Thursday, April 30, 2009

Boy Scouts

My children are grown. They are all wonderful people and successful in the life they've chosen to live. My eldest daughter is a USAF helicopter pilot and wonderful mother. My youngest daughter is a loving, caring, wife and mother who has chosen to stay at home while her children are young. My son serves as a US Marine. I raised them all as best as I could; but like most mothers, there are things I wish I would have done differently. For example, I wish I would have encouraged my son to participate more fully in Scouting. He was involved in Boy Scouts, to a small degree, but I didn't encourage it as I should have. I have come to believe that Scouting teaches boys and young men how to work together as a group and how to be self-reliant. It's a great program.

If you want an example of how Scouting can help a young man mature, check out this story posted on Kudos to this young man for keeping his cool and doing what he needed to do to survive when he couldn't get off the mountain.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Senate Social Networking....

I'm not surprised by Senator Specter "defecting" to the Democratic party. He's been a Democrat in sheep's clothing for a long time. Although I'm not surprised at his switch, I'm saddened for those Republican constituents who voted for him, believing that they were voting for a Republican. I know that voters should evaluate a candidate based on the candidate's personal integrity and policies and not a political affiliation, but the party a candidate belongs to does say something about their political "approach" and may have had an impact on some voter's choice. For that voter, Senator Specter's defection must seem like a classic "bait and switch" gambit.

Slate has an interesting, and unique, way to look at the senate and it's interaction. They've developed a "Facebook-style visualization" of the Senate's "social networking" by grouping together those Senators who have voted together more than 65% of the votes in 2009. It's "way cool" and a "must see." Go check it out!

h/t Cassandra


I love Spring-time. I've been trying my best to be an optimistic person, and I find that it's easier to see the brighter-side of life when the sun is shining and flowers are blooming. Here in fly-over country, there are still overcast days, and days when the wind is bound and determined to blow every scrap of dirt and dust into the next county (along with assorted lawn chairs and garbage cans). But in-between the dreary days, the cold days, and the blustery days, there are the wonderful, bright, sunshiny days that give life to the beauty of this Earth.

I also love Spring for the promise it brings; of Summer-fun, fresh vegetables, and family reunions. Sunny Spring makes these things seem just that much closer. When it's sunny, warmer, and the flowers are blooming, it just seems that everything good in life is possible and (hopefully) within reach. So, I love Spring. I hope your Spring is full of sunshine, beautiful flowers, and optimism. Don't forget to "stop and smell the flowers" along the way. After all, life is too short not to live it and Spring doesn't last all that long; even in "flyover country."

Monday, April 20, 2009

Snap Judgments

FoxNews reports that Iranian President Ahmadinejad has, again, verbally attacked both Israel and the United States, this time (ironically) at a racism conference sponsored by the United Nations. Why doesn't this surprise me? I really didn't think that President Obama's attempt to reach out to the Iranians with a speech on their TV would really open dialog between the two countries; so I wasn't surprised when it's obvious that nothing will open the minds of the Iranian leaders. They've made up their minds; Israel and it's supporters (most notably the United States) are cruel, racist and evil; and need to be wiped off the face of the earth. They've made their judgment and it will stand; no matter what.

Ever know someone like that; someone who makes their mind and won't change it? Like the Iranian leaders, they tend to be scary. Now I'm not talking about someone who has principles and lives by them. I'm talking about someone who makes a snap judgment about a person, place or thing, based on limited or superficial information, and refuses to listen to "the other side of the story" or look beyond the surface.

I've found myself doing just that, making a judgment about a person based on how they looked, and I learned a huge lesson when I was proven wrong. I met a certain person at a workshop a couple of years ago. This person was (by far) not the most attractive person I've ever met and additionally had some very annoying verbal habits. I immediately found myself put off by this person, and at first wasn't willing to look past the person's homeliness or listen to this person's discussions. It wasn't until I forced myself to look at my own reaction to this person's surface characteristics and feel shame for it, that I was able to open up to this person and find out just what a wonderful, warm, and intelligent friend this person could be. This person's inputs made the workshop a success and I would have missed out if I hadn't been able to see that I was wrong for making a snap judgment based on purely surface characteristics.

I think that's why I like the video of British singer Susan Boyle. (See my post on Dreamin'.) Ms Boyle is certainly not the prototype for a young (she's 47 years old), svelte, "hip," singing-star. In fact, she's just about everything opposite. She's an unemployed woman "of certain age," who stayed home to care for her elderly mother, rather than pursue her dream of being a singing star. You can tell from the reactions of the judges and the crowd that they expected Ms Boyle to be something of a joke; purely based on her appearance and her mannerisms. Like I did, they made a snap judgment based on superficial things. Then she started singing and it was wonderful. Her voice is as beautiful as her appearance is not. I hope that Ms Boyle achieves her dream of being a singing star, she certainly has the talent for it. I also hope that Ms Boyle's success will teach us that difficult lesson: we should not make snap judgments based on superficial things. People are complicated beings and there's always more to them that what appears on the surface.

I don't think the Iranian leadership will ever open their minds and look at their judgment that Israel should not exist, and that her supporters are "racist." They are so firmly entrenched in their judgment that no amount of outreach and dialogue, by the US or any other country, will change their minds. I hope that President Obama and his foreign policy advisers realize this simple fact, that the Iranians are entrenched in their racist philosophy and flawed judgment, and I hope they realize it soon.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Have a Wonderful Tea Party!

Today is Tax Day....and it's also the day when patriotic Americans (or if you're a liberal, you'd call them tax-protesters) are holding anti-tax Tea Parties in all 50 states. Personally, I support the patriotic Americans who have taken the time to attend the Tea Parties. Big Government, with higher taxes to support Big Government spending, is not an effective way to govern. Big Government does nothing but perpetuate reliance on Big Government.

Don't get me wrong, I support a central government that is responsible for defense of the Nation and foreign affairs. I even think that maintenance of interstate infrastructure is the responsibility of a central government. But I don't think that a big, central government should be making decisions about the leadership of corporations or requiring banks to make risky mortgage loans and then bailing them out when the bank holds "toxic paper." Nor do I think the government should be managing health care or creating "one-size-fits-all" social programs, which in reality fits no one.

So, to those of you attending a Tea Party today.....thank you for going. For those of us who don't have a Tea Party can still work within your local community to make your opinions known. The "Silent Majority" can't be silent anymore.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Reach for the Dream!

WOW! If you haven't see this video of 47-year old Susan Boyle singing "I Dreamed a Dream," you need to check it out! She has an amazing voice, and completely shocked everyone in the audience as well as the judges (one of whom is Simon Cowell). Ms Boyle told the judges that she's always dreamed of being a professional singer, but no one ever gave her the chance; which is why she was at the audition....trying out for the TV show "Britian's Got Talent." Well, this woman didn't let less than stellar looks, or her age, stop her. She went for it, without excuse and she proved that she certainly has talent! She is a wonderful example for everyone who has a dream.....keep reaching for your dream, no matter what!

Vets as Threats?

I just saw a news story on a report delivered by the Department of Homeland Security. The report, an intelligence assessment, apparently says that there is a strong threat of "man-made natural disasters" (Obama-speak for terrorist incident) from homegrown right-wing groups who are actively recruiting "disgruntled war veterans." Apparently, those of us who believe in the Second Amendment, have served in the military, and who disagree with the policies of the current administration and the liberal Congress are a security threat. I don't think so! Go read Lt Nixon's Rant on this subject. He says everything I wanted to say when I saw the story; but much better!

UPDATE: David K. Rehbien, the National Commander of the American Legion, has sent an open letter to Janet Napolitano, the Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, responding to the "incomplete and ... politically-biased report" and protesting the Department's characterization of military veterans as potential terrorists. It's a great letter. Read it here.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Happy Easter!

"For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life." John 3:16

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Liberal Hypocrisy

I go to a local gym to work out. A lot of the people who also go to the gym are "granola-types" who work for either the Federal government (there are two National Forests, a National Park, and a lot of BLM-managed public lands in this County) or for a alternative recovery program for at-risk teenagers. A couple folks who work out when I do have moved here from California. I've learned, mostly by listening but also by reading the bumper-stickers, that most of the gym-patrons tend to be a lot more liberal that the rest of the locals in the County and certainly a lot more liberal in their politics than me.

So it surprised me today when one of the more outspoken of the liberal granola-types came in the door of the gym and asked one of the male gym patrons if he was the Colonel who owned the truck parked outside. (You see, my truck has a DoD sticker on the front window, with a Colonel's eagle above it.) The male patron denied being the Colonel, so I spoke up and told the granola-type that I was a retired Air Force Colonel, and that it was my truck. I wish I could have captured the look of surprise on the granola-type's face. It was classic! I could tell exactly what he was thinking...."a woman Colonel? Really?" It was also classic how hard he backpedaled to try and cover up his surprise at the woman Colonel.

It's interesting that a purportedly liberal-minded person is the first person in a long time that has acted as if a being a woman would somehow prevent a person from attaining one of the higher ranks in the service. In my opinion, that little vignette showed liberal hypocrisy at its best.

Unintended Consequences

James Lewis has an interesting post about the Somali pirates on the American Thinker website. In the post he compares the pirates' taking of a US-flagged ship and holding it's captain hostage after the ship's crew retook the ship with the Iranian "students" taking US Embassy employees hostage in 1979. Mr Lewis is concerned (as am I) that the appeasement-approach that President Carter took in 1979 will be repeated by the present administration; prompting a number of unintended consequences.

According to Mr Lewis, while President Obama "may think this is a 'distraction'. The rest of the world sees it as a test. And so, far Obama is flunking. " Unfortunately, Mr Lewis has this one right. He goes on to explain that US weakness, even if it's only perceived weakness, will have consequences. Some of those consequences will be more than unfortunate or unintended. Some of those consequences could be disastrous.

"If Obama fails to take action, watch for Russia to make a move on the Ukraine. China will get more aggressive toward Taiwan. Iran will openly throw sandals at Obama effigies, and the rest of the world will realize -- uh-oh, no more cop on the international beat. North Korea will launch another missile over Japan -- pardon me, another satellite launch will somehow go astray, heading toward Hawaii.

That means one of two things: either the aggressors start winning, or somebody else has to play the international cop -- the role the United States has carried for sixty years.

So who do you want to play the world's cop?

Russia will happily volunteer do it for Europe, since Europe won't do it for itself. China could squeeze concessions from Japan and South Korea to stop the Norks [North Koreans]. And in the Middle East it will either be Israel -- which can protect the Arab countries from nuclear attack by Iran -- or it will be the mad mullahs of Qom. I would guess that the Israelis will bomb Iranian nuclear facilities, with the covert help of Arab Gulf states. "

Nature abhors a vacuum. Without a strong US, with a strong leader who has a strong will to protect US citizens and their property, someone else will step into that vacuum. Unfortunately, it may be someone with interests adverse to ours. As Mr Lewis says, "Welcome to the age of American weakness. The whole world, we were told in the last eight years, wanted to bring the US down a notch or two. Well, just be careful what you wish for."

UPDATE: Well, it seems that US sailors tried, and failed, to rescue the ship captain held hostage. It will be interesting to know why they were unable to rescue the captain and how these third-world pirates were able to repel sailors from one of the most capable, well-trained Navies in the world. I wonder if the rescue party was so hamstrung by extremely restrictive rules of engagement that they couldn't effectively do their job. Or, it could be the operation was "managed" by their political "masters" to the point that there was no way these extremely competent sailors could adjust to the situation as they may have needed to do. Most of all, I wonder if we'll ever know the truth of why the rescue attempt failed. What I do know is that a failure gives hope and incentive to these pirates, as well as to others who want to bring this Country down. A failed rescue may be as bad as no rescue.

UPDATE #2. Wonderful news! The Captain has been rescued by Navy Seals, who also killed 3 of the 4 pirates and captured the survivor. Along with the rest of the Nation, I'm happy that this has ended well.

Friday, April 10, 2009

We're Jammin' Now!

Today I did something that I've always wanted to do, but had not taken the time to do....I made jam. Strawberry jam, to be specific. I even made two batches for a total of 8 two-cup jars. For some reason, it was a lot of fun! Not only am I excited about the final product, it was the "making" that was fun. Instead of following my usual pattern and trying to get the "thing" I was doing finished as quickly as possible; I made a choice to enjoy the process of building a jar (or 8 jars) of jam. By taking my time and enjoying the strawberry-mashing, the sugar-measuring, and the pot-stirring, the entire process was a blast and made me even more excited about my foray into jam-making. I think there's a life-lesson to be learned here. Sometimes it's the journey and not the destination that's important. Besides....I get to eat homemade jam on my toast tomorrow morning!

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Even the Geese Know.....

I've been living in "flyover country" for about 4 1/2 months. I've always loved it here, and enjoyed visiting when I could. There's something about the mountains and the desert that touches my soul and fills my heart. Those who think that America consists of the bustle found in the cities in the East and the glamour of the "left coast," really miss the true beauty of America. America is a beautiful country, with a wealth of diverse landscapes that can please any one's eye and reach their soul. Those who believe that the essence of America is the sum total of the political scene, the fight for bailout money, or the scramble for power or fame have lost touch with what makes America strong. America is strong because of it's people; including those who live in "flyover country, who love this land, and who want to protect it and her people.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Now this is a Travesty!

I didn't have the opportunity to serve in Iraq; but I know people who did. I have listened when they talked about the Iraqi citizens who risked their lives by serving as interpreters for American forces. I've met some of those Iraqi interpreters who have been able to obtain visas to come to the United States. They are genuinely nice folks, who made a decision to work for Americans who brought hope to them and their country; a decision that cost them their safety and sometimes cost even more. So I became increasingly angry as I read an article posted on FoxNEWS about the State Department's denial of a visa for an Iraqi interpreter who had repeatedly saved the lives of American troops; for what seems like a "made up" reason.

You see, this interpreter was a member of the Peshmerga, an anti-Saddam group. He was asked to get documents on one of Sadam's sons. He did so by stealing Uday Hussein's car, was caught, convicted, sent to prison, and repeatedly tortured. He actively worked to overthrow Saddam at a time when our foreign policy encouraged such activities...but a State Department Consular official denied this brave man's visa applications for himself, his wife, and their child, because he had a conviction for theft. He denied the visa despite a full explanation of the reasons behind the theft (the overthrow of a dictator) and despite numerous recommendations from military men and women (including General Officers) who described numerous occasions when this interpreter put his life on the line to save American lives. He's pulled wounded soldiers from destroyed vehicles and covered them with his own body to protect them from sniper fire. He's risked his own life to pull wounded troops to safety. His skill as an interpreter was invaluable at finding and catching insurgents. What more does anyone need to do?

This is a travesty and someone should question the real reason behind the visa denial. According to the FoxNEWs report, the State Department official who denied the visa was aware that this brave man was the organizational impetus behind a public meeting of translators to protest a political decision to hand over the real names of Iraqi translators to the Iraqi government; something the translators felt put them and their families in danger. He's also apparently been a whistleblower on a couple of other occasions. Perhaps, this State Department official who denied this heroic man his well-deserved visa is really just exercising his puny power.

Despite the denial, the Iraqi interpreter continues to work for the Americans. . .knowing that doing so risks his life and the life of his family. Amazing!

VA Has a New Gunn in Town!

If you've followed this blog at all, you'll know that I have been very critical about then-candidate Obama's judgment; particularly his judgment about people he selected to serve in important positions. As President, it didn't look like his judgment improved given the people he's chosen to serve on his Cabinet. Having said that....this time it looks like he got one right! Retired Air Force Colonel (and judge advocate) Will Gunn has been nominated to serve as the General Counsel for the Department of Veteran's Affairs. There couldn't be a better choice for the position. Will Gunn is one of the "good guys." I've known Will for a long time (about 20 years). In my opinion, he's extremely intelligent, personable, honest, and genuinely cares about others. The VA has come out ahead with this new "Gunn!"