Saturday, February 14, 2009

Senator Moon?

Although my mind is not completely made up, (Ed.—messed up is more like it!) I have about decided to become a US Senator. They seem like a decent bunch of guys to work with and the benefits are pretty good. A lot of folks down here in Lawrence County seem to like me so I don’t think getting elected will be much of a problem. Heck, even my barber, who voted for Obama, thinks I’m a smart guy and you know how much influence they have. Some of the fellows who hang around down there offered to help me got elected; or at least I think that’s what they said. It had something to do with helping me get out of town. I also get along good with the folks in Verona that work for Tyson’s plucking chickens. I might have to get a Community Organizer in there for a while to help them get the right voting credentials.

One of the drawbacks is you have to live in Washington, DC. I know an apartment would be real expensive so I figure I’ll get one of those new expandable travel trailers and park it at one of the District’s many handy trailer parks. (Ed.—Heck, Jan's sister and brother-in-law, retired from the Department of Energy, live in McLean. They wouldn't mind if it was parked in their driveway.) Or maybe I can find one close to a golf course so I can keep my finger in the golf course pie. I part-time here at the links so I have a lot of the necessary experience. I can just hear it now: “Have you seen Cec, it’s time for that critical vote on that Aid to Impaired Expectorating Primates Act (SB-433) and we really need his input.” “No,” they’ll say, “but you can probable catch him at the trailer park or the golf course. He doesn’t answer the phone much so you’d better go in person but be careful, he doesn’t take well to strangers and he’s generally well armed.”

Some might think I’m not qualified because I’m not a lawyer although I have hired a couple in the past. I believe that will easily be overcome because I do understand how to cipher using really big numbers. Shoot, even the Speaker of the House, doesn’t know the difference between 500,000,000 and 500,000 and we all know that’s an important job. I’ll admit there are some numbers I don’t understand. I’ve got this neat book called the Constitution which claims that every state gets two Senators per. Then, the president comes along and claims there are fifty-seven states. That means that with 100 Senators, seven states are lacking the guys (or gals) to represent them. Check the math: 100 ÷ 57 = 1.7543859. Now, that’s just not right. See, I’ve already discovered a deficit.

Now, the missus won’t be able to come with me to Washington because someone has to stay home to watch the critters and look after “the place.” So, it might be pretty lonely there until I get a chance to make some friends. Some guy that had been there a while said there was a bunch of folks up on “K” street that turned in to good buddies in a real short time. You know, took ‘em to lunch, found ‘em cars, and generally “took care of ‘em.” It makes sense for me because I understand they know all about big numbers, too. I remember a guy I met once in Kansas City who claimed that if things got too bad and you really needed a friend in DC you could always get a dog. He was even a Senator for a while and then found advancement. He was there for several years and didn’t take his wife either. Maybe I should bring a dog from home.

Now I know that it takes money to get to be a Senator. I’ve got a lot of good ideas there and not all of them involve relatives like most of my schemes. I figure we’d raise a bunch if we took plates of Jan’s great fudge down and set up a table in front of Wal-Mart on Saturdays and sell it. We took some to Carr Oil Company before Christmas and the guys there in the shop thought it was the best they ever had. Oh, it’ll sell I tell you. I sure hope I don’t have to get a job to raise the money. I wouldn’t want to be a Senator if I wanted to do—you know—do actual work.

Now, I’ve got some time before this next election comes around so it’s probably silly to ask you to vote for me now. But keep it in mind until 2010 when I get the next shot at it. You might want to check with your neighbors and be sure they’re on board and maybe see if there’s anyone that’s ready for the obituaries that could help out. We sure don’t want to deprive anybody of their vote. If you need help in getting felonies expunged from some of your buddy’s records, just give me a call and I’ll help if I can. You know our motto: “They did the crime; they paid the time; and now they're mine.”

So, I guess this is what you would call my formal announcement for the job. Heck, I don’t even know what it pays and I’m still willing to try it. After watching some of these guys, I know it can’t be that tough. One thing that has me puzzled though is how they all start out as paupers and when they leave, they’re millionaires. They must be moonlighting on more than one job. I reckon I’ll soon find out. Remember: “Vote for the Moon and Reach the Stars.” I made that up. (Ed.—'Course, Hollywood types being what they are, he might have to turn left for that "star" stuff. Not sure he'd be willing to stomach that. )

In His abiding love,

Cecil Moon

Friday, February 13, 2009

A Picnic for Mugabe

It’s bad enough when you find yourself nearly helpless to stem the outrageous actions of our own “leadership.” It goes a step further on the frustration scale when you observe the cynical disregard of the citizens of a foreign land by their masters. Most recently in Zimbabwe, we find supporters of Mugabe ready to throw a birthday bash for him on the occasion of his upcoming birthday on February 21.

I happened across the proposed menu in a posting from Jammie Wearing Fool which you may find instructive: “The list includes 2,000 bottles of champagne (Moet and Chandon or ’61 Bollinger preferred,) 8,000 lobsters, 100 kg of prawns, 4,000 portions of caviar, 8,000 boxes of Ferrero Rocher chocolates, 3000 ducks; and much else besides.”

“A postscript adds: ‘no mealie meal’—the ground corn staple on which the vast majority of Zimbabweans survived until the country’s collapse rendered even that a luxury.”

Read the whole thing and join me in outrage. The situation there does lead me to understand the attitude which a righteous president might assume when informed of the human rights violations in another country. When reliably informed of the rape, murder, and torture of the citizens of Iraq, George Bush was horrified. When further advised by otherwise reliable intelligence officers of a threat to our nation by that same irresponsible despot, he took action. He, and members of the American military, were willing to commit lives, treasure and themselves to bringing a measure of freedom to that oppressed area. As mentioned before, Iraq is now safer than Chicago, commerce has resumed, and self-defense and governance is a reality.

I confess I have great difficulty understanding people who can tolerate the murder of our own citizens both by terrorists and medical procedures (abortion) who will protest to any length to protect a snail darter. I further question those who are willing to abide the plight of millions of starving Africans and devote their energy to defending the “rights” of known terrorists. Further; when provided with the hard evidence of the greatest governmental achievement know to mankind; they deliberately elect to destroy it. When surrounded with countless examples of the largess of a kind and loving God who has provided bounty and protection to us for well over two centuries continue to insult, defame, diminish His importance and even deny His existence. Is it any wonder that I wander about muttering to myself?

Is political power so important that we must bankrupt the nation, demonstrate cowardice to the world, and shun our duties as keepers of “the shining light on the hill?” It would seem that if you are in almost any sort of current high position, it is. Among the various governments of the world, we are the oldest continuous system and we act like petulant third graders. It seems as though we become more childish by the day. In my opinion, the blame rests squarely upon the shoulders of the electorate through their sloth, disinterest and laziness toward the maintenance of the republic. Each of us has a part in the continuance of this nation. If we continue to ignore our responsibilities—we shall lose it!

“But,” you plead, “I am just one lone voice and no one listens to me anyway.” If you do not speak it’s a cinch no one will listen. In the blogosphere, Zion Beckon’s readership is minuscule. Still, we pound the keyboard and assert what we see as the truth. It is a small thing but when “small things” are multiplied by millions, they become very large things. In a world driven by polls and focus groups, your collective voices matter. Here is a laundry list of little things which have the capacity to drive the politicos nuts.

Own, reference, and read the Constitution.

Stay in touch (write, phone, email) with your elected representatives.

Write letters to the editors of newspapers

Bring religion and political conversation back to the dinner table.

Study and understand issues.

Vote, but only with clear understanding.

Support, financially, that which you espouse.

Be a participant and not an observer.

Share your observations with others.

Be certain your own house is in order.

This will require work and possibly a change of life style. Is this nation worth it? I say yes! What is the alternative? Simply stated it boils down to the choice of the menu for Mugabe’s birthday or “mealie meal.” It is also the choice between our 7% unemployment vs. Zimbabwe’s 94%. Finally it’s the option of enjoying a full, rich life, or groveling for your very existence. Make your voice heard!

In His abiding love,

Cecil Moon

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Oscar Speaks

Obviously, I had some problems living in Las Vegas or I would not have sought the sanctity of the Ozarks for my new home. I tired of the “urban” experience, the “twenty-four hour” lifestyle, the grinding traffic, and the perpetual hype. Part of ageing is being less able to accommodate the constant subliminal affect of these irritations. Please note that my objections were more a criticism of city life than a specific rejection of Las Vegas.

Since 1950 I have had residence in twenty different states and at various times lived within the Washington, DC, Boston, New Orleans, Denver, Las Vegas, Milwaukee, and Nashville metropolitan areas. In addition, my work has also placed me frequently in Chicago, Los Angeles, Phoenix, Minneapolis-St Paul, Detroit, Kansas City and Atlanta. Each city has much to recommend it but they also share some drawbacks. For all the amenities which they offer, they are all dirty, noisy, crowded places which impose excessive restrictions on their citizens.

I thought enough of Las Vegas to live there twice (as I did Colorado and Missouri) and still have a certain affection for the town. I, like Mayor Oscar Goodman (D), was outraged at the remarks made by “the one” in an appearance in Elkhart, Indiana on the tenth. I found it totally inappropriate to single out any city in America to make a negative political point. We all share the same difficult situations in ways which are peculiar to our own individual life situations. If you live in Las Vegas and make beds for a living or serve food in the endless buffets, the declining tourist numbers are a vital factor in your life. The 14.2% decline in December visitors undoubtedly resulted in layoffs for those who could least afford it. Any sane person knows that cost cutting starts at the base of the power pyramid and not at the top. I didn’t say it made sense; I just said that’s the way it works.

He (BHO) also demonstrated serious ignorance of the city by using it as an example of extravagance and over consumption. Comparing it to the large metropolitan areas with which he has considerable familiarity, he would find better rooms, finer food, more entertainment and better service in Las Vegas than he could possibly hope for in Chicago or Washington, DC. He would also find he was treated, not as an inconvenient intruder, but as a welcome guest. Not incidentally, he would be in a far safer venue. Chicago and DC after all are in constant competition for the title of “Murder Capital of the US.” I believe that Chicago is now in the lead for the “honor.”

Blanket, ill-informed, assertions are rapidly becoming the hallmarks of this new administration in off-the-cuff remarks. The concept of the well-thought magic orator is disappearing faster than quarters into a Las Vegas slot machine.

A close friend who is familiar with my background in travel planning recently expressed a desire to visit Las Vegas with his family. His wife was concerned with the hype about constant sin and the affect it might have on the children. He was naturally worried over the possibility of the high cost. I was delighted to plan a trip (4000 words) with family friendly activities, low cost but very comfortable hotel accommodations, tips on wholesome yet inexpensive dining opportunities and ways to save on transportation. To his surprise, I also worked in some faith-based features to allow him and the family to keep everything in perspective.

It provoked a discussion of where sin resides. Separation from God is in your heart and mind and not identified by a geographical location. If you choose to be separate, you shall be. If you seek him, He is everywhere and available all the time. Sin is as readily available on a hilltop in the Ozarks as it is on the Las Vegas strip or Fremont Street. The only difference is that the struggle to maintain personal equilibrium is better lit there.

In His abiding love,

Cecil Moon

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Semantics or Deception?

I really wish I could remember where I found this. I would happily give them a hat tip or at least a thank you. I do believe they wanted it read and, at the least, the principal who brought it up is linked.

We live with this sort of thing on a daily basis and it is well worth your time for consideration. I keep thinking of the language which cloaks the motives of the leadership of segments of some very familiar church organizations I know. It’s probably healthy to rephrase in your own common language many of the proposals you encounter on a daily basis—especially on Sundays. Even a cynical restructuring of language might lead you to a better understanding.

Economist David Friedman has an excellent post on the power of political labeling to influence opinion:

“A well chosen name wins an argument by assuming its conclusion. Label cash subsidies to foreign government as "foreign aid" and who can be so hard hearted as to oppose them. Call subsidies to the public schools "aid to education" and you neatly skip over the question of whether additional spending in the public school system results in more education. Label something "pollution" and is no longer necessary to offer evidence that it is bad, since everyone knows pollution is bad—even thermal pollution, otherwise described as warm water. Occasionally we even get dueling names. Both "right to life" and "pro-choice" are obviously good things; how could anyone be against either?

For a more recent example, consider Obama's economic policy. Everyone—including Obama, back when he was running for President—is against deficit spending. Relabel it "stimulus" and everyone is for it. The label neatly evades the question of whether having the government borrow money and spend it is actually a way of getting out of a recession—a claim for which evidence is distinctly thin. It is stimulus, so obviously it must stimulate.

Friedman's list of rhetorical manipulations can easily be extended. For example, polls show that whether the public supports or opposes race-conscious policies that seek to aid minorities depends crucially on whether they are described as "affirmative action" (which gets strong majority support) or "racial preferences" (a term that triggers overwhelming opposition). Conservative activists use rhetorical ploys to build support for their positions no less than liberal ones do. In another example, they label critics of harsh sentencing guidelines as "soft on crime," even though the point at issue is precisely whether these laws really do reduce crime better than alternative policies would.

Why is such rhetorical manipulation effective? If voters were well-informed about the details of public policy, clever labeling would be unlikely to sway them. If you have a well-informed opinion about affirmative action or Obama's stimulus plan, you probably won't change your mind merely because of a change in terminology.”

In reality, however, most citizens know very little about politics and public policy, and it is perfectly "rational" behavior for them to remain largely ignorant. As a result, they can be swayed by rhetorical ploys such as the ones described by Friedman. That, in turn, explains why politicians and activists expend so much effort manipulating voter ignorance by cloaking their policies in attractive rhetoric, and making those labels stick in the public mind. Often, the side with the better rhetoric or more easily packaged programs will prevail over the side with the better, but more difficult to label policies.

Both the original poster and Friedman are essentially asking you to investigate all these propositions and not just accept the label as accurately descriptive. We have visited this before and will probably visit it again.

In His abiding love,

Cecil Moon

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

The First Hundred Minutes

It is my belief that BHO has discovered that campaigning and governing are not “a horse apiece.” Although the illustration may be an exaggeration, it’s possible that it is not that far from the truth. There have been some incidents which bear out an assertion which an old psychologist friend long claimed. Severe mental stress is often manifest in careless accidents, bumps, stumbles and other minor physical errors.

We have observed the failure to recognize the difference between a door and a window. The presidential head was banged against the entrance to Marine I and goodness knows what else went unreported. You yourself have probably found you dropped your car keys when influenced by stressful situations. We are all subject to this failing however; we are not all poised with our finger over the “Nuclear” button or ready to use the red telephone.

This picture depicts the cover of MAD magazine and is available for sale here. I assume they don’t mind me using the visual to plug the product.

I will admit, this has not been the easiest two weeks in presidential history. While some of the problems have been self-inflicted wounds, some of the rest had their foundation when he was a teenager. At least President George Bush had a few months of the traditional “honeymoon” before the towers fell in New York on 9/11.

Maybe things will smooth out as soon as this on-the-job training phase passes.

In His abiding love,

Cecil Moon

Monday, February 9, 2009

Monday Morning Rant 77

I was unable to attend services in Oklahoma this morning but I was definitely not consigned to second best. I thoroughly enjoyed Lee Parsons and his discussions of the requirements of and the results of baptism. He’s “fer” it but only when accompanied by repentance. He did allude to some sermons he remembered from his youth when his early preacher spoke to hell and the temperature noticeably increased in the hall. It sure sounded familiar to me. Let’s get to it.


Although I have to return over seventy years to remember it, that call still rings fresh in my ears as my grandfather, A.E. Frank used it to announce the presence of fresh “slop” at the hog trough. I can easily remember the pandemonium as the pigs each sought to be the first there to scarf up the choice bits. There was little that was delicate in their approach. They bit, jostled, shoved, and squealed as each sought his own advantage. It was, in fact, so dangerous to be close to that display of outright selfishness that he would never allow me to be in the pen when he fed them. Thinking back I see the wisdom of his actions.

I only have to look at today’s congress critters to see the same scene replayed. With little dignity and even fewer manners, they strive against each other like so many belted Hampshire hogs to come up with the best publicly financed projects which will ensure their re-election and with little other legitimate purpose. There motto has become: “Collegiality be damned, I want mine!”

Close examination of this latest spending bill, with near certain Senate approval, reveals the reality of 93% pork and 7% stimulus. The number, which varies according to which account you read, is now at about $827,000,000,000.00 or in realistic terms, $2506.06 for each and every man, woman and child in the United States. That means $10,024.42 for a family of four. Keep in mind that these figures are in addition to your regular taxes and do not include anticipated debt service. Any one who has a credit card which has escalated past normal repayable usage fully realizes the threat posed to one’s personal finances by excessive interest and fees. It is a recipe for disaster personally and certainly, nationally.

For a closer look at just what sort of “stimulus” (read that “pork”) is proposed I recommend you click on Stimulus Watch and see for yourself, by dollar, project, and state, each and every one. You will even have an opportunity to register your personal opinion of the validity of each one. Take a minute to understand the navigation of the site and then go ahead and make yourself sick to your stomach.

If it is not otherwise apparent; I’m agin it.

Bad News on Illegitimacy

I borrowed (?) this from Roger Clegg on NRO and submit it for your interest:

“As mentioned yesterday, the National Center for Health Statistics came out with its latest numbers yesterday (final data for 2006), and they aren't good. By population subgroup, the percentage of children born out of wedlock is 70.7 percent for non-Hispanic blacks, 64.6 percent for American Indians/Alaska Natives, 49.9 percent for Hispanics, 26.6 percent for non-Hispanic whites, and 16.5 percent for Asians/Pacific Islanders. Illegitimacy correlates with just about any social problem you can name (poverty, crime, dropping out of school, substance abuse, etc.), and it — not discrimination — is the principal cause of racial disparities in all these areas.”
And here I thought that birth control devices and abortions would cure all of this. It does little more than verify that the diminishing role of fatherhood in the American scene has an important result. Does an adverbial “drive-by” have more than a little significance here?

On a Very Similar Subject

Back in November, there was an article on Slate that bears some review. In general it deals with a health care provider who has assumed responsibility for approximately one third of the nation’s facilities. Their attitude toward the murder of the “un-born” is unequivocal and this piece will inform you of their stance:

“What in the world were these bishops talking about, claiming that religious freedom in America was under attack? Keep up the hysterics, boys, I thought as I scanned the latest story, and this will be birth control all over again: Your lips are moving but no one can hear you. And the most ludicrous line out of them, surely, was about how, under Obama, Catholic hospitals that provide obstetric and gynecological services might soon be forced to perform abortions or close their doors. Auxiliary Bishop Thomas Paprocki of Chicago warned of "devastating consequences" to the health care system, insisting Obama could force the closure of all Catholic hospitals in the country. That's a third of all hospitals, providing care in many neighborhoods that are not exactly otherwise overprovided for. It couldn't happen, could it?

You wouldn't think so. Only, I am increasingly convinced that it could. If the Freedom of Choice Act passes Congress, and that's a big if, Obama has promised to sign it the second it hits his desk. (Here he is at a Planned Parenthood Action Fund event in 2007, vowing, "The first thing I'd do as president is, is sign the Freedom of Choice Act. That's the first thing I'd do.") Though it's often referred to as a mere codification of Roe, FOCA, as currently drafted, actually goes well beyond that: According to the Senate sponsor of the bill, Barbara Boxer, in a statement on her Web site, FOCA would nullify all existing laws and regulations that limit abortion in any way, up to the time of fetal viability. Laws requiring parental notification and informed consent would be tossed out. While there is strenuous debate among legal experts on the matter, many believe the act would invalidate the freedom-of-conscience laws on the books in 46 states. These are the laws that allow Catholic hospitals and health providers that receive public funds through Medicaid and Medicare to opt out of performing abortions. Without public funds, these health centers couldn't stay open; if forced to do abortions, they would sooner close their doors. Even the prospect of selling the institutions to other providers wouldn't be an option, the bishops have said, because that would constitute "material cooperation with an intrinsic evil.'

The bishops are not bluffing when they say they'd turn out the lights rather than comply. Nor is Auxiliary Bishop Robert Hermann of St. Louis exaggerating, I don't think, in vowing that 'any one of us would consider it a privilege to die tomorrow—to die tomorrow—to bring about the end of abortion.'

Whatever your view on the legality and morality of abortion, there is another important question to be considered here: Could we even begin to reform our already overburdened health care system without these Catholic institutions? I don't see how.”

These guys wield a pretty big stick. Love ‘em or hate ‘em, they have paid the price over the history of the country to do their best to heal the sick and protect life. They also, as do many of us, have a commitment to the unborn and I do believe they mean it.

Of all the Roman Catholics I have known, both lay and clergy, and with whom I've had endless discussions, I have found a certain truth. There are particular subjects upon which they are intractable. This is one of them! In this case, I pray for them and their efforts to protect all of God’s children.

And finally

I really did think that I would be able to set aside my angst as the new president settled in. I was wrong! I had prayed that he would prove me just another nay-sayer. Now that I have had a chance to see “hope and change” in action, I have become more skeptical by the day.

Ever as I pray, I constantly remind myself that God does not always provide the answers I seek. He does it His way and in His time. As long as I keep in mind who the really important Boss is, the rest of it won’t matter. I think I need to settle back, relax, feed my birds, rub my dog’s ears, give my wife a little peck on the cheek, and rejoice over the gifts He provides daily. There will plenty of time to address the other issues tomorrow.

In His abiding love,

Cecil Moon