Thursday, May 18

Citizenship Should Be Earned and Respected

CNN says the Senate is about to pass a "broad bill letting illegal immigrants stay in the United States." My question is "how broad?"

After thinking seriously about it, I do believe that the illegals who are already here and working should be granted citizenship if they want it and IF they are willing to learn the language and history and pass some seriously tough tests to earn that citizenship. They should NOT be given a free pass just because they've been here.

It's impractical to attempt to send them all home and that's also downright unworthy of a Christian nation. Of course it we're NOT a Christian nation it doesn't matter -- pack 'em up and ship 'em out. Without Christian values, heck, nothing much matters.

But it's important that the citizenships be earned and valued. They came here for money; not for a better life. Many send half the money they make back to Mexico and they would return to Mexico if it were a decent place to live.

Our forefathers came here -- mine, at least, to practice Christianity and to build a nation. The ones who came after the nation was established came here to become Americans.

Most vocal Mexican immigrants seem to be here to change America. They want special rules; they are not interested in our history or our future. We don't have room for people like that.

The Mexican Americans who are here and who have assimilated are some of our finest citizens. Like Irish, Germans, Scots, and all the rest they have earned their way and deserve our highest respect. But they're not the ones protesting.

I hope Congress has enough sense (although I seriously doubt it) to pass legislation that gives a tough amnesty to illegals -- an amnesty that makes them decide that America is truly where and who they want to be. American citizenship has been earned by ALL of us.

It's common knowledge among psychologists that people don't value what they don't earn. Let's be sure the illegals have a chance to earn citizenship; let's don't give it freely.

Write or call your congressman and see that they are not giving away the country to people who don't respect it and will only take without giving in return.

Tuesday, May 16

Requiem For The West Wing

Sunday night marked the end of my all-time favorite TV show, "The West Wing." Many years ago there was a series called "Family" that I enjoyed almost as much and I rank "The Dick Van Dyke Show" and "Designing Women" in my list as the only TV worth watching, but "West Wing" beat them all by a mile and it breaks my heart to see it go.

Now get this -- I'm a conservative Republican. Most of the time, at least. That's the basis of my political . . .er, faith? That word comes closest to the one I want -- you have to have faith in the people you elect and I can't have much faith in Democrats. Except for Joe Lieberman. But I digress again.

The West Wing had a lot of flaws. They made mistakes -- in the last episode, for example, they began with a mistake. Bartlett said that Jefferson, Adams, etc. had set January 20th as Inauguration Day. Not so. Presidents were inaugurated in March for many, many years. The January date is a modern one -- something to do with "lame duck" legislation.

Another mistake: Once they had Bartlett flying Air Force One out of Nashville after a visit to Oak Ridge -- Tennesseans, especially Knoxvillians, giggled at that one. And Bartlett's diatribe over homosexuality was so inadequate and Old Testament oriented that it was a silly farce. They needed a real conservative to help with some of their issues, for there were more, many, many more inadequate arguments for the opposition -- but their ineptitude just made it more fun to watch.

What I loved most, though, was the respect shown for the office of President and the political process. (That respect was totally lacking in Commander in Chief; they treated it like and everyday job.) There was irreverence, sure, but never for American institutions -- there was a tenderness for the ideals, a sense of treasuring the Constitution along with a respect and downright awe of the system and those, to me, were the very essence of the show. As it is the essence of our country.

I loved the characters -- Allison Janney as C.J. Cregg was spectacular and she demonstrated her talent as an actress as we watched her grow first as Press Secretary and then into the Chief of Staff job. Poor Janney had to give up her flattering blondish hair in favor of dark brown when she took over Leo's job as Chief of Staff (probably the producers thought it gave her more credibility but it doesn't go with her coloring). It's just like TV to be that shallow; Janney's a fine actress. She could have pulled off that credibility in a show-girl blonde wig!

If the producers had any imagination at all, however, they would have explored her role as a woman in politics. Unlike Geena Davis, whose talent ranges (as Dorothy Parker once said of a young Kate Hepburn) "from A to B," Janney would make a viable and believable President of the United States. They could have put her in the Vice President's slot in the series, then killed off Jimmy Smits so she could take over the job. That would have been good for another eight years of drama, humor, repartee and political issues.

Janney says she hopes The West Wing was one of the greatest shows on television. It is. She helped make it so.

I haven't grieved over the death of a media star since I discovered -- when I was 10 -- that Rudolph Valentino had died long before my birth, but I honestly grieved when John Spencer died. Not only for his character, Leo McGarry, but for him as an actor. Finer acting doesn't appear on television or movies nowadays.

Dule Hill, who played the inimitable Charlie, said he hoped The West Wing had raised the bar for television. It did. It brought back the quick repartee-type dialog of movies of the 1930s and addressed current issues and even relationships on multi-levels. One reason re-runs are so interesting is that I always hear something I missed the first time. THAT is non-existent in most television.

One critic said that people don't quip like that in real life. I guess that depends on who you're running around with. My friends do, and I love it. Keeps me on my mental toes.

And there's where Commander in Chief erred. The writing and dialogue were just average, the kind of thing you see on soap operas everyday. Plots were unimaginative and predictable, "trudging" is the best word for them. The characters were just that -- characters. Donald Sutherland can act but he didn't have to as Nathan Templeton. All he had to do is seem a bit ominous in the background and issue a bland threat now and then.

Now I confess I watched only two Commander in Chief episodes -- the first one and the one when they came back on the air, supposedly "improved." And I've watched every episode of The West Wing that has been aired -- at least twice, more for many of my favorites. I feel I gave Commander a fair chance. It just didn't deserve more of my time.

And Geena Davis didn't deserve to win the Golden Globe instead of Allison Janney. Janney's growth in the role of Chief of Staff last year was a glorious demonstration of fine acting. Davis has never come close.

So goodbye Donna, Josh, Claudia Jean, Toby, the Bartletts, Charlie, Sam, Will and all the rest -- you "did good," guys. Thanks for the happy hours, the entertainment, the challenge to the industry. Here's best wishes for continuing success for each of you, you have earned your credentials as actors.

And thanks for a great show, Aaron Sorkin. I'll watch your new one a couple of times but the subject doesn't interest me like politics does.

Monday, May 15

Inside Bush's secret spy net

This is the headline on a piece on CNN's web site this morning.

EXCUSE ME?

CNN is going to tell me (and Al quaeda and all the other terrorist networks who are known to watch CNN) exactly what the President is doing to secure the safety of Americans?

Thank you CNN. And USA Today, who supposedly were the first to discover the secret technology that has helped keep American safe from another 9/11 attack for the last five years.

"Loose lips sink ships" was a famous saying during World War II. There were posters on street corners depicting a destroyer being blown up by a torpedo to emphasize the point. Letters to troops (and from troops) were carefully scrutinized and it wasn't a bit unusual to find a blackened sentence in a letter from a loved one who probably didn't realize he had slipped.

We were at war.

And we are at war now. Why isn't the media screaming at the reporters and editors who published this story? Why aren't they being investigated for compromising the security of the nation?

Frankly, I blame the administration as much as the media. Although Mr. Bush has managed to keep us from another attack, he has not convinced the American People that we are at war. Oh, he has said it, yes. But he has to do more than say it.

He has to put the homefront on a war basis. Roosevelt did it -- but, of course, Roosevelt had a press that understood when "freedoms" should be restrained in the name of security and the future. The press in Roosevelt's time was not hell bent on destroying America.

We are in the midst of World War III. And World War III is infinitely more dangerous to us that World War II was. The enemy is after US this time; in WWII it hadn't gotten around to us yet, it was after Europe. Judging from the support we get in WWIII from Europe, we might as well have let Hitler have it.

However, that's neither here nor there. The situation exists: we have a news media that is more interested in trying to blacken the reputation of the current administration than it is in protecting the American people. It refuses to acknowledge the dangers we face even to the extent that it is willing to put us in more danger by making the gathering of intelligence from the enemy even harder.

Does anyone believe for a minute that the terrorists did not immediately cease and desist with the telephoning and are not now hard at work devising new ways to get around the now-outed NSA spying techniques?

Thanks CNN and USA Today and the NY Times, et al. We really needed that.
For the truth about this issue, go to http://www.factcheck.org/article388.html.

Friday, May 12

Who REALLY pays taxes?



The bottom 50% of wage earners pay less than 4% of the total federal taxes. And they DARE to complain about cutting taxes for the OTHER 50%. I really don't think the poor complain...it's just Democrats who are frantically searching for something to run on. And the extremely wealthy have all those tax breaks to help them out. People in the entertainment industry, who owe the most, also pay the least.

What we really need is the FairTax.

Wednesday, May 10

Future Vote: Only Big States Elect President

Only if you live in certain states will your vote for President count if certain liberals have their way.

Oh, you can vote, all right. It just won't count.

According to Rob Richie, director of FairVote, a national, non-partisan electoral-reform organization, a national popular vote for president can be achieved without the requisite constitutional change. Accomplishing this would eliminate the possibility of one candidate winning a majority of the popular vote while the other candidate wins a majority of Electoral College votes and consequently the presidency.

But there's something radically wrong with what Richie and FairVote as well as groups like the Campaign for the National Popular Vote (NPV)(run by John Anderson, Birch Bayh and John Buchanan, three losers who were defeated in the 1980 Reagan landslide), are doing. They are switching the electoral process from the people to a few of the most populous states.

FairVote and its allies intend to persuade legislatures in states representing at least 270 electoral votes -- a majority of the 538-vote Electoral College -- to pass laws entering their states into a legally enforceable interstate contract. That agreement would bind those states to give all of their electoral votes to whichever presidential ticket wins a majority of the popular vote.

The compact wouldn't become activated until states with at least an electoral-vote majority had entered into it. A bill with bipartisan support already has been introduced in the Illinois Legislature and passed by the California legislature.

The problem with this is, of course, that the "popular" vote winner can be too easily determined by only the voters in the states having the most population: California, New York, Pennsylvania, etc. The purpose of the electoral college as it stands now is to assure that the majority vote -- the most votes from all over the country, not just one or two areas -- prevails.

But the scary thing here is the way they are going about this. They are going around the Constitution (that nasty little document that assures things like liberty and freedom and "old-fashioned stuff" like that): the National Popular Vote campaign does NOT propose to abolish the Electoral College, which would require amending the U.S. Constitution -- their plan is to get states with at least 270 votes in the Electoral College to enact identical bills requiring their own electors to ignore the winner of their state's election and cast all their state's ballots for the candidate who the state believes received more popular votes than the other candidates nationwide, even if he fails to win a majority of the popular vote.

On the surface it almost sounds like electing the President by popular vote. That's the illusion they are creating. But it isn't. Notice the language; they'll vote for "who the State believes..." Not the vote of the people...but the state. (A governor? A legislature? Some undefined person?)

Under this proposal you don't have to vote at all. Just leave it to the State....and what does that sound like?

No, you say? That will never happen in America? Well, guess what. It IS happening and the media isn't reporting it.

The states that are looking at this kind of legislation are California (has already passed the "NATIONAL POPULAR VOTE" bill: http://www.nationalpopularvote.com/npv/index.php), Colorado, Washington, Illinois and more.

This is certainly something that should be widely and nationally reported. Maybe letters to editors would call attention to this in enough communities so that we voters whose votes will be ignored can make enough noise to stop it.

Saturday, May 6

Darkhorse Marines meet locals, counter insurgency


Lance Cpl. Joshua Robinson, 21-year-old infantryman from Herrin, Ill., assigned to Mobile Assault Platoon, Weapons Company, 3rd Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment stands watch during a cordon-and-knock operation near Fallujah, Iraq, May 1.
Photos by: Cpl. Mark Sixbey


An Iraqi man reads a pamphlet given to him by Gunnery Sgt. Brett Turek, Mobile Assault Platoon Commander, Weapons Company, 3rd Battalion 5th Marine Regiment outside Fallujah May 1. The unit passed out information sheets to help the Iraqi citizens report incidents after terrorists placed an improvised explosive device outside a local elementary school.
Cpl. Luis Cervantes, a machine gunner from Los Angeles assigned to Mobile Assault Platoon, Weapons Company, 3rd Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment gives sunflower seeds to Iraqi children during a cordon-knock operation May 1. The unit passed out information pamphlets to help the Iraqi citizens report incidents after terrorists placed an improvised explosive device outside a local elementary school.
Photo by: Cpl. Mark Sixbey

AMERIYAH, Iraq (May 3, 2006) -- Marines with the Darkhorse battalion are using one of the most effective combat measures in Iraq. They’re easing off their trigger fingers.

It’s a slight shift in attitude. No guns blazing, more knocking and asking questions and Marines from 3rd Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment are using the tactic with great success.

Marines of Mobile Assault Platoon, Weapons Company, recently stepped up patrols and cache sweeps near Fallujah to counter an increase in improvised explosive device activity in the area.

“Over the past 96 hours we’ve had a dramatic impact,” said Gunnery Sgt. Brett Turek, MAP platoon commander. He said the number of IEDs planted in the area dropped sharply since the operation began.

The unit uses a cordon-and-knock method to fight the insurgency in the neighborhood, going house-to-house and talking to the locals.

“Right now we’re basically meeting and greeting the people and checking their houses to see if there’s anything suspicious in there,” said Pfc. Javier Villarreal, a 21-year-old infantryman from El Paso, Texas assigned to MAP. “Hopefully they’ll give us information.”

The friendly approach to searching is a result of the changing mission in Iraq, according to Staff Sgt. Jesse Thompson, section leader for MAP.

“We’re not here to do what we were doing last year,” he said. “We want them to understand we’re here to help them, not hurt.”

The Marines passed out flyers to inform the public how insurgents put them in danger, with phone numbers they can call for help.

Turek noticed a shift in the neighborhood’s attitude when insurgents placed an IED on the road in front of the local elementary school.

“If you target us, that’s one thing. But when you start targeting kids, we’ll get that word out to the populace,” said the 38-year-old from Hinsdale, Ill. “There is something unique about insurgents targeting kids that everybody can agree is wrong.”

It’s a part of the War on Terror that strikes a personal chord with all Marines. The Marines have soft spot for the children, often caught in the middle.

“What really gets under my skin is, we find an IED one day and the next day we’ll see kids in the same place,” Thompson said. “I’ve got four kids of my own. I can’t understand why anybody would put kids in danger like that.”

“These people around here are what we call fence-sitters, so we try a more tactful approach,” said Lance Cpl. Joshua Robinson, an infantryman from Herrin, Ill. assigned to MAP. “We greet them instead of just kicking the door in. It’s more of a soft approach to try and win the hearts and minds.”

They meet new faces while going door-to-door, while dispelling myths about Americans along the way, Thompson said. “One woman we talked to yesterday had never spoken to a Marine before. Once we went in and talked to her, she said we weren’t anything like she thought.”

“They were nervous at first, but I think we made a definite relationship,” Turek added. “Hopefully that will pay off for us in the future.”

The stepped-up cache sweeps are bringing results as well, as Marines from 1st Combat Engineer Battalion’s, B Company who scan the area for buried ordnance caches. There they find everything from AK-47 assault rifles and rocket propelled grenades to IED-making materials and mortars.

“We’ve been going pretty strong for the past week and a half,” said Lance Cpl. Jason Bright, a combat engineer attached to Weapons Company. “A couple days ago we found a pretty good size one, with a lot of AK’s, RPGs and explosives.”

The 20-year-old from San Angelo, Texas, carried a full combat load in addition to his metal detector searching for enemy munitions. He said finding buried weapons are all the motivation he needs to keep going.

“It’s always good to find something, because it makes you feel like its worthwhile having to hump this stuff around all day,” Bright said.

Although most of the people they meet cooperate, Thompson said the Marines are ready for anything.

“As soft as it may look, in the snap of a finger you can go from soft to extremely hard,” explained the 31-year-old from Orlando, Fla. “That’s why we have counter-measures set in place.”

He credited the progress in the area to the men on the ground.

“If this mission is going to be a success, it’s because of those Marines out there every day,” he said. “These are the best guys I’ve ever worked with in my life.”

Monday, May 1

Why Al Qaeda Is Retreating From Iraq

"Despite the many brickbats of the media, al Qaeda has been defeated in Iraq, and is now retreating to lick its wounds where it can. If it can. Just over four and a half years, al Qaeda has gone from being the dominant terrorist group in the world to a defeated shell of its former self. In trying to defeat the United States, al Qaeda made three big mistakes: They fought the last information war, they underestimated the American leadership, and they also managed to anger the Iraqi people.

From the moment the United States and al Qaeda began fighting in Afghanistan, the terrorists were looking for a chance to re-create images similar to those of American troops being dragged through the streets of Mogadishu in 1993 or Walter Cronkite calling the Vietnam War a stalemate in 1968. It was hoped that such a moment would cause a dramatic drop in support for the war among the American people and force the United States out of Iraq. It did not happen.

The first problem was that al Qaeda failed to realize just how much the terrain had shifted on the media battlefield, particularly the growth of alternative outlets. In 1993, CNN was the only 24-hour news network. In 1996, two other 24-hour news networks were founded, MSNBC on July 15, and Fox News on October 7. These started to establish competition. After the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001, Fox News began pulling ahead of the other two networks, largely because it was taking a position that was seen as being reasonably supportive of the American efforts.

Also on the media front, the Internet was already becoming a major player. In 1998, Matt Drudge was showing that one person with a web site could break a major story. In 2004, a few bloggers were able to start the chain of events that led to Dan Rather's retirement from CBS. In 2006, bloggers are now an acknowledged player on the media battlefield. These efforts were dismissed by al Qaeda, and as a result, while al Qaeda hit its target, the effect was grossly minimized due to the fact that the "silent majority" now had tools by which they could be heard. The media created a false picture after the 1968 Tet Offensive, but was unable to do the same in Iraq.

The next mistake was underestimating American leadership. Al Qaeda assumed that the posture of the Clinton Administration (specifically, treating terrorism as a law-enforcement issue) would continue. Instead, the Bush Administration went after al Qaeda's host (the Taliban regime Afghanistan), then proceeded to go after another regime that sponsored terrorism (Saddam Hussein's regime in Iraq - as indicated by documents recovered after the liberation of Iraq in 2003). Then, when the media firestorms hit, rather than fold as the Clinton Administration did after the CNN images were shown in 1993, the Bush Administration stayed the course. This eventually unnerved al Qaeda, and led to its third, and most fatal, mistake.

The third mistake was to wage a campaign of terror against Iraqi civilians. This was intended to intimidate them into at least acquiescing to al Qaeda's presence, if not supporting al Qaeda at all. It didn't work. Instead, as the car bombs went off , and drew CNN headlines in the United States, al Qaeda managed to become more and more unpopular with Iraqis. Even the Arab Sunnis began to view the Americans, who had displaced them from the power they had held under Saddam, as a better option than supporting al Qaeda. Eventually, the Sunnis joined the democratic process and when that happened, al Qaeda's eventual defeat was assured with increasing Sunni participation over three elections in the space of less than a year.

These three mistakes resulted in the defeat of al Qaeda in Iraq, a defeat has left that group largely discredited. Osama bin Laden is now reduced to making audio tapes with grand pronouncements which have little or no likelihood of ever becoming reality, since al Qaeda has no safe havens where they can train new recruits, nor countries willing to support them.fighting. In less than five years, al Qaeda has gone from being feared by the world, to little more than a sideshow in the long war that the United States is now."

from one of Jack Cashill's sources.

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