Thursday, November 27, 2008

Depravity Defined

What would cause a group of people to watch and encourage as someone distraught commits suicide? Of course, it happened online -- and maybe that contributed to their emotional detachment. But the comments of "OMG", "LOL" and "hahahaha" as 19-year-old Abraham Briggs of Florida purposely overdosed on camera are more than troubling. I mean, it's one thing to watch something like that in helpless horror (if you are a part of that chat room) but to be entertained by it? What is that about?

Then, in Great Britain, 42-year-old Kevin Whitrick, father of two children, hung himself on webcam in an internet chatroom. One of the chatters said, "Go on, jump! I'm waiting. Look at him wriggling, he can't even kill himself properly!" There were chatters talking to him over text chat, microphones and video -- some urged him not to do it, but others were egging him on. 

Suzanne Gonzales, 19, also in Florida, committed suicide after frequenting for nine weeks an Internet newsgroup called ASH (Alt.Suicide.Holiday). This group glorifies killing oneself, using phrases such as "transitioning," "exiting," and "catching the bus" to describe the act. An ASH member called "River" wrote, "Suzy had me proof-read her notes and we went over all the details of her exit, just to be safe." SAFE?!? What, exactly, is a safe death, pray tell?

And then there's 13-year-old Megan Meier who, upon having a "boy" tell her that this world would be better without her, wrote back that he was the kind of boy a girl would kill herself over and went to her room and hung herself. In this case, though, it wasn't a "boy" at all -- but a neighborhood mom of a girl who had been fighting with Megan. The mother was convicted this week on three misdemeanor charges and has not yet been sentenced. She could face up to three years in prison and $300,000 in fines. 

I would ask what this world is coming to, but I'm afraid of getting an answer...

Thursday, November 20, 2008

An Uninformed Electorate

In subjecting myself to my usual round of torture, I was reading the New York Times this morning. When skimming their headlines, I was fascinated to see an editorial titled, "Flunking the Electoral College." Designated a "quadrennial ritual born in the economics and politics of slavery and the quill-pen era," the New York times has decided the Electoral College has to go. According to them, "it actively disenfranchises voters and occasionally (think 2000) makes the candidate with fewer popular votes president. American democracy would be far stronger without it." 

Although usually they are lovers of nuance, the NYT seems to see this issue in black and white. They say of the history of the electoral college:
"It was believed that it would be easier for them to vote for local officials, whom they knew more about, to be electors. It is hard to imagine that significant numbers of voters thought they did not know enough about Barack Obama and John McCain by Election Day this year."

Ah, yes... it's true. Significant numbers of voters did think they knew enough about Barack Obama and John McCain by Election Day. Does that mean they were truly well informed? 

John Ziegler is working on a documentary titled, "Media Malpractice... How Obama Got Elected."  Yes, I admit this sounds highly partisan -- I think it's safe to surmise that Ziegler is not an Obama fan. But his point rings true regardless. He commissioned a Zogby poll to question Obama voters on the issues. The findings were interesting:

57.4% could not say which party controls congress.
71.8% had no clue Joe Biden had to quit a previous campaign because of plagiarism.
82.6% didn't know that Barack Obama won his first election by getting his opponents kicked off the ballot.
56.1% did not know Obama started his political career at the home of two former members of the Weather Underground. 
86.9% thought that Palin said she could see Russia from her house (but that was Tina Fey from Saturday Night Live).
93.8% identified Palin as the candidate with a pregnant teenage daughter.

You can see the full poll results and a video clip of Obama voters being interviewed at the polls on Election Day at Watching the video clip was enlightening... at the end, one person questioned said she realized now that she's not as informed as she thought she was... then considered for just a moment and said that she doesn't think it would change her vote, though.

With such an uninformed and apathetic electorate, how will America stand?

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Furthering An Agenda Through Detroit Automakers

On October 31st, the New York Times had an editorial supporting throwing money at Detroit automakers. Their piece was so incredibly silly, I had to blog on it that day - you can click on "October" on the right to read it; it's the first blog post there. Well, today the NYT had another tasty treat on the same subject... 

Called, "Saving Detroit From Itself," it's another opinion piece that favors throwing a chunk of change Detroit's way. This time, however, the NYT has changed the tune a bit. They start out by saying:

We have seen a lot of posturing, but we haven't heard a lot of sense in the debate over whether the government should spend even more to bail out Detroit's foundering automakers.

Hmmm... they must be reading their own editorial page! But I digress...

They go on to say that Republican Senator Richard Shelby is wrong in saying the troubles of Detroit are "not a national problem." I agree with the NYT that problems as big as this one turn into a problem on the national stage. A loss of jobs on the scale of which they speak is a big deal and will affect the nation's economy as a whole. But just because it's a problem that will affect the entire nation... does that mean that the government has to intervene? 

Back in October, the NYT was saying that money should be thrown at the companies simply based on the fact that we can't let them fail right now - and that it made sense to do it even if it only staved off their inevitable failure. Now, they're saying:

...Congressional democrats and President-elect Barack Obama, who are pushing for many billions worth of emergency aid for the nation's least-competent carmakers, must ensure that tough conditions are attached to any rescue package. If not, the money will surely be wasted.

This goes beyond firing top management, forbidding the payment of dividends to stockholders and putting limits on executive pay - all necessary steps. The government should insist on a complete restructuring of any company it pours billions of public funds into.

What does it go to if it goes beyond those things? Improving fuel efficiency!! Building smaller cars!! According to the NYT, "If Detroit were willing to make smaller cars, as European companies do, it could probably achieve a fleet-wide average of 50 m.p.g. by 2020." Also, the restructuring "would mean that creditors would have to swallow a loss or accept equity - as under a regular bankruptcy filing. Restructuring would likely require more plant closures and layoffs." 

Ah... so I see!! The NYT wants the government to use this "crisis" as a means to grab for power and ownership of private companies and to push through their agenda of teeny death traps for American roads. Since throwing that cash at Detroit and implementing this agenda would also mean that everything else would proceed as "under a regular bankruptcy filing." 

I certainly hope not too many people fall for that one.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

A Rapid Decline Into Socialism

"For the last seven years we have had the highest corporate profit ever in American history. ...But it hasn't been shared, and that's the problem, because we have been guided by a Republican administration who believes in the simplistic notion that people who have wealth are entitled to keep it. They have an antipathy toward the means of redistributing wealth. And they may be able to sustain that for a while, but it doesn't work in the long run." -Rep. Jim Moran, Democrat of Virginia

This is a big problem for me. A disheartening development, actually. When Barack Obama made his "slip" and said something about how he thinks it's a good idea to "spread the wealth around," I thought that the American people would be outraged. I really did. And I think some of the Obama campaign managers thought so, too -- thus the attempt to destroy Joe the Plumber. But we were wrong... the American people weren't upset - not in vast numbers, anyway. There, instead, appears to be a gleeful acceptance of the notion. Gleeful enough to embolden other politicians to spout the same trash. 

I'm no economist, but it stands to reason (just common sense thinking here) that if you take money from the wealth creators in our society and distribute it to those less willing to create their own wealth, there's going to be a downturn in the growth of wealth. Truly wealthy people don't sit on a pile of cash, they invest that wealth into other wealth building ventures... this is how the wealthy grow wealthier. And in doing this, they create jobs. Which enables other wealth creators the opportunity to begin their own pot of wealth creation. 

I know that Obama's statement was that he wanted to take from the wealth creators a portion of that wealth and hand it out to other people to enhance their ability to create more wealth. But the fact is that every society has its share of sloths. And if you hand a sloth a check for $1000, chances are pretty good that instead of creating wealth with that handout, he's going to go buy himself something truly stupid with it and then hold his hand out again for more. It's a matter of character. (I know, these are not popular words. But they're TRUE.)

Obama's statement that the redistribution of wealth is "neighborly" or that our capitalist system is "making a virtue out of selfishness" are completely offensive to me. And I will be a recipient of the charity if Obama's plan goes into effect! But I have to tell you - I have friends who are in a higher income bracket than I. They already pay $0.50 on the $1.00 in taxes. When they found out this year that they are likely to owe an extra 15K in taxes at tax time, they were faced with the task of either working extra hard to make the 30K it will take to pay that tax bill or to take it from their investment accounts. How is this right?

I'm sorry to see the rapid decline into socialism that our country is making. I wish I could be angry with the Democrats for this, but that wouldn't be very honest of me. The democrats will take us down the highway as quickly as possible... but the Republicans paved the darned road for them.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

The Dangers of a Civilian National Security Force

"Loving your country shouldn't just mean watching fireworks on the 4th of July. Loving  your country must mean accepting your responsibility to do your part to change it. If you do, your life will be richer, our country will be stronger."

"We will ask Americans to serve. We will create new opportunities for Americans to serve."

"We cannot continue to rely only on our military in order to achieve the national security objectives that we've set. We've got to have a civilian national security force that's just as powerful, just as strong, just as well funded." 

"Our destiny as Americans is tied up with one another. If we are less respected in the world, then you will be less safe."

These quotes are taken from a speech Obama made in July. According to the AARP Bulletin, during this same speech, he "said he would make federal assistance conditional on school districts establishing service programs and set the goal of 50 hours of service a year for middle and high school students. For college students, Obama would set the goal at 100 hours of service a year and create a $4,000 annual tax credit for college students that would be tied to that level of service."

Okay - so Obama isn't even in office yet... and nobody knows what he's actually going to do once he's in. He clearly cannot deliver on everything he has promised because there's not enough money in the world to do so (much less in the current American economy). But what if... what if Obama does go through with this one? He talks about needing a civilian national security force that's just as strong and just as well-funded as the military... and then talks of having this security force made up of volunteer service. This is pretty funny, really. They say, "You can choose to do this or you can choose not to graduate high school," making it "voluntary" because people are "choosing" to do it. But if they're going to punish people by forcing them to live their lives without a high school diploma, that's pretty much taking away their choice. 

I have talked to people who think this is no big deal. Not such a bad idea... after all, Israel does it, right? Well, yes... in a way. Israel does have mandatory military service. The state of Israel has been a hotbed of terrorist activity and consistently on the receiving end of terrorist attacks for as long as I can remember. It seems to make a certain amount of sense to me that they would have mandatory enlistment there... But I'm not certain I'm ready to hold the Israeli government up as always doing everything right, so I don't see the "Israel does it" argument as very convincing. That said, this is probably something they're doing rather well and it seems to be something that works for them.

But there's another comparison being made all over the web... and that's the comparison to Hitler's "Hitler Youth" program. A small amount of background on this: The Hitler Youth stemmed from already existing German boys and girls associations (much like the Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts). The formal Youth Party was formed with only about 300 members in 1926, before Hitler had taken office as President. Before WWII was over, the Youth Party had grown to close to 9 million members, mostly because of the membership requirement established in 1940. The requirement was that all children (with an emphasis on boys) must belong. The training the children received in this group was all aimed at furthering the goals of the 3rd Reich. 1, fertility and child-bearing among women, increasing the Aryan bloodline and fostering a firm family-base in nazi ideology. 2, Erase old ideologies and other political ideologies. 3, The Hitler Youth program was quite successful in accomplishing its goals. 

According to an article on "," the reasons Hitler was so effective in getting people to comply with his evil agenda were complex, but involved the following factors: "high-minded promises, increased economic rewards, propaganda, and the inculcation of conscience-free decision making through the hrerprinzip. But one of the more formidable factors was in the setting apart of a generation of youth, totally immersed and educated in the principles of the National Socialists."

Führerprinzip, German for "leader principle," is a prescription for a system with a military structure applied to civil society at large. It was not, however, invented by the Nazis, but by a German philosopher who claimed that certain "gifted individuals" were "born to rule" on the basis of Social Darwinism. During Nazi Germany, Führerprinzip was used because unquestioning obedience to superiors was supposed to produce order and prosperity. 

I am not writing this to compare Obama and his potential leadership to Hitler and the Nazis. President-elect Obama has (obviously) not yet even taken his oath of office. I have no idea what he will end up doing during his time as President - and I think it's obvious his agenda will not include increasing the Aryan bloodline. I am, however, writing this to say that his proposal to have a civilian national security force that is as strong and as well funded as the military is a dangerous idea. It gives far too much power and control to the central government. 

When Hitler was elected to office in Germany by popular vote, they did not live under totalitarian rule. They had many elected offices throughout their districts. The Nazi party was actually the National Socialists party, shortened to Nazi. The people of Germany were not somehow more evil than us. They were not more stupid than us. The man they elected turned out to be horribly evil, and they had some programs in place (as well as forming some after his election) that enabled that evil to continue unchecked. 

I don't look at Obama as a Hitler... but I do think that we need to know our history -- and be ever watchful and aware that if we don't know it, we just might be doomed to repeat it. 

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Who is Rahm Emanuel?

Congressman Rahm Israel Emanuel was born in Chicago in 1959. He is the son of Benjamin M. Emanuel, a former member of the Jewish militia Irgun (operated from 1931 to 1948 during the British Mandate of Palestine). 

He, as a small child, attended a Jewish day school (Bernard Zell Anshe Emet Day School), and after that attended public schools. He attended summer camps in Israel. 

During the 1991 Persian Gulf War, Rahm was a civilian volunteer in the IDF (Israel Defense Forces). 

Emanuel has earned a reputation as a "take no prisoners" politician and carries the nickname "Rahm-bo." He worked for the Clinton administration, and on the night after the 1996 election, he was "so angry at the president's enemies that he stood up at a celebratory dinner with colleagues from the campaign, grabbed a steak knife and began rattling off a list of betrayers, shouting 'Dead!... Dead!... Dead!' and plunging the knife into the table after every name."

During a two and a half year period working as an investment banker (1998-2002), Emanuel amassed a personal fortune of $16.2 million. In 2000, he was named to the Board of Directors for Freddie Mac, a position that paid him $31,000 in 2000 and $231,000 in 2001. While on the board (and, obviously, ever thereafter) Freddie Mac was steeped in scandal involving campaign contributions and accounting irregularities. Emanuel went from being on this board to being a congressman. 

The top five contributors to Emanuel's 2008 campaign were UBS AG at $63,700, AT&T at $49,950, Blackstone Group at $47,000, JPMorgan Chase & Co. at $45,700, and Grosvenor Capital Management at $38,900. The top five industries contributing to his campaign were Securities & Investment at $600,500, Lawyers and law firms at $172,851, Insurance at $134,400, Commercial Banks at $121,200, and Health Professionals at $113,350. Emanuel did not self-finance any of his campaign in 2008.

Emanuel serves on the House Ways and Means Committee, which has jurisdiction over tax legislation, Social Security, Medicare and other entitlement programs. Illinois Republican Rep. Ray LaHood said of Emanuel after the 2006 election cycle, "He legitimately can be called the golden boy of the Democratic Party today. He recruited the right candidates, found the money and funded them, and provided issues for them. Rahm did what no one else could do in seven cycles."

Clearly Rahm Emanuel is a passionate individual. He has a very liberal voting record and is dedicated to the survival of the Jewish state. He doesn't appear to fear criticism from anybody. Some are saying the choice of Emanuel as Chief of Staff by Obama was strange given Obama's promise to bring a new tone to Washington... but I don't agree. After all the questions about whether or not Obama would support Israel, he couldn't have chosen anyone else to more clearly articulate his support.

I highly doubt anybody closely following politics for the last year expects Obama to govern from the center. I wouldn't expect Obama to choose for his cabinet anybody I would align myself with politically. I have strong disagreements with Rahm Emanuel in policy - but given what Obama wishes to accomplish in his presidency, I think Emanuel probably a perfect choice in getting those things done. 

Friday, November 7, 2008

My Post Election Umbrage

I know there are a lot of conservatives out there who are feeling downtrodden and depressed. I, personally, began to wonder if I was a jinx on anyone for whom I voted... until I realized that Virginia Foxx did, indeed, win her re-election bid. Finally! ONE person I voted for managed to eke out a win. 

One would think that an Obama win would be what caused me to take offense. Not the case, however. I'm not offended by his win. And he won by enough of a margin that I'm not even inclined to think ACORN cheated him in. Nor am I the type to say that the man "bought the White House" as some have. True, he had plenty of money to campaign with -- but while he outspent McCain, he also out-messaged him. Barack Obama had a message that the American people wanted to hear. (Not this American person, but obviously more wanted to hear it than not.)

McCain could have clearly articulated the opposing view and made a more distinct choice for the American people. He chose not to do that and instead rushed in the middle of his campaign to broker a bailout the American people clearly didn't want. So no - I'm not offended by an Obama win. 

I am, however, deeply offended by the news media. Well, the media and the shameless people who are namelessly attacking Sarah Palin. "Anonymous critics" shouldn't be quoted in the press. Period. You have a complaint about somebody? You want to air a grievance? Fine... I can get that. But have the balls to attach your good (or not so good?) name to the petty plunder. The fact that the press is gleefully reporting on this is, at best, irresponsible journalism. 

In light of this and other events, I would like to take this opportunity to bring an old and much more positive discourse to the people.

In 1917, William Tyler Page of Maryland wrote the American's Creed. It goes like this:

I believe in the United States of America as a government of the people, by the people, for the people; whose just powers are derived from the consent of the governed; a democracy in a Republic; a sovereign Nation of many sovereign States; a perfect Union, one and inseparable; established upon those principles of freedom, equality, justice, and humanity for which American patriots sacrificed their lives and fortunes.
I therefore believe it is my duty to my country to love it; to support its Constitution; to obey its laws; to respect its flag; and to defend it against all enemies.

I, too, choose to align myself with the American's Creed. An election that didn't go my way is not enough to dampen my love for my country or my hope for its future. We are still a democracy in a Republic. We still have voting rights and the power of the people. What we need is to educate the American public in regards to American heritage and civics. 

There are five main principles on which our country was built that contributed to our success as a nation.

1. Our belief in God. In answering to a power higher than ourselves or our government, we had a higher sense of personal responsibility.
2. Limited government. Limiting government limits national expenses and gives surplus capital for tools and a good living standard.
3. Individual freedom. Each person could work at what they chose.
4. Incentive. Each person had the right to keep the fruits of their own labor. 
5. Competition. This is the one thing that makes businessman and employee alike serve his fellow man well.

These principles were put into writing by Walter Knott of Knott's Berry Farms. Along with these principles, Mr. Knott also had this to say:

America became a place where the common man could be uncommon, where a man could become whatever his energy, his intellect and his manhood could make him. This was the challenge, the hope, and the American  heritage that touched and inspired hearts everywhere.

That freedom which our founding fathers gained for us is the cornerstone upon which this nation is built. We in America have been able to deliver in unbelievable abundance what Marxism, collectivism, Socialism and fascism can only promise. But freedom rests, and always will, on individual responsibility, courage, and faith. It was exactly these qualities which have made the United States the most prosperous nation the world has ever known.

What truly concerns me is that for two centuries, because of the individual strength of each citizen, we guarded and nurtured our hard-won freedom. Gradually, though, as we have become more prosperous, we have also become less willing to shoulder individual responsibilities. More and more, we have become content to let the government do what the individual should do. Either we will again assume the responsibility required by freedom or that light will go out in America. And if it does, it will go out all over the world. If the wealth, luxury and leisure that our system has brought us make us smug and complacent, willing to load our responsibilities on our government, we will lose - and deserve to lose - all these fruits of freedom.

Alexis de Tocqueville concluded about our nation's success, "America is great because she is good; when America ceases to be good, then she will cease to be great."

William O. Douglas, a liberal Supreme Court justice, wrote in 1952, "We are a religious people whose institutions presuppose a Supreme Being." We are becoming less and less a religious people - and while many in America still assume they answer to a Supreme Being, that Being is looking less and less like any sort of God of the Bible. 

Daniel Webster said, "God grants liberty only to those who love it and are always ready to guard and defend it."

Calivn Coolidge reminded us, "The meaning of America is not to be found in a life without toil. Freedom is not only bought with a great price; it is maintained by unremitting effort."

How many people in America today have even heard quotes such as these, much less have them implanted into their memories? Without the people being educated in these areas, there is no hope for America's future. It is, thus, our responsibility to do all within our power to educate through positive political discourse. Because, as Edmund Burke put it, "All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing."

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Everybody Senses Impending Doom

So I was watching FOX News the other day - and they had a commentator on there who was saying that he would be extremely surprised at this point if McCain came out the winner on Tuesday. Frankly, I'm with him - and not just because Obama is up in the polls. Truth is, McCain has not been running his campaign in a very effective way. I know, I know... they didn't ask me. But consider the fact that McCain got a serious boost from his choice of Palin. People were excited. So what does McCain do? He hid her away for a while... then threw her to a couple of interviews with unfriendly news anchors. Now, when the polls are beginning to tighten a bit, he throws out two new ads - one on global warming (not even sure where this one is airing), and another one (airing in Pennsylvania) showing Hillary and McCain all cozy. Apparently, he's trying to gather the Hillary-ites to his fold. The problem is, he still hasn't gathered his own base. 

But I open up my NYT mail today to find an article titled, "Obama Is Up, and Fans Fear That Jinxes It." It appears that it's open season on doom and gloom. I guess this is proof positive that it's another tight election. 

I just love what passes for "news" at the NYT. A two page online article... all about how liberals cope. Mr. Downs is 53 years old and a "confirmed liberal and profound Obama fan." I had no idea that liberals went through confirmation now, too... Interesting. But Mr. Downs says, "Look, I have this sense of impending doom; we've had a couple of elections stolen already. The only thing worse than losing is to think that you're going to win and then lose." Patricia Kihlman, 54, says, "Oh, God, I'm optimistic, but I can't look at the polls. I'm a PBS/NPR kind of person, and, O.K., I do look at some polls. If he doesn't get this, I'll be crying so hard." (Everybody, quick - vote for Obama to keep Patricia from crying.) Shana Rosen has apparently told her boyfriend that their love life is on hold until after election day. (So now liberals are going through confirmation and fasting. They're beginning to sound downright religious.) Lisa Sirizawa, 44, says, "I'm cautiously, cautiously optimistic. Though I worry: Am I going to be hurt again?" And Lucy Slurzberg, a psychotherapist, reports that 90 percent of her liberal patients speak to her of their electoral fears during their sessions. 

According to the same article, conservatives are not "immune from the worry vapors." But the psychotherapists are reporting that, "Wealthy Republicans are very anxious about taxes. They are not pretending to vote for the black man." Really?? So it's down to liberals needing to feel the love and not have another election stolen from them while the only conservatives out there sweating it are the rich folks who sit on the therapists couch and talk about how the thought of higher taxes sends them into paralyzing fear?

But one of my favorite paragraphs in the article was this:

Many liberal Democrats watch MSNBC, but some say it sounds too much like comfort food. CNN serves its election coverage with a stiff little chaser of doubt for Democrats, and many liberals say CNN and NPR are their regular evening companions. If they really want to rub the sore tooth of worry, they dial over to the "Obama's radical friend Bill Ayers" channel, otherwise known as Fox News.

I finally get it. I know now why the liberals are so positive that any time a conservative wins an election, it's been stolen. The liberals generally live in concentrated areas. They are densely located in particular patches... and they don't get out of their bubbles of liberalism much. They don't connect with the population at large, nor do they wish to. They're better than that - and besides, watching a news network like FOX just drives them crazy. So they're better off sticking to MSNBC and CNN. One liberal put it this way, "We live in a bubble. I drove to Monterey recently, and I saw my first McCain placard ever."

To hear the NYT tell it, liberals and conservatives everywhere are so distressed about the election they're all seeking therapy. And I thought I was obsessed with politics. Guess I'm not that bad. I guess blogging is my therapy. That and telling all the news I hear to my husband (who is occasionally not so appreciative of my informative efforts). After a long day at work, I guess he doesn't want to come home every day to, "Guess what Obama did today!" All the more reason to vote for McCain, I guess. If Obama isn't elected I can't possibly do that to my man for the next four years.