Saturday, April 01, 2006

A Personal Emergency


I will not be blogging for a while.

My father, who will be 82 this June, did not respond to attempts to wake him this morning. The paramedics took him to Memorial City Hospital, where he remained unconscious with a 105-degree fever. They have treated him with a battery of antibiotics, and he has come to some level of semi-consciousness, though not full cognizance.

My family has come together to wait for developments, and so after this announcement I shall be unavailable for a time. I apologize for the absence.

Dominance Games

[ wuf ]

I woke this morning to the sound of a dogfight. My two 20-week old hound puppies, Kyle and Shalo, were mock-fighting with each other, in a dominance game that more than once has crossed over into actual fighting. My vet warned me this could happen, that two puppies would sort out a question of supremacy between themselves; it’s an instinct with them and difficult to train out. I have made it clear to both dogs that I do not approve of any sort of aggression, especially biting, and so when I came out into the yard both dogs immediately stopped, sat up and pretended nothing had happened. In this case Kyle was the main aggressor, so I sat him on top of the trash can for a ‘time out’ and scolded him. He whimpered in the appropriate places that either means he understands he did wrong, or else he has figured out how to say what he thinks I want to hear. Since each dog has crossed 20 pounds in weight, it’s getting to be a big deal to me that they learn to curb their behavior to within the limits taught.

It occurs to me that people are not all that different from dogs. People are social animals that become accustomed to certain routines of behavior and expectations. And like dogs, from time to time certain individuals and groups will exhibit behaviors which must test the patience and forbearance of more mature persons. This is true even up to the level of national policy.

The United States is an odd country, a nation comprised of immigrants and self-created ideals. From what I have read, when we declared our independence from England, most of Europe never figured we would win, and France just backed us in order to weaken England. We very nearly went to war with France just a little while after winning at Yorktown, because of the shabby way in which American freighters were treated. In short order we put together a navy and sent it off to punish pirates off the Barbary Coast. When England invaded us we fought back and established our nation to such a point that no nation has since taken away our land on any coast or battlefield.

We established our nation by a Constitution so effective that dozens of other countries copied it in their own legislatures. We established a military so dominant that we are the acknowledged force of order when so employed. Our money is so ubiquitous that even Communist countries hold reserves of Treasury notes and U.S. currency as a hedge against the weakness of their own money. Our culture pervades everywhere, whether music or literature or mass media. It’s obvious to everyone willing to look, that God has blessed this nation very well and for a very long time.

And for good reason. The United States has symbolized not only the free exercise of faith and personal responsibility, but also the assimilation of all immigrants into an emerging new identity, one which advances Mankind in his best merits. It is no coincidence that America takes the lead in global change. While other nations may begin or support a movement, it always depends on the United States to find its momentum. Without the United States, the League of Nations never had a chance. Once it betrayed the United States, the United Nations lost its right to claim any sort of moral leadership.

As we continue into the Twenty-First century, the world once again looks upon America and is amazed. Afghganistan was supposed to tear us up, but instead it is growing into something better than it has ever been before. Iraq was supposed to be another 'Vietnam', but it has had two free elections and increasingly is able to take careof its own affairs. Al Qaeda has lost more than the Old press will admit, and the U.S. Military looks as strong as ever. Our moral compass is sure, our ideals clean, and we still seem to enjoy God's favor.

Small wonder the enemies of America hate this. To them, we are still the "top dog", and they neither understand nor care that we are not trying to be their superiors, but merely keeping the trust given to us. What we get from France, from Venezuela, from Iran, is no more than a dog's petty dominance game, one which by the Grace of God we shall not lose to them. Not because we deserve the victory, but because we have been trustworthy with that stewardship.

Friday, March 31, 2006

Listen To The Lady


The Anchoress is always smart and relevant. So I ought to have read this articlebefore today. She says what I have been saying, but with better moral force and eloquence. Especially this section:

“We have to think long and hard about what it means - and what it will FEEL like - to gather people together at gunpoint and put them on trains to send them to a place they do not want to go. Our intentions could be the purest and most noble in the world…that scenario still still smacks of history we don’t want associated with us. It sets a precedent we dare not embrace. I don’t want to see such pictures in our history books. That is not America. That cannot be America, if she is to survive.”

Read the whole thing. Then read it again. There is a secure solution, that protects the nation’s security while keeping alive the ideal of America. Let’s work for both goals.

Thursday, March 30, 2006

Restating The Obvious

Sadly, this needs to be said again, and again, and again.

Are there evil men in Islam? Of course, but only a bigot pretends that Islam is ipso facto evil because of it. I can say this, and I have, because the numbers simply do not bear out the charge. 1.4 Billion practicing Muslims, and only about 13,000 acts of terrorism since 9/11. Yes, that’s only one dimension, but it’s a fact that almost no one is willing to admit to, and it’s salient.

I could tell you real-life stories of Hindus just as evil, including a family which killed their daughter for marrying the man she loved instead of the arranged groom. I could tell you about a group of Buddhist businessmen I knew about, who murdered a colleague in order to obtain his fortune. Evil is individual in most cases, and in Islam it is the Jihadists, not the Muslims as a whole, who are the enemy.

Now some continue to demand that all the Muslims around the world act as they demand. But in fact, the places which get the attention about what the Muslims do are in the United States, Europe, and the Middle East. I am not going to write a dissertation in detail here, but just as a comparison, have you noticed all the jack-asses protesting against Immigration Reform? Look how much press they get, and the image being sent around the world is that the American people don’t want this reform, when the fact is the exact opposite. Now, I am not going to argue endlessly about this with people, but I continue to contend this is something where blaming the whole for the sins of the few does nothing to solve the problem, to win over the doubters, or to prove a moral foundation on our part.

I know good Muslims, I know bad Muslims. I know some Muslims here in Houston, and a few in the Middle East. From my experience, they’re no better or worse as a whole than Americans or Christians or anyone else. They’re people - imagine that.

Border Security


When the idiots shouting all those slogans and insults, on both the Left and on the Right, finally shut up long enough to let the sober and the mature address the issues of moment, the basic issues become clear, although the inevitable renewal of braying from the whiners obscures their discovery too often. In the case of sorting out Immigration Reform and also addressing National Security, a common priority shows up: Border Security. What to do about the millions of illegals already here is one concern, but there needs to be a means for reducing, ideally stopping, the flow of more illegal immigrants to the United States.

The United States has more problems with its borders than people realize. In addition to the much-publicized southern land border with Mexico, there is the all-too-often-ignored border with Canada, but there is also the Virtual Border; that network of sea and air ports which allow foreigners entry to the United States from thousands of locations along the coasts and in countless towns and cities. If we are to be serious about the National Security aspects of Border Control, we have to acknowledge that the known terrorist cells have flown or driven into the United States. While the use of ‘coyotes’ is a disturbing possibility that needs attention, we must not forget the use of ubiquitous travel services already known to serve the needs of Al Qaeda and other terror groups.

Now, there have been a lot of people saying one thing or another to accuse President George W. Bush of neglecting Border Security. The Customs and Border Patrol offices of the DHS report that for Fiscal Year 2005, CBP had a budget of $6.457 Billion and 40,636 Full-Time Employees. For Fiscal 2006 that was increased to $7.144 Billion and 41,986 Full-Time Employees. And for Fiscal 2007 that was increased again to $7.846 Billion and 43,758 Full-Time Employees. Each of these budgets was the all-time biggest when they were announced, and the 2007 Budget is three times what was allotted in the Fiscal 1995 Budget, not only for the office but for Border Patrol in specific, and five times the Budget for 1993. That’s a geometric increase in scale from the Clinton Administration.

While many people falsely accuse President Bush of supporting an “amnesty” or ignoring the need for secure borders, the President has actually been paying close attention to the people most familiar with the problem and the programs which work. The Secure Border Initiative, created by the DHS in special coordination with ICE, has recommended the Guest Worker program the President has discussed, in conjunction with Workplace Enforcement, the Criminal Alien Program (which targets and removes known criminals from other countries as a priority effort), and Fugitive Operations, which tracks down absconders inside the United States. As a result, where almost all interdiction in the past took place at the border, the United States today operates at multiple levels, pre-empting attempts before they reach the United States, capturing smuggling operations en route, and also chasing down illegals which get into the United States. For internal security reasons, the public does not hear much about such operations, but they are happening and are starting to have real effect.

Obviously, more needs to be done. To my mind, three significant campaigns need to be started. We need the Fence along the borders, north and south. We need a significant PR campaign to make clear that legal immigration is welcome, but illegal immigration is plain wrong, and we need Congress to take the leash off the IRS and FBI to catch and punish businesses which knowingly hire illegals or which refuse to employ identity security in hiring. Unfortunately, because of the demonstrated cowardice on Capitol Hill, this cannot effectively begin until 2007.

[ next – Waging the PR War ]

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Why Republicans Continue To Win and Win and Win


A fellow writing under the name of ‘NanceGregg’ at DU posted what he considered a scathing list of issues which, in his opinion, should discredit the Republican Party in the mind of their base. The topics he finds worthy include the following:

· Assumptions that Bush is guilty of something, on the further assumption that he is trying to “thwart any investigation”.

· Assumptions that the Republican Party chose and “insists on using” Diebold voting machines, even in states and precincts controlled by Democrats, and where the machines were selected and purchased during the Clinton Administration.
* Envy that VP Cheney is getting his Halliburton pension, and that while he has earmarked the money for charity once he can legally touch it again, anger that he has not broke the law in order to give away his own money ahead of time. Apparently, the laws governing the control of money held in trust is a mystery to the Left.

· Complaints, despite increased spending in their favorite areas, that the Government has not spent enough on Liberal preferences.

· The standard Liberal presumption of guilt for Frist, simply because the Democrats have managed to get him investigated. Not convicted, not even indicted, just investigated.

· Standard Liberal ADD claims that the reason we are fighting Iraq “keeps changing from week to week”. The clear evidence and statements continue to elude them.

· Standard Liberal Lies that Republicans are all about 'Big Oil, Big Pharma, and Big Business' (never mind Kerry/Kennedy etc’s money, I guess).

· Pretending Abramoff only talked to Republicans.

· Throwing up innuendo about Bush’s alleged lack of military service, while their own candidates refuse to release documents Bush signed over many years ago.

· Still deny the link between Saddam Hussein and Terrorism, even in the face of new compelling evidence that he was very much in contact and support with Al Qaeda.

Keep it up, fellas. The farther you take yourself from sanity, the more Americans see the Light and vote for the Right.

Monday, March 27, 2006

Immigration – What Is Needed


Well, it’s a slow season in an election year, which always seems to bring out the Whiners. Sure enough, the Immigration issue has come up again, which is reasonable, but has brought along with it a raucous caucus of panic peddlers and People Insanely Selfish & Stubborn. Nowhere is this more obvious than when the issue is soberly discussed.

In the main, people in the United States are agreed that as a nation of immigrants, we have a responsibility to accept the people who wish to come here, following reasonable conditions. Obviously, the laws and written and the actions practiced by the U.S. Government are inappropriate to the present need, for which a reform and repair is badly needed. To my mind, the mindless attacks from both Left and Right against president George W. Bush only prove once again how thin his support can be, even when he proves his credentials over and over again. Such frivolous desertion of the President by so many so-called ‘republicans’ is why I fear the Democrats could one day retake Congress and the White House.

George W. Bush, for the record, is not only eminently sane in his perspective, but as a former Governor of Texas, he certainly knows about the border problems and is acutely interested in finding a serious and permanent solution. For that matter, Ronald W. Reagan was a former Governor of California, and like Bush well aware of the border situation and intent on resolving it. The brayers against Bush might do well to notice that Reagan’s record on Immigration Reform, even in terms of programs submitted to Congress, was not especially better than Bush’s; in fact, I would go so far as to say Bush has tried harder on that front.

It needs to be understood that there are multiple forces at work. On one end is the White House, which must balance the noise from the Justice, Labor, DHS, State and other Departments, and on the other end are the Federal courts, which have a history of wreaking havoc on attempts to reform laws.

The other two major groups are the House and Senate, which is bad enough, but even then they are split into many sub-groups, including new members versus veterans, those coming up for re-election, border states versus high-demand labor states, and you get the idea. It’s easier to wrestle a pit full of pythons than get a comprehensive immigration reform bill through Congress, to say nothing of what the final product would look like.

Frankly, Bush is doing as well as any sane person can expect, with strong increases in budget and numbers for the Border Patrol, Customs, and border-defense. The problem of compliance with the existing law is on another order entirely, and while some have wrongly claimed that Bush is ignoring these aspects of the problem, it will have to be addressed separately. Those morons who think we can simply round up the illegals already in the country have obviously not considered their response to any number of past initiatives, to say nothing of the complications in trying to find and remove more than ten million of any type of person who does not wish to be found. God grant we put saner heads in charge of future discussions than what gets printed in the papers now.

[ next - border security ]

Prayers For The Saints


Abdul Rahman, arrested in Afghanistan on charges of converting from Islam to Christianity, is apparently going to be released. While officials are hedging in their explanation of the decision, at one time suggesting there is insufficient evidence to prosecute, but also claiming he is mentally “unfit”.

This situation remains problematic for all concerned. Rahman is still in great danger of being killed by angry mobs, especially since Muslim clerics have been demanding his death. An obvious short-term answer would be for Rahman to leave Afghanistan, but he understandably does not wish to do so, and also, fleeing the country would allow Jihadists to claim a sort of victory, and would fail to help the cause of other Christians in Afghanistan, especially those who also used to be Muslims. This creates a significant dilemma for the new government in Afghanistan, which is trying to balance traditional Sharia as the law in Afghanistan with convincing Western nations that Islamic Democracy means tolerance and cultural advancement.

For the world of Islam, it means sorting out a modern answer to moral dilemmas which avoids betraying either the tradition of Sharia, or collapsing beneath the thuggery of the Jihadists. For the United States, it represents the conflict between acknowledging the sovereignty of Afghanistan and influencing the development of a social morality infrastructure.

And in case it has slipped your mind, the Chinese government, which has nothing to do with Sharia, continues to hold documentary film-maker and blogger Hao Wu without charges or legal representation, denying visits of any kind from anyone. One hopes that Secretary of State Rice might make a phone call or visit on his behalf. And for those inclined to pray for the saints under siege in this world, a few extra words for Abdul Rahman and Hao Wu might be in order.

Sunday, March 26, 2006



I am, as I have mentioned before, going back to school to get my MBA, for the purpose of opening career levels presently denied to me. OK, and to make more money. It’s a fine line, meeting my responsibility as a father and husband to provide security and comfort for my family, without crossing the line and loving money. I trust God to help me out there, as the history of more than a few smacks upside the head bear witness. It also seems to me from time to time, that I am not quite where I am meant to be. Again I am aware that humans often feel they deserve better than they have, often without merit, but I also feel I should be responsive to becoming all I can be. I admit I’m a bit tired, which always messes up focus, but I sense this is one of those ubiquitous feelings we all get.

The company I work for is pretty good, but I have noticed four distinct social classes in the workforce, and it occurs to me to wonder about what is necessary to advance from one to another, presuming this is possible. The floor is one class, the lower and middle management another, the self-defined professionals another, and the company directors at the top the last. The first three are usually defined by experience and education, but the last is something different. Certainly no executive seems to join a company the same way us working stiffs do, going through the obstacle course in HR and the minefield of sending in a reume and begging for an interview. Certainly the executives have a far better position to negotiate their salaries and perks than ordinary employees ever do, and it certainly seems the executives do not face the normal sorts of periodic performance review. From an objective of satisfying pay and prestige, job security and personal recognition, being an executive is an obvious career target. Ahhhh, but how to get there?

I have to stop here and explain that I am not anti-Executive, nor do I think that being an Executive is of itself a proper goal. The work is its own reward at times, and I do like the idea of being the right man in the right place to make a difference. More than once I have wondered if I could do the job well enough to avoid some of the bad decisions made at the top, or to put some of the ideas promised so often into actual operation. One major reason I would like to be a company officer at my place, is because I believe I could make a difference, for the team and for our customers.

Of course, my road is going to be a little tough anyway. I want to focus on Sox compliance in particular, and Accounting in general, and it’s hard to get excited about an accountant, I know. Then again, if you take apart the numbers you see what’s really going on with a company. It’s CSI with money, you know?