Monday, February 28, 2005

Security: How Politicians Play Us

Ken Obenski of San Diego, in a Letter to the Editor published in LP News (Feb. ’02), that is too good not to share – especially the Mencken quote.

The great American cynic H.L. Mencken once said, “The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the public alarmed and hence clamorous to be led to safety by threatening it with an endless series of boogiemen, all of them imaginary.”

Osama bin Laden gave our politicians the ultimate boogeyman: terrorist. Terrorists are behind every tree – until you actually look there – and then they are somewhere else.

Potemkin, the Russian general who build fake villages to impress Czarina Catherine the Great, gave all politicians the ultimate tactic. To use the public’s money to put on a great show of accomplishment is far more politically useful than actually accomplishing something. After all, a problem, actually solved, has lots its boogieman potential.

Government has the perfect answer to terrorists – Potemkin-like security:

* Conspicuous TSA airport inspectors impede our travel but miss two-thirds of the contraband when tested.
* Conspicuous immigration service suspected several of the 9/11 hi-jackers but let them into the country anyway.

Ken, take it from someone who just recently passed through your local airport... you deserve a big Babka Blog “Amen.”

Thursday, February 10, 2005

The Republican's Dangerous Gun, eh no, Identity Grab

For years Republicans have been telling us, “Guns don’t kill people; people kill people.” But yesterday, during the debate on HR 418 (The Real ID Act), Deputy Majority Whip Roy Blunt (R-MO) said IDs and driver’s licenses are “weapons of mass destruction.” I’m not making this up. I witnessed it live on C-SPAN.

It’s exactly the same issue.

Some own shotguns to hunt. Others own a revolver for personal safety. A precious few own a rifle to protect us from dangerous governments – foreign and domestic.

When you consider all of the things you need an ID for... from driving, to renting a car or a room for the night, to getting a job, for buying alcohol, tobacco, and even firearms, etc. and then how a simple bureaucratic mistake can effectively turn you into a non-person, you have to conclude that Republicans wanting to toy with National IDs are at least as dangerous as Democrats wanting to restrict our gun rights.

Perhaps they don’t need to pry our guns from our cold dead hands, they can steal our identities and take away our rights by denying us the required status necessary to be a full-fledged member of society. When you consider what else Republicans want to do with this ID (and will do, because government always expands its power), you have to conclude they are even more dangerous than Democrats.

And if you are a gun rights advocate -- an NRA member -- that supported HR 418, you're your own worst nightmare.

Wednesday, February 09, 2005

One Week Ago Tonight...

Last Wednesday was Groundhog Day --and-- the State of the Union Address. As Air America Radio pointed out, it is an ironic juxtaposition. "One involves a meaningless ritual in which we look to a creature of little intelligence for prognostication, and the other involves a groundhog."

Monday, February 07, 2005

Worshipping Molech

Today, I have an op-ed published at in their “Editorials & Market Analysis” section (no direct link available at this time) called Worshipping Molech – A Partial Review of the State of the Union. Here’s an excerpt…

Molech was a pagan god in the Old Testament. Why do I bring up the Old Testament?

Because there is an odd paradox going on right in front of us: All-too-many of the folks who cheered the very brief pro-life/anti-cloning portion of Bush’s State of the Union and who claim that the O.T. is part of their scripture – their guide to life – are celebrating the sacrifice of young men and women for the god of Security.

They might as well be worshipping Molech.

Worship of Molech required people to throw one of their living children into a fire. The O.T. tells us this sacrifice was strongly condemned, for obvious reasons, by God.

But the people worshipping Molech undoubtedly believed they were serving their community. Things like the prosperity of the harvest and protection from invaders may have been deep motivators as they attempted to please their blood-thirsty god.

Apparently, the same idolatry exists today. Here is George W. Bush, from the most memorable part of his speech last night…

One name we honor is Marine Corps Sergeant Byron Norwood of Pflugerville, Texas, who was killed during the assault on Fallujah. His mom, Janet, sent me a letter and told me how much Byron loved being a Marine, and how proud he was to be on the front line against terror. Ladies and gentlemen, with grateful hearts, we honor freedom's defenders, and our military families, represented here this evening by Sergeant Norwood's mom and dad, Janet and Bill Norwood.

The presence of this couple garnered the longest ovation of the night. I ached for the couple as I watched Janet Norwood clutch her husband as hard as she could. In fact, I choked-up. I felt so sorry for these people.

I believe the only lasting memory we’ll have of this speech will have nothing to do with Social Security. We will remember that somber couple in tears, standing without their son and hardly able to stand at that.

You can call me an iconoclast, for if that means turning my back on idolatry, then I wear the label proudly.

I maintain that this was cruel and heartless. This was not a grand gesture. While the Norwood’s are sincerely attempting to find meaning in the loss of their son, the Bush administration was using them as a prop. This is the cold calculus of politics.

Not a Super Game

In the post-game hype, much will be made of the close score in last night's Super Bowl -- including the fact that this was the first-ever Super Bowl to have a tied score going into the fourth quarter. To read about it, you might be led to believe this was a great game.

But the contest never had a rhythm to it. And the Patriots offense took more than a quarter to get their motors running and even at that point they still weren't impressive -- and yet they were still in it.

The performance of Eagles QB Donovan McNabb was symptomatic of a team that was pressing too hard because they had to. When the real Patriots offense finally showed up in the second half, joining their stellar defense, we saw why they were the best team in football.

We also saw that all the desperate push the Eagles of the lowly NFC could muster just wasn’t going to be enough. If the Patriots entire team had shown up from the opening play, the game would’ve been a blowout. And the performance of the NFC Champions indicates to me that the either the Colts or the Steelers would’ve beat them if they had been there.

Despite the close score, this wasn’t a classic like, my personal favorite, XXXIV (where the Rams defeated the Titans by mere inches), or last year’s XXXVIII (Patriots v. Panthers, where a combined 37 points in the final quarter was topped off by a field goal in the last 4 seconds), or X (where Pittsburgh held on to defeat Dallas by intercepting a “Hail Mary” pass by Roger Staubach on the final play of the game).

Thursday, February 03, 2005

Groundhog Day

Today was Groundhog Day.

It was also the day of the President’s State of the Union speech.

The speech sounded a lot like the one he gave in 2003 when he lied about WMDs in Iraq. Did he merely substitute Iran or is this Groundhog Day?

A column by yours truly on the State of the Union (hopefully the first of a series) will be published Monday at Stay tuned.

Wednesday, February 02, 2005

Another Example of Religious Discrimination at the Hands of the Secular Left

Samuel Gregg, writing for the Washington Times, shows us the future of Christians in a completely secularized society in a column titled, The Secular Inquisition. The formation of the European Union Commission and the European Parliament accepted Laszlo Kovacs, but rejected Rocco Buttiglione.

Kovacs is a Hungarian with strong ties to the old, repressive Communist regime. The media calls him a “socialist” – not considered a pejorative term in Europe. He was subjected to mild review and overwhelmingly confirmed to be the Taxation and Customs Commissioner.

Buttiglione is mild-mannered philosophy professor who is more of a “classical liberal.” Yet he was the focus of a “tempest” as an intolerant zealot.

Buttiglione has no ties to a repressive regime, so what was so dangerous about him? He is pro-family and believes homosexuality is wrong – horrors. His opponents selectively quoted from his writings and caricatured him as a homophobe who believes a woman’s place is in the home with her children (ironically, his wife is a successful working professional).

Buttiglione became the victim of a secularist fundamentalism. He was “Borked.”

The next time someone says to you, “Christians are the majority in this country. What do you have to be afraid of?” – show them this column.

Tuesday, February 01, 2005

Planned Parenthood loses clinics, private support

Snipped from “the Ryan Report” of STOPP International 12/04

"Increases in abortions, more money from taxpayers' pockets and bigger profit margins - all while clinics are closing down and donations are dwindling. That is the state of Planned Parenthood," said Jim Sedlak, executive director of American Life League's STOPP International, in response to the release of Planned Parenthood Federation of America's 2003-2004 Annual Report.

STOPP International, which has monitored Planned Parenthood's operations for 20 years, provided its analysis of the latest report and put it in historical perspective. Sedlak pointed out facts and trends in the last year:

* Planned Parenthood increased the number of abortions at its own facilities by 6.1 percent to 244,628, bringing the total number of babies killed at Planned Parenthood facilities since 1970 to 3.5 million.

* Planned Parenthood took in an estimated $104 million from its surgical abortion business - the first time this number has surpassed $100 million - accounting for more than one-third of the organization's $302.6 million clinic income.

* Abortions accounted for 34 percent of the organization's overall clinic income and 65 percent of its increased clinic income over last year's total.

* Planned Parenthood aborted 138 children for every adoption referral to an outside agency. During Gloria Feldt's first full year as president of Planned Parenthood Federation of America (1997), the group's abortion/adoption ratio was 18:1. Throughout her tenure, abortion numbers have consistently increased and adoption referrals have regularly decreased, resulting in the dismal 138:1 statistic.

* The number of clinics operated by Planned Parenthood continued to decline, from 866 clinics to 849 clinics in the last year. Since Planned Parenthood's heyday in 1995 when the organization operated 938 offices, the organization now has shut down a net 89 of its clinics, suggesting that the public is increasingly steering away from Planned Parenthood offices.

* Private financial support of Planned Parenthood continued to erode as contributions and bequests dropped 17 percent to $191 million, and the income of its national headquarters dropped by 19.8 percent.

* By increasing abortion numbers, raising clinic prices, and persuading politicians to give it a record $265.2 million in taxpayer funding, Planned Parenthood was able to post its 18th straight year of record total income ($810 million), and ended the year with a stockpile of $725.3 million in assets.

Sedlak added, "This report shows the public is increasingly rejecting Planned Parenthood's radical agenda, but apparently our elected officials haven't gotten the message. Now is the time for Americans to expand the growing efforts to close Planned Parenthood clinics and to put pressure on politicians to stop the obscene amount of taxpayer money that is being funneled to the nation's largest abortion chain."

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