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Saturday, May 29, 2004  

The Lone Nader.  Nader is going to make it to the Presidential election, but it's an uphill battle for him—not because he isn't the best candidate, but really because of the incredible inertia of our ridiculously awkward, biased electoral process. I've complained before about how Duverger's law has resulted in a two-party system in the US, not because we have two outstanding parties vying for representative posts in government. So every third-party (or fourth-party, fifth-party, etc.) candidate will have to walk the same steep hill.

We've reached a point where it isn't the best candidate who gets on the ballot, but who has the most special-interest money behind him or her. I've pretty much given up on the Libertarian party because it could never get its act together for a presidential race; after suffering through performances by the Christian poseur George W. Bush, there isn't much chance that I'll be voting Republican in the near future; Bill Clinton helped to sour me on the Democratic Party and losing Dean as a candidate didn't endear the party to me any further. So the forthcoming election is going to be a hair-pulling event for many people. And Nader isn't going to make it there unless his gravity beats their gravity. He won't be on the ballot as a Green Party candidate (although the party may endorse him) and he won't go in as a Reform Party candidate (although that party has already endorsed him). Nader is going strictly independent, making the hill even steeper.

It doesn't help Nader's efforts that the Democrats are closing ranks to keep him off the ballot. Time magazine reports this week that a poll has Nader pulling in 7% of the vote in Arizona, also reporting that the state Democratic party there has assembled a team of lawyers to examine every single signature on his ballot application. The state chairman, Jim Pederson, even goes so far as to utter this outrageous statement: "This vote is about George Bush and John Kerry, and we think it distorts the entire electoral process to have his name on the ballot." [Time, May 31, 2004, p. 37]  Alas, it distorts the entire electoral process to keep him off the ballot, and the two-party system we see is not a result of choice: it is the result of Americans' failure to vote for what their reason and hearts suggest. That is, if they get off the couch and vote in the first place.

posted by Merle Harton Jr. | 3:18 PM |

Free sex.  Yesterday Reuters reported that a Zambian man committed suicide after his wife caught him in a love embrace with a chicken and he was admonished by his neighbors in the village. I mention this because it bears directly on an important issue with homosexuality and its standing outside of God's purpose.

I figure that gays hate it when their sexual incidents are compared to bestiality, since the comparison suggests a mere slippery slope argument, but it really is relevant to the overall issue of choice. My point is this: There is not much that we are not free to do to gratify the physical sexual urge. Even our contemporary humor calls attention to this. Take this gag, for example:

A man is washed ashore on a desert island and must live alone with only a vicious snarling dog and a sheep. After a year of this, the man begins to look at the sheep with amorous intentions, but whenever he approaches the sheep, the dog attacks him. This goes on for several years. One day, a beautiful, sexy woman washes ashore. The man rescues her and nurses her to health. As a reward to her savior, the beautiful, sexy woman declares: "You saved my life! I will do anything for you!" The man, in response, says: "Do you think you could keep that dog over there distracted for about an hour?"

Whether it's animals, other people, apple pies, or the autoerotic deed, we always have the choice to stand outside of the purpose God has established for the natural, approved, sanctified expression of human sexual desire. What is lawful, what is socially acceptable, what our shifting culture says is okay—these are all irrelevant to what God approves for us. As Paul points out, "Everything is permissible for me" [1 Cor 6:23; see also 10:23]. Outside of God's will for us, there is nothing that we cannot do, as the atheistic existentialists themselves affirm; only our neighbors and the land's laws are there, like fences, to narrow the boundaries of our personal desires. Sometimes those boundaries are widened, as we see our society now doing in the case of gay marriage or, um, civil unions, but we ought not to adopt as our standard merely what is socially acceptable or what is lawful, for this is not always what God approves.

posted by Merle Harton Jr. | 12:35 PM |

Monday, May 24, 2004  

Bush gets gas.  Tonight I listened on NPR as President Bush delivered his speech to the US Army War College on his administration's plans for Iraq. It began sounding just like a busy plan for domestic improvements—except that the domestic region was not over here, but over there.

Today the average gasoline price is at a record $2.064 per gallon in the US and the reason why the President won't touch the strategic petroleum reserves is instructive. "We're at war," he said. "We face a tough and determined enemy on all fronts, and we must not put ourselves in a worse position in this war."[1]  That's how he sees himself: as a War President. "I'm a war president," he said back in February in his interview with Tim Russert on NBC's Meet the Press. "I make decisions here in the Oval Office in foreign policy matters with war on my mind."[2]  Indeed. It isn't always clear just who the enemy is in this war, but in his speech today he suggested that it was (1) a remnant of Saddam Hussein's guards who shed their uniforms and blended in with Iraqi civilians, or (2) a remnant of the Afghanistan Taliban, or both, or maybe others who oppose a representative, Western-style government in Iraq. They're all terrorists and must be defeated and they're what stand between us and the rebuilding of Iraq in our image. "We will persevere," he said, "and defeat this enemy, and hold this hard-won ground for the realm of liberty."[3]

And the "war" will go on, at least until the underlying reasons for the rush to effect a regime change in Iraq are eventually fully realized. Perhaps it was planned that way all along. In his speech today, Bush said that he sent American troops to Iraq to "defend our security," although it's still not clear why Iraq was any possible security threat to the US. "There's a psychological tendency of any people to rally round the flag when there's war and one's own [people] are dying," explained psychologist Robert Jay Lifton in a Business Week interview last week. "There's a very strong impulse to believe and commit oneself to the principle that they didn't die in vain." Oh, yeah, let's not forget peace with honor, etc.

1. The Age, May 20, 2004.
2. BBC News, February 8, 2004.
3. Reuters, May 24, 2004.

posted by Merle Harton Jr. | 9:56 PM |
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