If we had no winter, the spring would not be so pleasant; if we did not sometimes taste of adversity, prosperity would not be so welcome. Anne Bradstreet

And if men come unto me I will show unto them their weakness. I give unto men weakness that they may be humble; and my grace is sufficient for all men that humble themselves before me; for if they humble themselves before me, and have faith in me, then will I make weak things become strong unto them. Ether 12:27

Yea, all things which come of the earth, in the season therof, are made for the benefit and the use of man, both to please the eye and to gladden the heart; Yea, for food and for raiment, for taste and for smell, to strengthen the body and to enliven the soul. And it pleaseth God that he hath given all these things unto man; for unto this end were they made to be used, with judgment, not to excess, neither by extortion. D&C 59:18-20

Saturday, March 12, 2011

More Politics . . .

Bradley Manning
In case anyone is not familiar with the name, here's a brief history from Wikipedia:
Manning had been assigned in October 2009 to a support battalion with the 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division, based at Forward Operating Base Hammer, Iraq. There he had access to the Secret Internet Protocol Router Network (SIPRNet), used by the United States government to transmit classified information. He was arrested after Adrian Lamo, an American computer hacker, reported to the FBI that Manning had told him during online chats in May 2010 that he had downloaded material from SIPRNet and passed it to WikiLeaks, which had begun publishing it in February.
Some are lamenting the treatment Manning is getting -- solitary confinement for 24/7 and suicide watch, which pretty much requires Manning to be naked -- arguing that it is "torture" intended to break Manning down to admit a direct connection to WikiLeaks' Julian Assange.

Two points I'd like to make -- where are all those who think waterboarding selective foreign terrorists involved in 9/11 is torture, but aren't condemning this kind of treatment of an American citizen?  The hypocrisy stinks to high heaven.  But of course, this is done on Obama's watch, which proves the outcry from the left during the Bush years was indeed very partisan.

Second, how does a soldier with Manning's rank get access to classified documents?  I don't believe the cover-story.  And I don't believe the ill-treatment is intended to make Manning confess to a direct connection with Assange -- I think it's because they know that someone else very high up gave Manning the codes he needed to access that classified data.  They want that connection, that name.

Is Manning a hero or a villain of the worst color?  I don't know, as I don't have enough information to argue one way or the other.  In my opinion, heroism and villainism depend as much on motives as on the actions, perhaps even more so.  I don't know why Manning did what he did.  I do know that the American people have a right to know what our Government is doing behind our backs.  I believe that sunshine is the only way to prevent and detect corruption, and I suspect there has been an awful lot of corruption in our Government for a very long time.

I have no objections to Gitmo -- those terrorist prisoners have to be kept somewhere, and I prefer that it's not anywhere in the contingent USA.  I am quite perturbed, however, that the Executive Order that keeps Gitmo open also allows us to detain terrorist suspects even AFTER they have been acquitted in a trial.  That's outrageous.  No one should be detained after being acquitted.  I understand that part of the system must assume these detainees are guilty of terrorism against the US when they first arrive and through the trial.  That's the only way a case can be made against them.  The Prosecutors are under no Constitutional obligation to presume innocence -- that's the role of the Judges, the Juries, and the public.  However, once an acquittal comes through a trial -- people can think what they want of the justice of the verdict, but the person must be set free.  If they are given military tribunals, as allowed by laws Congress has passed, then I think we can rest assured that the jury will not be unduly sympathetic to the suspect.  Thus an acquittal should have more credibility than what we might have if the terrorist suspect was tried before civil jurors.  This really disturbs me.

Unions, especially Teacher's Unions
I'm all for busting the power the Unions have over our school districts, cities, and states.  As far as I can see, Walker and the Republican legislature are doing what they said they would do, which promises gave them an impressive mandate from the voters.  The question is, do the people of Wisconsin understand what they voted for?  Do they really understand the issues, or were they swayed by 30-second sound bites without really looking into the intended consequences of those promises.

I believe a lot of people voted for Obama without knowing what he stood for -- they put their own interpretation on what he said, and ignored anyone who said he meant something entirely different.  Now they realize he didn't mean what they thought, and they don't like what he meant.  Is that going to happen in Wisconsin?  Will the people realize they didn't really want what Walker and the Republicans promised?

So now it's up to the people -- Will they stand firm with Walker and the Republican legislature, or turn their backs on them and boot them out with recalls?

This will be an indicator of whether the American people really do want a balanced budget, really do want to stop the reckless spending -- or do they only want it so long as it doesn't affect their pocketbooks or disturb their peace and tranquility?

Early Presidential Favorite
At this point, I know more about who I don't want to win the Republican nomination than who I do want to win.  I don't want:  Gingrich (he's had his chance and blew it), Huckabee (don't get me started), Romney (not conservative enough for my tastes), Palin (too much baggage), Paul (proven he doesn't have the public support).  Some Governors look like they'd be good candidates, but I'd like to see a little more of what they can do.

Donald Trump is considering a run for the nomination.  I went to the website advocating his run to see what he is all about.  Trump is pro-life, and is opposed to legalizing gay marriage -- those are two very big pluses for me.

One of the international issues that caught my attention is his intent, if President, to demand a seat at the OPEC table and to negotiate with OPEC for our oil prices.  Also, he would cease the "free" military protection we give wealthy countries like South Korea -- either they pay for the protection, or we close up shop and come home.

As far as baggage, I'm sure that by his age he's said enough things to give his opponents something to use against him, but I look at the whole picture, not isolated incidents.  And if things were said in the distant past, what have recent actions indicated?  People do change their minds.

So right now, I'm looking seriously at Trump.

I do think all of candidates must give us a lot more detail about their positions and their solutions.  They can't do that in 30-second soundbites, and not enough media cover entire talks.  Nor do the debates give that much opportunity to really delve into the issues.  Websites seem to be the best solution -- the best way to give the detail that serious voters want.

I recall having a High School teacher that required us to follow the Johnson-Goldwater Presidential race. We had to collectively come up with the 12 most important issues, then collectively determine the position of each on those issues.  This took us several class discussions and lots of homework to complete.  Then we voted on each issue - which one we favored, and why.  Then we voted for each candidate and had to give the reasons why.  It would be great if all voters would devote the same attention to selecting a President.

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