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Political Devotions - Conservative Alerts, News and Commentary
Friday, August 13, 2004
Takin' a Break

Your humble editor will be on vacation for most of next week. If you'd like to continue your ten-minute lobbying sessions during this period, check out the "Entries by Topic" section at the left of this page.

And for excellent coverage of numerous issues each day, see Stacy Harp's E-Involved site and E-Involved Blog. Stacy's sites should be on everyone's "must visit daily" list. Be sure to sign up for her newsletter, to receive alerts and info throughout the day.

Posted by Tim at 2:58 PM EDT
"Kerry on Iraq" - Pass it On
Topic: Election / Voting
[Important Notice: The PoliticalDevotions.com site has been redesigned and moved to TenMinuteLobbyist.com. The Political Devotions weblog will still be updated and archived, but for the most up-to-date version of site, please visit and bookmark TenMinuteLobbyist.com.]

(What are "political devotions"? Click here.)

The Republican National Committee has been doing a little documentary film making. They are out of contention for the Oscar, though, since their film is not leftist, and comprises actual facts.

Here's the alert from GOPTeamLeader.com:
Watch and Forward the Kerry Iraq Documentary

John Kerry's inconsistencies and contradictions on the central front in the War on Terror are the focus of a new 12-minute documentary -- and the Senator's own words completely refute the notion that he is a strong and decisive leader.

After you watch the video, email the link to the video to your family, your friends (even if they are Democrats) and encourage them to watch the documentary and send it to their lists. Lets make THIS the most watched documentary of 2004.
Visit KerryOnIraq.com to view and forward the video.

Posted by Tim at 2:57 PM EDT
Thursday, August 12, 2004
An American Hiroshima
Topic: Nuclear Terrorism
[Important Notice: The PoliticalDevotions.com site has been redesigned and moved to TenMinuteLobbyist.com. The Political Devotions weblog will still be updated and archived, but for the most up-to-date version of site, please visit and bookmark TenMinuteLobbyist.com.]

(What are "political devotions"? Click here.)

I hate to serve as the Prophet of Nuclear Doom again this week, but a Nicholas Kristof piece in today's New York Times brings up some crucial issues:
If a 10-kiloton nuclear weapon, a midget even smaller than the one that destroyed Hiroshima, exploded in Times Square, the fireball would reach tens of millions of degrees Fahrenheit.

It would vaporize or destroy the theater district, Madison Square Garden, the Empire State Building, Grand Central Terminal and Carnegie Hall (along with me and my building). The blast would partly destroy a much larger area, including the United Nations. On a weekday some 500,000 people would be killed.

Could this happen?

Unfortunately, it could - and many experts believe that such an attack, somewhere, is likely. The Aspen Strategy Group, a bipartisan assortment of policy mavens, focused on nuclear risks at its annual meeting here last week, and the consensus was twofold: the danger of nuclear terrorism is much greater than the public believes, and our government hasn't done nearly enough to reduce it.

Graham Allison, a Harvard professor whose terrifying new book, "Nuclear Terrorism," offers the example cited above, notes that he did not pluck it from thin air. He writes that on Oct. 11, 2001, exactly a month after 9/11, aides told President Bush that a C.I.A. source code-named Dragonfire had reported that Al Qaeda had obtained a 10-kiloton nuclear weapon and smuggled it into New York City.

The C.I.A. found the report plausible. The weapon had supposedly been stolen from Russia, which indeed has many 10-kiloton weapons. Russia is reported to have lost some of its nuclear materials, and Al Qaeda has mounted a determined effort to get or make such a weapon.
[Soon they'll have no problem getting one from Iran -- Ed.] And the C.I.A. had picked up Al Qaeda chatter about an "American Hiroshima."

President Bush dispatched nuclear experts to New York to search for the weapon and sent Dick Cheney and other officials out of town to ensure the continuity of government in case a weapon exploded in Washington instead. But to avoid panic, the White House told no one in New York City, not even Mayor Rudy Giuliani.

Dragonfire's report was wrong, but similar reports - that Al Qaeda has its hands on a nuclear weapon from the former Soviet Union - have regularly surfaced in the intelligence community, even though such a report has never been confirmed. We do know several troubling things: Al Qaeda negotiated for a $1.5 million purchase of uranium (apparently of South African origin) from a retired Sudanese cabinet minister; its envoys traveled repeatedly to Central Asia to buy weapons-grade nuclear materials; and Osama bin Laden's top deputy, Ayman al-Zawahiri, boasted, "We sent our people to Moscow, to Tashkent, to other Central Asian states, and they negotiated, and we purchased some suitcase [nuclear] bombs."

Professor Allison offers a standing bet at 51-to-49 odds that, barring radical new antiproliferation steps, a terrorist nuclear strike will occur somewhere in the world in the next 10 years.
So I took his bet. If there is no such nuclear attack by August 2014, he owes me $5.10. If there is an attack, I owe him $4.90.

I took the bet because I don't think the odds of nuclear terror are quite as great as he does. If I were guessing wildly, I would say a 20 percent risk over 10 years. In any case, if I lose the bet, then I'll probably be vaporized and won't have much use for money.

Unfortunately, plenty of smart people think I've made a bad bet. William Perry, the former secretary of defense, says there is an even chance of a nuclear terror strike within this decade - that is, in the next six years.

"We're racing toward unprecedented catastrophe," Mr. Perry warns. "This is preventable, but we're not doing the things that could prevent it."
In his closing paragraph, Kristof drags out the tired "Iraq is a distraction" argument and blames the Bush administration for ignoring the nuclear proliferation threat. The accusation is unfair. The nature of nuclear threats is such that we would not necessarily know of all steps taken to thwart them. It is obvious more should be done, but it is Democrat leaders who are preventing that.

Imagine the political hay Democrat strategists would make over a pre-election preemptive strike against Iran's nuclear installations. President Bush probably is aware he should mount such a strike now, but he knows it is too politically dangerous. His actions could leave the country in the hands of a President Kerry, who would spend his days in sackcloth and ashes apologizing to Iran, France, Germany and the rest of the "international community" for this dreadful US "war crime." And the nuclear terror attack would come.

Nevertheless, Kristof's threat assessment quotes and data are correct. In fact, he understates the threat by focusing on an American Hiroshima, involving a weapon of only 10 kilotons. During the Cold War, the Soviets fabricated 20,000 nuclear warheads, many in the multi-megaton class, capable of destroying entire regions of the US. Do we know where all of those are?

We conservatives would do well to keep up our ten minute lobbying against the threat of barbarians with nuclear weapons. And hope that God still has some use for our country.

For more information, see "Nuclear Terrorism" under "Entries by Topic" at at the left of this page.

Posted by Tim at 3:18 PM EDT
Updated: Friday, August 13, 2004 3:20 PM EDT
Wednesday, August 11, 2004
Suicide by Stupidity: Mid Eastern Illegals Routinely Released
Topic: Homeland Security
[Important Notice: The PoliticalDevotions.com site has been redesigned and moved to TenMinuteLobbyist.com. The Political Devotions weblog will still be updated and archived, but for the most up-to-date version of site, please visit and bookmark TenMinuteLobbyist.com.]

(What are "political devotions"? Click here.)

Human Events Online reports on the Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement's shocking policy of releasing captured Middle Eastern illegal aliens into the US population. The policy is outrageous, but what is more outrageous is that ICE officials vigorously defend it:
No Extra Scrutiny for Middle Eastern Illegals at Mexico Border

by Joseph A. D'Agostino
Posted Aug 9, 2004

U.S. government policy requires that young Middle Eastern men who are caught crossing illegally into the United States from Mexico be treated the same as illegal aliens from elsewhere in the world--meaning that if they don't have criminal records, don't appear on government watch lists and are not deemed to be suspicious by the federal law enforcement officers who interview them, they most likely will be released into the U.S. population.

All 19 of the Sept. 11, 2001, hijackers were young men from Saudi Arabia and Egypt. None of them had criminal records, not all were on watch lists, and few apparently raised significant suspicions among American border or visa authorities.

"The law does not differentiate based on nationality. So enforcement does not differ based on nationality," says Reed Little, Detention and Enforcement Officer for the Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). He added that ICE officials must justify their actions before immigration judges.

Asked if a 25-year-old man from Saudi Arabia would be treated at all differently from other illegal aliens coming across the Mexican border, ICE spokesman Manny Van Pelt said, "No."

Van Pelt said the government's general practice is to release apprehended aliens into the United States without requiring bond pending their deportation hearing, unless they have criminal records, are flagged in a government database as a potential threat, or their interviews with agents reveal a potential threat. "It's just a matter of interviewing them and running their names through the database. . . ," he said. "If everything is clean, he will be issued a Notice to Appear." That requires the illegal alien to appear in court at a later date, he said. Illegal aliens deemed to be a threat or who have criminal records are detained until their hearings.

Van Pelt and Little said there is no justification for singling out people from the Middle East and cited Richard Reid, an Englishman who tried to detonate his shoe on an airliner, as an example of a terrorist threat from another part of the world. "There have been people suspected and accused of being Irish terrorists," Van Pelt noted. Also, said Little, immigration agents have to justify their actions with evidence before judges. "We have to be able to inform the immigration judge why we are holding a person," he said.
[How `bout because he broke the law by entering the country illegally?! -- Ed.] "'He's a young man from a Middle Eastern country' doesn't sound very good."

In just the McAllen, Tex., sector of the Southern border, 19,460 nationals other than Mexicans (OTMs) were apprehended between Oct. 1, 2003, and July 28, 2004, according to a local Border Patrol spokesman. One of those was Farida Ahmed, a Muslim woman with a South African passport on her way to New York. She was detained at McAllen International Airport by astute Border Patrol agents on July 19. She is charged with entering the country illegally, possessing an altered passport, and lying to investigators.

ICE does not keep central statistics on OTMs apprehended crossing the Southern border. . . .
One wonders whether these immigration bureaucrats would enforce ethnic profiling, even if it were codified into the law. A serious housecleaning at the Bureau would probably have to follow the law's passage. Use the Ten Minute Lobbyist's Basic Contact Links to send this Human Events piece to your elected officials, and demand a sane policy of ethnic and religious profiling be integrated into border enforcement laws.

For what its worth, you can also contact Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge here, and let him know your opinion of his officials' belief that there is "no justification" for holding Mid Eastern illegals.

Posted by Tim at 2:50 PM EDT
Tuesday, August 10, 2004
Protect Religious Freedom of Speech With H.R. 235
Topic: Legislation

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(What are "political devotions"? Click here.)

With the advent of leftist spies in our church pews, and with so few legislative days left for the 108th Congress, the time to pass HR 235, The Houses of Worship Free Speech Restoration Act, is at hand. Here is the Family Research Council's analysis of the bill:
Policy Goal:

To provide the full range of protection intended by the First Amendment to houses of worship by eliminating government entanglement in micromanaging the political speech of houses of worship.

Purpose:

The Houses of Worship Free Speech Restoration Act, introduced in the House of Representatives, would permit houses of worship to engage in the full range of political speech to the same extent that is currently permitted them for issue advocacy and lobbying without compromising the organization's tax exempt status.

Analysis:

The First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution says, "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances."

When Congress was debating the Revenue Act of 1954, then-Senator Lyndon Johnson sponsored a floor amendment that banned Section 501(c)(3) organizations from engaging in political activities. This became law and is the reason 501(c)(3) organizations are absolutely banned from engaging in political campaigning or endorsing candidates, including speaking out on the moral qualifications of a particular candidate for office.

Johnson apparently proposed this amendment to counteract a nonprofit organization that opposed his candidacy for senator. The law swept up houses of worship with other nonprofits. Neither Johnson, the IRS, nor the Supreme Court has ever asserted that the prohibition is required by the Establishment Clause, nor is there any legal precedent that does so. It is FRC's position that this law is in direct violation of the First Amendment.

The Houses of Worship Free Speech Restoration Act would remove government entanglement in reviewing churches' political speech and reduce the burden on the free exercise and free speech rights of houses of worship. It will give back to churches what was unjustly taken from them 50 years ago: the freedom to speak however they feel led to speak, whether the issue is construed as political or not.

Today, religious leaders do not have the freedom to educate their congregations on the issues, and empower them to make a informed decisions. If The Houses of Worship Free Speech Restoration Act is passed, religious leaders' First Amendment rights would be restored.
They would then be able to engage in lobbying, including issue advocacy, influence legislation, speak out on moral and political issues, take part in political campaigns and endorse candidates, so long as these activities do not constitute a "substantial part" of the organization's activities.
You can read Paul M. Weyrich's informative op-ed on this bill here.

Use the Ten Minute Lobbyist's Basic Contact Links to ask your congressional Representative to co-sponsor and fight for passage of this important legislation.

Posted by Tim at 3:00 PM EDT
Updated: Tuesday, August 10, 2004 3:05 PM EDT
Monday, August 9, 2004
Mineta Must Go
Topic: Homeland Security
[Important Notice: The PoliticalDevotions.com site has been redesigned and moved to TenMinuteLobbyist.com. The Political Devotions weblog will still be updated and archived, but for the most up-to-date version of site, please visit and bookmark TenMinuteLobbyist.com. Thanks! -- Ed.]

(What are "political devotions"? Click here.)

In today's column for the New York Post, Michelle Malkin summarizes the case for firing our dangerous transportation secretary:
August 9, 2004 -- FEW government officials have invited more scorn than Transportation Secretary Norm Mineta. It's long past time for the Bush administration to send him out to pasture.

And it is time for America to purge itself of the addled, anti-profiling mindset of Mineta. He has turned his personal World War II experience into an excuse to do nothing to fight our enemies today.

After 19 Islamist foreign hijackers murdered 3,000 people on American soil, Mineta quickly declared that any profiling taking into account race, ethnicity, religion or nationality would be forbidden in airport security. When 60 Minutes correspondent Steve Croft asked Mineta whether he could envision any circumstance where it would make sense to use racial and ethnic profiling, he responded, "Absolutely not."

Croft followed up: "If you saw three young Arab men sitting, kneeling, praying, before they boarded a flight, getting on, talking to each other in Arabic, getting on the plane, no reason to stop and ask them any questions?" Mineta remained obstinate: No.

Since that interview, Mineta has shaken down airlines for engaging in profiling and continues to lean on the industry to prevent cautious flight crews from applying heightened scrutiny to any and all Arab/Muslim passengers. United Airlines, American Airlines and Continental Airlines have all been forced to settle discrimination cases with the Department of Transportation for a combined $3.5 million. . . .

We cannot win the war on Muslim terrorists as long as we keep learning the wrong lessons of World War II. Mineta is the wrong man at the wrong time in the wrong place. He seeks penance for the past by handcuffing the nation's defenders of the present. To defeat the Islamists, America needs dry-eyed leaders who refuse to be sorry for putting homeland security over hurt feelings.
Use the Ten Minute Lobbyist's Basic Contact Links to ask President Bush to remove Mineta, before another 9-11 makes it obvious that he should have done so.

And for more on transportation security lunacy, read Heather Mac Donald's August 5th piece for the Wall Street Journal Our Own Worst Enemy.

Posted by Tim at 2:05 PM EDT
Updated: Monday, August 9, 2004 4:27 PM EDT
Friday, August 6, 2004
North Korea: Preemption or Destruction?
Topic: Nuclear Terrorism
(What are "political devotions"? Click here.)
U.S.: North Korea Works on New Missiles

Thursday August 5, 2004 11:46 PM

WASHINGTON (AP) - The United States has determined that North Korea is working on new ballistic missile systems designed to deliver nuclear warheads and that it is testing the technology by proxy in Iran, a Bush administration official said Thursday.

Having agreed to a self-imposed test ban, North Korea is sharing technology information with Iran, which carries out missile tests on North Korea's behalf, the administration official said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

The missile program is based on Russian technology and has been conducted with help from Russian scientists - help the United States thinks may be continuing, the official said.

A leading military publication, Jane's Defense Week, reported recently that North Korea was developing two new ballistic missile systems that ``appreciably expand the ballistic-missile threat.''

A version of the missile capable of being launched from a submarine or a ship is potentially the most threatening, the weekly said.
Victor Davis Hanson has noted that in war a nation is generally faced with a choice between a bad option and a worse option. North Korea is the paradigm for this aphorism.

In a brilliant October 2003 essay, Gabriel Schoenfeld observed that "If Pakistan is a stick of dynamite, North Korea is a stick of dynamite with a lit fuse."

Today the instant question is: does the US have the political will to extinguish that fuse?

The CIA estimates Kim Jong Il now has enough plutonium for one or two nuclear weapons. If his nuclear ambitions remain unchecked, North Korea will soon produce dozens of nukes annually. It currently boasts a missile capable of hitting the US West Coast and is developing missiles capable of reaching any US city. Yet, even if its psychopath dictator in fear of massive retaliation refrains from attacking the US, he likely will open a clandestine Nukes "R" Us outlet and sell to any rogue state or terrorist group.

Attempts at diplomacy and appeasement (most notably the Jimmy Carter-brokered Yongbyon Agreed Framework) have proved predictably disastrous. In October Schoenfeld observed that it would be "something of a miracle" if the six-nation negotiations succeeded, and recent developments confirm his prescience.

So, what to do? It is clear preemption, or at a minimum pervasive inspections under the credible threat of preemption, are the only reasonable strategies. Yet a preemptive strike against North Korean nuclear facilities would not be pretty.

In 1981 the Israelis destroyed Iraq's Osirak reactor before it "went critical," killing only one person and creating no radioactive contamination. North Korean facilities, however, contain radioactive elements that would create some level of contamination when attacked. Moreover, some facilities are concealed deep inside mountains, making them difficult to destroy from the air with conventional munitions. And any attack would of course encompass only known facilities.

The US would certainly prevail in any resulting hostilities, but the price of extinguishing the "lit fuse" on North Korea would be extremely high. The price of allowing the fuse to burn to detonation would, however, be inestimably higher. As President Bush noted in a June 2002 address at West Point, the US
. . . can no longer solely rely on a reactive posture as we have in the past. The inability to deter a potential attacker, the immediacy of today's threats, and the magnitude of the potential harm that could be caused by our adversaries' choice of weapons, do not permit that option. We cannot let our enemies strike first.
In Romans 14, the Apostle Paul reminds Christians that we will one day "give an account" of our lives before God's judgment seat. I expect believers alive today will be asked the following question:
In the early 21st Century, when communists and Islamists joined forces in a [successful?] attempt to destroy Western civilization with nuclear weapons, what did you do to stop them?
Personally, I'd like to be able to give a good answer.

Our leaders will take bold action only if they are sure the electorate supports it. Use the Ten Minute Lobbyist's Basic Contact Links to inform President Bush, your Representative and Senators of your support for a preemptive strike against North Korean nuclear facilities, should the regime continue to reject demands for complete, verifiable and irreversible dismantling of its nuclear weapons programs.

Posted by Tim at 1:15 PM EDT
Updated: Friday, August 6, 2004 1:47 PM EDT
Same Mission, New Name

Keen-eyed observers will have, in the past couple of days, noted the presence of a link to The Ten Minute Lobbyist on the PolicticalDevotions.com navigation list. This new site will eventually replace the PoliticalDevotions.com site. The concept and content will remain basically the same. The difference will be a more descriptive site name and URL (TenMinuteLobbyist.com) and (hopefully) a better looking, more useful site. Stay tuned for more details.

Posted by Tim at 1:04 PM EDT
Thursday, August 5, 2004
Political Correctness Trumps Passenger Safety
Topic: Homeland Security
(What are "political devotions"? Click here.)

Today the Washington Times editorializes on Department of Transportation political correctness placing the traveling public -- not to mention citizens in targeted buildings -- in jeopardy:
There does not appear to be a formal quota system in place for screening passengers. But a considerable body of evidence suggests that, beginning in the Clinton years and continuing after September 11, something no less troubling has taken hold: a mindset and series of practices that discourage the use of common sense in deciding who should be permitted to board a plane.

Much of this is outlined in the remarkable testimony delivered June 24 before the Senate Appropriations Committee by Michael Smerconish, an attorney and radio talk show host from Philadelphia. Mr. Smerconish recounted a discussion he had with Herb Kelleher, founder and chairman of Southwest Airlines, in which Mr. Kelleher said that random screening (the silliness which often subjects small children and elderly passengers to added security scrutiny, known as secondary screening) was instituted by the Clinton Justice Department, which was concerned about equality of treatment.

DOT stated earlier this year that "secondary screening of passengers is random or behavior based. It is not now, nor has it ever been based on ethnicity, religion or appearance." This raises an interesting question for Mr. Mineta: Given the reality that the September 11 hijackers had ethnicity, religion and appearance in common, does it make sense to ban any consideration of these factors in deciding who may board a plane?

Regarding the existence of an arbitrary limit on the number of passengers subject to extra screening, Edmond Soliday, United Airlines' former vice president for security, told the September 11 commission that one Justice Department official informed him that "if I had more than three people of the same ethnic origin in line for additional screening, our system would be shut down as discriminatory." Was Mr. Soliday making this up?

In his Senate testimony, Mr. Smerconish raised legitimate questions about DOT's decision to levy a $1.5 fine against American Airlines -- which lost 17 of its personnel on September 11 -- for refusing to allow an American of Arab background to board a flight to Los Angeles at Logan Airport in Boston on Nov. 3, 2001. (The man was acting suspiciously, and his name was similar to one on a terrorism watch list, among other things.)
The editorial closes with an invitation to Mineta to respond to Smerconish's legitimate questions, and explain "why he apparently takes such a dogmatic position against a limited, common-sense use of ethnic profiling at the airport -- now very much a part of the modern battlefield."

You can extend that invitation to Mineta yourself, at the DOT's contact page, and use our Take Action page to copy your Representative, Senators, and President Bush.

For more links, see AIRPORT INSECURITY at Michelle Malkin's weblog.

Posted by Tim at 12:44 PM EDT
Updated: Thursday, August 5, 2004 1:25 PM EDT
Wednesday, August 4, 2004
A 370 Billion Dollar Scandal
Topic: Education Monopoly
(What are "political devotions"? Click here.)

A recent Wall Street Journal editorial offered some damning stats on the state of public education:
What Money Can't Buy
Education spending goes up, performance doesn't.

Friday, July 30, 2004 12:01 a.m.

Reg Weaver, President of the National Education Association, took to the podium in Boston this week to say that John Kerry was his man. And why not? Nearly one in 10 of the delegates to this week's Democratic convention belongs to a teachers union.

Mr. Kerry had canceled his appearance at the NEA's own convention at the last minute earlier this month, only to scramble and address it by satellite the next day after Mr. Weaver protested. The little scheduling snafu notwithstanding, if you're a teachers union leader, what's not to like in a candidate who has called for "fully funding education, no questions asked?"

We would have thought that calling for the feds to throw tax dollars at a problem with "no questions asked" was a little much, even for a Senator from Massachusetts. But the call for more spending looks all the more unthinking in the light of a study just-released by the Nelson A. Rockefeller Institute of Government.

Though it zeroes in on local rather than state spending, the most obvious point underscored by "K-12 Education: Still Growing Strongly" is that whatever the problem with education, it's not caused by any unwillingness to throw more money at it. Between 1997 and 2002, state and local governments increased K-12 spending by 39%. Even after adjusting for inflation and growth in pupil enrollment, real spending was up nearly 17%. And it went up in every state, even those with strict tax and spending limits.

So what did we get in return? The Rockefeller study didn't say, so we decided to look at test scores for reading because there's probably no skill more fundamental to life-long learning. When we cross-referenced spending increases with the National Assessment of Educational Progress reading scores, we found virtually no link between spending and performance.

The table here tells the story. The states are ranked in order of their real, K-12 education spending increases from 1997-2002. Next to each state we list whether performance on the NAEP reading tests rose, fell or remained largely the same from 1998-2003--the period when the spending benefits should have kicked in. It's not as if the states were starting from a high base, either: According to these same tests, fewer than a third of fourth- graders are proficient in reading, math, science or American history.

The results are a direct refutation of the We Need More Spending chorus. . . .

The real problem is that, notwithstanding the $370 billion the states spend each year on K-12 public education, it remains a rare American monopoly. This election year we are going to hear candidates calling for all manner of new education spending. The question so few of them--Republicans included--are addressing is this: Is there any other part of American life that would receive tens of billions of more dollars if it kept showing no improvement in performance?
Use this link to find your state's home page, where you can contact your governor and legislators to lobby for school privatization, vouchers and homeschool-friendly laws. And be sure to visit GetTheKidsOut.org for information on alternatives to the government school gulag.

Posted by Tim at 12:19 PM EDT
Updated: Wednesday, August 4, 2004 1:53 PM EDT
Tuesday, August 3, 2004
FCC Wants to Hear From You
Topic: Cultural Civil War
(What are "political devotions"? Click here.)

Focus on the Family's CitizenLink reports:
FCC Seeks Violence Comments

Government regulators want to know what you think about violent television programs. They claim your answer could influence policy.

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC), the government agency charged with regulating the broadcast airwaves, wants to hear what you have to say about the impact of violent television on your kids.

Your comments may influence decision-making and government action.

Specifically, the FCC is calling for comments from parents across America concerned about the impact of excessively violent broadcast television programming on children -- parents like Natalie Mead, who says her house has strict TV rules.

"I don't want my kids to be thinking violent thoughts, or to be . . . seeing those images in their heads and so I don't want them to watch violence," Mead said.

The FCC action came only after a directive from members of Congress, according to Steve Isaac, online editor of Plugged In magazine.

"Here we have an opportunity, an extended invitation, from the FCC: 'We want to know what you think about violence on TV,' " he said. "So, we have to take advantage of that."

Popular shows such as Fox's "24" and CBS' "CSI" push the envelope of violent programming, while the FCC looks the other way, Isaac added.

Lara Mahaney, a spokeswoman for the Parents Television Council, said the call represents "the first time they've really started to take a look at" TV violence.

"They ask the questions: 'Is it harmful to kids?' 'What's its effect?' Well, there've been over a thousand studies that said that there's a causal connection," she said.

She said public outcry is exactly what it will take to rein in excessive violence on broadcast TV.
The generic pronouncement against "violence" by pro-family groups is facile. There is, of course, righteous Lone-Ranger-vanquishes-the-bad-guys type violence that is actually healthy for children to see. But this gesture from the FCC does present a good opportunity, one conservatives should seize.

The article includes links to the FCC "Notice of Inquiry" and a CapWiz form you can use to send with one click the same message to all the FCC commissioners.

Posted by Tim at 1:46 PM EDT
Monday, August 2, 2004
Barbarians With Nuclear Weapons, Part 12
Topic: Nuclear Terrorism
(What are "political devotions"? Click here.)

The Mad Mullahs' Manhattan project marches on. There were two pieces of not-so-great news this weekend. From Friday:
Iran Said Insisting on Enriching Uranium

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Iran, intensifying a standoff over its nuclear programs, has told European officials it will not back down on its right to proceed with uranium enrichment, a senior U.S. official said on Friday.

"The British and the French tell us Iran insists it will not back down on its right to proceed with enrichment," the official, speaking on condition of anonymity, told Reuters.

During a meeting in Paris on Thursday that included Germany, the three European delegations responded that halting uranium enrichment was fundamental to a deal negotiated with Tehran last October, the U.S. official said.

The Europeans added that "nothing else was coming if Iran didn't get back on the road to suspension, leading to cessation of enrichment and reprocessing," the American said.
And from Saturday:
Iran Says it Resumes Building Nuclear Centrifuges

TEHRAN (Reuters) - Iran said Saturday it had resumed building nuclear centrifuges, which Washington says are intended to enrich uranium to weapons-grade for use in bombs.

Iran's decision backtracks from a pledge in October to the European Union's "big three" members -- Britain, France and Germany -- to suspend all uranium enrichment-related activities.

"We have started building centrifuges," Foreign Minister Kamal Kharrazi told a news conference.

However he insisted Iran had not resumed enriching uranium, the key part of the process which can either produce fuel for power stations or bomb material.

Iran had previously said it would restart making centrifuges to retaliate against a resolution from the U.N. nuclear watchdog last month deploring Tehran's failure to co-operate fully with inspectors from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).

Diplomats say Iran has also restarted work at a uranium conversion facility near the central city of Isfahan. The plant turns processed ore, or yellowcake, into uranium hexafluoride gas which is pumped into centrifuges to form enriched uranium.
On Sunday Islamist murderbots attacked churches in Iraq and killed 11 Christians. They would like to kill 111 million Christians in the US, of course. They just lack the means to do so. For now.

And what would John Kerry do about this? Well, according to his convention speech: "Any attack will be met with a swift and certain response." After we're nuked, he will certainly do . . . uh . . . something.

As concerned citizens, our two major short-term objectives should be as follows: 1) George W. Bush's re-election. 2) Assuring President Bush that there is popular support for an attack on Iran's nuclear installations, by either the US or Israel, even prior to the election if necessary.

How do we create this popular support? By publicizing the danger, and the solution. On July 12th prominent Evangelicals staged "Marriage Protection Sunday." This was an important effort, but let's get our priorities straight. What we really need is a "Protection From Iranian Nuclear Attack Sunday," lest our same-sex marriages occur amongst the nuclear rubble of a dozen US cities.

Once again: Anyone, including a rogue state or a terrorist network, can win a war if they possess nuclear weapons and are willing to strike first. If we fail in our efforts to prevent such a strike, there will be no second chance.

Certainly such a grave threat warrants at least one communication to your elected officials each week. You can express your support for the attack to president Bush at the White House Contact Page, and use our Take Action page to copy your Representative and Senators.

Posted by Tim at 2:43 AM EDT
Updated: Friday, August 6, 2004 10:57 AM EDT
Friday, July 30, 2004
What You Can Do
Topic: Election / Voting
(What are "political devotions"? Click here.)

Been wondering what you can do to keep Dubya in the White House and avert the disaster of a Kerry-Edwards administration? Check out the Republican National Committee's GOPTeamLeader.com:

GOPTeamLeader.com is an online toolbox for Republican activists.

It is personalized and local.

GOPTeamLeader gives you the power to quickly voice your opinions and influence your Representatives.

Once you become a Leader, you can use GOPTeamLeader.com to:

  • Learn about and help fellow Republicans running for office in your state, as well as on a federal level;

  • Track and research local and federal issues and bills of interest to you;

  • Write your local and federal representatives, while accessing official RNC talking points from GOPTeamLeader.com;

  • Collect GOPoints by completing Action Items and redeem them for collateral of your choice, ranging from leather PDA covers to folding chairs.

  • Encourage participation in the political process by building your own Team of activists who you can share information with.
Okay, the GOPoints thing is a little corny. Sort of reminds me of the old "Win this bike by selling our seeds!" pitches I used to get in the mail as a kid. Nevertheless, this is a nice networking strategy. And since, like a good Political Devotions devotee, you are already lobbying your elected officials, why not earn a cool tote bag while you're saving Western civilization?

Posted by Tim at 2:00 PM EDT
Thursday, July 29, 2004
Welcoming Terror
Topic: Homeland Security
(What are "political devotions"? Click here.)

For those of you who don't already know, Michelle Malkin now publishes a weblog, and a fine one it is. Today she has truly shocking coverage on the scandalous neglect of our southern border: TERRORISTS DON'T STOP AT THE RIO GRANDE.

And for your edification and action, here's a rerun of a March 2004 Political Devotions entry on the same subject:

Open Borders in a Time of Terror

"There's no relationship between immigration and terrorism."

- Spokeswoman for the National Council of La Raza.

"I don't think the events [of 9/11] can be attributed to the failure of our immigation laws."

- Head of the immigration lawyers' guild, one week after the attacks.

When Islamic terrorists finally achieve their dream and detonate ten nuclear devices in ten US cities, the "Cause of Death" entry on America's death certificate should read: "Stupidity, complicated by shortsightedness and apathy."

Okay, maybe that's a little harsh. But there is no question the nation is in grave danger, and in his essay Keeping Terror Out: Immigration Policy and Asymmetric Warfare, Mark Krikorian, Executive Director of the Center for Immigration Studies, tells us why the phrase "Home Front" is no longer a metaphor.

Some key points:

The enemy has penetrated nearly every element of the US immigration system by exploiting its weaknesses.

A normal level of visa scrutiny would have excluded almost all the 9/11 highjackers from entry into the US.

Every major Al-Qaeda attack or conspiracy in the US has involved at least one terrorist who violated immigration law.

Immigration control is to asymmetric warfare what missile defense is to strategic warfare, yet our immigration response to 9/11 has been piecemeal and poorly coordinated.

There is a sense that Justice and Homeland Security department bureaucrats are searching for ways to "tighten up immigration controls that will not alienate one or another of a bevy of special interest groups."

A strategic assessment of what an effective immigration-control system would look like is needed.

The most important flaw in the "visa filter" is that the State Department, with its corporate culture of diplomacy and currying favor with foreign governments, remains in charge of issuing visas.

Most illegal alien terrorists were visa "overstayers," yet the INS's statistics division declared it could no longer estimate the number of people who have overstayed their visas.

There is continued resistance to using the military to back up the Border Patrol, even though controlling the Mexican border is an important security objective.

Because of lack of space, most aliens in deportation proceedings are not detained. They receive a "run letter" instructing them to appear for deportation. To no one's surprise, 94% of aliens from terrorist-sponsoring states disappear instead.

Outrageous "sanctuary" policies instituted by cites across the country prohibit city employees, including police, from reporting immigration violations to federal authorities or even inquiring as to a suspect's immigration status.

Enforcement of the 1986 prohibition against hiring illegal aliens has all but stopped.

"There is a general sense among many political leaders that enforcing the immigration law is futile and, in any case, would displease important constituencies."

Finally, Krikorian observes what ought to be obvious to all parties involved: "If our immigration system is so lax that it can be penetrated by a Mexican busboy, it can also be penetrated by an Al-Qaeda terrorist."

You can read the essay in PDF format here.

In an approach that is not only irresponsible but incredibly foolish and impractical, elected officials and government bureaucrats have persisted in avoiding actions necessary to secure our borders, in favor of their short-term goal of pleasing special interest constituencies. You would think they might at least have the common sense to recognize that nuclear devastation might adversely affect their little fiefdoms. No such luck.

Use our Take Action page to demand legislation to implement sustained, redundant and comprehensive immigration law enforcement.


Posted by Tim at 1:16 PM EDT
Updated: Friday, August 6, 2004 10:59 AM EDT
Tuesday, July 27, 2004
Help End the Sinful Silence
Topic: Church & Politics
(What are "political devotions"? Click here.)

Mark Twain (of all people!) in the September 2, 1904 edition of Colliers magazine, offered this fine assessment of the Christian's obligation of civic involvement:
It will be conceded that a Christian's first duty is to God. It then follows, as a matter of course, that it is his duty to carry his Christian code of morals to the polls and vote them. Whenever he shall do that, he will not find himself voting for an unclean man, a dishonest man. If Christians would vote their duty to God at the polls, they would carry every election, and do it with ease. Their prodigious power would be quickly realized and recognized, and afterward there would be no unclean candidates upon any ticket, and graft would cease. If the Christians of America could be persuaded to vote God and a clean ticket, it would bring about a moral revolution that would be incalculably beneficent. It would save the country.
The Christian duty is clear, yet an October 2002 CitizenLink article reported there has been a 40 percent drop in Christian voter turnout over the last four elections. If you would like to help reverse this trend, this entry offers a few resources.

First, The Family Research Council's Washington Update features an important new book by its former president:
Ken Connor's New Book: 'Sinful Silence'

Christians must be engaged in the public debate and former FRC President Ken Connor's new book, "Sinful Silence: When Christians Neglect Their Civic Duty" is an excellent read on the subject. By looking at God's Word and His dealings with nations such as Judah, the book sets forth biblical principles that remove any doubt as to God's heart on the issue of civil involvement. It points out that just as God held the people of Judah accountable for their leaders' sins because he gave them significant responsibility in selecting their leaders, he holds us accountable as well. And, from addressing the Bible's call for us to be "salt and light" in our world to suggesting that our failure as God's people to address blatant violations of God's civil standards may hinder our prayer and worship, this is a book well worth reading. It would also make an excellent gift for your pastor.
And Washington Update also offers this warning, with a link to a helpful page:
Spies in Church Pews: The New Strategy of the Left

Liberal groups are seeking to intimidate churches and pastors that take stands on public policy issues. Americans United for Separation of Church and State has filed 50 complaints in the past decade urging the IRS to deny tax-exempt status to particular churches and ministries. Additionally, a local group in the Kansas City area is actually sending spies to church services in an attempt to catch pastors engaging in prohibited political activities.

The spy campaign is targeted specifically at churches supporting traditional marriage. Churches where Democratic politicians campaign in person - such as the one in Ohio whose pastor introduced John Kerry yesterday as "a hero among us" - are seldom the target of such attacks. IRS rules forbid churches from endorsing candidates, but voter registration, voter education (such as non-partisan candidate scorecards), and issue-oriented advocacy are all permitted. Pro-family churches, pastors, and voters should not be intimidated into remaining silent on issues like marriage and the defense of unborn life by such scare tactics. For guidelines on political involvement by churches, written by the Alliance Defense Fund, go to the link below.

Additional Resources

Alliance Defense Fund: Legal Analysis Regarding "Battle for Marriage"
http://www.frc.org/index.cfm?i=LH04F01&f=WU04G18&t=e
The American Center for Law and Justice also has a nice, very comprehensive page on Churches and Political Speech.

And finally, if you would you like your pastor to speak on the importance of civic involvement, or if you are a pastor who wants some help in developing a sermon on the subject, Focus on the Family's Parsonage.org site has a sermon outline developed by its Pastoral Ministries team:

Citizenship: Christians in the Public Square

Many Christian people want nothing to do with public life because it seems corrupt and dirty. Yet, is it possible that political life has degenerated because people with strong moral standards have shunned it? The Bible has some surprising messages for us about duty to our government. . . .

The Outline includes scripture references, quotations from prominent thinkers and a collection of interesting, relevant facts.


Posted by Tim at 1:15 PM EDT
Arab-Israeli Conflict by Numbers
Topic: World War IV
(What are "political devotions"? Click here.)

Dennis Prager, the King of Clarity, today offers an excellent analysis of the Arab-Israeli conflict, strictly by the numbers:
For the many readers who have requested a brief synopsis of the moral arguments in the Arab-Israeli conflict, I offer the following list of numerical data.

Number of times Jerusalem is mentioned in the Old Testament: over 700

Number of times Jerusalem is mentioned in the Koran: 0

Number of Arab leaders who visited Jerusalem when it was under Arab rule (1948 to 1967): 1

Number of Arab refugees who fled the land that became Israel: approximately 600,000

Number of Jewish refugees who fled Arab countries: approximately 600,000

Number of U.N. agencies that deal only with Palestinian refugees: 1

Number of U.N. agencies that deal with all the other refugees in the world: 1

Number of Jewish states that have existed on the land called Palestine: 3

Number of Arab or Muslim states that have existed on the land called Palestine: 0

Number of terrorist attacks by Israelis or Jews since 1967: 1

Number of terrorist attacks by Arabs or Muslims since 1967: thousands

Percentage of Jews who have praised the Jewish terrorist: approximately .1

Percentage of Palestinians who have praised Islamic terrorists: approximately 90

Number of Jewish countries: 1

Number of Jewish democracies: 1

Number of Arab countries: 19

Number of Arab democracies: 0
Read it all, then e-mail it to anyone you know who believes the conflict is merely a "cycle of violence" between two equally guilty parties.

Posted by Tim at 12:18 PM EDT
Monday, July 26, 2004
Tonight's Homework Assignment: Watch TV
Topic: Cultural Civil War
(What are "political devotions"? Click here.)

Who says miracles never happen?

According to Jonathan V. Last, online editor of The Weekly Standard, a TV network's miniseries addresses the war on Islamic terror and, amazingly, gets it right:
More Power to "The Grid"

Hollywood finally tackles the war on terrorism, and the result is better than you could have possibly hoped for.
by Jonathan V. Last

THOSE OF YOU who have paid attention to popular culture over the last three years know about Hollywood's uncomfortable views on terrorism.

For the most part, Hollywood ignores the war on terror. Since September 11, 2001, only a handful of movies and TV shows have been produced that mention the attacks on America. The broader subject of the war on terrorism has been addressed barely at all. And the war in Iraq has been taken up only twice, in documentaries--The Control Room and Farenheit 9/11 which are largely critical of America and fawning of the Islamists with whom we are at war.

So if I told you that TNT was airing a mini-series, called The Grid, about the war on terror, you would know what to expect: Sympathetic, over-burdened Muslims and Americans who, when not fighting silly bureaucratic turf-wars, were waging brutal, destructive, real ones. As it turns out, you would be wrong. The Grid is the bravest, most-daring piece of entertainment in years. . . .

[I]t is impossible to ignore how ground-breaking this show is: It is the entertainment industry's first unvarnished look at the clash of Western civilization and Islamist terrorism. It is the first work not to white-wash the problems some strains of Islam pose. It is the first time Hollywood has gazed at the new world we live in and not been blinded by the glare of political correctness. The Grid is to be applauded on every level.
The Grid airs at 9:00 pm Mondays on TNT. If after watching it you agree with Mr. Last's assessment, be sure to visit the Ask TNT Page, where you can send your praise via e-mail.

Posted by Tim at 3:38 AM EDT
Friday, July 23, 2004
Evil in the Name of Christ
Topic: Church & Politics
(What are "political devotions"? Click here.)

In his most recent column, Dennis Prager heaps righteous indignation upon The General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (USA) for what is, in essence, a policy in support of the destruction of Israel:
I have argued in this column that the greatest sin is committing evil in God's name. As bad as the evil committed by secularists, such as communists and Nazis, has ever been, the most grievous evil is that which is committed in the name of God. For not only do religious evils harm their victims, they also do lasting damage to God-based morality, which those of us who believe in God and religion consider the only viable antidote to evil.

That is why Islamic terror is so evil. Not only because it targets the most innocent of people for death and torture, but because it does so in the name of Allah and Islam.

Incredibly, The General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (USA) joins the list of religious groups committing evil. In the name of Jesus, it has called for the economic strangulation of Israel. They have equated the Jewish state with South Africa during apartheid and called for a universal divestment from it.

The Presbyterians are the first Christian church to do this, and, ironically, the divestment campaign came the very week that the Roman Catholic Church signed a document equating anti- Zionism with anti-Semitism.

It takes a particularly virulent strain of moral idiocy and meanness to single out Israel, not Arafat's Palestinian Authority, or terror-supporting, death-fatwa-issuing Iran, or women- subjugating Saudi Arabia, for condemnation and economic ruin. One of the most decent societies, one of the most liberal democracies in the world, is fighting for its life against Islamic fascists who praise the Holocaust and publicly call for the annihilation of Israel -- and the Presbyterian Church calls for strangling Israel!. . . .

This is one of the morality-clarifying issues of our time. To single out Israel for economic strangulation while that good nation fights for its life is an act of such immorality that holding that view precludes one from the title "good" or "God-fearing," for if they are true to God, I am false to Him. If they are good, I who support Israel am bad. If their Bible teaches them to strangle Israel and support Yasser Arafat, I am guided by a different Bible.

They have drawn a line. It is now time for good people, Presbyterians specifically, Christians generally, to distance themselves vigorously and publicly from this morally sick church. And it is time, once again, for Jews to realize that the enemies of the Jews in our day are to be found on the Christian Left while their friends are far more often on the Christian right.
After the publication of Dennis' column, The stated clerk of the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church issued a statement attempting a backpedal from the resolution. In it, the clerk claims the assembly "authorized exploration of a selective divestment of church funds from those companies whose business in Israel is found to be directly or indirectly causing harm or suffering to innocent people." But the language of the resolution itself is clear:
Refers to Mission Responsibility Through Investment Committee (MRTI) with instructions to initiate a process of phased, selective divestment in multinational corporations operating in Israel, in accordance to General Assembly policy on social investing, and to make appropriate recommendations to the General Assembly Council for action.
And check out the obnoxious moral equivalence between Israel's defensive maneuvers and Palestinians' murder of innocents:
Horrific acts of violence and deadly attacks on innocent people, whether carried out by Palestinian "suicide bombers" or by the Israeli military, are abhorrent and inexcusable by all measures, and are a dead-end alternative to a negotiated settlement of the conflict
That the General Assembly is in retreat mode is a promising sign that maybe, just maybe it will reverse its policy. But don't hold your breath. In any case, you can express your disgust to the stated clerk of the General Assembly here.

Posted by Tim at 3:51 PM EDT
Wednesday, July 21, 2004
Euros Plot to Arm China

(What are "political devotions"? Click here.)

Heritage Foundation scholar Peter Brookes opines on a looming threat which, regrettably but understandably, has been upstaged in the press by war news:
The French and the Germans are trying to stick it to us again. No, not over Iraq -- over China.

The 25-nation European Union (EU), led by Paris and Berlin, is giving serious consideration to lifting the post-Tiananmen Square arms embargo against Beijing.

Even though we've made our objections perfectly clear, from President Bush on down. (America's top Pacific allies, Japan and Australia, have also protested.)

This means that at some point in the future, the weapons of European allies may be used against American forces in the Pacific over the defense of Taiwan, Japan or even South Korea.

. . .

The EU's decision to change course on China is counterproductive and counterintuitive, but not surprising: Europe's security interests in Asia are minimal and, hey, there's cash to be made.

But if the EU goes ahead, our government should stop the flow of U.S. military technology to European firms.

In the end, the EU's folly will further increase the trans-Atlantic divide, give an imprimatur to dismal human-rights records everywhere and increase the likelihood of conflict in the Pacific, which is no one's interest -- not even the distant EU's.
Read the full article here. And for a link to and excerpts from another fine Heritage Foundation article on this issue, see our March entry Chinese to Order Out . . . to Europe.

Posted by Tim at 3:06 AM EDT
Updated: Wednesday, July 21, 2004 12:43 PM EDT
Tuesday, July 20, 2004
Protect the DOMA From Judicial Tyranny With H.R. 3313
Topic: Legislation
(What are "political devotions"? Click here.)

Family News in Focus reports on the House effort to defend against a federal judicial redefinition of marriage in defiance of the will of the people:
The Marriage Protection Act, HR 3313 -- authored by Rep. John Hostettler, R-Ind., -- would stop federal courts from striking down the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act. Robert Knight, director of the Culture and Family Institute at Concerned Women for America, said Hostettler's legislation is the right medicine at the right moment.

"The Marriage Protection Act is a modest, straightforward way to keep federal judges from trashing marriage laws," Knight explained. "It's not the whole answer, and we still need a federal constitutional amendment to keep judges at the state and federal level from destroying marriage."

Sonja Swiatkiewicz, state issues analyst at Focus on the Family, agreed that the proposed legislation, if passed, would not be as effective as a federal constitutional amendment.
"While this bill would protect the federal DOMA from being struck down, it does not address the state DOMA statutes and constitutional amendments," she explained. "They would most certainly remain in danger of being voided by judicial fiat."

Charlie Jarvis of the United Seniors Association said our Founding Fathers would find today's judicial tyranny an outrageous offense to the Constitution and their original intentions because they never intended the courts to be de facto policy-makers unaccountable to other branches of government.

Lori Waters, executive director of the Eagle Forum, said Congress has the jurisdiction to limit the powers of the courts, which have wreaked havoc on our culture through decisions like Massachusetts' legalization of homosexual marriage.

"It's about re-establishing the balance of powers between the judiciary, the legislative and the executive branch," Waters said. "While Congress will probably continue to debate a constitutional amendment into future sessions, they can take action immediately by a simple majority to protect the federal Defense of Marriage Act and send a very strong message to the judges . . . that they will not redefine marriage."

Waters further explained that marriage belongs to the people and no one else.
The article includes a link to the CitizenLink Action Center, for help in contacting your representative. A floor vote has been scheduled for Thursday, July 22nd.

Posted by Tim at 4:04 AM EDT
Updated: Tuesday, July 20, 2004 12:10 PM EDT

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