Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Candidate Calculator

If you haven’t seen this site yet, you should go there and answer the questions and let the Candidate Calculator tell you which candidate most closely matches your political ideals. The site asks you whether you support or oppose or are unsure about a long list of issues, and gives you the opportunity to rate the importance of each issue. After you select your position (with or without rating importance) the Calculator analyses your responses and tells you which candidate is most closely aligned to your philosophy.

I’ve done this three times. The first time I used the Calculator was a couple of weeks ago, and I did not use the Importance factor, and my candidate was Tom Tancredo, Congressman from Colorado. The second time I did use the Importance factor and my candidate was Mitt Romney. Both times were prior to Republican Fred Thompson entering the race and before Kansas Republican Senator Sam Brownback withdrew from the race. The last time was today, using the Importance factor (though likely with different levels than before) and the result showed that, again, Tom Tancredo is the candidate most closely aligned with my political views.

Here are my most recent results. I would be interested in knowing which candidate each of you matches with best, so please post a comment with your results.

Top Picks

Colorado Representative Tom Tancredo (R) 84.81% match

California Representative Duncan Hunter (R) - 83.54%

Former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney (R) - 78.48%

Former Tennessee Senator Fred Thompson (R) - 70.89%

Middle of the Pack

Former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee (R) - 68.35%

Kansas Senator Sam Brownback (R) - 63.29%

Arizona Senator John McCain (R) - 63.29%

Businessman John Cox (R) - 59.49%

Texas Representative Ron Paul (R) - 59.49%

Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani (R) - 53.80%

New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson (D) - 39.24%

New York Senator Hillary Clinton (D) - 27.85%

Connecticut Senator Christopher Dodd (D) - 27.85%

Former North Carolina Senator John Edwards (D) - 27.85%

Bottom of the Barrel

Delaware Senator Joseph Biden (D) - 24.05%

Illinois Senator Barack Obama (D) - 18.35%

Ohio Representative Dennis Kucinich (D) - 17.72%

Former Alaska Senator Mike Gravel (D) - 13.92%

I am not all that surprised at those who were the Top Picks and the Bottom of the Barrel. However, some of those in the Middle of the Pack did surprise me (Clinton, Dodd, Edwards, all too high).

The overall results of the 1,293,843 participants of the Candidate Calculator are as follows:

Gravel - 13.06%

Giuliani - 12.18%

Romney - 11.35%

Kucinich - 9.40%

Huckabee - 7.31%

Biden - 7.22%

Cox - 6.25%

Clinton - 4.59%

Tommy Thompson - 4.40%

Obama - 4.18%

Dodd - 4.17%

Hunter - 4.01%

Tancredo - 2.81%

Fred Thompson - 2.73%

Paul - 1.93%

Richardson - 1.68%

Edwards - 1.36%

Brownback - 1.02%

Mccain - 0.34%

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Attacking Iran an Unavoidable Prospect?

The idea that the US might attack Iran to destroy or severely damage its progress toward developing nuclear weapons has been a relatively common topic of discussion in the news for the last few months. You might be surprised, as I was, to learn that a majority of likely voters - 52 percent - would support a U.S. military strike to prevent Iran from building a nuclear weapon, and 53 percent believe it is likely that the U.S. will be involved in a military strike against Iran before the next presidential election, a new Zogby America telephone poll shows.

And at least one authority believes that war, or at least military action, might be the only way to prevent Iran from becoming a nuclear power, something clear thinking individuals realize would be one of the most destabilizing events that could occur today.

Former US Ambassador to the United Nation John Bolton writes in a new book that "Iran will never voluntarily give up its nuclear program … and a policy based on the contrary assumption is not just delusional but dangerous. This is the road to the Nuclear Holocaust." In "Surrender Is Not an Option: Defending America at the United Nations and Abroad," Bolton asserts that Europe's three-year try at using diplomacy to persuade Iran not to become a nuclear power were useless.

The prospect of Iranian President Ahmadenijad with nuclear weapons at his disposal is enough to cause true concern, but a more serious concern is that he would furnish nukes to al–Qaida, whose nuclear ambitions against the US have been known since the early 1990s, according to former FBI consultant Paul Williams in his recent book, The Day of Islam: The Annihilation of America and the Western World (Prometheus Books). Williams discusses the potential for nuclear terrorism on U.S. soil and the connections between al-Qaida, organized crime and illegal immigrants, and talks about the origins of al-Qaida's intentions to detonate a nuclear device that would kill hundreds of thousands of Americans. A newer and worse scenario calls for nuclear devices to be detonated simultaneously in seven US cities, New York, Washington, D.C., Las Vegas, Miami, Boston, Houston, and Los Angeles, and FBI Director Robert Mueller has confirmed Williams' main claim. Mueller said al-Qaida's paramount goal is clear.

To the extent that Iran might be the source for al-Qaida to obtain nukes, and that even if it kept them all to itself, Iran cannot be allowed to develop nuclear weapons, and it is comforting that the Zogby poll indicated that a majority of Americans recognize this.

Most of us don't want another war, and a lot of people didn't and don't want the one we are in now in Iraq. But it is simply unacceptable for nuclear weapons to be detonated in the US and that is something we must prevent at any cost. Better to act to pre-empt such a scenario than to have to respond to it, because the only sensible response to multiple nukes killing hundreds of thousands or millions of Americans is to level most or all of the Middle East where the threat was born and raised.

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Saturday, October 27, 2007

Black Hawk Down

I read a review of the Black Hawk Grill in Barboursville, West Virginia before calling for reservations, even though I have been there before and was reasonably impressed with it. I did that because it’s been a while ago that we were there, and I wanted to refresh my memory about the place. The review said that entrees ran from $12 to $2o, which seemed pretty much as I remembered it, though perhaps a couple of dollars low for the high end entrees. So, I called and asked the guy who answered the phone, “How are you for Friday night?” Now, that probably wasn’t the best way to begin a conversation, but given that it was a restaurant, it didn’t seem a totally dumb opening. The guy responded, “I’m good for Friday, how are you for Friday?”

That should have tipped me off that something was amiss, but I went ahead and reserved a table for three at 7 p.m. on Friday night. We arrived a minute or two early to find the bar area, where the entrance is, crowded, and told the young lady at the desk my name. She couldn’t find the reservation, but did seat us … eight feet from the bar, where there were lots of people talking and enjoying themselves. Loudly. It was difficult to talk over the din.

The waitress, Jill, brought menus, and things immediately got worse. Several of the entrees were in the $30 to $40 range, well above both how I remembered things, and what the review said. I’ve been in lots of different restaurants, good, bad and mediocre, and due to my experience my expectations rise geometrically when prices rise above about $28 for the priciest entrees, like surf and turf. Most of the time, the food quality doesn’t impress me as much as its price; I get really picky, figuring that anyone charging $32 for a six ounce filet, or $38 for a crab-stuffed New York Strip must be a culinary genius. Usually, they aren’t.

This was a semi-special occasion, so I determined to (pardon the pun) swallow hard and go ahead with a wonderful meal, the price be damned. Having trouble finding something that really suited me I told the waitress that the 14 oz. strip was too much food for me, but the filet would be about right if it only had the accompaniments that the strip had with it. She said they could do that, and wrote it down.

The baked brie appetizer was very good, although the wine was less than it ought to have been. But, the wine didn’t arrive until after we had finished the appetizer, and the bread didn’t get there until the salad was finished. “I’m sorry; we’re really busy tonight,” Jill said. Hmmm.

Finally, the entrees were delivered, and the steak was cooked pretty much as I requested, and was very good. Unfortunately, the accompaniment was neither what was on the menu, or the alteration I had ordered. It also didn’t thrill me.

So, the Black Hawk Grill did not make my “I can’t wait to go back there” list, and may be added to my “I won’t go back there list.”

When you go out to eat, you expect well prepared and tasty food and decent service at a reasonable price. That is the least you should get; the basic contract between diner and restaurant. If a restaurant asks higher than usual prices, say in the $20 to $30 range instead of the $12 to $20 range that was in the review I read, then the restaurant has the obligation to provide something for that extra money, and if the restaurant dares to charge more than $30 for most of its entrees, it had damned well better make your experience a memorable one. Black Hawk Grill failed to meet that standard; failed to meet the high expectations set by the grossly overpriced menu.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Fairy Tales and Misfeasance

Despite the best efforts of the demagogues in the environmental movement the fact that manmade global warming is a fairy tail that would make the Brothers Grimm proud is beginning to seep into the public consciousness. If not a true fairy tale, it is at least an unproved and grossly exaggerated idea –and it is just an idea - warranting more investigation and less trumpeting. But the greenies don’t want an honest debate on the issue, or, in fact, any debate at all.

What passes for honest debate these days is merely fear mongering. Rather than discuss the issue and hold a public dialogue on whether or not man’s activities actually do cause significant levels of greenhouse gases, environmentalists prefer to avoid discussing the issue and instead produce a series of frightening scenarios that they say will occur because of manmade global warming. It is much easier to try to scare people with horrific stories of doom and gloom than it is to debate the issue and give opponents of the manmade global warming theory a platform for their contrary opinion.

A prime example of this fear mongering is a story in the local paper the other day, the headline of which stated: “Twenty-one cities around the globe threatened by rising sea levels.” An organization named the Worldwatch Institute claims that of the 33 cities predicted to have at least eight million people by 2015, at least 21 are highly vulnerable. The story goes on to say that more than one-tenth of the world’s population lives in low lying areas at risk from climate change, according to “experts.”

This story is written from the perspective that climate change is definitely, undeniably the cause of the predicted flooding of those 21 cities. There is no mention of the ongoing dispute about whether or not man’s activities truly have a significant effect on global warming; that possibility is assumed to be true. However, there are at least as many climate scientists that deny man’s role in climate change as there are climate scientists who support man’s role in climate change. And, many authorities believe that the number that does not support the manmade global warming idea is vastly greater than those that do.

Advocates of a particular perspective can be expected to do many things in order to promote their views. And in cases where there are two or more opposing views, as there most often are, we depend upon the media to present balanced reporting of those views. Where the issue of manmade global warming is concerned the media has failed to do its duty.

The global warming issue is one more example of the failure of the American media to adequately serve the American people by providing them with balanced, fair, objective reporting that prepares them to make sensible and informed decisions about crucial issues that face our nation.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Sometimes Idiocy Prevails

King Middle School in Portland, Maine has decided to dispense birth control to middle-school students—kids as young as 11 years-old—without parental consent. Two reactions to this event are common: First, abject horror on the part of people who think that helping children have sex is unacceptable, and the second goes something like this: “Well, their hormones are running wild, and you can’t stop it, so we might as well teach them to indulge in sex safely.”

I find it shocking that schools require parental permission before giving a kid an aspirin for a headache, but will give them physical exams and then prescribe condoms and birth control devices—implicitly sanctioning sexual activity—all without parent’s consent, or even telling parents what they have done. This is incredibly arrogant, among other descriptors, and probably unconstitutional. Can you imagine Thomas Jefferson, George Washington and James Madison discussing whether or not the government ought to be helping school-age children have sex?

True enough that people are hard-wired with hormonal impulses, however the age at which the impulse activates has dropped significantly. When I was 11, neither I nor anyone that I knew even had suspicions about sexual contact, let alone actually doing it; sexual activity was a few years down the road. Even at 13 or 14 having sex was almost nonexistent. Yes, that was a long time ago, but that is one of my points: as time goes on, younger and younger kids are becoming sexually curious and sexually active. And the public schools are now helping them do this. One wonders just where it will stop: Is there any age that is too young to hand out condoms, birth control pills and teach about sex? Maybe we should teach them to have oral sex instead.

The permissive, self-indulgent, anything-goes, toss-aside-traditional-modes-of-behavior, and don’t-tell-me-what-to-do-attitude that began in the 60s is to blame for this recent example of cultural devolution. So, we are going to allow hormones to have domain over our common sense and our sense of morality (what’s left of it)?

Joey and Margaret, two eleven year-olds, have both gotten condoms from their school a week ago. The two kids are listening to rap music, and the lyrics say something about the rapper “taking his bitch” and the two are overcome by their hormonal impulses and decide to pursue their passions. Joey says, “Oh, Margaret, I left my condom at home, and Margaret says, “And I loaned mine to my little sister. But that’s okay, Joey, I haven’t started ovulating yet, so it’s okay to go ahead without one. I’m your bitch, Joey. Take me.” This is the mentality of the people we are arming with birth control devices and sending into battle.

This idiotic movement is an outgrowth of the attitude that I can do whatever I want, and everybody can do whatever they want as long as it’s not against the law and doesn’t hurt anyone else.

We have abandoned our obligation to take responsibility for our actions. If you get pregnant, or if you get someone pregnant, you are obligated to have the child and raise the child. That’s the way it works. We know what causes pregnancy; it isn’t a mystery. If you don’t want children, either do not have sexual intercourse, or make damned sure you are protected, but be prepared for the consequences if manmade mechanisms fail to work properly. Be an adult, not a wimp.

The idea that it is ever acceptable for 11-year-old children to have sex is ludicrous. It is so goofy that no thinking person could ever subscribe to such a ridiculous idea. Yet, we have government schools deciding to pass out condoms and birth control pills to children without their parents approval, or even their knowledge. And we are going to sit by a let this happen?

Some may point out that hundreds of years ago it was customary for girls to marry and bear children at age 14. You may have noticed that as we became more civilized we’ve moved away from that idea because along the way we realized that 14 year-old girls are not emotionally or intellectually prepared for motherhood. But now we seem to be saying, by virtue of our schools giving condoms to 11 year-olds, that it is OK for them to have sex and perhaps become parents.

The idea that because a certain harmful situation exists we adapt to the situation rather than correct it is bizarre. If people are driving well above the posted speed limit on a stretch of highway and that increased speed makes driving there risky, do we merely raise the speed limit? Or, do we take action to slow down the drivers? Do we acquiescence, or do we attack the problem?

Giving condoms and birth control pills to 11 year-olds is avoiding the issue. It is cowardly. It is dangerous. It is stupid.

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Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Lt. Gen. Ricardo Sanchez: The Untold Story

[Editor's Note: Here is the column originally posted on Spero News alluded to here yesterday.]

When retired Lt. Gen. Ricardo Sanchez gave a speech at the annual convention of the Military Reporters and Editors Association critical of the US efforts in Iraq and the Bush administration, the media was all over it, loudly trumpeting the general’s remarks. That’s okay, because when someone like Sanchez, who was the former top commander in Iraq, speaks about his experience—whether what he says is good or bad—we ought to pay attention.

According to The New York Times, “Sanchez, who retired in 2006 after being replaced in Iraq after the Abu Ghraib prisoner abuse scandal, blamed the Bush administration for a ‘catastrophically flawed, unrealistically optimistic war plan’ and denounced the current addition of American forces as a ‘desperate’ move that would not achieve long-term stability.”

“After more than four years of fighting, America continues its desperate struggle in Iraq without any concerted effort to devise a strategy that will achieve victory in that war-torn country or in the greater conflict against extremism,” the most senior war commander of a string of retired officers who have harshly criticized the Bush administration’s conduct of the war said.

Sanchez’ comments are a searing indictment of the Iraq war. However, two things need to be said. First, Sanchez is himself not above criticism, as The Times suggested, to the extent that the Abu Ghraib issue deserves our concern, since he was in charge at the time. And second, many people believe that things in Iraq are far better than we are being told, as The Washington Post surprisingly reported recently.

Which brings us to the topic of this column: The media’s continuing dismal performance of its solemn duty to provide the American people with accurate, complete and unbiased information. That was part of the general’s speech, too, but you probably didn’t read about in The Times or The Post, and you didn’t see it on CNN, NBC, etc.

Here are some excerpts from what Gen. Sanchez had to say about the media that hasn’t been reported:

The speculative and often uninformed initial reporting that characterizes our media appears to be rapidly becoming the standard of the industry. …

In my business one of our fundamental truths is that “the first report is always wrong.” Unfortunately, in your business “the first report” gives Americans who rely on the snippets of CNN, if you will, their “truths” and perspectives on an issue. As a corollary to this deadline driven need to publish “initial impressions or observations” versus objective facts there is an additional challenge for us who are the subject of your reporting. When you assume that you are correct and on the moral high ground on a story because we have not responded to questions you provided is the ultimate arrogance and distortion of ethics. …

My assessment is that your profession, to some extent, has strayed from [its] ethical standards and allowed external agendas to manipulate what the American public sees on TV, what they read in our newspapers and what they see on the Web. For some of you, just like some of our politicians, the truth is of little to no value if it does not fit your own preconceived notions, biases and agendas.

General Sanchez’s comments about media malfeasance are just a scathing as his comments about the war, but far less widely reported.

Ironically, in reporting Sanchez’ comments on Iraq and omitting his comments on the media, the media have confirmed precisely the charges he leveled against them for abandoning their ethical standards.

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Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Al Gore and the Nobel Peace Prize

[Editor's Note: Following is the column I posted earlier on Spero News that I had linked to.]

Many Americans are wondering what Al Gore has done to even be nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize, let alone win it. After all, what sort of a system allows an environmental activist to win an international peace prize?

The Nobel Web site provides some help understanding of how Nobel Peace Prize winners are selected. It tells us that Alfred Nobel, who created the Peace Prize, was also the inventor of dynamite and military munitions. His will provides for an annual award that now amounts to $1.5 million (tax-free) “to the person who shall have done the most or the best work for fraternity between nations, for the abolition or reduction of standing armies and for the holding and promotion of peace congresses.” That helps us understand what Nobel had in mind, and it is clear that he meant for the Prize to go to someone who actually worked for peace, or at least the reduction of hostilities.

Looking at past Nobel Laureates, we learn that “Henry Dunant, founder of the Red Cross, shared the first Nobel Peace Prize in 1901 with Frédéric Passy, a leading international pacifist of the time. In addition to humanitarian efforts and peace movements, the Nobel Peace Prize has been awarded for work in a wide range of fields including advocacy of human rights, mediation of international conflicts, and arms control.” The first award was a fine start, and the list contains many worthy recipients including Mother Teresa, Woodrow Wilson, Desmond Tutu, Lech Walesa, Henry Kissinger and Dag Hammarskjold.

However, we also learn that in 1994 Yasser Arafat, the leader of the terrorist Palestine Liberation Organization, won along with Shimon Peres and Yitzhak Rabin. And looking further back we find out that in 1939 a member of Sweden’s parliament nominated Adolf Hitler for the Peace Prize. Other nominees include Hitler’s fellow socialists Benito Mussolini and Soviet Communist dictator Joseph Stalin, mass murderers all. Apparently, anyone can be nominated for Peace Prize, literally, and sometimes winners may not exactly exemplify Nobel’s noble goal.

Nominations of questionable people aside, just how did the Nobel Committee come to award the Peace Prize to an American politician and a panel engaged in the advocacy of a questionable scientific theory that is the subject of heated debate, but neither of which are involved in the pursuit of world peace? Al Gore, after all, has done nothing to promote international fraternity, abolish or reduce standing armies, or promote peace conferences.

As it turns out, it requires the application of a generous amount of pretzel logic.

Jan Egeland, a Norwegian peace mediator and former U.N. undersecretary for humanitarian affairs, has decided that climate change is more than an environmental issue. "It is a question of war and peace," he has said. "We're already seeing the first climate wars, in the Sahel belt of Africa," where nomads and herders are fighting with farmers because “the changing climate” has brought drought and a shortage of fertile lands.

Aha! By citing one conflict over a drought-induced water shortage in Africa, and by assuming that this drought—all droughts?—are caused by global warming, suddenly global warming is a war and peace issue, and Al Gore and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) are eligible for the Nobel Peace Prize. In what columnist Lowell Ponte cleverly called “a sloppy syllogism (or AlGorerithm),” the Norwegian Nobel Committee justifies this by saying that global warming, "may induce large-scale migration and lead to greater competition for the earth's resources. Such changes will place particularly heavy burdens on the world's most vulnerable countries. There may be increased danger of violent conflicts and wars, within and between states." Notice the use of the word “may?” Yes, there “may” be violent conflicts and wars, but then again, there “may” not be. But shouldn’t the Nobel Committee focus on the existing conflicts instead of one that “may” not materialize?

But even if we accept the Committee’s logical acrobatics, it must be acknowledged that Man-made global warming is a hotly debated theory among climate scientists; it is not the “done deal” that Gore, the IPCC and the Committee seems to think it is.

Al Gore's film documentary on global warming, "An Inconvenient Truth," which won an Academy Award this year, and which is the basis for awarding Gore the Peace Prize, is riddled with factual inconsistencies, according to a British court. High Court Judge Michael Burton’s ruling notes that some assertions in Gore’s documentary were not supported by scientific evidence, and ordered that written guidance to school teachers must accompany screenings for students, to ensure Gore's views are not presented uncritically.

The Nobel Peace Prize Committee has jumped onto the global warming bandwagon, abandoned its former focus on efforts at world peace, and allowed political expediency to trample principle. This is not the first time principle has taken a back seat to politics, of course, but it is sad to see that another formerly honorable institution has fallen victim to it.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Ron White on the Death Penalty

I like Ron White, one of the guys on the Blue Collar Comedy Tour. He usually has a cigar in one hand and a glass of Scotch in the other. 

That’s my kind of guy. He’s laid back, very dry, and a hoot. 

Here is Ron’s offering on the death penalty, and even though I think I’ve posted this before, it is worth repeating, although it looses something in text that it has when Ron says it:

I’m from Texas. In Texas we have the death penalty. And we USE it. 

That’s right, if you come to Texas and kill somebody, we will kill you back. That’s our policy. 

They’re trying to pass a bill right now through the Texas Legislature that will speed up the process of execution in heinous crimes where there’s more than three credible eye witnesses. 

If more than three people saw you do what you did, you don’t sit on death row for 15 years, Jack, you go straight to the front of the line. 

Other states are trying to abolish the death penalty … my state’s puttin’ in an express lane.

Sunday Filler

A blogger friend, JL Pagano at All Smoke and Mirrors, used to post the search words that brought people to his site, and the search words were often interesting, sometimes puzzling, and occasionally bizarre.

Since I don’t have anything of substance to post today (yet), I am going to steal/borrow Mr. P’s idea and show you some of the search words that bring people to Observations, and perhaps comment on them.

  • barbra streisand nude – I could write a column on why I don’t like Barbra, but suffice it to say that nude pics of her will not appear on Observations.
  • articles on the viewpoints of martha stewart's conviction – I did at least comment on Martha’s travesty.
  • "rude fans ", professional sports – Most of my comments on professional sports criticize the babies who make millions playing games, not their fans.
  • breakdown of uninsured in America – This badly distorted issue has been addressed here.
  • how family members behave when their beloved is dead or self inflicted injury? – A total puzzle. I have no idea why this would bring someone to Observations.
  • discovery channel cia disclosed no one landed on moon – Another mystery.
  • croton oil – Help! What is “croton oil?”
  • mission viejo lots of muslims – Muslims sometimes are a topic, especially the fanatical, violent variety.
  • funny remarks of bum Phillips – I know Bum Phillips is a coach; I didn’t know he is funny; I don’t really care.
  • common sense rip poem – No clue.
  • did ralph nader ever say we should put marine's off the coast of florida – Given Ralph’s odd proclivities, it is possible, but it’s not been a subject here.
There you have it, folks.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

The Straight Face Test

[Editor's Note: My friend Kenna Amos has a blog titled "The Straight Face Test," now inactive due to Kenna's work demands. I invited him many months ago to submit columns to me for publication on Observations whenever he had something he wanted to say and the time to say it.

This is Kenna's first opportunity; I hope there will be many more.]


Theologian-in-chief—maybe even Christian?—Bush’s Not

Few Christians will ever get the chance to witness for Jesus the Christ as Methodist George W. Bush has had and still has.

Unfortunately, he hasn’t capitalized on those opportunities.

I’ve always given the president the benefit of the doubt when it comes to his professed Christianity. In mid-December 1999, during the first presidential campaign, he said, “When you turn your heart and your life over to Christ, when you accept Christ as the savior, it changes your heart. It changes your life. And that's what happened to me.”


That’s what you’d expect a believer in the Christ to profess.

But in that same interview, he named Jesus as his favorite political philosopher. Come again? I’ve heard Jesus called many things, honorific and respectful as well as degrading and insulting, but never that. Perhaps a reading of the Holy Bible, especially the Gospels and New Testament, as political theory might be enlightening?

Regardless, that’s when I first suspected Bush would equivocate later, perhaps significantly, about his faith. And the more I’ve heard him call Islam a “religion of peace,” the more I knew Bush’s big, false declaration about God was coming.

Well, as they’d say in France, “Il est arrivé.”

He did that when he told Al Arabiya in an Oct. 4, 2007, interview at the White House that, essentially, everyone prays to the same god. “I believe that all the world, whether they be Muslim, Christian, or any other religion, prays to the same God. That's what I believe. I believe that Islam is a great religion that preaches peace,” he declared.

His statement about all of us praying to the same God wasn’t just mistaken, as someone has said—it was flat-out ignorant and wrong for a Christian to say.

How so? Because God’s declared He’s the only one. Him. The I Am That I Am. Yahweh. The Lord Jehovah declares His divine singularity in the Old Testament, for example, in the Book of Isaiah at Chapter 44, verse 6; d Chapter 45, verse 6 and verse 22; and Chapter 46, verse 9. And since the Word of God says He cannot lie, then it’s true, if you’re a Christian.

Sure, Bush can be forgiven. Of course, he’ll need to consider what he did and his motivation for doing it.

But those printed words traveling speedily around the world, especially Islamic countries, will haunt not just America, but Israel and the rest of the non-Islamic—especially, Christian—world for a long time.

Thanks be to God, that’s nothing that He, the Almighty—the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob—can’t handle. But it could make the sledding a tad rougher for some of us earthly mortals.

As for the president saying once again that Islam is “a religion of peace”? That continues to empower the Islamofascist terrorists.

For him to continue to spout that deceitful theological ignorance and political propaganda, something he’s done since 9/11—especially to an Arab Muslim newspaper—makes the president at least either a dupe or one of the biggest unpaid propaganda mouthpieces the Islamofascists have, or both.

If he were less politician and perhaps a real believer in Christ, he would never have uttered what he did to Al Arabiya, either about God or Islam.

That, too, though, is something the Lord Jehovah can handle. But, again, Bush only makes it tougher, more potentially violent for us mortals when he speaks with spiritual ignorance and deception.

These days, to stand one’s spiritual ground, particularly if you’re a Christian in a post-if-not-anti-Christian America and the anti-Christian world, it takes courage, it takes commitment and it takes clarity—and knowledge.

Sadly, the president seems to have exhibited none of these recently, when he had to opportunity to stand for the one he’s called Savior. Perhaps he hasn’t figured out how to “render, therefore, unto Caesar the things which are Caesar’s, and unto God the things that are God’s.” Or that it’s impossible for someone to serve two masters, say politics and God?

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"Madden" on Letterman

This is a segment with that great football analyst, John Madden, on the Letterman show. You will really want to watch this one all the way through.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Reconsidering the Death Penalty

There is a logical sort of justice when someone who has taken an innocent life, raped a woman, or committed some horribly violent crime, dies for his crimes against society. It is not cruel and unusual punishment for a society to determine that the price for horrible wrongs is the death of the perpetrator, and considering what the perpetrator has done, no punishment is cruel and unusual, for the criminal has redefined “cruel and unusual” through his actions. Furthermore, the arguments that execution is barbaric, or that “we are better than that,” are unpersuasive when dealing with the violent scum who kill, rape and brutalize.

However, while I firmly believe the foregoing, and while I am a supporter of the death penalty, the proposition that under certain conditions living is worse than dying has merit, depending upon the conditions. As with so many dilemmas, the devil is in the details.

We have to first acknowledge that the primary purpose for fining, incarcerating and executing criminals is to punish them for their crimes. Without the specter of punishment, there is no deterrent for doing wrong. To the extent that criminals can be rehabilitated, rehabilitation takes a back seat to punishment.

Therefore, in exchange for true punishment for the worst offenses, as I define it, or as I deem acceptable, I am willing to substitute life in prison at hard labor for the death penalty.

Life at hard labor means that offenders get simple, solitary living conditions, including a small, sparsely appointed cell that does not have a TV, radio, etc. They get three very basic meals a day in their cell. They do not get access to a law library, a gymnasium, rec room, conjugal visits, basketball games or other opportunities to interact with other prisoners, except when working. They work a strenuous 10-to-12-hour day. If they wish they were dead, the punishment has worked. Keeping these degenerates alive at public expense must involve as little expense, and as much discomfort as possible.

There you have it, folks: the JS formula for punishment to replace the death penalty.

Monday, October 08, 2007

Obama in the No Pin Zone

Barack Obama says that he used to wear an American flag pin prior to 9-11, and shortly thereafter, but now doesn’t wear it because it has become a substitute for "true patriotism."

Let’s see if I have this right: He wore the pin as a symbol of his patriotism, but following the worst attack against our nation’s homeland, it no longer is a true symbol of patriotism. The reason, he said, is that he saw “people wearing a lapel pin and not acting very patriotic."

He’s right, of course, that wearing a pin doesn’t make a person a patriot, but why would the fact that some people who wear the flag don’t act patriotic make Sen. Obama stop wearing his pin? Some people act badly and wear pants: Would he stop wearing pants? See, that’s the fallacy of his argument. And you know, there are quite a few people who wear the pin that do act patriotic.

So, there’s another reason for Mr. Obama no longer wearing his flag pin.

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Sunday, October 07, 2007

Return of the Buffalo

My friend Buffalo of "Buffalo’s Path" went on sabbatical a while back, much to the dismay of his readers.

Today I received notice that Buffalo has begun a new blog, "Buffalo’s Ruminations."

Stop by to see what Buff has to and say hello.

Saturday, October 06, 2007

To Tidewater

A friend of Diane’s was getting married in Newport News, Va. this weekend, so off we went to visit Tidewater.

The trip down was anything but uneventful. First, there was a navigation error by yours truly, but we won’t talk about that. The most notable difficulties came later. On the way between Christiansburg and Roanoke we encountered an electronic message center along I-81 telling us that there was an accident at mile marker 130, about 15 minutes ahead. We had just talked to some friends who lived nearby about a place to eat they’d mentioned a while back, and they called us back to tell us about that accident, and another one farther down the road that we didn’t know about. Both had the same message: left lane closed.

As we got to MM (Mile Marker) 124.6 the traffic slowed to a crawl, and everyone (nearly) moved to the right lane. Traffic continued to crawl, though it never really completely stopped, for a few miles, and then, as we rounded a curve at MM128.8, things just magically opened up, and traffic began speeding up to highway speeds. As we passed MM130 and into MM131, we noted that nowhere was there any sign of an accident: no emergency vehicles, no skid marks, no broken glass … nothing.

Very weird.

So, on we went, and eventually we encountered the traffic backup from the MM 146 accident … at MM 134.3. This one was somewhat less painful, as the average speed of traffic was 20-45 mph most of the time, although it lasted longer, over a greater distance. One thing I have noticed in situations like this, when traffic has been advised to merge to one lane, and some nabobs decide to push that to the last possible moment, is that truckers will line up two abreast, forcing traffic to do what is advised, merge into one lane. There was a Fed Ex truck about a quarter mile behind us that had positioned itself in the left lane, blocking that lane to the opportunistic drivers who might think they could gain ground in the left lane. During one of my periodic checks in the side mirror I noticed that the Fed Ex truck was coming on fast in the left lane, and realized that something was going on. Truckers have their own communication system, you know, and I judged that this driver knew more than I did about what was happening ahead, so I moved into the left lane at the earliest opportunity, and followed along. Sure enough, not far down the road, things opened up, and traffic sped up to highway speeds fairly quickly. As we passed MM146 and 147, I couldn’t help but notice that there were, again, no signs of an accident.

It appears that all of us on I-81 were slowed down by 40 to 60 minutes for these two mysterious events, and it appears that there were no wrecks that caused the slow-downs. Or, there were accidents earlier in the day, and for whatever reason it took several hours for the impact to resolve.

Very weird.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

"Phony" Soldiers

The adolescent controversy surrounding talk show host Rush Limbaugh has crossed the line from merely ridiculous to utterly preposterous, absurd, bizarre and idiotic. Think what you will of Mr. Limbaugh, his opinions, and his style, no sensible person can show that he has been anything but strongly supportive of our military personnel. Anyone who thinks otherwise simply doesn’t know what they are talking about. Yet, a couple of words, taken completely out of context, have fueled a firestorm of criticism of the conservative host.

What is far more important in this pathetic episode is whether the Limbaugh critics such as Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid—who has more important things he should be doing—or Senator Tom Harkin—who appeared in his Senate floor denunciation of Limbaugh to be incapable of knowing where he was—really believe that Limbaugh called soldiers who have been to Iraq and who disagree with the Iraq war “phony soldiers,” or not.

Here is the transcript: You be the judge.

RUSH: … Another Mike. This one in Olympia, Washington. Welcome to the EIB Network. Hello.

CALLER: Hi, Rush. Thanks for taking my call.

RUSH: You bet.

CALLER: I have a retort to Mike in Chicago, because I am serving in the American military, in the Army. I've been serving for 14 years, very proudly.

RUSH: Thank you, sir.

CALLER: I'm one of the few that joined the Army to serve my country, I'm proud to say, not for the money or anything like that. What I would like to retort to is that, what these people don't understand, is if we pull out of Iraq right now, which is not possible because of all the stuff that's over there, it would take us at least a year to pull everything back out of Iraq, then Iraq itself would collapse and we'd have to go right back over there within a year or so.

RUSH: There's a lot more than that that they don't understand. The next guy that calls here I'm going to ask them, "What is the imperative of pulling out? What's in it for the United States to pull out?" I don't think they have an answer for that other than, "When's he going to bring the troops home? Keep the troops safe," whatever.


RUSH: It's not possible intellectually to follow these people.

CALLER: No, it's not. And what's really funny is they never talk to real soldiers. They pull these soldiers that come up out of the blue and spout to the media.

RUSH: The phony soldiers.

CALLER: Phony soldiers. If you talk to any real soldier and they're proud to serve, they want to be over in Iraq, they understand their sacrifice and they're willing to sacrifice for the country.

RUSH: They joined to be in Iraq.

CALLER: A lot of people.

RUSH: You know where you're going these days, the last four years, if you sign up. The odds are you're going there or Afghanistan, or somewhere.

CALLER: Exactly, sir.

The term “phony soldiers” uttered by Limbaugh clearly referred to those that “come up out of the blue,” which to any thinking person does not refer to actual present or former active duty military personnel, but to people who pretend to have been in the military, or in Iraq.

If you don’t believe that, then consider how Limbaugh followed this call.

“Here is a Morning Update that we did recently, talking about fake soldiers. This is a story of who the left props up as heroes. They have their celebrities and one of them was Army Ranger Jesse Macbeth. Now, he was a ‘corporal.’ I say in quotes. Twenty-three years old. What made Jesse Macbeth a hero to the anti-war crowd wasn't his Purple Heart; it wasn't his being affiliated with post-traumatic stress disorder from tours in Afghanistan and Iraq. No. What made Jesse Macbeth, Army Ranger, a hero to the left was his courage, in their view, off the battlefield, without regard to consequences. He told the world the abuses he had witnessed in Iraq, American soldiers killing unarmed civilians, hundreds of men, women, even children. In one gruesome account, translated into Arabic and spread widely across the Internet, Army Ranger Jesse Macbeth describes the horrors this way: ‘We would burn their bodies. We would hang their bodies from the rafters in the mosque.’

“Now, recently, Jesse Macbeth, poster boy for the anti-war left, had his day in court. And you know what? He was sentenced to five months in jail and three years probation for falsifying a Department of Veterans Affairs claim and his Army discharge record. He was in the Army. Jesse Macbeth was in the Army, folks, briefly. Forty-four days before he washed out of boot camp. Jesse Macbeth isn't an Army Ranger, never was. He isn't a corporal, never was. He never won the Purple Heart, and he was never in combat to witness the horrors he claimed to have seen. You probably haven't even heard about this. And, if you have, you haven't heard much about it. This doesn't fit the narrative and the template in the Drive-By Media and the Democrat Party as to who is a genuine war hero. Don't look for any retractions, by the way. Not from the anti-war left, the anti-military Drive-By Media, or the Arabic websites that spread Jesse Macbeth's lies about our troops, because the truth for the left is fiction that serves their purpose. They have to lie about such atrocities because they can't find any that fit the template of the way they see the US military. In other words, for the American anti-war left, the greatest inconvenience they face is the truth."

It is easy to take an isolated comment by someone—anyone—and misuse it, misconstrue it, to manufacture some false reality. It doesn’t take any special talent or insight to be a political cheap-shot artist like Media Matters, Harry Reid or Tom Harkin. What it does require, however, is a willingness to indulge in dishonesty and tawdry political hay-making, and that is exactly what has happened here. It is ludicrous to assert that Limbaugh actually thinks military personnel critical of the war are “phony soldiers,” given his historical support for our military personnel. And those that want to try to convince you that he did are unworthy of your trust.

He didn’t mean that and, more to the point, he didn’t say that. The term “phony soldiers” clearly describes real phonies like Jesse Macbeth.

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Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Blackwater: A Black Eye?

Blackwater, one of a host of civilian security firms operating in Iraq, is currently the focus of much criticism and a Congressional investigation for improper behavior, specifically for indiscriminately shooting Iraqi citizens.

Unfortunately, this is not a discussion of facts; it is a discussion of emotion, colored by political partisanship. It serves the Democrat’s purposes to use any negative anecdote—true or not—about Blackwater’s performance, and it serves the Republican’s purposes to use positive anecdotes. Most likely, it will be difficult to tell where the truth is. No earth-shattering analysis there.

A very important factor to remember in situations like this one is not to jump to conclusions until all the facts are known.

Today on Fox News’ XM Channel 168’s “Brian and the Judge” program did not help to clear the air. If you aren’t familiar with this program, it features Brian Kilmeade from FNC’s “Fox and Friends” morning show, and Judge Andrew Napolitano, Fox’s Senior Judicial Analyst. Napolitano is brilliant, his two books excellent looks into constitutional law, and Kilmeade is much savvier than you might think, given his morning show hi-jinks. And, yes, “Brian and the Judge” is fairly conservative in its orientation, although Napolitano holds the line on strict interpretation on what I will term “government propriety.”

Today’s program featured a block with retired U.S. Army Lt. Col. Ralph Peters, who has nothing good to say about civilian security personnel in Iraq, let alone Blackwater, whose security agents he described as “thugs” and worse, who shoot first and ask questions later. There’s no point, however, in spending time on the obvious issue of whether shooting first and asking questions later is acceptable, because not everyone agrees with Col. Peters. Almost immediately after the colonel wrapped up his segment a caller who had served in Iraq gave a nearly opposite account of the civilian security operating in Iraq, saying that the security people he had come in contact with had done an honorable and competent job of protecting the State Department officials whose safety was their charge. He further commented that the military is not able to provide the security for the State Department personnel, requiring outsourced security for them. It is also relevant to note that 30 Blackwater staff have been killed while working to defend US diplomats, but that none of its clients had died while in its protection.

A recent report from the State Department stated that in 2007 Blackwater conducted 1,873 security details for diplomatic visits to the red zone, areas outside the Green Zone in Iraq, and there have been only 56 incidences in which weapons were discharged, or less than 3 percent of all movements.

I am left to decide—we are left to decide—whether to believe Col. Peters, whom I respect, or a soldier who has seen up close the behavior of civilian security personnel, or the State Department. It’s a tough decision. The soldier posited that Col. Peters has an axe to grind against Blackwater and the other civilian security companies because of the fact that most of those civilians are former military guys who make multiples of what active duty military guys and gals make. My respect for Col. Peters causes me to doubt that he would have such petty feelings. On the other hand, my regard for our active military guys makes me trust this soldier’s account. And, I feel confident that the U.S. would not tolerate cowboy behavior such as has been alleged by Blackwater’s and the administration’s critics. I just believe that the U.S. is the “good guys” in this conflict.

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