Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Remembering My Commander-In-Chief

I remember President Gerald Ford as the first Commander-in-Chief under whom I served while active in the Air Force. He came into office by a series of circumstances which included scandels forcing the resignations of Vice President Spiro Agnew and President Richard Nixon, and which did not include election to the office of President. The administration he took over, and the Nation over which he came into leadership was in recovery from the long and hard war in Viet Nam, Watergate, and other political acandels. The tasks he faced as CIC were quite daunting--he had to restore America's faith in the military and the government, while trying to restore the world's faith in American foreign policy.
Although he wasn't elected as President, he was respected, having been elected to Congress sixteen times by his constituents in the state of Michigan. He treated the people with respect, and respect was returned to him, for the most part.
President Ford's administration did have some failures. He attempted to block the genocide of millions of Viet Namese and Cambodians by the hand of North Viet Nam and its agents, but his proposal to aid the miltia in South Viet Nam was refused funding by Congress, and 8 million Viet Namese and Cambodians died as North Viet Nam's military swept unopposed into the south and concluded the reunification of that country. He did, however, begin the long process of normalization with the new country, one that is still being continued today.
Another failure was his attempt to socialize the American economy with his "Whip Inflation Now" (WIN) policy, which included a voluntary wage/price freeze. Still, there was some long-term success for that policy in that we learned that socialism, even when voluntarily imposed, does not work in the American economy.
His pardoning of President Nixon for his Watergate related crimes was never popular, but he successfully defended his position that, without the pardon, America could not put behind the scandals of the Nixon Administration and move forward. His defense of his position was not enough to get him elected, and became the major reason many voters turned to Jimmy Carter.
President Ford's successes were far greater than his failures. The all-volunteer military came into being under his administration, and despite predictions that such a military would never work, he began building it into the force it is today--well trained, efficient, and intelligent. He brought respect back to the members of the military while improving military life with pay raises, benefits, and upgraded living conditions. Never again, would military personnel be greeted in America with the hatred they received upon return from Southeast Asia. They were, after all, only doing the job they were required to do--no war is the fault of those who have to fight it.
Finally, President Ford brought back respect for the government and the office of the President, showing kindness and concern for the American people. He was a man of integrity who would do his best whether he was elected to the job or not. He showed us that the President, no matter who he or she is, deserves the respect of the people. He had a tough job, but he did it the best he could, and his legacy continues to this day.

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Season's Greetings

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to all. For my Christmas message, please click here

Friday, December 22, 2006

The Big Storm

I haven't been able to post anything the last few days, because, as you may have heard, Colorado was experiencing "The Storm of the Decade," and the library was closed. There were blizzard conditions to the North, West, South, and East, but somehow, it missed my little nook. This video is in four parts, please view each one for the full effect. Part 1 proves that even my ugly mug can't break the camera.

Monday, December 18, 2006

Getting in the Christmas Spirit

Old Colorado City, my neighborhood and the shopping district on the west side of Colorado Springs, is all dressed up for Christmas. Here are two of the better snapshots I've taken, just to get the feel:

Bill of Rights 215th Anniversary

This is three days late, because the 215th anniversary of the Bill of Rights was last Friday. Just for a refresher
Here is the Bill of Rights, and a chart including four major factions in American Politics, and which articles each faction recognize or acknowledge:
Click on the chart to view full size.

The Bill of Rights
1.Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof, or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the pres; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
2. A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed
3. No Soldier shall, in time of peace be quartered in any house, without the consent of the Owner, nor in the time of war, but in a manner to be prescribed by law.
4. The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and personal effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.
5. No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on presentment or indictment of a Grand Jury, except in cases arising in land or naval forces, or in the Militia, when in actual service in time of War or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offense to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself; nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.
6.In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the State and district; whereas the crime shall have been committed, which district shall have been previously ascertained by law; and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor; and to have Assistance of Counsel for his defense.
7. In suits at common law, where the value in controversy shall exceed twenty dollars, the right of trial by jury shall be preserved, and no fact tried by jury, shall be otherwise re-examined in any Court of the United States, than according to the rules of the common law.
8. Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.
9. The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.
10. The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, not prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Who are you calling a Warmonger?

Should a person be considered a "warmonger," if he or she is only thinking of the future? Does not being "anti-war" mean being "pro-war?" I submit that, when it comes to Iraq and the Middle East, nobody who is not a Islamist militant or Baathist insurgant is "pro-war." Every proposal, every suggestion put forth by everyone, from the ISG, to the military leaders in Iraq, to the President himself, is a plan to put an end to the violence in the region.
Certainly, many of these proposals are flawed. We know that we need to use diplomacy along with military force in order to meet the goals set forth by the President and the ISG--diplomacy is needed to ensure stability in the region, and the military is needed to protect stability in the region.
But, how far should diplomacy go? How far can it go? The President has been talking one-on-one with Sunni and Shiite leaders in Iraq, and, for the last five weeks, the Marines in Ramadi, a hotbed for insurgancy, have been working with both the Sunni dominated police force, and the Shiite dominated Iraqi military to bring stability to that city. They have imbedded advisers in those two organizations to train and plan with the Iraqi forces. They have contracted with the local citizenry, to hire Iraqis to build and repair homes and facilities. Although Ramadi cannot be considered safe, the Marines are gaining the trust and support of the general populace, and solidifying the resolve of the Iraqi civilians in that city to oppose the insurgancy. Though these methods were among the ISG proposals, they were in effect prior to the release of the ISG report. The activities of both the President, and the Marines in Ramadi will, I feel, prove to be very productive in the long run.
James Baker, co-chair of the Iraq Study Group (ISG) has admitted that Iran is not likely to be of any help in bringing peace to the region, but suggests that the US enter unilateral talks with that nation, if only to show the world where Iran stands. The fact is that the US has already set the conditions under which negotiations with Iran could be held, and Iran has rejected those conditions. Unconditional unilateral talks with the leadership of Iran would be extremely unwise. By the rhetoric of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and members of Iran's Supreme Islamic Council, we know that such talks would be seen by Iran as surrender terms, and a victory for Iran. To officially recognize the government of Iran would be to sign a death sentence for the seventy-five percent of the Iranian population that is anti-government, because it would be a step toward abandonment of the cause for freedom, and would legitimize that governments methods against its own people. Iran does not want to see a stable, democratic and independent Iraq, a goal which has been stated by both the President and the ISG. Iran wants to control Iraq, and a stable, independent government in Iraq would be countrary to Iran's goals.
The United States has nothing to offer to or take away from Iran in unilateral talks. We cannot trade nuclear weapons for freedom in Iraq, because that freedom would not be a lasting freedom. Iran's only points would be that the US and its allies leave the region, that Israel be dissolved, and that Iran be allowed to control Iraq. We already know that the latter condition would result in a much more widespread war between several countries in the region. Saudi Arabia has already warned that if the US were to precipitously leave the region that it would have to back the Sunnis in Iraq to fight against the Iraqi Shiites and Iran. Unilateral talks with Iran over Iraq is definately a non-starter.
Fred Barnes, of The Weekly Standard has suggested that James Baker be appointed as a special envoy to Syria, so that he could attempt his plan to "flip Syria." Barnes, like any pragmatist, does not believe that Syria would suddenly stop supporting insurgants in Iraq, and stop trying to control Lebanon, all in exchange for Israel returning control of the Golan Heights to Syria. Common sense says that that would never happen, but if Baker could pull that off, he would be God.
It is up to the Iraqi government to establish diplomatic relations with its neighbors, not the United States. If there are to be talks between the US and Iran and Syria, they should be in the context of multilateral talks including Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Iran, Turkey, Russia, China, and the EU, as well as the United States. All these countries have a vested interest in the future of Iraq, and this is the only way negotiations concerning the region should be conducted.
Another way to peace in Iraq would be to encourage industry in that country. As President Bush has suggested, support should be given to establish a strong agricultural economy in Iraq, as well as an agreement to fairly distrubute oil wealth. Jobs need to be created, and would largely take power over people away from the insurgant organizations and militias and give it back to the population. Iraqis wanting jobs would leave the insurgancy to get jobs. This is a very important condition in bringing peace to that country.
A little more than half of Iraq exists under peaceful conditions. Free market industries and retailers should be encouraged to establish business in these regions, drawing more people away from the militias for the sake of productive jobs.
The US military presence is still needed in Iraq, until the Iraqi security force can stand on its own. The Ramadi model by the Marines should be successful, and it should be implemented throughout the country. This is all toward bringing peace, and to preventing a much larger war in the future. It will take time, but it will work. My opinion is not "pro-war," or "anti-war"--it is pro peace. So please stop calling me and those who agree with my point of view "Warmongers."

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Kofi Annan's UN Legacy

The outgoing Secretary General's legacy can be summed up in just a few words:
Oil for Food
The Congo
Basically, he just proved how inneffective and corrupt the UN can be.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

From Whence I Blog

I use the public computer from the Old Colorado City library branch in Colorado Springs. This building was erected in 1905, under a grant from the Andrew Carnegie foundation, and is an official historical landmark.
I like to use the "sepia" feature on my camera when photographing older buildings, but I've included a full color shot from another angle.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Colorado Springs Sunset

I am fascinated by the colors we get at sunset in Colorado. Even though I have lived here most of my life, I never get tired of it.
These pictures were taken on an HP M415 Photosmart Camera, and are Copyright 2006 by J Grady

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Just So You Know

The polls on the sidebar of both this blog and my other blog are not paid advertisments, nor are they meant to trap anybody into spam or unwanted advertisments. Please feel free to participate.

Monday, December 04, 2006


To the Republicans and Democrats on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee:
You once again denied the Senate a chance for a yea or nay vote on the confirmation of John Bolton, even after he seems to have passed an audition of sorts. Are the Honorable Senators hoping that there will be someone nominated for the US Ambassador to the United Nations position who will be more effective and efficient? Or are you happy with a UN that won't take action unless there is something in it for the officials, such as the Iraq "Oil for Food" program? Perhaps, you only want to distance yourselves from what you perceive as a symbol of "the Rumsfield Era?"
After all, you are politicians, and a politician's job is to do what it takes to get elected at the next poll. To hell with national security, or solving international problems that affect the entire world. To hell with the starving and dying people in Darfur, if the plan for their redemption comes from the Bush Administration. Bush isn't popular, so you want to get as far away as possible from any association with the Executive Branch.
If you cannot find a person to fill the post who would be as effective as Bolton has been, will you be accountable for your actions? How heavily will the guilt of doing nothing to prevent the genocide of millions of people weigh on you? Do you have somebody in mind that can get UN action through the UN Security Council, concerning North Korea or Iran? Or are you prepared to accept the guilt of the annihilation of millions of Israelis, Lebanese, and Iraqi Sunni Muslims? When only people with six-figure incomes, like yours, can afford to operate a private vehicle, will you take responsibility for the energy shortage caused by the shutting down of traffic from the Persian Gulf?
Of course, John Bolton isn't single-handedly responsible for preventing all of that, but he has been successful in bringing about action by the UN in steps towards preventing such things from happening. That doesn't seem to matter now, but how will you feel when you don't get re-elected because your record shows that you are associated with the "Reid/Pelosi" era?

Thursday, November 30, 2006

I Can't Respect Them, Because....

It's really rather funny, but the laugh is on us. It must be true that politicians think we're stupid, and they are making it pretty clear. The Congressional candidates who stood for surrender in Iraq and Afghanistan did not get elected. Ned Lamont, the Democratic Senatorial candidate from Connecticutt, ran on the platform that the US should withdraw its troops immediately. He was defeated by Senator Joseph Leiberman, who believes that the US should not leave until the Iraqi government is capable of providing security for its own country.
Patricia Mckinney, the Georgia Congresswoman who ran not only on the platform of surrender, but on impeachment of the President, didn't even make it past the primaries. Congressman Murtha, who has made his pro-surrender stance clear, ran for House Majority Leader, and was voted down by his Congressional peers in favor of Congressman Hoyer, who is against immediate withdrawal.
Now Nancy Pelosi, the Speaker of the House elect, along with New York Congressman Charles Rangel, seem to be in denial that Abu Ayyou al-Masri, the leader of Al Qaeda in Iraq has recently claimed to have 16,000 armed troops in that country. They keep speaking of insurgents, without mentioning that there is a sworn enemy of the non-Muslim world with an active fighting force in Iraq. Pelosi, Rangel and others must be hoping that either we didn't hear or that we forgot about al-Masri's statements. They think we're stupid.
Nobody is saying "stay the course," in the sense that we keep doing what we have been doing. We all know that a change in tactics is necessary in Iraq in order for us to be able to withdraw from that country without surrendering to al Qaeda. Most Americans, over seventy percent in some national polls, know what a disaster it would be to leave an unstable Iraq behind. We know that another country in which al Qaeda could gain strength and develop weapons would lead to an even more dangerous war upon our own shores. We know that a failed government in Iraq would leave that country as a deadly battlefield for other countries in the Middle East. We know that anything we do that looks like surrender to the enemy will only strengthen the propaganda value and the incentive of that enemy. The leadership-elect of the new Congressional majority sees the last election as a mandate to withdraw immediately from Iraq--they are either ignoring the information that most of us know, or they think we're stupid.
General Abezaid, the commander of US forces in Iraq has called for more troops, but not to try to fight the insurgents and terrorist forces in that country, but to step up the training of the Iraqi forces. This is a good idea, if we provide the Iraqi security forces with more equipment and better weapons as well, and would hasten our departure from Iraq, without surrender. But there doesn't seem to be any dialogue along these lines among those who will constitute the new leadership in Congress. Their elitist attitude leads them to believe that they know more about military operations than the officers who are conducting the operations do. They think we're stupid.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Yes, This is Still My Blog

And, just to prove it, I will post this cartoon by the Colorado Springs' political cartoonist, Chuck Asay:

Copyright 2006 Chuck Asay and The Colorado Springs Gazette

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Speaking Out: An Interview with an American Muslim

One of the reasons for this blog is to exercise freedom of speech, not just for the author of the blog and his views, but for others who do not have a voice in the media. All too often, the media covers the leaders of radical movements, and the leaders of State, which often leads to misunderstanding among the rest of us. The following interview is with a young woman named Tikyra "Tiki" Angelique, who is the daughter of an American military family and is a devout Muslim. She speaks with the ferver and convictoin of the Converted, and the earnestness of a fresh college education. Her political views do not reflect those of the author of this blog. In the interview, Tiki expresses her distrust of the current Administration and its policies, while at the same time clears up some questions we had about Islam and religious tolerance. This interview is presented in the interest of freedom of speech, and therefore is unedited, except to recover text from a formatting incompatibility. Remember--"Open debate makes our country great!"

Do non-Muslim people generally respect you for your religion?

Well, my experience has been that there are different kinds of Americans. There are those who are political
and either sympathize with Arabs, Palestinians and Muslims and understand our political views that differ
with what most of the media puts out, and there are Americans who go along with most of what the media
puts out against Arabs, Palestinians and Muslims.
I think most Americans are good hearted people who are being mislead and misused by an International war
criminal named Bush. I think the media has let down most Muslims and Jewish groups who disagree with America's and Israel's foreign policies; I believe the true job of a reporter is to impartially report both
sides of any issue and let people decide for themselves.
I see something new happening lately because of the military conflict in Iraq, more and more Americans
are asking why do they (different groups or countries in the world) hate us? And others are approaching me and other Muslims who wear religious clothing and ask us, what is your religion about?

What difficulties, if any, do you face being a Muslim woman in America?

That's funny because recently I got a job at McDonalds. I told them why we wear the scarf and even though
their corporate policy says they don't discriminate based on religion, they would not let me wear it. I did
what a lot of Muslim women facing this situation have done, I wore a baseball cap and put my hair up
under it instead. Most employers don't understand that the scarf is not a fashion statement saying that I am
a Muslim woma--it is part of our religion. I am hiding my beauty including my hair, that I will only show at home with my family and my future husband ( I am not married ).They also don't understand that our loose clothing is also about modesty, not revealing the shape of
your body, so it does not allow others to be sexually attracted to you based on your body or hair. The loose
clothing is also a dress code for Muslim men. They also have problems with employers who don't allow
having a long shirt outside the pants so the hip area is not easily revealed.

What do you see as the biggest misunderstanding of Islam in America?

People think blowing ourselves up is part of our religion, it isn't, LOL. I cherish being alive, thank you.
There is (a religious teaching) which says "If you know of an injustice, change it by your hand, if
you are prevented from doing that, speak out against it, if you can't do that, write against it, if you are not
allowed to do any of those things, you MUST, pray against it."
In other words GOD never told any of us to just do nothing about injustice, that is part of what JIHAD is, fighting against injustice. JIHAD can also be the inside your own self for things like your struggle with an addiction or sinful behavior, your JIHAD to make yourself not do it.

Do you come from an Islamic family, or did you convert to Islam?

I converted to Islam. It was easy for me to become Muslim because my family is Christian in name only. I respect the teachings of Jesus but technically they are not Christian because they do not believe He is
the Son of GOD, they love and revere him as a human prophet (peace be upon him), they do not believe he died for forgiveness of anyone's sins, they believe you can only be forgiven by asking GOD directly to
forgive you for your sins, and they do not believe He rose from the dead and became alive again. When they celebrate Christmas and Easter it is for celebrating a holiday, but, Christmas is important to my family
Jesus was a wonderful prophet (peace be upon him) whose wonderful message has taught all beings how to treat all people with peace and respect.

Many of us believe that Christianity, Judaism, and Islam are different ways of worshiping the same God. We see religion as a personal attribute, meaning that the right way for a person to worship God is the way each person chooses. Can you see it that way?

We say there is no GOD except the ONE true GOD. To us, GOD, who we call Allah, is the same GOD
in all 3 religions. HE is the GOD worshiped by Abraham (the Jews), Jesus (the Christians) and
Mohammad (the Muslims), peace be upon all the prophets. We share the same history and prophets with a few exceptions, the Jews (with the exception of Jews for Jesus) do not accept Jesus as a prophet, peace be upon him, the Christians do not accept Muhammad as a prophet, peace be upon him, and we accept all the
prophets and believe that Muhammad, peace be upon him, is the last prophet and messenger of GOD.

Muslims call Jews and Christians "the people of the book," which is written in the Quran.There are people
who know about GOD but who have consciously decided to live sinful lives. If a person does not know GOD but is a good person who lives a good life, he or she can go to heaven.

Many Islamic scholars and Imams have written that violence and murder of innocents is not a part of Islam. Do you agree?

I think that is one of the hardest questions to answer in any religion, when is killing a person self defense or of one's home or country murder, and when is it justified defense. Military chaplains run into this
dilemma when talking to conscientious objectors, but also when considering possible crimes
against humanity committed by soldiers.

Is there a clash between the cultured and the uncultured in Islam?
In the previous question, Tiki and I discussed the question of the fine line between religious duty and
Civil duty. There are some who feel as though their religion requires them to kill, and my understanding is that the "unclultured," those who use religion as an excuse to kill are misrepresenting their religion. This is a follow-up question addressing the extension of some religious ideas to government and law.

We talk about this all the time at the Mosque and at college. There are things that Islamic governments do that they say are dictated by Islam, but those laws violate Islam, they are doing things based on culture
of Islam. For example, when the Taliban closed all the schools for girls that was a violation of
Islamic law, because the Quran specifically states that women have a RIGHT to education. What the Taliban did was to act on it's own feeling about how to treat women based on the new culture they wanted to impose on Afghan women. I have even talked to men who were angry about what the Taliban did because what a lot of people don't realize is that many Muslim women including myself, have college degrees and honestly don't want us to help with the family's finances by working. Actually deciding to help pay the bills is a problem for me as a Muslim woman the Quran says I can keep my money for myself and not pay any bills, but most of us love our families and do contribute.

Can Islam thrive in a free society?

There are 12 million of us Muslims living in America and the number of new converts is increasing.
The irony of the soldiers returning from Iraq and Afghanistan is that, day after day they are living among
Muslims in middle east countries, they will bring back knowledge about Arab culture and Muslim religion.
Most of them will see us as human beings who just want to live our lives like you do.

Can a free, democratic society exist in the Islamic world?

To be honest, Israel is not a Democracy, it is a blatant open Apartheid, compare it to the "Democracy" of South Africa before Nelson Mandela became President. Why doesn't anyone ask questions about Zionist
terrorism against mostly unarmed Palestinian and Arab civilians in Palestine and the "occupied zone."
Why doesn't anyone question the violation of the rights of the people of Iraq when Bush
through a dictator put on them, named Bremmer (probably spelling his name wrong)?? What about the press Bush and his regime closed in Iraq because they wrote articles against Bush and his puppet
imposed on the Iraqi people? Is that the freedom of the press democracy is about?? What about
American soldiers who shot at Iraqi protestors is that the right to peaceful assembly Democracy
Does Abu Graib ring a bell??? How about when America tortured and killed prisoners there, their families visitation, denied the prisoners lawyers„ what kind of Democracy are you bringing to ignorant Arabs and Muslims??

Do you, personally, get involved in the political process in America?

It's really funny you asked, because I protested against Israel for 1 year in Lexington Massachusetts.
While Bush has been so busy destroying the Constitution and violating the most basic rights Arabs, Palestinians, and Muslims who are American citizens have, that all he has to do is call me an enemy combatant and the power hungry idiots who support him would imprison me in Guantanamo Bay, without evidence, witnesses or charges, just like they did to Jose Padilla. He is an American citizen who was imprisoned there for 3 years. When the government finally admitted there was no evidence that he made or had anything to do with "dirty" bombs. He should have been released from Guantanamo prison, but he is still being held as the government creates new charges to keep him imprisoned to indefinitely await a military trial for a civilian. Talk about destroying the most inherent spirit of the law under which the nation
was founded, the right of anyone accused of a crime to have due process, and a "speedy" trial, to
avoid making the imprisonment while waiting for a trial, a punishment based solely on being accused not as a result of a guilty verdict. In other words if an innocent man is accused of a crime and the jury finds that he was "not guilty," then the time of imprisonment, his loss of freedom, damage to his and finances is in itself a punishment.

The following video is in response to a follow-up question by the author, as the question of Isreal came up during the interview, and we felt that this answer was thoughtful, thought-provoking, and interesting, as well as controversial.

Click here if you can't see the video.

Afterward--my thoughts:
It is interesting to note that Tiki's political views are very much in line with the opinion of many who are politically on the far left of the spectrum, yet Tiki could be considered a "conservative" Muslim, who believes, among other things, that it should be a punishable offense for a woman to smoke while with child. It is easy to see how policy missteps--particularly those made during the interim administration of Paul Bremmer--can become an indictment against the entire policy.
It should also be noted that, although Tikyra does not recognize the right of Israel to exist, she strongly believes in religious freedom, and recognizes and respects the religion of others.
In response to the political point of view expressed in this interview, all I can say is that our beliefs--that is the belief of each individual--is exactly that; an individual belief, and that belief is indelable, based upon each person's life experience and education. The result of the practice of many university level teachers to indoctrinate rather than educate is evident here, but I know that I can disagree and argue until I'm blue in the face, but it will not change Tiki's beliefs any more than she can change my beliefs. This is Tiki's opportunity to state her case, and I am grateful to her for granting this interview and allowing me permission to publish it on this blog. Comments and questions in the "comments" section here are solicited and encouraged, and Tikyra can be contacted here, via email.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Remembering Things for which to give Thanks

I have much to be thankful for this Thanksgiving--My health, for what it is, my friends and my family above all.
This post is written by my sister, in review of a Veteran's Day Parade which took place in Russleville, Arkansas. The theme of the parade this year was to honor the Viet Nam Veterans, of which my father is one. I think what she wrote here could remind many of us what we should be thankful for.
Wow, where to start. Obviously, thanks to EVERYONE involved in the parade and ceremony from Jim Bob Humphrey to the participants to the wonderful people lining the streets. To have people who don’t even know us thank my husband and my dad for serving their country always brings me to tears. This year, with the special salute to the Viet Nam Vets, the experience was more than I can explain but I’d like to try.

The war in Viet Nam is not just old history, it still has a very deep affect on the lives of so many people. Every one of the veterans who crossed that stage has so much they could tell us about their service. Even though there was only time for a smidgen of information, we didn’t even get that from a large number of them. My dad crossed the stage last night. What he didn’t say was that he flew Jolly Greens on his first tour in Viet Nam and worked directly with the South Vietnamese and Cambodian Air Forces on his second tour. The Jolly Green is the HH-3E search and rescue helicopter. To say that was a dangerous job is an understatement. But that’s only part of the story.

Thankfully, not every military person returning from Viet Nam was spit on but that doesn’t mean there was no stress. The entire military family was affected very deeply by the attitudes of the vocal minority and the silence or indifference of the rest of the civilian community. While Dads were away for training and the actual tours in Viet Nam, Moms were left at home with the kids and no extended family to help. Unlike now, there was very little support from the community and family members were not spared from the ignorance and hatred.

I was a senior in high school when Dad came home from his first tour and we moved to Colorado Springs. It was 1969. All seniors were required to take American Government and the war was a huge topic in class. Very quickly the class became divided with the military kids on one side of the room and the civilian kids on the other. No matter what the assignment, the military kids were given failing grades while the kids who took an anti-war stance were given straight A’s. We were harshly discriminated against just because we had parents who served in the military. Of course, the instructor was eventually reprimanded and the practice stopped but the damage was already done. I can’t imagine a teacher getting away with that kind of behavior now!

In Viet Nam, as in every war before and after, our troops did more than just their jobs. They got to know the people and did what they could to help on a personal level. There isn’t room here to describe everything our troops have done and are still doing for the people in whose countries they serve. They feed, clothe, and educate children and adults. They give hope and friendship; they make a difference. On Dad’s second tour, he had to deal with the fact that the US was pulling out, a death sentence to millions of men, women, and children. When he was leaving, a Cambodian officer thanked him for giving them a chance to fight for their country. They knew that when the U.S. left, they would be killed. Viet Nam wasn’t just political, it became personal.

Twenty five years after the US left Viet Nam, we were reminded again that it is still personal. When my son was preparing to start college, Dad attended the family orientation with us. A Vietnamese man was there with his daughter who would also be a freshman. He and Dad started talking and when he found out Dad had served in Viet Nam he thanked him for being there to help.

I was lucky, my dad came home. However, just a few years ago our paths crossed with another daughter who wasn’t so lucky . Her dad didn’t come home and she and her family didn’t know for sure what happened to him. She was trying to find out if anyone knew if he had died immediately or if he had been captured. As it happened, my dad was on the same mission. He was able to tell her that her father had died instantly and was not captured. After nearly 40 years, her family finally had answers. Don’t say they had "closure," there’s no such thing for anyone who has lost a loved one too soon, but at least they know he didn’t suffer.

I grew up with my father in the Air Force. He served in Korea and Viet Nam. The year he retired I married a career Air Force pilot. He served in Desert Storm. One of my sons served four years in the Navy Reserves and another is currently on active duty in the Navy. Being a military daughter, wife, and now mother isn’t easy but it helps when others appreciate what the men in my life have done and continue to do. It helps to live in a place where most people are supportive of the military and their families. The special recognition for Viet Nam vets was deeply moving. It helped more people than Mr. Humphrey had hoped to honor, I think it will help all of us heal. Hopefully, more of the personal stories can be told. Hopefully, and even more importantly, everyone will continue to support our troops AND their families. Again, thank you to everyone who took part in the parade and ceremony.

HH-3E Jolly Green Giant

The HH-3E helicopter is a modified version of the CH-3 transport helicopter. Fifty CH-3Es were converted to HH-3Es. These 50 CH-3Es were modified for combat rescue missions with armor, defensive armament, self-sealing fuel tanks, a rescue hoist, and in-flight refueling capability. It was developed for aircrew rescue missions deep into North Vietnam during the Vietnam War. Many downed aircrews were rescued by Jolly Green Giants and their crews.

The HH-3E, which arrived in Vietnam in 1967, gave the Aerospace Rescue and Recovery Service (ARRS). a significant capability. Operating out of Udorn, Thailand, and Da Nang, South Vietnam, this helicopter could reach any point in North Vietnam and return to its home base. The HH-3E was also specifically modified for rescue operations, to include communications equipment that was compatible with all other Allied aircraft operating in Southeast Asia. Today, the HH-3E continues its proud heritage with ARRS, and is an integral part of the Military Airlift Command’s search and rescue mission.

The first non-stop trans-Atlantic flight by a helicopter was made by two Jolly Green Giants between May 30 and June 1, 1967, when they flew from New York City to the Paris Air Show. During that 4,270-mile flight, which took 30 hours and 46 minutes, each aircraft was aerially refueled nine times. The Jolly Green Giant flew 251 combat missions during Operation Desert Storm.

The HH-3E, the Jolly Green Giant, is a twin-engine, heavy-lift helicopter. It is used for search and recovery of personnel and aerospace hardware in support of global air and space operations. It is also used for combat and special operations. With the ability to operate from land or water, the Jolly Green Giant boasts combat rescue-related equipment including titanium armor plating, jettisonable external fuel tanks, internal self-sealing bladder-type fuel tanks under the cabin floor, a retractable in-flight refueling probe, two 7.62mm machine guns, a forest penetrator and a high speed rescue hoist with 240 feet of cable. The long-range helicopter has a hydraulically operated rear ramp for straight-in loading and a jettisonable sliding door on the starboard side at the front of the cabin. It has a gas turbine auxiliary power supply for independent field operations and built-in equipment for the removal and replacement of all major components in remote areas. The Jolly Green Giant has an automatic flight-control system, instrumentation for all-weather operation, and Doppler navigation equipment. Twin turboshaft engines are mounted side-by-side on top of the cabin, immediately forward of the main transmission. The aircraft also has a retractable tricycle-type landing gear.

The Defense Department's range support for Shuttle flights in the 1980s was extensive, and it applied to civilian as well as military missions. Military rescue forces were stationed at Transoceanic Abort Landing (TAL) sites in Africa and Spain. Shuttle contingency forces at Patrick AFB placed three military HH-3E helicopters (complete with aircrews, medical personnel and pararescue specialists) on alert at the Shuttle Landing Facility (SLF) at KSC for every Shuttle mission. Forces from the Air Force Reserve, the National Guard, U.S. European Command, US Air Forces Europe, the Coast Guard and the Navy were positioned to support an astronaut bailout during the launch phase of each Shuttle mission.
Photo Credit: Global

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Looking Ahead

"Don't insult drunken sailors. They spend their own money, not yours and mine."--Steve Forbes, in response to the statement that Republicans have spent funds like drunken sailors.
I would like to see Steve Forbes run as the Libertarian candidate for President in 2008. It is time for him to do so, as people should be completely disenfranchised from the Demopublicans by then. I can't see the new majority in Congress as being any more competent than the old majority.
It doesn't seem to me as though the new Congressional majority faction is all that interested in "integrity, civility, and bi-partisanship." The new leadership designate has already indicated that indicated that it will not confirm John Bolton as Ambassedor to the United Nations. There is no reason for this except as a show to flex muscles, in retaliation against the former majority faction.
Success should not be a partisan issue. If the new majority is interested in leadership, it should be interested in what has been successful. Bolton has accomplished what no other official in his position has done before--get a viable UN peacekeeping force in Lebanon. He also got the Security Council to agree on sanctions of North Korea, which also persuaded China to put pressure on that country to abandon its nuclear arms program. We obviously need someone like Bolton in that position to get the UN to take action in the Darfur region of Sudan, to get aid to the refugees and prevent human rights atrocities up to and including genocide.
But it doesn't seem to be in the interest of the Democratic faction to meet with success, especially if it was initiated by the Republican faction. They will make the same mistakes that the Republicans did--to do nothing that could be construed as agreement with the opposition. The only successes we can anticipate from the new Congress would be a minimum wage hike, with safeguards for small businesses, and a guest worker program dealing with undocumented immigrants. Otherwise, politics-as-usual will continue to ignore reality, and Congress will be just as ineffective as it was under Republican leadership. The only practical new direction "we, the People," can take is to reject the Demopublicans completely.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

One Moment Please

I'm really trying to make this page the way I want it. Blogflux has dissapeared, and since I'm changing my template, I've lost some of my toys. I only have about an hour a day to go online, so please stand by while I go through the tedious process of finding what I need.
Now for the mandantory cat photo.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Guess What I got for my Birthday!

Well, one way to keep me from ranting is to give me a digital camera. A big surprise when I opened the package yesterday. Naturally I wanted to try everything at once. This is my first submission to You Tube, and it isn't good, but I think I'll get better with practice. Can't get worse:

Monday, November 13, 2006

What is Oversight?

Nancy Pelosi, along with several Democratic Party strategists and Congresspersons elect, believe that it is the job of the Legislative branch to conduct oversight of the Executve branch. Let's perform a quick check:

The eighteen specific and enumerated limited powers of Congress granted by the Constitution:

1. "The Congress shall have Power To lay and collect Taxes, Duties, Imposts and Excises, to pay the Debts and provide for the common Defense and general Welfare of the United States , but all Duties, Imposts, and Excises shall be uniform throughout the United States."
2. "To borrow Money on the credit of the United States; Congress may borrow money by issuing bonds or by other means."
3. " To regulate Commerce with foreign Nations, and among the several States, and with the Indian Tribes."
4. "To establish a uniform Rule of Naturalization, and uniform Law on the subject of Bnruptcies throughout the United States."
5. "To coin Money, regulate the value thereof, and of foreign Coin, and fix the
Standard of Weights and Measures."
6."To provide for the punishmentof counterfeiting the Securities and current Coin of the United States."
7. "To establish Post Offices and Post Roads.
8. "To promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries."
9. "To Constitute Tribunals inferior to the Supreme Court."
10. "To define and punish Piracies and Felonies commited on the High Seas, and Offences against the Law of Nations."
11."To declare War, grant Letters of Marquee and Reprisal, and make Rules concerning Captures on Land and Water.
12. "To raise and support Armies, but no Appropriation of Money to that Use shall be for a longer Term than two years."
13. "To provide and maintain a Navy."
14. "To make Rules for the Government and Regulation of the land and naval forces."
15. "To provide for calling forth the Militia to execute the Laws of the Union, suppress Insurrections and repel Invasions."
16. "To provide for organizing, arming, and disciplining, the Militia, and for governing such Part of them as may e employed in the Service of the United States, reserving to the States respectively, the Appointment of Officers, and the Authority of training the Militia according to the disclipine prescribed byCongress."
17. "To exercise exclusive Legislation in all Cases whatsoever, over such District (not exceeding ten Miles square) as may, by Cession of particular States and the Acceptance of Congress, become the Seat of the Government of the United States, and to exercise like Authority over all Places purchased by the Consent of the Legislature of the State in which the Same shall be, for the Erection of Forts, Magazines, Arsenals, dock-Yards, and other needful Buildings."
18. "To make all Laws which shall be necessary and proper for carrying into Execution the foregoing Powers, and all other Powers vested by this Constitution in the Government of the United States, or in any Department or Officer thereof."

Nope, don't see it.
There are three branches of the Federal Government, each with its own powers, rights and responsibilities. There is what is known as the "Separation of Powers," which prevents oversight of one branch over the other. Oversight is not part of the constitutional checks and balances.
The checks and balances are spelled out clearly in the Constitution. The Executive and the Judicial Branches can't write or enact legislation--that is the duty of the Legislative branch. Neither the Legislative, nor the Judicial Branch is enpowered to execute the laws. The Congress carries "into Execution" laws--that is it passes or refects the laws but does not have the means to enforce them. Nor may the Legislative or Judicial Branches dictate the movement of military troops. Congress has the duty to call the military into action, by enacting law to do so, but the actual deployment and movement of such troops is determined by the Executive Branch, with the President as Commander-in-Chief. Finally, It is the duty of the Judicial Branch, not of the other two branches of Federal government, to determine the constitutionality of an enacted and executed law. This, perhaps, is the most powerful of the separate powers, as it determines the limits to which the other two branches may act.
Oversight, as percieved by those in Congress, is a myth and a misconception. To interfere with the duties of the Executive Branch or the Judicial Branch as proposed by the new Congressional leadership designate, through subpoenae and investigation, is to overstep the boundaries set by Separation of Powers. Congress may obtain what information it needs to perform its legislative duties, but it may not control or participate in the execution or enforcement of those laws it passes.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Veterans Day--Remember

God Bless our troops and our Veterans of military service who have served our country for two-hundred and thirty years. The Duty and Sacrifice of over forty-million men and women who have served our country throughout our history should never be forgotten.
Please take the time to visit one or more of the following sites, honoring our service members who have put their lives on the line to defend our freedom.
Operation Home Front
The Great American Cookie Swap-- Say "thank-you" to our troops by sending them fresh, home-made cookies, just by logging on..
Say Thank-you--Send a post card of thanks to our troops, for free.

Friday, November 10, 2006

Realists will Negotiate

Even before they have a chance to take their position of power the "Realists" in Washington--Dick Durbin, James Baker, Joe Biden, and Robert Gates--Al Qaeda in Iraq has issued a challenge. In a 22 minute audiotape released today, the leader of Al Qaeda in Iraq, Aboud Abu al-Masri, claimed that he had 12,000 armed fighters in Iraq, and that Al Qaeda wouldn't stop until they have "blown up the dirty black White House."
The Realists have a track record of negotiating with such people as al-Masri, and there is no doubt that they are now scrambling to find negotiating points with an organization whose status they have already changed from "enemy combatants" to "insurgents."
We can imagine they will negotiate a small portion of Iraq for al Qaeda, so they can develop technology and resources that will allow them to blow up the White House without causing too much collateral damage.
The sarcasm is intended, we have no respect for the Realists, whose positions in the past have sacrificed long term security for immediate and temporary solutions--a track record that has resulted in increasing threats to our national security in the long run. It was Realist philosophy that prevented the removal of Saddam Hussein from power in 1991, which created resentment and hatred toward America and its allies among many in the Iraqi populace. That resentment would not have existed if the regime change had taken place at that time. Al Qaeda could be seen as a direct result of Realist policy, because tolerance of tyranny has given rise to such organizations, by creating hatred by the oppressed toward the country they see as facilitating that oppression.
We can only hope that the Realists don't negotiate away our future.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Reason to be Scared

What do Fidel Castro, Yassir Arafat, Nelson Pinochet, Manuel Noriega, Saddam Hussein, and Hosni Mubarak all have in common?
Yes, they are all tyrants who have oppressed the people of their respective countries. Yes, they have all imprisoned and/or murdered any who opposed their regimes. Yes, they have all incited anger against the United States. And, yes, they were all either emplaced or empowered by "realist" US foreign policy.
Politically speaking, the term "Realist" does not refer to one whose philosophy is based on reality. It often refers to one who cannot learn from past mistakes. "Realist" is often the term used for those who look for immediate results that aren't necessarily beneficial for the long-term security of the United States. Realists are most likely to believe in the myth of benevolent dictatorship, and that it is better to have a stable dictatorship than an unfriendly democracy. There is, in reality, no such thing as a benevolent dictatorship.
Realists initially saw Fidel Castro as a preferable alternative to the Batista regime of Cuba, and Castro was given military training in the United States and some technical and logistic support in his revolution to overthrow the blatantly criminal Batista. Arafat was seen by Realists as a partner for peace, even as he was imprisoning Palestinian dissidents, embezzling money meant for the aid of the Palestinian people, and enlisting suicide bombers to attack targets in Israel. The election to power of the militant terrorist group Hamas was a direct result of the backlash against Arafat and the US support of that criminal. American Realists overtly replaced the overthrown Chilean Socialist dictator Salvador Allende with the Nazi dictator Nelson Pinochet, who was a mass murderer and oppressive tyrant. This ultimately created backlash gave rise to such sworn enemies of the United States as Hugo Chavez and Daniel Ortega. Manuel Noriega ruled Panama with an iron fist, terrorizing the population with midnight goon squad raids and imprisonment of those who opposed him, and using the Panama Canal as a blackmail issue against the rest of the world. Realists considered Noriega preferable to the threat of a Communist being elected into power, then overthrew his government, using the "war on drugs" as justification in doing so. This was yet another step in increasing anti-American sentiments in Central and South America. American Realists supported Saddam all the way up to his invasion of Kuwait in 1991, as a common enemy against the Islamist regime in Iran, and the previous government of Iraq, which was closely allied to the Soviet Union. Mubarak is still seen by Realists as a "moderate" ally of the US in the Middle and Near East, even as he suppresses freedom of speech among anti-Jihadis, refuses to hold a free election, relegates non-Muslims and secularists to Dhimmi status, and incites hatred toward Israel and the United States. In short, Realists ignore reality.
It is necessary to find a better way to win the war in Iraq, and some changes are preferable to what is happening now. However, political Realism is the practice of doing exactly what Ben Franklin was warning against, when he said, "Those who are willing to sacrifice liberty for temporary security deserve neither."
James Baker, who is heading a bi-partisan study group that will present recommendations on the conduct of the war in Iraq is a Realist. Robert Gates, who will likely be confirmed as Secretary of Defense, is a member of the Baker group, and a Realist.
John Bolton, who has performed better than could be expected as US Ambassador to the United Nations, is not likely to be confirmed, in favor of placing an as yet unnamed Realist in that position. Condoleezza Rice, who believes--correctly, in my opinion--along with President Bush, that the spread of worldwide Democracy is in the best interest of the future of our national security, finds her job in jeopardy. Realists are now poised to dictate a foreign policy that has repeatedly failed in the past. That policy still creates a negative view of America by the rest of the world--it enhances the perception that we are arrogant and meddling.
Now I'm scared.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

The "New Direction"

It is with some relief that we report that neither the abandon Iraq faction nor the impeach Bush faction showed up for the elections Tuesday. The Libertarian candidates who, to my dismay, were the only ones representing these factions didn't even get enough votes to get honorable mention, which means, hopefully, the Libertarian Party will return to its principles, and develop its strengths. If this is the case, by 2008 voters who are disenfranchised by Demopublican politics-as-usual will lend unprecedented strength to the largest "third party" in the nation.
Meanwhile, we should not be surprised that the "Republican" faction has lost control of Congress. As has happened with any majority in Congress, they lost sight of their principles and became supportive of Big Government spending and special interests, producing a very negative reaction among the electorate. It is only the law of Karma coming into effect. Even those "Republicans" who have dutifully served their constituents and avoided the shortcomings of the party in general, were caught up in the backlash and lost their seats. Such is the way of politics.
We will not see a unified majority in the House of Representative--many of the members-elect are moderate to conservative in their political beliefs, and some are even former "Republicans" who tested the wind and switched to the "Democrat Party," which goes to show that politicians will do anything to get the easy money. Still, respected political analysts, such as Hal Bruno, point out that the "blue dog" conservative freshmen will not make that much of a difference in policy as "back benchers," at least not for the first two years.
Still, among the senior "Democratic" there is still no clear direction in several issues. The consensus view among them on Iraq, for instance, seems to indicate only that a new view of the situation must come into play. Among the myriad views, this "consensus" ranges from surrender to sending more troops. Among the in-between views are redeployment of troops to Afghanistan, involvement of neighboring states, such as Saudi Arabia, in finding a solution to the crisis, and manipulating the sovereign government of Iraq. We could see, therefore, such results as a war between Saudi Arabia and Iran, with Iraq as the battlefield, or a reinstatement of the military draft in the United States. The Democrats have not, so far, advocated leaving behind a failed or rogue state in Iraq, much to their credit. In fact, most of the Democrats have stated a desire to win in Iraq. This will undoubtedly disappoint many of the radical left who thought they were going to get something different.
Other results of the Democratic control of Congress will most likely be higher gasoline prices, as politicians attack "Big Oil," windfall profits for medical research companies, as Congress allocates taxpayers' money in the name of stem cell research, and loss of jobs and middle class family owned businesses as Congress raises the minimum wage. We sill also see a lot of unnecessary hearings, as Democrats attempt to rediscover that no one in the administration has done anything that is illegal. Oh, and Rumsfield will resign.
Still, we should not fall into a doom and gloom attitude, because it is still politics as usual, and we have survived that so far.
If we are to believe Speaker-elect Nancy Pelosi, the new direction will be one of "integrity, civility, and bi-partisanship." We'll believe that when we see it, if we can actually figure out what it really means.

We're All Going to Die!

Well, perhaps some day. This kind of illustrates the general reaction to yesterday's electons.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Go Ahead and Screw It Up

I hope this election comes out in favor of the Democrats, but not for the reasons you may think. If the Democrats win control of Congress, there will be a change, all right, but it will not be a change in politics-as-usual. The voters will realize just how bad their representation truly is, as Big Government spending continues and Congress remains a do nothing entity. Time and taxpayers' money will be wasted on bills doomed to veto, and on the promised investigations. Spending bills will fail, and there will be problems distributing government checks. Debates and filibusters will continue to consume Congress will prove to the voter that the power grab is on the part of the legislative branch, not the executive branch.
The change that will come with a Democrat Party victory will be in the voter, not in the government. As the flow of money in the economy decreases, jobs will decrease. That decrease will be felt even more if the Democrats are successful in passing a minimum wage increase, and more home-owned businesses fail because they can’t afford wages or payroll taxes.
The poor performance of Congress over the years will leave its mark on the citizenry, and many will realize that the one-party Demopublican system can do nothing for the common man. This will mean that by 2008, we should see a drastic change in the way people think about Democrats and Republicans. The people will be so angry at politics-as-usual, we may see the first President elected running as an independent or third party candidate.
I hope that, if the Democrats win, they really screw it up. We should expect nothing less.
To my fellow Libertarians: Four words for 2008--Steve Forbes for President.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Uh, What? Oh, It's the SSPRC!

Let's take a trip to The Soviet Socialist People's Republic of California, and take a look at what's on the ballot there. Hmmmm. Proposition 87. Its proponents say that by charging energy companies to drill for oil in that state, the state gets money to give to alternative energy research. It will, they say, help Americans wean themselves from foreign oil. They claim that the issue, if passed by the proletariat and elected by legislature, would prevent Big Oil from passing the added costs of drilling in California to the consumer.
Let's ask some theoretical and rhetorical questions here. If, suddenly, there was absolutely no oil or petroleum fuel available, would we be prepared to have ways to transport goods and services, to get to the market, our jobs, and schools? The intent of the proposition 87 is sincere in that it would encourage the use of alternative energy, but is enough available to immediately replace the use of fossil fuels? Can we all afford to ride bicycles to work, drive solar powered, hybrid, or hydrogen cell automobiles, and are enough of these available to everybody? Are engine components that can withstand the high temperatures and non-lubricating characteristics of ethanol thoroughly tested and readily available to the general public?
My reason for posing these questions is simply that proposition 87 has the potential to stop oil production in California. It is a thinly veiled attack on the perceived enemy of the proletariat, Big Oil. Oil companies earn an average of nine cents to every consumer dollar, far less than the profit margin of dairy companies or coffee producers. There is no point in running a business unless a profit can be made. It is a fact of life.
Proposition 87 would make oil production unprofitable in California, and would result in loss of jobs, and diminish the cash flow in the economy. It is, in reality, a punitive tax, which would result in drastically higher fuel costs throughout the United States, bringing about drastically higher inflation rates. But, no matter, we can just blame all that on Bush and the Republicans, no matter what the cause, right?
To be sure, reduced reliance on foreign oil is a very worthy goal to work toward, as is speeding up research on alternative fuels and alternative energy sources. But, as those resources are not immediately available, proposition 87 would actually increase the demand for foreign oil. That means more money for Al Qaeda and Hezbollah. I suppose the proletariat would blame that on Bush, as well.
In truth, what Prop 89 proposes is that billions of dollars be taken out of the economy, used to hire bureaucrats--read those who contributed to certain legislative and administrative campaigns--to "administer" the taxpayers' contribution to alternative energy research, then return the twenty- or thirty-thousand dollars that is left over back to the economy, to be used for such research. That is the way Big Government works.
In consensus reality--as opposed to California reality--funds from the private sector and free trade commerce more efficiently provide energy research companies with more capital that can be used for actual research.
Why not, instead, offer tax incentives to the energy companies to spend more research money on alternative resources? That is where the money is going to be in what is, ideally, the near future. The oil companies will eventually have to switch to producing alternative energy, anyway, so why not give them incentive to begin research now? That is, after all, what the executives get the big bucks for anyway, isn't it?
Libertarian philosophy does not tolerate government meddling in the affairs of private enterprise, but, as long as Big Government is going to hold your hand while you cross the street, why not charge Starbucks a fee for opening drive up windows? Why not use revenues from public parking and toll roads for energy research, and development of alternative energy resources? Why can't we figure out ways to reduce the demand for gasoline and fossil fuels? This makes more sense than destroying the economy in the name of conservation.
Hopefully, common sense will prevail, and Proposition 87 will be defeated in the polls, but then, common sense and California aren't exactly best of friends, are they?

Correction--Note to Self: The name of the leader of Hezbollah in Lebanon is Nasrallah, not Rasmallah. Writing from memory is not always the best way to check facts. Apologies to my readers.

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Libertarian Candidates need to stress Pragmatics

There are some Libertarian candidates in some states who have done something that Libertarians have never done before--played politics to the polls. In response to polls, Gubernatorial candidates in several states have declared that they would order "their" National Guard units home from Iraq and Afghanistan, on the premise that they are their fighting an "illegal" war, and that they are not there in direct defense of the United States.
I understand, and support the basic Libertarian tenet that US armed forces should be used only for the direct defense of our nation, but to say those troops are being used for purposes other than the defense of our nation is naive. It is by the words of our enemies, those who are sworn to the destruction of the United States, that we know that their victory in Afghanistan and Iraq will be used to strengthen their ranks and resources. Having control over a nation would not only bring us back to the situation that brought about the attacks on 9/11, but would give them even greater resources than they had in 2001. As long as we are still dependent on foreign oil--a situation that cannot be remedied over-night, no matter how much research on alternative resources is being done--a jihadist monopoly on oil is all they need to devastate the economy of Capitalism throughout the world. There would be no free enterprise, one of the Sacred Cows of Libertarianism. It isn't one of the leaders of the United States saying this; it is the leaders of the radical Jihadist elements who are saying this. If we withdraw our troops from either of those countries, leaving a failed state behind, our enemies will declare it a victory, just as Nasrallah considered the ruination of Beruit and the deaths of hundreds of innocent Lebanese civilians by his actions a victory. Victory for the Jihadists will strengthen that movement, and make it even more dangerous to our national security. You have to look at the big picture, look at the future and the results of our actions, and get out of the 2003 frame of mind.
It is hypocritical of a Libertarian to ignore "innocent until proven guilty," another Libertarian principle. We cannot say that the war is illegal until we can say for sure that the intelligence that led Clinton and Bush to believe that Saddam was an immediate threat to our national security was known to be flawed. That will be hard to prove, considering that the UN weapons inspectors were denied access to certain facilities in Iraq on their final tour in November 2002, and left without ever inspecting those facilities. It is even harder to prove now, since it has been discovered that plans for building nuclear weapons were included among the documents posted from Saddam's portfolio on the US government website until November 2nd. Are we really calling the former Iraqi Air Force Generals al Tikriti and Sada liars when they swear that they shipped what they took to be wmd and nuclear materials to Syria aboard Russian cargo aircraft in February 2003? It still, to this day, is very hard to prove that, right up to D-day, Saddam didn't have stockpiles of weapons that he had said he would use against US interests. The people of Iraq were not forced to vote. They voted in spite of violent pressure not to. We cannot relegate those people back to imprisonment by a tyrannical government. That would be against Libertarian principles
I'm not saying that invasion and war is the best solution. There were a lot of mistakes made, and rectifying those mistakes is even harder. Paul Bremmer mismanaged the interim government, and even anti-jihadi, pro-American Muslims, Egyptians, and Arabs criticize the coalition forces for not initially sending enough troops to prevent disaster, and not paying enough attention to creating jobs and repairing the infrastructure.
Another criticism of the coalition forces is that they didn't overthrow Saddam in 1991, or support the insurgency against Saddam, as we should have in the aftermath of the Gulf War. Clinton wanted to do that in 1998, but he was stymied by the unnecessary, frivolous, and costly impeachment proceedings. We can't go back in time to rectify the situation, but we can do it now. It's just much more costly and difficult now, especially the way it is being done now.
I like the suggestion that some pundits have made that there should be a program for jobs similar to the WPA in 1930's America. But that is the responsibility of the Iraqi government, not the American taxpayers. I would take that several steps further--Wal-Mart, McDonald's, Intel, and the like should be encouraged to set up shop in Iraq. I know, you'll say that they would be targets for anti-American violence, but they don't need to do business in the violent areas of that country. Start in Iraqi Kurdistan, which has been peaceful since April of 2003. Stay away from Baghdad, Tikrit, and the Anbar province--there are eleven other Iraqi provinces that are not experiencing violence. The poor and the jobless will move out of Sadr city to get jobs. They will loose their incentives for violence against the Iraqi government as they become part of the work force. The insurgency forces would be diluted, divided, and diminished. In order for that to work, Iraq needs a better police force. I say that the training of the police force be privatized. Let companies that deal with law enforcement and security contract with the Iraqi government to do the training and recruitment of the police force.
We should, perhaps, diminish the number of actual trigger pullers in our forces in Iraq, and concentrating more on logistics, air support, intelligence, and training. We need to encourage the new Iraqi government to tell us what exactly they want or need from us, and we need to work with that government on what they could do to help us develop an exit strategy. In a nutshell--the conduct of the operation is not up to politicians, it is the job of diplomats, entrepreneurs, and generals.
The Libertarian candidate should stress his or her strong points--the points of Libertarianism that cannot be rationally argued against. Personal responsibility, charity from the smallest possible community rather than welfare from Federal bureaucracy, an end to Big Government spending, states' rights, individual freedom, the Fair Tax proposal from Neal Boortz and others, the repeal of the Federal payroll and personal income tax laws, an end to Federal micromanagement of our daily lives, the repeal of laws creating victimless crimes, a level economic playing field, equal rights for everybody, strict constitutional limits on the Federal government--these are all strengths in the Libertarian principles.
As far as foreign policy, trade policy, and diplomacy goes, Natan Sharansky's The Case For Democracy should be required reading for all Libertarians. Sharansky was a voice for the dissidents in the old Soviet Union, and is still a voice that should be heard in the foundation of international liberty. One of his main points is that there is no such thing as a benevolent dictatorship. His argument on this point is very compelling, based on the fact that a dictator must create unstable situations in order to not be overthrown himself. Sharansky is a good example and a strong voice for international Libertarianism.
The Libertarian Party needs to be able to capitalize on its successes. Gary Johnson, for instance, was a Libertarian who got elected twice as the Governor of New Mexico, running as a Republican, but practicing Libertarian policy, somewhat successfully. He did not practice politics-as-usual during his tenure. Instead, he repealed the Blue Laws in New Mexico, reducing DWI violations in that state by 42%. He successfully. challenged the Federal Government over the right of the sovereign Native American nation in New Mexico to operate a casino. He reduced taxes and government spending, and made the economic environment in that state conducive to economic growth. Johnson held the highest elected position any Libertarian in America has held since the presidency of Thomas Jefferson. Libertarians should have taken that and run with it, instead we dropped the ball. We had the highly respected and widely read National Review on our side--during Johnson's tenure, Libertarian and Libertarianism were words often seen in that publication, but we failed to take advantage of that. It was an audition that the Libertarian philosophy passed, but failed to capitalize on.
Alan Greenspan held the highest post that any Libertarian has ever been appointed to in US history. As head of the Federal Reserve Bank, an entity Greenspan philosophically opposes, he virtually did nothing to control money supply, and created an economy strong enough to withstand an enemy attack on American soil, natural disasters, and high gasoline and fuel prices. There are now more jobs, and higher trading volume than ever, and the credit goes not to any Government administration, but to Greenspan. This is another audition that Libertarian principles passed. Libertarian candidates should really try to capitalize on it.
Politics-as-usual is not the Libertarian way. Libertarian candidates should be able to stress this point in a positive light. We are the only party for which "Vote for me, because I'm not the other guy," can effectively work. Pragmatics, not politics” should be our catchphrase.

Friday, November 03, 2006

Pre Election Venting

It is only four days away from Election Day, and I have to vent. I don't care which faction of the Demopublican Party takes the majority in Congress. They are all basically the same. No matter who takes the HOR and/or the Senate, we'll still have a Congress that is trying to extend its power outside its constitutional limits. We are still going to get a lot of talk and accusations, and very little action.
If you haven't noticed, there is very little substance to any of the political campaigns--it's all "Vote for me because I'm not the other guy."
If you do not believe that the Demopublcan system is a one party system, just look at how difficult it is in most states to get on the ballot as an independent or third party candidate. Impossibly large numbers of valid signatures under impossibly short deadlines ensure that the so-called "major parties" maintain their control of state governments and electorates without serious opposition.
Still, there are plenty of issues that will still compel me to go to the voting booth next Tuesday. I have already posted items in support of the legalization of marijuana, and equal rights for domestic partners, but there are other issues which interest me as well. On the Colorado ballot, for instance, is one that will make the citizens' initiative petition process easier and fairer. It will, if passed, put legislation back in the hands of the people, and take away the power of the single party system. If passed, Amendment 38 to the Colorado Constitution will add some cost to the taxpayer, but that cost will be offset by the ability of the citizen to get more costly earmarked and frivolous legislation repealed. It is an issue very important to me.
And there are the Libertarian candidates. Even though I don't see eye to eye with some of them on national security issues, I will vote for any candidate who is on the ballot as a Libertarian. The Libertarian Party has two basic planks on its platform--the Constitution of the United States, including the original ten articles of the Bill of Rights, and the idea of freedom described in the Declaration of Independence.
My point is, that even if there is nobody running for office that you might like, it is still important to get out and vote. You don't have to vote for any candidate, if you don't want to, just go and vote for the issues that are important to you.
There are only two more days in which I may post items pertaining to the elections. I don't have web access on Sundays, so Saturday and Monday are the only days on which I have an opportunity to be an activist for or against some issues. So, I probably won’t get all the information out I want to, for I'm still tied to a public computer, but, please, for your sake, get involved in what you feel is important. Vote.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

October Surprise

I try to stay away from the politicing going on between the factions of the Demopublican Party--after all, it doesn't concern me, as I vote Libertarian*, anyway.
John Kerry's now infamous remarks are too much for me to resist making a short comment. What he actually said, not what he meant to say, is what the world heard. If he didn't have a history of denegrading the military, we might be more inclined to accept his explaination. If his G.P.A. at Yale had been higher than George Bush's, then we might understand that he was trying to make a "dumb George" joke. If he didn't try to make a political issue of his faux pas, accusing the majority faction of distorting what he meant to say rather than apologizing for his mistatement, we might not see him as, once again, "the gift that keeps on giving" to the current majority faction.

*I have some issues with some Libertarian candidates in that they believe that liberty is only good for America and not in other parts of the world. That is the subject of another blog item, which will be posted in a few days. I will say here, that I am more of a Libertarian Internationalist than a Libertarian Nationalist, and that I will continue to vote Libertarian as a matter of principle.

Return of the Six-Party Talks

North Korea has agreed to rejoin the six party talks concerning that nation's nuclear arms inbvolvement and its ability to establish relations with the rest of the world. If Kim Jong Il doesn't change his mind, the talks, involving North Korea, South Korea, Japan, China, Russia, and the United States are scheduled to resume before the end of the year.
Some credit could be given to the UN Security Council's resolution imposing sanctions on North Korea, but the main mover on this developement was The People's Republic of China. We knew that China was more important in bringing North Korea back to the table than the United States was, for China is that rogue nation's closest trade ally, and the US no longer had anything to offer or take away from the North. The Chinese expressed their disappointment with North Korea in its testing of a nuclear weapon, and have been in intense talks with that government. It seems that they have met with success.
The talks will likely include incentives for the Pyong-Yang government to abandon its nuclear weapons ambitions, to restore basic human rights to its people, and to enter legitimate trade deals with the rest of the world. Nothing should be given to the North Korean government that is not incentive for meeting these criteria. Hopefully the fickle leadership of North Korea will not back out before the talks can resume.

Monday, October 30, 2006

Time is Relative

Anybody who lives with at least one cat has an idea of the relativity of time. What is two hours to many of us may be an instant to a cat, or what seems like an instant to us seems like eternity to a cat.

Hats off to the local Wendy's and Taco Bell restaurants, who declined to "fall back" Sunday morning. Not only did they open an hour early, but they had customers at 10 AM. Nobody's going to tell them what time it is.

Blogger had a technical problem Saturday which prevented many of us from being able to publish a post. I intended to clarify that Friday's "Quote of the week" was made with a great amount of sarcasm, on the part of Mr. Gaiman. I would hope that my readers caught the sarcasm, but I just wanted to make sure that the intent was clear. It applies to anybody who criticizes anything without actually reading it, hearing it, or seeing it.

I am a permanent resident in an Inn that does not have internet access, so I am limited to an hour a day on-line, as I have to use a public computer in order to go on-line. So time is important to me, and connection failures make me feel like this:

Friday, October 27, 2006

Quote of the Week

This one will be on my sidebar, eventually. It's from Sci-Fi/Fantasy author Neil Gaiman, one of my favorites, from his blog "Neil Gaiman's Journal."

It's always best to be offended by things you haven't read. That way you keep your mind uncluttered by things that might change it.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Say No To Prohibition

On the Colorado General Election Ballot:
Amendment 44
Marijuana Possession
Ballot Title:
An ammendment to secton 18-18-406 (1) of the Colorado rvisd statutes making legal the possession of one ounce or less of marihuana for any person twenty-one years of age or older.

One of the most difficult issues to address in today's society is the argument against prohibition. It is, perhaps, the hottest of the political hot potatoes, and the most difficult to present, because people immediately think this guy --or gal--must be high! One need only look back a few years to see this general reaction when former New Mexico Governor Gary Johnson, a Libertarian who ran and got elected as a Republican, merely suggested that a dialog on repealing prohibition be opened. He was strongly criticized by Republicans, and become the butt of jokes and personal attacks by both branches of the Demopublican Party. A person who uses the word "decriminalize," or "legalize," and the word "marijuana" in the same sentence is accused of being a radical liberal, unless that person's name isWilliam F. Buckley, Jr.
I submit that most arguments either for or against prohibition seem to be written by people who seem to be not on marijuana, but on crack or LSD. The argument that marijuana "leads to the use of more dangerous drugs," is absurd and has no scientific substance. The argument that marijuana is "as safe as alcohol" is equally absurd, because unmoderated alcohol abuse is highly dangerous.
It is also necessary, when making arguments against prohibition, to declare "I am not under the influence of, nor do I condone the use of marijuana for recreational purposes."
There is a serious cost of prohibition, both in financial and in human terms. Prohibition creates an underground economy, run by criminal elements and corrupt officials, and makes it difficult to regulate who buys the product and from whom it is bought. As Buckley points out, it is easier for an underage person to buy marijuana than it is to buy beer or alcohol products, because beer and alcohol are regulated, and marijuana isn't.
It can't be proven that marijuana leads to harder drugs. If that were true, nearly everyone I know would be a heroin, cocaine, or metha-amphetemine addict. Rather, I submit, that it is the prohibition of marijuana which has led to the abuse of aerosols, amphyl- and butyl- nitrates, prescription drugs, and to the rise of "bathtub" metha-amphetemines. Because of marijuana prohibition and the enforcement thereof, in many parts of the country, these substances are more readily available than marijuana.
Many of us have seen those advertisements which link marijuana use to terrorism and subversive elements. Again, this can be blamed on marijuana prohibition, as much of that product is smuggled into the country, and the money goes to FARQ in Columbia, to the Shining Path Maoist movement in Peru and Chile, to fanatical Islamist terrorist organizations in the Phillipines, and to organizations in Venezuela and Bolivia which train and support terrorists who find their way inside US borders. Mexican Cartels and corrupt officials in that country profit greatly from marijuana prohibition in the United States. An end to prohibition would give the U.S more control over the distrubution of marijuana money. Legalization of the possession of small amounts of marijuana is only a small step toward what really needs to be done--domestic cultivation of marijuana needs to be legalized in order to prevent the funding of terrorist groups. The opening of legal marijuana trade with such countries as Jamaica and Canada is also something that should be looked at down the road, in order to prevent the money from falling into the wrong hands.
An argument used to support prohibition is illustrated by this little tidbit from the Colorado voters' guide, under the heading "Estimate of Fiscal Impact:"
Ammendment 44 may reduce state and local government revenues because fines would no longer be assessed for adult marijuana possession of one ounce or less.

Prohibition proponants see legalization as a suppression of their ability to create and support excessive bureaucracy. Prohibition also allows governments to confiscate private property without a conviction, and without just compensation. But the cost of enforcement outweighs the benifits of the fines and property auctions. Law enforcement resources are distracted from crimes against Natural Law, and more people are in jail for smoking a joint than there are for committing such crimes as rape, burglary, robbery, or assault. This all costs the taxpayers money which could be used for something else, mainly more efficient law enforcement which would better protect us from violent crimes.
The pro-prohibition element claims that legalization would increase marijuana use. In the referenced essay, Buckley laughs at the notion, and points out that The Netherlands has had legal marijuana for years, yet the percentage of the population that uses marijuana is no greater than the marijuana using percentage of the US population. I agree with Buckley, because the notion of doing something just because it is legal is ridiculous. Alcohol consumption and Cigarette smoking are legal, but not everybody smokes cigarettes or drinks alcohol. Eating pork is legal, but not everybody eats pork. It all comes down to personal responsibility, something that no US government from the time of FDR to present wants to recognize in the general population. Social Darwinism isn't necessarily a good thing, but it is a part of nature. Vices will always be with us, law or no law, and everybody chooses their own vices. Morality can not be legislated. It is time to just say no to marijuana prohibition laws.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Say "Thank-you"

There is a website "Let's Say Thanks," from which you can send a postcard of thanks to a military person overseas. Our fighting men and women have been going through a tough time, especially this month. Please take time to visit the site. Whether you believe in the mission or not, these people deserve our thanks.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Red Letter Day

This morning, Tuesday, October 17, 2006, at 7:35 EDT, the population of the United States reached three hundred million, according to the US Census Bureau. Since this information comes from a bureaucracy, we probably actually hit that mark about 8 years ago, and it likely took millions of tax dollars to fund the studies that made the figure official. Nonetheless, the United States of America is now the third most populated country in the world, behind China and India.

Today is also the eightieth anniversary of the foundation of the Anti-Imperialism Union, being celebrated in a country that came about as the result of Red Chinese imperialism--North Korea To celebrate, the impoverished people of North Korea get to use electricity after 9:00 PM and watch fireworks, which is probably like watching much needed food going up in smoke.

China signed on to the sanctions against North Korea, but made a statement indicating that they would not do much to enforce those sanction. However, the Chinese are building a fence along the border between their country and NK, have been stopping and inspecting trucks, and are now allowing public access to anti-North Korean regime blogs which they have previously blocked. According to US foreign policy experts, this is the Chinese way of enforcing the sanctions, and showing their displeasure with their neighbor and ally, without officially acknowledging that they are complying with the UN Security Council sanctions.

Monday, October 16, 2006

The United Nations Security Council has unaminously approved and adopted the resolution imposing sanctions on North Korea for its activity in testing what is now confirmed to be a nuclear weapon. The sanction, after much negotiation and compromise between the US, France, Great Britain, Russia, China, and Japan. The sanctions include a ban on trade in nuclear and weapons technology, on travel by North Korean government officials, and on trade in luxury items. The resolution also declares that North Korea must cease its nuclear weapons program. Basically, the sanctions are designed to affect the government of North Korea, and not the people of that country.
How this will change North Korea's behavior is uncertain at this time, but in the past we have seen that UN sanctions and resolutions have had little effect on the actions of roque governments such as Kim Jong Il's.
The North Korean government will more than likely ignore the resolution, and continue to test nuclear weapons.
China has objected to the resolution's call to inspect cargo entering and leaving North Korea, but as of the time of this writing, they are reportedly inspecting trucks entering and leaving the country. China has the most sway over the PROK (People's Republic of Korea), being its primary trade partner. South Korea has also kept trade open with its northern neighbor, but 80% of the North's oil fuels come from China. The US has nothing to give or take from its trade relations with North Korea, so the most influence on that country does come from China. In order for the UN resolution to work, China must comply with the sanctions it voted for in the Security Council.
There is a lot of political finger pointing going on in the US, but the truth be told, most US politicians agree that it is the North Korean regime that has been developing the neuclear weapons since 1985. The four US administrations since then have tried various strategies, none of which have been successful, and some of which have merely empowered the ruling Kim Dynasty. In the long run, no matter what North Korea has agreed to, the agreement has always been broken.
If all the signatories to the UN Security Council resolution abide by that resolution and enforce the sanctions, this strategy may work, and return some prestige to the UN. But in the end, it is China, not the US which much deal directly with Kim Jong Il.