Monthly Archives: November 2010

So God gets the Blame for Dropped Passes….the Prosperity Gospel strikes again

Padre Steve’s Disclaimer: This post deals in a humorous manner with the Tweet of Buffalo Bills Wide Receiver Steve Johnson.  His tweet is a foil for a bigger point about the “prosperity Gospel” and the distorted view of God of those that teach it and their unfortunate victims.  I am sure that he is a sincere young man who was very emotional after dropping a pass. I wish him well and he will let up on himself and God. Peace, Padre Steve+

Well, well isn’t this special. Buffalo Bills receiver Steve Johnson dropped an easy pass that would have won the game for the Bills and stunned the Pittsburgh Steelers. After the game at the Bills press conference the young man was up in front of the reporters taking responsibility like a man all but offering to commit Hari-Kari to atone for his sin against his team which cost them the game.  I saw the interview on ESPN and heard it on the radio and I thought that while I liked the fact that he owned up to blowing the play that it sounded a bit overdone and even a bit histrionic if you asked me.  Lucky for Johnson and quickly recovered his composure and realized that God had thrown him under the bus. I mean he had obviously done all the right things to make God happy except to play for the Cowboys who in addition to claiming to be America’s team have also conjured up the image of being the Deity’s team but I digress.  You have to look at what the young man said in the context of his Twitter account:

The “I PRAISE YOU 24/7!!!!!! AND THIS IS HOW YOU DO ME!!!!!” is a little strong if you ask me. How anyone finds time to praise God 24/7 is beyond me and I would assume that he means “a lot” and not a literal 24/7 Praise-a-Thon.  I’m sure that since he used so many exclamation points that he lost the chance to remind God about his tithes, vows and other offerings in the tweet, alas the limitations of Twitter.

You see it is obvious to me that God had to let him down. He’s playing for a bad team getting whacked around by opposing defenses and all the while praising God and giving until it hurts. Let’s face it anyone knows if you take the time to watch or listen to much of what passes of “Christian teaching” on almost any “Christian” television network you know that the young man speaks the truth. He praised, prayed and gave and what did he get for his trouble? I’ll tell you what he got, he got the shaft and he should sue.  He should go for God’s big pockets.

Look at this, I mean if you listened to some of the guys that really are tight with God you would do the same thing as Johnson, and if you do listen to God’s anointed you would probably do the same thing in Johnson’s situation.  I mean these guys are called anointed, apostles, prophets and even “God’s Generals” so they can be trusted right?

Prosperity Doctrine Poster Child: Robert Tilton

I mean I have seen some of them actually getting messages from God on camera with the whole constipated look while they are struggling to hear exactly what God is saying because the Old Testament talks about the severe penalties for getting God wrong.  With that kind of accuracy and authority it is no wonder that people fall all over themselves to give to these ministers and their ministries.  Seriously the basic message of the “health, wealth and success” prosperity preacher in its crudest form is that if you give you get.  If you do things like praise God, something that certainly a good thing for us to do and give of your time talent and treasure, especially the treasure part that God is obligated to give back to you. The Prosperity preachers love to quote Scripture but only in regard to people giving to them and their ministries, they just love Luke 6:38 “Give, and you will receive. Your gift will return to you in full–pressed down, shaken together to make room for more, running over, and poured into your lap. The amount you give will determine the amount you get back.” Can I get an Amen? No of course if you look at all the troublesome verses around this gem the context is not how it is presented by the prosperity crowd.  The passage is Jesus giving a lecture about the Christian life to include humility, forgiveness, judgment and even hypocrisy and the giving is just one part of it and certainly if you look a the broader context of Scripture regarding material prosperity generally talks about it as an encumbrance that often leads to sin, excess and even presumption on God denying the very way of the Cross.

So you get my drift, what Steve Johnson did is no different than the person that gets upset at God when they didn’t get a promotion, or get something that they really wanted and even prayed for, and all of us including yours truly have had meltdowns where we have words with God.  However the problems arise when we presume that because we do something good that God is obligated to return the favor like God is some sort of cosmic ATM. With the proliferation of the prosperity teaching on television, in mega-churches and on the internet we have seen a cultural shift in how the Christian faith is presented in often very narcissistic ways.

So my best to Steve Johnson and I do hope and pray that a more mature Christian in his circle of trust will pull him aside and help him. These things happen and once you “tweet” or hit the send button on your e-mail or text you can’t take it back.  Live and learn, it’s hard to be a rookie on Twitter, maybe the NFL should keep rookies off of Twitter until they can learn not to look stupid using it.

Have fun and God bless,

Peace

Padre Steve+

 

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Filed under christian life, faith, football, Just for fun, purely humorous, Religion

Whack them Now: Padre Steve takes Aim at Wiki Leaks

The Enemy: Julian Assange of Wiki Leaks

Disclaimer added December 4th: Reader beware. Due to comments from people that are too dense to figure out that some parts of this essay are over the top hyperbole in the style of Denny Crane I have to ask readers to look beyond the “whacking” and not take all of this seriously. Despite the “whacking” comments I don’t want this accused rapist and scumbag killed, I want him to have to suffer the ignominy of our court system instead, get sent to prison and try to run Wiki Leaks off a prison library desktop that he has to share with a convicted rapist named Bruno. So don’t take all of this seriously and if this is your first visit to this sight take a look around I’m actually quite the civil libertarian and many consider me a pinko commie liberal and even worse because of some of those views.  Just remember 4 words: Denny Crane, Padre Steve

Note on Comments: Due to the increasingly abusive invective by Mr. Assange’s supporters in their comments on the comments page I have turned off comments for this article. This is the first time in the nearly 2 years in the history of Padre Steve’s World that I have had to do this. Over the weekend I received a number of comments that I chose not to print due to their shrill and hateful tone as well as lack of any clarity of thought.  I have wearied of Mr. Assange’s and his cyber-criminal thugs.  I have not had to deal with such abuse since being threatened with bodily harm by Appalachian Neo-Nazis.

If ever there was a time that my civil libertarian self duels with my Machiavellian self on days like today. Today I have to believe that my Machiavellian side is winning.  I am fed up with these Wiki Leaks people and dare I say the traitors who along with them that have leaked sensitive documents and posted them on the internet for all to see.  In fact I’ll say exactly what I think of this bunch.  They are evil and malignant.  There is nothing good that can come of what they are doing except to make the world an even more dangerous place and endanger American lives and those of our Allies and friends.

I was reading some the excerpts in the New York Times this afternoon and I was thinking what the hell? There hasn’t been a nation in history that hasn’t practiced what we are being treated as criminals for doing including those that will cry foul and shed crocodile tears about what has been published or will be in the coming days.

I know that some will disagree with me on this and even accuse me of hypocrisy after all of my recent posts about the threats that I see to liberty and freedom due to the Patriot Act and actions of certain government agencies in the wake of 9-11 and they can go right ahead because I don’t care because I’m not one of those Reverend Lovejoy namby pamby jackwagon preachers that recoil in horror when dealing with the real world.

You might ask why I say this, because I have a brain in my head and while I am a passionate moderate I am passionately in love with this country and threats to it from without and within. However there is a qualitative diplomatic and ethical difference between the threats that we face at home to civil liberties and free speech as opposed to an extra-governmental rogue organization such as Wiki leaks which publishes and uses illegally obtained documents to undermine the United States while we are at war.

Part of the problem especially in regard to the diplomatic cables is that Wiki Leaks is using them against the United States without any regard to consequences.  You see every nation that engages in “diplomacy” is engaged in the same behaviors as have been revealed by Wiki leaks but since the Wiki Leaks bunch has repeatedly singled out the United States as opposed to other nations it can only be surmised that they are a non-governmental and non nation state enemy much like Al Qaeda.  In fact Wiki Leaks founder Julian Assange is no better than Osama Bin Laden and though he doesn’t brandish an AK-47 and orchestrate physical terrorist attacks is more dangerous to peace and stability than any turban topped terrorist operating out of a cave in Waziristan.

It is my opinion that they and their employees should be considered enemy combatants and subjected to not only prosecution but good old fashioned CIA, MI-6, STASI or KBG style elimination.  After all name just one other country that Wiki Leaks founder Julian Assange has taken the trouble to go after…I’m waiting…but why wait because there aren’t any, Assange loathes the United States and has been tirelessly working to take us down for years.

Assange and his minions hide in the shadows of cyberspace assisted by willing dupes and traitors…yes that is what they are including the Army Specialist that is the source of many of these documents.  Be assured that there is a reason that they don’t mess with the Russians, very simply Putin would have them hunted don and killed one by one.  This may sound un-Christian, un-Democratic or even un-American but if a few Wiki leaks staff were to get whacked their operation would cease because they are cowards, in fact I’d start at the top with Assange because if we whacked his minions he would just find others to die for his cause.  In fact if the U.S. and its Allies don’t arrest and prosecute or failing that whack Assange we will continue to see him and others do this to us and reap terrible consequences of their actions.

I’m sorry but in spite of our flaws, mistakes and sometimes imperialist overreach the United States is the Good Guys.  When people need help who do they call? The Chicoms? Russia? The EU? Give me a break, when people need help they call for Uncle Sam. Despite all that the United States stands accused of by those that loath us, we still willingly put our blood and treasure on the line for others that often spit in our face while taking our money and accepting our servicemen’s blood as an offering to keep them safe.  Sorry anti-American haters, we are still the good guys and slimy people like Julian Assange make me sick, I mean the Swedes have a warrant out for his arrest, I think the charge is rape. What an arrogant low life he even ripped off the “Wiki” label and has nothing to do with Wikipedia or sites associated with it.  This may seem out of character for little old peace loving I want to get along with everything me full of forgiveness and grace, but this guy is evil and ugly to boot, he probably couldn’t get a date with a good looking American girl and is still pissed at us.

As far is hypocrisy goes there isn’t a single nation including the Vatican State whose diplomats do not make the same assessments of their friends and foes leaders and policies that have been revealed in the Wiki leaks documents.  I’m sorry but the Machiavellian world of diplomacy and intelligence is not a Christian and it is not a Sunday school class or Rotary Club meeting. No it is nations working with and against each other based on what they believe to be in their nations’ best interest even if at times it is distasteful. That is the real world and Julian Assange and his organization is an active combatant against U.S. national interests and security and should be treated as such.

The actions of Assange and his minions will damage U.S. diplomacy and our national interests for years. Allies and friends that might have helped us before because they felt secure in doing so will not because they will not feel safe in doing so. This will give terrorists and others free reign to attack because our allies will be hesitant to share what they know for fear that their security and interests will be compromised when what they share in confidence is revealed to their enemies.

Wow that was a mouthful.  While I pray that the diplomatic and human damage from this will be minimized I also hope that someone starts playing hardball with these enemies.  We are at war and Julian Assange and Wiki Leaks is now a declared enemy.  It is time to treat him and his team as the enemy and whack them wherever they are.

Peace or whatever,

Padre Steve+

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Filed under Foreign Policy, national security, Political Commentary

High Stakes Game of Chicken on the Korean Peninsula

The USS George Washington and her Battle Group arrived in the Yellow Sea

The game is on.  The U.S. Navy and South Korean Navy task forces are moving into position, the South Korean Military is on its highest peacetime alert and the North Korean military is moving fresh batteries of Surface to Air and Ground to Sea missiles into place.  While diplomats from the United States, China and Japan seek to avert a war the North Koreans continue to stoke the fire with fresh artillery fire near Yeonpyeong Island which it brutally attacked earlier in the week.  In the South popular protests are rising against any soft treatment of the North and the commanding General of the South Korean Marine Corps Maj. Gen. You Nak-jun attended the funeral for the two Korean Marines killed in the attack said “Our marine corps … will carry out a hundred- or thousand-fold,” retaliation against North Korea for launching Tuesday’s attack, You said, without elaborating as to what he meant by the comment. The Defense Minister Kim Tae-young resigned after the attack on Yeonpyeong Island, and veterans of the South Korean military protested Saturday in Seoul, stating they were angry that the South Korean government had not done enough to respond to the North’s shelling.

Silkworm Missile being fueled

North Korean rhetoric continues to rise in its belligerence and a North Korean State Committee for the Peaceful Reunification of Korea, the state agency in charge of relations with the South said in a statement carried by the North Korean Central News Agency (KCNA):  “Gone are the days when verbal warnings are served only, escalated confrontation would lead to a war,” and that the North Korean military was “getting fully ready to give a shower of dreadful fire and blow up the bulwark of the enemies if they dare to encroach again upon the North’s territory.”  The KCNA also said “If the U.S. brings its carrier to the West Sea of Korea at last, no one can predict the ensuing consequences.”

South Korean Aegis DDG

The defense drills begun today by United States and South Korean forces in the Yellow Sea involve the carrier USS George Washington as well as the Aegis Cruisers USS Cowpens and USS Shiloh and the Guided Missile Destroyer USS Stethem. South Korea has deployed one of its Aegis destroyers and two destroyers as well as frigates and anti-submarine aircraft.

North Korean forces have brought in SA-2 SAM batteries which an anonymous South Korea government source says “appear to be targeting our fighter jets that fly near the Northern Limit Line.” The source also reported that the South Korean “military is preparing for the possibility of further provocations as the North Korean military has deployed firepower near the NLL and is preparing to fire.”

Additionally the North is mounting C-201 Silkworm Ground to Sea anti-ship missiles on launchers along the coast in the disputed area which also hosts bases for submarines like the one that is believed to have sunk the South Korean Corvette Cheonan in March as well as fast attack craft mounting Styx anti-ship missiles.  If they were to attack the task force the North would likely attempt a saturation attack using ground and sea based SSMs against the Allied ships, however the task force includes at least 4 Aegis equipped guided missile cruisers and destroyers is well equipped to meet that threat.

The situation is tense and no one really knows exactly how it will develop is yet unseen but it will not take much to provoke a conflict that could engulf the region.

Peace,

Padre Steve+

 

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Filed under Korean Conflicts, Military, national security, Navy Ships, US Navy

Saturday Morning Cartoons: Padre Steve Remembers the Best

I decided to lighten up a bit today since I have been rather serious as of late with all my posts about the loss of liberty and the situation on the Korean peninsula. Since these are all likely to get worse and maybe even a lot worse I decided that I needed a break and with more bad news just waiting for its chance at getting into the 24 hour bad news cycle to drive up the anxiety level and make people unhappy I had to find a diversion. I think that for a few minutes that we should be entitled to a break from wars and rumors of wars, economic, financial, ecological, and biological catastrophe looming not to mention whatever Lady Gaga, Charlie Sheen, Sarah Palin, Nancy Pelosi and Paris Hilton are up to. My goodness we all deserve a break before Armageddon don’t we?

I find that I miss the old Saturday morning cartoons, not all the new Japanimation and the crap that is produced just to get people to buy their kids toys. I’m sorry but most of what is produced today caters to the baser instincts of humanity and is better left for Midnight Swim and left off our Saturday mornings.  Maybe this makes me a curmudgeonly Elmer Fuddyduddy but I don’t care anymore because if I want to watch debased sex and horror I can turn to any cable movie channel late at night and have my fill of it. In fact I remember the morality police condemning the “violence” of Bugs Bunny and the Road Runner back in the 1970s but I’m sorry but that as absurd. Now it is harder than hell to find a decent cartoon, and that includes the animation not just what is portrayed.  Heck back then e even had something educational, the Schoolhouse Rock series that my goodness actually was educational and entertaining.  Speaking of educational here are some Schoolhouse Rock episodes.

Conjunction Junction: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mkO87mkgcNo

How a Bill becomes Law: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mEJL2Uuv-oQ&feature=related

The Electoral College: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FaPlIcQw_dg&feature=related

So this morning I dug up out of my DVD stash a DVD of Bugs Bunny and his Looney tunes friends and when I was done with that a DVD of Pink Panther cartoons. I mean it was so much fun to watch real classic cartoons again and commercial free to make it even better.  Here are some great Bugs Bunny and Friends, Looney Tunes and Merry Melodies episodes.

Bugs Bunny Opera: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EPCUDAF0bVY

The Rabbit of Seville: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=55G7T8VdWEs&feature=fvsr

Wile E. Coyote and Road Runner: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YcR6Uw2UL7c

Daffy Duck: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qD2rI4rTzRw

Sylvester and Tweety: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ACkBAcN4kh4

Foghorn Leghorn and Henry the Chickenhawk:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Kwo8amOULkw and http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MdpfhAuAmjI&feature=related

Bugs Bunny and Melvin the Martian: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mMuWOLVAzYY

Yosemite Sam: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EJf4levMDTI

Of course there are Dastardly and Muttley: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EJf4levMDTI and so many more. When I was a kid I loved to watch Bugs Bunny and Road Runner and all of their Loony Tunes friends, Sylvester the cat, Daffy Duck, Porky Pig, Elmer Fudd, Peppy Le Pugh, Tweety, Granny, Foghorn Leghorn, Speedy Gonzalez, Wile E. Coyote, Melvin the Martian and the rest of the gang.  I also loved Dastardly and Muttley and the Wacky Races and their Flying Machine, Scooby Doo, Yogi Bear, the Flintstones, the Jetsons and of course the aforementioned Pink Panther cartoons.  I’m sorry but the new crap is just that….crap and I miss to old stuff. I was looking for anything decent on TV last Saturday morning and was sorely disappointed as I clicked on channel after channel to see nothing but crap. I mean seriously robots that look demon possessed demons in tights, repossessed demon mutant teddy bears and animated ads for mass produced lead paint coated slut dolls made in China that fill toy stores and discount houses…let me stop to catch my breath…. Audible sigh….deep breath….all better now. Thank you.

Anyway so you get the idea I don’t think much of what is shown on Saturday morning nowadays and I wish that the morons that do the programming would at least have the decency to at least show some of the oldies. But since they won’t I just went to the web to get some links to some great entertainment. Try as I might I have yet to find much in the way of entertainment or educational value in any of this, but there was entertainment as well as real artistry in many of the cartoons and some good educational value in stuff like Schoolhouse Rock…heck most of what I know about opera came out of Bugs Bunny, the Barber of Seville and the Flight of the Valkyrie just to name two.  In fact I have never seen a little kid not laugh at the old stuff or be seriously harmed by watching it.  Maybe we should go back to the classics and ditch the crap.  Sure it won’t stop terrorists, wars or economic meltdown but at least we can laugh.

Peace

Padre Steve+

 

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Filed under film, Just for fun, purely humorous

Thanksgiving 2010: Thanks for the Memories and Things to be Thankful for this Year

It is better to give than to receive so it is time to give thanks for all the blessings that I have received since last Thanksgiving, but before I do I have to philosophize just a bit.

You see while I am thankful for much I generally find that Thanksgiving Day leaves much to be desired. Not that I am adverse to giving thanks or being extremely grateful but I am really more of a Christmas kind of guy. I’m not a big fan of getting up early to watch parades I’d rather watch the big balloons that got away on the news or on You Tube.

Let’s Get Snoopy to keep watch on potential terrorists, he has the binoculars so why not?

I think it would be more fun since we are becoming a police state if we mounted surveillance cameras and Hellfire missiles on them and used Snoopy, Garfield and others to spy on our citizens and blast any potential terrorists. If we have to have a police state I think it should it might as well be fun.  Who cares about parades anyway when you can watch what are historically some of the worst professional football games of the season as we watch the Detroit Lions find yet another way to lose on Thanksgiving and the Dallas Cowboys play a sacrificial lamb just for the fun of it. Now it may be different this year because the Lions are winning some games and playing well for them, while the Cowboys after a horrible start to the season seem to have turned things around.  I have no idea how we ended up with those teams year after year on Thanksgiving but I guess for Cowboys and all 964 Lions fans it works well, not that there is anything wrong with that.

I like the times to get together and spent time with family and friends, though due to my military career it has been years since we have spent Thanksgiving with family.  There is something about a 3000 mile buffer zone that makes it hard to get to and from the West Coast.   Of course as many can attest family get-togethers were not always the most enjoyable occasions when after the mandatory grace was said and tempers flared certain elderly relatives rather tormented gastronomical delicacies appeared on the table to cause one to wonder how they ever lived so long.

But food is the centerpiece of any true Thanksgiving celebration is the Thanksgiving Dinner. Of course I have many less than fond memories associated with of the rather insidious entrees prepared by the aforementioned elderly relatives which color my views of Thanksgiving to the current day.

There was the ever present green bean salad frequently bathed in something that might have been mayonnaise or possibly Cool Whip.  Now the fact that it was spruced up a bit with Chernobyl Onions, boiled potatoes, slimy mushrooms or other additives that remain a mystery to this day didn’t make it any better, just more challenging to wonder who came up with the idea.

Another positively scary dish was the puke green Jell-O salad which I think was made of Jell-O, mayonnaise and would have canned pineapple or dry cat food thrown in just to make sure that there was something real in this unearthly concoction.  Of course one cannot forget the times that the Turkey didn’t turn out quite right being underdone or charred beyond belief.  The stuffing stuck to everything like a chunky primordial slime or mashed potatoes resembled Potato soup or were so chewy and dry that you had to add more of the 40 weight Pennzoil gravy just to get them down.  My late mother in law had a delicacy that we called Brown and Burn rolls and my late paternal Grandmother had something white, which might have been meat in white gravy but has never been identified despite the best efforts FBI forensics investigators.

Of course in many household the children serve a purpose akin to that of a Persian Emperor’s official food taster.  I can remember as a kid being forced to eat something from almost every dish on the table just to make sure that Aunt Betty Lou Who or Grammy Sue Who[i] would not be offended if no one ate what they prepared.

Now not everything was bad as most of the time no matter how badly everything else turned out the pie was good, well at least in most cases.  My favorite pie at Thanksgiving was one that a trio of my Great Aunts made. Now these aunts were really great, when we went to their house on 18th Street in Huntington West Virginia for Thanksgiving or any other occasion they laid out a wonderful spread, but the most delightful dish was their Graham Cracker Pie. This is a pie, well that was a dumb statement, of course it was pie, but this pie had a home-made graham cracker and cinnamon crust, was filled with vanilla pudding, the good stuff, not instant and a meringue top which was encrusted with the graham cracker cinnamon mix.  Thankfully Judy had Aunt Viva, the last of the trio write down the recipe before she passed away and she has made it on occasion keeping this one family delicacy alive.  In addition to the Graham Cracker Pie there was Banana Crème and Chocolate Crème, Pumpkin and Sweet Potato, Apple, Cherry as well as other pies that would make an occasional appearance.

As I noted we have been away from family most of our married life and we have frequently spent Thanksgiving with friends, many times single people that we hosted other times people that would host us and those were always enjoyable. I have also spent a good number of Thanksgivings deployed and those have been special, especially 2007 when I was in Iraq and after a mission to the Syrian border when I helped to serve the troops at the dining facility.  Those times make you very thankful and not in a joking sense about all the blessings that we have in the United States.

As most readers know I am just a tad irreverent at times and nowhere was this more in evidence than Thanksgiving 1991 when we hosted a number of our single friends from work or church since none of us were very well off, I was still in seminary and money was not a great commodity. Judy asked me since I was going into ministry if I would pray for the food. That was not a good way to phrase the question because at times, well most of the time tend to find the dark humor in anything and this time was no exception. I think the prayer went something like this. I’m sure that it was longer than this because there are times when I get on a roll and can’t shut up, but this captures the spirit of that “prayer for the food.”

Dear Lord we ask you to be with the soul of this turkey and all of his or her relatives this Thanksgiving. Relieve them of their pain and comfort the survivors in Jesus name Amen.

As I prayed I noticed Judy glaring daggers at me as our guests looked on in dismay.  To this day she always keeps a foot ready to kick me just in case I try something like this again. Likewise she is always careful in how she phrases what she wants me to pray for lest I become too literal in my prayer.

This year I have much to be thankful for. The first is that I have had my faith return after almost two years where I felt abandoned by God and was for all practical purposes an agnostic following my return from Iraq and struggle with PTSD, depression and anxiety after my deployment. Faith has returned, different but much better than what I had been through. Believe me a crisis in faith bordering on despair is not a good place to be and I don’t want to go there again. In addition to the return of faith I am thankful for my family, especially Judy and our little dog Molly. The year was tough because my father died in June after a seven year bout with Alzheimer’s disease, but while in California I was able to spend good time with my brother and his family as well as my mother. I am sincerely thankful for my friends all over the world and my colleagues at work.  I’m thankful for all those that stood by me in my struggles over the past several years, good friends and colleagues are hard to come by but I have been blessed to have them. I’m thankful that I was selected for promotion to Commander which means that I continue to have the opportunity to serve the people that I love in the Sea Services.  Likewise I am thankful that I was selected to be Command Chaplain at Naval Hospital Camp LeJeune and for the wonderful staff that I am honored to serve alongside as we care for the Marines and Sailors wounded in body, soul or spirit in the current war. I am also grateful for my friends at Gordon Biersch Virginia Beach, the Church of Baseball Harbor Park Parish, St. James Episcopal Church, my old friends in the Charismatic Episcopal Church and my new friends Bishop Diana Dale and the clergy of the Apostolic Catholic Orthodox Church.

I am also incredibly thankful for the fact that the San Francisco Giants win their first World Series since they moved to the West Coast in 1958. Go Giants!

Today we will meet a friend at a restaurant as Judy sprained her ankle, big toe on the opposite foot and wrist in a fall at church last weekend and is still not 100%.  That’s too bad because she is unable to make pie this year. Perhaps I will watch a football game but more likely we will enjoy some movies or Boston Legal episodes as we recover from our dinner out.

I do pray that you have a wonderful and blessed Thanksgiving full of life, love, family and friendship, and remember to pray for those in harm’s way and if possible do something for one of the least, the lost and the lonely today.

Oh, and by the way be careful of that addictive 40 weight Pennzoil gravy; it has a tendency to turn the bloodstream to sludge.

Peace and Happy Thanksgiving!

Padre Steve+


[i] The names have been changed to protect their memory

 

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Filed under Just for fun, purely humorous

The South Korean Order of Battle

South Korean Marines

This is the second of a two part series on military forces on the Korean Peninsula and supplemental articles on the crisis on the Korean Peninsula. The First, the North Korean Order of Battle http://padresteve.wordpress.com/2010/05/27/the-north-korean-order-of-battle/ compliments this article.  Peace, Padre Steve+

The Republic of Korea has a robust military.  It is well trained and equipped but only about half the size of the military of its rival the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK). It is composed of the Army, Navy, Air Force and Marines.  It is equipped with indigenously produced equipment as well as that purchased from the United States and other countries. It has deployed troops to Iraq, Afghanistan as well as Vietnam and the Gulf War.

The biggest component of the South Korean military is the Army which is composed of 522,000 soldiers organized into a Missile Command, Special Forces, aviation, logistics and training branches and a Capitol Defense Command.  The Army is composed of 30 Infantry and 5 Mechanized divisions, 4 Armored Brigades, 7 Special Operations Brigades (Airborne), 2 Special Assault Brigades and 6 Special Assault Regiments as well as a host of artillery, engineer, aviation, air defense, chemical, security and logistics commands of various sizes.

K1A1 Main Battle Tank

The Army has over 2500 tanks, 1500 of which are the K-1 and K-1A main battle tanks which were developed from the U.S. Army XM-1, M1, M1A1 and M1A2.  These are supplemented by 880 M-48 Patton Tanks. The Army also is well equipped with over 500 K-9 Self-Propelled 155mm Howitzer systems and about 1000 K55 155mm Self Propelled Howitzers based on the U.S. M109 series.  The Army uses about 2200 of the indigenously produced K200 Infantry Fighting Vehicles which are being supplemented with the first production batch of 466 K21 Infantry Fighting Vehicles. Its Aviation branch operates 600 helicopters.

K-9 155mm Howitzer

The ROK Marine Corps is a semi-autonomous branch of the Navy and is composed of 2 Marine Divisions and a Marine Brigade with strength of 27,000 Marines.  Like the U.S. Marine Corps the ROK Marine Corps has an amphibious mission and is similarly equipped with Amphibious Assault Vehicles, Tanks, and Artillery and Reconnaissance vehicles.  The 6th Marine Brigade garrisons the Islands in the West, or Yellow Sea and was involved in the most recent clash on Yeonpyeong Island.

The ROK Navy has 9 very modern destroyers including 2 ships equipped with the Aegis Air Defense System and 9 Frigates of the Ulsan Class. It has 12 German designed S209 and S214 class Submarines with 12 more of the later building or planned.  The Navy operates about 130 other ships or craft including  23 Corvettes and 73 patrol craft. The Corvette Cheonan was sunk in March by a North Korean torpedo likely fired by a midget submarine.  It also has a robust amphibious capability recently fielding the LPH Dokdo a 14,000 ton helicopter assault ship.  It operates about 10 ASW Aircraft and 50 helicopters.

Dokdo LPH

As of 2008 the ROK Air force operated more than 180 KF-16, 174 F-5E/F, 130 F-4D/E, 39 F-15K fighter jets or fighter bombers. They are also pending the delivery of 21 additional F-15Ks between 2010 and 2012.  The bulk of the Air Force, 6 fighter wings is under command of the Northern Combat Command.

Supplementing the ROK forces at U.S. Forces Korea which include the ground forces of the 8th Army, now consisting of the 2nd Infantry Division (FWD) composed of 1st Heavy Combat Brigade Team, 201st Fires Brigade and 2nd Combat Aviation Brigade and supporting units.  Reinforcements can be drawn from I Corps at Ft Lewis Washington and units of the 2nd and 25th Infantry Divisions.

The 7th Air Force which has 2 Fighter Wings composed of F-16, F-15 fighters and A-10 ground attack aircraft as well as supporting ground units. .  In theater Air Force assets can be reinforced by wings and squadrons from U.S. Air Force Pacific which include the latest F-22 Raptors and other attack and bombing units.  Additionally units of the Strategic Air Command using B-52 and B-2 bombers can be employed.

The U.S. Navy 7th Fleet based in Japan contributes the USS George Washington (CVN 73) and the embarked Carrier Air Wing Five (CVW-5) Surface Combatant Force Seventh Fleet (or Task Force 75) comprised of Aegis Cruisers USS Shiloh (CG 67), USS Cowpens (CG 63) and the seven assigned ships of Destroyer Squadron Fifteen (CDS-15) complete the surface combatant forces.  Submarine Group 7 based in Guam composed of USS Buffalo (SSN 715), USS City of Corpus Christi (SSN 705) and USS Houston (SSN 713) supported by the Submarine Tender USS Frank Cable (AS 40) reinforced by USS Ohio (SSGN-726) and USS Michigan (SSGN-727) both Home-ported Bangor, Washington provide both ASW capability against DPRK Submarine Forces as well as attack and guided missile attack capabilities using Harpoon and Tomahawk Submarine Launched Guided Missiles. Amphibious forces include the Sasebo based USS Essex (LHD-2), USS Denver (LPD-9), USS Harpers Ferry (LSD-49) and USS Tortuga (LSD-46) which typically embark the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit.  Mine Warfare forces include the USS Avenger (MCM-1), USS Defender (MCM-2), USS Guardian (MCM-5) and USS Patriot (MCM-7).  All can be reinforced by elements of the West Coast and Hawaii based 3td Fleet. Marine Forces of the III Marine Expeditionary Force based in Okinawa and Mainland Japan composed of 3rd Marine Division, 1st Marine Air Wing and 3rd Marine Logistics Group provide a potent expeditionary force in readiness to support any contingency on the Korea Peninsula.

While the ROK and US Forces undoubtedly would control the air and the sea North Korean ground forces mostly based on the border could launch a devastating artillery and missile attack on the South Korean Capital, Seoul and their large number of special operations forces could make ground operations more difficult despite the qualitative superiority of ROK and ground US Forces.  North Korea does have the capability to spread the war to Japan which could contribute its air, naval and potentially ground forces to any conflict. United Nations Forces could be added to the allied order of battle.

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Filed under Foreign Policy, Military, national security

The Drumhead: A Star Trek TNG Episode that Speaks to Us Today

Captain Picard being Interrogated

Back in 1991 when I was still in seminary I spent every Saturday evening glued to my television set to watch Star Trek the Next Generation or Star Trek TNG for short.  Even today I enjoy watching the human drama that Gene Roddenberry and his cohorts created on the small screen.  Of all the Star Trek series my favorites are TNG and Deep Space 9 which sometimes called simply DS9.  Those series often touched on very pertinent social, political, medical, and technological and dare I say national security issues such as….oh, there are so many to choose from, let’s try airport security and protection against terrorists since that seems to be in the news a lot.

One of the most chilling episodes is called “The Drumhead.” http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0708793/

The episode is about an investigation that takes place on the Enterprise following an explosion in its engineering spaces.  Suspicion centers on a Klingon exchange officer but the investigator, the retired Starfleet Judge Advocate General a woman named Nora Satie and her Betazed assistant soon casts a wide net which eventually brings charges against a crew member and eventually Captain Picard.

At first Admiral Satie’s investigation seems reasonable. After all the Federation was in danger and there was a possibility that Flagship of Starfleet was sabotaged and there was the possibility that the Klingons or others might be involved.  Thus as she began her investigation she was welcomed by the Captain as well as the Security Chief, Lieutenant Worf, the only Klingon serving as a Starfleet officer.  Satie assisted by the Enterprise officers find how the Klingon scientist was getting information off the Enterprise and Lieutenant Commander LeForge finds that the explosion thought to be “sabotage” was caused by a flaw in a recently replaced dilithium chamber.  Although convinced that the Klingon is not the saboteur Satie is convinced that another saboteur is aboard and she and her assistants trick a young hospital corpsman named Simon Tarsus into lying, not about the sabotage but because his grandfather was a Romulan, which he did mention when he enlisted, instead saying that the grandfather was a Vulcan.

As the investigation widens Picard discusses it with Lieutenant Worf of which I find this dialogue to be quite relevant to today in year ten of the War on Terror and the passage of the Patriot Act.

Lieutenant Worf: “Sir, the Federation does have enemies. We must seek them out.”
Captain Jean-Luc Picard: “Oh, yes. That’s how it starts. But the road from legitimate suspicion to rampant paranoia is very much shorter than we think. Something is wrong here, Mister Worf. I don’t like what we have become.”

Picard’s confrontation with Admiral Satie

When Picard objects to the grilling of Crewman Tarsus, Admiral Satie and her chief assistant begin an investigation of Picard.  He confronts the admiral saying:  “Admiral! What you’re doing here is unethical; it’s immoral. I’ll fight it.” And the Admiral replies “Do what you must, Captain. And so will I.”

This brings about the final confrontation where Admiral Satie calls a Senior Admiral from Starfleet to what her interrogate Picard who she has labeled a traitor. The investigation ends with her interrogating him and in the process revealing that she has become so consumed with “defending liberty” that she is willing to trample the rights of anyone that she suspects of disloyalty to the Federation.  The questioning of Picard by the Admiral is fascinating and thought provoking because there are people that think and act just like the Admiral, believing like her that they are defending the United States or in her case the Federation.

Admiral Satie: Tell me, Captain, have you completely recovered from your experience with the Borg?

Captain Jean-Luc Picard: Yes, I have completely recovered.

Admiral Satie: It must have been awful for you… actually becoming one of them. Being forced to use your vast knowledge of Starfleet operations to aid the Borg. Just how many of our ships were lost? Thirty-nine? And a loss of life, I believe, measured at nearly 11,000. One wonders how you can sleep at night, having caused so much destruction. I question your actions, Captain; I question your choices, I question your loyalty!

Capt. Picard: You know there are some words I’ve known since I was a schoolboy: “With the first link, the chain is forged. The first speech censured, the first thought forbidden, the first freedom denied, chains us all irrevocably.” Those words were uttered by Judge Aaron Satie, as wisdom and warning. The first time any man’s freedom is trodden on, we’re all damaged. I fear that today…

Admiral Satie: [stands up in anger and interrupts Picard] How dare you! You who consort with Romulans, invoke my father’s name to support your traitorous arguments! It is an offense to everything I hold dear! And to hear those words used to subvert the United Federation of Planets. My father was a great man! His name stands for integrity and principle. You dirty his name when you speak it! He loved the Federation. But you, Captain, corrupt it. You undermine our very way of life. I will expose you for what you are. I’ve brought down bigger men than you, Picard!
[Admiral Henry gets up and leaves the room]

I have linked the episode here because it is so compelling to watch each segment is on You Tube and is 9 minutes long.

Part One: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z0e5M8QZGyE

Part Two: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Hh2B5WXoQXY

Part Three: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_X4sS5zBoNc

Part Four: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DLJ4D6MyR1E

Part Five: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GJnVPyBIj5E

Of course Admiral Henry ends the investigation then and there and sends Admiral Satie home.  Of course this is fiction but the mindset and attitude of Admiral Satie seems to have been embraced by some in our government and security agencies, especially the TSA.  Rather than actually using police methods that work to identify potential terrorists from the vast amount of they make the entire nation suspects and use methods that in the past would have been declared unconstitutional because they violate Habeas Corpus rights, privacy rights and treat everyone as a potential terrorist without probable cause. Yet 80% of Americans are okay with this because it makes them feel safe without any data to show that it actual does and in over 9 years of existence has yet to catch one terrorist.  People that question or refuse their demands are treated as criminals and subject to arrest and prosecution with potential imprisonment and fines of $11,000 if they decide that when they get to the gate that they don’t want to put up with the nonsense and go home without boarding the aircraft.  The crime is not theirs because they don’t have to have anything in their possession to convict them; just deciding that they have had enough is enough for the TSA under the provisions of the Patriot Act to ruin their lives.  Our founding Fathers are probably spinning in their graves.  But the talk is out there, former Senator and Secretary of Defense William J. Cohen said: “Terrorism is escalating to the point that Americans soon may have to choose between civil liberties and more intrusive means of protection.” Well the choice has been made and I don’t think that there is any going back.  I’m sure that once the Tea Party led Republican Party comes to power in 2012 that they will use every tool available to “protect us because it is necessary” just as President Obama is doing now.

Frederick Douglass once said: “Find out just what the people will submit to and you have found out the exact amount of injustice and wrong which will be imposed upon them; and these will continue until they are resisted with either words or blows, or with both. The limits of tyrants are prescribed by the endurance of those whom they oppress.” He was right and I do not see any change until enough people object to force a change in how we fight terrorism.

I contend that we must fight this war but in the process not lose who we are as a people and surrender the ideals, principles and freedoms that made us the envy of people everywhere.  The balance has to be found in this effort; right now the pendulum is so far to the security side that it seems freedom is no longer even a concern at least for the vast majority of the population and our political leadership. One only has to look at what politicians on both sides of the political chasm have said about “protecting the homeland” and “safeguarding air travel” to realize that this is only the beginning.

The last lines of “The Drumhead” are interesting. Lieutenant Worf comes to Picard to let him know that Admiral Satie and Admiral Henry have left the Enterprise. Worf is apologetic about his rather overzealous role in the investigation and realizing the danger says: “after yesterday, people will not be so ready to trust her.” To which Picard replies “Maybe. But she, or someone like her, will always be with us, waiting for the right climate in which to flourish, spreading fear in the name of righteousness. Vigilance, Mister Worf – that is the price we have to continually pay.”

Eternal vigilance in the face of both terrors from abroad and self imposed tyranny designed to protect us from the terrorists. Yes James Madison, God bless him was absolutely right when he said “The means of defense against foreign danger historically have become the instruments of tyranny at home.” However I fear that those that warn of such dangers will themselves be labeled the enemy. It as Henry Steele Commanger said “Men in authority will always think that criticism of their policies is dangerous. They will always equate their policies with patriotism, and find criticism subversive.” This, my friends is the reality that we live in.

Peace

Padre Steve+

 

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Filed under History, national security, philosophy, Political Commentary, star trek

My God What Happened? I’ve become a Civil Rights Advocate and I know Why

“The means of defense against foreign danger historically have become the instruments of tyranny at home.” James Madison

I don’t know what it is, maybe the Mad Cow or something but somehow and I don’t know how I have become a raging civil libertarian championing or supporting all sorts of causes that as a law and order conservative that I would never espoused. I have been so riled up lately about what is going on with the Transportation Security Agency because I have been accosted by them and practically strip searched while traveling in my Navy uniform on valid travel orders with proper military identification while foreigners wearing clothes that could hide a truck bomb passed through the checkpoint.  That was back in 2003 before the current Grope on Site order was in place. This happened again in 2008 when coming home from Iraq. I think that it was those two instances that were the watershed for me.

When I was forced to remove my ribbons, rank, belt buckle and made to unzip back in 2003, or remove boots and belt buckle and uniform shirt less than an hour after returning from Iraq I knew that if the TSA was out of control, and that my dear readers was back in the days of the Bush administration.  When I realized that the TSA was subjecting military personnel in uniform with proper ID and on orders to such ludicrous and humiliating searches that the police state was already here even if most people didn’t see the danger.

Evidently I am still in a minority as according to a CNN/Gallup poll 80% of Americans supported the TSA so long as “it made them safe.” Of course probably 60% of the poll respondents have not had the pleasure of being assaulted by the TSA since they don’t fly.  It’s easy to support such practices if they don’t affect you.

I guess it is the repugnant Gestapo, STASI or KGB like invasive search methods that are nothing less than physical and sexual assault and battery that have turned me into a civil libertarian. It is the indictment of innocent citizens that only desire to travel by air and are forced to prove that they are not terrorists that bothers me. To see people with medical conditions and even children humiliated and even strip searched is abhorrent.  It is even more so because despite the billions of dollars allotted to the TSA not a single terrorist has been apprehended by them and the new tactics are already being rendered obsolete by the terrorists that attacked us on 9-11-2001.  With each year the TSA’s methods have grown more invasive and humiliating to average citizens whose only crime is travelling without any corresponding increase in air safety and security.

http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2010/05/19/eveningnews/main6500349.shtml

Unfortunately the tactics of the TSA will not change because no politician wants to get blamed if something does go wrong and we will find that our liberties will be stripped away one by one under the benevolent and watchful eye of government bureaucrats and officials empowered by ill conceived laws; laws that the vast majority of the legislators that voted for them never even read.

George Washington said it so eloquently “Government is not reason; it is not eloquence. It is force. And force, like fire, is a dangerous servant and a fearful master.” James Monroe was even more prophetic when he addressed the Virginia Ratifying Convention in 1788:  “How prone all human institutions have been to decay; how subject the best-formed and most wisely organized governments have been to lose their check and totally dissolve; how difficult it has been for mankind, in all ages and countries, to preserve their dearest rights and best privileges, impelled as it were by an irresistible fate of despotism.”

Now I see that many people are okay with this and that I expect because I believe that the vast majority of people will always opt for security over freedom if pushed hard enough. However, when I see people that raised no alarm when the Patriot Act and other security legislation was passed by a Republican Congress and signed into law by President Bush now castigate President Obama for not going against the will of 80% of the population who think this is perfectly fine.  After all what politician goes against the will of voters when they are in great political difficulty?

When people like Rush Limbaugh state on the air “Mr. President don’t touch my teabags” when the fly on private jets I want to scream.  The differences now are that the TSA has bought technology that was not available in 2001 to do the job that Bush’s second director of Homeland Security Director Michael Chertoff advocated buying. Chertoff has been retained by the manufacturers of the devices and their lobbyists. Of course the company Rapiscan Systems also has Linda Daschle a former FAA official and wife of former Democrat Speaker of the House Tom Daschle on their payroll. I love bi-partisanship don’t you?

The second reason is all politics. There is a Democrat in the White House. A Democrat that Limbaugh and others will shred if he appears soft on terrorism and if terrorists somehow succeed in conducting an attack.  Obama is damned if he does and damned if he doesn’t, just as Bush was after 9-11 when people were in a panic and every politician, pundit and media personality was demanding action.

Sometimes I think in our current drift toward a police state civil libertarians are not appreciated because they raise issues that make people uncomfortable. You see for many if not most people it is better to trade safety and security for liberty when politicians, pundits and the media tell us that it is necessary and that they have our best interests at heart.  It is just as Daniel Webster said: “Good intentions will always be pleaded for every assumption of authority. It is hardly too strong to say that the Constitution was made to guard the people against the dangers of good intentions. There are men in all ages who mean to govern well, but they mean to govern. They promise to be good masters, but they mean to be masters.”

You see what is happening with the TSA is the tip of the iceberg. Once we get hit again no politician of any party with the possible exception of Ron Paul will willingly divest him themselves of the powers granted under emergency provision which are deemed “necessary” in a crisis and most people will support them.  Unfortunately it is hard for me to see how the provisions of the Patriot Act and the actions of the TSA in their current methods of passenger screening do not violate the 4th Amendment which states: The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

Unfortunately such actions even with the approval of the citizenry trample the Constitution. It is the Constitution that is the best guarantee for us remaining a free society.  The Constitution as Justice David Davis wrote “is a law for rulers and people, equally in war and in peace, and covers with the shield of its protection all classes of men, at all times, and under all circumstances. No doctrine, involving more pernicious consequences, was ever invented by the wit of man than that any of its provisions can be suspended during any of the great exigencies of government. Such a doctrine leads directly to anarchy or despotism, but the theory of necessity on which it is based is false; for the government, within the Constitution, has all the powers granted to it, which are necessary to preserve its existence; as has been happily proved by the result of the great effort to throw off its just authority.”

We need to learn as a nation and people before it is too late the dangerous course that we have embarked upon. Other great nations have surrendered liberties in times of crisis and because it was necessary.  How many have recovered them without being totally destroyed and having to be rebuilt?

Al Qaeda and its allies have done what no previous enemy has ever succeeded in doing.  More than the human and material costs of 9-11-2001 and other terrorist acts Osama Bin Laden and his allies have succeeded in giving up essential liberties in the name of security. James Madison was correct when he wrote: The means of defense against foreign danger historically have become the instruments of tyranny at home. I pray that we will come to our collective senses before we lose everything.  When Patrick Henry said “Give me liberty or give me death” he understood that liberty and its defense were more important than life itself.  If we continue down this path we will lose even more liberty and it will be all be for our good and perfectly legal. Bin Laden and his evil consorts must be laughing as we walk down this path and are certainly going to keep making threats and attacks to cause us to curtail our freedom even more than we have. As Bin Laden said: “And he moved the tyranny and suppression of freedom to his own country, and they called it the Patriot Act under the disguise of fighting terrorism.”

God help us.

Peace

Padre Steve+

 

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Filed under History, laws and legislation, national security, Political Commentary

Freedom willingly Surrendered is Seldom Regained

The means of defense against foreign danger historically have become the instruments of tyranny at home.  James Madison

William Pitt once said: “Necessity is the plea for every infringement of human freedom. It is argument of tyrants. It is the creed of slaves.” Unfortunately necessity seems to have trumped freedom in the United States.

I have no fear of Al Qaeda or any other terrorist regardless of their malevolent intents, perverse ideology, and lethalness of their weapons or commitment to their cause. I don’t fear these malignant vermin because in our history we have faced down far greater threats to our country, our freedom and way of life.  Unfortunately after the attacks of September 11th 2001 something changed in our country. For the first time an enemy had executed a successful attack on the continental United States killing nearly 3000 Americans and throwing the country into a state of shock and dare I say panic and generated such fear and anxiety that people willingly allowed their legislature to pass several acts to safeguard the country. These acts were of grand scale and affected almost every aspect of life in the country from driver’s licenses to airport security as well as government surveillance of e-mail and about every other form of communication outside of cans and string. Under previous courts parts or all of some of these acts would have been declared unconstitutional because previous courts recognized the inherent dangers of such types of legislation.

However fear has a strange affect on people especially a people who have become conditioned to desiring security and material comfort over freedom which entails risk. Despite warnings of civil libertarians on both the political left and right the Patriot Act of 2001 and the Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Protection Act of 2004 were passed by large majorities in the then Republican dominated Congress and signed into law by President Bush.  They were passed in the shadow of the single most devastating attack on the country in what were considered emergency conditions. They were passed because we were told and many of us earnestly believed that they were necessary for the protection of the American “homeland.”  People willingly submitted to ever increasing security measures especially those in airports and few seem to know or even care that almost every type of telephonic, wireless or electronic means of communication to include e-mail and chat is monitored by Carnivore a massive surveillance system operated by the National Security Agency.  The rational for accepting them is that they were needed to keep us safe form the terrorists. However, as Justice Charles Evans wrote: “Emergency does not create power. Emergency does not increase granted power or remove or diminish the restrictions imposed upon power granted or reserved. The Constitution was adopted in a period of grave emergency. Its grants of power to the federal government and its limitations of the power of the States were determined in the light of emergency, and they are not altered by emergency.”

As I said in my previous post The Road to Totalitarianism is paved with Good Intentions http://padresteve.wordpress.com/2010/11/20/the-road-to-totalitarianism-is-paved-with-good-intentions/ that those that hastily enacted the legislation did so with good intentions, intentions to govern, but as Daniel Webster said: “Good intentions will always be pleaded for every assumption of authority. It is hardly too strong to say that the Constitution was made to guard the people against the dangers of good intentions. There are men in all ages who mean to govern well, but they mean to govern. They promise to be good masters, but they mean to be masters.”

In reaction to further threats and methods of attack by Al Qaeda and its allies the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and its Transportation Security Agency (TSA) have put into use more stringent and intrusive methods at their airport passenger and crew screening stations.  These include full body scanners that reveal a person’s naked body and if they do not desire that the can submit to a “pat down search” which can also be done to people chosen at random. The methods employed would be illegal if a teacher did them to a student and would get almost anyone else charged with sexual assault.  They are draconian and have been applied to the most vulnerable citizens, children strip searched http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XSQTz1bccL4 , cancer survivors having their prosthetics removed and examined and one man having his urostomy bag broken leaving him soaked in urine.  http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/40291856/ns/travel-news There have been hundreds of complaints by other citizens who have felt that they have been assaulted in the process of being screened. To add insult to injury the TSA has announced that people who enter a security line and then decided that they do not want to be searched and want to leave the airport can be detained, interrogated and possibly charged with a felony, imprisoned and fined up to $11,000.  They don’t even have to have anything on them; they can be law abiding citizens that simply decide at the moment that air travel is just not worth the humiliation.

The sad thing is that 80% in a CNN Poll said that they were okay with this but in reality these measures are already obsolete because Al Qaeda can change its tactics in an instant. Al Qaeda announced that the operation that led to this cost just over $4,000 and that its attacks were meant to “bleed us to death with a 1000 cuts.” http://abcnews.go.com/Blotter/al-qaeda-promises-us-death-thousand-cuts/story?id=12204726 Not only this but there are reports that Al Qaeda is already developing methods for men or women to have explosives surgically implanted and thus completely undetectable unless all passengers are required to have a full body cavity search. http://www.wnd.com/index.php?fa=PAGE.view&pageId=229613

The TSA has dug in and is refusing to modify the searches despite pressure from their superiors at the DHS and some in Congress. The have been supported by the President but what really can he do. If he forces a change and something happens then he gets blamed by his political opponents who already have it out for him. Likewise he isn’t doing something that President Bush and John Ashcroft would not have done earlier had the technology been available in 2001.  Add to the fact that 80% of the people say they are okay with these measures as long as they are safe means that he has to back the TSA.  If he doesn’t he alienates even more of the people.  He’s damned if he does and damned if he doesn’t.

In surrendering our liberty and all that we hold dear for an illusion of security we have in effect granted victory to Al Qaeda and its allies.  Our Marines, Soldiers, Sailors and Airmen fight and die every day while their countrymen surrender the freedom that they honestly believe that they are fighting for. The freedoms and liberties that we give up will only grow in number and intensity. It will not end well.

God help us.

Peace

Padre Steve+

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Filed under national security, Political Commentary

The Road to Totalitarianism is paved with Good Intentions

“They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.” Benjamin Franklin

Hitler presides over the Reichstag during the passage of the Enabling Act

Sometimes in crisis nations enact laws that in the heat of the moment sound quite good. In fact the writers of such laws usually don’t have bad intentions, they react to a crisis enact laws to safeguard society from the events of the crisis which usually included widespread political, social and economic disruption.  In 1919 with the country engulfed in economic, social, political crisis that had evolved into what amounted to a civil war Germany added an article to the Weimar Constitution.  That article was Article 48 and read as follows:

Article 48 of the German Constitution of August 11, 1919:

If public safety and order in Germany are materially disturbed or endangered, the President may take the necessary measures to restore public safety and order, and, if necessary, to intervene with the help of the armed forces. To this end he may temporarily suspend, in whole or in part, the fundamental rights established in Articles 114, 115, 117, 118, 123, 124, and 153

During the turbulent history of Weimar Article 48 was used by the Socialist President Friedrich Ebert who had to guide the country through the collapse of the monarchy, the humiliation of Versailles, the period of hyperinflation as well as an attempted takeover by those who wanted to implement a Soviet government as well coup attempts from the political right.  After Ebert’s death in 1925 Field Marshal Paul von Hindenburg was elected President and during the economic, political and social crisis brought about by the Great Depression invested the conservative Chancellor Heinrich Brüning with the powers of Article 48, something that he also granted to Brüning’s successors Franz von Papen, Kurt von Schleicher and Adolf Hitler.

Under Hitler it was invoked after the burning of the Reichstag, the German Parliament building an event which was very likely executed by the Nazis themselves while blaming the Communists.  It was issued in the following manner:

ARTICLE 1. In virtue of paragraph 2, article 48, of the German Constitution, the following is decreed as a defensive measure against communist acts of violence, endangering the state:

Sections 114, 115, 117, 118, 123, 124, and 153 of the Constitution of the German Reich are suspended until further notice. Thus, restrictions on personal liberty [114], on the right of free expression of opinion, including freedom of the press [118], on the right of assembly and the right of association [124], and violations of the privacy of postal, telegraphic, and telephonic communications [117], and warrants for house-searches [115], orders for confiscation as well as restrictions on property [153], are also permissible beyond the legal limits otherwise prescribed.

Following this the Reichstag passed a law called the Enabling Act. This law gave the President unlimited power which Hindenburg ceded to Hitler.  When Hindenburg died in 1934 the offices of President and Chancellor were merged in the person of Adolf Hitler. This is the text of the Enabling Act legislation:

The Enabling Act of 1933

The Reichstag [the lower house of parliament] has passed the following law, which is, with the approval of the Reichsrat [the upper house], herewith promulgated, after it has been established that it satisfies the requirements for legislation altering the Constitution.

ARTICLE 1. In addition to the procedure for the passage of legislation outlined in the Constitution, the Reich Cabinet is also authorized to enact Laws referred to by Articles 85 Paragraph 2 and Article 87 of the constitution. (Article 85 outlined the process by which the Reichstag and Reichsrat approved the Reich budget. Article 87 restricted government borrowing.)

ARTICLE 2. The national laws enacted by the Reich Cabinet may deviate from the Constitution provided they do not affect the position of the Reichstag (low house of Parliament) and the Reichsrat (the Upper House). The powers of the President remain unaffected.

ARTICLE 3. The national laws enacted by the Reich Cabinet shall be prepared by the Chancellor and published in the official gazette. They come into effect, unless otherwise specified, upon the day following their publication unless they prescribe a different date. Articles 68 to 77 of the Constitution do not apply to laws enacted by the Reich government. (Articles 68 to 77 stipulated the procedures for enacting legislation in the Reichstag.)

ARTICLE 4. Treaties of the Reich with foreign states which concern matters of domestic legislation do not require the consent of the bodies participating in legislation. The Reich Cabinet is empowered to issue the necessary provisions for the implementing of these treaties.

ARTICLE 5. This law comes into effect on the day of its publication. It ceases to be valid on 1 April 1937 or if the present Reich government is replaced by another.

The Enabling Act was passed by a majority of the Reichstag by a vote of 441 to 96. The Communists had been banned and had no representation, the center and right cast aside their reservations and voted for it and only the Socialists led by their Chief Otto Wels voted against it.  For their trouble most of the Socialist deputies would be imprisoned, go into concentration camps or have to flee the country.

Some leaders of religious groups that initially supported the Nazis rapidly discovered that they had made a deal with the Devil. As Martin Niemöller said:

They came first for the Communists,
and I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a Communist.

Then they came for the trade unionists,
and I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a trade unionist.

Then they came for the Jews,
and I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a Jew.

Then they came for me
and by that time no one was left to speak up.
.

In times of crisis people seek security and stability and are often willing to sacrifice constitutional liberties to do so.  Unfortunately when a people and nation willing abrogate their constitutional rights and protections by legislative action or executive order in the name of security and safety they ensure that they will lose all. The German political parties that voted in favor of the Enabling Act included cultural and religious conservatives.  Most of these people feared a potential Communist takeover and continued political and economic instability more than surrendering their rights and freedoms.

Unfortunately it is my belief as well as that of many civil libertarians on both sides of the political divide that we have set the stage in this country for a totalitarian state.  Our legislature passes massive bills which none have read that are so Byzantine that no one can understand them which often give nearly unchecked power to unelected bureaucrats in government agencies and often serve to grant more power to the Executive Branch at the expense of Congress, the Courts and State governments.  Such legislation passed under conditions where people believe a crisis exists includes the Patriot Act of 2001, the Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Protection Act of 2004, the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008 the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) of 2008 and the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) of 2010.  Most of the people that voted for these laws certainly believed that they were doing the right thing, but all contain provisions that give unelected and unaccountable bureaucrats unheard of power over the daily lives of Americans and contain provisions that sacrifice individual rights and liberties. There are numerous other examples which in conjunction with Presidential Executive Orders and Directives, some public and many secret that provide the Executive Branch willing to use them almost unbridled power.  Under normal conditions no President would attempt take full advantage of such powers nor would most people accept such a power grab, but history shows that under emergency or crisis conditions people and legislatures willingly surrender liberty for supposed security.

In Weimar Germany the catalyst was the fear of Communist takeover in the midst of economic crisis that created the conditions by which non-Nazi citizens and political parties surrendered their liberties. In the wake of the attacks of September 11th 2001, continued terrorist threats, two wars, economic crisis, the collapse of the housing market and the ineffectiveness of government leaders at the Federal and State levels the United States in a place where many people may accept an authoritarian or totalitarian regime so long as we are safe and the economy gets back on track.  Instead of a Communist threat we have a Muslim extremist terrorist threat. Instead of the Great Depression we have a world economy on the brink of collapse. People are fearful; millions are going bankrupt or losing their homes and jobs and more seem to be willing to surrender freedom just to be safe and have some semblance of an orderly society again.  You really can’t blame people for wanting a return to an America where it is safe and the economy is doing well there is nothing evil in that desire. Unfortunately history shows that there are those that will exploit people’s fears and longings to gain unbridled power and once they have it will stop at nothing to keep it.

In 1933 the German people surrendered their rights and freedoms for the promise of safety, security, economic recovery and a return to national greatness.  The question that I have to ask is will the people of the United States of America do the same in the next few years?  I think the answer is obvious.  It will only take a successful terror attack on the United States Homeland, an economic collapse or a government shutdown to force the issue. People will demand results and will welcome whoever can deliver those results.  We have already shown what people will accept in order to travel by commercial air and from that it is but a small step to accepting such measures in the rest of life.  Get ready folks it will be a joy.

Peace

Padre Steve+

 

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Filed under History, laws and legislation, national security, Political Commentary