I've been a problem solver all my life. In countless board rooms, even in the Army, I was renowned as a problem solver. Never in all that time – I'm seventy-one years old now – I've never seen anyone successfully solve any problem after they're skipped Step 1...
Candidates are selected in the early months of the election year during primary elections. Most people avoid the primaries and allow party machines to make these choices for them. That's why we end up having to choose between dumb and dumber, evil and less evil. Isn't it time we made our own choices? Isn't it time to take back our nation?
Please "Like" Greg Raths on Facebook. You support helps, even if you don't live in his Congressional District. Remember, every decision made in Congress affects all of us.
It's taken me a long time to get comfortable with the idea of term limits. How about you? For me, they seemed to be an admission that we couldn't be trusted with the vote, that we would simply cast our ballot mindlessly for the same person year after year. Or maybe there's some other reason for imposing term limits that has nothing to do with us. Maybe it's time to rethink it...
Can an author of fiction achieve commercial success after coming out of the closet as a conservative?
Those who are conservative always seem open to debate (or argument if you prefer). Liberals who find themselves in the company of conservatives had best be prepared for a vigorous conversation if they espouse their views. However, they need never fear that they will be attacked personally. Nor will conservatives simply boycott their products and services over a political disagreement. Yes, there are notable exceptions when the liberals pursue an ad hominem attack for personal gain. (Remember the Dixie Chicks - they were once a popular country music group.) As a conservative artist, I can't expect such even-handed treatment, especially from progressively-minded liberals...
I've been playing around with videos since I recorded a book trailer for Rebels on the Mountain and wondered how I would do as a video blogger. Well, we're going to find out. I inserted a video in my last posting, but this is my first official Vidlog (is that even a word or did I just invent something?). I hope you like it. No, I won't quit after just one attempt. I need to make at least a few to see if I have any talent for it. So be patient with me and I will too.
And I'm serious about the political campaign. We'd really appreciate your help. Please Like Greg Rath's Facebook page. Even if you don't live in California's 45th Congressional District, your Like can help build interest in his candidacy.
It's true. We really do have the government we deserve. Unfortunately, many voters, especially young voters, became disheartened after Obama proved to be as corrupt as his predecessors and failed to deliver on any of his promises. A recent poll indicates that almost 80% now regret having supported his candidacy. What they now need to realize is that this isn't the time to walk away and wash their hands of politics. They have to come back and help clean up the mess that they helped to make or they truly deserve this government and its consequences.
Alexis Charles Henri Clérel de Tocqueville, a French political thinker and historian, famous for his work Democracy in America, is generally credited with first observing that “people have the government they deserve”. It doesn't really matter. I'm taking credit for its broader interpretation. De Tocqueville made what I see as a fatal flaw. He added the qualifier “...in a democracy.” I believe that everyone has precisely the government that they deserve regardless of the fact that it is a democracy or any other form of government. My belief is founded in my trust of the Declaration of Independence which states...
“...That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.”
Thus, if any people live under any form of oppression or tyranny, they have the same rights as we have every election day. Even though they lack the right to throw off their government at the ballot box, they may throw it off as our Founders did.
So, we made a mistake the last few times we voted. Is that any reason to surrender to tyranny?
Don't blame the government. Remember, we voted for it. Don't blame the politicians. They are simply responding to our wishes. They promise whatever we want to hear to gain our votes. If they break those promises it's only because we give them permission. How? We reelect them even after they break them.
So, who do we blame?
Well, you can begin with your local school board. Ask them, why didn't I hear of de Tocqueville before reading this blog? He was always mentioned in civics class. What's that you ask? It's the lesson where students learned how to be better citizens, to vote more intelligently, and to revere their condition as free citizens. Also, ask the school board why they allow teachers to encourage their students to revile and vilify America. That too has changed in modern times.
You can also blame American journalism. If citizens were truly aware of what has been happening, few if any of our current incumbents in Congress and state houses as well as the White House would be there. Instead, American journalists have become propagandists for career politicians and we have suffered the consequences.
It may just be that we can thank our good fortune that we have come to the precipice of the economic and political ruin at which we find ourselves today. Staring into its abysmal depths, there are few who require any proof of my assertions. My case is prima facie, true on the face of it. We need only now agree to work together to fix it. Most of all, we need the young to learn from our mistakes. Don't walk away in disgust as I did so many years ago. Roll up your sleeves and help me fix what I have broken.
I'm not sure that “courage” is the correct word. When my son was a Cub Scout and I was preparing him and his friends to advance to Boy Scouting, we discussed courage. They were, after all, expected to be brave to be good Scouts. I told them the story of Audie Murphy.
Audie Murphy was one of America's most decorated heroes during World War II. Miraculously, he survived and returned home to great acclaim. After convincing the boys that he was a hero, I challenged them to decide if he was brave. Obviously, they were confused by the question (much as you probably are). Let me explain.
I was the Chief of Awards and Decorations during the better part of my tour of duty in Vietnam. I led many panels of senior officers as they evaluated and passed judgment on recommendations for awards for valor. Although it is popular to refer to all service men and women as heroes these days, I learned that there are those who go above and beyond ordinary heroism. They act when others fear to act. To put a fine point on it, they do what is necessary to win the battle, to save the lives of others at great risk to their own, in spite of their fear. In other words, they share the same fear as the others around them, but act in spite of it while the others don't. Those Cub Scouts and I agreed, that is the definition of courage.
As I studied Audie Murphy's many awards, I discovered that he was often confused as the award citation was read. It was as though he was hearing a story for the first time and surprised to learn that it was his. It seems that he may have acted in a fugue state as when, for example, he attacked a German heavy tank with nothing but a pistol in one hand and a grenade in the other. Where was the fear? Without fear, can there be courage? Make no mistake. Audie Murphy earned every award and decoration he received, for the accomplishments if not the courage. Who cares how he dealt with fear? We celebrate his contributions to the defeat of our nation's enemies.
As I look back on my first novel, Rebels on the Mountain, I realize that it simply was not a made up story. It is, in fact, my fantasy. As a boy I had been chosen to pilot a yacht on a cruise to Cuba and denied the opportunity when my father withdrew his permission. In writing the novel, I made the trip in my imagination.
I made the story as historically accurate as possible to give substance to the fantasy. Did I include famous personalities such as Ernest Hemingway as part of that effort or to appease a self-serving motivation to fraternize with such a famous author? Was my treatment of Che Guevara in my novel fair, or was I abusing him as payback to another person, a boy from my youth, who stole my girlfriend and then threw her off, much as Che threw off wives and children? Did I include a romance with a mulata because I know that a relationship between a white and non-white would have driven my own father crazy? (I abhorred his prejudices, still do to this day.) Lastly, was the courage of my hero just a reflection of my own wish to be a little like Audie Murphy?
How could I have bared my soul to the world like that? Was it courage or, like Audie Murphy, was I completely unaware of what I was doing at the time I wrote the novel?
I suppose that if authors are to be successful, they must either be truly courageous or totally oblivious to what they are doing because, after all, all fiction is someone's fantasy.
For minorities, the road to hell is a freeway liberally paved with the worst of unintended consequences. For example, nothing has entrenched poverty more than the War on Poverty and the poor are threatening to become a new majority. However, some consequences are not unintended. One minority, veterans – less than seven percent of living Americans have served – are targeted. As with all minorities, some hold veterans in high esteem, some revile and vilify them, but most seem not to think of veterans much one way or the other except for Memorial and Veterans Days.
Politicians appear to fear veterans. Under their direction, Homeland Security conceives of scenarios wherein veterans lead armed TEA Party insurgents against the government and train for this eventuality. (See Training Facility Resembles American City) Strange, but aren't coups generally restricted to nations suffering a tyrant? Most recently I learned that career politicians fear election challenges from veterans. California legislators have crafted election laws barring veterans from announcing their service on ballots as though this might give veterans an unfair advantage in challenging their incumbency. Witness the following letter to California's Orange County Register from a veteran who is a candidate for US Congress.
“Last year I filed with the Federal Election Commission to run for California's 45th Congressional District, and this week I turned in all the required signatures to the Orange County Office of the Registrar for inclusion on the June ballot. Like other non-incumbent candidates, I am limited to three self-descriptive words below my name on the ballot, while incumbents and elected officials may use a larger amount of space to puff up their credentials. Here is yet another law that handicaps non-incumbents and entrenches the current governing elite. Nevertheless, within these constraints I chose the three words 'USMC Combat Veteran', which describes my life and personal history best. However, the California Secretary of State handbook disallowed me from using those words, and I was forced to pick three other words to describe me. I am saddened, as I am sure other proud veterans would be, that I was prohibited to use the word 'Veteran' to describe myself to voters. It's a shame to forbid patriotic veterans to describe themselves as such. Those who served our country with honor and distinction and whom want to run for public office should be allowed to represent themselves honestly and without artificial limitations.”
Colonel Raths appears to be reading the law correctly.
20716. Unacceptable Ballot Designations.
Statuses: A status is a state, condition, social position or legal relation of the candidate to another person, persons or the community as a whole. A status is generic in nature and generally fails to identify with any particular specificity the manner by which the candidate earns his or her livelihood or spends the substantial majority of his or her time. Examples of a status include, but are not limited to, veteran, proponent, reformer, scholar, founder, philosopher, philanthropist, activist, patriot, taxpayer, concerned citizen, husband, wife, and the like.
California Code of Regulations
Title 2. Administration
Division 7. Secretary of State
Chapter 7. Ballot Designations
Forgive me if I digress to my children's youth. I can't help myself. The prohibited terms hardly seem to belong together.
"One of these things is not like the other
One of these things just doesn't belong
Can you tell me which thing is not like the others
By the time I finish my song?"
Sure, “Patriot” and “Philosopher” are “P” words, but “Veteran” is easy to distinguish without looking at its initial letter. It is an official designation. The other two are not. So how do you suppose that “Veteran” found itself among such offensive company? Could it be that “Veteran”, unlike the other designations, could influence voters as much as “Incumbent”. Obviously, “Incumbent” is a magical word. Look at how many incumbents use it on their ballot and are reelected.
We must keep in mind the purpose of these regulations and prohibitions.
20710. General Provisions.
To be honest, I sympathize with the politicians in this case. It must be truly frightening to oppose someone who has obviously placed duty, honor, and country above all else while they, politicians, are an especially reviled class.
I've enjoyed following Brooke McEldowney's animation of Shakespeare's classic tale of romance and tragedy, Romeo and Juliet, in his comic strip “Pigborn”. As I mentioned in an earlier post, it is difficult to appreciate a play by simply reading its script. Actors, even cartoon actors, provide context to make the story more accessible to us common folk.
By coincidence, President Obama unveiled MyRA just as McEldowney's version of the play reached the climatic moment when Romeo attempts to intervene in a sword fight between his kinsman, Mercutio, and Juliet's kinsman, Tybalt. Despite his good intentions, Romeo's interference causes the death of Mercutio. This is the event that leads to the story's tragic ending.
Unintended consequences are rarely good. For example, the Affordable Health Care Act (ACA) may have been crafted by some with the best of intentions, but it is coming apart at the seams despite the President's best efforts to patch and delay it. Not only is the health insurance industry unraveling, but also health care providers are abandoning their practices or looking for greener pastures in other nations, and the opposition to the ACA smells blood in the water.
Some are turning on the proponents of Obamacare claiming that they must have foreseen the consequences of this legislation and, thus, intended its harmful results. I am more generous. I believe them to be simply guilty of poor problem solving.
This same lack of skill is evident in the President's latest proposal to provide wage earners with a new program for their retirement savings, MyRA. You say you're not familiar with it? Allow me to summarize. Under this plan, Americans would be permitted to shield their retirement savings in tax exempt government bonds. Although the yields would be small, these bonds would be backed by the full faith and credit of the United States Government.
The President's proposal reminds me of the tale of the farmer who gave his seed corn to a crow on the promise that it would fly the seeds beyond the reach of the mice. I'll let you figure out for yourself, who is the crow and who are the mice in this metaphorical tale, as well as its inevitable conclusion.
There are those who argue that the President doesn't have the authority to create programs on a whim, that he should have waited for Congress to craft a solution. Unfortunately, we know that past performance is the best indicator of future performance and that this Congress has little prospect of crafting any solution to any problem.
Isn't it time to replace them all before the story of our nation reaches the tragic ending that we can so easily perceive looming in the near future?
Well, it's good new and bad news all wrapped up in one package. The Good News: Michael has been paroled. The Bad News: The stain on his record remains as an injustice. Still, his family and friends are glad that he is coming home, and I'm glad for them. Still, I hope that justice will be served in this case some day.
You may read the previous episodes of this continuing story at the following linked postings in this blog as well as the website dedicated to Michael.
Original Posting: Who is more deserving of justice than the men & women who fight to defend our freedom?
Update 1: Parole hearing scheduled
Update 2: Parole denied
Update 3: Government dragging its feet in responding to Supreme Court
Update 4: Is justice delayed justice denied in the case of Lt Behenna?
Update 5: Justice plods ahead slowly: Lietenant Behenna's case in conference at the Supreme Court
Update 6: What price justice?
Update 7: Justice denied
Update 8: Appeal Denied
To the thousands of Michael supporters,
With tears of joy in our eyes we are happy to tell all of you that Michael is coming home! He called us this morning to tell us his parole had been granted and he will be released on March 14, 2014. So in one month Michael will finally be home with his family. Praise God from whom all blessings flow.....
It has been, to say the least, quite a ride. Michael signed up for the Army in order to serve his country and honor the innocent people killed on 9/11. As a lieutenant he led his men in the ‘Mad Dog’ 5th Platoon into combat in Iraq and with them bravely faced a determined and ruthless insurgency. Then his story took a bizarre turn when he was charged and later convicted of killing a known Al-Qaida cell leader who was directly involved in an IED attack that killed two of his soldiers, Steven Christofferson and Adam Kohlhaas. He spent the next five years of his life in a small cell in the medium security wing at the military prison at Fort Leavenworth serving a 15 year murder conviction.
Life is often not fair, and as we have seen, justice is sometimes hard to come by. For the innocent man who is sent to prison, life can seem especially cruel. To survive that requires strength that comes from deep inside. It also requires the love and support from family and close friends. Michael always knew he could count on his family and friends to be there for him. What has rocked his world is how thousands of people he has never met could will him through this struggle. YOU DID THAT! As you’re reading this I want you to say to yourself ‘they’re talking to me’. YOU made the difference in how our son responded to this adversity. Whether you sent him a postcard, a letter, put money in his prison account, contributed to his defense fund, wrote your Congressional Representative, shared Michael’s story with a friend, rode your motorcycle in a rally of support, or lifted Michael up in prayer to Almighty God, you made the difference. YOU literally saved our son's life with your love and support, and for that we will be forever grateful.
God bless each and every one of you!
Scott & Vicki Behenna
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