Wednesday, January 2, 2013
Daniel J. Summers
Either way you read it, this is the middle post of the “2012 Year in Review: The Good, the Bad, and the Ridiculous” series. This past year has given me no shortage of things from which to choose to compose this post.
Mass Murder x2
2012 saw two mass murders on U. S. soil. On July 20th, at a premiere of the movie The Dark Knight Rises in Aurora, Colorado, 12 people were killed and 58 injured by a freak who made himself look like the Joker. Then, on December 14th, a troubled young man killed his own mother, 20 children, 6 adults, and himself at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut. While the reaction made the ridiculous list this year, the murders themselves are here. They are a stark reminder that we live in a fallen world. Dr. Albert Mohler broke his less-than-a-day-old hiatus on The Briefing for a special edition, and he summed it up quite well.
Though the murders themselves were horrible and tragic, there were reports of heroes in both instances. In Colorado, men shielded others with their bodies, and ultimately gave their lives to save others In Connecticut, a teacher named Victoria Soto hid her students wherever she could, and told the gunman that the children were elsewhere. These ordinary people, stepping up to against evil, give us some hope that while we will never eliminate this sort of evil, it is far from the norm; and, there are those who will fight against it with little to no warning.
The Benghazi / Petraeus Affair
September 11th, for the past 11 years, has been a dicey day. Obviously, the one in 2001 was the worst; however, our intelligence and counter-terrorism forces have been vigilant to the point where we really had not had to deal with any actual attacks on that particular day. 2012 saw that streak come to an end, as a group of terrorists laid siege to the U. S. embassy in Benghazi, Libya, kidnapping and then killing our ambassador and three others. Initially, the State Department blamed the attack on a spontaneous reaction to the film The Innocence of Muslims, a 16-minute film that made a great deal of fun over Mohammad. In the past few days (see why you write these things after the year is done?), the report has come out calling it “sloppy security.”
Conflicting reports came out about the threat level surrounding that particular embassy, and there were even conflicting reports on our reaction to the attack once we knew it was underway. Even with the report, many people still feel that the entire story is not known. Why would that be? Well, when a cover-up or misdirection is the initial response, how are the American people to know when the next answer is the right one?
But, surely, the director of the Central Intelligence Agency, or the Secretary of State, could get the answers and bring them out, correct? This, too, was not to be in 2012. Thanks to a sexual harassment complaint launched in April and concluded in August, an affair between the CIA director, retired General David Petraeus, and his biographer, was revealed. This “trump card” was not played until after the election, and was used to oust Petraeus before he could give official testimony as the CIA director. At the same time, the Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, couldn't testify due to scheduling conflicts, then due to the “flu.” It may be just as well; she doesn't have a great history of having a very good memory when she's placed under oath. Additionally, the African Command commander was relieved of his position shortly after the attack.
September 11, 2001 is generally considered a failure of intelligence. The more we learn about September 11, 2012, it looks less like a failure of intelligence and more a failure to take appropriate defensive action based on that intelligence. To put it more bluntly, we hung our own countrymen out to dry, and four of them are no longer with us.
The Fiscal Cliff
If Benghazi's problem was inaction, then the CIA and State have learned it from the U. S. Congress. Over three years of Senate inaction have left us with a budget that is nearly 4 years old; Obamacare deferred-until-the-next-election mandates will kick in; we're about to hit the extended-several-times debt ceiling; across-the-board cuts, called “sequestration,” a compromise from the last debt ceiling expansion, are set to kick in; and the so-called “Bush tax cuts” which were extended a few times are once again set to expire (itself a concept that probably deserves a spot on a ridiculous list at some point). Since that's a lot to say, the term “fiscal cliff” was coined to describe these economic events all hitting at the same time.
What is required to keep the next U. S. national sport from being fiscal cliff diving? A budget. Will that be the solution presented? Probably not. As I write this (on the 1st), the Senate has passed a compromise bill, but several House members do not seem to approve. When the next congress is seated later this week, that bill will be invalid. Bills proposed by the president and the Senate have been rightly termed “unserious” by Republicans; however, their bills are not very serious either. On a family budget that's $24,000 in the red each year, we're cutting $360. Neither side wants to do the hard work of cutting spending where it needs to be cut.
Here's hoping the water is deep enough at the bottom of this cliff that we don't break our necks.
Mitt Romney Loses
I covered my incredulity at the results of the election in the ridiculous post; but here, the negative is that we do not have Mitt Romney at the helm to guide our nation away from this cliff. Not since Sarah Palin have I witnessed such a successful character assassination, where his positives became negatives, and his successes presented as disqualifications.
As a business, America is failing. The Securities and Exchange Commission wouldn't let our stock be traded. We need someone who cares enough about our country to make hard decisions about what needs to be cut, so that a leaner America can emerge and once again regain her strength. Who better to do that than someone who ran a company that did that for businesses over and over again? And what if this someone had also donated his entire inheritance to charity, and given 2 years of his life for his religion? Seems like a no-brainer to me.
I know some of my fellow conservatives had some problems with him on social issues, or the size and scope of the state. I wasn't 100% with him (though in an isidewith.com survey, I scored 97% Romney), but if our country is not economically viable, social and domestic policy matter little; at that point, we'll be answering to someone else anyway.
Cross an Atlantic hurricane with a nor'easter, and it's not good. Hurricane Sandy battered much of the U. S. east coast in late October, merging with a northern storm just before Halloween, leading many to call it “Frankenstorm.” Its wake was no laughing matter, though, with over 100 dead. New York and New Jersey sustained the hardest direct hit, and current estimates have it as the second most costly storm on record, just behind 2005's Hurricane Katrina.
Those two states provided a stark contrast in dealing with preparation and relief. New York City was particularly bad, with refugees being evicted from hotels for the “show must go on” New York Marathon, while generators were pulled from relief efforts to power the tents for the race. Mayor Bloomberg, at first a strong proponent of continuing to hold the race, changed his mind, and the organizers agreed to cancel it. Meanwhile, the Federal government has yet to vote on any special aid for Sandy relief; the Senate passed a bill, but the House won't take up any legislation except the fiscal cliff. (And these are the people we want in charge of health care? But I digress.)
Hurricane Sandy, Sandy Hook Elementary School, Sandra Fluke - 2012 was a bad year for disasters named Sandy.
Lance Armstrong Revelations
Lance Armstrong was a 7-time Tour de France champion. He did it while fighting cancer, and founding a charitable foundation. However, he had been fighting doping charges for years, and in 2012, decided to stop fighting the charges. All his wins have been vacated, Olympic medals stripped, and the Livestrong Foundation that he founded has kicked him out. His defense is that he was not taking any substance that was not banned, and that he had done nothing other than what others had done.
Even if we take him at his word - if everyone took the same enhancement, that's still a terrible way to determine athletic prowess. Professional sports should not be about who has the best chemistry; it should be people training their bodies to perform a specific task so well that no one else can do it equally. I'm not so naïve as to think that this means that no one is going to try; even NASCAR has had its fair share of drug problems. However, anything short of pure physical ability will inevitably lead to more and more use, and more experimenting. The NFL is already dealing with players who feel they were unfairly exploited and put in harm's way. How much worse would it be for the players who tried experimental (i.e., not-banned-yet) drugs whose side effects were unknown until much later?
There you have it. 2012 didn't lead to the end of the world, but there was much that we will be happy to see pass into the rear-view mirror. Other issues will still be here for us in 2013, waiting to be dealt with then. May we have the fortitude to do so.
There's something about liberals. Sure, they believe pretty much the opposite of everything I do, but the way they go about things really puzzles me, especially the public ones that get a lot of press. Morgan K. Freeberg over at House of Eratosthenes has once again proved why he was one of the first ever “Daily Reads” I put out here. He's the sort of person who, once an idea takes hold, will noodle it out until he gets it. Today, he's analyzed the phenomenon where something we can do is declared impossible (ex. win in Iraq), while something we can't do is declared as their goal (ex. eliminate poverty - see Matthew 26:11; the poor aren't going anywhere).
I'd been trying to come up with a good way to illustrate the projection the liberals show (assuming that their latent feelings are the up-front feelings of their political opposites). In fact, there is a great example in all of the hype surrounding Barack Obama's clinching of the Democrat nomination for President. It's only historic to people who focus on race - and those are the same people telling us that we shouldn't be focusing on race. The most historic thing about Barack Obama's nomination is that he's the first person in history to defeat the Clinton war machine (and, to give him his due, that is a significant accomplishment).
Morgan also covers the over-compensation angle - you know, the stereotypical guy who buys a muscle car to substitute for lack of anatomical size. I forget where I heard it, but there's a saying that “if you have to tell someone you're generous, you probably aren't.” Back to Jesus talking about the poor, He said that our left hand should not know what our right hand is doing. (Matthew 6:2-3)
Go check out his post - he thoroughly dissects and analyzes this phenomenon.
Friday, October 26, 2007
Daniel J. Summers
There is something that has been bugging me, and thanks to an episode of Real Time with Bill Maher, I'm getting around to addressing it. Here is the transcript which we'll be discussing - a strong language warning is in effect. (Quoted portions here will be sanitized.) I'll state up front that Bill Maher is a comedian, so I understand that some of this is his schtick. I'll also state that I'm not picking on him, just using what he said as an example of an argument I've heard hundreds of time. The argument is this - current practitioners of Christianity have it all wrong. Jesus was accepting and loving, not full of hate like today's Christians.
We'll start with Maher's monologue…
And finally, New Rule: If the choice in '08 is between Rudy and Hillary, “values voters” must do the Christian thing and choose Hillary. Of course, I think all religion is nuts, but at least she practices it the way Jesus suggested: privately. Like a Dick Cheney energy meeting.
I'll certainly grant him one thing - though Hillary's husband is a louse, they are both still married in their first marriage. But, apart from that, the only time Hillary goes to church is when there's a good photo op, whereas Giuliani has not pretended to be religious.
Plus, she's raised an admirable daughter, while Rudy's kids couldn't hate him more if they were New York City firefighters.
And let's not forget, Hillary didn't commit adultery. Her husband did. And afterwards, she did the Christian thing and forgave him. And then she had a GPS unit implanted in his [manhood]. But the important thing is, she forgave him!
I included these just for a chuckle or two. He does make a few good points. Some may speculate about whether her forgiveness was politically calculated or not, but regardless, she did forgive him, even after the one reason given in Scripture as allowing divorce (more on that later).
Now, I bring all this up because this weekend in Washington is the “Values Voters Convention.” Three days of peace, love and hypocrisy. Where the Republican frontrunners will spend the week kissing the [backsides] of 2,000 social conservatives who despise liberals, homosexuals, Muslims, Mexicans and Nobel Prize winners. And who believe the sound of a condom wrapper being opened makes angels die.
Now we start with the elitism and name-calling. I listen to and read conservative commentary, I am friends with many conservatives, and I consider myself to be a conservative as well. I don't despise liberals, though I do despise their viewpoints. I don't despise homosexuals. I'll admit that I'm a little apprehensive of Muslims, but living and working around them for four months while I was deployed certainly helped ease that apprehension. I have no problems with Mexicans at all - however, I believe they should emigrate to this country according to our laws. And the last line isn't even worthy of a comment. :)
It's kind of like a “Star Trek” convention, only the virgins are angry - and they think outer space is just a theory. So, Ann Coulter, if you've got any more “[queer]” jokes, this is the room for you.
On the contrary, most “values voters” are not virgins; they just ascribe to God's version of sexuality. And, they know that outer space isn't just a theory; God created it. And, most conservatives I know can parse words well enough to realize that what Ann Coulter was making fun of the railroading of Isaiah Washington and the lack of manliness of John Edwards - not using the slur against Edwards.
And I know that if you can look at the war in Iraq, the melting environments and the descent of America into “idiocracy,” and still think our biggest problems are boobies during the Super Bowl and the “war on Christmas,” then you don't have values, you have issues.
We disagree on the war in Iraq. Global warming is a religion, not science, and information keeps coming out every week disproving this religion, with it's “indulgences” in the form of carbon credits. Conservatives are also concerned about the lack of knowledge amongst the public, which is why we are in favor of trying other alternatives to the proven failed government school system. Broadcast standards are what they are - whine all you want, that's why your show is on HBO. And the “war on Christmas” is an assault on freedom of religion, one of the bedrock principles of this country. I'll agree, “we” have issues, but by “we” I mean this entire nation.
If you had “values,” you'd draw the line at torture. But a startling number of people who call themselves Christians don't. And I'm pretty sure if you asked, “What would Jesus veto,” it wouldn't be health care for sick kids.
Sure, we'll draw the line at torture - but not your definition of torture, which is “pretty much anything that makes the detainee uncomfortable.” And I'm pretty sure Jesus would have vetoed this latest S-CHIP bill, which isn't health care for sick kids, it's health insurance for middle-class kids.
Let me take this opportunity for a rabbit-trail rant. What is it with liberals and dishonest euphemisms? “Taxes” become “contributions”, health “insurance” becomes health “care”, “religion” becomes “hate” (unless it's Islam, then it's hallowed and is not to be trifled with), and “interrogation” is “torture”. As the Godfather has said, “Words mean things.” If they were honest about their agenda, the public would never buy it. Who here is against “health care for children”? (crickets chirping) Who here is against “taxpayer (that's you and me, by the way)-funded health insurance for children of middle-class families through age 25”? (show of hands) That's what I thought.
But back to Bill - here it is, folks, his grand finale…
Why, it's almost like “values voters” don't really believe Jesus was right about anything. [in mock attack ad voice] “Jesus Christ: wrong on gays, wrong on taxes, wrong on torture, and wrong for America.”
Here's a passage I've heard I don't know how many times, used to prove this exact point. It's from John 8, where the people brought a woman caught in the act of adultery to Jesus. Their law said she should be stoned, but they wanted to see what Jesus would say. We'll look at John 8:3-11 from the Holman Christian Standard Bible (click the link to read them, if you think I'm quoting them incorrectly, or to read it in a different translation).
3 Then the scribes and the Pharisees brought a woman caught in adultery, making her stand in the center. 4 “Teacher,” they said to Him, “this woman was caught in the act of committing adultery. 5 In the law Moses commanded us to stone such women. So what do You say?” 6 They asked this to trap Him, in order that they might have evidence to accuse Him.
Jesus stooped down and started writing on the ground with His finger. 7 When they persisted in questioning Him, He stood up and said to them, "The one without sin among you should be the first to throw a stone at her."
Oooh, that's good! That's usually where the argument ends. “You're not sinless, so who are you to “cast stones” at me?” They interpret “casting stones” as “saying what I'm doing is wrong.” Rather than excusing sin, though, this is a prohibition against meting out punishment. Casting stones was executing a death-sentence judgment against someone. But there's more!
8 Then He stooped down again and continued writing on the ground. 9 When they heard this, they left one by one, starting with the older men. Only He was left, with the woman in the center. 10 When Jesus stood up, He said to her, "Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?"
11 “No one, Lord,” she answered.
"Neither do I condemn you," said Jesus.
“But look! Jesus SAID ‘I don't condemn you’!!!” Again, calling a sin a sin is not condemnation. But, there's one part of this verse that conveniently gets snipped, and it's the part that we as Christians believe is the most important part.
"Go, and from now on do not sin any more."
The emphasis in the above is, of course, mine. Jesus did not condemn her, but He also did not say that what she was doing was “just the way she was, and we should accept it” or “fine with Him as long as she wasn't hurting anyone else.” He forgave, then gave her the charge of turning away from that sin. That is the truly beautiful part of this story - we don't have to continue sinning, to continue to be a slave to sin, once we have met the saving power of Christ.
In logic, a “straw man” is a fallacious argument of an opponent's position that is misconstrued but argued as fact. That is what people who espouse these arguments are doing. They are setting up a straw man of this religion that Jesus never taught, so they can tear down our practice of it. They're wrong, and we should call them on it. There is a difference between being meek and defending the faith. :)
So, the next time someone tells you what Jesus would do, (as Paul Harvey would say) now you know the rest of the story.
Tuesday, October 2, 2007
Daniel J. Summers
Another busy time, another installment of “Plagiarism Is the Sincerest Form of Flattery”. See, when we re-blog here, we're honest and up-front. :)
First up is an article about the cost of illegal immigration for Los Angeles County for one month, from radio talk show host and author Neal Boortz. The numbers are staggering.
Next up, a link to a pundit I never thought I'd link to, except as a set up to refute. However, Susan Estrich and I agree on this issue, which she details in "A Weak Moment for Women in Banning Larry Summers". (I don't agree that what he originally said was wrong - but the rest of it is spot-on.)
Via Morgan Freeberg, we have reports that "A Quiet Triumph May Be Brewing". Could it be that we've come up with a way to get most remaining al-Qaeda in the same place, then send them to their 72 virgins (or raisins, depending on the translation)?
And finally, we wrap up with some humor. Rachel Lucas learned to make thought and speech bubbles in PhotoShop, and produced a masterpiece she calls "Three Men and a Hillary". (Language warning in effect for the comments on that post…)
Looks like there may be an opening to work on a Presidential campaign. Democratic Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton made a speech in Silicon Valley yesterday, and in the process, demonstrated the importance of this job opening…