Who and What is the Happy Warrior

The Happy Warrior is the title of a poem... and yes, I love this poem. I do not wish to be mischaracterized, for the most part poetry is not my bag. I am not an afficionado of literature nor am I a metro-sexual (I despise that term) but a dear friend introduced me to this masterpiece of prose several years ago... it has provided no end of inspiration. The Happy Warrior by William Wordsworth outlines the qualities of a magnificent soul. I aspire to possess even one or two characteristics that "every man in arms should wish to be."

This blog is a representation, in conversational form, of my voyage to wrap my arms around the world in which Mr. Worsdworth's warrior finds happiness.

(Standing disclaimer: Luckily tests of spelling accuracy ended in 4th grade otherwise I would still be in Elementary School. Be forewarned, spelling errors ahead. I subscribe to the wisdom of a great man who said, "I have utmost disdain for a man who can only spell a word one way." -Benjamin Franklin)

Thursday, December 24, 2009

A Christmas Classic

My blogging has come to an abrupt stop in the last minute mad-dash before Christmas. Here are a few clips to keep the holiday bright:

A hillarious Frazier episode (in 3 separate clips):

Highlights from Elf:

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

A Day of Infamy

Only time will tell who is on the right side of this issue. The reason I believe the health care bill recently passed by the US Senate (and almost certain to become law) is so onerous, so devastating as to merit comparison with the day Pearl Harbor fell under attack and plunged our country into the darkness of a world war -the reason for this comparison is because I believe this bill will just as negatively affect America. I believe that in another quarter century we will be in the throws of bankruptcy and the government of the United States will be in danger of collapse, mirroring the Soviet Union's demise in the last quarter century.

Here are a few reasons why I am in morning and deeply lament this piece of legislation:
1. it increases the power of the federal government to dictate in citizen's personal affairs.
2. it increases taxes (doesn't the government claim/take enough of the citizen's labor already?)
3. it reduces incentives for individuals to take responsibility of their own lives
4. it increases individual dependency on the government
5. there was no support by the opposition party (not 1 republican voted for it). For a law that will have such immense impact on the lives of the citizenry, to pass in such a polarized manner is dangerous. While it may technically qualify as a democratic process, nearly half of the citizens are having a law to which they disagree imposed upon them. This degree of political divide over a law has not happened since the Civil War.
6. very few of our political representatives have even read the entire bill.
7. the law does not uniformly apply to all citizens and states (what quallifies Nebraska for certain exemptions and not the other 49 states -except to "buy" the vote of its Senator? Fruthermore, what is so onerous as to make the exemption so valuable... but the rest of the states are subject to the full extent of the law).
8. there was no transparency in this legislation, no period of contemplation.
9. unintended consequences have not been fully (or even summarily) considered.
10. there is no tort reform or other obvious health care reform elements in the law.
11. we have abandoned capitalism or a government mandated fix. Capitalism has been the engine of innovation, national wealth, prosperity and general lifestyle improvement that lifted the US from a fledgling country into a superpower during the 19th and 20th centuries... now we are going to abandon that strategy... why? And we are going to adopt a strategy employed by mediocre and faltering countries... why?
12. our elected officials have arrogantly dismissed the proponderance of public opinion on this issue.

Poorly designed and rashly enacted policies have proven debilative to national progress and injurious to individual citizens. This is one lesson of history every representative should have stamped on their forehead. It is not relagated to republican or democrat, it is endemic in our system of government. But this law far exceeds this danger. It threatens our future fiscal wellbeing (who really thinks we've accomplished sustainability and somehow created a better system than medicare, the post office or any other program with nationwide reach), creates dependency on the government for personal decisions and establishes a preference for social/government mandate over solutions provided by the FREE market of competing ideas.

The grave of classic America is dug and the corpse of the "great experiment" is about to be laid to rest. The greatest tradgey in this story is that none of our historic enemies -not England, Germany, the Soviet Union, communism or radical Islam- killed this remarkable creature, we killed ourselves.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Pres. Obama: the "great" communicator

President Obama is a gifted communicator in the Orwellian "double speak" and contemporary style of using lots of words to say nothing and everything (via purposeful vagueness) at the same time. His campaign mantra, "change" is the perfect illustration. It means everything (at least everything any hearer wanted it to mean) and nothing at the same time.

Now his admirers are becoming frustrated with his rhetorical style:
"I have come to the conclusion that the real reason this gifted communicator has become so bad at communicating is that he doesn’t really believe a word that he is saying."

Read the entire critique, it is worth your time and consideration. As I have said from the beginning (and as I hold true also in the case of cataclysmic global warming/climate change): the emperor has no clothes on! Do not be duped by the high-sounding rhetoric.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

A gift that keeps on giving

One of the most frustrating aspects of Christmas, for me, is the transitory nature of gifts. Think about the gifts you gave last year: toys, clothes, jewlry, a kitchen appliance or even a trip to some exotic destination. These were most likely heartfelt tokens of affection but they were finite. As mere humans, our gifts are only shadows of the gifts God pours down upon us. His are immeasurable in degree, duration and denomination (that is, His gifts saturate our lives).
How is it then that a ten month old child is able to give a gift that is more lasting and more impactful than anything I will offer to another during this season. This is what I mean:

Every morning I open the door to his room and find this little angle standing in his crib just waiting for mom or dad to walk through the door so he can give a big smile. That one thing is enough to brighten up any day and cause everything that is troubling in the world to be right if even just for a couple moments.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Don't beleive in Evil? A case that may help you to start believing

Unfortunately people who believe in morality (especially those who live in the civilized/"first" world) are often very naive. We find it difficult to comprehend real evil. Oh sure, bad things happen, but we live in a very "comfy" world largely sheltered from evil that is unabashedly vicious and would make us wretch. Instead we purchase violent video games and watch Hollywood depictions -both of which we call "entertainment". I surmise that populations that really know evil (because they live amidst it every day) would not be entertained by our quasi-violence. They would give all they had to spend one leisurely day in a city park or other place our youth label as "boring".

Our contemporary conception of evil is often quaint and provincial. In fact, there is a large population of the "western world" that believes in an idea called moral relativism. Among other things, adherants to this concept believe that the notions of good and evil are subjective. In other words there is no real evil. Judging things, people and countries as "evil" is a relic and evidence of a non-enlightened people. In a post-modern world of "progressive" thought, to label something evil is as unsophisticated as faith in diety, belief that marriage should only be allowed between two people of the opposite sex and denial of global warming. To this crowd I am a virtual neandrathal.

Evil exists and I only need one recent world event to prove it. You may have heard of the terrorist (suicide) bombing during a medical school graduation ceremony in Somolia last week... Oh, you didn't hear about it? Shocking that our news media was obsessed with story of Tiger Woods! Well, here is a summary and a story link:

Somolia is a hell-hole of a country. Services, infrastructure, medical care, commerce among other elements of civilized society are entirely non-existent. Consider the presence of doctors (let alone hospitals and systems of basic medical support): there are almost no doctors in the country. "Before last year's (2008) graduation, almost two decades had passed since anyone earned a medical degree in Somalia." Think about it, that is a stunning indictment. Not one medical degree granted in almost 20 years!

Enter Benadir Univerity and a group of very courageous doctors: "Benadir University was established in 2002 by a group of Somali doctors who wanted to promote higher education in a country where physicians have become victims of the seemingly endless violence. Medical degrees are obtained there after six years of study." Last week the second graduating class comprised of 43 medical, computer science and engineering students were gathered for their graduation ceremony when some dispicable organization sent a suicide bomber into the middle of the graduation and murdered at least 22 people (people who had spent 6 years in training and preparation to spend their lives in service of their countrymen and to committed to try and build something of their pathetic country).

Want to see what a glorious existence and blessed life we have in America? Want to see the evil that would squelch the light of progress, freedom and goodness? Then take five minutes and read.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

I was right, I was right, I was right!

I hate to say it, but I was right! OK, I don't hate to say it... I love to be right. Several weeks ago I made a prediction and it is right here on my blog for everyone to see. In summary, I predicted that President Obama would finally announce his military plans for Afghanistan within 1 to 2 weeks after his health care effort passed.

No, the so called "Obama-care" has not completely been passed into law (thank goodness), it is still several steps away and will hopefully never get to that point BUT it matured enough for President Obama to claim victory and to show his left-leaning/"progressive" supporters that he is taking up their cause. This provided sufficient placation protection for him to move forward on the war in Afghanistan in a way that would draw the ire of the same left-leaning/"progressive" crowd. Rather than restating his dilemna, I refer you back to my original predictive blog and simply say, "I told you so."

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Gratitude in a poem

I have a curious relationship with poetry. I have been profoundly affected by a handful of poems. I love the wisdom they convey as well as the beauty inherent in their composition. The title of my blog is the title of a poem for crying out loud. On the other hand I find the vast majority of poetry to be sappy and uninteresting (is "uninteresting" a word). I guess I approach poetry as I do chile rellenos. I love a good chile relleno but the world is so full of mediocre chile rellenos that I am extremely hesitant to order them.... but when you find a good one, there is nothing better.

That being said, here is a poem that I was force to learn and to love. My mother did it. It is all her fault. She placed this poem over the kitchen sink when I was a child (before electric dishwashers were a common household appliance). So I spent many evenings washing dishes and staring at the only thing on the kitchen counter: this poem. It was probably the first thing I ever memorized and is buried deep in the recesses of my cerebral cortex. Here it is by memory (even though I have not recited it in probably two years):

Thank God for dirty dishes,
they have a tale to tell
while other folks go hungry,
we are eating very well.

For home, health and happiness
we should not want to fusss.
For by this stack of evidence
God is very good to us.

And so, as the week of Giving Thanks continues, I publically express my gratitude to God for the dirty dishes that daily stack up in our sink (and that have been a daily evidence of God's prosperous hand in my life from the time of my childhood til this very day).

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Wacky Wednesday 2009, Vol. 27

Ahhhh. The long awaited return of Wacky Wednesday. My deepest apologies for not paying attention to the need for some levity. Let's get back into the habit of Wacky Wednesday slowly (just one picture-thought for this week):

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Week of Giving Thanks continues...

Our precocious little Logan seems to have similar tendencies as her dad and Mrs. Wicke. Here is an exercise she completed at school:

Monday, November 30, 2009

Giving thanks for the abundance of my life

For the past decade I've engaged in an mental (as well as an emotional and spiritual) exercise on Thanksgiving. It is a simple thing that has enriched my life tremendously: one of those "small and simple things" that has large and profound effects.
I carry around a note pad from the moment I arise in the morning and set it beside my bed and I retire at night. In the interim, as my day unfolds in all the mundane and unique activities, I simply write down the things, people, circumstances and occurences that are blessings in my life. The things that make it onto my list are informative but so also is the larger process. For example, last year (2008) I made a goal to identify 1,000 blessings... Certainly I am the beneficiary of at least 1,000 blessings and could identify them. I live in the most blessed age of human existence, in one of the most prosperous countries on earth, and I enjoy health, friends, family, financial security, profound life experiences, etc., etc. Certainly I am aware and appreciative enough to identify 1,000 specific blessings I receive at the hand of God. Well, let me confess that somewhere around 500 I started to hit a wall.
Houston, we have a problem. Am I less blessed than I thought? Is the well of God's abundance running shallow in my life? ABSOLUTELY not! The fault lies within me. I simply do not recognize the bountiful favor I receive at his hand on a daily basis. I am infected to some degree with the plagues of our day: ingratitude, over-abundance, affluence and the cancer of unprecedented ease. As Abraham Lincoln said, "We have forgotten God". I would take it a step further: we have forgotten that we have forgotten God. How can I be thankful and express gratitude for blessings I do not even realize I possess?
That was the entire reason for my engaging in this process to begin with: to MAKE myself realize the abundance of blessings I have. This is a good first step, but I have learned that I have yet many more steps to take. I am thankful for this realization and thankful for the blessing of living another day so that I might more appropriately recognize my dependence on God for all that I have and all that I am (a situation which I am just now beginning to understand).

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Questions every US Senator should answer

In the United States there is no elite class of rulers. To the extent that there is (either by bloodline, education, economic class or any other criteria) we have abandoned one of the most fundamental tenents of our republic. The United States was colonized and founded on the principle of "we the people", that no one is inherantly more priveledged or deserving to be in a position of authority than another. We are all endowed with the same quality of moral freedom and we are all equally bound by the law.

Among other things, this principle means that my state senator is no more important than I. In fact, he is my employee. I hired him or her to serve me, my neighbors and the common interest in general. As such, he or she is obligated to answer to those who have entrusted him/her with our interests. Here, then are two questions I demand my senators to answer (I demand this of all the men or women holding the office of US Senator):
1. did you read the recently passed health care bill? Let me be specific since politicians are inclined, lately, to parse language to conceal the truth and quibble about the definition of words like "is" or "read": Did you read every page, every word and did you understand it?
If the answer is yes, I immediately want these to be subjected to a comprehension test to prove that they both read and understood it in its entirety. If the answer is "no" or if they fail the examination I want them recalled, impeached or otherwise disciplined on the basis of gross negligence and violation of the public trust. Why such a drastic punishment? Because, as they readily admit, this is one of the most significant and far reaching pieces of legislation that will have profound and personal effect on the citizens of this country... to treat it so lightly as to not even read it through once is unconscienable.

2. what are the potential negative consequences of this bill? This question begs their ponderous reflection -something that requires time and sober thought. If they cannot devulge at least five potential negative consequences they are being disingenuous at best, incompetent and deceptive at worst. There has never been a bill, law or amendment that does not bring with it some negative consequences. If a senator does suggest some potential negative consequences than several additional questions naturally follow: "why have these not been addressed", "should we not slow down and refine the bill to minimize these negative consequences?", etc.

There is a more important version of this second question that should also be explored if, in fact, the Senate is serious about the impact of the proposed bill on the American people. It is, "what are the potential unforseen or unanticipated negative consequences of this bill?" As a citizen, this is the most important question and the one I want thoroughly considered before any further proceedural vote is taken. I expect to be alive in 50 more years and the most devastating eventuality of the healthcare bill of 2010 would be its insolvency (a potentiality that is all to real considering the state of current government administered programs like Social Security, Medicare and Medicade).

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Troubled Times

My apologies for my blogging sabatical over the past few weeks. So much has happened and continues to happen in the socio-political arena that I am overwhelmed -it is almost paralyzing. To move past this I am simply going to ignore some things and make quick mention of some events that are relatively "old news" and yet are very important.

The Attorney General appeared before a Senate Committee to try and explain the rational for brining captured war prisoners (who, by the way, have already admitted to their terrorist crimes against the United States) into US civilian courts. Aside from the core questions (i.e. why would we do this and what positive could come out of it), this video is deeply troubling for two reasons:

Reason 1: What type of incompetents are running the highest levels of the Obama administration? I am not the Attorney General, I am not a lawyer, I was not even admitted into law school BUT I know enough to anticipate that this exact question would be asked! The delay in Mr. Holders response is astounding.... you had to know that this was a question that would be asked! There is zero anticipation or preparation. Please don't tell me this is representative of our government's forethought and strategizing!

Reason 2: The answers lead me to one absolute conclusion: we are making this up on the fly. We are navigating an EXTREMELY DANGEROUS world by the seat of our pants. Are there any principles (based in reality) that are guiding our foreign or domestic policy? Almost everything the Obama administration is currently pursuing has either no precedent or is breaking tried and true precedent:
Health care: complete and fundamental change (instead of making obvious adjustments to a system that is the envy of the world)
Government debt/spending: far in excess of previous levels
Conduct of war (Iraq and Afghanistan): indecision
American exceptionalism: apologies, deference and submission to foreign powers
Size of government: nationalized private auto makers, strong armed financial institutions
Defense of Democracy: abandoned the rule of law in Honduras, failed to offer moral support to the citizens of Iran
The airplane that is the United States of America is being flown by a crew that is taking their first flight lesson. As we approach a massive storm system with lightening, turbulence, zero visibility our aircraft is showing signs of serious structural problems. To say that I am less than confident is an understatement especially in light of Mr. Holder's bumbling over an issue that we should not even be messing with.

Monday, November 16, 2009

NFL Chandler 2009 Season Conclusion

The 2009 NFL Chandler is now in the history books. The Kinda-Super Bowl took place last Saturday on a crisp fall evening that was perfect for playing football. (I will post some video as soon as it comes out of the editors office). Unfortunately our unbeaten run came to an end as the final seconds ticked off the clock and we fell just short of an unbelievable come back. We lost 18 - 13.

The game was really a tale of two halves. There is no way to describe my first half play than to say, "it was ugly". We dug ourselves into a 18-0 hole in the first half, aided by my three intercepted passes and a defense that looked like it was taking a siesta. With some half-time adjustments we clawed back into the game with two scores and a defensive stand leaving us about 45 seconds to drive the length of the field.... Nope, like John McCain's presidential bid, we fell short.

Now, since I am trailing Brett Farve by just one year, let me put to rest all the speculation about my retirement: I will be back to plan in 2010. Speaking of Brett Farve and the Vikings, I figure this is a good place to share some happier thoughts and highlights:





Thursday, November 12, 2009

A citizen's lament: one less freedom

The fundamental reason for my opposition to present versions of the health care reform push is because it reduces my (and every US citizen's) freedom. If this is not, by now, obvious and ominous, you are either blind or we do not share a common concept of freedom. My opposition is not about the money! Not because Medicare is or is not almost bankrupt and not because it is fiscually prudent or otherwise. It is about the core of what America was set up to be: a free country.

The House of Representatives has passed a bill that will take away a very personal freedom (and what is to stop them from legally and systematically stripping me of more freedoms in other areas of my life). According to the US House of Representatives I am no longer free to not carry health insurance. This is a right I no longer have, a decision I am no longer free to make. By force of punishment including the threat of prison or seizure of my treasure, I will be forced against my will to purchase health insurance. And to add insult to injury, who must I pay for this mandated product? Who is enriched by this law? Government, the very institution that forces me to purchase is themselves the vendor. This is an immoral and malicious situation. For all those anti-capitalists who have ever bemoaned "big business" and the evil for-profit sector, I ask you what company has ever weilded such power to imprison a consumer who refuses to purchase their product?

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

How to destroy freedoms and strip a nation of their rights...

One of the most important questions we can ask ourselves: How would you strip a free people of their rights and freedoms?

I would bring about a condition, carefully and slowly, where they would not notice the erosion of their rights. I would confuse them about the very definition of rights, priveledges, entitlements, obligations and responsibilities. I would never speak of their individual responsibilities but of the governments responsibilities TO them. I would convince them that they deserve more and better and that the government's job is to provide them both (more and better). I would confound concepts of liberty, equality, sameness, justice, oppression, tolerance particularly with reference to the role of the branches of government in each of these. I would convince them that the matters of governance are too large for the individual citizen to concern themselves with and they are better left to professional politicians whose purpose is the beneficient oversight of the populace. I would construct a facade of freedom while undermining the foundations. I would find a way to dismiss the logic and arguments of the original framers as "out of date" or "from a fundamentally different era" or I would simply water down the education regarding those original framers so that their principles were lost or become spectulative assertions subject to interpretation. The main object would be to create a citizenry that is so dependent on the government that it would happily surrender some of their freedoms or rights for some supposed benefit (most preferrably a financial benefit that could only be provided by the government).

Eternal vigilence is not a condition that is concordant with our contemporary cultural characteristics of apathy and leisure. Indeed, a realist (those who are now dubbed "pessimists" or even "fanatics") might declare that our current social character is ripe for fundamental political transformation. Some might call this transformation "real change".

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Down but not Out

I rarely get sick. Perhaps this is largely a matter of semantics... I really don't consider myself sick unless I throw up or have a migrane (and therefore can't see anything except bright lights that are not UFOs). This rules out nagging colds and coughs. Those, like runny noses are simply par for the course of mortality as far as I'm concerned. "Buck up Cowboy" and get to work. But I've got to admit that I have a monster cold that has knocked me on my perverbial buttocks. Contrary to how the media and county health workers would classify my current condition, it IS NOT the swine flu (seems like "swine flu" is the classification de jure this year).

No, I simply have a cold that is tearing up my throat, rendering me hazey in the head, causing me aches in my muscles, bones and even on my skin. I am "out of it". Accordingly, I've been negligent in my blogging. Don't worry, I'll be back!

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

A Rare Prediction: When will Pres. Obama finally decide on Afghanistan?

I usually do not like to open myself up to the potential of being wrong. I HATE being wrong! It is not that I am so smart that I am right a large percentage of the time. I am very cautious and take great pains before I speak, act or make a decision. When I am wrong I feel like I've let myself or others (particularly the person I may have wronged) down -I'm sure there is some kind of mild psychopathology about this reaction. I know it has a negative effect on Mrs. Wicke since I have such a difficult time saying "I'm wrong" and its confessional cousin, "I'm sorry" (since this, by inference, also means "I screwed up").

But enough about me and my personality faults. I am going to make a bold political predicition. We've been hearing lots of "we must act quickly" in regards to health care reform and, ironically, "we must take our time" in regards to our military strategy in Afghanistan. Really..., in the latter issue people are dying NOW due to inaction but in the former, no one is going to die in what is the world's most charitable medical system.

So why the rush on health care and "dithering" over a military policy? These two are clearly entertwined because they are both political issues and President Obama is fighting for his political life. If he does not succeed in his efforts to enlarged government and extend de facto socialist policies he will bring down the ire of his liberal base. If he follows the battlefield informed recommendation of his own appointed General he will bring down the ire of his liberal base. BUT he has to follow the military recommendations or he will lose a war he himself has identified as vital to our national interests. So it becomes a matter of timing: pass health care reform quickly (to soothe the left) and then bolster our troops in Afghanistan.

Hence the feet dragging on the military decision and the fast tracking of the health care plan both make perfect sense. The question of when will President Obama finally decide (more precisely: "announce") his Afghanistan military policy? This finally brings us to my prediction: President Obama will announce his plans in Afghanistan (a troop buildup) within one or two weeks after some version of health care reform passes.

I will be my health care on it (which will be insolvent within 10 years after it passes anyway).

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Saturday Enlightenment: Men and Women Differences (Prager University, Vol. 5)

About 30 years ago (a result of the 1960's reverse-enlightenment) so called "intelligent" people started to adnvance a theory that there is no real difference between men and women -how could there be if we are all equal (remember in the field of education it was determined that seperate, of different, but equal was an impossibility... but what is accurate in one realm of life does not necessarily carry to all others). They suggested that any differences that did exist were due to nurture or socialization. Hence if you did not surround girls with pink or give them dolls to nurture they would grow up to be as analytical and aggressive as men and be able to compete in a male-oriented business world. At the foundation it was a view of male domination and this perspective took the battle to all things male. The first artilce of faith, however, had to be that there is no difference between men and women. A logical extention of this arguement is that, if there is no difference, then why cannot a man marry a man and a woman marry a woman and it be considered the same (in every way) as a man marrying a woman?

Sorry but common sense, logic AND an inexhaustible number of scientific studies have shown that there are significant differences between men and women. Here is a little primer on just one of the differences between the male and the female:

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Most Influential Books: Dennis Prager's List

This is the second post of a permanent feature of my blog: introducing my readers to some of the best minds I know and the books that made them so darn smart. I am not, however, just searching out "smarts" since some of the most intelligent people have also been some of the worst people in the world. To qualify as contributors, these are also people I look to for their wisdom, integrity and compassion.

Today I am sharing the books that have most influenced someone I do not know personally although I've listened intently to him for almost a decade. If you think the thoughts I share in this blog have any merit (or are at least peak your interest and ire), you should become more familiar with Dennis Prager.

Here is his list:
Man's Search for Meaning by Viktor Frankl
Modern Times by Paul M. Johnson
The Arab Mind by Rapahel Patai
For the Glory of God by Rodney Stark
God and the Astronomers by Robert Jastow
In Bluebeard's Castle by George Steiner
The Jewish Mystique by Earnest Van Den Haag
Men and Marriage by George Gilder
Mao The Unknown Story by Jung Chang

Now go read a good book!

Monday, October 26, 2009

The Healthcare Catastrophe

  • The King James version of the Bible (at least the one I have) including the Old and New Testament is 1,590 pages long.
  • The American Heritage Dictionary (again, the version I use) is 878 pages long.
  • The Constitution of the United States (1787) contains 4,543 words including the signer's names.
  • The Declaration of Independence has 458 words.
The current (latest as of Oct. 26th) Senate version of the Health Care bill is 1,502 pages long! That is two sheets of paper more than 3 reams of single sided copy paper. That is larger than the Phoenix East Valley Dex yellow page book (2008 edition). Aside from the mammoth size of the bill, I have several questions that address the content of the bill:

1. how many members of the Senate and House of Representatives will read this Bill from front to back? I think they should all be forced (yes, upon threat of imprisonment) to read every word before they vote on it.
2. how long would it take for a person with above average intelligence to read such a document?
3. how long would it take to digest, analyze and consider the social ramifications, fiscal consequences (intended and unintended) as well as the short, medium and long-term implications of this bill?
4. Once the items in #3 have been accomplished, how long would it take to seriously debate the provisions in such a document?

Friends and neigbors, I don't think we can honestly expect to have anything like a serious vote on this matter until July 2010 at the earliest. This is very aggressive and assumes we entirely set aside all other legislation such as the "Cap and Trade" and other bills on the docket. To move this bill without the most serious and sober consideration of every elected national politician is not fair to the American people at best and a dereliction of duties, a violation of civic trust and worthy for removal from office at worst. ANYONE, I don't care if you are my city councilperson or President Barak Obama, who suggests some need for expediency that does not allow for such thorough inspection does not deserve the office they've been elected to. I say to my fellow Americans, be wary of such a politician: they are seeking to introduce an unprecedented degree of power over your most basic and personal rights cloaked in the guise of social wellbeing.

If God is able to give mankind moral and spiritual direction over a timespan of 3,500 years in a text totaling just over 1,500 pages, how is it that our government cannot address the single issue of health care in significantly less than 1,500 pages. The enormity of the volume alone is evidence of government that has become much too expansive. Hobbes' dreaded Leviathon is alive and becoming stronger.

Friday, October 23, 2009

October 23rd, a "holy-day" of reverence for the people of the Willie Handcart Company

On this day, 153 years ago, a horrible sequence of events unfolded near the continental divide on the high plains of what is now Wyoming. And as with many things, the horror of the situation was matched by a depth of heroism that I can only slightly imagine -it is all beyond my comprehension.

On October 23rd, 1856 a ragged group of nearly 500 people faced the final ascent of what was -and still is- a long gradual incline on the 1,300 mile trail between Iowa City and Salt Lake City. I have firsthand experience with this unforgiving country. There are very few trees and almost no shelter along the thirteen mile span that can best be described as a wind tunnel. I made several visits to this very spot on the trail every October 23rd for the three years we lived in Riverton, Wyoming (the modern city nearly 50 miles north of this trail). Each year of the pilgrimage was met with the same frierce winds and snow flurries. I wore layers of modern clothing including insulated shoes, gloves and several layers over my head -even still the frigid air bit at me through the layers such that I frequently had to walk backwards with my face away from the whipping west-to-east winds. I was a healthy young man in my mid-twenties with no handcart to pull. I have no idea how the following events resulted in anything but complete tragedy:

The Willie Handcart Company faced this brutal 12 mile segment of trail on October 23, 1856. They had already been overtaken by early winter weather. For a few previous days they had camped, not in periodic flurries, but in the snows of a recent blizzard which covered the trecherous uneven ground. This was not a party made up of seasoned frontiersmen but included women, children, elderly and even a few newborns. They served as their own beasts of burden pulling or pushing their handcarts loaded with their life possessions and provisions which averaged about 250 pounds (for about 5 or 6 people).

These pioneers were novices. They wore the apparel of the day which by this point, almost 1,000 miles into their journey, resembled lose rags especially the shoes which were worn down after days of contact with the rough trail. They had slept, walked and labored in the same clothing for weeks and in this arctic condition draped every blanket around themselves which had to be somewhat cumbersome when fighting the wind and the necessity of pulling or pushing a cart.

Their physical condition was almost beyond my ability to comprehend. Their normal allowance of food had been twice rationed -once on October 1st and again, since they had not met up with any parties providing expected relief, on October 15th. By the 23rd, for a full week, the men had been subsisting on 10 ounces of flour a day. The women on 9 ounces and children on 6 ounces A DAY! This while pulling or pushing a handcart along a rustic trail as it slowly ascended to the continental divide! Please, go into the kitchen and measure out 10 ounces of flour, add some water and then push a wheelbarrow up and down the nearest overgrown grassy field for twelve hours a day (to make the experience even more authentic, wear an old pair of slippers).

I had the distinct blessing of taking part in a re-enactment on this very segment of the trail in August of 1997. I was 27 years old and had with my my 21 year old brother. We were in perfect health and enjoyed ideal summer weather and a cart that carried our mountain bikes, water coolers and snacks (probably 50 pounds at most). Our handcart was constructed with metal tread and axels with greased ball bearings... there were times when we struggled and needed to take periodic breaks. I am embarrased to say that it was difficult enough that I would think twice about participating in such a re-enactment again.

In a condition that was nothing less than chronic exhaustion, the Willie Company ate the last pounds of flour on Sunday, October 19th -the day of the first snow fall. Consider their prospects for the future: more than 500 miles from Salt Lake City and any human habitation they were completely out of food. In the company were hundreds of women and children. In one of the few golden glimmers of hope that took place, the first few riders of an advanced rescue party sent from Salt Lake arrived on this Sunday. They brought with them some food (a scanty amount when divided between 500 starving people) and hope in the news of 40 rescue wagons a day or so behind. With this news, and the anticipation of pending resupply, the party ate the last of the foodstuffs on Monday but no rescue party arrived.

James G. Willie, the Captain (leader) of the company saddled up and rode west to find the wagons and bring them to his desperate camp. In the meantime the snow became a blizzard and the threat of freezing became as ominous as starvation. Captain Willie was gone for two full days while the pioneers were left to wonder what misadventure had fallen him and the rescue party. What had happened was the impossibility of the rescue wagons to navigate in blizzard conditions in the highlands of Wyoming. Not knowing the desperate conditions of the pioneers, they hunkered down to outlast the storm. Captain Willie could easily have passed by this group in the blinding conditions except for a marker placed on the trail and noticed by him as he rode close to their camp. On Tuesday evening at sunset Captain Willie returned to his people with 40 wagons with food and clothing.

This was not, however, the deliverance most had hoped for. Further to the east of the Willie Company was the Martin Company of another 550 pioneers in more desperate condition than these. The majority of the rescue wagons pushed on to the Martin Company (I will not give an account of this group who would, in the end, lose 1 of every 4 members during its experience).

On the morning of October 23rd the Willie Company arose with a 12 mile span of trail in front of them. This day they would cross a patch of ground called "Rocky Ridge" and cross the continental divide. The only suitable camping spot lay at the end of the 12 miles on a creek called Rock Creek Hollow. In their exhaustion, facing a rocky trail covered with snow (at places a foot deep), and always facing the bitter cold wind, they began walking. Some would not complete this 12 mile stretch until 24 hours had passed. I do not know how any of them made it. I cannot describe the experience. There are no words capable of painting an accurate picture. But here are a few of their words:

Levi Savage's Journal
(Levi Savage was the great soul whose recommendation to stay at Council Bluffs had been over-ridden. He being chastised for "lack of faith" before he said, "Brethren and sisters, what I have said I know to be true, but seeing you are to go forward, I will go with you, will help you all I can, will work with you, will rest with you, will suffer with you, and if necessary I will die with you." On this day he lived up to his promise and nearly paid for it with his life.)

We buried our dead, got up our teams and about nine o’clock a.m. commenced ascending the Rocky Ridge. This was a severe day. The wind blew hard and cold. The ascent was some five miles long and some places steep and covered with deep snow. We became weary, set down to rest, and some became chilled and commenced to freeze. Brothers Atwood, Woodard and myself remained with the teams. They being perfectly loaded down with the sick and children, so thickly stacked I was fearful some would smother. About ten or eleven o’clock in the night we came to a creek that we did not like to attempt to cross without help, it being full of ice and freezing cold. Leaving Brothers Atwood and Woodard with the teams, I started to the camp for help. I met Brother Willey coming to look for us. He turned for the camp, as he could do no good alone. I passed several on the road and arrived in camp after about four miles of travel. I arrived in camp, but few tents were pitched and men, women, and children sat shivering with cold around their small fires. Some time lapsed when two teams started to bring up the rear. Just before daylight they returned, bringing all with them, some badly frozen, some dying and some dead. It was certainly heartrendering to hear children crying for mothers and mothers crying for children. By the time I got them as comfortably situated as circumstances would admit (which was not very comfortable), day was dawning. I had not shut my eyes for sleep, nor lain down. I was nearly exhausted with fatigue and want of rest.

John Chislett's Record
“A few days of bright freezing weather were succeeded by another snow-storm. The day we crossed the Rocky Ridge it was snowing a little—the wind hard from the north-west—and blowing so keenly that it almost pierced us through. We had to wrap ourselves closely in blankets, quilts, or whatever else we could get, to keep from freezing. Captain Willie still attended to the details of the company’s travelling, and this day he appointed me to bring up the rear. My duty was to stay behind everything and see that nobody was left along the road. I had to bury a man who had died in my hundred, and I finished doing so after the company had started. In about half an hour I set out on foot alone to do my duty as rear-guard to the camp. The ascent of the ridge commenced soon after leaving camp, and I had not gone far up it before I overtook a cart that the folks could not pull through the snow, here about knee-deep. I helped them along, and we soon overtook another. By all hands getting to one cart we could travel; so we moved one of the carts a few rods, and then went back and brought up the other. After moving in this way for a while, we overtook other carts at different points of the hill, until we had six carts, not one of which could be moved by the parties owning it. I put our collective strength to three carts at a time, took them a short distance, and then brought up the other three. Thus by travelling over the hill three times—twice forward and once back—I succeeded after hours of toil in bringing my little company to the summit. The six carts were then trotted on gaily down hill, the intense cold stirring us to action. One or two parties who were with these carts gave up entirely, and but for the fact that we overtook one of our ox-teams that had been detained on the road, they must have perished on that Rocky Ridge. One old man, named James (a farm-labourer from Gloucestershire), who had a large family, and who had worked very hard all the way, I found sitting by the roadside unable to pull his cart any farther. I could not get him into the wagon, as it was already overcrowded. He had a shot-gun which he had brought from England, and which had been a great blessing to him and his family, for he was a good shot, and often had a mess of sage hens or rabbits for his family. I took the gun from the cart, put a small bundle on the end of it, placed it on his shoulder, and started him out with his little boy, twelve years old. His wife and two daughters older than the boy took the cart along finely after reaching the summit.

“We travelled along with the ox-team and overtook others, all so laden with the sick and helpless that they moved very slowly. The oxen had almost given out. Some of our folks with carts went ahead of the teams, for where the roads were good they could out-travel oxen; but we constantly overtook some stragglers, some with carts, some without, who had been unable to keep pace with the body of the company. We struggled along in this weary way until after dark, and by this time our ‘rear’ numbered three wagons, eight hand-carts, and nearly forty persons. With the wagons were Millen Atwood, Levi Savage, and William Woodward, captains of hundreds, faithful men who had worked hard all the way.

“We finally came to a stream of water which was frozen over. We could not see where the company had crossed. If at the point where we struck the creek, then it had frozen over since we passed it. We started one team to cross, but the oxen broke through the ice and would not go over. No amount of shouting and whipping could induce them to stir an inch. We were afraid to try the other teams, for even should they cross we could not leave the one in the creek and go on. There was no wood in the vicinity, so we could make no fire, and were uncertain what to do. We did not know the distance to the camp, but supposed it to be three or four miles. After consulting about it, we resolved that some one should go on foot to the camp to inform the captain of our situation. I was selected to perform the duty, and I set out with all speed. In crossing the creek I slipped through the ice and got my feet wet, my boots being nearly worn out. I had not gone far when I saw some one sitting by the roadside. I stopped to see who it was, and discovered the old man James and his little boy. The poor old man was quite worn out.

“I got him to his feet and had him lean on me, and he walked a little distance, but not very far. I partly dragged, partly carried him a short distance farther, but he was quite helpless, and my strength failed me. Being obliged to leave him to go forward on my own errand, I put down a quilt I had wrapped round me, rolled him in it, and told the little boy to walk up and down by his father, and on no account to sit down, or he would be frozen to death. I told him to watch for teams that would come back, and to hail them when they came. This done I again set out for the camp, running nearly all the way and frequently falling down, for there were many obstructions and holes in the road. My boots were frozen stiff, so that I had not the free use of my feet, and it was only by rapid motion that I kept them from being badly frozen. As it was, both were nipped.

“After some time I came in sight of the camp fires, which encouraged me. As I neared the camp I frequently overtook stragglers on foot, all pressing forward slowly. I stopped to speak to each one, cautioning them all against resting, as they would surely freeze to death. Finally, about 11 P. M., I reached the camp almost exhausted. I had exerted myself very much during the day in bringing the rear carts up the ridge, and had not eaten anything since breakfast. I reported to Captains Willie and Kimball the situation of the folks behind. They immediately got up some horses, and the boys from the Valley started back about midnight to help the ox-teams in. The night was very severe and many of the emigrants were frozen. It was 5 A.M. before the last team reached the camp.

“I told my companions about the old man James and his little boy. They found the little fellow keeping faithful watch over his father, who lay sleeping in my quilt just as I left him. They lifted him into a wagon, still alive, but in a sort of stupor. He died before morning. His last words were an enquiry as to the safety of his shot-gun.”

This is what I think about as the hours pass by each October 23rd. This is the legacy I have inherited as a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. This is the sacrifice paid by many who have come before me and which I hope, in some small way, to live up to. One of the many astonishing things about my predecessors was their fortitude and quiet devotion to what they esteemed to be most dear. It was not their lives, certainly not the conveniences and luxuries of life since they had none, but it was a sacred devotion to something higher than themselves: to their God, to their faith and to the integrity of their convictions. As if it could not get any more amazing, the fact that October 24th, with its own challenges on top of those from the day, week and month prior, followed after October 23rd is breathtaking:

Again from Levi Savage's Journal:
October 24, 1856, Friday. This morning found us with thirteen corpses for burial. These were all put into one grave. Some had actually frozen to death. We were obliged to remain in camp, move the tents and people behind the willows to shelter them from the severe wind which blew enough to pierce us through.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Wacky Wednesday 2009, Vol. 27

If certain people actually thought with their thinking-organ instead of their sex-organ we might not have to endure so many pathetic public displays of lameness. Sometimes it is embarrasing to be associated with the human species. To any politicians, role models or others who have taken the oath of matrimony, please consider this:

Congressman Offers Preemptive Apology For Extramarital Affair

Monday, October 19, 2009

A small contribution to the world

While I enjoyed a tremendous sense of relief at the completion of my dissertation, oral defense and formal reception of a Ph.D. degree, I had a sinking feeling that all my efforts and work -eight years worth- were largely selfish (the goal was MY degree, MY education, MY personal accomplishment) unless I could share the insights and findings I "discovered" with the world at large. Sharing it with the goal of making this world a better place. To achieve titles, positions and other marks of prestige is a hollow accomplishment if the only beneficiary is yourself, even when self-improvement and personal development are worthy endeavors. Hence, the bad news for doctoral students is that a dissertation is never completely finished until you contribute your hard work to the larger body of knowledge and aid, in some small way, to mankind's progress. In academia this usually takes the form of a book or publication in scholarly journals.

Now, although not entirely free of the weight, I can finally breath a bit easier. I have published!

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Saturday Enlightenment: God, Part 1 (Prager University, Vol. 4)

Here is another of the "big questions" to devote at least 5 minutes of your time to:

Thursday, October 15, 2009

US Post Office woes provide preview of US Health Care system

So the government wants to be a major player in providing US citizens with healthcare. They seem to think that they can do it better (i.e. more economically) than anyone else... one of those good intention things. The US Post office is currently a major player in providing US citizens with mail and package delivery services. They also seem to think they can do this better than anyone else. The problem is, the USPS has been running a deficit for many years (see previous post). Seems like there is a limited amount of money to provide this mail delivery service. Wow, sounds a lot like the healthcare problem: it is costing us too much while not covering everyone.

So what is the Post Office's plan to become more fiscally balanced? What, also, is the government's plan to bring health care costs under control? There really are just two possible answers: 1. raise the cost of stamps/healthcare -which simply means charging the citizens more money (i.e. raising taxes) or 2. spend less by cutting back on services -which simply means regulating who can have what proceedures and what medicine when, where and why (also known as "rationing").

Don't take it from me, here is a report of the Post Master General's plan of attack:

The Postal Service is facing up to $5 billion of red ink a year, "so people cannot expect business as usual," U.S. Postmaster General John Potter said. He called for "monumental changes" to remake the Postal Service and allow it to operate in a more business-like way.

Oh, that is a laugh-riot. The strategy is to allow the government-run post office to operate in a more business-like way... then why are we moving healthcare away from a "busines-like way" and into a government administered program. Does anyone else see the irony?

But back to the specifics to fix the financial mess that is our government run postal system:
Plans to shutter some post offices and branches, which will be announced on Friday, may save $20 million to $100 million, a fraction of the $5 billion annual budget gap the Postal Service needs to fill.
Options to put the Postal Service back in the black include allowing it to cut back on traditional mail delivery, reduce its workforce and sell more than stamps at its retail outlets. The Postal Service could save about $3 billion a year by eliminating Saturday mail delivery.

Applying this logic, which is actually very a very sound and necessary business approach, to healthcare, this is what the government will do: 1. close some hospitals and clinics, 2. cut back on traditional medical services/proceedures, 3. reduce the number of specialists, medications, doctors and nurses (the "workforce") and 4. eliminating "Saturday" medical services. What is the healthcare comparison to "Saturday mail delivery"? It is those for whom medical treatment costs more than it is worth (the aged: they are close to leaving this world anyway. Why perform a hundred thousand dollar knee replacement when the patient only has a decade to live anyway? That is "Saturday mail service").

Well, cutting back on mail service is perhaps a necessary inconvenience but cutting back on who need to be treated for cancer or makeing a beaurocratic decision regarding who is allowed to get a pacemaker... I don't like that. Sounds to me like governmental power to dictate the intimate details of our lives... I thought this was the United States of America, home of the FREE! To the contrary, at some point we have decided that home of the universally insured is a higher value.

The famed emphatic position spoken so long ago has some application here:
"Is life (or physical health) so dear or peace (e.g. ease and security) so sweet as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery (surrendering your ability to choose for yourself). Forbit it almighty God. I know not what course others may take but as for me, give me liberty or give me death (even if it comes because I am uninsured)."
-Patrick Henry (modern application and adaptation by Thomas Wicke)

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Limited blogging due to interruptions called "life"

I have to apologize for the limited blogging of the past week -unfortunately the forcast for the next few weeks is much of the same. You must understand that Octobers in the Wicke home are something like mini-marathon that prepares us for the mad dash of the holiday season. Here is a summary sketch of October:
2nd: Nathan's (one of brothers) birthday
10th: Ben's (another of my brothers) birthday
12th: Griffin's birthday (more on this in a moment)
16th: Mrs. Wicke's birthday (I had better not blow this one)
17th: Collette's (a sister-in-law) birthday
28th: Randy's (another brother but he lives in Alaska so there is not much we can do regarding this one) birthday.
31st: Halloween of course

By the time November arrives I have to consider a second mortgage to cover all the celebrations and presents not to mention the exhaustion of planning and non-stop partying. And lest you think we can rest for a season, Logan's birthday is Nov. 6th and she has informed us that she has three "celebrations" since this is her 8th birthday and she will be baptized. If my counting is accordant with hers, she is anticipating:
1. a family birthday party (dinner, cake and ice cream with our immediate family)
2. a "friends" birthday party where she will invite classmates, neighborhood friends, etc.
3. some get together (with extended family who will be visiting) on the day of her baptism.

That is what our future holds... now back to the present. Griffin had his "friends" birthday party today. The theme was dinosaurs and all I can say is "thank heavens for Mrs. Wicke!" They made fossils (see pictures), dinosaur hats and then went across the street to the park to excavate dinosaur bones. A great time was had by all the little six year old boys but especially by Griffin who hauled in the presents. Tonight when I was going through the bedtime routine I said, "It is time to say your prayers... you have a lot to be thankful for tonight", to which he said "Oh YEHHHHHH!" He then proceeded to thank Heavenly Father for his new toys, identifying each one by name. I am sure God in his heaven is feeling satisfied at the joy His creation of Transformers brought to one of his little six year old sons. Now, the creation of "Flarp" (the etymological similarity to "fart" is not a conincidence) probably does not bring as much joy in the realms of heaven but earth is not a bad place for such lighthearted and irreverant silliness. More on Flarp later.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Saturday Enlightenment: Exploring Mars

The story of these two Mars rovers is amazing! If you want to feel good about our potential for intelligence, accomplishment and ingenuity, take a break from the muck of politics and the disappointments of human nature and watch this video (which is only a brief introduction to these two robots but maybe it will inspire you to learn more).

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Our Future is Precarious!

This is a must read article on the complicated and, yes, precarious state of world affairs. TAKE 5 MINUTES AND READ:

(click on image above)

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Wacky Wednesday 2009, Vol. 25

In the spirit of Halloween this is a bit more creepy than "wacky" -most creepy because it was drawn by a sweet little seven year old girl who, by her own admission, can't stand violence. Truly, she asks us to change the channel when a television show becomes "too violent". Too bad the most violent TV shows we watch are Revolutionary and Civil War documentaries. She even criticizes the scriptures because of their high violent content (we recently finished reading Ether).

So, here is a Halloween card sketched out by our soft and cuddly littl girl:

Just a couple quick notes. She is a great speller (much better than I ever was... much better than I am now for that matter) but since she is being taught with phonics she does not always get unfamiliar words correctly). She has always loved dogs... hence the central character of the card. About a year ago she became fascinated with bats... so combine the two with the lore of Halloween and there you have a wacky greeting card.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

We the idiots of the United States of America...

Here are a few simple questions to determine if we are, in fact, idiots:
1. How many times would you take your car to a mechanic who never fixed the problem but rather charged you to replace parts that were perfectly good?
2. How many times would you invest money with an uncle whose business plan never materialized but could not account for the expenditure of your money?
3. How many seasons would you continue paying a quarterback millions of dollars when he led you to seasons of 2 wins and 12 losses and threw three times more interceptions than touchdowns?
4. How many new programs would you let your government establish with the following track record:
Social Security: this social program ironically on its last insecure legs will go broke in 2041. So much for this progressive program of goverment good intentions founded in 1935 as part of the New Deal.
Medicare: this medical care program for the elderly is on its deathbed and will become insolvent by 2020. Established in stages but initially in 1965 it guaranteed covereage for senior citizens... well at least for all senior citizens prior to 2020 (55 years from conception to catastrophe... the Medicare program will not even be able to cover a person who was born in the year it was established -I'm sure that wasn't in the government's plans at the time).
US Post office: no introduction necessary for this government agency. We all know what stellar customer service we receive and how quickly you can get in and out of the branch. Here is a snapshot of their fiscal expertise:
2002: $1.5 billion deficit
(oh, by the way in 2005 UPS, that private company that dresses in brown suits had a $4 billion profit)
2007: $5.1 billion deficit
2009: $7 billion deficit

So, are we Americans really stupid enough to believe that the government should play a role in providing universal health care? With such a stellar track record in effective program design, management and sustainability... Oh but surely Barak Obama is somehow different than Roosevelt, Johnson or even Kennedy. Come on! President Obama is not some political savior. He is not even a social savant. He is merely another good intentioned politician who thinks he can make better decisions for you and I than we can for ourselves. If we allow this, with such a profound historical precedent, then we really are the United States of idiots.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Wacky Wednesday 2009, Vol. 25

It appears the differences between males and females begin quite early. One tends toward verbal proficiency and one tends toward visual stimulation... you decide which is which:

As a member of the male sex, I am not ashamed to admit that all we need is a full tummy and to be held by a beautiful woman.

Monday, September 28, 2009

New Gameshow: Identify the topic of this speech

A United States President gave this speech sometime after 1941 -a time marked by significant threats to human freedom by forces such as communism, radical Islam, terrorism and other totalitarian regimes (Hitler, Mao and Stalin come to mind); can you fill in the blanks and guess the topic that he was referring to? Here are the first two paragraphs of his impassioned address before the United Nations:

Good morning. I want to thank the Secretary-General for organizing this summit, and all the leaders who are participating. That so many of us are here today is a recognition that the threat from __________________ is serious, it is urgent, and it is growing. Our generation's response to this challenge will be judged by history, for if we fail to meet it - boldly, swiftly, and together - we risk consigning future generations to an irreversible catastrophe.

No nation, however large or small, wealthy or poor, can escape the impact of ____________________. ____________________ threaten every coastline. More powerful _______________ and ______________ threaten every continent. More frequent _________ and __________________ breed hunger and conflict in places where hunger and conflict already thrive. On ________________________, families are already being forced to flee their homes as _____________ refugees. The security and stability of each nation and all peoples - our prosperity, our health, our safety - are in jeopardy. And the time we have to reverse this ___________ is running out.

It would be fun to fill in each blank like the old Mad-Libs game we used to play in Jr. High School. Hopefully your mind filled in the blanks as you read... from that mental exercise, what theme formed? Knowing the political and social threats facing the world, what would you say was the topic of his speech?

If you filled in the blanks with words like "radical" or "Islamic terrorism" and "sleeper cells", "ethnic cruelty", "vicious civilian attacks", and the like, you would be wrong. Perhaps he was talking about weakened economies, corporate mismanagement, government corruption, greed, financial system meltdown, fiscal confidence or profound recession? Nope, not that either.

The messenger was none other than our current President. Presiden Obama seems to think that the threat deserving this type of alarmism and threatens our species with impending doom is, fanfare please,... climate change. Are you kidding me? Worst case scenario: man-made climate change is a problem such that in 50 years the oceans will rise about 5 feet (and that is a very generous concession considering the science). That is scenario A. Scenario B goes something like this: free democratic societies are overthrown due to totalitarian and radical theocracies who attain nuclear and population advantages in 15 years. I'm thinking I could care less about a 5 foot increase in ocean levels when I am living under the rule of a tyranical totalitarian regime! We had better figure out who and what the most pressing threats our to our way of life, our freedom and our children... and fast!

I once heard a prfound statement that has application here (although the alledged author is somewhat disputed): "When men stop believing in God they don't believe in nothing; they believe in anything." Beyond the issues of losing faith in God there is a equally troubling issue of misapplying our values and attention: God is replaced by __________, by any number of things we elevate to deity-like importance. We no longer have clear values and a sense of morality. The environment becomes our greatest enemy, not men with vicious and cruel intentions. The notion of moral relativism finished what failing faith began. There is something ironic in the claim that there is no such thing as objective evil when it comes to cultures and political systems BUT you are heritic of the worst order if you deny mankind's wanton degradation of the environment.

Am I the only one that is confused by this line of thinking?

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Saturday Enlightenment: Are people naturally good or evil? (Prager University, Vol. 3)

Here is another question/concept that is central to the human experience. Men and women have been wrestling with this for millenia therefore it is probably worth AT LEAST five minutes of our time (although 5 decades of pondering would be more appropriate):

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Happy Thomas Day!

I would like to wish everyone (especially all the Thomases out there doing good work) a very happy Thomas Day. Unfortunately Mrs. Wicke gets as excited for this day as she does for April Fools... at least Thomas Day only comes up once every two years.

I discovered a great Thomas Day blog that was created, evidently, due to the ever increasing number of Thomas Day celebrants. I will miss gathering together in person but I understand how these things grow and how the world is connected more than ever. Here is the site:

And if you are a Thomas, remember this day is to contemplate and (hopefully) celebrate your good influence on the world; about the great things you have done, are doing and will yet do. Go out there and make a difference!

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Why government provided (managed, guaranteed, etc.) healthcare is a danger to the Republic

I am smart enough to recognize the need to be humble -smart enough to realize that I do not know everything. Unfortunately many politicians, self-proclaimed experts and various actors seem to think they do have all the right answers. It is as if a byproduct of living in this day and age is unprecedented intelligence... I do not think this generation has a monopoly on knowledge and certainly not wisdom. I do not believe that current (also known as "progressive") ideas are qualitatively better than ideas of the past (also known as "conservative"). I believe there is great wisdom and truth in the words, opinions, philosophies and values of those who preceeded this generation. If I were to choose between the political assumptions of John Adams, Daniel Webster, Thomas Jefferson or Edmund Burke and the political assertions of Barak Obama, Nancy Pelosi or one thousand erudite university professors, I would choose the first. Barak Obama is a mental and political pygmy compared to Jefferson and Adams.

Consider the following statements of prior political leaders in the context of the current debate over government's oversight and/or control of healthcare. Ask yourself, is there any question on what side of the issue these great leaders would fall?

"Good intentions will always be pleaded for every assumption of power. It is hardly too strong to say that the Constitution was made to guard the people against the dangers of good intentions. There are men in all ages who mean to govern well, but they mean to govern. They promise to be good masters, but they mean to be masters."
-- Daniel Webster, as quoted in Hearings on the confirmation of Abe Fortas to be an associate justice of the Supreme Court, p. 108

"In the end, more than they wanted freedom, they wanted security (and "healthcare" is just one form or security). They wanted a comfortable life, and they lost it all -- security, comfort, and freedom. When ... the freedom they wished for was freedom from responsibility, then Athens ceased to be free."
-- Sir Edward Gibbon (1737-1794), parenthetical comment added by T. Wicke

"We’re dealing with the oldest political error: the belief that because everyone wants something, government should or must provide it. If the error is pervasive, the result is the total state. If it is completely uprooted, the result is the purely free society." -- Llewellyn H. Rockwell, Jr.

"Experience should teach us to be most on our guard to protect liberty when the government's purposes are beneficent. Men born to freedom are naturally alert to repel invasion of their liberty by evil-minded rulers. The greatest dangers to liberty lurk in insidious encroachment by men of zeal, well-meaning but without understanding." -- Justice Louis Brandeis,1928

"The true foundation of republican government is the equal right of every citizen in his person and property and in their management." -- Thomas Jefferson to Samuel Kercheval, 1816.

"The two enemies of the people are criminals and government, so let us tie the second down with the chains of the Constitution so the second will not become the legalized version of the first."-- Thomas Jefferson

"We have rights, as individuals, to give as much of our own money as we please to charity; but as members of Congress we have no right so to appropriate a dollar of public money." -- David Crockett, U.S. Congressman (1827-1835)

"I believe there are more instances of the abridgement of freedoms of the people by gradual and silent encroachment of those in power than by violent and sudden usurpations." -- James Madison

"The sacred rights of property are to be guarded at every point. I call them sacred, because, if they are unprotected, all other rights become worthless or visionary. What is personal liberty, if it does not draw after it the right to enjoy the fruits of our own industry? What is political liberty, if it imparts only perpetual poverty to us and all our posterity? What is the privilege of a vote, if the majority of the hour may sweep away the earnings of our whole lives, to gratify the rapacity of the indolent, the cunning, or the profligate, who are borne into power upon the tide of a temporary popularity?" -- Judge Joseph Story, 1852

"To take from one because it is thought that his own industry and that of his father's has acquired too much, in order to spare to others, who, or whose fathers have not exercised equal industry and skill, is to violate arbitrarily the first principle of association--the guarantee to every one of a free exercise of his industry and the fruits acquired by it." -- Thomas Jefferson: Note in Tracy's "Political Economy," 1816.

"It's important to realize that whenever you give power to politicians or bureaucrats, it will be used for what they want, not for what you want."-- Harry Browne

"As government grows, its increased power to grant favors or inflict pain attracts more people who would abuse the system." -- John Fund

"...There is no nation on earth powerful enough to accomplish our overthrow. ... Our destruction, should it come at all, will be from another quarter. From the inattention of the people to the concerns of their government, from their carelessness and negligence, I must confess that I do apprehend some danger. I fear that they may place too implicit a confidence in their public servants, and fail properly to scrutinize their conduct; that in this way they may be made the dupes of designing men, and become the instruments of their own undoing." -- Daniel Webster, June 1, 1837

"If once [the people] become inattentive to the public affairs, you and I, and Congress and Assemblies, Judges and Governors, shall all become wolves. It seems to be the law of our general nature, in spite of individual exceptions." -- Thomas Jefferson to Edward Carrington, 1787

Even if we "win" this debate and fend off the present good intentions of government, I fear that we have suffered a great loss. The public objection to ObamaCare is not founded on the principles illustrated above but rather on the question of money and infringement on existing governnment programs. ObamaCare is to be shunned not because it will negatively effect Medicare or increase our national deficit but because it is fundamentally, principally an assault on personal liberty and the foundation of our republic. We have become a nation whose criteria for political policy is money instead of alignment with the principles of freedom.

Yellowstone Park -our recent trip to an active supervolcano

The much desired and yet difficult to attain "balanced life" requires relaxation and recreation as much as it demands sober introspection. In this spirit, here is a reflection on our family summer vacation:

As you may remember our family trip this year included sightseeing in Yellowstone Park. I think Logan and Griffin enjoyed it but I was amazed at the frequent evidence of the amazing pent up heat below the surface as evicence by the gysers, mud pots and scalding water pools. Mrs. Wicke grew somewhat annoyed at my frequent use of the term "geothermal" when the children asked questions about these unique features. Well, I just read the following article and must say I feel somewhat relieved that we live almost a thousand miles from Yellowstone... I mean the supervolcano (I apologize for the alarm this may cause members of our family who live just outside the park entrances):

Yellowstone National Park vacation:

"In the 1960s, while studying the volcanic history of Yellowstone National Park, Bob Christiansen of the United States Geological Survey became puzzled about something: ... he couldn't find the park's volcano. ...

"By coincidence just at this time NASA decided to test some new high-altitude cameras by taking photographs of Yellowstone, copies of which some thoughtful official passed on to the park authorities on the assumption that they might make a nice blow-up for one of the visitors' centers. As soon as Christiansen saw the photos he realized why he had failed to spot the [volcano]: virtually the whole park - 2.2 million acres - was [a volcano]. The explosion had left a crater more than forty miles across - much too huge to be perceived from anywhere at ground level. At some time in the past Yellowstone must have blown up with a violence far beyond the scale of anything known to humans.

"Yellowstone, it turns out, is a supervolcano. It sits on top of an enormous hot spot, a reservoir of molten rock that rises from at least 125 miles down in the Earth. The heat from the hot spot is what powers all of Yellowstone's vents, geysers, hot springs, and popping mud pots. ... Imagine a pile of TNT about the size of Rhode Island and reaching eight miles into the sky, to about the height of the highest cirrus clouds, and you have some idea of what visitors to Yellowstone are shuffling around on top of. ...

"Since its first known eruption 16.5 million years ago, [the Yellowstone volcano] has blown up about a hundred times, but the most recent three eruptions are the ones that get written about. The last eruption was a thousand times greater than that of Mount St. Helens; the one before that was 280 times bigger, and the one before was ... at least twenty-five hundred times greater than St. Helens. ...

"The Yellowstone eruption of two million years ago put out enough ash to bury New York State to a depth of sixty-seven feet or California to a depth of twenty. ... All of this was hypothetically interesting until 1973, when ... geologists did a survey and discovered that a large area of the park had developed an ominous bulge. ... The geologists realized that only one thing could cause this - a restless magma chamber. Yellowstone wasn't the site of an ancient supervolcano; it was the site of an active one. It was also at about this time that they were able to work out that the cycle of Yellowstone's eruptions averaged one massive blow every 600,000 years. The last one, interestingly enough, was 630,000 years ago. Yellowstone, it appears, is due."

Bill Bryson, A Short History of Nearly Everything, Broadway, pp. 224-228.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Happy Rosh Hashanah!

I began this blog on Rosh Hashanah of 2008. So it appears as if my blogging aniversary corresponds with the Jewish New Years celebration. While I am not of the lineage of Judah, I am a distant cousin so to speak. So I think it is only family courtesy to honor their holy-days (AKA, "holidays"). There is much about Jewish customs that I value... the Old Testament, for starters.

Rosh Hashanah and the period of time until Yom Kippur represent the holiest period for the people of Judah. It is a time of introspection and "self-repair" where one considers the course and quality of his or her life. It is not simply a period of self-improvement but a time of sober conciliation with God -a time to analyze the course of your life with respect to God's expectations. An ambitious endeavor to be sure!

But wouldn't it be amazing if everyone engaged in such a rigorous spiritual exercise on an annual (perhaps even a weekly) basis? Something to give thought to... So what is the condition of your life? What has been your contribution to the world? Have any changes you need to make? Any relationships you need to repair? No better time than the present because tomorrow is the fist day of a new year of the rest of your life. La chaim and shalom!

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Shame on you Mr. Carter

Certain types of "speech" are so over the line that they are not even protected by the US Constitution. One classic example is a person jokingly or otherwise falsely calling out "FIRE!" in a public place like a movie theater. Such is deemed to be injurious to the public and could literally cause deaths from a resulting stampede toward the exits. Jimmy Carter did a comparable thing when he sunk to the lowest realm of political strategy and public manipulation and called out "RACISM!" He is not alone, it appears that the most effective political and social tool-de-jure is to accuse your opponents of "hate" or "racism".

Now, I am not a human ostrich. I am actually quite well dialed in to the socio-political reality of our time -it is my profession and my area of rational study. I freely admit that there are still some racists BUT on the whole, the vast majority of Americans do not secretly or overtly harbor racist beliefs or participate in such shameful actions. A very wise Black man once explained it this way: there will always be a certain amount of arsenic in water but the amount is so low that our bodies tolerate it and for the most part we function just fine. So there are a handful of wackos who still run around in white robes instead of fitting them to their beds. Most Americans however, do hold very passionate moral and political perspectives. Crazy as some would have you believe, it is altogether possible to differ on moral or political beliefs and not be motivated by deep seeded racist hatred. The individual who accuses of racist motives has the burden of proving that his/her opponents are, in fact, animated by differences based on race rather than on political or moral grounds.

Let us carefully examine Mr. Carter's dangerous and foolhardy accusations:
First he declared, "I think an overwhelming portion of the intensely demonstrated animosity toward President Barack Obama is based on the fact that he is a black man, that he's African-American."
Really? For such a damning statement about the American people (who are rightly engaged in an important political question) you had better have solid evidence and it had better be more than anecdotal. You are the one who said "overwhelming portion". So where is your evidence? Please don't tell me I should rely on the flimsy basis of your judgment, "I think..." I beg your pardon, but you had better be able to state "I know..." before you yell "fire!" in the public square.

At another venue, he went on to explain: "When a radical fringe element of demonstrators and others begin to attack the president of the United States as an animal or as a reincarnation of Adolf Hitler or when they wave signs in the air that said we should have buried Obama with Kennedy, those kinds of things are beyond the bounds."

Yes, if this was a COMMON response by a large number I would be concerned as well... But please show me the examples you identify. Who said these and when? Do you honestly think they represent the view of more than a handful of pathetic sickos who held up those signs or made the verbal epithets? Now, since we are talking about comparing the President to Adolf Hitler or making pretense to his assasination... Yes these have just recently happened but I didn't hear your repulsion and accusation of ugly bias. Where was your condemnation and repudiation that "those kinds of things are beyond the bounds":
But comparisons to Hitler were not enough, how about to Beelzebub himself:
And don't forget the highly acclaimed "documentary" depicting the ficticious assasination of President Bush (made and released while he was still in office)... where was your outrage?

No, it seems like you are the one with a doublestandard based on the color of a man's skin. Shame on you for reducing a rigorous debate over matters of extreme importance (where reason and civility are prerequisites if we are to come to some common good) to a matter of race. You impugn a valid side of the issue over a few isolated reports and seek to use it for political advantage. You have struck a greater blow to the civility of our nation than even these and you know better.