Friday, July 04, 2008

Obama certainly is the candidate of change

...the candidate of the change of mind.

I don’t think that always sticking to one's original position is necessarily a virtue. Circumstances change or one gets new information. I have changed my mind on several important issues over the years.

Some years ago, I was a global warming skeptic but as I studied the issue and gained more knowledge I began to accept the prevailing scientific opinion. Now, I think global warming may be the most important issue we face and think we must develop polices that address it.

I was once a supporter of isolating and punishing Cuba, but that was when Cuba was a client state of the Soviet Union. Circumstances changed and I think we should change our policy. I see our current policy as irrational and counterproductive

I once helped mount a local campaign to stop a one-cent sales tax on gasoline; now I favor a nationwide carbon tax. So, I am certainly tolerant of those who change their mind.

I understand that a campaign to get your party’s nomination is a different campaign and a different audience than the general election campaign to win the office. Candidates often move toward the center in the general election. Obama, however, must be setting a new record for rapid change of positions. He is making a radical transformation before our very eyes.

Quite frankly, I like the new Obama much, much better than I liked the old Obama. If Obama would only “clarify” and “refine” his position on national health care, I might even be able to vote for him. I might be able to bring myself to vote for him if I could believe him. I am just not sure the new Obama is the real Obama. Would the real Obama please stand up?

On the FISA compromise bill, which would give the phone companies immunity for helping the government engage in illegal wiretapping, he did a complete reversal. Did he not once say that he would not support any retroactive immunity for the phone companies? He flip-flopped with this simple explanation: "My view on FISA has always been that the issue of the phone companies per se is not one that overrides the security interests of the American people."

On Iraq, during the primary, it seems that Denise Kucinish, Bill Richardson and Barack Omaba were competing to see who could promise to get out of Iraq the fastest and damn the consequences. I seem to recall Obama saying something about being out within 16 months.

Recently he said, “I’ve always said that the pace of withdrawal would be dictated by the safety and security of our troops and the need to maintain stability. That assessment has not changed. And when I go to Iraq and have a chance to talk to some of the commanders on the ground, I’m sure I’ll have more information and will continue to refine my policies.”

That is reassuring. That is reasonable. I was fearful he really meant he would have all troops out in 16 months.

On Iran, during the primary he certainly seemed to reassured war-weary, Bush-scared voters that he would never attack Iran. More recently he said the use of military force should not be taken off the table when dealing with Iran and he called Iran "a threat to all of us."

One of the biggest flip flops of all is his rejection of public campaign financing. His campaign’s claim that he does not need the public funding because he is racking in mass amounts of cash from small contributors is bogus. He is getting the corporate money and the funding from the well-connected. I am not a supporter of public campaign finance myself, so I don’t criticize him for opting out of public funding, but do not see how he can do it with a straight face. It is reassuring to see that Obama is not the Messiah, but just another lying politician.

He has also reversed his position and endorsed the Supreme Court rulings on the death penalty and gun control without adequate explanation. He has also said he would not only continue but would expand the Bush faith-based intuitive. And, during the primary wasn’t he saying something different about NAFTA than what he is saying now? Have you noticed that he has started wearing every politicians favorite fashion accessory, the flag lapel pin?

Obama has been able to do all this without apparently angering his most “progressive” supporters. Of course, they have no place to go. They are not going to vote for McCain and I don’t see them jumping on the Ralph Nader bandwagon. Still, they must feel betrayed. Don’t you know many of them are feeling like they should have went with their first instinct and voted for Kucinish? If you consider yourself a “progressive”, do you not feel betrayed?

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I Can’t Drive 55

Sen. John Warner, R-Va., has indicated that Congress may want to consider reimposing a national speed limit in an effort to curtail gasoline consumption. I have been expecting this. He has asked Energy Secretary Samuel Bodman to look into what speed limit would provide the optimum gasoline efficiency. He has asked if the administration might support efforts in Congress to require a lower speed limit.

In 1974 in response to the Arab oil embargo Congress set a national 55 mph speed limit. The speed limit stayed in effect until 1995.

In about 1987 I went through a divorce and my ex-wife moved from Nashville to McKenzie, Tennessee, a distance of about 125 miles. She had custody of our five-year-old daughter but I had liberal visitation. I was determined I would not lose contact with my daughter so I continued to exercise my visitation despite the distance. For about the first year after her move out of town, when my daughter was six, I continued my every other week visitation and the every Wednesday night visitation. Later I reduced the Wednesday night visits to the alternate Wednesdays when I did not have weekend visitation. A couple years later I discontinued the Wednesday night visitations all together. I thought while she was young, that the regular continued contact was important. And, it was certainly important to me.

I had the greatest car I ever had during this period. It was a 1986 Pontiac 6000, Sports Touring Edition. It had a sunroof, a great stereo with controls on the steering wheel, rack and pinion steering (what ever that is) and something called “engineered ride control.” The shocks would pump up and adjust to how fast you were driving and the amount of weight you were carrying. The car seemed glued to the road and the steering was real responsive. I loved that car!

I bought the absolutely best radar detector money could by and I burned up the road. Every Wednesday I would leave work early, drive to McKenzie, visit my daughter and drive back. Riding the same route every Wednesday night, I got to know every bump in the road and I learned where the state troopers usually hid. I would crank up the radio, and make the trip and did not mind the drive at all. After a while, it seemed like the car drove itself. I would leave McKenzie and when I hit the interstate I went into an almost trance-like state. I would enjoy the music and in no time at all it seemed like I was home.

I routinely drove at about 85-90 MPH. Sometimes my speed would creep up to over 100. The radar detector kept me from getting numerous tickets but radar detectors are not fool-proof. I had some friends in high places at the time and I got a couple tickets “dismissed.” A couple times, highway patrolmen cut me a break and gave me a warning or wrote the ticket for a lower speed than I was really driving. After about the fourth ticket however and notice that one more ticket would cause me to lose my license, I slowed down. By that time, I was ready to discontinue the Wednesday night trips anyway.

I hated driving 55. I hated driving 75. If I would have obeyed the speed limit, I would not have been able to visit my daughter. In a good car, Interstate driving at 80 is not so bad; interstate driving at 55 is hard work.

A 55 MPH speed limit will bring back CB radios and disrespect for the law. Like Sammy Hager says, "I Can’t Drive 55!"

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Message on the Observance of Independence Day

Ronald Reagan, July 3, 1986

Like all great holidays, the Fourth of July brings to mind the traditional ways we celebrate: dazzling fireworks displays light the skies; march music fills the air; parades with flags and floats and blaring bands brighten the broad avenues of our cities and the main streets of our small towns; families get together with friends and neighbors for picnics and barbecues; patriotic songs stir the heart. These are the images -- glad, bright, and touching -- that we have come to associate with the Fourth of July from the time we were children.

It is altogether fitting that we should celebrate this day with great joy, because it is the birthday of our beloved country. It is especially fitting that it should be celebrated as a family holiday and a community holiday, because it commemorates our solemn bonding together as a new nation -- the American Family.

It is a day not only for celebration but also for reflection -- a day to ponder what it was that forged 13 diverse colonies into an unbreakable union that has endured and grown and prospered for more than two centuries. What was the secret that emboldened a loose confederation of some two and a half million settlers on the Eastern rimland of the New World to challenge the might of the most powerful colonial empire on earth?

Quite simply, it was the courage and the vision of our Founding Fathers. They seized the unique historical moment Providence had placed within their grasp. Determined to protect and guarantee fundamental human rights, they felt called upon to bring our nation into being.

In order to give that new nation shape and direction they drew freely on the riches of the Judeo-Christian tradition with its central affirmation that God, not chance, rules in the affairs of men, and that each of us has an inviolable dignity because we have been fashioned in the image and likeness of our Creator. The Founding Fathers established a nation under God, ruled not by arbitrary decrees of kings or the whims of entrenched elites but by the consent of the governed. Theirs was the vision of a striving, God-fearing, self-reliant people living in the sunlight of justice and breathing the bracing air of liberty.

As the years unrolled, generations of Americans painted that vision across the broad canvass of the continent. It has always been the secret of our progress, our power, and our prosperity. Whenever we have allowed it to fade we have done so at our peril. Whenever it has burned bright we have amazed the world with our inventiveness, our daring, our achievements, and our magnanimity.

Through the years, America's promise of liberty and justice for all served as a magnet, drawing to our shores millions of people yearning to breathe the heady air of freedom. They flocked here from every continent, bringing with them the riches of their customs and their cultures; precious strands of every color, tone, and texture, to be woven into the rich tapestry of America.
And still they come, drawn by the promise of liberty under law, guided still by the beacon light of liberty whose most majestic symbol -- newly refurbished this year -- is the Lady with the Lamp who stands in New York harbor. Her high-held torch beams forth the same message that the Liberty bell rang out more than 200 years ago, the message of Leviticus:

``Proclaim liberty throughout the land, unto all the inhabitants thereof.''

As we celebrate this day, let us draw closer to all of our fellow citizens in common purpose guided by a common vision. Let all Americans like one grateful family honor our Founding Fathers and all who have worked and fought and died to keep their dream alive. Let us renew our commitment to the message and the meaning of the Declaration of Independence:

``That all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness -- That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed. . . ''

Let us sing again the great patriotic songs:

God bless America, land that I love
Stand beside her, and guide her,
Through the night, with a light from above.
Let the words ring out loud with conviction and with joy:

America! America!
God shed His grace on thee
And crown thy good with brotherhood
From sea to shining sea!

To all my fellow Americans -- Happy Fourth of July!

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Thursday, July 03, 2008

Obama promises, "No New Profits."

WASHINGTON (IP) — Sen. Barack Obama on Sunday said as president he would strengthen government oversight of energy traders he blames in large part for the skyrocketing price of oil.

"Read my lips: No New Profits!"

"Some people blame low oil supplies or high oil demand for the recent spike in gasoline prices," said the presidential hopeful, "but these are just outdated economic theories. The real cause is speculative trading in the oil futures market. Trading by unscrupulous, unpatriotic profit-mongers. My administration will put a stop to this by making it illegal to sell oil futures for more than was paid for them. Without the market distortion caused by the so-called 'profit-motive' , our energy market - under the prudent and level-headed guidance of the federal government - will once again become both free and fair."Obama said that he intended to implement his "No New Profits" pledge within his administration' s first 100 days, promising to expand his economy-saving plan to other markets as his tenure progressed.

"Although I've long stood against the 'excessive' profits made by oil companies," said Obama, "the fact is that ALL profits are inherently excessive. That's why I vow to extend this program to other markets as well. Food, precious metals, stocks, bonds - all will eventually be both bought and sold 'at cost'. With all price fluctuations banned by the force of law, America will finally have a stable, sustainable, plannable future, unmarred by the evils of fear or uncertainty.

"The Democratic contender, however, reassured his audience that this new stability would not interfere with the creation and implementation of new government programs. "Some of my critics contend that without profits, we would be unable to collect the new taxes necessary to implement important new government programs like Universal Health Care, but we will find a way to make the wealthy pay their fair share. They'll just have to sell off their mansions and limousines."

"At cost, of course," he concluded.

Commentary: This speech by Obama should appeal to the Democratic base, many of whom are socialist at heart. Unfortunately, I also run into people who drive SUV's and are not necessarily die-hard Democrats or very political at all who will also find this rhetoric appealing. There seems to be a lot of people, even otherwise educated people, who simply have no understanding of economics. An increase in the price of their favorite commodity or a loss of a job and they are ready to tax away an industry's profits, embrace wage and price controls, and nationalize companies. You may recall, California Representative Maxine Waters called for "the government taking over and running the oil companies" back in May. Despite the repeated failures of socialism, there are many who still find it appealing.

OK. For you people in Antioch, the Obama speech is a parody. That is not a real story and he really didn't say those things. I don't want this to become one of those Internet rumors that are repeated as the truth. Unfortunately however, as bizarre as it may sound, Maxine Waters did call for oil company nationalization.

Author unknown, I plucked this from a chat group. Commentary is mine.

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Tuesday, July 01, 2008

City Starts To Seize Music Row Property

To learn more about this story and see a Channel 5 news report click the title above.

Does this look blighted?
It is not pretty. It is not even charming; but would you call it blighted? This is the home of Country International Records, and it is in the way of a new high rise. Metro wants to take it and sell it to the developer.

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Agency's property grab on Music Row is 'blighted', all right


Blighted. That could very well be one of the most powerful words in America today.

It strikes terror in the hearts of those on the receiving end of it. It's wielded like a sword by power-crazed municipalities. Its interpretation is widely subjective, and those who are the first to utter it often own the power of its definition.

That sword is being wielded against a Music Row business of a quarter century that just happens to be sitting in the way of a Houston developer who wants to build a hotel/condo complex on the Music Row Roundabout.

To read the rest of the above article click the title.

What is happening in Nashville is an outrage. I agree wholeheartedly with Phil Valentine when he says, "This whole notion of taking someone's property just because you think it can be used in a better manner runs contrary to every principle we hold near and dear as Americans."

Our newly elected mayor could stop this. We have a forty member metro council. Any one of them could speak up for private property rights and try to stop it. If a council member was not able to stop it, he could at least make the Council go on record and this would allow us to know who does and who does not, believe in private property rights.

I am a pragmatist and do feel there are times when use of eminent domain is necessary. Sometimes we need to widen roads or take property to build a school. Sometimes, it may even be necessary for slum and blight clearance, but it should be used very sparingly. The property discussed in this article is not blighted! It is simply in the way of a private developer who wants it.

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Sunday, June 29, 2008

Why is America so Violent? How Violent is America?

A few years ago, my wife-to-be at the time, Louella, and I were vacationing in France. We were visiting Avignon. On a beautiful spring day, we walked across the bridge to the town on the other side of the river that borders the city. We had no destination in mind but were just exploring. We happened to come across a regional trade fair set up in a large tent. We were not on a schedule and the admission was cheap, so we went in. Inside there were probably 50 or more vendors exhibiting their products and giving away samples: wines, cheeses, sausages, spice cakes and other goodies, all for free. It turned out to be a delightful day and was one of those things you just accidentally stumble upon, that make a trip memorable.

Many of the booths were representing vineyards and the vendors were offering wine tastings. Each had several wines and were generous with their samples. We spent a couple hours slowly making our way around the tent, visiting the exhibitors. Since the vendors were there for the day, they seemed to be in no hurry and were eager to engage in conversation and tell us about their vineyards and products. We felt like we were really getting to know the people and were having an experience that cannot be captured by simply visiting the tourist sites.

Many of the exhibitors spoke some English, while some of them were quite fluent. They wanted to know where in America we were from; what we did for a living and our impressions of France. Many of them had questions about life in America and American culture. One delightful man, after conversation about other things, asked me a question I did not know how to answer. Imitating a double holster quick draw, and accompanied by verbal sound effects, he asked, "Why America so violent a country?" What could I say?

How violent is America? How do we stack up in gun deaths compared to the rest of the world?

We are the 8th most deadly country in the world.

Below is a list of the 32 most deadliest countries. I ask you to look at those that are more deadly than the US: South Africa, a nation that has had violence rooted in the apartheid system and tribal conflict. Columbia, home of the drug cartels and drug wars. Guatemala. Paraguay. Zimbabwe! How does it feel to be ranked with third world dictatorships and with poor countries wracked by wars and rebellions?

Among industrialized Democracies, we are the most violent. The majority of European democracies don't even make the list. England, France, or Italy are not in the top 32. The U.S. has a rate of 3.6 gun deaths per 100,000, while Germany has a rate of 0.46. This is 1/7 that of the U.S. Spain's rate is 0.25, which is 1/14 that of the U.S. What is the reason that we are 14 times more deadly than Spain? It seems we just accept that is the kind of country we live in. Most civilized nations of the world would find our gun death rate unacceptable. I am embarrassed that my country is such a violent, deadly nation. We should not be happy about this statistic. Below are the rankings.

Firearm Homicide Rates per 100,000 people.
#1 South Africa: 74.5748
#2 Colombia: 51.7683
#3 Thailand: 33.0016
#4 Guatemala: 18.5
#5 Paraguay: 7.3508
#6 Zimbabwe: 4.746
#7 Mexico: 3.6622
#8 United States: 3.6
#9 Belarus: 3.31
#10 Barbados: 2.9963
#11 Uruguay: 2.5172
#12 Lithuania: 2.2463
#13 Slovakia: 2.1659
#14 Côte d'Ivoire: 2.068
#15 Estonia: 1.534
#16 Macedonia, Republic of: 1.2802
#17 Latvia: 1.2648
#18 Portugal: 0.8488
#19 Bulgaria: 0.7714
#20 Slovenia: 0.6036
#21 Germany: 0.4672
#22 Moldova: 0.4671
#23 Hungary: 0.44
#24 Poland: 0.4289
#25 Ukraine: 0.3495
#26 Australia: 0.3073
#27 Czech Republic: 0.2624
#28 Spain: 0.2456
#29 Azerbaijan: 0.2236
#30 New Zealand: 0.1827
#31 Chile: 0.1776
#32 Singapore: 0.0249

This list is from the website

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Barack Obama on Gun Violence

Barack Obama, the Presidential Democratic Party candidate, supports banning all guns in America. He is considered by those who have dealt with him, as a bit more than just a little, self-righteous.

At a recent rural elementary school assembly in East Texas, he asked the audience to be totally quiet. Then, in the silence, he started to slowly clap his hands once every few seconds, holding the audience in total silence. Then he said into the microphone, "Children, every time I clap my hands together, a child in America dies from gun violence."

Then, little Richard Earl, with a proud East Texas drawl, pierced the quiet and said: "'Well, dumb-ass, stop clapping!"

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