Friday, September 09, 2005

Senator Feingold: LaFollette? Or McCarthy?

Senator Russell Feingold, Democratic senator from Wisconsin, has called for President Bush to withdraw all troops from Iraq by 31 December 2006.

Russell Feingold also knows Wisconsin’s storied history of senators. There was Robert “Fighting Bob” LaFollette, a Progressive. LaFollette is considered among the pantheon of great United States senators. Mr. Feingold would like people to think of him in this light.

Then there was Joseph “Tailgunner Joe” McCarthy. You know him as the 1950’s senator on a hunt for Communists in Washington, DC, in Hollywood, even in the army. McCarthy met his match when he went after the army.

It’s interesting that both of these senators have martial nicknames.

My grandmother went to school with Joe. She never had a kind word about him. She never mentioned, though, if she ever voted for him. She usually voted Republican and Joe ran as a Republican.

Back to Feingold. His announcement is met as a “bold, decisive move.” Well, all things considered and being relative, it’s a bold move for a senator. It also plays to the Democratic Party base. Remember Howard Dean? He had the same philosophy and the same initial burst in his campaign. Then, before you can say “ARRRRRGGGGHHHH” Dean lost the Iowa caucuses and tailspinned into political oblivion. Oh, sure, he runs the Democratic party now, but what type of position is that? And if the Dems lose more seats in 2006, he might be gone before he finishes his next “yell.”

Mr. Feingold, meanwhile, takes on an issue where he feels he is in a majority. The thing is, it’s not practical and it’s not consistent.

The impracticality of the plan is that the insurgents (really imported terrorists—and there are imported terrorists in Afghanistan as well, so don’t get started on the Iraq War making life more dangerous for Iraqis. The mass graves seem to tell me that the Iraqis weren’t much safer before the invasion) will wait out events until the US armed forces leave. Then they will step into the vacuum and take control. Meanwhile America’s credibility will be ruined. We already betrayed the Iraqi people by not taking out Saddam in 1991.

The inconsistency in this proposal is that Mr. Feingold is singling out this one area where American troops are stationed. Mr. Feingold, why not bring home the troops in Afghanistan? Or Korea? Or Europe? Why just Iraq? Hmmm? And please, no form letters from your staff. You insult me and my intelligence.

No, Mr. Feingold, you are more “Tailgunner Joe” than “Fighting Bob.” You might think you’re progressive, but you have not come up with any ideas that are in the best interests of our nation. Your bill, the McCain-Feingold bill, proved unable to keep “big money” out of politics; if anything, more money poured into politics with no restraint for what was said. Your insistence that the PATRIOT Act is wholly wrong is also unwarranted. Read what Lincoln did during the Civil War and how “unconstitutional” many of his actions were. The Union survived, our rights remain intact, and Mr. Lincoln is revered as a great president.

And now you want to betray the Iraqi people.

Haven’t the Iraqi people suffered long enough? At long last, sir, haven’t they suffered long enough?

Friday, September 02, 2005

How to lower gas prices

Here in Wisconsin gas is running about $3.25 a gallon. The Republican-led legislature has proposed suspending state gasoline taxes for the immediate future. The Democrativ governor's proposal is to lift a state law mandating a "minimum mark-up" on the price of gasoline (basically, a station owner must mark up his/her price a certain amount above what that person/company paid for the fuel). This "Minimum Mark-up" law is ostensibly to protect small operators and "Mom-and-Pop" operators from being driven out of business by large corporations.

So, we have two philosophies. One is creating a reprieve of a tax burden that benefits all (except the state coffers). The other one is willing to sacrifice small business owners to the whims of large corporations.

What do you think? Which plan is better suited for this emergency?

Or do you believe this is temporary and there is no emergency?

By the way, the state tax on gasoline? It is written into law that it goes up a certain percentage every April 1. Just like those automatic pay hikes for federal congress(wo)en and senators.

Some thoughts on what's in the news

The Wall Street Journal sends a daily e-mail which is called the "OpinionJournal Best of the Web." It is conservative in nature, often reflecting my own views. Today I want to comment further on some items they addressed.
Is Katrina Racist?
Al Sharpton showed up on Keith Olbermann's "Countdown" on MSNBC last night, and the pair sounded a theme that's becoming depressingly familiar in the effort to demagogue hurricane Katrina:

Olbermann: I actually heard a commentator this afternoon--it was that Limbaugh--suggest that the issue of class and race in those who were left behind in New Orleans was irrelevant, because, as he put it, those people were not forced to live there and they weren't bused into New Orleans. And I was thinking, A, this guy is even more clueless than I thought he was, which is saying something. But, B, there are people who actually believe that. How do you respond to them? How do you explain to them what the truth is? . . .
OK, Mr. Olbermann, why waste our time? You have already stated the "truth," you have come to a conclusion--perhaps a biased conclusion? You asked leading questions of the witness (an opposing trial attorney would be all over you if you used this line of questioning in a court of law). So much for a "unobjective" approach to journalism.
Sharpton: . . . The real question is not only those that didn't get out. The question is why has it taken the government so long to get in. I feel that, if it was in another area, with another economic strata and racial makeup, that President Bush would have run out of Crawford a lotquicker and FEMA would have found its way in a lot sooner.
Then there's the "Rev." (sic) Al Sharpton who never met an incident he couldn't put a racist label on--even if he supported an alleged rape victim crying "race," then cried "race" when her story was revealed to be false. So "Rev." (sic), why didn't YOU gather supplies and lead a caravan to help the city? What moral authority do YOU have to sit in a broadcast booth and denounce the lack of action on the part of others?
The Case for Rebuilding
Yesterday we noted the case for pessimism about whether New Orleans can come back from
the Katrina catastrophe. George Friedman of the Stratfor intelligence firm argues that it must:

The Ports of South Louisiana and New Orleans, which run north and south of the city, are as important today as at any point during the history of the republic. . . .A simple way to think about the New Orleans port complex is that it is where the bulk commodities of agriculture go out to the world and the bulk commodities of industrialism come in. The commodity chain of the global food industry starts here, as does that of American industrialism. If these facilities are gone, more than the price of goods shifts: The very physical structure of the global economy would have to be reshaped. . . .New Orleans is not optional for the United States' commercial infrastructure. It is a terrible place for a city to be located, but exactly the place where a city must exist. With that as a given, a city will return there because the alternatives are too devastating. The harvest is coming, and that means that the port will have to be opened soon. As in Iraq, premiums will be paid to people prepared to endure the hardships of working in New Orleans. But in the end, the city will return because it has to.
You know, in 1803 our government sought to buy New Orleans because of its vital role in world trade and American commerce. We came away buying the whole of the Louisianna Purchase. I'd say New Orleans has long been a center of American and global commerce. It isn't by chance that the Civil War's end was hastened once New Orleans fell to the Union forces.
Durbin's Curious Civil Rights Views
Sen. Dick Durbin, best known for likening American soldiers to Nazis, weighs in today with a Chicago Tribune op-ed in advance of the John Roberts hearings. Mostly it's liberal boilerplate, but one assertion got our attention: "Nowhere did the Constitution expressly give Congress the authority to pass the Civil Rights Act [of 1964]."
You know, had a CONSERVATIVE or a REPUBLICAN said this, he/she would have been denounced until that person would have A) apologized, B) resigned in disgrace, and probably even C) been shaken down by "Rev." (sic) Jesse Jackson to "help" (sic) minority organizations (i.e., his own minority pockets).

Have a happy Labor Day weekend!

Thursday, August 11, 2005

Chinese women

This is just a quick observation.

The Peninsula Daily News, August 10, 2005, relays a report from
The Independent that has the following item:

China faces an acute lack of women.

So serious is the dearth of females that it is estimated that by 2020, 40 million men will be forced to remain bachelors.

Last month it was announced that female astronauts are to be recruited for China's space program, in an effort to create positive female role models and reverse the traditional Chinese preference for
boys over girls.

So, there's a shortage of women, but they'll address this by sending the few they have into space? Think about it....

Monday, August 08, 2005

A Hall of Fame game

Tonight the NFL Hall of Fame preseason game will be played. This game will feature the Miami Dolphins and the Chicago Bears. One would have thought perhaps the Dolphins and San Francisco 49ers would be playing as two inductees in yesterday's ceremony were Dan Marino (Dolphins) and Steve Young (49ers).

But perhaps it's best that the weekend Dan Marino is inducted the game should be played by the two teams that played a game that if not defined Marino's career cemented it. Let's go back, to 1985, the Bears are 12-0 and the Dolphins, fresh off a Super Bowl loss to the 49ers, are still fighting for a playoff spot (they would win the division, but lose the conference championship game to New England).

The Bears had eaten quarterbacks all year. The Bears brought a heavy blitz to the house, a blitz that prevented the opposing quarterback from getting time to get set and find an open receiver.

That scheme had worked for 12 games as the Bears swaggered in 12-0. There was talk that the Perfect Season of the 1972 Dolphins would be matched (ironically, that talk surrounded the Dolphins the previous season as they started out 12-0).

But the game on Monday night turned out to be a route. But it was the underdog Dolphins who were doing the routing. By halftime it was evident that Miami was in control and Chicago had no answer to Marino.

You see, the blitz didn't bother Marino. His line blocked just well enough, his release was quick enough, and the blitzing Bears left way too many receivers open for Marino to find, which he frequently did. Had the Bears seen film of the previous Super Bowl, they might have dropped men in coverage rather than blitz. But they died that night on the blitz, a scheme Marino exploited like no other quarterback before and still no other QB has exploited it.

In the second quarter my Bears fan friends decided they didn't want to face me--one even locked himself in his room (I think we heard him sobbing). They were so sure the Bears would not only win that game but go undefeated.

Had it not been for a rare cool day in Miami and a rare sloppy performance by the Dolphins, the 'Phins and Bears may have met for a rematch in the Super Bowl. Would Buddy Ryan have stuck with his blitzing scheme and given Marino a Super Bowl title? Or would the Bears have learned something from that night? I think the Dolphins would have won the rematch--the blitzing covered up the weak secondary of the Bears that year.

Thursday, July 28, 2005

AARPing Up My Tree

I received an e-mail today. It asked me: "Are you 50 or older?"

I looked at who sent this e-mail to me. It was AARP. AARP, in case you didn't know, stands for "Association for the Advancement of Retired People"--I think. I'm not sure what's being advanced other than years in age.

One things that hasn't advanced is the age at which you are invited to join retirees, whether or not you actually are, indeed, retired! I remember when you actually had to be retired (at least 62 years old) to become a member of AARP. Then it was 60. My father joined when he turned 55, as did my mother.

Now the threshold is lowered again to 50. They must be in dire need of more members. Or fresh blood.

I'm 42. I don't meet that minimum requirement.

But I'm not worried. At the rate AARP is going, when I turn 45 that will be the new age one can join AARP and reap its benefits before the Grim Reaper comes. Who knows, my son might be able to join right out of college!

Will it still be called AARP, though? Or will the letter just stand for an amorphous entity with no meaning--sort of like KFC. Or STP. Just what does "STP" stand for, anyway?

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Donald Trump Heard My Cry!

For about three years now I’ve had this dream about how the rebuilding of New York City’s “Ground Zero” should proceed.

It was my contention that functionality and memorials could co-exist. I wrote then, as was published in the New York Times and Wall Street Journal, that the towers should be rebuilt. I suggested the floors that were directly hit by the planes be reserved as memorial museums of the atrocities of that day. One could be the FDNY Memorial and honored the firefighters who died that day. The other tower could have the NYPD/PA Memorial with the same honor for the policemen who died that day.

At each floor where the elevators take in and disgorge passengers large plaques could be erected that memorialize the deceased workers on that particular floor. And, of course, a replacement of the memorial to the dead from the 1993 bombing (I’m told that that memorial had been installed shortly before the events of 9/11).

I don’t know if Donald Trump read my letters, but he is now proposing the same thing. The difference? He is placing the towers in new spots and leaving the footprints of the collapsed towers for memorial pools. He also wants the new towers taller than the old ones (but not tall enough to become the tallest in the world). The buildings also wouldn’t have the distinctive vertical lines the old ones did; floor beams and vertical beams will create a crisscross effect. The supports at the lower levels that “branched” out will be there and the basic shape of the buildings will mimic the fallen towers, but the new design will have a slightly different look to it.

I wish Mr. Trump well. I don’t know if he’ll select a lead for this project on an upcoming The Apprentice, but I sure would like to see this plan implemented and built.

If you want to see the plans, go to and sign the petition if you wish to see this become reality.

Thursday, July 21, 2005

Reality Bites

In today's (21 July 2005) Chicago Tribune was this piece of news:

A Lemont-area family featured last year on Fox's "Renovate My Family" filed a lawsuit Wednesday against the network, the Hollywood production company, an Illinois developer and DuPage County, claiming shoddy work created safety hazards in their home.

Gary and Sharon Rosier were selected for the reality show because their home needed to be made accessible for their son Steven, 18, who lost the use of his limbs after a snowboarding accident two years ago. When the seven-day project was done, the Rosiers say, they found wobbly railings, dangerous and incomplete electrical work and inadequately designed rooms.

"This family had already been dealing with the tragic situation of their son's horrible accident," said their attorney, Mark Belongia. "Then they went from the thrill of someone offering to get help to this situation, where their entire lives have been made worse."

The Rosiers signed a contract with Rocket Science to be part of the reality home-makeover show, which has been canceled but will air never-seen episodes starting Aug. 8. Their lawsuit says Rocket Science used pressure tactics and gave the Rosiers false information--including promises to find doctors to cure Steven-- to get their cooperation.

The producers, the Rosiers say, promised to bring joy to a family torn apart after Steven's accident. The goal of the show, according to Fox's Web site, was to make the home accessible to Steven by adding a wheelchair ramp, wider doorways and an exercise pool.

The work was done in seven days, which TV industry experts say was designed to create tension and bring viewers to the show.

When the renovated home was "revealed" to the Rosiers on July 23, 2004, producers had to re-film the scene a few times because the family didn't look happy enough, Gary Rosier said.

"We were horrified at what we saw," he said.

The suit also says that general contractor David Dressler Inc. performed "incompetent" and "negligent" work on their home. The suit lists some of the "hundreds" of problems with the renovated home: smoke alarms that didn't function; mold growing inside the house; exposed electrical wiring; the furnace installed in an inaccessible crawl space; and improperly installed plumbing, electrical wiring and railings along the wheelchair ramp. The Rosiers say the refurbishment also eliminated needed storage space, forcing them to use boxes throughout the home to hold their belongings.

Now, I can sympathize with the family's plight. They were hoping their home would accomodate their new reality of a disabled member of the household. Maybe they should have gone with Ty and the Extreme Home Makeover crowd at ABC (American Broadcasting Company). Or is their craftsmanship just as suspect?

Anyone who has ever done any home renovating knows that the process is time-consuming. And to have it all done in a week--what were they thinking? They should have had a lawyer involved up front to ensure all details were taken care of once the director said "Cut!", the lights were turned off, and the cameras stopped rolling.

Who knows, maybe this case will go before Judge Judy or Judge Joe Brown or even The Peoples' Court. Aren't those the actual venues to petition a complaint about a reality TV show? I would like to see a reality TV show about reality TV shows gone awry!

Linked to story:,1,3409010.story?coll=chi-newslocalnearwest-hed

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

How About Some NEW News?

Headline from the AP today:

"Battle Over Nominee May Center on Abortion"

Yep. That could be boiler-plate template text for the next 20 years for any Republican nominated Supreme Court justice--well, Democrat, too, but it is assumed a Democrat will always appoint a Roe v. Wade supporter. Ah, but I'm sure a Democrat will divert from the "party-line" at some point, so don't assume.

We have had Supreme Court justice nominees "borked," named for the treatment Robert Bork received when he was nominated until he withdrew his nomination. Clarence Thomas was accused of sexual harrassment--although it is interesting that Anita Hill waits until the nomination goes to the full Senate to come forward. And recently President Bush's nominees for lower courts have been denied or filibustered because the candidates were "too radical"--never mind that many of these candidates have won overwhelming majorities in elections and some of them even in Democrat strongholds!

Even nominating blacks and women haven't detracted from this debate. At the core of the debate will be be underway now that Bush has named a nominee is his views on abortion (couched, of course, in legal terms and positions the candidate has taken. But don't forget the litmus test from which all debate will spring is the person's views and any rulings in the past in regard to abortion or anything remotely close to abortion and Roe v. Wade).

So, yes, ever since Reagan was president "
Battle Over Nominee May Center on Abortion" has been a given. So why is it news today?

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

What Women CAN Control

The name Susette Kelo probably doesn’t mean much to you. I’ll try and jog your memory.

Kelo v. New London.

Still no clue? Well, she was part of a landmark Supreme Court case. Of course it probably won’t get the fame and notoriety that another Supreme Court case has received: Roe v. Wade. I doubt many Supreme Court justice nominations and hearings will be fraught with possible perils of repealing Kelo v. New London. We won’t likely be celebrating/mourning Kelo v. New London in 25 years. The Wall Street Journal won’t likely be publishing their findings on a Kelo effect.

Yet both cases involve rights. And I found it ironic that a woman was part of this case.

You see, Roe v. Wade ruled that a woman has a right to control what happens to her body.

But Kelo v. New London has ruled that a woman (and, for that matter, a man, a church, an institution, etc.) has no right to personal property under eminent domain. Yep, a clause that made it possible for a local government to buy property at fair market value for the public good (roads, schools, government buildings, etc.) has been expanded to include private property that a private developer might want. The public good appears to be whatever the rich want. And I find it interesting that the Democrats and the liberals supported this Supreme Court ruling!

Or will they soon use this to seize property from churches, private schools, and the like? It might be argued that teaching Creation is not in the public good, therefore for the public good a Christian school is seized and it becomes a humanist center for humanist studies.

Eminent domain isn’t new. Baltimore and Oakland used this provision to try and keep National Football League franchises in town. They probably should try again. They have Supreme Court precedent on their side now.

The real travesty is that this nation was built on the concept of personal property rights. It was written into the Constitution that the government could not just seize one’s personal property. But a slippery slope appeared when this protection was breached for what was deemed good reason. If someone was caught will illegal drugs, according to the Zero Tolerance policy that person forfeited the rights to that property, even before having a trial. No one questioned it then—public good, you know. But now someone wants your house or my house, or the land my church sits on.

Now there is Supreme Court precedent for you to lose that property and there is nothing you can do.

Forget the Patriot Act. Forget about possible (and so far unproven) detainee abuses at Guantanimo. What the Supreme Court did in Kelo v. New London was undermine Constitutional rights—and this was done in broad daylight!

Friday, July 01, 2005

Dark Potato Chips

Today I want to share some information about myself, namely a matter of taste in food.

I like dark potato chips. You know, those random chips that somehow snuck past the potato chip factory quality control. I love those little devils. The seem to have more taste.

Unfortunately, they are a distinct minority in bags of potato chips--if you can find them at all. What I would really like to see is dedicated bags of potato chips specifically darker in color. You have the regular chips, the ripple chips, BBQ chips, sour cream and onion chips, etc. Why don't special dark chips and special dark ripple chips? I'd be in line to buy them!

So if anyone from Jay's or Lay's or O-Kee-Dokee or Old Dutch or any other chip fryer out there is reading this blog, help me in my pursuit of "life, liberty, and the pursuit of a dark chip" by considering this idea.

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Should we leave Iraq?

There is a growing sentiment among members of Congress to urge President Bush to withdraw the troops from Iraq. At the very least they are calling for an exit strategy and a timetable for such an exit.

Yet, I fail to hear these same Congresspeople and Senators call for troop withdrawal from Germany or Japan, even though hostilities with those nations ended in 1945. Granted, there were Cold War considerations for keeping troops there, but does anyone fear a Soviet attack today?

Do these same leaders want our troops withdrawn from Korea? Yep, we still have them there even though hostilities were put on hold roughly 50 years ago. Okay, so technically we're still in a "state of war" with North Korea--but shouldn't we get our troops out before they die?

The Heritage Foundation reports that "In 2003, 387,920 troops were stationed on foreign soil." There are roughly 136,000 troops in Iraq.

Some cite the casualties of the Iraq War. The latest figures show 1743 deaths in Iraq (3/19/2003 through 6/28/2005), a rate of just over 2 deaths per day. 192 U.S. servicemen have died in Afghanistan--a much lower daily average since the casualties are lower and the war has lasted longer.

Meanwhile, a conservative estimate of casualties on D-Day alone is 8,443 ( Yes, that's right, one day alone in World War II saw 5 times as many deaths as the sum total of casualties in the war on terror. Add in the roughly 3,000 casualties on 9/11 and the number is still below that one day on Normandy's beach.

Remember the battle of Gettysburg? That three day battle claimed 51,112 soldiers--23,049 Union and 28,063 Confederate (hat tip: That comes to a staggering 17,037 deaths each day!

After World War II U.S. forces faced insurgencies and disparate groups seeking to keep out the "invaders." At one point in 1946 the New York Times declared "Germany is - a land in an acute stage of economic, political and moral crisis. [European] capitals are frightened. In every [military] headquarters, one meets alarmed officials doing their utmost to deal with the consequences of the occupation policy that they admit has failed." Many did not believe Germany or Japan were capable of democracy. Not only are they capable, but they also determine their own fates and destinies. They have not been puppets of the American government.

And isn't that what democracy is all about? And don't we owe it to the Iraqis to guide them as they feel their way into democracy and establish their government and identity among the democracies of the world?

Monday, June 27, 2005

The Ten Commandments

I just read on the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel web site that the court issued a ruling on Ten Commandments displays. It seems that the court ruled that each instance is unique. They are okay in front of the Texas statehouse, but not okay inside a Kentucky courtroom.

Now, what makes it okay in one instance to allow the display of the Ten COmmandments but not in another case? The article stated thus:

The justices voting on the prevailing side in the Kentucky case left themselves legal wiggle room, saying that some displays inside courthouses - like their own courtroom frieze - would be permissible if they're portrayed neutrally in order to honor the nation's legal history.

But framed copies in two Kentucky courthouses went too far in endorsing religion, the court held. Those courthouse displays are unconstitutional, the justices said, because their religious content is overemphasized.

Okay, so as long as there is no "religious" content, the Ten COmmandments are okay? How, pray tell, are the Ten Commandments "non-religious?" The whole debate over the Ten Commandments is that they are religious. A photo with the article showed a version beginning with "I am the Lord they God." Presumably this was from the banned version. But even taking this statement out one still has "Thou shalt have no other gods before me" (don't you have to then state which is the Supreme God?) and "Do not take the name of the Lord your God in vain." Will these statements be taken out for Ten Commandment displays to be kosher?

The way I see it, the Ten Commandments are recognized by Christians and Jews. They are found in the Christian Bible and the Jewish Scriptures. Muslims have a respect for these books as well, so I suspect they have no quarrels with the Ten Commandments.

Of course, the United States is a multi-cultural society. Down the street from where I live is a Baha'i meeting place. Hindu believers are also found in Milwaukee. Elsewhere one will find devotees to Buddha and Confucius. Should we leave out the Ten Commandments for the sake of these people?

One of the classes we took in the seminary was a study of world religions. This included reading the sacred texts of each religion, such as the Bhagavad Gita. Many have precepts, usually less than ten, but a maneagable number. And, interestingly, they basically uphold the rights of people--you know, don't kill, don't steal, don't commit adultery, don't sass your parents, etc. And not only do these precepts preserve the same human rights and property as the Ten Commandments, they do so in similar fashion and in similar order.

So my suggestion is to place the rules of living from all religions in our courtrooms and government buildings. They envelope the fact that most Americans are faith-based and live by common rules, rules needed for an orderly society.

Welcome to the Hoh Blog

Welcome to The Hoh Blog. This forum will look at issues in the political and religious spheres. By way of introduction, I am a free-lance writer who writes primarily on religious topics. I attended four years of Lutheran seminary and have published several books.

My writing experience includes several books ( I also have been a contributing editor for Suite, writing on topics such as Lutheranism, the Underground Railroad, Airline Liveries, Arena Football League, and Christian Humor.

I look forward to sharing my thoughts with you on this forum. Hopefully we can interact and everyone learns something along the way. At the very least I hope discussions are thought-provoking.