Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Making America a Battlefield of Terror

The Senate is set to vote on the National Defense Authorization Act bill this week and S1031 and 1032 would define the whole of the United States as a “battlefield” and allow the U.S. Military to arrest American citizens in their own backyard without charge or trial. The National Defense Authorization Act (S.1867) regularly comes before Congress, but stripping Americans of their constitutional freedoms trampling the Bill of Rights is not only un-American it is treason.  

First off, this bill was drafted in secret by Senators Carl Levin (D-Mich.) and John McCain (R-Ariz.), before being passed in a closed-door committee meeting without any kind of hearing.  This is how the Obama Health bill had its beginnings. These secret meetings were the very things men like John McCain and Lindsay Graham spoke against when done by the Obama administration. 

What should concern every America is that YOU could be declared a domestic terrorist and find yourself in a military prison without legal recourse.  Remember when our Homeland Security said to be wary of people who buy gold, own guns, or are past military?

This means Americans could be declared domestic terrorists and thrown in a military brig with no recourse whatsoever. The Department of Homeland Security has already shown an agenda to single out average Americans as the new target of the war on terror.  The entire war on terror has been shifted to target the American people. By defining mundane activities as potential terror, those in power want to create a society where everyone feels under suspicion and guilty even if they are a completely law-abiding citizen.

The “war on terror” has created a culture of fear in America.  . Using this phrase has actually undermined our ability to effectively confront the real challenges we face from fanatics who may use terrorism against us.

The damage these three words have done is infinitely greater than any wild dreams entertained by the fanatical perpetrators of the 9/11 attacks when they were plotting against us in distant Afghan caves. The phrase itself is meaningless. It defines neither a geographic context nor our presumed enemies. Terrorism is not an enemy but a technique of warfare—political intimidation through the killing of unarmed noncombatants.

But the little secret here may be that the vagueness of the phrase was deliberately (or instinctively) calculated by its sponsors. Constant reference to a “war on terror” did accomplish one major objective: It stimulated the emergence of a culture of fear. Fear obscures reason, intensifies emotions and makes it easier for demagogic politicians to mobilize the public on behalf of the policies they want to pursue. The war of choice in Iraq could never have gained the congressional support it got without the psychological linkage between the shock of 9/11 and the postulated existence of Iraqi weapons of mass destruction. 

Although I am not a fan of political liberals,  Zbigiew Brzezinski the former National Security Advisor for Jimmy Carter said the term “War on Terror was intended to generate a culture of fear to obscure reason, intensifies emotions an make it easier for demagogic politicians to mobilize the public on behalf of the policies they want to pursue.”

Our politicians have created a fear industry in America, and this fear is centered in the world of political propaganda. This is not something new.  Herman Goring, a Nazi politician, stated in an interview during the Nuremberg Trial, “Why would some poor slob on a farm want to risk his life in a war when the best that he can get out of it is to come back to his farm in one piece.  Naturally, the common people don’t want war; neither in Russia nor in England nor in America, nor for that matter in Germany.  That is understood.  But, after all, it is the leaders of the country who determine the policy and it is always a simple matter to drag the people along, whether it is a democracy or a fascist dictatorship or a Parliament or a Communist dictatorship.  He also went on to say “…voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders.  That is easy.  All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger.  It works the same in any country.”

If we are to survive as the America established by the founding fathers we must speak out against the treason being committed by those we have trusted to lead us.  If not, I am afraid that we will become the Russians in the Stalin era just waiting for prison or death. 

Aleksandr I. Solzhenitsyn in retrospect of the destruction of his country said, “And how we burned in the camps later, thinking: What would things have been like if every Security operative, when he went out at night to make an arrest, had been uncertain whether he would return alive and had to say good-bye to his family? Or if, during periods of mass arrests, as for example in Leningrad, when they arrested a quarter of the entire city, people had not simply sat there in their lairs, paling with terror at every bang of the downstairs door and at every step on the staircase, but had understood they had nothing left to lose and had boldly set up in the downstairs hall an ambush of half a dozen people with axes, hammers, pokers, or whatever else was at hand?... The Organs would very quickly have suffered a shortage of officers and transport and, notwithstanding all of Stalin's thirst, the cursed machine would have ground to a halt! If...if...We didn't love freedom enough. And even more – we had no awareness of the real situation.... We purely and simply deserved everything that happened afterward.”

Are we just going to sit by or are we are not going to take it anymore? 

Friday, November 25, 2011

Career Politician--Student of Niccolo Machiavelli

This week there has been some discussion on the last blog about Christians in politics.  I understand the skepticism of those who view the political process as corrupt and believe that if you are involved in the political process you cannot help but become corrupt yourself.  I agree that the political process has lost it intent to serve the people when one becomes a career politician.  A career politician is only concerned with one thing and that is gaining power and control over the people that they are sworn in to represent.  I may be mistaken in my observation but there is a vast difference between a career politician and a statesman.  

The career politician has based their politics on the Italian philosopher named Niccolo Machiavelli.   He is known for outlining a ruthless strategy for seizing and holding political power. There were three step used in his quest for taking power from the people: 1.) never show humility, 2.) arrogance is more effective when dealing with others, and 3.) Morality and ethics are for the weak, therefore resulting in the freedom to lie, cheat, and deceive to suit their own interest. 

As I look over the individuals who have been elected to serve the people I find these basic steps of seizing power from the people being used daily in many of our elected officials.  They are willing to manipulate the people for their own purpose.  How were these people elected?  Well, first off, they say what they think the people want to hear so that they can gain the votes that will get them into office. Then, once in office, they forget what they said to the people and start pushing their own agenda.  The problem is once elected; the people do not hold them accountable for what they said. What should happen in the next election is to vote them out—fire them!

Our country is full of career politicians who have adopted Machiavellianism as their method of deception. They convince voters that they have their interests at heart.  During the campaign process they seem to wax most eloquent when they are pointing out the flaws of those they are campaigning against.  Rather than stick to the issues that need to be addressed, they focus on personalities and avoid telling us what they believe should be done.  If a politician fails to answer the question he or she is without question a career politician. 

To change this “we the people” must hold the career politician accountable for their actions.  When you hear statements like “we must pass the bill to find out what is in it,” is Machiavellianism at its best.  This is the action of a cold-blooded, deceitful manipulating career politician.  This is the characteristic of a person who has only their interests at heart.

If we are to change the current trend in politics we must stand up and change what is happening.  That means we must put people in office that will put terms limits on the office, eliminate retirement from the office, be held to an ethical code of conduct, be open and transparent in their actions and accountable to the voters.  If we cannot demand these from our politicians then we must live with Machiavellian politics.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

The Door of Opportunity--Politics

In October of 2010,  I took the oath of office to serve on our local Town Council.  I was appointed not elected to this position.  Several residents were concerned about the activities of some members of the council but felt frustrate as how to handle the situation.  Having the same concerns, I felt someone needed to act. When the position opened, I applied and was accepted. Now it is always the easy road to travel that does not require one to be active in the journey.  Just sit back and enjoy the ride, and don’t get involved in the mechanics of the trip.  Like one slogan states, “Leave the driving to us”.  Well, I didn’t like the driver nor did I care for the direction he was taking us on this journey. So I accepted the position and then chose to run as a candidate in this year’s election.  I won with 96% of the votes cast.   I did not actively campaign nor spend money on the campaign.  Having lived in this community for a total of 26 years people know me and felt I could be trusted and gave me their support.

Some members of my family, however, questioned my political career and asked, how can a Christian become involved in politics?  First, Christian lives need to be in the service of the LORD 24 hours a day-- every day.  We are called of God to serve.  That service includes opportunity and position.  I will not deny the uniqueness of the political arena, but it is no different than the ethical difficulties faced in business, labor or in the professional fields.  But, you say politics are dirty.  This is true and so is business, labor and all the professional fields.  Anywhere there is sin there will be "dirt".

My answer to my family members who asked the question, is based on whether my political activism is seen as an obedient servant of the LORD or a questionable career pursuit.  My family fails to understand that serving in the political arena is not separate from the gospel.  It is as much a ministry as any office in the church.  The pursuit of a political position is not an activity that is separate from Christian service.  If God ordains governments, God can call us to minister in what He has ordained.

Since there are no Christian political parties, I serve as an Independent and have no allegiance to a particular political party or platform.  As a Christian I have a duty and commitment to the ethical conduct required of a follower of Jesus Christ. In the greater picture of the role of a Christian is that of maintaining values, beliefs and motivation that are centered in the message of the gospel. 

I understand that the role of the government is not assessing motivation. Governments are dealing with a vast assortment of crises, and trying to control social antagonisms and division which does not leave much time for doing what is always right. Christians, however, have a prior commitment to “do good,” to express the message of Jesus Christ in positive ways and in the midst of strife and division, the Christian can become the voice of reason.

Again my family asks, “Can Christian politicians really do much that is truly Christian in the political arena?”  I would answer, yes.  It is my duty to speak and act forthrightly on social and political issues and the way the government carries out these duties in a manner that is transparent and accountable to its citizens.  I also understand the importance of guarding against moral arrogance in presuming to speak the mind of God as it pertains to contemporary problems.  Whether we like it or not, we bear co-responsibility for one another's lot in life and the moral direction of our society.  We can preach from our pulpit’s the message of the gospel without ever bearing the co-responsibility for the moral decline of our society. We become partners in the sins of our nation when we put into office those who have questionable character and lead us down the path of destruction.  There is no such thing as “individualistic Christianity” or such a thing as an individualistic politics for the Christian.  You are part of the solution or you are part of the problem.

If we are to see a change in the direction of our nation, state or local government we must walk through the doors of opportunity and become the voice of reason in a country gone mad.  It is my purpose to fulfill my duties with integrity, accountability, and justice and bring sanity back to my area of the world.  What are you going to do?  You can show your faith by talking or by acting.  You must decide.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Obama's New Christmas Tree Tax

President Obama’s Agriculture Department today announced that it will impose a new 15-cent charge on all fresh Christmas trees—the Christmas Tree Tax—to support a new Federal program to improve the image and marketing of Christmas trees.

First let me say, I have never been a proponent of the Christmas tree.(I have resisted this pagan practice for years.) That’s not to say we don’t have one.  My wife’s strings lights all over the house, sets up little porcelain villages,  decorates the Christmas tree with a variety of ornaments made by grandchildren, some given to us by friends and some she has purchased and some she found at garage sales, to the point it is hardly resemble a tree at all.   Before I get side tracked let me get back to Obama’s Christmas tree tax.

The total number of Christmas tree sold in the United State each year is from 30-35 million.      (  National Christmas Tree Association, USDA Census of Agriculture)  That means the tax will raise about $5,250,000 each year.  If Obama is looking to improve the image of the Christmas tree he’s not going to do much for its image with that amount of money.    

I just happen to have a BA in Communication-- heavy on the Television production.  I have even taught television production at a local university.  So I have a little background in producing a TV ad.  It has been estimated that the average cost of producing a 30-second national TV commercial is nearly $350,000.  If you were to run that 30 second ad to get the most viewing audience you might want to run it during say a Super Bowl event.  Reuters has confirmed that the 2011 Super Bowl commercials cost around $3 million dollars for a 30 second spot.  That does not include the costs and fees for actors, equipment, ad agencies, directors, crew and other personnel.  It looks like Mr. Obama needs to raise the Christmas tree tax to at least $1.00 per tree if he is really going to improve its image.

There are 21,000 Christmas tree growers in the United States who would receive about $250 each to help them improve the image of the Christmas tree.  But wait!  There is more to this story.  There will be a Christmas Tree Promotion Board established by the Secretary of Agriculture.  The purpose of this board is run a “program of promotion, research, evaluation, and information designed to strengthen the Christmas tree industry’s position in the marketplace; maintain and expand existing markets for Christmas trees; and to carry out programs, plans, and projects designed to provide maximum benefits to the Christmas tree industry” (7 CFR 1214.46(n)).  And the program of “information” is to include efforts to “enhance the image of Christmas trees and the Christmas tree industry in the United States” (7 CFR 1214.10).

Whoops! I guess the $5.25 million will not be used for advertising nor will the 21,000 grower get a portion of the collected money.  The Federal government directs that the revenue generated by the 15-cent fee goes to the Board appointed by the Secretary of Agriculture to carry out the Christmas tree program established by the Secretary of Agriculture.

I wonder if this will be like the Popcorn Board?  Yes, I said Popcorn Board.   The Agriculture Secretary appointed two members to serve on the Popcorn Board. They will serve a three-year term of office beginning Jan. 1, 2012 and ending Dec. 31, 2014.  The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) provides oversight of the board in accordance with the Popcorn Promotion.

Wow!  Is this how Obama is going to create jobs along with helping the image of the Christmas tree?  I don’t know but I am concerned with the image of the Christmas tree.  Let me share some facts with you that may help with the image of the Christmas tree.  These facts came from Mr. Obama’s home state-- http://urbanext.illinois.edu/trees/facts.cfm
  • Christmas trees have been sold commercially in the United States since about 1850.
  • The first decorated Christmas tree was in Riga, Latvia in 1510.
  • Growing Christmas trees provides a habitat for wildlife. (Does this mean we might not be able to cut them down in the near future--environmental reasons.)
  • Recycled trees have been used to make sand and soil erosion barriers and been placed in ponds for fish shelter.
  • The first Christmas tree retail lot in the United States was started in 1851 in New York by Mark Carr.
  • Christmas trees take an average of 7-10 years to mature.
  • Christmas trees remove dust and pollen from the air. (Another environmental reason not to cut down Christmas trees—this way we don’t have to regulate dust.)
  • 100,000 people are employed in the Christmas tree industry. (This might be used by Obama as the number of " jobs saved" because of the Christmas tree tax, I mean fee.)
  • In 2002, 21% of United States households had a real tree, 48% had an artificial tree and 32% had not tree. (I would prefer to be in the 32% but my wife will never agree.)
  • 73 million new Christmas trees will be planted this year. (This will change the carbon footprint for many “World Destroyers like yours truly.)
  • There are over 500 Christmas tree growers in Illinois. (Why would this catch my attention?)
  • Teddy Roosevelt banned the Christmas tree from the White House for environmental reasons. (I hope Mr. Obama does not read this fact or there will be no real Christmas trees because of environment reasons.)
  • In the first week, a tree in your home will consume as much as a quart of water per day. (With water becoming as precious as oil this is a major drain on our water supply.  It would be around 227 million gallons of water to take care of all the real Christmas trees.)
  • Real Christmas trees are involved in less than one-tenth of one percent of residential fires and only when ignited by some external ignition sources.
  • In 1998 more than 32 million Real Christmas Trees were used in the U.S. Of these, only 0.00093% were ignited in home fires.
  • 93% of real Christmas tree consumers recycle their tree in community recycling programs, their garden or backyard.
  • In the United States, there are more than 4,000 Christmas tree recycling programs.
  • In 2007, 23% of real Christmas trees sold were from chain stores, 9% by non-profit groups. 12% from retail lots and 21% from choose and cut farms.
  • In 2007 the retail market value of the 31.3 million trees purchased at the mean average purchase price of $41.50 was $1.3 billion..
  • The first printed reference to Christmas trees appeared in Germany in 1531.
I guess I have done my 15 cents worth of changing the image of the Christmas tree.   

Birth of a New Tradition- Keeping American Money At Home.

A reader of this blog wanted to know how to change the financial drain on our economy, the loss of jobs and a weakening dollar?  Well, my aunt sent an Email that is an answer to what we can do to change the financial drain on the American economy.  I thought I would share these ideas with you.

As the holidays approach, the giant ...Asian factories are kicking into high gear to provide Americans with monstrous piles of cheaply produced goods and merchandise that has been produced at the expense of American labor. This year will be different. This year Americans will give the gift of genuine concern for other Americans. There is no longer an excuse that, at gift giving time, nothing can be found that is produced by American hands. Yes there is!

It's time to think outside the box, people. Who says a gift needs to fit in a shirt box, wrapped in Chinese produced wrapping paper? Here is a gift for Everyone -- yes EVERYONE gets their hair cut. How about gift certificates from your local American hair salon or barber?

A Gym membership is appropriate for all ages who are thinking about some health improvement.

Who wouldn't appreciate getting their car detailed? Small, American owned detail shops and car washes would love to sell you a gift certificate or a book of gift certificates.

Are you one of those extravagant givers who think nothing of plunking down the Benjamin’s on a Chinese made flat-screen? Perhaps that grateful gift receiver would like his driveway sealed, or lawn mowed for the summer, or driveway plowed all winter, or games at the local golf course.

There are a bazillion owner-run restaurants -- all offering gift certificates. And, if your intended isn't the fancy eatery sort, what about a half dozen breakfasts at the local breakfast joint. Remember, folks this isn't about big National chains -- this is about supporting your home town Americans with their financial lives on the line to keep their doors open.

How many people couldn't use an oil change for their car, truck or motorcycle, done at a shop run by the American working guy?

Thinking about a heartfelt gift for mom? Mom would LOVE the services of a local cleaning lady for a day.

My computer could use a tune-up, and I KNOW I can find some young guy who is struggling to get his repair business up and running.

OK, you were looking for something more personal. Local crafts people spin their own wool and knit them into scarves. They make jewelry, and pottery and beautiful wooden boxes.

Plan your holiday outings at local, owner operated restaurants and leave your server a nice tip.  How about going out to see a play or ballet at your hometown theater or visit the art center.

Musicians need love too, so find a venue showcasing local bands.

Honestly, people, do you REALLY needs to buy another ten thousand Chinese lights for the house? When you buy a five dollar string of light, about fifty cents stays in the community. If you have those kinds of bucks to burn, leave the mailman, trash guy or babysitter a nice BIG tip.

You see, Christmas is no longer about draining American pockets so that China can build another glittering city. Christmas is now about caring about US, encouraging American small businesses to keep plugging away to follow their dreams. And, when we care about other Americans, we care about our communities, and the benefits come back to us in ways we couldn't imagine.

THIS is the new American Christmas tradition--support American workers, save jobs, keep the dollar at home and help improve our local economy.  Merry Christmas.