All content, of both the original and this blog, is written from my point of view and is my opinion. I believe it to be accurate at the time it is written. ~ Kyle Prast, Brookfield resident since 1986

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Chickamauga National Mililtary Park: A place to remember and forgive

Today is Memorial Day, a day we set aside to remember those who paid the ultimate price serving our country. The holiday often just becomes a day to grill out or get that garden planted, but it's original purpose was to be a day of mourning. It is very easy to forget just how many Americans gave their lives in the service of our country over the years and still put their lives on the line today. But if you have ever visited a National Cemetery or Military Park, the evidence of their sacrifice is sobering.

On a trip to Chattanooga, Tennessee last fall, my husband and I visited several Civil War Military Parks and a National Cemetery. At the Chickamauga and Chattanooga National Military Parks we read the accounts of the battles and the numbers of casualties. I must confess, it was difficult to grasp the size and scope of the attacks and the numbers of dead and wounded. The Civil War still remains the most bloody and costly in terms of lives lost in U.S. history. Nearly 620,000 Americans died in the Civil War--more than all other wars from the Revolution through Vietnam combined.

What struck me about the Chickamauga Military Park (just south of Chattanooga, TN, in Georgia) was the spirit of forgive and forget that accompanied the creation of the park.

Just 24 years after the end of the Civil War, veterans from opposing sides of the Battle of Chickamauga held a reunion. They called it the Blue and the Gray Barbecue. Where "hundreds of soldiers and their families visited the sites of the bloody battle...smoking the pipe of peace, healing the wounds, and helping start the Chickamauga National Park, known as the Chickamauga Battlefield." The park was established the following year in 1890 to preserve and commemorate the battlefields and was the first and largest in the U.S.

There are 1,400 monuments and historical markers of granite and bronze in the park--nearly all quite impressive in their artistry. The Kentucky monument was not only beautiful to look at, but also in its sentiment. It reads: "Erected by the State of Kentucky in memory of her sons who fought and fell on this field. 'As we are united in life, and they united in death, let one monument perpetuate their deeds, and one people, forgetful of all asperities [harshness or severity], forever hold in grateful remembrance all the glories of that terrible conflict which made all men free and retained every star on the nation's flag.' " (Kentucky was a border state and had both Confederate and Union soldiers in the war.)

Kentucky Governor Bradley's monument dedication speech in 1899 continued that spirit of forgive and forget: (My emphasis)“Kentucky has evinced [clearly shown] no partiality in the evidence of loving remembrance. It carries with it no heart burning, no jealousy, no invidious [offensive] distinction. It is not an emblem of honor to the victor and and reproach to the vanquished, but an equal tribute to the worth of all. In future, the descendants of chivalrous Confederates may proudly gaze upon it, realizing that the state has honored their ancestors, and although their cause was lost, their heroism is revered and their memories perpetuated. And the sons of the brave men who fought on the other side may look upon it with equal pride, feeling that it fitly commemorates the gallant deeds of their illustrious ancestors , who preserved the Nation from destruction. May it endure forever, standing guard over victor and vanquished, with the statue that surmounts it, in one hand holding the torch of liberty shedding abroad its benign rays, in the other grasping the people, ready and anxious at all times to uphold the integrity of one country, and to drive, wounded and bleeding, from its shores any insolent foe that shall ever dare invade them.

These people who had suffered and lost so much were indeed doing what President Lincoln urged the nation to do 34 years before in his 2nd Inaugural Address: "With malice toward none, with charity for all, with firmness in the right as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in, to bind up the nation's wounds, to care for him who shall have borne the battle and for his widow and his orphan, to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace among ourselves and with all nations."

Today the question of States Rights vs. Federal Rights is again being raised. I wonder if we as a nation are capable of that same spirit of forgiveness that the post Civil War veterans exhibited so soon after their great conflict at Chickamauga?

In any event, I am grateful for the men and women of our nation who gave their all to preserve and protect our country. May God bless their families and God bless America.

History of establishment of Chickamauga and Chattanooga National Military Parks

Links: Practically Speaking, Betterbrookfield, RandyMelchert, Jay Weber, Vicki McKenna, The Right View Wisconsin, CNS News, Mark Levin, Breitbart BigGovernment, The Heritage Foundation

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Song of the Pond

Late in the spring, when the weather is warm, listen for the song of the pond. Sometimes you don't have to listen all the carefully, because the unmistakable trill of the toads and frogs is deafening. That was the case when I snapped these pictures at Kinsey Park pond during those warm days in early May. Now that the weather is again warming, the singers should be out again.

I find their song rather appealing. It reminds me of when we had African Swimming Frogs as pets. They would trill at night, hoping to attract a mate. Alas, we only had guy frogs. But their song was pleasant just the same.

The young frogger who had captured the group in my photos had quite a collection in her tub. Her grandmother was hoping for catch and release. There are also large frog tadpoles in the pics.

I had been to the pond the day before and found the toads singing away, among other things. I will keep my eyes peeled for tiny black toad tadpoles. (They look like swimming raisins.)

My son and I raised toad tadpoles when he was little, and I have to admit it was great fun. We had the tank sitting on the kitchen table for weeks it seemed. We fed them cooked spinach and watched them mature. Tadpoles eat algae, so if you don't have algae rich water, you may use tap water. If it is city water, let it sit for a day to rid it of the chlorine. If you use pond water, strain it first. We had some pond water that had some weedy clumps in it. Unfortunately, it also had some dragonfly nymphs in it. Those nymphs devoured 3/4 of our tadpoles before we discovered their presence!

Once the tadpoles get their legs and lose their tails, be sure they have a rock to climb on. They will need to breathe oxygen from the air at this point. We released ours back into the "wild". Be sure to let toads go near a body of water. Frogs obviously need to be released into the water--preferably from the creek or pond you took them from. (We got our toad tadpoles from a ditch.)

For more information on keeping tadpoles, see Pets In a Jar--a great source of the care and feeding of little critters. Hope you enjoy 'em; we had a hoppin' good time with ours.

Links: Practically Speaking, Betterbrookfield, RandyMelchert, Jay Weber, Vicki McKenna, The Right View Wisconsin, CNS News, Mark Levin, Breitbart BigGovernment, The Heritage Foundation

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Friday, May 21, 2010

Attention gardeners: Master Gardener Plant Sale Sat. May 22

The South East Wisconsin Master Gardener Perennial Plant Sale is this Saturday, May 22nd, 8am, at State Fair Park's DNR Area.

I had heard about these sales, but never attended until last year. My, oh, my, what an event! All I can say is GO EARLY!

A shark feeding frenzy comes to mind, but the Master Gardener's ran the sale like a well oiled machine. They have the plants organized by type and you can ask for directions.

Most plants are between $2 and $5 each. It was fun just to be witness to so much gardening enthusiasm, but of course I picked up a few things too. My treasures are pictured at the end of the slide show.

There is no charge for admission. I parked on the street, but remember you must carry all that you purchased to your car. Have fun.

Links: Practically Speaking, Betterbrookfield, RandyMelchert, Jay Weber, Vicki McKenna, The Right View Wisconsin, CNS News, Mark Levin, Breitbart BigGovernment, The Heritage Foundation

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Monday, May 17, 2010

Ron Johnson enters U.S. Senate race against Feingold

Oshkosh businessman Ron Johnson formally entered the GOP primary for the U.S. Senate today, a fact that makes conservatives like me breathe a little easier.

I don't know Mr. Johnson personally, but I have spoken to him on the phone and emailed him a few times. I have found him to be thoughtful, measured, responsive, and conservative.

In some respects, he reminds me of our first President, George Washington. Like Washington, Johnson is not seeking to be a career politician. Instead he is answering a call to serve as a Citizen Legislator. Being a Citizen Legislator was one theme Johnson touched on in his speech at the Madison Tea Party in April.

One of the things I asked Ron when I called to encourage him to run against Russ Feingold was, did he have any skeletons in his closet? I believe Choir Boy was the term he used to describe himself. That made me smile. (I don't think I was the only one to ask that question.) Character is a very important element of a candidate to me.

I believe Ron Johnson has a very good chance of winning in November against Russ Feingold. He certainly has a lot going for him.

From the ISTHMUS, The Scons,

"He [Johnson] apparently has money, which unfortunately often translates into legitimacy in politics. The parties love a guy with money, not only because he can contribute to his own campaign, but because it relieves them from some fundraising duties, especially in a race against Feingold, who may be vulnerable but certainly is not worth the GOP attention that the governor's race or the two House races up North deserve. He's still the favorite by a long-shot."

Being able to self-fund a campaign is very helpful, especially since it is a bit late in the game to be running. (I blame Tommy Thompson for that.) But money alone doesn't guarantee success. Terrance Wall is wealthy and has contributed to his campaign, but he has some baggage in that he has avoided paying income taxes because of depreciation allowances. He is also not as conservative as Johnson. (In the Governor's race, Mark Neumann is self funding, but he is not an ideal conservative candidate either with his pro ethanol/ renewable energy stance. Neumann also seems to be hedging on answering some very simple questions lately.) So self-funding alone does not an ideal candidate make!

The following factors do matter to voters, as pointed out by Craver, "Last but not least, Johnson doesn't have any ideological question marks on his record. He has not served in a Democratic administration or headlined a fundraiser for Democratic candidates, and he has not made any contributions to Democrats in the past, unlike Terrence Wall. Johnson actually spoke at the Tea Party rally, unlike Wall or Westlake, and he can apparently give an OK speech. All you have to do is read a few conservative blogs [hey, that's me!] to discover that many conservatives feel the current primary field is neutered, and desperately in need of some right wing testosterone."

I don't see Johnson as being just right wing, to me he represents American values like hard work and living within your means.

Whatever happens in November, I have to say a big, thank you, Ron Johnson, for entering the U.S. Senate race. Our country and state need someone like you in Washington. I appreciate the huge sacrifice you and your family are making on our behalf.

One bit of trivia, Ron Johnson is brother to Home Time's Dean Johnson.

Links: Practically Speaking, Betterbrookfield, RandyMelchert, Jay Weber, Vicki McKenna, The Right View Wisconsin, CNS News, Mark Levin, Breitbart BigGovernment, The Heritage Foundation

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Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Unbelievable, Kerry & Lieberman introduce Cap & Trade today - UPDATE

UPDATE: Ron Johnson confirmed today he will run for US Senate against Russ Feingold! This is indeed great news for Conservatives in Wisconsin. I reminded Feingold of this fact when I called today asking him to vote NO on Cap and Trade. (See bottom of post.)

File this bill under Bad Bills & Ideas That Just Won't Die. (There are so many, one cannot get to them all.) Today, Senator Kerry and Lieberman are introducing Cap and Trade to the U.S. Senate. You know, the bill that all pronounced dead earlier this year--the one that didn't have a chance of passage this year. But you see, the issue is NOT capping carbon emissions to save the planet from Global Warming, the issue is taxing you more and controlling your life.

"The Senate bill would set up an emission trading program for utilities starting in 2013. Factories and other “industrial sources” would join the cap-and-trade program in 2016."

The bill proposes cutting greenhouse gases by 17% below their 2005 levels in 10 years. Never mind that CO2 has since been shown to have no affect on warming and that the planet has not been warming in the past 10 years.

Never mind that those involved in the Carbon Exchange, like U.W. Madison Prof. Joel Rogers admit that "it is all about the money and if we stopped ALL emissions in the U.S., it would make absolutely no difference". (My Emphasis throughout post)

It is estimated that this legislation will cost the average U.S. homeowner an extra $600 - $1,000/year on their utility bills. Wisconsin will be hit harder because so much of our electricity comes from coal fired plants.

This type of Cap and Trade legislation has already proven itself to be useless in controlling CO2 emissions and detrimental to the economies of Europe. You know, Europe, that is having their own economic woes?

Chris Horner from National Review
sums this bill up as an opportunity to transfer wealth. He also points to the devastating effect of carbon taxing on Europe's economy: "I have a take on the lesson for us from Europe amid this debate over at Energy Tribune, written over the weekend but consistent with an emerging meme: we are willfully rushing headlong into the same debt, through the very same mandates, that has broken Europe. The system doesn’t work. And our political class doesn’t care. They’ve got a fundamental transformation to impose — as I describe in Power Grab. It’s not too late to learn their plan and their tricks."

In another piece from Energy Tribune, Today's Greece, Tomorrow's America: How Obama's Health Care and Energy Agendas Really End:

"The most troubling aspect of the West’s current policy turmoil is not the European meltdown led by Greece and Spain. It is instead President Barack Obama’s unflinching insistence on rushing America headlong into the very mandates, and resulting debt levels, that precipitated that meltdown."

"Obama is scripting a repeat of Europe’s disaster, here, by cramming down on the American people the same policy fetishes our Left has obsessed about for decades, and which Europe used to bring this down upon itself: statist management of health care and energy."

Our U.S. economy is hanging on by a thread. The CBO just came out with the report that ObamaCare could cost twice as much as originally thought: CBO Doubles Some Health Care Spending Estimates. Now our Senate is poised on adding another economy/job killer bill?

The House version knew Cap and Trade would adversely affect our economy. It even "included two years of unemployment assistance for workers who lose their jobs as a result of this 'jobs bill.' "

The CBO report on Cap and Trade affirms jobs would be lost: "The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) has analyzed the research on the effects that policies to reduce greenhouse gases would have on employment and concluded that total employment during the next few decades would be slightly lower than would be the case in the absence of such policies. In particular, job losses in the industries that shrink would lower employment more than job gains in other industries would increase employment, thereby raising the overall unemployment rate."

We cannot afford "rising prices" or causing unemployed people to "face prolonged hardship" on top of our already rising inflation and high jobless numbers, yet this is what the Liberal Progressives in the Senate are proposing. But unless there is an outcry, similar to that of Wisconsinites against our Global Warming/Clean Energy Jobs bill, I am afraid we are headed toward more regulation, higher prices, and increased unemployment numbers.

Contact your Senators. Tell them America cannot afford this legislation. Find them here. In Wisconsin, we have Senator Herb Kohl - (202) 224-5653 and Russ Feingold - (202) 224-5323. Russ Feingold is very vulnerable this fall, especially if Oshkosh businessman Ron Johnson enters the race this month, as expected. Like Wisconsin Senator Jim Sullivan, stiff competition just might get Russ to finally listen to his constituents! It certainly improved Sullivan's hearing.

More Reading: Business Week: U.S. Climate Bill Would Expand Oil Drilling, Cut CO2
National Review: Kerry-Lieberman Cap-and-Trade Bill Leaked
Energy Tribune: Today's Greece Tomorrow's America, How Obama's Health Care and energy Agendas Really End
CBO Economic and Budget Issue Brief
Crime Inc-Joel Rogers and the New Green Deal

Links: Practically Speaking, Betterbrookfield, RandyMelchert, Jay Weber, Vicki McKenna, The Right View Wisconsin, CNS News, Mark Levin, Breitbart BigGovernment, The Heritage Foundation

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Thursday, May 06, 2010

That was scary; stock market falls nearly 1,000 points--How about that recovery?

I had just come back from praying at City Hall Plaza and because I was wondering about the Greece debt ripple effect, I checked the stock market quote page. It was at -350. Ooh, that is not good.

Then I refreshed it: -468. Refresh: -800 something. -963 at 1:47pm, Central Time. Pretty surreal. Talk about Mr. Toad's Wild Ride!

Then it started recovering: -717. -697. -580. -472. At 2:10 back "up" to -338.95. In all, it fell 998.5 at about 2:45 pm Eastern Time, for its largest intraday drop ever, and recovered to close at -348.63. Who would ever think that number would look good?

Why? Blame it on bad news from Greece and maybe some China news too. After all, if China's economy crashes, who is going to buy our debt?

After the market rebounded back to the 300s, I checked Gold: $1,203.90 at 2:48pm ET, refresh, $1,204, refresh, $1207.10, refresh, $1,210.70 at 3:31pm ET

I don't believe gold has been in the $1,200 range since last December 2, 2009 when it hit $1,213. For metal market watchers, Mark Belling predicted during the summer of 2008 that gold would reach $1,200 by year end 2009. He then updated that prediction in Feb. of this year to be $1,325 by Labor Day 2010. (Silver to reach $19.75.) If the Greek debt problem expands to other downgraded countries of Portugal, Italy, Ireland, [Greece ] and Spain or PIIGS for short, Belling may need to make a new prediction.

I have long called our present recovery the falling in love with love recovery--something based on nothing more than a desire for a recovery--no real substance. Our unemployment rate is only under 10% because of all the government jobs created. The private sector still isn't really hiring.

Look at Europe with its PIIGS and huge debt. America isn't far behind--Moody's has threatened reducing our bond status. Investors look at what is happening in Europe and worry about what is happening here. In the meantime, our President, and you could add Governor Doyle and Mayor Barrett too, spend money like water. Even the CBO says our Fiscal policy is 'unsustainable'.

We cannot build a recovery on spending money we don't have. Economies at the state level aren't in much better shape. California and New York are near the brink; Wisconsin is not far behind. Wisconsin is hemorrhaging jobs, yet we still push for High Speed Rail and a 3.8 mile trolley line to mention 2 foolish expenditures.

No real recovery? Roller-coaster stock and metal markets? I think we have to start saying it: It's the Spending, Stupid, both here and abroad.

Links: Practically Speaking, Betterbrookfield, RandyMelchert, Jay Weber, Vicki McKenna, The Right View Wisconsin, CNS News, Mark Levin, Breitbart BigGovernment, The Heritage Foundation

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Wednesday, May 05, 2010

Oh Boy! Obey calls it quits!

Yes, it is true. Long-time Congressman David Obey announced today that he is not going to run for reelection. All I can say is, Thanks, David Obey, I needed that shot in the arm.

Mr. Obey is not my Congressman--I am in Jim Sensenbrenner's district--but Obey's name is known to most Wisconsinites and since the Stimulus, by many Americans.

Congressman David Obey is Chairman of the Appropriations Committee and helped craft the Stimulus Bill. One of the few areas of spending I wasn't totally against was the increase for the National Parks. What made that stimulus spending suspect was that his son, Craig Obey worked for The National Parks Conservation Association. After seeing how much time, preparation, and personnel was devoted to preparing for President Obama's visit to Yellowstone National Park last summer, the park service probably needed the increase! (Lucky us, we were there last summer during his visit--what were the odds of that?)

Obey's retirement certainly helps Republican candidate Sean Duffy. "'This move clears the way for Duffy to be the next congressman from northwest Wisconsin. His campaign has gotten national attention and he’s running a very well-oiled grassroots machine,' said National Republican Congressional Committee spokesman Tom Erickson."

It also frees up National and State monies to support another Republican candidate, such as Oshkosh businessman Ron Johnson, should he decide to run against U.S. Senator Russ Feingold.

No one can say this election year has been boring!

Links: Practically Speaking, Betterbrookfield, RandyMelchert, Jay Weber, Vicki McKenna, The Right View Wisconsin, CNS News, Mark Levin, Breitbart BigGovernment, The Heritage Foundation

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Tuesday, May 04, 2010

Red flags all over the place with Faisal the Ferti-Bomber

The more we hear about Faisal Shahzad, the Times Square fertilizer bomber, the more I have to wonder: What exactly is the NO FLY LIST for, and what exactly does Homeland Security Secretary, The System Worked Janet Napolitano do?

All the red flags were waving with Faisal: 1. Ticket purchased on the same day 2. Ticket paid for with CASH (Cost, a few thousand? Did he stop at the money machine?) 3. Was put on the NO FLY LIST. 4. Ticket was ONE WAY with ultimate destination of Islamabad, Pakistan. The only thing I don't know is, did he have any luggage? (Flying without luggage is a red flag.)

So did all those annoying jump-through-the-hoops airline security measures that we all must comply with do any good?

No, "In the end, it was secret Army intelligence planes that did him in. Armed with his cell phone number, they circled the skies over the New York area, intercepting a call to Emirates Airlines reservations, before scrambling to catch him at John F. Kennedy International Airport. " They caught what airport security and the NO FLY LIST let through!

Why? Because the airport was still working off of yesterday's list. They had failed to "act on an electronic message sent to all airlines at midday on Monday--more than eight hours before Mr. Shahzad boarded his plane--notifying them that his name had been added to the no-fly list".

I am not the only one wondering how he nearly got away. From the briefing,
  • "QUESTION: How was he able to still get on the plane and have the plane depart from the gate when he was placed on the no-fly list?
  • JANET NAPOLITANO, HOMELAND SECURITY SECRETARY: I won't get into details of timing at no-fly. But the way he was apprehended was that -- particularly since Christmas, CBP has been instituting a number of rules that enable us to further check against new data or information that is provided, even very recent information, against passenger manifests on planes."
Lest you think this guy was picked up by mistake, "Agents raiding his Bridgeport home found components for the bomb device, including firecrackers and the boxes for the alarm clocks. They also reportedly found a hand-drawn map of potential targets, including the 4, 5, and 6 trains and the Staten Island ferry. There was also evidence of his ties to Pakistan, including a Karachi ID and residency papers. " We also learned he was schooled in bomb making in his home country.

"In the end, it took officials just 53 hours and 20 minutes to solve the case. " Something the first security person at the airport could have solved in 1 minute--if they had the latest list.

I can't help but think of the verse from Psalm 127:1, Unless the LORD watches over the city, the watchmen stand guard in vain. Thank you, LORD. In this, as in so many other near miss cases, it seems we don't even have a watchman!

Links: Practically Speaking, Betterbrookfield, RandyMelchert, Jay Weber, Vicki McKenna, The Right View Wisconsin, CNS News, Mark Levin, Breitbart BigGovernment, The Heritage Foundation

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You mean Times Square bomber wasn't a Tea Partier angry about ObamaCare?

The Left has really been trying to paint the Tea Party movement members as violent. Remember the accusations that rocks were thrown through a Congressman's home office window in Cincinnati on ObamaCare weekend? (The weekend ObamaCare passed back in March.) Trouble was the office was on the 30th floor! I bet the Cincinnati Reds and Bengals scouts are still looking for that rock thrower. After all, anyone who can toss one that far would make a heck of a pitcher or quarterback! ;-)

The other hard to swallow accusation from ObamaCare weekend was that Tea Partiers hurled verbal assaults at Democrats. Pretty unusual that no one had their cell phone there to capture those epitaphs on video. Andrew Breitbart even offered a $10,000 reward to anyone providing incriminating video, but thus far, I don't think anyone collected it. (Video is of protesters shouting, Kill the bill!)

But last weekend's Times Square bomber incident escalates the accusations regarding disgruntlement over ObamaCare to a new level. This time there was a real event that involved a potentially life threatening explosion, and Mayor Bloomberg guesses "twenty-five cents" it is "somebody with a political agenda who doesn't like the health care bill or something"?
Links: Practically Speaking, Betterbrookfield, RandyMelchert, Jay Weber, Vicki McKenna, The Right View Wisconsin, CNS News, Mark Levin, Breitbart BigGovernment, The Heritage Foundation

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