Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Christmas Report Card

                                                             


The human grinches tried mightily to destroy our Christmas spirit this year. An 86 year old woman was beaten to death in her friend's driveway by three thugs. Thieves across America stole packages left on the front porches of people's homes. Thousands of homes across our land were burglarized. Hundreds of Christmas haters posted viral videos claiming Christmas was a holiday created by Coca Cola and the department stores. 
And yet, amidst all this carnage, human kindness triumphed over evil again this year. Thousands of Police Departments sponsored Christmas shopping trips for underprivileged children. Little stars were plucked off of department store Christmas trees and gifts were purchased for children who would have gone without. Just here in Phoenix over a thousand Salvation Army Santa's deployed to local storefronts and rang the bell for donations. Those donations resulted in over 7,000 Christmas dinners prepared for the homeless and destitute...with 2500 volunteers cooking and serving those dinners and cleaning up afterwards. Here in Phoenix 22 kind souls volunteered to work at pet foster facilities so that the pet care staff could have Christmas off. 
Perhaps the most touching story was from the Witherspoon family here in Phoenix. Last Christmas their son, Bryce was in a hospital intensive care unit, fighting for his life. The Witherspoons spent their Christmas staying at a Ronald McDonald House and at Bryce's bedside. 
So, this Christmas the Witherspoons went all out to make Bryce's Christmas special. In doing so they decorated their house and yard with bright and cheery Christmas light displays. Sadly, on the night before Christmas Eve, thieves stole the Witherspoon's Christmas lights.
Then, upon reading of the Witherspoon's story, a local resident named Paula Webb became their Christmas angel. Having lost her husband in September, Paula had honored his love of Christmas by decorating her house and yard for Christmas, just as her husband had done every year. However, after learning of the Witherspoon's plight, Paula took down her own Christmas displays and delivered them to the Witherspoon home on Christmas Eve morning. She also presented them with a gift card at Fry's Food and a $250 dollar gift card at Kohl's. And she topped off her giving by presenting the Witherspoon's a pan of her husband's favorite cornbread, a touching tribute in honor of her husband's deep love for Christmas.
So, I guess the message we can take from all of this is that, despite the bad things we read...and the many attempts to dampen our Christmas spirit, the great bounty of human kindness overwhelmingly triumphs over those who would try to take our Christmas from us.
And, despite all the bad news we read, there are millions of gentle and kindly souls who fill our world with the grand spirit of Christmas throughout the year. And when we feel despair at unspeakable evil, it is best to remember the good overwhelmingly outweighs the bad.

Monday, December 28, 2015

Ethernet Ecstacy

                                                                       

I'm headed down to Arrowhead Town Center Mall as soon as it opens this morning. I plan to navigate both upper and lower concourse stark naked. And I don't think anyone will notice. Let me explain.
When I journeyed down to the Apple Store down in Arrowhead the other day I was struck by the overwhelming number of folks who had their eyes down and focused on their I Phones and iPads. I don't think I was able to make eye contact with a single person while lost and trying to find the Apple Store. 
And it seems these people, so enamored by some utterly fascinating net site or text, don't seem to care if they bump into other human beings, or even the counter of a sunglass hut if it means they will miss one golden uttering of whomever they are texting with. 
I felt like Adrian Peterson making his way through the entire Green Bay secondary as I dodged and weave ethernet "texters" throughout the entire half mile of mall concourse!
And it didn't get better once I reached the Apple Store. The store was packed with folks hell bent on buying an Apple product....problem was they couldn't seem to raise their baby blues to eye level to make contact with an Apple concierge. So, rather than being able to just walk in and buy a god-damned iPhone I had to wait for more than 20 minutes just to capture the attention of a concierge who were busy trying to make eye contact with the device-devoted cattle who were too caught up with their iPhones to stop and declare what they wanted. I had no such device so I had to stand around and admire 50 different versions of iPhone covers that ranged from zebra skin to alligator hide.

                                                        
Because I already knew the model and specs of the iPhone I wanted, I just wanted to buy it and get out of there. Alas, that is not the way one does business in the world of cyber. Once I finally got a concierge's attention I rattled off my wants and he just stood there, totally flummoxed. "You want an iPhone 6S with 64 gigabyte?", he queried. "Yes", said I. "Well, my name is Renaisse (please roll the "R") and I'm from Cuba and I'd be glad to help you today.",,,then stood waiting while I again repeated my wants. 
Alas, that was the last eye contact I would make with a human being that day. The concierge grabbed the iPhone box, scanned in the price into his little black electronic transaction box and waited for me to pull my credit card out. Before doing so I showed him my military ID card and ask him to check to see if there's a military discount on the product. Renaisse looked at me like I'd just taken a big bowel movement right there smack dab in the middle of the store, then reluctantly consulted his little black box, and grudgingly knocked ten percent off the price of my new iPhone.
"Can I email you the receipt for this...(or will you make me actually present a hard copy)", asked Rennaisse. I ask for a hard copy and got that pitying look normally reserved for senile centenarians in an old folks home, but he did give me a receipt. Renaisse then asked if I'd like a bag for my purchase....and I immediately noticed that he had his fingers crossed, hoping that this barbarian wouldn't demand a plastic bag that would surely end up in polluted mass out in the South Pacific....so I refused the bag and stuck the phone box in my windbreaker. Renaisse's faced was beatific as if he were pondering the possibility that old folks like me were finally "earth friendly" and might someday be "converted".
As I left the store there were still the same hundred people, standing on one leg, texting away, seemingly not sure, and not caring why they were even there. 
As I returned to the main mall concourse I kept one hand on the phone box in the pocket of my windbreaker and braved the "texting zombie herds" of folks who didn't know where they were going...and didn't seem to care.
So, at 9AM sharp, I'm going to don my best plastic raincoat, stark naked underneath, and shed that raincoat as soon as I enter the mall. I am totally convinced that I can navigate that entire mall concourse with not a single person noticing my questionably attractive nudity.
If I am stopped I'll just plead innocence...having forgotten to dress because I was texting on my new iPhone. Sigh.

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Christmas Eve

                                                                     

For some reason, last night I was so tired i went to bed at 7:30.  Woke up at midnight and realized it was Christmas Eve.  I laid there in the dark and set my internal "movie projector" and began running fuzzy old memories in my head; foggy Christmas Eve mornings in Selma, tropical warm Christmases in Vietnam, plumeria rich scents on Christmas mornings in Hawaii, bitterly cold Christmas mornings in North Dakota, as well as pre-holiday mornings in San Diego and Arizona and amidst desert scapes in Saudi Arabia, as close as I would ever get to the place where Jesus walked the earth.

Then I stuck that old "mental projector" on re-wind, and remembered a Christmas Eve morning 62 years ago.  My brother and sister and I woke up to much excitement about the prospects for our day.   The local home town theater was holding a special Christmas show for Selma kids....a double feature of westerns, with cartoons sandwiched between them and, at movie's end, an appearance by Santa.

That Christmas morning our childhood hearts were so filled with love we needed an outlet for it.  Shuttled out of the house so that our raucous joy would not awake our swing shift working dad, we gathered up stale crackers and abandoned soup bones and went out into the yard and threw a Christmas party for our dog, Muggsie...three little children sitting in a circle around that mutt, rejoicing in his pleasure for stale crackers and recycled bones.

By the time a milky sun began breaking tenuously through the fog we had already grown restless, hardly able to contain our excitement at the prospect of movie popcorn and Roy Rogers and Gene Autry and Tom being eternally fooled by little Jerry.  But, for today, Santa was the big draw; the fat man in the red suit was the big star for this day.

When, finally we were set loose to make the half mile trek to the theater, our excitement was at its peak.  We hurried down to the theater and waited in a long line of kids, already waiting to get into the theater.

Once inside we were presented with a complimentary mini-bag of popcorn, went in, took our seats, and watched Roy and Dale beat the bad guys and Gene singing in triumph as he rode Champion out of town...black hats lying prone in his wake...and all was right with the world.  

Then the screen went black and a spotlight came on and Santa took the stage, carrying a big red bag.  Santa had us line up between the aisles as we filed up to him and received little red velvet bags full of candy canes and colorful hard Christmas candy.

We then wandered out of the theater, licking candy canes and marveling at the bright, grand gift displays in the store windows, wiling away the Christmas Eve afternoon with a sense of wondrous Christmas joy.

So, last night, those old memories still stirring in my head, I got up a little after midnight, walked out to the living room and threw open the front door.  The wonderful scent of pine infused the night air and I walked out onto the front porch and gazed up into a spectacularly clear night sky, the stars ablaze in the heavens.  A nearly full moon bathed everything in a honey glow and the early morning was unusually warm for this hour.  

And once again, I was back again to those years when I was six years old, with the simple joys of White hats and candy canes sufficient to make my Christmas a happy one.  And, as I stood there last night, sixty two years later, I was again joyously captivated by the most simple things; a warm night, a honeyed moon, pine perfume and stars dancing in the night skies.  I could not have wished for more.

Merry Christmas Eve.

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Childhood Magic

                                                                       

I have to admit I've been rather hard pressed to see any Christmas- like childhood magic on display this season. Oh, I've seen herds of children following along a parent behind a shopping cart, witnessing the plucking of toys off the store shelf. the child seemingly very aware of who is buying the Christmas goodies. And, thanks to TV ads, those children know what's hot...and exactly what they want...and make those wants known in loud and dramatic pleas in the middle of a toy aisle.
Perhaps the magic went out for some children when the schools guided them from Christmas Nativity pageants into more secular "winter festivals", or maybe children have just seen too much on TV, or on the street corner, to ever believe in fat men in red suits, or a child in a manger.
Never the less, I haven't given up on seeing a bit of Christmas magic. I know I'll see some bright eyed children at Christmas Mass...I always do. There will be children from two to twenty who will again hear the words of Luke and Matthew on Christmas Eve...and learn there's more to Christmas than gaming systems and Star Wars regalia. 
And then, as Christmas always does, I was heartened to read something this morning that reinforces my belief that the magic lives...even in a world of crass commercialism. A local writer went down to the Arizona Children's Crisis Center and interviewed the 71 children lucky enough to live in a state home (there are 17,000 parentless children who are not so lucky). 
The writer asked the children the most natural and obvious question; "what are you hoping for, for Christmas this year?"
The response was varied but always wandered back to a central theme....a desire to belong to a family.
One little seven year old girl talked about spending a few hours one Christmas ice skating...and longed to do that again.
Another seven year old boy's response was so precious; he said, though he's been told there's no Santa Claus, he's not ready to stop believing, because, if he does, he might not get the shiny red fire engine he's hoping for.
One rather cynical ten year old has been fostered three times in his short life, and longs for a sense of family, and permanence. He can't seem to get over the idea that his lot is because of something lacking in himself. Yet, you sense in his words that he has not given up hope that Christmas...and that elusive Santa, will bring him to a home that might value him.
I guess the lesson to be learned here is that those with the least still harbor the most sense of hope, and the greatest appreciation for modest gifts...that there's still enough magic to make it all happen.
The Crisis Center home will hold a traditional Christmas Eve dinner again this year. They'll provide turkey and dressing and mashed potatoes and pumpkin pie, and a center volunteer will read "The Night Before Christmas" before they're off to bed....and in their night dreams they will hold out hope that that elusive "Santa" will come though for them...and bring them a home.
A wise man once said "Hope is patience..with the lamp lit". These children seem to have lit their lamp and still believe that some magic might find them. God Bless Them.

Monday, December 21, 2015

Motherhood And Christmas

                                                                 

As we make our way through the Christmas season many of us will miss our parents, especially our mother.  It was always mom who worked so hard to make the Christmas season special, whether it was surreptitiously wrapping presents, seeing us to Sunday School, or working that oven to turn out Christmas cakes and pies and cookies and filling the house with divine holiday scents.

We love and miss them because of the role our mothers played in our upbringing, the example they set, the traditions they passed on to us....and for serving as the source of unconditional love.

I wonder how many of you know that variations of the word "mama" and "papa" is nearly universal across more than 200 of the world's languages.  For my Vietnamese wife she was "ma", in Mandarin it is "ma-ma" with the emphasis on the first syllable.  In Estonian it is "ema", in Persian it is "ma-dar".  "Mama" is common across the wide spectrum of languages across the globe, including the Asian and African worlds.

I don't believe that is accidental; I believe the endearing word, "mama" has its origin in the divine.  As children we inherently know the strong bond between mother and child.  And that same maternal bond is instinctual from the world's mothers.

So, in the spirit of Christmas, perhaps when we realize the maternal bond that exists between mother and child, maybe we can better understand the ultimate joy of a Mother Mary who brought a son into the world some 2000 plus years ago...a son who would speak only of love and forgiveness throughout his short three decade life.

And, in remembering that bond, try to imagine the agony and angst as the world beat and whipped and tortured him and nailed him to a cross....simply for speaking about love.   There is a well known painting which shows Mary at the foot of the cross.  The only image you see is the horrible agony on Mary's face.  If we can do nothing else this Christmas season perhaps we can honor the role that mothers have played in our lives....the ones who cradled and nurtured and protected us....and the one mother who could not do that for her own son.

                                                             

Mothers are about love, and Christmas should be too.

Merry Christmas

Friday, December 18, 2015

Homeless For Christmas

                                                                       

On the corner of 16th Street and Hatcher Road in Phoenix stands a vacant lot.  Back in October, as the nights began to get cold, a veterans support group approached the owner of the lot and asked he might allow a few tents to go up on the lot, to house homeless vets who were sleeping on park benches and in front of store fronts, unable as yet to secure space in a homeless shelter.  The lot owner agreed.   

So a handful of tents went up.  A small community was formed.  As in the old days, when these vets were part of something larger, when they stood shoulder to shoulder to fight for their country, they began to see a ray of hope from their present circumstances.  And those vets began to work together; one group pulled KP, another group picked up trash, mostly fast food wrappers and paper cups thrown out the car windows of passing cars.  They were actually keeping that lot cleaner than when it stood vacant.

Those vets were organizing and working together to make themselves a home.  A little wire fence around part of the area holds Christmas stockings and American flags.

                                                               

And that micro "tent city" provided a central gathering point so that veteran support organizations could come and work to get those vets some medical care and job training.

                                               

Sadly, this week, just a week before Christmas, the city bureaucrats have declared the lot owner is violating all kinds of zoning violations and has ordered the tents down and the vets back onto the streets.  The tents, the flags, and yes, the Christmas stockings must come down tomorrow and those old vets will be left to fend for themselves smack dab in the middle of our greatest "season of giving".

How sad it is that not one bureaucrat cared when those vets were occupying a tent at Khe Sanh, the bloodiest battle of the Vietnam War when those vets fought an enemy force that outnumbered them 10 to 1.  And not one of our government masters cared when those vets went house to house to liberate the city of Hue.  And I'm pretty sure not one of those city bureaucrats had the courage required to stand and fight at the Battle of La Drang Valley.  And it is pretty clear those bureaucrats can't comprehend the "collateral damage" that comes with war.  If they did those grizzled old vets on the corner of 16th Street and Hatcher Road would have a home for Christmas.

Sad.  Damned Sad.

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

"70 lbs Down And I Don't Miss Them A Bit"



On May 17th of this year I began a low carb diet.  I had some success with this same diet in 2004, having lost 40 pounds in three months, then gained the weight back over the next year, so I in May I finally resolved to try low carb again.  

What prompted me to begin the diet was feeling tired and old all the time.  When friends and family came to visit I noticed that the stepped up activity with them left me tired and winded.  Somehow I had convinced myself that this was just because I was getting old.  But, finally in May, after struggling to bend down and tie my shoes, and after feeling so tired all the time, I resolved to try and rescue myself by trying low carb to see if I would feel better.

For those of you who are not familiar with low carb, the low carb guru, Dr. Atkins, broke down the low carb diet into stages....with Stage1 calling for less than 20 carbs per day.  Once your weight goal is reached you are allowed to step up your daily carb count gradually...to the point where you can maintain your desired weight, but not gain back.

As anyone who has tried the Atkins diet knows, the first three day are the hardest.  Giving up starches and sugars is tough because they are so addictive.  After three days on the diet you begin to shed "ketones" which are indicators that your body is beginning to burn fat to make up for your body's lack of those starchy and sugary energy sources.  The great thing about achieving "ketosis" is the rapid weight loss you begin to experience.  It is not unusual to see someone drop 20 pounds in the first month.  The dramatic weight loss is not surprising since the Atkins diet is pretty severe in restricting carbs.  Even our FDA recommends an intake of 200 carbs per day, so when you restrict your diet to only ten percent of those numbers you are seriously kicking your body fat's ass!

When I started Atkins in May I expected to stay at Stage 1 for a month or so, then gradually add carbs to the diet as I went along.  Surprisingly, I found that I could, by watching my carb count carefully, maintain Stage 1 for a longer and longer period.  I found that, even with a relatively sedentary lifestyle, I continued to lose weight and continued to feel better (and younger!)

So I just kept on trucking!....sticking to those 20 carb daily limitations.  In doing so I studied the carb count of thousands of food ingredients and learned eventually to program my diet without having to look up the carb count of a particular food....I had them all down pat.

Did I ever cheat?  Yes.....about once a week I would have a hungering for something high carb.  But, when I did cheat, I tried to keep it reasonable...maybe eating something that hiked my carb count up to 50 carbs...still 75% below FDA daily recommendations.    And, once a month or so, I just say "to hell with it" and go out and have a fast food hamburger and fries.  But, I found that when I do cheat I pay for it the next day....I wake up feeling sluggish the next morning and those hunger pains are back again for the next three days before I can get my body back into "ketosis".  Still, a little cheating is good in two ways;  eating a little junk food proves to be a liberating breakout, allowing me to say to myself that I'm not "locked in" to anything and can always get back on track.  Secondly, and quite remarkably, is that I've found cheating one day actually junp starts my metabolism again, with a very pleasing accelerated weight loss in the days after I get back into ketosis.  So my turkey dinner on Thanksgiving, complete with dinner rolls and mash potatoes and gravy, and stuffing and pumpkin pie with whipped cream, was an enjoyable luxury that resulted in accelerated weight loss as soon as I resumed my low carb diet.

So, today, exactly six and one half months after beginning my low carb diet, I have lost a nice rounded number of 70 pounds.  I don't miss those pounds....I feel better without them.  More importantly, I've learned to live low carb as a lifestyle and not a "diet".  That's more important than you might think;  it changes the way you think about food.  You no longer think in terms of the "temporary" and begin to accept it as a lifestyle you can live with.

No more daily white bread, or potatoes, or rice, or donuts for me....instead they have become the rare luxury that are so enjoyable (until you wake up the next morning feeling sluggish).  I have learned not to miss any food that infuses my system with sugars and starches.  Salads and fresh green veggies (without sauces),  and savory beef, chicken and fish dishes now satisfy my hunger, and when I feel like eating a sweet it becomes jello and cream whip or an Atkins candy bar.

I haven't written much about this before for fear I would fail with this diet and look silly after.  However, after my 70 pound weight loss, and a tremendous gain in my confidence that this diet is here to stay for me, I thought I'd write and let you know that I don't miss those 70 pounds one bit.

I'm looking to lose twenty more pounds before I step up to Atkins Stage II, which gives me a bit more leniency in counting my carbs and still maintaining my desired weight.  I'll let you know when I get there....perhaps I'll celebrate with some mash potatoes and gravy and another slice of pumpkin pie!


Monday, December 14, 2015

Words That Heal

                                                                 

I would have liked to know this guy, Luke. From my earliest Christmas memories as a child Luke 1 to 20 has always held a magic for me.....taking my heart and my mind back 2,000 years, to a place where I never dreamed to ever see.
From the first time I peered into the little hole at the end of a shoebox nativity scene, to every time I stood on a school cafeteria stage, robed in a bed sheet (yes, that is me in that pic below), and listened in childhood wonder at Luke's words, the magic has been there...year after year.
Then, on Christmas Eve of 1990 I stood in the sands of Saudi Arabia and looked up at the skies and gazed at the same stars that guided the shepherds to Bethlehem, and marveled all over again at Luke's grand poetic epic about the birth of Christ.
Words can wound and words can heal. Luke's words are healing, loving, filled with promise that we can re-make the world into a fine thing indeed. Next to the 23rd Psalm, which I hope will be recited when I am carried "home", Luke 1-20 is my favorites.
I hope you are all blessed this Christmas season to hear Luke again....at some elementary school Christmas pageant, or while gazing at an altar in the quietude of a Christmas Eve church service. Luke's words are a warm blanket on a chilly Christmas evening. And they have warmed my heart in the small confines of a small town in California, on a snowy Christmas night in North Dakota, on warm Christmas nights in Hawaii, while overlooking rice paddies in Vietnam, on a lonely post in Korea, or while standing on a sand dune in Arabia as Bedouins tended their flocks as they had done two thousand years ago.
May you and yours be blessed to hear Luke's words once again...no matter where you are.
" And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Cæsar Augustus, that all the world should be taxed.
And all went to be taxed, every one into his own city.
And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judæa, unto the city of David, which is called Bethlehem; (because he was of the house and lineage of David:)
To be taxed with Mary his espoused wife, being great with child.
And so it was, that, while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered.
And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn.
And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night.
And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid.
And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.
For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.
And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.
And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying,
Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men."

Friday, December 11, 2015

"The Mess We're In"

                                                                   

How did we get in such a mess?  We need only look at our supreme leader....an admitted dope and crack cocaine user, a man who openly admits he gamed Whites all his life to make them believe "This Black" was different...that he could charm and comfort...and not make you reach for your door locks.

So he gamed the people and got elected.  And, sadly, he never matured into adulthood.  In seven years he blames every problem on Bush.  In the midst of Islamic savagery he absolutely refused to utter the words "radical Islamic terrorism".  He chooses to enforce only the laws he agrees with and ignores the ones he doesn't.

He sought political gain through divisiveness; telling Blacks that fulfilling Martin Luther King's dreams weren't enough...that somehow, despite preference quotas for college and for employment, despite the trillions spent to improve the Black experience, old Whitey is still out there and out to get you.  He has told the lame and lazy that their plight of poverty is the fault of those who succeeded in life and accrued wealth.  He has told the Hispanics that anyone who opposes open borders are racists.

Think about that!  The college freshman was a middle school when Obama took office.  Seven long years of telling those impressionable kids that the world owes them something, that victimhood is a grand thing, that crying will get you something good, that gaming the system is the only way to get ahead has bred an entire generation of societal cry babies.

In seven short years he had managed to undo fifty years of American leadership in the world.  He has cheered the toppling of one Middle East leader after another...and left the entire region in utter chaos. He has forged trade agreements that put more Americans out of work.  He has signed nuclear agreements that puts the world in greater peril.

How did we get in this mess?  Look no farther than 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.  

May God help us.

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

"Screw Petrodollars"

                                                                   

I saw a lot of $1.79 gas this week around Phoenix.  It should be even lower than that.  According to my calculations, prorating the historical ratio of a price of a barrel of oil to the price of gas, we should be seeing gas at $1.25 or so.  Just fifteen months ago a barrel of oil was $115.00,,,,this week it hit a low of $35 before rebounding to $37 this morning.  OPEC met last week and the Middle East fiefdoms refused to cut back on their oil pumping.  On Monday Iran said they'd start pumping another 10 million barrels into the pipeline....do desperate are they for some hard cash.  

In addition to glut of oil already in the pipeline our domestic shale producers are going "lean and mean" trying to stay in business while prices continue to decline.  (I'd gladly pay a little more for gas to keep our domestic producers in business; that way we'd could quit relying on foreign oil imports, with some of those petrodollars paying for radical extremist groups).

Maybe a happy medium would be $1.50 gas with most of that coming from our own domestic producers.  Wouldn't make the Saudis happy, or Iran, or socialist Venezuela...but "f*ck em...they've never much cared about us either.

Monday, December 7, 2015

Police "Lynchings"

                                                                     

A year or so ago a Chicago cop went rogue and fired 17 shots into a PCP induced Black thug name Laquan McDonald.   As in all, and I mean all Black thug-Police interchange, the thug was breaking the law and resisting.  After the video of the incident was released the Blacks emerged from their ghetto hell holes and demonstrated, demanding that some honky pay for that death.  So, yesterday, Obama's best political buddy, Mayor Rahm Emmanual fired the Police Chief, executing the equivalent of a "white lynching" in an effort to throw a little raw meat to the urban thuggery.

Am I surprised?  No.  Our liberal masters will do anything to suck up to their Black "plantation workers"....even surrendering the rule of law if that will bring political favor.  

I guess I would ask when this tomfoolery will stop.  How is it even reasonable to force the Chief of Police to resign over one rogue cop?  Sadly, from Obama on down the liberal ranks, the rule of law, and the concept of "reason" has been sacrificed at the alter of liberalism.  Neither criminal statutes nor contract law are no longer a pillar of American society.  Instead it is the rule of the mob that reigns supreme.

Ironically, also this week Baltimore was preparing to try the first cop indicted in the Freddie Gray case.  I should have, but didn't find it remarkable that prosecutors chose a jury rich with crime backgrounds of their own in order to make sure they "lynch" those cops who killed a thug.

Trayvon Martin?  Michael Brown?  Laquan McDonald?  Freddie Gray?  And on and on....and I am astounded that these ilk are being raised to sainthood by the Black thuggery and liberal politicians.  You cold walk around the south side of Chicago and never hear Martin Luther King's name....but you will damn sure hear the whines over a PCP laced Black thug.  Same in Ferguson, same in Baltimore.

If this insanity continues we can expect good people to flee our police forces...then we can expect to be protected by politically correct "politicians" who will allow Black thuggery to run amok...and you won't have your guns to defend yourself if liberals have their way.

Read any of the great social philosophers; they all espouse that the rule of law is the most important pillar of any society.  When the rule of law becomes subservient to political correctness we are all in trouble.

Sad.  Damned Sad.

Friday, December 4, 2015

Liberal Answers..Always Wrong

                                                                   

Each time there's a mass shooting the libtards come crawling out of the woodwork and exploit the tragedy to advance their stance on gun control.  And I always have to laugh at their naivety and pure ignorance of the world's reality.   The best description of yesterday's events is "shit happens"....you are never going to be able to stop the haters from doing what they do.  These two people yesterday could have carried a five gallon can of gasoline into that party, sloshed it around, struck a match, and would have inflicted even more carnage than with guns.  In Oklahoma City it was fertilizer, in Sandy Hook it was a "legal gun" owned by the perp's mother, in Vietnam, when the enemy's ammo was limited it was Pungi sticks....there are all manner of things to inflict carnage...I've seen folks done in with knives, baseball bats and even frying pans.  

You simply cannot ban everything that has the capacity to kill and maim.  And, again yesterday, I wonder how many in that party room was armed, if any.  Had someone been armed the devastation might have been less tragic.

Ironically, just yesterday, our Sheriff Joe was advocating for more Arizonans to "open carry" so that carnage such as yesterday can be met with an opposing force...so that people gathered together are not mowed down like helpless sheep.  Sadly, California is a petri dish for government masters who wish to foster more sheep.

Whether the subject is gun control, or climate change, the massively failing school system and their corrupt unions, or the fostering of three generations of welfare queens, the liberals always have the answer...and they are always wrong.

Sad.  Damned Sad.

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

There's A Pill For That

                                                                       

I was out running errands yesterday, tuned the radio to NPR (National Public Radio) and once again got my "NPR fix", learning something new.
It seems a team of researchers at MIT have developed a little electronic pill that, when swallowed, passes through the gastrointestinal tract, then monitors your breathing, heart beat, core body temperature, and tells you what's going on inside your body! Sponsored by the Department of Defense, this electronic pill will be used on our soldiers in war zones. The military has found that soldiers who have been exposed to extreme heat and extreme cold suffer damage to their liver and kidneys. This new electronic pill will allow military medics to monitor core temperatures using a monitor the size of a deck of cards. It will also be used to monitor trauma from war injuries.
But, of course, as with much of both Defense Department, and NASA research, this electronic pill is expected to have widespread application in the civilian world. Some school athletic departments are already testing the pill to monitor health conditions of athletes....to measure accelerated or abnormal heat beats, to determine the risk of heat stroke, etc. The electronic pill now costs $30 dollars to produce but the price will drop dramatically when it is put in mass production. 
Medical experts expect this pill to cut hospital stays following operations. The patient will be given one of these electronic pills to monitor for post op infections and to monitor vital signs that might indicate further medical attention.
Since this little magical electronic diagnostic pill only stays in the gastrointestinal tract for one or two days (ought to make for interesting bowel movements!), the MIT researchers are heartened by its capacity for wide spread use since mass production will bring down the cost to the equivalent of a Latte at Starbucks.
Okay, kiddies...go back to what ever you were doing...just thought I'd educate you heathens who don't listen to NPR.  smile emoticon

Monday, November 30, 2015

Is Islam Our Fate?

                                                                 

Is Islam Our Fate?

I was just watching the morning news this morning when a fellow came on, a hired "expert" who was discussing France's "Muslim problem".  And I was astounded to hear that only 27% of the French believe in God!  

It would seem that nature truly does abhor a vacuum, and that vacuum is being filled by the large Muslim population so that, now, Islam is the dominant religion in that country.  Muslims now drive the 43% of all Frenchman who believe in a divine God.

There are probably lessons to be learned from France.  We in America are creating our own vacuum; fifty years ago more than 90% of Americans believed in God and more than 80% attended church regularly.  Those numbers have declined of late with barely 50% of Americans who believe in God and even fewer who attend church regularly.

The French seem to enjoy sitting around their sidewalk cafes, smirking at the rest of the world, and basking in their superior intellect.  To the French, Notre Dame Cathedral is simply an interesting architectural wonder, not a place where they would care to go and worship God.  Our Millennials are the French counterparts, sitting around Starbucks with their tablets and notebooks, googling arguments for Climate Change and deriding the religious right.

One can argue religion all day long but it should be clear that the decline in morality, and church attendance in the West has certainly coincided with a more savage society these days.  While I don't believe the church has all the answers I do believe a modicum of morality is necessary if a society is to survive.

Our seemingly total surrender to moral values is creating a vacuum and nature does indeed abhor a vacuum.  And, whether you like it or not, the Muslims take their religion seriously.....enough to now command 3/5ths of the world.  

Ironically, throughout America, after Paris, I have heard the secular left espouse that we must defeat radical Islam with "love".  I greet that idea with great skepticism.  "Love" is not going to stop the spread of Islam and its many tenets that are in total conflict with our Western values.  I cannot believe that our Secular Left has any love for anyone; witness their insistent and consistent hate for Americans who "cling to their religion".  Laying flowers at the sites of massacres will not defeat radical Islam....developing a sense of moral values just might.

Should we fail get ready to turn toward Mecca five times a day and offer a prayer.  Be prepared to surrender everything you ever believed in because "nature abhors a vacuum".

Friday, November 27, 2015

Susan Rice died for Obama's Sins

                                                                   

Susan Rice died for Obama and Hillary's sins.
We all remember Chief, National Security Advisor Susan Rice's appearance on those 2012 Sunday morning news shows. She came on to defend the administration's failure to act during the Benghazi massacre, alleging that the Libyan uprising was all due to a anti-muslim video.
When the dust settled we all found out that the video story was a huge lie, meant to provide "cover" for a President and Secretary of State that made a horrendous mess of the Middle East.
So, while doing research for a future blog, I came across an interesting tidbit about Susan Rice. Seems she was on the National Security Council during Bill Clinton's second term. And, yes, she was there when Bill Clinton failed to give the order to rescue our guys during Black Hawk Down. And following that tragedy, again born from Presidential negligence, Susan Rice was quoted as saying "Following the Somalia tragedy I vowed that I would never again allow such tragedy to go unpunished. In every instance like that I would call for dramatic action."
So, isn't it interesting that Susan Rice was forced to trot out to those Sunday morning news shows in 2012 and toot the "company line"...that Benghazi was the result of a anti-muslim video!
I would remind you that Susan Rice had been designated by Obama to replace Hillary Clinton as Secretary of State. However, after the storm that erupted after those Sunday morning news show appearances she withdrew her name from nomination....she knew she would never be confirmed by the Senate.
So, if you were pissed at Susan Rice, you'd be wise to look elsewhere. Round up the usual suspects because it was Obama and Hillary who were the real bad guys....Susan Rice just happened to die for their sins...on a Sunday morning.  She has not been on television since.

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Happy Thanksgiving!

                                                                   

Just as Christmas is not "just Christmas", but a panorama of all the Christmases of your lifetime, Thanksgiving Day is not just a day that falls on the fourth Thursday of the month. Thanksgiving is a celebration of all your Thanksgivings past. From the moment you commit to lugging a 20 pound bird from the grocery freezer to home, you're immersed in memories of every Thanksgiving of your life, every food laden table that you've sat down to, every family fight over a turkey leg or a wishbone, every loved one you've ever shared Thanksgiving with.
Thanksgiving is to unashamedly eat until you are as stuffed as the turkey...without a care about calories or cholesterol. And, on those rare occasions when either Dallas or Detroit has a decent team, you might even enjoy the Turkey Day football game....between long "tryptophan" naps...that natural sleep aid in the bird that causes you to snore and slobber with pumpkin pie breath while lounging in the middle of the living room floor.
But Thanksgiving is also about taking a moment to be thankful for what we have, no matter how humble our home, or the year our dinner wine was bottled. 
And it should also be a reminder of how much this country has given of her bounty. We have fed and medicated much of the world for nearly a century now. We have given the gift of freedom to tens of millions of the world's people. And, thank God, even these days, millions of Americans will fan out into their communities, and serve Thanksgiving dinners in homeless shelters (and wash the pans after)...millions more will deliver Turkey dinner boxes to homes who might be without a dinner otherwise. So, we should be thankful that there exists, even in our current societal turmoil, deep goodness in millions of hearts.
And, happily, from the first scent of sage from the kitchen, our memories travel back in time when we shared the holidays with our dearest ones....family and friends now departed, or those too far away to travel home for the holiday.
And let's not forget the thousands of our military who are deployed on foreign soil for this holiday. Let's remember them, and be thankful for them. We need not feel too sorry for them, though. I've sat for Thanksgiving dinner in a chow hall with a thousand men and the spirit of the holiday still reigns supreme, even that far from home...because we were sharing dinner with a thousand "brothers". Whether is it Turkey Dinner with all the trimmings, or Turkey Tetrazini in a chemically heated foil pouch on a craggy outreach in Afghanistan, we always knew to be thankful to be an American.
Happy Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Thankful For Compassion

                                                                     

Thankful For Compassion
Earlier this month I wrote about our local Valley View Community Food Bank and their perilous financial situation. Food donations have simply not kept pace with the demand. Of all the local food banks, Valley View has always been the most proactive in trying to raise funds to feed the poor. The one here in Sun City has taken a novel approach toward keeping their operation running. They leased a building in an old 70's era strip mall, with half of the building serving as the food bank, the other half as a thrift shop to raise money for store maintenance as well as buying food to supplement food donations.
Alas, just this past week Valley View has been forced to close down their Sun City operation. Their lease rent was $10,000 per month and they could not meet the payments. So Valley View is moving to nearby El Mirage and will occupy a smaller space for half the least rent.
I am saddened by this. More than 50% of Valley View's food donations were made to seniors right here in Sun City, seniors living on social security checks as little as $700 dollars per month. To comprehend that try to imagine paying property taxes and gas and electric bills and buying food and paying for your subscription drugs on $700 per month. And, as most of you know, the government has decided Social Security recipients don't get a pension increase this year because "there was no inflation"...(try telling that to anyone whose tried to buy meat this year, or eggs, or pay increased utility bills). In case after case seniors living on Social Security must decide between buying food or paying for their prescription drugs.
So, the Valley View Community Food Bank was providing an essential service to seniors here. And while many of them could previously hop in their golf cart and motor down to the food bank, they'll no longer be able to do that at the new location. And since Valley View food bank simply can't afford to make home delivery there was a real chance many of our seniors would go without a Thanksgiving dinner this year.
Happily, just this past weekend, the Director of Valley View has decided he simply can't abandon those old folks. So, though the food bank is no long in operation, he's boxing up Thanksgiving dinners and will haul them over to a parking lot in Sun City and will distribute them on Wednesday. 
Don't know what the old folks will do for Christmas dinner, or for the rest of the year, but Valley View is making sure they have a Thanksgiving dinner. Bless their heart. I'm most thankful this year that we still have people who care about other people.

Monday, November 23, 2015

Obama's Revised History

                                                                         

Obama said that, if it were up to the GOP, we'd be fighting seven wars.  How insightful!

I would argue that five of those wars belong to Obama.  Barry's done a masterful job blaming Afghanistan and Iraq on George W.  

But the power vacuum Obama has created through his praise of all those "Arab Springs" belong to him alone....a power vacuum every bit as impressive as the parting of the Red Sea!  Egypt, Syria, Lebanon and Yemen are all Barry's babies!  And Putin's invasion of The Ukraine was met with stone cold silence by The Community Organizer!

No matter, as Demorats will do, Barry will re-write history as he leaves the White House and sets off on his multimillion dollar lecture tour.

And we'll all be under societal assault by 30 million illegal Mexicans and untold numbers of Muslims imported just for the occasion!

And the National Black Caucus in Congress will still be introducing legislation to fund an Obama head up on Mt. Rushmore!  

Sad.  Damned Sad.

Friday, November 20, 2015

The Golden Arches No Longer Golden

                                                                       

Just read on Yahoo News that the McDonalds franchises are rebelling at the corporate mandated "all day breakfast" thing.  Franchise owners say kitchen workers are stumbling all over each other, trying to prepare both breakfast and lunch or dinner items.

Sigh.

McDonalds simply doesn't get it.  Let me illustrate.  A few months ago McDonalds announced that they'd be tacking on an extra ounce to their quarter pounder patty, and would toast the bun a few seconds longer.  So I went down to Micky D's and tried em out.  Still the same old untoasted bun, with a cold slice of cheese resting on top of a tasteless hamburger patty.  That was it for me.

You know, McDonalds knows what they need to do to improve product and service; they simply refuse to do it.  They need to just copy the In N Out Burger model...hire good people, pay them a little more, motivate them into preparing hot, fresh burgers and fries (no microwave or warmers allowed) and they'll have customers galore.

McDonalds simply won't do it.  Now the rather pampered franchise owners, in the past simply content to draw customers from a simple look at that big golden arch, cannot cope with changing customer tastes.  (How can Jack in The Box serve breakfast all day without complaint?  How can Chik Fil A win every customer service award?)

McDonalds has yet to learn that being a big behemoth does not guarantee your survival...just look at Kmart and Sears to see the truth of that statement.

So, what once was the "golden franchise" is now not.  Carl Jr's can make a better burger, so can Culver's.  And In N Out is still the standard that all should aspire too.  McDonald's won't, doesn't give a shit....and neither do I.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

No Tricolors For Me

                                                                     

Pardon me if I don't overlay the French Tri-Colors over my profile picture.  While I sympathize with the killing of innocents, the French nation itself has not been much of an ally to this nation.

I would remind you that France, after our having saved them in both World War I and World War II, in 1966 France pulled out of NATO.  That's the appreciation they showed for our efforts in two World Wars.

I would also remind you that it was France who got us into the Vietnam War.  As they tried to hold on to Vietnam, a nation they had colonized and exploited and abused her peoples, they asked and got our help in that effort.  And when it came to our involvement in that war it was France who walked away and refused to send troops to support SEATO's efforts to stop the spread of communism in the region.

And while France re-joined NATO in 2009, as soon as they lost four French soldiers, France pulled out their combatant forces and left it to us to battle Al Quaida.

Finally, France, Britain and now Germany have opened up their borders to hundreds of thousands of Muslims...and they have suffered for it.  How many terrorist attacks, how many British, France and German innocents have lost their lives to terrorist attack?  How many more Muslim con caves in those lands will insist that the West surrender their own religious and societal values and bow down to Islamic law?

And, sadly, we have a President who has coddled radical Muslims, even refuses to utter the words "Radical Islamic Terrorism", intends to allow more than 200,000 more Muslims into America...without regard to their religious intolerance, or even their terrorist backgrounds.

Sorry, folks.  I can mourn those killed in yesterday's attack, but I'll be damned if I'll post the Tri-Colors....those colors have run yellow when we most needed their help.

George Bush was right when he said after 9/11, "you're either with us or against us".  The time has come to get tough with radical Islamic terrorists.  No more simpering, no more tricolors painted on our face, no more tricolors lighting the top of the Empire State Building, and no more offering excuses for any Muslim who will not tolerate our religions and customs and values.

Until we have a President who will prosecute a war against terror, and until America wakes up and recognizes the threat, we will not be safe in our own land.  Yesterday the French got a taste of radical nastiness.  Will it wake them up?  Well, America went back to sleep after 9/11 so I'm not very hopeful.

Sad.  Damned Sad.

Monday, November 16, 2015

The Healing Wall

                                                                     

In 1979 America decided to build a memorial for the more than 58,000 Vietnam veterans who would never come home.  Bids went out for America's most prominent architects to submit their designs for the memorial.  More than 1,400 designs were submitted. When the Memorial designs were ready they installed all of them out in a large aircraft hangar at a nearby Air Force base.  The names of each designer was removed, each one tagged with just a number.  The judging panel selected #1029.

The winning entry was designed by a 21 year old Chinese-American girl named Maya Lin.  As a child she was something of a loner, had few friends, loved her school studies, and spent most of her free time sculpting images in bronze.  She was a student at Ohio University when she heard about the call for the design of the Vietnam Memorial.  In preparation for her submission she imagined, then discarded dozens of ideas for the memorial.  Finally, she pondered the names of all of those thousands of vets who had given their lives for the war....and her mind conjured up the image of a violent black slash in the ground, representing the pain and loss of war.

When Maya's submission of that long black wall was announced as the winner Americans exploded in anger.....it didn't resemble any of the other war memorials and critics savaged the young girl...both for her design, as well as her ancestry.  Ross Perot called her an "egg roll" and the Secretary of the Interior refused issue a building permit for that 3 acres just north of the Lincoln Memorial.

Yet the wall was built as designed.  And, over the years, millions of Americans have visited the wall, including hundreds of thousands of Vietnam veterans who walk along the Wall, longer than a football field, and bow and touch the names of their comrades who gave their life for that war.  The Wall is in two sections, each one rushing to join each other at an elevated summit, the two sections coming together meant to represent the healing of a wound.

The Vietnam Wall has since come to mean so much to so many.  Wives and Mothers and Fathers, sisters and brothers, and brothers in arms and other loved ones visit the wall, leaving flowers just beneath the name of the lost loved one.  They bring paper and crayon and take rubbings of their dear one's name.

When Vietnam vet John Devitt, of Stockton, California came to the inauguration of the memorial he was awed by the healing nature of the memorial.  He vowed to start a traveling wall, a smaller version of it, and take it around the country so that everyone would have a chance to touch the name of a loved one lost in that war.  And still today that traveling wall makes its rounds around America.

The Vietnam Memorial Wall is now one of the most popular war memorials in all of America.  It seeks, and has succeeded in healing old wounds...in finally recognizing bravery and courage for those who lost their lives, and a late "welcome home" for those for whom no hero's welcome, no parades, no "welcome home" was ever expressed by the American people.

Today, 13 November, marks the 33rd Anniversary of the opening of the Vietnam War Memorial.  How wise and wonderful were the imaginings of a 21 year old Chinese-American girl so long ago.

                                                               

Friday, November 13, 2015

Heroism; No Expiration Date

                                                                 

Okay, Veterans Day has come and gone.  But, surely you can hear one more story.

On January 17th, 2010, a group of military vets defied all the world aid bureaucrats, and all official warnings, and deployed into Haiti and began to immediately provide medical aid and bring food and water to hurricane victims.  These vets were in there before UN aid workers, before FEMA, before anyone.

"When Julius Caesar crossed the Rubicon at the head of his legions and marched on Rome, it marked a point of no return. The phrase "crossing the Rubicon" has since survived in reference to any group committing itself to a risky course of action. On January 17th, 2010, despite government and large aid organization's advice not to proceed, Team Rubicon members crossed the Artibonite River separating the Dominican Republic and Haiti, carrying crucial gear and medical supplies to the people of Port-au-Prince. Once across, they were irrevocably committed to their task. Hence the name: Team Rubicon"

This small band of rescuers, Team Rubicon, has now grown as an organization...they now number in the thousands, all military vets who, having forced to transition from a "values-based" organization like the military into "for profit" business jobs, have found something lacking in their lives...the need to continue to serve their communities as well as folks all around the world suffering from a natural disaster.

                                                   

Team Rubicon has, in the past two years alone, deployed to natural disaster sites around the world.  Their motto is "bridge the gap"...fill the void between disaster and the time governments and relief organizations can gin up their aid operations.

And these valiant vets have been there, in Africa, in Haiti, in Joplin, Missouri following a tornado, anywhere where folks are sitting stunned by death and loss.   And where they're not providing emergency relief for disaster victims, they're rebuilding homes for disaster vets and joining Habitat for Humanity to build homes for folks who've never owned one.

One of the greatest challenges for those who leave the military is trying to fit what you did in the military to a civilian resume.  How does one convince a Human Resource Manager that you can "do the job?"  How much does loyalty count?  How many points do we get for courage?  For honor?  For guys used to putting in 20 hour duty days?  Sadly, most business folks just don' t get it.  They don't understand that we managed budgets, that at the age of 25 we supervised a hundred people, that "mission", whether it be taking that hill, or capturing "market share" is well within our capabilities to achieve.

So, hundreds of thousands of us come home, and we apply for a job, and we fill out our resumes, and we don't get the job because we don't have a degree in business.  Too bad.  Businesses turn away some of the greatest leaders they could ever hope to find.

So Team Rubicon was born.  Their mission and their work provides that "values-based" work that is sorely missed by vets when they leave the military.

                                                          

And who is better at responding to chaos...a FEMA bureaucrat..or someone who has known the fog of war...who lives with chaos every hour of every day?

So, relax America....your military AND your ex-military are on the job.  If you're a victim of a flood, or an earthquake, or a hurricane or a tornado, or if someone's building you a house, or repairing one, don't be surprised if the first help you see are wearing those gray T-shirts with Team Rubicon emblazoned across their chest.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

A Not So Happy Veterans Day

                                                                   

Before this day is out 22 veterans will have committed suicide.  By Christmas 6,500 veterans will have taken their life this year alone.  Sadly, a recent VA study says this number may be much higher; they don't count those vets who froze to death under a highway bridge, or on a park bench.

These deaths are so very hard to understand for those who've never served in a war zone.  The only civilian equivalent that I can think of is for you to imagine you enter the gates of Disneyland and immediately begin sidestepping concussion bombs on Walt Disney Way,  or having a sniper firing at you from Frontierland.  

But, it gets even worse than being exposed to danger....it is the toll taken for a soldier's own role in the violence of war.  Too many times the damage isn't recognized until that soldier comes home and tries to integrate back into society.

An excerpt from one soldier's suicide note:

I am sorry that it has come to this.
The fact is, for as long as I can remember my motivation for getting up every day has been so that you would not have to bury me. As things have continued to get worse, it has become clear that this alone is not a sufficient reason to carry on. The fact is, I am not getting better, I am not going to get better, and I will most certainly deteriorate further as time goes on. From a logical standpoint, it is better to simply end things quickly and let any repercussions from that play out in the short term than to drag things out into the long term.
You will perhaps be sad for a time, but over time you will forget and begin to carry on. Far better that than to inflict my growing misery upon you for years and decades to come, dragging you down with me. It is because I love you that I can not do this to you. You will come to see that it is a far better thing as one day after another passes during which you do not have to worry about me or even give me a second thought. You will find that your world is better without me in it.
I really have been trying to hang on, for more than a decade now. Each day has been a testament to the extent to which I cared, suffering unspeakable horror as quietly as possible so that you could feel as though I was still here for you. In truth, I was nothing more than a prop, filling space so that my absence would not be noted. In truth, I have already been absent for a long, long time.
My body has become nothing but a cage, a source of pain and constant problems. The illness I have has caused me pain that not even the strongest medicines could dull, and there is no cure. All day, every day a screaming agony in every nerve ending in my body. It is nothing short of torture. My mind is a wasteland, filled with visions of incredible horror, unceasing depression, and crippling anxiety, even with all of the medications the doctors dare give. Simple things that everyone else takes for granted are nearly impossible for me. I can not laugh or cry. I can barely leave the house. I derive no pleasure from any activity. Everything simply comes down to passing time until I can sleep again. Now, to sleep forever seems to be the most merciful thing.
Sadly, our politicos, and the numbers crunchers can break down the costs of a thousand tanks, a million rounds of ammunition...and even how many "meals, ready to eat" will be needed this year in Afghanistan.  And they can tote up the costs of combat pay, and even project how many artificial limbs will be needed next year.  But all those number crunchers simply cannot comprehend the costs of war to the human psyche.
So, as we pause today to honor our veterans, let us stop to think about the "real" burden the veteran carries each and every day.  If you run into a vet today thank him for his service.  But let us also understand that the war doesn't end when a veteran comes home.  
The recent VA scandal brought home just how badly our vets are neglected.  As the news emerged Americans were rightly outraged.  And that national outrage spurred our Commander In Chief and Congress to allocate more funds towards veterans care, and reform of the VA system.
And yet, as we always do, as soon as the outrage dies down, the veteran is soon again given the short end of the stick.  Case in point; President Obama, in his recent budget, cut $4 billion dollars from the VA budget.....the savings to be used to provide benefits to tens of thousand Muslim immigrants fleeing the Middle East.
Our politicians will never face up to the real costs of war.  Let's hope we, the American people do...and not let our politicians sweep the veteran's plight under the rug.
A not so happy Veterans Day.