Saturday, September 11, 2010

My thoughts on September 11

Today, on the anniversary of 9/11, I was lucky enough to participate in one of my favorite activities - flag waving on Freedom Bridge. Freedom Bridge, for those that don't know about it, is the overpass that leads into Fort Lewis, near Camp Murray. A wonderful group of people, known as the Bridge People Regulars, have made a showing every Saturday since 2003, rain or shine or snow or wind, to wave Old Glory and to say thank you to our troops and their families as they drive by.

My family started going in November of 2007 and for a long time we went every Saturday as well. I prioritized it above every other activity I did. At the time I wasn't involved in politics at all. In fact, I guess Freedom Bridge was my first foray into, not necessarily politics because we keep it apolitical and nonpartisan on the bridge, but expression of ideas in a public forum. I stopped going regularly as all of the political and tea party stuff started taking up more and more of my time. So it was such an honor to be back there today to say thanks to our men and women in the military, and to see old friends and smile with them, particularly on a day like today, September 11.

That bridge is possibly the most hopeful place I have ever stood. There is an energy that is palpable, especially when my fellow bridge people are there with me. To stand there, unashamedly, holding an American flag, looking soldiers in the eyes as they drive past, yelling thank you to them, fills my heart with such happiness and love. It's so hard to explain until you've been there. I jokingly call it "patriot crack" because once you start going, you need to get your fix pretty regularly. There's nothing like a jolt of hope and love for your country to brighten your day and to clear away the cynicism that politics inevitably brings into your life.

On the way home, I was thinking about politics and how it relates to the experience of Freedom Bridge on 9/11. It reminded me that although I think my political opponents - liberals, progressives, social democrats, etc. - are totally and completely wrong about policy, they are still Americans. They are not, in any way, shape, or form, similar to the radical Islamic terrorists that perpetrated the attacks on 9/11. And I think that we need reminders of things like that more often, especially as we move into a fierce election season. For all of (what I consider to be) their misguided ideas, liberals are not mass murderers; they're not terrorists; they're not evil. Remembering these seemingly obvious facts lifts a weight off of my shoulders because all of a sudden, I'm not fighting against evil, genocidal, killers; I'm fighting against fellow Americans who have a different idea about the right balance of government vs. free enterprise.

It's good to remember this. I hope that some of the liberals out there had an opportunity for self-reflection today and maybe came to these same conclusions because, honestly, I'm really tired of being called a racist; a bigot; a domestic terrorist wannabe; a cruel person with no heart who wants all poor people to die; a fascist; etc. Can we come to the table and assume the best about each other until facts dictate otherwise? This isn't to say we won't be passionate and that we won't argue. This isn't to say that I won't claim that progressivism is philosophically flawed, or that I believe it leads to great suffering and is inherently unjust - the difference being that I don't believe that people who call themselves progressives are seeking great suffering or injustice. Those are two hugely different concepts. Make sense? (Similarly, this isn't to say that progressives won't throw those same accusations back at me, hopefully with the caveat that they don't actually believe that I want horrible things to happen, even if they think my ideas will lead to bad things.)

It means that I will make an effort to assume that the heart and the character of the people I clash with are basically good. It means that I will not assume they have hate in their heart.

Can the liberals reading this join me in this effort? I hope so, because we need to stand together as one, unified people against radicals who seek to destroy our way of life, and life itself, simply because we don't live like them.

Lastly, I know that I fight for ideas that I believe provide the best framework for individual liberty, prosperity, freedom, hope, and love. I believe that those ideals are timeless human desires that span generations and centuries, and that cannot be snuffed out. There is an eternal fight for freedom, and for the laws and systems that best achieve that freedom. I will tirelessly fight people who hold ideas that I think threaten freedom - it doesn't mean I think those people hate freedom - but I will fight them, goodhearted though they may be, until I cannot fight anymore.

I'm going to repost Doctor Zero's article about the meaning of the American flag. As always, he writes so beautifully about the power of the American flag and how no matter what people do to it, they can never destroy it. Also be sure click on over to Ace of Spades where they've posted tons of video from CNN's coverage of 9/11. Watch it again so that you don't forget what happened. It was really awful. (Understatement of the century.)

In memory of everyone who died on 9/11 and the soldiers who lost their lives in the ensuing battles: May you rest in peace. And to our men and women across the globe who have been injured, or made other sacrifices so that I can sit at home, blogging: my eternal gratitude and love to you all.

By Doctor Zero

An odd little church in Florida touched off a global controversy by threatening to burn a Koran on September 11. They announced the burning had been postponed, but there have already been riots in Indonesia, and injuries in Afghanistan. Naturally, these riots have been accompanied by the burning of American flags. When rage and hatred blaze in the dark corners of the Earth, the symbol of American freedom is usually the first thing to catch fire.

American flags were burned on September 11, 2001 as well. They dissolved into ash while Palestinians danced around them, singing and passing out candy to celebrate the fall of the Twin Towers. They were vaporized in the blasts of superheated jet fuel that ripped through the corridors of those towers, and the Pentagon. They melted on the shoulders of heroic firefighters who ran into a million tons of cascading rubble and never came back.

That grand old American flag has seen her share of abuse. The sight of her riding the winds of dawn, her beauty unspoiled by a night of cannon fire, inspired the poetry which became our national anthem. She was made to march along the Trail of Tears, where brave men died of exhaustion in her shadow. She was carried into battle against her own sons, and drifted sadly over ground soaked with their blood at Shiloh, Antietam, and Gettysburg. She greeted the morning of December 7, 1941 above the decks of eighteen doomed ships, warmed by their last gorgeous Hawaiian sunrise. She was burned and spat upon as an insult to the men who carried her honor into the jungles of Vietnam.

And yet, the American flag has never been desecrated.

She is the symbol of a unique nation: born in the defiance of tyranny, baptized in the destruction of slavery, and coming of age when it rescued the world from genocidal evil. Those who destroy our flag earn nothing but our contempt. They abuse their freedom of speech to level such an insult… but if you embrace the freedom to perform only virtuous deeds, you will soon find that what you’re holding isn’t “freedom” at all, as the arbiters of “virtue” lay their heavy hands upon your shoulder.

Anyone who seeks to desecrate the Stars and Stripes, on either foreign or domestic soil, is a fool. The power of that flag is far beyond their reach. It is a flame that warmed the freezing waters of the Delaware, as George Washington and his force of starving yeomen brought defeat to the invincible British army. It was raised above the bloody rocks of Iwo Jima by men who would have acted no differently if they had known half of them would be dead within a matter of weeks, resting beside seven thousand of their brother Marines. Our flag rose again above the rubble of the World Trade Center, in the hands of firemen who spent the day pulling survivors from the burning dust. They wanted to do something for all the people they couldn’t save… a gesture of enduring love, and defiance of the sickening evil that tore them from their loved ones.

The image of those firemen and their flag passed through the lens of photographer Thomas Franklin, and into eternity. The blood of liberty is made from the remembrance of such moments. Franklin would later say, “This was an important shot. It told more than just death and destruction. It said something to me about the strength of the American people and of these firemen having to battle the unimaginable.”

That’s what America is: a never-ending battle against the unimaginable.

No cretin with a cigarette lighter can touch the compassion and courage woven into the cloth those firemen raised above Ground Zero. Burn that flag and prove you are a savage, or a spoiled brat. Spit upon it and soil yourself. Stamp it beneath your feet, and diminish. You might as well try to extinguish the Sun. Instead of protecting your symbols with promises of destruction and murder, think about what makes the American flag untouchable, and be elevated.

No nation has ever loved the whole of mankind as much as the United States of America. Our fallen soldiers lie in every corner of the Earth as proof. Love is patient, and love is kind. We forgive the world its trespasses. On September 11th, we ask its patience and kindness, as we recall the day unimaginable evil descended upon New York and Washington, and we once more took up the burden of doing battle with it.



Friday, September 10, 2010

Two great videos for your viewing pleasure - and Doug Cloud's campaign kickoff!

Just a couple of videos I wanted to share today.

Tea Party Across America




Norm Dicks = Money Pit




Doug Cloud is having a campaign kickoff BBQ on Sunday, September 12!
Where: 265 3rd Ave Fi, Fox Island, WA 98333
Time: 2:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m.

Be sure to visit his website and sign up for his newsletters so you can stay up to date on his campaign to CLEAN HOUSE!!

Happy Friday!

Illinois Counties Splurge on Lobbying: Millions of taxpayer dollars chasing bigger government

Press release from Sunshine Review

Alexandria, VA— Unbeknownst to most taxpayers, Illinois counties are lavishing millions of public dollars on lobbyists to increase the size and scope of government according to an exclusive analysis by Sunshine Review, an independent, non-profit organization dedicated to transparency.

Because transparency laws frequently do not require disclosure of taxpayer-funded lobbying, Sunshine Review compiled data from Freedom of Information requests for the 10 largest counties in Illinois. The report revealed a whopping $6.2 million in lobbying expenses incurred by the counties between 2005 and 2010. Payments were funneled into 31 individual lobbying contracts and membership in 64 lobbying groups with the express purpose of influencing the Legislature and federal government to increase counties’ revenues—and thus grow the counties’ budgets and powers.

"This practice packs a double whammy for taxpayers who must first pay the lobbyists fees and then pay again in the form of higher taxes for the lobbyists "success" in increasing spending and growing government," said Michael Barnhart, president of Sunshine Review.

The 10 counties splurged $2 million on lobbying the Illinois State Legislature. DuPage County spent the most overall, with a total exceeding $1.8 million, while Will County reported $1.2 million in lobbying payments. Spending by county is as follows:


For more information, visit www.sunshinereview.org.

Contact
Diana Lopez
Senior Editor of Government Lobbying
Dlopez@sunshinereview.org
P: 630-392-1226

Sunshine Review is dedicated to state and local government transparency. The Sunshine Review wiki collects and shares transparency information, and uses a “10-point Transparency Checklist” to evaluate the Web site content of every state and more than 5,000 local governments.

***

Unbelievable, eh? They spend our tax dollars to lobby for bigger, more intrusive government in order to spend an ever-larger portion of our tax dollars. Crazy.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Campaign Promises or Real Reform?

Cross-posted at State Budget Solutions

Bloomberg Business Week reports that Oregon's Democratic candidate for Governor, John Kitzhaber, is promising to get tough on public employee compensation if he is elected. The Republican candidate, Chris Dudley, is pledging to do the same.

Both candidates are insisting that they will renegotiate with public employee unions in order to rein in spiraling, out-of-control costs, and while both are demurring when it comes to details, Dudley has at least put forth a few specifics about concessions he expects from state workers. A lack of specificity at this stage in the election season is troubling, especially so with Kitzhaber as he is fully supported by the public employee unions. How can taxpayers be sure that Kitzhaber won't betray them in order to satisfy his union base when push comes to shove?

Dudley argues that Kitzhaber's rhetoric and proposals display a "timidity" that will inevitably fall short of real reform. Again, due to his relationship with the unions, for constituents to take Kitzhaber seriously he must lay out concrete specifics about concessions he expects unions to make, and how he plans to reform the system in order to ensure its sustainability and longevity. Dudley should also make more concrete proposals, in addition to the ones he has already announced. Though, there seems to be more cushion around Dudley since he is not backed by the very people with whom he will have to negotiate and fight.

The other reason that a Kitzhaber administration does not seem hopeful to those that are working towards real budget reform (including public employee compensation reform) is this last sentence:

Kitzhaber's budget proposals said that over the next decade the state has to emphasize spending that prevents social ills, such as addiction and crime.

Huh? Oregon has a $577 million predicted shortfall in 2011 (though some estimates put the shortfall at over $1 billion!) and Kitzhaber's budget priorities will be spending that prevents social ills?

Look, Oregon voters need to step up to the plate now, before either of these men are elected, and demand some specifics about budget and pension reform. If voters do not get clear answers and pledges now, it will be that much harder to hold these men accountable after the election. Make them read about reality-based budgeting and ask them to pledge to implement it if elected. Force both candidates to pony up real specifics about how they will fight public sector unions, and how they will protect the taxpayer and the private sector. Ask them if they supported the recent tax increases and if they plan on imposing any more tax increases, or do they support reforming the budget and cutting spending?

These are incredibly important questions to ask both candidates, and do not stop until Dudley and Kitzhaber have answered them one way or another. And if these men refuse to answer the voters, well then, that's an answer unto itself.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

No 1st Amendment rights for Conservative college students

Via Gateway Pundit and Instapundit, an example of hyprocrisy and intolerance as well as a violation of some students' 1st Amendment rights - on a college campus. Are you surprised?
It begins… School officials at Palm Beach State College kicked members of the Young America’s for Freedom off campus after they saw anti-Obama literature at their table.

It was offensive.

Administrators and Campus Police Kick YAF members off campus after seeing anti-Obama literature at their table.


Other college groups were allowed to stay on campus despite not registering for the event.
Amazing. Apparently the film club should also have been kicked out (through the campus police - overzealous much?) as they had not registered to be at the club fair either. However, the film club members are declining to comment on this out of fear of reprisal from the college administration. Are there any lefties out there that will stand up on principle and condemn this? Anyone? Bueller?

If you would like to call this college and ask why they allow their staff to trample on the 1st Amendment rights of the students just because some staff members don't like what the students have to say, then contact the school via the information below. The first name is who I believe is the woman in the video, kicking the kids off campus - they say her name, "Olivia" at one point - and based on Olivia's answer about who the Dean of Student Services is, I was able to figure out which campus they were on, ergo, the second name is that of the Dean.

Remember, keep it civil, but don't let them off the hook.

Olivia J. Morris
Student Activities Coordinator
(561) 868-3310
Morriso@palmbeachstate.edu

Penny McIsaac
Dean of Student Services
(561) 868-3055
Mcisaacp@palmbeachstate.edu

Disrespect, Capitalism, and Honey Bees

By Littlefish

I just had the pleasure of reading some thoughts from a gentleman my sister recently met. He was very forthcoming with his beliefs and I found it quite interesting. I must thank him for helping me distill a thought I have been working on for a long time. He was discussing how mutual respect is what is missing from our society and then extrapolated that to condemn our capitalist system as exploitive and disrespectful, and how true disrespect was assuming that one person has power over another person, and that one person knows better what the other person needs.

I wish I could find the right way, the perfect words to explain the reality. I fully agree, it is very disrespectful to assume that you or anyone else knows better what someone else’s life might need. That is very very true. But I am eternally confused as to why so many people, typically on the left of the political landscape, then take that truth and apply it to capitalism. If you want an example of pure disrespect of people’s individual rights, if you want to see pure narcissistic contempt for people ‘less than’ the elite, if you want to study how through the ages of man, people have been subjugated by those that feel they ‘know better’, the proper place to look is to the left. This current administration is an excellent example, but Wilson and FDR, are even better examples because they were actually successful in their narcissistic attempts to ‘better peoples lives’ in their own image.

Since the times of the Kings and the Kahns till the communists, and in many lands today run by dictatorship, it is precisely the liberal socialist style agenda that claims intellectual superiority over the common man, and subjugates the common man to live under what the elites in power claim to be in the common man’s best interest.

Capitalism has been the only socio-economic system that eliminated the power position of the elites and allowed the common man to take control of his or her own destiny.

It is scary though I suppose, and maybe that is why so many people refuse to see this reality. Once you are responsible for yourself… you are responsible for yourself! Fail? That was all you. But fear of the unknown is what allowed so many centuries of centralized leadership. People shouldn’t focus on how scary it is to fail, but how exuberant of a life one lives when they try, fail and eventually succeed.

The real interesting part about the “capitalism is slavery” argument, is that people seem very confused about history when discussing ‘the new way’ or ‘the old way’. Many people on the left ardently argue that we need to move forward, into a future where we are a perfect socialist system, but they completely ignore that the socialist style system they are trumpeting is older than any government. Collectivist feudalism is no goal, it is actually capitalism that set man free from bondage. Capitalism is actually the new and promising way. We can study hundreds, nay, thousands of years of centralized planning. We have little more than two centuries of capitalism as a social construct to analyze.

That being said, I would like to expand on this concept in a more natural way. Capitalism is not only the most respectful, fair and non-enslaving system to ever exist, it is actually the most natural and organic economic structure ever implemented. The cycles of nature them selves are capitalistic. All elements of nature work to support each other without ever sitting down and discussing how it is going to be structured. It is all entirely voluntary trade, just like capitalism. The bees don’t demand the flowers provide pollen, the flowers and bees have a voluntary relationship. Just like capitalism. Now, if you are just going to skim over that concept and complain about it, instead of considering its weight, I would like to add, yes, the bees themselves do act in a socialized manner, but, and this is a big but, the bees can function that way because they have a single goal. The entire population is focused on just one goal. This is never true of humans. Maybe in times of national unity we have similar notions on a certain subject, but at any given time, there are as many goals as there are people. The only way to allow those people to achieve their goals is to allow them to interact with each other voluntarily. Capitalism.

So interesting to me to hear people discuss capitalism like it is some evil construct, especially by people very interested in the natural course of the world, when capitalism is actually the only natural state of an economy, and the only respectful way for each person to strive to achieve their goals.

Now, I recognize that many will argue and point out the flaws and catastrophies brought about by capitalism. I will have to agree on certain counts, although I will usually point out the subversive socialist government program that skewed the natural playing field and caused a perverse incentive to alter the otherwise natural course of capitalism. But beyond that, it is important to remember, that nature itself is flawed and allows for catastrophy in many ways. It is even part of the natural cleansing process of the earth’s systems to clear away with catasrophy. My point being, no economic system is perfect and will ever protect every single element of the system. The lion must eat. The river must flood. That is not disrespectful or unfair, it is the natural course. What is disrespectful and ‘unfair’ is someone standing up and declaring that they know best when the lion should eat and how deep the river should rise.

Under any socialist style system, like the one we struggle to succeed under here in the United States, there is little that is voluntary. Socialists and the liberals who pretend not to be socialists, don’t believe in voluntary trade, they believe they know better how the exchanges should occur. That, my friend, is disrespectful.