Sunday, February 26, 2012

Has everyone gone "Lin-sane?"

How can a single innocuous phrase land one ESPN employee a 30-day suspension, cause another employee's termination, and prompt a national rant about racism? In a bygone day, when common sense trumped banal emotionalism, we'd have laughed at the possibility. But it's today's reality and we're all worse for our so-called enlightenment.

ESPN's broadcast and electronic media employed the phrase "Chink in the armor" in reference to New York Knicks guard Jeremy Lin's first subpar performance. Lin is of Asian heritage. The offending parties became instant racists, and the comments pronouncing their guilt are as innumerable as they are mindless. My question is, quite honestly, has everyone lost their minds?

Only someone seeking offense, or wholly ignorant of what "chink in the armor" means, could consider the term an affront to Asians. The phrase dates to the 1400s and has nothing to do with race or ethnicity. It identifies a vulnerability or weakness. Since Lin had experienced his first bad game as a Knicks starter, the phrase was wholly appropriate for questioning a perceived flaw in his game that future opponents might exploit. Had the headline read "Chink blows Knicks' winning streak," the outrage would be understandable. But even Lin dismissed any racial intent. That should've ended it.

The mere presence of a word that can be used as a derisive term isn't in itself racism. We might consider the ESPN employees naïve for not anticipating reprisals for their choice of terms. However, intentionally interpreting a word or phrase out of context is equally foolish, if not downright stupid. If only this were the first time speech manipulators had twisted words to propagate racial strife. It's not.

ESPN took the coward's way out. The network could've defended their employees without offending anyone of Oriental heritage. All ESPN needed do was present the true definition of "chink in the armor." But ESPN chose to toss their people overboard, reflecting a longstanding tradition of irrational reactions at ESPN and their partner, ABC Sports.

Remember the Rush Limbaugh-Donovan McNabb controversy? Limbaugh said nothing that demeaned McNabb as an athlete or as a man. Yet he resigned from ESPN's Sunday NFL Countdown for political reasons. Limbaugh's not alone. ABC dismissed Howard Cosell for saying of Washington Redskins' wide receiver Alvin Garrett, "that little monkey gets open, doesn't he?" As obnoxious as Cosell was, no one cognizant of his history could've considered him racist. Cosell was an avid defender of black athletes. Yet out the door he went.

Cowardly judgments concerning race and offense aren't unique to ABC and ESPN. In fact, they are culturally systemic. Either ignorance is hailed as enlightenment, or people eager to prove their tolerance intentionally take words and phrases out of context. The culture has become so saturated with politically correct censorship that every speaker and writer must guard their words to avoid being labeled a racist goon. Free speech can't exist, let alone thrive, is so hostile an environment.

Raising children of the State

King Solomon wrote in his Proverbs: "Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it." Solomon intended for parents to base their children's future on the Creator's morals and integrity. A child's mind is a sponge. Filling those sponges with worthwhile attributes -- responsibility, trustworthiness, honesty, and faithfulness -- lays the proper foundation for adulthood.

However, training children is a two-way street. When children are introduced to an authoritarian state at an early age they learn to accept authoritarianism as the norm. Rather than seeing government and bureaucracy as contrary to liberty, children view them as the conveyors of freedom. Where better for the State to plant that seed than in preschool, and what better time than the present?

Government affiliated inspectors are hard at work sowing the fields at West Hoke (NC) Elementary School. At first consideration one might wonder why this is a big deal. Inspectors performing proper tasks can have positive effects. No one wants unsafe, substandard schools. No one wants their son or daughter educated for twelve years only to graduate functionally illiterate. However, what type of message do children receive when the State is poking around in their lunchboxes? That's the kind of inspection conducted at West Hoke.

State authorized inspectors disapproved the homemade lunches students brought to school. Foods like turkey, cheese, fruits, and juices just don't satisfy the USDA's nutritional standards. Children who packed such lunches were given supplemental meals that met the State's guidelines. We should then recognize that the State's guidelines aren't guidelines at all. Guidelines provide information to assist people in determining their own best path. What happened at Hoke wasn't a recommendation, but a State dictate.

Questions have arisen concerning exactly who was involved with inspecting the lunchboxes and providing the supplemental meals, prompting officials to deny any role in lunchroom policing. Yet it matters not which government entity instigated the inspections. The fact remains that a government contractor, employee, or bureaucrat searched children's lunches. Youthful minds receive the impression that the State possesses unlimited right to search anything, and for any reason.

In some circles, my views on cafeteria checkpoints will brand me a pilot of black helicopters who wears a tinfoil flight helmet. However, who can reasonably deny that lunchbox inspections elevate the State above the home and, most notably, the parent? It was the homemade lunches that were deemed insufficient. It was homemade lunches that caused West Hoke to receive a poor grade in meeting student's nutritional needs. The home and the parent are portrayed as uncaring and irresponsible while the State becomes the child's advocate and provider. That is the message presented to the students at West Hoke. In fact, children are being conformed to the State's superiority through varying methods all across this country.

The simple solution is to dismiss "Lunchgate" as silly and ineffective. After all, the homemade lunches weren't confiscated. But that's also a serf's solution. A State authority figure invariably has an intimidating effect on small children. One little girl was so frightened that she didn't eat the lunch her mother had prepared. What lesson did that child, and all children subjected to the lunch inspections, learn? They are taught to respect State authority and provision over that of their parents. A free society cannot survive when the family unit yields to the State.

Children should certainly learn to respect properly exercised authority, like a teacher's authority over the classroom. But shouldn't we be at least equally jealous when government inserts its will between the child and the home?

The State is laying a foundation whereupon each future generation is easier controlled than the previous one. Today's children are taught at a tender age that the State is the foremost authority in their lives. Homemade lunches, homemade values, and homemade relationships are invariably inferior to what the State promotes, condones, or mandates. When today's children become tomorrow's adults they will rely on the State for their needs rather than on their individual skills and character. Tomorrow's adults will then breed another generation even more comfortable with State control. And the beat goes on.

As Solomon observed, children raised in the way they should go will build their adult lives from a solid foundation. But the reverse is equally true. The State is doing a thorough job of training children to revere government above family and choose dependence over liberty. Children are being trained in a way they should not go. When they are old, will they be able to depart from it?

Sunday, February 19, 2012

King Obama's contraception deception

Before the Affordable Care Act (ACA) became law its critics warned of undesirable consequences hidden within the monstrous and confusing bill. Naysayers then, they've become prophets. ObamaCare forces every health plan provider to include free coverage for contraceptive and abortive services.

But there's a catch. Religious organizations also provide healthcare coverage to their employees. Since ObamaCare offers no religious exemption, church affiliates are required to provide services that conflict with ecclesiastical doctrines. The outcry was immediate, as organizations and charities across the religious spectrum vowed resistance on the grounds that a contraception mandate violates First Amendment freedoms. Therefore, King Obama is compelled to reform his decree, at least in part. He'll order the insurers behind the religious entities to provide free contraception instead.

Didn't the wise King Obama foresee this vehement opposition? You bet he did!

The church is falling for the old bait and switch. Obama picked a fight with the church community over religious freedoms. When the church fought back Obama deftly switched tactics and focused his dictatorial efforts on insurance companies, which have been his main targets from the outset.

The White House knew the firestorm that would result from forcing church-affiliated organizations to pay for their employee's condoms, birth control pills, and abortifacients. But the administration also believes it can weather the storm, appear fair for crafting a compromise, and then target the private sector with relative impunity.

Divide and conquer is an effective tactic, one that goes hand-in-hand with the bait and switch. Obama's edict upon the religious community inspired fear, panic, and anger among the faithful. Bishops and cardinals, ministers and evangelists, priests and rabbis all pledged to defend their religious liberties no matter the cost. They took the bait. As Obama switches the burden to private insurers the religious community appears to be off the hook. The church, according to King Obama's reasoning, will lose their zeal for opposing ObamaCare's tyrannies once it's exempt from the contraception mandate.

The religious community and the commercial insurers should remain united toward repealing ObamaCare's birth control mandate, in fact the ACA in its entirety. But Obama's stratagem -- politically astute but morally repugnant -- will eventually divide opponents with common grievances into separate camps. When the church's government imposed duty to fund abortion and contraception is gone, its interest in defending liberty will also wane. Private insurers must then stand alone.

Who'll cry foul when "evil" insurers are subject to Obama's dictatorial edicts? The public will empathize with the loss of religious liberties much easier than with the loss of economic liberties, although both are diminished when one is compromised.

King Obama used the contraception mandate to bait a vehement reaction from the church, planning all the while to switch his target to the private sector. Once the diversion is complete and the opposition is divided, the private sector will be open to immediate conquest. Subjugating the church can wait for another day.

No Nazis in the Corp

I served in the United States Navy I participated in the natural inter-service rivalry with the Marine Corps. "Jarheads" they were. And that was on a good day. At other times we referred to the "junior branch" in terms unfit for family reading. But the rivalry was more brotherly than adversarial. Let someone outside the family insult or assault a "jarhead" and we "squids" would defend them tooth and nail. This is one of those times.

Unless you've spent the last week chasing wooly mammoths across the Siberian tundra you've seen the photo of a Marine sniper unit posed beside a "Nazi" flag. The "SS" certainly resembles the insignia made infamous in the German Gestapo, the secret police loyal to no one but Hitler, the murderers of millions of Jews who were guilty of nothing more than being born Jewish. Obviously this sniper squad did a poor job of researching their logo choice, thus creating a public relations nightmare. But, does anyone really believe these Marines intentionally posed with a Nazi symbol? You might be surprised.

There are people who not only believe the Marines realized the implications in their symbol beforehand, but actively embrace the evil it once represented. Sen. Dick Durbin would certainly agree that the Marines in question avow Nazism, since he once compared American soldiers directly to Nazis.

Friends, this isn't the first time a slanted "SS" has shown up in a public place. Anyone remember KISS? Yes, that KISS, in all of their costumed, blood-puking, skyrocket shooting, overblown, and choreographed infamy. The KISS that wrote one song, recorded it a hundred times and became multi-millionaires. Look at their logo, the basics of which have remained largely unchanged for 35 years. Notice any similarities between the "SS" in KISS and the "SS" on the Marine flag, or on the Gestapo uniform? Certainly KISS generated their share of detractors. But I can't recall their being accused of headlining the Ravensbrück Rock Reunion at the Auschwitz Amphitheatre.

It's one thing to question war, the reasons behind it, and the strategies involved. It's something else to demean our soldiers for innocuous acts. Besides, the U.S. military bends over backwards to investigate alleged misconduct. Eight Marines were prosecuted for their roles in the so-called Haditha Massacre. The result was a single conviction and no jail time. We treated Abu Ghraib like the worst atrocity in human history even while our enemies were beheading civilian contractors and reporters. That's not to say that all American troops are Sgt. York and Audie Murphy. War is a collection of horrors and some soldiers snap under combat pressure. But we have policed our military reasonably well.

Covert racism undoubtedly exists across all racial, ethnic, and cultural lines. That's still no excuse for ignoring or tolerating overt racism within the military, no matter its origin or target. If said sniper unit has an established pattern of Nazism that's one thing. But a bad choice in unit insignias isn't racism and shouldn't be treated as such.

The American left sees the U.S. military as the world's preeminent force for evil and will pounce on any opportunity to demonize our troops. Thus they've seized on this flag fiasco to paint Marine snipers as Nazi death squads. But where's the evidence to support the notion that these Marines have pledged allegiance to der Fuhrer, aside from an errant choice of insignia? Aren't Marines innocent until proven guilty? What's more, they've earned the benefit of the doubt.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

The Santorum Conundrum

Mitt Romney has withstood every challenge to date, remaining the only constant in the Republican nomination race. There are legitimate reasons for his consistency. Romney is photogenic, has proven business skills, can manage a budget, and heads a campaign flush with cash. The sum total of these assets is the demise of everyone, thus far, who has challenged him.
However, conservatives haven't warmed to Romney, as last week's caucuses confirm. So Rick Santorum becomes the latest, and perhaps strongest, "conservative alternative" the "anyone but Romney" camp has long sought.
Santorum is solidly conservative on many issues. He's pro-life and dedicated to the time-tested family unit. Santorum opposed TARP, Obama's "stimulus" slush fund, and both the auto and Freddie/Fannie bailouts. He's a proven proponent of entitlement reform, recognizing the entitlement system as a budgetary and economic albatross around the nation's neck. He also voted to end direct farm subsidies, and still he won the Iowa Caucuses.
Yet Santorum's silver lining contains a dark cloud. In fact, his résumé includes glaring inconsistencies. His 2005 vote to subsidize milk production contradicts his efforts to end farm subsidies. While Santorum was fiscally disciplined during the 90s, he fell in line with the "compassionate conservatism" of the Bush era, supporting Medicare Part D, No Child Left Behind, and a highway bill rich in earmarks, including the infamous Bridge to Nowhere. Santorum opposed ethanol subsidies prior to 9/11, changed his mind due to security concerns afterwards, and then voted to end them altogether just a few years later.
Santorum didn't contest Maine, so those results are irrelevant to his momentum. However, before elevating him to savior status we might also consider that he lost his Senate reelection bid by a wide margin. He seems equally comfortable on either side of an issue, depending on whether he's supporting his party or preaching against the opposition. Let's also consider that he received no delegates for his Missouri victory and awarded delegates in Colorado aren't necessarily bound to him. Furthermore, Newt Gingrich -- the other "anti-Romney" -- bypassed those caucuses. Where might Santorum have finished had the anti-Romney voters been split between he and Newt, especially in Colorado?
Also, Romney's money and political organization remain formidable. The Mitt Machine was quite thorough in highlighting Gingrich's flaws and we witnessed an associated tumble in Newt's standing. Romney's guns weren't then trained on Santorum. But, with last week's results, Rick becomes an intrusion that warrants a full salvo from Romney's battlewagon. Santorum should expect to take fire from here forward, and not only from Romney. Gingrich isn't the type to fade gracefully into the background, either.
Maybe Rick Santorum is the conservative's best option. He does present solid credentials. However, no candidate is perfect, including Santorum. He bears the dead weight of personal and policy contradictions and inconsistencies. The question is: Can Santorum survive the Romney camp's predictable assault long enough to become the legitimate "anti-Mitt?"

Two buses traveling the same direction

Imagine we're standing on a highway overpass, watching vehicles of various sizes, configurations, and speeds approach, pass, and disappear over the crest of a distant hill. Off in the distance we notice a large bus approaching.
The bus is traveling well above the posted speed limit. It tailgates slower vehicles, sways violently as it cuts in and out of traffic, and swerves from one side of the highway to the other. The one constant is the driver's reckless disregard for the well-being of his fellow motorists, who are forced into radical evasive tactics to avoid a collision.
We might expect to see a crazed maniac behind the wheel, perhaps a drunkard. But when the bus passes under the bridge, we see that the driver is well-dressed, fully composed, and gripping the steering wheel with both hands. The driver looks like the consummate professional, not a wild-eyed kook. What's more, the passengers aren't the least bit disheveled, nor are they or upset with the driver's erratic maneuvers. They're reading, listening to music, or sleeping, blissfully unaware of the danger in which their driver is placing them.
The bus rockets beneath the underpass, runs two more vehicles into the median, and careens over the crest.
After a silent prayer for the bus' occupants, we turn our eyes back to the oncoming traffic. Of all horrors, another bus is approaching. But this one is different. The second bus is cruising at an appropriate speed. When it approaches a slower vehicle, the driver signals and the bus moves smoothly into the next lane, passes the slower vehicle, signals again and reenters the original lane.
When the bus reaches the overpass we again note the driver's mannerisms, driving techniques, and personal appearance. Everything is the same as with the first driver, maybe better. These passengers also ride peacefully, trusting their driver's ability to avoid danger. The second bus passes smoothly beneath the bridge and over the distant crest at a steady speed.
The contrasts between the buses are obvious. At one wheel is a dangerous radical whose professional façade belies his wanton disregard for his passengers and fellow travelers. His recklessness is rivaled only by his passengers' obliviousness. The second driver is cautious, concerned, and traditional. He is almost sedate, as are the passengers on his bus. However, the buses share a similarity that's more striking than the differences. Both buses are traveling the same direction. If neither changes course, they will ultimately reach the same destination.
The first bus represents the Democrat Party. Its terminus is an all-powerful State, a goal Democrats pursue with reckless abandon. Any harm caused along the route is dismissed as inconsequential. For the Democrat left the end justifies the means, with said end being a Marxist based society steeped with cradle-to-grave collectivism.
The Republican Party drives the second bus, and it follows the same route as the first. As the GOP bus cruises along it encounters mileposts similar to those seen from the Democrat bus: increased federal spending, burgeoning deficits, debilitating debt, and waning liberty. It travels that road a little slower, a little safer, and reaches the destination later. But the second bus will ultimately park in the same station as the first.
Certainly there are differences between the Democrat Party and the Republican Party. But the differences have become more evident in the driving style than in the direction of travel. No matter which bus we board, we'll be riding toward the same destination, that being a manipulative and controlling central government. If we continue riding one of those two buses and expect to arrive at a different station we are defining insanity.
The Democrat Party is so entwined in collectivism that redirection is impossible. Reforming the Democrats would require a course correction so radical that the rehabilitated product would bear no resemblance to the current one. As the number of people beholden to the Democrats' collectivist policies increases, the number of people who ignore their reckless driving and board their bus will also increase.
Conversely, the Republican course may yet be altered. But if changing that direction remains possible, it's only so for a season, and the season is quickly passing. Republican strategists, ever mindful of the electorate's increasing dependence on the State, are driving the party in the same direction as their Democrat counterparts, albeit at a slower pace. Any Republican who promotes a different agenda -- say one in which government actually shrinks -- will earn a commission in the tinfoil hat brigade.
The Founding Fathers foresaw these natural flaws in political parties. Like government, political parties are more interested in attaining power than defending liberty. Alexander Hamilton wrote in Federalist #1, "Nothing could be more ill-judged than that intolerant spirit which has, at all times, characterized political parties." George Washington also warned us about the dangers inherent to political party agendas. The founders weren't suggesting that parties were intolerable. But anyone brandishing a healthy distrust for government's motivations should carry a similar distrust for a political party's motivations.
Preserving our liberty compels us to recognize the self-serving nature common to political parties. Party loyalty shouldn't blind us to the fact that both major parties are driving our country in the same direction. It may not be time to abandon the Republican bus just yet. But can we at least consider that another bus, traveling a different direction, might someday become necessary?

Sunday, February 5, 2012

One fine day on the tarmac

Air Force One sparkled beneath the brilliant Arizona sun as President Obama and Governor Jan Brewer met one fine day on the tarmac. Then, for no reason, Brewer spat on Obama's foot. Oh, she didn't? Then she asked him for a shoeshine. No? Did her dog mark Air Force One's tires? Wrong again? So what was the big deal?
While both parties appeared terse during their recent meeting, they didn't seem on the verge of blows. Obama was apparently displeased with how Brewer's new book portrayed him while Brewer didn’t appreciate Obama's condescending attitude. Fine, there was a mild rift. The situation ended with Brewer inviting Obama to a formal meeting, which a White House spokesman indicated was accepted, and Obama referring to the incident as "overblown" and "not a big deal at all."
Neither participant considered the "confrontation" more than a common disagreement between divergent political persuasions. But the fact that the two alleged combatants let the situation pass didn't prevent the spin machine from going full throttle.
Robert Paul Reyes
wrote of Gov. Brewer as if she'd worn a white sheet and hood to meet Obama. According to Reyes, Brewer's a racist for wagging her finger under the President's nose. Disagree and you're a bigot, too. Reyes has made two unsubstantiated assumptions and one inexplicable statement. He assumes Brewer would've treated a white president differently under like circumstances and that anyone who defends Brewer is equally bigoted. Furthermore, he states that the presidency always warrants respect.
It's not improper to respect the presidency. But has Reyes practiced what he now preaches? Was he outraged when Bush was branded a
war criminal? Or when a film depicting Bush's assassination received critical praise? Did Reyes demand respect for the presidency when our media cheered an Iraqi reporter who tossed a shoe at Bush? No? What a surprise.
Reyes is all too typical of contemporary punditry. He issued a declarative statement based on unsubstantiated opinion. The only fact pertinent to his racism charge is that Brewer is white and Obama black. Then, in an attempt to dissuade dissention, he paints all opposition as racist, too. However, two can play this game. Suppose we reverse the roles?
President Obama abused his powerful position to scold Brewer, a mere woman. It should be obvious to everyone that Obama is an unabashed sexist. Brewer has succeeded in politics, which is a man's profession, and thus threatens Obama's chauvinistic goal of a world filled with June Cleavers. So he slapped her down. Anyone taking the President's side is excusing Obama's overt sexism, meaning they are as bigoted as he. Women are approved only when powerless, barefoot, pregnant, and lacking suffrage.
Is Obama sexist? No more than Brewer is racist. Funny how easily spin on a female governor becomes spin on a male President. Welcome to politics, where racism and sexism aren't defined by ethnicity and gender but by the political advantage each can yield.