Archive for May, 2005

Viva la French!

Tuesday, May 31st, 2005

As it turns out the French are not the problem with France. The trouble is as it has always been; France’s alleged leaders. The French Revolution; the violent reaction to an overdose of tyranny, though similarly inspired and closely contemporaneous with the American Revolution, was misappropriated by tyrants of another stripe. As previously noted on this page, the two nations proceeded in nearly opposite directions after overthrowing their respective kings. America moved toward a secular democracy supported by an abiding faith in God. France moved toward a secular democracy supported by a faith in the Romantic notion that man was perfectly capable of self-redemption. The natural consequence of this decision to “lean on the arm of flesh\” was Robespierre, Napoleon and a bloodletting of Continental proportion, followed by a parade of less skillful autocrats (none of whom were successful enough to have had pastries named after them) culminating in the current corrupt regime of Jacques Chirac, whose rule was overwhelmingly repudiated by his countrymen on Sunday, as French voters voiced their opposition to the EU Constitution. Maybe there is yet hope for rapprochement with the descendents of Lafayette.

An interesting thing happened when the Berlin Wall came down and the Iron Curtain was shipped off to the recycling center; Western goods, capitalist notions, bananas and a host of new freedoms flooded into the former satellites of the crumbling Evil Empire. Meanwhile, elitist socialist ideologies moved stealthily westward, ripening the German Green Party; turning them into full-blown Reds, while gripping the reins of the already antagonistic government of France, converting both former Cold War allies into obstructionists in the War on Terror. These two nations and their democratically elected socialist leaders were the architects of the European Union; an attempt to unify the disparate nations of Western Europe into an economic superpower to rival the United States. In this effort to go against the grain of Europe’s nationalistic traditions they will be about as successful as the efforts by some Euro-centric elitists in this country to force Americans into mass transit systems and carpool lanes. Socialists in both spheres have yet to understand that disincentives are never as effective as incentives.

Unemployment in France and Germany are at high levels; as high as 25% in some regions and in some sectors of the economy. The Francs and the Deutschmarks that were traded in for Euros and invested in the new EU did not produce the results that were touted by the supporters of European unification. Everything just got more expensive (not that Chirac and Schroeder are personally concerned; not after all the deals they made with Saddam). There is a tectonic rumbling on the Continent that the state-controlled media cannot hide. The genie of democracy may have been spending an inordinate amount of time in Ukraine and Georgia but he has never been fully stuffed back into the bottle in France. I cannot help but picture the frantic little monk, Dom Perignon, hammering and wiring the corks back into the thousands of exploding bottles he was tasked to watch. We pray for the continued spread of freedom’s refreshing effervescence and trust that the EU’s new and improved brand of Bolshevism finds the same fate as its predecessors\’. With the vote on Sunday, there is renewed hope.

Viva la French!

Memorial Day

Monday, May 30th, 2005

“Greater love hath no man than this; that a man lay down his life for his friends.\”
– John 15:13

I have invested several hours in the past couple of days in reading the citations describing the actions for which a number of Congressional Medals of Honor were conferred. I am humbled by the displays of devotion, heroism, selflessness and love manifested in the many acts of valor recorded therein for posterity. I am in awe of the courage and intrepidity of the men whose sacrifices were above and beyond the call of duty. Recognizing also that all who have fallen in the service of their country have given their last full measure of devotion, I pray, as the beneficiary of their last and greatest act of citizenship and patriotism, that I might be worthy of their sacrifices. I pray as well, for the safety and success of those brave men and women who serve our nation this day. May they be buoyed up by the gratitude of the citizens of this land and by the spirits of those who have gone before. On this Memorial Day, I offer my personal and deeply heartfelt appreciation for all who serve and for all who have served. May God’s richest blessings be poured out upon them.

Shooting Straight

Sunday, May 29th, 2005

A recent decision by Arizona authorities provides another grand example of leftist hypocrisy. High schools in the Grand Canyon State will soon be offering credit courses in gun safety. Naturally the same people who promote condom use among grade-schoolers (under the guise of “safe\” sex) are crying foul over this most reasonable decision to provide a venue for teens to learn how to safely operate a firearm. It would seem that both are matters of self-defense. Should we wonder that some people’s philosophical foundations lack self-consistency? It would appear that some struggle to separate their emotional responses to certain stimuli from the rational application of facts. Would they allow these same teens to jump into a car without a semester of drivers’ education? Of course they wouldn’t. Do they want these kids handling firearms without an understanding of how they function and how best to employ them safely? Certainly emotions have their appropriate place in our lives and should not be discounted for their value to us in personal matters, but in the realms of public debate and in the formulation of official policies emotion needs to be relegated to its proper place; at the bottom of the list of public priorities.

The Candidate

Friday, May 27th, 2005

John McCain is truly a hero. He deserves to be honored for his sacrifice. He could have been released early from his captivity in a North Vietnamese prison camp owing to his father’s high rank in the US Navy. McCain chose instead to stay with his comrades until they were all able to go home together; three years later. There are few things in the expression of our gratitude for such faithfulness that we could do as Americans that would be inappropriate. Re-electing him to the Senate would be one. Electing him President would be another. Yet, his push for the White House is on, and shifting into high gear.

It seems, however, that the man has contracted screwball fever in the years since his return to the “world\”. He talks a very good game and is publicly quite affable but his actions belie a significant lack of good judgment, except of course for his marriage to the attractive Anheuser-Busch heiress (he claims that staying in the prison camp was the best decision he ever made, but this one would rank right up there).

His highly touted campaign finance reform legislation is an unmitigated disaster and his recent effort to scuttle Senate rules’ reforms (vis-à-vis filibusters over Presidential nominees) has already shown itself to be a monumental mistake. One must wonder whether his actions are simply the random acts of the unhinged, or the result of the germination of subliminal subversive notions planted long ago in secret indoctrination sessions.

We have already had one Manchurian president too many.

Well-Connected vs. Self-Selected

Thursday, May 26th, 2005

Okay, —-I admit it! I like “American Idolâ€?. It may lean toward the sappy but it is far superior to the preponderance of entertainment products available for viewing from the comfort of our Lazy-Boys. While most TV shows feature people of dubious talent portraying people of dubious character, “Idolâ€? is a refreshing look at our culture, viewed through the dreams of the obscure but self-selected, as opposed to the appeal to our baser, voyeuristic tendencies through the seemingly limitless promotion of the predilections of the well-connected. It is a display of real, though raw talent; a gushing of genuine enthusiasm and emotion on the part of the participants and their supporters. It is a unique distillation process as thousands, with and without talents, step through their fears and lay themselves open for adulation or ridicule. After the initial sifting, viewers are allowed to measure and select from the finalists based upon a host of personal factors that extend far beyond the ability to Carrie a tune.

I had been watching because of my wife’s fondness for the show. I had fallen asleep a few times and yawned at others but it generally held my interest as I couldn\’t help but pull for those who were attempting to pull themselves out of permanent anonymity. It was merely interesting to me until last night. The thing that won my fidelity was not the music but the decision the producers made to spend their money on fulfilling the dreams of those who had meager talent but eager intent; little hope but big aspirations. The look on one kid’s face at the surprise meeting with his idol, David Hasselhoff, was worth every moment I have invested in watching the program.

“Idol� is a great blend of entertainment and reality TV. I am looking forward to the couch potato edition; “American Idle�.

Patriot Tillman

Wednesday, May 25th, 2005

Stonewall Jackson was arguably the best General the South produced during the War Between the States. He is perhaps one of the best generals in the history of the American Military. His brilliance produced victories over superior forces on more than a few occasions and his tactics continue to be studied by aspiring military officers today. He was a hero to his troops and to the people of the South. He was held in similar high regard by his enemies for his daring, skill and bravery. He was shot and mortally wounded by Confederate sentries, his own soldiers, as he was returning to his lines during the Battle of Chancellorsville in which he played a pivotal role; providing General Lee and the Confederate Army one of the South’s greatest victories.

Shortly after the Normandy Invasion by Allied forces in June of 1944, in an effort to break through the defensive perimeter established by the Germans, Allied generals ordered a massive bombing run to clear a path for the American advance. Sadly, communications broke down and approximately 2000 American soldiers were killed by their own Army Air Force; a tragedy by any definition. There are too many similar stories.

In all wars lives are claimed in ways less noble than in the dreams of patriots who envisioned facing death at the hands of their enemies. Friendly-fire, accidents, malaria, bitter-cold and starvation are inglorious ways to die when compared to giving one’s life to save his comrades from the enemy’s onslaught. But is death ever glorious? Perhaps not on this side of mortality.

More important than the way a person dies is the way he lives. There was an old “Shaman/Philosopherâ€? by the name of Don Juan who believed that a man or a woman striving to be a person of knowledge and wisdom was required to live his or her life as a warrior; with death standing imminently but unmenacing at one\’s shoulder. In this way priorities are crystallized and important aspects of life are highlighted while trivialities receive the attention they deserve. With this constant reminder of our mortality we gain insights into the only portable things in life; what we have learned and the relationships we have formed. In this light meaning acquires new meaning and life\’s purposes are more fully illuminated. The focus on goals or targets is immeasurably enhanced. Distractions are discounted. Senses are sharpened; especially the sense of duty. Unparalleled and unbreakable bonds of brotherhood are forged among those who share the commitment and the sacrifice. With our principles and priorities in order, we are prepared to meet death at any time and from any direction. Life becomes sweeter.

These soldiers, \”who more than selves their country loved\”, died heroes to all those they freely chose to defend. The path of their lives and their willingness to walk with death has protected our way of life for 230 years.

So it was with Pat Tillman.

As we approach the Memorial Day holiday, it is well for us to remember the sacrifices made in our behalf. May all who have given their lives in defense of our nation be appropriately honored and may they all, in the final words of Stonewall Jackson, “— cross over the river and rest under the shade of the trees.â€?

Comity Centrists

Tuesday, May 24th, 2005

If the milquetoasts masquerading as Republicans think their little Neville Chamberlain routine will really bring “comity in our time� they are sorely mistaken. All they have succeeded in doing is delaying the inevitable while emboldening the minority to further employ their obstructionist tactics against the democratic will of the people. If these “moderate� Republicans truly believe that any deal struck with Senate Democrats will stand the test of time, they are delusional. They might as well have made this deal with the devil himself. He would have been as honest, fair, forthright and principled as the majority of Democrats who serve in that body, and he would be every bit as faithful in observing the rules and traditions of that institution. Wait until Rehnquist retires and Bush nominates a judge with Christian baggage; Reid, Schumer, Kennedy, Kerry and Lahey will be howling and scowling with renewed vigor after having escaped today’s confrontation. No, the Republicans who waved this agreement in the air on Munich Monday have failed perhaps the greatest test of courage and conviction they will ever face in their public careers. In their quest to maintain decorum, the most revered and hypocritical tradition of the Senate, they have further put at risk the future of this nation.

Six Senators

Monday, May 23rd, 2005

(The following is the text of the letter I sent to US Senators, Chafee, Susan Collins, DeWine, Lindsey Graham, Snowe, and Specter, all of whom seem to be wavering in their commitment to majority rule in the United States Senate. I hope it helps to move them in the right direction. I would encourage all of you, dear readers, to call or email these Senators. The will never see the light until they feel the heat.)

I am a 54 year old, life-long, politically active Independent. I have many friends and associates similarly politically aligned. We are the 20% of the vote that politicians go out of their way to court in every election cycle because among our ranks resides the deciding vote. You might be interested in my opinion.

You have been named as one of the six Republican Senators who are wavering and remain uncommitted relative to the so called “Nuclear� of “Constitutional� option. You must do as your conscience dictates, of course, but I would plead with you to support the majority leader in his rightful fight to end the obstructive tactics of the minority. It is painfully clear to me, my friends and my associates that the Democrats in the Senate have chosen the low road; have caved to the pressures and payola of the extremists in their party and have committed themselves not only to continued extra-Constitutional obstructionism but worse, to the continued employment of the Federal Judiciary as a non-elected “Super-Legislature�. If you cannot see that this is so; that this must be stopped, I must question your commitment to principle and true Senate Tradition.

We are engaged in a culture war in this land. Neo-secularist, agenda driven judges have changed the moral landscape with rulings that fly in the face of the democratically expressed will of the people, in the face of principle, tradition, and indeed, reason. The toll these extra-legislative decisions have taken on our country is visible from shore to shore and border to border. We are a culture on the slippery slope; meanwhile, our Constitution hangs by a thread. Please vote to end this tyranny of the minority and their culturally extreme contributors. Moments like these are made for people of principle, vision and courage. Do you possess these virtues?

Ain\’t He a Scream?

Friday, May 20th, 2005

Allow me to translate into plain English the message that the Senate and House Minority leaders privately shared with DNC Chairman, Howard Dean in recent days. Concerned over Dean’s overly-exuberant style and off-the-wall declarations (“Republicans are evil�, “De Lay belongs in jail�, etc.), Reid and Pelosi have gently taken the former Vermont Governor and Presidential candidate aside with the express purpose of getting him to exercise a little more discretion as he barnstorms the “red� states in search of money and other support for the Democrat party.

The conversation as I understand it went something like this;

Reid- “You know, Howard, folks in Searchlight, Nevada might be plain and simple folks but they don’t particularly react too well to people using such extreme language. It’s already hard enough that you are a rich NY doctor who has so little in common with them in the first place, without them having to overcome the, uh–that certain way you have of making critical mention of people and organizations that they may have some sort of fondness for or connection to. Nancy and I thought we’d share some of our well-tested ideas for better communication with you, derived from years of working in the Senate and the House. We just don’t think it’s a good idea to call Republicans evil, corrupt, brain-dead liars. It just makes them mad and gets them all stirred up. We think you could use a few lessons in decorum; plain vanilla Congressional civility. Refer to everyone as my dear friend and colleague; then just lie about them and distort the truth whenever you can. Put up smokescreens. Blame them for the things we do. Accuse them of trying to destroy the Constitution. Obstruct, obstruct, obstruct! Throw a tantrum—–on second thought, Howard, that\’s probably not the best idiom for you. You know, Howard! You’re a good socialist democrat. You know what to do. It’s not nice to call people names. It\’s a whole lost easier and a lot less messy to simply distort what they are trying to do, and hide what we are trying to do. Don\’t you agree, Natasha——, I mean, Nancy?â€?

Pelosi- \”Oh yes! Of course, Fearless Leader!.â€?

Dean- “Aaaarrrrgggghhhhhhh�

What Will You Do?

Thursday, May 19th, 2005

The fear on the left side of the isle is palpable; one can almost hear it dripping as Democrats in a dither work themselves into a lather over the prospect of losing their grip on their Branch of Government, the Federal Judiciary. They claim that Republicans seek to impose their will on the judiciary. This would of course be a radical departure from the status quo, as at present the Democrats exercise iron-fisted dominion over this separate but “equal� branch of our tripartite system of government.

They have managed to create a non-democratic “super-legislature� out of what used to be a fair and non-partisan judiciary. Examples are legion. Forget Roe v. Wade! Just look at the way the judiciary has flouted the will of the people of California in recent years, as initiative after initiative has been overturned by liberal judges. Liberal judges force homosexuality down our throats in Massachusetts. Liberal judges have done the same in Nebraska, in Louisiana and Alabama. Liberal judges overturned the will of Arizona voters after passage of an initiative designed to mitigate the flow of illegal aliens. Some judges have tried to take God out of the Pledge; others have thrown the Ten Commandments out of Court. A prison reform act in California was overturned only hours after the Governor signed it into law. Terri Schiavo. The outrages go on and on. Democracy is turned on its head; justice is not just blind but deaf and dumb, as well.

The Democrats stand in the Senate today, calling evil good and good evil. The lies are as bald as Schumer and Lahey. They are blatantly guilty of calling Republicans guilty for what Democrats are guilty of. They complain that Republicans are breaking the rules, when they are the ones who are breaking the rules. They say they want to preserve the independence of the court, when the court is not independent today, owing to the pressures they apply through their special interests in the ACLU and Trial Lawyers Association, when not themselves directly. Their hypocrisy is beyond bare-faced. This is a crisis for the Democrats because they know they cannot win at the ballot box; their only hope is continued control of the courts. They will fight as hard, lie as much, throw as much muck as necessary to maintain their base of power.

The good news is that they will continue to expose the depravity that lies at the heart of their hedonistic agenda. All who have eyes will see. This is truly one of the greatest debates in the history of our nation; one that will impact us, for good or ill, until the end of our Republic. The lines are clearly drawn. What will you do to make your voice heard in this critical moment?

They are right about one thing; this is a Constitutional crisis, but the true crisis already exists; the Democrats have fully corrupted our judicial system. The Republicans can take a great step toward defusing it by changing the rules to permit the Senate to approve or reject judges by up or down vote; by simple majority, as indicated in the Constitution. We may then be able to place reasonable people on the bench; people who will return the Constitution to it preeminent position as they consider the will of the Framers and the true nature of justice.

Fatal Error

Monday, May 16th, 2005

The issue of agenda versus objectivity in journalism has risen to a whole new level with the recent revelations regarding Newsweek’s fatal error. It is one thing to produce a slanted story on a relatively innocuous domestic issue, —–say—-the Dan Rather hit piece on President Bush prior to the election, after which many were left squirming but no one was killed. It is quite another to intentionally and unconscionably throw gasoline on the fires of Islamic fundamentalism. 17 people were killed because of Newsweek’s ever declining standards of journalistic integrity (if this is not an oxy-moron).

In an apparent effort to make their own country look bad, the publishers of Newsweek printed an uncorroborated story using a single, un-named source to claim that an American guard defiled a copy of the Koran, belonging to a GITMO detainee (a terrorist), by flushing it down the toilet. The editors must have known how incendiary this allegation would be throughout the Islamic world. Is this why they printed it? Anti-American riots erupted in many Middle Eastern cities, but most frustratingly in Afghanistan, a country we just liberated from Taliban fanaticism. Alienation of the average Afghani has been something we have been able to avoid to this point. Is Newsweek trying to start a new insurgency there to rival the one that ousted the Soviets?

Newsweek’s weak explanation and apology (?) only further the suspicion that its publishers are promoting an anti-US agenda. Freedom of Press is a treasured part of our American experience, but this does not mean that an organ like Newsweek can print just anything without consequence. Additionally, it is the heighth of hypocrisy for this discredited rag and its fellow travelers in the major media to criticize bloggers for being “attribution-deficient�, while they are serving up “truth deficient attribution-lite�.

More than an explanation or a retraction will be required to overcome this fatal error.

And Now For Something——

Sunday, May 15th, 2005

Regardless of our political persuasions we all must eat. So I take this Sunday off from being disturbed by the likes of Harry Reid, who so poorly represents his state but so completely represents the heights and depths of personal and political hypocrisy, and Robert Byrd, who has long outlived his practical usefulness in the national discourse, except as an example of intractable partisanship and terminal long-windedness. I will now hearken back to my career as a chef and deliver on a long-promised recipe; one that anyone can assimilate into just about any lifestyle or timeframe. It is a sure-fire compliment generator and is highly delicious.

Before World War One, there existed a very popular breakfast preparation known as “German Toast�. Because of the hostilities that were generated between our two nations (and in spite of the fact that the largest ethnic, or national, group in America (28%) are of
German descent), schools were forbidden to teach the German language and many other references to things German were discarded. The name of this dish was therefore changed to “French Toast�. Interestingly, this dish is neither French nor German. I never encountered it in homes or restaurants in my years on the continent. They liked it when I fixed it but it was new to them. Owing to its nebulous origins and in the light of French duplicity, let us call this dish “Freedom Toast�.

This dish is simply a custard suspended in a porous medium; bread, instead of being baked, as are such custards as quiche or crème caramel (flan). Custard is a mixture of eggs and milk (or cream) in the very specific proportion of eight eggs to one quart of milk (this is one instance when cooking becomes a science in addition to being an art). One very critical note; when a custard recipe of any kind calls for spices, add them to the eggs before you beat the eggs, otherwise these ingredients will not incorporate well into the mixture and will tend to float on top.

With all of my long-windedness behind us, here are the ingredients for four servings for my favorite Freedom Toast recipe:

2 large eggs
1 half-pint cream (you can use milk or half and half, but it won’t be as good)
½ tsp pure vanilla extract
1/8 tsp cinnamon
1/8 tsp nutmeg (fresh grated is best)
Firm white bread (Potato or buttermilk bread works great – avoid thick slices)
Fresh raspberries (or thawed frozen raspberries when fresh is not available)
Pure maple syrup (don’t cheat, use the real thing)
Butter (or margarine if you must)

First, get 10-15 minutes of exercise in so you can properly absorb your breakfast. Next crack eggs into mixing bowl add vanilla, cinnamon and nutmeg, then beat (using a wire whip) until the eggs start becoming frothy, then thoroughly incorporate cream. Next prepare your griddle or skillet (I prefer cast iron) by turning on medium heat and lightly oiling surface (corn or canola oil is just fine), removing the excess with a paper towel. Dip your bread into the custard allowing it to fully soak up as much liquid as possible without allowing the bread to become so sodden that it begins to fall apart in your fingers as you extract it from the bowl. Place the slice onto the preheated griddle or skillet and allow it to cook for 2-3 minutes before turning. It should be golden brown with slightly darker ridges (if it is getting too dark, turn your burner down a notch). Cook an additional 2-3 minutes until the center feels firm (like the base of your thumb at the outer part of the palm). Remove and serve with warm pure maple syrup, fresh raspberries (or any other fruit you prefer) and a pat of butter (optional, of course). You may also dust it with a little powdered sugar for a more traditional appearance, although using both powdered sugar and maple syrup at the same time is a little too sweet for most tastes. Before cooking additional slices on the same griddle, wipe down the surface with your previously used paper towel, removing any leftover particles from the earlier batch while applying another layer of oil. This will serve to make the last slice as beautiful as the first.

Simply increase this recipe proportionally to serve more people. They will love it and they will love you. For a dozen years I have camped at the ocean during the week of my birthday in the company of 20 or more families in my circle of friends. It was my tradition to serve this dish to all (as many as 100) on the morning of my birthday. It is an excellent way to get a large number of people to sing happy birthday!

This is quick (you can have this done in less time that it takes you to read this post), beautiful, very easy and quite delicious! This is a particularly good thing for guys who don’t normally cook to fix for the wife or the mom on special occasions.

Enjoy!

Ill-Logic

Saturday, May 14th, 2005

Secretary of State Rice’s recent remarks regarding the Second Amendment were refreshing and welcome in an era where most people in the political realm shy away from the issue. You have to hand it to the Democrats; they may not have outlawed guns yet but they have managed to make the issue an emotional one, infusing it with undue sensitivity, making pronouncements such as Dr. Rice’s, very un-PC. Most politicians are too cowardly to openly address the matter because, at their core, they want and need to be liked by everyone. Making hard political choices automatically causes a large portion of the populace to dislike you; not very politic at all.

Dr. Rice learned her civics lesson very well from first-hand experience, not from the purely philosophical perspective that most citizens have as a foundation. Her father was forced to employ force of arms in order to defend his home and family from deeply-rooted racist oppression and open hostility; hostility that was openly tolerated by the Democrat machine (these KKK people were not Republicans) that dominated Southern politics at the time. Minus the Second Amendment, who is to say whether Dr. Rice would have survived the all-too-common attacks on the families of uppity n—–s. (These facts cause one to wonder about the lock that the Democrats have had on the Black vote.)

While I agree with her understanding that the right to bear arms is an “individualâ€? right; not a right granted to a group (in this case a militia), I take issue with her claim that \”the Second Amendment is as important as the First—etc\”. The Second Amendment is clearly the most important of all, for without it all other rights are forfeited by default as they cannot be defended. It is unquestionably the guarantor of all of our other rights and freedoms; otherwise this government “of the people and by the peopleâ€? would have perished from the earth more than four score and seven years ago. (An armed American citizenry also caused the Soviets to discard every notion of attacking our nation with ground forces.)

It is interesting to consider the ill-logic of the left on this issue. They think guns cause crime!?How one arrives at this bizarre notion defies understanding. If I were to place a
.50 caliber machine gun in front of your home, feed a belt full of live ammunition into it, set the fire selector to full-auto and disengaged the safety, this lifeless machine would sit harmlessly in your neighborhood for 3000 years unless and until some loony pulled the trigger. If some loony did pull the trigger, the lefties would go all wobbly over the unfortunate circumstances the loony endured in his upbringing or environment, and they would camp outside the prison demanding that his life be spared even though he wiped out your entire family. The murderer could have employed a screwdriver, a broken bottle or his bare hands to kill your family, and you would all be just as dead as if he sprayed the house with armor piercing and incendiary rounds. Ask Polly Klaas or Jessica Lundsford if a bullet would have been worse than the bare hands of the calloused hearts and twisted psyches that took their lives. Their answers might surprise you.

Open Letter to Sen. Trent Lott

Tuesday, May 10th, 2005

Dear Senator Lott,
I am a politically active, life-long independent; one of a growing number who decide elections; one of the people all serious politicians court. I am writing in hopes that rumors I have heard that the Senator is making a deal with the minority that will still leave them in a position to block the President\’s judicial nominees. Say it ain\’t so!!!!! You got a pass when you dropped the ball during the impeachment but if you permit the Democrats to further pollute the judiciary with liberal judges while vilifying those with Christian beliefs as \”extremists\”, I cannot imagine any circumstance wherein history will forgive you.

Mother\’s Days

Monday, May 9th, 2005

Before Mother’s Day fully dissolves into the past, please take another moment to appreciate your mother and to commit to creating a culture, at least in your own family, wherein mothers are revered.

Your mother’s face was the first human face you really knew; every contour, every fold of skin, the depth of her eyes, the breadth of her smile. Hers was the image that imprinted your unique and lasting concept of beauty upon your infinitely receptive neurons. The sound of her voice was the first music you heard. She was your hands and your feet, answering your unspoken need in more ways and through more days than you will ever be able to recall.

A mother’s love is more likely to be unconditional than is the love from any other earthly source. There is something unique about the quality of love that exists between a mother and her child. A mother’s love is a beacon to her children. It is a love rivaled only by the unconditional love that our Heavenly Parents have for us. It is a love conveyed in countless small moments, never to be forgotten.

Hold your mother in the highest regard every day! Continue to invest your love in her. Make next Mother’s Day just another in a ceaseless stream of special days wherein your mother is honored for giving you life; for choosing to be a mother. Don’t wait for the calendar to tell you when it is appropriate to offer up your heartfelt appreciation. And be particularly happy if she is still here with you in mortality.

Adverse Elections Create Adverse Selection

Saturday, May 7th, 2005

There is an expression in the insurance industry that describes a circumstance that all insurance companies fear; adverse selection. This unfortunate condition is caused when companies raise their rates to the degree that they are not competitive with other companies in the marketplace, the result of which is that good clients with good driving records and good claims’ histories leave the high-priced insurer in favor of the lower priced insurer, leaving behind the people with less-than-stellar driving records and greater than acceptable losses.

These “left-behinds� are far less likely, due to their records, to receive any financial incentives to move their business and are frequently unacceptable to other insurers due to their loss histories. These are also the people who are more likely to have accidents. A condensing of such a group increases the likelihood of loss which drives the spiral of premiums upward and the quality of clients ever downward. The cure for this is counter-intuitive; a reduction in rates. While costs are increasing it may not appear, on the surface, to be a good idea to lower revenues to the company but that is exactly how it’s done. Lower premiums attract better drivers who have fewer claims which reduces the strain on the insurance company’s reserves, which expands their ability to take on new clients, which further dilutes the impact of bad drivers on the system. Of course there is a limit. One naturally cannot lower premiums too much. It is only necessary to be competitive from a rate standpoint, although other factors such as service, claims handling, coverage options, etc. play a part in customer decisions. Failing this, the insurer must necessarily fail.

California has an adverse selection problem. We are over-taxed, under-served, over-regulated and under-represented. This persistent and seemingly intractable vexation has driven some of its best citizens and some of its best businesses from the state. A friend just recently confided her intention to leave California for these and other related reasons. To her and to all others who feel similarly I say, “Please don’t go! You can’t fix California from Idaho!� Besides, it truly is as the sign at the bottom of Splash Mountain says; “You can’t run away from trouble ‘cause there ain’t no place that far.� Ask the people who left LA to get away from the earthquakes and moved to Ferndale just in time for a 7 pointer. Ask the people who left LA to get away from the violence and moved to the Falkland Islands, just in time for not one, but two invasions.

To the impervious pols who populate the Bill Mill in Sacramento, who play politics with the state’s budget and life blood, I suggest the following; please prioritize; make this a business and people friendly state once again. Spend less money on things that don’t generate a better business and social climate; lower the taxes and you will see good businesses return and with them, higher revenues to the state\’s coffers (you must surely remember voodoo economics?); live within a reasonable budget; demand accountability from all of the state\’s various bureaucracies. Abolish unnecessary programs. Discard one law or regulation for every new one you pass. Stay home six months out of the year (after all, according to Jefferson, \”the government that governs least, governs best.\” Failing this, the state must necessarily fail. Sure, there will be people left, but will they be the people who can’t afford to leave?

Saving Whales

Thursday, May 5th, 2005

Let us view the current problem regarding allegedly diminishing fuel supplies and ever-escalating oil prices from a few different perspectives. I offer these from the point of view of someone who was born and raised in the middle of one of the world’s largest oil fields and anthracite coal deposits; someone who has paid as little as $.20/gallon and more than $5.00/per in Europe; someone who worked in the oil field; someone who has invested time, personally and professionally, in the study of the subject; and someone who has visited the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in summer and in winter (having paid over $3.00/gallon on the Dalton Highway) to view the impact of the pipeline, highway, and other human activity on the furry things, large and small.

More than a few of my friends and family members toiled in the coal mines (some are still there). I have lost friends to underground explosions and other mining mishaps. The first time I ever directly confronted death and its immediate impact on the living was a result of a coal mine accident that occurred when I was six years old. I shall never forget watching the new widow collapse into the arms of the mine’s ambulance driver, just 20 feet in front of me. I will never forget the sounds of her wailing and sobbing as she heard that her husband had been crushed to death beneath the weight of a rock dislodged from the mine’s ceiling.

In the little town (900 residents) in which I grew up, nearly 30 men lost their lives in the dozen years I lived there. A few years later, in a neighboring community, I lost another friend in a methane explosion that caused the deaths of 13 miners. Today’s “long wall� technology combined with toxic and/or flammable gas sensing capabilities has dramatically reduced the dangers inherent in underground mining. Nevertheless, in spite of a considerable focus on safety, fatal accidents still occur. Many more men have died in nearly every coal mine in America than have been killed in the entire history of nuclear power in the United States. This is not to say that we should stop mining coal. Indeed, we might wish to increase our coal production for the multiple benefits it would provide. It is simply appropriate to keep safety concerns vis a vis different technologies in their prpper perspectives.

The Germans ran much of their war machine, especially in the latter half of World War II, on liquid fuel processed from coal. Certainly this technology has not utterly vanished, unless the Farrakhan Principle of Knowledge is actually valid. According to the good minister his forbearers, the Ancient Egyptians, had their knowledge stolen by white men. This raises an interesting question about knowledge itself. If I know, for example, that the Scarecrow only needed a diploma to activate his brain and I shared that information with you, would I still be able to retain that knowledge myself? I digress. But as long as we have mentioned Africa as well as alternatives to crude oil based fuel, the Rhodesian (today’s Zimbabwe) Army, in overcoming international sanctions on oil imports, ran its military vehicles almost exclusively on sunflower oil. Using sunflower oil as fuel in this country might create a significant new debate as excessive demand could force baseball players to go back to chewing tobacco.

Geologists estimate that there are approximately 6,000,000,000 (yes, 6 billion) barrels of oil locked up in the shale Western Colorado. This does not even begin to contemplate the nearly limitless amounts of low-sulfur, Anthracite coal, the countless natural gas wells already drilled and capped, and the inestimable quantities of uranium (according to some, enough to provide for all the worlds power needs for at least 200 years) that also exist within the 50 mile radius surrounding Grand Junction, Colorado. The fact that the oil is expensive to extract from the shale does not change the fact that it is there. The fact that the coal cannot be easily strip-mined does not change the fact that it is there. The fact that some people are squeamish about nuclear power does not alter its viability nor does it change the fact that there is uranium in abundance. Technologies exist to bring all these to market but before this can become a reality there are certainly issues to be addressed, primarily related to economics.

I have studied the science of oil and gas extraction from close range; almost too close on a few occasions. It is a fascinating process requiring the union of multiple technologies in order to match the unique circumstances of each well, the type of soil, the underlying strata, the density and chemical composition of the mud (drilling fluid) used to lift the drilled cuttings from the bottom of the hole, the depth and relative location of productive formations, to name but a few necessary considerations. The overall enterprise is ultimately a very large plumbing project, reduced upon completion to an insignificant elbow of pipe sticking a few feet above the ground, with an accessible valve or perhaps a pump. With proper care little is left disturbed. This is the case with the Alaskan fields. The oil companies account for every drop and every care is taken to avoid damage to the tundra. The furry things love the pipeline, the highway and the people who work there. Mosquitos cause far more trouble for the four legged critters than does human activity. (More about Alaska later.)

Extracting fossil fuels is all much cleaner and friendlier than the whale oil industry that preceded our ability to tap into the earth’s own flammable ooze (with the added benefit of saving the whales). Old, played-out oil fields have been brought back to life with injections of Carbon Dioxide. Reserves have been discovered and catalogued. New fields are discovered from time to time; often enough to make exploration a worthwhile endeavor. Wells have been drilled and capped. It is estimated that vast amounts of natural gas exist at depths just beyond the reach of the overwhelming majority of our existing drilling rigs but not beyond the reach of existing technology. (Enter the words “overthrust belt� into your search engine and check this for yourself.) This field stretchesmany for hundreds of miles through the middle of the continent and into the Gulf of Mexico.

Those who are horrified at the thought of oil spills from off-shore activity should hearken back to World War Two and the thousands of vessels destroyed by hostilities, many filled with oil. While it wasn\’t pretty, the sea has a way of dealing with these other earthly fluids. The first true oilfield in the US, in Titusville, PA, was initially discovered as a scum covering surface waters in the neighborhood. If that happened today, a toxic emergency would probably be declared.

There are ample deposits of raw fossil fuels of various types here in America. I am of the opinion that the powers-that-be have intentionally allowed much to lie virtually fallow in favor of accessing the more easily tapped natural resources of the OPEC lands; resources historically available at lower cost than those available domestically. We have husbanded our reserves while depleting theirs, awaiting an appropriate time and price; a time that may have arrived.

Law Trumps Life

Wednesday, May 4th, 2005

The Federal Judge who was petitioned by Congress to convene a new trial has chosen to do otherwise. Commenting on his decision to ignore Congress and in washing his hands of the issue, Judge Whittemore wrote that Schiavo\’s \”life and liberty interests\” were protected by the process of the Florida courts and found that a state court judge did not compromise the fairness of the proceeding or the impartiality of the court with his decision to allow the feeding tube to be removed. These things he managed to conclude after devoting less than an afternoon to a case with more than a dozen years of accumulated evidence, notes, briefs and testimony.

\”Even under these difficult and time strained circumstances, however, and notwithstanding Congress\’ expressed interest in the welfare of Theresa Schiavo, this court is constrained to apply the law to the issues before it,\” the ruling reads.

Whittemore and his fellow post-modern, black-robed pharisees have rendered their decision; the law is more important than the people whom the law was intended to protect.

If law does not protect the lives of the innocent, what value does law possess in our lives? If Terri Schiavo’s right to “Life\” is not protected under current law, what has happened to our nation? If the court is constrained by the law from protecting an innocent life (in the absence of her explicit written wish to die under these circumstances) what is the value of having a court, a judge, or the law?

Why was our judicial system established? What has it become? Is it time to ask for real judicial review, meaning a full review of our justice system? If the system cannot protect the Terri’s of the world, it will surely fail us further.

Separation Anxiety

Wednesday, May 4th, 2005

The controversy over the ousting of members of a North Carolina Baptist church and the subsequent resignation of the church’s pastor is most illustrative of a critical point; there is a difference between precepts and politics. The furor was built around the pastor’s pre-election remarks from the pulpit in which he was quoted as having declared, “If you vote for John Kerry, you need to repent or resign. In recent days nine members were removed from the rolls of the church for having supported Democrat candidates. The reasons for their dismissal revolve around Democrat support for abortion, homosexual marriage and a host of other issues that typically trouble the Christian community.

This is nothing really new; churches have been expelling members for millennia for engaging in or supporting behaviors that are deemed harmful to the body of the church and its mission. Catholic clergy have recently taken to denying Communion to politicians whose votes run contrary to their professed religious beliefs, but it is not clear just how many regular members have been dealt with similarly. Churches are private organizations, perhaps the most private of all organizations owing to their connections to the very essence of man; his spirit. Therefore, it is appropriate that churches be allowed to constrain the members in their behaviors and to release those whose lack of understanding or discipline leads them to commit acts that are damaging to both the church and the “sinner. It is wholly appropriate to draw lines of acceptability in this context.

In secular settings things are viewed quite differently. Firing someone for violating a religious precept (that is not a criminal matter) would likely be a violation of the law; an encroachment on that individual’s civil rights. There is no argument on this point. The laws are fairly clear. The Founding Fathers, though self-proclaimed Christians, established a secular government, not to keep God and faith, principles and precepts out of politics, but rather to keep politics from polluting the church. This is really where the pastor crossed the line, indeed this is where countless Black churches across the country cross the line in every election cycle, by allowing the Clinton’s, the Gore\’s and the Kerry’s to stump on their pulpits and to stomp on the Framers’ intent.

Open Letter to Voinovich

Wednesday, May 4th, 2005

(This is a copy of the letter I sent to the Senator today.)

Dear Senator Voinovich,
I do not live in your state but I hope you will still consider the viewpoint I offer. Many Ohioans are certain to feel the same way. I am a politically active independent conservative, one of a growing number. I am among the critical number who sway elections; the non-committed 20%; the group all politicians court. I was greatly disappointed in you for your failure to do your homework on the Bolton nomination and your subsequent acquiescence to the minority position to delay this important nomination at time when North Korea and Iran are saber rattling. We need someone tough in the UN to defend America\’s interests. A Chamberlain clone simply will not do. Please, Senator, do not cave in to the Democrat full court press. They will desert you in a heartbeat , leaving you flapping in a very crisp breeze, just as soon as you have outlived your usefulness on this issue. Please do the right thing for the right reason and confirm John Bolton.