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Why do we celebrate a Veterans Day?

What is now Veterans Day grew out of the Armistice that ended combat in what was then called The Great War and which we refer to as World War I.  The Armistice between Germany and our allies declared that all combat would cease at the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month (in 1918) or November 11 at 11:00 am, 99 years ago.

In 1919, President Wilson made Armistice Day an official day where, “To us in America, the reflections of Armistice Day will be filled with solemn pride in the heroism of those who died in the country’s service and with gratitude for the victory, both because of the thing from which it has freed us and because of the opportunity it has given America to show her sympathy with peace and justice.…”

Between then and now:

Congress, in 1926 and again in 1938 passed resolutions making the day a legal holiday: “….. dedicated to the cause of world peace and to be thereafter celebrated and known as “Armistice Day.”  By 1954, President Eisenhower signed Public Law 380 which changed the name to “Veterans Day” and the purpose to “…honor American Veterans of all wars.”   

In 1968, Public Law 90-363 moved the official observance to the nearest Monday to November 11 so that public employees could celebrate with a three day weekend.  Beginning in 1978, Public Law 94-97 returned the celebration of Veterans Day to the actual date, November 11, regardless of the day of the week upon which it falls.  It also was intended to focus on “the important purpose of Veterans Day: A celebration to honor America’s veterans for their patriotism, love of country, and willingness to serve and sacrifice for the common good.

Who is a Veteran?

Title 38 of the Code of Federal Regulations defines a veteran as “a person who served in the active military, naval, or air service and who was discharged or released under conditions other than dishonorable.”  A veteran is further defined by federal law, moral code and military service as Any person who served for Any length of time in Any military service branch.”  In other words, any person who has served in the military should be considered a Veteran.

In general, Veterans are not looking to be put on a pedestal but all Veterans that I know do like being recognized and appreciated for having served.  Why not call a Veteran friend and let him or her know that you respect the service and sacrifice that he or she has made?

Happy Veterans Day!

 

 

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Sports analysists, talk show hosts, and NFL fans everywhere have been talking nonstop this summer about Colin Kaepernick.  Why, many are asking, has no team decided to hire  him this off-season?

Various analysts and fans have views that range from “It’s pure racism” to “It’s politics:  He refused to stand for the National Anthem” to “He just isn’t good enough any more” and “No team wants all the baggage that comes with him.”

Yesterday, Michael Vick, no stranger to controversy and at one time a very talented NFL quarterback, gave Mr. Kaepernick a piece of advice:  Cut your hair and “try to be more presentable.”  That set off waves of discussion on social media.  A lot of folks have decided that anyone who points to Mr. Kaepernick’s hair or tattoos is judging a book by its cover.  I agree that it is judging Mr. Kaepernick at least partially by his hair and his tattoos.  I also think that is a very valid thing upon which to judge him.

Hair and tattoos are personal choices.  The person with the Afro or Dreadlocks or beard to his waist is choosing that fashion.  No person I know has ever been forced to wear his hair in an Afro or in Dreadlocks or braids.  A beard to your waist is a fashion statement, pure and simple, a personal choice.

Colin Kaepernick wants people to look at him.  His actions and his fashion statements are his own choices and all point to a person who is very interested in being seen and talked about.

 

My guess is that most of his potential employers (NFL Team Owners) think that the choices he is making show a greater interest in his ego than in his preparation for the business of football.  They likely think his choices show poor judgment.  The last thing they want is the Quarterback of their team to be a person who has poor judgment.  None of the owners appear to want to have, as the face of their franchise, what Mr. Kaepernick is offering.  Do you blame them?  Many do, but, for me, in six years he has gone from a promising physical talent to dubious talent with an ego too big even for professional football.

I think anyone who feels sorry for Colin Kaepernick because he is still unemployed should know that Mr. Kaepernick has only himself to blame.  If you showed up at a job interview for a position as Diversity Manager for a large firm wearing a KKK robe or for a teaching position at a Catholic School wearing nothing but a string bikini, it would be your fault and nobody else’s if the person doing the interview first judged the book by its cover.  Fashion choices are just that: choices.  Though they may be the “cover” they do expose a lot about what’s inside.

 

 

Here is a link to a video that I sent to about a dozen friends last week:

It is one of a series of videos by Bill Whittle called “Virtual President.”  The folks to whom I sent the email ranged from the far right to the far left on gun control and most other things political.  One email that I received in return was from a friend who is considerably more liberal than I.  We’ll call her Jane Doe.  Here is her email:

As usual, we disagree! It seems to me that this presentation is highly misleading, starting with its staging. Bill Whittle makes it look as if he is addressing a joint session of congress, alternating views of him speaking with closeups of senators and representatives (John Kerry, Pau Ryan) listening. But of course he never addressed a joint session of congress so that these images are taken out of context. 

Then he goes on to give statistics for the number of people murdered by rifles, but he doesn’t mention that the great majority of murder victims were killed, not by rifles, but by handguns. In 2010, there were 6,009 handgun murders to 358 rifle murders, so his argument is clearly deceptive. 

Then he talks about the “fact” that a million to 2.5 million murders were prevented by firearms. Any statistics with this kind of range are clearly unreliable, but in this case Whittle seems to be basing his argument on a thoroughly discredited survey by Gary Kleck. In fact, a study from 2014 of police records and media reports found 1,600 reports of successful defensive use firearms. 

There have been a number of comparative studies of states with similar ethnic and economic situations which show that strict laws reduce gun violence. Also, one can compare the U.S. to Canada which has rigorous gun laws. We lived in Canada for two years and my husband was an avid hunter so he was allowed to keep his guns, but the rate of death by firearms is much, much lower in Canada, presumably as a result of regulation. According to an article in Wikipedia, comparing gun deaths in various countries, the rate in Canada is 1.97 per 100,000, whereas in the U.S. it is 10.54. 

I then wrote back to her at about the same time another friend wrote to her.  Below is my email followed by my other friend’s letter to her:

Dear Jane Doe,

Bill Whittle does a series called Virtual President in which he portrays himself as the Virtual President and what he would say if speaking to Congress.  This is one of those videos.  No deception intended, just a way of expressing his opinions.

I agree with you that he has cherry picked statistics to use rifles, not the more prevalent tool, the handgun.  He was, however, speaking to the issue of “military assault rifles.”  He did not address the handgun issue, I don’t believe.

I also agree with your feeling that the 1,000,000 to 2.5M gun defenses is fishy at best.  It is neither his strongest point, nor do I feel, one he should be making lacking provable numbers.

I accept your numbers comparing Canada and the U.S. as to gun deaths.  I have seen quite a few different numbers, but, each study I have seen comes to the same general conclusion that Canada suffers significantly fewer gun deaths per capita than the U.S.  Is that due to increased availability of guns? Or, might it be other societal issues?

What I don’t see is your comparison of other statistics between the U.S. and Canada.  The U.S. has about 16 times as many rapes as Canada.  Is that due to increased availability of guns?  The U.S. appears to have about three times the number of murders per capita than Canada.  Is that due to increased availability of guns?  The U.S. seems to have about 6 times more prisoners than Canada.  Is that due to increased availability of guns?   Why not compare Canada to the U.S. as to highway deaths?  According to your source, Wikipedia, the USA has 12% more highway deaths per Capita than Canada, over 26% more highway fatalities per 100,000 vehicles, and 43% more highway fatalities per million miles driven than Canada.   You might want to suggest that the U.S. ban automobiles.  In fact, why is there no significant anti-auto lobby, like there is an anti-gun lobby?

The main point of Mr. Whittle’s piece is to defend the Constitution and in particular, the 2nd Amendment.  It is his belief that the reason for the 2nd Amendment is first and foremost to allow free citizens to protect themselves from tyranny.  Significantly, it is the tyranny of government that triggered the need for the 2nd Amendment.  He also feels that there is a political element in our society that finds it very easy to demonize guns and gun ownership for political gain.

See some interesting comparisons between USA and Canada at:

(http://www.nationmaster.com/country-info/compare/Canada/United-States/Crime)

I think Mr. Whittle makes a strong point that the anti-gun politicians need to propose a 28th Amendment (to repeal the 2nd Amendment) and see how that flies.  That would be the honest way to see how their constituents feel about the issue.  Unfortunately, it is much easier for them to repeal parts of the Constitution by nibbling with one new regulation/law after another until the Constitution is neutered. It makes me wonder if the goal of the “gun control politicians” is truly gun control or if it is not “People Control.”

Thanks for taking the time to watch the video.

Then the letter from the other friend to Jane Doe:

 

Dear Jane Doe,

And a good thing it is!
All discussions of firearms, right to self-defense, who should own what and the like are “highly deceptive,” regardless of position.

I would put Whittle’s hoax up against the Press’ sticking a camera into the face of a mother first viewing a dead child – both are obscene.

I will be the first to admit that I do not know the “statistics” of murder-by-firearms, and point that there are a good many such: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Special:Search?search=firearm+murders&go=Go&searchToken=4xc39euwfkqjyo2suzdfmc7hs

One could spend much time arming oneself with poignant fact (and many advocates do), but I wish for (inter)national debate on the subject, involving scholars, legislators, think tanks (Brookings, CATO and other serious ponderers) – and just plain people, selected for interest and common sense.

Just think – what if we, as a nation, actually THOUGHT about it?!  Imagine a new way of exploring issues, where the interest of the Nation, not just of the Party, is at stake!  An alternative to our Brave New World?    (May God help us!)

Discussions of Canada – such as Michael Moore’s film on guns – make the point that Canadians own at least as many guns per capita as we, yet do not use them on each other.  (He also pointed out that many do not lock their door.)

How/why are we different?

  • we are a spectacular target for many – terrorists and nuts.  But denying us self-defense will not help that.
  • we have huge crime areas, and their denizens kill each other, far and away more frequently than ordinary americans bump each other off.   Such areas already forbid ownership of guns, but that clearly does not help; they get them anyhow.  (And would use knives or clubs if they couldn’t).
  • our government fosters and keeps alive simmering suspicion of various groups for each other, racial, ethnic and economic, by rhetoric and ukase.  This does nothing to ease tensions; quite the contrary, our parties encourage Us vs Them sentiments, so that we live in a Lockean Hell of all against all.  When bad feeling erupts, people reach for whatever weapon is at hand.  But if it were not a gun, it would be something else – also deadly.
  • there are more reasons, of course, but I am not writing a dissertation.

What are the unspoken, unacknowledged positions of the parties on Gun Control?  How do they view the inhabitants of the US?

Republicans – Jefferson’s view of us: mature, responsible citizens, answerable (and called upon to answer) for our deeds, who have as much to fear from government as to hope for from it.  He builds upon the long-standing lessons derived from english civil history as well as upon the brilliance of certain french enlightenment thinkers in formulating a simple, compelling contract between the citizen and the law – than which there never to this day has been better, and whose sanctity approaches that of God’s Covenant, and we would do well to heed His edict: “not a jot or tittle!”

Democrats – helpless, lost and forlorn children whom they must rescue, succor and elevate.  Privileged with as-yet unnumbered Entitlements, many more to come, they, the Dems, as their custodians are pledged to enforce these – against the Rest, those uninformed, uncaring and largely indifferent Masses out there who would selfishly deny privilege (citizenship, ability to use any bathroom, marry anyone, have television and cellphones et cetera) and money (that of the Masses) to those whom the Dems have selected as Worthy.

Small wonder at the difference of positions; who would give guns to children?

The larger problem is not guns/se, but what is becoming of us: are we wards of Big Brother?  It seems that many are rushing to become so.

Maybe that is why the rest voted for Trump?!

 

I sure like his description of the unspoken, unacknowledged positions of the parties on gun control.  It could apply to their positions on most things.

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The Big City Press (N. Y. Times, Washington Post, L.A. Times, Atlantic Monthly, etc.) has been falling all over itself portraying the first weeks of the Trump Administration as Chaos or Dysfunction.  They can find nothing being done by the Trump Administration that measures up to the wonderful job done by Mr. Obama and his Administration in its early weeks in office.

An example:

In today’s Washington Post, E.J. Dionne, Jr. has an Op-Ed that states that Trump is unfit to lead.  His opening shot is that the Michael Flynn resignation was not just a terrible choice but showed a total lack of vetting.  How could Mr. Trump appoint someone who had lied to his Vice President about National Security matters?  He implied that Mr. Trump was, at best, a very poor decision maker and a bad judge of character.  Dionne goes on to say that Attorney General Jeff Sessions should immediately recuse himself from all investigations to do with Russia, just because he was chosen by Mr. Trump who Dionne says is in bed with Russia.

sessions-jeff

It would be interesting to read Mr. Dionne’s op-ed about Mr. Obama’s choice for National Intelligence Council Chair in 2009, Charles Freeman.  You will remember Mr. Freeman who had worked for (was on it’s Board) the Chinese Government-owned Chinese National Offshore Oil Company and who had lobbied extensively for Saudi-Arabia.  Oh, wait.  Dionne never wrote such an op-ed.  It was apparently fine for an Obama appointee to be in bed with the Chinese Communists and the Saudis.

lynch

It would be similarly interesting to see Mr. Dionne’s op-ed asking Loretta Lynch, Mr. Obama’s Attorney General, to recuse herself from the investigation of Mrs. Clinton’s pay-to-play scheme and email scandal while Clinton was Secretary of State.  You will remember that Lynch and Bill Clinton had a timely discussion just prior to Lynch making a decision that was very beneficial to Mrs. Clinton.  Again, Mr. Dionne saw no evil there, either.

What about Tom Daschle?  He was the Obama appointee for Health and Human Services who somehow neglected to pay more than $140,000 of taxes.

Or, Timothy Geithner who was actually confirmed as Secretary of the Treasury and served in the position for 4 years?  Geithner somehow forgot to pay his Social Security Taxes for years (inspite of being advised to do so and being given extra compensation for that purpose).  Geithner was also in the thick of the banking crisis that set up the 2008 recession and profited greatly from the rules he backed.  Dionne did comment about that: “All of the administration’s critics are being emboldened by its hesitancy in dealing with the banking question and its apparent fear of temporary bank nationalization. On this issue, the president genuinely is trying to steer a moderate course.”  Moderate?  To appoint a tax cheat and one of the bankers at the heart of the crisis?  Imagine, if you can, Dionne saying about Mr. Trump, “…the president genuinely is trying to steer a moderate course.”

Or, Bill Richardson who was appointed to run Commerce.  He was not nicknamed “Dollar” Bill for nothing.  He had a history of accepting outsized political donations from people who sought favors (mostly State contracts) in return.  He finally withdrew, or was asked to withdraw, after over a month as the appointee.

Dionne did not, to my knowledge, decry any of these gaffs.  He did not claim Mr. Obama was “unfit”.  In fact, Dionne wrote in his recent book, We are the Change We seek: “Despite his fervent campaign promise to ease the country’s political divisions, he discovered that he faced a Republican opposition intent on taking back power by stymieing his program, challenging his mandate to govern, (emphasis mine) and leaving his dreams of harmony stillborn.”

Why such a different view?  Perspective.  Mr. Dionne and much of the Big City Press backed Mrs. Clinton.  They were out of touch with the heart of the country and they are sore losers.  They will continue to cherry pick the news and harp on the evils of Donald Trump, much as they cherry picked the news and wrote glowing reports of Mr. Obama and his actions.

The facts show that every administration has some missteps and some successes as they get started.  Mr. Dionne’s conclusion that Mr. Trump is “Unfit to Serve” is provably biased and, at best, premature.  Mr. Dionne and the Left learned nothing from the Right’s “Birther Movement” and show their inability to be unbiased observers and reporters with every stroke of their pens.  They should take a deep breath and, for once, try to be reporters of the truth, not just hacks using their pulpit to push their political views.

 

…to anything outside of their silo.  And, I don’t mean colorblind.  The left is anything but colorblind.

It has been said that the media, the pollsters, and the political left were shocked by the U.S. Presidential Election because they wear blinders.  It is said they only see what fits their worldview.  Of course, that can be said of almost anyone.   However, for the past eight years, the left has reinforced its own belief that anything that does not fit its view is stupid (remember the uneducated ‘deplorables’), or racist, or homophobic, or sexist, etc.,etc.

I received the cartoon below from a friend recently.  I wonder if, eight years ago, you were to have replaced the images of Mr. and Mrs. Obama in the cartoon with those of George and Laura Bush, what would have been the reaction.  My guess is that there would have been an amazing uproar about the racism of cartoonist Gustavo Viselner, by the same people who laugh at this and see it as a fairly benign political cartoon.

trun-out-the-lights

 

steve-jobs-introduces-original-iphone-macworld-sf-2007-332x205

Ten years ago yesterday, Steve Jobs took to the stage in San Francisco and introduced the iPhone.  The world has changed dramatically since and because of that introduction.  Here is a link to the video of the full introduction:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9hUIxyE2Ns8&feature=youtu.be

Save this video for when you have a little over an hour and would otherwise watch a movie.    It is as good a documentary movie as you will watch.

Apple misses Steve Jobs.  Who knows what other changes the world would have seen had he lived to envision those changes?

Eliminate the Cent, Mr. Trump

Eliminate the Cent, Mr. Trump

A good friend of mine, Mark, is very optimistic, as am I, for Mr. Trump’s opportunity to make positive changes.  He thinks there is a lot of low hanging fruit that can be done quickly to set the tone.  His only concern is that the press will not report it.

Mr. Trump, here is the very first thing you should do:

Eliminate the U. S. Cent (legal name for the lowly penny) as legal tender.  It costs anywhere from 1.5¢ to 2.5¢ to make so that is enough reason to dump the cent (it loses taxpayers about $50 Million annually).  Add to that the cost to all who use it in making change, counting the till at the end of the day, not to mention the back pain for geezers like me when we stoop to pick up pennies in front of the 7-11.

So why do we still make pennies?  I can think of 3 reasons: 1 – We are very bad at math (see my post here); 2 – There is so much of our culture built around the cent that we can’t give it up (“a penny for your thoughts”, “…not a red cent”, “a penny saved, a penny earned”……): 3 – Lobbying dollars to support political campaigns.  Jarden Zinc Products is the sole supplier to the U.S. Mint of the clad copper metal used to make the U.S. Cent.  It is rumored that if a congressman needs some quick donations, one way is to propose the elimination of the cent.  Jarden Zinc Products, it is said, will offer the congressman a nice donation if he drops the idea, forever.

If Jarden in fact (I have no proof) has a monopoly and is willing to pay elected officials for the privilege of keeping that monopoly (no proof here either, just rumor), this is exactly the type of corruption that Mr. Trump should send packing immediately.  What a nice symbolic move it would be to embarrass Congress into dropping the penny forever.  And it would save about $50 Million a year – chump change for the U.S.Government, but real money to the rest of us.

When the Brexit vote was predicted as a sure win for the “Remain” coalition and the actual vote was to “Leave” by a healthy margin, the stage was set for what happened at the polls in the USA on November 8th, 2016.  The Brexit vote showed that the elites in Britain, those who run major bureaucracies/institutions and who run the government were out of touch with the majority of the people.  In particular, the media was out of touch.

I think that the U.S. Presidential Election followed the same pattern, with a twist.  The media did its best to convince everyday Americans that Hillary Clinton was going to win in an historic landslide.  In so doing, they convinced themselves of the same result.  Part of the problem was that fewer and fewer people read, listen to, or watch the “mainstream media” and fewer still believe what the see, hear and read.  They were far off the mark because they had elevated themselves above the masses and could not see or hear how the masses actually felt.
hillary-loser-1024x683

The twist?  The Democrats had chosen an almost unelectable candidate.  Clinton has a colorful history, in particular as to her understanding of the word “truth.”  She was untrusted and disliked by the vast majority of all adults.  Her almost saving grace was that she was pitted against a man with negatives almost as high as her own.  The press did Mrs. Clinton’s work deflecting the bad news, attacking Mr. Trump’s character, and running stories at the bidding of the Clinton Campaign.  And, in doing so, the media convinced themselves that she was the best candidate and had the support of the majority of Americans.  They saw those things that reinforced their view.  They created and saw polls that bore out their belief.  They dismissed as crazy all evidence to the contrary.

deceive-yourself-kierkegaard

Mrs. Clinton was gracious in her consession speech but was clearly still unsettled after the ‘shocking’ loss.  She too, had read too many of her press releases turned news stories and had believed them.  I think until a week ago she was measuring the draperies in the White House.  I hope her concession speech was sincere in stating her desire to work with all parties for the betterment of America.  I fear she is no more believable now than she was on the campaign trail.  I do not think this loss has relieved her of her lust for power, the same lust for power the American Electorate saw and rejected.

I’m writing this on Election Day, November 8th.  It seems appropriate to give thanks every day to veterans of military service.  Somehow, it seems even more appropriate when a nation is free to elect its leaders as we are today.  Like the bumper sticker reads “If you Voted today, Thank a Veteran.”

v-day-16

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