« April 2009 | Main | June 2009 »

Friday, May 29, 2009

Response to E-mail Forward of Tea Party Speech

Last week, I got an e-mail forward of a transcript of a Tea Party speech. The person forwarding it to me asked for comments, so I spent some time writing a response. A slightly modified version of that response is presented below. Everything from the original e-mail is indented in blockquotes, and my comments are interspersed throughout. His speach was too long to respond to every single point, but I did respond to quite a bit of it. I tried to clean up the formatting and weird characters from the e-mail forward, and apologize if I made any mistakes.


Dr. Donald May's Tea Party Speech in Lubbock , TX

AT THE TEA PARTY, a black man, Dr. Donald May delivered this message from the courthouse steps in Lubbock. He electrified the audience like I haven't seen in a long time. His delivery was masterful. I am sorry you could not see him in action. Anyway, I thought you might enjoy his words. The news media were there, but not one word of this man’s appearance ever appeared on TV or in print, even though he completely dominated the scene.

No comment, other than wondering why whoever wrote the e-mail thought the man's skin color was relevant to the story. It's about like reporting the color shoes he was wearing.

This is A Time For Courage April 15, 2009 - 11:49 pm


"Ladies and gentlemen, This is a time for courage.

"We are gathered here today on the Plains of West Texas in common purpose. We are here to remind our government that this is our country, We the People are still in charge, and our government is still our servant and not our master.

I agree - there's a reason they're called public servants. It's also why I don't like hearing presidents referred to as the leader of the free world. The president is merely the head of one branch of government.

"Our Nation’s founding document is The Declaration of Independence. It tells us that our rights come from God and not from a small group of elite men and women.

No - the Declaration of Independence was a declaration of war against the British, and carries no weight in current U.S. law. The Constitution is the founding document of our current government, and the Constitution makes no mention at all of any god. Additionally, the actual wording in the Declaration is "...that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights..." Many of the founding fathers, including the Declaration's author, Jefferson, were either deists or Unitarians. Their views on religion were decidedly different from what's considered orthodox (for example, believing that Jesus was merely an inspirational teacher, and neither a miracle worker nor the son of God). So, they may have believed that rights came from a creator, but their idea of the creator wasn't the same as what most Christians think. (http://www.earlyamericanhistory.net/founding_fathers.htm)

"Our Constitution starts with the words “We the People." Our Constitution was written for ordinary Americans like you and me. Our Constitution protects us from our government and from the politicians.

I like the Constitution. It's a good document, and has served our country well. But you can't rewrite history. It was written for white males. It was only later amendments that made it fully applicable to all races and to women. Other than that, yes, the Constitution does help protect us from the government.

"Our President has complained that our Constitution gives ordinary people too much protection. He has ridiculed us for the high value we place on our Bibles, our guns, our personal property, and our liberty. He tells us we do not deserve to keep the money we have earned. We are told freedom has not worked. Personal responsibility, free enterprise, and Liberty have not been effective. Our government will now make more of our decisions for us. Other than our military, I can think of not one government agency I have ever found to be helpful.

I know I don't follow current events and politics as much as I should, but I haven't heard of Obama ridiculing those things. After a little Google searching, all the complaints I've found of Obama ridiculing the Bible are directed at his 'Call to Renewal' Keynote Address from 2006 (http://www.citizenlink.org/pdfs/06-24-08-obama-call-to-renewal.pdf), and only a small portion of it, at that. After reading the speech, and the section where he discusses Bible verses, it doesn't seem like ridicule at all - merely pointing out the problems of trying to use the Bible as the basis for laws in a pluralistic society. After all, Obama is Christian and takes the Bible pretty seriously himself.

The one area where I do agree with May (although I don't know if Obama has used ridicule here), is that Obama does support gun control. He does seem to be further left on that issue than most. However, he's not so extreme that he's going to veto the recently passed bill on credit card reform because of the added provision to allow loaded hand guns in national parks.

I find it surprising that May doesn't like any government agencies besides the military. Personally, I kind of like the Interstate Highway System. I also think NASA does some pretty good things, not to mention the FDA and EPA. The National Park system is pretty nice. On the local level, I'm glad we have police and fire departments. Really, there are a lot of government agencies that I think do a fine job. It's only the ones that screw up that make the headlines. And, like I mentioned the other day, I think a lot of why the government looks bad compared to private business is because the government has to be open about their spending. When big corporations waste money, they don't report it.

And regarding the military, now that I've lived in a town where a significant proportion of the population is affiliated with a military base, and I've heard the stories of what goes on, I'd hardly call the military an ideal organization. There's plenty of waste, politics, cover up, and all the other negatives you'd expect from a large bureaucracy.

"And speaking of our military, how about those Navy Seals blowing the heads off those three terrorist pirates? Don’t you just wish our entire government would function with such efficiency, professionalism, and courage? We watch in disbelief as our beloved United States is weakened economically, militarily, and morally by a radical President and his eager accomplices... What has taken generations to build is systematically destroyed and replaced with the same Socialist evil that brought poverty, destruction, and despair to untold hundreds of millions.

Regarding his comment on the Navy Seals - they're a small, elite group. It would be very difficult to run the entire government as efficiently as special forces. That's why Lockheed has the Skunk Works, Boeing has the Phantom Works, and why small companies in general can do things that big companies can't.

Obama may be left of George Bush, but I'd hardly call him a radical.

"The problems we face today have occurred because we have not defended our Nation from Socialism. For too long we have allowed the wrong people to make the worst possible decisions. The Bible warns us of class hatred. The radical leadership of our government daily fans the evil flames of class envy. Our European and Canadian friends beg us to not make the same Socialist mistakes they did. The President of the European Union warned our President that his Socialist economic plans are taking the world down the “road to Hell.”

I guess May is referring to the stimulus package here, since that's what Topolanek was referring to in his "road to Hell" statement (http://www.nytimes.com/2009/03/26/world/europe/26czech.html?_r=1). However, Topolanek was hardly speaking for all of Europe - no more so than thinking that Obama or Bush speak/spoke for all U.S. citizens. At the time Topolanek made the statement, the UK was pushing for increased government spending, while Germany and France opposed further increases. Many European leaders were not happy with him for making that particular statement.

I'll admit - economics is not my strong point, but looking back at the Great Depression, it seems like some amount of government spending does help to pull a country out of a recession/depression. Hoover tried to keep a balanced budget, and didn't do much to help the country out of the Depression. FDR had his New Deal, which seemed to ease economic problems a bit, but still didn't pull us out of the Depression. Then we entered WWII, and had a huge increase in government spending (and from a long term point of view, there's not much more useless spending than military equipment that doesn't build your nation's infrastructure and that's going to be sent to the scrap yard as soon as the war is over), and finally got out of the Depression. How much of that was psychological vs. government spending, I'm not sure, but the government spending certainly didn't seem to hurt.

If May was referring to something other than the stimulus packages, the policy I've personally heard referred to as socialism the most often is universal health care. I don't understand why everyone is so against it. Compared to industrialized nations with universal health care, the U.S. spends about twice the amount on health care (from either a per capita or GDP basis), but our quality of care isn't any better and we have less access to physicians (http://scienceblogs.com/denialism/2009/05/are_patients_in_universal_heal.php). Either socialism isn't all that bad, or pundits are throwing around the term where it doesn't apply.

"The path to power for Socialists includes taking God and guns from the citizens. Without spiritual and physical protection, people cannot defend themselves and their liberty. They soon become slaves. We are angered that our President apologizes for the exceptionalism and heroism of the United States of America . We are deeply troubled he told others the United States is not a Christian nation. We are angered that we have been called cowards and racists because we oppose Socialism. Socialism is not racial. Socialism is an equal opportunity destroyer. We are angered that a recent Department of Homeland Security report has singled out our military men and women who are returning home as being radical threats. The report also characterizes you and me as right-wing extremists and radicals because we favor smaller government and lower taxes.

Again, I'm not convinced Obama is a socialist, but ignoring that, how does socialism have anything to do with religion or guns? It's an economic policy. (Citing the U.S.S.R. would be about like citing pre-Civil War U.S. society to say that capitalism leads to slavery.)

If May is upset that someone doesn't consider the U.S. a Christian nation, he would have been furious at our second president, John Adams, and the entire U.S. Senate from 1797. The Treaty of Tripoli, read aloud to the Senate (it was only a couple pages) and approved unanimously, contained the following statement, "As the government of the United States of America is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian Religion..." (http://www.stephenjaygould.org/ctrl/buckner_tripoli.html). The Senate made a point to record the vote, and Adams issued the statement, "Now be it known, That I John Adams, President of the United States of America, having seen and considered the said Treaty do, by and with the advice and consent of the Senate, accept, ratify, and confirm the same, and every clause and article thereof. And to the End that the said Treaty may be observed and performed with good Faith on the part of the United States, I have ordered the premises to be made public; And I do hereby enjoin and require all persons bearing office civil or military within the United States, and all other citizens or inhabitants thereof, faithfully to observe and fulfill the said Treaty and every clause and article thereof." [emphasis mine]

"You and I are average citizens who believe just like most of our fellow Americans. We want our government to leave us alone and to keep its hands off our money, our religion, or guns, our private property, and our lives. We demand that our government stop spending money it does not have.

I mostly agree with that (I do recognize that the government's going to get some amount of my money as taxes to support public services). In regard to the deficit spending part, at least, it would be nice to have a return to the Clinton era - the last time the federal government had a balanced budget. On the other hand, I don't know enough about economics to know if Keynes was right about how to get out of a depression.

"Stop confiscating our money and private property.

"Stop printing money.

"Stop subsidizing Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, and the other failed financial institutions and companies.

"Mr. President, stop appointing tax cheats to positions of power and influence.

"Mr. President, secure our borders.

"Mr. President, do not divert money from our missile defense, F-22 Raptors, and other vital military equipment. This gives encouragement, aid, and comfort to our enemies. Protecting us is your number one job.

Nothing really to disagree with here (except again - I don't know enough about economics to comment on Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, or the bailouts). I do find it a bit ironic that someone who wants small government and limited spending wants a big military, though May did already say that the military was the only government agency he liked.

"Mr. President, do not give voting rights to millions of illegal aliens and felons. You have no more right to create new voters for your benefit than you do to use our money to buy the 2010 and 2012 Elections.

Nothing to disagree with here, either, but it seems like a straw man. I've never heard of Obama pushing for giving voting rights to illegal immigrants or felons - easier paths to legalization for immigrants, possibly, but not voting rights for non-citizens.

"We gather peacefully here today because there is a growing concern for what our government is doing to us and to our future. We fear for the very survival of our Republic. Yet there is much to make us hopeful and to fill our hearts with optimism and courage. This is still our country! The Constitution of the Unites States belongs to We the People. Our Constitution still protects us from our government.

Nothing to disagree with here, either, except possibly the extreme rhetoric ("We fear for the very survival of our Republic." Really?)

"Call every possible elected official, including our President, Vice President, and the Speaker of the House. Demand that they stop stealing our money and giving it to ACORN and their other political supporters in order to buy votes. Call Senators Cornyn and Hutchison, and (your) Representative. Thank them. Urge them to do much more. Remind them now is a time for action and not for campaigning.

I've never understood conservative's big problem with ACORN. It's an organization that mainly just tries to get people to register to vote. Sure, their organization was taken advantage of by a few unscrupulous employees who wanted to get paid without actually going door to door, but as a whole, they don't seem to be some malicious organization trying to engage in any widespread deception or illegal activity (http://www.factcheck.org/elections-2008/the_whoppers_of_2008_--_the_sequel.html). Is there something about ACORN that I don't know about?

"Volunteer to work on our 2010 Census. Confront ACORN. Keep our Census honest. We must not allow our President to take control of our Census for his political advantage.

Again, this seems like a straw man. ACORN isn't trying to cheat the census (as far as I know), and I've never heard of Obama trying to do anything to cheat on the census.

"We must replace as much of our far left Congress as possible in 2010. Get involved... Do not let ACORN control our 2010 Election.

Far left? The House just recently passed the credit card reform bill with an added provision allowing people to carry loaded guns in National Parks. That seems pretty moderate to me. The Green Party is left. Communist Party USA is far left. Freedom Socialist Party / Radical Women is far left. The Party for Socialism and Liberation is far left. Socialist Action is far left. Most Democrats - not so much. (http://www.politics1.com/parties.htm)

"Talk with someone every day who does not understand our nation’s history and our great heritage. Tell them why the United States is a good and prosperous nation. It still remains that brightly lit city on the hill... It still is the best hope for all mankind.

"Brightly lit city on the hill?" Check out the following page:

Ignore all the religious interpretation, and just scroll down to the figures at the bottom (you have to click on the links to see each figure). As far as murders/100,000 people, under-five mortality/1000 births, life expectancy, 15-19 year old gonorrhea infections/100,000 people, 15-19 year old syphilis infections/100,000 people, 15-19 year old abortions/1000 people, and 15-17 year old births & pregnancies/1000 people, the U.S. is worse off than almost every other prosperous democracy. Portugal is worse off than us in under-five mortality; Portugal, Italy, and Denmark are worse than us in life expectancy; and we're middle of the road in 15-24 year old suicides/100,000 people; but in all other measures in the study the U.S. was the worst. We may still be seen as the land of opportunity, but we definitely have some major problems.

"Talk with all of the young people you can find. They are our future. Many do not understand what they have and that their future is being destroyed.

I agree that education is very important. I'm always shocked by the ignorance of our citizens.

"Encourage your elected State officials to pass legislation that will protect us from our Federal government. Governor Rick Perry and others are doing that right now for Texas . Thank them and pray for them.

I do think the federal government has too much power right now (consider how the EPA wouldn't allow California to set their own emissions standards that were stricter than federal standards - http://www.nytimes.com/2007/12/19/washington/20epa-web.html), but I don't think it's as big of a problem as some people make it out to be. We live in different times than when the nation was founded, and a strong federal government seems more advantageous now than it would have to an agrarian society. That said, I do think the executive branch in particular has too much power, and I'd like to see the legislative and judicial branches get some of their power back.

"This is a time for strong peaceful action. Let us pray that We the People can quickly return our government to its Constitutional responsibilities. Our President and Congress were elected to be our servants and not our masters...

Again, I agree. I think the executvie branch in particular has too much power. The ACLU has a list of the 10 most egregious abuses of power since 9/11, and I would love to see reforms to where things like that can't happen again (http://www.aclu.org/safefree/general/26684res20060906.html). The executive branch should not be able to claim 'executive privilege' or 'national security' to avoid following the laws of the land.

"May God help our President and Congress to quickly realize the error of their ways and stop their reckless and unwarranted spending, cut our taxes, and reduce the size of our Federal bureaucracy. If they do not, may God grant us the courage and determination to vote them out of power next year.

Even if I did think the current government needed to be voted out - who's the alternative? We just got through 6 years of a Republican dominated federal government (both executive and legislative), followed by 2 years of a Republican executive. I didn't see fiscal responsibility during those years. We went from a budget surplus under Clinton to deficit spending under Bush. Perhaps May is a Libertarian, but I don't think there's much chance for a Libertarian dominated government anytime soon.

"May God richly bless and protect each of you, and our Constitution, as together we pursue Liberty !" Delivered at the Lubbock , Texas , TEA Party

by Dr. Donald May

Tax Day, 15 April 2009

Anyway, those are my comments. In general, other than the platitudes, I don't agree with most of what May said. I've admitted that economics is not my strong suit, but considering how erroneous May was in the areas I do know about, I'm not sure how much to trust him in other areas. I do agree with him, however, that the executive branch has too much power, and that not enough people see government as public servants.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Website Update - Revised Tutorial for X-Plane, UDP, and Visual Basic, for X-Plane version 9

Just a real quick entry - I've updated my tutorial for X-Plane, UDP, and Visual Basic, for X-Plane version 9. There are a few changes between versions 8 and 9 of X-Plane that affect network communications such that methods in the old tutorial wouldn't work anymore. Hopefully this new tutorial will help at least a few people.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

New Comment on Evolution & Religion

Well, I didn't write any real entries this week. I did the same thing that I've already done a few times - somebody wrote a comment on one of my blog entries, and I spent all week writing them a response. Anyway, some people may find it interesting, so you can go read it in the comment section of Book Review - Evolution: What the Fossils Say and Why It Matters.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Carter Wind Energy

Carter 300 Wind TurbineI just wanted to make a short post to advertise a new website, Carter Wind Energy. If the name sounds familiar to anybody who knows me, it should. The Carter family has been involved in wind turbines for quite a while, now. Jay Carter, Sr. has been making turbines for decades, and still has his company, Wind Eagle Turbines. Jay Carter, Jr. struck out on his own to make larger turbines with Carter Wind Systems in the 70s, which he later sold before starting Carter Aviation Technologies. Now, Matt Carter is trying to get into the business with Carter Wind Energy (he's targeting a different niche than Wind Eagle Turbines, so he's not competing with Jay Carter, Sr.) He's been working on the project for a while, now, but just recently asked me to create the website. (I've done a little analysis for him, as well, but haven't had the time to work on the project as much as I've wanted to.) Anyway, go take a look at the website. There are bound to be several small changes in the coming weeks as we tweak the layout. Constructive criticism is definitely welcome.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Wacky Newsletter from Court-Martialed Ex-Navy Chaplain

Somehow, I got signed up for a newsletter from some crazy ex-Navy chaplain. I don't know if someone reads this blog and thought it would do me some good, if it was someone I'd contacted through work who thought I'd like it (I'm the webmaster, so I contact lots of people), or if it's just plain old spam. Being the webmaster for two sites and having my e-mail address plastered all over the web, I'm used to getting plenty of spam, so I usually just ignore these e-mails.

The guy who sends this particular newsletter, Gordon James Klingenschmitt, was court-martialed by the Navy for appearing in uniform at partisan events and for disobeying orders, but then decided to whine that it was religious persecution (I don't know how Sheppard AFB compares to the rest of the military, but being outspoken about Christianity certainly doesn't hurt your career there). Not only that, but he continues to use the title of chaplain, coming perilously close to impersonating an officer (some would say he's crossed the line, but I'm still getting the e-mails, so I guess the Navy doesn't have a big problem with it).

Anyway, like I said, I usually ignore these e-mails, but the latest one from Sunday caught my eye with the word, "swine," in the subject line. I was curious to see what "Chaps" had to say on the subject. Boy, was it a doozy, and not just for his scientific illiteracy (& redundancy - avian bird flu is H5N1).

Let us pray. Almighty God, we pray for your protection this week, against the H1N1 influenza virus, formerly known as the swine flu or the avian bird flu, which is now spreading around the globe in unprecedented pandemic proportions, and killing people not only in Mexico, but in Europe and now here in America. We pray it will not develop into one of the natural disasters which Jesus predicted in Matthew 24 as a sign of the end. God do not destroy us, but forgive our sins. In Jesus name, Amen.

I skimmed through his other prayers, and this one seemed worth posting, too.

Let us pray. Almighty God, today we pray for Pennslvania, who was betrayed by Senator Arlen Specter, who abandoned the pro-life, pro-marriage Republican party to join the pro-abortion, pro-homosexual Democrat party, and for the sake of selfish preservation, put the entire nation in jeopardy of a 60-seat filibuster-proof evil majority. God help Pennsylvania elect a true conservative, and defeat Arlen Specter in the 2010 election. We pray from Isaiah 21:2, the traitor betrays, the looter takes loot. God, help us attack, and bring to an end all the groaning he caused. In Jesus name, Amen.

Wow, I wonder how many other people think like this guy, or take him seriously. I hope it's not too many.

Website Update - Top 10 Page List Updated for April

Top 10 ListHere it is, the monthly update of the most popular pages on my site. Nine of the ten pages were the usual suspects. However, I was surprised to see my Life on Mars blog post become so popular. It was the second most visited page on my site in April, but I wrote it back in January. I wonder where the interest is coming from?

April List

  1. Autogyro History & Theory
  2. Blog - Life on Mars
  3. Blog - A Skeptical Look at MBT Shoes
  4. Programming
  5. Blog - Letter to Pharmacy about MBT Shoes
  6. Factoids Debunked & Verified
  8. Theoretical Max Propeller Efficiency
  9. Factoids Debunked & Verified, Part II
  10. X-Plane as an Engineering Tool

« April 2009 | Main | June 2009 »