Archive for July, 2007
Tuesday, July 24th, 2007
I’ve been on a tear lately! For years I’ve been unable to devote the time and attention to reading a book from cover to cover (I think the one exception to that is the Harry Potter series, which is the only fiction I read anymore). I buy all kinds of books on self-improvement, politics and spirituality and they end up half-read at best. I guess that with all the business and technology reading and Web surfing I do at work and home, I don’t have the focus or discipline to read anything longer than a few pages.
I don’t know what happened but I’ve started reading books from cover to cover again, and I’m quite pleased about it. I decided to share with you the books I’ve read, am reading or have on my night stand for future consumption. They say you can tell a lot about a person from what he or she reads; I don’t know what my reading selections say about me, but I’m sure you’ll form an opinion!
Tuesday, July 24th, 2007
I just finished “From Hope to Higher Ground: 12 STOPs to Restoring America’s Greatness,” by former Arkansas governor and current Republican candidate for President Mike Huckabee. I indicated previously that I am supporting him for President, and I’ve since become one of the “Bloggers for Huckabee,” proudly displaying my “I Like Mike” banner on my blog page. Now that I’ve completed his book, I am more convinced than ever that he should become our next President. He is a different kind of Republican and he stands out from the others in the race. He’s a prolific author and I’ve already got three more of his books on order because I think he’s a man of great character and integrity, and someone I’d like to emulate in my future political pursuits.
My wife teases me and says that if I were Catholic, my patron saint would be the one for lost causes (that would be St. Jude Thaddeus, by the way). She reminded me that I was for George H.W. Bush in 1980 when other Republicans were swooning over Ronald Reagan, I was a die-hard GeoWorks user when the world was going gaga over Microsoft Windows 3.0 (you’re thinking, “What’s GeoWorks?” Precisely!), and I was a Neil Diamond fan long after his prime. Oh, yes, I decided to run against Maryland political icons Steny Hoyer AND Mike Miller in the same election year. I tell her, “It’s not my choices that were bad; it was the system!”
That gave me the idea of sharing with you my process for picking a candidate – not that you’re going to rush out and apply it after I just divulged my track record for picking winners (grin)! Nonetheless, I think it will be instructive and, frankly, I wish more people gave their choices for elected office this level of thought. We’d have a better government for it, and I’m not saying that because I’m particularly smart. Every citizen, in my opinion, has an obligation to do their own research and make informed choices.
It frustrates me to no end how many people care so little about a process that will have a profound impact on their lives. They either make their selections based on emotion or image alone, or they allow themselves to be led around by the media, which handicaps the pursuit of the Presidency like a horse race and is more interested in promoting the biggest fundraisers or the annointed front-runners rather than the candidates with the best qualifications or performance. The media is supposed to be a check on “the system” but instead they perpetuate it. Perhaps that’s why most people aren’t interested anymore – the influence of the press on who gets the nominations of the respective parties is too great to overcome.
In any case, I’ve always tried to do my own homework when it comes to picking candidates to support. I’ve made a few of these points in the past, but this is a methodical explanation of my thinking. Read on!
Wednesday, July 18th, 2007
Guess which American political leader made the following statement?
“Saddam Hussein has been engaged in the development of weapons of mass destruction technology which is a threat to countries in the region and he has made a mockery of the weapons inspection process. The responsibility of the United States in this conflict is to eliminate weapons of mass destruction, to minimize the danger to our troops and to diminish the suffering of the Iraqi people…I believe in negotiated solutions to international conflict. This is, unfortunately, not going to be the case in this situation where Saddam Hussein has been a repeat offender, ignoring the international community’s requirement that he come clean with his weapons program.”
Figured it out? How about this one?
“We must recognize that there is no indication that Saddam Hussein has any intention of relenting. So we have an obligation of enormous consequence, an obligation to guarantee that Saddam Hussein cannot ignore the United Nations. He cannot be permitted to go unobserved and unimpeded toward his horrific objective of amassing a stockpile of weapons of mass destruction. This is not a matter about which there should be any debate whatsoever in the Security Council, or, certainly, in this Nation. If he remains obdurate, I believe that the United Nations must take, and should authorize immediately, whatever steps are necessary to force him to relent–and that the United States should support and participate in those steps.”
If you named President Bush, Vice President Cheney or any member of the current administration, or any Republican or conservative opinion-shaper, you’d be wrong. The first statement was taken from a December 16, 1998 press release from then-Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi following the U.S. air strike on Iraq ordered by then-President Clinton. You can find the full press release at http://www.house.gov/pelosi/priraq1.htm - better hurry before they take it down!
The second statement was from a speech given on the floor of the U.S. Senate in November 9, 1997 by Senator John F. Kerry of Massachusetts.
Wednesday, July 18th, 2007
Michael Eric Dyson, a prominent and outspoken black professor, speaker and writer, has vigorously taken Bill Cosby to task for his campaign to emphasize personal responsibility and accountability in the black community. He has appeared on television, delivered speeches and participated in public forums, and even written a book, “Is Bill Cosby Right? Or Has the Black Middle Class Lost Its Mind?,” the title of which should give you a clue as to where Professor Dyson stands. The gist of Professor Dyson’s argument is that Mr. Cosby is putting far more emphasis on black personal responsibility than is warranted given the social conditions that continue to plague black Americans, and he is giving comfort to racists and conservatives with his words. As a conservative myself, I resent being lumped into the same category as racists, but that’s how the gatekeepers of black authenticity roll, and God knows my motives so I don’t have to answer to anyone but Him. Here is Professor Dyson in his own words:
“Mr. Cosby must recognize that the right wing and the acid white conservatives in this country are taking glee in his comments because he’s trying to fly the plane of Black progress with one wing. Personal responsibility is a critical and necessary wing, but he’s forgetting the second wing, which is social responsibility and political responsibility, so Black people having conversations in public must never underestimate the degree to which the enemies, the opponents of our best interests will always seize upon narrow ranges of discourse to justify and legitimate their assault upon us. Mr. Cosby has an intellectual responsibility to cast his notions of moral responsibility in such terms that he is not taken advantage of by those who oppose what his fundamental interests are.”
This is the criticism that blacks who speak out on the need for us to empower ourselves individually have endured for centuries. It’s been a topic of discussion and division in the black community since Booker T. Washington and W.E.B. DuBois, the two most influential black leaders of their day, argued over the merits of self-help and cooperation with the larger society (Washington) vs. political and social action to bring an end to white oppression (DuBois). DuBois’ view eventually won the day; the founder of the NAACP planted the seeds of the civil rights movement of the 1950s and 1960s, and his influence is felt even today. That is positive in the sense that America would not have moved to a higher plane in its treatment and acceptance of blacks without political and social action based on an unimpeachable moral stand.
It is negative, however, in the sense that Mr. Washington’s message of self-improvement has lost much of its power within the black community. In order to conform to today’s black worldview, you must give primacy to the argument of continued societal oppression of blacks over any suggestion that we as a community can make significant advances by changing the man or woman in the mirror. If you try to simply balance the scales, you are accused of tipping them over altogether and thereby accommodating those in society who would do us harm. It is a no-win situation for decent, caring and responsible black men and women who are as passionate about and personally committed to black ascendancy as the black orthodoxy but believe our agenda is off-balance and losing credibility with the passage of time. I do not use the word “orthodoxy” to display my command of the English language, either; when a collection of beliefs becomes as immovable as those currently held by most in the black community, they cease to comprise an agenda, which can evolve and change, and instead take on the characteristics of a faith which harbors no compromise and sees those outside of the “church” as the damned.
Sunday, July 8th, 2007
My last post on the impending tax increases in Maryland, “How Much Is Enough?”, generated a strong response from a reader on another blog as follows:
“Come on, Mr. Miller. Ehrlich created a billion dollar structural deficit, which we will feel in next year’s budget. Under his aegis, college tuition increased more than forty percent and from driver’s licenses to water there were a plethora of fee increases.
“The difference between Ehrlich and O’Malley is that Ehrlich raised taxes disproportionately on working families.
“As for taxes, you get what you pay for. Have you been visiting our public school buildings lately? They are in a horrible state: from leaking roofs to wear and tear of forty years. That demonstrates that we have not been investing enough to properly maintain our capital assets.
“You might be aware that building damage grows exponentially. Failure of timely repairs are fiscally irresponsible.
“I don’t blame the Ehrlich administration for this but the unreflective anti-tax propaganda that prevents us from properly maintaining the tax payer’s capitol investments.
“I do agree that we need to hold our local and state governments more accountable. When our schools are leaking water and the walls are crumbling then we are not making the necessary investments.
“Of course, it is easy to campaign on something for nothing. Unfortunately, that is not a rational approach to public policy but demagoguery.”
Why do those of us who don’t believe in being forced to throw good money after bad get labeled as demagogues? I think it’s common sense and an entirely appropriate position for a citizen to take in response to an inefficient and ineffective government. Here is my response:
Saturday, July 7th, 2007
Remember the scene in the movie “Top Gun” where the commander yells at Tom Cruise’s character, Maverick, “Son, your ego’s writing checks your body can’t cash!”? I think about that statement when I see the taxes looming on the horizon for those of us who are blessed to live in the Free State but cursed by its monopolistic government in Annapolis.
Wednesday, July 4th, 2007
In the days since I announced that I’d be offering my opinion of Senator Barack Obama of Illinois, he’s made headlines with a $32.5 million fundraising haul in the second quarter. His total tally of $58 million thus far in 2007 shattered the record for presidential fundraising in the first six months of the year before an election. Even more amazing is the number of donors to his campaign, 258,000 to date, most of them first-time or small donors. After the 2nd quarter results for all the candidates are reported, the pundits anticipate that Senator Obama’s donor total could be more than twice the number of donors to Senator Hillary Clinton’s campaign. Senator Obama’s support is wide and deep, and people who haven’t traditionally engaged in the political process are coming out to support him. Whatever one may think of his qualifications to be President, he’s definitely for real.