Monday, March 22, 2010

The Tea Party Pledge (membership is free, leave your brain at the door)

For all the whiners out there who claim our government is out of control and turning into a socialist regime, then maybe you will agree to read and sign the Tea Party's Pledge.

This is for the doubters who decry the passage of the new health care bill awaiting President Obama's signature (tomorrow). I cannot take credit for the following, but I applaud its absurdities and the points it raises.


To all Tea Party members, I urge you to take the following pledge before it's too late.

Please pass it on to fellow members:

I do solemnly swear to uphold the principles of a socialism-free society and heretofore pledge my word that I shall strictly adhere to the following:

I will complain about the destruction of 1st Amendment Rights in this country, while I am duly being allowed to exercise my 1st Amendment Rights.

I will complain about the destruction of my 2nd Amendment Rights in this country, while I am duly being allowed to exercise my 2nd Amendment rights by legally but brazenly brandishing unconcealed firearms in public.

I will foreswear the time-honored principles of fairness, decency, and respect by screaming unintelligible platitudes regarding tyranny, Nazi-ism, and socialism at public town halls.

Also, I pledge to eliminate all government intervention in my life. I will abstain from the use of and participation in any socialist goods and services including but not limited to the following:

•Social Security
•State Children’s Health Insurance Programs (SCHIP)
•Police, fire, and emergency services
•US Postal Service
•Roads and highways
•Air Travel (regulated by the socialist FAA)
•The US Railway System
•Public Subways and Metro Systems
•Public Bus and Lightrail Systems
•Rest areas on highways
•All government-funded local/state projects
•Public water and sewer services (goodbye socialist toilet, shower, dishwasher, kitchen sink, outdoor hose!)
•Public and state universities and colleges
•Public primary and secondary schools
•Sesame Street
Publicly funded anti-drug use education for children
•Public museums
•Public parks and beaches
•State and national parks
•Public zoos
•Unemployment insurance
•Municipal garbage and recycling services
•Treatment at any hospital or clinic that ever received funding from local, state or federal government (pretty much all of them)
•Medical services and medications that were created or derived from any government grant or research funding (again, pretty much all of them)
•Socialist by-products of government investment such as duct tape and velcro (Nazi-NASA inventions)
•Use of the Internets, email, and networked computers, as the DoD's ARPANET was the basis for subsequent computer networking
•Foodstuffs, meats, produce and crops that were grown with, fed with, raised with or that contain inputs from crops grown with government subsidies
•Clothing made from crops (e.g. cotton) that were grown with or that contain inputs from government subsidies
•I will refuse summons for jury duty; he or she is guilty anyway, they were arrested after all, weren't they?
• I will not accept the thousands of dollars in federal benefits that are accorded by an act of government-sanctioned marriage

If a veteran of the government-run socialist U.S. military, I will forego my VA benefits and insist on paying for my own medical care

I will not tour socialist government buildings like the capitol in Washington, D.C.

I pledge to never take myself, my family, or my children on a tour of the following types of socialist locations, including but not limited to:

•Smithsonian Museums such as the Air and Space Museum or Museum of American History
•The socialist Washington, Lincoln, and Jefferson Monuments
•The government-operated Statue of Liberty
•The Grand Canyon
•The socialist World War II and Vietnam Veterans Memorials
•The government-run socialist-propaganda location known as Arlington National Cemetery
•All other public-funded socialist sites, whether it be in my state or in Washington, D.C., I will urge my member of Congress and Senators to forego their government salary and government-provided health care.

I will oppose and condemn the government-funded and therefore socialist military of the United States of America.

I will boycott the products of socialist defense contractors such as GE, Lockheed-Martin, Boeing, Northrop Grumman, General Dynamics, Raytheon, Humana, FedEx, General Motors, Honeywell, and hundreds of others that are paid by our socialist government to produce goods for our socialist army.

I will protest socialist security departments such as the Pentagon, FBI, CIA, Department of Homeland Security, TSA, Department of Justice and their socialist employees.

Upon reaching eligible retirement age, I will tear up my socialist Social Security checks.

Upon reaching age 65, I will forego Medicare and pay for my own private health insurance until I die.SWORN ON A BIBLE AND SIGNED THIS DAY OF __________ IN THE YEAR ___. _____________ _________________________Signed Printed Name/Town and State

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

RIP, U.S. Navy Senior Chief Dawn Hunter

One of my closest friends in the Navy died this past weekend at the age of 37, far too young for someone so vibrant; of ever-positive outlook; so energetic and she, sadly has left behind so many who loved, respected and cherished her friendship, leadership and mentorship.

Ask anyone who knew Dawn and they would tell you she wore a smile brighter than the sunniest day--her warm comfortable smile and infectious laugh made you feel good knowing it was meant just for you.

I met then IT1 Dawn Hunter, like the rest of us when we reported for duty for Navy Customs Battalion PAPA in Norfolk, Va., at NMPS and later I got to know her even better while we were berthed (housing) at that rundown Clarion Hotel as we trained at NAVELSG's training grounds in Williamsburg, Va.

Dawn and I were in the same training team and became instant friends. I remember our first formation with us standing side-by-side. And the rest is, shall we say history. Senior Chief Kat Hotmer and Chief Joe Villa, our senior enlisted leaders, whipped us all into shape preparing us for the unexpected when we would step aboard that plane leading us to those hot sands of Kuwait.

During this period it was then I learned Dawn and I shared a love of running. One day we both decided we should starting a running club. It started with just the two of us, but soon blossomed to seven or eight of us running down the dark streets of Williamsburgh at 0500 .

During our six-mile runs we talked, shared philosophies, talked about our friends, families, pets (Dawn talked of her dogs and I of my cats) and other things that helped strengthen our friendship. Later as we neared the end of our training in Virginia, Dawn and few others arranged a small party in my honor on August 5, 2005. It was my 48th birthday and for me, a milestone as both my Dad and Granddad died at the young age of 47. Dawn knew I was nervous about this birthday and I'll never forget that night of fun and bad Mexican food (and me under a huge sombrero). Master Chief Powers, Chief Hatch, Chief Villa and Senior Chief Shindledecker even sang an acappella 'Happy Birthday to me'... and I owed it all to Dawn!

Dawn was always upbeat, always there for a friend, always caring and someone who could always be counted on for a word of advice. I know this will sound cliche, but she cared for everybody and would do anything to help them out.

When we arrived at Camp Arifjan, Kuwait, we didn't see as much of each other. Dawn in HQ Company and me in Alpha, our schedules rarely meshed, still we found time to run on occasion, but more often than not, just to sit around and shoot the bull or share an occasional meal.

As our tour came to end in the spring of 2006, I had made my mind to stay behind with Customs Battalion QUEBEC, so I had to let my friends go back to the United States while I, and 30 others stayed behind to help the next group perform our customs mission. Dawn, again was the voice of encouragement.

Even with my friends from PAPA gone, I remained in touch with Dawn and was pleased to learn when she advanced to Chief Petty Officer. Was I surprised? Absolutely not! Dawn never did anything halfway and when she was pinned I wished I could have been there.

In the intervening five years since we deployed I often received an email from Dawn and with the advent of Facebook we kept even more closely in touch. She sent me emails while I served in Afghanistan in 2008 and I, in turn, kept in touch with her when she once again went Active Duty. I often thought about those lucky Sailors who would benefit from her leadership.

Just two weeks ago Dawn and I chatted online for about an hour. We talked about our new directions, she asked me about my cats and I asked her about training for a marathon whe want to run (naturally) and as we closed our chat, she told me she looked forward to seeing my name on the new Chiefs list this year. Those were our last words, but not my last thoughts of her.

Even with 900 miles between us, Dawn still offered encouragement and advice, offering support and best of all... her friendship. I will treasure that friendship and my memories of her. I know when I do make Chief I will see Dawn in my mind and know that she is looking down on me and the rest of us, her friends and comrades of U.S. Navy Customs Battalion PAPA.

And every time I go out to enjoy a warm sunny day, I will reminisce about Dawn's smile and how it was meant for me and for every other soul she met and helped become a better person. Dawn, you and the rest of the members of Customs Battalion PAPA became a family that year. You were an important part of that 'Navy machine' and most importantly, a part of our lives--we made a difference. What more could someone want out of life?

Now, when I am out running, I will imagine you running there to my left as we did so many times in Virginia, and will think of the friendship we had and I will remember you fondly.

Dawn, I know I speak for all of us PAPAs when saying I respect you, love you and will miss you forever!

Senior Chief Kimberly Dawn Hunter, U.S. Navy Reserve, February 23, 1973 - March 13, 2010, RIP

U.S. Navy photos by MC1 Greg Devereaux
Civilian photos courtesy of Dawn Hunter's family and friends

Monday, March 15, 2010

Asshat of the Week: Texas Follies, Part I

Former Congressman Tom Delay (R-TX) commented this weekend on CNN that millions of Americans are unemployed because they want to be.

When asked about Republican Congressman Jim Bunning's (R-KY) recent attempt at blocking an extension on unemployment benefits for millions of Americans, Delay commented that if the situation were different Bunning would have been applauded as a fiscal hero.

"You know," Delay said, "there is an argument to be made that these extensions, the unemployment benefits keeps people from going and finding jobs. In fact there are some studies that have been done that show people stay on unemployment compensation and they don't look for a job until two or three weeks before they know the benefits are going to run out."

CNN's State of the Union host Candy Crowley pushed for clarification:

"People are unemployed because they want to be?" Crowley asked.

"Well, it is the truth. and people in the real world know it. And they have friends and they know it," Delay said. "Sure, we ought to be helping people that are unemployed find a job, but we also have budget considerations that are incredibly important, especially now that Obama is spending monies that we don't have."

Mr. Delay, after being unemployed for nearly a year I can tell you I am ready and willing to work. I certainly don't have the luxury of working with all the lobbyist contacts you maintained while you ill-served our nation.

Seriously Mr. Delay, people are unemployed because our economy has tanked to levels not seen since the Great Depression of the 1930 and 40s. In case the former congressman has not noticed, business expenditures are down, hirings are down, unemployment numbers are high (though nowhere near as bad as when President Obama took office) sales are down and business failures are up. Recent figures state that 1 in 6 Americans are currently looking for work.

There really must be something in the Texas water supply that reduces their politicians to babbling idiots.

Hey Mr. Delay, I hear Faux News is looking for commentators to stand alongside Bill O' Reilly, Glenn Beck, Sarah Palin and Sean Hannity, maybe you should join them.

Texas Textbook Chainsaw Massacre: Texas Follies, Part II

Texas has done it again! Over the weekend the Texas Board of Education unveiled its new U.S. History curriculum. Amazingly, this new curriculum virtually ignores the contributions of ... are you ready for this... Thomas Jefferson!

Yes, the third President of the United States! And yes, the same Thomas Jefferson, the principal architect of the Declaration of Independence and one of the framers of our Constitution, one of the greatest documents ever crafted!

The board has replaced Jefferson with religious right darling John Calvin, who had absolutely nothing to do with American independence, but with theological reformation in the 16th century.

The new curriculum also downplays the Constitution's amendments detailing the separation of church and state by not requiring students to learn the Constitution bars the government from favoring one religion over another... or that religion is barred from interacting with our government.

Gone are scientists Thomas Edison and Albert Einstein, both who made great strides in science. Gone (or diminished) are civil rights leaders' place in American history. In their place, emphasis has been afforded to right wing organizations such as the National Rifle Association and Phyllis Schlafly. Even Sen. Joseph McCarthy, who has long been demonized (and rightfully so) for his draconian actions in the 1950s, has now been written in a more favorable light.

Clearly the culture war has heated up with conservative leaders working feverishly to present a purely conservative point of view to our children. In other words, the good ole white boys club is back in town.

It has been a rough year on Texas citizens. Last year, their governor suggested the state should secede from the Union in disagreement with some of President Obama's policies. Last weekend former congressman Tom Delay suggested that this nation's unemployed are out of work by choice. Now, add to to this debacle the radical change in education curriculum and some Texans fear they will become this nation's laughing stock, but I find nothing humorous about any of this.

If this news was not bad enough, it is made even worse with the fact that Texas is the second largest buyer of high school textbooks in the country. For decades, Texas has held school textbook publishers hostage to what is and is not to be included in our children's textbooks.

What Texas demands of publishers, will eventually end up in textbooks slated for purchase in the other 49 states of the union. For conservative right-wing leaders to impose their backward small-minded values on an entire nation smacks of arrogance and deception.

Here, in my opinion, are the real reasons why members of the Texas Board of Education have worked tirelessly to remove Thomas Jefferson from the curriculum:

"Millions of innocent men, women and children, since the introduction of Christianity, have been burnt, tortured, fined and imprisoned; yet we have not advanced one inch towards uniformity." -Thomas Jefferson, Notes on Virginia, 1782

"Christianity neither is, nor ever was a part of the common law." -Thomas Jefferson, letter to Dr. Thomas Cooper, February 10, 1814...

"In every country and in every age, the priest has been hostile to liberty. He is always in alliance with the despot, abetting his abuses in return for protection to his own." -Thomas Jefferson, letter to Horatio G. Spafford, March 17, 1814

"Priests dread the advance of science as witches do the approach of daylight and scowl on the fatal harbinger announcing the subversions of the duperies on which they live. -Thomas Jefferson, Letter to Correa de Serra, April 11, 1820

"Man once surrendering his reason, has no remaining guard against absurdities the most monstrous, and like a ship without rudder, is the sport of every wind." -Thomas Jefferson to James Smith, 1822.

"Law is often but the tyrant's will, and always so when it violates the right of an individual." --Thomas Jefferson to Isaac H. Tiffany, 1819.

"Whenever the people are well-informed, they can be trusted with their own government." --Thomas Jefferson to Richard Price, 1789.

"Question with boldness even the existence of God; because, if there be one, he must more approve of the homage of reason than that of blindfolded fear." - Thomas Jefferson

"Religions are all alike - founded upon fables and mythologies." - Thomas Jefferson

"The clergy, by getting themselves established by law, and ingrafted into the machine of government, have been a very formidable engine against the civil and religious rights of man." --Thomas Jefferson to Jeremiah Moor, 1800.

"Religion is a subject on which I have ever been most scrupulously reserved. I have considered it as a matter between every man and his Maker, in which no other, and far less the public, had a right to intermeddle." --Thomas Jefferson to Richard Rush, 1813.

Clearly, uber-conservative religious leaders, in their minds, have reason to deny Jefferson his seat in this nation's history. Jefferson was a free-thinker who questioned everything, INCLUDING religion. Religious zealots cannot stand the fact that he and many other of our forefathers were deeply suspicious of religion's role in our society-- and especially our government. And clearly it is no coincidence the conservative leaders of the TBOE have removed Jefferson when considering his writings about religion.

Mind you, if right wing conservative leaders have their way, these are surely the first steps of implementing more wholesale changes in our nation's textbooks. Is it so hard to believe that creationism is not the next element they wish to foist on our public schools? Will evolution be the next target for removal?

I have no problem with people having faith in their religion and God, but I do when religious kooks are not content until they force every single person to believe as they do. Anyone who knows me knows I believe in God, just not his (or her) followers-- nor most of organized religion.

The culture war is not going away any time soon. For those who yearn for more enlightened, more intellectual education, one firmly entrenched in science, research and constant review, this is not the time for complacency. For historians, the old adage of 'history textbooks are written by the victors' surely must be alarmed and suspicious of the turn of events of this past weekend.

Again, complacency is the educators worst enemy.