Thursday, February 24, 2011

Criticism Welcome - Comments Preferred

Recently I’ve received criticism from readers who think I should focus on “more important” issues than the ones I’ve posted. The latest came after my post about the Obama family taking an elaborate ski vacation just days after the President spoke on television about how tough things were for the average family and how many of them probably wouldn’t be able to take their planned vacation because of the economy.

It seems some people misunderstand my blog. I write about things that are on my mind, whether from the headlines or some article I read, or even something I heard on the radio or TV. Sometimes it’s not even news but something that happened in my life or to someone I know. Bottom line is – I write what I want to write and not what others want me to write. If I was writing for others I’d be making money from it and I can tell you right now – that’s not happening!

I’m always happy when people read what I write. And I enjoy the feedback, whether they disagree with me or not. I don’t, however, ask anyone to read my writings. (Well, almost never. There are occasions when I ask certain people to read something because I think it’s something they will enjoy.) I post my writings and people choose to read them or not. They comment when they feel the urge and I read every one, whether on my blog page or on Facebook. And often, on Facebook, they begin a discussion of the issue or something related, which is always a good thing. But sometimes I think some people read too much into what I’m saying. The other day I was told there are far more important things to worry about than the Obama’s taking a vacation. And while that is very true – my blog isn’t meant to be an effort to save the world. It’s but a small glimpse of some of the things in my head on any given day. Certainly there are more serious topics I could write about and at times I do. But sometimes I simply focus on something that bothers me at the time. And the great thing about it is – it’s my choice to write about serious world problems or something simple that bothers me. (My blog post about the Obama’s didn’t get into policy, politics or partisanship but that’s where the discussion led and I was told I wrote it simply because I don’t like the President instead of because I found the whole thing hypocritical.)

Anyway, my blog will continue unabated and I will continue to write and post what I want. Readers are still free to read it or not and to comment. I simply wanted to clarify that I do this for my enjoyment and no other reason. There will still be discussions and at times I’ll still be accused of ignoring the important things, I suppose. I would rather people keep their comments and/or criticisms related to the actual article but that’s OK. They know where I’m coming from.

If you’re reading this I thank you for giving my blog your time and attention. It’s nice to know someone actually reads what you wrote, even if they don’t agree.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

More Hypocrisy In Washington?

On Tuesday the President made a speech and addressed the economy. He said he knows families are having to cut back and cited “staying home instead of going out for dinner” and “maybe they won’t get to take that vacation they wanted to take.” He said he knows everyone will have to cut back a little because of the economic situation.

Three days later, on Friday, the First Lady and their daughters took a ski vacation in Vail, Colorado. They are staying at The Sebastian, an exclusive resort hotel in downtown Vail and on Saturday evening it’s reported the First Lady had dinner in Restaurant Kelly Liken, an expensive restaurant that is so exclusive you have to get on a waiting list (unless you’re the First Lady, of course.) The President didn’t go on this trip. He was apparently coaching daughter Sasha’s soccer team, even as she was skiing in Vail.

Please don’t misunderstand - I understand being President has its perks and I do not begrudge the President taking time off. Being President is a stressful job even on the best day and Mr. Obama certainly deserves to get away for some R&R now and then. His family also deserves to do things that are fun and get away from life in the fish bowl of the White House now and then. What bothers me about the whole thing is this is not the first time President Obama has spoken publicly about the need for American families to cut back then takes off (he and the family or, in this case just the family) for some exclusive trip somewhere at the taxpayers’ expense and for everyone to see.

The report says Michelle Obama is paying for their incidentals and that’s noteworthy however, how many thousands of dollars did it cost to get them there? How much did the government in Colorado spend on security measures and how much are we spending on Secret Service agents to go skiing with them? And before someone says “The Secret Service would be with them anyway” let me say this: While it’s true the Secret Service would provide protection for the First Family at the White House do you really believe it takes as many agents to protect them in that secure environment as it does to protect them on the open ski slopes at Vail?

My whole point here is that the President is either completely out of touch with the American people, he doesn’t mean the things he says or he simply doesn’t care what the people are going through. It’s a slap in the face to Americans who truly are suffering, cutting back and unable to do the things they want to do when the President talks about how tough things are for everyone and specifically mentions a vacation people won’t be getting, then he and/or his family go on a vacation a few days later. He says he feels the pain, the angst, and understands how the people must be feeling yet his actions say “I feel you but I’m the President and I do what I want regardless of what’s happening to you and your family.”

Maybe I’m making too much of this but it’s not the first time this has happened and I’m fairly sure it won’t be the last. The President could stop family vacations for a little while to show respect for those who can’t take one themselves, or at the very least he could put it off for more than three days after making a speech about families having to cut back on vacations. Is it too much to ask that our President actually show a little empathy for the people instead of just expressing it verbally? Each time Mr. Obama does something like this I’m reminded of Mel Brooks’ movie “History of the World” in which Brooks plays King Louis the XVI and utters his famous and prophetic line “It’s good to be king.”

Monday, February 21, 2011

Is Madison Just The Beginning?

Today marks day 6 of the protests in Madison, Wisconsin, against the governor’s plan to reduce the state deficit by making state employees pay into their health care and pension funding and reducing their bargaining rights. The protests seem to be growing daily and neither side wants to back down.

Meanwhile, children in Madison go without school. Teachers all over the city and region have called in sick to either be at the protest themselves or to show support for the protest, leaving the schools no choice but to remain closed. Exactly what lesson are they teaching the kids, overall?

While it’s certainly understandable that state employees aren’t happy about the changes proposed by Governor Walker, is shutting down the schools the way to go? Certainly it shows the kids the American freedom to stand up for your beliefs but what else is it showing them? How much power does a union have when it can simply close our schools and leave the kids to fend for themselves? And how long will the teachers’ union allow it to go on? The state Senate has enough Republican votes to pass the legislation without assistance from the Democrats, although they can’t hold the vote without a minimum of 20 participants and with the Democrats hiding out of state they can’t hold the vote. It seems they’re simply delaying the inevitable since the governor doesn’t seem willing to back down. So how long will the teachers stay out of school and at what cost to the state and to the students?

There are many citizens in Wisconsin who aren’t union members who agree with Governor Walker’s plan; probably more than union members themselves. The governor himself announced long before the day came that one of his foci was union pensions and collective bargaining for state employees. The unions are saying this was a surprise even though they passed out flyers during the campaign that talked about Walker’s intentions. Does the governor now bow to the will of the unions and toss his plan simply because the unions are protesting?

It seems the Democratic National Convention and the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) have gotten into the fracas, helping to organize the protest and providing people to increase the crowds. After all the hoopla from the left about violent rhetoric from the right, some signs being carried by protesters call for the death of the governor by hanging, characterize him as Hitler and some show the governor in the crosshairs. Yet where is the outrage and condemnation from the mainstream media, Nancy Pelosi and even the President of these signs? Is the violent rhetoric acceptable in this case because the left is protesting? Hypocrisy seems to run deep these days.

It’s not a good time to live in Wisconsin, I suppose. There is no easy answer and it seems Greece has come to America. Is this just the beginning of mass union protests all around the country as some state governments try to get a handle on their budgets by reducing the power and the cost of unions? Who really runs the country - the people or the unions? I think it may be time for us to find out. And I don’t think it’s going to be pretty.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Politicans - Lead By Example!!

All across the country governments, Federal and state, are looking for ways to cut their budgets and reduce spending to reduce their deficits. Many states are in the same position our Federal government is in – in the hole when it comes to actual money. There are many reasons for these deficits but the largest, obviously, is that our governments have been living beyond their means. Like many families in this country, our politicians are spending more money than they take in. The difference here is if a family gets too far into debt they have two options, get another job to increase their income or file bankruptcy. When our government spends too much they expect their constituents to pay for it.

In Wisconsin, Ohio, and other states, governors are working to strip government employees of their bargaining rights so they can decrease their pay and benefits in order to save money. These plans are effecting government office workers, teachers, firefighters, police, etc., and obviously (and expectedly) are causing great turmoil in the states where proposed. It’s no surprise that these people don’t want their benefits cut and their bargaining rights taken away. And rightly so. But is it the right way to go to save money?

There are definitely problems with some unions who have negotiated their pay and/or benefits to a point where they are unsustainable by the corporations or the governments that have to pay them. The unions, however, are only partly responsible for these problems since the employer negotiated the terms and arrived at an agreement. So should the employer, in this case state governments, now be allowed to simply disband the unions and cut employees’ pay and benefits because they negotiated something they can’t sustain? I really don’t know the answer to that question but I know if the governments continue to drain money they will ultimately fail. And if that happens these people who are now protesting will be unemployed.

The President and many of our elected officials in Washington have said we all need to tighten our belts and make sacrifices to assist with reducing the Federal deficit. One Republican Senator, Ben Quayle of Arizona, has introduced a bill that would cut the pay of all Federal employees by 15%. This is on top of a pay freeze announced by the President and a hiring freeze government wide. What’s interesting is that I haven’t heard the President, Senators or members of the House say they would be taking a pay cut of any kind. There have been bills proposed to cut Congressional pay by 5% but my research so far hasn’t shown that bill, or any other like it, has been approved. And even if it was – 5% for Congress and 15% for everyone else? Oh, the sacrifices our elected officials make in the name of the people!

There have been a small handful of individual elected officials who have voluntarily taken a pay cut and they are to be applauded. Others have opted out of the first class health care system in favor of their own, private health care plans to save money. These are the types of people we need in our government.

I believe if our governments, Federal and state, want the people to sacrifice and accept pay cuts to help pay the bills created by those governments, our elected officials should lead by example. They should all take pay cuts and it should be front page news all over the country. Maybe then the people would be more willing to accept what’s being done to them. I don’t think it will change many minds as far as bargaining rights go but it might make a pay cut easier to swallow if it was first done by our politicians.

I could be wrong about or politicians not taking these pay cuts but I can’t find any evidence. If I’m wrong I welcome someone to show me. I certainly don’t want to criticize our government unfairly.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Tiger Fined For Spitting

A few days ago golfing great Tiger Woods was fined an unknown amount of money by the European Tour for spitting on the green during the Dubai Desert Classic. Apparently spitting on the green is against the rules for professional golfers.

I can understand it, I suppose. If someone’s spit lands on the green and it doesn’t soak in it could definitely be a health hazard for anyone coming behind whose ball might roll through it. Not to mention that it’s somewhat disgusting to watch. But fined?

Golf is the gentlemen’s game and is supposed to be refined and polite. Although the cameras sometimes catch a mouthed profanity (darn those close-ups) when a golfer makes a bad shot they are said quietly and few people actually hear them. And that’s a good thing I guess, although the game would be far more entertaining if some of the players were more like Happy Gilmore. Can you imagine a couple of golfers getting into a fistfight on the fairway somewhere? Blood, cursing, maybe losing a shoe…? I think they’d sell a lot more spectator tickets if golf got a bit more like professional wrestling. But that’s just me.

Anyway – Tiger was fined for spitting on the green. One can’t help but wonder what the fine is for that. But if you’re fined for spitting, I can only imagine what the penalty would be for farting on the tee…

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Obamacare creating jobs...

In direct rebuke of Republican criticism the Obama administration has created jobs in this country. Maybe the word hasn’t gotten out yet:

The Internal Revenue Service says it will need a battalion of 1,054 new auditors and staffers and new facilities at a cost to taxpayers of more than $359 million in fiscal 2012 just to watch over the initial implementation of President Obama's healthcare reforms. Among the new corps will be 81 workers assigned to make sure tanning salons pay a new 10 percent excise tax. Their cost: $11.5 million.

This doesn't even take into account the hundreds that will be required to build the new facilities, the IT specialists that will be necessary to get everyone up online in time to go to work, and the cleaning crews, mechanical crews, etc., for the new buildings.

The IRS document also noted that other tax law changes related to the stimulus require more workers, estimated at about 215 new employees.

See there? The Obama administration has created a minimum of 1,269 jobs already just to handle the new taxes they have created. Isn't it wonderful how raising taxes can put people back to work? Interesting though how the new jobs are all with the Federal government. Just think how many more jobs can be created but Obamacare…

Here’s a question we need to be asking about the new health care law. Will doctors and their staff all become Federal employees? If not, how will the government force doctors to treat patients who will have a right to health care if the doctors don’t want to cooperate?

According to something I read recently, Canada has a single payer system rather than a socialist medical system, which means rather than getting paid by various insurance companies they get paid by the government and also collect from the individual patients. So Canada basically subsidizes each citizen’s health care.

Many doctors in the U.S. are saying they will have to stop seeing as many patients, particularly Medicare and Medicaide patients, because the government is going to cut payments to them. If this happens, how are we saving anything?

I began thinking of this after reading a comment following an article about health care. The comment basically said people have no right to the labor of others, meaning people don't have the right to force a doctor to see them. If health care becomes a right, will doctors be jailed and charged for refusing to see a patient? After all, if health care is a right, anyone denying that health care would be violating the civil rights of others.

My "socialist" friend said if police, firefighters, and the military have to serve the public then medical people will too. I had to remind him that all of those he mentioned are paid by the government so it was a completely different thing. His response was that all medical staff could become Federal employees and we could pay them with all the "savings" the more efficient health care business will generate. And what we can't get that way we'll make up by taxing the rich.

If health care workers become Federal employees it will increase the size of government by millions of people. How people still believe it will be cheaper is beyond me. According to the article about Canada, many people don’t pay much at all in health care costs because their coverage is paid mostly by their employer. But isn’t employee based health care one of the things the government is trying to get rid of? My socialist friend says people who have health care supplied (at a more affordable cost) by their employer are slaves to the employer and/or that it’s feudalism. But at the same time he praises the Canadian system.

Contradictions abound.

Friday, February 11, 2011

God, Jesus and Internet Dating

I want to start this by saying I don’t mean to offend anyone in any way. The things I write here are my own opinions and do not reflect my feelings toward any of my friends, family, or acquaintances who may disagree with me. I am fully open to the ideas and beliefs of others and I hope they feel the same way about me and my ideas.

I hate that I feel the need to put a disclaimer at the beginning of this post but I think the topic, and my thoughts about the topic, could possibly offend some people I know if I don’t reiterate that these are my ideas only and I don’t judge others who think differently than I do. I don’t even say they are wrong and I am right except in jest. I don’t want anyone to believe otherwise. Two paragraphs later, it’s time to begin on the actual subject of today’s post.

Yesterday morning I saw a commercial on television for a Christian dating website. The announcer said “If you are tired of dating the wrong people and are looking for a Christian partner, join our website and let God pick out your mate for you.” I’m sorry… wait – no I’m not - this statement strikes me as blasphemous or, at least, as close to blasphemy as you can get without actually meeting the dictionary’s definition of the word. “Join our website and let God pick your mate”?

I can’t even describe that statement as arrogant because it is so much more. First of all, many people who are Christians and in a healthy, successful relationship already believe God picked their mates for them and they never had to join a website. Secondly, and more important, is the fact that some people may actually believe this announcer’s statement. Personally, I’ve never believed that God sits around with his all powerful supercomputer and sends messages to people, looks at what websites they join and picks their mates based on the correct website.

I have no problem if people want to join a website to find a mate and I really have no problem if those people believe God is going to choose that mate for them. What I have a problem with is the statement by the website that God will do that. On what authority do they speak for God and what He will do? And how did they get Him to work for them?

Some of you may wonder about my religious/spiritual status since I’m saying these things. I believe in God and in Jesus Christ and was baptized in the Baptist church as a teenager. Although I don’t attend church these days, I still have my faith and have had it work in my life. So I’m not talking as someone who doesn’t believe God can perform miracles or have a hand in our everyday lives. That said - I don’t believe God or Jesus Christ have Facebook accounts nor that they pick mates for people if those people join the right website. When I see the commercial I don’t know whether to be irritated or simply laugh. I can’t help but wonder if some poor schmuck will get their “Christian mate chosen by God” who turns out to be an abuser or an alcoholic or just a dirt bag and then will blame God for their situation. After all, the website said “God will choose your mate for you.”

I could go on about the Facebook page called “Jesus Christ” but I think people get my point. Things created by men (humans) that claim to be of God are often simply a way to get people to pay attention to their cause. I’m not saying no one is sincere. There are plenty of good people out there who share ideas, dreams and hopes about God and Jesus and spirituality who are above board and honest. The Facebook page that calls itself “Jesus Christ” (something that just rubs me the wrong way) has many wonderful followers who do just that – share ideas and thoughts and scriptures with each other. I have no problem with the contents of the page. I just think it takes someone really bold to create a page with that name, as if they (the page creators) are Jesus Christ himself. I’ve found that the more bold the statement the less likely it is to be of God and more likely to be about money, attention or business.

I could be wrong about all of this and again, I truly hope none of my friends are offended by anything I’ve said here. I don’t judge others for their beliefs, whether they agree with mine or not. Believing as you do is your right and I fully support that right. These are my thoughts on a subject that was on my mind. I hope I’ve expressed it adequately.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Missing You Christopher...

Today marks the 9th anniversary of the accident that took my son from this Earth. Most of you know about it already but for those who don’t, Christopher was 17 and was sleeping in the back seat of a car without a seatbelt when the accident occurred. He was thrown from the car and sustained massive head trauma when he hit the ground. He never knew what happened.

I don’t tell you this to gain sympathy. My motive is far from selfish. I’m writing this today to remind all of you how terribly fragile life can be and how quickly and easily someone we love can be taken from us. Never in my life had I imagined living the rest of my life without my son. Yet, it happened.

On this day I would ask each of you to do me, and yourselves, a favor. Hug your children and tell them you love them. If you can’t do it in person, at least call them and tell them you love them. If even that’s not possible, say a prayer and ask God to pass on the message. I have a feeling God answers those prayers fairly quickly.

Life goes on but it’s different. Please remind your kids and your grandkids to always, always wear their seatbelts. Christopher would most likely still be alive if he’d been wearing his. (The other two people in the car walked away with scratches.) And he was taught from the time he was a baby to wear his seat belt. We’ll never know why he chose not to wear it that night. In addition, remind your kids about the dangers of texting while driving. More and more kids these days are dying because of this type of distracted driving. Cell phones and driving don’t mix well.

We, the adults, are the ones who teach our children right from wrong and smart choices from poor choices. Unfortunately, when they begin making their own choices we can’t protect them. All we can do is give them a good foundation for making their own decisions and hope for the best. And sometimes we’re disappointed.

Christopher - I love you and I miss you more than I can put into words. You were, and still are such a bright light in my life. I can still see your smile and hear your laugh. You are a part of me and a part of my heart and you always will be. Don’t look down and think your old dad is lame - I only get this way a few times a year. I know you’d hate it but I can’t help it sometimes. Besides – you’re not here to be embarrassed!

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Leave My Big Mac Alone!

The Food and Drug Administration is telling restaurants to cut portion sizes served to customers to help with the fight against obesity.

One has to wonder when this is going to stop. When I go to a restaurant I look for several things, those being quality of food, quantity of food and service. Of course the quality of food is first and foremost. If the food isn’t good I won’t return. If the service isn’t good but the food is good, I may give it another try sometime down the road to see if it just happened to be the particular waiter or waitress who was the problem. But if I feel the price is too high for the amount of food that I receive, or if I finish a meal and I’m still hungry because the portions aren’t big enough, I won’t be a regular patron of that restaurant.

Now the government wants to dictate how large a portion should be. One has to wonder, if you go to a pizza restaurant alone will you no longer be allowed to order a large pizza because the FDA doesn’t think you need it? If you supersize your lunch because you’re a bit more hungry than yesterday, will you have to be reported? Will the supersized lunch even exist anymore?

Don’t get me wrong – I am not making light of obesity in this country. It’s definitely a problem and changing it is important for the health of all Americans. But when the government gets involved in telling us what we can and can’t eat, or how much we can eat, in my opinion they’re crossing the line.

Food doesn’t cause obesity any more than guns kill people, any more than pencils misspell words, any more than cars cause accidents – not even Toyotas according to a recent government report. In most cases (leaving out medical conditions that cause weight gain and/or keep people from exercising) obesity is caused by one thing – lack of discipline. If you can’t control how much you eat it’s a lack of discipline. If you don’t exercise and burn calories it’s a lack of discipline. Despite what the TV commercials say (that if you can’t lose weight It’s not your fault) If you gain weight from these two things and are not physically or medically unable to change it, it’s your own fault. But now the government wants to take that problem out of your hands.

I have no problem with the government wanting schools to serve more healthy food to our kids. It is always a good thing to offer healthy choices to kids at mealtime when possible. But do we take away the not so healthy things completely? What do we do for kids who simply don’t like and won’t eat the healthy choices? (This is a lack of discipline also, on the parents’ part as well as the children’s.) Do we let them go hungry? That’s certainly not a good option. If a kid refuses to eat lunch at school he goes the entire day without nourishment.

What do we do in that case – put him in a retraining camp, along with his parents? Force feed him? Maybe suspend him until he learns to eat? Why not? The government, after all, is just looking out for our well being.

Having the government suggest healthier eating habits is fine. It’s what government should do - suggest. Having the government dictate what we can and can’t eat, or put extra taxes on things they deem unhealthy, is wrong. We are still a free country, so far, and can make our own choices, right or wrong. I would hate to see what will happen in this country if and when the government decides Big Macs (and other things) are no longer legal for sale or consumption in this country. It doesn’t seem so far-fetched anymore. Maybe the fast food industry should start making some major campaign contributions to our politicians. After all, tobacco is still legal...

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

The President, The Chamber of Commerce, Michael Moore and Capitalism

President Obama yesterday told the U.S. Chamber of Commerce they need to work more with the government and share more with their workers.
Speaking to the Chamber on their home turf, Obama stressed that businesses owe certain responsibilities to the nation. “I understand the challenges you face. I understand you are under incredible pressure to cut costs and keep your margins up. I understand the significance of your obligations to your shareholders and the pressures that are created by quarterly reports,” Obama said. “I get it.”

“Of course, your responsibility goes beyond recognizing the need for certain standards and safeguards. If we’re fighting to reform the tax code and increase exports to help you compete, the benefits can’t just translate into greater profits and bonuses for those at the top. They should be shared by American workers, who need to know that expanding trade and opening markets will lift their standard of living as well as your bottom line.”

Some liberal organizations took exception to Obama addressing the Chamber at all. “Two weeks ago the President promised that he would work to rebuild people’s faith in government. Meeting with the biggest lobbyists in the country is hardly a step in the right direction,” said Erica Payne, the founder of The Agenda Project, a 501(c)4 that works with progressive organizations to coordinate messaging.

It seems to me Mr. Obama is clearly unqualified to be advising businesses (or their lobbyists) on how to conduct business. He has a law degree and was a community organizer, with no discernable business experience at all. Does being President automatically make you qualified in the world of business?

Mr. Obama was also praised by the main stream media as being like John F. Kennedy in this address. While Mr. Obama indicated that corporations should “ask what you can do for your country”, the truth is the current administration is completely opposite of JFK when it comes to stimulating the economy and growing jobs. In 1962, JFK addressed this issue eloquently:

“But the most direct and significant kind of federal action aiding economic growth is to make possible an increase in private consumption and investment demand — to cut the fetters which hold back private spending. In the past, this could be done in part by the increased use of credit and monetary tools, but our balance of payments situation today places limits on our use of those tools for expansion. It could also be done by increasing federal expenditures more rapidly than necessary, but such a course would soon demoralize both the government and our economy. If government is to retain the confidence of the people, it must not spend more than can be justified on grounds of national need or spent with maximum efficiency. And I shall say more on this in a moment.”

“The final and best means of strengthening demand among consumers and business is to reduce the burden on private income and the deterrents to private initiative which are imposed by our present tax system — and this administration pledged itself last summer to an across-the-board, top-to-bottom cut in personal and corporate income taxes to be enacted and become effective in 1963.”

So in the words of JFK, tax cuts for citizens and corporations stimulate and grow the economy. President Obama didn’t even want to extend the Bush tax cuts for the people, let alone for corporations. So what part of Obama is like Mr. Kennedy?

On a lighter note, it seems capitalist hating, money loathing Michael Moore is unhappy because he feels Bob and Harvey Weinstein ripped him off for 2.7 million dollars for his movie “Fahrenheit 9/11. Mr. Moore received 19.8 million for the film (that alone must have been extremely painful for him to accept) but believes he is due another 2.7 million and is suing the Weinsteins for that difference.

I’m sure Mr. Moore only wants to collect his extra millions to give away to those who have less. After all, he’s done that with the other 19.8, right? (After a few million for operating expenses, of course.) Geez, up until now I always figured Michael Moore for a straight up, money hating, stand up for the little guy, one of us kinda man. Yeah, right.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Islam And The Rights of Women

A 14 year old girl died recently in Bangladesh from injuries received from a public flogging she suffered for adultery.

Hena Begum, 14 years old, reported that she had allegedly been raped by her 40 year old, male cousin. The cousin denied the allegations and said the girl was an adulteress and his family beat her physically, then told authorities. A village council, made up of elders and Muslim clerics in the district, sentenced her the next day to 100 lashes for her “adultery”. The girl collapsed after 80 lashes and was taken to the hospital, where she later died.

Islam is a religion that basically demeans women and treats them as lower class, subservient citizens. It claims to be a religion of peace yet this type of punishment is more common than many people realize in cases of rape. All it really takes is the word of a man over the woman. Recently, a couple in Afghanistan was stoned to death for adultery. Islam is also a religion that encourages honor killings if a woman brings dishonor on her family by fraternizing with the opposite sex who is not a family member. This even happens in the States. I don’t know any other modern day religion that kills people for their sins, yet there are those in the USA who want to embrace Islam as a whole and look the other way when it comes to these behaviors that are perfectly legal in many Muslim countries. People will decry human rights violations in a nation such as China but will refuse to say anything about the mistreatment of Muslim women. It makes no sense to me.

In New Jersey last year a judge dismissed a case of spousal rape against a Muslim man, who had forced, non-consensual sex with his wife, because Muslim law allowed it. Said the judge, "This court does not feel that, under the circumstances, that this defendant had a criminal desire to or intent to sexually assault or to sexually contact the plaintiff when he did. The court believes that he was operating under his belief that it is, as the husband, his desire to have sex when and whether he wanted to, was something that was consistent with his practices and it was something that was not prohibited." The case was overturned by the appellate court but the fact that an American judge ruled in such a manner proves the influence Sharia law is beginning to have even here in the United States. Either that or the judge personally feels all women should submit to their husbands without question.

Fortunately, three of the elders and one Muslim cleric in this case have been arrested in connection with the girl’s death and 14 others are wanted. It appears Bangladesh isn’t going to allow this type of activity for now. Bangladesh's high court has ordered district officials to explain why they did not protect the girl. The court ruled eight months ago that Shariah punishment was illegal. I wonder how long it will be before these practices are no longer illegal in Bangladesh, in European countries and, eventually, here in the States?

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Janet Napolitano: Borders Are Safer Than People Think

In a recent speech at the University of Texas at El Paso, Janet Napolitano recently said our cities along the Mexican border are safer than people think.

"It is inaccurate to state, as too many have, that the border is overrun with violence and out of control," Napolitano said in prepared remarks. "This statement - often made only to score political points - is just plain wrong. Not only does it ignore all of the statistical evidence, it also belittles the significant progress that effective law enforcement has made to protect this border and the people who live alongside it."

Napolitano made this statement in a city that has experienced automatic weapons fire coming across the border and in a state where drug cartels and even Mexican authorities have crossed the border illegally, and a rancher was killed by illegal aliens in their quest to reach the United States. I’m not sure who she was trying to convince as the people who live in El Paso know first hand the dangers of living on the border. (I would have loved to have been in that audience in El Paso to see the audience reaction.)

Perhaps Ms. Napolitano has forgotten about the conditions in her own state where, in response to the ever increasing violence there, the Federal government (basically her department) has erected signs warning American citizens not to venture too close to the border out of fear for their own safety. If the borders are safe, why were these signs necessary?

Secretary Napolitano went on to issue an ultimatum to the drug cartels and others who threaten violence on or near the borders: "Today I say to the cartels: Don't even think about bringing your violence and tactics across this border. You will be met by an overwhelming response. And we're going to continue to work with our partners in Mexico to dismantle and defeat you. And that message extends to anyone considering coming across that border illegally, whether a smuggler, a human trafficker, or an unlawful immigrant seeking work."

That’s mighty tough talk from a government which has done very little to stop illegal border crossings and put up signs instead. Does this mean the President and the Department of Homeland Security are actually going to do something about the problem? Just last week Sheriff Joe Arpaio of Arizona rounded up 60 some illegal aliens in a legal, law enforcement operation. Immediately the Department of Justice dispatched investigators to Arizona to talk to Sheriff Arpaio’s deputies about the legality of their actions. The Obama administration is currently still engaged in a lawsuit against the state of Arizona for enforcing immigration laws that they (the Obama administration) refuse to enforce. Rather than be embarrassed that a governor had to take matters in her own hands (because the Federal government won’t do it) the Obama administration is suing the state to make them stop. It’s not only ridiculous it’s downright embarrassing for people who still have some pride in our system of government.

I’m sure the drug cartels are truly frightened by Janet Napolitano and her threats, particularly since the violence, kidnappings and murders of Americans has gone virtually unchecked to date. In fact, it seems the only people doing anything about it at all are local law enforcement agencies in Arizona, New Mexico, California and Texas. But, of course, they’re subject to being sued by the President and the Attorney General. And I’m not sure what statistics she’s talking about but the numbers of bodies of American citizens are rising, both in Mexico and here in the States. And Phoenix continues to be the kidnapping capitol of the country, almost all of which are done to and by illegal immigrants. Maybe we need a few more signs, printed in Spanish and facing the other way. While they’re at it they should also post a few more Spanish signs that say “Arizona has very citizen friendly gun laws and many of us own guns. If you come on my property and endanger my family I will shoot you. You’ve been warned.” But alas, that would be violent, racist rhetoric and would probably make some poor, mentally deficient lad shoot a politician. And we can’t have that. Of course, someone would ultimately blame Sarah Palin and Glenn Beck….