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Thursday, February 21, 2013

Sequester

Now that the president has had his turn with the scare tactics about the so-called cuts to go into effect in a week or so, it's only fair that I have my turn with some facts.

The "cuts" don't actually mean a cut in present spending.  They are merely a cut in the amount of spending or growth in the future.  Therefore, unless a government is trying to make a point, there will be no mass layoffs.  Possibly, there will not be as much hiring in the next few years.

Social security recipients will not have their checks reduced, there may not be any increases for the next few years.

There will still be as many food inspectors and air traffic controllers the day after the sequester "cuts" go into effect.  There will just be no big hiring push.

So, before you panic and give into the fear mongering, stop and think.  Just what will these "cuts" really mean?

Also, to all those people who have bought into the president's claim that these "cuts" are wrong and dangerous, this whole idea of sequester was introduced and approved of when "budget cuts" were necessary to his campaign, by the very same president who is now condemning them as dangerous.

Monday, February 18, 2013

A Mistake

Have you ever made a mistake that you didn't even realize you made and that turned out to be something great?

This past Christmas season I was checking out some books and my son's wish list on Amazon.  Somehow, while I was in the wish list section, I added two books to my wish list that I didn't even know I had.  My son took the opportunity to arrange for me to receive these books on my Kindle and I'm so glad he did.

This week I started reading the first, The Book of Mychal by Michael Daly.  It's the story of Father Mychal Judge, the FDNY Chaplain, who died when the World Trade Center was attacked and fell.  This book follows Father Judge's life from childhood to the end.  I'm about 2/3's of the way through.

I have spent most of yesterday and today reading.  I usually can't sit still more than an hour when reading, but today I did.  I even ignored an NCIS marathon with Mark Harmon and David McCallum, this book is so good.

Father Judge spent his days saying Mass, ministering to AIDS patients, counseling those struggling with addiction.  No matter the time of day, he would answer a page to console firemen and families when one had been injured or killed in a fire.  He would visit the hospital, counsel and console the family until the fireman either recovered or died.  He would then say the funeral Mass if the deceased was Catholic, or just offer whatever support he could.

There were days when he would return to his home at 2 or 3 in the morning, check messages, pray and go to sleep only to get up in time to say Mass at 7:30 AM.  And, he was not a young man.  I wish I had his energy.

As a New Yorker, there are stories that I remember - the crash of TWA Flight 800, the deaths of three fireman that resulted in the city's providing special protective gear for the department.

Unfortunately, I know how this story ends - the horrific attack on my city on September 11, 2001.  All through the book, Mr. Daly mentions firemen who were friends of Father Judge who also died on that day.

He also mentions some of the good stories of NY - Stephen McDonald who was shot by a young boy.  Mr. McDonald had been married a short time and his wife was pregnant with their child when he was shot, that's not the good story.  Mr. McDonald is now in a wheelchair and breaths with the help of a portable respirator, but  Mr. McDonald forgave the shooter.

I could say more about this book,  but I want to get back to reading.  I would recommend this to anyone who is interested in reading about real people, people who make a difference, people who care.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Confusion

 
 
 
I'm sure, by now, everyone has heard about the big blizzard in the northeast.  Some were hit really hard by the storm, but in my little corner of the world, there wasn't much.  And what little there was is almost gone, thanks to the rain and higher temperatures.
 
 

Of course, the higher temperatures have caused other problems.  The bulbs that are supposed to come up and bloom in the spring have gotten confused by the 50 degree temps.  This is what I saw in the front of my house this afternoon.


The hyacinths are trying to come up.  Don't they know it's still winter, and February to boot.  The weather in February is so unpredictable, we may have another freeze.  I wonder what will happen to my garden then.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

What Changed?

During the Bush Administration, there was a huge outcry about the administration's plans to wiretap the phones of suspected terrorists living in the states who made overseas calls.  The media and liberals (sorry, that's redundant) complained about an invasion of privacy, a violation of due process, etc.  They also complained about the use of waterboarding and enhanced interrogation.

Fast forward to the next administration.  Now, it is OK to send a drone to kill American citizens living abroad if there is an imminent threat, the target has engaged in terrorist activities and the target has to be unable to be captured, even is there is no intelligence pointing to an active plot against America. 

This leads to several questions.  Who can decide if a citizen is an imminent threat to our country?  Would this be a unilateral decision?  Would congress have some input into the decisioin?  What constitutes a threat if there is no intelligence pointing to an active plot?

Why is this OK, not a violation of the right to a trial and wiretapping is an invation of privacy?

Why is waterboarding with the intent to get information so wrong, but killing a suspect without having received any threat perfectly OK?

Where will this stop?  When will these drones be used against American citizens here in our own country?  Will they be used against those practicing their right to free speech?

WHERE WILL IT ALL END?  BE AFRAID, BE VERY AFRAID.