Monday, July 30, 2012

A Tale of Two Visits

This past Sunday, July 29th, I awakened to find pictures in numerous news sources of Mitt Romney's visit to Israel and with Benjamin Netanyahu.  The aura of respect and amiability was easily recognizable from the photos alone, and my mind rushed to contrast this visit with one from 2011.

First, we should remember that Obama prefaced the May 2011 visit with an extraordinarily arrogant assertion that Israel, in a move toward peace with Palestine, should recognize and return to the pre-1967 borders. Friends of Israel in America and around the world responded with incredulity and anger. Following such an ill-conceived and imperious speech, I was not at all surprised to see this chilly photo emerge (right: Benjamin Netanyahu and President Obama).

At this critical time, just over 3 months 'till the presidential election, all those pro-Israel and Jewish voters should take the time to remember that Obama, in his 1st term found the opportunity to visit some 32 different countries on 47 trips. However, the one very important country and long-time ally not visited? Israel. We should remember that Obama purposely bowed to Saudi King Abdullah, told outgoing Russian president Dmitry Medvedev that Vladimir Putin should give him more space until after the election, and foolishly proclaimed that Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez was no special security threat!

Thus, Sunday's stories and photos were a stark contrast, chronicling an amicable reception for Mitt Romney, a long-time friend of Netanyahu and staunch supporter of Israel. Romney, unlike Obama, followed his visit with Israel's PM by delivering an assertively pro-Israel speech wherein he declared Jerusalem the capital of Israel. The GOP presidential candidate stated that the strong alliance between America and Israel is "...a force for good in the world..." and "...should make every American proud."

I hope every voter in America, and in particular every voter concerned with the future security of Israel and America's unwavering commitment of friendship and steadfast support for that state, is listening and watching! We must choose between 2 disparate candidates:  either an incumbent who has emboldened America's and Israel's enemies, or a candidate who believes in a bold and exceptional America--an America that supports in every way its long-standing allies.  The choice could not be more clear:  Obama who habitually apologizes for America and insults Israel, or Romney who proudly proclaims America's greatness and admires the democratic values and true friendship of Israel.  Here's hoping all voters will choose the latter!

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Twitter for Newbies!


In the last few months I have received numerous queries concerning twitter from those who are new to the medium.  Questions range from which app to use to "what good is twitter anyway?".  So here goes--this will be a "Twitter 101" of sorts, and of course I'd love to get this out to all conservatives everywhere!

Twitter is a terrific tool for organizing, announcing and energizing a community of friends/patriots. The first step is creating your account at twitter.com.  I always recommend that folks immediately upload an avitar (picture or graphic associated with your user account) that will be unique and either feature a pic of the user, or a graphic that represents the spirit/worldview of the user.  Next, create a bio which succinctly captures who you are and what you believe.  Anyone looking at my bio should have no doubt that I am a conservative woman of faith.

While the twitter web site is the site for managing your account and settings, I rarely tweet from or view  tweets at that site.  My preferred app is Tweetdeck Version 0.38.1 (the new version of Tweetdeck was NOT improved by the new owner, twitter).

Tweetdeck Version 0.38.1 for mac:    http://bit.ly/OdTlJ8
Tweetdeck Version 0.38.1 for PC:      http://cnet.co/SP3VuQ

I prefer to have 3 columns: first, my mentions (tweets to and retweets of @tamij); second, my direct messages/dm's ; and third, my column for good friends and #hewitt (hashtag for the Hugh Hewitt Radio show).  Tweetdeck allows you to upload pictures and video, schedule tweets in advance, block users and report spam, follow, etc. This is the app of choice for power users.

For my mobile devices (mine is a Blackberry Bold), my twitter app of choice is UberSocial:

http://ubersocial.com/

There is a platform for Blackberry, iPhone, and android.  UberSocial is, in my opinion THE best twitter mobile app and allows many of the same features as tweetdeck.  I've used this app since it's early Beta days, and none of the others I have tried compare in ease of use and functionality.  There is a free version and an ad-free paid version which costs $4.99--completely worth the minimal expense.

Now that you've got your twitter infrastructure set up, what do you do?  This is where the fun begins!  Consider twitter to be a cyber "student union" or other such "hang out" where you and friends/like-minded folks critique a speech, share information, commend one-another and get help.  Twitter is a cyber bully-pulpit that can disseminate information almost instantaneously!

I often tweet out famous quotes (always being careful to attribute the source).  You'll find that linking quotes, speeches, video and the like is a cinch with tweetdeck once you enable the "auto-shrink" function.  I also have a bitly account (  http://bitly.com ) which I would recommend for all of you. Being able to control your URL-shrinking pretty much eliminates the "hijacking" of links to untoward sites.

Consider the power of exponential reach that each of you can have with twitter:  our wonderful message of patriotism and conservatism can reach more people in less time than any other unpaid venue.  Thus, average citizens (like me) can get information out to thousands of people.  I have over 11,500 followers, and each of those have scores/hundreds/thousands of followers...so when I tweet anything of import, it could potentially reach 11,500 to the nth degree!!!

To properly use twitter, you'll want to always follow your message with a hashtag:  twitter queries and sorts on hashtags.  Here are some of the common ones I use daily:

#hewitt = The Hugh Hewitt Radio Show http://www.hughhewitt.com/blog
#tcot = Top Conservatives on Twitter  http://www.topconservativesontwitter.net
#sgp = Smart Girl Politics  http://smartgirlpolitics.org
#LNYHBT = Let Not Your Heart Be Troubled  http://www.hannity.com

Every day there are other new hashtags trending dependent upon the current news and events. For instance #MemorialDay, #troops, #SEALS, #November, #GOP, etc.  Savvy users on twitter often create a hashtag as part of the 140 character message to lend emphasis and humor!  See the example of my friend @CCC6:





As you become more proficient at tweeting (the 140 character constraint forces one to be succinct), you'll find yourself remarking on current events, announcing conservative meet-ups, and tweeting back and forth with friends from around the country and the world. Suddenly you can watch the Super Bowl commercials with friends located thousands of miles away! People from across the nation can rejoice or mourn in response to the events of the day.

There are also many apps which allow you to tweet out songs and be a virtual DJ, such as blip.fm or grooveshark.com . Simply register, search for songs by title or artist, compose your tweet (to the general stream or an individual) and add the hashtags. Suddenly all of your followers can have your music playing while they tweet or work! (see my account for examples blip.fm/tamij )

My most consistent and long-running use of twitter is to tweet out the daily line-up for the Hugh Hewitt Radio Show, which I've been doing since early 2009. There are many people who frequently change their avs (often to mirror a trending topic of the day), however, I maintain the same av everywhere. People looking for the show line-up watch for my av about mid-day and know I will have the line-up with appropriate and timely links I've found for articles, books or video.

One last thing--twitter's format allows only a 140 character message, which includes the hashtags. There are a few good apps out there which create a link for longer messages such as http://www.twitlonger.com . Also, in an effort to keep tweets short, hundreds of acronyms have been spawned. Here is a comprehensive acronym dictionary: netlingo

I sincerely hope you find this information helpful as you use twitter to replicate your message to the world! At a time when the news cycle is rapid fire, new media allows once isolated people to jump in the fray and make a difference! After all, words matter: they define and disseminate concepts and precepts, and can effect the hearts and minds of a neighbor or a nation.

[Addendum: please follow @tamij on twitter and tweet/dm any questions you may have. More writings by Tami can be found at her website TribbleNews.com (joint venture with Michael Withem, web designer extraordinaire)]



















Sunday, July 15, 2012

The Village Fails Every Time

Summer has finally arrived (for the moment) in Portland, Oregon, and with it the frenetic pace of sports and activities that must be compressed into a couple short months.  Rain-outs must be rescheduled and played, moms must quickly stock up on sunscreen and electrolyte-replacing beverages.


Last week I had the pleasure of watching a young cousin's baseball team play.  The team is from a beautiful little town in the Willamette Valley--a small community settled by not a few Norwegian immigrants (including my relatives) and comprised of several, large, farming families. Many of these boys, though only 13 or 14, have already been seasoned by a couple summers of hard farm work.


I smile as I recall the joyful abandon with which they played.  I was proud to be related to one of the team members as each boy displayed rapidly-developing skill, but better yet, maintained consistently good attitudes and modeled true sportsmanship.  Their small-town values, parent-taught work ethic and slightly-clumsy, but respectful manners reaffirmed the absolute imperative of parental instruction.


Unfortunately, in other venues--the grocery store, the swimming pool, the park--I routinely see what seems to an epidemic of kids raised by single parents (who need our help and prayers) and Hilary's touted "Village".  I cringe as boys and girls disobey, fuss, whine and demand their own way.  These youngsters seem unable to look an adult in the eye, seem unable to live without a smartphone, and seem to believe they are the center of the universe!


The educators began changing things decades ago:  rote memorization was deemed inappropriate, corporal punishment cruel, and respect for elders outdated. Phonics were replaced with whole language; A through F grading replaced by some nebulous Standards-Based Report Cards.  In sports, every kid on every team was given a medal to hang around their neck, win or lose.  The new goal of education and child-rearing seemed to be sterling self-esteem, rather than hard-won achievement.


These changes might not have been quite so damaging were kids not being raised in families often living far from extended family, often with a single parent trusting the educators to know more than they concerning child development.  Add to all that the extreme compartmentalization by age in everything they do, and we're left with youngsters who seem bored with anyone not their exact age.  Not only bored, we seem to have a generation who are not happy unless everything revolves around and for them.


Contrast that with all of my cousins' upbringing (and my own):  all raised by moms and dads who formed a team and nurtured us with love and boundaries.  We were also part of a large extended family, many of the households within walking distance.  The rules were mostly the same from household to household: unconditional love and yet the expectation of proper and respectful behavior.  We were taught to work hard from the earliest years, to always be polite and respectful of others, to always be grateful, and to take ourselves lightly.


The disparity of ages made us all equally appreciative of same-age cousins or great-grandparents, aunts and uncles or younger siblings. Being at a family gathering meant hours of fun:  great food and fellowship was enhanced by the wonderful stories our elders recounted.  And a fascinating observation:  the day in and day out requirement of effort and respect, of doing our best in everything we did...well, the result was a bunch of kids with healthy self-confidence balanced by humility.  It wasn't all about our "self-esteem" because we were not the center of the universe!


While I'm at it, we were also taught in word and deed to have a servant's heart--that it was more blessed to give than receive.  When I think of how giving my parents, grandparents, great aunts and uncles were, I'm ashamed to do less. Their magnanimous hearts and self-deprecating humor were priceless and shining examples of how to live well:  they taught us good character!  I completely agree with Dennis Prager, "Society's sole interest should be creating people of good character, not people with high self-esteem. And good character is created by teaching self-control, not self-esteem."


Perhaps it's too late to undo the damage of several generations of progressive villagers. But perhaps it's not?  With the increase in charter schools and home-schooled children, maybe we're seeing the stirrings of a parental movement toward time-tested, traditional education and societal values. The stakes are too high to abdicate our children to the village; our society and form of government absolutely require people of character.  If I have learned anything in my lifetime, it's this: solid families raise people of good character...the experimental village, however, fails to raise anything other than unwarranted self-esteem.








Sunday, July 8, 2012

Let's Re-Calibrate Their Priorities!

Sitting here, looking at the pines through my window on this picture-perfect, sunny Oregon day, I wonder what I can possibly write that will make a difference?  I was born in this beautiful state, and outwardly it looks much the same now as it did all those years ago: breath-taking coastline vistas, rugged mountain ranges, valleys plentiful with fields of grass seed and produce, and high desert country to satisfy the most ardent outdoorsman.

And yet, beneath nature's facade is a state rife with systemic economic failure.  The mean state unemployment rate (8.4%) is above the national average (8.2%).  However, some areas, such as my home town of Bend (Deschutes county) are currently at a dismal 10.3% unemployment despite boasting some of the nation's finest fishing, skiing, boating, hunting, golf and other recreational activities. Oregon also carries a debt of load of over $34.6 bil, in spite of an endless store of possible revenue sources.

How is it that a state so plentiful in natural resources carries such an overwhelming debt burden? Consider that 11 million acres of Oregon timberland (40% of all forests) is now sequestered and sheltered from harvest by the feds!  So the elites in DC, many of whom have never visited our fair state, nor met a logger, are presumptively declaring much of Oregon a national park of sorts. Thus, our renewable resources are now an aging, over-managed tinder-box listed as a trophy for some ecologically-minded, endangered species-touting, beltway do-gooder.

Further, Oregon's state business taxes and regulatory fees have made this the 42nd best state for business.  That's 42nd out of 50! (no Obama, not 57) A state of 98,380 square miles (9th largest state), and population of only 3.87 million is lagging behind 41 other states!  We have rich soil, a wonderful growing season, pure water and air, ports, rivers, forests and hard-working Oregonians, and yet are tethered to restrictive policies and regulations.  At this point in Oregon's great history the only creatures flourishing may be the poor Northern Spotted Owl and Mountain Pine Beetle!

For some 35-40 years my state has been the special project of non-sensical, eco-fanatics who have put everything but people first!  Whole logging towns have become skeletons of the thriving communities they once were.  Driving over the scenic North Santiam Pass from Bend to Salem, once vibrant townships have given way to boarded up businesses, and awe-inspiring forests resemble spotty, post-chemo hair growth following fires of beetle-ravaged pines.

I realize this is just one state--my state.  But Oregon is surely a reasonable representation of the eventual result of unbridled, unjustified and unprecedented progressive ruling and legislation.  Those gate-keepers--the education and media elite--have succeeded in grooming a generation that sincerely believe humans are the avowed enemy of the planet.  In their upside-down world-view, whales and seals are more important than babies and old-growth timber is infinitely more precious than old loggers.

We are now reaping what these entrenched environmentalists have sown:  a severe economic recession as well as mis-handled and over-managed natural resources! I would bet cash money that the average logger has a far greater knowledge and respect for the outdoors and our forests than the typical beltway,  save-the-planet, bureaucrat or activist.  The farmers I know here love the land and understand being a good neighbor and a good caretaker of said land, as well as making a profit from their crops.

For too many years we, and by we I mean hard working, America-loving people, have been unengaged and allowed the left to take-over our schools, our government and our institutions.  The progressives have improved nothing except their eco and ideologue scorecards. Well it's time.  It's time for all of us supposed "fly-over" citizens to wake up and make our voices heard.  It's time we engaged and fought for what we know to be right and good and true. It's time to educate those beltway legislators and re-calibrate their priorities:  people come first!