Thursday, May 29, 2008

Why We Can't Be Isolationist Right Now

Americans are pretty contradictory people when you get down to it. We complain about high gas prices while fueling up SUVs that get 15 gallons to the mile. We'll pay $5 for a cup of coffee, but complain about a $0.25 increase in ATM charges.

The same holds true of another idea that seems to be catching on in some segments of our society, isolationism. There are people who think we should pull up stakes from our foreign interests for a few years and focus on domestic issues. I can see their point to an extent, but it's shortsighted on a large scale.

We cannot be completely isolationist because we are no longer self-sufficient. Our manufacturing base is pretty much gone, and our service industry is going overseas by and large. We have to import oil because we're not drilling where we can and our alternate fuel research isn't developed yet. Much of what we buy is imported from overseas because we lack the ability to replicate their efforts, especially in the area of electronics. In short, we need other countries right now because we can't make it on our own as well as we used to. Not exactly a recipe for success for an isolationist country.

Conversely, the world needs us to be engaged on a global scale. In the big picture, America is the leader of the world on so many fronts. Medical research, economics, military research, media. The list goes on and on. If we were to cut all foreign ties and pull out, the world would cheer...until it realized how much it needs us to be involved. The UN? Sorry, but we'll be pulling out for a few years. The World Bank? No more money coming from America. Foreign governments relying on America's military might to keep order? See ya on the flip side! As much as some countries and some Leftists here would hate to admit it, America is a stabilizing force in the world. And that's what frightens them the most. The world needs us, and isolationism will create nothing but chaos.

Plus, I don't buy the premise that we have to bring everybody home to focus on domestic issues. When you think about the sheer economic power at our fingertips, it's entirely possible to be engaged globally and still act locally. What has to be done is to hold our elected officials accountable to spend the money we send them in taxes on those expenditures that will improve things at home. And while we're here, we could also take up the responsibility to keep our own backyards kept up, both literally and figuratively. Then, we could find a balance between being engaged globally and being self-sufficient enough to stand on our own when necessary.

So, I don't think being isolationist is a reality right now. It's a nice thought, but so is me being massaged by Jessica Alba, and that isn't going to happen anytime soon.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Scott, Meet David

The big news today was the release of former White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan's book What Happened, a scathing indictment of the Bush Administration and the lead-in to the war in Iraq. (And with a name like What Happened: Inside the Bush White House and What's Wrong With Washington, you know it's fair, right?) Naturally, the Leftists are clapping with joy, proclaiming McClellan as a patriot and an honest man. Considering these same Lefties considered McClellan to be the spawn of Satan when he was working for the Bush Administration, it's quite a shift.

I'm reminded of another hated-then-beloved figure of the Left who renounced conservative thinking. His name is David Brock, author of The Seduction of Hillary Clinton and Blinded By the Right. The former book, along with his book questioning Anita Hill's credibility, made Brock a target for Leftist hatred. The latter book, where he admits to lying and then proceeds to tell everyone why they should believe him now, made him a Leftist media superstar. The fact Brock is an admitted liar doesn't trouble the Left, but it should trouble thinking people (i.e. non-Leftists).

With Scott McClellan, I feel we're seeing the next David Brock. He's already been caught in some questionable statements and the book hasn't been out for that long. But, true to their Leftist cores, the Left doesn't see anything wrong with that because he's bashing Bush. On a much larger scale, however, it's these little questions that will chip away at the possibility of McClellan's book being that big a deal for a long period of time. It will certainly get a lot of heat in the short term, but eventually the "wow" factor will wear off and only the diehards will keep buying it. What that means, dear reader, is that by this time next year, don't be surprised to find McClellan's book taking up space in a bargain bin somewhere alongside Valerie Plame and Joe Wilson's books.

That's the thing I've found with Leftists trying to imitate conservative successes: they don't really succeed for very long. Remember how Air America was going to be as big as conservative talk radio? Remember when the Huffington Post was going to become the next Drudge Report? Remember all of the "smoking guns" that would prove to the world that George W. Bush lied to get us into Iraq? To date, not one of these great Leftist ideas has seen mainstream success. Why? People just don't like whiners. And when it comes to whining, Leftists are guaranteed winners.

And when you look at McClellan's book, I have no doubt it will be a Leftist "winner."

Monday, May 26, 2008

Your Crow Is Ready, Senator...

As some of you know, I am originally from a small town in northeast Iowa called Janesville. Not too far away from my hometown is the hometown of my dad, his two brothers, and my late grandparents, Parkersburg. Recently, though, Parkersburg got national attention, but for the wrong reason.

Due to severe weather and tornadoes, Parkersburg has been leveled.

One of my uncles still lives in Parkersburg, and his house is no more, save for the kitchen floor and the basement. Fortunately, he's okay and has found people who will take him in while he and his neighbors start to sift through the wreckage.

But this post isn't about that. When my uncle needed help, his neighbors and members of my family were there. And I guarantee the same could be said for most of the people in Parkersburg, if not all of them. Why?

Because small town America is like that.

Not so long ago, a certain Senator from Illinois with Presidential aspirations said the following:

You go into these small towns in Pennsylvania and, like a lot of small towns in the Midwest, the jobs have been gone now for 25 years and nothing's replaced them. And they fell through the Clinton administration, and the Bush administration, and each successive administration has said that somehow these communities are gonna regenerate and they have not.

And it's not surprising then they get bitter, they cling to guns or religion or antipathy toward people who aren't like them or anti-immigrant sentiment or anti-trade sentiment as a way to explain their frustrations.

Come to Parkersburg, Iowa, and say that, Senator. And be prepared to eat some crow.

The Times, They Aren't A-Changin'

To say the New York Times is enduring tough times financially is like saying I've occasionally poked fun at Democrats, Leftists, and "Gigli." Readership is down, which means revenue is down. There are a number of possibilities that could explain the Gray Lady's decline: the rise of the Internet, people not having time to read, being able to get the same thing locally that they get from the Times. But let me suggest another reason.

The New York Times no longer represents what people in the mainstream think.

Take for example a recent editorial titled "Mr. Bush and the G. I. Bill" where the writer/user of the editorial staff's collective brain cell suggested that President Bush's opposition to a recent revamp of the G. I. Bill program was a slap in the face of the soldiers he sent to war. Since I like you all, I took the time to read the piece and found it full of lies, not just about Bush but also against John McCain, without so much as a consideration of the President's position. But it should be pointed out that the writer was completely in favor of giving the troops more money to plan their futures.

Oh, did I happen to mention that this screed was published today, May 26, on Memorial Day?

Questioning the President over a bill is okay, but to call into question his commitment to the troops on Memorial Day? That's beyond classless. Just because you can say something doesn't mean you should, but apparently that doesn't matter to the Leftists at the Times.

Yet, this incident underscores the very point of this entry. The Times felt lashing out at President Bush was more important than remembering the sacrifices of those who died so they could publish this tripe. Oh, but you can't call into question whether the Leftists love the troops or whether they're patriots! Well, after this piece, I'm perfectly willing to play by the Leftists' own rules with the President.

To the Leftists at the New York Times and the people who agree with their assessment of President Bush's commitment to the troops, quit lying to us about how you really feel. You want us to fail miserably because you have a seriously misguided notion that America is the source of all evil. You preach to us about the need for free speech when people object to questionable material on TV, radio, movies, and video games, but without the actions of our fighting men and women, your arguments for free speech would fall on deaf ears.

And don't say you support the troops, but not the mission. That's bullplop. You hate the troops and the mission, and all because of the man who got us off our duffs to fight the war in the first place. If you support the troops as much as you claim, tell Code Pink, John Murtha, and the New York Times to shut their collective (and collectivist) pieholes until the war is over and the troops are home. Then, feel free to blast Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, et al, until you're blue in the face. But until then, stick your "Bush lied, people died" crap where the sun don't shine.

Just make sure you watch out that you don't hit your head in the process.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Leadership, Personal Drama, and Anti-Bacterial Soap

I mentioned in an email to my "fan club" about some personal drama that happened in my life recently. I'm not at liberty to go into too many details, but it did give me a perspective on American leadership right now.

It's a given that not everything we plan is going to work out for the best. Sometimes we screw up or something else happens that prevents the desired outcome from becoming a reality. When it happens to a leader, how he or she reacts will tell you quite a bit about the type of person he or she is.

Which brings me to my personal drama. I ran for an office within my Toastmasters District. However, my name was not put on an official ballot, which meant I had to run from the floor of our recent District Conference. Now, I could have easily thrown in the towel or raised a stink about not being allowed to have my name on the ballot, but I didn't. Instead, I accepted the circumstances as they were and moved on. As it turns out, I won the election, but I wouldn't have if I had quit or spent my time being angry at a situation I couldn't change.

Unfortunately, that's not how many people deal with a bump in the road. Take the situation with Hillary Clinton wanting to seat the delegates from Michigan and Florida. The rules set forth by Howard Dean were clear and it's clear the party leaders in Michigan and Florida broke those rules. Instead of dealing with the situation as it was, Clinton and her campaign have been trying to get the delegates to count towards her numbers as a means to make her look more like a viable candidate for the Democratic Party nomination.

That's a problem we're seeing more and more. When things don't go our way, we're too busy complaining, filing a lawsuit, or trying to get the rules changed just for us to recognize what we're ultimately doing. When we take the childish way out of a situation, we're hurting ourselves under the guise of righting a wrong. It's like anti-bacterial soap. At first glance, it's good for us because it kills all the bad bacteria that gets on our hands and bodies. But it also kills the good bacteria, which makes our immune system weaker, thus making us more vulnerable to illness, something the anti-bacterial soap is supposed to prevent.

It's easy to complain about a bad break. It's harder to suck it up and put it behind you. But, as hard as it might be, it's not impossible, nor is it undesirable.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

An Open Letter to the US Senate

To the United States Senate,

Today I saw the most shameful display of greed, dishonesty, and hypocrisy I've ever seen in nearly 40 years of life when you were grilling executives from oil companies. After seeing the footage, I'm left with one question.

How dare you accuse oil companies of gouging customers?

I know, it's just politics, and I'm sure you think you're "sticking up for the little guy" with your grandstanding (and in Senator Durbin's case, blubbering like a little girl with a scraped knee), but in truth you have the power to drop gas prices tomorrow with a single bill that I guarantee President Bush will sign. And it won't be a meager two or three cents, either. It will be a major drop in prices.

Cut all gasoline taxes, state and federal, effective immediately until oil prices come back down.

Now, before you start saying that roads and bridges will fail if we don't have those taxes in place, let me remind you that there's a bridge in Minnesota that fell while we had gas taxes in place. You know why the bridge fell? Gravity, but also neglect caused by...misappropriation of funds. Yes, dear Senators, the money from the gas taxes that you say we can't do without isn't getting to roads or bridges.

Besides, I'm sure you could find money in the existing budget that isn't being used for anything. Just put it towards improving bridges and roads. Oh, and by the way, Social Security funds are off limits. Let's just say whatever doesn't get spent on roads and bridges goes back into Social Security to repay the IOUs you took out.

Let me also point out that you don't need to "pay for" this gas tax holiday. If you truly gave one-tenth of one crap about working people, you would have passed the gas tax holiday by now. But you haven't. You've been too busy laying it on thick and blaming Big Oil for daring to make a profit in their chosen profession. But here's the twist. Seems the evil Big Oil makes less than a dime in profit off every gallon of gas purchased. But there's something that makes over fifty cents off every gallon of gas purchased, and it's all profit. What would you call such a heartless group making money hand over fist as people struggle to make ends meet? What would you say to them?

Here's a clue. You can look in the mirror or look over at the Senator you're sitting next to because it's you.

Now, go do something about gas prices besides complaining. Oh, and see what you can do to keep Dick Durbin away from a microphone.

Sincerely,

Thomas Lindaman

Sunday, May 11, 2008

A Mother of a Blog Post

It's Mothers Day, so I figured I'd take a few moments to write about motherhood. Granted, I've never been a mother (although I've been called something that starts with "mother" a few times), but I have watched motherhood change from when I was a child to now.

Sometime within the past decade or two, motherhood has been transformed in some quasi-positive ways. I say "quasi-positive" because a lot will depend on who you ask. Take the emergence of MILFs (Mothers I'd Like to...well, you know) and GILFs (Grandmothers I'd Like to...well, you know). On the one hand, it's nice that women are taking better care of themselves over their lifetimes, but it's still a little disturbing to me when these MILFs and GILFs take pride at being able to attract younger men. Taken a step further, there are women like this who pose nude online...or so I've heard. That takes it from the realm of "Okay, I can live with it" to "She put that WHERE?"

Then, there are the single moms. I'm not going to attack single moms because I have seen instances where women have had to get out of bad relationships and have made it on their own. One of my best friends ever, Pat, was such a woman, and she raised two wonderful daughters. There are many more out there that I'm overlooking, but the point is it can be done. But it's damn hard to do it. To the single mothers out there, thank you for doing your best.

Now, let's move into politics briefly. Of all the candidates running for President right now, only Hillary Clinton has the distinction of being the only mother in the race. (Comes with being the only woman in the race, from what my sources tell me.) She's mentioned mothers, grandmothers, and daughters in stump speeches and has brought out her daughter Chelsea to campaign on her behalf. As with most things the Clintons do, this is not without purpose. There is no stronger force in the universe than the connection between a mother and child, and Hillary knows this. Therefore, she's tried to create the same kind of connection between her and potential voters. As we're seeing now, however, it didn't quite work. Maybe Hillary the Mother just wasn't a good image for her.

In closing, I wish all the mothers reading this a Happy Mothers Day. Without your half of the chromosomes, we wouldn't be here.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Obama's Race Issue

Much has been made about Barack Obama and his race in his run for the Presidency. Whether it's Jeremiah Wright's sermons or how white Democrats have tried to awkwardly attack his positions without seeming racist or give him compliments in an attempt to win, race has certainly been a factor in his wins.

But there's a group that Obama may never be able to get on his side, no matter how articulate, persuasive, and chopeful he is. That's because they're predispositioned not to like him because he's at least part African-American. Are they "rednecks"? Nope. Are they gun owners? Not really.

They're rich white Northeastern Leftists.

The mindset of the RWNEL (abbreviated to save time) is one that if you deviate from what they believe to be right and proper, you're immediately relegated to a position somewhere in the neighborhood of pond scum. And that's only if they're being generous. They know what they like, and they like everything to be as lily white as they are. And last time I checked, Obama had a bit of chocolate mixed in with his vanilla. What that means is that Obama already has a major strike against one of the consistent voting blocs within Democratic ranks.

That's not to say it's impossible for him to get RWNEL votes, mind you. There is more than a little white liberal guilt running around out there, even in RWNEL circles. After all, how else would they prove to each other at the country club that they aren't racist? (Irony, thy name is Leftism.)

But will it be enough to propel Obama to the White House? Probably not. Even though Obama has the elitist part down, he's just not white enough for the RWNEL vote to swing to him in large numbers. And if you're still not convinced, consider that Democrats are still considering nominating rich white Leftist elitist Al Gore from the floor of the Democratic National Convention.

Then again, they wouldn't be RWNELs if they didn't think RWNELs were the only capable ones in existence.

Saturday, May 3, 2008

They Distort, We Imbibe

These days Leftists are in a terminal state of being torqued off all the time. Lately, though, the Left's version of the blogosphere has been up in arms about Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton appearing on the Fox News Channel. Some Clinton critics say that her appearance on "The O'Reilly Factor" proved she was in cahoots with the GOP and that Fox News was nothing more than a Republican spin machine. Critics of Obama have boycotted Fox News to show that they don't feel it's a legitimate news network...and that it's a Republican spin machine.

I'm not going to be so harsh on Clinton or Obama for appearing on the "evil" Fox News Channel for one reason: it's smart politically. With the Democratic nomination process winding down, the eventual candidate will have to reach out to the people who haven't been paying attention to the Democratic race. And considering that Fox News is still a ratings giant among cable news channels, it's a good place for each one of them to make their pitch to the American public.

Also, a good number of people from the left watch Fox News because at least they try to look and sound balanced. Even some of the comments I've seen from self-professed liberals have shocked me because they've openly admitted Fox News is more fair and balanced than the other cable news networks. That goes completely against what the Leftists have said about Fox News Channel, and it speaks volumes as to how willing some of them are willing to believe their own internal noise machine without checking it out for themselves. For as much as the Left bashes Fox News for being biased, it comes off as more than a little hypocritical for them to showcase their bias in protest of what they feel (and I do mean "feel" instead of "know") is unfair treatment to their ideas.

Ah, but there's a snag that catches both Obama and Clinton, and they can thank John Edwards for it. Back in the early days of the campaign (like, say, a year or so ago), Democrats raised a stink about Fox News Channel wanting to host a Democratic debate. None of the major candidates said or did anything to officially refuse the offer. Then came John Edwards. Edwards was the first Democratic candidate of this election cycle to bash Fox News for not being balanced (to him), saying that if Fox News were to be allowed to host a debate, he wouldn't attend. Before you knew it, Obama and Clinton jumped on the "Say No to Fox News" bandwagon.

And now, Obama and Clinton have appeared on Fox News programs. I'm sure if they thought about it, they'd know they just admitted they were wrong back then.

Ouch! That one's gonna leave a mark!

A New Post by Stella Rondo

Because one of you demanded it, here's more Stella Rondo goodness! :-)

Do people really want change?

It certainly seems to be a theme of this year's presidential election. Obama has based his whole campaign on that very idea. Hillary and McCain have cheerfully picked up the standard. Change, change, change! Hope for change! Change for hope! I hope I get change! Great slogans all. And it's all crap. Here's why.

The dirty little secret about change is this: What most people want is for the other guy to change, so that their lives will improve without them having to expend any effort. If people really wanted change, nothing is stopping them from changing right now. I'd wager most people want some kind of change in their life. Most will say they wish they were thinner, richer, more popular, nicer, more loving, had a better job, etc., etc. And how you get that way, generally, is stop eating so much, stop spending so much money, stop putting people off with your personality, go back to school, look for a new job, etc. You can do that right now, today, and yet people don't for a hundred thousand different excuses and reasons. So it seems that people seem to love the idea of change rather than the reality of change and the hard, often sacrificial work that accompanies it.

You know this is true, if you listen carefully to Barrack. While he does make a couple of passing references to what "we're" going to have to sacrifice, it's basically the other guy he intends to make change. The oil companies. The government. The terrorists. The lobbyists. The courts. Somehow, simply by his saying so, all these people are somehow magically going to change so that your life will be better. And you didn't have to lift a finger. (And don't think that threatening people with lawsuits will necessarily work - I'll write a blog on the phenomena of "passive resistance" at some point in the future.)

Given the degree to which people resist change, when they say they want change, what they really want is novelty. And there's a difference. As much as we'd like to think otherwise, we're really creatures of habit. We need for things to remain basically the same, day after day, so we can navigate our way around the world. Imagine the chaos in life if something as simple as a red octagonal red sign meant "stop" one day, and "go" on others? Many of you may have experienced "backwards" days in summer camp or school as a kid, and behaving as if things were different or the opposite was fun for a day - but how many of you reverted back to the 'old' way of doing things even before the day was done?

We DO occasionally like 'things' to be different. We like something different for dinner, a new set of clothes, rearranging the furniture, a vacation. And we generally always, after the novelty is over, go back to our old way of doing things, and in fact often look FORWARD to doing so.

So any politician who promises to "change things" is going over time, going to deliver nothing but disappointment. Because until you change what YOU do, change is just a bit of lipstick on an otherwise familiar pig.