Friday, September 11, 2015

I have no mouth and... 

On September 10, 2001 we felt secure and at peace with the world. On the other hand, Al Qaeda had clearly and openly declared for years that they were in a state of war against the evil United States, and had, on many occasions, struck at our people and interests in furtherance of that war. The next morning, on September 11, 2001, Al Qaeda once again struck at their enemy, this time in a way and on a scale that shattered the illusions of peace and security that so many had enjoyed just the day before.

On September 10, 2015, a minority of Senators, against the wishes of most Americans and, in the eyes of many Constitutional scholars, in abrogation their Constitutional duties, have endorsed the President's desire to willfully shroud our nation's eyes in the mantle of the same false sense of peace and security. On the other hand, the Islamic Republic of Iran has clearly and openly declared for years that they are in a state of war against the evil United States, and has, on many occasions, struck at our people and interests in furtherance of that war. For reasons that are known only to themselves, this minority is now proudly crowing of their political success, while the majority with clear sight are left to count down until the new 9/11 is visited upon us, funded at least in part by our very own money.

I am more concerned about seeing humans burn by nuclear fire within my lifetime now than I even was while sailing alert patrols on a ballistic missile submarine during the Cold War. The inevitable rise of a nuclear capable Iran is addressed by so many pundits as just the coming of a new Cold War, but I sadly disagree. Soviet Communism was an explicitly atheistic philosophy that promised the worker's paradise here on this earth. As such, they had a vested interest in living and the continued existence of an earth that would support this paradise. Islamic apocalyptic theology, however, is an explicitly faith-based philosophy that promises a paradise not here, but in the next world after death. The Soviet people could look at their lives and compare it with what they heard on Voice of America or saw in smuggled movies or experienced in brief interaction and they knew the Communist promise of a worker's paradise was a lie, and deep down even the most party-loyal leaders knew it, too. Certainly it was not a lie worth plunging the world into nuclear genocide and endless winter. For those faithful to the Islamic jihad cause, though, the horrible conditions in which they may live only serves to reaffirm that the theology must be right, that the next world must be better, if only one is faithful enough and serves Allah as he or she is told. For this one, their reward is not to be had here, and there is no way for their beliefs to be empirically disproved. By the very definition, their motivation is not logic but faith based.

The actions taken by the President and his faithful may not inevitably lead to a nuclear attack against the United States, but it certainly has greatly improved the odds of such. I am, however, convinced that their action, taken for for whatever temporal reasons, will at a minimum undoubtedly lead to the premature and violent death of many people: Americans, Iranians, probably Israeli, and quire possibly in many other nations in the region. We are today witnesses to the infancy of the next great humanitarian tragedy in world history, and I feel like I can do nothing but scream in impending horror.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Break the Rules and You Get No Bone 

There should be grave personal consequences for those Democrats who go against the wishes of their constituency and vote for whatever bill it is that eventually leads to enactment of Obamacare. This is especially true for those who are deemed "Blue Dogs." This has been repeated communicated and, at this point, any Congressman who is determined to votes "Yea" in the face of these warnings is beyond redemption and further entreaties are wasted efforts. Having sufficiently brandished the stick, it is now the time for Republicans and conservatives to whip out their carrots in order to try and convince the undecided why it is a good idea to vote "Nay."

First, how much is defeating this effort worth? Personally, I believe it's worth quite a bit. With this in mind, I would encourage every Republican, Libertarian, or conservative represented by one of the current fence-sitters to communicate to their representative how voting against the bill personally benefits them. Let them know, in no uncertain terms, that supporting their vote transcends party or philosophical boundaries. Let them know that their "Nay" in March directly translates to your "Yea" in November. Let them know that in 2010 you are a one-issue voter and regardless of how you may have voted in the past, should they help defeat this massive government grab, you'll be voting for a Democrat for House this year. Let them know that with the right vote now you will pledge give their opponent neither time nor money. What can Pelosi et. al. (who very possibly may be out of power next year, after all) offer them that is better than an easy reelection.

This vote happens once, but there will be another Congressional election in 2012. I don't care how much you want to claim that seat, it's worth it to grant the Democrat incumbent a two-year breather to kill this effort.

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Friday, December 11, 2009

One more red nightmare 

While I agree with much of what the President said in Oslo, I am cautious about believing that I really know what he meant. As John Stewart has been prone to point out lately, if one removes the byline this could just as easily been a speech given by the President in 2004, a President, incidentally, that both Senator and candidate Obama frequently and vehemently repudiated. Like many Obama speeches, though, there were significant places that required the audience to "fill in the blank," and therein lies the details.

While going on at length about the sometimes necessity of fighting, he was rather vague about the actual principles upon which this necessity might hinge. Judging from his administration's unwillingness to even engage diplomatically on the side of freedom and democracy in either Honduras or Iran (and actually officially siding against it in the case of the former), it seems fair to conjecture that this is not a principle upon which this President would rather fight than switch. Amongst the specifics he does mention, though, we find "human rights" and "economic injustice."

While it is difficult for anyone to find fault with the first in general, this very universal acknowledgement and acceptance has, in the last couple of decades, meant the co-opting of this rather nebulous phrase by almost anyone or any group advocating for anything. Some, for example, believe the causes of government guaranteed universal housing, food and health care fall under the banner of "human rights." Based upon his domestic legislative priorities, one might feel comfortable assuming the President falls more into this camp than any other. Considering that the President has often expressed confidence in the UN, perhaps we should explore some of what they believe are human rights, as set forth in their Universal Declaration of Human Rights: (emphasis added, comments in italics) More disturbing for me, though, is his stated commitment to some idea of "economic injustice." While I might consider it unjust for a government to excessively tax its citizens or impose unreasonable restrictions on their freedom to engage in private, mutually beneficial economic agreements with other citizens, I somehow have a hunch this wasn't exactly what he was thinking about as he penned these words. In fact, if one were to Google "economic injustice," the entire first page concerns the advocacy of government-sponsored efforts to redistribute wealth to redress economic disparity between citizens. Characteristic of this sentiment is the 2005 essay by Jason Miller on a site called Metaphoria, which agonizes that "[s]tarting with Iraq, President Bush has dedicated himself to exporting economic injustice." Obviously it is far better to have oppressive despotism fueling uniform squalor (except for those favored by the ruling elite) than to have an environment of greater personal freedom that might allow some to achieve greater economic success than others. Again, judging from previous words and actions I can't help but believe that President Obama is espousing a support of this more conventional understanding of the phrase.

All of which leads to some interesting questions, if only one were to ask. If, as he said, the President believes "that a nation's hostility towards human rights and economic injustice cannot be allowed to thrive," and if we accept the concepts of "human rights" and "economic injustice" as outlined above, then how does that belief square against both the laws and capitalistic economic model of the very country he leads? Would one be justified in concluding that this has everything to do with his pledge to fundamentally remake the country? Or will we be encouraged by our "betters" to, once again, ignore the man behind the curtain and pay attention to the smoke and mirrors he presents instead?

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Friday, October 09, 2009

I am Superman, and I Can Do Anything 

If I had access to a highly public forum, I'd suggest that all who find the Obama Peace Prize to be the height of ridiculous to up the ante. Use your influence to honor and award The OneTM for any and all accomplishments. I can just imagine the fun when Obama is suddenly inundated with:


Thursday, October 30, 2008

You Have Set the World on Fire 

What with an unscientific estimate of half of Sen. Obama's supporters thinking they've found the new messiah I'm getting more and more pessimistic about the upcoming election. Not the results as to who will win (I remain, for reasons unexplainable, borderline optimistic that Sen. McCain will once again previal against the odds and conventional wisdom), but the effects after regardless of whomever is declared the victor.

If you tired of ridiculous conspiracy theories and mindless hating after Bush beat Gore in 2000, then stand by for worse if McCain wins in 2008. After all, how could McCain possibly defeat the Chosen One except for cheating, racism of the electorate or a diabolical combination of the two. The millions of white supporters gained by Sen. Obama will be forgotten. The fact that he, despite a paucity of content, ran a formidible campaing and came within striking distance and was, throughout the process, treated as a serious and respected opponent by all but the most mindless and blatant racists will be forgotten. The "R" in the win column will be all the evidence required by the Rev. Wrights of this country to confirm every silly idea about the white devils they've ever dreamed up.

And if Jesus Jr. does pull through and come out on top? Inside six months there will be legions still wondering when their pony will be coming. And if there's one thing I've learned from living the past decade in a majority minority city it's that black Democrat politicians are masters at convincing their constituency that their failure to produce any real meaningful improvements in government or community isn't their fault, but still a problem with the racist history of America or institutionalized racism or any other problem letting them pass the buck on in order to keep getting reelected. Sorry if I seem cynical about this, but you can frequently tell in this town when election season is coming up by the volume of allegations of racism raised.

Sorry, no answers from me, just doom and gloom today.

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Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Resources to Save the Poor from Their Lot 

In thinking of both Sen. Obama's proposed "tax cut" and the sub-prime mortgage crisis I keep hearing the chorus from Arrested Development's song "Give a Man a Fish." Rare is the man who has been raised from his social and economic conditions without having to do the lion's share of the work himself. The dirty secret that politicians are loathe to admit but I will say without prejudice is that in most cases there is a reason those in poverty stay in poverty and in today's America it rarely has to do with oppression or institutionalized anything-ism.

Poverty produces poverty for the simple reason that it doesn't know how not to. If you give every family in poverty $1000 today you'd end up with a bunch of poor folks watching some really nice LCD HDTV sets but very little actual improvement in their general standard of living. Likewise, extending shaky credit to unsteady borrowers at the government's bequest was, from any objective position, a bad idea. Yet there was the perpetual idea that putting someone in a nicer house with a little money in their pockets would result in a mystical metamorphosis that would alter their entire lives and that of their children without having to do the heavy lifting of changing their economic patterns. It was nice to give big, three bedroom fish to all those hungry folks, but what are they eating today?

I said before the I say this without prejudice, and by that I mean that there is nothing intrinsic in the poor that requires they stay poor or that being poor reduces their worth as people. But being poor is not a phenomenon, but often rather the logical result of a pattern of behavior. Ask any entry-level employer and they'll tell you one of their biggest problems is just getting people to show up for work and doing it on time. I see it at my daughters' school, where I volunteer to help with morning traffic. The tardy bell rings and still the parents are pulling in or walking up with their kids, usually with no sense of urgency at all. And this is at a good school in a middle-class neighborhood. It pains me no end to see the bad lesson these parents are demonstrating daily to their children. (I am sure others have looked on me with the same complaint, but as this essay is addressing poverty and contributing factors I'll give myself a pass at this time)

If you really want to reduce poverty, then help develop a good work ethic to allow a person to get, keep and excel in a job. After that, teach budgeting skills and the idea of delayed gratification in order to encourage savings. Use that savings and economic sense to secure a conventional mortgage and you've taught that fellow how to fish and not just given him a meal. You've provided him with tools that allow him to make a secure economic base for himself and his family.

This, then, is what I see as the heart of the anti-redistribution sentiment felt by many Americans. Help out your neighbor, educate the poor, but handout after handout just prompts the response of, to quote one of my least favorite songs ever, "what have you done for me lately?" Unless a person changes their patterns of behavior it is folly to believe that the results of giving them $1,000 or $10,000 would be too different from giving them $20.

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Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Over there in Barrytown they do things very strange 

Accounts of the attempted "swiftboating" of McCain by former POW Phillip Butler has been noted by both sides of the political sphere, and generally regarded as unwarranted by most. Let me both offer both a caution and a little insight into the matter.

First, I want to caution others against unfairly disparaging Dr. Phillip Butler, as some commenters have done. He is a combat decorated Naval Aviator and former POW and deserves our respect for his service and sacrifice. Beyond that, though, while his opinion may be contrary to yours, I saw nothing in that video that was rude or disrespectful to Sen. McCain, and I feel that Dr. Butler, just on a level of human decency, at least deserves the same consideration.

It is fair, however, to examine both the messenger and those who would give him greater voice. On the latter, it has already been noted how the ad sponsor, Democracy for America, was not only founded by DNC chairman Howard Dean and currently run by his brother, Jim Dean, but quite clearly identifies itself as a "grassroots powerhouse working to change our country and the Democratic Party from the bottom-up" that is dedicated to "support[ing] progressive issues and candidates up and down the ballot." Now there's nothing wrong with this group putting out any ad it chooses, but it is less than honest for some, like Talking Point Memo, to call them an "independent group" or to compare this ad made and sponsored by what may in fairness be viewed as an adjunct to the Democrat party to those previously done by SBVT, a group that included many from both parties.

As to Dr. Butler, it is fair to note that, in contrast to the SBVT, he is but a single voice. But should that make his message less important? If it is an important message, perhaps not, but I contend that it may not be. In fact, Sen. McCain's experiences as a POW and his "infamous reputation for being a hot head" are only two of many reasons Dr. Butler expressed in his article "Why I Will Not Vote for John McCain" published at military.com on March 27, 2008. Among the other reasons cited are the standard laundry list of Democrat talking points:One may also fairly question if Dr. Butler's current position as a "peace and justice activist with Veterans for Peace" should also be taken into consideration. I think knowing his professional and presumably heartfelt association with a group that is currently soliciting participation in the Million Doors for Peace, a "cross-organizational group of people including MoveOn, CodePink, TrueMajority, United for Peace and Justice, and many others." (As a side note, I see that so far 56 members of VFP have signed up. Assuming the other four groups cited have been equally successful that comes to about 3500 doors per person, a hefty day's work, indeed!) So, when Dr. Butler says he doesn't want Sen. McCain as President, is he expressing an opinion solely on behalf of a concerned fellow POW or just continuing the Democrat message he had already embraced since Sen. McCain cinched the GOP nomination? A position that, based upon the policy issues he had already contended with in his March 27, 2008 article, really depends neither upon either the Senator's status as a former POW nor Dr. Butler's personal experience with the Senator.

I do not begrudge Dr. Butler his opinions nor his right to express them, but I do find it insulting, offensive and, unfortunately, completely expected for a Democrat supporting and supported organization to attempt to hide not only their affiliation but their spokesman's partisan affiliations and ostensibly present him as just an average Joe. As the Blogfather would say, it's just another case of dog bites man.

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