Philosophical Ranting

Global Warming. Islamic Radical Terrorism. National Health Care. The 2008 Presidential Elections. Illegal Immigration. The Inner Workings of Government.

How much of the above really concerns the common person? In many respects, none of it.

What?!?!?!?

According to the Media, Scientists, & Politicians, all of the above is important.

Perhaps it’s the cynic in me, but I don’t think that the common person really gives a rat’s behind about if the polar bears have a place to live, terrorists are blowing each other up “over there,” another illegal crosses the border, or what Government does behind closed doors (or open ones, for that matter). Yeah, for the time being, the common man is concerned about the elections and if government is going to take care of the “health care crisis,” but that’s only until the election is over. Then it’s back to whatever is considered “normal.”

Why, you may ask? Here’s the answer – The common person is concerned with the roof over their head, food in the tummy, a job that will pay for the roof and the food, and what’s on television for the night. Yeah, I’m cynical all right…

Many of the readers of this blog identify themselves with the common person. Ask yourself these questions from a realistic standpoint – Does the common person actively seek out the story behind the story, and do they really dig down into the details? Or do they go about their daily business trying to make ends meet, and just take for granted what is going on around them is for their own good?

Sounds like a choice between taking the red pill or the blue pill…

Ignorance is bliss only in the short term. In the long term, the consequences of ignorance will come back to haunt us with a vengeance. For instance:

The 2008 Presidential Elections (Primary Edition) is interesting on the Democratic side as it is ho-hum on the Republican side. The Dems are mudslinging like crazy, playing every card in the deck to gain an advantage over their opponent. The Republicans are running on the issues with a little mud on the side, which isn’t making hardly any news nor is it really putting forth what is on their menu. With the Media promoting the Democrat’s Liberal / Socialistic agenda and ignoring the Republican’s conservative message (except for the lone RINO in the group), the Media is playing kingmaker, hoping that the public sheep will follow them to the Liberal pasture of plenty. This could have some catastrophic consequences.

Depending on who is elected, your taxes would go up a little or a lot to pay for “free” health care. National defense may or may not protect United States citizens and property worldwide from terrorist attacks (probably not the way the Liberals are talking). The borders would not only be open but the illegals coming across the borders would be welcomed with open arms and amnesty. The continued prosecution against Islamic terrorist organizations would be doubtful, especially since everyone should now take mandatory diversity training to “help us understand them” while they are cutting our heads off. And let’s not forget about the movements to “go green” which will most likely cost everyone money in the good intentioned but doubtful reversal of Global Warming. Of course, Government will be doing all of this at the behest of a Liberal President “to help you.” I think Ronald Reagan said it best,

The most terrifying words in the English language are: I’m from the government and I’m here to help.

And what is the real cost? The most priceless of all – the freedoms & rights guaranteed by the Constitution legislated away by power-hungry politicians and ignored by a populace more interested in American Idol & Britney Spear’s antics. Don’t believe me? Just read a previous post for just the tip of the iceberg on the most valuable right we have under the Constitution – Free Speech.

Of course, this is just the tip of the iceberg, and I could just keep on ranting. But the point is that the media, our politicians, and various power brokers are shaping and forming our opinions for us.

Yeah, I’m cynical… Just don’t call me paranoid, because I already know the world is out to get me…

More Cutting to Profitability?

Excerpts from the Associated Press as reported by MSNBC:

Chrysler LLC is offering buyouts of up to $100,000 to hourly workers at 11 of its U.S. facilities as part of its goal to cut up to 21,000 manufacturing jobs, or nearly half its U.S. hourly work force, a company spokeswoman said Monday.

Chrysler has approximately 45,000 UAW-represented hourly workers.
Chrysler is in the midst of a restructuring after a majority stake in the automaker was sold last summer to private equity firm Cerberus Capital Management LP. The auto company announced in November it planned to cut up to 12,000 jobs, including 8,000 to 10,000 hourly and 2,000 salaried jobs.
The cuts came in addition to 13,000 layoffs Chrysler announced last February, including 11,000 hourly and 2,000 salaried workers. Around 6,400 hourly workers had left the company under than program as of June, Tinson said, but additional retirement packages could be rolled out under that program, which was scheduled to run through 2009.

Ford Motor Co. and General Motors Corp. are offering similar buyouts and early retirement packages to cut costs and reduce production capacity to match sagging U.S. demand.
On Thursday, Ford announced it will offer buyouts to all of its 54,000 UAW-represented employees.

GM has offered early retirement packages and buyouts to 5,200 UAW hourly workers at service and parts operations but has yet to make similar offers to workers in assembly and parts plants. GM is close to agreeing with the UAW on the second round of buyouts and hopes to announce details next month, GM spokesman Dan Flores said. Once the second round is announced, the buyouts are expected to cover 46,000 workers.

Not what the state of Michigan really needed to hear. More cuts, more people out of work looking for jobs in an economy that is the worst in the nation. On top of that, the housing market is so bad that people can’t afford to leave the state to find jobs.

Just a really, really bad situation.

Free Speech

We, the citizens of the United States, should not take our First Amendment Rights to Free Speech for granted. Citizens in other countries do not have the freedoms that we enjoy on a day by day basis.

For instance, there is the case of a blogger with the name of Lionheart from the United Kingdom. Always on Watch has the details on her website, Lionheart states his case here, and there is a two-hour web cast on Blog Talk Radio in which there is a discussion of the incident with Lionheart. To recap the situation and interview:

  • Lionheart published photos & material on his blog dealing with Islamic terrorist involvement in drug-related activities in England. (It should be noted that Time Magazine published a report on the same activity in 2001.)
  • As an indirect result of the blog entries, the authorities in the UK have issued a warrant for his arrest, supposedly citing hate crime laws in “stirring up racial hatred” against Islamic people. However, a formal charging has not happened, and will not happen until he is arrested.
  • During the interview, Lionheart was understandably upset, especially when questioned by a caller for the details of the situation. He interrupted the caller constantly, which didn’t help his case. But then, considering everything he is going through, I’m not sure if I would have handled the situation any better.

Here is the problem with hate crime laws – they are subject to what someone finds objectionable to their race, religion, and/or belief system. In other words, there are no absolute standards or limits to what these laws could eventually cover. Where this could eventually lead is a suppression of our ability to voice our opinions for fear of being charged with a hate crime. Freedom of speech now becomes a casualty of “political correctness” and “hate crime” laws.

And now this is leading to censorship of you and I, the private citizen, of what we think, say, and write as well as the Media at large. Lionheart’s case is not the first nor do I think it will be the last. And if taken to the extremes, will severely impact what we write in our blogs.

Recently, I found a deal with an internet provider that would supply a free domain and site for life for a one-time price. Here are the two catches: The provider is located in Canada, and their terms of service include the following:

XYZ’s hosting service may only be used for lawful purposes. Transmission of any material in violation of any Federal, Provincial or local regulation is prohibited. This includes, but is not limited to copyrighted material, material legally judged to be threatening or obscene, or material protected by trade secret.

XYZ has the right to refuse to host adult content and to remove it from our servers at any time. Further, you are not permitted to distribute material promoting hatred against individuals or groups or any content which may be deemed to be illegal according to the laws of your country of residence.

THIS AGREEMENT SHALL BE GOVERNED BY AND INTERPRETED AND ENFORCED IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE LAWS OF PROVINCE OF QUEBEC AND THE FEDERAL LAWS OF CANADA APPLICABLE THEREIN WITHOUT REFERENCE TO RULES GOVERNING CHOICE OF LAWS. ANY ACTION RELATING TO THIS AGREEMENT MUST BE BROUGHT IN QUEBEC AND YOU IRREVOCABLY CONSENT TO THE JURISDICTION OF SUCH COURTS.

OK, so that means if I write something that pisses someone off enough that they believe I have violated a hate law, I could not only lose my site but potentially be prosecuted internationally. Considering that there is at least one province in Canada that considered adopting Sharia law into their civil legal system, it is almost asking for it if I write something about Islam and posted it on a server located in Canada in that province. I have enough problems keeping track of this country’s laws, and who knows where Canada is headed with their hate crime statutes. No thanks, I don’t need anymore headaches than I already have…

Let’s step away for the moment to just check on the status of the freedom of the media worldwide. The media in various countries, when not restricted by their government, impose upon themselves censorship. The perfect example of this is the now infamous Mohammed cartoons.

Some European papers as well as some US papers feared publishing the cartoons for fear of inciting violence among the Muslim population. And yet these same papers have no qualms about publishing a less than complementary cartoon of Jesus Christ. According to my belief system, such a depiction is objectionable, and could even be considered hateful. What’s the difference? In a perfect world, absolutely none! In this imperfect world, whoever files the most lawsuits and generally screams the loudest is the winner.

Coming back the United States, our Freedom of Speech is also being curtailed, although not evenly through the various groups. For instance:

The KKK and other white supremacist groups are often called hate groups because of their beliefs and speech. But when Louis Farrakhan makes a public speech along the same racial lines (although reversed in color), no one ever seems to call neither his speech hateful nor his organization a hate group. Why?

In short – politics.

Who has the greater influence on elections? Who must the politicians pander to in order to be elected? Last, who makes the laws that we must follow?

The result is that hate crime legislation and the enforcement thereof is written to protect certain groups. And now our country has slid further down the slippery slope of where the law by the people & for the people is not protecting all of the people. Of course, this is facilitated by the ever changing Political Correctness crowd.

So now Islamic radicals, thinly veiled Black hate groups, and other vocal militant groups that wield political, financial, and physical power are claiming protection under Free Speech statutes as they are spreading their hatred while also claiming being the victims of hate crimes. Our Media and politicians allow this to happen without challenge because it is the easiest path to follow and often fits their Liberal agendas.

The barbarians are not at the gates, they are through the gates and in the city…

Soon, the common person like you and I will not be able to voice our opinions without being labeled a bigot, racist, or hate-monger. And in some respects, we already have.

Many of us who have posted blogs have been called the above and more by the people visiting and commenting on our sites. Some we will edit, others we will delete, and the rest we will leave just to prove the person commenting is an idiot. Nonetheless, the seeds are being planted of where it will be extremely uncomfortable to voice or write our opinions from a legal standpoint.  But there is hope on the horizon.

There is a resource for the blogger from the Electronic Frontier Foundation. From their website:

EFF’s goal is to give you a basic roadmap to the legal issues you may confront as a blogger, to let you know you have rights, and to encourage you to blog freely with the knowledge that your legitimate speech is protected.

To that end, we have created the Legal Guide for Bloggers, a collection of blogger-specific FAQs addressing everything from fair use to defamation law to workplace whistle-blowing.

Yes, we have the Right to Free Speech and resources to fight those who want to restrict that right. But for how long? I’ll leave you with this quote from Voltaire (1694 – 1778):

I do not agree with what you have to say, but I’ll defend to the death your right to say it.

Delegate Counts for 1/22/08

Found this over at Real Clear Politics:

Democrat Delegate Count:

State Delegates   Clinton Obama Edwards
Total   236 152 50
 
Super Delegates 463   200 114 32
 
Iowa 57   15 16 14
 
New Hampshire 30   9 9 4
 
Michigan 0 *  
 
Nevada 33   12 13
 
2,025 Delegates Needed to Win (Delegate Counts Come From AP, Wash Post, ABC News & RCP)

Republican Delegate Count:

State Delegates   Romney Huckabee McCain Thompson Paul Giuliani
Total   59 40 36 5 4 1
 
Unpledged RNC 0  
 
Iowa 40   7 30
 
Wyoming 14 *   8 3
 
New Hampshire 12 *   4 1 7
 
Michigan 30 *   23 1 6
 
Nevada 34   17 3 4 2 4 1
 
South Carolina 24 *   5 19
 
1,191 Delegates Needed to Win (Delegate Counts Come From AP, Wash Post, ABC News & RCP)

The interesting thing about the Democrats is the “Super Delegates,” who are not selected by the voters. From MSNBC:

Voters don’t choose the 842 unpledged “super-delegates” who comprise nearly 40 percent of the number of delegates needed to clinch the Democratic nomination.

The category includes Democratic governors and members of Congress, former presidents Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter, former vice president Al Gore, retired congressional leaders such as Dick Gephardt, and all Democratic National Committee members, some of whom are appointed by party chairman Howard Dean.

Although dubbed “unpledged” in Democratic Party lingo, the super-delegates are free to come out before their state’s primary and pledge to support one of the presidential contenders.

So the voters have 60% of the say, but in the tight contests that the Democrats have between the top three contenders, it now is going to boil down to who owes whom the most favors (or who has the most dirt on a delegate), or who has the fewest skeletons in their closet. And that could lead to someone that the voters really don’t want.

On the Republican side, Fred Thompson announced today that he was withdrawing from the race for the Republican nomination for President. Where Thompson’s delegates will go is not known at this time.

The winning Democratic candidate needs 2,025 delegates to secure the nomination, the Republican candidate needs 1,191 delegates.

Ain’t politics wonderful?

The Icecaps Are Melting! The Icecaps Are Melting!

We’ve heard different news reports that the icecaps are melting, and polar bears, walruses, seals, and penguins are soon going to be homeless unless we, the evil human race, cease and desist our way of life (i.e, breathing).  Yes, we are to blame, so say the eco-nuts, but are we?  Excerpts from Mirror.co.uk and the International Herald Tribune:

Another factor might be contributing to the thinning of some of the Antarctica’s glaciers: volcanoes.

Scientists have discovered a huge active volcano under Antarctica.

The volcano in the West Antarctic ice sheet last erupted 2,000 years ago but may still be helping to melt the ice sheet and speed up sea level rises.

Radar used by the British Antarctic Survey has revealed a layer of ash produced by the volcano, which extends across an area bigger than Wales.

In an article published Sunday on the Web site of the journal Nature Geoscience, Hugh Corr and David Vaughan of the British Antarctic Survey report the identification of a layer of volcanic ash and glass shards frozen within an ice sheet in western Antarctica.

Hugh Corr, author of a report on the volcano, said its previous eruption was the biggest in Antarctica for 10,000 years.

He said: “It blew a substantial hole in the ice sheet and generated a plume of ash and gas that rose 10km into the air.”

“This is the first time we have seen a volcano beneath the ice sheet punch a hole through the ice sheet” in Antarctica, Vaughan said.

Volcanic heat could still be melting ice to water and contributing to thinning and speeding up of the Pine Island glacier, which passes nearby, but Vaughan said he doubted that it could be affecting other glaciers in western Antarctica, which have also thinned in recent years. Most glaciologists, including Vaughan, say that warmer ocean water is the primary cause of thinning.

Hat tip to the Mad Pigeon and Blue Crab Boulevard on this one.