Gideon's Trumpet

Anything and everything blogs designed to provoke free thought and discussion.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

If You Can't Stand the Heat...

After a long hiatus from my blogspot blog, it looks like I'm back.

I'm back because there were some terms with my other blog that I found acceptable. Please note: I find it completely and perfectly acceptable for the administrators of any website to dictate the terms of their website. I fully support and endorse their decision. But as a writer I also find it acceptable for me to decide whether or not I choose to accept those terms.

I do not choose to accept them as presented. I will say no more about it because I owe much to that site. They gave me much as a writer and a person and it was not an easy decision to step away. But, things being what they are, I must make decisions for myself.

For you see, I will always consider politics a passion of mine. And part of politics is a lot of give and take, some of it less than pleasant. It is in so many ways a volatile field, and we must accept that as part of its nature. People have conflicting views and will often defend them vigorously.

If you take that away, true debate seldom happens. Granted, name calling and ad hominem attacks should be kept to a minimum, but even where those are concerned, caution must be exercised. If you cast out those users too liberally, the rest will pussyfoot around, afraid to hit on the real issues out of fear of being banned.

I'm going to have a little bit of a time with this transition, but ultimately, it's kind of freeing to know that I have greater editorial control. Over the coming weeks, I will continue to bring over archives from my older blog site to this one to build up its content. And, as time goes by, hopefully I'll see the exposure from this site that I did from the other.

Friday, July 21, 2006

BOTH Left and Right Must Face "Inconvenient Truths".

I have not seen Al Gore's new movie "An Inconvenient Truth" Believe it or not, though, I do intend to. I have heard good things about the movie and, frankly, I like getting input on all sides of the situation. But I feel that Gore's "Inconvenient Truth" cannot even begin to be addressed until we begin addressing a few of our own.

The chief "inconvenient truth" that conservatives must realize is that even if global warming is not a reality, it does not mean we should not make better use of our resources. Even if our oil reserves consist of a thousand years' supply, it does not make sense to use that oil recklessly simply expecting those future generations to solve the problems themselves. A greener and cleaner America never hurt anyone, and, ironically, the concept of environmental stewardship SHOULD be a high priority for anyone who considers themselves a conservative, the ideals being ingrained in the GOP since the days of Teddy Roosevelt.

The liberals, on the other hand, must face the inconvenient truth of a credibility gap. 30 years ago, I sat in grade school listening to the teachers tell us we had 20-30 years' worth of oil left on the planet. Ten years later, my wife sat in school and heard the same 20-30 year window. Ten years after that, our younger siblings heard the same estimate, and now, we are hearing the same dire predictions of 20-30 years' worth. In every case, the "worst case" scenario was presented as fact rather than as a "worst case" scenario, and the constant crying of "wolf" has left some of us, frankly a little skeptical of those who present the information. While global warming is a different matter, it is, essentially, being presented by the same group, and a lot of questions remain that are unawnswered (including the research of my cousin, a FLAMING liberal, who studied the effects of the RAINFOREST on global warming).

Liberals have also been unwilling to support the changes necessary to deal with what they consider to be an inconvenient truth. Even as many states linger through drought, it is impossible to find a commercially available system to reclaim greywater for reuse in watering gardens, lawns, etc. One would think an enterprising environmentalist would be a little more on the ball. And while hybrid automobiles have only recently become commercially available, I can personally attest to the fact that as early as 1979, an article on converting your car to a hybrid automobile could be found within the pages of Mother Earth News. Then there is the matter that the environmental restrictions liberals have fought for have themselves put roadblocks in the way of better environmental management; experts in our area, for instance, are warning mechanics that converting cars to use E85 ethanol is a violation of environmental laws because it messes with the emissions systems on these vehicles, regulated and mandated by the federal government.

Then there is the inconvenient truth of the "don't do as I say, nor as I do" approach. Not only are liberals NOT EMPLOYING the strategies for conservation and environmentalism that they insist are necessary as we face this "inconvenient truth", they are, in fact, standing by as people are prosecuted for trying to follow the guidelines they set forth. Recently in New York, a family had their children seized and were charged criminally because they raised their children on a vegan diet, something that would seem to "jive" with the whole environmental movement. Their convictions were overturned but they have yet to have their children returned. Based on the evidence I have seen, there were some legitimate concerns, but these are concerns that could have been addressed by a NUTRITIONIST, not by a judge and jury. And in Arizona, about 8 years ago, a mother had her son removed because she chose to live "off the land" in a tipi with him. Closer to home, a family's lack of running water in the household led to the removal of their children. They DID have water, mind you, but the fact it wasn't PIPED in was used as a basis for removal. And in Washington State, a man was shot and killed as he attempted to fight off the state's seizure of his children as they were building their home off the grid. While I can not attribute any of these seizures to liberals directly, the fact is, that in NONE of these instances were liberals willing to rally to the defense of these people, and, in fact, I was recently accused of being "paranoid" by one of the high priests of liberalism because I insisted on doing so.
I believe very firmly that we need to soberly and seriously evaluate our impact on the environment and try to lessen our impact. But another "inconvenient truth" is that only about 7% of our oil usage is for personal automobile usage; even cutting our personal usage in half would have a negligible effect on our oil dependence. Much of this oil is being used by corporations, and the same people who are preaching environmentalism are putting roadblocks in their way to expanding their businesses. No less a liberal then Ted Kennedy is preventing the erection of windmills in Chesapeake Bay because they will block his view, while his contemporaries demand the necessity of such alternative power sources.

Al Gore is right: we DO need to face an "inconvenient truth". But that "inconvenient truth" is not the one he insists it is. The inconvenient truth we must currently face is that we, as a nation, are not ready to lessen our impact on the environment. Personally, I've done as much as I can. My highest electrical bill has been under $70, even with seven children, an extra deep freeze, and 4-6 hours per day of air conditioner usage. My highest gas/water bill has been just over $100 even in the harsh days of last winter when natural gas was priced at $13.00 per mcf, approximately 2 1/2 times its current cost. I really don't think there's much more we can cut, at least not until we can afford wind/solar conversion in our home (hold your horses; we're looking into it for the long term), but even as we try to conserve, other people will insist that in doing so we are denying our children some intangible material comforts to which these outsiders feel they are rightly entitled.

Friday, June 16, 2006

Darryl Hannah: Climbing Up the Wrong Tree?

We've all heard the news about Darryl Hannah being pulled from the tree in which she was perched to assist in a protest of the development of a piece of land being used as an urban farm. It's the second major celebrity tree related story of the last two months (leading me to ask: do the TREES really WANT this publicity? But that is a subject for another blog entirely, one I hope to shortly embark upon). At first I was inclined to dismiss this, as one radio talk show host did, as another stupid celebrity story, but then I heard her side. And, frankly, I'm inclined to agree with it.

The land in question was seized almost two decades ago by eminent domain. It was given to the people of LA to use as an urban garden after the riots, and repurchased by the original owner some years later for something like $6 million. He had plans to build a warehouse, which started the people who had been using the garden in serious discussion about purchasing the land. He asked for a price of $16 million.

Now, here's where it gets really interesting. Instead of trying to take the land by asserting some stupid environmental law, Hannah and her fellow activists raised the asking price. The owner reneged on his part of the deal and was preparing to bulldoze the 14 acre tract of land, which included about 500 mature fruit trees, which cannot easily be replaced at a later time. Hannah's protest was to protect the trees from destruction until the matter could be settled in court, or more preferably, out of it like civilized beings.

Darryl Hannah's actions and those of her colleagues have been doing exactly what I have asked of liberals all along. First, they are truly trying to help the citizens of LA help themselves by growing gardens and contributing to the greening of the inner city. Second, they are employing do-it-yourself liberalism and attempting to acquire the land through legal channels rather than back door seizure methods. Third, they are participating fully in the free market system that makes this a truly great nation. If more liberals would work to make a difference in the way that Ms. Hannah and her friends are doing, I truly believe that the label of "liberal" would not be as distasteful as it is to so many of us. I applaud Ms. Hannah's efforts and believe they set a shining example for other liberals to follow.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

BlogClicker Update

I wanted to add an update to my previous article, which was removed.

I received an email from BlogClicker regarding my account, and they have checked into it, assuring me I received all of the credits I have earned. I'm not sure why this didn't record in the surfbar or on the "member status" screen, but I do know computer glitches can and do happen, and am willing to assume the best in this case. All I wanted from the beginning was a response, and it was the lack of a response, not necessarily the other issues, that pissed me off.

I do hope the customer service issues improve, but everyone is entitled to an off day.

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

"...But it HURTS the POOR!"

A recent news opinion almost made me spew my coffee across the room. Here was a state senator pushing for a sales tax on fast food, and the mandatory liberal rebuttal "but it hurts the poor" was spouted by his opponents.

Hmmm. Let's think about this, shall we? Are our constitutional rights to be construed as including a daily meal at McDonald's? The USDA doesn't seem to think so, as such purchases are not allowable with food stamps. But here we have the liberals, who demand more and more services, complaining that a sales tax applied to fast food, a luxury item if ever there was one, would unfairly jeopardize the poor.

The simple fact is, as one who has lived in those shoes, I can tell you that I can feed my ENTIRE FAMILY for less than what ONE fast food value meal costs, and some meals amount to a FRACTION of that. That's right. So if I choose the number 6 value meal, I am essentially depriving my family of one meal for my own greedy satisfaction.

Fast food actually hurts the poor by providing poor nutrition at an inflated cost. This drives up the cost of state funded health insurance programs, resulting in an increased need for tax revenue.

So, in essence, a fast food tax is ONE tax that's not inappropriate.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

"You Don't Know Me!"

But for the grace of God, I could be serving out the remainder of my life in a prison somewhere rather than developing as a writer and running for political office. It's a world most don't know and, frankly, don't consider.

A few days ago, I wrote an article detailing how some people NEED their hands held to get out of poverty. It met with all sorts of responses, and the quite legitimate point that it isn't the government's job to do that for MOST US citizens was brought up.

But as I brought up, it IS the government's job for SOME of those children because of the system WE have supported: the US foster care system. See, every year, thousands of children are snatched from their parents by a government that deems them "unfit". Although 97% of those cases will never involve the criminal courts, 580,000 children currently reside in US foster care, and only 44% of those will ever be returned to their biological parents. Although some of them will be adopted, a great number of them will "age out" in a variety of "temporary" placements that did not have the time or the inclination to teach life skills to those children.

The "liberal" side of me is the side that has stayed awake nights wondering how many of our death row inmates are the byproducts of this system. They did not begin either good or bad, they simply spent their formative years as a commodity, being shuttled back and forth from placement to placement like livestock. They never had anyone to call "family"; they never attached formative bonds to anyone. While society certainly should be protected from these monsters, society must also realize these are the monsters they, themselves, created, and for whom they must bear some level of accountability. They are not immoral, they are Amoral, having never been taught of any higher good than their own self fulfillment. It is natural that they steal; they are the center of their own universe, and their life experience has taught them that material goods are temporal and transitory. Killing can be rationalized in their own improperly formed ethos as eliminating an obstacle to their own happiness, which is, to them, the highest good. Even in the rare case that these were children removed from a dysfunctional household, it was THEIR dysfunction, and, to them, their only reality.

The causes of material poverty and crime in this country are many. They can't be boiled down to a simple cause and effect scenario. But there are an increasing number of times when government is the DIRECT cause of crimes and poverty, and when that is the case, it IS unquestionably the government's duty to remedy the problems it created.

In my case, the government DID, and for that I am forever grateful. Because, you see, the government didn't solve the problem through the time honored tradition of throwing money at it, or through a multitude of social programs, but through forcing me to take responsibility for my actions and own up to who I was and allowing me a second chance that many of our GOP politicians are trying to slam the door on for future generations. But there are thousands, if not hundreds of thousands of young men and women "aging out" of US foster care who will never have those opportunities. It is our duty as citizens to either stop allowing the government to assume the role of parent so arbitrarily or force them to take responsibility for the product of their actions, at OUR expense. It is, after all, our responsibility to stop the monsters WE create.

Monday, May 22, 2006

Put Welfare Recipients on Highway Cleanup Detail!

OK, this one's gonna draw flames from the left. But you know what? I don't care!

I still believe the food stamp program needs to be eliminated, but the elimination can't be done overnight. It needs to be done over time.

And so, I feel, for the short term at least, that food stamp and other public aid recipients need to put on orange jumpsuits and put on highway cleanup detail. If they're too disabled to do that, they can show up and shred or collate papers at the welfare office (even VERY low functioning developmentally disabled adults can do this; it would be hard to argue their way out of it).

Is that demeaning or robbing them of their dignity? Hell no! You see, as someone who has RECEIVED aid, I would gladly have done anything for the aid, which was NEEDED at the time. Simply giving me a handout and implicitly stating that I was too worthless to have anything to contribute BACK to the system that helped me was demeaning. I would GLADLY have donned a jumpsuit and picked up trash on the roadside!

But I would have tried to get on to something better as soon as I could. Sure, I did that anyway, but my point is, a lot more people would be motivated to self improvement if they were assigned tasks they felt to be "beneath them" to receive aid. And the mooches? Well, they'd hit the highway pretty quick...and I DON'T mean in an orange jumpsuit.

The idea of something for nothing is killing us as a nation. It is robbing us of our national dignity, our self worth, and the work ethic that drove our ancestors here in search of a better life. We have somehow gotten the idea that the poorest among us deserve a "milk and honey" lifestyle, while ignoring the fact that the poorest among us live better than about 95% of the world's population.

Capitalism is based on the idea that there is something better, something that can be attained through hard work and perseverance. If we simply GIVE those luxuries to the poor, their value is lost. They should be gained through work and dedication. Then there will always be a value to them.