Thursday, March 31, 2011

"Money Bags"

When I was about five years old I met a man whom I would come to know, yet not know, for many years.

He was a "yard man", or maintenance man,  at the Jefferson elementary school,  across the street from where I lived. 

I met the yard man one summer morning as I walked along the outside border of the school fence, looking for pop bottles to redeem for pennies, which was my source for candy money.  I pulled an old beat up red wagon to haul my bottle booty and plodded along the fence line.  I guess, at that age, I thought the fence was to keep kids in, not keep people out....and I suppose back in those days of sweet innocence, that was true.

With eyes cast downward and focusing on potential treasure I didn't see the green-coveralled yard man as he came along behind me, hoe in hand, as he chopped down the summer weeds growing along the fence line. 

"What ya doing there, little guy?", the loud booming voice startling me and causing me to drop the wagon handle and spin around in fright.  The yard man, his face beet-red from his summer labors, had such a big smile and earnest manner, that my fear quickly faded.  "What cha doin?", he asked again.

"I'm collecting bottles to sell", I said.  I reached into my pocket and retrieved a clump of pennies and said "I already have this much from the bottles I found yesterday!".

The yard man laughed, looked at the bottles in my wagon, then laughed again.  "Why, you're quite the Money Bags!", he said and laughed again.  He made me feel good and his good cheer was infectious.  After that first morning of introduction,  my morning hunt for pop bottles that summer was always greeted with a boisterous "hello Money Bags" whenever the yard man was about.  Soon I began to wear my "Money Bags" title like a badge of honor;  first, because it was the first praise I remember receiving from someone outside the family and second, because I now possessed a "uniqueness", an identity, to hang on to.

Happily, the yard man and I ran into each other frequently over the coming years.  He grew older, as did I.  Because my family and I moved frequently around the town in those days, the moves coinciding with where we could afford to rent, my schools changed frequently also.  The yard man moved around to different schools as well; sometimes I thought he was following me because, eventually, I would encounter the yard man, hoe or rake in hand, and he'd remember me!  "Hello, Money Bags!", he would yell out across the school yard.

I figured he would eventually forget me, as I moved, or grew and changed in appearance.

Finally I entered high school and didn't see the yard man around any longer.  Football and girls and harvest dances crowded out the memories of my old friend, the yard man.

At last graduation day came.  On a warm summer night we seniors filed on the field of the football stadium and moved toward the folding chairs being placed for us in front of the speaker dais.  As I found my chair, I sat down, then glanced up where the last row of chairs was being set up by the school's maintenance crew.  Just then, I saw an old familiar face looking back at me.  His face was lined with age but the smile was the same as he looked back at me and quietly said "Congratulations, Moneybags". 

I was the first one in my large extended family to have graduated from high school.  I was very proud of the achievement.  Having the yard man's remembrance of me made it even more special.

Several years ago I returned to my hometown to visit my mother.  As I always do, I scanned the hometown newspaper to learn the latest developments in my little town.  As I read along my eyes stopped to rest upon a familiar name in the obituaries; my yard man had passed on.

Months later I contemplated the odds of my being home, and reading the local paper, in the very week that my yard man passed on.  It was as if one of my life's "cheerleaders" was there to bid me farewell, and good wishes, one last time.

May his kindness be remembered in heaven.  Somewhere, deep in my heart, is a little five-year old boy saying thank you, and remembering you fondly.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

"The Power of The Pen"

I've been writing for most of my adult life.  I've attempted and abandoned a couple of novels, written hundreds of poems and short stories, but I'm finding much so much enjoyment in sitting down every day and writing this blog.  It allows me to "vent" when I'm angry about a particular national issue, affords me the opportunity to praise excellence and heroism and it serves as a forum when I want to write something humorous.  The icing on the cake has been the reception I've received from my readers.  Some leave comments on my blog and some choose to email me separately at my email address.   With the exception of those who promote hate speech or drop the F-bomb (which I delete),  I enjoy receiving feedback from whatever source;  none of us are going to agree on everything and that's alright.  I wouldn't have it any other way...and I've learned alot from my readers too! 

Although your Internet address is blocked to me, my program does allow me to "see" my audience.  I can see where my page views are coming from and it is such a thrill to know folks all over the world are reading my blog.  The vast majority of my readers come from the U.S., with thousands of visits.  Thank you!  But I also have 34 readers from Malaysia, 31 from Hungary, 41 from Canada, 33 from Mexico, 26 from Saudi Arabia with smaller numbers from the Philippines, Japan, China, Russia, the United Kingdom, Nigeria, Morocco and 7 from Denmark!

This is pretty heady stuff for a guy that's not that "tech savvy!  It is such a thrill to be writing my blog and see that a past blog is being read by someone on the other side of the world!  This "participation" helps me to keep a world view; to remember that life is not centered, nor does it emanate from the U.S.  I'll often take off on flights of fancy to wiki "Nigeria" or "Denmark" or "Hungary" to learn a little of my reader's world. 

It's ironic that I spent twenty-two years of my life serving in the military where one's study and one's life is about the practice of war.  Yet, I am also an avid student of history and I know that the pen is truly mightier than the sword.  The power of ideas is limitless and the power of the pen, whether digital or otherwise, is a mighty thing and must be used responsibly.  I try to do that with my blog.  I try not to be too circumspect nor too pointy-headed, nor bore my reader with statistics he can ferret out for himself.  Rather, in my writings, I try to present an idea for the reader to consider and accept or reject as he or she chooses.  I can only hope that objective is being achieved.

I just want to thank everyone who drops by and visits.  I especially want to thank those who leave comments or have emailed me to agree or disagree with my blog.  Those comments are like that little night light in the hallway for without them I'd be stumbling about in the dark.

So thanks, America, thanks Hungary and Morocco and Nigeria and all you folks reading me from Denmark!


Sunday, March 27, 2011

"Arizona Diamondback Announcer Darren Sutton"

Happy Weekend folks!

I'd like to take a respite from criticizing our national political leaders and, being a curmudgeon at heart, opt instead to criticize our local Arizona Diamondbacks TV game broadcaster, Darren Sutton.

I would first like to say that I hold no ill will at all against Mr. Sutton.  He looks like the kind of guy that you'd like to sit down and have a beer with.  He also seems to have a kind heart and good intentions.  However, his broadcast of baseball games borders on horrible and often the irritation level is so great that I have to turn down the sound on my TV and watch in silence.

My first pet-peeve with Mr. Sutton is his manner of speaking; his tone and texture is professorial which is about as out of place at a baseball game as possible.  I can see him even now, furrowed brow in place, and commenting in the most "end-of-the-world" terms, the tragedy of player injury or team performance.  Hey, Darren!  It's a baseball game!  There are 162 of them during the regular season!  Don't take us, and especially, yourself so damn seriously.  Lighten up on the formal speech; run some contractions out there, say "don't" and not "do-not" and be one of the guys "we'd wanna talk baseball with". 

But, Mr. Sutton, your professorial tone is not your biggest sin; the thing that makes me shut that volume down in a heartbeat is when you begin yelling at the top of your voice over a home-run or a slightly better than normal fielding play.  Okay, Darren, if your team is in a play-off game at the end of the season, if your team just rallied from ten runs down and staged a miraculous comeback, feel free to get excited about it...but not to the point where the folks hiking in the bottom of the Grand Canyon can hear you.

Finally, when Derrick Hall, or one of the other minority Diamondback owners, chooses to grace you with their presence in the broadcast booth, please dial the "fawning" back to appropriate levels.  Ole Derrick ain't gonna fire you if ask a semi-tough question like "do you feel bad that you're still paying contract money to players who retired ten years ago?".

And Darren, please tell Mark Grace how much I admired him as a player and enjoy his "everyman" approach to "color-man" duties.  You would do well to emulate ole Mark, as he injects player insight and humor to his game comments.  However, Darren, I will buy you a beer or two if you would tell Mark to lay off two really tired sayings that have become grating to the rest of us:  tell him to retire the terms "gas" on a 88 mile per hour fastball (save that for anything coming in at 94mph and over)and "car" when describing play slowdown or interruption.

So, Darren, the Diamondbacks are something like 8-18 in spring training play and seem bound for another near 100 loss season.  That's okay.  We baseball fans will come up with our own resolution to poor performance; i.e. team re-building, bad luck, etc.  But Darren, don't try to inject artificial "excitement" into a mundane team performance by yelling at the top of your voice for a meaningless homer or a fielding play that players are paid a million bucks a year to complete.

Play Ball!

Saturday, March 26, 2011

"Why I Love The San Diego Padres"

I love the San Diego Padres because they are so much like the rest of us.

Most of us never go through an entire day without some sort of struggle.  We find time while stuck in traffic to learn that our socks don't match, a run in the hose, or discover a coffee stain on that white shirt from our commuter mug.  If we are lucky enough to still have a job, we arrive at work to encounter folks who are both better and worse than us at what we do.  We have to balance our budget by eating hamburger helper and we moan as that gas meter at the pump is spinning crazily and finally stops at a sum that would have bought you a set of tires twenty years ago!

But we're good, hard working people, with kind hearts and good intentions!

That's the Padres folks.  Year end and year out the Pads must compete with the glamorous Dodgers with their movie star fans and bottomless pocketbook, the liberal and effete San Francisco Giants who garner huge funding support from those Silicon Valley millionaires and a ultra-wealthy owner.  Hell, for a time, even Jerry Collangelo, with the Diamondbacks, was pumping out $125 million dollar payrolls to buy a World Series Championship! 

But our boys try hard!  We've been blessed with wise coaches and managers and, for a little while, a deep, deep pocketed owner who made the Big Mac a household name.  We've also been cursed by a "fly by night" Hollywood producer who, fueled by profits from Roseanne, bought the Padres, staged a fire sale and allowed said actress to butcher the national anthem on the green fields of baseball.  This nightmare was followed by an era of hope; new ownership, a beautiful new ballpark and at least one year when Tony didn't have to carry the team on his back.  Never mind that the mighty Yankees sent us home with our tail between our legs; I'll remember always that Tony Gwynn clout to right field!  Finally, the Pads are again recovering from the uncertainty of the team's future by the tragedy of divorce. 

The Padres struggle, just like us!

And, just like us, the Padres try mightily to make sure they field only "good guys", players of good character and good work ethic, who have a great love for the game.  Yeah, we're not perfect; we had a woman beater in our midst and didn't know it and, since we're human, we were tempted by the lure of a great bat; it just happened to belong to a nut job who Bud Black had to take down at first base to keep him from harming an ump.  For the most part though, we've tried hard to field guys who you wouldn't mind having a beer with.

Just as we cringe at the gas pump, the Pads cringe when my favorite Adrian rightly asks for $25 million a year.  Kinda like your kid, who you dearly love, wants that $300 dollar prom dress and you've got to tell her to settle for the $100 dollar knock-off at T.J. Maxx. 

So, I love the Padres.  How could I not?  The Padres are me!  I moved to Phoenix a few years ago; now I have to catch the Pads when they play the Diamondbacks, or during an occasional Saturday afternoon Fox game and listen often on satellite radio.  But I still have magic memories of the green fields of Petco and I visualize that scene as I listen to them on Satellite radio.

Yeah, I'll get to see Adrian bouncing them off the green monster on MLB network.  The Yanks and Sox are the big and frequent shows on that network.  I'll be rooting for Adrian to do well; he's just a too great a guy not to.  But I guess my heart will always belong to the Pads. 

If it's true that "Americans love an underdog" then Pads fans must be some pretty special Americans.  I know they are...I used to rub shoulders with them.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

"Know Your Enemy"

I believe my past writings have proven that I'm a fairly skeptical fellow.  Trust but verify, as Reagan used to say.  However, I have to admit, until a few months ago, the liberal left had me pretty much fooled about the motivation behind their beliefs.  I now know how very important it is for us to "know our enemy" as Sun Tsu said in The Art of War.  And folks, this is surely a war between the "givers" and the "takers".

I always thought liberals were simply "over-compassionate" about their support for over-generous social programs.  Sure, I knew that liberal politicians build their voter base from lawyers, teachers, unions and anyone who draws a welfare check.  However, I failed to see the depth of support among liberal voters for all liberal causes.  I frankly failed to put 2 plus 2 together.  However, after seeing that almost half of all Americans pay no income taxes I now realize that liberals do not care how much fraud, waste and abuse occurs in big federal programs, nor do they care how big the deficit rises in order to pay for them.  They don't pay so they don't care!

So now folks, when I see, what to me seem insane comments on message boards, and in the liberal media, about how big business is screwing everyone, how liberals argue the merit of literally every social program that comes down the pike, I now understand.  Liberals, other than rich movie and rock stars, have no "skin in the game". 

This presents the conditions which exist today.  There can be no civil discussion of the cost or merit of costly social programs because a liberal literally doesn't care about the cost or the consequence. 

For example, when a conservative presents the facts about a program's failure, a liberal will answer with a worn out liberal mantra.  For example, when the basic tenet is presented that "those who fail to earn their keep have little self pride and ride easily down the road to sloth", a liberal will say "he's been kept down".  Now, since minorities and the poor have been given preferential quotas for education and employment how have they been kept down?  Another example:  "Someone who has invested money and time and work in their personal home is more likely to take pride in that home".  Please note that when the Democrats built hundreds of public housing units, within a decade those housing units had become ghettos.  Democrats response "Minorities and the poor haven't had the same opportunities to buy a home".  To which I say, really?  When the Dodd-Frank liberal team managed oversight of  Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac these two agencies were forced to make home loans to tens of millions of minorities and the poor, who couldn't afford that home!  Result?  Tens of millions of foreclosures as these same "poor" folk walked away from their homes when it was no longer a "cash cow" which sprouted second mortgages to finance a lifestyle they couldn't afford!  Now we the taxpayer are propping up Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to the tune of $125,000,000,000 per quarter to avoid bankruptcy!

The liberal elite have particular strategies designed to marginalize anyone who disagrees with their socialist, big government philosophies.  Their power base are lawyers, public and private unions and social welfare recipients.   Here are examples of the "branding" of anyone who opposes free spending liberal programs:

NPR calls us" tea party racists"
Pelosi-"tea party is wild eyed extremists"
Reid: "tea party just a bunch of kooks"
Obama: "gun toting, flag waving, church going extremists, fearful of the new socialism

So, I urge you folks, don't be fooled like I was.  The liberal elite have very specific goals and the first of them is to stay in power.  The second is to take all you can before it's all gone!  Know your enemy folks.  Do not be deceived.   Be prepared to be branded "racist" if you oppose illegal immigration.  Be prepared to be called "selfish" if you are concerned about the fraud and waste in social programs. 

Stay strong...and keep an eye out for who's your friend and who's your enemy.  They are out there whether you like it or not.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

"The Illegal Invasion Is On Its Way To You!"

As I wrote in an earlier essay (Are Mexican Americans Loyal To America?) it seems assured now that those who come here illegally, and those who were granted a previous amnesty, have absolutely no interest in accepting our country's values, or integrating into American society.

The first cited reference below reports the experiences of a Phoenix, Arizona substitute teacher who has grown frustrated with the attitudes and behaviors of Hispanic students in classrooms throughout Glendale, Arizona.  Having copied their parent's ethics, hispanic children, when asked to behave and speak English in class, tell the teacher "we don't have to speak English, you people stole this land from us and we're taking it back".  They go on to offer further proof that they have absolutely no love for America and believe America owes them all the social services they are receiving.  The students also refused to say the Pledge of Allegiance as is customary before classes begin.

The second cited reference reports on Hispanic students on the University of Arizona campus who constructed a mock "border fence" on campus to illustrate their support for an Open Borders policy, and against America defending the integrity of her borders.

Please note that this ultra-liberal Gannet-owned Arizona Republic newspaper will not afford community comment on these two stories as they continue to practice censorship of the news and community comment.  Read my earlier essay on this subject:  "Arizona Republic Censors The News and Community Comment".

Yesterday, 14 illegal immigrants wearing United States Marine uniforms attempted to come through the border at San Diego.  Rather than being imprisoned they were released back to Mexico!  Standby for a terrorist attack folks!

The invasion is underway folks.  You who live in the North and East, who have not yet felt the impact of our nation under siege, need to wake up because your community is next.  If you turn an indifferent head and leave it up to the few states and peoples actually trying to turn back the invasion, our nation will surely lose this war against us.

I now have the substitute teachers letter.  It reads as follows:
The Letter
The letter from substitute teacher Tony Hill to State Sen. Russell Pearce, the legislator behind Arizona’s famous SB 1070, which gave police the power to determine the immigration status of anyone with whom they have lawful contact, is a damning indictment of the young Hispanic pupils in his class.
Wrote Hill:
During the Pledge of Allegiance I notice the vast majority of students refusing to stand and say the pledge. I asked the students why they refused to say the Pledge of Allegiance and they responded by saying, "we are Mexicans and Americans stole our land."
The teacher's instructions were for the students to read a few pages and answer the questions regarding Mark Twain in their history textbook and to finish their final drafts to Senator Steve Gallardo thanking him for his position on Illegal Immigration rights. Their teacher apparently had showed them a video with Senator Steve Gallardo and Lou Dobbs.
Most of the students came unprepared for class not possessing paper and pencil. I provided the students with paper and pencils only to have them wad-up the paper and throw it at each other along with their pencils.
The students' final drafts that I read were basically the same. Most of them stated they were in the country illegally, White Americans are racist, and that they came here for a better life. I asked the class if America adopted Mexico immigration laws would Americans still be consider racist?
That question they could not answer and called me a racist for asking it. I mentioned that my wife and children are Hispanic so how could I be racist? I asked the students to stop speaking Spanish in class because it was impolite to speak a language in front of people who may not speak that language. Their response was that Americans better learn Spanish and their customs because they are taking their land back from us.
When it came to completing the Mark Twain assignment only 10 students completed it out of all my classes. Most of the students refused to open the book, tore the pages out of the book, or threw the textbooks at each other. I thought are these the students we are trying to educate with taxpayers money. I have found that substitute teaching in these areas most of the Hispanic students do not want to be educated but rather [want to] be gang members and gangsters. They hate America and are determined to reclaim this area for Mexico. If we are able to remove the illegals out of our schools, the class sizes would be reduced and the students who wanted to learn would have a better chance to do so and become productive citizens.

Monday, March 21, 2011

"Here, Tip, Come Here Tip"

Happy Birthday daughter.

The title words were the first you uttered from your first grade reading primer.  Your mom and I were so thrilled and we laughed at the sweet innocence of your first reading.  After all, it was quite an accomplishment for a little girl who lived the first four years of her life in Vietnam and for whom English was a "second language". 

Because you would soon have two brothers and a sister, and being the oldest, you had to grow up and help far earlier than anyone would have wished for.  But you were magnificent and you've never stopped growing and spreading your wings in order to do more and more. 

When you were growing up you were always so self-conscious about your ability to achieve in school.  It was harder for you than the others but you always worked harder and that effort has made you what you are today; a bright, intelligent, ambitious and savvy young woman.  Your mom and I admire what you have achieved and we're proud of you. 

Now you have a daughter of your own and she too is ready to spread her wings and set off on a course which will take her where it may.  Stage one of motherhood has now been completed.  She will do as she will do but be assured she will carry with her the lessons you have taught and the example you have set.

This is your special day.  It marks the smallest of turnings, as you, and the world get another year older.  It's a day to contemplate where you are, where you've been, and where you wish to go.  But it is also a celebration of a life well-lived and earned.  So baby, go out and drink from the cup of joy, blow out one extra candle on the birthday cake and accept our wishes that all the days of your life are golden.

Dad and Mom

Sunday, March 20, 2011

"New Orleans vs Tokyo; The Sad Saga of The Victim Class"

As we watch the brave people in Japan struggle through the horrific triple tragedy of earthquake, tsunami and nuclear meltdown I am awed by their courage and perseverance and community spirit.  I see orderly lines of folks waiting to enter a store, I see folks helping each other to survive and I see grit and determination to get through these disasters.

Some pockets of that kind of spunk still exists in America.  Witness how Iowa farmers and small town residents will unite and begin a slow and painful clean up and recovery following a tornado.  See how the folks up in North Dakota teamed up to build sand bags in an effort to stave off frequent Red River flooding.

Now, contrast that with how a certain class of folks reacted to Hurricane Katrina.  Suspend your liberal pablum about Bush and Fema's response to the crisis; take your mind back to the days preceding the devastating storm.  I followed coverage of the storm for days before the hurricane hit.  What did I see?  I saw the "productive, working class folks loading up their cars and heading north, in compliance with state and federal warnings.  What did the folks in the 9th ward do?  They used the occasion to have "hurricane parties, to loot homes emptied during the evacuation and "wait" for Uncle Sugar to come rescue them.
I saw a huge storage yard with a thousand buses sitting unused by a black mayor who was also waiting for Uncle Sugar rather than commandeering those buses and forcing a 9th ward evacuation.

In the storm's aftermath I saw National Guard and Fema forces risking their lives to save many who were simply too stupid to leave early.  I saw folks given shelter in the football dome trash that facility and scream for better conditions after they, themselves, created the mess.

I then saw tens of thousands of those same folks run scams with the feds to grope for those fat recovery checks.  Years now after Katrina I still see tales of woe as thousands sit on their ass and wait for Brad Pitt and Angela Jolie to come build them a house.  Others fled to Houston and drove that city's crime statistics into the stratosphere.

So why is that in the American midwest and in Japan you don't see looting and the sad sitting on the backside while waiting for Uncle Sugar to come to their rescue?

The answer is simple:  the Japanese take great pride in their country and in themselves.  The people of the midwest, their characters forged by hard work and self-pride, know how to stand up for themselves.  A certain class of folks in New Orleans are the "victim" class, a product of the Great Society whereby government shall issue welfare checks, WIC credits, Section 8 housing, preferential quotas for education, housing and employment.  They are the product of Jessie "Heimie Town" Jackson, Reverend "Tax Cheat" Sharpton and good ole "Massive Tax Cheat" Charlie Rangel.

So folks, wait and watch.  The Japanese people will stand proud and rebuild, those mid-westerners will keep filling sand bags and the folks in the 9th ward will keep waiting for Uncle Sugar to ride to their rescue.

Sad.  Damned Sad.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

"Help! Are We Raising Savages?"

I just caught the viral You Tube video of Rebecca Black.  Saw her appearance on Good Morning America and they reported that 76% of viewers hate her!  She also received emails telling her to cut herself, kill herself!  My god!  Are we raising savages?  While I admit the song is not that great; more attuned to what some kid might make up on the spot and sing just for the joy of it, but the girl is cute and I thought the video was kind of fun to watch.  Certainly not so bad that justify viewers writing her and telling her to kill herself!

To be honest, I sometimes want to do myself in when I see rappers doing their thing (probably would if I understood a damn thing they are saying!)  For the same reason, I try to avoid the Grammy awards.

Anyway, here's the GMA feed /You tube presentation.

Now please tell me why this little girl is receiving hate mail!  I have a beautiful grandaughter just about this age.  She is supersweet and gentle and has a kind and sensitive heart.  I would hate to have her receive the kind of hate showered down on this little girl.

BTW, she can indeed carry a tune so she's ahead of at least half of those I see on MTV.

Sad,  Damn Sad.

Friday, March 18, 2011

"News and Notes"

1)  I watched '60 minutes' last night; they had an interesting story about the special TEP school in NYC.  The school, using only public school funding, pays their teachers $125,000 per year, by performance only.  No tenure.  All the kids are black and Hispanic from depressed neighborhoods.  No fancy buildings; the school teaches out of trailers.  Instead of vice principles and paying district administrators they allocate the money to teachers who perform. 

Even the liberal Katy Couric, who covered the story was impressed.  She brought out one fascinating fact about the failure of public schools today; the impossibility of getting rid of under performing teachers in the public school system.  She cited that, of 55,000 New York Public school teachers only 7 have been terminated in the past five years.  This, despite the failure of the schools to educate children.

2) The news out of Wisconsin today is that unions are rushing to negotiate with school districts before the new law barring them from collective bargaining goes into effect.  They want to lock in plush pay and benefits packages before the laws bar them from doing so.

3) Is the U.S. energy policy doomed?  Just weeks before the BP oil spill Obama had agreed to expand drilling.  Then BP makes drilling look really ugly and all new oil drilling comes to a screeching halt.  Then, just as Obama and Congress begin discussing building more nuclear plants, after a 30 year halt, the Japan disaster occurs.  As all of this is going on the Middle East erupts in chaos.  Maybe T. Boone Pickens will get his natural gas initiative looked at with more enthusiasm now.  We're the "Saudi Arabia" of natural gas, owning the largest reserves in the world.  Pickens wants to convert all the nation's trucking to natural gas and begin converting/manufacturing cars to run on natural gas as well. 

4) Iran seems to be taking a smirking enjoyment in promoting chaos in Iraq, Bahrain and eastern Saudi Arabia.  Perhaps those smirks will turn to frowns as Iranians witness the revolutionary fervor elsewhere in the region and decide they too are tired of iron-fisted leaders.  Stand by. 

5) Congress continues to dawdle on completing a 2011 budget.  The Dems controlled both houses last year and were supposed to have had a budget out by last October.  However, with the impending November elections they calculated that voters wouldn't be too pleased to see  a whopping $3.75 trillion dollar budget for 2011 with a $1.75 trillion dollar deficit.  It appears the only ones in Congress taking the deficit seriously are the small band of Tea Party candidates elected to congress in November.  The main stream Republican proposal to cut costs encompasses a mere $61 billion in cuts while the Dems offer a tiny $6 billion dollar proposal; this is chump change out of a total $3.75 trillion dollar budget!, no one is serious in Congress these days.

6) Citizens might want to read Dick Morris' "Revolt".  You can learn alot about how to take back your country.

7) In Phoenix this week we had our normal "hit and run" accidents that occur here daily; several occur every week here, the most heart-rending this week was the hit and run of a young boy who died.  Illegals drive without license or insurance here so they hit and maim and kill pedestrians here frequently, then run away because they'll be arrested, cited for driving without license and insurance, and be deported.  Hitting and running away solves their immediate problem.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

"Obama - Disconnected Child of Wonder"

Can Barack Obama possibly outdo his recent display of incompetence?  As Japan, the 3rd largest economy in the world, sinks under the weight of  tens of thousands of deaths from massive earthquakes, tsunamis and now threatened by a massive nuclear meltdown, President Obama offers what the Japanese are calling a "remote, rhetorical and cold" nod of sympathy. 

As the middle east is ablaze in turmoil, as Americans face $4.00 per gallon gas prices, Obama is climbing into Air Force One and burning up enough fuel to power an American city for quite awhile to jet off to Rio!

As the economy continues to crumble (the feds reported today the lowest number of housing starts in recorded history), as Congress wrestles with coming up with a budget that is now 6 months overdue, Obama
played golf over the weekend and is devoting part of his last few days before Rio to appear for a nine-minute segment on ESPN to discuss his NCAA bracket choices.

We saw this same "child President" react the same way to the BP oil spill.  It took him forever to get engaged and then he chose to throw a tantrum like a child and feign anger.
This President received his education through federal grants and favored racial quotas to attend the best schools in the country.  Like Clinton, he has never held a private sector job, has never felt the pain of poverty and has never developed a deep love for this country. 

This President, when confronted with personal pain, chose to dull that pain with pot and cocaine.

Given his life circumstances, how can we ever expect President Obama to understand all the pain unfurling across our nation and across the world. 

We don't expect the President to stand out on the front portico of the White House to wring his hands and sob into a handkerchief but for God sakes, try to have a little empathy of those suffering.  Refrain from appearances on ESPN hyping a damn basketball game and forego your trip to Rio and stay home to see these crisis through!

People in pain have long memories; the military has still never forgiven former President Clinton from not wanting to interrupt his golf game to authorize a rescue of our downed troops in Somalia (Black Hawk Down). 

Obama's failings are our failings.  We all saw a bright, cheerful, well-spoken "child" and crowned him "King"!  We must remedy this in November of 2012 if there is any hope for this nation...or for that matter, the world!

Addendum on 29 April 2012:  Now Obama is calling an illegal immigrant amnesty summit; who did he call for discussions?  All amnesty/open borders supporters.  Guess he didn't think he needed any input from the 70 percent of us that oppose illegal immigration.


Wednesday, March 16, 2011

"In Search of Excellence"

In an age when mediocre is "good enough",  I'm always impressed when a worker or a business goes "above and beyond" to achieve an excellent performance.  Despite the fact that every business school teaches that customer service is the key to achieving business success, so few learn that valuable lesson.

So, it is so refreshing when I encounter a moment of excellence in my dealings with the business world.

In an earlier blog I wrote of the outstanding customer service extended by my local Fry's Food Store.  Their product offerings are generous and they offer the food shopper true bargains and do so with some of the finest customer service you will see.

A few weeks ago I requested bids on painting my house.  I received several bids from fairly shady looking folks.  Finally, I received a bid from a well-established, family owned  painting company that was half the costs of the other bids.  The contract was simple, short and clearly defined.  After checking them out and finding they have outstanding records with the state board of contractors, and the Better Business Bureau, I contracted with them.  The paint was the highest quality paint and the job was done quickly, neatly and with great care for my property.  J. Ford and Sons will always have my future business.

I have bought all of my tires from Discount Tire for over 20 years.  When I shop at Discount Tire I know that I am getting a fair price and quick, efficient service and that they will stand behind their product.

Some franchise businesses demonstrate excellence only "by location".  When I first moved into my home in Phoenix I needed to buy many things to get my house up to par.  My first stop was the nearest Home Depot to my home.  I found I had to chase clerks down to get help, and rarely received any helpful advice.  Waiting lines were long while employees were chatting with each other.  I then chose to drive an additional ten miles to the HD in Surprise for better service.

I guess what frustrates me most is the "fast food business model".  Large chains like McDonald's or Burger King or KFC  and all other fast food chains, except In N Out Burger,  spend tens of millions of dollars to research the quality of their menu items, and many of these items are good!  However, those same fast food
chains will hire, at minimum wage,  a hormonally-challenged, often unmotivated teenager to prepare and serve your food!   This is not a knock on all teens; many are friendly and polite and hardworking; it's just that, after spending millions to develop a competitive menu, Fast Food chains hire the cheapest worker they can find and offer little in the way of incentives for the worker to promote the product!   The results are sloppy, ill-prepared food that was "modelled" by franchise headquarters to be tasty!  I have also found there is an inverse ratio of quality, based on a particular franchise's "lack of competition" in a specific location.  A McDonald's across from a Burger King will try a little harder to please while one without a nearby competitor will be horrible.  (Witness how bad those same franchises are when located off of a busy freeway!; they know they are going to get freeway business so there is little need to prepare tasty food in a quick and efficient manner.

My local KFC is a joint KFC-Taco Bell franchise; it is the only one in the area.  Expect long lines at the drive-thru, poorly prepared food and half the time they are out of what you ordered!  We also have a A&W-Long John Silver Franchise, alone in this area, and their food is absolutely inedible! 

Note:  A big improvement on the fast food business model would be to 1) ban than damn microwave oven and 2) pay your employees fairly (as is done at In N Out Burger), contribute to a teen scholarship fund, train them well and expect excellence!

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

"The 'Too Silent' Silent Majority"

In the 1970's, as students were burning bras and flags, and disrupting campuses across America, in opposition to the war in Vietnam, the Nixon administration began suggesting that these protesters were in the minority and that the "silent majority" was in favor of administration policies.  Without going into a very stale argument about the "rightness" of the war, the government did offer a valid point at that period in time.

We now face another "Silent Majority" of taxpayers who are struggling to make a living and balking at the fraud and abuse in government programs.  Those excesses capturing the most attention these days are the very visible effects of overly generous city, county, state and federal government salaries and benefits.  Every financial study shows public workers receive over twice as much in salary and benefits of the average private sector worker. 

If it is true that greed and self-interest is the prime motivator in all financial decisions, and that this same greed and self interest will overpower every other decision factor, then we can better understand why public workers in Wisconsin will form huge mobs and resort to any means to protect their largess.  Thus, we see 80,000 of them parading around the capitol while the taxpayer, too busy with making a living, must rely on a small band of patriots from the Tea Party to counter the excesses of the "taker" crowd. 

In the last few weeks the headlines and photos out of Madison, Wisconsin depict mobs of protesters breaking windows and overpowering security officers to invade that state's capitol to protest the state legislature's vote on ending collective bargaining for public workers.  Even as late as this weekend the news reports that as many as 80,000 teachers and other public workers were marching around the capitol and displaying their anger that they might be asked to contribute 12 percent to their extremely generous retirement fund and five percent to their medical benefits.  

The mob also hailed, as heroes, those 14 Democratic lawmakers who fled to Illinois because they didn't agree with majority rule vote inspired by last November's elections when the taxpayers of Wisconsin voted in a Republican majority.  Contrast that with the nasty business in our nation's capital last summer as Republicans fought tooth and nail to stop Obama care from becoming law.  The Democrats, with a huge majority (and primed with congressional ear-mark bribes) drew up a pork-laden health care bill, then rammed it down the people's throat, despite 70 percent of the American people being opposed to it!  It seems liberals only agree to abide by the democratic process when it is in their best interest to do so!

 In an on the spot interview one retired teacher bemoaned this brazen attack on his fellow teachers.  He related that he had worked as a teacher for twenty-four years and wished to protect his $75,000 dollar per year pension.  I found that particularly interesting;  I am a military retiree who served 22 years, spent five years on remote tours away from my family, to include three combat tours, and I receive $24,000 per year in pension and I pay premiums for my retiree health insurance.  I couldn't help but wonder how his service was worth three times more than mine.

Wisconsin has been the focus of attention lately as the battle between the taxpayer and runaway state employee costs has broken the financial back of 43 of the 50 states.  Ohio and Indiana are but two of the many states trying to get a grip on the problem.  California has all but surrendered to the public employee unions as they have decided that ever-higher taxes are the answer and Governor Brown owes his election victory to the unions and will not demand reform from them.

Now, the labor unions have vowed to make Wisconsin the battleground for union rights, with all the fraud and excess that goes with it.  National Union leaders, their purses bulging with billions of dollars in worker union dues, are vowing to fund recall elections for any Republican who voted against the union cause.  Unions are scared to death that other states will follow Wisconsin's lead and reform public union excesses.

If reform is to come it is now time for the "Silent Majority" to speak up!  Stop relying on a small band of Tea Party patriots to do your bidding!  Join them, or some other group advocating sensible budgets and let your voices be heard!  You can be damn sure in the coming weeks the Unions will be rowdy and loud!  The choice is clear; be silent...or be prepared to pay higher taxes to support the "privileged public worker!"

Monday, March 14, 2011

"A 2nd Civil War?"

Hello World,

Though I can't say for certain, I'd be willing to bet that, perhaps 20 years prior to our nation's Civil War, some predicted it.  History shows that, as early as the 1830's, the argument over slavery was heating up.  As more states entered the Union the argument got more intense.  We know that as early as a decade earlier, the "great compromiser" Speaker of the House, Henry Clay, engineered "The Great Compromise", trying to head off a civil war between the north and the south.

Today; we have the potential for a second Civil War, with its seeds not planted in the frustration of race relations, but with the current struggle between the "producers" and the "takers". 

Since the end of WWII the growth of wealth in America has been unprecedented.  While it is true that much of our economic success was "macro-oriented".  America was able to assume a dominant position in the post-war world through several means.  Our massive war production had set off an explosion in growth and innovative technology.  Factories, previously geared toward making weapons and war planes and war materials, were ready, post-war to translate that massive manufacturing capacity to peace time needs.  Accordingly, we established near monopolies in passenger plane and automobile production.  Factories making G.I. sleeping bags and uniforms converted to making clothing for the world.  America's farms, that fed the world's military forces, geared up to feed a broken world's people.

Spurred by this massive economic growth, the demand for leaders of industry expanded and these positions were quickly filled by the millions of G.I.'s who, with character forged in combat, and educated by the G.I. bill, assumed the reins of leadership.  Thus was born the American middle class, the first significant coming of a class of folks who could, through discipline learned from the great depression, and responsibility learned from defending our country, roll up their sleeves and carve out a piece of the American pie.

While earlier America consisted of the rich and the working poor, this new middle class would lead America to a level of wealth and luxury unheard of in world history.  This newly expanded personal wealth led to an explosion of economic activity; Televisions and modern appliances and new cars and family vacations quickly became the level of standards for the middle class. 

However, in less than two decades the government, that ever-present quotient in societal design, decided that the associated increase in tax revenues needed to be allocated to a vast array of social programs, some of them needed, most of them not.  There is much talk today of "unintended consequences".  That would certainly apply to President Lyndon Johnson's "Great Society Program" of the mid-sixties.  Presumably, Johnson, bearing massive guilt for instigating a war in Vietnam that was poorly planned and poorly executed, decided that his legacy must be The Great Society.  It has bankrupted America.

No one knows exactly how much The Great Society Programs have cost us.  The New York Times on April 16th, 1985, reported a study that estimated the costs into the tens of trillions of dollars.  This figure is too vague.  In looking at current federal liabilities in total (social security, medicare, etc) America has a total of $78 trillion dollars in unfunded liabilities.  But this does not include all of the annual outlays expended for these programs over the 45 years of program existence.   The level of orgasmic spending to "buy the vote" of America's "takers" is beyond calculation and the level of fraud and abuse in these programs will never be known.   We do know that throughout the years there has been massive fraud and abuse and government at all levels has been negligent in reforming the system.

For example, food stamps became a currency of trade in New York, Chicago, Detroit and Los Angeles.  Thousands of newspaper reports of food stamps for drugs have documented the abuse.  In the 60's Johnson built thousands of public housing projects that today sit in ruin or serve as graffiti-worn headquarters for urban gangs and were previously dubbed as war-zones during the racial riots of the 60's and 70's. 

The Great Society Programs have since produced three generations of perennial "victims"; those who refuse to work, and believe government (read the taxpayer) owes them a living.  As the GS program evolved it became increasingly known among welfare recipients that having more kids produced a bigger welfare and WIC check, and Medicaid paid for both medical and dental bills so nary a "taker" has been concerned about co-pays, the staggering costs of drug use, poor dietary habits, because someone else is footing the bill..  More recently, the government has made it less "embarrassing" to be on the government take by issuing debit cards for the chronic welfare recipient. (At this moment that state of California is trying to deal with welfare recipients using their debit cards in gaming casinos)

The IRS, through Congressional tax legislation, has also become an avenue of largess for the unproductive.  Large family child exemptions and child tax credits have made it possible for more than half of our citizens to pay no income tax whatsoever.  Even illegal aliens, by filing a W7, INIT, receive child tax credits from the federal treasury.  Having "no skin in the game"  the "taking half" of America no longer cares how federal money is spent or how big the deficit has become.  In fact, it is this group of people who represent the largest voting block for big-spending politicians.  It is also why the Democrats refuse to do anything about illegal immigration; they know this huge group of people represent a significant vote block who would support Democratic candidates. 

Alas, the shrinking middle class is no longer able to fund all of these generous benefits.  The exporting of American jobs has diminished the middle class to a level insufficient to support the unproductive.  Many workers who previously tried to make a living honestly have fled to the "takers" and hopped on the government gravy train.

And now, after three decades of big-spending government, the bill has become due and there's no money in the till.  Politicians, desperate to retain the seats of power, continue to pay the "benefit ransom" to retain political support.  To do so, our federal government has resorted to borrowing from Japan and China and to print money to support the "addict class".

So now, squeezed from the top by the ultra rich and squeezed from the bottom by over 150 million "takers", the middle class has begun to revolt.  The birth of the Tea Party is the first manifestation of that revolt.  It's almost funny that the politicians look warily at those militia boys up in Idaho when they should be looking at Joe The Plumber.  As working Americans struggle just to survive we are now paying closer attention to those employment racial and education quotas that are long ago obsolete.  As the hard workers shop generic in the grocery store, and seeing WIC and Welfare recipients living it up on their dime, there is resentment.  As public and private unions, supported by Democrats, score ever larger packages of pay and benefits, on the taxpayer dime, frustration is mounting.  As working Americans pay huge health care premiums and see welfare recipients paying nothing for their medical bills there is frustration.  The abuse is widespread and American workers have said "enough"

Will Americans take to the streets as in the Middle East and storm the seats of government?  Will Americans vote with their wallet and stage a massive refusal to pay their taxes some April?  Will the inequity between the "takers" and the "givers" finally result in violence?  Well, it does sound bizarre doesn't it?  Stranger things have happened folks. 

I don't have a crystal ball and can't predict what is going to happen.  I only know that, when the Republicans propose a $61 billion deficit reduction package and the Democrats propose a $4 billion dollar reduction..against a massive $3.75 TRILLION dollar federal budget, that games are being played folks.  The CBO is estimating that interest on the national debt will constitute 43 percent of our total tax revenue by 2015, necessitating massive printing of greenbacks, coupled with massive borrowing from China, to finance all the gravy programs.

Maybe there will be a second Civil War and maybe not, but there's a growing sense of anger from those who are paying the bills.  God willing, we'll settle it at the ballot box, but even that's in doubt.  The "taker" side, public and private unions, illegals, welfare recipients and university elites form a very large coalition with alot to lose.   The only way the taxpayer could succeed would be to form a coalition much larger than the current Tea Party and run the liberals, and even the "good ole boy" school of Republicans who haven't gotten the message, out of town. 

But then again, maybe China will just call their notes and demand repayment on their loans to us and we'll all be finished.  That would be the ultimate "foreclosure".


Thursday, March 10, 2011

"The Elegance of Word"

Thank God that the creator's essence exists in all of us.  While the better of our spirits should focus outwards toward others it is good to know that we are all, in one way or another, unique.  Unique in our DNA and unique in our talents.  When one can muster an all encompassing will to master and exploit these talents you have magic!   Alas, most us are destined to devote our energies toward getting through life's struggles, our souls abraded by the harsh winds of reality. 

So we must pursue beauty produced by those whose talents were so magnificent and their will so prevailing that, to "not"  pursue their extreme talents would have been absurd.  We of the "working" crowd are grateful.
We find beauty and grace and intellectual stimulation in the works of Dali and Van Gogh and Matisse and Picasso.  We find our souls transpired by the beauty of music.  I love both art and music but the power of the written word is equally compelling.  The best writers say what we would like to say but can't...and they do it as concisely and as powerfully as we could possibly imagine.  Their words echo in our minds long after the reading. 

Just recently I came across Elizabeth Barrett Browning's "How Do I Love Thee?"   Has there ever been a better description and expression of love than Browning evokes in 14 brief lines?  I share with you now:

How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.
I love thee to the depth and breadth and height
My soul can reach, when feeling out of sight
For the ends of Being and ideal Grace.
I love thee to the level of everyday's
Most quiet need, by sun and candlelight.
I love thee freely, as men strive for Right;
I love thee purely, as they turn from Praise.
I love thee with the passion put to use
In my old griefs, and with my childhood's faith.
I love thee with a love I seemed to lose
With my lost saints,--I love thee with the breath,
Smiles, tears, of all my life!--and, if God choose,
I shall but love thee better after death.

Pure Elegance!

And who among us has never struggled with career choice, or life choice, and contemplated that choice for decades later.  Could we "simple joes" have said it any better than Robert Frost in "The Road Not Taken?"

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that, the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I marked the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way
I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I,
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference. 

Elegance...and elegance may also come in small packages as well....note the four lines of elegance by Edna St. Vincent Millay:

My candle burns at both ends
It will not last the night
But ah, my foes, and oh, my friends --
It gives a lovely light!

Elegance...who would not enjoy that brief eulogy?

And so, my friends, plug in the coffee pot, boiled that egg, slip on the attire specific to your day, don't forget the grocery list and the kid's soccer schedule....and delight in knowing, that, as you desire, you may fling off the chains of "normalcy" and dwell in the elegance of incandescent spirits.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

"Buying Fast Food With Food Stamps!"

Good Day, America,

I was just browsing through the federal government site that provides info on where our tax dollars are going.  When I came across the dollar figure on the food stamp program I came close to falling out of my chair.  This info led me to the USDA site where I learned that a study completed in 2010 shows the number of folks on food stamps is now a staggering 36.5 million people!  And why wouldn't they?  The federal government now offers a very generous and efficient means to allocate food stamp money.  They simply issue the food stamp recipient a debit card so that no one need feel diminished by accepting free government largess.

Now, I had already been aware that California has had thousands of food stamp recipients using their debit card at Indian Gaming casinos.  But I have just now learned that food stamp recipients can now just slide their card through the card machine and pony up to a Big Mac meal or a Jumbo Jack, all on the taxpayer's dime!  Are you kidding me?

As usual, California is leading the way with the widest implementation of this. 

Well, let's just hope those little guys are reading the calorie count flyers that the Obama/Reid/Pelosi regime put in place.  Now that the National Center for Disease Control has labelled 35 percent of our children as obese and diabetic, these folks are going to need that free Obamacare that we're paying for also.

And thank goodness for those WIC credit cards, huh?  Looks like we've got some "new immigrants" enjoying a nutritious meal!

So, as working taxpayers have had to cut out those fast food visits for their own kids, perhaps they can vicariously enjoy the notion that they are paying for someone else's children to partake.

Will this madness ever end?

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

"Singing A Different Tune"

Kindle Wireless Reading Device, Wi-Fi, Graphite, 6" Display with New E Ink Pearl Technology

How many of us have watched the beginning of a baseball or football game or , God forbid, the Superbowl, and saw and heard our national anthem absolutely butchered by singers, both amateur and professional.  The latest catastrophe was the Christine Aguillera mishap as she seemed more focused on adding 16 intonations for every syllable to affect a "soulful" rendition and ended up blowing the lyrics.  It was embarrassing to watch.

These butcheries of our anthem are not intentional.  To begin with, the Star Spangled Banner is very, very difficult to sing.   The performer must march through the lyrics while changing keys in mid-performance and the song is awkward and, musically, lacks a smoothness and evenness that is more pleasing to the ear.

Now, don't get me wrong.  The Star Spangled Banner can be stirring when played by a good marching band or by an orchestra but, lyrically and musically, it is very hard to sing.

So why, I ask do we have to have the Star Spangled Banner as our national anthem.  If one's response is that "it's tradition", I would say, well...not a very long tradition.  The SSB didn't officially become our national anthem until 1931! 

So what are the alternatives?  Well, we have a perfectly lovely "America, America" but my choice would be "America The Beautiful" by Katherine Bates.  The music is lush and the words make you just fall in love with America all over again.  An American travelling this beautiful country can attest to the appropriateness of the song's lovely descriptive phrases.  Too, in an age when the world is getting smaller, and when America is learning to be more careful of "foreign adventure", America The Beautiful speaks of our love for the most special and unique place on earth.  There's a stirring tribute to our patriots who gave their lives to preserve our land and who cannot hear America The Beautiful and not see those "purple mountain's majesty above a fruited plain"! 

So, I would love to see us confine the Star Spangled Banner to the 4th of July celebrations and to the parade field, right along those stirring John Phillip Sousa marches.  I am not the first and only one to propose this, the argument over our anthem has been going on for 80 years since Congress officially selected the SSB as our national anthem.  You may not agree but this old military retiree loves the SSB but would vote for America The Beautiful as our national anthem. 

Even if you disagree with me, just read the lyrics to America The Beautiful and tell me they are not lovely and so descriptive of this beautiful country!

O beautiful for spacious skies,
For amber waves of grain,
For purple mountain majesties
Above the fruited plain!
America! America!
God shed his grace on thee
And crown thy good with brotherhood
From sea to shining sea!

O beautiful for pilgrim feet
Whose stern impassioned stress
A thoroughfare of freedom beat
Across the wilderness!
America! America!
God mend thine every flaw,
Confirm thy soul in self-control,
Thy liberty in law!

O beautiful for heroes proved
In liberating strife.
Who more than self their country loved
And mercy more than life!
America! America!
May God thy gold refine
Till all success be nobleness
And every gain divine!

O beautiful for patriot dream
That sees beyond the years
Thine alabaster cities gleam
Undimmed by human tears!
America! America!
God shed his grace on thee
And crown thy good with brotherhood
From sea to shining sea!

NOTE:  I would love for you to leave your comments here.  Go to the comments block and tell me your choice for our national anthem!

Monday, March 7, 2011

"Arizona Republic Censors The News; Hides Behind 1st Amendment!"

Good morning world,

Both the American political right and political left complain about media bias.  When they do, most of the time it is the television media to which they refer.  Liberals hate Fox news and conservatives detest the excessive liberal bent on MSNBC. 

With the exception of the New York Times and Washington Post we rarely see the bias so clearly in the print media.  Oh, one can guess, based on the preponderance of either conservative or liberal political columnists which way the newspaper's editorial stance is leaning. 

Thanks to the Internet I have read a sizable number of big city newspapers and these readings have given me some insight as to the quality of the newspaper.  However, I know of only one newspaper that, in my opinion,  actually censors the news!  That newspaper is the major newspaper in Phoenix, Arizona.

Owned by the liberal Gannett Corporation, parent of the USA Today paper, the Arizona Republic's editorial board has made the legalization of illegal immigrants their primary cause to champion.  Since I moved to Phoenix in 2004 I have seen an unrelenting campaign by the Arizona Republic to present the illegal immigrant in the most positive light possible.  The newspaper even refuses to acknowledge that they are here illegally and use the term "undocumented immigrant" in their news articles.  Several times a year the Republic will trot out a series of human interest stories about the terrible plight of the illegal immigrant.  They will report that illegal immigrants are instilled with fear of being caught, of their fear of Sheriff Joe Arpao (who conducts frequent illegal immigration sweeps), of the illegal's crippling poverty and try mightily to overlook the crippling effects that illegals have on our schools, our hospitals, our explosive social service costs and the soaring crime rates in Arizona.

Several of the Republic's articles have even gone as far as "justifying by explaining" why illegals must produce phony documents and  steal the ID of American citizens in order to secure employment.

When Hispanics (including illegals, bearing the flags of Mexico) protested at the state capitol against SB 1070, the illegal immigrant law, the Republic ran banner headlines and covered the protest in exhausting detail.  When, a few weeks later, the Tea Party staged a similar protest in support of the law it got scant coverage. 

However, far more damaging has been the Republic's actual censorship of the news, lest the facts of a crime report threaten the validity of their own editorial position.

An objective read of the Arizona Republic over even a short period of time clearly shows that the Republic will report all the facts of a crime report if the criminal suspect is black or white.  However, in the majority of instances where the criminal is Hispanic, the reporter will leave out that vital fact, neither mentioning name or ethnic description, nor whether the criminal is an illegal alien, even when the criminal is on the loose and poses a threat to the public!  Oh, when the crime is heinous enough, the reporter will identify the arrested suspect by name, and in a few cases, they will report citizenship, but the vast majority of times the reporter will intentionally omit the name and write that information about the suspects is unknown at this time.  Never mind that all of the major TV networks are reporting that the criminal was Hispanic and, in many instances, an illegal immigrant.

Note:  I challenge you to read the online version of the Arizona Republic over a period of 30 days, analyze it objectively; see how many times a crime report fails to mention the hispanic criminal, see how many times the paper withholds the "comments" section to prevent the community from "venting" their frustrations at the many instances of illegal crime in all it's forms; ID theft, hit and run drivers, drive-by shootings, car and property thefts, etc.  You'll be amazed that a paper could get by with such censorship of both the news and community comment!

I don't frankly know the manner of the paper's execution of this censorship; either they allow the paper's reporters to edit out key facts, or whether the local reporter is instructed to omit facts.  It doesnt' matter.  This censorship is ongoing with the clear blessing of the paper's management.

Perhaps, this goes on elsewhere, but here in Arizona, where the majority of her state's citizens are conservative, believe in protecting our borders, fed up with the staggering crime and social  costs of illegals, the starkness of this paper's bias, and censorship, is astounding!

The Arizona Republic's online newspaper is even more galling; they will report on a controversial crime or human interest story, then many times withhold from the article's format, the traditional "comments" section because the preponderance of comment will be in opposition to their open borders/amnesty editorial goals.  Hell, even their resident liberal cartoonist can be found pounding other commenters into the ground on critical comments made regarding his latest cartoon! 

I was a daily reader of the newspaper my entire life.  But, after seeing how the Republic tries to manage the content of the news, how they actually practice censorship as it suits them, I had to cancel my print subscription several years ago.  I have explained my concerns to the newspaper in several letters to the editors as well as in written correspondence, to no avail.  I was once a frequent commenter my self on their online newspaper but was subsequently "barred" from their site, though I had neither promoted hate speech nor used profanity; I simply presented facts that were in opposition to their editorial position on illegal immigration.

So what we have is an American newspaper taking an active role in censoring the news and cloaking itself for protection under it's 1st Amendment rights!  And all in the name of championing their chief editorial goal; legalizing illegals!   In doing so, this paper is setting a dangerous precedent.  A free and responsible press is vital to a democratic republic.  The Arizona Republic's abuse of these rights threatens to endanger the legitimacy of newspapers, and 1st Amendment rights everywhere.

So, until the editorial board of the Arizona Republic decides to reform, when I see a late-breaking story, I'll continue to discount their reports and turn to the local TV station to get the accurate reports.

Sad, Damned Sad.

Note:  One of the lead stories in today's (Monday morning) lead off stories is reporting on illegals (they refer to them as "residents without authorization") in custody.  Please note:  no access to the "community comments" for this article!  In doing so they are able to censor public community comment.  What happened to OUR first amendment rights?


Here's still another newspaper in the Gannet Newspaper Chain that is supporting illegal immigrants.  Gannett seems to have a national campaign going to promote amnesty and illegal immigration:

Sunday, March 6, 2011

"Hello Nigeria! What's happening Morocco!"

Good morning world!

I'm very new to blogging, find that it encourages discipline in my writing and I enjoy the opportunity to express my personal views without the artificial filters and confining nature of traditional message boards. 

Being older, I am also fascinated with the magic of the Internet.  Unlike younger folks, the Internet has not been around for my entire life so I am perhaps more appreciative of the internet's capability to communicate with people all over the world.

Google is my blog host and one of the programming features is the ability for me to see the geographic area my blog visitors are coming from.  So, I look with wonder at the disparate places my visitors come from.  While the vast majority of my visitors are from the U.S. I do have visitors from all over.  Just this past week my blog has been read somewhere in Russian, China, Nigeria, Belarus (Belarus?), Canada, Vietnam, Saudi Arabia, Morocco, the United Kingdom, Mexico (oh, they must love me down there!) and Germany.

I appear to have regular visitors from Raleigh, Atlanta, Little Rock, Phoenix, Denver, Philadelphia, Los Angeles and San Diego.  I also appear to have three regulars from Vietnam, two from Canada and two from Mexico.

While I don't know much about my regular blog visitors I'm always curious about what they may be thinking about what I write about.  Too few of you leave comments so it is impossible to know.  I do hope, though, that whether my readers agree with me or not, that my blog stimulates their own thinking about my subject for the day.

Our greatest challenge today, whether one lives in Raleigh or Nigeria, is whether or not we, as citizens of the world, will be engaged in how world events are unfolding.  Most of us will be more concerned with what is happening to us personally.  That is only natural.  But I hope my writing will inspire readers to think in larger terms; to work to understand the impact that world events will have on their own lives and in their own community.

My blog allows me to vent my frustrations and voice my concerns.  But I hope it serves a larger purpose.  I hope it encourages others to think for themselves...and think of something larger than themselves.

So, good morning Los Angeles and San Diego, good afternoon London, and goodnight Vietnam!

Saturday, March 5, 2011

"And The Envelope Please"

In these fifinancially difficult times I hear and read dozens of stories about how difficult it is for families just to get by.  The economy remains flat as families attempt to dig out of debt, restore their personal credit ratings, and find a job that pays a "living wage".  The government, reluctant to label it a "Depression", call these times "The Great Recession". 

As difficult as these times are, I hardly think one can even compare the present to the decade-long Great Depression of the 1930's.  Back then millions of folks were frequenting curb side soup stops and had nothing.  Further, most Americans suffered, not from their own misguided financial decisions, but from the effects of a world-wide recession.  Contrast that with today:  Millions of folks who are willing to look in a mirror will find much of the fault lies with their own actions.  I speak of those who bought more home than they could afford and made spending decisions on the false hope that home values would continue to explode.  Far too many took out second mortgages to finance new furniture and swimming pools and assessed their job security as totally assured.

Those in "poverty" today somehow seem to be able to own large screen televisions, IPODs and IPADs and cell phones and late model cars.  Bolstered by government handouts and the most generous extended unemployment payments in our history, many folks are able to get by, surely not in as much comfort as desired but getting by none the less.

When I was a child our family's "great recession" began when my father walked out the door in the mid 1950's.    My unskilled mother took waitress jobs for a dollar per hour, paid the babysitter .50 cents per hour and still managed to keep us together.  Our financial situation at times were so tenuous that, at one time, all we had left in house was a bag of flour.  We always called that time our "water biscuit and water gravy" period.  We finally pulled out of the worst of it but our finances were always tenuous.  We were always one small pay check away from being broke and homeless.

I think what got us through was my mom's steely determination to never owe a debt to anyone.  I can still remember her sitting at the kitchen table with a list of bills and a  box of envelopes.  As she got paid she would sit down and count out dollars and halves and quarters and deposit money in each envelope, one for rent, one for electricity, one for the gas bill, etc. 

I believe alot of good folk, too proud to hitch up to the government tit,  are right now doing what my mom did.  They are scared of being homeless, scared of losing even their low-paying job and fearful of the future.  As bad as this is, I believe these experiences will prove to be valuable in the future.  As it becomes increasingly clear that both state and federal government are on the brink of bankruptcy, and can no longer afford all of these generous social programs, it will be good if folks can learn to stand on their own.

My mom never made more than minimum wage and she never won a lottery prize and she had no sugar daddy or even a generous "Uncle Sam"...but she never owed a dime to anyone and, when the rent came due, she always had that envelope ready.

Friday, March 4, 2011

"Dear Daughter"

Dear Daughter,
Today is your birthday.  As with all my children, I can still remember what I was doing on the day you were born.  I was stationed in Korea, serving as a police instructor.  I had just finished teaching a class when I received telephone and telegraph notification of your birth.

I sat down on my break and wrote you a letter.  You've have told me that you still have it.  I cannot remember everything I said in that letter.  I do remember telling you that I loved you and cherished you, and spoke somewhat of what the world was like at your birth.

You are now seven years older than I was when I wrote that letter.  You have grown from sandy-haired, quick to learn,  toddler to a grown woman with husband and children of your own.  Your evolution has been pleasing to see and, for a parent, that's reward enough.

When I now think of you, daughter, it is the fine and graceful adult I see, but so much more.  I can see faint but glorious similar physical traits of my mother, and since she's gone, how magical it is to have a little of my mother left for me to love.  I see a woman who loves her children very much and devotes much of herself to their happiness.  I see a woman whose talents are impressive; intelligence, good sense of humor, an intuitive nature, artistic and blessed with a talent for writing (which pleases me greatly) and a life-long curiosity for learning new things.

So, it is the you of today I see.  But when I wish to,  I can gather images of the past into a bouquet of memories and see a little girl running on a Hawaiian beach, or a sandy-haired sun-baked toddler, in bright sun dress, never a half step away from mommy, or plum-lipped little girl plodding to school through snow banks in North Dakota, or giving me goose bumps as you performed in a school talent show. 

I hope this day is special, daughter.  You deserve it.  The world has changed so much since the day you were born and we have all gotten older.  If ages were seasons, you'd be in the "summer" of your life now, the changing winds of "spring" having ebbed.  Now marks the time for spreading your wings and basking in the warmth of the sun.  You have the golden days to glory in before the calmness and peace that is Autumn arrives.

Happy Birthday daughter,

Love, Dad  We give our children all we have....and leave the rest to God.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

"Talking Heads And Media Bias"

In the 1950's the setting for a television newscast consisted of a few maps and a clock on the back wall.  There were no satellite feeds from Rome, or Paris or Baghdad because there were no satellites.  If the anchorman wished to show us visuals of a news event his staff would have to crank up the old 16mm projector or display an enlarged photo.  There were no cable news stations because there was no cable.  We got our news from the Big Three; CBS, NBC and ABC.

Today, we have computer enhanced news sets, satellite feeds, mobile phone feeds, twitters, blogs,  Internet media support and we have a plethora of cable news stations to augment, and segment, the news audience of the Big Three.

So, why do media historians consider the 1950's as the golden age of television news?

Well, to begin with, the TV news anchors in the 50's were seasoned journalists who had learned the value of integrity in the presentation of the news.  Over at CBS the great Edward R. Murrow was holding down the throne, augmented by Walter Cronkite and Eric Sevareid, NBC had Chet Huntley and David Brinkley.  ABC, at that time, was a floundering 3rd network that tried a number of network anchors but couldn't compete with the outstanding news crews at CBS and NBC.  It would be another two decades before ABC's Sports Chief, Roone Arledge, would take over the network and would turn ABC news into a powerhouse of news technology.

With today's technology you would think the news today would be far superior to the old newscasters.  Not so.  Until the 1980's, and the explosion of cable news, a viewer would have no clue as to the political leanings of his favorite news anchor.  Today,we are faced with the "constant caterwauling" of opinion interspersed with our news.  While Brian Williams and Diane Sawyer seemed to present the news with a neutral bent, Katy Couric just spews forth with liberal drivel that gags me.  The cable news stations are even worse.  While CNN has tried to steer the middle ground on news objectivity they waver and weave and very, very often fail to cover their liberal bias.

Worse yet are the extremes that exist at Fox News and MSNBC.  Fox News has a real nut job (read Joe McCarthy) in Glen Beck,  who sees conspiracy at every turn, and Fox has far too many of their news journalists joining in the "analyst" role which clouds our perception of the validity of their news presentations.  But it is MSNBC which really takes the cake.  Rachel Maddow, the now defunct Keith Olberman and a slew of old liberal political hacks makes MSNBC the bastion of extreme liberalism which destroys the reputation of that network.  While Fox News will trot out a host of liberal analysts to allow a "fair and balanced" presentation, MSNBC assails you with liberal propaganda and rarely allows a conservative viewpoint to be presented.

I have always gauged the efficiency and objectivity of a newsman by whether or not I can tell his political leanings.  Up until twenty years ago it was entirely possible to watch the news and believe you were getting the straight scoop.  Today I must "stake out a neutral position" and ferret out the "facts" for myself.  I'll watch a little of Fox, a little NBC, a little ABC, some CNN and read reliable Internet news sources.

How I miss old Walter Cronkites' "And That's The Way It Is" upon signing off from the CBS Evening News. Walt learned from Murrow that the facts will speak for themselves and need no spin in their presentation.