Tea Party – Don’t be the cure that’s worse than the disease!

Posted in Political/Social Commentary with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on July 28, 2011 by The Center Shot

I want to make it clear, up front, that I’m a huge supporter of most of the ideals behind the Tea Party movement and have participated in Tea Party events since the earliest ones in Texas. That said. I think that members of the House Tea Party Caucus are entirely missing the point.

We sent you to Washington to show our disapproval of the status quo, to shake things up and to begin the process of change in the way ‘business is done’ in the Capital. We did NOT send you to Washington to be ‘spoilers’ or to act like spoiled, stubborn children. You have stood your ground and your principles longer than anyone expected and have had a dramatic effect on Washington politics and on the American people. Business is no longer “as usual” in Washington and there’s a new hope in America that things can be changed. But it’s time to begin working with other Republicans and those on the left to come to some sort of compromise. If you don’t, all the hard work you have done will be overshadowed and lost by the repercussions of a failure to arrive at a passable bill to raise the debt ceiling and reduce spending.

A war can’t often be won with a single battle and the effect of trying to will be devastating, in this case. Unfortunately, just being “right” isn’t enough. Just as important is the ability to access the realities of a situation, all aspects of it, and to have the willingness and courage to work within those realities. The reality, today, is that America is not prepared to suffer the consequences that will result if a deal is not struck on a deficit reduction plan and a increase in the debt ceiling- no matter how much they agree, in general, with the Tea Party’s goal of reducing spending and waste instead of increasing taxes. If you continue to hold up the bargaining process, you will be blamed for those consequences. No, this is NOT right; but it is the reality. If this comes to pass, you may claim victory over the battle but you will have lost the war. The cause of fiscal responsibility will, then, be set back significantly.

Perception is everything. If you don’t wake up to this fact and use it to your advantage, rather than being a victim of it, all your efforts will be for nought. Instead of being hailed as saviors of America, you will be vilified as the group that brought on an additional and unnecessary financial tragedy. It doesn’t matter that you aren’t responsible for the current situation or that you are advocating the best and most sensible way out of this mess; you will be blamed for it anyway. This is the reality of America today. Ugly or not, you can’t wish this reality away. In order to effect change, you have to win the public relations war in addition to being right. While you may be advocating policies that a majority of Americans tend to agree with, you have not (yet) won the war of public relations. This particular battle that you have engaged in has the potential for consequences that will only alienate the public. Is your rigid adherence to fiscal responsibility, and your stance on this particular battle, worth handing the federal government over to the extreme left so that they can drive us off a financial cliff?

I would argue that it would be better to “give” enough to get a deal done that the Senate will pass and the President will sign and to be happy with knowledge that you have effected more change than anyone ever expected. In return, you will garner the respect and support of many Republicans and independents, that previously dismissed you, in future battles. Be satisfied that you have altered the path and very fabric of Washington; and survive to fight another day, in battles that will truly put us on a path to fiscal responsibility. We are proud of your record and steadfastness and we will not be disappointed in you for giving a little to make a deal! In fact, we will be more proud of you if you recognize the right time to begin bending to facilitate a deal. One that, while it may be distasteful and not what we would want in a perfect world, is better than we would have otherwise had and one that will save us from a financial tragedy. Please don’t be the cure that is worse for America than it’s financial disease!

 

Celebrities like Bill Maher are disingenuous and deceptive – they have no business talking politics

Posted in Political/Social Commentary with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on July 21, 2011 by The Center Shot

I’m so sick of watching Hollywood actors, musicians, professional athletes and other celebrities talk about the economy, the debt ceiling and other issues that they know so little about and which don’t have any real effect on them anyway! Have you ever noticed how sympathetic they are, supposedly, to “the poor” and how antagonistic they are (in general) to the “wealthy?” Have you ever noticed how their (public) animosity is directed at corporate America and the conservative viewpoint and politics?

I just finished watching Bill Maher (host of Politically Incorrect on HBO) on the Piers Morgan Show on CNN. As usual, Maher’s comments were decidedly left-wing; deriding conservative (and most economist’s) beliefs that jobs are created by successful people and that when you increase taxes on those who own or invest in companies (thus cutting their available investment capital), the result is fewer jobs. Time and time again, Maher’s crass commentary hammered on everything conservative and corporate and espoused only the furthest left-wing beliefs. He even referred to Sarah Palin and Michelle Bachman as “MILFs.” This is nothing but naked personal hatred and ‘shock talk’ that is rude and totally inappropriate for any serious and substantive discussion. It’s not funny and is not something that should be said about ANYONE. It was a derogatory comment that was only designed to engender the further support of other ‘haters’ that identify with Maher’s extremist views and inflammatory rhetoric. Maher can’t abide or respect others’ right to their own (opposing) beliefs and he regularly ridicules people for their beliefs- in direct contradiction to the very “tolerance” that he pretends to advocate.

I just don’t get it. Why is anyone even listening to this guy or ANY of these other people who’s sole qualification for getting air time is being a celebrity? Are we really living in a world where any “celebrity” can become a political or social pundit simply because of their fame? Wouldn’t it make more sense to, at least, listen to people who’s professional expertise has SOME relevance to the subject? What makes someone like Bill Maher’s opinion about political issues any more sensible or valid than yours or mine or anyone else? I submit that Maher’s, and most other celebrities’ (like many of his guests), opinions and views have EVEN LESS validity than yours or mine. Think about  it- celebrities like Bill Mar are extremely wealthy and are paid outrageous salaries for very little of what most of us would consider “work;” and very few of them have spent any significant time in the general workforce. I don’t begrudge them their talent and good fortune but I DO have a problem with them: 

A. pretending that they are “in touch” with the average American. They aren’t. In fact, if you really think about it, the bubble they live in likely makes them LESS “in touch” than even the politicians in Washington! 

B. acting like, because they are a celebrity or a member of the Hollywood elite, they are somehow qualified to speak about political and social issues outside their expertise and personal experience; and that they are somehow smarter than the rest of us. They aren’t. 

C. acting like they really care about the lives of the poor and of average Americans. They don’t.

D. acting like, somehow, their celebrity status makes them privy to information that the rest of us aren’t. They’re not.

If these people are really as concerned about the poor as they claim, why don’t they do more to help them? Let’s take Bill Maher, for example. His net worth is somewhere around $23 million. If he was REALLY as socialistic as he claims, why not give away $10-15 million directly to some poor families to get them homes and job training and get them self-sufficient? Since Maher believes that families making $250,000 a year are rich, SURELY the remaining $3-8 million would be more than enough for him to comfortably live on! I’m sure he does donate to plenty of charities but I’m also willing to bet that the amount he donates is determined by his accountant that makes the most of these donations (as deductions) on his tax forms; and I’ll bet he takes advantage of EVERY loophole in the tax code that’s available to him. There’s ABSOLUTELY nothing wrong with doing this; but there IS something wrong with doing it and then espousing socialist beliefs and acting like you’re on the side of poor and middle class Americans- it’s just plain dishonest. All this is nothing more than a ploy to make people like them more which increases the popularity of their shows/projects; which, in turn, puts more money in their pockets and in the pockets of the corporations that produce their shows, projects, events, books, etc.! Have you ever heard any of these folks (or anyone on the left) attack the corporations that produce entertainment (film, professional sports, music, etc) that earn HUNDREDS of millions, and even billions, of dollars annually? How about the outrageous salaries that are paid to movie stars, professional athletes and recording artists that are all made directly off the backs of “average” and poor Americans? Celebrities on the left, and the left in general, love to harp on corporations like oil companies for their “outrageous” profits while their OWN industry makes enormous profits off the poorest Americans seeking an ‘escape’ and while paying entertainers and their own executives salaries that exceed most corporate salaries in the very industries they decry! I’m not saying THEY don’t believe their own hype – I’m sure many of them do and are sincere on some level – but they are deluding themselves and their fans into a belief that they don’t, themselves, live by; and which is basically nothing more than a sales tactic of telling people what they WANT to hear in order to increase their popularity and fan base which, inevitably, lines their own pockets.

Think about it. If these entertainers are SO concerned about the poor, why don’t they donate more of their MULTI million dollar salaries? Do they really need TENS of millions of dollars a year to live comfortably? If they are SO outraged by corporate salaries and bonuses, why do they work so hard to negotiate movie deals, record deals and salaries in the TENS, and sometimes HUNDREDS, of millions of dollars? Where is the public’s outrage at these excessive incomes? I just don’t understand people. Compare a CEO of a oil company that works 16-18 hours a day, 6-7 days a week running a company that employs tens of thousands of people all over the globe and invests billions of dollars in research and exploration with someone who ACTS and looks good in front of a camera; or with someone who runs around a field for an hour a week and works out in a gym all week. WHO WORKS MORE and CONTRIBUTES MORE to society? The CEO gets called a “fat cat” while the actors, musicians and athletes get called “celebrities.” Don’t you see the hypocrisy? Where is the public outrage at celebrity incomes that have gotten completely ridiculous? People complain about a $3.50 gallon of gas like the world is coming to an end and the oil companies are run by Satan himself; but they don’t say a word about the $15 price of a movie ticket and the $20 price tag of a soda, bucket of popcorn and a hot dog inside the theater! THEN, these same people tune in to watch their favorite celebrity ‘school’ them on political issues and social debates.  That’s just crazy.

 We’re facing crisis’ in this country that may well determine whether we continue to be the greatest nation on earth. The decisions we make, as a nation, will determine our’s, our children and grandchildren’s future. We simply can’t afford to remain complacent and lazy (as we have been for generations) and expect things to work out “ok” simply because they always have, until now. The fact that entertainers have found a voice in the political and social debates of our time is a “symptom” of our problem- they’re not the disease. WE have allowed “news” and “entertainment” to merge through our laziness and complacency; and we’ve hidden it behind phrases like “frustration with the status quo,” “my vote doesn’t count” and “I can’t do anything about it.” We USED to get the straight news from real journalists that simply told us what ‘was’ instead of injecting opinion and analysis into everything; and WE (as a nation) made a decision on what to do about it. And we usually made pretty good decisions.  Since we can’t get plain old straight news any more, it’s INCUMBENT on US to each do our due diligence and research BOTH sides of each issue impartially; and to make the HARD decisions, ON OUR OWN, to get our country back on track – even if it’s not the decision we WANT to make or that we LIKE. It’s time we stopped “looking out for #1” and only for, “those we love” and start making decisions for the nation as a WHOLE – even if it hurts us individually or some of those we love or care about. As painful as this will be for all of us, it’s our only hope. Politicians’ pandering to our “wants” and desires instead of only what we “need” (and can ACTUALLY afford) is how we got into this mess. We don’t have that luxury any more if we want to continue to be the great nation we’ve been, despite what the “celebrities” will tell you. What do THEY care, really? They have enough money that they never have to worry about THEIR future, no matter what happens to this country or to the rest of US.

Come on America, WAKE UP! Please stop listening to and watching entertainers who engage in trying to convince you of a particular political or social viewpoint. START doing some OBJECTIVE research of BOTH sides of issues/debates to come up with YOUR OWN position. They may have a clever and humorous way of phrasing something, and they may be nice to look at or admirable in their athletic prowess, but their knowledge, understanding and information about political and social issues is NO more valid than the average American. Getting information from celebrities, or using them as a news source to help you formulate your own stance on an important issue, is like asking a stock boy for investment advice. Sure, you may get lucky once in a while but, if you bet your financial future on it, odds are you’ll end up broke!

If you’re going to hate the rich, then AT LEAST be consistent and focus an equal portion of your hatred at celebrities who actually get paid more FOR LESS than anyone. If you’re going to advocate regulation of corporate salaries, bonuses, profits and pricing for oil companies (and other industries) then also advocate for the same regulation of the entertainment industries! If you do, and these “entertainers” start seeing their own “fat” wallets getting targeted, watch how fast they change their ‘tunes.’ Personally, I’d LOVE to be able to go enjoy a movie for $5 again- like when I was a kid!

How to configure (set up) an Apple Time Capsule to a AT&T 2Wire (2701HG-B) modem/router

Posted in Off-Topic on May 12, 2011 by The Center Shot

I know that this has NOTHING to do with politics, economics, social issues or any other subject I normally talk about; but I had SO much trouble getting my Apple Time Capsule to work with my AT&T 2Wire 2701HG-B router/modem, that I wanted to post how to do it. When I tried to find instructions online, I couldn’t find any and it took me HOURS of time on the phone with AT&T tech support and Apple Tech support to get it done! Neither company was much help until I raised enough ‘cain’ to get the attention of a supervisor- both companies’ tech support departments tried to ‘pass the buck’ to the other company and that didn’t get me anywhere.

I’ll bet there are some other pretty frustrated AT&T DSL customers out their, like me, that were all excited to get their Time Capsule’s up and running; only to get home and find out that they ‘bit off’ more than they anticipated! So, I thought I’d post how we did it in layman’s terms – from one layman to another! This is the part of the configuration process that Apple won’t help you with because they don’t offer “3rd party” support. Since I’m not a “techie” I can’t guarantee this will work for you, and I’m not responsible if it doesn’t, but this is what worked for me – I hope it’ll help you!

Before we get started, though, I want to let you know that the EASIEST way to set up your Time Capsule, if you have a AT&T 2Wire 2701HG-B modem/wireless router is to GET RID OF THE 2Wire unit!  You can buy a AT&T compatible stand-alone DSL modem that’s basically a plug & play solution without having to go through all these steps!  But, if you’re like me, I don’t want to spend the money if I don’t have to!  So, I went through the trouble to get this all figured out.  Plus, I live 1.5 hours from the nearest “Best Buy” and I wanted my internet working TODAY! The decision is yours to make.

OK, here goes…

First of all, you need to understand that in order to connect your Time Capsule to AT&T’s (pain-in-the-rear) 2Wire 2701HG-B router/modem combo, you must disable both the “wireless” and the “router” functions within the 2Wire unit. Apparently, you can’t have two wireless routers connected because they ‘fight’ with each other over connecting to the internet- a battle which neither will win unless you disable one. The Apple Time Capsule is a FAR better wireless router than the 2Wire, so if one of the two has to go, it should be the 2Wire!

Before you make these changes to your router, you will need to call AT&T and get your “Network Password” from them and make sure you know your network username – it’s usually the default email address that AT&T gave you for free when you originally set up your account- something like, “johndoe@att.net” If they give you ANY flack about getting your “Network Password,” tell them that you are disabling both the router and the wireless functions in your 2Wire 2701HG-B and that you will need the AT&T Network Password to configure your Time Capsule!  Your Network Password is usually 3 letters followed by 3 numbers and it’s set by AT&T, not you!  Knowing this will make you sound like you know what you are doing, LOL!

Also, as a note, I already had my computer (MacBook Pro) configured with my Time Capsule to the extent that my computer could ‘see’ the Time Capsule already- I just couldn’t connect to the internet because the 2Wire wouldn’t let the internet pass through to the Time Capsule. These instructions are how to resolve this conflict between the 2Wire 2701HG-B and the Apple Time Capsule.  Even though I had this finished before I resolved this conflict, you can follow the instructions below first, and then walk through the Time Capsule wizard/instructions to set it up. However, IF you choose to do this, you will still need to go into the Time Capsule’s “Manual Setup” to make the appropriate setting changes listed in steps 8 – 10 below.  Either way leads you to the same thing – internet access and joy at owning the best wireless router and backup drive on the market – the Apple Time Capsule!

Here goes…..

Step 1. Log into your 2Wire router by connecting an “ethernet” cable from one of the 4 ports (hint: don’t use the port furthest from the phone line jack) on the back the 2Wire 27101HG-B router to the ethernet port on your computer. Then check to make sure you can connect to the internet using this “wired” connection to the router. You will probably need to disable the wireless feature on your computer so that it’s using the ethernet connection to connect to the 2Wire modem/router and the internet.  To do this on a Mac, you can go to Airport icon at the top right of your screen, click on it and select “Turn Airport Off.” If you can access the intenet, then open up a browser window and enter the following digital address into your browser’s address bar: 192.168.1.254 and hit “enter” on the keyboard. This should bring up the “splash page” (also called the control panel) for the router.Note: you may need to enter a password to actually access this page- this is NOT the same password as your “Network Password” – it’s one you set up when you originally got your 2Wire modem/router! If you don’t remember it, call AT&T tech support and get them to help you reset your modem so that you can create a new password and re-set-up the modem – it’s not hard.

Step 2. Click on the “Home Network” icon at the top of the page – it’s the 3rd image to the left of the AT&T logo!

Step 3. Once the “Home Network” page loads, look at the “Status At A Glance” box on the right hand side of the page and, below that it says, “Home Network” in red. Below this you’ll see the word “Wireless” and a button to the right of “Wireless” that says “Disable”. Note: in the screen shot to the right, you’ll see a button for “Enable” because I’ve already disabled the wireless function on my router. If YOU see the button for “Disable,” CLICK IT!  Once you do, you should see the “Enable” button appear (like in my screen shot) and that’s what you want – the 2Wire is no longer sending out a wireless signal!

Step 4. Next, type he following address into your browser’s address bar: 192.168.1.254/mdc and hit the ‘enter’ key.  This will bring up the “Management and Diagnostic Control” page. *See screen shot to the right* You will most likely need to re-enter your 2Wire password – again, not the same one as your “Network Password!”

Step 5. Click on the “Configure” link on the left-hand side of the page – it’s the last link under the heading, “Broadband Link” near the top of the list. The configure page should load and look like this:

Step 6. You now need to change some of these settings. You can see the proper settings in the screen shot below, but here’s a list

  • VPI: Should be set at 0 (if it isn’t already!)
  • VCI: Should be 35
  • ATM Encapsulation: should be “Bridged LLC
  • ATM PVC Search: should be “Disabled
  • Broadband Connection: should be “Enabled
  • Connection Type: should be “Direct IP (DHCP or Static)”
  • Type in your username, and “Network Password” (that you should have gotten from AT&T before you started!) and confirm the password.  This is the first of 2 times you will need this “Network Password” in the process of setting up your Time Capsule with a 2Wire 2701HG-B router/modem.
  • The rest of the settings on the page should be left alone – let them stay as they are by default.
Scroll down and click  SUBMIT or ‘save settings’ – or whatever the button says (I forget the exact wording) to make the changes you made take effect.

Step 7. Now navigate your way to the “Configure Services” page – look near the bottom of the list on the left hand side of the Management & Diagnostics Console pages you’ve been on for the last couple of steps.  It’s under the heading (in black type) of “Advanced.”  Click this link and wait until the page opens.  Once the page opens, you should see a page that looks like the screenshot to the right and has a heading (in bold black type), “Advanced – Configure Services” and (most likely) there will be a blue ‘check’ mark in the “Enable Routing” box – I circled the box in neon green in the screenshot. This box needs to be UN-checked – in other words, there should NOT be a check in the box!  If there is a check in the box, then your 2Wire will work as a router and we DON’T want that!  Once the box is unchecked (empty, like in the screenshot) click “Submit.”

NOTE:  At this point, if you look at the lights on your 2Wire modem, you should see that the “wireless” light and the “internet” light have gone out.  Don’t worry – this is what you want!  it means that your 2Wire 2701HG-B is now functioning in “bridged” mode and is basically nothing more than a DSL modem. Period.  It’s no longer a wireless router – unless you decide to press the rest button on the back to return it to its default settings!

Step 8. Make sure that your Time Capsule is connected to your 2Wire with a ethernet cable running from the 4th ethernet port (the one furthest from the phone/DSL line port/connection) to the WAN port on the back of the Time Capsule.  It was recommended to me that the 4th port on the 2Wire unit works better- for some mysterious reason!

Note: At this point, you are likely to have a blinking yellow light on the front of your Time Capsule. This means that the Time Capsule still cant reach the internet.  But not to worry- that’s soon to change to green!

Step 9. Turn your wireless capability on your computer back on – On a Mac, that means going to the  “airport” icon at the top right of your screen and select “turn airport on” from the drop-down menu. Then, open your Airport Utility: go to “Spotlight” (the little magnifying glass in the top right corner of your computer screen) and type “airport” and click on “Airport Utility.” 

Step 10. Once the Airport Utility application opens up, click the “Internet” icon at the top of the page (see screen shot below – I circled the “internet icon” in neon green) and make sure that the “Internet Connection” tab is selected or, in other words, is highlighted in blue. Then make the following changes:

  • Connect Using: PPPoE – from the drop-down menu
  • Account Name: Enter your AT&T username (discussed earlier)
  • Password: Enter your AT&T “Network Password” (discussed earlier)
  • Verify Password: Re-enter your AT&T “Network Password”
  • Click “Apply!”
If the light on the front of your Time Capsule is green now, you are ready to go – try an internet search!  If it ISN’T green yet, disconnect the power to your 2Wire modem, the Time Capsule and shut down your computer. Then:
  1. Reconnect the power supply to the 2 Wire modem and wait until it has a chance to fully start up. 2-3 minutes.
  2. Then reconnect the power to your Apple Time Capsule and wait until the light turns green on the front of the unit.
  3. Re-start your computer and, if you followed these instructions, you should be able to surf the internet!  Enjoy!
I hope these instructions help someone! I tried to make them as dummy-proof because that’s what I need!  I’m no computer expert and I don’t really understand what all this means, but I know it worked and I’m posting this through my Apple Time Capsule, my 2Wire 2701HG-B and my AT&T DSL line!
If nothing else, these instructions will give you what you need to demand help from an Apple or AT&T tech support person- if you spend enough time with either department on the phone, you WILL find someone that can help you with this.  I just hope this helps YOU avoid those hours I spent on the phone to get these steps figured out!
Now, back to our regularly-scheduled socio-political commentary!  Please excuse this diversion.

Pakistan has a lot of explaining to do!

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on May 2, 2011 by The Center Shot

As joyous an occasion as today is, with the news that Usama Bin-Laden has been killed in Pakistan by US Special Operations Command operatives, it is very disturbing that Bin-Laden has been hiding under the nose of the Pakistan military! Abbottabad is the home and headquarters of Pakistan’s 2nd Division of the Northern Army Corps- one of the biggest divisions in the Pakistani Army; and is located only 38 miles from Islamabad, the capital of Pakistan.

For years we have been led to believe, largely by the Pakistani military and Pakistani Inter-Service Intelligence (ISI), that Bin-Laden was hiding in an isolated region in the mountains of Afghanistan and Pakistan, probably in a cave. As it turns out, he had been living in a large custom-built (5 years ago) compound with 18 foot high walls topped with barbed wire, designed to protect a high-value target like Usama Bin-Laden.Even the White House has described the compound as a “unique structure that does not match any of the homes in the area.” There is no conceivable way that his presence in Abbottabad was NOT known by members of the Pakistani Military and the Pakistani ISI.

The fact that President Obama and the US Special Operations Command initiated the operation to capture or kill Bin-Laden from Afghanistan and without any notification to the Pakistani government, makes it clear that the US government realizes that we can not trust the Pakistani government and their military; and that there was a serious risk that, had they notified Pakistan of the operation, Bin-Laden would have been tipped off and, likely, been able to escape! How many years ago might we have been able to capture or kill this monster, had our “partners” in Pakistan not been helping Bin-Laden to hide?

These facts call into serious question, the billions of dollars in funding that we have given Pakistan over the past 10 years because of their supposed assistance in the “war on terror.” Why have we been funding a country and a military that is not truly our ally? I don’t mean to imply that the entire Pakistani government has been working against our efforts; but it’s clear that Bin-Laden has enjoyed the protection of the Pakistan at some of the highest levels of their government, military and intelligence apparatus. Without such help, there is no way he would have been able to hide in such plain sight.

Even if those people who aided Bin-Laden comprise a small faction within the Pakistani government, it is unacceptable; and there is no way that this double-cross was not known (or at least suspected) within the rest of the Pakistani government. These fears have been expressed by many people here in the US for years but have always been down-played by the US government (at least publicly) in order to maintain whatever “assistance” we could get from Pakistan. Now the question must be asked: at what cost and to what end? In the end, the killing of Usama Bin-Laden was, primarily, the result of US intelligence with very little assistance from Pakistan and there is good reason to suspect that many US lives and billions of taxpayer dollars have been wasted chasing fairy tales and lies cooked up by elements within the Pakistani government!

Once the celebration over the death of Usama Bin-Laden is finished, there need to be some hard questions asked of Pakistan and some real answers need to be required. Congress should launch a serious and detailed investigation into Pakistan and determine whether we have wasted our lives and money supporting the Pakistani government. If the evidence shows that Pakistan has been accepting US assistance and, at the same time, shielding Bin-Laden, they MUST be held to task for this double-cross. There is no sense in continuing our relationship with Pakistan, as it currently exists, if they are not truly united in their desire to eliminate terrorism and to stop their country from being used as a haven for terrorists.

We have long been told, and we’ve hung to the belief, that “most” Pakistani’s want ‘freedom’ and ‘democracy’ and that they disavow radical Islam. Unfortunately, as we watch the reaction to Bin-Laden’s death in Pakistan, the protests on the street paint a very different picture. Even if it’s not a majority of Pakistani’s citizens sympathizing with, or openly supporting radical Islam, it’s certainly too many of them. Considering the $18.6 billion we’ve shelled out to Pakistan ($3 billion more last year!), I don’t think it’s unreasonable to expect a majority of the Pakistan population to be both grateful and supportive of the US effort. If they’re not so inclined, I think it’s time we formulate another approach to dealing with Pakistan.

This is, apparently, what $18.6 billion taxpayer money buys us!

Pakistani's protest killing of Usama Bin-Laden

Pakistan has been ‘milking’ the American taxpayer for too long. It’s time that we put some actual strings onto any future support that we give Pakistan and that we require solid and concrete positive results for our money. At a time when we are dealing with a financial crisis unlike anything since the Great Depression at home, we simply aren’t in a position to throw good money after bad and support a country that seems to support our enemy at least as much as they support us. What is wrong with demanding results and imposing performance-based aid packages. Let Pakistan earn our gifts instead of giving them away and hoping that we get something worthwhile in return.

Usama Bin-Laden Dead – Thanks to our Special Operations Command and Intelligence Community!

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on May 2, 2011 by The Center Shot

I want to send out a personal “Thank You & God Bless You” to our Special Operations Command and it’s brave operators; as well as to the entire intelligence community for their tireless, and often thankless, efforts to locate and eliminate this scourge! Job well done! I wish that we could thank the team members directly but I doubt we will know their names for a long time, if ever- understandably. If anyone want’s to thank them, one great way to do that is to donate to the Special Operations Warrior Foundation.

Gary Johnson – a unique GOP/Republican Presidential candidate

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on April 24, 2011 by The Center Shot

Former New Mexico Governor Gary Johnson (R) announced his candidacy for President today and, on it’s face, I think he makes an interesting option- one I want to take a close look at. One of the things that the conservative movement, and the Republican Party in particular, has been lacking is an appeal to independent and ‘middle of the road’ voters. Johnson’s positions on abortion and the legalization of marijuana, while sure to be unpopular with traditional Republican voters (particularly the anti-aborion faction and staunch proponents of the “war of drugs”), I think that he may appeal to independent voters and conservative Democrats looking for a more tempered Republican choice in 2012.

Despite what many staunch conservatives will surely intimate about him, Gov. Johnson is not “Pro Abortion.” While he does support the existence of abortion as one available option, he openly apposes late-term abortions; and made it clear, as Governor of NM, that he would sign a law banning them. Johnson also supports parental notification in cases of girls under 18 seeking an abortion and he supports counseling to make all the alternatives (to abortion) clear to young women contemplating an abortion. In addition, Gov. Johnson stated that he opposes federal funding for abortion and groups like Planned Parenthood. While Johnson supports the legalization, regulation and taxation of marijuana (just like alcohol), he opposes any notion of legalizing any ‘hard’ drugs, saying, “their use should be dealt with as a health issue – not a criminal justice issue.”

As much as I abhor abortion and drug abuse (with its social consequences), I also believe that our nation was founded on, and made great by, the freedom to make personal choices and personal responsibility- a.k.a. the necessity of dealing with the consequences of our personal choices and actions. Furthermore, I believe that both abortion (or the lack of abortion) and what we ingest falls under the realm of personal choice. Just as I don’t believe the government has the right to tell me what kind of healthcare I need to choose (or that I must choose to buy health insurance, for that matter), what kind of lightbulbs I can buy, whether ethanol should be in gasoline, etc. I wouldn’t have supported prohibition in the 1920’s and early 1930’s and I see the “war on drugs” as a repeat of that failed social experiment, with even more catastrophic economic and social effects than we saw from the prohibition of alcohol in the early part of the 20th Century.

I understand that both of these subjects elicit a lot of strong emotions from a lot of conservatives. However, I think making these two issues into political issues is a hypocrisy for a group of people who claim to believe in the US Constitution and it’s strict application. We “Constitutional Conservatives” decry and rail against the liberal manipulation of the Constitution’s wording to justify the expansion of the government’s power and its attack on personal freedoms. But, when it suits us and our personal beliefs, conservatives fall back on the same erroneous, and hypocritical, connivance! It’s time we game to grips with the ideas that we can not impose our own personal ideologies (especially when it comes to personal choice) onto people and that, by attempting to do so, we are driving away people who would otherwise vote (and work) with us to fix national problems that effect us all- things like the economy, government size and fiscal responsibility, etc! We, as opponents of abortion and drug use can combat both moral issues as such; without making them political issues. If we don’t, we will continue to get hung up on these issues that are, in reality, moral issues rather than political ones; and the consequence will be that we continue to drive away allies on the issues that can and should be solved through the political process. Is it worth sacrificing potential solutions on 90% of issues because of a staunch and unbending position on the other 10%- especially when they aren’t even, really, political issues? I don’t think so. And, even if you do- is it worth sacrificing all the things we could potentially accomplish, to repair and improve our nation and our economy, to continue including moral issues in the political process?

I don’t know if Gary Johnson will be a significant candidate or whether his policies will pan out to make fiscal sense. Only time will tell. There is little rational argument that legalizing, regulating and taxing marijuana would be a economic improvement over the current situation that costs us billions of federal dollars annually ($15.1 billion in 2010 – US ONDCP) plus untold billions more for litigation and imprisonment, results in nearly a million Americans arrested on marijuana charges annually, creates and fuels a black market and organized crime, and an enormous potential tax revenue on an estimated annual $36 billion dollar US industry. Most of Johnson’s beliefs are right on line with most republican/conservative/Tea Party supporters, with these two exceptions.

I fear that these two exceptions may preclude man conservative voters from even taking a logical and rational look at Johnson as a serious contender. Unfortunately, though, I think this sort of biased and rush-to-judgement thinking will only perpetuate the status-quo. If we don’t begin to do things differently, start sticking to the constitution and stop trying to delve into morality through politics, conservatives will remain in the minority and the sensibility of our ideals and goals will be (once again) so diluted by the (inappropriate) moral debate, that we will not be able to effect the change that our nation so desperately needs! We can engage these moral issues in other venues (churches, community outreach, private organizations, etc.) but keep it out of our political discourse, where it doesn’t belong and is only hurting our cause- a return to personal freedom and choice, a return to personal responsibility and a smaller, less intrusive and fiscally responsible government!

Sorry for the delay!

Posted in Uncategorized on March 17, 2011 by The Center Shot

Sorry for not posting anything lately- my laptop was stolen and I’m waiting for the replacement to arrive! Composing and posting a commentary from an iPhone is extremely difficult. The new computer should be here by Wednesday, next week. Apple isn’t shipping as fast as they were last fall!

Plus, I’ve been glued to coverage of the trifecta disaster in Japan and conditions have been changing almost faster than a person could write!

Again, my apologies!