Solar Power
Helping People off the Fence

Sep
12

Looking back to the election, I was struck by how instantly this Healthcare debate came. Two months ago, we were arguing over how to fix the economy, now we are convinced that unless we pass a bill to solve our problems in the next month, our Health Insurance system will collapse. Where did this sentiment come from? Only a month ago, we still viewed the economy as our biggest problem, now we are terrified of what our health insurance will look like in ten years. I’m not going to say that the worries about health insurance are hype, but they are exaggerated. Health Insurance needs reform, but not at all costs. Their are better solutions than socialist ones chosen because it was the only one we took the time to put together.

Aug
10

It feels like election season again as the debate over Health Care reform seems to be even more polarising than the campaigns were. Attempting to rally support for the Health Care Bill, leading Democrats began a series of town hall meetings. To their surprise, speakers were booed and argued with by those attending. The White House and other important Democrats have stated that these people are sent by the GOP and do not reflect the grassroots sentiment, calling the protesters “astroturf” (and also Nazis, Teabaggers, members of an angry mob, and racists).

To counter the protestors, President Obama urged that supporters of his Healthcare plan would show up, and several organizations have mobilized their members.

Enter Violence.

At a townhall meeting in St. Louis on the 6th, six people were arrested; two for assault, one for resisting arrest, and three for disturbing the peace. The incident which caused the majority, if not all, of the arrests was the beating of a black man who was handing out buttons and flags saying “don’t tread on me” (a motto that dates back to the American Revolution). The man, Kenneth Gladney, was attacked by union members who had been sent to support the Healthcare proposal. The first attacker, also a black man, called him a n—— before attacking. Gladney was sent to the emergency room for his injuries, and has recovered somewhat (enough to speak on the O’Reilly Factor).

I won’t try to say that the protesters at the meeting were completely innocent, but the blame for this incident falls on President Obama’s supporters. It seems to me that President Obama was asking for trouble by asking organizations to send out supporters. By making a call for a more peaceful protest and simply allowing supporters to show up on their own, many problems that are going to occur could have been avoided. Both factions that show up for the town halls will be more belligerent and aggressive than the last, and violence is going to occur to a larger extent. It’s time to stop the town halls now, or everyone involved will regret it.

P.S. With all this astroturf calling from the Democrats, it makes me wonder what they consider these unions and other pro-Obama groups that are sending members. The conservative movement here so far has been smaller organizations and individuals. The liberal movement here is larger unions and large organisations.

Majority of information found on http://www.stltoday.com/stltoday/news/stories.nsf/laworder/story/0470FEB3219207458625760B001142AC?OpenDocument

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Jul
24

North Korea is having none of the “Six Party Talks”; and maybe just diplomacy in general. Although Secretary of State Clinton still has hope that North Korea will come to the table about nuclear disarmament, North Korea has other ideas, calling the talks “dead” and “over”. And to make it absolutely sure we understood that they didn’t like us or our diplomacy, they called Clinton a “schoolgirl” whose remarks are “vulgar” and who “is by no means intelligent.”

But President Obama still has not thrown in the towel. He has a knew weapon prepared that will force North Korea to there knees at the next negotiations; an incentive package.

Perhaps the President should listen to the response from North Korea again.

Not too long ago, I read a book titled The Korean War by General Mathew B. Ridgeway (commander of the ground forces in Korea for much of the war). At the end of the book, General Ridgeway talks about the lessons to be learned from the Korean War. Here is one lesson we still haven’t learned:

I am doubtful too if we have learned from Korea the further lesson that agreements with the Communists are of no account unless ironclad sanctions which can and will be enforced are included. Two years of trying negotiations in Korea taught us that Communists only when it is to their clear advantage to do so or when the threat of retaliation is too clear to be ignored. Whatever settlement is finally reached with the Communists in Southeast Asia, the inclusion if enforceable sanctions is bound to present extreme difficulties. We must be prepared, however, to face up to the necessity of postponing final agreement until such sanctions have been settled on. (from page 245)

This is an important lesson that all of our leaders need to learn. North Korea, Iran, and Venezuela have all been mishandled. If we want a permanent solution, we must be prepared for military action to back up diplomatic options. That is how our world works.

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Jul
23

Watching the Press Conference last night, I heard a comment that frustrated me greatly. Here’s the question and the full answer (I bolded and italicized the parts I wanted to bring attention to so you don’t have to read all of it, but you might want to anyway):

Q:  Back to the politics of it. You mentioned two Republicans in your opening statement, but you have 60 Democratic seats, a healthy majority in the House. If you don’t get this, isn’t this a fight inside the Democratic Party, and that Republicans really aren’t playing — you can’t really blame the Republicans for this one?

 

THE PRESIDENT: Well, first of all, you haven’t seen me out there blaming the Republicans. I’ve been a little frustrated by some of the misinformation that’s been coming out of the Republicans, but that has to do with, as you pointed out, politics. You know, if you’ve got somebody out there saying — not that let’s get the best bill possible but instead says, you know, let’s try to beat this so we can gain political advantage — well, that’s not I think what the American people expect.

 

I am very appreciative that people like Chuck Grassley on the Finance Committee in the Senate, people like Mike Enzi, people like Olympia Snowe, have been serious in engaging Democrats in trying to figure out how do we actually get a system that works. And even in those committees where you didn’t see Republican votes, we’ve seen Republican ideas. So, for example, in the HELP Committee in the Senate, 160 Republican amendments were adopted into that bill because they’ve got good ideas to contribute.

 

So the politics may dictate that they don’t vote for health care reform because they think, you know, it’ll make Obama more vulnerable. But if they’ve got a good idea we’ll still take it. And in terms of Democrats, the fact of the matter is that because this is a big issue, I think that a lot of Democrats have a lot of different ideas— some of them have to do with regional disparities. For example, you’ve got some Democrats who are concerned that the Medicare reimbursement rates in their communities are too low and so they’d like to see the bill incorporate higher rates for doctors and providers in rural communities to incentivize good care in those communities. That’s a legitimate concern. But the minute you bring up that concern then that adds money, which means that we then have to find additional dollars.

 

So this is part of just the normal give-and-take of the legislative process. I’m confident at the end we’re going to have a bill that Democrats and some Republicans support.

My interpretation of the answer:

 “I’ve been a little frustrated by some of the misinformation that’s been coming out of the Republicans, but that has to do with, as you pointed out, politics. You know, if you’ve got somebody out there saying — not that let’s get the best bill possible but instead says, you know, let’s try to beat this so we can gain political advantage — well, that’s not I think what the American people expect.”

Republicans are lying about the bill so they can beat it in an attempt  to beat me. They really don’t have any good reasons to vote against it.

“So the politics may dictate that they don’t vote for health care reform because they think, you know, it’ll make Obama more vulnerable. But if they’ve got a good idea we’ll still take it. And in terms of Democrats, the fact of the matter is that because this is a big issue, I think that a lot of Democrats have a lot of different ideas”

Republicans won’t vote for it because they are partisan and are trying to make it harder for me. But because we aren’t partisan like the Republicans, we will take their ideas to make the bill better. Democrats have many ideas, though, and some won’t vote for it because of legitimate reasons.

My combined interpretation of the answer:  The Republicans are fighting against this Bill because of partisan politics and don’t really have any good reasons to oppose it except that this bill failing might hurt me. But we Democrats are fair and put their good ideas into the bill anyway, because we aren’t partisan like they are. And its okay for Democrats to vote against the bill because they have legitimate concerns, unlike the Republicans. But I’m sure that we will get the good Republicans and all the Democrats to vote for this bill in the end.

Basically President Obama just called anyone who disagreed with him a politician who cares more about his position than the American people. Politics as usual.

Transcript taken from TPM.

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Jul
20

The Obama administration has moved back the deadline for the task force assigned to advise on policy decisions dealing with terrorist detention, interrogation, and transferal to report. The detention report will be delayed six months and the policy report two months, Foxnews and MSNBCreported. This pushes back new anti-terrorism policies six months at least. The articles gives no reasons for the delay, and it makes me wonder where President Obama’s priorities lie. Instead of moving from President Bush’s “appalling” policies immediately, he tours the world.  Accomplishing… something? Terrorists will not wait for the President to make up his mind on how to deal with them. Making a big deal about President Bush’s policies and then not creating your own is politics as usual.

Another important point to note is what the administration is planning to do with the detainees from Gitmo. Over 50 (with the possibility of more) are cleared for transfer  to other countries; around 30 are being considered for trial in a Federal Court; around 30 others may be tried by a military commission. This leaves a maximum of 110 detainees that will be held indefinitely under no charge, just in a different prison! Just as Bush did it. Just politics as usual.

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Jul
03

In 1776, 13 disjointed, angery colonies declared war on the most powerful nation in the world. Because of national unity, great individual leadership and sacrifice, and-most of all-divine help, a new nation was formed. A nation that would allow the people to rule themselves, not just by controlling the government, but by the small size of the national and local governments and the few necessary laws. The people were responsible for themselves; the national government responsible only for protecting Americans from foreign nations. Finally, freedom.

american flag

Since those years, we have fought numerous wars. We have won many against foreign nations. But today we fight enemies that are not necessarily new, but have recently become more powerful. Unfortunately most of those enemies find root and live in this nation. Many of the philosophies that are being embraced and accepted in modern culture are going to harm and possibly destroy our nation. Our own apathy and the willingness to sacrifice freedom for security will bring about our ruin. Our dependence on an all powerful government instead of an all powerful God will send us to the grave. America has come so far, but it must go farther yet. May we see the error of our ways. May God bless the USA.

Jun
21

Charges of socialism, fascism, racism, and communism are flying around, and have been flying around, for quite some time. Many who use those attacks hardly know their meaning and are just hoping for some response. But not all of these charges are unfounded. Some people are using these terms correctly. That’s why so many people are using these charges; someone used them correctly and people responded well because the charge was true. The charge of socialism and communism is well founded.

Socialism:

  1. A political theory or system in which the means of production and distribution are controlled by the people and operated according to equity and fairness rather than market values
  2. A political movement based on principles of socialism, typically advocating an end to private property and to the exploitation of workers.
  3. In Marxist theory, the stage after the proletarian revolution when a society is changing from capitalism to communism, marked by pay distributed by work done rather than need.

According to Encarta, that’s socialism. What socialism (and kind of what communism) is in plainer terms:  A political system where a big benevolent government takes care of your every need as determined by that same government, and where everyone is ‘placed’ on the same level (equal). The government accomplishes this by stealing from the “haves” and giving to the “have nots”.

(I’m going to assume you know that socialism doesn’t work, but in case you don’t, Rassmussen Reports that only 57% of adults believe that Capitalism is better than socialism, and 20% believe Socialism is better than Capitalism. You won’t be alone.)

I have several reasons for saying that Socialism is slowly creeping in:

  1. The high taxes on the rich and the talk of higher taxes. Take from the haves and give to the have nots. Not everyone can be rich, so everyone must be poor. Not that anyone would phrase it that way.
  2. The many social programs we have and the talk about universal health care. “We’re the government and we’re here to save you” attitude is very socialist and very expensive. Only God can save people from themselves.
  3. The number of people who no longer are worried about Socialism. Now that we aren’t fighting communism and socialism, it must be okay to adopt. The founding fathers were not stupid men. I believe they had some divine help. The government they set up will work if you make it.
  4. The size and continuing growth of our government. The government has one purpose to defend you. They defend you against enemy nations, criminals, and accused criminals from being sent to jail if innocent. Everything else is expendable.
  5. The huge number of laws we have and are adding to. If you thought your friends were control freaks, wait until you see socialist governments.

These are all socialist programs and policies. Some of these programs seemed like good ideas at the time, all of these have turned out disasters.

One last thought; many well known socialists and communists have said that socialism and communism won’t come to America openly, they will come as government programs and laws. Someday we will just wake up realise we are socialist. I always admired Russia…

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Jun
18

PETA ( People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) has recquested that President Obama treat flies more humanely the next time he encounters one. The Presidents barbaric streak became evident during an interview when he swatted a fly that had been annoying him. To help Obama handle the next situation more humanely, PETA has sent him a live trap for flies.

I know I am not the only one who finds this ridiculous. While I wouldn’t go out and kill a bunch of animals and then leave them to rot, I enjoy killing ants and find hunting fine. I definitely don’t mind killing a fly. I hope that 99% of America (99.999% of the world) would agree with me. Animals are not as important or worth as much as a human being. The Bible states that they were placed here for our use (but not abuse). I think President Obama handled the situation very well. If he caught it and pulled off the wings and legs while it was still alive, then maybe I could see their point; maybe…

Jun
06

While many people seem to write North Korea and some of the other nations labeled as the “Axis of Evil” off as Nazi Germany wannabes, North Korea has achieved what Hitler had dreamed of. They have nuclear weapons, and worse, they have nuclear weapons that can hit us. Hawaii and most of Alaska are within range. While the rest of the US seems to have ignored the launches, many Alaskans are more than a little worried.

US citizens have good reasons to be worried about North Korea’s nukes. We are at WAR with North Korea. Its a fact; we have yet to sign a peace treaty with them. A beligerent nation that we have a tentative peace based on an argreement not ment to be lasting has the capabilities to decorate our skies with mushroom clouds. I, personally, doubt that our national security is all that its cracked up to be. But our safety will improve soon, because I heard that the UN planned on passing a non-binding resolution against North Korea.

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Jun
01

Since late in President Bush’s second term, the argument has raged over what actually constitutes torture. Now as President Obama and Congress move to close Guantanamo Bay, arguments have become even more energetic. While I did, and still do, hold the position that waterboarding and sleep deprivation are not torture, I didn’t have any facts, and began researching. Here is the evidence I have found:

My first point to consider in the argument is that these government officials knew the stakes. They knew what they were doing would be controversial. I am absolutely positive that those who ordered enhanced interrogation techniques had people pouring over international and national laws trying to find if they could be prosecuted for torturing. They knew, or at least thought they knew, something that those who are crying ‘torture!’ missed.

The first place I thought to check for a definition of torture was the Geneva Convention (no definition). Finding the Geneva Convention relative to the Treatment of Prisoners of War, I quickly discovered that, according to Article 4, terrorists are not Prisoners of War-they don’t carry arms openly, are not easily recognisable, and do not follow international laws-and would not have protection under the Geneva Convention. While this doesn’t prove anything as far as torture; it does expand our options when interrogating terrorists.

After doing more searching, I found the the UN Convention Against Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman, and Degrading Treatment or Punishment. Article 1, Section 1, more clearly defined torture as:

any act by which severe pain or suffering, whether physical or mental, is intentionally inflicted on a person for such purposes as obtaining from him or a third person information or a confession, punishing him for an act he or a third person has committed or is suspected of having committed, or intimidating or coercing him or a third person, or for any reason based on discrimination of any kind, when such pain or suffering is inflicted by or at the instigation of or with the consent or acquiescence of a public official or other person acting in an official capacity. It does not include pain or suffering arising only from, inherent in or incidental to lawful sanctions.”

The definition defines torture somewhat, but it is still pretty broad. The actual definition of torture is relative to the definition of ‘severe’. The worst part of that definition is that severe can be relative. Using this definition, we come back to the “yes it is/no it isn’t” argument.

 The United States signed the UN Convention against torture, but with several ‘reservations, declarations, and understandings’. Part of that more closely defines torture:

“That with reference to Article 1, the United States understands that, in order to constitute torture, an act must be specifically intended to inflict severe physical or mental pain or suffering and that mental pain or suffering refers to prolonged mental harm caused by or resulting from: (1) the intentional infliction or threatened infliction of severe physical pain or suffering; (2) the administration or application, or threatened administration or application, of mind altering substances or other procedures calculated to disrupt profoundly the senses or the personality; (3) the threat of imminent death; or (4) the threat that another person will imminently be subjected to death, severe physical pain or suffering, or the administration or application of mind altering substances or other procedures calculated to disrupt profoundly the senses or personality.”

This defines mental torture, but the physical part is still just “severe” pain.

One other part of the US’s understanding of the UN’s C.A.T. (Convention Against Torture) interests me:

“That with reference to Article 1 of the Convention, the United States understands that “sanctions” includes judicially imposed sanctions and other enforcement actions authorized by United States law or by judicial interpretation of such law. Nonetheless, the United States understands that a State Party could not through its domestic sanctions defeat the object and purpose of the Convention to prohibit torture.”

Doing my best to interpret that and combine it with the last part of Article 1, Section 1, I get: [torture] does not include pain or suffering resulting from United States laws or enforcement actions or Judicial interpretation of those laws or enforcement actions (Probably not relevant to waterboarding, but a good argument for the death penalty).

Using these definitions, I came up with my definition of torture. Torture is any act which intentionally inflicts severe physical pain or severe and/or permanent mental damage, but does not include pain or suffering resulting from United States laws or enforcement actions or Judicial interpretation of those laws or enforcement actions.

Is Waterboarding Torture?:

To decide if waterboarding is torture, it must be compared to the definition of torture. According to a man who was waterboarded by the Japanese during WWII, waterboarding isn’t very painful, and most sources agree. It also causes no lasting harm physically; so to be torture, it must cause long-term mental damage. The government has stated that waterboarding does not leave permanent psychological scars, and has submitted the more than 26,000 US soldiers that have been waterboarded during S.E.R.E. training as evidence. Several reporters and talk show hosts have also been waterboarded, and have not been psychologically scarred from it (I have spent quite a bit of time searching for a report on long-term effects of waterboarding, as far as I can tell, none exist). Waterboarding, therefore,  is not torture.

Is Extreme Sleep Deprivation Torture?

This one is a lot easier. It inflicts no pain, and their are no long term psychological effects. Sleep Deprivation is obviously not torture.

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