Tuesday, May 28, 2013

An Outlaw Regime

Where the broad public is concerned, knowledge of Barack Obama's intimate relationship with corruption has flowered in recent weeks thanks to the MSM finally paying attention to a trio of particular scandals. Namely, those scandals are the dereliction of duty and subsequent cover-up regarding Benghazi; the IRS targeting people and groups who openly disagree with Obama; and the DOJ's unprecedented surveillance of journalists.

Because so much ink has been spilled elsewhere delving into the details of those items, there is little reason to rehash the minutiae here. But all of us would be well served to step back, recap, and consider what these scandals tell us about Obama & Co...and in order to do that we must look much further back than the past few weeks.

Many Americans raised questions about Obama's past during his first presidential campaign, only to find themselves drowned out by an adversarial press corps that dismissed them as an unsavory stew of kooks, conspiracy theorists, bigots, and retrogrades.

When some tried to point out that Obama is closely connected to known terrorist Bill Ayers, the press downplayed the story and gullibly accepted Obama's false claim to have known Ayers only in passing and only by virtue of him being "a guy from my neighborhood" in Chicago...When some people tried to say it was important to think about the fact that Obama still belonged to a church led by an obviously racist pastor, the press responded by accusing them of being racists...And when people voiced concern over the fact that Obama is a product of Chicago's famously thuggish and shady political machine, they were ignored by the same news organizations that were never shy about suggesting that George W. Bush must be trigger-happy because he hails from Texas.

There was a telling interview prior to the 2008 election, back when Candidate Obama was hyping his plan to "spread the wealth around" and saying that raising the capital gains tax rate was one of his preferred means of facilitating that plan. Charlie Gibson mentioned an inconvenient truth by telling Obama that all through history, increases in that tax's rate have been followed by reductions in the amount of revenue it raises, while reductions in its rate have been followed by increases in its revenue. In response, our future president showed his true colors by changing his tune and saying that such facts were irrelevant because he wanted to raise the rate "for purposes of fairness." Translation: What really excites Obama is the idea of dictating to people based on his whims, not the idea of effectively helping those who need it.

Post-2008 events have confirmed pretty much everything Obama's early critics feared about him. His first term was marked by many transgressions that were serious but not sensational, like making recess appointments for reasons not allowed under the Constitution. It was also marked by appalling transgressions like the Fast and Furious operation -- a stunningly horrible fiasco which resulted in deaths that were easy to predict, and ended with the administration flooding the public with a series of lies in a pathetic attempt to avoid being held accountable.

Obama's first term was also marked by him issuing strong and sharply critical pronouncements regarding things he knew little about (see: Skip Gates, Trayvon Martin)...And by him ordering a private business (BP) how to spend its own money, even though the Constitution does not permit him to do anything of the kind...It was also marked by him engaging in crony capitalism (see: GE, Solyndra) that would have inspired his liberal fans to storm the White House with pitchforks had a Republican ever dared to do anything similar...And only now am I getting around to Obamacare, over which El Presidente established a dangerous and foolish precedent by ramming it through Congress on a party-line vote despite admitting that neither he nor any of the "aye" voters had bothered to read it.

But all of that represents only a fraction of the first-term iceberg, for none of the "new" scandals that have started to dog Obama are really new. Each of them occurred during his first term, but remained out of public view until his reelection was secure.  And they are so ghastly that they do outright violence to the foundation on which our country is built.

The character flaws revealed by Benghazi are multi-pronged. First the administration denied requests by their own people to beef up security due to credible threats of violence. Then, when that violence became reality and nearby military personnel were chomping at the bit to ride to the rescue, the administration ordered them not to. Then the administration covered up the fact that an al Quadea affiliate was responsible for the violence, apparently because that fact contradicted its campaign narrative that Obama had al Quadea on the run. And as if the cover-up was not already bad enough, the administration made it exponentially worse by targeting a patsy and jailing him in clear violation of the First Amendment.

The IRS's targeting of private citizens who disagree with Obama speaks for itself, especially when you consider that it is the only organ of government whose operations are governed by the principle that the people it investigates are guilty until proven innocent, rather than the other way around. Within my living memory, it used to be that any administration's use of the IRS to silence its critics would automatically lead to its undoing because even its biggest supporters would not stand for such a violation of the ethics of freedom.

Then there is the case of the Department of Justice spying on Associated Press journalists by wiretapping not only their work phone numbers, but their home phone numbers. This is yet another attack on the First Amendment, and in the grand scheme it might prove to be the most impactful of Obama's scandals because it has finally gotten the press's attention. It is hard not to laugh at the notion that the press itself needed to be targeted before its scruples were stirred, but then again, isn't that human nature, especially when the people involved are political animals?

These scandals are not the only ones, of course. Since they broke, it has been learned that the EPA has selected conservative groups for the same brand of "scrutiny" that the IRS selected them for. And there is the race-hustling shakedown known as Pigford, And Obama's old oath to bankrupt the coal industry.

No matter how you cut it, there is an overriding theme you cannot deny: The federal government under the direction of Barack Obama is an outlaw regime. It ignores the law both in letter and in spirit, and is hostile to the constraints placed on it by the Constitution. It considers anyone who disagrees with it to be be deserving of character assassination.

The regime is structured like a mid-century Mafia family. Its Don relays orders using intermediaries and without saying specific words in order to maintain a veneer of plausible deniability. Its hatchet men do not commit murder, but they are ruthless and relentless in their efforts to exerting the Don's will. Harassment and intimidation are the tools of their trade, and they do not hesitate to use them against innocent citizens.  

Because it operates under the faux legitimacy of having been elected, and because many of its constituents are ignorant where history and the Constitution are concerned, Obama & Co. just might represent the biggest threat our republic has ever faced.

Friday, May 24, 2013

Memorial Day

This weekend, back porches across America will be filled with the scent of grilled burgers and sight of beer-filled coolers as we gather to celebrate Memorial Day. In the process, we should remember that Memorial Day is much more than an excuse to get together and toss horseshoes while the kids swim in the pool. It is set aside for the solemn purpose of honoring our servicemen who died while defending America's citizens from armed enemies who sought to drive freedom from our shores.

From the first person who perished on Lexington’s village green in 1775, up to the most recent fatality in the Middle East, the list of the fallen is long. We should never forget that each person on that list made a sacrifice that was ultimate in its finality. We should resolve to do everything in our power to defend America's founding principles against all foes -- domestic in addition to foreign, orators in addition to terrorists -- to ensure that those men did not die in vain.

To observe past Memorial Days I have published letters that were written by soldiers during wartime. Here they are again.


This first one was from Sullivan Ballou, a major in the U.S. Army during the Civil War, to his wife. He was killed in the Battle of First Bull Run one week after writing it:

July 14, 1861

Camp ClarkWashington

My very dear Sarah:

The indications are very strong that we shall move in a few days – perhaps tomorrow. Lest I should not be able to write again, I feel impelled to write a few lines that may fall under your eye when I shall be no more.

I have no misgivings about, or lack of confidence in the cause in which I am engaged, and my courage does not halt or falter. I know how strongly American Civilization now leans on the triumph of the government and how great a debt we owe to those who went before us through the blood and sufferings of the Revolution. And I am willing – perfectly willing – to lay down all my joys in this life, to help maintain this government, and to pay that debt.

Sarah, my love for you is deathless, it seems to bind me with mighty cables that nothing but Omnipotence could break; and yet my love of Country comes over me like a strong wind and bears me unresistibly on with all these chains to the battlefield. The memories of the blissful moments I have spent with you come creeping over me, and I feel most gratified to God and to you that I have enjoyed them so long. And it is hard for me to give them up and burn to ashes the hopes of future years, when, God willing, we might still have lived and loved together, and seen our sons grow up to honorable manhood around us.

I have, I know, but few and small claims upon Divine Providence, but something whispers to me – perhaps it is the wafted prayer of my little Edgar, that I shall return to my loved ones unharmed. If I do not my dear Sarah, never forget how much I love you, and when my last breath escapes me on the battle field, it will whisper your name. Forgive my many faults, and the many pains I have caused you. How thoughtless and foolish I have often times been! How gladly I would wash out with my tears every little spot upon your happiness.

But, O Sarah, if the dead can come back to this earth and flit unseen around those they love, I shall always be near you, in the gladdest days and in the darkest nights…always, always, and if there be a soft breeze upon your cheek, it shall be my breath, as the cool air fans your throbbing temple, it shall be my spirit passing by.

Sarah do not mourn me dead; think I am gone and wait for thee, for we shall meet again.

Sullivan Ballou


This next letter was written by Arnold Rahe, a sergeant in the U.S. Army Air Corps during World War II, with instructions that it be delivered to his parents if he did not survive. He was killed in action shortly thereafter:

Dear Mom and Dad,

Strange thing about this letter; if I am alive a month from now you will not receive it, for its coming to you will mean that after my twenty-sixth birthday God has decided I’ve been on earth long enough and He wants me to come up and take the examination for permanent service with Him. It’s hard to write a letter like this; there are a million and one things I want to say; there are so many I ought to say if this is the last letter I ever write to you. I’m telling you that I love you two so very much; not one better than the other but absolutely equally. Some things a man can never thank his parents enough for; they come to be taken for granted through the years; care when you are a child, and countless favors as he grows up. I am recalling now all your prayers, your watchfulness -- all the sacrifices that were made for me when sacrifice was a real thing and not just a word to be used in speeches.

For any and all grief I caused you in this 26 years, I’m most heartily sorry. I know that I can never make up for those little hurts and real wounds, but maybe if God permits me to be with Him above, I can help out there. It’s a funny thing about this mission, but I don’t think I’ll come back alive. Call it an Irishman’s hunch or a pre-sentiment or whatever you will. I believe it is Our Lord and His Blessed Mother giving me a tip to be prepared. In the event that I am killed you can have the consolation of knowing that it was in the “line of duty” to my country. I am saddened because I shall not be with you in your life’s later years, but until we meet I want you to know that I die as I tried to live, the way you taught me. Life has turned out different from the way we planned it, and at 26 I die with many things to live for, but the loss of the few remaining years unlived together is as nothing compared to the eternity to which we go.

As I prepare for this last mission, I am a bit homesick. I have been at other times when I thought of you, when I lost a friend, when I wondered when and how this war would end. But, the whole world is homesick! I have never written like this before, even though I have been through the “valley of the shadows” many times, but this night, Mother and Dad, you are so very close to me and I long so to talk to you. I think of you and of home. America has asked much of our generation, but I am glad to give her all I have because she has given me so much.

Goodnight, dear Mother and Dad. God love you.

Your loving son,
(Bud) Arnold Rahe


God bless them all, and may they never be forgotten.

Saturday, May 18, 2013

The Day The Earth Roared

This morning is the 33rd anniversary of the eruption of Mount St. Helens, an event I remember vividly even though I was 9 years old and lived 2,500 miles away. Since I was already fascinated with mountains, the scenes which appeared on the news that day -- images of a beautiful peak blowing itself up and raining catastrophe on everything in sight -- made an indelible impression.

A series of steam eruptions had already occurred in the two months before the big one. They had opened a new crater and generated two fractures on St. Helens’s north flank. Between those fractures, the mountainside expanded outward in a visible bulge. In other words, it was obvious that St. Helens was waking up and that a bigger eruption was possible; but still, nobody expected anything like what eventually happened. After all, the frequency of steam eruptions had decreased from March to April.

Then, at 8:32 on the morning of May 18, 1980, St. Helens exploded with the force of five atomic bombs. Its summit was blown off, lowering its elevation from 9,677 to 8,363 feet. And its north flank was ripped out, leaving an immense gap and ruining the perfect symmetry for which the mountain had been famous.

The eruption’s ash cloud reached 80,000 feet high within 15 minutes, and as the ash fell back to earth, an area of 22,000 square miles was covered by measurable amounts. Borne by wind, St. Helens ash particles spread across the United States in three days and circled the globe in two weeks.

A landslide buried the North Fork of the Toutle River beneath debris that averaged 150 feet deep.

Lahars destroyed 185 miles of roads and 15 miles of railways, and reduced the depth of the Columbia River’s channel from 40 feet to 14 feet.

Trees snapped like matchsticks, as you can tell from this picture. And the area around St. Helens was instantly transformed from a forested wilderness to a barren moonscape, as evidenced by these before and after photos:

Sadly, that day's greatest tragedy is often overlooked: 57 people were killed.

Most people thought it would be many decades before life could return to St. Helens’s blast zone. However, greenery began to reappear on the slopes within a couple years, and that was after spiders and beetles ventured in. Eventually elk returned to feed on the new growth, and today the St. Helens recovery is an ongoing marvel.

Modern people often think that nature is fragile, but Mount St. Helens shows the opposite to be true. In reality, nature is powerful and resilient beyond our ability to comprehend.

To see some news footage from the time of the blast, go here.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Abortion: A follow-up

My previous post was about the way our nation's approach to abortion is plagued by contradictions, and also by a host of arguments that are disingenuous at best. Here are some more general thoughts about abortion:

Barack Obama has, without a speck of evidence, accused pediatric surgeons of performing unnecessary tonsillectomies for the sole purpose of lining their wallets. Isn't it interesting that he has never accused abortion providers of performing unnecessary abortions on women who are young, fearful, and not fully informed? Especially when there is plenty of evidence that this not only occurs, but occurs regularly?

If pro-choice liberals are so concerned about women's health, why aren't they marching in the streets and demanding that justice rain down on Frantz Bazile and Belkis Gonzalez. Doesn't their muteness over that case, and their conspicuously low volume over Kermit Gosnell's, bring into question their self-proclaimed status as protectors of women?

Polling has long shown that a majority of Americans -- even among those who identify themselves as pro-choice -- believe access to abortion should be subject to some restrictions rather than being carte blanche. But how many Americans are aware that the Democratic Party does not officially support any restrictions? And how many are aware that in the year Obama was elected president, the party altered its platform to remove the words "safe" and "rare" from its stated goals regarding abortion? You can read an after-the-fact editorial about that topic by going here.

Liberals are completely within bounds when they say it is contradictory for conservatives to support the death penalty while opposing abortion. And so are conservatives when they say it is contradictory for liberals to turn a blind eye toward the killing of babies while professing opposition to the death penalty.

Admission: We conservatives have a duty to acknowledge that liberals don't own a monopoly when it comes to inconsistency on abortion...Most of us, including yours truly, say that limits on abortion should include an exception for cases in which a pregnancy results from rape or incest. But doesn't that run counter to our claim that all life is equally precious?...I would not feel right speaking down to a rape victim as she made her way into an abortion clinic. However, part of me is troubled that I feel this way, because deep down I know Wesley Pruden was correct when he long ago posed the following question: If all life is innocent and precious at conception, how can the child of a rapist be less worthy of protection than the child of a bishop?

Prediction: The Gosnell case will eventually result in America's public debate about abortion being much more open and honest. I predict this in spite of the fact that the MSM's refusal to report on the case means many Americans are not familiar with it right now. Gosnell's deeds are known just well enough that they can not be kept hidden forever from the general public.

Declaration: Although we are right to be revolted by Gosnell and his actions, we should not rejoice in his being found guilty, nor should we make him the prime focus of our revulsion. Yes, his actions were monstrous and thus he must be considered a monster, but the reality is that our culture decided years ago to see no evil when it comes to abortion, and our various governments followed suit by opting to wear blinders up to the moment of delivery. In such an environment, killings like the ones carried out by Gosnell are inevitable. They are the logical conclusion of our abortion policies -- the bottom of the slippery slope, if you will -- and therefore our main criticism should be directed at the culture that produced those policies.

And lastly, we should not direct our ire at the kind of women I alluded to above, those who choose abortion when they are "young, fearful, and not fully informed." Like I said in my previous post, our culture has conditioned them to think of pregnancy as a problem rather than as an incubator of human life. Most of them are not bad people, and as time passes most of them will come to rue their decision. Civil society needs us to extend to them our love, not our condemnation, and it makes me proud to know that this is what the vast majority of us have always done.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Abortion: Heads in the sand

I have said before that America's laws are a train wreck of irreconcilable contradictions when it comes to abortion. But that is nothing more than a reflection of the inner conflict and willful blindness that poison America's conscience when it comes to abortion.

Back when Roe v. Wade was decided, the debate over abortion hinged primarily on whether an unborn child was a) alive, and/or b) human. Sure, there was some noise about "the propriety of government intervening between a woman and her doctor" (and its twin, "the propriety of men who can't get pregnant dictating to women who can") but it always came back to the notion that that is not really a baby inside of you, so you need not trouble your mind over whether you are killing one.

I remember that two-part question still being argued when I was in high school more than a decade later. In public, people on the pro-choice side clearly implied that their comfort with unfettered access to abortion was predicated on the idea that those things implanted in uterine walls were not known to be actual living babies. The logical conclusion was that if those things were ever proved to be actual living babies, the same people would then support restrictions on abortion even if they did not support an outright ban.

In the years since, science, sonography and common sense have made it impossible to deny that the answers to the two-part question are "yes, it is alive" and "yes, it is human." Some people insist on answering "no" to the "is it human?" part of the question, but even they qualify that answer by applying it only to those cases in which a pregnancy is in its very earliest days after conception.

Nevertheless, a loud segment of the public, backed by an intransigent block of politicians, continues to squeal that there is something totalitarian about placing any limits on abortion at any point before the moment of delivery. And whenever the public's mind is so vividly split on an issue, it should come as no surprise that the laws it produces are inconsistent to the point of being incoherent.

In every single abortion, the law allows babies' mothers to kill them but forbids their fathers from taking any legal action to protect them. Yet in most states, those very same fathers can be sent to prison for "failure to stop and render aid" after a car crash -- even if the injuries at issue were just cuts and scrapes, and even if they truly believed that was a fire hydrant and not a motor scooter that their rear bumper clipped when they made a right turn on the way to work.

Meanwhile, in partial birth abortion (usually performed very late in pregnancy) labor is induced and the baby is turned into the breech position, then delivered vaginally until only its head remains inside the mother. Then the doctor punctures the baby's skull and sucks its brain out with a vacuum, which not only kills it but produces the added "benefit" of collapsing its skull so that its head becomes easier to pull through the mother's cervix...Even if we can ignore the gruesomeness of this procedure, how can we ignore the legal dilemma which rises from the fact that the law says it is hunky dory to kill the baby while its head is on one side of the cervix, but murder to kill it two seconds later when its head has moved a few inches and ended up on the other side of the cervix?

And consider the case of NFL player Rae Carruth and his pregnant girlfriend, Cherica Adams. Because Adams refused to have an abortion, Carruth arranged for her to be murdered and then he participated in the murder. Adams was shot four times in the stomach in an effort to ensure that both her and the baby met their demise. For this, Carruth was charged with the crime of "using an instrument to destroy an unborn child." I applaud that kind of law, but can someone please explain the logic by which it gets enforced while abortion goes untouched?

Of course, the inconsistencies and irrationalities surrounding abortion are not confined just to our laws as written. They spill over into the arguments used to justify abortion's legality, especially when the same arguments are applied to other issues held dear by those on the pro-choice side of the aisle.

Consider the very phrase "pro-choice," since those who call themselves pro-choice are almost always liberals. While they love to wax poetic about "a woman's right to choose," the fact of the matter is that when the subject is something other than abortion, they are often opposed to a woman's right to choose. After all, they do not support a woman's right to choose where to send her children to public school, and do not support a woman's right to choose whether she can purchase a gun this afternoon after receiving a death threat this morning. Plus, they openly disdain the idea of women choosing to lead their lives according to the teachings of Christianity or Judaism.

Many people justify their opposition to any restrictions being placed on abortion by claiming that they are in favor of women being able to choose whatever it is that's best for them. However, these same people oppose informed consent laws that would genuinely allow women to make that choice. Opposing such laws keeps millions of women in the dark about the fact that people who have abortions often experience major psychological trauma later in life, when thoughts turn to wondering what their daughter would have looked like in her prom dress or whether their son would have preferred hockey to baseball, etc.

Once upon a time, media forces loudly protested that the smallest restrictions on abortion would result in women undergoing unsafe "back alley abortions." Today, those same forces are silent about the real-life lack of safety at licensed abortion clinics like Kermit Gosnell's -- even when that lack of safety proves fatal to women patients.

Liberals are constantly saying we should emulate the nations of Europe on all things legal, moral, cultural, etc. Apparently they are not aware that European nations place such strict limits on abortion that if the same limits were proposed here, they would denounce them as an assault on women's rights and a return to patriarchal tyranny. If American liberals were to be told what European abortion laws really are, would they proceed to reevaluate their own positions like they always tell conservatives to do, or would they just assume that the speaker is lying?

Those who call themselves pro-choice use euphemism as a tool not only to sway the undecided, but also to cope with the nagging voices of doubt that must occasionally chirp somewhere in their own brains. Witness their use of the phrase "terminate the pregnancy" instead of "have an abortion" -- a phrase that in older days was itself used as a euphemism to avoid saying "kill the baby." Witness also the use of the aforementioned phrase "a woman's right to choose," which is deployed without the word "abortion" ever crossing the speaker's lips.

The most damning euphemism, however, is the word "fetus." It is used only when talking about abortion and only to avoid saying "baby," since, in the minds of most people, "baby" means human while "fetus" suggests something less.

More than eight years of my professional life were spent working closely with physicians, and not once did I hear any of them say the word "fetus."

Erika has been pregnant four times and I accompanied her on many obstetrical visits during those pregnancies, and not once was the word "fetus" used either by doctor or by staff.

Even the earliest of sonograms are always described as being performed to "see the baby," not to "see the fetus." And when a doctor holds a microphone to a pregnant woman's belly and a thump-thump is heard through the speakers, it is always described as "the baby's heartbeat," not as "the sound of a circulatory muscle in the fetus's upper quadrant."

Kirsten Powers recently pointed out that women don't come up with lists of "names for their fetus," they come up with lists of "names for their baby." And on a similar note, my sister pointed out that women don't call those gift-giving parties "fetus showers," they call them "baby showers."

The abortion debate in this country has not been a real debate. Instead it has been one side's ongoing attempt to avoid debate by pulling a mask over the truth. But as it turns out, the truth of abortion is not as easy to hide as they wish it to be.

As a result, our laws have grown so contorted that no one can straighten them out without disposing of them entirely and starting anew. And in what amounts to human tragedy on a national scale, the mixed messaging has created a climate in which untold numbers of young people have chosen abortion because they were conditioned to think of pregnancies as problems rather than as incubators of precious human life -- only to, years later, look back on that youthful decision with the kind of horror and guilt that can afflict their minds until the day they die.

The generations coming behind us deserve a much more open, much more honest discussion about this topic than we have been having up to now.