Archive for March, 2005

What\’s Next?

Thursday, March 31st, 2005

I add my voice to all those who offer heartfelt condolences to the Schindler Family. They have endured what no parent, no sibling should be called upon to endure. I pray that they will be comforted and that they will find peace.

There are events in everyone’s experience that force us to ponder whether or not fairness, equity and justice exist in our world. A drunk driver slams, head-on, into an automobile carrying four teenagers to a high school dance, instantly terminating lives and futures. A suicide bomber hatefully extinguishes the lives of people he doesn’t know. An earthquake topples stone structures that have withstood hundred of years of storms, burying thousands in their sleep. A child is born without limbs. A burglar violates the sanctity of our home. A killer wave drowns 300,000. Who is not tempted to ask, “Why? Why us; why me?\” or “Why not me?\”

Terri Schiavo’s death is an injustice quantum levels beyond these. Why? It is because this is an injustice proceeding from our system of justice. Her death is a direct result of the ruling of a judge. She was starved to death at the insistence of a court of law. The capital crime she committed was not being able to speak or otherwise make her will known to others. Her death was eminently preventable. A greater magnitude of injustice arises from the system itself, when other judges rule regarding process rather than fact. Terri was subjected, by the courts of Florida and the United States, to a fate that a mass murderer would never be required to endure. If this matter is not properly addressed; if appropriate redress for this injustice is somehow denied, what will our future hold? What is next? Soylent Green?

Strange Bedfellows

Thursday, March 31st, 2005

It does not bother me that Jessie Jackson has come to the aid of the Schindler family, offering his support to keep their daughter alive. It does not matter that he might have a broader agenda. It is a good thing that people with divergent viewpoints on other issues can unite their voices in this plea for justice. Politics may make strange bedfellows but the life of one helpless, innocent individual and a Constitutional crisis make stranger bedfellows still. Imagine Sean Hannity, David Boice, Ralph Nader, Laura Ingraham, Pat Buchanan, George Bush, Lanny Davis, Pope John Paul II, Laura Bush, Mel Gibson, Joe Lieberman, the afore mentioned Jessie Jackson, and a host of lesser-knowns of differing political stripe agreeing on anything. This anomaly cannot simply be ascribed to the broken clock metaphor; it must truly be important.

One Idea

Wednesday, March 30th, 2005

There are no easy fixes to the education problems facing California or the nation. There is too much money and there are too many entrenched interests involved to foster or garner consensus. We will have to chip away at the edges until we are able to unearth the fault line that will break open the issue wide enough to allow for more than just peripheral tinkering.

I lived in Germany for a few years; my children went to school there. My wife is German and is a product of the German school system. While it is not a perfect system it has produced some excellent results. While German culture, structured and regimented, dictates certain standards with which Americans may have difficulty (on a number of levels), there are some good ideas that could, and perhaps should be employed here. I offer just one idea that would seem to be potentially quite beneficial.

German schools typically observe a 5 week summer vacation (regionally staggered to minimize vacation traffic jams). This reduces the loss (summertime cerebral evaporation) of fundamental information between school years and would provide the equivalent of a minimum of two additional years of education over the course of the student’s schooling, creating in essence a K-9 or K-10 structure. This is potentially quite valuable because, as we are fully aware, hormone induced attention attrition is the primary cause of problems (and boredom) in high school. If a child could receive his or her full foundational education by age 15 or 16, he or she would be better served, as would the culture. Having graduated from “fundamentalâ€? (\”fun\”) school, the young person moves on to either a trade school or college prep for two years. Emerging from these schools (or one school in which both purposes are fulfilled), the young person is either prepared for college and ultimately the professions, or is prepared to play an active roll in the economy as a skilled tradesperson. Either way, we would enable 18 year olds to immediately become productive and useful members of the society; benefiting everyone concerned.

De Jure du jour

Tuesday, March 29th, 2005

The oft-repeated argument that “we are a nation of laws, not of men� is in need of honest evaluation. From the perspective of original intent there can be no doubt that it is certainly true. We the people have chosen a system of laws as a form of governance as opposed to the “divine right of kings� philosophy of rule. Who can argue with that? On the other hand, in the context of the current debate over the fate of Terri Schiavo, the recent interpretation of that statement to mean that laws are more important than men is sophistry at least and foolishness at best. I propose a test. Let us re-examine some of our historic documents from this law-centric world view.

Beginning with the Declaration of Independence we find that we must address the subject in the first sentence “When in the course of legal events it becomes necessary for one set of laws to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another set of laws—-.â€? Continuing into the next paragraph we are forced to change the first sentence to read “The law holds these truths to be self-evident, that all laws are created equal—. –That to secure these rights governments are instituted among laws, deriving their just powers from the consent of the law. That whenever any form of government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the right of the law to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new government.â€? The first three words in the Preamble to the Constitution must then be changed from “We the People–â€? to “The Law–â€?. Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address will find new meaning with the phrase “that government of the law and by the law and for the law shall not perish from the earth.â€?

The absurdity of the whole notion is obvious and supremely laughable. Our society suffers sufficiently from De Jure du jour without changing history and the meanings of historical documents.

We are indeed a nation of laws but this nation and its laws were instituted to serve its citizens, the people. Is the servant greater than the master?

Richter Scale

Saturday, March 26th, 2005

It is far from hyperbole to state that the debate concerning the fate of Terri Schiavo is one of the most important of our generation if not the history of our nation, if not in the history of humanity. Life and death and personal rights versus the power and authority of the state have always occupied center stage in the human drama, but never before have so many been drawn into the discussion. It is not that things like this have never happened before for they have; millions and millions of times.

This issue has struck a particular chord for several reasons. On the most profane of levels it is quintessential reality TV. On the most sacred, it causes us to confront the reality of our existence and essential matters pertaining to our souls; mortality versus eternity, and our relationship with Deity. For some (atheists, moral relativists, and most bio-ethicists recently quoted) this is simply not a big deal; we live a while, spew a few seeds, and then we die. As theories of life go this one is simple but hardly elegant; lacking appreciation for obvious complexities, ignoring the realties of conscience and consciousness, and devoid of grace in every sense of the word. Still, the right exists to harbor such beliefs. For others (arguably the majority) Terri’s court ordered death represents far more. In her innocent silence the injustice visited upon all the innocent has found resonance. The deepening rumble reverberates through the culture like a low magnitude quake causing a great uneasiness, an unsettling queasiness that shakes people at their very core. Is this the precursor to a larger disturbance?

(In German, the word Richter means judge. We associate justice with the scales held by the blindfolded statue. Is \”Richter Scale\” a pun representing some significant socio-seismic event to erupt from this injustice?)

Double Jeopardy

Friday, March 25th, 2005

Any time innocent people are killed or harmed it is a tragedy. So it is with the school shooting in Minnesota. All compassionate people grieve with the families of the victims. All religious people will pray for everyone concerned and for a respite from the horrific acts of those whose regard for life has been reduced to brutal callousness. Our search for meaning in such imponderable circumstances more often than not diminishes our comprehension while magnifying our sense of the meaninglessness of life and the maliciousness of men. Often it is only our faith, fragile or fervent, that is capable of seeing us through such trying moments. Our love for those whose lives have been taken can help us find solace in the potential eternality of family. And always, justice will be sought of those whose choices have violated us so fundamentally and absolutely.

Today the major media is talking about this boy’s “ultra right-wing� Nazi beliefs and his love of guns. Few have mentioned the Prozac in his diet. Which of these facts go to the heart of this tragedy? What caused this person to leap the chasm between troubled youth and mass-murderer? What altered his mentality to the degree required to commit such an act? Was it the “right-wing� belief structure? Was it the people who failed to recognize the potential for trouble? Was it Nazi doctrine? Was it the gun he took from his grandfather before taking his grandfather’s life? Or was it the mind/mood altering substance that was part of his daily regimen, or the doctor who prescribed it?

Those with an agenda will drive this story as they have with every event that contains elements that run tangential to their purposes. We simply need to be aware of those who would hijack this tragic event to further terrorize the innocent. Exercise wisdom as you chose your source for news.

Separation Anxiety

Thursday, March 24th, 2005

In the seemingly endless discussion that surrounds and permeates the painful drama that is Terri Schiavo’s twilight life, there are few facets that have eluded public observation. If only this were true of the courtroom debate where, it seems, no evidence is Germaine unless it preceded by the proper amount and degree of genuflection. Unless one sufficiently seasons his or her argument with the proper amount of Latin, the High Priests of our National Neo-Secularist religion will not deign to entertain even the simplest plea of a parent who asks only for minimal nourishment for their child while new evidence (or previously ignored evidence) can be properly translated into the language of the adepts.

For years the debate has raged over the contrived issue of “Separation of Church and State� when the real and simmering issue has long been the “Separation of Powers�, violated daily for decades by the Judiciary. Now however, as the fog clears, it seems as though our government truly is guilty of violating the “Establishment� clause of the US Constitution. We have created a state religion after all. It is our Judicial System.

The Inconvenient Among Us

Monday, March 21st, 2005

I have heard plenty of people say that they wouldn’t want to live “that way�, meaning with a significantly diminished capacity to enjoy the life that remains after some tragedy or another. I have said similar things myself. I have told my son “If I ever look like that� (like someone who shot a sofa for its pelt or is otherwise the victim of a couture-coma), or “If I ever start behaving like (insert name of prominent liberal activist here), please just shoot me!� I could probably find more than a handful of people willing to oblige even without my consent; motivated primarily by an intolerance of my opinions. I can say I would prefer a minute with the Grim Reaper to decades with Big Nurse, but unless I have left written, legal instructions to let me die in the event of my irreversible incapacity, the medical profession has an ethical obligation to keep me alive and the courts have a legal obligation to do the same.

Death is ultimately inescapable, unavoidable, unalterable, final. It comes as swiftly and suddenly as a bolt of lightning. It arrives slowly and imperceptibly as the movement of an hour hand. It can be as welcome as a warm and scented breeze in spring. It can be as unwelcome as the icy arctic blast that numbs all and everything but the soul. Death will call on each of us in its own time. As fatalistic as this may seem, it is not. There is purpose in life and a good and valid reason to endure till its end. As we are often unable to comprehend the value of adversity or the benefit provided by an obstacle in our path until we have journeyed beyond the critical moments, so it is with mortality itself. The trials we are called upon to endure have significance well beyond our earthly sojourn. If you don’t happen to share this belief, no matter; you will.

Terri Schiavo’s life is important. It is as important a life as any life ever lived. The quality of her of her life is not the issue. The convenience of her death is. There are many people who serve out their mortal probation as opportunities for others to serve. Look at the children who are born with lifelong challenges and little other ability than to love. Look at the parents who serve them, who invest that helpless being with all the love they possess. Is there value in this? Who can doubt it? Or should all seemingly useless lives be terminated for the sake of the convenience of the rest of us? How selfish could we become if no one was in need of our compassion?

The Nazi regime was the last group to officially sponsor euthanasia for the incapacitated. Those who could not care for themselves (and plenty of others who could but were in other ways defective) were simply put to death. One might expect such a thing from a culture whose most zealous supporters wore a death’s head on their caps. Still, no acceptable excuse could be found when the practice of exterminating Germany’s Schiavo’s was examined during the Nuremburg Trials. More than a few German judges were sentenced to prison, and even to death, for their roles in sacrificing innocent lives on the alter of convenience.

Has our nation become a culture of death? A significant number of citizens defend the practice of abortion under all circumstances effectively employing this procedure as a birth control method, again raising the issue of life versus convenience. The justice system is conflicted over the rights of convicted criminals versus the rights of their victims. Callous judges, heirs to the errors of the national socialist philosophy of intellectual elitism, pull the plug on the innocent and inconvenient while sentencing the John Coueys of the world to two years behind bars, only to allow them safe return to the streets to haunt, rape, and murder other unsuspecting children. Hollywood elevates the stature of the vile and violent while reducing moral standards to the lowest common denominator. The “oldâ€? press claims that death by starvation is painless but fails to acknowleged that death by Cyclon B was also painless. The \”old\” press and their allies in the criminal justice system still try to keep convicted murderers from their executioners, as if an average of 25 years on death row isn\’t enough. (There are 625 convicted murderers awaiting death in California alone. Why are they permitted to live so long under sentence of death? The answer is simple; they are not inconvenient.)

Meanwhile, we witness Democrat lawmakers attempt to block efforts to provide the infinitely innocent Terri Schiavo the same rights granted to these murderers, all the while crying foul; that the Constitution is being abused by the Republicans. This would never be an issue for the Congress if the Judiciary was properly doing its job. Florida Representitive Debbie Wasserman Schultz\’s sophomoric sophist tirade commingling this issue with the Republican stance on the defense of marriage is emblematic of the wafer-thin rationale upon which the Democrats stand. Still, it is clear where they stand.

Are we a culture of death? We are if we don’t stand up for the rights of the inconvenient. You know what to do. Make a call. Send an email. Vote for people who are motivated more by principle than by power. Impeach judges who legislate from the bench and thwart the democratic will of the people.

Neo-Pagan Revenge

Monday, March 14th, 2005

General George Patton was quoted as saying that the American soldier was victorious in the war in Europe because he was armed with the M-1 Garand semi-automatic rifle while the majority of his counterparts were fighting with bolt action rifles. A good case can be made in favor of this argument. While it is certainly true and clearly contributory, I would lean in the direction of another significant component proffered by an historian whose name I unfortunately do not recall. He contends that the war against the Germans and the Japanese was won by the American soldier because he was better able to overcome the loss of leadership in combat situations. While the German or Japanese soldier was inherently inhibited, by the nature of his cultural upbringing, from exercising decisive control over his comrades in circumstances arising from the death or incapacity of his commanding
officer(s), the average individual American serviceman could almost always be expected to rise to the occasion. American ingenuity was not and is not just a catchphrase. American corporals filling in admirably for sergeants, lieutenants, or captains was less the exception than the rule in tense, critical, and decisive moments in the midst of battle.

The corporal who was running the Third Reich at that time could have learned some lessons in leadership from the average American soldier; from the native ability to make the best of any situation. Instead, his paranoia prevented nearly everyone around him from taking any initiative. In his excellent and thought-provoking book “Hitler’s Three Struggles: The Neo-Pagan Revengeâ€?, Cuthbert Mann proposes the very real possibility that Hitler’s hatred of Jews was more than an old European tradition, but rather that it ultimately stemmed from the fact that Judaism produced the Christ who preached a gospel of individual worth and self-responsibility that became Christianity; the genesis of revolutionary individualism and democratic government (governance arising from the consent of the governed; the dynamic that produced the American citizen-soldier). This self-centered (not selfish) philosophy ran counter to Hitler’s faith in his own version of Greco-Roman paganism, in which the panoply of gods would deign from time to time to inhabit a few elite human tabernacles making these particular mortals gods and leaving the rest as \”Untermenschen\”. A mere glance at the film archives from the Nuremburg Nazi Party rallies unambiguously illustrates the overwhelming influence of ancient Rome in the quasi-religious rituals and accoutrement of Hitler’s party and Hitler’s Germany. Additionally, all were required to take a personal oath of allegiance to Hitler rather than to the State. Those who refused were visited in the night and never seen again. Throughout the war, Hitler never sacrificed the extermination of the Jews to Germany’s military requirements. Trains could always be found for the death camps even while the generals were crying for logistical support for the fronts. His “callingâ€? as the eradicator of the Jews (and ultimately Christians, had he been given the time) was far more important to him than the defense of his own country.

During the Cold War, according to recently declassified KGB documents, the Soviets often discussed invading the United States but always reached the same conclusion; they would never be successful for one specific reason; because of the hundreds of millions of firearms in the hands of average American citizens. They clearly understood that they could not subdue this nation militarily, short of the unthinkable option of mutual nuclear annihilation. They had to rethink the matter altogether. The only way to defeat America and her greatest asset, the average American, was to attack her in the place least accessible to the average American; the third and non-democratic branch of government; the American Judiciary.

When a person graduates from law school he or she becomes, by virtue of their oath, an officer of the court, an official member of the Judicial Branch of the United States Government. In and of itself, this is not a bad thing. Still, these people are not elected to these positions in government but rather are self-appointed. Attorneys are frequently elected to Legislative or Executive office, a clear conflict of interest and a clear violation of the separation of powers delineated in the Constitution. In these offices attorneys are free and able to make laws that favor their branch and their industry. They are free and able to perpetuate their self-interests. We as voting citizens are responsible for this problem. We should know better than to elect members of the Judicial Branch to serve in Legislative or Executive office.

There are other problems. Judges can, and all too frequently do override the democratic will of the people. Examples abound. Where this has happened, these unaccountable elitists have set themselves up as the law of the land, making law rather than interpreting it as is their proper function.

Then we have the ACLU, the American Civil Liberties Union. This outfit regularly persecutes religionists (and Christians with particular zeal) as a matter of course while at the same time defending (for free) groups such as NAMBLA (the North American Man Boy Love Association). Do you think they would defend a simple civil liberty such as a Second Amendment case? It is enlightening to see what they defend and who they pursue. They have recently gone after the Boy Scouts of America (a dangerous bunch, to be sure), Donald Rumsfeld, the Secretary of Defense (now he has to take time away from defending the country in order to defend himself), the Ten Commandments (obviously too simplistic when contrasted with the countless volumes that fill their law libraries), and God himself (who has no business being involved in the world he created or the government he inspired).

What they champion is equally out of sync with the majority of average Americans; same sex marriage, abortion rights, internet pornography, Ward Churchill, terrorists and suspected terrorists, the rights of illegal aliens, legalization of marijuana and other drugs, etc. Check out their website if you think I’m exaggerating. They would be more correctly recognized as the Anti-American Communist Lawyer’s Union, if they wished to cling to their acronym while observing the truth in advertising statutes they would require of the rest of us.

One must wonder if this isn’t the instrumentality the old KGB guys (and those who inherited their aspirations) looked to as their way to inflict the greatest possible harm on America while keeping the resourceful average citizen out of the loop. The average American has little or no direct access to or impact upon the actions of the ACLU, its clones, and its associates on the bench (Supreme Court Justice Ginsburg was an active member). Certainly, not since the days of the NSDAP has any group placed such a high priority on the persecution of religious people and such a low priority on the defense of their nation.

All Americans should familiarize themselves with this dangerous group of neo-pagans and get involved in whatever way possible to deny them the power they seek. Failure to do so will bring about conditions not unlike those experienced in Nazi Germany or Stalinist Russia. They are counting on the average American to forgo this fight, or not even notice until the battle is over. Remain vigilant. Inform your friends. Contribute to those who are fighting back.

Bin Hoggin\’

Sunday, March 13th, 2005

Among my few pet peeves is the lack of consideration some flyers show their fellow travelers. I have frequently boarded a flight near the end of the process with a seat assignment near the front, only to find no remaining space in the overhead bins for my reasonable-sized carry-on. I have frequently seen passengers put their often oversized
carry-ons into the overhead bins near the front of the craft only to take their seats in the rear. This act of selfishness requires those late-boarders to stow their bags under the seats in front of them (turning little leg room into less), check their bags on board for late placement in the baggage compartment (adding to the work load of an already busy crew), or forcing them to place their bags in bins near the rear of the craft, causing aisle log jams that further delay gate departures and unnecessary aisle congestion upon arrival. Anyone who has recently flown is fully aware of the fact that Osama Bin Laden is not the only person responsible for making air travel less enjoyable. The Overhead Bin Hoggin’s contribute to the major inconvenience of modern air travel.

Rather than simply complain, I offer this reasonable idea for consideration. I believe a derivation of this notion has been employed in times past, but for a different time and a different reason. I recommend it as a way to address the specific problem noted above for domestic flights (on overseas flights this does not appear to be too great a problem because people tend to want the stuff near at hand).

For those airlines that employ seat assignments, break the seating sections into zones. For a 737 or an MD 80, 6 zones should suffice. Each boarding pass will have a large number 1 through 6 placed quite visibly upon it in large font (perhaps in 6 different colors). After the families with small children and the Program Fliers have boarded, the remaining passengers board beginning with zone 1 (the section nearest the rear). Then, of course, Zone 2 and so on. If a Zone 1 person tries to board during Zone 3 boarding, he is simply asked to step aside to wait until all other passengers have boarded. After descending the jet way and entering the plane, the passenger holds his or her boarding pass up for the flight attendant to see. The overhead bins are marked with numbers 1-6, corresponding with the seating zones. If a person attempts to place his or her bag in a bin number not corresponding with the number on the boarding pass, the guilty party is immediately (insert consequence here).

While this might cause some confusion in the beginning, the flying public will quickly fall in line.

While I am at it, my other major pet peeve; the signs that say \”Your Tax Dollars at Work\”. Why spend extra tax dollars telling us that they are spending our tax dollars? I think most of us are fully aware that our tax dollars are being spent.