Stockton Earth Home Project

An earth home is no more a cave, than a penthouse is an attic.

Personal Views - A Collection of Editorializations

Unrelated to building a house, sometimes discussion comes up related to politics, religion, etc.  I don't claim to be an expert, but I have educated myself on multiple viewpoints of various subjects, and since the likes of Rosie O'Donnell, Michael Moore, Al Franken, etc have chimed in with less study of the issues, I figure my viewpoint is at least as credible as their's.  I'm American, after all, and have a right to my opinion(s).
And before anyone gets offended (because people all too often are offended by something someone else believes nowadays), just remember that I mean no harm to anyone.  These are my opinions.  You are welcome to your own.  I'm not saying that I'm better than anyone else.  These are just my opinions and/or observations.

Global Warming

I've got a whole discussion of Global Warming elsewhere on this site.  I'll comment here by saying that it seems politically correct to believe that Global Warming is man-made, although the scientific community does not agree on this.  In fact, a significant number of scientists believe this is nothing more than cyclical.  In a recent world conference in Bali, a statement was made that they had a scientific concensus.  Most people believe this, but the reality is that 59% of their own survey actually would not commit to the statement about global warming (global climate change).  How can that be a concensus?  With political correctness, 41% is a concensus.

The guy (a meteorologist) that started the Weather Channel, says that Al Gore's global warming argument, is based on false math and that the conclusions are wrong.  He says that the reason that so many scientists follow the global warming bandwagon, is because they stand to lose government funding if they vocalize disagreement.  Case in point is a lead scientist at NASA who vocalized is non-belief in global warming.  Less than a week later, he was recanting his statements.  NASA didn't want to risk losing funding from a democratically dominated Congress.  NASA got their funding.

I believe that Global Warming is just a political movement for the UN to justify taxing the people of the United States, and that the citizens of the United States are giving up sovereignty.

The bottom line to me is that we could stand to pollute much less than we do.  We (as a society) waste too much.  We pollute too much.  It's time to do a better job.

 

Homosexuality - Gay Issues

Most know what John 3:16 said.  It basically preaches to the "saved".  I think that John 3:17 is as equally strong, but is meant for the unbeliever, and is definitely non-judgemental.

For God sent the Son into the world, not to condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through him.

What's so bad about that?

I try to live my life believing this, and that I am not perfect, and that God is, and that He meant salvation for everyone.

I certainly don't want to be in judgement of someone else, just because they live life differently than I do.  I am not perfect either.  I'm not even close to perfect.
What would Christ do?  He would love other people just as He loved me in my imperfection.  I thank God for this, and because I thank God for this, I try to be the same way as Christ was (sometimes faltering in the process, but believing that Christ is for everyone, not just the 'perfect' people).

 

Abortion

It's murder.

It's a baby, not a fetus.  They can call it what they want, but in the scientific world where we talk about life (in the animal kingdom, of which humans are a part) it's zoology.  Zoologically speaking, life has always began at conception.  This was changed only for humans, because of political correctness.

It's murder.

In the case of incest or rape... it's still murder.  It's not the baby's fault that his dad is a jerk.  Killing the baby doesn't make it better.

I know this is an inconvenient opinion, but it's my opinion.  I struggle with it, because I want to have a viewpoint that makes people happy, but I can't.  It's murder and I'm sorry if you disagree.  However, zoologically speaking you can go to jail for the murder of two endangered animals if you kill a pregnant whale; because the whale fetus is deemed to be a whale (and therefore endangered).  So if a whale fetus is consider a whale, then a human fetus is considered to be human.  Killing one is murder.

 

Imminent Domain

Make no mistake, imminent domain sacrifices the rights of the few, for supposedly, the good of the many.  The concept basically is that the government can seize the property of an individual (or group of individuals) for the purpose of infrastructure of a community, or the state, or the federal government.  They essentually take your property and give you what they deem to be "fair market value" of the property as it is now, rather than what it is truly worth upon "development".

The concept of imminent domain is unconstitutional and one that we grew up with after many saw the facist concepts of land ownership and control.  No one really complained about it, except for the individuals whose property was seized.  It was for "the good of the community" and so imminent domain has been mostly unnoticed.

The concept has changed lately, to include the ability of the government to seize your property, and then sell it to someone that wishes to develop the property, with the belief that, if developed, the land will bring greater tax revenes than if the original owner were allowed to continue owning the property.  This is deemed to be "for the good of the community", but in reality, it is for the good of the politician that wants to be re-elected, and for the good of the rich, who stand to make a lot of money off of development of land that is not their's to develop.

The concept is unconstitutional, at least in the spirit of constitutional thought.  I believe it is wrong.

 

Racism

Racism is wrong.  It's a sin.  I'm sorry that people have done it and hidden behind the church.  Treating someone badly because of the color God made them, is a slap in the face to God Himself.  Case closed.  There's no reason to even go on about this subject.

 

Smoking

This is a touchy subject.  People who smoke don't understand that they stink, and that everything and everyone around them ends up stinking too.  They don't understand those of us who have breathing problems around their smoke.

They have a right to smoke.  They don't have a right to force it on me.

I'm not asking to have anything put in the air that wasn't there originally, and I'm not asking to have anything taken out that was already there.  I'm just asking to breathe air and not have health risk inflicted upon me.

And with regards to the healthcare costs; people who smoke have a right to do so, but should I have to pay for their healthcare costs when they're too old and nasty to take care of themselves any longer?  Why is that forced upon me too?

I guess that's the same thing as with people who are overweight (I, being in that category).  The main thing is, my fat is my health risk.  It's not imposed on anyone else, although the cost of it is, much like the costs of heart and lung disease from smoking.

 

Illegal migration

The topic is illegal migration, but we often hear it as illegal immigration.  That term is mis-applied, in many, many cases.  There is no immigration going on.  It is basically an invasion.  It's not an invasion for any malicious motive, but rather (in most cases) just people trying to make a better living for their families.  Nonetheless, it is illegal.  It is stealing the benefits of our economy.  Stealing is wrong.  It is morally wrong.  It hurts people who are in this country legitimately.  It is immoral.  It is criminal.

Typically, people who have my viewpoint are quickly labelled as racists and equally quickly dismissed.  I am not a racist.  See my stance on racism.

First of all, I know people in the construction business (the workers, not the company owners) who were driven out of the business that they had earned a living with.  Roofers, carpenters, concrete workers, brick masons, floor and tile workers, etc couldn't compete because, as Americans, they want to be paid a decent wage.  They have to (by law) be paid worker's comp insurance, social security and other withholding.  Illegal workers don't have this issue.  Employers see benefit to hiring illegal workers.

Illegal migration is essentially welfare for the rich.  It's not for the benefit of the illegal workers.  If it were, the employers would be pushing to pay social security, worker's comp and other benefits for these workers.  Make no mistake.  This is for the benefit of the owners of these businesses, not for the workers.

I know of a brick mason in Broken Arrow, Oklahoma that was run out of business because he couldn't compete with other contractors that were hiring illegal workers.  He didn't hire illegals, and so he slowly saw his business go away.  In the end, he was by himself and tried to earn a living.  He couldn't compete and finally just tried to get a job as a worker with one of his competitors.  He still couldn't get work, because those companies only hired illegal workers.  It wasn't to their advantage to hire him.

So this man was in danger of losing his home if he didn't find another way to make a living.  And this is just one of many, many stories of this kind.

In addition, there have been 15 to 22, on average, American citizens killed every day since 9/11/2001.  This is more than the soldiers killed in Afghanistan and Iraq, combined.  And yet, we hear nothing about this.  Why?  Because there's a social agenda, and also there's an economic agenda.  Between the businesses (the rich) and the social agenda, it's hard to fight against.

I can tell you that I was once told by a seemingly good person, that he had helped a guy from Mexico by hiring him to work on the shed in his back yard.  This guy told about how the guy he'd hired was "just trying to earn a living".  But in the end, the guy was bragging about how good of a deal he got for the work.  So in the end, no matter what he said, he was exploiting this worker, not helping him.  If he were truly helping him, he would've paid him the same as he would have an American worker.  He was getting cheap labor.  That was his motification.  His motivation wasn't to help someone down on their luck.  His motiviation wasn't to help someone who wanted a job to better himself.

I'm sick of trying to defend my stance on this subject.  I've been called a racist.  I've been called ignorant.  The people saying this can cite no specifics for either charge.  As far as I'm concerned, they're misguided idiots that don't want to admit that I'm right.

I could be wrong, but this I know;  The people I'm referring to are here illegally.  That's wrong.  They are hurting legitimate workers.  That's wrong and it's illegal and we're supposed to have people enforcing these laws to protect us.  Where are they now?

Universal Healthcare

The concept of universal healthcare seems a noble one.  However, the Bible doesn't mention any God-given right to free healthcare.  The concept of universal healthcare really is one where "someone else" pays for it.  Considering a bureaucracy that takes over $70,000 to give a welfare family $10,000, I don't see that a government run healthcare system is going to be a good one.  However, I think the reason we even have this discussion is because of the insurance companies who've cut corners and denied services, that we, in fact, illegal to deny.  I know of a specific case where (without getting to specific) a man had to go to his Congressman, a physician, with the issue.  The Congressman knew the law and knew that it was illegal to deny the coverage.  So it was only after this, that the man got what was rightfully his.
So what I'm saying is that what you think is a free-market issue, and that the free market will take care of it; is mute.  The free-market is profit driven and they will screw the consumer any time they think they can get away with it.  So unfortunately, the government has to be involved.

I can tell you from experience, that free healthcare already exists.  It's at every emergency room in the country.  People go there for free healthcare.  Some go because they can't afford healthcare (although in most cases, those who say they can't afford it, seem to be able to afford a better television than the one I have, and they always seem to drive nicer vehicles than the one I drive).

I'm not sure the healthcare that most politicians are anguishing over (one side or the other), is the right solution.  No one is considering the supply of healthcare workers to provide these universal healthcare services.  In some areas, the ratio of healthcare worker (specifically doctors and nurses)  to patients is adequate.  In some cases, it is not.  I've had a case where I was having chest pains every now and then.  When I finally decided that I needed to see a doctor about it to get some tests done and see if there might be an issue, I was told that the earliest the doctor could see me was almost 30 days from the day I called.  By that time, I'd either be better, or I'd be dead.

I was told that if I had an immediate problem, that I'd need to go to an emergency room.  And of course, I didn't have an immediate problem.  It was a recurring problem that never lasted long enough for me to go to an emergency room.  However, if it was a growing problem, it was one that could kill me; and I couldn't get in to see a doctor.

This was with an HMO doctor.  With universal healthcare, there'd be an even greater ratio between doctor and patients.  It would be worse for me.  I'm paying the bill and now I can't get in to see the doctor, but someone who doesn't work gets in sooner than me?  I don't see that as a solution.

I think the real issue is that everyone needs catastrophic healthcare insurance.  And those that can pay, should be forced to pay (via taxes).  It means that if you get cancer, you wont lose your home to get treated for it.  However, since it's catastrophic healthcare insurance, you're not covered for routine office visits, and this would require healthcare insurance like what most of us are used to.  However, I think the co-pays need to be higher, so that people wont abuse the system.  If they have to pay more, then maybe people wont go to the doctor every time they get the sniffles.  That might make the doctor to patient ratio one where someone really needed to get treatment (or tested) for a potentially big problem, would be able to get in to see the doctor within a day or two of calling.

I'm sick of hearing politicians talk about universal healthcare as a right, so that they can buy votes with my tax dollars; and then it'll be even tougher for me to get in to see the doctor, but I'll be paying even more for the same insurance than I do now.

In summary, I think our current insurance policies are abused by people who need to grow up, take care of themselves a little better.  Current co-pays need to be increased.  There needs to be catastrophic healthcare insurance to cover us for catastrophic health problems (like cancer, like heart attacks, serious diseases, etc).  The bum that wont work, has no right to get in to see the doctor because he's got a cold.  If he cuts himself because he went to sleep on broken glass, he can go to an emergency room like he does now.  You can't stop people from being idiots, but you can stop enabling them by making free healthcare insurance available to them.

I know that I haven't covered this issue in detail.  I'm just trying to cover it from a different perspective.  The doctor to patient ratio is a definite issue that the politicians aren't even addressing.  They're looking at national numbers, not demographics.  They're looking at voting blocks.  They're not looking at real people and real health problems, and they're not looking at how hard it will be for the people paying the bills, to actually get in to see a doctor.

Stem Cell Research

The concept of medical research on the tissue of aborted babies is not a new one.  For the sake of this discssion, I'm strictly referring to embrionic stem cells.

We think of Joseph Mengele as a monster.  Nowadays, people want to give awards to scientists doing the same kind of research.  It's equally barbaric, but it seems a bit more pallatable now.

Granted, there are some horrible diseases that there might be some cures (and/or certainly treatment) for diseases such as Parkinson's and Alzheimer's.  There are a host of other potential benefits in treatment.  However, this does not make it moral to be murdering babies for the sake of medical research and treatment of people with medical problems.  Again, Joseph Mengele was approaching this same issue, but it wasn't morally right then, and it's not morally right now.  The two biggest differences from then and now, is that he was doing research on people who didn't have a choice (although today's babies don't have that choice either), and he was doing it before a time when abortion was so accepted (like it is today).

I'm not going to paint today's researchers out to be monsters, or to give some kind of legitimacy to what Joseph Mengele was doing.  What I am saying is that it was wrong then, and I believe that it is wrong today.

I'm sorry that people have Parkinson's, and I'm sorry that they have Alzheimer's.  Some day, I might have a relative that might be stricken with a disease like this.  Some day I might be faced what some people are faced with now.  I can tell you that it is still wrong to kill babies and use their mutilated bodies for the sake of medical research.

I know that people will disagree with me.  You're welcome to your opinion.  I'm entitled to mine.

 

Pro Sports: Recrutment Bypassing College

This issue is a little different from most of the other issues I've written about.  However, it's a real one that crops up from time to time.  The issue is whether or not professional sports leagues should allow recruiting players right out of high school, rather than letting them complete some college or to get a college degree prior to a professional career in sports.  There have been players who've gone from 12th grade graduation, to signing a contract to play for a professional sports team.  Often, more often than it used to be, players quit college only after a year or two, to pursue a career in sports.

My stance is that this is a free country.  You have a Constitutional right to be an idiot.  If you want to go from high school straight to playing for the NBA, you have a right to do so.

In fact, some people just aren't meant for college.  It doesn't make sense to force them to go, just so that they can fulfill this requirement and then get recruited to play afterwards.  I think that generally, it should be expected that the guy graduate high school, but then after that, if he is 18 years of age, he should be allowed to sign a contract to play for whatever team wants to recruit him.  He's old enough to be drafted into the military (if the draft were to be re-instated).  If he's old enough for that, and he's old enough to vote, then he's old enough to decide if he wants to go to college or not.

However, I think the leagues do have some responsibility.  Many of these players are still just kids.  Many haven't been very far from home.  Many have never had much money and most have never had any guidance on money management.  I think the leagues should have some orientation of all of their players so that these guys at least have some start, some clue, as to what to do with all of this money that they're going to be flooded with.  As it is, these guys get the money and they go nuts.  They spend on all kinds of things.  And then if they get some serious injury in a year or two and can no longer player, then they find out they've spent unwisely, made poor or little investments, and are left virtually penniless and with no education to make a living (other than a high school diploma).

This wont stop the Michael Vicks that are going to keep coming.  The leagues recruit criminals because they can play a sport really well.  The team owners.  The league president.  The coaches, all know what kind of person they are recruiting.  You don't offer a guy a million dollar contract and not do some background check on the guy.  They know.  They just don't care as long as he can play.  But they know and they should be more responsible.

Israel

We are to pray for the peace of Israel (Psalm 122:6).  We are to bless the Jewish people (Genesis 12:3).  We are to speak out for the sake of Israel (Isaiah 62:1).

People say that we shouldn't defend Israel.  This is in direct conflict with the Word of God.

A common misperception is that the Jews were forced out of Israel by the Romans in 70 AD, and then 1800 year later, they were suddenly returned to "Palestine" demanding their country back.  The truth is that Jews have maintained their ties to their homeland for 3,700 years.

Their claim to Israel is on at least 4 premises:  1) The Jewish people settled and developed the land; 2) the international community granted political sovereignty in that land to the Jews, 3) the territory was captured in defensive wars, and 4) God promised the land to Abraham.

By the 1800s, more than 10,000 Jews lived throughout what is now Israel.  The Balfour Declaration of 1917, the League of Nations mandate, which incorporated the Balfour Declaration, the United Nations partition resolution of 1947, all validate the existence of Israel.

Wasn't Palestine always an arab nation?

The term "Palestine" is believed to be derived from the Philistines, an Aegean people who, in the 12th Century BC, settled along the Mediterranean coastal plain of what is now Israel.  In the second century CE, after crushing the last Jewish revolt, the Romans first applied the name Palaestina to Judea (the southern portion of what is now called the West Bank) as a means of minimizing the Jewish claim to the land.  The arab word Filastin is derived from the Latin name Palaestina.

Palestine was never an exclusively Arab country, although Arabic gradually became the language of most of the population after the Muslim invasions of the seventh century. No independent Arab or Palestinian state ever existed in Palestine. When the distinguished Arab-American historian, Princeton University Prof. Philip Hitti, testified against partition before the Anglo-American Committee in 1946, he said: “There is no such thing as ‘Palestine’ in history, absolutely not".

Prior to partition, Palestinian Arabs did not view themselves as having a separate identity. When the First Congress of Muslim-Christian Associations met in Jerusalem in February 1919 to choose Palestinian representatives for the Paris Peace Conference, the following resolution was adopted.

We consider Palestine as part of Arab Syria, as it has never been separated from it at any time. We are connected with it by national, religious, linguistic, natural, economic and geographical bonds.

In 1937, a local Arab leader, Auni Bey Abdul-Hadi, told the Peel Commission, which ultimately suggested the partition of Palestine: “There is no such country as Palestine! ‘Palestine’ is a term the Zionists invented! There is no Palestine in the Bible. Our country was for centuries part of Syria.

Palestinian Arab nationalism is largely a post-World War I phenomenon that did not become a significant political movement until after the 1967 Six Day War and Israel's capture of the West Bank.

The list goes on and on of the myths regarding the Palestinian claim to the land.  The fact is, it belongs to the Jews.  It has always belonged to the Jews.  And, according to the Bible, it always will.

Not only that, but it is my belief, that being in conflict with the Word of God, that woe is to the people pushing for Israel to give up more land for peace.  They are this seemingly tiny little country with virtually no oil, and yet there are these oil-rich arab nations all around them continually pushing for them to give up land.  Giving up land will never be enough.  It's not about the land, because there's no oil on it.  It's about the fact that there are Jews there.  It has always been this way and it is unreasonable to assume anything different.

Educate yourself on the subject.  There is a lot about Israel that I didn't know.  I thought it was all about 1947.  It isn't.  Don't be misled by what you've been told and/or what you have assumed.  Learn the truth.

The bottom line:  We are to pray for the peace of Israel (Psalm 122:6).  We are to bless the Jewish people (Genesis 12:3).  We are to speak out for the sake of Israel (Isaiah 62:1).

Medical Marijuana

I have changed my stance on this subject.  I was alway against legitimizing the use of marijuana for medical purposes; until I was married to a nurse and learned a little more on the subject.

The evidence is there that marijuana can relieve certain types of pain, nausea, vomiting and other symptoms caused by illnesses such as multiple sclerosis, cancer, AIDS, glaucoma.  It is also good for the treatment of side effects of harsh drugs sometimes used to treat these diseases.

In addition, marijuana can be used safely in these treatments, and can be less toxic than many of the drugs that doctors prescribe every day right now.

Although smoking can be bad for you, marijuana doesn't have to be smoked to be affective in treatments.  It can be processed and given in pill form.  You can eat the seeds if you wish.  Smoking is just the easiest means of consuming the drug (for medical purposes or otherwise).

I do not condone the use of this, or any other drug, for recreational purposes.  However, there are people that are sick and this drug seems to relief their pain in ways that other drugs will not.  For this purpose, I am in favor of the use of medical marijuana.

I stress that I am not a doctor.  I am not a nurse.  I'm married to one, and after her "educating me" on the subject, I took it upon myself to read some more and I found out enough credible information, from credible sources, to conclude that marijuana can, and should, be used to treatment of certain diseases and/or symptoms from other drugs.

Creationism vs. Science

This is a controversial subject that I think too much is made of.  Here's the basic issue:  You have people that don't believe in God (and or they aren't sure if He exists).  There are people that believe in God.  One side believes that we evolved into the current existence.  The other side believe that God made it happen.  Neither side is going to convince the other.

Here's my take.

Fossils?  There are hundreds of thousands of fossils in museums around the world.  There has yet to be one transitional figure in all of them.  There's been fraud or hoaxes, such as ape teeth being filed flat to resemble those of a human, but there is not one transitional figure in all of the fossil remains.

Carbon dating?  Carbon dating in its simplest form (and this is an oversimplification) is based upon a benchmark.  In other words, they find an item they believe to be a certain age.  They measure it and from that have a benchmark to measure and calculate the age of other items and/or substances.  They have recalibrated the way that carbon dating is done, several times.  It's not an exact science.  It's take on faith that it is correct, but no one really knows for sure.  So why is this science and not faith, just as Christianity is only faith?

How do I, as a Christian reconcile my belief with the scientific evidence that I have seen, such as dinosaur remains, etc?

Don't read any further if you don't believe in God.  My view will not convince you and I'm not trying to convince you.  My view is just to reconcile with my beliefs, and to share with those who might share my beliefs.  It's not to convince anyone, and none of it is scripturally based.  It is speculation based upon evidence, much like other speculation that is called science.

Neanderthal?  Cromagnum?  Dinosaurs?  How do I reconcile with their existance?

First of all, the jury is out on how old the earth really is.  No one knows.  Speculation, based upon a somewhat arbitrary system called carbon dating, says that the earth is millions of years old.  Some Bible literalists believe the earth is only a few thousand years old.  I don't really care.

Look at the nature of God?  He created all that is created.  He created the Universe.  He did it in 6 days, whether those were 24 hour days, or some greater increments per day.  What if, being a Creative Being that He appears to be, this wasn't the first Creation?  What if, one this ball of rock (called earth), He'd had a creation or two, or three, etc previously?  He could've had races of people and animals that didn't exist in His most recent creation (the one we're in now).

If all that were true, then what we know of Neanderthal, Cromagnum and the dinosaurs, could just be animals and/or races of people that He'd previously made in previous creations on this same rock.

Who are the angels?  Could they be the souls from previous creations?  And if there were a revolt in heaven, and the devil and his bunch are a segment of these angels (as the Bible says), then it might be safe to assume that this Creative Being will create again, and some of us will join the angels in serving God in heaven, and helpiing with His new creation(s).

This is just speculation, but certainly, you must agree that God is a creative being.  It would be unreasonable to assume that this timeless being (with no beginning and no end) would never create again.  Certainly He will, and He probably has before.

The bottom line is that I believe there is a God that created the universe.  Even the physicist and writer Stephen Hawking, believes that there must've been some timeless being or beings, that have always existed, that created the universe.  I believe this timeless being is the God of Abraham ... the God of the Bible.

And if I'm wrong, then when I die, it's no big deal.  There are no consequences for this belief.

If you die without knowing God (and I believe specifically we know God through Christ), and you are wrong, then there are some big consequences.  I believe I'm safer in these two theories.

World Court

I'm against the World Court.  There's too much corruption for us to give up sovereignty to a World Court.  It would be wrong and it would be foolish to do so.

Rather than mention names, I'll say that I used to work with a guy from Army Special Forces (sometimes referred to at the Green Berets) who served in Somalia.  He and other soldiers were sent there to help the poor starving people of that country, who were essentially held hostage by war lords fighting for control of the country.  Food drops from the UN were routinely stolen by these warlords and sold to the highest bidder.  The people weren't being helped until US forces got there and tried to do something about it.

Unbeknownst to us at the time, al Qaeda operatives were there actively warring against us, and against the starving people of that country.

My co-worker told several stories about his time in Somalia, as well as northern Iraq before the invasion of Desert Storm.  He was a "lifer".  He liked being a soldier and he was proud to be an American soldier.  He knew that there were men who weren't as proud and sometimes took the wrong approach, sometimes illegal approaches, to conducting war and/or police actions.  He, however, was a lifer, and wouldn't have been if he didn't like it; and he was proud to do the job right.

One day while in Somalia, a worker from an aid station gave him a roll of film and told him of the torture of some Somali men to get information about the activities of one of the war lords.  My friend sent this roll of film, and the story given him, back to an aircraft carrier off the coast.  Within a day or two, he was summoned back to the carrier.  He was flown there promptly to explain the roll of film.

He found out that some Somalis had been tied to the exhaust pipes of a truck, and then the motor started so that an interrogation could begin.  I don't know what information, if any, was gathered from these men.  I do know that it was Dutch soldiers that conducted the interrogation.

I don't know if it was due to military and/or diplomatic incompetence, or if it was global politics, but the end result by the time the Pentagon and the White House got through with it, our soldiers were guilty of this war crime and my friend was a prime subject of the charges, even though he was never on-site.  The photographs, I believe, even showed Dutch uniforms, but those photos seemed to have either disappeared, or were totally ignored.

Was this a political move to keep an important alliance with the Netherlands?  Having them be guilty of such a crime wouldn't have been good for keeping their involvement with the efforts in Somalia.  It seemed more expediant for US forces to be guilty, and keep the coalition intact.

So our government sold out our own soldiers, and if there had been a World Court, our guys were going to be subject.  We can never let this happen.  My friend did not deserve such a thing.  He'd give his life for his country, but it would be wrong for his country to sacrifice him for an alliance.  My feeling is that if the alliance were that delicate, then it wasn't much of an alliance and we didn't need it anyway.  As far as I'm concerned, having the UN is Somalia was unnecessary anyway.  The alliance claims involvement, but rarely did any of these other nations face fire from the enemy.  That was left to US forces.  So I don't see that we needed an alliance of any kind.  It would've been simpler without them.

I could be wrong in my assessment of the alliance in Somalia, but I do not believe I am wrong with regards to the world court.  It would be a mistake to sell our guys out to a world court made up of nations that have interests that they place higher than the interests of nations like Somalia.  The US makes the sacrifices, and in order to keep involvement with other nations, we let them take credit where credit is rarely due.

And none of them hardly are ever guilty of war crimes, but US forces seem to routinely be guilty in the eyes of the international community.  Again, subjecting ourselves to a world court would be wrong.  The Hague weren't interest in doing anything about the war lords.  They've never done a thing to the real bad guys.  They seem only to go after the easy targets, Americans.

Terrorism

Basically, the terrorist are human beings, just like everyone you know.  However, that's where the similaries change.  The fact is, they have a radical view of the Islamic religion, and on top of this, most in the Islamic religion do not value doubts and questioning of the religious leaders (who are political leaders as well, in most cases), and they don't welcome self-examination of their culture, their history and their customs.  We in the western world, value these same questionings.

The philsopher/writer Sayyid Qutb visited the US during the late 1940s and early 1950s.  What he saw was culture shock.  His view of America was not the same view that America has of America.  There was no common frame of reference, and after leaving the US, he felt that the US and it's culture was bad.  He didn't approve of how women were treated (he wasn't a feminist; he felt women were not protected (ie. they were not treated as property)).

Qtub did not understand the Christian concepts regarding free will.  So a society that could vote and have a secular government, was not good in his eyes.  It allowed movies, some of which had subjects he objected to.  He didn't approve of a society that didn't force people to live a certain way.  The concept of free will was beyond him.  He saw America as evil.  Men could choose to be good or evil.

He didn't approve of the way that people of color (black) were treated, and I agree with this.  However, he didn't see that this was changing.  He saw the history from slavery and felt it was wrong.

Nonetheless, Qtub included his views of the West, and specifically the US, in his writings, which were a major influence of the Mulsim Brotherhood and a number of other radicalized groups, and is a major influence of al Qaeda.

This culture shock created a great misunderstanding, which helped create some of the views of radical Islam.  This radical view, combined with an aversion to self questioning, self examination of culture, religion, leaders, and customs, is what makes the terrorists and those that support them, unreasonable.  You cannot reason with people that view self examination and questioning of values, as the same as questioning God (Allah).

Saddly, without some means of reasoning, we will always have radical Islam and we will always have terrorism.  To under-estimate the terrorist view, is a mistake.  We are at war, whether you believe so or not.  It has nothing to do with our support of Israel.  That's just an excuse.  And the current president if Iran, says that he intends to see Israel wiped off the global, and then next would be the western nations (including the US).  Here's a guy that is telling us exactly what he intends to do.  And people still under-estimate the guy.

I feel that as long as the radical views of these folks are continued to be minimized by our media, and people go on their merry way believing that it's just because of Israel, that we are left wide open for another 9/11.  I hate to think of it, but when you have someone telling you that he wants to see your distruction and worldwide Islamic control, and you wont listen, you're doomed.
By the way, there was a guy in Germany years ago that told people what he wanted to see, and for some reason, people just didn't believe it could happen.  Six million Jews later and people figured it out and reluctantly got involved and stopped it.  However, they've put this out of their minds and have placed the goings-on of celebrities, cliimate change, and Dancing with the Stars.  Most Americans have saddly sedated themselves and don't remember history.  History is repeating itself.

Chinese-Made Products

I don't like buying things made in China, but this isn't because of a dislike of Chinese people.  I actually like Chinese people.  I'd like to see the Great Wall of China some day.  I like their history.  I don't like their government.

What most people don't know (and apparantly don't want to know) is that most Chinese-made goods are actually manufactured by companies in China that are really owned by various agencies and branches of the Chinese military.  This is the way that they fund their military, and funding has been lucrative.

From 1990 to 2005, the Chinese have reportedly made increases in military spending of 15% every year.  For 2007, their increase in spending was reported to be 17.8%.

The truth is, because of the secrecy of Chinese spending, it is projected that the real figure for military spending is 2 to 4 times what is being reported.

So what are they building up for?  We're not building up like that? 

Have you read what some of the Chinese political leaders have said about the West?  That this last thousand years was a cultural domination by the West, but that the next thousand years will be one of the East (and specifically, China).

How many people are aware that the Chinese military provide security (and have at least one military base) at the Panama Canal?

The next time you're shopping at WalMart (ChinaMart) give some thought to where those nicely priced items are made.  Were they made with slave labor that funds an apparant enemy that is building up their military to the degree that I have mentioned?

Multi-Culturalism

Multiculturalism (or Inclusionism) is just another way of saying either not-Christian, or not traditional America.  How inclusive is it, if anything Christian is not allowed, but other religions are represented?  How multi-cultural is it if traditional America is not a part of the discussion or event?

How open-minded is it, if we are open to other cultures and beliefs, but we are closed to Christianity and we're closed to traditional America?  How open-minded is that?

What is free speech, if you're not allowed to express your Christian beliefs, but in schools (and other public arenas), they're allowed to put up expressions and representations of other views and beliefs?

Many say that America was built because people came here to escape religious oppression.  Let's get this straight.  Christians came and built this country so that they could express their views and beliefs.  It wasn't just to escape something.  It was to express something.  Remember the full story and not just the half that is politically correct.

Rush Limbaugh

Rush Limbaugh believes in conservatism.  He seems to believe in it so strongly, that he feels it is more important to be right, than to do right.

I agree that just because people are stupid or lazy doesn't mean that they're entitled to a free ride.  However, Rush (and those like him) seem so focused on this, that they forget the children.  It's not the fault of the children that their parents make poor decisions.  It's not their fault that their parents are either stupid or lazy.  It's not their fault that their parents are bad parents, or that their parents don't put any effort into child rearing.

Rush seems insensitive to the plight of a great many people, instead, focusing all the all-mighty conservative mantra.  To me, people are more important.  When I have the luxury to do so, I tend to be conservative.  I feel that you need to pay or work your way; even if just a little bit, you should be able to contribute to society, rather than just be a human parasite.

The children must be cared for, but part of this is for them to have parents that at least do something to contribute to their own upkeep.  I'm fairly confident that 99% of our society is capable of doing something to earn a portion of their upkeep, even if they can't (or wont due to bad habits) do it soley on their own.

I feel the liberal solutions tend to make for a weak society.  Weak people want the government to do everything for them.  Weak people want "someone else" to take care of them rather than taking responsibility for themselves.  A strong central government makes for weak people.  Strong people don't need a strong central government.  Our people are becoming weaker and weaker while the government has become oppressive.

I wish that Rush and guys like him would spend time actually coming up with solutions, rather than just spouting conservatism.  Conservatism is worthless if you don't have a solution.  Likewise, with liberalism, and that's the main trouble we have in the US.  People are easily led, depending upon their left or right leaning, and none seem to spend any real thought towards solutions that make sense.

Mega-Churches

I've one person after another make negative towards mega-churches, without ever having been in one.  Their whole basis for their argument is that mega-churches are just a way for preachers to get bigger salaries; and then, of course, these critics never set foot inside even a small church.

Time and time again, these same critics cite people like Richard Roberts and others that have had some scandal dealing with extravagant lifestyles at the expense of the ministry that they're associated with.  "Robbing us blind", the critics will say.  The truth is, they've never given any money to these ministries, so why do they care?  In fact, I've never met a critic that has given money to any ministry or pay tithe of any kind.

According to Malachi, if you are not titheing, then you are robbing God.  So the critics are at least as bad as the preachers they complain so much about.

Back to the topic of mega-churches themselves; what's so wrong with a church that has enough members that when they raise funds, they can actually do a lot of good with that?  I belong to a so-called mega-church and we do a lot.  We support a number of missionairies in a number of countries around the world.
Our pastor lives in a 4-bedroom house (and will probably downsize at some point as the kids are growing up and leaving home).  The pastor and his wife drive regular vehicles like most of us drive.   As far as I'm concerned, they could be driving better vehicles and it wouldn't bother me.  What kind of witness for Christ would they be if they were driving clunkers that were broke down all the time?

I grew up in a small church.  That small church was quaint and comfortable, but they never did anything for anyone but the people in the church (we averaged about 30 in attendance each week (or maybe I should say 'weak')).
In a church like I'm in now, we fund missionaries, we have a 24/7 ministry for teenagers.  We have what we call The Dream Center, which is a ministry we set up in the poorest part of town.  We put in a nice building.  We have doctors, dentists, etc on a regular basis there to help the needy free of charge.  We have had legal counceling for people that need it.  We have job training, computers, and a host of other services for people of the most needy in the city, and it's all free of charge.  But it's not free.  It's funded because we're a large church and can do so.  Small churches are lucky if they can take care of themselves, hardly ever doing anything for the community in which they live.

And remember in the days of Jesus, they all were a part of what would be called a mega-church today.  The Temple was one huge place that everyone was a member of.  So the concept of a mega-church is nothing new and there's nothing wrong with it, and there's a lot right with it.
And to tell you the truth, the small churches are pretty worthless.  The purpose of a church isn't just to preach to your own group of folks and make yourselves comfortable and feel good.  The purpose of a church is for much more than that.  We're to be the "salt of the earth".  We're to export to others.  We're to spread the good news.  The small churches don't do this.  Most can't.  The ones I was associated with, rarely did anything for anyone else.

If you're a member of a small church, that's fine, but please do not be critical of big churches or mega-churches.  Mega-churches do a lot of good.  Without a church like our's, there'd not be that teen 24/7 ministry (a place for teenagers to go, for free, at any time day or night).  There'd be no Dream Center. (and bare in mind, from the chief of police himself, the crime stats testify to the fact that since we opened the Dream Center, violent crime in that area dropped dramatically, even if it hasn't dropped inother areas of town (even more affluent areas)).  Our church is doing a lot of good and I'm blessed to be associated with them.

Euthanasia

Euthanasia and/or mercy killing is something that I don't really want to comment too much on.  There are a lot of suffering people and their families that are going through things that I hope I never have to go through.  I'm not going to judge them, but I will comment on the subject as it would apply to my own life.  It's taking a human life.  It certainly feels wrong to me, even if it is showing mercy and ending the suffering of a person.

We often see mercy killing in cases of painful and incurable conditions.  As I stated earlier, I wont judge the people that feel this is their only option; except to say that I've seen cases from time to time where the medicial community saw no options, and then something miraculously happened to change the condition.  I can't condone killing someone, even for relief of pain.  However, I'm currently not facing this for myself or any family members.  I pray that I never do.

For my personal life, I see euthanasia as wrong.  It's academically speaking though, as I am not facing this issue.  What people do, they will face God with.  I pray that people make the right choice, but I can't say what that choice is for them.  I can only say what I feel the right choice is for me, if I ever have to make the choice.

Death Penalty

I've changed my stance on the death penalty a number of times.  It's an issue that almost everyone has an opinion on, and I've never heard a defacto position either way.

As a Christian, I look at life as sacred and therefore I tend to be against the death penalty, but also as a Christian, I've seen in the Bible where the death penalty was administered for cases of murder and horrible crimes of that nature.  I can't say that the death penalty is something against the teachings of Christ.  Even where we think of Christ in a mindset of non-violence, Jesus did chase the money changers out of the Temple using a whip.  That's certainly not non-violent.  So I'm not sure that the death penalty is in conflict with the teachings of Christ.  My view changes almost annually though.

From the point of the victims, it seems wrong to have the family of the victims to have to pay taxes for the living and upkeep of the murderer of their loved ones in prison.  The family is victimized every year that the murderers continue to live and be cared for.  The murderer gets free healthcare, free access to higher education, free legal counceling, etc; and they come up for parole hearings from time to time, with the families having to go through the ordeal emotionally every time.  We seem to care so much for the rights of this human being in prison, that we are ignoring the rights of the victims' surviving family members and friends.

I see the argument that life in prison is almost a tougher penalty for high crimes, than to put the killer to death.  Life in prison lets this person suffer for the rest of their life, for the crimes they've committed against other people.
On the other hand, killing them gives the family and friends closure and lets them get on with their lives, as opposed to having the killer in prison getting their rights cared for better than the crime victims.  If the murderer is allowed to languish in prison, this might be motivation for some family members or friends to take matters into their own hands, to kill this person; in their own minds, dispensing justice.  That would be worse than just handing out the death penalty to the murderer and letting the family know that "justice" is going to be done.

I can't say, right or wrong, about the death penalty.  Currently, I"m for it.  I know that if someone killed one of my family members, I'd be more apt to want to take justice into my own hands if I thought the state would never truly punish the guy.  I'd be more apt to think about dispensing my own justice on this person, if I felt they were going to continue to have some quality of life greater than the person they took away from me.

Next year, I might be against the death penalty.  This is probably the toughest issue I wrestle with.  It's so permanent.

DUI

DUI (Driving Under the Influence) is a tough subject for my family.  My son (actually, my stepson) never knew his real dad.  This is because his dad was killed by a drunk driver when the baby was just 3 months old.  So I'm the only dad this kid has ever known.  When I met my wife, the boy was only 14 years old.  I think his life would've been easier had he had a dad all those years.  My wife did a great job raising him, but there were times when it was beyond her control and the kid was punished for not having a dad.

Consider the boy scout events where unmarried moms were banned from the events.  This happened.  So those 'father and son' get togethers were events that my son didn't get to have full benefit of.  He didn't have a dad.  His mom wasn't allowed to attend.  Other moms were allowed to attend, because they were married, but my wife was single at the time, and so she was not allowed to be there for those sleep-over events.  I'm sure there were somewhat logical reasons for this rule at the time, but the bottom line is that the kid got punished for not having two parents.  It wasn't his fault, but he was deprived of the same benefits as the other kids.

I wrote two more paragraphs on how our son could've done better if only his dad hadn't been killed when he was a baby.  I decided that it was enough just to say that drunk drivers do a lot more damage to lives than what is apparant initially.  I have no sympathy for drunk drivers.  I think that society has way too much sympathy for them, and that it is sorely misplaced.

By the way, the woman who killed my wife's first husband; she was given a $500 fine and a suspended sentence.  It wasn't her first time drunk driving, and I believe it wasn't her last.

In many cases, people show sympathy to drunk drivers, because they haven't killed anyone yet.  They seem to think that it's okay because they're "only hurting themselves".  Go gamble with someone else's life.  Your sympathy is misdirected.  Drunk drivers are selfish people that deserve to be put behind bars.

 

Gun Control

Generally speaking, I'm against gun control, as far as what I've seen defined as gun control.  The idea of private gun ownership and the issues of self defense is not a 'one-size fits all' sort of issue.  People approach it this way, but it's not.

Typically, proponents of gun control will say "you don't need a gun to protect yourself, because that's what the police are for".  This approach is a 'one-size fits all' approach.  It assumes that everyone lives in the city, and that typically, everyone gets the same response time from their law enforcement.  In other words, the people of south central Los Angeles get the same response time as those folks in Beverly Hills get from their police force.  Not true.  Certainly, it's not the same as the response time in rural areas.

In rural areas, I've seen response times of two or more hours.  It's not the 5 to 10 minutes that you get if you live in the city.  So in rural areas, the need for self defense is greater than the need in the city; and the need in south central Los Angeles is greater than the need in Beverly Hills.  Plus, those folks in Beverly Hills can afford elaborate alarm systems, surveillance and armed guards.  The rest of us don't have that luxury.

The Constitution provides for a freedom to be armed.  This freedom has been eroded through the years to only apply in your home, and yet there's a threat to further erode this freedom.  Consider what it would be if the freedom of speech had been eroded to where it only applied at home, and if other freedoms were eroded to the point where they only applied at home.

I feel that the Constitutional issues have been eroded enough already, and that we need to preserve what we have.  Do I think we need to be able to have a bazooka or a missle launder for home defense?  No.  However, I believe the whole reason we're even having this discussion in the 21st century is because of the fact that the Constitution has been eroded from what we originally meant.  The founding fathers never foresaw the use of missile launders or automatic weapons.  Generally speaking, they did see that weaponry would 'improve' and that there'd be more than a single shot rifle at some point in time.  People needed to have the freedom to defend themselves.

Our founding fathers felt that the government needed to fear the people.  An armed citizenry would be something the government would have to fear.  The government could never be oppressive and unaccountable if the people were allowed to be armed.  When the government loses its fear of the people, the people will fear the government.  I think that's where we are now.  If you don't believe so, just don't file your income tax returns.  The IRS will teach you the meaning of fear.

The Constitution has been eroded and we'll likely never get certain rights back.  Certainly, in the purest and original definition of our rights, we'll never see those rights again.  However, we can maintain what we have, and currently in the US, we have the freedom of private gun ownership.

I do not feel threatened by law abiding citizens that own guns.  I don't even feel threatened by law abiding citizens that carry guns.  I feel threatned by a legal citizen that wants to punish the law abiding citizen because of what a non-law abiding citizen does.  It seems like every time there's a case where someone uses a gun in a crime, there's a call for more gun control (of law abiding citizens) instead of just placing stiffer penalties on the actual perpitrators of crime.

School Choice / Vouchers

On the issue of school choice and vouchers, I tend to believe in choice.  This does mean that if enough families are allowed to use vouchers to send their kids elsewhere (if they choose) then public schools could deteriorate.  However, the truth is that they've already deteriorated and this is the problem.

Our son went to a private school for high school.  He got a superior education.  We were able to afford to send him to private school.  It's a shame that poor children aren't allowed this same benefit.  The parents care about their children too, but they can't give them this educational benefit because of the lack of money.  They're held hostage by a public school system that only cares about their kids for the sake of numbers to get funding from the government.  No emphasis is put on educating poor children; or at least in a significant number of cases.

By and large, private schools (generally religious schools) private a better education for children and generally a safer environment.  Peer pressure isn't so strong, or at least peer pressure is different from that in public schools.  School violence is less.  Drugs are less prevailent.  Overall, the environment in private schools is better.  And unlike public schools, the private schools can have a zero tolerance for these things that public schools end up having to tolerate (because there's usually no where else to send the kids if they don't comply).

I will say that I went to public school.  Guns were at the schools when I was there (usually hanging in the back window of pickup trucks) parked in front of the school.  The violence we see in schools now were unheard of then.  The difference is that we've had a generation of kids that were raised without any religious overtones in the schools.  The Bible was removed and a box of condoms provided instead.  So the rate of violence and teen pregnancy have increased in public schools.  It's not even recognizable now, from what it once was.

It is a shame for kids to not get the benefit of private education, just because their parents don't make the money to pay for it.  If school vouchers exist so that the parents have a choice, then at least they can make the choice for what is best for their children.  Maybe a better environment will provide a better education, and hopefully a better future.

Wire Taps on Phonecalls

A lot of emotion goes with the subject of wire tapping of phone conversations in the United States.  This is a Homeland Security issue, and it's clouded by the fact, that as the government asserts, these phone conversations are initiated by suspected terrorists in other countries, calling in to the United States to speak with someone here.  In this case, I feel that if I sound like I"m coughing up phlegm to pronounce the guy's name, and he's linked with terrorist sympathizers, and he's calling from a foreign country, I don't mind that his phonecall is listened in on.

Bear in mind that there are hundreds of thousands of calls each day, and that there aren't enough federal employees to listen in on these calls.  The reality is that computers are set up to listen to these calls for key phrases and words, and the conversations are only listened in on if certain criteria are met.  I don't see this as an invasion of my Constitutional rights.  I have no one calling me from other countries, that are known terrorist sympathizers.  And if I did have someone calling me that were involved in such a thing, then I'd want the government listening in to hopefully catch them.  Certainly, I don't see it as an invasion of my privacy.  I'm not trying to hide anything.

I'm sure that in some broad sense of Constitutional freedom and the right to privacy, that someone feels that they are being invaded upon.  I just have to remind them that domestically, these calls are not being listened in on without prior approval from a judge.  In the case of foreign to domestic, no judge could possibly give advance notice, and by the time the feds were to get approval, the call would be over with.  So for security, in the world we live in now, this is something that has to be done.

The Future of the United States

I'm concerned about the future of the nation, and really figure that we're doomed.  We're doomed on a number of fronts, but I think apathy is going to be the major one.  It's not apathy in the classic sense, but more of an apathy where individuals have become emotionally attached to their political beliefs, so much so that they no longer care to learn the facts.  Once they get the information that conforms to their beliefs, they shut down and will not allow any more facts to cloud their opinions.  In reality, the facts generally provide grey areas that should cause us to reconsider our views from time to time.
We see apathy in the way that people use "driveby" statements on political thought, and then quickly move on to something else, without having to debate the issue or to look at the full spectrum of information on the subject.  Pop culture has made people stupid and lazy.

We have a significant number of people in the country that have figured out that they can "vote themselves entitlements".  There have been several philosophers that have said that when this happens, it is a sign that the nation will fall.  We see it during every presidential election now.  Candidates court the poorest of the poor to buy their votes with money from the pockets of the majority of the workers in this country.  No one pays attention to the middle class.  The candidates are either in $500 plate fundraisers, or they're in soup kitchens courting votes.  The middle class aren't going to be in either place.
The politicians no longer care about the majority of the people in this country.  They court the fringe.

The news media aren't honest.  I've said this for years, but recent surveys show that the majority of Americans finally see it too.  THe news media are not being honest and can't be trusted.  However, where else do we get our information?
In just the last few days (it's 2008.01.15), there's been a flap between the Obama camp and the Clinton camp.  Both sides claim the other is playing the race card.  Give me a break.  This was all manufactured by the news media, becase they want Obama.  Since when does the news media get to decide this?  They're supposed to report the news, not manfacture it.
The whole thing stems from Obama's articulate communication.  Hillary Clinton, wanting to distinguish herself from him, said that whereas there have been voices for change in this country, voices such as John F. Kennedy and Martin Luther King, that in the end, the change came not from an orater like Martin Luther King, but a president, President Johnson.  She pointed out that although the orator can stir emotion for change, that it is an experienced politician that is needed to make things change in Washington DC.
For Hillary's remarks, she was accused of playing the race card.  Give me a break.  It's a fabrication.  She was distinguishing herself from being just an orator.  She was saying that we need someone experienced in making things happen in Washington, and that she has more experience in this than Obama.  Plain and simple.  Only now people believe she was playing the race card, because this is what is being talked about.
Who elected the news media to manipulate the people this way?

And this is just one example.  If they're doing this between two Democrats, then certainly they do it between a Democrat and a Republican.  It's subverting the democratic process.  It's scary that the people are being manipulated and there's nothing we can do about it.  It's propoganda.  It worked throughot history and it's working now.  See "Journalistic Fraud" by Bob Kohn for many more examples with specifics cited.

It's crazy that people will vote for a politician that tells them what they want to hear, rather than a politician that is telling them what they know is true, but just don't want to hear.  For example, the Michigan primaries are going on today.  The two Republican front runners are Mitt Romney and John McCain.  In a debate, John McCain told Michigan voters that the jobs that were lost there, mainly automobile-related manufacturing, are lost forever.  Those jobs are never coming back.  He said that he'd work to create new types of jobs.  Mitt Romney took issue with this statement and said that if elected, he will bring those jobs back.
So the voters want Romney.  He told them what they want to hear.  The truth is, by every expert I've read commenting on this, McCain told the truth.  Those jobs are never coming back.  It's a global economy and those jobs are never returning to Michigan.  They're gone.  People know this.  THey'd have to be stupid not to know it, but McCain's comments were met with stares and silence.  Romney's comments met with cheers.
So people want to be sedated and lied to.  They want to play like problems will just go away and that some politician is going to fix it for them.  The fact is, those people are going to have to retrain to do some other type of work.  There needs to be new industries brought in to manufacture something else; but realizing that with a global economy, nothing lasts forever and that with time, people will have to change again.  It's like blacksmiths eventually had to learn to be mechanics.  Do we still have blacksmith jobs in abundance out there?  Not that I'm aware.  I'm sure there were politicians then assuring voters that if elected president, those jobs would return.

Pop culture barely scrapes the edge of an issue, and one-liners have become the norm for what most people base their political thought on.  This is sad.  To think that some rapper, some actor and musician, controls the political thought of the nation.  We're doomed.

We are doomed because the average American doesn't know the difference between the deficit and the national debt.  We're doomed because most no longer understand how the economy works.  Most don't understand the stock market.  What we call an investor now, I call a gambler.  Most haven't a clue on how to invest.  They're gamblers.  They don't know how capital works and how it relates to the economy.  Even most of the politicians in Washington don't know.  So how can the country survive?  With the increased illegal immigration and the fact that politicians on both sides of the aisle aren't interested in protecting American jobs, I see that the United States will become several third-world countries, if the trend continues as it is.

The News Media Are Corrupt

We have a problem because the news media, for the most part, are corrupt.  You can't trust what you read or see on the news.  Everyone seems to see that Fox News is biased, but for some reason, it escapes them that there's a possibility of other news sources being biased.  Can Rupert Murdoch possibly be the only corrupt one?  Who's that naive?

Remember Dan Rather?  He was willing to air unsubstantiated claims.  Those claims might've been true, but they were unfounded.  I suspect they were true, but the news media is supposed to report things that can be substantiated, and usually by more than just one source before they report it.  Dan Rather was so motivated to affect an election, that he was willing to compromise journalistic ethics.  I suspect that he isn't the only one.

I see our local newspaper, that seems to report news in a way that helps the wealthy friends of the wealthy owners of the newspaper.  They often report in ways that cover their own vested interests, rather than accurately reporting the news.  They are affecting public perception for the purpose of tax and bond issues.  This corruption is at the local level and certainly at the national level.

A recent example of how we can't trust our news sources is a an article by the New York Times in which they published accusations about Republican candidate for President, John McCain.  In the article, they site two unnamed sources, which they later admit are disgruntled ex-employees (they were fired).  The article was written both to suggest that McCain might've had an affair with a young lobbyist 9 years earlier, and in case you might not fall for that one, they also wrote the article to suggest that he might've pulled strings to favor the lobbyist with regards to a certain bit of regulation.  What they didn't tell is that McCain did write a letter to the agency in charge of dealing with the matter, but rather than use undue influence, merely wrote that it would be in the best interest of everyone for the matter to be dealt with promptly and a decision made.  This wasn't in the article, and so the article was crafted to make the reader think that McCain had done something unethical.

I've been pretty depressed about the way the media is acting.  Everyone tells us how biased Fox News is, but it was Fox News that was the first to report on possible abuses at Abu Ghraib.  Sure they're biased, but why can't the libs see that the rest of the media are too and that they're not being told the truth?
I've been depressed seeing obvious distortions of the news in order to influence an election.  I haven't written about every instance.  I just have saved up my frustration and finally vent here about it.  We do not live in a perfect world and in fact, it's nowhere near one; and there was a time when you could trust your news sources to provide you with information to make the best decisions possible.  This is no longer the case.

How can we trust what we rely on for our news?  How can we know how to vote or what to believe, if we can't trust the sources?

My belief is that I can't trust any of them, and so the best I can do is to try to get news from as many sources as possible, taking the ones I know to be biased from both left and right, and then try to evaluate all of it with my own ethical and religious principles in hopes that I can come to some interpolation of what the truth is.  I think we're doomed because I see so many people relying on a news source that provides them news in a way that they can agree with.  Essentially, they trust sources that tell them what they want to hear.  They are willing lemmings.

I'm skeptical of tax rebates

I' skeptical of tax rebates.  I don't see that they're going to be affective.  The supposed reason for the rebates is to spur the economy.  Give me a break!  What economy?  Most people will take their check and go down to ChinaMart and guy a tv made in china.  It'll help their economy, not our's.  How many jobs will be maintained or created by these rebates?  How many people will use the money to invest in businesses that create jobs?

I think the rebates are a stab in the dark at best, and at the worst, I think they are buying votes.

 

Cellphone abuse is a pet peeve

In my opinion, technology has advanced faster than good manners and public decorum could keep up.  I remember when cellphones were fairly new and not many people had them.  Most who needed extended contact were using pagers, which were a pain.  However, people were smart about it and generally had them on vibrate mode while in a restaurant, movie theatre or during a business meeting.  If the pager went off, no one else in the room was disturbed by it, and the person would the pager politely left the room and made their return call.
There was an advancement in technology that allowed common people get cellphones almost overnight.  However, the manners escaped them.  Hardly anyone puts a cellphone on silent mode like was done with pagers.  I've seen cellphones go off during church, during a funeral, during a wedding, during business meetings, job interviews.  Working in "corrections", I've seen cellphones go over when an offender was meeting with a parole officer.  And no one seems to believe this is an issue.
My wife and I were in a restaurant recently and saw the woman at the next table have an entire conversation with someone on the phone, and never spoke with the person she was having dinner with.  How rude is that?
Cellphones go off all the time in movie theatres.  I've even seen people not leave and hold whole conversations while the movie was going.  The offenders don't see it as a problem.  I guess our society has become so self centered that no one seems to think about anyone but themselves, otherwise they'd see that it was rude an ill-mannered.
Needless to say, cell phones are a pet peeve of mine.  I see peope driving and on the cell phone all the time, and in many cases, I don't think its safe.  I've had people cut me off and even run a red light in front of me; because they were on the phone and paying more attention to that than in driving.  I will admit that I've spoke on the phone a few times when driving, but I don't do it routinely, and if it's not on quick-dial, I don't make the call.  And in general, how important can a person be that they must be in constant contact with the rest of the world?  People, important people, functioned just fine long before cell phones.  Why does the average person believe they have to be on them all the time nowadays?

Capitalism: It's no longer fair

Who says manufacturing isn't practical in the US anymore?
We often hear that our society migrated from primarily agricultural to manufacturing a little over a hundred years ago, and that it's changing to primarily a service based economy now.  They claim that those blue collar workers that primarily work in manufactring need to educate themselves for work in the information and service industries.  However, this is not completely true.
They claim that businesses can't compete in today's economy and that the manufacturing has to be moved off shore where labor is cheap.  The fact is, one of the most inefficient manufacturing environments is Europe, and yet they seem to be able to hold onto their manufacturing jobs.  Why?  Because unlike us, their politicians haven't sold them out.
The truth is that manufacturing would be fine in the US, but the ultra rich are greedy and have found out that they can increase profits by off-shoring these jobs.  They bought off politicians (in both parties) so that they can get away with this.  Consider that there were tax incentives actually created for off-shoring these jobs, and it was done during the administration of Bill Clinton (who, I might add, was getting a considerable amount of funding for re-election from the Chinese).  And as crazy as this policy was, Dubya did nothing to change it.  THe policy remains.  It's unamerican.  It's wrong.  Our politicians have been bought by the rich.
What happen to the political representation for those manufacturing workers?  I thought this was supposed to be a government of the people, by the people and for the people.  In reality, it seems to be a government of the rich, by the workers, and for the rich.  It boggles the mind that these things aren't talked about by either party candidates for president and/or Congress.  It's as if it escapes them.  They're more interested in gaining political points jabbing at the opposition, but aren't going to do anything to jeopardize their fund raising capabilities for re-election.

There was a time when you could allow "the market" to fix things.  However, this was under a capitalism that was designed to play fair.  This was under a capitalism where it was possible for everyone to win.  There didn't have to be a loser.  Now that greed rules; it's set up to choose winners, and in doing so, guarantees that the rest of us lose.
I'm not saying that we need to do away with capitalism, but I think we need to realize that now that greed rules, the only way to make things fair is to regulate.  Unfortunately, it's a necessary evil.  I'm not for regulation, but without it, the greedy wont play fair.

 

Mortgage Bailouts are a Joke

The government is working with lenders to provide a 30-day reprieve for people who've bought more house than they can afford.  This 30-day period is in hopes that these people will have time to arrange better financing for a house they still cannot afford.  Any assistance that the government does to help this matter is just enabling people to continue in this foolish and irresponsible course.

No one bailed my wife and I out with our previous home.  We bought a home that we could make the payments on, if only one of us were employed.  Imagine that.  We planned for a layoff and budgeted to make sure we could face it.  Why should I be taxed to enable the people down the street, in a house twice as large as our's, to hold onto the house they really can't afford?

I could be wrong, but I don't see that the 30 day reprieve is going to help the economy that much by holding off foreclosure.  Maybe some will be able to get better financing, but then again, I would think that if they could arrange better financing now, that they would've already done it before the threat of foreclosure.  Why haven't they refinanced?

Most have the adjustable rate mortgages.  What part of "adjustable" did they not understand?  When the rate finally started going up, as all of us knew interests rates typically will go up eventally; didn't it occur to them that their monthly payments would be going up to account for the higher rate?  And if they could get a fixed rate loan at that higher rate, why would they gamble and believe they could handle it later when the rates were adjusted up?

Greed.  The fact is, people are greedy.  They wanted more house than the could afford.  They chose to gamble that they'd be able to have income to meet the payments.  One layoff can change that, but it was a gamble they were willing to make.

My wife and I had a chance to get an ARM, but we didn't.  We took a fixed rate loan, even though the rate was higher than the initial rate of the ARM.  We were responsible.

I am frustrated that time after time after time in this country, we get drug down by the least common denominator.  If people make stupid decisions, everyone else has to bail them out.

Ultimately, this was greed by the lenders, because they generally know that people teeter on the edge of being able to afford their homes.  They know that one layoff is all it takes to have them in jeopardy of not being able to keep up with payments.  Yet, they want to lend the money.  They want the big loans because there's more profit in it.  Everyone involved knows the risks, but they stand to gain so they sell people homes they really can't afford.  It's wreckless.

As much as I hate to say it, if the government didn't make some arrangements like this, there could be more foreclosures that would cause some of the lenders to go under.  This might cause a domino affect throughout the economy.  So I guess it's necessary, but I wish there'd be some legislation to force lenders, realtors, etc, in the future, to stop selling people homes they can't afford; and or provide an early means of refinance in the event of an unexected financial crisis within the family (such as a layoff, medical issues, death, etc).  It should be built into the system, a way to get financing under control in those cases, and in some cases, people just need to get their home sold, rather than to go months behind on payments and ultimately lose the home.

The Bair Stearns buyout was the biggest and first sign of a real problem.  Certainly, I don't recall the Fed doing Sunday evening interest rate cuts before.  They did this to hopefully hold off a horrible day on Wall Street Monday.  It did turn out to be a bad day, but probably not as bad as it could've been.  The thing I recent is that the Fed guaranteed the buyout.  They are just a corporation and the Fed should never even exist.  Our country is tied into them now after decades and we're beholding.  They made the guarantee, but the reality is that you are I are the ones paying for that guarantee.

As much as I believe in the American way; free enterprise and free market, the fact is that the free market isn't working anymore.  We need regulation.  The men that set this thing up, set it up for these risky loans, knowing that they stood to make billions of dollars in the short term, but that if the bottom ever fell out, that they wouldn't get stuck holding the bag.  That and the fact that so many people have these bad loans on their homes and can't pay their mortgages, regulation is needed.

The theory of free market, is that the financial community, to be competitive, offers more and more innovative financing, which is supposed to spur economic growth and a vibrant economy.  Due to greed and a bailout on the horizon, they have been irresponsible.  As a result, the free market isn't working.  There should never be a need for a bailout, and there should never be mortgage defaults as high as there are.  Regulation is needed because greed has broken the free market.

Barak Obama

Too bad he's full of crap.  I was actually impressed with his speech about race, right after the news that his pastor, Rev. Wright, had said some imflammatory things.  Of course, Obama said that he didn't know about those things.  I'll give him that, although I think it's odd that having gone to that church for over twenty years, you'd think he'd know about those kinds of things, and I think the news media gave him a big pass on this issue.

The thing is, his speech about race was a good one.  He said all the right things.  He said the kinds of things that I wanted to hear.  I wanted to believe him.  I did at the time, but I don't now and I'll tell you why.

He said that we needed a dialog regarding race.  He said that there's too much of a divide, and that the issue of race comes up all too often.  However, it's too bad that he didn't actually believe the stuff he said in that speech.  It was just words, just like Hillary Clinton has said all along.  He's a man of words, nothing more.

Recently, it was brought into the news that a delegate from a Chicago suburb had gotten into a dispute with a neighbor.  The woman, a Ms. Ramirez-Shliwinski had been accused of making a racially charged remark and was fined $75.  She'd said that her neighbor's kids were climbing in a tree like monkeys and they were disturbing her.  She'd complained to the neighbor who called the police on her.

The neighbor was African American.  She brought race into the issue.  Without even looking into the issue, Obama said that Ms. Ramirez-Sliwinski should resign as a delegate.  He just accused her of being a bigot.  He didn't give her the benefit of the doubt.  If he'd really believed that crap he'd said in his famous speech, he could've said, "I think this is the perfect time for a dialog on the subject" and gotten to the bottom of the issue.

As it turns out, these two neighbors have a long history of feuding.  And the major knows this woman, Ms. Ramirez-Sliwinski.  He said she isn't a racist and she only meant that the kids were making racket and being annoying like monkeys in a tree, and that much more was made of the comments than were clearly meant.  And he said that these neighbors have a history that includes frequent calls to the police.

As a side issue, I think it's nonsense that the woman could be fined $75 for making that remark, even if it were racial.  I hope she fights it.  I'm glad that she refuses to resign as a delegate.  I have no idea if she'll still support Obama or not, but if she has any brains, she'll reconsider.

This really is a sad story.  Obama's words could've been more than just words.  They're not.  He says that he's a different kind of politician.  He's the same kind.  He has just created a different image for himself, but he's the same.  It's really sad.

The guy is a politician, just like all the others.  The proof is his record.  When he was first running for the Senate, he got the unions vote because he said that he would renegotiate NAFTA.  After he was elected, the subject has never come up.

Also consider that he's suggested the John McCain is running for George Bush's third term.  However, after cinching the democratic nomination, Obama moved to the center to try to get the votes of the "undecided".  In essence, he was saying that he'd all the stuff that George W. Bush is actually doing.  In essence, he's running for George Bush's third term.

Ethanol

The whole idea about ethanol is stupid and it certainly has had more than its share of unintended consequences.  We jumped to use ethanol without much consideration.  It was a kneejerk reaction.  It was downright stupid, and the consequences were foreseeable, and in fact, there were many people warning that it was a bad idea. It was done anyway and now look at the mess.

For one thing, ethanol provides less power and less gas mileage than pure gasoline.  The justification is that it's a cleaner burning fuel and therefore better for the environment.  However, when they're dozen forests so they can grow more corn, this isn't good for the environment.  And the corn isn't to feed people.  It's for ethanol.  So now people are starving because corn goes more profitable as ethanol than as a food.

We in the States pay more for food, but people in third world countries flat out starve to death.  This we don't see.  We just see how much more it costs us.

We would've been better off if we'd never taken the ethanol route, but there are agricultural states that pushed for it hard, and the lobby for it won.  And I don't see very many farmers driving cadillacs.  Whatever benefit they had, doesn't appear to have been substantial, but the harm to the environment and to the world food supply has been tremendous.  And this combined with the world crisis in rice.

The rice shortage couldn't have been predicted, but every one of the other unintended consequences were predicted.  The government was warned against them.  The money interested and the short-sighted environmental interests won.  They got their way and now look at the mess.

Media Manufactures a Story To Protect Obama

The news media has continued in their efforts to protect Barak Obama.  They have manufactured a story that does not exist.  On the surface, there is a story, but with common sense, it's manufactured.

Obama's biggest scandal (to date) has been the inflammatory statements from his pastor of 20 years, Rev. Jeremiah Wright.  To insulate him, the news media manufactured and equivalency scandal in an attempt to hurt John McCain and suggest that because his affiliation with two pastors with controversial statements, is the same thing.  It isn't.

McCain hasn't gone to either of these men's churches.  He merely sought out the endorsements of some prominent Christian leaders, as an attempt to solve the problem that the Christian-right didn't want to vote for him.  He got the endorsements of John Hagee and Rod Parsley, without having a long history of either of these men.  And unlike Obama, when the news media brought to light controversial statements, McCain quickly distanced himself from those sentiments.  And he did so in much stronger words than Obama has even to this day.  And on top of that, McCains own statements from numerous speeches are in conflict with some of the things said by Hagee and Parsley.

So to suggest that there is an equivalency here, is just preposterous.  McCain did the right thing.  Obama sat in a pew and listened to a man spew hatred towards the United States for 20 years.  And now he wants to be President of the United States.  He is undeserving.

Now, all that said, I believe the people wanting Barak Obama to be president, will still vote for him.  They have an emotional attachment to this decision, and they're not going to back away from it because of facts.  This wont change their minds.

However, what the media knows is that these last few elections have been so very close, and the candidates need every vote.  So they are needing those swing votes; the independents that aren't tied to either party and who will vote on issues, not on party lines.  This story can affect their vote, and that is what the news media is trying to affect.  They are trying to affect an election.

The Falling Value of the Dollar

The value of the dollar isn't what it was a decade ago or even twenty years ago.  Over the years, due to out of control government spending, the value of the dollar has gone down and inflation has gone up.  Today, the government (no matter which party is in office) does some creative accounting to misrepresent the rate of inflation.  They will report a figure such as 6% or even 8%, knowing that in reality, to the average citizen that has to buy groceries and to buy fuel to heat their homes and drive to and from work, that the rate of inflation is more like 25%.  Bill Clinton wouldn't tell you that and George W. Bush wont either.

Now, over the years, anyone who followed foreign currency trading knows that the value of the dollar has fluctuated and gone up and down from day to day.  This is not what's happening today (as of May 24, 2008).  What we have now is a US dollar that drops in value almost on a daily basis.  What triggered this?

Well, a major contributor (as stated earlier) is inflation.  Our government has spent more than they take in, and have done this irresponsibly for decades.  George W. Bush, a so-called conservative, did nothing to change this when in office, and in my opinion, will go down in history as one of the worst (and hated) presidents ever.  I could be wrong, of course.

Regardless on your view of Bush, the fact remains that out of control government spending contributed to this.  However, what caused the sudden losses that we've seen, which have also caused oil prices to dramatically increase due to needing more dollars to buy the same oil?  What caused that?

Remember the government bail-out of the big mortgage lenders?  Remember that?  Well, soon after that, we were told "if we did it for the big guys, we have to do it for the little guys too", and so they started bailing out all these people that took out home loans they couldn't afford in the first place.  Who do you think bailed them out?

When the Fed (the Federal Reserve, a private company with a money monopoly subsidized by the US government, your tax dollars) bailed them out, essentially what they did was to print up more money to take care of these loans.  And then again, when they bailed out the people with bad loans.

When that was done, it made the money in your bank account worth less.  It was instant inflation.  So if you were a trader on the open market worldwide, trading for oil, you would now need more dollars (because they're not worth as much) to buy a barrel of oil.  Even if supply and demand didn't change.  Even if there weren't any hurricanes to interrupt refinery output or barge traffic, you'd need more dollars for the same oil.

To buy most anything nowadays, it has to be shipped (trucked) or otherwise transported to the market where you buy it.  And if not a finished good, then a service you buy requires some goods or services in order to provide the service you buy.  All that means that you have to pay more.  No one is getting a pay raise, but we all are paying much more than we did last year for the same goods.

And this doesn't even account for the rising worldwide demand for oil, which will hurt us even more in the coming decade.  If you look at the daily output of oil from the Persian Gulf today, it is predicted that China will be able to consume that output within ten years.  Where is our oil going to come from?  There is going to be much more demand for oil, than what OPEC will be able to provide?  They're at capacity now.  So it only makes sense that the oil crisis is going to get worse.

If you combine the oil crisis with the falling dollar (because of government over-spending, individual over-spending, and then the bailouts), the next decade (or even longer) is going to be bleek.  My advise is to get a vehicle that gets at least 40mpg and don't settle for less.  If the average person in this country does not help drop out daily demand for oil, then the oil costs will continue to rise dramatically and the costs of everything we buy will also go up.  We could see inflation above 30% and unemployment in the double digits.  If you want that, continue to blame government and continue your own selfish overspending.  If we're not willing to tighten the budget, we can hardly expect our government to act responsibly and do it.