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Monday, September 08, 2008
 
A few things

First off, hie thee over to Beldar's blog to watch a powerful video.

This is a straightforward explanation why many of us military types have always supported, and continue to support, our efforts in Iraq. It also plainly points out why Senator Obama has no clue what it's all about.

Changing gears a bit, Bingo, one of Bill's commenters on that post, complains that the background music for the end of that video, Lee Greenwood's "Proud To Be an American," is getting long in the tooth and should be honorably retired.

To Bingo, I say, "I agree — after someone writes and records something better."

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Wednesday, September 03, 2008
 
Comparative experience

Let me be a bit snarky here. I know, I'm betraying my prejudices here, but please indulge me.

Senator Obama is qualified to be President of The United States of America because he's been campaigning for that office for a very, very long time.

At the same time, Sarah Palin is not qualified to be Vice President of the United States of America because she's only been mayor of a small town in Alaska for six years, plus Governor of Alaska for a year and a half.

And Obama has more of the experience necessary to be President of the United States of America than Palin has to be Vice President of the United States of America.

Honestly, how delusional do you have to be to swallow that?

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Sunday, August 31, 2008
 
A change in the current

Via Kim Priestap: "The smart liberals are worried. The dumb ones think they've won."

May I be so bold to tweak that quote: "The smart liberals are worried. The dumb ones think they've won. The smart conservatives know they've won."

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Saturday, August 30, 2008
 
Arsenio Hall on John Edwards

Arsenio Hall on The Tonight Show, talking about former Senator, Vice Presidential nominee and Presidential candidate John Edwards:

"He's a douchebag."

We don't agree on much, Arsenio, but we agree on that.

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Friday, August 29, 2008
 
Looking further down the line

And Tam considers the same point that came to me shortly after learning of Gov Palin's selection as Sen McCain's running mate:

President Palin in 2012. That would be teh awsum. In so many ways.

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Not to say "I told you so"

Umm, Kevin? It looks like McCain wreaked havoc with your prediction, pardner.

At least you can console yourself that she'll be a great VP.

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Wednesday, August 27, 2008
 
Democratic National Convention

How about this? You watch it, then tell me about it, so I don't have to, mmkay?

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Friday, August 22, 2008
 
Losing my respect

I spent much of my Navy career flying in reconnaissance aircraft. This meant that I had to go to SERE school, where they tried to prepare us for the undesirable yet unlikely event of being captured by the enemy. I know that what I went through pales in comparison to what our POWs suffered during the Vietnam War, and I yield to no man in my respect for those that suffered at the hands of the North Vietnamese during that conflict.

But for crying out loud, "I was a POW" is not the answer to every damn accusation by your opponent. This is starting to get a little old.

McCain campaign? Shut the hell up with the "John was a POW" crap.

Senator? Tell them they're idiots, and they need to shut the hell up. They haven't got the foggiest idea of what it meant for you to be a POW, and they're cheapening the ordeal you went through.

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Thursday, August 21, 2008
 
Iraq is a mess

Dave Price details why Iraq is a quagmire.

Note to the Irony Impaired: the above sentence is an example of what we call sarcasm.

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Wednesday, August 20, 2008
 
Just leave already!

Why is it that libruls claim they're going to leave the US if they don't get their way? Various Democrats made such statements for each of the last two Presidential elections. With some polls saying that Obama is now trailing McCain, and I see that several lower profile folks are saying the same thing (scroll down to the comments) for this election.

If only these guys actually meant what they say...

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Saturday, August 09, 2008
 
Enough already with the John Edwards coverage

I don't like former Senator and Presidential candidate John Edwards as a politician, and I have a feeling I wouldn't care too much for him in person, either. But more than anything, he's not important to me.

Don't get me wrong, it's newsworthy that he has publicly admitted his affair, conducted during his Presidential campaign and while his wife was continuing her battle with cancer. And I don't believe him for a second when he says he's not Frances Hunter's father.

But I just don't care. I'm more concerned about the recently escalating conflict between Georgia, their breakway province of Samachablo (South Ossetia) and Russia. I'm more concerned about the Olympics, and trust me, I don't care much about the Olympics in general. I'm more concerned about the stabbing attack on the parents of the coach of US Olympic men's vollyball team.

Trust me, I'm more concerned about the recent death of Bernie Mac, who was two years my junior, since it's one more drumbeat of our (my) mortality.

But the Silky Pony's new little filly? I. Just. Don't. Care.

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Tuesday, March 04, 2008
 
Why do they make it so complicated?

I read much of The Volokh Conspiracy because I find their posts mostly interesting, even to a layman. There are times when their discussions of the law and courts and appeals and dicta and so on and so forth gets a bit tedious to me, but I understand that the law can be complicated (mostly because the legislators who draft laws unnecessarily make them complicated, IMHO) and so when that happens, I acknowledge it and move on.

There are times, though, when it seems to me that lawyers take the simple and make it complicated. I'm of the opinion, for example, that if there's a simple interpretation of a phrase or article in the US Constitution, that it should be favored over a more complicated, "legalistic" interpretation. So when The Head Conspirator links to a lengthy Note from The Yale Law Journal (PDF document), I just had to shake my head in despair. I really wish you guys would not try to over-complicate things.

There's a lot of hand-wringing, "it's never been defined," "this hasn't been tested in court" lawyerese in that Yale Note which makes me just shake my head. Why does our Constitution have to be complicated? Sure, I'm undoubtedly naïve on this, but this whole thing seems to me to be pretty simple:

  • The Constitution says only "natural born Citizen" may be elected President
  • The plainest interpretation of "natural born Citizen," it seems to me, is someone who was a Citizen at the instant of their birth
  • Since no further definition is provided in the Constitution, it then falls to Congress to say what defines a "Citizen." If that's what someone is when they're born, then they're a "natural born Citizen."

Why do they make this so complicated?

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Thursday, February 28, 2008
 
Natural born citizen

The New York Times has once again stirred the pot by speculating that perhaps Senator John McCain is not a "natural born citizen," a requirement to become President of the United States, because he was born (of American citizens) in the Panama Canal Zone.

Poppycock. Not everyone agrees with my insightful analysis, though:

In a paper written 20 years ago for the Yale Law Journal on the natural-born enigma, Jill Pryor, now a lawyer in Atlanta, said that any legal challenge to a presidential candidate born outside national boundaries would be "unpredictable and unsatisfactory."

"If I were on the Supreme Court, I would decide for John McCain," Ms. Pryor said in a recent interview. "But it is certainly not a frivolous issue."

I think this is indicative of where lawyers separate themselves from society because they make things more complicated than they need to be (of course, they make (lots of) money because what they do is so complicated).

But to me, a simple layman who has a passing understanding of the English language, the interpretation is simple: if you were a US Citizen at the moment of your birth, either through your presence within the United States or by dint of having at least one American parent, you are a "natural born citizen." If you had to petition to become a citizen, you are a "naturalized citizen." To my mind, the universe of citizens is broken in to two parts: natural born and naturalized.

I'm sure it's more complicated than that. But it shouldn't be.

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Friday, February 08, 2008
 
Conservatives in the Republican Party

I'm sure this question must have been asked somewhere by now. Shoot, I probably read it myself and forgot that I read it. But if McCain has effectively won the Republican nomination, and he doesn't (yet?) have the support of conservatives, what does this say about the role of conservatism in the Republican Party?

First off, where were the conservative candidates for President? I maintain that Huckabee and Romney have been no more conservative than McCain. In fact, I consider Romney to be even less conservative, along the lines of Giuliani. I consider Thompson to be conservative, and would have like to see him as the Republican nominee, but he never caught fire among Republicans, and his leisurely approach to campaigning isn't entirely at fault here. Ron Paul is running a clearly Libertarian campaign.

So, how influential are conservatives within the Republican Party? To me, it's starting to look like the answer to that question is "Not very."

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Wednesday, February 06, 2008
 
Conservatives and McCain

Bill Dyer has, as usual, a well-thought-out and insightful post up, this time concerning Republicans, conservatives and their relationship with John McCain. Bill has articulated exactly how I feel about the upcoming Presidential election, but haven't been able to put it into words.

Here's my bottom line for those of you who say you can never vote for McCain for President: if you think there's no difference between McCain and Clinton/Obama in our war against Islamic extremists, you're dead wrong. If you think the US will be better off with Obillary as President than with McCain, you're dead wrong.

And, quite frankly, those of you who express the sentiment along the lines of "I'd rather get stabbed in the front by a Democrat than in the back by a Republican" are just being foolish. Sorry if that's a little harsh, but as your friend, I have to tell you the truth. :)

Oh yeah, one more thing: where did the idea that Romney is conservative come from? In the context of Massachusetts, yeah, he's conservative. But compared to any of the current or former Presidential candidates this cycle, the only man he's to the right of is Rudy Giuliani. Vote for Romney if you want, but don't do it because he's a conservative, 'cause he ain't.

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Sunday, January 13, 2008
 
Moral equivalence

If you vote for Mike Huckabee for President, either in the primary or the general election in November, because he was a Christian preacher, you're as big a fool as someone who votes for Barack Obama because he's black, or Hillary Clinton because she's a woman.

Of all the reasons I can think of to vote for someone, their race, sex or job they held in the past (that has nothing to do with the position in contention) is nothing but a non sequitur. It's like saying, "I'm a Miami Dolphins fan because they've got a cute uniform," except with serious and meaningful consequences.

That is all.

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Tuesday, August 14, 2007
 
I'm an Anti-government Gunslinger

Seen at Cosmic's, I took the What Breed of Conservative Are You? quiz. It turns out that I'm a

How to Win a Fight With a Liberal is the ultimate survival guide for political arguments

My Conservative Identity:

You are an Anti-government Gunslinger, also known as a libertarian conservative. You believe in smaller government, states’ rights, gun rights, and that, as Reagan once said, “The nine most terrifying words in the English language are, ‘I’m from the government and I’m here to help.’”

Take the quiz at www.FightLiberals.com

Seems accurate to me.

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Monday, January 05, 2004
 
President Bush: Clueless or principled?

I recently received an email from an old high school buddy of mine, James Rhodes, quoting a Molly Ivins article on MotherJones.com. Ms. Ivins apparently has been acquainted with President Bush for many years. Not closely, but they go back as far as high school, and she states she studied him closely while he served as Governor of Texas. If you haven't read her article yet, take the time to click on the link and read what she has to say. Even if you want to argue with her, or phone her up to talk some sense into her (or maybe congratulate her on her insightful analysis), wait until you've read the whole thing. This window will still be sitting here, waiting for your return.

Okay, you've read the Ivins article, right? Good. As I said at the start of this missive, James, who is, shall we say, a bit less conservative than I am, sent me a copy of the Mother Jones article, and after reading it, I had to write him back with my reactions. What follows is a copy of the email I sent him (I've taken the liberty of a bit of editing, but nothing major). Be forewarned: I don't pull any punches, at least not when it comes to those I find contemptible. There are many folks in this world, of all political stripes, I find worthy of my contempt.

Well, you're right, James, you're not going to change my view of President Bush with Ms. Ivins' invective. Unlike many Conservatives, who, like their Liberal counterparts, love to fool themselves into believing all sorts of wildly unrealistic things, I don't think President Bush comes anywhere close to perfect. To begin with, he's a politician. Any accusations of lying generate responses of, "Yeah, so?" They're all liars, or they'd never have gotten elected to their respective offices. That's just the sad truth of our political system.

One of the areas where George Bush has taken the most heat (apart from anything related to 9/11, Afghanistan, Iraq or the War on Terror) is his humongous tax cuts, which grossly favored the wealthy. Yes, I agree, they did. So, what's your point? He wanted to have a meaningful tax cut, and any tax cut that doesn't touch those who contribute the vast, vast, vast majority of the taxes is meaningless. Those who don't pay much in taxes didn't get much of a tax cut. Sorry, can't have it any other way. If you don't pay much in taxes, you can't expect to get much from a tax cut. I haven't heard and just can't imagine any counter-argument that isn't laced with pie-in-the-sky, fuzzy illogic. Of course, I'm a Conservative Texan, so I'm surely wearing those blinders that Molly speaks about. On the other hand, I spent 20 years as an enlisted sailor, lived in several different countries, and even lived where there is no country (at sea, if you can't make the connection), and I've also lived on both coasts of our own country, in both liberal and conservative enclaves. While I haven't seen it all, I've certainly seen a lot of it.

Ms. Ivins suffers from a prejudice in her writings. I do, too. The difference is, I admit the influence my prejudices play in my opinions, and stand ready to change those opinions when confronted with good reason to do so. Molly gives short shrift to the dependency caused by the intoxicating, addictive influence of government handouts. Makes me wonder what world she's been looking at over the years. I suspect that she's one of those liberals who finds a few anecdotal pieces about someone pulling themselves up out of the mire because of welfare or some other version of the governmental teat, and says that these programs work. I look at the overwhelming evidence of their failure over the decades, and surmise that those who manage to extricate themselves from the muck probably would have done it on their own without wasting billions and billions (and billions) of dollars on the huge numbers of people who spend their lives wondering what the government is going to do for them next.

One of the hardest jobs I have as a father is making my children appropriately independent. It's not easy to know how much independence is the right amount (and that changes over time, and isn't constant among children), but I have to do my best to figure out how independent each child has to be at the time. To make matters worse, it's painful to execute the plan once it's established. Everyone knows many tales about holding back on independence, such as a 14-year-old wanting to go on a date, or a 16-year-old wanting to drive the car. To another state. For a week. With their significant other. Or whatever. But I believe that one of a parent's biggest jobs can be pushing the child that likes having things done for them, to do it themselves. I have to do that sometimes, but my kids are all the better for my efforts. We have to break the cycle of dependency for folks to have a chance to stand on their own two feet.

I started digressing here, so I've backed up, deleted a buncha stuff, and I'll try to get myself back on track.

At any rate, George Bush is far from perfect, I'll grant you that. There are many things he does which cause me to smack myself in the forehead and ask, "What was he thinking?" but undoubtedly for different reasons from you and your Liberal brethren, James. Why do I support George Bush, then?

I'll be succinct.

Al Gore.

...and Howard Dean, and John Kerry, and Dick Gephardt, and Wesley Clark, and Kucinich and Sharpton. Liars all, just like George Bush. But they would also lead this country in a direction I don't want it to go in. While I don't completely agree with Bush's path, it's much closely aligned to mine than theirs.

I'm exhausted. I guess that's why I don't write for a living.

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Friday, December 12, 2003
 
The Poisonous Elixir of Dependency

I try to keep in touch with my home town of Brownwood, TX, by browsing the web site of the local newspaper, the Brownwood Bulletin. While the news items helps me get a feel for some of what's going on "back home," I find I enjoy the Op-Ed columns the most. And of all the Op-Ed columnists, Chris Crews is my favorite. Today's column, Reaping rewards of the politics of dependency, so closely mirrors my own thoughts that I could very well have written it myself.

Well, except for the fact that Chris is a much better writer than I am. But still.

While Chris's column is my "Favorite of the Day," I also enjoyed a guest column written by Jim Mullen, author of It Takes a Village Idiot. While Jim apparently hails from New York, he precisely captures the reaction of many folks to the forecast of snow. I've been gone from Brownwood for too many years to know if people have that sort of reaction back there, but around these parts, he hit the nail on the head. Upon hearing the forecast of snow two days hence, our local Village Idiots rush to the Washington Beltway to abandon their cars now, in order to beat the rush. You can read Jim's column, Falling snow and screaming of a white Christmas, here.

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Sunday, July 20, 2003
 
The new expanded Child Tax Credit, the Tax Code, and spineless politicians (apologies for the redundancy)

Reading the MSN Money article, How to tell if you'll get the child tax credit, I was struck by how many Americans apparently believe that the U.S. tax system owes them something, beyond anything they may have contributed to the system. It's one thing to believe, rightly or wrongly, that you're over-taxed; it's something else entirely to believe that you are entitled to have the government give you money over and above whatever you may have paid in taxes.

This situation finds its roots in the social engineering facets of our tax laws. Not satisfied with raising money to fund government activities, Congress, as well as our various state legislatures, have extended tax policy to benefit those they favor and penalize those they don't like. This has been a huge mistake, and the ripples of consequence emanating from their misguided actions have had many negative effects that no one could foresee.

One of the results is the fairly common belief that tax relief should apply at least as much to those who pay little or no taxes as it does to those who pay tremendous amounts of tax. This attitude just makes no sense to me. How can you provide tax relief to someone who effectively pays no tax? Further, when someone only pays, for example, $1000 per year in income tax, how can you expect to balance that against the tens or hundreds of thousands in taxes paid by more affluent people?

Another example of this "give me tax relief just because someone else is getting it" attitude is cited in the MSN Money article. One of Ms. Weston's readers thinks it's unfair that parents of kids aged 17 or older won't get any benefit from the new Child Tax Credit. This just shows that this reader is unaware that the current tax code provides for the Child Tax Credit for children under the age of 17. While I'm not sure why the Tax Code was changed in the past to only benefit children 16 and younger, but this expansion of the Credit is obviously built on that foundation. Focus on the underlying tax law. Well, I suppose that means you have to understand what it is before you can focus on it, and that's another problem. Too many people don't bother to understand even the high points of the Tax Code, much less any details.

And this just points out another problem with our arcane Tax Code: it's so complicated, even people who deal with it every day can't understand it all. And it's gotten so complicated because Congress and state legislatures have wielded tax law as a weapon for their own pet interests, instead of limiting it to its core purpose: generating revenue for the government.

Our tax laws are out of control. We need politicians who are focused on the honor and sacrifice that public service is based upon. Politicians whose personal integrity and character make them willing to do what's right, even if it hurts them personally. They could take a page from the book of many true public servants: police, firefighters, military servicemembers and others who make sacrifices every day because of their underlying motivation to make the world a better place. Those who give up much to protect others. Those who, all too often, give their lives in the service of their community and their country. Similar examples of sacrifice in elective office in this country are so scarce as to be non-existent.

I could go on for a many, many more paragraphs on these subjects, but I'll lose focus and probably bore my readers (all three of you), so I'll save the rest for further blog entries. Hopefully that will help me parcel it out better, and help each entry to target specific subjects.

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In loving memory
Dr Edward N Garrett
1925 - 2004
 

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