Saturday, May 28, 2005

The Pursuit of Truth

In studies of the phenomenon popularly referred to as “The Force”, serious adepts consider the attendant aspects of the practice, including the Ledi claims to be the guardians of truth, peace, and justice. It naturally follows, that Jedi studies consider the nature not only those ideals, but also our understanding of them. At the Jedi Academy, a series of lectures has been presented to students, including the search for truth. Richard Irvine, from the group called “Jedi Unity”, wrote from the perspective arguing that “we are all liars”, essentially putting up a front, a facade, to hide who and what we truly are. There is something to that, but his article presented only what I would call the negative aspects of truth, without considering the positive aspects of truth and the nobility of searching for it. I would like to address the good in searching for truth.

Some of my friends and readers may wonder why I am taking Jedi studies seriously. Perhaps I am a closet fanatic of the films? Perhaps the Texas sun has unhinged me slightly (in which case, some aspect of the Arizona sun may explain John McClain’s gradual change from noble veteran to egotistical demagogue)? Actually, I find that the Jedi studies, the ones which concern themselves with the basic ideals common to all humanity, which happened to be used to tell the Jedi story, are based on sound principles and genuine scholarship. More, Jedi students come from all walks and ages of life, including many people who have no intention of changing their faith or creed, but who are curious about why the Jedi code resonates for them. I invite you to consider the Jedi articles I write as philosophical inquiries, because that’s exactly their purpose.

Back to the pursuit of truth. When Jesus stood before Pilate, the Roman procurator for Judea, Pilate is said to have asked, “What is Truth?” While in Pilate’s case, he was probably not seeking a serious answer, the fact remains that people have been asking that question and others related to it for as long as humans have been able to speak. Socrates and Plato addressed it, as did Lao-Tse, Confucius, and Sun Tzu, and after them many other thinkers right up to the present day. The three largest religions practiced on the planet are based on the claim that they have received or discerned some or all of universal truth. Clearly, the pursuit of truth is a popular and significant activity for people, a compelling question which drives men to seek some sort of answer.

In his article accusing humans of a chronic condition of deceit, Richard Irvine noted that language is symbolism used for communication; to some degree we all miss the truth, in that our best efforts to describe a thought or concept, we must use the estimate created by language. That is not to say, however, that language cannot convey a concept accurately. If I draw a circle freehand, it will not be difficult for someone with a simple compass to show where I miss the curve, but that does not mean that someone looking at my drawing won’t recognize that I have tried to draw a circle. The intent can be conveyed, and if the intent is true, the truth can be so conveyed.

This brings up the craft of discernment. Men lie, and do so not only well and frequently, but also there are men who love and serve truth, come what may. The Jedi code is not only discovering the truth, but nurturing it and defending it, and convincing as many people as possible, that the truth is worthy of their support, not only as a practice to demand of leaders and speakers, but to develop and practice in their own lives.

This is a good thing, and worthy of honor.

Friday, May 27, 2005

War Politics


In the old Bugs Bunny cartoons, there is often a point at which the rabbit sternly remarks, ‘Of course you know, this means war.’ It’s part of the comedy. Unfortunately, national politicians have begun to treat real conflicts with the same disparaging dismissal, as was demonstrated by this week’s pathetic collapse of Republican resolve, and subsequent Democrat crowing as minority demagogues won out over principled idealists. Within hours, one Democrat who had promised to vote for cloture for Judge Owen had already broken his pledge, and later that same week, Senate Democrats filibustered to again delay a vote on U.N. Ambassador John Bolton, and were also sounding threats against upcoming qualified nominees for Federal Court. The fact that it is a political war, in no way diminishes the severity of the reality that we are at war, the liars and the cheats against the Constitution and its defenders.

Some in the Republican camp have suggested that those unhappy with the sell-out must accept the results of the quisling treachery, and actually suggest that we who demand that ideals be defended and subversion of the Constitution be struck down, are somehow damaging the Republican cause. This is not at all the case, and by definition never can be. There is a point where a line must be drawn, and no more leniency or excuses granted, no more variance allowed. We are the party elected to majority, not just once or just recently, but in the clear trend for more than a decade, and it is required of us to accept that command, with responsibility and authority for the decision of course and law. Anything else is surrender to forces which run on the motive of greed and corruption.

The National Republican Senatorial Committee is symbolic of all that’s wrong with the GOP right now. Even after the betrayal of the judges, Senator Dole could only write “Although I am pleased that some of the President's qualified judicial nominees are finally getting the fair up or down vote they deserve, I am disappointed that not all nominees will be afforded that same courtesy”. Senator, disappointment is not the word. We are outraged, here in the base, by Senators who promised they heard us, then turned out and did exactly what they said would never happen. Your mild-mannered acceptance of the subversion of majority rule by a handful of demagogues, and the clear rejection of the public voice, makes it clear you are neither worthy of our support, nor a logical place for our money and time.

We will vote for qualified candidates, as always.

We will campaign for, and donate money to, qualified candidates, as always.

But we will not support poseurs.

You have one small window to get us back. The only way, is to immediately invoke the majority-rule option in the Senate for ALL Presidential appointments during the 109th Congress. That’s what was promised, that’s what is expected, and nothing less will count.

It’s wheat and chaff time, Ms. Dole. Are you a Republican, or are you a pretender?

Thursday, May 26, 2005

Jedi Types

I’ve taken up a renewed interest in things Jedi in the past month, for obvious reasons. But I always found the notion of a group or people dedicated to the advancement of justice and truth, to be a worthy goal. After all, I always wondered why, since the Boy and Girl Scouts were such great organizations, why there wasn’t an adult component. I don’t mean campouts and funny uniforms, but a dedication to the more noble pursuits. And that leads me to the Jedi. No, not movie marathons, dreaming of magic powers or funny uniforms, but again a serious study and pursuit of ideals worth the effort.

One nice thing about the 21st Century (AD), is Search Engines. I just Googled “Jedi” and found myself in a treasure trove of information, some of it useless and vapid, but some of it well worth the visit. I have focused on for now, in part because it has a lot of information made easily accessible, in part because it’s free to all seekers, and in part because it’s a very serious study of what they call “Jedi Realism”. That is, they strip away the silliness and the special effects, to get to the heart of what the Jedi are as a philosophy and discipline. And these guys have worked out a functional system worth examination. No, that doesn’t mean I’m going to claim my faith is now Jedi, or that I plan to open up a shop of movie memorabilia. What I am going to do, though, is look for new perspectives from the “Jedi” point of view, and post on it if I find something worth noting. Such a thought came to me today.

Most people don’t think about Jedi, and the ones who do generally form a single opinion of them and hold that in their mind with the mental label ‘Jedi’. But even the Star Wars films showed a number of schools of Jedi thought and action and belief. I’m leaving out what I consider Jedi “bit” parts, because cameo appearances can’t really provide insight in the beliefs and doctrines of a person. That leaves us, however, with valid examples in Obi-Wan Kenobi, Yoda, Anikin Skywalker/Darth Vader, the Emperor and Count Dooku, Darth Maul, and of course Luke Skywalker (Film titles are abbreviated to acronyms in this article).

I start with Obi-Wan Kenobi, because he shows up the most. Pretty neat trick, to get killed in the first movie, yet show up in all six anyway. Obi-Wan, if you recall the films, was hanging out in the desert on Tattooine, but as soon as Luke showed up and the hologram played, OWK was at full speed immediately. He was conversant with desert customs, yet equally at home on a starship, very much the Renaissance Man in Space. OWK worked alone comfortably, yet was not antisocial or disgruntled. The audience is left with the impression that Obi-Wan was a pretty regular guy for a Jedi, although he had Yoda’s favor (Dooku said so when they clashed in AOTC), yet I find it reasonable to consider Obi-Wan one of the greatest; his disappearing trick when Vader strikes him in ANH is a feat no other Jedi manages, even Yoda. Further, OWK displays a constant balance of mood that is the perfect example of Jedi serenity and peace, and his humble demeanor serves him well throughout. Also, OWK is knowledgeable and full of life, containing the four Jedi aspirations in his work, words, and apparent thoughts.

Next up is Yoda. If you want to realize the impact of Yoda, realize that millions of adults sat and listened to a green muppet, taking him seriously. Not just once, but regularly and as a sage character of wisdom and insight. That’s powerful stuff. The reason it’s so powerful, is because Yoda spoke from basic truths. Like OWK, Yoda is very much alive and in tune with Nature, he is serene, he is knowledgeable and wise, and he is humble, willing to act silly in order to discover Luke’s intentions in TESB. The deference given to Yoda by other Jedi in TPM, AOTC, and ROTS is not always compelling, although I found it a good touch that Yoda never once demanded deference, or appeared to have any sort of arrogance of selfish pride. Between OWN and Yoda, a template of the ideal Master/Apprentice relationship was presented. Both functional and worthy of their own respect, but at the same time unique individuals and yet communicating and working together to a common purpose.

Next up is Anikin Skywalker, who became Darth Vader. While Vader’s character was good drama for the movie series, it was significant to me to see what Anikin lost when he became Darth. When you take away the cool black outfit with personal intimidation package, and he’s not terrifying/killing flunkies, Darth really accomplishes very little. In ANH, his battle station gets destroyed. In TESB, he accidentally cuts off his son’s hand while unsuccessfully trying to recruit him. He also loses custody of the rebels he was pursuing, as well as his (unknown to him) own daughter. In ROTJ, he gets another battle station destroyed, kills the Emperor which gets him killed in the process (which is kind of a bad thing, realizing at the end of your life that you made the worst possible career choice, and the best you can do is destroy everything you worked to build). Not a hit parade, that. In the course of the films, he loses his innocence, his family, his love, his ideals, his way, and his life.

Then we have the Emperor and Count Dooku. These two are sort of a set, because what we see in both their cases, is that they start on a path to true discovery and growth, and are detoured by ambition and arrogance. In the end, their own flaws destroy them, and they end up dead and dishonored. The way that seems most powerful is nothing more than a petty excuse for quitting and throwing away potential.

A more active version of that futility can be seen in Darth Maul. Like the Emperor and Dooku, Maul gives up everything worth having in the pursuit of pure power, in his case a fanatic devotion to a perversion of the Jedi Code, one which makes him formidable, enough to take on 2 Jedi at once and overpower them, but which destroys him on his first mistake.

And that leaves us with Luke Skywalker. Luke grows from a boy with potential, to a true Jedi Knight, worthy not only to defeat the Emperor and redeem his father’s soul, but to recreate the Jedi Order. He does this by learning the Jedi Creed, very much the hard way: The only parents he knows are murdered, then his mentor and closest friends are killed or captured, and then Luke discovers that his father is the evil force behind all his trouble. Worse, Luke learns from Yoda that the path he would most like to take, to directly fight against this evil, would only lead to him becoming evil himself. So, even after hard training physically and mentally, Luke realizes he must face and master himself, before he can confront his father and accomplish his identity and ideals, even at great personal cost. Yet in the end, Luke has everything he truly desires; he has family in his sister and in the knowledge that his father, his mentor, and his teacher are one with the Force; he has friends and honor, and he knows that he is truly Jedi.

So in looking at these people, we see the dutiful balance of Obi-Wan Kenobi, the wisdom and serenity of Yoda, the impulsiveness of Anikin, the lust for power in the Emperor and Dooku, the battle rage of Maul, and the growth and earnest faith of Luke. There are worthwhile lessons in each of them, whether of not you want to consider the Jedi aspect of their characters.

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

National Missing Child Day


Today is National Missing Child Day. According to statistics from the FBI’s National Crime Information Center (NCIC) , approximately 725,000 juveniles or children are reported missing to the police each year. That’s more than two thousand children a day. Congress mandated the automatic NCIC entry and police report in every case of a missing child, with the National Child Search Assistance Act in 1990. Since 1990, NCIC missing persons reports have increased 27%.

According to the United States Department of Justice, Office of Juvenile Justice Delinquency Prevention Juvenile Justice Bulletin, June 2000;
· Based on the identity of the perpetrator, there are three distinct types of kidnapping: kidnapping by a relative of the victim or "family kidnapping" (49 percent), kidnapping by an acquaintance of the victim or "acquaintance kidnapping" (27 percent), and kidnapping by a stranger to the victim or "stranger kidnapping" (24 percent).
· Family kidnapping is committed primarily by parents, involves a larger percentage of female perpetrators (43 percent) than other types of kidnapping offenses, occurs more frequently to children under 6, equally victimizes juveniles of both sexes, and most often originates in the home.
· Stranger kidnapping victimizes more females than males, occurs primarily at outdoor locations, victimizes both teenagers and school-age children, is associated with sexual assaults in the case of girl victims and robberies in the case of boy victims (although not exclusively so), and is the type of kidnapping most likely to involve the use of a firearm.

You can help find children and bring them home safe. Just be sure you do these simple things:

[] When the mailers come, LOOK at the picture, and really think about whether you might have seen the child.
[] When you visit WAL-MART or any store participating in a Child Search program, take the time to look at the pictures and think.
[] When an AMBER ALERT is broadcast, note the description and information
[] Contact the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children, or Child Find of America, to learn more.

You can save a child's life.

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Why Senators Should Not Be Allowed To Watch TV


In the season finale of "24", super-agent Jack Bauer chased down terrorists, made a deal which let criminals get away, a nuclear weapon is shot down, and the government in power proves to be either weak or corrupt.

Around the same time as this episode was aired, 14 Senators took it upon themselves to claim the authority belonging to the whole Senate, made a deal which excused Democratic calumny while denying the majority of the Senators their right and authority, the much-needed 'nuclear' option was shot down, and the group of fourteen usurping Senators proved themselves no better than political whores, ambitious and unscrupulous.

Senators should not be allowed to watch television.


There has been much noise about the deal made to avert the Senate vote on whether to actually do the jobs they have been elected to. Anyone who claims this is a “good” deal, either is a Democrat, or has not read the text of the deal. Here, courtesy of RealClearPolitics, is the text from the deal made by the 14 Senators, and my comments regarding their implications:


“We respect the diligent, conscientious efforts, to date, rendered to the Senate by Majority Leader Frist and Democratic Leader Reid. This memorandum confirms an understanding among the signatories, based on mutual trust and confidence, related to pending and future nominations in the 109th Congress.”

First, given the unconstitutional tricks played by Reid and the Democrats for the past five years, to put Reid on the same level as Frist is not only a slap in the face of Dr. Frist, who has performed his work honorably and responsibly, but also denies consequence and accountability for the Democrats’ past offenses. This first paragraph gives the Democrats a pass for their conduct. Note also, that 14 Senators have taken it upon themselves, to declare the rules for the other 86. If usurpation by the minority were not something to fear before, this is an unconscionable advance in political trickery, and should be shouted down for the elitist mindset it advances.

“This memorandum is in two parts. Part I relates to the currently pending judicial nominees; Part II relates to subsequent individual nominations to be made by the President and to be acted upon by the Senate’s Judiciary Committee.”

In plain English, this translates to ‘We don’t give a rat’s hindside for what the U.S. Constitution demands we do as Senators. We few have taken upon ourselves to declare the rules and order for all judicial nominations for the foreseeable future.’

“We have agreed to the following:

“Part I: Commitments on Pending Judicial Nominations

“A. Votes for Certain Nominees. We will vote to invoke cloture on the following judicial nominees: Janice Rogers Brown (D.C. Circuit), William Pryor (11th Circuit), and Priscilla Owens (5th Circuit).

“B. Status of Other Nominees: Signatories make no commitment to vote for or against cloture on the following judicial nominees: William Myers (9th Circuit) and Henry Saad (6th Circuit).”

This is outrageous! These 14 bombasts have finally decided that after years of waiting, they are willing to allow floor votes on some judges, all of whose credentials were established long ago. Yet, other judges are specifically and deliberately held to a different standard, on no basis related to their competency, or the need to fill bench vacancies. This, without question, is unconstitutional, and completely unacceptable conduct from a Republican Senator.

“II. Future Nominations. Signatories will exercise their responsibilities under the Advice and Consent Clause of the United States Constitution in good faith. Nominees should only be filibustered under extraordinary circumstances, and each signatory must use his or her own discretion and judgment in determining whether such circumstances exist.”

The first statement in this section, is the duty which every Democrat Senator has ducked or violated for the past half-decade. Note that there is no enforcement clause to make them obey their duty now. The last sentence is a pile of steaming animal waste product, as it makes no promise whatsoever, that Democrats will not go back to their usurpation the moment they feel like it, and worse, wish to have such violation of their duties blessed as some sort of right or moral obligation. The fact that this clause was even included in the agreement, shows the negligence, bordering on corrupt complicity, of the Republican Senators who agreed to this treachery.

“B. Rules Changes. In light of the spirit and continuing commitments made in this agreement, we commit to oppose the rules changes in the 109th Congress, which we understand to be any amendment to or reinterpretation of the Rules of the Senate that would force a vote on a judicial nomination by means other than unanimous consent or Rule XXII.”

This is an outright surrender by the Republican signatories. The Democrats make no commitment to give up the filibuster, but expect the Republicans to give up their right as the majority party to change the rules when necessary. That any Republican would sign such an agreement, is betrayal of his party, his state, and his nation.

“We believe that, under Article II, Section 2, of the United States Constitution, the word “:Advice speaks to consultation between the Senate and the President with regard to the use of the President’s power to make nominations. We encourage the Executive branch of government to consult with members of the Senate, both Democratic and Republican, prior to submitting a judicial nomination to the Senate for consideration.”

Having raped the Senate of its rules and authority, these worthies now deign to command the President how he shall present nominees. FDR never had to 'pre-screen' his nominees, nor did Clinton, nor any President in the past. The Senate has always had the right to debate and vote on the merits or doubts of a candidate, but these Senators wish to expand their personal power, to the point of adding an unconstitutional restriction on the President. Here is printed in plain statement, unmitigated gall and arrogance!

“Such a return to the early practices of our government” - This is a lie, and nothing else - “may well serve to reduce the rancor that unfortunately accompanies the advice and consent process in the Senate.

“We firmly believe this agreement is consistent with the traditions of the United States Senate that we as Senators seek to uphold.”

There it is, plainly printed. Democrats have used a power in the past, which they now deny to Republicans by no right but posture and deceit and further, would now claim for themselves not only control of the Senate, but a lever against the President, in order to maintain control of the courts, so that 7 Senators have corrupted another 7, to grant them power over all three branches of the government, through no right or Constitutional mandate, nor the approval of electoral support, but only through arrogance and complicity in avarice. Such brazen contempt for the principles of a Democratic Republic, I have not seen in a long time.

Mark these names, for these villains have leveraged power from a position they do not deserve to hold:

Ben Nelson (Nebraska)
Robert Byrd (West Virginia)
Joseph Lieberman (Connecticut)
Mark Pryor (Arkansas)
Ken Salazar (Colorado)
Daniel Inouye (Hawaii)
Mary Landrieu (Louisiana)

Mark these names also, for they are villains to their state, their party, and to the nation for violating the trust and duty of their office. Remember them when they come up again for election, and make known the foul fruit of their arrogance:

John McCain (Arizona)
John Warner (Virginia)
Lindsey Graham (South Carolina)
Susan Collins (Maine)
Olympia Snowe (Maine)
Lincoln Chaffee (Rhode Island)
Mike DeWine (Ohio)

Treachery has been done. It falls to us now to answer it, remember it, and when the next election comes, to pay the wages it has brought, in full fury.

Monday, May 23, 2005


[5] [4] [3] [2] [1]

The United States Senate, specifying hostile intentions by the Dark Side Party (aka Democrats), has advanced the Senate Defense Condition, or SENCON, from 4 (elevated) to 3 (full alert), in reaction to Democrat overtures indicating continuing hostility to Constitutional responsibilities and the duty to vote on Federal Appeals Court nominees.

The risk of "nuclear" conflict has increased from "possible" to "probable".