Wednesday, June 25, 2008

GOP Candidates for Congress

When I moved to Colorado Springs I registered as a Republican. It was the first time I had done so in my life. I saw the town as ground zero for redneck right winged conservative attitudes , and wanted to experience these things first-hand. I'll admit that I have yet to attend any local Republican functions, mainly because I'm too lazy to research and find out when they occur. The local Party doesn't send any notices out, and I have never received anything from them in the way of literature or phone calls. If I ran the local Party, I'd have an information packet sent out to all newly registered voters that explains the local issues, local events, and where to go for more information.

There are three local candidates running for Congress, Doug Lamborn, Jeff Crank, and Bentley Rayburn. Of all of their websites, the incumbent Doug Lamborn's looks the best and is better organized. His positions on the issues are well written, Jeff Crank's are rather sloppily thrown together, and Bentley Rayburn's are one sentence lists, created for those with short attention spans.

Doug Lamborn - is the current incumbent, having been elected in 2006. He seems to be the perfect Party man, having voted the way he was told 100% of the time, and has glowing reviews from Conservative sites for doing so. He will probably win re-election because of his don't rock the boat attitude. Personally, what I've seen of him, he's dumber than a fence post, but has good writers and staff working for him.

Jeff Crank - is, well, cranky. He was on the staff of the last longtime incumbent, Joel Hefley, and assumed that he was next in line for the position. He is trying to create issues that show Doug Lamborn's incompetence. Philosophically, there isn't much difference between them, so the choice seems to be Between rubber stamp A, or rubber stamp B... Also, he was a lobbyist for awhile, and should not be rewarded for selling his soul so cheaply.

Bentley Rayburn - is a retired Air Force General, who moved here because he is a narrow-minded Christian evangelical, and he will become a big fish in this small pond. The big strike against him is that he is a carpet-bagger, who had not ever bought property here, and will probably move on if he loses. The mayor backs him because he thinks that Bentley will bring in more military contracts than the other two candidates. He also seems to be an arrogant person who believes that just being a General will impress you into voting for him. He claims that he was in charge of a multi-million dollar budget, but of course he personally didn't crunch any numbers or made any critical decisions. He delegated the responsibility and let the Pentagon make the important decisions, so you could say that he was successful in carrying out his orders... I just think it's better to keep elected representatives separate from the military, and don't think that he has a critical eye for other points of view other than his own narrow world.

It looks like I won't be supporting  any Republican candidates for Congress this year. I haven't seen any new or creative thinking on how to solve the Middle East crisis, just prolonging the same tired policies that have created the mess in the first place. The Democratic controlled Congress has been all rhetoric and no solutions either. We need more national dialogues on the issues, with more opinions coming from regular people and a wider variety of " experts " instead of the few that each network employs.

- yiquan

Monday, June 16, 2008

On Spies and Intelligence

In Last Sunday's Denver Post there was an article by David Ignatius on a recent conference to fix the CIA and the nation's intelligence agencies. The basic recommendations were:

   * The reorganization should be rationalized. One person should run the entire community, and that person should probably also have oversight of the CIA's clandestine service.
   * The CIA should stop trying to be all things to all policymakers and instead concentrate on the hard targets that matter most.
   * Washington should learn from what's working in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Not earth-shaking news, I know. There are reams and reams of reports and analysis generated by too many agencies, and nobody is co-ordinating them into a cohesive whole because of childish turf wars, and George Bush's illiteracy. After 9/11, the public's confidence lowered when it became clear that agencies like the CIA were producing reports that bolstered the administration's viewpoints and did not reflect situations as they actually were. Or, in other words, they lied... Much of the national discussion came about from a published history of the CIA, Tim Weiner's Legacy of Ashes.

If even one page of this book is true, it's a damning indictment of our intelligence community, run by incompetent idiots who have killed untold thousands of lives in operating fucked up clandestine operations all over the world. Much of the hatred of the US in Asia, the Middle East, and South America is due from their meddling and machinations. Most of the illegal sale of arms and importing of drugs are done to finance covert operations that are kept hidden from the public eye; the rest done by black market opportunists in our military. As for intelligence, the CIA has gotten every major prediction of world events wrong, from the Korean War, to the dismantling of the Berlin Wall and to the intentions of Iraq before we invaded.

My father spent his career working for TRW; he had a hand in designing almost every satellite that went into space for over 30 years. He had a top secret security clearance, and as he grew older the younger generations of designers couldn't qualify for that level of clearance, he ended up working on the spook satellites. I remember him boasting that there were satellites up there that could count the number of hairs on a gnat's ass...

A running argument that I had with him was over the need of secrecy. I was for complete transparency and disclosure of where our tax dollars are spent, and he was not. One time he got angry and he exploded " The reason we have secrecy is to hide all of the mistakes we've made! "
End of discussion. 

So much of the Pentagon's budget and our Intelligence budget goes to these mistakes concocted by arrogant sociopaths, and are supported by the co-dependent members of Congress. If we diverted tomorrow the monies going to these groups, we could get rid of income taxes or end poverty and hunger in our country. I doubt anyone has the cojones to do it, but at least some of the information is now out in the public arena.


Monday, June 9, 2008

Amendment 48

Kristi Burton is a home-schooled teenager who has successfully gotten an amendment onto the November ballot. She is quite religious and feels that this is her calling from God. Colorado is going to be a test state in the never ending war against Roe vs Wade and abortion rights.

The amendment states that at the moment of conception the fertilized embryo becomes a person. What is inferred but not stated is that the instant of conception is sacred and to kill that person is murder, which will be the next step if this amendment is passed.

The hypocrisy here is that conception is sacred only for humans. Because if the moment of conception is sacred, it is sacred for all beings. To eat meat or kill any animal would also be murder, and is more in line with Buddhism than Christianity. Since we know that even plants show fear and can "scream," you cannot live on this earth without doing some kind of violence.

But more important for humans is the soul, which is a separate thing from our bodies and leaves us when we die. It allows us to transcend our animal state and become aware. No attempt is made to determine at what instant the soul enters the body, and this omission is why this amendment should not be allowed to pass. 

I grew up in a middle class neighborhood in Southern California, and when I was a kid there were girls who got pregnant and almost killed themselves trying to abort with a sharpened coat-hanger or swallowing quarts of castor oil. I certainly don't want our society to return to those tactics. Killing by self mutilation, and the psychic scars that go with it is not worth it compared to more modern abortion techniques. It is not a comfortable decision to ever make, and the body will always grieve for what has been lost, and the real Christian thing to do is to help these girls heal from that experience.


The Joys of Politics

This has been a fun year for politics, more people have gotten involved and shared opinions than perhaps ever before. The contest between Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton was a passionate roller coaster race, and it looks like Mr. Obama will become our next President.

I certainly hope that changes will be made, especially in the process of how we currently practice politics. I have a few suggestions that I think should take place, at the risk of sounding like a Libertarian:

1) It will be legal to shoot and kill all lobbyists, with the cost of the bullet to be billed to the special interest group they represent. Any representative that adds pork to a bill immediately forfeits their seat in Congress and will be replaced.
2) All laws passed will have a sunset clause, the bill will end in 20 years. Every year Congress creates and passes new laws and every year our legal system grows more confusing at an alarming pace. But society is constantly changing and often grows past the need for what was originally intended by those laws. A sunset clause would allow us to re-examine the need for each law, toss it if it no longer works, or modify it to meet the current needs.

3) We can get rid of the money in politics by having participatory democracy. On election day we have a lottery among registered party members. If your name comes up, you get to go to Congress. Or you get to become governor or mayor, one term only. Having regular people involved is better than career politicians, most of whom are vain and stupid people. This way more people are involved, more people get educated about the process, there will no longer be a need for political machines except for President, and I think we will be pleasantly surprised by the outcome.

4) If you are a policeman, you must spend one weekend per year in jail. If you are a judge, you must spend one week. It's a learning process each individual should go through so we can start a good dialogue on how to change our legal and penal system, and our representatives of that system need a constant reminder.

So, these four for a start... When I moved here to Colorado Springs I decided to register as a Republican. I'm still liberal on some issues, and conservative on others, but I enjoy researching all sides to an issue before I make up my mind. To date, nobody from the local Party has contacted me to invite me to any Party activities, and I was working when the local Caucasus were held.


Friday, June 6, 2008

Living Here

This is a funny town. Thanks to organizations like Focus on the Family, another California transplant, this area is a hotbed of Christian evangelism. It's also a military town, with NORAD, the Air Force Academy, and the Army's Fort Carson located here. For some reason there are a lot of retired Navy people here, too.

This is the most Conservative county in all of Colorado and the local newspaper is owned and run by real Libertarians. I thought their organization died off over thirty years ago, but like a bad Mormon offshoot, here they are writing opinions on a daily basis in the Gazette. Having lived by the ocean nearly all of my life, I'm used to a mellow approach to ideas and events, and I feel I have a fairly balanced mix of liberal and conservative ideals. I believe in re-examining those ideals on a regular basis and am quite willing to toss one if it no longer works. Having to force my beliefs to fit into a narrow world view, or get them rote from some organization seems wrong to me. I think that the older we get, the more fearful we are of change because the world around us seems to be changing at too fast a rate. So, we cling to our beliefs, clutch them to our chests as if they were gospel, and look silly and constipated to the younger generations...

When I drive around all of the new housing developments I notice how they are organized. It used to be that playgrounds and parks were a common denominator, here they are built around churches. My mother had a rule of thumb when evaluating where to live: the more churches a community has the more corruption you will find...

We see that here and it often makes national news because the pastors like to dabble in politics. It's not just priests who have molested children for years, but Anglicans who want to break from the main church because it supports homosexual rights. Oh, and they want to keep the historical church building along with their pastor, who was accused of embezzling church funds for the enrichment of his family.

And then we have the New Life Church, with seating for 10,000 parishioners. It was started by the infamous Ted Haggard, who, along with so many of his Catholic counterparts, just have to suck some dick every now and then. And take methamphetamines to blur the distinction of guilt. He was packed off to Arizona to rehabilitate himself, and the mega tax free money making machine was taken over by pastors from Texas, one Brady Boyd being their savior.

Unfortunately, violence and death stalked the church, with a crazed kid who was a former member of the church, killed two girls in the parking lot and himself was killed by a volunteer security guard who was packing. This spurred many people to apply for open weapon carrying permits, and some college guys to petition their college to let them on campus with their pistols. To protect and serve of course.

Guns and God do not mix well. Perhaps the best thing is to shut down New Life, disperse the faithful into other communities. If we allow everyone to carry guns ( ahh, the old cowboy mythology still at work in our imaginations ), then we should first change the laws regarding homicide...