This year my wife and I decided to put up some holiday decorations on our house for Christmas season. But, since we are Jewish, we were looking for Hanukkah decorations. One site we found is called "Christmas Central". And it has a wide variety of Hanukkah decorations. But it is the phrase at the top of this page that struck me as quintessentially American:
Christmas Central offers a wide variety of judaica decorations!
That is why I make it a point to say "Merry Christmas!" to my Christian friends.
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This becomes my annual Thanksgiving post.
Thanksgiving is a quintessentially American holiday. So, what am I thankful for? I am thankful for my family, for my wonderful wife and 2 beautiful girls. I am also thankful for the generally pretty good life I have. But who should thank for all this? The religious people thank G-d for all their blessings. But I am not religious enough in order to do that. And then it dawned on me. I should thank this wonderful country called United States of America and its wonderful people.
So, thank you, America, for existing, for being a beacon of freedom in the world where freedom is far from being commonplace. Thank you for making freedom your “national idea”, if you will.
Thank you, American Armed Forces, past and present, for ensuring our safety and, as my kids would put it, "fighting the bad guys". It is you, who ensures our freedom and wonderful opportunities this country provides.
Thank you, America, for accepting me as your own. You welcomed me, my family and friends and made us all Americans, part of your great people. You accept anybody who is willing to be accepted. You made acceptance and tolerance part of your ideology too.
Finally, thank you, America, for defending “liberty and justice for all” all over the world. Your young people volunteer to go and fight for what’s right and moral. If I were 20 years younger I would have joined them (lame excuse really, but that’s the only one I have). Winston Churchill once said: “The Americans can always be counted on to do the right thing, after they had exhausted all other possibilities”. He knew what he was talking about. It is only natural to try “all other possibilities”: people always look for easy solutions. But in the end Americans do the right thing, no matter what the cost, for doing the right thing is a part of American ideology too.
Thank you, America.
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Last Friday we had a lay-off at my work. I am still working, but some people unfortunately lost their jobs. One of them is a nice lady named Donna. She is a very good PCB designer. With her permission I decided to post her resume on my blog. She is very good at what she does. I, as a Hardware Engineer, had to work with her a lot. She often knew where to place components and how to route signals even before I gave her instructions. She is also very resourceful and was often find information necessary to complete her tasks on the Internet. Additionally, Donna can do some mechanical design. So, if you are in the electronics business, please take a look at her resume. I highly recommend her. She can be contacted via e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.
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… but not under military chain of command. That is one of Obama’s proposals. Little Green Footballs mentioned it here and linked to an article on the subject. But rather than reading quotes of Obama, take a look at this video of Obama talking about it himself:
In history there was a force that was just as powerful and well funded as the military, but not reporting to the military chain of command. In fact, it often was disliked by the regular military. Its name could be translated as "Protective Squadron" from its original language. In the original language it was called "Schutzstaffel". Its abbreviation SS is much better known. And it indeed was just as powerful as the Wehrmacht. It even had its own armored divisions. But it did not have its own air force: the SS fierce ideological convictions were no substitute for skills required for combat pilots. Still, the question remains: what exactly are Obama’s plans for this "civilian national security force"?
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That was a euphemistic name of the camp we were sent to when I finished 7th grade of school back in Odessa, in the former Soviet Union. We were sent to a collective farm to work in the fields for a week (or was it 2 weeks?). At the end of the school year we were required to write a letter of "request" to be sent to this camp. The letter was dictated to us in class. That was something we came to call "voluntary-mandatory", meaning that while "on paper" the required activity was voluntary, we really were not given any choice in the matter. Prior to 7th grade we were required to help in school with cleaning and repairs. Keep in mind that all that was cutting into summer vacation, so nobody was very anxious to participate in those activities.
Later, in college, we were sent to a collective farm for a month, usually in September. At least then it did not cut into the vacation time, and we were paid (although, very little). But it did cut into our studies, so part of the material had to be skipped.
So, why am I talking about it now? Because it looks like the "voluntary-mandatory" practices of my old country, that I thought I left behind and that I thought my children will never experience, are catching up with me. Enter President-Elect Barack Obama. On his transition site there is a section called "America Serves":
The Obama Administration will call on Americans to serve in order to meet the nation’s challenges. President-Elect Obama will expand national service programs like AmeriCorps and Peace Corps and will create a new Classroom Corps to help teachers in underserved schools, as well as a new Health Corps, Clean Energy Corps, and Veterans Corps. Obama will call on citizens of all ages to serve America, by setting a goal that all middle school and high school students do 50 hours of community service a year and by developing a plan so that all college students who conduct 100 hours of community service receive (emphasis mine – Eric-Odessit) a universal and fully refundable tax credit ensuring that the first $4,000 of their college education is completely free. Obama will encourage retiring Americans to serve by improving programs available for individuals over age 55, while at the same time promoting youth programs such as Youth Build and Head Start.
Now, you might notice that it says "setting a goal", which does not sound too ominous. However, it appears that the wording has changed: it used to say "require". Original wording is available here. There is also further analysis of this proposal here and here. Do follow these links: they are very useful for understanding what might happen. There is also another article describing Rahm Emanuel’s, Obama’s new Chief of Staff, views:
"…Here’s how it would work. Young people will know that between the ages of eighteen and twenty-five, the nation will enlist them for three months of civilian service. They’ll be asked to report for three months of basic civil defense training in their state or community, where they will learn what to do in the event of biochemical, nuclear or conventional attack; how to assist others in an evacuation; how to respond when a levee breaks or we’re hit by a natural disaster. These young people will be available to address their communities’ most pressing needs."
To be fair, there is an argument to be made that the community service requirement is not necessarily a bad idea. In fact it already exists to a certain extent on local level: my wife had to do it in order to get enough credit for acceptance into the SDSU Nursing School. Furthermore, there is an argument to be made that even Rahm Emanuel’s idea of compulsory civil service has some merit, especially during war time. However, these ideas have a lot of similarities with the old Soviet Union, to which I have to point out. Additionally, these ideas have a potential of generating some "buyer’s remorse" among the young people who were so enthusiastic about Obama’s Presidency.
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It’s been awhile since I last posted anything. Unfortunately I was too busy to post. Now I have a little bit of time, so I can describe my reaction to disastrous (for my side) election results. There is a number of reasons why I am extremely worried about the new administration. The most important one is not the one Obama directly responsible for: the cult of personality. On the other hand, I found (via LGF) a great article by Steven Den Beste:
…In the mean time, those of us who didn’t want Obama to be president have to accept that he is. And let’s not give in to the kind of paranoid fever dreams that have consumed the left for the last 8 years. Let us collectively take a vow tonight: no "Obama derangement syndrome". Obama is a politician. He isn’t the devil incarnate.
So what are the good sides of what just happened?
1. It is no longer possible for anyone to deny that the MSM is heavily biased. The MSM have been biased for decades but managed an illusion of fairness. That is no longer possible; the MSM have squandered their credibility during this campaign. They’ll never get that credibility back again.
2. Since the Democrats got nearly everything they hoped for in this campaign, they’ll have no excuses and will have to produce. They’ll have to reveal their true agenda — or else make clear that they don’t really have any beyond gaining power.
3. Every few decades the American people have to be reminded that peace only comes with strength. The next four years will be this generation’s lesson.
Now, a few predictions for the next four years:
1. Obama’s "hold out your hand to everyone" foreign policy is going to be a catastrophe. They’ll love it in Europe. They’re probably laughing their heads off about it in the middle east already.
2. The US hasn’t suffered a terrorist attack by al Qaeda since 9/11, but we’ll get at least one during Obama’s term.
3. We’re going to lose in Afghanistan.
4. Iran will get nuclear weapons. There will be nuclear war between Iran and Israel. (This is the only irreversibly terrible thing I see upcoming, and it’s very bad indeed.)
5. There will eventually be a press backlash against Obama which will make their treatment of Bush look mild. Partly that’s going to be because Obama is going to disappoint them just as much as all his other supporters. Partly it will be the MSM desperately trying to regain its own credibility, by trying to show that they’re not in his tank any longer. And because of that they are eventually going to do the reporting they should have done during this campaign, about Obama’s less-than-savory friends, and about voter fraud, and about illegal fund-raising, and about a lot of other things.
and 6. Obama will not be re-elected in 2012. He may even end up doing an LBJ and not even running again.
Do read it all. I agree with Steven Den Beste that there should be no "Obama Derangement Syndrome". But I don’t share his expectation that the media will turn on him. I am also not as optimistic about Republican 2012 prospective. I do hope that Obama lied through his teeth during the primaries in order to get the nomination. That is because his promises were so far to the left, that any deviation from them would necessarily move Obama closer to the center. In the meantime, those of us who disagree with Obama, while hoping that he would do well, should not hesitate to point out where we think he is wrong. And while I am not going to say that Obama is not my President, as many of the Left said about Bush, my "Nobama" sticker is not coming off my car. I might even add "Don’t blame me…" sticker to it. I do hope that all the dire predictions that I had and that Steven Den Beste has in his article won’t come true. But I do think that we are in for a rough ride for the next 4 years.
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