In Defense of Harry Potter

By GotDesign
I knew that, at some point, I would have to make a more thorough response to some of the criticisms of the Harry Potter book series. So, I will try to acquit myself well. Let me know what you think.

First, I will tackle the issue of magic and Christianity's prohibition of association therewith. In the first century, greco-roman magic consisted mainly of three-part spells. The vast majority of these spells were used for influencing one's love or sexual life life, bettering one's business/investment ventures, or generally protecting and promoting one's personal interests. "Magic" was most often used, in the Greco-Roman world, to cast love spells. These were usually spells to bring some particular love interest under your power. Often times, they were used in conjunction with a curse against any competitors. For instance, "Bob Roman" loves Betty the Greek. But Betty is married to John the Greek. So Bob would recite a spell to induce Betty to love him and recite another spell to invoke harm upon John. Similar spells could be devised to help Bob in his business or investing ventures.

Greco-Roman magical spells were three-part. The first part was an invocation of some god, goddess, or spiritual being (often called a "daemon" or "demon"). The supernatural being invoked would be the entity that would bring the power to the equation. The second part would be the request for action. "Make Betty love me and no other and be compelled to come to me and stay with me." This would be followed once again with a final plea to the invoked power to grant the request and empower the spell. Without a doubt, the problem for Christians here is not the supernatural aspects of magic. God has acted throughout history in ways that the uninformed would call magic. The true problem with Greco-Roman magic is in the invocation of gods, goddesses, and/or demons. This sets up a position that there is some power other than that of God (of the Bible). While there are no other gods apart from the God of the Bible, there are spirits and demons (fallen angels). The admonition against the practice of magic is that humans practicing magic are dabbling in the spiritual (or demonic) realm, of which humans know almost nothing. God is trying to protect us from our ignorance in this area.

The magic of Harry Potter is of a type seen in fairy tales. Harry utters some spell -- consisting of some words in Latin (or, in many cases, very bad Latin) or a similar language -- and POOF! something happens. There is no invocation of "higher powers" or spirits or demons. I liken it to Cinderella and similar fairy tales. The magical personage -- Harry -- casts a spell and, by some unexplained magical force, it happens. So in thearea of magic, Harry Potter is merely a modern fairy tale about the age-old struggole between good and evil.

As regards the morality of Harry Potter. I have not found a Christian-based morality within the Harry Potter series. Nor is it particularly deist. I would have to characterize it as a secular moral system. I do this simply because none of the characters claim their system of morals hails from God or a "higher power." But I find nothing that is troublesome from a Christian morals point of view. Harry, and some of the other characters, show a tendency towards wanting revenge for perceived wrongs. But this is not inconsistent with the typical behavior of children. In fact, Harry has shown a great deal of restraint in such cases and has even shown a great deal of grace in some instances (i.e., not taking vengeance against Peter Pettigrew in "Prisoner of Azkaban").

For Christians with children, I would allow their children to read the Harry Potter series. But, as with anything, the parent must be present in every aspect of a child's life. This means that the parents must talk to their children about what the children are reading, watching on TV or in movies, learning in school, how they are interacting with other children. The short of it is that parents are responsible before God for their children until they are old enough to make a decision on their own to believe in God and follow Jesus as Lord. Parents must prepare children both for service to the Lord and to live in a fallen world.

Once again, I think, in the end, that the Harry Potter series is a modern fairy tale. I think it merely offers the tales of Harry and his friends in the age old fight of good against evil. As always, your comments are welcome.

UPDATE:
I just received an e-mail from Mark D. Roberts. He gives a general head-nod and referred me to an article he wrote ("Hoodwinked by Harry") for the Fuller Theological Seminary's publication Theology, News and Notes. Check it out. As soon as I have read this article, I will post more.
 

Harry Potter and the Spellbound Blogger

By GotDesign
My wife and I were out and about here in Lubbock, TX and dropped by the nearest Barnes & Noble bookstore. While browsing the shelves I found a poster advertising the latest in the Harry Potter series -- Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. Book 6 in the wildly popular book series goes on sale on July 16th, 2005.

This is where I confirm my place among the pajama-wearing crowd. Ever since I picked up Book 1 (Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone) I have been hooked. For those of you who are coming in late, yes, I am 36 years old. But that doesn't make these books any less captivating. Once I started reading, I was hooked. I couldn't stop reading. And now I'm eagerly awaiting the tale of Harry's sixth year at Hogwart's School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. I am complete Potter-ophile. I can name characters, describe situations, recount spells -- I'm a nut. But, in my defense, these books are extremely well written. Each of the books shows Harry's development as a character and reinforces character traits (such as honor, courage, conviction, and freedom and responsibility) that Harry displays throughout each book. Test me. Send me your questions. Especially Christians who have problems with Harry's use of magic. That subject alone is worthy of a quite lengthy blog post.

Now, I must say that asking people to pre-order any book 7 months in advance is a little crazy. It's not like they will not have enough copies on the shelves come mid-July. While I understand this practice helps the publisher to forecast demand and set the quantity of the initial printing, it still seems a little crazy. Regardless, I will be getting my copy of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince as near the release date as I can.
 

Merry Christmas to All

By GotDesign
My wonderful wife and I will be traveling for Christmas. Every year my in-laws fly us down to Lubbock, TX to visit with them for Christmas. It is an enjoyable time where we can get away from home/work and spend time with family. I'm looking forward to it.

Because I will be out of town, I will not necessarily be able to make any blog posts. I will try to post if I have the opportunity and the cause to do so. But don't expect much until after I return.

Therefore, I want to take this opportunity to wish all of my readers a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year filled with God's blessings. I pray that God will keep you all safe and fill your lives with joy.
 

Happiness and Doing the Right Thing

By GotDesign
I know. This is my third post this morning. What can I say? I'm running off at the keyboard. I can't help it. I was checking out a blog I found -- The EthioPundit -- and his post entitled "Do the Right Thing."

EthioPundit starts his post with a Tolstoy quote
"Leo Tolstoy wrote at the beginning of Anna Karenina, “All happy families resemble each other. Each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.”
Not only does EP quote Tolstoy, but he actually does a great job of making work. The point of his article is that people should wake up and see that there are reasons that nations are prosperous. Among these reasons EthioPundit cites the following: 1. a rational world view, 2. the rule of law, 3. civil society, 4. limited government, and 5. trust and democracy. EP makes a great argument. The successes of the West can be emulated. In particular, EP urges the adoption of these critical success factors by his native Ethiopia.
Basically, the successes of the West and those who have emulated them worldwide are human successes that are no one's property. There is absolutely no reason that those victories over want and wrong can not be shared by Ethiopians.
And he's right. There is no reason why the United States, among others, shouldn't be exporting prosperity to those who need it most. I have long been an advocate of using the foreign policy of the U.S. to "promote the general welfare" in the world, as well as here at home in America. If I were President (a phrase my wife has heard more than once), I would establish an office within the State Department that would provide training and support to nations whose people wish to pursue democratization and the benefits of the Western ideals that EthioPundit has elucidated. There are some who would say that I am dreamy-eyed and not a true conservative. But I would contest that the goal of a conservative is to dream heroic dreams and use the best conservative ideals to achieve them.

Go check out EthioPundit. A well-reasoned thinker.
 

Saluting the Troops

By GotDesign
I recently found a tribute to our troops in Iraq called "Until Then." It is a fabulous tribute that was created by GCS Distributing -- a firm that believes in encouraging grassroots patriotism. I will add this note of caution -- be warned, "Until Then" is a large Macromedia Flash file and is best viewed with a broadband Internet connection (not dial-up). GCS Distribution also has several other tributes on their site -- check 'em out.

It's presentations like this one that makes me both proud to be an American and proud of the long tradition of military service in which I played my own small part.

(HT: Arthur Chrenkoff)
 

Orange Tsunami Approaching Kiev

By GotDesign
Ukraine's electoral "do-over" is scheduled for this Sunday, December 26th. Already, members of Leonid Kuchma's presidential administration are jumping ship in favor of opposition leader Viktor Yushchenko while others who have expressed limited support of Yushchenko have been fired. Several regional governors, whose regions voted overwhelmingly for Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovich in the second round of elections, are jumping ship. According to Ukrainian former president Leonid Kravchuk, even Yanukovich's chief parliamentary supporter and senior member of Kuchma's government, Viktor Medvedchuk, has resigned.

Another senior member of Leonid Kuchma's government, Volodymyr Satsiuk -- first deputy chariman of the Ukrainian Secret Service (SSU), was recently fired. This dismissal, however, could be a means for Kuchma to distance himself from Viktor Yushchenko's recent poisoning. Satsiuk hosted a "late-night dinner" with Yushchenko on September 6th, after which Yushchenko was discovered to be suffering from Dioxin poisoning. Hmmmmm. I wonder how that happened.

Roll on, Orange tide. Bring on a free Ukraine.
 

Photos of 2004 -- III

By GotDesign


It is not often that one man can change America so bodly. I can remember President Ronald Reagan's first innaugural address. I was only 12 years old, but I remember that it stirred me deeply. I was never so completely American as when I heard President reagan affirm that "we have every right to dream heroic dreams." To me, Ronald Reagan is the benchmark for American optimism and patriotism.

ADDENDUM:
Seeing this picture also reminds me of another aspect of president Reagan's life -- his absolute love for his wife, Nancy. Ronald and Nancy loved each other. I mean REALLY loved each other. Just as it is important for a mother and father to display their love in front of their children (to set the example), Ron and Nancy Reagan displayed for America that loving your spouse is vitally more important than being a successful politician. Happily for us, Ronald Reagan was both a greatly successful politician and a loving husband.
 

Christmas and the MSM -- Vox Blogoli VI

By GotDesign
It never fails that the mainstream media (MSM) is always so befuddled by Christmas. Recently, NewsWeek Online posted an article on a recent NewsWeek poll that showed that 79% of Americans surveyed believe in the virgin birth of Jesus of Nazareth. 69% of Americans believe in all of the miracles of Christmas (angelic chorus, three wise men, the star of Bethlehem, etc.). The article goes on to say that another 24% believe that Christmas is "a theological invention to affirm faith in Jesus Christ...."

It is obvious from the tone of the article that the MSM still doesn't understand Christians, let alone Christmas. The article seems to posit that the MSM still believes that those of us who believe in Jesus the Christ and pattern our lives after His example are more than a little nuts. The article makes little actual commentary, but spends a great deal of time listing the various statistics gathered in their poll. It's as if NewsWeek feels that Christmas is just another sociological phenomenon that needs to be studied. Well, wake up MSM! Christmas cannot be understood solely as a statistical survey of a given population (1,009 respondents, in this case).

This poll follows another article in NewsWeek's December 13th issue on Christmas. First off, the NewsWeek article "Religion: The Birth of Jesus" uses throughout the King James Version for its biblical citations. I'm sure that this is done in order to make the whole story seem antiquated and parochial -- as if it's positively ancient and not worthy of consideration. I don't think NewsWeek's article could portray the Christmas story more negatively. Using terms like "riven with complexity and controversy..." and "...the old tale..."
Yet, as with so many other elements of faith, the Nativity narratives are the subject of ongoing scholarly debate over their historical accuracy, their theological meaning and whether some of the central images and words of the Christian religion owe as much to the pagan culture of the Roman Empire as they do to apostolic revelation.
As previously stated, NewsWeek and the rest of the MSM think we're nuts. How could you believe this stuff? But, there are some who do understand it. We Christians are not throwing intellectuallism to the wind. For centuries, the only true intellectuals were those coming out of Europe's best theological seminaries. Even today there are those are acknowledging the intellectual underpinnings of faith in God. Just yesterday, Dennis Prager cited the "world's foremost atheist, Anthony Flew" has come to the conclusion that there is a God. One only has to read C.S. Lewis' "Mere Christianity" to get a well-reasoned, intellectual approach to believing in both God and his Son -- Jesus the Christ.

But, not matter what the MSM says or thinks, I will continue to be an intellectual believer.
Where is the wise man? Where is the scholar? Where is the philosopher of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not know him, God was pleased through the foolishness of what was preached to save those who believe.
-- 1 Corinthians 1:20-21
 

More Photos of 2004

By GotDesign
2004 is the 60th anniversary of the D-Day Invasion of World War II. It is difficult today for most people to understand what D-Day means for human civilization. The United States, as has always been its practice, acted on principle to defend Europe from being swallowed whole by Hitler's Germany. The United States was an ocean away, why should it care about Europe? But the sacrifice of an entire generation ensured that a majority of Europe could freely forget our contribution to their liberty. Please, never forget those who sacrifice their lives for the freedom of others.

If you want to get a better understanding of what D-Day meant, please watch the following movies: Saving Private Ryan and Band of Brothers.


A family member stands on Omaha Beach remembering the sacrifice of his family.
 

The Warnock Protocol?

By GotDesign
The lunacy continues. As many of you will well remember the Groningen Protocol -- the guidelines being proposed by a Netherlands hospital to select babies and others without free will to be euthanized. Well, now "Britain's leading medical ethics expert" is recommending senior citizens voluntarily commit suicide to spare families a "financial burden." The Times of London posts an article about Baroness Warnock's recommendation that those who might cause their families a "burden" should consider shuffling off this mortal coil voluntarily. The Baroness also has stated that "parents of premature babies should be charged to keep them on life support machines if doctors write off their chances of leading a healthy life."

Please read this article. Please pass it along. While I understand that every nut who holds these kinds of ideas will get press time because of the growing concern raised by the Groningen Protocol (it sells papers), these people must be challenged about their utilitarian views on life. Next thing you know, someone will propose offing children because they add nothing to the GDP. We have to re-instill a culture of valuing life. If we do not, we will have learned nothing from the horrors of the Nazis.
 

Photos of 2004

By GotDesign
As a new feature, I will be posting photographs of a significant events from 2004. I hope this will help us to look back and remember the important things in life, to be grateful for the blessings we have, and to look forward to the blessings to come.



A Russian policeman cradles a baby that was released from the besieged school at Beslan.

There are a number of reasons I have posted this image. First, every life is sacred! Second, terror is as close as the school, or madrassa, down the street. Finally (for now), give thanks to God for those who stand between us and the dangers and evil intent in the world.
 

Save Darfur

By GotDesign
I have decided not to stand by and do nothing while hundreds of thousands are raped and murdered in the Darfur Region in Sudan. I am going to lend my support to SaveDarfur.org -- whose purpose is to bring about positive action to stop the genocide going on in Sudan. To date, more than 2 million people have been murdered in Darfur -- an estimated 150,000 to 300,000 have been killed this year. Please visit SaveDarfur.org, buy a green wristband (available at the website), act to save lives now. Remember, "whatever you do for the least of these...."
 

Humpty Dumpty Was Pushed!

By GotDesign
While I am not extremely surprised, I am still angered that a reporter planted questions with soldiers to be asked of Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld. I completely understand and agree with the Secretary's answer -- our troops have always been required to fight without 100% of everything they need. In World War II, American troops were undertrained and unprepared for combat. In Vietnam, troops did not have proper boots for use in a jungle environment. The U.S. Military has been under siege by Democrats since the early 1990s. The Peace Dividend meant we didn't need as many troops or weapons -- after all, we didn't have anyone to fight any more. But, as always, the U.S. Military has done a phenomenal jobs in all circumstances.

Anyother thing that angers me about this report is that Pitts (the reporter) used American soldiers to try to discredit Rumsfeld and the American military. I don't know why the soldiers were complicit with this reporter. It is entirely possible that the soldiers were merely showing respect to a civilian reporter. Maybe some had thoughts of their names in print. Or maybe they relished the thought of talking to the Secretary of Defense. I don't know. I just think this reporter needs to fall off the back of the Humvee he's riding in. Ooops!

(HT: Drudge)
 

Refreshing

By GotDesign
You know, it's really refreshing to see a Judge actually ruling in favor of traditional marriage. Some might point out that Judge Teresi only applied the law, but that hasn't stopped other judges from disregarding the law for their own petty reasons. While I know that most judges apply the law and don't try to single-handedly reshape society in their own image, you usually don't hear about the ones doing their jobs properly. Congratulations Judge Teresi.
 

Yushchenko Poisoned

By GotDesign
Someone has been trying to kill Ukrainian opposition leader and Presidential candidate Viktor Yushchenko. The Times of London reports (HT: Drudge) that Yushchenko was treated in Australia for poisoning which, while not killing the presidential candidate, left him with visible signs of the attempt -- facial scarring and disfiguration (see photo below).



You'd think that this would be a story out of history and not today's headlines. I've not seen such barbarism since Pol Pot. And you thought the U.S. elections were nasty!
 

Excuse Me?

By GotDesign
From the "What were they thinking" department....

A Christmas advertising campaign for a "morning after" birth control pill touted as the "Immaculate Contraception." I am not kidding. It actually made out into the British public.
"It might be Christmas time," it read, "but condoms still split and pills still get forgotten. So if your contraception lets you down, ask your pharmacist for Levonelle One Step."
Can you believe it? The unfortunate answer is, Yes, I can believe it. Nothing is sacred any more.
(HT: Drudge)
 

Welcome to the Club

By GotDesign
Congratulations go out to Brain Shavings for being selected as Hugh Hewitt's Blog of the Month. Drop by and say hello. Maybe given him a laurel, and hardy handshake.
 

Don't Put Up Your Broom Just Yet

By GotDesign
It doesn't look like DCI Porter Goss has finished his housecleaing at the CIA. More classified documents being leaked to the New York Times. The leaks are once again painting the situation in Iraq as deteriorating. Of course it's deteriorating! There is just under two months until popular elections in Iraq and the Baath Party loyalists and foreign terrorists who causing the problems are stepping up their temper tantrum. But the situation is by no means a spiral of doom, beyond control. We have plenty of ammunition. We'll be happy to give the terrorists as many rounds of ammo as necessary -- with express delivery.

I think the CIA should start employing special methods to track individual copies of memoranda and reports in order to determine where the leaks are. Once found, send them packing. Maybe even charge them with unlawful disclosure of classified information. Whichever path, show them the door.
 

Slap on the Wrists

By GotDesign
A while back, I posted my comments regarding the report of Army Reservists who refused an order to go on a supply convoy. The Army just released its decision on their punishment -- an Article 15 "non-judicial" punishment. A slap on the wrists, possibly accompanied by a mean look. The Army decided not to pursue a court martial for the 18 soldiers in question. For those of you who are not veterans, an Article 15 punishments include a combination of fines or forfeiture of pay, and short-term restrictions. This would be laughable if it weren't for the circumstances of the offense.

These 18 Army Reservists refused a lawful order to perform convoy duty in a combat zone. Other soldiers were depending on the supplies these Reservists were to have transported. In the Army, everyone depends on the combined efforts all armed forces within the combat zone, and some outside of the theater of operations. The infantryman relies on the supply services of the quartermaster to keep supplied with ammunition, food, and various others combat-related supplies. By refusing this mission, although I do not know the manifest of the refused supply convoy, these 18 soldiers also refused to support other soldiers who were in harm's way. It is my opinion that these 18 Reservists should have had the proverbial book thrown at them. I would have their duty-shirking butts sitting before a Court Martial. I don't care if there were mitigating circumstances. There were other ways to have any issues addressed short of refusing a mission.

I don't know why the Army chose not to prosecute these soldiers. I think it is a mistake. What do you think?
 

Pot & Kettle Incident

By GotDesign
Isn't THIS the pot calling the kettle "black!" I have to laugh.

All will become clear when you follow the yellow brick link (above).
 

A Touch of Beauty

By GotDesign
I am blessed with a very beautiful and talented wife. Recently the Fetching Mrs. GotDesign wrote some peotry by which I am completely bespelled. I love this so much, I though I'd post it for everyone to enjoy.


Little Girl Swinging

Sometimes,
If you look deep into the iris of the woman’s eye,
You will see a tiny girl swinging.

She is laughing, sailing above the limits imposed upon her
By adulthood, gravity, and seats with squeaky chains.

She breathes in the eternal summer air,
While wisps of her blond hair flutter around her face
Like silent angels blessing her with their company.

Here, repose resides in a neighborhood park,
Where quaint kitchen sandboxes never run out of ingredients
And their delicacies never fail to feed every need.

Often, sticky situations with ice cream aren’t avoided.
Mama disappoints no one by bandaging knees
And adeptly easing smudges from t-shirts and little minds.

Girls travel to magical lands using monkey bars,
And return home in time for supper
Without being deterred from their unclaimed aspirations.

The woman smiles softly, savoring the moment
Before the child fades back into her suspended sanctuary of life.

Sometimes,
If you delve into the iris of this woman’s eye,
A tiny girl is beckoning.
 

Groningen Protocol -- Must Read

By GotDesign
I just received the following story from a reader. The story comes from a blog in France operated by two women -- one American, one French. I think the article is to be read using a tone of extreme irony. But when it comes to this issue -- killing unacceptable/inconvenient babies -- I have trouble with this tone. I would prefer that the author(s) take a more serious tone. But here it is for your consideration. I'll follow up with the blog in question and report back later.

* * * * *

NYC Letter: The Groningen Protocol

No need for alarm. Everything under control here. Just a few babies being tended. Move along.

NETHERLANDS HOSPITAL EUTHANIZES BABIES

In August, the main Dutch doctors' association KNMG [De Koninklijke Nederlandsche Maatschappij tot bevordering der Geneeskunst] urged the Health Ministry to create an independent board to review euthanasia cases for terminally ill people "with no free will," including children, the severely mentally retarded and people left in an irreversible coma after an accident.

The Health Ministry is preparing its response, which could come as soon as December, a spokesman said.

[The Groningen Academic Hospital, AZG] in the Netherlands — the first nation to permit euthanasia — recently proposed guidelines for mercy killings of terminally ill newborns, and then made a startling revelation: It has already begun carrying out such procedures, which include administering a lethal dose of sedatives.

Best to have guidelines for disposing of junk people. But we must admit the novel hysteron proteron approach of the Dutch certainly speeds things along. Oh, just a detail, the Groningen Protocol, with an eye to future enlargement, covers children up to twelve years.

The Groningen Protocol, as the hospital's guidelines have come to be known, would create a legal framework for permitting doctors to actively end the life of newborns deemed to be in similar pain from incurable disease or extreme deformities.

The conditional indicates outcomes that are dependent on some qualifying requirement being met. The above sentence is tautological mush: If the Protocol were given the force of law it would provide a framework for such law. Yet people read right over this sort of mud and think they've learned something.

The suggestion is that the Protocol is part of some legislative process. It is not. It is a coterie of doctors having their way in the maternity ward of the Groningen Academic Hospital.

The hospital has revealed it carried out four such mercy killings in 2003, and reported all cases to government prosecutors. There have been no legal proceedings against the hospital or the doctors.

"As things are, people are doing this secretly and that's wrong," said Eduard Verhagen, head of Groningen's children's clinic. "In the Netherlands we want to expose everything, to let everything be subjected to vetting."

Hhmmm. Silly us, we would have thought that acting without the sanction of law might be what was wrong. Mr. Verhagen introduces an interesting legal if not moral construct. Although Groningen's doctors had no authority in law to euthanize infants, telling the papers about it, "to expose everything", happily exculpates the obvious criminality. This is a classic "bait and switch":

Well, I may be killing babies, but at least I'm not a craven hypocrite about it. (Warm applause. A beautiful bouquet of roses is presented.) Can anything be more detestable than those cowardly secretive euthanizers? (Uniform woeful head-shaking. No one can think one thought more detestable. Fists are shaken. A pencil is broken!)

The Daily Standard reports:

For anyone paying attention to the continuing collapse of medical ethics in the Netherlands, this isn't at all shocking. Dutch doctors have been surreptitiously engaging in eugenic euthanasia of disabled babies for years, although it technically is illegal, since infants can't consent to be killed. Indeed, a disturbing 1997 study published in the British medical journal, the Lancet, revealed how deeply pediatric euthanasia has already metastasized into Dutch neo natal medical practice: According to the report, doctors were killing approximately 8 percent of all infants who died each year in the Netherlands. That amounts to approximately 80-90 per year. Of these, one-third would have lived more than a month. At least 10-15 of these killings involved infants who did not require life-sustaining treatment to stay alive. The study found that a shocking 45 percent of neo-natologists and 31 percent of pediatricians who responded to questionnaires had killed infants.

It took the Dutch almost 30 years for their medical practices to fall to the point that Dutch doctors are able to engage in the kind of euthanasia activities that got some German doctors hanged after Nuremberg. For those who object to this assertion by claiming that German doctors killed disabled babies during World War II without consent of parents, so too do many Dutch doctors: Approximately 21 percent of the infant euthanasia deaths occurred without request or consent of parents. Moreover, since when did parents attain the moral right to have their children killed?

We are not pretending there aren't difficult issues here. The good doctors of AZG feel they've figured it all out. What? You don't agree? Yeah, well, drop dead -- unless you need an assist.

* * * * *

Look for updates here later.

UPDATE #1:
I received an e-mail in reply to my attempts to determine whether the author of the "NYC Letter" was being darkly sarcastic or serious. The author stated that he/she was being sarcastic and that this was his/her style. Personally, I had difficulty seeing the sarcasm for what it is. I'm not slow or stupid, but there was no contrast between the sarcastic statements and the quoted materials in the article. While I don't particularly care for sarcasm on subjects like these, I will withhold judgement. When it comes right down to brass tacks, the Groningen Protocol is a manifestation of evil. 'Nuff said.
 

God's Bigger Plan

By GotDesign
After my recent post on the Groningen Protocol, I sent out an e-mail to practically everyone in my address list. I received a response from a friend of mine from church who is a physician. I asked him for permission to post his message. I think he puts the issue in the proper framework.
Aaron,
As I sit here holding my wonderfully "normal" 3 month old child, I ponder the serious question that the events in Holland brings to light. As a physician, there is an ever-increasing line of what can be accomplished and what should be accomplished in respect to the use of technology for the betterment of mankind. It becomes a difficult dilemma with the children in question. I won't get into the issues of who has the ultimate say for the child (parents vs. hospital, et al) as this is more of a political issue than a medical one. In the U.S. I know that the parents will always have the final say. As Christians I think it is important that we consider this issue when we are faced with an obviously abnormal and critically ill child or infant. How can we possibly understand God's purpose for this "apparently" awful situation? If we assume in a selfish way that "we" could in no way be expected to take care of such an infant, then we are essentially assuming that we know what God wants for us, and we are OK with taking matters in our own hands. What if God has a bigger plan for this apparent tragedy?? Such as strengthening the resolve of the parents so they can grow closer together and use their insight to help others in more difficult situations?? Or maybe one or more of these children do live and become examples of how a determined spirit and resolve can lead to enormous results? Basically my belief is that we should NOT be deciding which of these children live or die based on what we as men determine are the chances of a fruitful life (and furthermore, how do we as men even define a "fruitful" life??). If the condition is one that God has allowed to occur for a reason, then the infant will die naturally and we can't do anything to interfere even if we wanted. On the other hand, I don't want to stand before my creator and try to explain how I could look at these children with my imperfect eyes and judge which ones were not fit to be allowed the plan that he had intended for them in the first place, and which ones I decided should not be given that chance.

In His Love, Todd
[Emphasis mine]


'Nough said.
 

On The Campus

By GotDesign
When I was working on my undergrad degree, I could tell what my professors' political views were. But only because I was very involved in my academic major (diplomacy & Foreign affairs) and conversed frequently with many different professors. I remember the buzz in the Political Science department when the Republican Party took control of the House of Representatives after the elections of 1994. The groans and moans about Newt Gingrich being the Speaker. Being a conservative, I just chuckled.

But things have changed on campuses since I left the undergraduate world. A recent study by the American Council of Trustees and Alumni has documented the rampant political biases on college campuses. A WSJ Opinion Journal article mentions how nearly half of all students surveyed stated that their professors "frequently comment on politics even though it has nothing to do with class." And 29% of students felt their good grades were to some extent dependent on agreeing with the professors.

So much for Liberals being the main proponents for tolerance and critical thinking. I wasn't surprised? Were you?
 

Responsibility

By GotDesign
Last night, I called the Hugh Hewitt show. Now, normally when I try to call, I get a busy signal. So I was wonderfully surprised to actually get through. As I talked to Hugh about the Groningen Protocol, I began to realize that the core issue at stake was responsibility. The Groningen Academic Hospital does not want to take responsibility for children who will require what they consider excessive medical assistance. Instead of extended themselves to care for the needy children, they would rather put them out of their (the hospital's?) misery. They have cloaked themselves in a supposed concern for suffering. But, as Hugh pointed out, the children in question cannot communicate their suffering. So doctors at Groningen are making an assumption about a child's supposed suffering. As Matt, from FroggyRuminations, pointed out on Tuesday evening's HH show, being a government run healthcare facility, Groningen could be looking for a way to cut costs -- either now or in the future. Regardless of motivation -- whether for suffering or budgetary concerns -- Groningen, and maybe all of the Netherlands, is shirking their responsibility for caring for those in their society who are least capable of caring for themselves. As Hugh, Dr. David Allen White and Dr. Mark Roberts pointed out on Tuesday evening, this is how the Nazis got started in the 1930s -- by getting rid of the unproductive members of society.

Stand up for life! Pray!
 

A Culture of Death

By GotDesign
On June 27th, 1968, I came into this world -- the eldest child of my parents. My parents had two other children, my sisters, over the following five years. It was not until I was in my early teens that I learned that I was not truly my parents' firstborn. I learned that on June 28th, 1967 my older sister, Kerri Lynn, was stillborn due to complications from Spina Bifida. My sister's skull and spinal column were not fully formed. As often as I can, I visit her gravesite in my hometown.

At some time in the past five years (I'm not exactly sure when), I watched a program on the Discovery Channel where a child with spina bifida was operated on while still in the womb. The nacent little girl had developmental problems similar to my sister -- a spinal column not covered by flesh. The child was removed from the womb in a C-Section and a form of synthetic skin was used to close up the wound over her spine and she was replaced into her mothers womb. The program followed this case and showed the successful birth of this little girl. While the little girl required therapy in learning to walk, she lived a happy, relatively normal life.

Had my sister been born within the past decade, she might have survived her developmental wounds. But she would not have survived if she had been born in Holland.

Last night, Hugh Hewitt expressed his disgust and horror regarding a news story out of the Netherlands. Hospitals in the Netherlands are performing euthanasia on unborn and infant children. The Groningen Academic Hospital has proposed guidelines for euthanasia:
The Groningen Protocol, as the hospital's guidelines have come to be known, would create a legal framework for permitting doctors to actively end the life of newborns deemed to be in similar pain from incurable disease or extreme deformities.

The guideline says euthanasia is acceptable when the child's medical team and independent doctors agree the pain cannot be eased and there is no prospect for improvement, and when parents think it's best.

Examples include extremely premature births, where children suffer brain damage from bleeding and convulsions; and diseases where a child could only survive on life support for the rest of its life, such as severe cases of spina bifida and epidermosis bullosa, a rare blistering illness.

According to the Groningen Protocol (GP), my sister would have been euthanized. While the article does not say whether the independent committee acts with or without the consent of the parents of the children covered by the GP, it seems from the article that the committee decision does not require consent. Do you want an "independent committee" determining the future of your children? At what point do they move from euthanizing severe metal retardation to mild retardation?

Cry havoc! Let your horror be heard by anyone who will listen! Pray for God's intervention to protect the children and mentally handicapped in the Netherlands.


UPDATE:
First, the actions of the Groningen Academic Hospital were not enabled by legislation, but were undertaken proactively by the hospital. Second, if you want to e-mail the hospital to express your outrage, the Faculty of Medical Sciences of the University of Groningen (which operates and administrates the hospital) can be reached through their Department of Internal and External Relations. Fill up their e-mail box. You can also reach the Press Officer for the Department of Medical Sciences.

According to the Grand Forks Herald, parents do not have the final say regarding their children in these cases. For a great Christian perspective on this outrage, check out Mark D. Roberts and his blog posting.
 

UN-impressed

By GotDesign
For some time now, I have been considering the potential need for the United States to withdraw from the United Nations. Today, Sen. Norm Coleman wrote an article in the WSJ Opinion Journal calling for Kofi Annan's resignation. While I agree that Annan's ouster would be a good first step, I don't think it would make a significant contribution to solving the problems of the U.N.'s corruption, misdirection and lack of efficacy. Something must be done. But what?

It is now completely apparent that the U.N. under Annan has become a very corrupt organization. The Oil for Food (OFF) Program is an entrenched bureaucracy that has such mass that, even if the U.N. wanted to, terminating the program would be extremely difficult on political grounds, as well as in administrative terms. While Claudia Rosette stops short of claiming that Annan himself is corrupted through his son's employment with a Geneva-based consulting firm, she does lay blame at Annan's feet for not managing the OFF closely enough to preclude the corruption that is now rampant. This lack of management (really a denial of responsibility) is also apparent as Annan has also recently come under fire for not taking action regarding allegations that Ruud Lubbers (U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees) groped an American woman who worked for the UNHCR. The U.N.'s Internal Oversight Services office investigated and backed the woman's claims of sexual harassment. Despite the investigation's results, Annan cleared Lubbers and does not intend to further pursue the allegations. While I would welcome Anan's departure, willing or forced, he is only a symptom of the overall problems of the U.N.

The United Nations was formed to be a forum for nations on the verge of war to resolve their differences through diplomacy. The U.N. also was chartered to foster better relations between nations through increased communications. But the U.N. has become as effective at these functions as a nervous, inebriated freshman in a hotel room on Prom night. Where was the U.N. when Hutus started slaughtering Tutsis in Rwanda in the mid-90s? The U.N. was unable to keep Serbia from slaughtering non-Serbs in the former Yugoslavia without resorting to military force. And it is unlikely that the U.N. will keep Rwanda from invading the Democratic Republic of the Congo in pursuit of Hutu rebels. In fact, I cannot think of a situation where the U.N. has kept war from erupting in at least the past decade. And some could claim that the U.N. actually created the circumstances in which the United States found it necessary to invade Iraq and depose Saddam Hussein. Why should the United States continue to participate in the U.N.? Why should the U.S. allow itself to be bound by a feckless organization when it is more than likely that the U.S. will either have to act unilaterally or in concert with a contingent of allies?

It is my intention to continue to follow the ineptitude of the United Nations. While Kofi Annan has begun a course of "sweeping changes" at the U.N., I don't expect much actual change. I will be making the case, over time, for the withdrawal from the U.N. The United States is not incapable of mediating world conflict or fostering negotiations or, when necessary, intervening militarily in order to promote and/or enforce the peace. Why bind ourselves to an impotent, moribund bureaucracy?
 

Iraqi Debt -- Never Mind

By GotDesign
While researching an upcoming piece on the U.N., I found an article -- Why Iraq's Debt Does Not, in Fact, Even Exist by Damien Millet of L’Humanite -- claiming that Iraq should not have to pay back any debt it incurred under Saddam Hussein’s regime. There are so many holes in the reasoning of this article there is no doubt that it was originally published in France.

The author cites recent negotiations to reduce the debt of the newly freed Iraq by as much as 95% of the over $300 Billion (in debt and 1991 Gulf War reparations) owed by Iraq. However, Mr. Millet claims that a “clear legal doctrine was conceived in 1927 by Alexander Nahum Sack, Nicholas II’s [Tsar of Imperial Russia] former minister and professor of law in Paris:
If a despotic power contracts a debt not for the needs and interests of the state, but to strengthen his despotic regime, to repress the population fighting him, etc., this debt … does not encumber the nation; it is a debt of the regime, a personal debt of the contracting power, and consequently, it falls with the fall of that power.
What both Millet and Sack overlook is the deleterious effect that this “legal doctrine” would have on the validity of contract law worldwide. First off, who decides who is a despot? As the Greeks argued, it is possible for a tyranny to be benevolent in nature. While I am not arguing in favor of tyranny or despotism, the question still stands — who decides? Contracts are drawn for the very important purpose of defining financial, political and legal agreements. What would keep a party to a contract from declaring itself a despotic regime, or having a third party make a similar declaration? All contracts would become subjective. You could even claim that the people or government of the United States no longer owe any debt to any nation so incurred under the “regime” of President George W. Bush, since there have been scurrilous and completely baseless accusations that President Bush is a despot on par with Hitler. So you can see how such a “legal doctrine” could disrupt all contract law based on little or no evidence, or evidence that is completely subjective.

Sack claims that despotic debt “does not encumber the nation.” While in practice, Hussein’s Iraq was a despotic tyranny, it exercised contracts in the name of the “democratic” government of Iraq. As was the case with the former Communist governments of the Soviet Union and its client states, Iraq was a titular democracy. Iraq held elections, however rigged, which installed a government. How can any lender be sure that they will receive payment in full from any government empowered to be a party to contractual relationships? Under Sack’s doctrine, no one can be assured of payment.

Millet makes another odious assertion — “Today, the Iraqi government is illegitimate: it was imposed by the United States as the result of a war launched in violation of international law, without the approval of the Iraqi people, to say the least.” First, the current government of Iraq was duly elected by the People of Iraq. The United States and the Provisional Authority only established the general guidelines for the elections and then turned over sovereignty to the elected provisional authorities of Iraq.

On the second point — a “war launched in violation of international law — the Coalition invasion of Iraq acted in full accord with international law. Iraq was in material breach of the conditions of the 1991 Gulf War cease fire agreement established by the U.S.-led coalition and backed United Nations Security Council [insert chuckle here]. This fact alone — Iraq’s breach of its cease fire agreement — opens the door for any member of the original 1991 coalition to reopen hostilities. As if this were not enough, the U.N. Charter itself allows for the March 2003 U.S.-led invasion of Iraq. Article 51 of the United Nations Charter reads:
“Nothing in the present Charter shall impair the inherent right of individual or collective self-defense if an armed attack occurs against a Member of the United Nations….”
As a result of the 1962 blockade of the island of Cuba during the Cuban Missile Crisis, it has been the customary interpretation of international law (and Article 51) to allow for anticipatory (or preemptive) self-defense. Article 38 of the Statute of the International Court of Justice provides that international law consists of international conventions, international custom, and “general principles of law accepted by civilized nations.” Anticipatory self-defense (as demonstrated in the Cuban Missile Crisis, Reagan’s Air Raids on Libya, etc.) has been generally accepted by the international community. Therefore, anticipatory self-defense becomes international law by reason of both “international custom” and “general principles of law.”

As for the “approval of the Iraqi people,” no one asked them for approval of Saddam Hussein’s assumption of power. No one asked them for approval of Saddam’s depredations. And now that the Iraqi people have a voice — a free voice — they are overwhelmingly giving their approval of the ouster of Saddam Hussein ex post facto. The Iraqi people will once again give their approval to the Coalition actions of the past year-and-a-half on January 30th, 2005 — Election Day.

Damien Millet is credited as the President of the Committee for the Cancellation of Third-World Debt. It would seem that his article is not truly reasoned, but is in fact support for an a priori assumption. Third-world debt is bad and here is the proof. To my knowledge, there is no legal basis for Millet’s assertions, apart from the dubious “clear legal doctrine” of Alexander Nahum Sack. Just because it is convenient doesn’t mean it is either just or legally sound.
 

Re-Read

By GotDesign
Hugh Hewitt has thrown down the gauntlet. What modern novels are worthy of re-reading? Below is my short list. In my own defense, most of my reading is currently focused on my MBA studies. So I usually only have time to read at night, before going to bed.

The Harry Potter series -- I love this series. I have read the entire series at least twice. JK Rowling has created a world that is compelling and charming. The growth of young Harry Potter, both as a young man and as a wizard, is chronicled in a way that both keeps you reading (can't put it down) and begs you to pick them up multiple times.

Isaac Asimov's Robot and Foundation series -- I loved both of these series. Asimov tells of a future where robots are constant part of society and how this reliance on automatons effects this society over the long term. The Foundation series tells the story of the fledgling science of psychohistory and how this new science will effect (or predict) the future of mankind. I've read the series twice and plan to read many times in the future.

Henry Kissinger's Diplomacy -- Moving away from science fiction and fantasy, my favorite non-fiction genre would be foreign policy and history. Former Secretary of State and National Security Advisor Henry Kissinger discusses the foundations of modern foreign policy. I've read it at least three times.

J.R.R. Tolkein's Lord of the Rings trilogy -- I can't even begin to tell you how many times I've read this classic of modern literature. I've read the LoTR series at least a dozen times. At least 15 years ago, I started a tradition of reading the entire trilogy of over the Thanksgiving-Christmas-New Years season. I am fairly confident that I could continue to re-read this without loosing the wonder of it all. I will probably re-read it again once this semester's studies are over.
 

Family Time

By GotDesign
For the past four days I have been in Cincinnati visiting my family. My wife and I drove up on Thanksgiving morning (it's only a two-hour drive) and arrived shortly before lunch. We had a scrumptious Thanksgiving dinner of the usual fare -- mashed potatoes and gravy, sweet potatoes, green beans, salad, and, of course, turkey. My mother did a wonderful job on everything.

On Saturday, my father's side of the family traditionally gets together to celebrate both Thanksgiving and Christmas. This is done because my father's family is spread pretty widely across the United States. And while I enjoy this annual gathering, it sometimes befuddles me. There are members of my extended family whom I do not know. Haven't the foggiest. And I know that every year, without fail, I'm asking the same questions. "She's whose wife? ... Oh, that must be her child eating the pudding from the serving bowl. ... Are you sure they're related to us?" I spent a good half an hour talking with my cousin Alex about family members we couldn't identify.

We had another fabulous Thanksgiving meal followed by our traditional White Elephant gift game. For those of you who don't know, a White Elephant gift is one where the gift is meant entirely as a gag. For instance, for the past 10 years (at least) my extended family has been passing back and forth a Woody Woodpecker piƱata. It shows up every year, usually in some new disguise or costume. This year Woody was sporting a floral print shirt with Bermuda shorts and hastily improvised flip-flops. Among other White Elephant gifts past are the cheesey romance novels, knitted toilet paper cozies, and the much coveted bag of drier lint. But suffice it to say that much fun was had by all.

I enjoy time with my family. It is a constant reminder that God provides.
 

GotDesign v.3.0

By GotDesign
I know. You're thinking, "Come on, GotDesign, this is the third site design you've had in just under two months!" The reason I've redesigned my blog is because I kept having problems with my site when viewed using [that woefully inadequate web browser] MS Internet Explorer. It just never seemed to display properly. So I searched, found and modified a new template to be sure that MSIE users, as well as those of us using a superior browser (like Mozilla or Firefox), would have a pleasant and visually satisfying blog-viewing experience.

I would truly appreciate your comments. Or just drop me a note via e-mail. Thanks.
 

Giving Thanks

By GotDesign
I try to make my thankfulness known throughout the year. But I, like so many others during this season, want to let y'all (I have to use that word from time to time -- it's in the KY Constitution...joke) know what I am thankful for.

I am most thankful for the many blessings that God has given to me. The greatest of which is the sacrifice of Jesus the Christ on my behalf.

I am also very thankful for my wife. God brought me an Angel to love and be loved by. Thank you, Father God, for Melanie.

I thank God for my parents. They have sacrificed for me throughout my life, provided me with undying love, provided for my education, and -- most importantly -- brought me up to fear and love God.

I am thankful for my family. My sisters, and my nieces, are a constant source of joy for me. My family is constantly in my prayers.

I am thankful for my church. Southeast Christian Church is the quintessential Christian community. I am so encouraged and uplifted by my worship at Southeast and by the teaching I receive. May God continue to bless Southeast Christian Church.

I have traveled throughout the world and I know the blessing of being an American. Many in the U.S. take this blessing for granted. I thank God for my country -- the United States of America -- and its Christian heritage. I also thank God for our military -- the Guardians of Freedom -- and our President -- George W. Bush. May God continue to bless our country with prosperity, bless the men and women of our armed forces with courage and strength to defend our nation and its way of life, and guide and bless our nation's leaders -- the President, the Cabinet, the Congress, and the Judiciary. God bless America, my home sweet home.

I could continue this list for quite some time. But these are the most important blessing I have received and for which I am thankful.

 

Brotherhood of Arms

By GotDesign
Everyday I spend my morning (from 9 am to 12 noon) listening to the Internet rebroadcast of the previous evening's Hugh Hewitt program. Today, I am listening to the Monday night program. Hugh is currently reading the New York Times piece on the Battle for Fallujah. I am choking back tears as I am writing. I am not a particularly emotional person; if anything, I find my life is filled with joy. But the only thing that can evoke the welling up of such emotion is the stories of brave men and women in our armed services who are sacrificing themselves not just for you and I, but also for complete strangers. There is nothing more precious than the blood shed in the name of freedom. Though many do not know if consciously, they follow the divine example of Jesus of Nazareth.

Why should I be to involved in this noble struggle? Because I served. I spent just over 11 years in the U.S. Army and Army Reserves. There was no especially valorous service I performed. Nothing particularly exciting about most of it. But I served. And those of you who have served know what I mean. There is an almost mystic bond between all who have work the uniform. My wife first saw this side of me when, while we were dating, we went to see the movie We Were Soldiers -- an adaptation of Harold Moore's book We Were Soldiers Once...And Young. This was partially instilled in me when I was young. My father taught to me to value the freedoms we, as Americans, have and those who paid the price for that freedom. But it became even stronger once I had joined the U.S. Army back in 1986. It does not matter what branch of the service. Soldiers, Sailors, Marines, and Airmen are all my Brothers in Arms.

Why do I tell you this? I'm not really sure. I guess I just have to emote. And also to let you know just how deeply run the ties of shared sacrifice.

Hooah!
 

Hugh in Louisville

By GotDesign

Friday night was a really fun evening. Hugh Hewitt, as has been previously mentioned, made his first visit to Kentucky on Friday night. WGTK, one of Hugh's original eight affiliates, invited Hugh to Louisville to broadcast from the Frazier Historical Arms Museum. 600 of Hugh's closest friends (addicts, really) crowded the 4th floor. I got lucky and had a seat on the 4th row.

Duane played Kentucky-themed music (such as "My Old Kentucky Home") for the bumper music. Although quite a few of us wondered why Elvis' "Blue Moon of Kentucky" wasn't included. And, honestly, I could have done without the banjo-laden music.

During the first segment, Hugh interviewed Congresswoman Anne Northup. This was followed by Hugh's interview with the Frazier Museum's Director of Operations and Security, Jeffrey A. Hawkins (you might want to send a thank you note for hosting Hugh). During the second hour, Hugh talked with FoxNews' Beltway Boys -- Mort Kondracke and Fred Barnes. He also talked about President Bush's appearance and kind words at the opening of the Clinton Presidential Center. Bush's comments were more than magnanimous; especially in light of what Democrats have been saying about him.

Hugh closed out the evening with Emmet of The Unblinking Eye and Tarzana Joe. Emmet's Top 10 list was on the Top 10 Kentucky Movies Ever. But I was surprised that Emmet hadn't included Seabiscuit. Louisville, KY is most widely known for is the Kentucky Derby. And Seabiscuit is one of the most famous winners of the Derby. Anyway.... And I loved Tarazan Joe's poem! Tarazana read Robert Penn Warren's Audubon: A Vision (I will post a copy of this poem later). I was enthralled. I absolutely loved this poem. What a wonderful way to end the evening.


Hugh signing my copy of In, But Not Of.

Between broadcast segments, Hugh took time to meet with people and autograph books, etc. I got my copy of In But Not Of inscribed. I also had the opportunity to meet with Hugh after the broadcast was concluded. As I've mentioned before, we discussed some blogging ideas that I hope to be rolling out with both here and at Cardinal Coalition. I will also post some photos of my own and some that have been sent to me by Dawn at SWFw/Attitude. Hugh was given several gifts, including a Louisville Slugger baseball bat with Hugh's name branded on it, a replica Civil War Cavalry Sabre, and various and sundry smaller gifts from the event sponsors.


Sunday morning, I was pleased to meet Hugh again. As Hugh mentioned to me on Firday, he had planned to attend the 9 a.m. service at Southeast Christian Church. I met him in the halls and had the opportunity to introduce my wife, the fetching Mrs. Hiler. Hugh has also blogged about his experience at Southeast.


Watch this space! I will be updating with photos and poetry as soon as possible. And thanks for visiting GotDesign. Please be sure to leave comments.

Tell Me A Story (an excerpt from Audubon: A Vision) by Robert Penn Warren

Long ago, in Kentucky, I, a boy, stood
By a dirt road, in first dark, and heard
The great geese hoot northward.

I could not see them, there being no moon
And the stars sparse. I heard them.

I did not know what was happening in my heart.

It was the season before the elderberry blooms,
Therefore they were going north.

The sound was passing northward.


Tell me a story.

In this century, and moment, of mania,
Tell me a story.

Make it a story of great distances, and starlight.

The name of the story will be Time,
But you must not pronounce its name.

Tell me a story of deep delight.

Hat tip to Tarzana Joe for the text

 

Hugh Hewitt Live!

By GotDesign
I just got back from Hugh Hewitt's live broadcast from the Frazier Historical Arms Museum. What a great show. Not only did I get to meet Hugh, but I also got to meet with some of my fellow Louisville bloggers -- Dawn from SWFw/Attitude and Dodd from Ipse Dixit. GotDesign received another mention on Hugh's site.

Apart from the experience of being at a live radio broadcast, I also had the opportunity to speak with Hugh after the show. Hugh and I discussed some exciting ideas for blogging. I hope to roll out some of those ideas soon, both here at GotDesign, but also at the newly launched Cardinal Coalition. I was surprised (once again, but Hugh had already heard of the Coalition (we just started blogging this week!). But Hugh also found my site early on (only 4 days into my blogging life). He doesn't miss much. I hope to have some photos to post on Monday (or so).

Thanks again, Hugh.
 

Extreme Animation

By GotDesign
As a graphic designer, I was amazed at this Flash animation I found. Those of you who are graphic designers will stand (or sit) with gaping mouth at this animation. The rest of you will surely be impressed as well. If you have a high-speed Internet connection, this will take about two minutes to load and the animation runs about 5-6 minutes viewing time. If you have a dial-up connection, it will take MUCH longer. But it is well worth it. So check out The Prowlies at the River. Just click on the button that reads "Watch This Movie!"

I post this because, to date, I have not posted anything on graphics or art. Graphics is an important part of my life. I hope you enjoy this.
 

Headin' Towards the Falls

By GotDesign
For just over 2 weeks, the Mainstream Media (MSM) has been harping over the Democratic Party's loss of the elections. We have heard the wild cries of "does 51% of the U.S. know how stupid it is," and the secession of the Blue States, and the many cries of "Oh, woe is me." Now, while I must claim some small degree of satisfaction in this pity party, the party is over. The Democratic Party needs to recognize what is truly wrong -- they've lost touch the people.

Many of today's Democratic Party candidates continue to claim ties to the respectable Democrats of old -- Roosevelt, Kennedy, etc. But this could not be farther from the truth. If you look at the values of these bulwarks of the Democratic Party, you'll find they have no resemblance to today's Democrats. Dennis Prager has on many occasions stated that, if you gave a copy of John F. Kennedy's innaugural address to a college student today, without identifying it, that student would 95% of the time identify the speech as being given by a Republican. And I have no doubt of this. The Democratic Party has come to represent the antithesis of traditional Democratic values. Regarding our national defense, JFK said "only when our arms are sufficient beyond doubt can we be certain beyond doubt that they will never be employed." But the leaders of The Democratic Party have spent years campaigning against critical weapon systems. Sen. John Kerry voted both for and against supplemental funding for our troops in Iraq. JFK also said, regarding America's role in the world:
Let every nation know, whether it wishes us well or ill, that we shall pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe, in order to assure the survival and the success of liberty.
But today's Democrats side with Michael Moore and go to extremes to belittle the President's foreign policy, make public statements that both denigrate our troops and encourage our enemies, and call over half of Americans stupid because of moral and religious beliefs.

When I see the way Democrats are behaving these days, I think of the old serial movies -- some westerns, some horror, some sci-fi -- where the hero is in a boat without an engine that is drifting towards a waterfall. You can see the end coming. You want to shout at the screen, "do something!" The bulk of the Democratic Party needs to "do something!" The Democratic Party leadership has left its rank and file without an engine and headed for the falls.

Why do I say these things? Why should I care about the impending demise of a group of spoiled rotten whiners? Because I enjoy the dialect process. Political dialog is the ideal at the heart of our system of government. The Founding Fathers philosophically believed that the best course for any body politic is the dialectic process of opposing ideas -- thesis and antithesis -- brought together in debate and reasoned through into a synthesis. The clash of ideas always results in a greater variety of thought and ideas. Somewhere in this process, the people of this nation take hold of the ideas they feel will best guide the country and set them into motion. This is what makes America great.

Hear that roar? Do something!
 

Fish Got Feelings!

By GotDesign
There is one thing that will wake me from my self-imposed slumber -- other people's stupidity. People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) is launching a new campaign claiming that fish have feelings. Have you noticed your goldfish moping about? Is your Betta a bit depressed? Well, PETA thinks that may be the case.

Recently, my wife inadvertantly spilled out our fish tank, pouring our Betta -- "Levi," short for Leviathan -- onto the floor. It took her several minutes to wrangle Levi back into the water. In the two days since this utter tragedy (snicker), Levi has been swimming around his bowl. No change in attitude. Still eats his brine shrimp. No moodiness. Although, I thought I heard him singing..."nobody loves you ... when you're down and out."

Get a life, PETA!

Hat tip to Drudge.
 

Down Time

By GotDesign
I'm taking some down time this week. I have a case study to prepare for my management class and this will take a good deal of my time. I'm also working to start a new blog -- the Cardinal Coalition. The CC will be a blog about Louisville-area culture, politics, etc. I may chime in if something significant happens, and I'll probably post a recap of Hugh Hewitt's visit to Louisville on Friday. I'm looking forward to meeting the Grand Poobah of the Blogosphere.
 

Who is GotDesign?

By GotDesign
After surfing some other blogs, I thought maybe you'd like to know a little more about me. A little narcissistic, but I can live with that.

First, I am a Christian. That means that I have accepted Jesus the Christ as my savior. This does not mean that I'm some mindless slave to religious dogma. It means that I have accepted the Bible as the literal word of God and as the basis for my worldview (how I view the world). I am a member at Southeast Christian Church here in Louisville. Southeast runs approximately 18,000 in attendance over 3 services each weekend. I am a "Sunday School" teacher and I volunteer in providing guidance to new members or people who are becoming Christians. I strive at all times to bring glory to God -- most of the time I succeed, other times I fail. By God's grace the latter outcome will dwindle.

Second, I am husband. I got married in June 2002 and have been in absolute wedded bliss ever since. God brought me an angel -- my wife -- for whom I am eternally grateful. I couldn't ask for anyone better than my wife. Because of this blessing, I have dedicated my married life to loving my wife beyond her greatest expectations. It is my goal to be extolling the virtues of my angel until the day I die and am taken to my Lord.

I am currently a student. But more properly, I should say that, I am an eternal student. I am always studying this or that. While I am currently working on my MBA degree, I also pursue personal areas of study. These include the first century Roman Empire, the U.S. Civil War, U.S. Cold War history and foreign policy, warrior cultures throughout the world, and anything else intriguing that comes along.

I am a soldier. I served just over 11 years in both the active duty Army and the Army Reserves. I left the Army in 1997 as a Staff Sergeant (E-6). I was a Polish linguist and an intelligence analyst. During my service, I worked in an infantry battalion, a psychological operations battalion, the U.S. Army Special Operations Command, and at the Defense Intelligence Agency. I am extremely proud of my service.

I am a graphic designer. I love bring creative images to live through graphic design. I primarily use the Adobe suite of design software for my work. But I occasionally use Macromedia Flash as well. You can view some of my work at DeviantArt.

I am originally from Cincinnati, OH, although I currently live in Louisville, KY. I graduated from Miami University with a B.A. in Diplomacy & Foreign Affairs. I began a master's degree in international relations and political theory (with emphasis on democratization and regime change), but interrupted my studies to take a paid internship with Congressman Rob Portman.

This should at least give you some idea of where I am coming from and, to some extent, where I am going. I will field questions (selectively) from the peanut gallery.
 

Reason Not Required

By GotDesign

To my mind, the most bothersome issue in American politics today is the absence of reason. When I was pursuing a master's degree (in international relations and political theory), one the first things I learned about international relations (but is extremely useful at the national level), is that political dialog is only possible when all parties involved are rational actors. "Rational Actors" is a fancy term that means the all parties are reasonable and act in accordance with an understood rationale. While you may not agree, you can at least understand their thinking process. Another condition for political dialog is that all parties will act in good faith. A participant in the dialog is expected to be true to their word and follow through on promises/agreements.

As I look at the political landscape today, I find that the leftists in the Democratic Party have abandoned the basic tenets of political dialog. These leftists are no longer "rational actors." The most damning proof of this statement is that accusation is now considered conclusive without the burden of proof. I cannot tell you how many times I have heard the Bush Administration compared to Germany during the Nazi era. No one that I've heard of has ever given any proofs for this statement. The Nazi Party collected political adversaries and put them into the first concentration camps, banned art and literature that promotes values/viewpoints contrary to the sanctioned orthodoxy and, of course, the collection and extermination of Jews, gypsies, and other ethnic groups. Nowhere in the United States do you see any of these activities. And no leftist has given any example to bolster their assertions.


I was recently at dinner with my in-laws, when my mother-in-law made comments disparaging the Bush Administration for practically everything. When I asked for facts to back the assertions, none were given. In fact, I was accused of being a Bush advocate irrespective of the facts. She basically said that I would support Bush regardless of any facts to the contrary. This hurt me personally. I expressed my anger and disappointment by saying, "I can't believe you think so little of me." I have spent much of my adult life pursuing truth. Basing my conservatism on reason and being open to the truth above all opinions. Later, after dinner, my mother-in-law tried to apologize by saying "we intellectuals don't get mad when discussing politics." While I know she probably didn't mean it to come out that way, she basically implied that I was not among the "intellectuals" because of my reaction. I think the only reason I got this attempt at conciliation was because I was her son-in-law. I can understand where this comes from. It is a combination of that fact that my in-laws are traditional Democrats (who are Democrats before anything else) and they are university staff. I'm sure that political discussions among the "intellectuals" she referred to consisted of anti-conservative commentary followed by copious amounts of handshakes and nodding heads. But still, my basic point remains -- no evidence to back any assertions.

Probably the most egregious display of lack of rationality is the talk of Blue State secession. Democrats lose an election and they start talking of seceding from the union? Please! At least the South had a valid (but not acceptable) reason for seceding from the union in 1861 -- the link between slavery and the southern economy. But seceding because the Republicans gained control over the Presidency and Congress? Come on! The world is not ending. Get on with life. Work within the system.

The other reason I say the leftist Democrats are no longer "rational actors" is the "I have a plan" mentality of the Kerry Campaign. Throughout the campaign, and it has been well documented (I will provide example upon request), Senators Kerry and Edwards have made campaign promises to various constituent groups on both sides of a given issue. "I voted for the 87 billion...before I voted against it." The debate was filled with language which could be interpreted as leaning both ways on any given issue. You could not be assured that the leftist Democrats will follow through on any given campaign promise/agreement.

It is a sorry state of affairs. I wish we could turn back the clock at least 40-50 years in terms of the rationality of political debate. I don't agree with people like Jack or Bobby Kennedy, Lyndon Johnson, or other 1950s-60s Democrats, but I could at least count on rational arguments being made.

UPDATE:
My mother-in-law has recently exchanged e-mails with my wife. She is displaying some degree of remorse for the misunderstanding we had at dinner. But she still doesn't understand why I got mad. This only confirms my conclusion that words and argument have little meaning. My mother-in-law, like so many liberals today, will say things and have no understanding of the possible interpretations of their statements. Afterward, they question "why would you take offense at that?" Therefore, I try, as much as possible, not to speak without an understanding of the point I'm trying to get across. For this reason, I often can be quite verbose -- for clarity's sake. But there is a growing community of those who would rather be right (or believe they are right) than clear...or even understood.

 

Physician, Heal Thyself!

By GotDesign
I just picked this up from World Magazine Blog. Two Episcopal priests in Downingtown, PA led "druidic activities" by creating druidic liturgies for the church. It was bad enough when the Episcopal church decided to ignore the Bible and appoint a Gay bishop within the church. Adding to the problem, the local bishop will not suspend or further discipline the two priests. The local parish (to its credit) asked one of the priests to resign and the priest complied.

As Christians, we must continue to hold ourselves up to the standards of Biblical truth. The Bible, in both Old and New Testaments, speaks very unequivocably about both homosexuality and the participation in cults and extra-biblical religions. Just remember, people, if you're not sure, go straight back to the Bible. If you need help, send me an e-mail.
 

They Also Serve...

By GotDesign

I want to take a moment, like so many other bloggers, to remember our veterans. Being a veteran myself, I have a few particulars I want to address.

First, let us remember the level of sacrifice and service being given by the men and women of our armed services. Jesus once said that there was no greater love than that exhibited by someone who would willingly sacrifice his/her life for a friend. How much more so when the sacrifice is being made for complete strangers and foreigners? Men and women currently serving in the Army, Navy, Marines and Air Force join the long line of heroes of the past who have "given the last full measure of devotion" to a grateful nation (and sometimes an ungrateful nation). They don't do this for recognition or for pay (definitely not for the pay). Deep in the hearts of the American Armed services beats a refrain for freedom and selfless service.

Praise be to God, the Author of Freedom, for the selfless service and sacrifice of the men and women of the Armed Services of the United States of America -- the Champions of Freedom.

I also want to bring special notice the Reserve and National Guard components of our Armed Services. Some would say, "they're only reservists/national guardsmen." They would disparage Reservists and National Guardsmen. And in the past, there may have been reason. But today's Reservists and National Guardsmen are no less noble than their brothers and sisters on active duty. I spent a majority of my service in the Army Reserves. While I was not called upon to serve in any of the recent conflicts (Panama, Gulf War, Balkans, Somalia, Afghanistan, Iraq), I was called to be ready for deployment at a moment's notice. I served in a reserve unit that was part of the Special Operations Command and was therefore required to maintain a greater level of readiness, both physically and occupationally. For instance, I was required to meet a higher standard of physical fitness than that of most active duty servicemen. I was also required, among other things, to complete a 10 km ruck march (with a 70 lb ruck sack and full battle gear) in under 2 hours (my best time was around 50 min.). So don't poo poo Reservists and National Guardsmen. John Milton once wrote, "They also serve who only stand and wait." While I'm not sure of the context of the poem in which this line was written, but it certainly applies to our Reservists and Guardsmen.

Praise be to God for the brave and ready men and women of Reserve and National Guard components of the Armed Services. Standing in the gap and prepared to join the battle for Freedom.

 

Thank You Very Much

By GotDesign
I just got back from Selma, NC [panting heavily]. It was a long and tiring drive. Six hundred twenty-five miles.

I want to thank GBW, Sue Bob and everyone else who has been praying for me and my wife's family.

Thank you all very much.
 

On the Road

By GotDesign
I will be on the road for the next several days and will not be posting. My wife's grandfather passed away on Saturday, so we're headed to North Carolina. If you're the prayin' kind, please be praying for my wife and I as we travel and for the Aycock family in this time of loss.

Grace & Peace,
Aaron
 

Why the Democrats Can't Win

By GotDesign
I was surfing the Blogosphere and came across this article linked at Drudge. It seems that the Democrats have lost 5 out of the last 7 elections because the "right wing...cultivate[s] and exploit[s] ignorance in the citizenry." In other words, you're too stupid to make informed decisions and you've fallen into the web of deceit and lies of the vast right wing conspiracy. Jane Smiley spends the rest of her article talking about how the American electorate is ignorant because they:

1. Are filled with blood lust -- citing a riot in the 1860s (despite the fact that Republicans were abolitionists and Democrats favored maintaining slavery -- see her article)
2. Are religious
3. Name callers -- you are ... a bad lot, join our side
4. Promote continued ignorance

Okay. So we (conservatives/Republicans) are name callers? We're filled with condescention? But you, Ms. Smiley, can lift us from our ignorance? Shall we just get in line, then?

To cast this as a "black pot and kettle" situation gives way too much credence to her argument. I can't believe that people can think like this.
 

Ding Dong, The Witch is Dead?

By GotDesign
Conflicting reports are comming out of France that Yasser Arafat may be dead. Israeli news agencies cite unnamed hospital sources for claiming that Arafat is, at least, brain-dead. But Palestinian Prime Minister Ahmed Qurie claims that Arafat is not dead, but remains in ICU.

In similar news, reports are coming out of Russia claiming that Leonid Brzhnev is feeling a little under the weather.

But seriously, if Arafat is dead...good! Maybe now Israel and Palestine can make some progress towards peace. But as long as the leadership of Palestine continue to pursue the annihilation of the Jewish state of Israel, there will be no peace. Hopefully, a more moderate Palestinian will come to power there and put this conflict to rest.

UPDATE
Well, Arafat is not quite dead yet. But maybe he won't be long?
 

Patriot Act -- The Truth

By GotDesign
In my attempts to debate left-leaning individuals, invariably they complain about the Patriot Act. Some even take the unreasonable (and indefensible) position that President Bush has turned the U.S. into a state similar to Nazi Germany. So, in an effort to present the facts to those who have no desire to do the research to support their assertions, here is The Patriot Act Reader prepared by the Heritage Foundation. This link points to a page where a brief summary is given and provides a link to download a PDF of the 49-page document. Those who value truth will appreciate it.