Thursday, April 30, 2009

Flying in the Face of Reason

I know a way to keep government costs down. In fact, I think this approach could quickly help us arrive at the $100 million President Obama wants cut out of the budget immediately. It’s very simple, really. So simple that I don’t understand why our supposedly “brilliant” leader hasn’t figured it out.

Keep Air Force One on the ground.

The New York City flyover fiasco cost American taxpayers nearly $330,000—that's without the cost of the F16 escorts. New York City is over 200 miles from Washington D.C. Next, we have the road trip to Missouri to deliver the “First 100 Days of American Socialism” press conference. Tell me, why couldn’t this inane waste of time be held in Washington? Missouri is over 900 miles from Washington. What’s the probable estimate on that joy ride--$1 million?

I’d really like how the president is “earning trust” from recession-weary Americans with these extravagances. Personally, I don’t believe his assertion that he didn’t know about the NY photo op—it’s his plane! I think the DoD might need to ask him for the keys, don’t you? Obama’s “furious” reaction is a bit too cute. And the fact that NY authorities were informed, but threatened with Federal ramifications if they let the story leak, calls true intent into question. What was the real goal of the “photo op”? Was it a test to see how much power the government holds over its citizens, and how easily it can induce panic—and therefore exert control? Was it merely an ego trip? In either case, that’s worse than disgraceful—it’s disgusting. And I, for one, would not be surprised if either scenario was the truth.

Has the government never heard of PhotoShop? With the click of a mouse, you can show Air Force One and the Statue of Liberty together. Aside from the sheer costliness of the exercise, to needlessly put New Yorkers through such a terrifying reminder of 9/11 is beneath contempt, and I seriously question the judgment of anyone in the administration--up to and including Obama, especially--who approved it.

After these “enchanting” 100 days, I remain completely unimpressed with President Obama. I fear he is an unmitigated disaster for this nation, one that's in the process of happening. I think Americans need to brace themselves for some very bad days ahead. As the captain of Air Force One might say, “we’re heading into some turbulence—please fasten your seat belts.”

Sunday, April 26, 2009

State of Replay

"State of Play" is a good thriller, if you can get past the cartoon stereotypes a la Hollywood tradition.

MSM reporters are noble, truth-seeking heroes who refuse to move forward with any story until every fact and circumstance is nailed correctly and firmly to the ground...Oh, pu-leez.  Don't even start me.

Politicians are uniformly evil; this shtick is a bit more credible.  But of course, the writers have to assign a completely gratuitous remark to the darkest villain, the senator at the head of a threatening military plot, that reveals him as--gasp!--"religious."  Yes, yes, we get it--liberal press, good, politicians of faith supporting military, bad.

On the subject of the military, of course we have PointCorp, the obvious Blackwater parallel, which is a gargantuan complex of money-grubbing evil-doers, ready to take over America--by shooting American citizens--at a moment's notice.  None of Pointcorp's contractors are murdered, mutilated, burned, and hung from enemy bridges in this film.  No, no, the PointCorp guys are all busy getting wealthy, subverting liberty and sticking it to the aforementioned noble reporters.

Naturally, the psychotic killer in the plot is a military veteran--how else could he qualify for a Hollywood script?  Trashing the military gets old really quickly for me, as it should for every American who has the neurons to understand that our military is the only reason we can enjoy a Saturday afternoon at the movies in peace and safety.  I realize that there is the occasional kook in uniform; must he be cast in every movie?  Now what about all the 100% outstanding troops who put it their butts on the line for us every day?  When will they get their fair shake on the other side of a box office ticket?  Rhetorical questions, but worth asking anyway.

Seeing this film was not my choice; it was my movie buddy's turn to pick the show.  And as stated up front, it is a suspenseful thriller that turns in complicated directions quickly and smoothly, with first-rate acting from a stellar cast.  Helen Mirren is electrifyingly sharp as the cantankerous editor under pressure from the newspaper's new owners, Russell Crowe is always worth watching, and Ben Affleck took me completely by surprise--he actually managed to act.

But I can not give it a "go see" rating.  "State of Play" never quite rises above the tired caricatures it recreates.  Been there, done that, too many times before.  Pass the popcorn, and remind me again--when does the new "Star Trek" movie start?

Thursday, April 23, 2009

The Bard's Birthday

Friends, Romans, countrymen, lend me your ears...

~ Julius Caesar III, II

Today is William Shakespeare’s birthday, and, in a poetic coincidence, also the anniversary of his death (1564-1616).  In honor of this auspicious occasion, Chicago Mayor Daley has declared today "Talk Like Shakespeare Day."

For those of you who consider vocalizing in Shakespearean style a tough assignment, it’s much simpler than you think.  In fact, you probably quote Shakespeare quite often.  Allow me to demonstrate the ease with which a modern day speaker of the English language may quote the Bard, with unwitting fluency and even a preponderance of clich├ęs.   Let’s pick a topic, shall we?  How about something timely, such as the startling performance of Barack Obama during his first 100 days in office? 

Shakespeare’s words appear in boldface type:

Although we waited with bated breath for the brave new world President Obama was to bring us, we now find that there is neither rhyme nor reason in the monumental, wild-goose chase that this self-acclaimed tower of strength has ushered in.  In fact, at times it seems a foregone conclusion that Obama is the devil incarnate, giving our country short shrift in his lengthy speeches, which are often too much of a good thing.  While he is never tongue-tied, Obama should consider that brevity is the soul of wit.  His long-winded orations are, in one fell swoop, making us a laughing stock around the world.  Tut, tut! 

For goodness sake!  It appears we have seen better days, according to our feckless leader.  Truly, we as a nation are in a pickle.  But for Obama to ignore the foul play that lurks in wait for us is to risk leaving us all as dead as a door-nail.  What the dickens!  Obama plays fast and loose with our national security and refuses to budge an inch from his foolish policies. What a piece of workI look forward to the day when we can send him packing and say good riddance to the blinking idiot.  I’ll be so happy I will laugh into stitches and say all’s well that ends well.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Remember, Honor, and Teach

I turn my eyes to the mountains
From where will my help come?
My help comes from the Lord,
Maker of heaven and earth.

Yesterday, for the first time, I attended a Holocaust commemoration at a nearby Jewish community center. Holocaust Remembrance Day is this week, and I wanted to attend one of these ceremonies while there are still first-hand survivors to bear witness to the terrible things that happened to the Jewish people at the hands of their fellow man. It was an educational experience, also quite moving and inspiring.

The theme of this event is "Remember, Honor, and Teach." Author Michael Bart, son of Holocaust survivors, opened and closed this year's program. One of the primary objectives of this annual tradition in the Jewish community is to give younger generations personal contact with survivors and their riveting personal stories.

The event opened with a U.S. Marine Color Guard and our national anthem, in deference to the American troops who liberated the concentration camps at the end of World War II. Afterwards, all Holocaust survivors present were asked to stand to be recognized; a few dozen elderly people--fragile, well-dressed women and men with heads bent under their prayer caps--stood quietly during the audience's heartfelt applause. A candle lighting ceremony followed, in which two survivors from each concentration camp were called forward to light a votive flame in memory of their fellow Jews who had died in that camp.

A final candle was lighted by a guest in memory of all the non-Jewish people who perished during the Holocaust.

When two young people took the stage to speak, I was intrigued to learn more about "The March of the Living," a two-week journey to Poland each year, during which high school juniors and seniors from over 40 countries commemorate Holocaust Remembrance Day by traveling between the Auschwitz and Birkenau concentration camps. The audience was treated to a trailer of an upcoming film, (linked here), working title "We Must Remember," that recounts the pilgrimage of a group of young people in the recent past. It is not clear how many, if any, of the sixteen youngsters participating in the movie are Jewish--they are classmates in a broadcasting course at their high school--and that fact is all to the good. It is an important lesson for every young person to learn that we are all vulnerable to evil's grip.

There were readings and prayers in closing the commemorative ceremonies, including a recitation of Kaddish, the Hebrew prayer in honor of the dead. I was gratified to be present, and, as a Christian, to come to a greater understanding and appreciation of the forceful imprint the Holocaust has seared into the soul and psyche of the Jewish people.

I do have a fair amount of education about the Holocaust. However, reading about the Holocaust is one thing; seeing movies on the subject is another. But listening to those who endured and survived by God's grace, triumphing over staggering odds and incomprehensible suffering, to continue their faith, families, and traditions in a new country, is quite a different experience. I will remember.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Signs of the Times

Today's tax day "Tea Party" protests are proving fascinating.  Despite MSM's best efforts to paint them as carefully-engineered right wing media events, real American people are shining through with honest reasons why they are marching in unity, often in stormy weather, in many major cities across our country.

OUR country.  Not the politicians' districts, not the president's self-perceived kingdom.  "We the People" are going on record to voice disapproval for the government's wild spending spree, and they're doing so in a peaceful, effective, creative way.

Our Founding Fathers would be proud.  In fact, I think they would probably be out there with them.

I've been watching the hard-to-find television coverage.  Some of the signs are priceless, and I've listed my Top Ten Favorite Tea Party signs, below:

1.  Chains we can believe in
2.  YOU have run out of OUR money
3.  My piggy bank is not your pork barrel
4.  What's in your wallet?  MY MONEY!
5.  Obama:  Commander in Thief
6.  Keep the Change
7.  Needed:  Swine Item Veto
8.  Stimulus = weapon of mass destruction
9.  Don't tax me, bro!
10. Pelosi
      Killing the economy!

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Easter Morning

John 20:15-18 ~ Happy Easter to all. 

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

A Call to Liberty

Wandering the shops during an airport layover on my way home, I decided to treat myself to Mark Levin’s new book, Liberty and Tyranny, A Conservative Manifesto.

A treat it was, indeed.  I did some flying of my own during my cross-country flight, almost finishing the book by the time the plane touched down.  In my opinion, Levin has written one of the most important books of the last quarter century.  I’ll share some thoughts on why I’ve come to that conclusion.

If you’re like myself, an average, hard-working American conservative, you’ve probably observed the economic and social Armageddon engulfing our country and wondered, on numerous occasions, “What has happened to us?”  When the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals overturns California voters' majority voice; when media personalities call Christianity more dangerous than radical Islam; when Congress passes legislation granting bonuses and, just as quickly and with as little thought, passes another law rescinding those bonuses; when the Executive branch of government decrees that private enterprise must now “report” to them—these are all occurrences that beg the question, “What would our Founders say?”

In Liberty and Tyranny, Mark Levin has answered that question in a clear and compelling manner.  While his response is alarming, it is fascinating and enlightening.  Levin refers to those who worship larger government as “Statists.”  With a firm basis in our Founders’ philosophy, Levin describes in layman’s terms exactly how binding are the constraints that government has imposed upon our people under the guise of helpfulness—and how diametrically opposed our modern condition is to the Founders’ original intent.  His analysis is presented in the clear but detailed style of a professor who knows he has smart students, and he teaches with a wealth of facts, bolstered by quotes and footnotes, that provide a sobering look into the ever-deepening abyss that is our increasingly centralized government.

There is a chapter titled “On the Free Market” that, in and of itself, is worth the price of the book.  If you would like a lucid, rational chronology explaining the governmental missteps that have brought us to our current woes, read it.  The heavy hand of government--in the subprime debacle, Wall Street’s bad loans, spiraling gas prices, and many other of our economic ills--is exposed at every bad turn of events, and that grasping hand reaches forward from the distant past to drag us into our modern crisis.  

When I was very young, I considered my father a bit of a radical when he referred to the much-revered Franklin Roosevelt as “the worst president in American history.”  Dad became a Republican during the New Deal and never wavered in that political affiliation. After Jimmy Carter’s disastrous turn at the executive helm, I began to understand my father's position; never again would I vote for a “Statist” for president.  In reading Liberty and Tyranny, I feel rather proud that Dad’s reasoning was so accurate and so far ahead of his time.  I also feel grateful that, by example, he taught me critical thinking.

Levin’s book should be read by every college student—in fact, I’ve heard many of them calling into his radio show after reading it, along with law students and young people starting out in their careers.  It gives me hope that the soul of our nation, if not its ailing body, is alive and well.  For, as Levin wisely points out, the true conservative’s values--love of individual liberty, reluctance to expand central government, honor for cultural traditions, and respect for "Nature's God"-- are the same as those of our nation's Founders.