Friday, June 29, 2007

Fred Thompson Law & Order Marathon

God Bless the USA Network. First they give us awesome shows like Monk and The 4400. And today they are capitalizing on Fred Thompson's future run for President. All day they've been showing reruns of the Special Victims Unit and Criminal Intent versions of the Law & Order franchise. And all the episodes have on thing in common: Fred Thompson appears.

Now Thompson is a regular on the original Law & Order, but he has apparently made a lot of appearances on the other shows as well. I had the day off, so I've had this marathon on in the background while I do other things.

Good stuff.

Friday, June 15, 2007

Haggard Hero of the Week: Dr. Donald Messer

There was an interesting story in the Argus about a former Sioux Falls pastor. He has dedicated his life to helping the people around the world who are suffering from hunger and AIDS.

As a student at Dakota Wesleyan University, 46 years ago, Donald Messer spent his junior year in India where he helped at a leprosy clinic.

In 1995, he returned to India, where he learned the once-dreaded disease of leprosy had been replaced by something even more feared: AIDS.

A friend from college days, now a doctor in India, shared a puzzlement. When he worked with lepers, he told Messer, the church was in the forefront. With AIDS, the church wanted nothing to do with the victims it labeled as immoral.

"I had to deliver the bad theological news that that's the way it is everywhere in the world, that's the way the church has responded typically because the church can't deal with human sexuality," Messer said.

Read the whole article, it's very interesting. I've always been taught that we're supposed to follow Christ's teachings and one of the biggest things he taught us was to help the sick. So I'm surprised that some Christians seem to ignore the plight of people suffering from AIDS.

It shouldn't matter how someone got sick. What should matter is that they are suffering and we are supposed to do what we can to help them.

So God Bless Dr. Messer for his wonderful work.

Massachusetts Votes to Protect Equality

The Massachusetts state legislature just voted to turn down a proposed ban on gay marriage.

(CBS) BOSTON Massachusetts lawmakers have blocked a proposed constitutional
amendment banning gay marriage from reaching voters.

The 45-151 vote means Massachusetts remains the only state in the nation to
allow same-sex couples to marry. The question needed the approval of 50 of 200
lawmakers in consecutive sessions to advance to the 2008 ballot. It got the
first approval at the end of last session in January with 62 votes.

It's a stunning victory for gay marriage advocates and a devastating blow
to efforts to reverse a historic 2003 court ruling legalizing same-sex

As the tally was announced, the halls of the Statehouse erupted in cheers
and applause from supporters of gay marriage gathered outside the House
chambers."We're proud of our state today, and we applaud the Legislature for
showing that Massachusetts is strongly behind fairness," said Lee Swislow,
executive director of Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders.

"Equality for gay and lesbian citizens has enriched our state, made our
communities stronger, and our families happier," Swislow said. "The vote today
was the triumph of time, experience, and understanding over fear and

A complaint I see from the anti-gay marriage side is that this move won't allow the people of Mass. to have their say. But I believe they did. Last November, the citizens of Massachusetts voted a lot of anti-gay marriage legislators out of office and replaced them with pro-gay marriage ones. Plus, they voted in a pro-gay marriage governor. So today's vote actually reflected the will of the voters.

And I ran across an interesting story about one of the legislators who changed his mind for the 2nd vote and voted against the ban. Apparently he was being pulled in two directions:

In one corner of Representative Paul Kujawski's mind is the Rev. Michael
Roy, a friend and confidant who stood by the lawmaker after he was arrested for
drunken driving three years ago and who is urging him to continue supporting a
proposed ban on same-sex marriage to preserve the sanctity of heterosexual

In the other corner are Sharon and Deb, a lesbian couple from Kujawski's
district who recently met him and hope to change his mind. They told him how
hard it was to come out to their conservative Catholic families and community
and how winning the right to marry, after more than 20 years together, seemed to
solidify their union.

Right there is proof that gays being allowed to marry is a positive thing. And here's more:

Rep. Paul Kujawski, D-Webster, also changed his vote. Kujawski said he
voted against the proposed referendum today after he met with many same-sex
couples and concluded they want the freedom to enjoy life with one another, just
like traditional couples.

"They didn't ask to be born that way," Kujawski said. "They are who
they are."

And finally I wanted to point out a quote from Human Rights Campaign President Joe Solmonese.

“Today’s vote is a reaffirmation of Massachusetts’ proud record of choosing
equality over discrimination. For the past three years, loving and committed
same-sex couples have enjoyed the equal right to marry in Massachusetts. Despite
the doomsday predictions of opponents of equality, the sky hasn’t fallen, and no
one’s marriage has been threatened. To the contrary, the institution of marriage
has been strengthened as same-sex couples and their families have enjoyed the
equal rights and protections they deserve under Massachusetts law. The
Legislature’s action ensures that they will continue to enjoy those equal rights
and protections.”
So congragulations for the Mass. state legislature for coting to protect marriage freedom. God Bless America!

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Tom Daschle and Bill Frist Team Up to Fight Poverty

Our state's former senator, Tom Daschle, is in the news again. This time, he's teaming up with former Republican senator Bill Frist with the ONE Vote '08 campaign.

WASHINGTON, June 11 — Two former Senate leaders who were once fierce adversaries, Bill Frist and Tom Daschle, joined together Monday to promote a bipartisan effort to make global poverty a central issue of the 2008 presidential race.

“It is in the strategic and national interest of the United States of America,” said Mr. Frist, a Republican and former Senate majority leader from Tennessee. “People do not go to war with people who save their children’s lives.”

Both Democratic and Republican presidential candidates will be asked to sign a pledge in the fall saying they will offer proposals to fight H.I.V./AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria, improve children’s health in other ways, increase access to education, provide access to clean water and reduce by half the number of people who suffer from hunger.

“Through the extraordinary challenge we now have, it is incumbent upon all of us to recognize that this must be a key part of American foreign policy,” said Mr. Daschle, a Democrat and former Senate majority leader from South Dakota.

It's very cool to see both Daschle and Frist come together and use their political clout for a common cause. It's also nice that they are bringing together people from both sides of the political spectrum. I've seen liberal and conservative bloggers discussing a meeting/conference call they've had recently with Daschle, Frist, the ONE Campaign and Ben Affleck. Both sides seem to be very receptive to the idea, which is also nice to see.

ONE Vote '08 is supporting a 5-goal plan that they want the presidential candidates to support:

5 Achievable Goals

1. Save 15,000 lives a day by fighting HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria,
three of the world's most devastating diseases.
2. Prevent 5.4 million young children from dying each year from
poverty-related illnesses and 400,000 women from dying in childbirth each
3. Provide free access to primary education for 77 million out-of-school
children with a special emphasis on girls.
4. Improve the living conditions of vulnerable populations by, for example,
providing access to clean water for 450 million people and basic sanitation to
more than 700 million people.
5. Reduce by half the number of people in the world who suffer from hunger,
resulting in 300 million "fewer" hungry people each year.

I think this is really great and I look forward to hearing more from Daschle and this campaign.

Fred Thompson vs. Al Gore in 2008?

It amuses me that with all the candidates already in the race to become president, people still want to bring in more. Fred Thompson and Al Gore have been in the Top 5 list of candidates for months and they're not even in the race (though Thompson is making motions in that direction).

And what does it say about the current crop of candidates when outsiders are polling better than some of them? What does it say about Sen. Sam Brownback when people think Thompson is a better conservative than he is?

If Al Gore and Fred Thompson ultimately end up with the nominations, I will laugh. That would make all these debates 18 months before the election pretty useless if none of those candidates are going to get the nomination.

I Agree With Ken Blanchard

I'm in complete agreement with a post Prof. Ken Blanchard made today on the South Dakota Politics blog.

I agree with him that Severus Snape, from the Harry Potter books, is not evil. Like Blanchard said, Snape is a "son of a bitch." And he has no problem abusing his position to get revenge for all the pain Harry's dad caused him in the past. But while he may be a jerk, that doesn't make him evil.

A reoccurring theme throughout the books is that whenever something bad happens at Hogwarts, Harry and his friends always assume Snape was involved. They were always proven incorrect, but that was all set up for the end of the sixth book. Now it appears that Snape truly has gone to the dark side. But has he really?

Blanchard also talks about Dumbledore's pleading with Snape. But he wasn't pleading with Snape to spare him. He was pleading for him to do something. What was that something? Maybe he was supposed to spare Draco Malfoy from becoming a murderer? Maybe it's about something that hasn't happened yet? Whatever it is, we'll find out in Book 7 next month.

Monday, June 04, 2007

Thoughts on the Democratic Debate

I decided not to live blog tonight's Democratic Party debate in New Hampshire. I was busy doing something else, but I had the debate on in the background. So I thought I would just post some thoughts I had as the debate was happening. (And I might try live blogging again for the Republican debate... because it's fun to tease them live).


1.) During the audience question segment, four teachers and a student asked questions but none asked about education. Gov. Richardson finally brought up education during the final seconds of the debate... but that was it? To me, education is a very important issue. I want to know what these candidate plan to do to fix the education system (especially the damage from No Child Left Behind). I know Iraq is the main focus, but I hope they'll discuss education in upcoming debates.

2.) All the candidates want to get rid of the Don't Ask, Don't Tell policy. Great! That's very good to hear.

3.) Mike Gravel is a crazy, old coot. He at least made the evening somewhat entertaining.

4.) Larry King is an on-the-floor reporter for the aftermath? Wow, it seems weird to see him away from his desk.

5.) I continue to like Barak Obama. He's a smart guy and makes a lot of good, well-thought-out points. I like that he fleshed out his idea of rolling back President Bush's tax cuts for the rich. He did a great job with that.

6.) Hilary Clinton had a couple of great jokes tonight. They came when she was talking about President Bush's failure of diplomacy. She mentioned that every once in a while, Bush will send Condi Rice around to other countries on diplomatic missions, but she doubts they have any substance to them. And then she mentioned Vice President Dick Cheney going on diplomatic missions and how that is "hardly diplomatic" in her view. That made me chuckle.

7.) The candidates kept hammering the idea that the Iraq War is President Bush's war and how he doesn't care about public opinion or how many American lives his war destroys. That's going to continue to be their best strategy.

8.) Joe Bidon raised some interesting points, especially when it came to his vote for the Iraq spending bill last month.

9.) Health care was almost as big of an issue as the Iraq war in this debate. That was interesting. I wasn't listening close enough to remember which candidate has which position, but they all seemed to be interested in giving health insurance to those who need it. Richardson had some interesting ideas that he seems to have already experimented with in New Mexico.

10.) Also interesting was the discussion of the VA hospitals and how they get a much better deal on medication than other hospitals do.

11.) One of the commentators in the aftermath discussion mentioned that he though Hillary Clinton looked "presidential." And they mention that the other candidates seem to be looking to her for leadership. Interesting.

12.) Obama brought up how President Bush let Osama Bin Laden get away because he let himself get distracted by going to Iraq (a country that had nothing to do with Bin Laden's attack on 9/11). Good to hear.

Those are my thoughts right now. I'll probably think of some more after I sleep on it.