Congress could do things not allowed by the Constitution.

It has been said, “a living Constitution is no constitutional at all,” if it can mean something new each generation, it means absolutely nothing. Its absolutely true. You’ll find no mention of abortion in the Constitution, nor of gay rights, but its all been inferred using shaky logic for the purpose of imposing an end on society.

Alan Keyes examined the plain meaning of the first Amendment in his 2003 speech in Alabama, observing the following:

“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion.” Now, I gotta tell you. There are those who say that that’s a ban on religious establishment. Look at the words, my friend. It is no such thing. It clearly and plainly forbids the Congress of the United States to make any law on the subject, one way or another!

They cannot prohibit religious establishment, and they cannot establish a religion.

But then you say, “But, surely someone can make some judgment,” and I say, that’s clear in the Constitution, too, in the clear, plain, easily-comprehensible language of the Tenth Amendment: those powers not given to the U.S. government, or prohibited explicitly to the states, are reserved to the states respectively, and to the people.

Plain English is not one of the libs’ favorite things becuase it shows how incorrect they are.

If we were for one moment to entertain the idea that Constitutional Rights should grow or expand as time goes on? How should they expand?

The Declaration of Independence tells us that governments derive “their just powers from the consent of the governed.” Russ, himself called this “genius.” So shouldn’t new rights or new understandings come from the consent of the governed? If new understandings are considered the basis for law, shouldn’t they be common?

Yet, in the case of rulings on Gay Marriage, Abortion, and School prayer, the majority disagrees with the existence of these rights. Judges intent on forcing an agenda go ahead and pass it anyway. How then does our Constitution grow?

It grows according to the ideas of pointy headed intellectuals who don’t understand the real world, legal bigwigs with overinflated egos. It grows according to the dictates of those who think they know better how everyone else ought to live, who are not content to do the hard work of living in a Democratic society, but want to take a shortcut, and find an umpire who will call a strike a ball. I call that cheating.

But, if judges won’t protect us from theocracy, who will? That’s a question for another post.


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The Blogging Epic, Part Two: The Writers of the Constitution Didn’t Know What They Were Writing

Posted by Adam Graham on December 3, 2005

Continued from Part One

A recurring theme in Russ’ post is “The Constiuttion.” Lets take a gander:

The Constitution is all about majority rule with respect for minority rights. One of those minority rights is the free exercise of religion or the freedom from religion with a government neutral to religion so as to prevent state endorsement of one faith or state persecution of another…

You’ve still got (in my opinion, unconstitutionally) prayers by chaplains to begin Congress, oaths sworn in court on your holy book…

The genius of the Founders was recognizing that the only legitimate government derives its authority from the just consent of the people, not ordination from somebody’s God…

Now, I’ll come back to some of these later, but Russ said something in here that struck me as utterly fascinating:

The past forty years of “shoving stuff down your throats” (funny how the righties tend to use such homoerotic imagery) would be better characterized as forty years of removing the religion that’s been unconstitutionally shoved down our throats for the 189 years prior.

This precise figure of 189 years is interesting for several reasons. 40 years prior takes us to 1965 (prayer in school came out in 1962) and then 189 years takes us back to the Decalation of Independence in 1776. The Constitution was ratified in 1789, so how people were violating the Constitution BEFORE it was written is beyond me.

But, there’s a greater point ghere. Its a stunning admission, with all the talk about the founders what’s clearly implied by Russ is they didn’t know what they’d written. They didn’t understand the importance of Seperation of Church and State which is why Congress paid for missionaries from different denominations to set up missions on the Indian tribes, started the tradition of having a chaplain, had the Bible studied in schools, and did all sorts of things that would make modern PC warriors wince.

In fact, the left’s reliance on the Constitution is weak and incredibly dishonest. As Russ just admitted, the Supreme Court’s 1962 ruling against School Prayer overturned nearly 200 years of precedent. To believe that the true meaning of the Constitution on this key issue could not be understood until 171 years after the passage of the Bill of Rights and nearly 100 after the passage of the 14th Amendment.

I don’t claim that abortion is plainly prohibited in the text of the Constitution. Advocates of natural marriage don’t claim that a prohibition on gay marriage is in the Constitution. We know that to bar gay marriage or abortion nationwide, we need to change the Constitution and are honest enough to admit it. The left, however comes up with a few theories and claims that its agenda was written into the Constitution and all its going to take is the right judge to discover it.

More on that in Part III.

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The Blogging Epic, Part One: Background

Posted by Adam Graham on December 3, 2005

This is probably not an utter first in the world of blogging responses, but its the first time I’ve seen it. Radical Russ via Pam’s House Blend has responded to some comment I left in his coments on his blog.

Six months ago, I would have posted my entire post in the Haloscan comments on Pam’s site where maybe Russ might have read it. Three months ago, I would probably have posted the whole thing in one post here, where most would have stopped reading as soon as they saw it was so long it’d choke a horse. So, what I’m doing is breaking it into little bite sized pieces for readers.

This first post will provide background on how exactly this came about. And when I get this done, you’ll be able to go from post to another.

Well it all started before Thanksgiving, Russ posted a brief response to what he described as “silly Christian spam.” Now, I’m not a huge fan of e-mail forwards myself. I’ve yet to meet anybody led to faith in Christ but an soliticited message in the inbox. To be fair, this has its counterpart with the leftist spam. I get it from liberal friends sometimes, and I just grunt and delete it.

At the end of the spam which sarcastically suggested that “In God We Trust” and should be taken out of the national motto, Russ wrote:

Though I have to agree with the sentiment of removing “In God We Trust” from the money and the Ten Commandments from the courthouses….

From such a little thing began this epic. I brought up a point in the comments:

How about changing the National Anthem. “The Star Spangled Banner” is our anthem, and not just the first verse. The fourth verse says:

O thus be it ever when free-men shall stand
Between their lov’d home and the war’s desolation;
Blest with vict’ry and peace, may the heav’n-rescued land
Praise the Pow’r that hath made and preserv’d us a nation!
Then conquer we must, when our cause it is just,
And this be our motto: “In God is our trust!”
And the star-spangled banner in triumph shall wave
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave!

Of course, remember that the Star Spangled Banner was written about 20 + years after the Constitution, the Motto “In God We Trust” was added to the currency and that was my point. Russ responds by suggesting we should rip out the whole other three verses to cleanse our national anthem and then says:

Why is your brand of Christians so insecure about recognition of God that it seeks to stamp and impose God on every aspect of our secular government? Shouldn’t people come to religion from an inner need to seek truth, rather than the peer pressure of the money, your classmates, and the courthouses advertising for God?

A secular government does nothing to prevent the worship of your God, but a theocratic government will do great injury to the worship of any God but the state’s. Separation of church and state exists to protect the church, not the state.

Well, that got me fired up, I wrote back:

You seriously think money is being used coerce people to God?

Lets turn this around. Why is that your band of Atheists are so insecure they have to obsess about making sure every monument is scrubbed of religion, and that every inch of the public square from stem to stern is religion free. In most cases, there’s no talk of adding new mentions of God to the public sphere. Its simply defending the existing ones in most cases.

What if someone came to Boise and started a movement to rip out the Black History museum. Blacks wouldn’t be silent.

What the left suggests constantly is that God is a cancer that must be excised from our nation’s political life. God is a danger to our freedom. Yet, our money has existed for a century with “In God We Trust” and the term is in our National Anthem. (Whether you want it there or not.) Ten Commandments have stood since our nation’s founding. How could anyone whose a true Christian agree with such a damnable assumption?

Prayer happened in schools for nearly 2 centuries until the Supreme Court imposed a ban on school in prayer on a country that to this day after 40 years still doesn’t want it.

In essence, what we’re witnessing in America is tyranny of the minority, where you guys have gotten everything through cheating and next to nothing through the democratic political process. So, you basically spend 40 years shoving stuff down people’s throats and have the audacity to ask why we’re not more happy about it. All we’re wanting back is what has been taken illegitimately.

People can come to God however they want. I know the state can’t make people come to Jesus, or even preach it. Given the state’s lack of competence in teaching other topics, I’ve concluded the result of trying to have the government teach Christianity would be massive conversions to Buddhism. (please don’t analyze this too deeply as its a joke.)

I also think a government that reminded that there’s a God and we are not Him we’ll govern better, will be more condusive to freedom. The Communists didn’t know this. The Swedes don’t know this and they tried to send a minister to jail for preaching against homosexuality. In Sweden, they in fact govern exactly what names you can give your children.

You see, without the recognition of God’s sovereignty, our rights are reduced to grants by the government, subject to change and Amendment by a Supreme Court that views the Constitution as their etcha-sketch.

The difference between us is that you see the greatest danger as the state acknowledging God in any way whatsover. I see the greatest danger as the state making itself God.

Well, Russ complimented the piece and posted over at the House Blend, which you can visit at your own peril. Its kind of like “The Cantina” from Star Wars. Its a rough joint that I rarely venture over to. The only thing that brings me there is if Technorati tells me I’ve been mentioned.

Anyway, Russ starts off with a few gracious comments about me. Russ in person is a very socialable person who can be very respectful and polite. He cracked me up when we went and looked at the UN Declaration of Human Rights on six slanted tablets and said that it reminded him of “all Six Star Wars movies.” He’s got a good sense of humor.

We have a lot in common surprisingly. We both grew up spending a lot of time on the road, both moved West to find better work and more opportunites, and both have been active in local groups. He’s my favorite liberal and only the liberal blog to gain a link on my Blog Log.

Politically the difference between us is like night and day and the issues in this debate are so fundamental to understanding that difference.


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