31 December 2009

Ring in the new!

With each dawn we start fresh, the days past never to be relived. Marcus Aurelius believed that in each day, each moment, we experienced a small death when it passed.

Whatever sadness, whatever regrets, whatever dreams unfulfilled – all are left behind with each new day, new week, new season. We are constantly renewing.

Our annual ritual of ringing in the new year is just one of our many renewals, and, though the calendar is a manmade device, it is based upon the cycles of the planet, the moon and the sun. This cycle of renewal and rebirth is given to us by God. It is written on our hearts to embrace this celebration.

Aurelius simply saw a way not to fear death. Christ leads us to embrace a new life. And so we resolve to improve, to do better, to be better with each new year. To remake ourselves.

“See, I make all things new.”

Happy New Year.

30 December 2009

Defending the indefensible at Texas Tech

In a case that has attracted national attention, Texas Tech football coach Mike Leach has been fired for his treatment of wide receiver Adam James, son of broadcaster and former NFL player Craig James.

In facts that appear not to be disputed by anybody, James was diagnosed by the team physician with a concussion on December 16th. At practice the next day, Coach Leach required him to stand in a darkened storage shed, not allowing him to sit. Two days later, at the next practice, he required the young man to stand in a darkened closet and/or media room, again not allowing him to sit.

Initially, Leach was suspended. He appealed the suspension, and had a court hearing scheduled. Outside the doors of the hearing, Texas Tech presented him with a termination letter.

Those, as far as we know right now, are the facts.

What stuns me right now is that I have actually read commentary sympathetic towards, and defensive of, Leach. Some former players sent emails to media outlets which have been published, describing the younger James as lazy, a troublemaker, undisciplined. To that, I say, SO WHAT? What does that have to do with it? If he was a problem, cut him.

If I were Texas Tech, I would have only needed to confirm two things that were reported in the press. 1) Did the team doctor diagnose a concussion? and 2) Did Leach lock him in a darkened storage shed the next day?

If I were Leach, I wouldn't even think about offering any defense other than "one (or both) of those things did not happen."

All the stories about how lazy, selfish and undisciplined Adam James is are totally irrelevant, and saying it now sounds a lot like calling a rape victim a slut. It may be true, but it has nothing to do with the concussion and his subsequent treatment.

Pleading "he had it coming" only makes it look a lot worse. Leach's own attorney hasn't even tried to make that argument. Instead, he argues that "it wasn't a shed, it was a garage." So that makes it okay? Really?

Mike Leach may or may not have been treated unfairly by his employer. He definitely overpaid his lawyer - assuming he paid anything at all.

I often hear football players describe themselves as "warriors," and games as "battles." To a certain extent, I think the metaphor is apt. But as an Army veteran myself, I can tell you that I never locked anybody in a shed for discipline. That is not discipline, and it is certainly not leadership.

It is dehumanizing, and it is psychotic.

And people defending it should be ashamed of themselves.

The Crotch Bomber is an enemy combatant, not a thief

As more and more voices are being raised in objection to the Obama administration's handling of the Christmas Day "crotch bomber," Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, as a standard criminal prosecution, liberals are beginning to toss out strawman arguments to defend the decision.

First, they ask how this differs from the civilian trial of the Shoe Bomber, Richard Reid. Reid's attempted attack occurred in December 2001, before we had in place a military tribunal system, and before the prison at Guantanamo Bay had been established. The tactics and methods for fighting the nascent War on Terror were still being developed, and there really was no other option. Six months later, Jose Padilla, an American citizen, was detained as an unlawful enemy combatant, interrogated, and tried in the military system. The rules had changed.

Second, I am now hearing some ask about the 2006 civilian trial of Zaccarias Mossaoui, the "20th hijacker." This may be the single worst counter-example for Obama apologists to use. Mossaoui was arrested in August of 2001 - not only before the new rules I discussed above, but before 9-11. The failure to allow a search of his computer was identified as one of the chief problems that might have prevented those attacks. This is what began to shed a new light on the need to be able to apply military and intelligence rules in what otherwise would have been treated as domestic criminal investigations.

Further, Mossaoui was indicted in December of 2001, prior to Reid's attack. He made an absolute circus of pretrial motions and hearings, requiring multiple Appeals Court and Supreme Court rulings to protect national security before his trial was finally allowed to take place in 2006.

Mossaoui is probably the worst example these people could use to justify a civilian criminal prosecution of Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, and not only because Mossaoui's arrest and prosecution began prior to 9-11.

In fact, the failure to connect the criminal and national security responsibilities in the initial investigation of Mossaoui led to changes in our approach to such investigations, and the five year circus of hearings and trials in civilian courts still stand as one of the chief arguments against that approach.

UPDATE: I should probably add, in case you are furiously trying to research some past terrorist whose case was mis-handled, that the most important point to make here is that two wrongs don't make a right. As I noted with regard to Mossaoui, his trial was a circus and it required the Supreme Court to protect the nation's security interests. You're supposed to learn from your mistakes, not justify bad decisions by pointing to the very mistakes you are repeating. Getting away from the law enforcement approach to terrorism was a correction. Giving Abdulmutallab Miranda Rights and a defense attorney is turning back the calendar to, well, to 9/10.

23 December 2009

The risk of over-using words is that they no longer mean anything

Now that Democrats have spent nearly a year pressuring, cajoling, horse-trading and bribing other Democrats just to cobble together the minimum votes needed for each procedural hurdle, for a health care bill supported by little more than a third of the American people, causing nearly three quarters of those people to tell two different pollsters they are now "angry" at the government, why has the media lost the word "extremist" from its vocabulary?

They spent so many years calling things like tax cuts "extreme," that the word no longer means anything at all. If it still had its original meaning, I can think of no political act in my lifetime more extreme than this push for health care. Sadly, the next most extreme acts on that list are almost all from the nascent Obama Era, as well.

I can hardly keep up with it all.

17 December 2009

Congress continues to flush your money down the toilet

It is hardly worth noting any more when the Democratic Congress spends more money we don't have. The House voted to approve another "stimulus" - because the last one was not quote enough to stomp out all economic growth.

This on the same day that President Obama signed off on a $1.1 trillion spending bill that lavishes enormous raises to Federal agency budgets. And to cap it off, about half of the "funding" for this bill is redirected TARP bailout money. Remember when we were told that bailout would end up costing us nothing (we might even profit!) because it was all going to be paid back?

Well, scratch that. Our elected representatives have decided to go ahead and flush it instead.

Never forget: the road to hell is a shovel ready project.*

*Wish I knew who coined that phrase. It was on a Tea Party sign some months back...

16 December 2009

On the precipice

Well, it has happened. I agree with President Obama.

Addressing Congressional Democrats yesterday regarding the imminent passage of Obamacare, he said "we are at the precipice..." I could not agree more. We are about to fall over the edge of a cliff. It is the culmination of a year in which Democrats have sent this nation hurtling into tyranny, bankruptcy and forced dependency, fighting the roaring headwinds of the public's vocal and overwhelming disapproval of everything they are doing.

It appears even closer to certain now that the Senate will pass their version of Obamacare. If it moves from there to final passage, this long-running recession may appear, in our memories, to be the "good old days." We will no longer live under a Constitution, but at the whim of our overlords if we accept a Congressional mandate on individuals to purchase insurance. We will cede control of our very bodies to lobbyists and craven politicians if the government controls, as by this plan's design it will, the financing and delivery systems of our health care.

Democrats' political calculation is a simple one. They understand that by merely trying to pass this monstrous inversion of American values, they have already forfeited next year's elections. They have nothing more to lose by going all the way.

Republicans ought to run, starting now, on a promise not only to continue to fight it, but to work for its repeal if it passes. It may be an empty promise, because it is impossible for them to gain the veto-proof majorities that would be required to actually repeal the new laws in the next Congress. And history tells us they would not do it anyway.

Pray now, and cling to that thin, thin reed of hope that the legislation may yet be defeated.

04 December 2009

What gives me the right to tell gay people how to live?

Jack Nicholson and Anjelica Huston had a "relationship" that spanned 16 years. Kurt Russell and Goldie Hawn have reigned as Hollywood royal couple for 26 years and counting. Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie have been "together" for five years and had three (biological) children.

For generations, the moralizers for Hollywood have dismissed the importance of "a piece of paper" to validate their love. True love, we were told, didn't need some government license, or, heaven forbid, a phony stamp of approval from some antiquated church.


Well, you can take it up with Rosie O'Donnell and Kelli Carpenter. Or Ellen DeGeneres and Portia de Rossi. Because now, it seems, the only thing that matters is that piece of paper.

But whose approval do they need, and why?

I am instinctively inclined to favor separation of marriage and state. My marriage is sanctioned by the Catholic Church, from which it obtains its only legitimacy. The government license is very much secondary, and entirely irrelevant to the sacrament of matrimony. At the same time, I am sympathetic to arguments that there is a compelling state interest in protecting the best interests of the children. In other words, marriage laws, at their heart, are not at all about marriage, they are about protecting the next generation that will sustain our society.

Whether or not one accepts that this reasoning is sufficient to justify state involvement in marriage, it is difficult to conceive (pun intended) of any other state interest in adult relationships. Everything in a marriage, except children, can be governed by contract, entirely outside of the marriage license.

Yet, children are never a consideration in a gay "marriage." Never. No lesbian or male homosexual couple can ever conceive a child.

Proponents of gay marriage licensure argue as if such a license is a benefit. It is not. It is a burden. It is government intervention. And believers in freedom understand that government intervention must be justified by a compelling state interest. I have yet to hear what compelling interest might enable me, a taxpayer and voter, to have any say over gay relationships.

Because if it is licensed by the state, if it's a matter of law, then I have a say. The government is in your bedroom. But here is the thing: I don't want to be in your bedroom.

So I ask: if you want me to be able to set rules for your relationship; if you want me to regulate what happens when you break up; if you want my opinion to to have legal bearing on your private behavior; please, tell me why.