Monday, March 31, 2008

Dan Quayle

In a recent deep-dive 3 part analysis of Obama's speech titled "A More Perfect Union", I rememberd Dan Quayle's 1992 speech on Family Values (dubbed his "Murphy Brown" speech by the press).

Specifically, I remember the need to go back to the source. Whenever you hear a politician on TV or radio or whenever you hear someone else's views on what he/she said, you need to go back to the source to see what they really said. It's not that I mistrust the media. Personally, I think they do their job well most of the time. Their job is to summarize whatever is being said and present it to you. They do a lot of investigation (see the news about Hillary Clinton being under sniper attack) and present the facts.

Occasionally, they invent facts (exploding cars at NBC) or create facts (getting into the story), but most often they report. The problem is that they cater to the majority of Americans who want pre-digested news. Out of necessity, they leave out a lot of details. And there is lots of room for opinion to drift into their articles or newscasts.

Only if we go to the source can we be certain to get the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. If we want to read/listen/view summaries, that's fine, but get the whole truth.

When Dan Quayle gave his speech in 1992, newspapers took about two weeks to publish the entire speech. During the first part of those two weeks, politicians made all kinds of negative comments about Quayle's speech. However, as they got more details, they changed their tune. By the time the full speech was published, most politicians FROM BOTH PARTIES agreed with the Vice President. What a change!

Today, most speeches are posted on the internet. We have the ability to read everything a candidate says and not settle for sound bites. In 1992, I wrote a letter to the editor of my local newspaper asking them to print full articles. Newspapers did this during the American revolution and we have many of those early speeches. Same goes for formation of the constitution (read the Federalist Papers and the Anti-Federalist Papers sometime).

I encourage you to find the source of the speeches politicians make. When you read a bloggist's views on a speech, make sure they have read the entire speech and have them cite the reference (keep me honest too). In the near future, I plan a deep-dive on John McCain's foreign policy speech. Hopefully, you can make it through.

Sunday, March 30, 2008


Two years ago today, little Anthony came into our lives. I posted a note a couple days later, you can read it here.

He's gone from 5 pounds 2 ounces, to a still-small, but very intelligent youg boy. He has a vocabulary of probably several hundred words, speaks in mostly complete sentences and can actually converse with you. This morning, on the way to church he said "Anthony wants to take his hat off" (he speaks in third person). We told him it was ok and then he said "Anthony takes his hat off". Then he added "Oooo, look at me."

Grandchildren are great. I can't wait for more.

(Here's the complete post from April 2, 2006, just after Anthony's birth)

Back in November (I think) I blogged about Anna. Now it's Anthony's turn. Coming into the world on 3/30 weighing in at 5 pounds 10 ounces, he's an amazing little thing. I've never held a baby that small (the twins were smaller). Even so, he is a force to be reckoned with. Lungs as powerful as an adult. Stuff that comes out is as strong as anyones.

I always said that babies were a sign from God that he intended for the world to continue. A miracle from God, babies teach us so much. Anthony has the ability to teach his parents, his grand-parents, aunts and uncles. Or to be used by God to teach them.

Here's to Anthony and all that he brings into the world...

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Obama's Speech on Racism - part 3

This is probably my last post on this speech. The first post basically summarized the speech. The second post commented on the first part of the speech (on racism). This part will focus on the last part of the speech, where Obama transitions.

It's important to note that I think Obama is highly intelligent and I noticed him at the Democratic Convention in 2004. He's a man with a future, but I am suprised that he as risen to this level this fast.

Obama's speech talked in great detail on Racism. But the actual speech was titled "A More Perfect Union". Many in the press thought this would be his speech to defend Rev. Wright or to distance himself. He did talk about Rev. Wright and to some small degree both defended him and distanced himself. But I believe that this all set the stage for what Obama sees as the way to form "A More Perfect Union."

Roughly 4500 words into his speech, Obama transitions. He says "we have a choice in this country. We can accept a politics that breeds division..." Then he points out "if we do, I can tell you that in the next election, we'll be talking about some other distraction." I agree. Racism and Rev. Wright are a distraction. Focusing on these issues (and others like them) take the focus off the real problems in our nation. Obama (and I) has a better idea "we can come together and say, 'Not this time.'"

So what does Obama think we should focus on? Here's where my opinion and the Senator's diverge. Obama lists 1) "crumbling schools that are stealing the future of (all) children" first. Then he talks about 2) health care, 3) the shuttered mills that once provided a decent life (and offshoring) and 4) "how to bring (soliders) home from a war that never should've been authorized and never should've been waged."

Here's my differences: 1) Schools should not be federally run. Nothing in the constitution says that every one has a right to education. Leave the schools up to the states and local authorities. Get the federal government out.

2) Health care is an issue, but more of an economic issue. I've talked about my view on healthcare in another blog post (see it here)

3) Job protection (shuttered mills) and offshoring - Obama doesn't say what he will do here. I haven't studied enough of his platform to figure it out. I see the economy as a second tier issue, my comments are here.

4) Obama says the war in Iraq should not have been waged and we should bring the soldiers home. I disagree on both parts. We (including the UN) told Iraq and the world NUMEROUS times that they should comply with certain resolutions and they did not. We looked like the bully who drew a line in the sand, but backed down when the other guy crossed it. Hussein was a ruthles dictator who ground people up in meat grinders. He wiped out most of the Kurds and let his own people die will he lined his pockets. We watched as other countries skirted the economic blockades and profited at our expense. My only complaint is that we waited too long. Actions should have been taken sooner.

As for withdrawing the troops, if we do that now, Iraq will crumble. We have a moral obligation to protect the people and to help rebuild. We did this in Japan and Germany after WWII. It will not be over soon. There have been problems in the way this has been handled, but we shouldn't penalize the Iraqi people because of our cowardice.

5) Nowhere in Obama's speech does he talk about National Security. I believe this should be the #1 issue in 2008 and beyond. He ignores terrorism and in other speeches says we should sit down with known terrorist leaders.

While Obama only spent about 400 words on what it takes to form "A More Perfect Union", I believe this represents his ideas. While he wants to move the focus off of racism, he wants to move to the wrong items. And the way he focuses on those items is wrong.

Friday, March 28, 2008

Oregon man says he's pregnant

Ok, most of you will just find this repulsive. Yes, you read the title right. Seems a man in Oregon is now (at least) 22 weeks pregnant. How did this happen? Well, it turns out the man is "transgendered" - that is he started out as a female. Somewhere along the way he decided to change sides, now he's considered a man. But he kept his female parts (I don't know or even want to know about male parts). I was going to post a link to the story, but even thinking about it is upsetting my breakfast. If you want to read more, do a search on "oregon man pregnant".

So, why would I blog about this? Well, first I'm avoiding writing my final note about Obama's racism speech. Procrastination may not solve anything, but at least it puts things off. And a second reason, is that I have a couple of good jokes about it.

Some folks have commented that they think I'm pregnant. Looking at my "bulge" (it's actually beyond a bulge), they will ask about it. I simply rub my protruding belly and say that I'm due in February (this works best in the fall). In fact, I still have a button that says "I'm due in February", so I can say this with confidence.

Then I tell the questioner my favorite story, that I've never seen an EPT test come back negative. My wife tried those things three times, they always showed positive. They've come a long way since 1984, when I first saw one. We studied that thing carefully for 10 minutes. At the proper "end time", the circle showed, but then was gone within a few more minutes. Our joy was tempered with fear that we had read it wrong, but soon enough, the doctor confirmed out happiness.

By the third time we needed an EPT, the test had gotten much easier and cheaper. My wife bought a double set, so she could try it a second time just in case. The testing was much quicker and much more clear, so there was no doubt and no reason to use the second test. I told her that I wanted to try it. I had never seen one negative and we had an extra one, so why not? Instead of allowing me to try it, she threw it away. (I've been told by others that they have seen these show negative and I've learned that this is not funny to certain women - use with caution).

My final joke about pregnancy is to tell soon-to-be mom's that childbirth is no big deal. I've been through it three times with no pain reliever at all, and I came through ok. I did take a little time off, but I went back to work in about a week and had no problems. (Typically, I make sure I'm more than an arm's length away before I say this).

Note to any female offended by these comments: Someday, I will post a blog about how I've worked with a few couples who couldn't conceive and I understand their pain.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Troublesome info

On a lark, I did a search on judicial records on an old friend of mine. The last time I heard from him was about 15 years ago, so I looked in the county he lived in then.

During high school we were best friends. Read that drinking buddies. I'm embarrassed to admit it, but we drank a lot. Mostly while driving around. He dropped out of high school and I went to college. He went back and got his GED. I attended his graduation, his mother, father and step-father didn't (his father lived a couple of states away).

He dated a girl I knew. He told me once he wanted to break up because all she did wanted to do was smoke marijuana. When he was 20, my dad took him to get his driver's license, his own folks wouldn't do that (not sure how insurance worked then).

Not long after that, he and his girlfriend were cruising around in separate cars when she flipped hers. Together they headed for Georgia and got married (she was to young to marry in SC without parent's permission). They were gone for a week or two, then came home and had a church wedding. I don't know how long they were together, but it seems like only a year or two.

When I last talked to him, he was drunk or high. He had a new wife and lived in a trailer park.

Fast forward to today. I found 15 different arrests over the last 15 years. Domestic violence (3times), DUI (3 times), Driving with suspended license (9 times) and a fewother miscellaneous offenses were scattered through the years (mostly DUI & DUS for last 10 years).

Also, it looks like as of two years ago, he lived within 10 miles of me. I'm not sure if he's still there or not. I'm not sure if I want to know. I've always felt like if I had stayed close to him that either he would have straightened out or I would have ended up like him.

Obama's Speech on Racism - part 2

Earlier this week, I posted a synopsis of Obama's speech on racism. I also drew analogies to Dan Quayle's speech on Murphy Brown. What a strange combination, but go read my post if you question in. (I did take a pot-shot at Al Gore - no apologies).

Today, I want to comment on the first half of Sen. Obama's speech (the second half transitioned to other politics) which was purely about racisim.

Basically, I agree with everything Obama said in this part of his speech. The senator for Illinois is very articulate and obviously educated. He made good reference to our Constitution and the way it was formed. He also realized that government may be able to end slavery, but it can't end prejudice.

Most impressive to me, is the fact that Obama doesn't believe everyone who utters a racial slur is in fact a racist. Obama talks about his own white grandmother who expressed fear of blacks and made comments that today are considered unacceptable. But from his tone, he still loves his grandmother, despite her prejudices.

I also support Obama's directions to help resolve some of the problems. He talks about the responsibilities of parenthood and the need for personal responsibility. He talks about about black & white getting along and realizing that racism is real, but not necessarily the source of every problem. And he talks about racism being a distraction to solving real problems.

I can find nothing wrong with anything Sen. Obama said about racism. He accepts responsibility himself and makes it personal. He challenges you and me. He also admits that government (or "parchment") is not the way to solve every problem.

I'll talk more about the other parts in his speech in another post.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Obama's speech on racism

Warning: This entry could surprise my friends on both sides of the political aisle.

If you're like me, you heard tons about Obama's speech on racism. I've heard nothing positive about it. I listen mostly to conservative talk radio and no one expects them to say anything good about Obama. I also listen to the big networks and they had nothing positive to say either. Years ago I tried listening to liberal talk radio and I just couldn't stomach it.

In 1992, Dan Quayle made his famous Murphy Brown speech. This was when Al Gore was still inventing the internet, so I depended on the main-stream media to read the real speech. By the time it came out, most political candidates had changed their tune and were supporting Quayle's ideas, if not his speech. What a turn-around!

I learned from that experience to go to the source. So today, I took time to read Obama's speech. You can find it here. To my surprise, I found very little in Obama's words with which I disagree.

Sen. Obama's speech included lots of words about Rev. Wright, but that was no more the topic than was Quayle's speech about a TV character back in 1992 (it was about a poverty of values, including absent fathers - which Obama mentioned also). Rather, Obama was talking for the first half of the speech about racism in America. I thought he did a good job expaining the situation. Yes, he spent time defending his views on Wright, but that's not all the speech is about.

At this point, I should indentify myself as a white American. Born and raised in the south and proud of it. I have looked back for about 4 generations and all of these ancestors were raised in the south. I don't know if any ever owned slaves, but I know some fought in the civil war (and not for the north). I do know that some of my relatives have harbored racist feelings and for that I am not proud. I'll also apologize to anyone offended by the term "black". I'll use that in this entry: it's what Obama used in his speech and it's shorter than "African American". I should also point out that I will assume that his speech matches the way Obama feels. I have no doubt that he has speech writers who wrote good portions of the speech, but he gets all the credit and all the blame.

Obama's speech was very well written and shows a good bit of intelligence. Four years ago, I realized that this man was going to be somebody. Starting with a quotation from the Constitution and tracing slavery through the halls of the Philadelphia convention, Obama spoke without malice about the process and the realization that "words on a parchment would not be enough to deliver slaves from bondage."

Senator Obama gets it. Neither then, nor now, can "words on parchment" solve the problem. He also gets it that racism cuts both ways. He talks about "white racism" and "divisive comments" by Wright.

Then he transitions his speech. "Just as black anger often proved counterproductive, so have these white resentments distracted attention from the real culprits of the middle class squeeze"
In other words, both black and white racism distract us from the real problems. I agree 100%. He says that "to wish away the resentments of white Americans, to label them as misguided or even racist, without recognizing they are grounded in legitimate concerns - this too widens the racial divide, and blocks the path to understanding." In all, I think he spoke more about reverse racism (anti-white) than he did about racism (anti-black). I haven't counted words and think that that too would "block the path to understanding."

What are the real problems? Obama sites these items: 1) Big Business, 2) Washington politics and 3) economic policies that favor the few over the many.

He identifies some specific actions for blacks: 1) embracing the burdens of our past without becoming victims of our past, 2) continuing to insist on justice and 3) binding our particular grievances to the larger aspirations of all Americans. This is also where he talks about absent fathers (where's Quayle when you need him?).

He identifies some specific actions for whites: acknowledge that racism is real with both words and deeds (investing in schools and communities, enforcing civil rights laws, providing "ladders of opportunities).

Then he transitions again by asking us not to focus on racism. Instead he wants us to focus on education, on health care, jobs (and offshoring) and bringing the troops home "from a war that never should've been authorized and never should've been waged".

He also mentioned that Wright sees "the conflicts in the Middle East as rooted primarily (with) ... allies like Israel, instead of (starting with ) radical Islam."

So, that's a condensation of Obama's speech, I'll explore my comments on it in a couple of days. I'd be interested in your comments. I'd be especially interested in any comments on the comparisons between Obama and Quayle.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

God Must be Busy

Ok, this song has been bothering me. And the title will certain bother others as well. I really like Brooks & Dunn. There song "I believe" is just awesome. But this one seemed a little different. My step-daughter breezed into town last night and shared the same feelings. So, I put on my super-researcher cape and hood, and began banging away at the keyboard to get to the root of it all.

First I found the lyrics (look here). I found a nugget of hope, right in the middle. See, the song is about a lot of bad things happening: The war in the mid-East, a single mom laid off, a twister, an amber alert. Just turn on the news and you'll get the feeling. And everywhere, people are praying to God for an answer. But God must be busy.

Then right there in the middle of the song, "They found that little girl. She was soaking wet,half scared to death on the side of some road." This left me with hope. Hope for the little girl (who probably isn't real, but still stirred my heart) and hope for the song. The next line said "Them prayers work, you know."

More searching turned up this blog post. Chi-Rho does an excellent job of explaining free will. There are good comments about doubt in the song. Not doubt on God's existence, but doubt that He is really going to help us. Another song says "God is watching us, from a distance" (research for another day). Is that the way it is?

But that nugget of gold, right in the middle says they found the girl. Such a little girl, only one family was concerned. They (like me) were just "a speck of sand" and "God's got better things to do than look out for one" family. But God listened. And God answered their prayer.

I immediately thought of one of my favorite verses, Mark 9:24 "Lord, I believe; Help my unbelief!" Notice the pause in there.

In my darkest times, I've cried out just like the man mentioned by Mark. Just like the people in the song. Just like Chi-Rho and Jim (whose blog I found this morning and I must add to my favorites). I know God hears my every prayer and answers. I know this. The next time I don't get an answer immediately, I'll just simply shrug my shoulders and say "God must be busy" with the assurance that He will get to me. In His time.

P.S. You know, with all the stuff going on in the world, He MUST be busy. Aren't you glad He's not TOO busy?

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

I want a do-over

Seems that a man in Australia wants a do-over. Ian Usher is putting his entire life up for auction on E-bay. The lucky winner will get his house and all it's contents, his car, his motorcycle, jet ski and parachuting gear.

The winner will also get Ian's friends and job: He's promised to introduce the buyer to his friends (after that it's up to them) and his employer has agreed to give the buyer a chance at his job (two week trial period, followed by three months, then permanent if it all works out).

Seems Ian had a bad break-up with his wife of five years and his life is just full of bad memories. Not sure how those get sold on E-bay, but he's expecting to get around $390,000 for the package. He hopes to head out of his house with his wallet and passport and board the next plane with an available seat and head off into the sunset (or sunrise depending on the time of day and direction).

I've always promised my kids that my house could be a "city of refuge" for them, but this is tempting. I posted a while back that I had desires to go off and become a hermit, but this is even more dramatic. Looking back and my blog posts, I've even posted that desire twice, two years apart, so it's not a new desire. And Drew Peterson is convinced that's what happened to his wife and there are books that tell you how to do it. It seems to me that the e-Bay way is a good one.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Global Warming - Let's sue Al Gore

I have to admit, I have doubts about global warming. Oh no, now I've offended everyone. My liberal friends will desert me saying that it's obvious, science have proved it, etc. And my conservative friends will likely desert me saying I've abandoned their cause.

But it seems John Coleman, founder of the Weather Channel, has no doubt that Global Warming is a farce. And he's frustrated he can't get any traction in the main stream media. His answer? File a lawsuit in court, alleging fraud by the former vice president for selling carbon credits (read the full article here). Coleman says he's "confident that the advocates of 'no significant effect from carbon dioxide' would win the case."

"As you look at the atmosphere over the last 25 years, there's been perhaps a degree of warming, perhaps probably a whole lot less than that, and the last year has been so cold that that's been erased," he said.

Wait - did he say that last year has been cold? Was this on the news? Did I miss that?

"I think if we continue the cooling trend a couple of more years, the general public will at last begin to realize that they've been scammed on this global-warming thing."

Let's hope so.

Coleman has long been a skeptic of global warming, and carbon dioxide is the linchpin to his argument. The compound carbon dioxide makes up only 38 out of every 100,000 particles in the atmosphere, he said. This is about double what it was before we started burning fossil fuels. It's gone up, but it's still a tiny compound. How can that tiny trace compound have such a significant effect on temperature?

I agree with Coleman. Let's get both sides together for a debate. As my Daddy used to say, let's get all the liars into one room and let them fight it out.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Noah got plastered

Did you know that Noah got drunk? They guy who built the ark and took the animals on the ark, got plastered. Three sheets to the wind. Let me give some background and then explain why I think he got drunk and why it's important.

You may remember the story about Noah. God told him to built a boat and take some animals on board. I always thought he spent 40 days in the boat, someone recently pointed out it was longer. I looked this morning, and if I did the math right, it was much longer. 7 days on the boat before the rain, then 40 days of rain and floods. 150 days after that and he the waters began to go down. 40 more days, theny 7 days and then 7 more days. If I got it all right (which is questionable) that's 211 days or about 7 months. (Exodus 6-8)

Noah was 600 years old when the flood happened. That's old. He took his family on the boat, wife & sons (presumably daughters too). Then he lived another 350 years and was a farmer. Seems he enjoyed his own product a little too much, he drank his wine and got naked and passed out (Ex 9:20). His youngest son (Ham) saw him naked and went snickering to his older brothers (Shem and Japheth). They were sutiably embarrassed for their father, so they walked into his tent carrying a cover. They even walked in backwards, so they wouldn't see their naked father laying there. The next morning, Noah woke up and extended a curse to the younger son and blessings on the older sons.

Why did Noah get drunk? Here is a man of God, listed in the roll call of the saints (Heb 11:7). As the song says, "Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord." I believe that Noah was lonely. He was an old man and there's no mention of his wife at this point. He'd been working in the fields, was tired and went to his tent all alone. His sons had their wives, Noah had no one. So he started drinking a little of his home made wine, probably kicked back to watch a little TV and before he knew it, he had passed out.

Why is this important? Well, if Noah can do embarrassing things, any of us can. My mother is 80 and sometimes she still embarrasses me. Things just happen. But she's still my mother and I love her. I have to follow Shem and Japheth's example and when things happen, I have to help cover for my mother, not walk around snickering like some Ham.

As I type all of this, I can't help but wonder, where were Curly and Moe in this escapade?

(Sorry if some of this seems blasphemous. It's just my weird sense of humor - or lack of)

Saturday, March 08, 2008

Foreclosure relief

Back on January 28, I asked the question "When is a rebate, not a rebate?"

Now I ask about foreclosure relief. Seems there are two types of people who are being foreclosed on, first the man (or woman) who simply can't afford his (or her) house. Maybe he had some credit problems when he mortgaged the house and had to settle for a so-called subprime loan (I hate that term). Now the payments are going up. Or maybe some other bad luck has hitten, he's maxed out the credit cards, lost a job or other ways pinched. Bottom line, he can't afford the payments.

The second type of foreclosure is the person who looked for bargains, bought homes on the margin, with little or no money down. Now that home prices are falling, he owes more on the house than it's worth and the prices are likely to never (or at least not soon) go back up. His investment has lost money and he is looking to get out. He's decided to stop throwing more money at it and he will just let the house go to foreclosure.

Government is talking about some sort of foreclosure relief. In the short term, the banks are offering extensions before they enter the foreclosure process. This isn't really an extension, without this if a consumer contacted his bank he would already get extensions. Banks don't want to foreclose, they have enough houses and look at it as a lose-lose proposition. If they do foreclose, they lose money because they can't sell the house.

The short term solution is good because (hopefully) it will make some consumers wake up. They can re-negotiate their mortgage and possibly keep a house they might would lose. Sure it's a stop-gap, but it will help some.

Longer term, there are calls for banks to "forgive" parts of mortgages. I think this is a bad idea. If a house is now worth less than the mortgage, the bank "forgives" the execess mortgage amount. This rewards buyers who put little down or used bad mortgages. It also invalidates a contract. The buyer signed a contract to pay a certain dollar amount, now he's backing out. If the government forces banks to accept these contract changes, the banks lose and will likely not lend money as quickly in the future.

This mess was created over a period of several years, it will take several years to get out of it. Just because this is an election year doesn't mean an action has to be taken. Some people will lose homes, some people will not be eligible for loans. Some young couple who wants a home will be turned down and they didn't do anything wrong. It's just that now they look like a credit risk.

I encourage the government not to do anything to adjust mortages. I also encourage banks and other financial institutions to look carefully at future customers. Any who walked away from a house should be treated like the risk they are. Those who took out bad mortgages should also be treated as a risk.

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Quote of the day

This country has come to feel the same when Congress is in session as when the baby gets hold of a hammer.

Will Rogers