Wednesday, January 30, 2008

I approved this message part 2b - Immigration

As I promised Ashley B back when I posted I posted on Foreign Affairs, I'm going to post a comment or two on immigration. This topic goes well with my discussion on Foreign Affairs and I had originally planned to bring it up then. Thanks to Ashley for reminding me.

When I look back at my previous posts, I commented somewhat on immgiration back in June (see that post here). At the time, I was complaining about the argument that so many make, that there are jobs that Americans simply won't take. I won't repeat everything I said there, but to summarize, I said this argument was baloney.

With that argument taken away, the question is what to do about the immigrants? Well, the first thing is to acknowledge that all Americans trace their roots back to immigrants. If you believe the Biblical account of creation, and I do, we all trace back to somewhere outside Baghdad (wouldn't Saddam be proud). Every other account I've seen also traces humanity to somewhere in Mesopotamia. Either way, we're all immigrants.

That means we should allow immigration, but for economic reasons, we should limit it. But wait, there are already laws on the books to handle that, why don't we just enforce the laws. Beginning the day I take office, I will endeavor to STOP illegal immigration. Instead of deciding for myself which is best, a wall, electronic surveillance, etc, I will trust the head of ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) to make that decision. Then I will empower him (read that $$$) to accomplish the goal. If it's not accomplished within one year, a new head of ICE will be found.

Once that matter is settled (the first day in office), I will take up the matter of illegal immigrants currently in the US. This is quite delicate. These individuals are human: man, woman or child and we have used their labor for the last several years. Yes, they are law breakers, as my conservative friends will point out. But they came here with hope. They should not get preferential treatment over legal aliens, but as humans we can't simply deport them all.

I will be accused of providing amnesty, but I believe we have to let them stay as legal aliens for a time. I believe (not certain) that legal aliens can stay for up to two years on a work visa. The illegals should be given this same length of time as a "pass". Then, if they are willing to exit the country, they can reapply for legal immigration. Due to the number of people involved, it may be necessary to phase in the two year "pass" so that they don't all exit at the same time.

Any comments?

Monday, January 28, 2008

The State of the Union

I promise, I will get back to my presidential platform building soon, I just had a few pet peeves pop up and I can't stand it..

Tonight was the State of the Union address. As required by the Constitution, the President must "from time to time" address the Congress. Think of it as the CEO telling the Board of Directors where he plans to take the company. It's a good time for him to challenge the congress on the direction he wants to take the company. He is, after all, the President.

I have several pet peeves with this whole setup. If I do this right, I will offend my conservative friends as much as my liberal friends.

First of all, this is supposed to be an address to congress. For most of Bush's 50 minutes, he did pretty good at this. But then he lapsed into talking to the TV.

Second, it's supposed to be "from time to time". Bush has done a pretty good job speaking to the American people when it's required, do we really need a State of the Union every year?

Third, why have a response? Why must the party not in power feel the need to contradict the president and give their own view? Frankly, the few times I've listened to (or read) the response, it just sounded bitter. This year, the Democrats even carried it further, generating a pre-sponse in some cases and generating a written response immediately after they President spoke. Who are they fooling? That's not a response.

Lastly, the political pundits. I made the mistake of listening to two tonight. One called Bush's speech and understandably marginal speech by a lame duck. Give me a break. Walter Cronkite didn't use that many cliche's. Even Dan Rather could be more original.

None of this addresses the CONTENT of the speech, rather it addresses the STYLE of the speech and it's responses. Maybe if there was truly some content, I would have commented on it.

When is a rebate not a rebate

Currently, congress and the president are clamoring all over each other to give a rebate to the American people. The current plan is $600 per individual, $1200 per couple and $300 per child. A family of four could get a check for $1800.

I'm not holding my breath. In fact, I cringe every time I hear the news.

The first thing that bothers me is that it is NOT A REBATE!! (Pardon the shouting, it's really not good for my blood pressure). I checked and has 12 definitions for rebate, the first being "a return of part of the original payment for some service or merchandise; partial refund." Many of the people targeted by this so-called-rebate actually never paid anything in taxes. So a partial refund to them would be $0. Actually, that's a complete refund.

The next thing that bothers me is the reason for the so-called-rebate. It's so people will spend it. Hmm. with the push towards digital TV's, that would make a nice down payment. I can see the ads now "We will cash your so-called-rebate check for you and use it as a down payment." Mark my words and when the ads come out, come back and show me (or maybe I'll show you).

Yes, some economic stimulus might be needed, but I'm not sure this is the prescription. How about a national economic education plan that says you can't spend yourself out of debt?

Thursday, January 24, 2008

I approved this message part 3 - Isolationism

This is the third plank in my platform building. The subject matter is isolationism vs becoming entangled in the affairs of other nations. There is one presidential candidate who is currently advocating that we stay out of the business of other nations.

The quote about entanglement goes to Thomas Jefferson when he said "Let the general government be reduced to foreign concerns only, and let our affairs be disentangled from those of all other nations except as to commerce ..."

Good ole' TJ made a lot of sense. The more we get into the business of other nations, the bigger the mess.

But even in TJ's day, there were exceptions. The Barbary Wars were fought during his day and another quote from him was "Millions For Defense, Not One Cent For Tribute." Basically, these bad guys (evil doers if you allow me the term) were raiding American ships and taking hostages. Common policy at the time was to pay ransom (tribute) to the bad guys. TJ disagreed. He helped built up a good Marine force and fought the Barbary wars. Ever hear the Marine song? The shores of Tripoli (modern day Libya) is where one of the famous battles was fought.

In seems to me that today is not so different from TJ's day. Oh, we don't have pirates raiding ships, but we do have them flying planes into buildings. And they don't demand ransom, but they do make other demands.

So based on TJ's wisdom, I think it's sometimes necessary to become entangled. This lesson was also learned after WW I, when the US sought to stay out of WW II. But we got drafted with the sinking of the Lusitania and Pearl Harbor. Same goes for 9/11.

Some may disagree, but that takes care of us getting entangled in Afghanistan and Iraq, probably in other Middle Eastern Nations. And possibly in other nations, to avoid another 9/11. But what about the affairs of other countries? Say a country in Africa or South America where possibly a dictator kills his own people?

This becomes dicey. These nations probably pose no serious threat to the US, they can't fly planes into our buildings, nor attack from the sea as the Japanese did. Our standards and our democracy may not fit them.

I believe that there are some issues that transcend governments and nations. There are times when, as human beings, we should step in and either 1) provide assistance or 2) provide defense. This means that we should provide aid when a country needs it, provide food to the people. It may be necessary to work around the leadership of the country and work with some people who fight against the leaders. And there may be a time when it is necessary to topple an existing government. If this was reviewed in the 1930's & 1940's, Hitler's extermination of the Jews would be a good example, in the 1970's Idi Amin (killed an estimated 500,000 and at one time bodies floated on the Nile in quantities sufficient to clog a hydro-electric dam).

If an existing government is toppled, it may be necessary to rebuild, just was we rebuilt Germany and Japan after WWII.

Note that Iraq falls into this category (in addition to the defense). Saddam was definitely a bad dude. With machines that were effectively meat grinders for entire human bodies, the man needed to be removed from power.

Where do you draw the line between an Idi Amin/Saddam Hussein/Hitler type and a Kim Jon Il? Which leaders/nations should be taken out and their countries rebuilt? Well, you can't face them all at once. You have to tackle them one at a time. And you have to hope that, like Libya's Muammar al-Gaddafi, some of them will have a change of heart before you get around to them.

This is Randy Barnett and I approved this message.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

I made the bed

I just completed a task that I deem to be silly - making the bed. Seriously, we slept in the bed last night and it is messy, but who's going to see it? Tonight, we'll get in the bed and mess it up again, so why make it? Ben Franklin once said that a job done well need never be done again. Good Ole' Ben obviously never made the bed. Tomorrow morning it's going to need it again.

There's no one coming over and even if they did, they wouldn't come upstairs. No one would know if I skipped this menial task. No one except my wife (my son too, but he couldn't care less).

So, given the way I feel about it, why would I do this? Simple - my wife asked me to. Since I'm the last one up, I get to make the bed. If I get up before she goes downstairs to leave, she will make it, or we get to make it together, but since I slept a little late, she asked me to do it.

And I know that when she comes in this afternoon, she will notice it. She may not say anything, but if she does it will make my day complete. Regardless, she will notice it. And anything that I can do to make her just a little happier, well it makes me happy. Not that I do this for the reward, no even if she doesn't notice I'd still make the bed. Simply because she asked.

Somedays, I don't make the bed. I always have a good excuse, I forgot or I was too busy. I usually explain it to her. She doesn't get mad, occasionally she will remind me how important it is to her (I still don't understand). But I know she will forgive me and she will not hold a grudge. She's wonderful that way.

Even in all her wonder, she's not perfect. I think she's beautiful, strong and wonderful, but I know she's human and therefore must have faults, even if I don't see them (and certainly wouldn't mention them if I did).

So why write about this? Well, the last several days, I've been involved in a multi-way discussion on God's Grace and Truth. (Read about it here). While making the bed, I realized that my making the bed was somehow tied to the topic.

Sometimes I don't understand why God asks me to clean up a part of my life. It seems silly. No one will notice and it really won't make a difference. Sure I can clean something up, but it's just going to get messed up again. So why do it?

Because I love Him. I know that He will notice. And maybe, just maybe He will say somthing about it. But even if He doesn't, I'd still do it. I don't do it for the rewards, I do it because He loves me.

Unlike my wife, He is perfect. He has no faults. Some of the folks in the other discussion just don't get that, but it doesn't change the facts. So if He's perfect and my wife isn't (she's close), how much more should I do for Him?

Oh, and if I don't do what He asks? He'll forgive me. I always have a good excuse, I forgot or I was too busy. I usually explain it to Him. He doesn't get mad, occasionally He will remind me how important it is to him (I still don't understand). But I know He will forgive me and He will not hold a grudge. He's wonderful that way.

God, please forgive me when I fail you. I know it happens way too often. Please point it out to me when I do. I want to please you, even when I don't understand the reasons. Amen.

Now, I think I'll go check that bed one more time...

Monday, January 21, 2008

Weekend Gambling - the evils of gambling

This past weekend, my wife and I slipped out of town over the mountain to nearby Ashville, NC. We were hoping to play in the planned 4inches of snow, but alas, less than one inch fell, no playing. We did manage to do a lot of talking and planning, which was our major goal.

On Saturday afternoon, our weekend was shattered along with a window on our car. Seems someone saw my wife's pocket book on the floor and decided he wanted it. (Lesson#1 - always hide valuables). We immediately called Buncombe County Sherrif and started calling credit cards (Lesson #2 - you & wife should have different credit card numbers). After four calls from the business man and two hours of waiting, the deputy showed up to take our statement. No evidence was collected. He gave us no hope of recovering any of the stuff and reported that there were several such incidents (then why aren't they trying to stop it?)

Our afternoon/evening shot, we ate dinner at a local restaraunt (using a different card I have) and we went back to the hotel with the window poorly plastic-ed over. The next morning, my son (who was still home) called and said they caught the guy. A nearby township had caught the guy who broke in and they had my wife's purse. He had broken into another car and the people got quicker response. They saw a van on the street that had been parked near them, the man was stopped and arrested in possession of my wife's purse.

The police officer told us that the man had gone to Harrah's Casino and gambled & drank all his money away. He then drove 40+ miles on the interestate before trying to get some cash. He was arrested for DWI, Breaking & Entering & posession of stolen property. It will be up to Buncombe County to determin if he's arrested for B&E of our car.

This brings me to the evils of gambling. I admit, I can find nothing Biblically wrong with gambling. I even wager a small bet from time to time. When I went to Vegas last August, I played slots (around $20 if I recall). But the price of having a Casino in the area is that thugs like this guy will come around.

When you gamble away money you need for something else, you're wrong. The casino's cater to these people and they should share in the blame. When a casino comes to your area, you can expect more trouble like this.

Oddly enough, one of the discussions my wife & I had was around moving, possibly to the area we visited. Our minds are set, that's not where we want to be. Sure the same thing could happen anywhere, but we don't need to improve the odds for the bad guys.

Friday, January 18, 2008

I approved this message - Foreign affairs

I've been extremely busy and unable to get to my second point until today. But, as previously noted, my popularity seems to have managed quite well even in my absense. 100% approval rating of my previous comments and Google front page status can't lie - I'm in it to win.

But enough grand-standing. Both of my regular readers will recall that I'm outlining planks in my political platform for my presidential run. By doing so, my goal is to actually establish WHY I support a certain candidate as soon as I identify that candidate.

My first point was on national defense, this post is on foreign affairs. Now I truly believe that if one of the active candidates makes it to the White House, her husband will be involved in several foreign affairs. However, I'm talking about, not about sexual relationships, but our political relationships as an American nation with other nations. (Note that I did not speak about any candidate, but the candidate's husband. And I didn't even mention a name.)

I believe that foreign affairs and how they are handled is the second most important topic affecting the president. How we interact with other countries affects our national defense (#1 priority) is directly related to isolationism (#3) and greatly affects our economy (#4).

I am concerned about relations with the following countries/areas: Russia, Pakistan, Iran, India, Europe, Africa, South America, China (including trade) and Mexico (including immigration).

Russia is still our long term greatest enemy. As the second nuclear power in the world, they still have a strong political hatred of America and work hard to promote our other enemies. We need to establish semi-regular summit meetings to see where we agree and to strengthen our relationships. We have nothing to lose and everything to gain. The economic market in Russia is not as big as other countries, but it is still significant. With joint ventures between our two countries, we can accomplish much more. We have no reason to fear them and no reason to hate them.

Our greatest short term enemy is Iran. Looking at our history with Iran (going back to before the last Shah), we don't manage our relationships with Iran very well. Our best solution with Iran is to avoid confrontation, but to continue our position of strength. We need to allow Israel to do whatever they want to Iran (which will probably result in the destruction of Iran if allowed 100% of Israeli will). While Iran is greatest short term enemy, we can outlast them and develop strong ties with them when (or if) their government changes.

It is difficult to know how to work with Pakistan. On the one hand, they have been one of our allies in the war in Afghanistan. On the other hand, they haven't been a strong ally and at times have aided the enemy. We should work to encourage democracy in Pakistan and push them for greater cooperation. We should limit our direct involvement in Pakistanian matters and work to gain other allies in the event Pakistan moves away from us.

I link India and China together. In my mind, but countries should be treated alike (with the exception of human rights). Both countries have much to gain by working with the US. By holding taxes and tarrifs as a potential punishment on both countries, we can work for change. Both countries need to do more to respect child-labor laws and to respect American copyrights and patents. They have more to lose than the U.S. does if we hold their feet to the fire for fair trade.

Now a word about human rights in China. That country still pratices strong repression of religion. We should work to encourage some degree of freedom of religion and to restrict persecution. The countries forced reduction in birth rate, is touchy. As a country, they do need to reduce population growth, but the methods are not right. We should encourage greater relaxation in adoption by other countries.

Mexican relations are poor now, and there is no reason. As one of our bordering countries, we should work with Mexico to strengthen relations. We should work together to form an immigration policy that fits our needs and is palatable to Mexico. There is a great feeling in this country that Mexicao doesn't want us to have a policy, that they appreciate getting rid of some of these people and that they appreciate American money going into Mexico. We can erect a wall, both physical and economic, but instead we should work with the Mexican government.

South America and Africa are still frontier land. As a people, we need to be concerned about the tyranny in some of these areas, the diseases and the problems. We need to spend more on supporting these areas and on education. Educate the people on everything from the three R's to how to build a government, how to maintain an economy and how to build.

That's my foreign policy statement. I'm sure there's parts I left out. As soon as I have a secretary of state, I will work to develop this policy further.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Approval rating climbs

Yes, my approval rating is at 100%. Or rather, my disapproval rating is 0% - no one has complained about any of my ideas on national defense. If you haven't read it, I wrote a long discourse (evidently too long for others to read) on what I think presidential candidates should do regarding national defense.

I received an email this morning that said that, not only had my approval rating increased, I am now on the first page of google. When you google my name, my blog is the fourth hit. This is a TREMENDOUS improvement!! And I owe it all to my constituents (both of you).

I promise to get back onto this presidential platform soon. My job is such that in January or February I spend a week or two closing out the last year and then starting up the new year. This year, the process hit earlier and it's been the past week and coming week. Hopefully, work can die back down next week.

Thanks again. Remember, I'm Randy Barnett, and I approved this message.

P.S. Not sure why this person "googled" me this morning. Maybe she's checking up on me.... Does that mean I should check up on her??

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

I approved this message - National Defense

As I've been promising, I am laying out what I think are critical issues for the presidency of the US. As this thread gets closer to the actual facts, it gets more serious. None of the issues are as serious as national defense.

On 9/11/2001, the United States was attacked without provocation. There are some politicians who believe we brought this on ourselves. They are wrong and should be immediately discredited, if not charged with treason. Looking back, this should be a "Pearl Harbor event". We were attacked on US soil, but there were several smaller attacks that should have been wake-up calls. This happened before 12/07/41, but then as now, they weren't recognizable for what they were. Now in the light of 911, the events are seen as a prelude.

911 should also be a "Pearl Harbor event" in that it should propel us into the Global War on Terror. That phrase has gone out of style, but that's what it is. There are terrorists everywhere who are attacking us and our way of life. Only by being proactive, can we take the war to them.

My biggest fear is for the next 911. Whether biological, nuclear, or tactical weapons are used, if we do nothing, another attack will be coming. I suspect a series of smaller attacks, hit a shopping mall at Christmas, hit a random school, would get as much attention as the first 911. The next president needs to be ready.

Part of this can be addressed with laws around the Patriot Act. There are also laws regarding FISA - the Foreign Intelligence Surveilance Act. These laws allow the US government to spy on people like you & me when they suspect National Security is at risk. Some of the provisions of these laws are up for renewal. There should be no question about their requirements. Some would argue that they un-necessarily spy on US citizens. I would argue against that. Not a single case has been brought forward that would indicate anyone's rights have been violated.

In addition to the Global War on Terror, the next president needs to address the issues of Iraq and Afghanistan. First to Afghanistan. It's evident to me that the reason the Soviet Union failed in Afg is due to our under-cover support. When that war was over, a vacuum was left in the political makeup of the country. The US failed to step in and fill that vacuum or support any strong government, and the Taliban were allowed to rule. The result was a breeding ground for terrorists.

Now the same thing is ready to happen in Iraq. With Saddam Hussein out of power, we can either rebuild the government or we can let it fall to chaos and another Taliban-type rule. If we abandon either of these countries, we can count on terrorists breeding like mosquitos in a swamp.

The rebuilding of these two countries and the positioning of troops must continue. The troops must not be brought home until the job is complete, which may be several years.

Also in the area of national defense is our response in other areas of the world. However, as already seen in Libya, our response in Iraq and Afg. will have an effect on leaders elsewhere. Our response should be the same, if these countries promote terrorism, we should work to rebuild the country, either politically or militarily.

Part of this applies to one of our allies, Saudi Arabia. The Sauds have long enjoyed our support, yet some of the biggest mosquitos (terrorists) have been bred in their country. The schools teach an anti-American curriculum and the children grow up hating us. With all the money we spend on oil, we should demand a better supplier.

Which brings me to the last subject in the area of national defense, oil. Our nation's economic dependence on oil is a contributing factor to the current dilemma. Only by developing nuclear energy, solar energy and wind energy (I sound like a tree hugger) can we remove this dependence. However, doing so will lessen the economic lifestyle of our middle eastern neighbors and is likely to cause more unrest. We must work with the governments of the affected countries to lessen their dependence on our hard earned cash. Just like an addict on heroin, simply cutting the US cash-addicts off cold turkey will cause withdrawl pains and they may lash out at us, causing increased terrorist activities.

This has been a long post, I appreciate your reading it in entirety. I truly believe that national defense is the single greatest issue facing the next president.

I'm Randy Barnett and I approved this message.

P.S. Why didn't someone correct my previous posts where I said "I endorsed this message"?

Sunday, January 06, 2008

I endorsed this message - Platform building

Last week I announced my candidacy for the president. Then I explained that I was actually just planning to lay out what I thought was important for the candidate I intend to choose.

It seems from all the commercials I'm seeing, that Change is the answer. From the man who claims to have been the first to ask for change, to the lady who says she has the experience to change, all of the candidates, Democratic and Republican, are clamoring for change. Reminds me of the old adage about babies and politicians both needing to be changed often, and for the same reason.

I'm going to begin, not by asking for change, but by laying out my ideas. Before I begin, I want to lay out the areas I think should be addressed. This post won't tell you my opinion on any one topic, but instead will list topics I intend to cover later. They will be somewhat grouped, but that's subject to change (there's that word) later on.

I should note that I've already appointed someone to be my Secretary of Defense. I am step-related to a former soldier who served in both Afghanistan and Iraq. He's the most knowledgable person I know in this area.

In my platform, I intend to address these topics:
1. National Defense - 9/11 and America's response, the next 9/11, is there a Global War on Terror, the War in Iraq, Afghanistan and other parts.
2) Foreign affars - Russia, Pakistan, Iran, India, Europe, Africa, South America, China (including trade) and Mexico (including immigration)
3) Isolationism vs. becoming entangled in the affairs of other nations (John Adams reference?)
4) National economy - Jobs, training, mortgages, housing, taxes and spending
5) Healthcare, education and abortion, global warming, carbon credits (hopefully, I'll explain why I grouped these)

What did I leave out? What do you, the voter, want me to address?

Thanks to those who responded earlier, I sincerley hope this gets some attention.

Thursday, January 03, 2008

My name is RB, I endorsed this message and I'm running for president

When I turned 35, I announced to all my friends and neighbors that I was running for president. I had examined all of the recent candidates and announcements and decided I was equally qualified.

However, it was not an election year, so I soon bowed out. Now, 14 years later, I'm reannouncing my candidacy.

Since I'm entering the fanfare a little late, I'll plan a slow entrance. I'll start by announcing and deciding my platform. This will help all of my followers (thanks mom) decide which of the current candidates should be elected to hold my place until I'm truly ready. In fact, he or she could revoke the constitutional amendment that placed term limits on the presidency so that once I win the office, I can retain it forever, in the spirit of my senator, Strom Thurmond.

So, over the next several weeks, I'll post my ideas on the presidency and what I believe are important subjects to be covered. Since I'm a formulas and function kind of guy (see my post on functions), I'll also put some sort of priority or weighting with each idea. This way and astute reader could write a simple function for Excel to decide which of the current candidates best fits my model.

Regular readers will know that I've already stated there was one candidate I could NOT vote for, that's Rudy G. See my reasoning here. They may also note that I've suggested Jenna Bush for president (see here), but it's going to be a while before she's eligible. Other than these two items, I haven't decided who I will vote for. I fully expect to make that decision as a part of this exercise.

So be looking for my posts. Tell your friends and neighbors, dogs and cats, dead uncles and aunts to all vote for me (it works in Chicago). Seriously read my posts and comment on them. If you disagree with me, feel free to say so. I reserve the right to flip-flop as often as Clinton and Romney have been accused. After all, one man's flip-flop is another man's shoe.

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Happy new Year

I've been working lightly the last two weeks and now it's time to start back in ernest. The holidays were wonderful, even if it ended with a loss at the Chic-Fil-A bowl.

I quit doing New Year's resolutions several years ago. I tried to restart it a few years back, but couldn't get anyone to work with me. It always seems that any day is a good day to start being healthy, saving money and creating whirled peas, why blame it all on New Years.

Happy 2008 to all