I sought for the greatness and genius of America in her commodious harbors and her ample rivers, and it was not there; in her fertile fields and boundless prairies, and it was not there; in her rich mines and her vast world commerce, and it was not there. Not until I went to the churches of America and heard her pulpits aflame with righteousness did I understand the secret of her genius and power. America is great because she is good, and if America ever ceases to be good, America will cease to be great.”

- de Tocqueville 1831

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Of Teachers and Ayn Rand

I have a favorite radio talk show host,  his name is Mike Rosen.  His show is on locally  from 9 am to Noon.  Fortunately he is also on the web and archives his shows.  http://www.850koa.com/pages/mikerosen.html

Since I have finally figured out how to embed videos,  I thought that I would embed some of the relevant things in his archives.

First up is a doctor standing on a corner in Wisconsin,  signing sick notes for protesters.  Unethical maybe?

 Next up,  A little reality check for those "teachers" protesting in Wisconsin

Third : A better trailer for Atlas Shrugged

 and finally a movie clip from Atlas Shrugged

At first blush you might not think that the movie clips and the Wisconsin protesters have anything in common unless you are versed in Ayn Rands work.  Than you know that what she considered the enemies of freedom are connected in most fiendish ways.  Of course being a Mormon Ayn and I separate company on religious views but knowing something about her background, I understand why she was an atheist.  Still, her writings have as much relevance today as they did in her time,  maybe more.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Not So Simple

Of the myriad reasons why I would not want the job of President of the USA, among the top would be foreign policy.  There are very few times a president can point to a solid political win in the foreign policy arena.  President Reagan brought down the Soviet Union but Gorbachev was given the credit, even though the last thing Gorbachev would want to do is destroy his own government. 

The situation in Iraq seems to be stabilizing.  We know this because the major media outlets ignore it.  Afghanistan is still a mess, but let's not forget that we went in there because there was a real threat to us from the major controlling party (the Taliban).  Were mistakes made in these examples?  You bet.  There are always mistakes made in such major undertakings, which makes my point that whatever is done, there will always be room for criticism.

Most of the time,  unlike the examples above,  there is not a clear win or loss when dealing with other countries.  This is most certain when dealing with countries in the Middle East.  There is only one stable Democratic nation in the region,  Israel.  Any other nation we have dealings with in the Middle East, with the current exception of Iraq and maybe Turkey (although that is not too clear) will be monarchies or theocracies and all to often the ruler will be a despot.

The current uprisings in Egypt look all to familiar to us old enough to remember the "youth movement" that toppled the Shaw of Iran.  The similarities are very frightening and the criticisms directed at our involvement in both instances could be carbon copied.  The value of hindsight is infinite and it is easy to be critical when one excludes the value of what might have been gained from such foreign entanglements.  There are plenty of examples where our nation's foreign policy efforts have gone awry and we have been left with a less than desirable outcome.  Nonetheless,  doing nothing and becoming isolationist has it's pit falls, as well.  

In the case of Egypt, let us look back at how and why we became involved.  In 1979, Egypt's ruler Anwar Sadat signed a peace treaty with Israel.  To help foster this peace between our ally, Israel, and Egypt we entered into normal relations with Egypt, including giving of aid.  In the years since, we have continued to give aid and we have helped to train their military.  Their military is now among the most respected in the world.  In 1981 Anwar Sadat was assassinated and Hosni Mubarek became president.  The troubles in Egypt today are as a result of a suspected rigged reelection of Mubarek as president.

In the tradition of Middle East monarchs and despot presidents, Sadat and Mubarek have been brutal to their people.  Dealing with them and others of the same ilk has not always been very palatable but has netted us a stable peace for Israel for the last thirty years.  This peace has allowed Israel to become a major power and stabilizing influence in a region that is not known for its stability.  Since the Egyptian military has been trained here in the U.S., we  have been able to impress upon them a way of life that they may not have known existed.  It is this influence that, hopefully, will lead to a peaceful outcome in their current struggles.

While an advocate of freedom, we cannot be blind to the fact that the demonstrations in Egypt have been organized by groups that are not friendly to Israel or the U.S. and will ultimately enslave the people of Egypt in the way that Hamas has in Palestine.  It would be tragic if the Democracy that the Egyptians are seeking turns out to be only one election, as it has occurred in both Palestine and Iran  (Iran does hold elections, the way the Soviet Union used to hold elections, that give you only one choice and plenty of pressure to vote the right way).  There is not much we can do to prevent this and I fear for the Coptic Christians that make up ten percent of the Egyptian population if the Muslim Brotherhood manages to gain power.

My hope for the Egyptians is that they will establish a just government and their military is the best chance for that hope.  If not, Israel will once more have to contend with another hostile Islamic state on their border and the peace that we have helped to foster for thirty years will come to an end. 

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Promise Kept............Finally

As you might note,  The following is a Christmas story.  A little late,  you might ask?   Yes,  I promised my wife that if she posted this story I would post it as well.  Okay,  I forgot.......So here it is,  enjoy.

The Christmas Cardinal

For quite a while now, Jay's been encouraging me to post my Christmas story that I wrote to go with a gift I gave. Though I love to write and am working on a teen novel, being unpublished to date makes me fickle about my talent. However, he gives me some great support. So, I'm following his advise (I'm sure he'll pass out when he reads that).

The Christmas Cardinal

My grandmother was always an avid bird watcher. The yard of her house and her entire porch was filled with bird feeders to attract them. She loved to tell about the beautiful cardinals that had been her favorite since she was a child in Illinois. However, after she and my grandfather married, he moved them to Wyoming and she hadn’t seen a cardinal in all the years she’d lived here. Still, she told my brothers and I about the male’s scarlet feathers and black masked faces. She explained their spectacular red color symbolized hope and was a reminder for us to focus on our faith, their plumage a representation of the blood of Christ shed for the redemption of mankind.

As a writer, she often told us stories she had created herself as if they were fact, so to this day I cannot say if this particular story was truth, legend or her own tale.

A young man chose to leave his home and set out to see the world. He traveled far and wide, learning about new cultures and environments, learning a number of languages and skills from different parts of the world. Wherever he went, he tried to find some common reminder of his homeland. After many years, he grew homesick and decided he would return to see his family. In those days, there were no cars or trains, no public transportation. One had to get from place to place on foot or, if he were lucky, a horse. But as he had amassed no great fortune, it was his fate to travel on foot. As he arrived within miles of his home, a great blizzard blew up and he could scarcely see his hand in front of his face. He thought he would never find the little cabin in the woods where he knew a warm fire and loved ones would be. He trudged on, growing more and more fatigued and hopeless with each passing moment. He thought he might try to build a shelter, but the force of the storm was so great, he was certain he would freeze to death should he stop for even a moment. As he felt the last bit of his strength wane, he caught a glimpse of red in the corner of his eye and looked to see a majestic cardinal flitting in the tree just before him.

“Lead me home, little bird,” he cried out and thought for certain the cardinal looked directly at him as it began to move forward, from branch to branch. “What have I got to lose?” he thought to himself and began to follow the bird. This went on for some time, his burden of exhaustion lifted by the familiar sight of a beloved creature from his homeland. But in time, his body simply began to give in to fatigue. Just as he once again began to give up all hope, the smell of a wood burning fire reached his nostrils. He tried in vain to see ahead, but the heavy snowfall was too thick. The bird continued forward and so did he, knowing now that if he were not close to his own home, he was surely close to someone’s and there he would find shelter. Soon, he was close enough to see a rough outline of a building, though too obscured by the snow to determine anything familiar about it. As he was about to step up on the small porch, the bird rested in a branch of a tree beside it and the door to the cabin swung open. Out stepped an old man and woman and he immediately recognized his own mother and father. The man fell into their arms and the family celebrated a long awaited reunion and a tearful Christmas Eve that night.

Last year, near this special holiday season, Grandmother passed away and although we still lived in a place where none of us had ever seen a cardinal, he came to her that very night and, my brother’s and I believe, led her home to her Heavenly Father.

The End

The ironic part of this story is that my sister-in-law mentioned that my own mother, as she lay in the hospital about to go to surgery, thought she saw a cardinal at her window (that no one else had seen). She was born and raised in Indiana where, indeed, there are cardinals and she is a bird lover. Now that she will be bedridden and both my parents journey toward the end of their lives, I guess a part of me hopes that when the time comes, her own cardinal will lead her home.

Posted by Kerri at 9:56 PM