Monday, November 30, 2009

Almost Famous

As Americans took pause to give thanks last week, it's President Obama who should have been especially grateful that two aspiring reality stars turned out to be harmless, when they crashed the gates at his state dinner honoring the Prime Minister of India.

Tareq and Michaele Salahi put on their black dinner jacket and red sari and were shown grinning and waving to the cameras as they waltzed past several layers of security. They met the president,and posed for pictures with Joe Biden and Rahm Emanuel. They even boasted on Facebook that they had pulled the stunt off, making the U.S. Secret Service look like a bunch of buffoons.

Now, the president is calling for a full review, and the embarrassed director of the Secret Service is apologizing for the breach of security. What's especially funny is that many celebrities and politicos are speaking out saying they remembered the Salahi's and never once questioned if they should be there.

Perhaps now the president will realize that not everyone has a pure motive, and that bad people do exist. While the Salahi's were simply glory hogs, the breach could have been deadly had they have been terrorists. It's pretty scary to think that as we continue to try to upgrade our security across the country, one couple got through seven layers of security at the White House. If the president and his staff were in danger without a clue,what does that say about the safety of the rest of us? If anything, this stunt proves that political correctness has to be put aside when it comes to protecting the commander in chief, or any American citizen around the world.

While some are calling for the Salahis to be arrested, I think they should be hired by the government in spite of the ego-centricity involved in their stunt. They have proven that our security is lax, and they have proven that the president needs to change his attitude about those who want to hurt him or this country. Perhaps the couple could be used as spies and could infiltrate parties across the globe to garner secrets from enemy regimes. It's unlikely to happen though. Sadly, they probably couldn't get through the international security. I imagine that America is the only country in the world where fancy clothes are the only things needed to position yourself within striking distance of the politically correct king.

Friday, November 13, 2009

No God in the Heavens of Cincinnati

As someone who works in the Outdoor Advertising industry, I've been watching with interest the debate over a Cincinnati billboard that has an anti-God message on it. WCPO-TV reports that the billboard went up on Tuesday and reads: "Don't Believe In God? You are not alone." The group who bought the billboard, The United Coalition of Reason, said they put up the message to prove that bigotry toward atheism is real. Yesterday, the billboard was taken down and moved to another location because the person who owned the property where it had first been located had been receiving numerous threats of violence. The sign has now been reinstalled at a location that is owned by the advertising company.

What do you think? Is it appropriate for believers to call for violence against the landowner? No. He had nothing to do with the advertising company's sale, he just leased the ground that the billboard structure sits on. While the message is offensive to me and others who believe in God, the threat of violence is never an appropriate way to respond, and in fact is extremely anti-Christian. The Bible says that vengeance belongs to The Lord, and it's not up to Christians or anyone else to engage in vigilante justice.

Sadly, those who have threatened the landowner have now proved the point (at least in this instance) that The Coalition of Reason was trying to make. While I strongly disagree that atheists, agnostics and humanists are somehow being mistreated by society in general,the threats over the billboard have put them in the position of victim in Cincinnati, which will undoubtedly create sympathy for their cause.

The reality is that 70% of the American people claim to believe in God, and since there is still freedom of religion here, the atheists will have to learn to live among peaceful religious people. They don't however, have to accept violence against their belief system any more than we do. At the same time, one need only to turn on the evening news to see that the anti-God momvement is still alive and well, and is in fact championed by a huge part of our culture. The whole concept of political correctness has evolved from the belief system of those who have no faith. While it's ridiculous, people have lost their jobs, their positions and their prestige because they wore a cross on their lapel or wished a co-worker Merry Christmas. When the atheists face that kind of discrimination, perhaps more of us will be sympathetic to their plight.

The argument was made by The Coalition of Reason, that atheists, agnostics, and humanists are our neighbors, but so are Christians. Perhaps that means we will just have to accept each other and get along. While I stand at the front of the line of those who defend the power of billboards, I doubt that many conversions to any faith have occured because of a sign that went up for 30 days. I also doubt that the behavior of anyone will change because of one group's message.

Those who call themselves Christian, yet make threats of violence should be ashamed of themselves and should go back and read the Bible in which they claim to believe. God won't ordain your actions and either will Christians who have their heart in the right place. Likewise, those who feel bad for the atheists need to get a clue. They are not being persecuted. Even our president has defended their rights by claiming that America is no longer a Christian nation, but a melting pot of many different faiths. That would logically include those who don't believe in anything.

For now, the battle has been won for the atheists who call Cincinnati their home. The sign has been put back up. The perceived persecution is behind them, and life is once again good. Their message is out there and they are safe, happy and protected. They can enjoy their peace and know that things are ok. No worries. No misery. No God. They can forget about Him and those who believe, and they won't have to deal with the issue of His reality, at least not in this life.

***The opinions in this blog are strictly mine and do not reflect the opinions of the owners or employees of the advertising company that I work for.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Looking in the Nooks and Crannies for Jihad

The Associated Press reported yesterday that Major Nidal Malik, the accused shooter in the Fort Hood massacre, had ties to the same mosque attended by two of the 9/11 hijackers. Attackers Nawaf al-Hazmi and Hani Hanjour were attending Virginia's Dar al Hijarh Islamic Center, when Malik held his mother's funeral there. It's not known if Malik associated with Hazmi and Hanjour, but Fox News reports that the Islamic Center is known for preaching radical messages, and worries about Malik's radical beliefs had been previously brought up at Fort Hood.

US Senator Joe Lieberman, Chairman of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee is now calling for an investigation into the Fort Hood shootings to determine if they were a terrorist act. Liberman said that if Hasan was showing signs of being an extremist, the U.S. Army should have had zero tolerance and should have discharged him. You think?

The AP is also now reporting that Hasan's classmates in a 2007-08 masters program at a Texas military college had complained about his radical views, saying he had told fellow students that Islamic law was to be followed before the U.S. Constitution, and he reportedly arugued that suicide bombing is a justifiable act.

Why was Major Malik allowed to remain in the Army? Is our military so hard up for recruits that they tolerate these type of threats with no repercussions to those who made them? Thirteen people died and thirty others were injured and it's unbelievable that we have to question whether or not this was a terrorist act. Of course it was! There's an old military adage that says to defeat the enemy, you must know the enemy, and it would certainly seem that the best way to know the enemy is to become one of them. For Major Malik, the United State government was the enemy and he left plenty of warning signs that this shooting was going to happen.

While it's imperative that all religions be respected in America, it's equally imperative that we put absurd concepts like political correctness aside and investigate when people begin to threaten our security. Radical Islam or Jihad, calls for the extermination of Israel and its people and any person or group who supports them or their country. As a result, America belongs in the class of the hated. That fact alone gives us the right to investigate anyone who will be responsible for the security of our country, especially those who so openly attack our government as an element of expressing themselves. We also need to investigate any mosque that is rumoured to be preaching a message of hate.

No, all Muslims are not terrorists, but those familiar with the Koran will tell you that Jihad is a principle that is taught in its pages. We must be cautious without being paranoid about people who consistently threaten what we stand for, as it's not a violation of anyone's rights for a government to protect itself by acting in the best interest of its citizens.

One can only hope that Senator Lieberman will follow through and demand an extensive investigation into the Fort Hood shootings and the role that radical Islam played there. He should also investigate the potential that exists for this type of thing to happen elsewhere. In addition, every U.S. lawmaker should join Lieberman in his call for investiagation, putting their fears about the rights of others to rest.

Fanaticism is not limited to radical Islam, and we've seen the damage that fanatics have done in the past, even those like Timothy McVeigh, who were American born. Anyone has the potential to become a terrorist, especially if they are so vocal in their hatred of the country they claim to serve. It's time for us to wake up and take a closer look at everyone who chooses to reside on a U.S. military base, even before they move in. If we don't, it won't be long before another shooting incident will once again catch us offguard.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Looking to the Past to Move Forward to the Future

What a great day for New York! The Yankees have won the World Series for the first time since 2000, and The USS New York is now docked at Pier 88 awaiting her commissioning on Saturday.

The ship's bow is forged from the steel that was pulled from the wreckage of the World Trade Center, signifying the determination of the American people to rally from the greatest tragedy in our history. To further illustrate the ship's connection to the American spirit, Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal, appearing on Fox News This Morning, reminded viewers that it was built in his home state with 1200 workers staying behind after the area was evacuated in preparation for Hurricane Katrina. When the hurricane hit the shipyard in August 2005, the workers kept building, so the ship would be ready for this day. None of our enemies should doubt the fact that in spite of our problems, Americans will still shine in the face of adversity.

Saturday's formal commissioning of The USS New York will honor the memory of those who died on Sept. 11, and it will provide a tribute to those who survived the attacks. One of the most touching moments of the past few days occured when the ship's pilot brought it into harbor in remembrance of his brother who lost his life when the twin towers came down. The words of the ship's motto: "Strength forged through sacrifice. Never forget," further embody the spirit of the American soldier, firefighter, police officer, worker and family who lost so much that day, but remain steadfast in their hope for a brighter American future.

How sad that on this day of celebration and remembrance, President Obama continues to delay his decision about sending more troops into Afghanistan. How sad that as we celebrate our strength,he's sending the message to the world that America is indecisive, and defeatist. How sad that our Commander in Chief has so little respect for the country he serves and the military he leads. Our troops deserve better. The American people deserve more.

Hopefully today will be a wake up call for the president. Maybe, as he makes the inevitable congratulatory call to the Yankees for their World Series win, he'll make a supportive statement by sending in the troops that his military leaders have requested. Thousands of men and women stand ready to defend this country to the death, and it's just wrong that they are being left in limbo. This decision has been delayed long enough. This decision needs to be made NOW.

It's only appropriate that as New York and the rest of the country honor the American Spirit that is being displayed on the decks of The USS New York, the president should move forward to do the same. Those who came before him on the day the Trade Center was hit, didn't have the luxury to consider how their decisions would affect their political future. They had to react. They had to make split second decisions that would affect the safety and lives of every person in this country. They had to sacrifice. They had to show leadership.

Perhaps the president should look to those people as he continues to fumble around, and perhaps then he will realize that leadership means making the hard decisions even if some disagree. One can only hope that when and if he finally see the light, the president will also remember that it's America and not the rest of the world that he works for, and we expect him to do the right thing by moving forward.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

To Vote or Not To Vote - You Make the Call


10. You campaigned for Bill Clinton because he was a master saxophone player.

9. You campaigned for Bill Clinton in 2008. You knew he wasn't running then, but you just couldn't let go.

8. You only vote for good looking candidates which is why you've started the "Clooney in 2012" campaign.

7. You still can't name the president, vice president or even the mayor of your hometown, and frankly you don't care to know who they are.

6. You're a conspiracy theorist, and believe that if you cast a ballot the government will secretly monitor your vote, and will inject your children with mind controlling drugs if you don't vote "their" way.

5. You look to Hollywood for help in making all of your political decisions, and you get your news from "The View."

4. You think Sean Penn really did have a good purpose for touring Iraq, and you believe him when he says America is bad.

3. You think your vote doesn't matter so you stay home and complain about the state of the world to all who will listen. (and you believe you dodged a bullet in regards to those mind controlling drugs).

2. You don't think the economy is "that" bad, after all you can still live in your bomb shelter now that the bank has foreclosed on your home.

And the number one reason to "Not Vote" today:

You said to your spouse this morning: "What do you mean today's election day?"

For Everybody Else: See you at the polls!

Monday, November 2, 2009

Flying the "Not So Friendly" Skies

Southwest Airlines has apologized to Pamela Root for kicking her and toddler son Adam off a plane bound from Amarillo, Texas to San Jose, California last week. The problem began when the three year old started screaming "Go Plane Go!" and "I Want Daddy," while waiting for take off. When the child didn't calm down, the pilot taxied back up the runway, and the mother and child were removed from the flight. The 38-year old woman was livid over the incident saying she was stuck in Texas while her luggage went on to California where her angry husband was waiting. She had to buy a portable crib and diapers and was forced to spend another night at her parents house where she had been visiting. Root said she was confident that had the plane taken off, her son would have quieted down, and she demanded that Southwest compensate her for her ticket and things she had to buy, once back on Texas soil. In addition to apologizing, Southwest has refunded Root's ticket money and has given her a $300 voucher for another trip.

What do you think? Too much, or "Way To Go" Southwest? Kicking a woman and child off of an airplane is harsh, but one wonders why the mother didn't do more to calm the boy down once the situation began to escalate. The Oakland Tribune reports that Root said she planned to feed Adam once the plane took off, and while she knew that would make him cranky, she thought it would allow him to stay asleep longer, making things better for everyone in the long run. Perhaps when the child began his tantrum, Root should have scrapped that idea and moved quickly on to plan B.

Most people understand that babies and small children may not be the best travelers, and most are willing to tolerate a certain amount of crying and acting up on the part of said child. If a toddler goes into a screaming tantrum however, it's the responsibility of the parent to get the situation quickly under control. People are trying to work or rest on airplanes and no one wants to listen to an out of control kid for a couple of hours. The screaming child can also become a distraction for the flight crew as they try to provide safety instructions and service to other passengers.

As someone who loves kids, I think Southwest did go too far in kicking the mother and toddler off the plane. But, many parents, especially younger ones,seem to expect everyone else to suffer because they have a problem disciplining their child. I like many, have been inconvenienced and annoyed as I've sat on airplanes, in plays, meetings, church groups, etc. while a parent shrugs off a misbehaving toddler's disruption of the event as nothing more than a minor problem. Often, there is no attempt to correct the situation, and everyone has to sit idly by while it plays itself out. It often makes me think of my own childhood and the swat on the rear end I would have gotten had I have made such a spectacle of myself. Many parents seem to forget that they are responsible for getting their child under control, and if they can't do that, then perhaps they should not put the child into a situation where they will become that upset.

While Southwest did the right thing in apologizing to Ms. Root, she needs to remember that not everyone finds little Adam to be as precious as she does. Hopefully, she'll realize that tolerating a cranky baby for a few minutes is much different than expecting people to keep quiet while the baby has a melt down in Aisle 2. Perhaps in the future, she should consider driving back and forth to Texas, at least until Adam gets older and is easier to tolerate. While I'm sure everyone on the Southwest flight with the Roots would agree, I don't imagine the family will be taking my suggestion any time soon. If little Adam got so out of control that he had to be removed from the airplane, can you imagine what he'd be like trapped for several hours in the car? Maybe the solution for Adam is a nanny, so next time he can avoid the trip altogether and just stay home.