Because I Always Expect A PRIVATE Institution to Accomodate My Different Faith When I Voluntarily Attend It…

Because it would be totally reasonable for me to attend a PRIVATE Islamic university and expect them to provide a chapel on the grounds for me, right? Right?

New charges have recently been filed against the [Catholic] University [of America] on counts of illegal discrimination against its Muslim and female students. The allegations are being reviewed by the District of Colombia Office of Human Rights (OHR), which has the strictest discrimination laws in the country. President John H. Garvey and the University is being urged to respond to the charges.

————————————————

The official allegations claim that CUA, “does not provide space – as other universities do – for the many daily prayers Muslim students must make, forcing them instead to find temporarily empty classrooms where they are often surrounded by Catholic symbols which are incongruous to their religion,” according to a press release on PRLOG.com.

If I were the University Board of Regents, and the Provost, I think I’d come to the conclusion that perhaps there is no need for these students to return next semester. But maybe that’s because I know there would be no reciprocity at an Islamic University.

From the University’s Newspaper, The Tower.

Linked by The Anchoress, thanks!

This What Educational Failure Looks Like

The expression is that “A picture is worth a thousand words”.

This one is the ultimate intellectual expression of the American Left. In it, one sees the contempt that they have for other people’s achievements, and those who help perpetuate society by safeguarding those achievements and keeping the peace. Any discussion of the inconvenient truth that no matter WHO leads it, Marx/Commu/Socialism will never work is wasted on people who can find eloquence in excrement.  They are blind to a political and economic system that allows the individual to “pursue happiness” by taking responsibility for their own destiny, rather than being yoked to a collective standard chosen by other people.

I have had exchanges with some of the #OWS (Occupy Wall Street) supporters this week on Twitter.  All condemn the “greed” of Wall Street, while being completely blind to their own envy and sense of entitlement to what these “evil” greedy people have. They rail against corporations for their lack of “accountability to the people”, and refuse to acknowledge that corporations answer to their shareholders and the government, and were designed that way, instead of focusing their attentions on the people who were always intended to be accountable to them: elected officials.

They tell their sob stories of hundreds of thousands of dollars in student loan debt for their MFA degrees and living in parents’ basements, unable to get food stamps for their cats, or jobs that allow them to pay back their student loans. Each adds their plaintive voices to a chorus of whiny stories that call themselves “We Are the 99%” as opposed to the evil, greedy 1% of rich people who they feel entitled to “take” from. I’d call them “We Are The Falsely Entitled”. They talk about “new” economic models where workers have a say in how businesses are run, and how they have to “collapse the system” in order to build a society that is “fair” and doesn’t pick winners and losers, which is utter nonsense.  If society didn’t pick winners and losers, then you should be able to go to the corner store and purchase an ice cold Chrystal Pepsi for yourself.  They are immune to the suggestion that it is reasonable and understandable to be angry about a government that picks winners and losers, when its role is to act as referree.

This insistence on “fairness” is the expression of the naive and those blinded by envy, both of whom are eminently willing to surrender a potential that they have been tricked into thinking that they do not have, or that they are too afraid to command for themselves, to people only too willing to harness for their own ends. In either event, their childish notion of “fairness” pervades their demands and beliefs. A fairness that betrays opportunity for a physical equality, doled out by beneficent “rulers” who decide what is best for all and make it the assigned task for society.

But what I find the most offensive is that this segment of society, clinging to their Noam Chomsky readers, talking about the need for greater Democracy everywhere, and approving of every new law made by activist federal courts over the last 40 years utterly rejects the Democratic apparatus we already have.  It is urgent to “collapse the system” because “The Corporations” make all the choices for them, leaving the voter with only Tweedle Dum and Tweedle Dee when the time comes to cast the ballots. When you point out the flaws in this thinking, such as the success that the Tea Party had in backing and electing candidates in 2010, they only offer the electronic equivalent of a blank stare, followed by “That can’t be right. I saw all about the Tea Party is bad on MSNBC.”

When you suggest that if they really are the 99%, then it should be any problem for them to field and elect their own candidates, the only response is mumbling about corruption. And when you suggest that they simply don’t have the right to “collapse” a system that everyone else in society relies on, and has built their lives around, then they don’t have much to say at all, other than to condemn you as one of the 1% or as someone being led by the nose by that 1%.

As ridiculous as they appear to be, their ignorance and their appetites are dangerous. This is a mob that largely has no understanding of civics, of their political history, both the one that is their birthright, and the one they stupidly embrace, and yet believe that society can and should provide them with a life free from want, difficulty, or hard labor. They demonstrate no understanding that the democracy they cry out for is, at its core, only what 50%+1 wants, or that without safeguards for the minorities that are part of the system they want to collapse, they will inevitably be part of the 49%. While I don’t want to spare them the impact of learning that lesson firsthand, I do not want to live in the environment that would teach them, because revolutions are messy, and the temptation for the rest of the world to interfere is too great.  That means that we HAVE to engage them, and let them know that they are nowhere near being 99%, and that the only reason this has gone on this long is because the rest of us had to get up and go to work in the morning.

Crossposted at Taxes, Stupidity, and Death.

Rigid, Inflexible Ideologue Pushes Us Closer To Financialgeddon!

We been hearing a lot about inflexible ideologues holding us hostage over this debt ceiling “crisis”, and how childish they are, and how they are terrorists who are taking hostages as part of this process.

Yesterday, they struck again.

It really is amazing just how small of stature some people are.  It must be difficult in among the shadows who are leading from behind with a plan that they dare not clearly present for fear of rejection, and it must be even harder for poor little Harry.  Am I the only one who thinks that without the shoes he clearly has trouble filling, no one would give him another thought five minutes after he speaks?

Turning a Yawning Chasm into a Growing Gulf

“Ever get the feeling you’ve been cheated?”

-Johnny Rotten, at the close of the last Sex Pistols concert.

I’m starting to feel this way every single day.

 Each day, the cries that people who are rejecting or have rejected the status quo “Are stupid, insane, or my personal favorite, “handing the election to Obama” because they just don’t see the wisdom in any debt ceiling fix that gives more spenditol to the hopelessly addicted in D.C. without honest, true (not gimmicky) and most importantly immediate cuts to the Federal Government’s spending grow louder, and I find myself growing more annoyed with people I have more similarities than differences with, not because of the differences, but because their inability to convince me that the compromise they are rallying behind will prevent the calamity they fear has driven them to derision, name-calling, insults, and questioning our patriotism.  In other words, they are acting like the Democrats do when we tell them “No.” too.

Whether it’s the New York Times’ favorite “maverick” referring to the Tea Party as Hobbits, and claiming that “Others know better” than the Tea Party Freshmen in the Congress, or people I respect telling me in serial FB postings that anyone who isn’t for Boehner’s plan to raise the credit limit again in exchange for promises to make some piddling cuts at some time that history tells us will never be made anyway, and then bring us back to this point yet again during election season is the same as a Democrat such as the President, contempt is the tune played with the complete expectation that we will dance, and its put me into a position I never wanted to be in.  I’m being pushed into declaring for the Tea Party.

It isn’t that I had any particular beef with the Tea Party.  My objections have really been more dealing with the movement’s long-term prospects.  As I said to a Republican Tea Party basher on FB:

‎1. I am not a Tea Party member. I enjoyed the fact that it was grassroots and genuine. I never signed on, because I knew that it was destined to be co-opted or marginalized because it threatened the political establishment and their power base.
2. Your willingness to appoint them with a responsibility to “shut people up” chills me a bit. The appeal of the tea party was a central message, and the ability for people who had felt marginalized or removed from the mainstream political process to participate and bring some of their own ideas to the fore. A “leadership” would be counter to that idea.
3. Much of what I’ve feared has come to pass…a degree of co-opting, both actual, and presumed by those for whom it would be handy to do so, and marginalization…by a corrupt media that needed a group of “extremists”, and a political establishment that needed a boogeyman to save us from.
4. And even though I don’t agree with a lot of them, I’d rather have a political system that doesn’t “silence” the fringes, or anything outside the mainstream, largely because I firmly believe that we HAVE to trust the people, in the firm knowledge that they are going to make mistakes (Thanks, 52%ers!) or that none of this political system means anything and we can simply officially appoint those who presume to be our betters as such, and dispense with the charade.

And how did we arrive at this point, anyway?  Really, before we entrust these responsible stewards of the public purse with the ability to spend even more money, isn’t that a question we all should be asking?  If the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, while expecting a different result, then the “compromise” they are offering doesn’t make any damn sense.

The Tea Party owes its existence to government’s reckless and irresponsible spending, and the way that government demonstrated its feeling of entitlement to not only continue spending more money than it takes in, but to continually increase this spending in order to mitigate the consequences of really poor decisions. (Too Big To Fail, anyone?)

It was a terrific thing to behold as it gathered steam, because people who had never given politics a second thought, or only considered it when filling out a ballot were now looking at the ways their elected officials had squandered their trust, and enhanced their own power and finances at the expense of our own personal sovereignty and wallet.  They had realized that government by the professional and the expert first benefits the professional and the expert, and then trickles down only to the extent that doing so will also benefit the professional and the expert.  But this newfound clarity threatens not just the chattering class, whose false narratives and very selective reporting kept the majority of the nation slumbering and dreaming dreams in which every man woman and child was a lottery winner, and never had to be asked to pay for the welfare state that continued to grow in its quest to provide for them from cradle to grave, and so the new narrative began, about these “extremists” who opposed what government hath wrought not because it stifled freedom and opportunity, and confiscated wealth on an enormous scale to redistribute it to others who did nothing to earn it , but because they were “racists who didn’t want a black President to succeed.”  They were haters, who if given an opportunity to do so, would commit unspeakable acts of violence against those who disagreed with them, even kill them if they thought it necessary. 

It was certainly a surprise to the everyday mothers, fathers, grandpas, and grandmas who came to the rallies, and participated in the peaceful protests.  It was a surprise to those who came to townhalls to confront their elected officials about the trust that they so casually abused, only to find themselves shouted down, disrespected, and questioned by their public servants, and their supporters, many of whom freely feed at the public trough.  I know many people who consider themselves part of the Tea Party, one of who graciously lets me co-blog with her when I get the urge to speak up, and the media portrayals of them couldn’t be farther from the truth.  And as irritating as that is, its ok.  One of the things that came clear during the emergence of the Tea Party and the rush of the legacy media to portray them as unhinged extremists is the fact that the self-appointed cognoscenti were defending a power base, and the shriller the denunciations, the more obvious it became to observers that the media members, and their patrons in the Democratic Party were the ones standing naked while commenting to each other about their resplendent wardrobes.  The more they condescended, complained, and projected, the more hollow their lofty pronouncements rang.

And it had a result, as the elections of 2010 proved, and the consequence was a series of election gains in the House of Representatives that completely changed the make up of that body. 

Now we find ourselves facing yet another crisis.  Another in a string of crises that miraculously can only be solved by the federal government spending more money that it does not have, to pay for consequences that it bears the responsibility for.  The only truly good comparison that I can think of is the domestic violence victim who keeps going back to her abuser, because he promises that this time, things will be different…after he tells her that it is her fault that he beats her.  We keep going back, and if we hesitate, we’re told to “get our asses back in line.”  And for all the noise about the approaching deadline, “inflexible ideologues”, and swift and certain financialgeddon, and the absolute and positive need to address this RIGHT NOW, OR ELSE!  and the only option, no matter how it is dressed up, is to increase the credit limit now, and make cuts later, or whenever they can get around to it, if they feel like it, and the moon is in the right phase, with the only real distinctions being how much, and whether or not the timing is politically beneficial to one side or the other, several key facts and follow-up questions keep getting lost.

1.  We actually hit the debt ceiling in May of this year.  In all the hysteria, hyperventilation, finger-pointing, and name-calling, that fact seems to get lost.  One might ask how this got to be a “crisis”, considering the fact that it couldn’t have been a surprise.

2.  The US’s credit rating has already been downgraded.  While I don’t expect it to be a harmless event if the other rating agencies follow, I also noted that the sky didn’t fall, and I didn’t have to take a wheelbarrow full of $100,000.00 bills to the Safeway to buy a loaf of bread after it happened. 

4.  The Democrats have not passed a budget since 2009, despite the fact that it is one of Congress’ duties.  This works to their advantage.  No budget means no parameters on spending.  Anything goes until you hit the ceiling.  Besides, they were too busy with Spendulous, Cash for Clunkers, and Obamacare to actually attend to their duties.  And who do you think you are for asking pointed questions about it anyway, peasant?

5.  Do your creditors maintain your credit score when your debt to income ratio is already too high and you decide that you can and should borrow more?   So why should we believe that a government that is characterized by an abject avoidance of restraint when it comes to spending the public’s money will not suffer the same fate when if they pass a bill that bumps out that limit, and purports to address a portion of the spending problem, somehow, some way, some time?  It would be like believing that the chronic alcoholic will be ok if the bartender doesn’t serve him the last two shots he’s used to downing nightly; the real problem is in the 5 shots he was served before.  And yet the Tea Party is now the enemy of America, and actively working for the re-election of Barack Obama for recognizing that what is being offered and discussed is a “more of the same” of what we’ve had before, and declining to go along with it.

6.  Teh Fred! and others keep crowing about a victory in shifting the conversation away from tax increases, and demanding we take that, and ignore the fact that even with the “cuts” being proposed, the leviathan that is Fedzilla still grows.   More and more people are getting clued in to the magical growth formula in government accounting based on premise that Zero = Last Year’s Budget.  Taxes weren’t negotiable because despite what Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi believe, this was NEVER a revenue problem; it is a spending problem, and taking away what never should have been on the table to begin with, and then rearrange the deck chairs on the Titanic will not prevent a really, really cold swim.

It comes down to this:  Government Spending first empowers the government.  Democrats have known this for years, and used it to their advantage to cultivate a block of constituents beholden to them for their sustenance due to the advent of multigenerational welfare, and they have carefully nurtured it until we have reached a point where nearly 50% of the citizens in this country don’t have any of the precious “skin in the game” that the Teleprompter President likes to babble on about, because they pay no taxes.   They have no intention of changing this state of affairs.  TPOTUS himself has all but admitted that his idea of “shared sacrifice” is that the people who are paying the check need to pay even more.   The real-life warnings that the failed welfare states of Europe pose do nothing to change any of this.  They will spend it, even when they don’t have it, and they will do anything for their fix.  If unchecked, this can only end one way.

Get used to scenes like these, because if we don’t address the festering sore that is Federal Spending now, we lose choices. There won’t be an option that helps Granny get the check that the Federal Government has no business paying her. The government will probably not have the ability to perform its enumerated duties, let alone pay for mohair subsidies, studies on the flow rate of catsup, or refurbishing mosques in foreign countries.   This nonsense cannot be sustained.  Enacting special welfare and calling it general welfare is a path to ruin.  Growing a federal bureaucracy that must continue to worm its tentacles further and further into all aspects life and business in order to justify itself is not conducive the maintenance of freedom and liberty.  This is what “go along to get along” has gotten us…legions of experts who prove day in and day out that there is no problem that government cannot create, and then make worse with its “solutions”.  Learned professionals without any practical experience who pass laws and regulations without a thought to the cost that it imposes on those who they would regulate, because they only choose to see what they have done as a goal that they have fulfilled.

We aren’t stupid for deciding that more of the same isn’t a serious answer.

We’re not unpatriotic for not trusting a professional political class peopled by Republicans as well as Democrats when they tell me that if we just do this for them this time, then they can get majorities in the next election and things will be different.  Tell it to Newt Gingrich.  We’ve swallowed that turd sandwich before.  Fool me once, shame on you.  Fool me twice, shame on me.

And calling me a Hobbit because I see the snare and refuse to step into it doesn’t change my mind or my heart in the Reagan tradition.  It just tells me that you know you’re more concerned with your power than you are for the future of this country, and that lacking a convincing argument, you believe that I’m as willing to compromise as you are, in the pursuit of being loved, of course.  Just ask “the maverick”.

My friends…

No thanks. The madness can’t continue if enough people just opt out.

Unmitigated Arrogance And Gall On Display

The grumpy old guy has gone off the reservation again.

John McCain, is quoted in the New York Times berating the Tea Party Republicans for having the temerity to not play the Washington game of doing the same old thing, and declaring it something different.

Mr. McCain mocked Tea Party-allied Republicans in the House for believing — wrongly, he said — that President Obama and Democrats will get the blame for a default if Republicans refuse to increase the nation’s debt ceiling.

By that flawed logic, “Democrats would have no choice but to pass a balanced budget amendment and reform entitlements and the Tea Party Hobbits could return to Middle Earth,” he said, quoting a Wall Street Journal editorial.

“This is the kind of crack political thinking that turned Sharron Angle and Christine O’Donnell into G.O.P. nominees,” he jeered, referring to two losing Tea Party candidates for the Senate in 2010.

——-

Mr. McCain assailed the conservative Republicans in the House who are threatening passage of the debt cutting plan by the House speaker, John A. Boehner, calling their political logic “bizarro” and noting sarcastically that they have only been in office a short time.

“Maybe some people who have only been in this body for six or seven months or so really believe that,” he said. “Others know better. Others know better.”

Shame on you, Senator.  You are part of the greatest deliberative body in the world, and rather than making your case and persuading your colleagues (and the American Public), instead you belittle and insult your colleagues who stand firm on doing what they were sent there to do, which was stop the madness.

Instead you give us the same arrogant condescension that we despise from the Democrats.  “We know better than you.  Shut up and do what you’re told.”

I think someone’s been in D.C. long enough.

Linked in Michelle Malkin’s Buzzworthy! Thanks!

Am I the Only One…

…who wants to choke the s*** of the people on “our side” of the political spectrum when they keep attacking the non-expert/experienced politicians who have decided to endure hostile, partisan reporters spelunking in their sphincters and uteruses, and the scorn and derision of pundits, who often have done nothing remotely risky in their lives other than ordering iffy fish at swanky restaurants or daring to buy a suit off the rack, rather than visiting their tailor for their latest Armani.

I’d like to know when so many conservatives bought into the idea that our leaders must be drawn from the pool of experts and experienced politicians.  A careful reading of the Federalist Papers and other assorted writings make it clear that the Framers certainly never envisioned a government consisting of career politicians and professional experts rich in “knowledge” largely or completely unsupported by real world experience.  But honestly, as far afield as we have strayed from so many other things that they intended, I find this gradual acquiescence less frustrating than the unrestrained contempt that so many of these so-called conservative “journalists”, talking heads, and their devoted followers have for people like Sarah Palin, Herman Cain, or even Michelle Bachmann.

Whether it’s the vacuous and groundless criticisms leveled at Sarah Palin, (She’s dumb, she’s a hillbilly, Trig isn’t hers, OMG, she didn’t give a polished and pat answer to the hostile reporter’s query, its her fault the nutbar shot Gabby Giffords, or that she’s a quitter because she decided to stop costing the taxpayers of Alaska money fighting boundless and, ultimately frivolous ethics complaints and resigned the governorship), the “he doesn’t have a policy plan for every single contingency” leveled at Herman Cain, someone who I would wager has more ideas that would actually grow the economy and jobs in his little finger than The President and all of Congress have between themselves and their legions of advisors and staff.  Besides, I’m quite sure that the only reason an “electable candidate” like Mitt Romney can cogently answer a specific foreign policy question because at least one or more paid advisor has advised him on a safe, or expected answer to such question.  Be honest, do you think at his first inauguration, George W. Bush was planning to spend the majority of time in office in charge of conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan, or that he thought that we would suffer a devastating terrorist attack on our soil that would kill thousands of American civilians, or that a cadre of career Democratic appointees going through a revolving door at Freddie and Fannie would feed an unsustainable bubble by guaranteeing bad loans and personally enriching themselves in the process, despite it being brought to his attention once in office, and his numerous warnings to Congress about their dreadful oversight after it was brought to his attention.

The fact that these criticisms come from people who haven’t decided to subject themselves to the inevitable criticism and scrutiny directed at these candidates is irritating.  These people aren’t making the decision to run because they want power.  Despite the claims to the contrary, they don’t do it for “the fame”.  I’m quite certain that Governor Palin hasn’t appreciated “the fame” that has made her daughters the focus of David Letterman’s creepy sexual innuendos, or Andy Sullivan all but petition the courts to make his own gynecological examination of her nethers.  I’m equally certain that Herman Cain didn’t decide to move into the public eye and run for office because he’d like to be President.  Representative Bachmann on the other hand, clearly enjoys driving partisan hacks like Chrissy “Tingles” Matthews insane when she purposely doesn’t play the role that he hamfistedly tries to maneuver her into.  But then, to hear some talking head with a complete lack of understanding of the tax code prattling on and pretending to know more than her would lead me to frustrate the sputtering simpleton at every opportunity as well.  No, these people made the decision to step away from their lives because they could no longer ignore the fact that decades of leadership by the experienced and the experts isn’t working.  And what thanks do they get?  A complete eclipse of consideration by self-appointed deciders obsessed with talking points, elaborate plans which may or may not survive the events of the potential candidate’s administration, ‘electablity’-otherwise known as the careful positioning that ensures that the candidate doesn’t really have a position that would evoke a strong feeling by any potential voter, and policy expertise informed by, well, more experts.  And then they lament months later the fact that the new boss is largely undistinguishable from the old boss.

I have an idea.

How about you journalists, pundits, loyal followers and other deciders who purport to be on our side try a novel strategy this time?

Shut the hell up and let us decide, m’kay?

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That Old Chestnut Again?

Whenever possible (and even when not), racism is the answer.

At least that what the Presstitutes and avid supporters of the President (but I repeat myself) have decided to tell us in the wake of the very serious President’s release of his long form birth certificate, before he tackled the very serious issue of flying to Chicago for a taping of Oprah and an arduous day of serious fund-raising.

Before we go further, I have to disclose something.  I’ve followed a few of the birth certificate lawsuits with great interest.  The Berg case caught my interest and I read the pleadings as they were posted with greater interest.  I wanted to know how the court was going to rule, even if I wasn’t sure exactly why the FEC was named in the suit, since as near as I could tell, their purpose is not to vet the candidates bona fides, but is instead to watch the money trail and blow the whistle on campaign finance violations.  As time wore on, I tried to figure out why it was that someone who wanted the job, and would require the confidence of the people he sought to lead would work so hard and spend so much money to keep something private if there was no “there” there.  The well-heeled counsel from Perkins Coie do not come cheap.  And since other “facts” of his past, reported in his own memoirs, appeared to raise questions…niggling little things like trips to Pokeestaan and being adopted by an Indonesian national, and trivialities like that.  And as long as his academic record seems to be the new standard for some to rally round, I was somewhat fascinated to find that despite being on law review during his time at Harvard Law School, he apparently never authored a law review article.  As a graduate of two law schools myself, I wondered (and STILL wonder) how it is that he accomplished that particular feat.

But as the weeks stretched into years, and the dismissals in the various venues piled up, I found it difficult to care.  Unlike some of my friends, I didn’t believe that it was an issue that truly mattered any more.  I never believed that this was some sort of conspiracy dating back to his birth wherever that event took place.  It didn’t have to be.  After we had passed a certain threshold, even if it was proven that he was intelligible, I had no reason to believe that every act and executive order he affixed his signature to would be suddenly null and void, thus freeing us from the disasters he had set loose upon the country.  You can’t unring a bell, unscramble eggs, or unspend billions of dollars.  This doesn’t mean that my curiosity about spending the money fighting the requests in venue after venue, or his academic career was put to rest.  As lawyer, I’d never counsel someone to fight the lawsuits the way that he did, at the cost it ran up when the whole thing could be made to go away with simply presenting the long form to the Court…at least not without a letter to the client stating very plainly “While I love taking your money to do this, you could defeat this and all future claims by just presenting the damn thing, right?” sitting in my file with their signature acknowledging that they received it from me.  No, while my curiosity remains, I came to regard this entire episode as one more example of the contempt he has for the American people.  And now that the inevitable post-mortems have commenced, the consensus of the hand-wringing concerned members of the press and his adoring supporters have returned to the tired, predictable, and baseless conclusion that just happens to coincide with yet another election in which he plans to participate.  Yes, these big brains have once again settled on their favorite conclusion:  this was an issue because the people who cared were racists!!!11!!!

Let’s start first with the adoring fans.  From my friend Rutherford Lawson, the only sort-of-sane, and occasionally honest lefty I know:

But there is a sad downside to this capitulation. The most powerful man in the world today was reduced to saying essentially, “Yes Massa, I really is an American. I gots the papers to prove it.” Not since the dark days of the 19th century where blacks had to identify themselves as free or slave has a man’s identity been so disgustingly challenged. There is no doubt that our incredibly sheltered citizenry who can’t identify other countries on a map had an adjustment to make with a President with such an exotic background. And let’s be honest. Obama, at least from one side of his family, is a first generation American. That is NEW for our country. However, his background makes him a black American.

Of course the Press, not to be done in its role as the President’s biggest supporter, rushed to make sure that we all knew that the question only existed to begin with because those asking it were racists:

So what’s fueling the dogged questioning of Obama’s origins? Many critics of the birther movement say its core tenets–and its stubborn resistance to evidence disproving those beliefs–can be traced to racial hostilities. The fundamental birtherist conviction, these critics say, is that an African-American can’t have legitimately won the presidency–and that his elevation to power therefore has to be the result of an elaborate subterfuge.

“There is a real deep-seated and vicious racism at work here in terms of trying to de-legitimate the president,” Peniel Joseph, a professor of history at Tufts University, told The Ticket.

“This is more than just a conspiracy,” Peniel added. “I think this is fundamentally connected to white supremacism in this country.”

Of course.  And as a white male who has ancestry in this country dating back to well before it was a country, I cannot tell you how put out I am to learn that white supremacism is so incredibly powerful, and yet I was never given an invitation to join this mighty cabal that is so powerful that it could ask questions that were asked of other Presidents in the past, but somehow glossed over by a criminally uncurious press corps in the last Presidential election cycle, and have it considered, even momentarily, as anything other than racism.

And of course, the Press wants us to believe that racism drove this issue because “the experts” have told us that this is so.

Meanwhile, an eye-opening recent study from the University of Delaware appears to confirm that race-minded detractors of Obama view him as “less American”–as Dan Vergano writes for USA Today.

The study, which surveyed blacks and whites on their opinions of Obama compared to Vice President Joe Biden, found that whites classified as “higher prejudice-predicted Whites” viewed Obama as “less American”–a view that, in turn, resulted in lower evaluations of the president’s performance.

“Finally, many in the media have speculated that current criticisms of Obama are a result of his race, rather than his agenda. We believe that the current results are an empirical demonstration that this is sadly the case,” the study concluded in its analysis. “As the United States approaches important decisions regarding issues such as economic reform, health care, and overseas military interventions, the intrusion of racial attitudes in the evaluation of political leaders’ performance is ironically inconsistent with what many believe to be ‘American.’ “

I really can’t think of any other way to put it.  Obama is not a polarizing figure because he’s black.  Before Colin Powell frittered away a fair amount of respect among the American people by supporting Obama, he was someone who some well-connected figures in the GOP had occasionally brought up in discussions about possible Presidential candidates.  Hell, some conservatives considered to be “out there” by more mainstream conservative perspectives supported a bid by Alan Keyes for the Oval Office.  The Rev. Jesse Jackson has run for the Democratic nomination more than once.  It isn’t the color of skin that matters.  A black president was a statistical inevitability.

No, Obama is a polarizing figure because he supports radical points of view, and has on several occasions shown a fair amount of contempt for some of the American people.  From his support for Unions, or the philosophy that Americans don’t pay enough for gasoline, or the belief that the Constitution is a fundamentally flawed document, or his promises to destroy the coal industry, or his openly derisive remarks about the voters in Pennsylvania bitterly clinging to their guns and their religion, he is the anthesis of the “uniter” that he claimed he wanted to be.

I don’t need to be a racist to be critical of the President.  And my curiosity about all the things we don’t know about him doesn’t have to be motivated by racism either.  We used to know a whole lot more about the people who sought the office.  It was part of the “getting to know you” dance that candidates used to have with the voters.  Yet, in comparison to other candidates, we knew so little about this one.  A young man with what appeared to be an unremarkable career, punctuated by leaps up the ladder of elective office, and a record that demonstrated little other than an unwaivering commitment to abortion.  A man who a slobbering press made out to be “smarter than Spock” and “like a God”, and yet had no record to support it shy of his attendance at a prestigious law school and little else.  A man who appeared articulate, as long as a machine told him what to say, and a blithering idiot when it wasn’t available.   No, if there are questions that people still harbor about this President, the fault lies with him, and with the press, who decided that it was more important to sell his hope for change than it was to sell his resume and history.  For him to chastise the American people for still caring about this instead of being “serious”, rather than actually working to gain their trust and their confidence reveals more about him and his character than I think he really wanted to.

It really isn’t us, Barry.  Its you, and this ridiculous pose of entitlement that you adopt.  It was offensive in the last election cycle, when you acted as if you really didn’t want us to know any more than what you wanted to tell us about you, and it has only gotten more grating in the years since.  The good news is that now you have a record that you have to run on.  The shibboleth of racism isn’t going to have the same degree of shutuppery that it carried in times past.  And quit lecturing us about the seriousness of things.  We don’t get to hop on Air Force One whenever we want to go on a friend’s television show before a grueling day pressing the flesh with campaign donors; we work for a living.

Cross-posted at Taxes, Stupidity, And Death.

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Why Bother With Facts? Why Finish The Thought? Let Feeeeellllinnnggss Be Your Guide.

Despite trying to keep ahold of ten tigers tails in both my personal and professional life, I still find some moments here and there to log on to Facebook, and keep up with friends and family.  Today, I did so to find some family and friends posting this clip and crying about fascism, dictators, class warfare, and how it was threatening to democracy.  My curiosity was peaked, so I decided to take one for the team and watch the Maddow clip.  While I feel dumber and insulted for the experience, I’m still glad I did, because, as is the case with many such complaints, there is more to the story than what is presented.

I’m sorry, but in order to follow along, you have to watch.  Closing your eyes helps.

Done?  Great. 

Let’s proceed.

The family member’s post referred to this as being akin to a “dictator” because the emergency manager appointed by the state could void union contracts and strip the local elected officials of their power.  If that was all I knew, I might share some alarm, but having grown up in Michigan, I could recall that the state took over the City of Flint, and stripped the local elected officials of authority at the time.  I got on google to confirm this, and found an article about it on the World Socialist Website as the first hit in the search.  The article, dated November 16, 2002 states:

Flint, Michigan, the fourth largest city in the state with a population of 125,000, is in receivership. The municipal government in the former center of the General Motors auto empire has been plunged into bankruptcy as a result of successive plant closures, capped by the recent shutdown of the Buick City complex.

***

In May of 2002, Republican Governor John Engler declared a financial state of emergency in Flint and began proceedings to implement a state takeover. Engler named Ed Kurtz, former president of a private business college, to oversee Flint’s finances.

On August 20, the Michigan Court of Appeals overturned a lower court ruling that had temporarily halted a takeover by the state. A September 14 court ruling reaffirmed this decision, effectively ending attempts by the city council to block the takeover.

Since then Kurtz has proposed draconian budget cuts in an effort to erase a $40 million deficit. The cuts come at a time when Flint’s social services and infrastructure are already in a state of near-collapse. Among the proposals under consideration are layoffs of firefighters, the closure of community centers and cuts in trash collection.

So it sounds to me like there was already a legal basis for the state to “takeover” municipalities, and make financial decisions in the stead of local elected officials.  I noted that this occurred when the city was in receivership which is a nice way of saying “bankruptcy”.

The other notable takeaway from the story is that a mayor in his third term was unable (or unwilling) to come to terms with mounting deficits.  If only the taxpayers who continued to elect this mayor were the ones affected by his incompetence, this wouldn’t be an issue.  However, the state of Michigan shares property tax revenue with cities throughout the state, so Flint’s budget deficits didn’t affect just Flint residents; it affected all state taxpayers.

Of course, this still doesn’t tell me what law the state relied on before, or how what is now being proposed is different, so I kept digging.  The next helpful clue I found was this story by Michael P. McConnell of the Daily Tribune.  The Tribune article described more about what the state is currently up to.  One useful passage:

The GOP-dominated state House this week passed major revisions to the emergency financial manager law, Public Act 72, which would allow the state to take over a community’s operations before it goes into receivership. The revisions, which have yet to be passed by the state Senate, also grant emergency financial managers more authority to nullify union contracts and dissolve city councils.

So I glean that:

a)  There is an emergency financial manager law already in effect;

b)   And the proposal gives the emergency managers more power to nullify union contracts and dissolve city councils. [Emphasis Mine]

Back to the Search Engine.  The law in question, Public Act 72 of 1990 already provided the governor with the ability to declare a financial emergency in a local unit of government, upon recommendation of a review team which investigates and issues recommendations.  The state treasury provides a great summary of how this process works here.   And keep in mind, the overall bill was made law back in 1990.  There have been some amendments in intervening years, but the end results that I see my family and friends complaining of have already been in place, and used in cities such as Flint, Benton Harbor, and others.

So I decided to look at the text of the law currently in place.  One subsection that jumped out at me:

141.1221 Additional actions by emergency financial manager. 

Sec. 21.

(1) An emergency financial manager may take 1 or more of the following additional actions with respect to a unit of local government in which a financial emergency has been determined to exist: 

(p) Exercise the authority and responsibilities of the chief administrative officer and governing body concerning the adoption, amendment, and enforcement of ordinances or resolutions affecting the financial condition of the unit of local government as provided in the following acts:

(i) The home rule city act, 1909 PA 279, MCL 117.1 to 117.38.

(ii) The fourth class city act, 1895 PA 215, MCL 81.1 to 113.20.

(iii) The charter township act, 1947 PA 359, MCL 42.1 to 42.34.

(iv) 1851 PA 156, MCL 46.1 to 46.32.

(v) 1966 PA 293, MCL 45.501 to 45.521.

(vi) The general law village act, 1895 PA 3, MCL 61.1 to 74.25.

(vii) The home rule village act, 1909 PA 278, MCL 78.1 to 78.28.

(q) Reduce, suspend, or eliminate the salary, or other compensation of the chief administrative officer and members of the governing body of the unit of local government during the financial emergency. This subdivision does not authorize an emergency financial manager to impair vested retirement benefits. If an emergency financial manager has reduced, suspended, or eliminated the salary or other compensation of the chief administrative officer and members of the governing body of a unit of local government before the effective date of the amendatory act that added this subdivision, the reduction, suspension, or elimination is valid to the same extent had it occurred after the effective date of the amendatory act that added this subdivision.

Which would pretty much cover stripping local elected officials of their authority already.  Check.  To start at the beginning of the Act as it currently exists, start here.

So what does the new bill change?

One explanation is in Craine’s Detroit:

Here’s how the existing law works: A review of a city or school district’s finances is triggered when one of several events happens, like payless paydays or a failure to meet pension obligations. The state treasurer puts a review panel in place to evaluate the local government’s fiscal health, and if there’s a financial emergency, an emergency manager is appointed.

Amendments to state law under discussion include expanding the list of events that can trigger the state review that leads to installation of an emergency manager, changing the powers of local elected officials during the emergency financial manager’s tenure, giving an emergency manager the power to modify or terminate labor contracts, allowing an emergency manager to consolidate or eliminate departments and allowing a current or recent elected official to serve as emergency manager.• Under the existing law, an emergency manager can renegotiate union contracts but not break them. The amendment would place some restrictions on the emergency manager’s ability to break contracts, namely, to prove it’s necessary, based on the financial emergency and the good of the public. Contract modifications would be temporary.

I found the article useful because it presented the potential challenges, and discussed the pros and cons of the proposed legislation without the end of the world hyperbole that Butch put on the story.  The bills which have passed the House are HB4214-HB4218.  I decided to see if I could find where the emergency manager now had the authority to disincorporate cities.  I found it on-line 7, page 32 of HB 4214.

(cc) For municipal governments, disincorporate or dissolve the municipal government and assign its assets, debts, and liabilities as provided by law.

Of course, there are objective limitations on the use of this power that are enumerated in the bill.  It isn’t the arbitrary whim that Butch alleges.  But then, I’m sure that this was just an oversight on her part.

And for those who still want to ascribe sinister motives to the law, I direct you to the findings of the legislature when the law was initially passed in 1990:

141.1202 Legislative determinations. 

Sec. 2.

The legislature hereby determines that the public health and welfare of the citizens of this state would be adversely affected by the insolvency of units of local government, including certain school districts, and that the survival of units of local government is vitally necessary to the interests of the people of this state to provide necessary governmental services. The legislature further determines that it is vitally necessary to protect the credit of the state and its political subdivisions and that it is a valid public purpose for the state to take action and to assist a unit of local government in a fiscal emergency situation to remedy this emergency situation by requiring prudent fiscal management. The legislature, therefore, determines that the authority and powers conferred by this act constitute a necessary program and serve a valid public purpose.

There really is a reason for it.  If municipalities and school districts are so mismanaged that they cannot afford to provide the basic services that they are supposed to provide, then the state can and should step in to put that entity back in a place where it CAN provide those services.   Many of the powers decried as harbingers of fascism and dictatorship already existed.  The change that I predict is the most likely to be used is the power to void collectively bargained contracts, and frankly this doesn’t trouble me.  For years, public sector unions have used collective bargaining to the taxpayers detriment.   These public servants aren’t competing with other people for the job, and yet they have an enormous club at their disposal in the form of collective bargaining, and they could come to the table secure in the knowledge of two very salient facts.

One, the unions know that the people they are bargaining with aren’t using their own money; they are using everyone’s money.  (And the government officials negotiating with the unions know this too.)

Two, the unions have often made VERY generous contributions to the election campaigns of the people they will be facing across the negotiating table.  This would be a little like you or I buying the boss his job before we sat down to talk about the terms and conditions of our employment.

Unfortunately, the problem with these kinds of arrangements is that even other people’s money is a finite resource, as state and local governments across the land are starting to figure out.

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A Trust Betrayed

    I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which I am about to enter: So help me God.

An oath.  73 words.  Defined as “a formally affirmed statement or promise accepted as an equivalent of an appeal to a deity or to a revered person or thing; affirmation.”  And something serious to many, but not all.

It is easy to get lost in the horror of what madness can do.  In the world of a 24 hour news cycle, people can often find themselves barely treading water in the rushing tide of blood libel unleashed by partisan media hacks pretending at neutrality and sanctimony, but we have the right to expect better of a select group among us.  These are the people who put themselves forward as qualified to represent us, and they are set apart by the duty that we trust them with.  It is good to remember that no one is perfect.  Humanity at its best will still be flawed.  Mistakes will be made, judgment will be clouded.  Nevertheless, if one accepts the public trust, then one also has a minimum obligation to not to betray it.

And yet this is exactly what has happened in the wake of the attempted assassination of Representative Gabrielle Giffords, as several of her contemporaries have proposed legislation that offends the freedoms guaranteed by the document that they swore to support and defend.

One day after this tragedy, Congressman Robert Brady proposed legislation that would make it a Federal crime to to use language or symbols that could be perceived as threatening or inciting violence against a federal official or member of Congress. 

“Perceived as threatening” casts a very wide net.  And then there is that little matter of the First Amendment that very plainly states “Congress shall make no law…abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press…” .  In Congresses past, Representative Brady might have had an excuse for forgetting such a plainly written prohibition, but seeing as we were still on a media hue and cry about the stupidity/waste of time/waste of money that occurred when the incoming Congress read the Constitution and Amendments just last week when a mentally ill man succumbed to his urges, it seems to me that he loses this excuse. Maybe the Representative was in the rest room when the part of the Constitution that he is rushing to assault was read?

He isn’t alone in this attack on a Constitutional pillar of our society.  Representative Jim Clyburn has also taken up arms with his proposal to revive the long-dead “Fairness Doctrine” to insure standards to guarantee balanced media coverage.  Even if I thought he meant it, I can see that what he proposes will hinder free speech, and since I’m fairly certain that his idea of “balanced” and mine are not the same thing, I’m even less in favor of such a proposal, especially since the Democrats’ preferred method of achieving such goals is to altogether forego the legislative process and go straight to regulation by government agency.  Having someone else do the dirty work at his suggestion doesn’t relieve him of the oath that he took, either.

These two are not alone, however. 

Representative Peter King has decided that further restrictions on firearms are an appropriate response:

“It is imperative that we do all that we can to give law enforcement the tools they need to ensure the safety of New Yorkers and prevent an attack before it happens,” King said at a news conference with New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg. “That is why, as chairman of the Homeland Security Committee and co-chair of the Congressional Task Force on Illegal Guns, I will be introducing legislation that would make it illegal to knowingly carry a gun within a 1,000 feet of certain high-profile government officials.”

Now I would be hard-pressed to think how this law would prevent an insane loner who thinks that he is being controlled by grammar from deciding that he is going to take a shot a Representative or Senator, but I can see that law-abiding citizens could get caught up in nebulous enforcement of “knowingly” carrying too close to a government official.

I suppose that we could think of this as a test.  They failed, and its good that we know that now, because it tells us something important.  These are people who by virtue of their position will be looked to for leadership.  Emergencies and crises are trying times for all.  That does not excuse forgetting their primary duty.  And either by accident or design, these repositories of the public trust have either let themselves get carried away in the hysteria rather than remaining calm and providing an example to others, or they have seen an opportunity, and chose to act like people who rule, rather than people who govern.

Congress is a place where it is possible to find fame.  There are those who have walked its halls, and are remembered as legends, and those who should be, and this is why it is easy for their focus to become misplaced.  But in truth, the real stars of this process are the American People.  They are the ones who, election after election, preside over a peaceful transition of power, regardless of the rhetoric or its tone, and present an example for the rest of the world, where change is often accompanied by bloodshed.   This can only be possible because of the genius of the Constitution, and the freedoms it guarantees. 

Anyone who lets themself get carried away by emotion to the degree that they would assault what they swore to protect fails those whom they represent.  Anyone who purposely designs against it after undertaking the responsibility to defend it shows a contempt for the people who entrusted them with the duty, and an unforgivably cynical outlook by asking for that trust in the first place. 

While it is disappointing to have members of a new Congress that is more filled with promise and an emphasis on the right things than we have had in a long time, we are fortunate that these failures have occurred so early, because it gives these Representatives ample time to redeem themselves, and us time to seek others to fill their offices if they don’t.

Talking With The Left: A Basic Lesson

One of my prized possessions is my dictionary.

It isn’t just any dictionary.  It is Webster’s Encyclopedic Unabridged Dictionary of the English Language.  It is just shy of 3 1/2” thick.  It contains detailed definitions, pronunciations, and diagrams.  I bought it for $14.oo at the Horrocks’ Store in West Lansing.  It was a trusty companion through three years of law school earning a Juris Doctor, and was an aid in the year earning an LL.M.  It has illuminated the meanings of many words encountered in my various sojourns into literature and technical reading, as well as the writings of the Founders and Framers of this country.  And I need to get a new one, because this one has failed me completely.

Allow me to explain.  This dictionary is superb.  I couldn’t ask for a better guide to the English Language.  It is a book that has done for my vocabulary what my Bible has done for my soul.  It is invaluable when explaining various aspects of thought and the world around us.  There are few tools finer for understanding all that is.  And that’s the problem.  It is not a helpful lexicon for trying to talk to liberals, progressives, or Leftists, because they spend so much time in the elaborate constructs of whatever the approved outlook and nomenclature is this week. 

Whether it is out of a concern that a word might offend, or the motive that will always be tied to the use of a word, or the need to reject the plain meaning of a word and replace it with something different, conversations with any member of the above-named group can seem like a Twilight Zone experience until you realize that you only think that you are speaking the same language as the other speaker.

Because I like to help peoples’ understanding, I thought that in the midst of yet another “controversy” where laying blame, finding ways to vilify specific people, and increase government control over more areas of our lives is an apparent goal, it might be helpful if I recap what I have learned of the Left’s familiar, yet completely alien lexicon in order to reduce what would otherwise be an inevitable frustration.

Marriage:  A term that gays and lesbians in monogamous relationships simply must have applied to their relationships, despite centuries of the word specifically describing a formal, often meretricious relationship between a man and woman, which gave children legitimacy and a stable home life, as well as for the man and the woman themselves, thus providing the bedrock upon which society was built.

Hate Speech:  Speech of conservatives that leftists consider to be offensive.  [While this sounds like a reasonable standard, keep in mind that for most leftists, merely questioning, let alone opposing what they propose, is offensive, and it only goes downhill from there.]  Despite the protests and alleged evidence of such speech from the Left, this is indeed a myth, as everyone knows that only conservatives can use hate speech.

Violent, Vitriolic Rhetoric/Political Speech/Political Discourse (or a similar variation thereof):  Spirited Political Speech and/or Expression engaged in by Conservatives.  It may evoke physical imagery, perhaps violent, perhaps hyperbolic, but purely a means of expression by Conservatives.  It is considered dangerous, and a “threat to democracy”, because of the well-documented and catalogued propensity to violence in people of conservative leaning, and the equally well-documented and catalogued inability of conservatives who hear such speech to restrain themselves from acting on the violent imagery presented in such speech.  Because of these remarkable phenomena, conservative icons must be held to the highest standard, and whenever a high-profile violent act is committed, all such icons are expected to apologize for their guilt, which is the result of having engaged in such an exercise of what they mistakenly believe to be a fundamental right of citizenship.  Despite the protests and alleged evidence of such rhetoric from the Left, there simply is no corollary.

Tolerance:  The idea that no matter what belief a conservative might hold based on their faith, their experience, or history, they cannot oppose an idea they do not like, and must entertain the practices, observations, speech, and conduct that may offend them, because they do not have the right to offend others.  Tolerance may also require conservatives to suppress their own ideas, practices, observations, speech, and conduct, out of deference to that of others, simply because to do otherwise is deemed intolerant.

Inclusive:  Not just allowing, but celebrating beliefs, practices, attitudes, and behaviors of anyone but conservatives.

Diversity:  The concept that all cultures and viewpoints have exactly the same weight and social value, and therefore, maintaining a “diverse” balance in the public sector, in various professions, in higher education, and virtually everywhere that it can be enforced by government (outside of the media, of course) is higher social imperative than merit and hard work.

Liar:  Someone who tells the truth, especially if it is contrary to the narrative or meme the leftist wants to discuss.

General Welfare:  Government entitlements and benefits for some paid for by the few who actually pay taxes.  These run the gammut from Social Security to mohair subsidies to grants to study the flow rates of different kinds of ketchup to midnight basket ball for innercity youth who should be at home sleeping so they can get up bright and early the next morning and go out and look for a job.  In otherwords, whatever the leftist politician says it is.

Taxes:  The duty imposed upon those in society who take the risks and become successful to provide for those who lacked the courage to do the same or the initiaive to at least get a job and tend to their own needs and wants themselves.

American Exceptionalism:  Myth of American achievement based on merit, an unreasonable work ethic, ingenuity, and the economic system that provided the incentive for individuals to aspire and labor toward it.

Terrorist:  Any government or individual that is willing to use force against ideologies bent on kidnapping, maiming, or killing Americans. 

George W. Bush:  Hitler/Terrorist.

Dick Cheney:  Hitler + Eichman/Terrorist.

Al Qaeda:  Freedom fighters.

Rush Limbaugh:  detestable reich wing ideologue and head of the Republican Party.

Glenn Beck:  A crying charlatan and threat to liberty (and no, you can’t have any further explanation).

Sarah Palin:  Threat to reproductive freedom and embodiment of all that is vile, wrong, and disgusting about conservatism.  Namely, belief in God, using and bearing firearms, loving animals because they taste good, especially grilled to medium rare, having children instead of aborting them, staying married to the same person longer than a few weeks, and putting a family before a career, and still managing to be successful.   Also notable because her political speech is the reason why schizophenics snap and try to assassinate politicians that they have been stalking for years.

The Rich:  People who make more than $200,000.00 a year. They must be vilified because they don’t pay enough taxes.

Capitalism:  Economic system that makes all good, honest, hardworking people poor as church mice while “The Man” enjoys every conceivable excess that the labor of those hard-working people can afford to buy.

Corporations:  Evil capitalist constructs forced into existence in the 1950′s whose sole purpose is to rape Mother Gaia, take advantage of the working man, poison the bodies and souls of the average person, completely crowd out all political speech that is not their own, and make their rich fat cat executives even richer, fatter, and cattier.

Private Property:  Everything earned by the labor of the poor that the evil rich keep them from having.

Communism/Socialism:  Everyone gets what they need, and everyone pays what they can…except for our leaders, who deserve more than everyone else, but they’ll make it work this time, really, they will.

Judaism:  A made-up ridiculous religion of evil Zionists who control the currency and have designs on controlling the world.

Christianity:  A made-up religion of fundamentalist zealots, which threatens important societal institutions like abortion, promiscuity, homosexuality, the hypersexualization of children, and the exploiting of them through these means by opposing them, and saying so out loud.  It is undeserving of Constitutional protection, and no effort should be spared in stamping out any public expression of it.

Islam:  A peaceful religion that is harmless to western society, in contrast with those evil, disgusting, and vile Christians and Jews.

Political Correctness:  The unwritten moral code by which the above-defined is enforced in society.  For those who refuse to self-censor in accordance with its parameters, there are many who will enforce it, despite the fact that no one asked them to, and despite the fact that some may truly resent their meddling and insistence that we abandon all we hold dear to “do it their way”.

In addition to these definitions, you should also keep in mind that the various types and applications of double-standards, and changing defintions of goals when conversing with a Leftist.  These will most often be manifested in conjunction with a presentation of facts and evidence to demonstrate whatever point you are trying to make.  Instead of becoming frustrated with a technique that they would never left you use with them, think of it instead as an opportunity to gauge just how far removed from reality they really are.  If a calm rebuttal and recitation of a few easily provable facts is met with shouts of “CHIMPYMCBUSHCHENEYHALIBURTON!!!!”  or “HATEYMCHATEYHATER!!!!!111!!!” or a quick change in the direction of the conversation or the end goal of whatever is being discussed, reasonable dialogue is probably not going to be the end result of your foray into their world.  In that case, you can choose to seek assistance from someone else, or continue to gauge your own tolerance for useless endeavors.

There are certainly more defintions that could be added, and I welcome your submissions to this lexicon, as it may end up being invaluable in trying to communicate and have a dialogue with these people than we share a continent, but no longer a common culture with.  Some day, we might even help some of them to rejoin reality.

The Reason

For all the sound and fury about America not being a Christian nation, once again, we have come to that time of year when the government, and the retail temples for which little is sacred will close early, and then remain closed for a whole day to observe the holiday of Christmas…a day which bears the name of Christ.

While some outlets of government, such as public schools have chosen to remove his name from break which they take, his name is still attached to the holiday that the schools dare not name as it tumbles from the lips of excited children, who cannot be blamed for their jubilation and exuberance about all that the celebration brings, even if it does tend to detract from the reason we observe the celebration with his name.

This is a singular phenomenon. Government does not observe other religions in this fashion. It does not shut down for Muslim holy days. The birthdays of Buddha or Confucius are not marked with empty offices and closed stores. The radio is not filed with Zoroastrian carols at any time of year.

And while those who stridently believe in “a wall of separation between church and state” that the architects of our government never envisioned, and that would have indeed shocked and dismayed them attempt to erase these links in the name of preserving the wall that did not exist until 1949, we continue as if there is nothing at all arrogant in presuming that people more than one hundred and fifty years removed better understood what was intended than the people who wrote the blueprint. It is a fiction laid bare by what occurs this time of year, when we celebrate the birth, life, and death of a man who was God in the flesh, who came to freely give the ultimate gift, knowing that there would be too many who would reject what he gave, and would condemn themselves to a life of bondage, and an eternity of suffering before they would accept that which was freely given.

And during this time of year, when things fall still and silent, in his name, it is an occasion to reflect of the real harbinger of hope and change, humbly born, exalted and abandoned, and resurrected in real transformation. I know that people can still be sobered by the account of this life which came to save all others. I first heard this song a few years ago, and I still feel the gravity of it every single time I hear it.

Merry Christmas to all, even those who doubt or reject the gift…it is freely offered just the same.

By Hook or Crook…

their agenda will become your agenda, because the given inches always yield to the taken miles, as this story from Yahoo news so helpfully foreshadows:

After years of contentious debate, the Senate on Saturday voted to repeal the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy that blocked gays and lesbians from serving openly in the military.

While critics, including Arizona GOP Sen. John McCain, said the repeal would cause a deadly distraction on the battlefield at a time of war, the lawmakers backing repeal equated the vote to other historic moments including the end of racial segregation among troops in the 1950s and the decision to allow women to attend military service academies in the 1970s.

Which isn’t an accident.  If they can paint it in the same light as real civil rights legislation, then it makes it much easier to maintain and forcefully assert the fiction in the federal lawsuits against state law that are to come.  And make no mistake, they will come.

“It is time to close this chapter in our history,” President Obama said in a statement hailing the vote’s passage. “It is time to recognize that sacrifice, valor and integrity are no more defined by sexual orientation than they are by race or gender, religion or creed.”

But sacrifice, valor, and even integrity can find a home in the deeds of the worst of the worst when the circumstances are right.  That was the whole point of films like The Dirty Dozen, and The Devil’s Brigade, wasn’t it?  Taking convicted criminals, some of whom were under sentence of death, and siccing them on the enemy, demonstrating that such characteristics were not reserved for the law-abiding and the basically “good”?   Still, branches of the military do not generally make a habit out of integrating criminals and other people with “evil” habits and tendencies, that have manifested themselves in the choices that they have made, into military units as a matter of policy.   And yet, because of a near-constant erosion in the basis of our law, this is exactly what the Senate has decided to do.  What makes it an act of far-reaching consequence is that it will not stop there.  The will of a small vocal minority, and a larger minority that has installed itself as the “Decider” and arbiter of what is and is not good for society will not let it. 

Yet the repeal is far more than just a single policy shift. The overturning of “don’t ask, don’t tell” is likely to create a ripple effect in addressing other gay-rights issues, as many states continue to debate issues including same-sex marriage and the right of gay partners to share benefits the same way legally married couples do. With gay service members serving openly, it will become difficult for policy makers to justify, say, withholding visitation rights or survivor benefits to the same-sex spouse of a wounded or fallen soldier. [Emphasis Added.]

The casual observer might simply take this as an inspired bit of wishcasting, but anyone who has been paying attention sees it as another in a series of careful plays intended to bring about a specific result.  The fact is that we have no rational basis for treating this policy shift as a victory for civil rights, and those who today enjoy the great strides made in the area of civil rights should be insulted that the implication that “discrimination” on the basis of what can only be conclusively proven to be a choice is the same as discrimination on the basis of an immutable condition, such as race or gender, or of specifically protected behaviors like religion or creed.   The Left does not see it in this light, because their elation at sticking their fingers in the eyes of those they brand as “extremists” or “fundamentalists” has specifically blinded them to the reality of what they have done.   That realization will be for a later day, if indeed they are still capable of drawing any lines between things that are acceptable for a society and things that are not when that day comes.  The over/under on that being the case is about even at this time, and it has occurred to me more than once that once it is no longer socially acceptable to call evil what it is, then drastic changes to the definition of good cannot be too far behind.   We have already started down this road, and while we are not in danger of putting our imprimatur on things like obvious theft and murder as society, there is already a groundswell under way that supports it in less obvious forms, and have already made compromises between it and our formerly better understanding of such things.  The more obvious manifestations will be the last to come, not because they are obvious, but because the only thing that purveyors of the new, who reject the old philosophy and understanding, hold sacred is the self, and that once their own possessions are forfeit through proceedings that commonplace avoid process, or consist only of a perfunctory circuit through the motions, and they cry foul, will the most perceptive among them realize that they long ago removed the rationale allowing them to hold these last vestiges of an old order by any rational legal means.

The truth is that this policy will not benefit the military or society at large.  We are not made stronger when one of the things we must prepare for are policies and procedures to deal with new claims of discrimination, with merit, and perhaps more importantly, those without, and the way to add finality to such determination without completely removing it from those closest to enforcement in the attempt to give it the appearance of legitimacy.  All of what this entails will unquestionably bring more cost, more complication, and more distraction to a profession already arguably more weighed down in the issues of diversity, fairness, and equality than it is in the idea of merit, which benefits the service, and actually training to achieve and maintain physical and technical superiority over our nation’s enemies.

By casting it as a victory for Civil Rights, the Deciders and those they would empower delegitimize Christianity, when it was Christian churches which have been major players in the Civil Rights movement, a move that somehow does not appear to them to be a logical disconnect in any fashion, or call their previous victories into question.   This makes them either hypocrites or opportunists.  Given their support of self-proclaimed “christian leaders”, who tell them exactly what they want to hear on this subject, (a position that can only be reached by picking and choosing what portions of scripture support their conclusions) I’m coming down hard on the side of opportunist.   However you choose to define it, it brings us to the same place:  When we start redefining evil, first by accepting it, then by legitimizing it, a creeping redefinition of what we place value on as being good must also follow.  And it has.  This is the elephant in the room that these modern-day crusaders for the Religion of Self™ refuse to recognize.   If we decide that choice is the basis of a civil right to behavior largely unthinkable 20 years from now, there is no basis for denying a civil right on the basis of choice for things that are still largely unthinkable now.  These crusaders scoff at such notions, all the while failing to recognize that there are already those who are laying the same kind of groundwork that they themselves have put down to get us here.  If you look hard, you can see the future, and what it holds isn’t pretty.   Everything will be permissible, except for believing that some things should not be.  And the worst part is that the trap is already springing.  Those who claim that these things aren’t related are blind to the steel teeth closing about them already.   They have already made such things possible, and arguing that they will never be acceptable to society ignores the fact that they already are.

Meet The Parents

The most unpardonable sin in society is independence of thought. – Emma Goldman

Having already been raised by parents, I am increasingly resentful of a government that continues to substitute its judgment for my own, justifies its temerity in doing so by deigning to tell me it is for my own good, and then charging me exorbitantly for it.  And it happens at all levels of government, from the overreaching leviathan in the District of Columbia, to the irresponsible spendthrifts in Olympia, to the bold petty tyrants here in my own county.

What’s that?  I’m being ridiculous?  I don’t think so.  Let’s start with this example from the Tacoma News Tribune:

The Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department this morning released a press statement saying that El Gaucho Tacoma has agreed to a permanent injunction that bans smoking in its facility.

Agreed to?  More like got tired spending the money to try to be able to enforce their property rights.
 

“We see this as an important step for the health of Washington State residents, most of whom don’t smoke, and who overwhelmingly voted to approve Washington’s Smoking in Public Places Act,” stated Anthony Chen, department director. 

I see this as an abuse of power, of the kind that bureaucrats in county public health systems, and other local agencies and bureaus love to engage in…for our own good, of course.

 
Earlier this year the department sued to close the smoking lounge, which had recently opened after renovations that owner Paul Mackay said he believed satisfied restrictions in the state’s 2005 non-smoking law.

A smoking lounge.  Not a lounge where they simply permitted smoking.  A lounge designed specifically for smoking.  [While this squib doesn't have all the details, the lounge was completely separate from the rest of the restaurant, had state-of-the-art ventilation systems, and even a separate entrance.]  This wasn’t about a restaurant that some whiney non-smokers could not frequent because of owners who couldn’t manage to offer a non-smoking alternative, because the restaurant is non-smoking, and as I said, separate from the smoking lounge. 

“When the owners failed to comply with several requests, and a letter of compliance from the Health Department, they were served with an injunction to stop allowing smoking in the lounge. On April 23, 2010 a Pierce County Superior Court issued a preliminary injunction against El Gaucho Tacoma and the VIP Lounge,” the department said.

To translate from the power-grubbing bureaucratese “This uppity property owner had the nerve to try to allow patrons to engage in a legal activity in a way that would not disturb those who frequented his establishment, but did not smoke, but he didn’t come, hat in hand, to ask our permission first, and that had to be dealt with.”

I would have liked to see Mackay do an end run and open a private club in the location occupied by the smoking lounge…the kind where anyone can be issued a membership card at the door for a nominal fee.  A private club is not a public place, and therefore the county health department nannycrats can get bent.  But knowing how one little birdie can make a phone call to another little birdie, and the next thing you know, converting the liquor license from a restaurant to a private club can end up being fraught with all sorts of …difficulties, especially with things like the approvals from the local authorities.  I imagine that this was the better business decision for Mr. Mackay.

As for the over-reaching in Olympia, I have the following agenda items in Governor Gregoire’s State of the State address from this past January:

“For all of us who are called to public service, now is the time for leadership. Now is the most important time to serve,” Gregoire said. “For as difficult and challenging as the decisions that lie ahead of us will be, now is the time to be decisive, and now is the time for compassion. It’s the time to make a real difference for people. It’s the time to truly shape the future of Washington state.”

———————————————————————————

*High-quality health care: Gregoire asked the Legislature to consider restoring funding for the state’s Basic Health Plan, hospice services and maternity care for at-risk mothers.

———————————————————————————

“The December budget I presented was balanced, and it certainly sets new, and admittedly untenable, policy directions,” Gregoire said. “But the balanced budget also would force us to abandon the values that define this state — fairness and compassion. It would be unjust, unwise and unfair to abandon our friends and neighbors when they need us most.”

Now, leadership is not continuing to fund entitlements when you are having trouble doing the things that you’re actually supposed to be doing.  Since this speech, our budget hole in this state has increased more than $5 Billion.  The response was to issue a whole lot of new taxes in a down economy, so Nanny Government could continue to make decisions for and offer entitlements to its dependents, rather than focusing on the things that really are its job:  law enforcement, funding schools, fixing the roads, and other basic government functions.  And when she starts whining about not meeting “basic Washington values” because I’m not reducing the quality of health care I provide for my family because they aren’t compelling me to pay for it for someone else, it takes all that I have not to start shouting “THERE IS NO FAIRNESS IN TAKING WHAT I WORK FOR IN ORDER TO PROVIDE FOR MYSELF AND MY FAMILY SO YOU CAN GIVE IT TO SOMEONE ELSE!  MAKING PEOPLE DEPENDENT UPON GOVERNMENT IS NOT “COMPASSIONATE”!  QUIT CONFUSING YOUR ABILITY TO BUY VOTES WITH MY MONEY WITH BEING “COMPASSIONATE’!!!”

When some of the new taxes the legislature tried to impose to continue being generous with my earnings ended up on the initiative ballots in November, and going down in flames, it was like Christmas came early.  The problem is, the politicians in this state continually have a problem understanding that when the voters say “No!” to their taxes, we really mean it.  Just ask anyone in Pierce, King, or Snohomish county about their thirty dollar license tabs for their car.  My last one only cost me $120, because I get to “give” generously to subsidize public transit that no one rides.  However, I am very pleased that there are bus drivers who make in excess of $100,000.00 a year when I have the equivalent of a masters and a doctorate in a real discipline, and make less.  To borrow a line from our Dear President, these employees of ours should be thanking me.  Especially when they can expect raises this year, even though I haven’t seen one in a few years now.  It is rumored that the governor will recall the legislature to a special session, which, if it like the prior special sessions, means that the Democrats will leave Republicans out of the meetings, decide that they cannot possibly make any cuts to entitlements, and instead, will pass legislation that will raise taxes instead.  I think you can probably make book on it.

And then there is the Federal Government’s assumption of authority it does not have, by which it substitutes its judgment for your own.  Case in point?  FCC Commissioner Michael Copps:

“I think American media has a bad case of substance abuse right now. We are not producing the body of news and information that democracy needs to conduct its civic dialogue. We aren’t producing as much news as we did 5 years, 10 years, 15 years ago. We have to reverse that trend or I think we are going to be pretty close to be denying our citizens the essential news and information that they need to have in order to make intelligent decisions about the future direction of their country.”

Not to press a point too finely, but who the Hell appointed him to judge the quality of the news being reported?  No, really.  Last I looked, the federal government didn’t have a “Ministry of Information” to decide what is, and what is not news, or even good reporting.  In fact, I’m pretty sure that’s our job, and I don’t recall any ceremonies where the American people formally surrendered this right to some stinkfaced bureaucrat who doesn’t like what he hears on CNN or FOX.  In fact, since the retirement of the so-called Fairness Doctrine back when we still had more than a handful of sensible people in the government, I thought that the whole point was to let the people decide with their viewership, their listening, and what news outlets they chose to spend their money on.  That is why the Old Grey Lady is in the tank; once people had a chance to decide for themselves, the outlets that only told the stories they wanted you to read/hear/see, and in the manner that they wanted you to ingest simply could no longer compete.  The approved lies, mischaracterizations, and spin were no longer palatable.  And yet this kaikocracy is intent on squelching any message it doesn’t approve of.  That is why The Chicago Messiah™ and his flunkies, toadies, and watercarriers are constantly contributing to the ambient noise level with their insistence that FOX is “bad for the republic”.

“Nowadays, when stations are so often owned by mega companies and absentee owners hundreds or even thousands of miles away — frequently by private equity firms totally unschooled in public interest media — we no longer ask licensees to take the public pulse. Diversity of programming suffers, minorities are ignored, and local self-expression becomes the exception.”

Diversity?  The opinion of a few numb-skulled Supreme Court Justices aside, the federal government, or any government  for that matter, has absolutely no interest, compelling or otherwise, in diversity.  Diversity did not enrich the lives of the people of the Balkans.  It did not make their lives better.  It did not provide a rich society, and preserve basic human dignities and rights of its citizens.  Instead, it brought strife, war, death, misery, and chaos.

“Diversity” as it is currently embraced by too many in government, is destructive to society.  It substitutes identity for merit.  It purposely divides, and keeps divided the people of a nation.   It doesn’t reward and encourage exceptionalism for its own sake (and the blessings to society as a whole that come from such a strategy).  It discourages a national identity, character, and vision, and fosters tribalism and territorial battles in culture, the allocation of resources, and in the defining of goals.  Its final end will be devolution in to discord and violence, rather than achievement and excellence.

Last I looked, local self-expression wasn’t really an issue.  Public television has local outlets, many of which carry locally produced and broadcast programs.  Radio stations report local news, and many carry locally produced programs.  Cable television has public access shows.  And the internet makes anyone with something to say and the ability to find any of several free blog hosts, a one-person publisher.

Let’s not kid ourselves.  Increasingly, we are met in all walks of life by government in all its varied forms that refuses to remain within the strict confines we have set forth for it.  Its appetite for control is rapacious, and unquenchable.  We yield every day, in venues where the government simply has no business being in our business.  Mandates to ban incandescent lightbulbs.  Telling business owners that they cannot cater exclusively to smoking patrons.  Refusing to stop buying votes from its dependents with our money, and ignoring us when we tell them that they cannot have more of what we earn.  Forcing societal schemes upon us that will not, and by their very nature, cannot benefit society.  Fiats that turn social values on their heads by unelected jurists and bureaucrats, when the people have very clearly refused such measures sought to be undertaken by elected officials, and the craven collaboration between the cowardly elected officials and the unelected functionaries who in the absence of any mechanism of accountability to “We the People”, eagerly dictate to us that which we have already refused…for our own good, of course.

What I’d like to know is if I, at age 39, 21 years free of the authority of my parents, and having earned a high school diploma, a B.A., a J.D., and an LL.M., and having been a parent myself for over 11 years still haven’t earned the right, and am not smart enough to make my own decisions, what makes those busybody bureaucrats, many of them the same age or younger, and some less educated, empowered and intelligent enough to make them for me?

ENOUGH.

It’s time to push back.  Hard. 

Going After A Real Criminal Must Have Been Too Difficult

There are real penalties for running contrary to the Left’s agenda…especially when you have the temerity to not share their priorities and you dare to move freely in their territories.  This cautionary tale comes courtesy of the Philadelphia Daily News.

Unlike a Somali youth who did his damnest to carry out the cold-blooded murder of innocent people, and was only stopped due to FBI involvement, Brian Aitken is serving a 7 year sentence for transporting two handguns, ammunition, and magazines he legally owned.

Brian, a law-abiding citizen who was in the process of moving from Colorado to New Jersey after a divorce, expressed some disappointment with his life after his ex-wife cancelled a scheduled visitation with his son.  Mom, a social worker, was concerned that he might do something stupid, and called the police.

 Sue Aitken, a trained social worker, decided to play it safe and called police, but she hung up before the 9-1-1 dispatcher could answer. Police traced the call and showed up anyway, and found two handguns in the trunk of Brian’s car.

Thanks, Mom!  Clearly another case of government involvement improving the lives of average, everyday citizens.

But unlike that Somali youth in Oregon, Aitken had the misfortune to have offended the gun-fearing-wussies (GFWs) of New Jersey, and there would be no mercy for this heinous crime of transporting firearms and ammunition legally owned.

When Mount Laurel police arrived at the Aitkens’ home on Jan. 2, 2009, they called Brian – who was driving to Hoboken – and asked him to return to his parents’ home because they were worried. When he arrived, the cops checked his Honda Civic and, inside the trunk, in a box stuffed into a duffel bag with clothes, they found two handguns, both locked and unloaded as New Jersey law requires.  [emphasis added]

Aitken had passed an FBI background check to buy them in Colorado when he lived there, his father said, and had contacted New Jersey State Police and discussed the proper way to transport them. [Again, emphasis added]

Transported in the manner that the law required, just as he was informed when he asked NJ authorities.  But wait!  There’s more!

In the Garden State, Aitken was required to have a purchaser’s permit from New Jersey to own the guns and a carry permit to have them in his car.

He also was charged with having “large capacity” magazines and hollow-point bullets, which one state gun-control advocate found troubling.

“What little I can glean about the transportation issue leaves me puzzled, but a person with common sense would not be moving illegal products from one place to another by car,” said Bryan Miller, executive director of CeaseFire NJ, an organization devoted to reducing gun violence.

Imagine that, a gun-fearing-wussy who fears guns for a living can’t imagine how it might be that a person might not consider that ammunition legal in one state might not be legal in another, and that the owner might not think to check on that when moving.  Huh.

And it couldn’t be that there might be an exception for someone moving, could there?

New Jersey allows exemptions for gun owners to transport weapons for hunting or if they are moving from one residence to another. During the trial, Aitken’s mother testified that her son was moving things out, and his friend in Hoboken testified he was moving things in. A Mount Laurel officer, according to Larry Aitken, testified that he saw boxes of dishes and clothes in the Honda Civic on the day of the arrest.

Mom said he was moving, car full of stuff that people might have in their home, but would be unusual to carry around in your car for no reason, friend said he was in process of moving in.  Damn.  That is a hard one to figure out.  At least for the judge and the prosecutor.

The exemption statute, according to the prosecutor’s office, specifies that legal guns can be transported “while moving.” Despite testimony about his moving to Hoboken, a spokesman for the prosecutor said the evidence suggested that Aitken had moved months earlier, from Colorado to Mount Laurel. “Again, there was no evidence that he was then presently moving,” spokesman Joel Bewley said.

After Nappen raised the moving-exemption issue, he said, the jury asked Judge Morley for the exemption statute several times and he refused to hand it over to them. Morley, in a phone interview, echoed the sentiments of the prosecutor’s office.

“My recollection of the case is that I ruled he had not presented evidence sufficient to justify giving the jury the charge on the affirmative offense that he was in the process of moving,” Morley said.

Yes, because dishes and clothes in the car, and the testimony of your Mom and your new roommate isn’t sufficient evidence.  And that whole “presumption of innocence” and conviction on evidence “beyond a shadow of a doubt” thing?  It doesn’t apply to those who would assert rights the nanny staters do not wish you to have.

Of course, the Judge’s mental acuity really isn’t all that, either, as you note at the end of the news story.

November 11

Veterans’ Day is one of those holidays that always makes me sad, not simply because of the reason for the day, but because of the significance that some people never dwell on. In an age where a large portion of society wants to complain that any war, not just the ones we are currently involved in are manifestly unjust, it is easy to lose sight of two inevitable truths:

1. No matter how much you may believe war is unjust, and that violence is never an answer, the fact is that sometimes, wars come to you, no matter how you conduct yourself; and

2. Whether we are discussing a war of aggression or of self-defense, the men and women who answer the call do so with the full knowledge that they may be expected to give everything, including their lives.

It is for the people who answer that call, and not the cause for which they sacrifice, that we honor on this day.

Every conflict in which our nation has fought in the last century or so has had its own flavor, and as a friend recently reminded me, this is captured in the memorials which commemorate them. On this day, I refuse to pass judgment determining whether a particular conflict is good or bad. Good or bad, Americans fought, and Americans died. Some never came home, some came home in boxes, and some came home with their innocence forever surrendered to places with unpronounceable names, or generic designations. Some came home haunted by the things they have seen, and some came home able to reconcile horrors that they witnessed with a life filled with the mundane and the ordinary. And good or bad, some conflicts just touch us, even if we didn’t fight in them.

For me, that conflict would be Vietnam, probably because so many of my friends’ fathers served there. Some of you in the same age group as me know what I am talking about. Those moments where someone’s Dad would lapse into a story about something they saw there…something that changed them. And to a man, every one of them I knew growing up had an undeserved shame. For some it was the shame of coming back to being spit on and called “Baby Killers” by people who had never been there, and never did what they had to do. For some, it was guilt over being alive when people they had known, had lived with, and had trusted with their lives, fell long ago in steamy jungles on the far side of the world. And for some, it was shame over betrayal. The betrayal of their sacrifices, and the lives of friends and colleagues by a government that micro managed the war, and eventually did what was politically expedient rather than what was right. The shame that only a betrayer can feel in leaving so many to the certain death at the hands of an evil and destructive political philosophy that treats men as interchangeable parts and not the unique individuals they are. A political philosophy that we promised to save them from.

That is a heavy weight for anyone to bear, and it is bitter compensation for those who gave up their childhood and innocence for the service to their country. It can be easy to forget that this conflict, like all conflicts, was ultimately dependent on the soldier. I took some time reading some letters home from one of these soldiers to remind myself of that. I think this one helps to bring this idea home. I don’t know if Mike made it home. I hope that he did.

Jan 12, 1969
Dear Family,
I got the package yesterday, and I was real grateful. We are low on C-rations, and there is hardly any water.

We are supposed to be out in the bush for 4 days, but it ended up we’re still out here. It’s been about 2 weeks now. We are guarding this road. Making sure no VC get anywhere near the 1st Battalion, 1st Marines area, (1/1). Every afternon I’ve got gate watch. We all take turns from dawn to dusk. We just have to check out the ID’s of the civilians going up and down the road. If they don’t have an ID they are suspected of being a VC. The gate is a big cement grave. Our whole perimeter is set up in a big graveyard. In fact, our bunker is on top of a cement grave with sandbags on all sides. On one end we built a little hootch, and our machine gun is set right on top where the body was laid. I think that’s pretty cool. Inside the hootch there is the tombstone with all kinds of Chinese writing on it. At night we have a candle burning inside to see by.

Last night I went on a fire team-sized patrol, a fire team consists of 4 people. The leader was some corporal who I don’t feel safe with at all. He got here in Vietnam the same time I did, but he was put in charge right away because he’s a corporal. He goes by the book on everything. If we get hit we aren’t supposed to fire back, only on his command. I’d rather be with somebody that has a little more time in country, and knows what to do.

In about 5 months I will be the machine gunner for this squad, and in about 7 months I will be team leader. All the other guys in this gun team will be going home around the same time. Now I’m just the last ammo humper, but I don’t mind just as long as I gradually learn my job.

Soon I will have T-I-C, (time in country), and the experience. That’s what counts here.

I’m learning this language ok now, but the Marines only know a few phrases like “come here,” “go away,” “let me see your ID,” etc; but I want to learn more than this.

Mom, you were wondering what kinds of birds they have here. They are beautiful, nothing like in the USA. There’s swans, and big white birds with long necks, and ordinary birds with crowns on their heads, and then other birds that look like sparrows, only half their size.

I’m glad to hear you had snow. I kind of wish it would snow here once in awhile.

Enclosed are some pictures. Could you save them for me? They’ll get ruined over here. You can have the ones of me if you want. Also enclosed is part of a diary I started when I first got here. I’d better go now.

Mike

I can’t make you ponder the meaning of this day, and I can’t make you thank a veteran for doing what they did, but I will suggest that the kind of humility that comes from doing so can enrich your understanding of the day.

Thank you to Jim’s Dad, Troy’s Dad, Dan’s Dad, MCPO Airdale, BrewFan, Dick, and all the other veterans I know. Thank you.

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