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Trump and NATO

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In a recent article in Foreign Policy, The Certain Trumpet, Admiral Stavridis makes a point about Donald Trump's stance on NATO being dangerous. Admiral Stavridis is spot on but we should not be surprised by Trumps position.

Trump is a business man and has persuaded a sizable portion of the populace that government needs to only be run like a business and all would better. In a business, you do not have treaties or alliances, you merely have deals. Deals can be made and deals can be broken. If you chose to not honor a deal and the result is greater profit for your company, then you are a hero. If you lose, all that is at risk is some money, perhaps your ability to work with that company in the future, and maybe a lawsuit. That is not the case in foreign policy.

In foreign policy, broken treaties can mean the loss of life and liberty. It can mean the loss of allies that are desperately needed, especially is this day age on non-state actors being one of our greatest threats. Further, it is difficult to measure the value of treaties and put them on a balance sheet. Sure, you can look at how much each country has contributed to NATO but how do you measure (accurately anyway), the value received by the US of having a stable Europe?

The problem with Trump is not only with what he thinks he knows, but with what he doesn't know, and more importantly, with what he doesn't know he doesn't know. The issue with the American people is that too many are voting for a person they like or don't like, and not who will and can do what is best for the country. There are many things to dislike about both of the major candidates in terms of their personal lives; there are even things to dislike about their professional lives, but the question that must answered, and the question that must be addressed at the polls in November, is who can do the best job for the country? Not who will be perfect or who will do everything I want them to do, but who can do more good than harm?

I enjoyed Bill Bennett on C-SPAN. Wish his Morning in America Show was not so early in the morning.

"President Carter's Rebuttal". Foreign Policy, March/April 2010, Issue 178, p. 10.

I was never a big fan of Jimmy Carter. He seemed to be elected not so much for what he was as for what we wasn't--Gerald Ford. Personally I think he will go down in history as one of the worst presidents unless history forgets about him altogether. My opinion dropped even lower after reading this recent issue of Foreign Policy.

In the last issue there was an article entitled "The Carter Syndrome" by Walter Russell Mead to which President Carter took offense. FP printed the president's rebuttal in this issue. Here are some doosies from that rebuttal.

"There was no pressure on me to launch a peace initiative in the Middle East, but I did so from my first days in office." I think we see today the results of that initiative were minimal.

'We had no hesitation in providing weapons to the Afghan resistance after the Soviet invasion in December 1979, and I made It clear in my speech to Congress a month later that I condemned this action and had informed the Soviets that any further aggression would be construed as a direct threat o our nation's security and I would respond accordingly, not necessarily limiting ourselves to the use of conventional weapons." Would all those who honestly believe we would have "gone nuclear" over Afghanistan in 1979 please stand. Of course, if we had done that then we certainly wouldn't be there now.

"Our policy in Iran was to make it possible for the shah to retain his leadership by urging him to adopt political reforms while preventing fanatical extremists from seizing power, but ultimately that could only be accomplished by the Iranians themselves." He seems to say that he tried, it failed, but it was the Iranian people's fault, not his.

But my all time favorite is his response on the hostages held in Iran. He mentions he "could have ordered massive destruction in Iran with our mighty military power, but this would have resulted in the deaths of thousands of innocent Iranians, and it is certain that our hostages would have been assassinated." The assassinations would have surely happened but recall that he could not even successfully run a rescue operation. His micromanagement of that relatively small operation resulted in utter failure and I think it is remarkable that it did not result in the assassination of the hostages. But that is not all. In discussing the ultimate release of the hostages he says:

"Instead, we persisted with patience, exhausting every possible mediation avenue that might have been helpful. Finally, with the help of the Algerians and others, I negotiated around the clock for the last three days I was in office, while President-elect Ronald Reagan and his advisors chose not to be involved or even informed about progress. The hostages were on a plane and waiting for takeoff several hours before the midday inauguration, and they were finally permitted to depart immediately after I was no longer in office--all of them safe and free."

How he can see this as a success if baffling to me. Does he really think it was his negotiations and not his departure from office that resulted in their release? In my opinion this was a slap in his face by the Iranians essentially telling him that they had no respect for his presidency but they either feared or wanted to have a better relationship with Reagan. If his negotiations truly had anything to do with the release, other than work out logistics, and if the hostages were on the plane several hours before departure, why were they not released until after Carter was out of office?

President Carter concludes by stating that he sees no reason to apologize and I agree. I think he made some bad decisions, I think he was an ineffective president, and there are those who will disagree. I do think he did what he thought was best. My objection is that he is seemingly attempting to rewrite history and make himself appear more effective than he really was. From his rebuttal I get the feeling he wants to take all credit for relations with China, peace in the Middle East, the fall of the Soviet Union, and the release of the hostages from Iran.

Military Time, Civilian Time

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This editorial, Military Time, Civilian Time, by Nathaniel Fick, is one reason why the Center for a New American Security has become my favorite think tank. Editorials such as this demonstrate that CNAS looks at both sides of the issues and makes it clear that most, if not all, public policy choices are difficult ones to make.

Ruger: Military leaders have a duty to stay out of politics, by William Ruger, Texas State University, Sunday, 08 November, 2009

Ruger, an Assistant Professor at Texas State University, makes an often-cited argument that military personnel, especially military leaders should stay out of politics and public policy. Interestingly these comments seem directed more towards Generals Petraeus and McChrystal who are saying that their strategy of counter insurgency, combined with more troops, could yield positive benefits in Iraq and Afghanistan, yet seldom are those military leaders who call for reductions told they need to be silent.

At the core of the argument is the principle that the US military is under civilian control. That fact is indisputable and is a key principle that sets the American military apart from other militaries. However, to say that that means military personnel should sit idly by and have no opinion is mis-guided. While I agree that the military leaders should not publicly debate the civilian leaders; that does not mean that they should attempt to hide their beliefs. The reality is that today's military leaders tend to be highly educated people with vast amounts of real-world experience. Many of these leaders could be university professors and may well be once they retire.

Another factor that is often over-looked is that the nature of the military today has changed. The military in Iraq and Afghanistan is doing civil-military relations work, in large part because there are not enough civilians who are willing to serve in the countries. In effect the military is making public policy, helping to establish governments, providing aid to the citizens of the countries but Dr. Ruger and others argue that the military should pretend they only "kill people and break things".

What if the military leaders in Vietnam had been more forceful and truthful about what was happening there? Would there not have been even greater calls to change strategy? I believe the American people are smart enough to hear the various options being proposed and to make up their own minds as to what should or should not be done without having military advice filtered by political administrations. Now, once the President makes a decision, then I do agree that it would be time for the military leadership to either execute the plan or resign. But, even then, if things start to go badly, then I would expect them to speak up once again or else we may well end up with another Vietnam.

I for one value the opinions of today's military leaders and weigh them against those of our civilian leaders to form my own opinion. Such is the privilege of being an American.

What happened at Fort Hood is a tragedy and my sympathy goes out to all those who have suffered as a result. However, I remain concerned about what might happen if people do not follow the recommendation of Admiral Mullen, Chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff, and withhold judgment until the facts are in. We have become a nation too quick to attribute violence committed by a Muslim to terrorism and continuing to do say could well result in a loss of the diversity and acceptance that makes this nation what it is.

Unfortunately, an event such as this simply provides too many opportunities for political grandstanding. In a Wall Street Journal article today titled "Lieberman Suggests Army Shooter Was 'Home-Grown Terrorist'", Senator Lieberman is quick to say that the shooting " could have been a terrorist attack, and that he would launch a congressional investigation into whether the U.S. military could have prevented it." He may be right but is it not a little early too early announce a "congressional investigation?"

General Casey pointed out that he too cannot rule out that this was an act of terrorism but that we need to refrain from speculation and let the investigation run its course. I suggest Congress should follow the General's advice and let the investigation continue before speculating. Let the Army conduct its investigation and see what they find then, should Congress be unhappy with the findings, Congressional hearings could be held.

That seems to be a question many are asking and I think it is ridiculous that we are even discussing such a thing. Of course, the President of the United States of America should be able to address our nation's schoolchildren. I do believe that he should not be able to require any school to take time out of the school day for such an address or even require that his address be aired. But, in all fairness, I'm not aware that he is even asking for such a thing.

My reasoning is simple on this issue. The President is the President. I'm one of those strange guys who actually has read the Constitution and believes in its principles. One of those is that the people elect a President and once elected he is the President. It matters not whether you voted for him or not, he is the President and as such has the Bully pulpit as President Roosevelt called it.

The question I have not heard asked, and it may well have been asked by some, is whether the Republicans should be able to have a response under the fairness doctrine. I think not. And I say that as a republican. When the President is speaking as the President, I do not think the fairness doctrine should come into play, and that includes the radio addresses. That is not to say that the Republicans, or any other party, should not be heard, just that it should be done under the fairness doctrine.

I am saddened to hear that Walter Cronkite passed away a little while ago at the age of 92. Not only we lose Walter Cronkite, we lost an age of news reporting. I remember listening to Walter Cronkite give the news, even though I was young for many of those years. To me he always seemed impartial in reporting the news and he is certainly THE reporter who is replayed in television retrospectives. Come Monday we have all hear many replays of his broadcast of the moon landing.

In his retirement I admit I was disappointed to learn that good ole Walter was a liberal. Not that being a liberal disappointed me, I was disappointed that he "came out" and was not longer seen as impartial. My recollections of his news reporting were always those of someone impartial.

When Dan Rather replaced him I quit CBS News. Rather was so obviously biased in his reporting that I could no longer watch the news with him. That was before we had news 24/7. Of course I remember CNN seeming to be fairly unbiased when they first came to be too but that has changed. No we have CNN's obvious bias, Fox News is "fair and balanced" but we know which way they tend to lean. ABC, NBC, and CBS just can't compete with the 24/7 stations. MSNBC, well let's not go there but they have little impact.

In losing Walter Cronkite we lost an icon. We do still have his model to follow if only we can.

Last week I received an anonymous letter. I say I received it when in reality it was addressed to the College and not to any individual, but it ended up in my mailbox. It had no signature, no internal address block, and it had no return address on the envelope. The person had just as well signed it "Coward". I hate cowards, especially cowards who are not willing to stand up for themselves or their beliefs.

The gist of the letter was a complaint about an organization that is only loosely associated with the college and is in no way under our direct control. The letter questioned how we could "support" an organization that, in the opinion of the coward, acted not in our best interest in a decision they recently made. The coward was woefully ill-informed and took no time to check his (or her) facts. By leaving no contact information he ensured we would not be able to educate him, or even respond. It was in essence a drive-by letter. It accomplished nothing other than demonstrate how the author had an opinion but was not brave enough to have it attributed to him.

If you have an idea or opinion but are too afraid to have it associated with you then what good is having that idea. There are exceptions to this rule--Thomas Paine and "Common Sense" for example--but here lives were at stake.

Thankfully today we are able to celebrate because a few men were not cowards--they were not afraid to state their opinions and sign their names giving us:

The Unanimous Declaration
of the Thirteen United States of America

Senator Tom Harkin (D(of course)-IA) wants to close Gitmo and move the terrorist to jail in the continental United States. He claims that the maximum security prisons in Iowa seem to hold criminals quite well and there should be no worry about the terrorists now at Gitmo escaping from prisons in Iowa. The good Senator fails to realize that there is a difference, a major difference, between a common criminal and a Gitmo terrorist. That difference being a worldwide network of fellow terrorist who might, just might, take it upon themselves to liberate said prisoners from said prisons.

In no way am I attempting to denigrate the abilities of the prison officials in Iowa or any other state, but there is a huge difference between keeping a murderer in prison and keeping a dedicated group of suicide bombers out. What is to keep other terrorist from heading to a town that hosts a prison and taking a few hostages and demanding the release of the terrorists held inside?

If housing these terrorist in prisons is what needs to be done then the strategically smart thing to do is to place them not in one prison inside the United States but rather to place them in multiple prisons inside the United States. This then eliminates he easy win of attacking one prison and securing the release of multiple prisoners. This then also would require the approval of the Senators of the many states to go along with it and that I think is very unlikely. So perhaps Gitmo may be the best solution after all.

But I admit, I do grow tired of politicians getting on the television and radio and describing what should be done with no action. If losing Gitmo is really what Senator Harkin wants then he need only introduce a bill in the Senate requiring that Gitmo be closed and all the prisoners be transferred to Iowa. Should he do that then it will be up to his successor to return the accused terrorist to some other place--for surely he would be defeated at the polls in the next election.

"Aide Quits Over New York Flyover", by. Christopher Conkey, Wall Street Journal, V. CCLIII, N. 108, Saturday/Sunday 09-10 May 2009, p. A-3.

The "panic" in New York by a low flying aircraft has caused White House Military Office Director Louis Caldera to resign. I understand his desire to take the heat for the administration but president Obama should not have accepted it. In the grand scheme of things this was a minor incident and Obama should have said enough is enough. Instead he has not sent a message that if you make a mistake it is your head he wants. Better to accept resignations than to face up to the press and tell them calm down.

It also makes me glad I don't live in New York. What happened to the heroic action we saw just a few years ago? New York needs them back.

I flew in to Richmond today and walked through a couple of airports. If I only I had listened to the Vice President first who advised people to not travel on airplanes to avoid getting the flu. Well now it seems that statement has been softened some by the administration but I'm not hearing many jokes. It seems funny that every time President Bush made a funny statement it was the lead story of the news and the topic of the late night comedians. Vice President Biden seems on the way to breaking Bush's record yet no headlines.

Official May Be Fired for Authorizing N.Y. Flyover. By Michael D. Shear and Ann Scott Tyson. The Washington Post, 29 April 2009, Kindle Edition

The plane known as Air Force One when the president is onboard flew over New York on Monday so that the photo file could be updated. Sounds reasonable to me. Steps were taken and New York City officials were notified of the event but were asked to not notify the public. I'm not sure why the public was not notified but it just might have something to do with terrorists and the fact that taking pot shots at the plane could be a PR coup for the like of al Qaeda. Even if the public were notified then there is the question of just how many "in the public" would get notified.

Well, come Monday it seems the folks in New York had panic attacks when they saw a plane flying low. Yep, they claim flashbacks to 9/11. Fear they were under attack. To read news accounts the city shut down out of shear panic. To hear and read some reports it was almost a repeat of Orson Welles' broadcast of War of the Worlds. Now here seems to be a call for heads to roll.

"Asked repeatedly whether White House Military Office Director Louis Caldera, who made the decision, would lose his job, [White House press secretary Robert] Gibbs told reporters yesterday 'I think the president has rightly asked that a review of the situation and the decision-making' be done."

The only dumber than having New Yorkers panic over a low-flying aircraft would be fire someone over this event. Come on people, grow up and get over it. I hope the Obama administration will realize this for what it is and let it go. To fire someone like Caldera over something this trivial would be insanely ridiculous.

The Pirates Challenge Obama's Pre-9/11 Mentality, By Mackubon Thomas Owens. Wall Street Journal Vol. CCLIII, No. 84 Saturday/Sunday 11/12 April 2009, page A9

Mr. Owens of the Naval War College draws an interesting parallel between pirates and al Qaeda. The Obama administration is changing the term "enemy combatant" but they still do not seem to have solved the problem of how to handle those captured in Iraq and those likely to be captured as pirates.

As the eminent military historian Sir Michael Howard argued shortly after 9/11, the status of al Qaeda terrorists is to be found in a distinction first made by the Romans and subsequently incorporated into international law by way of medieval and early modern European jurisprudence. According to Mr. Howard, the Romans distinguished between bellum (war against legitimus hostis, a legitimate enemy) and guerra (war against latrunculi, pirates, robbers, brigands, and outlaws).

Bellum became he standard for interstate conflict, and it is here that the Geneva Conventions were meant to apply. They do not apply to guerra. Indeed, punishment for latrunculi, "the common enemies of mankind," traditionally has been summary execution.

Mr. Owens then argues that some in the Obama Administration seem more concerned in criminalizing the activities of those in the Bush Administration than focusing their energies o terrorist and pirates. If Obama is wise, he will squelch the talk of criminalizing those in the previous administration and move forward. Every administration, every president, should realize they too will one day be the "previous administration" and any precedents they set may well come back and haunt them.

"Why College Towns Are Looking Smart" by Kelly Evans. Wall Street Journal, CCLIII, No. 68, Tuesday, 24 March 2009, p. D1.

College towns are the places to go for jobs. Out of six metropolitan towns with unemployment below 4%, three boast colleges in their environs. Not only do the universities in these towns often have jobs available, the towns themselves, "long-considered recession resistant", also have openings.

According to Harvard economist Edward Glaeser when the "adult population with college degrees in a city increases by 10%, wages correspondingly rise by about 7.8%." This seems to indicate that one of the best incentives to stimulate the economy is to get more people in, and out of, college. Of course it will take time to educate the population, and they have be capable of completing college in the first place, but in the long run it does seems to indicate economic prosperity.

Unfortunately most state legislatures are too short-sighted and education is often one of the first items to be cut in the budget when the economy gets tough. Why? Because it directly impacts the fewest number of constituents in the near-term. It does hurt everyone in the long-term, however.

Memories of 11 September 2001

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11 March 2002

With today being six months from that day in September and with every television station showing the videotapes and covering the speeches, it is hard to not reflect on the day that has changed America forever. I have not talked much about what I experienced that day, in part because I'm not the kind of person that talks about such things, and in part because it is tough to talk about what I saw and experienced. While most people saw nothing but terror and confusion, I had another perspective. I saw terror, sure, but I also saw bravery, courage, honor, an individuals resolved to protect and defend this country.

Just a Little More Time

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29 December 2001

Just a little more, that's all we need, a little more time to do the job you elected us to do. We have been too busy fighting amongst ourselves to get any real work done on redistricting so someone took it court. But we really want to do it now. We really do! Let's push back the elections next year so we can have more time to work and we will do our jobs this time. Really. We will. Promise.
So goes the argument seemingly proffered by Representative Bill Miles (D-21st District). He has pre-filed a bill that would push the elections further into 2002 than currently scheduled so that the legislature would have time to work out a redistricting plan. I say enough is enough.

Our elected representatives have had plenty of time to work this out before now. The taxpayers even gave them more money to have a special session to work out a plan for Congressional redistricting and, once again, they let us down. The issue went to court and that decision, by a Democratic judge, is, as expected, now under appeal. And our beloved legislators want the good citizens of Mississippi to give them more time. I say the only thing we need to give them is a good swift kick in the pants, a kick right out of office and make room for some people who can make decisions.

Let's see now, just how many decisions have our elected officials put off for one reason or another? Well, there was the issue of the state flag. Too much to loose on that one so lets spend tax dollars on an election for it. Let the people decide.

Then there is the budget issue. The legislature continues to set unrealistic budgets with growth projections that no one believes, simply so they do not have to make the hard decisions of what to cut. And why are we suffering? Is it because there is less money coming in to the state? Why no, it is because the money coming in to the state, although more than in years past, is less than our fearless leaders projected and expected. They were too busy spending money that isn't here yet and when it didn't show, the taxpayers and state employees will have to suffer. They have their head buried so far in the sand they should be able to tell us if there is oil down there.

Well, okay, they learned a lesson and it won't happen again, Right? Wrong! They've gone and done the same thing again. As a whole, the legislature is incapable of making a good decision.

Remember the Mississippi governor election? The one before Florida? The election was too close to call so it went to the Legislature for a decision. As I recall, the vote could have gone two ways, our legislators could have voted with their districts and we would have had a Republican governor, or they could have voted along party lines and we could end up with the Democrat Musgrove. They had no trouble with this decision and overwhelmingly elected Musgrove. They were thinking they could work better with him than with a Republican. Wrong. Look at how they can't even get along with the person they elected as governor.

Our legislators seem to not understand that they have been elected to make decisions for the betterment of the state, not necessarily for their careers. Not all decisions will be popular and they may be a price to pay for at re-election time for making them, but that is simply the price of being a public servant. Of course if they could take the time to communicate the reasons behind their decisions to the people of the state, then perhaps, just perhaps, they could make the decisions they need to make and still keep their jobs. But that takes effort, a lot of effort. And just when was the last time you heard from your representative?

Just whose interest does the legislature have at heart? I don't know but it seems clear it is not the people of Mississippi. The best outcome we can have here is to clean house during the next election. But, unlike the legislature, I know the people of this state and am confident that the majority of them will be re-elected and we will continue to suffer under them.

By "we" in this articl I refer to Southerners, of which I am one. Had I been alive then it is hard for me to say which side I would have fought on because I am really a Federalist at heart and would have had a hard time favoring a divided country.

04 March 2001

I've never been one to give the Confederate flag much thought. Recent events have brought the flag up in various arenas. The NAACP is boycotting South Carolina; yet another bill to have it removed from the Mississippi Flag has been filed; and political candidates have been quizzed when they visited states. The flag seems to stir emotions on both sides and I've, for the most part, found the reasoning to be silly--on both sides of the argument.

"State Face New Imperative: Turn to Global, Entrepreneurial and Innovation-based 'New Economy' to Boost Competitiveness," PA Times, Vol 31, No. 12, p. 1, December 2008 (American Society for Public Administration)

I was disappointed, but not surprised, to find that Mississippi was ranked at the bottom of this list along with West Virginia. The 2008 State New Economy index is compiled and released by the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation and the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation as a measure not of how a state's economy is performing but rather how they are embracing the new economy. It focuses on a single, narrow question: "To what degree does the structure of state economies match the ideal structure of the New Economy?"

One of the key factors driving the New Economy is the information technology revolution which is measured by the index. The states at the top of the list tend to be states with "a high concentration of managers, professionals and college-educated residents working in 'knowledge jobs'--those that require at least a two-year degree." Obviously the vast majority of this state fails to meet these criteria. Other states such as North Carolina are ranked lower than expected (25th), according to the article, due their concentrations of high-tech. In a sense that is also true of Mississippi. Our high-tech areas are concentrated and, while they are as high tech as any, they represent a small percentage of the population.

The concern is not so much where Mississippi is ranked now but the fact that Mississippi led the way in states that declined in their performance from the last survey in 2007. While 36 improved, 11 declined. Mississippi fell "in twice as many indicators as it increased, while Wyoming and Indiana also fell." Given this is the "New Economy" it is not going to go away so every state should be getting better, not worse. Mississippi has, in my opinion, focused far too long on the old economy (attracting automobile fabricators and their associated support industries, rather than focusing on the high-tech, new economy. This is not true in all of the state; the area around Mississippi State for example, has seen some high-tech industries develop. But it represents a small portion of the state.

To turn things around the elected officials in Jackson are going to have to change the way they think and focus on long-term goals. That is difficult for a state in which I have repeatedly heard elected officials say they did not want to tie the hands of those to be elected in the future. That kind of backwards thinking limits how progressive a state can be when long-term strategic planning needs to be done.

Reading Habits of President Bush

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"Bush Is a Book Lover," by Karl Rove, Wall Street Journal, Friday, 26 December 2008, Vol. CCLII, No. 150, p. A11.

This is an insightful article into the reading habits of our president. What began as a New Year's resolution in 2006, to read a book a week, became a competition between Karl Rove and President Bush. Rove, like many of us, had gotten out of the habit of reading as much as he used to and decided to turn things around. President Bush joined in and it was soon a competition. Rove has won each year but that is not important, what is important is that if someone as busy as the President of the United States still finds time to read, it makes it difficult for most of us to say we do not have the time to read.

The scores: 2006 Rove 110, Bush 95; 2007 Rove 76, Bush 51; 2008 (as of today) Rove 64, Bush 40. The President has also read the Holy Bible cover to cover each year through his daily devotional. The books have ranged from history to biography and even included some fiction.

Some points I found interesting in the article are on Bush's theory of competition. Rove states:

"The reading competition reveal Mr. Bush's focus on goals. It's not about the winning. A good-natured competition helps keep him centered and makes possible a clear mind and a high level of energy."

"There is a myth perpetuated by Bush critics that he would rather burn a book than read one. Like so many caricatures of the past eight years, this one is not only wrong, but also the opposite of truth and evidence that bitterness can devour a small-minded critic. Mr. Bush loves books, learns from them, and is intellectually engaged by them."

According to Rove, the President is never without a book. He reads instead of watching television and reads on Air Force One. To read as much as he does, he obviously reads most anywhere he can. It reminds me of a story I read about William F. Buckley a few years ago that pointed out he always had a book with him. I also always have a book with me. You never know when the car might break down or you might have some time to yourself. When I know I am going somewhere that will require a wait (the doctor, the dentist, to get a haircut) I always take my own book. It is nice to have magazines in a waiting area but I prefer to take my own books.

I'm not much for New Year's resolutions but this year I may have to break my tradition.

Landslide? Hardly

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The AP is saying that Obama won the election in an Electoral College landslide. A what? What the heck is an Electoral College landslide other than over-the-top journalistic rhetoric? Strafor is more reserved, and hence why I prefer them, and say he won a “solid majority” of the popular vote but nowhere near a landslide and that his Electoral College win was “decisive”.

Stratfor goes on to point out that, in effect, now it is time for Obama to perform. They discuss his statement that he will withdraw from Iraq but he does not have a timeframe nor does he discuss how this will work with Saudi Arabia or Iran. They ask, can he offer Iran anything that will cause them to accept Iraq as a neutral government serving as a buffer between Iran and Saudi Arabia? They state:

“What is important is that Obama, having won the election, will now have to face a range of foreign policy issues that will challenge his ideology and policies, and where his personality will matter little. He will be dealing with people like Vladimir Putin, Hu Jintao and Angela Merkel, none of whom are swayed by charisma and all of whom govern countries with interests very different than those of the United States.”

Yes indeed. Now it is not charisma and charm, it is the real world.

High Voter Turnout?

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I’m wondering what turnout was for voting in Mississippi. There was a lot of talk of record turnout so I voted early this morning rather than my usual mid-afternoon time. I had to wait about 25 minutes when I usually have to wait less than five. However, I heard that later in the afternoon there was little to no wait. So, I wonder, did all of the talk of high turnout get people out early to “beat the rush” or was there really an increase in turnout?

Lots of Talk, No Action

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Barack Wrote a Letter… Wall Street Journal, 29 October 2008, p. A16

The Wall Street Journal had a telling article about Obama’s work on the subprime lending crisis. In his 07 October debate, the Journal says, Obama stated that he “’never promoted Fannie Mae’ and that ‘two years ago I said that we’ve got a subprime lending crisis that has to be dealt with.’” The Senator wrote some letters to the Secretary Paulson and Federal Reserve Chairman Bernanke. The letters, says the Journal, called for decisive action. Obama suggested that they “’consider options’ and that ‘the relevant private sector entities and regulators’ might be able to provide ‘targeted responses.’” My favorite line from the article is “Then in paragraph four, the Harvard –trained lawyer dropped his bombshell: a suggestion that various interest groups get together to ‘consider’ best practices in mortgage lending.”

This scares me to no end. For all those who tout the Senator’s vast experience at “community organizing” this is the result of that experience. An executive makes decisions; an organizer gets people together to talk. When the Senator was blowing the top off of this crisis all he wanted was to get people to talk. We need decisions in Washington not gripe sessions. The lack of leadership in this candidate is astounding. The number of people who fail to see that lack of leadership is scary.

Vice-Presidential Debates

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Palin did well. I don’t like trying to pick winners and losers of debates but if I were to say who won, it would be Sarah. Biden seemed whinny to me most of the night and he, like Obama, do not understand that George Bush is not running for re-election. Palin connected with people I think. Biden didn’t.

Interestingly, I’ve been switching back and forth between Fox News and CNN to see differences in reporting. According to Fox Palin killed Biden; according to CNN both exceeded expectations. Prior to the debate it seemed everyone was talking about how important this debate was but now that it is over, perhaps because Palin did so well, the talk is that this debate is not going to change too much. We’ll see.

Biden also seemed to have a few facts wrong. We’ll how that shakes out over the next few days.

What a man! I attended the Colin Powell talk tonight and was more than impressed. I read his autobiography many years ago and was impressed then but seeing him in person was even more impressive. He is clearly a very intelligent person and has a keen sense of humor. His talk was informative and entertaining.

We had some students present who embarrassed me, and their fellow students. Some kid (yes, kid) showed up on the floor wearing a “colorful” t-shirt and black and white checked shorts. Most everyone else was wearing business dress. Perhaps he thought he was cool, but I, and even the students sitting near me, thought he was ridiculous and an embarrassment to the university. Some students even called that he be taken off the floor.

Questions were submitted to General Powell and read by students who apparently had some role in deciding which questions to ask. One question dealt with how you could work with someone and work on topics you disagreed with. The implication was that General Powell continued to work on the Iraq war even though he disagreed with President Bush. The General set the student straight and noted that the question assumed he and the president disagreed. He clearly stated that he did not. He was in agreement with going to war but differed in how things were handled after the fall of Baghdad. Another question was so boggled and senseless I can’t even remember what it was. I only remember that the General did a great job in handling it with dignity. I was impressed with the answers given but disappointed in the questions asked.

His talk covered his time in the military, his time as SecState, retirement, and his outlook on life--he looks ahead, not to the rear.

General Powell is definitely a speaker to hear given a chance.

The McCain interview on "The View" has been reported on the web is several places which is why I know of it. Does anyone with half a brain actually watch that show? From what I have heard about it it is not a talking head head but a talking empty head show.

Reportedly, John McCain stated that he would appoint justices to the Supreme Curt who strictly interpreted the Constitution. The McCain interview on "The View" has been reported on the web is several places which is why I know of it. Does anyone with half a brain watch that show?

Reportedly, John McCain stated that he would appoint justices to the Supreme Court who strictly interpreted the Constitution. To which Whoopi, the idiot, replied, "Do I have to worry about becoming a slave again?" Okay, idiot Goldberg, just when were you ever a slave? Never! So you could never "become a slave again". Second, is Whoopi so stupid that she does not know what "strictly" means or perhaps she does not know what he Constitution says? In fact has she ever read the Constitution? (All who think not say “aye”.)

You see Ms Goldberg, those of with brains who understand English and have read the Constitution know about this little thing called the thirteenth amendment, ratified on 06 December 1865 (long before you were born) which says, "Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction." If a justice "strictly" interprets the Constitution then he/she most assuredly could guarantee that you would never be a slave. Of course this is only applies to slavery as in involuntary servitude--being a slave to your own ignorance is not covered by the Constitution and can only be remedied by yourself.

One the things that is often misunderstood about those of us of the conservative bent is that we are opposed to change. We are not. I am aware of no conservative who objects to the amendments to the Constitution. Our objection is to judges and justices who change the Constitution based on their “interpretation” of it. The Constitution can be amended and the process is clearly spelled out in the Constitution itself. We can also enact new laws, through the legislature. It is not the job of the judiciary to create new laws or rights based on how they choose to interpret the Constitution.

Sarah Palin Impressed Me

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Sarah Palin impressed me with her speech tonight at the RNC. Yes, as the news “reporters” have mentioned so many times, I am sure it was written for her, but then aren’t all speeches written for politicians? The point is she delivered it with force and it touched on some important parts. I was especially impressed with the number of Obama votes of “present”.

I have had several discussions about which position is more important in the sense of decision-making and I come down strongly on the side of governors, and even mayors. As executives they have to make decisions and their decisions can be attributed only to themselves. They cannot hide behind other senators or representatives. They cannot get a feel of how the vote will go and then go with the flow. They cannot say they did not cast the deciding vote. When an executive make a decision it is a personal one. Governor Palin has certainly made decisions. She has not voted “present”.

Palin also hit a home run on the family issue. She is from a small town and she has a family with problems—like the rest of us. She is from the part of American that most of us grew up in, not San Francisco and LA or New York and Boston. It will also be interesting to see how the blue collar vote comes in now. While the dems talk a good game, it is laughable to think of Obama or Bidden ever actually have worked in a factory. Palin’s husband, on the other hand, is not s supporter of unions, he is a member of one—and a commercial fisherman to boot.

The talk about McCain was also good I think. It seems the maverick is back which appeals to people like me but puts off some other republicans. I will also admit that McCain’s character is not flawless but I do think it is good. He has made mistakes as we all have but his time in Vietnam has proven his character. Most dems I talk to float out the standard line that being a POW does not mean you will be a good president, and they are correct. However, it is character that counts in a president. Neither Bush nor Gore ran on a 9/11 platform yet that has defined the Bush presidency as it would have a Gore presidency.

Further, it is not the fact that McCain was a POW that matters; it is the whole Vietnam experience. When the USS Forrestal had the missile incident and McCain was injured, he did not ask to be sent home or to take a few days off. He asked to be transferred to an undamaged ship so that he could continue to fly sorties. When he was shot down and tortured, he did not crack. When offered the chance to go home early, he said he would only go home after everyone captured before him had gone home. It is times of adversity that a person’s true character comes out and that is why I prefer who has been tested and proven himself over someone who has only talked.

Obama’s mantra of change also bothers me. Change can be good or change can be bad. As a friend said once, “The bank is raising their interest rate. Yea! Oh, it is on loans and not savings.” I have also observed time and time again that people resist change. So why are so many people on board with change? I have no idea. I also doubt there will be significant change, regardless of who gets elected. Remember the promises made if only the democrats could control Congress? This has been a very ineffective Congress and I think Pelosi will be recorded in history as one of the least effective speakers. So much for promises of change.

I have always been a proponent of going straight to the source for information, but apparently not everyone else is. Admiral Mullen has penned an open letter in the new issue of Joint Forces Quarterly that has grown legs. It has been summarized in several publications and I’ve seen several Google Alerts about it. The problem is that some people rely on what others say about the letter rather than read it for themselves.

What Admiral Mullen says is that military personnel, especially those on active duty, should keep their politics to themselves. I agree. Military personnel are most certainly citizens but they are to carry out the policies of those elected by the American people. That was my position when Bill Clinton was president and it is my position now that George Bush I president. If those in uniform become too political, and express those opinions too openly, especially the senior officers, then we undermine the civilian control of military.

Admiral Mullen’s letter is available on the web, you only need Google Joint Forces Quarterly and you can find it. However, the New York Times also wrote about the article and some people chose to read the NYT’s opinion rather than read the source directly. On such person is Samuel at Gilgal.

Sam blogged an article entitled Do You Give Up Your Rights When You Join the Military. Sam states “But is this “apolitical” view of individuals in the military historically correct? According to President George Washington, “When we assumed the soldier, we did not lay aside the citizen.” Washington’s words indicate that the individual does not give up his inalienable Constitutional rights when he puts on the uniform of the United States military.” I mention this only because in the original article Admiral Mullen himself says “I am not suggesting that military professionals abandon all personal opinions about modern social or political issues. Nor would I deny them the opportunity to vote or discuss . . . or even to debate those issues among themselves. We are first and foremost citizens of this great country, and as such have a right to participate in the democratic process. As George Washington
himself made clear, we did not stop being citizens when we started being Soldiers.”

Now I ask, does that read like the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff is asking military personnel to “give up their Constitutional rights”? Doesn’t sound like that to me, at all.

But of course, I would never imply that the New York Times has an agenda or shows their bias.

Flowers Before Security

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Extension Computer Donation to Help Agencies Communicate
Starkville Daily News, 21 March 2008, p A-6

“A donation of old-but-functional computers from the Mississippi State University Extension Service will soon give local law enforcement, intelligence and public safety agencies connectivity for sharing information.”

Okay, for the record, I am not being critical of the Extension Service making the donation—I find it admirable that they are finding second-uses for their old computers. However, it bothers me immensely that the state of Mississippi seems to provide better funding to the people who help us grow prettier flowers than they do to the people who are charged with ensuring our security. I just bought a new laptop because my three-year old laptop was taking too long to check my email, open a doument, and surf the web. I would think that our “law enforcement, intelligence and public safety agencies” might also appreciate, perhaps even need, more up-to date computers than I do.

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again—character matters. When forming judgments about people or institutions, the most important factor to consider is character. Although the saying that past performance does not guarantee future results may apply to investments, the past behavior of a person is the best indicator of their future behavior. Promises have no meaning unless the person making them has a history of living up to them.

Thirty-five years ago today, John McCain came home from the Hanoi Hilton where he spent five and a half years of his life. John McCain is a hero but he is a real hero, not one of the new-fangled heroes we have today. The term hero is thrown around so much these days that it has almost lost it meaning—but McCain is a hero in the truest sense of the word.

He is not a hero because he fought in Vietnam. He is not a hero because he was shot down while completing a bombing mission. He is not even a hero because he spent time in a POW camp. Those actions were merely part of or a result of doing the job he willingly chose to do. John McCain is a hero because of what he did, and what he did not do, while a POW.

During his time in the Hanoi Hilton, John McCain was offered early release because of who he was. He was not only severely injured while ejecting from his airplane as it was hit with a surface to air missile, he was injured further by his captors. The easy thing to have done would have been to accept the release. I honestly think that most people would have understood had he accepted the release. Instead, he stood fast and said he would go home as soon as everyone who had been there longer than he had was also released.

John McCain is a hero because after he came close to death in the fire on the USS Forrestal, he requested a transfer to the USS Oriskany so that he could continue to fly missions. It was from the Oriskany that he would fly his mission before being captured.

To see more about this check out this video.

Is John McCain perfect? No. Do I agree with everything he has done? No. Do I think he will be elected as President and then never make a decision I disagree with? No. Do I think he will be a man of character and make decisions for the good of the country, as best as he can? Absolutely. Why? Because he has character. He has the character that will allow him to put country before self. He has shown he can make the hard decisions—even they have significant personal costs.

Senators Clinton and Obama seem to be fine people but what we know of their character? Senator Clinton and her husband have yet to release records that could show her character. Senator Obama has done nothing but talk about change without really defining what that was. He has yet to point to any decisions he has made that had a personal cost.

If you agree with me, how about making a contribution to the John McCain contribution? Click here.

It is too bad that the Rev. Philip Headd of the Oktibbeha County Justice Coalition was too occupied with being offended by others to take the time and not offend. Rather than spend a few dollars to buy bunting, the Rev. Headd and the Oktibbeha County Justice Coalition chose to use the US Flag to cover their monument. (Photo from the Starkville Daily News, 25 February 2008).


McCain Wins New Hampshire

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Needless to say I am pleased that John McCain won the New Hampshire primary. It was not unexpected nor is it ia sign that he has the nomination wrapped up. He also won the last time he ran but it did not result in becoming the President.

Click here to see the press release at or look below. The list is impressivee and there are several Admirals that I personally admire.

Wall Street Journal, Sat/Sun Dec 8-9, 2007, p. A4

The CIA is once again in hot water with the US Congress. Several years ago the CIA taped some interrogations it conducted and recently destroyed those tapes because they had no additional intelligence value. Keeping the tapes, however, put at risk having the interrogators identified.

Shortly after 11 September 2001 there seemed to be a lot of discussion about who knew what and when about the terrorists. It came out that law enforcement knew some useful information but kept it quite so as to not have the criminal investigation tainted. I thought we had learned from that experience that there were greater goals to be obtained than simply “brining terrorist to justice”. Is not better to prevent acts of terror than to allow them to occur and then put the parties on trial?

Assuming the CIA’s version is correct and that Congress was indeed notified of the destruction, then I think they did the right thing

I just got this picture for the Director of the Shackouls Honors College. Pictured is Representative Lee Hamilton autographing my 9/11 Commission book (the person on the left is Mike McGrevey, our Chief of Staff). He also signed my Iraq Study Group report.


As I said in my previous post, if more pople, both Democrat and Republican alike, could discuss issues in the manner of Rep. Hamilton, we would make much more progress in politics and public policy. The truth is there really is more gray in the world than there is black and white, yet most people tend to aruge politics as if there are only black and white.

Representative Lee Hamilton visited campus tonight and gave the inaugural Lamar Conerly Honors Lecture Series. The event was held in the recently renovated Lee Hall Auditorium.

Hamilton, former US House of Representatives member from Indiana, and co-chairman of the Iraq Study Group and vice-chair of the 9/11 Commission delivered an excellent talk entitled “A Balanced View of American Power”. He made some interesting points about the use of American power in the world and said the goals of the Bush Administration were appropriate. I can’t say he agreed with the methods employed in Iraq however.

One point he made is that the US should intervene at he appropriate time but he did not say what time was the appropriate time. Before the 9/11 the World Trade Towers had been attacked twice, we had the bombing in Beirut, we had the bombing of the USS Cole in Yemen, and others. In retrospect it is easy to see the connections but the problem was seeing them at the time. Was the appropriate time after the first attack on the WTC or after the USS Cole? It is a tough question but it is also an important question.

At the reception following I was able to get both my 9/11 Commission Report and my Iraq Study Group books signed.

I also have to admit that the questions asked by our students were also excellent. This was a great experience and I only wish more students could have been there to hear what was said.

Article: "House Democrats Set to Retreat From Effort to Cap Troop Levels", Wall Street Journal, 02 March 2007, p. A4

One thing I cautioned my Sailors against was expecting to see much change in Iraq as a result of the November elections. The Democrats may have gained the majority, but it was not enough to override a veto or, as we have seen lately, not even enough to bring bills up for a vote. According to the WSJ apparently the Democrat’s are now beginning to see that as well.

According to the article, Rep. John Murtha has been humbled. I doubt I would go that far but he has certainly run into some roadblocks. I can’t say that I’m bothered by that, in fact I think the roadblocks are good. I, for one, never understood the purpose of a non-binding resolution. What were the Democrats trying to prove? Were they trying to tell the President that they were unhappy? If so, they needn’t have bothered; I’m confident the President Bush knows the Democrats are unhappy with the situation in Iraq.

Perhaps they are simply schizophrenic. They holding hearings before they confirm General David Petraeus and he makes it clear that he supports a surge in troop level. After the hearings, they confirm him by an overwhelming number. Then they want a resolution to keep the surge from happening. It makes no sense to me, but then I’m not in Congress.

House Republican Leader John Boehner is quoted in the article as saying “For seven weeks Democrats have been all over the block. They have no strategy to stop the war. They have no strategy to win the war. They are the majority here on Capitol Hill. It’s time for them to grow up make a decision.” I can’t say that I agree with him because I fear the decision they might make.

The truth is that Iraq is not another Vietnam. It can be if we yield to those who want to cut funds and withdraw troops. On the other hand, if we tough it out, we just might win. It was our weak response to prior acts of terrorism that led Osama bin Laden to believe we were a paper tiger and hence the reason he was willing to stage the attacks of 11 September 2001. Imagine what would happen if we were to pull out of Iraq too soon. The acts of terrorism on American soil would drastically increase and they could well prove difficult to counter. Yes, the Iraqis need to take a more active role in running their country; yes they need to do more to quell the sectarian violence; yes they need to train more troops; but their failure to so should not result in our withdrawal for we, along with the Iraqis, will suffer.


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John McCain announced his new website today. It is available at Of course, I have a website on his website too, it is You can make a donation to the McCain Committee there if you would like.

I supported McCain last time in the primaries for several reasons. He is certainly a maverick, although he seems to be down-playing that a little bit this time, and I think is needed in Washington. He is also a naval officer who spent years in the Hanoi Hilton. There is no doubting this man's courage and resolve.


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Dateline: Courtyard Marriott Capitol Hill/NavyYard, DC

"Voting with your trolley", The Economist, December 9-15, 2006

For the last few years our church has been brewing Fair Trade coffee at our coffee time on Sunday mornings. We've done it because it was the "right" thing to do. It has always bothered me because it never made any sense, but it what liberals do--take action even if it doesn't make sense. The problem is people do not understand economics.

My concern has always been that "fair trade" artificially boosts the price of coffee and encourages people to grow coffee even though there is an overabundance. Of course, with the liberals paying better than a fair price for the coffee more people want to grow coffee which lowers the price even further.

Well, now I have others who agree. The December 9th - 15th 2006 issue of The Economist has an article outlining my objections exactly. They also confirmed a suspicion I've long had about the "fair trade" and that is that it is the retailers who are making a killing, not the growers. "Fair trade" coffee gives the farmer about a 5 cent per pound premium, according to The Economist.

Now I'm going to be generous. Let's say we use four pounds of coffee per week at church (I doubt we do because we always seem to run out). That means that each week we put an additional twenty cents in the wallet of the coffee farmer. Another way of looking at it is that we give Juan Valdez an extra $10.40 per year. I have no idea how much we are giving the retailer but I suspect if bought regular coffee ("unfair trade"??) and wrote a check to the coffee farmers for, say $30, we'd save a lot of money and the farmers would get a lot more money.

It seems like a better idea would be to give the money to the farmers and help them move into growing a different crop that they can sell and make a profit. Kind of makes me wonder why no one has thought of it before. Well lo and behold, someone has. The Economist Article mentions the Rainforest Alliance. They are not a trade association, they do not artificially inflate prices, they simply help farmers learn to grow other crops and provide them the credit they need to do so.

Some other myths shattered by this article:
1) Organic food is not better. Organic food requires more land which takes away the rain forest. Artificial fertilizer allows more food to be grown on less land. Example; cereal production tripled but the land required for that only increased 10%.
2) Buying local produce is not better for the economy. It consumes fewer resources to transport food in bulk to the supermarket where we all go that it does to have every soccer mom and her SUV drive to the market for some things and then drive to the farmers market. Add to that the fact that local farmer is not as efficient as the big farmers and you have a truly inefficient process.

This just goes to show you, everyone needs to take at least one economics class.

Dateline: Home Study

Rice Is Under Fire as Mideast Peace Falters, by Neil King, Jr., Wall Street Journal, Friday, 25 August 2006, p. A4

Well Rice and Bush are surprise, under fire. When Israel attacked Hezbollah the world screamed for peace. Our European called for UN intervention. My own Presbyterian Church (USA) decried the attacks by Israel because of the harm that was being inflicted on the Lebanese people, revealing once again that Stated Clerk Clifton Kirkpatrick should keep his pen capped when it comes to international affairs. So, Bush and Rice went to the UN and brokered a peace deal.

Now that we have the peace deal, our European allies still are reluctant to provide the peace-keeping force (sound familiar?) and Rice and Bush are being criticized for not effecting a long-term solution in the Middle East. So, if you go to war to effect peace, you should declare peace. If on the other hand you declare peace, you should go to war.

I’m personally disappointed because I thought Israel was going to really cripple the terrorist Hezbollah organization once and for all. But alas, they were called down by the US. It seems to me that the US policy is inconsistent and that is what bothers me. Perhaps we changed to appease our friends in Europe but their reluctance to supply peace-keepers is perhaps an indication that we really should ignore them and do what we think is right.


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Dateline: Boston Marriott, Copley Place

John Gonsalves, President and Founder of Homes for Our Troops gave a very moving talk about his organization and what it is doing to our disabled veterans. Home for Our Troops was John's brainchild and is proving to be very successful. This organization is doing great things and is deserving of support.

What was truly impressive about John's presentation were the stories he told about the generosity of Americans. He related stories of anonymous donors giving thousands (even hundreds of thousands) of dollars. But he also had many stories of the average working American who shows up to donate time and services building houses. More proof that Americans are giving people.

An Israeli Attack Could Spark end to Palestinian Authority’s Grip by Karby Leggett, WSJ, Wednesday, 28 June 2006, p A4.

As I write this it appears Hamas is already backing down, and in my opinion, showing signs of weakness. Leggett points out that some sources indicate a re-invasion of Gaza in the next year is likely because Hamas is moving weapons into the area that are capable of reaching major Israeli cities. I agree.

The problem in Palestine, and with Hamas, is that they are still a disorganized government. Hamas could do some things, such as act like guerillas, before the election because that is exactly what they were. Their tactics, their methods, and even their strategy was exactly what you would expect from a group of terrorists. However, when they were elected as a “real” government, all of that changed. They now have to live by the rule-set that all governments live by. The problem is they can’t.

The reason the Hamas government can’t live by the international rule-set all other nations have to live by is the same reason we are not doing more, faster in Iraq. Hamas, like the insurgents in Iraq, are at best a quasi-government. There is no real control of them, they have now formal strategy, they have no formal structure. They are individuals and cells seemingly acting independently of each other and often at odds.

The Hamas government, as Leggett points out, can not pay government salaries. How then can they maintain control and credibility? The answer is, they can’t. How much longer will the government last? Who knows, but they seem to be killing any chance they have being a respectable, recognized government. And while some in the media will discuss the “brutality” of the Israelis, I remain amazed at their restraint.


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Dateline: Home Study

Will the PCUSA be a bunch of lemmings and be used by the Palestinians? Most likely yes. Interesting post at IsraPundit today. I wish had more faith in the PCUSA but, honestly, right now, I fear the church is hopelessly lost and based on some of the mail I have exchanged with the "leaders" of the church, they have no idea they are lost.


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Dateline: Home Study

The Wall Street Journal, Friday 17 March 2006, V. CCXLVII, N 63, P 1. “As Sponsorship Sales Blossom, Public Radio Walks a Fine Line.”

I used to be a big fan of public radio. It did provide a source of music I couldn’t find elsewhere, and I even enjoyed the news. Although I did, still do, refer to NPR’s Morning Edition as Morning Sedition and All things Considered as All Things Left and Liberal I was able to cut through the left-wing bias and find the kernel of truth there. What I liked about it was that the news stories were more in depth and a greater length of time was spent on individual stories than on other news stations. It was also convenient while in the car traveling. I actually was able to get caught up on some of the news on my drives to Memphis for my Naval War College classes.

But then along came Sirius satellite radio. With well over 100 stations from which to choose, I could listen to all the classical music I wanted. And if I was in the mood for jazz, blues, rock, comedy, or talk, I had many options to choose from there as well. But I also have access to news. I can listen to Fox News, CNN, CNN Headline News, CSPAN, ABC News, the BBC, and others, including NPR. All this, and more, for less than $15 a month!

The WSJ article discusses how elite the public radio audience is, which is true. I certainly fall into the categories they discuss about household income and education levels, which raises the question, why is the government subsidizing radio for those of us who are most able to afford it on our own? Could we not simply let the public radio stations go public and spend our tax dollars on other worthy causes? Do we even need public radio and public television anymore? We did at one time, but now give me a choice between The Learning Channel, The History Channel, Discovery, or public TV and it is goodbye public TV.

Public radio is moving in the right direction, just not fast enough.


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Dateline: Home Study

The news media gets it wrong...again. No real surprise here. There is a lot to cover and too few people to cover it, so I can accept some mistakes. What is bothering me however, is the laziness of the media. They seem to not even bother with checking facts any more.

Earlier this week the Wall Street Journal ran a story about how Chinese bloggers turned off their blogs and the media reported it as government crack-downs. They reporters never bothered to check for facts. The bloggers? Well they just wanted to prove how lazy and inaccurate the press is; point made.

Today I learned of more erroneous reporting; in Iraq nonetheless. General Chiarelli, in a DoD news conference today had a few words to say about the exaggerations of attacks on mosques in Iraq. Although the press reported numerous mosques burning, the reality is that there were no fires. Here's the quote:

In the days immediately following the Samarra bombing, the press was actively tracking and reporting every single mosque attack, but the vast majority of the reporting was off the mark. I recalled reports of hundreds of mosques attacked and 30 mosques burning in Baghdad in one night. These reports were terribly inaccurate.

As we received reports of mosque attacks, we sent forces out to physically check the mosques for damage. We received 81 reports of mosques being attacked from sources other than our subordinate units. Of these 81 mosque reports, 17 had light damage, such as bullet holes or broken glass, and six had medium damage, repairable within six months. Only two mosques were completely destroyed, and none were burned.

Keep in mind, these reports are for a country that has thousands of mosques. Yet as I watched the news, I thought that every mosque in Iraq was being attacked.

Again, I'm not making light of the tragedy of the violence that has occurred. But I remain convinced that the resiliency and optimism of the Iraqi people will keep Iraq moving in the right direction.

What really bother s me is that the general public is not getting this information as I am (although they could). Instead, they believe what they read in the papers and form opinions accordingly. So, when I read of the effort in Iraq is loosing public support I know it is based on false information. That is not responsible journalism.

Surprise! Surprise! Surprise! Haley Barbour vetoed the tax bill sent to him by the Mississippi Legislature. Was there any doubt? Neither Barbour nor the Democrats are dumb. Just a few years ago, after careful consideration, a certain President George W. Bush decided that a proposed tax increase was the right thing to do. Clinton then reminded him of his "read my lips; no new taxes" campaign promise he made.

Barbour ran on a similar "no new taxes" platform and now the legislature is surprised that he vetoed a tax increase. Sure, the other side of the argument is that there would be tax cut for food, and the tax increase is only cigarettes, but Barbour knows and remembers the Democrats. When (notice I didn't say if) he makes a id for national office, he does not want this to come back and bit him in the butt.

Mississippi Democrats have, finally, learned about regressive taxes. They are now talking about the high taxes we have on groceries and how it is harmful to the poor. Yep, sure is. It was just as harmful when they raised the tax rate and did not grant an exemption of groceries. If they are truly concerned about the high grocery tax, then send Barbour a bill lowering it. But make sure it includes where the cuts will come from to account for the loss in revenue. And there, my friends, is the rub, a Democrat would have to propose budget cuts!


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Dateline: Home Study

Up until today, listening to the news you would think there were a record number of soldiers killed in Iraq in 2005. After, we are losing the war, the Iraqis hate, people are dropping left and right…at least that is what the liberals want us to believe. The truth is much different, something you can find by reading the many blogs of soldiers who are in theater.

And what about that record death toll? Well, the Associated Press put the death toll of American Soldiers this year at 841, five LESS than last year. Wait a minute. I thought things were going worse than last year! Okay, those are still 841 Patriots we lost this year doing their duty, and the death of any one of this is a tragedy, but the death toll seems to be headed in the right direction (down), and opposite the direction the media has led us to believe.

Today’s Washington Post states that the DC Medical Examiner’s Officer is a wee bit backlogged on autopsies, some 1,037 are incomplete, including 84 homicides. Granted, some of those cases go back a decade, and not all autopsies are the result of homicides, but they did report 1,163 were performed last year. That’s a lot of deaths that need an autopsy and it helps put the Iraq death toll in perspective. Over eight hundred American deaths in a country at war compared to over 1,000 deaths in an American city not at war. The web reports that there were 248 murders and homicides in Washington DC in 2003.

Dateline: Home Study

The title of this entry is a quote from today's Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal. There was an article about the Mississippi Legislature and what they had to look forward to this year. At the conclusion of the story the author was kind enough to provide information on how to contact state legislators, including what their email addresses were. The contact information paragraph ended with the statement “While many members use the Internet, some still do not.”

That, my friends, in a nutshell, is the problem with the Mississippi Legislature. We are about to enter the year 2006 and we still some elected officials who are either too stupid or too arrogant to use email (or, in some instances, both). What better way to keep in touch with those who elected you than use email? Ahh! There's the rub...keep in touch with those who elected you. Obviously we have some officials who do not want to keep in touch for fear their constituents might find out what they really do.

Dateline: Home Study

I've been asked several times or heard comments several times, over the last day or two, asking why the military did not respond faster to the hurricane. The answer is really quite simple--Title X of the US Code. To make it plain and simple: this is the United States of America, not Iraq. We have civilians who control civil law, not military.

Compound the problem further by the New Orleans Police Department officers who resigned. They certainly have no honor, no courage, no commitment. If the Mayor and Governor have any leadership qualities, they will pass a law forbidding those cowards from ever holding a public job again.

The National Guard can essentially be deputized by their respective governors and can then enforce laws, but the active duty can not.

Why didn't they get there sooner to provide humanitarian relief? Again, you have to first ask and then it takes time. From what I've seen the Navy actually began executing a plan before the storm hit but it takes times. If you put troops close, they become casualties. If you put ships in the Gulf of Mexico, they sink.

There was also a lot of damage. When the storm moved on and the winds died down there was very little infrastructure left. Roads were blocked, bridges washed away. I heard last night that some National Guard trucks were stranded in Meridian, Mississippi because they didn't have fuel. Why? It was a combination of the lack of electricity to pump fuel and the freaking idiots in the state (and now surrounding states) who panicked and made a run on gas.

Will it be better in the near future? Certainly. Will we have fuel here soon? I hope. Of course all the fans who came to town to see a football game that should have been canceled have surely consumed what little there was available earlier today. I wonder, is "I can't get gas" an excuse to miss work? I would not be surprised if we did not hear that reason in the next few days, particularly for those who commute to work from out of town.

Dateline: Home Study

I read the latest issue of Presbyterians Today and once again find I am disappointed in my national church organization. Vernon Broyles column borders on encouraging breaking the law and he seems to want to encourage illegal immigration. He even uses the term illegal in quotes, as if it those who cross the border and enter this country without passports and visas are not in violation of the law. But Broyles is pretty much a lost cause anyway.

The editor however troubles me. I’ve often disagreed with her but she usually well-reasoned and is not nearly as militant as Broyles. But this month she exhibits a quality I find in far too many people these days—the belief that change can happen in a vacuum. Secondary and tertiary effects are seemingly never considered.

This month the issue is school vouchers. Like so many, Ms Stimson makes the assumption that if vouchers are issued parents will flock to the private schools; in other words it is assumed that public schools are bad and everyone will leave them. Well, there are some problems with this thinking that is seldom discussed by the liberals. First, private schools will give preference to their current students meaning that there will in general be limited space for new students. If the private schools add students faster than they grow their resources they will fail.

Second, and perhaps most disappointingly, Ms Stimson assumes that public schools will do nothing. Such thinking is too shallow. Public schools will strive to improve their infrastructure to retain current students and attract new students. They will actually be forced to listen to the public they serve and offer programs accordingly. If the community values art, then public school art programs will grow. If the community wants more science and math, more science and math courses will be added by both public and private schools. If discipline is valued, discipline will be instilled.

No, the real reason liberals oppose schools vouchers is, I believe, that the public will take control of public schools. If vouchers come to be, local citizens rather than the National Education Association will make decisions over what is taught in the schools and what program are offered. IN other words, the market will dictate that the local school board be accountable to the public. Now that is a novel concept!

Dateline: Fairfield Inn Greensboro, NC

Arrived tonight in Greensboros for drill after another long trip. I left work later than planned (I always do) but had a meeting with someone interviewing for a faculty position. It was a nice meeting and the position is one of the more visible. Worth the delay.

Of course the delay meant hitting Atlanta traffic at the wrong time. I keep thinking that one day Atlanta will get this traffic thing figured out but they seem to do it. At least I don't live there and have to deal with it everyday. Lots of people on the road tonight for some reason. Lots of people who shouldn't be on the road tonight. I continue to be amazed at how many poor drivers there are and how they can block all lanes of traffic, and I'll not even start on the inconsiderate truck drivers out there. There are some nice ones but nothing like just a few years ago.

During the drive I did have some time to think, listen to the news, and catch some talk radio. Bill O'Reilly was really down on the Brits for being anti-American based on editorials in British papers. I think he's just plain wrong. If editorials were reflective of the people's thinking and feelings, then the New York Times would have Al Gore in his second term as President.

While at the Current Strategy Forum at the Naval ar College, a German militarry person was asked, in effect, why weren't the Germans more supportive of America. After talking for a while, he finally made the point that there is a difference between the German government and the German people. Hmmm, just like in America. Perhaps just like in Great Britain? Yea, I think so.

Put some more thought into the Leadership Academy. More on it later.


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Dateline: Home Office

I read today that Putin was to speak to the IOC via videotape i hopes of being selected to host the 2012 English! I don't know how many people picked up on that but it seems pretty big to me. Perhaps this is a sign that the former USSR really is interested in becoming more of a player in work events. Can you imagine a Soviet speaking in public during the USSR times? I can't.

Dateline: Home Study

So goes the title of Vernon Broyles III latest tirade in Presbyterians Today. At least he quotes scripture here but that does nothing to open his eyes or his mind. This man is so arrogant that if he were trying to convince me that the sky is blue I would probably disagree with him.

Vern, like so many these days, is convinced that the Republicans are taking over the world and “abusing power”. Vernon seems to have lost sight of what a democracy, or at least a Republic, is all about. The “Reds” as he calls them, are in power because the American people put them there. The American PEOPLE put the President in the White House, put a majority of Republicans in the Congress, and even put Republicans in the governor’s mansions across the nation. That is obviously a sin according to the great Vernon Broyles who, like the majority of the power elite in the Presbyterian National Office, know so much better than we about what we need.

Vern is not even original in his arguments which is what really frustrates me. If he had some new arguments at least it would be fun to read him but he merely repeats that which comes from the DNC—Republicans are rich, Republicans hate the poor, Republicans hate charity… He is, plain and simple, a bigot. Not a bigot in the racial sense but a bigot in the political sense. He obviously thinks he has some special status that allows him to stereotype people and then complain about the group he has defined—-erroneously defined.

This month, just like in previous months, the sky is falling. This month it is democracy itself that is in danger of collapse. “[W]hat was once a model for democratic process for the world has been turned into a war zone between the ‘Reds’ and the ‘Blues’” Vern, I think the United States is still a very good example of democracy for the world. You are not getting your way and your are entitled to whine all you want (although I’m tired of it), but democracy is perfectly safe. Perhaps, Vern, you’ve not noticed, but our government is functioning. The “Reds” and the “Blues” may be at odds over some issues but they are arguing about those issues in Congress and fighting with words. They are not arguing in the streets and fighting with guns. Sir that is what I call Democracy at work. Perhaps you should step down from your ivory tower and review some American Government. All is well, we are not Iraq, or Iran, or Cuba, or China, or (fill in the blank with your choice of third-world country or dictatorship).

Actually what is happening in Congress is rather novel to the PC(USA) leadership. What we are having in Congress now is debate, something sadly lacking in the PC(USA). The best the PC(USA) can do is say well we kind of sorta got some guidance at the last General Assembly but really we just know best and don't need to bother you with anything.

Vern is also a little confused about who has the power and how it is being used. He certainly has not been watching or reading the same news I have. According the all-knowing Vernon Broyles,

The near absolute power now in the hands of the “Reds” has caused even leaders who once claimed to be “unifiers” and “healers of the divisions” to forget those commitments in the euphoria of their advantage; an advantage which has, in fact, strengthened the proud in the imagination of their hearts, secured the powerful on their thrones, lifted up the elite, filled the rich with even more good things and sent the hungry away empty.

I can just hear his smirks in his use of quotation marks. But let’s look at the facts, something Vernon seldom does. If the “Reds” are so powerful, why have more judges not been confirmed? Heck, why haven’t they even at least voted on them? The “Blues” remain quite powerful themselves is why and they are denying the American people the exercise of the democracy we fight for. And what’s with this rich stuff again? I’ll believe it a little more as soon as John Kerry, Teddy Kennedy, and the other rich liberals in Congress give up some of their money. This is more of Vernon’s bigotry easing in his argument as he leads one to believe that it is the “Reds” who are rich and elite.

I do agree with the last part of Vernon’s diatribe however. He says “we who claim to be Christian citizens, must say ‘No more!’” I’m with you brother! No more Democratic stall tactics that prevent Congress from doing what they were elected to do! No more interference from the Presbyterian elites in Louisville and Washington pretending to speak for the church against the war and against the Israelis!

Of course there is also another explanation for what is happening, an explanation given by Thomas Jefferson in a letter to John Adams: “Men of energy of character must have enemies; because there are two sides to every question, and taking one with decision, and acting on it with effect, those who take the other will of course be hostile in proportion as they feel that effect.”

And now I await next month’s issue of Presbyterians Today to see what nonsense Vernon Broyles is able to contrive.


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Dateline: Home Study

Am I the only one that is a little sad that we know who Dep Throat is now? I kind of enjoyed that mystery and got a kick out of the speculation. Now we know that it was the second in command at the FBI. The problem is that he is now too old really tell us anything about why he did it. If I can't have the whole story I'd rather have the mystery remain. Maybe Woodward will have something interesting in the Thursday Washington Post.

Deateline: Home Study

Two articles in today’s Washington Post really makes me question the ability of the news media to think critically. Is it the purpose of news organizations to merely present facts, or should they attempt to interpret them, is an age old question but the problem I have with the media is that they selectively interpret news. On some items they want us to believe they are offering insightful commentary but on others they just report the facts.

• U.S. Officials Condemn Hussein Photos by Josh White and Ellen Knickmeyer
• New Swedish Documents Illuminate CIA Action by Craig Whitlock

Somehow photos of Saddam in prison in his underwear get published and we are all supposed to be outraged over inhumane treatment. Okay, the photos should not have been released and the person responsible for giving them to the press should be found and punished. But, if as the WashPost argues, Iraqis seeing their former dictator in his underwear is so offensive, why then does the Post publish a picture of the newspaper with the photo on the cover? Are they stupid, hypocritical, or both? They then go on to claim that seeing Saddam in his underwear may incite more violence in Iraq because the body is sacred to Muslims and should not be seen uncovered in public.

I’m not going to argue about Islam or Muslims. They have a right to their own beliefs and I respect that. If they are offended by half-clothed people then so be it. My gripe is with the WashPost again. The photos were published in the Sun, a London newspaper, not an Iraqi or even Arab newspaper, so where is the offense? The counter argument would be that the Sun is an international paper and is read by people in Iraq. True, I agree with that argument. But I would also argue that the WashPost is an international paper that it too is read in Iraq. So, publishing the photo in the WashPost makes them as responsible (irresponsible?) as the Sun for publishing the photo. And if you really want to offend someone, look at the advertisement for South Moon Under on page C4 of the Post. Those half clothed women would be enough to really get some red blood boiling.

The greater question is, should we all have one standard for publishing to avoid offending anyone else or should we accept that Western papers exhibit Western values and Arab papers exhibit Arab values? Is diversity of ideas, values, and culture not what we all want? Never mind, the evidence is clear that Al Qaeda does not want that. But really, should the Sun, the Washington Post, the New York Times, or the Backwater Weekly worry about offending the values of someone on the other side of the world. I think not.

And if the Iraqis are offended by the “Saddam in his underwear” picture, they should never again check their email. Some of the spam email I have received, in living color, would surely give them all heart attacks.

The press problems continue in the article about the CIA helping Swedish officials transport terrorist prisoners to another country. The Swedes wanted to deport these terrorists to their home country for interrogation and solicited the CIA’s help in getting them out of the country before their judges could block the transfer. Well now they are upset the CIA came in wearing masks, cut the clothes off the prisoners, strip searched them, dressed them again, and then restrained them in the Gulfstream V aircraft for transport.

Where’s the problem here? Even the Swedes admit they were amazed at how quickly the CIA personnel removed the prisoners’ clothes, searched them, and had them dressed again. If the objective were to humiliate or degrade the prisoners then why would all of this be done so quickly? The Swedes had already told the CIA personnel that no one was at the airport and that their masks were unnecessary so, if humiliation were the name of the game, why not blindfold the prisoners and march them naked to the airplane? No one would see but it would certainly be humiliating. The Swedes also said the search was unnecessary because the prisoners had already been searched and were handcuffed.

We can believe, as the WashPost seems to want, that the CIA personnel were animals who were out to humiliate and trample as many human rights as possible, or we can believe a more plausible and reasonable explanation—the CIA was concerned about safety and security! Three months prior to this event, terrorists had passed through American, not Swedish, airport security and inspections then boarded large planes with hundreds of passengers. Once airborn the terrorists took control of the planes and flew them into buildings. Perhaps the CIA was concerned that their terrorists had explosives secreted on them somewhere and might attempt to blow up a plane. What’s that? Surely the Swedes would have found any explosives? Right. And you have faith in TSA as well, don’t you? After all, making those 75 year old ladies take off their shoes has those terrorists trembling with fear.

I am worried that we are becoming a nation in which we believe that flying planes into buildings and killing people is something we deserved because we try to help the world and that having a picture of someone in their underwear is a violation of human rights. I wonder, how many pictures of naked women do you think Saddam and his sons had in their rape palaces? And we are to be concerned that pictures published in a Western paper are offensive to Arab values? No, perhaps the problem is not with the pictures but it is with the radical, militant terrorists. After all, how else can you explain the fact that Muslims living in the West have not picked up arms in protest over the photo?


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Dateline: Home Study

Ann Coulter nails Newsweek and their highly sourced Koran abuse story. My, my, Newsweek biased? Never!

Still waiting for the cowardly editors to resign...

Dateline: Home Study

The Newsweek story continues and Whitaker continues to hide. In today’s Washington Post there was another story about other reports of Koran abuse from detainees. Come on guys, the detainees have every reason in the world to make up stuff. Why do we not take the word of every criminal who claims innocence as seriously as we do radical militants in Gitmo?

Whitaker claims he was out of town so he is apparently not responsible. From the WashPost:

In the case of the Koran item, Whitaker said, he saw a draft version on April 29, Friday, and raised no questions. The next day, which is the magazine’s deadline, the final draft would have been approved by Periscope editor Nancy Cooper. Whitaker said he did not see the final version because he was traveling on personal business. Managing Editor Jon Meacham was out of town for an interview and for the White House Correspondents Association dinner. Washington bureau chief Dan Klaidman said he was also involved in the editing.

What a lame-assed excuse! “But sir, I wasn’t actually at the Concentration Camp where the Jews were killed so I can’t be held responsible.” I think we’ve been down that road and found that “not being there” is “not an excuse”. Whitaker needs to step up and resign, but he won’t.

Dateline: Home Study

Newsweek today retracted last week's story about the military flushing a Koran down the toilet in Gitmo. Too little, too late. The media is so biased against the military that they were all too happy to belive this story so they ran with it. Now it looks like they didn't have their facts straight and didn't really bother to check too much. This is Dan Rather all over again.

The news media is all too quick to call for resignations an firings from the military perhaps Whitaker will step up to the plate, fire these reporters and then resign himself. The fact is he was in charge when the article was published and the protests which resulted from his magazine's artilce resulted in deaths. There is no excuse for such shoody work and an apology and retraction are not enough.

I, however, will not hold my breath for this happen. Look how long it took Rather to resign after his snafu. Of course Dan still says the article was true.

Some will say I am quick to judge Newsweek as being biased. Perhaps so but let's ask this question. Assume the allegations were true, what did Newsweek hope to gain from reporting the alleged incident? Riots and deaths? Or was it to merely try to shame the military? And, again assuming this incident had happened, what would Newsweek have reported had the soldier had long hair and the toilet was on a street in New York instead of at Gitmo? Why it would have been an expression of free speech then and possibly eligible for funding from the National Endowment for the Arts.

No, Whitaker and all responsible for this incident must go. It'll never happen.

For another take, which I agree with, check out Captain's Quarters.

Well, the fine administrators at the Oktibbeha County Hospital have once again shown their true colors. It angers me that this place continues to receive public support for it certainly is not concerned with people, only the bottom line. The Northeast Mississippi Journal reported today that the hospital was upset with a Tupelo, MS company that wanted to locate an MRI facility in Starkville to conduct joint research with Mississippi State University.

The truth of the problem came through in the second paragraph of the article:

Sonny Kelly, administrator at the hospital, said Premier Radiology's plans to use a high-tech magnetic resonance imaging machine will siphon high-paying customers from the hospital, putting its financial stability in question.
Notice the word customer? Not patient, not client, not taxpayer, but customer. The truth is OCH is only interested in making money but it should perhaps consider new leadership for that to happen.

Take the following: In a recent problem with I had with the hospital they let it slip that they give the insurance company about an 80% discount. It seems high to me. Of course this came to light after they billed me a year late after I had settled with insurance companies. When asked why it took so long I was told that it took a while to realize that the company they contracted with was not billing properly. Oh, and that I should have kept up with what I owed. I assure you, never in my wildest dreams would I have allowed for an 80% discount. Man do I feel for the poor people with no insurance!

Take their current expansion. There is a lot of construction going on at the hospital which again makes you wonder about the capabilities of their management. If allowing one MRI facility to locate in Starkville will cause such financial hardship on the hospital, should they be expanding facilities now?

Let's look at the Wellness Connection. Ostensibly it is their cardiac rehab facility but it is actually a gym. It competes directly with local gyms (or health clubs) in the area and it even competes with the recreational facility the University has. I don't recall anyone crying foul when it was built.

Take the case of the ophthalmologist who left town not long ago. When he opened his practice he was told that he could only sell eyeglasses to his patients, anyone with a prescription from another doctor would have to use an optometrist in town. That a deal the hospital cut to get him here without stepping on the toes of the optometrists in town. Hmmm, what about quality care? Is there a place for it here?

Am I off base with the profit motive here? Read on:

Kelly said the radiology company's customers will be top-paying patients who would otherwise get radiology work at the hospital.

"We will not support bringing in a private imaging company in our market," Kelly said. "They'll leave us the patients who can't pay or those on Medicaid."

Hospital revenue from radiology images helps offset the cost for patients who aren't able to afford medical care. The hospital is paid lower costs by Medicare and Medicaid patients.

"We have to generate enough revenue to take care of those who can't," Kelly said.

No, Kelly is clearly interested in making money. Well, I'm a red-blooded American and I'm all for making money too. So why not let Premier Radiology open a business here and compete? The truth is, Kelly is right, they would be left with nothing but the Medicaid patients and patients who can't pay; the people with the money would go to Premier Radiology. A leader, a true leader, would not be objecting to this move, he would be asking himself why he would be losing the business. Well I know the answer to that question--service.

Kelly wants his cake but he wants to eat it too. When times are tough he wants to be a public hospital and have the assurance of support by the tax payer. But when times are good he wants to make money to expand the facility and branch off into other fields, like health clubs. Perhaps he should install an optical shop too? Or maybe a health food store? And why not an oil change franchise too?

I hate it, but honestly, I believe there is a need for some new leadership at the hospital. I can only hope that Premier locates here and the hospital makes changes as a result. But in the meantime, the OCH administration will continue to cry foul, pout, and twist arms in closed-door meetings of boards. I really want to know what it was Kelly had to say about Premier that was so bad that he had to say it behind closed doors. It must have been good.


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Dateline: Residence Inn, Annapolis, MD

I worked this morning in the office for a little while and took care of some things but much more is piled up. Spent most of the morning on the phone talking to people about school and scholarships. I did get teh paperwork signed off on for classes this summer and next fall. Will do some dissertation hours this summer then two classes in the fall which should be fun. I've been told by a classmate that one of the classes will be fun and should be too tough given my background so that'll be nice.

Left Starkville wih dark clouds rolling in. I knew the flight would be cancelled but we took off early, flew fast, and even landed early. The climb to altitude was one of the best rides I've had yet--lots of bumps and jumps. Weather in Atlanta was nicer so we took off on time and arrived at BWI early. I picked up the car that was arrancged by the Navy at Thrifty (I never seem to rent from the same place twice in a row) and drove to the hotel in Annapolis.

Tomorrow we'll have meetings and a VTC, then perhaps some networking tomorrow evening and head home Sunday morning. A quick trip but I think we will get a lot accomplished.

Watching the news about the Pope now. He has certainly made an impact on the world which makes it silly when people email news shows with questions like "I'm not Catholic but do you think the Pope spoke for all Christians or just the Catholics?" Makes you wonder what planet this person grew up on. Does President Bush speak for the entire United States or just the Republicans? People are truly amazing!

Still nothing on fixing my DSL so it is looking like cable early next week. My ISP asked if they could have until Monday and I agreed. The thing is that it is not their problem, the problem is hardware which belongs to BellSouth and since I do not have them as my ISP they are not too inclined to help much. I really hate to change because I've been with this ISP for somthing like 8 or 9 years but, if I can't get what I need then it is time to change. Four weeks is a little long to deal with this problem and I am more frustrated than ever.

I read Just War Against Terror by Jean Elshtain for a report that was due last Thursday and am now going through the book again. I found it to be very interesting that an academic belives in the war (at least did when she wrote the book). She makes some interesting points that I find refreshing and I really liked the part about how academics seem to think they can only be against something. I also to read another book by her for the class and that should be good as well.

Now, its off to bed. I'll leave the computer on playing the new tunes I picked up in the Airport, Ultra Chilled 05 by the ellusive "various artists" and The Cosmic Game by Thievery Corporation. So far it sounds like nice chillin' music.

Tide Change in Iraq

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Looks like at least some Iraqis are tired of the terrorist. Could this be sign of change in Iraq? Oh to have the liberals in the Presbyterian Church have to eat their words! Of course they never will.

Iraqi Elections

The Iraqis held elections today and, according to Fox News, the turnout was about 60%. Not bad! The US, in a relative time of peace, only had a 60.7% voter turnout for the 2004 election and the last time prior to 2004 that we came close to 60% turnout was in 1968. This is certainly a turning point for Iraq.

There were some terrorists attacks but far fewer than were anticipated. Whether there number of attacks were down because of preparations taken by the US, coalition, and Iqaqi military or because the terrorist didn't try too many attacks in immaterial. The Iraqi people did not know a priori whether there would be a lot or a few attakcs yet they turned out to vote anyway. They took the risk to vote in their first legitimate elections.

I heard some recent complaints about Iraq and all I can assume is that there are some serious sour grapes out there that the Iraqi people are free. One of the most frequently heard statements I've heard is that elections do not make a democracy. Well, certainly, whoever said they did. It is true that having elections does not suddenly create a democracy but it is a step in the eright direction. And not having elections is a sure sign that you do not have a democracy.

Americans have also become extremely impatient and have forgotten their history (if in fact they ever knew it). The US began its fight for independence in 1776 yet it was not until 1789 that we had a functionng constitution. Why then are we so upset that the Iraqi is not up and fully functioning? While the US was drafting its constitution our Founding Fathers were not hampered by bombs and terrorists. Given the length of time the fight for Iraqi freedam has been going on, it is amazing that we are at this point so soon.

And now, would all the liberal naysayers, all of the Democrats who swore that elections would not take place on 30 January, please step forward. I would like for them to once and for all admit they were flat out ill-informed and wrong. They were merely giving their biased opinions basede more on their haterd of the President than on any information they had.

Now, don't get me wrong. I am not saying everything is over and rosy in Iraq. It isn't. The Iraqi people have a long, difficult road ahead of them. US and coalition forces will be in Iraq for many years to come. We still have forces in Korea afterall so we should expect an immediate withdrawal of forces.

The biggest step for Iraq is changing opinions and attitudes of their own people. That is going to be difficult and will take a long time. For guidance let's look closer to home for an example. After the Civil War was over, the slaves were free yet many chose to remain on the plantations as freemen. They remained there because they knew no other life and had no where else to go. The Iraqia know no other life than what they had under Saddam. It will take them a while to get used to doing things they could not do previously.

The Civil War also did not end racism. The Civil Rights Act was not passed until 1964 and there are still pockets of racism in the country. Fighting wars and passing laws does not change minds and hearts--that takes time. And the United States will be there for a great deal of that time.

There is much at stake with Iraq. This is not merely elections for Iraq and the begining of their freedom and independence, this is the beginging of democracy in the Middle East. Once Iraq is up and running and a little bit more stable, they will have a great influence on their neighbors. This is indeed a good day.

Boxer Hearings or Rice Confirmation?

I caught a good bit of the Condi Rice nomination hearings on C-SPAN the last two nights and got a kick out of Barbara Boxer. This liberal Democrat from California didn't even need to have Condi at the hearings. Boxer talked more than Rice, made more statements than asked questions, and in general was, I thought, ineffective.

From the hearings I learned that Boxer:

1) Is a liberal
2) Does not like Bush
3) Thinks Condi lied
4) Is a liberal
5) Is from California
6) Does not like the war in Iraq
7) Has all the answers if only someone would listen
8) Is a liberal

Other than that, ididn't get much out of her time on the tube. She voted against Condi even thought she thought was intelligent, qualified, and had the ability to do the job of Secretary of State. Of course she is a liberal so it is ideology and feelings that matter, not facts or reality.

The other kick I got out of the hearings was from Kerry. He has ideas on how to run things in Iraq and in the world in general. Rice was very nice and said she would like to discuss his ideas with him. Now this guy is really clueless. He has ideas, so what? We heard the same ideas during the election and, guess what, he LOST. The Aemrican people have spoken and they rejected him and his ideas. But he just doesn't get it. And neither does Boxer.

Oliver Stone made a stinker!

Dateline NAS Jacksonville

I read in The Florida Times-Union today that Oliver Stone is surprised over how poorly his movie Alexander has performed at the box office. In speaking to the British Press he blamed the critical reception of his movie on the fundamentalist morality in parts of the country. He then showed his true colors when he said “They didn’t even read the reviews in the South because the media was using the words, ‘Alex the gay’.”

Well Mr. Stone, I live in the South and I never once saw your movie referred to as “Alex the gay” and I did read reviews. The reviews I read were not in Southern papers but on the internet and in national papers. Guess what? They consistently said your movie sucked! That’s right! The precious Oliver Stone who never hesitates to put his opinion before truth made a bad movie. I heard it was poorly acted, poorly directed, poorly made, and was so far from being historically accurate that it was impossible to watch. So, I chose to not see your movie because the reviews said it was bad. Perhaps instead of complaining about fundamentalist morality you could focus on making good movies.

The Other Side of the Story

Recevied this via email today. Interesting in that it gives another side of the story not often mention in the mainstream press. It also ahs some interesting lesson from an organizational behavior point of view. Not sure of the author, no name was given in the message I received, but it doesn't really matter.

Subject: Happy New Year
Date: Sat, 1 Jan 2005

Greetings from a cold and, I hope for tomorrow anyway, snowy Kabul. It's Christmas Eve 2004 and I, along with about 70 other State Department employees and some 24,000 US and Coalition forces are getting ready to celebrate the Birth of Christ in the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan!

When we read news reports from the States about the growing controversy over the very name of this Holiday, we all have to laugh. Here, in an Islamic State, Americans are allowed to put up Christmas decorations, sing Christmas carols and celebrate Christmas without fear that the Afghan version of the ACLU will demand that we call them "Holiday decorations" or force us to deny the existence of Santa Claus.

My Afghan friends, who universally wish me "Merry Christmas", just shake their heads when they read stories about a Virginia 7th grader who was asked to leave a school dance for wearing a Santa Claus outfit! So those of us here in an Islamic state will just keep talking about Christmas while you in the States choose you words carefully to make certain the no hint of "Christmas" escape your lips in a public place.

So how goes our effort in this land of high mountains, deep valleys and harsh plains? I think the sight of three PR guys copying and stapling reports at 11:00 PM provide a microcosm of what is happening in Afghanistan. December has provided a perfect picture of what is going right in Afghanistan and also, sadly, on what could possibly cause the country to revert back to its old terrible days as a one of the world's poorest and most backwards nations.

The good we hope, to paraphrase The Bard, oft-times outlives the bad, so let's start with the good. On ! Tuesday, December 7, Hamid Karzai was sworn in as Afghanistan's first freely elected President after receiving more than 55% of the vote of the both the men and, for the very first time, the women of Afghanistan in the October 9 national election. Both the election and the inauguration, each of which were threatened with violent, terrorist acts by remnants of the Taliban and Al Qaeda took place without any real disruptions. That they did were tributes both to the Afghan people and the many members of the "international" community that came to Afghanistan and paid a price in both gold and blood to keep to free the country and its people from more than 25 years of war and repression.

I think any of us who have been in Afghanistan as the events of the last few months have unfolded, the election, the successful conclusion of the UN kidnappings and the violence-free Presidential Inauguration, and this week's announcement of a cabinet that reflects all elements of Afghan society, including women, are pleased at how the people of Afghanistan have taken the opportunity given to them by the US and Coalition forces and made great strides in building a free and functioning society,

As I walk and drive the streets of Kabul, Mazur-al-Sharif, or Bagram, you can sense the renewed energy and drive as more and more Afghans open new businesses from the insides of dilapidated shipping containers selling everything from old car bumpers to freshly butchered sheep and goats. Traffic dominated by drivers who acknowledge no traffic laws including one-way streets, center dividers or sidewalks, rivals Bicycle Coalition Fridays in San Francisco as more and more people find work and make the terrifying commute each day. All these are elements of a burgeoning economic sector and the benefit of the decision of the Afghan government to adopt a free-market philosophy to business growth. All this bodes well for the future of Afghanistan.

However, what could put a stop to the growth, which if it increases by double-digits each of the next ten years will still only result in an average per capita income of $500 by 2105, is the complete lack of ability or desire to plan and the almost preternatural belief in the phase "Inshallah" or "If God Wills it." Going to an Afghan business meeting is almost like a trip to a nursery school. Every man at the meetings is willing, welcomed and involved in the discussion.

In fact, most times too many are too involved to get anything done. One of the amazing factors in an Afghan meeting is the sheer number of attendees. I've been to meetings where there were more than 20 Afghans in attendance, most of whom had nothing to do with what was under consideration. When you add to the mix the tea and sweet servers and the constant ringing of cell phones, (apparently it is an Afghan custom to answer every cell phone call and never to turn it off in a meeting,) it is extremely difficult to stay on subject and get anything accomplished. When combined with the lack of an agenda and no attempt at assigning responsibilities it is pretty easy to see why things don't get done very efficiently.

The other factor that contributes to the incredible inefficiency is the notion among most Afghans that saying "No" is not acceptable, even if one has no intention of doing what is asked. For instance, as we were planning a recent National Counter Narcotics Conference, we asked our Afghan colleagues about supplying busses for the participants to go to lunch. For two weeks we were told "no problem," though no one would acknowledge who, actually, would supply the buses. Not surprisingly, one-hour before lunch none had appeared.

That's when I took over as the "interim" Minister of Buses and Transport and conducted a full and frank discussion with an Afghan official that led to two things happening. The buses miraculously appeared and I was threatened, for the third time in my life, to be declared persona non grate in a sovereign nation. (I don't think anyone with any knowledge of the real situation would call my leaving Guyana abruptly the "third time." I'm only counting Saudi Arabia and Nigeria.)

The other situation we see is the lack of real desire to get things done, back to that "Inshallah" mind set. And that's were the example of the three PR guys copying and stapling at 1100 PM comes into play. The night before the afore-mentioned Counter narcotics conference at which the newly-inaugurated President was to speak, my two colleagues, one US and one UK, all of whom are fairly senior in our posts, were frantically copying and stapling Dari and Pashto versions of the next day's programs. (We had done the English version earlier.) We were doing this mundane labor because our Afghan colleagues had not finished the translations until late and, this is the essence of my concern, had no intention of sticking around or working late into the night to make certain that the material was ready for the next morning's event. So it was left to three Western guys to make certain the work was finished. (Some of you may be wondering why one of the crack State department admin assistants wasn't able to help us. The State admins I have worked with, for the most part, should all have tattooed on the forehead "Don't even think about asking me to do something, I only have 13 more years to retirement." But that's a story for another time.)

What is troubling about the Afghan attitude is the sense that someone else should do the work. Or that some work is beneath them. I notice the syndrome late in the evening when most of the Embassy folks, though not the admins, are working and not a single Afghan is around. It gives one pause, and also, says a great deal about! why the US and Western civilization are where they are and why Afghan, and other 3rd World countries are the way they are. As a noted social commentator and Combat Speechwriter says, "Countries are poor, dysfunctional and poverty stricken for a reason."

I am finishing this missive on New Years Eve 2004. Since I've been flat on my back for the past five days with a form of what is commonly called the "Kabul Krud" my celebration of the New Year will be severely limited. A bit of dinner in the mess hall with a few friends, followed by a dose of Ny-Quill, the best friend an American can have in Afghanistan. It's a snowy, windy night with more bad weather in the forecast. Nonetheless, looking back at the past year I think the pluses in Afghanistan far outweigh the minuses.

Three years ago the United States of America led a coalition of forces to free 26 million people from a cruel and oppressive regime that killed and torture! d with impunity. This year that sacrifice paid off when a President was freely elected and, in front of panoply of world leaders, was inaugurated. We should all be proud that we as a Nation had the courage to take action when action was needed. We should also look forward to January when Palestinians, under Israeli occupation, and Iraqis, under US and coalition occupation, become the first two Arab peoples to hold free elections.

Let's hope that when the newly-elected leader of Iraq is sworn in he remembers the words of President Hamid Karzai upon his Inauguration on December 7, 2004, words, by the way, were never printed in most major American newspapers "Whatever we have achieved in Afghanistan--the peace, the election, the reconstruction, the life that the Afghans are living today in peace, the children going to school, the businesses, the fact that Afghanistan is again a respected member of the international community--is from the help that the United States of America gave us. Without that help Afghanistan would be in the hands of terrorists--destroyed, poverty-stricken, and without its children going to school or getting an education. We are very, very grateful, to put it in the simple words that we know, to the people of the United States of America for bringing us this day."

Happy New Year

I particularly like the Christmas comments. It seems a new democracy is more tolerant of a religious holiday than is an older democracy. I know my liberal friends will scream separation of church and state on this issue but lets look at the facts. Afghanistan is a long standing theocracy, and not just any theocracy but one that is very strict in how religion is handled. They potentially have much more to lose by openly allowing the celebration of Christian holidays than does the United States yet look at who is more concerned about Christmas. If it were so sad, it would be funny.

Responsible Giving?

Presbyterians Today arrrived in my mailbox and my blood pressure rose shortly thereafter. This issue is focued on investing with an eye towards social responsibility. Nice article but extremely left. Of course anyone doing business is bad, anyone who works for war is bad, we all need to make the workld one big happy place where, in the words of Rodney Knog, we just all get along.

The article listed some investment options but left off the most important one--US Savings Bonds. They are safe, decent return, insured, and most of all, they support the United States Government and its military which is the only organization willing to try to fix things in the Middle East. If you want to move closer to peace, invest in the US.

And the South is Supposed to be Racist?

It seems the southern part of the United States is owed an apology. Apparently the real racists live in the North, in Madison, WI to be exact. Some nit wit by the name of "Sly" apparently thinks it funny to call Condoleezza Rice "Aunt Jemimah". A news article on this absurdity is here.

Reading Sly's Bio, it is obvious that is a loud-mouthed troublemaker who is apparently one of those Democrats who continues to divide the country. As the article states, he also referred to Colin Powell as "Uncle Tom". First it is sad that there are such ignorant people still around after all of these years; second that they are "up North"; third that he still has a job at the radio station; and fourth that the station management lacks the courage to do what is right and fire this guy's racist butt.

It seems the Mayor and Senator Feingold have rejected the statements yet the NAACP can not yet comment until they hear the comments in their entirety. Give me a break? The NAACP can't comment on a black female being called Aunt Jemimah!? Had Bubba from Alabama made the statement I have no doubt the NAACP would have had an immediate comment.

What has happened to leaders in today's society? Granted most of them are in Iraq at the moment but surely there are a few left who can fill the leadership vacuum at WTDY in Madison, WI.

It appears from news reprots that President Bush will nominate Condoleezza Rice to replace Colin Powell as Secretary of State. Personally I'm a big fan of Condi's and think she will make an excellent SecState. But I will watch with interest to see how the PC(USA) reacts.

Way back in the election of 2000, it was made public that Condi was a memebr of the PC(USA) although to read official PCUSA pubs you'd never know it. I've wrriten Presbyterians Today, the flagship PC(USA) pub, and been told that it is just too difficult to get an interview with her. Over the last four years, they've never been able to get an interview with her! Well, with all the overtures against Israel and fighting over homosexual ordination, I can wee why.

What concerns me most is that Condi could be a great asset to attract new members to the church. Our outrageously liberal leadership in Louisville, KY claim to be concerned that we do not have many African-American members. They claim that as Christians we should take action to seek social reform. But when presented with an African-American female committed to social reform who is a Christian and a member of the Presbyterian Church, they seem to be blind.

The truth is, and I would love my friend Vernon Broyles to counter, the PC(USA) is afraid and/or embarassed to admit that the PC(USA) can have an African-American female as a member who is both conservtive and Republican. It has to be a complete embarrassemtn to the likes of the left-leaning stated clerk Clifton Kirkpatrick that Condi is having a greater impact on the world than he is.

I love it. Condi is making the world safer for all of us. The PC(USA) is making the world safer for terrorist. Condi is interested in getting peace in the Middle East, the PC(USA) is interested in giving the ranch away to the Palestinians and sticking it to the Israelies at the same time. Condi is practicing Christianity, Kirkpatrick and Broyles are practicing liberalism. Yes, I know that is strong, but if Vern can essentially question my Christianity because I voted for Bush, I can question his because he is a liberal.

These are happy days for me. It looks like Condi will be Secretary of State and the PC(USA) will be spinning up the propoganda machine to ignore, or possibily even refute, the fact that she is a Presbyterian. Once again, I'll wait for the Layman to come out with the story.

I recevied the latest issue of Presbyterians Today this morning and had to see what the leftist Veronon Broyles had to say. I must admit, he did not disappoint. Broyles writes a regular column for the magazine called The Church in Society. However, he seems only able to discuss politics making me wish he would rename it The Church in Politics, or be completely honest and title it Reasons Why Bush and America are Wrong and Vernon Broyles is Right. I've emailed the man before and he is unwilling to listen to reason and seems a little on the cocky side (coming from me, that says a lot!)

This month's column whines about the Are you safer now than you were before 9-11? question. Broyles pretens to give the pro and con arguments of the question and does neither side justice. He also never answers the question. By the way Vern, Yes, I do feel safer today thanks to the efforts of Gerogre W. Bush and our Soldiers, Sailors (of which I am one), Marines, and Airmen. i might add I feel safer in spite of all my church has done to undermine our country's President and the war of terrorism.

Broyles does make a good argument, namely that the question should be are we afraid of dying and are we confident in our faith but his liberalsim even gets in the way of this argument. He states "No president, no military force, no intelligence system can save us from any of these. In the final analysis, our only hope is our confidence in the God who made us, the Christ who redeemed us from death, and the Holy Spirit who is present to comfort us." He is absolutely right but what does the "Do you feel safer" question have to do with this argument? I am confident in my faith and am not afraid of dying, however, I still wear my seatbelt, I do not juggle with sharp knives, and I still look both ways before I cross a street. Is Broyles tryingto say we should not be fighting the war of terrorism? Given his other articles, I think he is.

I love the Presbyterian Church, I really do, but each day I give thanks that our country has leadership willing to make the tought choices and do the hard things; something the leadership of the PC(USA) is not willing to do.

Eleven states in this wonderful country have overwhelmingly vote to ban gay marriage. Even in the outrageously liberal Oregon the measure passed. So, I predict that it is only a matter of time before the PCUSA, specifically the left-wing radical Vernon Broyles, comes out with publications telling Americans that they are godless for voting in such a way.

The PCUSA and its liberal leadership seem incapable of accepting that to many Americans, including their members, morals matter. It is not about being politically correct, it is about voting you conscience. Unless there is a change in leadership in Louisville, the loss of members will continue.

Do Dems Care About the Popular Vote?

In 2000 the mantra of the Democrats was that Gore won the popular vote and threfore Bush was an illegitimate president. Well now it looks like Bush is a clear winner of the popular vote but Kerry and his gang are willing to fight for every last electoral vote in hopes that they can have an illegimate president. Not only is Kerry a filp-flopper, it seems the national Democratic party is as well.

Bush Wins Ohio

Fox News just said Bush wins Ohio and not long ago gave him Florida. looks like the Democrats are going to lose and America may well have been spared four years of Kerry and the billionairess. Could it be that Americans actually care about principles?

Now, let the legal filings begin. I find it interestig that I recevied email several weeks ago from Democrats asking for money to fund the legal challenge to the election. It was many days after I received this funding request that I got word from the Republicans asking for money to support the defense.

And Florida? Well, they still can't get their act together in the southern part of the state. I believe the election commission there is democratically controlled which means,according to Democrats, that this is all the fault of Jeb Bush. Go figure?


Go vote! If have already, thanks. If you have not, get to the polls. I heard some youngster the other day refer to her God-given right to vote on the television. I wish I had been to there to correct her. Her right to vote is due to the fact that men and women in this country have given their lives for that right. I think God certainly played a role in that fight but if voting were a God-given right, our armed forces would not be in Iraq fighting for the Iraqi's right to a legitimate vote.

I awoke this morning to the sounds of the clock radio set Public Radio in Mississippi. It has become a habit of keeping it on the same station so that I wake up every morning to the sounds of National Public Radio's Morning Sedition, I mean Morning Edition. It usually gets my blood boiling before I ever make it to the shower.

This morning the sound was different. Instead of the usual people at NPR talking, most of the talking was being done by the locals in Jackson. You see, it is Drive Time yet again. It was not too long ago that fundraising was done only once a year but now it seems to be a nearly continuous process. I used to give money, back in the good ole days, but I don't anymore. As part of past budget cuts, they eliminated most of what I really liked to hear, namely the new age "space music" they used to play on Sunday nights. My wife and I used to fall to sleep listening to that most every Sunday night.

Now, they mainly have news and classical music. I like classical music as much as the next guy, okay, maybe more than the next guy given how little the next guy likes classical music, but have more choices available to me now. The news is incredibly biased (to the left that is) but I can usually cut through the bias and see the real story, particularly when I compare it with news from other sources.

But as I listened to the pleas for money, I thought yet again about why do we even have public radio, or public television for that matter, anymore? Not too many years ago, I would not have made this argument, but now, with the myriad of options available, why do we need a public subsidized radio and television network?

If I want to listen to the radio, I have Sirius. One of the individuals they played this morning talked about public radio was all she could get in her part of the country. Well with Sirius she would have her choice of some 120 channels to choose from, all in digital quality with the same signal strength. And the cost, about what the public radio guys would like you to give them. Now let me see, send my money to Jackson for one station, with only one source of news, available only in this state, and they don't even play all the music I like? Or, send the money to Sirius, get my choice of over 100 stations, more news and talk than I can listen to, available wherever I travel, with digital quality? Sirius will win every time. Perhaps we should have the government cancel public radio support and subsidize Sirius.

Public television has gone much the same route. They used to lay claim to educational programming but there is more educational programming on cable and satellite now than you can imagine. I used to enjoy some of the shows produced by public television but in the last five years or longer, they have been outdone by the likes of Arts & Entertainment, The Discovery Channel, The History Channel, The National Geographic Channel, The Learning Channel, etc.

Do you get my point? There was a time when public radio and public television offered real alternatives and filled niches that were not being filled elsewhere. Now, the private sector has taken hold and produces programming that is greater in volume and in quality than that done by public broadcasting. Does the government still have a niche to fill or should it now step aside and let the free market take over? The argument used a decade ago that educational programming would go away without public broadcasting has obviously been proven false. It is thriving in the free market.

The PC(USA) in general and Vernon Broyles in particular, still don't get it. In his latest left-wing rant in the October 2004 issue of Presbyterians Today, Broyles once again tackles the topic of . The main point of the article, from my reading Divestment and Israel, was that the media got it all wrong when they reported that the PC(USA)was going to immediately divestment all of its holdings in Israel. As I've mentioned earlier, even if that were the case, I doubt seriously Israel would feel a thing giving the drastically declining membership of the PC(USA).

Broyles, in an apparent attempt to make us feel better, says that in actuality the PC(USA) only voted for a selective divestment in Israel. Now they are calling it a "Selective, Phased Divestment Process". It seems to me, and this Op-Ed piece by Broyles, seems to be an attempt by the PC(USA) to backtrack on their decision. They still don't get it.

Whether it is a selective or full divestment, some of us just don't care; any divestment in protest is too much. The PC(USA) is not so much interested in solving the problems as they are in making themselves feel better. Boycotts simply do not work. Sure, we can point to South Africa and Apartheid, but was it the boycott or world opinion that resulted in changes there. How long did we have embargoes on Iraq? And what was their impact? What about Libya? Are we to believe that about the time the US and a few dozen of its closest friends kicks some Iraqi butt Libya realizes that it has suffered enough economic damage and caves in? Or does it make more sense to believe that Libya caved because they realized they just might be next? Bleeding heart Broyles would likely say they were afraid of a boycott by the PC(USA) or the World Council of Churches.

No, Broyles, like many of the PC(USA) elite, just don't get it. The security wall has resulted in fewer terrorist attacks in Israel. Fewer radicals waling into shopping and blowing themselves up appears to me to be a good thing. But when you take the anti-Semitic view as Broyles does what else can you expect?

I seem to recall not too many years ago, a summit with President Clinton and Palestine and Israel. Depending on whom you listen to and believe, Arafat stood to gain 90 to 95% of what he wanted. Not everything, but a large portion of it. He refused. So what does Vern say, why he calls Israel intransigent. But he's not biased.

Broyles also claims in his article that the Israeli Supreme Court ruled the wall was illegal. He is taking after his hero Dan Rather on this one. The august International Court of Justice has ruled the wall was illegal (who would expect otherwise) but the Israeli Supreme court merely ruled that a portion of the wall was infringing on some land and needed to be re-routed. They in fact found the wall was legal. And Israel complied with the ruling and re-routed the wall in the area addressed by the court.

I must compliment Broyles on his consistency however; he is consistently liberal and consistently wrong.

Rather Lied!

Well it certainly took long enough, but now Rather admits the documents were fake. CBS, as if we can trust them, has launched an investigation to find out how this happened. Well, it seems pretty simple to me. Rather is biased, something that has been known for a while, and he and the liberals at CBS were more than willing to jump on a story they wanted to believe.

In his questioning of the Bush-baskher who provided the documents, Rather asked how they could trust what he said..

Rather: "You, you lie, you"

Burkett: "yes, I did."

Rather:: "You lied to us. Why would I, or anyone, believe that you wouldn't mislead us about something else?"

Burkett: "I could understand that question. I can't. That's gonna have to be your judgment and anybody else's."

Burkett still insists the documents are real, but says he was in no position to verify them.

Burkett: "I also insisted when I sat down with your staff in the first face-to-face session, before I gave up any documents, I wanted to know what you were gonna do with them. And I insisted they be authenticated."

Well, Mr. Rather, I ask, how can we trust you or CBS?

CBS and Dan Rather

Danny Boy has got to go. This last week's embarrassment to the entire profession of journalism is worse than Peter Arnett's phony Baby Milk Factory new cast from DESERT STORM. Dan just won't give up his personal opinions for the sake of his career. A news reporter has nothing but their skill, integrity, and impartiality. Last week Dan demonstrated he has none of the three remaining.

The documents are now obviously fake, something that was obvious to many a long time ago. One of the principals has since come out and said the feelings attributed to him were not true, but because he is a Bush cupporter, we have to discount him (according to the ethics of CBS News). Other problems with the documents seem to be so obvious that anyone with half a brain could have seen them before consulting any experts.

Dan's integrity is also shot. Not only did he rush to judgment, he is now willing to back off the report. The controversy alone is enough to result in an apology. Danny Boy needs to say he is sorry, that the report was obviously made too early to be sure of the facts, and that he will continue with the investigation and let us know what he finds in a few weeks. He won't because he has not integrity left.

The 2000 election covereage was the last straw for Rather's umpartiality. His obvious personal joy and sadness, all expressed in the same night, show he was a Democrat (surprise! surprise!) pulling for Gore. Now how we take someone with such obvious bias as a serious reporter.

Dan may have been a good reporter in years gone by but his days are over. CNN fired Peter Arnett, CBS should get rid of Dan. He's got this time in, let hom retire and move on with the rest of his life. The world will be a safer place without him on the air.

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