A Voice of Reason: Sane Views for a Crazy World

April 27, 2007

Swing States Swinging Towards GOP

Quinnipiac Polling showed the results from three crucial swing states.  Sure it’s early, but it’s a bit of good news for the GOP – that is if you like Giuliani.

Clinton 36
Gore 15
Obama 13
Edwards 11
Undecided 14

Giuliani 38
McCain 15
Romney 7
Gingrich 6
F. Thompson 5
Undecided 21

Head to Head Matchups
Clinton 41 – Giuliani 49
Clinton 45 – McCain 45
Clinton 48 – Thompson 38

Obama 38 – Giuliani 49
Obama 41 – McCain 41
Obama 42 – Thompson 35

Gore 43 – Giuliani 47
Gore 46 – McCain 43
Gore 48 – Thompson 36

Clinton 37
Edwards 17
Obama 14
Gore 11
Undecided 14

Giuliani 23
McCain 21
Gingrich 9
F. Thompson 8
Romney 6
Undecided 23

Head to Head Matchups
Clinton 41 – Giuliani 46
Clinton 42 – McCain 44
Clinton 45 – Thompson 35

Obama 37 – Giuliani 45
Obama 36 – McCain 42
Obama 44 – Thompson 31

Gore 39 – Giuliani 47
Gore 39 – McCain 46
Gore 44 – Thompson 35

Clinton 36
Obama 14
Gore 14
Edwards 13
Undecided 16

Giuliani 29
McCain 17
Gingrich 10
F. Thompson 6
Romney 5
Undecided 21

Head to Head Matchups
Clinton 43 – Giuliani 47
Clinton 43 – McCain 45
Clinton 47 – Thompson 36

Obama 41 – Giuliani 45
Obama 43 – McCain 41
Obama 45 – Thompson 33

Gore 44 – Giuliani 44
Gore 45 – McCain 42
Gore 48 – Thompson 34

The bottom line is that these states, which are crucial for both parties favor the current front runners, but all three like the more moderate of the candidates, and I know that putting Sen. Clinton in the more Centrist role is hard for some to swallow, but compared to Sen. Obama and Mr. Edwards, she is.  The real intersting wild card is Al Gore, and after viewing tonight’s “debate”, which was more a chance to “dogpile” on the Administration than substantive discussion of distinctions of issues, I think Mr. Gore may be on his Blackberry.


Jim Gilmore Enters the Presidential Campaign

Filed under: Conservatives,Election '08,Gilmore,Politics,Republican — avoiceofreason @ 4:54 am

From Real Clear Politics:

As expected, former Republican Governor of Virginia and former RNC Chair Jim Gilmore officially entered the Presidential race today.

Well, I guess I have another label to add as the B list got bigger.  I don’t know too much about Mr. Gilmore’s position, but from what little I have read he seems to be socially Conservative and fiscally Conservative.  I don’t suspect his announcement will rock the polls too much.

Quote of the Day

Filed under: Culture,Humor,Philosophy,Quote of the Day — avoiceofreason @ 4:47 am

In Heaven all the interesting people are missing.


Harold Ford – Time to Talk

Former TN Congressman Harold Ford (D), had a fairly good idea for the Administration and Congress.  The sides need to get together and try to talk and develop some sort of dialogue rather than playing the high stakes game of chicken currently going on in Washington.

Although I’m all for talk, I’m not sure if either side can muster the political will, to attempt to find some common ground with regard to Iraq.  The seeming snubbing of General Petraeus by Speaker Pelosi, who wouldn’t even attend his briefing, but took a phone call instead, states pretty plainly that she is not really willing to engage in substantive dialogue, but then again, it’s unlikely that the President would be given much wiggle room, other than establishing a timeline.

On another note, former Rep. Ford is a very likeable and articulate politician, who must have become a closet Republican to take a job with Fox.  It would be better if those in Congress had his demeanor, which has always been engaging.  Although, Ford is not a conservative, he certainly is among the more moderate voices in the Democratic camp, and I for one, look forward to his insights on the dealing on Capital Hill.

April 26, 2007

Cho: The Creation of a Killer

Filed under: children,Crime,Culture,Education,Philosophy,PoliticalScience,Teaching — avoiceofreason @ 6:43 am

Some food for thought. I am not defending the actions of Cho, but to state that “They’re the actions of a madman” does little to look at factors which may be involved in sociopathic behavior.

As experts analyzed the disturbing materials, it became increasingly clear that Cho was almost a classic case of a school shooter: a painfully awkward, picked-on young man who lashed out with methodical fury at a world he believed was out to get him.

When criminologists and psychologists look at mass murders, Cho fits the themes they see repeatedly: a friendless figure, someone who has been bullied, someone who blames others and is bent on revenge, a careful planner, a male. And someone who sent up warning signs with his strange behavior long in advance.

Classmates in Virginia, where Cho grew up, said he was teased and picked on, apparently because of shyness and his strange, mumbly way of speaking.

Once, in English class at Westfield High School in Chantilly, Va., when the teacher had the students read aloud, Cho looked down when it was his turn, said Chris Davids, a Virginia Tech senior and high school classmate. After the teacher threatened him with an F for participation, Cho began reading in a strange, deep voice that sounded “like he had something in his mouth,” Davids said.

“The whole class started laughing and pointing and saying, `Go back to China,” Davids said.

School shooters “typically” have this very similar and profoundly disturbing history. They may be created by society.

What is a Liberal; What is a Conservative.

This brilliant post came as a result of a discussion on Woman Honor Thyself about gay rights. I love discussions which make me think, and something that had been ticking away just came out. It was one of my replies to many of the comments of “the left says this”.

There are so many mentions of the “left” and the “right” on blogs. Since I think many would consider this a “Conservative” blog, though I’m sure many “Conservatives” would call this place a den of Marxism or radical leftism, I asked think, What exactly is the Right would be a most approproriate question.

Are you of the “right” if you are a traditional conservative in the mold of Barry Goldwater that wanted small government, few intrusions by the Federal into the state and high amounts of libertarianism thrown in?

Are you of the right when you want BIG government with HUGE intrusions of the Federal into daily life with low regard for libertarianism thrown in as shown by NCLB, The Patriot Act and “The War on Drugs”.

Are you of the left when you support such “big government” positions as shown by the three I mentioned and add The New Deal and some of The Great Society programs thrown in.


Are you of the right when you side with those who would say yes to expressions of religion in the public domain such as The Ten Commandments being on public displays, religious markers – including Wiccan due to a recent court ruling – being allowed to be put in government owned cemeteries for veterans at tax payer expenses (38 religions – now 39 are officially allowed)

Are you of the left when you feel that Wicca markers should be paid for by your tax dollars.
Are you of the Left or the Right when you contemplate the full circle that “Conservativism” has undergone when you look at the start of the GOP as a “more conservative” political organization dedicated to stopping the expansion of slavery, but shifted pretty radically left when Emancipation – was imposed on rebellious states, and then the Radical COngress of the 1860’s and 70’s were they left or right?

The terms themself are hard to monitor as being of the left/liberal or being of the right/conservative has little meaning anymore.

When I define myself as a Conservative by saying I like BIG Government with regard to The Patriot Act, NCLB, The “War on Drugs” and even other “liberal??” aspects of it such as The New Deal, Social Security, and The Great Society, I also realize that I am in favor of unions and worry about the ecology of the planet, and kind of like that the Feds stepped in and mandated civil rights in 1964 as well as intergration of public schools in 1952. Time to stop kidding myself, I don’t dislike “Big Government” so maybe I’m a lefty after all.

Maybe, what makes me self defined as a Conservative, is that I’m as HAWKISH as they come, well, except for the loonies who are to the right of me!

Such labels are impossible to uphold anymore in today’s hegemony of political stances. The question is which party puts up with diverging views better. And also, which one lines up with who you are at your core.

From Russia With Love? Not Anymore

From NPR.org

I urge you to click on the link and listen to the audio.

Heard this report on Morning Drive. Yes, I listen to NPR. I think I’d rather listen to newstalk, but NPR will do. They cover a wide variety of stories, and this one about Russian adoption policy shifts was worthwhile. You can hear the audio from the link.

Russian authorities have suspended the work of foreign adoption agencies. That has put into limbo the plans of many Americans waiting to adopt Russian children, even as human rights groups say a growing number of institutionalized children in Russia are living — and dying — in wretched conditions.

Most of the nearly 800,000 children called orphans in Russia still have living parents.

The article goes on to describe the children who have left their parents due to the horrific treatment they received from them. These children are lucky, in the sense that they are in an orphanage that is well run, has a good school, and these children are well treated. This is by no means the norm in Russia’s orphanages.

However, even these children are subjected to horrors that thankfully, most people only read about.

“Children are traumatized even in the best orphanages because they have no time to themselves,” Menshov says. “Even this school is too crowded. It needs to be bulldozed. Children shouldn’t live in such places.”

The government has only recently started to encourage Russians to adopt. But very few Russian families want to adopt orphans because they’re often seen as sick or somehow damaged. Half of the 15,000 children adopted in Russia each year are taken in by foreigners.

However, this is about to change.

Americans adopt more children from Russia than from any other country except China and Guatemala. But now the government has suspended the work of all foreign adoption agencies. Officials say it’s a temporary measure, part of the new registration requirements for all non-governmental organizations.

Still, Education Ministry official Sergei Vitelis says Russian children should stay in Russia.

Adoption by foreigners probably isn’t entirely right,” Vitelis says. “Any normal state should create conditions for children to grow up in their own country. That’s what we’re aiming for.”

In principal, I’d have to say that I agree with Mr. Vitelis, but sadly, very few of Russia’s children are adopted by anyone, Russian or American. Overcrowding and neglect are the order of the day for Russia’s orphanages. This is shown by Russia’s own internal reports.

A baby lies crying in a decrepit, wooden maternity hospital in Russia’s poverty-stricken Far North. Many child advocates say places like these are where the problems start. Hospital staff often try to persuade parents of babies with disabilities to give them over to state care. Poverty and alcoholism also drive parents to abandon their children.

Sergei Koloskov, head of the Down Syndrome Society, says that contrary to government figures, the number of orphans in Russia is growing — and overloading the state’s orphanage system.

Healthy babies are lying in hospital beds all day as if they were sick, sometimes for months or longer,” Koloskov says. “They’re completely ignored. No one plays with them or provides any kind of stimulation. That happens because orphanages where they’re supposed to go after birth are full.”

A book that I made myself read to educate myself, and to help in my understanding of my wife’s emotional concerns, as well as those children with whom my job in public education puts me into contact with everyday, The Primal Wound, talks about the gap that is caused by the abandoning of a child’s birth mother. Some mystic and primal force is obviously at work in the bonding process which occurs, and it is clear that more research is warranted into this phenomena. However, an area which has been thoroughly researched is the importance of stimulation and interaction of an infant in the first formative months, where these young human beings come into contact with the world around them. Russian children who are adopted by Americans typically demonstrate severe social disorders, which are caused by the notorious and well documented lack of intimacy and basic interaction between these babies and other humans, and the problem, in Russia is getting much worse as a system which is overstrained is resorting to methods which border on barbarism due to the severe overpopulation of abandoned infant children.

Consider these reports:

“I was stunned,” she says. “They were completely alone. They were fed several times a day and that was it. After a while, they just stop crying.”

Last winter, another patient in a central Russian hospital noticed a room of abandoned babies with their mouths taped shut to stop them from crying. Her cell phone video shocked the country when it was played on national television. Reports of babies tied down in their cots are common. Many believe that’s because hospital staff are seriously overworked.

Boris Altshuler of the Child’s Right group says it’s often immediately clear to visitors that abandoned babies are left to “rot alive.”

“First of all [there’s] the smell — [the] smell of unchanged linens or even children lying on just plastic. And [a] terrible smell because nobody changes, nobody cares,” Altshuler says.

These are in the “good institutions”, and a developing trend is for many children, many of whom have no real illness but may show some anti-social behaviors – wonder why – or due to overcrowding are sent to “special institutions”.

Children considered mentally or physically disabled are sent to special institutions, which Altshuler calls “terrible places.”

A Human Rights Watch report says that children in such institutions may be up to twice as likely to die than those in regular orphanages. Evaluations deciding orphans’ fates are often cursory. Misdiagnosis is common, and sometimes even doled out as punishment for misbehavior.

These institutions seem little better than places where children are sent to die. Set behind high walls, often in remote areas of the country, or outside the main part of cities, little attention is drawn to these places. Their remoteness combined with a cultural acceptance of never questioning the actions of the state, combine to make these little slices of hell on earth a growing reality in Russia.

While there is likely some truth in Russians desiring to have these children raised by Russians, there is also a world that deals with a political reality. In a recent newscast, commentator Charles Krauetenheimer referred to the disturbing trend of Russia’s retreat from democratic principals. His analysis, which is mirrored by many other watch groups, is that Russia has retreated back into a police state, where the KGB no longer reports to the Politburo, but to President Putin. The reality is that modern day Russia may have exchanged Communism for a form of Capitalism, but has gone back to the form that it has held historically since the time of the Tsars, as a people who are more than comfortable with a repressive state’s boot-heel firmly planted on their neck. This, and a growing rift between Russia and the United States in policy goals and as rivals for control of the balance of power in dealings with the EU have put a frosty edge to US and Russian foreign policy, and make no mistake that this shift in adoption policy is part of the fallout of this developing rift. While Russia and the United States are no longer in an adverserial stance, they are certainly in a relationship that would best be described as a rivalry.

These children are now left in limbo, pawns of Putin’s political chess game.

Tillman Coverup? No, Good Intentions Gone Bad

Filed under: Uncategorized — avoiceofreason @ 2:24 am

From Oak Leaf:

Right now the House is pursuing the actions taken surrounding the death of Pat Tillman:

House lawmakers accused the Pentagon Tuesday of deliberately covering up the friendly-fire death of former NFL star and Army Ranger Pat Tillman and pledged to pursue their own investigation, which could include calling former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld to testify.

Did Commissioned Officers initially lie to the Tillman family? Yes

Did Commissioned Officers lie to the Tillman family in order to “protect” themselves or politicians in Washington? Friendly fire is a fact of combat, there was nothing to “protect.” Secondly, when it comes to matters of our own, most commissioned officers and non-commissioned officers do not give the proverbial “rats ass” in order to protect any politician in Washington. Most would happily let a politician sink to save even their most junior private. As politicians are mostly lawyers, we have equal use for them. There is no cover up to protect politicians.

So why did this original “lie” even happen? Some Officers tried to do the “right” thing for the family and it was actually the “wrong” thing to do. Once you have been in combat for the first time, the only thing you want for your family to know the second time you go into combat, is for them to know the unvarnished truth if something happens to you.

There is a valuable lesson here and I think the entire Army has learned that lesson. “Swede” in the comments reminds myself of that lesson, “Bad news does not get better with time.”

Pretty much that is the case. The Army bungled this, and the comments made by the Lt. Colonel using terms like “worm dirt” and linking the Tillman’s families’ sadness being linked to their atheism are beyond the pale, and made this worse. The Pentagon needs to apologize, some heads maybe should roll, and then while one must have empathy for this family plight, friendly fire casualties happen in war. I know, a good friend of mine, my former vehicle driver, died from it in the Gulf War.

Giuliani – “We Must be Aggressive”

Lost in the furor over the non-quote of Rudy Giuliani, and really it may be time that all candidates for President of the United States READ an opposing views speech before using a headline to frame a political argument, was America’s Mayor’s repeated mandate for maintaining an offensive posture in the War on Terror. Here are the words that provoked the Democrats protesting (methinks too much) about his wicked words,

“The only way you’re going to find out about it in advance, the only way you’re going to prevent another Sept. 11 from happening is by being aggressive,” he said.

Hardly divisive, although the raise the white flag Democratic Caucas probably feels that any offensive posturing the US takes is a bad idea. Hell, it worked well for Neville Chamberlin, so why not. Understand that the things which Giuliani stands for, NSA wiretapping, upholding The Patriot Act, aggressive interdiction of terrorism where they train and gather and aggressive interrogation, which has yielded valuable intelligence, and is not equivalent to Abu Graib, are policies, by and large that the Democratic Caucas has upheld. This was shown by an operative of the Democractic Party, and his comments.

Marty Capodice, 64, of Hopkinton, who said he thinks the Bush administration has stripped away too many civil liberties in the interest of national security, asked Giuliani if that meant Americans would have “no rights.”

“That’s hardly no rights,” Giuliani said. “You live in a country where you have more courts than anybody in the world. You live in a country that has more rights than any in the history of the world. You have more freedom than anyone in this world has ever had, and no one has taken that from you.”

The response drew loud applause from a crowd of hundreds who packed the Simon Center at NEC.

Good to see that people in The Granite State have some common sense.

Lindsay Graham Hits the Nail on the Head

Senator Lindsay Graham (R SC) is not the most popular person in some Conservative circles. This is probably because he typically has sane views about push button issues of the most feral elements of the GOP regarding illegal immigration.

Graham has been putting forth some real gems however, recently with regard to US policy in Iraq. In a recent radio interview, the South Carolina Senator made some important comments.

He said the security situation in An bar Province is much better with the leading Sheiks actually calling for people to join the police force. Many Sunni leaders are beginning to openly reject Al Qaeda and recently the Iraqi justice system brought a Shea police official to trial for torturing a Sunni. Senator Graham concluded by saying, “We must not allow car and suicide bombers to dictate our foreign policy.

This is exactly what Al Qaeda is doing in Iraq, and they know that the paper tigers in Congress, will fold just as a piece of paper will do when pressure is applied.

Another gem that Sen. Graham came out with after Senate Majority Leader Reid’s horrific statement that “The War is lost”, is the purely rhetorical question, then who won?

This is precisely what I had been pondering, and I won’t begrude the Palmetto State’s Senator credit for this thought. The obvious answer is Al Qaeda, as they are primarily whom we are engaging in Iraq. Thank you Sen. Reid, Speaker Pelosi and the Democratic Caucas for waving the white flag to the most nefarious terrorists on the planet at this stage in world history. Because they are the winners.

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