Archive for August, 2005

Initiative Initiative

Wednesday, August 31st, 2005

When asked the question, “What kind of government have you given us?” Benjamin Franklin replied, “A Republic madam, if you can keep it.” Have we?

The Initiative process here in California, was created as a way for the public to address issues that elected officials were keen to avoid, and additionally to seek redress of legislative wrongs. There was and is ample good reason for citizens to engage in this kind of activity. There are a host of hot potato political, social, and cultural problems that most elected public servants simply do not wish to deal with. Hot button items such as marriage, taxes, insurance and incumbent intransigence have lead to significant civic participation in the actual function of government. Legislators, legitimately needing to be held to accountable, have paid the price, in time, for the failings of their forbearers and for the systemic arrogance of the ruling class. We always had term limits: we called them elections. Now that the babies have been thrown out with the bath water, and now that we have a musical chair political structure in which embedded and unassailable bureaucrats are more likely to control things than are elected representatives, we really must pause to take stock of a process that yields so many unintended consequences.

The average citizen does not possess the time, the resources or the authority to gather and organize all the information necessary to make law. Still, the current initiative process requires these very things of him or her. Many in authority abuse the process by placing issues on the ballot that should be dealt with forthrightly by properly and popularly elected public servants. The current process enables some to shirk their responsibilities while simultaneously heaping responsibilities on the shoulders of those least able to properly deal with them. The average citizen is asked to work to pay taxes to support the government, and then is asked to step in where \”girlie-men\” fear to tread and, acting as lay legislators, make law based upon 30-60 second spots of emotionally charged advertising. This is no way to run a country, or a state, especially when the judges get into the act, post election, and render the exercise utterly meaningless. There is something that could be done to make this function as intended. I submit the following as a solution.

The initiative process stays the same as it is in every respect excepting these simple changes. Legislators would be prohibited from placing an initiative on the ballot. Any other citizen or group of citizens, including the Governor, would be permitted to place initiatives on the ballot following the current procedures for such. Upon the passage of an initiative at election time, the measure in question is referred immediately to the legislature where it must be taken up by both the Assembly and Senate within 90 days. The measure must be studied by the appropriate committees and then voted on by the entire body of the Assembly and the entire body of the Senate. Failure to fully act upon the initiative within the 180 day time frame would automatically result in an immediate termination of legislators salaries until the initiative was properly acted upon. Lost pay would be unrecoverable.

This would return to us our Republic and would allow us to keep it.

The Politics of Pain

Wednesday, August 31st, 2005

I have a granddaughter who was born quite prematurely; toward the end of her second trimester in her mother’s womb. She weighed two pounds at birth. Through the marvels of modern health care technology and the devotion of the doctors and nurses in attendance, she survived five major surgeries and six months in the hospital. She is now a freshman in high school and apart from some of the scars she bares from those early operations, and in spite of all the predictions of blindness and brain damage, she is about as normal as a teenager can be.

Her primary doctor once confided to us during one of our daily visits to the Neo-Natal Intensive Care Unit, that her survival had little to do with the actions of his team, that her circumstances could only be seen in the light of the miraculous; quite an admission from a medical professional. This tearful confession by her doctor came one day after he had told us that it was critical for her to start breathing on her own, that she needed to liberate herself from the respirator (her lungs had not been fully formed when she was born). Upon hearing this and before I departed that afternoon, I leaned over her tiny, tiny body and whispered in her ear that she needed to start breathing on her own. When we came in the next day she was not in her usual place and we asked where they had taken her. The nurse excitedly related the events of the night. That little child had pulled the tube from her throat. The nurses reinserted the device as quickly as possible but the baby once again pulled it free. The nurses decided to monitor her oxygen levels as she struggle to breath on her own and were delighted to find that her saturation levels were okay. They then transferred her to an enclosed incubator where she continued to breath on her own.

I would like to publicly thank the United States Air Force and the nation’s taxpayers for footing the $2,000,000 hospital bill. This child has blessed my life every day for the past 15 years.

I relate this story in response to the very recent news that unborn children do not feel pain until late in the pregnancy. I have seen the nurses search for veins in my granddaughter’s tiny hands and feet. I have seen and felt her twitch and squirm as IVs were inserted. I know that babies as premature as three months feel pain. I cannot help but believe that smaller children also feel pain. Any honest Neo-Natal health care worker will tell you the same. Beyond that, my experience has proven that consciousness is evident in the smallest of brains (which leads to the debate about levels of consciousness after birth). No truly rational person could conclude otherwise (which returns us to the same debate). To do so is to purely ignore the evidence at hand for the purpose of advancing an agenda so much at odds with the truth that its authors and supporters can only be seen as dupes or as being diabolically duplicitous.

Thou Shalt Not Kill

Tuesday, August 23rd, 2005

Hugo Chavez is more than a trouble maker. He is clearly dangerous and certainly behaves detrimentally to the interests of his own people, not to mention the other nations in the region, as well as the interests of the United States. Still, this is not a good reason to kill him.

It is tempting to consider whether or not Hitler should have been assassinated in the 1930’s, before the Blitzkrieg, the Cyklon B and the ovens; or Napoleon before he crowned himself Emperor and littered Europe with the victims of his hubris. If these tyrants had been “taken out� before they actually carried out the deeds for which we hold them in eternal contempt, they would not have done these things and would never have raised our undiminished ire. If they did not commit these acts they would never have deserved a death sentence, or a life sentence. We can’t convict and condemn someone for what they might do. (I think there was a recent Tom Cruise movie with this as the central theme.)

That Pat Robertson, a minister of the “Christian� faith should make such a pronouncement can only be seen as extremely unfortunate, if not completely hypocritical. The commandment “Thou Shalt Not Kill� can only be reasonably ignored in circumstances of self-defense, war and as a legally sanctioned consequence for the failure to observe the commandment “Thou Shalt Not Kill�. In making this call for a political assassination, the Reverend is in danger of putting himself on the same moral footing as the radical clerics with whom we are now at war. I would hope that he will quickly and publicly repent of this foolishness.

Hugo Chavez is not our friend but he has yet to do anything to the United States that would justify a “star chamber� death sentence. The history of “tin horn� dictators should lead us to conclude that if Hugo’s actions continue follow his radical ideology, he is likely to engineer his own demise.

Strategy for Dummies

Tuesday, August 23rd, 2005

Those who call for an exit strategy only understand half of what they propose. It is clear that almost everyone is familiar with the meaning of the word “exit�, but this obviously cannot be said of the word “strategy�. Anyone who thinks that a nation at war has any obligation to announce its plans for the conclusion of military activity has no idea what the word strategy means or what its exercise entails. No one who has an inkling of the concept would ever propose such insanity. Imagine explaining our intentions regarding the cessation of hostilities to the Japanese and the Germans (in whose nations we still have a military presence 60 years after the Second World War), a year or two prior to the end of the war. No one in his right mind (or even in his Left mind) would ever suggest such foolishness.

So why now? Why is the War on Terror being treated differently than the conflict against European and Asian Fascism? Are the Islamic Fascists all that different? On the other hand, why is the War on Terror being treated the same as the Vietnam War by the Tom Haydens of the world? This war bears no resemblance to that conflict. The only things the two wars have in common are the willingness of young Americans to fight and die for their country, and the willingness of the Left to support and defend the enemies of our nation.

The New Gaza

Tuesday, August 16th, 2005

In relationships it is always the responsibility of the more mature individual to go the extra mile in the effort to resolve problems. The wiser, more experienced person is likewise more responsible for the maintenance of the relationship in question; the first to forgive and forget. Of course, in order to be successful at least one of the parties needs to sincerely desire a continuation of the connection, especially when the other is less capable of seeing and understanding the benefits of rapprochement.

Some extend themselves to promote goodwill between the parties for the purposes of creating an advantage for a third party. We see this in many marriages where parents resolve to stay together for the benefit of the children, or in cases where divorced parents work together to aid their children.

People don’t have to be married to have a relationship; we have connections to others at work, at school, in church, in professional dealings with attorneys, doctors, insurance agents, etc. At times, some of are forced to deal with people with whom they would not ordinarily share common ground. Politicians are commonly in this position. This might explain why Republicans frequently go out of their way to compromise with Democrats.

Ariel Sharon has illustrated this dynamic in his dealings with the Palestinian Arabs. In an extremely difficult moment in history, Sharon has signaled his willingness to extend the hand of friendship and peace to the Palestinian people, manifesting his understanding of the inevitability of Palestinian self-rule; first as an autonomous entity and then as a separate nation. With this decision comes a considerable sacrifice on the part of Israel and its citizens, especially those who will be removed from their homes in the Jewish settlements in Gaza; settlements that Sharon was instrumental in creating and developing. This move is a significant step in the evolution of a lasting peace in the Middle East. While many do not agree with Sharon, it is a courageous and proper determination. If Israel is ever to hope for a permanent peace with her neighbors, concessions must be made; olive branches offered. This is wisdom.

Now it is time for the other party to the relationship to respond. The weight of the relationship falls on the shoulders of the other party after the first party has made an honest and a sincere gesture. Will it be a reasonable acceptance of the hand of friendship? All must recognize that in relationships one can only control oneself. One can only do what one can do. It is then up to the other party to exercise his or her free will. We cannot coerce another into behaving in a certain way without generating the cynical acceptance of that which is unacceptable. As once eloquently noted by Samuel Butler, and oft repeated since, \”A man convinced against his will is of the same opinion still\”.

This effort on the part of the Israeli government is a departure from decades of dealing differently, forcefully, with the Palestinian Arabs in their midst. The withdrawal from Gaza now shifts the responsibility for a successful resolution to this ancient dispute to the Palestinian Authority, and individual Palestinians. How will they respond?

Do they want peace and self-rule, or do they want to see the ultimate destruction of Israel? As a result of Sharon’s decision, the true face of the Palestinians will be revealed for all to see. So it is when one takes that extra step in a sincere effort to make a relationship work.

My Aching Back

Friday, August 12th, 2005

I have been struggling of late with a strained back. Fortunately it is nothing too serious and will require no surgical intervention. Nevertheless, it is the source of considerable discomfort. Sleeping is a trial in itself as I cannot move without waking from the pain. The doctor has given me muscle relaxants but they have only aggravated the situation, causing nightmares (I dreamt I was feeling compassion toward Hillary Clinton) the first night and sleeplessness in two succeeding nights, in addition to the commonly attendant, plain vanilla, drug-induced zombie-ism associated with these central nervous system depressants. I gave up on these as a solution to my problem after the third night. Naturally, I haven’t felt much like writing. Most days in the last month I have not been capable of focusing well enough to write (some might say that this appears to have always been the case). Suffice it to say that I have not been as productive as I would like to be. As I have confessed before, this blog is more therapeutic for me than it is informational or entertaining for you.

There has been a certain benefit derived from this adversity, however, as I have been able to enjoy (not the right word) a brief respite from the frustration of politics and cultural decay. Some days I just say, WHO CARES! Then I remember that this is exactly the point. We have reached this place in time and space precisely because some cared and some did not. The other reason I write this blog is because I do care about what is happening in our world; because what we do or do not do matters somehow. We may not fully comprehend how all of this human existence thing works but we all know that we need to do what we can do and we all recognize, to a degree, when we are being slothful in that regard. It isn’t simply that citizenship comes with responsibilities but that life itself comes with responsibilities.

We have all been given talents; not that we all recognize the talents we have been given. That some people demonstrate talents they do not possess does not mean that they have no talent. (Even those who are stricken by infirmities that prevent them from doing anything at all have capacities for love and appreciation, and they may well be here for the purpose of providing us with opportunities to serve.) These talents are meant to be employed in our lives to benefit ourselves and others. We will ultimately be held to account for the way in which we have invested our time and our talents.

I consider this blog an exercise of a talent. Whether one agrees or disagrees with the content is largely immaterial. McLuhan believed that the medium is the message. Maybe it is. I have three paintings in my office; each painted by an eight-year-old autistic boy. They are brilliant and meaningful. One can see the content of this child’s imagination beautifully expressed in arcing and interlaced colors; colors that he uses better than I use words to evoke emotion and provoke thought.

I will never be recognized as one of the great writers of our time but if, while reminding myself of my obligations,
in the course of posting thoughts on this page, I should help but one other person recognize a single truth that had previously eluded him, my efforts will have been worthwhile.

By now I have fully proven the point I was making in the opening paragraph; that I have been influenced by the pain and that I still suffer from the residue of the medications.

Before I sign off I wish to express my appreciation for the freedom that gives us the right to write; to make fools of ourselves or to lift ourselves and others with words of comfort or encouragement. Some, including our enemies, rail against the freedoms we enjoy; blaming freedom for the ills of our society and the ills of our world. They do not understand that freedom naturally presupposes the right to do wrong. Freedom is not the problem; the improper exercise of freedom is the problem. People in this land are free to elect options previously unimagined in other times and places. This is the good news and the bad news; people can abuse freedom, harming themselves and others, or people can use it in wisdom and righteousness; blessing themselves and others in the process. In truth, righteousness cannot exist without freedom; a fact unacknowledged by the mullahs and those who do not recognize their brand of righteousness as the significant threat that it is.

Scorched Earth

Friday, August 5th, 2005

As we approach the 60th anniversary of the dropping of the bomb on Hiroshima, it is very important for us to understand why the President made such a monumental decision. Among recently declassified information relative to MAGIC (the code word for the project that intercepted and deciphered Japanese diplomatic and military radio and wire transmissions), it is abundantly clear that the Japanese were preparing their population for an Allied invasion that would have produced carnage on an unprecedented scale for both sides. American casualty counts on the island of Okinawa did not escape the notice of the Nippon warlords. They knew that the American public would not long tolerate the one-to-two casualty ratio experienced on Okinawa, especially when magnified by the task of invading and neutralizing the Japanese home islands. While much has been made of the differing opinions regarding why Truman would choose to employ nuclear weapons against this foe, even a cursory review of the contemporaneous Japanese diplomatic communiques is all one really needs in order to understand why Truman arrived at this decision.

It is undeniable that the Japanese were in no frame of mind to suspend hostilities under the terms the Allies had set. They were not going to accept Unconditional Surrender. They were cozying up to the Soviets (with whom they had a non-aggression treaty that lasted all but the last several weeks of the war) in an effort to split the Allies and indeed to forge an entirely new geopolitical alliance to ride roughshod over all of Asia and the Pacific. This conclusion is drawn from their own words. This fact plus the staggering number of anticipated combat fatalities (150,000 American dead as a minimum starting point-perhaps my father among them- not counting an estimated 300,000 prisoners who were scheduled for death in the event of an invasion; not counting hundreds of thousands of Japanese deaths), were enough to cause the President to pull the nuclear trigger. Historians may argue; compassionate souls on all sides may wring their hands, but the Japanese created and perpetuated the conflict and then acted, time and again, against their own interests and certainly against the interests of a war-weary world. In the final analysis, after the bombs were dropped, while we were still reading and decoding intercepted diplomatic traffic (before loose-lipped congressmen publicly disclosed the existence of MAGIC), the Japanese were successfully making plans to use their new status as the first Nuclear Victims against the US and its interests. They have even hired lobbyists in Washington to further broadcast and magnify their victimhood. How well have they done?

The United States brought an end to this most horrific of human conflicts by having the will to fully defeat an intractable foe. Peace was obtained only by employing overwhelming force and by destroying the enemys will to continue.

If polls can be believed, George W. Bush presently enjoys an approval rating of 38% relative to his handling of the Iraq war. His political enemies will spin this figure as an indictment against the war. The reality is that most Americans are not happy with the way the war is being prosecuted by the administration, but it has nothing to do a lack of support for the war or its purposes. The problem as most see it is that President Bush has fallen prey to those who are trying to win the war without offending anyone. Wars cannot be won this way. People die in wars; things are destroyed. Sherman cut a swath through the South, 100 miles wide; destroying everything in his path and by doing so brought the Confederacy to its knees, mercifully ending our nation\’s bloodiest conflict. The British and American air forces firebombed the cultural center of Dresden on Valentines Day, killing as many as 250,000 (depending on whose numbers one accepts) civilians. Truman put an end to 12 years of brutal Japanese militarism by letting the nuclear genie out of the bottle.

If Bush does the right thing; making continued hostilities and aggression too painful for our enemies to endure, he will regain overwhelming support for the war in Iraq and for the general war on terror. Failing to do so will result in increased danger and increased misunderstanding on the local political front. War is hell. It is best to win it as quickly and as completely as possible. In so doing, even our enemies will respect us and ultimately thank us for bringing peace, tolerance, freedom and stability to their world.

Cindy Sheehan

Thursday, August 4th, 2005

I appreciate the sacrifice that all families make when they send their sons and brothers off to war. I feel deep compassion for those who lose family members to the enemies of our nation. I feel sympathy for Cindy Sheehan whose son died in the service of his country in fighting the terrorists in Iraq. It is painful for a mother to lose a son under any circumstance. I wish her comfort.

There is a separate issue; the reason why her son chose to serve his country as a member of the all-volunteer US Military. Motivated by a desire to serve and with the full awareness that he might become a casualty of the conflict, her son freely elected to enlist. This is not Vietnam; LBJ’s war. That conflict, artificially created by the liberal Democrat, Lyndon Johnson, was the product of the confluence of very nebulous interests, few if any of which appear to be valid in hindsight. Regardless of the reasons for the Vietnam War, the problems the American public had with it were largely inflamed by the draft. A significant number of Americans were of the opinion that a person should not be compelled to fight in an undeclared war fought for ill-defined purposes against an enemy that had done nothing to the United States (Was the Tonkin incident real or manufactured? Had it been real, was it a good enough reason?) The secondary problem was that it did not appear that the US was making a sincere and honest attempt to win. There were sufficient good and valid reasons to oppose that war but some Americans have not progressed beyond that conflict and continue to maintain the 60\’s mindset that all we have to do is give peace a chance. Cindy and others of her political pursuasion have refused to examine their ideological precepts in the light of current realities and have failed to mature beyond the sex, drugs and rock and roll culture that blossomed in the flower-child generation.

Iraq, on the other hand, is a completely different matter. First of all, our nation was attacked on 9-11-2001. Terrorists under the protection of and with the support of nations who oppose the United States, killed over 3000 of our fellow citizens and caused huge economic damage (the total immediate loss wass probably near $100 Billion, and was the largest insurance loss in history in five categories, with untold and incalculable reverberations throughout the economy since). Saddam was known to support terrorists. Most agreed that he was a danger to the region and to the world, and most were convinced that he had or was seeking to possess WMD. He had employed chemical and biological weapons against Iraq’s Kurds and against Iran (I have a Persian friend who fought against Saddam for five years, who lost 40 of his own friends in that war; many to chemical weapons. He has painfully expressed the horror of these WMD attacks to me.). Saddam openly threatened to use them against us. Every reliable intelligence service in the world was convinced of the multiple dangers Saddam posed. Our own CIA chief, Clinton appointee George Tenet, assured the President that this was a SLAM DUNK. At various points in time even the most vociferous opponents of this war had warned of the dangers posed by Saddam’s regime. With all of this in mind, only a Tokyo Rose or a Neville Chamberlain could have arrived at a conclusion other than the one reached by President Bush.

Critics of the war argue that Iraq had nothing to do with the attack on the World Trade Center and therefore the war against Iraq was immoral and unnecessary. Italy had nothing to do with Pearl Harbor and yet we declared war because of Italy’s alliance with Japan and Germany. In other words, friends of our enemies are our enemies. Saddam was a friend to the terrorists. He gave money to the families of suicide bombers. President Bush would have been guilty of gross irresponsibility had he failed to take Saddam down, especially after the lessons learned in the war against Hitler. Lastly, jihad demands of the fundamentalist Muslim that he kill Americans. It is far better that these people come to Iraq in their quest rather than come to America; and they have come by the thousands from every corner of radical Islam. It is far better that our brave soldiers fight these fanatics in the Middle East rather than our police and fire departments and our civilian population having to battle them here at home. Iraq is a magnet for the terrorists. In hindsight, the strategy of employing Iraq as the main battlefield against the terror will be lauded and applauded by everyone with common sense and a shred of objectivity.

In short, the case has long been made for the war against Iraq, except for those who oppose the war for other reasons. These reasons have less to do with the war than with an overwhelming disdain for President Bush. This is Cindy Sheehan’s problem. Her dislike of Bush and her support for Leftist positions and personalities has eclipsed her understanding of and appreciation for her son’s voluntary sacrifice. She dishonors him and every other patriot who has given his or her life for this nation by parroting the lies of the Left. Her son would not be proud of his mother.

I would hope that she continues to camp on the road in Crawford, Texas and that she draws a large crowd of like-minded individuals who hate the president, because the rest of us need to be frequently reminded that we have enemies within our nation as well as enemies without. The Cindy Sheehans of the world may not wield weapons of mass destruction but they do cause harm to this nation and provide aid and comfort to our enemies, the terrorists. She will ultimately be seen for what she truly is; a misguided opportunist of the worst kind; the kind who would trample her own son’s grave to make a name for herself in the process of perversely parading her politics in public.

To the Families of the Fallen

Wednesday, August 3rd, 2005

To those whose sons and daughters, fathers and mothers, brothers and sisters have fallen on fields of battle in Iraq and Afghanistan, I wish to offer my heartfelt condolences for your loss. America is blessed to have such brave sons and daughters who more than self, their country loved. It is a hard thing to lose a loved-one. It is especially hard in this day when the volume of criticism is turned up by an agenda-driven media and its allies. I encourage you to have faith in the choice your son or daughter, brother or sister made when they joined the pantheon of heroes past; volunteering to serve our nation and fight its enemies. Even if you might question other aspects of this conflict, do not doubt the motivations of those who gave the full measure of devotion to the country they loved. For what it is worth, this American mourns with you and prays daily for the Comforter to attend you. May God bless you in your time of sacrifice and may God bless this great Land.

Who Doesn\’t Like Recess

Monday, August 1st, 2005

Three cheers for President Bush, for the fortitude and courage to follow through with the appointment of John Bolton as the US Ambassador to the UN! He has again illustrated the difference between conservatives and liberals. Conservatives are motivated by principles; liberals are driven by agenda, as clearly demonstrated by the concurrent criticism of this recess appointment by Christopher Dodd, whose dad bequeathed him his high office in the US Senate. (Other than that his qualifications include his friendship with Ted Kennedy and their shared capacities for self-indulgence and general overindulgence.)

In 15 minutes we will hear from Kofi Anan. The following is the approximate language and tone his remarks will take.

“We welcome John Bolton as the new US Ambassador to the UN. We know him as a man of honor and conviction who enjoys the full support of President Bush and the Secretary of State. We look forward to working with him and assure him of our complete support and cooperation as we mutually undertake the reforms necessary to maintain the UN’s integrity and continued relevance in the 21st Century.� Or word to that effect.

Kofi knows we have the goods on him and he will play ball if he knows what’s good for him.