Don't stop writing the troops

An acquaintance of ours recently told us that his son was in the unit that recently lost three female Marines and a female medic. The son told him that the support they had been receiving in the form of letters and packages from home, other than from immediate family, had been waning, and they were reading that as a diminuition in support from home.

It only takes a minute to write a little note to one of our warfighters, and only a little longer to fill a small box with hard candy, incidentals, etc. that they use to give to Iraqi kids and families.

If you don't have someone in particular to send to, I suggest checking with your local church. They will likely know someone from your area who is deployed, and can point you to someone who knows what that particular person might need. If that doesn't work, there are a lot of sites online that can help:

http://www.operationmilitarypride.org/packages.html
http://anysoldier.com/index.cfm
http://www.treatsfortroops.com

… and others

Why I don't fly (unless I have to)

I recently got back from flying to Oklahoma to see my father. He’s getting on in years, and has undergone four surgeries on his leg. This last one was an emergency surgery. He is not recovering as he should, and I don’t know how much longer I’m going have him around. After years of “Yeah, we gotta get together sometime,” every minute with him has become precious.

Arranging the trip on short notice reminded me of why I have avoided flying since 9/11. First came the seemingly random pricing, then the predatory municipal fees on rental cars and hotel rooms, then the dismal service and amenities on flights and the cattle car experience that was once reserved for Soviet air travellers.

And now, of course, the security. A writer I recently read (I apologize for not remembering the source) noted that the security rituals we go through at airports — the sacremental disrobing, the blessing of the laptops (which must, of course, be annointed separately from all the other sacred electronic equipment), and the ritual confiscation of the nailclippers — have nothing whatsoever to do with security. It has everything to do with social engineering and the acceptance of government intrusion.

As I was walking through security this time, a TSA agent stopped me. He was young, and had that crew-cut, almost buff look of the law enforcement wannabe. He “advised” me that I should take off my sneakers. I noted that they contained no metal, and asked if it was required. No, I was told, but if I declined it would make me look suspicious and be a reason for a more through, invasive, and time-consuming search. The message was clear: Take the advice, or it will be even worse. I had almost forgotten the word “supercilious” until I dealt with a TSA agent. And then, as I was walking away barefoot from the man, I realized that was exactly the word I was searching for.

With a budget of billions of dollars and thousands upon thousands of the best minds in the country, Homeland Security and President Bush have still not realized that it’s not the fact that someone can get on an airplane with a nail clipper that constitutes a threat, but that someone with a nail clipper can take over an airplane.

I can’t wait for the x-ray machines that will allow these pricks to see us nude. And we won’t say a word. The analogies of civilians lining up nude for government security people are pretty obvious. But as long as we choose to be sheep, we will be treated like sheep. Perhaps we deserve the contempt our government displays towards us.

Every security person I have talked to (and I know quite a few) are as cynical about this as am I. Nobody thinks this really stops any hijackers. It’s just a way to get us used to losing any sense of personal privacy.

But I line up. My father is ill, and I don’t have time to drive.

There’s a little I can do. But there are a few things. I can use my pocketbook. It used to be that my cutoff for driving versus flying on a vacation or long weekend was eight hours. If I couldn’t drive there in six hours, I would fly. Now it is eighteen. And if it is a simple
long weekend and not an emergency, I’ll stay near my home. There’s lots to do around where I live; I have discovered much about my local area I didn’t know. Every place has its hidden treasures and I don’t have to be diminished in order to enjoy the ones near my home.

And I can use my vote. Unfortuately, none of the candidates I have seencare about personal privacy. Unless it involves abortion, of course.

The airlines wonder why they are losing business and running in the red. They have used the federal government as their buttboys for years, using FAA and now Homeland Security regulations to make travel as unenjoyable as possible. Oh, it’s not that *we* don’t want you to have two carry-ons, you see, it’s the FAA. Have a pretzel and shut the hell up. I hope they go under. There’s a demand for flight, and something will arise to will meet that demand; whatever replaces what we have now will have to be better.

The Revisionism of the Supreme Court

The Supreme Court has just accomplished two assaults on the liberties of Americans. In the first, Kelo, they denied us the basis of all of our other rights, that of private property.

As worrisome as that is, it doesn’ bother me as much as the assault on religion in the US. This is not merely an assault on rights, but it is an attack on the fundamentally religious belief in inalienable rights as such. There are a number of problems with the ruling against the posting of the Ten Commandments. The first is that the SCOTUS equates “offending” someone with “establishing” a religion. I have never heard that it is unconstitutional to offend. How European. This is one more step down a slippery slope that the petty antichristians in the US are greasing with abandon.

But more important than the increasing antipathy of both the atheistic left and the anticlerical libertarians towards practicing Christians is a revisionism that would make a Soviet propaganda minister proud. The agenda is not merely to remove references to God from all public discussion, but to deny the importance of Christian thought and Christian morality to the development of liberty and of the basic political ideals that make America what it is.

It is fine to create a memorial to Abraham Lincoln and carve his famous “government of the people, by the people, and for the people” in marble for everyone to see. It is now a crime to acknowledge in a public place the original author of the phrase, John Wycliffe, who gave his life translating the Bible into English. In 1382, in his dedication, he wrote “This Bible is for the Government of the People, by the People, for the People.” Similarly, while Luther was beholden to Frederich the Wise, and opposed the peasant uprising, it was a belief in a equality before God that drove him to translate the New Testament into German. It was this recognition of the importance of the value of all individuals in the eyes of God that provided the impetus for our liberty today. Luther’s “The Liberty of a Christian Man” was primarily concerned with the individual’s standing before God. Luther states “A Christian man is the most free lord of all, and subject to none; a Christian man is the most dutiful servant of all, and subject to everyone… ” He was hardly a fan of democracy, but the extention into politics was inevitable and inexorable. The history of the Reformation is the history of the slow, painful, birth of our liberty.

Atheism, in contrast, has been a consistent opponent of individual liberty. There is no affirmation of the divine in every individual, because there is no divine. The call to the greater good has been an unresistable call to tyranny in virtually every truly atheistic state. Karl Marx was correct in his observation that Protestantism is the ideology of capitalism.

Back in the 1970s and 1980s, the Soviet practice of removing the images of those who had fallen from favor from public photos and erasing mention of them from historical documents was a self-parody. Now the Supreme Court has begun the same process. The contribution of Christianity to our society is to be erased. Sure, we can practice our dirty little religion at home, where nobody can see us and be offended. But acknowledge the contribution of Christianity to our liberties? Heaven forbid. Or, more correctly, Supreme Court forbid.