Just A Guy

Just A Guy

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Much - and Too Little - Ado About Race

Two bits of news yesterday showed with stark clarity just how wrapped up in race are many in this nation: a cartoon that showed two police officers standing over a recently deceased chimp and asking who'll write the next stimulus bill now that the monkey's dead, and newly installed US Attorney General Eric Holder saying that America is "a nation of cowards" with respect to race relations.

The cartoon generated all sorts of controversy, with the majority of public quotes ranging from "open racism by the cartoonist" to "tone-deaf" failure to realize "what people would think". Race-baiters and those who spend their lives waiting to be offended by something immediately assumed the chimp was supposed to be President Obama and made the "racist" connection right away ("racists think blacks look like monkeys, yadda yadda yadda"). Those same people apparently aren't smart enough (or didn't pay enough attention in Government class) to know that the President doesn't legislate, the Congress does - and in this particular case, the President mainly did a "me too" on the bill, suggesting some stuff (or stuffing) after it got to the White House - so calling the monkey an Obama stand-in just points out the ignorance of the critics.

The cartoon, it seems obvious to me, was intended to say a well trained chimp could write a better bill. Seems to me that’s a recognized and oft-used put-down that has absolutely zilch to do with race. As to the “tone-deaf” quote, that depends on whether you acknowledge the "people are racists" tune, doesn’t it?

As to Holder's disgusting comments, I'm offended, as somebody who was raised in the Air Force and by my parents to be color-blind, to be lectured by this race-baiting AG - uh, the FIRST BLACK Attorney General, appointed by the FIRST BLACK US President. Is there anything more morally and ethically offensive than to have this beneficiary of a selection process established in a "nation of laws, not of men", smugly lecture the public that our Constitutionally protected freedom to associate with whomever we wish makes us cowards if we don't intentionally associate (which is different from intentionally not associating) with others of different hues outside the workplace? I reject his premise that, to the extent this "voluntary social segregation" occurs, it results from cowardice. Mr Holder, as a public servant and a public figure, keep your personal opinions to yourself in these matters. And try to work up a little open-mindedness, willya?

Monday, February 16, 2009

...But Who's Counting? The Census Scam.

After a long (in terms of stuff I hadda do) weekend, I'm getting back to reviewing the Obama administration's growing list of remarkable (a descriptive, not an approbation) initiatives. Today's jaw-dropper is the stated intent to bring oversight of the 2010 census into the White House; specifically, into the office of Rahm Emanuel, perhaps the most partisan Chief of Staff in American history and one who unabashedly starts with, rather than resorting to, the politics of personal destruction to accomplish his team's objectives. Another example of the pathologic need for control of all aspects of life in America, this is a bald-faced power grab to ensure the census numbers permit Emanuel, et al to redraw demographic population lines so that Democrat candidates have the advantage in every district.

Nobody except Obama and Emanuel and their henchmen has said this is a good idea. Even other Democrats are saying this blurs the lines between politics and legitimate information gathering. Does that matter to this administration? Apparently not. As for decades past, the acquisition and retention of power by liberals trumps all other considerations.

I'm willing to listen to an explanation of why it's a good idea to put control of the census inside the White House. Anybody? Buehler?

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Blind Hogs and Acorns - Alinsky's Rules

"[T]he answer I gave the young radicals seemed to me the only realistic one: 'Do one of three things. One, go find a wailing wall and feel sorry for yourselves. Two, go psycho and start bombing—but this will only swing people to the right. Three, learn a lesson. Go home., organize, build power and at the next convention, you be the delegates.'" - Saul Alinsky, Rules For Radicals.

I can't believe I'm quoting the man whose ideas about what the United States of America should be are as diametrically opposed to my own as it is possible to be. Here's the problem: the conservative movement in this country has been co-opted by those we sent up to Washington to represent our conservative values. At best, with few exceptions, they have become a part of the system that the '94 conservative waxing of Democrat incumbents was supposed to rout: earmarking, pet projects, kowtowing to lobbyists and special interests, "big government". At worst, they have sold us out, more interested in power and prestige than in public service. I'm having trouble seeing the baby for the bath water.

Is Ayers right? Except for "left" in the above quote, his advice to the young idealists of the Eugene McCarthy/Bobby Kennedy crowd could apply very well to those of us who are pushed to the breaking point by the fecklessness and, yes, betrayal that is the majority of our current crop of Republicans: cry about it, get violent, or "organize, build power and" be the delegates. The first two are completely unhelpful and fly in the face of all that is America. The third just may be the only way to reclaim conservatism and the "servant" part of "public servant". Oh, and my personal opinion is that nobody should be allowed to be a member of Congress for more than eight years. When people have to go back home for good in a finite time frame, they may be less likely to "go native" in Washington.

And We Pay These People For What?

It seems the United States Congress has once again leapt before it looked. Even if I believed in government bailouts of foolish private industries, the "stimulus" bill that passed the Senate yesterday contains exceedingly more government growth money than private business stimulus money. What sickens me is that I'm not confident that a single Senator who voted for this bill actually read the bill before voting. The vast majority simply voted for it because it's a short term fix for which they can claim credit (no pun intended, but certainly apropos) with the local rubes when they go home for an undeserved break. Others voted for it because they bought into the administration's hype that the world as we know it would end if our grandchildren and their children didn't throw money at the problem right now.

Understand, the Obama administration has no lock on fearmongering: the bailout bill of September last was also a knee-jerk, fear-driven reaction to a problem created partially by private industry running before the whip of Barney Frank and his ilk, who demanded loan money be provided to people with no business committing to a mortgage. Rather than simply letting processes already in place (the Bankruptcy Code) work to resolve the looming personal and business financial failures, a majority of both houses of Congress listened to Chicken Little and vomited out an ill-considered and unmonitored $700 billion.

If all it takes to be a congressman is voting on stuff you haven't read, on the advice of people who have no intention of giving you information that might dissuade you, I say we should just rotate the congressional seat among us. Send whoever's next up there to raise his or her hand at the appropriate time. Of course, we could avoid the bother just by training a few chimps to do so. At times, I think we'd be better off...

The Republicans, with the exception of the three typical traitors, voted properly against the Senate bill. My good friend Charlie Gonzalez (D-Tex), for whom I have great personal respect and with whom I disagree on almost everything politically, and Ciro Rodriguez (D-Tex), who appears to be nothing more than a MALDEF/Dem party hack, both voted for the House version. My prayer is that each will be held accountable for the vote he or she cast. But I'm not hopeful.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Of Willages and Wittamins

My church sponsored an event called Global Impact Celebration last week, in which missionaries from around the world came and visited with various groups at this 6000-member congregation, to give a glimpse into the life of a Christian missionary. It was, to say the least, enlightening.

Some of the missionaries were Americans, sent by various "sending agencies" to preach the gospel and plant churches in places like Thailand, Colombia, Costa Rica and (don't get ahead of me) France. Others are indigenous missionaries in, to name a few, Mexico, Pakistan, Ukraine, Cambodia (Kampuchea, as he informed us - "nobody in Cambodia knows what Cambodia is"). We listened in various venues as these missionaries, some in fluent but very strongly accented English, told of the roads they had traveled in bringing Christianity to places that had never heard of Jesus, or had no idea who He is. Suffice it to say, persecution - loss of job, social ostracism and, yes death - is alive and well throughout the world.

Though the relating of horrendous torture, long treks through frozen tundra, threats from Al Quaeda and simple (!) bureaucratic nightmares gave me pause - and cause to really admire these pioneers, the story that seems to me most tragic is the situation in Europe. I had a long conversation with Jim Biese, the area director for the Mission Society of United Methodists' European mission field. I could tell he'd heard the "tough job, having to live in Paris" quip more than once. Unlike the missionaries who take the gospel to people who have never heard of Jesus Christ, Jim spent over eight years trying to open dialogue with people who have seen the Church and rejected it: a "post-Christian" society, full of cynical people who think they know what Christianity is and have no use for it. They've grown beyond needing a spiritial placebo, they're arrogant in their self-reliance, they view believers as weak, ignorant people who cling to religion (does that sound familiar?) because they can't face the "real world".

How tragic. How (see my Carlin blog from a few days ago) unutterably sad. This is not the hot rage of Pakistani taleban or the ignorant indifference of Thai bhuddist materialists, this is cold, "reasoned" rejection of religion in any form. I am reminded of the parable of the evil spirit that is cast out, then returns to find the house swept clean and moves back in with more evil spirits: nothing good replaced the evil, and now the house is worse off than it was before the casting out occurred. My heart breaks for Europe, for those sophisticates who are so supremely self-confident that they blind themselves to both the physical threat of increasing numbers of Muslim immigrants with no wish to assimilate, and to the the eternal danger of an emptiness unfilled by the only One who can give them what they lack: wholeness and peace.

Friday, February 6, 2009

The Bloom Is Already Off The Rose

"On Thursday, the White House conceded that the husband of Labor Secretary-nominee Hilda Solis this week paid about $6,400 to settle tax liens on his business that had been outstanding for as long as 16 years. The Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee postponed a confirmation hearing after the news broke." - Wall Street Journal, 6 Feb 09.

"[President Obama] may have to change from an open hand to a closed fist" to get Republicans in the Senate to fall in line - George Stephanopoulis in an interview with Christ Cuomo, 6 Feb 09

Obama spent a good bit of his speech last light heaping scorn, derision and ridicule on Republicans simply because they've called him to account for some of the ludicrous spending in the proposed "stimulus" bill presently before the Senate.

This from the man who can't seem to find anyone qualified for public appointment who hasn't flouted the tax laws his branch of government is charged with enforcing.

This from the man who was touted as being the first "post-partisan president" when he was running.

This from the man who promised to have the most ethical administration in history.

Two weeks in, and he's already been reduced from "The Messiah" to a Chicago hack politician pulling out the truncheons against those who disagree with him. It's going to be a long four years for this President.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

The Tragedy of George Carlin

Last night, I watched the Kennedy Center show honoring (posthumously) George Carlin. A truly brilliant, insightful, funny comedian, Carlin's bits over his 40 year career in standup were introduced by a number of comedians and I thoroughly enjoyed the chuckles down memory lane.

Until the next-to-last presenter: Bill Maher, the smirking, rabidly liberal former funnyman who is not only a professed atheist, but virulently anti-religious. Maher referred to a line he used to use in his standup, before he "saw the light and realized how stupid and awful religion was and that there is no God" (a paraphrase, admittedly): "suicide is like telling God, 'You can't fire me, I quit!'". Actually, a tragically funny bit. Maher then introduced Carlin's bit about shrinking the 10 Commandments down to 2, and it became obvious that the late George Carlin was a complete atheist. Not a smirking, small-time-bully atheist like Maher, but a cold, calculating unbeliever. The bit wasn't funny - in fact, putting this piece of Carlin's life last in the presentation left me unutterably sad for him. Sad that he hated religious institutions, sad that he rejected the Creator who gave him life, intellect and amazing creativity. But sad mostly because all these people were celebrating the life of someone who denied the very existence of the Giver of Life, and who found out after it was too late that "even the demons acknowledge that Jesus is Lord - and tremble".

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

"I Am Not A Role Model", revisited

Since my screed yesterday, Michael Phelps has not suffered any loss of income from the revelation that he's a pothead; however, as I write this, I just heard that Tom Daschle has withdrawn his name from consideration - this after the White House press secretary yesterday excused Daschle with a "nobody's perfect" explanation for his failure to pay six figures worth of taxes until after he was offered the job of Secretary of Health and Human Services. To his credit, President Obama took the blame for making the nomination, saying, "I screwed up". Regardless of my distaste for the choice of words from a sitting President, his actions in taking responsibility for the Daschle nomination, and that of his original nominee for the new post of "chief performance officer" (who also had tax problems), are commendable.

At the risk of a charge of piling on, I'll go ahead and make the point at which I was originally aiming (before the Daschle announcement): What does it say to our children when people who are role models because they achieved the recognition and fame they sought, suffer no consequences when their intentional bad acts are brought to light? Remember Charles Barkley saying, "I am not a role model"? Well, guess what? If people see you in a particular role, if you're in the public eye, you're a role model. Tough if you don't like it. As a litigator, I've seen what a bad witness can do to a case. That doesn't mean the witness wasn't a witness, it just means his word isn't worth much.

If there's a nugget here, it's this: to paraphrase General George S. Patton: "You're always on parade." People who seek the limelight need to be prepared to face the consequences of their poor decisions. Or as Christ puts it, "What you do in the dark will be seen in the light"

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Of Tattoos and Absolution

The sermon yesterday morning at my church contained a story about one of our younger parishioners getting a tattoo, told by the pastor who accompanied him to the tattoo parlor. A good story about where our parish is - the world - but it led to discussion at lunch about why tattoos have become so popular among young people (I'd go with "a blight on the landscape", but hey...) in the last several years. I contend it's because young people are being taught that no action has permanent consequences and that if they screw up, they can just reset the clock and start over (laser removal, that handy-dandy creme that some tat artist is hawking on TV - never mind that laser HURTS and the creme won't get it all).

A little bit of a stretch, you say, to equate tattoos with the larger refusal to take responsibility for our conduct? Let's consider:

1. Not one, not two, but THREE Obama administration nominees for Cabinet posts have very recently paid long-overdue back taxes, said, "Oops - sorry..." and it was as though it never happened. One has been confirmed, two (Tom Daschle and Eric Holder) are just waiting for the call.

2. How many sports figures (I'm thinking of "Pac Man" Jones, Kobe Bryant, any number of professional hockey players) have done heinous things or just been all around bad people and been told, "All is forgiven" and permitted to pursue their careers and make obscene amounts of money because, no matter how insincere the apology, they're dealt absolution "for the good of the game." Thank God Pete Rose is still in the doghouse.

3. Barney Frank letting his homosexual lover run a prostitution ring out of his Congressional office, Ted Kennedy's cowardice at Chappaquiddick, insert name here whose extramarital affair was discovered, apologized for and swept aside at no loss to career or reputation...

There are, of course, the occasional exceptions (mostly Republicans and church leaders) who are made to account for their misdeeds (Blago, Ted Haggard, Larry Craig, Ted Stevens - three of the four have refused to admit any wrongdoing even in the face of overwhelming evidence), but generally, we've been telling the last 2 generations that no bad action will carry permanent consequences. Hence, getting a tattoo is just "expressing yourself", cheating and getting caught are solved with an apology, substance abuse is just experimentation - that's healthy, right?

We are raising a generation that doesn't understand that actions have consequences, and forgiveness is not intended to shield them from the consequences of their actions. They've seen over and over again that what their parents taught about having the face the consequences doesn't apply to everybody and "isn't fair".

**Update that proves my point - Drudge this morning has links to stories about Jennifer Hudson lip-synching the National Anthem at last night's Super Bowl (her agent says there's just too much chance of a screwup if she does it live - hunh?), the Daschle debacle (he's sorry), and Michael Phelps getting caught smoking dope with a bong and apologizing for his youthful hijinks. I WEEP for this generation!