Tuesday, November 18, 2008

II. A Few Words about Rights

All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of person. These rights and freedoms may in no case be exercised contrary to the purposes and principles of the United Nations.

- from The Universal Declaration of Human Rights

The United Nations General Assembly

10 December 1948

Come to think of it, what exactly is a right, anyway? Philosophers and legal scholars have been discussing the concept of rights for a very long time. Entire libraries could be filled with books on this subject (and have been), and the entire study and practice of law is, in a sense, the art and science of defining rights. It would be insane to tackle this issue in any meaningfully deep way here. But to the extent that it is critically important for all of us on every conceivable side of this issue to be able to share at least a rudimentary vocabulary, it behooves us to discuss this notion of rights at this point.

There are two basic views about the origins and meanings of rights. There are those, whose opinions are exemplified by the Declaration above, who feel that rights are granted by, and their exercise protected by, the State. This is why they feel there is no contradiction in saying that all humans are “born free, with equal rights”, but that those rights are subject to the “purposes and principles of the U.N.”. Under this more modern system of defining one’s rights before the law, the term “rights” runs the risk of becoming so broad as to be meaningless. For if the UN or any government can make the most fundamental exercises of even “life, liberty, and security of person” subject to their “purposes and principles”, then these “rights” could conceivably be revoked by that same power which granted them.

The other view of rights is that they are quite literally “endowed” by one’s Creator (or by Nature itself). According to the members of this school of thought, because of their divine or at least ancient origins, true rights owe no homage to any earthly king or authority. In this view, rights must be given room even if they violate the purposes and principles of the UN or any other governmental body. Furthermore, under this view of rights, any governmental body that stands in the way of the free exercise of rights is illegitimate, due to a fundamental flaw that puts it at odds with the free exercise of a man’s Natural Rights, which are supreme and irrevocable. It was on this exact basis that the American Revolutionaries began the process of severing their bonds with their home nation; a nation they felt had become an oppressive force in their lives, and was, therefore, illegitimate and deserving of rejection.

But where did this concept come from? And how could a group of people be so sure that this was the nature of rights? Sure enough to risk “their lives and their sacred honor"? To understand, you have to trace the thought processes that were being conveyed by the Founders back to their roots. This second view of rights has ample historical support. From the most ancient histories, through the Greek philosopher Aristotle to the Roman statesman Cicero (106-43 B.C) (“According to the law of nature it is only fair that no one should become richer through damages and injuries suffered by another”); to Gratian (“Natural law is the law common to all peoples”); to Rufinus (1160 A.D.) ("Natural law is a certain force instilled in every human creature by nature to do good and avoid the opposite”); to William Ockham (“a tyrannical ruler may be deposed”); to Jean Gerson to Hugo Grotius (“Liberty is the power that we have over ourselves”) to John Locke (“Government has no other end, but the preservation of property”), and then on to Jefferson and Madison, the authors of our sacred American documents, there is a cohesive strand of thought about what constitutes “The Rights of Man”. Put simply, rights are privileges to which any one may lay claim as having been given to him or her by the Creator, or by Nature. They do not require any special help or assistance from others. They can not be given or taken by the powers that be. This single unbroken strand of thought exists backward and forward in time.

There is no need to rediscover the nature of rights. This has already been done for us over the past 3000 years. We only have to decide what is really a right and what is not one.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

An American Doctor's Declaration of Independence: Part I

I. Introduction

Health care is a human right”. The phrase is quoted so often, and is so ingrained in our dialogue that it would seem that it is a settled matter. For millennia, though, the debate about what constitutes “a right” has raged. Even as recently as the 1990s, the assertion of a right to health care in the U.S. ignited a firestorm of disagreement. Now it might seem that the battle has ended with a whimper and a silent admission that health care as a right is something we have all agreed to accept.

This fundamental and central question about the nature of health care in society lies at the heart of all discussions about health policy. I submit that it is far from settled. It is unsettled because the statement contains an implicit falsehood – that the prerequisite questions have been answered to everyone’s satisfaction. They have not. Within the debate about whether people have a right to health care exist myriad other debates of equal interest and potential rancor. Questions like:

• What exactly is a right?
• What is the nature of health care?
• To what level of health care are people claiming a right?
• What are a health care provider’s responsibilities?
• What are a health care provider’s rights?
• What is the nature of the medical profession?
• Does a positive right abolish charity?

Until these questions can be addressed and answered satisfactorily, I believe that the claim that “Health Care is a Right”, by those who espouse that view, is a premature declaration of victory.

Next time: A Brief Discussion of Rights

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

The Hope and Change Cabinet: Treasury Secretary


The Contenders:


Larry Summers

Lawrence “Larry” Summers followed one of his mentors, Robert Rubin, as President Clinton’s Treasury Secretary.


He was born in 1954 in New Haven, Connecticut. His parents and an uncle were all noted economists, so you could say that he has it in his blood. He attended MIT and Harvard, where he earned Bachelors and Doctorate degrees in economics, respectively. He taught at both of his alma maters before moving to Washington to work on President Reagan’s economic staff.


Make no mistake, though. He is a democrat at heart. He worked on the Dukakis Presidential campaign in 1988. During the Clinton years, he served as Chief Economist at the World Bank, then Undersecretary and Deputy Secretary of the Treasury before becoming Treasury Secretary himself. After Clinton’s departure, Summers returned once again to Harvard, this time as its President.




His mentors include Martin Feldstein of Harvard, Robert Rubin, and Alan Greenspan.

While President of Harvard University, Mr. Summers made several remarks about affirmative action, the relative abilities of men and women in the sciences, and the tendency of liberal colleges at the time to divest from holdings in companies in Israel. He also had a long-standing feud with the liberal members of the campus. His comments and opinions so inflamed fury on the left that he was eventually forced to step down from his post as President. Many still hold a grudge against Summers for this ugly period of disagreement.


Larry Summers is a strong advocate for free trade and globalization. He is experienced, having held the post of Treasury Secretary before, and having an impeccable academic and career resume. He is reasonable and pragmatic, and appears to be loyal and honest to a fault.


MOCKBADOC feels that he would make an acceptable Treasury Secretary.

_______________________________________


Sheila C. Bair

Sheila C. Bair is a 54-year-old Republican attorney specializing in Financial Regulatory Policy. She has taught this subject at the University of Massachusetts Amherst since 2002. She is currently the Chairwoman of the FDIC. She was named the second most powerful woman in the world by Forbes magazine earlier this year.


Long before it was widely realized, Bair was sounding the alarm on the unthinkable lending practices of American banks stemming from the Clinton-era Community Reorganization Act, bank intimidation, and the irresponsibility of the now-seized IndyMac, FreddyMac and FannieMae.


The recent sinking of the American banking industry, however, has sucked down the good with the bad, and Bair’s critics allege that she was weak and inconsistent in the stabilization of some banks and not others.


Although a capable and intelligent pick, Sheila Bair seems an unlikely choice given recent events. Despite her blamelessness in the fiasco, the fact that she was at the helm as the ship capsized will likely ruin her chances. She also lacks the kind of experience she will likely need as Treasury Secretary in these highly-charged times. The new SecTreas will need to be tough, perhaps even mean, to drive us out of this mess, and Bair is untried so far as I can tell.


MOCKBADOC thinks there may be better choices for the job of Treasury Secretary.

___________________________________________


Timothy Geithner

The odds-on favorite so far is 47-year-old New Yorker and international business expert Timothy Geithner. He is the current President of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. He holds degrees from Dartmouth College and Johns Hopkins, and has studied Asian culture and business and has lived and worked abroad for several years. He is the consummate financial industry insider, having worked at several high-profile firms and in government. He has worked in the International Affairs division of the Treasury Department, and was even named Undersecretary of the Treasury for International Affairs, a post in which he worked under both Robert Rubin and Lawrence Summers (already mentioned).


He left U.S. Government when Clinton did, and spent his time at the Council on Foreign Relations and the International Monetary Fund.


Recently, as President of the New York Fed, his reputation was stained as a result of the collapse of the venerable Big Apple Financial firm Lehman Brothers and was intimately involved in the plan to bail out their rivals Bear Stearns and AIG.


It is unclear how Geithner could use his experience to chart a course out of our current mess. His history suggests a predisposition toward internationalism, which may actually undermine our efforts to stabilize our own economy. Like it or not, the international economy takes its lead from ours.

Still, he is young, energetic, and probably very attractive as a working partner to the equally young and untested Obama. He is definitely one to watch, but…


MOCKBADOC thinks Geithner lacks the gravitas to drive the bus during these troubled times.

_________________________________


Paul Volcker


The final name commonly mentioned for Treasury Secretary is Paul Volcker, the 81-year-old New Jersey native, considered the “elder statesman” candidate for the job. Mr. Volcker holds degrees from Princeton, Harvard, and the London School of Economics. He worked as an economist with the New York Fed and Chase Manhattan Bank before a brief stint with the U.S. Treasury Department as an analyst from 1962 to 1963. He returned to Chase Manhattan Bank only briefly before once again working for the Treasury Department, this time as the Undersecretary for International Monetary Affairs.


Volcker is a life-long Democrat, and was appointed by Jimmy Carter to head the U.S. Federal Reserve Bank in 1979. He was reappointed by Carter’s successor, Ronald Reagan, under whom he served in this capacity nearly until the end of Reagan’s second term.


During his time at the Fed, Volcker was able to reduce inflation from a high of over 13% in 1981 to just over 3% in 1983. The aggressive actions taken by Mr. Volcker, including limiting the supply of money and largely abandoning the practice of targeted interest rates did have a flip side, however, and produced extremely high unemployment. This caused him to be subjected to very significant criticism.


Mr. Volcker left government in 1987, and lived relatively quietly, with the exception of his criticism of the son of UN Secretary General Kofi Annan after he discovered improper financial relations between Kojo Annan and a Swiss bank in his work as a special investigator into allegations of corruption in the world body.


While Volcker certainly has the experience and the pedigree to run the Department of the Treasury, one wonders whether this 81-year-old economic heavyweight may have fought his best fight in the early 1980s. If John McCain was too…er…”erratic” for the Presidency according to the Obama campaign, Volcker may suffer from the same malady.


MOCKBADOC thinks that Paul Volcker would make a superb advisor, perhaps even Chief Economic Advisor, but shouldn’t be named Treasury Secretary.

_______________________________


Final analysis and prediction:


While all four contenders have their strengths, two of them are felt to be hopelessly entangled in the sub-prime mortgage mess, and one seems to be in the Autumn of his career. Only one of the four has the pedigree, the temperament, the experience, and the guts to have a chance to get us out of this mess.


MOCKBADOC predicts that the Hope and Change Treasury Secretary will be Lawrence “Larry” Summers.



Secretary of Defense: Final Tally and Prediction

John Hamre may be the nicest guy in the world. He may also be an absolute cold-blooded killer in disguise who would strike terror in the hearts of our enemies and keep us safe. The problem is that we don't know. We need to know. More importantly, our enemies need to know. Bad choice.






Richard Danzig, on the other hand, has a different problem. He is a known quantity. As Secretary of the Navy, he showed himself to lack the spine for armed conflict - even for retaliation after an attack (e.g. USS Cole). This is sort of a problem for a Secretary of Defense. He would be like Secretary Cohen, Part Deaux. Again, bad choice.



The only logical choice is Senator Chuck Hagel. I know, I know. He's a Republican. But even ultra-partisan Obama knows that the last Democrat to even go so far as to see a war movie was probably LBJ. You want someone to coddle you? Look no further than the big blue donkey. But defense? It's just never been the Democrats' schtick. Leave that to the grownups. Like Hagel.


MOCKBADOC Prediction: Obama will shock the world with his apparent magnanimity and solidify his claim to "post-partisan" and beneficent rule by proclaiming...

The Hope and Change Secretary of Defense will be Nebraska Senator Charles "Chuck" Hagel.

The Hope and Change Cabinet: Secretary of Defense

Contender #3:

John Hamre


Biography:

John Hamre is a 58-year-old government insider. He graduated from Augustana College in North Dakota in 1972 with a degree in economics and political science. He then earned an MDiv from Harvard University and a PhD from Johns Hopkins University.


His work history pretty much begins and ends with government. After starting out in the Congressional Budget Office as an entry-level staffer, he rose quickly to the rank of Deputy Assistant Director by 1984. Until 1993, when he was named Comptroller for the Clinton Department of Defense, he worked in the Senate Armed Services Committee with responsibilities for oversight of R&D, budget, and relations issues.


In 1997, he was elevated to Deputy Defense Secretary under Clinton’s SecDef William S. Cohen.


Since G.W. Bush’s election in 2000, Hamre has busied himself as the President and CEO of the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), a foreign policy “think tank” with a $20-million annual budget to spread around.


Philosophy:

Who in the world knows? He is a shadow man. One can presume that he agreed, at least to some degree, with his boss William Cohen, who presided over the following:

  • Iraq - Failed to hold Saddam Hussein to UN mandates. Presided over containment efforts, including no-fly zones and mistargeted Tomahawk missile and air strikes with negligible effects.
  • Somalia - Peacekeeping and toothless efforts to relieve suffering and distribute food. Culminated in U.S. failure in “Blackhawk Down” incident and then shameful withdrawal.
  • Bosnia/Herzegovina - Containment of conflict to prevent widening of war. War widened, ultimately spawning Macedonian and Kosovo conflicts. Succeeded in helping the Muslim extremists to win.
  • Macedonia - Peacekeeping operation.
  • Kosovo - Air strikes and attempted containment.
  • Haiti - Peacekeeping mission until “democratically-elected” ruler could be re-installed.
  • Liberia – evacuation of Americans
  • Central African Republic – evacuation of Americans
  • Albania – evacuation of Americans
  • Congo & Gabon – evacuation of Americans
  • Sierra Leone – evacuation of Americans
  • Cambodia – evacuation of Americans
  • Guinea-Bissau – evacuation of Americans
  • Kenya and Tanzania – intelligence failure & U.S. attacked; American lives lost
  • Afghanistan and Sudan – tomahawk strikes with negligible effects
  • East Timor - peacekeeping
  • Yemen – intelligence failure, USS Cole attacked; American lives lost


Job Fitness:

Once again, who knows? The following do appear to be limitations on his fitness for such a serious job in such a serious time:

  1. He has no military experience
  2. His experience with the DoD has been mainly as a glorified accountant
  3. The only real example of leadership he ever had was William Cohen, arguably the least capable and weakest Secretary of Defense in recent American history.


Final Tally

MOCKBADOC believes that John Hamre is not a safe or appropriate choice for Secretary of Defense in these dangerous times. Perhaps after President Obama has placated all our enemies, but not now.

The Hope and Change Cabinet: Secretary of Defense

Contender #2:

Richard Danzig

Biography:
Richard Danzig is a 64-year-old attorney who previously served as Secretary of the Navy under President Bill Clinton.

Born in the Bronx, NYC, Danzig eventually attended Reed College and earned a law degree from Yale. He was also a Rhodes Scholar and holds a PhD from Oxford University. After law school, Mr. Danzig served as clerk to SCOTUS Justice Byron White.

Mr. Danzig was a professor of law at Stanford and Harvard before serving as Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense under President Jimmy Carter from 1977 to 1981. After the election of Ronald Reagan, Danzig left government to practice law at Latham & Watkins, and also served as Vice Chairman of the International Human Rights Law Group, and Traveling Fellow of the Center for International Political Economy.

The election of Democrat Bill Clinton to President afforded Danzig another opportunity to serve in government. He worked as Undersecretary of the Navy from 1993 to 1997, and then was sworn in as the Secretary of the Navy in November of 1998.


Career Accomplishments:
Iraq
Failed to hold Saddam Hussein to UN mandates. Presided over containment efforts, including no-fly zones and mistargeted Tomahawk missile and air strikes with negligible effects.

Somalia
Peacekeeping and toothless efforts to relieve suffering and distribute food. Culminated in U.S. failure in “Blackhawk Down” incident and then shameful withdrawal.

Bosnia/Herzegovina
Containment of conflict to prevent widening of war. War widened, ultimately spawning Macedonian and Kosovo conflicts. Succeeded in helping the Muslim extremists to win.

Macedonia - Peacekeeping operation.

Kosovo - Air strikes and attempted containment.

Haiti - Peacekeeping mission until “democratically-elected” ruler could be re-installed.

Liberia – evacuation of Americans

Central African Republic – evacuation of Americans

Albania – evacuation of Americans

Congo & Gabon – evacuation of Americans

Sierra Leone – evacuation of Americans

Cambodia – evacuation of Americans

Guinea-Bissau – evacuation of Americans

Kenya and Tanzania – intelligence failure & U.S. attacked; American lives lost

Afghanistan and Sudan – tomahawk strikes with negligible effects

East Timor - peacekeeping

Yemen – intelligence failure, USS Cole attacked; American lives lost

Philosophy:
Seems to be to contain conflict if and only if a consensus and coalition can be reached and allies can be found to help. In all other cases, evacuate Americans and get out of the way of those who don’t like us.

Job Fitness:
As Undersecretary, then Secretary of the Navy, showed himself to be unprepared to provide any leadership or oversight to the military. Running at the first sign of danger is not a strategy.

MOCKBADOC’s Final Opinion:
This selection will undoubtedly embolden our enemies and put Americans at risk. Well, American civilians, that is.
The military that remains after the inevitable drastic DOD budget cuts, will be safely on base for at least four years.

MOCKBADOC believes that Richard Danzig would be a weak, do-nothing pushover as Secretary of Defense, just like he was as Secretary of the Navy.

The Hope and Change Cabinet: Secretary of Defense

Contender #1:
Senator Charles ("Chuck") Hagel

Biography:
Chuck Hagel is a 62-year-old Republican from Nebraska. He was raised in a middle class, Catholic, immigrant family. He attended parochial schools, then attended a communications school briefly after graduation from high school. He enlisted in the U.S. Army at the peak of the Vietnam War, and served as an infantryman, earning the rank of sergeant (E5), the Vietnamese Cross of Gallantry, the Purple Heart, the Army Commendation Medal, and the Combat Infantry Badge.

Hagel returned from the war, and re-entered college, graduating from the University of Nebraska in 1972. He served as a Congressional staffer until 1977, then left to start a company, Vanguard Cellular. When Reagan won the Presidency in 1980, Hagel served briefly as a Deputy Administrator of Veteran’s Affairs. He resigned after about a year as a result of a disagreement with VA Administrator Robert Nimmo about the nature of the services that should be provided. Hagel was supportive of greater veteran’s benefits.

As founder of Vanguard Cellular, Hagel is a multi-millionaire. His Senate career began in 1996 during the Clinton administration.

Philosophy:

Senator Hagel has supported the provisions of the Patriot Act, almost without exception. He wisely voted against implementing the partisan findings of the 9/11 Commission report. He also correctly recognized that the detainees at Guantanemo, as enemy combatants, are not eligible for and should not be extended Geneva Convention protections like habeas corpus. He also voted to protect the CIA from interference in their interrogations of detainees.

He has been a vocal supporter of the military, voting for their pay raise of 4.8% in 1999, and limiting their deployments to 12 months. He also voted wisely against prohibiting same-sex basic training, like that employed by the Marines. His support for the military found him at odds with some of his Republican colleagues, however, when it came to Iraq. He opposed Iraq as an unjust “war of choice – like Vietnam” from the beginning, and consistently accused the CIA of lying about intelligence that led the U.S. into war. He never saw Iraq as a legitimate threat, and was very vocal about that. He did, however, vote to authorize military force against Iraq in 2002, and has voted against timetables for withdrawal subsequently.

Ironically, he was supportive of air striking Kosovo during the Clinton years, an action that certainly could also be attacked on the basis of a similar “war of choice”.

Job Fitness:

Senator Hagel’s history suggests that he is (1) not afraid to use military force when necessary, but his experiences as an enlistedman in Vietnam have made him (2) appropriately cautious about sending troops into harm’s way. He is (3) a military and veteran’s advocate, a reputation he has continued to earn for years. He is (4) not afraid to take unpopular positions, even when it places him at odds with his own party.

As a (5) veteran, especially former enlisted, he would be (6) very respectable to the military. He is (7) tenacious, and believes that (8) once the military is employed, victory must be the outcome.

It is the opinion of MOCKBADOC that he would make a good Secretary of Defense.

Secretary of State: Final Tally and Prediction

It seems very unlikely, especially after the choice of the hyper-partisan Rahm Emmanuel as Chief of Staff, that Obama would pick a Republican (especially a flag-waving one) as Secretary of State. I think Senator Lugar can safely presume that he will remain a Senator.

John Kerry would definitely be the "lightning-rod" selection. He has made an entire career out of making bad decisions about foreign policy, and would likely be a disastrous choice for Secretary of State. He is, however, second only to Obama himself in his liberalism, and rewarding Kerry for a lifetime of service to Communist ideology by awarding him the highest office in the Cabinet might be too attractive for Obama to resist.

The most likely choice, in my opinion, and probably a decent one, given his qualifications, experience, and natural talents, is Bill Richardson. Richardson can at least be to
lerated, and may actually turn out to do a pretty good job. Fair warning, though, Governor: follow the Constitution, or prepare to experience the wrath of MOCKBADOC.

MOCKBADOC Predicts that the Hope and Change Secretary of State will be New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson.

The Hope and Change Cabinet: Secretary of State

Contender #3: Senator Richard Lugar


Biography:

Senator Richard Lugar is a 76-year-old Republican from Indiana. He was raised on a farm and went to public school. He was an Eagle Scout. He attended Oxford University as a Rhodes Scholar. He then served in the U.S. Navy from 1957-1960 as an intelligence officer. His entry into politics was on his local school board. He was mayor of Indianapolis for two terms. He has been a U.S. Senator since 1977.


Career Highlights

  • Working to reduce world stockpiles of nuclear, biological, and chemical weapons
  • Working to devolve federal powers back to the states
  • Working to end farm production controls
  • Working to reform the food stamp program


Positions


Life

  • Opposes Partial-birth abortions
  • Supports experimentation on human embryos
  • Voted against a ban on human cloning


Liberty

  • First supported hate crimes legislation for sexual orientation, then voted against it.
  • Supported increased wire-tapping authority
  • Property
  • Opposes unfair punitive taxation


Bill of Rights

Amendment 1:

  • Supports right to pray voluntarily in school
  • Voted to expand government wiretapping and domestic surveillance
  • Voted against recording phone conversations by employers


Amendment 2:

  • Supports almost without exception


Amendment 4:

  • Voted for Patriot Act


Amendment 5:

  • Voted for increased wiretapping/domestic surveillance
  • Silent on Kelo decision

Amendment 9:

  • Mixed record on awarding special rights to minorities and special interest groups


Amendment 10:

  • Supports devolution of powers to the States


Qualifications for Job

Closeness to President? NO

Has an almost opposite voting record from Obama.


Effective communication with diverse audiences? NO

Seems to be more of the quiet type – rarely ruffles feathers.


Appropriate face of American foreign policy? YES

Senator Lugar seems to be a reasonable man who supports American values.


Aggressively pursues American interests? YES

Senator Lugar has voted relatively consistently to support the Bill of Rights, and the principles of Life, Liberty, and Property.


Final Score:

Would probably make a good Secretary of State, but I find it almost unthinkable that President-elect Obama would name him. Their views on the world seem to be about as close to opposite as you can get. About the only thing alike between the two of them is that they have both been Senators.

A Prayer for Veterans


First of all, allow me to wish you all a very happy Veterans' Day. I've always found the history of this particular holiday to be sort of interesting.

It was the end of World War I. The carnage on all sides had been unimaginable. It has been said that WWI wiped out an entire generation of European men, and for this reason (among others), it was sometimes called "The War to end all Wars". Officers from both sides met to discuss ending the conflict. They decided, in a flurry of poeticism, that the armistice should take effect "at the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month" of 1919 - a reference to "the 11th hour" term which is used to describe something that happens right at the last moment.

This day was remembered as early as the next day, when President Woodrow Wilson declared that "Armistice" Day should be remembered on 12 November each year.

In the early 1950s, shorty after the Second World War, there was a movement to expand the holiday to include all veterans, not just those who served in WWI. This caught on, and Veterans Day in its present form was born.

We veterans these days are an odd bunch. It is unlike years past when the vast majority of American families had a veteran among them. Now our numbers are dwindling. Relatively few families really understand the sacrifice made by those who wear the country's uniform. This is tragic. It leads to decision-making that fails to factor in what is best for the military, and by extension, best for our security as a nation.

I'm not saying that because I am a veteran I should have special privileges. The fact that I and others served ensures that all Americans have equal privileges. Instead, I am filled with a special pride and honor. And I feel that I have definitely earned my right to have an opinion, whether or not it is agreeable to people.

We veterans are small in number. This is why we must be large in voice. We have a special responsibility to share what we know to be true about the world - that there will always be bad people who desire our destruction. That wars, although a horrible thing, will likely always be necessary to confront and defeat those people. That diplomacy would be great - if it worked to secure our liberty the way military might does.

Today I pray earnestly for the safety of our men and women in uniform. I pray for all those who have ever answered their country's call to service. I pray that we will all continue to do what we swore to do, years ago in some MEPS Station, to "defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic".

This is our duty, my fellow Veterans. Our country needs our voice again. Our country calls. May God give us the strength and will to answer.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Happy Birthday


Today is the 233rd anniversary of the founding of the United States Marine Corps. For those of us proud to be able to claim the title of U.S. Marine, this date, 10 November, is affectionately known as "The Birthday".

In 1775, war appeared to be looming between the American colonies and Great Britain. On 10 November of that year, the Second Continental Congress began organizing a military to confront the threat. Part of that military force was to be "two battalions of Marines", whose function was to be the defense of ships at sea, protection against mutinies, and offensive operations from ship to shore. Their organization began at Tun Tavern in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

Marines have served in every American war and military operation since that time. The name "Marine" still inspires fear and awe in America's enemies, and a kind of pride and love that can only be fully understood by those who have proudly worn the Marine uniform. No other fraternity is as loyal. One of the best things about the Marines, in fact, is the loyalty between us. I can honestly say that if I were ever to fall on really hard times - if I were to be stranded in the middle of nowhere, whatever - there are 4 or 5 people I know for a fact would come to help me. That is rare in this world.
Charlie ("ChuckEddie") was one of those people. Charlie was my longest-term friend in the Corps. We served together for 45 of my 48 months on active duty. We were roommates in the barracks. We were close as brothers. I knew all his stories and he knew all of mine - good, bad, and ugly. There was no other Marine who better exemplified what being a Marine means. He was always there to help a friend in need. He was always quick with a hand, quick with a beer, quick with a joke, and poison with a gun. I would have trusted him with my most prized possessions. I'd have trusted him with my life. I am honored beyond words to know that he'd have trusted me with his. I looked forward to telling the old stories with ChuckEddie in our old years, on a porch somewhere in the American West that we both loved. We lost ChuckEddie in May. I miss him every day. The world, my life, and the Corps are poorer for his loss. This Birthday is bittersweet for those of us who loved Charlie.
I wish all my brothers and sisters in arms a very Happy Birthday, wherever they may be.
Semper Fidelis.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

The Hope and Change Cabinet: Secretary of State (part 2)

Contender #2: Senator John F. Kerry


Biography


John Forbes Kerry was born in Aurora Colorado in 1943. His father was a U.S. Foreign diplomat and his mother was a daughter of the very well-to-do Forbes family. John spent his early years traveling the world and summering at the Forbes family estate in France. He attended several very prestigious Massachusetts boarding and prep schools, where he rubbed shoulders with such American notables as the John F. and Teddy Kennedy, Richard Pershing (grandson of General Pershing) and future FBI director Robert Mueller.

From 1962 to 1966, Kerry attended Yale University. He graduated with a B.A. in Political Science. He was a member of Skull and Bones. Even at Yale, as the Vietnam War was beginning to heat up, he was beginning to argue against what he called “American Imperialism”, and did so eloquently enough that he won the Ten Eyck prize for oration in 1965. He continued this argument against American foreign policy when he gave his class commencement speech at graduation in 1966.

Kerry began his much-analyzed and much-criticized military service by accepting a commission in the U.S. Naval Reserve in August of 1966. He served honorably for 3 ½ years, and achieved the rank of Lieutenant (O-3). He asked for and was granted early resignation so that he could run for Congress. He spent the years from 1970 to 1972 engaged in a number of highly-publicized anti-war activities, perhaps most famously throwing his medals over the fence at the U.S. Capitol and accusing the U.S. of war crimes.

Kerry lost his first bid to become a U.S. Congressman from Massachusetts in 1972. Instead, he became an activist and advocate for a number of civic organizations. Eventually, he went to law school and graduated with a J.D. from Boston College in 1976. After passing the Massachusetts bar exam, he became a prosecutor of some success, trying a rape case and a murder case successfully. He opened his own practice in 1979 which was successful. He left law, however, in 1982 to run for Lieutenant Governor with Gubernatorial candidate Michael Dukakis. They won handily. Two years later, when Paul Tsongas announced his retirement from U.S. Senate, Kerry ran for his seat and won.

Senate Career Highlights:


· Supported and defended Daniel Ortega, leader of the Sandinistas in Nicaragua, against the strong opposition from the Reagan White House. Ortega was accused of strong communist ties, which Kerry denied. Kerry’s interference convinced Congress to vote against funding for Ortega’s enemies, the Contras. The next day, Ortega flew to Moscow to receive a $200 million donation from the USSR.
· Embarrassed by the Ortega incident, Kerry spearheaded the effort to embarrass the Reagan administration; he personally outed NSA operative and Marine Colonel Oliver North in 1988. He was assisted in this effort by Senator Christopher Dodd. North was eventually exonerated on appeal in 1991, but his career and work were ended prematurely by Kerry’s arrogance.
· Stumbled onto corruption in the London bank BCCI while investigating Panamanian president Manuel Noriega
· Spoke at 1996 Democratic National Convention
· Was on Al Gore’s short list for V.P. candidate in 2000
· Ran for President in 2004 – lost.

Positions


Life

Supports abortion on demand during any trimester for any reason

Supports experimentation on human embryos

Opposes the death penalty

Liberty

Supports radical gay agenda, and supports gay marriage

Property

Supports punitive progressive taxation

Bill of Rights
Amendment 1
1. Supports free speech, especially protest and flag-burning
2. Opposes free speech through lobbyists / special interests
Amendment 2
1. Opposes through numerous limits and restrictions (infringements)
Amendment 4
1. Supports through Patriot Act domestic surveillance opposition
Amendment 9
1. Opposes through supporting special rights and protections for alternative lifestyles and minorities
Amendment 10
1. Undermines by supporting large and powerful central government


Qualifications for job

Closeness to President? NO
i. Besides endorsing Obama early (in January 2008), the two don’t really seem to have much to do with each other. Their styles are very different.
Effective communication with diverse audiences? NO
i. Kerry’s elite upbringing and blue-blood show through, and his arrogance is likely to alienate the young and equally arrogant Obama.
Appropriate face of American foreign policy? NO
Kerry has made only a few calls in his long career in the service of America. He’s gotten 100% of them wrong.
1. Vietnam – supported Communist North Vietnam.
2. Vietnam – accused U.S. of war crimes (like Genghis Khan)
3. Nicaragua – supported Communist Sandinistas.
4. Iran-Contra – outed and discredited true hero Ollie North
5. Iraq – supported, then opposed, then supported (lost track)
6. Iraq – opposed surge, which worked.
Aggressively pursues American interests – NO
i. John Kerry, through ignorance or through design, actually seems to pursue America’s downfall. I have to believe it’s intentional, because if not, he’s the unluckiest S.O.B. of a gambler in history.
Final score?
John Kerry seems like the worst possible choice (even of these three crappy choices listed) for Secretary of State. If they had a cabinet department for clowns, he’d be a shoe-in.

Amen, Sir. Amen.

'Heavenly Father, we come before you today to ask your forgiveness and to seek your direction and guidance.

We know Your Word says, 'Woe to those who call evil good,' but that is exactly what we have done.

We have lost our spiritual equilibrium and reversed our values.

We have exploited the poor and called it the lottery.

We have rewarded laziness and called it welfare.

We have killed our unborn and called it choice.

We have shot abortionists and called it justifiable.

We have neglected to discipline our children and called it building self esteem.

We have abused power and called it politics.

We have coveted our neighbor's possessions and called it ambition.

We have polluted the air with profanity and pornography and called it freedom of expression.

We have ridiculed the time-honored values of our forefathers and called it enlightenment.

Search us, Oh God, and know our hearts today; cleanse us from every sin and Set us free. Amen!'



Rev. Billy Graham
Prayer for America
2008