Monthly Archives: December 2008

Britain Whines, "It’s All About Me!"

I don’t want much from the Federal government. In fact, I want a lot less from it than they’re usually trying to provide. One thing I do expect, though, is for the Federal government to provide me with a reasonably safe haven from dangers of the world outside our borders. In my opinion, a government that fails to provide domestic security for its citizens has failed in one of its major responsibilities.

This article, published today in the London Daily News is noteworthy in its disregard for that basic function of government as well as its egocentrism.

What Israel is doing is nothing to do with peace but its own selfish security concerns

With many nations in the world with large Muslim/Arab communities anything in the Middle East that involves the murder of women and children and Israel will immediately light a fuse of revulsion and protest.

In London the mainstream media have been warned to avoid the subject in phone-in’s to avoid escalating tensions, but that is unrealistic.  What Israel has done again, is look at its own security concerns and forget that of other nations like ours.

4000 known active Islamic terrorists operate in the UK, what more of an excuse do they need now to carry out a heinous act on people who are not from Israel?

Our Government condemned the violence but has done nothing to censure Israel.  The Americans have stayed quiet, whilst only France and the UN have worded strong objections to the perceived over-reaction of the IDF.

Israeli leaders need to stop thinking about elections and consider that the security threat posed by Islamic groups was high, with the tension in the Middle East escalating we are in a new zone now.

Let’s all be vigilant and be responsible.

Try for a moment to ignore the glaring grammatical issues with the headline and take a closer look at that second paragraph. It is evidently unrealistic to expect British journalists to refrain from discussing Israel’s current military operations in order to keep British citizens safe, but quite all right to expect Israeli citizens to endure rocket bombardment to achieve the same end. God forbid that journalists show a little discretion! Better that Israelis die!

Selfish, indeed! The presumption that Israel should place the security concerns of Britain above the safety of her own citizens is staggering. I’m rarely speechless (you can ask my husband) but I actually found myself without words today when trying to discuss this with an acquaintance.

Had I ever given it any thought, I would have assumed the British were responsible for their own national security, but apparently I would be wrong. British national security is actually the responsibility of the Israelis! Who knew! Perhaps this explains why Britain is the home to “4,000 known active Islamic terrorists.”

After all, the Israelis have been pretty busy on the home front and it’s hard to be in two places at once, but after they finish up with Gaza, I’m betting that London will be their first stop. I’m sure the British could handle the terrorists themselves, but what, with setting up Sharia courts and otherwise pandering to Muslim extremists, gosh! It’s just so hard to fit it all into the day!

The jackass who wrote this opinion piece – if you check it out at this link, you’ll see that no one wanted to sign it – should be forced to live in one of the Israeli settlements on the Gaza frontier to see how he (she?) likes the constant threat of death falling from the sky. “Yes, I’d like reservations for dinner…What? the bomb shelter section is full?”

During the dark days of World War II, Winston Churchill exhorted the British people, “Let us therefore brace ourselves to our duties, and so bear ourselves that if the British Empire and its Commonwealth last for a thousand years, men will still say, ‘This was their finest hour.’” Perhaps that it was their finest hour; Britain, which stoically endured the London blitz, is now content to buy their own peace with the lives of Israeli citizens. Churchill weeps.

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Chip Saltsman and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Week

Chip Saltsman stumbled through a series of blunders this week that leaves me wondering if he can be considered a serious contender for Chairman of the Republican National Committee.

The first was selecting the CD, We Hate the USA, to distribute to RNC members as a Christmas gift. The song that’s drawing all the negative attention is “Barack, the Magic Negro.” The CD is the work of satirist Paul Shanklin, who is often heard on the Rush Limbaugh show.

This selection displays a serious lack of judgment on Saltsman’s part. While the song was undoubtedly not intended to be racist and Saltsman’s selection of the CD was certainly made without the intent to smear the President-elect with a racial slur, Saltsman should have been able to anticipate how the CD might be received by RNC members – some of whom may not have his best interests at heart – and how its selection would be characterized by the press. While the party’s identification with minorities as racist is unfair and not grounded in reality, the last thing it needs is an RNC Chair with a “tin ear” to potentially inflammatory situations.

The second was Saltsman’s slow response the the developing controversy. By way of explanation, Saltsman supposedly participates in a loosely organized group of conservatives, #TCOT. The original concept was simply to list conservatives participating on Twitter and the number of people “following” them as a means to gauge their sphere of influence; #tcot was simply a search tag that could be used to follow the #TCOT timeline. It has now expanded to include the #TCOT Report, a Drudge-like news source and web gathering place for conservatives.

News of the CD hit the #TCOT timeline within minutes of the first news reports; had Saltsman been following the #TCOT stream, he would have known of the controversy and had access to immediate feedback on an appropriate response. In addition, he could have taken advantage of the #TCOT Report to distribute  his response across the web. Instead, his response was delayed until 6:05 p.m. on December 27th, a full 24 hours after the news first broke and was limited to the blog on his RNC campaign website.

The third and final blunder was choosing to try to divert attention from his own lack of judgment in choosing the CD and focus on blame the media for a double standard. Saltsman’s statement from his blog:

Liberal Democrats and their allies in the media didn’t utter a word about David Ehrenstein’s irresponsible column in the Los Angeles Times last March.  But now, of course, they’re shocked and appalled by its parody on the Rush Limbaugh Show.
I firmly believe that we must welcome all Americans into our party and that the road to Republican resurgence begins with unity, not division. But I know that our party leaders should stand up against the media’s double standards and refuse to pander to their desire for scandal.

While it’s true that the media does impose a double standard, Saltsman’s response does nothing to show that he understands what the controversy is about, nor that he accepts any responsibility for the situation in which he now finds himself. He doesn’t even mention the CD; if you didn’t know the back story, you’d think he was commenting on a segment from Rush Limbaugh’s show! Saltsman would have done better to admit to an error in judgment and issue a sincere apology.

So the questions I would like the RNC to consider before they cast their votes for chairman are (1) Does Chip Saltsman possess the political judgment necessary in the person who will be the public face of the Republican party during the Obama administration; and (2) As RNC Chair, will he effectively utilize every means of communication at his disposal to advance the agenda of the Republican Party.

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AMA: Ethically Challenged

According to Adam Wilson, writing for The Olympian, Dr. Marc Stern, the top physician in the Washington State Department of Corrections, has resigned because of ethical concerns surrounding the use of Department employees to prepare prisoners for execution.

Dr. Stern’s decision to resign was reached in part due to the positions of the American Medical Association and the Society of Correctional Physicians, both of which “oppose physician involvement in executions,” and, according to Dr. Stern, “…say physicians should not supervise somebody who is involved in executions.”

This is the very same American Medical Association whose CEJA Report H A-92, states “According to Opinion 2.01 of the Council [on Ethical and Judicial Affairs], ‘[t]he Principles of Medical Ethics of the AMA do not prohibit a physician from performing an abortion in accordance with good medical practice and under circumstances that do not violate the law.’ ”

Let me make sure I have this straight, because I’m struggling to understand the ethical reasoning involved: assisting in the execution of a convicted murderer is unethical, but  snuffing out the life of an unborn child by performing an abortion is, apparently, okay.

While it’s my opinion that an actual human being with human rights exists from the moment of conception, I can understand that people of good will differ on this point. The AMA, however, places no restrictions on abortion with their position, other than that the procedure should conform to “good medical practice” and “not violate the law.” There are no strictures against late term abortions or abortions performed when the fetus may be viable or any conditions that the abortion be performed in a manner so as to be humane to the fetus.

It disturbs me that the AMA’s governing body for ethics has ceded the decision as to what is ethical in regards to abortion to technology (i.e., good medical practice), and politicians. Ethics panels exist to balance the advances of technology with the moral concerns of society; politicians can consistently be trusted only to act in their own self-interests.

The AMA’s failure to take a position on abortion that might offend even the most extreme viewpoints has brought us to a place where they object to involving themselves in the execution of the guilty, but condone the execution of the innocent. This hypocrisy is staggering and in my mind casts doubt on the AMA’s ability to set logical and reasonable ethical guidelines for its members.

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Say What?

Associated Press

SEATTLE —  Gov. Chris Gregoire declared a winter storm emergency Wednesday as many Western Washington residents hoped for a traditional rainy Christmas after a week of heavy snow, jammed airports, closed roads and cabin fever.

Huh?

I admit to being a little confused. Yes, much of the state has had record or near record snowfall but here in Snohomish County (one of the counties where a state of emergency had previously been declared), most people seem to be going about their business with only a moderate amount of inconvenience. Roads are busy, shoppers fill the local malls,  grocery stores appear to be fully stocked and there are no wide-spread power outages. The only sign that something might be amiss are “out of service” signs on the pumps at some gas stations.

The article quotes Gregoire as saying, “A number of counties and cities are struggling to meet the problems posed by this month’s onslaught of snow and winter weather,” but doesn’t give any details of just how they’re struggling. In fact, the only weather-related problems detailed in the article are some transit time issues for dairy products and an unfortunate de-icing incident at Sea-Tac airport that caused some people to have eye irritation. Someone needed an eyewash! Call out the National Guard, for God’s sake!

Jammed airports and closed roads may be inconvenient and ruin your holiday travel plans but the last time I checked, they weren’t life threatening. Likewise, cabin fever isn’t really a fever and no one ever died from it. And since we’re talking about cabin fever, the incubation period is longer than seven days. More like seven months. If you can’t entertain yourself at home for seven days, then it’s like my ex-husband used to say, “Only boring people get bored.” Oh, and if your kids are driving you crazy try “making them behave.” It works wonders!

I’m not sure what Governor Gregoire is trying to accomplish here. If she’s trying to score points with the voters, why bother? She was re-elected after four years of binge spending that gave us a projected $5 billion deficit. Short of being caught drowning kittens, I’m inclined to believe there’s nothing she could do to earn the scorn of Washington voters. On the other hand, if she’s trying to make Washington the laughingstock of the nation, she’s doing a fine job. Way to go, Christine!

Read the full AP article.

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Mike Duncan Should Do The Honorable Thing

Conservative author and Republican strategist, Michael Patrick Leahy, called today for RNC Chairman, Mike Duncan, to withdraw his bid for re-election effective immediately. Leahy made the case that Duncan’s lackluster leadership and failure to embrace new technology as a political tool was a major contributing factor in Republican losses in 2008. I concur.

I find it surprising that Duncan is not embarrassed to show his face in public, let alone campaign to retain his chair. It’s not so much that we lost the presidency; lost in the U.S. House and Senate; lost in state and local races:  it was the manner in which we lost that pains me and should be a source of shame to Mr. Duncan.

It is one thing to lose based on the merits of your candidates and their positions; that is an honorable loss. To lose, however, because you are out-maneuvered by a nimble, technologically savvy opponent whose policies and positions will hinder rather than help our country is inexcusable. To lose because you skirt the truth rather than offend your opponent is inexcusable. To lose because you don’t even try in Democrat strongholds is inexcusable.

It seems to me that honor demands that Mike Duncan step aside. We’re not asking him to fall on his sword in some public display of mea culpa. We’re just asking that he quietly step aside to clear the way for new leadership who can then get to work rehabilitating the Republican brand.

Mr. Duncan – please – do the honorable thing.

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Cruel Conservatism

Fox News reports:

A former student at the Rhode Island College School of Social Work is suing the school and several of his professors for discrimination, saying he was persecuted by the school’s “liberal political machine” for being a conservative.
William Felkner, 45, says the New England college and six professors wouldn’t approve his final project on welfare reform because he was on the “wrong” side of political issues and countered the school’s “progressive” liberal agenda.

The story goes on to give details of the persecution, which has become so expected in academia as to be almost entirely unremarkable except for one detail, which is this juicy little quote from Professor James Ryczek: “I think the biases and predilections I hold toward how I see the world and how it should be are why I am a social worker. In the words of a colleague, I revel in my biases…” (emphasis mine). Isn’t that special?

We all have biases. Some of us are aware of them and some of us aren’t. I certainly hope that I’m aware of my biases because being aware of them, realizing they influence my perception of people and events, is the only way I can ensure that I’m not misled by them. This is just a side note, however, to what I feel is the more important underlying issue revealed in this article.

Instead of focusing on the last part of Professor Ryczek’s quote, let’s take another look at the first part. “I think the biases and predilections I hold toward how I see the world and how it should be are why I am a social worker.”

Still confused about where I’m going with this?

A little later in the article, another professor is quoted in support of Felkner.

Kim Strom-Gottfried, professor of social work at U.N.C. Chapel Hill, said that faculty members should not impose their politics on students.

“My bottom line is I think clearly as faculty we have to appraise our students based on required competencies and demonstrations of that, whether critical thinking or whatever, but there shouldn’t be a belief litmus test for joining the profession or for an assignment,” Strom-Gottfried said.

StromGottfried then goes on to say:

“The questions I have in cases such as his — why would someone choose to affiliate with a profession that’s so at odds with his beliefs and his value-base? That’s always a question for me,” she said.

Strom-Gottfired has clearly revealed the underlying assumption that helping those in our society who most need it is at odds with the beliefs and values of a conservative.

I know this stereotype is rooted in the differing philosophies of liberals and conservatives as to how to best help people. To my way of thinking, liberals take the short-sighted approach of treating the symptoms of people’s problems. But to liberals, apparently, the conservative, long-term approach of helping people to help themselves is more than just a different approach; it’s a hard-hearted callousness the belies any words to the contrary. Whether liberals actually believe that to be true is irrelevant. It is a false stereotype that they have successfully introduced into the public psyche.

(Taking a more cynical view, it could be argued that liberal politicians and social work professionals favor the short-term approach because it provides them with the opportunity to expand the size and scope of government programs – in the case of politicians – and job security – in the case of social workers – but that would be off topic.)

Why have conservatives allowed themselves to be defined as people who are unconcerned with the needs of others? You can’t blame liberals for going on offense. We can only blame ourselves for refusing even to go on defense. For conservatism to make a strong comeback in 2010 and beyond, we must be willing to counter false assumptions on every front: whenever, wherever, whoever, whatever. We need to develop a bold offense that makes a positive case for conservatism using every means at our disposal.

We need, I think, to develop a little attitude.

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In Defense of Seattle Drivers

Here in the Puget Sound Region, we don’t get a lot of snow, so when we do, you hear a lot about it on TV. Newscasters make fools of themselves with their idiotic coverage that will include classic gems of wisdom such as, “If you can see snow on the roadway, it may be slippery, so be careful!” I’m not kidding. That’s an annoyance, but funny in its own way. What’s not so funny, however, is to hear drivers from other, snowier parts of the country bashing Seattle drivers for their apparent lack of “adverse weather conditions” expertise.

My first experience driving in the snow came in Anchorage, Alaska, where I lived for a few years in the late ’70s. Up there, you had to drive in the snow unless, of course, you commuted on X-country skis, risking the dangers of renegade moose and bear encounters. My trial by fire came on a day in early April. I had carpooled to my job all winter but we had recently purchased a car for my use. The weather had warmed up and the roads were largely clear of ice, so I set out to work one morning on my own. That day, it snowed several inches during the day. Heart pounding, I headed home and discovered, hey! it wasn’t so bad. Over the next couple of years, snowy weather never kept me home or even gave me pause if there was somewhere I wanted to go.

So my first experience driving in “Seattle snow” was something of an eye opener. Just for starters, the snow is really slippery. Seriously. While all snow is slippery, in Seattle snow nearly always falls when the temperature is hovering at or slightly above freezing. It may not stick on the roads for hours. Then, when the temperature has finally dropped enough for the snow to stick, it’s falling on a nice bed of black ice. That’s quite different than driving on compact snow, or even compact snow and ice. It’s even better when the snow melts on top of the ice; there’s nothing more relaxing than driving on wet ice.

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The second challenge facing drivers is the hills. The seven hills of Seattle rise steeply from Puget Sound. The steepest streets in Seattle have slopes in the 18 to 21% range, like the one below. Please view this photo in the context of the nice, wet black ice I was just talking about.
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Finally, the city and county agencies are relatively unprepared for snowfall. It would be poor use of government funds to purchase and maintain equipment that would sit idle 360 (+/-) days a year. So streets aren’t plowed and sanded right away. If you think you can do better on one of those 21% grade hills, covered in wet black ice, that hasn’t been sanded, more power to you. But until you’ve tried it, please lay off Seattle drivers.

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Have An Orgasm Every Time

Have I got your attention?

I was in a local Barnes and Noble today and, once again, Cosmopolitan was displayed at the checkout, exactly at eye level for a six or seven year old, with the title of this post prominently displayed on the front cover. I’ve mentioned my objection to having Cosmo on display at the front of the store on a few different occasions and have been assured that the manager would hear about my concerns. Yeah. Right.

Today I actually spoke with the Assistant Manager and I feel reassured. Reassured, that is, that he does not understand my concern at all. His feeling? Well they probably can’t even read it but if they can, they won’t understand what it means anyway. My feeling? It is not within the purview of Barnes and Noble to dictate when and where I have a conversation with my young child about the meaning of the word orgasm.

It’s not as though it’s unusual for Cosmo covers to feature objectionable headlines.  A selection from recent issues includes:

  • How to Climax Together
  • Sexy vs. Skanky
  • Caught Butt Naked: These Horny Couples Couldn’t Control Themselves
  • Your Orgasm Face
  • Bad Girl Sex
  • Secrets of Male Arousal

Even articles that aren’t about sex feature questionable headlines, such as Dragging Ass Lately?, an article about finding more energy.

I did learn that floor displays are dictated by the corporate office. I’m asking that each of you reading this post contact the Customer Service Department at corporate headquarters and voice a complaint about displaying Cosmo at the front of the store. If anyone knows or knows how to obtain an e-mail address for CEO, Steve Riggo, please comment.

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Where’s Our Chuck DeVore?

Chuck DeVore may look like your run of the mill Assemblyman from California, but I assure you, he has the heart of a dragon-slayer. Chuck has chosen to take on the daunting task of defeating Barbara Boxer in 2010 and giving conservative Californians a voice in the U.S. Senate. (In case you have a few spare bucks lying around, Chuck is taking donations now online.) But however appealing I find a manly-man taking on a Herculean chore like defeating Boxer, Chuck isn’t really my focus today. Sorry, Chuck.

If you’re at all interested in politics, you probably know that Washington’s own Barbara Boxer, Patty Murray (take a look at this fascinating chart; you’ll see that Murry is only slightly to the right of Boxer), is also up for re-election in 2010 and I’m left wondering, where’s our dragon-slayer? It’s not as though Washington’s conservatives have been over-represented in the US Senate – in the last half century, only one Republican, Slade Gorton, has been elected to the Senate from the State of Washington. Another, former governor Dan Evans, served out Henry “Scoop” Jackson’s term after Jackson’s death.

I’m sure Patty Murray is a nice enough person, if a little naive (remember her comments about Osama bin Laden and the daycare centers?). My main issue with Patty? She’s never met a tax she didn’t like. The National Taxpayers Union gives her a score of F; 6% to be precise. According to NTU, a “zero score would indicate that the Member of Congress approved every spending proposal and opposed every pro-taxpayer reform.” Even with this abysmal tax and spend record, Ms. Murray won re-election in 2004 with a 55 to 43% margin of victory over George Nethercutt.

As I see it, Republican candidates in statewide races face two obstacles. The first is Seattle. Just over half of the population of Washington is concentrated in the Puget Sound region with Seattle at its center. Seattle proper is solidly blue and over the years, its radical liberalism has spread into the surrounding citys and counties.  If you’re not familiar with just how liberal Seattle is, consider the nude cyclists of the Fremont District’s Solstice Parade and the fact that the Seattle City Council has abandoned a proposal that would have prohibited people from appearing nude in city parks. To succeed, Republican candidates have to stay close in the Puget Sound region and win overwhelmingly in the rest of the state. I believe it’s likely that most of these voters have beliefs in line with Ms. Murray’s on social and environmental issues while having no knowledge of her voting record on taxation and spending issues.

The second obstacle to a successful Senate bid is a dearth of opportunity to build a solid resume and name recognition. State politics is so solidly dominated by Democrats that it’s difficult for conservative Republicans to advance to positions of leadership. Right now, Washington Republicans hold only three seats in the US House of Representatives and only two statewide offices in Olympia (Secretary of State and Attorney General). Compounding this problem is the fact that two of our Representatives are from the dry side of the mountains: Doc Hastings and Cathy McMorris Rodgers. Why is this a problem? The Seattle area media ignores them; our urban liberal elitists have little use for Eastern Washington.

Which is why we need a Chuck DeVore. To mount a serious challenge to an entrenched incumbent like Patty Murray, a Republican challenger will need to be well-organized, well-financed and well-known. By starting now, that challenger could build grassroots support and momentum to carry into the campaign cycle. I don’t know who that challenger will be, I just know – we need a hero.

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Thank You, Illinois

The State of Washington had a rough time last week in the national press. First came the atheist sign in the capitol building, then the impeachment ornament which, aside from the artist being spectacularly ill-mannered, was not even particulary attractive or well-executed. I say this as a person who has never met a craft she didn’t like.

But now, thanks to the fine voters in Illinois, I can breathe a sigh of relief. No longer are the eyes of the nation focused on the wackos in Washington (although in all fairness, some of the wackos were from Wisconsin – which adds another whole layer to the wackiness), they’re focused on the wackos in Illinois.

There’s something to be said for an electorate that rids itself of one crooked governor, only to elect another. Something to be said, all right, but not something good. Still, I want to extend a hearty Well Done! to those voters in Illinois – and you know who you are – who apparently see no evil, speak no evil and hear no evil when they step into the voting booth.

I’m fervently awaiting the next Illinois gubernatorial election, to see if the folks in Illinois have learned anything. These eyes will be watching.

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