Marines.Together We Served

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Done Juan

Well now! Is anyone really surprised that liberal news analyst Juan Williams was fired from National Public Radio (NPR)? Why was he fired? For expressing his feelings about seeing Muslims in an airport when he is flying somewhere. Specifically, he said that he gets "nervous" if he's at an airport and sees "people who are in Muslim garb."

If you don’t know who Juan Williams is allow me to fill you in. Mr. Williams is one of a group of well-known liberal commentators who is employed by the Fox News Channel (FNC, or just Fox), a conservative news organization. Additionally, he has been employed by NPR’s news production department for the past ten years. He is also a black-American who has written extensively about the Civil Rights Movement, and the affects of racism and bigotry in America. Apparently, as a liberal you are anathema to NPR if you have any public associations with conservative news organizations.

Personally, I disagree with most of the positions Juan Williams holds, particularly when it comes to political/social matters. However, I respect his opinions and his right to express them. It was my honor to have served in the military for 34 years defending his right to express those opinions. But what has happened to Mr. Williams is a travesty of free expression. He was not stating opinion during his dialogue with Bill O’Reilly on Fox News. He was expressing personal feelings he has when encountering “people who are in Muslim garb” and are in an airport while he is traveling, especially after 9-11. Having traveled extensively by air all over the world, I can appreciate his feelings.

When I was in Iraq, the Navy enlisted man who was assigned to me was a Muslim. Knowing this, I had him stop our Humvee at a small mosque near the traditional site of the Tower of Babel near Babylon, Iraq to offer him the opportunity to pray. Several of us respectfully stood outside the mosque, engaged in conversation with some Muslim men while this Navy man entered the mosque to join in prayer with other Muslims. Was I apprehensive? Sure! We weren’t exactly welcomed with open arms, but they couldn’t very well deny a fellow Muslim, at least not without losing face in front of the rest of us; especially in front of me, a Navy chaplain with my gold cross on my collar. How would that look? I have also met with a number of Imams (Muslim clerics), pre- and post-9-11, over the years to engage in theological discourse, both here in the United States and in Muslim countries. My reception by these Imams has ranged from cool to warmly gracious. All of which is to say that because of 9-11 most Americans are at least apprehensive, if not downright fearful, of seeing Muslims in their traditional garb walking onto an plane. That is what Mr. Williams was expressing personally. In the discussion with Bill O’Reilly he went on to caution Americans not to categorize all Muslims as radicals. He’s absolutely right! He’s a reasoned thinker and has been done a grave injustice by NPR.

You might be interested in knowing that NPR is the radio version of televisions Public Broadcasting Network (PBS). This organization was formed in 1970 and was almost entirely funded by federal funds (tax dollars). During the Reagan administration there was a strong move to pull back the federal funding and to have NPR and PBS move to listener-supported funding. Because of what has been done to Mr. Williams, several prominent politicians are calling for the removal of all taxpayer funding of NPR. We’ll have to wait and see if this is successful. But the amount is relatively small compared to the amount contributed by listeners/viewers. Should public support be stymied, NPR would feel it much more directly.

“In October 2010, NPR accepted a $1.8 million grant from George Soros, given through his Open Society Foundation. The grant is meant to begin a project called Impact of Government that is intended to add at least 100 journalists at NPR member radio stations in all 50 states over the next three years.” Mr. Soros is a mega-rich liberal who wants to destroy Fox News Channel. That’s what is behind his donation to NPR.

NPR’s CEO is Vivian Schiller. Ms Schiller called Mr. Williams earlier this week on the phone to inform him he was fired. Not even the courtesy of hearing his side of the story! No face-to-face meeting! How rude! “Schiller intensified the existing controversy over Williams' dismissal when she added that Williams should have kept his Muslim comments between himself and ‘his psychiatrist or his publicist—take your pick.’ Schiller quickly retracted her own remarks, stating, ‘I spoke hastily and I apologize to Juan and others for my thoughtless remark.’” Pardon me, but Ms Schiller should be the one out of a job, not Juan Williams.

It will be interesting to see if NPR recants amid the uproar from across the country, and offers Mr. Williams his job back. Personally, I wouldn’t want it.

But guess what the conservative Fox News Channel did for the liberal Juan Williams when they heard about his being fired by NPR? They gave him a raise! Hooray for Fox!

Is this a great country or what!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Dis-Jointed

California, like other states, is faced with a batch of election propositions. In particular, Proposition 19 “LEGALIZES MARIJUANA UNDER CALIFORNIA BUT NOT FEDERAL LAW. PERMITS LOCAL GOVERNMENTS TO REGULATE AND TAX COMMERCIAL PRODUCTION, DISTRIBUTION, AND SALE OF MARIJUANA. INITIATIVE STATUTE.”

As I have been reading through the various stories and articles surrounding this proposition, there are times that I want to laugh uproariously, and at other times I’m stunned by the sheer insanity of what passes for logic. Case in point: An article written in the Huffington Post (a.k.a., HuffPost - not exactly known as a conservative publication!) states that “illegal growers [of marijuana] in Northern California could suffer if marijuana is legalized and production spreads equitably throughout the state.” Excuse me? Illegal growers would suffer? Am I the only one who sees the extremely humorous disparity in this statement?

Further, it is reported in this article from the HuffPost that the majority of Democratic lawmakers in California are in favor of the passage of Proposition 19. Their reasoning? They hope it will bring out the Progressive voters which would help turn back the predicted decimation of the current Democratic control of Congress. Now that’s rational thinking for you! Let’s pass a law legalizing a currently illegal substance which also happens to be a hallucinogen so we can win our elections and stay in office! “Marijuana is technically hallucinogenic, and can alter your perceptions and cause memory problems.” I think these Democratic lawmakers have been hitting the weed themselves! You can see why I am stunned by what passes for logic!

Another term for marijuana is cannabis. This comes from the Latin: cannabis sativa, or the hemp plant. Proposition 19 is also known as the “Regulate, Control and Tax Cannabis Act of 2010.” On a web site called Healthline, they conclude that, “Since the 1970s, research has consistently demonstrated that adolescents progress through a uniform sequence of drug use involvement that begins with alcohol, cigarettes, and marijuana and proceeds to the use of ‘hard’ drugs like hallucinogens, benzodiazepenes, amphetamines, sedatives, cocaine, and heroin. For this reason, marijuana, alcohol, and tobacco have been called ‘gateway’ drugs.” Despite these disturbing findings from research, an interesting discovery reveals that, “the majority of marijuana users do not use other illicit drugs, although they are more likely to smoke cigarettes and drink alcohol than non-users.”

Howard Jarvis of the 1978 Proposition 13 Taxpayers Initiative throws a note of caution into the mix when it comes to legalizing marijuana. “Prop. 19 would ban employers from drug testing employees for marijuana, allow for public marijuana use subject to certain limitations and would allow residents to establish small marijuana farms in their yards.” Now add this to the argument: “Law enforcement officials believe Prop. 19 endangers public safety with increases in marijuana consumption and increases in impaired driving.” Now that makes me comfortable! Will the police be allowed to do the equivalent of “breathalyzer” tests when a person is pulled over for driving badly?

For your information, here are several high profile California politicians who are opposed to the passage of Proposition 19: Senator Dianne Feinstein (D), Democratic gubernatorial candidate Jerry Brown, Republican gubernatorial candidate Meg Whitman, Senate candidate Carly Fiorina (R), Senator Barbara Boxer (D), and Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger (R). Strange bedfellows, wot! A few of the other people and organizations opposed are: The League of California Cities, which is petitioning California cities to pass laws against marijuana usage; Gil Kerlikowske, the so-called "drug czar" in the Obama administration; The California Cannabis Association (Go figure!); and Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD).

The untaxed (read: illegal) growth of marijuana in California is a 14 billion dollar industry annually. If Proposition 19 passes, it would generate a 1.4 billion dollar tax surplus which would supposedly help our cash-strapped state awaken from its economic malaise. Sort of reminds me of all that money that was supposed to go to our state educational system when Californians passed the State Lottery years ago. This is more of the same inane logic being fomented on the voters of California: Pass this proposition because it will help our state with its financial woes! Yeah, Right! We’ve been duped before!

So, what’s it going to be? Remember: California is also attempting to ban all cigarette smoking everywhere, including your homes and outdoors. But if Proposition 19 passes it will be perfectly fine to light up a joint and drive your car!


Have we lost our minds?

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Pledge - Part II

“We the People” have been sending very strong messages to our elected officials during the past 18-24 months indicating that we are very perturbed and just a little bit ticked off by the arrogant and dismissive manner portrayed by the occupants of both houses of Congress. This being said, the Republican “Pledge to America” makes this cogent observation: “Washington has not been listening.” No kidding!

The overall plan of the Pledge is presented in this manner: “Our plan stands on the principles of smaller, more accountable government; economic freedom; lower taxes; fiscal responsibility; protecting life, American values, and the Constitution; and providing for a robust national defense.”

The Pledge is broken down into six plans to restore America, particularly the manner in which a Republican majority plans to conduct the people’s business. This is presuming that the Republican Party manages to retake at least one house of Congress in November. When it comes to the Pledge, we’re talking about the Republicans regaining control of the House of Representatives. Should they equally gain control of the Senate, it would behoove the Senate Republicans to get on board with the House Pledge.

Those six plans are: 1) A plan to create jobs, end economic uncertainty, and make America more competitive; 2) A plan to stop out-of-control spending and reduce the size of government; 3) A plan to repeal and replace the government takeover of Health Care; 4) A plan to restore Congress and restore trust; 5) A plan to keep our nation secure at home and abroad; And 6) Checks and balances.

I will list each of the six plans and then offer a comment or two for your thoughtful consideration.

1) A plan to create jobs, end economic uncertainty, and make America more competitive.

The promise in this plan is to “end the attack on free enterprise by repealing job-killing policies.” Small businesses that create jobs will be allowed to take a tax deduction equal to 20 percent of their income. The costly small business mandates contained in the new Health Care Law will be repealed. Are you paying attention to this, California! Stop killing small businesses!

2) A plan to stop out-of-control spending and reduce the size of government.

“If we’ve learned anything over the last two years,” says the Pledge, “it’s that we cannot spend our way to prosperity.” Yup! Got that right! Among other things, the plan is to cancel the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP), and to reform Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. Hallelujah! Now, do what you promise. Please!

3) A plan to repeal and replace the government takeover of Health Care.

It has already been determined by the CBO (Congressional Budget Office) that the new Health Care Law cannot be sustained. The cost is prohibitive. The new Health Care Law will mean more financial pain for seniors, families, employers and the federal government. Besides repealing this law, they will end permanently taxpayer funding of abortion, and they will codify the Hyde Amendment (barring federal funds being used for abortion). Bravo! Thank you for standing up for the unborn and holding to the sanctity of human life!

4) A plan to restore Congress and restore trust.

"The federal government is too big, it spends too much, and it's out of control" Boehner said. He acknowledged that "when Republicans were in charge of Congress" during the Bush years, "we made our fair share of mistakes." But now, he said, after listening to the American people for the past 20 months, "we get it, we get it." Do you get it, Mr. Boehner? I hope so. We’ll find out soon enough. The Pledge says, “We recognize that these solutions are ambitious, and that we are proposing them at a time of intense public distrust in politicians and the political system.” Quite right!

5) A plan to keep our nation secure at home and abroad.

We are a nation at war. “The primary obligation of the federal government remains providing for the common defense against all threats foreign and domestic.” True enough! Further, they promise to provide the resources, authority and support our deployed military requires; to fully fund missile defense (Can you say Iran, North Korea, Venezuela?); terrorist combatants will continue to be housed in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba; and our borders will be secured, working directly with state and local governments. About time! Former president and Army five-star general, Dwight D. Eisenhower, said, “History does not long entrust the care of freedom to the weak or the timid.”

6) Checks and balances.

This conservative plan will serve as a check and a balance against any schemes that are inconsistent with the priorities and rights of the American people.

I’d like to add one more plan to restore our nation to the values and principles we once admired and adhered to: “A man is as good as his word.”

Mr. Boehner, are you and your Republican cohorts as good as your word? “We the People” are counting on it.

Wednesday, October 06, 2010

Pledge - Part I

As I begin this article, Congress is set to recess so they can return home and attempt to rally their lagging supporters for the election which will be upon us in less than a month.

Please note, however, that it is this same Congress that is leaving town without having passed (during the modern era) the budget for 2010-2011; without proceeding with the prosecution of two high-ranking members of Congress for ethics violations; and it is the same Congress that cannot agree on whether to allow the Bush Tax Cuts to continue on, or to fall by the wayside. Of all the bills brought before Congress this year, more than half were bills naming federal buildings, recognizing individuals or groups (like sports teams) for achievements, or supporting the designation of particular days, weeks, or months.

In the midst of all this political tom-foolery, the Republican Party has come out with a renewed “Contract With America.” You will recall this was proposed and heartily accepted by “We the People” back in 1994. This time it is called “A Pledge to America,” introduced publicly on September 23rd by House minority leader, John Boehner (pronounced bay-ner), and the Republican House of Representatives Leadership.

Being the curious type, I looked for this document on the Internet and downloaded it so I could read it for myself. It is not as voluminous as the various bills passed, such as the nearly 2000 pages of the Health Care Bill. This is a mere twenty-one pages. So I ordered an individual pizza and a soda and sat down alone at Pizza Plus to pore over the document. If you want to read it for yourself, you can download it at: http://pledge.GOP.gov. The following is what I have gleaned from my perusal. Next week’s article will be a continuation.

This “Pledge to America” starts out with a single statement: “America is more than a country.” Hmmmmm. I liked the sounds of this already.

The second statement was a bit longer – fleshing out the first statement. “America is an idea – an idea that free people can govern themselves, that government’s powers are derived from the consent of the governed, that each of us is endowed by their Creator with the unalienable rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. America is the belief that any man or woman can – given economic, political, and religious liberty – advance themselves, their families, and the common good.” Now, here are statements I can identify with! This idea of “consent of the governed” emerged on the American political scene as an assumed principle that was eventually accepted by the American populace. “As the Congress unquestionably exercised national powers, operating over the whole country, the conclusion is inevitable that the will of the whole people is the source of national government in the United States, even from its first imperfect appearance in the Second Continental Congress.”

Also during the Second Continental Congress, the second statement found in the Declaration of Independence states, “We hold these Truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”

So from the outset of this Pledge I see a return in word and in spirit to the original documents that established our nation as unique among nations.

Another statement early in this Pledge says, “America is an inspiration to those who yearn to be free and have the ability and the dignity to determine their own destiny. Whenever the agenda of government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the right of the people to institute a new governing agenda and set a different course."

In conclusion to the opening of this Pledge, there are a series of pledges. Here is a quick summation:

“With this document, we pledge to dedicate ourselves to the task of reconnecting our highest aspirations to the permanent truths of our founding by keeping faith with the values our nation was founded on, the principles we stand for, and the priorities of our people. This is our pledge to America . . . We pledge to honor the Constitution as constructed by its framers . . . We pledge to honor families, traditional marriage, life, and the private and faith-based organizations that form the core of our American values . . . We pledge to make government more transparent . . . We make this pledge bearing true faith and allegiance to the people we represent.”

I must say that having read the entire document, I was encouraged by the emphasis in getting our nation back on track with Constitutional governance. At this point, these are all so many pretty words. Will Congressional Republicans, and those growing number of Congressional Democrats who are getting on board with this document, follow through after the November elections? Hard to say, but unless the two major parties wish to disappear into historical irrelevancy for betraying the American people once again, they’d better be deadly serious about restoring the government into the hands of “We the People.”

We are awake, and we are watching.

Psalm for the Day