Thursday, December 23, 2010
Memories of Christmas past
Everyone has their own special thoughts of Christmas's past. I'm sure most would include fond memories of gatherings with family and friends. Mine start with childhood on Horse Mountain.
I must have been six, or seven, years old and my sister would corral me in the dining room as my parents would load the presents beneath the tree. My sister would exhort me to listen carefully for Santa Claus as he flew to and from the house delivering his gifts for all the family. "Can't you hear him? There he goes, he just left the gifts--I think I can see him over the roof top." I was at the age where skepticism was rearing its inquisitive head and I wouldn't be fooled by a sister overacting her part. Nevertheless, it left that indelible mark of partial wonder in a gleeful child.
When we moved to the teeming metropolis of Florence, I remember anxiously waiting for Christmas eve when the family would get together and open all the presents. It meant an enjoyable few hours of playing with new toys ( a new train set was a dream come true) before everyone would leave for midnight mass. The following morning would mean more hours of fun setting lines of track and closely examining the old 4-6-2 engine and accompanying cars.
When we moved to the center of Northampton Christmas eve celebrations became more about family and a fine table of hors d'oeuvres for special friends of my parents. They sincerely enjoyed the company of people they had known since before they were married in 1928 and I enjoyed hearing them talk of old times and experiences long gone. There were still presents and good cheer to be had with midnight mass, once again, a staple of the celebration.
After Sue and I married, we would travel to my parents home for Christmas eve and meet up with my brother Ed, his wife Rose Marie as well as my sister Joy and her husband Bob. At one time or another several of my nieces and nephews would be there to lend a hand singing songs, or playing along with me on guitar. My mother especially loved to hear all of us singing and enjoying ourselves in this festive gathering.
One of the more memorable Christmas's was spent in the ICU at Cooley Dickinson hospital where I sang and played carols by my mother's bed side. She was gravely ill and this would be her last Christmas. The nurse turned on the intercom so everyone in the ward could join in and sing. Another was at the Linda Manor nursing home when I sang and played for a group of elderly patients (including my father) in a lounge. Many people added their voice to the merriment; my father's deep, clear baritone adding a special resonance to the occasion.
No matter what our memories might be, they all bring a special significance to a joyful, loving time never to be forgotten. I hope your memories are as wonderful and give you a feeling of peace and fondness for this special time.
So, in the spirit of the season, I say--Merry Christmas to all and to all--a good night!
Wednesday, December 15, 2010
The Wall Street Journal had some interesting pieces today on the current tax debates taking place in Congress. According to the Journal, the democrats are starting to realize that the proposed tax bill working its way through Congress will finally be accepted by the more liberal members of their party. The lame duck Congress, should it succeed in convincing the Republicans that they're acquiescing to conservative demands in extending the Bush tax rates, will have pulled off one of their most impressive feats of this Congress. Understand this about the current proposed bill: the tax rates will be effective for only two years and the national debt increases by almost $900 BILLION dollars over the next ten years. Lots of wiggle room for the more progressive members of the Democrat Party to change the rates in 2012 and loads of pork for everyone for at least the next twelve months.
Some disturbing developments are starting to show themselves with relation to our debt situation. The Chinese are seeing inflation rearing its ugly head on their mainland. What does this mean for the United States? Inflation is defined as "too much money chasing too few goods."
The Chinese can rectify this situation by allowing their citizens to purchase more of their own products rather than sell them to the U.S. By doing this, they would not be funding our deficits, making our dollar less valuable to Americans---thus inflation would start to take off in the U.S. The Federal Reserve would have NO choice but to print funny money to cover the deficit. It's extremely unlikely that our government would have the political will to slash spending and the resulting effect could be hyper-inflation. At that point, a civil society could turn into an 'every man for himself ' nightmare. In any event, a reckoning is not far off; the politicians either admit that current budgets cannot be sustained and spending is drastically reduced, or the cost of everything increases dramatically.
But don't worry liberals. You got yours, and that's all that really matters, isn't it?
Welcome to the world of the gutless, useless politicians called Democrats & Republicans.
Thursday, December 9, 2010
It just never ceases to amaze me how many people come into my bookstore, and after having looked around for a few minutes will ask me how to get to the basement. Books are priced at a bargain rate in the basement, so that's a natural destination for some customers.
When customers enter the store by the front door they get an immediate view of the stairway leading to the second floor. Now, common sense would tell you that a stairway leading to an upper floor is also the overhead to a stairway leading to a lower floor; at least in most of my observations with respect to stairways. Could this be, perhaps, a lack of said 'common sense' in an unperceptive American consciousness?
When Americans listen to politicians promise them the world and much more if elected, do they not understand, perhaps, that this is merely a staircase to nowhere? What makes Americans think government can do a better job of running an economy than private markets. What makes them believe politicians can actually deliver on promises to make your life better, richer, safer and more rewarding than doing so for one's self?
The art of governing is said to be compromise. But compromise is nothing more than a rather large opportunity cost. Economists use this term to refer to actions that prohibit an individual from doing more than one activity or action simultaneously; i.e. attending evening college classes, but not being able to work a second shift that conflicts with the classes. Personally, I don't put too much credence in compromise, especially when I'm trusting a politician to perform the negotiation. In my mind politics is less about compromise and more about power; raw, unmitigated power to ensconce a grifter in a cocoon of protected, unchecked magnificence. Nevertheless, we have those gullible people who listen to these self-proclaimed lords & masters and expect our civilization to improve.
I would rather live my life, complete with all its flaws, misunderstandings and foolishness than subject some other individual to such a precarious existence. I wish others would act in the same manner, but I guess this is too much to ask. The urge to acquire power, either for one's self or through the agency of an elected representative is an urge not to be denied.
I'll take this as compromise: you leave me alone and I'll do the same for you. But first, learn about stairways.
Wednesday, December 8, 2010
--there's no doubt I deserve a good life. Thank goodness the new tax bill the Congress is proposing will extend my unemployment benefits at least for another year. You can't be expected to get a great job after only two years on unemployment benefits. I just don't understand why they had to include all those rich people in the legislation. After all, they should pay their fair share.
--I'm really happy that Berkeley, California is awarding the guy who gave wikileaks all those documents hero status. Our Government needs to be brought down a peg or two. We've got too much compared to the rest of the world--I agree with Obama on the wealth redistribution thing and the Government shouldn't have secrets, diplomatic or otherwise.
--our society is racist, homophobic, sexist, ageist and overly vertically challenged. We definitely need to pass laws that make our society more just, equitable and short. The Democrats were doing such a great job. I can't believe that the less enlightened conservative boobs did what they did in November. Talk about bad food for the kiddies--I'm supportive of what Michelle Obama is doing to stop those horrible cookies at bake sales. Our kids nutrition is way more important than choosing to eat crummy, rotten food.
--the Government should definitely spend whatever's necessary to get us back on track. Any economist who knows about anything knows Keynesian economics works every time. A trillion here, a trillion there--whatever!
--we're all immigrants. This nation is a nation of immigrants. The dream act gives illegals--ah--that is undocumented workers--a chance to have the American dream. Besides, they take the jobs that us hard working--ah--us want to be working--Americans can't do.
--everything would be just a whole lot better if George Soros ran the world, everything would be just a ---------
(RINGALINGALINGALINGALINGDINGGGGGGG) Man, I wish that alarm clock wasn't so loud. I think I was having a nightmare, or something was really out of whack. For a moment there I thought that our country was a horrible place to live. But, then again, if it were, would anyone willingly live here? Yeah, it must have been a nightmare--must have been a REAL bad dream. I hope there's hot water. A shower would feel great right now and bring me back to reality. That's what we really need more of--reality.
Thursday, December 2, 2010
Turn on the television, or listen to the democrats and all you'll hear is "fairness" with respect to the tax code. According to our President and the current lame duck congress, we must return tax levels to where they were prior to 2001. "Tax cuts for the rich" is all the rage when liberals talk about the expiration of the Bush tax cuts.
Let's take a look at the results of raising capital gains taxes on the 'so called' wealthy.
Thomas Sowell writes an excellent column that appears in the Jewish World Review in which he reports on the results of raising, or lowering the capital gains tax rate. Click here for a full reading of that text.
Next, you'll want to see candidate Barack Obama's response to a question from Charles Gibson in a debate with Hillary Clinton concerning capital gains taxes. Any questions about the illogical position of the liberal democrats on tax increases and tax revenue? Keep dreaming that increasing taxes on the "rich" will lead to more revenue for our dear Uncle Sam.
Be fearful--VERY fearful for our future.
Thursday, November 11, 2010
Since I no longer qualify as a young man, my thoughts will turn to a leather jacket, boots that cover the ankle and the thrill of riding on two wheels. Spring brings back fond memories of riding my Honda 650 Custom with its beautifully chromed steel body flowing along a highway heading to nowhere in particular. Motorcycles and spring belong together and to that end I offer up this short poem. Place yourself there, along side me, travelling a country road and feel the breeze clear your mind.
Feel of the Road
Some people go through life in fancy cars
With their posterior cushioned from shock.
They don't know the feelings the senses can relay,
The sounds, smells, tastes and sights that delight.
Me? I'd rather have no cushion, no easy ride,
No metal jacket to trap my mind and soul.
I'll take two wheels and a blacktop that's long
And my heart sings as the earth moves beneath me.
Give me the throbbing engine pulsating
As a shudder to my boots.
Color me a sky dark with rain or blue with light,
A sun that streaks my visor.
All these things delight, make life worthwhile,
Holding no promise for tomorrow, no sign for the past.
I don't need a cushioned ride,
Just give me only the 'Feel of the Road.'
Come soon Spring
Saturday, October 30, 2010
The following article is re-published from a speech given at Hillsdale College by Congressman Mike Pence of Indiana on September 20, 2010. It's re-printed from Hillsdale's Imprimus October edition in its entirety because of its extreme importance in understanding where we are today as a people living in a Constitutional Republic. The importance of its meaning cannot be overstated.
Indiana’s Sixth Congressional District
The Presidency and the Constitution
THE PRESIDENCY is the most visible thread that runs through the tapestry of the American government. More often than not, for good or for ill, it sets the tone for the other branches and spurs the expectations of the people. Its powers are vast and consequential, its requirements impossible for mortals to fulfill without humility and insistent attention to its purpose as set forth in the Constitution of the United States.
Isn’t it amazing, given the great and momentous nature of the office, that those who seek it seldom pause to consider what they are seeking? Rather, unconstrained by principle or reflection, there is a mad rush toward something that, once its powers are seized, the new president can wield as an instrument with which to transform the nation and the people according to his highest aspirations.
But, other than in a crisis of the house divided, the presidency is neither fit nor intended to be such an instrument. When it is made that, the country sustains a wound, and cries out justly and indignantly. And what the nation says is the theme of this address. What it says—informed by its long history, impelled by the laws of nature and nature’s God—is that we as a people are not to be ruled and not to be commanded. It says that the president should never forget this; that he has not risen above us, but is merely one of us, chosen by ballot, dismissed after his term, tasked not to transform and work his will upon us, but to bear the weight of decision and to carry out faithfully the design laid down in the Constitution in accordance with the Declaration of Independence.
* * *
The presidency must adhere to its definition as expressed in the Constitution, and to conduct defined over time and by tradition. While the powers of the office have enlarged, along with those of the legislature and the judiciary, the framework of the government was intended to restrict abuses common to classical empires and to the regal states of the 18th century.
Without proper adherence to the role contemplated in the Constitution for the presidency, the checks and balances in the constitutional plan become weakened. This has been most obvious in recent years when the three branches of government have been subject to the tutelage of a single party. Under either party, presidents have often forgotten that they are intended to restrain the Congress at times, and that the Congress is independent of their desires. And thus fused in unholy unity, the political class has raged forward in a drunken expansion of powers and prerogatives, mistakenly assuming that to exercise power is by default to do good.
Even the simplest among us knows that this is not so. Power is an instrument of fatal consequence. It is confined no more readily than quicksilver, and escapes good intentions as easily as air flows through mesh. Therefore, those who are entrusted with it must educate themselves in self-restraint. A republic is about limitation, and for good reason, because we are mortal and our actions are imperfect.
The tragedy of presidential decision is that even with the best choice, some, perhaps many, will be left behind, and some, perhaps many, may die. Because of this, a true statesman lives continuously with what Churchill called “stress of soul.” He may give to Paul, but only because he robs Peter. And that is why you must always be wary of a president who seems to float upon his own greatness. For all greatness is tempered by mortality, every soul is equal, and distinctions among men cannot be owned; they are on loan from God, who takes them back and evens accounts at the end.
It is a tragedy indeed that new generations taking office attribute failures in governance to insufficient power, and seek more of it. In the judiciary, this has seldom been better expressed than by Justice Thurgood Marshall, who said: “You do what you think is right and let the law catch up.” In the Congress, it presents itself in massive legislation, acts and codes thousands of pages long and so monstrously over-complicated that no human being can read through them—much less understand them, much less apply them justly to a people that increasingly feel like they are no longer being asked, but rather told. Our nation finds itself in the position of a dog whose duty it is not to ask why—because the “why” is too elevated for his nature—but simply to obey.
America is not a dog, and does not require a “because-I-said-so” jurisprudence; or legislators who knit laws of such insulting complexity that they are heavier than chains; or a president who acts like, speaks like, and is received as a king.
The president is not our teacher, our tutor, our guide or ruler. He does not command us; we command him. We serve neither him nor his vision. It is not his job or his prerogative to redefine custom, law, and beliefs; to appropriate industries; to seize the country, as it were, by the shoulders or by the throat so as to impose by force of theatrical charisma his justice upon 300 million others. It is neither his job nor his prerogative to shift the power of decision away from them, and to him and the acolytes of his choosing.
Is my characterization of unprecedented presumption incorrect? Listen to the words of the leader of President Obama’s transition team and perhaps his next chief-of-staff: “It’s important that President-Elect Obama is prepared to really take power and begin to rule day one.” Or, more recently, the latest presidential appointment to avoid confirmation by the Senate—the new head of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau—who wrote last Friday: “President Obama understands the importance of leveling the playing field again.”
“Take power. . .rule. . .leveling.” Though it is the model now, this has never been and should never again be the model of the presidency or the character of the American president. No one can say this too strongly, and no one can say it enough until it is remedied. We are not subjects; we are citizens. We fought a war so that we do not have to treat even kings like kings, and—if I may remind you—we won that war. Since then, the principle of royalty has, in this country, been inoperative. Who is better suited or more required to exemplify this conviction, in word and deed, than the President of the United States?
* * *
The powers of the presidency are extraordinary and necessarily great, and great presidents treat them sparingly. For example, it is not the president’s job to manipulate the nation’s youth for the sake of his agenda or his party. They are a potent political force when massed by the social network to which they are permanently attached. But if the president has their true interests at heart he will neither flatter them nor let them adore him, for in flattery is condescension and in adoration is direction, and youth is neither seasoned nor tested enough to direct a nation. Nor should it be the president’s business to presume to direct them. It is difficult enough to do right by one’s own children. No one can be the father of a whole continent’s youth.
Is the president, therefore, expected to turn away from this and other easy advantage? Yes. Like Harry Truman, who went to bed before the result on election night, he must know when to withdraw, to hold back, and to forgo attention, publicity, or advantage.
There is no finer, more moving, or more profound understanding of the nature of the presidency and the command of humility placed upon it than that expressed by President Coolidge. He, like Lincoln, lost a child while he was president, a son of sixteen. “The day I became president,” Coolidge wrote, “he had just started to work in a tobacco field. When one of his fellow laborers said to him, ‘If my father was president I would not work in a tobacco field,’ Calvin replied, ‘If my father were your father you would.’” His admiration for the boy was obvious.
Young Calvin contracted blood poisoning from an incident on the South Lawn of the White House. Coolidge wrote, “What might have happened to him under other circumstances we do not know, but if I had not been president. . . .” And then he continued,
“In his suffering he was asking me to make him well. I could not. When he went, the power and glory of the Presidency went with him.”
A sensibility such as this, and not power, is the source of presidential dignity, and must be restored. It depends entirely upon character, self-discipline, and an understanding of the fundamental principles that underlie not only the republic, but life itself. It communicates that the president feels the gravity of his office and is willing to sacrifice himself; that his eye is not upon his own prospects but on the storm of history, through which he must navigate with the specific powers accorded to him and the limitations placed on those powers both by man and by God.
* * *
The modern presidency has drifted far from the great strength and illumination of its source: the Constitution as given life by the Declaration of Independence, the greatest political document ever written. The Constitution—terse, sober, and specific—does not, except by implication, address the president’s demeanor. But this we can read in the best qualities of the founding generation, which we would do well to imitate. In the Capitol Rotunda are heroic paintings of the signing of the Declaration of Independence, the victory at Saratoga, the victory at Yorktown, and—something seldom seen in history—a general, the leader of an armed rebellion, resigning his commission and surrendering his army to a new democracy. Upon hearing from Benjamin West that George Washington, having won the war and been urged by some to use the army to make himself king, would instead return to his farm, King George III said: “If he does that, he will be the greatest man in the world.” He did, and he was.
To aspire to such virtue and self-restraint would in a sense be difficult, but in another sense it should be easy—difficult because it would be demanding and ideal, and easy because it is the right thing to do and the rewards are immediately self-evident.
A president who slights the Constitution is like a rider who hates his horse: he will be thrown, and the nation along with him. The president solemnly swears to preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution. He does not solemnly swear to ignore, overlook, supplement, or reinterpret it. Other than in a crisis of existence, such as the Civil War, amendment should be the sole means of circumventing the Constitution. For if a president joins the powers of his office to his own willful interpretation, he steps away from a government of laws and toward a government of men.
Is the Constitution a fluctuating and inconstant document, a collection of suggestions whose purpose is to stimulate debate in a future to which the Founders were necessarily blind? Progressives tell us that even the Framers themselves could not reach agreement in its regard. But they did agree upon it. And they wrote it down. And they signed it. And they lived by it. Its words are unchanging and unchangeable except, again, by amendment. There is no allowance for a president to override it according to his supposed superior conception. Why is this good? It is good because the sun will burn out, the Ohio River will flow backwards, and the cow will jump over the moon 10,000 times before any modern president’s conception is superior to that of the Founders of this nation.
Would it be such a great surprise that a good part of the political strife of our times is because one president after another, rather than keeping faith with it, argues with the document he is supposed to live by? This discontent will only be calmed by returning the presidency to the nation’s first principles. The Constitution and the Declaration should be on a president’s mind all the time, as the prism through which the light of all question of governance passes. Though we have—sometimes gradually, sometimes radically—moved away from this, we can move back to it. And who better than the president to restore this wholesome devotion to limited government?
* * *
And as the president returns to the consistent application of the principles in the Constitution, he will also ensure fiscal responsibility and prosperity. Who is better suited, with his executive and veto powers, to carry over the duty of self-restraint and discipline to the idea of fiscal solvency? When the president restrains government spending, leaving room for the American people to enjoy the fruits of their labor, growth is inevitable. As Senator Robert Taft wrote: “Liberty has been the key to our progress in the past and is the key to our progress in the future.... If we can preserve liberty in all its essentials, there is no limit to the future of the American people.”
Whereas the president must be cautious, dutiful, and deferential at home, his character must change abroad. Were he to ask for a primer on how to act in relation to other states, which no holder of the office has needed to this point, and were that primer to be written by the American people, whether of 1776 or 2010, you can be confident that it would contain the following instructions:
You do not bow to kings. Outside our shores, the President of the United States of America bows to no man. When in foreign lands, you do not criticize your own country. You do not argue the case against the United States, but the case for it. You do not apologize to the enemies of the United States. Should you be confused, a country, people, or region that harbors, shelters, supports, encourages, or cheers attacks upon our country or the slaughter of our friends and families are enemies of the United States. And, to repeat, you do not apologize to them.
Closely related to this, and perhaps the least ambiguous of the president’s complex responsibilities, is his duty as commander-in-chief of the military. In this regard there is a very simple rule, unknown to some presidents regardless of party: If, after careful determination, intense stress of soul, and the deepest prayer, you go to war, then, having gone to war, you go to war to win. You do not cast away American lives, or those of the innocent noncombatant enemy, upon a theory, a gambit, or a notion. And if the politics of your own election or of your party intrude upon your decisions for even an instant—there are no words for this.
More commonplace, but hardly less important, are other expectations of the president in this regard. He must not stint on the equipment and provisioning of the armed forces, and if he errs it must be not on the side of scarcity but of surplus. And he must be the guardian of his troops, taking every step to avoid the loss of even a single life.
The American soldier is as precious as the closest of your kin—because he is your kin, and for his sake the president must, in effect, say to the Congress and to the people: ÒI am the Commander-in-Chief. It is my sacred duty to defend the United States, and to give our soldiers what they need to complete the mission and come home safe, whatever the cost.Ó
If, in fulfilling this duty, the president wavers, he will have betrayed his office, for this is not a policy, it is probity. It is written on the blood-soaked ground of Saratoga, Yorktown, Antietam, Cold Harbor, the Marne, Guadalcanal, the Pointe du Hoc, the Chosin Reservoir, Khe Sanh, Iraq, Afghanistan, and a thousand other places in our history, in lessons repeated over and over again.
* * *
The presidency, a great and complex subject upon which I have only touched, has become symbolic of overreaching. There are many truths that we have been frightened to tell or face. If we run from them, they will catch us with our backs turned and pull us down. Better that we should not flee but rather stop and look them in the eye.
What might our forebears say to us, knowing what they knew, and having done what they did? I have no doubt that they would tell us to channel our passions, speak the truth and do what is right, slowly and with resolution; to work calmly, steadily and without animus or fear; to be like a rock in the tide, let the water tumble about us, and be firm and unashamed in our love of country.
I see us like those in Philadelphia in 1776. Danger all around, but a fresh chapter, ready to begin, uncorrupted, with great possibilities and—inexplicably, perhaps miraculously—the way is clearing ahead. I have never doubted that Providence can appear in history like the sun emerging from behind the clouds, if only as a reward for adherence to first principles. As Winston Churchill said in a speech to Congress on December 26, 1941: “He must indeed have a blind soul who cannot see that some great purpose and design is being worked out here below, of which we have the honor to be the faithful servants.”
As Americans, we inherit what Lincoln in his First Inaugural called “the mystic chords of memory stretching from every patriot grave.” They bind us to the great and the humble, the known and the unknown of Americans past—and if I hear them clearly, what they say is that although we may have strayed, we have not strayed too far to return, for we are their descendants. We can still astound the world with justice, reason and strength. I know this is true, but even if it was not we could not in decency stand down, if only for our debt to history. We owe a debt to those who came before, who did great things, and suffered more than we suffer, and gave more than we give, and pledged their lives, their fortunes, and their sacred honor for us, whom they did not know. For we “drink from wells we did not dig” and are “warmed by fires we did not build,” and so we must be faithful in our time as they were in theirs.
Many great generations are gone, but by the character and memory of their existence they forbid us to despair of the republic. I see them crossing the prairies in the sun and wind. I see their faces looking out from steel mills and coal mines, and immigrant ships crawling into the harbors at dawn. I see them at war, at work and at peace. I see them, long departed, looking into the camera, with hopeful and sad eyes. And I see them embracing their children, who became us. They are our family and our blood, and we cannot desert them. In spirit, all of them come down to all of us, in a connection that, out of love, we cannot betray.
They are silent now and forever, but from the eternal silence of every patriot grave there is yet an echo that says, “It is not too late; keep faith with us, keep faith with God, and do not, do not ever despair of the republic.”
Thursday, October 28, 2010
Next Tuesday, November 2, 2010, may be one of the most important dates in the history of the United States. On that day the electorate, the voters, the citizens of this great country will have the opportunity to decide for themselves whether we will continue as a Constitutional Republic, or will relinquish our freedoms to a hyper taxing, bloated, out of control central government. We must decide if we will be forever wards of this nanny state, or be free to make our own decisions that best benefit our lives.
For the past two years we've been subjected to the greatest assault on our liberties as free citizens of this country than any other period in our history. Whether it be healthcare, cap & trade, Wall street bailouts, or any other ill conceived government boondoggle, the ability to decide for ourselves what it best for our individual survival has been threatened by an arrogant, aristocratic ruling class impervious to the wishes of people it regards as nothing more than benighted fools intent on leading uninformed lives.
Look around you today. Look at the tremendous achievements of the private sector and what it has done for the advancement of our society. Government didn't create the automobile, the computer, household appliances or any other convenience that has brought us such wealth and made our lives beyond tolerable, but enabled us to seek and pursue happiness. Government, by once playing its intended role of referee and arbiter had all but guaranteed men would flourish in such a free environment. This environment, should we reject the call of a Constitutional Republic and replace it forever with a liberal/socialist/progressive agenda this coming Tuesday, could be damaged beyond repair.
The 'hope and change' that President Obama so artfully projected for the American future is nothing but a fools paradise limiting initiative, risk taking and innovation with a bland, bureaucratic nightmare destroying everything the Declaration of Independence personified as inimical to the rights of a free people. The hope part of the equation is whimsical, but the change part of this same equation is absolutely warranted. We will change our future, Mr. President. We will discard your progressive minions from Congress and then we will discard you in 2012.
The American future will not be relegated to a socialist state, nor will it be subjected to your narcissistic bent.
Look on the bright side Mr. Obama--you can spend thirty or more years spreading your Marxist ideology to any number of universities/aristocratic institutions willing to listen to you expounding on your vast knowledge of how government can best rule people's lives; hopefully, it won't be the American people.
May the Rule of Law once again rule our land.
Monday, October 18, 2010
The little five year old boy had waited long enough. His parents had left him in the car parked outside a big house and told him to wait and they would be back in just a few minutes. To a five year old a few minutes seem like an hour, so the little boy marched his way up to the big oak door and banged loudly for entrance. A very genial, but somewhat confused man answered and let the youngster come in. He took a left turn through a portico and gazed to his left upon a rather strange sight; a wax figure of an elderly gentleman lying prone in a ceremonial box with not a hint of movement gave the boy pause. At this moment his mother and father appeared to whisk him from this most unusual primary encounter with death.
Fast forward to a senior year in high school and another moment of reflexion as he wonders what happened to the wonderful young woman he went to grade school with. She finds herself in the same predicament as the older man had found himself in years before. A faulty exhaust in an old car and a cold February night had done its worst. A sweet serene face would never again see a sun rise or a full moon staring at the world from the heavens.
Parents will always be with us, or so it seems to the little boy. As a man entering middle age, however, the insight of experience and knowledge of the ways of the world hit you full in the face. Their demise having been completed reinforces the idea of but brief interludes of night and day and conscious and unconsciousness. They are gone but still with you in thought; their final resting place.
All of us will experience the feeling of loss; a loss of parents, brothers, friends and others who have touched our lives. There must be more to learn than this feeling of loss. We must learn that the sliver of time we inhabit our small planet is priceless beyond our wildest dreams; that the faint sense of being and knowledge that we possess can't be measured in years, but only in accomplishment. In the movie 'Braveheart', William Wallace asks his countrymen what they would do without freedom. Would they give all the remaining years of their lives for just one chance, ONE CHANCE, to defend their freedom in battle? Their answer was clear. We are free men and will always be so. We must defend our freedom and our time we have on this earth. We must be responsible for our own lives and fortunes. We must not be patient to wait for others to provide us with well being.
Stand up America and live for this day; your day of freedom before the light is extinguished and the future is only memories.
Thursday, September 30, 2010
Remember your very first day at school?--Sitting in a first grade classroom about to experience a whole new reality listening to your teacher lead you through your new day. She instructs you to take your pencil and start to learn the alpabet. You've now come face to face with your first moment of unprepardedness; you don't have a pencil! Enter Mr. Dunphy(his real name), the school custodian, who recognizes your unease and quietly offers you his pencil. Your life is saved! A five year old can breath once again.
The above actually happened on my first day at school and I will never forget what this kind man did for me. It's been 57 years, but all that time seems like just a few moments ago.
Fast forward over twenty years later to 1974 and I'm working for a convenience store chain opening a new local store. As I'm leaving the store I notice a little girl just up the sidewalk crying and holding a bottle of spilled milk. She was told by her mom to buy milk at the new store and return home, but she had acccidently stumbled and dropped the milk bottle. I told her everything would be alright as I was leading her back to the store where I replaced the spilled bottle with a new one. As I saw her walk away happily the thought of Mr. Dunphy entered my mind. What he had given to me I now passed on to this little girl; an act of kindness towards another person in distress.
This instance isn't recounted to 'toot my own horn,'but is meant to simply show that, as the old saying inplies, what goes around, comes around. If we really want to pass on a nation to our descendents that's civil, democratic and just we must learn to be more involved in creating and nurturing this civil society; government, with all its power and laws cannot, and will not, be able to do so. We MUST return the levers of power to our States and local communities. We MUST participate in forging this society between ourselves and local government. Anything less will simply make us wards of a leviathan state.
The hour is late, but let's hope not too late.
Saturday, September 25, 2010
The year 1985 saw the birth of a niece, Jessica Fleming, my wife's sister's child. At the time I was in enrolled in an evening college course for english composition. We were studying a particular form of poetry called 'villanelle'. The first and third lines of the first stanza must be included in the remainder of the poem for it to meet the requirements of this style. The following was written for Jessica and is relevant today since Jessica has given birth to her first child on September 24TH. It's titled "Small Creature".
Small creature, feel the strength of a living hand, is right,
Sweet youth, cleansed of age cannot be spoiled,
Gather Love as a butterfly to flight.
Grasp the earth as it spins always in new light,
The sound and taste of life excite and re-new,
Small creature, feel the strength of a living hand, is right.
With every breath your heart leaps with fondness, in spite
of those things for which you have no understanding.
Gather love as a butterfly to flight.
Now, as days grow shorter and you give the good fight
to help those who had once helped you,
Small creature, feel the strength of a loving hand, is right.
In twilight hours your hands reach to hold tight
to dreams that dance in your mind, to sleep,
Gather love as a butterfly to flight.
Bring love to those who turn the dark to bright,
Sweetness and youth once remembered with such cheer,
Small creature, feel the strength of a loving hand, is right,
Gather love as a butterfly to flight.
Happy Birthday, Taylor Renae Minopoli. May you find love as a butterfly to flight.
Friday, September 24, 2010
Midterm elections are almost upon us and President Obama may soon be able to reveal to the nation his true character and aims to improve the economic climate. The President may finally tell us what many are undoubtedly thinking, but have been unable to do so before the appropriate time. The President will gather up his Teleprompters and apprise the country of his true intentions and political affiliation: President Obama will reveal that he is a CONSERVATIVE REPUBLICAN!
That’s correct!—he’s a stealth conservative. Before you dismiss this out of hand, I ask you to consider the following.
Obama foresaw a McCain presidency as one of accommodation and general ‘go along to get along.’ This approach would lead the country nowhere. So he did the only thing he could; he ran to the left of McCain on a platform of “hope and change.” This maneuver allowed him to appease the left and not anger the moderates. The right would support McCain and if he played his cards just right the media would assist him in making the right look like a bunch of extremists. Comments of ‘spreading the wealth’ and capital gains taxes not being reduced would placate the left and then it was on to Election Day.
Once in the Oval Office, the president passed a series of mind numbing legislative acts. First came the stimulus package, the GM and Chrysler bailout and finally, healthcare. Along the way there was an aborted attempt to get Cap & Trade passed—but what the heck, one misfire isn’t that bad.
All Obama had to do now was sit back and wait for the anticipated backlash from conservative America. He knew it would come, but it was just a matter of when. And did it ever come. The right responded magnificently. Many people came out of their homes and left their couches to protest this hard lurch to the left. The 40% of the electorate that identified themselves as conservative, and many independents to boot, created the “Tea Party.” Finally, after years of sitting on the sidelines the silent majority was energized. The President, when ensconced in his private office, must have been overjoyed at the new found patriotism of his fellow conservatives. All the President needed to do now was keep the pressure on the left by not agreeing to extend the Bush tax cuts and spending more phony stimulus money. A gigantic political wave was about to hit Washington head on. Conservatives would regain control of both houses and the first order of business would be to repeal and replace the healthcare law.
Here’s where the real shocker for the hard left would take place. Expecting him to veto any such attempt, the President would announce to the nation his true affiliation. Passage of a new bill would take place and the American people would be the beneficiaries of the new healthcare legislation!
Alright, so all of this is a little wacky, but other than that hasn’t the President done a great job of energizing America? Hasn’t he done what John McCain would never have been able to do? Barack Obama, stuck in his ideological mindset and unable to understand the greatness of the free market, will be judged as he wanted to be judged: he’ll be a great one term president.
I salute you President Obama. You’re the best thing that ever happened to conservative America.
Saturday, September 18, 2010
Did you ever stop to consider what the true essence of a free society embodies? Just what makes us a free people with the ability to determine our own path in life? Nothing can be more sacred to the free enterprise system and capitalism itself then the contract. Every time we engage in a transaction with another individual, or a business, we exercise this most basic of all human endeavors.
Today, in America, the contract is under relentless assault from the far left. President Obama and his minions want to let you know you're too stupid to determine what's best for you. Their prime aim is to ingratiate themselves between you and those with whom you wish to contract. Think this is a preposterous notion? I invite you to reflect on the following:
1) The current U.S. Congress has determined that you can't be trusted to purchase your own healthcare. The new ObamaCare injects itself between you and your doctor with respect to the best treatment you should receive. Don't like the government's choice and run afoul of the law and you'll get a visit from the IRS.
2) With a little help from their friends (General Electric), Congress has seen fit to outlaw incandescent light bulbs in approximately two years for the new CFL light bulbs. They're so much better, according to the ruling class. Any business that attempts to sell those old bulbs after the proscribed date will feel the wrath of a nanny government scorned.
3) We now have several 'safeguards' in place to prevent financial institutions from ripping us off, or at least that's what we're led to believe. The truth, however, is a little more complex. Credit will be harder for small companies to secure since banks will be less likely to sustain any losses that could put them at a financial disadvantage. Credit cards will be more difficult to obtain and rates will remain high even for the most credit worthy.
4) The Environmental Protection Agency has determined that our energy producing industries don't meet their stringent requirements with respect to carbon emissions. Think your heating oil is expensive now? Wait until you see the price come winter.
5) Want to renovate your bathroom? When it comes time to choose a new toilet the only kind you'll be able to purchase is the inefficient, low-flow, 1.6 gallon model (anyone familiar with this type of toilet knows it takes as many as three flushes before you get the desired result).
6) Aren't you just excited about the new Chevy Volt? Can't wait to get your hands on this $40,000 + vehicle, can you. You'll get an amazing 100 + miles of emission free mileage from this beauty. When you get home (assuming you make it home), all you have to do is plug it in to an electrical outlet for eight hours and you're all set for another 100 + mile cruise. Hopefully, your electrical supplier is a wind turbine farm, otherwise it's more carbon emissions! Don't fret though. I'm sure the price will come down when government hits car companies with a surcharge, or tax, for producing those antiquated gas burning vehicles.
All of the above are instances where government has come between you and other people, or businesses, with whom you might wish to contract. Under the guise of protection, or superior knowledge, the ruling class let's us know we're not capable of contracting on our own. They will decide for us because we are the benighted, unwashed masses. The two hundred year tradition of buying and selling; the bond that has made our nation the most successful in the history of mankind will be junked for a more efficient model. The heart of free enterprise will be ripped from the collective chest.
If we don't get to the polls on November, 2nd and change this disastrous course we'll have no one to blame but ourselves. The choice to contract freely is yours--don't waste it.
Friday, September 10, 2010
1982 was a difficult year for the American economy, not to mention those who would come face to face with losing their employment and possibly their living. This writer was faced with such a circumstance and I've never forgotten what it means to be unsure about the future. So, in a moment of reflection, and a little despair, the following short essay is presented. It was written that same year and still strikes a chord of sympathy for anyone in such a similar predicament.
Monday, September 6, 2010
Saturday was a beautiful day to take in a college football game. A deep blue sky with puffy white clouds and a nice twenty mile an hour breeze made for a great day to see a game from high in the stands.
Just as much fun as the game though is watching and listening to the banter of the folks in attendance as they enjoy the day as well. The good natured rivalry and spirit of the competing forces, the smell of grilled hamburgers and hotdogs and the spirited cajoling of the cheerleaders imploring the fans to support their team were enough to make me realize how much I missed this venue for almost a year.
There was something else that caught my eye amid the hoopla and celebration; something that made me realize how great it was to be an American. Two individuals sat just below me wearing shirts that may have given an indication of where they were from, or possibly just shirts they chose for this occasion without any particular thought to their significance. Both were Harley-Davidson shirts, extolling the virtues of their dealerships in Stoughton, MA and Valparaiso, IN. Whether or not these two individuals were actually from these two cities didn't strike me as important, but what did cause me to take pause was this: What do the people of Stoughton, or Valparaiso think about what's going on in our country today? Are they happy with the state of affairs that our President has consigned to our nation on its current path? How about the folks in Des Moines, IA, or Brookings, SD, or Butte, MT? As I looked at these people, whose background I could know nothing, could it be they're satisfied with the policies of this administration?
How about the people of Arizona whose State has been sued by our own Justice Department while only trying to enforce Federal law with respect to immigration. Do they agree with what's being done to them by our own Government? When Secretary of State, Hilary Clinton offered up the State law as an instance of a violation of civil rights to the United Nations Human Rights Commission are we not even slightly embarrassed, not by the law, but by the actions of this administration? Being lumped in with the horrific regimes of North Korea, Iran, Venezuela and Cuba would make me wonder which side our government is on.
Do the people of Beaufort, SC, or Baton Rouge, LA, or Casper, WY really believe there's nothing exceptional about America? Is our exceptionalism no better than Britain or France or China? There were two world wars fought in the last century that indicate there certainly is something exceptional about America. The Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Marines who fought the great battles of those wars would beg to differ with President Obama. They didn't give their time, honor and some the ultimate sacrifice to hear an American President talk so cavalierly about our greatness. I, for one, am embarrassed to even hear this President talk about America, because I honestly believe he's embarrassed to invoke its greatness. How such a man attained the position he now holds is beyond comprehension. Mistakes do happen, even in a nation such as ours. We can, however, rectify this mistake in 2012. We can also show our love of Nation and Constitution by rectifying other mistakes in the coming Congressional elections on November 2Nd of this year.
We are an exceptional nation, with exceptional people and exceptional dreams and hopes for our children and grandchildren. We will make those changes necessary to put us on the correct path of renewed exceptionalism and we will do it because we love this nation and refuse to follow anyone who does not.
It was a grand day on Saturday. The team I was rooting for was victorious, scoring two touchdowns to come from behind in the fourth quarter. All of us will make sure America wins again. We'll do it with our voices and our votes and we'll do it from more than the stands; we'll do it from our hearts as well.
Thursday, September 2, 2010
The above was supposedly uttered by Gene Krantz when Apollo 13 was in danger of being lost on its return flight from the moon in 1970.
America faces a challenge today far greater than that faced by the astronauts on that fateful mission. If we Americans fail to retain the freedom to pursue our lives as we see fit without an overreaching government breathing down our necks, then we will have failed not just ourselves, but all those generations that came before us in securing liberty for themselves and their posterity.
This is no idle observation easily dismissed out of hand by those who would wish to see their power and control over men's lives undiminished. The forces of the left would like nothing better than for those of us who cherish our liberty to simply fade away, or acquiesce to their superior intelligence and natural ruling ability. I, for one, will have none of it! I will not stop exposing their shameless record of failed economic policies and blatant attempts to turn our Republic into a European socialist state.
It becomes more apparent every day that President Obama is not qualified for the position he now occupies. The 'historic' moment has turned into an ugly nightmare. Unemployment, home foreclosures, increased taxes and a ridiculous health care plan are but a few of the horrific scenarios that this 'not so presidential' individual has visited upon this great nation. The very least we can do is continue to expose this charlatan for what he is; a Marxist ideologue.
So, I will keep fighting for liberty, limited government and a free enterprise system that exemplifies our history and best traditions. For all Americans failure to do so is not an option.
(Thanks Dave for your kind words of support)
Sunday, August 8, 2010
What would have transpired if the States had not ratified the proposed Constitution? Would the Articles of Confederation simply have remained in force until a more efficient compact between the states could be achieved? The idea, and question of State Sovereignty, lie at the very heart of our predicament with respect to an all powerful central authority dominating our everyday existence.
The States, of course, ratified the Constitution, but they did not do so with the intention that they were acting as one body. The insertion of the 9TH and 10TH amendments guaranteed to the individual states sovereignty for those issues where the state could determine its own legitimate course of action. The Constitution went so far as to guarantee a Republican form of government to the states and as if to clarify this point, individual states retained their unique executive, legislative and judicial branches. It could be argued that if the states had intended to subordinate themselves to a central authority, there would be little, or no, need for duplication of such a governmental structure.
Despite all the arguments implored in The Federalist Papers, the fears expressed by the Anti-Federalists have come to fruition. We no longer have a Republican form of government, nor a Federal Government in any real sense; we now have a central government comprised of lawmakers who believe that their very election to high office makes them able to pronounce what laws shall be followed by all the people, regardless where they reside. Sovereignty is not an attribute assigned to the individual, but to the collective.
What has made us bow to this collective will; what sense of security and denial of human responsibility has become such a lure to cast off our individual freedom? Do we believe we are better off to reject our liberty and freedom in exchange for this security? Are we so weak-knee’d and pusillanimous that we cannot determine our own fate within our sovereign states? Evidently this question is rhetorical. We’ve decided to reject that which our ancestors fought and died for; we’ve decided that the cost of individual freedom is beyond our means. We look inward to a warmth and security of the central authority womb. We eschew our innate abilities and duties; we have become simple-minded wards of the state.
Benjamin Franklin warned that we have a Republic, “if you can keep it”, but we have shirked from our duty and our destiny as Americans to uphold this Republic. We must answer to those who gave their lives for the lost Republic; but even worse, we must look our descendants in the eye and proclaim our weakness to the cause of liberty. We must ask them to find this lost treasure and restore it to prominence in our civic lives. We must ask them to ratify, once again, a Constitution that places the sovereignty of the state and individual above the power of the Central State. Can they succeed in such an undertaking? Perhaps this is just another rhetorical question.
Friday, July 16, 2010
The following was sent to the office of Senator Scott Brown today.
This past January I spent an entire day in snow and wet rain holding a sign for you and, hopefully, your election to the US Senate. Oh, what a fool I was!
After seeing your vote on the 'supposed' financial Reform Bill, it would have been just as well that a democrat was elected to the Senate seat.
This financial reform bill does very little in reform and does lot of control. Evidently, you didn't care that a provision in the bill calls for affirmative action for minorities in financial positions, or, that it virtually re-instates funding to that despicable group known as Acorn.
Evidently you couldn't have cared less that there's NO reform with regards to Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac. Also, the fact that the financial meltdowm was facilitated by lousy federal mandates (think of the CRA) was of little concern to you. Not to mention that there's not one bit of authority in the US Constitution to pass this act. Apparently, this is of little concern to an ambitious politician who's main agenda is re-election in 2012.
Kathy Griffin's disgusting remark about your daughters was way off the mark. What she should have done was apply the tag to YOU! Liberals and pathetic RINO's like you are destroying this great nation, not rescuing it from Wall Street.
Let me assure you, Senator, that WHOEVER runs against you in the Republican primary in 2012 will get my vote and in the unlikely event that you get the nomination I will sit on my hands before I do ANYTHING for your campaign, or election.
Better yet--why don't you switch to the Democratic Party. That way we'll know what you are without the facade. And, please, don't bother to respond with a form letter from one of your underlings, I'm done listening to, or reading, your nonsense.
Thursday, July 8, 2010
There's an interesting article by Walter Williams published in LewRockwell.com that about sums up what our government is doing to its citizens today. Regardless if you're conservative or liberal, this article should make you think just a little about the misplaced power the government has over us. Here's a quote from that article:
In 1794, when Congress appropriated $15,000 to assist some French refugees, James Madison, the acknowledged father of our Constitution, stood on the floor of the House to object, saying, "I cannot undertake to lay my finger on that article of the Constitution which granted a right to Congress of expending, on objects of benevolence, the money of their constituents." He later added, "(T)he government of the United States is a definite government, confined to specified objects. It is not like the state governments, whose powers are more general. Charity is no part of the legislative duty of the government." Two hundred years later, at least two-thirds of a multi-trillion-dollar federal budget is spent on charity or "objects of benevolence."
Madison was talking about Federalism; the ability of the states to decide what their own laws would be with respect to their constituents. This is the meat of the 9Th & 10Th amendments of the Bill of Rights contained within the Constitution. We've completely neglected those amendments for the expediency of supposed power of a 'benevolent' central authority.
One more quote from this article:
What would the founders think about our respect for democracy and majority rule? Here's what Thomas Jefferson said: "The majority, oppressing an individual, is guilty of a crime, abuses its strength, and by acting on the law of the strongest breaks up the foundations of society." John Adams advised, "Remember democracy never lasts long. It soon wastes, exhausts, and murders itself. There never was a democracy yet that did not commit suicide." The founders envisioned a republican form of government, but as Benjamin Franklin warned, "When the people find they can vote themselves money, that will herald the end of the republic."
We are currently in the very process of murdering ourselves.
There's another article published in the July/August 2010 edition of the American Spectator by Angelo Codevilla entitled "America's Ruling Class - And the Perils of Revolution." Codevilla postulates that we are now ruled by a monied and well connected, politically that is, upper class.
"Today's ruling class, from Boston to San Diego, was formed by an educational system that exposed them to the same ideas and gave them remarkably uniform guidance....(R)egardless of what business or profession they are in, their road up included government channels and government money."
This ruling class depends on government largess, i.e. the recent Wall Street bailout. It doesn't matter if those in power are Republican or Democrat. TARP extends to both parties, but it is the middle class that gets squeezed the most when the Liberal/Progressive/Socialist/Marxist legislators wield their enormous power to take from some and give to others. We have essentially voted ourselves money with which we will, most assuredly, commit murder.
A virtual jail is no better than a real one.
Saturday, July 3, 2010
There are hundreds, or thousands, of definitions that could apply to the above heading. Pursuing happiness is at the very heart of our existence, yet few people actually stop running in the rat race to consider what would make them happy. I'd like to proffer a suggestion that will turn some heads and may even make me an outcast in polite society, but none the less, I consider it essential to an improvement in our pursuit of happiness.
We need to do two things today that are necessary to improve the condition of our society; drug legalization and prostitution legalization. Now, I know you're thinking , 'how can this possibly IMPROVE our society?' If an individual wants to smoke marijuana or pay for sexual services that should be their choice as a free person living their life as they wish to. The stigma attached to these, so called, crimes far exceeds any benefit to society. The term 'victimless crime' should be considered an oxymoron and be relegated to the dustbin of history. Let's take an unvarnished look at what our attempts to keep these acts criminal has done to the nation.
Drug laws: Since 1970 the US government has spent untold BILLIONS of dollars in attempts to control the drug trade. Just how successful have these attempts been? Drug use has not changed in any appreciable amount, except in the eyes of law enforcement who seem to believe that they only need more money to completely solve the problem. We have today some of the most vicious drug gangs located on our southern border that are impervious to the efforts of the Mexican authorities. They so thoroughly control the drug trade that they have eliminated rivals and killed over 25,000 people in the last five years alone. Kind of reminds you of the notorious Purple Gang of Detroit and Al Capone in Chicago during the 1930's. They had control of illegal booze during that time and made a lot of money thanks to the Volstead Act passed in 1920. Government finally wised up and repealed the Volstead Act in 1933. The result was control of alcohol by recognized distributors and regulations that netted the government significant sums of money via taxes. And lo and behold it eliminated the power of the mafia in this trade. We must treat narcotics in the same fashion. Legalization, regulation and taxation will eliminate the drug cartels and provide to the government a good source of revenue to apply to drug treatment programs and other methods of educating the public on the dangers of drug overuse (as has been done concerning cigarettes and alcohol).
A less known debilitating effect to personal freedom are 'forfeiture laws'. If you've never heard of these pernicious, regrettable laws then you should learn the horrible effects they've had on our society. Eric Schlosser wrote a fine book entitled 'Reefer Madness' where he outlines many cases of expropriation of people's property through the enforcement of these laws. You'll be shocked to see some of the methods law enforcement has used in taking the property of completely innocent people who ran afoul of drug laws. No one could read about these instances without a sense of regret that this happens in modern day America. Ask yourself a simple question; Is the war on drugs a success? If you can answer this question honestly, then you know we must change our approach regarding legalization of controlled substances.
Prostitution: We already know this the is the world's oldest profession; perhaps second only to the 'slip & fall' trial lawyers. Once again, how have we done making this profession illegal? An honest answer would have to be, not very well. One of law enforcement's main tactics to reduce the trade is to publish the names of individuals caught in the act of purchasing sexual favors. If we're going to use shame as a means of controlling this behaviour shouldn't we publish the names of people on food stamps, welfare, social security or any other government transfer or expropriation of property from one class of society to another? Even if you believe these programs are beneficial to society, there most assuredly is a good amount of graft and cheating that goes unreported. The state of Nevada has had legalized prostitution for many years and hasn't yet been relegated to the fires of hell. What it has managed to do is reduce the amount of disease associated with the profession and used, once again, regulations and taxes that prove beneficial to the state coffers.
Arguments against legalization of the above are many and varied, but probably the most convincing to the public is that, if legal, everyone will do it (i.e. drugs and purchased sex). Ask yourself another question; if you're not inclined to participate because of your religious and moral beliefs, then why would you all of a sudden want to imbibe in these pursuits? Evidence provided by Holland and Denmark (where both pursuits are legal) does not support the claim that 'everyone will do it.' A moral person must be true to his/her moral teachings. Placing drugs and sex in the same category as alcohol and cigarettes will make us, at least I contend, a more moral, law abiding society.
Let the debate continue. Click HERE for a short video.
Saturday, June 26, 2010
July 4Th is just around the corner and we can all go out and enjoy the festivities. Yes folks, we can celebrate Dependence Day.
If anyone, with even half a brain, believes that we are independent and free of government tyranny, then please ask yourselves the following:
1) Can I purchase my own health insurance without Federal and State mandates?
2) Can I ride a motorcycle without a helmet?
3) Can I use a cellphone in a car?
4) Do I have to pay into the Social Security Fund?
5) Do I have to sign up for Medicare at age 65?
6) Do I have to pay a 3.9% sales tax on my home when I sell it?
7) Do I have to pay a 20% Capital Gains tax on the sale of stock?
8) Do I have to use the new compact fluorescent light bulbs after 2014?
9) Do the toilets in my house have to be the 1.6 gallon water saver version?
10) Do I have to have the Federal Government confiscate between 15-39.6% of my income every year?
11) Do I have to pay an 'exit tax' to the Federal Government if I wish to renounce my citizenship?
12) Do I have to contemplate the these additional issues--
a) a government VAT tax
b) government confiscation of my retirement account, either IRA or 401k
c) increased energy tax costs through 'cap & trade'(a.k.a the 'Waxman, Markey bill)
d) what kind of car I can drive(if government can tell you that you MUST have health insurance, why not tell me that I MUST own a government approved vehicle)
e) will I incur the government's wrath by questioning their taking over the following--
all financial institutions
college tuition costs
telling me what foods are acceptable to eat ( it's done at the state level, why not at the Federal level)
I'm sure there's much more I could list, but time and space make it impossible to finish. Understand, we fought a revolutionary war against the British over the Stamp Act, Intolerable Acts, Navigation Acts and a little thing called 'tea.' The combination of these acts doesn't come close to what our own government is doing to its' citizens today and yet we acquiesce. Why? Because over 50% of the population is DEPENDENT on the Federal government for their daily survival. We're done, folks. Stick a fork in us. We are now a nation of wimps, whiners and cry babies.
Ain't socialism great? (but don't tell the government I said the above. Freedom of speech is on their list)
Saturday, June 19, 2010
Here are some words that everyone should instantly recognize and then file under 'A load of crap'.
FREE-- "That's right ladies and gentlemen, this scooter chair is absolutely free. There's no cost to you even if Medicare doesn't authorize you to have one." (Translation-are we supposed to believe that the supplier, manufacturer, laborer and dealer did it all for nothing?)
SERVICE-- "Our service department will take care of that for you", or, just think of the "Internal Revenue Service." (Translation- if you really think there's such a thing, you indeed will be serviced, right up the you know what!)
AFFORDABLE-- This one's a real beauty. "We've got to get affordable____ for people who can't get it." Anytime you hear this line of bull, think of your wallet getting a little lighter so someone else can enjoy their new, affordable____
DESERVE--Probably the best of all words. "We'll get you the money you deserve." (Translation-the 40% fee will be sent to our POB in the Cayman Islands).
If there's any words, or terms, that you'd like to add, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org . This is a FREE SERVICE AFFORDABLE to all who DESERVE it!
Got a very interesting piece of mail a few days ago. It was from my heating oil supplier. The prepaid contract they were offering listed fuel oil at $2.60/gallon, but was only good until February 15, 2011. What are they trying to tell me, other than the obvious that they won't have oil available at that price beyond February 15. Here's what I think they're saying and everyone, regardless whether you heat with oil or not, should be very concerned.
Early next year the economy could start to get extremely shaky; by this I mean not just a new recession, but something much worse. We could be looking at inflation like we haven't seen in thirty years. Our wise and wonderful government--and I don't mean just the fools in the current administration--has set the stage for a currency debasement that will cause the cost of everything to skyrocket. This is what's at the heart of the fuel oil people telling me that they probably can't supply oil at a reasonable price beyond the middle of winter. In fact, some investment guru's expect the price of a barrel of oil to go well beyond $100. Think this isn't possible? Watch the stock market closely this fall because it's usually leads the economy by six months.
Sooner or later the predatory beast that is our Federal Government will devour everything; not just our liberty and freedom, but all that we own. The socialist fools and their liberal sycophants will, if given a chance, make us all dependent to them for our very existence. If, on the other hand, you like BIG GOVERNMENT, you'll have a fine old time wearing several layers of clothing this winter. Why, you'll show those big, bad oil companies you're not going to be intimidated. If you're really lucky maybe the Feds will nationalize oil.
Happy days are here again!
Monday, June 7, 2010
Many things happen in a person's lifetime that add little or nothing to the mundane activities of daily life, but every so often, or perhaps rarely, an event comes along that has a profound effect on how one examines his/her place on this place called 'earth'.
As with most people, I've had my share of mundane experiences that can readily come to mind, but are not to be considered anything more than ordinary.
As an example, when I was five years old, I remember cowering in my bed under all the blankets as an electrical storm raged outside my house. When you're a child you make up all kinds of scary circumstances that whirl around in a juvenile brain. As the storm was raging, I decided that I would count down from three and when I hit zero a tremendous bang would envelope the entire house. Three-two-one----ZERO-----BANG!!!! I jumped from my bed and headed like a shot to my parents room and quickly burrowed my way deep into the safety of their presence. The bang was a bolt of lightning that hit a giant tree and entered the house in the living room. My father rushed downstairs and had to extinguish the smoldering curtains and completely destroyed radio in the corner of the room. To this day my wife can't understand why I retreat to the basement when an electrical storm passes overhead.
Also when I was five my tonsils were removed. I can still remember being strapped to a gurney so tight that I was unable to move a single muscle. As the mask containing ether (the standard method of anesthesia for that time) was placed over my mouth the nurse asked me to start counting down from ten. Needless to say, I don't remember getting past eight, but afterwards when my parents came to visit I thought it was great that ice cream was available in copious amounts whenever I wanted it. The only negative part--besides the operation--was having to sleep in a large room with, what must have been, a dozen screaming little kids. Strange how you can remember in such vivid detail an occurrence that happened almost sixty years ago.
Deaths to loved ones can be very difficult, but it certainly isn't unexpected. The passing of a mother, father, brother or sister can be devastating yet we figure out how to overcome such trials. At my mother's wake my older brother Art gave out ersatz engagement rings to any unsuspecting women close enough to be engaged with his charm and beguile. Perhaps this was his way of getting beyond his sorrow. Art had already exhibited his grief at the private family showing of my mom's casket. I can still see him calling her name softly as if had wished he could have seen her one last time.
Personally, what I consider to be my authentic life changing experience came when I was in my third day of training at the Great Lakes Naval Training Center in May, 1968. As I sat between bunks stenciling my name on my naval issue cloths, I started to feel a loneliness and an urge to cry. Suddenly, from deep within me, a voice told me to shape up and grow up. It was time for me to leave youth behind; I was a man now and should act like one. The voice gave me the strength to face the next four years and all the years after; for I was now, most definitely, a man. Nothing as compelling has changed my life since that moment of reflection on the floor in a far away barracks.
We all should have life changing experiences, so let me hear yours. Right a comment on what you think you're most compelling moment was. It may help you recognize your own growth to adulthood.
Thursday, June 3, 2010
There was an article in the Boston Herald Business section today featuring a speech given by US Rep. Ed Markey and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi that has to highlighted for its sheer hypocrisy.
Both House Reps were in Watertown, MA at an event to promote clean energy technology, but both energy geniuses had to get their digs in against BP. Let me quote just one line from Rep. Markey and you tell me if this doesn't smack of pure BS. "It's the responsibility of the government, however, to make sure that BP's equipment, technology and expertise are used in a way that protects the safety of the ocean, of the shores and of the taxpayers of the United States."
Now let me be clear. BP is responsible for whatever went wrong with this particular operation, but isn't it the US Government, with its regulatory agencies, supposed to make sure that drilling operations are conducted in a safe manner? Doesn't the US Government issue leases to drill offshore with the proviso the companies follow all the guidelines and regulations concerning such drilling? Or is it possible that the left hand of government doesn't know what the right hand is doing since the maze of regulations make it impossible to fathom what's acceptable and what isn't?
The big Lebowski, however, is Rep. Markey's concern for the US taxpayer. What chutzpah! What arrogance! What downright hubris coming from a group of lawmakers that have taxed and spent this society into a mountain of debt. Unfunded liabilities for Social Security and Medicare alone are approaching $100 TRILLION dollars. That's TRILLION!!! Our national debt is now $13 TRILLION dollars which equals approximately 85% of our GDP(Gross Domestic Product). Long term prospects for debt levels are even greater with the passage of ObamaCare, and don't even think about what Cap & Tax will do to the economy.
These liberal politicians are utterly shameless, pathetic, spineless minions who have to be removed and replaced with leaders that have a backbone in order to right the ship of state. This must commence in November, or the future of this great country will be one of fast decline where our descendants will see their standard of living reduced significantly from previous generations.
Wake up America--and this includes you big government liberals. It's been said many times and needs to be repeated here; Any government powerful enough to give you everything you want, is powerful enough to take everything you own!
Saturday, May 29, 2010
Music has always been a part of my life: the last thirty years, or so, enjoying listening rather than playing, but a part nevertheless.
I started out on the piano, but realized that I couldn't reach all the keys so, subsequently, I changed to an accordion. Besides mastering 'The Sidewalks of New York" and a few Polkas the accordion didn't offer the kind of inspiration that I was looking for from a musical instrument. Luckily for me the Beatles arrived on the scene in late 1963 and was immediately hooked by their unusual sound and, what seemed to most of us in the baby boom generation, their vibrant enthusiasm for good rock & roll.
So it was that I took up the guitar and practiced until my fingers were worn thin. This was not too difficult since the first guitar I used must have cost all of $5 and would naturally cause your fingers to be rubbed raw from its unplayable fretboard. In time, however, and with a new guitar, I found a calling for my teen years and pursued teaching the instrument to young rock & rollers who also envisioned themselves being the next John Lennon or Paul McCartney.
A young Lennon or McCartney I was not and having exhausted all possibility to expand my horizons I settled into a sort of 'musical insouciance' that equated well with being an average musician. The daily grind, however, would come to a screeching halt when in December, 1967 I received a greeting from President Lyndon Baines Johnson to join some of my fellow citizens in a little affair known as 'Vietnam' by way of the US Army. Since I was reluctant to take part in this particular quagmire, I joined the US Navy: ships had not yet been deployed to Khe Sanh or Laos.
So it was that I left home and hearth in May, 1968 for Great lakes Naval Training center with the hope of convincing the immediate authorities of Naval Warfare that I would be best utilized as a musician rather than as a submariner floating beneath the ice, or water, of some faraway land. The officials of higher authority did not agree, but I did manage to attain the position of 7th back up guitar at the Training Center. Needless to say, I never saw a piece of sheet music, or a guitar, in my three months at Great Lakes. An aviation electronics technician would be my calling and I performed well, though not brilliantly, for the remainder of my time in Naval hell.
Fast forward to 1975 and you enter upon the legend of Blackwood, or Tucson, or Broken Spoke: all names from transient, perfidious, wandering minstrels that an underachieving country rock band to possibly conjure. We stuck with Broken Spoke and languished in the anonymity of the Drummer's Club to perform regularly with uninspiring ordinariness. Rock bands are not only about music, however, and that is where this history lesson reaches its most important point. Friendships are often made from such unlikely unions as bands or clubs and it was no different with my band mates. The four people joined with me above are special, in that two have passed on to the big country rock band in the sky. The two on either end of the picture, Bob Miller to the left and Pete Loveless to the right, both passed away at too young an age. Their pictures and my memories are all that remain of a special bond.
One of the original members of the group, Dallas Sutherland our bass player, who is pictured below, has also gone to a greater reward than that which can be bestowed upon an aging rocker.
I remember these men for the good gentlemen they were and will leave out foibles that attach to any life striving to place a mark upon our short stay here on earth. As often as I do not regret leaving the musical profession, I wish I could take just a few sets, once again, to enjoy the good reverie that made us musical brothers.
Playing music has not been part of my life for the last thirty years, but remembering our good companionship will never fade from the memory of a man entering late middle age. Rock On Guys!
Sunday, May 16, 2010
The Story of Sweet
It's not often that one can become closely associated with nature, but on a summer day in 2004 that's exactly what Sue and I did when we took our usual morning walk to the local convenience store.
The store manager had a rather unusual request; she asked us if we would be willing to rescue a baby starling that had been abandoned by its mother. Two siblings had already died from cold and lack of food the previous evening and the only remaining chick didn't look like it had much life left. As I looked at Sue, trying to let her see my reservations about accepting the bird, she instinctively told the proprietor "sure, we'll take it". Thus started our adventure with the little starling chick that would come to be called 'Sweet'.
As we found our way home,pondering on what to feed the chick, I remembered an old Burt Lancaster movie called "Birdman of Alcatraz". Lancaster portrayed Robert Stroud, a self taught ornithologist (and two time murderer) who was imprisoned in Alcatraz, the infamous Federal prison in San Francisco Bay. A small Sparrow had dropped into his cell one day and he devised a method to feed the bird using cockroaches and bugs that shared his living space. Since we had no available cockroaches and bugs were not a staple diet for a starling (a quick search on the net confirming this), we decided to try a concoction of suet, oatmeal and water. Starlings are unique in that they eat just about anything, perhaps attributing to their legend as being a scavenger bird with an over-population to boot. But what did we care about over-population. This was life in its very newest form and we would not give nature a chance to destroy its own creation without a fight.
Sweet completely took over our daily lives. During the day she (we would assume by the markings that it was a 'she') had to be fed about every half hour and if you were late, she let you know! I would mix the concoction and feed it to her with a wooden match stick. Sweet seemed to love it and would gobble it down as fast as I could provide. As she finished her feeding she would slide back into the rear of her nest to seek the relative safety of its confines until her next feeding. She was also very fastidious in that she would not foul her nest, but would make her way to the edge to do her business.
We kept Sweet in a large cat cage inside our gazebo in the backyard so to be safe from any possible predators and she thrived in this environment. Soon it became apparent that she was more than just a hungry mouth and pot belly and started to grow feathers which gave her the appearance of a real, honest-to-goodness, bird. She even started to venture outside her nest to explore the confines of the cage. Sweet became such a central part of our lives that on the July 4th weekend we took her with us on a trip with Sue's sister and husband to South Hadley and Amherst. We ate lunch at Windows on the Common in South Hadley and had to excuse ourselves every half hour to feed her. We kept the cage in the back of our car and the arrangement worked
As Sweet got bigger we had to consider how to acclimate her to the wild. It's one thing to raise a bird, or any other animal, for domestication, but yet another thing to raise one with the intention of release into the wild. We had always made it our motive in raising Sweet to do so with eventual release in mind. I would now occasionally bring her outside the safety of the gazebo and teach the fine, non-human, art of flight. Nothing could be more amusing than watching a human attempt to teach a young bird this amazing feat, but teach her I did. I would bring her to a lilac bush and place her on a low hanging branch and then gently nudge her to take flight. The first few attempts were met with total failure as she fluttered helplessly to the ground, but nature has a strong instinct placed within its winged creatures and soon Sweet was successful in gaining a somewhat small measure of lift.
Sweet progressed rapidly in her new found art and it was now time to see if she could navigate beyond the gazebo. I wasn't too concerned about her flying off to parts unknown since she still required feeding every hour or so. Quickly she learned how to maneuver from branch to branch on various trees in the yard and I also taught her how to peck at the ground for insects. Imagine, if you will, a man prone on all fours nibbling at the grass in an attempt to demonstrate to a bird the benefits of ground feeding! And it worked--a credit as she was to her hardy species, she caught on with gusto. Once, when our neighbor was having his garage rebuilt, a worker on the job site proudly proclaimed to us that Sweet had just eaten an ant! Sweet wasn't just our bird, but the entire neighborhood was aware of her presence.
July passed, as summer does, to August and Sweet was now a full grown bird. She would now meet us at our bedroom window every morning at 5 am to let us know that breakfast should be served as soon as possible. I would grudgingly, but willingly, oblige and then she would be on her way flying from tree to tree in the anticipation of enjoying another beautiful summer day. As I saw her fly about the yard I wondered if we had done the right thing in trying to save this stout hearted little creature. That old saying 'it isn't nice to mess with mother nature' is a concern that can't be denied, but Sue and I both felt we had done the right thing.
Soon Sweet no longer came to our window, but would meet us on the railing on our back deck. She was hesitant to accept our offerings of food and friendship and one had the notion that nature and the natural order of things would reclaim its design. It was on an August morning that she jumped across the railing on the deck and let us know that we had done all we could; she was ready for flight and freedom. We knew the day would come and looked forward to it, but yet there was a sadness in our souls in not knowing what lay ahead for her. Would she be able to avoid danger? Would she think that all humans were her friends? Only she could answer and yet there is no answer. We do the best we can in helping to preserve and nurture life and hope for the best.
We never saw Sweet again, but her story fills these lines and our hearts with a fond remembrance. Fly on little bird. Freedom comes to those that love it.