Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Boehner and the GOPs Reagan worship

"Remember when Ronald Reagan was president? We had Bob Hope. We had Johnny Cash. Think about where we are today. We have got President Obama. But we have no hope and we have no cash." ---John Boehner

   I'm a little over a month late on this, but apparently John Boehner thinks that the 1980s were the time when Cash and Hope were tearing up the pop charts. That or he's making a nonsensical reference to their being alive when Reagan was president and how they are deceased in this present time, when Obama is our president.

   Of course it's probably the second one and he's probably just using their names for a silly punchline. But it does seem like Bob Hope has always been a favorite celebrity of the GOP (I know Nixon loved to trot him out at least). But I love how he glosses over the fact that Hope and Cash were also alive when both Bushes and Clinton were president. 

  I look forward to the day when the GOP shuts up about Reagan. Nothing against the man personally, from everything I've read he sounded like a nice enough human. I do believe that a lot of his legacy has to do with the way he made people (especially Republicans) feel more than any real fiscal conservatism. If you don't believe me then read this nice little summary from the fanatically free-market/small government Ludwig Von Mises Institute.: The Sad Legacy of Ronald Reagan
Note it was from 1988 and the president was nearing the end of his term. People who truly believed in small government saw right through Reagan before he was putting on his shoes to walk out the door.

So here are my two thoughts:

1. The GOP has enough new blood to justify them laying off the Reagan praise and talking about whatever plans they have for the future.............

2. .....which if they actually mention I'm sure will involve throwing around the words "cut taxes" the way they throw around Reagan's name. Which leads me to another point. I don't mind a party that raises taxes, I mind one that raises taxes but doesn't show much evidence of sound budgeting.  I look at Britain with envy these days. Their Tory/Lib Dem coalition government are making tough decisions that should nonetheless put them on a more sustainable path. Smart tax raises and smart spending cuts. The minute I see a candidate who talks about both and means both (none of these piddly little cuts, a million here, a million there) then I might get behind them enough to put a sticker on my car. But if the lack of serious responses to any of the recent debt commissions are proof of the apathy on this matter then it looks like my sedan bumper will continue to be bare.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Obama's "deep seated hatred for white people"

Remember that time when that dude who cries a lot on FOX News said that President Obama had a "deep seated hatred for white people"? Is it only more or does that seem about as preposterous as saying that Will Smith has a "deep seated hatred for white people"? I've heard the joke in the black community about some white people getting a "ghetto pass", well I think Will Smith got his "white pass" for basically the content his entire stinkin' career and our president got his when he started wearing mom jeans for his casual photographs.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Mike Huckabee: Palin destroyer?

   Few things in politics frighten me more than the possibility of a Sarah Palin presidency. It frightens me enough that when Arkansas has its open primary, and if Palin is on the GOP ballot, I will choose to vote in that primary and I will vote for whichever candidate has the better chance of pulling ahead of her.

   Which brings us to the man whose name is the title of this post.

   Mike Huckabee was the governor of my state. A very moderate governor, due in large part to having to deal with a Democrat controlled state legislature. For instance, he signed legislation which put into effect ARKids, a program to insure children in low income families in the state. Also, regarding illegal immigrants, Huckabee condemned a bill which would deny them state benefits as "un-Christian".

   But he wasn't perfect. The Arkansas Times often pointed out what could be considered his ethical lapses, such as his reporting (or lack thereof ) of campaign payments he made to himself. And of course there's the stories of his commutations of  rapist Wayne DuMond and felon Maurice Clemmons, both of whom went on to commit murders once out of prison.

   But now that Huckabee's star has ascended into the world of TV and radio, you never hear about those much. The Teflon quality that Reagan and Clinton had, Huckabee has too. Both Clinton and Huckabee hail from Hope, Arkansas by the way, which makes one wonder what elixir they discovered in their younger days.

   One evening a few weeks ago, my wife and I settled in to watch Real Time with Bill Maher. A prime piece of blue state TV if I've ever seen it. But also one of the best shows to watch if you want insightful and informed political panels. Any Republicans or conservatives who go on this show and face such a hostile crowd typically know their stuff, or could at least name several books, newpapers, or magazines they read for information (unlike Palin). Huckabee came on for an interview with Maher on satellite and we both concluded afterwards that he was definitely presidential material. Not to say we would vote for him. But his charm, whit, and general likability really are Clinton-esque in a lot of ways. He also had well thought out, albeit philosophically conservative, answers to everything Maher pressed him about.

   Then the other day I read an article in which conservative writer David Frum argues that Huckabee is the only person who can stop the Witch from Wasilla. You can read it here. I mentioned this article to my wife who speculated on a Huckabee/Palin (or the other way around) run instead. I sincerely hope Frum is right and my wife is wrong.

   Palin is a thoroughly mean spirited politician who has the vindictiveness of Richard Nixon with none of the brains, all wrapped up in a package that is soccer mom-ish enough to speak to the Twilight reading mini van mom crowd and physically appealing enough to suck in conservative men to ignore her total vacuousness. Just look at the near worship that square-jawed haircut Sean Hannity tends to lavish on her. 

   Huckabee has nowhere near the meanness of Palin. But that doesn't qualify one to be president. His accomplishments as governor if you read up on them show him to be a "compassionate conservative" in the truest sense. Maybe he wouldn't be a terrible president, but then again the man who first brought us the term "compassionate conservative" brought us an unnecessary war, a bumbling response to a natural disaster, and a green light to torturous behavior which ceded some of the moral high ground of my country's military. Huckabee may be nice, but the most important thing to me in a president is one who can respond with wisdom and not excessive militarism to events like North Korea firing on South Korea or Iran's continuing development of nuclear program. Nothing I see in Palin shows me that she could pass this test, and Huckabee has yet to prove himself to me on this front.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

The co-opting of the tea party, and some thoughts on Obama

Just popping in to share a few links that I'm digging right now.

The first one is Matt Taibbi's latest Rolling Stone article on the Tea Party movement. It does a good job of tracing the movement's origins in Ron Paul's 2008 presidential campaign up through it's current co-opting of the GOP. A movement that was truly independent and anti-establishment has become a breeding ground for ignorance and theories about Obama's citizenship. You can find the article here.

The second link is a response to Dinesh D’Souza's recent Forbes article on President Obama. It can be found here.

Opponents of Obama are coming up with all sorts of reasons ranging from "anti-colonialism" to a "deep seated hatred" of whites for his actions as president. Which is funny because he really isn't any different than any other liberal politician. Talk of higher taxes on the wealthy for instance are pretty standard in Democratic circles. You didn't hear anyone calling Clinton an "anti-colonialist". I guess now that we have a black president, calling him "liberal" just isn't enough.

Plus on the foreign policy front the only difference I've seen between Obama and Bush is better vocabulary.  Recently our president has asserted a power to assassinate U.S. citizens if he deems it necessary. I can only imagine the storm that would have erupted in the media if Dubya asserted something like this. You can read more here.

Monday, September 27, 2010

The Dem Gaz grows a pair on "don't ask don't tell"

Kudos for once to the Democrat Gazette on their recent editorial calling for some courage in ending "Don't Ask Don't Tell". Obama has been an embarrassment on this front. As the editorial pointed out, Truman issued an executive order to end racial segregation in the military. Compare that to both Clinton's institution of "Don't ask, Don't tell" and Obama's approach to it so far. Regardless of one's views on homosexuality, I don't see any rational reason for gays to be restricted from military service. Especially considering our army apparently has, and is pretty slow in dealing with, a few murderous sickos like this:

Now I know not all our soldiers are like that and all the ones I know are disgusted by those who do things like that (okay, there was my obligatory "support the troops" disclaimer). But believe me, I've heard some stories from some said soldiers that make me think those idiots in the article aren't totally unique. As far as the discomfort or damage to morale that gay soldiers might cause, all I can say is "tough". I'm going to guess that black soldiers caused the same discomfort amongst some soldiers back in the day, but letting them in was the right decision. I'm not sure I want my country protected by an army filled with guys who are afraid of getting cooties from the gay dude next to them.  Plus the freaking Israeli IDF allows gays to serve openly, and I don't think anyone would deny the toughness of the IDF.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

What's the deal with Texas?

I have a certain amount of admiration for the state of Texas. Sure it is very tied to Dubya in my mind which is a strike against it, and a lot of people who come from there are cocky jerks, but it has so much cultural significance. Its major cities, its icons, the wild west, etc. Also, The Economist had a great article about how Texas is thriving in these hard economic times when compared to the rest of the country, and especially when compared to that other great iconic American state: California. Only subscribers can read the article, but a good summary is here.


There are still "what the heck?" moments that show massive amounts of ignorance. The Texas School Board has been a treasure trove of these lately with their war on textbooks. Here's their latest effort to dilute history:

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

The death penalty: Part Two

Well the last post didn't have the amount of responses I was hoping for. I would still love more debate in the religious community on the death penalty since it seems church goers are reliable voices in favor of it to a degree that I don't understand. Here are my main reasons for being against it, they aren't backed up by any stats. Just a few articles, quotes, and interactions that help articulate my feelings on the matter.

1. Support for the death penalty seems to be about vengeance rather than justice.  One of the most fervent supporters of the death penalty I know fondly refers to a Ron White comedy bit where the comedian speaks of Texans putting the death penalty in the fast lane. Which is interesting because Texas is going to feature prominently in another one of my points. But for this point I just want to talk about the glee that accompanies this mindset. Let's just look at the mindset of that statement. In essence it shows pride in one's state for killing more people. Considering the attitudes of many supporters of the death penalty how they often have this sort of reaction, I can tell justice is the furthest thing from their mind. Here's a quote from a Matt Taibbi blog that I think captures the mindset of the death penalty's strongest supporters:

"Years ago a friend of mine in the media told me a story about an experience he had covering the execution of John Wayne Gacy in Joliet, Illinois. You won’t find anyone in the world who’d have been sad to see serial child murderer in a clown suit like Gacy die, but this reporter friend of mine said the crowd outside the prison on execution night freaked him out almost as much as Gacy had. There were something like 400 people outside the gates at Joliet and there were people selling commemorative t-shirts and pounding beers and chanting (“Kill the Clown!” was a popular one) all night.

At the moment of truth the crowd cheered and my friend turned to interview a scraggly-looking twenty-something with thinning long hair whom he described as looking like a too-old version of the Todd Ianuzzi mean-teenager character in Beavis and Butthead. The guy was into his second six-pack and smiling goofily like he’d just gotten a half-price rub-n-tug from a Thai massage parlor. He says to my friend: “You’re not against capital punishment, are you?”

“I’m not against capital punishment,” my friend says. “I’m against enjoying capital punishment.”

I’m with my friend on this one. As far as I see it, there are three positions on capital punishment. There’s being against it. There’s being for it. Then there’s putting six-packs of beer in a cooler and driving to a hideous prison complex in the middle of the night with four hundred strangers to cheer like fans at a baseball game for the execution of some fat old child killer. Dude, if that’s what you call recreation, you’re either dangerously bored or seriously f****d up."

While I won't say that I know many people that would take it that far, I have met plenty of people whose support for it is a less tacky version of that.

2. Seeing the guilty punished by death isn't worth the potential for innocent loss of life.

For any Texas residents who are going to be voting for governor, I ask you to consider this little tale which has Gov. Perry's fingerprints all over it. Seems a fellow named  Cameron Todd Willingham was convicted of arson and executed because of a fire that killed his three young children. While not the only evidence brought against him, the damning evidence was a police inspection after the fire which it was said pointed to arson. Much of this evidence seems to garbage according to experts in fire investigation. Perry never replied to Willingham's appeals.

In 2009  Texas Forensic Science Commission was due to hear from a nationally recognized fire expert when Perry yanked three of the members and replaced them with new appointees. I won't say that Willingham was for sure innocent (he certainly doesn't sound like an angel), but it's cases like this that are filled with such uncertainty and odd behavior by elected officials that I can't give a full throated endorsement of the death penalty. The Commission is proceeding according to recent articles but only time will tell whether Perry's actions tainted its objectivity.

The way I look at it, the guilty are still being punished if there is no death penalty and more time is also given for science and evidence to potentially free the innocent. Here in the Natural State, the West Memphis 3 case is a good example of science catching up. New fiber evidence points to a stepfather of one of the slain boys and way from the three men now in prison, one of whom is on death row. Jury notes also show that a recanted confession by one of the three convicted men was wrongly considered in the deliberations during the trial of the other two. The case of  Damien Echols, the only one of the three on death row, is being considered by the Arkansas Supreme Court on September 30. The hearing will be viewable online here.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

The death penalty: Part One

I oppose the death most situations I guess. I suppose Charles Manson should probably have been executed. But wait, is that just the vengeance side of me talking? As a Christian, shouldn't I support people being punished by the laws of the land for doing wrong but allowed to live as long as they can have an opportunity to meet Christ? Wow............ this really wasn't going to be a post going in that direction. But honestly, that right there is as strong an argument against the death penalty in my mind as anyone who claims to follow Christ can put forth. So, I think I'll do another post at another point, maybe my next one, about the arguments and examples I was going to put forth. I'd love to hear some thoughts on this.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

The main reason I don't pick a side, or at least not a party

I do not affiliate myself with any party, I have voted Democrat and Republican over the years. This is because of the pattern of one party (or side) criticizing the other for basically doing the same sort of thing their party (or side) side once did. One immediate example (which I've mentioned in other posts) is conservatives talking about the debt yet not taking a strong stand on military waste, lest they be deemed unpatriotic. On the other side Obama has been very disappointing on some things (not closing Gitmo, or the ineptitude and borderline deception of his administration's response to the BP oil leak situation as revealed in the recent Rolling Stone article) that his party would have reamed Bush for.

Another symptom of this mindset is when those on the right or left play the victim card as if whatever administration is in power is trying to single them out. A big example of this a little while back was the outcry about the Homeland Security report on right wing extremism, which led to tons of conservatives complaining that they would be labeled threats because of their bumper stickers. The thing that no one seemed to report was that Homeland Security had also put out a report on left wing extremism and cyber attacks.

Party affiliation seems to be less about rights and liberty for all and more about reaping spoils for whatever specific segments of people your party counts as it's base and then attempting to pass laws to screw over those that aren't part of your base. Whether these laws are about guns, drugs, gay rights, or any number of issues.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Dang I would love to stop talking about this mosque but........

A letter from today's Dem-Gaz:

The Obama administration has sent Imam Feisal Rauf, at taxpayer expense, on a third trip to the Middle East  to “promote religious tolerance.” This is the imam who proposes to build a community center and mosque near Ground Zero in New York.

Perhaps we should send a rabbi, a priest and a preacher to the Middle East to promote religious tolerance. Perhaps we should propose building a community center in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, where people could become acquainted with Judaism, Christianity and other major religions.

We should establish an ecumenical publishing house that would print literature in Arabic for all of the world’s major and minor religions. After all, we are only trying to promote religious tolerance.

Perhaps we should apply for building permits to place several structures opposite the Grand Mosque in Mecca. I suggest a Baptist church, a Jewish synagogue, a Jehovah’s Witness kingdom hall, a Mormon temple and Catholic and Greek Orthodox churches.

If you think some Americans are upset with the proposed mosque near Ground Zero, propose any of these projects and see how the “tolerant” Muslims respond. Sharia law forbids any religion except Islam to exist in a Muslim country. How’s that for peaceful acceptance and tolerance? Can you pronounce hypocrisy?


Yes I can pronuonce hypocrisy but I can also recongize some differences between what Imam Feisal Rauf wants to do and what you are proposing Mr. Williams.

 For one thing, Rauf is a U.S. citizen. So that basically screws your comparison immediately. This isn't some foreigner trying to build some sinister Muslim brainwashing camp. The man is an American with all the freedoms that holds. Is he getting donations from Muslim countries? I'm sure he is, but haven't American citizens also sent funding to support missionaries of other faiths in Muslim countries? As Sarah Palin says, "You betcha!"

 Of course I know that it's harder for missionaries in Muslim countries than for Muslims trying to spread their faith here in the U.S., but are you really trying to tell me that the religious restrictions and regulations that Muslim nations have in place are something we should emulate over here? That seems to be, while not explicitly stated, somewhat implied by your letter.

The argument that Mr. Williams makes is one I've been hearing a lot, but these all neglect one key fact: this is a U.S. citizen trying to build a religious space. The fact that many Muslims are Americans can't be stated enough, as well as the fact that Muslims perished in the WTC in the face of evil along with Christians.

Also to do with the "Ground Zero Mosque", Ron Paul has spoken out and he's as ideologically as consistent as ever, God bless him:

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Trusting the Government: Part two

Here, after an intermission with my last post, is part two of my posts on Trusting the Government.

"Law and Order" is the second topic of these posts because it seems like many limited government types fall in love with candidates that run on platforms with those words. Nevermind the fact that less law, and to a certain degree less order is part of limited government. Less laws on drugs, getting rid of mandatory minimum sentencing, and less government power allowing the state to take human life as a punishment should be pricipals that advocates of smaller government would embrace. But that hasn't been the case. President Reagan and mandatory minimum sentencing is a case in point, one that is thankfully being reconsidered by Congress because of stronger sentencing for crack than cocaine. The former of which is used in poor and predominately black communities, the latter of which is predominately used in the bathrooms of Wall Street investment bankers......jk........okay, maybe not.

The increased focus on "law and order" hasn't made us safer. Our violent crime rate is higher than 40 years ago, even with one adult in 100 behind bars. What we are looking at in the US today is a country that has more and more laws that are supposedly designed to stop crime and more and more people locked up in jail (and for all you low tax people, that's taxpayer money keeping them there).

If you want to see a great article about our justice check out this recent Economist article.  The money quote is from libertarian scholar Gene Healy: "Yet over the last 40 years, an unholy alliance of big business-hating liberals and tough-on-crime conservatives has made criminalization the first line of attack- a way to demonstrate the serious about the the social problem of the month, whether it's corporate scandals or e-mail spam."

The whole article is three magazine pages detailing the silliness of some of the laws that exist in our country and how easily some of them can still send you to jail. The opening story about a 65 year old orchid collector getting his home stormed and ransacked by armed police, then17 months in jail for importing orchids for his collection, and then 71 days in solitary confinement for bringing his prescription sleeping pills into jail is enough to make you ask how much of our country's much touted freedom is a reality.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Best quote about the Ground Zero mosque ever.

"Continuing the chain of imaginary offensiveness to stereotypes, I plan to open a Babies R Us next to the gay bar next to the mosque next to Ground Zero. Next to the Babies R Us I will open a pornographic bookstore, and next to that I will open a police station. Next to the police station I will open a hip-hop recording studio, and next to that I will open an Applebees. Next to the Applebees I will open a TGI Fridays (those guys HATE each other) and next to the TGI Fridays I will open a methadone clinic. Next to the methadone clinic I will open a crack house, and finally, next to that, I will open a Catholic church adjoining a daycare center for attractive boys, adjacent to which I will just blow up whatever’s there so I can erect a memorial, and next to that memorial I will open a community center dedicated to a locally inconvenient ethnicity that I hired to blow up the original structure on the memorial site. Next to that I’m just going to put up some condos."--- Chris Mohney

Hiroshima and Nagasaki anniversaries. One columnist gets it right.

I rarely see eye to eye with Dana D. Kelley of the Arkansas Democrat Gazette but his column on August 6th was about as poignant and perfect a column as you can write about the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

Mr. Kelley doesn't condemn the bombings but he also doesn't rave about them as preventing tons of U.S. soldier deaths like so many do. He writes about the sheer destructive horror of the weapons and also takes a look at the lengths to which the U.S. government went to hide some of the truth of the attacks:

"Even two years after the war ended, U.S. officials were careful not to let truth interfere with public perception about the use, and the results, of atomic weapons. Authors Greg Mitchell and Robert Jay Lifton noted in The Nation that the 1947 film “The Beginning or the End?” was replete with White House-dictated revisions.

For example, in its earliest scripts, the movie raised questions about the use of atomic energy as a weapon and set out to show shocking images of the burned-up cities and casualties, including a baby with a scorched face. But by the time it hit theaters, it only reinforced the answers skeptics had already been given-and took a few more liberties with the truth for good measure.

Gone were any images of victims, as if an attack with no warning over a bustling city could be a victimless event. No detail was left unmanaged for effect. The name of the plane that dropped the bomb on Nagasaki, “Bockscar,” was changed to “Necessary Evil”; the city of Nagasaki was edited out altogether. The B-29 aircraft over Hiroshima, which in reality was ignored as it approached its target, is shown in the movie being pelted with heavy flak.

In perhaps the most egregious of factual misrepresentations, the movie propagated the myth that leaflets were dropped over Hiroshima warning of the attack. Leaflets had been dropped in advance over many of the firebombing targets, as well as many that weren’t targeted, for psychological impact, but Hiroshima’s residents received no warning at all.

In fact, the primary atomic targets, Hiroshima, Nagasaki and Kokura, were all intentionally left unbombed to effectively gauge the destruction of the nuclear explosions."

Of course even merely speaking the truth about this deception of the American people, as well as accurately describing the destructive result of the bomb is enough to stir some people up. Today's letters to the paper include two writers who won't accept anything other than praise for the almighty bomb and its use. One even said Kelley "bordered on blaming America for starting World War II", which is total garbage and nowhere in Kelley's column. Not to mention that any regular reader of his columns would know that Kelley is fairly conservative and not part of what the right wing calls the "'blame America first' crowd."  Another letter writer moaned about Kelley's "hand-wringing".

Here was how Kelley closed his column, it doesn't sound like "hand-wringing" to me, just an acknowledgment of how tragic it is when innocent people of any side get dragged into the path of war:

"For the first time in the ensuing 65 years since the bombings, an official delegation from the United States government is set to attend the memorial service marking the Hiroshima anniversary. Nobody expects any sort of apology about the atomic bombing, and certainly the Japanese have plenty of atrocities for which their own apologies are long overdue. At least and at long last, if nothing else, maybe both countries can look upon that symbolic city and feel nothing but sadness."

Monday, August 9, 2010

Trusting the Government: Part One

The question of the title isn't something I actually want answered by anyone reading this. It's more a question I have for those who are outspoken about not trusting the government to run anything or "not wanting my tax dollars going to (fill in the space)".  That's fine and good. I'll admit that the government has run some things terribly. And yet it's only certain things that people point to, when there are two areas in particular where many folks who say these statements remain silent: the military/intelligence/industrial complex and what I'll call "law and order".

In this post, I'll look at the first.

President Eisenhower's farewell address contains this famous section:

"Now this conjunction of an immense military establishment and a large arms industry is new in the American experience. The total influence -- economic, political, even spiritual --is felt in every city, every Statehouse, every office of the Federal government. We recognize the imperative need for this development. Yet we must not fail to comprehend its grave implications. Our toil, resources, and livelihood are all involved. So is the very structure of our society.
In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist. We must never let the weight of this combination endanger our liberties or democratic processes. We should take nothing for granted. Only an alert and knowledgeable citizenry can compel the proper meshing of the huge industrial and military machinery of defense with our peaceful methods and goals, so that security and liberty may prosper together."

I'll add "intelligence" to "military industrial" because they have become so connected in the years following World War II.

If you need any proof of the dangers he warned about, the "potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power" then I would point you to the Church Committee investigations of the CIA and the subsequent release of the CIA's "family jewels" . What these showed was an agency that had strayed way beyond it's charter and was engaging in questionable surveillance, and sometimes worse, of citizens on US soil. Oh yeah, and did I also mention dosing unsuspecting US citizens with LSD? For a more in depth look at the rather embarrassing history of the agency, read "Legacy of Ashes: the History of the CIA". A truly eye opening read.

"But Linton" you might say, "that was then, this is now and things have gotten so much better."

Okay, maybe we don't have government agencies dosing people with LSD least I hope not, but the whole area of military contractors, intelligence agencies and so forth are still wasteful and ineffective . Just read the recent Washington Post series "Top Secret America".

Among the findings of the series:

* Some 1,271 government organizations and 1,931 private companies work on programs related to counterterrorism, homeland security and intelligence in about 10,000 locations across the United States.

* Many security and intelligence agencies do the same work, creating redundancy and waste. For example, 51 federal organizations and military commands, operating in 15 U.S. cities, track the flow of money to and from terrorist networks.

I would also like to note that this article garnered barely a peep from the most vocal anti-government group of the moment, the Tea Party.

Basically many people who will gripe about anything to do with the government down to delivering their mail, will never question when the same government decides to take a country to war. Deference to the military is not something our country was built on. And even a wise old General like Ike recognized this. Showing a healthy skepticism about the ways one tax dollars are being spent in relationship to war isn't unpatriotic. Our military protects us, but it also serves us.

If half these people were worth their salt they would be objecting to the sheer waste of many of our military contractors with just as much venom as they gripe against welfare abuse. Part of this is a symptom of the simple-mindedness that is so prevalent in our country. One of my favorite columnists, Matt Taibbi put it this way when writing about some of the more recent Tea Party folks he'd witnessed:

"the Tea Party movement contains a lot of people who are far more impressed by what they can see with their own eyes than with what, for instance, they read about. I’ve been to Tea Party events where global warming was dismissed by speakers who, without irony, pointed to the fact that there was snow on the ground outside. And while very few people have ever actually seen a CDO manager or a Countrywide executive, or were aware if it when they saw them, the Tea Party folks sure as hell have seen who their neighbors in foreclosure are."

But maybe it isn't only that. Maybe people just feel so much safer leaving matters of defense to the "experts" and the "best and brightest", and that it isn't worth their time to care or worry about things so far away and beyond their control. But my warning would be that it was the "experts" who said that Iraq had WMDs, the "experts" who once told people that cigarettes wouldn't potentially kill you, and the "experts" waaaay before that who said the Earth was flat.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

KARN callers this morning. Because it's so easy to write about.

KARN morning radio callers and letter writers to the Dem Gaz are truly cut from the same cloth. And that cloth is probably the cloth used to make this shirt:

The typical morning call in show routine seems to be to pick the story that will bring out the most phone calls. But the topics are always those that will obviously lead to: a.) angry, inarticulate callers b.) an entire program of callers with the same point of view. So today's topic was (of course) the recent California ruling on gay marriage.

Today we'll focus on two callers.

Caller number one had some vague rant involving the fall of Rome and how it is parallels the fall of our country, etc, etc. I have heard several cases for this by the way, but the idea of everyone in our country turning gay and not reproducing has never seemed to be a strong one. In part this is because we aren't all becoming gay and because I'm pretty sure all the Romans weren't gay when their empire fell.
Also, I don't think a law allowing gay marriage has a magic ability to turn straight people gay. If it does then why don't we pass a law requiring wizardry? Suddenly everyone in our country would magically become a wizard and Al-Qaeda would cower before our wands, or be turned into frogs. War on Terror over.

Caller number two pleaded the whole "founding documents based on Christian principals" argument. I'm not going to argue that because it's irrelevant, considering most opponents of gay marriage are arguing this issue based on state's rights and also because our founding documents don't talk about sexual orientation at all. We aren't governed as a country by strictly Christian principals (although our country's laws sometimes mirror these principals), our country is governed by laws that men wrote and still write. Many of us are or try to be personally governed by Christian principals though.

Oh yeah and one more thing for caller number two, don't ever try to sound intelligent by tacking on the phrase "the 10 commandments if you will" after saying "Christian principals" and expect me to take anything you say about either of those things seriously. Either own your invocation of the 10 commandments by leaving off the "if you will" or don't even mention them.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

A Mosque at Ground Zero?......As American as apple pie

Today I received two blood boiling emails from a person I have a great deal of  respect for. He attends the place of  Christian worship that I attend and has been supportive of many people who have struggled with various sins and addictions in their life. He has helped them with open arms.

We'll call him John for "John Doe".

Here is email # 1 which included a link to a video, it was followed by another one with contact info for NYC Mayor Bloomberg (these were obviously sent to many people btw): "

In His Story
for those of you who have watched the video that was sent to me you have witnessed a very angry Brit ripping on the idea of building a mosque "at Ground Zero" as everyone has been wording it.
My take:
Look at that. Does it look like it is AT Ground Zero to you? I doubt you'd be able to see it from Ground Zero.

2.  I know it's become a cliche but if we don't let that organization build this thing then we really have played into the hands of the people who attacked us on that terrible day in September. America is a place that enjoys all the freedoms of religion and speech that most of the Muslim regimes deny their citizens. It would be nice to have a very powerful and symbolic (since I guess a building that can't even be seen from Ground Zero carries symbolism somehow) opportunity to show that to the world.

3. The guy in the video says that Islam is an "Ideology of hate". I'm not going to get into that debate but I want to make an even more startling statement. Even if it is, so what? He says that it shouldn't be allowed in the "civilized world" because of his belief that it is hateful. I'm sure he thinks America is part of the "civilized world" judging by the tone of his video. I agree. 

Part of what makes America civilized is that we let people speak their mind. We recognize that if you don't like it (whatever it is) you can walk away, or change the channel, or speak your own contrary view with just as much force one channel over, or right next door. Our laws step in when that speech encourages violence, but they are silent on hate. 

That's how Fred Phelps travels from funeral to funeral without being hindered.'s the beautiful thing. The most effective response to this didn't come about from laws or regulations. It came from an equal display of free speech. The Patriot Guard Riders have begun appearing at funerals for the fallen soldiers, acting as stoic, and intimidating, human shields between families and hatemongers.

So in closing, those of you who don't want the Mosque so close to Ground Zero, go buy your own building and you can share your silly views with the rest of the world too. 

Illegal Immigrants and the Ned Beatty treatment

The Dem Gaz letter page never fails to amaze me by showing me the minds of my fellow Arkansans. They are truly wonderful minds and their brains should be preserved for future generations like the pieces JFK's brain (wait our government lost those, nevermind). Today's paper featured a letter from a man who had previously lived in Arizona. Does anyone want to guess what he wrote in about? Yes that's right Timmy, he wrote about immigrants. That and how a case from 1985 miraculously explains everything about our current situation with the border today.

 Apparently two brothers had a ranch close to the border that saw lots of traffic from illegal immigrants as well as lots of thievery. One night they caught three men in their barn and, after making them remove their pants and shoes, fired their guns in the air and told the men to go back across the border.

Okay, before I get to the rest of this let me emphasize one part of this story again:
making them remove their pants and shoes

Okay, we got that? Good.

Anyway, so the brothers were charged with violating the men's civil rights and acquited and then the letter writers says "big brother" brought charges of interfering with interstate commerce against them. The writer says one man was acquited and the other convicted, but that he lost track of the case, but somehow this explains everything about today and blahalbalhaha. I couldn't find much on the case because my access to information on 1985 Arizona cases is limited to Google searches and the ramblings of my fellow resident of the Natural State.

1. I support a man's right to defend his property and the sanctity of his house (or barn), especially if he's being regularly stolen from.

2.  If the government were charging these brothers with interfering with interstate commerce that does hit me as rather silly. But the civil rights violation charge does ring with a little truth because.....

3.making them remove their pants and shoes!!?!!!? Creepy. If the guys had just fired their guns and told the guys to leave I'd be a little sympathetic but whaaaaaa? I wonder if the rest of the story that the writer didn't catch upon his moving to Arkansas included revelations like "One brother told one of the three that he 'sure did have a pretty mouth' and that he wanted him to 'squeal like a pig'". Saying that the behavior of the brothers is totally fine is okay if you don't mind the "slippery slope" (thanks you religious right for the years of hearing that term on AFR) that could lead to. Just because someone is trespassing doesn't in my mind mean you can do anything to them you want to. I'd object just a little bit if someone had a "Hostel"-style torture house for the illegal immigrants they caught crossing their yard and I'd hope everyone reading this would too. If you or your family's lives are threatened then by all means, cap them. But if they are just stealing some sheep or catching some shut eye in a barn, do the same thing these brothers did........except let the guys to keep their pants and shoes on.