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New England, United States
Hi and welcome to my Blog. I use this space as my mental scratchpad. Love it...hate it...agree or disagree...whatever works. I hope you will choose to leave a comment. If you do, know that I respect thoughtful dialogue, intelligent sarcasm, and rational, sane, arguments. Have fun. Please feel free to link to my site and let others know about it. If you wish to use or publish any of my work, you may request permission by e-mailing me through my profile page. Thanks!

Thursday, August 15, 2013

The End of Racism

A lot of people thought racism was over when the first black president was elected.  But, alas it's still alive and well.  Do you know when I think racism will finally be over?  When a white person can publically disagree with or even mock a black president and NOT have it automatically be considered racism.

Friday, December 23, 2011

The Real Meaning of Christmas

CNN.com iReports has a story this week about how atheists celebrate Christmas. Excuse me? They don't. This got me thinking again about the secularization of Christmas. Whether I am preaching to the choir or merely shouting at the rain, I just need to get this off my chest. In reality, I'm responding to the CNN article in here because I'm pretty sure they would never print this.

1: Holidays have religious origins. Christmas is a Christian holiday celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ. Period.

2: If you celebrate the fact that Jesus was born, even if you don't accept His divinity but merely see Him as a prophet or a just a good man with a good heart and good messages worthy of being revered...then, in my opinion, you understand the true meaning of the holiday in some way. If someone you know and love celebrates Christmas and includes you and you respect their beliefs, you also "celebrate Christmas."

3: If Jesus has no part whatsoever in your celebrations...then you aren't "celebrating Christmas." Even if you are doing good deeds, decorating, exchanging presents, getting together with friends and family, singing carols, sending cards, etc. it's not "Christmas." You are certainly celebrating something, and that's fine, don't stop, but you can't REALLY call it Christmas.

4: If item 3 describes you, you aren't a bad person or a hypocrite...you just have different beliefs. That's fine. So say you celebrate the Winter Solstice, Yule, or even Festivus. But Christmas isn't just "something to do" because everyone else seems to. It means something to people. Please respect that.

5: Many of the trappings of Christmas (tree, Santa, Yule log, presents, etc.) were absorbed from local religions supplanted by Christianity over the last two millennia (Yule, Solstice, Saturnalia, etc.). Christians know this. We've been using them for a long time...but we don't own them and they aren't what the holiday is about anyway.

6: Christ may not have been a Capricorn...possibly a Taurus or Gemini. Christians know this too. There are many theories about why Dec 25th was chosen but it's been that way since 386AD. There's no way, short of someone going back with a time machine to check, that it's going to change dates now. Get past it.

7: Freedom of religion does not mean freedom FROM religion. There is nothing about using public lands used for Nativity scenes, a White House Christmas Tree, Merry Christmas in congressional letters, "under God," etc. that violates the establishment clause of the 1st amendment. Nothing!

8: The 1st amendment specifically and ONLY imposed limitations on Congress. Not the president, Supreme Court, states, towns, etc. However, congress and the federal government are allowed to acknowledge religion and recognize its importance to people. It just can't push one over another.

9: Following on #8...Christmas as a national holiday MAY violate the establishment clause...too bad...but it might. But maybe if it had never been a national holiday, we wouldn't be in this whole secularization of Christmas mess in the first place. It would simply be a Christian holiday and we could celebrate it in peace without all the controversy.

I am not the perfect Christian. I don't go to church regularly - or even often. To me, religion is a very private thing and it works best for me that way. But, I still believe, pray and remember what the holiday is really about. If I say Merry Christmas to a non-believer, it's not meant as an insult. Please accept it as it was intended...warmly. If you're a non-believer and you say Merry Christmas to me, that's not wrong, either. I would think you were just being nice if I know you are a non-believer.

But...if you don't want to include Jesus in your celebrations, even if only in your heart, you are not "celebrating Christmas." You are perfectly free to do whatever you like during this time of year, attend celebrations and enjoy everything everyone else is doing. These are all good things. But...you are not "celebrating Christmas." Have the courage of your convictions to call your celebration something else. Please don't attempt to redefine Christmas as something in purely secular terms because you don't understand it or want to be part of it but don't like the "rules." It's still a holiday to many people with a specific meaning. Even if the only place we celebrate it is in our hearts, we do still celebrate the real Christmas.

Merry Christmas to all! Believers and non-believers alike!

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Not What the Constitution is for...

OK, this posting is going to piss off some conservatives, but too bad. Right is right and wrong is wrong. And, it is wrong to seek a constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage. I am not even going to approach the argument as to whether or not such a thing, in and of itself, may or may not be wrong. That is not what this post is about. What I'm talking about is the Constitution. Let me explain...

Several years ago, when my son was in middle school, he was learning about the Constitution and, I could see, having some problems. I decided to ask him some questions to see what he had learned. The first one I asked was "Well, tell me, what do you think the Constitution is?" He readily answered, "It's the document that gives us our freedom." This was the problem he was having. It wasn't that he didn't understand the Constitution. He didn't even know what it was! Unfortunately, it's a common problem shared by many people.

So, I answered my son by saying "No, freedom is our birthright. The Constitution is the document that protects our freedom by strictly defining and limiting the powers of government." It's an important distinction and one that should never be forgotten. The purpose of the Constitution is to protect the citizens of our nation from government intruding on our lives, liberties and our pursuit of happiness. This doesn't mean that people can just do whatever they want; that would be anarchy. Civilization requires rules.

So, to my point, I am strictly opposed to a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage because it's not the purpose of the Constitution to regulate people's behavior. That is what laws are for. The Constitution is for regulating the government's behavior. We misuse the Constitution and risk setting a very dangerous precedence when we propose to turn the Constitution against the very people it was designed to protect.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Be Careful What You Wish For...

Well, the public asked for it, and eight years later their wishes were granted – a president they could share a beer with. As President Obama meets tonight with Sgt. James Crowley of the Cambridge Police Dept. and Prof. Henry Louis Gates Jr. for a beer, talk continues to ensue about the issue of race in America. Personally, there is no doubt in my mind that there is an issue – the apparent wish of well-known figures such as Obama and Gates to inflame a simple misunderstanding into a nationwide racial slur. Apparently, Gates, upon being asked to provide identification before the arrest, became aggressive and verbally attacked the officer, even going as far as referring to Crowley’s mother. When Gates finally exited his house, a measure requested by Crowley for his own safety, he continued to act in a manner ill befitting a man of higher learning, leaving the officers no choice but to place him under arrest. In the first place, this should never have been an issue! Gates was completely within his right to enter his home, but when the police arrived, the proper procedure would have been to cooperate, show identification, explain the situation, file a report, and let it go. Instead, by his actions Gates has opened the door for comments by others, such as “I believe the Cambridge police acted…stupidly.” President Obama's statement alone, especially after he had already admitted to not knowing all the facts, shows to some degree a desire to make a larger issue of this than necessary. Even Obama’s “apology,” in which he stated that he “calibrated his words badly,” does nothing to defuse this situation. And the last resort of diplomacy? A beer at the White House. Seriously people, this is not even an issue in which the President need be involved.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Is all this really necessary?

I don't mean to diminish the contributions to popular music made by Michael Jackson, nor the devotion of his fans. But, aren't we going a little overboard when, on CNN .com last night, almost every section (except travel & SPORTS) has a link to at least one story about Michael Jackson?

Please see below:

CNN.com HOME
Presley: Jackson died 'as he predicted'

WORLD
'Jackson's troubles overshadowed success'

U.S.
Battles over Jackson's kids, assets may loom

POLITICS
House holds moment of silence for Jackson. Are you kidding me?!? How about a moment of silence for their lost dignity and credibility?!? What about Ed McMahon and Farah Fawcett?)

CRIME
Jackson's legal woes likely to live on

ENTERTAINMENT
BET Awards to pay tribute to Jackson

HEALTH
Jackson had history of health problems

TECH
Jackson dies, almost takes Internet with him

TRAVEL
Nothing
(What? Not even about booking flights for the funeral?)

LIVING
Michael Jackson - Essence: His clothes, hats and hair -- an unforgettable style

FORTUNE
Jackson's tour: What might have been (Fortune Magazine)

SPORTS
Nothing

TIME.com
Did Drugs Kill Michael Jackson

Must have been a really, Really, REALLY pathetically friggin' slow news week!!!

Sunday, May 17, 2009

I Hate Euphemisms

In one of his HBO specials from the 1980s, I remember watching George Carlin rant about how euphemisms had invaded our language. He gave examples like "handi-capable" instead of handicapped, or "minimally exceptional" instead of stupid. One of the best examples was the change in the name of the condition ascribed to soldiers whose nerves had been fried from too much combat. In WWI, it was called "shell shock." In WWII, it changed to "battle fatigue." By Korea, it had morphed further into "operational exhaustion." Each time, Carlin would comment on the increasing syllable count and the decreasing connection with sufferer or cause.

By Viet Nam, it had finally settled into "post-traumatic stress disorder." "Still eight syllables," commented Carlin, referring back to operational exhaustion, "but we've added a hyphen...and the pain is completely buried under jargon!" He finished his rant by saying "I'll bet you if we'd of
still been calling it shell shock, some of those Viet Nam veterans might have gotten the attention they needed at the time. I'll betcha. I'll betcha."

This phenomenon is still happening. You have to listen to see it's all around us and getting worse. Employees are now associates. Lay-offs are reductions in force. On the humorous side. Prostitutes are called sex workers and their pimps are called gatekeepers. Nowhere, however, is it more prevalent, and dangerous, than in the discussion of border security.

Follow me on this...

First, they were called "illegal aliens" - simple - direct. They're not Americans, and they've broken our laws getting or staying here. Then, in the early stages of the PC movement, they became "illegal immigrants" - a little softer, after all, aliens evokes images of little green men, not people. Next they were known as "undocumented immigrants." Eight syllables now, and the crime is has been almost completely stripped from the phrase. In fact, calling them undocumented instead of illegal actually makes it sound like it's our fault, doesn't it?

Finally, thankst to the careful twisting and turning of politicians on both sides of the aisle, some lawyers, the ACLU and the media, they are now officially "undocumented workers." Down a syllable, but it highlights the reasons some of them came, and the crime is completely buried under propaganda. Undocumented workers. I'll bet you if we'd of still been calling them "illegal aliens", then border security might have gotten the attention it needed at the time.

And I might not have to "press 1" for English...

And unemployment might be a little lower...

And the 9-11 terrorists might not have been able get in.

I'll betcha.

I'll betcha.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Hillary Clinton is a Whiny, Childish, Spoiled Brat!!!!!

I had to say it. Our Secretary of State is an unprofessional, undisciplined, pompous, sarcastic loudmouth. NEVER, in my life, at least, has a high-ranking member of a sitting administration been so petty and displayed behavior as disgraceful as personally insulting a member of previous administration, let alone a former Vice President. You expect this from private citizens, bloggers, newspapers and even candidates. But not someone who's job it is to be the nation's top diplomat. That's diplomacy??????

I'm so glad she got verbally spanked by Rep. Dana Rhorbacher when testifying before the House Foreign Affairs Committee. I hope President Obama gives her a good talking-to about acting like an adult now that she's sitting at the big-person's table.

Sunday, March 01, 2009

History Repeating Itself?

In the summer of 1976, my family was on vacation at a dude ranch in Westchester, NY during the Republican National Convention. I was only 10-1/2, but I remember watching it eagerly in our room (bunkhouse?) with my Dad. I was already interested in politics at that point and not afraid to run counter to my parents' opinions on some things.

On the choice of President, Dad and I stood on opposite sides. I wanted Gerald Ford to get the nomination. He wanted some guy named Ronald Reagan. He said "Reagan was governor of California and did a great job, and has some great ideas on America and how we should do things at home and abroad." "No way," I said. "Ford has done a good job since being sworn in, and I think if given four years of his own, he would be really great! Besides," I added, "Reagan won't get the nomination...Ford's the incumbent."

Well, we all know what happened. Ford got the nomination, but the "four years of his own" were not to be. The country was jaded and still reeling in skepticism and anti-Nixon bias from Watergate. Ford was Nixon's VP and then went on to pardon his old boss after assuming his job. The GOP didn't have a chance. Jimmy Carter swept into office on the promise of reclaiming America's honor abroad and our pride within. Optimism abounded and liberals were in heaven. Then he started making foreign policy decisions and influencing the economy. The result was run-away double digit inflation, double-digit interest rates, an actual weakening of America's position abroad, increased threats from the Soviet Union and radical Islamic terrorists and an internal slump in pride and morale.

Then came the 1980 presidential campaign. Reagan rode the wave of discontent and gloom created by Carter into office in a landslide victory. The strength, dignity, smarts and economic policies he provided gave us everything Carter promised but couldn't deliver...and more. The thing is, Reagan probably couldn't have won, either, in 1976, because the popular desire for change was too great. If Reagan had gotten the nomination and lost in 1976, he probably wouldn't have been re-nominated in 1980 and we would have missed out on one of the best presidents this country ever had.

Thirty-two years later, Dad and I were once again on opposite sides concerning the choice of a Republican nominee. When the initial slate of prospective candidates had whittled down a bit and our mutual first choice bailed out, I supported John McCain. He wanted some guy named Mitt Romney. He said "Romney was governor of Massachusetts and did a great job. Besides, he's a savvy business man and has some great ideas how to get our economy working again and also on dealing with other countries." "No way," I said, "McCain has done a good job in the senate and I think he is ready for the presidency. Besides," I added, "Romney won't get the nomination... McCain's a war hero."

Well, we all know what happened. McCain got the nomination, but "ready for the presidency" or not, it was not to be. The country was jaded and still reeling in skepticism and anti-Bush bias from Iraq and Gitmo. McCain supported Bush on these and other issues and went on to defend those positions in his campaign. The GOP didn't have a chance. Barak Obama swept into office on the promise of reclaiming America's honor abroad and our pride within. Optimism abounds and the liberals are in heaven. Now he has started making foreign policy decisions and influencing the economy. The result...TBD...

If history is destined to repeat itself, it appears Dad may have been right...just four years ahead of schedule...again!

Stay tuned........

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

The Country Needs New Glasses

The election is over.  We have our President-elect.  I didn't vote for him, but he will be my President, too.  As I learned years ago, you don't have to respect the man (or woman, someday, I'm sure) but you have to respect the office.  Let me be clear that I am speaking professionally and that my respect for Mr. Obama isn't in the negative, it just hasn't yet been earned.  I hope that someday, in spite of my doubts and reservations, that Mr. Obama does things that will also earn my respect for him as a leader.

All that being said, I am bothered by what I have seen in this country since the election: poor winners.  As much as the Democrats and Liberals have decried what they perceived as divisiveness by the Republicans and Conservatives over the past 8 years, they wasted no time diving in to the deep end of the "us and them" pool since their candidate won.  Isn't this behavior supposed to be wrong...for everyone?  Isn't it hurtful? 

I have seen anti-Sarah Palin sites and postings, George Bush count-down clocks, impeach Bush movements.  I even saw someone say someone else's opinion about the country's treatment of President Bush was wrong.  And the language: hateful, vitriolic, aggressive, threatening, insulting, vulgar, base, crass...you get the point.  Is this what the country has to expect for the next four years?  A malignancy of discourse so repugnant and offensive that it scarcely seems worth writing, let alone reading?  Is this what we have become?

Some will say it's President Bush's fault for starting it.  That's it - the little kid's argument from the playground: "he started it."  But, as adults, aren't we supposed to end it by not giving in to the need to spit back.  I can hear it now - the religious mockery with people saying "Bush reaps what he sowed" but tell me, honestly, what rights did you lose under President Bush?  What freedoms were taken?  How did the President lie to you and about what?  Remember - a lie requires deliberate intent to mislead...can you prove that?  How?  And conspiracy theories don't count.  Do you have hard evidence of intent and action.  Would it stand up in court?  Acting on bad information isn't  lying - it's just being wrong.

Look, what we had wasn't perfect, but neither is what's coming.  Neither one hates this country and both want the same things - a safe, secure, prosperous and happy country.  It's only methods that differ, not intent.  As citizens, we just vote for the one we think has the ideas we believe will work.

I hope those of you who elected Mr. Obama will be brave enough to look at him through the same smudged and dirty glasses you used on Mr. Bush.  Be as critical, and cynical, and quick to condemn.  Hold his feet to the proverbial fire every minute of every day of his administration - be it four or eight years long.  Use the same yardstick to measure him to that you used to measure the current President.  Be the first to post everyone of his verbal gaffs on You Tube (c).  That's the stuff real courage and loyalty are made from.

Then, in your free time, put on the other glasses - you know the ones, the rose-colored ones though which you watched Mr. Obama rise to glory, and look back at things President Bush did.  You may find that he wasn't the ogre you pretended he was.   Instead, he was just a man dealing with one of the most difficult times in our country's history the best way his education, experience and conscience told him.

Personally, I have already resolved to be a loyal opposition to Mr. Obama.  I will praise when warranted, criticize when necessary and work very hard to make sure I don't let rhetoric cloud my judgment about which is appropriate.

Monday, November 03, 2008

Should I Stay or Should I Go???

In 2000, Alec Baldwin & Kim Basinger (among other celebrities) stated that if George Bush were elected president, they would leave the country. In 2004. Sean Penn made the same promise. Now, in 2008, Tina Fey, who has made money and increased her marketability as an actress, has states that if McCain and Palin are elected, she's leaving Earth.

It's interesting that I never hear Republican's or Conservatives saying that they'll leave if their candidate isn't elected. Perhaps it's because we know that regardless of who wins, it's still our country. In this case, it may also be because if Obama does win, we'll all have a lot of work to do to clean up all the messes he'll make.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Something to Lighten the Mood

OK, so we're all worried about the economy and the Wall Street bail-out. Should they...shouldn't they? I have a friend in the financial business that keeps me informed of the "word on the street" but still there is a lot to be said for perspective. His position from where he sits could be over-dramatic or mine, from my window in the "cheap-seats" could be laisse-faire.

A lot of people at work are comparing notes on where their investments are, how stable or not, how much they dropped. I don't do that. In spite of my blatantly outgoing nature, there are some things I do keep private. So, if you would like to keep people from pestering you about your investments and stay out of the economy war-story swap-a-thons, just tell them what I say.

"I use the investment firm of Mason Talon and Winchester. I have mason jars buried in the yard, a zipper on the side of my mattress and a shotgun next to the bed. I'm all set!"

It works every time.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Follow-on Debate Question

I have a follow-on question for Senator Obama.

Senator Obama said (and I paraphrase) that he wants to drill for domestic oil and gas, repair roads and bridges, build windmills, create a solar power infrastructure, create bio-fuel refineries and build nuclear power plants. I presume that since he also wants to create jobs, one thing he is looking at is bolstering our sagging manufacturing industries by having the US make more goods, especially in light of the environmental scares associated with buying everything from toxic China.

Senator Obama also said he wants every child to go to college in this country. Well, if he achieves that goal, just who does he suppose is going to do all the drilling, repairing, building and manufacturing? People with college degrees don't do those types of jobs. Or, maybe, that's what he wants all the illegal aliens for.

It's a sad state of affairs when a nation, its leaders or prospective leaders only measure success by the attainment of a college degree. It is this misconception, that everyone must go to college, that has helped fuel the decline of our nation's manufacturing infrastructure, trades and service industries. Not everyone is suited for college. That statement is not meant as a derision of the intelligence or talent of people who don't attend college. Instead, it is a recognition of the diversity of talent that abounds in our nation.

Some people will find their success along a path that does not include college. To force them to do something that stalls, inhibits or prevents them from realizing and contributing to their fullest potential because it doesn't support someone's personal measure of success is narrow minded and short sighted. It cheapens them, and it also cheapens those do attend college.

Everybody ought to feel as though their job is important enough for them to wear a tuxedo or formal gown to work, even if it is wholly impractical to do so. Our leaders need to recognize that and not make pursuing a life without college as somehow beneath a person's dignity.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

When the Party's Over!

The CT legislature has been considering a measure that would allow seventeen year-olds vote in primaries if they will be eighteen by the time of the general election. Some are for this, some are against. Those in favor cite fairness, those against use the "rules are rules" argument.

My position??? Sure, why not?!?

Now I know what you're going to say...I'm giving in to liberals. Perhaps they may think so, but I'm not giving in to anyone. I said "sure, why not" because it doesn't matter. These are primaries. Political parties are nothing more than private clubs trying to pick which of their members they wish to financially endorse for a particular political office. Let people vote at 10 in primaries. Hold contests for kindergarteners and let the one that draws the best picture of the White House pick the nominee. Survey Outer Mongolia while you're at it for all I care. It doesn't matter one bit whose opinion they get on who to nominate, as long as only citizens 18 and over vote in the general elections.

Facetious, you say? You betcha!

Illegal, not one damn bit.

The sad fact is that political parties have placed constrictions on elections by shutting out potential candidates. The Constitution does not mention political parties. In fact, the word "party" only appears four times in the entire document, but is used in a legal context, referring to a person, defendant or claimant. Now, that does not deny political parties the right to exist or to nominate one of their own for any political office.

It does, however, make plain that political parties are outside the normal workings of government and aside from their right to exist, have no specific or granted authority within the establishments of government. Some people think that the Speaker of the House or President pro tempore of the Senate is supposed to be from the party with the largest representation in each chamber. Uh-uh. It just always turns out that way because partisanship has become so prevalent in our government.

Remember the warning George Washington gave in his farewell address about the rise of political parties:

"However [political parties] may now and then answer popular ends, they are likely in the course of time and things, to become potent engines, by which cunning, ambitious, and unprincipled men will be enabled to subvert the power of the people and to usurp for themselves the reins of government, destroying afterwards the very engines which have lifted them to unjust dominion."

GEORGE WASHINGTON, Farewell Address, Sep. 17, 1796

So, what does all this mean?

It means that parties may use any means they see fit (so long as they do not violate other established laws) to determine who they wish to nominate and support for office. If they want to allow seventeen year-olds to vote under certain restrictions, I say go for it.

If we want to see an end to partisanship, at least in presidential elections, one way might be for there to be a Constitutional amendment requiring that Presidential elections may not be set up along party lines. People running may belong to any party they desire, of course, but there can be no more "and the Democratic/Republican/Green nominee is..." If something like that were the process now, then the slate of candidates might look very different this year, indeed! You'd probably see Romney, Huckabee, McCain, Clinton and Obama all opposing each other - as well as a whole host others. Wow...REAL choice...what a concept.

I would also love to see a two step election process. The first election would be likely be an electoral split between several candidates. The second election would be a run-off between the two candidates who get the largest number of electoral votes in the first. Imagine that! It could actually be a final election where it's Hillary vs. Obama or Romney vs. McCain. Again, I say, why not - if that's how it turns out?

Again, real choice to decide. Oh, if only...

Saturday, August 30, 2008

A Question of Experience

Kudos to John McCain for his selection of Sarah Palin as his running mate. I think it was a good pick. Obviously, if you consider the campaign to be a chess game, then this was brilliant because it completely nullifies the "firstness" of the Democratic ticket. But I like the choice for reasons other than Governor Palin's gender.

First, I like her history of bucking the trend in the GOP because it has become stodgy. She is an individual who sticks to her beliefs, and though many are along already established GOP lines, she is definitely not, pardon the expression, a member of the "old-boy network."

Second, she is a constitutionalist. I respect that she looks at the constitutionality of legislation and not her personal views - case in point the legislation on providing partner benefits to gay couples. She's against gay marriage, but upon consultation, her Attorney General said legislation banning benefits would be against the Alaska constitution, so she vetoed it. This may not be popular with many hard core Conservatives, but it's fair and that is what a President needs to be.

Next, I think it was a smart pick because Ms. Palin does not need to confront any prior statements attacking her running mate, as Mr. Biden will (or should). By picking someone outside the Presidential race, McCain has avoided controversy and created a unified ticket from day one. One of the worst things that can happen to a candidate is to start their run as an apologist for themselves.

Lastly, and maybe most important...of all four people running on the Dem & GOP tickets, she actually has the most practical and relevant experience to the job of President because she has been a chief executive twice. She was a mayor, albeit of a small town, then Governor of a state. She has had to deal with legislative bodies, sign or veto bills, confront lobbyists, provide balance between the branches - all the things presidents have to do. If the Republicans win in November, she will have the perfect position from which to build on that experience.

Given Senator Obama's abysmal attendance and voting record, how can he really attack her on experience, anyway? Oh, I can see the slogan now:

"Why wait for a tragedy to get an inexperienced President? Save time and elect one from the start! I'm Barack Obama and I approved this message"

Right...that'll work!

Friday, August 15, 2008

Words of Wisdom...

Ever since last Friday something my contemporary history professor in college said has been going around and around in my head. This was in 1986...when we didn't realize we were in the bottom of the ninth of the cold war. The goings-on of the Soviet union was always a hot topic and being in an engineering school, most of us were pretty conservative. To the best of my recollection, his exact words were:

"Russians don't behave the way they do because they're Czarist or Bolshevik or Communist. They behave that way because they're Russians."

'Nuff said!

Monday, August 11, 2008

A Numbers Game

(Note: Most of this I have said before...but it bears repeating.)

The three branches of our government, about which we were all taught in grade school (one hopes), consist of 545 people:

Legislative Branch: 435 Representatives & 100 Senators

Executive Branch: 1 President

Judicial Branch: 9 Supreme Court Justices

This coming election day, 470 (or 86%) of these people are up for re-election.

Why are we spending all our time worrying about only one?

Constitutionally, the President is pretty impotent in that he can do very little without the advice and consent of Congress. Sadly, people have forgotten about our representatives in the House and Senate, bypassing them completely and placing all their hopes, praise and blame on the President. But that is not how our government is supposed to work. By design, that was intentional - why do you think the the Legislative Branch (congress) is in Article 1 and it is so long whereas the Executive Branch is discussed second in Article 2 and it is so much shorter? The President is only the leader of our republic - our union of sovereign states. He or She is not directly responsible to us - our Representatives in the House are. The leader of our Democracy is really the Speaker of the House - currently Ms. Nancy Pelosi of California.

Politics, like nature, abhors a vacuum. If the President seeks Congress' input, and we haven't been writing or calling our representatives regularly supplying it, then all they have to go on is their own opinions. While that may be appropriate at times for Senators, it is not for representatives. But, how many people even know who their Representative in the House is? If we, as citizens, aren't stepping up to our responsibilities and don't force our government to work the way the Constitution dictates, then we share the blame with our Representatives when abuses occur.

The remedy is clear. First, we must clean house - literally. All 435 members of the House of Representatives should be seriously challenged for their jobs, and many should be replaced. Let's give another meaning to the percentage up for re-election and really think about 86ing the dead wood! Second, we need to make sure the newly elected President and Congressmen, regardless of who they may be, truly understand the Constitutional limits of their jobs. Third, we as a citizenry need to become more vocal and remind those who we elected to represent us for whom they really work and that we are constantly watching.

Friday, August 08, 2008

Down The Rabbit Hole

It seems Congressman Kucinich is no longer alone in Wonderland. Recently, certain members of the U.S. Congress have followed him down the rabbit hole of partisan politics, led by Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi. In the past month, Ms. Pelosi, and several of her peers, have not only attacked the President, but have also essentially turned tail and fled the House to avoid having to so much as debate the controversial issue of offshore drilling. What is it you’re afraid of, Ms. Pelosi? Staging a walkout has most likely just strengthened the resolve of your Conservative peers and their supporters.

In addition to not making tactical sense, Ms. Pelosi’s action has also shown a sad lack of character which is essential to the position she so happily occupies. How can there possibly be any issue which is so hot that it can’t even be touched by the supposed representatives of the people? I’m curious as to how many liberals actually support the cowardly action of the Speaker and their representatives.

No leader in America should have the right to singularly deny open debate on an issue. The Constitution was created supremely for the purpose of eliminating the ability for one person to have absolute power over which issues are debated, yet it seems that this point of our history has escaped Ms. Pelosi's attention.

As the nation barrels on toward the November elections, I'm sure the authors of the document fundamental to forming today’s government would be spinning in their graves hearing how it is being misquoted and misused day after day by those sworn to uphold it.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Kicinich in Wonderland!

Dennis Kucinich is truly living in Wonderland. Sadly, as I read the comments on CNN regarding the Congressman's latest attempt to introduce articles of impeachment against George Bush, it seems that many Americans have joined him. Repeated cries of "Impeach Bush" smack of everything from ignorance to revenge to desperation. Fortunately, they have little connection to reality and at least the majority of the Congress understands that. But, as I said, one of the things this call smacks of is ignorance and sadly, many Americans have not even read the Constitution - the very document they claim the President has violated. I know this because if they had read it, not only would they know that the President hasn't violated the Constitution, but they would also know that things like healthcare, abortion, gay marriage and education are not within the authority of the federal government to regulate - instead they are the responsibilities of the states.

Next, I mention revenge - specifically for the impeachment of President Clinton. Well, as I have said many times, President Clinton was not, I repeat, WAS NOT impeached for having an affair. He was also not impeached for lying about the affair in his famous "I did not have sexual relations" speech. President Clinton was impeached for the crime of perjury. If you consult a dictionary, perjury is defined as "the willful giving of false testimony under oath or affirmation, before a competent tribunal, upon a point material to a legal inquiry." The fact that he gave false testimony about the affair is irrelevant. He could have lied about what he had for breakfast that morning. It doesn't matter. The point is he lied, under oath. That is a felony. As a lawyer, he should be well aware of the definition of perjury...even if he doesn't know the exact definition of the word "is." He also willingly obstructed the investigation. Another impeachable offense.

Lastly, I mention desperation. People are so emotional about Bush that they will do anything to see him out of office - even make up claims. But, President Bush has committed no crimes against US laws or the Constitution. All his actions have been taken with the full advice and consent of the Congress - per the requirements of the Constitution. If they hadn't been, he WOULD have been impeached long ago. There is no evidence he knowingly used false reasons for invading Iraq. All the intelligence we had from our own sources as well as those of other countries pointed to Saddam Hussein working hard to develop chemical, biological and nuclear weapons. In fact, Hussein admitted as much in his ~12,000 page report to the UN - he said he destroyed the programs. So, if he destroyed them, he must have had them in the first place. The problem is that his say-so that he destroyed them wasn't enough. The UN resolutions required verification and Hussein didn't cooperate fully - in some cases, barely at all.

It's ironic, actually. We went into Iraq in the first place to support 14 UN resolutions calling for Iraq to disarm. The UN is the Demo-libs' baby and we're supposed to kowtow to it's alleged wisdom and authority. So why do people get all in a tizzy when we decide to put teeth behind the UN's resolutions? The resolutions did say (to paraphrase) destroy and verify or else. Well, we finally provided the or else. We weren't alone, either, you know. Is the UN calling for war-crimes trials against the US or any of its leaders? Not that I've heard. After all, only they can truly try someone for global issues and general crimes against humanity...not us. I mean, we don't run the world. We may fund, feed, clothe, medicate, rescue, rebuild and defend much of the world, acts for which we get little or no credit or praise whatsoever, but we don't run it. However, the Demo-libs think we are trying to. And because of their anger that their golden boy fell from grace, they will continue to cry impeachment anytime a Republican President says "boo."

Personally, I think the "party of the people" should stick to what it has historically been best at:

* raising taxes
* increasing spending
* raising the rate of inflation
* chasing businesses and jobs overseas with over-regulation
* limiting the free speech of its opponents
* keeping minorities down and buying votes with impotent social programs
* usurping the rights of the states to govern themselves
* allowing run-away public excesses of otherwise private behavior
* limiting citizen's rights to protect themselves
* stealing citizens' homes in the name of eminent domain
* protecting murderers from execution while allowing late term abortions

Surely, with all these things on their agenda, they should have little time to add the folly of inappropriate impeachment proceedings.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Thoughts on Nancy Pelosi

If you go to the Department of Energy website, you can download US Government data on gas price averages. Just looking at the data every year from Bush's first inauguration to today (ignoring intermittent ups and downs), you will see the following:

22 Jan 2001 $1.51
21 Jan 2002 $1.15
20 Jan 2003 $1.50
19 Jan 2004 $1.64
24 Jan 2005 $1.90
23 Jan 2006 $2.38
22 Jan 2007 $2.22
21 Jan 2008 $3.07
14 Jul 2008 $4.08

So, what does this show? It shows that during the first 6 years of Bush's presidency, gas prices rose only $0.71 total, or an average of about $0.12 per year. Since January 2007 when the Democrat led 110th Congress took over with Nancy Pelosi as Speaker, gas prices have risen $1.86 in 1-1/2 years, or an average of 1.24 per year...10 times Bush's 6 year average and over 2.5 times Bush's worst yearly average of $0.48 (2005-06).

Similarly, unemployment took a precipitous rise following Ms. Pelosi assuming the leadership of the House. This after President Bush and the three previous congresses had fought the number back down following 9/11. Additionally, although the Consumer Price Index has experienced discrete ups and downs every 4-6 months over the last 16 years, there was no discernable trend other than increasing magnitude of fluctuations. However, since June 2007, the graph shows a definite increasing trend.

Prices and indicators fluctuate and things could change dramatically for the better in the next 6 months, but the data doesn't trend that way. Are these the result of Bush's bad policies finally taking effect or is the fact that they happened immediately or shortly after Ms. Pelosi became Speaker an indication of a national lack of confidence with congress - as is indicated by the lowest ever approval rating?

I think before Ms. Pelosi calls the President a total failure, she should see to her own record of leadership. If President Bush is a total failure as the leader of our republic, then the data shows that Ms. Pelosi is an utter abomination as the leader of our democracy.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

A Question for Mr. Gore

I have some questions for Mr. Gore.

What if, even if everyone follows all of your suggestions to the letter, we can't stop global warming?

I ask because in spite of our best efforts and intentions, it is entirely possible that we may not be able to stop the environment from changing. In that event, shouldn't we have a back-up plan? Something like, I don't know, how to live on a warmer planet? Take energy, for example. We know how bad things are now with everyone worried about heating oil prices. What will happen when the problem of staying warm in the winter becomes dwarfed by how to stay cool in the summer? What about mass migration of termites North into warmer climes where wood framed houses are the norm? How about mosquitoes? You think they're bad now?

I think I know why Mr. Gore, the great humanitarian, isn't bothering to tell us what to do in case the worst happens. Because he doesn't believe the worst will happen. Mr. Gore is a con artist. He is also a the worst nightmare of all of us who work in scientific fields. He's a layman with an agenda trying to explain scientific principles to other laymen. He is dangerous.

See my previous posting A Perspective on Global Warming.

What about this scenario, instead?

What if Mr. Gore knows the worst really won't happen. But, if he tells us it will, and scares us enough into actions (regardless that they may have no real effect on the climate), when nothing does happen, he's a hero. And he'll ride that wave into the White House, or at least the history books. It's fool proof. The problem is that most people (laymen or not) are not fools.

A conspiracy theory? Maybe. But I could swear I've heard this before. Oh yeah, now I remember. It's the same thing liberals have been saying about President Bush and the possibility of another terrorist attack. They say it's all hype and he uses scare tactics to maintain his power base.

There is one difference, however. The planet doesn't hate us and hasn't specifically said that it wants us dead.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

There Can Be No "No-Show" Voters

Recently the talk among Republicans is how many who don't like John McCain
have decided they will boycott the general elections altogether and stay
home. Well, if you're going to do that, why not take it all the way and GO
to the polls and vote for Hilary Clinton or Barack Obama. After all, either
way the result is the same. Let's do a thought experiment and check it out:

* 100 people can vote, 50 Republicans, 50 Democrats
* 25 Republicans don't like their nominee, so they stay home
* The Democrat wins 50 to 25.
* If the 25 who stayed home voted for the Democrat instead, the margin
would be 75 to 25.

Either way, the Democrat wins, so they might as well just show their true
colors and go out and vote for the Democrat. However, if they think about
it for a minute and compare the good and bad between both party's
candidates, they may realize something important. Although Sen. McCain was
not their first choice (or in my case, not the second or third, either),
they may realize that he far better supports a majority of what they stand
for than does the Democratic candidate. At least that's how I came to my
decision to support the gentleman from Arizona.

I started out supporting Fred Thompson. Then, after he withdrew, I hovered
between Romney and Huckabee. When it appeared McCain had secured the
nomination, I thought about the possibility of supporting Senator Obama
(Senator Clinton was never even an option). So, I watched a couple of the
Democratic debates. What I saw, forced me to take a serious look at both
candidates and I did a side by side comparison. What I realized was that
although I disagreed with McCain on some issues, I disagreed with Obama on
more. The result? I will be supporting John McCain for president.

I strongly urge those Republicans thinking of sitting this one out to
consider, very carefully, the consequences of their actions. Not showing up
could very possibly lead to the election of a candidate with whom they
disagree much more than Senator McCain. If that happens, they must bear the
responsibility for anything a Democratic president does the same as if they
had voted for him/her themselves.

Think it over!

You may disagree with Senator McCain, but remember: sometimes you get to
vote for the candidate you want; sometimes you need to vote against the one
you don't want more!

Monday, March 10, 2008

Thought For The Day

The age of social conscience, social justice and concern
seems to have coincided with the age of crime, pornography,
mugging and international terrorism. What started out as
a liberalization of restrictive social conventions seems
to have developed into a dictatorship of license.

- Prince Philip of Great Britain -

Sunday, March 09, 2008

Questions for Environmentalists

I have some questions for environmentalists...

1: Do you know what is the proper amount of CO2 in the atmosphere...by
percentage? Does anyone?

2: How much has atmospheric CO2 increased over the last 50 years? 100
years?

3: How do you know the majority of the additional CO2 is man made?

4: What part does the interaction between the atmosphere, solar radiation
and the Earth's magnetic field play?

5: What are all the variables that affect the global average temperature?

6: How do you know that CO2 is a cause of increased global temperature
instead of an indicator of it?

7: If reducing atmospheric CO2 levels fast enough to stop global warming
isn't possible, shouldn't we also be thinking of ways to adapt to living in
a warmer world?

8: Is it true that just breaking the soil to grow corn for biofuels releases
vast amounts of trapped CO2 into the atmosphere?

9: What can be done to reduce the dead zone in the Gulf of Mexico caused by
pesticides washed down the Mississippi River from the Midwest?

10: Wouldn't the dead zone increase if farmers grow even more corn, which
requires large amounts of pesticides?

11: The ice caps are getting thicker. Wouldn't the increased pressure cause
them to move faster towards the sea and therefore cleave of more frequently?

12: I used to hear that everything we used to get from whales can be made
synthetically, but where would we be allowed to build the chemical plants?

13: People won't adopt new technology if its too expensive. Bringing prices
down requires increased efficiency - which requires time - sometimes
decades. Wouldn't it be wise to find cheap, domestic sources of oil in the
mean time and continue to improve it?

14: France is almost completely powered by nuclear energy. It sounds like
they've figured it out. Shouldn't we model their system to help reduce our
dependence on oil?

Just thought I'd ask...

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Primary Seconds

Disgruntled.

Disenfranchised.

Ambivalent.

Those adjectives, contradictory and mutually exclusive as they may be, begin to explain how I feel on Super Tuesday. Oh, I voted, alright, but I didn't actually vote for anyone today...and I won't be voting for anyone in November. Nope, today, my vote was against someone, as it will be in November.

You're confused? Think how I feel! The problem I am facing is that with Fred Thompson out of the race, there are no candidates for whom I can muster any great enthusiasm. I know who I don't want for one or more reasons. But, when I remove those people from the equation, what's left leaves me feeling like I just ate a three course meal made entirely of air...I not only want more...I need more.

Not one of the candidates really speaks for me. With two of them, it's actually painful to listen to them say anything (one from each party). Another says some things I like, but his chances make the perverbial "snowball's chance in hell" seem like a sure thing. So, I'm left with luke warm enthusiasm as I prepare for a general presidential election where I cannot play wide-receiver or punter. Instead, I'm just a tackle - my only job to sack the other team's QB before he can pass.

I know defense has it's place - they're important, too. But I've been doing that so long. The last really enthusiastic vote I cast for President was my first in 1984, for Ronald Reagan. Since then, it's been down hill. I'd like to think we've hit bottom, but people can get pretty banal, so it could get worse.

God help us if it does.

Monday, January 07, 2008

Logic for the Death Penalty

Someone with whom I worked once presented a truly insightful analogy on the reason he supports the death penalty. I offer it now for your consideration.

"When someone has cancer, they go to the doctor and the tumor is removed. Now, does the doctor place the tumor in a Petri dish, wait for the tumor to become nice cells and then put them back in the patient? No, he destroys them. Murderers are cancers on the body of our society. Once convicted, they should be executed."

This makes complete sense to me. Obviously, we need to be sure - not just beyond a reasonable doubt - but 100% sure. And the crime must warrant death - self defense, accidents, negligence don't qualify in my opinion. But violent, pre-meditated, in the commission of a crime, or of a police officer - for these things justice should be swift and certain. While I wouldn't deliberately try to make the killers suffer during the execution, if it happened at times...I wouldn't cry, either.