More Has Sunk

People are suing the owners of the Costa Concordia.  Why should they have to sue?  If the owners and managers had any decency or integrity, they would be giving something to the victims or their surviving family members.

Rand Paul’s Run In With the TSA

Did you read or hear about Rand Paul’s encounter with the TSA?  Apparently something turned up during the body scan and they wanted to pat him down.  When he refused they detained him.

I am glad, in a way, that it happened to a United States senator.  He is in a position to do something about this encroachment on our rights and on our dignity.

I was recently traveling by air.  I saw that the airport had the reveal-all scanners.  I thought, “Oh, boy!  After all of the negative things that I have written about the scanners, it will be my fate to be sent into it.”  And it was.

It felt so weird being told to spread my legs and raise my arms, as though I was a criminal or a suspected criminal.  It felt weird to know that somebody was observing the size and shape of my genitals.

Like most people, I submitted.  They have uniforms and badges.  I wanted to be on the flight.

I had already taken off my shoes and my belt and pulled out my laptop, my mp3 player, my cell phone, and my little baggie with liquids in it.  I find it all so humiliating.  And I have nothing to be humiliated for!  I’m not a terrorist.

I felt even worse for the white haired lady in the wheelchair who was forced to remover her shoes and her sweater.  It took great effort on her part, and she had to be embarrassed to realize that people watching her struggle to untie her shoelaces and to undo the buttons on her sweater and to stand and take shuffling steps through the metal detector.

Here’s what bothers me.  If the TSA is stupid enough to think that a little old grandma, on her way back from visiting her relatives for Christmas, who can barely walk or unbotton her sweater, is going to blow up an airplane, how can we believe that they are able to keep us safe?  I mean it; I’m not being facetious.

The Gingrich Problem

According to exit polls in South Carolina, more than half of the people who voted in the Republican primary describe themselves as born-again or evangelical Christians.  Most of those voters said that it is very important to them that a candidate share their beliefs.  Most of them voted for Newt Gingrich.

These polling data are strange.  To begin with, the only Protestant still running for the Republican nomination is Ron Paul, who is a Southern Baptist.  Gingrich is a recent convert to Roman Catholicism.  Santorum is also a Catholic.  Romney is a Mormon.  So, if South Carolina voters who describe themselves as born-again or evangelical want a candidate who shares their beliefs, Ron Paul would have been the better choice.  A few of them, apparently, made that choice, but most did not.

Of course, the more glaring problem is Gingrich’s personal life.  I won’t rehash it, as it is well known by now.  I do not understand how evangelicals in the Republican Party can overlook Gingrich’s indiscretions.  The reason that I do not understand it is that evangelicals, as a general group, were out for blood when Clinton’s affair with an intern came to light.  They wanted him impeached and found guilty and ousted.

Here’s the thing.  Everyone who was willing to overlook Clinton’s bad behavior has no business maligning Gingrich.  Likewise, everyone who wanted Clinton’s head on a platter has no business excusing Gringrich’s behavior and supporting him in the nomination process.  It is called hypocrisy and a lack of integrity.

I am speaking in generalities, which has its drawbacks.  Obviously each individual is responsible for his own actions.  I myself was against Clinton for his disgraceful conduct; therefore, I am against Gingrich.  My moral sensibilities do not change just because a candidate has a different party’s initial after his name.  In fact, a case could be made that Clinton is an overall morally superior person to Gingrich, since he has stayed married to his first wife and apparently–one can hope–has learned to be faithful to her.

It is probably unfair for nonchristians to judge Christians as a group; it is always unfair to judge individuals for the behavior of a group.  However, unbelievers will judge Christians, and the judgment will not be favorable.  As a group, the so-called Christian right acts hypocritically, excusing the sins of Republicans and hammering on the sins of Democrats.  (Of course, the same thing happens in the converse, but let’s not go there.)

Here’s the bigger problem.  Nominee Gingrich will carry a lot of baggage.  Faithful family man, Barack Obama, will be his opponent.  Not only will Gingrich’s moral failings come into play, but so will the ethics charges that were brought against him in the House of Representatives.  He might be well qualified to be President, and I believe he is, but his dirty laundry will be a huge liability.

It makes no difference to me who the Republicans nominate.  However, if they are smart and–more so–if they want to live up to their stated principles, Republicans who are evangelical will not help to nominate Gingrich, and they will not vote for him if he does get the nomination.


Being Offended Is Offensive

There is a time to be offended.  I would be offended to hear women called ugly names in a rap lyric.  I would be offended to see somebody screaming at his or her child.  I would be offended to see an American citizen desecrate our flag.  I would be offended to hear somebody blaspheme against Jesus Christ.

However, some people are offended too easily.  Their skin is as thin as the air on the top of Mount Everest.

Some folks in Utah wanted a new high school to have the cougar as its mascot.  It’s a great mascot, found all over the country.  However, some other folks were concerned that the mascot would offend certain women.  It seems that “cougar” is a term for a middle-aged woman who goes after younger men, Demi Moore being one famous example.  Did you know that?

So when the quarterback of the football team throws a pass, people are going to think of him as a sexually insatiable woman preying on her son’s buddy?  Aside from the fact that the slang term has very little to do with the connotations that most people would think of in regard to a team called the Cougars, there is something else ridiculous about the controversy.  Wouldn’t a woman have to admit that she actually is a cougar in order to express her resentment toward the mascot?  And is she likely to do so?

The school district has come up with an alternative–Chargers.  Okay. . .so, won’t middle-aged woman who use their credit card too often be offended?  Ridiculous, right?  But not beyond the realm of possibility in a country where several people have gotten in trouble for using the word niggardly!

I just wish that people would stop using “offense” as the final test for public discourse.  Let’s first use common sense and say how likely it is that people really would be offended and how appropriate it is if they are offended by something.  What do you think?



Christians and Ron Paul

Voddie Baucham of Grace Family Baptist Church in Spring, Texas, supports Ron Paul as a presidential candidate.  Alex Tokarev of Morthland College in Illinois does too.

At least I am not the only Christian in America who sees Ron Paul as the best Republican candidate.

How to Get Away With Censorship

Racist, bigot, facsist–these are terms used by the enemies of freedom to silence those with whom they disagree and those who “offend” them.  The current epithet-du-jour is bully.  Now, all of those words are good English words with accepted definitions, and I have no problem using them when their use is appropriate.  A person who says that black people are inherently less intelligent than white people is, by definition, a racist.  However, a person who says that black people should be expected to get as high a score on job placement exams as white people is not.  Likewise, a person who beats up homosexual people is a bully, but a person who simply says that his religion teaches that homosexual behavior is a sin is not.

A high school student in Wisconsin has been accused of bullying for writing an unpopular editorial in the school newspaper–an editorial that opposed the adoption of children by same-sex couples.  The real bullying, based on several dictionary definitions that I read has been done against the student editorialist.  The school officials and one of the parents are bullying him by using their power to disgrace, discredit, and silence him.  After all, he is just a lowly student expressing his viewpoint–at the paper’s invitation.

Now, if he had targeted another student and urged people to beat up that student, that might be an example of bullying–or at least incitement to bullying.  If he had written nasty insults about a particular student or students, that certainly would be bullying.  However, giving general remarks about a controversial issue?  That simply isn’t bullying.

I have some questions, sincerely posed:

Why is this student’s editorial bullying but the opposing viewpoint is not?

What happened to the student’s First Amendment rights?

How can a educational institution take sides on a matter that the public is still debating?

Why do the school officials take upon themselves the power to endorse one student’s viewpoint and to denounce the other student’s viewpoint?

Doesn’t this approach give any offical the right to pass judgment on any speech by any student?  What if a rightwing principal censored students who stood up for the rights of Muslim students or censored students who wrote an informative article about abortion?

Thoughts on the Iowa Caucuses

Wow!  I was surprised at how well Rick Santorum did in Iowa. 

I had predicted that the results would have Romney, Paul, and Gingrich in that order.  Somehow Santorum was not even on my radar screen for the top three spots. 

I find it interesting that Santorum spent very little money but spent a lot of time touring the state and talking to people live.  It goes against conventional wisdom that one must buy slick advertisements, as did Rick Perry.  He reportedly spent $4 million in Iowa.

I also find it interesting that a Mormon and a Roman Catholic tied for first.  It doesn’t matter to me, but it is interesting that it doesn’t matter to people in Iowa either. 

I am glad that I was right about Paul’s placement above Gingrich.  I knew that he would do well in Iowa based on polling data and on the “word on the street” that I had access to.  He is only a bit behind the top two, and I believe that he will gain more support now, especially if and when others drop out.  I was amused that the CNN report that I read this morning did not even mention him.

It’s a funny thing about Ron Paul.  The people who are against him make two opposing claims–that he is unelectable because he does not rally appeal to people and that he has rabid support from people that give him high polling numbers.  I have even heard staunch conservatives, especially evangelical conservatives, claim that he is now the favorite of the left–because he wants to avoid war and legalize drugs. 

In fact, I would think that Paul would make the perfect third-party choice.  As a libertarian, he does endorse many favorite views of the left as well as many favorite views of the right.

Oh, and the stuff about his being a racist and a homophobe is nonsense.  It is typical political smearing.  It is no different from saying that Obama is a secret Muslim.

I am guessing that at least some of Bachman’s, Huntsman’s, and Perry’s supporters will switch to Ron Paul.  I particularly think that support in Texas will shift from Perry to Paul. 

Of course, I’m still pretty sure that Romney will get the nomination but not defeat Obama.