Friday, December 31, 2004

It’s Our Shame to bear.

By T. J. Willms

While sitting down to write, I caught the reflection of my un-shaven face in my monitor without being able to turn away. I simply could not face myself in the mirror for long enough this morning thinking about the miserly amount my government has pledged to the relief effort in southern Asia. If only I were forced to pay higher taxes, there would be more money for the United States Government to funnel into the effort. All of the death and destruction surely underscores the guilt we should all be feeling just thinking about the squandering of our recourses having just celebrated the most offensive of Christian holy days. Thank goodness for the mass media to remind us all of our good fortune to be living in the richest nation on the earth. Our President embarrassingly, is staying in his Crawford Texas ranch on vacation. Even though he is, surely in constant contact with all of the necessary government agencies he should be rushing back to Washington for appearance sake. The shame of it all is almost too much to bear. I think I may need to take a pill…...

All right, that will be entirely enough self-flagellation. I think the proper emotional response at this point would be irritation, consternation, or perhaps even outrage. I am referring of course to the remarks of that snotty Euro-punk Jan Egeland the U.N. Emergency Relief Coordinator. The U. S. contribution has escalated each day since those ruinous waves smashed ashore into some of the poorest and most vulnerable regions of the world. It began as an instantaneous offer of $4 million in emergency aid. It increased shortly thereafter to $15 million and when we better understood the scope of the destruction it more than doubled to a total of $35 million dollars. Today the President, having had the opportunity to fully evaluate the awesome entirety of the damage and human toll of the disaster has increased that amount ten-fold. U.S. disaster relief workers, soldiers, sailors are rushing into the area to help those most in need. An entire aircraft carrier battle group of a dozen ships is heading into the area to lend what aid they are able. Twenty heavy airlift C-130 aircraft complete with aircrews have been dispatched courtesy of the U. S. taxpayers.

It is not my purpose here to crow at the generosity of the country in which I live. I would however like to refute the arrogant statement of a minor Norwegian government functionary via the auspices of the U.N. telling me I am not doing enough and I should be paying more in taxes. My government spends the money I do send in to their tender care quite freely enough thank you Mr. Egeland. I would also like to point out that through corporations and privately the United States last year alone has given some $29 million dollars in charitable donations to overseas aid. I would be very surprised indeed if the overall U. S. contribution to the relief and rebuilding effort does not exceed $1 billion I suspect it will be considerably more than that amount. Yet, criticism of the U. S. efforts to be of service to the Tsunami victims crashes forward like an angry sea.

Former U. N. International Development Secretary Clare Short has made the accusation that President Bush’s “working group” of nations in the region is a direct attempt to circumvent the U. N. which is the proper organization to co-ordinate the aid recourses pouring into the region. The same U. N. that so smoothly administered the Iraqi “oil for food” program. It should be more accurately described as “Money for Kofi and Saddam” program and makes the U. N. the very last place anyone could confidently send relief funds expecting them to arrive where they are needed. Ms Short went on to state that the coalition countries (the U. S., Australia, Japan, and India) did not have good records on responding to international disasters. Additionally she accused the U. S. of being “very bad at coordinating with anyone.” "These nations are launching a separate operation unwilling to work with the rest of the world through the UN system," which she states is the only agency with the proper “moral authority” to handle this crisis.

The morality of the U. N. is legendary and is likely the very reason President Bush has wisely chosen a different avenue to deliver the response of the American people to the heart wrenching devastation we witness on our televisions every evening. Mr. Bush is in fact the first U. S. President to hold a Masters degree in business administration. Is it so very surprising that he would want to analyze the situation and then develop a plan of action to deal with both the immediate as well as the long term needs of these devastated people. Further is there any mystery that he should upon careful consideration, find the U. N.’s track record of administering aid resources to the needy wanting?

It should also be noted that the entire world is responding with tremendous generosity to this unprecedented crisis. The citizens of the United Kingdom have been donating funds at the astonishing rate of 1 million British pounds per hour for the past day. The website of The Swiss-based International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRCS) has crashed under the weight of donations and inquiries coming through their doors. Governments everywhere are adding their willing contributions to help and most of them are choosing not the U. N. but the International Committee of the Red Cross and Red Crescent.

None of these various nations have drawn the public ire of the U.N. I suspect that is primarily and specifically because they do not have “a Bush to Bash.” It seems that only the tiny nation of Israel is more hated than President Bush, having their offer of 150 experienced doctors and rescue workers flatly rejected by Sri-Lanka due to the complaints of the Muslim community on that ravaged island nation.

The contributors to this massive aid effort are numerous and diverse, and United States will be as forthcoming as any. We will be there in the long term and that fact will go largely unreported. The United States is neither trying to curry favor within the region nor are we attempting to appear benevolent before the world press. We will do it because it’s the right thing to do and that, quite frankly is not arguable. We will be there well into the future to help rebuild the infrastructure, hospitals, and schools destroyed by this horrific natural disaster. When the job is finished, we will leave when asked to do so. The U.N. however, via their numerous commissions and agencies will surely remain behind to help these developing nations remain impoverished while publicly and thoroughly criticizing our efforts.

A brief list of Governments contributing to the Tsunami aid effort as of Wednesday, 29 December.

FRANCE: 100,000 euros, 16 rescuers sent to Thailand and 10 tons of aid to Sri Lanka.

GERMANY: 2 million euros. Three German planes to be dispatched to Thailand.

INDIA: $23 million in aid ,warships and aircraft to distribute food, medicines and blankets to Sri Lanka and the Maldives.

JAPAN: $40 million pledged and three navy vessels sent to Thailand.

KUWAIT: $2 million

QATAR: $10 million

SAUDI ARABIA: $10, half via the Saudi Red Crescent, and half for international aid groups.

SOUTH KOREA: $2 million.

TAIWAN: $5.1 million.


UNITED STATES: $35 million and 12 naval vessels to the region, 20 transport aircraft.

AUSTRALIA: $27 million, five transport planes with supplies and medical teams as well as teams of police officers.

BRITAIN: 15 million pounds ($29 million).

CAMBODIA: $40,000.

CHINA: $2.6 million.

CZECH REPUBLIC: A plane sent to Sri Lanka with drinking water. Officials said aid worth $444,400 would be sent.

EUROPEAN UNION: $41 million 3 million euros already allocated to IFRC.

FINLAND: 500,000 euros to the IFRC. Local aid organizations have contributed another 75,000 euros.
The Finnish Red Cross has dispatched a full field hospital with 15 staff to Sri Lanka.

(list compiled by Al-Jezzera12/29/04)

Thursday, December 23, 2004

So this is Christmas...

...let's hope it's a good one

Well, it's that time of year again and I'd like to say have a very Merry Christmas to you all. We should all set aside our petty squabbles and irritations for a couple of days - relax and enjoy family, friends and food. (Drinks are OK too)

As we age, and those of us over 40 know of what I speak, Christmas is always just around the corner. When we were little kids it just couldn't get here soon enough. My 12-year old has been saying "I can't wait for Christmas" multiple times and hour for 3 weeks straight. For me, it's already soon enough. The old saying "time flies when you're having fun" should really be changed to "time flies when you get old". The time difference between that day in early April when you know the snow and cold are gone for good and the day in November when you know the cold and snow are here to stay is increasingly compressed. Bam, zoom, zip - it's Christmas time again.

I have been slightly aware of the annual assault on Christmas within the mass culture, frankly it bores me to no end - both sides of it. Part of me does get riled by the constant debassing of the traditional aspects of Christmas. Yet, another part of me knows that what has become tradition is so far removed from the significance of the holiday that we don't have a "biblical" leg to stand on. Should we Christians really get all bent out of shape that Macy's or [insert name of store here] won't allow Merry Christmas to be dispalyed in favor of some generic happy holidays signage? If we succumb to our outrage and boycott these stores we would probably do more harm than good. Presumably many Christmas loving Christians work at these stores and could possibly lose their jobs if the business is crippled. On the other hand we have watched the media and Hollywood in particular do everything in their power to reflect Christians, evengelicals and catholics alike, in the worst possible light. All I have to say is we (Christians) do a good enough job of it ourselves that we don't need pop culture helping us out so much.

I guess we can let popular culture pretend that this society is evolving into a loving, compassionate and caring secular utopia. We know in our hearts where these attributes stem from. Most of the people I know and associate with are the salt of the earth. They are kind and helpful in so many ways that you start to wonder who are all these bad people you hear about. Yet, we are all fallen men on this earth. We are all sinners. We are imperfect, all of us. Our human nature tells us to be selfish and self important and our Godly nature compells us to be helpful and loving to those in need. This is the eternal struggle the rages in all of us. Amazingly, for most of us our Godly nature wins out much of the time. Even those among us who profess no particular Christian affiliation have been enlightened by the holy spirit whether they would ever admit it or not. All Jesus Christ wanted for us is to find our way to God and he offered us a portal. I, for one, accept his guidance directly and willingly, many others will get caught up in the current. It's all good.

Happy Birthday Jesus and God bless us all!

Saturday, December 18, 2004

More Prisons, Less Crime: UPDATE

I am pleased to annouce that my submisson to the St. Paul Pioneer Press was published on December 17th 2004. I am also pleased to see that it was printed unedited. Sadly, I don't believe the paper's website provides access to letters to the editor beyond the date they were published. It will be interesting to see if my piece generates the usual response from the hand-wringers out there. Check back for more updates.


Thursday, December 16, 2004

Victim of Success

Are we a victim of our own success in this terror war?

I 've heard secretary Rumsfeld refer to the fall of Baghdad as a "catastrophic success". As incredible as it seems the quick victory in Iraq left a huge whole in the war plan. There were problems with the support troops catching up with the front line. Sites that should have been secured were not. By the time the support personel arrived looting and other detrimental activities contributed to some of the chaos we still see today more than a year and a half later. Some would argue that what was a hole in our war plan was the effect of Saddam's war plan. I don't know if I'd go that far. I think Saddam's troops high-tailed it out of there shortly after they filled their underpants. Clearly some of the Iraqi weapons stockpiles fell into the insurgen... Um, I mean, terrorists hands. America, President Bush and the average Iraqi citizen have been paying the price ever since.

There has been no shortage of critics of the President's "Iraqi Adventure" here and abroad. Some criticism is valid and even warranted, war is a dirty unpredictable business, even a just war. By watching the nightly news or following the recent election you'd think that Iraq is one big chaotic mess. Even top secret CIA memos circulated by the New York Times claim that civil war is inevitable. That may be true, however, it may be fought with ballots and not bullets.

I have heard the liberals (who, by the way, are all for compassion and democracy and human rights unless it's on George W. Bushs' agenda)attempt to minimize any good news coming out of Iraq. They like to pooh pooh military personel who send e-mails or post blogs on the Internet claiming that we ARE being misled. They are not talking about Bush mis-leading the country into war, rather, we are being misled by the naysayers and the Bush-haters. I implore you to go to this website and read the good news - it's truly incredible. Chrenkoff has been regularly published on, the op/ed arm of the Wall Street Journal. The detail and the optimism is stunning. So too is the blog known as Iraq The Model found here Again, these guys, these Iraqi's are absolutely giddy about the prospect of an election.

Still, the gloom and doomers and the pesimists won't relent. As a famous Senator from Kansas once said: you know it, I know it and the American people know it. These Bush-haters, these Cheney-haters, these Haliburton-haters will only find joy in America's defeat. They will not even admit that Afghanistan is a smashing success. They try to claim that al Qaeda is stronger than ever??? They try to poison the cooperation we have with Pakistan and all of our real allies in this war. They stand squarely beside the very nations and entities (read the UN) that propped up Saddam, thwarting the internationally imposed sanctions designed to rid Iraq of this sadistic dictator. And they try to claim the mantle of compassion and human rights advocacy. What poppycock.

This brings me, finally, to the point of my comments today. Are we the victim of our success? The answer is clearly, yes. I recently read that the democracy movement in the terrorist supporting nation of Iran is stalling. It's stalling because they are waiting for us. They figure: why should they stand up and be counted (and shot... er beheaded) when all they have to do is wait for the Americans to invade and throw out their repressors. They saw what we did in Afghanistan to right of them and Iraq to left of them. The Iraqi's did the same thing, enduring years of barbary and repression waiting for GI Joe. This is a problem. It was America, despite having no army, no navy, and no government declared independence from the most powerful nation on earth some 200 years ago. It's not that we didn't need or want help - it's that we did something about it. We didn't wait for France to do our bidding. I am positive that if the Iranian people confidently declared a split with the mullahs that nations like America and Britian, Austrailia and Poland, Italy and Japan would step up and help.

I recently saw a bumper sticker that dispalyed an American flag with the caption: "These colors don't run" and then right below that in smaller print "the world". I laughed, and said to myself, but someones got to do it. Volunteers, anyone? I thought so.

Friday, December 10, 2004

Values My Butt....

Why the “Media” will never understand how George W. Bush won re-election.

By T. J. Willms

I do not accept the widely reported premise that the single most important “issue” for the majority of voters on Election Day was moral values. All of the major news organizations have been blathering about this ad nauseam for weeks, even though their own exit-polling data (flawed as it was) doesn’t support that conclusion. Terrorism and the war in Iraq were treated as two separate entities within every exit poll I have read or heard about since November 2nd, when they are inextricably linked. Those “insurgents” our brave Marines are battling in places like Baghdad and Fallujah are not disaffected Iraqi green grocers. They are fanatic, Islamic, fascists, simply put they are TERRORISTS.

As separate categories terrorism ranked 2nd in most voter’s minds with 19%, and the war in Iraq fell well below Jobs and the Economy at 15%. These two “issues” however, cannot be held apart they are the same. Same enemy, same objective, same tactics, and in most cases the same soviet made weapons. Only the location varies, but it is undeniably the same war. A war against extremist Islamic terrorists hell bent on killing Americans and ranked overwhelmingly as the number one issue with American voters at 34%. Moral values are and were very important to voters regardless of party affiliation, religion, or the economic circumstances of the individual voter. It was important enough to the vast majority of the voting public to rank resoundingly second at 22%.

The media would also have you and I believe that the “moral values” encompasses a wide variety of unrelated viewpoints such as abortion, gay marriage, the inexorable creep of cultural profanity, capital punishment, and for many the morality of the preemptive aspects of the Bush Doctrine. When I consider the phrase "moral values" it brings to my mind words like Leadership, Judgment, Character, and Responsibility. I decided to consult my aging American Heritage Dictionary to settle this apparent ideological dispute. I did have to scan past the first three definitions of the word all regarding monetary worth to find what I was looking for. A glance toward my thesaurus’ list of synonyms also showed a closer alignment with my interpretation than say… Dan Rather’s.

Values: 4. A principle, standard, or quality considered worthwhile or desirable.

Thesaurus: 1. (n.) Rules of right or good conduct:
• Ethics
• Principles
• Standards
• Ideals
• Morals

It has always been the case that by casting our vote, we are searching for a leader with moral values similar to our own. It is my belief that the founders of this “Greatest Nation on Gods Green Earth” would be amazed and pleased that the experiment they began over 200 years ago is alive and well despite the insightful-illogic leaping forth from nearly all of our news sources. When considering this past election using the definition above as a guideline, it became obvious that our entire election process relies on these kinds of values in order to function properly.

First we must all TRUST that our constitution has set the stage for our nation to flourish despite whoever takes up temporary residence in the white house. We also need to have confidence in the INTEGRITY of our electoral system. It requires candidates with the COURAGE to stand up to everything from microscopic media scrutiny to forgery and outright scurrilous lies about who they are and what they stand for. The people have to have FAITH that our votes will be fairly counted and that a peaceful transition of power will result from their efforts. The process relies upon the WISDOM of the American people who take the RESPONSIBILITY for choosing the right person to lead their government.

All of these “Values” are so tightly interwoven within our election process that the very idea of “moral values” as a separate campaign issue seems seem to me to be slightly moronic. While my dictionary was still open I flipped through it to the definition of “journalism” to find out what kind of people would be foolhardy enough to try and winnow it out as a different issue. The third entry caught my eye because it is the basic standard with which they wish us to view them while each day they march to the tune of an entirely different and very partisan drum.

JOURNALISM: 3. The style of writing characteristic of material in newspapers and magazines, consisting of direct presentation of facts or occurrences with little attempt at analysis or interpretation.

National security and defeating TERRORISM was the primary factor in deciding who won in November. This requires no analysis or interpretation. Let the “NEWSIES” and the Democratic Pundits along with the DNC believe it was something different and they will continue to be wrong, and lose elections.

Now for the good news:
Today it was gleefully reported that the unhinged leadership at has claimed ownership of the DNC party chair and is throwing their support behind Vermont Governor Howard “EEAAAARRRGH!” Dean. Well good for them! This should help the Democratic Party fragment further into oblivion as a major political force in American politics. Perhaps in the next election they will garner the same kind of support as the Libertarian Party did in this one. Their “Moral-Values” have already moved so far left as to be virtually unrecognizable as the same party that brought us J. F. K. in 1960. Good Luck Democrats, and when you finally reach the same conclusion as Ronald Reagan did that "their party has left them" we will have room in our big inclusive tent for many of you.

Wednesday, December 08, 2004

More Prisons, Less Crime?

Why is it some people just can't accept success? Take for instance the current spate of articles making the rounds now that say abstinence programs are not working and are dangerous. How do these people reconcile this notion with the fact that since the focus on teaching abstinence over teaching promiscuity we have seen out of wedlock births for the youngest of our teenage girls at the lowest level since 1948. Out of wedlock births and abortions for all age groups are down, down substantially. This is the definition of success, isn't it?

Well now, today I read in the St. Paul Pioneer Press a letter to the editor that claims... oh hell, read it for yourself:

(article reprinted here solely for the point of discussion)
More prisons won't reduce crime

The Pioneer Press' call for more prisons rings very hollow. The United States incarcerates more people than any other country in the world. Among these are hundreds of thousands of nonviolent offenders, many of them for minor crimes like petty theft and marijuana possession.

In addition, there is the startling fact that one in four African-American males will find themselves behind bars at some point during their lives.

Building more prisons is like putting a large Band-Aid around a gashed heart. The blood will be hidden, but the dying person won't be healed. We have to look deeper. We have to look at the long entrenched patterns of poverty, addiction, racism and powerlessness that are hidden beneath. These are the true causes of crime, and these are the things we must address. Putting more people behind bars does nothing, except create an illusion that we are safe.

St. Paul

Well Nathan, that's some flowery rhetoric. Too bad it's pure rubbish. I just had to send a response in the form of a letter to the editor, whether it is ever published in the Pioneer Press or not I'll put it here for your perusal:

Dear Editor,

In response to letter writer Nathan G. Thompson (More prisons won't reduce crime, 12/8/04) he misses the simple fact that crime and especially violent crime has been going down in a substantial way since society has demanded tougher penalties for criminals. If it means more prisons then so be it. The fact the America jails more people per capita than other country is a sign of a more just society. Crime victims deserve to see their perpetrators behind bars.

I might be inclined to agree with Mr. Thompson on the petty drug possession cases, but I frankly tire of the constant refrain that poverty is root cause of crime. The root cause of criminal behavior from the street punk to the corporate embezzler is lack of moral values and self restraint. A friend of mine once asked his teenage son why it is wrong to steal and was, sadly, not at all shocked to hear him say – because you might get caught. By the way the correct answer is – because it is wrong.

Craig Willms
St Paul

So there it is, another example of refusing to see success for what it is. If the point of putting people in jail is to make it safer for the law abiding then more prisons are what is called for.

Monday, December 06, 2004

A Small Life: Part I

(…or the big space inside my head)

Have you heard of the expression "Living Large"? As a young man, I just took for granted I would be living large by now. There wasn't a doubt in my mind that I would live a consequential life. Hell, I was going to be a rock star. From the first time we pounded out Deep Purple's Smoke on the Water in Greg Saylor's basement I knew this is what I wanted to do. For a few years it seemed inevitable, people really dug the band. We had some natural talent and a pretty tight sound, and if we played our cards right we just might have impressed the right people at the right time. But even then real life was creeping into our little party, threatening to derail the rock and roll train. This nagging thing, this real life, sapped the energy and the soul of the band. By the summer of '83 it was over, the band was done.

The dream didn't die that summer it just scattered like a dandelion in the wind. I went on to be a letter sweater-wearing member of the classic and classy "Rocka-fellas". It was a great band and to my delight people really loved our shows. We played in some of the ritziest clubs and events in the Twin Towns. I wouldn't trade those nights under the lights for all the brass in the world. It was loads of fun and we actually made some money too. All the while, riding roughshod over the whole experience was this damnation called real life.

The years passed but the dream of living large still smoldered. After a series of undistinguished recording projects of original material under different pseudonyms and a multitude of personnel changes, even a venerable institution like the Rocka-fellas succumbed to real life. As it happened my day job went belly up around the same time and I found myself crawling up from the forsaken depths of an unrealized dream. Still, there was a spark, an ember rather, of this large life I had planned on living. History will know who I was…

A Small Life: Part II

(...or the big space inside my head)

I think deep down I honestly knew I was never going to make it in the music biz. For one, I didn't really put in the effort it truly required, and number two, I have come to realize I don't quite have the talent to pull it off. As a safety valve, I had turned to writing during the long years waiting for my rock and roll ship to come in. Writing, unlike painting, which I had left behind because, again, there was talent there - but just not enough, required little in the way of materials or hard labor. I started by writing letters to the editor to local newspapers. I quickly learned to be provocative with my prose, just a touch this side of inflammatory without being kooky. I delighted in the way I could get other readers to chime in on the subject of my choosing. Mostly they thought I was a moron or at least woefully misguided. Before long I had been published a dozen times in both the local dailies. The St. Paul paper had a dozen open spots every year for community-based writers. Every December the editors picked the twelve from hundreds of wannabes like me. Every year I was snubbed, turned down cold. The op-ed editor and I maintained a cordial e-mail correspondence for years and still I was never given a shot. There were a couple of times I made the cut and was even asked to submit a second sample column, yet the call never came.

I tried my hand at the great American novel too. I did it; I have a manuscript in my hand ready to be critically edited. I have no idea what to do with it. What little I really knew about the music industry I knew even less about the publishing world. Besides, there are a million good writers out there, way more than there are good musicians. What chance do I really have? What could I possibly write than hasn't already been written? And who really gives a damn?

(…or the big space inside my head)

In order to keep real life at bay, like I have been doing all my life I find my self living in the big space inside my head. It's roomy, that's for sure. It's safe, tidy, comforting and dull, but here I am finally living large. Instead of being dragged down by the minutiae of daily life I keep my head in clouds and think heavy philosophical thoughts. I study history and dream of future to come instead of living in the here and now. And by dissecting this fact I realize what living large really means. It means living every moment like it's your last. Wow, just like that, huh. So, that's what it is… Life is a cliché.

I will make it my mission to live large. The future is now. Today is the first day of the rest of my life. Amen brother!

Thursday, December 02, 2004

Staunch Partisan or Thoughtful Ideological Belief System: You Decide

The building of the entitlement/victim society has diluted justifiable social concerns with frivolity

Believe it or not I get a lot of teasing from my friends, family and colleagues at work for my staunch support for the Republican Party. Yes, indeed, I do identify myself as a Republican, I do so with pride. I do not, however, consider myself a transparent cheerleader for the party; I just tend toward the American conservative view which is far more at home in the GOP than it is in the party of the donkey. I could go through a whole list of things that bother me about the national party, but I won’t because that’s not the focus of my comments today.

Years of studying the politics of ideology have led me to the American conservative movement as an antidote to socialism. It is my belief, and I am not alone, that socialism – yes, including social democracy is one the greatest threats to freedom and individual liberty the world faces. Now before anyone gets the notion that I am a hard hearted – mean spirited – nasty ole Republican, I contend that the term social safety net and socialism are not one in the same. They are a thousand reasons for society to come to aid and comfort of those who are truly needy. There should be no reason a rich and dynamic society like the one that exists in the United States can’t afford to care for the least of us. This should not, however, lead us to a socialist society. There is enough money that spills and splashes out of the capitalistic bucket to pay for all of our reasonable social responsibilities. The fact that it doesn’t in all cases is more the fault of the “do gooders” than it is the mean spirited conservatives. The process of building the entitlement/victim society has diluted justifiable social concerns with frivolity. Just because you are born does not entitle one to an easy, carefree life.

I think a lot of Americans look upon certain social democracies in Europe with longing and envy. This is misguided and dangerous. We can not compare the United States with Sweden or Netherlands, two countries often held up by American socialists as model societies. Its apples and oranges, my friends, Sweden is a tiny, homogeneous state with almost none of the challenges that face a large and unique nation like America. That being said, it goes much deeper than that. The secular hostility toward religiosity in Europe is really at the root of dividing line between americanism and socialism. It can be frankly demonstrated by Netherland’s indefensible position on the death penalty for criminals and babies. The Dutch are aghast at the idea that America (Texas, in particular) executes murderers. And many Americans are sickened by the practice of executing the sick, elderly and the unwanted under the guise of mercy. This week we learned that the Dutch have been euthenizing babies with birth defects or serious health conditions. In America there are hospitals and nurseries that specialize in keeping babies alive – sometimes to the tune of millions of dollars per baby. This is a huge cultural division between Americans and many Europeans.

We yankees scratch our heads trying to figure out the mentality that calls the execution of a stone cold killer barbaric and the poisoning of an innocent baby mercy. In all honesty I do not support the death penalty at all. There are exceptions, of course, but I think the possibility of wrongly executing an innocent person outweighs the perceived cost of housing a murderer in prison for life. I also believe this is a debatable subject, whereas the wanton killing of an innocent baby inside or outside the womb is simply reprehensible. The former being a position the Democrats could embrace, the latter a notion the liberals will not consider. The conservative circle, often portrayed as backward and rigid is actually considerate of both debates.

There is no perfect system this side of heaven for governing humanity – humans are imperfect. Democracy, where individuals have a say in their governments seems to be the most fair and workable governing solution devised to date. It is also the form of government that is most compatible with human nature. I think it is important for society to be compatible with human nature. Human nature is at the same time driven by the needs and desires of the individual and the requirements of the community. Socialism is government by the group for the group which often tramples the individual in the process. Americanism, often called rugged individualism, puts the individual first, leaving the community at the mercy of the few standouts among us. Is there a third way? I don’t know. There are plenty of isms that have fallen by the wayside leaving us with, for all intents and purposes, these two. In life it often comes down to two choices and history (the unrevised edition) will record which will lead to a better more prosperous life for individual humans that make up the this community we call humanity.