Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Constantly In Touch With My Nadir*

I deal in despair. I deal with despair. I despair quite frequently over my, relatively speaking, excellent circumstances. And the truth is that I hate to belabor the point, but I am the apotheosis of one who lives in despair. I've got money in my bank account, a beautiful wife, a college education, and if my religion turns out to be right then I'm going to heaven—but don't forget that I'm an America, the necessary corollary being I take all that for granted and generally envy everyone else. The quotidian is such a given, but still we (the royal we, as in "we Americans") think we're too good for it. Even to be mordant about it is still a form of sheltering yourself from the truth.

I know that man at large would readily enjoin a prescription for my woes: Take delight in your day to day and count your blessings. Of course, technically they are right, but life is so much more difficult than following platitudes. The truth is that I suffer in thralldom to my discouragement. I've become inured to doubting my every threat of possibility.

I think I am in irredentist in the sense that I believe we should still have duels. You know, with the guns and the paces and the honor? I love the idea of the whole turgid affair; the crepuscular machinations, the no nonsense, realpolitik liaison. I advocate on behalf of it because it would occlude so much of the hot air that is expelled in our culture. "Oh really, you think you're better than me, that's it, let's duel." If it were truly to be effective then it would have to be sanctioned by law or else it would be so uncommon as to be irrelevant. The matter should be put to a plebiscite; would the solipsistic cowards win out? Probably. Of course I fear a bullet, but I don't run from it. I try to abnegate myself when the world is looking. Now what I do in the dark, thankfully no one else sees that. Does this make me essentially protean? Aren't all of us? Show me a man who is the same around his mother and his brother and his coke dealer and I will show you a clarion-call liar. Anyone who offers me any disputation on this point is exactly the selfsame as I am describing, and if not then a simulacrum of said liar.

The truth is that I advocate dueling because I am an old hand at jumping to conclusions. "May we get the damn thing over with," would be another way of expressing it. I don't want to say that I make an effort to extirpate the details, but I'm at a loss to find a better way to put it. Of course I could launch into a casuistry wherein I show you that up is really down and that dispensing with the details is really the highest form of genius. Oh, it would be glorious, and I could truly pull it off. The peroration would begin with over two dozen allusions to Shakespeare and his ilk. For my part, to take such action would be to suborn a favorable reaction from you, dear reader. Once you came to your senses you'd cry, "imposture!" and you'd be right. You'd throw all kinds of obloquy my way, and after initial, lackluster protestations I would probably join you in your disapprobation.

The truth is that I get most of what I want through lapidary means, but, come to think of it, that really is neither here nor there.

*It should be noted that all of the above words that I linked for your enlightenment were words that I highlighted during my reading this past week because I did not know them. They were all from Christopher Hitchens' book, "Letters to a Young Contrarian," which was, needless to say, excellent. Nay, a freshet of gnomic delight.

p.s. I know you don't nadir, and of course I wasn't clear on it either, and you can't do links in your title, hence the link in the p.s.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

The Dismal Christian Response to Gay Marriage

Shooting down Christian arguments against gay marriage is as easy as murdering the fish in the proverbial barrel. The arguments are almost uniformly condemned as narrow-minded, ignorant and bigoted, and that's because they are.

This November California will vote on Proposition 8, a measure that, if passed, would rewrite the California constitution to define marriage as between a male man and a female woman (yes, these days you do need to make the distinction). The argument in favor of the proposition is mostly being advanced on a false point of outrage: That the will of the people has been overturned by radical, unelected officials. I once was manipulated by conservative pundits to be outraged by "judicial activism," but I now see the superfluity of it. The charges of activism and overruling the people are defunct in light of the fact that the judiciary is exercising their constitutional requirement of interpretation. And no amount of ire and heavy breathing will make a dent in someone fulling their duties as commanded by law. Now, we may disagree with their interpretation, but that's a different issue requiring different vehicles of attack now, isn't it?

In consideration of these facts, when we actually do the math and roll the numbers out we find that all of that phony outrage equates to this retarded statement: I'm outraged at you because you disagree with me. Well pardon me if I'm not interested in wasting my precious breath on such puerile twaddle. ("Geez Jason, don't pat yourself on the back or anything," said the collective readership. I'm sorry, you're right. When you reflect on this entry in hindsight please tone down my self-righteousness by half to make up for my oversight. Thank you.)

Unfortunately what we find is that the veneer of outrage is quickly stripped away to reveal that Christians don't want gay marriage because of religious considerations they have made for themselves. They think that being gay is immoral, so it shouldn't have the blessing of government. The Christian's first sin is their inconsistency. They don't seem to mind that the U.S. government frequently rewards the greedy, the lazy, and the hoarder of wealth (an action condemned by the New Testament).

The Christian's second sin is their...bigotry. Yes, their bigotry (keep in mind that I am one of these Christians who believes what the Bible says, and therefore what God says, about homosexuality). Their bigotry is expressed in their feeling that in a democracy their religion should be followed, should have a knee bent towards it from the non-believers, but everyone else's religion should be paid no mind. The Christian would laugh in the face of the Mormon or the Muslim who said that we should outlaw alcohol and caffeine because God forbids it. "But I don't believe that." Wouldn't that be the response? "Who are you to inflict your religion on me?" It is problematic indeed.

And it can go on like this forever. In the end we find that Christians are wrong to advocate for laws against gay marriage on religious grounds. God himself does not want someone following his rules who aren't following them in their hearts. God gets no glory in compulsion. If the Christian is successful in using the force of law to compel an individual away from marrying within their sex God has not been glorified.

"So where do you stand, Jason? Have you gone all liberal on us? Have you given in to the pull of the society?" Me? Oh, thank you for asking. I'm against same-sex marriage. But I take what I believe to be the only valid line of reasoning, one of which many gays and liberals agree with.

God's laws are not arbitrary. God laid down his rules because they have practical, real world implications. He did not make his laws to give you something to follow. He made his laws to protect you. U.S. law does not need to consciously reference the 10 Commandments because the bulk of them are self-evident. God has made it so that we can talk about His truths without having to point to the rulebook.

All research tells us, and our experience and gut feelings support the idea, that the best situation for a child is a mother and a father in the home. We're just talking about the ideal, here. Of course many children are not fortunate enough to have this, and of course plenty of children turn out great who do not have this. But it is in the government's best interest to see as many children as possible grow up in a home with a mother and a father in it. To say that any other relationship is worthy of marriage is to be institutionally cruel to children. It would be irresponsible of the government to say that a child is as well off with no mother, or with no father. But that is exactly what it would be doing by legalizing same-sex marriage.

That's the argument, in a nutshell. You don't have to agree with it, but I don't think you can call it bigoted. The only trick for me is making sure that it's true, that I really believe it, and I'm not just pretending this is the best argument in order to cover for my latent homophobia. It's certainly possible, but I don't think that it is the case.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Vote McCain or Don't Vote

No, it isn't a joke, I mean it. If you're not voting for John McCain then I really rather you not vote. I'm not saying I'm going to do anything, I'm not necessarily saying that I'll do something to try and disrupt the process, but I haven't ruled that out, yet. I understand that this is not the greatest thing to say. I know this is a bit of a desperate measure, and on some levels I apologize for that.

Look, I'll acknowledge my bias right up front: I really want McCain to win this election. It's not personal, it's business. I don't think that he necessarily deserves to win, I don't think he's run that great of a campaign, nonetheless it is his kisser I'd like to be staring at for the next eight years rather than Obama's. And if it's all just the same to you anyway, or if you don't feel as passionate about is as I do, then please just sit home on election day. You might wonder, "Well, do I have as much passion as this guy does?" Let me ask you, have you written a blog urging people to not vote? So no, you don't have as much passion as I do.

It's tricky when you do something like this. Yes, absolutely, some of the sheep out there will listen to me and I will have helped out McCain at least a little. But then there are the other ones. A lot of people will want to be contrary, rebelious, and I could end up doing more harm than good. A measure like this might even drive more people to the polls because they feel this is an act of persecution. To those people I say this: That's so predictable. That's just so, so typical that you would have a reaction like that. But you should, you should go out and vote now, just to prove how mediocre and ridiculous you really are. Loser.

I'm now going to say a bunch of things that I don't believe, but if it helps, I guess it's worth a shot: Obama is a Muslim. Obama will codle our enemies and use the American flag for a bath towel. Barack Obama hates your guts and wishes that you would have to forclose on your house. Obama once thought about being gay, but then thought better of it and finished his meatball sandwhich. Obama doesn't just pal around with terrorists, he plays squash with them. If Barack Obama gets elected president every black person in this country will get a $100,000 raise, and any white person who complains will receive a 3.5% pay decrease for each infraction.

I've done all that I can do. Now I can only pray.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Nickelodeon Poll Tells the Real Truth

I have great news for all of my fellow conservatives out there, the race is much closer than you think. Here is the proof:

A Nickelodeon Presidential vote found that Obama won 51 to 49 over McCain. We're talking 2.3 million kids that voted!

Why Jason? Why is this such great news? Fine, I'll tell you: the traditional polls are telling us that Obama is up 5.2 percent, and that's at least. As in, he's at least up by that much, but probably more. And when the news, when the liberal media, when the pinko, commi media, when the guerrilla leftist barking dog media—sorry, I'm just kidding, I don't really mean all that. Anyway, so when the media do a poll they ask about 1,100 people who they are voting for.

But there is no greater indicator of what adults are thinking than what their children are thinking. Think about it, there is no possible way that a child can take a cold-eyed look at the issues and the candidates and then make a decision as to who they wish to support. They pick it up by osmosis. All of us become little versions of our parents until we begin to make our own way in the world, and even then the apple doesn't fall too far from the tree. Someone find me a 9-year-old that has serious disagreements with their parents on judicial activism and campaign finance reform and I'll show you a kid that needs to be put in a CIA lockbox and lets see how this raw talant can be exploited.

In the first grade I voted for Dukakis on the chalkboard. Yet my parents were voting for Bush. Do you know why I did that? Peer pressure, baby. I actually went home and appologized to my mom, I think I might have even cried. She understood, I mean, I didn't get any dinner that night, but I think she understood. Anyway, this is also good news. Not only do the the children tell us what the parents are thinking, peer pressure also causes kids to say a certain thing. And there is not one who likes to guilt and peer-pressure like a self-righteous liberal.

So if Nickelodeon, a poll of 2,000 times the normal amount of people, and peer pressure leaves us with a race of 51 to 49—according to my calculations McCain is sitting very pretty.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

The Nielsen Family I Never Knew

I just learned the craziest thing tonight: I know a Nielsen family. You know what the Nielsen rating is, don't you? It's the system by which the government or whoever decides which shows will remain on the air and which ones won't. They put their special boxes in several thousands homes across the country and they report what those people are watching and that is how shows get their ratings.

Anyway, I've known these people for awhile now, but I only tonight learned about their coveted Nielsen status. How can something like that happen? How can you know someone but not know some of the most important things about that person that make up who they are? I don't want to say that I feel cheated...more just, I don't know, hornswoggled, I guess.

The truth is when I was a kid I would really only pray for two things: That God would let me fly at least once (like a bird, not in a plane), and that He would let be a Nielsen boy so that I could help determine what America would watch. And, so, yeah, I guess it just kind of hurts that He would make good on the first one and put the second one so tantalyzingly close, and yet not within reach.

Is it possible for me to just be happy for these people even though they've basically ripped my dream from my proverbial womb, as one untimely born? I guess the coming months and years will give me my answer.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Building The Case To Vote For Obama

I know, this is going to be bad. Jason, you're turning on everything that you've ever stood for (at least for the last six years). No, it isn't that bad...you'll see. I didn't even want to commit this to the internet, but after talking it out with my wife she said I have no choice.

I'm experiencing slight buyer's remorse. I've been sure of my vote for McCain since I cast my vote for him in the primary (at that time I thought I would vote for Huckabee, but by that time we were seeing just how much ass The Surge was kicking and I almost shed a patriotic tear as I filled out the ballot). But then the last six month happened. Let me take you through my process.

Intellectuality:

Obama comes across as a very intellectual guy. But more importantly, he comes across as intellectually generous. He seems always willing to meet the other guy where he is at and give credit where credit is due. I really admire that in a man. McCain has been much more stingy in giving credit where credit is due, and much more apt to criticize Obama on a technicality than vice versa. After the first debate conserservatives were trying to say that McCain won and pointed to the fact that very often Obama said, "You're right," to McCain. I was a little baffled because I thought that spoke much more well of Obama and his fair-mindedness than it proved that McCain had won the debate.

Running of the Campaign:

My favorite conservative commentator, Michael Medved, says that the way a person runs their campaign is an excellent indicator of whether or not they will be a good president. Well that advice may come around to backfire on him because it seems to me fairly obvious that Obama has run the better campaign. This whole business of McCain "suspending" his campaign to give attention to the financial crisis was embarassing, erratic and untrue (he continued to run his ads during the "suspension"). He can't seem to decide on his theme or tactics; he stated that Reverend Wright was off the table, but then he went after the tenuous connection to Bill Ayers—and Obama rightly spanked McCain on the fact that he wasn't man enough to say it to his face. On the other hand Obama has run an excellent campaign, and he has never cracked under the pressure (when Biden starting looking like a real sorry pick, when McCain surged in the polls). The guy has been as cool as a cucumber, and clearly he is the more even-tempered of the two men (perception being all I have, perception being everything).

Faith of Our Fathers:

Honestly, Obama speaks more eloquently about his faith than McCain does. It is not a prerequisite for me that my candidate be a Christian, but I am intrigued by his Christianity. No doubt he and I would have disagreements about how our shared faith should be administered, but he is a much more convincing Christian, it seems to me, than John McCain is.

Being the President of the United States:

There is no doubt in my mind that Barack Obama comes across as much more "presidential" than McCain. Obama pointed out that he doesn't, "Look like all those other guys on the dollar bills," but with his oratory skills, the way he carries himself and his magnanimous disposition he could have fooled me. Now, coming across as presidential is not the most important thing in my my mind, not by a longshot. But perhaps it deserves a little more importance than I give it credit for. When I think about how our next president would react to an emergency situation I feel much more at ease when I think about president Obama than I do about president McCain. Like I said, he is intellectually generous, intellectually agile and seems more apt to do what needs to be done rather than be bound and gagged by his ideology (kind of like Bill Clinton). Look, I know that is going to just kill a lot of conservatives, but the last time I checked our leaders don't speak from Sinai and our beliefs weren't handed to us on stone tablets etched out by the finger of God (unless you have hard evidence in demonstration to the contrary in whichcase I would love to see it).

Conclusion:

If I were voting strictly on the issues there is no doubt that I would vote for McCain (though I would pay less in taxes under Obama, but that is solely selfish reasoning). If I were voting strictly on the man, on his temperament and on his ability to lead and his effectiveness as a leader, I think at this time I'd be leaning more towards Obama.

But the Big But: In the end much of the criticism about Obama is true and difficult to get away from. He doesn't have executive experience, he's never taken on his own party, he hasn't even finished a whole term as a senator, those are no small facts. McCain has a long and sometimes unfortunate history of reaching across the isle to make things happen. His Maverick status is not self-inflicted—the media loved him when he was frequently at odds with the Bush administration. And, at the end of the day you really only have to say one thing to bring me running back home to John McCain: Supreme Court Nominees. I want people who believe in truth that is real, not the truth of the moment, or the truth that has evolved, but the truth that is everlasting and not up for debate.

So at this point, on October 12, 2008, I still pull the lever for John McCain, but I have my doubts.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

A Few Things That Are Scary

In preparation for Halloween I thought I would share a few scary ideas:

Do you ever finish composing an email, say, maybe late one Friday nite? Sorry, I shouldn't have ended that sentence there, it isn't quite complete (I mean technically it's a complete sentence, but it isn't the idea exactly as I wanted it expressed).

To rephrase: Have you ever finished typing a heated, passionate email, stopped to review it, and then moved your mouse ever so slowly down to the delete button, because you would basically have died if you accidentally sent the thing? That happens to me fairly frequently. Combine that with the fact that I have definitely misfired a few emails from time to time, as in accidentally hit the send button, and it can all get pretty scary. I thank the God of my parents choice that these have never been socially sensitive emails, but I fear one day it will happen.

It's just a funny moment, when you realize your life would significantly shift if this email went out, and your senses heighten, and the only thing that matters in the whole world is that you calmly, deftly make sure you don't hit send.

You know how when you're walking down a hall, and then you see someone coming the other way, and you begin to prepare how you will make your pass? And you get it all lined up, but then they end up dodging the same way you do, and then again, and you're doing this very awkward shuffle and trying to chuckle it off while the pressure mounts for one of you to do something different. Well, all I wanted to say about that is that, theoretically, that can go on forever. It can. There is nothing stopping you both from each making the same decision over and over and over again. Now, it never does, but the Mariners never win the World Series, but that doesn't mean they can't.

Yesterday I got scared because I thought I had an affliction. To preface: rabies is a disease that gives you an uncontrollable desire to bite people. My friend got it once and I still have the scars to prove it (that's a lie, but it would be a good story if it were true). Well, yesterday I thought I had rabies, but not the form where you feel like biting people; I had this uncontrollable urge to push people over. I was walking through a restaurant, I saw a waiter, and I just wanted to put my hands on his chest and send him to the floor (thank God it wasn't a woman, I wouldn't want to have to explain that to God and man and my wife). Then I saw some people sitting at a table and I wanted to go push them over, too. But this would have been a bad idea for two reasons: a) they're in a sitting position so when I went to push them they would have just slumped to the side a little, which would have been anticlimactic in the worst possible way, and 3) this couple at the table were a different color than me and I did not want them thinking this was a racial thing BECAUSE IT WASN'T!, it's a disorder and it's not my fault. Luckily I apparently only received a mild form of this affliction, because I didn't actually go through with it, but I was scared.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Sorry, Just Unfunny Political Observations

In this political season I find myself frustrated. I like to think that I am only beholden to truth (which I am not), and that I don't allow my political affiliations/preferences to sway over my judgment (which I do). Many people who support Obama spin and lie about McCain's record; many people who support McCain spin and lie about Obama's record: who should a fair-minded person listen to?

I'd like to go down a self-righteous path and say, "a pox on both your houses—I'm voting Libertarian," but I can't do that—I said I'm frustrated, not insane.

There is a man on the radio, Phil Hendrie, that I respect very much, and he said this thing last night that I feel is equally as true for me in the opposite direction:

"I'm a supporter of Barack Obama...but the people that support him, by and large, I wouldn't hang out with those people if they were the last human beings on earth. I mean I'm telling you right now, I will vote for that man, but as far as me having anything in common with any of the other douche bags that I hear supporting him—if I was the lonliest man on earth I wouldn't go down the street to borrow a cup of sugar. These people have done more damage to that man's campaign...Do you wanna know why this thing is so tight? Becuase the Move-on's and the Kos's and every other ideologic douche-and-a-half is weighin' in with their hateful hateful diatribes. It's done nothing to help that guy. Nothing."

I've got nothing in common with the ignorant xenophobes that would like to slam the border shut and then "round up" all of the illegal aliens (a categorical impossibility) and ship 'em back to wherever they came from. I've got nothing in common with Jerome Corsi or any person that would accord him an iota of respect. I've got nothing in common with Christians that think it is their God-given duty to vote Republican. I've got nothing in common with Christians who focus disproportionately and unhealthily on homosexuality and the prospect of gay marriage. I don't support gay marriage just like Biden and Obama don't, but a) I wouldn't be too surprised to see it become reality, and b) It will have little to no effect on my life, so I'm not too bugged about it.

I think that McCain has to run for president and that is an awful thing. He thinks he has to engage in adhominym garbage and allow his staff to produce ridiculous, pathetic ads like the "Lipstick on a pig," ad. And maybe that's what it does take to win the presidency right now in our country; I just wish I didn't feel like I have to take a shower after watching some political back and forth on cable news (not that anyone should ever be watching cable news).

Despite my frustration I remain a Republican because I have basic philosphical assumptions that I can't get past. More freedom is better than less freedom. The more goverment grows, the less freedom I have. We all have to be willing to sacrifice some freedom, and I certainly am, but the goverment, because it is composed of flawed humans, is insdious and greedy. Now, so is the free market, because it is composed of flawed humans, but the free market cannot compel me to do anything, the government can, and therein lies the danger. I also don't know when life begins, but it seems to me there is no place that makes more sense than at conception. But even if that is not the case it is always better to err on the side of life until further information comes to light. To generalize, abortion seems to be born more out of personal convenience than a conviction that life is not being ended, and that doesn't strike me as wise or prudent or valid.

All of those things will keep me a Republican, even when we fall desperately short of our stated goals. Where else would I turn? Estonia? Sure they have a flat tax, but my social networking possiblities would be decidedly lacking, and I have no personal motivation to learn Estonian.