Taliban’s stoning murder is what we are supporting when we deal with them…

August 16, 2010

I was already against capital punishment, legal murder, justified on the basis that somehow two wrongs make a right, but I find the news of the stoning death of a young couple for an improper sexual relationship or whatever they called it, particularly heinous and gruesome. It was said a crowd of at least 150 watched. It was done at the direction of the Taliban. And to think that we expend thousands of our own soldiers’ lives and our treasure over there when of course we know the end result is that once we leave they will revert, if they ever left it,  to this kind of uncivilized behavior, because of course the Taliban will likely resume control of the whole nation.

The western world used to be in to this kind of thing, and it is biblical — he who has not sinned cast the first stone — but except for some jurisdictions in the U.S. and I guess elsewhere, most of that is gone. Executions in the U.S. I think are almost just as macabre, in that doctors are called in to make sure the person to be executed is healthy enough to be put to death — and I don’t know what I find more offensive, someone being hanged, shot by a firing squad, zapped and fried in an electric chair, choked to death in a chamber of gas, or subjected to a deadly injection.

And it’s not that I feel sorry for someone who has committed a heinous crime — I just feel bad for humanity.

And then there is the real problem that has come to light. We have discovered through DNA testing that many a person innocent of the particular crime they are being put to death for are innocent. No doubt a lot of innocent people have been put to death — of course many of those people were probably guilty of other crimes, and who knows? maybe even capital crimes.

But even if you are for capital punishment, surely you can’t call yourself civilized and be for death by stoning.

But our nation has taken upon itself the task of nation building and it tried to make deals with the Taliban and pays them off, even as our soldiers are killed. So the U.S. is in effect supporting death by stoning when it deals with the Taliban. And this notion that Al Qaeda has essentially been removed from Afghanistan is nonsense. The Taliban is Al Qaeda. Islamic extremists are Islamic extremists.

And I am no more comfortable with Christian extremists than I am with Islamic extremists, really.

I believe that all kinds of religious extremists threaten civilize society. Right now, though, the biggest push seems to be by Islamic extremists.

We’re all waiting for the so-called Islamic or Muslim moderates, who repudiate ancient methods such as stoning to death, to speak up, but we’re not holding our breath.

I belive in God or some kind of higher power — some forms of so-called organized religion worry me, though.

When I hear some of the rhetoric coming from Christian fundamentalists I sometimes wonder how they would act if they ever got in charge in the U.S. I’m not so sure you would be able to distinguish their actions from those of the Taliban.

While I pity innocent people in Afghanistan and Iraq and the whole Islamic world who just simply want to go about their business and live their lives in peace but who are subjected to the cruel intolerance of their religious leaders and the thugs who work in religion’s name, I do not think it is the business of the United States to change things for them, nor am I sure they want our help, and I am relatively sure it is all so terribly impractical.

P.s.

From the news reports, apparently the stoned-to-death young couple were defiant to the end and said they loved each other. Once upon a time the idea of marrying for love rather than just a practical arrangmement for the families concerned was not considered right or not usually considered at all even here in the west, I have read. I won’t argue the merits of that here, but I do think that in terms of social tolerance and  less violent methods in law, the west offers the better way, even though we have much violence nonetheless. And I am digressing here and not making much sense. I’m just trying to say, and please excuse the terrible and almost unintended pun, but the Taliban and its ilk would pull us all back into the stone age.

P.s. P.s.

There are devastating floods in Pakistan and other areas of that region and the U.S. is supplying aid. That is the right thing to do — whether it is appreciated or not.


My emotions are mixed over illegal immigration….

August 15, 2010

I have mixed emotions about the whole illegal immigrant debate.

And from the onset, I want to say that the current debate is essentially about Mexicans (and possibly some other Hispanics from our own Western Hemisphere, coming over the border to take our jobs and avail themselves of our social programs paid for by legal taxpaying citizens, but then again also many or most of those illegals via their withholding in their pay checks).

On the one hand, I have written many times that the oft-cited truism that illegals perform the work regular Americans (usually that means white folks in the context of the discussions) is nonsense — it is a myth.

The fact is that if you ask older people (of whom I guess I am part of the group at 61 — but you should ask others who are older) legal white folks (and of course legal black folks and all other kinds of  folks who are in this country, the good old US of A, legally) have done all kinds of work — dishwashers, maids, fruit and vegetable pickers, farm labor crewmen (and crew women), nannies, and the whole gamut.

In general, when any kind of work is available, the jobs are taken up by anyone, regardless of ethnic or even immigration status, who is willing and able to perform the tasks.

As I recall from my reading and from what my own folks told me, Mexican labor in the U.S. got its start primarily during World War II  when there was a shortage of manpower due to so many men (and some women) being in the military. At that time we had the Bracero program by which unaccompanied men came over the border to do farm work.

That got the ball rolling, and they have been coming over ever since, even though the Bracero program was discontinued. These days they bring their families.

I think that most of these people are hard workers and are far superior to those able-bodied loafers who may well be here legally, but by way of fraud draw on the government social system.

But among any group, illegals included, there are those who prefer to get something for nothing or who rationalize that since they have a hard time finding work, or steady or high paying enough work, or have other problems, that society owes them its support.

But let’s don’t throw the baby out with the bath water. The fact that some people prefer to live off the sweat of others is just that, a fact of life. It’s one of the reasons I have never been drawn to the idea of communes.

But back to the subject of the blog post. On the one hand, I think border security needs to be enforced and I think legal citizens should get first crack at jobs, and furthermore, I think many who now draw on our social programs via fraud should make themselves available for work many of the illgals do now, although it is doubtful employers would want to hire the lazy louts, but maybe the lazy louts would change their ways it if meant survival because their gravy train would come to an end if welfare regulations were enforced. And that reminds me. Once upon a time my late wife worked for a time as a food stamp eligibility worker. When she first began the job, she actually went out and made house calls and saw what was up. But that aspect was soon cut out of the job. And I think you can see that is why people who should not be getting government help get it — there’s little to no oversight.

And at the risk of going off the subject, as I often do, I believe one of the biggest rip-offs of hard-working tax-paying folks is the program called Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC).

There are whole generations of welfare multi-baby producing moms who draw AFDC and turn it over to non working guys and there is little to no enforcement against this.

Again, back to the subject.

Regardless of what I have just written, the fact is there is a demand for labor, even in this Great Recession. Mexicans perform one heck of a lot of that labor and they do it quite well.

Case in point: For most of the past 15 years, primarily Mexicans have been loading and unloading trucks that I have driven, saving me the work, and making it possible to get down the road and make money (such as it is).

I don’t know which ones are legal (and probably most of them are) and which ones are not. And you know? I don’t really care. And you know? I think a lot of employers don’t rally care. They just want the job done.

A fact in all of this, I think, is that most of us realize that individual employers and employer groups may say they don’t knowingly or actively recruit illegal labor, but the opposite is true. Another fact is that the government is somewhat split on the matter, with the end result being that while there are some show raids of workplaces, in many instances the authorities turn a blind eye — I mean that has to be the case. If you and I know illegals are working here and where they are working, then the authorities have to know — so just go out and get them.

And that reminds me of an incident many long years ago. And I warn any faithful readers of my blog with a long-term memory that I may be repeating myself here, but here goes:

As a young man I was working for a farmer who grew sugar beets and beans. My job was to move sprinkler pipes in the fields. There were some Mexican illegals working on that place.

One day I was by myself out in the middle of a sugar beet field. I saw a Border Patrol vehicle pull up out on the public roadway adjacent to that field, and this was some 700 miles or more north of the border (and this was back in the early 70s, so I can‘t say immigration does not do some enforcement and they have been doing it for a long time). Anyway, a tall and fairly rotund man got out wearing what looked like one of those Southern sheriff hats, the kind of which the wearers of usually say: “you in a heap a trouble boy”. He walked way out into that field. At the time he came up to me I was bent over a water valve. I may have looked like a wetback (excuse the term), wearing an old felt hat with brim turned down, and my skin is somewhat dark. But when I raised up, he seemed to recognize the fact that I am not Mexican. He said to me: “you got any Mexican boys working here?”. I answered: “I don’t know” (and if anyone wants to arrest me for lying to a public official, maybe I did not know until after the fact, maybe).

I was also told by a Mexican kid, born and raised in the USA, that the Border Patrol raided his home across the street in a little enclave that was at that time my then home community’s only Mexican town (just a few modest cabins)and pushed folks around, no warrant presented (I’m told immigration does not need one — don’t know).

Fast forward to the present:

As I left a grocery distribution center in Southern California the other day in my 18-wheeler, the older Mexican security gentleman (whom I assumed to be a U.S. citizen) jokingly (I think) asked me if I had any “lumpers” (unloaders) in my trailer.

He further said: “They’ve been going somewhere … I think Oregon and Washington — they’re staying away from Arizona”.

By the way, by saying what he said, he made a tacit admission that illegals were working there. In this case, the grocery warehouse management has an out. The lumpers work for a separate outfit that is an independent contractor.

And so it goes.

P.s.

I have no understanding of the process of becoming a  U.S. citizen, having been born here. I don’t know why it takes so long and why some groups have an easier time of it and why some do not.

I’m currently thinking that it would be impossible logistically to simply kick out all the illegals and that the process of splitting up families is detestable and immoral.

Bureaucracy-hindered amnesty programs are inefficient and are simply a tool for blood-sucking opportunists to make money off of government programs, and they also simply draw in more illegals.

I’m thinking that anyone who can show he or she has a job, and perhaps a reasonable history of employment here, should be granted a green card and a quick path to citizenship.

If people come here to be productive and tax-paying members of society, why do we want to discourage them? There is strength in numbers.

We should go after those who are non-productive by choice and who are a tremendous drain on society, regardless of whether they are legal or not.

Non-productive illegals should be deported. Non-productive by choice legals should have their government meal tickets cut off. Hungry people tend to get motivated. No, they won’t just turn to crime. Criminals tend to commit crimes, regardless of the economic conditions. At times of desperation good people might resort to crime for survival, but we should continue our social programs for those folks (all of us but for the grace of God and the economy could find ourselves in that number).


So just how long is a computer update supposed to take? And troubles with Sony VIO and AT&T sim card…

August 14, 2010

I just need to get his off my chest and while the computer will let me.

I had ample time — well at least enough — to blog Yesterday (Friday) but my computer would not let me. Just as I got the thing warmed up it quit functioning and then told me not to power off, that it was updating 1 of 2 — well how long does it take to update 1 of 2? I mean I kept the thing on — me not using it — for at least eight hours. Most of that time I was driving an 18-wheeler down the highway.  I had started to use it when I was waiting on the unload of my truck, which took about three hours. When I finally got to my last stop, marking the end of the day, it was still in my sleeper updating away. In frustration I turned it off — sometimes it won’t even let me do that.

The other day it told me it was updating 1 of  1. This took at least 9 hours and it still was not done. I turned it off eventually and later when I turned it back on again it told me it had failed to update. And I might add, I never asked for an update.

That time I just spoke of I called the place where I bought it — Best Buy — and asked them about the problem. The lady on the phone said she had no idea. She said I’d have to bring the computer in and let the “geeks” look at it. Adopting my mother’s style I told her: “well you aren’t any help”. Like I had time to bring the thing in.

Now don’t get me wrong. I got this computer as a Christmas gift and when it works — I love it!

Another thing I have a problem with from time to time is the sim card, which allows me to be mobile. I use a DSL line through my landline telephone service when I’m at home, and have had little to no problem with it.

I’m running a Sony VIO notebook computer. It can be quite fast and it can be quite slow at times. I’m also using a sim card from AT&T right now. Sometimes it works well, sometimes not so well, and sometimes not at all. I don’t find it terribly reliable.

When I was having trouble with my sim card I called AT&T and was on the phone with a guy for more than an hour. He had me take the thing apart and then cut me off. I later put it back together and then it really didn’t work. later I discovered I put it together backwards (there was really only two pieces).

As you can gather, I know little about the technology of computers. Mostly I just like to use them to write (to include my blogging) and to have access to the world wide web, especially the news.

Just wanted to get that off my chest after being deprived of the computer’s use for most of my free hours of the day.

P.s.

And If I can get this posted I know some wise a.. tech guy is going to say: “gee it seems to be working now”. And, yes, I guess it is — now  (for how long I don’t know) .

P.s. P.s.

And Happy Birthday to me — I turned 61 yesterday (the 13th).


Can you go back home again???

August 9, 2010

And what does the surviving spouse do now that everyone has paid their last respects, or as we did it, took part in a celebration of life for the dearly departed?

Everyone has gone home.

I was lucky to be able to take part in an already-planned dinner date with my now late wife’s brother and wife and one of her sisters, but now I am at home facing the reality that life is already different now.

I confess. I’m even talking to the ashes. Letting her know I am home and that my dinner hosts were gracious.

And I’m contemplating what it will be like going back to work out on the road — the difference being that while I was often away from her, I was always coming back home and, just as importantly, I had her to talk to frequently out there, thanks to the advent of cell phones. Coincidentally, she started in the cell phone business herself back in its infancy when we still called them car phones and stayed with it when we moved to those bulky bag phones and later when I witnessed big shot wannabes using cell phones loudly in public just to impress others — there were even fake cell phones you could buy to make yourself look important. Won’t work today — everyone has one, even little kids sometimes.

See? I’m going back in time. I still have that picture board we put up at the celebration of life and it makes me reminisce (and it sometimes makes me cry).

I told my wife’s sister’s first husband: “I wished we could go back in time and do it all over again.”

And this is a phenomenon I have read about before, but is so true: it seems it takes a death to bring families together — why can’t they be so when people are still alive? (Okay, I know, they don’t always get along, but people can work on that.)

I think back to when we bought our first home and had relatives over, mostly on my wife’s side — what a day it was! — and did we ever repeat it just like that? No, not that way. We should have done that about once a month or so if not more often.

And another thing: everyone has their own story and their own hopes and dreams and aspirations and their own unique set of personal circumstances, but for my money I wished I could have simply accepted that first home and that town — it was where I attended and graduated from high school — it was home.

We wandered for years desperately looking for something we could never find. That is not to say we did not have good times — we certainly did. But there was always that sense of longing for something we could not quite identify.

It was home and family. Not everyone is fortunate enough to have them, but we did , and they’re still there really.

They say “you can’t go home again.” For some people, maybe not. But if you have that desperate feeling of longing maybe you can.

I’d run to it if I were you……

 


First Amendment protects mosque building plan, but we need to keep an eye on it…

August 7, 2010

When I saw a photo on the Time Magazine online site of the rear ends of Muslims praying in Washington, D.C. in connection with a story about the controversy over the planned building of an Islamic mosque near the 9/11 ground zero site in New York, I recalled that I used to tell my now late wife that the best way to strike back at that part of the Muslim world that is out to get us was to wait till they get down on their knees to pray to Mecca and take that opportunity to kick ’em in the behind.

My own silliness aside, I don’t see how the building of the proposed mosque, which got New York Landmark Commission approval this past week and which has the blessings, so to speak, of the current mayor of New York, Michael Bloomberg, but not of the former mayor and former Republican primary presidential candidate and all-around stick in the mud Rudy Giuliani, can be denied when we have the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

As we all know, the First Amendment guarantees religious freedom and prohibits our government from favoring one belief over another.

Opponents say it would be disrespectful to the surviving family members of 9/11 victims (probably conveniently setting aside the fact many were Muslim) and the victims themselves, and furthermore, they are suspicious of what might be the real intention of those building it — might they use it as a meeting place to work out further plots against our nation?

Now that last point is of some valid concern. And I would think that the authorities need to be aware of that possibility. But the constitution says explicitly that the government is not supposed to mess with the practice of religion or favor one over the other — even though many Christians would say, yes, yes, of course we have religious freedom, but ours (Christianity) is the historical main religion in the U.S. and needs special consideration.

But you know, I’m all for the proper undercover authorities keeping their eye out for conspirators against the nation, but I don’t think conspirators are limited to hatching their plots in churches or mosques.

I am unclear as to who all might be behind this mosque project. I know that the main person is supposed to be a supposedly moderate Muslim imam known as Faisal Abdul Rauf. Some, however, charge that he only pretends to be moderate for western ears (don’t know). At any rate, as long as there is no evidence that the project is anything more than a benign religious one, I don’t see any legal basis for denial.

P.s.

It does seem troubling that the silence from the part of the Muslim community who are peaceful and not out to get us that we are told exists seems deafening at times.

P.s. P.s.

It would also be troubling if the new mosque, which I understand is also to be an interfaith center, were to be used as a forum for spreading views subversive to our nation. But that can happen even in supposedly Christian churches — Jeremiah Wright?

And some of the white or predominantly white Christian fundamentalist churches seem to put out a message of extreme intolerance and even defiance of our democratic (note the small d) government.

So, having noted that, I have reminded myself of why subversives might prefer to meet in a church or mosque or temple, or whatever — to hide under the umbrella of the First Amendment.

Yes. Freedom of speech and religion and movement our society offers does pose a threat to security, but we have managed to come this far. I think we can continue without going to the police state — we don‘t want to become Iran.


If the oil is gone, that’s good, but I hope that does not send the wrong message…

August 5, 2010

While the seemingly apparent good news on the Gulf of Mexico BP oil spill is that the hole has been plugged — even though further hole plugging work and/or relief well work continues — most of the oil seems to have disappeared.

But the bad news on this to me is that it gives an excuse to all those anti-environmental naysayer’s, who seem to think we all worry too much about being kind to the planet and want to send everyone back to the stone age, to proclaim that environmental concerns are always bunkum.

First I find it hard to believe that there will be no major and bad residual effects, and second, I really would like to know where the oil really did go.

Of course I know that nature is miraculous. Scientists found that out after the natural devastation of Mr. St. Helens years ago. I think within the first year the area that faced the worst devastation started little by little coming back to life. The ash dumped over the northern Great Plains turned out to be a helpful soil amendment.

As bad as the Exxon Valdez spill was and despite the fact that many fishermen and others never recovered. In general, the area survived and life goes on.

And despite the fact that American scientists opened Pandora’s box by creating the A bomb during World War II, we have not faced the nuclear holocaust yet — yet (well except for a few hundred thousand in two Japansese cities).

I still think we should do more to protect Mother Earth and I am not much of a risk taker myself and why do we constantly want to risk ruining our planet anyway?


Gay Republican federal Judge holds that one man, one woman restriction in marriage is an ‘artifact’ of the past …

August 5, 2010

ADD 1:

It did not sink in until I read a sentence in the LA Times story this morning on this issue that the judge in this case was gay (homosexual) and a Republican appointee. I had heard a reference to his gayness yesterday on TV but it flew right past me. It seems as though that would make him biased, but then again, if he were straight, one could say he was biased the other way. And a Republican appointee — that’s ironic, seeing as how so much of the opposition in pro-gay issues often comes from the Republican right. But another story I read referred to President Obama (a Democrat) saying during his bid for office that he was against gay marriage, although he lauds civil rights for gays, nonetheless (wants it both ways).

——————————————-

The most interesting part to me of the federal court ruling quashing the California Proposition 8 ban on same-sex marriage was the part on social change.

Federal District Court judge Vaughn R. Walker in San Francisco held not only that the same-sex marriage ban violated due process and equal protection clauses in the U.S. Constitution but that the exclusion of same-sex couples from conventional marriage was out of date.

He wrote in part:

“… The exclusion exists as an artifact of a time when the genders were seen as having distinct roles in society and in marriage. That time has passed.”

If you are reading this on my blog site then you should be able to read my initial reaction to the ruling by scrolling down below this post.

The judge issued a stay that, as I understand, means that gay couples still may not be able to go out and get married just yet.

This issue is headed eventually to the U.S. Supreme Court.

ADD 2:

Some, including me, in the past may have thought offering homosexuals civil unions, as opposed to regular marriage, would suffice, but from what I have read those two contractual arrangements are not equal and are not equally recognized in all states and jurisdictions, and if they were the same there would be no reason to have two designations — think about it. The whole thing is really a question of changing social values, and just as importantly,  a more modern understanding of human biology and sexuality. At one time I thought, and I think I suggested, that maybe the government should get out of the marriage business and only perform civil unions which everyone who is joined together would get for legal protection and those who wanted their union sanctified by the church would have separate weddings, calling that marriage. But then there would be confusion because of the history that has already taken place. Sometimes we have to accept change. And while I am not religious in the conventional sense, I do believe in God or a higher power and I don’t know what you can make of the  teachings of the Bible in things such as the tale of Sodom and Gomorrah, but the sins there were not just homosexuality (whoops, I guess the Bible does see that as a sin, nonetheless), as I recall.

P.s.

I was always taught that the word gender actually refers to masculine and feminine in grammatical terms not in human sexual terms. But modern usage has seen gender to become essentially synonymous with sexual designation in human terms and my American Heritage College dictionary notes this, although it has some extra details and cautions that the issue has not been resolved by all word experts.

P.s. P.s.

And back to the same-sex ruling. I’m somewhat uncomfortable with the government decreeing a change in social mores, but I can also see the rights to equal protection and due process and I think it’s obvious homosexuality is not a choice — and for the benefit of at least one reader I add that people as far as I can see do not choose to be homosexual, rather they are born with that trait (and there may be degrees — don’t know).


Homosexual marriage proponents get victory in California, but maybe don’t get the license just yet…

August 4, 2010

While gay marriage in California was given a victory today when a federal judge in San Francisco overturned a ban on gay marriage in the state, I have also just learned that he has issued a stay against any immediate action on that, meaning that gays can’t get married just yet, as I understand it. If they did, they’d be in legal limbo.

But since this is a ruling by a federal court it could have implications nationwide. The judge ruled that the opponents of gay marriage failed to show how gay marriage would damage conventional marriage.

Gay people should be allowed to be married (at least in California), a federal court in San Francisco has just ruled. This news is so new that as I write this I have not seen word of it on the web yet, but I am catching a CNN TV report.

Of course this fight is not over until the U.S. Supreme Court has its say — and this is headed there.

What I have blogged previously on this subject is that although as a straight person I may have some resistance to the gay life style, I recognize it as a natural fact — people are born that way. And as such you cannot or should not discriminate against a class of people.

I understand that even though California voters passed a ban on same sex marriage, Proposition 8, current polls show that if the issue came before them now (even before today’s ruling) a majority might well vote to allow same sex marriage.

As I understand it, the federal court ruled that California’s Propositionb 8, banning same sex marriage, violated the equal protection and due process clauses of the U.S. Constitution.

And even though there are provisions in most states, I think, for civil unions for gays (or homosexuals), I have blogged that probably civil unions don’t make up for the fact that gays are banned from having regular marriage — separate is not equal, it was decided by the highest court in the early 1950s in Brown vs. the Board of Education, in a ruling that outlawed segregaged schools (black and white).

But of course this issue is not at its end yet — both sides had vowed to take it all the way to the Supreme Court — oh, I just heard that it is headed now to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, which has a liberal history.

I’ll probably have more to write on this when I get harder info.


Don’t repeal the 14th Amendment to deal with illegal immigration, heavily fine employers instead…

August 4, 2010

Some Republicans want to overturn the 14th Amendment because it gives automatic citizenship to children of immigrants (legal and illegal).

The 14th Amenmendment, enacted after the Civil War, primarily, I think, to guarantee rights to former slaves, does a lot of other things too. Interestingly enough, it was used as a basis, as I recall, for the conservative majority on the Supreme Court to rule that corporations have rights as citizens, just like real live human citizens, of free speech, so therefore are not subject to overly restrictive laws on campaign finance. So does that mean those Republicans who want to repeal the 14th Amendment want to cut down on those fat corporate campaign contributions?

I know we have a problem with illegal immigration, but I don’t think we have to gut our civil rights protections in the Constitution to solve the problem.

As my 99-year-old mom, going on 100, asks: “why don’t they do more to fine employers (who hire illegal aliens)?”

I think if it was not so easy for illegal immigrants to get a job, the influx would all but stop. Seems like common sense. The idea that employers who have large forces of illegals are innocently unaware is absurd on its face.

And I think that if you are lucky enough to be born in the USA you should get a free ticket to citizenship, no matter how it all happened, that is how you got here on American soil.

In ancient times if you were born in the King’s domain you had the right to his protection, and you had an obligation of loyalty to him.

Born in the USA, you have all the rights that come with it, and you have an obligation to be loyal to it.


Is Sarah Palin the 21st Century version of Adolf Hitler? And a look at other issues…

August 3, 2010

Could Sarah Palin be the 21st Century version of Adolf Hitler? While I personally have never been impressed  by her oratory skill (except for her original acceptance speech in which I was fooled into thinking she could be a harmless place holder who was up on then current Republican talking points), I recognize that she is pleasing to the eye to most people, if not to the ear.

For his own devious and demented purposes, Hitler appealed to the German Volk, and for her own purposes (money and fame and perhaps some sense of politics and ideology), Palin represents herself as the representative of who she would describe as the hard-working and essentially self-sufficent folk who are the backbone of society and their defender against an evil and ever-expanding big government and socialism.

That aside, all available evidence so far indicates that Palin is a small-time player thrust on the national stage quite by accident or quirk of fate and she has the good sense to make the best of her opportunity. The evidence also indicates that while some of the sophisticated may have taken unfair swipes at her, that, in fact, she is to say the least rather ignorant of history and geography and national and world affairs and that her methods are always style over substance. It is hard to imagine her being able to hold her own and on her own in a serious discussion of policy.

An Arianna Huffington blog seemed to compare Sarah Palin with Hitler. She did not use the name of the little German mad man who came close to taking over the world, but I thought the implied analogy was clear. You see in a time of crisis, such as we are in, people are desperate and they don’t always listen to reason. They act out of fear and primal instinct. And while people like me tend dismiss her as somewhat insane, or at best, woefully ignorant and somewhat buffoonish, maybe that is dangerous — remember how they all underestimated that frustrated corporal with the Charlie Chaplin mustache.

And what’s with that BP oil spill that is supposedly all but shut off? Some say the pollution was not nearly bad as reported or feared while officially it seems to be going down on record as the worst oil spill ever. And some say or imply the effects may be minimal over the long run and others say it is devastating and will be with us for a long, long time to come.

And President Obama can’t seem to catch a break. He has Republicans and Democrats and folks of all political leanings unhappy with him and at the same time folks of various political factions happy with him or at least some of his policies. While I have not been wild about his performance or style, I have to think that if so many folks are mad at him he may be doing something right. That would indicate he is not doing the bidding of just one group. But I also have to believe that the Wall Street bankers (and some of the other high flyers) can’t be complaining too much after running things into the ground, getting bailed out by taxpayer money and then rewarding themselves and their cronies with bonuses and golden parachutes (thanks to trickle up from the taxpayers), and if they are crying it’s probably crocodile tears.

The no-win war in Afghanistan continues. I wondered in a blog about a week ago if the Wikileaks papers on Afghanistan might be equivalent to the Pentagon Papers back in the early 70s that signaled the end of the line for U.S. involvement in Vietnam. Opinion on that seems to be mixed.

But New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman hit the nail on the head when he wrote that the new leaks remind him of this sage old advice:

If you’re in a poker game and you don’t know who the sucker is, it’s probably you.

I read that and then I read an article in the Economist (published in Britain) that suggested the U.S. is probably currently carrying out the right strategy in Afghanistan. Apparently some Brits are in on the secret about the sucker (the U.S. being the one carrying the burden there). And we know the Pakistanis and the Taliban and Karzai know who the sucker is.

And I read a disturbing article about the details of the stoning to death methods used in Iranian justice. As bad as it was, saying what size stones could be used, among other things, it kind of reminded how we go into so much gruesome detail in our policies on capital punishment in the U.S., even though we certainly feel we are trying to be more humane. Killing is killing and dead is dead. I will say, though, that it seems a waste of time to even try to deal with societies that condone something like stoning someone to death. Some people suggest it is condoned in the Bible (not sure about that — I think it’s more like it’s mentioned).

This just in — Mitch Miller of Sing Along with Mitch (late 1950s, early 1960s TV) has died.

Today’s busy and jaded and technological frenzied and mind warped and attention deficit disordered world would have no time for him and his light-hearted family oriented or maybe square-oriented (not as bad as Welk) music (as I recall it to have been).