Saturday, January 31, 2009

Good Government Spending?

The massive work projects following the Great Depression kept our nation's economy depressed longer than most of the rest of the world. It forced many of our citizens into low-paying jobs for years on end. The only benefit was to the government: the cheap labor to build infrastructure. If it hadn't been for the high labor demand (caused by the advent of WW2), we would have been affected even longer.

Why would we as a nation ask for that again? If this administration fails to stop the flow of funds to bad loans, all of this spending will do nothing other than increase inflation.

I'm reminded of a quote by Hegel:
    What experience and history teach is this -- that people and governments never have learned anything from history, or acted on principles.
"Good Government Spending" is never "good" for us, it's an oxymoron -- akin to "government intelligence" (intelligence is never encouraged by bureaucracy, it's quashed by it), "social security" (what socialist nation is safe? they just lack freedom), and a host of other failed government programs of the past.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Trumped!

I was surprised to learn President Obama has, once again, made history within a few days of assuming the Presidency. In addition to him keeping his Blackberry (that was a shocker, hope he doesn't get cracked), the White House announced that there is now an "official" White House Blog.

Just what does this bode for bloggers everywhere? I believe it conveys (to everyone not in the blogosphere) some measure of legitimacy to us poor deluded souls that enjoy seeing our lives and opinions posted in an electronic-print format -- constantly read, reacted to, and discussed by friends and total strangers everywhere. There is one other (probably overlooked) aspect that we (as bloggers) should also be aware of: None of us have any chance of making it into the top spot for at least another four years. No, my blogging buds, no matter how long you've been posting -- we've all been trumped. The title of "World's Most Influential Blogger" was captured at the first post of the new blog. (Not like I had a shot anyway.)

Granted, 44 will probably not be making a majority of the posts on the blog, but it is his House now, and his blog. No need to consider the viability of adsense on his blog. (Although, the value of renting the blog's white space would more than pay for the team administering it.) Wonder just what kind of salary I could draw as an "official" blogger for the President of the USA?

I was also wondering just how Obama chose who got to be on the blog-team? No matter what your political affiliation, that would definitely be a very cool business card to have in your pocket. Can you imagine handing your brand-spanking new business card to one of your parents (or a grandparent) and getting to say, "Yes, I'm now the first-ever 'Official Blogger' of the President of the United States." Of course, my family would want to know what a "blog" is, what a "blogger" does, and if it came with long-term benefits. (They're so practical -- and non-tech-savvy.)

I think it would be even better to show up at my high school reunion with that business card. Yeah, the nerd has finally made it big by blogging for the President -- and the school jock is -- what? moving furniture?

The keyboard IS mighter than the letterman's jacket!
At least... for a few bloggers.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

A New Day, A New Way!

Last May, I blogged about a conservative political candidate I supported: Dr. Marion Thorpe. My one regret was not that he was running against Alcee Hastings (I was quite pleased with that). Rather, I wished that I could have had the opportunity to vote for him -- but he wasn't running in my district.

In our current political climate, Hastings was a very difficult incumbent to challenge, even for another African American that fit the district's demographics better than the incumbent. I thought Dr. Thorpe had a great opportunity, but unfortunately, Hastings' "normal" amount of support was greatly bolstered by the turnout to elect Obama. (Most likely, had it been a "normal" year for Hastings, the number of votes Dr. Thorpe received would have easily catapulted him past Hastings.)

However, I am glad he lost that race. Because of that loss, one year from November, I may get the opportunity to cast my vote for Dr. Thorpe in another, bigger race! Wednesday, January 7, Dr. Thorpe officially announced his intent to run for one of Florida's two seats in the U.S. Senate! (The one being vacated by Mel Martinez.)

To say I was excited would be a gross understatement. It's been quite awhile since I've gotten to vote for a true conservative -- in any office. I've had to vote for the "best" of the worst for so long, I didn't expect to have the opportunity for vote for a candidate I can support. I knew Dr. Thorpe had been considering the idea of running for some seat in government, but he'd been waiting to make sure his friend, Jeb Bush, wasn't interested in any of the same offices in which he, Dr. Thorpe, might have an interest. That Wednesday evening at church, he told me (and a few others) Jeb didn't seem to be interested in the Senate seat, and he'd finally decided to throw his hat in the ring. Did you notice, I said "at church" was where he told us? Well, Dr. Thorpe is one of a minority of politicians that makes no apologies for his belief in God.

In very few politicians, or even candidates for that matter, will you find a person with enough conviction to regularly attend church services. If you do find one, it is the rare individual that feels any responsibility to attend a service on a week night as well as just Sunday morning (when they can shake more people's hands). Throughout all of last year's hectic campaigning, Dr. Thorpe made the time to regularly stop and "recharge his spiritual batteries" with us.


I do know my blog may suffer, but I'm going to help in this race even more than the last -- as much as I'm physically and mentally able (without disrupting my commitments to my church and the provision for my family). My professional experience "happens" to be in small business consulting; thankfully, several of my past contracts have given me some experience that may assist Dr. Thorpe in keeping track of the finances of his campaign.

There are still papers to be filed, and an "official" fund-raising campaign to begin (it will actually help accelerate the filings if unsolicited donations started mysteriously "rolling in"). If you, or anyone you know is interested in supporting Florida's first Republican, African-American candidate for the U.S. Senate, please (for those that know me personally), let me know. For those that don't, but have a FaceBook account, you can join the Dr. Marion Thorpe for US Senate group. And for those that only have internet access (or just want more info on the candidate), you can visit Dr. Thorpe's site directly. Support can consist of your time, your skills, your money, or any combination of the three. Whatever it is, it won't be turned away.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

The Straw Officer Of Movie Night

Last week, I heard 2 different questions that I thought would be interesting enough to address in detail here (I do plan to cross-post this to a FaceBook note tho).

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The first question was something to the effect of, "Did you see the news conference with the President-elect?"

To which I responded, "No, it's a straw office and completely irrelevant, why would I waste my time watching?"

After attempting to explain "straw office" (combine a straw man argument with a political office) to the person (he could not understand), he said, "What do you mean it's irrelevant? How can Obama be irrelevant? It says right on the front of the podium, 'The Office of the President-elect' -- how could that possibly be irrelevant? He's the President elect!"

I gave him a simple answer (which he still didn't understand, thank you crummy public education system), but decided to write out a more detailed response here. Knowing that people who read blogs would at the very least understand me, even if they (you) don't agree with my position.

I personally believe Obama must be insecure (or the world's biggest grandstander) to allow that to be placed on his podium. Yes, of course, he IS the President elect, and everyone knows it, but what you see on the podium is a made-up title for a non-existent "office."

There is no "office" of President-elect. By adding "The office of" and placing it around the seal of the President of the United States, Obama has created a placeholder title with absolutely no standing, political or otherwise. Until the day he's sworn in he is a nobody, with no official status (Just like every other President before him). After the ceremony is when he holds The Office. Until that time, he's technically only the (winning) "Democratic Candidate for President."

Just why he has done it is open to supposition, but it's my opinion that rather than make normal press releases, he felt it was imperative to keep his face before the American people AMAP (as-much-as-possible). He's too proud to make all of his speeches (as President elect) without overt recognition of himself, so they're most likely just working on image-building.

Furthermore, I cannot recall any other President-elect in history that felt the need to hold "official" press conferences prior to assuming office and used "The office of President-elect" displayed on a podium as a title. It's an immature, unprofessional placebo -- a back-handed attempt to pressure the out-going President.

[EDIT: Come to think of it, I could probably expand this post using chronological campaign references, historical comparisons of previous Presidential candidates, and write a best-selling book: The Audacity of Hype. Anyone want to set me up with an advance?]

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For question #2, someone else asked me if I was going to record the inauguration. Without thinking about the possibility of offending him, I laughed and answered, "No, I'm not even going to watch it."

He said, "Why not? This is history being made! The nation's very first black President will be sworn into office!"

So I proceeded to explain that:
1. No, Mr. Obama is not our first "black" President, his race is actually quite well mixed, but I do hope, whenever we finally get one, that the first black President does a good job.

2. I don't care if someone is black, brown, yellow, red, purple, or green-with-pink-and-blue-polka-dots -- the color any man or woman's skin is irrelevant to their performance. If any person "of color," "without color," or anywhere in between is elected to any office in our government, I only care that when holding their office (President, Governor, Senator, Congressperson, or anything else), that they govern responsibly -- in a manner that seeks to promote our country above their own ideology.

3. This is only a "passing the baton" ceremony for the office of President, eventually, there will be another President. I don't recall ever going to a basketball game for the primary purpose of watching the cheerleaders; I'd rather watch the game -- so I'm going to pass, just as I did for Bush, Clinton, Bush Sr., and Reagan (I was too young to remember the ceremonies before Reagan). I'm sure the highlights of the Obama-bash and all of its "beautitudinous glory" will be all over the news, anyway. (Come to think of it, I was always kinda leery of the guys that didn't like basketball, but still went to every game and only watched the cheerleaders -- creepy-ness.)

And finally,
4. I'd rather stay home, ignore the fluff and circumstance, and instead spend time with my family -- maybe we'll watch a movie.


I've since decided I like that third point (of #4) quite a bit. In fact, we might even rent The Manchurian Candidate -- for obvious reasons.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Legitimate Lockup -- Understanding Gitmo

I've been continuously appalled at the lack of intelligence on the part of those that wish to close Gitmo and bring those detainees here -- to US soil. Obviously, the media has been remiss in reporting the reasoning behind holding them there, and has instead focused on the lack of a warm-fuzzy feeling of good-will when contemplating the plight of these poor, underprivileged, misguided, freedom-bashing terrorists. I was glad to see Obama state that he wouldn't rush into dismantling the detention center (even tho he does want it closed). I hope he sees the wisdom of having this detention center before he does serious harm to our nation. Here are the main points for my opinion:

I. The US has never in the past, does not currently, and should never in the future agree or disagree to any so-called "human rights for all" merely to promote warm-fuzzy feelings all around; that would be immature, unprofessional, and completely irresponsible. We grant rights to our citizens. Period. Full stop. End of sentence.
    A. Each nation on earth grants & restricts the rights of its citizens according to the individual charter or constitution of each state. Our nation DOES NOT grant rights to citizens of other nations, but if citizens of other nations attack our troops, our citizens, our land, or our interests, we have reserved the right to take steps to protect all of the above. (As have all other nations.)

    B. By our nation's "right" of self defense (as recognized by the UN as well as numerous international treaties) we have choices of how we prefer to stop the commission of any of the acts of aggression. It is fully legal to "shoot until dead" any aggressors that choose to act against us; however, our nation takes the "high moral ground" of exercising the "right of restraint" as often as possible. Attempting to capture and incarcerate these terrorists is much more expensive, but our current government (all 2 days of it that's left anyway) would rather spend the money than leave piles of bodies. What most bleeding heart liberals propose to grant these detainees goes well past what is legal (and moral) and even further -- far beyond the edge of lunacy, right into the heart of it.

II. There is no "political loophole" for Guantanamo.
    A. It is FULLY legal (by ALL international treaties) to hold enemy combatants for the duration of whatever conflict they were involved in at the time of their apprehension. Has been for many years. "The Great" FDR did the same thing, yet no one had a problem with it back then.

    B. The right of incarceration of combatants has absolutely nothing to do with the fact that Cuba has, or has not, ratified conventions binding the US. Instead, they are detained in Cuba because no other country in the world wants them held on their soil. (Since our lease of Gitmo from the Cubans is not subject to a lease extension anytime in the near future, we can pretty much do as we please.)

    C. Some would like to classify these detainees as "civilians" rather than "unlawful combatants;" this would mean they are covered by the 4th Geneva Convention. The 3rd Geneva Convention (1949) outlines incarceration of combatants, here is my opinion on these detainees:

      1. These are not people that have racked up excessive library fines, stolen a handful of rice to feed their families, or jacked a bubble gum machine for kicks. They are actively engaged in warfare against our nation, citizens, and soldiers. They want us dead or our nation destroyed -- and have gone to war to attempt to bring it about by any means necessary. That is what excludes them from civilian status. Since they operate well outside the bounds of the convention (engaging in some type of combat while not in the direct employ of a nation) they are obviously (to me) enemy combatants, not civilians, and as such, fully subject to the 3rd, and not the 4th.

      2. Even tho the people in Gitmo are UNlawful combatants, they have still received the same humane treatment as lawful combatants, less the representation. The detainees receive three (Muslim) squares a day, medical, clothing, showers, hygenics articles, freedom to worship, mail privileges (screened), and regular visits from the Red Cross. Our govt has gone well beyond the bare minimum in their care.

    D. As I see it, the "problem" today is actually a pseudo-problem: (primarily) socialists are using this as a platform to push their ideology on the American public. Much of the media is either in lock-step with these political ideals, or ignorant of the implications of pushing this. Don't be in a rush to jump on this bandwagon until you've explored the endgame:

      1. My definition of Socialism is pretty straightforward. Most people understand the redistribution of wealth and supposed "equal opportunity" of Socialism. It is more than that. Socialism also advocates collective ownership AND central administration of not only all types of production and all of the distribution of all of the goods, but also, every aspect of the entire system of exchange. Old-school hardliners propose total state control, while most of those found here in the US think everything could be structured into a pseudo-free-market economy.

      2. The danger of collectivism for OUR society is in the details of administration. Most of the liberal media (due to their influence from countless socialistic professors across our nation) think that the current opinion of "the people" should dictate all US policy. However, "the people" is an abstract, barely-definable concept (in terms of quantification). Who is to say which portion of "the people" make the easy decisions? let alone the controversial, hard ones? As soon as we digress from our only framework of "fairness, justice, and equity" (our Constitution and codified laws), we begin a downward spiral toward a complete dictatorship; in which one person (the dictator) is the voice of "the people" and is highly unlikely to keep their interests at heart.

      3. The media is being used. It appears their dislike of Bush has become a flagpole on which they hoist their own standard: a socialistic worldview. By couching their abhorrence in terms that appear to put "we the people" into positions that are opposed, disliked, or hated by any segment of the "victimized global citizenry" they instigate class- and racial-tension in our country. Possibly even escalating to a general "struggle" during a transformation from capitalism to communism. While this is not a true "proletarian revolution" in any sense, it would be fatal for our economy.

      4. I doubt there is a physical "playbook" for this, but it's obvious to me that the media operates in concert to promote their agenda.

      5. We (the people) cannot swallow their line, to insist on melding these detainees (citizens of the world) into the collective melting pot of US citizenry because it is "humane." It is not humane, it is a criminal surrender of our rights, as citizens of the USA, to proffer the same rights we have under our Constitution to those who are our sworn enemies and wish for nothing less than the complete destruction of our nation.

      6. The phrase "citizens of the world" is a feel-good, fallacious attempt to desensitize the patriotism of citizens -- every nation's citizens. Accepting it as a valid argument would be an extremely dangerous step by any sovereign govt. The result of wholeheartedly subscribing to this ideology is a socialistic, one world govt in which all rights are subservient to the good of the whole.

      7. It is also a straw man argument. There are no "citizens of the world" -- just as no aspect of "humane" and "ethical" should be afforded those that have actively participated in any attempt to destroy of our way of life, our soldiers (many of whom are my friends), or my country. Any attempt to eradicate any of the above must be stopped.

III. These Gitmo inmates DO NOT DESERVE a trial.
    They are NOT criminals, but enemy combatants. The US has detained enemy combatants in EVERY major conflict in our nation's history. Just like soldiers, enemy combatants may be detained or face military tribunals, but they NEVER get a trial. (The "Nuremburg Trials" weren't trials, they were international tribunals, convened after the cessation of all conflict.)

IV. For any that still do not understand the importance of the semantics, I'll make it very simple: there are only 2 kinds of enemy combatants. (Both types participate in armed aggression against our nation.)
    A. "UnLawful" enemy combatants (Gitmo detainees) participate as private citizens while NOT employed by any state (i.e. not soldiers in a military), or while affiliated with a terrorist organization. Thus, the Gitmo detainees fully conform to every definition of unlawful enemy combatant recognized by every member of the UN (every definition I've ever read anyway... going back to the Hague Convention). Unlawful enemy combatants are not POWs, because they bear arms, operating as soldiers and or terrorists outside the guidelines of the 3rd Geneva Convention.

    B. While it is legal to detain both types of enemy combatants, only LAWFUL enemy combatants ARE ELIGIBLE for all of the protections afforded POWs -- under ALL the treaties and conventions that have been signed to date.

V. There is one final aspect of trying these detainees on US soil that most people overlook. If they are afforded US rights, they must also be tried by US laws, and face US punishments. Ergo -- they have committed treason.
    The laws currently on the books in the US (for treason) call for death, so in that sense, I would not be opposed to allowing any unlawful enemy combatants currently being (legally) detained at Gitmo a military trial on US soil. As long as all guilty verdicts result in immediately carrying out the execution of the convicted. (Of course, since they've not broken any civil statues, they wouldn't be eligible for civil trial with juries and appeals processes, only military trials.)

In conclusion, I'll offer my advice to the ignorant (that so frequently proffer opinions garnered from the liberal media as fact):
    If you are going to look to some source (such as the media) for general information, check the info they are disseminating. If they feed you false information, even if only intermittently, then make sure you are consistent in checking sources and seeking the truth on any matters of importance to you (or your nation).

Every media personality with any semblance of intelligence or integrity knows full well that Gitmo detainees are there lawfully, detained legally, and completely ineligible for ANY trial of ANY type on US soil. Anyone in the media that does not inform others of this is (whether knowingly or in ignorance) participating in an effort to undermine our nation, our government, our military, the rights of our citizens, and our way of life.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Optometry Oddidity

Received a call from my optometrist late last Friday afternoon. (Didn't realize it was the actual optometrist on the phone at first, thought it was one of his assistants.) He told me that the four-year membership I purchased was expiring unused on Tuesday (save for the purchase of my glasses and a one-year supply of disposable contacts). However, if I wanted to be seen at the reduced "plan" rate, he would honor the same price all week. I was wearing my my last set of contacts and planning to call him anyway, so I scheduled my appointment for 10 am Monday morning.

Sunday night, my wife surprised me when she decided she wanted an exam the next morning too. Personally, I could care less; if she wanted to willingly go see a doctor, then that was her problem. I'm the type person that doesn't go see any doctor -- of any kind -- unless I'm near death or in dire need of something. (Which may have been obvious, since I haven't been to the eye doctor in four years.) Anyway, since I do like to see clearly, I was "in need."

Our arrival (driving through all green lights!), parking (one space was left -- at the door), check-in (we were first), wait (brief), and exam (wife & I went in together) were only "eventful" in that absolutely nothing went wrong! I was almost dreading the rest of the day -- thinking there may be paybacks somewhere.

Amazingly, no paybacks either. Instead, he shone bright lights in my eyes then had me read the little chart on wall (with the big prescription-finder thingy in front of my eyes). When I asked how much worse my eyes had gotten, he didn't answer directly. He told me that, "One of two things has happened in the last four years." (I so dread it when I hear doctors offering options.) Either,
1. on my previous visit, my eyes were diagnosed incorrectly (and I've been using the wrong prescription for four years), or
2. sometime in the last 4 years, my prescription in one eye has attained a slight astigmatism, while both eyes have (miraculously) improved exactly 0.5!

This was one of those rare moments in which I was totally speechless.

My wife laughed and said, "And they say long hours staring at a computer screen are bad for you." She also had the presence of mind to ask if my recent (bi-monthly and more) migraines may be attributable to having this prescription too strong: "Possible," was his reply.

I was expecting to purchase contacts; I was not expecting to need new glasses. Nor was I expecting any eye improvements. They did sell me contacts (at the "deal" pricing), but won't give them to me until I wear this free loaner pair for a few days. They want to make sure I can still see clearly.

It's been a few days, today is Thursday. My last migraine started early Monday morning (although it wasn't horrible until my eyes were dilated). Since then, I can still see pretty well (I was reading the 20/15 line on his chart), but I think the astigmatism diagnosis might be incorrect: if I move too quickly, things look a little wonky until my eyes adjust. I'll have to go back tomorrow and have him check.

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[EDIT: It's now Friday. I went back again this morning and I can still see the 20/15 line. I told him about the occasional equilibrium problems and that I'd noticed one other thing: a continuous tension in the muscles around my right eye. He held weaker and stronger lenses in front of my eye, but neither was better. So, I'm going to give it another week. He thinks it might be because my eyes are adjusting to this prescription.]

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

A Book Give-Away!

As an insatiable reader, I don't watch much TV, but I do follow numerous blogs. One of my favorite book blogs, Books Ahoy!, is going to be giving away a book this month!
Yes, I said G-I-V-I-N-G... as in free book and free shipping!

There are very few things I like more than a free book (most of those things being "more than one free book"), but this isn't an ordinary run-of-the-mill book that's been sitting, moldering on someone's shelf -- this is brand new and unreleased (until the 26th)! It's titled, "The Survivors Club : The Secrets and Science that Could Save Your Life" and is put out by Hachette Book Group.

I'm not normally a paranoid person (do have a few paranoid friends tho), but always enjoy soaking up any little bit of information that could keep me alive, safe, or just out of a tough spot. Can hardly wait to see who gets it. If you think you just might be interested, the contest starts today (Tuesday, January 13th) and runs until Friday, the 23rd of January. Head over to Books Ahoy! and check out the book, enter the contest, and browse Lisa's blog; you may find something else you'd enjoy reading.

My Apologies To Shakespeare:

To Post, OR not to Post, that IS questionable.
Whether 'tis nobler in the mind to suffer
The slings and arrows of outrageous children (in silence)
Or to take up words against a sea of troublesome-ness,
And by exposing, laugh at them?
Thus begins my latest installment of the vagaries of having children:
The other evening Sugee was s'posed to be going potty, washing her hands, then getting into her jammies before having a snack and trundling off to bed. Sugee doesn't always do s'posed to very well -- she has her own little world she inhabits and its... well... different.

After an extraordinary amount of time in the bathroom, I decided it would be wise to go find her. (Bear in mind, this is the same three and a half year old child that two Saturdays ago crammed a Gobstopper up her nose -- as far as she could reach her "pinky" finger!)

This Saturday evening, I found her -- in the bathroom? Yes.
Completely finished and ready for bed? No -- try stark naked.

Furthermore, she was patting at her soaked, wet hair with the used (and very dirty) foot-towel.

Realizing she was merely attempting to copy Mommy, but making a mess of herself, I stifled my smile and laughter, asked what she had been doing, and (of course) received the typical sugar-coated answer of "Nothing Daddy". After some verbal pressure, she did reveal that she had just finished "washing her hair in the bathtub" -- albeit, I hadn't heard any water running (except in the sink) so I was not convinced. Willing to give her the benefit of the doubt, I had her wash her hands and finish getting ready for bed.

Once dressed, she did finally admit that she had NOT used the bathtub to wet her hair.
No . . . my sweet, innocent, blond-haired, green-eyed, cherub-faced daughter had just participated in a SELF . INDUCED . SWIRLY ! ! !

(And for the curious-minded, no: I did not check to see if the water she used was pre- or post-potty -- I really did not want to know.)

I'm hoping she survives being a toddler . . . and that her baby sister doesn't take after her in any way shape or form.
And thus the natives' hue of exploration
Is o'er laid with the hearty cast of memory,
And enterprises of great pith and moment
With this affection their currents turn awry,
And lose the name of trouble. - Soft you now!
The fair Sugee! Nymph, in my orisons
Be all thy sins -- forgotten.

Monday, January 12, 2009

A Small Milestone

My three and a half year old son (Tank) came to me a few weeks ago and begged to have his training wheels removed. Thinking he was too young, I put him on his big brother's "blue-bike" and let him make a few attempts. Tank, at three, is actually heavier than Little Bear (who turns six in March), and only a few inches shorter, so the "big" blue-bike is all of one inch taller than the "little" one. (Both bikes are blue, the smaller one has racing flames on it, so they've dubbed it the "fire-bike.") Tank wasn't quite ready for me to let go, but he was surprisingly good. I didn't remove the wheels from the fire-bike at that time, but decided to let him try again -- soon.

Last week, one of the training wheels came loose on the fire-bike; Tank went down pretty hard, but shook it off (hence the nick-name). He brought the bike home and laid it in the driveway in front of my wife's van for me to fix. (Daddys can fix anything you know.) Seeing the bike in the driveway reminded me of our "escapade" a few weeks ago, so I let the bike lay there for a few days. (Long enough for poor little Tank to be dying to ride his bike again.) Saturday (while my wife was out shopping) I took off his other training wheel, put him on the fire-bike, and told him to pedal. Guess what he did?

If you thought, "Sat still and cried his eyes out," you were right. He remembered the previous attempt -- as well as going down hard last week. Not to be deterred by a few tears (Momma was shopping, remember -- he couldn't "tell on me" until later) I told him I wouldn't let him go, but he had to pedal. After several bent-over jogs up and down the street (holding onto the bottom of his seat), I thought he was almost able to ride on his own (there'd been very few forays into the grass). So first thing, we sat down for a few minutes -- I don't jog very well bent over and needed to catch my breath. While I was resting, I had Little Bear take the fire-bike, told him to ride up & down the street, and called Tank to come sit with me to watch. He complained the whole time, but dutifully got right back on the bike when I was ready.

As we headed down the street once again, I did let go, but kept jogging behind him -- and he did fine. We turned around (I helped) and he went back up the street -- this time I ran right next to him. He was concerned, but started getting excited when he realized he could ride with no training wheels. We turned the last time and started back down the street (with me still running alongside) when my wife started up the road. Without him knowing, I signaled to her to stop and (as she waited) told Tank to "pedal to Mommy" and show her "how good he was doing with no training wheels."

In case you don't know, there is something built-into 99.999% of all men: we must show off in plain view of females. As a child, the female of most import is Mom, but Grandmas, Aunts, friends, neighbors, and siblings follow close behind. Tank falls in the 99.999% category -- as soon as he saw his Mommy flashing the headlights of the mini-van at him, he needed no more help. At least, no more help riding -- he doesn't stop well yet. He didn't let that deter him though -- he crashed into the neighbor's mailbox, jumped up, and told his mother what he'd just done. At every opportunity since, he's been telling friends and family of his latest accomplishment, and begging to ride some more.


P.S. Sorry for spilling the beans guys, but ladies -- if you want your man to get something done, word your request in a manner that feeds his ego, then make a big deal out of what he's accomplished for you -- preferably in front of other females that are important to him.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

More Fautography?

My friends know I'm constantly looking for reliable "newsy" sites. Well, today after a hearty early morning breakfast (at Cracker Barrel) I found another great one: www.bizzyblog.com. I'll be adding it into my blogroll shortly.

Anyway, here is the article that caught my attention, CNN Doubles Down; Reposts Withdrawn Video of Apparently Faked CPR Attempt on ‘Dead’ Palestinian Child. I watched the video at CNN (and grabbed it, just in case it's taken down -- again), I read his article, and I must say I agree with him. Here is my take:

Simply put, it appears to me that there is more fauxtography in the works. Perhaps I'm wrong, but my initial impression of this video by CNN appears to me to be another fake. (You can click the link to see it on CNN, or watch my version embedded below. If you read my comments first, the discrepancies are glaring.)

There are two parts of this video that make me think this video is not what it's been reported to be: the roof scenes, and the hospital scenes (which is actually most of the video).

Starting with the roof:
    1. The extent of visible damage shown in the entire clip was no more than fragments of one cinder block? Unbelievable. I know the destruction caused by an American missile (even one fired from an unmanned drone) would have been much greater than one partially-shattered cinder-block on the roof of a house. Any of our missiles would've at least blown a large gaping hole in the roof, but (more likely) leveled the home. Since the Israelis get many of their weapons from the US, I know their missiles would cause the same extensive damage as ours.

    2. The pattern of destruction matches those received in Israel to a "T" -- Hamas fires missiles with yields this low (and accuracy this poor) all the time. In my opinion, this was Hamas' missile and they're trying to shove the blame off on the IDF.

    3. The video says that guy doing the filming, "got a call. The family home had been hit by a rocket." Maybe I'm hung on semantics, but rockets are fired from the ground -- by Hamas.

    4. The light gauge metal sheeting around the perimeter has blood spatter on it, but no holes thru it? I have a pellet gun that will shoot thru that stuff. How small was this blast? Surely a piece of cinder block propelled by an exploding missile or rocket would have enough force to puncture light-gauge galvanized sheeting.

    5. The furniture on the roof (what looks like a bookcase and a plastic chair) has no holes in it either, but is covered in blood spatter. All this is supposedly from the blast of a military-grade IDF missile?? If the chair was close enough to the blast zone to be bloody, but wasn't even knocked over, I'd say it's highly unlikely a military missile was the cause. The concussion of even a hand grenade would knock the chair over. (My three and a half year old son takes great pleasure in throwing similar chairs around the yard.)

Moving on to the hospital. The "doctors" in the hospital are either bad actors, or completely staging this. (My first-born son has had extensive medical problems, I've lived in the hospitals for months on end.) Here are some of the questions this video raises in my mind:
    1. Why is the "lead doctor" looking at the monitor? I've watched emergency surgery performed on my son several times. I've never seen a lead doctor watch a monitor! During surgery, he (or she) work on the patient -- while looking at the patient. If the lead surgeon needs supplies or equipment, they ask; if they want a status report, they ask for it. Yet, all I see of this doctor is him pointing at a screen, moving supplies around, and wiping the boy off with an alcohol pad!?!?!? If he's not staging this, he should be fired for incompetence; he wasn't even moving quickly.

    2. According to CNN's video, the boy was "hit by a rocket" that left the rooftop "... now pockmarked by shrapnel and spattered with blood." If so, then why is there NO blood on the lead doctor's gloves?!? Didn't he do anything beside point at the monitor, move stuff around, and gesture for the camera?

    3. Why does the person that was doing CPR have only a small amount of blood on his gloves?? I've seen more blood on a doctor's hands from inserting a simple chest tube. The amount of damage caused by an explosion should have shredded skin and blood vessels, making anyone who touched the child a bloody mess.

    4. Continuing on with the same reasoning: Why aren't the lab coats bloody? at all? (I wonder if perhaps they forgot to change into dirty ones for the video?)

    5. How did the sheet that was under the victim (the one they wrapped him in after their "failed attempt" to save him) have so little blood on it? (Especially since the bed below the sheet was severely blood-stained?)

    6. I'd have failed my CPR certification if I'd done it like this -- even on an infant. It's laughable how little effort was taken to make sure the man was doing it properly.

    7. A genuine effort to save the child would include getting oxygen inside his lungs. If the blood were really being pumped thru his heart (by the fake CPR), then forcing air into his lungs at the same time (with a ventilator, if they have it) would keep him alive (when you don't have a vent and you do it by hand -- it's called "bagging"). They don't have a ventilator here -- why is no one bagging?

The lack of blood is telling. When you quit bleeding it's because [A.] you're out of blood -- you're dead -- or [B.] the flow has been stopped, and you're alive. This unfortunate child had quit bleeding by the time the video was taken, maybe even before he reached the hospital.

The lack of effort and genuine medical practices is telling. In this video, these doctors did not do anything -- except pose -- and that poorly.

Finally, the lack of serious structural damage is telling. Even the smallest hand grenade carried by any IDF soldiers would have caused more destruction than was on that rooftop. The rocket was probably homemade (by Hamas) and their accuracy was nonexistent. I do think this boy was killed, but I highly doubt that anyone but Hamas could have fired the rocket that killed him.

While I do feel badly for the family, I'm appalled that they would allow their dead child to be prostituted in this manner:
video

Thursday, January 08, 2009

Fauxtography

I've seen very little fauxtography during this conflict. Obviously, the Palestinians have noticed their typical propaganda tactics backfired. The one (sickening) instance I've seen involves what appears to be a badly burned child. I've saved each picture from the original sources (in case they're moved or taken down), but if you want to see them in their original locations, click either photo caption and they will open a new window with the corresponding photo.

faux-tography 1 -- dirty, dressed, and burned baby girl on the left and on the right, dirty-but-not-quite-as-dirty, undressed, and burned baby girl

The first photo is an AP photo bearing the caption:
A Palestinian carries a child into the Shifa hospital in Gaza City, wounded during the Israeli army operation in Gaza, Sunday Jan. 4, 2009. Israeli ground troops and tanks cut swaths through the Gaza Strip Sunday, bisecting the coastal territory and surrounding its biggest city as the new phase of a devastating offensive against the Hamas group gained momentum.

I cropped the second (Getty) photo to the same size as the other (before combining them in one image). The second caption is:
A Palestinian father carries his wounded baby daughter into a hospital in Gaza City on January 4, 2009 as Israeli troops continue its ground assault in Gaza. The half dozen hospitals in Gaza cannot cope with more patients and casualties are overflowing out of regular wards into corridors as Israeli troops push deep into Gaza. At least 40 people have been killed since Israel launched the night-time offensive yesterday after eight days of air strikes in which at least 485 Palestinians died and more than 2,400 were wounded, Gaza medics said.

Obviously, it is the same baby; the burn mark on the forehead is the same. Even if the face wasn't visible, the orange and green clothing would be suspect. Perhaps the second photo wasn't staged, but I'm not sure why a different man would be carrying the same (undressed) baby into another hospital. It sickens me that such a badly injured child is no more than propaganda to these people.

Satire

While I generally don't mention whatever Israeli/Palestinian conflict is occurring, I have been watching this one with some interest. I do have Palestinian friends -- all of whom feel deeply wronged by the invasion of their country and the destruction of the homes of their countrymen. However, that doesn't change the fact that it appears to me that this time around the Palestinians are dead wrong.

I found an interesting (satirical) analogy to this conflict online the other day. I don't normally read the Huffington Post, but in a recent article entitled: Stop This Vicious Slaughter! England Must Stop Waging War On The Nazis! I found myself agreeing with the author.

I'll briefly relate the gist of the article: During WW2, while the British were responding to Germany's V1 & V2 rocket attacks by carpet bombing, they were inflicting entirely too much damage on the Germans, and consequently, they should instigate an immediate ceasefire. The similarity in the stories seemed to highlight the lunacy of today's world leaders that are calling for a cease-fire.

If I were to put myself and my nation in a similar situation, say for example, some rogue Cubans started lobbing missiles up here to Florida, I would demand my government go after them. I'd hope they would do it a whole lot sooner then the Israelis have done with the Palestinians, too. And I sure wouldn't care if a few homes of innocent bystanders got destroyed while those responsible for attacking my country were punished.

The fact that the Palestinians haven't killed "very many" Israelis doesn't seem to make much difference to me. If they can't live peacefully where they are, or at least give up all of the rocket-firing culprits themselves, my first choice is to let some other Arab country take them all in. Of course, we know that will never happen -- no other Arab countries want the Palestinians in their countries. Beside that, they'd much rather see the Palestinians "martyred" in place -- other wise they couldn't express their outrage at the senseless deaths of their brothers and sisters at the hands of the Israelis.

Barring a mass exodus, my second choice would be to see their leadership, weapons, munitions, and militant radical followers wiped out. Not very "peaceable" but it would be effective.

A Moral Dilemma

I found this USA Today article: "Remains of the Day : Nineteen hijackers died on 9/11. What should be done with what's left of them?" It seems that the NYC medical examiners have been having a difficult time identifying all of the hijackers, but in a six cases have been successful. The other medical examiners have discovered all the hijackers' remains from their crash sites. The article states
What's left of the terrorists—which, all told, likely amounts to less than 24 pounds of flesh and bone fragments—are sequestered at undisclosed locations in New York and Virginia. They are "stored as evidence in a refrigerated locker in sealed containers and test tubes," says Richard Kolko, a spokesman for the FBI.
Furthermore, only one person has directly contacted any of the medical examiners requesting the remains of their terrorist relatives, yet didn't "push" for their return when he discovered they're still being held by the federal government.

There were primarily two things of interest to me in the article. First, none of the victims' surviving relatives wanted any fragments (no matter how small) mixed with the remains of their loved ones. Second, many of those same relatives would like to see the remains burnt (because most Muslims believe they need a "Muslim burial" to get to Allah).

I tend to agree with the surviving family members about not letting them have a Muslim burial. Maybe we could mix their remains with a little pig's blood, encase them all in concrete, and drop that chunk of stone in the Mariana Trench. Yes, it's grisly, but if it became US policy it would be a major deterrent of any future attacks.

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Someone Thinks I'm Still "Young"!

I'm a non-attending member of the local Young Republicans club.
I know, you probably want to know how I can be a member and never attend, right? Well, thru the wonders of technology, we meet on FaceBook. And, I must say, it is VERY convenient. Gone are the days of renting space once a month somewhere so everyone gets some "Facetime" and networking time. And with the loss of the meetings, we don't NEED to be gathering dues, so that's a plus. The downside is the loss of personal interaction, but I wouldn't be involved at all if it were only personal interaction. I'm not giving up any more nights home with the family for a political meeting.

Anyway, back to the YR club: I was surprised they let me join. I'm pushing up against 38 now, with 5 months to go. But the "regular" Republican group here is still doing the Yahoo-Group-thing, and some still don't even have email!! (You're killin me Smallz.) So I sent my FB friend request to the local YR, and voila! I'm young!

This year there is an added benefit to being in the Broward County YR FaceBook group (mostly due to Obama's crushing eMobilization) -- they emailed me the link that ALL YR's can use to make their voices heard to the RNC! I'm not going to post the link publicly, but if you're my FB friend, or (for you stone-age backwards people) at least have my email address I'll get you the link. (Deadline is January 12th tho.)

So here's what's on the survey (along with my not-so-humble opionions)

1. Reflecting on this election cycle, if you had been the RNC Chairman, what ONE THING would you have done differently to ensure young voters supported Republican candidates?
I WOULD HAVE BEEN AGGRESSIVE on EVERY FRONT, throwing political correctness OUT THE WINDOW! Every day, ALL day, in every race, in every state and territory, at every public appearance, and every media event. (Showing weakness on almost every front is ridiculously infantile and leads to apathetic Republicans.)

2. What are the three most important issues to young voters that the RNC Chairman must prioritize when preparing Republican candidates to run for Federal office in 2010 and 2012?
(Remember, these are issues important to non-Party affiliated young voters.)
College education affordability
Corruption/ethics reform
Economy/Job creation
Energy independence/gas prices
Environmental protection
Health care/insurance reform
Housing affordability
Illegal immigration
Lower taxes
National security
Social issues (e.g., abortion, gay marriage)
Social security
The War in Iraq
US image in the World
Other (please specify) National security, border security, the war in Iraq, Afghanistan, and on terrorists everywhere (including Hamas and Hezbollah) should be one COMPREHENSIVE policy.

3. What 3 strategies must the next RNC Chairman must put into practice in his/her first 100 days to prevent losing more of the younger generation to the Democratic Party?
(This is not an exhaustive list. Please use the comment box!)
Fund the Young Republicans and College Republicans
Integrate young voters into the RNC's overall political strategy
Recruit candidates with a demonstrated appeal to young people
Build coalition of young Republicans to develop a social marketing strategy for young voters
Use social media (e.g., facebook, twitter, etc.) smarter and better
Crack down on corruption in our own Party
Perform outreach to high schools in every state
Actively recruit under age 40 candidates to run for office in every state
Make technology a central part of how we do business
Make young Republicans a part of every State Committee
Open the RNC donor lists to Young Republican groups so they can fundraise effectively
Other (please specify) ALL technology (social media, economic video games, online donations, etc.) must be embraced, with a VERY strong emphasis on outreach to colleges, high schools, and Jr High schools, and pointed inclusion of EVERY strong, conservative, common-sense Republican demographic. This will draw more Y.R.s as well as Independents, Libertarians, etc.

4. Is there anything else you think is important for the RNC Chairman to have (i.e., qualities, characteristics) in order to effectively engage young voters?
It would be very helpful if the "troops on the ground" saw a strong presence -- anywhere. John McCain's "stands" all seemed like standing a fork in oatmeal; I'd like a leader with a SPINE. Push for investigations of EVERY Congressman and Senator (both D & R) that is "bending" rules, regs, or laws. Illegal contributions (mainly Obama's online fund raising FRAUD), voting fraud (like Alcee Hastings purposefully voting from a residence he hasn't owned for the LAST THREE ELECTIONS), and other violations that are allowed to "stand" with no protest, investigation, or any action at all are just plain stupid. Hit them first, hit them hard, and don't let up. Don't wait! 2 years or more prior to national elections (i.e. now) is the best time to start. Eliminate the D candidates as early as possible. Even if all that's ever done is occasional press releases to conservative media outlets (radio, blog, etc.), at least DO SOMETHING. I was appalled at all of the blatant law-breaking by the Dems that was allowed to go by unopposed.

5. In what state are you a Young Republican?
Florida

6. What is your age?
37 (Minimum is Under 18, Maximum is 41 or Older)

7. Are you a Young Republican leader in your state?
No

8. Which declared RNC candidate would you direct your National Committee Members to vote for?
(We will not be publishing this information until the night before the election.)
Which declared RNC candidate would you direct your National Committee Members to vote for? (We will not be publishing this information until the night before the election.)
Chip Saltsman (I like his stances, plus, he's willing to take risks.)
Katon Dawson (I like many of his stances.)
Ken Blackwell (Toss up, but Blackwell is more litigious & older than Saltsman.)
Michael Steele (my absolutely LAST choice of these candidates)
Mike Duncan (decent record, but not much bulldog in him)
Saul Anuzis (he's my third choice)
Supporting no candidate at this time
Other (please specify)


9. If you were not emailed this survey directly, you are not on our email list! To be added to the Young Republican email list, please provide us your email.
Ha!
This concludes our survey. The Young Republican National Federation thanks you for your valuable contribution. We will put this information to good use!

Please check www.yrnf.com on January 16 to see the results of the survey.


There's another one-question survey there to vote for the person you'd like to see in the office of RNC chair; please at least click thru to the link and vote for your choice (unless it's Steele). =)

Monday, January 05, 2009

I Didn't Even Know I Missed A Great Holiday!

Yesterday, I found this webpage put together by the National Confectioner's Association (NCA). I'd never heard of the NCA, but they have quite a few holidays that I like a lot, one or two I'm ambivalent about, and two others for which I could care less (National English Toffee Day and National Candy Corn Day). The one that is most interesting to me was (bear in mind, I didn't find the list until the fourth of January), of course, celebrated on the third of January: National Chocolate Covered Cherry Day.

I love chocolate covered cherries. I could eat one after every meal and not get tired of them for years. Oh well, there is always next year. I decided to scan the list and see what other days would pop out at me. National Chocolate-Covered Cashews Day, National Taffy Day, and National White Chocolate Day were the first

The main thing that struck me as unusual was the fact that there are so many chocolate days. Don't get me wrong, I enjoy chocolate (especially white chocolate), but these people eat drink and breathe sugar; they are the National Confectioner's Association! I can think of a lot more candies than the few they have on their list. Consider: they have no day for Smarties! Smarties are a national classic! How can there be twenty-six various days throughout the year designated as some type of "chocolate day-of-observance" and someone forgot all the great things my dad introduced me to as a kid? Famous "iconic" candies -- like Smarties? or Sweet Tarts? Nerds? Bit-O-Honey? butterscotch candy? mints? candy bars? pop rocks? pixie sticks? jawbreakers? sour balls? fire balls? hot tamales? peppermint candy? There isn't even a national ice cream day!

As I started thinking of all the different candies and other yummy junk foods loaded with sugar that were not on the list, I decided to try to figure out just how a day gets designated. It would be pretty neat to start instituting different "candy days" throughout all twelve months of the year. I can think of a few friends' birthdays that I'd like to associate various national candy days with, but for starters, I would especially like to see "National Smarties Day" instituted on my birthday, "National Bit-O-Honey Day" on my dad's birthday, and "National Hot Tamales Day" on my mom's birthday.

As I dug around the website, lo and behold, the NCA even has a web page explaining how to add more holidays! The bad news is, designating holidays is completely out of their control (and mine). National Days must be designated by a sitting President or a convened session of the U.S. Senate. So unless there are any Senators with large candy-makers in their states, I'm thinking we're "stuck" with only the few that have already been designated.

While I'd like to add a few more, I'm really not complaining about all these "extra" holidays I've discovered. I can hardly wait for the third week of March: "American Chocolate Week" sounds just as wonderful as Spring Break, except I don't have to sit thru college again to enjoy the holiday!

I wonder how we should decorate?