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It appears that Obama’s plan is working.  Even with T-90 tanks on the border the economic sanctions against Russia are taking effect.

If you only follow America’s three lettered media… here are some things they have kept from you:

Global finance is more frightened of the US Securities and Exchange Commission than Russian T90 tanks

  • Hope of recruiting Beijing as an ally to blunt Western sanctions looks doomed
  • China did not stand behind Russia in the UN Security Council vote on Crimea, as it had over Syria.
  • Its foreign ministry stated that “China always sticks to the principle of non-interference in any country’s internal affairs and respects the independence, sovereignty, and territorial integrity of Ukraine.
  • Turkmenistan’s gas used to flow North, hostage to prices set by Gazprom. It now flows East.
  • in Kazakhstan, where Chinese companies have taken over much of the energy industry.
  • It is surely unlikely that imperious Xi Jinping will throw away the great prize of G2 Sino-American condominium to rescue a squalid and incompetent regime in Moscow from its own folly.
  • Enough of Europe’s gas pipelines have been switched to two-way flows since 2009 to help at least some of the vulnerable frontline states
  • Officials have been ordered to draft plans within 90 days to break dependence on Gazprom… Imports of Russian may be slashed by half within a decade.
  • Russia’s central bank cannot defend the rouble without tightening monetary policy, driving the economy deeper into recession in the process.
  • Russian banks and companies must roll over $155bn of foreign debts over the next twelve months in a hostile market, at a premium already over 200 basis points.
  • Any sanction against any oligarch linked to any Russian company could shut it out of global capital markets, potentially forcing default
  • The price of oil is poised to fall — ceteris paribus — as Iraq’s output reaches a 35-year high, the US adds a million barrels b/d a day this year from shale, and Libya cranks up exports again. The International Energy Agency says global supply jumped by 600,000 b/d last month. Deutsche Bank predicts a glut. So does China’s Sinopec. Mr Putin needs prices near $110 to fund his budget. He may face $80 before long.

====

So in attacking Ukraine, Putin has lost China, lost middle Asia, lost Merkel, and unless it is immediately taken by force, lost all attempts to woe Ukraine back into the union.

He’ll attack shortly for domestic consumption.  if he doesn’t he is done at home.  The US should announce 20,000 troops are headed to Ukraine, and they should be stationed in reserves for military reasons; … to prevent them from being taken out in an opening sneak attack.  If we could convince the Chinese to join us, we could quite possibly have decades more of peace in our times…..

That will depend on Obama.

 

 

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The document in question was an 86-page opinion the FISA court had issued on October 3, 2011.

In it the FISA court states that the action requested by the NSA was unconstitutional. The FISA court was of the opinion this information needed to be disseminated to the public.

The Justice Department was due to file a court motion in June in its effort to keep secret an 86-page court opinion that determined that the government had violated the spirit of federal surveillance laws and engaged in unconstitutional spying.

So in a nutshell, we have the NSA committing an unconstitutional action.  We have the secret Federal court which incidentally only hears the NSA’s side of the argument, decide such action was NOT under the scope of the law, and was actually unconstitutional.  The court felt the public should know about this Constitutional violation, apparently because even they were shocked at its danger for democracy.

The Justice Department then filed suit to block the dissemination of knowledge to the American people, that the secret FISA court had determined that the NSA was going over and beyond its powers invested by the Fourth Amendment, and that it is therefore acting unconstitutionally.

So when our government does something unconstitutional and covers it up… what do we do?

Ironically, in East Germany, we have more privacy rights today than in the United States of America.

Where did we go wrong?  It’s all Patrick Leahy’s fault.  He got soft after standing up to the Joker in The Dark Knight and so now he isn’t standing up for Americans. Guess he figured he’s done his share.

Having recently seen the Harry Potter movie, it is scary. Ever since watching…. I now see giants everywhere. Before when I looked, I never knew they were there…

Two giants will be doing battle here in Delaware… (The recession is finally paying off for our little state.)

Papers were filed with the ITC (International Trade Commission) by the South Korean giant Samsung LED against a division of another giant this time from Germany, Siemens….. over 8 patient infringements.

Samsung LED also said it filed a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court in Delaware to seek damages and a permanent injunction to bar Siemen’s subsidary, Osram’s alleged patent infringement from entering this country.

At stake is the financial future of these two companies. One will win, and the other for lack of a better word, will be vanquished.

Since Siemens actually has a plant in Delaware, next to the Glasgow Park off Route 40 and 896, I’m putting my bets on that giant…. if they get hurt, it will cost jobs.

Hotels, restaurants, transportation companies all stand to be a little busier as this gigantic fight, gets under way…. It would be helpful to practice on the Korean and German dialects now, before the event gets under way…

Sprechen sie deutsch?

니미럴 개자식 ….

It should be an interesting fight.

We were round tabling this discussion when one person said… “What if the US just gave up after Pearl Harbor?”

Valid point.

Now I’m all for people speaking their mind. I’m all for supporting the majority. And like the founding fathers, I have implicit faith in the ability of the people to sort out our problems and separate wheat from the chaff… if not the first time, then definitely over time.

Most ordinary people I know have far more wisdom than any leader I’ve had the privilege to share conversation with. Therefore I believe in the sanctity of the people’s choice. If the people voted him in, he’s there for a reason.

But that’s only if the election was fair. If someone padded the ballot box, or switched vote totals, than obviously this premise wouldn’t apply for the very reason that the choice of the people was not the person who was actually representing them.

Mike was bushwhacked, sort of like the US was at Pearl Harbor or on 09/11…Reading his interview yesterday in the News Journal, one gets a sense that perhaps this was not a fair fight…. By election laws it was, and we all have to accept the primary results. However, if Mike doesn’t run as a write-in, he is putting himself in the same position as if the United States did nothing after Pearl Harbor or 9/11….

And with Mike, it is not about winning, although winning would be nice. It would be about whether good or evil triumphed. Polls say it’s Mike’s race to lose. He actually has enough money to send every voter a personal card telling them exactly how much he’s done for them, how that will soon change for the worse, and explain how to write in his name and send the evil perpetrators back to their cardboard boxes.

If Mike doesn’t do this…. exactly then, what is he saying to future generations of Americans? ? That we should just give up when hit from behind with a baseball bat? That it’s the American way to lay down and bend over? That being a man, is knowing when to run away and hide? That brutality and tastelessness are the new American Way? That perhaps Christine was right? Castle has no man pants on? That the wishes of Delawareans don’t matter; we’ll stop immediately and do what Californians tell us? That how we brush off defeat is a better mark of character, than coming back strong and punishing the evil that befell us?

And sentences keep coming one after another… the list keeps going on…

But if I were in Mike Castles shoes, and if it were me looking over the entire scene before me… I would have no choice but to say I’m in… Oh yes, I would wait till the last minute of September 30th to do so… and I would create a smoke cloud beforehand by pretending to roll over and let bygones be bygones… …. …. and from somewhere out of the fog, then overwhelmingly, I’d strike.

I wouldn’t hold back.. It’d be my last race, it would be the one I pulled all my stops for. Every person I’d ever helped would get a personal appeal from me. Unconditional Surrender would be our rallying cry, just like for the troops of WWII… Our goal would be not just to win, but destroy the O’Tea Party forever.

Ok, Hannity O’Tea Partiers: so you were secretly prepared and yes, you overran Poland, and yes, you then went on to incorporate the Low Countries, Denmark and Norway, and even surprised France pushing their ally Britain into the water… But this time, you went too far.. You’ve taken on the United States. You’ve pissed off someone five times your size. We will Normandize you, Elbetize you, Dresdenize you, give you a Kolnectomy, Rhineantipuovertize you, Remagenisque you, and even liposuctionize your Battle of the Bulge. We will Pattontize you, Bradleydice you, and Marshall you into a corner from where you can’t maneuver.. We will take average civilians and turn them into a fighting force the world has never seen…

We will do so for the honor of America.

What kind of an America? An America where truth wins out, where decency prevails, where honesty and hard work eventually win out over trickery, skulduggery, and political assassination. You wanted to play dirty? We’ll show you how it’s done… In doing so we will show the world that modernism prevails, that decent people still run America. that the “Boehner Bullshit” is just that. It’s time to show the world what we’ve known all along.. That in America, it’s the people who run politics..Not the Politics who run the people…..

I’d tell every Delawarean… Do yourself a favor… Turn off your TV’s.. You got a question? Call me or my staff directly! We’ll talk to you… try talking back to their commercials! Where will that get you?

That stuff they’re airing? That’s not Delaware talking, That’s California money talking… That’s rich bitch snitch drug money being laundried to throw a Senate seat into supporting their snatching up of all your money… You want to keep some of your money? Call me. Call my staff… That’s Delaware talking.

Do you want reason to take on ins’hannity?

Well, it’s on. Support me. You can’t let the devil win… ”

Well anyway, if I were Castle, that’s exactly what I’d do. And I would do it selflessly, not to win, but to give Delawarean another alternative between a Democrat and our equivalent of the brown shirts of the Nazi Party.

Yes, if there is still good left in America, then Castle needs to run.
If the doesn’t, then the America that came back after Pearl Harbor……. is gone.

Duffy is God’s answer to a prayer.. I miss the old days of blogging when we were debating principals instead of people… Duffy has stuck to the old line of debating principals with facts, and that is what makes him special in the eyes of bloggers everywhere…

Since the passing of Steve Newton, he has been the only one to challenge me in any argument, and usually some pretty good stuff comes out of both sides during the exchange… I have respected that.. Cause once again, opinions mean dick. Facts are what we steer by.. It is my hope that in responding to his challenge that an answer may make itself apparent.. Who knows? It may not come from me… But if I’m the catalyst for bringing it out in the open, then… none of this was in vain..

Why I like to debate Duffy is simple.. Neither side, he or I, is concretely set in their opinions… We accept it when the other side makes sense… I usually go into such debates having no idea where they’ll end up… I hope the rest of you enjoy the ride as welI….

That said..

Duffy leads: Wall Street’s problems were caused by Fannie and Freddie loaning money to people they knew couldn’t pay and moreover, forcing banks to lend money to people who couldn’t pay. That was not deregulation but misregulation

kavips rebutt’s:Uh… Mr. President. That’s not entirely accurate.

First off, the Community Reinvestment Act of 1977 was developed for, and locked in on, urban developmental areas and had no part of the subprime boom, which primarily occurred out in western desert regions where owning 4 to 5 investment homes was normal… Those homes were overwhelmingly funded by loan originators NOT SUBJECT to the act… We all know the crises was not because people couldn’t afford a payment on their house. It came about, because with no occupants, people could not afford the payments of 4 to 5 houses….. Instead of one loan per borrower turning up in default; four to five were.
Investment Homes lead forclosures not inner city Residences

Second off, The housing bubble reached its point of maximum inflation in 2005.
The Housing Bubble Starts to Dive in 2005
Courtesy of NYT

Third off, During those exact same years, Fannie and Freddie were sidelined by Congressional pressure, and saw a sharp drop in their share of loans secured by the Feds… Follow the dotted line on the very bottom of the graph…
Freddie and Fannie on the lowest line
Courtesy of NYT

Fourth off; During those exact same years, private secures, like Delaware’s own AIG, grabbed the lions share of the market.
Private, not Public Insurers Caused the Crash
Courtesy of NYT

Remember these graphs for later on when I discuss the results of deregulation, versus regulation… But like it or not, these graphs conclusively show that private insurers, who thanks to Marie Evans, we now know were deregulated by Phil Gramm in the 2000 Omnibus Bill, were the primary cause of the worlds financial collapse.. Probably put best by these words of AIG’s spokesperson, who when asked why they didn’t have sufficient funds to cover losses, said point blank, “We were deregulated. We were no laws requiring us to keep any funds, ..so we spent it…”

Duffy leads: The loosely regulated hedge funds escaped this mess largely unscathed. Why? They can’t count on a bailout like the big banks. The Too Big To Fail banks were counting on a bailout (not unlike the S&L bailouts which started on the Republican’s watch) and they got them.

kavips rebutt’s:Uh… Mr. President. That’s not entirely accurate. I agree that the hedge funds did survive better than the banks. Not because of bailouts, but because they sold short during the crises and made billions while firms closed and people got thrown out of work. There is nothing wrong with that; I did the same. In fact close readers may remember my warnings that the crises was impending almost a year earlier. Very close readers may remember my telling them exactly when to sell, and at what point the stock market would rebound… I must say: I called it rather well. 🙂

“Hedge funds were not in my understanding, at fault in the credit crisis,” said David Ruder, former chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission. “At the most what they did was to sell securities when some of their investments were declining and they needed to have liquid funds. They were not the architects of these problems.”

De regulated hedge funds are not the issue… De-regulated, excessively leveraged, mortgage securities, are a different story however… They, not the banks that held them, are the cause of the crises…Years from now, when academics search for causes of the stock market crash of 2008, they will focus on the pivotal role of mortgage-backed securities. These exotic financial instruments allowed a downturn in U.S. home prices to morph into a contagion that brought down Bear Stearns a year ago this month – and more recently have brought the global banking system to its knees.

Where you err is when you state that banks too big to fail, assumed they would be bailed out… By implication, you say imply they failed from squandering money, and wanted the bailouts.. But your tax dollars didn’t flow directly to the bottom line.

The roughly $200 billion the Treasury Department has handed out to battered banks was swapped for a special class of stock that pays a 5 percent dividend (rising to 9 percent after five years.) As of April 15, the Treasury had collected about $2.5 billion in dividend payments on its investment.

So in that sense, the bailout money represents an expense for banks. That’s one reason a number of banks have said they want to give the money back as soon as possible.

You say big banks were counting on a bailout, and they got them? That didn’t happen to these banks. New Mexico, Georgia, and Florida each lost a bank just last Friday. That brings to 8, the number of banks failed in June. Unfortunately if a bank is failing, it can’t bet on itself to fail, as can a hedge fund.

Duffy leads: Banks have successfully lobbied to get their losses absorbed by taxpayers and gains are kept private. How nice for them. They felt comfortable making insane gambles because they knew they’d be bailed out. Most of them were right. Also remember that it was Bill Clinton who tore down the wall between retail and investment banking. The idea was to give banks more stability as they typically perform as exact opposites in bull and bear markets. (FWIW, I think that was a good idea and I can tell you first hand that two of the Fortune 100 banks I worked for were carried by retail banking in bear years. They may not have had bonuses those years but they didn’t have layoffs either)

kavips rebutt’s:Uh… Mr. President. That’s not entirely accurate. The idea is that the banks made bad decisions knowing taxpayers would bail them out is the issue that is inaccurate. For the record, I have no qualms that it was the Clinton legacy who tore down the wall between banks and investment banking. Like you, I feel it was a good idea to do so… Again the problem was not primarily with banks making loans to people who could not pay.. Although, it was as late as October 2009, when I was made aware of one private Bank in Denver still exaggerating income to make loans look good enough on paper to get approval of securitization. What caused the collapse was the leveraging of those loans as securities, so that as the housing market became overextended, and the ARM jumped past the low cost opening years, the damage was 100 times worse because of leveraging. What made the collapse criminal, was that the insurance most financial institutions had bought from AIG, to cover such an improbable event, had already spent by that companies executives, out on bonuses to themselves. What made it doubly criminal, was that when they received government dollars through a taxpayer bailout, those same executives assumed it was to first go towards paying their bonuses again. However, very recent events may give some cover to the argument that some collusion was implicit in the bailing out of Goldman Sacs and AIG… Basically, once bailed out, AIG paid Goldman Sacs for shares twice as much as they were worth. The documents also indicate that regulators ignored recommendations from their own advisers to force the banks to accept losses on their A.I.G. deals and instead paid the banks in full for the contracts.

Times are hard for people. And there are two genetic strains of personalities reacting to those hard times.

The first is dominated by the selfish gene. They are the ones who say “hey, look at me! I’m doing just fine. If I could do it, you can too. I’m blessed. And don’t take anything of mine, unless you’re willing to pay me back a very high rate of return!”

The second is dominated by the selfless gene. They are the ones who say, “look, that could be me. Hey, I have something here I’m not using. Take this. Maybe you can find some use for it. And don’t worry about paying me back… When you get on your feet, return the favor to someone else who is down on their luck..”

We both know individuals and groups of individuals who follow these two pursuits…. To those of us who study history. a parallel can be drawn between the two camps. The selfish first stems from Old World philosophy. The selfless second originated in the New World.

The European nations were at that time founded upon the principals of mercantilism. Each nation used militaristic methods to acquire capital in the form of gold bullion. Stealing gold from South Americans was the principal cause of wealth formation throughout Europe during the colonial age. Those nations without territory in South America, stole their gold from those who had territory and were stealing South America blind. And then of course, you could trade some of your products for their gold if they were inclined to buy. That in a nutshell, was the European economic system existing at the time of this continent’s discovery.

You did not aid and abet your enemy. You charged, kept records, and used your military to collect, if those owing you money failed to meet their obligations. Needless to say, this mentality flowed downhill throughout each nation’s respective economies. If someone defaulted, you threw that person into prison where they could never acquire the means to pay you back.. You were vindictive, demanding, and cruel…. You had to be, so they feared you. Many of our early settlers were these poor locked up souls, filling up debtor’s prisons, only to be shipped over here, dumped and left to die..

Instead they prospered and from them, came the other line of treating those less fortunate: helping them get back on their feet by making them productive enough to earn money. The money then earned, was subsequently returned to those generous souls who gave them a break, by being spent in their stores on their own goods or services.

As the frontier expanded Westward, this philosophy spread with it. If a neighbor’s house burnt, you and your neighbors had a house raising party. If Indians stole their horses, you gave up some of yours. If your neighbor needed a plow, you lent him yours. The benefit was obvious. Should you befall poor circumstances, they would do the same for you, without asking. People were a rare asset as America’s frontier expanded; natural resources were abundant. So naturally, people gave up what they had, to help other’s if that meant they all had a better chance of surviving… After all, natural resources couldn’t come to your aid or load your weapon, should your family be attacked by a scalping party out on a raid.

This concept of banding together to help others is a very American trait. It would be one not so well widespread today, if it hadn’t been the greatest generation of Americans who brought it to the forefront. WWII drove home this idea to the rest of the world, It showed all that America was very different. Over here, people stood for something and because of that, they were willing to invest valuable resources to help right injustice, and even better, once winning? They packed up and went home. And one even better? They used their own precious resources to help their former enemies get back on their feet again… Gee what a great country..

Today we hear that same philosophy about helping others, being used across our health care debate This great debate of this decade is, at the core, a debate between helping people survive, or… helping people get rich off of helping people survive… All National Health Care arguments boil down to that one sentence… Whatever side you are on, whatever plank you hide behind, whatever argument you make, at its core is either the belief that we should be selfless, or selfish.

There is no way around it. If as a nation we should be selfless in our treatment to our unfortunate, our own citizens, then we need some form of governmental input. If as a nation we should be selfish in our treatment to our unfortunate, our own citizens, then we need to maintain the current status quo system of for profit private health care…

History has a funny way of playing tricks. We think of Socialism as a European tradition. However it was from America that socialism derived its inspiration during our nation’s growth over the 19th Century. Socialism was a contrived as a method calculated to achieve those values visible on the American frontier, by redirecting the wealth that for so long, had been locked down by a very few. Socialism was the way to pry open the coffers of one or two rich guys, thereby allowing help to flow outward to areas where it needed to go.. One should note, that the rise in Socialism was most prominent after WWII when the populations of broken nations looked to America as a model, and said we want to be like them… Combining the resources of government and business was their quickest avenue to achieve that goal.

It’s time we pool our resources over on this side of the ocean. Our financial system was stripped bare, and we need to grow our way back to prosperity. We also need to bring along the global economy with us..

One could argue that capitalism, free markets with no regulation, is exactly what collapsed our global financial system. AIG taking insurance payments and spending them, simply because they weren’t regulated, is exactly what capitalism calls for…

Americanism, on the other hand does just the opposite. Americanism is simply the pooling of resources for a short time only, to help a neighbor in need. It comes with no attachments, save the deep understanding that should the shoe be on the other foot, we would be the beneficiaries of their good fortune. We need Americanism if we are to continue our role as the greatest nation on earth. Our experimentation with the old world order these past eight years, led us to disaster… just like it has led European nations to disaster every twenty years, up until Americanism took over after 1945.

The wave of the future is not a free for all, money grabbing fiasco; it is an evolution. And evolution is at its most successful when the gene pool available is maximised. As for the healthcare debate, the more players allowed at the table, the better chance we have at evolving our healthcare system into the best option. That best option, will be determined not by plan or directive, but by individual purchases across every state of this nation…

Even if you have great distaste for a government entity entering itself into the health care insurance field, you can have no fear of letting it compete in the free market of health coverage… It is after all, a free market. If it can’t compete effectively, it will become extinct. On the other hand, if it is the better option and receives a much better reception than its private competitors do, it would be wrong to deny this nation’s citizens something that benefits them so greatly… It would be flat out wrong..

So the American thing to do, is to allow this governmental insurance entity to compete on the free market with private competitors. Americans helping Americans. It’s the only American thing we can possible do..

And as an aside, the next time you hear the word socialism patsied about, set them straight. It is Americanism they’re against.. Socialism died with fall of Lehman Brothers and Merrill Lynch. Now, its Americanism. Helping ones neighbor who can’t help themselves..

But then again… there are those with the selfish gene.

Seconds Before Impact  D Day June 6th 1944
Photo courtesy of Utah Senate Site

For these men are lately drawn from the ways of peace. They fight not for the lust of conquest. They fight to end conquest. They fight to liberate. They fight to let justice arise, and tolerance and goodwill among all Thy people. They yearn but for the end of battle, for their return to the haven of home.

Some will never return. Embrace these, Father, and receive them, Thy heroic servants, into Thy kingdom.

And for us at home — fathers, mothers, children, wives, sisters, and brothers of brave men overseas, whose thoughts and prayers are ever with them — help us, Almighty God, to rededicate ourselves in renewed faith in Thee in this hour of great sacrifice. FDR Prayer On D Day, June 6th, 1944

On the eleventh hour, of the eleventh day, of the eleventh month, the continuous guns fell silent…… After years of incoming artillery’s deep, resonant pounding,…..the quiet began. The rare pop of small arms fire,….. faded away. Cautiously a brave soul or two crawled out and stood on top of the trenches. Turning to the other side, they saw the enemy of just a few minutes before, mirroring their own actions…..It was truly over.

Compared to the rest of Europe, the US fared well. Germany, France, Great Britain lost an entire generation of their young men…..

Some dreamed that surely, after such a waste, there never could, or would be such a war again……

It was only a dream…..as history would soon prove……

On this day, there are 22 verified veterans left….worldwide. Four of these are Americans. Soon the last living memories of this war….. will fade away……….

My brush with living memories happened when I was in High School. What the German war machine failed to do………an insignificant clot accomplished. Those who visited, told stories of the dark, turbulent wrestling within the soul……They whispered of an alert mind, albeit one locked in the year 1917 from which it would ultimately and peacefully escape…. They spoke in hushed tones of an old man, possessing enormous strength, incapable of being subdued by even the hospital’s largest orderlies……They told of the soldier’s enterprising son, who climbing back into those years to be with him, and navigating the treacherous barbed wire memories, peacefully calmed him down, until the old soldier finally accepted that his war was over, and quietly signed his own armistice with God………..

We learned he had suffered from shell shock as they called it then, spending the post-war years in a sanitarium somewhere in occupied Germany, of the bland letters to his wife and unseen child back home, letters whose lack of substance during this vapid time, played rabidly on her fears of another women…..

We heard stories of involuntary reactions, occurring some twenty years later…of a face, framed by white hair, turned scarlet in the middle of a social gathering, when someone absently said, “Oh that was during the war.”

And then there were the personal effects, a letter rapidly written in German by a dying officer, with our hero’s first name mentioned as being the one entrusted to make sure the letter got back to his wife, a letter that said the war would soon be over for him, that the only important thing he hung onto as he crossed over to the the other side, were the times he and she had shared together……..As kids we used to march around in a dough boy’s hat, and a genuine spiked Prussian helmet. (the originals were all black, by the way, no silver.)

And then the youngest son, who came along after our soldier had mellowed somewhat, told of stumbling with his dad, across a model of one battlefield, I think it was Belleau Wood, and how that opened up the memories which, pent up for years, calmly flowed out unrepressed, with no emotional consequences.

Through this, we heard the story of a young officer defying a direct order to attack, solely because the objective was unattainable and trying to attempt it, would wipe out every one of his men….Who opting, instead of facing a firing squad, to have himself crawl into no mans land……accompanied only by his sergeant who had stood steadfast with him during this ordeal only to get ripped apart minutes later, had to lie there for two days protected under the warm, safe body which occasionally absorbed a well placed bullet, kept safe by only the tiniest rise of land preventing a direct shot…..

The story of showing up in France, and leading the AEF’s first attack, upon a fortified hill surrounded by the Meuse, and succeeding…..

Those memories didn’t die….they passed and took seed in another generation. Today they lie embedded in one more, a generation who once again questions the “why” of war.

Like his grandfather before him, this person too was brought up under a religion that seem to question war and tell us to “turn the other cheek.” Like his grandfather before him, this person too believes that sometimes there is no greater duty, than to give one’s life for one’s country……..How are these two, supposedly opposite points of view, ever to be reconciled?

We know that Jesus allowed his disciples to carry swords. During the final days, when he asks the disciples if they have a sword, and Peter shows two, he says that is enough…..But later that night when Peter uses his sword to protect Jesus and cuts off a servant’s ear, Jesus tells him sternly. “Put that away. We will have no more of that…”

Fascinating. This duality starts from the beginning of the Christian religion itself.

Throughout history, the worst wars fought have been religious ones. The longest animosities, the ones considered too hard to bury, are those originally pricked by religion….

When we are told to turn the other cheek, perhaps we are to do that on a personal level…. By doing so, hoping that we show others, just how deeply we believe these principals . Perhaps this line of thought recognizes that we are each small instruments of change; but a change of heart in multitudes of men, can implement massive changes…..Therefore doing a self deprecating act, such as dying for another, or carrying an enemy soldier’s bag an extra mile, can have a much greater impact overall, than another killing and the loss of one dead soldier…..

But as a nation of free people we have another responsibility. That responsibility is to ensure that justice, (or that which is right),… prevails over evil, (or that which is wrong)…. As some of you may note, there is a wide play of interpretation in just exactly what is right, and what is wrong…..

But for a strong nation to appease a despot like Stalin, Hitler, or those tyrants in Burma, does exactly the opposite of performing justice. Instead it shows others, despite our words, that we implicitly support these evil regimes, and in doing so, we fail to send hope and inspiration to those who fight, to right the wrongs caused by their misguided leaders….

War enacted by a political state is sometimes a necessity, the last remaining line of defense against the selfish designs of a demented few. Less pain and suffering worldwide, can be bandaged by enacting war, than by allowing open wounds to fester, rot, and spread their evil infection elsewhere.

Therefore as a nation, the United States must occasionally gamble all of it’s resources in the ultimate test…. One must on occasion risk all, to determine whether all was worthy to be risked……

Any nation is only as good as its foot soldiers,…. its grunts. Those choice veterans I know, with whom I’ve hugged, laughed, and cried, …… continue to reinforce the notion I once had as a child: that based on the quality of people who put their lives on the line for this nation, we are truly the best nation to have ever lived upon this planet……..

Taking the Easy Pass Lane

So there I was as a young man, traipsing over the grassy knolls of a compound called Dachau……..and the single image of which I could not shake from my mind, was a view back home from the top of the former Twin Towers.………taken while walking  around the observatory in a slow 360 degree circle and realizing that the entire mass of humanity in that circle of twenty miles, was less than the amount of those eradicated by the Nazis, without a whimper from the German people.

And as my eyes watered a bit, ((no I did not cry), I was still too young), while gazing upon the fake showers, and peering into the cyanide vats on the other side, a tiny child’s voice between my ears, kept repeating a phrase I had stumbled across before the tour on the floor inside the museum. ” You saw us being beaten, you saw us wearing stars, you saw us humiliated, you saw us being transported, and YET YOU DID NOTHING……… I remember at the time being quite angry at the timidity and the complicity of the German people. For a brief moment I hated them…….and in a typical fashion common of that gender in possession of high and excessive levels of testosterone, in those emotional moments I vowed that I, (superior being that I was) would never fear or cave in to brutal intimidation………..

Today, my friend’s friend, lies buried in Arlington……And when I clicked on a forgotten link……(do I still need this?…) and saw the face of a very brave New Castle citizen…….looking back from her high school picture…..those jaded eyes of mine wet over again as I slowly realized that I too had failed to live up to that promise I once made on a bright July afternoon, while standing beside a giant trench planted over with flowers……….

So where was I when it happened? What was I doing that was so important as events played around me? Nothing earth shattering really, and if you probe and scrape all the residue away, I was simply way too busy going through motions in 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, to really worry making those tough sacrifices that are personally required to implement the necessary changes (piece of crap, I am)……. Then,……… something about that girl’s picture…………..pissed me off. I think it was how much like my own daughter she was……

So what can I do? Not much, I am no Kissinger nor Howard Baker. I cannot bring these people together and make a settlement. But I can make a choice……and that choice is this.

I can choose to STOP DOING NOTHING. I can go on record and suffer the surprise trip to Guantanamo that may come in the middle of the night (risk diminished), or the bullet to the back of the head in some forgotten landfill (not likely), if it comes to that. And most particularly, I can look at those who enabled and supported this administration when it chose to invade a nation that had not attacked us, a nation that had no intention of attacking us, a nation that had nothing to do with 9/11…….but only a nation that had the poor unfortunate distinction, of being the chosen victim that this bully of an administration had decided to make an example of………..long before the 2000 elections were ever held!

If any of you have ever felt that you too have done too little, that you too were lulled and fooled into believing this war made you safer, then come, join me outside Delaware congressman Mike Castle’s office on Friday July 6th. And should you be too busy, I will understand. Most likely you do not have that haunting childlike voice as do I between my ears, that implores ……..AND YET YOU DO NOTHING…….…But if, by some ancient gene, you do…… possess the capacity to know right from wrong, and if…… by the grace of God, you have been given time to come and be counted, and if…… you do not want to pass on, having never made a difference in anything………… then take the half hour, and come and join us; be counted on this upcoming Friday at 11:00am. (Tell Boss-women you have a doctors appointment if you have to……or call on someone you know who feels like you do, and unlike you, has nothing going on at moment in time.)

Results:

If ten people show, the war goes on, but us ten can rest at ease that we did our part. If twenty show, our numbers just grew 100% !!…….If hundreds show, one or two lines will appear in the News Journal and it will not have been in vain. If a thousand people show, the Congressman and staff will take notice. And just maybe……just maybe……..find within themselves the moral courage to add their voice to echo ours……..WE CAN MAKE A CHOICE……WE CAN DO SOMETHING.

In democracy, the real leaders are always “We, the people“: it is us who tell the government what We want them to do…… Please……..come with us……….and make our stand?

The clock is ticking down……less than forty hours remain. Friends….that is only 2400 minutes! Or even worse, just 144,000 seconds. The countdown continues…..

Remember when the General Assembly was sworn in early in January, At that time the 1st of July seemed a long way off.

But in 2359 minutes, it will be here! January to June, let us see…..six months? we should be tidying up by now with just a few knick knacks left to finalize…..Right?

Let us see what is on the agenda’s of today’s General Assembly.

In the Senate: as of 12:00 (yesterday) only one thing: Tony De’Luca’s bill to have various organizations within the state, look for extra money and report back on 12/21/07 on what they find. I find this a little confusing. Why do we need to tie up the remaining 2398 minutes with a bill that does nothing but say “we need to do this”. On the surface, when you first hear it, it seems sound good. “I, Tony DeLuca, got tough with our bureaucrats and demanded they look for other ways to fund our government.” But isn’t that naturally what happens when you, your business, your government runs out of money? Your first priority becomes to find “where you can get more”……….Since there is no funding within the bill, and there is really nothing new in the bill, this bill, as it says from the outset, it is just a proclamation……..A commission, proposed within this bill, could just as easily be appointed by the governor to find revenue streams and report back.

If someone could get back to me on why this bill is important, I would like to hear. But in reading it, it sounds like ‘much ado about nothing.” One would think with only 2397 minutes left, we could find something far more worthwhile to debate……………..

On the house side more is going on. You have Senate Bill 36 which quietly sells government employees down the river. AFSCME may still be around for years, but as for saving pension plans or bargaining for better insurance, forget it. This bill would forever remove those items from the collective bargaining table:

Position classification, health care and other benefit programs established pursuant to Chapter 52 of Title 29, workers compensation, disability programs and pension programs shall not be deemed to be compensation for purposes of this section;

So if in the future if it becomes necessary for the state to economize by cutting benefits to minimize costs, the unions will be unable to protest it. This appears to be the first quiet, hidden attempt to cut state employee’s benefits. This Rubicon, if crossed, will forever diminish labor’s effective voice. Due to the lack of outcry, I doubt if most of them know……….or will know with only 2396 minutes left.

Next comes HB 177, the fusion bill. This would eliminate candidates who may have lost the primary, from running as a third party candidate in any general election aka Joe Lieberman or Connecticut. As Delaware Watch points out this bill would force organized labor to support just one of the two major parties. And you know they won’t support Republicans. Obviously this is one Democrat’s attempt to keep its rank and file from trickling away, aka the Berlin Wall. Thanks to the watchfulness of Dana this bill became public knowledge. But with only 2395 minutes left it had a good shot at going through.

Next comes HB 208, which says that a person has committed burglary as soon as they enter a building without permission. They do not have to steal anything, just be there. This would effectively cut down on the solid American tradition of checking on elderly neighbors, just to see if they might need medical attention. But most likely this issue will not be raised with just 2394 minutes left.

House Bill 251 prevents convicted criminals from becoming volunteer fireman. Perhaps this is ok, but I think there is no harm in letting Freeberry fight fires if she wants to. But these ramifications will go unnoticed with only 2393 minutes left.

The Senate Joint Resolution 3, organizes a leviathan task force to see what can be done with Wilmington’s schools. The makeup of this monstrous 33 member task force, will be big on names, but seriously short on talent. It will pass on the feeling of “lets do something nice for Wilmington” because no one will have time to look too hard at it with only 2392 minutes left.

House Concurrent Resolution 32 creates another task force, this time of 23 people, to look at new assessment possibilities instead of the current DSTP used in schools today. 3 of those will be on the above task force as well. (I hope they have daytimers). This report is due late May 2008, too late for serious action by the second half of this General Assembly. But it should generate plenty of controversy for the upcoming election. 2391 minutes and counting.

Senate Bill 119 seeks to insert this clause into the Delaware code: “(1) The amount to be raised by taxation shall not exceed 20.97 cents on each $100 value of real property in Sussex County for the tax year 2008, 22.23 cents for 2009, and 23.50 cents for 2010 and all years thereafter.” This is to fund Vocational Schools only. And with only 2390 minutes left, no one will even know……..

Senate Bill 123 further seeks to streamline and professionalize the educational process by controlling who those parents are on the advisory boards, which used to be siphoned from the Delaware Congress of Parents, but now are to be hand picked by the Secretary of Education.

Senate Bill 126 finally does some good. This bill alone should save the state billions over its lifetime if enacted. This bill returns the determination of fines back to the discretion of the judge, by eliminating the predetermined amounts, which unfortunately sent many people into our correctional system, who really did not need to be there. Let’s hope there is enough time, with only 2388 minutes left.

House bill 189 removes one more roadblock that stands in the way of remaking Sussex County into a sea of aluminum sided houses. This obsolete law, which on its surface makes sense to update, will, by its removal, allow many developments to go forward which have been so far held back. This bill still is stuck in committee. It may not see light in the next 2387 minutes left. Oops just passed the House.
HS 1 for HB146 seeks to mandate stateside recycling. Unlike most bills before the House this time, this one has the means to pay for itself. However constant vigilance and discipline need to be exercised to insure the recycling fund is not pilfered by Republicans whose modus operandi has always been: “see it, spend it” despite their political rhetoric to the contrary. Oh! Just got shot down…………..

House bill 241 seeks to make this change which will affect 5 employees of the state………all well known to every legislator.

Section 1. Amend §5201(b), Title 29 of the Delaware Code by adding the following sentence at the end thereof:

“An Individual qualifying for a service pension under §5522(e) of this Title shall not be an ‘eligible pensioner’.”.

Section 2. Amend § 5501(d), Title 29 of the Delaware Code, by inserting therein a new paragraph to read as follows:

“(22) Service as a per diem employee with the House or Senate of this State.”.

Senate bill 133 seeks to mandate the separation of children from sex offenders. This is a good bill. Let’s us hope it gets a hearing with only 2384 minutes left.

HB 220 could with tongue- in- cheek, be called the John Atkins bill. Should he ever return to political notoriety at a whim, he could be hauled in and tested. This bill extends alcohol monitoring indefinitely instead of ending in one year. This could be a good thing for those repeat offenders, but more than likely, knowing how most legislators can put down several very stiff drinks in a very short span of time, it could also be used for intimidation and control once an arrest was made. But in their stupor, there is no time to consider this, with only 2383 minutes left.

House Bill 172 seeks to impose the monitoring of uninsured motorists driving upon the road. It tightens reporting requirements on those who get insurance to buy a car, then let it lapse with no payment. Within ten days the state will know. But, to those who like to hold public officials accountable for their actions, this warning is appropriate: you had better make sure your insurance gets paid on time…….

HB 240 seeks to clarify criminal offenses by switching many minor ones over to civil offenses where they belong. This bill is an interesting read for it includes a list of minor infractions that should be civil in nature. Check out for yourself how many times you were a criminal, and because you did not get caught, you never knew it? This bill is overdue. The cost savings from tying down courts, the AG’s office, and law enforcement, over the life of this bill, should save billions.

HB 212 widens the area sex offenders cannot be seen in to include parks, playgrounds, daycare centers.

SB 160, again by DeLuca, provides one more slap in the face specifically to those American workers who get HURT ON THE JOB. They are being asked to incur at least 15% of the medical costs that occurred from accidents while they were on the job. Currently, they receive medical attention at no cost to themselves for employer mandated accidents. Considering that most current Americans do not have enough money to pay for gas , electric, ARM mortgages, car insurance, or car payments,….. their answer to the question “Do you want to go to the hospital for that?” will turn into an emphatic “no,” a decision that may perhaps kill them a few months later from its complications, but save them from paying their part of the 4000 dollar medical bill, which if paid, would push them into bankruptcy. This is just one more example of how a leadership position, removes a thoughtful person away from reality.

Senate Bill 111 seeks to move one offense the other way, towards a felony. Violation of a Domestic violence protection order, will be upgraded from a Class A misdemeanor, to a Class F felony. Knowing how those to violate these orders, are under passionate emotional influences, and immune from normal rational thought , this bill falls into that feel-good status, (look, we did something) just as mandatory sentencing did, and not into effective control. The only effective difference will be the charge presented to the court, long after the women and children are dead.

House bill 266 attempts to standardize the definitions of abuse thought the state’s governmental system. However, based on their definition of “emotional abuse” that definition could be in a thesaurus under “marriage”.

SB150
will give those medical professionals who help out during emergencies, freedom from any liability for any action occurring as a result of their involvement, the same way state emergency responders are protected.

HB 207 seeks to give the same penalties for selling counterfeit drugs, as for the drugs themselves. No more getting off because the actual drug sold, acetaminophen, was not on the controlled substance list……… but was being sold as something that was……..

SB 35: Section 1. Amend Subsection 1014(a) of Title 26 of the Delaware Code by striking the figure “$0.000178” in the first sentence thereof and replacing it with the figure “$0.000356”. This extra money goes into the Green Energy fund at the residential electrical cost of .18 cents per household. This is to generate home grown energy projects on a person’s own property.

And most importantly, with ramifications greatly affecting all Delawareans, is the Dick Cathcart sponsored HB 245. This bill will change history by changing the method moist snuff is taxed within the state of Delaware.

UPDATE: JUST LAID ON SPEAKERS TABLE

Keeley HJR 7 establishes yet another task force, again devoid of funding, to look into statewide recycling. I guess she doesn’t have the necessary votes to pass HB 146.

Then there is the HB 250, the appropriations bill for 2008: all 256 pages of it. But no worries, mate, there still are 2377 minutes left. (9.28 minutes to read and absorb each page, that is if so choose not sleep.)

Hopefully they are taking amphetamines. Because if they decide to get a good night’s rest over the next couple of working days, they will squander 480 minutes of that time left. One must assume that they will sleep on the floor of the offices, because commuting times will bite into 120 more of those minutes. Unless they eat while working they will use up 120 minutes and estimated bathroom time should fall between 100 and 120 minutes. So if we are willing to forgive these personal indulgences (a whopping 820 minutes), they have only 1577 minutes left……a little over twenty six hours to do all of the above and the bond bill as well, which as of yet, has not arrived out of committee…

There is a lot for our legislators to absorb in the next several minutes. To make it even tougher, our lobbyist’s contingent insists… that our legislators follow the Dr. Pepper rule these last few days……..

Dr. Pepper rule? Don’t know that one? That is a classic. It stands for having two drinks by ten, two drinks by 2, and two drinks by 4. Is it any wonder that our citizens get the short end of the deal at the end of every legislative session?

For true insight on how democracy works, show up at legislative hall on Saturday night.It is free and open to the public…… And bring a camera phone.