Monday, October 24, 2011

The Return of an Unlikely Hero

[recently posted at http://webtednews.com]

Who is Gilad Shalit - and why do we care ?

Gilad was a 19 year old Israeli tank crew member who was kidnapped by Palestinians from Israeli territory five years ago. Several of his comrades were killed in the attack. Yesterday at the age of 25, looking gaunt and malnourished Gilad was released to his family and his nation.

I am moved by the resurrection of this unlikely hero and concerned for the price Israel paid to obtain his release.

Slightly more than 1,000 Palestinian prisoners were agreed to be released by Israel to win the release of this single Israeli soldier. 477 of the Palestinians have been released with the balance to be released shortly. Because these Palestinians included terrorists and combatants, Israel insisted on their being released into Gaza where security is tighter than other Palestinian areas.

Gilad was brought by helicopter to an Israeli military base to be greeted by his father, senior military officers and Prime Minister Netanyahu. News reports said that Gilad had fainted on the aircraft but was revived prior to arrival. He showed signs of malnutrition and sunlight deprivation. Dressed in military uniform again, he saluted the Prime Minister as he walked from the military helicopter.

He had been filmed for an Egyptian television interview prior to his release to Israeli officials which showed his difficult medical condition. The Israelis protested the interview prior to his being examined by Israeli physicians or receiving treatment or food as inhumane and bordering on torture.

All in all, it appears that the prisoner exchange will have little positive impact. Families of victims of the terrorists and soldiers that were released to obtain Gilad’s release expressed concern over how many more may die at the hands of those released. But for Gilad Shalit, unlikely hero of his nation, one would hope that his suffering in five years of captivity is ended.

Welcome home, Son of Israel.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

2012 Campaign Season

The new campaign cycle has begun. Driven mostly by national TV debates so far there has been consolidation and elimination of candidates on the Republican side. The RNC (Republican National Committee) has set up a schedule for the early debates for early 2012 that relies on retail politics in smaller states building to the larger state primaries. (a plan promptly violated by Florida) Many of the candidates on offer are coming into our living rooms on network and cable company debates and spending more time in our homes than our children.

For now my political sites are returning to activity and I look forward to the coming campaigns to determine the future direction of our country,

Occupy This.

The "Occupy this and that" protest gatherings are capturing some of the news cycle these days. I am not sure I understand why. In the early days of the Occupy Wall Street gatherings there seemed to be a collection of younger dissenters who had no coherent message or objectives - but seemed to just think being there was message enough (reminds me of a Peter Sellers movie).

Then the union thugs (is that insensitive?) arrived seeking more confrontation but still without an admitted agenda. Then the protests seem to spring up around the country like flowers in the spring. Nancy Polosi seemed to think they were spontaneous - not my impression at all.

Now, after several weeks, the news reports are saying that the groups are seeking a message. Well, maybe its about time - or maybe the political opportunists are finally going to co-opt the gatherings to suit their own agenda.

I support the First Amendment - although I do not approve of subordinating private property rights. The New York gatherings did not take place on public property. Perhaps these groups will find their voice - perhaps not. But the comparison of these protestors to the TEA party members is absurd and defamatory in my view. We have a major election coming up and I could use an objective and attentive news media that brings intelligent and analytical reporting of what is really going on to their readers, viewers or listeners. Not so much, so far.

I enjoy the articles of Larry Thornberry of Tampa, writing for the American Spectator. Larry is a friend and has long given me permission to present his articles in my blogs. Larry is spot on, as usual, in this week’s post "Rebels without a Clue", a portion of which is quoted below. He speaks of some of the participants seen on the news from New York and his observations at an Occupy Tampa event recently.

Some with the show, in New York and elsewhere, are just left-over hippies who missed the last chopper out of the sixties and will show up at any demonstration about anything out of nostalgia and for something to do. To the tie-dyed, peace and love, or at least nattering on about peace and love, never go out of style, even for those now on blood pressure meds and with prostates the size of tangerines.

Others are just cutting classes at colleges their parents have written really large checks to, protesting being ever so much more fun than listening to dull lectures or writing term papers. (Actually learning something can be such a drag.) Observers of a certain age can’t help but be reminded of cartoonist Al Capp’s sixties burlesque of the then rampant youth movement with his group: Students Wildly Indignant About Nearly Everything, or S.W.I.N.E. Who knew then that the movement would be permanent?

Not all the demonstrators are lazy "students" or superannuated flower children. Some are union members with agendas. Others, less benign, are various kinds of Marxist burnouts looking for a little political theater. There are the usual enviro-nutters and even some self-styled anarchists. A few, though you really have to seek these out to find them, are reasonable adults who see things going poorly for themselves and the country and think holding up signs advertising their fears, frustrations, and resentments will make things better.

I located a few of these Saturday morning when I visited Lykes Gaslight Square in downtown Tampa. But most of the hundred and change idling in the one square-block park were clearly registered at some local college, where they’re majoring in screwing off. T-shirts carried the names of local colleges or unions or environmental groups, as well as various left-wing sentiments and vague, harrumphing banalities: "greed kills," "We are the 99 percent" (of what, they don’t say), "Wake up, stand up," etc.

What the shirts didn’t treat, the amateurishly made signs picked up: "greed has taken over," "justice delayed is justice denied" (duh), "save Mother Earth from Father Greed," "the government should be afraid of the people" (though surely not this lot -- anyone afraid of this bunch should sleep with a night light), "mainstream media irrelevant" (at least they got something right), "love, not foreclose on, thy neighbor," "I want a declaration of interdependence," "stop corporate obesity," and on in this tiresome vein.

The word that cropped up most often was greed, which this lot has just discovered. They seem to identify 2011 as the beginning of greed, in the manner a previous generation of hippies traced the beginning of sex to 1963.

You may read Larry’s article in its entirety <Here>

My Source: http://spectator.org/archives/2011/10/17/rebels-without-a-clue

Sunday, October 31, 2010

The Decision Time is Now

In  48 hours election day polling places will open and the nation will complete the 2010 election cycle with what can only be an historic election day.

There are serious choices to be made and the distinctions between the major party positions could not be more clear.  Do we return to the principles that made America exceptional and created the most prosperous and unique nation in the history of the planet or do we continue down the road to class warfare and the nanny state nation of takers and entitlements. 

My American experience is clearly different than that of Community Organizer in Chief Obama.  President Obama has dedicated his life to providing government backed solutions to serious social problems and defending the rights of those who could not defend themselves.  I get that and I respect his service.  But the President has also seen another side of America and he has, in my view, learned nothing from it.  He has used his intellect and his education to raise himself up and reach the highest positions of political power in our society.  The opportunities that he has had should be made available to anyone in our society who is intellectually up to the training and the challenges.  And the god given natural rights of life, liberty and pursuit of happiness should be available to all Americans.

Mr Obama has perverted the concepts of natural rights and equal opportunity to become successful into a program of equal outcomes guaranteed by entitlements and redistribution of wealth.  I am sorry, Mr President.  That is communism and it is not consistent with my view of America.  In my view, one does not kill the goose that lays the golden eggs if one wants to live on the eggs in the future.  But the President and the Congressional leadership have taken us down a path of unsustainable spending and insurmountable debt that will burden generations to come.  The Liberals have held majorities in both House and Senate for four years and the responsibilities  for our situation are no longer rationally blamed on someone else.

I do not suggest that there is not enough blame to go around to Republicans as well as Democrats.  Government in this country has lost its way and severe changes need to be made. 

But we have seen a reaction from the public this year that makes me proud of America and gives me hope that we can return to greatness.  The news media has described the TEA party participants in any number of unflattering ways over the past year.  But, as usual, they miss the point.  In most, if not all, of the countries of the world, the candidates for positions of power are picked by the existing elite party structure.  The party bosses pick the candidates.  It is a very restrictive system that prevents outside ideas from finding a voice in the political process.

In America we have a system that divides power and provides checks and balances between the levels and centers of power.  We are provided with the tools to limit government –  even if we have not used them effectively.  One of the hallmark features of our system is the right of the people to select our candidates.  We don't just get to vote on election day –  we get to pick the candidates who will be running.  I do not know of another country whose people have this power. 

Almost two years ago, Florida Senator Mel Martinez decided to resign his position in the Senate.  This left an open Senate seat up for grabs.  Popular Florida Governor Charlie Crist was quick to announce his candidacy and the national and state Republican leaders, eager to keep the Senate seat in the “R” column were quick to endorse Crist.  But an Hispanic American from Miami, known only to followers of state politics had also announced his candidacy for the Senate seat.  Marco Rubio challenged the establishment view and boldly stated that Mr Crist was a very moderate Republican (or worse) and  that Florida needed to be represented in the Senate by a real conservative voice.  Rubio had served eight years in the Florida House in Tallahassee and had risen to the position of Speaker of the Florida House.  But his name recognition around the state was limited as he had never run in an election outside of his local House district in North Miami.

Marco Rubio waged a relentless campaign of good old retail politics.  He campaigned all around the state speaking at local events winning over local county Republicans (individuals and organizations) with his charm and conservative positions.  He is bright and articulate and he can work a crowd better than anyone I have seen in many years. 

Marco is of interest to me because I live in Florida and want him to represent me in the US Senate.  But he is just one of a large number of candidates around the country that have risen up in this election cycle to challenge the establishment leaders of both parties.  These candidates and the people that support them are not kooks and crazies –  they are the voice of the People.  And they have demanded that the powers that be listen to them and their concerns.  What other country could embrace such an expression of freedom.

So this Tuesday, be sure to vote (if you have not already taken advantage of early or absentee voting) and make sure that your friends and family have voted.  In my view, we have problems that need new solutions.  But whichever point of view you support –  the time to express your opinion and to be part of the decision is NOW.

I close with a preview of the final ad which will run tonight and tomorrow in Florida markets for Marco Rubio.  The clip is two minutes –  and worth your time to hear - wherever you live.

My Source: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hbaP0Jzd6QA&feature=player_embedded

 

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

More to the Story of Mario Rubio

I want to return to the subject of Marco Rubio and his family because the story carries such an important message for all of us at this time in our history.

My regular readers will recognize the name of author Larry Thornberry of Tampa.  I have had the pleasure of knowing Larry for more years than either of us will admit.  Among other literary pursuits, Larry is a regular contributor to The American Spectator magazine.  He provides me with his articles with kind permission for me to publish them in my blogs.  I enjoy his knowledge, his opinions and his writing style.  So when he covers and event or topic that interests me, I publish his work in whichever of my blogs I may feel to be appropriate. 

Larry introduced me to Marco Rubio, the candidate for US Senate when there was no candidacy or campaign.  Marco, bright, young and articulate, was the former Speaker of the Florida House but had never campaigned for state-wide office.  Marco had just announced he was running for US Senate but the popular Florida Governor announced for the same office and all the political air seemed to be sucked out of the room as the Florida Republican hierarchy and Washington power elites fell all over themselves to celebrate Governor Crist as the man most likely to keep the Senate seat of retiring Mel Martinez in the “R” column. 

That was a long time ago.  With limited resources and a brave and dedicated display of personal charisma, Conservative principles, endless travel and more than a year of retail politics, Marco Rubio embarrassed the Governor so badly that Crist fled the Republican Party and is an independent candidate now.  Marco won the nomination of his party in the August 24 primary for the November 2 general election.  But his electoral elation was tempered when his father's health took a turn for the worse about ten days ago. 

I have written in numerous occasions here and elsewhere that I am very impressed with Marco Rubio as a husband, father and citizen as well as a political leader and candidate for high office.  His family always was a part of his story and his public speeches.  But Mario Rubio, father of Marco passed away last Saturday.  I wrote a brief piece on Saturday to give recognition to Mr Mario Rubio and Oria, his wife of 61 years.  Mario Rubio fled from Cuba to bring his family to America and to give them the opportunities that could be found here.  I was not personally acquainted with Mr Rubio - but I can only imagine the pride he and his wife have felt in the accomplishments of their four children.  

This is the sort of immigration story I want to read about.  The family that comes to this country legally and through hard work and dedication they made their world better for their children.  And in the process they made our world better too.  

Marco's family experience also taught him the likely result of a move toward a socialist government here in America.  His family lived through the breakdown of society in Cuba before he was born.  He knows that we must remain vigilant in America to prevent our fate from following the path of Cuba.   His is a voice that I want to hear in the United States Senate.

Larry Thornberry has written his requiem for Mario Rubio which I would like to share with you. 

My Source: http://spectator.org/archives/2010/09/07/mario-rubio-rip

Mario Rubio, RIP

Not too many people outside of Miami knew the late Mario Rubio. There's no statue of him in Washington, not even in Miami. There's no college building, courthouse, or highway named after him. Perhaps there should be. He did some pretty great things under more adverse circumstances than most Americans can even imagine.

Rubio died Saturday at Baptist Hospital in Miami at age 83 after what many people, but almost certainly not Mario himself, would have considered a hard life. Mario went to work at an age when others are going to elementary school. He worked into his late seventies, mostly as a bartender (a most under-appreciated vocation).

Until age 32 Rubio worked in his native Cuba. But after El Jefe Maximo came down out of the mountains, stole Mario's country, and turned it into a leftist prison, Mario managed to get his family to the United States, one of his great enduring gifts to them. He worked at hard jobs that don't pay much so that his children -- he had four with his wife of 61 years, Orio -- could have better.

Well, they have had better. One of those children, Marco, born after the Rubios had made it to America, has achieved a successful career as a lawyer and a politician (managing the latter without having to wear fatigues and carry an automatic weapon). Marco Rubio, former Speaker of the Florida House, is Florida's Republican nominee for a U.S. Senate seat. He praised his father in this way:

My father knew hard work and struggle from very early in his life. His mother died when he was only nine. The day after his mother was buried he went to work with his father and did not stop working until he was 78 years old.

He was by far the most unselfish person I have ever known, always focused on others, and never on his own well-being. He was especially determined to provide his children with opportunities he himself never had.

My dad worked as a street vendor, security guard, apartment building manager, and crossing guard. But for most of his life he was a bartender, and by all accounts a great one. But the greatest success came from the two most important jobs he ever had: husband and father.

He was very proud of my public service. And over the last 18 months he became an expert channel surfer, constantly searching for my next television interview.

I was blessed to be raised by a world-class father. And I thank God for allowing my father to live long and healthy enough to see that the sacrifices he made for us were not in vain.

The Rubio campaign will pause now, as the Rubio family deals with matters of more elemental importance than politics. But it won't pause long. There will be an election in less than two months -- though the heavens fall. And Marco Rubio has based his conservative campaign on protecting those things about America that allow people like his father to work miracles for their families.

Mario Rubio saw left-wing bullies steal his country. And just because the current band of left-wingers in power in America don't wear fatigues and carry automatic weapons (and their own nannies won't allow them to smoke cigars), there are still plenty of parallels that Marco Rubio has drawn attention to on the campaign trail. Along with Mario Rubio's own personal qualities, it was America's long-established traditions of limited government, personal freedom, and reliance on capitalism that allowed Mario to be the success he was, and to help lift his children even higher. These are traditions under assault today.

Happily, there are lots of Mario Rubios in America, some with last names that end in a vowel, others not. You've got your Smith, Washington, Koslowski, Feldman, Esposito, Chin, Hostetler, Nguyen, Many Goats, et al. They, not the political elites that strive to boss them around and take what they've earned, are what makes America the great and exceptional place it has always been, and could remain if we have the wisdom and strength to keep it that way. It's right that we pay tribute to them at a sad time for the Rubio family.

RIP Mario Rubio.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

July 4th, 2010

I try to post an appropriate message for patriotic holidays.  But the repeated words of the Gettysburg Address are just not getting it.  Perhaps the written word does not carry the impact it used to –  or perhaps we read without understanding.  So this July 4th  message will be in the form of a musical video called Freedom Never Cries.  I posted this video in ActiveRain for Joly 4th  in 2008 –  but the message is becoming more and more important.

I wish you all a safe and happy 4th  of July.  Please remember what we are celebrating and the continuing sacrifices still being made by our military forces around the world and their families.

My Source: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HzmmQ74LzjU

The artist is John Ondrasik and the band is Five for Fighting.  I have previously posted the backstory <here>

 

Whose Side are these Guys On Anyway

I have written in these pages that I disagree with the Liberal Agenda of the Congressional Leadership and the President and his administration.  I have said that not only do I disagree with President Obama, I have trouble even understanding his actions.  The lessons of history and current events in Europe are so clear to me that I cannot connect the dots of recent government actions and make any sense of it all. 

The Southern border of our country is so open that any illegal alien, terrorist or drug dealer merely has to walk into my country and commit whatever crimes they wish –  and my government wants to sue the State of Arizona for trying to deal with the massive problems and economic impacts they are experiencing.

The Gulf States are facing ecological and economic ruin in the face of massive pollution from the blow out of the Deepwater Horizon oil well and my government is harassing the states and enterprises that are trying to stop the oil with constant bureaucratic roadblocks, permit issues and life jacket inspections.  It would be comic if it were not so foolish and incompetent.

And now, my government is convening a deportation hearing before an immigration Judge in San Diego to deport Mosab Hassan Yousef from the United States.  Yousef is the son of the founding leader of Hamas who risked his life to infiltrate Hamas and spy for the Israeli Intelligence Services.  He is credited with providing information which prevented many Hamas terror attacks, saving  countless Israeli  and Palestinian lives.  He would face certain death if returned to the Middle East –  but that is where my government wants to send him.

Yousef has told his story publicly in the book “Son of Hamas” in which he describes the story of his actions at the direction of his handlers with Israeli Intelligence and speaks frankly about his conversion from Islam to Christianity and his world view which is important and a must read for all Americans.  Yousef tells his story of the unthinkable risks and dangers that he accepted in his personal crusade to stop the violence that is tearing his world (and ours) apart.  The man should be seen as a hero and yet my government wants to deport him and send him to his death for politics.  Please read Cal Thomas' article, “Deporting the Wrong Man” in the current Townhall.com site.

In my life as a political observer and activist I have never seen such a radical administration in power in the United States.  I have never seen so many deliberate actions taken by my government that I believe are against the interest of my Country and all of its citizens.  We still address these disagreements with elections here.  I can only hope that my fellow citizens will speak with one clear voice in the primary elections and the general election in November.  There has been no political deception here.  President Obama has been open and honest about his agenda and he acts with the strength of his convictions.  But I do not share his vision of America and he, apparently does not share mine.  There are clear choices for all of us to carefully consider. 

We have neglected the education of our young citizens to the point that too many of them do not even understand the capitalistic system that created the powerful economic engine that made the United States economy and culture the envy of the world.  I fear that too many of them now look at the entitlement economy of the nanny state and think that this is a good thing.  But these policies will not lead to the capital investment, job creation or innovation that made America great.  They will lead to debt and despair and the collapse of a once great Country –  probably in my lifetime –  certainly in most of yours. 

I am only one voice –  but you will hear me raising my voice loud and long between now and November.  There is no room for anybody on the sidelines this year.  We all must choose what kind of future we want in America.  We must all choose and vote.  Register to vote and show up on election day. I hope that you will follow me to try and restore the America that I grew up in if that is your choice.  But this year, make your choice known by your vote.  It has never been more important.

 

 

 

Friday, June 25, 2010

John Dennis - California 8th Congressional District

John Dennis is the Republican Candidate for Congress in the 8th  Congressional District of California.  While he doesn't have a lot of name recognition in his first run for elective office, his opponent is well known –  Nancy Pelosi, Speaker of the House, Congresswoman from San Francisco.

John describes himself as an urban Republican.  He is a fiscal conservative, but is a bit left leaning on social issues compared to some of my candidates in Florida –  but he is running in San Francisco.

John was interviewed by Dennis Miller on his radio program recently <link here to listen>.  John is focused on local issues of interest to his audience in San Francisco.  He is fiercely against the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. He supports the Campaign for Liberty –  an organization created by Congressman Ron Paul (Dr Paul has endorsed John in his Congressional Race). 

It is interesting to hear Dennis giving sincere campaign advice to John –  who seems to be startled by Dennis' suggestions.  Dennis feels, as I do, that Nancy Pelosi is not just a local politician –  she is a bad human being (a Karma compromiser in Dennis' words).  I hope John listens and expands his point of view.

John Dennis is also interviewed in a video clip from PJTV <link here to watch>

It is my view that Speaker Pelosi and Majority Leader Reid are damaging my country with their legislative agenda and their large majorities in Congress.  I hope all my readers and friends in California will take a look at John Dennis who is in an uphill fight against an entrenched political force in Speaker Pelosi.  Support him financially and politically in this important Congressional race –  even if you do not live in his 8th  District.  This is an important race for all of us in November. 

Go to JohnDennis2010.com and help John in an important cause.

 

 

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Florida Business Sees Sunshine

The Florida economy has been hit hard by the housing problems with taxes, foreclosures and high insurance rates.  The national recession, enhanced by ill-advised government policies, is suppressing the state economic picture further with poor economic performance and high unemployment. Now the environmental impact of the oil platform collapse and continuing discharge of petro-problems threatens Florida. But there are areas of economic activity that are bringing rays of sunshine to the dark picture.

The Lakeland Ledger reported June 8, 2010, on five such justifications for optimism.  <link here to TheLedger.com>

British import Harry Potter is working his magic in the Central Florida landscape with the June 18, 2010 opening of the Wizarding World of Harry Potter attraction at Orlando's Universal Studios.  The seven book Harry Potter series by J. K. Rowling is a world wide force with sales of more than 400 million books in 67 languages.  The highest grossing movie series in history and the tie-in merchandising bring the value of the Harry Potter brand to more than $15 billion since 1997 according to Wikipedia.  The final book is being released on film in two parts in an unconscionable effort to squeeze every last dollar, pound and pfennig out of the franchise.  Now the $400 million Universal Studios attraction opens in Orlando with a constant stream of jobs and tourist dollars into the foreseeable future. 

As the NASA shuttle program winds down, the next generation of space exploration may be carried on the shoulders of private companies such as Space Exploration Technologies, Inc (SpaceX).  Although based in California, SpaceX has already launched a test rocket from Florida's Cape Canaveral to demonstrate that they are a part of whatever is to come in the future of NASA and our efforts to put our footprints on the heavens.

In alternative energy programs near and dear to the President and likely to receive federal funding, solar programs abound in sunny Florida.  Divisions of Florida Power and Light (major utility in state) are aggressively building electric generation plants using solar technology (photovoltaic cells) in DeSoto County (near Sarasota) and Martin County (Includes Stuart).

Near and dear to me, as it is in my backyard, is the resuscitation of the failed Cypress Gardens attraction in Winter Haven in Central Florida under new ownership by LegoLand, a division of the Danish toy maker (Lego blocks).  LegoLand Florida will be the second theme park in the US for the brightly colored block company.  The first is located near San Diego.  With a strong corporate balance sheet behind the plan, this may be the best of the several attempts to restore the oldest theme park in Florida  dating back to 1936 to financial health.  The Ledger article estimates the contribution to the Central Florida economy in jobs and revenues at $450 million dollars annually –  which matches Polk County's not inconsiderable agricultural output. 

And finally, the Panhandle region of Florida has long offered their own special brand of Florida business and real estate with beautiful beaches, new development and a substantial retired military population.  As a part of the St Joe Company VentureCrossings Enterprise Centre development, the company donated 4,000 acres for the construction of a major airport facility to enhance the domestic and international access options in the Northwest Florida development near Panama City.  The new Northwest Beaches International Airport (ECM) opened last month offering new scheduled airline service with Southwest Airlines direct to Houston, Nashville, Orlando and Baltimore-Washington DC in addition to increased services by Delta Airlines to the area.  The opening of the new airport is the next step in more than a decade of planning and development for new business in the Panhandle.

So while the Florida economy, environmental disasters and governmental deficits dominate the doom and gloom media coverage, there are bright spots ahead and some basis for optimism about the future of the Sunshine state. 

It is frequently darkest before the dawn –  but the sun will rise on Florida again. 

 

 

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Memorial Day 2010

I turned the television on to an HBO movie today with which I was not familiar.  “Taking Chance”, with Kevin Bacon, is the story of a Marine officer (Bacon) who volunteers to serve as an escort for the body of a fallen Marine PFC from Dover Air Force Base to the home town of the Marine in Wyoming. 

It is the true story of Marine LTC Michael Strobl (who wrote the original story and the screenplay for the 2009 movie) and his experience as an escort for the remains of Marine PFC Chance Phelps who died in Iraq in 2004.  The story describes the procedures used by the military to return their fallen heroes to their families and the unexpected interactions that LTC Strobl has with random individuals on the trip.  The story is sensitive and moving as all who come in contact with the Colonel and his task interrupt their own paths to express respect and gratitude for the sacrifice and service of PFC Chance Phelps and the loss felt by his family, his friends and all of us who realize the high price of our liberty and freedom which is being paid on our behalf on a daily basis by people we never had the honor to know. 

The movie is unusual for Hollywood in that it takes no political position about the war but deals in a sensitive and honorable way with the contribution to our nation by the men and women who choose to serve in our armed forces and profoundly heartfelt emotion and dignity of the rituals used by the military to process and honor the remains of their dead.  The HBO website has trailer clips and interviews with folks associated with the film <link here>.  I recommend that you take the time to see the film (video available at Amazon) and experience a unique view of our military and the role they play in our society.

Those who know me or read my posts know that I conclude my Memorial Day or other appropriate patriotic observances with Abraham Lincoln's brief but immortal words we know as the Gettysburg Address. 

I wish you all a safe Memorial Day holiday and urge you all to remember the price paid by millions of military men and women and their families since the founding of this Nation and I ask that you all do your part in maintaining these United States of America in the current election cycle by actively supporting the candidates of your choice for election to public office.

Mr. Lincoln's words:

Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent, a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.

Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure. We are met on a great battle-field of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field, as a final resting place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this.

But, in a larger sense, we can not dedicate -- we can not consecrate -- we can not hallow -- this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us -- that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion -- that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain -- that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom -- and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.

 

 

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Plain Spoken Candidate in Alabama

This candidate is not from my state – but he leaves no doubt as to his positions.  Dale Peterson is a candidate for the Republican nomination for Agriculture Commissioner in Alabama. 

The following You-Tube clip in various forms has half a million viewers. (1:11 minutes)

My source: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jU7fhIO7DG0

 

 

 

The Tan Man Fades Away

The race to fill the US Senate seat previously held by Mel Martinez of Florida has provided some of the best political theater available in this election cycle. 

For those of you who may have been living under a rock for the past year, Senator Mel Martinez retired early creating an open Senate seat on offer in the Sunshine State.  Popular Governor Charlie Crist announced that he was a candidate for the seat.  The Republican hierarchy in the State rushed to endorse the Governor and the NRSC (National Republican Senatorial Committee) jumped on the Crist bandwagon before the echo of the Crist announcement had gone.  But there was a problem.  There was already a Republican Candidate in the race – former Speaker of the Florida House, Marco Rubio of Miami.  And Florida picks it’s candidate for the Senate race in an August primary election.  Many County Chairmen and members of the public (including me) were outraged at what we viewed as the inappropriate endorsement of a candidate for Senate when there were other viable candidates in the race and the attempt of the party structure to by-pass the public selection process in the rules.

Marco Rubio started with negligible state wide name recognition and poor polling against the Governor.  But in the last year with hard work, a limited budget and true grass roots organizing Rubio established more than a 20 point lead in the polls over Crist.  Marco has an electrifying campaign style.  He is attractive, young, articulate and conservative.  He tells a great family story of his beginnings as the son of Cuban immigrants who became educated and achieved the highest legislative office in the state as Speaker of the Florida House.  His record and his views resonated with the Conservative Florida voters who already had buyer’s remorse over the election of President Obama. Marco played a tough campaign game against Crist and his RINO (Republican in Name Only) policies and public support for Obama policies. 

This month, Crist  committed political suicide, in my view, by dropping out of the heated primary fight and announcing that he was leaving the Republican party to run for the Senate seat as an independent – assuring himself a place in the November general election without having to face Rubio in the August primary.  In effect, Crist is admitting that all of the accusations of flip-flops on issues and self-serving policies are true.  Crist’s ultimate flip-flop, dumping the Republican party while sitting as the elected Republican Governor with no more purpose than to save his political hide from an embarrassing loss in the primary election shows the Tan Man to be the worst kind of politician – who abandons his party to try to be a spoiler in the Senate race with the possible effect of electing a Democrat to the Senate from Florida (Kendrick Meek, Democrat Congressman from Miami is the front-runner for the Democrat nomination) while Crist and Rubio divide conservative and moderate votes that oppose Meek.

Crist’s first step as an independent candidate was to refuse to return campaign contributions he received as a Republican candidate.  He didn’t have much choice, but the move does not play well.  With the close of the legislative session at the end of April, Crist becomes a lame duck as Governor and has little ability to raise more money with no more clout as Governor. 

The race is not over.  Crist had collected more than seven million dollars for his campaign.  Can Rubio withstand an advertising war with a bitter candidate who no longer has anything to lose?  But Marco Rubio has become something of a rock star with conservatives nationally.  He receives national coverage and has access to unlimited fundraising now. The next few months should be interesting.  I do not believe Crist will be rewarded for his duplicity – but this is politics after all. 

You-Tube video clip from the Rubio camp on the subject of contributions from Republicans. 

My source: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gmYqWwS10Oo

 

 

Monday, May 17, 2010

To Be or Not To Be - Elena Kagan as Justice of the Supreme Court is the Question

Nothing brings out the ideologues like a nomination to fill a vacancy on the US Supreme Court. This is not surprising as the nomination of a Supreme Court Justice is possibly the most important function of the President – and a new Justice will typically sit on the bench for twenty to thirty years or more.  President Obama has had the opportunity to appoint two Associate Justices to the Court so far in his Presidency.  The current vacancy on the Court is the result of the decision of Justice Stevens, 90 years old, to retire from his seat on the Court which he has held since 1975. 

The President has nominated Elena Kagan to replace Justice Stevens.  Ms Kagan has spent her legal career in teaching and in politics.  She has been a teacher at the University of Chicago Law School and has taught and served as Dean of Harvard Law School.  She has served in the Clinton White House as Associate Counsel to the President and serves in the current administration as Solicitor General.  It should also be noted that she served as law clerk for Justice Thurgood Marshall.

Ms Kagan has been criticized for her lack of judicial experience but I note a number of prominent Supreme Court Justices in the last Century – including 3 Chief Justices – have come to the Supreme Court with no prior judicial experience (8 in my lifetime).  (Justice Louis Brandeis, Chief Justice Charles Evans Hughes, Justice Felix Frankfurter, Chief Justice Earl Warren, Justice Abe Fortas, Justice Hugo Black, Justice Lewis Powell, Justice Byron White and Chief Justice William Rehnquist)

Ms Kagan’s academic credentials seem excellent.  She is certainly a liberal – which would be expected for a nominee from this President, but she replaces a Justice who was aligned with the liberal wing of the Court on many issues – so the balance of the Court is not changed significantly… although the replacement of any Justice out of a group of nine will change the personal dynamics of the group.

An item of more concern to me would be the probability that her judicial philosophy might be more governed by her political ideology and her political agenda that has driven her actions for decades.  I hope for a judge or Justice of the Supreme Court to rule based upon law and precedent.  Although I admit to liking the definition of an activist judge as one who makes a decision that I do not like.

I do not like the fact that she banned military recruiters from Harvard Law School while she was Dean.  I like less that when the Supreme Court upheld the right of the government to withhold federal funds from a school that would not permit military recruiters to come on campus, she caved and allowed recruiters back on campus, while encouraging students to protest. 

I will watch the confirmation hearings for some demonstration of her abilities and qualifications – but her eventual confirmation is likely because of the Democrat majorities in the committee and in the full Senate.  I don’t expect the mainstream media to do their job as investigative journalists and there is little paper trail with a nominee that has not been an appellate judge.  I am not aware of anything at this time that will derail this nomination.

Former Speaker of the House, Newt Gingrich has been more vocal in his opposition to Ms Kagan.  Following You-Tube clip is from a recent appearance by Newt at the NRA convention. 

My source: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JOVGyhyWNTo&feature=player_embedded

 

Friday, May 14, 2010

The Devil is in the Details (and in the Copy Machines)

I have an interest in tech stuff, but I am occasionally blindsided by a story that I should have seen coming.  So to prevent my readers from having the same “YIKES” moment that I recently had while watching the news, may I relay this cautionary tale to you all. 

YOUR DIGITAL COPIER HAS A HARD DRIVE IN IT !!  And so does the digital copier at your doctor’s office, your attorney’s office, your police department, local government offices and, probably, Nancy Pelosi’s office (I would like to get a look at that one). 

Digital copiers are great technology that permit you to manipulate images, network your copier like a printer in your office and enhance the speed and efficiency of your office operation.  Both color and black and white models are an asset to every office in the country.  But it turns out that the technology uses a lot of computer hardware, which I knew, including a large hard drive (which I had not thought about) and that images processed by the copier are kept as files on the hard drive in the copier.  Really…

So what happens to the hard drive images when you trade in your copier to upgrade to a new unit ? Beginning to see the problem, are we ?

In thousands of cases, hundreds of thousands, probably, nothing is done to secure or destroy the files on the old copier and they are taken out of your office to make room for the new copier with years of sensitive, confidential documents still on the old drives – which can be recovered by even an unskilled hacker.  Those of us who routinely remove the hard drives from old computers that are being retired may smile without a thought about the stored data that can walk out of the building when we replace a copier. 

You have been warned.

You-Tube clip from CBS News tells the story:

My source: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iC38D5am7go

 

 

Monday, May 10, 2010

Singer, Activist Lena Horne Dies at 92

Brilliant singer and actress Lena Horne died Sunday at the age of 92. 

The entertainment world has lost a giant and the cause of racial equality and civil rights has lost a champion. 

A complicated lady, Lena Horne was one of the first Black talents to break the color barriers because of her voice and magnetic stage presence, but she continued to fight against the systems that deprived other Black actresses and singers access to opportunity.

A more complete bio and obit available <here> from AP and Yahoo News and <here> from Wikipedia.

Stage, screen and television has lost a memorable star.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Comment to How Stupid are Americans ?

It is always a pleasure to read political posts from Jon Zolsky of Daytona Beach.  It is something of a back handed compliment to Jon when I say I enjoy his world view because of his background as an immigrant from Soviet Siberia where physical strength and a strong work ethic were essential just to survive – much less bring your family to the distant shores of America.  So I must also say that I enjoy his intellect and his writing style.  Jon is consistently among the top five prolific contributors of the 19,000 Active Rain members in Florida.  He writes with equal ease about our political system, the economy and his clear mastery of our real estate  profession and his local markets.  It is a sometimes almost an embarrassment to see how Jon, as an adopted son of America, understands our Country better than those of us who have lived here all our lives.

Jon’s recent post How Stupid are Americans?  drew numerous thoughtful comments as well as my usual rant on this sort of subject.  Since I was at the bottom of the page and my comment was longer than his post (quantity is easy – I can’t do much about the quality at this point) Jon asked that I repeat my comment as a separate post.  Jon – your wish is granted – you get two more… and thank you for all you do.

There was a book of fiction in 1958 called "The Ugly American" which addressed our lack of finesse in foreign policy and our awkwardness even as travelers around the world. Not much has changed in the half century that has followed that book.  

Although we are a recent addition to the community of nations (234 years) we tend to be rather brash (like new money) and we tend to speak too often and too loud.  We arrive on some scene of the world stage with our flags flying and an absolute belief that we know all the answers about how some corner of the world we don't know much about should conduct their affairs.  We find time and time again that we do not have all the answers and that the problems and questions are much more complex than we understood on the way in.  

We look at our undeclared adventures in Korea, Viet Nam, Eastern Europe and Iraq and we find that, despite our best intentions, we have done a lot of damage for such a young nation.  

How stupid are we that we do not seem to learn from our mistakes.  For despite the costs in American lives and American dollars, the unwilling objects of our policies seem to pay a higher price even than we do.

And yet there seems to be something special and wonderful even in our mistakes.  We keep showing up when duty calls. We keep trying to make things better - even when we may be under-informed and without a carefully considered end game.  We are always the first to send aid to any country that has suffered a disaster.  None of the military adventures I mentioned were undertaken for conquest of a foreign land or acquisition of new lands for America.  As Colin Powell expressed the thought, "Where we have sent our armies we have only asked for enough land to bury our dead soldiers."  Vast areas would be speaking a different language and be less free if it were not for our interventions in the past century.

Our grand experiment of limited government which serves “We the People” is an inspiration to the world.  We may lose our way from time to time, but I believe we can return to the principles of our Founding Documents which have served us well.  We are a nation of immigrants.  We are not a single race or culture.  This diversity is our strength.  But we are Americans.  We are, and should be, justly proud of our accomplishments and our values as Americans. We must not sacrifice our Freedom and strangle our innovation and our economic power with overgrown government red tape and regulation.  

Pope John Paul realized in his early writings that capitalism was not sustainable without morality.  Therein lies the problem where we have lost our way in recent years.  We cannot be a great nation unless we can be a good one. We must refound America on the principles, ethics and morality that were so much a part of America for our first two hundred years.  Government intrusion and regulation are not the answers here.  More government is never the answer.

How stupid are we that we keep forgetting that.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Mike's List

I have enjoyed a tech newsletter for several years called Mike's List from Mike Elgan.  Current issue available <here>. 

Mike provides information on tech issues, products and, occasionally, social comment.  I recommend you take a look at his site and newsletter which is available via email without cost.  You will find humor and intelligence in every issue.  (a better deal than you get from my blogs)

One statistic caught my attention in the current letter…  We are all aware that India is a vast country with a diverse population with part of the population in the 21st Century and part in the 19th.  This statistic will put it in perspective for you:  545 million cellphones are in the country (enough for about 45% of the population) while only about 366 million people (about 31% of the nation) have access to modern plumbing and sanitation.  Significantly more people have cell phones than have toilets.

Is there an app for that ?

I know that cell phone technology brings communications and therefore education to areas that have never seen phone wires, but there is a significant human benefit in terms of health for every dollar spent on safe water and basic sanitation.  We do not comprehend the needs of people who live in other parts of the world.  While I am a political conservative, I hope we can continue to bring compassion into the political dialog in this country.

 

Friday, April 9, 2010

New Appointment coming for the Supreme COurt

Supreme Court Associate Justice John Paul Stevens has announced his retirement, giving President Obama his second Supreme Court appointment. 

Justice Stevens, who will be 90 years old this month, is generally on the liberal side of the arguments, so the President’s expected appointment of a left-leaning replacement will not seriously impact the make-up of the Court.

Justice Stevens was appointed by President Ford in 1975, so he has influenced major decisions on the Court for 35 years – a remarkable achievement.  Wikipedia notes that Justice Stevens was unanimously confirmed by the Senate and has served with three Chief Justices during seven presidencies. 

Additional news story information from Yahoo News < link here >

Justice Stevens is expected to serve out this term of the Court, leaving during the summer, giving the President an opportunity to gain confirmation of a successor prior to the beginning of the Court term on the first Monday of October. 

Whether one is a conservative or a liberal, Justice Stevens has been a dedicated public servant who has contributed greatly to the nation and to American jurisprudence. 

As to the selection process for his successor – let the games begin.