Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Tidbits and Bits and Bits and Bits

Pope Benedict XVI Elected
     Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger of Germany was elected to be the 465th Pope (but only the 463rd man to hold the job) today, the first German Pope in almost 1000 years. Benedict is said to be one of the most conservative cardinals, responsible for recent crackdowns on dissent within the Catholic Church as relates to womens' rights, abortion, sex, and so on. He was a former Hitler Youth as a child, but reports say he didn't enjoy it. It will be interesting to see what he does as Pope. He should probably have a good 10-15 years, as long as he stays healthy. People can surprise you, and sometimes it's the most unlikely people who can make the needed reforms. In 1865, who would have guessed it would have been the Democrats championing Civil Rights? In 1975, who would have guessed George W. Bush would be telling you to stay off drugs?


Jim Gilchrist is "Bored"
     Jim Gilchrist, the founder of the "Minuteman" project to line the Mexico-Arizona border with volunteers to prevent illegal immigrants, has announced plans to leave Arizona early, probably tomorrow. Why? In his words, "We're bored to death." Sorry you find National Security so boring, Jim. I guess maybe the Border Patrol was doing something right, after all? I mean, anyone can come out for 2 weeks with tons of manpower and enthusiasm, but keeping an eye on the border for 81 years is a little tougher. Not all is lost, though. He's been invited to talk to Congress next week about immigration reform. Look for him to have a promising political career in the near future.
     The odd thing he said is that he claimed to have accomplished in 10 days (how long Minutemen lasted) what lobbyists couldn't do in 10 years. Someone enlighten me what role lobbyists have in securing our border, first of all. Second, guarding the border is like holding back a proverbial dam. You never "finish" the job. You can't pull your finger out of the hole and walk away claiming "Mission Accomplished" as water pours out behind you. The second you walk away from that dam, you've failed, no matter how good of a job you did while you were there.


10-Year Anniversary of Oklahoma City Bombing
     I just wanted to comment on something a coworker said today on the way to lunch (I work with the most inappropriate coworkers - they spew the most political and religious things at work - things that you'd think twice about before saying in front of friends and things that look more at home on a blog). Vice President Dick Cheney and former President Bill Clinton were in Oklahoma City to speak at the ceremonies. One coworker says, "I can't believe [Clinton] would dare show his face in Oklahoma since he didn't even try to find those responsible when he was President." What?? OK - I get it, you don't like Clinton. In fact, during the 2004 election, I would have sworn it was Clinton v. Bush by the way you talked. But wasn't the bomber Timothy McVeigh caught and executed? And Terry Nichols sentenced to life?


Church Expels Members for Disagreeing
     In a little bit of local flavor, I thought I'd share this story - the Atlanta Unity Church in Dunwoody, GA revoked the membership of 8 congregants because they opposed church plans to demolish a 1920's era building. Their crime? They belong to a preservation group called "Save the Mansion". I generally favor conservation efforts - too much of our history is paved over to become shopping malls and subdivisions. And of course the church has the right to control its own membership without outside interference. But my opinion of this (as an outsider) is that the church is overreacting and is acting inappropriately (there's that word again). People join churches and synagogues for a place to pray, for a sense of community. They don't join, as far as I know, so someone else can tell them who to associate with. Thankfully the people in question aren't cowed by the church's act. They're saddened, but they're sticking to their guns. I guess this is just another story of "You're either with us or against us".

26 comments:

Ben said...

I couldn't tell if you knew this from what you wrote, but if you wre a youth living in Germany during the Third Reich, you were automatically a Hitler Youth, so his membership in that organization should not be seen as a downside of the new Pope.

Also, your coworker sounds ignorant, but that's nothing new. It seems to be a frequent disease among coworkers.

Ben said...

One more quickie... Although the Minutemen project is ending, I applaud them for once again bringing a simple fact to the public: Illegal immigration is ILLEGAL and should be stopped. It's too bad our government doesn't seem to care. Illegal aliens that come to our country and take advantage of various ridiculous programs started by the left and funded by taxes, and then send all their non-taxed earnings back to their home countries are in now way useful to this country. They are a double loss, as far as money goes, and many of them do as much as they can to not assimilate, thus creating mini-outposts of their home country within ours, both socially and economically. No matter how many open borders arguements I've read, I still can't find any that give me a valid reason to allow illegal immigration or open borders.

sideshow bob said...

I think George W. Bush is the best arguement for staying off drugs...look what could happen to you otherwise.
As for the illegal immigrants, their only crime, really, is breaking U.S. law...Fortunately, because of our wise leadership, many illegal immigrants are returning to their native countries, chasing the jobs we are exporting. Who knew all we had to do to solve the immigration problem was to whittle away at the American Dream?
And Ben, I'm starting to get scared...I agreed with your statements about the pharmacist thing and immigration. Culture and heritage are important, but they need to be kept alive in the family, not necessarily in society at large. Where would we be if the Irish had never assimilated? I'll tell you where: sitting around on March 17th not drinking green beer, that's where!

Mike said...

Two excellent points, Ben. Born in 1927, Ratzinger was only 17 at the end of WWII. You can't hold the Hitler Youth thing against him. It was a different time then. But personally, I used to be Catholic, but now I'm a Protestant and I think the whole Pope thing is a bit silly. Nowhere in the Bible is the word "Pope" mentioned.

I also think the minutemen did a fantastic job. They only wanted to draw attention to the issue and prove the border can be sealed. The succeeded on both counts. This is another issue where the democrats have an opening to pull in some republicans if they were smart. Hillary gets it. She is splitting from her party and talking about strengthening border control.

On the topic with the church, don't judge all churches on the actions of one. There are some screwed up churches out there. Usually it has to do with internal power struggles and politics when a church falls apart. It's usually not the case of church doctrine dictating to the members, although churches can excommunicate people for willingly living in sin, but it's rare.

For evidence on how Clinton didn't fully investigate the OK City bombing, read this article. Personally, I don't blame Clinton. I blame Janet Reno and the FBI for incompetence. You know, for all the talk about John Ashcroft stomping on the constitution and civil rights, it was Janet Reno who ordered tanks driven through walls with women and children on the other side. It was Janet Reno who broke into houses in the middle of the night to take little boys into custody at gunpoint. Can you imagine the outrage in the media if that had happened under the Bush administration?

canis lupus said...

Interesting point about the whittling away of the American dream, Bob. It is a crying shame.

Mike said...

The American dream is still alive. This is still the best country on earth to start a new business. Ever heard of the Chinese dream? Or the Russian dream? Or the French dream? I don't think so.
I don't understand how liberals can say we should allow illegals into the country to fill the jobs no american wants and then turn around and complain about shipping low paying jobs overseas? I guess some people are never happy.

Scott said...

For the record, I never made any value judgements about Benedict with regard to his stint in the Hitler Youth, just mentioning a statement of fact. Still, does it present a quandry for anyone who believes that despite good parenting, TV will still corrupt kids? Because if that' the case, how could the new Pope not have been influenced?
And I wasn't making generalizations about churches. I was just reporting a story. I report, you decide.

Mainline Mom said...

My husband may be right about the American dream being alive and starting a new business and all, but he knows from my recent experiences that starting a business can also SUCK. And he's right about the church thing, that church sounds stupid. And I'm generally very pro-church.

Mike said...

Seems the border minutemen may not be going away after all. Check this out.

Sylvana said...

You should post your topics separately to allow for easier commenting. I've already lost track of what I was going to say. Oh, and Ben is right about the Hitler Youth thing.

Ben said...

Shoot, I need to find the article, but I read recently that we actually import far more jobs than we export.

canis lupus said...

The idea of trading barbs on comment boards is not only time consuming but sometimes a lesson in futility. I will earnestly try not to make this habit. I'm amazed at how easy it is to be categorized in this country without people knowing ANYTHING about you. Fair enough. Yes, I'm a Dem. Liberal, no. Another thing, I grew up in San Diego so I understand the whole illegal immigration situation. I have always been against ANY type of employment of illegal immigrants in this country. Always. And secondly, it is not just low wage jobs being shipped overseas, it is also the high paying ones. I've got several friends in IT and they've got a few stories to tell. Think F1 visas. And for the love of all that is good on this good green earth, please do look up the meaning of the word "liberal" before applying it to folks that simply "disagree" with you. Please, with sugar on top.

ORF said...

Pope thing: yeah, it's pretty silly and antiquated. What I think is so weird, Hitler Youth aside (and, as we learned at Nuremburg, "everybody was doing it") is that now billions of people will just adore this man because someone is telling them to do so. When he kicks the bucket in five or ten years, they'll all boohoo over him. Who IS he? He's just a GUY who's literally getting idolized because some other guys and some outdated doctrinal mumbo jumbo tells people to behave that way.

Which leads me to my next point about people joining a church (or any dogmatic institution/group) to be told what to do or how to act. Scott, I disagree with you that people don't join churches to be told who to associate with. On the whole, people are sheep. They need and like to be led around and told what to think, believe, feel, etc. It's a helluva lot easier than doing it for oneself. People want to belong (see also: Benedict XVI was a Hitler Youth) so they sign up and subscribe to the party line. It's not necessarily always a bad thing because positive change can come from the influence of large groups, but it can be dangerous if the sheep dogs recognize how truly vulnerable the will of the people they lead can be.

Immigration: I found myself in a serious quandary last year when I discovered that all of the workers my landlord employed in his deli were illegal. I really fucking hated my landlord and considered turning him in to the Better Business Bureau and the INS for employing aliens when I moved out but realized that these men would have more or less been innocent victims of my spite. On the flipside, they shouldn't be here.

Ben said...

Sure enough, as soon as everyone else stops calling anyone who voted for Bush evil, or ignorant, and calls anyone who supports Israel a tool of the neocons, and anyone who considers themself conservative a religious nutcase.

I live in the real world, where people are always going to make generalizations, and you have to learn to deal with it. I don't live in a fantasyland where I think that all we have to do is "understand" the other side and everything will work out, or where Saddam was going to become peaceful and benevolent if we'd just waited and given him more time.

Sylvana said...

OhReally, so true, so true. I feel that organized religion is by it's very nature faulty- especially once money gets involved. People go to church to be told what to do, led.
Scott, the whole minutemen thing was a joke. They were bored because the immigrants weren't pouring over the border by the millions as we are often led to believe.
Ben, how much assimilation do you think is necessary? I was born here and I refuse to assimilate on many issues. Besides, if these communities can succeed on their own without assimilation- what is the problem? Do you feel left out? Do you think they are all talking about you?
Mike, everyone concentrates on Mexican illegals- but what about Canadians? No one talks about that border. And I rarely hear about how we are running into Canada to use their programs to save money even though we don't pay into them *prescription drugs*

Ben said...

How much assimilation is neccesary? Enough that when I go in to an area, it still feels like America. I go to Chinatown in NYC, and it still feels like the US, because most of the people there try to learn the language of the country they live in. There shouldn't ever be an area that is full of so many Hispanics (for the purposes of this discussion) that don't speak English that taxpayers end up paying extra money to make all their services in Spanish. This isn't Mexico, it's the US, and if you don't want to learn enough about the US to make it without us changing the system for you, then you should go abck to your home country. If you want to immigrate to the US, then become American. If I was moving to Russia, I'd make sure to learn at least enough Russian to get along. I wouldn't expect them to adjust to me, I should adjust to them. it's their country, their culture, their everything, and I, as a new resident of that country, should respect their language and customs.

When in Rome, so as the Romans do. If you don't want to, leave.

Ben said...

Sylvana:
Canadians aren't moving to the US in droves to escape their failing economy (though with the way the socialistic system up there is falling apart, they may soon). And the ones that come here are already steeped in our culture and language (Quebecians excepted). As far as prescription drugs go, I have no problem with Mexicans coming here to buy cheap goods, so long as they go home afterwards.

My understanding on the drugs issue may be completely wrong, but here it is: Most fo the drugs are made by American companies. They sell them to Canada at lower rates to meet the Canadians laws and socialist health care system, and then have to seel them for much higher rates in the U.S. to make up the loss they take in Canada. Sneaking over the border to buy cheaper drugs can be seen as Patriotic. Canada is screwing us over, so we'll screw them right back. The story will end in a couple of years when the failing Canadian health care system finishes spiraling to its death, and drug prices adjust to their American levels.

Scott said...

   I hate to say it, but Ben's got a point. Canadians aren't subsidizing their drug costs - Americans are. Canada has national purchasing power which drives prices down there. Americans don't, so the pharma companies raise our prices to compensate.
Still, as the descendent of immigrants who watched from afar as their families were terrorized and murdered in Russia and Germany because of strict US immigration laws, I'm a little more inclined to be more lax in the laws today. You don't know what someone else is going through. As much as everyone likes to talk about how America is so great, you have to recognize that what they're escaping from is a lot worse than any inconvenience they might bring you.

ORF said...

Ben, what on god's green planet does your comment from 11:41 this morning even mean? Please translate out of Klingon. I don't think there's even a full sentence in there. Syntax is your friend. Also, they are known as Quebecois.

Further, I think your view of "When in Rome..." with regards to illegal immigrants is somewhat simplistic. There DO happen to be places in this country where the hispanic population is being compensated for with American tax dollars because on the whole (TX, NC, CA, etc.) We are a free society that tends not to deny much to anyone at the trough, legal or not. However, I am not sure that the quality of life of border-runners would be improved all that much if they WERE to learn English, etc. and can you really blame people for clinging to their customs when they come here and are made to feel so unwelcome? I've been to Russia. I liked it, but it's a strange place and you can bet I'd spend as much time as possible at the McDonald's in the interest of holding onto something about myself that I knew and understood. And I hate the food at McDonald's. In case you haven't noticed, our Terror Alert Level is permanently set on Atomic Fireball Red and as a consequence, it's pretty damned tough to actually "become American."

I find it hard to believe, based on your previous arguments about this, that you would really condone handing out our citizenry like its free ice cream day at Ben and Jerry's.

Let me be clear: I do not necessarily support the employment of illegal aliens across our border, nor do I support President Bush's crazy plan to offer blanket immunity to those who DO get in. However, the rate at which their numbers grow makes it clear that our current plan of action is ineffective, so perhaps we should try swimming downstream for a while. People are desperate to come to this country. Why not exploit that, so to speak, by making border crossing more accessible incorporating those individuals into the workforce and our public services with more accountability.

Sylvana said...

So Ben, we get to the truth; it's all about you and your comfort level. I seriously can't see you going into these communities anyway. There are lots of special communities in this country that require special treatment. I think asking everyone to be the same, so that elitists feel comfortable where ever they go is ridiculous.

As far as prescription drugs go, I wasn't talking about direct costs. Canada does not have as high a GNP as the US, their money isn't worth as much as ours, and on average their citizens do not make as much as ours. The government has restricted prices on drugs to make sure that their citizens get the medicine that they need. If the US floods their market, the extra demand will cause the drug companies to limit the drugs that they supply to Canada and raise their prices. This is not fair to do to a country that isn't as wealthy as our own. If we have a problem with the prices we are being charged for drugs, we should bring it up with the drug companies- not Canada.

AND if Canadians were flooding the border I seriously doubt as much of an out cry would ensue. People have more of a problem with them being Mexican than illegal immigrants.

canis lupus said...

Like I said, "... a lesson in futility".

Mike said...

Ok, I've been away for awhile so I see I have some things to respond to. First of all, the comments about people going to church to be led and told what to do. Wrong. Completely wrong. You obviously don't understand what church means to people. Most people believe in God and eternal life. Most people believe that the Bible is the word of God. They go to church because that is what God commands us to do. And anyone who has taken the time to pick up a Bible and read a few pages can easily understand that the way to get into heaven is to please God. So when we go to church we don't get lectured on who to vote for and how to vote on certain issues. Nobody tells us what to do. Instead we are told how to please God. That includes loving one another, being kind, keep your body pure, being honest, etc. I have never heard a sermon on abortion, guns or gays. To think we are lost sheep being brainwashed by Pat Robertson is insulting wrong and insulting.

Sylvania asked me what about the Canadian border. I'm in favor of putting up a fence and troops on there too. It's a matter of security. And I am not opposed to anyone coming to this country to make a better life. But there is a legal way and an illegal way to do it. If you want to come here and pay taxes I'm all in favor of it. But if you want to come here and use our schools to educate your kids and take advantage of all our government programs without being documented and paying taxes, I have a real problem with that.
Finally, Ben is 100% correct on the prescription drug thing. American companies pay for all the research to make new drugs and countries like Canada with socialized medicine don't want to foot the bill for that. It is going to take our government and the pharmaceutical companies to stand up to these foreign governments and force them to help pay the costs of research. The problem is no company wants to be the one to put their foot down and say "Sorry, we're going to stop selling you this drug your people need to live until you agree to pay us more." That would be bad PR. But if we allow people to buy drugs from Canada, that will undermine the free market that funds american drug research. And I got news for you boys and girls, America is pretty much the only country on the planet doing any private medical research these days. You kill that and we will enter a medical dark age where the amount of new medical advances will seriously slow down.

Scott said...

Mike, I wouldn't worry about the pharmaceutical companies recouping their research investments. The US government actually pays for a lot of that, and they rake in a LOT of profit. They sell at a low price to Canada, but it's a fair low price. We're the ones getting raped in the US. The honest truth is, if they decided not to sell in Canada anymore, Canada would just bootleg the drugs there. National security and all. (I'm referring more to lifesaving drugs, not Viagra)
You're right that America has most of the private medical research, but that's because the government is paying the bills. The National Institutes of Health alone spends $27 billion a year on research. Per person, that's 12 times higher than its counterpart in the UK. Our taxes are paying for a large part of the research that we're practically giving to the pharma companies that sell drugs to us at a higher price than anywhere else.

Mike said...

Scott, your argument makes no sense. $27 billion is chump change in the pharmaceutical business. Besides, if the federal government is subsidizing most of the medical research in this country, why do drug companies charge such outrageous prices? I work in and know alot of people in the pharmaceutical business so I know what I'm talking about here.
The Canadian government negotiates with American drug companies over price. They are only willing to pay for the manufacturing cost of the drug. So if a pill costs $5 to make, they only want to pay maybe $6. The same drug in America may sell for $100/pill. They don't want to pay for the research cost. So why do drug companies give in? Three reasons. One, they want the business. They can still turn a profit on their manufacturing cost. Two, they don't want the bad PR of denying life saving drugs to millions of people. The third reason is a bit complicated. It has to do with patent protection. US drug companies get patents to protect their products. Understandable since they spend millions to develope a drug, they should have the right to recoup that cost. The US belongs to a treaty with other nations that in effect respects each others patents. But it's just a treaty and any country can go back on their word. There is really no way to enforce it. If a drug company refuses to sell a drug to China, China can say "screw you, we'll make the pill ourselves." Now China can make the pill and charge less than the American company who is trying to recoup their research costs. So importing cheap drugs would be disasterous because it would in effect kill medical research. While the goverment may fund more research, the private sector would get out because it would no longer be profitable. What we need to do is put pressure on foreign countries to help pay some of the research costs. This will take the entire pharmaceutical industry teaming up with the federal government.

Anonymous said...

Thank God for the Minutemen and thank God there are still some conservatives in the GOP.
Little did I know when I voted for Bush in 04 that he was a closet liberal? I thought he wanted to win the War on Terror. Not join up with the ACLU (vigilantes indeed) and surrender to Al Queda.


Rod Stanton

Mike said...

Ron Stanton is my hero.