Wednesday, December 31, 2014

2014; The Year In Review

                                                                   

Dear Readers,

You've no doubt noticed that, for the past two weeks, I've tried to stay away from negativity....have, instead, focused my attention on the nobility of the human spirit.  But, now it's time to do a "Year In Review", and damned if I can avoid talking about the obvious, good or not good.

Let's begin with the headlines out just yesterday.  Time Magazine conducted their "most admired" poll and it seems Barack Obama got the nod as "Most Admired American Man" and Hillary won it as the "Most Admired Woman".  From that polling I can only assume that wizardry thrives in the second decade of the 21st Century.  The little man (and woman) behind the curtain still has the "Oz-ites" under his spell and everything is just "hunky dory" in the Emerald City.  

Perhaps it's some form of mass hypnosis; after all just day before yesterday Barry paused from his golf game in Hawaii to announce that race relations in America had really improved since he took office in 2009! So, apparently, adult Black men do not mind a 30% unemployment rate and Black youth do not mind a 40% unemployment rate.  And Ferguson never happened, and a 7-time habitual criminal named Eric Garner didn't die while pedaling illegal cigarettes, and the 500 or so Blacks who died on the South Side of Chicago this year didn't happen, and two Black thugs didn't kill an 89 year old WWII vet over in Oklahoma City, and they didn't rape his 88 year old wife, and the plague of Black urban crime doesn't exist either.

And everything must be going great in the Middle East too!  President Obama announced yesterday that America's combat role in Afghanistan is now officially over and both ISIS and Al Quaida are on the run...this despite Al Quaida's massacring 133 little school kids in Pakistan last week and ISIS raping six year old girls in Iraq, and the mass murder of Christians didn't happen either.

On the home front Barry touts a year end Wall Street rally even as 93 million Americans remain unemployed or underemployed and more people are on food stamps than at any time in our history, and home ownership has declined to levels not seen since the 1950's.  And Barry boasts of 5 or 6 million people who now receive free health care...but only at the expense of working Americans who now pay higher premiums, and are now double taxed through both premium increases and via the income tax to support a class of people who get free Medicaid while owning late model cars, big screen TV's and can afford to pay their I-Phone bills...(unless they are getting free Obamaphones which are funded by those more than $10 bucks of monthly "excise taxes" that show up on your cell phone bill.

And, alas, last summer we learned that Bill and Hillary were dead broke when they left the White House, and that it took them a whole five years to accrue their first $100 million after their dire poverty in 2000 when they were down to their last two mansions.  

And, if things couldn't get any better, Barack Obama, after seeing his party creamed in the 2014 mid-terms, interpreted the election to mean Americans were all for granting amnesty to 7 million more illegal Mexicans....so he did so.  And somehow he convinced America that bringing in another 7 million impoverished Mexicans to the labor force, and to our social safety net programs, America will be better off.  

And he must be right...cause yesterday America voted him the "Most Admired" American.

HAPPY NEW YEAR DEAR READER! 

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

"Reach Out And Touch"

                                                         

For less than a hundred bucks a month a soldier anywhere in the world can call home on his cell phone...or text his loved ones, or Skype and actually see them as you talk.  His loved ones can send him instant videos of the kids at play, or on stage in the school play, or at a piano recital.  

Monday, December 29, 2014

"That Town In The Twilight Zone"

                                                       

Good morning folks,

I just finished watching an old episode of the Twilight Zone.  This one was about the little girl whose parents raised her to communicate only in telepathy.  That's really not the point.  This little girl...and the episode's characters all lived in "that town"; the one with the old fashioned street lights, wide streets, plentitude of parks, tree-shaded sidewalks and well dress citizens.  We all know "that town"; we've seen it in a hundred Twilight Zone episodes.  It's where the friendly neighbors hammered down the good doctor's bomb shelter, it's the town on Mars that lured the astronauts into thinking they were "among friends and family".  It's the town that hosted Earl Holliman as he walked around and found no living thing.  It's also the town where a meek and servile Dick York, simple bank teller, upon the flip of a coin, develops telepathic powers and brings down the meanie banking boss, prevents a kindly old bank guard from desperation theft..and wins the girl...all in 30 minutes time.

As I recall, this "set" was on the old MGM lot.  It was Mickey Rooney's hometown in those Andy Hardy movies and it was the same town where a young Debbie Reynolds and another MGM ingenue danced across sidewalks and neighbor's lawns singing a repetitive gibberish that charmed movie viewers in the 40's.  In the 50's the Beaver occupied the town; he and Wally tripped down the sidewalk to a school that knew not crystal meth or pot and the school's only black mark was when the Beav and the pudgy guy lost the money for some school charity.

We older folks were and are a pretty forgiving lot; we knew damn well this "town" was but a mirage..but we were willing to suspend reality and allow our imagination to work overtime.  Hell, we would not have been surprised if the Beaver wandered into a shot when old Earl was talking to that mannequin or Judy and Mickey came dancing down the streets to charm the astronauts into submission.

:)

Sunday, December 28, 2014

"Just Des(s)erts"

                                                               

I've lived in deserts too long.  Ten years in Saudi Arabia and ten years in Arizona.  Like most desert dwellers, I like sunshine.  We like our rain like we like our women---fast.  We want to see a monsoon blow in, drop three inches of rain in an hour, then move on, up over the northeast mountain ranges, and do what they will up in Colorado or Oklahoma or Missouri...and leave us with sunny skies.

Give us two cold and cloudy days in a row and we start whimpering like little girls and run to turn the thermostat up.  So this week, with night temperatures near freezing, and highs in the 50's, we're pretty damn miserable.  We leave the walk shorts hanging on the bathroom door and don wooly pants and parkas just for a run to the supermarket for eggs and milk.

Even my doggies are not immune from the cold spell.  They zip outside in the morning , do a fast squat, then leave their other business until later in the morning when temps are more civil.  While all summer they try to keep their distance from each other in the doggie bed, these days they lay "yin yang" as close to each other as they can get.

I'm tough enough to put up with a few hours of gray skies...if there's some rain tied to it.  What I can't stand is for the damn clouds to linger all day and, like an old maid, simply refuse to "put out."  

So the weather people are telling us we're going to be 5 degrees below normal for this time of year, with partly cloudy skies, for at least the next week.  Strange weather for these parts.  Not as strange though as one "El Nino" year back in the mid-90's when I was still working in Saudi.  I remember coming home to San Diego for a 30 day leave.  And damned if it didn't rain for every one of those 30 days....then the damn thing made its way all the way to the Saudi desert where, upon my return, I faced still another month of bizarre rainy weather.  By the time those two months of unending rain was over I felt myself scrubbing green mold off my shoulders before getting dressed for work.

So I guess I can tolerate a week or so of cloudy skies and below normal temps.  I'll keep scratching the itch caused by wooly pants and parka fur for a bit longer.  And I'll keep cranking up the thermostat until this damn cold spell eases.  

But I find it for more comfortable, and far more enjoyable when I can mock my cousins out in snow bound Missouri and Oklahoma...as I put on T-shirt and walking shorts for the milk and egg runs.  For now though, I guess I'm getting my just "des(s)erts for making fun of them in the past.

Sigh.

Friday, December 26, 2014

"The 'Cat Man' of Parliament Hill"

                                                           

Rene Chartrand died a couple of weeks ago.  He was 92 years old.  Don't feel bad if you don't know him.  He's one of those "small life" heroes who didn't make headlines much, but touched the lives of dozens of God's creatures.....a colony of feral cats.

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Reflections On A Christmas Morning

                                                                 

As was his custom, the old man rose early on Christmas morning, gently threw back the covers from his side of the bed, and tiptoed out into the hallway, unwilling to awaken his wife so early in the morning.  She would be busy enough this day, assembling the small feast for the two of them, the table resplendent whether for two or twenty.

He waddled down the hallway, creaking joints and muscles frozen still with sleep.  He drifted into the kitchen, switching on the coffee pot, then bathed his face in cold water over the sink.  The dogs, already beginning their anxious mewing, were let out into the back yard for their early morning ablutions.  By the time they came back in, their fir stiff from the morning cold, the coffee was ready so he poured a cup and wandered out to the living room and plunked down into his easy chair.  Taking the first aromatic swig of his morning coffee he sat in silent reflection, only the lights from the Christmas tree illuminating his small corner of the morning.  The dogs settled at his feet and shivered a time or two, pawed a small space on the carpet, then settled in for a spell of early morning napping.

The old man felt a slight chill so he rose and started a fire in the hearth, fed it a few pieces of ash, then settled back in his chair, satisfied to sit and admire hearth and home.  He looked again at the tree, brightly lit and softly aglow with half a century of lights and ornaments collected over Christmases past.  The tree had gone up only last night because he reveled in the scent of fresh fir on Christmas morning.  And, as he breathed in the rich scent of evergreen his mind drifted back to the Christmases of his childhood.  All of a sudden there were sixty trees, not one...a metaphorical forest of firs that had graced a corner of Christmases at homes over these three score years.  

And that wonderful scent of fir took him back...back...to Christmas mornings when the wonderful smells of fresh cinnamon rolls from the oven distracted a child for only a moment, the lure of brightly wrapped packages nearly overpowering all else.  And the old man, now sixty years later, could still smell the fresh leather from the belt and holster that cradled his two Roy Rogers guns....and the scent of serious gun play as the row of caps threaded their way up with every drop of the hammer.  And what was that over on the other side of the room?  Was that sis bouncing a little rubber ball and grabbing a "twosie" or "threesie" or "foursie" before the little ball hits the floor again?  And was that my little brother moaning in irritation that his gun belt was too big too cinch around his elfin waist?

And, yes, he even thought of cheap plastic footballs, and old Radio Flyers plunked from the trash barrel, new found toys for a less fortunate boy to resurrect and set out for a round of pop bottle collecting?  Even the hard candy Christmases were good ones...because there are no bad Christmases as a child.  Even when there is very little the Christmas night dreams are chocked full of childhood wishes for shiny red Radio Flyers and Lionel trains circling the Christmas tree...and not having them did not mar the dreams that came in the night.

And, when it was time for him to have his own children, Christmas was no less joyous.  More joyful perhaps because giving is so much better than receiving.  So the old man looked deeper into the vast depths of his morning tree...and saw little girls, their eyes alight with Barbie Dolls and Cabbage Patch dolls and little boys with their own cap guns and police cars with roaring siren and stockings stuffed with sweets for a childhood tongue.

And, every morning, during all his adult years, he was the first to rise, and sit before the Christmas tree, and reflect on Christmases past.  Before the joyous tumult of Christmas day with a house full of kids, or while sitting in a night bunker half a world away, Christmas always called him in the early hours of the morning...and bid him to sit and reflect on the wonder of Christmases past.

As the old man took his last sip of his first cup of coffee a gentle hand found his shoulder and he reached up to clasp her hand and whisper a quiet good morning.  The time for reflection was over; it was time to get up and begin to adorn a shiny new Christmas in this, his 66th year.  Time to fashion still another Christmas day and add it to his long list of Christmas wonders...so that this day too will be one deserving of reflection on some future Christmas morning when all is quiet...and the memories shall blossom once again.

Merry Christmas everyone.  May all your Christmases be worthy of quiet reflection.

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Tears That Would Fill An Ocean

                                                       

We stood on the shore alone that one December morning long ago, the rest of the family back at the cottage, deep in holiday slumber.   My little boy danced in the shallows, kicking at the frothy surf, then bent to examine more closely a multicolored sea shell.  A gentle wave splashed in his face and he ran his tongue along his lower lip, sampling the taste of an ancient ocean.

"Daddy, why is the ocean salty?", my little boy asked.

I pondered his question, one of ten thousand he would ask of me during our years together.  I waltzed it around in my mind, then began to tell a story unknown even to me until that very moment.

"Son, the ocean is salty because every Christmas season millions of people cry a million tears, tears of joy, tears of sadness, tears of loneliness, tears for those who shared Christmases past and are no longer with you".

"Why so many tears at Christmas?" my little boy asked.

"Because son, December is a time when darkness falls heavily over the earth and the quietude of of soft gray skies and winter breezes brush away the blare of car horns and train whistles and church bells bid the world be silent for a spell.  It is in this gentle silence that we begin to recall the words of an ancient carpenter who preached of love and forgiveness".  "And just as we treasure the precious light from these brief wintry days, the world basked in His light for all too brief a time."

Blinking into the sun just coming over the mountains, my boy asked "Do they cry because they miss him?"

"Many do", I said.  "But it is much more than that.  You see, somehow, without it even being said, folks this time of year assume some form of their own personal redemption."  "Their hearts soften, they become more attuned to the feelings of others, they begin to want to be better versions of themselves."

"So they cry for the homeless and the destitute, they cry for the hundred thousand or so who will die of starvation on this day, they cry for those alone in a season that celebrates family and friendship".

"And they cry tears of joy when the wealth of family enlivens the hearth and lightens the heart, they cry  at the generosity and kindness in the presentation of a cherished gift, they cry at the mewing of a Christmas kitten or the glad-soundings of a little puppy, a Christmas ribbon about his neck."

My little boy smiled at that, then asked "so what happens to all those tears, Daddy?"

"Son, some of them wash away the bitterness of an angry heart, some of them enrich the seeds of new buds that will bloom and thrive in the warmth of a spring sun, and their souls will blossom and turn outward and never again will they dwell in the darkness."

"So", my little boy pondered,  "that's a lot of tears from millions of people!"

"Yes, son".  "And they flow into streams and then into rivers, where they wash away the sadness and make everything clean again, before they at last flow into the ocean where God has chosen to accept them".

At that, my little boy turned and looked out upon the vast ocean, and single tear fell from his eye.

As I watched the tear fall into the roiling surf, I dropped to my knees and hugged my little boy…and I said to him "someone once said to another long ago, go find that tear in the vastness of God's ocean…and when you do, that will be the day that I'll stop loving you".

Merry Christmas to my dear friends and family.  May you only know tears of joy in this holiest of seasons.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

"The Christmas Present"

                                                                
Like most folks, Christmas is my favorite time of year.  It is a time when the hard edges of the soul softens and, in this age of societal savagery, it is a welcome respite, when folks feel unusually kindly to one another. 

I've had so many memorable Christmases.  Sometimes, I've had to rely on the Christmases of memories past to chase away the loneliness; looking back I can count having spent three Christmases in Vietnam, two in Korea and eight of them in the Middle East.  During these times away from family I've always been able to conjure up memories of joyous family Christmases and that has been enough to see me through.  Those Christmases alone made the Christmases with family even more special.

One of my most memorable Christmases was when I was ten years old.  It came during a time when my family's finances were at their most tenuous.  My mother, trying to keep a single parent household together,  was working as a dollar per hour waitress and I guess the tips that month were small because the kitchen pantry was sparse, and though she said nothing, it was one of the few times I saw my mom consumed by fear.  Since we had lived on the brink of starvation many times during the past years we were well aware that Christmas presents were probably not in the cards for my sister, brother and me. 

Yet, on Christmas morning, we awoke to the scent of Christmas cooking and Christmas joy is not always confined to the granting of material offerings, so we kids were infused with Christmas joy.  When we got up we saw that our stockings were filled with apples and oranges and nuts and we all felt immeasurable love for our mom for these meager gifts. 

When we looked upon the Christmas tree we were surprised to see three wrapped presents beneath the tree.  These stood out from the crude wrappings our school-made presents for Mom that we had placed beneath the tree the night before.

After breakfast we opened our presents.  My sister went first and unwrapped a cheap plastic doll.  Then my brother and I excitedly tore open our presents.  Both of us received a hard plastic football.  As I stared at this cheap, ugly and totally useless gift I must have looked very disappointed.  As I looked at my mother I could see the hurt and disappointment in her face too, yet I couldn't wipe that frown off my face.  My downturned lips had absolutely nothing to do with any disappointment in the gift....but my ten year old mind could not voice what I was really feeling. 

The teary eyes were not because I didn't like the gift....which I didn't... but from the frustration at our poverty and my first sensory revelation of what my mother had to go through every day just to provide for us.  I don't believe my love for her has ever been stronger than the moment I opened that cheap and ugly gift.  I guess if one really does have "life-meaning" moments this was one for me.  To this day I value the spirituality of Christmas far more than any material gifts.

With all my heart I feel a deep sadness for kids today who receive IPADs and Sony gaming systems or digital cameras for Christmas.  Christmas today has become a modern orgy of giving and I wonder how it is even possible to find the spirituality of Christmas amidst the bright shiny bounty that detracts from the season's true meaning.

So, every Christmas comes around and the season's magic transports me once again to a time when the smallest token of love meant so much.  That hard, cheap plastic football proved to be much more valuable than the most expensive gift I have ever received.

Monday, December 22, 2014

"A Cold-Eyed Look At Christmas"

                                                               

It's time to take a hard and cold-eyed and honest look at Christmas.  The Christmas we celebrate today is a conglomeration of pagan practice married to our religiosity, then greatly embellished by commercialism.  Let's remember that all the greenery; the holly berry and the fir tree had their birth with the ancient Druids.  Druids celebrated the winter solstice, the shortest day of the year by bringing greenery into the home.  This was to hearten the god of the sun at his weakest moment, the greenery also promising that spring would come again and the earth would resume providing the bounty of seed and flower and drive the chill from our bones.

It would not be until centuries later, when Martin Luther paused in a clearing of fir trees, looked up into a field of bright stars, and got the idea to place candles on and around the home greenery, that fir trees and holly berry would take on a religious significance....and begin the practice of brightly adorning fir trees brought into the home.

And it would be another two centuries before America would embrace the idea of a Christmas tree.  The "Pennsylvania Dutch" and the Germans first began the tradition in America.  Even as late as the 1830's when the Dutch were putting up a tree, American puritanism scoffed at the idea, believing that Christmas should be a solemn celebration of the birth of Christ.  

In the 1890's the idea of Christmas trees finally caught on in America.  And Santa wasn't such a big deal even then.  Even Clement Moore, in his "The Night Before Christmas" had the fat man wrapped in nondescript furs, nothing like the brightly red clad fellow who appeared first in a 1931 Coca Cola ad!  

And it was really not until the 1940's, when businesses figured out there was money to be made, that Christmas became the monumental holiday it has become.  Given that nearly 50% of America no longer believes in God, and certainly not in Christ, the son, we can clearly see that Christmas today is largely a material orgy, with half of us never letting the word Christ pass through our lips.  Indeed, "Happy Holidays" is the cry of the day and Christmas has largely been banned from schools and in public places, lest our atheistic friends become offended.

Oh there is some good to be gleaned from the Christmas season.  Folks do tend to turn a kinder eye toward their fellow man....and we postpone our current level of savagery for a few weeks.  And, with the dissipation of the nuclear family, Christmas does give us a reason to gather together and form a familial circle for a time.  

And Christmas still has magic for those twixt two and ten, who still believe in Santa Claus, their cynicism not fully developed, their hopes and dreams of wonder still intact.  And we, the cynical, still see the light in a child eyes and remember how it once was for us as well.  And that seems more than enough to keep Christmas in our hearts.  

But, for those who still believe in the story; of a carpenter who walked the earth for far too brief a time, for those who remember his healing and forgiving words, Christmas will continue to be a season for celebrating an ethos that makes us better people.  And who could ask for more than that.

Merry Christmas all.


Friday, December 19, 2014

Tis The Season For Angels

                                                     


                                               Tis The Season For Angels                  

As the Christmas season approaches we tend to become more introspective.  We gently peel away the tender layers of the soul in the present to regard the many complex textures of the past.

And since the strongest memories are usually our fondest, we tend to remember the times of love, happiness, togetherness and contentment.  This is especially true during the holiday season when our hearts and minds are attuned in a truly miraculous way, for our souls are able to turn both inward and outward, feel the compelling need to love and cherish the reunion and reaffirmation of family, while becoming more sensitive to the joys or sadness or plight or need of the most casual passerby.

It has often been said that man, at his best, is listening to the voices of his better angels.  I certainly believe that to be true.  Although I struggle with the precepts of organized religion and intellectually joust with the firm and unyielding biblical doctrine, I know with my heart's certainty that God does indeed exist and that Jesus walked this earth and did indeed try to promote the love and understanding so necessary for peace among men to endure.

And so it is so very fitting that we honor the birth of one of our greatest angels.  My belief in angels has  become so forcibly strengthened as one and another of my loved ones have passed to that distant shore.   But each one of them has cared enough to look back at their loved ones left behind to extend a spiritual sign that all is well and this estrangement is but fleeting; that one some unknown day we shall meet again.

Let us celebrate the birth of Jesus and let us be thankful for this opportunity to once again form the family circle; to talk, to argue, to feast, to laugh, to huddle together in the protective and loving arms of "family".

But let us also celebrate and honor our angels who were once a part of our lives; who, whether we note it or not, are continuing to look over our shoulder and strive to protect us and strengthen us against the fiercest of life's storms.  Let us not forget them, in this holiest of seasons...or for all the days of our lives.

As we all navigate life's treacherous waters we should certainly exult in our triumphs and our joys, while recognizing that not all who travel in the fragile vessel of fraternity and family will be there when we reach our final destination.  Some of us will succumb to the currents and be swept away long before the completion of the voyage.  So give an extra hug to mom or dad or grandma or grandpa; it may be your last chance to do so.   Give an extra hug and kiss for your children; ask anyone who has lost a child how dearly would they love to have one last chance to do so.

Let us try to love and honor each other for all the days that remain to us.  And let us celebrate those angels who, even now, stand over our shoulder, touch our hearts and souls and make us better than we might ever be.

After all, Tis The Season of Angels.



Thursday, December 18, 2014

The Obamas Suffer Racism...Again!

                                                                 

We've been mistreating Barack and Michelle again.  In case you missed it, People Magazine this week will feature a sorrowful story about how Barry and Michelle have been the victim of racism, even after six years in the White House.  

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

"Not The Safest Way"

                                                           

My Uncle Bill used to drop by our house for a cup of coffee before heading out to the grocery store.  After chewing the fat with my mom, he would swig down the last drop of coffee, then announce "well, better get going..got to get over to "the safest way".  He was referring to our little town's Safeway Store.  At that time Safeway was pretty much the "cock of the roost" of grocery stores in our area.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Peace, Brothers and Sisters

                                                           

"Let there be peace on earth..and let it begin with me."  Peace, brothers and sisters.  There seems to be thousands of people who will fill the streets in protests over the death of a couple of thugs.  They loot and burn and spout the most hateful invective you are ever likely to hear.  Politicians and the Hollywood elite join in the fray, hopeful to garner a few extra votes come next election, or send you rushing to the theater to see the next cinema triumph!  Your government masters insist that you hurry and sign up for an Obamacare program lest you suffer IRS persecution in the form of massive fines come next April.  When you see ISIS raping little girls and beheading Christians, all in the name of their religion, you can't know peace.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

The Last Full Measure

                                                                 


 I was doing a little shopping and, as I often do to keep my old bald head warm, I was wearing my old Vietnam unit's military hat.  While I was comparing soup prices two nearly identical looking ladies came up to me and thanked me for my service.  That happens a lot to me these days.  But these ladies, who seemed to be somewhere in their late 40's, were a notch more enthusiastic about it, patting me on the shoulder while expressing their thanks. 

Friday, December 12, 2014

Ben's Bells

                                                               

On the morning of 29 March, 2002, Jeannette Mare was holding her two year old son, Ben, in her arms.  He had a case of the croup and she was trying to comfort him.  Soon, Jeannette realized that Ben was in distress and having difficulty breathing.  So she rushed her son to the hospital, but it was too late.  Ben died as one of those rare occurrences that only God can explain.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Yes, Virginia, Santa Is A Democrat

                                                             

Dear Virginia,

Thank you for your letter which asked me if your friends are correct, if indeed there is no Santa Claus.  Dear girl, here's what I have to offer you.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

The Feng Shui Witch

                                                               

"The Feng Shui Witch"
Most of you probably know about "feng shui". It's the ancient Chinese Philosophy about being in synch with your environment. A devotee will seek to bring harmony to the home and the career and anything else that matters. With regard to the home the pairing of things that go well together; natural elements like wood, or stone, or water, or sand. Or, to add spice to life, you pair exact opposites, the Ying Yang. 
Feng shui also demands that clear and definable pathways be available in the home....clutter free traffic lanes for both safety and ease of transit...but also peace of mind. 
Okay, now that I've explained it please don't think I'm getting ready to offer a boring listing of specifics. Nope....I'm here this morning to tell you about "the feng shui witch" who just happens to be my wife. Now I wrote earlier about what a finicky housekeeper my wife is. While I am more than happy with a smudge on the refrigerator, some dog hair hiding in the corner of the room, a half inch of dust on my Congressional Medal of Honor hanging on the wall (just kidding about the Congressional; it's just an old bowling trophy), I do insist on clear traffic lanes as I traverse the house. 
Sadly, my wife is hell bent on putting obstacles in my path. She'll pull out a plastic tray of those Korean romance movies she loves so dearly, pop her movie selection into the DVD player, then walk away, leaving the DVD tray directly in my path back to the back patio. If I am treading cautiously, and can avoid tumbling over those movies, I'll likely find a garden fork, claws up, resting comfortably square on the back step mat, ready to plunge its claws into the bottom of my tender feet. If I wanted to use fire up the barbecue I'd first have to remove a pair of pruning sheers resting on the top arch of the barbecue, then remove a small pot of cilantro she's left on the side burner. I have to be careful anywhere in the yard. I might turn the corner to take out the recyclables and trip over the garden cart she's left squarely in the middle of the sidewalk, having been sitting there since last week's weeding session. 
43 years of this people! When we're both in the kitchen it is not uncommon for my wife to move about, opening kitchen cabinets, and leaving half a dozen cabinet doors fully open. I have bent down to get something from a kitchen drawer and raised up and cracked my head on an open kitchen cabinet door....hundreds of times! I almost got an extra disability compensation from the VA when the doc saw all the scars on the top of my now bald head! ...war wounds from the kitchen! I used to angrily march down a row of open cabinet doors and angrily slam them shut, hoping to make a point with my wife. All I made was a domestic spat so I finally gave up on that tactic. 
And today, more than 40 years later the "feng shui witch" still leaves those kitchen cabinet doors open. And I, no longer fit for battle, simply follow along behind her and close them quietly and sigh in surrender. When my kids were little I thought my wife was conspiring with them to drive me mad. I would come home and find lovely sharp edged toys just waiting for me to step on with my stocking feet. One year the home became so accident prone I called in Mickey from Mutual of New York and upped my life insurance payout! Dick Van Dyke has nothing on me; I've tripped on ottomans and toys and garden forks and toilet plungers and just about anything else the mind can conceive of. Frankly, I'm lucky to be alive. 
Okay, that's my bitch session for this morning. If my wife wants to get on here and bitch about my idiosyncrasies she's free to do so; now that I've long since given up leaving my underwear on the bathroom floor, or leave the toilet seat up, there's little she could say that might embarrass me.

Monday, December 8, 2014

Why Uncle Sam Won't Give You The Same Deal As Big Banks

                                                               

Okay boys and girls, today we're going to have a little refresher course on the Federal Reserve and the U.S. banking system.  Pay attention because I'm going to ask you a few questions when this is over.

Remember the "Fed Window?" That's the electronic gateway that grants the big money banks daily access to Federal Reserve Funds.  As you might remember, despite all of Barry's boasts about a vigorous economy, the Fed has been loaning out money to banks at obscenely low interest rates; in the last few years from 0 percent to 1/4 of one percent!  Pretty good, huh?  And keep in mind, those low bank borrowing rates are in addition to the FED's "QE program" where the Fed has been pumping $70 billion dollars a month in an effort to jumpstart the American economy.  QE1 was $20 billion a month, and that wasn't enough so they went to QE2 at $45 billion a month, then when Barry kept demonizing business and thwarting free commerce the Fed had to go to $70 billion a month!

Okay kids, can we all agree that the Fed has been very generous to the big banks?  And can we remember (through these blog essays) what the big banks have been doing with that free Fed money? Yep, they've been sitting on it, building up cash reserves because Obama and Holder and Obama's banking czars will shut them down if they don't maintain big reserves.  Oh, a little filters down into the economy....Chase Bank will take that zero interest fed money and issue you a credit card with an 18% interest rate...pretty nice, huh?  Or, if you're willing to put down half the price of a house as down payment, and you have a FICO score of 800 you might even get a home loan from a bank.

Okay, boys and girls, are you ready for some questions?  Here goes!

1)  If the banks aren't putting that Fed money into the economy why won't the Fed loan you, the citizen, the money?  Hell, you'd jump at the chance for a 4% home loan directly from the Fed, wouldn't you?  And, if the Fed did give you a home loan,  can you imagine how quickly the housing market would rebound?  And for you current homeowners, how happy would you be to have your home value rise to what it once was?

2) So, if direct lending to the consumer would jump start the housing market, why wouldn't the Fed do it?  NOPE! I'm not going to give you the answer yet!

3)  Hey college students!  How would you like to have 1% student loans and be able to afford making payments on those student loans you've made?  How much would the economy improve if a college grad could afford a car when he graduates....or some furniture not from Ikea?  Or a move out of Mom and Dad's basement?  So why isn't the Fed giving you a loan that would yield four times the interest that the big banks are paying them?  NOPE, I'm not going to tell you!

4)  How about direct Fed loans for small business?  Hell, they make up 70% of all business in America!  Why won't the fed prime the economic pump with...oh, say 3% business loans at 12 times the interest that they are giving Big banks?

5) Car dealers?  Restaurants?  Home Depot and Lowes?  How happy would those businesses be to see a customer with low interest cash walking in to buy?

Okay boys and girls...time to give me an answer as to why the Fed isn't sending loans your way.  Have you guessed it yet?

Cause you're a damn poor credit risk and Uncle Sam doesn't trust you with THEIR money!  

Oh sure, they'll dole out money to buy votes.  They'll reward their "besties" with killer deals.  They'll even take a multi-billion dollar dive into failing solar companies and exploding battery makers!  And they'll fund grants to study the sex life of the six horned frog, but YOU aint' gonna get a break!  They don't trust you!  Get it now?

Yes, they will trust banks that almost destroyed the economy in 2008!  They'll let illegal Mexicans  spend $11 billion dollars in IRS child tax credits each and every year, thus pumping up the Mexican economy!  They'll even loan an African 'babooki' tribe millions, then write the loan off as good diplomatic relations.  They'll give the Palestinians $49 million dollars in a single week to rebuild what they themselves destroyed...but not you sucker!

And how about all that foreign aid that Uncle Sam GIVES away?  How's that been working out for us?  Anyone love us for giving them money?  The answer is "no!"

So, boys and girls, fellow citizens, taxpayer pals of mine, I'm sorry....if you're expecting the Fed to give you support and succor you're delirious.  You're a square peg in a round whole that just doesn't fit their "loan profile".   Yes, they have a "voter block" profile, the green check crowd that will vote "big government" every time...the bigger the better.  And they have their "corporate" profile, the lobbyist boys who enrich a politicians pocketbook and re-election fund.  But, sorry, no loan profile for you, the "working stiff" that pays the bills.  

Class dismissed!  Please be quiet in the hallways!

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Pearl Harbor; A Fond Remembrance

                                                     

While stationed at Hickam Air Force Base in Honolulu, Hawaii, I was reminded daily of the Pearl Harbor attack.  I was a junior officer and worked on the third floor of the Headquarters, Pacific Air Forces building.  Each day as I entered the doors of that historic building I saw the dozens of pock marks on the exterior walls, machine gun damage from Japanese Zeroes, and left there untouched to remind all of us the importance of vigilance.

And I was honored to visit the USS Arizona Memorial on many occasions.  We in the military had special and easy access to the memorial at any time we wished to visit.  And, I'm proud to say that I was given the special privilege as an officer to swear in many of my enlisted force during their 're-up' ceremony…an honorable and happy event when they raised their right hand and signed up for four more years of service.  The swearing in ceremony is usually led by Colonels and Generals but, as a prior enlisted officer, many of my troops honored me by asking me to lead their swearing in.  It is always a special day for the enlisted man and he is given a preference of when and where it will be held.  It is a "chill bump" moment when the man or woman will again swear the oath to defend their country and their constitution.  

Because of the august nature of the USS Arizona Memorial, and because it is a living symbol of military sacrifice, it was often the choice of where my troops wanted to be sworn in.  So, off we would go, in the early morning hours and meet up on the docks of Pearl Harbor Navy Base.  Service member, family and friends would be ferried out to the Memorial, arriving just as the sun is rising over the island.

Once we docked at the Memorial we would all note the drops of oil, still rising to the top of the water even after half a century has passed.  We all become more quiet and solemn as we imagine those floating drops as tears rising to the surface, tears from over 1100 sailors who gave their lives on that historic day.  

                                                 

Then, as the trade winds carried the scent of plumeria across the harbor, we would march to the memorial wall where inscribed are the names of those who still live in their watery grave below.  I would then call the troop being sworn in forward, would raise my right hand, as he raised his, and he would recite the solemn pledge offered time and time again during his military career.

And that pledge was never as heart felt and never offered with as much commitment as when they stood atop the graves of the hundreds of military men who rest below our feet.

It is often hard for those who never served to understand the almost religious commitment that a service member offers in his swearing in.  Most of us know and have friends who gave the ultimate sacrifice in the service of their country.  When they recite that centuries old oath they are following in the footsteps of millions who have sacrificed, and those who gave their lives for their country.  And never was that commitment as endearing, as enduring, as when it is offered while standing on the very shoulders of those who paid the ultimate price.

Take a moment and say a prayer for those who gave their lives…and offer a prayer of safety for all of our service members as they awake today and head out to do their duty.

Saturday, December 6, 2014

An Angel Among Us

                                                       

It was Christmas season, 1999.  In March we had lost our son and my wife and I had little enthusiasm for celebrating the season.   With Christmas less than two weeks away we hadn't bothered to put up a tree or decorate the house, as is our tradition.  Then we read in the paper that a local church would be conducting a special non-denominational prayer gathering for people who had lost a loved one during the year.  We decided to go. for our hearts were still aching so dearly for our loss.

The parking lot of the church was nearly full as we arrived at the church.  I was surprised...have so many people lost a loved one?, I asked myself.  As we entered and took a seat I noticed that the church was lovingly adorned for the Christmas season.  I imagined holiday church goers must have found real pleasure with the field of angels that were arrayed from the ceiling to the right of the pulpit.  To the left, a beautiful nativity scene stood, alight with candles.  However, all I could see on this night was a sea of faces drawn in sorrow as they prepared to face Christmas with a loved one missing this year.

The choir then stood and led us in a rendition of "Joy To The World",  seemingly an affront to those here who would know no joy this Christmas.  The minister then stood and walked to the pulpit.  Upon looking back on his address I have to believe he was divinely inspired that night; intent on easing the pain on a couple of hundred faces in that church.  He did not speak about the birth of Christ, nor the star in the east and the wise men.  Nor did he threaten the outcome of our souls should we turn away from Christ.

Instead, he chose the beautifully poetic verses in the Bible, the ones which promised hope and healing and comfort.  He spoke of the indomitable life of the spirit of both the living and those who have passed.  

And then he led us to the summoning of our memories of the one we have lost.  He asked us to remember and to take what joy we can from what our loved one gave us while in life.  He asked us to face our pain so that we might remember a gentle touch, an extending of kindness, the satisfaction of a pleasantly shared meal, a vacation that once brought smiles and laughter.  

As we listened to that minister speak a thousand images of our son passed through our minds, many that lightened the heart.  As I looked around the church I could see the lines of worry and pain began to dissipate on those many faces as love remembered triumphed over loss.  

It was as if that minister, with a sweep of his hands, had called forth two hundred or so loved ones who had passed, and ushered them in from the church wings, presented in all their glory, a touch of heaven now shining on their faces.  

When the minister finished talking the choir again stood and led us in song..."Let there be peace on earth and let it begin with me"...and indeed we did feel peace, a peace we had not felt since the death of our son.

As we began to rise and file out the door the minister stood and shook our hands and extended a small gift box to each of us.  When we got home and opened the box it contained a gold angel, a Christmas ornament to hang on the tree.....a reminder that our loved ones will always be with us as long as we have memories of them.

And we did decorate our home for Christmas that year....and we did put up a Christmas tree.  And on that tree, and every year since, the tree is adorned with a little gold angel to remind us that there are angels among us.






Friday, December 5, 2014

"Cops"

                                                                   

The guy in the picture is a cop, now retired.  My brother.  When he was growing up he loved climbing monkey bars, playing marbles, running foot races, carry a football down a football field.  He was a great pitcher, sought all over the county by teams who needed his strong arm and will to win.  When we were growing up there were few families as poor as we were, so my brother understood poverty and being underprivileged and alienated.  

He mowed lawns, hauled furniture, strung Christmas lights or picked grapes when he was probably too young to do any of that.  He served a hitch in the Army National Guard and when he was done with that he applied for a job with the police force in our city.  He had such a fine reputation, such sterling character that he was the only police recruit to have his police training sponsored and paid for by the police department.  

When he graduated from the police academy he hit the mean streets.  He rescued wives from a battering.  He saved children from abuse.  He pulled battered bodies from auto wrecks.  He patrolled the city streets and kept his little town safe at night.  

One night a druggie threw PCP in his face and he narrowly escaped death by PCP.  Without the heroic efforts of another cop who had been similarly afflicted he might not have made it.  Even so, for nearly a year after the incident he still suffered from the shakes and found himself having to control his voice because it would surge in volume as the nasty aftereffects of PCP chemicals still trying to attack his brain.

He would later become a K-9 cop, spending hours in training with his canine partner.  He treated that canine as well as he would a human partner....and he grew to love that dog as he loved himself.  And he cried when his K-9 friend crossed the Rainbow Bridge...cried like a baby.

My brother saw the worst human behavior that the devil can create.  He has walked into trouble and never knew if he would walk away alive.  And yet, remarkably, he never lost the sense that people are basically good, never became cynical about the human condition....always tried to find the good..sometimes when there was little "good" to be seen.

And, when his shift was done, his family breathed a sigh of relief that dad and husband was home safe once again.  Home, to hug and cradle his children, to watch with joy when they opened their Christmas presents, or blew out the candles on a birthday cake.  Husband.  Father.  Cop.

And there are hundreds of thousands of good cops across America...just like my brother.  As in every segment of society, there are a few rotten apples.  That's to be expect...they are human.  But, to condemn all cops for the deeds of a very few is despicable.  While the military "stand the wall" around the world to protect freedom, it is the cops who "stand the wall" to keep you safe at night.

Our President, and his tax-dodging, or politically motivated allies, says we must not "militarize" the cops, even as the mean streets of America become more savage every year.  Our politicians create a hell of a mess and then leave it to the military or the cops to clean up their mess.  And then criticize and publicly persecute them when they do.  

Just try to imagine a world without the military or without the cops.  Imagine the savagery and chaos that would ensue without those who bravely go out every night and day and "stand the wall."

Maybe I put my brother way up on a pedestal because I love him so much.  Or maybe, just maybe he belongs there with the other two hundred thousand sentinels that keep me safe at night.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

"Nose To The 'Grind' Stone

                                                           

I've added something to my bucket list.  I want to drive up to Seattle, walk down to the harbor front and go into one of those little coffee roasters there in port, grab a medium sized "bold, house blend", then walk down to the waterfront and drink that wonderful cup of joe as I look out on the harbor...the scent of the ocean and the aromatic coffee delighting my nose.

Please don't confuse me with those Starbucks weenies that spend $4,000 a year on their morning $7 dollar Starbucks' latte.  I've been in Starbucks twice in my life.  That does not mean that coffee is not one of the greatest pleasures of my life....it simply means, as a rule, I won't pay $5 or $6 or $7 bucks for a cup of coffee.

I started drinking coffee when I was twelve years old.  Loved it from the first sip.  Didn't start out to drink it to copy the grownups...it was just a pleasure I acquired early.   

In those first teen years of coffee drinking just about any brew would do.  My mom would buy the cheapest she could find so sometimes it was Folgers, sometimes it was Chock Full O Nuts and sometimes it was just a three pound of generic grind.  The only coffee I couldn't drink back then was my Uncle Bill and Aunt Fannie's brew.  They would generally just dump 12 ounces of coffee in one of those huge coffee urns and, no matter how long it sat, they'd drink that bitter and black brew throughout the day.

For three years in Vietnam I drank some of the foulest brew known to man.  If I were lucky enough to get it in the chow hall it was just mildly bad.  The cooks just threw huge cans of ground government brand coffee in a huge steel vat, filled it with hot water and brought it to a boil, then siphoned the liquid off into huge coffee urns and towed them to the serving line.  When I was posted at night out in a bunker or up in a guard tower I took out the little instant coffee pack from my C-rations, mixed it with canteen water and heated it up on a can of sterno.  Still, it was better than no coffee at all!

When I returned to the "land of the Big BX" (America) I was once again in coffee heaven.  I used to love to walk into a Denny's in the morning, buy a paper, take a seat at the counter and drink cup after cup of Denny's coffee.  If I were seated in a booth and ordered breakfast, the waitress would bring me a whole carafe of coffee...that was like foreplay to me...she couldn't have been more sexy to me!

I have sat up all night talking with family and friends, about life, about death, about dreams, and drank pot after pot of coffee...and those nights were memorable; good talk and good coffee.

When I lived in Saudi Arabia, and was invited to a native's home, we'd have a meal, then the hostess would bring out a big brass pot of arabic coffee. They served it in little thimble cups and when you'd had your fill of coffee you turned that little cup upside down or else your host would just keep re-filling your cup.  And, while in Saudi Arabia, I began developing a taste for bolder European brews...so much so that, when I returned to America, Folgers just didn't cut it for me anymore.  I found that Costco's house blends to be a good compromise between the now watery tasting Folgers and the stronger brews I had become accustomed to drinking overseas.  

Then one day a few years ago, my daughter ruined me for off the shelf coffees for all time.  She bought me a monthly subscription to Peet's Coffee; Goruda Blend and I was hooked!  Everything after that may as well have been that C-ration instant I was forced to drink in Vietnam.  The Peet's Goruda Blend is made from coffee beans grown in some exotic island in Asia and is both bold and smooth and ultimately satisfying.  I still have to drink the Costco Decaf in the evening but, even then, I top it off with a scoop of the Goruda Blend to civilize it a bit.

Oh, I've slummed a bit when forced to; at a McDonald's or in a restaurant somewhere when I'm far away from my Bunn coffee maker and my precious Goruda, but not often.  I'm known to lug a commuter mug around all day just so I can enjoy my brew.

So, yeah, I've put Seattle on my bucket list.  Those folks up there go orgasmic over their coffees and I want to walk down the waterfront streets of Seattle and breathe in all that coffee roasting going on.  My cup of joe runneth over.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

The $88 Dollar Man

                                                             

Steve Austin was the Million Dollar Man.  He lives in Beverly Hills and drives a Mercedes.  Dan Austin is the $88 dollar man, lives up in Seattle, Washington and gets around on a bike.  

Dan Austin is one of those folks so damn full of the zest for life that he seems to be just bursting at the seams with it.  A couple of decades ago he and his brother and a friend set off on a cross country bike tour, then wrote a book about it.  That experience spurred Dan to get into telling a small part of the world's stories in print and with film.  He proved to be good enough to become an award winning documentary film maker.  

While traveling the world Dan learned of the immense heartbreak of child sex trafficking.  He met little six and seven year old girls who had been sold into the sex trade and their stories broke his heart.  He thought of how tragic it was that little girls had their innocence stolen from them at such a young and tender age.  And, thanks to the heroic efforts of many fine organizations, many of these little girls have been rescued and returned to their families, or put in the care of foster parents.  

Dan wanted to help.  He wanted to make an effort to restore a bit of the magic of childhood to those whose childhood had been taken from them.  He wanted to give them a sense of freedom, a chance to go out and explore a bit of the world and try to find a bit of good in it.

So Dan started an organization called 88Bikes.Org.  For a mere $88 dollars Dan pairs a donor up with a needy child.  The organization delivers the bikes to a little girl, teach them some rudimentary bike maintenance, then watches with joy as these little girls pedal down the road in their pink bikes, enjoying once again a few moments of childhood joy and innocent play.  Dan has delivered bikes in Vietnam and Thailand and Nepal and India and in other parts of the world where children are grieving.  Dan's group has delivered over 2,000 bikes so far and the movement is growing.
                                                 
So Dan Austin is not the Million Dollar Man.  He's just the $88 dollar man.  But he's given back a small chunk of childhood joy to those who were robbed of theirs....and for that his gifts are priceless.

Thank God their is still good in the world....ride on little girls!


Monday, December 1, 2014

Sasha and Malia; Swearing Off Turkeys and Rap Music

                                                               

On the Wednesday before Thanksgiving Barack Hussein Obama swept into the East Room with Sasha and Malia and deigned to participate in the annual Thanksgiving turkey pardon.  Both girls looked bored out of their minds and stood sometimes with their arms crossed and anxious to have this over with.  As Barry offered a poor joke about more November "pardons" the girls stood stone faced and didn't even bother to laugh at Dad's joke.  When Barry implored them to come pet the turkey they issued a collective "nah'."  

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Gloomy In Black & White

                                                                   

It's Saturday.  Two days have elapsed since Thanksgiving and I still haven't enjoyed a single bite of turkey.  The stomach flu that came on last Tuesday persists.  Anything I try to eat sends ribbons of fire through my belly so I ingest an ounce or so of chicken broth every few hours, like a terminal patient with a chicken broth IV tube providing minimum nourishment.  If I have to do this for another couple of days I will begin to cluck.


Thursday, November 27, 2014

Turkish Bath

                                                           

Okay, people...your salivary glands have been activated more than once in recent days, as you contemplate that plump roasted turkey taking center stage on your Thanksgiving table.  Some of you "be prepared" boy scout types already have tom turkey cooling it in your freezer; others, the die-hards, are waiting for Albertsons or Fry's to give you a free turkey with a minimum purchase.  Either way, millions of turkeys will give their lives for you fowl eating heathens in the coming days.  

There are always two trains of thought, yours and that of the turkey.  Old Tom has noticed a tragic surge in the culling of the herd lately and he, being one of the smart ones, is hiding in the bushes, watching the more gullible of the species gathered up for a feather plucking and a hot Turkish bath, something his mother warned him about months ago.  "Never get caught", cautioned mom, "these heathens will cut off your head, gouge out your liver and your giblets, tie em around your severed gullet, then they'll stuff all that up your ass and send you on your way for a second Turkish bath on the night before Thanksgiving!"  "Holy crap!".."what kind of beasts these humans must be", thought Tom.

So old Tom he just kept himself hidden in the tallest grasses and watched his brethren led to slaughter, and as the days grew shorter, Tom began to feel a bit safer.  Then, just when he was feeling more secure, a big truck pulled into the turkey ranch.  Tom noticed a big red box painted on the side, but not being able to read, he could not have known the Stouffers folks had arrived to gather up the main course of their Turkey Medallions Dinner and Turkey Tetrazinni meals.  The Stouffers people nearly got old Tom as they had to range farther out to fill their turkey quota.  Miraculously, old Tom escaped again.  

By this time the only turkeys left on the ranch were a dozen or so fat chested Toms and hundreds of little chattering turkey chicks.  If turkeys smoked cigars these turkeys would have been puffing away, so self satisfied they were at having escaped the "grand slaughter".  As the weather cooled all these Toms had to do was to stuff themselves with seed corn and squat lazily in the warmth of an autumn sun.

Then, on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving Thursday a long black limousine pulled into the turkey yard.  A rather proper looking fellow got out of the car, and accompanied by a contingent of armed men, walked over Tom's way.  Tom, having stuffed himself so fully in the last few days, was far too fat to even scurry away.  With great ease they threw a net over old Tom and put him in a cage before placing him in the back seat where he faced armed guards on both sides of him.  

After a long ride, Tom was taken to a big white house, brought in the back door and into a huge kitchen.  Though with a grand flap of feathers Tom expressed his indignation, he soon found himself manhandled by a lady wearing a pink smock.  And then, indignities upon indignities, Tom was plunged into a sink of luke warm water....."oh no", thought Tom "it's the Turkish bath for me after all".  

But, instead, Tom felt gentle hands massaging his huge chest and working some sort of aromatic into his feathers, down his back and a most pleasant chest rub followed.  Then, he was plucked from he sink and was subjected to a device that blew hot dry air over his feathers until they were all dry and fluffy.

They then tied something around his neck and led him by a rope into a rather large room into the house itself.  Dizzied by all of this manhandling, Tom could have sworn that the room was egg shaped rather than the normal four walls.  It was hard to tell because of several forms of artificial light and some sort of whirring devices with glass fronts and all focused on him.  At least two dozen humans filled the room as Tom was lifted up onto a table and held firmly with the neck leash.  Enough slack was given for Tom to herk and jerk his neck around and emitting an occasional "turkey squall" to let them all know he wasn't pleased.

Just then a rather pleasant looking man entered the room, smiling, then moving over to Tom where he took Tom's neck in hand, complimented him on his plumpness, said a few words to those present, then raised his hands in some semblance of grand gesture and uttered the words "Presidential pardon".   The humans then applauded loudly, scaring Tom a bit which always tends to loosen the bowels and old Tom left a steaming pile of turkey poop on an otherwise well polished table.

This prompted Tom's handlers to quickly lead him back to the large kitchen where he was released into the custody of a white-coated gentleman who again placed Tom in a cage.  He was then taken out to a farm where he was released in a golden meadow, free to live to an old age.

But with age comes wisdom...so that many years later, old Tom wondered what turkey had given its life so that he might live, what poor bastard was whisked into that big white house in the dead of night, given that final Turkish bath and served up on the Presidential table, so that a silly human tradition of pardoning the star of Thanksgiving dinner could go on...

Old Tom, despite his increased wisdom was unable to figure that out...and why should he...the American people have never figured that out either.  But then, the American people have been baffled by a lot that goes on at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.  :)

May your Thanksgiving be a happy one,  dear friends.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Ferguson, Missouri RIP

                                                                   

Ferguson, Missouri was founded in the 1850's when a farmer allotted a small parcel of his farm, to be used as a railroad depot.  From those humble beginnings the Germans, the Irish, The Scotts and other "hybrid Americans" began building a community there.  They farmed, they laid plots to build homes, they planted trees and gardens, built churches, established businesses, and began living their lives in a community built of strong moral values and a strong work ethic.  And life was pretty damn fine in small town Ferguson, Missouri.

Then, some 140 years later, the fastest example of "White Flight" occurred right there in Ferguson, Missouri.  It first began as urban blacks began moving into the area, drawn by federal projects designed to attract urban Blacks to move out of the decaying ghettos of St. Louis, and out to the more friendly confines of 75% White Ferguson, Missouri.  In one single decade, 1990 to 2000, that demographic was turned on its head.  As crime surged, as working White folks began to feel unsafe in their neighborhoods, as their streets were trashed and their neighborhoods plagued with urban decay, the Whites moved out in droves.  And Ferguson, Missouri became 75% Black and doomed to failure.

Old Joe Zisser stayed around.  Joe owned a tire business.  For decades Joe stayed, offered his customer a fair price for his tires, employed local workers.  Then last August the Blacks burned Joe's business down to the ground.  

Monday night Blacks drove a stake into the dying corpse of Ferguson, Missouri.  They destroyed a McDonald's, burned down 27 buildings, including grocery stores, a Walgren's Drug Store, a Little Caesar's Pizza joint, beauty shops and phone stores and little restaurants just barely getting by as it was before the riots and looting and burning.

Tuesday morning the pictures were chilling.  Fireman and Police strung yellow crime tape around businesses already destroyed, making the yellow crime tape almost comical.  Business owners walked through the rubble of a business where they had pledged a lifetime of work and small bank loans to build a life for their families.  All gone now.    One looks at the pictures and  one sees community volunteers, all White, sweeping up broken glass and hauling off the trash left by hundreds of angry Blacks....angered beyond belief that our justice system would not allow them to lynch Darren Wilson...damn the evidence!

So Ferguson, a healthy community less than 25 years ago, goes the way of Detroit and Baltimore and downtown Atlanta and South Central Los Angeles and the South Side of Chicago...all now dead by the hand of three generations of pampered Blacks who don't believe the rules of civilization applies to them and who have staked claim to an "out" no matter how barbaric their behavior.....somewhere in their bloodline their great, great, great granddaddy was a slave and honkies will always owe them a green check and an excuse.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Brown Rice & Broccoli

                                                             

The liberal left are not happy with just calorie counts posted in restaurants.  Democrats are pushing for it in theaters, bowling alleys and, now, in your home.  Democrats are demanding stove manufacturers begin producing "smart stoves".  Smart stoves will synch with your smart freezer and pantry and report to our government masters what we are about to cook.  Before the heat elements activate you will be required to punch in what food you are about to prepare using a government provided password.  If your previous entrees have already exceeded your fat and calorie count your smart stove will not activate.  

A recent survey in a restaurant in suburban Washington D.C. indicated an impressive number of patrons who would be in favor of the government regulating their diet; it would reduce obesity, diabetes and bring down Obamacare premiums.  Many patrons said that they simply didn't have the willpower to make their own nutritional decisions and having someone else making their nutrition choices would relieve them from the burden of self choice.  Some said that they already make wise food decisions but are disgusted to see other Americans making such poor choices and driving their health premiums up to support those who choose poorly. 

 One survey patron expressed the hope that, when Hillary Clinton is elected President, she selects Michelle Obama as America's "Food Czar".  Get used to brown rice and broccoli, kiddies.  The future is now!


Monday, November 24, 2014

"Cue The Laugh Track"

                                                             

Cue the laugh track, folks.  Remember when those Guatemalans came flooding across the border last summer?  Remember how Obama threw out the welcome mat, fed em, medicated em, sent em off to various resorts and told them to report first thing Monday morning to an Immigration Court?  95% of em couldn't be found on Monday afternoon.

So, last Thursday night Obama announced blanket amnesty to a minimum of 5 million illegal Mexicans, told them they had to register, pay fines, apply for a green card and fess up to where they are making their money and paying taxes on the dough.  Yeah, you got it; cue the laugh track...he's telling two generations of Mexican lawbreakers to get right with all of our various laws.  Now, let's see..what's the chance of that happening...oh, I don't know...how about NONE!

Barry, something of an outlaw himself, is telling folks who execute "hit and runs" like they were a picnic in the park, who routinely stroll down to the nearest Mexican mercado, pay $50 bucks for brilliant forgeries of social security cards and state driver's licenses, get paid tax free under the table, and they're gonna rush right in to an immigration office and do exactly what Obama says?  Ain't happening.

And really, Obama doesn't care.  He was just using all that "law stuff" to placate the 70% of America who somehow don't think it's right that these cheating Mexican bastards are getting rewarded for breaking our nation's immigration laws.

And just as previous amnesties resulted in further invasion, you can bet your sweet asses, dear readers, that Central and South Americans are even now packing their bags for a roof top train ride to the American border.  Play it smart folks and invest in Univision, Sombreros, Mission Tortillas and the refried bean industry.  We officially became third world at 6PM MST last Thursday night.

Oh, and you can cue up the violins too cause your taxes are gonna go sky high trying to support another 40 or 50 million Central and South Americans.  Viva America Norte'!

Sad.  Damned Sad.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

My Occasional Descent Into Communisim

                                                                 

Forgive me for a little navel contemplation this morning. I'm 90% free market capitalist and 10% communist. When I'm feeling a bit communistic I become a bit scornful of the ultra rich who play us for fools even as they fail to understand what kind of life the average working stiff goes through. Somewhere, at this very moment, the 1% are sitting in their million dollar suites, having a champaign brunch with Eggs Benedict while millions wake up hungry, homeless, without hope. Millions more have a job but struggle to pay the bills. 
Even the luckiest of us who might have put away a small nest egg and live comfortably still feel guilty at indulging in even a little luxury. We worry if the nest egg will last, and half of century of careful living and hard work make us self conscious of wasting anything or indulging too much. Yet, there are investment bankers in their penthouses in New York, or out on their Long Island or New Jersey estates, living the high life because they are able to clip 1/16th of a penny in profit from millions of investment transactions ever day....and that 1/16th of a penny gives them income of $100,000 a day...for which they have not expended one drop of sweat and where no intellectual talent is required. 
Politicians accrue their wealth differently; they trade on insider information about favorable legislation, the retire from politics and get paid $100,000 dollars to spout wisdom for an hour, or they serve on the board of G.E. or Walmart and collect a million bucks a year as a figurehead of corporations who care only for the bottom line and not a scintilla of sympathy for the average working joe. 
Billionaires use their money like it's monopoly money; the only meaning their wealth has is determining how they can manipulate its movement in order to accrue even more. The only thing that makes me a capitalist is seeing how the government can waste money like no one else on earth. I think I'd have far more sympathy for imposing higher taxes if the damn government didn't waste it in giving it out to so many frauds who delight in living off the carcass of the productive. 
If government should ever buck up, and begin to self audit their massively wasteful programs I'd be the first guy to jump up and say tax that damn investment banker more!...No one should be drinking Champaign and eating Eggs Benedict for brunch as long as someone's is really hurting. Okay, I'm done...my oatmeal is getting cold.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

"Where's Idi Amin When You Need Him?"

                                                             

Where the hell is Idi Amin when you need him?  For you youngens, Idi Amin was the dictator of Uganda for about the same two terms that our dictator, Obama will serve.  The guy was amazing...he was an equal opportunity cannibal who literally ate both friend and foe.  He found his political enemies particularly tasty.  If he liked you just a little bit he would just throw you to the crocodiles.  When he was finally overthrown they found human body parts in his freezer as he was unable to finish off his kills before the overthrow.

When I first got to Saudi Arabia in the late 80's old Idi was living over in Jeddah, having embraced Islam at the last moment and given sanctuary by the Saudi King.  I think he died in Saudi, from indigestion after ingesting a Philipino houseboy.  

Anyway, I'm kind of nostalgic these days for old African dictators.  And I'm longing for those days when an African nation's name coincided with the one I learned in Geography class.  I mean, really, Idi kept his kill count down to reasonable thousands...he didn't raise whole armies and drive an entire nation across national borders and he didn't go for those mass murders of ten thousand or so.

And Idi had no problems with Christians or Jews and only picked up a Koran when he needed to sit his human barbecue plate on while watching re-runs of Gilligan's Island.  And remember the Israeli's Raid on Entebbe?  Idi had pigged out on "leg of umgawah" that night and slept through the whole thing!

But, again, I just miss our old dictators.  Where's Momar Quaddaffi?  Where's Haile Selassi?  Where's Hosni Mubarrak?  Where's Anwar Sadat?  These guys could be bought and stay bought!  Now it's all mass chaos out there in the Mid East and we're drowning in Arab Springs!  Hell, even Sadaam Hussein is starting to look good!...he kept the camels running on time and he killed fewer people than ISIS is shooting for.  So, I'm missing some of those old time dictators, especially Idi Amin.

Besides, I like Idi's medals.  When I become dictator I'm gonna wear that same uniform.  :)