Day by Day



Wednesday, November 05, 2008

The Day After...

Finally. While we have been told that 04 November is the date to be circled on the calendar, if we’re truly honest, the real date highlighted in bright red has been 05 November. It’s over! In a country where people frequently grouse about our collective attention span, who thought a twenty-one month long presidential campaign would be a good idea?
But, here we are, at last. And we have a winner. Congratulations are due to Senator Obama!
It’s more than likely that while many people are celebrating (and rightly so), there’s at least one or two for whom last night was a crushing disappointment and defeat. Now, we will see one of the finest parts of America – the way we come back together as a country, united being the first word in our name, and move forward.
We don’t have to be unified in our joy and celebrations, though we should be. Senator Obama has achieved a success that to date has been enjoyed by only forty-three individuals before him. Out of the billions of Americans who’ve come and gone, this is nothing at which to sneer. And when we factor in his being the first black President, how can we not applaud?
Certainly, there will be hurt feelings and hardened attitudes. “This should make them happy,” was overheard more than once this morning. Whether the them refers to Democrats, Liberals, or more than likely, blacks in our country, as insincere as the wish is by those grumbling it, no doubt, they are happy.
As am I. We will soon witness a peaceful transfer of power in this country, again. A roundly despised leader is not being run out of town by tanks, nor being hung by his neck from the nearest light pole. The military of this country is not the grantor of power as it is in so many others – a simple ballot box is.
We will watch as the People of this country demonstrate one of the greatest lessons of this campaign – if you want change (in whatever form it may come to you), you need to work for it. And lo, Senator Obama, Senator Biden, and his legions of supporters certainly did work for it, very hard work. Change is accessible by one and all in this great land of ours.
Oh, and for those who truly cannot fathom nor accept the concept of President Obama, then you can always take heart that you, too, can work for change. As is heard in stadiums frequently this time of year, “Wait till next time,” may be your new refrain. Start when you’re ready – the current record for a campaign is only twenty-one months.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

A Christian Military?

It would be SO easy to wade into this as an issue of "Separation of Church and State". After all, it's one of our rights, right? (No, it's not, but that's for another opine.)

In this article, an Army Specialist claims that being an atheist cost him his career in the military and resulted in threats upon his life.

It's tempting to dismiss such claims, until you realize one thing.

It's perfectly reasonable to believe.

How many times does the Army have a formation (all the Soldiers lined up together) and the Chaplain comes out to lead in prayer? Don't think it's not noticeable if you don't participate? Think again. Many professional workplaces are well covered with religious paraphanelia. And if yours is noticeably not decorated in kind? Yeah, there might be questions.

It's been said that "There are no atheists in foxholes." It shouldn't matter if there are, or not. What should matter is if the SOLDIER in that foxhole is well-trained. Anything else? Well, let's just leave that to the Soldier and his/her god. As they say, "Mind your own lane."

Sunday, July 06, 2008

Cruel and Unusual

I've had a lot of thoughts in my head of late (here, here, and here), spurred by the recent passing of Punk Rock Mommy.

And as I was chatting with my dear friend, I drew a connection.

I first was thinking back to one of my favorite Star Trek quotes, "How we face Death is at least as important as how we face Life."

And that's true, because for many, Death comes unexpectedly. Unplanned. Unanticipated.

Yet, there are those who know that Death is coming.

They've been told they are going to die. Not exactly when, but... It WILL happen.

Then, they get told that Death is soon approaching. Probably within a month, but no other details.

And finally, you know... Today is your last day.

It's Death Row.

Except, these people are not criminals. They've committed no horrific atrocity.


So, I ask... If we as a society complain about the cruel and unusual nature of executions on Death Row... Executions of our society's most heinous members..

Why are we not more vocal and active in our complaints against the executions of our more innocent members? The children who die from cancer.. The mothers... Wives... Fathers... Sons... Husbands... Daughters... And those indistinguishable people who are mere faces in the crowd that no one even notices is missing...

Priorities.

Outrageous Outrage

The thoughts from my previous post continue to weigh on my mind...

As I wrote, I am disturbed by the misplaced outrage that we have in this country. Large segments of the populace are "outraged" at the number of Soldiers dying in Iraq. Each gory milestone (1,000... 2,000... 3,000... 4,000!) is trumpeted as a further example of how we MUST CHANGE.

4,000. Over five years. While each Soldier lost *IS* a tragedy... Truth (listen up, Truthers) be told, that's a LOW number

Low compared to non-combat deaths, for example.

Low compared to vehicular deaths in our country.

Low compared to disease (pick your favorite) deaths. Quick, show of hands of the oncologists... How many would be ECSTATIC if the death rate dropped to 4,000 over five years?

And I'm fairly sure that most of those outraged would be hard-pressed to recall the name or a detail or two of those who've sacrificed in Iraq.

So, what's with the outrage?


And then I realized. Those Soldiers' deaths serve a *political* purpose. They are an excuse to be outraged. They are names to be written on throwaway cardboard protest signs.

Whereas for another sizable group of the populace, it is the Soldiers' LIVES that hold a purpose and are celebrated.

Now, THAT is something to be outraged over.

Where Is YOUR Righteous Indignation?

Yesterday, another casualty was recorded. This brave Soldier lost her battle.

Andrea Collins Smith.

That's her name. Pay attention, and remember, because you won't see her name on any protest signs.

No mock gravestones.

No bracelets.

No one will interrupt a Presidential speech, Congressional hearing, or a nominee's stump speech asking what they'll do to stop the tragedy.


And why not?

She died of cancer.

No, it's not as sexy a "cause death" as an American Soldier dying in Iraq. She died at home, with her husband, leaving behind five children.

I don't begrudge the "Code Pink" folks, or others, as they exercise their right to protest. Go for it.

I wonder what it'd be like if we put all that energy and effort into fighting a bigger battle.

(Bigger battle?! Bigger than... how do they put it???... an unjust war for oil where Bush lied so _____ died? Yeah, bigger than that.)

So far this year, 208 American Soldiers have died in Iraq (source: Iraq Coalition Casualty Count). That's a little over a Soldier per day, or extrapolated to the year, at the current rate, that'd be approximately 408 Soldiers.

Whereas, it is forecast that 565,650 Americans will die of cancer this year. (Source: American Cancer Society) 1,385 times the number in Iraq. Or, put another way... 1549 EACH DAY! Including holidays... Cancer doesn't take a day off.

Code Pink, you've already got the right color... let's put an end to this daily death count... Everyone, where is YOUR outrage? We must end this. So many needless deaths...

Friday, July 04, 2008

Happy Fourth of July!

Ready for some fireworks??? We are! We're camped out at Mt. Trashmore in Virginia Beach, amongst probably a good 10-20,000 fellow fireworks loving Americans.

One highlight already was when the band asked everyone on The Hill to light up and wave their cell phones while yelling, "Thank You Troops!" repeatedly.

It's a great night, and it's another great day to be an American!

For all of our country's faults, we're still the best place to be on the planet.

(And to all my comrades in the desert of Iraq, Missing y'all... Stay safe!)

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Sunday, June 15, 2008

What Has the Government Done for Me... Lately?

It's sad to think of the attention span of the average American voter. It's drastically short.

I could go into various degrees of examples, but...

it's late.

So, like the teachers in my government indoctrination centers used to do... we'll have a short film.

:)

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Drew Carey on Medicinal Marijuana

Drew Carey takes a look at Medicinal Marijuana in this one...

I don't mind government protecting us from harm from others, but why... WHY must busybodies insert themselves into the lives of those conducting activities that are A) Not harming anyone and B) actually helping themselves?!

This is ridiculous nanny-state'ism, and one day, it'll affect your favorite activity.


Friday, May 30, 2008

Remembrance Flag

There is an effort circulating to create a National Flag of Remembrance. Take a look at this website. It's worth a peek.

I signed the petition...

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Government Schools

I had a frightening experience last night. We were working on D's homework.

Some background: Last week was the week for Virginia's standardized testing (as mandated by No Child Left Behind).

As one might expect, while the intent of the test is to measure how well the students have learned their material over the year, what actually occurs is called "Teaching to the Test".

Great.

Any guesses on how successfully students learn, retain, and COMPREHEND their material?

What's frustrating is that they are "teaching" methods, for mathematics in particular, that do NOT enable functionality for the student. For example, instead of multiplication tables, they're taught calculators and charts. And we wonder why the cashiers of today can't make change?

It is HORRIFYING the destruction being wreaked on our youth's intelligence and future capabilities.

Sigh.

We MUST take back our schools... If "Children are our Future", then we need to wake up TODAY!

By the way, the Virginia tests are called the SOL exam... How apt... because if we don't do something, and soon... that's exactly what our children will be... SOL.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

The Wall



The Drew Carey Project continues with a discussion on The Southern Wall...

Friday, May 16, 2008

Putting Words In the Mouth of Another

Seen on a church sign: "Keep using my name in vain - I'll make rush hour longer. -God"

Anyone see a problem with this?

A majority of Judeo-Christian teaching these days teaches of a merciful, forgiving God. The line above sounds more like the vengeful OT God... You remember the one who tested his worshippers loyalty, etc?

But worse, it's an example of us putting words in themouth of another... And as typical, it can't be countered or argued. Much like a forwarded email saying "Can you believe what _______ said?"

Just a thought... If God is as we describe him, do we need to put words in his mouth?

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Drew Carey on The Drug War



I still wonder just what we're achieving with this "War on Drugs"... like so many "Wars on ____ ", we haven't had too much success...

More later.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Freedom Never Cries

I saw this video, and it's beautiful... Everyone who clicks to view it, $1 is donated to Operation HomeFront.

The man behind the counter in the video is Fred Ferguson, a Medal of Honor recipient.

The singer is John Ondrasik of Five for Fighting...

Please watch.


Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Hillary Hears a Sniper


It's definitely making the news now... Senator Clinton made a speech about how when she went to Bosnia, as First Lady, she landed under sniper fire.

Except, it wasn't true.

Now, the video below by (believe it or not, CBS News) deconstructs her lie. However, it shouldn't even be necessary to do that.

Not, if you have a little common sense.

At the time, she was First Lady of the United States of America. Such a position, while contrary to her assertion of its power, IS a very symbolic one. As such, her safety is paramount. Thus, the United States Secret Service would have never tolerated nor allowed the First Lady to land where she was at risk of being killed by sniper. And if she had really pushed the issue, there would have been extraordinary measures taken to prevent it.

Along for the ride was Chelsea, the First Daughter. Perhaps even more of an emotional target, her presence would also trigger extreme protection. Besides, what mother takes a daughter into sniper fire?

There were USO entertainers aboard, notably Sinbad and Cheryl Crow. Big names. No one wants their safety compromised either.

And if the USSS didn't have a coronary about flying into sniper fire with the First Lady, First Daughter, and two huge celebrities... the USAF brass would have gone to extra lengths to make sure nothing happened while the group was under their care and protection.

So, besides the fact that her story is a complete fabrication, which should certainly give voters pause, especially if she says it's because she was sleep deprived (brings the 3 am ad into new light if she's not at her mental best with low sleep), it's beyond plausibility.

It is apocryphal that politicians lie... but one thing that is expected is that they should be able to lie convincingly. And I would expect one with as much practice as her to be much better at it and not tell a lie so transparent, so blatant, that even CBS News can take it apart.


Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Drew Carey Project - Organ Transplants



Drew Carey discusses organ transplants.

Friday, March 07, 2008

America Unprotected





It's been quite awhile since the Democrats refused to let the FISA renewal bill to even come to a vote in the US House of Representatives. This after the Senate reached a compromise, and in spite of the anti-American philosphy involved in preventing a vote - as we encourage peoples the world over to exercise an opportunity to vote.

America has been left unprotected. And the Democrats, led by Speaker of the House Representative Nancy Pelosi, are either not listening or don't seem interested.

It's time for them to hear us. Hear our concern. We need to get their attention.

I encourage everyone to go out and buy (it's good for the economy, and a worthy use of your stimulus check as there's a decent chance this will still be an issue when the checks are cut) a condom. One single condom (if you buy a multi-pack, enjoy the rest however you like - I hear they make great water balloons).











Mail the condom, along with a note reading, "Protect America!" to:

Office of the Speaker
H-232, US Capitol
Washington, DC 20515


Remember, when you don't use protection, it's like your country has been with every other country.

It's Not the Color, but the Thickness

Terrorism abounds, the economy is slowing down (no, not a recession yet), peace is not yet found in Palestine, and sadly, baseball season is nigh upon us.

Yet, a major headline recently was that actor Robert Downey, Jr. "blacked" up for a role.

This is, apparently, bad.

First, the backstory. Ben Stiller, noted comedian, is directing and starring in a comedy about actors making a movie. In other words, there's a lot of make-believe going on here.

Mr. Downey's part is as an actor who's apparently Oscar-quality (whereupon we already know that Mr. Downey is acting, as he's not often been labeled "Oscar-quality") playing a part that was written for a black actor.

So, we know from the start that it's not serious. This isn't blackface in a negative, farsical, or minstrel-show type sense... This is an actor playing a part. For years, actors and actresses have labored for the belief that any person can play any part, under the ideal world of the theater.

Where was the uproar when the movie below came out:











If changing one's image is wrong, it's always wrong; by corollary, if it's not wrong, then it's never wrong. Equality means everyone can do it. And since Mr. Downey certainly isn't doing this maliciously, but more for the "craft", then... what's the harm? The part isn't the same if a black person portrays a white person pretending to be a black person. It's just the same that a woman playing a man pretending to be a woman isn't the same. (And didn't John Travolta recently change his body image to play a part in "Hairspray"? It wasn't because there wasn't a woman available to play it - several already had on both stage and screen; just that he was playing it this time.)

We MUST get past these little things, especially issues that aren't issues at all, so we can focus on the truly troubling issues facing us as a society... like, what are we going to do about the 31st of March.



Let's judge Mr. Downey on the content of his character, not the color(s) of his skin.

Help Me! - I Can't Walk & Text at the Same Time

It used to be that the standard for being able to do two things at once was if someone could walk and chew gum at the same time (this having replaced the eon long practice of patting your head and rubbing your tummy at the same time.)

These days, there's a new emerging standard - can you walk and send text messages from your phone at the same time. (If that last sentence was not quite clear, then you can probably continue using the chewing gum standard.)

Reports from London show that a staggering one out of ten people have hurt themselves while sending text messages.

I'll say it again. 10% of the population has injured themselves while texting (this can also allow for chatting, but... most likely texting.)

In the United States, this would extrapolate to approximately 30 million injuries.

What steps are being taken to address this scandalous uptick in cellphone injuries? Maybe commercials by cute, fuzzy animals singing songs to us about how to be aware of the rest of the world?

Nope.

London is trying padded lampposts.

(I'll give you a second...)

They are putting padding around lampposts for those folks who are so busy texting that they're not watching where they are walking and BAM! walk headlong into an innocent lamppost.

What does this say for society at large? We have to protect the populace from lampposts placed recklessly in the paths of people who have forgotten how to look UP while walking (anyone else secretly terrified about how these walking maladies might be driving?).

What's next? Pad the trees? Sides of buildings? Perhaps we can turn all of our cities into giant padded rooms.

Because, if we're truly going to ascribe to the theory that the best way to address people too dumb to look up is to pad the obstacles in front of them, then a padded room is what we'll need.

Thursday, March 06, 2008

Insurgents Target Recruiting Station

In a scene all too familiar, insurgents against the United States being involved in Iraq targeted a recruiting station. Fortunately, no one was injured by the explosive blast.

Sounds familiar, doesn't it?

We've read these headlines so often coming out of Iraq that we don't really read them anymore.

But this time, it's different.

The dateline for this isn't a dusty city corner in Iraq... It was Times Square, New York City. And the target was a United States military recruiting station.

Presumably, we are to still believe that those who oppose the war "Support the Troops" (while targeting their workplace with explosive devices) and we should never "question their patriotism" (because blowing up your homeland is a protected form of free speech?)...

It's time for people who lead the genuine anti-war movement to repudiate (and for Senator Clinton's benefit, also reject) the vitriolic attitude and actions that lead to the thought processes where motivated people think setting bombs is a justifiable way to protest.

There are ways.

Ways that express your disagreement, while not lending one to question your patriotism (or sanity, or criminal intent).

And for future reference, when you want to say, "We support the troops", item number one on the checklist is "Don't blow them up."



The insurgents are here, and they are amongst us. Take note, America.

Which Part Will He Change?

I'm looking for verification of this. It was sent to me, and a friend said she heard it, but I can't find any transcripts except for a blurb on National Review Online that's tongue-in-cheek.

So...

Did Senator Obama really say this:
"My friends, we live in the greatest nation in the history of the world.
I hope you'll join with me as we try to change it."



Which War Are They Protesting?

(h/t to Michelle Malkin)

Which war are people protesting? Is it the Global War on Terrorism - Iraqi Theater or... perhaps this is an opportunity to relive their past "glories" and recall protesting the war in Viet Nam?

From the Raleigh News and Observer:

CHAPEL HILL -- For John Heuer, burning a fake draft card on the UNC-Chapel Hill campus was a sort of deja vu.

Heuer said he burned draft cards in 1971 while refusing to be part of President Nixon's army. He put his cigarette lighter to a symbolic card Thursday to support a student group's anti-war rally.

"It's important to get the word out in a creative way," said Heuer, a retired UNC facilities designer.


Burning draft cards. Ok. Was there a draft that I didn't know about? America's army (not the President's, Soldiers follow the President's orders, but they serve America) is an all-volunteer force, and has been since the 1970s.


So, why burn a draft card? The only mention of having a draft lately has come from President Bush, er... no... it was Democrat Representative Charles Rangel.

Anyone who's protesting... if your argument is strong and convincing, then you don't need "creativity" (note: it's not creative if it was used forty years ago)... your argument will speak for itself.

A Class Act

Mike Huckabee conceded his campaign to John McCain.

And it was a classy speech.

I applaud Mr. Huckabee for continuing his campaign through to the end. People know how I feel about those who start a campaign and quit.

A man of principle... he campaigned through to the end, and he stopped when he said he would... when someone had clearly won.

Here's his speech:

Sunday, March 02, 2008

Life Imitates "West Wing"

I've been a humongous fan of The West Wing for... years. Since it broadcast. I always thought that it was very well written (hat tip to Aaron Sorkin).

Interestingly enough, the folks over at Slate have compared the final season Presidential campaign with this year's campaign.

Take a look:

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Article 2, Section 1

Is Senator McCain eligible to be President of the United States?

The Democrats are having a debate, errr, squable, about qualifications for the Presidency and whether Senator Clinton or Senator Obama is more qualified...

... but what about Senator McCain?

Admittedly, the following argument is surrounded by ambiguity since there is no decisive law on it. But, should it ever become a case, it'll come down to a decision by the United States Supreme Court. (And people wonder why whom a President selects for Justices of the Supreme Court might be important?)

It starts with Article 2, Section 1, of the Constitution of the United States of America (a.k.a., the Users' Manual to our country). This section defines the office of the Presidency, and specifically for our discussion, there's Clause 5: "No person except a natural born Citizen, or a Citizen of the United States, at the time of the Adoption of this Constitution, shall be eligible to the Office of President; neither shall any Person be eligible to that Office who shall not have attained to the Age of thirty-five Years, and been fourteen Years a Resident within the United States."

Senator McCain was born in the Panama Canal Zone. And, the Canal Zone is not a State. (Also, the CZ is not the District of Columbia...)

Therefore, Senator McCain (and my son, amongst others) is not a natural born Citizen.

And thus, not eligible for the Presidency...

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Attention Homicidalists!

I'm curious... how come, when you decide to go out with a few semi-automatic bangs, gun shows aren't a common choice of venue?

Why, oh why, must it always be some "gun-free zone"?

National Guard Armory? Nope.
Local Police HQ? Nuh-uh! (Are you nuts, they'll shoot ME!)
Local outdoorsman hunt club? hahahaha

No, it's churches, universities, and other SAFE places (no one ever says for whom they're safe, but I think we're starting to get an idea.)

When will the administrators and legislators decide that it's alright for the populace to defend ourselves (I read somewhere about "keeping and bearing arms", but what do I know)?

How many more must imitate ducks at the county fair shooting gallery?

Sigh.

Gumballs

My mom sent this to me. I haven't had time to read up on Mr. Beck's organization, NumbersUSA, but I must say, he sure does know how to use visual aids effectively - and that's not a common comment for someone with a lot of charts.

Surprising Conservative Results... In Washington

The state of Washington is not known for its conservative leanings. So, it's a tad revealing to see:

McCain - 29.52%
Huckabee - 27.46%
Paul - 23.83%
Quitter - 19.18%

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Informed Voters

Ok, two of my electoral pet peeves are candidates who quit and the uninformed voter.

These two peeves are showing nicely in recent primary results.

I was looking at Wisconsin's primary results. Yes, all the precincts aren't in yet, but some things are obvious.

And not just that Senators Obama and McCain have won.

If you watch the tickers at the bottom of the news channels, you may (thought probably won't) notice that the percentages for each side's top two doesn't add up to 100%. Why is that?

Because of the previously mentioned convergence of Candidate Quitters and the Uninformed Voter.

For the Democrats, let's proudly congratulate each one of the following voters for either believing so strongly in their candidate of choice that they could care less that they don't have the backbone and stamina to see a campaign through OR are so uninformed that they don't know that their candidate has quit (with 81% of the precincts reporting):
  • 5,359 votes for Mr. Edwards
  • 2,070 votes for Rep. Kucinich
  • 679 votes for Sen. Biden (been out a LOOOONG time)
  • 416 votes for Gov. Richardson
  • 400 votes for Sen. Dodd
  • 382 votes for Mr. Gravel
That's nearly 10,000 voters on the Democrat side who as surely voted for their candidate as if they'd voted for Bugs Bunny (in my book, comparably as qualified as some of those other names.) Of some comfort is that these folks only comprised 1% of the voters casting votes.

And the Republicans were not immune (with 81% of precincts reporting):
  • 15,021 for Rep. Paul (technically, he's not quit, nor suspended his campaign - however, he HAS emailed his supporters and said he's focusing on his Congressional race)
  • 6,222 for Mr. Romney
  • 2,185 for Mr. Thompson
  • 1,687 for Mr. Guiliani
  • 684 for Rep. Hunter
  • 150 for Rep. Tancredo
That's 25,949 for the Republicans. Frighteningly enough, that's 7.9% who voted for non-candidates.

Sigh.

Come on, people...

Drew Carey Project - Education Revolt in Watts

American Alienation

I've seen this on a few other blogs, and it is SPOT on. Frighteningly enough, it sounds like a few things I've been known to say.

Warning, strong, strong language. And some images that should bother you to no end.

Please, watch.

BREAKING NEWS - Citizens DO NOT Voluntarily Tax Themselves

A few months ago, I wrote about how folks who wanted to raise taxes could voluntarily do so at any time. All that they needed to do was to write a check and mail it to the government.

Learned that there are a couple of states that actually tried setting up funds for such activities, and one of them is Virginia. Who knew? (Another, by the way, was set up by a gentleman named Huckabee when he was governor of one of those middle states... Arkansas, I think.)

The good news is that the concept of voluntary taxation has REALLY taken off.

How much money has been raised? Will taxes be eliminated due to the generosity of those wonderful taxpayers who put their money where their mouth was?

Um...

No.

Not likely.

Virginia's fund has raised $10,217.04 (can't forget the four cents!) since it's inception in 2002. For those who attended government schools, that's $1459.58 per annum. You could multiply that one hundred times and STILL not come close to a penny contributed per citizen.

So, what happens to everyone who's in a hurry to raise taxes? One would suspect that the states' revenue collection departments would be hiring extra staff to handle the deluge of mail containing all the checks pouring in.

Nope.

So, next time someone supports raising taxes - ask them how much they contributed above the minimum required by the tax form. And treasure the look on their face that you'll see. Spending other people's money is fun; sending in extra taxes instead of buying yourself something special... not so much.

Oh, and for a continued public service - if you'd like to contribute to the federal budget:
Attn Dept G
Bureau Of the Public Debt
P. O. Box 2188
Parkersburg, WV 26106-2188

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Saudi Arabia Plans to Behead Witch

I'd like to take an easy potshot at the "Religion of Peace", except... you know something? There are parts of this article that look as if they'd been written in Salem, Massachusetts.


The judges who convicted her relied on her forced confession and the statements of witnesses who said she had "bewitched" them.

One man claimed that he became impotent after Falih cast a spell on him.


Witches have long faced persecution, by many religions (though truth be told, I've never heard of persecution of witches by Jews, Buddhists, etc), primarily Christians and Muslims. And it's a crying shame.

Especially modern-day Wicca - we can learn a lot from the philosphies inherent in that particular branch of spirituality. There's something very elementary schoolish about those who are the most ardent adherents to a religion - "My religion is better than your religion" or more historically accurate, "My religion can beat up your religion" and "My God(s) will destroy your God(s)."

A little open-mindedness goes a long way. And being faithful to your religion, and being a "good" believer doesn't mean that another religion's existence is something to lose your head over.

A Pet Peeve


I don't like smokers. Not for the usual, popular reasons. I truly don't care if someone smokes or not. It's their choice.

What else is their choice is how to dispose of their cigarette butts when they're finished smoking. Look at the picture above. This could be a road... anywhere.

Look more closely.



There are thousands of butts there. No one thinks for a second about quickly rolling their window down and tossing the butt out the window. Sometimes, I've had a still lit, smoldering butt hit my windshield. And let's not even discuss the times I was driving in a convertible with the top down and had a butt land inside my vehicle. I still remember the cigarette burn on the seat... and thankful that it didn't land on ME.

Why can't smokers keep their butts with them until they get to a trash can? Why is the outside world their ashtray?

It's so frustrating to see this... and worse, it's accepted. We've become desensitized. Sure, we'll pick up trash, but the millions and millions of butts out there... are just part of the scenery now.

And it's disgusting.

Alcatraz - The Center for Peace

So far, over 10,000 individuals have signed a petition to remove the famous prison from the island and replace it with a Peace Center.

I'm not sure WHY they want that spot.

For one thing, I wonder about the symbolism of building a Peace Center that is accessible only by ferry - is Peace inaccessible to most?

Apparently, the plan would cost one BILLION dollars. Again, not sure of how it costs one billion dollars, but then, when you factor in inevitable governmental cost overruns, it could easily be another quarter-billion above that.

From the Reuters' news article:
San Francisco voters will decide on Tuesday whether to remove the famous Alcatraz Prison visited by thousands of tourists a day and instead create a "global peace centre."

The proposition sharing the presidential primary ballot comes from the director of the California-based Global Peace Foundation who gives his name as Da Vid. He says transforming Alcatraz will "liberate energies, raising the whole consciousness of the Bay Area."

Supporters would like to raze the prison and build a medicine wheel, a labyrinth and a conference centre for non-violent conflict resolution. Volunteers collected 10,350 voter signatures last year to put it on the local ballot.

But even in a city long famed for its embrace of counterculture, many are sceptical about he plan.

"Perhaps we haven't reached the proper stage of enlightenment yet, but we're more inclined to support propositions with defined sources of funding attached to them," the San Francisco Chronicle said in an editorial.

Alcatraz is San Francisco's second-most popular paid tourist attraction after cable cars, luring 1.4 million visitors annually on a short ferry ride into San Francisco Bay.

To sceptics Da Vid responds: "Like John Lennon, I may be a dreamer, but I'm not the only one."



Good news - the voters defeated the plan... 72% against. Ouch. Well, at least they gave Peace a chance.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Different Values

Or... why we're different from them.

Recently, our government has undergone grand debates about whether or not "waterboarding" is torture, or a valid interrogation tool.

In recent news, we've learned that the prisoners at the "despicable" and "horrid" detainee camps at Guantanamo are given education classes and movies for entertainment.

And we know how closely the Coalition forces are held to rigid Rules of Engagement and expectations to uphold the Geneva Convention (though they clearly do not apply, we apply them anyway.)

And then, there's al-Qaeda.

Hürriyet Video'larını izlemet için Flash 7 veya daha yüksek eklenti yüklenmeniz gerekmektedir. Yüklemek için tıklayınız!!!


Curious, think there's any debate within al-Qaeda about this?

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Peace Was Our Profession

Once upon a time, the United States Air Force was simply and clearly delineated into three major commands - MAC, TAC, and SAC (Military Airlift Command, Tactical Air Command, and Strategic Air Command, obviously respectively.)

That all changed in 1992, when the Cold War having been declared won by default, it was felt that a reorganization was needed.

Why?

Various reasons were given, cost-savings of course being one of them, however sometimes organizations reorganize for the sake of reorganizing.

The USAF changed to AMC (Air Mobility Command, to replace the more pronounceable MAC, though not sure why), ACC (Air Combat Command, combining assets from TAC and SAC, and providing another unpronounceable acronym), and to further complicate matters, the nuclear assets of ACC, formerly of SAC, would also report to USSTRATCOM (US Strategic Command). Confused?

Yeah. (First rule of thumb of military acronyms - the military SPEAKS in acronyms, so they should at least be pronounceable.)

We went from having one command managing ALL of the assets needed for nuclear response via air and space (the Navy handling the submarines, logically enough) to spreading the wealth.

The result?

A "Lack of Focus" according to the report recently issued by a panel chaired by retired USAF General Larry Welch.

After the Cold War, the once-vaunted Strategic Air Command, which controlled all Air Force nuclear weapons, was dismantled. The military's nuclear missiles were assigned to a division responsible for operations in space, and its nuclear bombers were moved to Air Combat Command, which also includes nonnuclear fighters and reconnaissance aircraft.

Although the internal Air Force review has not been made public, a copy of its executive summary obtained by The Times asserts that the split organization has led to fragmentation of policies and accountability, without a single commander responsible for nuclear missions.


These are nuclear weapons, folks. Our government agonizes about the potential loss of control of nuclear weapons in other nations, e.g. Pakistan, Russia, and the development of weapons in countries such as Iraq and Iran. Yet, we've managed to instituionalize the loss of control in a formal manner within our own nuclear forces.

An interesting quote from the article:
"We can't go back to where we were in 1991," Peyer said. "We don't live in the same world. It's not the same environment."
(Note: Major General Polly Peyer conducted an internal United States Air Force review.)

The general is correct. Until 1991, we faced primarily ONE nuclear enemy - the Soviet Union (I know, I know, the Soviets had disbanded, but I'm trying to keep this simple). Now? Who knows. Literally. Russia hasn't had the tightest control of its nuclear assets, and those potentially lost nukes could be anywhere. Iran is trying to gain nuclear assets, North Korea does have nuclear assets, and let's not forget our friends, the terrorists.

This is a time when we need ABSOLUTE control over our nuclear forces with a clear, simple chain of command. Anything else is foolish and inviting trouble.

The State Department Represents __________

I've always believed that at the most basic level, the US Government represents the best interests of the citizens of the United States of America. I know, I know, we've been given plenty of evidence otherwise... however, this is a most egregious example:

The State Department is considering supporting the Palestinian Authority in its quest to avoid paying hundreds of millions of dollars in judgments won by American victims of Palestinian terrorist attacks in Israel, according to Palestinian officials and defense lawyers involved in the cases.

U.S. officials insist that no decision has been made regarding the complex litigation, which could force the Bush administration to choose between supporting compensation for victims of terrorism and bolstering the Palestinian government as the United States presses for a breakthrough in Israeli-Palestinian peace talks.

Testimony in Israeli courts has connected senior Palestinian leaders -- such as the late Yasser Arafat -- to specific terrorist attacks involved in the lawsuits. But Palestinian officials have argued that it makes no sense for the United States to be providing millions of dollars in aid to the Palestinian Authority while U.S. courts are threatening to bankrupt it.


In the article from the Washington Post, it's reported that the State Department is actually considering intervening on the part of the Palestinian Authority, and by logical extension, terrorists.

Huh?

The argument from the Palestinians is that the US is giving money to the Palestinian Authority with one hand, while supporting taking the money away with the other.

Ok, I can see that.

Let's introduce the PA to the IRS. I am an employee with the Federal Government. The government pays me with one hand, yet takes my money with the other.

I wonder if the Palestinian Authority would therefore support the abolition of the IRS in America, and perhaps all tax collecting agencies world-wide?

Preposterous, I'm sure they'd believe.

The Palestinians aren't the only ones with views regarding this matter. There are those relatives of the victims of terrorism who are parties to the lawsuits in the Israeli courts. They say that should the US give in to the Palestinian demands, then it'll decrease the moral authority of the War on Terrorism.

Good point.

So, there's debate to be had, no? And what happens to the debate if you return to the preposition that the US Government should represent the best interests of the country's citizens? Well, then in that case, it's simple. A) Stay out of it, and let the Israeli courts decide, and B) support your citizens in their efforts to pursue damages caused them by organizations which are against your moral imperatives, i.e. terrorists.

Sheesh, was that so hard?

Thursday, February 07, 2008

The Demise of the Middle Class

We're DOOMED! Run for the hills... hoard everything. The END IS NEAR!!!

And I thought I was doing so well.

The rich get richer, the poor get poorer... we all hear that refrain endlessly (especially from the Left, but the Right's not immune). Anyone hear how the Middle are... middling? Nah... they must be getting crushed out of existence, even though if you DO go along with the illustrative example of "Rich get Richer, poor get poorer", then the Middle must therefore be Expanding. Oh well, government schools.

Mitt Romney Suspends Presidential Campaign

Mitt Romney suspended his campaign today.

A lot of the commentary about this is how it is a "magnaminous" move, and it generates "good will" towards a run next time.

Hogwash.

You know what I learned about Mitt Romney today? He's a quitter. Not a leader. The going got tough, the future was questionable, and he might have been embarrassed had he continued.

So, he quit.

It's an American trend. War not going well? Let's quit. Job not going well? Let's quit. Not getting the grades you like in school? Let's quit.

It's SO easy to quit.

My question to Mr. Romney is this: Over the campaign, in the elections held thus far, 4,136,944 people voted for you. During elections when turnout is notoriously low (it's SO hard to vote, don't you know), over four million people came out to support you. More than a few as recently as 48 hours ago.

And you quit.

What about your supporters in states not yet voting?

Too bad, he quit.

By the way, the same goes to the rest of the quitters - Duncan Hunter, Dennis Kucinich, Rudy Giuliani, Fred Thompson, Joe Biden, Chris Dodd, John Edwards, and Bill Richardson. You want to lead a nation of over 300 million, but you can't tough out a campaign???

IF you're not going to finish, don't start. Don't crush people's hopes and dreams like that.

Let's look at who's left: Hillary and Obama... there's a spirited campaign. And on the Republican side, John McCain, Mike Huckabee (whom so many are writing off, yet he's still winning and fighting), and Ron Paul (whom while gaining few votes, campaigns vigorously and endlessly, which speaks well for him). Also, I suppose we can still include Mike Gravel and Alan Keyes, though... not sure their campaigns ever really started.

I cannot support quitters.

That's not a good indication of a Leadership quality. Maybe it's part of what's indoctrinated into me through the military... never leave anyone behind. Well, Mr. Romney, you just left over four million behind.

A Chilling Way to Start Your Day

Once upon a time, the United States lived in mortal fear of the Soviet Union.

Nowadays, most look back upon the stories of what it was like back then as... nostalgia. The new youth certainly don't recall what it was like. Or how close to the edge, we often all lived.

When you study the past, you learn how the pendulum often swung back and forth between positions of strength for the US and for the SU.

Prior to 1981, following the Presidency of Jimmy Carter, and the drawdown of the post-Viet Nam era, the US military was not up to... snuff. President Reagan rapidly changed all that, and made quite a difference in the way the pendulum was swinging.

Prior to that, the following was certainly possible:




Certainly, we can all understand if people have the reaction, "But that was never possible." No? I've written in the past over the need for us to be prepared. Part of that requirement is to try to imagine that, which to us, is unimaginable.

In World War 2, we were surprised when the Japanese developed suicide weapons. It shocked and horrified us. They would willingly fly their planes into targets!

In this war, we're surprised when the Islamic fascists developed suicide weapons. It shocked and horrified us. They would willingly fly our planes into targets!

We often cannot fathom those who do not think like us. Whether it's Right vs Left, Conservative vs Liberal, Middle East vs West... Them vs Us.

Planning for your own destruction isn't exactly a joyous, fun activity. There are more exciting things to do, to be sure. However, it IS a necessary one. You must try to imagine what others will do, so you might prepare to prevent it.

Is this a big leap? Look at your house. Many of you plan for burglars. Perhaps they'd creep around in the dark - so you add motion-detector floodlights. Maybe they'll try to sneak into a window, so you make the windows harder to open. And if all else fails, we throw in alarms. And there's steps we take when we're away: stop the mail, ask the police to drive by, set lights to random timers...

WE PLAN.

Well, collectively, this is our house. We must plan. We must dream the unthinkable. And remember that the most likely attack will be the one we didn't dream.

Hope for the best, but plan for the worst.

Who knows when the next sunny, clear day will arrive... when the world changes again?

Thursday, January 31, 2008

One of My Favorite Senators

Senator Jim DeMint, R-SC, is one of my favorite Senators. He's always been a positive force in the United States Senate, an excellent representative for South Carolina, AND has been supportive of my family.

So, it pleases me to no end to see him leading the call for Berkeley, California to shape up.

Read here:
DeMint to Berkeley: Support Our Marines or Lose Federal Funds

January 31st, 2008 - Washington, D.C. - Today, U.S. Senator Jim DeMint (R-South Carolina) released the following statement in response to the decision by the City Council of Berkeley, California to evict the U.S. Marine Corps Recruiting Station from the city.

“This is a slap in the face to all brave service men and women and their families. The First Amendment gives the City of Berkeley the right to be idiotic, but from now on they should do it with their own money. If the city can’t show respect for the Marines that have fought, bled and died for their freedom, Berkeley should not be receiving special taxpayer funded handouts. I am currently drafting legislation to ensure that American taxpayers aren’t forced to pay for this insult by rescinding all of the earmarks for Berkeley in the Omnibus Appropriations bill, and to transfer the funds to the Marine Corps.”

According to news reports:

The [Berkeley] City Council has voted to tell the Marines their downtown recruiting station is not welcome and "if recruiters choose to stay, they do so as uninvited and unwelcome guests." The measure passed this week by a vote of 8-1. The council also voted to explore enforcing a city anti-discrimination law, focusing on the military's "don't ask, don't tell" policy. In a separate item, the council voted, also 8-1, to give protest group Code Pink a parking space in front of the recruiting office once a week for six months and a free sound permit for protesting once a week.


Kudos, Senator!

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Ouch!

This was in the New York Post.

While the voters in Massachusetts are consistently able to forget Senator Kennedy's past, it's important to remember.

And despite persistence, Mary Jo Kopechne was unavailable for comment.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Reaction to Press Coverage of Heath Ledger




From Michael Ramirez at Investor's Business Daily.

Says it pretty well, I think.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Credibility and Reliability in Reporting

There are many bloggers out there commenting on recent New York Times reporting that is quickly proving to be... less than accurate.

I don't want to duplicate the efforts of those who've written so well on the subject, so let me suggest one particular column that struck me as being particularly eloquent.

Please, take a look at Mark Steyn's column on the subject.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Breast Cancer Patient Protection Act of 2007

I'm torn.

There are two bills before Congress, a House of Representatives version and a Senate version, titled the "Breast Cancer Patient Protection Act of 2007.

Essentially, and to spare you the legalese in the bills (though I always encourage you to read the bills - unlike our actual lawmakers), it mandates that patients not be sent home from the hospital less than forty-eight hours after a mastectomy is performed.

I remember with Ellicia how happy we were that the Germans held her for quite a few days to ensure everything worked out ok... Mastectomies are MAJOR surgery.

Easy vote. Of course, patients shouldn't be sent home and it's sad that they are.

And I wish, really wish, that such a vote wasn't necessary.

Why am I torn? Because it goes against my beliefs of having the government tell the private sector (and insurance companies are private companies whom we hire to provide a service to us - namely, insurance) how their business should be run.

It's against my core beliefs.

Sigh.

What I feel, essentially, becomes a classic Liberal versus Conservative argument. On the Liberal side, I feel that it should be voted for. These women NEED to stay longer in the hospital to ensure their surgeries go well.

On the Conservative side, I don't want government meddling and mandating the business rules.

So, let's draw a compromise here. Attention insurance companies - here is a MARKET OPPORTUNITY. Differentiate yourself from your competitors by offering better mastectomy care. Customers, especially women at risk, and those who love them, will flock to your company.

Don't make government legislate the morality of good care. Do it on your own.

(Sad note - one of the House bills - HR 119 - was introduced by Rep. Jo Ann Davis, of the 1st Congressional District of Virginia. She passed away last year - from cancer.)

How Low Will We Go?

Sometimes in my job, I have to sit for hours, staring at a door, waiting on a moment's notice to spring into action.

So, it gives me time to think.

And ponder.

Recently, I started thinking about our fascination, as a culture (not necessarily a nation as it's worldwide), with reality TV. It seems that nothing is out of bounds. People will do anything for the chance of money and/or the fleeting fame of being a reality TV star.

And I heard a radio talk show host mention, in passing, that if executions were televised, they'd get great ratings.

And my twisted mind started to wonder.

Just how far we might go? Not necessarily this year, but... what's to come?

We have had committed couples go to "Temptation Island" to test their love for each other with other people.

We've had people swap relationships in the "Paradise Hotel".

And lately, with "Moment of Truth", we have people answering potentially (ok, DEFINITELY potentially) damaging questions versus a lie detector for money. In front of the people whom their answers will hurt the most.

So, I'm curious. One day...

A new game show comes out. Two teams, say... five people each (maybe we'll make it interesting and they're all family and friends) compete for enormous sums of money. Each round could be $10 million dollars or so.

Here's the catch... As the teams advance, they collect the money... But, when your team loses a round, the team captain has to chose a team member to eliminate.

Permanently. Whom would you sacrifice to advance to another chance for extra ten million dollars? Or call it fifty million?

My point is... I don't think we're that far away. Sure, the gut reaction is... You sick $!@*!!! But, what about all the other shows that have gone before... Each one pushes the boundary, the envelope, just a little bit more. And people watch. And on some channels - MTV, for instance, has some interesting shows - things really get pushed. Remember, same old, same old, doesn't bring ratings. New and daring does.

Just a sad prediction, and I hope I'm wrong...

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Are the States Obsolete?

Is it time for us to dissolve the fifty states (ok, some are commonwealths, but for ease, I'll say "states") and perhaps have just the USA (we'll keep the name for heritage purposes) with administrative districts?

Preposterous?

Once upon a time, notably the antebellum time (pre-1861), the States were remarkably sovereign. Federalism was fully in force with the central government playing a limited role, notably in affairs that affected all the States, and the States managing the local needs.

We have transitioned to a time where the Federal government plays a much larger role in all roles of government.

  • Education: Once a province of local governments and boards, schools are now managed and ruled according to the Federal government. Often Congress, and the Department of Education, enact laws and policies that all schools which receive federal funds must follow.


  • Crime: Think of how many crimes, once thought to be a "local" event, now involve the Federal government. Whether it's through the FBI (kidnapping), BATF (guns, tobacco, alcohol), IRS (money), or just the Department of Justice (it's amazing what the US Attorney can find to prosecute someone under - remember, Michael Vick's dogfighting case was a federal one), the Federal government has their fingers in local crimes just as much as the locals do.


  • Defense: Before the War Between the States, the States had their standing Armies, and the United States Army wasn't noticeably large. Units were organized and defined by their state of origin. Now, yes, we do have the National Guard for the States, but let's be realistic... they are merely subordinate to the Federal military. Virginia and South Carolina, for example, have fighter units. Against whom within the state's borders will they be attacking? Will the Governor of South Carolina order the 169th to shoot down mischevious North Carolina aircraft? Not likely. The same can be asked of Army National Guard units that don't quite fit the bill for state duty - a big need for a state to have M1A2 Main Battle Tanks?

    So, that time, too, has passed.


  • Disasters: This would be easy, right? Local fire, local government. Local flood, local government. However, when a natural disaster occurs, is not one of the first statements that the locals have asked for Federal Disaster relief? Or, Where's FEMA? Where are the Feds? What's the President going to do?!


  • Taxes: Most of our taxes go to the Federal government. Ironically, a large sum is often then granted back to the States... to do the Federal government's bidding.


  • Infrastructure: Much of our roadway and other infrastructure funding comes from... care to guess?


  • These are just a few examples. But, when you watch the Presidential debates or stump speeches, isn't it interesting that most of it is formed on the "What can you do for ME?" or "What will you do for our local area?" basis of thinking? Not necessarily what will be best for the country as a whole...

    Laws and regulations are vastly becoming more and more local from the Federal government, eliminating the once generous difference between the varied States. Iowa equals California equals Vermont equals Tennessee...

    The time for the States has passed. Let's eliminate the middlemen, and recognize the United States as the primary, and central, government that it is.

    Wednesday, January 16, 2008

    A Ban on Dancing

    No kidding. Twenty-three years after Footloose, this is still around.

    I understand some folks (Baptists, for one) are against dancing on religious grounds. Fine. Part of the great melting pot (a term that's fallen out of favor in lieu of "multiculturalism") that is our country.

    But to legislate against it?



    Monday, January 14, 2008

    Safe Sex

    Safe Sex

    While we're all aware of how Safe Sex can protect you from disease, and even a fairly decent chance of preventing pregnancy, did you know that it could conceivably save the planet?

    No?

    Awhile back, I'd debated writing about the British woman who had herself sterilized to avoid overpopulating the planet, depleting its resources, and generally causing the destruction of the environment.

    It was dismissed as a young woman who made her decision, and while we may not agree with her reasoning, there's something to be said for standing up for your principles. Also, there was the belief that her failing to reproduce will prevent the promulgation of her genes into the gene pool.

    Did you know there's a whole movement?

    Really.

    The Voluntary Human Extinction Movement.

    This group encourages people to not reproduce so we can stop harming the planet. Eventually, humans would die out, and the planet would recover (the assumption being that it's desperately harmed already).

    There are even some catchy cartoons on the site. There's one where storks delivering babies drop them a la bombs into nature destroying forests, fish, and even Bambi.

    One of the best, and I'm not truly sure how I managed to watch all the way to the end, was "The Wit and Wisdom of Cancer".

    I'll give you a second.

    Yep, it's the hilarity, complete with stand-up comic, of the allegory of cancer cells destroying a body, with the body of course being "Gaia" - Earth's alternative nickname.

    It's important to know what's out there. What people seriously desire. And some people think the best thing for the human race is if we all die. They see a newborn not as a miracle, but as a devastating future for the planet.

    Educate yourself. Take a look.

    Tuesday, January 08, 2008

    Maternity Leave for High School Students

    There's an article in the Denver Post about a push by high school students to have the school district grant "maternity leave".

    Lori Casillas, executive director of the Colorado Organization on Adolescent Pregnancy, Parenting, and PRevention, had this quote, "Schools need to say, 'This is what we do to support your learning.' That's not happening."

    The students want four weeks away from school.

    I'll ask the question. How is their learning supported... if the student is not in school?

    The School District does try. They have a school for pregnant students (the article says girls, but really, I feel pregnant and girls is redundant - pesky four weeks of extra learning might have helped there). That's pretty supportive, I think. Sadly, there's a waiting list.

    Kayla Lewis, a Senior, 18 years old, and five months pregnant, pushed for the maternity leave at a recent school board meeting. Wouldn't a month of school be hard to replace for a senior? For those who hated math, four weeks = 20 days. Most school years are 180 days. So, missing a month means missing 1/9th of the year.

    By comparison sake, from Health and Biology classes, the human gestation period is coincidentally nine months in duration. So, I ask these new mothers (and many are still children themselves), what effect do you think missing a month of gestation would have upon your baby? Let's say we just skipped the 4th month of gestation. Just didn't do it. What would happen to the baby? I'm sure it wouldn't be quite so healthily developed.

    What happens to a child's education when they miss a ninth of their school year? How do you recover from that?



    I'm not indifferent to the fact that teen pregnancies will happen. They do. Sadly, too often. However, the school is there to support education, which means, having the student in class. There are other agencies of the government which will support the teen pregnancy.

    And remember (except for cases of rape), the pregnancy was a choice. A CHOICE. (The other half of being "Pro-choice", as I like to think...)
    Sex = Risk of Pregnancy. Sex = Acceptance of Risk. Therefore, Sex = Living with the choice and decision.

    Sigh.

    (And I must comment on the newspaper's headline "Birth leave sought for girls"... um, Biology makes that redundant. I'm curious though, if the school board encouraged Paternity leave, too (oh my!), would more of the young men step up to "finish what they started"?)

    Please Explain This to Me

    In the past four, nearly five, years... the United States military has suffered 3,911 deaths in Iraq.

    I'll save the trip to the calculator. That's a little over 800 per annum.

    This massive death toll has spawned worldwide protests, marches, changes of governments, etc.

    Less than a thousand per year. (And please, PLEASE, I am NOT attempting to lessen the deaths of any ONE of those.)

    However, according to the American Cancer Society, there were an estimated 12,332,300 NEW cancer diagnoses worldwide in 2007.

    12 1/4 million.

    New cases. Not counting the ones already existing.

    The ACS also estimates 7,214,285 DEATHS from cancer in 2007.

    Where are the protests?

    Where are the calls for government action?

    Candidates for office - What is YOUR position on this deadly disease? Everyone has a position on whether we should stay in Iraq (some have more than one - it never hurts to have a spare), but who is calling for action against cancer?

    In the 1940s, the Manhattan Project cracked the Atom.

    In the 1960s, the Apollo Project reached the Moon.

    When will it become an imperative to try to reduce, or dare we dream, ELIMINATE this cause of death from the world's surface.

    How many more must die, each day, until it becomes important?

    Code*Pink - y'all have a good color... Are you with me?

    We can fight back this disease, that turns the body against itself... a different, yet familiar, form of insurgency.





    There are so many things that government does poorly... but, some things we've done well. Let's put an end to this disease. Let's bring LIFE to so many.

    We can do it.

    If it's important to us. It is to me. How about you?

    Monday, January 07, 2008

    Ron Paul

    Ron Paul. IF someone recognizes the name, they tend to fall into one of two camps - those who see him as the Second Coming or those who see him as the Republican answer to Dennis Kucinich.

    For the most part... I agree with Ron Paul. He sums up many of my Libertarian leanings. I also notice how easy it is to demagogue him, primarily (no pun intended) due to his views on the Iraq Theater - of which I disagree with him.

    In order to expose him a bit to my loyal (and rare) readership, I thought I'd include some of the interviews Mr. Paul recently had with John Stossel (another Libertarian of whom I'm fond).

    Ron Paul Interview with John Stossel

    And then there's this:


    My Interview with Ron Paul

    By John Stossel

    Over the last few months, I've received hundreds of e-mails from people asking me to interview Republican presidential candidate Ron Paul, so I did.

    It's refreshing to interview a politician who doesn't mince words. It's even more refreshing to interview one who understands the benefits of limited government.

    Here, then, is the first in a series of columns on my talk with Ron Paul. Some of Paul's answers are shortened.

    What should government do?

    Ron Paul: Protect our freedoms. Have a strong national defense. Look at and take care of our borders. Have a sound currency. That was the responsibility of the federal government, not to run our lives and run everything in the economy and extend the interstate-commerce clause and the general-welfare clause to do anything they want to do.

    So defense, the military, police forces enforce contracts, and that's about it?

    That's it. We would have a court system to enforce contracts, and when people do harm to others, when they take property or injure property, or pollute a neighbor's air, I think there's a role for government to protect our environment through private-property rights.

    So keep us safe, enforce contracts, run the courts, pollution rules and otherwise butt out? Leave us alone?

    Basically that, which would mean if I'm elected, I should immediately take a pay cut. You know, because I wouldn't have so much to do.

    The Department of Education. You'd get rid of it?

    Yes. We don't need it.

    How will people get educated?

    We might get better education. The evidence shows, since the 1950s, since the federal government's gotten involved, the quality of education has gone down, and the cost has gone up.

    The federal government should have no role?

    There's no authority for it, and . they've proved themselves inefficient. The one city they're totally in charge of is Washington, D.C. Thirteen thousand dollars a year per student. They have more guns, more drugs, more violence. So there's no evidence that the government can do a very good job.

    The Department of Energy.

    We don't need a Department of Energy. It serves the interests of big business.

    Other cabinet departments? Department of Agriculture, Commerce, Health and Human Services, Housing and Urban Development. You'd get rid of all of them?

    Yeah. Of course, that's not on the immediate agenda, but they're unnecessary, and we should think about what kind of a country we would have without these departments, and I think we would have a better country, and all those problems that they're supposed to solve, I think, would be lessened.

    The Commerce Department? We don't need the Commerce Department to have commerce?

    No, absolutely not.

    Homeland Security. Isn't that a role for the federal government?

    Not really, not the way that's designed. That's the biggest bureaucracy of them all. There are some parts that are OK. You know, they put the Coast Guard in there, and they put FEMA in there, and everybody's bunched together. And I think it was failure of government on 9/11, not the fact that we didn't have the Department of Homeland Security and . a national ID card, and this constant surveillance and loss of our privacy.

    Failure of government how?

    We spent $40 billion on intelligence gathering, and it didn't prevent (the 9/11 attacks) from happening. But the government was in charge of the airlines. FAA, they were supposed to inspect the people as they went on, and you weren't supposed to resist any takeovers, and (passengers and pilots) weren't allowed to have a gun. Maybe if you and I had the airlines, we might have said, "Hey, you know, we want to protect our passengers. Maybe we should have a stronger door on there, maybe we ought to give our pilots a gun." So 9/11 wouldn't have happened.

    So government creates too many rules, and the wrong ones?

    That basically it. Most of the time well-intentioned -- but good intentions will not solve our problems.

    And...



    Ron Paul is the only Republican presidential candidate saying we should get our troops out of Iraq -- now. Here's more of my edited interview with the congressman.

    Some people say that if we don't attack the enemy there, they'll attack us here.

    Ron Paul: I think the opposite is true. The radicals were able to use our bases in Saudi Arabia and the bombing of Iraq (from 1991 to 2001) as a reason to come over here. If China were to do the same thing to us, and they had troops in our land, We would resent it. We'd probably do some shooting.

    s this case not different? Religious fanatics hate us and want to kill us because of our culture.

    I don't think that's true. It is not Muslim fanaticism that is the culprit. The litmus test is whether we are actually occupying a territory. In the case of Saudi Arabia, that was holy land.

    Many say the surge in Iraq is succeeding, that we're at a turning point now, and we are creating a model of democracy in a part of the world that hasn't seen that.

    That's the propaganda. I don't happen to believe that.

    And if in most of Iraq, some religious fanatic comes to power and has money to buy nuclear weapons, we should just leave him alone?

    The Soviets had the technology. They were 90 miles off our shore, and they had nuclear weapons there. But we were able to talk to them. We took our missiles out of Turkey. They took the missiles out of Cuba. We should be talking to people like this. It's the lack of diplomacy that is the greatest threat, not the weapons themselves.

    You say we shouldn't be the world's policemen. Isn't it our responsibility to help others?

    It's OK for us to personally help other people. But to go around the world and spread democracy -- goodness, no -- too many unintended consequences. It usually requires force. I think we should only do those things under the prescribed conditions of the Constitution.

    Is war ever justifiable?

    Sure. If you're attacked, you have a right and an obligation to defend (your) country. I do not believe there is ever a moral justification to start the war.

    So in World War II, we were justified?

    Sure.

    How about going into Afghanistan after Sept. 11?

    I voted for that authority to go after those responsible for 9/11.

    The Korean War?

    Totally unjustified.

    Kosovo?

    Absolutely unjustified.

    Vietnam?

    A horror.

    The first Iraq war? Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait. He might have invaded the next country, and the next.

    I bet Israel would have done something about it, and I bet Saudi Arabia maybe would have talked to Israel. I think if it would have been left to the region, they might have taken care of Saddam Hussein in 1990 and we wouldn't have the problems we have today.

    What if there's genocide and terrible suffering in a country?

    It's a tragedy, and we can have a moral statement, but you can't use force of arms to invade other countries to make them better people. Our job is to make us a better people.

    You'd pull American troops out of Korea, Germany, the Middle East, everywhere?

    I would. Under the Constitution, we don't have the authority to just put troops in foreign countries willy-nilly when we're not at war.

    If North Korea invades South Korea, we should just leave it alone?

    Sure, but it's not going to happen. South Korea's about 10 times more powerful than North Korea.

    If China invaded Taiwan?

    That's a border war, and they should deal with it.

    If Canada invades Montana?

    I think that might be a little bit different. Montana probably could take care of it, but we'd probably help them out from Washington if that happened.

    That's a role for the federal government?

    Oh, sure.


    Moving along...



    U.S. congressional representative and Republican presidential contender Ron Paul has been called "Dr. No" because he repeatedly votes against legislation he believes gives government too much power. If it's not in the Constitution, he says, the federal government has no business doing it. He even votes against appropriations to his constituents. Here's Part 3 of my edited interview with Rep. Paul.

    Your district is subject to floods, but you vote against FEMA. Why?

    Ron Paul: Because I think FEMA helps create the flood problems. (Without subsidies,) if it's risky on the Gulf Coast to build there, the insurance prices will go up. If (they're) too high, nobody will build there, or they'll build there with full risk. Flood comes, wind blows your house away, you don't get reimbursed. So there might be (only) modest building in those areas. But if the government subsidizes the insurance, saying, "If you build there, don't sweat it, we're going to bail you out," more people move into the flood-prone areas. Then who are the people that have to bail you out? Somebody that lives out in the desert. It's unfair, it's not good economics. You create more problems, more houses get flooded, and it becomes a general problem rather than an individual problem. We have undermined is the principle of measuring risk. Then people do things that they wouldn't have otherwise done.

    You also say, "no farm subsidies."

    No, I can't quite find (the farm-subsidy program) in the Constitution.

    Don't we need farm subsidies to make sure we have food?

    It is totally unnecessary. I think (subsidies) push the prices of food up, and maybe (that) makes it more difficult for poor people to buy food. If there's a subsidy, it means the taxpayer was taxed to pay a huge corporate farmer. So it hasn't helped the people. And why should we assume that the farmers wouldn't be productive? They're hard working people. I never voted for farm subsidies, and I represent a farm district.

    They forgive you for that?

    The farmers will support me, but not the (farm lobby) organizations.

    Most crops don't have subsidies. Yet we have plenty of (unsubsidized) peaches and plums.

    When I go to the grocery store, I always marvel: Isn't it wonderful how we can see so much fresh produce there, and the prices aren't regulated? It was a fallacious argument back in the '30s that the Depression came from free markets and therefore we had to have a safety net. We gave up on believing in freedom and understanding how the market works.

    You talk about freedom and tyranny. I seldom hear politicians use those words.

    Those are our only two choices. We've had a grand experiment in this country, where we emphasize freedom. The Constitution was designed to protect individual liberty, to restrain the government. But we have forgotten that. Now we have an interpretation that means that we spy on the American people, encroach on their privacy, take care of them, run the "nanny state" -- and then we have secrecy in government. So we have it reversed. People say, "Ron, you want to go back to the dark ages of this strict interpretation of the Constitution." Well, I want to go back to the Constitution, but I don't consider it the dark ages. I think the dark ages the days were when all you had was tyranny. Freedom is new. Tyranny is old.

    The Declaration of Independence and the Constitution are enough? We don't need 55,000 pages of tax code?

    Isn't that fantastic? Truth is simple. The more complex (government) is, the more leery we ought to be of what they're doing. When they say we have to solve the problems of 9/11 (by passing) the Patriot Act, that's complex. Four hundred pages, and they dump it on us an hour before we vote. You can read the Constitution and understand it, but you cannot read and understand hardly any of the legislation being passed.

    And lastly...



    You want a 700-mile fence between our border and Mexico?

    Ron Paul: Not really. There was an immigration bill that had a fence (requirement) in it, but it was to attack amnesty. I don't like amnesty. So I voted for that bill, but I didn't like the fence. I don't think the fence can solve a problem. I find it rather offensive.

    What should we do?

    Get rid of the subsidies. (If) you subsidize illegal immigration, you get more of it.

    Get rid of welfare?

    All the welfare benefits.

    Including government-paid health care?

    Absolutely.

    So what should a hospital do if an illegal immigrant shows up for treatment?

    Be charitable, but have no mandates by the federal government. Catholics want to help a lot of these people. I'm not for (punishing anyone who wants to help voluntarily). But we wouldn't have so many (illegals) if they didn't know they were going to get amnesty. If you promise them amnesty -- medical care, free education, automatic citizenship, food stamps, and Social Security -- you're going to get more (illegal immigration). I think we could be much more generous with our immigration. (But) we don't need to reward people who get in front of the line.

    We should be more generous in our legal immigration policy?

    (Without the welfare state) it would be a non-issue. Today it's a big issue because people are hurting; they can't keep up with paying their bills. They see (illegals) using food stamps, in the emergency rooms, demanding bilingual education in the schools. The costs are going up.

    So get rid of all those programs? Every one?

    I would. Get rid of the incentives and work toward a real solution.

    You oppose "birthright citizenship," which says that the child of an illegal immigrant who gives birth in America is a U.S. citizen. But that right to citizenship is in the Constitution, isn't it?

    There's confusion on interpreting the 14th Amendment. It says that if you're under the jurisdiction of the United States, you have a right to citizenship if you're born here. But it's a little bit confusing. If you step over the border and you're illegal, are you really under the jurisdiction? There's a question on that, and I want to clarify it. I don't like to reward people who sneak in for that purpose and get on the welfare rolls.

    What about the millions who are here illegally already? Should we deport them?

    I don't think anybody could find them. Nobody even knows how many there are. But if they come for welfare benefits and you know they're illegal, (you should) deny them the benefits. If they commit a crime, send them home. Today in many cities, you're not even allowed to ask them their immigrant status. Policemen tell me they can't ask that question to find out if they're illegal. It's politically incorrect to ask a person his immigrant status because that would (be like saying), "If you've broken the law, maybe you ought to go home."

    How do you see immigration in the future?

    If we have a healthy economy, we would probably have a lot of people coming back and forth working in this country. There was a time when (immigrants did that). That was when they didn't expect to get easy amnesty.


    So, these are some of his views. Something to think about. For more, please go to his Website. Remember, when it's your turn to vote, educate yourself... and vote for whom you believe in. It's the only way to make your beliefs truly known.

    (Many thanks to the transcripts from Real Clear Politics.)

    Sunday, January 06, 2008

    Worth Living?

    We are a risk-averse society.

    An example I often give is from when I lived in Germany. I observed how different the driving there was compared to that which I was accustomed in the States. It was safer, even if the speeds were dramatically in excess of anything in America.

    How can that be? We've lived under the theory (as seen on billboards and bumperstickers for years) that Speed Kills.

    How can autobahns replete with vehicles often cruising at 150 MPH be safer than here in the States where you "Drive 55 to arrive Alive"?

    While there are certainly many reasons... the German culture, attention to detail, safe driving habits... I believe one of them is the near certain result of what happens when a Mini loses control at 150+ MPH. No matter what safety features, there's nothing left of machine nor occupant. Period. Devastation.

    Compared to here, where we work VERY hard to ensure survivability no matter what. There are driver side airbags, passenger airbags, side airbags, curtain airbags, radar, sonar, run-flat tires, computer controlled steering, brakes, rollover protection, etc. We are determined to make all accidents survivable.

    The end result is that we do not fear a wreck. We can afford to be careless... sure we might bounce off of something, but... we'll survive. Consumer Reports and the dealership salesman both said so... not to mention all the TV commercials touting the latest crash test result.

    This expands into everything we do. Quite simply, we don't like the idea of dying. We spend gobs of money staving off Death in our last days. We put helmets on our children as they bicycle, strap them into everything, even if it's just for a short while, and curtail holiday traditions lest there be the slightest rumor of a possible chance of a risk (Trick or Treat? No... The neighbor down the street read an article on the Internet about a person who knew a friend who's nephew found a razor blade in a Mars bar.)

    Which brings me to my question... well, almost. Please, bear with me for a moment.

    I work under the Theory of Opposites. In order to define one thing, there must be an opposite. How can you define Peace - without the concept of War? Life without Death is not Life, but mere... existence? Ends must have Beginnings (and vice versa), White and Black, Wet and Dry, etc., etc.

    So, back to my question. How can we have things Worth Living For if there's nothing Worth Dying For?

    Hundreds of years ago (and in many cases thousands), people climbed into leaky, barely sea-worthy boats (ships being too generous of a term), and sailed off, never knowing if they'd return.

    One hundred years ago, men would take to the skies, often with the very real possibility of returning to the ground in a less than controlled fashion.

    Fifty years ago, we would strap people to rockets with more explosive power (as witnessed by their propensity to explode unexpectedly) and launch them into the unknown.

    No longer.

    We send robots to do our exploring. We send robots to fight our battles.

    We watch others do great things. We save risk for Reality TV.

    But risk ourselves? No.

    So, I ask. What's Worth Living for if nothing is worth Dying for? (My apologies to the grammar police.) I don't mean being reckless; that's foolish. But surely something is worth risk.

    It's one of the reasons we have trouble understanding the terrorists and islamofascists. For all we disagree with them, they DO have the courage of their convictions. They believe so strongly in their beliefs, they are willing to forego Life itself to achieve it. (Sure, the same can be said of our military, but let's admit it... our military is in no hurry to die - witness all the armor and precautions we take, and just walk up to any Soldier and say "Risk Assessment" to them and watch the eyes.)

    What would You die for? All that we've put into living... what would you chuck it all for? Parents will likely say their children... but, is there anything else? If someone said, you walk into that room, and you're dead... what would you consider to be worth that choice?

    Because, if there's nothing worth dying for... then what are we living for?