THE PROS AND CONS OF SARAH PALIN

 

I figured it would be Sen. Kay Hutchinson of Texas, or Christine T. Whitman of New Jersey, both conservative republicans and both women. Well, I was partly right, he picked a woman. But I never thought Sarah Palin, in my wildest imagination.

Whether it was a good choice or not, John McCain has done what he’s best known for: thinking outside the box, being a maverick, doing the least expected.

Like most folks who follow politics, I’ve done some homework. This is what I see as the pros and cons of her nomination.

THE CONS:  

 * Experience. That’s a no-brainer. The Obama pundits will certainly seize upon her less than two-year reign as a state governor, which follows a six-year mayoral stint and four as a town councilwoman. McCain’s emphasis on Obama’s lack of experience thus becomes nullified.

* Strong pro-life. Half of the voting populous is pro-choice.

* Too young. John F. Kennedy was younger when he took the oath of office. Obama is only three years older.

* Too many domestic responsibilities with five kids, one of whom has Down Syndrome.

* Far right wing conservative. This is only negative to those who are far left wing liberal.

* Has a daughter who got knocked up at seventeen. (Some say that’s a negative)

* Has a husband who was arrested for DUI twenty years ago. (GW Bush was busted for DUI in 1976.)

I’m struggling here folks. Help me out.

Okay, let’s do the pros.

PROS: 

 * Her two years as governor and six as a mayor giver her nearly eight years of government executive experience. That’s more than John McCain has, yet Barack Obama.

* Established a clear record of intolerance to corruption, standing up to the old republican guard of Alaska.

* Refused federal monies for the “bridge to nowhere.”

* Chaired Alaska’s Oil and Gas Conversion Commission, then resigned because of republican corruption.

* Enjoys an 80% or better approval rating from Alaskan citizens.

* Cut taxes

* Encourages off shore drilling in Alaska to help the U.S. wean off foreign dependency.

* Made good her promises to cut expenses, by standing up to big oil interests, advocating expansion of natural gas.

* Helped to imposed a tax increase on oil company profits.

* Rescinded 35 appointments made by the previous governor after taking office.

* Outstanding mom, wife and sportswoman.

* It distances McCain from G.W. Bush and sends a message that he is his own man, not beholden to republican politics as usual. Palin’s selection nullifies the worn-out bromide that McCain is four more years of Bush. The Alaska governor is known for cleaning up republican politics, and that will scare anyone in the Bush/Cheney camp.

I could make these lists five times longer. And yes, any writer can slant such an article to favor one or the other, depending on his/her leanings. They all do it, we know that.

The bottom line is not who it is that helps the new president get elected, it’s who best serves the interest of Americans if the president could no longer serve in office.

I think we should sit back and watch and listen for the next two months, not only the main contenders, but the number twos on the tickets. I have a feeling Mrs. Palin is going to surprise a lot of people. She reminds me of a female JFK.

Country first.

 

SHIPPING PIRATES POSE A DEADLY THREAT

In May of this year, a Danish tugboat operator named Colin Darch was piloting his craft out of the Red Sea when heavily armed pirates approached in two small boats and began screaming and firing weapons. Though he made a gallant attempt to resist, the thugs boarded the tugboat and took the crew hostage for six weeks until a ransom was paid by the company’s owners, reportedly at $700,000. Interviewed later, Darch said his “heart sank” when the assault began.

In April, the French luxury yacht, Le Ponant, was seized off the coast of Somalia where thirty people were taken hostage. A reported two million dollars in ransom money was paid for their release.

According to the International Maritime Bureau, seventy-one vessels have been boarded in the first six months of 2008, 190 crew members were taken hostage, seven were killed and another seven are missing, and presumed dead. Over 2,463 acts of piracy were committed around the world between 2000 and 2006. Their goal: food and supplies targeted as foreign aid, cash, personal belongings of passengers, and ransom money. The most hazardous routes are along the Nigerian and Somali coastlines of Africa, Indonesia and the Gulf of Aden where shipping lanes are vital in and out of the Red Sea. Authorities estimate only a fraction of attacks are actually reported, for fear of inflated insurance costs.

Such thugs are not the romantic figures of yore. No Captain Kidd, no “Shiver me timbers,” no swashbuckling Blackbeards, no swords, no eye patches. Modern pirates are sophisticated and armed to the teeth in their quest for blood money. In November of 2005, the U.S. cruise ship, Seabourn Spirit, was seized more than 100 miles from the Somali shoreline by pirates in speedboats launched from a mother ship. The attackers were armed with automatic firearms and grenades. Often, pirates don night-vision goggles, carry rocket launchers and navigate with global positioning devices.

According to estimates by the Rand Corporation, armed attacks on the high seas are costing over one billion dollars a year.

It’s tantamount to international terrorism. Fear runs rampant along shipping lanes. Individual crew members carry pistols. Thugs kill and maim. But we hear little about this form of terror in the media, because they don’t explode bombs in busy marketplaces or on school buses, nor does it involve al Qaeda and other known terror organizations. The news is not sensational enough.

Besides the costs in human life, it is certainly having an impact on international tourism, and the cost of commerce because cargo tankers are being forced to navigate hundreds of miles — consuming tons of extra fuel — out of the way to distance themselves from the threat of terror.

It’s nothing new. Rogues of southern Asia and northern Africa have engaged in pirating for a millennium. Between the 16th and 19th centuries, Barbary Pirates menaced the Mediterranean and Atlantic shores, committing murder, robbing merchant chips, capturing hostages and taking more than 1.25 million Europeans as slaves to be sold in their markets along the North African coast.

(That’s right, victims of slavery were not limited to Africans)

The impact was devastating. France, England and Spain lost thousands of ships not to mention human beings. Long stretches of the southern coastline of Spain and Italy were abandoned for fear of pirates.

After America’s independence, the United States joined with other nations to engage in international shipping and commerce, but were impeded by constant raids and killings by the Barbary pirates. In 1786, Thomas Jefferson and John Adams personally met with the ambassador from Tripoli, Sidi Haji Abdul Rahman Adja, and asked why his government had been so hostile to our country and to Europeans.

The ambassador’s response was delivered to the Continental Congress:

“It was written in the Koran, that all nations which had not acknowledged the Prophet were sinners, whom it was the right and duty of the faithful to plunder and enslave; and that every Muslim who was slain in this warfare was sure to go to paradise. He said, also, that the man who was the first to board a vessel had one slave over and above his share, and that when they sprang to the deck of an enemy’s ship, every sailor held a dagger in each hand and a third in his mouth; which usually struck such terror into the foe that they cried out for quarter at once”

 

In order to fend off violence with violence, the practice of appeasement and capitulation was born, followed by the success of ransoms between the U.S. and the pirates. Payments of tribute and ransom amounted to 20 percent of United States government revenues in 1800. Algeria, for example, wanted $60,000 per prisoner, while the U.S. would only pay $4,000. History books are replete with horror stories about slavery, rape, murder and robbery stemming from the Barbary Coast. In the end, appeasement and negotiations did nothing to stem to flood of terror. President Jefferson, and congress, finally decided on a more formidable tactic: guns.

The first Barbary war lasted from 1801 to 1805, the second took place in 1815. The enemy was defeated by the U.S. Marines at Tripoli, thus the hymn lyrics,… “to the shores of Tripoli.” Shipping piracy and kidnapings came to a near halt. The Barbary pirates understood one message only: force.

The United Nations has basically been impotent in stemming these actions. A Security Council resolution passed on June 2nd allows for the U.S. and coalition nations to intervene by all necessary means to stem piracy off the Somali coast. But with attacks occurring far out into international waters, they come under no country’s jurisdiction, and no legal protection. Most often, for shippers and boaters, it’s every man to himself, defend as you can.

The U.S. has been active in patrolling waters and escorting some ships carrying foreign aid. We have also donated equipment, and coordinated training exercises for Indonesian sailors, urging them to work with their neighbors in Singapore and Malaysia. But the attacks continue. The U.S. cannot police the world.

Just like the action taken against the Barbary pirates of the 19th century, the only recourse may be the use of force. It is foreseeable that all seafaring crafts in hazardous regions will train and arm themselves with grenade launchers and heavy artillery which will send a dire message to the pirates of the 21st century; Seizing a ship may be hazardous to your health.

Once aware they are likely to be blown out of the water, the pirates will think twice.

There is another common denominator at the root of most acts of piracy today. It should be clear to anyone who studies this problem. Piracy is not just about money. It’s alluded to in the message from the Tripoli ambassador delivered by Jefferson to the Continental Congress in the 1780’s.

But I dare not demonize.

A Fathers Day Offering

Happy Birthday, Dads.

Father’s Day is officially 100 years old. It was first celebrated in the State of Washington in June of 1908, and then in Fairmont, West Virginia. Mother’s Day was already celebrated one month earlier, also in West Virginia. While President Calvin Coolidge recommended it as a national holiday, it wasn’t until 1972 that President Nixon signed the order.

Having been a father several times since 1960, and now grandfather of their kids, I have always enjoyed the recognition and love they have bestowed on me, even if it only meant a thoughtful card in the mail or a long distance call. It’s that one time of year when we are reminded how important our dads, (and moms) have been to us.

Unfortunately I never had that privilege. I never sent my father a card on fathers day, nor gave him a hug, nor took him to dinner, nor made eye contact. But he lives in my heart because his creative blood runs through my veins, though he died in 1941. I guess that makes Father’s Day even more significant.

I have come to understand the fathers in our country much more in the last two years, since Dr. Jay Barnhart and I have been entertaining at senior centers, assisted and independent living facilities, day care churches and libraries in general. We bill ourselves as the Dick-Doc Duo because Jay is a retired Medical Examiner, and me a former Homicide Detective, now joined at the musical hip. With him as a fantastic pianist, and me a journeyman violinist, we hit the stage with Fiddler on the Roof, South Pacific, Gypsy, Italian, Classical, sing-alongs, and much more. The satisfaction is indescribable. The old farts love us, and we love them. Folks clap, move, dance, sing, like they’ve come alive again, repeating the lyrics to songs from 60 years ago. Sometimes, I play directly into a pair of distant eyes, knowing he or she is in another world somewhere, until the fingers start moving, or the feet start tapping. But it’s not until we start playing hard core Americana that we realize we struck the big chord.

Often, men wear caps depicting the service they gave their country, impaled with pins and signia about their campaigns in Iwo Jima, Corregidor, Korea and South Vietnam. From The Halls Of Montezuma, To The Shores Of Tripoli…. Anchors Aweigh My Boys, Anchors Aweigh… Over Hill Over Dale, We Will Hit The Country Trail…Mine Eyes Have Seen The Glory Of … As we play, we watch their eyes roll, their lips move, and their arms sway, a signal that they are in love with their country.

But nothing is as profound…toward the end of our program…when we start “America The Beautiful.” As the notes flow from our instruments, Ohhhh Beautiful, For Spacious Skies, For Amber Waves Of Grain….one by one, these elderly folks in all four corners of the room, who lived, worked and fought to strengthen our nation throughout the 20th century begin standing, women, men, some struggling from their wheelchairs and their walkers, but they stand nonetheless, some even start marching, singing from their soul and with their hands over their hearts…eyes in a far away place, giving us a feeling for love of country I have rarely experienced before. These are the people who lived through the real depression, bread lines, apple carts, then a war where pots and pans were donated to the government to make weapons, cars were not manufactured, and rations were in effect. And I wonder what’s missing in today’s generation? For Jay and I, it inspires our sense of patriotism.

I try to maintain a dry eye as my bow flows across the stings, and my hand quivers with vibrato. I think about each one of their lives, and their history, the individual tragedies they endured, and the sacrifices they made. And now, relegated to a final living place before the final resting place. I often think about the men — the fathers — who fought in battle, or served their country in some manner, or struggled with jobs and family, and wonder if they have anyone who will be there to give them a hug on Father’s Day, to tell them they are loved and appreciated, especially when their own children cannot, for one reason or another. Some don’t even know the holiday is here.

Folks will say it’s depressing. Far from it, it’s an exhilarating experience. Those of you who have no agenda this upcoming Sunday, for whatever reason, why not find a senior center, or an assisted living facility and visit the folks. Bring your poems, your voice, your instruments, pictures, or your love, and show these wonderful human beings they are not forgotten. It’s worth it, I can assure you.

You won’t be sorry.

Sure, I think about the next 20 years, how that may be me, and you, in that wheelchair, appreciating a little offering of music, laughter and attention.

Why not?

PUBLIC SCHOOLS NEED UNIFORM DRESS CODES

Not long ago, I visited Burwell, a small town in central England where I took a morning walk each day along narrow curved streets with the aroma of fresh baked bread in the air and children — ages 6 to 16 — waiting on corners for their school bus. Those kids caught my attention. Every one carrying books, neat and tidy, hair combed, well behaved and beaming with pride and self-esteem. At least, it seemed that way. What was so different?

Uniforms.

It’s the rule, not the exception throughout many locals in England. Each child goes to school without competing for style and attention by what they wear. There is no societal status — no rich, no poor. The have-nots need not feel inferior because of what they wear. The haves need not feel superior. The kids go to school to learn, not to out-fashion one another. There is no sexy garb, no filth, no piggishness. If they feel good about themselves, they will perform good. Most of all, the schools are safer. Aye, there’s the rub.

Contrast that to the school scene within the United States. Mini-skirts. Body piercing. Flip flops and dirty feet. Low-rise shorts bared to the pubic region. Baseball hats turned left, right and backwards. Oversized shirts draped over the waist bands. Pants dragging the floor, baring underwear, hanging so that the kid must use one hand to hold them from falling. With it, comes attitude, low self-esteem and poor performance.

It’s no wonder that American kids are academically deficient on the world stage. Recent testing of fifteen-year-old kids among 30 industrialized nations show science scores among U.S. kids rank 17th. Math scores, the same kids ranked 23rd. If the kids look like crap, they’ll act like crap, and perform like crap.

The proverbial tail is wagging the dog, and our society — parents, schools and government institutions — have allowed it.

Regardless of how folks may feel about their freedoms of choice being infringed, one reason stands above all others that justifies the implementation of school uniforms: Safety and violence.

When I finished four years of high school in 1957, drugs and weapons were not part of the general landscape. Can’t say that today.

Here’s a few numbers: In the 2002, American schools confiscated 2,554 firearms, with Virginia the highest among states, and Texas second. From July 1st 2004, to June 30th, 2005, forty-eight deaths were reported among elementary and secondary schools. In a five-year study ending in 2002, an average of 90,000 teachers per year were the victims of violent crimes. One out of three teachers surveyed have considered leaving the profession because the risk from violence was so high.

Folks interested in more data, check the site: Click here: http://www.ncdjjdp.pdf

There is no doubt in my mind, that uniforms — or at the least — dress codes requiring specific standards would make our schools a safer place. Check out this 53 second video:

 http://video.aol.com/video-detail/tuck-in-your-shirts/916266032

The issue has been addressed in many school districts throughout America. A few have initiated uniform wear at the objections of kids and parents. Some have capitulated to complaints and reverted back to allowing slobbery. But it’s not catching on.

If I had the magic wand, I’d see all school kids in America wearing uniforms. I know that’s not very likely to happen, but we can demand stricter dress codes, if not for any other reason but to make our teachers and kids safer on campus. Here’s a list for starters:

* No over sized clothing. All trousers, pants or shorts must totally cover undergarments, including boxer shorts. All shirts must be tucked in.
* All shirts and blouses must cover midriff and all undergarments including bra straps at all times. All shirts and tops shall have sleeves and cover the shoulders. No see-through or mesh.
* All clothing, jewelry or tattoos shall be free of profanity, violent images, sexually suggestive phrases or images, gang-related symbols and drug endorsements.
* Hats or other head coverings may be worn during outside P.E. activities and not inside the school.
* No bandanas, sweatbands or sunglasses may be worn inside school buildings

That would be a start. I just want to see teachers free of fear so we can hold on to the best professionals, and kids free of weapons so there will be less violence. It would also be nice if our children felt a little better about themselves. I do believe the two – self esteem and performance – are interrelated.

I’m not holding my breath. Schools have a tendency to capitulate to parents who in turn, capitulate to their kids. And the proverbial tail continues to…you know what.

If anyone is interested what other states are doing about this, check: Click here: Dress Codes

WHY OBAMA MUST NOT BE ELECTED

Like most cops, I spent the majority of my career discerning truth from fiction. After a while, you get pretty good at it. Folks who work in the field of criminal justice deal with liars every day and develop a strong scent for deceit. It’s part of the job.

Such provides, in my opinion, an advantage in deciding who to vote for in a major election. Those of us in career law enforcement and other justice jobs, tend to weigh evidence, and not be guided by impressions and eloquent oratory. What’s most important is the sum of evidence, not one or two items by themselves, but the whole.

We live in a time of hype and idolatry spawned by media sensationalism. It trumps common sense. Evidence meant nothing in the O.J. Simpson trial. The jury was swayed by the aura of celebrity and charisma, not by an amalgamation of facts which pointed toward his guilt. Five months of listening to testimony took a back seat to sound bytes, like, “If the glove don’t fit, you gotta acquit.” Blinded by awe, the jury disregarded solid evidence and voted in favor of the killer.

Mind boggling.

The mayor of Washington D.C. was caught on a surveillance camera in 1990 smoking crack cocaine and sent to prison. The citizens didn’t care. When released, he ran for office again and — unbelievably — the people re-elected him. Talk about chutzpah. Marion Barry, a criminal, was a confirmed addict and tested positive for cocaine. Yet, voters turned a blind eye to evidence and elected this charismatic man to be in charge of Washington’s governmental service, including law enforcement.

All politicians either exaggerate, skew facts or downright lie, so there’s no sense in arguing who’s the most prolific liar. What’s more important, is the consequence of their lies. When Americans are lied to, how will that affect our standards of living, the economy, the saving of lives around the world and the future for our grandchildren?

Bill Clinton lied about receiving sex from an office employee. Consequence? The citizenry was not affected very much, other than the squandering of taxpayer’s money trying to prosecute the president.

The Gulf of Tonkin was a lie, and as a result, 58,000 Americans were killed in Viet Nam over eleven years. That’s consequence!

There’s many more, of course.

What would be the consequences of electing Obama versus Clinton versus McCain…given that they will all stretch the truth to one extent or another?

I fear the blind eye syndrome is happening in today’s presidential campaign.

To my mind, there are five essential issues:

* That we elect a president who will always put the best interests of the country ahead of any other interests.

* That we elect a president who will care about all Americans, and not impose favoritism to one group over another, whether along religious, racial, economic or ethnic lines.

* That we elect a president who has displayed a sense of patriotism and love of country.

* That we elect a president who will ensure the security of our nation, including the maintenance of a ready defense.

* That we elect a president who has established a history of accomplishments from which to weigh these factors.

In the opinion of this former career cop, electing Barack Obama would be an utter catastrophe from which the future of this great nation will suffer greatly. He certainly fits none of the above. Yet, people, en masse, are responding in support of this political rock star while ignoring all the evidence. No, he’s not a killer, but it all reminds me of the O.J. case as well-meaning people totally disregard facts and evidence and allow themselves to be sucked into celebrity euphoria.

In a nutshell:

* Obama is obsessed with race. Here we are in a society that works toward being color blind, and we continue to be reminded of this man’s race. One only has to read both his books and get beyond the rhetoric to see that they are both written by a angry man overwhelmed with racial issues. The books are totally infused with matters of color, and far from the issues of what is right for the nation’s future. I cannot imagine a Colin Powell or a Condi Rice hammering the racial issue as their primary identity.

* When Obama gave his now-famous speech in defense of his association with Reverend Wright, he pulled off the ultimate coup, diverting the issue to another subject. In truth, he was being questioned about his relationship for twenty years with a church that espouses racism, anti-Semitism, anti-Americanism and Louis Farrakhan. Instead, America sat agog as he gave a speech about the history of racial divide and his own colorful background. And we fell for it.

* Anyone who researches that church — which Obama has had his family attend for twenty years — cannot ignore the evidence that its leader is an angry, anti-American, Jew-hating bigot that has embraced the Nation of Islam’s leader, for twenty years as well. No one, especially someone as prominent as Obama, would be a part of that environment, unless they feel a part of it. Certainly, Obama will distance himself in 2007 and 2008, because he wants to be president. But there is no denying the anti-American association since 1988.

* Obama’s camp has employed members of the Nation of Islam in his campaign rooms, including his campaign treasurer. Those who belongs to the Nation of Islam are devout followers of the race-baiting, Jew-hating, anti-American, Louis Farrakhan.

* Until recently, some of Obama’s campaign offices have proudly displayed pictures of Che Gueverra, communist rebel who, under Fidel Castro, is responsible for his own number of terrorist killing.Click here: BARACK.htm

* Obama’s attachment to his African kin is more than worrisome, and tells us more about this presidential candidate that some people wish wasn’t true. Obama’s Luo cousin, Raila Odinga, received Obama’s support when he traveled to Africa in 2006. That support has helped Odinga in his quest to seize power. And in doing so, Odinga has pledged — in writing — that within six months of assuming power, he will impose strict Sharia law in Kenya and turn it into an Islamic nation. What does that say about the priorities of our near-future president? Click here: pdf

* Michele Obama – the future first lady – said much in very few words. “For the first time, I’m proud to be an American.” First time? This is the woman with whom the possible president sleeps and shares the most private thoughts and feelings. Are we to believe this is another one of those comments/thoughts where he wasn’t around at the time? Thus, we are about to embrace a first lady for the U.S. that was never proud of being an American until her husband ran for president. Doesn’t that make us feel warm and fuzzy?

* Then there is the allegiance Obama may have toward the Muslim community in a time when Jihadists are overrunning Europe and threatening to replace the U.S. Constitution with the Koran before the end of this century. There is no evidence that Obama is a Muslim, but there is evidence — considering his family background and other associations — that he would be soft on Islamic issues, and capitulate to their demands as they intensify. (And they will) Meanwhile, the number of Wahhabi mosques in the U.S. are doubling every five years. It’s also a stinging red flag that Obama is the choice candidate of American Muslims. Click here: Muslims for Barack Obama ’08

* Obama would weaken the defense status of the Unites States, as indicated by his own words during a recent video, by cutting back on missiles, weapons and the nuclear arsenal. I’m sure the international enemies of America will jump for joy when and if Obama is elected, including al Qaeda.

Click here: YouTube –

While I could extend the length of this article, I must keep it within a reasonable word count.

Suffice to say that the evidence — in sum — is pretty strong that:

* Obama has no history of accomplishments from which to measure his competence and sincerity of purpose.

* Obama’s sense of patriotism toward the U.S. is suspect, at the least.

* Obama would put the interests of radicals, discontents, racists and anti-Americans ahead of the best interests for all Americans.

* The issue of race — here and abroad – will weigh heavily on any decision he makes as president. Just read his books. Listen to his speeches. Attend his church.

* Obama would weaken the defenses of our country.

Eloquent words mean nothing. Candidates will say whatever is politically correct and advantageous to get elected. Some say it better than others. What is most important is to follow the evidence.

Will America turn a blind eye? Let’s hope not.