Tuesday, July 29, 2008

My Day as Al

As most of my readers know by now, I like to participate in the Mystery Topic Challenge put on by Blog Ninjas. If you are a regular blogger, or just enjoy reading blogs, I can't recommend these two sites enough. The latest challenge is a pretty interesting one:

Blogs, for the most part, tend to be personal and egocentric. For this challenge, choose someone, real or imagined, in the news, a world leader, or a bum on the street. Write a post as if you were in their shoes for one day. You can write on any subject you'd like, but it MUST be from someone else's point of view.

I was working pretty hard on this topic. I thought it was a very interesting one. I decided to burn the midnight oil so to speak, and I stocked up on fast food so I wouldn't have to leave the computer. I had been furiously writing an interesting article on the Supreme Court from the perspective of Justice Thomas when I must have dozed off…

I awoke in a private jet somewhere over the Pacific (or was it the Atlantic? I never can remember where I am in these silly private jets). I had been working on my Power Point presentation again when I must have fallen asleep. Luckily, my trusty Mac notebook was sitting on the desk next to me waiting for me to add the next image. I hate it when I mess up my presentation. It bothers me so much, I had a new computer (complete with three monitors) installed at my home in Tennessee with a backup of my work. If I spill a Diet Coke or Taco on this notebook, I can always get the backup.

My plane was landing. I looked out to see the familiar scenery of the United States. The Country isn't perfect, but one day it will be. I was starting to remember. I had just given a presentation overseas, and was due for another one in California in a few hours. I was pretty tired, but this was important stuff!

As the plane touched down, I climbed into my waiting SUV. The driver had the air conditioning running so I wouldn't have to suffer in the heat while the car warmed up. It was a little bit irresponsible, but I had made sacrifices. The last time I came into this airport, I had three SUV's waiting for me and my staff. This time, it was the one SUV, and two smaller cars. Off course my staff sacrificed by not starting the other cars until they were in them. This was all the more reason for my A/C to be running, I had to wait on them!

Tonight's dinner was an expensive one. This would help me raise more global awareness, and provide me with more money to buy carbon credits. I had encouraged attendees to drive to the function in car pools, use public transportation, or better yet ride a bike. Too bad I would need these three cars to get there.

Sooner or later the U.S. would realize it had to lead the world to stop Global Warming. Sure it would require sacrifices, but the things that are most important (like the glaciers and the polar bears) usually require a little sacrifice. It would mean slowing the U.S. economy down a little, and maybe curbing the birth rate, but we have a few too many people and a little too much money in the U.S. anyways. Who do we think we are? Shouldn't China or India have a chance at being the worlds' lone Super Power?

On the way to the dinner, I was able to insert a new picture from my Hollywood friends. It was a great image from the movie Day After Tomorrow, and it showed the damage we were doing to the Earth. Of course it was computer generated, but I hadn't been able to find any real pictures that looked as good. It's OK to tell a little white lie to help the environment. My staffers had left a news paper article for me. It seems the United States had just put the polar bears on the "Threatened Species List". I was proud. Sure there were more polar bears around today than at any point in recent history, but with global warming right around the corner, who knows what could happen 50 or 100 years from now. And besides, this opens the way to sue those Oil companies because of the damage they are doing through Global Warming to the "threatened" Polar Bears. It was looking like a good day (as good as it can look with Global Warming breathing down on our necks).

My assistant called from the front seat. "Mr. Gore, Senator Obama is on the line and would really like to speak with you," she had just said…

I awoke in a cold sweat. Wow, a few eco friendly miles in Al Gore's shows (or SUV). That really wasn't what I was expecting. Now, go enjoy the other entries to this challenge while I take a steel wool shower…

Now go enjoy these other entires. Remember to vote for your favorite!

Hiro Gets Game by Mr. President

In Someone Else's Shoes by Stella

My Day As Al by Andy D

Coming of Age in the Shoes of Another by MooPig

I Am A Woman Damned by Jayne d'Arcy - feel free to appreciate, but she's not eligible for the favorite vote.

To vote: Go to the MTC Blog

Political Friends Goes to Washington

It may be hard to believe, but I have never visited Washington, D.C. This October, I am going. I hope to make this the first of many visits. I love our nations history, and Washington is one of the places to really learn about that history.

I am looking for advice on the "must see" things in D.C. I am committing to going to the National Archives. Past that, I am open to suggestion. So, if you have any ideas, let me know. Thanks ahead of time for any advice.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Bill Russell for Congress!

I am a Conservative.

I believe in the sovereignty and security of this one nation, under God. I believe the primary role of government is to provide for the common defense and a legal framework to protect families and individual liberty. I believe in rugged individualism because individuals can make far better choices than any government entity in providing for families, protecting households, choosing doctors and health care plans, and deciding which teachers and schools are best for children. I believe prosperity is best ensured by what Adam Smith called the "invisible hand" of a natural, price driven economy.

-- Lt. Colonel William Russell

Wow. These are the words I am dying to hear a Republican presidential candidate say. I would also love to hear them coming from a Republican running to represent me. In this case, they come from Lt. Colonel William "Bill" Russell, who is running for the Pennsylvania 12th Congressional District. You may ask, "Who is the current Representative from the 12th District, Pennsylvania?" That would be John Murtha. If you follow politics, and know who Murtha is, you are probably thinking that Lt. Colonel Russell doesn't stand a chance. Let me give you a few facts Michelle Malkin reported on today:

  • The Second Quarter reports brought some troubling news for Rep. Murtha: Russell outraised him 6 to 1. By the way, active duty military personnel (such as Lt. Colonel Russell) are not allowed to actively campaign until they complete their military service

  • A judge ruled in February that Russell had failed to collect enough signatures to get on the primary ballot. However, more than 4,000 write in votes later, Russell's name is now on the general election ballot.

  • On the morning of September 11, 2001, Russell and his pregnant wife were working at the Pentagon. They both escaped unharmed.

  • Lt. Colonel Russell has served for 28 years in Active and Reserve service. This includes six tours in hostile fire zones. He is a veteran of both Iraq wars.

Went I went to the William Russell for Congress website, I kept finding more and more reasons to support the Lt. Colonel over John Murtha. Murtha is as corrupt as they come, and even some Democrats are tired of him. During the write in campaign, Russell had to get 1000 votes to get on the ballot. He got 4,000. He also got an additional 1,000 Democratic write in votes!

I don't ask my readers to contribute to a political campaign very often. Michelle Malkin points out that the bulk of his donations during the 6:1 route of Murtha were $50 or less. If you are thinking of contributing to a campaign this year, this is the one. Lt. Colonel Russell can't actively campaign until September 1st, so anything you can spare ($5, $15, $20 or more) would help him out, and may put a corrupt politician out of a job.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Book Review: In Defense of America

There is a special place in my heart for foreign written books that defend the United States. Mark Steyn's America Alone is a good example, and so is In Defense of America by Bronwen Maddox. I happened upon this book purely by accident. I read the book jacket, and decided to read the rest of the book. It is a small book (about 216 pages long). I read it in one day. I highly recommend it.

A word of caution: This isn't a defense of everything that the United States has ever done. Ms. Maddox and I disagree on some pretty significant points (such as the war in Iraq). Ms. Maddox also takes the United States to task for issues she feels we got wrong. However, she also points out that the United States has done many good things, and that our country is founded on some very incredible ideas. The ideas set forth in our founding document are foreign to most of the rest of the world. Ms. Maddox says, "The American enterprise can appear anachronistic at a time when countries are shedding fractious provinces or breaking into pieces entirely. But it still represents a profoundly civilized goal: to overcome ethnic and religious differences in uniting people willingly into one country."

She points out that while it is commonly held that we have lost our image internationally, there were many criticisms of the United States during the Clinton administration. She also points out that Europe would be naïve to expect a dramatic change in U.S. foreign policy with the next President, even if it is Senator Obama. Most in Europe don't understand the fundamental way our government works. I would argue that many within the United States don't understand the basics of our Constitution, let alone our Government. The power to run our government is divided among the different branches of government. The President cannot do everything. Many things (like the use of troops) require Congressional approval. Because of this, a stark, dramatic change, is very hard to accomplish in America.

Finally, In Defense of America contains recommendations for the United States going forward, and a few cautions for our international critics. Many in today's world hope that the United States is reluctant to become involved in international events after Iraq. We may be cautious to use our military, or to even criticize other nations after the twists and turns we have faced in Iraq. This would be bad for the world as a whole. There are many times that the United States is the only one with a military able to defend other nations, and the will power to defend those nations. We also tend to send more aid to problem areas than many groups of countries. A world with a Untied States that "minds its own business" could become a very dark, and very scary world.

I recommend this book to all of my readers. It is a quick read. I promise you will find points that you disagree with. I also promise that the arguments that Ms. Maddox sets forth will be very thought provoking, and worth your attention.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Alcohol and Politics for '08

My wife sent me a link to a website a few days ago. I have had so much fun on the site, I thought I would share it with my readers. If you have been wondering how to vote in November, this site is just for you. Get Drunk and Vote 4 McCain gets its name from a comment in an Ann Coulter piece. Ann Coulter recommends we have parties across the nation to get drunk then vote for McCain.

Many on the right are wondering how to vote this season. Conservatives can't vote for Obama because he has the most liberal voting record in history. Of course, he has only been in the U.S. Senator for less than one term. Perhaps if he stays in the Senate for a few more terms his voting record would change. This Presidential campaign is the first real campaign Sen. Obama has ever had to run. In addition to his lack of experience, I don't like where he stands on the issues on any given day.

In contrast, McCain doesn't like me. I agree with him on one or two issues, but disagree with him on more. He has made a name out of working with Democrats in the Senate. While McCain is preferable to Obama, he is still McCain. How is a conservative suppose to vote this year and still look at themselves in the mirror?

Get Drunk and Vote 4 McCain may have found the answers. The writer / writers have been pointing out some of the many problems with McCain (like his recent endorsement of Obama). Their articles are rated on how many adult beverages a conservative needs to drink after reading the article. Stop by and see what you think. I am adding it to my link list on the right hand column in case you need it. I hope you enjoy their site as much as I have. Now, what should I drink on election night...

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

The Best Candidates We Have?

The new cover of the New Yorker has been reported in the media in some detail over the last 24 hours. In case you missed it, the New Yorker ran a cover that it claims is satire. It shows Barack and Michelle Obama in the Oval Office. Senator Obama is clad in Muslim garb, and Michelle is wearing militant gear. There is a picture of Osama bin Laden hanging in the background while an American Flag burns in the fire place. The Obamas are doing a fist bump in the center of the scene. The New Yorker has said they were poking fun at all of the rumors that have circulated about the Obamas.

In response, he Obama campaign has attacked the New Yorker. The campaign called the cover tasteless and offensive. It seemed to be yesterday's biggest news item. The entire day I wondered, "what will happen the first time a President Obama gets negative media?" Is it "Presidential" to attack the media because you don't like the way they portray you? How would Barack Obama handle a foreign leader going to the U.N. and calling him Satan? What happens when a Saturday Night Live skit portrays him as something other than the messiah?

During the last week I have also been disappointed with Senator McCain. Last week, McCain distanced himself from yet another adviser. It seems any time someone in McCain's camp, talk radio, or even the Republican party says something, McCain tries to prove he is still young by sprinting to the microphone to distance himself from that person. This time, it was Phil Gramm. Mr. Gramm had the tenacity (or audacity?) to say something that is actually worth considering. He said that we are currently in a "mental recession". He isn't the first to argue this point. Simply put, while the economy isn't perfect, it isn't in the "text book definition" of a recession either. Could get there, might not, but isn't there now. Many other people have debated this same point. Secondly, he said that we have become a nation of whiners. Once again, he isn't the first person to make this argument either. Senator McCain may not agree with the statements, but did it justify throwing yet another supporter under the bus?

I think both parties have failed to put their best candidate forward this year. We are probably headed for more moments like both of these over the next couple of months.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Thoughts From a Guest

I am always encouraging people who comment on here to give me any ideas they have for blog posts. I have also asked a few regular readers to write something to use for a post. Most of these readers are people who don't have their own blogs. Pack04 has taken me up on the offer. Without further ado, here is his post. I hope you enjoy it, and feel free to comment as if this were any other entry.

I saw a report that home foreclosures are still increasing. I might not be completely getting how many families in the country own homes but this has been going on for a while. Can it be possible that there really are that many loans given out to people that should not have gotten them? Or is it possible that people that were making payments on the houses are now looking at it and saying hey I do not have to pay and the government will bail me out and not make me pay?

Senator Obama was talking in a speech to Spanish speaking people about how he does not think it is right to make a law making English the official language of the US (I agree). He said rather than passing that law we should all learn to talk in a foreign language. That is hypocritical to say if you don’t speak English you do not have to learn another language but if you do speak English you have to learn another language. By the way, when is he signing up for his foreign language classes?

He also said he was embarrassed for America because when we go overseas we do not speak the language of where we are going but people from overseas who come here know English. Well I am not sorry that I was born in a country that speaks the most common language in the world. Should we not be concerned that a person who wants to be the face of America is embarrassed by Americans? I can see being embarrassed by our actions as a country as a whole but he is saying he is embarrassed of me because when I went to Europe in February I could not speak Hungarian, German or Czech. Being embarrassed of the people is just wrong.

What does Jesse Jackson want? You would think it was for black people of his race to do everything that a white person can. So you would think that when a black person has a chance to become the President you would not want to bring physical harm to them. This makes me believe his actions are meant to keep blacks down so that he can keep getting their money. If he admits that blacks are equal he is out of a job.

Fair media coverage: Fox news reported that things are going good in Iraq so much so that the Iraqi government is talking about requesting a scale back of American troops there. CNN reported about how another person was killed in Iraq. Which to believe? I don’t know.

Of course President Bush looks like a fool because he responded by saying he does not want to put a timetable for withdrawal. I believe, as President Bush has said in the past, that we should stay there and help our ally until they no longer request our help. To say no to their request is foolish.

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Number One Issue in ’08: Gas Prices?

I have written a few times on this site about energy and gas prices being an issue this Presidential Election season. I am now convinced that it could be a very big factor in not just the Presidential election, but Congressional and Senatorial campaigns as well. Gas prices hit an all time high today for our national average at $4.11 a gallon. The Democrats campaigned on lowering energy and gas prices back in 2006. So far, they haven't done anything about it. $4.00 appears to be the point when most Americans begin to lose patience with the "environmental movement" and decide it is time to do something. A few days ago I saw a t-shirt selling on ebay. The shirt had a picture of a polar bear and said, "I'd drill through his A—, for cheaper gas!" I have always been amazed at the good PR the Polar Bear gets. Let's not forget that this is an animal known to stalk and kill people, and routinely eats seals. Why do you think the Polar Bear hangs out on ice?

I digress. Many Republicans are pushing hard to at least get a floor vote on off shore drilling. Pelosi and Reid are both playing this down. Neither of them wants a roll call vote with their members voting against off shore drilling come November. I'm not a professional campaign manager, but I bet a very effective add could be made with a Representative or Senator voting against drilling, and gas prices at $5 in November. Pelosi has said she won't allow any energy bills to see the floor for fear that an off shore drilling vote could come up. Reid has said he doesn't think anything will happen in the Senate, but Republicans and some Democrats don't agree with him.

There is a move in the Senate to create a "Gang of 14" style compromise. According to the Politico, this would show up in a bill that opens up the coast for drilling, but includes some conservation or alternative fuel measures. Depending on the language, there is a real opportunity to get some meaningful legislation passed here. There are already Democrats committing their support to this bill. If it passed in the Senate, there would be more pressure on the House to do something.

I called a U. S. Representative’s office today to discuss off shore drilling with them. I called as a simple voter, and not in any way associated with this blog. While discussing the merits of off shore drilling, and discussing alternative energy such as bio-fuels and nuclear power, the staffer I talked to wouldn’t commit one way or another for the Representative they worked for. At one point in the conversation, the aide even asked not to be quoted. I have never been told from an elected officials office that they didn't want to be quoted while talking to a voter. I took one very clear message from this: This particular Representative isn’t willing to commit one way or another on this issue. If that is true, then Reid and Pelosi may be in for a loss as Democrats work to craft a bill with Republicans against the Democratic Leadership’s wishes. This could make this years Congressional and Senatorial campaigns much closer than the conventional wisdom.

Friday, July 04, 2008

July 4th

The July 4th holiday is one of my favorite holiday's in the year. Today is one of the few days that everyone is willing to celebrate America's greatness. Throughout most of the rest of the year, it is somewhat "In" to criticize America. Criticism is fine, but it is a little one sided when it isn't paired with a mention of some of the great things this country has done.

America isn't perfect. No institution created and run by men will ever be perfect. However, with all of her faults, America is still a great nation, and one that many would do anything to live in. We give more aid to foreign nations than any other nation. In some cases, we give more than almost any other grouping of nations. We help our critics. Since World War II, Europe has looked to the United States to protect her. Our military accepts this burden, even while Europe insults it in public. Those who criticize our nation from within are given protection and the freedom to do so.

When delivering his Gettysburg Address, Lincoln said some very moving worlds regarding the national cemetary that was being dedicated on the Gettysburg battlefield. The Address wasn't given until November of 1863. However, the Battle of Gettysburg was on July 1-3, 1863. Given the dates of the battle, and my own literary license, I feel it is appropriate to quote Lincoln today:

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

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

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

It is the people who have gone before us, and the every day American today, that make this nation great. Today, we should celebrate our nations heritage and greatness. Happy 4th of July.

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Book Review: A Crime So Monstrous

"There are more slaves in the world today than at any time in history." Stop to really think about the meaning of that sentence. In today's society, we abuse certain words so much that their original meaning no longer affects us. On example would be the word hate. Hate is dropped so much in talking with one another, on TV, and even in papers, that it no longer has the same meaning it once did. The words slavery and slave have also fallen victim to overuse. In the above sentence, a quote from A Crime So Monstrous: Face-to-Face with Modern-Day Slavery, the author isn't talking about union workers not making enough money. He isn't talking about evil Republicans being "slaves" to the oil industry. He isn't even talking about children working in sweat shops for a few cents a day. In this context, slaves are, "…human beings forced to work, under threat of violence, for no pay…" In this context we are talking about slaves in the classical sense. A mental image of a person in chains with no hope for ever seeing a better future might be a more accurate picture.

Now that we have defined the word slave, the first sentence is worth repeating. "There are more slaves in the world today than at any time in history." To me, that is simply a stunning statement. The website Free the Slaves estimates there are 27 million slaves in the world today. I became interested in this topic after reading a novel devoted to slavery in today's world. The author noted at the end that the book was based on a real slave story he covered as a journalist. I couldn't believe that something like this existed. And if it did exist, surely it was only still practiced in remote parts of the world.

As I started reading A Crime So Monstrous by E. Benjamin Skinner, a news story broke just outside of Atlanta. A local sheriff and his wife were arrested for keeping a slave from India in their house to act as a nanny for their children. According to U.S. Attorney David Nahmias (as originally quoted in the Atlanta Journal and Constitution), "This type of abuse is insidious, as it preys upon those who are vulnerable due to their immigration status and unfamiliarity with this country's legal system." The nanny was able to escape thanks to the help of some neighbors. Mr. Skinner opens his book with a story of slavery in Haiti, complete with a walk through of how easy it is for anyone to buy a child in Haiti. His point is that,"… 600 miles from the United States, and five hours from the desk of the UN Secretary-General, you have successfully bargained a human being down to the price of cab fare to JFK." While reading this book, the Atlanta slavery story broke. That story took place about a 45 minute car ride from my house.

Mr. Skinner interviewed a number of current and former slaves for his book. He travels around the globe and in many cases puts his life in danger to follow the story. At 295 pages, the book is a very easy read. I read the last 100 pages in a single night because I couldn't put the book down. The notes at the end are well documented, and the author provides a list of sources where you can get more information on modern day slavery. I would recommend this book to all of my readers. I am also adding a link to the Free the Slave website for any interested in more information on slavery.