Friday, April 28, 2017

Happy Earth Day

                                                                       


Last Saturday was Earth Day.  Just my two cents on celebrating it.
Let's honor the earth by employing every means to keep her healthy.... solar, wind energy, fusion technologies, etc. But let us all also keep a level head. There are people who would have us surrender our entire lifestyles and fall down and worship nature only.
Well, "man" is also nature and he has built wondrous things, improved the life spans of billions, healing the sick and feeding the multitudes in greater measure than at any time in our history.
Let us look at every societal assertion with a degree of skepticism, especially those people and organizations who derive their livelihood from government grant, for they will only ever mouth the words of our government masters...and we know those masters are never to be trusted.
Fifty years ago, Professor Paul Ehrlich wrote a book called "The Population Bomb", sponsored by government grants and with government's blessing. He said that, if we continued to populate at those current rates we would all live in a vast wasteland, would face massive societal upheaval and would starve to death in the 1990's. Since Ehrlich wrote that book the population has doubled and more people are fed today than when that book was written. Just saying......maintain a skeptical eye at the climate change folks who say we're all going to be swimming for our lives in 2050...their salaries are paid by folks who have a personal interest in promoting their own agendas.
That doesn't mean we earth people aren't stupid. As gas prices fall we see the same old groups buying gas guzzling cars, paying no attention to the fluorocarbons they are spewing into the atmosphere. We still have corporations who value profit margin over the environment. And, even as we speak we still have oil tankers that are not double hulled and highly susceptible to spilling a million gallons of oil into still pristine waters.
Earth Day to me has always been a celebration of the God given gifts all about us. I have lived in Hawaii, where the air is as pure as any on earth, and loved drinking in the sea-fresh air of the tradewinds. I've both flown over, and driven through The Great Smoking Mountains...that vast multi-state, forest of millions of trees....home of 130 different species....more trees there than in all of Europe...and held my breath in wonder at the majesty of it all. Wherever I've travelled in the world...whether in Asia, or Europe, or over the vastness of Arabian desert, and I've always been impressed by man's ability to adapt to any environment.
So, for the naysayers, for the folks who pray for the deaths of a billion people....necessary they say to save the earth...for the people who say we've simply got to stop eating meat and sustain ourselves with grains, who say we all ought to be walking wherever we go, I say "screw you"...."we'll find a way...we always do". 
Our destiny will always be in the hands of our Creator...and His only. And we are still around because he instills in us the heart and intelligence necessary to overcome our challenges and persevere in an ever changing world.
Happy Earth Day. (Now go out an pick up a gum wrapper, turn off that damn light in the closet, shut the water off when you'r brushing your teeth, and plant a tree. I can tell you that's doing far more than those pols in Washington have ever done.)

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

One More Word (or Two) On Bill O'Reilly

                                                                     

If any of you are feeling sorry for Bill O'Reilly...don't.  First of all, the guy has racked up hundreds of millions in his nearly twenty year run.  Secondly, I guarantee you he'll get a slot on another cable network if he chooses.  The media outlets are no less "corporate whore" than Exxon or IBM....they will hire anyone who they believe will boost their ratings.

Let me be a bit prophetic here.  O'Reilly, if he doesn't retire, will sign a multi-million dollar deal with one of those mega radio companies who either own, or are affiliated with 500 radio stations across the nation.  Then he and Limbaugh can fight it out for whose the biggest fish in the pond.

Then, following a die-down in the din of liberal outrageousness, some cable company will sign old Bill to a rich contract....and he'll haul in millions of viewers and viewer dollars for the corporate whores who sponsor him.

Incidentally, if you've ever labored under the illusion that corporations have either heart, or ethics, you'd be horribly wrong.  Any one of them would contract out a hit on their mothers if it meant an extra 1 percent of profit margin.

I'm almost sure that the only loser in the Fox-O'Reilly matter will be Fox News.  Not many conservative viewers have left O'Reilly, despite the massive assault on his character, and the long line of females who cried sexism.   Slick Willie is no less popular for dropping his zipper in the Oval Office and you have to realize we just elected a guy who harbored an urge for "pussy grabbing", so don't get caught up in the morality of this thing, kiddies.

So, if you've been thinking of setting up a Go Fund Me page for Mr. O'Reilly, I urge instead that you send any money you can spare to this "Modest Scribbler".  In return I promise to keep my groping to the minimum.




Monday, April 24, 2017

The Multi-Layered Human

                                                                   

Two recent news stories sent this old noggin spinning this morning; Bill O'Reilly's firing over on Fox, and football player/murderer, Aaron Hernandez' prison suicide.

In both instances you find fatally flawed human beings, their flaws eventually doing them in, just as they did with iconic funnyman, Bill Cosby.

In an age where society seems to value the superficial, an image created especially for a hundred yard gridiron, or a TV screen, we usually find the flaws much later than we do among our intimate friends. That's just the way it is.

And yet, we are all something of the artichoke, a multi-layered being who strives always to put on the best face in public, and save the nasty stuff for hearth and home.

In both of these media celebrities there's something to ponder.  In Hernandez you had a Latino kid who lost his father at age 16, searched for something to replace him, and found the world of the street thug to his liking.  His teammates, searching for something kind to say about him after his suicide, said that Aaron really loved kids, apparently only before they reached puberty, cause after that they were subject to being gunned down by Aaron and company.  Still, those stories reveal another layer of the human being that was Aaron Hernandez.

In O'Reilly's case, you have a seemingly intelligent man who just couldn't keep his dick in his pants.  There's precedent for that; Rhodes Scholar Bill Clinton suffered from a similar affliction.  So, this week, O'Reilly, who was pulling in $20 million a year, finally suffered the consequences of treating women with less respect than he demanded of himself.  So, again we see another layer of human being....the sartorially splendid and articulate Bill O'Reilly, done in by those layers of human frailties that lay beneath.

Please don't engage me in a debate about the unfairness of O'Reilly's firing.  Given the plethora of victims in O'Reilly's wake he probably deserved it.  And I do despair that the incestuous liberal snake pit over at CNN, and MSNBC, and CBS, and ABC, never seem to get nailed for their own peccadillos.  Slick Willie still draws huge crowds and rakes in tons of speaking fee money, and Hillary didn't fire her Chief Campaign Aide just because her husband was flashing his wiener on Facebook, nor have liberals ever complained about Joe and Mika, both married to others, but making the beast with two backs when the camera lights are dimmed.  Nor has anyone questioned a capability for objective reporting given how many of our "news kings and queens" are married to our government masters.  Yet the liberal set spared no outrage for O'Reilly's failings....because, let's face it, he was conservative.

America needs a good artichoke peeler.  We might not like what that peeled artichoke looks like after...but it would certainly reveal any rot below a hell of a lot quicker.

Friday, April 21, 2017

KFC Spent $80 Million For What?

                                                                     

Now anyone who knows the chicken business knows that Chik-Fil-A has been kicking KFC's butt for years now.  So this week I read that KFC has spent the last two years, and $80 million dollars, working on a better chicken sandwich.

Well, KFC is about to debut their new sandwich, called "The Zinger", on April 24th.  No doubt your email box will be full of animated crowing chickens, accompanied by a 20 percent discount coupon, to test drive The Zinger.

Sigh.  I could have saved KFC that $80 million.  Just hire southern moms.  Yes, I said southern moms...the purveyors of delicious crispy fried chicken...from recipes handed down to them from an era when women twisted the neck off a yardbird, de-feathered it themselves, and threw into a hot iron skillet filled three quarters with lard.

Yes, lard.  And don't get your panties in a bunch.  Lard makes everything tastes better.  And is it really important that you don't live to age 89, your brain fried with old age dementia?  Can't you be happy living to 85 and dying with a smile on your face?

Just have your wife (or, in this era, do it yourself)...wander into the kitchen and whip up a tray of biscuits, made with lard.  That's the taste we grew up with...the taste we loved...before our government masters dictated its extinction in commercial kitchens.  (Yes, people...they still make their fast food and diner biscuits with lard down south...they just hide the bucket when the food inspectors come in.)

                                               

A few years ago I walked into a Hardees down Georgia way.  As I walked in the door I realized I was the only White boy in the joint.  However, the scent of biscuits and gravy steeled my spine and I sidled up to the counter and ordered myself a styrofoam platter of southern nirvana.  And, man it was good!  

After sopping up the last ounce of sausage gravy with that lard infused biscuit, I gathered up my tray, dropped the trash into the receptacle, then prepared to walk out.  And, as I sauntered toward the door I noticed that Hardee's chef, a large Black lady, was winking at everyone at the tables around me.  I suspect that viral winking was not about the "honkey"...rather that some fried yard bird was even now being lowered into a tub of boiling lard...right in time for lunch.

KFC, if you're reading this, next time you can fore go wasting $80 million bucks to come up with something that tastes good.  Just hire yourself a southern mom and stock up on tubs of lard.

You're welcome.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

A Word Or Two On Breakfast

                                                             

1) First of all, let's get this out of the way right off....if eggs were bad for you I would have been dead ten years ago. I totally ignored those dire Surgeon General warnings of the 80's, have eaten my way through a chicken coop of eggs...and have better cholesterol readings than my "eggs twice a year" wife.
2) American business can design a device that will hold ten thousand songs...but can't make sausages square so you can cook them evenly on all side without having to play "roll a bug".
3) When I lived in Saudi Arabia we had two choices for butter; American brands and Ireland's Kerrygold, both priced the same. So I always got Kerrygold because it was only like a hundred times better tasting than the American stuff. Kerrygold is as addictive as cocaine. So, when I returned to the states, saw that Kerrygold sells over here for $6 bucks a pound, I had to go back to American butter. (Severe withdrawal symptoms)
                                                           
4) Since I was a kid I had watched those old MGM movies where the rich are sitting out on the patio of their mansion, drinking orange juice out of crystal, and having their breakfasts from silver tureens, and I always wanted to dine with those silver tureens. As it turned out I finally got the chance....except the "silver" was stainless steel vats and the "meal de jour" was shit on a shingle served from a 10 gallon vat.
5) Has anyone noticed that eggs have gotten smaller over time? What once we called "large" they now call "jumbo". And I've actually bought "large" eggs of late that look like quail eggs.
6) Most folks wouldn't know that I'm a master of efficiency when cooking breakfast. I can whip up a breakfast in five minutes or less, ten if you add a side of meat.
7) I have tried at least a hundred times to duplicate the light and fluffy hotcakes that you get at Denny's and Ihop...and can't...mine are always heavy. (no, don't send me any recipes...I've read them all)
8) If you haven't tried crumbled bacon over brown sugar and cinnamon oatmeal, with a dollop of sweet cream, you have no idea of what heaven will be like.
9) With the profit margins collected on a Denny's breakfast the Justice Department ought to arrest the franchisees and throw them in the clink for life. Death penalty for anyone who charges $3 bucks for a cup of coffee. Drawn and quartered if they charge for re-fills.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

"On The Occasion of My 69th Birthday"

                                                                 
Take a poll among any hundred intellectual elites and they will tell you that sentimentality is a dishonest emotion, totally without merit.  Those elites hate any movie where there's a tear shed, when any emotion is honestly voiced...in book, in movie...or in the lyrics of a song.

I disagree.  Sentimentality is the art of seeing only what we want to see.  And I say "thank God for that".  Life is tough enough, humans fallible enough, that we simply must possess the art of forgiving our loved ones' faults if ever love is  possible.

So, every year my daughter sends me a wonderfully sentimental birthday card.  And she always takes the time to make that card meaningful to me...something that never fails to touch my heart.  So does that mean she does not harbor memories of my many failings?  Of course not...she is simply saying that I am loved, even admired, despite my failings.

My god, people, you all know I'm something of a "sentimental slut" myself, having written dozens...no, hundreds of blog essays...about every one of my loved ones.....none of them perfect...without fault and failings.

And, as I have grown older, I freely admit to chronic bouts of sentimentality.  In a world growing increasingly more savage, when folks are judged these days on the very latest "mal droit" they have mistakenly uttered, I believe we can all use a dose of sentimentality to maintain our sanity.

Though I tend to "mix it up" in my writings on this blog, I can tell you that I literally torment my Facebook friends, almost daily, with a post about feeling euphoric on a particular morning...just because the trees are leafing, or my Lantana is bursting into spectacular color.  Or I write about something cute my little dog did this week.  And, yes, time and again, I climb into my time machine and write about the wondrous experiences of my childhood.....a period when I was nurtured, tutored on the right way to behave, and loved unconditionally.  While much of what I write about is "water under the bridge", those waters are soothing beyond belief...and the bridge always there, over the troubled waters of my life.

I suppose my daughter could send me a tract on "Modern Philosophy".  And I'm just intellectual enough to be stimulated by it.  But, these days, I prefer a simple and sentimental message that says I mean something to her...assuring me that my life has had some measure of value.

In that little Hallmark missive my daughter sent, she borrowed (or bought) the words that might express to me, what I mean to her.  And in conveying those words to me, she is saying that I have served as the foundation for all the love that came later in her life.   I feel a little pride in that...the feeling accompanied by a slight trilling of the heart...and admittedly, a tear or two that drops from these old eyes....and I feel not an ounce of guilt for it.

So Happy Birthday to me...on the occasion of my 69th birthday.  And, of the 24,000 plus days since I crawled from the womb, it has been the sentimental expressions of love that have kept me living and loving.








Monday, April 17, 2017

The Heart Of A Champion

                                                                 

Rod Carew, U.S. Marine Corp vet, Hall of Fame baseball player, member of the "3,000 hit club", suffered a massive heart attack in September 2015, one doctors described as a "widow maker", his heart damaged beyond repair. Doctors inserted a heart device, said it wouldn't save him, then sent him home to die, suffering from both heart and kidney failure.

Konrad Reuland was a California kid, born and raised down in Mission Viejo, California. He played tight end on his high school football team but was not good enough to be drafted out of college. Yet, Konrad had a lot of fighting spirit and the San Francisco 49ers saw that in him, and signed him up.

Konrad would go on to play in the NFL for a few years, first with the Niners, then the New York Jets and Baltimore Ravens.

So, four days after Thanksgiving last year, Konrad Reuland suffered a brain aneurism, was admitted to the hospital but the doctors couldn't save him. He died just two weeks before Christmas.

But Konrad had a gift for Hall of Famer Rod Carew...a little organ donor card in his wallet.

So four days later, just a week before Christmas Rod Carew, Hall of Famer, Marine Corp vet, received the heart and kidneys of young Konrad Reuland, he of The Fighting Irish and Stanford Cardinals, gladiator of the gridiron.

Rod Carew's uniform number in his playing days was "29". That number 29 hangs on a banner in the baseball stadium of Minnesota Twins, and in the Baseball Hall of Fame.

Konrad Reuland died at age 29. And "29" means a lot more to Rod Carew these days...far more than a number on the back of a baseball uniform. Rod Carew, with his spanking new heart, now goes about the country promoting an organ donation program called "Heart of 29".

...the heart of a champion....

Friday, April 14, 2017

"Fly The Friendly Skies"

                                                                 

First of all, you people need to get over your shock at United Airlines' bodily ejecting a passenger from their plane, his head bouncing off the armrests all the way down Economy.  A bit of history here folks.

United Airlines is the biggest employee-owned corporation in the world.  Their 84,000 employees, guided by their union, plotted a takeover of that airline in 1994.  By demanding ridiculous salary hikes, and staging strikes, the United Union was able to cripple UA to the brink of bankruptcy.  The flying union thugs were able to take a 55% stake in the company and, for the last 23 years their crews have gone from abusing corporate management to abusing passengers.  Since then "Fly The Friendly Skies" has become a cruel joke as they shrunk your leg space by putting a few more rows into the cabin...now more like cattle car.  And this past week we learned that United ain't so "friendly on the ground" either, hey?

Folks, you need to understand that the "union types" like only union types.  From Jimmy Hoffa to the current AFL-CIO Chief, Richard Trumpka, these guys make the Mafia look like the girl scouts, people!
                                                         
So quit being shocked over United roughing up a passenger.  They do it all the time, but most of the time when you're at 37,000 feet and your only option is a long free fall.  Just try asking one of those "flight attendant union thugs" for another bag of pretzels and see what happens!

When I was a kid I never dreamed of ever getting a seat on an airplane.  My fondest travel hopes was to climb on a sleek Greyhound bus and see the sights.  Then, by the 70's those Greyhound bus stations were ground zero for drug deals and folks that would slit your throat for a pack of cigarettes.

By the 1990's the airlines had become the equivalent of those 70's Greyhounds...filled with sweaty and dirty trailer trash who, at best wore their pajama bottoms aboard, at worst, wore less than that.

By the time I wrapped up my Air Force career I was close to the Million Mile Club.  Then, after ten years of working in the Middle East, I finally won my "million mile" wings.

I made my last flight in July, 2001, from Riyadh, Saudi Arabia to Los Angeles.  No longer required to fly in my work, I grounded myself permanently.  I could simply not tolerate being herded into those commercial cattle cars, poked and prodded, then ignored, so I travel on two legs or four wheels these days.  It's safer that way.........and immensely preferable to being dragged down the middle aisle, feet in the air, my head bumping arm rests along the way, then being bid adieu with "come fly with us again....unless we've overbooked".




Wednesday, April 12, 2017

"Actually He'd Rather Not Have A Hole In The Head"

                                                               

(Dedicated to my cousin, Tammy, who aroused my curiosity)

An Indiana boy named Jacob Miller awoke on the hill just above Chicamauga Creek on the morning of September 19th, 1863.  The boy was tired.  As an Infantryman with General Rosecrans' Union troops, Jacob was just one of thousands who had been tromping up and down hills for days...all the way from Tennessee, into Georgia, in pursuit of the Confederacy's General Bragg's boys.

The day before General Bragg had dispatched his cavalry against Jacob and his Union comrades, but Rosecran's cavalry, armed with repeating rifles had held them in check.  Jacob's Infantry Unit held the line there at Chicamauga until the last shot was fired on the evening of the 18th.

On the 19th Jacob rolled out of his nap sack and moseyed over to the campfire, grabbed a piece of hard tack, slapped some fat back over it to soften it a bit, then sat down to breakfast, washed down with hickory coffee.

Before long the trumpets sounded and Jacob and his boys were commanded to charge down the hill, down there to Chicamauga Creek and roust them some "Johnny Rebs".  Jacob grabbed his rifle and joined the line as they headed down that hill, muskets blazing.

Alas, that was the last thing young Jacob Miller remembered for awhile.  He took a musket ball right between the eyes, then collapsed like an ironing board.  Jacob's comrades took one look at the blood burbling out of Jacob Miller's face and left him for dead....no one takes a shot from 20 feet right between the eyes and lives to tell about it.

Except Jacob did.  Private Miller "came to his senses", as he described it, later that day...sometime after his Union boys had suffered the biggest Union loss of the war...leaving some 10,000 of them killed or wounded, another five thousand of them captured as prisoners of war.

So when Jacob awoke, with a big ole giant headache, he found that he was now behind the Confederate lines.  Stumbling to his feet, determined not to be taken prisoner, Private Joseph Miller set out to see if he might find whomever was left of his Union comrades.

Problem was Jacob couldn't see a lick out of either eye.   His head had swelled up so bad from internal bleeding that his eyes were just slits in a bloody face.   That musket ball in his forehead had pretty much blinded him.  After stumbling about blindly for a time, Jacob found that if he used his hand to lift his right eyelid, he could see a bit.  So off he set, the fingers of his right hand used to jack up one eyelid, he was able to see where he was going.  

At one point a massive headache flared once again, so that Joseph had to stumble over to a tree, plop down and lean against it, until the headache subsided, at which time he rose up and stumbled on.  Luckily, Jacob found the end of the Confederate line, then moved toward where he reckoned his comrades would be.  Just then two union body bearers came by, took one look at Jacob Miller and carried him up to the medical aid station.

The station was busy that day, dealing with some 8,000 wounded Union troops.  When the medics finally got around to looking at Jacob the next day they wrote him off as near dead, then went on to tend to those they might save.  Mercifully, an army nurse came by, washed Jacob's face and gave him some water, then called the surgeon over.  When the surgeon arrived Jacob begged him to operate.  The surgeon said "I can't operate on you, fella...as soon as I stuck a knife in there, you'd be cold stone dead!"

They did move Jacob into a nearby cabin where he sat around waiting to learn his fate.  When two other boys from his unit, also there awaiting treatment, saw Joseph they thought they were seeing a ghost.  "We thought you were dead, Jacob!  Your face was all bloody and your blood was bubbling up out of your head like that there Vesuvius!"  "And here you are still kicking".

The next day the medical troops stuck Jacob and his buddies into a wagon heading to Nashville where they might get some medical treatment.  Except, as the wagon bounced and jounced down those muddy roads, Jacob's head pounded fiercely with every bounce of the wagon.  So Jacob got out of the back of the wagon, and started walking, his two buddies hanging on to him and guiding him blindly down the road.  Jacob and his buddies walked sixty miles to Nashville, covering the distance in four days.

When they got to the Union Hospital at Nashville Jacob didn't even remember how he got there.  He found himself coming to as they placed him in a bathtub to wash his bloody and bruised body.  But the surgeons again refused to operate on Jacob and take out that musket ball.  One daring medic finally did remove a little of the shrapnel and wash his head wound.  But they didn't know what to do with this "dead man walking", and shuffled him off the Louisville, then finally up to New Albany, Indiana, closer to his home.

By this time ole Jacob was getting mighty tired of being told no.  So, after nine months of blinding headaches, he took leave and walked all the way home to Logansport and talked his home town country doctor to "do the deed".  Well, the country doc did the best he could.  He prodded and poked and finally nudged as much of the head shrapnel out as he could, then sent Jacob on his way.  Joseph then rejoined his outfit and was finally mustered out in September 1864, a full year since they had left him for dead at Chacamauga.  

Well, seventeen years after he mustered out, ole Jacob was just sitting around, sipping coffee, and when he leaned his head down to stir a little sugar in his coffee a piece of musket ball fell out of that hole in his head.  And fifteen years after that another hunk of lead fell out of that hole in his head.

So on June 4th, 1911, Jacob got word that his old unit was staging a reunion.  By this time ole Jake was living up in Braidwood, Illinois.  When a newspaper man from the Joliet Daily News came to call, to interview old Jake, and he got a bigger scoop than he had hoped for......a story of a man that should have been dead, but wasn't.

Before the reporter left, Jacob cautioned him "Now don't be writing any of this as if I'm complaining!"  "The Grand Ole Army has been good to me with that $40 dollar pension they send me every month!"

Proof positive that Jacob Miller was a kindly and reasonable man.  All in all Jacob considered himself lucky....even with that hole in his head.    He lived to the ripe old age of 74....and there was always that $40 dollar pension after all!




Monday, April 10, 2017

New Liberal Maricopa County Sheriff Folding Up Tent City

                                                                   

As most of you know, Arizona's Maricopa County elected a new sheriff last November.  The California transplants, and Open Borders folks got enough people to vote Sheriff Joe out, and wife beater liberal Paul Penzone in.  

Upon being elected the first thing Penzone did was to announce that he won't be holding illegals for ICE agents to pick up when they are released from jail.  

And, just this past week our new liberal county sheriff has announced he'll close our famed Tent City,  Joe Arpaio's famous jail encampment which housed pink clad prisoners.

Sheriff Penzone says we don't need tent city...that pink underwear and tent living is demeaning to prisoners...and suitable only for our military.

Tent City saved millions in facility construction and maintenance.  And it made it clear that prisoners should not all be given facility TV rooms and fitness centers.....that prison ought to be a deterrent...encouraging miscreants to obey the law so they don't have to come back.

Sheriff Joe also put country prisoners on a Vegan diet, which also saved taxpayers millions.  However, our new liberal Sheriff says not having meat is cruel and unusual punishment, and somewhere in our Constitution it says we ought to treat our prisoners to a steak once in a while.

Tent City housed thousands of prisoners.  Now that it's closing we can only assume that, when things get a bit crowded our new Sheriff will simply release them to the streets, as is done in California.  And we all know how that's turned out.

Sad.  Damned Sad.

Friday, April 7, 2017

California Virtually "Sucks"

                                                               

It's tax month boys and girls!  I thought I knew as much as our federal tax programs as anyone.  I was wrong.  

As you wind your way your way through your tax prep, when you come to deductions, you come to that line that allows you to deduct from your federal taxes, all state and local taxes that you paid in to your state of residence.  Sounds great, right?  Well, no.

This past week I just read an exhaustive article in the L.A. Times which decries Congressional Republicans' plan to eliminate the deduction for state and local taxes.  And when I looked at the federal deduction California enjoys, I truly wished I'd been wearing Depends!  $101 billion dollars every year to give California taxpayers a break on their funding of wasteful liberal spending, much of it that allows illegal Mexicans to prosper.

I gave it a lot of thought and am now more than willing to give up my local and state tax deduction.  If those deductions are allowing California and New York to fund their sanctuary cities I want to end it.  And I no longer want to fund San Francisco's mandate that their municipal residents conform to bizarre and expensive climate change and environmental laws. And, as one can see in the chart above, California and New York, America's liberal bastions,  suck most of our federal tax dollars back to their states....to fund their liberal agenda.  

The Congressional Budget Office reported that the local and state tax deductions accounts for $1.3 trillion dollars each year, money that might better be used for infrastructure projects or, oh hell, paying down the national debt.

And, as with any tax deduction, the biggest local and state tax deductions favor those rich folks up in Silicon Valley and the liberal Hollywood types.  As Republicans work on tax reform I'm hoping that, as a minimum, they limited state and local tax deductions for those who make less than $75,000 or so a year.   With the two biggest hogs, California and New York, putting a stop to the federal piggy bank would accomplish a couple of things.  It would force those two states to pay for their own wasteful liberal programs, and in California's case it would stop that state from enlarging the welcome mat for millions of illegal Mexican invaders.  

If the liberal states want to fund their socialist policies let them do it without the tax dollars of us in the other 48 states.  It's far past time for California stop sucking us dry to advance their liberal agenda.  Maybe, just maybe, California taxpayers will revolt when they no longer can write off their state masters' massive spending programs.




Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Loving Thy Neighbor

                                                                 

"Love Your Neighbor As Yourself....but don't take down the fence"..........Poet Carl Sandburg.
When I first moved into this home I had no back yard fence. It made for interesting moments. I could stand at my kitchen window, making my first cup of coffee, and stare into the kitchen window of my neighbor, and watch her making coffee. Or when I sat on my backyard patio, and read a book, if a neighbor emerged from his home we would exchange the obligatory wave that two kindly people exchange when first seeing each other.
And, should I care to, I could sit in my easy chair and watch cars passing, or people walking by, over on the road behind me. Or on those holidays when little children are about, I've seen young tow heads "go out for a long one" and catch the football yards deep into my back yard. All of those things, sans fence, were delightful things, as I watched the world go by from my own back porch.
But of course there were drawbacks to my quarter acre without fence. Each time I planted a vegetable, or a planter of flowers, or a decorative bush, the rabbits would come and chew them all to extinction. Or the coyotes, pursuing the rabbits, would wander through my yard...and I would have to keep my small doggies inside until the coyotes were gone.
And so, in order to preserve and protect the things I loved, I had to build a fence. None of my neighbors objected to that fence....they recognized my right to do so.
Alas, there are people in America today who believe fences are "racist"....that they imply that I am selfish...that I am hoarding something that, by some undefined right, should belong to everyone. 
I am not selfish. I simply want those who come...to come in the front door...to knock, or ring my doorbell, and allow me to decide whether or not I invite them in. I would be quite offended if anyone barged into my home, demanded a meal and a cup of coffee and a bed, insisting that it was his right to do so. An "invite" is an open arms welcoming; a sharing of what I have....a forceful entry through my door is an invasion. The two will never be the same, no matter how you dress the two in similar robes.
"love thy neighbor as thyself....but build the fence...and keep it up." And never take it down until you understand why it was there in the first place. Doors and gates are more endearing if you hope to have good neighbors.

                                                                   

Monday, April 3, 2017

"You Can See A Lot Standing Under A Flare In The Republic of Vietnam"

                                                                     

"You Can See A Lot Standing Under A Flare In The Republic of Vietnam"
Last Wednesday was Vietnam Veterans Day. I purposely didn't comment on it...mainly because I've pretty much written all I need to write about that war.
Then, on Thursday, to commemorate the day, a number of newspapers wrote about those war days. One news article mentioned the stir of protests across America when Nixon sent American troops into then supposedly neutral Cambodia. 
The news article portrayed Nixon as the bad guy on those Cambodian excursions. However, one thing I learned from those three years in Vietnam was that hats are neither pure black or pure white.
Case in point. When I arrived in Vietnam in 1968 my base was a virtual "dart board" for North Vietnamese rockets and mortars. Those mortars and rockets came down the Ho Chi Minh Trail, a jungle road hacked out along the Laos and Cambodian border.
And we always knew how things stood just by looking west, over to the Cambodian border just 60 miles away. Over that way stood Nui Ba Dinh (Black Virgin Mountain). Throughout the late 60's control of that mountain changed hands constantly, by turn the U.S. holding the top of the mountain, then the North Vietnamese who, when owning the top, stored caches of weapons and supplies in the crevices and caves up top.
Our base in III Corp, the vast swath of rice paddies that extended out for miles beyond Saigon, afforded us a front row seat to the battles to control Nui Ba Dinh. Each night, as we sat in our bunkers or our towers we had our own 4th of July fireworks show. As soon as darkness fell across Vietnam we would see a slap flare fired up around Nui Ba Dinh, then watch the tracers, those red M-16 rounds fired to enhance concentrated fire toward the enemy. When the U.S. Army held the top the red tracers were fired downward. When the North held the top those tracers soared skyward. And each night we cheered when those tracers were headed downward.
Nui Ba Dinh was a strategic supply point because the very end of the Ho Chi Minh Trail was situated only a couple of miles from that embattled mountain.
Most of those battles would not have been as fierce had Prince Sihanouk in Cambodia not pretended neutrality, while allowing the North Vietnamese to ferry their tools of death down through his country. No one, to my knowledge has ever calculated how many Americans and South Vietnamese died at the hands of North Vietnamese weaponry that flowed through Cambodia, but the numbers were many.
Then, in the spring of 1970, President Nixon ordered American troops into the Parrot's Beak region of Cambodia, just a few steps from Nui Ba Dinh. Our troops went in, battled the North Vietnamese, and destroyed thousands of tons of weapons caches prepositioned there, handy to kill as many of us as they could.
As soon as the press got wind of that Cambodian border excursion the headlines were filled with "U.S. Invades Neutral Cambodia!" And of course that led to college protests across America, the political left screaming "foul!"
And what did we see under those flares some ten thousand miles away? We saw an end to those fierce fire fights over at Nui Ba Dinh. We saw skies free of mortars and rockets coming our way. I can tell you that, as unhappy as the boomer college kids were, the troops in Vietnam were deliriously happy with Tricky Dick! We were dodging far fewer of those "death bombs" that were once plentiful over across the Cambodian border.
The Vietnam war will always be controversial. Millions of Americans thought we should never have been there. Millions of us who served only wished we could have fought that war without our hands being tied behind our backs. But there was one glorious moment...that glorious month in the spring of 1970, when America kicked ass and took names....and saved a hell of a lot of lives.
The war's over now and maybe we should stop talking about it. I just read that Nui Ba Dinh is now a mountain theme park. Probably brings joyful fun to visitors. It was not much of a fun place 48 years ago when that mountain rained only death.
A belated thanks to all the Vietnam vets...especially those who fought on the rocky ridges of that bloody mountain.

Saturday, April 1, 2017

Bahama's Resort Stay Giveaway

                                                                 


April Fool!

Snowbird Fury

                                                                     

KPHO, Channel 5 (CBS)
Friday, March 31, 2017
(Bob Thomas reporting)

A crowd of out of state seniors, estimated to be more than ten thousand, converged on the Arizona State Capitol Friday morning, in protest of Arizona Statute SB952, commonly referred to as the "Snow Bird Initiative".

Last month the Arizona Senate, in an effort to enhance tax revenue, proposed SB952, a bill targeted at collecting an estimated $2 billion in various taxes from the more than 2 million out of state residents who make Arizona their winter home.

Upon passage the bill was forwarded to the governor's office for signing.  Proponents of the bill argue that the millions of winter visitors place an unnecessary burden on in state residents as snow birds, who come here to live from October through April are not paying their fair share of the revenue necessary to fund infrastructure and social services.  SB952 is intended to rectify that by placing certain restrictions on out of state residents and significantly raising the tax profile of winter visitors.

Previously, as long as an out of state resident remained for less than eight months they were not required to secure Arizona auto and driver's licenses, nor were they required to pay a pro-rated portion of state income taxes.  SB952 changes the terms of the previous law.  Under the new bill out of state residents will be considered at least "part year" residents if they remain in the state more than three months.  For any period longer than three months our mid-west neighbors will be subject to resident licensing laws and will be required to file Arizona state taxes, prorated for the period they resided in state.

SB952 also stipulates that any home that has wheels will be subject to state property taxes, again prorated for the period of in-state residence.

A more controversial feature of SB952 has even some proponents of the bill shaking their heads, the bill calling for restaurants to cease and desist serving dinner at 3PM since our elderly snowbird population, out on the road during the rush our extends the commute for tens of thousands of in state residents.  Further, SB952 stipulates that any vehicle displaying an out of state plate must stay in the right hand lane so that their 45MPH vehicle speeds do not impede normal traffic patterns.

The crowds Friday morning were irate as they waited in line to attend a state town hall scheduled to hear public complaint.  Assembling just after their IHOP and Denny's breakfasts, the crowd of seniors  formed early, well before 7AM.  

By 9AM, when the meeting started, this reporter witnessed thousands of seniors turned away at the door, the fire department declaring the hall filled to capacity and additional visitors would have violated fire safety code regulations.

The crowd both inside and outside were highly vocal, elderly men throwing their golfing hats on the ground and stomping on them, elderly ladies throwing their yarn goods at Phoenix police who were there for crowd control.  One angry elder even threatened to throw his colostomy bag at any policemen who attempted an arrest.

Fortunately, by 10:30 the crowd began to break up.  There were no porta potties handy and they were already a half hour late for the senior lunch special down at Denny's.

(Stay tuned for continuing coverage...Bob Thomas reporting).

Friday, March 31, 2017

"Pioneering Snowflakes"

                                                                   

You see it every day in today's America.  Millennial angst generated by life's most casual problems blown into crisis status.  Just this week I read a study that says up to 44 percent of Millenials are still living at home, unable, or unwilling to go out and make their way in life.  It's just too difficult.  

The Snowflakes were born from an "everyone gets a blue ribbon" childhood.  A childhood full of "everyone's special"...everyone should be given everything.  That sentiment is reinforced by politicians who offer more and more in exchange for a vote.

So, lest you think it is only this generation, let me offer a bit of something illustrative, proving that the seeds of "the snowflake generation" were already being embedded in the early 70's.  

Here's a letter from a young lady who, not willing to work hard...waiting forever for the glass slipper to show up, wrote a plea in the letters section of the old Sunday supplement, Family Weekly, a plaintiff cry for the prince to show up on her doorstep.

In response to the letter, the young lady got numerous responses, sent via the Family Weekly offices.
The letter most instructive came from one of my literary idols, John D. MacDonald.  MacDonald had sold some 70 million books by that time, and authored over 500 short stories.  However that success did not come easy.  MacDonald started out writing pulp fiction for a penny a word, and his family almost starved.  Still, he kept at it, writing millions of words, discarding millions more, but eventually rode the hard road to success.

Now that I've said that, I guess you can imagine that MacDonald was not kind in his response.  Yet, had she listened, that aspiring singer might have made a go of it.  (She never did).

So, dear readers, I'll let the letters below speak for themselves.  But I'll say this; if you can't see the early seeds of the snowflake generation emerging here I'd be shocked:

Dear Family Weekly,

I suppose I'm writing to the wrong place but I feel that a person in your position could at least advise me on my problem anyway. If I don't hear from you, I'll understand because I wrote to Dan Rowan and Dick Martin and I never heard from them. I also tried getting through to Mike Douglas in Philadelphia two years ago and because I wasn't someone big, I couldn't get through. I can't blame them though because they made it big and they don't have time to help a little person. I would write Vikki Carr but I don't know her address, but I believe she would help me because she has a heart.

Ever since I was five years old, I've wanted to be a professional singer. I sang in the church choir from age five to age 17. I also sang in school choirs and school plays. I love singing and I'm very good at it. This is not just my opinion but everyone's opinion who has heard me sing.

How does a person get a chance when they don't have the money? I just need someone big to hear me so I can prove what I'm saying. It's hard for me to be married, work a secretarial job, and not be doing what I really want. It's like my husband and I have a big secret that would surprise the world but we don't know how to let them know. My husband wants me to be a singer because he knows that it means the world to me. I'm tired of singing in my house. I want to sing to the world. I have been praying for this dream to come true for so many years but no one hears, because no one cares.

I'm 23 and my husband is 25. I work for a car dealer and my husband is an insurance man. You can tell by that that we don't have much money. We've been married four years and we don't have any kids.

I just need someone to listen and someone to care. I want to be a singer so bad that I dream of it, pray for it and cry over it. I'm tired of going through life and always wanting to do this but never achieving it. Please advise me what someone can do when they know they can do it but they need someone to listen! Who do I go to? Who would listen to me? I'm no one! I do want to be someone!

Sincerely,

Karen J. Landoll




Sarasota, Fla.

Dear Karen,

Your letter has been a subtle irritant in the back of my mind for this past week, but not for the reasons you might suspect. 

Please try to understand when I say that your letter seems to me to be arrogant rather than, as Family Weekly labeled it, poignant.

It is not your fault that you have this warped image of the real world, that you have the belief that somehow the world owes you the chance to start at the top. The Cinderella myth has always been overworked by the flacks of all branches of the entertainment world, because it is far easier to make a Cinderella story interesting than a story of years of hard labor in the boonies. But young people like you, who have an unmeasured, untested talent, believe that if just given a chance, you can prove your right to become an instant Star.

It is not done this way. Rowan and Martin, Mike Douglas and Vikki Carr are not going to open magic doorways for you. I can tell you why. I am privileged to count Dan Rowan as a personal friend. He is a sensitive, decent, sympathetic man. Before he and Dick were "discovered," there were 18 years of gigs, club dates, saloons, squalid motels and small money.

I have a neighbor here in Florida named Joy Williams, whose first novel has just been published by Doubleday with much fanfare. It is called State of Grace. Behind this "discovery" of her talent is an eight-year period of writing, writing, writing, until, within the past couple of years, she acquired sufficient competence to sell shorter pieces to good magazines.

Do you, in your innocence, think that Dinah Shore, Peggy Lee, Eyde Gorme, Vikki Carr, Ella, Streisand, Billie Holliday, earned their right to "sing to the world" by writing plaintive little letters to top entertainers? When each one was "discovered," it was because each one had made herself visible by years of hard, tough work.

Let me tell you what other young women are doing, women who perhaps have a stronger motivation than you. They are singing. They are haunting the local radio and television stations, the lounges, fairs, benefits, clubs, churches, funeral parlors, grabbing at each and every chance to sing for the people, whether it be for a ten dollar bill, a box lunch or two lines in the paper. Each time they sing, they learn things that cannot be learned in 12 years of singing around the house. They learn more about the professional requirements of timing and phrasing, of fitting the voice to various kinds of mikes and speaker systems and dimensions of the halls, of enduring drunks and fools, and jackhammers in the street outside.

These young women do not seek the opinion of friends to learn if they are "good at singing." They learn that the best way, by being asked back, by being given fifteen dollars instead of ten, by being applauded by total strangers.

That's how it really happens, Karen. From no one to someone is never an overnight thing, and writing letters won't do it. I am astonished that you could live for 23 years and love singing, and not know this already. There are many valid biographies and autobiographies of singing stars available. Have you not been interested enough in how it is done to even read these stories? Right now, you have wasted four or five years in an empty yearning to be famous, in "praying for this dream to come true." Can you imagine the wry and amused bitterness in the minds of the girls who have been singing for the people in small places for these five years, trying to make their dream come true, too, when they read of your petulance at having your letters ignored?

I get poignant letters that begin, almost invariably, "I have always wanted to write." Me too, pal. My first two short story sales brought in a grand total of $70. They cost me one million words of manuscript, untold hundreds of hours, and over $100 in postage, mailing my stories out. I answer those poignant letters by saying in return, "If you always wanted to write, and wanted to badly enough, you would be writing, regardless of whether or not you are selling."

Karen, have you always wanted to sing with such aching need that you were willing to start at the bottom? Or do you just have this romantic image of yourself as a frustrated potential celebrity?

Get out and work for peanuts, or work for free. Or give up the notion.

Sincerely yours,
John D. MacDonald




Wednesday, March 29, 2017

"And The Lion Shall Lie Down With The Lamb"

                                                                   

So I was busy with a writing project last Saturday afternoon, pulling thoughts from my head, then pounding them into reality with the magic of wireless keyboard.  Heard the little metal "clink" as the mail man dropped my Saturday mail into the humble abode.

Took a break from my scribbling and went out and got my mail.  A large brown mailing envelope came with today's mail.  Given a heads up, I suspected that the package might contain the book that our token liberal, Jerry Carlin had promised me.  Peered foggily at the return address to confirm.  Without my reading specs, could only make out the large J in the first name and the large C. in  the second.  "Jimmy Carter?" (Now that is freudian, no?).  No, happily from Jerry Carlin.

So, I brought the package in, opened it and found a pristine copy of Meryl Markham's "West With The Night".  Opened the book and read a perfectly lovely and appropriate dedication from my benefactor.  ...."from your liberal friend".

Before I even read the first word I paused to reflect on Jerry's previous kindness.  A few years ago, Jerry, "the tomato whisperer" had sent me, at great expense, a lovely box of tomatoes and tomato jam...straight from his garden and his kitchen.  

I was touched then, am touched now..some years later.  And I thought about the rather bizarre friendship Jerry and I share.  He's been one of my blog readers for several years, even as he disagrees with many of my social and political philosophies.  Yet, he's still hanging around.  Oh, there was a time he became so angry by something I'd written that he took a long sabbatical from me....or at least failing to comment for awhile.

During that sabbatical I missed ole Jer.  I forgave him his "liberal-ness" years ago, attributing his forgiving philosophies to his artistic bent.  A forger of wondrous steel art, of garden art, perhaps gives a man acres of time to contemplate our human foibles, and forgive them more readily.

Yet, in the give and take of social and political debate, Jerry and I have found whole hectares of common ground...problems and solutions that we can agree on.  I suspect that, were Jerry and I to sit down over a tomato and mayo sammich and a cup of coffee, we could solve many of the world's problems.  Given the current political climate, that's a rare thing these days.  If the world could just go out collectively, and lay in green meadows, and sip orange juice and soak up some sunshine, I'm confident we could settle many of our differences.

For now, we'll just have to settle for peace in small doses...measured out with loving care by those who can find something redeemable in folks willing to cede a few points when they meet on common ground.  

I'm not sure, between Jerry and I, whose the lamb and whose the lion....I've seen a great deal of ferociousness from the liberal left these days, the right and left trading blows as fiercely as a Frazier-Ali fight.

But, in this blog's "token liberal",  I derive hope that the lion shall indeed lie down with the lamb someday.

Thank you for the book, Jerry.  I'm finding some wonderful poetry-prose between the covers of this book.  Maybe someday I'll fly "West Through The Night"...over Springfield, Oregon way...and we can sit down over tomato and mayo sandwiches...and solve the world's problems.