Saturday, March 29, 2008

Gore-Obama ’08 ?

Every now and then I come across an article that wipes everything else I wanted to write about off the table. In this case, it was an article from Time Magazine on Wednesday. Is Al Gore the Answer? by Joe Klein was too good to pass up. In his article, Mr. Klein makes the argument that with Obama and Clinton going at each other "with chainsaws" the Democratic Party may need a new hope. In his words, "…I'm rather embarrassed to admit that I'm slouching toward, well, a theory: if this race continues to slide downhill, the answer to the Democratic Party's dilemma may turn out to be Al Gore."

In the remainder of the article, Mr. Klein outlines a scenario where Al Gore could be offered the nomination at the convention if the super delegates don't give it to Obama or Clinton on the first run. Mr. Klein accepts how improbable this scenario is. For example, Obama would have to go along with it, and bring his delegates with him. With the bad blood between the Clintons and the Gores, I think a Gore – Clinton ticket is even further off in fairy land than a Gore – Obama ticket. Mr. Klein says this dream ticket may be the only way for the DNC to salvage what should have been an easy victory this year.

Before I point out the problems with this scenario, I want to say that Gore getting the nomination is my dream as well. I think any ticket with the ex-VP as a Presidential candidate is easier to defeat than one with Obama or Clinton. First, there is no question that race has now been injected into this campaign. The Democratic party has long claimed it is more in touch with minorities than the Republican party. What happens if the elders of the DNC decide the only way to salvage a win is to knock the first serious female candidate and the first serious black candidate out so they can put a white male in the race? There are already threats of rioting if Obama doesn't get the nomination. If Obama and Clinton were both cast aside for Gore, I think there would be real hell to pay.

Second, I believe most people misunderstand the nature of Mr. Gore's popularity. Sure there are plenty of environmentalists that think he is the second coming. However, most Democratic politicians like Gore right now because he isn't a threat. If he suddenly looks like he could be given the nomination, I think many high ranking Democrats would turn against him. The Clintons would surely attack him, and I feel confident Rev. Wright and his supporters would be very unhappy.

Finally, I would love a Gore nomination for one more reason. If Gore was to run, McCain and many Republicans (and possibly Hillary Clinton) would start pointing to Gore's inconsistencies on Global Warming over the years. Many of the little white lies he told in An Inconvenient Truth would be pointed out. He may continue to claim they were exaggerations used to make a point, but after Mrs. Clintons troubles with her memory and Kosovo, I don't think she would allow that to go unchallenged.

Let Gore get the nomination, I have popcorn and beer ready to watch the fireworks.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

The Imperfect Nothingness

It has been about a week and a half since Rev. Wrights words really hit the main stream media. It has been a little over a week since Sen. Obama (he-who's-middle-name-shall-not-be-mentioned for you Potter fans) first tried to distance himself from the Rev's words. At that point, Sen. Obama said he had never heard these remarks while in church. It has now been a little less than a week since Obama gave the speech that is suppose to end this news story.

However, the speech has become its own news story. If you get your political information from the TV, you might believe the speech was a modern day Gettysburg Address. If you read papers and opinion pieces, then you have probably seen mixed coverage of this speech. I believe most of the coverage has been wrong.

The speech, entitled A More Perfect Union, needs to be put in its proper context and then read. Sen. Obama has a gift for oration, so to cut out any of the theatrics, read it. First and foremost, this speech is damage control. The different sound bites from Rev. Wright have been hurting Sen. Obama in the polls. To continue his run for the Democratic nomination, and perhaps the Presidency, Obama needs to get this story killed, or directed in a path he is more comfortable with. Second, this is a campaign appearance. The Pennsylvania primary is towards the end of April.

I printed out the speech from Fox News. Their printable version goes on for seven pages. The speech is much like the rest of Obama's campaign, sounds good, but really full of nothing. There are a few very noteworthy references, my favorite are those that go back to our founding fathers. Obama raises many problems in the speech: racism, health care, and the war in Iraq to name a few. However, nowhere in his speech does he give a solution to any of them. Nowhere in the speech does he tell us what would be different about an Obama Presidency.

If anything, I find parts of the speech offensive. Obama says the sermons from Rev. Wright were bad enough they have the potential to widen the racial divide. He then goes into the following paragraph:

I have already condemned, in unequivocal terms, the statements of Reverend Wright that have caused such controversy. For some, nagging questions remain. Did I know him to be an occasionally fierce critic of American domestic and foreign policy? Of course. Did I ever hear him make remarks that could be considered controversial while I sat in church? Yes. Did I strongly disagree with many of his political views? Absolutely – just as I'm sure many of you have heard remarks from your pastors, priests, or rabbis with which you strongly disagreed. [Emphasis mine]

First, Sen. Obama recants what he had previously said about Rev. Wrights comments on Fox News. On Fox News, he hadn't heard these comments while he attended church. Now, he has. Secondly, no, I have never heard anything in my own church, or any church I have ever attended, that approached what was said by Rev. Wright. I am also offended that Obama condemns Rev. Wrights comments, but then assumes that every pastor, priest, or rabbi would say things equally offensive or racist.

Obama then goes on to draw a moral equivalency between Rev. Wright and his own grandmother. I won't quote the whole passage here, as it has been repeated everywhere. However, Sen. Obama seems to think that because his own grandmother confessed her own failings in private, it is the same as Rev. Wright telling one of the largest church's in Chicago that the United States deserved to have 3,000+ people killed on Sept. 11th. Or perhaps her own comments in private that hurt Sen. Obama's feelings as a child were the same as Rev. Wrights racist remarks from the pulpit of his church.

Sen. Obama puts the racism that people today in both the white and the black community face in some historical context, and tries to explain it from their perspective. When Sen. Obama tries to explain the, "…similar anger...," in the white community, he does so in a very insulting way. To quote the Senator, "Most working – and middle-class white Americans don't feel that they have been particularly privileged by their race. Their experience is the immigrant experience…" Sen. Obama would have us believe that white Americans who were born in this country can't feel these same things?

The insults and lack of answers continue for the rest of the speech. Obama uses many of the typical scare issues used in politics today: poor schools, health care, the housing crisis, out sourcing jobs, and the war in Iraq. Like many politicians, Obama gives no answers to these issues. As with the rest of his campaign, he says great things, but they have no real substance.

If anything, Obama's speech shows he is no different from any other politician. He tries to scare voters, he raises a number of issues, but he has no answers. At the end of the day, those who supported Obama in spite of Rev. Wright will continue to support him. Those who were going to vote for Hillary or McCain won't change their mind because of this speech. It was an interesting campaign stop, but nothing more.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

New School in the Neighborhood

I was flipping through the local paper this evening and found an article I thought I would share. There is a new charter school opening up in Atlanta that I am thinking of enrolling my daughter. The school, The Academy of St. Urban, is a non-denominational Christian school. In addition to the curriculum required by the State of Georgia, there are classes on the Bible and Christian history, as well as a "rigorous Latin program." The school is housed in the same building with the Catholic Society of Georgia, has a cathedral attached to it, and the Christian faith plays a very central role in the school. It is named for Pope Urban II, who was the Pope at the time of the First Crusade.

The school is very proud of the core Christian values taught at the school. Another selling point is that it is also a charter school. That means that it receives tax payer funding. According to the paper, in the 2006 to 2007 school year, The Academy of St. Urban received $65,260 from the state. I get the financial benefit of sending my daughter to a public school, with the education of a private school. What could be better?

It's too bad this school doesn't really exist. Well, at least not how I described it here. In fact, the above is based on an article by Robert Spencer discussing a new Islamic charter school in Minnesota. The K-8 school, Tarek ibn Ziyad Academy, has two campuses in Minnesota, is housed in the same building as the Muslim American Society, and has a mosque attached to it. The school offers a "rigorous Arabic language program", a carpeted space for prayer, and serves halal food. The charter school is considered a Minnesota charter school and really did receive $65,260 from Minnesota tax payers in the 2006 to 2007 school year.

If you're still not at least a little uneasy, the Muslim American Society has documented ties to foreign terrorist groups such as the Muslim Brotherhood. In 2006, during the "Flying Imams" episode, a number of people pointed out ties between prominent members of the Muslim American Society and Hezbollah and Hamas. And the St. Urban reference wasn't random either. Tarek ibn Ziyad is most famous for conquering what would become Spain in the year 711.

I am pretty sure the ACLU would be upset about my fictional school. Robert Spencer points out they haven't made a peep about the Tarek ibn Ziyad Academy…

Sunday, March 16, 2008

My Wife Writes to Congress.

Here is a letter my wife recently sent to our Congressional Representative, David Scott. I wanted to share this letter because I was very impressed with it. I encourage everyone to be vocal with your representatives, and my wife did just that. I have only made the most minor of changes. My wife reads this blog from time to time, so she can call me to task if I have changed the meaning of anything she wrote. My wife also mentions that the recent votes in the U. S. House place us in the "rich" tax bracket. That is because we make more than $30,000 a year combined, so if the House repeals the Bush tax cuts, our taxes will go up. I wonder how many other families out there make more than $30,000?

I am extremely disappointed in your recent votes on FISA and the 2009 budget resolution. My husband and I are doing our best to support our family on quality wages and you have the audacity to support a resolution that will ensure that you not only continue to spend, spend, spend, but that also increases our families taxes by nearly 100% over the next five years.

Your party has been beating the economic hardships into our heads for the past 2 years and yet the only thing that you think to do to help is to RAISE my taxes? How will that help my family and those business that we support? Would it not make more sense to LOWER our taxes so that we can continue to send our daughter to a quality private school (spending money on local business) continue to make repairs on our aging home (again, spending money on local labor forces and small business) and buy goods and services within our community.

My husband and I also spend many hours of our free time choosing to volunteer with our local Habitat for Humanity. This is a program that allows the local community to support those within their community without government involvement. This is the best way to help those in need. Have faith in Americans to see to their own and those that are in need. All of the government programs in the world cannot help those that will not first help themselves.

I urge you to put a stop to all of the wasteful spending that is in evidence in the 2009 house budget resolution and to make the tax cuts permanent. My husband and I are not financially rich, yet we do earn enough in our positions to place us in the "rich" bracket according to the IRS. Your "yes" vote to the 2009 House Budget Resolution will have an immediate adverse impact on my families budget and will only continue to "roll down hill" through the rest of the economy.

You can guarantee that I will do everything that I possibly can to provide as much support to your opposition in the 2008 congressional elections.

If you send a letter to your Congressman or Senator that you are particularly proud of, send me a copy along with who you sent it to and I will be happy to post it.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Senator Obama's "Hope"

Sen. Barack Obama has been campaigning on “Change”, “Hope”, and “Unity”. It would seem his long time Pastor, Mentor, and now political adviser believes in anything but that. Over the past few days, an assortment of Reverend Jeremiah Wrights sermons have become public knowledge. Many of the quotes from Reverend Wright are insulting, racist, and should have Sen. Obama supporters worried.

Reverend Wright and Barack Obama have a very long history together. The Obama’s began attending United Church of Christ in Chicago because of Rev. Wright. Reverend Wright officiated at their marriage, and baptized their kids. The title for Obama’s The Audacity of Hope is also the title of one of Rev. Wrights sermons. Barack Obama has listed Rev. Wright as a mentor and someone he bounces ideas off of from time to time. Recently, Rev. Wright has retired from the church to accept an advisory role in the Obama Campaign.

In Rev. Wright’s December 2007 Christmas sermon, he attacked Hillary Clinton for not being black, for not knowing what it was like to live as a black person, and because she, “…ain’t never been called a n-----r!” These were the Reverends words. He also said that President Clinton wasn’t good to black Americans. According to Rev. Wright, “Bill did us just like he did Monica Lewinsky! He was riding dirty!” These comments were greeted with cheers from the congregation.

There are now circulating plenty of hate filled quotes from Rev. Wright’s sermons. The ones that I find the most alarming are from 2003 and 2001. In 2003, Rev. Wright said, “The government gives them the drugs, builds bigger prisons, passes a three-strike law, and then wants us to sing God Bless America? No, no, no! Not God bless America! God d—m America! It’s in the Bible – for killing innocent people! God d—m America for treating her citizens as less than human!” And in 2001 sermon, Rev Wright says that America deserved the attacks of September 11th. He emphasized this by saying, “America’s chickens are going home to roost.”

Barack has said in the past that Rev. Wright is like family and he doesn’t always agree with the things he says politically. That simply isn’t enough. If Barack Obama is going to be President, he must condemn many of these comments in the strongest terms. Are we ready to elect a President who might share any of these views? While I haven’t seen anything conclusively proving that Sen. Obama was in the crowd at any of these sermons, there is no reason to believe he wasn’t either. Sen. Obama has called this pastor a mentor. It is very easy to believe that Sen. Obama and his family were present at these sermons, or at the very least were familiar with the Reverends beliefs. With these comments, one starts to understand why Michelle Obama said she never been felt proud of our nation. If you believe the comments of Rev. Wright, why would she be proud?

Many people have said they support Sen Obama because he wants change. Is this the kind of change they are looking for? A President who may believe “God d—m America?” A President who may believe that America got what it deserved on September 11th?

Monday, March 10, 2008

California Court of Appeals Strikes Again!

In February, the California Court of Appeals ruled that parents do not have a right to teach their own kids in their own home. The Court of Appeals decided that homeschooling was illegal, and was not protected by the constitution. The Alliance Defense Fund has a few articles up about the decision and has a link to the 18 page decision by the court.

There are a few facts that might be of interest. First, California law does not address homeschooling one way or another. According to the San Francisco Gate, “There is no provision in the California Education Code or elsewhere in state law that addresses the issue of homeschooling.” All the code says is that kids are required to attend school. In California, most parents fill out the proper paper work to have their home designated as a private school. According to the Gate, there are over 18,000 private schools in California with less than five students. However, where there is no law, the California Court of Appeals has taken it upon themselves to act as the Legislative Branch and write their own law.

Second, the original case didn’t deal with the homeschooling issue for these children. Again, in the words of the Gate, “[a]lthough the case did not involve the question of the children’s truancy, the court decision broadly addressed the legality of homeschooling in California.” The original case involved a charge of physical / emotional abuse by one of the parents. Apparently, the courts have decided that the best way to monitor this is to force the kids to enroll in public schools.

Finally, in the words of Bill Bennett, every parent is a teacher, but not every teacher is a parent. Parents are responsible for teaching their children many of life’s lessons. I think very few of my readers would argue for religious instruction in public school. The debate surrounding evolution usually touches many people’s nerves. However, if as a parent, I don’t like the way these topics are treated in school, I always have the right to teach my child at home. Children have been home schooled since before there was a United States. To have the California Court of Appeals decide parents don’t have a right to teach their children shows just how out of touch with reality the court is.

Thursday, March 06, 2008

Worried about Global Warming? See an Eco-therapist

I have become more and more reluctant to write about global warming on this site. It isn't because I think I am wrong. Every day more evidence comes to light that seems to indicate that I am write. What worries me is the attitude of some of my readers who believe in "man-made global warming". These readers seem to be getting more and more upset at anything that contradicts Mr. Gore's movie. I have always assumed these people simply can stand being wrong. However, I have found there is another reason: Eco-anxiety.

I wish I could take credit for discovering this. In the interest of full disclosure, I heard about it on today's Michael Medved show. He was interviewing an Eco-therapist named Melissa Pickett. Could this be the answer to the stress some of my readers have been feeling? I did a search on Google for both Eco-therapist and Eco-anxiety. Unfortunately, this field seems to be so new that it is hard to find anything on it. However, I did find one article from Columbia University written by Justin Nobel. With a name like Nobel… [insert Nobel Prize joke of choice here].

According to Mr. Nobel, "…a growing number of people have literally worried themselves sick over various environmental doomsday scenarios." This worry is apparently called "eco-anxiety." The "therapist" Medved interviewed today is also quoted in the article as seeing anywhere from, "…40 to 80 eco-anxious patients a month." Some of the symptoms of her eco-anxious patients include panic attacks, irritability, sleeplessness, and an "…eerie feeling that their cells are twitching."

If this sounds like you (and I know this does describe a few of you), there is hope. First, neither I, nor Political Friends, are licensed to practice Eco-therapy in this state, the state you are in, or the country you are reading this from (unless you are currently in Florin). Having said that, and if you think you might have eco-anxiety, I would recommend trying some of the remedies the eco-therapist recommend in this article. Some of them include: carry natural objects with you (they recommend certain minerals, I recommend grass or kudzu), or make environmentally friendly lifestyle changes. Personally, I would also recommend drinking. Again, I am not actually an eco-therapist.

I hope this has proven helpful to those of you who think we might destroy the planet in the next ten years due to those evil fossil fuels. If the environment should suddenly turn cooler, instead of warmer, then obviously any eco-therapy you have been going through should be continued.

Monday, March 03, 2008

Book Review: Lone Survivor

I was out of town this weekend (hence some of the delayed responses for other posts). I took a copy of Lone Survivor: The Eyewitness Account of Operation Redwing and the Lost Heroes of SEAL Team 10 by Marcus Luttrell and Patrick Robinson with me. I started the book at the airport on Friday afternoon, and finished it Sunday morning. This was really an incredible book and I couldn't put it down.

Lone Survivor is the story of Operation Redwing in Afghanistan. The operation called for a team for four Navy SEALs to stalk then capture or kill a known Taliban leader. Intelligence indicated that this particular leader could have 80 to 200 soldiers with him. Operation Redwing would end in the largest loss of life to Navy SEALs and U.S. Special Forces in America's history. 24 hours after the operation launched, Petty Officer Luttrell would be the only member of the operation left alive.

Luttrell’s recount of the firefight he and his teammates were in is incredibly gripping. His recount of what happened with his family in Texas during all of this also jumps off the page. When the media reported that the entire team had been killed (including Luttrell), an incredible five day ordeal began for his parents and brothers. Luttrell’s twin brother never once thought the missing SEAL was dead. The Navy also refused to list any of the SEALs as anything other than “Missing” until bodies could be found. Support began to come out of the woodwork for Luttrell’s family.

While Luttrell's family tried to get information, Luttrell struggled to survive. A local tribe took him in and protected him under Lokhay. Lokhay means, “…the population of [the village] will fight to the last man, honor-bound to protect the individual they have invited in to share their hospitality… [t]his is strictly nonnegotiable. “ Once the Taliban found out the village was hiding Luttrell, things continued to get tough for Luttrell. However, without the village, Luttrell never would have survived.

Lone Survivor is a page turner. The fights really come out of the page, and the ordeal Luttrell’s family goes through tugs at the reader’s heart. Luttrell explains his own feelings on the liberal media and on our own Rules of Engagement. Whether you agree with him or not, his words are worth considering because of the things he has seen. The teammates Luttrell describes are real Hero’s. Three of the members (including Luttrell) were awarded the Navy Cross for Combat Heroism, and leader of the group, Lt. Michael Murphy, was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor.

I would recommend anyone studying the war in Iraq or Afghanistan read this book. This book will become required reading for anyone studying the war in Iraq and Afghanistan. It wouldn’t hurt to have a few people at different news agencies read this as well.