Last night my grandkids dressed up in their Halloween costumes and participated in our Church's "Trunk-or-Treat" program. It was such fun! Both parents and kids dressed up in great costumes. (My absolute favorite was the couple wearing just a t-shirt and jeans, with pennies, nickles, dimes and quarters taped to the t-shirt along with a sign that read "Real Change You Can Believe In.") Anyway, the parents (and a grandparent or two) decorated the trunks of cars or the beds of trucks and passed out Halloween candy to a wide variety of goblins, mermaids, princesses, flamenco dancers, pink rabbits, and superheroes. Tonight, we'll repeat the costuming of kids and they'll "hit" the neighborhood to ring doorbells and ask for more candy, while someone stays home to protect our house from "tricks" by giving "treats."
As you might expect, this two-night candy extravaganza caused my daughters quite a bit of concern over the dietary habits of their children, all of whom have a sweet tooth (or two). So one of my daughters decided to emulate a friend of hers who has "invented" the "Halloween Fairy." You see, good kids who want to help the Halloween Fairy split their candy-take from trick-or-treating in half. After the candy is split, the Halloween Fairy comes to their homes, takes half of the candy and gives it to other children who weren't able to trick-or-treat. There you go . . . 50% less potential for sugar overload.
I thought it was a great idea, at first. But when I told someone at work about it, I realized that the "Halloween Fairy" was just another an example of socialist redistribution of wealth, or the Obama Tax Plan, whichever you prefer. Just like Senator Obama would tax those who earn more and pay taxes, in order to give to those who earn less and don't pay taxes, the Halloween Fairy would take candy from kids who dressed up and went trick-or-treating to kids who didn't. Voila, wealth redistribution on a child's level. Now I know that my daughters, both of whom are fairly conservative, would not necessarily want to teach socialist principles on wealth distribution to their children. They just don't want their kids to have an excess of candy. But it's interesting how such a little thing can be an example of such a big thing. I'm certain my daughters will teach their children good citizenship and strong American values, so I'm not necessarily concerned about the Halloween Fairy's appearance in their homes. But I do have another burning question: does this mean that Senator Obama is really the Halloween Fairy?
"Good heavens, something's wriggling out of the shadow like a gray snake," he said, in an appropriately dramatic tone of voice. "Now it's another one, and another. They look like tentacles to me. There, I can see the thing's body. It's large as a bear and it glistens like wet leather. But that face. It...it's indescribable. I can hardly force myself to keep looking at it. The eyes are black and gleam like a serpent. The mouth is V-shaped with saliva dripping from its rimless lips that seem to quiver and pulsate....The thing is raising up. The crowd falls back. They've seen enough. This is the most extraordinary experience. I can't find words. I'm pulling this microphone with me as I talk. I'll have to stop the description until I've taken a new position. Hold on, will you please, I'll be back in a minute."
It was 70 years ago today that Martians invaded Grover's Mill, New Jersey. News of the invasion was broadcast on CBS radio's program Mercury Theater On the Air. This War of the Worlds broadcast has become a legend for the panic it produced and the conspiracy theories it generated. While the program was a fictional play based on a popular science fiction novel, the newscast format of the program, dance music interrupted by simulated "live" news reports from reporters on the scene led listeners to believe the reports were true. As could be expected, the program, which was broadcast nationally, started rumors and caused some folks throughout the US to panic; particularly in New York and New Jersey. Citizens in one town, Concrete, Washington, panicked as a result of a pure coincidence. At the point in the broadcast where the Martians are invading small towns and killing people with poison gas, a power failure at a Portland Cement plant caused the electricity to go out all over the town of Concrete. There were reports of people fainting, people grabbing their families and heading for the hills, and readying their guns to defend their homes. Needless to say, Concrete made the news.
Naturally, conspiracy theories abound. Some, perhaps tongue-in-cheek, say that the program really was an actual broadcasts of a Martian invasion, and it was later called "fictional" to cover up the fact that the aliens had really landed. Others say that the program was an experiment in psychological warfare designed to allow study of mass hysteria. What ever it was; radio drama, reality, or cruel experiment, it has staying power. You can still listen to the show over the internet. Enjoy!
Peter Ferrara, writing on The American Spectator website, has a very interesting look at a possible Obama presidency. His Special Report is titled “The Hugo Chavez Democrats.” I’ll hit the high points, but it’s a good read and I recommend following the link and seeing what Mr. Ferrara has to say.
According to Mr. Ferrara, an Obama presidency would bring the end of prosperity, a decline in our ability to defend the Nation, forced unionism, restraints on free speech, “Brown Shirt” thugs threatening anyone who doesn’t agree with the administration, and a massive swing to radical socialism. Perhaps Mr. Ferrara is a bit of a pessimist, but then again, perhaps he isn’t.
Mr. Ferrara thinks that during an Obama presidency, one supported by a highly-liberal Democrat Congress, there would be a rise in every major Federal tax, which would increase government spending and regulatory costs in order to pay for social programs. Mr. Ferrara points out,
”Obama has the entire country mesmerized by the promise of a measly $500 income tax credit for ’95% of Americans. . . . Yet another government check like that is not going to do anything to change the fundamental incentives, and so will do nothing to advance the economy. Indeed, it will harm the economy as the credit is swiftly phased out at higher income levels, effectively increasing marginal tax rates further by imposing another penalty as income rises.”
Interesting, isn’t it. I know that I’m mostly preaching to the choir, but Senator Obama’s rhetoric about cutting taxes for the average American and making the rich and corporate fat cats pay “their fair share” is really starting to sound like an old, broken record. As he told Joe the Plumber, the real purpose behind his tax and spend policy is to redistribute wealth. I tend to agree with Mr. Ferrara that Senator Obama’s proposed tax cuts are really “tax credits that would send new government checks to those paying little or nothing in federal income taxes” rather than true tax cuts; for anyone.
Mr. Ferrara also questions whether we can “really trust these ultraliberals with our nation’s defenses?” Good question. Liberal Democrat, Congressman Barney Frank, wants to cut national defense spending by 25%, even though Iran is trying to gain nuclear weapons, Russia is threatening its neighbors and trying to reassert itself on the world stage, and China is playing games. How does it make sense to cut defense spending when we have not yet quelled Islamic terrorism or when Iran is trying to build a nuclear capability? Senator Obama has said that he’ll sit down, without preconditions, and talk to Iranian leaders. But Iran has issued its own set of preconditions. They will not talk to us unless we withdraw all our forces from the Middle East (including Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia, and Turkey) and cut our ties with Israel. Remember that Iran is totally committed to the destruction of Israel. Why in the world would anyone think that cutting defense spending and talking to potential enemies would help defend our way of life? Amazing!
Mr. Ferrara also describes how the ultraliberals in an Obama presidency want to eliminate the secret ballot for union elections. The unions, big supporters of the Democrat ticket, think secret ballots are unfair; probably because they lose more elections than they win. A change to federal law would require employers to recognize a union simply when the union presents “union authorization cards” signed by a majority of the company’s employees. If there is no secret ballot, the union will be able to intimidate, threaten, and coerce employees into signing the cards. Anyone who doesn’t want to join the union would still be required to do so; and be forced to pay high union dues and let the union bargain on their behalf. As Mr. Ferrara says, under this scenario “the employer has lost control over his company” the minute union activists show up at their door with cards signed by a bare majority of workers.
Under an Obama presidency, state and local governments would be forced to recognize mandatory unions for public workers, including police and firefighters. Why should we require our “finest” and our “bravest” belong to a union before they can be our first responders. Does that make sense? Wouldn’t it make more sense to have a national right to work law that gives individual employees the right to decide whether, or not, to join a union? Isn’t that what freedom really means; the right to make our own decisions?
Then there’s the question of whether free speech can be fair. According to Mr. Ferrara, an Obama presidency would impose drastic regulation of the “public airwaves” that would require a “mandatory balance between competing viewpoints on public policy issues.” Obviously, this “fairness doctrine” is aimed at conservative talk radio, particularly since network news (now called the mainstream media) is exempt. You see, they are totally objective . . . right, sure they are! Under an Obama presidency, free speech is limited by government bureaucrats who will decide what is “balanced” based on totally subjective standards. What a recipe for abuse of power!
But then the Obama presidency is well primed for abusing power. The Obama campaign has already demonstrated it’s readiness to use legal processes, intimidation, and threats to shut down opposing views. Mr. Ferrara refers to these “minions” as “The Brown Shirts.” Consider this. The Obama campaign has sent letters demanding criminal prosecution of an advocacy organization and its primary donor because they sponsored TV advertisements critical of Senator Obama’s association with homegrown terrorist, Bill Ayers. The campaign has sent letters threatening FCC investigations of their broadcast licenses to TV stations that have run NRA-sponsored ads critical of the Senator’s anti-gun record. They have sent “WARNING letters” to potential GOP donors, threatening investigations into “their business and personal affairs” by the IRS, media, or watch-dog groups. The campaign in Missouri has even organized a “Truth Squad” made up of local prosecutors and law enforcement-types who will target anyone who “lies” about Senator Obama. Take a look at what happened to “Joe the Plumber.” Because he spoke out against Senator Obama, local government officials invaded his privacy; releasing information about his taxes, his support payments, and his driving history. Why? Finally, in Chicago, Senator Obama called for his minions to sabotage a WGN talk radio show because the host invited a writer critical of the Senator to appear on his show. The Senator said the writer did not deserve “time for his divisive, destructive ranting on our public airwaves.” Senator Obama, just who “owns” those public airwaves? I’m really not sure it’s Senator Obama or his minions. Mr. Ferrara warns,
”If this is how Obama and his people are behaving now, what will they be like when they take over the Justice Department, and the FCC, and the entire federal government.?”
Good question. Are you frightened yet? I am. But if you’re not convinced that an Obama presidency would let the “Hugo Chavez Democrats” run wild, Mr. Ferrara ends his Special Report with this:
”I have left out Obama’s support for driver’s licenses and Social Security for illegal aliens, his massive proposed spending increases, including a new global war on poverty financed by U.S. taxpayers, recently totaled in the Wall Street Journal as amounting to $4.3 trillion over 10 years, his proposed government takeover of health care, his specified central economic planning for our energy industry, his support for the most liberal-left Supreme Court appointees in history, modeled after former ACLU General Counsel Ruth Bader Ginsburg, his support for federal legislation to repeal every state restriction on abortion, including parental notification, his ardent support for partial birth abortion, his promise to repeal the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), and his opposition to making English the official language of America (he said Americans need to teach their children Spanish).
Have you ever known someone that thinks they’re indispensible? These are the folks that think they’re the only one who can finish a project the “right” way, or only one who really “understands” the issues, or that their proposed “solution” is the only one that will really work. You see a lot of these folks in leadership positions. They’re generally well-intentioned, highly-motivated, and extremely competent folks. But for some reason, they develop a kind of myopic arrogance that leads them to believe their way is the only way, or their view is the only view. I don’t know if it’s the exercise of authority or power that leads to the growth of this arrogant belief in their own power, or if it is something in the person’s makeup. But, I do know that someone who is a great leader never thinks they’re indispensible. Great leaders are confident in them selves, and may even be a bit arrogant, but they are not arrogant in their power. They listen to other’s ideas and make a decision on the best course of action without believing that they’re always right.
It seems that politicians often develop this arrogance of power. They start out leading others with good, well-intentioned ideas and motives; and end up so confident in their own abilities and point of view that they lose track of what’s really important. They lose track of the idea that a politician is a public servant, and become invested in the idea that the public is there to serve them. They become so arrogant in their power that they will do anything to get elected or re-elected. It’s a great argument for term limits, isn’t it?
Col. Oliver North has an interesting post on FOXNews, titled When Leaders Get Messiah Complexes that touches on the impact of what I call arrogance of power. Col. North agrees with me that leadership matters, and that (unfortunately) many leaders develop this arrogance in their own power. Col. North describes it as a “messiah complex;” that these leaders come to believe they are the only ones who can provide what is necessary at the time it’s needed. Col. North cites several examples of leaders who developed a “messiah complex; including Napoleon (who had himself declared Emperor of France because he thought he was essential to France’s future), Hitler (who claimed he needed to preserve the Aryan race), Idi Amin, Pol Pot, and Kim Jung Il.
According to Col. North, American’s have resisted following leaders who possess this arrogance of power or a type of messianic complex. Most of our leaders have been humble men, like George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, and Harry Truman. For the most part, Americans tend to like limited government and want public servants to be just that; someone who serves the public good.
Col. North, however, witnessed an event that he found disturbing and shook his belief that the American public understands the dangers of believing a leader, particularly a political leader, is somehow a savior. Col. North describes,
”During Wednesday afternoon’s rush hour, I was making my way home on the “Dulles Greenway” when a phalanx of police motorcycles and cruisers stopped all traffic and ordered us to pull or vehicles off the highway onto the shoulders. Over a loudspeaker we were told to stay put until the Obama campaign convoy passed, on the way to a rally in Leesburg, Virginia.
Instantly, hundreds of people were out of their cars. Directly in front of me a group of supporters—evident by their bumper stickers—jumped out with cameras, cell phones and banners. They began chanting: “The Messiah! He’s coming! Obama is coming!” The shouting only intensified as the candidate and his entourage—motorcycles, police cars, black Secret Service Suburbans and busses—roared past us.”
Col. North found the event profoundly upsetting, because he saw so many who apparently believe that Senator Obama, if he is elected the next President, could save us from ourselves. That somehow only Senator Obama has the key to a brilliant future. I agree with Col. North that this almost messianic belief that many of our countrymen (and women) have developed is a recipe for disaster. Senator Obama, and many of his advisors, are sufficiently invested in their beliefs that they’ve developed that arrogance of power, that messianic complex, and believe that their way is the only way. Col. North reminds Senator Obama that “humility is a virtue that has distinguished our greatest leaders.” Personally, I think that reminder has come too late. If you look at Senator Obama’s entire presidential campaign, from his ads, to the Greek-columned acceptance speech, to the attempt to suppress opposite views, to the manipulation of facts; it’s clear to me that the arrogance of power is firmly established in his belief that only he can be the agent of hope and change. Scary, isn’t it?
Twenty-five years ago, America lost 241 Marines when a suicide bomber drove a yellow delivery truck through several fences and into the lobby of the Marine Barracks at Beirut, Lebanon. Although it's been a quarter of a Century since this senseless act of violence took the lives of our brave Marines, we shouldn't forget those who lost their lives, nor that at least one Federal judge has found that Iran was behind the terrorist attack. With this act Hezbollah ushered in a new method of inflicting terror; the suicide truck bomb. Islamic extremists have used this method of inflicting death and terror against our Embassies in Africa, our troops in Saudi Arabia and Iraq, and (modified by using airplanes) our citizens in New York and Washington.
We should all join the Marines in mourning their brethren who died that day 25 years ago. . .and we should never forget. Jim Maceda, a reporter who was in Beirut that day, remembers in a blog post on MSNBC. CJ at A Soldier's Perspective remembers by posting a letter from Colonel Timothy Geraghty, the commander of the Marines at Beirut that day. It's a wonderful post. We should join Mr. Maceda, CJ, Col Geraghty, and everyone else who remembers the horrors of that day in mourning the death of these men. Most of all, we should all remember that terrorism has no place in this world and its sponsors must be held accountable.
I write this blog using a pseudonym, but I just have to post this one. I love the Stephanie Meyer's Twilight series, and can't wait for the movie's release. Meantime, I just had to take the internet quiz that identified which character in the book is most like your personality. Well...
You are observant, diplomatic and often aim to please. You are unaware of your attractiveness and despite being uncomfortable with any form of attention, people enjoy your company. You can be impatient, stubborn and headstrong, but you are true to your word and mature for your age, often taking care of your family and enjoying a good book over chatting with girlfriends on the phone.
Heroes can appear anywhere, suddenly and without warning. It's amazing how many heroes a person can find if you open your eyes and look. There's the obvious heroes: the first responders to an accident or disaster and our service men and women. Police and firefighters are always heroes in my book, as are those who volunteer to protect this Country and its ideals. But then there's the less obvious heroes. Those who quietly go about their business, yet still manage to impact the lives of others in a positive way. I kind of agree with journalist Ellen Goodman who wrote, "I have never been especially impressed by the heroics of people who are convinced they are about to change the world. I am more awed by those who struggle to make one small difference after another."
I guess that's why I was touched by a story on FOXNews.com about civilian doctors who volunteer to work alongside military doctors at Landstuhl Military Hospital in Germany as a part of a visiting scholars program. The American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons and the Orthopedic Trauma Association sponsors the program, where civilian doctors who have at least 10 years of trauma experience travel to Landstuhl to train military surgeons. The goal is to share knowledge and experience so that military surgeons can save the lives of our service men and women injured in combat. In my opinion, these doctors, the military docs as well as the civilian ones, exemplify those quiet heroes that "struggle to make one small difference after another."
It's clear that these Doctors don't want adulation or praise. They just want to help, to learn, and to make a difference. They want to serve. As one of the civilian doctors who participated in the program, Dr. Dean Lorich, said, "From my standpoint, you just can't say no to going. No matter how much of an inconvenience--if you believe what our country is about, you go when you're asked." Now that's the attitude of a hero. Dr. Lorich understands that being a hero isn't all about doing big things to get your name in lights, its all about (to paraphrase Bob Dylan) understanding the degree of responsibility that comes with freedom.
Dr. Lorich also treated a few heroes while participating in the program. He treated a Special Ops Soldier who broke both his legs in and IED attack. When Dr. Lorich told this highly trained Soldier that he wouldn't have normal function on his left side, and might do better if the leg was amputated. The Soldier said to do whatever was necessary to get him back to his unit. According to Dr. Lorich, that Soldier's dedication to his mission and his unit inspired him and changed the way he looked at life. Dr. Lorich said, "It's a totally humbling experience. You leave different from when you went. It makes you appreciate your home and your family. It was just life altering." According to Dr. Lorich, the military doctors he worked with and trained are also real heroes. He was impressed with their caring and dedication to their patients. He said, "You just can't believe what these guys do.' Dr. Lorich wouldn't hesitate to go back to Landstuhl and work with these heroes. Although he was the trauma expert, sent there to train our military surgeons, he said that he "definitely took more away from it that I gave." Those are the words and the attitude of a hero.
G. Smiley strikes again. He sent me this story in an email, and it's so funny, I just have to post it here. I can imagine it's one of those emails that's making the "rounds," so if you've seen it...just enjoy it again.
A cowboy named Bud was overseeing his herd in a remote mountainous pasture in Dakota country when suddenly a brand-new BMW advanced out of a dust cloud towards him.
The driver, a young man in a Brioni suit, Gucci shoes, RayBan sunglasses and YSL tie, leans out the window and asks the cowboy, 'If I tell you exactly how many cows and calves you have in your herd, Will you give me a calf?'
Bud looks at the man, obviously a yuppie, then looks at his peacefully grazing herd and calmly answers, 'Sure, Why not?'
The yuppie parks his car, whips out his Dell notebook computer,connects it to his Cingular RAZOR V3 cell phone, and surfs to a NASA page on the Internet, where he calls up a GPS satellite to get an exact fix on his location which he then feeds to another NASA satellite that scans the area in an ultra-high-resolution photo. The young man then opens the digital photo in Adobe Photoshop and exports it to an image processing facility in Hamburg , Germany. Within seconds, he receives an email on his Palm Pilot that the image has been processed and the data stored. He then accesses a MS-SQL database through an ODBC connected Excel spreadsheet with email on his Blackberry and, after a few minutes, receives a response. Finally, he prints out a full-color, 150-page report on his hi-tech, miniaturized HP LaserJet printer and finally turns to the cowboy and says, 'You have exactly 1,586 cows and calves.'
'That's right. Well, I guess you can take one of my calves,' says Bud.
He watches the young man select one of the animals and looks on amused as the young man stuffs it into the trunk of his car.
Then the cowboy says to the young man, 'Hey, if I can tell you exactly what your business is, will you give me back my calf?'
The young man thinks about it for a second and then says, 'Okay, why not?'
'You're a Congressman for the U.S. Government', says Bud.
'Wow! That's correct,' says the yuppie, 'but how did you guess that?'
'No guessing required.' answered the cowboy. 'You showed up here even though nobody called you; you want to get paid for an answer I already knew, to a question I never asked. You tried to show me how much smarter than me you are; and you don't know a thing about cows...this is a herd of sheep.'
The milblog community lost one of its own with the death of Army Specialist Stephen Fortunato, 25, on Tuesday. He was killed on his first patrol after returning from a leave home to visit his family, when the vehicle he was riding in was hit by an IED. His mother found an entry dated August 30th on his blog and forwarded it to the Boston Globe who published it. I agree with CJ at A Soldier's Perspective and Brat at Tanker Brothers, this young patriot's words need to be spread far and wide. So, I'll do my part to honor him, his family, and his service by doing so.
If I may …
I'd like to say something....Just to get it out there so it is clear. To all the pampered and protected Americans who feel it is their duty to inform me that I am not fighting for their freedom, and that i am a pawn in Bush's agenda of greed and oil acquisition: Noted, and [expletive deleted] You.
I am not a robot. i am not blind or ignorant to the state of the world or the implications of the "war on terrorism." i know that our leaders have made mistakes in the handling of a very sensitive situation, but do not for one second think that you can make me lose faith in what we, meaning America's sons, daughters, fathers, and mothers in uniform are doing.
I am doing my part in fighting a very real enemy of the United States, i.e. Taliban, Al Qaida, and various other radical sects of Islam that have declared war on our way of life. Unless you believe the events of 9/11 were the result of a government conspiracy, which by the way would make you a MORON, there is no reasonable argument you can make against there being a true and dangerous threat that needs to be dealt with. i don't care if there are corporations leaching off the war effort to make money, and i don't care if you don't think our freedom within America's borders is actually at stake. i just want to kill those who would harm my family and friends. it is that simple. Even if this is just a war for profit or to assert America's power, so what? Someone has to be on top and I want it to be us. There's nothing wrong with wishing prosperity for your side.
I am a proud American. i believe that my country allows me to live my life more or less however i want to, and believe me, i have seen what the alternative of that looks like. i also believe that our big scary government does way more than it has to to help complete [expletive deleted]-ups get back on their feet, a stark comparison to places where leaders just line their own pockets with gold while allowing the people who gave them their power and privilage to starve. I have chosen my corner. I back my country, and am proud to defend it against aggressors. Also, if you dare accuse us of being inhumane, or overly aggressive because we have rolled into someone else's country and blown some [expletive deleted] up and shot some people, let me remind you of just how inhumane we COULD be in defending ourselves. Let me remind you that we have a warhead that drops multiple bomblets from the stratosphere which upon impact, would turn all the sand in Iraq to glass, and reduce every living thing there to dust. Do we use it? No. Instead we use the most humane weapon ever devised: the American soldier. We send our bravest (and perhaps admitably craziest) men and women into enemy territory, into harms way, to root out those whom we are after and do our best to leave innocent lives unscathed.
...One last thing...a proposal. i know it has been stated time and time again but i just think it is worthy of reiteration. If you find yourself completely disgusted with the way America is being ran, and how we handle things on the global stage, you can leave. Isn't that amazing? No one will stop you! If you are an anarchist, there are places you can go where there is no government to tell you anything. That's right...you are left solely to your own devices and you can handle the men who show up at your door with AKs in any way that you see fit. Just don't try good old American debate tactics on them because you will most likely end up bound and blind-folded, to have your head chopped off on the internet so your parents can see it. However if you insist on staying here and taking advantage of privilages such as free speach and WIC, keep the counter-productive [expletive deleted] to a minimum while the grown ups figure out how to handle this god-awful mess in the middle east.
God Bless, young man, you never lost faith; and neither shall we. Rest in peace and know that your brothers and sisters in arms continue the work you did so well.
As I was visiting Grim's Hall, I saw this video of Senator McCain speaking at an annual charity dinner last night (in two parts). It's fantastic! I agree with Grim....where have they been keeping this guy? He hits Senator Obama, Senator Clinton and her husband, ACORN, Joe the Plumber, MSNBC, and his own campaign's foibles; and does it with a wonderful sense of humor and a lot of class. Watch it, it's worth your time and you'lll get a great laugh, or three!
Senator Obama also spoke at the dinner, right after Senator McCain. His speech is also extremely funny! Here's his speech:
I'm afraid Joe the Plumber is finding out just how dangerous it is to publicly question the policies of Senator Obama and the liberal establishment. He found his "15-minutes of fame" with his cogent, intelligent, and relevant question to Senator Obama about the Senator's tax plans, and his astute analysis of the impact to small business and to "the little guy." Unfortunately, like the child who pointed out the Emperor wore no clothes, Joe's question prompted an answer from Senator Obama that revealed the naked truth of Senator Obama's tax plan; he wants to redistribute dollars from those who earn to those who do not.
As a result, the liberal establishment, bloggers and the mainstream media alike, are now trying to discredit Joe the Plumber. It seems that everything is fair game. So he's not really a licensed plumber. He works for one. So he really doesn't make $250K a year. He never said he did. He only said he might have the opportunity in the future to buy a small business that could make $250K. So he had a lien for unpaid medical bills. The bills have been paid and the lien lifted. So he might owe back state taxes. So his name might be spelled wrong on voter registration lists. SO WHAT??? In a great quote, Joe said that "I'm kind of like Brittney Spears having a headache. Everyone wants to know about it."
What gives the press and the liberal establishment the right to go after and make public every little bit of dirt they can possibly uncover about Joe the Plumber? He's an intelligent and responsible voter, who just wanted to ask a candidate about the candidate's policies. That the candidate's answer honestly showed what the candidate really thought, instead of what the candidate wants the public to think, does not mean that Joe needs to be painted as something other than a concerned voter trying to figure out who to vote for.
"Joe the Plumber" gave a wonderful interview to Dianne Sawyer on Good Morning America. Watch it below. Remember Joe? He's the plumber who asked Senator Obama why he thought it was a good idea to raise taxes, and prompted Senator Obama's unscripted answer that really proved Senator Obama was "all about" redistribution of wealth. Joe really comes across as a "regular guy." He's concerned with working hard, providing a living for himself and his son, and doesn't want to be penalized for his hard work with higher taxes just so someone who doesn't work as hard (or doesn't want to work) can have the benefit of his sweat. He's articulate and likeable; but best of all, his analysis is right on the money (tax money, that is).
Cell phones. Everyone seems to have them (except my Dad). They're always coming up with something smaller, newer, better in cell phones. They compute, play music, take pictures, send messages, and (oh yeah) make phone calls. Well it seems they might also be vulnerable to becoming the next potential weapon in cyberwarfare. A new report from Georgia Tech finds that cell phones are extremely vulnerable to hacking, especially as phones become more powerful and the phone's internet connection becomes more reliable. The report finds that hackers can exploit a cell phone's typical lack of security in order to take over the phone and create a "zombie computer" that, when connected with other hacked phones or computers, will create botnets. Remember, a botnet is a network of computers (or phones) that can be used to attack other networks through denial of service attacks or SPAM attacks (the computing kind of spam, not the canned ham kind). Scary, isn't it.
I've posted here before about identity politics and how I think that it's a travesty that people would vote for any candidate, but especially a Presidential candidate, based only on something like race, gender, or religion. I tend to think that identity politics is one of the worst kinds of bigotry around. Responsible citizens vote for a candidate because they've researched the candidate's policies, believe the candidate has good judgment, or for some reason other than the candidate's identity.
I'm not a fan of Howard Stern, but he did a bit on his radio show where he sent one of his "guys" to a NY neighborhood and asked Senator Obama supporters if they supported Senator Obama for president based on particular policy positions, but used Senator McCain's positions on abortion and the Iraq War instead of Senator Obama's. The "guys" also asked Senator Obama supporters if they thought that Senator Obama's choice of Sarah Palin was a good choice for Vice President. It's too funny, except that it's too tragic. Have a listen:
Take a look at this Fox & Friends video clip. There's an interesting exchange between a plumber and Senator Obama, where Senator Obama explains his tax policy. It's plain that Senator Obama's policy is nothing more than pure redistribution of wealth. Check it out:
In case you missed it, the plumber asks Senator Obama whether his tax plan will tax the plumber more. And Senator Obama responds:
It’s not that I want to punish your success, I just want to make sure that everybody that is behind you, that they have a chance for success too. I think that when you spread the wealth around, it’s good for everybody.”
For some reason, I don't think Senator Obama is the new-age Robin Hood; stealing from the undeserving rich and giving to the deserving poor. Instead, I think that his tax policy takes more of a socialist or communist view of wealth redistribution. Guess I should have read Karl Marx a little more closely....
It seems like some economists may have a theory that the economic crisis and the continuing world-wide stock market decline may be a deliberate act of "economic terrorism." In a FOXNews interview, Governor Huckabee discussed the "signs" that the market is being driven down deliberately by people (or a person) who use electronic trading to deliberately sell a large number of shares at the end of the selling day, driving down prices. The large number of shares for sale drives down prices, which creates panic. Because it's late in the trading-day, the market cannot correct itself, the media picks up on the late-day panic and reports it to the world, and the panic infects other markets as they open. Governor Huckabee says that he doesn't know if this theory is correct or not, but that it was "advanced" to him by someone in the "capital markets business." BUT, he doesn't identify who the "source" of this information is. Instead, he looks at the market activity for the last 12-days and the extremely heavy activity (9 times the norm) in the half-hour before trading ends. He does want an investigation to see if there really is someone manipulating the market. Check out the video....
I was looking at my walls this morning. It’s nearing that time when I should think about painting them. They have all the nicks and rubs that come with living in a home. They even have a collection of grubby little fingerprints in certain places (I did tell you that I have grandchildren). As I was trying to wash off some of the more obvious marks, I started thinking that, like walls of a lived-in home, our hearts accumulate various rubs, nicks, and fingerprints as we go about living our lives. (OK, I never said I was a profound thinker, just that I think.)
Living isn’t easy. We do the best we can to find our path through the challenging thickets that surround us. But sometimes, we take paths we shouldn’t have taken, and generally make a nuisance of ourselves. That doesn’t mean we’re bad people, it just means that we’re human. As we travel the pathways of our lives, some of the paths we take leave nicks and rubs on our hearts. Like the nicks and rubs on painted walls, some of these marks detract from the beauty that we carry inside of us. A wall desperately in need of painting does absolutely nothing to help create a comfortable home. On the other hand, sometimes the nicks and rubs add character and depth to our hearts. Someone who has never experienced challenges has never really lived. Just like a pristine, stainless steel and white modern décor will never, in my opinion, make a comfortable home; someone who’s heart doesn’t have a nick or two from facing the challenges that life throws at them, will never be really interesting. They have no depth.
But I have to say that it’s the fingerprints on our hearts that create the most depth. It is the people in our lives who leave those (often grubby) fingerprints on our hearts. There are fingerprints from everyone who has touched our hearts in some way. Whether it’s the warm touch of a loved-one; the reassuring touch of a parent; or the unconditionally loving touch of a child or grandchild, anyone who has touched our heart has left their fingerprints.
While we may need to repair, as best we can, the nicks and rubs on our hearts, we will never be able to fully wash off the fingerprints, even if we wanted to. Those fingerprints document a well-lived life; with all its mistakes and its joys. They document the people who matter to us. They document those that walked with us down the paths of life and helped us meet the challenges on those paths.
I know that the grubby little fingerprints on various parts of my walls detract from the appearance of my home, and I’ll wash them off (in interests of cleanliness….my kids did call me the “cleaning Nazi” after all). But I know that they were there because my grandkids felt comfortable in my home; to be kids and to play as kids will. So I’ll wash the walls and thank the Lord for the opportunity to do so. I’ll also thank the Lord for the fingerprints on my heart; from family, friends, and sometimes from strangers. I’ll thank Him for all the fingerprints from those people who have, somehow, somewhere, somewhen, touched my heart and helped me down the paths of my life.
For those of you who want to be prepared for when the Zombies attack...or at least when the next Zombie movie comes to town...check out this Zombie-movie Preparedness Kit. It will give you the scoop on Zombie habits, what to do when you see a Zombie, and what are the best weapons to render that attacking Zombie dead (again). Remember, we all need to be prepared!
Voter Fraud? From a Chigago politician? It would never happen....or would it? There are a lot of reports of voter fraud coming out of various states; Ohio, Nevada, and Missouri to name a few. All these allegations of voter fraud have one thing in common, the allegations of fraud involve the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now or ACORN. Remember Senator Obama represented ACORN in litigation, and ACORN heavily supports the Democrat ticket. The ACORN organization is, naturally, denying culpability. Instead, they blame their paid voter registration worker-bees who would apparently register people 10, 15, or 25 times. Apparently, in Nevada, they registered past and present Dallas Cowboy football players. They also like registering dead people. ACORN was also the organization that sued banks to generate more sub-prime mortagages and is heavily behind the financial shennagians that led to the current economic melt-down. As a reward, the Democrats wanted to give ACORN some of the $700Billion bailout fallout. Maybe the reward was for registering so many voters, real or imagined.
Add Indiana to the list of states where ACORN has apparently filed false registration forms. According to reports, election officials in Lake County, Indiana, stopped processing 5000 registration forms ACORN delivered just before the registration deadline expired. It appears the first 2100 forms turned out to be fraudulent. They were apparently all filled out and signed by the same person, and had named voters who were dead. One voter name was actually the name of a resturant.
Also, a Federal Judge has ordered Ohio election officials to verify the identity of newly registered voters by matching the names to other government records. This verification step is something that is required by the Help America Vote Act, although (according to GOP sources) the Ohio Secretary of State (you know the woman who didn't want to accept Republican voter registrations that didn't have a non-crucial box checked) has resisted completing the verification.
My friend CJ, who writes at A Soldier's Perspective, has hit on a wonderful idea to celebrate Veteran's Day. He's issued an open letter to milbloggers to join him at the YouServed Blog for a virtual Veteran's Day Parade. Cool, huh! So, for you milbloggers who read this humble blog...let CJ know you'll join the parade, everyone who participates will generate dollars for a worthy charity, VALOUR-IT. For you non-bloggers, come on over to watch the parade. It'll be a blast! Here's CJ's letter:
Virtual Veteran's Day - An Open Letter To Milbloggers October 7th, 2008 by CJ
Greetings fellow milbloggers and assorted opiners of liberty!! For those that don't know me, you haven't had your head in the sewage much and I applaud you for it. For those that do, I apologize again. I write this to ask for your help in arranging a virtual Veteran's Day Parade that will be hosted on the YouServed blog and I would like to enlist your help (yes, even if you are/were commissioned, you're being enlisted for THIS cause!).
Here's what I need from you. First, of course, is participation. This hasn't been done before and if we pull this off I may have a shot at being the next writer for Blackfive during the upcoming television series "So You Think You Can Blog For Blackfive"!!
We'd like to get at least 30 participants for the "parade", but the more the merrier. For every participant I can get, the VA Mortgage Center will donate $20 to VALOUR-IT. That's right, for EACH participant.
Second, I need you to contact other milbloggers and ask for their participation. For blogs like ASP, Mudville Gazette, and Blackfive where there are multiple authors, each participant will count as a separate person for this purpose.
Finally, I need each milblogger to provide the following information:
Name or screenname Blog URL Character "float" you'd be and why you picked it (for example: Snoopy because he was the Red Baron - a veteran like no other!!) Personal thoughts about Veteran's Day.
You can either send me the picture you'd like to use for your float or we can make one to use. The picture can be something you create or just an image you like that reminds you of Veteran's Day and speaks to your "float". Please forward this post to your favorite milbloggers and have them contact me if they're interested. Share this on YOUR blogs and snatch this up into emails to milbloggers as well. The deadline for this is November 4th - one week prior to Veteran's Day.
Obviously the economy, bank failures, sub-prime mortgages, and the stock market are all big news items these days. As they should be. But I really wonder why only FOXNews is reporting that the Iran has been harassing US military assets in the Strait of Hormuz almost daily, and on September 6th even threatened to shoot down US helicopters flying over a US Navy ship. At least as of this morning (1113 to be precise) neither CCN On-line nor ABC On-line had anything posted on their main pages about Iranian harassment. CNN had an admittedly interesting story about a military C-130 Brazilian Air Force cargo plane that flew 373 rescued, rehabilitated, and now repatriated penguins back to their normal feeding grounds. There were several stories about the Presidential debate and the economy, but nothing about Iran and their continuing harassment of our military. Same with ABC. They had a story about Expatriate debauchery in Dubai and one about Courtney Love losing weight; but nothing about Iran looking like they're trying to provoke a war. Come on - - what's more newsworthy here? Could it be that it's all about politics?
These news organizations appear to (no, they obviously) support Senator Obama for President. Could it be that the-powers-that-be at these organizations really don't want to focus the Nation's attention on the very real possibility that Iran is getting too big for its britches and may want to pick if fight with us? Could it be that if the people of this Nation think that there's the possibility of a "real" war with Iran, or even "just" an international crisis involving a country that is doing its best to develop nuclear weapons and the means to deliver them, that those people might think twice about electing Senator Obama? Could it be that these news organizations don't want to report any news, at all, that would somehow have a negative impact on "their" historic candidate's chances for election? Or am I just being cynical?
I've been a big fan of the music published by To The Fallen Records for a while now. To The Fallen Records is an independent record company created by former-Captain Sean Gilfillan after he returned from a tour of duty in Operation Iraqi Freedom. Capt Gilfillan had met a lot of musicians in the military and was surprised that so many talented people did not have a way to get their music heard by more people than their buddies and in talent shows. He combined efforts with a friend, Ms Sidney DeMello and the two created a record label that allows active duty and former military members to send, email, or handcarry their music to them for possible publication. As the To The Fallen Records official website succinctly states,
"Regardless of genre, To The Fallen offers a platform for these powerful voices to get their messages across to fellow soldiers as well as civilians and the public at large. A non-partisan label, To The Fallen's mantra is "It's not about politics, it's about music." Considering that the men and women making music on the label are the same brave soldiers defending our right to free speech, they have earned the right to say what they want to say, regardless of their political persuasions. To The Fallen Records concentrates on quality music, and makes a point of presenting an array of opinions from people that aren't running for office, and have no agenda other than asking for some respect."
All this is a rather lengthy introduction to a wonderful new song from one of the TTFR artists, Stephen Covell, called "Sand Hills to Sandals." It's great. It's posted on the TTFR blog, and unfortunately I can't import it to mine. Please go listen, it's wonderful! Stephen Covell has written a guest post about his decision to join the Army and why he writes and sings music that's posted right below the video. In the post he says,
"A few months ago I made a video for "Sand Hills to Sandals" from my barracks room at Fort Bragg. It may be the only song I ever write about the time I spent in Iraq and what it was like to come back home because I've never been one to mix business with pleasure. Maybe it will help people understand what its like if they have friends or loved ones deployed. If something positive can come out of the sadness that so many have had to face then I think it will have been the right thing to do."
Great song, Stephen! I think you've accomplished what you wanted and I know I got something positive from your song. As your lyrics say, "It will be alright..." That's something everyone needs to know sometimes. I'd recommend it to my friends, family, and blog readers (and I do!)
The Rangers were wading through chest-high grass and deep irrigation ditches.
Spc. Joseph Gibson, 23, felt something odd underfoot. It turned out to be an armed man wearing a suicide vest. What happened next earned Gibson a Silver Star medal.
“He was kneeled down in one of the irrigation ditches. I actually stepped on him and just because of how the terrain was I really didn’t even think anything of it. I took about two more steps before I thought, ‘I’d better see what that was,’ ” said Gibson, of A Company, 2nd Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment.
Gibson received the Silver Star at a ceremony Sept. 26 at Fort Lewis, Wash., where his unit is headquartered.
It was April 26, and Gibson, who joined the Army in 2005 “to get as much action as I could,” had already been to Iraq three times on the night he and his squad were moving through the ditches.
The man in the ditch was the last thing he expected to see, Gibson said, and because he had been pushing through the grass to see the ground, he didn’t have his rifle aimed.
“He was fixin’ to shoot me and there’s no way I could have shot him first, so I just got in front of his weapon ... and he fired it off right next to my face,” Gibson told Army Times. “I tackled him to the ground and grabbed hold of his weapon ... and I started hollering for help. While I was doing that he ripped my helmet off.”
Before help could arrive, Gibson was in a full-scale hand-to-hand fight with the man, who was on his back and tenaciously fighting to get control of his AK47 assault rifle.
There was no room to maneuver in the ditch, and Gibson gained superiority by getting on top of the man and wrestling his rifle away. The man grabbed Gibson’s rifle, which was slung around his neck, and tried to keep Gibson from shooting him.
“He’s got my weapon, so I start to hit him in the face,” Gibson said. “He wasn’t trying to aim my weapon at me, he was in no position to do something like that.”
While Gibson was throwing punches, he could feel the man’s hand reaching down to “grab a knife or something to attack me and then he told me in English he said ‘bomb’ and I realized he had a bomb on him and he was trying to clock himself off.”
“It definitely dropped my morale, but it didn’t slow me down or anything,” he said.
“I kept control of his hand and he ... used his foot to push my chest plate up into my throat and it was beginning to choke me so I let all my weight down on him and I hit him in the face as hard as I could and knocked him out for just a second.”
With no time to waste, Gibson opened enough space between himself and the man to shoot.
“I buried my weapon into his gut and fired one off and he hollered and then that’s when I got off of him and neutralized him,” Gibson said.
Gibson’s close encounter with the suicidal enemy took place only minutes after he had risked his life under fire to help evacuate a Ranger buddy who had been shot when the squad assaulted enemy-held territory by helicopter.
After the hand-to-hand fight, Gibson continued to press on with his fellow Rangers to secure the area, fighting for about another hour.
After the close combat, Gibson said, “I was in a pretty good mood, I was ready to go. I was kind of discombobulated, running around a little shaken up, but I got it together and got my stuff and carried on.”
After the exhilaration of the action he said he joined the Army to see, he re-enlisted for six more years.
“I’ve thought about it, and I know it could have played out a lot of different ways, I’m just glad the guy did what he did and wasn’t thinking very smart,” Gibson said. “As long as I got out of his weapon’s reach, he didn’t have a chance.”
Barry Rubin, a writer at American Thinker, has an article titled Detecting Real Heroes where he discusses a Raymond Chandler essay that, according to Mr. Rubin, defines the American hero and what the American hero tells us about ourselves and our society. Mr. Rubin says that “Americans like their heroes flawed but not shattered.” We like them to be reluctant; thrust into the role of hero because of their moral character and their commitment to doing the right thing for the right reason. We understand that our heroes are not perfect; we don’t want them to be better than we are, we want them to be someone we could (or should) be. We like heroes who are ordinary, imperfect people with a good sense of humor, who don’t take themselves too seriously. Although we like our imperfect heroes, we also want our heroes to have a strong sense of self; an understanding of character and honor and integrity. Our heroes have a strong moral code and despise the fake or the petty. Mr. Rubin describes American heroes as
”These are the kind of people who serve in the military, risk their lives, endure torture as prisoners if that befalls them, and work the tough jobs. Or, to pick an example at random, such a person might be a mother who works her way up from the PTA to a governorship by raising five kids and choosing to have a baby with serious problems. Where one side sees a living being, the other sees a burden.
They are the store clerks who don’t be the big break and become rock stars. They are the insurance salespeople, the factory workers, the businesspeople on a big or small scale, the truck drivers, and all the rest. If they don’t get glamour they should at least get respect.”
Aside from Mr. Rubin’s obvious political bias (one which, in the interests of full disclosure, I share) he’s right about the characteristics of the quintessential American hero. Real heroes, everyday heroes, are everywhere. They are the “wise who solve what the smart create.” They are the young men and women who choose, who volunteer, to serve a cause bigger than themselves; often at risk to life and limb. They are the wounded warriors who think only of recovering and rehabilitating so that they can rejoin their “buddies” in the field to get the job done. They are the mothers and fathers who work hard everyday to take care of their children; who give love and laughter along with the discipline. They are the people who give back to the community, the church, or the nation, rather than take just because they think they’re somehow “entitled.”
We don’t have to look far, or read the papers to detect real heroes. We all know someone who is a real hero. I know several. I’m sure you do, too. I know my AF-daughter and Marine-son are heroes. They chose to serve our nation, willingly, knowing that they may be called to put their life on the line. I know my daughter-in-law is a hero. She chooses to support my son’s choice to serve. They are easy heroes to detect. There are others, not so easy to see. I know a father who comforted his sick young son by letting him sleep on his chest, at the expense of the father’s own sleep and despite the father’s need to work the next day. I know a grandfather who worked hard every day of his life, but took the time to volunteer to teach the community’s youth the joys that of riding and caring for horses. I know young man who lost an eye in service to his country, but still wants to serve and still sees a future in service; despite having only one eye. I know a good man who has worked hard to conquer his demons and has changed his life for the better. These true heroes are more private heroes; but heroes nevertheless. I also see my mother and my grandmother as heroes. These strong and capable women raised children with love, and discipline, and helped instill a strong moral code based on honor and integrity in their offspring. I see my daughter as a hero. She’s picked up the torch these strong women lit and is carrying it forward in raising her own children. All of these heroes are real people, imperfect people, who just try to do what’s best. That’s what makes them real heroes.
A blogger named "Bookworm" has an interesting theory on why so many otherwise intelligent and responsible Americans seem to be infatuated with Senator Obama. Check out Bookworm's article on American Thinker.
According to Bookworm, Americans are climbing on Senator Obama's bandwagon because he's the "romantic bad-boy." Okay, as a theory, it makes a kind of sick sense. Bookworm points out that, for women, the typical romantic bad boy is the guy that has
"been running around on her, and he can get pretty verbally abusive. Still he always tells her he loves her and he promises her that things will get better. With those promises echoing in her head, she's absolutely certain that, if she can just get him to the altar, he'll improve. The act of marriage will magically transform him from an abusive boyfriend who makes pretty speeches into the man of her dreams -- one who is precisely as good as he promises to be. The fact that her friends keep pointing out his myriad failings and that they remind her that the leopard can't change his spots is irrelevant. He says he loves her and if, she can just force that marriage, he'll suddenly realize that he has to change.
Bookworm then compares the typical romantic bad boy to Senator Obama who, despite a record devoid of accomplishments, has made impressive promises "such as a crystalline, pre-industrial environment, without any economic downsides; peace and harmony with the baddest of bad guys; universal health care; and wealth for all. . ." According to Bookworm, like women who believe all the promises that their romantic bad-boys tell them, many Americans "believe those promises, despite the fact that Obama's ineffective resume shouldn't give them reason to believe that he can follow through on any of his promises." So, Bookworm believes that the reason so many normally intelligent Americans intend to vote for Senator Obama is because they
"are thrilling to the feeling of dating the political bad boy, the cool guy who talks a good line, but who has a trail of personal and professional failures in his wake (and some pretty unsavory friends too). Everybody wants to date the bad boy once and a while. But the thing is, you don't marry the bad boy. Just as marriage to the bad boy won't magically make him better, a presidential inauguration won't transform the anti-American, unaccomplished Barack Obama into an effective statesman imbued with a true love for his country.
Perhaps. Perhaps it's just because no one, but the alternative media has looked closely at Senator Obama; who he really is and what he really stands for. Perhaps it's because there are those so infatuated with the "historic" nature of his campaign for presidency (code words for the first black presidential candidate). Perhaps it's just because this Country has become so polarized that neither party is willing to really evaluate a candidate; but will just cast a "knee jerk" vote. Who knows. I do know, however, that American voters should heed Bookworm's final bit of advice:
"So, if you voters think there is more to this Barack Obama than just pretty words, I suggest that you do with him exactly what I'd suggest if you were a young woman infatuated with the bad boy: Wait a while (four years? eight years? twelve years?) and see whether, with time, he either grows up and grows out of it, or if he follows that downward trajectory, validating your decision to reject him in the first place."
Two Marines at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, Lance Corporals Brandon J. Brown and Christian D. Forrest, were recognized by the commanding general of 2nd MLG, Brig. Gen. Juan G. Ayala, for helping save the life of the driver a car that jumped a curb and slammed into a pole then rolled. The two Marines saw the accident and rushed to the driver's aid, pulling her from the car and waiting with her for paramedics to arrive. Read the Marine Corps' official press release here.
These two Lance Corporals certainly demonstrated the courage and personal bravery we've come to equate with the term "Marine." But what impressed me was their humbleness. They acted heroically, but both said that they did what any Marine would do. According to LCpl Forrest, "As a Marine you do what you need to do, when it's time to do it," while LCpl Brown says, "I felt good that I did it, but it’s what Marines do, we help. It’s our job." I wish more of the young people in this Country would have the attitude of these two young Marines. Perhaps the Country would be a better place. Thank you LCpls Forrest and Brown!
Like just about every woman, I've dieted. I've been concerned about my weight. I've lost and I've gained (can you say yo-yo?). I know how hard it is to lose weight and keep it off. Which is why Ms Ashley Barrett-Carter's story touched me. This woman so wanted to serve her country by joining the Army that she lost 113 pounds to do so! Way to go! As Sean Hannity would say, "you're a great American!"
According to a story in the Dallas Morning News Ms Barrett-Carter started thinking about serving in the military a few years ago, but when she walked into a recruiting station she found out that she needed to lose 100 pounds in order to meet the Army's height and weight standards. The recruiter, Sgt Ryan Memolo, thought he'd never see her again. But he did. She came back 2 months later, weighing 20 pounds less. She did it by restricting portions and by exercising rather than by fad diets. After steadily losing about 2 pounds a week (on the advice of her Doctor), Ms Barrett-Carter is ready for basic training. This is the kind of dedication and commitment to service that makes our military great! Hope Ms Barrett-Carter sails through basic, and enjoys her enlistment!
Andy McCarthy has a post on The Corner at NRO.com that's really scary! The post summarizes another article by Ken Timmerman on Newsmax discussing Senator Obama's money raising campaign. It seems that Senator Obama has received a lot of money from foreign sources, in violation of Federal law, and there is also indication that he's received a lot of money from contributors who are structuring their contributions deliberately to avoid the requirement that the campaign disclose anyone with contributions totaling over $200, as well as the $4,600 limit for individual campaign contributions. Unlike Senator McCain, who discloses all of his campaign contributors, Senator Obama has refused to dislose the names of most of his donors even though election law requires that the campaign track them.
Senator Obama has raised almost a half of a billion dollars ($429.6 million), so far. According to Newsmax, the Federal Election Commission (the FEC) has asked for a redesignation or refund of 53,828 donations, totaling just under $30 million.
The FEC has also identified more than 11,500 contributors making $33.87 million in questionable overseas contributions. Until recently, Senator Obama's website allowed people to make contributions from any country listed in the UN without giving proof of citizenship. The records show that Senator Obama has raised $201,680 from diplomats or military members living overseas. They've listed their address with an "APO" identifier. Clearly, folks who reside overseas can legally contribute; as long as they are a citizen, and there's nothing wrong with those contributions. On the other hand, the FEC has identified more than 520 of Senator Obama's campaign donors who listed their state as IR, which is an abbreviation for Iran. There were 63 other donors who listed thier address as the UK, an abbreviation for the United Kingdom. In November 2007, two Palestinian brothers contributed more than $31,300 to Senator Obama's campaign, and the FEC has asked the campaign to reassign the money. The campaign has refunded most of it, but still owes $891.11, despite FEC warnings that the money must be refunded and the campaign's claim it did so in December.
Aside from the questionable overseas donations, the FEC has also questioned donations from small contributors; those the campaign does not have to disclose. It seems that there is some evidence that contributors or fundraisers are breaking a large contribution into small parts and using fake names to avoid campaign disclosure laws and the monetary limit for individual contributors. Senator Obama has raised $222.7 million from people contributing $200 or less. According to the Newsmax article thats the largest pool of unidentified money that's ever "flooded" the US election system since before or after the McCain-Fingold election reform laws went into effect in 2002.
For example, the FEC has questioned a series of $25 donations from a Mr. "Good Will" who apparently lives in Austin, Texas, and who listed his employer as "Loving" and his profession as "You." Mr. Will is just too cute for his own good. Newsmax reviewed the campaign records and discovered that Mr. Good Will has made over 1,000 contributions (most for $25 paid by credit card) for a total contribution of $17,375. The Obama campaign has refunded the credit card for 330 contributions, but Mr. Will's total contribution still reaches $8,950, well over the $4,600 limit an individual can contribute to a campaign under our election laws.
In another example, Mr. "Doodad Pro" from "Nando, NY" contributed a total of $19,500 in 786 donations, again most of them by credit card for $25. Like Mr. Good Will, Mr. Doodad Pro listed his employer as "Loving" and his profession as "You" on some donations and just seemed to pick random letters on other donations. The Obama campaign has also refunded some of the donations, but not all. The campaign still possesses $11,165 of Mr. Pro's contributions, again well over the individual limit.
I know I'm skeptical about conspiracies, but does anyone else see a pattern here? If Mr. Will and Mr. Pro weren't so cavalier (or so stupid and juvenile) they wouldn't have used such obviously fake names or fake information so many times. Without their stupidity, the system these two used for avoiding disclosure or individual limits would have been much more difficult to identify. The information is scary, though and leaves a bad taste in my mouth. I have to ask myself a couple of questions: Is this a concerted effort to avoid federal election laws? Is this one of those dreaded conspiracies, or just stupid contributors? Just how many of Senator Obama's contributions violate the laws of this country? Will the FEC act, or just let the Obama campaign draw out their responses and actions until after election day? Finally, the most important question of all. . .when will the mainstream media report on these "irregularities?"
There's a story on Breitbart.com that addresses how Soldiers getting ready to deploy from Ft. Riley, Kansas have been hit with a new worry: the economic crisis. This is just a particularly poignant example of how the meltdown has already impacted everyday folks. Even though these Soldiers and their families know that their paychecks will be paid, unlike some in the civilian sector; military members still worry what the crisis will do to their investments. Military retired pay, while nice, does not provide sufficient income for most families to completely retire when leaving the service. Many count on investments to "close the gap."
While military members serve in Iraq, their pay is not taxed, and they receive hazardous-duty pay; but Soldiers don't serve because it will make them rich. Military pay is better than it used to be, but it still isn't commensurate with civilian wages. So, it's a good thing there are leaders like the Command Sergeant Major quoted in the article. She's actively telling the Soldiers in her command to be smart, that the extra money won't last. As a leader, she recognizes that many of these young men and women have never balanced a checkbook, or view credit cards as plastic money; at least until the payments are due. She encourages financial planning and saving the extra pay. (Check out my blog-friend Jarhead's take on this.) Fortunately, Ft. Riley, like most other bases, has a program to help families learn how to manage their money. Good thing. With good leaders to set the example, and to mentor their troops, our deploying service members should be able to weather the financial crisis about as well as the rest of us. It's just a shame that they have to think about it at all.
The US has a new combat command, the United States African Command, or AFRICOM. The new command joins the five other military headquarters who support a particular region; such as US European Command, US Central Command, and US Northern Command. As a unified command, AFRICOM will be responsible for providing military forces necessary to support US Foreign Policy on the continent of Africa. Before creation of this command, that responsibility was shared by three different regional commands. AFRICOM’s commander, General William E. “Kip” Ward, said that the command’s creation will allow the US to “look at the continent of Africa as the African’s look at it.”
Personally, I think this is a good thing. It seems that Africa, and problems in Africa have often been viewed as a supplemental problem; something that will either work itself out or that someone else will take care of. I tend to agree with General Ward when he says that in
“today’s globalized society, we know that what’s going on in any part of the world affects us all. It is our best interest as a nation as well as for the international community of nations to have a stable African continent.”
There is no intention to establish AFRICOM bases in African countries, and AFRICOM’s focus seems to be on establishing military-military relationships, ensuring security and helping other agencies, like the State Department as well as non-governmental entities, work toward security and economic growth of African countries. Good ideals. Hope it works. It looks like the first big challenge for AFRICOM, aside from the growth of Islamic-based terror groups, is the Somali Pirates.