Independence Week 2013: Autistic Girl’s Paintings Stun World

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This just goes to show that everybody has a spark of creativity in them. Everybody. From The Daily Mail:

What makes her achievement even more extraordinary, however, is the fact she is autistic. She cannot speak, other children unnerve and distress her, the unpredictability of the world fills her with fear and panic. But art has soothed and calmed her — a source of delight and a therapy.

‘When Iris was diagnosed with autism, the key was to find something she loved to do,’ says her mum, Arabella Carter-Johnson. ‘I’d taken her to a playgroup,  but it had been disastrous.

‘There was one particularly noisy toy train that made her very distressed. She’d have a meltdown, an uncontrolled tantrum, any time a child played with it.

Then her parents found something that worked:

She stumbled on art almost by accident. ‘One day I drew some stick men and Iris found them really funny. My mum bought an easel and we got the paint out. Iris made one brush stroke and the paint dribbled down to the bottom of the page. She was furious and burst into tears. ‘But I figured out the problem: it wasn’t the paint, it was the fact she couldn’t control it. So I put a sheet of paper on a table instead of the easel and straightaway she filled the whole page. She seemed to know intuitively what to do.’

Now Iris’ paintings are being sold as prints to people who’d like a copy, and by all accounts it is helping her interact with other people more often.

 

Independent Candidates 2008: Steve Adams

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I’m going to be changing things up a bit for IC 2008.  I will no longer list the issues and the candidate’s stance on them.  They have websites.  You can see for yourselves.  I will continue to analyize them, however.

For the first time in the IC 2008 series, the one I’ve picked to analyze has a Vice Presidential running mate!

Bios

Steve Adams is  a software designer at a local technology company.  At 42, Adams volunteers at his local Methodist and Lutheran Church.  Adams graduated from the University of Cincinnati with a B.S. in Computer Science.  In his spare time, he practices Tae Kwon Do and Okinawan Kempo.  He is a rider with the Patriot Guard Riders.

His running mate, Bob Hargis, is the Executive Director of the largest Ambulance Service in Southern Oklahoma.  Like Adams, Hargis has a record of community service, working with church groups, and going around to help people.  Mostly recently (via the website), he traveled to Kenya to teach EMT instructors, so that they can better teach their own EMTs.

Analyis of Issues

  • Adams does not support abortion.  As I’ve mentioned in the past, neither do I, but neither do I think such an issue comes under governmental control.
  • Like several of the mainstream candidates such as Mike Huckabee, Mike Gravel, and like some other independents, such as Donald K. Allen, Adams supports the Fair Tax system.  You know, the more I see the widespread support it has among candidates, from conservatives to liberals, the more it’s catching on to me.  The tax system as we have now is a mess.  And yes, we hear all kinds of rhetoric about wanting to fix it, but no real plans.  Nothing that has any meat, anyway.  So far, Fair Tax is the most thought out plan I’ve found.
  • I like Adams’ ideas on energy and the environment.  I throw up in my mouth a little when I hear the phrase “carbon credits.”  What a stupid idea.  “Let me buy these credits so I can pollute more and not be penalized!  And all kinds of corporations do it, including “do no evil” Google.  Instead, as I’ve noted before in this blog, we need a mixture of solutions.  One solution for electricity generation and one for cars isn’t going to do it.  This is America.  Bring ’em all on, I say, and may the best idea for energy independence/conservation win.
  • He is for removing the electoral college, and he has my backing there.  It needs to be scrapped.  He is also against Gerrymandering, as am I.  No matter which party is doing it, gerrymandering should be illegal.
  • I support his moderate gun control policies.  This isn’t a guy who’s like, “My god, I can’t get my gun in 5 minutes?  Gwarsh!” but he’s also not a “Take ’em all away.” liberal.  He seems to understand the need for proper background checking.  Nothing specific on checks for prior mental illness, but I’m guessing he’d be for it.
  • I’m a little confused on his stance on marriage. I understand that he seems to be against gay marriage, and says that he’d support legislation or a constitutional amendment to ban it.  Yet, later in that section, he says the government should stay out of moral issues such as marriage.  Search me, but I think a little clarity is needed there.  So, hard to analyze this one, except to say I’m against the particular stance on gay marriage.
  • Finally, war and the military.  I definitely agree with what he says on the need to be ready for action where needed.  He also thinks that if Iraq is in the midst of a civil war, then we need to get out, leave a small force for training, and turn things over to the Iraqi government.  This appears to be a little older, but with the exception of the civil war part, mostly I agree.  It is time to trim down our forces.  If al-Maliki really is making some headway, doesn’t that mean we can start leaving?  I say, leave some forces for training, and perhaps small missions, and get most of our forces out.  Bring them home.

I need to study Adams/Hargis some more.  So far, I believe they are the most intriguing independent candidates for the Presidency/VP I’ve seen so far.

That’s it for IC this time.  Unfortunately, I can’t promise another one until after Vegas.  Simply no time to do it until then.

 

Independent Candidates 2008: Blake Ashby

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In this chapter of the Independent Candidates 2008 series, I profile Blake Ashby.  Ashby is a small business owner who lives in St. Louis, Missouri.  Ashby worked for some Republican office holders in his early twenties, and for former U.S. Senator Jim Talent.  He wrote a book following the evolution of liberalism, arguing that the flavor we now know in the U.S. came from the idea of Utopianism.  Formerly a life-long Republican, he ran as a protest candidate in the 2004 Missouri primary.

Issues

National Security

Mr. Ashby would take a inclusionist approach to national security policy in the Middle East.  He would invite Iran, Syria, and Saudi Arabia to contribute troops to Iraq.  He says it is naive to keep these people out of the Iraqi stability process, arguing that the troop surge will not work, and the country would then be left to the Iranians, anyway. [Ed. Note: This platform may have been written before more recent developments in Iraq.  Though, whether the surge truly is the reason for stability is an issue for another entry.]

In Afghanistan, Ashby says the Taliban should be allowed to participate in their government, but only if they turn over Osama bin Laden.  He says it is up to the people to decide who their leaders should be, and if the Taliban recognizes the standards of international justice by giving up bin Laden, they should be allowed to participate in democratic elections.  He says if they win, it is a problem of Afghanistan government, not the U.S.

Economy

Ashby argues that the Bush tax cuts should be canceled, and that the argument that the economy will flounder if this is done is nonsense.  However, he also notes that spending must be cut back, and that the government should only spend what money it has, not what it wants to spend.  He argues that there needs to be faith in the free market to balance consumption and investment.

He also argues for tort reform, saying that attorneys need to have some liability in paying expenses if the other side should win.

United Nations

Ashby says the U.N. should create an agency to help spread the ideals of democracy.  It would evaluate countries on their political systems and spread democracy.  He argues that the U.S. flavor of democracy doesn’t need to be the message sent, just the idea of people electing their leaders.  Further, he argues that non-democratic nations should only have half a vote in the U.N.

Energy

Ashby argues that doubling the output capacity of existing nuclear energy sources is a must, and is the least disruptive way to lower our dependence on carbon-based sources.

He says that sugar should be imported at free market rates, and the trade barriers on the substance should be removed.  He argues that sugar is a much better method for bioenergy than corn.

Finally, he says that small incremental changes our the best way to reduce energy consumption, rather than a mass effort.

Welfare

Ashby says that it must be easier to take away children from parents doing a bad job.  He argues that the worst parents are setting standards for neighborhoods, and that letting them do bad jobs derides all other progress, from the economy to education.

Abortion

Ashby is for abortion, under the argument making it illegal would have an impact on the U.S. budget, and that every unwanted baby has a significant cost to the government.

Education

Ashby has several suggestions for improving education.  First, as mentioned above, he would make it easier to remove children from irresponsible parents, so that education, rather than policing in the classroom, can become more of a focus.

He argues for a repealing of No Child Left Behind, arguing that the schools are better served from a local perspective of the parents, although he agrees with a national standard.

Finally, Ashby would make it easier to remove underperforming teachers.

Commentary

I found Mr. Ashby very interesting.  He’s kind of like Ron Paul, but without the strict constitutionalist stance.  I agree with a lot that he stands for.  The economic arguments make a lot of sense.  I’ve said it before – you cannot cut taxes and then spend, spend, spend.  It hurts the economy, and the taxpayers.  It doesn’t make sense at all.

On energy, I’m nominally for increasing nuclear energy capacity, but also think that waste becomes an issue.  He doesn’t cover that issue in his platform, unfortunately.  Still, nuclear energy is not the end-all, and I think he recognizes this.   He argues that sugar is a better answer for biofuel.  I’d need to study the science behind it more, but I do know that all biofuel options have their pros and cons.

There are places I don’t agree with him, however.

I’m somewhat against his idea for Iraq.  He wants to put together Saudi, Iranian, and Syrian troops?  Talk about a mismatch.  The government of Iraq barely functions with Shia and Sunni elements together, and he wants to put in different kinds of military?  Not going to happen, I think.   As for Afghanistan, I’m not entirely in favor of letting back in power those who harbored the organization that attacked our soil.  While I understand the thought behind the idea, the Taliban is already gaining a foothold back into the country.

The U.N. idea is a nice one, but I think they have more important things to do than to go rating countries based on democracy.  I think it’s already easy to tell.  Besides, if we’re rating on how people elect their leaders, all the one who use direct elections are going before us!  I’m also not a big fan of the half-vote idea.  There are some countries out there that are still under true monarchies, but are not necessarily totalitarian or oppressive.

I’m going to remain neutral on his abortion platform, because I don’t have a fully formed opinion on his reasoning behind allowing it.  Finally, I didn’t include his platform on healthcare, because I think it was more of a mismash of what the problems are now vs. what the problems would be with true universal healthcare, rather than what he would do.

So, there you are, folks.  Blake Ashby, Independent candidate for President.

 

Independent Candidates 2008: Donald K. Allen

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In the first installment of the newly retitled “Independents Week” (since one week won’t be enough), I present the first Independent: Donald K. Allen.

First, though, a quick reminder as to how this is all going to go down.  First, and foremost, I’ll be profiling the candidate.  Basically, I’ll give a summary of the platform they’re running on.  Then, I’ll provide my own commentary on the candidate.  However, in the end, you’ll decide if you like them.

I’ve decided to keep all this solely to candidates I can confirm are actually Independents.  If they’re part of an Independent party (such as the New American Independent Party), are endorsed by a third party, or I just cannot tell if they’re an Independent, I won’t be profiling them as part of this series.  The former category because of the fact that the party they’re in or endorsed by is probably eventually going to decide on one of their candidates to run nationally, and the latter because it’s just easier for me.  I have limited time in my day, so I can’t go around pulling my hair out to decide whether someone is an Independent.  If they actually are, they’re usually proud to say so, and that makes it easy to tell.

So, with that clarified, on to Dr. Allen.

Background

Donald Allen was born in Rockford, Ill. on April 16, 1947.  He served in the U.S. Air Force for four year, enlisting in 1967.  He worked as a journalist in the Philippines and in the 467th Combat Support Group, and at George Airforce Base in California with the 479th Tactical Fighter.  He was discharge in 1971.  After spending several years as a horseshoer, he graduated from veterinary school in 1980.  He has been married three times and has two daughters.

Issues

Allen is for compulsory national service, explaining that two years in the military did him a lot of good.  He’d be for military or civilian service.  On the issue of NAFTA, he believes the government is working hard to create a common American (U.S., Canada, Mexico) economy.

In the area of foreign affairs, he is a strong believer in making sure that Islamic terrorism is not a threat to the country, and appears to support a continuation of the Iraq war, arguing that public opinion will make us lose and cost lives.  On the United Nations, my inference is that he’s not a big supporter.  He says the United Nations HQ should leave the U.S. for “remodeling” to bring the building up to code (saying he heard that is wasn’t).

On the issue of war, he is in favor of giving the generals whatever leeway they need to win (short of nukes, of course).  On immigration, he is for a guest worker program, but says we need to protect our borders, and identify all illegals residing here.  He’s also in favor of racial profiling, arguing that the current non-profiling system targets the wrong people.

His Social Security plan is a bit different than we usually see.  He wants to see a SS payments go into a true trust fund that cannot be touched by the government, along with any I.O.U.’s, and gaining interest.

His tax plan is the FairTax system, that would transform the income tax into a sales tax.

On Congressional issues, he’d like to see Congressional term limits, arguing that being on Congress too long allows them to become too used to it.  For Congressional budgets, he’s a supporter of a line-item veto.

On energy independence, he’d award one billion dollars to the company that gets us energy independent in 10 years.

His rather unique plan on health care doesn’t involve universal health care or personal health portfolios.  Instead, he says the root source of the problem are all the lawsuits that end us raising premiums.  He says implementing a “loser pays” system will stop frivilous law suits, and lower premiums.  He is in favor of continuing Medicare, SCHIP, et al. for those who need it.  He’s also in favor of teaching more home-based healthcare and first aid, arguing it’d lower costs because people who have a simple cold won’t go in to the doctors, leaving their time better suited for those who really need the doctors.   For pharmaceuticals, he would require all companies makes a “one world price”.

He says mandatory drug testing for all politicians would make them more serious about fighting drugs, and says that harsher penalties should be imposed on sellers, and their buyers publicized.

He is for national referendums on issues, saying that politicians should not have all the power.

He is for asking all K-12 teachers in the U.S. what should be done about education, and then putting those plans into implementation.

Finally, he thinks anyone who wants to leave the U.S. because they’re unhappy should be offered $25,000 to leave and never be allowed to come back.

Finally, as a veterinarian, he is a fierce advocate against puppy mills, and would take measures to shut them down.

Commentary

Dr. Allen is definitely an Independent, no doubt about that.  He subscribes to no ideology fully, and in my opinion, that’s not a bad thing.  He seems to consider his platform issue by issue, which is my definition of an Independent.

There are some things I agree with him on, and some I don’t.  I like his Social Security plan.  It’d backtrack on things a bit, and bring social security where it needs to be: a place the government can’t touch it.  These days, more and more of our social security is being spent for things it shouldn’t be.  Social security is meant to help people who are retired, and not other things.

Now, I know what you’re going to say, “But what about Medicaid and such?”  Yea, I know, a lot of those payments come from social security, too.  I just think there has to be a different way to pay for those things.  More and more people are going on plans such as
Medicaid, which drys up more money from the social security well.  It may be great now, but when we get old, and there’s no money for us, that we paid to social security?  Then it won’t look so great anymore.

I’m also a big fan of the Health Care plan.  In the past, I’ve been rather moderate on this, promoting an “in-the-middle-of-the-road” plan.  However, I think going to the source of increasing premiums, lawsuits, will help.  Now, I’m not saying stop them all.  There’s definitely a need for malpractice suits still.  But, they need to be only used for some of the most serious cases…ones where the doctors screw up royally.  I know that when we get to the day where we get to lawsuits for a medicine that causes a non-fatal but negative reaction is the day we’re all screwed.  Wait, we’re already there you say?  Damnit!

I’m also with him on national referendums.  Anything that promotes direct democracy is good in my book.  Among the current nationally known candidates, he shares this view with Mike Gravel (who also supports a FairTax plan – see, not only the domain of the Mike Huckabees of the world).

There are some places I disagree starkly, however.  Lets take racial profiling for one.  Forget allowing it to happen, it already does.  I’m no fan of racial profiling, because I believe it instills unwarranted fear into people.  Mostly, this continues to be propagated by the media, but that’s an issue for another entry.

I’m also not for publicizing buyer lists of drug sellers.  What’s the point in shaming people?  Yes, punish the sellers, but I’m going to guess the majority of drug users (hard drug users, not your college pot smoker) are there because of real addiction.  Yea, yea, I know, personal choice and responsibility, but everyone makes mistakes.  Some pay for it by sacrificing their mental and physical health.  We’re not going to humiliate cigarette smokers, are we?  Yet, many of them are just as addicted.

Finally, why should we have to pay for someone who wants to renounce their citizenship.  If they want out of this country so bad, I say good riddance.  Now, I’m not talking about someone who moves to Italy to go work or school, or just wants to experience another way of life for a while.  I’m talking about people who really hate America, and want to leave and go renounce their citizenship over it.  Want to do that?  Fine? But don’t except support from the taxpayers.  For a guy who’s against nationalized health care causing taxpayers grief, why he’d want us to pay to have someone leave is beyond me.

I’m also against his somewhat “tin-foil-hat” fear of a New World Order.  First off, we Americans appreciate our sovereignty.  So, like with the Brits, the idea of fully integrating into some kind of regional coalition, or one world government, is never going to happen.  Not in my lifetime, anyway.

That said, I’m for more economic cooperation, and fair trade, as long as it doesn’t affect us.  I can’t really make any sound judgments on NAFTA without studying it further, so I won’t.  But, if the countries around us could cooperate a little more on economics, the world might be a better place.

I like his Lincoln bedroom idea.  Our soldiers have done a lot for us.  So, I say, give ’em a night in the White House.  It’d cost air fair, and perhaps gas for a limo.  The stay would otherwise be free.  I also like the idea of getting regular Americans to stay there.  Perhaps it’d work nicely for youths.  Have ’em do an essay, and get an independent council together to decide which gets the night.

Finally, I fully support his puppy mill policy.  After all, who likes Puppy Mills?

Well, that’s Donald K. Allen for you.  I’ve given you some of his positions and my take on him.  Now you decide.

Stay tuned tomorrow for another Independent Candidate.