Wish I'd said that!

In recent decades, the ACLU has used its so-called "wall" to fight tooth and nail to prevent government sponsorship of the Pledge of Allegiance, memorial crosses, Ten Commandments displays, nativity scenes, Bible displays, and virtually every other acknowdgement of America's religious heritage.

At the same time, it is worthwhile to note that there have been some instances in which the ACLU has endorsed public displays of religion. For example, When New York City Mayor Rudi Giuliani threatened to cut taxpayer funding from the Brooklyn Museum of Art for displaying a painting of the Virgin Mary with cow dung and pictures of female sexual organs pasted all over her body, the ACLU was first in line to defend the display. U.S. District Court Judge Nina Gershon ruled that New York City's elected officials were not allowed to place conditions on the museum's funding.

In another instance, the ACLU offered its support to the taxpayer-funded National Endowment for the Arts, after the agency sponsored an art show featuring "Piss Christ" - an exhibit consisting of a crucifix submerged in a jar of urine.

In the ACLU's myopic world, it appears that the only permissible publicly-funded displays of religion are those which blatantly mock or disparage the Christian faith.

-- Indefensible: 10 Ways the ACLU is Destroying America, Sam Kastensmidt, 2006

Friday, March 18, 2011

Sea change

Japan's catastrophic recent events have not abated in recent days; they have merely 'adjusted' into different forms. As the tsunami withdrew, it left a sea of debris. What were previously thousands of tidy little homes and well-tended streets have become near-impassible mazes of tangled and hazardous wreckage that blocks survivors and rescuers alike. Once-familiar neighborhoods have become   unrecognizable piles of trash, splintered building materials, and too often, victims.

Americans who have witnessed tornado damage or Hurricane Katrina could easily sympathize. But even they would not be able to relate to the additional hazard faced by the Japanese. With five nuclear reactors out of action, two nuclear plant explosions (the second hydrogen explosion at the Fukushima facility was felt 30 miles away) and the danger of exposed nuclear fuel rods contaminating the air, there are real and continuing dangers to deal with (although admittedly, there was some concern during the Three Mile Island incident).

On the other hand - and despite the press' obsession with its "If it bleeds, it leads" mentality, things are reportedly proceeding along better than if it had happened in most other countries. For all the hysteria worldwide over the ongoing nuclear disaster, Japan's reactors have shown themselves to be extremely robust, thus far limiting escape of major radioactivity. Also, the Japanese emergency procedures, which are in large part being forged as they go along, has shown reasonable success to this point considering the circumstances. That radiation which has escaped in the blasts has been mostly low-level radiation with a relatively short half-life, although there is still plenty of reason for concern. Looking foward, emerging technology holds the very real promise of substantially safer nuclear power generation, if we don't get shied away from it altogether by the perennial naysayers.

Japan's national bank attempted to stabilize their tanking stock market situation by injecting 7 trillion yen ($85.5 billion) into money markets, essentially copying the United States' drive toward self-induced hyperinflation. At least the Japanese have a good reason: immediate survival. The government there is also doing its best at minimizing panic among its citizens, even as it struggles to get aid to the survivors.

And perhaps it is the story of the people themselves that is the most compelling aspect of this national and international tragedy. Yes, they've made serious mistakes in the past, as have we. But they seem to have winnowed the chaff from much of their general character traits, choosing to learn from those mistakes and recreate themselves, building off the best parts of their heritage. What now appears to the world to be a deeply-rooted aspect of Japan's national character has been variously described as humble, confident, determined, quietly heroic and stoic.

American talking heads are shocked to hear there hasn't been any reports of looting, but perhaps the real question should be, "Why should there be any looting?"  America has long been - or used to be - an example of courage, self-sacrifice, and integrity; but the example of the Japanese people following this unbelievable catastrophe has literally put us to shame, because typical American behavior in recent years (excepting immediately following 9-11-01) has been nothing short of shameful. While the Japanese have been generally unselfish, patient, reserved, and indefatigable, we have been resentfulbelligerent, impatient, disrespectful of the views of others, and violent. And that's mostly just the unions.

Meanwhile, as natural disasters claim thousands of lives and threaten millions more, and as people struggle for freedom against relentless tyrannies, economies plunge, political dystrophy fractures the nation, the culture is devolving downward, and America continues to pay too much and depend too much on unreliable foreign sources, the leader of the formerly-greatest nation on Earth deals with his seemingly biggest problem, getting his golf handicap down and wowing the club crowd.

Yep; as the world burns, America's version of ancient Rome's Nero does a stand-up act as a comedian  and takes time out of his busy vacation and golf schedule to handicap NCAA teams for the coming season. He apparently doesn't realize that his funniest bit is his feeble and shallow attempts at leadership. Or, it would be funny, if it weren't so tragic for hundreds of millions of people directly and indirectly affected by his misanthropic, grossly unpresidential antics. While criticism of his lack of leadership might be expected from Fox News and National Review, his royalesque, "Let them eat cake"-like attitude also (finally?) hasn't gone unnoticed by Obama's all-things-Demoncrat cheerleaders in the press and by the voters themselves, many of whom are currently expressing a growing disapproval of Obama's job performance.

Of course, that might be expected since he's never really held a job where he has been forced to demonstrate personal responsibility before (and has yet to accept it in his present role).  His fervor to turn America into a near-future Dystopia seems to be bearing bitter fruits. Recently, an invitation to dialogue with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was rebuffed by Egyptian revolutionaries, and an invitation from Obama to meet with Wayne LaPierre, president of the National Rifle Association, was also curtly (and rightly, in my opinion) turned down, especially in light of his response to Obama's recent anti-gun op-ed in the Arizona Star.

Simply stated, Barack Obama is the colloquial "empty suit." It isn't that he's lackluster - luster has been furnished by a legion of political lackeys doing the bidding of the 'wizards behind the curtain' - it's that he lacks any sort of presidentially-imperative trait, period.

I have become convinced through an ever-expanding universe of evidence that Barack Obama is neither as brilliant as he was portrayed by the absolutely fawning liberal press and media, nor the least interested in the best interests of this nation which he has sworn to protect. To the contrary, there are only two conclusions that fit: either he was specifically chosen for a combination of hyper-egotism and intellectual vapidness, or he is deliberately ignoring all but the most superficial performance of his duties for the express purpose of sowing chaos within this nation and fomenting a profound distrust and disrespect for the United States throughout the rest of the world by his continual disengagement from real issues and his contempt for the office and for our heritage. It is obviously not his heritage.

This is probably a good point to inject a reminder of how important it is to make at least some preparation for disasters. With the rising prices of food and other commodities, shortages are bound to occur quickly during a crisis, especially because there are typically no more than two or three days' supply of anything in most stores anymore.  While most real catastrophes happen too suddenly to search out all you can find on short notice and stock the car with everything you'll want to take with you, it is important to have something at hand that can be quickly grabbed and evacuate, even if you don't have a vehicle.

A "go-bag" should be prepared for each member of the family, among other disaster preparations. Don't wait until the sirens sound (if they even do) to begin a frantic search for things you'll likely need in a pinch ("Dude; did you really need to take that latte machine?") There are few guarantees in life, but one sure thing is that you cannot always depend on the goodness of others for your survival. You may not get a second chance if you carelessly blow the first one.

Slip, sliding away.  As we ponder how Japan will recover from this horrendous blow, we should also ask ourselves:  How long can a society remain afloat when one-third of our population is on welfare?

Our own nation, which until a few years ago was a world leader in finance, agriculture, manufacturing, technology, and diplomacy - as well as the leader for international charity in major disasters - has over only two years been "fundamentally transformed" into a relatively placid, effectually flaccid, self-deprecated shell of a former power, with little more than the arrogance of disbelief to sustain us.
For example, our so-called Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton recently deflated the hopes of Libyan rebels hoping for a "no-fly zone" in their fight to free themselves from the tyranny of Muammar Khadaffi (pick your own spelling). She did this by telling the world press that "Absent international authorization, the United States acting alone would be stepping into a situation whose consequences are unforeseeable." Apparently, no one has told Ms. Clinton that there are always unforeseeable consequences under such circumstances. While she and her fellow Alinskyites have no problem fomenting, tacitly supporting revolution against their own country, when it comes to people truly oppressed by tyrannical regimes she seems content to let the freedom fighters languish and be consumed by vengeful and merciless dictators. Does she actually believe that a world body currently governed by a legion of dictatorial regimes would be better disposed to help the Libyan people than the United States? 

Fortunately, the US and the UN Security Council finally got off their collective asses and determined to restrain Libya's leading megalomaniac. Come to think of it, could it have been simply Obama unwilling to put up with the ego competition?

Let me be clear; I'm not looking for the US to get involved in yet another foreign war. I'm now at the point of kissing off Afghanistan, since their people seem not overly interested in our help, and we don't seem interested in winning the war, in view of our current lack of leadership. And we certainly can't count on attrition as an effective strategy. But I believe there are things we could do to show, once and for all, which side we're on regarding Libya.

In my humble opinion, people fighting for freedom from true oppression are justified in their rebellion, and they should get whatever support that freedom-loving people are able to provide. Perhaps our reluctance is the result of so few Americans recognizing what true oppression looks like anymore. One thing is certain; the rebellion will fail if they don't receive the sort of help they need soon. If that happens, no similar movement will look to or trust the US for assistance, and will undoubtedly look at us as just one more foe. But perhaps that is precisely the effect our current malAdministration is really looking for.

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