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Thursday, October 13, 2005

Goodbye: You can't have it all

This will be my final post.

You may have noticed I haven't posted for quite a few days. It bothers me. A day doesn't go by that I don't have ten things to write about. I just don't have the time.

Aside from being a radio show host, an avid reader, researcher, and thinker with notes prepared for literally dozens of "someday" writing projects, a Sunday School teacher, and being behind on my share of the teaching of a family with three elementary home-schooled kids, I have severe work-related pressure.

This year has been the best yet for Downsize DC, but we're making major internal changes and, finally, addressing long term logistic issues. To complicate matters further, we're going to implement yet another major overhaul to the Downsize DC Foundation (counting American Liberty Foundation days, this will be the fourth incarnation in just over five years). Long term, I think this incarnation will be the one because we're using the same tools to make these changes that we did to create our successful lobbying system at DownsizeDC.org.

But DownsizeDC.org is not settled either as we have many improvements planned.

Unfortunately, our staff is small -- slowing our progress down. And we're underpaid, creating intellectually cramping financial pressure at home. We need to improve faster. And that requires focus.

Things are better than ever financially, but not yet where they need to be. The financial pressure, which I've lived under for the entire time I've been an activist, has got to stop.

How am I focusing. Well, these are the first baby-steps.

I try to read many blogs regulary. I've cut back signficantly. I may stop all-together (*probably should). I waste too much time trying to keep informed about too many things right now. It's not working for me.

I respond to 40 or more (sometimes many more) emails per day as well. We're looking to hire someone to handle that for me. I've enjoyed doing that and I'm very good at it. But I need to be doing things that will grow Downsize DC much more rapidly.

And as culturally important and personally enjoyable as blogging can be, I need to cut it out. If my audience was much larger than I suspect, then I couldn't give this up. If I was paying the bills doing this, I couldn't give it up. But I believe my audience on this blog is small and can only grow with more consistent attention -- attention I just can't afford to give it.

BUT I'M NOT CLOSING THIS BLOG. There's a lot of stuff written here. I've shared some important thoughts (and many not so important). I want to keep a record of those thoughts and I hope people will go through the site and find these pieces.

AND I'M STILL GOING TO BE BLOGGING Readers of this blog are now the first to know that DownsizeDC.org is going to have its own blog within the next 3-4 weeks. The blog currently located at DownsizeDC.com is migrating over and not only will tell stories of Human Progress (albeit fewer), but will include good news about Downsize DC in-general. Where it's appropriate, I'll be posting there.

I feel like I'm missing out on an important opportunity and venture. For generalists like me, people to whom focus is almost a disease, this nagging feeling keeps us from accomplishing at the level of our talent. I know that I have this disease. I want to be cured.

*But the hardest lesson for me to embrace, lo, even to learn and accept, is that you can't have it all. You can't do everything. You have to make choices.

My work hours need to be filled with work that will profit. My family hours need to be filled with family. Some folks think that it must be hard focusing on work when you work from your home. My problem has been exactly the opposite.

More tough (for me) choices remain for me to make. If you pray, then please pray for me.

So, thanks to everyone who read. I appreciate you. God bless.

NOTE: My radio show can be heard live at GCNLive.com. Archives, which are behind schedule, are posted at CultureRepair.com/Media. This too will change when the new program format takes effect. The radio show will be archived on the page of our new sponsor. I'm not sure when that will happen, but won't be too much longer.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Repeal federal flood insurance

This was the message we sent out today on the Downsizer-Dispatch...

The tragedy of New Orleans in the wake of Hurricane Katrina has, in my opinion, become a political football, demonstrating why partisanship is so hollow. For the Democrats, it's about race and Republican incompetence. For the Republicans, a group who loved the so-called “Blame Game” when it was Bill, Hillary, and Al they could blame, it is about deflecting blame, in some cases going so far as to spread falsehoods about when the governor of Louisiana declared a state of emergency.

I, for one, lack the faith that either group of partisan hacks has got it right because both sides of the aisle agree on one thing - we need bigger government to address this problem and prevent future calamities.

"But faith, fanatic faith, once wedded fast to some dear falsehood, hugs it to the last."
-- Thomas Moore

For many, Big Government is something akin to a god. When high winds topple and great rains flood, and when fires burn and snows bury, the Great God Government is expected to wave its magic wand and rescue us. But New Orleans shows how greatly the Great God Government can fail.

It is now obvious - big things fail in a big way.

This is why liberals, conservatives, and libertarians are joining together to Downsize DC. Despite our ideological differences, we all realize the perils of Bigness and centralized power. But many others still remain faithful to the present system. Why?

Partisanship appears to be the biggest reason. Faith in political parties and political personalities are minor cults of their own, and these cults are largely immune from the critical power of inconvenient evidence. Worse still, these cults provide easy rationalizations for the failures of that larger false idol, Big Government itself.

And so the way is paved for the next big disaster. Partisan hypocrisy and emotional attachments to political personalities blind us to reality. And the reality is this...

Government has no incentive to succeed because its failures are always rewarded with increased funding. (Witness the $53 billion relief package just passed in Congress).

Much more could be said about why government fails so often and so grandly, but it need not be said, because the "incentives problem" alone is sufficient to judge Big Government a clear and present danger to the health, wealth, and safety of the people. Big government fails in order to succeed.

And New Orleans is but the latest "Poster Disaster" to symbolize this.

Now if only we could elect someone to fix the problem - Not!

The beauty of Downsize DC is that, to quote Thomas Jefferson, "we put not our faith in men." We owe no loyalties to parties or personalities. We need not defend this person or oppose that one. We need not wait for the "correct" person to be elected to work for appropriate change.

And so, while the pundits fiddle as New Orleans drowns, Downsize DC takes the next step to promote real solutions that will actually work, and to force those solutions on the politicians, Democrats and Republicans alike. To wit...

It sure would be nice if there weren't so many houses built in flood plains and below sea level.

If people had to pay the true cost of flood insurance many fewer people would build where floods happen. Fewer houses in flood areas would mean many fewer people dead, fewer to rescue, and fewer houses to rebuild. And all of this would mean lower spending by the federal government, leading to less government borrowing and taxing.

Is this the Utopian answer sought by the naïve? No. It is simply a common sense reform that would make things better. And how could we get to such a level of common sense?

End federally-funded flood insurance.

If you agree, send Congress a message and tell them so. You can do it quickly and easily by clicking here.

Thank you for being a DC Downsizer.

Jim Babka
DownsizeDC.org, Inc.

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

False Choices and a Bridge

I’ve been thinking a lot about the relationship between God and science lately. For some, this might be a waste of time on foolish speculation. But all philosophers “waste” their time in conjecture, as do members of fantasy football leagues and black-jack players. To me, few things are as important as the metaphysical questions. And so, I theorize.

I believe firmly in a God of reality. If God exists, then God must be the author of reality – indeed the Creator.

A few weeks back, I explained on this blog (and here) that I have come to the conclusion that, “that evolution is the best explanation of our natural history.”

In all-too-many circles, the gap between God and science has been widened. Creationists seek a static world where every discovery is a potential threat to their literal interpretation of Genesis 1. Atheists, on the other hand, find reassurance in “blind chance” and “randomness” that is, in their opinion, so purposeless that there just can’t be a Deity.

Like Coke and Pepsi, Republicans and Democrats, this is a false choice. Each side wants you to believe that you only have two choices and you must choose, even if you believe the alternatives are bad and worse. But there aren’t only two choices. For example, if you’re hankering for a soda and you care for neither Coke nor Pepsi, you can drink Mountain Dew or Dr. Pepper or Cherry Coke or 7-UP. And if you loathe the tax-and-spend policies of the Democrats and the borrow-and-spend proposals of the GOP don’t sit well with you, then you can vote Libertarian. Or, you can do like me – give up soda and partisanship because both are bad for you.

When it comes to our origins, there aren’t merely two, or even three, choices. But unlike pop and politics, I don’t advise you check-out.

I have faith that discovering the way the world works brings me in touch with God. As I’ve pointed out before, that view seems very consistent with Scripture.

Faith is the bridge between God and science. Before you dismiss or pooh-pooh the concept of faith, stop and consider what it is. Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the substantiation not yet seen. And even the deepest skeptics have faith.

A dear friend who is also a skeptic, who reads this blog and who will recognize I’m talking about him, routinely speaks to me of the things he believes – things for which he has no conclusive evidence. He talks of his plans, what he believes his future will be like, and even what he believes the future will be like for people he loves. Because he’s a close-friend, I hope he succeeds and is happy.

But what’s fascinating is that he has no proof that these things will happen. In fact, he will admit he has no proof. And yet, each morning, he gets up and pursues his dreams. And he passionately believes in what he’s doing. This is an act of faith.

So faith isn’t a bad thing. It appears to this observer that we need faith to survive – to get out of bed in the morning. For the goal-setter, faith is the bridge between now and the future. For the believer, faith is the bridge between science and God.

And this makes perfect sense. The God of monotheists (perhaps five-point Calvinists exempted), respects mankind’s will. We can do justice, love mercy, and walk humbly with our God, or we can ignore, maim, and/or seek power over others.

The scientific evidence we have this choice is all around us. It appears to be built into the very fiber of the universe. And because every one of us has these choices, the future is not predictable. Anything can happen.

It makes theological sense to me that if my hunches are right, that the best way (perhaps the only way) we can approach God is through faith. That’s how the Creator wanted it. We just wouldn’t have had the will necessary to be free if God had imposed Himself on us. God wanted us to seek Him.

Atheist Bertrand Russell was famously asked what if when he died he found himself before God... what would he say to God? “There wasn’t enough evidence,” was his reply. But I wonder; if there was enough evidence to satisfy Russell, would something important have died within him?

Without faith, is there despair? And can we have a world where we wouldn’t have or need to rely on hopes and dreams and still have even a tattered will?

Would we accomplish anything without these emotional skills? And is this seeking for God good for us in some way we don’t yet know how to explain?

OK, now perhaps you’re getting ready to click away from this article because you think that such a God is distant, cruel, and ruthless. But don’t give up yet. Let me make one final point... about presumptuousness.

Who are you in relation to God? Let me make this simpler. Who are you in relation to the President, or the Governor, or the CEO of a local corporation? Let’s say you had a pressing matter to bring to their attention. Should they be seeking you out? Why? Or is it the other way around? Clearly, you would need to seek them out.

Well, here’s God’s promise, and it’s better than any “open-door policy” the aforementioned human officers would promise. “Ask, and it shall be given you. Seek, and you shall find. Knock, and it shall be opened unto you.” And if that’s not good enough for you, God will go one better, “Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will dine with him, and he with me.”

Why then should the scientist resist faith? Yes, like Coke and Pepsi, Republicans and Democrats, this is another false choice. I for one am having my faith expanded by scientific discovery. Thank God for science.

Monday, September 12, 2005

Government needs to do more about disaster relief - NOT

Quoting from a long email I received at DownsizeDC.org over the weekend:

It seems as if you are trying to say that leaving everything to the free market would have prevented the Katrina disaster or mitigated it. That is the opposite of the truth. The problem was that the government on the one hand didn't do its job to fix the levees, and on the other didn't evacuate the people in time.

The free market doesn't fix everything. I think this mess is partly caused by GWB pretending that all we need is the free market... Mr. Bush is gutting the United States, leaving us and leading us into third world status.

I responded:

At no time in this crisis or any other his administration has faced, did George W. Bush pretend that the free market can do anything as well as government good. He's spending like Lyndon Johnson -- a guns and butter policy. He's pandering like Bill Clinton.

It's important to understand... This is not a party thing! Both of the parties would handle this situation in much the same way. Government first. Government second. Government for everything until the last.

That means they're going to a) tax you b) inflate your currency c) borrow more from the big bankers (who enjoy getting rich knowing the good faith and credit of the American people will always pay their bills on time).

George W. Bush has been rushing to spend money. He'll spend "whatever it takes." Why not? It's not his money.

Here's how the money is spent.

1) You send $100 to Washington. $30 - $35 comes back...
2) ...with strings (instructions on how exactly the money must be spent) Strings reduce the value of those funds.
3) And when the federal government gets involved, you won't be making the decisions on how that money is spent, nor will I. Experts won't even make that decision. It will be made politically. So some portion will need to go to pay-off state and local political patrons and government unions (further reducing the value of those funds).
4) And it's well-known that it costs government more to get something accomplished than it does for private businesses or churches and charities. $90 hammers and $150 toilet seats aren't even funny anymore because everyone expects government to waste money that way.

So, are you suggesting that the private sector couldn't match big government's $30 -- particularly if we Downsized DC and allowed you and your fellow Americans to keep the money ya'll have earned, to save, to spend, to invest, to give away as you see fit, not as the politicians determine? Do you really think they'll exercise the same care and discretion that you and every other individual would?

George W. Bush has now given us four major boondoggles -- financial sinkholes -- that we weren't strapped with before he was elected: Iraq, Homeland Insecurity, a prescription drug program for seniors (major pharma thanks him), and now rescuing New Orleans (see my September 8 post and listen to my September 4 radio show to see how what blame the Bush regime deserves). And long after he's gone, cooling his heels with Laura back in Texas, we'll still be paying for his great ideas.

Sunday, September 11, 2005

Links from today’s show

Today’s GOA (Gun Owners of America) Update was about New Orleans police confiscating firearms from law-abiding New Orleans residents. No joke – source, New York Times (hardly a friend of gun owners).

I asked, but didn’t find out during the broadcast, under what color of authority, what statute, are these “authorities” pretending they have the right to confiscate private firearms? What is scary here is why they’re doing it. It’s right in the first paragraph of the story.

The sketch of George Bush’s conversation with Noah (of Ark fame) was originally an article written by Richard Cummings and published at LewRockwell.com.

My second favorite article (see last week’s show for my favorite) about what’s happening in New Orleans is An Unnatural Disaster written by Robert Tracinski for the Intellectual Activist. No, this wasn’t really a natural disaster as much as it was a man-made, big government disaster. Tracinski shows how big government dependence crippled normal human response to the disaster.

War Update – I talked about an article about Bush incompetence that, according to the Baltimore Sun, signals its time to remove him from office (registration required).
1) “Nobody could anticipate a breach of the levee.”
2) That we’re safer with big, centralized Homeland Security looking out for us.

From Ed Brayton’s blog, Dispatches from the Culture Wars... FEMA sending Firefighters to “sexual harassment” training before they deploy them as PR hacks. This story must be read, and even then you probably still won’t believe it.

Friday, September 09, 2005

So certain of things that aren’t so – Part II

There’s a partisan rush to deflect blame from George W. Bush – to blame his detractors. I cannot emphasize enough how little I care for this partisan junk. But so many people do, and they’re now circulating inaccurate information ‘round the web.

I’m writing this blog entry largely so I can just point to it when people attempt to correct me. [An important aside: This ain’t no hobby. I do this work for a living. People should just assume I’m right and double-check the person who disagrees with me. Perhaps the old admonition is true, ‘don’t try this at home.’]

Here’s a snippet of what’s being said (I’ve already seen this news bit twice this morning from people who think we are trying to attack George W. Bush).

I think all of Nagin's pomp and posturing is going to bite him hard in the near future as the lies and distortions of his interviews are coming to light.

On Friday night before the storm hit Max Mayfield of the National Hurricane Center took the unprecedented action of calling Nagin and Blanco personally to plead with them to begin MANDATORY evacuation of NO and they said they'd take it under consideration. This was after the NOAA buoy 240 miles south had recorded 68' waves before it was destroyed.

President Bush spent Friday afternoon and evening in meetings with his advisors and administrators drafting all of the paperwork required for a state to request federal assistance (and not be in violation of the Posse Comitatus Act or having to enact the Insurgency Act). Just before midnight Friday evening the President called Governor Blanco and pleaded with her to sign the request papers so the federal government and the military could legally begin mobilization and call up. He was told that they didn't think it necessary for the federal government to be involved yet. After the President's final call to the governor she held meetings with her staff to discuss the political ramifications of bringing federal forces. It was decided that if they allowed federal assistance it would make it look as if they had failed so it was agreed upon that the feds would not be invited in.

Saturday before the storm hit the President again called Blanco and Nagin requesting they please sign the papers requesting federal assistance, that they declare the state an emergency area, and begin mandatory evacuation. After a personal plea from the President Nagin agreed to order an evacuation, but it would not be a full mandatory evacuation, and the governor still refused to sign the papers requesting and authorizing federal action. In frustration the President declared the area a national disaster area before the state of Louisiana did so he could legally begin some advanced preparations.

And it goes on from there.

But according to the Urban Legends site, Snopes, this just ain’t so.
The full story and the links for each point are available at http://www.snopes.com/politics/katrina/nagin.asp

Thursday, September 08, 2005

So certain of things that aren’t so – Part I

At the Downsize DC Foundation & DownsizeDC.org, we’re getting some angry messages (from Bush supporters most likely). Even though we’ve dealt with issues only (no personalities), we’re getting hostile messages saying that we’re blaming the President – particularly for the Governor Blanco’s and Mayor Nagin’s incompetence. These people (who doth protest too much) are hypersensitive to what isn’t there.

Two things.

1) We haven’t said the state and local governments were competent. In fact, we did comment on local and state incompetence and were specific in casting blame there as well.
2) And it should be clear that our mission is Downsizing DC (meaning, smaller FEDERAL government). Of course our emphasis is there and not on state and local governments.

But this is absolutely not about personalities, much as any of the folks writing might want it to be. Our criticisms would’ve been exactly the same regardless of who occupied the White House. We could, quite frankly, care less who works in the Oval Office.

That said, one should not overlook that...

We are Downsize DC! While we will address the local and state governments in our comments, they are not our focus in this situation, which brings me to my very most important point.

The reason, in my opinion, that the state and local governments did not respond quickly was in large part due to the fact that the federal government has created a sense of dependency in them as well. No one thought they needed to know how to respond, because big nanny-government would take care of them. Even now, as I watch the reports on TV, rescue and relief workers from various jurisdictions around the country are standing around waiting for orders from some central HQ.

And that, once again, is the wonderful work of the feds.

Federal government involvement = crippling dependency, regardless of who is in charge. So stop reading anything extra into what we’re saying – we don’t give a damn about Republicans or Democrats (red v. blue, shirts v. skins).

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Labor Day Weekend Radio Show - What all went wrong in New Orleans?

On my Sunday, Culture Repair Show, I fed the audience with a fire hose. There was so much to say about what's happened in New Orleans, and yet, I only scratched the surface. A three hour show might’ve done the trick. You can listen to what I had to say here. One caller, the mega-star of Genesis Communications, Mr. Alex Jones. Also, see my September 4 blog entry for further details about the show.

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Government Failure in New Orleans - Today's Downsizer-Dispatch

This was the message and action item we sent out today. There will be more actions coming. The New Orleans flood and disaster relief are vivid, emotional demonstrations of just how big, centralized government works.

Politicians love to re-write history. It is vital to them that they do so. Since politics is nearly synonymous with incompetence, accurate history will tend to show most politicians in a bad light. So history must be controlled and spun to the greatest extent possible.

But it is better still if unflattering history can be forgotten before it is even learned.

That is what the politicians are attempting now. They want us to forget about the history of the New Orleans mess, and how they caused it, before our memory of the facts can solidify. When the politicians ask us to not assign blame, and when they accuse those who do so of playing politics with the misery of others, they are engaging in the ultimate political exploitation.

Imagine if the executives of Enron had said to the media, "The politicians shouldn't be assigning blame in this case, and gaining political advantage from the misery of others." No one would have stood for it.

But the politicians do the same thing and expect to get away with it. They know that if they can get us to stop thinking of all their failures while the evidence of those failures is fresh in our minds, then they may avoid paying the price for their criminal negligence once memories have faded and passions have cooled.

We will not participate in this scheme to forget history in advance. And we hope you won't either.

At DownsizeDC.org, we are considering several possible campaigns on this issue. Big government failed in every possible way in New Orleans. Big government has mismanaged the New Orleans levees since the 1970s, under both Democrats and Republicans. Big government mismanaged the National Guard's response to the crisis. FEMA has mismanaged the relief effort. And most stunning of all, every level of government has collaborated to keep private aid AWAY from the ruined city.

Each of these acts of failure deserves a response, but we have to start somewhere, so we are going to start with the National Guard.

Not enough National Guard troops were placed in the city early enough to rescue people and preserve law and order. There are many reasons for this failure, but perhaps the most significant is the misuse of the National Guard. The National Guard was not created to be, in George W. Bush's immortal words, "a nation building corps." It exists primarily for tasks here at home. But due to a back-door draft, the National Guard serves in Iraq instead.

An armed force of 1.4 million active duty personnel should not need to rely on the National Guard to maintain troop levels in Iraq. The Department of Defense has misused it resources. It has taken weekend soldiers away from their jobs and families, and put them in harms way overseas, while leaving nearly 500,000 fulltime soldiers deployed far away from the front - mostly in America and Europe. Why?

Is Canada or Mexico planning to invade the United States? Is Europe in danger of attack? Of course not. But New Orleans was in grave danger, as everyone in the world knew far in advance. The National Guard should have been here to help when the crisis came.

We want to urge Congress to bring home the National Guard, and discontinue deploying National Guard units overseas except when the United States is directly attacked by a foreign nation. Please help us correct the Federal government's misuse of the National Guard by sending a message to Congress today. You can do so by clicking here.

Thank you for being a DC Downsizer.

Jim Babka
Downsize DC Foundation
& DownsizeDC.org, Inc.

P.S. The Downsize DC Foundation is doing its part as well. Remember, at this site, DownsizeDC.com, we talk about The Race between the forces of Big Government vs. Human Progress. Human Progress is brought to you by Social Power & the Free Market.

At this website we tell the story of individuals, churches & charities, and inventors & entrepreneurs delivering Human Progress, thanks to their freedom to innovate or help their neighbor. There are lots of amazing personal stories on the ground in the wake of this disaster (almost all of which are accompanied by some form of Big Government incompetence). In New Orleans, Social Power lost The Race to Big Government and the damage is immense. Thankfully, the forces of Human Progress haven't quit and gone home. Individuals, private organizations, and companies are diligently trying to repair this government-imposed mess. Thank God.

Monday, September 05, 2005

Archived Radio Shows for August

I apologize for the delay in getting these posted. I prefer to listen to shows to critique my own performance and learn how to do a better job, as well as make notes for this blog. I also take that opportunity to edit the shows for your listening convenience. To further the complications, while I’m learning a little HTML now, I’m not yet ready to post these to the web on my own. I currently submit them to a ftp page and then Robert O’Gwynn graciously posts them for me. All of this takes time – time I don’t always have in a given week.

August 7 – Brookpark Marines tribute and explanation of why I believe they DIDN’T die for their country, but rather were sacrificed to the Molech of this age. Full detail of the Gun Owners Update can be read here. Also, the two significant players who were not being talked about as much at the Pro Football Hall of Fame Induction. One caller.

Click here to listen.

August 13 – I guest-hosted the Harry Browne show one final time (yes, this really was it). Harry appeared again as a guest/co-host. I opened with a commentary about the 19 Marine reservists (the “Brookpark Marines”). Further discussion ensued about why glorifying death is so bad. A caller we kept on for far too long drove us to give a history lesson about Iran. Discussed with Harry the many reasons big government doesn’t work. Four callers and three emails.

Click here to listen to hour one and here for hour two.

August 14 – See my August 14th posting on this blog for some show details. My presentation of Jim Cox’s Iraq is Not Vietnam is work I’m particularly proud of – good radio.

Click here to listen.

August 21 – See my August 21st posting on this blog for show details. One caller and two emails.

Click here to listen.

August 28 – I really focused in on the five Commandments Pat Robertson violated by suggesting the assassination of Hugo Chavez. See my August 28th posting on this blog for additional show details. One caller that was so wonderful she made me blush.

Click here to listen.

Sunday, September 04, 2005

Links from today’s radio show...

Most important article you can read on this topic is Lew Rockwell's "The State and the Flood."

Today's GOA Update, legislation that the House will be considering to protect the Gun Manufacturer's Industry from frivilous lawsuits. HR 800 is a clean bill, in contrast to the Senate's bill, and it needs your support to pass, intact. Learn how Gun Owners of America wants you to take action here.

Please, as this week goes on, check out the Downsize DC Foundation website to learn how Social Power (neighbors, family, churches, individuals, and charities, as well as private business) is solving the problems of the refugees. There is good news, and real lessons for future benefit in this story and we'll be telling those.

Also, join DownsizeDC.org and lobby Congress. We're going to start by asking Congress to bring home the National Guard. You'll hear about that Tuesday if you're already subscribed to the Downsizer-Dispatch. But there will be more campaigns following that. This issue is our chance to advance the theme, "The era of 'can-do' government is over."

As for the points I made on the broadcast, I hope to write some columns, as well as use some of that material in the Downsizer-Dispatch messages. We'll see how things go.

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Babka Brilliantly Answers Your Questions

Endorphin Dann asks: "If electricity comes from electrons, does morality come from morons?

Yes. An example in the news right now is Pat Robertson (who now thinks his call for murder puts him in the same class as Dietrich Bonhoeffer).

Excellence In Baloney Network

I had some errands to run today - a chance to break free from my desk. And so, as I do about every two to three months, I tuned into the Rush Limbaugh Show on the Excellence In Broadcasting Network.

I admire Rush. Seriously. He’s an American success story. And he is really, really talented at what he does.

Apparently he has diminished talents in moral logic. Being a shill for Republicans tends to extinguish your ability to separate truth from error. It doesn’t seem to matter to Rush if has to dissemble, be illogical, or just rant; it's his party, right or wrong.

On today's show, hour two, the serving du jour was baloney. His charge was hypocrisy. And what, pray tell, was this hypocrisy that Rush so cleverly exposed?

In the wake of Hurricane Katrina, rescue workers and the National Guard were going to be “occupying” Louisiana (yes, he really said that, which is why I put it in quotes). And the media, even the liberal-Democrats, were lauding the rescue workers and Guard. These are the very same liberals and media (sic) that “maligns” the men and women working in Iraq, rebuilding Iraq – that goes so far as to call them “murderers.”

Oh, the humanity!

I don’t know what decade Limbaugh is living in. Perhaps he’s harkening back to the undeclared war of his youth – you know the one he didn’t serve in but supported. But in these modern times, I don’t hear the mainstream media “maligning” the men and women over there.

I have yet to hear of Tim Russert, Wolf Blitzer, or read how the Washington Post called them “murderers.” Who could he be talking about?

Is this a straw man?

Oh, it’s that and more, because then he resorted to false analogy to demonstrate the alleged idiocy of these men of straw: Rescue personnel in Louisiana = military presence in Iraq.

Rush, there’s a Golden Rule of difference. Let me break it down for ya...

...And Rush, you’ll be able to see the difference because nightly news won’t be reporting on sniper deaths, ambushes, and road side bombings of volunteer rescue workers and National Guardsmen in Louisiana.

Of course, in the Excellence In Baloney world of Ditto-headery, the only reason they’re reporting those deaths in Iraq now is a liberal attempt to demoralize all of us.

Sunday, August 28, 2005

As Promised from today's Show

Information about Larry Pratt’s radio show is available here.

My new segment “WAR” is based on the work of two “frozen in time” sites, BushWarsBlog and TruthAboutWar (a project I coordinated and worked on). The material from the BushWarsBlog was arranged by its author, Steve Perry (most likely not of Journey fame) for the City Pages (Minneapolis/St. Paul), one of the key cities we at the TruthAboutWar project aired our radio spots in the weeks leading up to the attack on Iraq. Perry’s chronicled 40 whoppers by the virtuously Christian administration of George W. Bush (sorry, that just stick in my craw). I’ll probably just take each item in order.

Here's #1) The administration was NOT bent on war with Iraq from 9/11 onward. They had merely exhausted diplomatic options. THAT’S A LIE.

Some compelling evidence for this claim was already available BEFORE the unconstitutional March 19, 2003 attack on Iraq. Click here to see what we said at TruthAboutWar about it.

Here’s what Steve Perry wrote:
[Note: I realize this is a family website, and I don’t want people who have child safety features to be blocked from coming to my site because of the President’s apparently salty language, so I’ve edited the direct quotes of Dubya by Mr. Perry]

Throughout the year leading up to war, the White House publicly maintained that the U.S. took weapons inspections seriously, that diplomacy would get its chance, that Saddam had the opportunity to prevent a U.S. invasion. The most pungent and concise evidence to the contrary comes from the president's own mouth. According to Time's March 31 road-to-war story, Bush popped in on national security adviser Condi Rice one day in March 2002, interrupting a meeting on UN sanctions against Iraq. Getting a whiff of the subject matter, W peremptorily waved his hand and told her, "F@$% Saddam. We're taking him out." Clare Short, Tony Blair's former secretary for international development, recently lent further credence to the anecdote. She told the London Guardian that Bush and Blair made a secret pact a few months afterward, in the summer of 2002, to invade Iraq in either February or March of this year.

Last fall CBS News obtained meeting notes taken by a Rumsfeld aide at 2:40 on the afternoon of September 11, 2001. The notes indicate that Rumsfeld wanted the "best info fast. Judge whether good enough hit S.H. [Saddam Hussein] at same time. Not only UBL [Usama bin Laden].... Go massive. Sweep it all up. Things related and not."

Rumsfeld's deputy Paul Wolfowitz, the Bushmen's leading intellectual light, has long been rabid on the subject of Iraq. He reportedly told Vanity Fair writer Sam Tanenhaus off the record that he believes Saddam was connected not only to bin Laden and 9/11, but the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing.

The Bush administration's foreign policy plan was not based on September 11, or terrorism; those events only brought to the forefront a radical plan for U.S. control of the post-Cold War world that had been taking shape since the closing days of the first Bush presidency. Back then a small claque of planners, led by Wolfowitz, generated a draft document known as Defense Planning Guidance, which envisioned a U.S. that took advantage of its lone-superpower status to consolidate American control of the world both militarily and economically, to the point where no other nation could ever reasonably hope to challenge the U.S. Toward that end it envisioned what we now call "preemptive" wars waged to reset the geopolitical table.

After a copy of DPG was leaked to the New York Times, subsequent drafts were rendered a little less frank, but the basic idea never changed. In 1997 Wolfowitz and his true believers--Richard Perle, William Kristol, Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld--formed an organization called Project for the New American Century to carry their cause forward. And though they all flocked around the Bush administration from the start, W never really embraced their plan until the events of September 11 left him casting around for a foreign policy plan.

One more note by yours truly:

Mr. Perry is, IMHO, understating his final point. Joe Plummer with StoptheLies.com, an expert on the neo-conservative Project for a New American Century, has an excellent soundbite on this. He says,

Imagine a candidate who campaigned with the primary plank of his platform being, ‘ending pornography now,’ who, once elected, lined his cabinet with pornographers. George Bush said in his 2000 campaign that we should have a humble foreign policy, that he wouldn’t create a ‘nation-building corps.’ But once elected, he surrounded himself with the Project for the New American Century gang, each of whom believed in a new version of Manifest Destiny for the Middle East and that we should spend, literally, hundreds of millions of dollars rebuilding the Middle East according to their specifications.

Saturday, August 27, 2005

Sundry thoughts

1) I would like to find a new blogging program. I've really appreciated my present service, but now I think I've outgrown it. There are several things I want to do with this page, like adding trackbacks, or breaking the articles on the home page so that I can fit more on the screen and people don't have to scroll down "forever" if they're interested, or ... well, you get the idea.

Any suggestions? Does Blogger have the utility I need or should I switch? And if switch, then to what? As you make your suggestions, please keep in mind I'm not a programmer and I've learned just enough HTML to be dangerous, but I'm not interested in becomming a full-fledged programmer. You can leave your suggestions by clicking permalink below and scrolling downto the comment section.

2) My one hour radio show tomorrow at 5 pm Eastern, 4 pm Central, can be heard by virtually everyone reading this on the Genesis Communications Network. Given who I am - a born-again Christian who believes passionately that Big Government is evil, that politics is corrupting, and that George W. Bush doesn't deserve conservative Christian support - I cannot pass up the opportunity to talk about Pat Robertson's, "Hugo Chavez remarks." I'll also be introducing a new Update to the show highlighting the lies of the Bush Administration - lies that, in my mind, justify charges for impeachment. You'll be entertained as well as informed by the show.

Surgeon Generel's Warning: Trying out this show for a week or two will turn it into an addiction, and it's the gateway to harder drugs likes deep thought.

3) Thought for the day: Not only is ‘war the health of the State,’ but it also benefits the supporters and the vendors to the State. Bush, Cheney have rewarded those who put them in power, as well as enhanced their team’s power. Power is the key: the need to run the world – dominate the lives of others. Power lust is the cardinal sin of our times.

Friday, August 26, 2005

Objecting To How DownsizeDC.org Is Fighting Kelo

Everytime we, at DownsizeDC.org, send out a message to our list, urging folks to support our amendment to S. 1313, a Congressional bill that responds to the Supreme Court's Kelo/eminent domain decision, I get email from someone who says something along the lines of, "The federal government's involvement in this matter ( both the U.S. Congress and the U.S. Supreme Court) is another violation of the 9th and 10th amendments of our Constitution. Let's not fall into the trap of trying to right an egregious wrong with another wrong."

Well, here's my response...

I understand your concern. No issue that we’ve tackled has prompted so many questions or concerns by people who respect the Constitution or federalism in general.

It is our position that the Supreme Court should never have taken this case – but they did. Once they did, it was our position that they had no business changing the definition of the takings clause – but they did.

It is our position that this is a state level issue and several states have better laws on this subject – those should be enforced. It is the reality that many judges and local politicians believe to the core of their being that five black robes is the law of the land, and that reality is being carried out not only in New London, CT, but as Reason’s Hit & Run blog has pointed out, other “jurisdictions that are moving quickly to condemn homes and businesses in order to replace them with shopping centers, condos, etc.,” include

• Arlington, TX condemning homes for a new Cowboys stadium, “and in the wake of Kelo officials "filed condemnation lawsuits against some holdout property owners this month.”

• “Sunset Hills, Mo…., voted to condemn a cluster of homes to make way for a shopping center, despite the pleas of some elderly homeowners who said they had nowhere else to go and no desire to move.”

• “Officials in Oakland, Calif., evicted a tire shop and an auto repair shop to make room for a development that is part of Mayor Jerry Brown's plan to bring 10,000 residents to the central part of the city.”

• “Santa Cruz, CA, where city officials started legal action this month to seize a parcel of family-owned land that holds a restaurant with a high Zagat rating, two other businesses and a conspicuous hole in the ground and force a sale to a developer who plans to build 54 condominiums. The owner of the so-called ‘hole in the ground’ had ‘proposed hard-to-build, idealistic plans, involving alternative energy sources and unusual designs, that have never gotten off the ground’; his family says he's being penalized for trying to build something special on his property. The city says that its condemnation ‘is moving forward’ because ‘The Supreme Court gave us reassurance of our ability to proceed.’”

And that last line should make clear why something has to be done. Federalism is just one part of the separation of powers our founders gave us. The checks and balances of the three branches are another. And the federal government needs to pass a law that forbids the use of federal funds in an eminent domain decisions, which is what S. 1313 purports to do.

But in our opinion, it doesn’t go far enough – nowhere near. If the Supreme Court has given localities the reassurance of their ability to proceed to redefine the takings clause so that the government can confiscate private property for the benefit of big developers who will generate more tax revenue for the locality, then private property, perhaps one of the two most important hallmarks of our system, is a memory, even a joke.

S. 1313 has no real teeth (you can learn more about it here). If the law is broken, it doesn’t provide both an enforcement remedy and a remedy available to the property owner under attack. Our amendment does! But my favorite part is the penalty.

If you believe in the 10th Amendment, then you believe nearly everything the federal government spends money on is unconstitutional. Indeed, illegal. It’s hard to conceive of a transfer of funds from the feds to any locality that is constitutional. Our remedy would use a private taking for private purposes as an excuse to shut off the tap. That’s what I call a win-win.

Heck, I’d like to see localities try these takings so that they’d lose all of their federal dollars!

Thursday, August 25, 2005

Charging rent for stolen property

This message, sent on the Downsizer-Dispatch list Wednesday, generated a great deal of positive response, so I share it here with you...

Congress will return to work in just a few days. This work will consist of robbing, extorting, controlling, and spending the hard-working taxpayer into bankruptcy - handing out favors to friends, and piling up mountains of debts to cripple your children's future.

Since Congress makes the laws they are under the delusion that anything they do is legal, no matter if it is unwise, unethical, or un-Constitutional.

This may seem harsh at first glance, but I don't think it's that harsh when looked at more closely. There is something distinctly criminal about the way politicians do business. And I'm about to share a classic example with you (about charging rent for stolen property).

We need to shed our illusions about what a politician is. They may look nice, sound nice, and dress nice. They may have families and hopes and dreams just like we do. They may not look or sound like Tony Soprano. But the more I have been able to observe them, the more I have come to feel that there is something pathological about most successful politicians.

A successful politician is a person with a compartmentalized mind. A person who can say mutually contradictory things to different people and not even notice the contradiction. A person who can smile, and really mean it, while he punches you in the gut. A successful politician can rationalize or justify anything. These are the hallmarks of a sociopath.

Yes, I know, this is harsh. But I will assert again that it is also true. And yes, I know, there are exceptions, and I also know that not all successful politicians behave badly all the time. But exceptions do not establish the rule. It is important to understand that. . .

Our system has become so corrupt in so many ways that it is very difficult for a non-sociopath to get elected. It now requires a borderline criminal mind to negotiate the intricacies of gerrymandered districts, vote peddling, campaign finance laws, and other aspects of our rigged system. Our electoral process, as currently constructed, requires a person who looks like your neighbor, but behaves like Tony Soprano. It requires a sociopath.

This sociopathology is evident in the responses members of Congress have sent to DC Downsizers about the "Read the Bills Act." These responses are the most clever kinds of lies. Most of these responses have been crafted to persuade the reader that of "course the Congressperson agrees with RTBA," while making no commitment to do anything about it. These responses are the product of minds that can no longer fully distinguish right from wrong. They communicate the semblance of rectitude, but contain the substance of moral rot.

We must shed our illusions about "mom, apple pie, the flag, and the glories of democracy." We must understand that we are in a WAR.

Our enemy is the successful politician. Our enemy is a person who can say one thing and do another. Our enemy considers himself or herself above the standards of behavior that apply to normal human beings. Our enemy is the successful politician. And our enemy gives no quarter.

I will have more to say about this in the weeks and months ahead. I will argue that we need to put ourselves on a war footing - that we must think in a strategic and tactical way, in terms of war, and use war metaphors to focus ourselves for the fight ahead.

But to succeed at this, we must first come to recognize and accept, painful though it may be, the nature of our enemy. Our enemy is the successful politician, and our enemy is a sociopath. Our latest evidence of this comes from the Kelo case, which established the power of government to steal personal property for private gain.

The Kelo case came about because the city of New London, Connecticut seized private homes and land for the purpose of private development. The Supreme Court endorsed this theft, and in this confused day and age, that makes it the de-facto law of the land.

And now the politicians, who run the organized criminal band known as the City of New London, are charging the victims of this theft "back rent" for daring to continue to occupy their own property during the time when their case wound its way to the Supreme Court.

That's right. People who are having their property stolen from them are being charged rent for using their property by the very people who are stealing it from them.

It's time to hammer Congress again. It's time to demand that they do something to stop legalized theft. It's time to demand that they impose stiff penalties for any government entity that steals private property. And the way to do that is to add Downsize DC's enforcement amendment to S. 1313. You can send your message to Congress, demanding this action, by clicking here.

I would also like to thank the latest group of people to help us buy ammunition to fight our war against the criminal politicians. These are their names: Ralph Heymann, Arthur C. Wiggins, Herbert Boehl, John Savard, George C. Dick, J.M. Inks, Jr., William H. Olinger, David T. Yett, George Gardiner, Robert Throwbridge, Nancy Woods, Jason Hurst, Hank Brooks.

And I would like to thank the latest DC Downsizers to make a monthly credit card pledge to expand our fight. These are their names: John Notgrass, Robert L. Morgan, Jerold N. Arnowitz, Todd R. Singer, David A. Stansbury, Douglas Washington, Jeffrey S. Bloduc, David R. Mason.

And I would like to thank the following people for contributing $125 or more to join the Campaign Committee for the "Read the Bills Act": Dominic A. Solimando, Jr., James R. Back, David W. Landram, Dr. Michael Mitchell.

If you would like to join this company of fine people by making a contribution to fund our fight, you can do so here.

There is a box you can check on the contribution form if you wish your support not to be made public.

Thank you for being a DC Downsizer. More soon.

Jim Babka
DownsizeDC.org, Inc.

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Op-ed: The Truth About War: “Brookpark Marines” and a Message of Life

By Jim Babka

I’m from Northeast Ohio. Two weeks ago, the dominant news story was the funerals of young Marines, killed-in-action in Iraq. At a memorial service held as the bodies returned home to Brookpark, Ohio, Governor Bob Taft asserted that these young men “died for freedom.”

Well, I believe, and boldly assert that the Iraq War, which has slaughtered over 1,800 Americans and (conservatively) more than 28,000 Iraqis, is a needless, groundless, undeclared (therefore unconstitutional and consequently illegal) war, built on a foundation of lies (justifying impeachment).

If I’m even partially right, then those young men did not die for freedom – even if that’s what we’re being told and what all of us want to believe.

It’s hard to write those words, because when any of us loses a loved one under tragic circumstances, we seek meaning beyond the death – a sense of purpose that will blunt the blow of our loss.

This is a very human thing to do. I relate to it from personal experience.

Finding Meaning in Loss

In 1978, my 37 year-old mother was killed by a juvenile, drunk-driver. I was 10. Even then, I searched for meaning. In the changed lives of others, I found it. And I was ever so grateful that the line of “mourners” extended down the aisle, out the door, and around the building of the funeral home. Had my Mom touched so many lives?

So I can appreciate the ceremony and the thousands who salute these fallen men – who line procession routes, send condolence cards, and pay respects at the funeral home. It means a great deal to their families.

But at some point we must come to the recognition that death is the end of human life. It is not glorious for mortals to die. Those twenty-something’s who fall in THIS war and those who die in car accidents share something in common – both are truly victims.

We should be worried about sending the wrong message to our children – that dying for lying politicians is a worthy goal, a life well-lived. You see, politicians don’t really value these lives – they’re statistics in a bigger picture.

How Politicians Benefit from War-death

For those of us who are pro-life, this message, which is so hard to sell in today’s “culture of death,” must be proclaimed. I feel compelled to speak out against those who would commit the sons and daughters of hard-working Americans, even while their children and grandchildren enjoy the luxury and promise of long life… the opportunity to achieve career goals, start a family, and eventually, play with their grandchildren.

During the Iraqi War and Occupation, only two of those responsible for sending or permitting working-class children to go to this war, sent his own son, daughter, or grandchild.

Let’s put that in perspective. Neither George W. Bush nor Dick Cheney, not Don Rumsfeld, Paul Wolfowitz, or Colin Powell sent their progeny. None of 100 Senators and only two of 435 House Members sent their off-spring to face a death which they are so eager to call “noble” or “heroic.”

Don’t our leaders want their children to act nobly? …to be heroes and heroines? Or does this “honor” – this privilege to die – only belong to those who pay the salaries of these leaders with their sweat and toil?

Must they bear the sacrifice, while their leaders, posture?

Yes, politicians engage in posturing. As these young men were brought back to Brookpark, Ohio, as a memorial service was held in their honor, it was the politicians who were called upon to speak. No one thought this odd. It’s all become so normal. But,

Truly Honoring the Sacrifice

Why don’t the deaths of these young Marines stir us to moral action?

And what would constitute moral action?

Step one: An immediate and full withdrawal of our troops. Bring our children home. Let the reservists, in particular, resume their lives. They didn’t sign up for foreign adventure. Most signed up for their future – a college education. Yes, they’ll do their duty. Yes, they are committed and brave. But they pledged to defend their homeland and the Constitution – not be part of a “nation-building corps.”

Step two: Impeach the President and the Vice President, along with the Secretary of State and the Secretary of Defense. Their high crime was lying to the American people to get us into war. The motive is well-established for Cheney and Rumsfeld, in particular, when they signed an open letter to then-President Bill Clinton, as members of the Project for a New American Century. They alone saw in the terror of September 11th, a political opportunity. Impeachment would serve as a deterrent to future politicians eager to advance their agenda and enhance their legacy through war.

By taking these two steps we will truly honor the lives of these young men. Their dying purpose will be to teach the nation an expensive lesson it should’ve learned long ago – that, Randolph Bourne was right, “War is the health of The State,” and a boon for the power-lust of politicians, who don’t participate in the sacrifice, but stand to benefit at the expense of those who do.
Jim Babka is the President of the Downsize DC Foundation and DownsizeDC.org, Inc. He is also the host of the syndicated Culture Repair Show, and the writer and presenter of the audio “Why Conservative Christians Are Re-evaluating George. W. Bush.”
(Republishing this column is encouraged, so long as it's properly attributed and there's a link back to this blog -- notification or trackbacks appreciated).

Monday, August 22, 2005

Response to: Fr Oakes is wrong, we don't come from monkeys

Overnight, Bill Stenson wrote a comment to yesterday's entry on my blog. The issues he raises are so important, that I didn't want his comment, nor my response, to be lost in the comments section (a much-lesser read part of this site thanks to the fact that I don't yet know how to configure this page properly – but I'm learning HTML now, so give me some time).

Here is what Bill, a self-identified Catholic, wrote:

...This pseudo intellectualism that Fr Oakes engages in is partly due, as one of his critics describes, to his over "anxiety" to defend the Pope's 1996 qualified position on evolution. Fr Oakes gives the distinct impression that all opinions of the Pope are somehow ex-cathedra which must be defended to the last... We are free to reject this Papal opinion on evolution in the same way that we are free to reject his opinion that the EU is a good idea as these are nothing other than the Pope's political opinions which do not pertain to Papal pronouncements on faith and morals or the essentials of the Christian...

As regards the "order" argument that you comment on I see that Fr Oakes himself ascribes this only to point 5 of St Thomas's proof of the existence of God when he was talking about "things lacking awareness". Of course there is an order in the universe governed by "someone with awareness".

He was not talking about human beings that are created in the image and likeness of God but to "things" and objects. There is no proof anywhere that human beings evolved from a "thing" or an object or even an ape or a monkey and Fr Oakes himself seems to avoid discussing this in his discourse.

I would think the unique finger print of everyone that has ever been or will ever be, the unique genetic code, etc., is proof positive of intelligent design. We also have knowledge of right and wrong instilled in each one of us and that is the indellible mark of God in our conscience which shows itself from a very early age.

And now, my response:

I found Fr. Oakes to be anything but pseudo intellectual, and I don’t see what his motivations have to do with anything, even if he was only trying to defend the Pope (though the evidence that such was his primary motivation is scant).

No one wants to respond to Oakes’ "Intelligent Design leads to 'God of the Gaps' ...an incredible shrinking god" argument. I didn't take debate class, so I don't know what if, anything, is the form of logical error when one skips the counter-argument entirely and goes instead to their interlocutors' motivation?

Yet your concerns are valid. Let me try to answer your questions.

As for the distinction of "awareness", you seem to be suggesting that Aquinas' 5th point doesn't apply to humans. Do you go so far as to assert that humans engineer their own children? That anyone designed each of their distinctive characteristics? If so, what is the evidence for this? ...or was this an “ordered process”, completely compatible with Thomist thinking?

Let me go at this another way: Do you believe that _each_ biological human being is specifically created by God, and that this is the reason for unique finger prints, etc.? This would suggest that God involves Himself in every instance and element of biological development, rather than fashioning the genetic laws under which these processes occur. If so, does He provide birth defects?

You seem to be missing the actual distinction between "design" and "order" - perhaps even between plans and construction. The order, aka natural law, has, in my opinion, a lawgiver. This is an entirely logical premise, a reason to believe we are teleological beings. Science cannot demonstrate otherwise. As I stated in my last blog post, science is not the tool I would recommend for addressing this question.

Let me clarify: When I say, "teleological," I don't mean that in the old Paleyan sense, or in the way Intelligent Designers do as they place a giant mousetrap on the stage at one of their speaking events, and then they leap, via analogy, to the concept that somehow reproductive biology works like building that mousetrap (it doesn't). I see why this argument is appealing, but further instruction in how science works demonstrates that Paleyan design is a duck that won't hunt. So I mean teleological in the sense of the fine-tuning of the universe – The Anthropic Principle, if you will.

I would go even further than you offered Bill: There is, in my opinion, a God-shaped hole in mankind. Each of us seeks meaning beyond our day-to-day existence and our eventual death. It is to theology that man generally (and should) turns to find a way to fill this hole. Those that don't turn to theology make other choices to fill that space: many choose pleasure, others choose material possessions, and the morally darkest of us choose power (over others). The Bible, in particular, explains the futility and danger of these paths, and points us to another narrow lane.

In so doing, this book shares with us the story of the first man to "walk with God," the first human who was made conscious by God. The Genesis account reminds man that the Creator had drawn man from the Earth and had bestowed a special gift on the man. Now, this man had responsibility.

Thus, I think that Adam was "created" by God, in that he was animated by God with imagination and intellect. I think man was made in the image of God in that he was intended to be like the Logos (John 1... and before The Fall was "like Christ") – something each of our respective religious traditions tries to teach us. Creativity and sanctification are both outgrowths of this "god-likeness."

Instead of mousetrap and watch analogies to explain our biology, why not an Adam who was in the Garden of Eden as we can enter the Kingdom of God. As each of walks away from God, we lose life itself. We're barred from entrance into the God's Garden/Kingdom, if not for Christ. And our faith gives each of us meaning, and I believe, a future.

I keep coming back to one principle, over and over – and no one wants to respond to it.

God is NOT schizophrenic. If He is the Author of Nature (Rom. 1:18-20), and I believe He is, and the Author of (our special) Revelation (i.e., the Bible), then these two will be in agreement.

Both are being used to speak to us. Holding a literalist view of the Genesis account in the face of what has become overwhelming scientific evidence to the contrary is to ignore the first great work God authored – to my mind a sin. Treating science like the enemy is a stumbling block for our children, a form of anti-intellectualism, so many of whom will "outgrow" their faith when they find that it's just not relevant to daily life.

I, for one, refuse to confine God to the upper story of my existence – to make a schizophrenic divide in my own life between the public Jim and the private Jim, between facts and values. Character is destiny. Destiny is reality. Who I am becoming, because of my relationship with Christ, helps shape what I will be, or to put tongue in cheek, how I will evolve.

If you assume it was the intention of the Creator to make man and have a relationship with him... If you believe that it was God’s plan to give us the gifts of imagination and intellect, to make us almost god-like, both in the realms of creativity and the ability to make better moral choices... If the evidence convinces you that it was the Divine Lawgiver’s intent to have a well-ordered universe that was predictable, so that we could make plans and participate in improving the lot of humanity... If you confess that it was the Divine Author’s script that enabled us to discover both morality and the Lawgiver Himself (again, Rom. 1:18-20), while somehow respecting man’s contingent (often called, "free") will, then evolution is entirely plausible on a theological/philosophical basis.

And the monkey objection is a side-show.

Sunday, August 21, 2005

Links from today’s radio show...

Start with the Fair Tax website. An intriguing proposal and an easy to read book by Neal Boortz and Congressman John Linder, is also available at this website. Is the Fair Tax worth the effort? I’m investigating that. I'll probably have more to say about this in the near future.

Information about Larry Pratt’s radio show is available here.

The City of New London sinks to new lows in the Kelo/eminent domain fight. Not content with the unconstitutional decision they secured, they’re charging “back-rent” – 5 years worth – against the plaintiffs, wiping out their remaining equity. Learn the details here.
And then, take action here.

You only have to scroll down to the August 17 entry in this blog to see how I arrived at my decision that, “evolution is the best explanation presently available to explain our natural history.” One caller suggested that he can see design by looking at his own hand. Indeed.

I lacked time to fully respond (if you’d like to sponsor another hour, because I could certainly use it, let me know at jimbabka at jimbabka dot com). You can hear what I said about the Big Bang on today’s show once the archive is up and available (coming soon), and why it’s fully plausible (likely in my opinion) that there was a Being (God) who set the universe in motion and wrote its laws.

But I really encourage you to read the Fr. Edward Oakes articles to see why there’s a difference between “design” and “order” (I’m not going to give you the links here, because I really, really want you to go through my August 17 blog entry, and you can find them there).

Here’s my dirty oversimplification:

Anything that makes copies of itself (reproduction) is going to be different from the original. Some of those differences in the copy are going to be worse, and some better. Nature tends to preserve the superior copies and eliminate the inferior ones. And to that, even Intelligent Design doesn’t really object. They just call the part they agree with, micro-evolution. Where people get in trouble is that they look for an analog in the man-made mechanical world, and we haven’t yet made reproducing mouse-traps or watches.

Science is not a sufficient tool to tell us what happened before the Big Bang - to determine where the universe and natural law came from. But what happened after the Big Bang is traceable, and is becoming better known all the time because of science.

Intelligent Design suggests that “some intelligent entity” fills the gaps that science cannot explain. Still, most Intelligent Designers believe the Earth is billions of years old and refuse to say who this intelligent entity might be. They offer no falsifiable (a very important word) evidence to demonstrate their idea which is really more philosophical than it is scientific.

The problem is, if their model of design can be explained away (and most likely it will be, or already has been) the result is a loss of faith. Why not just view, consistent with Romans 1:18-20 (referenced twice in the August 17 piece) that the Author of Nature isn’t schizophrenic – that what He’s told us in His revealed Word is consistent with what He gives us in His created world?

Science should be viewed as a gift of God, rather than a threat to our Traditions.

Saturday, August 20, 2005

New post at DownsizeDC.com re: Homeschooling better than Gov-schooling

A wonderful article by entrepreneur Perry Marshall, demonstrating how and why Gov-schooling corrodes the entrepreneurial talents of its victims, forms the basis of my latest blog posting at the new, upbeat, human progress site, DownsizeDC.com. Before you leave a comment, whether or pro or con, go learn about and read the entire Marshall article. Trust me; it’s well worth your time!

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

A Shocker to My Friends – my new perspective on the question of origins

I wanted so badly for Young-Earth Creationism to be right. That was the fundamentalism with which I was raised. And my childhood wasn’t so bad. My mother and father were great people. You would’ve liked them. But the Earth is too old for that to work and the whole movement was anti-science – like science was somehow the enemy. That didn’t even seem Biblical to me (Romans 1:18-20).

Then, I wanted so much for Intelligent Design (ID) to be right. I mean, I really wanted it. At least this group seemed to be dealing with real science. Behe was demonstrating complexity in biology. Dembski was demonstrating the mathematical odds against the seeming randomness of evolution. Johnson was attacking the presuppositions and carving what was to become the Discovery Institute strategy. It sounded like an open dialogue in the liberal tradition. But alas, all they were offering was a spiffed up version of “the God of the gaps.”

It appears to this simple observer that both approaches are very flawed.

Evolution is the best theory we’ve got to explain, scientifically, our natural history.

Yes, I still believe in God and in Jesus as my Savior. Richard Dawkins is wrong to insinuate (with all the subtlety of a sledgehammer) that evolution suggests there’s no God. It does no such thing.

Genesis 1 doesn’t even seem to preclude an evolutionary approach. The question is really one of interpretation. Funny – it seems every other doctrine on the planet seems to hinge on interpretation method as well.

The dirty secret of Young Earthers in particular is that they don’t allow Scripture to speak for itself and they confine it to a vacuum (Sola Scriptura on Science). In this instance they ignore the very Author of Reality who explicitly intended for those who didn’t have His Scriptures to see the evidence of His existence in nature itself (again, Romans 1:18-20).

I’ve been left to wonder, how did Abraham make it to the Faith Hall of Fame (Hebrews 11)? Even the most ardent fundamentalist knows he didn’t have a single book of the Bible. But somehow, he saw and heard God who is the same; yesterday, today and forever.

Now, I was stalled in my journey because I noticed the overuse of ad hominem employed by the evolutionists. Usually, when you resort to name-calling, or even suggesting that your opponent is dragging his knuckles on the ground, you’ve conceded that you’ve already lost the argument – that this is the best you can muster. And the fury with which you evolutionists swarmed to attack the ID’ers, well, me was beginning to think ya’ll doth protest too much!

Alas, I “saw the light.” It didn’t help their case that the ID gang use a system of quoting their opponents that appears less than forthright – an approach that if honest (as they claim), could still be classified below-the-belt. And that made the fury on the evolutionist’s part more understandable.

Now, my pal Ed Brayton will be bothered by this next statement – at least I hope he is. This doesn’t mean that I’ll be joining his drive to have Evolution (notice the capital “E”) taught in public schools as our natural history. Because Ed loves science and is a libertarian, his campaign to protect the teaching of evolution in public schools is disturbing to me.

Ahh, I must wrap up. This is too long for a blog post.

I’d like to offer some advice to my new friends. Having just “come over,” now I can teach you something. In public at least… Stop yelling. Stop name calling. Stop poking fun. Start persuading; the facts are on your side.

And don’t make this a religious question – not if you really want to persuade people about SCIENCE. If philosophy and theology is your ax to grind, or you just hate God, then don’t expect people to let go of their hopes that the Discovery Institute or Answers in Genesis are the answer.

The straw that broke this camel’s back came in a Ronald Bailey blog entry about a Jerry Falwell Creation Conference in Lynchburg, VA. I’ve come to learn, again to my chagrin, that the central cast of the Christian Right leadership cares little about what the Bible actually says and more about being able to dine at Caesar’s table. All I need to know about Rev. Fallwell is the Justice O’Connor story, as told by Cal Thomas and Ed Dobson in their book, Blinded by Might and the unjust and fraudulent smear he made against the Life Extension Foundation. I believe he would’ve succumbed to the third temptation our Lord faced, and done so in a New York minute (and given his svelte figure, probably the first temptation as well: see Matthew 4), had he been so confronted and had it within his power to satisfy the devil’s wishes.

And so, if Jerry Falwell and other Christopublicans are riding the hobby horse of creationism and intelligent design, I instinctively wonder, “What’s wrong with these ideas?”

Here are some other resources that helped me to arrive at my present decision. Scan them and see if there’s some way you can employ them.

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Christ Had Room for Quantum Physics

Found this at MsquaredT blog. And I’m quoting it nearly in full here because even though I’m not a Moby fan, I think both he and Pastor Matt Thomas have some really good _questions_ for today’s church.

First, Moby:
so, do you think that it’s time to invent a new religion?
i mean, i know that sounds absurd and absurdly presumptuous.
but what do we know now that is different from what we
knew ages ago?
that the universe is gigantic?
that the universe is old?
that we are made up of matter that used to be other things?
that our actions are seemingly insignificant from a universal perspective?
that matter, at it’s most basic level, doesn’t do what
we think it would/should do?
i sound flippant.
but really, given what we know about the universe and about ourselves, isn’t it absurd to hold on to conventional ideas about our significance and identity and relevance and so on?
again, i sound flippant.
i don’t mean to.
but it’s hard to describe this in a journal(not blog)entry.
i actually think that the teachings of christ accomodate most of the new ways in which we perceive ourselves and our world.
the problem is that although the teachings of christ accomodate this, contemporary christianity does not.
here’s more seriousness dressed up as flippancy:
christ: acknowledging quantum realities.
christiantiy: depressingly newtonian.
does that make any sense?
well, to me it does.
and to some of you it might make sense, also.
i’m sorry that i’m being light and flippant.
i should just be straightforward.
we know things about our universe and about our world and about ourselves that make our previously held ideas about human significance utterly absurd. in order to move forward we need to accept that how we understand ourselves in the future has to be informed by what we know about ourselves from a quantum perspective.
and luckily, there’s not a christian(or new testament)perspective that compels us to hold on to much of tradition.
many christians might disagree, but i would ask them to cite scripture to support their dissent.
i know, ‘quantum perspective’ sounds nonsensical and nerdy.
but we need to move on(no political pun intended).
we all know better.
we’re all holding on to past conceptions of human endeavours and human significance, and they’re outdated and erroneous and anachronistic.
our human significance is both far greater and far smaller than anything than we’ve hitherto recognized.
that is the truth.

Pastor Matt Thomas:
The quantum perspective radically changed how we perceive the world; our structures have not yet dealt with that fact - even though quantum’s been around for nearly 100 years. Instead, we’ve told Jesus Christ that he cannot deal with this world, that he’s all about the next. We make going to heaven, i.e., getting the h*ll out of here, the end goal of faith, rather than “love God with your whole being and love your neighbor as you love yourself.”

But Jesus... was perfectly content with living in the smallest of quantum probabilities, and somehow knew how to access them - so that water could be walked upon, sight could be restored, the lame could be made to walk, and death could bring new life. Oh, yes, and locked doors could be passed through.

With Newton, these are abberations; with quantum, these are distinct possibilities, however improbable. Nevertheless, we don’t expect these things to occur. We don’t believe that they will happen, nor, to one extent or another, do we really want them to. They’ll stir things up too much.

Monday, August 15, 2005

Three More Hours of Jim Babka “On Air” - July 30 & 31

On July 30, I filled-in for Harry Browne again. But this show was different. HARRY RETURNS. Yes, Harry was a guest on his own show. His voice was in poor shape and he hadn’t followed the news for weeks, and yet, as a powerful testimony to the power of his ideology and philosophy, he had good insights on everything we discussed.

Harry started by explaining why he’d been away so long. Much of the show as devoted to the Libertarian Party’s “Commonsense” Iraq Exit-Plan. [Note: I wouldn’t have covered this topic if Harry hadn’t been my guest. Discussing anything Libertarian Party only manages to win you grudging enemies. There’s just no real upside. So don't bother writing me complaining about how this was covered. It'll do you as much good as teaching a pig to sing.]

Thanks to one of the callers, we also discussed getting screened at airports and searched at sporting events and more. Harry also gave a ringing endorsement for the Read the Bills Act. We had five callers and three emails.

Here's hour one. And here's hour two. Both edited for your listening pleasure.

The next day, I did my show. I had two callers. I opened the show by discussing how the House Leadership pulled some bad stunts as they pushed CAFTA through and I discussed the need to do something about these stunts. Robert O’Gwynn, programmer for DownsizeDC.org, joined me to talk about Senator Evan Bayh’s stonewall tactics. This week's GOA Update – last week’s goal of passing a bill in the Senate to protect gun manufacturers from frivolous lawsuits was partially realized and GOA has an action plan for a clean bill in the House.

It turns out the Kelo/eminent domain decision by the U.S. Supreme Court is being used just as we feared. And last night’s discussion of screenings and searchings inspired me to discover two great things we could to fight terrorism that respect individual rights.

Here's my show archive link, also edited for your listening pleasure.

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