Monday, December 28, 2009

I just saved a bunch of money on my car insurance.

The bad news: Terror cells in Yemen. Al Qaeda bomb plots. Massive demonstrations and violent repression in Iran. North Korea’s nuclear program may be farther advanced than previously suspected.

It’s multiple three a.m. phone calls, and the President is busy golfing in Hawaii.

But there is some good news. The Senate just passed a historic health care bill. And since Obama promised to be the last President to deal with health care reform, the problem must have been solved. Maybe Obama and Congress can move on to other issues?

Victory has a thousand fathers, defeat is an orphan

There will be lots of blame to go around when al Qaeda succeeds where Abdulmutallab failed and brings down an airliner, or commits an even more heinous atrocity. (Wager: Obama and Napolitano will blame Bush.) Here are my two chief culprits:

(1) The Flying imams and their attorneys. Removal of six Muslim imams from US Airways Flight 300 at the Minneapolis airport on November 20, 2006, resulted in a lawsuit against the airline and the airport, and a 2009 out of court settlement. This effectively stopped any initiative by American airline employees to exercise judgment and common sense, and deny a boarding pass to someone, who, say, had an Islamic sounding name and paid cash for a one way ticket from Amsterdam to Detroit, with no checked baggage. Twenty quatloos says the airlines have all established corporate policy: Do not risk a lawsuit because of a passenger’s ethnicity, country of origin, or assumed religious faith. If TSA does not flag him, let him board.

(2) DHS. Yes, Napolitano is an easy target. Political correctness does not begin to describe the sheer obtuseness of the redefinition of terrorism as “Man caused disasters.“ It’s not just a euphemism, it’s a state of mind. In November 2009 I heard a senior DHS staffer describe the Department’s mission as preventing and responding to natural disasters, like earthquakes and hurricanes; and man caused disasters, “like a dam break.” With that perspective, the 2800 deaths in lower Manhattan on September 11, 2001 were the result of poor engineering design. It’s no wonder Secretary Napolitano’s initial reaction to the attempted Christmas bombing was “the system works.”

President Obama has gone out of his way to avoid any associations with President G. W. Bush's war on terrorism. Obama doesn’t want to talk about terrorism, any more than he wants to make decisions about Afghanistan. As Dan Riehl notes about Obama’s statement today (emphasis added):

This has to be the most perfunctory speech the orator in chief has ever given. He's literally reading a press release and it shows. It's as if the issue doesn't even interest him at all.

The people who write rules for TSA have far more knowledge about terrorist threats, motives, and methodologies than will ever become publicly available. Given that, I still can’t comprehend the ban on in flight GPS systems, nor the prohibition on holding anything in a passenger’s lap for the last hour of the flight. If you’re on a nine hour trans-Atlantic flight, eight hours have passed, you see land out the window that is definitely not Greenland, and the plane is starting to descend, doesn’t that give you a clue as to where you are? For that matter, why not simply wait to ignite the explosive device in your underwear until the flight attendant asks you to hand over your blanket and pillow?

Al Qaeda's hallmark, from 9-11 to London to Madrid, has been multiple simultaneous attacks. One bomber who gets through security is like one cockroach in your kitchen: there are plenty more that you haven't noticed.

I see a bad moon rising.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Monday, December 7, 2009

Max Baucus and the battle to save marriage

Let me say upfront, I'm against gay marriage or civil unions. I believe society has good reason to uphold the ideal of marriage as a union between a man and a woman, in sickness and in health, forsaking all others, till death do you part. Even if that ideal is not reachable, it is a goal to which we should strive and one we should encourage our children to reach for.

But that said, when a United States Senator is cohabiting with his former State Director; when the Max Baucus/ Melodee Hanes relationship began when both were still married; and when eyebrows are raised only at the ethics of Baucus' job recommendation for his sweetie; well, at that point, the battle to save marriage is over. Forget locking the barn door. The horses are already galloping a mile down the road.

More anecdotal evidence:
One of my good friends is a Presbyterian minister. When he began his career, thirty- some years ago, most couples he married were in their early twenties. By the late 90's, most were in their late twenties or early thirties.

The (PCUSA) church I attend routinely admits as new members young engaged couples who are, as we said coyly in the innocent 80's, POSSLQ's (person of the opposite sex sharing living quarters.)

In the last ten years, most major American corporations have extended medical coverage to their employees' unmarried partners, whether gay or straight. The policy has little to do with an enlightened appreciation of human rights and the benefits of cultural diversity. It's simply a way to enhance employe recruitment and retention.

"Emptiness and the City": A link from NRO on unintended consequences of the sexual revolution.

I doubt that our culture is less innocent or more licentious now than we were back in the 1980's or the 1960's or the 1940's. We may be more honest, or we may simply have greater opportunities than we did in the past; yet I have trouble seeing either as a good thing. And while the 21st century communications network may make fooling around easier, it has its own perils, too. ("Can you please take your name off your phone? My wife went through my phone and may be calling you.")

From Genesis: "A man leaves his father and mother, and cleaves to his wife, and the two become one flesh." The Hebrew word translated as "cleave" or "unite" means to cling -- to be glued. It's a commitment to permanence.

We are approaching the point at which the only reason for marriage is the tax deduction. And at that point we have lost something sacred.