Marines.Together We Served

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

The Amnesty Bill

Let’s look at the Amnesty Bill. This is a disaster in the making.

Here are some of the things that are troubling to me, and they should be troubling to you. My response follows each amnesty item.

1) An illegal alien would have legal status after just twenty-four hours in the U.S., even without a complete background check which would be impossible to perform in so short a time. This is a joke! Having spent a lifetime in the military, at times requiring higher security clearances depending on the assignment, I can assure you, there is no quick way of performing a background check. My background is as clean as a whistle, and it still takes several weeks!

2) American taxpayers will be paying the attorney’s fees for the lawyers who represent these illegal aliens. Uh, allow me to address the ABA (American Bar Association): How about some pro bono here? Give the taxpayers a break!

3) Illegal aliens will be able to obtain permanent temporary visas, which means they can renew their temporary visas indefinitely. A “permanent temporary” visa? This is either an oxymoron or a beautiful example of double-speak. Looks like both to me.

4) Illegal alien gang members in the U.S. will be offered amnesty if they say they don’t want to be gang members any longer. Just say the magic words and, Presto! Bingo! All is forgiven! While you’re at it, just move on into the neighborhood!

5) We’ll be paying to help keep Mexicans in Mexico, by providing the Mexican government with taxpayer money to provide Mexicans with education and health care. Right! And I’m the Tooth Fairy. Do you seriously believe our taxpayer money is ever going to get past Mexican bureaucrats? Bureaucrats giving bureaucrats money. Now that’s funny!

6) Illegal aliens will not have to pay all those back taxes they owe for having worked in the U.S. Why not? If you and I fail to do so, we have the feds breathing down our necks, hitting us with penalties and threats of incarceration. Oh, I forgot. The current administration is an exception. You can be appointed as the Treasury Secretary even if you haven’t paid your taxes. Silly me!

7) The Security and Prosperity Partnership (SPP) program which would open our borders with Mexico and Canada, creating the North American Union (NAU), following the model of the European Union. Let me try to be kind here. The European Union has been a disaster. Why would we want to follow this model?

8) Border security would become non-existent. It’s not even mentioned in this bill. The proposed 800 mile border fence with Mexico would be reduced to 200 miles. Why put any fence up at all if we’re going to open the borders? See #7 above.

9) There would also be in-state tuition given to illegal aliens, a gift not available to Americans. Have you looked at the cost of tuition lately? And this will be free for illegal aliens? Please!

10) Illegal aliens would also be permitted to cut to the head of the line – ahead of those who have gone about entering the U.S. through the proper legal channels. This is simply wrong! There is no reasonable argument to justify this injustice to those who are going about entering the United States legally. I personally watched this process over the past few years when it took my brother-in-law nearly two years to bring his fiancĂ©e into the U.S. from Brazil – legally.

11) There is also amnesty for illegal aliens who were ordered to be deported from the U.S. Ordered to be deported? So please explain to me why is it now okay for them to stay in the U.S.?

12) Learning English would not be required until the ninth year of amnesty. To use text messaging shorthand: LOL! Why require it at all then? Is there something wrong with learning English? It is absurd to even raise the question of a national language in America. We are an English-speaking country. Get over it!

13) Illegal aliens will be eligible for the earned income tax credit, even though they didn’t pay taxes in the first place. Have we gone nuts? So now we give illegals who do not pay taxes in the first place, an earned income tax credit. Free money for doing nothing! You gotta love this country!

I obtained this list of items about the Amnesty Bill from a CNN broadcast given on the Lou Dobbs program.

Now there may be some silly people who will dismiss my objections to the Amnesty Bill by assuming that I have a phobia about Hispanics. They’ll say I’m prejudiced. I will not even dignify this assumption with a response, other than to say I am married to a lady who was born and raised in Portugal. Any questions?

I am very aware that there are real problems surrounding any discussion dealing with illegal aliens. By the same token, there are no easy answers. But the current legislation, which may be signed by the president as early as December 31st, is not the answer!

My objections center on the term “illegal.” One of the reasons I love this country so much is because of its ethnic diversity. It’s a beautiful thing! All should be welcomed to our shores. Just come here legally. Please!

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Increasingly Uncomfortable

As I wrote in an article a couple of months ago, it is my desire that President Obama will be successful as our 44th president. I also mentioned that when he is making wise decisions, I will applaud him. On the other hand, if he makes unwise or ill-advised decisions, I will speak out. We’re only a few weeks into this administration and already my head is spinning!

Time and space do not allow me to address the numerous egregious executive decisions already made by this administration. Not even Bill Clinton was this brash and arrogant. We weathered the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy foisted upon our military as one of the first acts when he assumed office in 1993. Then he attempted to place the Health Care System under his wife’s control.

I love my country too much to ignore the blatant attempts to change the very nexus, the core of what makes this a great nation. My fear is that those elected officials we have asked to do the “people’s business,” will not have the courage to challenge and confront this administration before it gets completely out of hand.

Consider if you will, the debate over the Stimulus Bill that has been a source of contention for weeks. This bill is running dangerously close to a trillion dollars ($1,000,000,000,000) of tax payer money intended to rescue a government that has grown increasingly inept at managing the people’s money. This “bailout” is supposed to be free of pork and earmarks. Right! Here’s a description of earmarks: Congressional earmarks are often defined loosely as anonymously authored guarantees of federal funds to particular recipients in appropriations-related documents. Typically, a legislator seeks to insert earmarks that direct a specified amount of money to a particular organization or project in his/her home state or district. With an earmark, Congress has given itself the ability to direct a specified amount of money from an agency's budget to be spent on a particular project, without the Members of the Congress having to identify themselves or the project.

This last sentence is troubling. There is no accountability for earmarks! A member of Congress can designate a portion of what is budgeted to some project without ever having to own up to it.

Then you have “pork” which is short for “pork barrel.” This expression developed early in American politics, eventually taking on a derogatory meaning following the Civil War. In nineteenth century America a way to determine a person’s standing in a community was to see how much lard and salt pork was in their pork barrel. The term “pork barrel politics” usually refers to spending that is intended to benefit constituents of a politician in return for their political support, either in the form of campaign contributions or votes. Typically, "pork" involves funding for government programs whose economic or service benefits are concentrated in a particular area but whose costs are spread among all taxpayers. Public works projects, certain national defense spending projects, and agricultural subsidies are the most commonly cited examples.

The rush to pass this Stimulus Bill is a warning to us all. As I was growing up, I was advised to never rush into anything and that if you were being pressured to make a quick decision, say no, or simply walk away. The more I listen to the debate over this bill, the more I’m convinced that Congress has no idea how any of our money is going to be spent. And, even more troubling is the failure to establish a reasonable measure of accountability. This is a bad bill, and will not stimulate anything except certain people’s bank accounts.

President Obama has been saying that for the past eight years the Bush tax cuts have not worked to stimulate the economy. This is disingenuous. Tax cuts do work – every time! What made it appear that the Bush tax cuts did not work in stimulating the economy is that Congress (Yes, under Republican control!) continued to spend taxpayer money shamelessly leading the nation into deeper and deeper debt. And President Obama knows this.

Perhaps equally troubling to me is the manner in which the president has been conducting himself publicly. I refer particularly to his news conferences and town hall meetings. In a couple of instances reporters and average citizens have had the temerity to call into question certain decisions made by the president. Mr. Obama responded with irritation and impatience, bordering on anger. This from our president! This is the same man who, while on the campaign trail, was described as looking positively presidential. If he is unsettled with mildly challenging questions from fellow Americans, I ask you, how will he handle the likes of Russia’s Vladimir Putin? Or Iran’s Mahmoud Ahmadinejad?

Mr. President, you’re in the big leagues now. Listen to the people – all the people. Be very careful of who you surround yourself with. The American people are very forgiving. They expect you to do what is right. However, you will diminish your influence if you spurn and disregard the very people you were elected to serve.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Round Two

Surprise! Surprise! Life is full of surprises.

Most of the time I enjoy surprises. In this case, I’ll make an exception. It was a year ago in January that I found myself going under the knife, so to speak, to have six stents placed in two of the three arteries of the heart. This certainly answered a lot of questions about my being tired so frequently.

With the arteries open and flowing I was feeling pretty good about the prospects of enjoying a new lease on life. I dutifully consumed the requisite medicines prescribed by my cardiologist knowing these various colored pills and tablets were working hard to keep my heart free of any additional plaque buildup.

So in December I went in for my one year checkup. This included the nuclear stress test which was performed on December 31. The next morning my wife and I flew back to Virginia for ten days of rest and relaxation. I felt fine, assuming everything was good with my stress test. After returning home I had a follow-up meeting with my cardiologist. When he walked into the examination room we shook hands and engaged in the normal pleasantries. He then eyed me and said, “How do you feel?” To which I replied, “Fine!” “Have you had any discomfort or chest pain?” he asked. I wondered where this line of questioning was going, so I responded that I had no such symptoms, other than a twinge now and again, which I explained seemed reasonable to me in light of the fact that I had six foreign objects residing in the arteries of my heart. I explained that if I were to call him every time I had a sensation like that, we’d be on the phone every day. So I said, “What’s going on?” He then showed me the results of the stress test. Sure enough I saw the tell-tale signs of what appeared to be heart disease. He said he wanted to go in and take a look around. Not wanting to mess around, I said, “Let’s do it.”

Back in I went to the hospital at the end of January. The doctor thought it would be a simple process, at most requiring an additional stent. So, silly me, I told my wife that since it had taken him two hours to put in four stents, figure an hour-and-a-half and I’d be done. Four hours later they wheeled me out! To say that my wife was not a happy camper would be a gross understatement. She really does love me!

The next day when the doctor came to my room I was ready for him with questions. What were you doing for four hours? What did you find? How do we fix this problem? And, we’ve simply got to stop meeting like this! He patiently explained what he discovered. It seems that the body, in its attempt to heal itself the first go-around, looked rather unfavorably on the four stents in the right artery and proceeded to coat them, effectively blocking the entire artery. My eyes widened at this revelation! I said, “Then how is it I was not found lying on the floor somewhere with a heart attack?” Now here’s the really cool part. He made a drawing of my artery on the erasable board in my room, indicating the placement of the four stents. He then pointed to the spot where the blockage began. “Here,” he began, “is where a new blood vessel formed to completely bypass the blockage.” “What!” I cried. “Are you kidding me?” I almost came out of my hospital bed I got so excited. My first thought was how incredibly made our bodies are that the heart can take action to attempt to fix its own problems. This blood vessel allowed blood, stopped at the blockage area, to pass, thus keeping me from experiencing the dreaded “Big One,” or even from experiencing the chest pain he thought I should be having.

The doctor cleaned out the offending artery with what I describe as a very tiny roto-rooter device. Just to be safe, he wants me back in a couple of months to go in again just to make sure we’re not dealing with the same problem.

We haven’t broken the code yet as to why my body is behaving this way. We discussed at length what might be going on. The HDL (good cholesterol) is too low. The problem here is that I’ve always had this to contend with. Exercise seems to be the only true means to bring the numbers up. I do exercise, but I’m not very hopeful that even with an increased exercise regimen that there will be a significant difference since this existed even when I was younger in the days when I had a body like Adonis. The other culprit is elevated triglycerides. When I asked what could be done to lower these, he said, “Triglycerides usually go up when the person is a smoker.” I smiled and said, “You know I don’t smoke.” He then said, “Well, if you eat too many carbohydrates, such as bread and pastas.” Again I smiled and said, “My wife and I don’t do that.” Then he tried one last possibility, “Another problem could be eating too many desserts.” My smile remained. “We don’t eat desserts.” Strike three!

Wondering how the Lord wants to use this experience to glorify him, I had perhaps a glimpse of a blessing to come from this on the morning I was being prepped for the surgery. The nursing staff that was taking care of me was all new to me. But one of the nurses who had cared for me the previous year happened to walk by. Recognizing me, she came over to the gurney to say hello. She reminded me that I had given her one of my military coins as a thank you for taking such good care of me the year before. She then got misty-eyed, and said, “I keep your coin in my wallet. Whenever I’m having a bad day, I take it out and look at it to remind myself that at least someone cared about the job we nurses do.” I squeezed her hand and thanked her for those kind words. What a blessing!

After round two of heart surgery, I may not have answers as to what to do about the heart problem, but even in the midst of life’s uncertainties, God always brings blessings. So I can’t wait to see what he has in store in the months ahead!

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Reflections on Mr. Jefferson

Our third president, Thomas Jefferson, had two notable nicknames. The first was “Man of the People.” And indeed he was a man of the people, primarily because of his common sense approach to governance. He was quite popular with Americans because he espoused the idea of “States’ Rights.” His second nickname was, “Sage of Monticello.”

For this week’s missive, I would like to share some of Mr. Jefferson’s more cogent remarks during a lifetime of action and service to this fledgling country called the United States of America. Look closely at what this sage had to say two hundred years ago.

“The democracy will cease to exist when you take away from those who are willing to work and give to those who would not [work].” This one got my attention! A new presidential order this week has been signed authorizing a significant amount of money to be flushed back into the welfare system. Americans are the most generous people I know. We should always be ready to help those in genuine need. There is no question about that. However, we should never establish a system that encourages and fosters a lifestyle where a person is capable of living off the government dole. This creates a type of “class system” in our nation, generating resentment between the haves and the have-nots. We can ill afford this if we expect to rebuild a stronger America.

“My reading of history convinces me that most bad government results from too much government.” This is sadly being born out in our nation before our very eyes. Government, whether under the Democrats or the Republicans, continues to enlarge at an alarming rate. Government does not produce money. It can only help set the right environment for free commerce and trade to flourish. The more that government interferes in the operations of private sector business, the more the environment for growth is inhibited. Not only do we need less government, but the government we need must be more efficient.

“The strongest reason for the people to retain the right to keep and bear arms is, as a last resort, to protect themselves against tyranny in government.” If history has taught us anything, it is that government that continues to expand also continues to add restrictions to its citizenry by requiring more and more taxation. Even now the average American is working from January into May simply to pay taxes. This does not encourage economic growth, nor does it produce jobs. Taking up arms against your own government is frightful. However, let’s remember that Mr. Jefferson lived through the Revolutionary War, helping to formulate this nation of ours from the blood of patriots. These words are not spoken lightly by some academic sitting in his ivory tower. Mr. Jefferson speaks from experience.

“To compel a man to subsidize with his taxes the propagation of ideas which he disbelieves and abhors is sinful and tyrannical.” Many people today are appalled at the way taxpayer money is being used by government. Just in recent days the ban on financial support to foreign organizations that perform abortions has been lifted. That means our taxpayer dollars will be used to assist in abortions around the world. For many Americans, this fits right in with Mr. Jefferson’s remarks about taxes being used for “the propagation of ideas which the taxpayer disbelieves and abhors is sinful and tyrannical.”

“I believe that banking institutions are more dangerous to our liberties than standing armies. If the American people ever allow private banks to control the issue of their currency, first by inflation, then by deflation, the banks and corporations that will grow up around the banks will deprive the people of all property until their children wake up homeless on the continent their fathers conquered.” Whoa! Have the chickens come home to roost here? Just looking at the mess that has occurred in the banking industry, the bailout plan (such as it is), the so-called government stimulus package, and the near collapse of the housing market with the countless numbers of foreclosures, you have to be impressed with Mr. Jefferson’s prescience.

We live in interesting times. Democracy at work in a republic is much like a tight-rope walker having a sneezing fit. Perilous, to say the least. That is why our nation needs people today who will stand up and do the right thing; who will protect the interests of the average taxpaying American. And you and I must be diligent in securing our freedoms from those who would wantonly abuse and deny these hard earned rights. It came at a high price, just as anything worth having is costly. But what price can you put on the blood of patriots – patriots like Mr. Jefferson?