Friday, February 19, 2010

Mega-Kudos to Team USA!

After years of being "close" in the Winter Olympics, the Americans have been exceeding all expectations at this year's games in Vancouver. They currently lead the medal count with 18 so far (with 9 days left), and are 7 medals ahead of the number 2 nation, Germany.

This is a leapfrog over the performance in Torino 4 years ago, where the Americans finished 2nd behind Germany (29-25 overall). The United States Olympic team has placed better emphasis in Winter Games in recent decades, and the efforts are showing. Just to give you an idea...

Lake Placid, 1980: 12 medals (3rd place, but 10 medals away from 2nd place USSR, and 11 less than East Germany)
Sarajevo, 1984: 8 medals (tied for 5th place, winner was the USSR with 25 medals)
Calgary, 1988: 6 medals (tied for 6th place, winner was USSR with 28 medals)
Albertville, 1992: 11 medals (6th place, winner was Germany with 26 medals)
Lillehammer, 1994: 13 medals (tied for 5th place, winner was Norway with 26 medals)
Nagano, 1998: 13 medals (6th place, winner was Germany with 29 medals)
Salt Lake City, 2002: 34 medals (2nd place, winner was Germany with 36 medals)
Torino, 2006: 25 medals (2nd place, winner was Germany with 29 medals)

America has only won the overall medal count in the Winter Olympics once, at the 1932 games in Lake Placid. It's nice to see our athletes perform so well on an international stage in a venue that they haven't always been so successful.

On a related note, the Russian team, who predicted they would win 40 medals (including 9 golds), are currently well back with 4 total medals, and only 1 gold.

Go Team USA!!!

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Ok, See, When I Warned the Tea Parties Yesterday, THIS is What I Meant!

Apparently, the Tea Party activists are going after Ron Paul for not being "conservative enough." Although Paul has been supportive of the movement, he's been moving away from them recently because he feels the tone has been overly-antagonistic.

Ron Paul's 2008 Presidential bid is what was the catalyst for the Tea Party movement! I cannot stand for this, and I'm already going to endorse Ron Paul for re-election to his seat in the House of Representatives.

See, this is what happens when you don't stick to your fundamental principles because you attract the wrong kind of people. I'm so angry at this right now, I'm ready to tell the Tea Partiers to stop dumping the tea, and jump off the ship themselves.

Monday, February 8, 2010

An Objective View of the Tea Party Movement

I'll preface this by saying that I've never attended a Tea Party demonstration. I do like the initial principles that were espoused by the Tea Party: limiting government, promoting free enterprise, and protecting individual freedom. I am skeptical about where this movement may be headed, given the philosophical predilictions of those who have jumped on board with the Tea Partiers in recent months.

Anyway, I'm going to take a look at the Tea Party, where it can do a lot of good, and what it needs to do to avoid being "hijacked" by people who don't understand the true principles of the movement.

Let's be real, here...the Tea Party Movement is too large to be considered a bunch of "fringe right-wing wingnuts". This movement is something that has appeal to conservatives, libertarians, and third-way/centrist Democrats who saw the prosperity that came with the 1990's and the continuation of non-expansionist government policy.

There are those who think that it is a racist movement, since it is anti-Obama. I'm a bit tired of this rhetoric. As long as Obama is black, there will always be someone who claims any attempt to push back against his agenda is rooted in some kind of blatantly racist motive. Since Obama will always be black, there will always be someone who pulls the race card to discredit the push-back.

While I'm sure there are those who may hold such sentiments within the movement (as there are in all political parties), it is an obviously small minority. There are too many people who favor the Tea Party principles that it isn't some kind of tiny fringe group who happen to make a lot of noise. Get over it, race-baiters, the Tea Party principles of good, limited government are more in line with Ron Paul than with Pat Robertson, despite what others may want you to think.

While many may knock Sarah Palin, she said some things that many people across the majority of the political spectrum (except for dedicated "progressives"). In fact, I was watching MSNBC after Palin's speech, and they had the always-thinking Lionel talking about what Palin said. I do not remember who was hosting the post-speech commentary, but I know it was someone who was a part of the left (I think it was Ed Schultz, but I could be wrong). However, Lionel told the host that in Palin's speech "she said things that, if it wasn't Sarah Palin saying them, you would agree with."

Palin's general stance on the fact that government should roll back it's size and scope is one that many, many people can agree with. Given Palin's populist appeal, she can be a lightning rod for the Tea Party Movement to push forward with more support.

The movement (and using Palin as a lightning rod) is not without faults, though.

First of all, the Tea Party Movement (in principle) should really have nothing to do with religion. However, using Palin as a lightning rod will naturally attract a lot of social conservatives. The same social conservatives who supported the Republicans who allowed government spending and budget deficits to expand on their watch for 6 years under George W. Bush. If we want to move in a different direction, we have to change fiscal thinking and reduce government's size and scope. This will require moving away from the social issues, as they are not part of the Tea Party's principles.

There are those who want to push very "Christian" ideals in the Tea Party (I guess sensing an opportunity to "start over and get it right" in their opinion). Some of the ideas I've heard tossed around have involved pushing Christianity in schools (or "keeping God in school"). I've found this to be odd, because all through my 13 years of primary education, I only found "God" to be a part of school twice...once, in Kindergarten, at a Lutheran school...and the other in 8th grade, at a Catholic school. The rest of the time, I was in public school, and I don't remember there being a God to how can we put him back if he wasn't there in the first place?

OK, obviously I was going for a little humor there, but the point is made. We can teach kids the basic morals of civilized society (which yes, I do believe are derived from religious beliefs of many different kinds...which goes to show you that religions aren't as different as some may think). Most of the people who are pushing these things are new to the Tea Party, and see it as some kind of new conservative party, instead of a push for fundamental change in governmental philosophy back to the foundation set by our founding fathers.

Secondly, the Tea Partiers must recognize that the Republicans are jumping on board because the concepts of limited government and personal freedom (sound familiar libertarians?) are part of the core of conservatism (see the Reagan quote in the subtitle of this blog)...which the Republicans moved away from over the past decade or so. They know to win back the populous, they need to adopt these aspects of the Tea Party. However, those who hold true to the Tea Party's principles need to make the politicians move to them, and not the inverse.

See, if they move towards the Republican Party in it's current state, you're moving towards such politicians as Tom Tancredo (whose stance on immigration is more than just anti-illegal immigrant), the hardline SoCons (who want to ban gay marriage and all abortions, as well as bring about more theocratic philosophy), and RINOs.

So I warn the Tea Party...stick to the principles that the majority of people believe in (which is a mostly libertarian-based philosophy with some conservative elements). Keep government's size and scope in check, allow for free enterprise for all, a strong national defense that is for defensive purposes (emphasis on "defensive"), and reforms of ineffective government policies (like current immigration laws).

Otherwise, you will allow the more extreme elements that have joined your movement to allow you to continue to be marginalized by politicians and the media elite.

As for Palin for President in 2012? I doubt it. She is better in her role as a spokesperson and rally artist for a governmental philosophy, but I do not necessarily see her as a leader of a nation, as she carries a lot of negative baggage. Then again, if she can prove to me that she is a better candidate in 2012 than she was in 2008, I might change my mind. However, right now, I can't say that I could go with her as a potential presidential candidate.

On that note (2012), I would like to see Ron Paul run for President again, but that's just me :)

**Addendum To This Post - 8:16 PM**

Leslie Carbone, one of my favorite intellectuals anywhere, addresses some of my same concerns in her latest post, "The Problem With Palin", and brings up a few new issues as well.

So That Was It?

Saw the Focus on the Family ad with Tim Tebow...and the only thing I have to say is "that's it?"

All this uproar over that? Hell, I wouldn't have really had a clue as to the whole point of the commercial if I wasn't already expecting to see it. I actually missed the first few seconds of it because it was so nondescript in nature.

The ad seemed harmless enough to me. Didn't even really touch anything controversial, just highlighted the fact that Tim Tebow is a good guy and seems to love his mother. Unless there was something really controversial said in those first few seconds, I don't quite know why this ad was so controversial...unless the idea of giving a link to Focus On The Family's website is somehow subsersive and evil in and of itself.

Meh, seems like it was really much ado about nothing.

Oh yeah, and congrats to the Saints for winning the Super Bowl. A solid enough game that really had to wondering who would win until late in the 4th quarter. I know I enjoyed it.

Friday, February 5, 2010

India Pulls out of U.N. Climate Panel


The nation of India has pulled out of the IPCC (Inter-governmental Panel on Climate Change) due to the fact that they believe they can no longer rely on the data provided by the IPCC. I can believe it, given the recent disputes regarding the validity of the IPCC's study that basically amounted to Chicken Little-esque claims of a weather-related armageddon within the next few decades.

Instead, India has done what sovereign nations should do...they decided to do the research themselves. India's environment minister summed it up well, stating...

“There is a fine line between climate science and climate evangelism. I am for climate science. I think people misused [the] IPCC report, [the] IPCC doesn’t do the original research which is one of the weaknesses… they just take published literature and then they derive assessments, so we had goof-ups on Amazon forest, glaciers, snow peaks.

“I respect the IPCC but India is a very large country and cannot depend only on [the] IPCC and so we have launched the Indian Network on Comprehensive Climate Change Assessment (INCCA)”.

This should sting, not just because of the snubbing of data or the justified claims of because one of the lead scientists on the IPCC is from India.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

The Decline of Civilized Society

It's not coming from anything political. It's not coming from any kind of supervirus. It's not even going to be related to "climate change".

It will come because our future generations of leaders have lives are so devoid of meaning that you end up with things like this.

I shake my head and fear for my future if this is who will be running things when I am old and grey."

Freeman Says What Most Blacks Won't, and a Little History For You

Morgan Freeman stated in a recent interview that he finds Black History Month to be "ridiculous". When asked how we can get rid of racism, he plainly stated "stop talking about it."

As someone who can be classified as a "minority", I can agree with these sentiments. I do not need a special month dedicated to the history of my hispanic heritage (though there is one). I also find the concept ridiculous. History is history, and the history of blacks, whites, hispanics, and everyone else in America should be integrated into "American History", plain and simple.

Speaking of Black History Month, here is a little history they don't teach you...

Ever notice that S.B. Fuller is never mentioned in Black History text? Of course you didn't, because you probably don't know who Fuller is. Fuller, who lived from 1905-1988, was a notable black entrepreneur who founded Fuller Products Company, publisher of the New York Age and Pittsburgh Courier, head of the South Side Chicago NAACP (the same area Barack Obama represented in the Illinois State Senate), president of the National Negro Business League...and believed that it would be through capitalism, not government intervention and socialism, that black people would move ahead.

See, Fuller rose from being a poor child in rural Louisiana who dropped out of school in the 6th grade, and built his wealth on an investment of $25 that he turned into millions over several years. Fuller believed that capitalism, if utilized by the black community, could lead to civil rights and equality a lot faster than if the government mandated it. Fuller believed capitalism is colorblind, stating "It doesn't make any difference about the color of an individual's skin. No one cares whether a cow is black, red, yellow, or brown. They want to know how much milk it can produce." Mind you, he made this statement in the 50's, when racism and segregation were still rampant.

However, he made comments that angered the left-leaning black leaders at the time, which have blackballed Fuller from almost all Black History lessons.

For instance, in 1963, when inducted into the National Association of Manufacturers (the first black to be inducted), he stated "a lack of understanding of the capitalist system and not racial barriers are keeping blacks from making progress." He also stated that "If the Negro had the amount of initiative, courage, and imagination required, he could control the retail selling in his own community. Since he represents 10 percent of the population of America today, he would be able to employe 1,065,000 people. There are 1,788,325 retail establishments in America and yet in New York City, where there are over 1,000,000 Negroes, they do not own over 15 businesses which employ over 10 people."

Now, Fuller didn't state it there, but he did believe that discrimination did play a role as well. In U.S. News and World Report interview, he stated that "The Negroes have been free for 100 years. But, during that time, the white man has not told Negroes the truth. He has always taught the Negroes that they were at a disadvantage. He never told Negroes that they should do business for themselves, that they should clean up their own community and that they should accept community responsibility."

(side note...don't we still use that term "disadvantaged" for minority youth in inner cities? Fuller believed this is not the method in which you empower minorities)

In the same interview, Fuller also stated "Negroes are not discriminated against because of the color of their skin. They are discriminated against because they have not anything to offer that people want to buy."

Fuller also used to talk about he wanted blacks to stop begging the white man with "a handful of gimmes and a mouthful of much obliged".

Fuller's statements were meant as a wake-up call to blacks to start pooling their resources and go into business for themselves and empower themselves. However, black leaders saw this as "blaming the victim". Despite the fact that Fuller was essentially stating the same things that Booker T. Washington stated several decades before, black leaders (and leftist whites) saw Fuller's comments as being against their agenda because it was pro-free enterprise.

Thus, since Fuller's beliefs did not fall in line with "affirmative action" or any of the other agendas of those who advocated civil rights mandated by government intervention, his contributions to society and civil rights has slid down the Orwellian memory hole.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Snowpocalypse 2010

The first reports have said "12-20 inches" from the National Weather Service. However, a little birdie has told me that VDOT is preparing for totals reaching 36-50 inches. Either they are overpreparing, or this thing is gonna be huge by the time it reaches us.

I saw record snowfall several years ago when 41 inches fell in my front yard and swallowed my yardstick (I had to go out and stick another ruler on top of where my yardstick was). However, that was a "straight snowfall", where the weather was cold and snowy, but nothing else.

I'm now seeing warnings of blizzard-like conditions, with high winds and blowing/drifting snow on top of the accumulation we are expecting. We've seen some real notable snowfalls in the past 1 1/2 months (including 20+ inches in December), but this may be the KO punch that shuts things down for a few days.


The prediction for the central and northern Shenandoah Valley is now up to 20-28 inches.