Sunday, May 31, 2009

A Russian Columnist's View of America

"The proud American will go down into his slavery with out a fight, beating his chest and proclaiming to the world, how free he really is. The world will only snicker."

Pravda Newspaper

H/T to Slice



Friday, May 29, 2009

A Puerto Rican Citizen's Voice

First, let me get a few, irrelevant facts out of the way.

I’m Hispanic. Puerto Rican to be exact. A 100% arroz-con-pernil-y- tostones-con-una-malta-fria Hispanic. I speak, read, and write fluent Spanish. I love Salsa music, I fly the little Puerto Rican flag from my vehicle mirror, and I think pegado is the best part of cooked rice.

I am also an American. A 100% blessed-to-live-in-this-country-and-enjoy-its-freedoms American. I speak, read, and write fluent English. I can handle just about any kind of music except Country and Southern Gospel. I salute the American flag when appropriate and have great pride in my country.

The simple fact that I am Hispanic does not give me a free pass to anything significant. I don’t expect people to treat me differently (better or worse) because of my race. My heritage does not serve as a shield for those who would criticize me. I will not defend my positions by leaning on my race.

Well, enough about me. Let’s talk about Sonia Sotomayor. Yes, that’s where I’m going.

The fact that she is Hispanic is a great thing. The fact that she did not have a privileged background is inspiring. And yet, all that is ultimately irrelevant as to whether she makes a good judge. She has not been nominated to the Supreme Court because of any of those reasons (at least I hope not). In the end, I consider those facts nothing more than interesting trivia.

I’m far more interested in her history as a judge.

There are plenty of concerns regarding her record. It’s been documented that she believes she ought to rule based on individual experience rather than on the law. She has made racist comments. Her decisions have been reversed 60% of the time. But, that’s all I’m going to say about her record. Enough people have said and written plenty about her judicial past. I think there are better candidates for the Supreme Court, but people with better writing skills have already picked up that baton.

No. This is what upsets me: Debate over who Sotomayor is a sensitive one

Let me make sure I understand this. Are you saying she needs to be handled carefully because she is Hispanic and you might upset the Hispanic voters? Do you believe Hispanics are too dumb to be able to separate criticism from racism? Are we to be coddled because we will collapse if she is questioned? Are we so delicate that we should be forced to accept a subpar candidate because no one in Congress has the courage to do what we elected them to do? Perhaps there are some Hispanics that fall into those categories. But to lump us all into that description is intellectually lazy and offensive.

Ask the fair questions. Expect an honest answer.

It is probably important for anybody involved in this debate to be exceedingly careful with the way in which they've decided to describe different aspects of this impending confirmation," White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said.

What are you trying to insinuate? I call on every Congressman to ignore the empty threats and to place passion and conviction where it belongs. You pulled no punches with Justice Clarence Thomas. You pulled no punches with Secretary Condoleezza Rice. You pulled no punches with Alberto Gonzalez. Why now?

This is not about the pithy, choreographed press conference. This is about the gritty hard work that must be done in order to preserve this great Country. Have the guts. Ask your questions. And if some bully brings up the specter of racism, call them on the carpet and make them prove it. Otherwise, we give in to a bully no more intelligent or powerful than the one lurking by the swings during grade school recess. I know racism is very real. But you think for a minute that we should put on kid gloves because of someone's race? Isn't that racist?

Now, on a national scale, I know my voice will barely be heard. I’m not smart enough to be a political talking head. I’m not connected enough for my opinion to make a huge difference in the grand scheme of things. But as a voter, I certainly am not delicate. Ask away. Let’s ask Ms. Sotomayor her viewpoints and have her explain and defend them. I'm exceedingly proud of what she has accomplished. But, this is not about the future of Hispanics. This is about the future of our Country.

I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character. Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Let’s live that dream today. It is a travesty to visit disadvantage on someone just because of the color of their skin. It happens, but it's still wrong. It’s equally as repugnant to grant them privilege solely for the same reason.

I will make no comment on whether she should be confirmed. I will, however, remind all that when it comes to race, we are all equal. We should all be held to the same standard.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Thank You

"Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We didn't pass it to our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected, and handed on for them to do the same, or one day we will spend our sunset years telling our children and our children's children what it was once like in the United States where men were free."

Ronald Wilson Reagan

Today, we remember those who shoulder the burden of defending our freedom.

Thank you.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

You Are a Right Wing Extremist If...

Is this the "change we can believe in?"

Read this Report, courtesy of our Department of Homeland Security.

Do you oppose abortion? (Page 2)

Do you oppose more gun restrictions? (Page 2)

Do you prefer limited government, believing you, not the federal government know what is best for your family? (Page 2)

Are you upset with the current direction our government is taking the country? (Page 3)

Do you oppose illegal immigration? (Page 5)

Are you a military veteran? (Page 7)

Are you Caucasian and in the military now? (Page 7)

If so, you cannot be trusted.

If you believe in any of those, congratulations!! You are a RIGHT WING EXTREMIST! Are you unemployed? Your children are at risk of becoming right wing extremists. (Page 4)

According to this report, you are to be treated just like that criminal who killed three police officers in Pennsylvania. You cannot be trusted because people like you planned violence right before the election. You must be stopped because you are like those in Waco, Texas. You are a threat because three unhinged people just like you wanted to bomb military targets in 1996.

Because a small handful of criminals are being, well..., criminals, you cannot be trusted and must be contained or converted. Do you believe you should be contained or marginalized because some nutjob somewhere goes berserk?

Yes, I know that the DHS retracted the memo. But they did so only after they were soundly and loudly called on the carpet. They retracted it because they got caught, not because they disavowed the information it contained. The report made it all the way to the top, and was accepted and approved by those in leadership. When they were caught, they blamed it on some poor schmuck on the bottom. But they ultimately approved, as government viewpoint, the drivel it contained.

Let's say you don't care about any of these issues. Do you have any loved ones that do? How do you feel about the Federal Government (which derives its power from us, the people) determining what value we have based on our opinions.

If you disagree with me, fine. You are safe today. But with this framework, you may not be tomorrow. By then, you will have no value and your opinion will be the new extremism. Regardless of what you believe, this is dangerous and gives us insight into how the DHS, who is supposed to keep us safe, will identify threats.

Because we dare to believe we have a great country, we are evil. Because we dare to believe in the sanctity of life, we are the enemy. Because we have the AUDACITY OF HOPE for a country bound by a Constitution and not to bowed to popular whim, we are a threat.

Actually, we really are a threat. A big one. Come next election, we will all have a chance to prove how big of a threat we really are.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Another One!

My former law partner and I went to the range today. It was his first time shooting in about 30 years.

We fired the 10-22 and the Cougar and went through several hundred rounds. His shots grouped pretty well for someone who was a wee bit rusty.

On the way out, we hung around to look at the toys. We looked at ARs, AKs, a few 1911s, assorted other handguns, and some shotguns. He had such a great time that he wants to make it a regular occurrence.

And, he wants to buy a gun and get his carry permit.

Another one joins the fun!

Friday, May 15, 2009

Not Fast Enough

I work about 5 minutes from Wal-mart.

Right before I left work today, I called the sports department and asked if they had any .40 caliber ammo in stock. Yep, they had ONE box.

I threw my stuff in the Jeep and headed for the store. The race was on. It’s only 5 minutes away, right?

I got to the store and made my way to the sports department.

"A box of .40 caliber rounds, please."

"Sorry, just sold the last one."

Ugh…

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

"I Am Not Going to be His Victim"

Homeowner opens fire on burglary suspects

Yet another homeowner decides to take personal responsibility over her defense. This happened in her home, a place that is supposed to be a sanctuary. This time, no one was hit, but there is a thug out there somewhere whose criminal career almost ended with a bang.

You cannot simply hope that if you stay away from evil, evil will leave you alone. Instead, you must prepare, not just for the attack, but to fight back, as well.

If you have a couple of minutes, watch the video, too. I'm actually pleasantly suprised at the tone of the reporting.

Way to go, Danielle!

H/T to Armed and Christian, who has the best quotes.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Visitor

When I woke up this morning and went downstairs, I was met by a huge cricket. He just barely glanced my way, grunted something, and headed for the bathroom. I think he had one of my gun mags under his arm (leg?) and looked like he would be a while.

It's bad enough that I do not like crickets at all, but trying to beat me to the bathroom in the morning is unacceptable.

I had to kill him.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

The Way It’s Supposed to Work

Sometimes I fear we are raising a generation of people afraid to stand up when necessary. We are so bound up in fear that when the time comes, we are afraid to move.

And then, I read stories like this:

Student Kills Home Invader

That’s the way it’s supposed to work. When the lawless will pay no heed to laws against crime, it’s time for the law abiding to stand up and make a point that will not be forgotten.

Calvin Lavant will break no more laws. He will kick in no more doors. He will rob no more. He will not ever rape. No one else will be hurt by his hand.

Now, he will confront a law he cannot ignore, a judge who will not be silenced.

And just as it is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment... Heb 9:27

Is it tragic that someone died? Absolutely! Ideally, everyone should behave and no one should have to die. It is unfortunate that Lavant's family will now suffer the grief of his loss. But, he, and he alone, is responsible for that. At some point, Lavant made the decision that someone was going to get hurt. Someone was going to die. Someone's family was going to be mourning that day. He would see to that.

In the end, his wish was granted.

Those who would, for evil, gamble with another's life should expect that the life paid out may very well be their own.

H/T to In Jennifer’s Head

Friday, May 8, 2009

Is it Just Me, Or...

Seems like lately, some of the groups I run around with have surprised me. Even some groups that have been traditionally anti-gun, or evenly openly hostile, have warmed up to the idea of using or owning guns. Is that just unique to me?

Depending on the context, I try to separate the concepts of guns for self defense, and guns for recreation. Some people are not mentally ready for using a firearm to take a life. I may discuss the reasons why I believe in carrying a firearm, but in the end, I just concentrate on the fun aspect of carrying a mechanical object that produces noise, smoke, and a controlled explosion. For some, I compare it to the obsession of golf, where there is a constant pursuit of perfection or a better score, which can be achieved if only I adjust my stance, grip, ... who knows what else.

For those who feel the need, or are more comfortable with the concept, I discuss self defense. I do so in a non-theatrical or "doomsday" way, most of the time just explaining why I believe as I believe. I also mention the hope that I will never have to use any firearm I own for self defense.

Lately, I find myself in this type of conversation more often. People no longer dismiss the idea of firearms and are more open to discuss it. Some of the arguments we have made against gun control appear to finally be finding root with non-enthusiasts.

Now, I know we can't rest on what we have accomplished so far, but it really does appear that the ship may be turning just a bit.

Or is it just me?

Monday, May 4, 2009

Principled, not Popular

Like everyone else, I have viewpoints and opinions. If you ask me, I’ll tell you what they are. You may not agree with me. You may think I am closed-minded, old-fashioned, too traditional, bigoted, whatever. But, if you ask, you will get an answer.

My opinions have developed over time, as a result of research, experience, environment, and upbringing. I believe my opinions are reasonable. That’s not surprising. In fact, I imagine most people believe their opinions are reasonable.

Please note, however, I will not change my opinion just so you will like me. I will not fake an opinion to gain your respect. I will not turn my back on what I believe just to seek approval or peace.

But, my opinions are not etched in stone. I am open to change my mind if appropriately convinced, and do not mind respectfully debating my positions. In the end, if we continue to disagree, I will respect your opinion, and I will ask that you respect mine.

I aim to be principled, not popular.

It used to be that principle was something to be proud of. If you were a person of your word, you were trusted. To be called a "man of his word" or a “woman of her word” was a compliment of high honor, and told much more of a person's character than a long list of accolades. People didn’t have to agree with you, they just always knew where you stood.

Now, not so much.

Principles are things for which we apologize. We dare not stand too firm, lest we offend those who disagree. We discard or discount beliefs in an effort to reach consensus. Opinions are either validated or ridiculed based on popular (or even our own) opinion. Some are quick to bow to the whims of culture, even at the expense of long validated beliefs. We speak out of one side of our mouth to reach out to one group, and then use the other side to draw in the opposite crowd. And we do it all with such lack of detail that we convince ourselves of our wisdom and craftiness. We become adept at sitting on the fence, selling our soul to both sides.

Aside from being dishonest, such wavering is destructive. At some point, we’re going to have to pick a side. The time will come when those to whom we have sold our integrity will come calling to cash in. After amassing popularity and power atop a foundation of deceit, all our pretending will be stripped. The people will realize the emperor has no clothes. Nor has he any guts, lacking the courage to take a difficult stand when necessary.

No, I’d rather stand on what I believe, while continuing to learn and grow. I’d rather you like me for who I really am, than me try to remember which mask I should be wearing. After all, if I am looking for honest friends, I ought to be one as well.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Marriage of Chrysler and Fiat

Verum Serum has some funny (maybe not) ideas regarding the offspring of Chrysler and Fiat.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Dentist!

Some time ago, I took my daughter to the dentist to have a tooth removed. No one was excited about this appointment, especially not my daughter. It was windy and cold outside, so apparently, the weather wasn't too thrilled about the meeting either. The stiff wind blew us into the dentist’s office, which was beginning to fill for the morning. After what seemed like an eternity, we were moved into the torture chamber examination room.

When the dentist came in, he explained what would happen and asked my daughter to raise her hand if she ever felt pain during the process.

The dentist began. Right away, my daughter's hand went up. For the rest of the procedure, her hand never came down.

Even though she had received enough anesthesia to drop a horse, the pressure was still highly uncomfortable for her. I held her hand, but it did not help at all. Overall, the procedure was quick and routine. The tooth came out and it was done.

Don't tell my daughter that. When the dentist went to shake her hand after he was done, she gave him the dirtiest look I have ever seen her give. He looked at me, chuckled and shrugged his shoulders as he walked out.

The whole experience made me think. As a father, I wanted to keep my daughter from hurting. I didn't like it that she was hurting. I could understand why she was upset. But, it was all for her own good. There was a purpose behind the pain. And though I could have stopped the process, I did not. Because to stop or avoid the process would have been worse for her than allowing it to continue.

That reminds me of my relationship with God.

In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.

1 Peter 1:6-7

Life is filled with ups and downs. Sometimes it's just the normal waves that exist on the ocean of life. Other times, there are more serious tempests that can severely shake us. But each has its purpose. God takes each experience and uses that to develop or remove areas of our character to make us more like Him. In the end, He desires that we reflect him. As John Bevere said, "When we get to heaven, we are going to be like Christ. That means that one of us is going to have to change."

Just as I want nothing but the best for my daughter, so God wants the best for us.

For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.

Jeremiah 29:11

There are things that we have to go through because they are necessary in order to grow. These experiences may be painful or uncomfortable, but they are necessary. That they happen does not mean that God does not exist or that God does not love us. After all, we have not been promised a smooth ride. What we have been promised is that He will hold our hands, guide and comfort us.

Hearts will hurt. Losses will be felt. Delays will be suffered. And yet in the end, we do this all for a reason.

But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.

Philippians 3:13-14

So, the idea then, is to trust God as we go forward. He will hold us by the hand, and make the way clear for us. The trip may have its painful stops, but the journey will not be defined by its low points, but by the glory at the end.