Friday, August 27, 2010

Sheepdog on the Warpath - part 3, The Finale - The GOP

One afternoon, over 30 years ago, I was sitting on the couch at home with my mom watching TV. I was only nine years old but yet I was old enough to understand that in this country, there's basically two sides when it comes to politics - the Democrats and the Republicans. We were watching a speech by Ronald Reagan during his 1979 presidential campaign and two things jumped out at me about him - his wisdom and his passion about what he believed in. I asked my mom what party he belonged to and she said, "the Republican." I thought, "then, that's what I am," and I have remained one to this day. As I grew older, I began to understand what this thing of "Republicanism" was really all about. Reagan taught that Republicans :
  1. believe government should be small with limited powers, 
  2. believe taxes should be low,
  3. believe in the free market / capitalism ,
  4. support individual liberty,
  5. support a strong national defense,
  6. have a moral compass (know the difference between right and wrong),
  7. are pro-life, 
  8. are pro-2nd Amendment,
  9. should treat people well,
  10. believe in individual responsibility, and
  11. believe in strictly following rules and laws. 
However, lately, I've been disappointed and somewhat angry with some of my fellow Republicans in regards to their votes on bills, stances on issues, their morals, and other things. They've gotten away from their roots and the values that President Reagan held dear. I've wondered several times, "Is this the best this party has got to offer now ??"

For instance, consider the following :
  • U.S. Senator (Arizona) and 2008 Presidential nominee John McCain - He's a great man and a military hero, but some of his votes on bills in the Senate have been peculiar. For instance, he voted in favor of The North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) which has resulted in thousands of American jobs being transferred out of the country. He voted in favor of the financial system bailout. He also supported Cap and Trade and is in favor of restricting gun sales between private individuals.
  • U.S. Senator (Tennessee) Lamar Alexander - voted in favor of the financial system bailout, in favor of Sonya Sotomayor's confirmation to the U.S. Supreme Court, and against carry permit holders being able to carry concealed handguns to protect themselves and their families in National Parks. He also voted in favor of confirming John Holdren as Obama's Science Czar.
  • Mitt Romney, former Massachusetts Governor and 2008 Presidential candidate - raised numerous taxes and fees as governor and instituted "RomneyCare" which forced all Massachusetts residents to have health care insurance. RomneyCare has been a disaster as it's costs are skyrocketing and rationing is taking place.
  • Rick Scott, 2010 Republican nominee for Florida Governor - left the Columbia / HCA hospital chain he founded after they were hit for a $1.7 Billion fine for Medicare fraud.
  • Bill Haslam, 2010 Republican nominee for Tennessee Governor - The Haslam Family supported instituting a state income tax during former Governor Don Sundquist's administration. His stance on the 2nd Amendment is sketchy. At one time he was a member of Michael Bloomberg's Mayors Against Illegal Guns group which is inappropriately named. It is actually a anti-gun group that wants to ban all guns. He only resigned from the group and joined the NRA when he decided to run for governor because he knew Tennesseans would not vote for an anti-gunner for governor. Furthermore, when Knoxville opted-out of Tennessee's local park carry law, Haslam said he was o.k. with it.
  • Tennessee State Senator Mae Beavers - voted in favor of tax increases on nursing homes and HMO's which will ultimately be passed onto consumers by these entities. Furthermore, she has spoken multiple times on how she opposes "stimulus money" but then will take advantage of photo ops with projects paid for by "stimulus money." In addition, she voted in favor of the anti-gun Jimmy Naifeh for Speaker of the Tennessee House on four separate occasions.
  • South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford - caught in affair with woman from Argentina. Many of his trips to see her were at taxpayers' expense. 
  • Linda Elam, Republican nominee for Tennessee House of Representatives District 57 - during her tenure as Mt. Juliet, TN mayor, she has on multiple occasions asked to suspend the rules of order in order to do things her way. She also attempted to get the City Commission to approve a raise for her and benefits equivalent to those of full-time city employees. Shortly after those were voted down, she announced she was running for the Tennessee House. Apparently, she's determined to get those benefits some way.
These are only a few examples. I could go on and on showing how The Republican Party has time and time again given the voters less than desirable candidates and expected us to vote for them anyway. It's gotten to the point where our only option is to choose from the lesser of the evils instead of actually voting for a good conservative candidate. I now understand how Ronald Reagan felt when he switched from the Democratic Party to the Republican saying, "I didn't leave the Democratic Party. The party left me." The Republican Party has done the same thing to me.

For too long, myself and many other Republicans have walked into the voting book and looked for the "R" beside a name. It's one reason we are stuck with as many lousy Republicans as we are Democrats. I will not do that anymore. I will do my research on the candidates and pick the one that most matches my principles and values. If the Republican doesn't, I'll vote for the Independent, if they do. If there's not an Independent, I may just vote for the Democrat as a protest vote. However, it won't be as much a vote for the Democrat as it will be a vote against the Republican that doesn't match the principles and values I expect out of a Republican. It'll be my way of saying, "I'm not gonna take it anymore."
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    Thursday, August 26, 2010

    The Sheepdog is hitting some nerves

    It appears that my series this week, Sheepdog on the Warpath, is really hitting some nerves. Some folks ain't too happy about it. I received a rather defensive comment to yesterday's post and the Wilson Co. (TN) Tea Party (WCTP) has removed the link to my blog from their website. Both the "commenter" and the WCTP have completely missed the point. Therefore, let me spell it out in plain, simple English.

    We have all supported people or groups who have at some point, in our opinion, lost their way and / or let us down. Sometimes we have called them on it and held them accountable and other times we have let it go. The problem with letting it go is that by doing so nothing changes and the person or group sometimes ends up doing something detrimental to itself or its cause. The purpose of my series this week has been constructive criticism hoping that the parties will get their act back together. Usually, when folks get upset over being called on something, it's because you are telling the truth. Unfortunately, it appears that in this instance the words of Jack Nicholson's character in the movie A Few Good Men are right on target and they "... can't handle the truth !"

    The folks upset consider themselves to be conservatives. So, if they were upset by yesterday's post, they're really gonna be hot when tomorrow's post concerning the GOP hits. It's gonna be ugly.

    P.S. The WCTP apparently removed my blog link from their website because they were offended by yesterday's post. Therefore, I have removed their links from my blog sidebar, too, because their actions indicate that they do not intend to take my constructive criticism to heart and change. I wish them the best.
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    Wednesday, August 25, 2010

    Sheepdog on the Warpath - Part 2, Tea Party or Political Party ?

    As you read through this week's series, Sheepdog on the Warpath, you will encounter a recurring theme. I believe a number of groups in this country who were once doing great things have lost their way. My goal this week is to call them on it in hopes they will see the error of their ways and get back on the right track.

    The current Tea Parties received their inspiration from the early American colonists' protests against the British Government. Those protests were based upon issues and policies.  Barack Obama's residency in the White House has been as good for the Tea Party groups as it has for gun and ammo manufacturers. Their numbers are rising and the Lefties are up in arms. The Lefties have referred to the Tea Partiers as "Tea Baggers," racists, and "a wing of the Republican Party." I've been to some of the events and met Republicans, Independents, and even Democrats there. Not exactly the "wing-nut" gathering the Nutty Lefties claim it to be. Or is it ?? I didn't think so until I attended the April 15, 2010 tea party event held by the Wilson Co. (TN) Tea Party (WCTP) in Mt. Juliet, TN. Some things I witnessed there that day gave credibility to the Lefties' "Republican wing" claim. The following day, I sent the following e-mail to the event organizer, Sherrie Orange, president of the WCTP, in an effort to express my concerns :

    I hope you are doing well and getting some rest after all the planning and preparation for yesterday's Tea Party at Charlie Daniels Park. I never heard from anyone about helping out with parking so I assumed you had it covered. However, I did attend and would like to congratulate you on putting together another great event this year.

    However, I just wanted to touch base with you about a concern I had from yesterday. The history of Tea Parties, going all the way back to the Boston Tea Party, has been one of protest against government tyranny. It has been about reminding the government about our rights, its role, and where the boundaries are. It has had a spirit of neutrality not taking the side of any party. The only side the movement has taken has been the side of liberty, freedom, and the constitution. However, I noticed a bias in the words that many of the speakers shared with us yesterday. For example :
    • Bob Pope endorsed Liet. Governor Ron Ramsey in the Governor's race.
    • A.J. McCall endorsed Mark Pody in the TN House District 46 race.
    • Steve Gill basically endorsed Mae Beavers in the TN Senate District 17 race.
    I'll be honest. I generally vote Republican because I am a Conservative, but there are some Republicans that need to go just as bad as the Progressive Liberal Socialist Democrats because they have forgotten their conservative roots. Furthermore, let me say that I have nothing against Ron Ramsey, Mark Pody, or Mae Beavers and have met and know all of them. Ramsey and Beavers each have solid conservative records. However, both of them have primary opponents who also have solid conservative records. Therefore, in the spirit of fairness, I believe that yesterday the Wilson Co. Tea Party should have either remained neutral or give each candidate equal time.

    Lastly, since the Tea Parties started last year, the leftist-socialists have been claiming that they are nothing but a "arm of the GOP." You and I know that is not true as the Tea Partiers include Independents, Republicans, and even some Democrats who are unhappy with the path their party is going down. However, I'm afraid that if we continue to see the blatant bias and public endorsements of candidates at the movement's events, like what I witnessed yesterday, it will only give the lefties the evidence they need to make their case that this special movement is an "arm of the GOP." We can't afford to have that happen as it will take away any credibility we have.
    Johnny Black

    I received a response from Ms. Orange which said that she was disappointed by the small crowd, but it did not address my concerns about "neutrality."

    Over the last few months, I have noticed other evidence that the WCTP is more of a political party than a Tea Party. They, led by Ms. Orange, were less than neutral in the Republican Primary for Tennessee's 17th District Senate seat. For instance, the WCTP scheduled a debate between the candidates for the Tennessee District 17 State Senate race. The moderator for the debate was talk show host Steve Gill, a close friend of Beavers. According to Beavers' campaign finance disclosure report, her campaign paid Gill's company, Gill Media, over $12,000 for "radio" during the primary campaign. No wonder they're close friends.
    Beavers with Gill at one of her fundraisers.
    Rep. Susan Lynn, one of Beavers' primary opponents, accepted the invitation to attend the debate with one condition - a moderator other than Gill be selected. Lynn's request was due to bias shown towards her by Gill in prior comments and his friendship with Beavers. Orange refused to change moderators so Lynn wisely chose not to participate in the debate. Based upon the evidence, who could blame her ?? If Orange had truly wanted to have a fair and honest debate in a neutral setting, she would have honored Lynn's request.

    In addition, in the July 16, 2010 addition of the WCTP newsletter, there was a comparison of Sen. Beavers and Rep. Lynn's voting records on several issues. The comparison, however, is somewhat deceptive because it does not tell the complete story on some of the compared votes, but I digress. Some of the deception is addressed in my previous blog posts under the Mae Beavers label. The interesting thing about this newsletter is that of the 11 votes compared, 7 of them, including the first 4 in consecutive order, also appear on a campaign brochure distributed by Sen. Beavers (see below number coded copies). Is this another coincidence or favoritism ?? Does the fact that Ms. Orange has made campaign contributions to Sen. Beavers in the past mean anything in regards to this ?? What about the fact that Orange is the former Vice-Chairman and Chairman of the Wilson Co. Republican Party ??

    See below Beavers' brochure and pages 1, 3, 4, and 9 of WCTP newsletter. Similarities are numbered. 
    The purpose of the e-mail was to recruit volunteers to work on Mr. Spivak's campaign. The question is did the WCTP send out such recruiting e-mails for any of the other 5th District Congressional candidates ?? The answer is a resounding NO. In fact, when I e-mailed one of the other candidates and asked him if he had been given the same opportunity as Mr. Spivak, he said no. That doesn't seem fair. If the WCTP is actually a neutral, unbiased Tea Party organization, wouldn't you think they would offer the same service to the other candidates ?? In addition, the candidate I contacted told me that even though he was on the WCTP's e-mail list, he didn't even receive the e-mail about Spivak. Accident or an intentional omission ?? Furthermore, before anyone asks, the answer is yes, I can document the e-mail exchange between myself and the other candidate. I'll be happy to provide a copy to anyone who would like to see it.

    In summary, there are a number of good Tea Party groups out there who are focused on holding politicians accountable for their votes, their stance on the issues, and for following or not following the Constitution. However, it appears that others, such as the WCTP, are indeed working as an arm of the Republican Party and / or on behalf of particular candidates. All that does is give the Lefties who criticize the Tea Party movement the evidence they need to make their case. I'm afraid it will ultimately lead to the downfall of the Tea Party movement which will be a shame. Hopefully, the groups that have gotten "political" will get back on track before that happens, because they offer a much needed service to the electorate. They need to be focused on issues and not playing politics or showing favoritism toward particular politicians and candidates. Fair is fair.
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    Monday, August 23, 2010

    Sheepdog on the Warpath - Part 1, The NRA

    As I promised last week, I'm kicking of this week's series, Sheepdog on the Warpath, today. Today the target locked onto is The National Rifle Association (NRA). As a firearms enthusiast and a firm believer in The Right to Keep and Bear Arms, it was a tough post to write and one that I really did not want to do. However, it will become evident very quickly why I did it. The NRA has lost it's way and needs to be held accountable.

    I have a number of bones to pick with the NRA. However, the last straw was their involvement in The Disclose Act. Back in January, The U.S. Supreme Court overturned The McCain-Feingold Act with it's decision in the Citizen United vs. Federal Election Commission case (see my February 5, 2010 post titled "Did Obama Make A Tactical Error ?"). Afterwards, the Congressional Democrats announced very quickly that they would begin composing new legislation to re-impose the ban on corporate political speech during elections. They did so with The Disclose Act. However, the new bill contained exemptions for large organizations such as the NRA. When the bill first began making it's way through the U.S. House of Representatives, the NRA fought vigorously against it because they were firmly in the bill's crosshairs. Suddenly in mid-June, it was announced that the NRA had been given a special exemption from the bill in exchange for not openly opposing and fighting against it. In press releases and other statements, the NRA has stated that no deal was struck between them and Congress. However, in an interview with Wayne LaPierre, NRA Executive Vice President, on the Lars Larson radio show (click here and then scroll down to listen), LaPierre never directly answers Mr. Larson's question when asked whether or not a deal was struck. Furthermore, LaPierre basically says that the NRA will do whatever it takes to protect The Right to Keep and Bear Arms. Apparently, that includes sacrificing the First Amendment protection of free speech.

    The NRA has taken a lot of heat over The Disclose Act from folks both on the right and the left (please see article on Reuters.comGroups oppose NRA exemption in campaign bill). Some have said there was a deal and others have said there was not (please see article by Timothy P. Carney on WashingtonExaminer.comNRA isn't the villain in free speech fight). However, LaPierre's refusal to directly answer Mr. Larson's questions settled the debate for me because it told me that a deal was made. So, on August 12, 2010, I prepared the following letter listing a number of grievances I have with the NRA and mailed it to Mr. LaPierre :

    Dear Mr. LaPierre,

    I've been around firearms all my life but did not join the NRA until the 1990s shortly after Bill Clinton won the White House. I resigned my NRA Membership after the passage of the Brady Bill and the Assault Weapons Ban because I felt the NRA had not worked hard enough to keep those bills from passing. Around late 2007 or early 2008, I rejoined the NRA to give it a second chance and because the Democrats were nominating an anti-gunner, either Barack Obama or Hillary Clinton, for the presidency. I believed re-joining the NRA was the best way to keep informed about future anti-gun legislation.

    The NRA has blown its second chance as I'm upset with it again for several reasons. First, why does the NRA continue giving good grades and endorsements to my Congressman, Jim Cooper (TN-5) ?? The NRA-PVF website gave him a B- in 2002, a B and the endorsement in 2004, a B+ in 2006, and an A and with the endorsement in 2008. Cooper voted in favor of the Brady Bill and for the Assault Weapons Ban before he voted against it. He only voted against the Assault Weapons Ban after the funding to put additional police officers on the street was stripped from it. He was fine with stripping gun owners of their God-given rights as protected by The Second Amendment as long as additional cops were on the street. Apparently, he did not believe gun owners were capable of protecting themselves so he supported less freedom and a bigger nanny state. Tennessee's gun owners were so angry over these votes that we gave him an "F" and voted him out of office in 1994 as the NRA should have done. Unfortunately, Tennesseans voted him back into Congress in 2002. In 2008, Cooper's Republican challenger for re-election, Gerard Donovan, was a gun rights supporter and a Tennessee concealed carry permit holder, but the NRA backed Cooper. It's only a matter of time until Cooper WILL betray you and gun owners again. Since his 2008 re-election, he has voted in favor of ObamaCare, the bailouts, and the stimulus bills. He's part of the reason the country is falling apart. Thanks for nothing. Strike one NRA.

    Secondly, I'm upset with the NRA over The Disclose Act. This law's purpose was to infringe on the political speech of various organizations. On June 15, 2010, I received an e-mail from the National Association for Gun Rights (NAGR) stating that the NRA had struck a deal with Pelosi, Reid, etc. to exempt it from the bill's provisions as long as the NRA did not publicly oppose the bill. Did they promise no future gun control bills, too ? If you believe there will not be any, I've got some ocean front property here in hills of Tennessee that I'll make you a great deal on. Maybe Congressman Barney Frank and Sen. Chris Dodd can help you get a great, low rate on the mortgage, too. I've done my homework by reading all the NRA press releases and e-mails claiming that no such deal was struck. I've listened to your interview with Lars Larsen on his radio show and read your comments elsewhere which basically state that the NRA will do anything to protect The Second Amendment. I do not believe the NRA's denials no deal was made. Apparently, the NRA took notes from Sen. Ben Nelson and Sen. Mary Landrieu selling out the First Amendment thinking it would protect the Second. You've let down the American people and we expect better. One part of The Constitution and our freedom can NEVER be sacrificed in order to protect another. Such a deal will only result in us losing all of our freedoms. Strike two NRA.

    Thirdly, I've got a big problem with your "Friendly to Incumbents Policy." The NRA endorsed Congressman Jim Cooper in 2008 (see above) in accordance with this policy. The same policy was applied this year in the Republican Primary for Tennessee Senate District 17. The NRA endorsed the incumbent Mae Beavers over State Representative Susan Lynn. Both of them have been rated A+ by the NRA on numerous occasions. Some would say they have an identical pro-gun record. However, that is not true. While a member of the Tennessee House of Representatives, Mae Beavers voted in favor of Rep. Jimmy Naifeh being Speaker of the House on four occasions. During his gun-hating career, Naifeh has single-handedly killed numerous pro-gun bills, including ones that would have expanded Tennessee's carry laws. Yet the NRA endorsed Beavers anyway. Rep. Lynn, on the other hand, has always supported gun owners. In fact, my first contact ever with Rep. Lynn was to ask her to oppose, which she did, an anti-gun bill working its way through the Tennessee Legislature. In regards to the "Friendly to Incumbents Policy," the argument could be made that both were incumbents in this race since both were holding seats in the Tennessee General Assembly at the time. In this race, the NRA should have given them both A's or A+'s and issued a statement to the effect that gun owners would have been safe voting for either. Beavers definitely should not have been given the endorsement and I would argue that her grade should have been lowered due to her support of Naifeh. Any vote(s) supporting an anti-gun colleague for Speaker of the House, as Beavers did, should earn you an F every time. Strike three. The NRA is out.

    Lastly, you have been hypocritical in the letters I have received from you. For instance :
    • In a March 30, 2009 letter offering the membership in the Golden Eagles, you wrote, "And, the NRA's Golden Eagles are leaders who see the big picture - that, in the long run, the biggest danger we face is the gradual chipping away of our rights bit by bit in what our friend Charlton Heston long ago called a 'cultural war'.
    • In a December 4, 2009 renewal letter to me, you said, "And the one organization in America today that can defend not just the Second Amendment, but freedom itself is the NRA."
    • You also said in that December 4, 2009 that, "Your (membership) card says that you're part of one of the most powerful armies of freedom-fighters that the world has ever seen. An army that takes no prisoners ... An army that stands up for its friends and relentlessly attacks its enemies ... An army whose highest allegiance is not to any individual or any political party but only to the cause of freedom."
    I have pointed out, above, how the NRA has contradicted the quoted passages above by not fighting for freedom (The Disclose Act Deal), not attacking its enemies (endorsements of Jim Cooper), and not stood up for its friends (withheld endorsement from Lynn and gave to Beavers). The NRA has also aided in "the chipping away of our rights" by not standing for and proclaiming it's 100% opposition to ANY infringement of free speech in regards to The Disclose Act. For these reasons, I am giving my resignation, effective immediately, in the NRA as a member and as a Golden Eagle. I have previously done so via telephone but felt it should be done in writing, too. I will also be encouraging all of my blog readers, Facebook friends, family, and others resign, too. There are other Second Amendment advocacy groups locally and nationally that fight for and support our rights fairly and without sacrificing any part of The Constitution. I am also requesting a full refund of my Golden Eagles dues for this year. The check can be mailed to my address above.

    The NRA's policies, grades, endorsements, and backroom deals have betrayed mine and other Americans trust and damaged our Republic and Constitution. Please do NOT send me any more magazines, renewal notices, or other solicitations. If you do, they will be marked " REFUSED - RETURN TO SENDER" and returned to you. The NRA is as out of touch with everyday Americans, such as myself, as Congress. Charlton Heston has to be rolling over in his grave after The Disclose Act deal. Your failure to adamantly oppose that bill was a slap in the face to our military men and women. They sacrifice time with their families and often their very lives to protect and defend our freedoms and the very Constitution that the NRA shredded with The Disclose Act deal. Your organization is no better than Obama and the other Socialists, Marxists, and Communists in D.C. The NRA is a hypocritical joke.

    Johnny Black,
    Patriot and ex-NRA Member

    Since mailing the letter to Mr. LaPierre, I have found a website by the name of which details even more "indiscretions" of the NRA. I have not had the time yet to go through and confirm the site's claims, but I plan to. I encourage everyone, especially gun owners, to do your own homework and research these issues for yourself.

    In my opinion, the NRA is caught up in the same lust for power and money that is infecting others in D.C. I have given them two chances. They have failed both times. I will continue to advocate for The Right to Keep and Bear Arms. However, it will not be as a member of the NRA. I'm encouraging gun owners to get involved locally instead of giving your hard earned money to the NRA anymore. Most states have some sort of gun owners association and there are at least two other national associations that I'm aware - Gun Owners of America and National Association for Gun Rights. Do your research on them and then consider joining.

    P.S. The Disclose Act was voted down and failed to become law. However, rumor has it that it will come back up and be snuck into law as an amendment on another bill. Unfortunately, the damage has already been done. The NRA sold it's soul to the devil (Reid, Pelosi, Schumer, etc.) on this one. Scuttlebutt is that they are considering endorsing Harry Reid for re-election, also. Pathetic.
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    Friday, August 20, 2010

    Massachusetts residents can help with organ donation on their tax forms reports that Massachusetts residents are paying "voluntary taxes" to help people with transplants. In the article, Voluntary Taxes, it says the state's residents can make contributions to funds that help threatened animal species, AIDS research, and to the Organ Transplant Fund (OTF). The OTF helps transplant recipients pay their medical bills. All residents have to do is check a box on their state tax return showing that they want to donate / contribute / pay a voluntary tax to the fund of their choice.

    This "voluntary tax" misnomer just doesn't work for me. Usually, a tax is required by law and if you don't pay it there are civil or criminal penalties. Since people get to choose to pay or not pay this "voluntary tax," it's not a tax. It should be called a contribution, gift, donation, or something similar but not a tax even though the money is paid when filling out a tax return.
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    They're building what ???

    Scientists at Yale University recently took apart and then put back together rat lungs. reports, Scientists Build Rat a Lung, that this is one of the steps that have been taken in recent years by researchers in order to find a way to grow organs and other tissues for transplantation or for the treatment of disease one day. These "rebuilt" rat lungs actually worked successfully for a few hours.

    Previously, scientists have successfully performed similar projects with rat hearts and livers. Doctors and scientists say this research is promising. However, they also say it will be years and maybe decades before such a project will be ready to be attempted on humans.
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    Race can complicate Bone Marrow Transplants

    Recently, reported how race, Bone Marrow Transplants : When Race Is An Issue, can complicate the matching process for bone marrow transplants. Bone marrow donors must be more genetically similar to their recipients than organ donors. Where organ donation only introduces a new organ into a recipient's body, a bone marrow transplant introduces an entirely new immune system. In essence, with a new organ, the recipient's body may reject the new organ, but with a bone marrow donation the recipient's new immune system could reject their entire body. That ain't good.

    The chances of finding a bone marrow match are very slim. If fact, the chances are only about 30% within your family, but that's not the worst if it. According to the article, about 66% of Caucasians will find a match but among other races the chances are only about 25%. The odds are even lower for a multiracial person. The more rare the racial mix, the lower the chances for a match.

    There is a way to help mitigate this problem - cord blood. Cord blood is the blood from a baby's umbilical cord which is normally thrown away after delivery. The match doesn't have to be as close and it's high in blood growing cells. Many doctors are now encouraging mothers to donate their newborn's cord blood as a way of helping someone in need.
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    Wednesday, August 18, 2010

    Facebook = kidney transplant

    An East Haven, Connecticut man is enjoying a second chance thanks to Facebook. According to an article on ChicagoTribune.comFacebook Posting Leads to Transplant, Carlos Sanchez, 44, received a new kidney through a living donation made by the mayor of the town, April Capone-Almon, after she found out about his situation via Facebook. The two had been acquaintances for some time, but she learned about the seriousness of his health situation on Facebook. Now that's what you call a "Public Servant."
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    Ad compares transplant waiting list to jailtime

    This ad titled Waiting currently running in The United Kingdom compares being on the transplant waiting list to spending time in jail. It's an interesting comparison and I can understand how one could make it. A chronic, terminal disease can make you feel as if you're being held prisoner and that your freedom has been taken away from you. However, it's a comparison that's not appropriate.

    People in jail are there because they chose, by their own free will, to break the law in some way. Therefore, they have to pay for that by giving up their freedom. Nearly all people on the transplant waiting list are there through no fault of their own. They were simply dealt a bad hand in the form of a life-threatening disease. A small number of people may be waiting due to bad choices they made but their numbers are very, very few. ALL criminals are in jail because they chose to break the law. That's not the case for people needing transplants.
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    Doctors testing new anti-rejection drug

    A new anti-rejection drug is being tested at Emory University Hospital in Atlanta, GA. According to a report on, Health Watch : New Transplant Drug, the medication, known as Beletacept, is administered via IV infusion once a month instead of the patient having to take numerous pills daily. In addition, Beletacept does not appear to have the same adverse side effects that oral Cyclosporin does which can include diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and kidney toxicity. The only downside is that Beletacept has an overall rejection rate that is higher than traditional Cyclosporin. However, Emory Transplant Center Director Dr. Christian Larsen has several patients who have been involved in the Beletacept trial for seven years and all of them have normal kidney function. Dr. Larsen and others believe that even though Beletacept is not perfect, it is opening up some wonderful possibilities for the future of transplant medicine.

    We transplant patients know what a huge breakthrough an anti-rejection drug with fewer side effects would be. It would enable us to eliminate the additional meds we have to take to deal with the side effects of Cyclosporin. For instance, many of us have to take medications to combat the elevated cholesterol and blood pressure caused by the Cyclosporin. If we could eliminate those medications, it would not only make our lives easier but also lower our health care costs enabling us to keep more of our cash in our pockets. I think everyone could use more of that.
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    Monday, August 16, 2010

    The Sheepdog is back on post

    After returning from The Games, I decided to take a break from blogging and get caught up on some things I'd been putting off for awhile. I had just been too busy. Some of those include some changes and improvements to the blog and the website such as a new blog template, new background, and new color scheme. I have also added a slideshow of pictures from The Transplant Games. Music lovers will enjoy the added playlist of tunes with artists from the '80s as well as the present. Artists include Third Day, Cinderella, .38 Special, Toby Mac, John Mellencamp, Skillet, and several others. Enjoy them as you browse around the blog. If you like your music loud, then there's some stuff here that's definitely "crankable." If you get in trouble at work for playing the music too loud, don't blame me. You were warned (ha, ha).

    The website has been modified and additional information added, also. You can check it out at If you do your online shopping at, my website and blog are affiliates. On my "Shop" page and elsewhere on the website and at the bottom of my blog, you can make your online purchases and help me keep the website online in the process. It costs money to host it and I would appreciate your support as I receive a small commission on any purchase made by linking through my site.

    Lastly, during the break, I've been working on a new three-part blog series that will start next Monday, August 23, 2010 and run Monday, Wednesday, and Friday next week. I'm calling it, "Sheepdog on the Warpath." Some are gonna love it and some are gonna hate it. Some are gonna be shocked. I'm running the series because I've got some "bones to pick" with some well-known political organizations including The National Rifle Association (NRA) who are up first on Monday. When the series concludes Friday, some people are gonna be scratching their heads and asking, "Who let the (Sheep)Dog out ??"

    In the meantime, I'll run some other stories this week before declaring war starting next Monday. Stay tuned.

    PLEASE NOTE : Unfortunately, the playlist had to to be removed from this blog. For some unknown reason it was causing the blog to crash. I apologize.
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    Friday, August 6, 2010

    The Sheepdog's 200th post

    This is a milestone post for The Second Chance Sheepdog blog. It is my 200th and is basically a wrap-up of yesterday's elections.

    First, I would like to use it to take the opportunity to congratulate Wilson Co. Commissioner-Elect Jason Brockman on his victory over the 40+ year incumbent Gilbert Graves yesterday. Brockman was one of the featured candidates in my "Support the Home Team" series back in May. You can revisit that post here. This was Brockman's first ever campaign and he picked a tough one. Few gave him a chance of defeating the entrenched Graves but he pulled it off with a lot of hard work. Congrats my friend !!

    Secondly, I would like to take the opportunity to commend Robert Fields and Adam Futrell on the fine races they ran. Each of them were also featured during the "Support the Home Team" series in May. You can revisit Robert's post here and Adam's here. I was fortunate to get to get to know and make new friends with both Robert and Adam during the campaign season. Both of them are great guys and either would have made great State Representatives. Personally, I believe the Republicans in Tennessee's 57th District made a huge mistake in not selecting one of these true Conservative gentlemen as their nominee to represent them. Then again, Republicans have made a habit lately of picking the wrong nominee (i.e. - John McCain).

    Lastly, but certainly not least, I must thank Rep. Susan Lynn for her eight years of service to her constituents in Tennessee's 57th District but most of all for her friendship. She has never been a politician but rather a perfect example of what a public servant is supposed to be. I have had the opportunity of spending some time with her on Capitol Hill and have seen first hand how hard she works for her constituents. She accomplishes more in one day than the other 100+ members of The Tennessee General Assembly do in a month. She has been and is a true leader. Tennesseans will miss her on Capitol Hill. In addition to her being my State Representative, she and her husband have been friends of my wife and I for over two years. We love them both. Susan will go far and do great things in whatever pursuit she follows next. As in Robert and Adam's case, Republicans made a huge mistake by not nominating Susan as their next State Senator.
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    2010 U.S. Transplant Games - Wrap Up

    View of downtown Madison, WI from across Lake Monona.

    Thank goodness we are home from The Games. We departed Madison, WI at 6:20 A.M. CDT on Wednesday and arrived back home at 4:40 P.M that afternoon. I can't remember when I've been soooo happy to cross the Tennessee state line. We had some good times on the trip, but it will mostly be remembered as one of disappointment and an opportunity that slipped away .... again.

    The main bright spot that I will remember from the trip is the beautiful scenery that we enjoyed driving through Illinois. There were corn and soybean fields washed in bright green all along the interstate for as far as you could see (below). They were only broken up by the occasional barn, farmhouse, or silo. In some areas, the fields would have tall hardwood forests and rivers running through them. All I could think of was that it was a deer hunter's paradise - peaceful, beautiful, quiet, and clean.
    As I said before The Games, these were probably my last. The physical and mental toll has been brutal. The visits to the chiropractor twice and three times a week for my arthritic back, dislocated fingers, and a sore shoulder have been a bit much. Then, there's the mental and emotional strain of enduring the physical toll, working so hard to try to win, and then not achieving the goal desired. I did it, however, as a way of honoring the Lord, my donor Kent and his family, and because winning a sports competition is something I've never done but wanted to badly. However, it's become apparent that it's simply not worth it as my body is not physically able to handle it. I won't say I'll never go again, but it's not likely that I will. Plus, I'd hate to have to pull a "Brett Favre." It would have to be the perfect situation where it's either close by or in a city that my wife and I have been wanting to visit.

    Lastly, I want to thank everyone again for their support whether it was through prayer, finances, or encouragement. Now, it's time to take some time away from blogging and regroup. Might be a good weekend to go shootin'. Viva la Second Amendment !!
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    Tuesday, August 3, 2010

    2010 U.S Transplant Games - Day 5

    Stick a fork in me - I'm done. Bowling was a disappointment again today. I only managed a 420 series and was no where near the medals. Jim bowled much better than I did in his competition but came up short, also. The one bright spot was he won a new Storm bowling ball in the drawing that was held. At least one of is taking some hardware home.

    Just want to say thank you to everyone who supported us with monetary donations, prayers, and other support. We couldn't have made the trip without you. We will head home bright and early in the morning. I personally cannot wait to get home. I was so convinced that this was Jim and mine's year to win medals due to all the little positive signs God left along the way. I was so confident coming into the competitions because of them. Apparently, I misread something along the way because these Games have not went the way I thought they would.

    Once I get home, it'll be time to start getting ready to do something I'm fairly good at - killing deer. The heck with bowling. Bow season starts September 25th and venison tastes much better than a bowling ball.
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    Monday, August 2, 2010

    2010 U.S Transplant Games - Day 4

    After, my update yesterday, Joy and I spent the evening watching Team Tennessee play basketball. They defeated Team Philadelphia convincingly in their first game 16-8. However, in a wild and exciting second game, they were defeated by Team Nebraska 34-26 and eliminated from the tournament.
    Today, we drove over to the University of Wisconsin campus to watch the track and field events. However, no parking was available, so we did not stay because we realized time was running out on us before the Donor Recognition Ceremony. Before leaving the campus, we snapped this great picture looking out over Lake Mendota.
    We were unable to attend the Donor Recognition Ceremony at the 2008 Games in Pittsburgh so we wanted to make sure we made it to this one. The ceremony is designed to honor not only the thousands of organ and tissue donors across the country who have given the gift of life to so many and improved the lives of others, but also to honor the donor families. Personal testimonies were given by both organ and tissue recipients but also by donor family members. There were not many dry eyes afterward. Songs were sung and a poem was read by actor and liver recipient Larry Hagman.
    As I wrap up for today, I just want to briefly go back to the bowling competition from yesterday. I said yesterday that the the bronze medalist, which was Team Wisconsin, had bowled an 1156. That was incorrect. We learned today that they only bowled a 1039 which was only 119 pins better than what Jim and I did. It was the gold medalists, Team Philadelphia, that bowled the 1156. That being said, it does appear that we may have let an opportunity get away from us again. I have mixed emotions about that. On one hand it is disappointing because if we had bowled better in game 1 of our 3 game series, we might have had a shot at it. On the other hand, it makes me feel even better than I did yesterday about the fact that we didn't lay down and quit after the bad game 1. We kept fighting and actually made a pretty good run at it. We at least "skeered 'em" and made them work for it.

    If I can add a bit of humor, also. When I looked at the results today, I noticed that we finished 6th out of 13. In 2008, we were 5th out of 6. So, we beat a bunch more teams this time !! I also got to thinking about Kent and Jack. I can imagine they were watching yesterday and cheering their heads off. Both of them were HUGE University of Tennessee football fans. Yesterday, Jim and I beat Team Kentucky by over 70 pins and Team Florida by over 230. We didn't just beat Florida - we smoked 'em !! I guess you could say Tennessee finally beat Florida and I bet Kent and Jack were thrilled.

    Tomorrow, Jim and I bowl again in the singles competition at 9 AM. We will be up against many of the guys we competed against Sunday. It will likely be the last time we will compete in a Transplant Games event. We want to bowl much better tomorrow and know we have to if we want to win. Jim can do it. However, I know that on my own, I cannot. I am not a good enough bowler. However, with everyone's prayers and God's help, I can.

    I can imagine Kent and Jack already getting the popcorn and ice tea ready to watch the games tomorrow. Something tells me they're saying something to the effect of, "Lay another beatdown on Florida and Kentucky, but this time include those other teams, too."

    Lord willing, that's exactly what we'll do.
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    Sunday, August 1, 2010

    2010 U.S Transplant Games - Day 3

    Well .... things did not go the way Jim and I had hoped they would today. We finished 6th and completely out of the medals. We both had a horrible first game as Jim bowled a 135 and I only managed a 105. However, I was proud of the way we finished. We could have quit, but we didn't as Jim bowled a 151 and 167 in the next two games and I bowled the two best games I've bowled in The Games with a 191 in game 2, including 6 strikes, and a 171 in game 3. We only had a combined 240 after game 1 but fought back to bowl a 920 which was 114 pins better than what we managed in 2008. Unfortunately, we just got too far behind to come all the back.

    It was a disappointing day, but we'll just have to try again Tuesday in the singles. The bronze medalists today bowled an 1156 which was over 200 pins better than us. We have to bowl the same guys again Tuesday and will have to bowl the games of our lives to have a chance. I'll have to bowl a 600 or better to have a chance. My personal best is a 590 some 18 months ago. It'll take a miracle to win Tuesday. Pray for us. We will need it.
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