Friday, May 16, 2008

Not Allowed?

In an interview that has been much quoted of late, Barack Obama said " “Over the last 15 months, we've traveled to every corner of the United States. I’ve now been in 57 states, I think, one left to go... Alaska and Hawaii I was not allowed to go to.”
Now, aside from the gaffe about the number of states, which could realistically be a reference to the number of states he has visited during the campaign, (with more than one visit to certain states), rather than a mis-statement of the number of states that there are, this statement contains within it a fine reason not to vote for Mr. Obama.

"I was not allowed to go to. " Think about that. (Aside from the obvious grammatical error.) What position is he running for? The leader of the United States of America. Yet, he allowed his staff to dictate to him whether or not he would campaign in certain states? Who really made that choice? Who has the bottom line in his campaign plan? If he won't accept responsibility for the decision of what states to visit during HIS campaign, what can we expect from him if he gets the office? Who will be telling him what he is allowed to do there?

I understand that, in the past, candidates have considered it too inefficient and expensive to visit Alaska and Hawaii during their campaigns. That is a reasonable demonstration of fiscal restraint and the efficient use of one's resources. This, however has been a year of record breaking campaign fund-raising with Mr. Obama at the top of that heap. If any candidate had the cash to spend on visiting those remote states, it should be him. Even if he didn't favor a trip to Alaska, one might think he would wish to garner the home state sentiments of his birthplace, Hawaii. But he was "not allowed to go".

"Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path." ~ Psalm 119:105

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Happy Mother's Day

"Praise ye the LORD. Praise, O ye servants of the LORD, praise the name of the LORD.
Blessed be the name of the LORD from this time forth and for evermore.
From the rising of the sun unto the going down of the same the LORD's name is to be praised.
The LORD is high above all nations, and his glory above the heavens.
Who is like unto the LORD our God, who dwelleth on high,
Who humbleth himself to behold the things that are in heaven, and in the earth!
He raiseth up the poor out of the dust, and lifteth the needy out of the dunghill;
That he may set him with princes, even with the princes of his people.
He maketh the barren woman to keep house, and to be a joyful mother of children. Praise ye the LORD." ~Psalm 113

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Lack of Leadership or Lack of Practice?

I read a post a while back (Feb. 23rd - titled "Loyalty and leadership") at Vanishing American on leadership and the lack of it in our country. I'm thinking through something here, so please bear with me.

It seems to me that entitlement programs remove the necessity for individual displays of leadership. As a volunteer who teaches leadership I know that leadership is a skill. It can be developed, through training and practice. One of the biggest hurdles is finding an occasion that makes an individual motivated enough to step up to the plate and "do something". That's what almost all of the training is about - providing small opportunities to practice leadership so that when large ones come along, an individual is able to do something with them.

When a government or other entity, takes over those situations in which such a decision would ordinarily take place, then the individual is denied the opportunity to practice leadership. (Along with compassion, planning and the logical thought towards what sort of help would truly engender the best possible outcome that goes along with it.) Not only is the individual denied the opportunity to practice leadership but all those around that individual lose the opportunity to witness it and learn from the demonstration.

It is one thing to be motivated to help out those less fortunate than oneself. It is another to have a government that does it so that you don't have to. The first one is empowering. It lets you know that you make a difference. It allows you to practice those skills that make a leader. The second one is passive and tears down that sense of personal responsibility and spirit of self government that desperately needs building up in our society today.

What is this teaching our children? The opportunities to practice real leadership in the classroom are few and far between. Children used to wander around and make up their own games. How many do that now? How many children actually get an opportunity to be leaders in organized sports? Do they plan the trips? Do they set the lineup of who will play and know the reasoning behind that lineup? Organized team sports are wonderful for encouraging fitness and teaching sportsmanship, but they don't teach leadership except to a few. If we want good leaders, we must provide opportunity and training for our children to become those leaders. We must seek out organzations that are actively teaching it. (See "Where Have All the Adults Gone?" below)

"For I know him, that he will command his children and his household after him, and they shall keep the way of the LORD, to do justice and judgment; that the LORD may bring upon Abraham that which he hath spoken of him.
"~Gen 18:19

Friday, May 2, 2008

Who is doing the wrong thing here?

I had the opportunity the other day to attend a lunch meeting with a representative of AmeriCorps. They are looking for ways to help (legal) immigrants assimilate into the culture here in Northeastern Wisconsin. This meeting was focusing on the Hispanic population and I learned a good deal. Much of it was very positive and dealt with helping people learn to plan for their futures and encouraging their children to aim for college and beyond.

Some of the knowledge was not so welcome. One of the other attendees was a high school teacher for a rural school. She was clearly fully integrated into the "these poor illegals are all victims of our cruel and oppressive system" mode, so I won't go into most of what she said. The part that struck me was relating to the future of the children of illegals. She was incensed that there were no programs for them to get social security numbers. She said these children often don't see any point in graduating from high school or going on to college because without social security numbers they can't get jobs and they can't attend college. (At least not most colleges) Now in my mind, the mind of the presenter and her mind this was linked to the growing gang problems we have been seeing. (Legally unemployable youth who are already criminals by their mere presence here turning to lives of crime? Say it isn't so.)

In her mind, and I suspect the minds of most liberals, this is a great reason to extend amnesty to these children, if not their parents. To my mind, it's a great reason to send them back to their country of origin. Like it or not, actions have consequences. One of the consequences of entering this country illegally is that your children will have no future other than a life of crime. I am not the bad guy for making these children into criminals. Their parents chose to put them in this situation, not me. They are criminals by living here with their parents, and they have nothing to look forward to here but becoming more deeply involved with criminal elements by staying here. By not sending illegals back to their own countries,(and I believe those countries of origin should pay us for their transport, lodging and food on the way), we are forcing these children into a life of crime.

Many of these children are bright and intelligent and deserve better. Think of the impact they could have on their own countries. Having lived here and experienced the values that lead to success, what couldn't they be inspired to do to make their own countries better? We don't have the right to keep them here and force them into a life of crime and neither do their parents. They should be taken back to their own countries. Maybe some of you think that makes me cruel and heartless. I don't. I think adversity builds character and these children will have what it takes to rise above their humble beginnings and make a difference for their own countries, if they get what they need from us. Namely a ticket home.

To those who believe they should be allowed to stay and get a social security number, put your money where your mouth is and sponsor them for legal citizenship. But don't ask me to approve of any plan that strings them along with promises of amnesty at some nebulous time in the future while they are dragged deeper into criminal activity, held hostage by their illegal status. Don't ask me to approve carte blanche citizenship for people who are providing fertile ground (their children) for gang related and other criminal activities by their willingness to put personal profit above personal responsibility. And please, don't tell me I should be helping people who would put their children into such a situation either. This is not making a better life for your family, it is plunging your family into a pit from which they may never climb out.

I believe that if you want to come here and work your tail off to send money home, then your first priority should be to make enough money to get yourself here legally, as a citizen. This is the country that is giving you the opportunity to help your relatives back in the old country. This is the country that is providing you with such freedom. If you are unwilling to work to make your own country into a place that gives you such opportunities, then don't expect me to welcome you with open arms unless you want to become a responsible, contributing, citizen here.

"It were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and he cast into the sea, than that he should offend one of these little ones." ~ Luke 17:2