Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Remembering President Ford - 12.27.2006.1

I send out my condolences to the family of President Ford, as does the entire nation.

President Ford was a good President, especially as he had no intention of running for the position of Commander and Chief. Unlike any President before or since he rose to this position without being elected by the people. Not bad for a man who had a difficult early life. If there is any legacy that will be seen by historians on his Presidency I think it will be that he was a unifier on the level of perhaps President Lincoln.

President Ford was born in 1913, and lived through the great depression. He went to the University of Michigan and became a football star. When I say a star I mean that he had offers to join 2 professional football teams but turned them down to attend Yale law school, where he graduated in the top 3rd. Even earlier in his life there were trials for the President-to-be. His parent divorced shortly after his birth, a radically unusual fact at the time, and his meeting with his father was less than a classic fairytale. Later in his youth he joined the Navy to fight in WW II and became a Lt. Commander.

While President Ford may be best known for his pardoning of President Nixon it is not the thing he should be known for. He made in roads to improve the automobile industry, reduced inflation by half, and ended a war that had taken thousands of American lives for a decade. In virtually every way President Ford unified the nation and placed it on a better path. While some have worried about politics and partisanship, he sought unity and improvement of the average man’s life. He achieved these things without fanfare and little acclaim at the time he did them.

President Ford was a man from moderate roots, that followed a path to keep America whole. He was honest and direct, in a time when the nation needed exactly those things. Much like the advice parents gives their children, his actions weren’t appreciated then but are better understood today. For that we must be thankful. Too much is taken as a given, or overlooked today, by the government and the media. President Ford is a reminder that there is another path and it is effective.

I am reminded of my earliest political thought. In the election of ’76 I recall coming home from school. The nation was abuzz with the fact that President Carter had just won. A family friend was over and discussing the election with my mother. When I was asked about school I mentioned we had a mock election and I had voted for President Carter. I was asked why him, and I said because he was a democrat. I was scolded for making a choice for a silly reason, and the family friend chided me opening my eyes with the statement, “Do you realize that he [President Carter] wouldn’t let you go to church with him on Sunday?” It was my first lessons in politics. Lessons I remember to this day.

Change just to change is not worth it, you may not like what is the best thing being done for you today, doing what a crowd does for no reason beyond being in a crowd is worthless. These facets President Ford held, and guided the nation by. He led us in the same way as he raised his family, as best as I can tell, with compassion and an eye to our betterment. That defines a great President. Unifying a hurt and disillusioned nation is a task few would want, or have faced. It’s a testament to the man and the American people that he succeeded and did so well.

This is what I think, what do you think?

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Sunday, December 24, 2006

Final part of response on comment about Rep. Virgil Goode - 12.24.2006.3

Final part of reply on comment...

As to your final point of imposing views. Islam is not imposing anything on America. There have been Muslims in the world long before there was an America. There are 1.3 billion Muslims in the world today (by some estimates) and that number is growing as it has been for centuries. Islam has not changed a single law in America. Actions of a small group of men that have a religious faith have caused change in America. It was not their religion but their actions that created the change. That is no different than Timothy McVeigh (non-Muslim), Eric Robert Rudolph (non-Muslim), or Pearl Harbor (Japan is mostly Shinto and Buddhist and during the time of World War II the emperor was regarded as a religious figure). In each case it was the actions and not the religion that caused change.

But if Rep. Goode is to impose his view then that is a problem. It violates our basic principles. The freedom of religion is one of the founding beliefs of this nation. To say that any religion should be restricted is to violate that principle. If one religion can be restricted then any can be. Why not restrict Jews, or Buddhists, or Lutherans. Where does it end, and who has the right to choose?

In addition Rep. Goode would restrict non-European [non-Caucasian] immigrants to this nation. I’m not speaking of illegal aliens, but legal immigrants. His basis is that too many Arabs and Muslims are entering the nation. He said this in an interview with Fox News on the same day I wrote the original post. That sounds racist to me. That is the voice of fear and stupidity. To my knowledge and understanding Rep. Goode has never met Rep. Ellison or any Muslims, yet he seeks to enact actions against both. Where does that come from beyond fear and ignorance and, I think, prejudice. It seems blatant and wrong. It goes against the principles of the nation and sets a precedence for future conditions by which citizens can be judged. Religious bias leads to racial bias and vice versa. Conditions on, or preferences of, citizenship leads to second-class or non-citizenship. I see that little different that how slaves were seen before and after the 13th and 14th Amendments. That is a road I never want to go down, nor allow my nephews and nieces to see.

Personally Rep. Virgil Goode can believe whatever he wishes. His religion is his personal choice as is the manner in which he acts with people of different races and religions that are not his own. That is a right that America is founded on. But as a representative of his state and a member of the government, he does not get that choice. He must work with all other members of the government to advance America, and not just his personal views. Whether he and any of his constituents like it or not America is made up of a mix of every religion and race and group in the world. That is one of the facts that make us great. The sum of our parts makes us greater as a whole. For Rep. Goode to impose his limited views is to weaken the nation and to reduce what America is.

That is the danger and the problem. Those are the issues at hand. To see it any other way is, to me, subterfuge and denial.

This is what I think, what do you think?

Part 2 Part 2 of reply on Rep. Virgil Goode's letter - 12.24.2006.2

Part 1 Reply to comment on Rep. Goode's Letter - 12.24.2006.1

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Part 2 of reply on Rep. Virgil Goode's letter - 12.24.2006.2

Continued from Reply to comment on Rep. Goode's Letter - 12.24.2006.1 ...

While there may be slavery in the Sudan, I admit that I have no knowledge of it. Because of that lack of knowledge I cannot comment on whether that is racially or religiously or otherwise motivated. But there is slavery of many forms throughout the world today. White slavery in Asia is not motivated by religion, as one example, and is no less wrong. Religion does not make slavery wrong, the practice is wrong in and of itself. I think the same of Genocide.

The Koran, like most all major religious tomes, is not intolerant. The interpretation of the tome may be intolerant, as used by some groups. That is no different than fanatics of every religion, whether they are followers of Judaism, David Koresh, Jim Jones, Christianity or any other religion of any size. Fanatics are dangerous; justification of extreme views by a religious tome is dangerous. Muslims are not alone in this, but they are the most popular. Were the Mid-east not an oil rich area I’m not so sure that it would be as popular, and had the Twin Towers not been attacked the current national anger towards Muslims would not exist.

As for genocide, as I stated above it is wrong. But it is not something that America has strongly tried to prevent or act upon. America is not concerned with the genocides that have occurred or are occurring in Africa or Southeast Asia. Whether it is the Killing Fields or Darfur, what has America done? And what of the Genocide that America created? How long has it been before we even hinted that we did any wrong to the Native American Indians?

But given all that, Islam as a whole has not claimed a desire to kill all Americans. Rep. Ellison (which the letter by Rep. Goode directly attacks) is not trying to destroy America or citizens (of which he is a citizen from a family of citizens that go back to the time of slavery). A splinter group has claimed a desire to end the American way of life. I find this threat of little concern, as compared to other threats currently or previously made. The Communists of Russia sought the end of America and that was valid. North Korea continues to prepare for a war with America, that is valid. China dislikes the American way, that is a concern. Iran would love to see the demise of the American way of life, that is a concern. [Note that only one of the 3 current concerns I mention are headed by a Muslim religious government. Of the 3 it is also the Muslim run government that is the only one currently believed to be without nuclear weapons which is the major point of concern.] In each case it is not the religion of the people that is against America, it is the government of that nation.

To be continued...

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Reply to comment on Rep. Goode's Letter - 12.24.2006.1

Due to the length and importance of this reply, I have decided to make it a post. It’s long and will be in more than one part. This is a response to the comment made by Oldatlantic, whom I thank for reading the blog and pursuing my thoughts.

First I want to thank you for your comment and for being a reader of Vass.

To reply to your comment, it is often stated that the Koran allows for the active fight against those that do not convert to Islam. What is less stated is that the Koran also “gives "People of the Book" special status, allowing those who live in Muslim lands (called dhimmi—protected people) to practice their own religions and to own property.” Further, “This agreement has in the past led to Islamic countries practicing religious toleration for Christians and Jews, although they were never accorded the full status enjoyed by Muslims.”

I will not defend nor question how any one group may or may not interpret the Koran and its statements on conversion of non-Muslims, or tolerance of People of the Book – those being Jews and Christians. I will state that the Koran does mention both things.

But I must also say that this is little different than what Christianity has done over the centuries. Actually over millennium. Whether that forced conversion was in the form of the Crusades, the Spanish Inquisition, missionaries (to convert the “savages”), or other similar actions. There is no doubt that Christianity became the most populous religion through a great deal of forced conversion and bloodshed, and in that there should be no sticks or stones thrown at the Muslim faith. To do so would be hypocritical.

And let me clarify the statement I made that you quoted. The type of thinking I am referring to is racism. The prior statements I made before you quoted me were “The actual statement from Rep. Goode seems to be that Black or Arab or non-White Muslims are a bad thing for America. If that is correct it is blatant racism.” The type of thinking I was referring to, the type of slavery and genocide, are what happened in America and in Europe. Slavery in America was long justified by some by the Bible. The Roman Catholic Church made no moves to prevent the slavery in America, to my knowledge, ever until it was removed and then condemned its existence. In America the systematic murder (genocide) of the Native American Indians was justified by many on the basis of religion, as was their often forced conversion. In Europe it took a long time before any comments were made about the actions of the Nazi’s against the Jews.

To be continued... Part 2 of reply on Rep. Virgil Goode's letter - 12.24.2006.2

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Thursday, December 21, 2006

Anger at Rep. Virgil Goode - 12.21.2006.1

I just heard about something that is offensive and troubling. It seems that Representative Virgil H Goode Jr. has a problem with Muslims. I come to this conclusion via his comments made in a December 5th letter. If you have not heard about this you should.

The letter in question states, “I fear that in the next century we will have many more Muslims in the United States if we do not adopt the strict immigration policies that I believe are necessary to preserve the values and beliefs traditional to the United States of America and to prevent our resources from being swamped,“ among other choice words. It makes me ask what is wrong with Representative Goode.

I assume something must be wrong with him because if there is not, and he is reflecting the views of his constituents in Virginia, then there are problems in this nation that are worse than what I would have guessed. I must say that Representative Goode, and any person that agrees with him, do not represent me or other Republicans I know. I can’t imagine how a narrow-minded view of this nation could have representation in this government. Yes I realize the President is very religious and that factors into many of his decisions, but at the same time I do not see him promoting religious persecution.

Rep. Goode, as well as Mr. Dennis Prager and others that fail to think (in my opinion), seems terrified that any other religion exists. Especially if they exist in this nation. Perhaps they have all forgotten that this nation was created in part due to the hope of religious freedom. Perhaps they forget that this nation has always been a mix of cultures and nationalities and religion. The original 13 colonial states and territories represented Spain, England, France and other nations. Every single person that signed the Declaration was an immigrant.

But that is only part of the problem with this letter. I would like to know how a person’s religion has anything to do with immigration, legal or otherwise. It would seem that Rep. Goode and others have no idea what issue they wish to be lashing out about. This letter is a sweeping statement of how small-minded some can be, I feel.

Let me slow down and focus, unlike this letter. First I am angered by what I see as blatant fear of Muslims, whether they are American or otherwise. If this letter were aimed at those who are Jewish the outcry would be huge. If it were against Lutherans, or Protestants, or born-again Christians Rep. Goode would have calls to be removed. Why should it be any different when this is directed against Muslims?

Second, the private swearing in ceremony has nothing to do with the position the politicians are elected to do. I doubt that a Jewish politician is asked to use a Bible, and the official swearing in is devoid of any religious connection (due to a little thing called separation of church and state). Rep. Keith Ellison is free to use (or not use) any religious tome he chooses. He hasn’t asked anyone else to use the Koran, or become a Muslim. Only a fool, in my opinion, would demand that everyone believe and do what one group says – except perhaps in a dictatorship or Communist state.

Third, immigration is a separate issue. Rep. Ellison is a native African American citizen.
Fourth, what is wrong with Muslims living in America? Many Americans are Muslim and since some of them will have children it seems natural that the number of Muslims will grow over the next century even if none immigrated to this nation. So what’s wrong with that? The number of Muslims has been growing in America for decades. The actual statement from Rep. Goode seems to be that Black or Arab or non-White Muslims are a bad thing for America. If that is correct it is blatant racism. That kind of thinking once justified slavery, and genocide. Actually it still does, which is a shame.

Fifth, what values and beliefs is Rep. Goode afraid of losing? What resources could be swamped? The freedom of speech or religion? The freedom to elect representatives to our government? The desire to raise a family and do a good day’s work? How might an immigrant change that or any religious group? Should these “strict immigration policies” extend to Jews or Catholics or Lutherans? Should these “strict immigration policies” extend to non-Christian immigrants from France, England, Germany, Italy, Russia, or just those who come from those nations and are not Caucasian?

I have this to say, the world is not just one religion. It never has been. I doubt if it will ever be as long as humans walk the earth. Fear of the unknown is powerful and destructive. It benefits no one. In my opinion those who wrap themselves in such a cloak diminish what makes us human and American.

Legal immigration to this nation should not be based on religion or color. But this is the real world and color has always been a factor (I recall that the percentage of immigrants from European nations was roughly 70% of all immigrants) which is sad. Some wish that they can hide from the reality of the world. They feel like that American should be the all white nation that movies, television shows and their romanticized memories of the 50’s seem to depict. Thankfully this is not true.

Individuals of color and various religions have helped to create the nation we live in and the quality of life we enjoy. At least a third of this nation is non-Caucasian, and different religions are a reality. This is part of the strength of America. To limit that is to limit our greatness. To try to penalize citizens, or others in the world, for their personal freedoms is to descend to a nation more like Communist Russia (penalized Jews and Russian Orthodox Christians) or China or North Korea (filled with paranoia and still preparing to finish fighting a war that stopped 50 years ago) than to be what we are or hope to be.

This is not merely what I would call small-minded. This is stupid [I define ignorant as a lack of knowledge, stupid is the ability to have knowledge and the refusal to act on that ability] and dangerous. Perhaps people in Virginia think that Rep. Goode is a great elected official, perhaps he has done well for them. I don’t know as this is the first I’ve heard of the man, but the first impression he has made leaves me with a sour taste in my mouth. I can only hope more feel the same.

This is what I think, what do you think?

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Saturday, December 16, 2006

Letter to Senator Clinton - 12.16.2006.1

This is a copy of a letter sent to Senator Hilary Clinton. If and when I receive a response I will post it without edit.

December 16, 2006
Senator Clinton,

I am a citizen, former military, an entrepreneur, and resident of upstate New York. As we approach the 2008 presidential race, more and more of the talking heads on television are commenting that you are the leading hopefully for the Democratic Party. Based on that I would like to ask a few questions.

Before I go any further I must mention that I am the owner of 2 blog sites, and co-author of a third. The site that pertains to this subject the most is the site. This letter, along with any response I receive, will appear in at least that blog.

If you review the site you will see that I have followed your progress and commented on several actions. While these reviews may be critical, that is due to my desire to promote the best government possible with disclosure to the public that consists of detailed relevant commentary. I invite you to review the site and respond to any comments I have made. My focus is not personal, as I do not know you, and has always centered on the actions or comments of your office and fame.

With the above said, I wonder why should anyone expect that you would run for the Presidency? While many believe that as a female candidate you could cause more women to vote than what is normally found in an election, but that is not a valid reason. To say that you are one of the few Democratic political figures that have name recognition and little negative exposure is also a good thing, but not a reason.

What legislation have you initiated, that has passed, that has benefited those living in NY state and/or this nation? When I say benefited I ask that you demonstrate the actual improvement and not the projected improvement that a study or poll has stated. Obviously any recent legislation (less than 6 months) can’t be expected to have necessarily had an immediate effect.

As a key Democrat I ask, what your party has done for African Americans in the last decade, and more importantly since you have taken office. What legislation has passed that benefits African Americans that was initiated by the Democratic Party since you have gained office? To be fair, what legislation has the Democratic party prevented that would have harmed African Americans (in NY state and/or the nation) and how did the party derive that this legislation was harmful?

What are your positions on the platforms? I have heard several soundbites for multiple politicians and none seem to really mean anything when thought about, at least to me. In the recent mid-term elections many Democrats seemed to have won, in my opinion, on the basis that they were for a change in policy. Yet none seemed to have an answer as to what that new and different policy was or could be. In a soundbite such an answer may work, but that is not a reason to be elected for, especially not presidential candidates if such a choice were up to me.

In addition I ask what are you doing to help small businesses? What are you doing about improving the public education available in New York State (especially city schools)? What are you doing to address the drop-out rate of African American males? And what are you doing for Latino/ Hispanic Americans on the above matters?

Lastly, what is your position on the various laws and actions that are in place or proposed to impede illegal aliens from entering this nation from our southern border only? Do you agree or disagree with the thought that more should be done to protect our largely unwatched northern borders, especially since there has been evidence of how dangerous this lack of attention has been.

Senator Clinton, I look forward to your responses on these questions. I also plan to ask these questions, or similar ones, of Senators Obama, McCain, and any other candidate for the presidency (actual or rumored) throughout 2007.

Thank you for your time and attention in this matter.


Michael Vass
President – M V Consulting, Inc.

** This is seperate of the above letter. Items of interest relating to Senator Clinton and or the Democratic Party found on this site:


A few words on politics, war, and Dr. Martin Luther King
Commenting on Sen. Hillary Clinton's Dr. Martin Luther King Day speech
Senator John Kerry 'jokes' about the military - 11.1.2006.1

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