Cheat-Seeking Missles

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Sunday Scan

The Jerry Lewis Porkathon

The San Bernardino Sun reports on the hometown Congressman:
Rep. Jerry Lewis, R-Redlands, is tops among California's 54 congressional representatives when it comes to securing federal dollars in money-spending bills.

Lewis even bested House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-San Francisco, by 56 percent.

Numbers compiled by a non-partisan budget watchdog group, Taxpayers for Common Sense, show that Lewis - sometimes partnering with other lawmakers - scored more than $126 million worth of earmarks in a dozen appropriations bills for fiscal 2008.

Lewis does have some classic pork in his $126 million, including $8million in Army research funding for a local military contractor, but not all pork is created equal.

Lewis represents some of the fastest-growing cities in the nation, so his region needs a lot of help to cope with growth: New roads, new water and sewer systems, new hospitals. Developers pay a big chunk as do taxpayer-approved bonds, but it makes sense that Lewis' district should get more than slow-growing districts.

Then there's the fires that have swept the mountain communities above Redlands. Lewis represented those people well by getting money to help rebuild their towns.

While I'm no fan of pork, I'm even less a fan of lazy reporting.

Preposterous Prosperity Preachers

"Give and the Lord will give back" is a message heard from many pulpits, often with biblical purity. God loves a giving heart -- but if He loves televangelist prosperity preachers, who do a lot of preaching about giving, it would be one of God's greater mysteries.

Now a Republican Senator has launched an investigation of some of the biggest of these money-sucking televangelists:
The powerful top Republican on the Senate Finance Committee earlier this month sent detailed letters to six mega-ministries that are exempt from paying federal taxes, asking about their fundraising and use of donations.

For example, [Sen. Charles] Grassley wants to know for what tax-exempt purpose Joyce Meyer Ministries, based in Fenton, Mo., bought a $30,000 malachite round table, and spent $11,219 on a French clock and $19,162 on Dresden vases.

He's also interested in the total amount of "love offerings" received in lieu of salary by Bishop Eddie Long of the New Birth Missionary Baptist Church in Lithonia, Ga., and how Long reports them on his W-2 forms to the Internal Revenue Service.

Kenneth Copeland Ministries, in Newark, Texas, also received a letter. Grassley is curious about reports that a gathering of ministers presented Kenneth Copeland with a "personal gift" in excess of $2 million, in celebration of the organization's 40th anniversary.

The other three targets are Randy and Paula White of Without Walls International Church in Tampa, Fla.; Benny Hinn of World Healing Center Church Inc. in Grapevine, Texas; and Creflo and Taffi Dollar of World Changers Church International in College Park, Ga. Des Moines Register via Right Views)

My only question is why it took so long. These thieves have been taking money from the widowed, feeble and naive for so long their place in Hell is well secured; their time in prison should have started long ago.

A pulpit is the worst place to hide behind ... with the possible exception of the television camera. If Sen. Grassley's investigation bears fruit, then the next step should be going after some television broadcast licenses.

The $30,000 malachite table caught my eye; here's Malachi 1:6:

“A son honors his father, and a servant his master. If I am a father, where is the honor due me? If I am a master, where is the respect due me?” says the Lord Almighty. “It is you, O priests, who show contempt for my name.


Happy 60th Betty and Phil

Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip are celebrating their 60th, and BBC has provided us with 60 wedding tidbits including ones of wealth:
The Queen's bridal veil was made of tulle and held by a tiara of diamonds. This tiara was made for Queen Mary in 1919. It was made from re-used diamonds taken from a necklace/tiara purchased by Queen Victoria from Collingwood and Co and a wedding present for Queen Mary in 1893. In August 1936, Queen Mary gave the tiara to Queen Elizabeth from whom it was borrowed by Princess Elizabeth for her wedding in 1947.
... and ones of war-time austerity:
The two Royal kneelers, used during the service, were covered in rose pink silk. They were made from orange boxes, due to war time austerity, and date stamped 1946.
It's an interesting journey into another time, another place, and makes a nice Sunday read.

Paranoid Libertarians

Steve Greenhut, editorial writer at the OCRegister, is a years-long friend. We talk frequently about property rights, crazed greenies, global warming hysteria and other common interests.

We almost never talk about the war, because as a libertarian, Greenhut has been against it since day one, and his normally clear vision gets clouded, as in his column today:
One of the most disturbing lessons I've learned following the 9/11 attacks is that many people will go along with just about any government-imposed outrage if it's couched in the right terms and plays on their fears.

In the past few years, we've seen the federal government become increasingly aggressive in its efforts to spy on, detain, wiretap, monitor, imprison, search and harass not only suspected "enemy combatants" but pretty much anyone, at its discretion.
Pretty much anyone, Steve? Where are the cases in point? Who's been harassed? Who's been imprisoned? If you think the targets are "anyone," then our legal targets will shrink to pretty much no one, and the Islamists will have successfully exploited our freedoms in their efforts to take our freedoms away from us.

Greenhut's focus is Manzanar, the internment camp for Japanese-Americans in WWII:
One columnist, quoted in the book, "Reflections," about the Manzanar relocation center in California, made this argument: "I'm for the immediate removal of every Japanese on the West Coast to a point deep in the interior … let 'em be pinched, hurt, hungry … let us have no patience with the enemy or with anyone who carry his blood. Personally, I hate the Japanese."

Last year when I first researched this topic, I found such bile to be common in newspapers. At the time, The Orange County Register's longtime co-publisher R.C. Hoiles was one of the only West Coast newspaper publishers to come out against the internment.
Hindsight can be 20/20, but Greenhut should understand that among all those unjustly interned were some whose interment was good for us and for the war effort -- something Greenhut dismisses with:
The justification was to protect against espionage and sabotage, although there was scant evidence that Japanese-Americans and Japanese nationals living on the West Coast had engaged in any such activities.
But how could there be evidence unless there was the sort of spying on, wiretapping and monitoring that Greenhut abhors?

I have friends who lived in Manzanar, and I am well aware that the internment was ugly for all and unnecessary for nearly all. But the fact is this: There hasn't been any government call for internment of Muslims or any government effort that we know of that involves wholesale electronic spying on Muslims.

To fear such civil liberty breaches from within so much that you ignore the very real effort of some to undermine and destroy our freedoms, then that is the greater risk to freedom.

The Islamo-Socialist Front

Two terrible regimes are getting together today as the Venezuelan vampire drops by to visit the Tehraniacs. No good will come of this.

McGovern: The Dems' Vietnam

Look at the Dem Prez hopefuls and you see candidates who are running on a platform that speaks to activist core of the part, with planks on peace, economic justice and social equality.

If that sounds mistily familiar, think back to McGovern, says poli-sci prof and author Bruce Miroff. He looks at today's situation through a lens of an ongoing McGovern shock to the Dems:

Republican political ascendancy since the Reagan presidency has centered on a few core—and clear—principles: limited government, the free market, a strong military, traditional values. The Democrats’ alternative public philosophy is far less distinct. For decades, their party had had trouble articulating what it cares about and what it believes. Republicans have been proud to call themselves conservatives. Democrats have not really wanted to call themselves anything in particular.

I argue in my recently published book, The Liberals’ Moment: The McGovern Insurgency and the Identity Crisis of the Democratic Party, that the McGovern campaign was the last time that a presidential nominee of the Democratic Party voiced a full-fledged public philosophy: liberalism. ...

But McGovern lost by a huge margin, crushed by a landslide in which forty-nine states voted for the incumbent, none other than Richard Nixon. ...

A legacy of the McGovern campaign was that it made Democrats lose confidence in their longstanding public philosophy even as Republicans were gaining confidence in their new one. The McGovern defeat can thus be seen as a profound trauma for contemporary Democrats, a political and psychic wound that has been covered over with layers of denial and defensiveness. (History News Network)

Miroff is, of course, right. Today's candidates all remember the McGovern debacle well, just as they remember the Reagan juggernaut. What they're forgetting is that there is a place in Dem-dom somewhere between the unrealistic positions of McGovern or Markos Moulitsas and the hard right positions of the Conservative revolution.

It may take another generation for the Dems to leave McGovern behind and find a new voice for the party -- a bit of New Deal, a bit of populism, a bit of progressivism (as in embracing change, not running from it as the Dems are today). Hillary is the embodiment of McGovernitis, with her unwillingness to take a position on anything, her searching for something safe and electable to believe in.

Not that this augers well for the GOP in 2008. The people are free to elect people who can't say what they believe in -- especially if the people don't know what they believe in either.

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