Thursday, April 28, 2005

Letter to Senator Gordon Smith (R. OR)...

Mr. Atos

This is the body of a letter that I just sent to my Senator on the subject of Social Security Reform.

Dear Senator,

A older gentleman appeared at our home the other night - friendly and polite - to 'enlighten' my wife and I about Social Security reform. Assuming that we knew nothing about the current state of the program nor the nature of the President's plan, he proceeded to misrepresent nearly all of the facts. We let him continue for a bit before enightening him of our knowledge about the issue. He quickly departed.

Granted the man has every right to support his party's agenda (assuming that the DNC button was a correct identifier). But at near retirement age himself, the man should have been ashamed of his actions. Standing on the porch of a small urban home, before two young adults, each holding a child, he attempted to encourage us with half-truths (and worse) to deliver our boys to the economic slavery of a system that is collapsing before our very eyes. Knowing full well, that he will in fact receive his benefits as promised, he neverthess desired to prostitute a political solution to a real problem. This is reprehensible and it happens every night on the news, and every time a Democrat politician gets in front of a microphone... and you know this is true. The facts about social security are there before you. Political wrangling and the vitriol spewing from a party of juvenile brats in lieu of action offers no solution. Furthermore, you know full well, that the President's plan to privatize Social Security is fractional to the entire investment, and wholey voluntary. You, like the gentleman before our door, know the truth. He was willing to look at my children and offer us handcuffs. You Sir, I expect more from as a statesman and their surrogate representation in the U.S. Senate. Do what is right and support the President's efforts at Social Security reform.

I would rather give the system up entirely for myself and my generation, than to see my children inflicted with a burden that they can neither bear, nor shrug.

Sincerely, [Mr. Atos]

Morning Optimism...

Mr. Atos

The fetching Mrs. Atos felt compelled to pass along a message of her own this morning. As always, her being is a personification of the essence of American optimism. I think you will agree...

There are, as there always were, many American's today who feel compelled to share their political view with us. They like to tell us what's really going on. What the "other side" is up to. Funny thing is, when I look out my front door and gaze around at the yards of my neighbors I can't see these people on the other side. I see people trying to get along. People who are quick to lend a hand; people who are kind and embracing. If there are sides, then up close, where it matters, it sure seems we are on the same side. And even closer in than that, I sure don't see any lines between myself and my boys. Well ok, maybe the one that's my two-year-old likes to draw on occasion.

What I say to those who are so frustrated with where we are in politics today: If it upsets you so much then do something about it. Become a part of politics or the media. If being a part of the game isn't for you then vote and let the politicians do the jobs they are elected and paid to do. Let them have the headaches. And if you fear the corruption, remember that our forefathers set up a means for the government to check itself. Pretty smart, eh? Sure some things will get through the cracks, but not for long.


Maybe I'm a dreamer, but I really think things are going to be just fine. If you need to be reminded of it once in awhile come on by and I'll see what I can do.


- Mrs. Atos

Thursday, April 21, 2005

Anti-America...

Mr.Atos

Eleven dead, including six Americans in the latest wave of violence by insurgents in Iraq. Militants calling themselves the Islamic Army, claimed to have downed a civilian helicopter carrying a team of American diplomatic security personnel, plus the Fijian and Bulgarian crew.
Michelle Malkin discusses this incident and its sobering details, linking to an uncensored video posted by In the Bullpen showing the execution of a Bulgarian survivor by self-proclaimed representatives of the religion of peace. This and the current revelations of the mass murder of men woman and children at the hands of Al Quaeda forces in Iraq, is enough to remind us that we are still engaged in a serious struggle for survival with very real monsters.

And yet, nearly as chilling as these recent atrocities, is the reaction by many on the Left - a near orgy of hate-filled glee - at the news of the American civilian contractors killed in service. As with the four Americans previously slaughtered, mutilated and hung from a bridge in Fallujah, these six were also employees of Blackwater Security Consulting. The celebration on the Left is the same now
as it was then, if not more rancid. Little Green Footballs takes note of the stygian depths to which the Left has sunk as represented in the comments at The Daily Kos. (HT: Michelle Malkin)

Personally, I'm not surprised at the growing level of hatred emanating from the Left. I might have been 12 months ago. But, as they ratchet up the rhetoric, their true character becomes increasingly apparent. The Left is not an assemblage of reprehensible people. It is an ideological position that does, however, attract reprobates like flies to carrion. Now we know (as if we didn't before) why admirable character is so very important - not just from our representatives in government, but in our neighbors, friends, and co-workers as well; and why a philosophical position that values such traits is in fact a superior concept for Man to embrace. Can you imagine the visage of this nation as defined by the current liberal approach to reality, truth, facts, and discourse? Can you imagine the nature of such men that would care to particpate in those relationships or in that government? Unfortunately one need not merely imagine it. There are far too many examples of it in the pages of the discarded legacy of the Left's attempts at governance... the aristocracy of tyrants, the famine, poverty, corruption, depravity, oppression, negligence, violence, slavery, and the ultimate stench of the dead; persistently disguised by propaganda. In case one thinks I am engaging in ad hominen profiling of the Left, I further submit that there are few representatives of that political persuasion refusing to participate in this ugly decent into septic discourse, nor challenging those most outspoken champions of their positions regarding the war, or the current administration, and now devout Christians. Joe Lieberman, God bless him, the worthy candidate and statesman, has felt the burn of the acid of the Democrat's venom demonstrating to any and all what fate dissent from their vitriolic brethren will earn them... debased obscurity. In fact, the most outspoken proponents in our midst can be counted on to utter the most disgraceful and reprehensible statements concerning America, the President, the Administration, Republicans, Christians, Jews, and even American Serviceman and security personnel dying in their defense. Often the offenders are friends, relatives and coworkers. My own sobering example hit last Fall with a comment from a co-worker regarding the discovery of Sarin gas in Iraq. Parying the discovery with accusation, he exclaimed, "I thought we knew exactly where they are?..." and then thrusted the following reply "Anyway," he said, "I'm just relieved that instead of being hidden away now the Iraqis can use US soldiers to use them on." [quoted verbatim] This is an American citizen - an urban professional, husband, father - relishing the possibility that American serviceman might be the target of a nerve gas attack. Where do you go from this degree of hatred and venom? How do we put the nation (or Western Civilization) back together after this? Dare they hope that once President Bush is gone and Republicans are relegated to minority status, they will again be able to live with their concealed subconcious hatred for their fellow Man?... and ultimatelly their own acute self-loathing. Well, I have a bulletin for them. I don't want to live with that nor them. It is ugly and inhuman to the core and there is no cure for it, except through religion or rational philosophy and they reject both. For all the ridiculous talk about Conservatives as Nazis, radical Leftist have, in fact, donned the brown shirt and joined the fight along side the barbarians... against Mankind.

Look, we can debate the degree to which we live in a free or oppressive State indefinitely... or at least until the barbarians lop our myopic heads off. But the fact is that we are a civilization that celebrates life at war with an infection that prays to death. Freedom in fact, or freedom in theory, the alternative to the concept is immolation. You spend time arguing whether it's worth defending, and I will choose the bloody sword in defense of my life. Once we kill the infection and shed the bedclothes, then we can worry about our pants being to tight. Is it such a tremendous leap of intellectual honesty and consideration to note that Bin Laden, Zarqawi, the Kleptocracy of radical Islam and their fanatical swarm of murderers champion a cultural movement that in every way is diametrically at odds with the liberal ideals of Western Civilization?

... and that the icon – the pinnacle - of the representation of Western Civilization is, in fact, the United States of America; humanity's highest achievement toward institutional freedom?

... and that the underpinning of freedom, is the economic system of Capitalism on which this nation is founded?

... and that the target of the fury of this murderous barbarian swarm is that very system?

The real symbol of Western Civilization was manifested in the monuments of the twin towers of the World Trade Center. In it was encapsulated the symbolic roots of the freedom of one man to decide his own destiny, and to resist meglomaniacal tyrants like Bin Laden... and wicked little vermin like
Militarytracy. That is why we are hated, and is ultimately the source of the desire to see us all dead. We are hated, because we think! We are hated because we create! We are hated because we live! We are hated because we know joy! We are hated because we do it all without so much as a 'by your leave' of the aristocracy of death and because we do not need them nor their perverse gods and fetid netherworld whores...

... nor their abstract consensus.

We are, by the nature of our existence, free to exist. And that is why the monsters hate us. We choose life. They want us dead. Take your pick. There are only those two choices and your time is running out.

UPDATE: 04.25.05:09:19
But wait, there's more. Pie's give way to fists, as male 'peace-activists' beats 49 year old woman supporting the troops. Paul Allaire, you're a piss ant not worthy of my boot heel. Check Michelle Malkin's piece, "Another Liberal Gone Wild."

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Trojan Rino...

Mr.Atos

Pardon me while I put on my swimfins and boxing gloves...

This is beginning to look like an ambush...complete with insurgents. Reading Rich Lowry's account of today's Bolton hearing trainwreck, one comes away with the image of a sabotaged boiler and dissembed track. Democrats are said to be targeting moderate Republican Senators, like Chafee, Lugar, and now the feckless and quite incompetent Senator Voinovich. Might we begin to suspect collusion?

The Democrat Senators have clearly initiated a scorched earth political campaign against the President's nominees - judicial and all. Not only will they resort to any means necessary to torch and immolate the characters and reputations of fine citizens and statesman, they are determined to destroy the entire political environment of the United States - the rules, traditions, and honor - for generations to come. Bipartisan discourse has been eliminated, and that's just for starters. But its one thing to note, as many have, the bankruptcy and profound malevolence that has overcome the Democrat Party. Its quite another to come to terms with Republican legislators who have gained power under false pretense of solidarity, yet who lend consistent allegiance to conflicting agendas. Is it any wonder that Frist's control has been handicapped. The tendons are being severed from within between muscle and bone.


The Republican base is being deliberately pitted now against the political leadership, and the effect is certain. While billionaire marxists funnel untold millions into campaign caches, the citizen supporters of the red county majority are being poisoned with apathy and despondency. Their sysiphian efforts which held firm against the 2004 onslaught of media and special interest legions, have yielded a shallow victory in the form of an epic Executive yet with an impotent Congress, and a forlorn Judiciary. The prize for the sacrifice of fortune and effort has been revealed as a withdrawal of leadership, and a compromised trophy of majority victory.

Watch for a mass defection.

See also, Doug Tennapel, Powerline, Hugh Hewitt, Michelle Malkin, HedgeHogCentral...

UPDATE: 04.20.05:17:31
I have been holding my fire as long as possible to give Republicans a chance to do the right thing. But, alas the Republicans look like the Trojans. After winning a tremendous victory against the onslaught of an offensive force, they’re done in by poor leadership and an empty trophy full of insurgent RINO’s who, for all intents and purposes, have snuck out in the dead of night and opened the gates to the vitriolic hordes of a berzerk extremist ideological minority. With all due respect to Senator Kyle, his whining on Hugh Hewitt's show this evening about the insanity of the Press is not going to stop the collapse of our defenses. The Old Busted Media, is old and busted as the demise of the LA Times demostrates. His concern for their viewpoint reflects a disturbing lapse in judgment. Delay in the face of a determined political foe, is the mortal threat at hand. In another month, the damage may be too significant to overcome and Frist and the Republicans, after losing in 2006 and 2008, will disappear into the same oblivion as Hector and his Trojans.

Monday, April 18, 2005

Marburg: Update 4...

Mr.Atos

A recent ABC News Online update claims that Doctors [fear] Marburg virus outbreak will worsen. It is a curiously provocative assessment for a very short update that provides no new information on Angolas outbreak of Ebola-like virus.

A previous story from ChinaView provides more information, reflecting a growing sense of fear extending to neighboring countries,


A number of African countries are taking measures to ward off the Ebola-like Marburg disease after an outbreak of the illness in Angola, local media reported Sunday.

The reports said Zimbabwe's Health Ministry has asked public hospitals and entry ports to increase vigilance against the hemorrhagic fever. Returningvisitors from Angola will have to go through necessary checks and those with suspected symptoms will beput in quarantine.

The Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) also requires people traveling in and out of the 57 entry ports bordering Angola to have body temperature measured and go though strict medical checks.


The Zambian authorities have sent medical and protective equipment to the three states bordering Angola and boost people's understanding of the Marburg disease in the areas. Kenya, Cameroon, South Africa and the Republic of the Congo arealso adopting measures to keep out the disease.

According to the Angolan Health Ministry, the epidemic has killed 233 people in the country since it first struck in October last year.

A story from Reuters South Africa has a more optimistic tone than the later ABC story reporting that Angola says Marburg outbreak coming under control:


Deputy Health Minister Jose Van Dunem said government and international health workers were turning to traditional healers and leaders to talk to the population.

"We already have it under control," he told Reuters in an interview in the capital Luanda late on Sunday. "There have been no new cases in other provinces. We know exactly how to cut the epidemiological chain of transmission."

But then there's this curious bit of contradiction in the same story...



International health workers in Uige have not yet confirmed the outbreak is under control. Marburg, which is transmitted through bodily fluids such as sweat, blood and saliva, has killed 235 people and infected 22 more,the health ministry said late on Sunday.

Almost all the cases have occurred in Uige province, northeast of Luanda.A handful of cases have been reported elsewhere in the country, but all among people who had recently visited Uige, the health ministry said.

Nearly three decades of civil war has wrecked the oil producing country's transport and health systems.

Van Dumen said 70 percent of hospitals and clinics were destroyed before the conflict ended in 2002. This has made it harder to tackle the disease.

But Van Dumen said poor roads between Uige and the rest of the country had also slowed the spread of the outbreak.

Residents say the main road out of the city is often all but impassable with flooding, potholes, and landmines still common along the route.



The Australian confirms that the death toll continues its steady daily climb, however, and seems to echo the sentiments of ABC's subsequent story...


The death toll from the Marburg epidemic has risen to 235 in Angola, with some 500 people under surveillance after coming into contact with the Ebola-like virus.Health officials are treating a total of 257 cases of the killer bug that has claimed 219 lives in the northern province of Uige, the epicentre of the outbreak, which was first detected in October. Angola's health ministry and the World Health Organisation said another 513 people were under surveillance. WHO experts said last week that there was no end in sight for the epidemic...
The information that is emerging from the region is curious at best. One is left to wonder if the full nature of this current outbreak is known, and if so, if it is been accurately reported. The sentiments reflected in the latest ABC story, seems to confirm their parallel suspicions.

One thing is for certain, the death toll continues a steady and perhaps slightly accelerated climb.


UPDATE: 04.19.05:12:32
Another story yesterday from Doctors Without Borders, both confirms some previous assessments and concerns, and shows evidence that the outbreak has reached beyond the Uige province... (HT. Freeper Judith Anne)

Despite these alarming statistics, measures announced to contain the epidemic have been slow to act and have so far failed to stop the epidemic spreading. While the epicentre of the outbreak is in Uige, last week saw the emergence of new areas of infection. In Songo, an hour west of Uige, four cases have been reported. While in Negage, 30 minutes south-west of Uige, the figure stands at three. The health infrastructure in these two localities has been affected...

Since the beginning of the crisis our teams have set up two isolation and treatment units: one in Uige Hospital, and one in Amerigo Boavida Hospital in the capital, Luanda. 23 patients have already been admitted to the centre in Uige. Isolation units are also being set up in Negage and in Songo, while the unit in Camabatela is already in place.


If the Uige containment has been breached, more personnel and supplies will be required to expand the efforts now in place. Each new case must be identified and assessed. All contacts must be identified, tracked and assessed as well. As the cases grow arithmetically, the task grows logarithmically. And strict sanitary procedures must be practiced throughout the process. Treatment hospitals must be reorganized as well, as the story further notes...

... hospitals affected by the virus must completely reorganised to avoid any risk of the virus 'nosocomiale' infection (this occurs when the virus is spread in the confines of the hospital itself).

All services must be disinfected and an isolation ward must be put inplace. Triage of patients must be stepped up in order to isolate suspected cases, and to prevent those infected by the virus coming into contact with patients of other illnesses.

These precautionary measures must be applied throughout the hospital. This involves not only the wearing of safety equipment but also the suspension of all invasive procedures (surgical operations, lab inspections, intravenous and intramuscular injections, etc.) with the exception live saving operations (emergency surgery, caesarian sections, etc.) which should be carried out in accordance with strict sanitary procedures.

Both the task at hand and the danger grows with each passing day. But, do let's remember those good people that are putting their lives on the line to both save the sick, and protect the well... and thank them silently, if not vocally.

Thank you.

Safety Net

My mother’s side of the family has a long tradition of philanthropy, charitable giving, social service and people in the medical profession. Her father was one of the most compassionate people you could ever meet. He also happened to be a WWII South Pacific Theater Veteran, Medical Doctor, Fellow in the American College of Surgeons, a highly-respected member of the medical community and a proud member of the Republican Party. Yes – a Compassionate Republican. Can you believe it?

Mom and I recently had a political discussion, the longest she and I have ever had. She observed that I was starting to sound very much like her father. Needless to say, I took it as a huge compliment. As it turns out, Socialized Medicine was a subject that he was very concerned about, i.e. he was staunchly against it.

As it so happens, Wretchard recently had a short post regarding Socialized Medicine in which he linked a very interesting piece by Theodore Dalrymple, a physician that recently escaped practice in the horribly bloated U.K. system of Socialized Medicine. Both of those posts are worth a careful read.

All of this discussion caused me to think a little more about Socialism in general. I start to wonder about people who call themselves socialists, because it really represents a real pathology. So for the sake of my grandfather’s memory, I felt it important for me to put my thoughts down in the blog here.

Any person with a sense of morality or ethics desires to help others that are less fortunate. To say that such a notion is wrong is, I would hope, beyond consideration of people in civilized society. This system of morality and ethics, however, has the potential to go horribly wrong. When compassion becomes institutionalized and bureaucratized, and therefore EXPECTED by certain members of society, it ceases to become meaningful or beneficial.

As a son, and now as a parent, I know the personal satisfaction of growing up and being responsible for myself. It is a matter of both personal respect and honor of my parents and family that I not be a burden to those around me. I could still be living at home, mooching off of my parents. However, that would show a profound lack of respect for my parents, that somehow I should continue to be supported by them when I am perfectly capable of functioning in society on my own. What if my parents had never grown up, either? Somebody would have to take care of them, too. Now relate this situation to a broader society. As the number of “care-ees” increases, the number of “care-ers” necessarily decreases. At what point does everybody need to be cared for and there’s nobody there to care for them?

It’s easy to argue that such a thing would never happen, and limited Socialism is okay. However, think about the simple paradigm of an able-bodied and capable person that doesn’t have to take responsibility for themselves. In too many cases, they won’t take that responsibility simply because they don’t have to. They will inevitably make choices in their life for which those around them will need to take responsibility. Since they have no personal responsibility for those choices, those choices arise without thought of their repercussions, either on themselves or on others. In other words, they have no incentive to make good decisions for themselves. Suddenly, since the repercussions of one’s decisions are somebody else’s responsibility, anything bad that happens is always somebody else’s fault. This results in a never-ending cycle where one bad decision leads to another, and the person making those decisions never seeks responsibility for them, nor do they stop to think that the bad things that are happening really are their fault.

Thank goodness my parents taught me a sense of good judgment. Sadly, many people around me were never taught this sense. Even more tragically, contemporary Western culture has somehow caused “having good judgment” to now mean “bigoted” or “closed-minded”. A bad decision (for which others will need to be responsible) is now simply just a “life choice” (Hat Tip: Theodore Dalrymple), and me judging such a life choice to be bad or wrong makes me a bigot or closed-minded.

Is this an example of a just society? Is it too late for a sense of personal responsibility, of accountability, an awareness of right and wrong, and personal pride to be taught to coming generations?

True compassion is necessary for society to function, and sometimes bad things happen to good people. An environment where wounds are self-inflicted tests the longevity and relevance of compassion. The safety net may not always be there. Those that can’t walk the tight rope will fall to their deaths.

UPDATE: 04.19.05:08:37

Mr.Atos

See Cardinal Ratzinger's recent Homily urging a rejection of the Dictatorship of Relativism. It is posted at Roman Catholic Blog. Even if you're not particularly 'religious' or do not neccessarily base principle on faith, it is nevertheless a profoundly powerful statement.

WordStock 2005...

Mr.Atos

Author
Philip Yancey is expected to be one of the more popular featured authors at this year's WordStock Festival in Portland, Oregon. From the Official Website,
Philip Yancey is editor at large of Christianity Today and cochair of the editorial board for Books and Culture. His books include Reaching for the Invisible God (2000), The Bible Jesus Read (1999), What's So Amazing About Grace? (1998), The Jesus I Never Knew (1995), Where is God When It Hurts (1990), and many others.
Some have gone so far as to call this journalist/writer the C.S. Lewis of our age. Putting that aside for the moment, here are a few quotes of Mr. Yancey from a live interview this morning on Portland's AM 1190 KEX

He opened the brief interview by pointing out that he lives and was raised in "Jesusland" America, a place he shortly thereafter referred to as the
"racist, angry, legalistic south."

He went on to note that "the church has stained the truth..." without explaining how. For that, my guess is you'd have to buy a ticket or have read one of his books; neither of which I have the time nor inclination to do.

He noted that in the gospels, Jesus was asked a question regarding faith 183 times, and gave only three direct answers. Yancey seemingly offered that as a defense of his moralistic abstractions as it would appear to be the origin of his own aversion to professions of clarity or certainty.


While applying the unreferenced assessment of Christians as "uptight dogooders trying to keep others from having a good time, " Mr. Yancey as much as excepted that charge by springing toward a conclusion on that basis.

He breifly discussed his new book, "
Rumors of Another World" where he attempts, as he describes, "to resurrect the rumor that their is more to life than what we see here" in an effort to "explore that rumor to find its origin."

Admittedly, I do not know much about Mr. Yancey. My initial impressions of the man have been formed by this brief interview and a few items that I have read online today. This article for instance, I Was Just Wondering, written in February of 2004 frames a few of his questions regarding the attacks of 911, and America's response..

How much would it have cost to reconstruct Afghanistan after their war with the Soviet Union, which the United States helped the Afghans fight?

How much will it cost to reconstruct it after we finish with it?

Why is the United States so much better at destroying buildings and then rebuilding them—as in Germany, Japan, Korea, Kosovo—than in keeping them from being destroyed in the first place?

Can you bomb a country back into the Stone Age if it already lives in the
Stone Age?

How much did the CIA spend training Osama bin Laden and his associates during the war with the Soviet Union?

How much are we now spending to hunt him down?

How do you demolish an ideology of fanaticism when, by killing those who preach it, you attract even more converts to their fanaticism?

During the war with the Soviet Union, Afghans lost one-third of their dwelling places. Yet, thanks to their tradition of hospitality, not a single person went homeless. Why does the richest nation in the world have so many homeless people while one of the poorest nations has none?

Could someone explain to me why the U.S. threatened to break the patent on Cipro after three anthrax deaths, yet vigorously resists “tampering with intellectual property rights” when someone suggests breaking the patent on AIDS drugs for the sake of 25 million infected Africans?

What do Christians who advocate a simple lifestyle think about our leaders urging us to spend money as an act of patriotism?

What do they think about all the people who lose their jobs when we stop spending money?

Would Jesus help his neighbors by spending money, or by maintaining his ascetic lifestyle?

Why do we Americans think of ourselves as such generous people when we allocate a smaller percentage of our Gross Domestic Product to foreign aid than does any other industrialized nation?

Why do the people who quote statistics about foreign aid fail to note that Americans prefer to give, not through government grants, but through private organizations such as the Red Cross and the Salvation Army?

Do Arab terrorists hate the United States and Europe because of our support for Israel, or hate Israel because of its association with the West?

Do any of these questions sound family? They ought to since they have curiously framed many or most of the talking points of the anti-war opposition. Knowing little more about the Man's politics, I'll leave it at that to promote WordStock itself.

WordStock'05...Portland’s Annual Festival of the Book, taking place over six days April 19-24, 2005. This year's festival will include featured readings by bestselling authors, poets and NW writing legends, panels on every conceivable subject, workshops for teachers of writing, dinners with your favorite authors, a free two day book fair with hundreds of exhibitors, two days of children's readings and activities, food, music, cooking demonstrations and more!

Given that the featured author this year is Norman Mailer, and the event originates in Portland, Oregon, one might suspect a political agenda inherent to this year's event. It looks to be a great time, nevertheless. Other authors are listed here...

Philip Yancey is scheduled to speak at Keller Auditorium at 7pm on Wednesday. Tickets can be purchased through Tickemaster.

Given time, I might consider reading more of Mr. Yancey's work, but there is a stack of books on my desk now that will take months to get through once I finish my professional examinations. And quite frankly, I am not particularly impressed by what I have seen so far. As an acknowledged Christian writer and spokesman, the man strikes me as more of a charlattan than a scholar. As for the similarities to C.S. Lewis, I do not recognize it up front; although a modern day Wormwood might wish it to be so. In the realm of Religious study, Yancey strikes me as more of a Kant than a Lewis, for what his ideas will bring to that end of philosophy is the same mortal poison that transendentalism and existentialism inflicted in the twentieth century on Reason.

Both approaches seem to be the same as an an effort devoted solely to subverting knowledge with questions that have no possible answer. Given that there are no stupid questions, there are however, stupid movements that are established exclusively on a quest to keep as many people as possible attempting to answer rhetorical questions. (Edited 04.18.05:18:53)

Friday, April 15, 2005

Hollywood is ‘Sideways’

Mrs. Dueler and I recently had a few hours of free time to see the movie Sideways. I was dreading it a little because it appeared to have a little too much of a chick-flick vibe. I was right to dread it, but it wasn’t a chick flick. Since I don’t advocate you spending your money on seeing Sideways, I’m going to spoil the plot here.

The movie examines a depressed and struggling writer/English teacher from San Diego taking his actor buddy (the groom) on an extended bachelor party road trip to Central California wine country. Sideways spends all of its time on the author's inability to confront his personal problems while simultaneously glorifying the actor's devious lasciviousness in the face of his impending wedding. All through the movie, my wife and I kept hoping that the writer/teacher would make a good decision about something. It was apparently too much to hope for that he would recognize his expertise in wine and devote his talents to becoming a bona-fide wine critic. But he never did that – he just kept focusing on how much of a pathetic failure he was, grasping for contentment in the arms of a woman he barely knows. We also hoped that the actor would get a dose of karma for deceiving his fiancĂ©e and his lustful conquests. He received said dose, but somehow a broken nose as a result of a deliberate roundhouse to the face by a motorcycle helmet wasn’t enough.

I couldn’t help but start contrasting Sideways with one of the best movies I’ve seen recently, In America. If In America is about ordinary people doing the right thing in spite of overwhelmingly difficult circumstances, Sideways is about selfish people doing the wrong thing under ideal circumstances. It is self-indulgence to the awkward extreme. Even the choice of main characters screams egotistical Hollywood Insider – who would have guessed that the movie would be about and actor and a writer? Sideways did have one good point - its cinematographic representation of the lazy autumnal amber-hued atmosphere of California Wine Country provided a soothing respite from the movie’s general discomfort.

Mind you, I don’t particularly have a problem with a person participating in the making of a movie like Sideways, nor do I have a problem with somebody’s right to enjoy the movie. However, I reserve the right to hold a low opinion of their character. What I am most disheartened about, though, is the awards and accolades the movie received, i.e. two Oscar nominations and a couple of Golden Globe awards. Those awards and accolades demonstrate just how far Hollywood has strayed from recognizing decent and timeless human values and how inwardly-focused it has become.

Hollywood used to understand the inherent dignity of doing the right thing, especially doing the right thing “in spite of it all.” Instead, it usually celebrates negative human qualities. It's one thing to recognize one's own inadequacies and shortcomings. It's quite another to then accept, rationalize, and finally glorify them. The critical realization of desiring to overcome one’s shortcomings has been nullified by Hollywood, and therefore much of contemporary culture. I fear that a profoundly damaging event is the only thing that will cause Hollywood, and American Culture in general, to re-cognize that striving to be a good and decent person (and to avoid evil) really is a timeless human value.

Thursday, April 14, 2005

Angola's Marburg Crisis...

Mr.Atos

As Angola's Marburg outbreak worsens,
CIDRAP notes a troubling condition impeding containment efforts... fear.


A specially equipped isolation ward at Uige province's 400-bed hospital is empty, even though Marburg cases and deaths are occurring in the area, the WHO reported. "It is apparent that, for the time being, the community does not accept the concept of isolation," the agency said. "Residents are unwilling to report suspected cases and allow these people to be managed under conditions that reduce the risk of further transmission."
Currently, the death toll in Angola's Marburg hemorrhagic fever epidemic reached 215; 65 more deaths since we reported on the outbreak last week, and nearly 100 since the WHO sent in a containment team two weeks ago. The latest figures suggest an acceleration of the infection which was first noted in October of last year. In the sixth months that followed, the virus claimed over 100 lives, making it the deadliest episode of its kind on record. Yet, in little over a month, the death toll has doubled despite the World Health Organizations efforts to contain this the outbreak. CIDRAP reports the mortality rate of this particular strain to be near 93%, meaning that of 100 persons exposed to the virus, only 7 will be expected to survive. Hence the growing atmosphere of fear. While family and friends see victims contained, extremely few ever emerge.

Fear is a particularly dangerous obstacle to containment. The atmosphere of fear, in its current stage, produces in victims a reluctance to make their potential conditions known to aid workers and officials due to the threat of permanent incarceration. The infected remain among their respective enclaves spreading the virus within and abroad. Containment is therefore breached by a passive reactionary resistance to isolation and treatment. Exposure accelerates. As the condition spreads exponentially, more aggressive methods of containment are required, employing police and even military forces. The atmosphere of fear becomes exasserbated by paranoia. Unable to fight against a microbial foe, human nature encourages a flight response. Victims flee into the security of larger population bodies where they become time bombs of mass destruction. Containment efforts in a center like Luanda - a city of four million people - could easily overwhelm current efforts.


The World Health Organization, recognizing the inherent risks of this situation, has launched an aggressive effort aimed at education:


Measures such as patient isolation and infection control that reduce opportunities for further transmission are the principal tools for bringing the outbreak under control. Given the urgency of the situation, WHO may temporarily introduce, as an emergency measure, a harm reduction strategy aimed at making a dangerous situation somewhat better. Family members and other caregivers who refuse to allow patients to be cared for in the isolation facility are being informed of ways to protect themselves from infection and given appropriate supplies. WHO has placed urgent orders for disinfectants, which are currently in short supply in Angola.

It's a bold effort to be sure. Volunteers expose themselves to a horrendous pathogen delivering certain death. Unfortunately, nature is proving to be an equally aggressive foe, as WHO reports:


In a tragic development, four Red Cross volunteers, freshly trained in social mobilization, were killed today by lightening while on their way to work. Support from Red Cross volunteers has been instrumental in controlling large outbreaks of the closely related Ebola haemorrhagic fever. WHO recognizes the importance of this support and deeply regrets the death of these volunteers.
We honor these heroic volunteers who, like soldiers, deploy themsleves on a different frontier of chaos in the protection of humanity. And yet their unfortunate loss further illuminates the danger of this present situation. Manpower being key, if current efforts at education and containment fail, the implulse for flight will eventually extend fingers of fear into the greater population of Angola; as will the fingers of infection. The danger of global outbreak increases with each passing day. A silent killer threatens to infect would-be travellers. Major Western concourses are less than the incubation period away... in all directions.

Stay Tuned.
(Edited 04.15.05:06:49)

UPDATE: 04.15.05:12:32

From AllAfrica.com today,

"Given the urgency of the situation, WHO may temporarily introduce, as an emergency measure, a harm reduction strategy aimed at making a dangerous situation somewhat better.

"Family members and other caregivers who refuse to allow patients to be cared for in the isolation facility are being informed of ways to protect themselves from infection and given appropriate supplies. WHO has placed urgent orders for disinfectants, which are currently in short supply in Angola," it added. Health care workers in hospitals and surveillances teams have been provided with protective clothing covering them from head to foot, including face masks and goggles.

WHO has repeatedly stressed that early diagnosis, isolation and tracing of all contacts are the only way to break the transmission chain of the disease, a relative of the equally deadly but better-known Ebola, which begins with severe
diarrhoea, abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting and chest and lung pains, and progresses to severe haemorrhage in the gastrointestinal tract and lungs.


But the Sydney Morning Herald confirms that escalting fear may compromise timely containment,

The WHO said medical teams are focusing on detecting cases and isolating them, as well as collecting bodies for swift burial.

But panicked locals are hiding sick family members for fear they will be taken away and never seen again, officials said. This is increasing concerns about contagion, and also has resulted in whole families dying from the virus.

The burial tradition which involves bathing the body, is another high-risk practice, so people resent the medical teams who pour bleach on the bodies, place them in transparent body bags and bury them within hours, without ceremony.

Update from the World Health Organization.

-



Tuesday, April 12, 2005

Franken, Stein...

Mr.Atos

So what's new with the attack-dog Democrats calling for Tom DeLay's ouster? This has been ongoing for quite some time, even before the current string of spurious charges and stretching back to Al Franken and Howard Dean's
October retirement party for him. As Al pointed out in a recent CBS article,

if Bush is defeated, "We’ll still have Tom Delay. We’ll still have a Republican congress and we’ll still have Rush and O’Hannity. And we’ll still have O’Reilly. And, we’ll still have Fox. We’ll still have the Wall Street Journal editorial page."
In other words, as long as Conservative opinion exists, the Left must erradicate it by whatever means necessary, according to Franken. Far from extending a tolerance towards alternative viewpoints, or appreciating the balance of a dynamic national thought process yielding the richness of diverse sensibilities, those like Al prefer to bath the American scene in the sewerage of rhetorical hyperbole. "Actually God asked me to," he declared in reference to writing his book, and continued,

"... because he was so pissed off at Bush who claimed, whose friends claimed, he had been chosen by God. And God said, 'No, he hadn’t. He was just chosen by Clarence Thomas," said Franken at a book convention, where he was promoting his book “Lies and the Lying Liars who Tell Them."
As flippant as this may actually be, his is nevertheless, the pinnacle of intellectual thinking of the Leftwing opposition in America today. Open irrationality has replaced pretense to render lunacy on parade. Is it any wonder that Leftists must resort to throwing pies, and other forms of escalating violence against those with whom they disagree. They have become clowns. For the party of so-called tolerance, "Hate and rage" are not family values - they are political virtues. And in the aftermath of yet another clobbering election defeat, Delay has become the target of opportunity for the full rage of a movement that has nothing whatsoever left to offer.

Ben Stein is certainly no Franken, yet today he is quite frank in his defense of a good statesman over at the
American Spectator Online,

Here with a few truths about Tom DeLay, the embattled GOP Majority Leader in The House of Representatives.

1.) Tom DeLay is morally probably the highest level public servant I have ever met. With virtually no political gain to be had from so doing, he has been the most enthusiastic supporter of Israel in the U.S. Congress. He has stood with Israel against terrorism and international anti-Semitism without reservation or fear. This is a man with more moral decency in his little finger than his detractors have in their whole bodies.

2.) The attack against him in the Texas courts are an outrageous -- but sadly emblematic -- Democrat attempt to use the judicial system to defeat electoral process. The DA who is tormenting him is the same one who made up an indictment of Kay Bailey Hutchison out of whole cloth to try to reverse the results of a solid electoral victory by the Republican party in Texas.If this kind of deviltry works, we can expect local Democrat district attorneys to routinely indict any Republican who is successfully turning out the electorate for the Republican Party. No elected official, no bureaucrat, is more unaccountable than an out of control, hatchet job prosecutor, and this is just what we are seeing at work against Tom DeLay.

3.) The very fact that the Mainstream Media are so desperately struggling to smear Tom DeLay is proof positive of what a good job he is doing at leveling the electoral playing field.

4.) If we throw him to the wolves, we are betraying a dear friend of the party, and a good man -- and allowing a vicious dirty trick through the judicial system to subvert the Constitution.

5.) Tom DeLay's comments about a judiciary that sanctioned the torture murder of Terri Schiavo and how it has to be brought to account was a brave and entirely sensible approach to an issue that dismays and frightens many Americans. His comments are yet another sign of what a fine patriot this man is.

6.) He has been there for us, and we need to be there for him.

If we must choose today between the sensibilities of Franken's world or that of Stein and DeLay, the choice is all too clear. The malevolent abomination that has stitched itself together from the refuse of the human psyche, offers little more than chaos and misery in place of the benevolent liberty from which it was birthed.

UPDATE:04.14.05:09:15

"The anti-DeLay hordes" - Emmett Tyrrell discusses DeLay at Townhall today.

Monday, April 11, 2005

Anti-Communist Reading List...

Mr.Atos

Over at Townhall, Mike S. Adams discusses his anti-communist reading list as a way to insulate your children from the harmful secular and socialist influences they will encounter in college... and even middle and high school.

Here's a summary of his list. But, the article is a good read and I encourage you to do so - especially those of you who are parents.

We the Living (1936)
Anthem (1938)
The Fountainhead (1943)
The Road to Serfdom (1944)
Animal Farm (1946)
1984 (1948)
Witness (1952)
The Gulag Archipelago (1956)
Atlas Shrugged (1957)
Treason (2003)

By all means add your own contributions to the list (in comments below). It's a strong list so far, but there's sure to be others. I will update Mike's list here accordingly as a growing resource so link or bookmark the post and come back soon.

I would round out the Rand top four with...
Atlas Shrugged
And start early with individualistic encouragement in the by way of Seuss...
Oh The Places You'll Go

UPDATE:04.11.05:12:22
Pardon the oversight, but Adam's piece was subdivided by advertising, making me believe that I had finished the list. Atlas Shrugged is indeed included in his top ten, as is... Treason (2003)

Here's another for younger students from author Sydney Kendall...

A Turn For Dewurst (2000) Kendall uses adult and children's characters in comparison and contrast on multiple levels to get at the heart of their moral choices. Heroes are honest minds who want to do the right thing, and villains are motivated by their desire to control others by faking, defrauding, bullying and physical force. (Amazon Editorial Review)

Sunday, April 10, 2005

Shays of Grey...

Mr.Atos

If there's anything that Republican legislators are really good at, it's shooting the party in the foot... and the knee, the butt, and ultimately in the head.

Shays: DeLay should quit as House leader (Associated Press)
"Tom's conduct is hurting the Republican Party, is hurting this Republican majority and it is hurting any Republican who is up for re-election," Rep. Chris Shays, R-Conn., told The Associated Press in an interview, calling for DeLay to step down as majority leader.
Mr. Shays, would you please sit down. There must be other pressing matters for you to attend to there in Washington than feeding your ego with Liberal media accolades while poisoning black and white issues of philosophical imperatives with your confused sensibilities.

Saturday, April 09, 2005

Oil of Dog...

Mr.Atos

Michelle Malkin notes another disturbing episode in a seemingly endless stream of stories regarding Europe's experimentation with institutionalized murder in the guise of euthanasia. Belgium joins their Dutch brethren in a race to metastasize the sanctity of life in the body of Western civilization from virtue to malignance. Quoting from the medical journal Lancet,

Nearly half the newborn babies who died in Flanders over a recent year-long period were helped to die by their doctors, a new study reported yesterday. Paediatricians in the Dutch-speaking region of Belgium either discreetly stopped treating the babies or, in 17 cases, illegally killed them with lethal doses of painkillers.

In watching this manner of decay of European culture, I am reminded of a classic short story...


My name is Boffer Bings. I was born of honest parents in one of the humbler walks of life, my father being a manufacturer of dog-oil and my mother having a small studio in the shadow of the village church, where she disposed of unwelcome babes. In my boyhood I was trained to habits of industry; I not only assisted my father in procuring dogs for his vats, but was frequently employed by my mother to carry away the debris of her work in the studio. In performance of this duty I sometimes had need of all my natural intelligence for all the law officers of the vicinity were opposed to my mother's business. They were not elected on an opposition ticket, and the matter had never been made a political issue; it just happened so. My father's business of making dog-oil was, naturally, less unpopular, though the owners of missing dogs sometimes regarded him with suspicion, which was reflected, to some extent, upon me. My father had, as silent partners, all the physicians of the town, who seldom wrote a prescription which did not contain what they were pleased to designate as _Ol. can._ It is really the most valuable medicine ever discovered. But most persons are unwilling to make personal sacrifices for the afflicted, and it was evident that many of the fattest dogs in town had been forbidden to play with me--a fact which pained my young sensibilities, and at one time came near driving me to become a pirate.

Looking back upon those days, I cannot but regret, at times, that by indirectly bringing my beloved parents to their death I was the author of misfortunes profoundly affecting my future.

One evening while passing my father's oil factory with the body of a foundling from my mother's studio I saw a constable who seemed to be closely watching my movements. Young as I was, I had learned that a constable's acts, of whatever apparent character, are prompted by the most reprehensible motives, and I avoided him by dodging into the oilery by a side door which happened to stand ajar. I locked it at once and was alone with my dead. My father had retired for the night. The only light in the place came from the furnace, which glowed a deep, rich crimson under one of the vats, casting ruddy reflections on the walls. Within the cauldron the oil still rolled in indolent ebullition, occasionally pushing to the surface a piece of dog. Seating myself to wait for the constable to go away, I held the naked body of the foundling in my lap and tenderly stroked its short, silken hair. Ah, how beautiful it was! Even at that early age I was passionately fond of children, and as I looked upon this cherub I could almost find it in my heart to wish that the small, red wound upon its breast--the work of my dear mother--had not been mortal.

It had been my custom to throw the babes into the river which nature had thoughtfully provided for the purpose, but that night I did not dare to leave the oilery for fear of the constable. "After all," I said to myself, "it cannot greatly matter if I put it into this cauldron. My father will never know the bones from those of a puppy, and the few deaths which may result from administering another kind of oil for the incomparable _ol. can._ are not important in a population which increases so rapidly." In short, I took the first step in crime and brought myself untold sorrow by casting the babe into the cauldron.

The entire story is not much longer than this excerpt, but significantly more poignant. Do read it in its entirety to witness how sardonic satire of one generation becomes the insidious reality of another. Blindly the Europeans surrender their humanity in incremental fragments like the proverbial boiling Frog... or in this case Dog.

As I've stated before, If existence by committee is to be the legacy of Mankind, then the silence of our lambs today may yield the soylents of necessity tomorrow.

FreeRepublic poster David Rennie links a related story from The Telegraph. Okie on the LAM discusses this as well.

UPDATE:04.10.05:20:35
The Anchoress highlights yet another story of mass euthanasia in Europe; this time in Britain, where a Coroner is demanding a public inquiry into claims that 11 hospital patients were deliberately starved to death. (HT: OkieBoy) The Oil must be in high demand.

Friday, April 08, 2005

Still Falling...

Mr.Atos

"Get off your Blog, and take me out!" - The command of a loving wife to her husband over morning coffee on their 4th Anniversary. But, the day had already been planned by the time the fetching Mrs. Atos issued her challenge. The boys went to the sitter, and we went downtown for a rainy yet wonderful "Bueller Day" that started with Starbucks, was savored over lunch at Dragonfish, and ended with a stroll down NW 23rd. It was a fine day of rare freedom, and no particular obligation. We came home with toys for the boys, ideas for the home, and the fresh fixings for a great dinner salad.

Typically April 7th is spent cutting powder down the Miracle Mile. Inevitably, we fall exhausted along the wind-ripped slope and lay for a while staring south together down the line of volcanic peaks of the Southern Cascades silently considering the years that started there one frigid day in April. Yesterday was little different in meaning, despite the setting. The conclusion for both of us was the same...

There is no relationship more glorious than marriage... the perfect balance of the two aspects of humanity that sees us joined along a path that restores unity for creation.

"Love does not consist in gazing at each other but in looking outward together in the same direction. "
Antoine de Saint-ExuperyFrench writer (1900 - 1944)
Still falling, My Angel... Still falling!

Wednesday, April 06, 2005

Despotism In Fact...

Mr.Atos

The fact is, that it is the 'progressive' Left, in fact, that tends today toward despotism. From
Medical News Today:


Illinois Gov Rod Blagojevich (D) on Friday issued an emergency rule requiring pharmacies to accept and fill prescriptions for contraceptives "without delay" and established a toll-free number for state residents to report refusals, the... Washington Post reports (Lyderson, Washington Post, 4/2). "Our regulation says that if a woman goes to a pharmacy with a prescription for birth control, the pharmacy or the pharmacists is not allowed to discriminate or to choose who he sells it to or who he doesn't sell it to," Blagojevich said, adding, "No delays, no hassles. No lectures" (Davey, New York Times, 4/2). Under the rule, which lasts 150 days, if a pharmacist refuses to fill a prescription for contraceptives, the drug store must ensure that the patient receives the prescription "promptly" -- usually by having another pharmacist fill the prescription, according to the Los Angeles Times.

However, the policy does not require all pharmacies to stock contraceptives. According to Susan Hofer of the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation, the state agency that oversees pharmacies, if a pharmacy does carry contraceptives but refuses to fill a valid prescription, it risks losing its license. She added that over the next 150 days, the state will hold public hearings on a proposal to make the rule permanent.

Free choice be damned! Individual moral imperatives are wholely subservient now to government edict and special interest dogma in the body of the Illinois crown. This decree is not simply about the dispensation of contraception, it is about the State compelling participation in abortion, which for many is 'murder.'

In February, a pharmacist at an Osco drug store in Illinois refused to dispense emergency contraception -- which can prevent pregnancy if taken within 72 hours of sexual intercourse -- to two women, saying that they could return at a later time and ask for a different pharmacist. Osco and the American Pharmacists Association supported the pharmacist because of Illinois' "conscience clause" rule, which allows physicians to refuse to perform abortion-related services on moral or religious grounds. However, Blagojevich on Friday said that under his interpretation, only physicians, not pharmacists, could invoke the clause, according to the ChicagoSun-Times. He added that he was "taking a stand against a growing national trend" of pharmacists who oppose abortion refusing to dispense contraceptives...
For those people who believe that abortion is murder, the Governor of Illinois is putting one gun in their hand pointed at another life, while he shoves his own gun at their head and demands that they pull the trigger before he does.

And so it begins. For all of the blathering on the Left regarding the seemingly oppressive police powers of the Patriot Act, their felocious defence of choice, and a quasi-religious deference to a presumed separation of Church and State, here is a premier State Official pronouncing that his dogmatic agenda is to be imposed with the full force of State authority on individuals operating under government license.

And the Left fully agrees with him.

Are there any agencies and professional practices that are not somehow licensed by and through the State? ... doctors, nurses, engineers, plumbers, architects, mechanics, therapists, teachers?

When will you be forced to renounce your principles to their dogma? Absolutism has returned in the form of blind faithfullness to an irrational political movement intent to surrender 200 hundred years of liberty to the pragmatic fortune of consensual whim...


...at the point of a gun.

UPDATE:04.14.05:13:09
Additional Stories. As infections do, the pestilence spreads...
Illinois
Arizona
Wisconsin

Tuesday, April 05, 2005

Outbreak Continues...

Mr.Atos

National Geographic Online reports today that Angola's Marburg outbreak has now claimed 150 people as of Monday and confirms CIDRAP's assessment of this strain's extraordinarily high mortality rate...

Scientists are puzzled by the epidemic's remarkably high fatality rate. So far, the Angolan Ministry of Health has reported 163 cases of the hemorrhagic fever, putting the fatality rate around 90 percent. In previous outbreaks, the disease has had a fatality rate as low as 25 percent.

This time, at least 75 percent of the victims have been children under the age of five.
"This is something we haven't seen in previous Marburg outbreaks," said David Daigle, a spokesperson for the infectious disease program at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in Atlanta, Georgia.

Discussing the strain, it's history, and the particular conditions of this deadly event that began last Fall, the NG report represents one of the most comprehensive assessments of this outbreak yet, noting the severity of its potential against the race for containment,

Efforts at containing the Angolan epidemic have been complicated by the country's poor health care system. Officials worry that the epidemic will spread from its epicenter in the remote, northern Uige province to more densely populated areas.

So far, two deaths have been confirmed in Luanda, the Angolan capital, according to Dick Thompson, the spokesperson for the World Health Organization (WHO) in Geneva, Switzerland...

As this outbreak became the deadliest ever last week, claiming its 126th victim, the WHO mobilized an outbreak response team to the area to work with local officials and help subdue the crisis. (See previous post) But, they race against the clock to aid the infected and contain the spread both within Angola and from a broader, infinitely more dangerous breach.

The prospect of the virus gaining a foothold in Luanda, almost four million people live in the Angolan capital, is ominous.

"The first thing that comes to mind is the international airport," said Daigle, the CDC spokesman. "We saw with SARS how fast it was able to spread to Canada and other countries once people started getting on planes."

Containing an outbreak is more difficult in a densely populated area where people are crowded together. The virus has the potential to rapidly spread to other people, especially health-care staff and family members who care for patients.

As with past Small Pox episodes, epidemic outbreaks have the potential of growing fast, overwhelming regional containment. Once that happens, response efforts can be diluted quickly and the disease can spread beyond the capacity for effective control. Add the speed and ease of global transconnection and the real potential for malicious intent into consideration, and the nightmare could be but a concourse away. Its a danger worth watching; and a crisis dared not entrusted to UN supervision alone.