Tam, on Sunday morning news talk shows:
The panelists, as is usual for one of these round-table chats, spanned the entire msnbc political spectrum, from Trotskyite to Anarcho-Syndicalist.


From Borepatch:
What is it that is best?  To crush your enemy's ideology, to see it driven from the airwaves, and to hear the lamentation of his Professors.

Is It Really Paranoia?

Just thinking aloud here.

How much would you like to bet that sometime in the next eight months, the IRS starts taking a close look at the Catholic Church - specifically, how the leadership of every Catholic Church dioceses has "injected" themselves into the political process, possibly in violation of their tax exempt status.

If not in the next eight months... then suppose Obama manages to eke out a victory in November.



I'm sure that, even given four years, he'd never even consider throwing his former Catholic supporters under the bus.  As long as the Catholic Church adapts its religious and moral teaching to the secular requirements of the government, obviously.

Revoking the Catholic Church's tax-exempt status would also sock them for a good-sized chunk of back taxes, fines, and the like.  Why bother?  I mean, what in the world would the government do with all that money?

I'm sure, too, that the idea of setting some precedents and then using the IRS to punish political opponents is a complete non-starter.  Especially for a president who doesn't have to worry about re-election, and whose former opponents are largely religious conservatives.

Even if there are some issues with the Catholic Church, I'm sure they'll be handled appropriately, after all. Just because one particular group butts heads with the government, that certainly doesn't mean that it's going to spill over and affect freedom in general or anything.


I'm absolutely sure that nothing like that could ever happen.

The A Miracle Occurs

"We’re making new investments in the development of gasoline, diesel, and jet fuel that’s actually made from a plant-like substance, algae -- you've got a bunch of algae out here," Obama said at the University of Miami today. "If we can figure out how to make energy out of that, we'll be doing alright. Believe it or not, we could replace up to 17 percent of the oil we import for transportation with this fuel that we can grow right here in America." 
If I may translate:
"We have no idea about how to actually use algae for fuel.  But we do know the exact effect it would have on our economy if we did."

Mr. President? 


Quote of the Day

Determinists believe, in effect, that we do not make decisions, so I am aways puzzled why determinists so patiently spend their efforts in trying to persuade me to decide to be a determinist. None seems to accept my explanation that I am programmed in inescapably to believe in free will, and have no choice in the matter.

81 = 51 = 121 = 01010001

Not that I'm feeling braggy or anything...
[samrobb@laptop ~]$ uptime
14:06  up 81 days, 22:17, 2 users, load averages: 0.46 0.43 0.41
Well, OK.  Maybe a little bit braggy.

Quote of the Day

Seen on /.:
The UN is totally dysfunctional in way that makes Washington DC look like a [bastion] of efficiency, honesty, and virtue.

A Brokered Convention for the GOP?

Bring on Gary Johnson, please.

I think that the only real hope the GOP has to survive as an entity that is more than superficially distinct from the Democratic party is to leave the left/right axis and move towards freedom, and a more Libertarian position.

Jennifer Fulwiler: HOW I BECAME PROLIFE

I realized that my definition of how and when a fetus became a “baby” or a “person,” when he or she began to have rights, also depended on his or her level of health: the length of time in which I considered it OK to terminate a pregnancy lengthened as the severity of disability increased. Under the premise of wanting to spare the potential child from suffering, I was basically saying that disabled fetuses were less human, had fewer rights, than able-bodied ones. It didn’t sit well. 
The whole thing started to get under my skin. At some point I started to feel like I was more determined to be pro-choice than I was to honestly analyze who was and was not human. I started to see it in others in the pro-choice community as well. On more than one occasion I was stunned to the point of feeling physically ill upon reading of what otherwise nice, reasonable people in the pro-abortion camp would advocate for.

Ruminations on Separation

There's a place near home that I work a volunteer at a couple of times a week.

There's a small staff - maybe 20 people.  The copier room in the main office has all the usual EEOC, OSHA, and other posters hung up.  You know the ones - all the applicable government regulations on minimum wage, working conditions, discrimination, hostile workplaces, workplace injuries, and so on.  All the rules and regulations that apply to a small organization.  No surprise; it's par for the course for every employer I've been at.

It's an educational institution, so there's kids about.  That means that the employees and the volunteers all have to get yearly background checks done.  Again, no surprise.  At this point - having been in the Navy, with three adopted children - I've probably had more background checks done on me than any 10 normal people.  Rules are rules, as they say.

The organization is a 501(c)3, so while I'm not involved in the financial side of things at all, I imagine there's quite a bit of paperwork and such involved with the accounting, reporting, and the like.  Maintaining non-profit status can be a bit of a bear, from what I understand.  Fortunately, they're able to have a full-time accountant to keep the books and file the right paperwork so they can keep their non-profit status.

They also get legal advice from another non-profit on how to avoid the various regulatory pitfalls that might cause them other problems with the government.  There are certain things they have to avoid in order to maintain that status, and the government's kind of picky about it.

They were fortunate enough to be able to build a new facility a few years ago.  There was quite a bit of wrangling with the municipalities involved... unfortunately, the property they bought spanned a township border, which lead to additional legal complications.  Nothing insurmountable, though there were environmental regulations that came into play as well.  All told, there were enough obstacles so that actually getting permission from the townships, county and state governments to break ground was something of a minor miracle.  

The facility is indeed nice - there's the school, a library, a full gym, a modern cafeteria, and all the offices and meeting rooms you'd expect.  I don't know for sure, but imagine that they get regular visits from the local building inspectors, fire chief, state health inspectors, and the like.  I'm sure the school has it's own set of inspections and auditing to deal with as well.  There are certainly state requirements for students (medical, dental, and attendance records), curriculum minimum standards to meet, national standardized tests they're required to administer and report, and so on.  Oh, and reporting requirements as well, for a variety of health and safety issues.

So many rules and regulations to follow, but follow them they do.

So many entities at the local, state, and even federal level that have some form of authority or oversight.

So far, they've managed to keep all their i's dotted and t's crossed, and so keep their doors open.

So far.

I'm quite glad that's the case.  It's a really good church.

Now... tell me again about this concept of "separation of church and state"?

A Gracious Reminder

Pray... then speak.

Thank you, Lord, for reminding me of this; and for saving me from myself today.

Minions Wanted

While I may aspire to someday become a nigh invincible evil genius, I'm aware of my limitations.  At the moment, being a mere stripling of only forty-mumble winters, I lack the skills necessary to be a true agent of malevolence in the world.  As such, I'm more of a thinker.

An evil idea man, if you will.

Which is why I'm putting the following idea out there for y'all.  I figure that somewhere out there has to be the person capable of running with this, and hey - who am I to stand in your way?  Your success will just make my victory so much the sweeter when I eventually crush you into dust.  You know, when I get around to it.

Anyways, here it is - the beginnings of a new campaign:

Mock the Vote 2012

Commercial.  Imagine a poisonous little girl.  You've seen Nellie on "Little House on the Prairie", right?  Yeah.  That's exactly who I'm thinking of.

Scene 1: Schoolyard

Nellie is about 9.  A little boy is running around and playing with his friends.

Young girl, to Nellie: Come on, let's play!

Nellie:  Eeeeew!  I don't wanna play with him!  He's dirty!

Young girl (confused, looks at boy): No, he's not...

Nellie (haughty look, superior voice):  Yes, he is.  Everybody knows that!

Scene 2: Junior High

Nellie is about 13,  In the gym.  A basketball game is going on.  Whistle blows, and a young man lines up for a free throw.

Young man: Come on, Jim!  You can do it!

Nellie: Ugh.  Why are you rooting for him?  He steals stuff.  He's a thief.

Young man (looks at Nellie, confused): Huh... what?  No, he's not.

Nellie: Of course he is!  Everybody knows that.

Scene 3: High School

Nellie is about 17.  Bell rings, kids file out to lockers.  A young man is talking with a young lady and laughing.  He turns to his locker, she starts to walk away.  Nellie falls in step with her.

Young lady (seems a little put out at seeing Nellie beside her): Oh, hey - what's up?

Nellie: Why were you talking to him?

Young lady: Oh, Rob? (smiles) He's really cool, he...

Nellie (vehemently, interrupting): No, he's not.  He's a jerk.  He treats girls rotten.

Young lady (taken aback, looks a bit upset): No, he doesn't.  He's sweet!

Nellie: No, he's a jerk.  Everybody knows that.

Scene 4: College

Nellie is about 21.  Two girls talking at a lunch table outside a cafeteria as students walk by.

Nellie: I don't see why you're even thinking about going to that stupid meeting.

Young woman (blinks): Well, I was talking to this one guy and he had some good points about the economy , so...

Nellie (interrupts, forcefully): They're conservatives!  They want to ban birth control!

Young woman (obviously confused at the change in subject): What?

Nellie (smugly): You didn't know that?  It's true.  Everybody knows that.

Scene 4: Nellie Alone

Nellie is now about 25.  She is looking directly into the camera.

Nellie (enthusiastically, all smiles): You really should vote for President Obama!  He's, like, the best President ever!


Nellie (smile disappears; low, menacing voice): Everybody knows that.

Fade to black

The Things Kids Say

It was a wonderful morning in the household.  When I came downstairs this morning, my two youngest daughters had Gitchi Gitchi Goo queued up on the iPad, ready to play for Dada as a Valentine's Day present.  As I dropped them off for the school bus this morning, my middle daughter leaned over and whispered "I know something you don't... there's a surprise in your lunch box!", giggled madly, then rushed off to the bus.

After that, it was time to head back to the house, pick up my wife and oldest daughter, and head out to Starbucks for Starbucks Appreciation Day.  We pretty much had the store to ourselves, so we enjoyed a lovely little breakfast and talked about matters of great import - the fact that Han shot first.  I let the manager know that we were there because we approved of Starbucks' corporate policy (or lack thereof) on gun control, and he told me he had already had several people express the same sentiment.  Wonderful!

On the short trip to Starbucks, I explained what we were doing, and why we were going, to my oldest daughter.  I told her that there were people who were angry with Starbucks because they didn't ban people who were carrying guns from their store, and who would like it if nobody except the government was allowed to have guns.  I let her know that while we were going to their store as a Valentine's Day treat, we also wanted to let them know that we liked their policy of not getting involved and just selling coffee.

We also talked about what it would mean if Starbucks were to say "No guns in our stores!"  I asked her what kind of people obeyed the law ("Well, people!") , and what kind of people didn't obey the law ("Oh... criminals.")  So if people obeyed the law, and criminals didn't... what kind of people would take guns into a store if they weren't allowed to?

She mulled that over for a bit, then looked at me and said, "Criminals.  Huh, that's stupid." 

After a moment, she grinned at me, and said "Happy minor political protest day, Dada!"

Indeed, kiddo.  Indeed.

She's going to be ready for her Junior Wookie Suit real soon now... and I couldn't be a prouder papa.

Correct me if I'm wrong, here...

Over the past few days, I've seen a push from progressives to frame the current HHS debate as something like the following:  "If you don't support the idea that an employer's health insurance must pay for contraceptives and abortions, then you're denying women access to reproductive health care!"

Let's ignore the "reproductive health care" bit, which is laughable.

How in the world are they missing the whole "employer" part?

Here, let me make it clear for you:

If your employer's health care coverage doesn't include something you want... why not TAKE SOME OF  THE FREAKING MONEY YOUR EMPLOYER PAYS YOU AND BUY IT YOURSELF?

Seriously, folks.  For birth control, we're talking about $10/month, here.

It's really actually amazing, and quite liberating - taking money I've earned, and spending it on things that are important to me.  Y'all should try it sometime.

With a Single Word

There's an awful lot wrong with this announcement.  Let's just focus on one thing, shall we?  Say, one single sentence:
Obama will require insurance companies to cover the costs of birth control for employees of religiously affiliated organizations, including hospitals and schools, officials said.
In fact, let's narrow the focus even further.  There's one word that's really, really wrong here, and it's pretty significant.

It is, in fact, the first word in the sentence.


As in "Obama will require..."

You know what?  I don't care what Obama will require.  Obama isn't a legislator.  Obama doesn't make the laws, regardless of what the idiot MSM likes to think, or wants you to think.

He's the president of the United States.  Reach back to your high school civics class.  Do you remember who the PotUS is, what that job means?

It means he's the chief executive.  His job is the execution of federal law.

He does not get to decide what the law will be.

Except that our wonderful so-called legislators were unable, in 1300+ pages, to actually define what the law is regarding this so-called health care reform.

So... before he can implement and enforce the law, the president has to define what the law is.

I do not believe that that was an oversight.

It was intentional, because it gets us to that hideous phrase, "Obama will require..."

Not "Congress".  Not "The White House".  Not even "Health and Human Services".


What do you call someone who both makes and enforces the law?

In modern usage, the term "dictator" is generally used to describe a leader who holds and/or abuses an extraordinary amount of personal power, especially the power to make laws without effective restraint by a legislative assembly. Dictatorships are often characterized by some of the following traits: suspension of elections and of civil liberties; proclamation of a state of emergency; rule by decree; repression of political opponents without abiding by rule of law procedures; these include single-party state, and cult of personality.
Let's sum it up...

  • Personal power?  Check.
  • Power to make laws without effective restraint?  Check.
  • Suspension of civil liberties?  Check.
  • Rule by decree?  Check.
  • Repression of political opponents?  Check.
  • Failure to abide by rule of law procedures?  Check.
  • Cult of personality?  Check.

All that's missing from that list is a proclamation of a state of emergency, and suspension of elections.

Of course, the chances of either one one of those happening, let alone both, are... well.

What was that quote about a good crisis, again?  Ah, yes:

What's that, you say?

Tired of hearing heated argument and rhetoric about HHS and Obamacare?

Feeling lukewarm and uninterested in Yet Another debate about the economy?

Does the thought of another article about the GOP boy band of Mitt, Rick, Ron and Newt got ya down?

Are you thinking, "Man... I'd like a different sort of flame war tonight"?

We've got you covered!

Here you go - a nice, hot, steaming pile of GPL compliance ranting and counter-ranting for you!

No thanks needed.  You're quite welcome.  It's just part of the services we offer here at The Embedded Theologian.

Disclaimer: I've worked with a couple of the main actors in this debate, which actually makes it quite interesting for me.  If you pressed me, I'd have to come down on the side of Tim Bird and Rob Landley, the folks who are taking most of the heat in this thread.  I honestly don't think that their critics understand their point.  They're not trying to make it possible for companies to more easily violate the GPL - trust me, I know those two, and that's the furthest thing on their minds.  What they are trying to do is eliminate what has become a  disproportionate risk for vendors who use the BusyBox software.  Not "risk of someone finding out we've violated the GPL", but "risk of lawsuit approaching 100% if we use this particular GPL package".  Lawsuits, whether they have any merit or not, have a cost.  That's what companies are trying to avoid, and if ditching BusyBox means ditching other OSS-based projects that rely on it... well, that's what they call "collateral damage".  Collateral damage that is doing more harm than good.  If that damage can be avoided by conning up a BSD licensed replacement for BusyBox, it's hard to fault them - especially when there's a pretty good time honored OSS tradition of solving legal problems by writing new code.

And... if any of that actually makes sense to you, you have my respect, and my sincere sympathies.
Dual-barreled goodness today!  First the Czar, and now Borepatch:

The United States Constitution in general, and the Bill of Rights in particular, is structured in a very peculiar manner.  Most of what's there defines what the Government cannot do.  Congress shall pass no law respecting an establishment of Religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof: The First Amendment.  The right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed: The Second Amendment...
The mask slipped, in a big way here.  This is only nominally about religious freedom and the Catholic Church.  It's about Congress shall pass no law vs. Come the Revolution you'll do as you're damn well told.

The HHS ruling on Obamacare is not a Catholic issue.

It is not a Christian issue.

It is not a religious issue.

It is a freedom issue.

Edit: As usual, someone else - in this case, Jill of Pundit and Pundette - makes the same point, although much more clearly than I could.  As she comments, you don't even need to consider the problems the latest HHS ruling has with respect to Catholic hospitals... because there is no exemption for individuals under the mandate, either:

In other words, you don't have to run a Catholic hospital or school, or even a non-denominational donut shop, to be affected by the mandate. You merely have to collect a paycheck. Individuals, as Mr. Capretta points out, have no recourse, no way to exempt themselves from paying for whatever the HHS commands them to pay for. 
As it amasses more and more power, the last thing the Obama administration is going to worry about is some peon clinging bitterly to his puny little conscience.

On The Aerodynamics Of Building Materials

As usual, the Czar is spot on:
A couple of explanations: first, the Czar— — as perhaps some of you know — —is the least church going member of the Gormogons by far. Indeed, when it comes to religious loyalty, we are pathetic. Terrible. But even a badly wayward and sinful Czar can point to the truth and say it: Catholics cannot justify supporting pro-abortion candidates without exemplifying the most extreme hypocrisy. If you call yourself a Catholic, and knowingly support candidates who approve of murdering children, nothing else in your faith matters.
I'd be remiss if I didn't point out that, theologically speaking, the Czar and I have what some folks might consider irreconcilable differences.  As far as I can recall, the official Catholic position is that salvation is not possible outside of the Catholic Church.  As a former Catholic who has rejected Catholicism, my understanding of this is that according to the teachings of the Catholic Church, I'm a heretic.

Eh.  It happens.  Find a random crowd of people, toss a brick, and you'll probably bop someone over the head who thinks that my understanding of and worship of God is wrong.  The details aren't really important.  They might be Jewish, Muslim, Catholic, Mormon, 7th Day Adventist, Presbyterian, Quaker, Lutheran, Anglican, Buddhist, Agnostic or Atheist.  About the only thing that you can really say for sure is that they're almost certainly going to be somewhat indignant at having a brick lobbed at them.

That said... while there are certain issues we might have regarding the practice of the Christian faith, we can agree on a number of things.  One of these is that murdering children is wrong.  Another is that while we may have different views of God, it is good thing - in fact, a most excellent thing - that we live in a country where each person is not only allowed to, but even encouraged to make their own choices about God and religion.  Whether you are pro or anti, or could not care less, we are here to tell you that we are here to... let you get on with your life, accompanied by a blessed absence of aerodynamic brick-like objects.

What a concept.

Now, in real life, you generally don't get idiots lobbing bricks into a crowd.  With the latest HHS ruling on Obamacare, though, we've got ourselves a situation.  One of our Catholic friends in the crowd - whom we get along with rather well, thank you, despite our differences - just took a rectangular building thingie to the head.  Looking around, it's pretty apparent that there's a nasty looking piece of work hanging around at the edge of the crowd, brushing some brick dust off of his hands.

Now, some of his putative friends are loudly proclaiming that said nasty looking piece of work wasn't really aiming for our Catholic friend.  He just happened to be the largest target in the crowd, and someone was bound to get hit with that brick, don'cha know.  It's no big deal, really.  Best not to read too much into it, because sometimes things just happen, you know?

While they're going on about how this is just one of those things, said nasty piece of work is doing his best to try and look innocent.  At which point some of the folks in the crowd - my Catholic friend, a good Muslim buddy of mine, a couple of Jewish gentleman and and an atheist or two - can't help but notice that the trying-to-look-innocent (but failing miserably) nasty piece of work just happens to be standing by a large pile of rectangular building thingies.

And just happens to be eyeing the crowd in a rather speculative manner.

So.  My question.

If we shrug it off - if we accept that this is just one of those things - or even imagine that our Catholic buddy was asking for it for some ill-defined reason... tell me: how long will it be before there's another brick lobbed into the crowd?

And can you be absolutely sure that, regardless of what you may or may not believe, that you are not going to be on the receiving end of the next flying piece of masonry?

Just sayin'.

Presidential Campaigning Made Simple

Mr. Correia has a simple, straightforward, and clear set of criteria for selecting a presidential candidate.  I'm giving serious consideration to adopting his standards as my own, for what I think are obvious reasons...
Which ever presidential candidate steps forward and boldly proclaims that he’s willing to respond to Nigerian spammers with nuclear weapons has my vote.
Mmmmmm!  Nuclear fried spammer sounds delicious.