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Wednesday Quotable

America is a land of taxation that was founded to avoid taxation.  ~Laurence J. Peter

Obviously Peter knew what he was talking about. Originally, we revolted from England because of taxation without representation, but taxation with representation ain’t so hot either.

As a political conservative, it burns me to see big pro-tax liberals like the former Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle who pushes for higher taxes for the rich yet he tries to avoid paying the taxes he is legally required (to the tune of $150,000). President Barack Obama said that he fully supported Daschle, that he is a good man who made a simple honest mistake and corrected it. One issue is that Daschle did not pay the back taxes and penalties until he was nominated for Obama’s cabinet yet he knew about it since July of 2008. Another issue is that any other normal citizen would have been prosecuted for tax evasion for an “honest mistake” of this size. The truth of it all is that the federal government owes an apology to Al Capone for being mistreated.

Well shoot, maybe he would have qualified under the Obama administration as a Secretary of Health and Human Services, or maybe the Secretary of the Treasury, or possibly the Performance Czar.

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Wednesday Quotable

For the last 8 years, save a short period after 9/11, this nation has been in constant division and disunity. The nation has been torn by ideological divides on issues of foreign policy, social security, and economic/tax policy. The nation has spoken, and though I believe they have been misinformed by the mainstream media (who have done us a great disservice by investigating the lives of private citizens like “Joe the Plumber” more than the Democratic nominee for POTUS), their voice has been heard loud and clear. Abraham Lincoln quoted Matthew 12:25 in his call for unity and freedom in the Emancipation Proclamation. My new president (elect) Barack Obama will be faced with huge challenges. I will pray for God’s grace and wisdom as he leads our country through difficult times. If he fails to make good and wise decisions, I fail. If he succeeds in leading this nation in the right direction, I succeed. Therefore, now is the time to stand together in unity.

A house divided against itself cannot stand.
-Abraham Lincoln

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Wednesday Quotable

I love my country, and I pray for her leaders, even those with whom I disagree. May God continue to bless her, guide her, and protect her. I pray that we as a nation will humble ourselves. I pray that we will recognize the tragedy that is abortion, and remove the plank from our own eye before we try to pluck the splinter out of others’ eyes.

A man’s country is not a certain area of land, of mountains, rivers, and woods, but it is a principle; and patriotism is loyalty to that principle.
~George William Curtis

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Chinese Thought Roll

-The Chinese are really cleaning up this Olympics in gold medals. As of this morning, they had the most at 45 compared to 27 for 2nd place USA.

-Of the 45 gold medals for China, 17 were from events that are purely subjective in judging (between diving and gymnastics). Only 1 came from a race (a female swimmer won the 200 meter butterfly). The overwhelming majority of the rest of the gold medals came from sports like Judo, Ping Pong, and Badmitten. The Chinese have no track and field golds, but their women have done quite well in weight lifting.

-Of the 27 US gold medals, only 2 were for purely subjective events (both Johnson and Liukin won golds in gymnastics), one other bogus sport win (equestrian), and the majority of golds come from races in swimming and track and field.

-The Bolt struck again yesterday, this time in a way that was mind blowing. Bolt shattered the field in the 200 meter sprint becoming the 1st since Carl Lewis in 84 to double in the 100 and 200. What’s more, he broke the world record set by America’s Michael Johnson in 96, a record that many people said would never be broken. He won the race by over half a second, unheard of in the 200 meter sprint, and he did it against a slight head wind. Between Phelps and Usain Bolt, this has been an unbelievable Olypiad.

-The USA is rolling in basketball, looking almost untouchable. Because of the tournament format, however, it only takes one slip up to make this “redeem team” a nightmare. The good thing about the USA’s basketball team and dominance in this year’s Olympics is the class and style with which they are winning. No more showboating swagger for us. We have been humbled by FIBA. It’s not the same as the game we play here in the US.

-On the political front, Obama is suffering the consequences of his overly measured and wishy washy answers at the Saddleback forum hosted by Rick Warren. Obama has gone from a lead of 7 points in July to a 5 point deficit now. McCain’s from-the-heart straight talk answers scored in a big way with America.

-Just to be clear, national polls are not as significant as the battleground polls which measure the most likely voters in the states that will decide the election. As of now, McCain has a growing electoral advantage, and things are not looking good for Obama. Good news for the US is bad news for the Democrats.

-If you haven’t seen the movie “The Great Debaters”, go out and rent it or buy it. What an amazing true story of hard work, dedication, and inspiration.

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Olympic Ruminations

  1. The USA continues to get ripped off by incompetent judges. This further demonstrates why gymnastics, while highly impressive and entertaining, is not a sport. It is an exhibition of talent, strength, and skills that is quite remarkable. Nastia Liukin performed her uneven bar routine with fewer deductible mistakes than He Kexin (Chinese winner), yet Kexin won the event. To make it worse, there was not a single judge from a country who has an Olympic gymnastics medal. And to add insult to injury, the gold medal winning Chinese did not win with a higher score. She won on with a tie score, of which the tie-breaking system, according to Bob Costas and Béla Károlyi is an arbitrary system giving even more power to fewer judges. This seems like a recipe for fraud. This is the second US girl who has fallen victim to judging “mistakes” with the Chinese benefiting in both occasions.
  2. Shawn Johnson finally won gold in Beijing. She does it on seemingly the most difficult piece of equipment. The balance beam is so difficult because many times they are landing on the beam totally blind. I don’t know how they do it. Nastia Liukin continues her run of medals (which should be two golds instead of one) with a silver as America once again goes one and two.
  3. People criticizing Usain Bolt need to back off. This 21 year-old Jamaican athlete is downright amazing and deserves to be a little exuberant. It’s amazing in several ways. First, it’s amazing that a 6’5″ sprinter can run the 100 meters so fast. They say the shorter and more compact runners have an advantage in the sprints due to the quick strides. Bolt is built like a basketball player. Second, he won the gold in the 100 meter (check out this video) after he shut his run down with 25 meters to go. He jogged the last 25 meters people! And he still won the race with total ease. There is something to be said for guys who quietly celebrate inside while maintaining a calm exterior, but come on! This kid just won a gold medal and is the fastest person known in the history of mankind. Give him a break.

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It’s not a sport!

Why isn’t there Olympic singing, Olympic painting, Olympic stand up comedy, or Olympic ballroom dancing? We might as well add these and many other events to the Olympics to complement synchronized swimming, diving, artistic gymnastics, figure skating, ski jumping, ice dancing, and all the other exhibitions in which winners are determined on the basis of artistic impression and a judge’s opinion. In past Olympics, it has been proven that judges have been taking money to ensure certain competitors receive favorable scores. Last night, a Chinese gymnast beat the American on the vault for a Bronze even though the Chinese contestant fell and the American girl did not. In what should have been a major deduction for the fall, along with another deduction for improperly executing the vault, points mysteriously were NOT taken off.

Don’t get me wrong. I appreciate watching the gymnastic events. My beef is that these exhibitions are placed on the same level with track and field events like the marathon which test the heart of an athlete, the 100 meter sprint which measures raw speed, shot put showing pure power, and on the level with the swimming races in which there is a measurable specific objective, and so the list goes on.

If it’s about what people enjoy watching, then we need to have a format like “Dancing With The Stars” and allow us to see tuxedoed men and gowned women demonstrating their talents while competing for gold. What is the difference?

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Wednesday Quotable

I always thought, it would be neat to make the Olympic team.
-Michael Phelps

While this incredible young man is right on target with his quote, I believe that perspective is everything. Yes, it would be “neat” to make the Olympic team, but why settle for neat when you can accomplish greatness?

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Did you see the Men’s 4×100?

I tuned in to watch some Olympic competition last night.  Michael Phelps was going for his second gold medal out of his attempted record-breaking 8 golds.  His attempt to surpass Mark Spitz record of 7 gold medals which have stood since 1972 started out well when he won the 400 meter individual medley.  Of all his 8 attempts, the 400 IM and the 4×100 relays were considered the most unlikely.

The French were highly favored to win this 4×100, and they were very arrogant.  Alain Bernard, a member of the French relay team even stated that they were going to “smash” the Americans.  Well, what happened was beautiful!  Phelps opened the relay with the first leg.  He didn’t give us the lead, but he did well.  Garrett Weber-Gale over the next 100 M put us in a good position to win, then Cullen Jones let things start slipping away in the third leg.  When Jason Lezak took the fourth leg, I felt our chances slipping.  Alain Bernard was the French anchor who has so arrogantly stated that the French would “smash” us.  He was also one of the “no weak links” French relay members who were turning in lightning fast splits for the past several months.  As they reached the turn at 50 meters, the lead was more than half a body length.  Lezak was just too far back.  I told my wife the race was over.  The commentator said that the US was trying to hold on for a silver with the Aussies pursuing.  Then with about 35 meters left, something happened.  The commentator said something to the effect of “Lezak is making a run” and I told Marcela he was just hyping it up.  Lezak really did start tightening up on the leader.  With 20 meters left, he was within one arm’s length.  “There isn’t enough left, it’s over,” I told Marcela.  5 meters left and he is moving up fast!  He draws even at the last two strokes and stretches….

UNBELIEVABLE!  How did that happen?  The French look like someone just beat them up and stole their croissants.  I don’t believe what I just saw.  Phelps is flexing and going crazy, Weber-Gale is trying to upstage Phelps flexing in front of him, everyone is hugging, and Lezak just turned in the fastest split in Olympic 4×100 history!  For me, that was the most exciting swimming event I have ever seen.  It is up there as the greatest Olympic moment I have watched.

Phelps is now 2 for 2, with only 6 more gold medals to go.

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The Olympics in Red China

What to do? In 1980, President Carter told the world that the USA along with 50-60 other nations would not participate in the Games of the XXII Olympiad which were being held in a communist dictatorship in Moscow, USSR. The USSR had a history of harsh prison sentences, a lack of property rights or individual and civil liberties, and the occasional torture and execution to boot. They were also involved in an illegal war in Afghanistan. Though it was and still is a controversial decision, I believe Carter did the right thing. We would not lend credence to a government that oppressed so many people in the name of political ideology (a veiled power grab, truth be known).

Here we are, 28 years later and the Olympics are once again being held in a totalitarian communist nation. With news reports that dissidents are being jailed to prevent them from being seen protesting and making trouble on the world stage while so many nations will have cameras on them, and other news stories stating that China is restricting internet access from their people and outside news agencies, I ask: Should we be there?

From the above linked Washington Post article on dissidents being jailed:

The crackdown comes seven years after the secretary general of the Beijing Olympic Bid Committee declared that staging the Games in the Chinese capital would “not only promote our economy but also enhance all social conditions, including education, health and human rights.”

Now, human rights have been set back rather than enhanced, activists say.

“The Olympics have reversed the clock,” said Nicholas Bequelin, a Hong Kong-based specialist for Human Rights in China.

Another foreign human rights advocacy group, Amnesty International, came to a similar conclusion in a report issued Monday titled “The Olympics Countdown — Broken Promises.

I really love the Olympic games. It’s great to see the spirit of competition and cooperation. You may ask, “How can we punish the athletes who are not political? How can we punish the other nations of the world and millions of proud patriotic fans by withdrawing our support?” It’s a tough pill to swallow. Someone has to pay for this atrocity that is having the olympics in an oppressive communist nation.

“Show them the spirit of freedom, open their eyes to the greatness of our free system and they will embrace and emulate us!” you say? Isn’t that like seeing someone mugged and instead of coming to the aid and defense of the innocent, we look at the attacker, walk over and hug someone and say “this is how you should treat other people”. I say we should do more than model good behavior; we should combine the modeling of good behavior with the fight against bad behavior.

I will watch and pull for the US in the Olympics this Summer. I hope we clean up in medals and especially beat the snot out of the host country. But if I had my choice, I would have preferred that the USA boycott these Olympic games and let the IOC be on notice that the world’s greatest nation will not participate in validating China’s oppressive regime.

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Saturday Top 5: Significant Speeches in American History

America is a great country, blessed by God and founded on the biblical principles that all men are created equal. In the history and even before the founding of this nation, the spoken word of individuals has moved the hearts and emotions of the people to stand together and do what is right. Today, I will provide you with a list of what I consider 5 of the most significant speeches in American history. Whether they brought us together after disaster, stirred us to stand together in arms, or activated the conscience of us to fight tyranny, they all had a significant impact on the direction of our nation and even the world.

Worthy of mention:

Ronald Reagan – Challenger disaster speech.

John F. Kennedy – Inaugural address. “Ask not what your country can do for you.” (Video)

#5(tie) Dwight D. Eisenhower – Farewell speech. “Military industrial complex.” (video) One of the most loved and popular presidents in American history warned us in his farewell speech of the growing military industrial complex. WWII was still in our recent memory, and President Eisenhower understood the importance of freedom from the gigantic machine that was the military bureaucracy. Having served as the commanding general during WWII, Eisenhower (I believe) understood the military to be necessary for defense from threats outside, but that unchecked would become a type of threat of its own.

#5(tie) Franklin Delano Roosevelt – Pearl Harbor Speech. “a date which will live in infamy,” (Text) (Audio track with video) According to several sources, this speech was significant only in that it is so quotable, and they may very well be right. Even in FDR’s speech, he states that he would like the declaration of war to be retroactive. In other words, his speech was symbolic serving only: to declare to the world that we(USA) are all in, Japan is (was) going to pay for what they had done, and also to unite America in the cause. The effect it has had is debatable, because the attacks did enough to unite the people.

#4 Ronald Reagan – Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall (Video). His advisers told him that he should not speak in such harsh terms to the Soviet Union. It is true that the Soviet Union was already creaking under the pressure of the failed communist system, but this bold declaration in front of the whole world that you cannot speak of freedom and reforms while doing nothing about it caused the rapid acceleration of the collapse. This speech and the resulting destruction of the Berlin Wall with the fall of Soviet Communism was one of the most significant world events of my lifetime.

#3 Martin Luther King – I have a dream! (video). Rated as the most significant American speech of the 20th century, “I Have a Dream” stands today as inspiration for a better America. Though I don’t believe we have fully accomplished the objectives set forth by MLK, we have come further and faster toward racial harmony than perhaps any other nation in the worlds history. Dr. King’s goal was that man was to be judged by the content of his character, not the color of his skin. Some of the “reforms” in place which are in the name of racial equality seem to set us back. Dr. King’s speech will inspire for years to come.

#2 Abraham Lincoln – Gettysburg Address. (Text) (Video) The town of Gettysburg, PA was actually smaller in population than the number of dead soldiers whose bodies were rotting on the battlefield. At this point in the war, the Union States were growing solidly anti-war and were also growing in opposition to Lincoln. Lincoln’s advisers told him that if the election were to be held at that time, he would certainly lose and the Union would accept the south’s right to secede. Lincoln was an afterthought, only filling a ceremonial role for the event which featured a 2 hour speech by the keynote speaker. Lincoln’s roughly 2 minute 30 second speech refocused the Union’s resolve to fighting and winning the war. The rest is of course history. We know the USA as one nation under God, as Lincoln spoke of it in that speech.

#1 Patrick Henry – Give me liberty or give me death! (Text) (Video). Henry rallied the Virginia Commonwealth which was the largest of the colonies to join with the federation in declaring independence from Britain. Had it not been for his inspiration, would we have had a USA?

Feel free to add to the list of notable speeches in American history. I am not an expert, though I play one on the internet. So if you feel I mistaken in my list or analysis, chime in.

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