Friday, July 29, 2005

Support our Scouts

On my honor I will do my best
To do my duty to God and my country
and to obey the Scout Law;
To help other people at all times;
To keep myself physically strong,
mentally awake, and morally straight.

—The Boy Scout Oath

On Tuesday, the Support Our Scouts Act of 2005 passed on a vote of 98-0. Sen. Norm Coleman (R-Minnesota) was one of 53 co-sponsors of the bill, which was passed as an amendment to the Department of Defense authorization bill. The passage was a strong show of support by the U.S. Senate, in the wake of this week's accidental deaths at the Boy Scout Jamboree at the Fort A. P. Hill Army base.

According to author Sen. Bill Frist (R-Tennessee), "The amendment ensures that the Boy Scouts of America are treated fairly by guaranteeing their right to equal access to public facilities, forums, and programs. The amendment also helps ensure that the Defense Department will continue its support of Scout Jamborees, and makes clear that the Congress views the Scouts as a 'youth organization.'"

And who is the Senate defending the Boy Scouts against? The ACLU. From a November 26, 2004 commentary on
Legal historians may someday explain how the once-great American Civil Liberties Union came to see the Boy Scouts as public enemy number one. In the meantime, the ACLU keeps on bringing its absurd First Amendment challenges against the Scouts.

The question no one seems to be asking is, who's better off as a result of these lawsuits? Surely not the 3.2 million Boy Scouts, whose venerable organization is part of the web of voluntary associations once considered the bedrock of American life. If anything, the purpose of the ACLU attacks is to paint Scouts as religious bigots. Other losers are communities themselves, which are forced to sever ties to an organization that helps to build character in young men.

It's been 20 years since the ACLU brought its first suit against the Scouts. If there's one thing we've learned by now, it's that the ACLU offensive says more about the degraded status of the civil liberties group than it does about the Boy Scouts.

I and over thirty Scouts and parents will be going on my son's Boy Scout High Adventure through northern Wisconsin. We will be horseback riding, bicycling 200 miles over four days, and canoeing down the Namekagon River. It will be a challenge to the boys as well as to the suburban, non-camping parents in the group whose idea of "roughing it" is Motel 6. Like the Senate's 98-0 vote, we will be supporting our Scouts all the way.

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

"That's one small step for man..."

" giant leap for mankind." --Neil Armstrong, July 20, 1969

Today is the 36th anniversary of the first manned moon landing, Apollo XI (which deserves Roman numerals more than the so-called Super Bowls). I watched the indistinct image of Neil Armstrong stepping on the moon, during that summer of '69, on the TV at my parents' house, at the impressionable age of 9. I read books about the space program and built a plastic model of the Columbia command module and the Eagle lunar excursion module (LEM). I knew almost everything about the Mercury, Gemini, and Apollo programs. I had the G.I. Joe space capsule set. I watched every episode of Star Trek, most of them more than once, and marveled at 2001: A Space Odyssey. I read The Martian Chronicles, Dune, and the Foundation trilogy.

And now, in 2005, what else, but Google Moon.

In a country that became blasé about sending men to the moon, which used to be an expression of the impossible ("Sure, when they send a man to the moon!"), it's good to take a step back and remember that we Americans are capable of greatness. God bless America.

Thursday, July 07, 2005

We mourn with you, London

and we stand with you, United Kingdom, and Prime Minister Tony Blair, as you stood with us after the attacks on the World Trade Center in New York; The Pentagon in Washington, D.C.; and United Airlines Flight 93 over Pennsylvania on September 11, 2001.

Friday, July 01, 2005

Deep thoughts on the upper Mississippi government shutdown

"Government is not a solution to our problem, government is the problem." —Ronald Reagan

"Minnesota doesn't have a revenue problem, it has a spending problem." —Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty

"Go ahead, make my day." —Detective Harry Callahan in Sudden Impact

"No, shut them all down!" —C3PO in Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope

"Turn if off! Turn if off! TURN IT OFF!!!" —Jake VanDorn in Hardcore

"Special sessions/Consider legislative revisions"Star Tribune

(For those who missed the Minnesota culture reference: "Upper Mississippi Shakedown" by Pat Hayes and Bruce McCabe, performed by the Lamont Cranston Band)