Friday, August 24, 2007

Defining Ourselves

You know, I just re-read the first paragraph of the Who I Am post, and thought I needed to comment on it. To refresh our memories, mine in particular, here is the paragraph in question:

In today’s America, ask a growing number of high school and college students; their teachers and professors; the self-anointed media elite and/or hard working men and women of all ethnicities, the question, “What is a Republican?”, and you’ll be told “… a rich, greedy, egotistical individual, motivated only by money and the desire to accumulate more and more of it, at the expense of the environment … the working poor ….and all whom they exploit…”

Seems to me that the people who believe this definition of a Republican is doing something they profess to abhor: profiling. Taking certain characteristics and assigning them to a particular group of people.

Well, we are all guilty of profiling, me included. Because I work in a jail, I tend to think of anyone who has been incarcerated as some kind of lowlife. That's not true and I was reminded of that fact when I met a gentleman a couple of weeks ago, who during the course of our conversation inquired as to where I worked. When I told him "at the jail" he asked when. What he wanted to know was whether I worked there when he was hauled in for a DUI. It was his first and last, and a wake up call that drinking and driving do not go together. So, the upshot of this lesson to me was just because someone was arrested doesn't mean they are a bad person. Find out who and what this person is, in the appropriate context and then make your decisions based on all the facts.

Profiling is when we take the facts we know, or think we know, and apply them to everybody in that group of people. And have you noticed that when we profile, we usually do so in a negative manner? For instance: hmmm...he's olive-skinned with dark hair and eyes. We must keep an eye on him, he might be a terrorist! Or, she's wearing tight-fitting jeans, a crop top, too much makeup and is holding a baby. Trailer trash! Both conclusions may be correct or both wrong, we don't know on just these few facts. But that's not going to stop us from making certain assumptions. Do we leave it at that, or do we try to learn more about the person? A lot of the time, we don't have the opportunity to learn more. What we should do is give people a chance. We all learned biases and prejudices as we were growing up and through life experiences. It's what we do with those assumptions that make the difference.

In my personal opinion, the description given above of a Republican could just as easily fit a Democrat. But then I'm an Libertarian leaning Independent. I don't trust politicians at all anymore.
What I Am

As promised, here is the text of an email I received, then had to delete due to a comment that had nothing to do with the post, and not much to do with anything else that I could figure out. For some reason, I was unable to find it in my index, but found it at this link. It can also be found at my favorite urban legends site,

You’re a Republican???

In today’s America, ask a growing number of high school and college students; their teachers and professors; the self-anointed media elite and/or hard working men and women of all ethnicities, the question, “What is a Republican?”, and you’ll be told “… a rich, greedy, egotistical individual, motivated only by money and the desire to accumulate more and more of it, at the expense of the environment … the working poor ….and all whom they exploit…”

I am a Republican … I am none of those things… and I don’t know any Republicans who are.

WHAT I AM … first and foremost, is a loving husband of some 52 plus years, the father of four and an American who’s proud of his country… and his country’s heritage.

WHAT I AM … is the grandson of immigrants who risked everything, including their lives and those of their children, to escape tyranny in search of freedom.

WHAT I AM … is a man who grew up during the Depression and witnessed, first hand, the effects of the Stock Market crash and the soup lines that followed. I watched as both my parents and grand parents, who had very little themselves, share what food they had with a half dozen other families, who had even less.

WHAT I AM … is someone who worked his way through college by holding down three and four jobs at a time and then used that education to build a better life.

WHAT I AM … is a husband who, at age 24, started his own business for the “privilege” of working 60, 70 and 80 hours a week, risking everything I had, including my health, in search of a better life for myself and my loved ones.

WHAT I AM … is a businessman whose blood, sweat and tears…. and plenty of them…, made it possible for me to provide a secure living, not only for my family and myself, but also for literally hundreds of my employees throughout the years. Employees, who in turn, were able to buy their own homes, raise their own families and give back to their communities and their country.

WHAT I AM … is a man who believes in God; a God who has blessed this country… and all for which it stands.

WHAT I AM … is someone who knows, if you doubt miracles exist in today’s world, you need only to look into the face of those who received them … and the eyes of those who give them.

WHAT I AM … is an American who’s proud that his President embraces a belief in God; proud of a President who understands, as “politically incorrect” as it may be, there is evil in this world and for the security and safety of all freedom loving people everywhere, it must be confronted… and it must be defeated.

WHAT I AM … is an American who takes comfort in the knowledge that our President refuses to allow decisions concerning the very safety and security of this nation, to be governed by the political whims of foreign governments.

WHAT I AM … is tired of hearing from leading Democrats who see only negativity in America; racism in her people; class warfare in her society and “political incorrectness” in her character.

WHAT I AM … is a former democrat who now understands that it is the soldier and not the reporter that guarantees us our freedoms of press, speech and dissent.

WHAT I AM … is a man who believes in the sanctity of life. A man who is repulsed by the pandering of the political left for votes, at the expense of the unborn.

WHAT I AM … is a husband and father who believes in the sanctity of marriage and the preservation of the family unit.

WHAT I AM … is a movie go-er who is repulsed by those insecure, socially inept, elementary thinking, ego-inflated “entertainers” who have appointed themselves “experts” in the fields of national security and geo-politics and then use their forum to attack this nation, its leaders and its actions…. much to the delight and encouragement of our enemies.

WHAT I AM … is an American who understands the difference between “censorship” and “choice”. Evidently, these individuals do not, because when these same “celebrities” receive public ridicule for their offensive actions, the first thing they yell is “Censorship!”. What they seem incapable of understanding is… the right of free speech and dissent is shared equally by those offended… as well as those who offend. I support and will continue to support those films and performers whom I choose to … and refuse to support those I don’t. It is my right as an American … a right I will continue to enthusiastically exercise.

WHAT I AM … is a voter, tired of politicians, who, every time their voting records are subjected to public scrutiny, try to divert attention from their political and legislative failures by accusing their opponents of “attack ads” and “negative campaigning”…. and the news media who allow them to get away with it.

WHAT I AM … is a Catholic who loves his God and his Faith… and who’s been taught to respect all religions whose teachings are based in love, peace and charity. As such, I am embarrassed and ashamed of those individuals, in both private and public life, whose decisions and actions are devoid of any sense of character or morals; individuals who are only driven by what’s best for them … rather than what’s right … often times at the expense of many …. including our national security.

WHAT I AM … is a realist who understands that the terrorist attack that murdered hundreds of innocent Russian children could have occurred here, in our heartland. That’s why I sincerely believe America needs now, more than ever, a President who sees with a clear and focused vision and who speaks with a voice when heard by both friend and foe alike, is understood, respected and believed.

WHAT I AM … is eternally grateful to Ronald Reagan for having the bravery to speak out against Communism and the courage of his convictions in leading the fight to defeat it; and George W. Bush for the vision, courage, conviction and leadership he has shown in America’s war on terrorism amidst both the constant and vicious, personal and political attacks both he and his family are made to endure.

WHAT I AM … is a human being, full of numerous faults and failures, but a man nonetheless, who, though not always successful, has continually strived to do “what’s right” instead of “what’s easy”. A man who is challenging the religious leaders of all faiths, to not only preach to their congregations the fundamentals of “what’s right” and “what’s wrong”, but to also then hold them accountable for their actions in both the public and private sectors.

WHAT I AM … is disgusted with the Courts who, on one hand, call the murder of a pregnant woman a “double homicide” but then refer to the abortion of her baby as, “pro-choice”.

WHAT I AM … is someone deeply troubled by a political party which embraces a candidate whose primary “leadership” qualities center around his protesting of the Vietnam war and his labeling the honorable men and women who fought in it, (50,000 of whom gave their lives in that action), as rapists, and war criminals. That same political party then stepped forward this year to block the appearance of a true Vietnam war hero, retired Admiral and former United States Senator, Jeremiah Denton, (a man who spent seven years and seven torturous months in a North Vietnam prison), from speaking before an open session of the California legislature as part of that state’s 4th of July celebration. The reason Democrats gave for refusing to allow this American hero to speak before their state legislature was because of the “conservative” nature of his views. As an American, that troubles me deeply ….as well it should you.

WHAT I AM … is a man who feels the need to spend, $104, 655.60,(tax paid) of his own money, to purchase this advertisement, in order to set the story straight. Some may say this money would have been better spent feeding the world’s poor. At the risk of sounding self-serving, as an American and as a Republican, for the last six decades of my life, I have done exactly that… and more. Following the examples of my parents and grand parents, I have used my earnings to feed the poor, shelter the homeless, provide housing for the elderly and medical care for the sick….. and continue to do so… and I’m not alone in that work.

WHAT I AM … is someone who is paying for this announcement, at my sole expense, in hopes of opening the eyes of those led blindly by ill-informed elements of our great nation, who, through either ignorance, or malicious intent, repeatedly attack and belittle those of us who belong to a political party that holds true to the belief, “… the rights of the governed, exceed the power of the government”. For those interested, I am speaking only as a tax-paying individual who is in no way associated with The Republican National Committee, nor with any of its directors, or delegates.

WHAT I AM … is a man who understands, “the American way of life” is a message of self-empowerment for all.

WHAT I AM … is an American who is grateful that our nation gives each of us the opportunity of self-determination and the right to benefit from the fruits of self achievement.

WHAT I AM … is an American who wants to preserve that way of life for all who seek it.

WHAT I AM … is blessed to be an American…. and proud to be Republican.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Be Careful of What's on the Other Side of the Door

I went into the laundry room of my condo early this afternoon to clean up in and around the litter box (the dogs use it too. And, as most males of my knowledge, they usually miss and hit the outside of the box but that's another story). I decided to put my stepladder outside and opened the slider to the patio.

Suddenly, I was under attack! I didn't know what was happening other than it hurt! I finally realized that it was wasps that were stinging me. I counted four stings before I managed to get the door closed and get away from it. After I ministered to my owies and said a few cuss words in relation to the lineage of the wasps, I went to the slider and found that two or three were still in the house, caught between the slider and the curtain. A rolled up newspaper took care of that problem and I was able to look outside and saw the problem.

The wasps had decided that the corners of my slider, between the slider and the screen door, would be a good place to build not one but two nests. When I opened the slider, it really made them mad. They swarmed at me, stingers first. I didn't see the second one until I went outside later on to complete my assassination assignment. This afternoon I completed the recon work - from indoors. My mama didn't raise no fools. Then, after dark, armed with my handy can of wasp killer, I emptied the can on the nests. Tomorrow, I'll remove the nests, sweep up the bodies, and reclaim my patio.

This is the patio that is too hot to use this time of year. But darn it! This is my patio. Those wasps were uninvited and not paying rent or doing anything to contribute to my comfort, and on top of it all, they attacked me! And, let us not forget, my a/c is out of commission and I can't open the frickin' slider to let in some cooler outside air. Remember, their nests are between the slider and the outside screen. Closing the screen and opening the slider would let them in the house without an exit to the outside.

So, I made my decision, made my plans and set the plan in motion. I confess: I committed pre-meditated waspicide. In the first degree.

And, I'd do it again!!! bwahhhhhaaaaaaahhhhaaaa!

Summertime, and the Livin' Ain't So Easy

Pretty much the whole country is complaining about the weather - it's too wet, it's too dry, it's too hot. I even heard someone complaining about the low temps where they live.

Well, I live in Florida. Our humidity is around 75% most of the year. Add to that summer temps - today was 96 degrees and more of the same for tomorrow. The dog days of summer are here.

I remember the days when most people living in Florida didn't have air conditioning. My parents broke down and got a window unit when my dad was working night shift and, of course, sleeping during the day. I think my brother was in the Army and assigned to Homestead Air Force Base at the time. He was able to live at home at the time and was also working a night shift.

Anyway, I believe that was the beginning of our descent into the arms of comfortable living. I think those might have also been the days when I stayed indoors because of the heat, spending my days in front of the boob tube, beginning a life long love affair with television. Not to mention the love affair with soda and snacks.

Why am I waxing nostalgic on those not so great old days of yore, the days before the great god of Air Conditioning entered our lives. I have been reliving those days. My ac went belly-up over the weekend. I really hoped it would be a quick, simple fix. HA!! The GGofAC laughed in my face. "You are taking me for granted and not giving me due respect so I will take your chilled air away for a time and show you!" And so it is.

I called an air conditioning company today. The unit is a 1991 model, meaning it's 16 years old and just can't handle it anymore. The condenser is shot. The GGofAC is laughing his you-know-what off. Luckily, I have some room on my credit card and not else in the way of bills to pay.

My poor animals are all lying on the cooler (than the rest of the room) floor, trying to find a cool spot. I put a fan on the floor so at least they would have some moving air. It's actually cooler outside than it is in my house right now. The dogs have been out several times enjoying the cool night air.

Actually, as warm as it is in the house, it's at least livable with fans moving the air around. It's not chilled, conditioned air, but it's moving. It does help. I had actually given some consideration to living without a/c for a couple of months. It will finally start to cool off in October, hopefully. No later than November for sure. Then I got up out of my chair and actually moved around. Nope, I like cool air.

I confess. I am Deborah and I am a air conditioningaholic.
Bush Bolsters Ties With Mexico, Canada
By Ben Feller

MONTEBELLO, Quebec (AP) - President Bush, tending to relations with two border nations, sought Monday to invigorate his partnership with like-minded leaders of Canada and Mexico.

Bush arrived by mid-afternoon in the Canadian countryside, where he will promote North American integration with Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Mexican President Felipe Calderon. Police in riot gear pushed back dozens of protesters marching just outside the gate of the resort compound, where a few hundred people gathered in demonstration.

"I heard it's nothing," Harper said, dismissing the protests as Bush arrived at the posh Fairmont Le Chateau Montebello. Bush ducked a question about it and just smiled.

The two-day summit is the third of its kind during Bush's presidency, and each one has been meant to bolster a compact - dubbed the Security and Prosperity Partnership of North America - that serves as a way for the nations to team up on health, security and commerce.

The partnership of the countries is a framework for working out problems - not a deal that was ever intended to produce dramatic announcements. In turn, the White House sought to lower expectations that something bold would emerge from the meetings.

"I don't expect any major announcements," Bush spokesman Gordon Johndroe said. "I think it's a continuance of discussions that we have regularly with our two closest neighbors."

For Bush, the event also allows him to show that he does not take his neighbors for granted; they are both vital trading partners and energy providers for the U.S."The message for Canada and Mexico is that despite the ongoing emphasis on Iraq and terrorism in U.S. foreign policy ... the U.S. is investing time and attention on relationships with our own region," said Chris Sands, a scholar of North American studies and senior associate at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

(I have omitted a portion of the article that I don't believe is germane to this discussion. All emphasis in this article are mine - ed.)

Personally, Bush shares plenty of views with Harper and Calderon, two fellow conservatives and free-market advocates who have come into power during his second term.

It's not all cheery. Critics are angry about Canada's troop presence in Afghanistan and about the partnership among the three countries. Some Canadians see it as an insidious threat to their sovereignty, led by the United States.

The summit site is about 50 miles to the east of Ottawa, the Canadian capital.
The broad theme of the event is economic prosperity, built around several topics: border security, competitiveness with India and China, product safety and energy solutions.

Bush will also be faced with matters of specific concern to each of the countries.

He began with Harper.

Bush is sure to thank Harper for Canada's commitment to keeping troops in Afghanistan.

Meanwhile, Harper is frustrated over a U.S. law that tightened passport rules for Canadians visiting the U.S., although Bush has pledged to enforce it and has little leeway.

Harper is also expected to assert his nation's claim to the fabled Northwest Passage through the resource-rich Arctic. Competition to control the Arctic has intensified with global warming; Russia sent two small submarines to plant a tiny national flag under the North Pole this month. The U.S. and Norway also have claims.

"We look at the Northwest Passage as an international waterway, and want the international transit rights to be respected there," Johndroe said. "But certainly President Bush will listen to what Prime Minister Harper has to say."

Bush and Calderon will have their own one-on-one session later Monday.

With them, the messy issue of immigration looms large. The last time these two leaders met, in March in Mexico, Bush was optimistic about getting a new immigration law.

Since then, his plan died in Congress.

So Bush recently issued an executive order meant to tighten border security, streamline guest-worker programs and pressure employers to fire illegal immigrant workers.

The three leaders will join at day's end for dinner, then resume talks Tuesday.

I'm becoming concerned that this Security and Prosperity Partnership of North America thing is going to be just what some have been suggesting - the beginning of a union of the countries on the North American continent similar to the European Union. A union of this type will allow free movement of people from one country to another. Is this a way of getting around the objection of the vast majority of United States citizens to the constant crossing into the US of illegal aliens, specifically from Mexico?

Let's see who would benefit from such a union. The US and possibly Canada would benefit by the thousands of Mexicans who would swarm into the US looking for better paying jobs, better living conditions, and a better life for their families. Canadians and Mexicans would benefit by availing themselves of the benefits of the US health system. Sure, Canada has socialized (and cheaper) medicine, but what good is it if you have to wait for months just to get a simple MIR? Our health system is more expensive, but at least we can get MIR and other tests done within hours, or at most days, of when they are ordered. Maybe drug costs will go down in the US. Drugs in both Canada and Mexico are cheap compared to the US. I trust pharmaceutical companies in Canada, but I'm not so sure about Mexican drugs. Sorry, I just don't know enough about them. Will the oil we get from Canada and Mexico be cheaper than it is now? Will our infrastructure costs be reduced under such a union?

I can't say about the oil, but I doubt it will be cheaper under such a "partnership" and you know that there will be more people coming over the southern border to avail themselves of the American dream. Canadians come here now to get tests that will take weeks or months to get in Canada. The FDA and American drug companies have been blocking the importation of Canadian drugs into the US because they don't know that Canadian drug companies adhere to our standards. If we go into a North American partnership, will Canadian drugs suddenly be up to US standards? I guess we'll find out if this partnership goes forward.

I'm don't want to make this an immigration issue, but I wonder if that wasn't a back-up plan all along. It's why Bush began back peddling on the whole immigration issue. He knew he had this on the back burner as Plan B.

It's looking rather like Plan 9 from Outer Space for the American economy. Look, I'm all for progress. I'm all for legal immigration, but I'm not for a North American Union. I see no benefits to the US. Can someone please tell me where the benefit would be to the US to be part of such a union? Other than being part of the "partnership", that is.

Do we want to be a sovereign nation, or be part of a committee? That's what it will come to, one day. It won't be our leaders, such as they are making decisions, but a committee of representatives. Hmmmm....doesn't that sound something like the United Nations?

And we know what a success that has been.