Saturday, November 15, 2008

GOP: The 500 pound man

Good take on the future of the GOP

Sunday, November 9, 2008

The New Collectivism

I've not done research, but just on an anecdotal level I seem to be hearing a lot more public support for collectivism than in the past. It seemed that the Reagan view of government had generally taken hold and people generally understood that government couldn't do most things nearly as efficiently as the private sector.

This notion, however, is now being challenged by many people who are more blatant about the "benefits" of redistribution.

As examples, I've heard people make a distinction between redistribution and a progressive income tax, crediting the tax for the creation of wealth in America since the Industrial Revolution.

I've read people lamenting the fact that Obama isn't really a Marxist.

I read approving headlines about President-Elect Obama wanting to "take action" (read "government intervention") on the economic crisis.

The pseudo-Republican administration of George Bush caving to Paulson's dire predictions has really set the stage for a massive federal government take-over of private businesses. This is what the socialists in our government have been waiting opportunity to gain power...they are gaining confidence and not necessarily hiding their intentions behind acceptable rhetoric.

We have to be mindful of this presence in our government and not let the sweet idealistic words of socialism lull us into slumber, allowing the all-saving hand of government to be our safety, our charity, our success...our god.

Monday, November 3, 2008

How Should a Christian Vote? Part II

Just Treatment of the Afflicted

Who are the afflicted? The afflicted can be defined as citizens generally, and more specifically, those citizens that may have difficulties in maintaining general standards of living.

What policies affect our consideration of just treatment for the afflicted? For this talk, I will consider elements that are found in the party platforms. I am aware that there are other issues that should have policies dedicated to them (i.e. drug enforcement, rural & urban poverty, etc.), however, for today’s consideration we will stick to the policies seen to be important by the two major parties. Of these, I will point out a couple germane points...REMEMBER, there will be a Q&A time, so write down questions you would like to know more about.

Income Tax

Principle #1 – Property is to be owned individually.

• Scripturally, property is to be owned individually. Otherwise, the injunction “Thou shalt not steal” makes no sense.

OBJECTION: The early church participated in communal living

REBUTTAL: Two main differences between communal living and socialism: 1) Communal living is voluntary, and one may cease to participate whenever he sees fit; in Socialism, communal giving is required, and may be given to causes that the individual does not approve of. 2) Communal living is conducted on a small scale with a group of people who generally agree, Socialism is conducted on a national scale, where people will most certainly not agree.

Principle #2 – Governments cannot justly do what individuals cannot justly do.

• When an individual steals money to enrich himself, he is punished for acting unjustly. When a government steals money from its citizens to enrich itself, it is an unjust act. [example: Congressmen inserting clauses in legislation to pay for pet projects that will ensure that they are re-elected]

OBJECTION: What about #4 of just war?

REBUTTAL: The right of self-defense is bound up within the individual.

Principle #3 – Government has no money. Only individuals have money.
(Give unto Caesear; unto God)
• When government gives money to certain causes (AIDS, welfare, social security, etc.), it should only be done with the explicit consent of the people. [Suggestion: have referendums to determine viability of various social spending projects]

Hierarchy of Justice

Just Treatment of the Innocent

When discussing these themes of justice, we must consider placing the requirements on a hierarchy. One can readily assume that justice in all things is to be desired, but will not happen in a fallen world.

"The common outcry, which is justly made on behalf of human rights -- for example, the right to health, to home, to work, to family, to culture -- is false and illusory if the right to life is not defended with maximum determination." -- Pope John Paul II

I propose a hierarchy modeled off of the recognized natural rights of human beings, that is, right to life, liberty and pursuit of happiness (private property). These rights are bound up with one another, and have a progressive nature.

If one’s right to life is not respected, then the other two are moot. Some say that this doesn’t necessarily mean abortion...

“...abortion is not the only life-and-death issue in this election. While the Republicans line up with the Catholic stance on abortion and stem-cell research, the Democrats are closer to the Catholic position on the death penalty, universal health care and environmental protection.” – Mark Roche

The problem with this statement is that he is substituting a vague notion of life and death as found in universal health care and environmental protection for the reality of little humans being torn limb from limb in the womb. In addition, he failed to mention the consideration of guilt vs. innocence when mentioning the death penalty.

Proposed hierarchy:

Life – Ensure safety and security for its citizens
Liberty – Ensure just and equitable protection of freedom
Pursuit of Happiness – Ensure just interaction between citizens and protection of property rights

How Should a Christian Vote?

Here is a copy of a talk I gave before the 2004 election. Some of the examples are outdated and there are points that still need to be fleshed out, but I think this will give you a framework of my thinking on this. I submit this to your perusal.


Should Christians Vote?

Greetings. The title of this seminar is “How Should Christians Vote?”. However, in many of your minds, this title may have assumed too much, that is, the real question might be, “Should Christians Vote?”

Mark Noll, a well-respected professor at Wheaton College, has declared his intention to not vote. This is because, he says, that no candidate fully supports his seven convictions. Therefore, he has no party and will not vote.

Many Christians take this “all-or-nothing” approach. This is ostensibly why 4 million evangelical Christian voters stayed home in the 2000 election—they didn’t want to vote for Al Gore, and couldn’t in good conscience vote for a candidate that had a DUI on his record. The Democrat’s October Surprise almost worked.

Some Christian take a milquetoast approach that abandons the culture war. In 1999, Paul Weyrich, a prominent conservative activist that co-founded both the Heritage Foundation and the Moral Majority, stated in his Letter to Conservatives that we should “drop out of this culture” and that “politics has failed us.”

Understanding the context of these quotes and noting that he continues to feverishly work for the transformation of our societal institutions, we understand that Mr. Weyrich was not proposing that we stop attempting to change things through the political process.

But some have taken his words to mean that we need to have a nihilistic “who cares” approach, because “it’s all going to burn, anyway!” The fairly recent theological element of the rapture has also contributed to the idea that our responsibility is limited, and we’ll be taken out from among the heathen when things get rough.

A third, more historically sound approach, is that of pacifism. This has a tradition among those who believe that Christ’s commands to the individual to turn the other cheek applies to nation-states as well. And participating in the political process would then impute guilt to them whenever a nation might go to war.

In my view, these three approaches fall short. The first approach allows the perfect to become the enemy of the good. In an effort to maintain personal integrity while voting, the Christian non-voter sacrifices the common good.

Many Christian non-voters fail to recognize that compromise in the political arena is not akin to compromising the call of Christ. Faced with the realities of the world around us, compromise on issues must happen in order to anything good to take place.

In fact, one of the seminal liberties that we have, religious liberty, was enshrined in a document that protected the right of man to own other men. This was a compromise. Granted, it was a compromise with the intent of putting slavery on the path to extinction, but a compromise, nonetheless.

Should the Christian founders have walked out of the Convention because compromise was taking place, as George Mason did? What would have happened? Almost certainly, the United States of America would not be united. The North American continent would resemble the patchwork of Europe, with neighbors warring against neighbors.

Policy compromise also displays humility. Understanding that we are not perfect receptors of all truth, we allow for some differences of opinion on tangential issues. For instance, one can hold firm on the sanctity of life, but compromise on exactly how to protect life.

The second approach has characterized the majority of evangelical Christians for most of the twentieth century. We withdrew from culture and apologetics and allowed the social evolutionist philosophy flourish in law, politics, education and philosophy. We developed a haughty disdain of argumentation, science and rigorous study.

This disdain of the cultural interaction left us with a tradition of non-involvement that evangelicals have made valiant attempts to change in the last twenty years.

The third approach is faulty, in my view, precisely because the individual has different responsibilities to God than nation-states. Although, as many of our founders rightly believed, nations, because they cannot be judged in the afterlife, will be judged in this life.

So, why should a Christian vote? The following points are taken from For the Health of the Nations: An Evangelical Call to Civic Responsibility a statement from the National Association of Evangelicals.

First, we should vote because God has given man dominion over the earth. That is, God has placed this world under our sphere of influence, and we are to be stewards of this gift. One way in which we can be stewards is through the policies that governments enact, as these policies greatly influence how we manage the world around us.

Second, we should vote because Christ is Lord over every area of life. To abandon our engagement of public life and concern ourselves only with private matters is to cede our sphere of influence to the evil one.

Third, we should vote because it is our responsibility to urge our government to live up to its divine mandate to render justice (Rom. 13:1-7; 1 Pet. 2:13-17). When we promote justice within our society, we provide the structures that enable God to be glorified through the actions of government.

The Foundation of Justice

For the remainder of these talks, I want to focus in on the concept of justice. In the Old Testament, the Scriptures instruct Israel how to conduct affairs, and invariably, one of the main concerns of the nation is to promote justice.

Deuteronomy 16:18-20 says,

"You shall appoint for yourself judges and officers in all your towns which the LORD your God is giving you, according to your tribes, and they shall judge the people with righteous judgment.
19 "(19) You shall not distort justice; (20) you shall not be partial, and (21) you shall not take a bribe, for a bribe blinds the eyes of the wise and perverts the words of the righteous.
20 "Justice, and only justice, you shall pursue, that (22) you may live and possess the land which the LORD your God is giving you.

Psalm 99:4 says,
The strength of the King (1) loves [1] justice;
You have established (2) equity;
You have (3) executed justice and righteousness in Jacob.

These verses emphasize the foundational aspect of justice. Throughout history, philosophers have discussed the elements of society, and justice continually reoccurs. It is widely noted that an unjust law contributes to the dissolution of society. A society cannot long exist that embraces injustice. This is because, as Aristotle states, a society is essentially a partnership. Partnerships cannot long endure when one member commits injustice against another with impunity.

In addition, where justice reigns, God’s righteous character is shown. A proper understanding of “good” shows that all that is good is an imitation of the character of God. Whenever we pray that “thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven”, we are praying that God’s character be manifested in our earthly lives.

A just government points its citizens to the One who is just. For, as I point out in my POD class, justice has no meaning if it is subjective. There must be a supreme Law that is the final arbiter of justice. If such a law exists, then there must by necessity be a Mind behind the law, giving it imperative force.

A just government then, is the goal of Christian cultural engagement. So, what does justice look like? How is the vague notion of justice worked out in the many policy debates? How should a Christian vote?

Well, if you think I’m going to tell you who to vote for this election, you don’t know me very well. Though this election is extremely important, most of you aren’t old enough to vote. I’m going to lay out principles that you need to consider in the future as a Christian voter. Individuals come and go, but principles remain and guide you through the murky swamp of half-truths that make up the political landscape.

The elements of justice that a Christian needs to consider when casting a vote are: just war, just treatment of the afflicted and just treatment of the innocent.

After severely reprimanding Israel for her lack of faithfulness, God, through Isaiah the prophet instructs them to do good.

Isaiah 1:17

Learn to do good;
(43) Seek justice,
Reprove the ruthless,
(44) Defend the orphan,
Plead for the widow.

Notice “doing good” is defined as seeking justice, punishing the wicked and defending the afflicted. This is a succinct list of requirements that any government should follow to have success.

Also, through Jeremiah the prophet, the Lord says…

Jeremiah 22:3

3 'Thus says the LORD, "(1) Do justice and righteousness, and deliver the one who has been robbed from the power of his (2) oppressor. Also (3) do not mistreat or do violence to the stranger, the orphan, or the widow; and do not (4) shed innocent blood in this place.

Added to the elements in Isaiah, this passage instructs that governments are not only required to do justice (in which is bound up the element of punishing the wicked), and defending the afflicted, but governments also must take care not to do harm to those that are afflicted, and especially take care to do no harm to the innocent.

So, to repeat, the elements of justice are 1) just war (“reprove the ruthless), 2) just treatment of the afflicted (“defend the orphan, plead for the widow”), and 3) just treatment of the innocent (“take care to do no harm to the innocent”).

Just War

We’ve established that justice is essential to good government, and we’ve divided our consideration of justice into three parts, just war, just treatment of the afflicted and just treatment of the innocent.

We will examine policies from each of these perspectives and will look at the platforms of the two parties to see how or if they coincide with our best understanding of justice applied to politics.

The first element is just war. Just War theory as developed by Thomas Aquinas in his Summa Theologica lays out general principles, extrapolated from Scripture, that govern the declaration and conduct of a war.

Just War theory is typically designated for consideration of one nation going to war with another nation. In fact, this is the context for which it was intended. In this discussion, however, I believe that we can take these general principles and apply them to how we adjudicate within our own political system.

Let’s look at the handout listing the principles of Just War. As we look through these principles, we will consider them first from an international perspective, and second, from an intranational perspective

Handout #1
Just War Theory

8 Principles

Reasons for going to war
1. Defense against violent aggression
2. To restore a just peace (to friend and foe)
3. Military action is to be a last resort after all negotiations have been tried and failed
4. The decision to engage must be made by the highest governmental authority

Conduct of the war
5. War must be for limited ends
6. The means must be limited by proportionality to the offense
7. No intentional & direct attack on non-combatants
8. War should not be prolonged where there is no reasonable hope of success within the preceding limits

Some notable principles

o Just War is an act of love
o It is a greater evil for a Christian nation to fail to go to just war than for unbelievers
o Even a just war is a rough justice

1. Defense against violent aggression –
a. a just war is never conducted out of desire for conquest, power, money, etc.
b. adjudication takes place only against those that have committed crime, therefore all care must be taken to ensure the guilt of the convicted (trial by jury, elimination of corruption)

2. To restore a just peace (to friend and foe)
a. The goal of a war is to bring about a peace that furthers justice, not revenge [Our strategy in Iraq has three objectives: destroying the terrorists, enlisting the support of other nations for a free Iraq and helping Iraqis assume responsibility for their own defense and their own future. – George W. Bush]
b. The goal of legal punishment is justice, not revenge. Punishment of criminals ought not to be done for deterrence, rather for justice.

3. Military action is to be a last resort after all negotiations have been tried and failed
a. Unsuspecting military action is to be avoided. Those against whom military action is to take place must be forewarned and given adequate time to consider halting the aggression [In Thursday's-Sept. 12, 2002-speech to the United Nations, President Bush said Iraq's President Saddam Hussein has violated 16 UN Security Council resolutions resulting from the end of the Gulf War in 1991]
b. Laws are to be enforced only after adequate steps have been taken to ensure knowledge of those laws by the public.

4. The decision to engage must be made by the highest governmental authority
a. A Just War cannot be conducted by civilians
i. What about the American Revolution? The colonies had a government that was ostensibly being abused by the parent-government
b. Vigilante justice is unjust

5. War must be for limited ends
a. The purpose for a war must be well-defined before entering it, and only force necessary to achieve an objective should be used.
b. Civil justice is to be dispensed should only be done to achieve a just end, not consolidate power or suppress populations

6. The means must be limited by proportionality to the offense
a. True justice is proportional. Revenge always intends to cause more hurt than was caused by the original offense.
b. Sentencing of criminals should be proportionate to the offense [poor examples of this: murderers receiving light sentences, drug users receiving lengthy sentences]

7. No intentional & direct attack on non-combatants
a. Self-explanatory
b. Coincides with #1

8. War should not be prolonged where there is no reasonable hope of success within the preceding limits
a. Scripture does not speak of defending one’s honor. Continuing war simply out of ego or defense of honor is not defensible under these guidelines
b. No application to the intranational discussion

Just War is an Act of Love

For a government NOT to act when violent aggression has taken place is wicked and hateful [ex. International community standing by while 800,000 innocents were slaughtered in three months in Rwanda, the world currently standing by while genocide is occurring in Sudan, the international community insisting that the Iraqis were quite happy under Saddam Hussein] [A local government looking the other way when certain ethnic groups are systematically refused equal protection of the laws, a legal system that does not effectively capture and punish criminals]

How does this affect how a Christian should vote? A Christian should vote for the candidate that is most concerned about punishing the wicked out of a desire for justice, not revenge or conquest.

I challenge you to examine the stated reasons for going to war in Iraq, the goals while we are there, and the intentions of leaving once the government is stable. Compare the candidate’s stated reasons for how they would go to war.
Take note that having alliances, though a prudent aspect of war in today’s global society, is not an element of just war theory.

Monday, October 13, 2008

William's Perspective

Always insightful and intriguing...and, by the way, he has seemed to shift a bit more to the optimistic side while firmly clinging to his guns and religion...

The Silver Lining

As an incurable optimist I habitually find a silver lining in the face of catastrophe. Even though as of this date (October 12) I believe that McCain is likely to win in November,his defeat would not be the end of the world. Perhaps the end of the nation as we know it, but certainly not the end of the Republic; that happened last week with the Crooked Democrat and Banker Protection Act, a/k/a “The Bailout.” We have no republic left to preserve, but perhaps recapturing the future will suffice.

To be sure, Obama is unpalatable by every measurement of substance. To say that his accomplishments are “modest” is to inflate them beyond recognition. Like Oakland,“there’s no ‘there’ there.” It gets worse. He hates the America we inherited. He hates free markets and prosperity. He hates whitey, or at least hangs with those who do. He hates free speech and will likely spearhead the efforts to eradicate it. He loves collectivism. He loves coercion. His thin skin cannot tolerate the pricking of criticism. And the mother of his children makes him look moderate, as do many of the unseemly folks he is allied with.

No, he is not a very attractive package notwithstanding hisclear calling as a fashion model who looks oh so suave as he perches on a stoolwith insouciance. McCain may not be fearfulof his coronation, but I sure am. Yet Isee some positive opportunities in the elevation of this Bolshevik to the WhiteHouse, provided it is not the final election in our noble experiment in self governance.

Here are some flecks of silver in the dark storm clouds of an Obamessiah Reich. Admittedly, like much optimism there is a healthy dose of “Maybe,” “Hopefully,” “But” and“Perhaps.”

  1. Market behavior over the past weeks reinforces the notion that it is a rational entity and that we live in a rational world. Whether the dynamic behind the market maelstrom is the cancer of corruption interfering in the marketplace and come home to roost or the anticipation of the impending electoral catastrophe of selecting a collectivist who will eradicate a lot of wealth and liberty (yes, incentives and risk do count), it is comforting to know that the marketplace behaves rationally based on the incentives in play. It is painful to endure, but we should be celebrating it just the same. Who knows? Perhaps the current fiasco (or the coming ones) will prompt tens of millions of people to say, “This depending on the government is for the birds. Let’s take care of ourselves.” Well, it could happen…
  2. If the past two years of Pelosi and Reid driving the bus in the demolition derby is indicative, leftist political pimps are a result of some horrific experiment of Dr. Moreau combining hogs and piranha as they cannot even cooperate with each other. And there is no way those two fossils are going to let this young whelp tell them what to do. Yes they agree on the fundamentals, but their negotiations will fall apart when it comes to divvying up the spoils. There is no honor among thieves, and the thieves will be unchecked on center stage.
  3. The next President will almost certainly be faced with two huge crises: the further collapse of the economy and the reemergence of Wahabist terrorism (certainly much worse if Barry, Harry, and Nan succeed with their “strategy” of pre-emptive surrender in Iraq). I’d prefer the fellow farthest from me be the one holding the stinking bag when it bursts. Even though Bush/Reagan/Eisenhower/Coolidge will undoubtedly be blamed by the Obama apparatchiks including the entire Dinosaur media for whatever transpires, it would be the fashionable Messiah who would be unmasked as an exquisitely tailored empty suit and the inept and misanthropic poseur that he is as his efforts simply compound whatever the crisis is. A belligerently ignorant and indolent populace will be able to see it on grand display. Even beer swilling welfare recipients don’t like losers.
  4. Returning a cranky and defeated McCain to the Senate could reap unforeseen dividends. Consider how he has treated Bush and conservatives ever since his defeat in 2000. He might as well not have had a zipper on his fly as often as he has urinated on them. If he turns that same animus towards the new Exalted Leader it could go a long way towards tying the Left in knots through plain old obstreperous obstructionism. On the other hand, if he is as unprincipled as I think he is, he could become French and collaborate with the occupying forces to garner the favor he so desperately craves
  5. An Obama victory just might allow for a reformation of the GOP that would not be possible under McCain.. A McCain victory pretty much assures the GOP being expunged of any last vestiges of idealism and principled common sense. Conservatives would simply have to find a new home. With an Obama victory and McCain out of the picture, the necessary purge of RINO Bolshevik Wannabes could begin. It would cripple the party for at least one election cycle, but the prospect of forming a new constitutionally adherent GOP would be an even more onerous a task.
  6. Another defeat to a vapid, sweet talking slickster just might cause conservatives to realize that among the skill set necessary for being our leader are communication and inspiration. For six consecutive elections the GOP put forward verbal stumblebums who possessed few if any ideas and virtually no ability to communicate. C’mon, admit it. Bush 41 and 43 have been a disaster for articulating or advocating anything resembling conservatism. “America First” is not an idea for governing; it is a vague and almost meaningless sentiment, albeit a noble one. I think. Obamessiah can sure dazzle ‘em with mellifluous bovine scatology, but a vigorous, skilled, principled, and passionate communicator from our side could wipe the floor with the Bolsheviks. And it begins with the deconstruction of their anti-ideas agenda of “Washington being the root of all solutions.” That doesn’t even pass the giggle test. Since the institution of the Xlintoon “War Room” politics is just that, war. The battleground is one of rhetoric, so we’d better have the weapons to win.
  7. Saving Miss Sarah. An Obama victory would protect Sarah P from the ongoing contamination of McCainism. While I admire her greatly, I fear what would happen to her being surrounded by a phalanx of unprincipled RINO “handlers.” She’s already having to run AGAINST McCain in addition to Obama and Spit Bucket Joe. We have already identified our next generation of true leadership, and we need to nurture and protect it. McCain’s feckless tendencies would drive her to distraction and eventually wear her down and dispirit her. Everyone has their breaking point. I fear that continued contamination of the so-called “Maverick” would be an unnecessary risk for the nation. By the way, why does this fantasy about McMaverick persist? On virtually every large issue thus far he has reached across the aisle to protect the leftist political establishment. McCain Feingold. McCain-Kennedy. McCain-Lieberman. The Bailout.
  8. An Obamessiah Reich would focus the minds of liberty minded folks to find ways to oppose it and work together for liberty. We might have to soften our edges a bit to work together. Let our rallying cry be “Reduce the Size, Scope, Power, and Influence of the Collective.” Sure, compromise with evil and evil wins. We just might have to compromise on the order of eradication which evils first. In addition to the Big Leaders we need a multitude of leaders throughout the culture and Lee Atwaters to work beside them.
  9. As with every dysfunctional entity, “hitting bottom” and the subsequent repentance is necessary in order for reclamation. We are an addicted political culture, addicted to welfare and government intrusion into every single aspect of our lives both private and public. We are no longer capitalists, we are debitalists. Bolshevistic political theology has been an abject failure every where it has been tried, and the more enthusiastically it has been tried the more spectacularly it has failed. After six generations of socialist indoctrination at government incarceration centers, I guess the American electorate needs to have its nose rubbed in the stinking mess of thuggery, confiscation, internment, poverty, danger… Maybe then they will get the message that the empty promises made by the political hacks cannot be paid by the redistributionist mechanism no matter how exuberant it is. If you compare the New Europe of Poland, The Czech Republic, Romania, Hungary, Bulgaria, etc., versus the ossified welfare states of Old Europe you’ll get the point. The former learned its lesson from living under the heel of jack booted thugs for several generations. We bailed out the other guys time after time, and see what choices they have made. They are done for. I pray we would not be so.
  10. Finally, and I believe most important, the elevation of a pagan Bolshevik Messiah might just make us more contemplative about and devoted to the Divine Messiah. As John Adams said, the government the Founders created was meant for a devout and moral people, and would be wholly unsuitable for anyone else.

Spirits up folks. Mine certainly are. But like I said, I’m an incurable optimist.

From the Belly of the Beast


Tuesday, October 7, 2008


Let's look at our records instead of rhetoric...
McCain is attacking O's record on spending...good attack...look at our proposals for our economy
Health Care, Energy, Entitlement Reform...which first?
M: Work on all three. He said it! We will not have the same entitlements in the future. My record is to reach across the aisle. Energy...all of the above. Health specifics. Must do all at once.
O: We need to prioritize. Energy - 3.80 for gas, other countries benefiting. $15B a year over ten years. Cites JFK. Health Care - #2, Education #3. One point...look at records. M talks about earmarks, want to go line by line over every item. M - $300B tax cut given to corporations.

What sacrifices will you ask Americans to make?
M: May have to eliminate government programs. Defense spending, for example. Earmarks will have to be eliminated...even the good ones. Spending needs to be cut in America...recommends a spending freeze. Establish priorities with full transparency. We CAN attack all three at once.
O: Tragedy of 9/11. How all the country was willing to come together. Bush did some smart things at the outset. He messed up when he said, "go out and shop." The wasn't a call to service that we needed. The need for us to start thinking about how we use energy. How we can we start saving energy in our homes? Young people are interested in how they can serve...doubling the Peace Corps.
Wall St. "got drunk". How to break bad habit of too much debt and easy credit?
O: Starts with Washington...if we build up debts, people will think there's easy money. We need to share the burden. Can't ask a teacher making $30K to tighten up if someone making much more is living high on the hog. ??
M: He wants to raise taxes - equated O with Hoover. O's secret - his tax increases will increase taxes on 50% of small business revenue. Let's not raise taxes on anyone. In favor of leaving the taxes alone, and doubling tax credits.

Social Security/Medicare: Date certain to address this?
O: We're going to have to take on entitlements...we need to do it quickly. I want to provide a tax cut fo 95% of Americans. $200K or less, your taxes will go down.
M: I'll answer the question...SS is not tough...O's never taken on his party leaders...Medicare is tougher...we need a commission to come up with recommendations...let's have Congress vote up or down on recommendations...back to taxes...rhetoric and record...he's voted 94 times for tax increases....I have fought to reduce government.

M: Damaged planet...disagreed strongly with Bush Admin on this issue. We forced votes on this...we lost, but kept the way to fix it? Nuclear and clean, creates hundreds of thousands of jobs...can reuse spent rods...hydrogen, battery powered cars.
O: Biggest challenge of our times...not only a challenge, but an opportunity. This can be an engine that drives us into the future. We're going to have to make some investments, like the internet. I favor nuclear power. He voted 23 times against alternative fuels. Easy to talk about this stuff during a campaign. He talks a lot about drilling. We have 3% of oil reserves and use 15%.

Manhatten-like Project or garages.
Use govt. to start, then turn over to private sector. Responds to O's assertions in previous statement. Drilling will reduce the price. Nuclear power...look at the record.

Healthcare coverage profitable industry - should it be treated as a commodity?
O: Premiums double over the last 8 years. Moral commitment and economic imperative to do something...if you have health care, then keep your plan if satisfied...we'll work with employer to reduce cost of premiums...through prevention and techonology...if you don't have one excluded for pre-existing conditions. M $5,000 tax credit...will tax this as income...could lead to unraveling of employer-based health care system.
M: Id'd one of the major challenges. Let's put health records online, community health centers, walk-in clinics...fundamental difference...starts talking about govt...he'll impose mandates...if you're a small business and you don't ...refundable tax credit you can cross state the math...those that have employer-based benefits...95% of American people will have increased funds to buy the insurance of their choice. We must give people choice in America!

HC a privilege right or responsibility?

M: Responsibility...a little nervous about government mandates.
O: A lot of care is a right. Something fundamentally wrong about insurance not paying someone's bills. The problem with crossing state won't have consumer protections that you need.

Recent economic stress affect our ability to be a peacemaker in the world?
M: Strong military requires strong economy. (tuned out)
O: I don't understand...blah blah blah...

Obama Doctrine?
O: We have moral issues at stake. Who would say, if we had the ability, that we shouldn't have stopped the Holocaust or Rwanda. We can't be everywhere all the we need to work with others. We could be providing logistical support and set up a no-fly zone in Darfur, I intend to do that as president.
M: Addresses the timeline for withdrawal. He would have brought them home in defeat. We are the greatest force for good. Must do whatever we can to prevent genocide...tempered with our ability to identify the limits of our capability. Somalia...withdrew in humiliation...Lebanon...stood up against Reagan. Must temper decision with the ability to benefit the situation...I know those situations, I've been in them all my life.

Respect Pakistani sovereignty or ignore borders like Cambodia like in Vietnam.
O: Shouldn't have gone into Iraq in the first place. We must reverse course b/c we need to focus on Afghanistan. We're going to encourage democracy in Pahkistahn. We will act on bin Ladin.
M: Teddy Roosevelt - talk softly, carry a big stick. O likes to talk loudly. Our relations with Pakistan are critical. Petraeus had a strategy - the one that succeeded in Iraq - will work in Pakistan.
O: be very clear about what I said...

M: Strategy is essentially the same

Russia - can we apply pressure without starting another Cold War?
M: There's not going to be another CW...warned about Putin long ago. Watch Ukraine. We need to give moral support to Georgia and Ukraine. Communicate that there are penalties. We can use the G8 and others.
O: blah blah blah...I really have no idea what I'm talking about...

Israel...commit troops in defense of Israel or wait on UN security council.
M: Obviously not wait for UN security council...Russia/China probably pose significant obstacles. Iran threatens the stability of the entire middle east. What would you do if you were the Israelis?
O: We cannot allow Iran to get a nuclear weapon.

What don't you know and how will you learn it?
O: my wife. This country gave me opporunity...came from very modest means. The question in this election...are we going to pass on the American dream? Wages and incomes are going down, lost healthcare (in the last 8 years).
M: unprecedented challenges...hurting Americans...challenges around the world...I don't know what the unexpected will be...gave his background...I know what it's like in dark times and trying to keep hope going, to rely on others...I believe in this country...It's been my great honor to serve it for many, many years...times are tough and need a steady hand at the tiller.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

John Agrees with Me

I missed this post yesterday, but John Hinderaker from Power Line states what I was attempting to say in my last post and does it more cogently.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

More Questions...

Wouldn't it be prudent, since no one really knows whether or not a bailout will have the desired effect, to try some minor adjustments first and see if those things work?

For example, the SEC's adjustment of the "mark to market" rule. This change is huge, since banks would not have to virtually discredit on paper their assets. While talking with a gentleman from Sovereign Bank today, he said that the mark to market rule cost them $1 billion last year. This bank is not a national bank, so can you imagine cumulative cost to the banking industry?

With this change, let's see if the holdings of these banks will improve investor confidence and get the money flowing again.

How about we suspend the capital gains tax? This would encourage incredible investment in all markets.

These are simple proposals to try to get the markets moving again...and if, after 2-3 months, things continue to tighten, then we look at a bailout possibility.

I was disappointed in Roy Blunt's interview on NPR today when he allowed the interviewer to frame the questions in the manner that Republicans are to blame and it's his job as whip to get the votes. He was very strong on the necessity of this bill and said that opinion is shifting because people are seeing the change in their retirement portfolios. I would be interested to see if that is the case. I know that my rep (a Dem) voted against it.

There is a theory that Pelosi did not whip her party for votes with the intention of blaming Republicans for the fiasco...something they've been attempting to do all along. Add to that her diatribe on the floor and one could make a case for that.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Thoughts on the Bailout

The bailout failed...couple thoughts on that...

John Boehner and Roy Blunt voted for it (I trust them), so did Frank and Pelosi (I distrust them). This presents a seems to me that the conservatives that voted for it felt that it was the best they could get given their minority status.

I think Boehner made an error when he blamed the failure on Pelosi's "partisan floor speech" that drove 12 conservative votes (a deciding margin) out of the "for" column. Now the media is attempting to spin this as a Republican-caused problem, not paying any attention at all to the 90 or so Dems that voted against it.

People are blaming an "election year" for the that is a bad thing. I made the comment when I heard that the bill was defeated that "representation still exists!" Whether or not the American people are correct in their loathing of this bill, at least their representatives listened to them! This is what the House was designed to do.

I guess the idea behind blaming an election year is that our representatives can't make their decisions based upon their great wisdom if they're up for election. They're pictured as craven because they want to be re-elected. So what? That's why we have elections...if you want to be re-elected, you represent the best interests of your constituency. If you have to vote against your constituency, you better have a darn good reason! And, the fact is, they can't give a darn good reason for this bailout other than the looming depression predicted by the experts. They haven't a clue whether or not it would work...but we do know what it would do to our deficit and federal oversight.

However...why a taxpayer funded bailout? My Senator, Arlen Specter, actually said something today that made sense...he was urging patience and questioning why we were jettisoning all the normal legislative procedures in attempting to pass this bill. Why not take a deliberative approach and consider things a bit? The markets will be fine as long as they see something coming down the road.

My fear now is that the conservatives may have overplayed their hand and the socialists are going to push for federal ownership of even more private companies.

Question: Why is it a bad thing when banks fail and are bought out by other banks? Isn't that the market working?

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Brave New World

I am not a finance guru, or even know what I'm talking about any more than the next guy when it comes to assessing the relative value of the American dollar or the stability of the "fundamentals" of the economy.

There are two things that I do know: I don't trust Schumer, Frank, Hoyer or Dodd, and when Congress does something quickly, that's a bad thing.

Point #1: Chuck Schumer, Barney Frank, Steny Hoyer and Chris Dodd, guys who love socialistic oversight, are the ones that you see talking up the whole bailout. They sternly appear before the cameras and talk about the need for regulation and the fact that we "have to protect the taxpayer." Hoyer, at least, admitted that they have no idea where this is headed.

My suggestion would be...yes, protect the taxpayer, by not using our money to bail out private companies! They are using rhetoric about the Great Depression to justify this insane takeover. Talk about fear-mongering!

It may truly be the case that, because of the sub-prime mess, we truly are in for a major correction in the markets...however, are we really going to be better off with a federal government take-over of the markets? Do we really think that the federal government does a good job of this?

Point #2 - Thankfully, according to the roadmap, there are not supposed to be amendments, which will save us from additional earmarks. Though the Dems are already trying. However, the wording that is used will greatly increase the power of the federal government to levels we have never before seen in this country.

The Founders set up our system to be intentionally deliberative, requiring lengthy debate and discussion to avoid hasty decisions that are not in line with our principles.

President George W. Bush said he called leaders in both houses of Congress and ``found a common understanding of how severe the problem is and how necessary it is to get something done quickly.'' (emphasis mine)
This is the socialists' big chance to enact their idealistic policies and manage the markets.

As an example,

Democrats are pressing to require that the plan help more strapped borrowers stay in their homes and to condition the bailout on new limits on executive compensation. (emphasis mine)
Be assured that these new limits the Dems are asking for is nothing more than arbitrary government rules about how much executives in private institutions are allowed to make, similar to the arbitrary and capricious minimum wage law. Arbitrary rules breed corruption and harm initiative much more than any free market.

They also want to expand jobless benefits, i.e. welfare, unemployment compensation, etc.

And, of course, both candidates seem to have no problem with what's happening...

I truly hope that the conservatives on the Hill keep their wits about them and make sure that they methodically review the proposed legislation and don't give in to the rush and hurry that everyone is shouting about...They must keep their wits on their own because they're not going to get any help from the White House.

John Boehner is doing his part:

"The American people are furious that we're in this situation, and so am I," the House's top Republican, Ohio Rep. John A. Boehner, said in a statement. "We need to do everything possible to protect the taxpayers from the consequences of a broken Washington."

Signaling what could erupt into a brutal fight with Democrats over add-on spending, Boehner said "efforts to exploit this crisis for political leverage or partisan quid pro quo will only delay the economic stability that families, seniors, and small businesses deserve."

Paulson is now asking for more power than ever...when people start comparing what is happening to the Reconstruction Finance Corp. under Hoover, that's not a good sign...

Here is the text of the proposed legislation...

The proposal does not require that the government receive anything from banks in return for unloading their bad assets. But it would allow Treasury to designate financial institutions as "agents of the government," and mandate that they perform any "reasonable duties" that might entail.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Vision Loss Redux Part XVI - Encouraging (non) Developments

To my many legions of fans...I apologize that I have been remiss in keeping you up to speed on my very queer (I've been reading Chronicles of Narnia to my daughter, so I'm starting to say and think words and phrases such as "queer" and "I say!" and "You're being a perfect ass!") situation.

Think the narrator from "LOST"...Last time, on Vision Loss...

Kate: Will our insurance cover the IV/ig treatments you're getting...TOMORROW MORNING?
Dan (With the "I'm going to cry" look that Jack gets in every other scene): You know, you're right, the doc mentioned "pharmacy" when she said about the treatments...well, I'll just have to find out before we start tomorrow.
Kate: Did you know that I read on the internet that these treatments cost between $10 - 15 THOUSAND?
Dan (with a tear welling up in his eye and a hollow feeling in his stomach): I was not aware of that...

In the hospital the next morning, after making several phone calls, the case worker for the hospital came in and assured me that everything would be taken care of...phew! I would have had to break open the blue piggy bank I've owned since I was about 8 years old to pay for that one!

Here come the mother hens...I mean nurses! Talk about intense...this is a new procedure for all of them, so they're reading the manual (which always engenders confidence) and checking my blood pressure every 10 minutes, jamming a thermometer in my (praise God for advanced technology...if you know what I mean...) ear every 15 minutes and asking me constantly if I was alright...apparently people can stop breathing due to the certain side effects of this treatment...

No side effects...I didn't even get the predicted drowsiness...just read my books, happy as a clam, except for a needle in my hand and having to take Edgar the IV with me every time I need to visit the gentleman's room.

The next day was a bit different...see, I was still taking narcotics at this point to sleep...interestingly, the same ones Jack got a doctor friend of his to prescribe for him near the end of season 3 (in case you're wondering, when I took the "What LOST character are you?" quiz, I was...never's not Jack).

So, for some reason, I told the nurse that I didn't need my narcotics, at least when she was making her rounds. Closer to sleepy-time, I asked the nurse on duty to retrieve my sleeping pills so that I could get a good night's rest, to which she promptly replied that she would and promptly never returned.

Thankfully, I had pills with me in my bag...but I had waited too long. See, these pills don't do a good job of putting you to sleep, they just keep you asleep once you're there. Well, waiting too long to go to sleep in the hospital is bad because you get hungry, and once you get hungry, sleep is but a distant pipe dream...

After much consternation and pounding my peanut jar and another dose of narcotics...I fell into a fitful sleep...for about a half-hour...then...the most reviled of all humans enters my room...the most despised and loathed of all creatures that walk this ball of dust...the happy, chatty nighttime nurse.

In my half-drugged state, she was asking me about my family, about the picture my daughter drew for me, about who knows what...and she wouldn't let me ignore her...I couldn't have been more dismayed if she had flipped on an Olbermann rant (I exaggerate)...I was hungry again...but I was drugged up enough that I slept in a semi-comatose state for a couple more hours after the Spanish Inquisition left (if only she had used the "comfy chair") until the second round of treatments.

This day was not as merry as the first due to my lack of respite the night before.

More later...must get my respite for the new week ahead...

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Job Application

When I applied for the position of Headmaster at my current school, the Board during the interview asked me, "what do you believe are your qualifications for this position?" I quickly and confidently replied, "I have been looking for a job just like this for the last 18 months, and that takes a lot of desire and organization and prepares me very well to move this school into the future!" I was hired on the spot because of my convincing argument...

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Why all the excitement over Palin?

Some people are stumped over the incredible enthusiasm the Sarah Palin has brought to the Republican party. They point out (rightly) that there are plenty of other people more experienced. They make the easy assumption it is because she's a woman, good looking or some other insulting, shallow reason. This is an indicator of the fact that opponents generally underestimate the arguments of the opposition.

So, why are people excited? Two reasons...the first has caused the euphoria and the second has virtually guaranteed victory in the fall, barring any unforesseen October surprise.

First, this is the result of a good result following low expectations. Conservatives did not have a lot of hope that McCain would pick a real conservative. We thought that he would pick someone like a Lieberman or Ridge...maybe Romney...but no one to get real excited about.

When he picked Palin, and we figured out who she's like going into a movie expecting the worst and coming out pleasantly surprised. We were just shocked that he picked a "rock-ribbed conservative", like Rush says.

Second, and more importantly, conservatives like her because...(drum roll)...she's conservative! So many of our so-called conservative legislators are limp-wristed pantywaists, including McCain on certain conservative issues. They feed at the pork trough, think that being pro-life is enough and ignore everything Russel Kirk had to say on the subject. They have a very shallow understanding of the Constitution and seem to be content with that.

So, to find a running-mate that is truly conservative...that's huge for, as an added bonus, we don't cringe when she's in front of a microphone.

Why is this a virtual guarantee of victory? Because conservatives are a majority in this country. Yes, I'll say it again in case you haven't been paying attention...we are in the majority! The reason repubs haven't won is because they haven't been governing like conservatives. Simple as that. This concept is mocked by NPR, but they will continue to be baffled as the conservatives win yet another election while all the economic indicators predict a dem victory.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

RNC blogging - Palin's Speech

The crowd is going crazy for Palin...she has definitely energized the delegates who were warmed up well by Steele, Romney, Huck and Rudy...she's going to have a hard time getting them to sit down...finally, she starts...I am honored to accept...whole new round of cheering...didn't know John's middle initial was "S"...McCain was counted out a year ago...he would rather lose an election than see his country lose a war...they overlooked the caliber of the man himself...a man with "guts"...a time for politics and a time for leadership...he's a true profile in courage..refused to break faith with the troops in Iraq who have brought victory within sight...son Track leaving next week...proud of all those serving in uniform...introducing family...talking about special needs applause...first pledge...friend and advocate of special needs in the White House...husband...parents...taking this opportunity to introduce herself without the media lens...people like her parents...always proud of segue to the small town...average hockey mom, PTA...difference between a hockey mom and a pit bull?...lipstick...opponents look down on her experience...let me explain what the job a community organizer with actual responsibilities...not a member of the permanent political establishment...not going to Washington to serve their opinion...going to serve this great country...crowd is fired up...different from DNC because it's up close and like a real convention...will carry myself in this spirit as VP (servant leadership)...stood up to the "good ole' boys"...put the govt. of our state back on the side of the rid of things in the governor's office taxpayers shouldn't pay for...put the luxury jet on e-bay...sometimes my kids miss the personal chef...McCain promises to use veto in defense of the public interest...state budget under control with a surplus...1/2 billion in vetoes...Bridge to Nowhere reference...broke oil company monopoly on energy...$40B natural gas pipeline...largest project in N. America...segue to energy independence...Russia seeking to divide and intimidate by controlling supply...ticks off the list of threats to oil supply...she knows that we've got lots of oil...drilling won't solve all of our if we don't know that's no excuse to do nothing at all...will move toward energy independence on every front...our opponent...dramatic's easy to forget that he's authored two memoires, but not a single law or reform...can talk about our wars and never use the word "victory" expect when talking about his own campaign...styrofoam greek columns hauled back to some studio lot...what exactly is his plan?...after he's done turning back the waters and healing the planet...against producing more energy...wants to enemies without preconditions...he's worried terrorists won't be read their rights...he wants to grow govt...wants to raise taxes...income, payroll, investment income, death, business...sister runs a small will they be better off if taxes go up?...the choice Americans face...those who use change to promote their careers...those, like McCain, who use their careers to promote change...not self-designed presidential seals...our nominee doesn't run with the Washington herd...not looking for a fight, but sure isn't afraid of one either...Harry Senate..."I can't stand John McCain" better proof that we've chosen the right man!...American presidency is not supposed to be a journey of personal discovery...there is only one man in this election who has ever really "fought" for places where winning means survival and winning means death...the journey of an upright man (Hanoi Hilton to the Oval Office)...confidence of those who have seen evil and knows how evil is overcome...when McCain shuffled back from torture, he would flash a grin and a thumbs up to say that we're going to get through this...that's the type a man we need...some can inspire with flashy words...McCain with his elect a great man the President of the United States...thank's a party...people are having lots of fun...there's no weird movie track music, instead a country trio singing the national anthem...

RNC blogging - Rudy's Speech

Rudy's lighting it up! He's giving body blows to Obama...great stuff!

130 "present" votes...
No experience...
Changing his mind...
McCain got the biggest policy change right (with the Surge), Obama got it wrong...
The Georgia issue...McCain stated, "we are all Georgians"...Obama displayed moral equivalency...
changed his position three times and ended up with a statement just like McCain's 3 days later...Next time...Call John McCain...he knows something about foreign policy...Palin's already had more executive experience than the entire Democratic Party ticket combined...I'm sorry her hometown isn't flashy enough...maybe they cling to religion of the most active governors in the dare they question that she has enough time to spend time with their children and be VP--when have they ever asked a man that question?...we're the party of expanding freedom...Let's shake up Washington and move this country forward!

Friday, August 22, 2008

Why Obama Really Voted for Infanticide

Read Senator Obama's words in a state senate debate in this article by Andrew McCarthy. One really needs to address words like this in order to convince people that their views have modified. To my knowledge, he has not done this...just has pretended not to have taken that position...a most arrogant position to take...

Monday, August 11, 2008

Georgian Conflict

Here's a good summary of what's happened thus far...details are still sketchy and Russia's motivations are just speculation.

Of course, it comes with insipid comments at the bottom...

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Clean, Safe, Accessible

WASHINGTON, D.C.Congressman Gresham Barrett delivered the following speech on the House floor today to support the use of nuclear energy as an alternate energy source.

“In the past few weeks, the focus of the energy crisis conversation has been about lifting the offshore ban on drilling to increase oil and gas supply in the U.S., and, offshore drilling is one solution that can help ease our energy crisis and lower gas prices at the pump.

”There has also been talk about using alternative energy sources to solve our energy problem for the long-term.

“The Department of Energy found that the 103 nuclear units in the U.S. supply about 20 percent of the electricity produced in the United States.

“In my state of South Carolina, 52 percent of our state’s power comes from nuclear power plants.

“For years, I have regularly worked with organizations and companies within South Carolina to promote the benefits of nuclear power.

“Nuclear energy is clean, safe, and it’s accessible to us in our country.

“Nuclear energy is an alternative energy source that our country can use to create long-term energy solutions for generations to come.

“It is a real solution that if we invest in now, will bridge us from short-term solutions to long-term ones,” said Congressman Gresham Barrett.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Cheering Germans

On the way to the doc today, I was listening to NPR breathlessly tell me that "if Germans could vote in the U.S. election, 75% would vote for Obama..." To which I thought..."who cares?"

I mean, seriously, who cares what the Germans think about one of our candidates? Do you? This gives a peek into the mindset of these journalists that probably actually think that German opinion would sway an American voter. I don't even think it would sway my good Hessian friends' opinion...Just another puff piece paid for by my tax dollars...

Oh, and what is this "citizen of the world" crap? I don't want a citizen of the world to be my President...I want to know that he's on my side, not the Germans or anyone else's. I want a President who understands the importance and natural right a nation has to unapologetically utilize power...and someone who has to preempt his comments by assuring foreigners that they are fellow citizens strikes me as pandering, at best, but telling about his view of national sovereignty. I guess this might fall in line with his professorial restructuring of the definition of patriotism.

"no challenge too great for a world that stands as one" - Here he was referring to the conquering of the Soviet Union. Hmmm...they weren't part of the world? He speaks as if victory was some sort of foregone conclusion, that Reagan and Gorby were hanging out at Reykjavik smoking pot and dreaming big dreams about world unity.

There's a lot more to this speech...mostly platitudes...feel-good stuff...easy to say but hard to do (he's going to stop global warming by partnering with the EU).

He really does strike me as an eloquent toddler sitting behind the driver's seat...his head full of big dreams and fantasizing about racing in the Indy 500...bargaining for the keys to the car...and the "responsible" adults seem inclined to hand them over.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

McCain/Roosevelt -- could be worse...

McCain citing Teddy Roosevelt as his conservative model makes sense to me. I think it only bodes well for his candidacy to have taken such a stance.

RIP Tony Snow

With charm, wit and a relentless goodwill toward all, Tony Snow was always fun to watch and one you could have confidence in. Saddened by his death, we remember what it truly means to suffer and he provides a great example of how to do so with class.

Read the AP if you want to read an article that shows what Tony dealt with on a regular basis. This article has no class, getting its digs in during the most grievous of times.

FoxNews, as always, is much better, though they used some quotes from the AP.

Here is a good overview with Brit Hume.

Friday, July 11, 2008

A skeptical look at Barack?

Well, not entirely skeptical, but it is quite a feat for the mainstream press to do a story that is anything but fawning... HT: Powerline

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Vision Loss Redux Part XV - Diagnosis

Quick Summary: Pressures are down in my eye, I have Susac's.

Soup to Nuts (just heard this cliche for the first time, and have been waiting to use it):

Concerning the pressures in my right eye, they were down to 8. I don't know what accounts for these wild fluctuations and Wiz #1 doesn't seem to know either...probably the pred.

My visit to DC was sort of as expected and hoped for...

Wiz #2, who looks a lot like a good friend of mine from years past, sat down with us and distilled a lot of experience and work into a 5 minute briefing.

They didn't find anything in my MRI or other studies that I had done. He said that he had a whole room of doctors looking at the recordings of my innards because they heard I was a possible Susac patient.

The MRI showed some possibility of something, but it was a "might be, might not be" sort of thing. However, Susac's has been diagnosed without the encephalopic episodes that one hears about.

So, I am indeed one in 20 million, or at least will be treated as if I am.

I will undergo a series of IVIG treatments that may or may not work. The goal is to stabilize me so that, according to the doctor, I can get on with my life.

Thankfully, the doctor I see here was one of his students and I have confidence in her. So, I will be undergoing treatments much closer to home in Allentown.

After 3 years, it's good to at least have a plan of attack.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Successful People Do Hard Things

Capt. Ivan Castro is one of them.

When Capt. Ivan Castro joined the Army, he set goals: to jump out of planes, kick in doors and lead soldiers into combat. He achieved them all. Then the mortar round landed five feet away, blasting away his sight.

"Once you're blind, you have to set new goals," Castro said.

He set them higher.
An inspiring story of a man who won't quit...what's your excuse?

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Vision Loss Redux Part XIV - Fateful Week

Visited Wizard #1 on Friday...nothing exciting to report except there are two additional spots in my right eye and the pressure in that eye is double what it ought to be. However, after the flourascein test, there is no activity, so I reduced the pred from 60 p/day to 40 p/day...which makes me edgy and not a lot of fun to live with...though my wife would never say that I'm sure!

SO, back tomorrow to check the pressures. If they remain above 30, then I will have to go to Philly to a glaucoma specialist for possible laser treatment. I didn't know this previously, but the definition of glaucoma is having pressures in your eye above 20. High pressure damages the optic nerve, and without treatment, blindness ensues. My pressures have been playing in the 30s and were over 40 on Friday. He sees some damage, but is confident that if we can get this under control, because I am young, it will heal with not problem.

All this because of that darn cortizone shot!

On Wednesday, we head back to Wiz #2 at Georgetown U. Hospital to get the verdict on whether on not he believes I have Susac's Syndrome. I haven't heard anything from him, so I anticipate an interesting visit. It seems to me that some major treatment decisions will need to be made soon.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

RIP Tim Russert

One of the few very respectable journalists who truly pursued truth in politics. Watch the video below for an inspiring tribute to his life.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Who is the largest single producer of nuclear energy in the world?

Improbably enough, that would be . . . the United States. Even though the development of new nuclear plants stalled by the early 1980s, the country’s 104 reactors today produce nearly 20 percent of the electricity the nation consumes. This share has actually grown over the years along with our consumption, since nuclear technology has become more efficient. While the fixed costs of a new nuclear plant are higher than those of a coal or natural-gas plant, the energy is cheaper to create: Exelon, the largest nuclear company in the United States, claims to produce electricity at 1.3 cents per kilowatt-hour, compared with 2.2 cents for coal.

We have much untapped potential in this area and people are starting to wake up from their Fonda-induced stupor. Even if it's being induced by a Gore-induced stupor...I'll take it.

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Vision Loss Redux Part XIII - Susac's or Not?

Visit to Dr. Brown (Wizard #1) on Monday

The vision loss mentioned in my last post was actually not vision loss at all, but happily was merely a pool of blood in my eye. So, nothing substantial has changed with my vision.

Visit to Dr. Cupps (Wizard #2) on Wednesday
Traveling to DC in record time -- (made it from Leesport to the Capital Beltway in 2.5 hours) we wended our way down Connecticut Ave to Georgetown U hospital to see the newest wizard. Using the superb navigation skills of my wife, we cruised right into the proper parking area, right next to the proper building, went up the proper elevator to the proper floor and immediately into the proper office.

Got to hear DC slang--if you've not heard it you don't know how to say it--but the secretary said about a particular desk utensil, "I heard that joint rattling in there." I haven't heard the proper slang pronunciation or usage of "joint" for 3 years!

Anyway, a nice woman input all my medical information, which took awhile...

"What medicines are you taking?"
"How much time do you have?"
"This is a new computer bear with me..."
"I'm on 80 mg of prednisone"
" here...and, no, wait...oh, I have to go, here it,'re on what now?"
"ok...pred...ah! there it, how much?
"80 mg"

...and so it went for all 6 of my meds. But she was very nice and told me that her kids had attended Clinton Christian (a neighbor school to my former school) before moving to Springfield.

Then I met Dr. Cupps and was immediately place in a slightly warm room with a med student...a very nice med student, but a med student nonetheless. So, we went over my long and sordid medical history, reviewing my progressive deficiencies starting with almost exactly three years ago...the day I packed up the U-Haul to move to PA, my ears started buzzing.

I had brought all of my records to give to the wizard for his inspection. After a thorough examination, the wizard entered and we had a good conversation about a lot of things. I appreciate when a new wizard asks me questions I haven't been asked, did you ever go to the chiropractor or have a neck injury? Funny I was never asked that when it was assumed I had coratid dissections.

He did indicate I have an abnormality on my latest MRI, so he's going to sit down with experts and go over all my tests.

Also, he has treated 2 Susac's patients in the past and has had success with them.

I go back in about 3.5 weeks, and if it is determined that I do indeed have Susac's Syndrome, he would like to me start Intravenous Immunoglobin to try to stabilize me. It is said that Susac's lasts for 3-5 years, then typically goes away. Well, I'm at three and it's still going strong!

Monday, May 26, 2008

Memorial Day

In my local newspaper, Jim Kerr actually came up with a decent column for Memorial Day.

...When I stop to think about it, my indifference seems to reflect the way many people in this country have grown to view the war in Iraq.

Unless we have a loved one directly involved, the war has become sort of an annoyance, a source of strife that we hear about every day, just like high gas prices and the poor economy.

Many of us would rather just relegate it to the back of our minds or forget about it altogether.

But regardless of personal feelings about the war, as Americans, we can’t forget or neglect the brave men and women faithfully serving and sacrificing for this nation. We owe them a debt of gratitude and a measure of honor and respect...

...So, on Memorial Day, join me in acknowledging the names of some recent war casualties as released by the Department of Defense. I don’t have space here to list all the names from even one month, but here is a representative list of deaths from a randomly selected workweek – April 21-25:

• Spec. Lance O. Eakes, 25, Apex, N.C.

• Spec. Benjamin K. Brosh, 22, Colorado Springs, Colo.

• Spec. Steven J. Christofferson, 20, Cudahy, Wis.

• Sgt. Adam J. Kohlhaas, 26, Perryville, Mo.

• 1st Lt. Matthew R. Vandergrift, 28, Littleton, Colo.

• Lance Cpl. Jordan C. Haerter, 19, Sag Harbor, N.Y.

• Cpl. Jonathan T. Yale, 21, Burkeville, Va.

• Staff Sgt. Ronald C. Blystone, 34, Springfield, Mo.

• Staff Sgt. Shaun J. Whitehead, 24, Commerce, Ga.

Each of these names and many more like them represents a community in mourning. For each one, there’s a tearful widow or grieving mother seated in a cemetery and accepting a neatly folded American flag graciously presented by a sharply dressed military officer.

As a nation, we need to remember that, especially on Memorial Day.

So, before you fire up the grill or head off to the swimming pool today, take a moment to hang a flag from the front porch and pay tribute to the Americans who have died and are still dying in service to this nation.

They deserve that much. (emphasis mine)

On this day, remember those who selflessly do their duty for our benefit.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Vision Loss Redux Part XII

After a hiatus, my left eye has decided to get back into the act. I noticed tonight that my left eye has displayed a it's back to 80 mg of pred for me for now. I've noticed a lot of shadows in my right eye...

God only knows what's causing this, and it's been difficult to keep my mind straight about this with my mind toggling between refusing to acknowledge this and wanting to learn braille.

God is good...all the time.

Pray for our Chinese Brothers

Pray for the many souls in Mianyang and the Sichuan Province, and give to help the physical needs.

Amazing Tornado Footage

Tornado footage from the sky...quite impressive

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Double Standard

Where is the howling about Obama's stupidity? At least Dan Quayle was technically right - there were two ways to spell potato (in the 19th century)...there has never been 57 states...

Monday, May 5, 2008

Vision Loss Redux Part X I - update

"looking good!", the wizard says to me today. Things seem to have stabilized for the last several weeks. So, tomorrow I move down to 30 mg of prednisone. Still a very high dosage, but half of where I've been. This is the lowest I've been since this whole mess started. Every time I would move to 40, I would have this is pretty significant. It probably has much to do with the other meds he put me on. To his knowledge, this med - cellcept - has never been used for eyes...but I guess I'm a pretty rare case.

He's convinced again that I have Susac's. He's going to call Dr. Susac and get the scoop.

Also, I'm seeing a rheumatologist that is sending me down the Georgetown U to her mentor. We'll see if he can shed some light on the mystery patient.

Also, she's the one that started me on this diet. Basically, the prednisone is beginning to give me diabetes and I need to watch what I eat. She said I didn't have to be strict with it...but I decided...why not? I was overweight before I started on the pred, and added 20 lbs. after. So, I'll be eating no carbs for the next two weeks during phase 1 of the South Beach diet.

I've never done this before, so I see it as an exercise in self-discipline. I will let you know if I cheat, honest! I'll twitter about my progress, and you can follow if you're some sort of diet voyeur, or if you're just interested. This could be fun...a new challenge!

Although...I missed dinner tonight because I worked late and had a meeting...and I'm feeling a little hungry...

Monday, April 28, 2008

16 Vials of Blood read that right, I gave 16 vials of blood today so my new rheumatologist could get a good read on what is going on.

Of course, I had forgotten that I was supposed to be I did my morning routine...placed the bowl on the table with the silverware, cereal box, orange juice...began doling out my meds...then the thought hit!!!

I had also eaten at 3 am, which would place me at about 1 pm at the earliest to get my blood drawn...thankfully, I was busy today and didn't have much time to think about my gradually weakening state...until I got to the clinic and she started pulling out handfuls of empty, greedy vials...

So...holes in both arms and a package of teddy grahams later, I walked out with loads of sympathy from the ladies.

Dr. Brown tomorrow...we'll see if I can reduce my prednisone dosage...

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Dred Scott Thinking

"Reverend" Jeremiah Wright (see below if you've had your head in the sand) made me think of an essay I wrote awhile ago concerning the condemnation of our founders as racists...and those who attempt to interpret the Constitution according to the intent of the founders.

So, Scalia and Thomas are both racists (Thomas being a self-hater) because they interpret according to "strict construction" or simply attempting to discern what the founders meant when they said what they said, then applying those principles as best they can to current issues.

The Clinton Dynasty

From my friend, Glenn Shrom, author of Getting Past the Culture Wars: Regarding Intelligent Design:

Chelsea Clinton, if I am correct, will be eligible for the Presidency in 2016 (over age 35). Can you imagine a Clinton in the White House again?

Picture this: Bill 92-2000, Hillary 2008-2016, and Chelsea 2016-2024. Ouch!

Bill said he had a hard time adjusting to life outside of the White House, so imagine if this were his plan for the three of them to live there for 24 years of their lives, even with there being a two-term limit (per person, not per family).

Yikes...though I doubt President Chelsea would have dear old dad living in the the Lincoln Bedroom...

Monday, April 21, 2008

Nuclear Energy - "Why America Needs It Now"

If you've not considered the importance and safety of nuclear energy, watch this video of Skip Bowman at Concerning the waste, here's an excerpt:

To put it in a little bit different way, if you and I received all our lifetime electricity from nuclear power from day of birth to age 70, the amount of waste contribution from our use of nuclear electricity would weigh about two pounds and would fit into a coke can. So you have to put this a little bit into perspective. I am not trivializing what must be done with it but it's not bigger than a bread box.

Sunday, April 20, 2008


As someone who enjoys sports, there has been a void in my life since I've been on coumadin. Nosebleeds are generally considered to be a negative thing when you're not sure if the blood flow will stop prior being drained completely!

Well, at least I can still play ping-pong! Wrong, my friend...the ball disappears as it approaches the paddle! Oh well, at least I was never any good at it!

Doctor's Vists - the comedy of it all...

Doctor's Visit #1 - two weeks ago sometime...

Scenario - Kate and I enter the empty office of a rheumatologist, are admitted without incident and a very nice man takes us into his office and interviews me concerning my condition, etc.

He takes me through a thorough exam, says there's nothing obviously wrong with me, then begins to record into his digital voice recorder my history...

Dr: "He (referring to me) first experienced vision loss last year...[continues speaking]. Presses stop.
Me: Actually, I first started losing sight fall of '05. [repeats what I told him during the interview]
Dr. [rewinds the tape] begins he's speaking he says, "he was on coumadin for a period of three months...
Me: No, I was on coumadin for a year with no incident, then came off in August of '07, then three months later had an incident, then was put back on at that time while I was in the hospital. Came off the coumadin about 4 weeks ago, had another incident 2 weeks ago, then was put back on...
Dr: [with a somewhat glazed look in his eyes] So, you were on coumadin with no incident for a year?
Me: Yes
Dr: [rewind]

This went on for some time as he, Kate and I reviewed the details that we had told him during the initial interview.

Long and short of it...very nice man, very not helpful. The most he did was recommend that I take an additional medication that I have no intention of taking.

Dr. Visit #2 - last week
Kate and I enter a completely empty office in the basement of a large house with very bright and attempted kid-friendly furniture. The pictures on the wall displayed a decidely odd taste and many of the messages on the wall were written in poem form that I assume were written by the man himself as they made you feel bad for the author who is so proudly displaying his sense of humor. Reminded me of the socially awkward high school kid that cracks jokes and thinks that people are laughing at his jokes.

We were ushered into a labyrinthine corridor and stationed in a small, windowless room with the typical 80's tripe being piped in through an unseen speaker. Claustrophobia begins to set in...

After a short time, a typical, doctor-looking person enters the room.

I will not write out the conversation as I will just try to capture the arrogance that he carried with him as best I can...just think of that same kid who nobody likes, but thinks they do, mocking you because you don't have any friends. You're not sure whether to punch him in the nose or just feel sorry for him.

So, in the course of the conversation, he belittled (some in a kind, doctorly sort of way, but most in a disgusted, "they are most definitely morons" sort of way), me, my wife, my wife's friend, Lyme disease doctors, any allergist that would consider that diet would have anything to do with inflammation, hollywood actors that have famously tried wacky alternative medicine, my doctor and one of his patients who thought that maybe her daughter had allergies. I may have missed one or two...

After a bit, I found myself nodding and agreeing with everything he said just to get him to stop talking...

Upon reflection, we should have just got up and left, but of course, I'm much more pro-active in my "should've" life than in my "in-the-moment" life.

By the way, you should meet me in my should've life! I am so witty and good at kung-fu!

Oh, and in the middle of all this he says..."we can do an allergy test if you want...but it would just confuse the situation." The conversation was also sprinkled in with gems of advice like, "you really need to be careful what you read on the internet" [Oh, thank you, font of wisdom, for I am a poor, lowly sap that doesn't know the difference between reliable and unreliable websites, as you surely must!] and "I don't know really what to recommend except to get another doctor".

So, we left the office after having wasted $40 and a couple hours. But, at least I got a blog post out of it!