Sunday, May 30, 2010

Lt. John William Finn (U.S. Navy ) 1909 - 2010

If you have ever seen a World War II movie about Pearl Harbor, you have probably seen the following scene during the attack. As Japanese planes strafe Pearl, a lone man runs out to a machine gun and starts firing at the Japanese. That lone man was Lt. John Finn. His Congressional Medal of Honor citation reads as follows:

For extraordinary heroism distinguished service, and devotion above and beyond the call of duty. During the first attack by Japanese airplanes on the Naval Air Station, Kaneohe Bay, on 7 December 1941, Lt. Finn promptly secured and manned a .50-caliber machinegun mounted on an instruction stand in a completely exposed section of the parking ramp, which was under heavy enemy machinegun strafing fire. Although painfully wounded many times, he continued to man this gun and to return the enemy's fire vigorously and with telling effect throughout the enemy strafing and bombing attacks and with complete disregard for his own personal safety. It was only by specific orders that he was persuaded to leave his post to seek medical attention. Following first aid treatment, although obviously suffering much pain and moving with great difficulty, he returned to the squadron area and actively supervised the rearming of returning planes. His extraordinary heroism and conduct in this action were in keeping with the highest traditions of the U.S. Naval Service.

Lt. Finn died at the age of 100 this week. Admiral Chester Nimitz presented Lt. Finn with the Medal of Honor on September 15, 1942. When presenting the medal, Admiral Nimitz said that Lt. Finn, like many of those who serve out nation, never intended to be a hero. He just did his duty.

Admiral Nimitz would probably say the same thing of all of our hero's who have died serving our nation. I hope you have a good Memorial Day, and thank you to all the soldiers who have paid the ultimate sacrifice to protect our freedom.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

My Interview with Gerry Purcell (Part III)

This is the third part of my interview with Gerry Purcell. Mr. Purcell is running for Insurance Commissioner for the State of Georgia. In the previous two posts, I gave a little background on who Mr. Purcell is and why he's qualified for this job. This time we talked about the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC), global warming, and how to prevent the federal government from intruding in our health insurance.

The National Association of Insurance Commissioners.

In researching Mr. Purcell, I came across the NAIC. This is an organization made up of the insurance commissioners from all 50 states. During our interview, Mr. Purcell pointed out that 36 of the states appoint their insurance commissioners. Georgia is in the minority in that we elect the Insurance Commissioner. Because of that, it's questionable how much this organization reflects the public, or what the voters in the 50 states want. Originally, this group did not have the power to force states to do anything. They could only make recommendations to the states. Mr. Purcell told me that changed under Obamacare. He said that Obamacare, "…nullifies, I think inappropriately, and perhaps illegally, the McCarran-Ferguson Act. " This act, "…basically establishes that states have control over their own insurance markets." With a federal health care system, this goes out the window. "Now you have this new, monstrous, insurance bill that invades and intrudes into that legislative authority that has been established for years, "he said. Mr. Purcell did warn what Obamcare would become a "full employment act" for lawyers because of the number of challenges that will be mounted on both sides of the aisle. There will be,"…dozens, if not hundreds {of lawsuits}, suing for the determination of the appropriateness of the legislative mandate, the nullification of McCarran-Ferguson, and the constitutionality of a non-governmental entity giving direction to a state." The last part of the comment brought us back to the NAIC.

I found that the NAIC had recently gotten into trouble because they had "asked" states to provide data on "climate related risks". They also stated that the states should have the ability to mandate insurance companies provide "climate related risks" data. I asked Mr. Purcell if he was elected, would he require insurance companies provide information on "climate related risks", would he ask they provide it, or would he drop the issue entirely? Mr. Purcell stated that he was the first candidate in the race to release a statement about this. When he first heard about this NAIC mandate, he made a call to John Oxendine's office asking them to drop this requirement, and then to the NAIC. He wanted to know under what authority the NAIC could make this a mandate to the states. When he spoke with the NAIC they stated it was actually "voluntary" and not a mandate. One of Mr. Purcell's concerns was the cost of this mandate. He estimated that the reporting would cost insurance companies millions of dollars. Further, that cost would be passed onto the consumer, and he didn't want to see insurance rates increased without any benefit to the consumer. Mr. Purcell said the only reason he could think that the NAIC would want data on "climate related risks" is to help generate support for a Cap and Trade bill. That shouldn't be the purpose of an insurance committee

How do you challenge Obamacare?

I asked Mr. Purcell if he would support a tenth amendment challenge to Obamacare. His response was very interesting:

"The tenth amendment is en vogue right now in Republican circles. Let me zero in on what that means to me. The question for me is: Does the federal government have the right, both legally and morally, to bankrupt the State of Georgia, and I say they don't. I say they don't and then you trigger the tenth amendment to exercise your push back on that."

Mr. Purcell is convinced that Obamacare will bankrupt Georgia. He points out that Obamacare will cost Georgia alone $1 Billion a year in today's dollars just in Medicaid. The federal government will fund this for the first couple of years. After that, they are going to stop funding it but require Georgians pick up the tab. Mr. Purcell estimates this could be as early as 2014 or 2015. By then, this will cost some $5 to $6 Billion. Mr. Purcell pointed out that Georgia had to balance its budget using $2 Billion in stimulus funds this year. Imagine trying to balance our state's budget without that money, but with an additional $6 Billion in expenses.

Next installment....

Next time, I ask Mr. Purcell how he would lower auto and health insurance costs for Georgians, and why he supports forcing Europe to pay their fair share of research costs for new drugs.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Are We Cowards on Race...or Just Plain Stupid?

The topic for this story comes from a reader, Pack04. He sent me this link for a story from the Atlanta Journal and Constitution. For the complete story, refer to the link, but here are the highlights:

  • Catherine Ariemma is a teacher at a high school in north Georgia. She has been honored by both the community and the state for her dedication to her students and her profession.

  • Mrs. Ariemma was working with her advanced placement history students on a film project discussing racism.

  • Last Thursday, she had four students dress in Klu Klux Klan robes and walk through a portion of the school. She did not intend them to be anywhere near students, but forgot some students were eating lunch at the time of the filming.

  • Some students, including senior Cody Rider, were offended and complained to their parents. Their parents complained.

  • Activist Rev. Markel Hutchins was called to the town to, according to the AJC, quell,"...what seemed to be growing frustration among Dahlonega's small African American community."

  • Mrs. Ariemma has been placed on administrative leave pending the outcome of an investigation. According to the AJC, "{School Superintendent}Moye said Ariemma has never been reprimanded for missteps and that she has always been an "outstanding" teacher. But he said he could not ignore this incident." The school system attorney is interviewing students to determine "what happened".

  • During a conversation with the School Superintendent, "...Hutchins asked the superintendent that a meeting be convened between the mayor and police chief to address Cody’s safety, as well as planning a diversity sensitivity training for the city, school staff and sheriff deputies."

These are the facts as reported by the AJC. The last one I find particularly depressing and humorous at the same time. Apparently senior Cody Rider is fearful the schools actors may come after him. The only threat of violence from the story is actually Mr. Rider threatening the actors.

In the story, Mrs. Ariemma said she was trying to do a film project with the students discussing racism, and that she couldn't do that without discussing the Klan. To do otherwise would be to condone their behavior. I think she's right. Can you imagine if a documentary on racism came out of a North Georgia school and the Klan wasn't mentioned in it at all?

I do think Mrs. Ariemma should have used non school hours to do her filming. But that is the worst thing I can see charging her with: poor logistics. She was trying to educate her students about racism, not lynch a student. However, because she used a different method, and because there is an Atlanta activist that needs more money, she may be fired. Not only that, but the county may have to spend money sending city staff, school staff, and sheriff's deputies into sensitivity training. The article didn't say how anyone from the city or the sheriff's office was involved in the original incident, but perhaps the AJC forgot to include that. The AJC also neglected to mention any similar incidents that might show how this was anything other than an isolated case. Finally, the AJC didn't mention this, but I wonder if the Rev. Hutchins plans on selling his services to the city to conduct the sensitivity training.

Eric Holder said we are a nation of cowards when it comes to race. I am starting to wonder if he's correct. There was no racism of any sort mentioned in the AJC story. Yet, a good teacher may lose her job, and a racial activist may make a good some of money from the city. I don't think either of these teaches the children of this particular high school anything about racism. It may teach them that political correctness could cost you your job, even if you are innocent.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Rand Paul is Right

Rand Paul has been in the news this week with some controversial remarks. I think both of the remarks the media is talking about were correct. As a matter of a disclaimer, I don't claim to be a Rand Paul supporter. I am not a fan of his father, Ron Paul, and before Rand won the primary, I really didn't know much about him. However, when you're right, you're right.

Private businesses should be able to serve who they want.

The first comment that got him in trouble involved a discussion of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Rand Paul has said a number of times that he would not support overturning the Civil Rights Act, and that he would have voted for it. However, he said he had some concerns when the act is applied to private businesses. The quote that got him in trouble, as reported by the New York Times was:

Asked by Ms. Maddow if a private business had the right to refuse to serve black people, Mr. Paul replied, “Yes.”

I agree with him. I believe a private business should be able to serve or cater to whoever they want. If a bar, diner, golf course, or electronics store wants to "not serve" blacks, Hispanics, whites, or any other group, they should be able to. However, I also believe they shouldn't complain when a large number of people don't shop there because of that policy. I would never personally shop at a store that excluded any specific racial group, but I would fight to allow them that right.

The Obama Administration is Un-American.

If there is anything that drives liberals crazier than insisting on personal rights and accountability, it's stating that a liberal icon is un-American. This is exactly what Rand Paul did when he was trying to clarify his remarks about the Civil Rights Act. Once again, citing the New York Times:

“What I don’t like from the president’s administration is this sort of, ‘I’ll put my boot heel on the throat of BP,’ ” Mr. Paul said, referring to a remark by Interior Secretary Ken Salazaar about the oil company. “I think that sounds really un-American in his criticism of business. I’ve heard nothing from BP about not paying for the spill. And I think it’s part of this sort of blame-game society in the sense that it’s always got to be someone’s fault instead of the fact that sometimes accidents happen.”

Again, I think Mr. Paul is correct. Ken Salazaar was the first to say it, but Robert Gibbs has repeated it so many times in press briefings that this has become the tag line for the President's handling of the BP oil spill. Ignore your personal feelings for President Obama, do you really think it sounds Presidential, or American, to say that your administration will keep,"...a boot heel to the throat..." of a private company? Then your administration repeats it over and over? Is that the picture we want to paint of our government? It sounds like something you would expect out of a politician who was so far removed from the average American that he doesn't even realize what he is saying is cause for concern.

I think the media is attempting to use the comments to paint Mr. Paul as a fire breathing racist and anti-government zealot. Truthfully, they should look at his comments and consider what he actually said. If the media was really concerned with racism and the civil rights act, they would bring Senator Robert Byrd on to discuss why he voted against the law in 1964. They haven't, and probably won't. They are much more interested in looking at a stereotype than at what was actually said. Now who sounds like the racist?

How Republicans are getting this wrong.

Finally, a number of Republicans, both elected and not, are trying to distance themselves from this discussion. I think they are wrong to do that, and wrong to criticize Rand Paul for answering a direct question. First, how many times have we as voters complained that we can't get an honest answer from a politician? Well, you may not like the answer, but Mr. Paul has given you one. Secondly, avoiding this discussion gives strength to Eric Holder's comments that Americans are cowards about race. Let's have the personal rights versus politically correct discussion. Lets be honest about it, and let's examine where we may have gone wrong in the past.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Obama Picks Mexico Over United States.

"...Obama showed solidarity with his guest of honor, Mexican President Felipe Calderon, who called Arizona's law discriminatory and warned Mexico would reject any effort to 'criminalize migration.'"

--Houston Chronicle

The President of the United States has sided with a foreign nation in criticizing a state in the union. He has decided that he would rather appear friendly to the Mexican government than the voters of Arizona.The President is worried that the new Arizona immigration law is racist. I would be interested to know how he came up with that opinion since a number of people in his administration have arrived at the same opinion, without reading the law. Who would do such an incredibly stupid thing? Especially when the bill is approximately 21 pages long.

As noted on Hot Air, Attorney General Eric Holder told Meet the Press that the Arizona law had, "...the possibility of leading to racial profiling," and that passage of this law was "unfortunate". He then admitted that his concerns were over what he had heard, and that he had not read the bill. This is the Attorney General of the United States. He should know that sometimes what a law says, and what the news says it says are two different things.

Of course, he wasn't alone. Secretary of Homeland Security (and former Arizona Governor) Janet Napolitano also criticized the law. According to Fox News:

"I believe it's a bad law enforcement law. I believe it mandates and requires local enforcement and puts them in a position many do not want to be placed in," Napolitano said. "When I was dealing with laws of that ilk, most of the law enforcement agencies in Arizona at that time were opposed to such legislation," she claimed.

She also admitted she hasn't read the bill. It's very interesting that senior officials in the administration believe they can pass judgment on a law that a state passed without actually reading the bill. Even more interesting, while critics of the Arizona law say that it will have the police in Arizona "checking papers", President Obama has already started. The President is scheduled to appear at Kalamazoo's Central High School commencement ceremonies next month. Ahead of his visit, students at the Michigan high school are being required to provide their birth dates, Social Security numbers, and (believe it or not) their citizenship status to Secret Service.

I hope there are no Mexican Nationals at Kalamzoo. I would hate for the President's new friend to criticize him for this.

Monday, May 17, 2010

My Interview with Gerry Purcell (Part II)

Last week I mentioned that I was able to sit down and talk to Gerry Purcell. Mr. Purcell is running for Insurance Commissioner for Georgia. I gave a short biography of him last time, and thought I would start with the issues in this post.

The Interview:

When I sat down with Mr. Purcell, he was fresh off a string of successful straw polls. While straw polls don't guarantee a win, they do give a general picture of the mood of the participants. Gerry Purcell was particularly excited about two polls: the Sixth Congressional district and a UGA teen Republican poll. Mr. Purcell told me that he was really excited about the Sixth Congressional because, "… it was an opportunity to see all the candidates side by side." At that poll, Purcell won 78.2% of the vote. That translated into 360 votes. The next closest opponent won around 22 votes. At the teen Republican poll, Mr. Purcell won by 55% of the vote. The next closest candidate ended up with 19% of the vote.

I asked Mr. Purcell to tell me what he believed qualified him for the office of Insurance Commissioner. I was impressed with his answer. He pointed out that he, "…is the only candidate that brings to the office a national perspective on health care." Mr. Purcell has been a "functional area health care expert", for the last 15 years. He has been involved in working with health care payers at the national level and at multiple states around the country. He pointed out that with national health care reform being signed into law, Mr. Purcell believes Georgia voters want an Insurance Commissioner with national experience. He also stressed that while, "some of the other candidates have worked for mostly insurance companies," he has worked for the payers. He told me:

"I represent payers. Those who pay the bills. That's where my allegiance is to and it will be the consumers, if I'm elected. Of course we will do the right thing by the insurance companies. But my first allegiance is to the Constitution of the State of Georgia, and to protect the consumers of the state, secondly."

I was very impressed. I haven't heard many elected officials promise loyalty to the Constitution of the State of Georgia.

I have said a number of times on this blog that elections are important, and that voters should pay attention to every race. I asked Mr. Purcell why he thought voters should pay attention to the race for Insurance Commissioner. He then rattled off a list of areas that the Insurance Commissioner can affect your life. Anyone over 18, and even some under 18, has insurance of some sort, "whether your parents cover you to drive, you own a home, a business, a boat, or simply have health insurance." The Insurance Commissioner also manages the Fire Safety aspect of the state. In addition to fire stations, last year there were 960+ inspections of nursing home sprinkler systems last year in Georgia. The Insurance Commissioner is also responsible for small loans operators. "If you get a loan for under $3,000 as a consumer, its' regulated by the Insurance Commissioner's Office," Mr. Purcell informed me. This year, the job is even more important. With the passage of national health care reform, the State Insurance Commissioners are going to be responsible for implementing the program in conjunction with the Department of Health and Human Services. Mr. Purcell stated that the title "insurance commissioner" is mentioned about two dozen times in the new healthcare reform legislation. He also mentioned a surprise from the purposed financial reform bill. "…[I]n this new financial reform bill, the "too big to fail bill", we're talking about, has a provision that establishes, under the Treasury Department, a National Insurance Czar." I hadn't heard any reports of this in the media. Additionally, "…that individual would be responsible for all lines of insurance." In my opinion, this is just one more intrusion by the federal government.

In Part Three of this interview, Mr. Purcell talks about a group called the National Association of Insurance Commissioners, and why we should be watching them. We also talk about Mr. Purcell's plan to lower insurance costs for Georgians, and how he wants to hold other nations responsible for "their fair share" of drug research and development costs.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Let’s Get Some Perspective People

This is a guest post from a friend of mine, Drew. A few nights ago, he made some very good points about the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. I asked him to write up something for my website and he was kind enough to agree. I think this is a very interesting view point. Thank you, Drew. Enjoy!

The recent tragedy on the Transocean Rig Deepwater Horizon has only further soured me on the state of the American Media and our current political landscape.

It has been an unfortunate display of political point scoring. To be fair and in the interest of full disclosure, I work for a direct competitor of Transocean in the offshore drilling industry. To that end I perhaps may understand the events a little bit better than most of the general public. Please allow me a brief primer on offshore drilling.

BP contracted with Transocean to drill an exploratory well. Transocean drilled this well and were in the process of cementing it closed when the well "Kicked." What this means is that a pocket of Methane gas escaped up the well shaft. This is all we know for certain other than 11 men lost their lives when this happened.

Now we have an uncapped well that is spilling 4,100 barrels per day.. This is an environmental tragedy as well. The problem is that the media is behaving like teenagers with a juicy new rumor about the kid they don't like. They are leading the charge to make the story worse than it actually is and the politicians of Washington are all too happy to go along with it.

Much is being made of the oil being released. The same story I have referenced talks about the type of Oil being particularly bad as well. What you have not been told by anyone in this whole rush to judgment, is that the Gulf of Mexico has twice the amount of the Exxon Valdez spill (250,000 barrels for the Valdez) seep into its waters every year! That is 500,000 barrels of Crude oil every year from just natural seepage.

Does that exonerate BP and Transocean? Of course not. What it does do is provide some much needed perspective. That perspective being that this is an ecosystem that is used to this type of substance. Using the Valdez as a comparison is at its heart, a lie and a tactic to demonize. The Valdez spill took place in an area that has an ecosystem that was never exposed to such a calamity.

In addition we hear about BP's "History of negligence" in the news. Well they have had two foul-ups that everyone is reporting on. First, is the refinery explosion in Texas City and the second in the Pipeline Corrosion incident in Prudhoe Bay. These two instances can arguably be blamed on negligence. So that is two times since 2005 that BP has been negligent.

Let's apply that same standard to our personal lives shall we? Say you enjoy playing texas hold 'em with your friends. Say you aren't that good. If you lose your money twice in five years this same standard in the media would mean you have a "History of Gambling problems."

What about other areas? How about the Post Office? They certainly had more incidents of workplace violence (20 incidents from 1986 to 1997) than what could be reasonably explained and yet we don't hear about the US Postal Service's "History of violence."

The whole point is that the media has an agenda it is advancing. It continues to perpetuate a myth that Oil Companies are out to do harm in order to make a profit. Politicians should be scolded and held accountable for their childish behavior on this issue (and many others). They are supposed to be the ones who are mature about this situation and have clear heads about how to proceed. Instead we get sound bites like "[It is] a massive and potentially unprecedented environmental disaster," from the President.

What ever happened to leadership?

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Chililng words.

I heard about this video on the radio this morning. This takes place at the University of California - San Diego. The student speaking is a member of the Muslim Student Association. David Horowitz is the speaker. The end of the clip is very chilling.

I don't know that words really do this justice. This is a real problem, and we must find a way to deal with it.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Airport (Lack of) Security

I continue to be amazed that we give terrorists an advantage when moving around our country. An outside observer might be shocked that nine years after the worst terrorist attack on American soil, we would continue to give terrorists access to the very weapon they used on September 11th. We continue to fight terrorism with one arm behind our back when it comes to airline security. In an effort to be politically correct, we insult grandmothers, families, and business travelers while ignoring terrorists. "Ignoring" might not be the right word here. That hints that we have already identified the terrorists but have decided to do nothing about it. We haven't gone that far.

Both my wife and I have frequently traveled with infants. We have taken both my daughter and now my son on trips to see family members. Traditionally, when we get to the gate, we get "infant in arms" added to one of our tickets. If you are traveling with an infant under two, the infant doesn't need a separate ticket. Instead, they are allowed to sit in your lap. On a recent trip, the TSA agent kicked my family out of security because none of the tickets said "infant in arms". My wife and daughter stood next to the TSA agent while I went back to have the appropriate language added to my tickets. Once back, the TSA agent subjected my ticket to extra scrutiny, then subjected my wife and daughters tickets to this same level of extra inspection (even though he had previously approved them, and they stood next to him the entire time I ran back to the ticket counter). What a pleasant way to start a trip.

To some degree, I can understand the TSA agent's caution. After all, none of my family fits any profile of a terrorist, but you never know when we may. My 8 month old son did refuse to divulge any information to the agent after repeated questioning, so he went to the top of the "suspicious" list. If I could have gotten him on the "no-fly" list, he probably would have skated straight through security. If the New York City bomber is any indication, the no fly list will get you right though security.

There are a number of threads that connect 9/11 members, Fort Hood shooter Nidal Hassan, the attempted NYC bomber Faisal Hassad, underwear bomber Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, and shoe bomber Richard Reid. For example: they are all relatively young, most of them are well educated, they are all Muslim, and most (if not all) received training in Pakistan. They do not all look Arabic. Do you see the beginnings of a pattern? Instead of exploring, and exploiting these similarities, we have decided to install cameras that allow TSA agents to see black and white (for now) nude pictures of little kids traveling in airports, and Mayor Bloomberg has decided New York City should install a vast array of closed circuit cameras. I wish Mayor Bloomberg the best of luck finding the money to pay for his new cameras.

The nude scanners also have their own set of problems. Recently, a TSA agent "lost his mind" after co-workers viewed him on one of the new full-body scanners. The other TSA agents viewed screener Rolando Negrin on the scanner and then subjected him to, "…daily ribbing about the size of the screener's genitalia." We are assured that, "…screeners in a separate room view images of the human body, private parts and all, with the person's face blurred." That appeared to fail as a precaution in this case. If the TSA won't protect the identity of their own, why should we believe they will protect the identity of your family?

Terrorists are still able to get on our airplanes, even after leaving the site of an attempted car bomb in New York City. We are told the New York City bomber was "amateurish", which is what we are told after each of these failed attempts. But what happens when one of these terrorists gets it right? And with the number of terrorists getting on our planes, with the heightened security on infants traveling on airlines, and with TSA agents going crazy because they look at each other's genitalia, who really sounds "amateurish"?

Friday, May 07, 2010

Comedy Central Discriminates Against Christians

A few days ago I wrote about Comedy Central bowing down to threats from Muslim Extremist. If you haven't read about it, South Park recently did a show where they depicted Mohammed. In the next episode, Comedy Central censored every mention of Mohammed.

When I wrote about this, I wasn't offended by Comedy Central's actions. I was disappointed. I would like to think Hollywood would stand up and protect their own. A number of people, including Bun Girl from the blog of the same name pointed out that Comedy Central has no problem criticizing Jesus and other figures. They are willing to offend Christians, Jews, Scientologists, and fans of countless numbers of Hollywood figures. However, they appear to be afraid of fans of Mohammed. They also appear to have a special mean streak when it comes to Jesus.

Today, I became offended by this story. Today is when Comedy Central confirmed it's working on a new show called, "JC". To prove I'm trying to be fair about this, I turn to the liberal Huffington Post:

JC" is one of 23 potential series the network said it has in development. It depicts Christ as a "regular guy" who moves to New York to "escape his father's enormous shadow."

His father is presented as an apathetic man who would rather play video games than listen to his son talk about his new life, according to Comedy Central's thumbnail sketch of the idea. Reveille, the production company behind "The Office," "Ugly Betty" and "The Biggest Loser," is making "JC."

So to sum up: Comedy Central will censor any depiction or speech attributed to Mohammed in a cartoon.However it has no problems attacking Jesus in a reoccurring role on South Park, and creating an entire show based on God ignoring Jesus while playing video games and Christ searching for meaning in New York. Is there any way to see this other than as discrimination by Comedy Central? Is there any way to interpret this other than as a concerted effort to harass Christians? With the vastly different ways Comedy Central has treated the two religions, I don't think Comedy Central can really defend itself.

Thursday, May 06, 2010

My Interview with Gerry Purcell (Part I)

Back in October I ran an interview with Maria Sheffield. Mrs. Sheffield is running for Insurance Commissioner for the State of Georgia. I mentioned then that if I could get an interview with any of her competition for Insurance Commissioner, I would be happy to post those interviews. I was able to sit down with Mr. Gerry Purcell this week. We talked for about an hour on his campaign for Insurance Commissioner and his thoughts on the national health care debate.

The Presidential election of 2008 has taught us an important lesson: elections matter. Few people would have thought Barack Obama would be President when he was elected to the U.S. Senate. No one thought he might get elected before the end of his first term. Many of our State and Local politicians could quickly run for national office, or even become figures on the national stage in the blink of an eye. It's important to look at every position on the ballot in November. I hope these interviews help Georgia voters go into July (the Georgia primary) and November a little more informed.

Mr. Purcell announced his campaign in March of 2009. According to his Facebook page, he is running as a conservative and a constitutionalist. One of his primary goals is to lower health and auto insurance costs for Georgians.

Gerry Purcell was born in Toccoa, Georgia and grew up in north-east Georgia. He graduated from Truett-McConnell College and enlisted in the Army. While serving in the Army he was stationed in Hawaii and earned an ROTC scholarship to the Chaminade University of Honolulu. He came back to Georgia as a military intelligence officer and was stationed at Fort Stewart, Georgia. At Fort Stewart, he supervised 150 soldiers and millions of dollars worth of equipment. After the military, he took a job with Mobile Oil and turned around a number of multi-million dollar business units. At the age of 29, he was diagnosed with cancer. His fight with cancer brought him back to Georgia, and he started a career in health care. He started as an agent and worked his way up to National Sales Director before he left to start his own company. According to information from his campaign, he is,"…recognized as a free-market health care and insurance expert, saving millions for companies and local and state governments nationwide". Mr. Purcell is very passionate about lowering health care costs for the payer, whether that payer is an individual, company, or insurance provider. He pointed out during our interview that he is the only candidate running for this office with national health care experience working for "those who pay the bills". He currently lives in Alpharetta, Georgia.

Over my next few posts, I will go into the question and answer portion of our interview. Like the posts with Mrs. Sheffield, these posts will probably be longer than my typical posts. I hope you enjoy them. If you are in Georgia, let me know if there is a specific candidate you would like me to get an interview to post on here.

Monday, May 03, 2010

South Park Was Right

If you have never been insulted by an episode of South Park, you either haven't watched the show, or you don't have a pulse. Whether you like the Comedy Central show by Matt Stone and Trey Parker or not you have to give them this: they insult and criticize everyone. In the eyes of Comedy Central, the 200th episode of South Park went too far: it included a depiction of Mohammed.

If you are a fan and missed the 200th episode, you're probably wondering what terrible thing Cartman did to the founder of Islam. Perhaps the show had Mohammed kill Kenney in some unique, but too-hot-for-TV, manner. If you saw the movie, you might be wondering if there was some sort of love triangle between Saddam Hussein, Mohammed, and the Devil. In each of these cases you would be wrong.

The prophet Mohammed appeared in the episode twice. The first time, he was heard (but not seen) from the back of a U-haul truck. In his second "appearance" he was inside a bear costume. For these offenses, Comedy Central did something it has rarely ever done: it censored an episode of South Park. Nina Shea, writing at National Review Online reports:

For the follow-up 201st episode, Comedy Central ramped up the self-censorship, replacing with audio bleeps not only every mention of the word "Mohammed", but also the entire speeches with which {creators} Parker and Stone had intended to conclude the story – speeches that, ironically, were about standing up to intimidation. In the words of the Hollywood Reporter, this rendered the entire episode "practically incomprehensible".

Perhaps the powers that be at Comedy Central should have spent more time watching South Park and less time censoring it. Additionally, the episode prompted some followers of Mohammed to do something they do frequently: threatened to kill those who would criticize the "religion of peace". Zachary Adam Chesser, a.k.a. Abu Talhah Al-Amrikee, posted a comment on a "fringe" Muslim website threatening the life of both Matt Stone and Trey Parker. Mr. Amrikee stated that both Stone and Parker were likely to end up like Theo van Gough. Mr. van Gough was killed by a Muslim for making a short film criticizing Islam and its views towards women. Additionally, Mr. Amrikee posted the home addresses of both South Park creators.

Writing about the incident at the Wall Street Journal, Ayaan Hirsi Ali, warns that this threat should be taken seriously. She was the co-creator of the short film that Theo van Gough was killed over, and has been in protection since his death. She also encouraged Hollywood to engage in a "solidarity campaign" aimed at showing support for Stone and Parker, and showing that Islam and Mohammed can be criticized without fear of violent reprisals.

While a number of people have stepped up to defend South Park, the fact that the network the show airs on failed to defend the show speaks volumes. Hollywood has not been known to fight against Muslim intimidation, I wouldn't expect them to start. We are told endlessly that there are "moderate" muslims in the world who don't condone killing in the name of Islam. If this is true, it's time for them to step up to the plate. Western culture allows us to criticize anyone. Muslims may not like what appears on South Park. I promise you there are people who were upset that Jesus was shown watching porn. However, I doubt there are many Christians looking to kill the creators of South Park.