Obama and the Patriot Act

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Rand Paul campaigning in Kentucky.

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President Obama has signed an extension of the worst surveillance procedures of the Patriot Act. No records of a private citizen are safe from government intrusion. I commend Senator Rand Paul for standing up for liberty. Between Democrats who by nature love the expansion of federal power, and Republican “Red State Fascists” who have no problem with the expansion of law enforcement power, what freedom the United States has left is eroding. We now have a government that can check anyone’s phone records, anyone’s internet records, and invade a person’s private life in a vain attempt to find potential terrorists. Defenders of the Patriot Act claim it would only be used against people suspected of terrorism, but history shows when the government can do harm to the innocent, it will. Sadly, most people will go along with losing their freedom for an ephemeral security that they will never have this side of heaven. The public’s fears of terrorism are constantly used by the federal government to justify expansion of power in a world where a person is more likely to die of a myriad of diseases and accidents, as well as domestic homicide, than by terrorism. The media as a whole, “conservative” or liberal, supports the Patriot Act, and many Americans are stooges of the media. Government schools have failed to teach them critical thinking skills, and the decline of classical rhetoric classes in high school and college/university education keeps the public unaware of the government and media’s manipulative techniques. It is easy to become cynical and believe that the American people are getting the government they deserve. But the vote in the House was closer than the vote in the Senate, and this offers some hope that Rand and Ron Paul and his allies will be able to gain more support when the next renewal of the “Patriot Act” (talk about doublespeak!) comes before Congress. The actions of President Obama do not surprise me–he campaigned against the same provisions of the Patriot Act he now supports. He is a typical politician who says what he needs to say to gain power and then goes back on his promises when the election is over. To their credit, some liberals, such as Nat Hentoff (an honest man and a true civil libertarian), recognize this and have sharply criticized the president. Most of the rest, sadly, follow him like sheep. Maybe the American people will wake up; polls have revealed growing unease with the Patriot Act. The federal government has much more immediate power to harm the American people than terrorists–and Americans should keep that in mind.

On Losing a Beloved Cat

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yellow and white cat

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On Good Friday my wife and I took Sam to the vet. He had urinary tract blockage, common in cats, that two surgeries could not alleviate. We walked into the surgery room with Sam still asleep with the anesthesia mask on. We stroked him, spoke to him, stayed with him a few minutes before the vet came in with the medication to give Sam so he could avoid a painful death. He passed quietly, and we stroked him a long time. Sam had visited the vet’s many times recently, and everyone fell in love with him. He was an incredibly sweet, trusting cat who loved for someone to stroke his belly. We took the body home, spent some time with it before burying it with two other beloved cats in the back yard. My wife ordered a headstone to join the others.

Pets become more than pets–they often become part of the family. My wife and I do not have children, so our cats are, in a sense, proxies, although we recognize that they are not human beings. We probably love them as much as any other loved one, and I have not cried this much since my best friend died last year. But I did receive one gift that helped.

[The cat in the photo is not Sam, but he could pass for Sam’s twin]

Three nights ago I felt paws walk over my feet. Thinking it was our other cat, Frodo, I looked up–no cat. The following night the same thing happened. I raised my head, looked across my wife, and a cat sat “meatloaf style” on the other side of the bed. He looked at me. I blinked, since the cat was not Frodo. There was enough light to make out the light patterns of yellow and white–it was Sam. He stayed still a few seconds, then dissolved into the air. Now a skeptic may say that hallucinations can occur in the hypnogogic state between wakefulness and sleep. Or a skeptic who accepts psi may argue that the apparition may be due to my own psychokinesis. But I believe this was a gift, Sam appeared to me to give me comfort, and by God’s grace he was permitted to do so. I have never had a problem believing that non-human animals, especially higher animals, will be raised from the dead. I believe that, if God so grace me that I enter Heaven, that I shall see Sam once more, along with all the beloved pets–and all the beloved people–I have known this side of eternity. “And all manner of things shall be well”–St. Julian of Norwich.