Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Counting My Blessings

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving Day, our national day of expressing gratitude for the things
in our lives for which we are thankful. While it is easy to give thanks in good times, it is a
far stronger statement to give thanks in times like these as it is much more heartfelt when
circumstances are daunting. Even in the darkest hours one can still find good things to be
grateful for; to start with, one can be grateful that one is alive, and therefore has the where-
withal to rise up from the lowly, dreary place one has fallen to. And though it sounds like a
cliche', things can certainly be worse than they actually are. All of us should bear this in mind,
especially when we feel our pain the most.

Here are some of the things that your humble Peasant is thankful for, and not just at

Rising each morning to greet another day, in which I sow the seeds for the things in life
that I desire to have, to accomplish, and to enjoy.

I have very loving, caring, generous friends who have helped me to navigate the stormy
waters in which I have had to sail in during the past two years. Their help has been invaluable
in helping me to overcome some career, legal, and other challenges which have been products
of this perilously weak economy.

After losing the lease on my previous home and getting evicted for failure to keep current on
the rent, I have a new home where my landlord is also an attorney specializing in financial
difficulties of various sorts --- and he is assisting me with related litigation against me PRO
BONO (free of charge)!

When I lost a decent-paying job which also afforded me health insurance and a retirement plan,
one friend hired me to be a member of his landscaping crew, as well as to administer a youth
basketball league. Another friend helped me to gain my current job, a Christmastime position
at a JC Penney store which could last beyond the yuletide season. This same friend also helped me to move to my current home, never asking for compensation or renumeration.
A friend at my church, who is an organizer of our job seekers' support group and a career coach
as well as a resume' specialist, crafted a brand new resume' for me --- I never even asked her
to do this and would never have done! --- volunteering her time and labor.
Food is not a problem. I have been paid in both money and groceries by my landscaping friend
for my work. I also receive a monthly grocery voucher from a program at my church, for which
I shall repay same for all their help when things improve a bit more for me.
My health is quite good. I have ample stamina as well. I'd better have, as I am on my feet all
day each work day at JC Penney!
My gratitude for having my dear cat Kevin with me for ten wonderful years is without measure;
although he passed away last year just two days after Thanksgiving I shall always be thankful
for the time we spent together, right up to the end. Kevin breathed his final breath as I held him
close. I immediately prayed a prayer of thankfulness for having this beautiful and loving little
companion, and will never stop being thankful for Kevin's presence in my life. I could not ask for
a better, finer cat, or any animal companion for that matter.
I am deeply grateful for all of my friends, past and present, passed on and still living. I cherish
each and every one of them! They have brightened my life more than I can describe with any
words. They each mean more to me than I shall ever mean to them.
Finally, I am so very grateful to live in a country where there are countless opportunities to
create and enjoy a wonderful life with career success, a generous income, and the comforts and
pleasures that it makes possible; where I am free to express my thoughts, opinions, and ideas
(such as those here in my blog); where liberty for the individual, rather than total compliance
with and obedience to the state, is the rule. I am thankful every day for being a citizen of the
United States of America.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Death by Political Correctness?

In the aftermath of the massacre at Fort Hood, Texas committed by a single gunman,
U.S. Army Major Nidal Malik Hasan, many people are wondering as to whether the
military and the government were too slow to recognize and react to the warning
signs of potential danger in Hasan, who killed 13 people and wounded at least 29
others before being shot (not fatally) by a civilian police officer, or were following a
protocol of political correctness. There were many signs that Hasan was trouble waiting to erupt, yet was allowed to complete his training to give treatment to
soldiers in combat zones suffering from combat stress; Hasan, trained in psychiatry,
was soon to be deployed to Iraq and was most upset about it.

For starters, Hasan openly called himself a Muslim first and an American second.
During army training he was very vocal in this regard, also stating that he held
Shari'a law above the U.S. Constitution. Shari'a law is a strict code which the most
radical Muslims adhere to, prescribing harsh penalties (including death) for trans-
gressions of its provisions. When asked about his stance by fellow officers, Hasan
would become sweaty, nervous, defensive, and belligerent.

Second, Hasan gave a PowerPoint presentation he titled "Why the 'War On Terror' Is
a War on Islam" at a public health seminar(!).The officer in charge of the event
astonishingly had approved Hasan's chosen topic. What made that officer think that
Hasan's topic was relevant to the purpose of the health seminar? And wouldn't that
presentation, under any circumstances, be detrimental to the morale of the troops?
Usually all branches of the U.S. Military forbid expressions of such substance in
both times of peace and war. Why was an exception made here?

Third, Hasan openly praised the murder of a U.S. soldier by a Muslim at an Arkansas
recruitment center. So much for loyalty and comradeship. Why wasn't Hasan court-
martialled or discharged from the U.S. Army?

Fourth, Hasan was caught corresponding via e-mail with a radical imam, Anwar Al-Awlaki, from Yemen. Al-Awlaki had called upon all Muslims to kill American
soldiers in Iraq. The imam is well known to U.S. Intelligence. It is only now, after
the tragedy, that Hasan's computer is being "scrubbed" --- examined for all e-mail
correspondence between Hasan and Al-Awlaki.

Fifth, Hasan cleaned out his apartment near the base shortly before the shooting,
giving away all of his possessions to his neighbors. He obviously was not planning
to return.

As a "by the way" there is the fact that Hasan was considered a mediocre student in
his army training for his position and a lazy worker to boot. This avered by the
doctors and staff at Walter Reed Army Medical Center and the Uniformed Services
University of the Health Sciences, the latter a military medical school.

So the burning question: Why was Nidal Malik Hasan allowed to go through U.S.
Army training as a combat health professional and given promotions all the while,
despite all the bells, buzzers, and whistles? The U.S. Military has been instructed by the government to practice and emphasize more diversity and inclusiveness, especial-
ly concerning personnel of Muslim faith.But did it go too far by turning a blind eye
toward an angry, resentful soldier of that faith for the sake of that diversity? While it
is fine and commendable to provide opportunities to serve our country to all Amer-
icans of all social, religious, and ethnic groups, performance and loyalty --- espec-
ially the latter! --- must never be sacrificed for the sake of achieving and maintaining
diversity. Both our security and sovereignty depend upon maintaining certain stan-
dards. If our president and Congress do not agree or understand this, then we should
clean house in the 2010 and 2012 elections!


Wednesday, November 11, 2009

A Veteran's Day Tribute

With today being November 11, a date we Americans have designated as Veteran's Day
to honor our fellow citizens who have served in our military, your faithful Peasant wants
to devote this blog to this very purpose. The political issues and stories of the day can wait
a while for our time and attention; they will all be here tomorrow, believe me!

Although our rights, as well as the laws which guarantee them, are enumerated in our Constitution
it is our brave citizens in our military who protect them while protecting our country itself. No enemy
force would ever come to our land, discover our codified laws for governance and the preservation
of our rights and liberties and say "Gee, these Americans have this thing called a 'constitution' that says
we can't impose our own rules on them; we'd better turn around and go home!". They would have to be
driven out or killed in combat, and our military people are the ones among us trained for and charged with
that very duty.

It is a very great sacrifice that our men and women in our armed services make when they join up.
Their every word and deed is prescribed and regulated much more than in civilian society. When they
are given instructions to do something they are orders, and must be obeyed without question. They go
through long, strenuous basic training to be readied for their tasks ahead. They give up many of the comforts
of home, and when in a war zone, their only comfort is just being alive --- and their hold on that one remaining
comfort is very tenuous. While we enjoy our comfy, cozy beds, our safe and attractive homes, our plentiful
and delicious food and drink, and our recreational activities, our military men and women live in conditions
which would make the spartans of ancient Greece shudder. While we worry about what we're going to wear
to work, or to a party, or to go on a date, our military folk worry if they're going to come marching home or be
carried home in caskets. They worry if they will get to see their spouses, their children, their parents, their
friends, and their homes again.

And for all of this dangerous, harrowing work on behalf of all of us and our country, what do they ask in return?
Precious little, really. They love it when we take the time to thank them in some way. Sometimes we throw a
parade for them. Sometimes we hold a party for them in an armory, a veterans' hall, a courthouse, or a town
hall. Perhaps even at a state capitol or our nation's capitol. Or we turn out to welcome them home when they
complete their depolyments, greeting them at airports and seaports. Even when an individual just takes the time
to walk up to a veteran and says "thank you" for his or her service, that makes the vet's day!

It is the very least we can do to simply thank our veterans for their sacrifice and their service to our country;
after all, they gave up so much to do for us what they did. And they did it for the greatest and noblest reason
that anyone could ever do anything for anyone: out of love. That's right. Out of love for their ---for our --- fine
and wonderful country. And we all reap the benefits of their shockingly difficult labor, with the liberties which
we enjoy but so many of us take for granted. Included among them is freedom of speech, really expression,
in its many forms. Your Peasant benefits in this way, wielding my trusty "pitchfork" each week taking on those
in power who abuse that power when they abuse us. And I can't even begin to describe how grateful I am to
our men and women in uniform, both past and present. Among them are members of my family and some of
my friends.

In summation, I just want to say to all of our armed service people, the men and women of the U.S. Army,
Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard and Merchant Marines thank you all a trillion times over! I, and
we all, owe you a debt so great that we shall be forever in paying it! You are why our great country, The
United States of America, is free, prosperous, and strong. May it be so forever more! And God Bless
each and every one of you! Folks, if you enjoy your freedom, thank a vet!


Friday, November 6, 2009

The Reckoning

The results of Election Day this week have shown two things:
the manifestation of the outrage of many Americans over the
growth of government and resultant spending with their elected
officials' refusal to even listen to their objections, and a preview
of what's in store for many more of these arrogant elitists in 2010.
These races were for the governorships of New Jersey and
Virginia and for the U.S. House seat from New York's 23rd
Congressional District.

In New Jersey, a very solidly Democrat state, voters angry at
Democrat Gov. John Corzine over his gluttonous appetite for
taxing and spending gave him his walking papers, voting in
Republican Chris Christie to replace him. Christie promised to
slash taxes and expenditures as well as to crack down on the
corruption in Trenton, which has been largely perpetuated by
Democrat legislators. Corzine was running for a second term,
and has become just the third incumbent governor in New
Jersey's history to be defeated in a bid for a second term,
while Christie became the first Republican governor there
since the 1980s.

Virginia chose Republican Bob McConnell as its next governor
over Democrat State Sen. R. Creigh Deeds. In a very conservative
state where Democrats have made considerable gains in recent
elections, electing Democrat governors and swinging the state for
Barack Obama in last year's presidential election, Virginia voters'
disgust with skyrocketing government growth and encroaching
economic stagnation shot the Democrat's rocket out of the political

 In New York's 23rd Congressional District, however, conservative
activist Doug Hoffman lost to Democrat Bill Owendespite a gallant
campaign along with the withdrawal of Republican nominee Dede
Scozzafava from the race just days earlier. But it was a nail-biter;
Owen took 49% of the vote to Hoffman's 46% while the New York
GOP bosses' sweetheart Scozzafava received 5%. Her name
remained on the ballot because she withdrew too late in the
season to have her name removed. Scozzafava, being a true class
act, promptly endorsed the Democrat Owen after announcing
the cessation of her campaign. To the best of your favorite
Peasant's knowledge, the New York Republican bigwigs
never raised a peep to object, let alone did anything to
counter Scozzafava's blatant act of party disloyalty.
This race should have been a slam dunk!

The contested seat was held by a conservative Republican for
nearly twenty years, and had been in GOP hands for more than
a century! But the New York Republican Party chiefs, being much
more liberal than the national party, handpicked a candidate who
was politically indistinguishable from most Democrats over a true
conservative Republican who then had to run on the New York
State Conservative Party ticket. I would not be surprised if these
same party poopers voted for the Democrat Owen after their
stooge Scozzafava exited the race!

The commonality in all three races? The Tea Party Activists!
Many disgruntled voters banded together with the Tea Party
Movement by not only voting for, but also actively campaigning
for conservative candidates, putting liberals in both parties on
notice that they WILL be listened to, that they WON'T be brushed
aside, and that they are taking back our government at all levels.
If the Democrats and the "Establishment" Republicans want to
avoid further political bloodletting, they have exactly one year
to clean up their act. If they fail to do so, they'd better dust off
and update their resume's because they're going to need new