Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Partisan Politics Stikes Again

Remember high school? You know, that period in your life that, on one hand, you'd like to remember fondly for the friends, fun times, and frolic. But on the other hand, that period in your life you'd like to forget because of the immaturity, infighting, and imbecility of it all. Yesterday, the House of Representatives acted like everything we'd like to forget about the high school experience. Those we've elected to represent our interests on a national level acted like high school kids involved in a battle over who would get to sit at the best table in the lunchroom or date the homecoming queen (king).

The insertion of partisan politics into what should have been a bi-partisan effort to address a looming financial crisis (whether the crisis is real or not doesn't matter when people and investors believe it's real) was just as immature and imbecilic as anything we should be ashamed of in high school. Both political parties are responsible for this failure. No wonder Congress' approval ratings are so low, when those who should be our leaders can't put aside partisan politics to work together for the good of the nation and those they purport to lead.

The Democrats and Speaker Pelosi are responsible for their continued partisan attacks and "get Bush" finger pointing (most of which is inaccurate and incorrect) since this crisis arose. (Read one liberal blogger's opinion why Speaker Pelosi has to go.) As I've said before, the "Why" is important only in order to figure out how to prevent it from happening again. It seems like everything the Democrats do, every action they take or speech they make, is designed to, somehow, point blame at Bush, McCain, Palin or the Republicans. Even in the bi-partisan meeting at the White House last week to discuss the pending crisis and propose a possible solution, the reports are that the Democrats, through their spokesperson Senator Obama, injected partisan politics and angered those they were supposed to work with in order to decide what action needed to be taken. Did they not want a bi-partisan effort to succeed? But the capstone of this partisan political finger pointing was Speaker Pelosi's ill-conceived and ill-timed partisan tirade on the floor of the House Chamber just before the bail-out bill vote. What in the world was she thinking? Wasn't this supposed to be a bi-partisan effort, with our leaders working in concert to avert a continued economic meltdown? Was she deliberately trying to sabotage the passage of this bill? Did she want to alienate the House Republicans? She's no political neophyte and had to know what she was doing when she launched that shot across the Republican bow. Is it because she didn't have sufficient Democrat votes to pass the bill, even though the Democrats control the House, and so decided to take the nuclear option of a political tirade to try to shift blame?

The House Republicans' actions are just as bad. If, indeed, they changed their vote because of Speaker Pelosi's tirade, they fell right into her potential trap and looked like immature high schoolers who decided to let their hurt feelings override their common sense. It gave her, and the Democrats a chance to blame the bill's failure on the House Republicans rather than accept where that the real failure lies with them. I don't know if the Republican leadership had sufficient votes to pass the legislation, or not, but they if they didn't they should have said so and not blamed Pelosi's speech, no matter how incendiary it was. Most conservatives will have had legitimate concerns about the bailout bill; it grows government and spends taxpayer money in a way that is antithetical to conservative principles. It is the next best thing to nationalizing some banking interests, and is more akin to socialism than conservatism. I can understand why House Republicans who want to stick to their political principles would vote against the bill. I also happen to respect legislators who listen to the needs of their constituents, and it seems like most of the House Republicans had constituents who were vehemently opposed to the bailout bill. Those are legitimate reasons to vote against the bill; not because their feelings were hurt by the Democrat Speaker's partisan political tirade.

So what's next? Almost everyone agrees that the Government needs to do something. What shape that "something" will take remains to be seen; but what is very clear (at least to me) is that our representatives need to stop the partisan political bickering. As Senator McCain says, there needs to be a stop to the blame-game. There's a time and a place for political wrangling; and there is no place for it when there is a real (or perceived-real) crisis facing the nation. Our legislators and national leaders need to get it together and work toward a solution, and not play high school one-up-manship. Grow up, will ya!

Check out what Time says about the political credibility crisis.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Conspiracy Theories, Anyone?

I'm not normally willing to take the first answer given, instead, I want to know what's "underneath." You know . . . what's the reason for the answer, or what's behind the action taken. Maybe it's my profession that makes me want to see the cause and effect, to look for the motive, to understand the "why." I am a lawyer, after all, and have done my share of courtroom work. I also tend to look for connections; because nothing stands alone. Perhaps that's why I enjoy conspiracy theories; even though I'm usually very skeptical about them. (Maybe I enjoy a good conspiracy-theory because I grew up on the post-Kennedy assignation fascination with just who was really on the grassy knoll.) Anyway, in recent days I've wondered just what, or who, was behind the "economic crisis" and speculated whether the "crisis" was real, or manufactured and manipulated to implode just before the Presidential election.

So it was with real interest that I read an article by Jim Simpson posted on American Thinker, titled Barrack Obama and the Strategy of Manufactured Crisis. I strongly suggest you go read the entire article. It's lengthy, but it will make you think. I'm not certain I agree with Mr. Simpson's entire premise, I am a skeptic, after all; but he's done a lot of work and has documented his sources.

According to Mr. Simpson's theory, the "financial crisis" is just another manufactured crisis designed to lead this Nation into a form of Marxist-Socialism. Mr. Simpson posits that the current crisis is just another successful effort made by the far-left liberal fringe, guided by the Cloward-Privin Strategy first proposed by two radical socialist professors at Colombia in 1966. This strategy "seeks to hasten the fall of capitalism by overloading government bureaucracy with a flood of impossible demands, thus pushing society into crisis and economic collapse." (From Discover the Networks.org, a right-wing site.) According to Mr. Simpson, the strategy has three main features:

1. The offensive organizes previously unorganized groups eligible for government benefits but not currently receiving all they can.
2. The offensive seeks to identify new beneficiaries and/or create new benefits.
3. The overarching aim is always to impose new stresses on target systems, with the ultimate goal of forcing their collapse.


In order to overload government bureaucracies, the strategy relies on a cadre of community organizers who, in the guise of working for the poor and afflicted, try to use our laws, policies, and practices against us. These community organizers have been successful in expanding the welfare rolls, and according to Rudy Giuliani, were behind the dramatic increase in New York City's welfare caseloads. In 1960, NYC had 150,000 welfare cases. In 1970, welfare cases had risen to 1.5 million. According to Mr. Giuliani, the strategy was also behind the shift from viewing welfare as a temporary solution to help those with no where else to go, to a life-time entitlement.

According to Mr. Simpson, community organizers (such as ACORN, the organization Senator Obama worked for) are also an integral part of the radical-left's implementation of the Cloward-Privin strategy. ACORN is active in voting registration drives that seek to sign up voters who will support leftist policies, are active in voting fraud, and advocate giving felons and illegal immigrants the right to vote. ACORN is also extremely active in pushing banks and lending companies to provide sub-prime mortgages to those who would otherwise not be able to qualify for a mortgage. It was these sub-prime mortgages which created the housing bubble that, when it burst, was the prime cause behind the current financial crisis.

According to Mr. Simpson, the Democrat Party in general and Senator Obama in particular, are heavily involved with ACORN. For example, he says that according to Senator Lindsay Graham, the Democrats want 20% of the bailout money appropriate by Congress to "solve" this "financial crisis" to go to ACORN. In Mr. Simpson's view,

This entire fiasco represents perhaps the pinnacle of ACORN's efforts to advance the Cloward-Piven Strategy and is a stark demonstration of the power they wield in Washington.

Mr. Simpson goes on to detail Senator Obama's associations with the radical-left, and his record of working on extreme liberal causes. He concludes that

Barrack Obama, the Cloward-Piven candidate, no matter how he describes himself, has been a radical activist for most of his political career. That activism has been in support of organizations and initiatives that at their heart seek to tear the pillars of this nation asunder in order to replace them with their demented socialist vision. Their influence has spread so far and so wide that despite their blatant culpability in the current financial crisis, they are able to manipulate Capital Hill politicians to cut them into $140 billion of the bailout pie!

Although I wonder at a lot of conspiracy theories (more tend to be fiction rather than fact) Mr. Simpson's theory of a conspiracy to threaten our way of life is more interesting than most. I hope it's not true. I hope that our politicians are not that manipulative. I hope that there's honor still existing in those who go into public service. Nevertheless, it does make you think. . .

UPDATE
It looks like the ACORN provisions have been removed from the final draft bailout plan. That's a good thing. Now I hope we get some details about the rest of the plan.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Going to War With Your Son!

I've been a spouse who was left behind when her husband deployed to a war zone. I've been a mother who was left behind when her son deployed to the same war zone a couple of years later. And I'm a mother who will be left behind when my daughter deploys in a few short months; I'll be left behind to care for her beloved child, my adored granddaughter. Each time I've been left behind I've thought that it would be so much easier if I was the one deploying. Being the one left behind is very hard for me. I'm the kind of person who wants to "do;" to be the one to "fix it;" to be the one "responsible." That's just who I am.

So I think I might be a bit jealous of Sgt Jane Strand of the 449th Theater Aviation Brigade, a North Carolina Army National Guardsman, who will deploy in the near future along with her son, Pvt. Timothy Strand. They're both in the same N.C. National Guard unit. How cool is that!

According to an article in the News & Observer Sgt Strand joined the Marine Corps when she was 17-years-old and served for 11 years, leaving only to raise her 6 children while she waited for her Marine husband to retire. Once he did, she enlisted in the N.C. National Guard. Her son, Pvt. Strand enlisted in the same National Guard unit as his mother this summer. He is her youngest child, only 18-years old. According to the article, Sgt Strand says her youngest son wanted to deploy with her to keep an eye on her; and she says she'll let him continue to think that. Cool! I think I like this woman! Sgt Strand says she's more concerned with her husband, who is being left behind to take care of kids and grandkids. Somehow, I think that a retired Marine, who has a woman like Sgt Strand for a wife, will be able to handle it. According to the article, Sgt Strand isn't worried about herself, or her sons (her oldest son is in the active Army). She says,

"Things can happen anywhere. Nothing is guaranteed in this life or the next, and you have to be ready for whatever is in your path. Attitude has everything to do with it."

Words to live by!

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Who's Playing the Race Card?

I don’t know that I’ve heard, or seen, anything coming out of Senator McCain’s campaign that has commented on or otherwise raised Senator Obama’s race. Anytime I hear, or see, something about race, it’s coming from Senator Obama, his campaign, or one of his supporters. Why is that? Is Senator Obama trying to capitalize on his race and the historical nature of “the first black man to run for President” to get him elected? Is he playing to those who will vote based solely on identity politics? Or does he think that he’ll be able to get those undecided voters out there to vote his ticket in an effort to be fair and not allow race to color their decision? I don’t know, but it’s a bit ridiculous how those who purportedly advocate racial equality are the same folks who keep inserting race into the equation. And how they’re doing it is equally ridiculous!

First, we have Senator Obama telling folks that some don’t think he should be President because he doesn’t look like all the other men on “those dollar bills.” OK. Who cares what a President looks like? Consider President Lincoln, for example. What are important are whether he can lead, and how strong his character is, and his vision for the Nation.

Then there’s all the people who find “code words” that conservatives and Senator McCain supporters supposedly use to (subliminally?) remind voters that Senator Obama is black. Things like Senator Biden calling him “clean and articulate,” which everyone should know means “he’s black.” Or delegates and speakers at the RNC talking about “community organizer,” which is repub-speak for “he’s black.” Or anyone saying Senator Obama is an “elitist” or “arrogant” which are, of course, synonyms for “uppity,” which means “he’s black.” We can’t call him “skinny” or “angry” or “risky.” All of those are questionable comments mean “he’s black.” And according to the President of the AFL-CIO, when anyone says Senator Obama is “too young” or “too inexperienced,” “What they’re really saying is, ‘He’s black.’”

Well who cares if Senator Obama is black, or of mixed-race, or of any race at all? Race has nothing to do with a person’s character or a person’s policies or, ultimately, a person’s qualifications for political office. Just as it would be a shame to vote against Senator Obama based on race, it would be a shame to vote for him because he’s black. We should judge Senator Obama’s qualifications to be President based on his actions, judgment, policy, and character; not the color of his skin. In my opinion, he doesn’t have what it takes in any of those categories. Which could be why he and his operatives have been trying to play the “race card:” to get votes from those middle-of-the-roaders who want to be ubber-fair. What do you think?

Who is the Bigot Here?

Representative Alcee Hastings (D-FL), a member of the Congressional Black Caucus and a former federal judge who was impeached for bribery and perjury, spoke at a rally of Jews for Obama on Wednesday. Here’s what he said,

”If Sarah Palin isn’t enough of a reason for you to get over whatever your problem is with Barrack Obama, then you damn well had better pay attention. Anybody toting guns and stripping moose don’t care too much about what they do with Jews and blacks. So, you just think this through.”

Bad grammar aside, does Representative Hastings really suggest that Governor Palin, and those like her who enjoy hunting, do so because they want to come after Jews and black people? Is he serious? I fail to see how hunting animals, for sport or for meat, equates to bigotry. I fail to see how owning a weapon, something guaranteed by the Second Amendment to our Constitution, means the owner is somehow biased against minorities. Most of all, I fail to see how someone as obviously bigoted as Representative Hastings keeps getting re-elected.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Hubris

According to an article on Hot Air, Senator Obama's campaign had ordered coins showing Senator Obama's image, the White House, and the legend "President of the United States." Interesting. Doesn't he have to be elected first? And isn't election day in November? This ranks up there with the other evidence of the cult of personality surrounding (and encouraged by) Senator Obama; his "neo-presidential seal" and the pagan temple setting at the DNC.

VA & Traumatic Brain Injuries

The Washington Post reports that a new VA regulation permits veterans with the mildest form of traumatic brain injury to receive up to a 40% disability rating; up from a max of 10%. This is great news! Our veterans are better protected against some injuries, but returning vets who have suffered some form of traumatic brain injury (from an IED explosion, for example) could suffer memory loss, chronic headaches, anxiety, or other symptoms that could interfere with their ability to succeed in life. Now, I don't want to make everyone into a "victim" here, not everyone who served is disabled, but if there really is a traumatic brain injury that really does interfere with a vet's ability to function normally; then giving them some disability is the right thing to do. We owe it to them!

What? No Partisanship?

Senator McCain has announced that he'll suspend campaigning in order to focus on a response to the "economic crisis." He's asked Senator Obama to join him is setting aside politics in order to reach a clear consensus on how to resolve the meltdown. In making the announcement, Senator McCain said,

"We must meet as Americans, not as Democrats or Republicans, and we must meet until this crisis is resolved. I am confident that before the markets open on Monday we can achieve consensus on legislation that will stabilize our financial markets, protect taxpayers and homeowners, and earn the confidence of the American people. All we must do to achieve this is temporarily set politics aside, and I am committed to doing so."

IT'S ABOUT TIME! I wish more politicians would ditch the partisan wrangling and work at getting things done! Let's hope Senator Obama has the character to join Senator McCain, President Bush, and others from both parties in figuring out the best way to lead this Country, and Wall Street, away from the threat of economic panic. After all, didn't we elect them to lead?

UPDATE!!

In suspending his campaign, Senator McCain asked that Friday's debate be postponed. Well, it seems Senator Obama will not suspend his campaign, and doesn't want to delay the debate. It seems he thinks that anyone who wants to be President ought to be able to "multitask." He's missing the point. The point is that the presidential campaign is, by its nature, devisive and politicized. Senator McCain recognizes that a good solution to the "economic crisis" requires a consensus, not devisive politics as usual. I don't know why I'm surprised by Senator Obama's position. After all, his entire career in the Senate has been nothing but a run for the White House. I guess I shouldn't expect him to have the character to put the Nation's needs before his own.

The Ant & The Grasshopper

I just received this from my Dad's cousin, George Smiley. I can't take credit for it; but it was just too interesting not to post it here:

The Ant & the Grasshopper in 2008: Two Different Versions! Two Different Morals!

THE OLD VERSION

The ant works hard in the withering heat all summer long, building his house and laying up supplies for the winter.

The grasshopper thinks the ant is a fool and laughs and dances and plays the summer away. Come winter, the ant is warm and well fed.The grasshopper has no food or shelter, so he dies out in the cold.

THE MORAL OF THE STORY: Be responsible for yourself.

*************************************

THE MODERN VERSION

The ant works hard in the withering heat all summer long, building his house and laying up supplies for the winter.

The grasshopper thinks the ant is a fool and laughs and dances and plays the summer away.

Come winter, the shivering grasshopper calls a press conference and demands to know why the ant should be allowed to be warm and well fed while others are cold and starving.

CBS, NBC, PBS, CNN, and ABC show up to provide pictures of the shivering grasshopper next to a video of the ant in his comfortable home with a table filled with food. Americais stunned by the sharp contrast. How can this be, that in a country of such wealth, this poor grasshopper is allowed to suffer so ?

Kermit the Frog appears on Oprah with the grasshopper, and everybody cries when they sing, 'It's Not Easy Being Green.'

Jesse Jackson stages a demonstration in front of the ant's house where the news stations film the group singing, 'We shall overcome.' Jesse then has the group kneel down to pray to God for the grasshopper's sake.

Nancy Pelosi & John Kerry exclaim in an interview with Larry King that the ant has gotten rich off the back of the grasshopper, and both call for an immediate tax hike on the ant to make him pay his fair share.

Hillary and Barack go on national television agreeing that the plight of the grasshopper is the fault of George Bush.

Finally, the EEOC drafts the Economic Equity & Anti-Grasshopper Act retroactive to the beginning of the summer.

The ant is fined for failing to hire a proportionate number of green bugs and, having nothing left to pay his retroactive taxes, his home is confiscated by the government.

Obama gets his old law firm to represent the grasshopper in a defamation suit against the ant, and the case is tried before a panel of federal judges that Bill Clinton appointed from a list of single-parent welfare recipients.

The ant loses the case.

The story ends as we see the grasshopper finishing up the last bits of the ant's food while the government house he is in, which just happens to be the ant's old house, crumbles around him because he doesn't maintain it.

The ant has disappeared in the snow.

The grasshopper is found dead in a drug related incident and the house, now abandoned, is taken over by a gang of spiders who terrorize the once peaceful neighborhood.

THE MORAL OF THE STORY: Be very careful how you vote in 2008.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Identity Politics Ver. 2.0

Although I didn’t hear it, and I can’t find it on the internet, a “trusted associate” called me this morning about a comment made on the Russ Parr Morning Show on 93.3 WKYS, a hip hop radio station in Washington DC. Apparently, one of the hosts (a female) was discussing a report that one of Senator McCain’s forefathers owned land in the south and presumably owned slaves. According to my “trusted associate,” the female host then said that if you’re black and your last name is “McCain,” you probably were owned by Senator McCain’s great-something grandfather. Apparently some of the other hosts had a slight problem with that blanket statement, and cautioned the female host to wait a minute. She didn’t. According to my “trusted associate,” she went on to say, “If you’re black and a Republican, you’re an Uncle . . .” at which point the statement was interrupted and all of a sudden the group was talking about something else. It seems the station’s built-in broadcast delay works well.

My “trusted associate” was incensed by these comments, as am I. It appeared to her, as it does to me, that the female host was urging people to vote based on their identity as a part of a certain group, or risk not being a “real” member of that group. I’ve ranted here in the past about the stupidity of identity politics. I see it as a form of prejudice; particularly when coupled with comments about slave-owning great-whatever grandparents; who did so when owning slaves was legal (if not moral). What difference does it make that Senator McCain’s great-whatever grandfather may have owned slaves? Nothing! What possible impact could that potentially slave-owning forefather have on Senator McCain’s policies and attitudes about race? Absolutely nothing! It appears to me that Senator McCain has done everything he can to keep race from being inserted into this election; even though Senator Obama and his party keeps trying to do so, and make the election a “historic” referendum on race.

Voters should vote for any candidate, particularly a presidential candidate, based on the voter’s individual assessment of the candidate’s character and policies; not because the voter identifies with the candidate’s race or gender. To do anything less minimizes the seriousness of a person’s vote and undercuts the value of our democracy.

Why a Bailout?

Now I’m not an economist or a financial wiz. I don’t have some “inside” story or scoop on the current financial situation. I’m only a concerned citizen-taxpayer watching the market, the mortgage “crisis,” and the failure of large investment companies. And I’m wondering why? Why has there been a failure in the mortgage industry? Why are these large investment banks failing? But most of all, why is it the responsibility of the American taxpayer to bail them out? Potentially to the tune of $700 Billion!

Before we decide how to resolve the crisis, isn’t it important to know what contributed to it? In this election year, there’s bound to be a lot of partisan finger-pointing; and it looks like there’s sufficient blame on both sides to satisfy the most rabid political partisan. But who cares who or what is to blame. The real question is why? If we identify why this “crisis” happened and what contributed to it, we could better identify how to resolve it and, most of all, how to prevent it from happening again.

The Democrats, and those supporting an Obama presidency, claim it was deregulation of the banking and mortgage industries. For example, the New York Times said in a Saturday editorial that, “This crisis is the result of a willful and systematic failure by the government to regulate and monitor the activities of bankers, lenders, hedge funds, insurers and other market players.” Those believers in big government and bureaucratic oversight claim that the 1999 Gramm-Leach-Bliley bank deregulation bill (by the way a bill sponsored by former-Senator Phil Gramm, who was a McCain advisor) is responsible for the financial meltdown.

The Gramm-Leach-Bliley bill eliminated 60-years of government bank regulation, and allowed commercial and investment banks to consolidate by repealing the Glass-Steagall Act that prevented banks from offering other financial services, like insurance, investments, or commercial banking. The bill was necessary to allow US banks to compete on the world-market, particularly with European banks who could offer “universal banking” to their customers. It’s interesting to note that the Gramm-Leach-Bliley bill was enthusiastically endorsed by Democrats, (including Senator Biden), passed the Senate with 90 of 100 votes, and was signed into law by President Clinton. So was it the root of this financial-crisis evil, as many Democrat pundits would have us believe? Probably not.

Despite the partisan desires of “big government” advocates to point to bank deregulation and Senator Gramm as the “ground zero” of the current financial troubles, deregulation is not the major contributing factor. Bank deregulation simply allowed financial service companies, like banks, to diversify their businesses. Diversification is a good thing, isn’t it? At least that’s what they tell us small investors. In fact, without the deregulation we might have had more taxpayer bailouts of financial institutions. Under the old regulations, some of the bigger, more diversified entities would not have been able to purchase troubled companies. J.P. Morgan would not have been able to take over Bear Stearns, for example. Most of the failing firms have been non-diversified commercial banks or purely investment banks.

So deregulation, per se, isn’t necessarily the root of the problem. Instead, the major contributor (it is too simplistic to say that there is a single failure that caused this mess) seems to be the push to provide high-risk mortgages to people who would not otherwise be able to buy their own home. Now, I’m all for home ownership, and I like the idea of affordable housing. Someone who has a stake in the community, in the form of a home, is more likely to be a responsible citizen. But, it looks to me like advocates for affordable housing lost track with reality.

The Community Reinvestment Act, a piece of legislation heavily backed by Democrats, permitted community organizers (like ACORN) to pressure banks to make more mortgage dollars available to folks that didn’t have the assets or credit to otherwise qualify for a home loan. The Community Reinvestment Act permits the FDIC and other banking regulators to punish banks who don’t lend money to low-income and minorities. For example, community organizers who didn’t like the level at which a bank was providing loans, or didn’t like the bank’s response to political demands, could block mergers and acquisitions that would help the bank’s assets grow. Subprime mortgages are the result; money lent to people who do not have the credit, assets, income, or down payment to qualify for a normal mortgage. Of course, banks got on the bandwagon and found that subprime mortgages were a money-maker, as long as the real estate market was hot. After all, if the borrower couldn’t pay on the mortgage, the home could be sold and the mortgage money recouped. But when the market slowed, the bubble burst and banks were left holding lots of bad paper.

Added to the problem created by the Community Reinvestment Act and the explosion of subprime mortgages, there was a political component involved in creating the credit-friendly environment that contributed to the current financial mess. Politics created Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. Politics allowed them to dominate the mortgage market. Politics allowed these two entities to shift the risk of subprime mortgages to the US taxpayer. In 2005, Democrats opposed, on a party-line vote, a bill to more strictly regulate Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to prevent their more questionable loans to “underserved” populations (a code-term for low-income or no-asset borrowers). It’s interesting to note that the two mortgage corporations were managed by Democrat power-brokers, like Jamie Gorelick who made multi-millions of dollars when she left for bigger and better things; like advising Senator Obama.

Now, on principle I don’t like big government or over-regulation. There are things that government does well, like protect us from threats, but government shouldn’t be in the business of running businesses. Although I don’t like government intrusion into the free market, some oversight may be necessary. It’s interesting that Senator McCain saw a potential problem as early as 2006. He said, “If Congress does not act, American taxpayers will continue to be exposed to the enormous risk that Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac pose to the housing market, the overall financial system and the economy as a whole.” Investment is risk. Businesses that invest do so by taking calculated risks. The key to government oversight is identifying just how much regulation is necessary to permit investment, and risk-taking, without either over-regulating and stifling business or under-regulating and permitting the possibility of financial collapse. Like everything else in life, balance is essential here.

So where does that leave the proposed bail-out plan? Good question. I’m concerned over the “need for speed.” Why do we need to move so fact that the details of the plan are not readily transparent to anyone without a Ph.D. in economics? Why are we putting Billions of dollars in the hands of one man and telling him to “fix it.” Why do we need to accede to the Democrat’s demands that we include a plan to permit judges to restructure individual mortgages for bankrupt homeowners, or worse subsidize them with taxpayer money? Why do we need to add other “toxic assets” to the plan, like bad credit card debt? I say we should slow down a bit, analyze the problem, and fix it; not put a band-aid on it and hope it will heal.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Hometown Heroes

CNN has a great story today about a real hometown hero, Walt Peters. Mr Peters is a Vietnam veteran who has met most, if not all, of the flights carrying Soldiers going into and out of Hunter Air Field. He estimates that he's met over 20,000 Soldiers either leaving for their deployment or returning from a tour. Mr Peters, and the volunteers he trains and oversees, are there to shake the Soldiers' hands, give them an American Flag, and an say encouraging word. It's Mr Peters' type of quiet support that means the most to these young men and women. They can instinctively understand that Mr Peters knows what they're feeling. And he does. He's been there. The standard mantra these days is "we support the troops." Well, it's folks like Mr Peters and his volunteers, or those of you who adopt a Soldier or a unit, or those of you who just send a random care package, who really do support the troops. Don't forget them. Don't forget that they go where they're ordered, and do what they must, to support you, our way of life, and our Nation. Thank you, Mr Peters!

Friday, September 19, 2008

Imagine

"Imagine playing a central role in the biggest national defense disaster in 50 years. Imagine playing a central role in one of the biggest economic disasters in your country's history. Imagine doing both as an un-elected official. Imagine getting filthy rich in the process, and even being allowed to sit self-righteously on a commission appointed to get to the bottom of the first disaster, which of course did not get to the bottom of that disasters or anything else for that matter.

Imagine ending, ruining or at least causing significant quality deterioration in the lives of millions of people, most of whom will never know your name. Imagine counting your millions of dollars while people who tired to stop you from causing all this mayhem were getting blamed for most of the ills you actually contributed to."


C. Edmund Wright authors a piece at American Thinker asking us to let our imagination run . . . but he also identifies the one person who doesn't have to imagine; primarily because she is the one person who has done all these things. This person is Jamie Gorlick. She was a Clinton appointee who, as Deputy Attorney General in 1999, built the "dreaded" wall of separation between intelligence agencies and law enforcement agencies that prevented our investigators from talking to each other before September 11th. There were a number of other problems with intelligence gathering (particularly the lack of capable human intelligence gathering and the over reliance on technical means of gaining intelligence); but when the intelligence folks had one piece of the puzzle and couldn't talk to the law enforcement folks, who had the other piece, the puzzle never came into focus. And that was a major contributing factor to the success of the September 11th hijackers. I know personally from working cyberlaw intelligence and law enforcement issues for the Air Force before (and after) September 11th, that this "wall" was a major stumbling block to ensuring smooth policies, plans, and procedures.

You'd think that would be enough . . . but not for Ms Gorlick. Mr. Wright recounts how Ms Gorlick was Vice Chairman of Fannie Mae from 1997 to 2003, even though she didn't have a bit of real estate or finance experience. During her tenure, she helped create the mess that resulted in the Federal takeover of the mortgage institution, including at engaging in improper accounting practices that covered up $9 Billion in unrecorded losses. Of course, Ms Gorlick still took numerous bonuses; making millions in the process.

Now she's one of Senator Obama's advisers. Just another example of his lack of judgment in selecting people to work for, and with, him. But then, like Senator Obama, Ms Gorlick is a graduate of Harvard Law School and a well-connected liberal. Like Mr. Wright says, she keeps "getting appointed to positions above her experience level where she could flex her liberal muscles, add a resume item, and move upward." Apparently, she's now grabbed ahold of Senator Obama's coat tails and is ready to keep moving. If Senator Obama wins the presidency and appoints Ms Gorlick to another government position, I wonder what else her toxic touch will negatively impact. That's one picture I'm not sure I want to imagine.

What Would It Prove?

“I am ready for a debate with the U.S. presidential candidates over global issues in the presence of the media at the U.N. Headquarters.” -- President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

So FoxNews and the AFP report that Iran’s President wants to debate either Senator Obama and Senator McCain, or both, while he’s in New York visiting the U.N.? But only if the debate takes place in the presence of the media. Right . . . I wonder if either candidate would seriously consider taking him up on his offer. What would it prove? That President Ahmadinejad is more-than-slightly off kilter? We all know that. That President Ahmadinejad likes to use the media to advance his unrealistic world-view? We all know that. That President Ahmadinejad, and the regime he represents, is a threat to world peace. Again, we all know that. So what would it prove? Nothing.

I don’t think Senator McCain would consider giving this guy more status than he deserves by engaging in a debate in front of the U.N. and the media. He’s too smart and too savvy. On the other hand, Senator Obama has, in the past, said that he’d negotiate with leaders of Iran and Syria if he’s elected. Maybe he’d consider a debate instead of a negotiation. After all, Senator Obama has called for tougher U.N. sanctions on Iran, saying that sanctions need to have some teeth; and President Ahmadinejad has more or less said “bring it on.” According to President Ahmadinejad, “Those who want to impose sanctions are demonstrating their helplessness.” He’s basically challenged the U.N. and other countries to impose sanctions for defying the U.N.’s call to halt uranium enrichment and for stalling the U.N.’s investigation into Iran’s nuclear program. He said “Let them impose sanctions against us . . . The more they impose sanctions, the more we thank God.” So, it appears there’s a definite point of conflict between Senator Obama’s call for tougher sanctions and President Ahmadinejad’s challenge to set the sanctions. Perhaps that could be an interesting topic for a debate . . . or negotiation. If, of course, anyone wanted to listen to hot air being dispelled by two blowhards who are better at talking than thinking.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Obama's Tax Plan

I've been thinking about writing a post about the perils of Senator Obama's tax plans and policies. But this guy does it so well, that I think I'll just "steal" this video from Grim's Hall....

Great News!

Many of you have read Lt (now Cpt) G’s blog Kaboom, before it was ordered removed from the internet. Lt G chronicled the deployment of his infantry unit, which he named The Gravediggers for operational security reasons. He also invented clever pseudonyms for his troops, for the same reason. Since his blog was shut down, his fiancĂ©e, City Girl, has been periodically updating those of us who feel like we know the Gravediggers. (You can find the blog on the “Of Counsel” list on this blog.) One of Cpt G’s troops, Pvt Hotwheels, was seriously injured in a fire-accident earlier this summer. Like many readers, I’ve been following his progress over the internet. His mother posts updates on his recovery on CaringBridge. Readers can check the journal posts and leave encouraging messages, if they choose. It’s a great way to use the ‘net! Anyway, it appears Pvt Hotwheels’ condition continues to improve. His mother credits faith in the Lord, as well as the thoughts and prayers of so many, in helping her son survive and start to thrive. According to the latest posts, which you can check out yourself, Pvt Hotwheels has been able to stand alone and even walk a few steps; despite serious injuries to his legs and feet. Great news! I’m certain that the excellent medical care he’s received, coupled with the love and faith of his family (oh yeah, and all those prayers) will have him recovering quickly!

Saturday, September 13, 2008

What? Media Agenda? No? Really?

I will probably get really sick of the Presidential election before it’s finally over. Well, maybe. For some reason being able to rant about it on this blog has helped me stay interested. But I will tell you that like many others, I’m already heartily sick of the perfidy of the media. I’ve not trusted the media for some time, that lack of trust was why I started reading blogs in the first place. I wanted to know what was really happening in the war zone, so I looked for information from people who were really there. I know that a lot of blogs are just like mine, and reflect their writer’s opinions; not first-person facts. But we all know that. The problem with the established media is that they pass off their opinions as fact (or allow their opinion to skew their objectivity) without the intellectual honesty to disclose their agenda or biases.

Case in point. Governor Palin gave her first major media interview since being nominated as the Republican Vice Presidential candidate to ABC News and Charles Gibson. When the interview was aired, ABC had edited the tape so as to totally misrepresent something Governor Palin said; in such a way that it looked like Governor Palin believed the war in Iraq was “a task that is from God.” The full text of the interview, which is posted on the internet, shows that Mr. Gibson asked Governor Palin about something she’d said in an earlier speech, and Governor Palin objected to the quote, saying it was mischaracterized. As detailed in a FoxNews article, here’s that portion of the interview:

Gibson: “You said recently in your old church, ‘Our national leaders are sending U.S. soldiers on a task that is from God.’ Are we fighting a Holy War?”
Palin: “You know, I don’t know if that was my exact quote.”


(This objection to her quote was edited from the televised version of the interview, but is found in the transcript.)

Gibson: “It’s exact words”

But Gibson’s quote did not accurately relate what Governor Palin had really said. Her exact quote in the speech at her old church was:

“Pray for our military men and women who are striving to do what is right. Also for this country, that our leaders, our national leaders are sending them out on a task that is from God. That’s what we have to make sure that we’re praying for, that there is a plan and that that plan is God’s plan.”

ABC edited the quote so that the televised interview contained only part of the quote, but not the entire quote or the context in which it was made.

Of course the McCain/Palin campaign immediately protested ABC New’s mischaracterization. According to the campaign,

“Governor Palin’s full statement was VERY different” from the way Gibson characterized it,”

“Gibson cut the quote — where she was clearly asking for the church TO PRAY THAT IT IS a task from God, not asserting that it is a task from God.

“Palin’s statement is an incredibly humble statement, a statement that this campaign stands by 100 percent, and a sentiment that any religious American will share,”


Nevertheless, ABC News continues to assert their agenda. On Friday, they promoted the interview by posting a promo on Yahoo! News that contained a picture of Governor Palin next to the words, “Iraq war a ‘holy war?’” The promo clearly implied that Governor Palin thinks so. When in reality it was Mr. Gibson’s question, mischaracterizing a previous quote and something Governor Palin objected to, that was the only part of the interview that called the Iraq War a holy war.

Using creative editing and taking snippets of quotes out of context is not a new tactic for pressing opinions and agendas. It just seems more insidious than the overt attacks that we saw earlier this month, like the attacks on Governor Palin’s family and the questions about her ability to hold national office while having a family. They are also more subtle than the outright lies and photo shopped pictures that have abounded since her nomination. Those types of “National Inquirer” tactics are easily discounted and easily refuted. It’s when the agenda is advanced under the guise of fact that things get dangerous.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

September 11th


Where were you? Do you remember how you felt the first time you saw the images from New York or Washington? Did you cry, or want to help, or get angry, or all three? Did you feel horror at the tragedy, pride in the first responders, and sorrow for those lost? Did you stick to the TV or radio to keep abreast of the current information? Did you fly the flag and get tears in your eyes when you heard the Star Spangled Banner? On that day, were you united with all other Americans, particularly those in New York and Washington, in resolving to never let it happen again? When, and why, did we lose that resolve?

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Is it Getting Colder in Here?

Leon Aron, the director of Russian studies and a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, in an editorial published in the Wall Street Journal, asks. . .what is Russia’s next target? His question is very similar to the question I asked a couple of weeks ago, “Is it getting cold in here?” According to Mr. Aron, the evidence supports the belief that Russia’s invasion and occupation of Georgia is “the onset of a distinct, and profoundly disturbing, national security and foreign policy agenda” with new priorities, “the most compelling” of which is the “recovery of the assets lost in the Soviet Union’s collapse in 1991.” Profoundly disturbing is right. It seems I’m not alone in wondering if a new Cold War is beginning.

If Russia’s new national security and foreign policy agenda includes the goal of reconstituting the old Soviet Union by absorbing (again) the break-away republics, how are they doing it? Mr. Aron thinks that they do it “[b]y dominating the domestic politics and, more importantly, economic- and foreign-policy orientation, of the former Soviet republics.” In Mr. Aron’s opinion, Russia has the attitude that

“Anything considered antithetical to Russia's interests, as interpreted by the current Kremlin leadership, must be discarded -- be it democratization, oil and gas exports that bypass Russia, and, especially, the membership in the Western organizations such as the European Union and NATO. And if, in the process, Russia must sacrifice most or even all of the fruits of the post-Soviet rapprochement with the West -- including membership in the G-8, entry to the World Trade Organization or ties to the EU -- so be it.

Russia's "targets of opportunity" include simmering border disputes (and virtually all Russia's borders with newly independent states could be disputed, since they are but the very badly demarcated internal borders of the Soviet Union), and the presence of the ethnic Russian or Russian-speaking minorities in neighboring countries.”


So with Georgia still occupied and Russia recognizing the two Georgian provinces, Abkhazia and South Ossetia, as independent, what is the next target in the Russian sights? According to Mr. Aron, it’s the Ukraine. They’re pro-democracy and pro-Western. They want to join NATO (although we should wonder why when NATO has been totally ineffectual lately). And nearly 1 in 5 Ukrainian citizens are ethnically Russian. Additionally, as Mr. Aron says, “the Russian political barometer seems to augur storms ahead.”

For example, “Mr. Putin has made his contempt for Ukrainian sovereignty clear, most notably at the NATO summit in Bucharest last April when, according to numerous reports in the Russian and Ukrainian press, he told President Bush that the Ukraine is "not even a real state," that much of its territory was "given away" by Russia, and that it would "cease to exist as a state" if it dared join NATO.” Then there’s the dispute over the Crimea. “A solid majority of the Russian parliament” does not want Ukraine to recognize the Crimea as a part of Ukraine. Russians, many of them retired Russian Navy, are vehemently against Ukraine absorbing the city of Sevastopol, which was the base for Russian’s Black Sea fleet and important to Russian Naval history and lore. As recently as September 5th, the Ukraine Foreign Minister accused the Russian consulate in Crimea of distributing Russian passports for those living on the Crimean peninsula. Sound familiar?

I don’t want to be a harbinger of gloom and doom, but I continue to wonder, “Is it getting cold in here?

I'm Holding out for Steak!

No way am I giving up my steak! As if driving less, inflating our tires, changing our light bulbs, and wearing sweaters wasn't enough, according to an article published in Time now the global-warming nuts want us to stop eating meat. Apparently, the cows, pigs and chickens we raise in order to enjoy that steak, bacon, or chicken breast aren't eco-friendly. It's awful! People cut down the forest in order to create pasture land for the naughty beasts. Everyone knows if the forest goes, there is no way to absorb the CO2 and other greenhouse gasses people (the other parasites on this planet) produce. To top it off, all those nasty beasts (the cows, pigs, and chickens. . .not the people) produce manure and release other body gasses (those flatulent animals release about 200 L of methane gas a day!). Not only is there all that methane, but all that manure generates nitrous oxide, another greenhouse gas that has about 296 times more warming effect than CO2! Horrors! The planet will soon be a global swamp as temperatures rise and the ice sheet melts. . .oh wait, maybe that's a good thing; at least the Everglades will be revitalized. . .but I digress. Not only does the production of all that meat harm the planet; but the feedlots introduce antibiotics, steroids, and other bad stuff into the human who eats the meat from animals fattened at the feedlots, resulting in overweight people prone to heart attacks. Terrible!

So as good stewards of the environment, what are we supposed to do? Apparently, we're supposed to stop eating meat. According to the Time article, couple of geophysicists "have estimated that if every American reduced meat consumption by just 20%, the greenhouse gas savings would be the same as if we all switched from a normal sedan to a hybrid Prius." Does this mean if I give up my steak that I don't have to give up driving my pick up truck?

UPDATE It looks like I can keep driving my truck for a while. . .good thing it's 4-Wheel Drive! Apparently the Old Farmer's Almanac has predicted cooler temperatures for this winter and possibly for the next 50 years. Global cooling, oh great! Where's my sweaters and snow pants?

Lt Nixon's Rants on Political Platforms

I'm an advocate for educated voters. I believe people ought to take the time to educate themselves on the policies the respective candidates support, as well as the candidate's character and judgment. With that in mind, I'd like to refer you to two blog posts written by Lt Nixon over at Lt Nixon Rants. With his tongue firmly in his cheek, Lt Nixon does a great job at summarizing the two major party platforms. He also has a link to the .PDF copies of each platform, for those who want to read it for themselves. Good stuff...head on over and see what I mean. Here are the posts:

A Journey to the Heart of Darkness: The GOP Platform

A Journey into the Heart of Darkness: The Dem Platform

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Feminism is Dead . . . Long Live Feminism

There’s an article posted on American Thinker today titled, “Sarah Palin is Sounding the Death Knell to ‘Feminism’ As We Know It.” I sure hope so!

Don’t get me wrong. I’m grateful for the suffragettes who advocated for the right of women to vote. I’m grateful for those women who led the way in the workplace and expanded my ability to choose to work outside the home. I’m certainly grateful for those women, like the women pilots of WWII, who paved the way for me to serve my country. But I want no part of “institutionalized feminism” and I never have. In my opinion, these women have harmed the cause of true equality for women rather than advanced it. As Pamela Meister put it in her article,

“Feminists don’t believe in allowing women to choose what’s right for them. Women need to walk in lockstep, bent achieving not even equality but domination of men. In their eyes, women were horribly oppressed by bearing children and raising families and now they need to get their own back. It’s not about a real, working partnership with men; it’s about domination of men.”

When I joined the military, over 20 years ago, I entered an organization where women attorneys were given the same responsibilities and, of course, the same pay as men. I know that some military jobs were not open to women at the time, and I understand that some military jobs are still closed. But, as a judge advocate, for most of my career I was treated the same, and had the same opportunities, as male attorneys. Having said that, I admit to being concerned when the military judge began a critique after I prosecuted my first court-martial by saying, “I was vehemently against the idea of letting women into the JAG. . .” But then he went onto say that he’d changed his mind, after observing that women understood the law just as well, and worked harder than men. I recognize that, like any large organization, there are some people who did not reach the same conclusion as that crusty old military judge; and remained convinced that all women JAGs should be assigned only contracts or claims, would never make a good trial counsel (prosecutor), or really understand the operational realities of war so necessary to providing good advice to commanders in the field. In my experience, though, most of those fossils were gone and women were given responsibilities, promotions, and assignments based on their merit. (Just look at the number of women currently serving as Staff Judge Advocates to Air Force Major Commands or Numbered Air Forces.)

In my opinion, if anything hurt the “cause” of women; it was women themselves, particularly those who believed themselves “feminists.” These women seem to have the attitude that they should be able to succeed only because they’re women, and because they have been historically oppressed by being regulated to raising children and making dinner for the emotionally-crippled family breadwinner. They didn’t want to succeed through hard work and competence. They wanted success given to them. I know I’m generalizing, but I tended to categorize these “institutional feminist” women into one of three types.

There’s the “ultra-feminist” woman, who would run to the equal opportunity office with any perceived slight, no matter how trivial, tended to leave male co-workers and commanders (and some other women as well) believing that most women were whiners and complainers, way too over-sensitive to ever be “one of the guys.” Their brand of victimization harmed unit cohesion, could undercut discipline and leadership, and made it very difficult for other women to break through the walls their “gun-shy” co-workers erected to protect themselves.

Then there is the “me” woman. The one who wants to be the center of attention; and she’ll do whatever she needs to do in order to get there. She’s ruthless. She’ll stab anyone in the back, as long as it makes her look good. She’ll take credit for other’s work. She’ll work hard, but only as long as she’s getting something out of it. This type of woman also hurts unit morale. There’s nothing that will fracture a work-place like someone who is out for themselves, and only themselves. Amarosa from “Apprentice” comes to mind. Don’t get me wrong, this is not a solely female trait. There are some “me” men, too. But, unfortunately, we seem to be teaching girls and women that they have to act this way to succeed. The “me” people tend to negatively shape other’s perceptions, and when it’s a woman who acts this way, it shapes other’s perceptions about women in general. Unfair? Sure it is; but true.

Finally, there’s the “vamp.” She’s the woman who uses her femininity in a negative way. She’ll be more likely to use sex to advance herself. Now, I don’t mean that she’ll “sleep her way to the top.” I mean she’ll use sex to seduce or promise, often without “paying up.” She’s the woman that scares men and a number of other women as well. Rightly so; because this woman is toxic. She can turn an organization on its head quicker than . . . well just about anything you can think of. Particularly if she sets her sights on command; and she will. She sees getting one over on everyone else as just another challenge. After dealing with one of these types of women, her co-workers are rightfully tentative in dealing with a new woman in the organization. They have to learn the concept of trust, all over again.

So, I applaud the death of feminism as we know it. We need to replace it with true feminism. The type of feminism that truly supports a woman’s “right to choose." Women should have the right to choose what makes them happy. They should have the right to choose to work outside the home, or not, depending on their own circumstances. They should have the right to be proud of their femininity. They should be able to choose to stand with men, and not stand either behind them or against them. I see Governor Palin as an example of the type of feminist that we need to advance. As Dorinda Bordice in an article posted on National Review Online, put it

“Authentic feminism is the philosophy recognizing that women (like men) find fulfillment by giving of themselves, as opposed to radical feminism which insists that women can only find fulfillment by asserting themselves . . .”

Governor Palin gives of herself. She is committed to fair treatment in the workplace, inside and outside the government. She is committed to a woman’s right to vote. She’s committed to family, even to the point of deciding to give birth to a special needs child and supporting her pregnant daughter. Believe me; I know from experience that balancing these commitments can only be done by someone who can give of herself. If Governor Palin was running for office while balancing family life in order to assert herself, as would an old-school radical feminist, she wouldn’t be able to achieve the balance necessary to succeed.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Who is YOUR candidate?

ABC News has a catchy little gizmo called the "Match-o-matic II." If you chose to play, the gizmo asks you to pick one of two statements with which you most agree; without identifying which candidate made the statement. The statements cover tax policy, the war in Iraq, health care, and immigration. Depending on whether you agree most with Senator Obama or Senator McCain, you've matched yourself with your candidate. Interesting! And most importantly, thought provoking! Check it out.

The Milbloggies are Here!

Nominate your favorite military blog for the Milbloggies Awards! These awards, sponsored by USAA, recognize military bloggers for their contribution to blogging, news and information, and to the military over the past year.

Here are the Rules and Instructions:

Nomination and Voting Overview

1. A military blog can be nominated ONLY once by the same registered user. However, a user can nominate as many military blogs as they wish. All nominations must be submitted online through Milblogging.com by 11:59 pm EST on Wednesday, September 10th, 2008.

2. The top five nominees in each branch category will be announced on Thursday, September 11th, 2008 and those nominees will move into the Voting Phase beginning September 11th, 2008.

3. Nominees may be military blogs that belong to the following branch categories in the Milblogging.com database:

U.S. Air Force
U.S. Army
U.S. Marine Corps
U.S. Military (Parent)
U.S. Military (Spouse)
U.S. Military (Veteran)
U.S. Military (Supporter)
U.S. Navy

4. To nominate and/or vote for a military blog, you must be signed in to the website. Registration is quick and free and you will not receive any SPAM. This helps maintain the integrity of voting by reducing possible click fraud. To place your nomination, simply click on the listing in the Milblogging.com database, and click the Nominate button that appears at the top of the military blog profile.

5. To vote for a military blog (once the nomination phase is over), a chart will be published that includes the top nominees in each category, along with the ability to vote. Voting will close on Sunday, September 14th at 11:59 PM EST.

6. Winners will be presented awards at the 2008 Milblog Conference in Las Vegas on September 20th at the Blog World Expo. Winners are not required to attend the conference in order to receive their awards.

Click here to view the current branch nomination standings

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Actions v. Words


There are certain truisms that may be overused, but despite the overuse still have meaning. “Actions speak louder than words” is one of them. “Don’t talk the talk if you can’t walk the walk” is another. For some reason, both of these truisms came to mind when I heard about the 12,000 United States flags the Democrats tossed in black garbage bags after the convention delegates went home. Fortunately, a stadium worker in Denver saved these proud symbols of our great Nation from an ignominious disposal at a Denver landfill. Democrats waved these flags proudly before the national press during the convention, to show just how patriotic they really are. But once the TV cameras left, the Democrats treated these flags as just so much waste. Real patriots, not TV patriots, would have known that there are proper ways to dispose of a flag. The Veterans of Foreign Wars and the American Legion are always willing to take old and damaged flags for disposal. The Democrats’ act of treating our proud flag as garbage speaks louder than their pseudo-patriotic words spoken for the national press. Sad, isn’t it.

Friday, September 5, 2008

My Magnificient Seven

WOW! Ky Woman, who blogs at Little Drops . . . Into the Pool of Life has given me a blogger award. She's listed this blog as one of seven she admires . . . boy does that make me feel humble; particularly when you look at the other six blogs! I'm thankful that anyone would include me in their company. So many thanks to Ky Woman, and please go check out her blog . . . it's awesome!

Now like many awards, this one has rules. They are: 1) you have to link to the person who gave you the award; 2) you pass on the award to at least 7 people; 3) then you let them know that you awarded them this "I Love Your Blog" award.

So . . . here are my "Magnificent Seven:"

1. A Soldier's Perspective
2. The War on Big Tobacco
3. Villainous Company
4. Grim's Hall
5. Jarhead Online
6. Lt Nixon Rants
7. In From the Cold

Folks, this is for you



There are many more I could mention, and I link to some of them on my "Of Counsel" blogroll...for example, some of my relatives have fantastic "mommy blogs," and I'd love to give them one of these awards, publicly. But since I blog under a pseudonym, for lots of reasons, I probably shouldn't "blow my cover." Anyway, check out these "Magnificent Seven." You won't be disappointed!

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Abdicating Gatekeepers

Cassandra, who blogs at Villainous Company, has a post titled Palin v. The Gatekeepers that discusses how the mainstream media have completely abdicated their self-identified role as "gate-keepers" and taken up advocacy journalism; particularly in the way they've responded to Governor Palin's nomination. Her analysis is thoughtful, well-documented, and (IMO) right-on-the-mark! I'd recommend a jump over to her blog and read the whole post, but her conclusion is wonderful:

There is no "war on the press". For years now, the press has had a running war on their political opponents. The unpalatable truth here is that more than half of the American public now believe you are out to get Sarah Palin.

This should give the media pause because you own the megaphone.

If you are honest, if you really care about covering the news (as opposed to waging ideological war on your opponents), perhaps you need to steel yourselves to take a long, hard look at the way you are doing your jobs. You have lost the confidence of the public you serve. That is no accident.

Accountability is not just for those you claim to watch. Those who claim the right to be above the law had better be able to demonstrate some ability to police themselves.

In a system where everyone else must submit to checks and balances, who provides the check over your power to ruin lives and reputations, if the media are above the law? You'd better come up with a good answer.


AMEN, Cassandra, AMEN!

BTW, in this post Cassandra discusses bloggers and their contribution to the "infosphere." She elegantly explains why she started blogging. When I read this paragraph, I thought she could read my mind. People blog for different reasons, but Cassandra captured what I've been trying to tell people about my motivations for starting this blog:

Blogging is, as I wrote many years ago, a vigorous conversation over the backyard fences of America and it has renewed and revitalized our interest and participation in civic life in a way that is particularly heartening in this era of political apathy and cynicism. It took a former housewife and mother with no interest in politics and turned her into an avid follower of current events, conversant with both foreign policy and economic trends. It got me engaged.

Like Cassandra, writing these posts has taken me out of my "comfort zone" and allowed me to enter the "great conversation" in the blog-o-spnere. I've become interested and engaged. Is that a good thing?

What Country Are You?

According to this "blogthing" I identify with the USA. Cool! Click on the link to find out what country you are.....




You're the USA



You think you're the best around, and you love being admired.

You have many facets to your personality. No one can pigeonhole you.



You speak your mind freely about any and all topics. You value honesty and bluntness.

You are confident and direct. You never apologize for who you are.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Governor Palin

Kat, at Castle Argghhh, has posted a great discussion of Governor Palin's executive experience when compared to Senator Obama's accomplishments. It's a good read, and I suggest you hop over there and read the entire post. Like Kat, I find it interesting that Senator Obama's campaign persists in identifying Governor Palin as the mayor of a small town, entirely ignoring the 20+ months she's served as Alaska's Governor. I tend to agree that it's a small-time, sneaky, and somewhat dishonest method of minimizing her experience. What I find amazing is the collusion of the mainstream press in doing so. (Although I don't know why that should amaze me; it's par for the course when it comes to anything Republican.) It would be obvious to anyone who compared Governor Palin's executive experiences to Senator Obama's senatorial experiences that Governor Palin is better able to run this Nation than he is; and she's only running for Vice President. Senator Obama just isn't ready to be the Commander-in-Chief or in anyway lead this Country for the next four years.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Double Standard

Double Standard? You bet! I’ve been watching the media frenzy of manufactured news in response to Senator McCain’s selection of Alaskan Governor Sarah Palin to be his running mate. Crazy! First there was the “she’s an unknown” reporting, followed by the “is she really qualified” stories. Then there was the totally irresponsible, far-left blog speculation that Governor Palin’s youngest son was really her grandson and that Governor Palin had “faked” a pregnancy to cover for her 17-year-old daughter. Amazing! Particularly when the speculation had absolutely no basis in fact! But what really blows me away is the media-manufactured debate over whether Governor Palin is a good mother for exposing her children to the sensationalism and scrutiny that is par-for-the-course in today’s politics; or whether she could possibly balance the demands of motherhood with the demands of the Vice Presidency (or even God-forbid, the Presidency).

Why the debate over her choice to enter politics and still have a family? That’s her choice, based on her circumstances. It may not be the best decision for other women, in different circumstances; but it is her decision. So why isn’t it respected? Was there any debate over Senator Obama’s decision to enter the Presidential race when he has two small children and his wife has a career? No! Was Senator Pelosi’s motherhood questioned when she decided to seek and accept the position of Speaker of the House? No! So why the manufactured debate over Governor Palin’s ability to mother her children? Is it because she’s only the second woman to appear on a ticket for a national political office? Or is it because she appears on the Republican ticket. In my opinion, there is a double standard in how Senator Palin’s being treated and it shows just how far we still have to go to achieve gender equality, and the media is making it worse with their manufactured news and debates.

UPDATE The Editors of the National Review Online have written a great article that makes my point better than I ever could! In it they talk about the mainstream media's feeding frenzy to end Governor Palin's candidacy. They describe how

The New York Time's webpate on Tuesday led with no fewer than three stories about Bristol Palin's pregnancy. CNN has tried to exploit Miss Palin as a laboratory specimen for a high-profile examination of sex-education. MSNBC and the Huffington Post are titillating viewers with exposes on Miss Palin's boyfriend. Slate, owned by the Washington Post, is running a "Name Bristol Palin's Baby" contest. US Weekly has "Babies, Lies, and Scandal" on its cover.

Crazy, isn't it? And chock full of double standards. As the National Review Online article notes

This shameful but predictable media performance stands in marked contrast to the rigorous "hands-off" privacy policy dutifully honored by the press throughout the Clinton years for the then-teenage daughter, Chelsea. Indeed earlier this year, though Miss Clinton was now well into her twenties and an impressively poised surrogate for her mother's campaign, NBC News suspended reporter David Shuster for asserting that Sen. Clinton's campaign was "pimping" her daughter -- a classless formulation, to be sure. But where's the hyper-sensitivity about a candidate's child now?

When Al Gore's son was arrested on narcotics and speeding charges in 2007, moreover, the national press was a model of sympathetic restraint. The muted coverage was devoid of calls for a national "teaching moment" on drug abuse or responsible driving. The message was plain and correct: No news here, move along.


Amazing, isn't it? This level of double standard should be readily apparent to everyone.

Monday, September 1, 2008

Gratitude

Labor Day. The end of summer. Back to school. Picnics, pool, playtime. Reunions. Sleep. Holidays are wonderful, aren’t they? But I do have to say that Labor Day seemed to come quickly this year. It seems like Memorial Day, when my son came home from Iraq, was just yesterday. It’s been a busy and eventful summer, and I guess that’s what made the days go by so quickly.

Labor Day is one of those days when it’s good to pause and think about things; in those blank spaces between family fun and extra sleep. This Labor Day, I’ve been thinking about gratitude. Several months ago, I was asked to speak in Church about gratitude. In getting ready for that talk, I came to the conclusion that gratitude is different from just being thankful for something. To me it’s like thankfulness on steroids. If you’re truly grateful for something, you’re thankful for it, but you’re also humble about receiving it; because that something is so special and important that it’s a gift you can never repay. The only way you can acknowledge your gratitude is to accept the gift and try to give something back.

So what am I grateful for? I’m grateful for the Gospel. I’m grateful for friends and family. I’m grateful for children who think for themselves, and in whom any mother can be proud. I’m grateful for beautiful, healthy grandchildren who are the promise of the future. I’m grateful for an understanding husband, who has challenged me to become who I am. I’m grateful for special friends I’ve made over the years, who will always be a part of my life. I’m grateful for my parents; my mom who taught me to how to love and my dad who taught me how to serve. I’m grateful for the example of my grandmother, who taught me that women can be strong, and for the example of my grandfather, who taught me the value of hard work and the joy of play. I’m grateful for those I love and for those who love me. I’m grateful for my sisters, who are always there when I need them. I’m grateful that I’ve had the opportunity to serve my country. I’m grateful that the Lord gave me intelligence and talents, and the chance to live in a country where I can use those skills to the best of my ability.

The list of those things that I’m grateful for is long, this is only a partial list. I’ve been blessed. Sometimes, when life gets busy and difficult, it’s good to stop and remember just what you’re grateful for. It puts things in perspective. So, as this Labor Day progresses into a busy September and Fall, let me ask: what are you grateful for?