States Visited

Sunday, November 16, 2008

It was my Privilege...

A couple of months ago my mom asked if I would go down to Washington, D.C., on November 15th and take some pictures. The father of a friend was being flown up from South Carolina as part of a group being recognized for their service in World War II. (Since I am not certain how he would feel about being the subject of my blogging I'm just going to call him John. Right away he insisted that I drop the "Mr." and just call him by his name.) Always looking for an excuse to go down to D.C. and wander among the memorials I told her I would be happy to do it.

When I woke up yesterday it was cool and rainy with the forecast calling for more of the same. Ah, crapper. I suddenly wasn't very excited about spending a couple of hours walking around in the rain...but I had promised.

The night before I had gotten all of the contact information and the itinerary for the day and let everyone involved know what I would be wearing so we could find each other in the crowd - a bright, Crimson #14 Alabama football jersey. John and I had a brief introduction a few years ago but it was in a social setting with a large crowd and I wasn't sure I would remember him. I figured the jersey would make me stand out in the crowd.

Their flight was to leave Columbia, SC, around 8:30am and arrive in D.C. around 10:00. From there they would travel by bus to the World War II memorial for a ceremony and lunch, then hit a couple more sites before going back to the airport for the trip home. I decided to take the train into the city so I could avoid the traffic and parking. I got off the train around 10:30 and began the walk to the memorial.

As I approached the memorial I saw three buses with full police escort pull into the parking area so I picked up the pace. On a cool, misty morning there weren't many tourists at the memorial but there was a small crowd gathered around the buses. I stood over to the side and watched and waited. Soon enough, a tall, lanky fellow made eye contact and made his way over to me. After a quick re-introduction we got started on two of the most memorable hours of my life.

We were just about to make our way to the memorial when I saw someone I recognized - former Senator and Presidential candidate and World War II veteran Bob Dole. He and his wife, Senator Elizabeth Dole, had come out to welcome the veterans to the memorial. After a few comments for the media he spent the rest of the morning taking pictures and sharing stories with the men and women that made the trip. John went over and snapped a few pictures and then we made our way towards the memorial. As we approached the memorial a middle-aged man wearing a Memorial Staff shirt approached us, extended his hand to John and said, "Thank you for your service, sir. Welcome to your memorial." It was the first of many lump-in-the-throat moments.

We began to chat as we made our way down into the memorial. I asked John if he had a good flight and he said, "Man, you wouldn't believe it. They've treated us like royalty. There was a big group at the airport to see us off this morning. There was a band and people shaking our hands and hugging our necks. I couldn't believe it. And then, when we got to Washington, there was a BIG crowd and another band. My goodness."

I did a little digging when I woke up this morning and found some of the pictures taken by various media outlets. I do not know the gentleman in this picture but this was the scene that greeted the veterans as they got off the plane in D.C. Family, friends, random people in the airport, representatives from the various branches of the Armed Forces and a marching band were there to cheer them on. I later heard one fellow say, "I haven't gotten a hug from a girl with the USO in more than SIXTY years!" You can go here for a slideshow of the day -

During our first walk around the memorial I asked John about his time in the service. He was in the Navy and spent his time as a gunner on civilian ships helping protect them as they carried goods around the world. He told me about days spent roasting in the tropical heat of the Pacific and other days spent fighting hypothermia in the frigid north Atlantic; about making the trip through the Panama Canal and about getting to take a swim when they could find the time. I asked if he was drafted or if he enlisted. He laughed and told me, "The only thing I ever volunteered to do was KP one time for a weekend pass to go see my sister! I was 'Selectively volunteered' into the Navy!" I asked if he had ever been on a ship before he was drafted and he replied, "Oh, noooo."

We continued to walk and chat and, as we did, the weather began to clear - the clouds drifted apart and a warm sun came through - unseasonably warm for November. We made our way over to the South Carolina column for a group picture and a flag ceremony. I was trying to find a good spot from which to take some pictures when I realized that the group of men, assembled togther and all wearing there "Veteran" caps, had caught the attention of everyone at the memorial.

In just a few moments it seemed like everyone at the memorial wanted to come over and take a picture, shake a hand, or give a hug. It was one of the most spontaneous, emotional things I've ever seen.

After the ceremony I was teasing John about having so many people taking pictures of him all at once and looking like a movie star when a girl I would guess to be in her mid-twenties approached. She asked John what branch of the Service he was in during the war. He told her he had been in the Navy. She asked if she could give him a hug and he said sure. She reached up and held him for just a minute and said, with tears rolling down her face, "This is just the greatest thing. I just happened to be here today. Thank you so much for what you did for us. You guys are all heroes. Thank you so very much." I was speechless. John was speechless. Wow! This was going on all around me. I saw a young Marine Lieutenant lending his arm to a man wearing a Marine pin. Semper Fidelis - Always faithful. I later learned that the gentleman was one of the very first black men to serve in the Marine Corp. A family of four that looked to be out for a day of sightseeing had stopped to watch the ceremony. The children, without even really knowing why, were as still as statues. "Mom" had tears in her eyes. "Dad" stopped taking pictures and walked over to the closest veteran, extended his hand, and said, "Thanks for what you did for us." A young lady in Air Force blue and wearing the rank of Major was kneeling to chat with one of the men in a wheelchair, her hand resting on his arm, her eyes not leaving his. It was overwhelming for everyone. Sitting here this morning I get a lump in my throat thinking about it.

John and I walked and talked and took pictures as we made our way up to the tent for lunch. On the walk to the tent we passed Bill Dukes, the Chairman of the group that organized the trip. John had pointed him out to me earlier and told me who he was and about all the work he had done to put it all together. Just as we walked by one of the veterans approached Bill and tapped him on the shoulder. The old man, stooped and hardly able to walk, had tears running down his face. He reached out and pulled Bill down to him, put his arms around him and said, "I've got to hug your neck. Thank you, son, for doing this. I can't tell you what it means to me, To all of us." Bill just smiled and said, "Thank you. It was my privilege."

John and I chatted through lunch but then it was time for them to board the buses and head off to their next stop and time for me to go home. They made a brief stop at the Korean and Vietnam memorials and a short stop at Arlington for the changing of the guard before heading back to the airport for the flight home and a heroes welcome upon their arrival.

The organization that put this trip together, and others like it from all over the country, is the Honor Flight Network. This is a non-profit group that flies these veterans to D.C. for a day at the memorials, at no charge, as a small way of saying "Thank you" for all they did for our country. Their website is and their page for local chapters can be found here

I would encourage everyone to consider helping this organization through donations of time or money. It was two of the most emotional hours I've ever had in my life. A check from me will be in the mail tomorrow and I am looking into doing some volunteer work with them.

If you are interested in seeing more about the day:

There is a brief story with video here -

Another, more in depth story with links to other articles about some of the men that made the trip can be found here -

And, finally, here is a link to the group that

Friday, November 7, 2008


I cannot help but find some amusement at the reaction among liberals at California's ban on gay marriage. They are collectively outraged! I find it ironic that a group that champions democracy - majority (mob) rule - suddenly doesn't like it very much when the majority disagrees with them.

This is the danger our Founding Fathers saw in democracy - in a democracy the rights of a minority can be 'legally' denied with no limit on how far those restrictions can go.

What is sad is that, rather than realize that the only legitimate function of government is to protect rights that already exist and not to grant rights at its discretion and begin to demand such a government, these people will seek to subvert the very form of government they champion using the courts. They must do this because if they acknowledge that their rights do not come from the government but are, in fact, inherent in being a rational, volitional human being, it undermines their belief that a government has the authority to create unnatural rights such as housing, health care, education, etc.

Even more evidence that we've been screwed...

There was a very quiet announcement on Tuesday - which happened to be election day so almost no one was paying attention:

Michael Alix, the chief risk officer at Bear Stearns from 2006 through its bankruptcy from risky investments, was appointed as a senior vice president in the bank supervision group of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. Before becoming the chief risk officer he was the bank's global head of credit risk management from 1996-2006. Bwahahahaha.

Damn, that's arrogance. Steal from us, lie to us, and then piss in our faces.

Change! Or not...

Obama's gonna save us and change the way things are done in Washington!

So, with his very first appointment he choses - Rahm Emanuel, as his Chief of Staff.

A an old-school, Chicago-style political hack that spent six years in the Clinton White House, has remained a Clinton strategist, and was a primary mover in the Democrat move to power in 2006. I think that certainly qualifies as changing they way things are done in Washington. Riiight.

Fifty years from now Obama may go down as the greatest President in history but, if his first action is any indication, what we got was not what was advertised. Imagine that, a lying politician...

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

"Lesson" #1 Prerequisite

Over the last few days I have been asked by more than a few, in particular by those who have known me the longest, why I decided not to vote for the first time in my life. Now that the election is over and we have chosen a new President, I think its time I really shared the things that took me from where I was to where I am.

I haven't been completely open and honest about all the things I've learned. People have to live and survive and have hope and believe that life will be better for their children than it was for them. Do people really want to hear about the possibility of a future in which everything we understand as being American is gone or perverted? What right do I have to take that away from someone?

I decided last night it was time to share what I've learned, even if people think I'm crazy, because the stakes are just too high. If I hurt someone's feelings or make someone angry or make someone nervous about the future so be it. Everyone is going to learn it, one way or another. I love this country and everything the Founding Fathers intended it to be and I'm going to do everything I can to fight for it in the only way I know to do it. As much as I would like to disappear into the Montana wilderness and leave these problems behind, I know that isn't a solution. First, there is no where to hide in order to escape it. Second, my conscience won't allow me to do it - bad things happen when good people do nothing.

I am going to try to avoid preaching and simply present the things as I found them. I more than willingly acknowledge that I could be wrong about things. If I have learned anything in the last few months it is just how dangerous it is to believe you cannot be mistaken.

I have, on more than one occasion, made reference to the movie The Matrix and the scene where Neo is offered a choice - take the red pill and see the world as it really is or take the blue pill and continue to live as you were.

I do not have any pills, at least in the literal since, but I am offering them digitally - changing the colors lest anyone attach any ideological significance them. You have a choice:

Take the green pill, follow these "Lessons," challenge yourself to see through everything that has been put in front of you to prevent you from understanding the truth and see the real world of American politics. This will not be easy and it will probably leave you with feelings of emptiness and fear. One of the hardest things a person can do is acknowledge to themselves they have been wrong about the things in which they believed the most and the people they trusted have lied to them. I have likened this to discovering that your long-held religious convictions were based upon a lie. There is an alternative.

Take the yellow pill, read some of the things I post and ignore the rest. You can assume that I am misguided, ignorant, crazy, under the influence of the devil, lying for my own benefit or whatever other reason you wish to concoct and you can continue to live your life as you were.

Its your choice. I can't make you do it.

Prerequisite -

In order to understand where things went wrong you must first understand how things were supposed to be. Even if you have read them previously, read the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. I don't mean read them the way you read an assignment in fifth grade history where you fly through the words in a race to get finished. I mean really read them - do google searches for words and terms you may not fully understand, think about why they did what they did, etc. Think of it as a couple of hours in deep conversation with James Madison, Thomas Jefferson, Thomas Paine, John Adams, and many others who contributed both directly and indirectly to them. These documents, while not perfect, remain the greatest form of government ever conceived by man.

The Declaration of Independence -

The Constitution of the United States -

The Bill of Rights -

привет! Welcome to a New Era in American Politics!

Monday, November 3, 2008

Please note – The information contained in this blog entry, while I believe it to be accurate, comes from so many sources, some conflicting and with less than clear motives, that I cannot guarantee its accuracy. I have tried to find multiple sources for each item but that isn’t always possible and sometimes I must rely on the words and works of others, particularly since I do this in my spare time. Please let me know if you find something you know to be incorrect. I do apologize in advance for the lack of…polish to the writing.

In response to the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, the Department of Homeland Security was created. Whereas the Department of Defense is charged with military actions abroad, the Department of Homeland Security works in the civilian sphere to protect the U.S. within, at, and outside its borders. Homeland security policy is coordinated at the White House by the Homeland Security Council which, in turn, answers directly to the President. It is the third largest Cabinet department behind the Department of Defense and Department of Veterans Affairs.

The Insurrection Act of 1807 is the set of laws that govern the President’s ability to deploy troops within the United States to put down lawlessness, insurrection and rebellion. The law was written to limit Presidential power as much as possible, relying on state and local governments.

The Posse Comitatus Act of 1878 prohibits most members of the uniformed armed services from exercising state law enforcement, police or peace officer powers on non-federal property – the states, their counties and municipal divisions.

During Bush’s reign both of these laws were repeatedly amended to remove restrictions on Executive power. The Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal year 2007 expanded Presidential power to declare martial law under revisions to the Insurrection Act and take charge of National Guard troops without state governor authorization when public order has been lost. This same act gave the President the power to declare a national emergency at his discretion and to employ the U.S. military to suppress any group that obstructs or opposes the execution of the laws of the United States or impedes the course of justice under those laws.

The Office of Legal Counsel, which assists the Attorney General as legal advisor to the President, prepared a series of memos in which it was asserted that the Fourth Amendment restriction on unreasonable searches and seizures does not apply U.S. forces deployed inside the country. A footnote in one of these memos argued that Fifth Amendment guarantees of due-process rights “do not address actions the Executive takes in conducting a military campaign against the Nation’s enemies.”

These changes essentially gave the President the power to declare martial law at his discretion, including the suspension of Habeus Corpus and most of the rights guaranteed by the Constitution, and the authority to use the full force of the United States military against any one, any time and any place without Congressional approval, in both foreign and domestic operations.

The “War on Terror,” we were repeatedly told, is different than any other war in history because it is not against any grounded nation or single army. This would be a war with a global theater of operations against small pockets of well-armed, well-trained, guerilla fighters. The President, it was explained, must have the authority to go after these people wherever they hide and implement martial law and military control over any area necessary to insure our safety – including inside the United States.

During this time the Bush administration authorized the National Security Agency to monitor, without warrants, telephone calls, e-mails, Internet activity, and text messaging, and other communications involving any party believed by the NSA to be outside the U.S., even if the other end of the communication lies with the U.S. The exact scope of the program is not known, but the NSA is or was provided, total, unsupervised access to all fiber-optic communications between major telecommunication interconnect locations. The legality and extent of those operations is still in question, however, the Protect America Act of 2007 authorized the monitoring of all electronic communications of people in the United States without a court’s order or oversight, so long as it is not targeted at one particular person “reasonably believed to be” inside the country. The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978 Amendments Act of 2008 granted immunity to the telecommunication companies involved in the surveillance. It also allows the government to conduct surveillance of any person for up to one week without a warrant, an increase from the previous 48 hours, as long as the FISA court is notified at the time the surveillance begins and an application to submitted to the court within that week.

Effective October 1, 2008, the 3rd Infantry Division’s 1st Brigade Combat Team will be under the control of U.S. Army North, the Army service component of Northern Command (NORTHCOM), as an on-call federal response for natural or man-made emergences and disasters. This marks the first time an active U.S. Army unit will be given a dedicated assignment to NORTHCOM. This formalizes a role for the use of federal troops within the U.S. during major public emergencies and disasters.

In United States constitutional law, plenary power is a power that has been granted to a body in absolute terms, with no review of, or limitations upon, the exercise of the power. A signing statement is a written pronouncement issued by the President upon signing a bill into law. These statements do not appear to have legal force by themselves, although they are published in the Federal Register. As a practical matter, they may give notice of the way the Executive intends to implement a law, which may make them more significant than the text of the law itself. No Constitution provision, federal statute, or common-law principle explicitly permits or prohibits signing statements. In essence, the statements are a means in which a President can selectively enforce only those portions of a bill in which he approves while ignoring those in which he disapproves. Under President Bush these statements often include assertions that the President will not follow the statute based on his belief that it interferes with his plenary authority. Historically, signing statements have been relatively rare. President Bush has issued more signing statements than any President in our history. In fact, he issued more than all previous Presidents combined – in just his first term.

President Bush has asserted that the Executive has the plenary authority to conduct domestic surveillance programs such as those discussed above without receiving either a warrant or other FISA court approval. His administration has argued that Congress cannot limit or check the President from exercising his plenary authority and “inherent” powers.

In addition, President Bush has asserted plenary power and directed his advisors to ignore Congressional subpoenas, subverting Congress in its ability to provide oversight to the Executive branch. I believe this is the first time in U.S. history that a President has made such a claim.

NOTE: Under Democrat control, Congress, via the Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal year 2008 has (at least temporarily) repealed most of the changes to the Insurrection and Posse Comitatus acts. It is possible that some or all of the other extensions of Executive power have been removed but I only found these.

The expansion of Executive power under President Bush has been enormous. The Founding Fathers, when writing the Constitution, sought to implement a series of checks and balances to prevent too much power from accumulating in any branch of the government. This system was used to prevent one branch from becoming supreme by means of rules and procedures that serve to limit each other. As it was conceived, our government would consist of three branches: Legislative, Executive, and Judicial.

What we have seen under the Bush administration is the Legislative branch rendered impotent. Even a Democratically controlled Congress has only had limited success in slowing the growth of executive power. The checks and balances system has become unstable. With President Bush leaving office in a few months why does all of this matter? It matters for two reasons: 1) The actions of a President sets precedence for future Presidents and 2) the next President will have unprecedented control over the Judicial branch.

The next President, in his first term in office, will likely appoint four justices to the Supreme Court and two more if he serves a second term, potentially six of the nine justices. In addition, the next President will appoint several judges at the district level and to the extremely powerful court of appeals. This alone is enough to give any President an almost unprecedented ability to direct the political direction of the country for the next several decades through his nominations. Typically, a President cannot become too radical in his selections because all nominees must be approved by Congress.


Barack Obama, if not an outright Marxist, has at least has some very Marxist leanings. If he is elected tomorrow he will likely have a Democratically controlled House and a filibuster proof Democrat majority in the Senate. This will effectively eliminate any restriction on who he nominates to these judicial positions. In his first term in office, Barack Obama may appoint enough federal judges to have “liberal” control of ten of the thirteen Circuit Courts of Appeal and the Supreme Court with almost no restriction on who is nominated.

Even if everything he did was with the best intentions and the interest of the nation in his heart, President Bush has set the table for our first pro-Marxist President to be the most powerful executive to ever hold the office. The remaining power in Congress will be controlled by a complicit Democrat majority and he will have the ability to pick and choose the judges at every major federal court. One man is going to have direct control or indirect influence over all three branches of our government and an active, deployed war-trained Army brigade at his disposal to suppress any ‘pubic emergencies.’

Perhaps I am paranoid, but no man should have this kind of power. George Washington was the last man with that much power and control over our government. It is a testament to his uncommon character that he refused the power that could have been his. He could have made himself king, in authority if not in name. Could you turn your back on unlimited, unchecked power? I do not know if my resolve would be as strong as his. He remains one of the few men in history to refuse to allow his citizens to make him a monarch/dictator when it was in his power to become one. Unless something incredible happens tomorrow, the people of this country are betting that Barack Obama has the wisdom and character of George Washington. God help us all if he doesn’t.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

A Few Thoughts on Government and Politicians

  • There will always be some who acquire more wealth than others, regardless of the form of government. The form of government only determines who will have the opportunity.

  • There is an inverse relationship between the power and control exerted by a government and the wealth and autonomy of the citizens. As the power and control of a government increases the ability for an average citizen to independently direct his life and acquire wealth decreases.

  • Governments and politicians always seek to gain power and exert control. Every emergency, both real and perceived, will be used as a reason to expand authority.

  • A government cannot legislate the laws of economics out of existence any more than they can legislate gravity out of existence - regardless of the form of government those laws still apply.

  • The most productive economy will always be the one that uses its resources most efficiently.

  • A person who bears no responsibility for bad decisions has no incentive to make good decisions. The more powerful a politician becomes and the harder it is to remove him from office, the more insulated he is from bad decisions and the more inefficient and subject to corruption he becomes.

  • It is almost impossible to have a power at your disposal and not use it for your benefit. The greater the power available, the greater the temptation to do so. Regardless of its stated use and their stated intent, assume every power given to a government will be used by those in power for their benefit.

  • Corruption in society is inevitable, but a corrupt businessman is less dangerous to society than a corrupt politician under any form of government.

  • The immorality of an action is not changed by politicians passing legislation making it legal. Morality and legality are not the same.

  • Always assume a politician has his best interests at heart. The more he insists that he is doing what is best for 'the people,' the more likely he is lying.

  • Under no circumstances should a single person or organization have control over more than one of the following branches of government: Legislative, Executive, and Judicial. Likewise, under no circumstances should a single person or organization have control over more than one of the following forms of authority: political, military, and religious.