Michael Vick "Should Have Been Executed"

Last night, on Sean Hannity's program, Tucker Carlson, a conservative commentator, suggested the Michael Vick "should have been executed" for his dog-fighting and cruel killing of dogs.  Well, why not?  According to evolutionary mythology, humans are just animals.  Dogs are animals.  We execute humans for killing other human-animals, why not execute humans for killing dog-animals?  Some dogs (most?) are a whole lot more likeable and useful than most humans anyway.  Carlson's idea sounds pretty good to me.  Stick Vick's head under water and hold him down till he drowns--just like he did to dogs.

Now, I'm being totally facetious here, except for the evolutionary mythology, the biggest crock on nonsense ever foisted upon humanity.  What Michael Vick did is utterly disgusting, revolting, and inexcusable.  But he spent 18 months in prison, and since he has been released, he has made efforts to change his behavior.  Sincere or not, I don't know, that's between Vick and God.  But he has been volunteering at the Humane Society, talking to school and community groups about the evils of dog-fighting, and wants to adopt a "homeless" dog.  The Christian religion teaches that a person can, and should, repent of their evil--not just in word, but in deed, and I think Michael Vick is doing just about everything he can in that regard.  He'll never be able to undo the wrong he did, but then, none of us will.  Carlson's comment was way over the top.

What he said was in response to President Obama commending the Philadelphia Eagles for giving Vick another chance.  I don't like much of what Obama says, of course (I have agreed with him a few times), because most of the time he is wrong because his whole philosophical presuppositions about life are wrong.  But I think he has a valid point about Vick; in most instances, people deserve a second chance, and Michael Vick is, at least in appearance, trying to make good with his.  Too often, conservatives simply make a knee-jerk negative response to anything a liberal says (the same is true the other way as well), and that is no doubt what Tucker Carlson was doing--Obama said it, so it must be wrong.  Not a good way to convince people of your own sincerity, wisdom, or merit in being heard.

I'm not especially a fan of Michael Vick because I don't particularly like the Philadelphia Eagles.  But if he is sincere and keeps doing what he's doing, then I'll back him 100%.

Six Months in Korea

As of this weekend, I will have been in South Korea for six months.  The time seems to be going slowly, but that's simply a matter of perspective, I suppose.  I would rather be in the states, but this beats starving and there have been enjoyable moments.

The latter (enjoyable moments) have especially been with the students.   I have nothing but the greatest admiration and affection for them.  And it shows in their response to me.  I've even had fellow teachers here at English Village tell me, "Mark, those kids just love you."   Yesterday, when this week's college students left, there was an awful lot of hugging and picture-taking (and that's common every week), as, even in the few short days they are here, special bonds are built in ways that never happens in America.  Or rarely so.  This is simply the nature of these people, especially young people.  They are far more "innocent" than American kids are.  The kids here are sweet, thoughtful, and family-oriented.  The Koreans aren't perfect, of course, and sometimes they try my patience (at least the little ones do), and their politicians can be just as corrupt, prideful, and incompetent as any in the world.  But that isn't what I've experienced in the first six months I've been here.

It's just in my nature, I suppose, to care.  Nearly all of the students come to English Village by bus, and when they leave on Friday (or Thursday, as in the case of yesterday), I'm always down at the gate to see them off.  And I'm usually the only teacher who does so.  Indeed, I had one Korean teacher comment on it (a middle-school teacher who had come to help take the children home).  She said, "You are down here and all the other teachers are not here."  When one of my co-workers made the comment I noted above ("Mark, those kids just love you"), she also asked, "How do you do it?"  I didn't have the heart to tell her, "Well, where are you when the kids get on their buses and go home on Friday?"  I'm not trying to toot my own horn here, though it may sound like I'm doing so.  I simply don't know any other way to teach or act.  Frankly, it probably isn't helping my depression any, to get attached to people who are leaving soon and who I'll probably never see again.  But again, I don't know any other way to be.

As I said, I'd rather be in America, simply because my family is there and I'd feel a little better with being able to communicate in situations where that might be necessary (doctor's appointments, for example).  But I'm where I am at the moment for reasons only the Lord knows; I'll do the best I can for these folks until He sees fit to send me someplace else.  My contract here ends in six months; it can be extended upon mutual agreement.  Whether that will happen or not, I do not know.  I only know that, all things considered, I could do a whole lot worse than I'm doing here, at least, job-wise.

I wish everyone a very Merry Christmas and the best of holiday seasons.

Current Event Ramblings, December 23

The Koreans don't do much Christmas, though they are playing seasonal music over the loud speakers here at the village.  Or at least, that's what it's supposed to be, I guess.  It sounds more like something coming out of an African jungle than the Christmas carols I'm used to.  You know the kind of music I'm talking about.  The kind where the singer has to run every note up and down the scale, and then screech for two or three minutes near the end of the song.  Utterly revolting.  But be that as it may, I'm working tomorrow (the 24th) and Monday (the 27th).  Saturday and Sunday are my regular days off, so there's really no "holiday" here, and it will be the same over New Years.  We had college students this week and they were enjoyable (they left today).  If I have to stay in Korea for an extended period of time, I hope to get on with a college/university here.  But I would prefer a college in the states.

Our Bible study is continuing.  It's been very cold here and we've had some sickness that's affected our numbers, but we are still going strong.  Last night, a Muslim fellow attended and we had a pretty good discussion.  I don't think he'd ever come face-to-face before with pure New Testament Christianity.  But, for that matter, very few people have.  I also touched a bit on the topic of worship/instrumental music, so while our study at the moment is on Genesis, it opens opportunities to talk about other subjects as well.  To God be the glory.

There is nothing more frustrating than impenetrable stupidity, and the United States' Republican Party is full of it.  They clearly and decisively won the election last month and have done nothing since but give Barack Obama victory after victory after victory.  The "tax cut" bill was a farce, the START treaty has the Russians laughing at us, and the moral disintegration of America continues full tilt with the repeal of the "don't ask, don't tell" homosexual military policy--any of which the Republicans could have stopped.  Winston Churchill did say, "In victory, magnanimity," but he didn't say, "in victory, stupidity."  It's one thing to be magnanimous; but if, as in the case with Obama, the magnanimity allows bad policy, then there is no victory at all--the opponents have gotten what they wanted all along.  The Republican Party simply does not know how to govern.  The Democrats know how, but unfortunately, everything they believe and practice is wrong and detrimental to any moral, economic, defensive, or social progress of the country. 

As was the case with Rome, and every other strong and great empire, the United States will never be conquered from without until it first decays from within.  When the foundations of a civilization or nation are destroyed, that civilization or nation will soon cease to exist, or, at best, be nothing more than a shell, or the barest reflection of its former glory.  The Democratic Party is doing everything it can, as rapidly as possible, to undermine the foundations upon which the United States were built and which made the country strong.  And the Republicans are either too stupid to see it, or too gutless to do anything about it. 

Or, heaven forbid, they've come to agree with the Democrats.

Not much war talk going on over here at the moment.  The North Koreans blinked earlier in the week by backing down on their threat to respond forcefully to the South Korean military exercises, and the South is shoving it up their noses by putting up Christmas decorations on the border where North Korean border towns can see them--something the South hasn't done for several years.  It's interesting being here during all of this tension; I'm not sure I'd feel the same way, though, if a war broke out.
If I don't write again for a few days, then Merry Christmas everyone.

Current Event Ramblings, December 18

Today's stuff while I'm waiting for my clothes to finish washing....

Another half-inch of global warming fell on Paju Thursday night.

The "tax cut bill" passed Congress and is being touted as a victory for Obama.  It wasn't, it was a victory for the Tea Party (and rest of the American people) who forced Obama to give up his plan to nix the current (Bush) tax rates.  And remember, this wasn't a "tax cut"; except for one minor payroll tax (used to "fund" Social Security), there was no lessening of taxes.  This was simply a retention of the lower tax rates the Republicans passed under Bush several years ago.  But this is the way liberals, Congress, and the media spin things:  a lessening of anticipated tax or spending hikes is called a "cut."  For example, Congress announces that, for the next fiscal year, they are going to increase the funding of project X by $5 billion.  But then, deals are made and Project X only gets $2 billion more.  Congress has thus made a "cut" (I'm not lying, that's what they do).  In this present case, since the Bush tax rates were to end this December, and since Congress decided to extend them, taxes were "cut."  There are a lot of people stupid enough to believe that.  But there are a lot of people who aren't, too.

Incidentally, Obama and leading Democrats (like Dick Durbin) are now arguing that raising taxes in a recession is bad economic policy.  If they had admitted that two years ago and cut taxes, as they should have, instead of wasting hundreds of billions of dollars on "stimulus" packages that didn't work, and sending anti-business signals every time they spoke, then the recession would be over by now.  It shouldn't have lasted more than three or four months anyway, and wouldn't have if the brainless politicians (on both sides of the aisle) had left it alone.  Obama is setting himself up for a win-win here, and the "mainstream" media is playing along with him, of course.  If the economy improves over the next two years, he can claim that it was his tax bill that caused it.  If the economy doesn't improve (which it probably won't), he can announce that tax cuts don't help economic growth.  What you must keep in mind is that this bill does NOT cut taxes; it keeps the current rates in place.  These rates have been operative since long Obama came to office and were insufficient to spur economic growth, thus there is no reason to expect massive economic growth in the near future.  A real cut, i.e., a lowering of the rates across the board and a relaxation of regulations on business are what are truly needed.  A flat tax of about 5% on all Americans would be where I would put it.  And then an elimination of all useless, unconstitutional government spending, i.e., about 99% of it.  But I'm dreaming, of course.

North Korea announced yesterday that if the South went ahead with some planned military activites in the next few days on the disputed Yeonpyeong Island (the one the North bombed last month), that it would retaliate more strongly than it did on November 23.  Still huffing and puffing.  Yeonpyeong Island is about 50 miles from Paju.

Noon update:  The South Korean government has made it known that they will proceed with the military drills on Yeonpyeong Island, regardless of the North's threat.  The drills will probably be held Tuesday.  This could get interesting because the North has flat said they will retalitate for any South Korean military activity on the island, which is right on the border between the two countries.  Not that they might retaliate, but that they will

We'll see who blinks this time--if anybody.

Current Event Ramblings, December 15

It was 10 degrees in Seoul when I got up this morning (about 7:45), with a wind chill of -2.  We are in the mountains about an hour north of Seoul, so it's probably close to zero here, with a wind chill far below that.  The U.S. Midwest is wallowing in snow, and West Palm Beach, Florida had a record low the other night.  More evidence of global warming.

It is clear here, however, and there is no prediction of any precipitation in the near future, and it's supposed to warm up into the 40s by the end of the week.  I've always liked cold weather; it will be interesting to see if I'm still singing that tune after 4 months of this stuff, which is the minimum of how long it will last.  Or so I'm told.

I need to go so I can turn the heat on in the classrooms.  Nobody else does it....frankly, folks, this place is amateurish.  But I do like working with the adults, which is what I'm doing this week.

Current Event Ramblings, December 11

This is a dry time of the year, news-wise, as everybody prepares for the holiday season.  However, there are a few things going on worth a word or two, mainly the curren tax debate going on in the USA.  It's not a good deal, because even though it keeps current tax rates at the same level, the Democrats are loading the bill with all kinds of pork, which will only continue to bloat the federal budget and hasten an economic catastrophe.  Plus, tax rates should not be kept the same, they should be cut.  And federal spending should follow suit.  I think I've posted the following quote before, but it's relevant here:  "To take from one because it is thought that his own industry and that of his father's has acquired too much, in order to spare to others, who, or whose fathers have not exercised equal industry and skill, is to violate arbitrarily the first principle of association--the guarantee to every one of a free exercise of his industry and the fruits acquired by it."  That's Jefferson.  The Democratic Party is obsessed with a "soak the rich" mentality.  It's theft, that's all it is.  If I put a gun to someone's head and demand their money, we all know that is wrong; it's taking something that I have not earned from someone who has.  But, in a socialistic, or quasi-socialistic society such as we have today, if I vote for a Congressman, who puts a gun to someone's head (called the IRS), takes his money, and gives it to me, that suddenly becomes acceptable because it is done "democratically."  I'm sorry, folks, but culpable homicide is still homicide, and culpable theft is still theft.  The Bible did not say, "Thou shalt not steal--unless a majority in Congress vote for it."  The Republican Party will do little or nothing to try to get a better bill than the current one, and don't expect them to push for greater tax cuts in the near future or significant cuts in the federal budget.  Federal spending needs to be slashed, not cut.  But then, all the current politicians are hoping they will be dead when the reckoning finally comes.  That may or may not happen.

The war talk between North and South Korea has cooled, but not ceased.  The public doesn't know what's going on behind the scenes--it never does until the volcano explodes.  We had some Defense Security people here this week, and I asked one of them what he thought about the possibility of war.  He didn't think there would be one, but emphasized that such was just his opinion.  The fact that the government allowed some defense personnel to come to English Village is perhaps significant.  Or perhaps not.  Who knows what goes on in the minds of government leaders?  Except, usually, nothing good.

Not surprisingly, Harry Reid threw a fit when the "don't ask, don't tell" queer policy for the military wasn't overturned by the Senate.  He claimed it was an equal rights issue, which it's not, it's a moral one.  Good for the Republicans that they were able to kill the bill.  However, the vote was 57-40 in favor of it (it needed 60 votes), so that still tells us a lot about the current moral mindset of the "leaders" of this country.  Well, since they are thieves, why not support homosexuality?

Current Event Ramblings, December 4

Not a lot to report today except that I've finished River Bend, cowboy story number 5, and I'll get it posted soon.  It takes awhile to get those things blogged, but I hope to have it done by Monday, at the latest.  I also have a post on Luke today, and want to do more of that soon as well.  Some might wonder why I've been able to write westerns but haven't been doing much Bible posting lately.  Well, it has to do with work, depression, trying to escape how I feel; it's hard to explain to those who've never experienced bipolar 2 depression.  But I get by, and I'm in a lot better shape than a lot of folks, and for that I'm thankful.  I've been working on River Bend for several months now, so it's not like that's all the writing I've done.  It is pretty long, though.

We've got a run of adults coming this month, so I won't be quite so worn out at the end of each day.  And it's a little more intellectually challenging.  This coming week some people from the Korean defense ministry will be here.  These English Villages--and there are several scattered around Korea--are well respected and draw from the upper echelons of society, including judges, lawyers, civil servants, teachers, etc.  So this is not a podunk place.  It's just on the backside of nowhere.  It's a good job, though.

Current Event Ramblings, December 3

A couple of quick matters before I go to work:

The House yesterday voted to extend the Bush "middle class tax rates" but not those for the "rich."  Hold it.  All we heard, for seven or eight years, is how Bush cut taxes "for the rich"; now, all of a sudden, the Bush "middle class tax rates" are extended.  Oh, but the media isn't biased in its reporting.  Never....

And this jewel from our "brilliant" White House:  not extending unemployment benefits will cost jobs.  Think about it.

There's nothing new over here on the North Korea/South Korea situation.  War talk has cooled, but let me remind us of history.  It was June 28, 1914, when Archduke Ferdinand of the Austria-Hungary Empire was assassinated by Serbian nationalists, but the first of August before World War I broke out.  Give the politicians and diplomats and few more weeks to screw thngs up before we issue a sigh of relief that war is not going to happen on the Korean peninsula.

A Tribute To Some Wonderful Christian People

Nobody will ever convince me that there are better people on this earth than true Christians.  Yes, there are many, many hypocrites, and a multitude of false versions of "Christianity" which the devil has used to poison the minds of many against the one, true religion of the Author of the heavens and the earth.  But when you find those who truly strive to live according to the Bible, you will never find better people.  That's to be expected, of course, because they live by the highest moral standard in existence.  If America has any chance of survival, any chance at all, it rests solely in a return to the Bible, to the pure, undiluted doctrines of Chrisitanity.  I challenge anyone to point to any problem that America--or the world--has that cannot be solved by a proper application of the teachings of Jesus Christ.  It isn't the true Chrisitans who are raping, robbing, committing murder, spreading vile and filthy sexual diseases, and plaguing mankind with drugs, alcohol, pornography, divorce, terrorism, feminism, and any other scourge our planet faces today.  True Christianity, universally applied, will eliminate every one of those, and no other religion or philosophy can say that.

I write these words, number one, because they are true, and they are manifest every day of the year.  But I also am writing because I want to say a few words about some wonderful, loving, thoughful Christian people.  The church of Christ in Wartburg, Tennessee, has since I've been in Korea, sent me three "care boxes" full of items that I simply cannot get here, or are very expensive.  I never asked them to send me anything; they volunteered, wanting to know the things I needed--but also wanted.  I received two of those packages today filled with various things I have use for; but the most touching contents of the boxes were 11 Christmas cards from various members of the church there.  Wartburg is a small congregation, so 11 cards represents most of the people/families in that church.  And some may think that a card isn't much; but it's the time and the thoughtfulness behind the card that means so much.  It's heart-stirring, much more than I could ever put into words.

And then, of course, there is the time and expense of purchasing and mailing the goods in the packages.  I want to publicly thank Rick and Julie Comer for spearheading this.  They are one of the bedrock couples in that congregation; finer people neither inhabit this globe, nor will inherit glory. Rick has kept in contact with me ever since I left Tennessee, and he'll never know how much it means to me to hear from him.  Another member there, a widow lady named Necie Martin, also sends me emails--sometimes inspiring, sometimes funny, always appreciated.  As I mentioned, the Wartburg church of Christ is a small church, maybe 40 or 50 people in attendance on a good Sunday morning.  But the Lord doesn't need huge number to do good.  And world evangelism, as important as it is, is not the sum total of the religion of Jesus Christ.  He watched a widow throw two mites, less than a penny, into the treasury, and to Him, it was great thing.  The people in Wartburg may not think they are doing a "great thing".  But I think they are, and I'll bet the Lord does, too.

If only...if only, only, only...this world had more people like those brethren in Tennessee.

Did South Korea Blink?

Yesterday, the South Korean military cancelled some military exercises that were to be held on the island the North Koreans bombed last week.  No explanation was given for the canellation.  When I got up this morning and checked the news (it's about 8:20 AM right now), there was no mention of any significant happenings last night.  There is still no panic over here, people are going on with their daily lives as though there were no cloud hanging over the peninsula.  We have no indication of what might happen.

Again, why South Korea cancelled the planned military exercises is unknown to the public.  Perhaps it was an act of good-will, a desire to show the North that no aggressive intent is intended by the South and its allies.  How North Korea will interpret the act is anybody's guess.  Usually, the thug dictatorships see such actions as weakness and attempt to prey on them.  We'll see.  Right now things are calm and we're all hoping they stay that way.

On the weather front, we had about a half-inch of snowfall two nights ago, but there's no indication that winter has set in full force yet.  It's in the high-30s right now and should be close to 50 by the time the day is over.  Still, snow in November is not something I'm used to.  Kinda nice actually, since I like winter.  All the students arrived safely so the school is open for business.  I'm told that snow doesn't slow things down much over here.  I guess you get used to it.

Current Event Ramblings, November 27

We got a dusting of snow last night; not much, but it's visible on the ground.  A lot more of that to come, from what I've been told.  It's supposed to warm up over the next few days, though.

The tensions between North and South Korea haven't cooled down any.  The North is still blustering about a possible war, and the South is massing troops in various vulnerable regions.  I...don't...think it's going to happen (war), but then, nobody ever believes a war is going to happen until it does.  I really don't see what North Korea would gain by it, or what they would even hope to gain by it.  A united peninsula under Northern control?  That's not going to happen, surely Kim Jong-il is smart enough to know that.  North Korea couldn't win a war, not without China's help, and a war with the west doesn't appear to be in China's best interests, either.

But only Pyongyang and Beijing know what is going on in the halls of Pyongyang and Beijing....

Regarding China, I do have this interesting quote I'd like to share with my readers.  I've actually put this on my blog before, but it's been over a year and it may have some relevance here.  It's about Japan, not China:

"The history of Japan is an unfinished drama in which three acts have been played.  The first...is classical Buddhist Japan (522-1603 A.D.), suddently civilized by China and Korea, refined and softened by religion, and creating the historic masterpieces of Japanese literature and art.  The second is feudal and peaceful Japan of the Tokugawa Shogunate (1603-1868), isolated and self-contained, seeking no alien territoy and no external trade, content with agriculture and wedded to art and philosophy.  The third act is modern Japan, opened up in 1853 by an American fleet, forced by conditions within and without into trade and industry, seeking foreign materials and markets, fighting wars of irrepressible expansion, imitating the imperialistic ardor and methods of the West, and threatening both the ascendancy of the white race and the peace of the world.  By every historical precedent the next act will be war."

That was written (by Will Durant) in 1936, five years before Pearl Harbor.  It sounds an awful, awful lot like China of 2010.

11/25, Nothing New

Except that North Korea announced, yesterday, that the "region is on the brink of war."  I'm getting all my info off the Internet, which anyone else can do.  The happenings here at English Village are personal, of course, but there's nothing new to report.  If something comes up, I'll put it on this blog.  But I haven't gotten blown up yet.

Another War in Korea? Part Two

This week in Gyeonggi Englsih Village we were teaching middle school students.  I arrrived at work this morning and found out that they are all going home because they would "feel safer" there (they are all from a city south of Seoul).  Our "head teachers" were at pains to tell us "not that they ARE safer at home, but that they FEEL safer."  The parents and schools of the children are no doubt behind this, and it's understandable.

I'd feel safer south of Seoul, too.

Another War in Korea?

I've had three people so far email me, expressing concern over North Korea's "attack" on South Korea yesterday, with a limited southern response. It was the most serious military confrontation between the two countries since the armistice ending the fighting in the Korean War was signed in 1953. The island that was struck by over 200 North Korean missiles is not very far from the English Village where I work; perhaps 50 miles.  We are in the northeastern corner of South Korea, and can see North Korea across a nearby river. The EV administration has already sent us an email saying "business as usual;" they are in contact with Korean officials who are obviously trying to stave off concern and panic. At the moment (Wednesday morning in Korea), that's where things stand.

I don't know why, of course, North Korea launched these missiles; they claim the South fired first (not an impossibility), and they are upset that South Korea continues to hold military exercises in the area (something the South has been doing for years). Kim Jong-il is near death; perhaps he wishes to do more, before he dies, than just spit at the South. But, there is greater concern than that. The recent launching of a missile close to the California border is suspicious; are the Chinese (who, in effect, control North Korea), testing the will and strength of the Obama administration? Mr. Obama responded to the attack yesterday, saying he was “outraged.” Only time will tell if he intends more than just words. Or if more than just words are needed. South Korean President Lee Myung-bak has replied with some restraint; he warns of strong measures if the North Koreans continue their aggression. We’ll all have to wait and see what happens. I’ll keep you informed from this end, but there is no mass panic yet over here.

Hopefully, the thing will blow over soon. As I mentioned, the Chinese might be testing Obama; I have no doubt that they would be willing to fight to the last North Korean soldier, much as the Soviet Union used the Cuban military at will. But I’m still not convinced the Chinese want a war. They are winning the economic battle with America now, and I can see no advantage to a war. And I don’t think that’s what they want—even a war on the Korean peninsula would gain them nothing, especially since they would have to supply much of North Korea’s military material. But a more frightened America, weakened American markets and currency, the United States taken down a notch—the latter Mr. Obama himself has, in effect, been preaching around the world. Maybe the Chinese are asking him if he really means it. I have no answers at the moment.

Stay tuned.

Current Event Ramblings, November 19

Things are still a little dry on the news front and it will probably remain that way through the holiday season.  As expected, the G20 in Seoul accomplished nothing but adding to global warming with a lot of hot air.  Obama and the GOP are getting set to fight over taxes.  Obama can't wait to raise them some more under the lie of cutting them.  The Republicans want to keep the Bush tax rates, which would be a good thing, of course.  The problem is not that people are undertaxed, but that government spends too much money.  But that's the way politicians buy votes.  The Democrats found out earlier this month that spending other people's money and giving it to people who don't deserve it isn't always appreciated; they found that out, but I'm sure they didn't learn from it.  Stealing is simply a mantra cut in stone for the Democrats.

I want to publicly thank once more Rick and Julie Comer and the church of Christ in Wartburg, Tennessee, who are putting together another "care package" and sending it my way.  There are just some things I haven't been able to find in Korea, even at Costco, which is the main place I shop.  But it's a 30 buck cab fare from the school here.  There are no grocery or department stores nearby; there are a few 7-11 type places, but, like 7-11 back home, they are expensive and don't have a whole lot of what I want or need anyway.  So, I really appreciate Rick and the brethren in Wartburg volunteering and spending the money to send me a package.  Any mail is nice to get, especially something I can use and can't get here.

Speaking of the church, our Wednesday night Bible study is churning along.  We're going to settle in to having about 6, on average.  We're dealing mainly with Westerners here and, as in the states, any excuse can be shoved in front of Bible study.  But there's a core that's attending and we're having some good studies.  I'll teach as and when I can and let the Lord provide whatever increase there might be.

I haven't done much writing on my Bible blogs in recent days simply because I haven't felt like it.  Work and depression take too much out of me, but hopefully, that will change soon.  Work won't, in fact, in a few weeks we're going to have a realy busy session.  Twice a year, here at the Village, they have this thing called "VIP," which doesn't stand for Very Important Person.  I don't know what it stands for except more work for the teachers.  We had a VIP just after I arrived in the summer.  It lasts 4-5 weeks.  Some of the work here is a farce, frankly.  I'm under commission at the moment to write an English lesson for elementary kids based on some scientific matter.  I let it be known that I thought that an historian with nearly a PhD in that subject and who has spent his entire academic career working with college students and adults is not terribly qualified to write a English/science lesson for elementary kids, indeed, that it's absurd.  There are tons of ESL lessons available for use for that age group, but English Village insists on unqualified "teachers" writing lessons about topics they have no business writing about.  It's not a good thing and the kids suffer because of it, which is a shame.  On the writing front, I feel bad about not writing as much, but I feel bad most of the time, period.  I'll work on things as I can.

Current Event Ramblings, November 13

The New York Times had a headline a day or so ago, "Obama's Economic Views Rejected on World Stage," meaning at the G20 Summit, of course. Well, they were rejected in America last week, too. But get this. Some people are just so desperate to defend the man...the New York Daily News had this report: "Body Language Expert Says Barack Obama Runs the Show in Meeting with Chinese Premier Hu Jintao" A "body language expert"?? Yeah, this guy says Obama wiped the floor with Hu because the Prez looked cool and relaxed and the Chinaman was "defensive." Well, the Chinaman told the Prez to go fly a kite, but that doesn't matter. Obama still "won" his meeting (confrontation) with Hu. Body language expert....that shows just how low Obama has sunk when that's the best his supporters can do to defend him. The man is a complete and utter failure as President of the United States, which doesn't surprise anyone with a modicum of intelligence. Obama was never qualified for the position anyway and every one of his political beliefs has been proven unsuccessful throughout history wherever applied. History, folks...but, as Hegel said, "history teaches us that men learn nothing from history."

Rush is reporting that there is an undercurrent in the Democratic Party that Obama is going to destroy the party, completely disintegrate it. That's not going to happen. The same thing was being said about the Republicans after the 1932 election (FDR's win over Hoover during the Great Depression). The problem is, the Republicans won't succeed, either, because the underlying belief of most politicians in both parties is that government can solve most of the country's ills. It can't, and until that lesson is learned, the two parties will continue to play ping-pong with political authority in America. The people keep giving power to one party or another because both fail when in the leadership, and the sheep--the flock that's being fleeced (the people)--just don't have the knowledge or intelligence to recognize that they are betting on a loser--government. There are only certain things government is good at; get it out of its field, and it will miscarry like any other entitiy trying to accomplish what it cannot competently do. Another lesson of history that men never learn. Our Founding Fathers knew it, but we left them in the dustbin a long time ago.

To illustrate the above, Bobby Jindal, the current governor of Louisiana, and considered a political conservative, has just published a book basically lambasting Obama for his incompetence in handling the BP oil spill. Again, Jindal's premise is that the federal government should have been able to deal with this crisis in an effective manner. No, Governor Jindal, it is simply not in the provence of government to solve private industry problems; it will only muck things up, as proven not only the the BP oil spill, but the Hurricane Katrina disaster, when a Republican president was in power. The feds' failures in those two cases were not the fault of Bush and Obama; their fault was in continuing to let people believe the myth that government is the solution to these sorts of problems.

One strike against Bobby Jindal, who is probably positioning himself for a run at the presidency in 2012.

And in the "why teachers don't like administration" category, we have this item. Last week, I went to the hospital/pharmacy to get my depression prescription refilled. The pharmacy didn't have enough of the medicine, so the lady said she would order it and send it to me here at English Village. I received an email from someone in admin yesterday saying that the medication which I had left at the pharmacy by mistake had arrived and I could pick it up at his desk. "By mistake." It was automatically assumed that the fault was mine. I guess school administration--like government--is the same everywhere in the world.

Current Event Ramblings, November 12

Kinda slow right now, everywhere, at least regarding things I want to comment on.  The weather in Korea is getting colder, but then, it's that time of the year so that's not really news.  The G20 Summit is in Seoul this week and, surprisingly, the North Koreans--at least that I've heard--aren't threatening to launch at attack on the moon, whatever other idiocy that fat little dictator up there can think of.  The G20 will accomplish nothing but the wasting of taxpayers' money.  But politicians will never learn that it is consumers who control economies, not governments, 90% of what the latter does is interference and harmful.  Regarding North Korea, nobody knows yet, of course, what his son/successor will do, but it's doubtful Kim Jong-Il would have appointed him if he thought the kid was going to be mush.  We'll see.  If anolybody cares.

The Dallas Cowboys fired their coach, Wade Phillips, after an utterly disastrous first half of the season.  It was quite obvious, even from Korea, that the Cowboys have given up on the year.  I wish they'd hire Bill Cowher as head coach; he's a great football coach, but I don't think it's going to happen because he's pretty bull-headed, Jerry Jones knows it, and Jones wants to run the team his way.  The Cowboy are in disarray at the moment, and it will interesting to see if and when they can put the pieces back together again.  I guess it will be interesting.  We'll see...if anybody cares.

Not surprisingly, Barack Obama was AWOL from his country on Veteran's Day.  George W. Bush spoke to a veteran's group in Ohio.  It would be nice if Obama would just stay gone for the next two years.

And I've just got to share this.  Some weeks here at English Village we don't have adult students, so I work with middle school students.  At the end of the week (Friday), they write a "post card" to their favorite teacher.  Here's one I received today:

"Dear Mark.  Hello, Mark.  My name is Sun Hu.  I had a good time in EV because of your humor.  You look like 75-year-od grandpa.  Get your face better.  Bye. 

From Sun Hu"

I'm going to go kill that kid....

They Had Their Chance and Blew It

As we all know by now, the GOP won control of the House of Representatives--by a rather substantial margin--but the Democrats retained a majority in the Senate.  That latter figure is not set yet, as I write this.  These results are pretty much what most had predicted and expected in the last few days leading up to the election.  Fortunately, we will no longer have to put up with Nancy Pelosi as Speaker of the House, but unfortunately, Harry Reid won re-election in the Senate and remains Senate Majority Leader.  And Barack  Obama is still President for two more years, but hopefully no longer than that.

What does it all mean?  I'm not an alarmist, nor do I get overly jubilant about matters pertaining to politics.  It's nice that the GOP controls the House; all money bills must originate in that chamber, so the Republicans should be able to put some brakes on the reckless spending of the Obama administration.  The Democrats cannot say they didn't have a chance.  They have controlled both houses of Congress since 2007 and the presidency since 2009.  They had solid majorities in both chambers; there was absolutely nothing the Republicans could do to stop anything the Democrats wanted.  The Democrats could simply have out-voted the Republicans on any bill.  But the only really significant piece of legislation passed these past two years was the health care bill, something a solid majority of Americans did not want.  Well, there were also the stimulus bills, something else which peeved the people.  That elitism--ramming laws down Americans' throats that they disapproved of--plus the utter inability of the Democrats to improve the economy, are major reasons they took a pounding in this election.  It was a well-deserved rebuke, but the chances that Obama and his cronies have learned anything are zero and none.  He'll have to compromise on some things, but he'll still get as much of his radical left agenda as he can.  That's what the takeover of the GOP in the House can prevent.  And it's not a small thing.

Yet, the Republicans won't be able to do very much in a positive vein simply because the Democrats will still control the Senate and the presidency.  I've already, in this blog, and more than once, expressed my approval of gridlock, and so that may be the biggest positive the GOP brings to Washington.  They won't be able to undo, however, anything Obama has done to this point; don't look for a repeal of the health care bill in the next two years.  It's not going to happen.  And keep in mind, Harry Reid, Barbara Boxer, and a few others of that ilk got re-elected; there are still massive numbers of people in the United States who are woefully ignorant of the principles of proper government and civilization, and unfortunately, they have as much right to vote as people who do have such knowledge.  That is the curse of democracy and the ultimate reason it always fails.  Ignorance can always be demogogued and will inevitably fall prey to a philosophy of dependence and "feel good-ism." 

Yet, there are obviously still enough perceptive people in America who want to put a stop to the unbounded radical agenda of Obama, Pelosi, and Reid.  This election will go a long way in doing that, even if it won't go very far in returning America to a course of righteousness, decency, individual responsibility, and hard work.  That, I fear, will never happen, not until the crisis comes.  And then, as Israel learned in Biblical times, it will be too late. 

Current Event Ramblings, November 1

The Texas Rangers are fixing to get wiped off the World Series map.  As I write this, they trail game 4 of the Series 4-0 in the 9th inning.  That would put them in a 3 games to 1 deficit.  It's not impossible they could still win, of course, but highly unlikely.  Disappointing if they do lose, but it was a much better season than they expected to have.  Maybe next year the Rangers and the Astros will both be in the World Series.  Yes, and maybe Barack Obama will cut taxes and admit he was wrong about the health care bill....

The elections are to be held tomorrow, and everyone is still predicting a big GOP swamp.  The reason is simple:  Obama and the Democrats have failed to turn the country around.  The GDP in the 3rd quarter came in at a meager 2%, which is the second straight quarter that has happened.  That is not economic growth, especially when inflation ran at 2.2%.  With the unemployment rate still hovering near 10%, the "summer of recovery" did not happen.  The massive stimulus plan did not pull the country out of the recession, which is no surprise to anyone who knows the first thing about economics.  Obama and the Democrat's big mistake is thinking that the government can run the economy.  It cannot do so, and if they would only take the merest glance at history, they would know that.  All the Marxist countries (that have survived, save Cuba) have turned to more free market economies, and are largely thriving.  And here's Obama and the Democrats heading in the opposite direction.  Stupidity, thy name is Democratic Party.  Business runs the economy, not government, and the tax, spend, and regulatory policies the Democrats have pursued have had eminently predictable results. 

Liberalism does not work.  It has never worked and it never will.  But it's the only religion those people have, so they cannot give it up without giving up the very purpose for their existence.

Current Event Ramblings, October 30

The weather here in Korea has turned downright cold this week with temperatures dropping below freezing (global warming is the cause, I'm sure).  It's warming up a bit now, and there's been no precipitation at all, so that's helped.  I ended up with a pretty scratchy throat yesterday and OD'd on some medication last night, so I'm pretty groggy this morning.  I'll go eat my fill of kimchi at lunch and try to sleep it off.

North Korean and South Korean troops took potshots at each other yesterday across the DMZ.  Apparently the Yankees are upset that the G20 economic summit is going to be held in Seoul in a few weeks, and the Confederates won't do military talks at the moment.  I'm sure you've heard that North Korea has a new leader, or will once the current one, Kim Jong-il, dies.  This new leader is Kim's youngest son, Kim Jong Un.  Elected freely, of course, by the Democratic People's Republic of Korea.

Speaking of elections, what I'm reading is that the Republicans will pick up 8 seats in the Senate.  That would still leave them as the minority party in that chamber.  There is great fear in the liberal press, however, that the GOP might win the House.  Time.com is reporting that a lot of Democrats, including Nancy Pelosi, will retire if the Democrats lose the House.  I'll believe that when I see it.  Another poll now indicates that George W. Bush is considered a better President than Barack Obama.  More and more people are waking up to just how radical, unqualified, and incompetent Obama is.  Too bad they let the media pull the wool over their eyes in 2008.

And speaking of losers, the Texas Rangers have lost the first two games of the World Series.  That makes Texas teams 0-6 in the World Series.  Well, it's not over yet.  The Series goes to Texas now, so hopefully the Rangers can do better there.

More Predictions

Since I'm so good at prognosticating--witness my recent predictions regarding who would be in this year's World Series--I'm going to make three more prognostications:

--The Republicans will not with a majority of seats in the House of Representatives next week;
--Nor will they win a majority in the Senate;
--Barack Obama will be re-elected President in 2012.

Let's hope I'm as accurate with those predictions as I was about the World Series.

The Rangers Are Going to the World Series

What did you say?  The RANGERS are going to the World Series???  More remarkable things than that have happened in human history, but off the top of my head, I can't think of one.  Well, maybe the Astros having been in the World Series in 2005....

My first thought is, "Yeah, they beat the Yankees."  Any time a team from the Confederacy--especially one from Texas--beats a team from the North--especially one named "Yankees"--I am more than pleased.  If only it had happened 150 years ago, too.

My second thought is Nolan Ryan.  He's nothing but a class act, and if anybody deserves this, he does.  Here's a quick question and a quick answer:  Has Ryan ever been on or associated with a team that went to the World Series?......................The answer is "yes," he was on the 1969 "Miracle" Mets who beat the Orioles.  But, to the best of my recollection, that's the only time.  Even Yankee fans have to be happy for him.

Can the Rangers win the Series?  Well, yes, of course they can, they have a 50-50 chance, since there will only be two teams playing and they are one of them.  But I do remember 2005, the first (and only) time the Astros were in the World Series.  They were actually favored to win by many pundits, but they choked big time and got swept by the White Sox.  This is the Rangers' first World Series, too, and the first for nearly all of their top players.  It will be stressful to say the least, especially if they play the Phillies, who've been to the Series the past two years.  Thus, it might be better if the Giants were the opponent since most of their "stars" haven't been in the World Series, either.

Regardless of whom they play, they've got a chance to bring the first World Series trophy to Texas.  I hope they do.  They aren't supposed to be there.  They were underdogs to Tampa Bay in the Divisional Series and they were huge underdogs to the Yankees in the LCS.  They play the game on the field, and that's where it will be decided.

Get 'em, Rangers.  Make people forget the Cowboys for awhile, who are having a totally forgettable season so far this year anyway.

Current Event Ramblings, October 21

There hasn't been just a whole lot going on recently that I've wanted to comment on, so I've been a little shy on this particular blog.  I do want to get back to the "Wisdom From the Founders" series soon with an examination of the first few sentences of the second paragraph of the Declaration of Independence.  Actually, I've been trying to finish up Cowboy Story 5 (River Bend) and do some Bible blogging, so that's taking up most of my writing time.  But I'll do what I can when I can get around to it.

I do want to comment on baseball for a moment, though.  My prediction was the Yankees and Phillies in the World Series, and at the moment, they are both trailing in their League Championship Series.  The Giants are ahead of the Phillies, 2 games to 1, and the Yankees trail the Rangers by the same amount, but as I write this, the Rangers lead game 4, 7-3, in the 8th inning.  I would be very satisfied to be in error regarding my prediction about the Yankees in the World Series.  I like the Rangers anyway because they are from Texas, but my favorite team is whoever is playing the Yankees on any given day.  Unless it's the Red Sox, and then I hope they both lose.  The Rangers aren't in the World Series yet, but they are putting themselves in a good position...AND they have been playing very good baseball lately.  They've easily outplayed the Yankees in this series, and should have won game 1.  The Rangers' bullpen scares me, though, so it's not over yet.  I'll keep readers informed.

Addendum to 10/16 Ramblings Post

The Rangers ended up blowing that 5-run lead and losing to the Yankees today.  I can't say I'm terribly surprised.  Texas ended up using 5 (or 6?) pitchers in the Yankees' 5-run 8th inning--and none of the pitchers used was their best reliever, Neftali Perez.  Ron Washington may be following Wade Philips out of Dallas soon if he pulls more boners like that one.

Current Event Ramblings, October 16

As I write this (Saturday morning, 11:00), the Texas Rangers are leading the New York Yankees, 5-0, in the fifth inning of the first game of the American League Championship Series.  I don't expect the Rangers to win that series, though I hope they do.  The Yankees aren't invincible, however, so maybe the Rangers can pull it off.  My prediction is still for the Phillies to win it all.

Speaking of sports, what's the matter with the Dallas Cowboys?  They are 1-3 at the moment.  They've got a better team than that, but they better start showing it or the season will be over for them very soon.  The rest of the division isn't going to sit around and wait for the Cowboys to start playing good football.

I read yesterday that a study was done (I forget by whom, but the source seemed pretty credible to me) that indicated that teenagers between the ages of 13-17 send or receive an average of 3,339 text messages PER MONTH.  If that statistic is true, it provides one of the reasons that our youth are getting dumber and dumber.

By all accounts, including liberal ones, Sharron Angle destroyed Harry Reid in their debate the other night.  I hope that translates in a win for Angle in the Nevada Senate race next month.  Harry Reid is a major reason why the United States is in the toilet right now; getting him out of the Senate won't cure all problems, of course, but it will certainly remove one hemorrhoid from the nation's backside.  Nancy Pelosi and Barney Frank are two more, but they aren't going to lose.  Christine McDonnell, in the Delaware debate, apparently didn't fare so well.  Rush Limbaugh was doing damage control on his show about her after the debate so that tells me she's in trouble.  Delaware might be a little to far east and north to elect a strong conservative.

Well, it's almost time for lunch.  I'm beginning to get used to some of this Korean food; at least my taste buds are.  My guts are still rebelling.  But it's pretty healthy food, lots of greens and they cover them up in spices.  They tell me there are over 100 different ways to prepare kimchi, the staple of the Korean diet, and I think I finally found one that I like.  I've also found cherry Coke, Nestle's Crunch, and Famous Amos cookies so I'm not totally deprived.  The only Western chips I can find are Pringles and they aren't my favorite.  The Korean chips are horrible.  Well, can't have everything.  A big plate of Mexican food would be nice, and there are some Mexican food restaurants in Seoul.  But they had one in England, too, when I lived there many moons ago, and there was no resemblance to the Tex-Mex my palate approves of, so I imagine the Korean version isn't much better.  Especially when New Zealand teachers praise it.

Polls and Gridlock

The most recent Reuters poll, which ran in an article today, predicts that the Republicans will win the House of Representatives next month, but the Democrats will retain control of the Senate.  Obama's approval rating is at 43%, the worst of his presidency.

Poll numbers depend upon which poll you check, of course, and I'm not given to putting a lot of stock in them.  What I'd like to note in this blog is the following quote from the Reuters article:

"A split Congress could mean political gridlock in 2011 as the United States struggles to overcome high unemployment, the gaping budget deficit and a fierce debate over tax cuts. Much will depend on whether Obama and Republicans can work together."

The implication of that statement is that "gridlock" is a bad thing.  The liberal press (and Reuters fits that category) automatically assumes that it is the government's responsibility "to overcome high unemployment."  I will certainly grant than only the government can cut its own spending to reduce debt and lower taxes so that people can keep the money they've earned.    Those are matters, the main matters, almost the only matters that Congress should attend to next year.  Washington needs to get its own house in order before it starts telling Americans how to run theirs.

I do not accept the implication that "gridlock" is a bad thing, indeed, I would argue that about 99% of the time, "gridlock" is a good thing, for the less the federal government does, the more freedom Americans have to conduct their own affairs.  But that is the difference between the liberal and the conservative (or, in my case, libertarian) mind.  Dependence versus individual responsibility, government versus the people, power versus liberty.  It oughtn't be that way with government and the people it should serve, but it is, it always has been, and it always will be, history being our testimony to that fact.

Two Wolves--An Old Cherokee Tale

One evening an old Cherokee told his grandson about a battle that goes on inside people.

He said, "My son, the battle is between two wolves inside us all.  One is Evil.  It is anger, envy, jealousy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, and ego.  The other is God.  It is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion and faith."

The grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked his grandfather, "Which wolf wins?"

The old Cherokee simply replied, "The one you feed."

Current Events Ramblings, 10/8

In case you missed it, the September unemployment rate jumped up to 10.1%.  Something maybe the major media...inadvertently...overlooked.  Uh huh.

Some conservative commentators are predicting that the Republicans will take over the House of Representative and the Senate in next month's elections.  Dick Morris is saying the GOP will pick up 100 seats in the House.  Since I'm not in America, it's hard for me to gague the mood of the country, except through what I read.  And it's hard to find unbiased reporting.  I read Rush and get the conservative slant, and then if I browse AP or MSNBC, I'll get the other side.  I don't spend a whole lot of time doing either, frankly, so I don't feel terribly qualified to make a prediction.  I think it's fairly obvious that the Republicans are going to pick up a lot of seats in both houses, but whether they can win either chamber...I don't know.  They've got a long way to go do that.  It will be interesting, that's for sure.

As I write this, the Texas Rangers now lead the Tampa Bays Rays 2-0 in their playoff series.  I suspect the Rangers will win that series simply because TB has not been playing well for the past two weeks.  But then the Rangers will run into the Yankees and that will probably spell doom.  The Yankees and the Phillies will be in the World Series, and it's a toss-up who will win that.  But my guess is the Phillies; they have better pitching and that usually tells the tale in a shorter series.  There is a major league baseball league here in Korea, too, but I can't tell you anything about it, not that you'd want to know anyway.

Current Event Ramblings, October 6

They were even talking about this one here in the village today.  Last week, a fire department in Tennessee let a man's house burn down because he hadn't paid the $75 fee he owed.  The man, Gene Cranick, lives in a rural area, close to the town of South Fulton.  The town offers fire coverage to rural residents, but only for a fee.  Cranick said he "forgot" to pay the fee, and he called 911 when his house caught on fire.  He volunteered to pay the fee, but that wasn't good enough.  Some fire department personnel actually came out to the site and sprayed water on a neighbor's property to keep it from catching on fire.  But they let the Cranick house burn down, all because he had forgotten to pay the rural $75 fee.

I guess Solomon was right:  "money answereth all things."

California finally got something right, but they had to undo an idiotic wrong for it to happen.  The state will no longer issue welfare debit cards at casinos around the country or on cruise ships.  Sorry, you welfare bums, you can no longer draw from the taxpayer's till to go to Vegas or cruising around the world.  What a crying shame.

Firefighters who won't put out a burning house?  Welfare debit cards for casinos and cruise ships?  I keep thinking I'm not going to be shocked or amazed any more by what I hear, but human beings continue to invent creative stupidity at a light-speed pace.  And I don't suppose it will ever cease.  Some of it is still mind-boggling, though.

Wisdom From America's Founders-IV

"Democracy is two wolves and a lamb voting on what to have for lunch."--Benjamin Franklin

The curse of democracy is just this, that the wicked can outvote the righteous and implement what ever godless plan they can concoct.  Thomas Jefferson, the founder of the University of Virginia, was a great believer in education (which is why he founded the college).  He believed strongly that a self-governing, democratic society could only exist with an education populace.  It was a noble dream, but one that hasn't panned out as he wished.  If we accept democracy, and among three people, two decide to take the property of the one, there is no recourse for the one except war--which would be antithetical to democracy.  It is in the government's interest, of course, that the people remain ignorant of its true purposes, or better yet, convince the masses that they are "entitled" to the property of others.  And, democratically, if that happens, there is nothing the minority can do but yield up its wealth.  But to the Founders, this wasn't "democracy," it was the "tyranny of the majority."  And it certainly wasn't freedom, for if the majority forces me to give my money in support of causes I would not willingly support, that is not the definition of freedom.

This concern about the wiles of government is ages old.  Frederick Bastiat, the great French economist of the 19th century, wrote, "government is the great fiction through which everybody endeavors to live at the expense of everybody else."  George Bernard Shaw noted that "a government which robs Peter to pay Paul can always depend on the support of Paul."  The French philosopher Voltaire commented that, "in general, the art of government consists of taking as much money as possible from one party of the citizens to give to the other."  This is a perfect description, of course, of the current American government.  These men would argue that such is the result of democracy and that is why they opposed it.

Our Founders were equally skeptical of democracy as a form of government.  John Adams:  "Democracy, simply democracy, never had a patron among men of letter."  Adams again:  "We may appeal to every page of history...for proofs irrefragable [irrefutable] that the people, when they have been unchecked, have been as unjust, tyrannical, brutal, barbarous, and cruel as any king or senate possessed by an uncontrollable power.  The majority has eternally and without any one exception usurped over the rights of the minority."  And our second President again:  "The proposition that the people are the best keepers of their own liberties is not true.  They are the worst conceivable, they are no keepers at all:  they can neither judge, act, think, or will, as a political body."  And then this absolutely brilliant observation:  "Individuals have conquered themselves; nations and large bodies, never."  And one last quote from Adams:  "Remember, democracy never lasts long.  It soon wastes, exhausts, and murders itself.  There was never a democracy yet that did not commit suicide."
And how would democracy "commit suicide"?  Benjamin Franklin answers that question:  "When the people discover they can vote themselves money from the treasury [i.e., democracy], that will herald the doom of the Republic."  James Madison, the "Father" of our Constitution, said, "Democracies have ever been spectacles of turbulence and contention; have ever been found incompatible with personal security or the rights of property; and have in general been as short in their lives as they have been violent in their deaths."  He concluded that laws must be "capable of protecting the rights of property against the spirit of democracy."  People will eventually get tired of being skinned for the sake of those who refuse to labor for themselves.  "The democracy will cease to exist when you take away from those who are willing to work and give to those who would not," Jefferson said.  Such a system of government soon collapses over loose fiscal policy, for there is only so much wealth to be extracted from the owners of property, and too much of mankind is of a mind to fleece others if it means they can be lazy and not have to support themselves.  As that number grows, they (democratically) vote "for the candidate promising the most benefits from the public treasury" (Alexander Tyler, historian, 200 years ago).  America has followed this path classically over the past 100 years.  And if the country continues on this course, the predictions of doom, made by every intelligent political theorist in history, are sure to come to pass.

So, if our Founders did not establish a democracy, what did they establish?  Well, they called it a "republic," but it's a little more complicated than that, and at some point in this series, when I feel up to it, I will explain the complications.

An Interesting Quote

"No man is good enough to govern another man without that other's consent."--Abraham Lincoln

It seems to me that Mr. Lincoln went to war and killed 600,000 Americans to prevent the very thing he said in that quote.

Current Event Ramblings, September 24

I've started a "Bible Blog Ramblings" section on my main Bible blog.  By going to that blog you can see where all I've posted every day (for the previous five days).  It would be a good idea to hit that blog first for that info rather than searching every blog to see if I've posted on it.

James sent me some interesting information regarding who has prospered during the current recession.  Since January, 2008, employment in the federal government is up 10%.  In local governments, it's down 0.9%, in state governments, down 0.1%, and in the private sector, employment had dropped 6.8%.  In total figures, that's a plus 198,100 for the feds (this does not include the temporary census workers), and a minus 6,000 for states governments, -128,000 for locals, and minus 7,837,000 for the private sector.  Most of that, not surprisingly, has come since January, 2009.  These figures are from the U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics.

The Koreans have quit chewing on their socks, so I'll get back to work next week.  Maybe that will help with this "dark cloud" depression that has swept o'er me the past 10 days or so.  I guess I'm going to fight this stuff the rest of my life, but there are people a whole lot worse off than I am.  I do wish that thought made me feel better...

Wisdom From America's Founders-III

"A government big enough to give you everything you want is strong enough to take everything you have."--Thomas Jefferson

The founders of this country were not necessarily rebelling against a "big" government; they were rebelling against one that they believed had exceeded its constitutional authority.  Even though England did not have a written constitution, as we do (and as most of the colonies did), there were certain traditions that had been in place for generations which the Americans believed were inviolable, and thus part of the “constitution” to which Parliament must adhere.  One of those inviolable traditions (or, "self-evident truths") was “no taxation without representation.”  When Parliament desecrated that, the colonists revolted.  And, the cliché, “the rest is history.”

Again, it wasn’t that the British government was so huge; indeed, given the distance between England and America and the slowness of communication at the time, King and Parliament were hardly intrusive at all, certainly as compared with governments today.  The problem was not size, it was what the English government could become if it were allowed to extend its authority beyond its constitutionally recognized limits (recognized by the Americans, but not by the British).  If a government is allowed to take one step beyond its constitutional restraints, then, logically, it can take two…and three…and four…where does it stop?  X plus 1 implies x plus 2 implies x plus 3, ad infinitum.  This is what concerned our founders and why they insisted, when they formed their own government, on having a written charter (constitution) clearly delineating exactly what the American government could, and could not, do.  That way, if there were any dispute on any matter, one could simply go to the constitutional text and see what it says.  Our Constitution is not hard to understand; succeeding generations of politicians, loving power, have corrupted it, or simply ignored it.  We had a “civil war” over that issue—and the wrong side lost, at least from the constitutional standpoint.

So, as Jefferson said, if government gets so big as to provide all the wants and wishes of the populace—“entitlements”—then there is the fear it can take anything and everything it wants.  As discussed in an earlier post in this series, the American government has been slowly doing that very thing over the last 100 years.  With no constitutional restraints that it does not impose upon itself, there has been no hampering what it has done, and continues to do.  We have allowed the national government to define its own powers—the worst nightmare of Thomas Jefferson AND the southerners.  And if Washington defines its own powers, those powers can, ultimately, become unlimited.  What “rights” we now possess as Americans are possessed only by the grace and favor of the federal government.  And what Washington gives, Washington can take away.  Only politicians will never take away anything that will buy themselves votes.

I fear especially for religious freedom.  One has only to look at the history of the last two centuries when tyrannical, absolutist governments (the French during their revolution, the Soviet Union and other communist dictatorships) totally denied freedom of worship and persecuted those who tried.  Our government, of course, has been making inroads in this direction.  We think it could never happen in America.  But, “a government big enough to give you everything you want is strong enough to take everything you have.”  And that doesn’t mean only material gains.  There was a reason why the French, Soviets, i.e., totalitarian governments persecute(d) religion (and try to destroy the family)—one is to have no higher allegiance than to that government.  Total, complete obedience is demanded (indoctrinated through propaganda and education), and obviously religions teach total, complete obedience to a higher authority (and families might train their children in ways the government does not wish.  Government controlled education is part of the undermining of the family.  It can’t happen in America?)  Thus, a totalitarian regime must destroy religion.  It is within its very nature.

No, we have not reached that point in America yet—and hopefully we never will.  But the federal government today, as noted, has no restraints except those self-imposed.  Voting hasn’t cured that, indeed, democracy is the cause.  And if our government gets so big…as to give us everything we want--from health care to education to retirement…then it will be strong enough…to take everything we’ve got.

Current Events Ramblings, September 19

Today is the final day before the Korean "Chuseok" holiday period begins.  Most teachers here are going to split the scene and go traveling somewhere, so the village will be pretty empty next week.  That's not going to bother me any.  Hopefully, I can get more writing done; hopefully, I'll feel like it.

The U.S. Census Bureau just released a report which announced that 14.3% of Americans are now living in poverty.  Two thoughts.  One, the CB is an arm of the American government, which has a vested interest in people being in poverty so that they will turn to government for help and solutions.  Since the government is the entity that defines what the "poverty line" is--and thus who is above and below--this 14.3% figure doesn't mean a whole lot, except for political demogogues.  And my second thought on this is, the Democrats have been in control of Congress since 2006 and the presidency since the first of last year.  Why haven't things gotten better?  Methinks the media will not make a big deal of this 14.3% figure.

The Republican "establishment" and the "mainstream" media are having fits over conservative, "tea party" candidates winning so many primary elections.  RINOs (Republicans In Name Only, as Rush calls them) believe the party must reach out to "moderates" or there is little chance of winning elections (in other words, do what John McCain did in 2008...).  The media is loving this "split" in the Republican party, as they believe it forbodes ill in the upcoming elections.  They hate Republicans, period, whether "tea party" or "RINOs."

What chance do conservative candidates have this November?  That depends.  Many of them will no doubt win, just because the country is in such sad shape and Barak Obama and the Democrats have made things worse, not better.  Only a blind man can't see that (but there are plenty of those in America).  But does the "tea party" truly represent enough Americans to win big?  Are the RINOs correct that Republicans must reach out to "moderates" and "independents"?  Well, McCain is a good argument for "no," that didn't work.  George Bush might be considered another one.  While claiming to be conservative, he governed more like a moderate and didn't please anybody.  So Republican "moderation" hasn't worked.  As noted above, the "mainstream" media hates all Republcans (except a few, like Arlen Specter, who are nothing but Democrats wearing a Republican label), so the efforts of the media are going to be thrown behind Democrats, regardless of the political leanings of the Republican running.  Reaching out to "moderates" is a delicate thing.  A "moderate" is someone who hasn't got guts enough to stand for anything, anyway, and thus can be blown in whatever direction he fancies at the moment.  Those kind of people are worse than useless to any country and are a main reason why the government bounces between control by Republicans for awhile and then control by Democrats.  There IS a distinction between the Republican, conservative base and the Democratic liberal one.  The media knows it, but most people don't, which is why the latter can be swayed so easily.

But back to my initial question--what are the chances of "tea party" candidates?  We must keep in mind that this is not the 1770s where the vast majority of the people living in America were very supportive of less government and more freedom.  That isn't the case today.  There is a huge number of people who no longer want freedom; they are dependent upon government, they want to stay that way, and thus they are going to vote against any candidate who talks about less government and more individual responsibility.  Is that portion of the American people now of a greater number than those who believe in freedom and individual responsibility?  I don't know, but it's close.  Or maybe it isn't.  The "dependents" may outnumber those who desire freedom; the fact that huge numbers of Democrats are elected every election is indicative of that.  Of course, there are many people who vote for everything immoral and base, but that means a denial of individual responsibility, too, so I include them in the "dependent" class.  They are "dependent" upon the Democrats striking down any law that requires people to be decent and virtuous which is on a par with those who want to live off somebody else's hard work and money (that's called theft, regardless of whether Congress votes for it or not).  Immorality is immorality whether it is homosexuality or legalized theft.

Bottom line is, the Republicans will make huge gains in November.  Whether they will win enough seats to take over either house of Congress is problematic; my guess is no, but it might be close.  Some "tea party" candidates will win, and some will lose, and every "loser" will be spun by the media as a rejection of conservatism and a need for Republicans to reach out to "moderates," which, again, is a sure recipe for political disaster, as Bush and the electon of 2008 proved.  But that's what the media wants, so anything they say is of no real instruction; they are just Democrats pushing the party line.  The question rests not on what the liberal media says; that's a given.  The question is the one I raised in the paragraph above--are there now more "dependents" than "independents" in this country?  Are there now more people who will vote for immorality--regardless of its form--than virtue?  November won't answer that question, for sure.  But it might give us more information to work with in coming to an answer.

Current Events Ramblings, September 14

Next week is a major Korean holiday called "Chuseok" (pronounced "chew-sock;" it sounds like something a dog would do).  It's sort of a Thanksgiving holiday, but there are no classes at all, so I'll have the week off.  Hopefully, I can get some writing done, though I'm not going to wear myself out doing that.  Actually, I'm not terribly busy this week, either, teaching only about 7 or 8 classes, but I still have to be "at work."  We have what we call "devo time" where we either study our lesson plans for the day or write new ones.  I've studied all the classes I teach several times--and taught them--so that's a bit of a waste, and I'm developing a "Lessons of History" class which I hope to teach starting next month.  I'd like to prepare a Bible lesson, but I think that's taboo.  Most of the teachers, during "devo time" surf the net or play on Facebook or just sit and chat about the trips they are going to take on vacation, like the two next to me at the moment, so it's a bit of a joke.  It's a nice break from teaching 6 hours a day.  I'm certainly looking forward to next week, but I'm not sure any of the shops/restaurants in the village will be open, so I might starve to death.  I'm almost positive the cafeteria won't be open.  Regardless, it will be a relaxing week

I recently sent out a community-wide email--it goes out to all the teachers--asking if anyone would be interested in a Bible study.  I've had a few responses so far, so hopefully we can get everybody's schedule together and start after Chuseok.  I've been meaning to do this for awhile, but I've just been so tired I haven't felt like it.  That's no excuse so I'm going to try to get it started.  Hopefully, there will be a lot of interest.

The Jefferson quote on today's "Quote of the Day" is one of my favorites and I intend to write a "Wisdom From the Founders" article about it soon.  I also want to do some analyzation of the Declaration of Independence, so all of that's on the drawing board.  Plus, a lot of Bible blogs.  I sleep, eat, work, read, and play, too--as well as feel lousy with this depression--so I stay busy.  I appreciate everybody who continues to support my blogs.  I still get hits from strange places--there's somebody in Moscow who reads some of my blogs with regularity--so hopefully I'm doing some good.

I know that people chuckle (make fun?) of athletes when they are interviewing saying "you know...you know...you know" every other second, but listen to anybody under 30 speak today.  What I hear is "like...like...like...like..."  It's virtually universal, and it's aggravating.  Do we teach our kids today how to speak a simple coherent sentence?  I know we don't, and it's sad.  How anyone can defend the American education system today is totally beyond me. 

So many problems, so few solutions.  At least solutions that the politicians and people are willing to accept.

Current Events Ramblings, 9/11

As I write this, it's only 9/10 where most of my readers live, but it will be 9/11 by the time they read it.  September 11, 2001 is a date that will long be remembered in American history, but I do wonder how many more years will pass before it is largely forgotten.  How many Americans have no idea what December 7, 1941 means?  Incredible as it may sound, I had students in my history classes who didn't know what July 4, 1776 was all about (they did when I finished with them).  When one learns how ignorant our people are of our own history, it's not terribly surprising that they can be so easily demogogued by liar, tyrants, and other politicians--if there are other politicians than lying tyrants.

Perhaps the biggest "9/11" story concerns the "pastor" in Florida who planned to burn the Quran in protest of the Trade Center bombings.  As I write this, he's still deciding whether he's going to do it or not, although his son has said  it's not going to happen.  The man, of course, has the right to burn the book if he wants to, but often times a legal "right" to do something is not the wisest course of action.  And I believe such is the case here.  I have been at pains in this blog to argue that there are two major "factions" within the Muslim world--a "radical Islamic" faction, headed by people such as Osama bin Laden, who are at war with the west (hence 9/11) and, as they see it, are trying to protect their civilization and way of life from western decadence.  And, frankly, I don't blame them.  I'm trying to keep western decadence out of my life, too.

But that "faction" of the Muslim world is a small one; I don't know the percentage, but probably way under 25%.  It matters very little what the West does, as long as we continue on our course of moral debauchery, that wing of the Muslim religion is going to fight--literally.  But I do believe that the majority of Muslim people are more reasonable and tolerant.  They do not wish to be infiltrated with Western/American immorality, but matters such as democracy are appealing to them.  The problem is, the Muslim world has never had democracy and it's going to take them a while to be able to be successful at it--if they ever are.  However, these Muslims do not want Western moral values rammed down their throat, either, and if we continue to try to do so, we will probably make more radicals.  And if Terry Jones goes ahead with his Quran-burning, he is simply going to antagonize more of this element of the Islamic world and create greater animosity among them.  We don't need that.

Burning the Quran will accomplish nothing--except anger Muslim people.  It's wholly a symbolic act with no substance to it.  And, usually, such acts are worthless, or produce more harm than good.  There are too many people in America who think that every Muslim is a radical who is out to kill anybody they cannot convert to Islam.  That's just not the case.  Islam is certainly an evangelistic religion, but then so is Christianity.  But as long as this myth continues of a 100% radical Islam, then people like Terry Jones will feed off of it.  And we will create more enemies in the Middle East.

I would like to see the conversion to Christianity of every Muslim in the world.  But it's not going to happen; we must deal in reality here.  And since it's not going to happen, we do need to make some effort to get along with those people, while obviously defending what we believe to be the correct course of life.  We can teach, and we should.  We can defend, and we should.  But one thing we should not do is try to cram our way of life down the throats of people who do not want it, or antagonize them with useless acts of symbolism--like burning something they hold to be sacred and dear.  We Christians wouldn't like it if Muslims burned the Bible.  We should do unto others as we would have them do unto us.  That's what makes Christianity superior to every other religion in the world.

Wisdom From America's Founders-II

"When we get piled upon one another in large cities, as in Europe, we shall become as corrupt as Europe."--Thomas Jefferson

This one's easy.  A few words come to mind:

New York
San Francisco

Name your own.

Oh, I almost forgot:

Washington, D.C.  But that one goes without saying.

Jefferson believed that America would be much better off if it remained an agricultural country; that and small businesses.  That way people would be taking care of themselves, not sponging off others, and would be so busy they wouldn't be getting into trouble--or need much government.  Big cities inevitably and invariably do not have enough employment for the masses.  So, idle with time on their hands, the basic human traits of selfishness, laziness, and self-absorption lead to vice, crime, and the worst forms of iniquity.  Jefferson had been there; he knew whereof he spoke.

Where is the greatness of America today (that which is left)?  It certainly isn't in the big cities with their incredible crime, corruption, decadence, and debauchery.  The true greatness of this country lies in its heartland, in small cities and the countryside where people still know each other, aid one another, and share a common bond.  By and large, that's being lost, and with it the true strength of the United States.

The Best Country in the World to Live In

Newsweek magazine, that bastion of intellectual superiority, recently proclaimed Finland as the best country in the world in which to live, followed by Sweden and Switzerland.  I won't bore the readers with Newsweek's arguments in reaching such a conclusion, I would only say that, determining "the best" country to live in depends entirely upon the criterion used in making that determination, and Newsweek, a magazine enamoured of European-style socialism, could be expected to name such countries as their choices of places to live.  They are welcome to it.

And, indeed, if one is more concerned with security than liberty, if one is willing to sacrifice the fruits of one's labors in order to let someone else take care of him, if one doesn't mind the incredibly waste and fraud of his tax dollars (and such is rampant in Scandinavia and other European countries)--in short, if one wants only limited freedom and massive submission to a bureaucratic morass--then yes, I suppose Finland and Sweden would be good places to live.

Those who want to be burped like a baby from cradle to grave should, indeed, move to Europe.  Those who want the opportunity to become the best they can possibly be, to pursue their dreams without government making every effort to interfere with them, to reach for the stars and strive for limitless accomplishments, should find a free country to live it.  The problem is, I don't know where one is any more.

Wisdom From America's Founders-I

"I believe there are more instances of the abridgment of the freedom of the people by gradual and silent encroachments of those in power than by violent and suddent usurpations."--James Madison

I’m sure I don’t agree with everything the Founding Fathers of America said about government tyranny and power, but I am still looking for something I don’t agree with.  I'm going to start a series here entitled "Wisdom From America's Founders" in which I will give interesting quotes from the men who established this country and then briefly comment upon them.  There are many who would argue that such is a futile exercise because these men lived over 200 years ago, in a day of agriculture, slavery, minimal technology, etc., and that since things have changed so much, their world outlook and their views on government are far outdated and no longer relevant or useful.  I beg to differ and very soon I will demonstrate why.

But, to give a preview of that last thought, one reason why their ideas are still so useful is because they knew history, wrote and spoke of it, and understood that some truths and principles are timeless and will always be applicable, regardless of antiquity or modernity.  This last point is the great failure of modern liberalism, which holds nothing sacred or wise except their own fleeting, passing whims and desires.  Madison's quote above is exactly what has happened countless times in history.  Not that violent "usurpations" (revolutions) never occur; of course they do, and Madison would have been quick to admit it.  But still, most governmental tyranny begins slowly and creeps--like a cancer.  And you don't even know it's there until you wake up and it's too late, or almost so.  This is exactly what has happened in the United States of America.

It began, as I have been at pains to point out in this blog, with the American "Civil War," in which the federal government, by force of arms, wrested the sovereignty of the people away from their state governemnts, over which they had much more control, and placed it in the hands of the national government, over which the people have substantially limited power and regulatory ability.  The generation following the war (approximately 1865-1900) actually saw a phase of limited government along the lines of what the Founders had in mind, but only because the Presidents, especially, were not of a mind to use their new-found powers to infringe upon the liberties of the people.  Some of our best presidents are some of our most unknown--Rutherford B. Hayes, Chester Arthur, Benjamin Harrison, William McKinley, and especially Grover Cleveland--men who worked to restrict the long-reaching arm of the federal government in order that the people might use their liberties to pursue their own happiness and enjoy the fruits of their labors.  In that generation after the War for Southern Independence, the United States became the richest nation in history.

There were problems, there always are.  No society is perfect, and America needed some amendments--it always does.  And by 1900, the country had some issues to deal with, the exact nature of which it is not necessary to recount in this article.  Let me just say that Marxism, with its anti-property, pro-government philosophy, was now rampant in intellectual circles in America.  And thus the "Progessives" of the early 20th century, when they cried out for "reform," demanded it be done via national government interference.  Because of Abraham Lincoln and the victory of the federal government in the "Civil War," there was little that could be done to stop this movement.  For almost 20 years the "Progressives" (and that very term, used by themselves and historians ever since, is instructive; governmental intervention into the lives of the people, i.e., greater government is "progressive") had their way, but World War I and the unpopularity of Woodrow Wilson because of it, led to a period of "calm" in the 1920s, where two very good Presidents, Warren G. Harding and Calvin Coolidge, held back the "progressive" movement and allowed the country to follow its own course.  The "Roaring '20s," the greatest economic decade in human history, was the result.  The major error Harding and Coolidge made was not abolishing the Federal Reserve system, a "progressive" institution which enabled, in effect, national control of the economy (it's a little more complicated than that, but for the moment, that's sufficient).  It was the Fed that caused the Great Depression, not capitalism.  Also, Harding and Coolidge, because they were largely "hands off" presidents, didn't--or couldn't--role back the governmental growth of the "progressives."

Of course, the Great Depression led to the election of Herbert Hoover and Franklin Roosevelt, both of whom bought into the "progressive" philosophy and thus believed that it was the government's obligation to end the depression and restore prosperity, and both of whom failed miserably in the attempt (Hoover was actually elected before the Depression began, but he was a "progressive" at heart.  Coolidge, in whose Cabinet Hoover sat, once said of him, "That man has offered me unsolicited advice for six years--all of it bad").  It was FDR, of course, who oversaw the next big--creeping--growth of government with his New Deal, putting in place many unconstitutional programs such as Social Security and Medicare.  World War II helped end the New Deal, and to attempt to shorten the story some, the 1950s were much like the 1920s--a President who limited the activities of the federal government.  But the New Deal was not rolled back.  Slow, progressive usurpation.  The 1950s were probably the last great decade in American history, and almost assuredly will be.

The 1960s gave us Lyndon Johnson and his "war on poverty," which he called the "Great Society," and which has done nothing to cure poverty; it has only created a permanent welfare class who do not know how to work and have been told they are "entitled" to the wealth of others.  In order to be able to truly sell that disgusting doctrine, the 1960s also destroyed the Judeo-Christian moral foundations of the country; now "morality" is whatever "intellectuals" tell us it is, and "profit" is immoral and "spreading the wealth," via governmental force is moral.  The point here is that the Great Society's programs were legion, installing more national government in the lives of the people.  Ronald Reagan, for all his glorious abilities, was not able to stem that tide.  And no President since has even tried, though none was as bold as Barak Obama in the obvious attempt to expand government's dominion of the lives of the American people.

It began with the "Civil War," folks, and picked up in earnest about 100 years ago with the "Progressive" movement.  There has been no "violent or sudden usurpations" in American history.  But this country, today, is almost the exact opposite what our Founders intended for it to be.  "Gradual and silent encroachments" was Mr. Madison's term.  And it exactly describes the historical trend in this country.

The question beomes, is the cancer in America so far gone today that the patient is terminal?

Today's Lunch Menu

--Rice, of course, always rice, even for breakfast;
--Two kinds of kimchi, always kimchi, even for breakfast.  It's the Korean "staple" food.  It's cabbage, and they usually fix it with a spicy sauce that is so hot it would melt all of Antarctica if they dropped a pound of it on the continent.  Today they had a non-spicy kimchi (as well as the spicy).  I don't eat kimchi because I can't stand cabbage.  But they have dozens of ways to fix the stuff, all of them designed to kill the taste buds, I'm sure.  Or kill Westerners;
--"Young cabbage vegetable dish," as if one kind of cabbage wasn't enough, and I guess they couldn't find any old cabbage.  Or maybe that's what kimchi is made out of;
--"Fusilli salad," which is a twisted pasta noodle with crab meat;
--"Stir fried seaweed," which wasn't bad actually, as long as you eat it with rice to dilute the flavor;
--"Welsh onion pancakes," which, if this is the stuff they ate in the U.K., then I understand why they lost their empire;
--"Fried pork coated with millet jelly and spicy sauce."  How many of you knew you could make jelly out of millet?  For that matter, how many of you even know what millet is?
--"Soybean sprouts soup," which was pretty good.
--And they do always have a salad bar with lettuce mixed with some bitter green and white stuff, and fruit (usually canned, but sometimes fresh) and some slimy black stuff for desert that looks like something is swimming around in it.  Top it all off with "Fermented Plum Juice" (they don't know what "fermented" is, and I don't know what they mean by "fermented," so I always drink water), and you have the complete Korean meal.

Before I moved to Korea about two months ago, I bought some pants without trying them on because I thought I knew my size.  I couldn't even button them around the waist, they were so small.  Today, I wear those same pants and have to tighten my belt to keep them from falling off.  Well, at least I'm eating fairly healthy when I can get some of that Korean stuff down my gullet.