European Travel Visas?

It seems that political stupidity is global. The EU has recently voted to end visa-free travel to EU nations for US citizens. What this will mean is that Americans wanting to go to any member EU countries will have to apply for an entry visa before travelling to the EU member countries. How long before and what the process is, I don’t know. Nor do I know when this is supposed to go into effect. What I do know is that this will have enormous repercussions for both the US and EU – especially economically.

How many people who are simply used to flying to Europe will decide not to visit since they have to apply for a visa for entry? How many people who will travel to Europe for work visits will simply not go, or put off the trip and do video conferencing instead? The European hospitality industry will suffer indeed as fewer Americans will want to bother with the additional paperwork.

Also, there will likely be US retaliation for this action by requiring the same reciprocal action from EU citizens travelling to the US.

Check here for a good perspective from a non-US travel blogger about the wider implications of this and related EU actions.

These travel policies have been going on for some time, several years in fact, so they have nothing to do with the new administration. However, I would think that in light of the present administration’s tendencies to act somewhat precipitously that some tactful diplomacy on the EU’s behalf would have been warranted.

Did You Vote?

Or, will you when your state’s primary is come? I’d encourage you to go out and vote. And vote especially your conscience – not the “winnable” candidate. If you like someone who’s trailing, the primary is the time to vote for them. You may never get another chance, you know.

Be a trend-setter: don’t do what everyone else does, or what the media says to do. Go out and express yourself.

I voted early since I’ll be out of town for Virginia’s primary next week.

Fred Runs For President

I know I’m a little bit late on this “breaking news”, but Fred Thompson has now officially declared his candidacy after what has to be the longest pre-campaign spin up ever. If you’re interested in a quick overview of some of his views, has an interesing article. Here is an excerpt:

He recently poked fun at growing worries about climate change, noting that temperatures on uninhabited planets also have been found to be rising. “This has led some people to wonder if Mars and Jupiter… are actually inhabited by alien SUV-driving industrialists who run their air conditioning at 60 degrees and refuse to recycle,” he wrote.

That’s funny!

Happy Easter!

Hope you all had a happy Easter today. Mine could have been better – that is: if Laura were here, it would have been perfect. I did have a good time today, though. I was invited to several families’ Easter lunch/dinner times so I had plenty [too much, I’m sure] to eat.

Our church did an Easter egg hunt this morning and I took tons of pictures for it using my new lens, which works GREAT by the way. So, now, I have to go through a couple hundred photos… not onerous, but still lots of work. I will probably end up deleting half of them… well, maybe less. I ran out of room on the card soon and had to go through and delete some bad ones already. I even had to borrow a card to continue shooting.

Did I tell you I love taking pictures?

Political Inconsistencies, Part I: Abortion And Environmental Activism

The world we live in is a bizarre, inconsistent place where you seem to never know what to expect. As with life, politics reflects our vacillating minds with flair unrivaled in any other human endeavor. Following are some issues that seem to not fit with political ideology in the parties that support them.

Abortion And Environmental Activism

Let us begin by defining the environment. Miriam-Webster defines the environment as: “the complex of physical, chemical, and biotic factors (as climate, soil, and living things) that act upon an organism or an ecological community and ultimately determine its form and survival.” Environmental Activism is the active involvement of an individual to preserve the environment. This environment includes such things as flowers, trees, horned owls, humans, etc.

Which political party is the “Party of the Environment”? Traditionally, Democrats (especially liberal Democrats) have been strong on environmental protection issues – or, at least they have that reputation. Just like Republicans have a reputation for supporting Big Business (this is often extrapolated as not supporting the environment since the needs of industry often cause pollution in the local environment). However, there are inconsistencies rampant in our politics that cloud the issues.

Liberals and now some Conservatives use rhetoric laced with references to environmental conservation and protection. What this means is that at the cost of some personal freedoms, we can join together and preserve what nature is left to us and pass it on to our children to keep our world healthy. A wonderful idea I think. Unfortunately, this idea seems to be applied at whim and not to the environment as a whole.

For example, people think timber companies are evil for chopping trees down and despoiling a natural environment. Those same people ignore the fact that the lumber companies also replant as they move through the land. It would be environmentally and economically unsound to do so – they would work themselves out of a job. We also have more trees now than we did 100 years ago – after all, we strive hard to put out forest fires which usually occur naturally. Yet these same people who harp on the timber companies as “killing the environment” turn right back around and say that it is perfectly acceptable to kill a human baby while it’s gestating.

Wait. Wasn’t I talking about the environment and what does Abortion have to do with that? Well, if you recall what the environment is, you will recall that it includes all living things contained therein. This includes any unborn child as well as all existing humans on the planet. We are a large part of the environment. We interact with it on a daily basis. So why does conserving a few owls in a woodland area take precedence over saving of human lives? Why do people see “saving the whales” as a worthy cause when they turn their backs on their own species?

Personal Liberty. Remember what I wrote earlier: at the cost of some personal freedoms, we can join together and preserve what nature is left to us. No one in the upper echelons of the Democratic party, no matter how inconsistent it is, wishes to “take away a personal choice” from a woman who has already made a poor choice to engage in the behavior that brought about her current state. Life doesn’t have an “undo” button. What has been done will stay done – killing the child of an unwise union is not an easy way out.

Why is it the case that an “unintentional” killing of an unborn baby can carry the murder verdict (as in the case against Terry Nichols who was found guilty on 161 counts of murder: 160 people killed and one unborn child killed when its mother died) while an intentional killing is considered an acceptable “choice”?

This one issue galvanizes me to never vote for any Democratic candidate. This is unfortunate as some issues that the Democratic Party stands for, I favor. However, to be a Democrat, one must support the platform and Abortion is a key issue supported by the Democratic platform. The implications of this for me is that I’m forced to vote for whoever the alternative choice is – not always a pleasant one.

The Bible Is Offensive

That’s what one woman says about a monument in honor of William Mosure, a key funder of the Star of Hope Mission, a Houston-based Christ-centered charity which provides shelter, food, clothing, education and recovery programs to those who have fallen on hard times. This mission has made a significant impact on the lives of thousands of Houstonians in their times of need and is one of the major charitable organization based in Houston. There are several memorials in the court house, yet this woman feels that this one “stands out”. She feels it is a “breach of the Constitution”. Never mind that the memorial has been there almost 50 years now – and it has now become offensive?

Now, I’ll be the first to say that I’m not a Constitutional law expert, but I don’t recall where it is mentioned in the Constitution that it is illegal to have a monument to a person in a public forum – even when that monument represents key concepts of what was accomplished by that individual – in this case, honoring the faith-based charity work made possible by this one man. Nor do I find any references in the Constitution about the display of religious symbols or artifacts. In fact, I can find no reference to memorials or displays in the following text of the First Amendment: Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances. That doesn’t sound like it gives the judicial branch any power to regulate local memorials – and if it did, why is the word “God” all over the San Jacinto Monument? Or is that next on this anti-Christian crusader’s list of “offensive” monuments? She complains about the county paying $93 per year on electricity to light the memorial, but doesn’t balk at sticking the county with a $41,000 court and legal fee.

The “Separation of Church and State” is not a law nor is it written into the Constitution in any form other that what I have quoted above. It was originally intended as a concept to protect the Church from the control of the State. What Henry VIII did when founding the Church of England was to modify Church doctrine to suit his political whims – he added the tolerance of divorce to the Catholic creed and then made it the official religion of England. The “Separation of Church and State” concept touted in the period around the finalization of the Constitution was based on the desire of the once-English founders of our country to keep the government’s hands off of any doctrine or creed.

This squabbling over religious-leaning monuments is a sickening waste of our taxpayer money. Now, I as a Harris County resident have to pay a portion of that fee (yes, I’ve already paid my taxes and they won’t be going up because of this – but that’s not the point) to have a monument that I like removed. It is offensive to me to hear people use the name Jesus Christ as a swear word. Should I sue them to have it removed from their language? No, you say? That’s not the same? Maybe it’s not, but the level of frivolity is the same.

Taxation Without Representation

It’s that time again: I now have worked long enough [from my employer’s perspective] in Oregon to contribute to their state’s economy. Funny, though. I benefit very little from this arrangement. In fact, although I will now pay taxes in Oregon, I do not have a residence and can therefore not vote. Didn’t we fight some war over this kind of thing with England a couple of hundred years ago? I wonder: how legal is this really?