July 4, 1863 4

Declaration of Independence

Declaration of Independence

The Declaration of Independence was adopted on July 4, 1776. This was one of the most important days in the history of the United States. On this date the British colonies came together in North America to declare their separation from Britain, and to form their own country. Brave men signed the Declaration pledging their lives, fortunes, and sacred honor to that union.

Four score and seven years later, the nation would experience July 4, 1863 as another important date in the history of the nation. This is the day that few people associate with the Civil War, the most vulnerable time in history for our country.

In 1863 there were two separate theaters of the Civil War being contested. In the western theater General Ulysses S Grant was occupied with trying to take the veritable fortress of Vicksburg, Mississippi. This seemingly  backwater town on the Mississippi River held the key to the control of the lower Mississippi River, and thus the ability of the Confederate government to supply its armies and populations with many foodstuffs.

In the eastern theater confederate General Robert E Lee was racing up through Maryland and Pennsylvania, terrifying the Union countryside and President Abraham Lincoln himself. This was the first incursion of a large Confederate army into the northern states. General Lee was coming off a successful year of defeating Union armies, the last battle of which had been Chancellorsville. If Lee could successfully defeat the Union army chasing him, he could possibly achieve a negotiated settlement to the war.

The western theater conflict was at Vicksburg, and in the eastern theater, the Confederate army stumbled on the Union army under Meade at Gettysburg, PA. The fight at Vicksburg had been going on for months, and the fight at Gettysburg lasted for three days. Both conflicts ended in important defeats for the Confederates.

On July 4, 1863 General Robert E Lee left the Gettysburg battlefield in defeat. This was his first major defeat, and history judges that the Confederacy reached its high water mark at that losing battle.

On July 4, 1863 General Pemberton surrendered his Confederate army at The Siege of Vicksburg to General Ulysses S Grant.

With these two momentous Union victories, the end of the Confederacy was made certain. It took two more years before General Lee surrendered to General Grant at Appomattox.

July 4 marks the beginnings of our country, and the salvation of our country.

The Right To Do Business 10

If you run a bakery should you have to do business with everybody? If you are in any kind of business should you be forced to do business with everybody in spite of your reasons for refusing that business?

This seems to be the basic issue with the recent gay marriage couple suing a bakery for refusing to furnish a wedding cake to their recently legalized union. The bakery in Lakewood, Colorado was determined to have unlawfully refused to do business with the gay couple.

What a mess!

First of all, I would like to temporarily remove the notions of race, gender, or sexual orientation from the basic issue. The issue is fundamental to our rights in this country. One of our coveted rights is our ability to buy whatever we want from any merchant we choose. Once again, this is fundamental.

For the same reason, don’t you think there is a similar freedom for merchants to be able to choose those to whom they will market their goods?

Discrimination, you say? Of course it is discrimination. Having the latitude to discriminate about your decisions encompasses the whole definition of freedom, and therefore is the basis of our Constitution.

So, here we go. Why should not the bakery not be able to choose the people with whom they do business? Certainly, their proposed gay customers had the choice of dozens of bakeries to do their wedding cake. Why is one side of the transaction process handcuffed by  law, and the other not have similar restrictions?

My answer is that the bakery had to have a local business license to do business with the general public. That’s the rub right there. A license to do business with the general public necessitates the condition that you must do business with the whole of that public, and you cannot discriminate in which customers to serve.

The basic question is this. If you are in a business that sells to the general public should you be forced into doing business with that entire public?  Is the notion of “No Shirt – No Shoes – No Service” a constitutionally legal position? The ideas are related.

Why do we not have the right to discriminate among those with whom we do business? What do you think?

 

Don’t Mess With Texas! 16

Once upon a time, I was exiled to Texas much as the Children of Israel were exiled to Babylon. At least it felt that way.

Actually, I moved to Houston, Texas in the early 1970’s for my job, and have never regretted the move. While in Texas, I found opportunities you could not find in other states. I was an engineer turned salesman, and my wife was a certified teacher. Both of us found educational opportunities to be abundant in Texas, with very good universities both public and private. We both earned our masters degrees while in Texas while starting a family, and maturing as adults.

Most of all, I was impressed with attitudes in Texas. People that have not lived there simply don’t understand the attitudes and ways of life in the Lone Star state. Because of their history, Texans are passionate about their liberty, and look with jaundiced eye at those who talk about increasing taxes, making more laws, or to tell them how to live their lives.

When a business person in Texas wants to start a business, they just do it. Governmental interference is at a minimum. Some people think that Governor Greg Abbott is trying some sort of wild political maneuver by investigating the US Government’s military activities in his state. You have to understand that the US Government has almost deserted the Texas/Mexican border. The governor has had to supplement border defences to great cost to the state.

Governor Greg Abbott does not trust Barack Obama, because Obama has removed all trust and recognition of a state’s right to defend itself from interlopers. On most issues from climate change to health care,  to guarding our borders, Washington has shown itself capable of doing the wrong thing, and shoving bad programs down the throats of Americans. Whatever is going on with the Federal Government should be taken with a big dose of skepticism.

Now, we read of a shooting in Garland, Texas (a Dallas suburb) at an event advertising a prize for the best cartoon of Muhammad. Islamists were in a rage over the event. but notice that the two attackers were killed by just one Texas policeman. The terrorists opened fire with assault rifles, but the cop was ready, He shot and killed both terrorists.

That’s the Texas I am talking about. Texans are fiercely independent and freedom loving. The only really liberal areas of Texas outside of a few Dallas ‘burbs is Austin, Texas. Austin is a bastion of liberal ignorance and arrogance. Remember that the Democrat Travis County Prosecutor tried for years to get Tom DeLay in jail for some trumped up charges, and spent millions of the county dollars trying the case. It was eventually overturned.

So, if you are looking for a state with deep traditions based on individual freedom, you are talking about Texas. Guns, and defending free speech, are not bad things in the Lone Star State.

The End Is Nigh, Losers! 17

Yesterday, I got this terrible feeling that the end was near. It was like I wanted to get one of those sandwich-board signs and advertise this emotion in downtown Atlanta. Nobody would pay attention, but at the least I would be warning the world of the coming catastrophe.

Leaving the imagined catastrophes to the alarmist climate dupes, I thought about writing a short science fiction story of how things were going wrong, and how we are all hearing voices of doom. Then, reality hit me.

What is coming to an end is the American dream.

I am living the dream, as millions and millions of others. When I was a kid, my American dream was learning enough stuff in school to get a good job. Then, I could leverage the good job to get a good house and a good car. Somehow, the great looking wife and kids would just naturally fall into place.

Be that as it may, it has all worked out. At the basis of my American dream was the idea that I could work hard and achieve my dreams. That’s how I did it. Millions of men and women have made that dream work. So, how is this coming to an end?

My dream is not the dream of millions of others. Their idea of the dream embodies not work, but free government services like health care, generous and unlimited unemployment compensation, free food, etc., etc., etc. Some people want everything without working for it.

In some cases I agree that we need to take care of some people from cradle to grave. My Down syndrome niece is one example. Private charities can only go so far in helping families cope with Down syndrome or other disabled children.

Those with poorly paying jobs at the bottom of the pay scale have a different American dream. They just want stuff. Many are not capable of rising through the ranks to hold good paying jobs. I don’t know what can be done for these people other than keeping the economy vibrant and healthy so that these people can have jobs. Just giving people stuff should not be the goal for any society.

With the advance of technology, things don’t look so good for the welfare child. How can this child, born into a single parent household and supported by welfare even try to compete in the economy?  It is not a problem of race or politics. It is cultural problem. It is a problem of differing values and goals as more people chose welfare as their way of life.

Those with solid values and lofty goals tend to work toward those goals. Those without values and goals tend to not work for anything except survival. Since they can get a welfare check, they depend on everybody else for their survival.

Is the American dream ending, or just changing? I was fortunate to have been born into a stable family, and have a father with a serious work ethic. Our welfare children are cheated out of these basic sociological aids.

The welfare culture is a culture of losers. The larger the welfare rolls get, the harder the American dream becomes for those at the bottom.

We are turning into a nation of losers.

FCC Net Neutrality 15

How does the recent FCC Net Neutrality ruling affect us? It affects our basic internet connectivity, what we pay, and who sets the price. With this ruling the Federal Government is now regulating the largest and most innovative platform in centuries.

It is pretty much guaranteed that the cost of our individual internet will increase because of the ruling.

The ruling puts ISP’s (Internet Service Providers) into the same regulatory framework as telephone companies, which laws have root in the Communications Act of 1934. Yes, we now have our grandfather’s rules to stifle the internet just like they did telephone innovation for over fifty years.

The internet infrastructure is financed by large companies who invest hundreds of millions of dollars in building and upgrading the system. ISP’s like ATT, Earthlink, Sprint, Verizon, etc. make these huge investments, and get a return by selling connectivity to consumers, businesses, and content providers. Some of these content providers use large amounts of bandwidth by streaming movies and program content to individual consumers, and right now, these customers are not really paying for the bandwidth they receive.

Companies like Netflix, Amazon, and Hulu are the ones streaming high bandwidth video over the internet, posing a problem for the internet suppliers. ISP’s have to invest additional millions of dollars in upgrading the system, and would like to charge the Netflix’s of the world for that bandwidth.

Some ISP’s have penalized Netflix and other video streamers by slowing the data streams to their customers. This has raised a howl from Netflix, etc. To pay for the increased demand for their services, Netflix, Amazon, Hulu, etc., do not want want to raise their price to consumers because they, too, are in a competitive market.

That’s where the government comes in to “take the part of the consumer”. Now, the ISP’s are not allowed to treat any one customer differently from any other. Every customer on the internet is entitled to the same bandwidth as any other customer for the same price. This means that the ISP’s will raise their prices on everybody to pay for the increased investment, and we all will pay for the bandwidth for people addicted to Netflix and Amazon streaming services.

There is a danger the ISP’s will dig-in and not fund the massive investments necessary to upgrade the internet to handle all that streaming traffic. Innovation can plummet just like when the US  Government backed the AT&T telephone monopoly for over fifty years.

Do you think there will be additional “fees” on your internet statement, now that the Federal Government has decided to regulate what we read, think, say, and pay?

Left alone, the market would solve the problem. People would pay for their movie watching thrills, and others would pay for the bandwidth they use and generate. For some reason the government does not like that.

Net Neutrality is not neutral. It is an attack on the freedom of the internet to give away services to those who do not want to pay. Does this sound familiar?

Plato’s Cave 7

Before I use intellectual shock and awe on people, let me say that I learned of this story through listening to an Audible book, “The Joy of Ancient History” by a whole bunch of historian type scholars. I would like to think that I am a good listener.

picture of Greek theater mask from wikipedia

Wikipedia Greek Theater Mask
Tragedy or Comedy?

The Cave Allegory is all about the difference between seeing the world in a cave, shackled so that you can only see shadows on the wall, versus being brought to the surface to discover a different world in bright sunlight.

My father’s allegory was pretty similar. It involved a country boy on his first trip out of the backwoods, trying to buy a cup of coffee and a piece of pie at the Greyhound bus station lunch-counter. When asked what kind of pie he wanted, the country boy replied, ” I didn’t know there was anything other than sweet potato pie.”

In both cases people found themselves in a different world than the one in which they were trained. Suddenly, what they had learned was no longer relevant, and they were assaulted with new truths.

The Plato thing is supposed to be a commentary on education, and how we let our educations dominate our view of the world whether or not these views are valid. Indeed, how do we know that our new sunshine experience is not more of the figurative shadows on the wall?

The world is what it is. The world exists in all its physical glory whether or not our philosophy agrees. The aspirations of people are the same all over the world. The basics of economics are not overthrown by religion, politics, or schoolboy ideas.

From what cave did Barack Obama appear? What did he have as his shadows on the wall in his education and raising? His mother’s generation were hippies. His fathers’ families were Muslim, socialist, and tribal.

Obama’s college education was cave-like at Ivy League schools. What? Ivy League being compared to a cave?  Yup! As long as liberal, Ivy League professors keep running off the tracks in their archaic, nineteenth century political philosophies, they are in their own figurative caves. Impressionable kids like Barack Obama learn bad history, bad economics, and bad social theory. We are way past the time of Marx and his crowd.

Sometimes we just want to tell Obama to go back to his little cave and leave thinking people alone. I don’t think he ever came out of his cave into the intellectual sunshine, and there is no chance he ever will.

The World Is A Poached Egg 8

Ludicrous, huh? It certainly is. The world is not a poached egg, it is a scrambled egg, all messed up and in need of some good breakfast meat to make it palatable. Hash brown potatoes would be good, too.

No, this article is really about poached eggs, which in the cooked egg family I rank highly.

Poached eggs are great unless you try to poach an egg. In my house I am the great breakfast cooker, which means that two or three times per week, I will masterfully cook eggs, bacon, and toast or English muffins. I will scramble the eggs, or fry them in bacon drippin’s. Yummm!

When it comes to poaching eggs, I have tried the boiling water, raw egg approach. This works OK, but you lose about half the egg white. Recently, I bought some egg rings through Amazon for less that ten dollars, and it turns out they are a pain to use, and almost impossible to clean.

Finally, I ordered one of those multiple cup fixtures that you use in a pan over boiling water, and it does a good job of poaching three eggs at once. I thought, “The best egg poacher, ever!”, until I tried to clean it.

Egg white makes a very good glue, especially when heated to poaching temperatures. No matter how well I lubricate the cups with olive oil, coconut oil, or vegetable oil the cups stubbornly cling to the egg white, and it is very difficult to clean that stuff from the poaching cups.

How many people like poached eggs enough to have them regularly? How does McDonalds make their perfectly round eggs for the Egg McMuffin? What is the best way to poach eggs?

Inquiring minds and hungry souls want to know.

 

The World Held Hostage 6

graphic from Charlie Hebdo web page

Graphic From Charlie Hebdo Web Page

For two days this week the world was held hostage by three terrorists weilding assault rifles in Paris, France. The French police are denied the right to carry fire arms, and were sitting ducks for the terrorists, as were the journalists and cartoonists at Charlie Hebdo,  a magazine that specializes in publishing satirical articles and cartoons.

Thirteen people were murdered, including an unarmed French policeman. The terrorist spotted the wounded policeman, and walked up to him and killed him with his rifle. The terrorists, as of this morning, are dead. The French police stormed the terrorists who were hiding in a large printing plant, and they also killed an allied terrorist in a Jewish deli where there were hostages.

One of favorite targets of Charlie Hebdo is Mohammed, the self proclaimed prophet of Islam. Another target of Charlie Hebdo is Jesus Christ, the embodiment of God for Christians. Christians don’t like the defilement of Jesus, but instead of beheading those who do, Christians pray for those who blaspheme.

Muslims treat Mohammed like a god, and in their eyes it is more than a sin to criticize Muhammad. Indeed, our backward Islamic friends consider any slight of Mohammed to be a crime punishable by death.

Islam is steeped in ancient tribal traditions, like cutting off the hand of a thief; executing a woman for adultery while the equally guilty man goes free; and its priesthood (Imams) issuing death warrants for perceived slights by anyone who does not agree with their world view. Islam is all about death, and a dead prophet.

Islam cannot exist in a world of competing ideas and religions without resorting to violence. Christianity has prospered for over two thousand years in this kind of world, even with physical persecution.  There is no negotiating with Muslims, and any words contrary to their belief system are not to be tolerated.

Charlie Hebdo Cartoon

Charlie Hebdo Cartoon

To make matters worse, there is an entire class of people in the Western world who excuse the actions of the misguided world of Islam. Included in this portion of our population is our very own President, Barack Obama. If you remember when he started his presidential campaign, many of us noted that Obama had no professional record of any note, and that his childhood was spent in households where the dominant talk and thought were alternately socialistic and Islamic.

President Obama may be a very smart man, but he has been deluded by the bankrupt ideas of his parents. Now, we see the hypocrisy of the media in not vetting the lackluster man who would become our President.

We can vote out the liberal, politically correct and intellectually dishonest Democrats, but we can do very little about the world wide problem of Islamic terrorism without a leader in our country prepared to meet the challenge. The United States has been fulfilling a leadership role in the protection of democracy and freedom around the world since World War I in the early twentieth century. Backing down from this very important responsibility is exactly the wrong thing to do.

President Barack Obama does not get it.

Hail, Hail, The Gang’s All Here 4

Hail, hail the gang’s all here
What the heck do we care
What the heck do we care

That’s what the old song says. The strange thing is that the lyrics reflect my attitude of the current US Congress as they return from vacation, and the power goes from a do-nothing Democrat controlled Senate to a Congress entirely controlled by the Republicans.

Even though for the last several years the Senate was run by the very definition of an empty suit, Sen Harry Reid of Nevada, things will probably not get much better for the next two years. The reason is because our President is just as negligent to do his duty as was Harry Reid.

Because of this, things are not looking good for our Republic. The best we can hope for is grid-lock, but that is not likely to happen. In spite of Congress President Obama will continue to thumb his nose at the Constitution by issuing executive orders to anything that tickles his fancy.

On the Congressional front, he will veto any Keystone XL pipeline bill that is put on his desk, Secondly, he will veto anything that does not meet his standard of socialistic government. He will also oppose and veto any attempt to make Obama Care into a workable system, which it is not as of the present.

What can the nation do to maintain security, economy, and industry with a belligerent executive in power? There are few remedies. One is impeachment, and nobody in their right mind would want to give Vice-President Joe Biden a promotion. Biden is a famous foot-in-mouth dullard who cannot seem to distinguish a public podium from a bar stool.

So, the gang is all back in Washington, D.C. and I don’t care.

All I can do is to keep expressing my opinion and to pray. There’s enough trouble on the horizon for everybody to join in.