Saturday, April 15, 2006

Immigration Reform Poll

To participate in a poll on Immigration Reform, please go to this link. You may be redirected to a registration or sign-in page. I tried to make the poll public, but you may still have to register. Noonhost apparantly doesn't like ballot stuffing.

Krieble Hits The Immigration Nail On The Head

I think this is the best immigration reform plan I have seen to date. It doesn't involve Congress, is private sector, and makes a lot of sense. Follow this link for more information.

South Park "Cartoon Wars:" Missing The Point?

It was only a cartoon, but some people missed the point. We all know about the Danish press’ act of “blasphemy” when it published cartoon pictures of Mohammed, which subsequently provoked radical Imams to urge Muslims to riot and kill in protest. Much of the world-wide media gave in to the Islamists by refusing to publish the controversial cartoons.
Thus is the stage set for the latest South Park controversy. In a two part story, based on the premise that the Fox Television animated series Family Guy would televise a show featuring Mohammed as a cartoon character, the citizens of South Park, and the media, are terrified that the show would bring retaliation from Al Qaeda. At the last minute, Fox decides to censor the image of Mohammed, and the citizens are “saved” from an imaginary terrorist retribution.

After a very funny “Muslim sensitivity training” class, in which we learn that the Muslims are angry because they can’t “have sex until they are married, can’t (masturbate), and they have sand stuck somewhere in their body, probably up their crack (because they ‘live in sand’),” the citizens learn that Fox plans to air yet another Family Guy episode featuring Mohammed. They hurriedly throw together a town meeting in which an “expert” suggests that they all bury their heads in the sand. Another character objects, saying, “We have to stand together and show the terrorists that they can not take away our constitutional rights,” or something to that effect. The townspeople debate the matter likw this: “I like the bury our heads idea.”
“Yeah, me too. It sounds easier.”

There is another satirical scene worthy of note: President Bush is holding a press conference, explaining that he can’t stop Family Guy from airing because of First Amendment protection. The White House Press Corps, in true-to-life fashion, assails him with such questions as,
“What, exactly, is this First Amendment?”
“Didn’t you realize, when you started the First Amendment, that there would be this kind of problem?”
“If you didn’t start the First Amendment, who did?”
“How long has this First Amendment thing been going on?”

When the time comes for the scene featuring Mohammed, a notice appears on the television screen, reading,
“In this scene, Mohammed hands the Family Guy a football helmet with a plastic fish on top of it. Comedy Central has declined to show this scene in deference to the sensitivities of the Muslims.”

In the cartoon, Al Qaeda responds with a cartoon of their own, offensive to Christians and Americans. On the show, the retaliatory cartoon is shown on television.

As you can see, South Park creators and writers Trey Parker and Matt Stone were cleverly lampooning the liberal media, which refuses to show anything offensive to Muslims, while showing productions from Al Jazeer and other Arab media which Christians and Americans find offensive. In the process of that parody, they also made fun of those who would bury their head in the sand rather than stand up for their rights. Those who do not watch South Park, but merely heard about the episode, and those who do not understand satire and parody, would be offended by the program, thus making themselves the butt of the typical Parker/Stone joke. That is the point.
After all, the disclaimer which appears at the beginning of every South Park episode contains the words, “This program includes scenes which may be offensive to everyone, and should not be viewed by anyone.”
The truth is, the show was not at all meant to offend Christians, but to celebrate the fact that we do not react to cartoon representations, or graven images, if you will, the way the Muslims did. And, just as in every South Park program, it celebrates the freedom of speech we enjoy in America.

Personally, I am a regular viewer of the show, and find the humor uniquely clever. In fact, I consider myself a “South Park Conservative.” I sincerely hope that the fanatical backlash to this show does not hamper or prevent Parker and Stone from continuing their excellent comedy.

Friday, April 14, 2006

Shame on Me!

Looking back at some of my more recent posts here, I am somewhat alarmed by the direction I seem to be taking. I feel I must make another disclaimer here. No, make that several disclaimers.
First of all, I do not support, and I do not agree with the current mission of the ACLU. It started out as a noble cause. championing the rights of all citizens in protecting the entire Bill of Rights. However, over the past ten years. Or so, that organization seems to have been taken over by money- and/or power-hungry attorneys who have no moral or ethical values. Like the prohibitionists in the early part of the 20th century, they go about the country with figurative axes, hacking away at any public expression of Faith, in particular, the Christian Faith. The ACLU considers prayer in school “indoctrination.” However, if a schoolteacher is presenting his or her personal political views in class, without presenting any opposing view, that indoctrination is called “freedom of speech.” Freedom of religion has become, to the ACLU, freedom from religion. The ACLU wants to do away with the First Amendment
Secondly, I am not against any person’s right to practice his or her religion. I respect those who wish to express their personal beliefs in public, even if it is beyond what we consider “mainstream.” To me, religion based Faith is a personal matter, and do not intend to criticize others for their beliefs. My target is those who use religion for aggressively political purposes. The extremists who try to shame people into supporting them for their own importance do not represent their beliefs.
Finally, I am not what you would call “politically correct.” I apologize, in advance for using language that may offend others, but I write what I feel at the moment, and such language is meant to be descriptive of a particular person or organization, not a stereotype of an entire segment of society.
Thank-you for your kindness and patience.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Are We Losing Another Statesman, Or Are We Gaining Another Politician?

It seems that we have lost a Statesman. There are so few of them in Congress, that the loss of one is a heavy loss. But, when public opinion polls become so important in politics, and the Statesman is beckoned by the call of a presidential campaign, it is easy to fall prey to political wavering. Thus may a great Statesman, such as John McCain, be comfortable with abandoning his integrity and principles.

I have always admired Senator McCain. He is indeed a national hero, having survived imprisonment and torture at the hands of his Viet Namese captors. He has not always followed the Party line, often offering viable alternatives to proposals which were impractical or heavy handed. He has always been receptive to both sides of any issue, and has often been the voice of reason in the Senate. This is what a
Statesman should be.

I remember, during the Senate impeachment hearings for President Clinton--something I considered an appalling waste of taxpayers’ time and money--Senator McCain, alone spoke of more important issues that the Senate should be worrying about, such as Veterans benefits and retirement pay. He was speaking as a Statesman, not as a politician.

Unfortunately, various polls have placed the Senator as the front-runner for the Republican presidential nomination. Some polls have even suggested that he would beat Hillary in a presidential election. This must have caught Senator McCain’s attention, as he has suddenly begun acting like a politician.

In 2000, during his presidential campaign, McCain spoke out against religious extremism, comparing statements by Jerry Falwell to those of Osama bin Ladin. To me, that comparison was accurate. If a person wants to quote Scripture to strengthen or invoke Faith, in any religion, that is fine. But if a person were to use Scripture out of context to promote hate and strife, or intolerance and violence, in any religion, be it Christian, Islam, Judaism, Taoism, Shinto, Buddhism, or Hinduism, it becomes hate speech and extremism. Recently, perhaps seeing a need to become attractive to the “religious right,” McCain has held out the olive branch to Jerry Falwell and has accepted a speaking date at Falwell’s Liberty University.

I can understand the Senator wanting to expand his base. Many political pundits have attributed his loss of the nomination in 2000 to the fact that he didn’t have the support of the religious right. But why Falwell, whom McCain himself had labeled as an extremist? Falwell is part of the “God hates America” mob, and has lost his “WWJD” bracelet somewhere along the line. Unless he is applying it to himself, the Christian message of Redemption does not seem to be a part of Falwell’s message.

Perhaps McCain has seen more of a need to identify with both extremes than to identify with the more moderate Demopublicans. He has often co-authored bills with liberal subjectivists, such as Senator Feinstein, with whom he authored a much needed campaign finance reform bill, and Senator Edward Kennedy, from which came the irrelevant immigration reform bill (I plan to discuss that subject in another post). At the same time, he has defended the President’s administration and foreign policy. His alliance with Falwell may stem from a perceived need to avoid the “liberal” label.

It is normal for a politician to palliate his or her views for those who may disagree with the politician’s stance, especially when a presidential candidacy is being considered. That does not necessarily mean that the candidate should renounce his or her convictions and principles. President Bush, who appeased the religious right by supporting a constitutional amendment defining marriage as being between a man and a woman, while refusing to engage in anti-gay rhetoric. He stood by the principle that it was not his prerogative to criticize others for their beliefs or sexual orientation. “I am not against civil unions or company benefits for same-sex couples,” he asserted shortly before the 2004 elections, “but I believe that matrimony should be between a man and a woman.”

Another man of principle, Gary Johnson is a good example of a candidate who seemingly chose to forego principle for politics. Failing as a Libertarian candidate for Congress in 1992, he switched his affiliation to the Republican party to run, successfully, for Governor of New Mexico in 1994. Once in office, he proceeded to act according to his Libertarian principles. He successfully stood against the Federal government on the issue of state and property rights, defending the right of the Sandia Tribe to open a casino. He repealed New Mexico’s “blue laws,” allowing package liquor sales on Sundays, which significantly reduced instances of drunken driving, a problem for which New Mexico had been notorious. He severely reduced government spending, reduced taxes, and subsequently increased business and industry in New Mexico. Even though those who opposed him called him “tight fisted,” and “the worst governor anytime, anywhere,” Johnson successfully and significantly improved the quality of life in New Mexico, by standing by his principles.

If McCain sticks to his principles, he is an excellent choice to be the next leader of our country. In these times, we need to show the world that we are capable of speaking in one voice. Sen. McCain as long been a proponent of fairness and openness, and is very capable of unifying those who agree to disagree. I do not believe it is necessary for him to paint himself as something he is not in order to get the nomination. His conviction to principle, and his accomplishments should be enough. I only hope that he remains a Statesman, and does not fall into the abyss of politics.