Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Book Review: Ted, White, and Blue

My wife and I were watching Glenn Beck one night when Ted Nugent was on as a guest. The Motor City Madman was on the whole night talking about America, Politics, and our Society. During the course of the night, they talked about his book, Ted, White, and Blue: The Nugent Manifesto, and I knew I had to read it. The book did not disappoint me.

This is not Ted Nugent's first book. It is his sixth. The book covers a wide range of topics, and is his personal manifesto. As such, he makes no apologies for anything he says in the book. Some of it is fun, some of it is insightful, and some people will be insulted by some of the stuff they read. The truth sometimes hurts. Through the course of the book, Mr. Nugent gives his recommendations and ideas on a number of issues including: Politics, Religion, War, Taxes, Immigration, Unemployment, and Global Warming. This is by no means and all inclusive lists. There are seventeen chapters in the book covering seventeen topics. Ted, White, and Blue also has a decent index, and thirteen pages of notes and references.

Ted Nugent surprised me by his depth of knowledge on a number of the topics. I am a supporter of nuclear energy, and believe we should be building more reactors. Environmentalists concerned with reactors always ask, "What will you do with the waste?" Ted Nugent has a great response:

"Another unfounded fear is based on the waste that nuclear power produces. The overwhelming majority of the waste from nuclear power plants could be stored in your backyard with no risk to you. It is totally harmless. You could pick it up with your bare hands and not suffer any ill effects. Of the remaining nuclear waste, most of it could be recycled and used again but peanuts-for-brains Jimmy Carter banned the recycling and use of nuclear waste in 1977. Fortunately, the American voters banned Jimmy in 1980. Carter's baseless decision means that all nuclear waste we have ever produced must be stored in a nuclear waste repository such as Yucca Mountain…"

According to the material cited in Ted, White, and Blue, there is enough nuclear waste material in the United States, that if recycled, could power every household in our country for twelve years. That sounds like a good idea to me. Another unique idea from his book revolves around two hot button issues: Health Care and Illegal Immigration. There are a number of different studies that try to calculate the health care costs to American Taxpayers for treating illegal immigrants in emergency rooms. If someone goes to a hospital and needs emergency care, they have to be treated, even if it is something minor like a hang nail or a cough. Someone has to foot the bill for this "free" health care. Mr. Nugent suggests deducting the cost of the health care from the foreign aid we would normally send to the illegal immigrants home country.

Ted, White, and Blue is a fun read. While it does talk a little about Ted Nugent's biography, it is really a discussion of solutions for current problems. I would highly recommend it as an entertaining read that may provide some unique view points and solutions you hadn't considered before.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Why I go to the Tea Parties

There have been a lot of comments on here and in an assortment of media outlets regarding the people who attend Tea Parties. Some of the worst comments are those like Jeanine Garofolo saying that Tea Party attendees are only protesting a black man being President. The racist comments are uncommon, but not as uncommon as they should be. What seems more prevalent is the belief that the Tea Parties are organized by Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Glenn Beck, and Fox News and that the goal is to overthrow the government. Anyone who says this hasn't spent any real time talking to those who attend the parties.

While kooks are often attracted to protests (both on the left and the right), the majority of people I have seen at the Tea Parties are there because they are upset by the spending going on in government right now. Many were mad at President Bush and the previous Congress for TARP and the bailouts of GM and Chrysler. They are also mad at President Obama and the current Congress for continuing these bailouts, and for the ever increasing budgets and spending programs. Many of the attendees realize there is no way to continue this level of spending without dramatically raising taxes on everyone. The chart below was published originally in the Washington Post, and has been researched and defended by the Heritage Foundation. It shows the deficit under President Bush and the projected deficit under President Obama.

Whether you believe the White House or the Congressional Budget Office, neither of the above estimates are good. The spending in Washington is way out of control. Every idea in Washington revolves around funding a program, spending money on research, or buying something. There are very few elected officials arguing to cut the budget, and not enough officials arguing to stop the bailouts (auto, credit, or bank). My biggest fear is that the bailouts are going to make things worse, not better. By propping up these industries, we are delaying the day they go through the reforms they need. As painful as those reforms are now, they are going to be much more painful down the road.

I go to the Tea Parties to protest the current levels of spending by our government. This includes President Obama's spending and Congresses spending. I am not there to protest just President Obama. If the protests were about Global Warming or some of the other silly idea's this administration has, I probably wouldn't attend. While these ideas are worthy of debate, and I do debate them here, they aren't as dangerous as the continued spending by Washington. If we continue on the pace the chart above shows, our economy is going to get so bad, cap and trade and national health care won't matter. I can't speak for everyone at the Tea Parties, only myself. I can say that many of the people that I have spoken with at these parties have the same concerns I do, and are worried about the same things. The Tax burden on the American Worker is already too high. Spending like we are seeing in Washington is going to make that tax burden much worse.

I also go to the Tea Parties because I don't believe it is the role of our government to do these things. I don't believe our government should bailout financial companies and car industries. I don't believe we should step in and fire private CEO's. I don't believe the government has a right to interfere in how business pays their employees. Every time the government interferes in these areas, all of our freedoms are diminished. Anytime the government is allowed to save a bank, or a car company, or to fire private employees, it represents a time when the government gets to take control of our lives. I think Americans would be much better off without the government telling them what to do. Do we need some boundaries for companies to operate within? Sure. Do we need the constant intervention created at the end of Bush's term and perpetuated under President Obama? Absolutely not.

As I said, I can't speak for every person at these Tea Parties. I can say most of them are every day Americans who work and send their kids to school. These Americans deserve our respect and they deserve to have their voice heard in Washington. I , and many of the Tea Party attendees, believe Republicans and Democrats have stopped listening to voters. That's not good for anyone.

This post was published at Tea Party Patriots and Political Friends.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Is $100 Million more or less than $8 Billion?

While trying to catch up on politics today, I came across this exchange on the Real Clear Video site (video provided by Sevenload)

Link: AP, Tapper Confront Obama Admin Over $100 Million

The transcript can be found here. I have to give credit where credit is due. I am often critical of the AP and ABC News both for what I feel is a lack of unbaised coverage. However, both of these reporters brought up excellent questions. After watching the video, I don't think Mr. Gibbs answered the original question. President Obama is trying to show sympathy with the public by cutting $100 Million out of the $3.7 Trillion budget over the next 90 days. Why is that a big deal? The $100 Million won't touch the budget and won't even be a whisper when compared to the deficit. Why should voters be excited about $100 Million? And why did Mr. Gibbs describe $8 Billion as miniscule and now ask for accolades for attempting to cut $100 Million? If Mr. Gibbs can't find the money to cut, why not look for programs like the $7 Billion in the stimulus package to improve broadband coverage nationwide. Surely that isn't important in a down economy.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Back From Vacation!

I have returned from sunny Maui. Tomorrow I must return to work. Hopefully I will be back to regular post in the next couple of days as I bring myself back up to date in the world of politics.

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Thursday, April 16, 2009

Maui Tea Party

Having attended a Tea Party in Atlanta a while back, I was very excited when the national tea parties started showing up for Tax Day. I was going to be on vacation, but was able to coordinate with the organizers in Maui to be at their tea party today.

Unlike the last one I went to, the weather was great. I asked around, and I estimate there was probably 200 to 300 people at the event by the time I left. This is pretty amazing because most of the people were residents of Maui. Many of them were complaining about their local representatives.

I have heard today's events reported as "tea parties that were started by conservative bloggers, talk show personalities, and republicans." This isn't true. These tea parties are grass roots movements. The one I attended today was organized by a self proclaimed Democrat. In an email to me, he stated that he has supported a number of liberal groups over the years, but he felt the spending in Washington has really gotten out of hand.

As I am on vacation, I thought most of this post would be some of my favorite pictures from today's event in Maui. This first one made me laugh the most:

Considering this weeks revelation of what the Deparment of Homeland Security thinks of out spoken conservatives, I thought this one was pretty good too:

This sign also appeared at another Tea Party in Lahaina earlier in the day:

One participant was kind enough to let me borrow his sign so I could get a photo of me at the demonstration for my readers:

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Letters of Marque

In my last post, I got on a bit of a soap box about the standoff with pirates over the captain of a private vessel in Somalia. Brandon points out that using our navy to fight pirates around Africa may not be the best, or most cost effective solution. Brandon suggests using a combination of convoys and training for local coast guards to solve the problem. For a short term solution, I am not against convoys. However, there is one solution that I am in favor of that could potentially make money for our government and has worked in the past: Letters of Marque.

Letters of Marque are issued to private entities. The documents allow a privately owned vessel to attack specifically named enemies of the issuing nation on the high seas. This was a way of dealing with pirates in the 1700's. The receivers of the Letters of Marque are typically called privateers.

There is legal grounds for the United States to issue these. The U.S. Constitution gives Congress the power to issue Letters of Marque in Article I, Section 8. As much as our Congress likes to spend money, they may consider this idea. Secondly, those nations that signed the Declaration of Paris in 1856 agreed to no longer issue Letters of Marque. The United States is not a signer of the Declaration of Paris. Finally, we have used Letters of Marque as recently as World War Two. Admittedly, that is the only time the U.S government has since the War of 1812, but we have done it.

Historically, a privateer would pay a fee to a nation to get a Letter of Marque. Let's say $100,000 in today's world. The privateer would be responsible for outfitting and training their crews, and would be entitled to a percentage of any "booty" captured under the Letters (let's call it 85%). The United States would designate specific "hostile forces", such as pirates operating off the coast of Somalia, and would get the 15% "booty" not accounted for in the last sentence. One last note, the privateers would also be able to deal out punishment to any pirates they captured. The Letters are very specific in the areas and enemies privateers are allowed to operate. It would not be a blank check to cause mayhem on the high seas.

I think this is a very smart way to handle the pirates. The United States doesn't have to beef up it's military presence near Somalia, nor do we put additional funds and resources into the area. Private companies or individuals would go forth and deal with the pirates. Already the pirates have said they are going to retaliate on future U.S. vessels they capture, and they have tried as recently as today. Letters of Marque were quite effective against pirates in the past, and can be once again.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

There's More Than One Way to Skin a Pirate

I am on vacation with my family, so I haven't been following politics as closely as I normally do. Having said that, I have been bombarded by the pirate story. If you have escaped the news, go check out Fox News or CNN, I am not going to repeat the details here. However, as I write this, the situation is that the captain of the Maersk Alabama is still being held by pirates. The Alabama itself made it to port sometime yesterday, but the crew is still on board the vessel. It seems the FBI is considering the ship a crime scene and is trying to build a case against the pirates. Negotiations with "elders" claiming to represent the pirates today broke off when the American negotiators insisted the pirates be handed over to local authorities.

Before I get on my soap box, let me point out that my criticism's are not directed exclusively at the Obama administration. I wrote about pirates last year, and I was not impressed with how we handled that situation either. As I said then, pirates are the blood suckers of the modern world. All western nations should respond to pirates with as much speed and firepower as necessary. I would be quite happy if the Navy captured these pirates and hang them from the yard arm. One could make the argument that we should do everything in our power to return the captain safely home. Any outcome of the current situation that allows the pirates holding this captive to live will result in more pirate attacks on vessels flying U.S. colors. Our ships haven't been attacked by pirates in hundereds of years becuase we were preceived as too big of a threat to attack. If we do anything to diminish that view, we will see more pirate attacks, more hostages, more demands for ransom, and perhaps, more dead sailors.

When you attempt to take a ship by force, you take your life into your own hands. It's time to show pirates that if you attack American ships, we will respond with everything in our arsenal.


Drudge and others are reporting that the Navy rescued the captain after a firefight that killed three of the four pirates. Good Work!!

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

More and More impressed with Michele Bachman

I am on vacation this week with my family, so I haven't been following politics as closely as I normally would. However I found this video clip at Freedom Works. The clip is a little less than 6 minutes, but I think it is very important to watch.

Two quick points. First, the more and more I hear from Rep. Bachmann, the more and more I am impressed with her. At the very end of the clip, you will her Barney Frank call her down. The more and more I hear from Barney Frank the more I wonder why he has a job. If the CEO of GM and other companies can be fired because of their actions at private companies, why can't Mr. Frank be removed from office for his part in getting us into the current mess?

Sunday, April 05, 2009

A Quick Quote...

I finished Mark Levin's book Liberty and Tyranny: A Conservative Manifesto on an airplane today. The end really struck me:

President Reagan said,"Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We didn't pass it to our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected, and handed on for them to do the same, or one day we will spend our sunset years telling our children and our children's children what it was once like in the United States where men were free."

We conservatives need to get busy.

This is what I have been thinking for a while now, but I couldn't articulate as well.

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Wednesday, April 01, 2009

The Presidents Policies Are A Threat To Freedom

Our country was founded on the belief that people should be allowed to determine their own path. My success or failure should be determined by the choices I make. As companies grow to the size of an AIG or a GM, it is easy to see them as faceless giants. They are still companies and people who are guaranteed their freedom.

Our nation has a long history of cherishing freedom. The pilgrims were looking for freedom when they came to the United States. Our Founding Fathers sought to protect our very "...Life, Liberty, and the Prusuit of happiness". We fought many wars to protect our freedom and to protect the freedom of others.

Our nation now faces a new "soft tyranny". While the President is not throwing us in prison, or torturing us in the dead of night, he is slowly but surely eroding our Freedoms. Our Constitution does not give the President hiring and firing abilities at private corporations. The U S Constitution does not provide a provision for the President to design the cars of GM or Chrysler. The President does not have the authority to demand Chrysler and Fiat merge any more than he or our Congress can put salary caps on executives.

Each time the President oversteps his bounds the Congress must pull him back. If Congress won't , we the voters must reign them both in. It may seem like a good idea to "stick it to" the executives of AIG or GM, but it is really an erosion of Freedom. Remember, any power granted to this President makes it easier for the next one (Democrat or Republican) to grab more. This President attacks GM and AIG. The next may attack Hollywood or U S Today. If we don't convince our officials to roll this behavior back, to stop this "soft tyranny", we may one day find ourselves living in a "hard tyranny"

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