Thursday, June 30, 2011

"A Billion Here, A Billion There"

Senator Tom Coburn is a U.S. Senator from Oklahoma.  We need 99 more just like him.  As a Medical Doctor he's one of the Senators who met with President Obama and warned him that Obamacare would cripple small business and choke off economic recovery.   He's a fiscal conservative who represented Congress on Obama's special Deficit Reduction Committee.  This committee came up with a reasonable plan to bring the deficit down.  Congress ignores it. 

Senator Coburn doesn't just focus on the "big enchilada" programs.  He recognizes that all those ear marks add up to big money.  He's been trying to wake all of you up and spur you to action, such as writing your Congressmen and Senators and demanding that the "nonsense" spending be stopped.  Every year he combs through the budget and highlights many of the really silly spending markers.  Perhaps you'll read them and finally get off your ass and demand this silliness be stopped.  Here's Senator Colburn's latest report:
(WASHINGTON, D.C.) – U.S. Senator Tom Coburn, M.D. (R-OK) today released a new oversight report, “Wastebook 2010” that highlights some of the most egregious examples of government waste in 2010.
“As 2010 ends, millions of Americans are still struggling to find work. Even those lucky enough to have jobs have had to tighten their belts. Yet, Congress continues to find new and extravagant ways to waste tax dollars. In today’s economy, we can’t afford to spend nearly $2 million to showcase neon signs no longer in use at Las Vegas Casinos, nor can Congress and federal agencies afford to spend nearly $1 billion a year on unnecessary printing costs,” Dr. Coburn said.
“Our national debt is the greatest threat to our national security according to our own military leaders,” Dr. Coburn added. “Well-intentioned people across the political spectrum will argue about the best way to get us back on track. But we can all agree that cutting wasteful and low priority spending from the budget is not only sensible, but essential.”
“I hope this report will give taxpayers and concerned citizens the information they need to hold Washington accountable. As dysfunctional as our politics can seem, our system still works when ordinary citizens get informed and engaged,” Dr. Coburn said.
Examples of wasteful spending highlighted in “Wastebook 2010” include:
• The city of Las Vegas has received a $5.2 million federal grant to build the Neon Boneyard Park and Museum, including $1.8 million in 2010. For over the last decade, Museum supporters have gathered and displayed over 150 old Las Vegas neon signs, such as the Golden Nugget and Silver Slipper casinos.
• The National Science Foundation provided more than to $200,000 to study of why political candidates make vague statements.
• The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) spends $175 million every year to maintain hundreds of buildings it does not use, including a pink, octagonal monkey house in Dayton, Ohio.
• Medicare paid out over $35 million to a vast network of 118 “phantom” medical clinics, allegedly established by members of a criminal gang to submit phony reimbursement claims.
• The Government Printing Office (GPO) is using a “video game space mouse” (and nearly $60,000 in taxpayer funds) to teach children the history of printing.
• In July, nearly half a million taxpayer dollars went to the XVIII International AIDS Conference in Vienna, where wine tasting and castle tours were among the events planned for the conference participants.
• The Internal Revenue Service paid out $112 million in undeserved tax refunds to prisoners who filed fraudulent returns, according to the Treasury Department’s Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA).
• The National Science Foundation directed nearly a quarter million dollars to a Stanford University professor’s study of how Americans use the Internet to find love.
• The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) took the term “cold case” to a new level in 2010. The agency spent over $20,000 in taxpayer money “to unravel the anonymity of a 2,500-year-old mummy.”
• The National Institutes of Health (NIH) spent nearly $442,340 million to study the number of male prostitutes in Vietnam and their social setting.
• This year, taxpayers forked over $60,000 for the “first-of-its kind” promotion of the Vidalia onion in conjunction with the movie, Shrek Forever After. ”
• The National Science Foundation (NSF) awarded over $600,000 to the Minnesota Zoo to create a wolf “avatar” video game called “WolfQuest.”
• A $700,000 federal grant paid for researchers to examine “greenhouse gas emission from organic dairies, which are cause by cow burps, among other things.”

Note:  Senator Coburn has had enough; he's been fighting the good fight for too long with little help from lazy Americans who won't demand reform.  He has announced he'll retire next year and leave Washington to the crooks.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

"Movie Heroes"

Good Morning Folks,

I recently spent part of Memorial Day watching television.  Each year Turner Classic Movies and American Movie Classics trots out the John Wayne war movies in honor of this special day.  While I enjoy many John Wayne movies, his war movies do little for me.  Each time I see the Duke muscling that earth mover up the hill against an army of Japanese in "The Fighting Seabees, or Big John storming some Pacific Beach,  I can't help but remember that John Wayne refused to fight for his country when the country needed him.

It's true!  John Wayne was in his early thirties during World War II.  While Clark Gable and a thousand other celebrities went off to war, old John cited the need to "support his family" and got a deferment.  For years it alienated Wayne from his best friend, John Ford, who gave Wayne his big break in "Stagecoach".  This did not stop John Wayne from profiting hugely during the war years; he was literally alone in Hollywood and had his pick of the hero roles for all those gallant war movies. 

Long after the war was over the Duke was still making those war movies and he cashed in big.  In today's media machine Wayne would have been eaten and spit out for his putting profit over patriotism.  But back then, the publicity managers were able to gloss over the problem and America wasn't the wiser.
Incredibly, John Wayne became the very icon of patriotism right up to his death.  Wayne is both the recipient of the Congressional Gold Medal and the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest awards that can be granted to a civilian.

John Wayne is not alone in this silver screen pageantry.  I don't go to war movies; don't like them at all.  The realistic ones bring back too many reminders and the unrealistic ones just seem silly to me.  Stallone, Van Damme, Arnold, Afleck and a couple of dozen other "national brand heroes" never served a day in the military; it was totally beneath them.  Yet, Americans flock to them every day of the week and get chill bumps just watching the celluloid bravery of their icons.

There are plenty of past and current actors who served proudly in our armed forces.  Some of them became successful movie stars and some didn't.  But I've found the ones who were most successful were those who can carry off the heroism in celluloid to extreme proportion.  Perhaps those who served just could not attain the level of dramatic glory that so many movies portrayed.  Perhaps those who served were restrained by the knowledge that war is ugly and wasteful of human life and should be practiced with extreme caution.

"Okay, Pilgrim...let's take that hill!".

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

"Ego And Ambition Amok; the Republican Presidential Candidates"

As I watch the field of Republican Presidential candidates I am quite perplexed about how and why they made the decision to run.  As a conservative Independent (who left the Republican party when they very nearly passed illegal amnesty), I find most of this candidate field unappealing. 

When I look at Mitt Romney I see just another Republican in name only, just as the free-spending George Bush was.  Anyone who signs off on a socialist medical care bill, as Romny did in Massechusetts, is not my guy.

John Huntsman announced last week and, again, he's just a washed out Republican who has no concern about illegal amnesty and refuses to condemn Obama's socialist agenda.

Michelle Bachman pronounces herself a conservative, and probably is, but does not possess the intellectual tools to handle the complex problems our country faces....and, I don't think I could take hearing age-old platitudes tendered in that screeching voice for any period of time.

Newt Gingrich has good ideas but has little personal charisma and has already made more tactical and strategic campaign errors than one usually encounters in an entire campaign.

Ron Paul will never be elected; his libertarian views, especially on legalizing drugs and dismantling the military, will never be accepted by the American voter.  Talks too fast, his whole personna is "grumpy old man" and he also lacks charisma.

Pawlenty is so bland he's almost invisable.

Rick Santorium could not even keep his Pennsylvania Senate seat but believes he can commandeer the nomination by embracing the principles of the religious right.

With the exception of Romney, I am baffled about what makes these candidates think they can win.  I can only conclude that massive ego leads them to believe they can sell their array of wares.  Ambition and ego seems to be the only motivation for these people.  In my mind not one has offered up a collection of ideas which I would embrace and support.

I'm convinced that, unless Senator Marco Rubio or Governor Christie decide to enter the race, the Republicans will lose in 2012. 

As bad as Obama's performance has been, there is one thing the American electorate will not tolerate; they refuse to be bored to death and this group of wannabees will surely do that.


Monday, June 27, 2011

"Israel's Fight for Survival"

A few weeks ago President Obama opted to descend from Olympus and issue a pronouncement:  With regard to peace talks between the Palestinians and Israel, Obama declared that Israel must retreat to her 1967 territorial boundries.  This pronouncement of course declared before substantive talks were to begin. 

In essence, Obama was declaring unilateral surrender for Israel before the fight even started.  You might guess that Israel felt they had been sold out...and rightly so.  Here's why Obama's proposal on the '67 borders is both preposterous and impossible.

Perhaps we need to remind this President that the territory gained by Israel in the 67 war came after being attacked by much of the Middle East.  Israel was not the aggressor.  Further, prior to Israel's David vs Goliath victory over the armies of Egypt and Syria and Lebanon and others, Israel's very existence was tenuous since they were exposed on literally all sides and the enemy had the advantage of the high ground in the Sinai. 

Perhaps the President needs to remember also that, only six years later, Egypt and the rest of the Muslim world, equipped and financed by both the Soviet Union and the deep pockets of the Saudis, started a second war with Israel in 1973!  The enemy was so massive that only the brilliance of the Israeli general staff and the last minute aid from the U.S. saved Israel!

Maybe we also have to remind the President that the Muslim world, when not fighting the U.S. or Israel, are more than content to fight each other!  Maybe the President could attend a 6th grade history class and learn that Israel just happens to be the only democratic ally we have in the Middle East!

Yes, it's true that we give foreign aid to Israel; about $3 billion per year.  That's just about what we are spending per week in Afghanistan.  The U.S.-Israeli friendship has not been one sided.  We only need to go back a few months to see that it was Israel that planted that massive computer virus that kept the Iranian nuclear facility from coming online.  Over the 60 years of our partnership Israel has remained a loyal and steadfast American friend.

Does President Obama really want to surrender Israel to these people?  What's your choice, folks?  $3 billion a year in aid to Israel...or $3 billion a week to a corrupt Afghani leader who professes openly his hate for America and our troops?

Seems pretty simple to me...but then I don't have my head in the clouds of Mt. Olympus savoring my Harvard law degree amidst the arrogance of ego.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Thursday, June 23, 2011

"Obama; A Divisive President"


Good Morning Folks,

How many of you recall the day President Obama was inaugerated?  Do you remember the media "love-in" that swamped the airwaves on that day?  The political pundits were basking in orgasmic delight that the first African American President had been elected.  They opined that Obama's election signaled an end to racial ineqality, citing as proof Obama's election.  Millions of Independents, wearied by Bush's wars and the financial crisis, and eager to show their lack of racial prejudice, voted for Obama.  Even many conservatives hailed the Obama election as an opportune moment for blacks to finally stop using the race card to achieve racial and economic favoritism. 

It was as if tens of millions of Americans were saying to African Americans "okay, we elected an African-American, now shut up and get on with pulling your own collective weight". 

Obama was further elevated by voter support from the Hispanic population who, largely, have never seen an illegal immigrant they didn't love. 

Finally, Obama was given the ultimate gift; Democratic control of both houses of Congress.  Could a President ask for more?

Well, apparently yes.  Obama, upon his inaugeration began a series of cunning political moves which undercut everything he had promised to all those voters who supported him.

Campaign Promise:  Transparent and clean government, free of lobbyists:
Obama's first move was to appoint a cabinet and army of czars that were as corrupt as anything Richard Daly had assembled in Chicago-land.  His Treasury Secretary cheated on his taxes as did half a dozen other appointees.  Many of his advisors were out and out socialists who hailed the greatness of Karl Marx.  And Obama hired a slew of former lobbyists to run the White House.

Campaign Promise:  Put an end to the old politics and work with both sides of the aisle:
The first thing Obama did was to accede to Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid and cram a trillion dollar pork stuffed stimulus package down the throats of Republicans who weren't even allowed a single amendment.  The second thing Obama did was to ally himself with Pelosi and Reid and concoct a socialist inspired healthcare bill behind closed doors.  Again, Obama refused to accept Republican suggestions to include tort reform and nation-wide competition for health care companies.  Obama further alienated 76 percent of America who opposed Obamacare; his only response: "the opposition are a bunch of radical nuts."

Campaign Promise:  Develop sound and logical financial regulations:
Obama supported and signed a financial reform bill that punished thousands of banks who had nothing to do with the Investment House collapse (which resulted in a huge credit crunch that still prevails) while doing nothing to reform Freddie Mac And Fannie Mae, two institutions that were supposedly being monitored by Barney Frank and Chris Dodd, both of whom received favorable mortgage deals on their personal homes.  Both Freddie and Fannie now bleed $125 billion dollar per quarter in tax payer dollars and  nothing was done to reform them.

Campaign Promise:  Get Us Out of Iraq and Afghanistan:
We are still in Iraq and following the same withdrawl plan that was drawn up by Bush.  Obama actually increased the number of troops in Afghanistan and now is warring with Libya, a country which poses no threat to us.

Campaign Promise:  Secure the border and No Amnesty for Illegals; They must go home and stand in line
Refuses to strengthen the border, declares a "back door" amnesty for illegals by refusing to deport any except the most dangerous felons.  Sues Arizona for trying to protect her own borders and threatens to sue Georgia, Indiana and Alabama as well.  Already started lawsuit against the state of Arizona and Utah.

So what has Obama achieved in his two and one half years in office?

1) Incites black unrest due to 20 percent black unemployment rate
2) Incites Hispanics because he can't even get his fellow Democrats to grant illegals the amnesty they want
3) Incites and Alienates 70 percent of America over Obamacare, a pork-laden stimulus plan that did nothing, ran up the national debt from 11 trillion to 15 trillion dollars in two years time and scares small business so badly with Obamacare directives and union mandates that they won't invest or hire anyone.
4) Alienates Republicans so badly that the political atmosphere in Washington is toxic and nothing gets done.
5) Alienates the majority of Americans who believe in American Exceptionalism while Obama tours Asian, Europe and the Middle East, preaching the brilliance of the muslim culture and branding America as "just your average country".

The last President who alienated American did about half the damage Obama has dealt our country; his name was Jimmy Carter and he lost 49 of the 50 states in the next election.  November 2012 cannot come soon enough.


Sunday, June 19, 2011

"Three Uncles; Surrogate Fathers"

Happy Father's Day to all Fathers.

My father left my family when we were pretty young.  But, if your heart is sufficiently open, God will come along and fill whatever void exists in your life.    In my case, I had three wonderful uncles who all served as a father figure for me. 

My Uncle Bill was a man who could not have lived had he not laughed.  Until much later in his life, when he was sick, my Uncle Bill always had a smile on his face, a joke to tell, or a prank to pull.  I absolutely loved being around him; how could a kid resist a laughing, teasing and playful uncle.  Fortunately, for me, Uncle Bill sired all girls so I too fulfilled his need to have a son.  I loved even simple things like sitting out on the porch and drinking coffee and talking to Uncle Bill.  I loved how he teased his girls; when upset with them he acted the "gruff daddy" but all his girls knew he was just a big teddy bear. 

When I returned home from my first tour in Vietnam my mom and I sat up all night talking and catching up on news of family.  But I was so anxious to see my Uncle Bill I finally talked my mom into joining me to go down the street and wake him and my Aunt Fanny at 2 o'clock in the morning.  They didn't mind a bit; Fanny made a big pot of coffee and we talked the night away and were only caught up with the news and love and laughter until well after the sun had risen.

My Uncle Bill passed away in November 1990.  I was in Saudi Arabia when the news came and couldn't get home for his funeral.  I cried like a baby when I heard the news and said a silent prayer for one of my  wonderful surrogate fathers.  I miss him to this day and wish him a wonderful Father's Day in heaven.

My Uncle Floyd was my second surrogate father.  We did not become close until I was a teenager, when he had moved near enough to us to establish a closer relationship.  Floyd was a strong, handsome, hard-working guy who also possessed a wild and wacky sense of humor; it seems to run strongly in my family.
Floyd was a Dodger fan and I was a Giants fan so we had a very fierce rivalry over the two teams, who were both very good teams.  We had some great times cheering on our teams when they played each other...and the fan of the winner always gloated!

My Uncle owned two cars, both of which I was absolutely crazy about; a 56 Chevy and a shiny and beautiful candy apple red 1964 Chevrolet Chevelle Supersport.  As the time for my senior prom neared I hated the idea of picking my prom date up in my old jalopy.  I thought long and hard and finally got up the nerve to ask Uncle Floyd if I could borrow his 56 Chevy to drive to the prom.  He looked at me so fiercely that I was sorry I had asked;   he then told me "no, Dearel, you can't take the old Chevy...but you can have the new Chevelle".  I wouldn't never have dreamed of asking to borrow his new car!  My mouth dropped open and I don't even remember if I thanked him! 

In 1997 my Uncle Floyd was living in Missouri.  I decided to drive my mother and I out to Missouri from California, to celebrate my mom's 75th birthday.  We had a grand time on that trip; the best of which was seeing my mom so happy to celebrate a milestone birthday with her brother.  During our stay my Uncle Floyd and I talked late into the night.  We talked about all the good memories and he told me rich stories about he and my mom growing up in Oklahoma.  I didn't know it then, but when we said our goodbyes it was the last I was to see of him.  He died the following year.  I've always been grateful to have those days with him and to have the chance to tell him what he meant to me, and to tell him I loved him.  Happy Father's Day Uncle Floyd.

My Uncle Paul is the last surviving surrogate Uncle-Father.  Though I knew him all my life, I did not become very close to him until I was in my late teens.   Then a truckdriver, Paul and I bonded when he took me on a few of his trucking runs.  It gave us hours to talk and share experiences and get to know one another.  I learned to love him deeply for his compassionate heart, loving ways...and yes, great sense of humor.  Uncle Paul and Uncle Floyd used to take frequent trips from the midwest out to California to visit us all.  When they were together it was a literal tag team of comedy.  They never failed to lift our spirits and make our hearts joyous.

It was Uncle Paul and his wife Pat who gave my wife and I our first house furniture.  What a generous gesture it was!  They were living in Los Angeles when my Vietnamese bride and I returned from Vietnam.  Paul and Pat hosted us in L.A., took us to dinner and to Sea World and did everything to make my wife feel welcome.  Paul and Pat have lived in Kansas now for many years so it has been a long time since I have seen him.  We've talked on the phone a few times but I miss them dearly.  But the memories are dear and are strong.  Happy Father's Day Uncle Paul!

Yes, it is true that God taketh he did with us, in not growing up with a father.  But it is also invariably true that God also abundance!  My abundance was the joy of having three Uncle-Fathers who taught me invaluable life lessons and who gave me great love. 

Happy Father's Day to all.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

"Don't Read This Stupid!; I'm Insulting You"

Only 50 percent of eligible voters actually vote.  Of that, only 20 percent or so actually take the time to learn what they need to know to cast an intelligent vote.  The remaining 30 percent of the voters go off half-cocked, haven't researched the issues or the candidates and bull their way into a voting machine to "show so and so, 'what's what' ". 

For the 20 percent of you who take the time to educate yourself about our national concerns, take an active role in voicing your support for your principles and actively opppose what you truly believe is wrong, move on.  You don't need to read this.

For the remaining 50 percent who frequent the message boards, spout off inane nonsense about what they heard their favorite "Nancy" or "Harry" or "The Maverick" say, post this drivel unendingly on Internet message boards, never read a newspaper or news weekly, have never spent five minutes a day trying to analyze what's wrong about anything..and conceiving possible solutions, who are too damn lazy to vote....move on.  Nothing I say here will have any meaning or interest to you, and would, frankly, be a waste of both of our time.  You are just a group of hogs bound for slaughter.

It is to that 30 percent that, at least, takes the time to vote, that I address these remarks:

First of all, I will tell you this; there is a war going on between two diametrically opposed points of view about the direction this country must take and what actions need to be taken to keep America on a proper course.  I won't even begin to detail the differences here; they are played out in all phases of the media every day.  If you want to be a good citizen, take a damn side!   This war is escalating by the day.

Second, rather than listen to empty political slogans and platitudes, educate yourself on the nature of our problems, think for yourself the best way to solve those problems is to align yourself with politicians who are in like mind with you.  Try to avoid those who offer simplistic solutions to complex problems; liberals saying "we must help the poor", never acknowledging the massive fraud and corruption in social programs, activates the "gag factor" in anyone who actually uses their brain.  The conservatives will never solve the energy problem with "drill, baby, drill".  Get what I'm saying?

Third, pull your damn faces away from the computer screen and your dainty fingers off the keyboard and try to refrain from posting Facebook drivel and Tweeter feeds all the damn day!  Get involved; write your congressmen and women, seek out and study the candidates that best represent your concerns.  Don't be afraid of offending your Tweeter and Facebook friends by speaking out on real, honest, serious concerns you have about your city, your state, your country and the world, and if none in your FB circle can "get it", leave them to their empty, uncommitted lives and seek out others who act like adults rather than frivolus children.  Give up an hour of that 8 hour television schedule and study and learn something truly relevant to your lives.

If you do all this, maybe! just maybe!  We can get America back on the right track!

I hope like hell none of you 50 percenters (the hogs awaiting slaughter) wasted any time reading this.  We who actually care about our country and take our responsibilities as citizens seriously, are just glad to see you dumb and happy and staying off the battlefield.  This ain't no time for amateurs, summer soldiers or sunshine patriots.

Friday, June 17, 2011

"Adrian Gonzalez; Old School Pro"


For you non-baseball folks, Adrian Gonzalez is a baseball player.  Now, in his eleventh year as a pro, Adrian is now pulling in big time "silly money" with the Boston Red Sox.  Drafted by the Florida Marlins, then traded to Texas, then traded to the San Diego Padres whom he blessed with respectability in his five years with the Pads.

While with the Padres, Adrian embraced his team-mates, didn't complain about their failure to join him in providing any offense, never complained about the far reaches of Petco Park; he just went out every day and left everything he could give that day on the playing field. 

Adrian is a gold glove first baseman and, although slow of foot, his every move on the field looks like someone who was made to play baseball.   Adrian's true grace comes when he steps to the plate.  His swing is as smooth as butter.  I've only personally seen one other player who matches that grace; some guy named Tony Gwynn.  Adrian strikes out a little more often than Tony (one year Tony struck out only 13 times over a full season, in over 500 at bats!) but Adrian's got more power than Tony and can knock balls out of anywhere in the ball park.

San Diego wisely traded Adrian to the Boston Red Sox last off-season.  San Diego is not a big city market for baseball and, in these days baseball is a big business, so the Padres didn't even bother to offer Adrian a contract.

Adrian grew up in San Diego and truly wanted to stay.  His dad installed air conditioners and watched his boys play baseball.  He taught Adrian and his brother a true work ethic as evidenced by their work in the art of baseball.

So, Adrian joined the Boston Red Sox.  The Red Sox now pay Adrian over $22 million dollars a year.  But watch Adrian as he goes about his business.  He has the same unassuming and mild manner he had when he was pulling down the major league minimum.  Unlike so many ego-driven baseball divas, Adrian didn't get fat and lazy or go out on a big spending spree and buy a Maserati with mink-lined seat covers.  He just got out there and ran the wind sprints and did the knee bends and got ready for the season.

After Adrian signed the big contract he flew back to San Diego and held a meeting with the heads of the various charities he supports.  He appologized that he won't be able to spend as much time with them while playing ball in Boston but promised that his financial support would be even greater, in keeping with his bigger paycheck.

How's Adrian doing in Boston?  Well, as of today, Adrian leads the American league in Batting Average (341), Runs Batted In (59) and he's sent 20 doubles bouncing off The Green Monster. 

Adrian's Boston team-mates love him; they say he's a quiet leader and a sweet guy to have on the team.  The rabid Boston fans love him too. 

And there's an awful lot of Padres fans that miss "the good guy".  They miss seeing that sweet swing and those marvelous "saves' at first base. 

We wish you well Adrian.  God go with you...and when your playing days are done, come back home to San Diego.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

"Delta and The Baggage Fiasco"

Good Morning,

Most of you who follow the news found out that Delta Airlines was the brunt of some bad publicity this week.  Seems a cadre of troops were coming home from the Middle East and needed to bring four pieces of baggage with them.  It seems the military now requires troops to be individually responsible for caring for, and returning with specialized equipment, thus the four-bag requirement.  It seems that Delta balked at the 4-bag requirement and charged the concerned troops a collective $2800 dollars in excess baggage fees. 

I do not know the details of this nor, after being out of the military 20 years, am I familiar with how many bags are authorized per military orders.  The troops claim it was four, Delta says three.  The difference in opinion resulted in a troop-made video complaining about it and it soon went viral on the Internet.

My frequent travels over a 22-year Air Force career and another ten years working and living overseas more than qualifies me for the "million mile club".  However, I stopped flying on airlines when I came home from Saudi in July, 2001.  

Flying just came to be more and more stressful and tiring.  I stopped enjoying flights just about the time Carter de-regulated the airlines and airline fares dropped so low that airports began resembling Greyhound Bus stations and passengers began to board airplanes wearing t-shirts, cut-offs, flip flops and badly needing a shower.  While I don't advocate returning to the old days when suits and ties were proper passenger attire, I do long for the days when passengers..and flight attendants were cheerful and polite.

I will offer a couple of fond remembrances of a time when airlines still had a corporate heart and were not obsessed with the corporate bottom line.

When I first deployed to Vietnam TWA flew us there.  As we taxied up to the terminal at Tan Son Nhut Air Base in Saigon, the stewardesses prepared the flight for debarkation and announced it as they opened the doors.  As we all rose to leave the plane we all noted the stewardesses all had tears in their eyes and said "we'll be back to get you in a year"... that touched our hearts greatly.

In 1976 I returned to the states from Korea to see my baby daughter.  When my home leave was up I boarded a Northwest Airlines flight to return back to Korea.  I was hot and tired as I reached my seat in coach class.  Then a Northwest Airline Stewardess came back to where I was sitting and said, "grab your bag and follow me".  She led me up to the front of the plane and put me in a First Class seat.  I had never flown First Class before but I was treated like a king on that return flight and always have a warm spot in my heart for that Northwest crew.

Sometimes the old days are better.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

"Happy Birthday Gemini Twins"

Happy Birthday Gemini Twins,
What's the odds that mom will give birth on her birthday?  Billy-Boy, you sure had good timing, giving your mom a birthday present extraoridnaire!  Babe, I still remember taking you to the hospital that morning...I had barely had time to sit down in the waiting room when the nurse came out and said "it's a boy!". 

So we took the little guy home and watched him grow.  Caught up quickly with his "year older" brother and before long it was the dynamic duo with cowboy guns and cowboy boots and youthful crooning along with Elvis on all their "shoot-outs".  Billy, you were always adventurous and still hold the record as the only one who could scale the sides of the crib, emerge downstairs in bunny jump suits and declare in fat lipped mushmouth "I don't want to go to bed".  We all still have memories of a little guy about six,  in teddy bear P.J.'s, staring at the TV screen and wailing at the sad, sad loss of "The Champ". 

Is it any wonder, Billy, that you pursue a career in business?  You honed your business skills at an early age, scouring refuse bins for trade goods, out-gaming generous candy machines and more than willing to suffer a butch haircut for the transitive reward of a double-scoop ice cream cone.  Now you barter in the grown up world and have a little guy of your own so you better understand the joy you brought to us.  Happy Birthday!

Dam-oi,  you're living proof that "love at first sight" does indeed exist.  You've accomplished so much in your life, leaving your homeland and family to take up with a family of Okies, learning English sufficient to conjugate "to be", working hard for your GED, your Cosmetologist License and thriving in a career that has spanned three decades.  You became a "professional" in your profession, became super skilled in sewing, necessitated by the demand generated by four rapidly growing children who needed to be clothed, and a superb cook whose dishes grace our every-day and holiday table.  Most admirable and honored was your contribution to military service by being both mom and dad during the many times I deployed overseas.  Happy Birthday, babe.  You have never looked your age and are still as lovely as ever.

Monday, June 13, 2011

"Weiner Roast"


Good Morning,

I'm sure by now everyone has heard about the Tweeter antics of Congressman Anthony Weiner.  You probably remember him from C-Span when he stood up in the House Chamber and angrily screamed out a long litany of accusations against President Bush, the prime accusation being that Bush was "immoral".

While I have never been a big fan of George W., somehow Weiner's diatribes rung false with me.  Being of an age where just a sliver of wisdom is gathered during a lifetime, I was a bit suspicious of Mr. Weiner, having heard repeatedly in my life that those who scream the loudest often have the most to hide.

Having now been "exposed" to Congressman Weiner's true character, and having learned that Tweeter can be used for far more than a brief blip on what one is doing..and where they are at the moment.

However, do not feel sorry for Mr. Weiner.  He will be just fine.  Remember that he is a Congressman in New York City.  Yes, the same NYC that re-elected good old Charley Rangel, the same Charlie Rangel that heads up the House Banking Committee while dodging taxes on more than a million dollars in income.
NYC, home of Al Sharpton, who proved that calling yourself Reverend is a great strategy for amassing a large fortune through "pulpit fees". 

If New York City political  history is any indication Congressman Weiner will be re-elected to Congress in a landslide.  Nothing like a little corruption in NY politicians to make the every day NYC $200,000 dollar Union Trash Hauler feel like he's just "one of the boys".  Congressman Weiner can undoubtedly count on those $250,000 dollar unionized NYC cops for support! 

I have to admire the cunning of Democratic politicians and must condemn the stupidity of Republicans.  Every time a Republican rascal gets caught he ups and resigns from office.  Congressman Weiner says he won't resign...and hell, he just might decide to run for Mayor of New York City!

I can't think of a candidate more fitting for the job..and an electorate more deserving!

P.S....this just in!:  Fruit of the Loom Underwear has just offered Congressmen Weiner a huge salary to be their next underwear model.  They say he's just the guy to "fill" the job.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

"To Norm; Magic Carpet Chauffeur"

Good Morning Folks,

Does anyone know any Boy Scouts anymore?  Any Explorer Scouts?  Do they still go camping or do they all meet at a lodge and play video games? 

When I was a kid, and became elgible to join the Boy Scouts, I joined Troop 395 in Selma, California.  Our scoutmaster was named Norm...and this fine man would open up new vistas of experience to kids whose world was pitfully narrow and defined. 

Fortunately for us, Norm was a "happy camper"; he loved to go camping and didn't mind carting around a dozen or more of us with him.  He liked our company and we liked his as well.  Yeah sure, to us old Norm was probably a little nerdy.  He used to recant stories and loved to re-cast his voice in all manner of "character accents" in tellng them.  Most of his stories weren't really that funny but we'd laugh anyway because we liked him...and because he put up with far more unpleasantries from us.

As I recall, Norm started out driving us to camping sites in an old station wagon but, as the popularity of our campouts grew, Norm somehow commandeered an old Volkswagon Bus and a couple of other adults to meet the increased camper demand. 

I guess what we liked most about Norm is that he neither coddled us nor ignored us; we were expected to pitch our own tents, set up our camp, see to our own food and clothing requirements and behave ourselves, at least to minimally accepted degrees.  Norm did not try to be "one of the kids" nor was he a stuffy "adult" type; just a pleasant balance of the two.

And what adventures we took with Norm and that old VW bus!  While the other troop scoutmasters deigned to go camping a couple of times a year, Norm had us out on outings at least every month.  We travelled to Santa Cruz and explored the caves at Hollister and the San Andres fault.  We travelled high into the heights of Mineral King longed before it was well visited and marvelled at crystal clear lakes, hiked steep trails while bears pawed through the back packs of anyone stupid enough to bring chocolate and open food packs with them!  We ventured into the snow-packed Sequoia National Forest, got stuck in the snow, walked a couple of miles in hip deep snow to a cabin reserved for us, only to find all the windows broken, the cabin vandalized and where we all spent one freezing night awake and trying to stay alive in zipped sleeping bags, before hiking out again the next morning. 

During other campouts we made our camps beside swift flowing clear waters, bathed quickly amidst schools of rainbow trout in frigid water and loved every minute of it.

As we grew older it soon became evident that our "Boy Scout" days were nearing an end.  But, thanks to Norm, we were such a tight group that we didn't want to break the circle of unity and friendship that had developed with our troop.  We then decided to form an Explorer Post to continue our good times and we had many more adventures with Norm through our high school years.

Norm now resides with "The Great Master of All Scouts".  I just wanted to honor him here...hope all today's Scouts are lucky enough to have a "Magic Carpet Chauffeur" like our Norm.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

"The Tulip Bubble"

Strange as it may seem, in the 17th Century the Netherlands financial markets participated in one of the most bizarre exhibits of financial madness known to man.  It seems that a half a century or so prior, a Dutchman had imported a few dozen tulip bulbs from what is now Turkey.  Over the next few decades the Tulip became wildly popular.  Conditions were in effect which limited supply and, following traditional supply and demand principles, tulips began to be a prized possession.  Accordingly, some sharp financial mind of the day set up a "tulip exchange" in the financial markets.  As the popularity of this exciting new commodity spread the price of tulips soared to absolutely insane price levels.  At the height of the bubble the price of a single tulip bulb was the equivalent of a year's salary for a middle class Dutchman.  (Google Tulip Bubble; it's true!)  Eventually the market collapsed and thousands of tulip investors were very sad indeed.

Five years ago the U.S. housing bubble was not much different.  Spurred by government mandated low income home loans instituted during the Clinton administration, the financial institutions began playing fast and loose with the home mortgage market.  Early signs of trouble were evident and some of our conservative lawmakers warned of severe abuses of the system.  They were largely ignored by the Democrats who, in typical fashion, expanded Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac mortgage loans to a larger, and far less qualified group of mortgage applicants.

Financial institutions saw how the game was to be played and jumped in with glee.  Zero down, low adjustable rate loans and no documentation of income transactions were the play of the day.  Loan applicants, seeing how easy the game rules were, began lying about their income and taking the keys to their new homes.  The mortgage lenders, packaged these questionable loans into a trading block and created a new medium of exchange, Credit Default Swaps which were flipped to markets all over the world.

Of course this easy money created an insatiable demand for housing.  Home prices exploded.  The home buyer, seeing his home increasing in value by the thousands each month, took out home equity loans for swimming pools, new furniture, or, what the hell, a European vacation!  Whee!  Amateur investors began taking out loans for five or ten houses, then flipping them for profits a few months later. 

Of course, like those tulips, the crazy conditions that created the housing bubble had to burst eventually, and it surely did; quickly and painfully.  There are tens of millions of very sad housing stories these days.  Sadly, recovery will come slowly; the very government that established laws that created the abuse has now, rather than let the market settle under traditional economic patterns, intervened to try and ease the pain of those oh so coveted voters.   The Democrats have yet to learn what all of us already know; you can't make housing payments, no matter how favorable, if you don't have a job.   This government intervention assures us that recovery will continue to be slow and painful.  Housing experts are predicting two million more home foreclosures this year.

My modest home was, at the height of the bubble, worth twice what I paid for it.  Alas, it is now assessed at a lower value too, as the tanking of the housing market has driven down real estate prices.  Fortunately, unlike millions of Americans, I owe less than the house is worth and my mortgage is affordable.  Not so for the millions of Americans who have lost, or have walked away from their homes. 

I think Warren Buffett, one of our wealthiest and wisest American billionaires, has it right.  A few decades ago he said of his modest home in Omaha, Nebraska, "I don't check how much my home is worth on a daily or weekly or monthly or yearly basis".  "That would be silly", he said.  Perhaps, a few million Americans have now learned that lesson too.  Sadly, the lesson was accompanied by great pain.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

"I'm Tired"

Note to My Readers:  This essay by Mr. Hall can be found easily on the internet; it went viral a couple of years ago.  Admirers of the essay hail Mr. Hall for his common sense approach to our problems.   While I don't agree with everything he espouses, I certainly believe he offers a calm and measured assessment of what is wrong with America.  I'm not sure Mr. Hall is still with us (he was very ill at the time he wrote this) but his words will live in the hearts of many Americans for a long time.

"I'm Tired" by Robert A. Hall

I'll be 63 soon. Except for one semester in college when jobs were scarce, and a six-month period when I was between jobs, but job-hunting every day, I've worked, hard, since I was 18 Despite some health challenges, I still put in 50-hour weeks, and haven't called in sick in seven or eight years. I make a good salary, but I didn't inherit my job or my income, and  I worked to get where I am. Given the economy, there's no retirement in sight, and I'm tired. Very tired.

I'm tired of being told that I have to "spread the wealth around" to people who don't have my work ethic. I'm tired of being told the government will take the money I earned, by force if necessary, and give it to  people too lazy or stupid to earn it. I'm tired of being told that I have to pay more taxes to "keep people in their homes." Sure, if they lost their jobs or got sick, I'm willing to help But if they bought  Mansions at three times the price of our paid-off, $250,000 condo, on one-third of my salary, then let the left-wing Congress-critters who passed Fannie and Freddie and the Community Reinvestment Act that created the bubble help them with their own money.

I'm tired of being told how bad America is by left-wing millionaires like Michael Moore, George Soros, and Hollywood entertainers who live in luxury because of the opportunities America offers. In thirty years, if they get their way, the United States will have the economy of
Zimbabwe, the freedom of the press of China, the crime and violence of Mexico, the tolerance for Christian people of Iran, and the freedom of speech of Venezuela. Won't multiculturalism be beautiful?

I'm tired of being told that Islam is a "
Religion of Peace," when every day I can read dozens of stories of Muslim men killing their sisters, wives and daughters for their family "honor"; of Muslims rioting over some slight offense; of Muslims murdering Christian and Jews because they aren't "believers" ; of Muslims burning schools for girls; of Muslims stoning teenage rape victims to death for "adultery"; of Muslims mutilating the genitals of little girls; all in the name of Allah, because the Qur'an and Shari'a law tells them to. I believe "a man should be judged by the content of his character, not by the color of his skin." I'm tired of being told that "race doesn't matter" in the post-racial world of Obama, when it's all that matters in affirmative action jobs, lower college admission and graduation standards for minorities (harming them the most), government contract set-asides, tolerance for the ghetto culture of violence and fatherless children that hurts minorities more than anyone, and in the appointment of US Senators from Illinois.

I think it's very cool that we have a black president and that a black child is doing her homework at the desk where Lincoln wrote the
emancipation proclamation. I just wish the black president was Condi Rice, or someone who believes more in freedom and the individual and less arrogantly of an all-knowing government.

I'm tired of a news media that thinks Bush's fundraising and inaugural expenses were obscene, but that think Obama's, at triple the cost, were wonderful. That thinks Bush exercising daily was a waste of presidential time, but Obama exercising is a great example for the public to control weight and stress, that picked over every line of Bush's military records, but never demanded that Kerry release his, that slammed Palin, with two years as  governor, for being too inexperienced for VP, but touted Obama with three years as senator as potentially  the best president ever. I Wonder why people are dropping their subscriptions or switching to
Fox News ?   Get a clue.

I'm tired of being told that out of "tolerance for other cultures" we must let
Saudi Arabia use our oil money to fund mosques and madrassa Islamic schools to preach hate in America, while no American group is allowed to fund a church, synagogue, or religious school in Saudi Arabia to teach love and tolerance.

I'm tired of being told I must lower my living standard to fight
global warming, which no one is allowed to debate. My wife and I live in a two-bedroom apartment and carpool together five miles to our jobs. We also own a three -bedroom condo where our daughter and granddaughter live. Our carbon footprint is about  5% of Al Gore's, and if you're greener than Gore, you're green enough for me.

I'm tired of being told that drug addicts have a disease, and I must help support and treat them, and pay for the damage they do. Did a giant germ rush out of a dark alley, grab them, and stuff white powder up their noses while they tried to fight it off? I don't think Gay people choose to be Gay, but I damn sure think druggies chose to take drugs.

And I'm tired of harassment from cool people treating me like a freak when I tell them I never tried marijuana. I'm tired of illegal aliens being called "
undocumented workers," especially the ones who aren't working, but are living on welfare or crime.  What's next?  Calling drug dealers,   Undocumented Pharmacists"?  And, no, I'm not against Hispanics. Most of them are Catholic, and it's been a  few hundred years since Catholics wanted to kill me for my religion. I'm  willing to fast track for citizenship any Hispanic person, who can speak  English, doesn't have  a criminal record and who is self-supporting without family on welfare, or who serves honorably for three years in our military... Those are the citizens we need.

I'm tired of latte liberals and journalists, who would never wear the uniform of the Republic themselves, or let their entitlement-handicapped kids near a recruiting station, trashing our military. They and their kids can sit at home, never having to make split-second decisions under life and death circumstances, and bad mouth better people than themselves. Do bad things happen in war? You bet. Do our troops sometimes misbehave? Sure. Does this compare with the atrocities that were the policy of our enemies for the last fifty years-and still are?

Not even close. So here's the deal. I'll let myself be subjected to all the humiliation and abuse that was heaped on terrorists at Abu Ghraib or Gitmo, and the critics can let themselves be subject to captivity by the Muslims who tortured and beheaded
Daniel Pearl in Pakistan, or the Muslims who tortured and murdered Marine Lt. Col. William Higgins in Lebanon, or the Muslims who ran the  blood-spattered Al Qaeda torture rooms our troops found in Iraq, or the Muslims who cut off the heads of schoolgirls in Indonesia, because the girls were Christian. Then we'll compare notes. British and American soldiers are the only troops in history that civilians came to for help and handouts, instead of hiding from in fear.

I'm tired of people telling me that their party has a corner on virtue and the other party has a corner on corruption. Read the papers-bums are bipartisan.  And I'm tired of people telling me we need bipartisanship. I live in Illinois, where the "Illinois Combine" of Democrats has worked to loot the public for years. Not to mention the tax cheats in Obama's cabinet as well.

I'm tired of hearing wealthy athletes, entertainers, and politicians of both parties talking about innocent mistakes, stupid mistakes or youthful mistakes, when we all know they think their only mistake was getting caught..    

I'm tired of people with a sense of entitlement, rich or poor. Speaking of poor, I' m tired of hearing people with air-conditioned homes, color TVs and two cars called poor. The majority of Americans didn't have that in 1970, but we didn't know we were "poor." The poverty pimps have to keep changing the definition of poor to keep the dollars flowing   I'm real tired of people who don't take responsibility for their lives and  actions. I'm tired of hearing them blame the government, or discrimination, or big-whatever for their problems.

Yes, I'm damn tired. But I'm also glad to be 63. Because, mostly, I'm not going to have to see the world these people are making. I'm just sorry for my grandchildren.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

"To A Nephew Upon Graduation"

Dear Nephew,

You graduate from High School this week.  It is a bittersweet affair; you are excited to have reached the milestone, are both relieved and proud of its completion...yet sad that you are losing the day-to-day contact of friends whom you've known all of your life.

You will read the comments your friends have written in your yearbook; they will reveal many feelings about you  which both delights and surprises you.  Many of them will not be seen or heard from again until you attend a 20-year reunion, when so many of life's choices will have been made and settled for all of you.

You are now setting off for a grand new adventure.  But before, you go, turn around and take a look back.  Tarry awhile and take a moment to look at your parent's faces.  You will see both joy and sadness.  Sadness that the little boy who they coaxed into his first step at age one is now going on alone, independent of them, joy that you have accomplished a great deal.  They hold within their hearts a dream for you; a dream that you will continue to expand your horizons and live a long, healthy and joyous life.

They tended you through your growth.  Just as a good gardener tends to his garden, they have tended to your needs, trying to insure you are nourished and protected from the buffeting winds of life.  They tended you well,  making sure your time in the sun was warm and pleasant and your roots were well established.  You have now reached the flowering stage and your future development rests with you.  Each decision you make, and each step you take now will be like the petals of a flower; will you huddle tightly within yourself, afraid to flower?....or will you open yourself up in spectacular blooming and lift your face to the sun?  Will you remember that your roots are strong and feel confident that you can now face the storms of life with courage?

It is all up to you now. 

Now in my sixth decade, and having learned a few of life's lessons, may I offer these words of advice?

At this stage of your young life you are blessed with both uncertainty and a sense of grand adventure and exploration.  Liberate your mind so that you are open to this great opportunity to explore all that the world has to offer, all that excites you, all that offers enrichment to your soul.  Listen to all points of view, have the wisdom to recognize that what you don't know far exceeds that which you do.  When you have come to that realization you will have become an "educated" man.

Use the first years of your education to study the liberal arts; learn to appreciate fine literature, classical music and depth and beauty of fine arts.  Learn to read and write well.  Flirt with the world and learn what inspires and captivates your imagination.  Doing so will lead you to a career path that you will want to follow.  Throw away the conventional notion that one must pursue "the big money"; that will never bring you either satisfaction or happiness.  Instead, choose a profession that excites you, for if you do, your occupation will forever be a labor of love....and not of drudgery.  Choose a profession that has you bouncing out of bed in the morning, enthusiastic to "get to it!". 

As long as I have known you, you have always been a fine young man.  You are blessed with a family that loves you very much, who have sang your praises loud and often.  I'm proud of you also.  However, the greatest pride...and the most significant....will be the pride you have within yourself. 

So now, nephew, the long tendering and the loving care given to you by your family now culminates in its first fruition.  You are taking that first tentative step down the path of your adult life.  As you turn to go, always remember that you have the prayers and good wishes of all that love you.  And always remember that family...and home..are where you may always turn for comfort when the world occasionally turns a cold shoulder.

Congratulations Nephew!

Saturday, June 4, 2011

"Filbertos vs A&W/Long John Silvers

Good morning folks,

Like most American communities, we have a dozen or so fast food outlets within "take home" distance of my home.  On average, that's probably on the low side as compared to other population-concentrated neighborhoods.  I hereby assert that we need to implement a "fast food productivity index" to add to all of the other government indexes which are regularly announced on CNBC every day of the week.

I can think of no better "test lab" to measure the "productivity" of a business than seeing how Fast Food outlets thrive or die, depending on how well they treat their customers....especially as compared to a near-by competitor.  Let me offer a personal experience; when I lived in the north county of San Diego we had a McDonald's franchise within a block of our home.  Big Mac had little competition save a KFC outlet across the street.  For at least five years this McDonald's franchise was surely the worst I've have ever visited.  The food was consistently served lukewarm or cold and greasy, order mistakes were made frequently, and, without exaggeration, I can tell you that I've waited 15 minutes in a drive-thru when it wasn't even busy! Despite the convenience of it being nearby I quit going.  Then, a Burger King opened less than a block away and all of a sudden the "captive MacDonald customer" opted for BK and left this horrible McDonald's franchise languishing.  Finally, after six months or so, the Mickey D manager or owner got the message and the McDonald's revitalized itself and began serving hot burgers and fries in a timely manner!  Ahh...competition!

Fade to our neighbor hood we had a co-located A&W and Long John Silvers franchise; for the seven years I have lived here I visited it perhaps half a dozen times and consistently got cold burgers or cold greasy fish and fries.  Too, the food was overpriced and the service was horrible.  I quit going.  Everyone else must have quit them too because the franchise, having failed to learn a business lesson, has shut down.  As I drove by the outlet the other day I saw a banner waving across the front announcing a "Filbertos" was coming soon...

Filbertos is a local franchise in the Phoenix area.  They serve traditional Mexican fast food and they serve it hot and quickly.  Pretty basic but it succeeds where a national franchise brand failed and failed again over an extended period of time, simply because they thought their "national brand" advantage could overcome lousy food and poor service.

In an age when American business is battling for its life, when they are confronting fierce foreign competition with a plethora of variable costs and conditions challenges, they can learn from "the little Filbertos that could".  It's pretty simple:  1) satisfy a consumer need 2) Do so courteously 3) in a timely manner 4) with a consistent quality of product or service.