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Old Patriot's Pen

Personal pontifications of an old geezer born 200 years too late.

NOTE The views I express on this site are mine and mine alone. Nothing I say should be construed as being "official" or the views of any group, whether I've been a member of that group or not. The advertisings on this page are from Google, and do not constitute an endorsement on my part.

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Location: Colorado Springs, Colorado, United States

I've been everywhere That was the title of a hit country-and-western song from the late 1950's, originally sung by Hank Snow, and made famous by Johnny Cash. I resemble that! My 26-year career in the Air Force took me to more than sixty nations on five continents - sometimes only for a few minutes, other times for as long as four years at a time. In all that travel, I also managed to find the perfect partner, help rear three children, earn more than 200 hours of college credit, write more than 3000 reports, papers, documents, pamphlets, and even a handful of novels, take about 10,000 photographs, and met a huge crowd of interesting people. I use this weblog and my personal website here to document my life, and discuss my views on subjects I find interesting.

Thursday, March 31, 2005

We Don't Even Speak the Same Language Any More

I got the following comment posted to my website today, in response to my article, "Go from us in Peace":

I guess it all depends on what you mean by life. I felt extremely sorry for Terri and was glad she passed away today. She is in a better place, right, with God? And why would you force a woman to have a baby? If she doesn't want it, what kind of life will it have? It will be back to the days of garage abortions.And why should stem cell research be prevented? It is a promising line of science that will result in therapies for now incurrable diseases. Is this killing? While I support the current admin on the war on terror, I shudder to think what will happen to this country if the repubs get to appoint one or two Supreme Court Justices.

The whole thrust of my article was that the decision to pull the feeding tube from Terri Schiavo was a gross violation of her personal right to life. It didn't necessarily mean it was a GOOD life - we know she had serious problems. But the judicial decisions regarding Terri Schiavo, and the medical examinations those decisions were based upon, were inadequate at best, and criminally negligent at worst, making Terri's death murder, not "allowing her to die". And I could never be glad that ANYONE died. I might be thankful that she no longer suffers, or that she is no longer in pain, but her death is still a tragedy, not a blessing - a loss to all of us, as John Donne so aptly put it. Whether she will be with God is of far lesser consideration to her parents and her siblings - she is no longer with THEM, and that is the source of their - and my - sorrow. The method in which she was deprived of life was cruel and barbaric, and that eats away at them, too.

As for "forc(ing) a woman to have a baby", why shouldn't I expect an adult to take sufficient responsibility of her own actions to prevent a child in the first place, rather than killing it afterward as reward for her carelessness? Nor am I against all abortions - there are legitimate reasons for a woman to have an abortion. I am uncomfortable with, but would not deny any woman's option to have an abortion in the first three months of pregnancy. I cannot tolerate, however, carrying a child to term, and then killing it in a "partial birth abortion". That is sick. I would much rather have her bring the baby to full term and give it up for adoption than to murder it at six, eight, or even nine months. As for what kind of life a child can have if the mother doesn't want it, both our adopted children seem to be doing quite well, thank you.

As for stem cell research, the comments here are totally ingenuous. There are no limitations on stem cell research - NONE. There are only limitations on US GOVERNMENT FUNDING of stem-cell research. Again, though, the source of these comments just can't seem to separate himself from the extremist Democratic Party talking points. BTW, the most successful stem-cell research, in fact the ONLY successful stem-cell research, has been done on adult stem cells. There has not been one health improvement to come from fetal stem cell research, after how many years of research? Ten? Fifteen? Twenty?

The major weapon being used by the "current administration" of George Bush is individual freedom, and the right to self-government. Individual freedom and self-government require an acceptance of responsibility - at the personal level, and at the national level. Yet the entire letter above is about the abandonment of personal responsibility, and handing all responsibility over to the State. The majority of the problems discussed in this letter are those that have arisen over the last 50 years as the legislative branch of our government has failed to do its duty, and our courts have decided to legislate in their place. George Bush has promised to restore the balance by nominating judges who believe the Constitution means exactly what it says, and that the only way to amend it is through the process written in Article V of our Constitution. I heartily praise him for that action, and DEMAND that Congress do their duty and put such judges to work for the citizens of this nation.

This comment shows that the two sides in this case - the "right to death" and the "right to life" groups - don't even use the same meaning to words, even though we supposedly speak the same language. Nor is there any indication of compromise in the writer's diatribe. It's all-or-nothing, either "my way or the highway", "no compromise". We're not talking to each other, we're talking past one another. The Left is European in thought and philosophy, and yes, even in action. The rest of us remember that our founding fathers created a new nation to break the bonds with Europe, and begin life anew. We wish to be different, we wish to be true to our own beliefs, and the beliefs of our founding fathers. It's not time to "abandon religion", as some have suggested, but to look back and see how religion has shaped us, keep the best, and look at modifying the rest until it fits our current needs while staying true to our roots, both religious, social, cultural, and political. We cannot turn our backs on 300 years of history without putting ourselves at grave risk of destroying what we are as a nation, as a people, and as individuals. We will NOT abandon hope - or our individual freedom - to become wards of the over-reaching, all-encompassing State.

Tuesday, March 29, 2005

Go From Us in Peace

(Before we throw you out!)


(Hat tip: Michelle Malkin)

If Terri Schiavo should die today, she will have served a very useful purpose, both for this nation and for God. She will have shown us the extent of the divide between the two camps in this country: those that love God, and those that laugh at those who love God. It's an irreconcilable difference.

Michelle Malkin started me thinking with this piece:

"THESE PEOPLE:" THE MSM'S RELIGIOUS BIGOTRY
By Michelle Malkin · March 28, 2005 03:51 PM

Over the weekend, I wondered why the mainstream media was ignoring some amazing stories of pro-life activists and evangelical disabled advocates who have been peacefully keeping vigil outside Terri Schiavo's hospice.

Read it all now, twice, then come back. It's worth it.

This quote from Michelle Malkin's piece is priceless: comments from Michelle Cottle of The New Republic

COTTLE: "Well, it's not that they get out there and make fun of them. It's just you come with a ready-made kind of visual here. You have people on the streets praying. They're, you have very dramatic and even melodramatic protests and things like this.

These people are very easy to kind of just poke fun at without even saying anything. You just kind of show these people. And the majority of Americans who don't get out there and do this kind of, you know, really dramatic displays feel a little bit uncomfortable on that level."

Who are these "majority of Americans who don't get out there"? I'm sorry, Ms. Cottle, but if there were a way for me to be there, I would be. I, and tens of millions of other Americans pray for Terri Schiavo every night, that she will find peace and security in the arms of a loving God.

An even more disturbing thought is that the majority of Americans, from the inception of this nation until this very day, find nothing laughable about prayer. Why do you? One of the prime reasons this nation was formed, and why we fought for our independence from Britain was to practice our religous beliefs as we chose. George Washington didn't feel uncomfortable about kneeling in the snow at Valley Forge, and praying for his ragtag army. The Continental Congress began and ended each session with prayer for guidance from Divine Providence - a direct reference to God.

The worship of God has been an integral part of the leadership of this nation from its first founding. There is nothing "laughable" about the thoughts and actions of our founding fathers, or of Andrew Jackson, Abraham Lincoln, Theodore Roosevelt, or Ronald Reagan.

The vast majority of the people of this nation profess a belief in God. At least 70 percent say they attend worship services "sometimes", "frequently", or "regularly". It isn't the worshipers who are out of step with mainline America, but the liberal left, who would rather worship themselves than an almighty, all-powerful God, even a forgiving God.

This nation was founded on faith: faith and trust in God. Read the works of the founders, their letters and writings that have been handed down through the last 220 years. The word "God" appears frequently, and always in a reverent way. It's "Secular America" that's out of step - out of step with 220 years of worship, faith, and tradition, and equally out of step with "mainstream" America - not the "Religious Right".

Then there's liberal Jeff Jarvis, at Buzzmachine:

Jumping the shark for Jesus

Many say that the Schiavo episode is splitting the Republican party; others say is it splitting Democrats, too; others say it is dividing America. But I think something more fundamental is happening:

The religious right is separating itself from the rest of America. The theocrats may have finally gone too far too often.

Jeff Jarvis may just be right, but not in the way he believes. I think what is happening is that the Terri Schiavo case, on top of several Supreme Court decisions, lesser-court decisions, and the incessant scream from the far left over the 2004 election, has finally driven the God-worshiping people of this country to say, "ENOUGH!"

Jarvis, like the rest of the liberal left and their secularist self-worshipers, fails to understand that religion is a major factor that most Americans use to define themselves and what they are. This nation was founded on religion, and grew to the premier nation in the world, because of faith. Not only does faith buttress their daily lives, it also buttresses their social and political lives. Most Americans understand - and agree with - the words of John Adams, who said, "our form of government is designed for a religious and moral people; it will not work for any other".

Not only do the majority of Americans understand this, they see it portrayed before them every day. Whether the MSM chooses to report it or not, we see and hear about the infidelities, the graft, the corruption, the cheating, the dishonesty of those "in high places" - in government, in industry, and especially in the "entertainment" world, and are revolted by it. We constantly hear about scandals, from the United Nations "Oil-for-Food" and rape scandals to the scandal of our neighborhood schools' failure to educate and teach our children. We see, and know, that these scandals don't happen in isolation, but in a God-denying, secular setting. Strike one, Jeff.

Here's how badly Jarvis gets it wrong:

They have been aided and abetted --- but ultimately undermined -- by a media that bought their PR and presented the loud voices of a few as the voice of the nation marching to the right and up to the altar. But the overdose of overdoing it that we're seeing on TV these last few weeks may just be the catalyst that causes a backlash, that reminds us that we are a secular nation of churchgoers and that we value separation of church and state over either church or state: That is our mainstream.

No. We are a religous nation that demands that every person be able to worship as they choose. This is why religious freedom was the first part of the First Amendment. We do not wish the State to force any particular faith upon us, but we are NOT a "secular nation". A "secular nation" denies God, as France has done, or as Russia imposed upon its people. The First Amendment was written to ensure that any citizen could worship as they wished, wherever they wished, without fear of reprisals. What is happening in the Schiavo case is the rule of the judiciary and the wishes of one man being imposed upon both church and state. We are seeing the state-ordered execution of a woman incapable of defending herself against it. That is morally and politically repugnant to the majority of the moral people of this nation.

While there are morons who are taking advantage of this situation, the majority of the "religous right" know and understand that they are morons, and that their views represent a tiny fraction of the whole. It's to the credit of our Founding Fathers that even morons can speak freely - and be equally as freely disparaged and ignored. Strike two.

In the case of Terri Schiavo, we have heard angry, even frightening rhetoric from the religious right: people in Florida and in Congress accusing judges of murdering Schiavo; the Schindlers and their advocates, many of them ministers, turning on even their allies (even on Jeb Bush if he doesn't do enough to satisfy them, if he doesn't do the impossible); online advocates saying that the laws and the courts should be damned; and conservatives throwing over their political philosphy opposing federalism and government interference in service of their religous philosophy.

I agree, it IS frightening - if you're an idiot and keep trying to force the will of the minority upon the majority, and if you fear any ideas but your own. Yes, there is excessive rhetoric, on both sides. That's what happens when truly life-altering decisions are being discussed. We're also hearing some astoundingly stupid things from the liberal left, Jeff. Where are your comments about those? Is only one side of the debate worth covering? Is only one idea worth condemning or praising? Strike three.

As for Conservatives "throwing over their political philosphy opposing federalism and government interference in service of their religous philosophy", I think it's been pointed out by enough people with both the information to decide and the background to properly evaluate the situation that the entire effort of Congress was to ensure that Terri Schiavo's personal rights, the very thing our Constitution was developed to protect, were not abridged or subjugated to the will of another. This is the kernal of the debate: are the rights of one person subject to being overthrown by the will of another. If Terri Schiavo were being tried for murder, the court would have thrown out the case in two seconds, on the grounds of insufficient and hearsay evidence. If a far stronger case is necessary to even TRY someone accused of murder, why is it acceptable in this case? Where is the equality under the law? Where is equal justice? Where is "reasonable doubt"? Strike four, five, and six.

Even moreso, where is judicial impartiality? This case has devolved into one judge's personal crusade. There is NO ROOM in our judicial system for such behavior. Yet it's being allowed to happen. It stinks, and most Americans know it stinks. They're holding their nose, and pointing fingers. If you don't see how much it stinks, there's something wrong with you, not those pointing their finger. Strike seven.

It's not just Schiavo.

It's also about the FCC and censorship, where we have a few, a very few religious nannies trying to tell the rest of us what we cannot hear and see. And, again, the religious conservatives throw away their allegiance to small government and their opposition to government interference in citizens' lives in favor of their religous orthodoxy. (And religous Democrats ignore their belief in free speech -- not for religious principle but instead for cynical political gain ... which, I could argue, is worse, for it is unprincipled.)

Excuse me? The majority of us don't want to have porn, hard or soft, shoveled into our living room without our awareness, just so a few can see anything they want. If the people that produce that filth want to market it, there are ways of doing it, but if the rest of us don't want it piped into our house 24/7, we have the right to tell Government to limit the exposure to areas where we have a CHOICE. That's the entire purpose of "premier" channels - to move the less-wholesome, the less appealing shows into a different market, where we can choose to purchase it or not. Since the government controls those airways, they also have the right to respond to their constituents who don't want to be FORCED to endure the filth. That's not censorship - there is still a market for the product. It's just an attempt by ordinary people to hold to standards of decency and common courtesy. Another called strike across the heart of the plate.

As for "the religious conservatives throw away their allegiance to small government and their opposition to government interference in citizens' lives", Thomas Jefferson expressed it most elloquently when he wrote: "That all Men are created Equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these rights are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness; that to secure these rights governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the Consent of the governed". Terri Schiavo is being deprived of her life for no crime other than being married to Michael Schiavo. Her rights are being denied. It is the SOLE RESPONSIBILITY of Government to "secure" - I.E., protect - those rights. What could be more fundamental to our Government than that?

Of course, it's about abortion as well: Every time I drive my kids to their orthodontist, I pass what must be a clinic and see protesters standing outside not just protesting but trying to shock with their images and words. They don't appear to be merely protesting or just angry; they look extreme.

And it's about sex: At the same time they oppose abortion, the religious right opposes sex education beyond pushing abstinence with young people; in the age of AIDS, that's doubly dangerous.

Yeah, Jeff, just drag out everything the "religous right" is against. The truth is, the flow of evidence is going against you. More and more Americans are coming to realize the free and unlimited access to abortion is not only wrong, it's socially destructive. This is above those that feel it's religiously wrong to end a life once it's begun. Even "Roe" has changed her mind.

The "sexual revolution" of the Sixties had a huge cost, and the bill is overdue. The majority of sensible people understand the societal and individual costs of sexual "freedom" - "easy" divorce, sexual promiscuity, lack of commitment, denial of personal responsibility, growing numbers of children born out of wedlock, the epidemic spread of sexually transmitted diseases, rising suicide rates, and millions on welfare rolls. TANSTAFL - "there ain't no such thing as a free lunch", perhaps Robert Heinlein's greatest contribution to this world. You, Jeff, want to treat symptoms while keeping the disease. That doesn't work. Strike what?

Finally, it's about attempts to stake claim to the moral high ground. See also David Brooks in The New York Times this weekend trying so very hard to be Mr. Reasonable. But, in the end, by taking what he calls the high moral ground, he accuses those who do not agree with his stand of being ammoral, or at least less moral:
The socially conservative argument has tremendous moral force, but doesn't accord with the reality we see when we walk through a hospice. The socially liberal argument is pragmatic, but lacks moral force.
He is arguing that only one side holds a moral argument. No, both sides have moral arguments but they are different arguments. There is not just one-true-way, or at least there's no way for us to know what it is... yet.

The difference, Jeff, is the morality of the sanctity of life, versus the cult of death. Even a blind, deaf, 10-year-old could figure that one out. Trying to hide from it, trying to muddy the water, trying to obfuscate and deny, just makes it more apparent which side you're on.

It's about some people telling the rest of us how we should live -- and this comes from the people most resent being told how to live. It's self-righteous and shrill. And I'm betting all that is turning off more people than it is converting them. That is jumping the shark culturally.

How blind arrogance can make one. The entire Terri Schiavo case is based upon the right to life, regardless of how miserable an existence it might be. It's complicated by a husband that refuses to allow any physical therapy, any advanced diagnostic testing, any opportunity for his WIFE to be given the best treatment - for her - that might exist. The entire Terri Schiavo incident (and I hate to refer it to something so mundane) is the morality play of what's more important, life for all, or only life for those most able to enjoy it fully. If you can't see that, you are indeed blind.

But it's happening politically, too, as the theocrats stand apart from their own political principles and from the rule of law and the voters who reject their actions.

< --- >

This will have impact on politics: I will not be surprised to see the mainstream of the Republican party disassociate itself from the fringe -- especially if the polls continue to scream that they should and especially if the Democrats stop acting politically fringy and self-righteous themselves and start inviting that mainstream in.

We are indeed at a watershed point for this nation: whether we will continue to be a nation of people who put God before self, and morality above personal pleasure, or a nation of immoral, arrogant, self-centered "it's all about me" secularists. The divide is growing. It may not be possible to continue to maintain one nation, and we must divide. That would be painful, but in the end, may be the only way both sides can survive. It's either that or a second civil war. There is no longer any substantial middle ground for us to meet upon.

Easter is about celebrating a new day.

No, Easter is about redemtion, and the triumph of life over death. I can understand why you belive as you do, if you don't understand that. That one failure says why there is a divide between you and me, and why you're wrong.

Monday, March 28, 2005

Why No Tsunami This Time?

I'm not a geologist or a geophysicist, but I've done more than a little studying in that field, and have a little practical experience. I think the major reason there was no tsunami from the latest major earthquake near Sumatra is because of the location where the quake took place, and the depth at which it happened.

The original earthquake took place along the edge of a major ocean trench, and was a result of the Indus plate slipping under the Sunda (or Burma - I can't remember which) plate. This kind of fault is sometimes called a plunging fault. What happens when a portion of one plate slips under another is a tremendous release of energy, and usually some movement along either or both plate boundaries. The upper plate is usually shoved up even higher, and the lower plate is shoved down (See Figure 1). Whenever the land moves up and down, and there is contact with water, the energy of the land's movement is transferred to the water, and you have one or more tsunami waves.







This latest earthquake, based upon where it's located and its depth, was more likely a simple horizontal strike, or one where the two plates slid on top of one another. It also appears that there was little up/down motion, which is what causes tsunamis.

Sunday, March 27, 2005

"He is Risen!"


1 ¶ In the end of the sabbath, as it began to dawn toward the first day of the week, came Mary Magdalene and the other Mary to see the sepulchre.
2 And, behold, there was a great earthquake: for the angel of the Lord descended from heaven, and came and rolled back the stone from the door, and sat upon it.
3 His countenance was like lightning, and his raiment white as snow:
4 And for fear of him the keepers did shake, and became as dead men.
5 And the angel answered and said unto the women, Fear not ye: for I know that ye seek Jesus, which was crucified.
6 He is not here: for he is risen, as he said.

The words of Matthew, Chapter 28, proclaim the good news to Mary Magdaline and Mary, the mother of James, on that first Easter morning. Thus, the promise of the Christmas birth is fulfilled, and Jesus, the Son of God, completed His earthly mission among us, fulfilling the Promise God gave in Isiah.

It's not the greatest of Easter mornings. Many of us hold vigil over another innocent condemned to a slow, painful death. Tens of thousands of Americans are away from home, in a hostile land, trying to bring earthly peace, standing guard against those that would kill and maim for the sole purpose of gaining earthly power. Millions around the world are still homeless after a devastating natural disaster. Tens of millions are lonely, in pain, hungry, cold, and miserable. Yet the promise of this day makes all of that trivial. He is Risen!

With His resurection, the power of death was broken. No longer were men condemned to be born, live a little while, and die, to be forgotten. Those who believe will be resurected with him, and made whole again. Death is not the end, but a step beyond. There is no longer any reason to fear death, but to accept that it is a part of living, in Christ. In Christ, we shall all be made new.

It's not the greatest of Easter mornings, but any celebration of Christ's Resurection is a good morning. In the words of the Psalmist, "let us rejoice and be glad in Him." He is Risen!

Thursday, March 24, 2005

Thou Shall Not Kill

The sixth commandment is no Congressional law, thousands of pages long. Nor is it a Supreme Court ruling, filled with hundreds of pages of briefs. It's very short, and to the point. There's no ambiguity here, there's no "slither room". God didn't say "don't kill your neighbor on Thursday", or "don't kill other Jews", He said, "Thou shall not kill." Period.

I'm pretty sure God meant just that - that mankind was not to take what it couldn't restore. Any death not caused by accident or natural causes is unacceptable. This makes sense if you believe that Man was made in God's image, and by Him, to have stewardship over the Earth.

Good men, even the best of men, sometimes violate this commandment, not with pleasure, but with the ultimate of remorse. The military uses force to achieve national objectives, but only under the direction of the President, and the approval of Congress. People die - hopefully only those who oppose this force, and hopefully only those that resist sufficiently that only in death will they be stopped. Yet in every war, some of our own also die. The United States has always hesitated before entering into war, and only gone forward when no other solution would work. This is true even of Iraq and Afghanistan, it was true in Bosnia, and Vietnam, and Korea, and the Pacific, and Europe - twice.

We hire police officers - people to protect us from those that obey no commandments - and give them authority to do whatever is necessary to stop those that would prey upon us. Even these men don't use force first, but try to stop those that violate the rules of our society by other means before resorting to the ultimate in force.

Killing another human being isn't easy, and it never should be easy. It should only be done when there's no other choice to save one's self, or to protect those that depend upon us to protect them. Yet this nation has already taken the first steps toward cheapening life, and making killing easier, less of a burden on consciousness, and more "acceptable".

No unnecessary death is acceptable. That includes the tens of thousands of children killed before they're ever born, or those too old, too feeble, "too far gone", for life to mean much to them. The death penalty is the ultimate in punishment, and should only be used when the failure to remove someone from society permanently and uneqivocably, is the only sure solution to guarantee the life and freedom of the rest of us. We make it as hard as possible to execute someone, simply because it IS an action that cannot be undone.

The courts in the United States have decided that one person should die, simply because her husband says she wouldn't want to live in her current condition. Yet there is no written document, and the only evidence is heresay on the part of her husband. Her husband has some major compromising baggage - an adulterous relationship with another woman with whom he now has two children, his refusal for her to be administered rehabilitative services which may have eased her problems, and even denying her right to medical service. Why, then, should this man be allowed to decide if his wife should live or die?

Why should ANY man be allowed to decide that someone should live or die? This is not a death caused by the denial of life-sustaining machines. Terri Schiavo can breathe on her own, her heart beats of its own accord, and her lungs work just fine. She needs no help to breathe, can swallow, and even has some very minor voluntary movement, and responds to outside stimulus. She is ALIVE. Only, because of her husband and a complicent court, she is being killed, starved to death, dehydrated until her system shuts down, and she dies. This is not a natural process, but one imposed upon her. She is being killed. None of the weasel-words will change the odor of this process. No amount of excuses will bring forgiveness.

Perhaps what the people who are killing Terri Schiavo are doing is "legal", but God help us for descending this far from what He made us. There will be a call to judgment for every one who has failed to save Terri Schiavo's life, and that Judge will not be lenient.

Sunday, March 20, 2005

Why the Democrats are in the Sewer

From Sound Politics, with my comments.

36th Dist. Dems Endorse Military Recruiting Ban at SCCC

The 36th District Democrats in Seattle have sent out their resolution in support of free speech for student groups AND the banning of military recruitment at Seattle Central Community College, where students shamefully chased off a recruiter during presidential Inauguration Day anti-festivities earlier this year. The text of the resolution, sent out by the 36th Dist. Democrats Chair Peter House, is below. (NOTE: "whereas" deleted from each graf, for scrolling purposes). Be forewarned. The resolution contains the spurious claim of 100,000 Iraqi civilians killed by the U.S. and allies, which Brian Crouch debunked here yesterday. It also declares, "Military recruitment during an illegal war is morally repellent, inasmuch as it aids and abets 'the supreme international crime.'" After the resolution comes a revealing post about House at the organization's web site.

The Democrats wonder why their stock is down to a few pennies, and still falling. Most believe it's because they "didn't get their message across", or "the Republicans didn't play fair". The following statements explain just exactly why the Democrats have become a minority party, and may reach the point where they're on par with the Green Party - or even below them.

The 36th District Democrats recognize that our colleges and universities are highly valued by the entire community;
Colleges and universities have been taken over by the Left, and exert unremitting pressure on students to conform to the Democratic "ideals". Proof: Harvard University's behavior against the President of Harvard, Lawrence Summers; the pattern of behavior inherent in the entire "Ward Churchill" flap; and countless other patterns of behavior such as the Dartmouth Alumni election and the abovementioned behavior at SCCC.

The 36th District Democrats uphold our nation's traditional value of free intellectual discourse;
As long as it's Politically Correct, backs only Democratic traditions, and doesn't include requiring the Democrats to give up any of their failed socialistic ideas. "Political Correctness" is an attempt to stifle free speech - one backed strongly by the University crowd. "Diversity" is the trump of every other requirement, including honesty and integrity. Oh, and only ideas that agree with the Politically-Correct, leftwing worldview can be accepted. Anything such as the proposition that some differences may be genetic has no place on American University campuses.

The 36th District Democrats abhor and reject extremist groups who would suppress the freedom of student groups to assemble and petition their government;
That is, any Republican group, or other group that might express such ideas as individual freedom, personal responsibility, belief in a higher Being (unless they're Muslim, Native American, or Wiccan), true freedom of speech and debate (debate is CLOSED, haven't you learned that yet?), or support for the current President or his cabinet.

The 36th District Democrats encourage student groups to organize public forums in which to debate the vital issues of our time;
"Of course, there's no need for an opposing viewpoint, since they're wrong, and we don't want to hear them anyway."

The 36th District Democrats oppose the deceitful tactics of targeted military recruiting on college campuses;
The Military is Evil, the CIA is Evil, the FBI is EVIL, any REPUBLICAN GOVERNMENT is EVIL, and all have to be banned, so the "Good Guys" (I.E., Democrats) won't be contaminated.

The 36th District Democrats reject the option of preventive war and make nonviolence the primary organizing principle of foreign policy;
"We reserve the right to dictate foreign policy to the President, since he's a Chimpy McHitler Fascist, and is too stoopid to make his own policy". After all, Osama Bin Laden did NOT declare war on the United States, and had nothing to do with crashing four jetliners filled with passengers, killing more than three thousand people in the United States.

The Iraq war was undertaken as a preventive war, which is considered a war of aggression in violation of international law under provisions of the Kellogg-Briand pact, the Nuremberg Charter, the United Nations Charter, and the International Criminal Court;
Still dredging out that old lie, because they can't think of a better one. Afghanistan was an attack to dislodge a terrorist organization so interwoven into the local government it was impossible to do anything but crush both. We struck against both the Taliban and AlQaida because they were so intertwined, and AlQaida, in the form of its leader, Osama bin Laden, ordered, planned, and helped execute an attack upon our soil. Gulf War I wasn't over, just on "hold", just as the Korean War isn't over, there's just a cease-fire in effect. Hussein refused to live up to his part of the cease fire agreement. There was no such "preventive war" - there was the culmination of the response to Iraq's aggression against Kuwait and its refusal to dismantle and destroy its offensive military capacity, including the destruction of Weapons of Mass Destruction (chemical, biological, and radiological weapons).

The Nuremberg Tribunal stated that "to initiate a war of aggression. . . is not only an international crime; it is the supreme international crime differing only from other war crimes in that it contains within itself the accumulated evil of the whole";
To pontificate upon things beyond one's intellectual capacity is the height of folly and is the extreme evidence that one is a blithering leftist moonbat idiot. The Nuremburg Tribunal has nothing to do with the resumption of war against a tyrant who has failed to acknowledge his responsibilities under a United Nations-brokered cease fire. There is NO "War of Aggression" - there is only the culmination of the previous war, properly acknowledged and properly authorized by Congress, the only governing body that has any jurisdiction in this matter. Get over it.

The United States has repeatedly and unrepentantly violated the Third Geneva Convention and the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment in its treatment of prisoners;
Neither the Third Geneva Convention, nor any prior to it, granted any protection to terrorists, guerilla warfare participants, and their ilk. Any people captured by the United States in Afghanistan or Iraq that were not citizens of a country engaged in war with us under the terms established by the Geneva Convention, are not covered. That horse was beaten to death two years ago. The continued exhumation of this putrid carcass is idiotic.

The US-led invasion of Iraq, according to an international study published in the British medical journal Lancet, resulted in an estimated 100,000 Iraqi civilian deaths during just the first eighteen months of the war;
This study has been totally discredited by Instapundit and others. It's a sick joke, not scientific evidence - kind of like the crap used to "justify" Kyoto.

During just the first two months of the 2003 Iraq war the US-led coalition used, according to Pentagon and United Nations estimates, 1.1-2.2 thousand tons of munitions hardened with depleted uranium, which, in its aerosolized form, is a known radioactive and heavy metal toxin associated with cancers and grotesque congenital malformations; and
Depleted uranium is NOT a "known radioactive" material. It is "depleted" by removing 99.9% of the radioactive isotopes of Uranium from it. It IS a toxic heavy metal, but you'd have to ingest several POUNDS of the stuff, rather quickly, for it to adversely affect you (See here and here). There is no peer-reviewed documentation linking depleted uranium to genetic or congenital deformities.

Military recruitment during an illegal war is morally repellent, inasmuch as it aids and abets "the supreme international crime";
Congress, and Congress alone, has the power to authorize war. Congress gave President Bush authority to wage war against Iraq and those involved in "state-sponsored and supported terrorism". The United Nations authorized the use of "whatever means necessary" to force Saddam Hussein to obey the terms he agreed to at the end of Gulf War I. This group of half-baked "internationalists" have no authority to declare the war illegal, or to interfere with the legitimate activities of the United States Government, or any of its agencies. The US Military is STILL an agency of the US government.

BE IT THEREFORE RESOLVED THAT the 36th District Democrats declare solidarity with Students Against War (SAW); support their peaceful civic engagement; defend their right to object to military recruiting on their campus; applaud their efforts to organize affiliated groups on other college campuses; and exhort Chancellor Mitchell and President Ollee to permit SAW to exercise the right of free speech and assembly on the campus of Seattle Central Community College.
Basically, the 36th District Democrats say it's ok to physically assault an Army recruiter on campus, because that's "defend(ing) their right to object to military recruiting on their campus". When physical force is used to ensure only one side of a debate is heard, it's called tyranny. When physical force is used to prevent the lawful activities and duties of a government agent, it's called tyranny. When one group successfully uses force to prevent a government agent from performing his or her lawful duties, and coordinates with others to ensure the same outcome, it's called conspiracy to commit acts of tyranny. This isn't "free speech" - it's tyranny and intimidation.

Free speech for me, but not thee, in other words.

The 36th District Democrats represent the mainstream message of the Democratic Party. Yet neither they, nor Democrats at large, understand that the message is the poison. Howard Dean, speaking to the convention of Democrats Abroad in Toronto, made these comments, found in the Toronto Star:

Spreading the message
PETER GORRIE
Toronto STAR STAFF REPORTER

"Keep it simple" is the key to the White House, failed Democratic presidential candidate Howard Dean told members of his party from around the world last night.

One major reason his party lost the 2004 race to the "brain-dead" Republicans is that it has a "tendency to explain every issue in half an hour of detail," Dean told the semi-annual meeting of Democrats Abroad, which brought about 150 members from Canada and 30 other countries to the Toronto for two days.


No, Howard, that's not the problem at all. The problem is reflected in the behavior of the 36th District in Seattle. The problem is the Democratic Party message. The problem is the unwillingness on the part of the Democrats to accept the reality before them, and work to overcome the threats to this nation. The threats to the nation aren't coming from the Republican Party. Nor is the Republican Party a threat to the Democrats. What IS a threat to the Democratic Party and its supporters is the Democratic Party's failure to address anything but the Party's lack of power and presence in Washington. The Democratic Party is no longer shielded behind a wall of protective concealment provided by the Mainstream Media. The sooner you realize this, and start to understand that two parties means two parties working TOGETHER for the security and well-being of the American People, the sooner the Democratic Party (or its successor) becomes a major player in American politics again. If it isn't the Democrats and the Republicans, it will be the Republicans and someone else.


Dean's party is struggling to recover from the Nov. 2 American election, in which George W. Bush's team not only won the White House but also took firm control of the Senate and House of Representatives.
<--->
Dean's presidential campaign was propelled by Web communications. And he's promoting a "bottom-up" Internet-connected party, run by state organizations rather than the centre. He has called for an end to the "consultant culture" ? the legions of paid advisers employed by defeated candidate John Kerry that, critics complain, confused the candidate's thinking and messages.
<--->
`The majority is on our side. We need to figure out how to talk differently about these issues.'

The first paragraph totally refutes the last one here. If the "majority" was on their side, why did they lose the Presidency and both houses of Congress? It wasn't just "how they talked about these issues", it was the issues themselves, as other reporting - and other voting - illustrated. The same tired, worn, and exhausted ideas that have been trotted out for the last 50 years are so thin you can read a blog through them. Yet the Democrats are so tightly entwined with the extremists in their party they can't be separated. Those extreme positions - unlimited abortion on demand, national health care, continued social lock-step in public education, unionist extremes, internationalism, political correctness, socialist behavior, and dozens of other major demands from the "core" of the Democratic Party - was what was rejected as much as, or moreso than, the Democratic candidates.

The Democrats won't be distracted by other issues, "as long as we're kicking the living daylights out of them on Social Security."

"The Democratic Party will not win elections or build a lasting majority solely by changing its rhetoric, nor will we win by adopting the other side's positions," he said when he announced his bid to become party chair. "We must say what we mean ? and mean real change when we say it."

While Dean wants focused policies, he acknowledged some issues aren't clear-cut and his party must work hard to come up with effective messages.

It will be difficult to win over the many Americans who appear to disagree with Democratic policies on social and moral issues, such as abortion, he said.

"The majority is on our side. We need to figure out how to talk differently about these issues."

Keep repeating that line, Howard. I'm sure it will comfort you the next time you lose. You WILL lose, you know, because you still don't understand. You still think it's the way you talk, not the message you offer. Social Security is a problem. Medicare/Medicaid is a problem. Unrestricted entitlement spending is a problem. Higher taxes will not work - Clinton tried that, and it eventually bit him - hard. The truth is, Americans have finally seen the Democratic Party as the party that wishes to restrict their personal freedoms, wants to enslave them to international opinion, wishes to disarm them and make them harmless. We saw what disarming the British led to. We understand the permanent criminal class that exists in this nation would have a field day once Americans surrendered their personal weapons. And we don't trust you to defend us, to keep us from harm. Talk only works when you've got the power - and the will to use it - behind you. Democrats haven't learned that yet.

Don't go spending all your salary from that new high-fallutin', high-sounding job you've got - you're going to need some of it to look for a new job in 2009.

A "Peaceful Death"

We lost one of our pets last week, a mixed-breed cat my daughter named "ItsyBits" because as a kitten he'd been the runt of the litter. ItsyBits died from feline lukemia - not the viral kind, but the blood cancer that is fatal more often than not in cats.

ItsyBits quit eating about three weeks ago. After a week of coaxing and trying to force-feed him, we took him to the vet. The bloodwork came back with the bad news - elevated white blood cell count, and some other serum changes that indicated lukemia. He also had a cancerous growth in his abdomen that was blocking his digestive tract, one of the reasons he wouldn't eat.

We did everything possible to make ItsyBits' last days on this earth comfortable. We helped him to the water bowl to drink, and cleaned up his accidents from the floor when he couldn't get to the kitty litter. The vet gave us something to help ease his pain, since the lack of vitamins and trace elements were causing muscle spasms, cramps, and other painful physical reactions to self-imposed starvation.

ItsyBits was never comfortable. He constantly tried to move from one place to another, searching for a comfortable spot. Noise bothered him, light bothered him, and holding or petting him was physically painful for him. I'm sure death was a release from pain for him, and he welcomed it.

There was nothing we could do to cure ItsyBits. The lukemia was too far advanced to cure it, and the growth in his abdomen was definitely malignant and spreading. All we could do was whatever we could to make him as comfortable as possible, and to let him know he was loved. Even with a half-dozen other cats in our household, he will be missed.

The situation with Terri Schiavo is different. There are no life-threatening illnesses wracking Terri's body. She has some form of brain damage - the extent has never been evaluated or determined. She has little control over her own body, but does experience life. She doesn't require any major external help to continue to live, only a tube that delivers food and water to her body.

Terri may respond to physical therapy, but we don't know, because it's never been provided as a long-term treatment plan. She may recover some of her mental abilities, but we don't know, because we don't really know what's wrong with her. She obviously isn't a vegetable, since she responds to outside stimulus. Yet Terri Schiavo is going to be forced to undergo the long-term suffering of starving to death that ItsyBits endured, simply to please her husband and the courts.

May God have mercy on Terri Schiavo, and may He forgive her husband, his attorney, and the judge that issued the final order that will force Terri Schiavo to die.

Saturday, March 19, 2005

"Military Intelligence"

I haven't written much about my career in the Air Force, mostly because much of what I did was (and still is, for the next 50 years or so) classified. I've read several articles online recently, however, that make my blood boil. Most disdainfully claims that "military intelligence" has been a "costly failure", and consistently wrong. I haven't seen any credentials of any of these people that indicate they have even an inkling of what military intelligence is all about, or how it works.

My particular specialty was reconnaissance intelligence, frequently referred to as "imagery" intelligence. My title changed from "photo interpreter" to "imagery analyst" as technologies changed, and more and more of my time was spent in interpreting non-visible-light imagery. That's just one specialty among a dozen or more:

  • Human Intelligence (HUMINT) is the oldest form of intelligence, and is still important today. Human intelligence includes spies, moles, and agents, and the information these people can get to their "handlers". It also includes such commonplace activities as debriefing people who have visited certain areas, or who have had contact with certain people from "listed" countries.

  • Signals Intelligence (SIGINT) includes intercepting and interpreting electronic signals. It can include everything from telephone to television to encrypted data transmissions. My mother was an enlisted signals analyst for the US Navy during World War II disciphering Japanese naval communications, a form of SIGINT.

  • Electronics Intelligence (ELINT) concentrates on what part of the electronic spectrum is being used, rather than what the signals themselves might contain.

  • Imagery Intelligence (IMINT) uses some form of recording system to acquire representative data (photographs) of surface features, including military, cultural, agricultural, economic, transportation, and other specific data.

  • Communications Intelligence (COMINT) includes a bit of SIGINT and ELINT, but is primarily trying to discover how groups communicate (electronically, mechanically, etc.), as well as what they're saying, and when they're talking to one another.


Each of these types of intelligence (there are others, much more specific, and not commonly discussed) have dedicated people who spend years learning and perfecting their skills in their particular job, and who develop a degree of expertise in what they do. Yet their primary function is to report what they learn to others, who will interpret the information, compile the data, correlate the reports, and create summaries and in-depth studies.

Intelligence, regardless of kind, follows a cycle: targeting, collecting, evaluating, interpreting, analyzing, collating, and distributing the data. Intelligence personnel just don't go off into a bare spot and begin collecting data: the national intelligence community determines what kind of information the nation needs, and the best way(s) that information can be gained. More than two-thirds of the information needed by the US intelligence community can be gathered from "open sources" - data produced by nations, international organizations, scientific, technical, cultural and social publications, daily newspapers, and similar sources. Sometimes these sources will be questioned, and the task will be issued to verifiy or disprove a particular piece of information. Some data cannot be collected by such "open" means. That's when the national intelligence community is provided tasking to determine the information. Tasking takes into account several factors, including the most appropriate means of collecting the necessary information, how important the information is, the accessibility of the information, the usefulness of various sources, the parameters of the necessary data to satisfy the requirement, and the timeliness of the collecting/interpreting/reporting process.

Once the collection requirements are finalized, they're sent to the appropriate collecting agency (or agencies). The collecting agency does its best to satisfy the requirement, depending upon the priority of the data needed, other priorities, and collecting tools available. These collecting agencies do their best to satisfy the collection request. It may take several partial collections to collect the needed data, or several failed attempts before an attempt is successful.

Once the raw data is collected, someone (usually several someones, to ensure accuracy) gets the data to evaluate and interpret. There are many internal (and classified) factors that enter into the picture, including whether the data is collected at one time, or over time; whether the collection request has been partially/mostly/completely satisfied, whether the data is of a, b, ... x, y, or z quality (and if that quality is sufficient to meet the tasking), and so forth.

Someone, usually the analyst, then generates a raw report, based upon the data being interpreted. Most of the time, the report will be edited for accuracy, inclusiveness, comparisons, and many other factors, then transmitted to a list of authorized recipients. At this point, the report is still "raw" intelligence, although the analyst may have used any number of previous documents, plus his own extensive experience, to make the report.

Most major combat commands and even subordinate units today have what they refer to as a "fusion center". This is where raw reports such as the one mentioned above are sent. They are, in turn, read by people specially trained to combine reports from many different sources, compare those reports to the previously known information, and decide if what they're getting is a significant change, a minor change, or no change. These people analyze data from many different sources, compare it to what they already knew, and determine if there's something important that needs to be passed on. These are also the people that end up developing briefings for senior commanders and their staff, all the way up to the White House. These people also create periodic combined-intelligence reports covering a particular weapons system, area, operational capability, unit, or some other specific grouping.

"Intelligence", then, is the process of collecting, interpreting, analyzing, collating, reporting, and distributing useful information. It's not a static process - what's learned today may change tomorrow, or may continue for months or years. Intelligence is not only classified because of the information it might contain, but also the capabilities to collect or analyze that information - sources and methods. One of the chief areas that we want to keep secret is just how very good (or bad!) we might be at a given type of intelligence collecting, or about problems and limitations our collecting methods might include.

Needless to say, we (the Intelligence community) don't always tell everything we know, or how we got the information we do have. No one wishes to give the enemy knowledge they haven't earned, or that might be detrimental to US forces, either today or twenty years from now. That makes it very difficult to judge the effectiveness of our intelligence services - not only for those not included inside the community, but for our enemies as well. Claiming the Intelligence community isn't doing its part, or has "failed", is the whine of someone that doesn't have information they feel they should have, as some type of right. The success of our military forces in responding to our enemies is proof that our intelligence is very, very good. The claims of intelligence failures in Iraq are far more wishful thinking than actual fact.

Disclaimer: I do not have access to any classified information at this time, nor am I communicating with anyone in the US intelligence community ANYWHERE on a regular or frequent basis.

Thursday, March 17, 2005

Court-Ordered Murder

I haven't written about Terri Shiavo before, because I couldn't get my ideas about the case in order. Her court-sanctioned - ordered - starvation and eventual death will begin tomorrow unless someone intervenes to stop it.

Terri Shiavo doesn't require help to breathe, or to keep her heart beating. She doesn't lie in bed totally comatose, with only minimal brain functions. Her only handicap is that she cannot move, so she can't feed herself or take care of herself. Is there any difference between Terri Shiavo and a deaf-mute quadraplegic?

Terri Shiavo has been sentenced to die because she's an inconvenience to her current husband, and an obstacle to his wishes and desires. In the meantime, she's been abused, neglected, and mistreated - frequently because of limitations her husband has imposed on those providing medical and physical care to his parylized wife.

Starving to death the most wretched, convicted mass-murderer of all time, denying that convicted felon the best of medical care possible, or failing to treat any medical or physical condition of that prisoner, however minor, would result in tens of thousands protesting, a host of lawyers filing lawsuits and appeals, and marches in every major city in America, protesting this "cruel and unusual punishment".

Yet Terri Shiavo is sentenced to die this way because it's her husband's wish, and he's testified it's his wife's wish, but with nothing but his word to substantiate that fact. Hearsay evidence at its worst, from someone who stands to gain considerably from the act.

The Sixth Commandment is, "Thou shall not kill." Our Declaration of Independence says that among our unalienable rights that Government cannot take from us, except through "due process, and only for specific reasons, is "life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness". Yet a judge has ordered Terry Shiavo to be deprived of her life - to be starved to death - to satisfy the wishes of her husband.

Terri Shiavo's death will be murder, premeditated and with malice. Both the judge who issued this order and Terri Shiavo's adulterous husband will be guilty of the crime. Whether they will succeed in killing Terri isn't yet known, but they WILL be punished, either in this world or the next. Killing Terri Shiavo is just as unconscionable as the killings at Columbine, or the deaths of schoolchildren in Belsan, Russia. Worse yet, it establishes the precedent that a judge can order someone to be killed with no more reason behind it than it's another person's wishes. This is a dangerous step down the slippery slope to tyranny, and the beginning of the end for individual freedom and personal dignity.

Affirmative Action in the Blogosphere

Roger Simon had an interesting and provocative post on Affirmative Action and the Blogosphere. Well worth a read! That provoked me to write the following.

Affirmative action in the 1960's and 1970's was a good thing. Affirmative Action was needed to prove to the people who were tasked with spending money hiring workers that they were getting what they paid for. Once those people were convinced that it didn't matter much what color skin one had, or whether you wore skirts or pants, as far as productivity was concerned, the gates were open and remain o
pen. The previous bigoted attitude was based on stereotype and personal bigotry, and as far as I can tell, most of it arose from the behavior of the "haves" of previous centuries - nobility, the Church, Government civil service, etc. This is verified by the treatment of Italian, Irish, Scottish, and Asian emigrants to the United States, by the behavior of the ruling class in colonies around the world, and still openly remains prominent in some areas of Europe, Asia, Africa, and Latin America.

Capitalism - the productivity of commerce and industry - helps break down social barriers. There are never enough GOOD, hardworking, talented workers to meet demands. Restricting hiring because of ethnic origin, skin color, gender, or other unimportant consideration, affected productivity and reduced profits. Even without AA, industry would have had to integrate sooner or later in order to remain competetive.

A similar demand doesn't exist in the classroom - or rather, it exists, but it's been rigorously manipulated to where it doesn't result in what would be normal consequences. Failure to enforce the same standards with a small portion of the population that is required of others establishes a false sense of achievement and an over-valuation of the skills and accomplishments of that segment. This, in turn, negatively affected those that depended upon known standards to evaluate someone for a position or promotion. Affirmative Action also limited the ability of corporations and others to eliminate non-productive or incompetent "minority" members. THAT is the largest failure of AA - it establishes unreasonable expectations which are only met by manipulating the environment, rather than developing individual talents and abilities.

The blogosphere is entirely different. Anyone who has Internet access and even a modest experience with computers can set up a blog in about ten minutes. Gender, skin color, ethnic origin, religion, education, age, or social status are not key factors in who blogs and who doesn't. The two things that matter most are time and desire. It takes both. A young mother of two or three, either working outside the home or working as a housewife, has less time to blog than a male teenager or a gray-haired retiree. A hundred other factors probably also enter the picture. How devoted one is to their "day job", what other things interest them, what their priorities are, how well they manage their time, or can express themselves, should probably be factored in.

Personal roles and responsibilities probably do limit the ability of some people to blog, and married women with children, or single women in professional roles probably have less free time than the average male blogger. These are due to social roles, however, rather than limitations "imposed" by other bloggers. As I wrote on my own blog here, the reason I link to some blogs and not to others is because I link to what interests me. There are many areas that I'm interested in that I haven't found a blog dedicated to. If there were, I'd link to them. As far as fewer women than men blogging, the only reasons for it that I could understand would be cultural, social, and personal.

There's another major cultural aspect of blogging that should be considered. In society as a whole, the role of most men - husband, father, primary bread-winner, defender of the hearth - requires that they look outward into the world. The roles held by a majority of women, either wholly or in part - wife, mother, homemaker, comforter, caregiver - encourages them to look more inward. Blogging is an outward manifestation of the individual. In general, then, men would be expected to be more comfortable in that role than women.

Men and women also frequently differ on what interests them, and to different degrees of intensity when those ideas are shared. This would affect what ideas they would express, and how they would express those ideas. This in turn would affect which readers they would attract, and how many different readers they would have. There is no imposed limit on blogs by - and of primary interest to - women, but it would perhaps lessen their desire to blog - or even comment on blogs. Finally, the content and inference of linking blogs and the response from readers (comments, email) would would be offensive enough to keep some people from joining the fray. This could make a very intriguing Masters' thesis for a sociologist...

There are outside limiting factors that restrict some people from blogging. While blogging itself isn't expensive, a computer, Internet service, and software aren't cheap. People near or below poverty level are probably restricted to the point where their degree of participation is negligable. I don't know of any prisoner who blogs, or of any prison that allows prisoners unrestricted access to the Internet. The lack of a good education, especially in areas of communication and self-expression, would limit one's attractiveness as a blogger, and thus one's willingness to participate. Some people (my wife for instance, who is dyslexic and has difficulty spelling) have physical disabilities that limit their desire to expose their limitations in public. There are still places in the United States - and more elsewhere - where Internet access is either limited, horrendously expensive, or just plain nonexistent (not a lot of folks blogging from the North Slope of Alaska, the Greenland Icecap, or the center of the Amazon Basin).

Who blogs and what they blog about are determined by these factors, then: individual freedom, access, income, time, energy, social position, cultural involvement, and individual preferences. Whether they - and their blog - are "acceptable" to someone else is only limited by what they write about, and how well they express themselves.

Tuesday, March 15, 2005

Whither the Democrats?

Michael Barone wrote Democrats are out of gas for Town Hall last Monday. I've been trying to fit what he says into what I see in terms of Democratic Party behavior. Somehow, the two don't seem to fit very well at all.

Michael Barone said:

What do Democrats want? Many answers, or partial answers, can be found in the 90th anniversary issue of the New Republic, in the post-election issue of the American Prospect and in various other writings by smart Democrats unhappy with the defeat their party suffered in 2004.

These writers avoid the left blogosphere's wacky claims that the election was stolen. They understand that both parties played to win and tried really hard to win, and both parties made massive efforts to turn out their vote. John Kerry got 16 percent more votes than Al Gore. George W. Bush got 23 percent more votes in 2004 than in 2000.

Unfortunately, the Democrats still spew the line that the vote was rigged, people were disenfranchised, that the Republicans won by fraud. This only makes them look like sore losers and small children. And unfortunately for a lot of the "thinking" Democrats, they still tie themselves to the "base" - exactly what many in "flyover country" hold against them and their party.

There IS evidence of voter fraud, and the evidence points to both parties. The problem for the Democrats is that there is far more evidence of voter fraud committed on the part of Democrats and groups hired by Democrats than there is against Republicans. The election shenanigans in Washington State alone are enough to make many Americans disgusted with the Democratic Party. Factor in the readily visible but heavily denied bias of the "mainstream media", a host of failed dirty tricks, a poor candidate with a penchant of exaggeration, and no agenda, and you have the makings of a political debacle - exactly as we saw last November.

Mr. Barone again:

Most of these Democrats focus on domestic policy. New Republic editor Peter Beinart has called for purging those Democrats unwilling to robustly fight the war on terrorism. But that position has not elicited much response, except for calls to show more respect for the military and a certain quietness among vitriolic Bush critics after the Iraqi election.

We're in the middle of a war - a war every thinking person can readily acknowledge, but one the Democrats deny exists. This makes the Democratic Party position on foreign policy immediately suspect by a large percentage of Americans. John Kerry didn't make the Democrat's position any easier by his idiotic "global test" comment. As more and more information comes out about the perfidity of France, China, and Russia, as we learn more about the "Oil for Food" scandal, as we learn more about illicit arms deals to Hussein, as we discover more and more foreign "leaders" who were bribed by the Iraqi government, it's harder and harder to square intelligent US foreign policy with the words and actions of the members of the Democratic Party, or their candidates for high office. Relying on the United Nations for any useful foreign policy program is getting harder and harder to sell. The exact opposite is true - the average citizen of the United States is becoming quite concerned that we even continue to belong to, or support, this inept, corrupt, bungling, and useless bunch of bureaucrats and crooks.

Mr. Barone again:

On domestic policy, the Democrats' thrust is to expand government to help ordinary people.

"Ordinary people" have figured out that at best, government merely gets in the way, and at worst, deliberately makes things more difficult. The old addage, "the less government, the better" is beginning to become popular again. Lyndon Johnson's "Great Society" program made welfare far worse than it was before. Newt Gingrich's "Contract with America" placed restrictions on welfare, and people did better.

The problem with the Democrats isn't that they have no ideas, but that they have no NEW ideas. They're still fighting the "civil rights" battle, when it's mostly been won. They're still pushing "affirmative action", when it's been shown to be detrimental. Fighting programs pushed by Republicans that have shown success, arguing to turn back the clock, isn't a very good strategy for a national party.

The Democratic Party sees every problem as something that requires a government solution, whether that's the best solution or not. When one idea doesn't work, they insist another will. Government cannot be the answer for every problem - in fact, such an attitude is in itself a severe problem.

<.....>

Again:

The New Republic's Martin Peretz takes a bleak view: Liberalism is "bookless," without serious intellectual underpinnings, as conservatism was 40 years ago. Back then, the liberal professoriate was churning out new policies, some of which became law. Today, the campuses provide liberals less guidance. The economics departments have become more respectful of markets and more dubious about government intervention. The social sciences have followed the humanities into the swamp of deconstruction. Peretz notices that liberals have no useful ideas about education. That overstates the case, but most reform ideas have come from the right, while most Democrats have focused on throwing more money at the teacher unions.

The biggest problem with the Democratic Party is that it cannot admit it had a bad idea. There are thousands of ideas that have been put forth by the Democrats over the last 60 or 70 years. Many of them have been good, an equal or even larger number have been bad. Rather than say "This isn't working, we need to do something else", the Democrats say "you're trying to destroy our legacy".

Hostile confrontation and stonewalling isn't helping the Democratic Party's perception, either. Instead of trying to work together to create the best possible solutions to today's problems, the Democrats act like spoiled children, "you have to do it our way or we'll pout". With more and more people becoming upset with the behavior of activist judges, the Democrats are destroying themselves by obstructing the appointment of eminently well-qualified, but non-activist judges proposed by President Bush.

Mr. Barone, again:

... Stanley Greenberg and James Carville ...lament that, ... voters don't think Democrats have new ideas for addressing the country's problems. By denying that Social Security has problems, "Democrats seem stuck in concrete."

<...>

The Democrats' problem is that they have proceeded for years with a goal of moving America some distance toward a Western European welfare state ... Judis looks at Europe and sees a failing model: high unemployment, stalled economies and the welfare state in retreat. Nor is raising taxes on the rich a sound strategy: Democrats did that in 1993, and Republicans won control of Congress in 1994.

Actually, I think voters think Democrats DO have ideas for addressing the nation's problems. Unfortunately for the Democrats, the people recognize that they're the same failed ideas that led to other problems in the past. The Democratic Party doesn't seem capable of learning from past mistakes - that unwillingness mentioned above to admit to error.

Democrats in power can make small, quiet moves toward redistribution, like the expansion of the earned income tax credit in the Clinton administration. Out of power, they can focus on policies for which arguments can be made by vivid anecdotes, like prescription drugs for seniors. Or they can obstruct change and wait for Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid to gobble up larger shares of the economy. But that will take time.

For now, Democrats are facing the fact that general arguments for a larger welfare state just doesn't seem attractive to most voters.

If this is indeed the Democratic strategy, it's the same disgusting strategy of wishing for failure in the Middle East. Forcing failure and then arguing that you're the only one that can save the US from it is not a workable hypothesis in the electronic age. There is no "gate" on information any more, as John Kerry found out in the last presidential election. You cannot convince enough people that a pig is a lion any longer. The truth will come out, sooner or later.

The Democratic Party has many problems. Here is a list of some of their most debilitating:

  1. The Democratic Party cannot, or will not, admit their own errors. Admitting error and correcting it is essential in the world of politics. The attempt to force President Bush to "admit mistakes" backfired during the last election.
  2. The Democratic Party cannot concieve of a solution to a problem that doesn't require a government agency or government intervention. Just as the McCain-Feingold "Campaign Reform Act" created more problems than it solved, so do most Democratic interventions.
  3. The Democratic Party is out of NEW ideas. They continue to fall back on failed solutions to non-problems as their only rallying cry. It's falling more and more on deaf ears.
  4. The entire "liberal establishment" is beginning to look more and more foolish, and "political correctness" is being recognized as the restriction on human behavior it's always been. The Democrats continue to try to push this stupidity, against greater and greater resistance. Events such as the Larry Summers incident, the Ward Churchill fiasco, and the Eason Jordan "Davos moment" have removed the blinders from many, including a large number of Democrats.
  5. The Democratic Party has no leadership. Why else would they consider Howard Dean as Party Chairman, and Hillary Clinton as their primary political contender for President? Why did they nominate a known flake with huge negative baggage as the presidential nominee in 2004?
  6. The Democratic Party has irrevocably attached itself to some ideas that a majority of Americans are finding uncomfortable, from abortion to gay rights, from gun bans to "political correctness", to affirmative action to judicial activism.
  7. The Democratic support from, and deference to, teachers' unions while American children are falling farther and farther behind in learning isn't a sterling selling point, either. Support for unions, especially unions of "professionals" such as teachers and government workers, is beginning to be a sore point for larger numbers of Americans each election cycle.
  8. Democratic voter fraud, becoming more and more obvious with each election cycle, gives the American citizenry the idea that the Democratic Party is nothing but a bunch of hacks and frauds that shouldn't be allowed near any position of power. The continued connection between the Democratic Party and groups such as Moveon.org, ACORN, and even the NAACP enhances the belief that the Democrats will do anything, legal or otherwise, to win, and that winning in and of itself is the only goal.
  9. The average American feels that there is a growing moral decay in this nation, and that it seeps out of places like Hollywood and our colleges and universities. They see the Democratic Party supporting and promoting these groups, partying and celebrating with them, and are disgusted with both. "Lie down with dogs, wake up with fleas" has a growing following in the United States. The attacks on organized religion by groups such as the ACLU, PAW, and NAMBLA, with support from the Democratic Party, cements that view in the mind of the average American, and they want no part of it.
  10. The Democratic Party's cause belli for the last ten years is to obstruct, deny, and stop anything the Republican Party does, without providing a useful suggestion of other ways of doing what needs to be done. Obstructionism for the sake of obstructionism is destructive. No honest American wants to be a party to destructive behavior.


The Democratic Party is acting like a spoiled child. It's time for it to grow up, take a good look at its deepest roots - Jacksonian, Jeffersonian leadership - and return to those roots. Otherwise it will end up like the Whig party - just a forgotten bit of history.

Toward an Unregulated Society

Baldilocks, one of my favorite bloggers (she's another blue-suiter, you know!) has an interesting article where she pushes a bunch of buttons, and asks the very real question, "Why do you have to look at WHO's blogging, rather than what they're SAYING?" (She doesn't use those exact words, but that's what I got from her comments.)

I link to a lot of different people. Some of them are white males:
Power Line, Tim Blair (a white Australian male - I guess that makes it worse), David Limbaugh (yeah, Rush's brother), Glenn Reynolds, Charles Johnson's Little Green Footballs, Major Mike, a Marine zoomie, Donald Sensing's One Hand Clapping, Rev. Mark Roberts, and Sgt Stryker (actually, I enjoy Sgt. Mom a lot more!).

I also link to several female bloggers: Baldilocks, of course, La Shawn Barber, Ann Althouse and Angie Shultz, and the beautiful Filipina Michelle Malkin.

I also link to Medpundit, who is a female general practitioner, and Dr. Bob at The Doctor is In. There are additional links to people in the active military, and others who are retired, like me. There are links to a half-dozen foreign bloggers, and to a lot of people I don't know who, what, or where they are - and it doesn't really matter. I've linked to them because of one thing - I enjoy reading what they write.

There may be more blacks, Hispanics, Asians, Europeans, and whatever that blog: I probably haven't read what they write, or I don't care much for what they say, or I don't like HOW they say it, or they duplicate what I hear from others, better. If that weren't so, they'd have found a place on my blogroll. That's the beauty of the blogosphere - it's not WHO you are, but what you say that's the final deciding point. People who read what I write and like it will come back. Those that don't, won't. It doesn't matter that I've got three hands, eleven toes, and a horn in the middle of my forehead - only what I say and how I say it will keep people coming back to my mutterings.

Anyone attempting to impose "quotas" on the blogosphere will have the same problem that people who insist that "everyone's equal" here - if a blogger can't attract an audience, their blog isn't going to be widely read. Ideas count, links count, but what counts the most are the thoughts and words put down in logical sequence for others to read. Good writing is good writing, whether its in a newspaper, in a novel, an article in a magazine, or something posted on a blog. Good writing, well-crafted sentences, provocative thought, and intelligent comments attract and keep readers. Sloppy writing, ill-considered ideas, poor expression, and lack of decent punctuation, won't, regardless of who you are, where you live, or what you do.

What works?

There are hundreds of "plans" in today's world on how to do everything from run a government to how to destroy one. Star Parker discusses one such "plan" in her Town Hall column today. There's only one problem with the majority of these plans: they don't focus on what works.

Most of these "plans" aren't geared to succeed, but to push someone's "brilliant" idea, and to put as much money into that individual's pocket as possible. Ninety percent of those ideas have been tried before, and failed. "This time it'll work" is a constant refrain. Yet when one actually digs into the plan, the same old trite programs are found, the same old worn statistics, the same old fallacies believed, the same old failed "incentives" recommended.

Two problems often overlooked spell doom for most "plans": they fail to take into consideration human nature, and they fail to take into consideration social and political realities.

Everyone in the "chattering class" assured President Bush that democracy was not feasible in the Middle East. Similar groups said the same thing about Japan, and Germany, and dozens of other countries. Today, Japan is one of the freest nations in Asia, with an again-booming economy after ten years of stagnation caused by political manipulations. Germany was an economic powerhouse before the government pushed the country into two huge holes: social programs became too large a portion of the budget, and there was a huge cutback in individual freedom that stifled initiative, destroyed motivation, and eroded the work ethic. Germany and most of central Europe are set to put themselves even further under the millstone of bureaucracy and destructive social policies by endorsing and accepting the EU "Constitution".

Everywhere you look in the world today, the nations that have a high standard of living, high standard of production, and a "satisfied" population are also nations that recognize a high standard of individual freedom and personal responsibility. When taxes get too high, productivity suffers. When taxes are reduced, there's more incentive for job growth, promotion, increasing production, and greater consumption. When restrictions become too large, new businesses don't start. Reduce the restrictions, cut the red tape, and the business community virtually explodes. When costs become excessive, more people enter poverty status. When government-imposed costs (taxes, restrictions, regulation) go down, more people's standard of living raises, and they move out of poverty. When welfare benefits outweigh incentives for working, more people go on welfare. When welfare benefits are cut, or where business opportunities exceed the benefits of welfare, the number of people on welfare drop. It doesn't matter where you look, these same actions produce the same results.

Prosperity, then, requires three things: individual freedom, limited government involvement in day-to-day activities, and personal opportunity. Government cannot create "opportunity" except in government. Government is not productive, only restrictive. The larger the government, the larger the cost and the greater restriction it places on individual capacity for growth.

The flood of illegals entering the United States is a response to limited opportunities in their own country. If their home nation were to increase opportunities by restricting government involvement in daily life, removing restrictions to business development, limiting taxes, and recognizing and protecting personal freedoms, fewer people would desire to leave. The flood isn't due so much on what the United States is doing as it is what their home nations AREN'T doing. Those governments are committing suicide by immigration: the best and brightest leave, and only those that are a part of the system, or who cannot leave or compete in their own nation, are left. Productivity enters a constantly tightening spiral as less and less local talent is available to do productive work, and the government burden to support those unable or unwilling to work increases.

There are only two remedies: to depend upon a valuable but finite resource, such as oil, to support the government, or to reform the government to offer opportunities to the average person. The second option requires a government that recognizes personal liberties, private property, opportunity for entrepreneurship, and the requirement to limit the burden of government. This is the only way to interrupt the destructive spiral, to spark internal development, and to create a sustainable population of productive individuals. All the utopian dreams, all the government-imposed plans, and all the failed social programs in the world won't do it. The only way to improve the plight of the local population is to grant them the freedom to do it themselves.

Self-Destruction

We don't have to worry about Muslims destroying Western Civilization - our judges are beating them to it.

What we call "Western Civilization" is the culmination of more than 6000 years of experimentation in how people should live. It began in Egypt and Palestine (Biblical Palestine, not the Arab morass that exists today), and slowly grew. Hebrew monotheism played a very large part in that growth, even before the dawn of Christianity. It took a long time for some of the lessons to sink in, but eventually, in 1776, the majority of the themes outlined in the Bible about how mankind should live together and govern themselves became paramount in the Declaration of Independence written by Thomas Jefferson, and the Constitution of the United States of America, authored by committee, but primarily guided by two men - James Madison and Gouverneur Morris. These documents are the culmination of 6000 years of evolutionary thought in government, and have proven themselves the strongest, most enduring form of government of free men since their adoption.

Much of our law today derives from the words handed down by God to Moses on Mount Sinai, yet our government is not a religious oligarchy. Nor are our laws a direct derivative of the words of the Ten Commandments. Yet their influence, strained through 3000 years of Jewish examination, the rise of Christianity, and the abuse of powers by past kings, princes, and popes, has given us a set of laws that are both appropriate and enduring.

Chief among our laws are those that recognize the unalienable rights of free men, including the right to "life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness". Our Constitution establishes the principles of how we will govern ourselves, with checks and balances created to keep one branch of government from assuming powers not given to it. A separate set of amendments were added to our Constitution to enumerate certain rights that Congress, the lawmaking body of our government, could not abrogate.

Today, it's not Congress that is threatening our rights, but the courts. Originally constructed to weigh and evaluate violations of law, many current members of the courts are appropriating the duties of the Congress and establishing laws and precedents that do, in fact, limit the power of the people to govern themselfes, and to force upon the people ideas and precepts that are against their principles.

Marriage laws are just one of many such areas where the courts are pushing agendas and concepts that are unacceptable to the majority of the people. Marriage is both a religious and a political concept, but the religious concept is oldest. It is a contract ordained by God Himself, and empowered with certain responsibilities and duties for both husband and wife. The most telling concept is that, ideally, marriage is the union of one man and one woman, with the expressed purpose of "being fruitful and multiplying" the population.

Marriage is also recognized as a civil institution, with many stipulations and guarantees, including support of children, inheritance, and property sharing. However, these laws derive from religious sources going back to the laws of Moses. Hundreds of generations of use and enforcement have codified them, established specifics upon specifics, and been layered extensively with manmade laws, but the basic principles remain the laws of God and those handed down to Moses.

Today's courts wish to overturn 3000 years of tradition, 3000 years of evaluation and study, 3000 years of experimentation, that have proven to stand the test of time and survive. The courts wish to force upon the people a new definition of marriage, one that is repulsive to the majority of the citizens of this nation that have a religous belief. The courts are engaged in trying to destroy religious beliefs by relegating them to the far sidelines of American livelihood and behavior. This is against the very principles upon which our society was formed, and from which our Constitution arose. Our society and our nation are being destroyed from within by a hoard of arrogant, robed priests of Political Correctness who wish to remake our nation in their image.

It's time it stopped. Judges serve based upon "good behavior". Activism in judicial robes is not "good behavior". It's time to impeach such judges, and force them from office. We need to return this nation to the rule of laws created by our Congress, not the rule of activist judges demanding adherence to the gods of political correctness.

Sunday, March 13, 2005

The Latest in Silliness Games

As I say in my "Profile", I've been (almost) everywhere. Here's part of the proof. There was another of these online a few months ago showing all the countries I'd been to, but I've lost that one.


bold the states you've been to, underline the states you've lived in and italicize the state you're in now...

Alabama / Alaska / Arizona / Arkansas / California / Colorado / Connecticut / Delaware / Florida / Georgia / Hawaii / Idaho / Illinois / Indiana / Iowa / Kansas / Kentucky / Louisiana / Maine / Maryland / Massachusetts / Michigan / Minnesota / Mississippi / Missouri / Montana / Nebraska / Nevada / New Hampshire / New Jersey / New Mexico / New York / North Carolina / North Dakota / Ohio / Oklahoma / Oregon / Pennsylvania / Rhode Island / South Carolina / South Dakota / Tennessee / Texas / Utah / Vermont / Virginia / Washington / West Virginia / Wisconsin / Wyoming / Washington D.C /

Go HERE to have a form generate the HTML for you.

Saturday, March 12, 2005

Looking for Some Help.

I'm a retired Air Force NCO and a disabled veteran. I can't look back on my 26 years in the Air Force and say "that's when I did it", because there were some 50 or 60 things that "contributed" to more than a dozen different "medical" problems I have today. Most of the problems I have result in pain which may or may not respond to medication. I'm driving my local Primary Care Manager slightly crazy, as he tries to find a way to treat this mess. Some of the things he would normally do to treat one problem actually make other problems worse. He's not to the point where he's pulling his hair out, but he's getting there...

A friend of mine recommended that I see a psychiatrist who specializes in helping people deal with chronic pain. She said that a pain-management psychiatrist would better know how to balance the need for pain relief with the side effects of various drugs, how to use non-drug methods that would help with some of my problems, and how to treat the entire set of problems, instead of trying to relieve symptoms. She also said that only a psychiatrist would be able to truly treat the neurological and neuropsychological problems that go hand-in-hand with some of my physical problems.

My problem is, I can't find one - at least, not one that will accept a Tricare Prime (military medical insurance) patient. There isn't one listed on the Internet that I can find, and I haven't been able to get in touch with a friend of mine who is a Child Psychiatrist, to see if he could recommend anyone. If anyone has a lead I'd appreciate hearing from you.

Why change Social Security?

I've discussed means of changing Social Security, but not the very harsh, straightforward fact that only by changing Social Security can we save it. That statement brings up three questions:
a) should social security be saved?
b) why should the government get involved in private retirement?
c) will all the fuss be worth it?

Social Security is a complex program - in fact, too complex, but simplification will have to wait until after other things are done. In fact, it'll be much easier to reduce the Social Security overhead burden if the program is modified than if it's left as it is now.

Social Security was originally designed as a safety net for those that didn't have a retirement account funded by their workplace. Today it's become the primary retirement for most Americans, something it was never designed to be. That fact caused the first crisis, because the program was originally a "pay as you go" program for only a few. Now it's so expensive it cannot continue the way it was originally designed to operate. Changing over to an investment-type account will be costly, but essential. Right now, there is more money committed to future retirees than the system can come up with.

In the current "pay as you go" plan, every dime that comes in is spent. It either goes to pay retirees or it's "borrowed" by the government to meet general funding requirements. The current system has five or more workers paying into the fund for every one taking money out, and there's a modest surplus. When my generation, the "baby boomers" begin retiring, the number of workers to retiree will be more on the order of two to one. That will mean that social security taxes would have to take in from each of those workers approximately $850 per month to pay me my $1500 per month government-mandated retirement (the rest is eaten up in overhead). That's a pretty steep tax, and it will only increase as cost-of-living increases raise my retirement amount. Since I come from a family that usually survives into their mid-80's, and a few of us reach 100 or more, that monthly tax bill could be a millstone around the neck of future taxpayers for 20 to 35 years. That is, it MIGHT be a millstone, unless the entire Social Security system itself went bankrupt, the government decided to cut its losses and did away with benefits entirely, and the "safety net" is jerked away from all those baby-boomers halfway through their retirement. That, too, is a possibility.

By wisely investing the money coming in, partly in government bonds, partly in mutual funds, and partly in long-range growth stocks, a person beginning at age 20 could build a retirement account worth millions of dollars by the time they're ready to retire. A person working for 45 years at a flat rate of $7 an hour would end up with about $81,000 being paid into Social Security between himself and his employer. Social Security would, under the current system, then pay that individual about $815/month for the rest of his or her life. If that money had been invested wisely, and had earned an average of 5% during those same 45 years, the individual would have a personal account worth about $304,000. The annual interest on that amount at 5% would be $15,200, or $1266/month. This could continue indefinitely, as long as the individual never took out any of the base principal, or there was no decline in the interest rates.

Most of us aren't going to work our entire lives at a fixed rate. We probably started off at minimum wage, worked hard and developed new skills, and received promotions, changed jobs for higher pay and/or better working conditions, and so forth. The above figures don't take into consideration the cost of managing such an account, which should be held to a minimum, or any changes in the amount of money being put into the account. A typical worker who starts out making minimum wage and ends up making $16-$20 an hour would have a larger account, and a better retirement. A trust officer could work out a plan to allow the retiree to take both the interest and a small amount of the principal each month, and have more money to spend each month, but a finite retirement - there will come a time when there's no money left.

An investment account, then, would earn money at a average rate while the person was working, and provide a considerably better retirement in the end. The number of people who are drawing a retirement would be immaterial, since EACH of them would have an investment account, and each of them would only be getting their own money back, with interest. The taxes being collected each month would be distributed into individual accounts, and invested. The number of workers paying into the account and the number of workers collecting retirement would be decoupled from one another. The main problem is in vesting current accounts, and continuing to pay those that were promised a Social Security retirement under the old system.

That brings us back to our opening paragraph, and our three questions.
Social Security, as a concept, is a good idea. It imposes upon people the commitment to plan for their future, to invest today for their retirement, and to keep themselves from being a burden upon their families and society in general. Whether the government should continue to be the sole manager of Social Security is another question, and one that would require several books to discuss thoroughly. If done carefully, if set up properly and carefully supervised and managed, a government retirement account program could be very effective.

I've suggested a program that would divert up to 10% of the 12.4% Social Security tax into private accounts. That 10% would be divided into 4% to be invested in Treasury notes that pay from 2.75% to 10% interest, but have a fluctuating interest rate that cannot be determined ahead of time; another 3% invested into no-load mutual funds that provide a rate of return ranging from 3% to 7% on average; and another 3% into common stocks, primarily selected for long-range growth rather than anything else, which usually return from 3% to 12% over the long run. All interests and dividends would be returned to the individual retirement account, divided up among the three investment areas, and re-invested.

What about that other 2.4%? Social Security also pays a small amount to people who are physically or mentally unable to work. That would come out of that 2.4%. So would a portion of what people would receive for a work-related disability. Some of that 2.4% would also be used to pay for the overhead of the entire Social Security program. The good thing is, once the program is fully vested, there will never be a need to raise the social security tax level - ever! Overhead costs should actually come down as the program becomes fully implemented.

There are some other benefits that could (but not necessarily would) accrue from a vested retirement account system:

  1. Employers would have an incentive to pay into an individual's Social Security retirement account instead of maintaining a separate retirement account for their employees.
  2. There would be no disruption or problems arising over changing jobs - your retirement account isn't with the company, so it's 100% transportable.
  3. Employer contributions to an individual's retirement account would still be an incentive, but a less costly one to the employer.
  4. Individuals, also, should be able to contribute an extra amount into their personal account, if they choose, to increase their retirement return.
  5. Individual accounts could be handed down to children and grandchildren. That's not possible with Social Security today.
  6. There would be limited enthusiasm for alternate retirement accounts, which should reduce the overall costs to governments and private enterprises (the US Government currently funds between eight and eleven different retirement programs).
  7. The individual could possibly borrow against his/her retirement account for emergencies, or draw down a small portion for their children's education or unusual medical bills. The individual would then have the option of making up the withdrawn amount or accepting a smaller retirement. The big thing is, the individual would have a CHOICE.


The Social Security program as it exists today is a bad investment, heading for insolvency, possibly even bankruptcy . Making the change to individual retirement accounts would be expensive, but would solve the current problems in the long run. In the meantime, how can we pay for all those people already in the system, who are going to be bleeding it white in the next 20 years or so?

I suggested a 1% federal sales tax on all retail sales except food and gasoline. That should bring in enough money to continue to pay current recipients and cover the transition costs for the program for future recipients. We should allow anyone 50 or younger to "opt-in" to the program, and subsidize their retirement account until it's at the level it would have been in if they had paid into the program from the start. Once transition costs are paid, the tax would automatically end, and Congress would be prevented from renewing it. Everyone pays for the transition, and everyone benefits in the long run. With the system fully vested, Social Security would be nothing like the system we have today, but everyone would be better off!