Friday, July 31, 2015

How Did I Do That?


I have some advice for you young folk.  As you travel down the road of life, and you come upon an obstacle...when you're confronted with a burden you believe you just can't bear...know that you can...and will.

I have never set the record for the high jump, or ran a four minute mile.  I never won "parent of the year".  I never sought nor won political office.  I never wrote a best selling book...or a poem that brought thousands to tears.  I never won the Congressional Medal of Honor.

I have only done what thousands of others have done; muddled my way through life the best I could..and tried to leave as little collateral damage as I possibly could.

And, yet, if you asked me now, years later, if I could do again what I've already done, I would probably say "no."  And, in looking back on my life, I still ask myself "how did I do that?"

How did I do backbreaking field work under 100 degree summers, sweating out ten percent of my body weight as the sun set on the horizon?  

How did I serve 22 years in the military?  I still remember standing in formation in six week basic training, outside a chow hall at 3AM on a dark, lonely morning years ago, waiting to peel potatoes and scrub pans on KP, missing home so much it ached...and saying to myself; "how am I going to last another day?"

How did I survive three tours in Vietnam and two tours in Korea, away from my family, away from my love, away from a country I loved so dearly? 

How did I have the patience to attend eight years of night school to get a college degree...and how did I have the perseverance to become a commissioned officer after having been knocked down and forced to get up and stumble forward, time and again?

How was I able to work in a Muslim country, and endure the isolation of my own culture and beliefs, and wander the rooms of a palatial but lonely house, and still keep my sanity?  

And, when our son died, how did I survive the death of a child when all the world is telling you that you never outlive your children?  How did I survive that first night of bone chilling sorrow?

And, nearly eight years ago, on the 4th of July, when I coughed up a piece of bloody lung into the kitchen sink, and when the ER doctor showed me the tumor on my lung, and when my primary care doctor only looked sadly at the floor when I asked about my chances, and when I went home and planned my funeral, how did I find the will to fight?  To survive waking up in post op on a stainless steel gurney screaming my guts out by the pain?  How did I endure that six months of chemotherapy that left me sleepless and hairless and hopeless?

Well, young folks, the answer is a simply; "ya do what ya gotta do."  You learn to bear the burdens.  You learn to absorb the blows, to face your sorrows, and you  soldier on.  Because the alternative is a pine box six feet under...or a straight jacket in an asylum.

So, go forth with your life... with a little less fear, because no matter how daunting the challenge, you can overcome it.  And, in those moments of respite, when your burdens are a bit lighter, there are days when a swallow sings you a morning wakeup, when the sun shines warmly on your face, and cotton ball clouds dance above you, when the embrace of a loved one makes your endurance of all of life's storms supremely worth it!

And, one last reminder; you never do it alone.  Those who raised you instilled in you a strength you never knew you had.  And your creator, like forged steel, has honed and shaped you to withstand more than you ever thought you could.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

"Cars and Condos"


Not long ago I wrote about my great lament at what it cost to operate a car these days.  I broke all the numbers down and, even for my fully paid for car, I shell out about $4,000 a year for gas, tags, maintenance and insurance.  That got me to thinking about how nice it would be if we didn't need a car to get around.  

There has been talk for a couple of decades about home builders building "pedestrian friendly" communities in which cars would not be shop, to visit a grocery, or for a laundry run.  Needless to say we'd all be better off, and the air would be a lot cleaner without our commutes to work or to the nearest grocery store or strip mall.

That got me to remembering of reading about a planned condo development down near the waterfront in San Diego about 12 years ago.  It was to be a 24 story development with retail space occupying the entire 1st floor.  As I remember the first retail tenants were to be a Sprouts Farmer's Market, a wine bar and a restaurant.  That concept really intrigued me because of the convenience and ambience of being so close to the waterfront where my wife and I often drove to, to walk the waterfront on summer evenings.  

And, with Petco park being just up the street, surrounded by pleasant little bistros and sports bars, the location would have proven to be ideal; food and baseball...two of my favorite hobbies.  And, darn it, we could have swung the price on one of those condos had our timing been perfect.  We ended up selling our home in north San Diego for more than twice what we paid for it.  And, had we waited just one more year before buying another home, we could have scored a huge bargain as those condos fell into the $200,000 dollar range after the 2005 housing crash.  

So, here I am, sitting in record breaking heat in Phoenix, and pondering what could have been.  Just for giggles I just googled the price of those condos today.  A one bedroom, one bath, and 700 square feet of condo runs you at least $400,000 dollars.  The monthly condo fee is $425 per month.  Had we bought in 2006 a 2 bedroom, 2 bath could have been had for less than $200k and I'd be sitting on a $200,000 dollar profit and catching every Padre home game, swimming in the lap pool, working out in the gym and relaxing in the spa.  And if I wanted to pursue a couch potato lifestyle I could just take the elevator down to the wine bar, fuel up on a nice glass of wine and pick up some grub in Spouts, then elevate up to my pad.

Hell, the annual savings in the costs of auto ownership would pay the monthly condo via and I'd be basking in 75 degree summer evenings with the scent of the sea in my nostrils and a cool breeze on my face.  

Probably for the best that it didn't work out.  I'd probably be fighting with the condo board to have an In N Out Burger downstairs.  

Oh well.  

Monday, July 27, 2015

Phone Sex


A few months ago my daughter and granddaughter came to visit. I wanted to take them downtown to a Deli that had been highly recommended. So I had run Mapquest in advance and determined where it was and how to get there. Alas, my dear granddaughter, wanting to insure Papa didn't get lost, had her I-Phone on and programmed to give directions. So, all the way downtown I'm hearing directions being called out on her iPhone. Nearly drove me nuts....kinda like an electronic back seat driver.
I don't and never have owned a smart phone. I still have one of those cheap Chinese flip phones that do just fine and need a charge only every four days or so. I'm too dumb and far too impatient to learn all the ins and outs of a smart phone. I do own an iPod Touch which has many of the features of an iPhone. I used exactly 5% of those features; downloading music and lectures and podcasts. My wife also gave me an iPad that looks lovely sitting, unused, plugged into a wall socket in the living room. I have books and audio books loaded on it but usually just read books off my Amazon Kindle.
So, while I'm plugged into the marvelous world of technology, I only employ it to enjoy books and music. I would far prefer to read the entire text of the Treaty of Versaille than learn how to talk with Siri, or ground out text message (I don't have text service on my dumb phone either). 
So I guess I'll always be a neanderthal when it comes to the wonders of smart phones. They just don't excite me.
I will say my wife has one of those little portable GPS units in her car. She often brings it with her when we travel in mine. Before I pull out of the driveway she's already punching in an address for our destination, then I'm subjected to being told where we're going...even when I know how to get there. A few years ago we were traveling from the Central Valley back to Phoenix. My wife had her GPS fired up and ready to go. Her GPS wanted me to go down to L.A. and pick up highway 10 to Phoenix. Since I love driving in L.A. about as much as I like root canals, I picked up Highway 58 East in Bakersfield, driving over the Tehachipi's, over to Barstow and into Arizona via Highway 40. And for the next two hundred miles that GPS was telling me to turn around and go back to Bakersfield and head down Fwy 5. My wife nearly lost her GPS unit in the middle of the Mojave Desert.
Back to phones again. If you call me on the phone don't bother to leave a message; I have no idea how to retrieve them. If I'm around when the phone rings I'll certainly answer, but if someone has left me a message in the last five years they are off into some electronic Twilight Zone where I fear to tread. 
And if you're expecting a call from me, you'll probably wait awhile. I am also cursed with a phone phobia. I sometimes really want to call someone, but inevitably I always fear that they are just sitting down to dinner and am afraid of making their steak go cold while gabbing with me. Another scenario that stops me cold is calling while my friends or loved ones are in the throes of sex. 
But when you people aren't eating, or having sex, you are more than welcome to call me. If I don't answer just leave a message.  smile emoticon

Friday, July 24, 2015

Liquid Assets


When 40 million people in the Southwest get up in the morning, brush their teeth, have a glass of water, or make their coffee, they ought to give a nod to our creator. That water came from the mighty Colorado river that sustains those 40 million in seven American states and two Mexican states. 
The mighty flow of the Colorado begins with a single drop of snow melt, from the mountains of Wyoming and Colorado, joins with hundreds of billions of other single drops, and begins a massive flow, first southward, then turning southwest, pouring out more than 18 million acre feet of water per year that once flooded low lying areas before rushing to the sea. Over the millennia it carved out the mighty Grand Canyon, a grand display of its might.
Before the Colorado was tamed in the 20th century only the native people and a few brave pioneers dared to live in the parched and arid southwest. Then, a hundred years ago, man began to tame the Colorado, building dams at a dozen major points and hundreds more at the river's tributaries. As the Colorado moves down the 1,450 mile path to the sea it is diverted time and time again, to water lush croplands, to provide hydroelectric power, to quench the thirst of 40 million people and to provide lush "rest stops" for tens of thousands of waterfowl. And even away from the mighty river's primary flows, its waters feed underground rivers that fill aquifers far below that act as hundred mile sponges that sustain life where no life would be possible without them.
Man's dominance of the mighty Colorado is such that, now, less than ten percent of the Colorado's water ever reaches the sea. Alas, we have been accustomed to believing we don't live in a desert and are now taxing the capacity of even the mighty Colorado to sustain the millions who come to the American Southwest each year. That doesn't mean we haven't tried; the people of Nevada and Arizona use less water today than we did 20 years ago, despite a doubling or tripling of our state's population. 
It looks like we'll have to do more. We've got to employ greater water conservation measures just to sustain what we have now.
I remember, as a young four year old boy, migrating from Oklahoma to California. We stopped our old pickup truck and walked out onto the bridge over the Colorado that separates California and Arizona. I remember looking down into the brown, rumbling waters as the Colorado still roared mightily to the was a bit scary looking down at it. Another 30 million people have moved into the southwest since then. Where there were once deserts with cacti and sage, there now are date farms and lettuce fields and cattle ranches and dairy farms and green alfalfa fields and mighty cities rising to the skies.
And it all began with a single drop of snow melt some 1,450 miles up stream, in the majestic mounts of Wyoming and Colorado. God's bounty, no more evident than right here in the southwest where Eden was created.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

A Lifetime of Migration


A couple of weeks ago, while sharing lunch with my cousin, Tammy, and her Okie family, they mentioned they intended to drive over to California. They wanted to see the ocean for the first time.
The comment registered with me, but I didn't give that idea much thought until a couple of days later. Then, as I thought about Tammy and company hitting that Pacific beach, I thought about my own Okie trek from Prague, Oklahoma to California in 1952. Even as a young child I felt the romance of meandering across old Route 66, the adults up in the cab, we kids riding under a tarp in the back. We had the canvas water bag hung on the hood ornament up front, the hemp wrapped water jugs and a box of food up in the cab, a loaf of white bread and cans of spam and potted meat and a jar of pickles to sustain us over the 1300 miles westward.

Monday, July 20, 2015

Islam; Religion of Peace


Last Thursday morning, as the morning dawn cast its first golden rays over the Tennessee River, four marines and a sailor jumped out of bed, washed their faces, brushed their teeth, downed some Cheerios, or greek yogurt, or scrambled eggs, donned their uniforms, and set off for work. And just about the time they might have gone out to lunch, four marines were dead and doctors were pumping 150 pints of blood through the sailor in a desperate effort to save this life.

But Islam is a peaceful religion; our President tells us so each and every day.

A few years ago, on a lovely April morning in Boston, thousands of runners gathered in the pre-dawn streets, stretching out, jogging in place to ward off the early morning cold. These too were some of America's finest people. They were lean and healthy and celebrating their fitness. Among them were first grade teachers, warehousers, doctors, nurses, military vets, mattress salesmen, Starbucks baristas, ministers, convenience stores clerks, and god knows how many other careers were represented. But, by noon, three of them were dead and 264 injured, their legs and arms lying in the street like so much municipal refuse.

But Islam is a peaceful religion; our President tells us so each and every day.

On September 11, 2001 thousands of people were already at work in the World Trade Center Towers that morning. They gathered around water coolers, talking about their weekend, the upcoming work week, debating the relative merit of the Yankees, the Mets, the Giants...and who might win the World Series, or the Superbowl. And before their first cup of coffee 3,000 of them would be crushed, burned alive, or jump to their death from the 40th floor.

But Islam is a peaceful religion; our President tells us so each and every day.

Each and every day, in the Middle East, thousands of Christians are slaughtered, their churches burned, their little girls, as young as five, enslaved as prostitutes for ISIS warriors. When that isn't violent enough they march the Christians down to the river and behead them.

But Islam is a peaceful religion; our President tells us so each and every day.

And, this week, in celebration of the glory of Islam, our President ordered 13 tons of gold be returned to Iran, and freed up tens of billions of dollars in Iranian bank accounts, for Iran's promise that, with 24 days notice, Nuclear Weapon Inspectors can come in and take a look......if Iranian Mullah's feel like it. Sanctions have been lifted and Iranian oil is now free to flow again, enriching Iranian coffers so that they can fund further foment in the Middle East. The four American prisoners being held in Iran are still prisoners. Iran is free to continue their "Death To Israel" campaign and our President loves the treaty so much he "dissed" the lone journalist who dared to ask him why he didn't insist on the release of our prisoners as conditions for the treaty.

The Emperor spoke and Islam is a peaceful religion, and Iran is trustworthy....and he didn't want to insult the Iranians by asking for a prisoner release.

So, forget those marines who died last week. Forget those hundreds of Boston Marathon tragedies. Forget the 3,000 who died on 9/11, and forget the military men and women who gave their lives in the war on terror............our President has declared that Islam is a peaceful religion and all of the Americans who died in the name of Islam are simply sacrificial lambs in our President's monumental campaign to forge a new world order that proclaims that America and Americans are not special, never have been...and are indeed, expendable to achieve his aims for the triumph of Islam around the globe.

Sunday, July 19, 2015

A Sweet Deal...But Not For You!


There's not one single one of you who hasn't read about all the massive billion dollar fines that our government assessed on the big banks in recent years.  Punishment for manipulating interest rates, mortgage fraud, creating fake world currency rates for fun and profit.  Those fines, as you know, are paid into the U.S. Treasury, supposedly to the benefit of all of us, right?

Well, I just found out something that caused the remaining two dozen hair follicles to slide right off the top of my head.  All those fines on the banks are tax deductible!  Yes, I said tax deductible!

How is that punishment when banks can write off their punishment?  How does that even prevent further fraud and abuse of our financial system?

Let me bring this down to street level.  Let's say you get a parking ticket, or a speeding ticket, or get fined for not having your dog's license?  Or you pay a late fee for your property tax check not getting to the county treasurer on time.  You SHOULD be able to write those off as a tax deduction, right?  WRONG!  Those sweet deductions are only for the rich and powerful!

Sweet deal, huh?

Saturday, July 18, 2015

"Going Home"


Last Sunday night, at 7:30 PM. just as an evening sunset set the western skies ablaze, one of our local vets pulled into the parking lot of our local VA office, stepped out of his car and put a gun to his head. 
He was just one of 22 vets who commit suicide each day, according to the VA. This one they didn't have to run the numbers on...they only needed to walk out into their own parking lot. To fully comprehend the scope of these tragedies one only need look at the numbers. While only 1% of the U.S. population choose to serve in the military, an astounding 22 percent of all suicides are military veterans. 
Since 2003 more veterans have died by suicide than have died in combat. There are more than 55,000 names on the Vietnam Memorial and more than twice that number of military vets have taken their own lives. The folks who study these numbers say the overwhelming cause is PTSD; not only dealing with the horror of war but, perhaps harder, learning to integrate back into a society that has never seen the horror and can't begin to understand it. 
Even soldiers who've witnessed the horror of war don't always process it until much later. In Vietnam you could see a thousand dead Viet Cong bodies stacked like firewood on the base perimeter, and you process those as "body count" is not until you come home and those bodies spring back to life, and haunt you in your dreams, does the horror become real. 
And so, we bring those vets home, and rightly or wrongly, we turn them over to civilian medical personnel who haven't a clue what's inside a vet's head, and those bureaucrats begin treating vets as just another number, a body to process through the system, a statistic to be posted in some file that might earn them a bonus. And even the good ones don't or can't take the time to understand. While a medic on the battlefield will risk his own life to save a comrade, the VA folks here man a desk and can't muster one tenth of the heroism necessary to treat and save a veteran.
Someone once wrote that those who commit suicide are not cowards; they're just angels who want to go "home". Tragically, far too many vets just never make it "home."

Friday, July 17, 2015

Toxic Hubris


Do you remember your 5th grade Greek Mythology lessons?  The Greeks always had a mythical moral tale to explain what offends the gods.  I was always intrigued by the story of Icarus and his wax wings, defying his father and flying too close to the sun, and falling into death and ruin.  So yesterday, when it was revealed that Pete Rose bet on baseball as both player AND manager, I couldn't help but think of the long line of people who have fallen into ruin through their own hubris.  Franklin Roosevelt was never as successful in passing legislation after he tried to pack the Supreme Court.  George Patton should have been revered as our greatest 20th century general, but he believed he was immune from bad behavior.  Richard Nixon crushed George McGovern in the '72 Presidential election but he wanted destroy...and he needed Watergate to make that happen.  Slick Willie Clinton believed his great good fortune that capital gains profits from the internet boom allowed him to balance the budget, also believed that he could get blow jobs in the Oval Office without consequences nearly did him in.  He was saved only by the fact that American morals had declined so precipitously that too few Americans cared about the sanctity of the White House anymore.  And now we have an ineffective and bumbling community organizer as President who is the poster child for hubris.  Funk and Wagnalls dictionary will no doubt post his pic next to the word on their next publication date.

And, it seems no matter how many times notables and celebrities are brought down, no one seems to have learned a lesson from it.  In sports we had arrogant and vicious Barry Bonds, and Roger Clemmons and Mark McGuire and Sammy Sosa, all great players, resort to cheating in order to rise even higher.  We see it in rap artists....multimillionaires....whose millions never seem to make them content.  Instead they resort to wallowing in violence and the demeaning of the soul.  

What we, as mere mortals, need to take from this is that money and fame do not guarantee happiness.  Nor does living a life totally free of moral values does not bring happiness.  The only sure thing to guarantee a life of contentment is to find your "moral center" and abide by it.  One does not even have to adhere to a religious code.  Thank goodness our God instilled in us the ability to know what is right and wrong...all we need do is listen to our own hearts and try our best to do what we know is right...and avoid as much as possible doing what we clearly know is wrong.  

We see an Icarus nearly every day....from an internet story, or from reading the headlines of our local newspaper.  Why is it so damn hard for us to learn from all these celebrity failures...these wild rides on wax wings?  If we ever hope to be happy we've got to dampen down all the "white noise"...from celebrities, from politicians...and pay a little more attention to what our hearts are telling us.  

Thursday, July 16, 2015

"The Freeze Of "73"


108 degrees in Phoenix today. Got me to wishing for a cool spell. Which got me to thinking about the The Great Freeze of '73 up in North Dakota. A freak cold front moved in on the 20th of July and drove the temperature down to -150 degrees. It was too cold to snow but the freeze snapped both the electric and telephone lines and cut us off from both communications and light. Then the gas lines froze and we were without heat in the house. 

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

The Epidemic of Liberalism


I've come to believe that liberalism is a disease. The national discussion is no longer a debate about how to resolve our is an all out war on the truth. To wit, I was scrolling through FB this morning and found a post about demonizing Republicans for not lowering the interest on student loan rates. Not only is the post misleading; it also ignores the problems regarding student death entirely. With the exception of Keynesian economist Paul Friedman, every economist in the country has said our trillion dollar student loan debt is going to bring about the next economic collapse. 

Monday, July 13, 2015

"Hope? Or Hypocricy?"


We are soon coming up on the 36th anniversary of Jimmy Carter's famous "Malaise Speech". Most of you young people will not remember it. On 17 July 1979 Carter made a national address to the nation. In that speech he preached to the American people. He said we were selfish. He said we were lazy. He accused us of not going along with his programs. He blamed us for his 20 percent annual inflation rates, surging gas prices and the housing slump. He said we were running out of oil and were too stupid to understand that, in ten years, America would run out of oil. He said we need to "think small."
So let me ask you this; if you sat down with your children, and you told them they were bad, and selfish, and stupid, would that make them better children? What if we did the exact opposite? What if we told them that we admire them, that they are capable of achieving anything if they're willing to work for it? What if we told them they can determine their own future and their future is limitless? Which approach do you believe would achieve the best results?
Alas, Obama has made Carter look like a wild eyed optimist. For seven years now he has preached the religion of "Obama". Anyone who dares disagree with him is demonized...indeed persecuted...whether it be the Tea Party, or those "wild eyed radical terroristic old people who didn't agree with having $700 billion dollars stolen from the Medicare trust fund, or the Tea Party whom the IRS persecuted, or even Congress and the Supreme Court...Obama has taken them all on and denigrated them for not bowing to "his emperorship". Of late we've had Obama telling us how racist we are because some nut shot up a church. Through every tragedy Obama has chosen to politicize and exploit the tragedy instead of offering solace and comfort and healing.
President Ronald Reagan achieved many great things, but perhaps the most important thing he did was to give America back her spirit. He brought a sense of optimism back. He vowed that our future was golden and espoused that we are limited only by those constraints we place upon ourselves. He trumpeted American goodness and American greatness. He reminded us of the special role America has played in bring both freedom and prosperity to the world. And, miraculously, Reagan won the hearts of citizens, both Democrat and Republican, because they were so damn tired of being told how bad there are!
So, again I ask; whether it be children, or citizen, what's the better approach? Do we browbeat and demonize and castigate? Or do we instill a sense of pride and hope in child or citizen? You will decide which approach you prefer in November 2016. Do we send the arrogant "preacher" packing and elect hope? Or will we elect another arrogant and corrupt, hypocritic "preacher" who will only reinforce negativity and gain negative results.? Yes, Hillary has promised to carry on in the tradition of Carter and decide.

Friday, July 10, 2015

Starbucks; The Perfect 47% Business Model


Starbucks just announced this week that they're  hiking the price of a cup of coffee from 5 to 20 cents.  That sounds rather small, but with their previous, and frequent price hikes consumers are now rapidly approaching the $6 dollar coffee threshold.  And I think that's marvelous.  After all, the zombies stupid enough to pay $6 bucks for a cup of coffee are the same people who believe we ought to give burger flippers $15 an hour, and as long as the Starbuck zombies are footing the bill I'm fine with it.

For the pitiful few who don't know, Howard Schultz, CEO of Starbucks, is that rare business socialist who gives a 20 hour a week employee a nice salary, a 401k (with employer match), health and life insurance, a free pound of tea and coffee per week and a 30% employee discount for anything they wish to buy.  Starbucks provides paid vacations each year and, if you knock up the sweet barista working next to you, Schultz will provide 6 months of both maternity and paternity leave so you can both "bond" with your little bastard child, conceived without benefit of marriage.  Ain't that great?

And last year old Howie upped the benefit ante quite a lot.  He's now paying his 20 hour per week employees the full costs of a four year college degree!

Again, I think this is marvelous!  Howard Schultz has made himself a liberal god and his zombie customers seem all too willing to pay for it with their $5.00 lattes!  What could be better; whatever Howie can suck from his customers is just that much less that his crop of millenials will be taking from the public trough!

I'm something of a coffee snob myself.  But I drink my Peet's Coffee, Goruda Blend at home for less than a buck a day......think I've been in a Starbucks twice in the last 20 years and didn't find the coffee worth the price.

But I'm glad there's a sufficient number of zombies who'll fund Howie's socialist goals!  I remember a few years back Starbucks ran into a bit of a consumer price revolt and Howie had to retrench and close some Starbucks franchises and trim costs.  But, thank goodness a whole new crop of Starbucks zombies came into their coffee drinking years and joined the other lemmings more than willing to pay $5 bucks for a cup of joe.

Here's to you, Howie!  Why don't you shoot for retirement at 35 years of age next...that worked out so well for Greece!

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

"Loony Tunes"


"Cariacature: make or give a comically or grotesquely exaggerated representation of (someone or something)."
Barack Hussein Obama was in Wisconsin this week. I saw the headline about it and immediately began to laugh and shake my head. Barry, with 17 months left, still "campaigning", the only thing he's ever shown he can do. Give the guy a stage and a teleprompter and wind him up and Barry will give his "stump speech", the one we've now heard for seven years. 
Leadership? Not so much. He's been to Capitol Hill about as often as Brad Pitt and Jennifer Anniston get together. But Barry's great with "shuck and jive" and blaming Bush some seven years since he took the helm of the Presidency himself. The only jobs he's created is in the White House. He's enriched the White House travel office and, while Laura Bush had a staff of one, Michelle needs 22 to do the same thing. 
As indicated by his approval ratings, more than half of America have stopped listening to Barry. He should be thankful he's blessed with a liberal electorate either drunk on the Kool Aid, or so remarkably dumb they couldn't name the three branches of government if you spotted them Congress and The Supremes.
Just read that Barry authorized returning 13 tons of Iranian gold, even before any nuclear treaty is signed. And John Kerry's busy this weekend; giving "Monica Lewinskies" to the Iranian negotiators in hopes an accord can be struck before today's deadline, Barry's second "red line in the sand" drawn for his Muslim pals.
Meanwhile, Hillary is out campaigning in New Hampshire. She employed campaign aides to rope off your 5th Amendment press corp, keeping them far away from her lest they ask her a question about missing emails or Benghazi. That didn't seem to stop the crowd as they shouted questions at Hillary about both subjects all the way down the holiday parade route. 
Perhaps we can declare our Independence once again in November, 2016 and send Bill and Hillary back to rubber chicken circuit, hawking for more billions. Then we can all delight in watching the Mayflower Moving Van backing up to the south portico of the White House in January, 2017 and send Barry and Michelle back to Chicago where they can busy themselves registering Democratic voters from local cemeteries.

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

"The Claw"

Okay, I'm the guy who received the award for never falling for a pitch from Avon, or the Tupperware lady, or anything ever sold on TV. I'm your champion cynic. But, somehow in my old age dotage, I've become susceptible to the idea that you can get something for nothing.

So, last month I'm surfing Amazon and I come across this backscratcher. It's got a telescopic handle that extends to two feet or so. The back scratcher is called "The Claw" and the name alone sold me. And it didn't hurt that I pretty well go into an orgasm when I can get my back scratched. And since I'm lacking anyone who has the patience to scratch my back for more than 15 seconds, I felt this would be a great deal! And since it was free ($1.74 shipping charge) that was even better! 

Well, old cynical me, I still wasn't totally sold until I read the Amazon reviews. And they were amazing! Everyone seemed to write that this back scratcher was better than sex....some said "I can't describe the feeling that first time you put The Claw to use!"

So, today, having nearly forgotten that I ordered the thing, I get a little plastic pouch in the mail and it's got Chinese writing all over it. I open the pouch and The Claw looks pretty's got a professional looking rubber handle and it indeed telescopes out from the six inch or so size when shipped to an impressive two feet or so. 

So, telescope the little dude out to full length and shove it down my shirt...and I'm not getting any warm abrasiveness from the claw head that might send me into nirvana. So I pull it back out of my shirt and touch the claw head, and it's made of some kind of plastic....the kind of material that those little gum ball toys are made of. And the plastic claws are so dull they can't possible do the job of scratching my back.

So, by now I'm in a bit of a fowl mood...the "cynical shopper" has been had, even at the cost of $1.74! First of all I'm almost sure my purchase contributed to the misery of a Chinese one can make and ship this from China and make a profit unless he's employing prisoners to make the thing! Secondly, I'm wondering how Amazon had all those rave reviews for this thing!

So I go back on Amazon and I again review the product review. (4 stars, baby!). And I'm convinced they are all paid reviewers by China. Maybe they've imported some unemployed American English majors to sit at old IBM Selectric typewriters and pound out the praise! I'm shocked!

Just as a footnote, those inscrutable Chinese vendors have now reversed their marketing strategy! The Claw is now priced at $1.74 with free shipping!

Still, I wonder, how is American labor ever going to compete with Chinese who can make a back scratcher and ship it 10,000 miles for a $1.74! 

Gotta go now, I'm busy watching an infomercial for a vegetable chopper price at $5.99 (and second one free...just pay shipping and handling). Anyone got a time share in Florida they might want to dump on me? Cause the "cynical shopper" has already been had!

Monday, July 6, 2015

H.R. 40; Senate Bill To Pay Black Reparations


Every year since 1989, Senator John Conyers, a Black Democrat from Michigan has introduced H.R. 40, a bill that would pay reparations to Blacks today for the slavery that ended 150 years ago.  Conyers argued that paying every Black in America $200,000  dollars would go far in improving Black-White relations.  (I might argue that the $100 trillion of federal, state and municipal dollars we've already spent on the War on Poverty programs since 1964 just might be sufficient...43% of which was given out to Blacks in the form of welfare, Section 8 housing, free medical care, free school breakfast and lunches, in addition to billions spent on "urban renewal).  

But let's say Senator Conyers gets his way.  (In today's madness, he just might.)  In that case I wonder if we couldn't bill the Democratic National Committee for the cost of Black Reparations?  After all it was the Democrats who started the Civil War, it was the Democrats who held Blacks in slavery.  It was the Democrats who started the KKK and it was the Democrats who battled tooth and nail to stop the Civil Rights Bills of 1957 and 1964!  And it was a Republican President who signed the Emancipation Proclamation.

So, if we can ban a Confederate flag for the sins of our Southern ancestors, why the hell not punish the Democrats for their blatant opposition to Civil Rights.  Hell, I'd like them to pay reparations for the 600,000 men who died fighting the Civil War!  

So let's see if we can't get "billionaire through marriage to a pickle queen", John Kerry to kick in a hundred million.  And Bill and Hillary could kick in another $100 million from their slush fund.  Nancy Pelosi's husband is a billionaire banker from California so a $100 million from him wouldn't bust the bank.  Harry Reid made millions from shady real estate deals in exchange for favorable Senate legislation....let's hit Harry up for a donation.  And could we get Al Sharpton to pay up on his back taxes if we promised it would go toward Black Reparations?  How about liberal darling and multi-billionaire George Soros?  Wouldn't he kick in a billion or two?  

So, go ahead and pass H.R. 40 United States Senate!  But don't send me the ancestors were as poor as slaves themselves...just pitiful sharecroppers!  Nope...send the bill to the Democratic party and let them pay the bill!  Then, when they aren't voting to spend OUR money, let's see how excited they are about doling out their own!

Sunday, July 5, 2015

Breaking News


Breaking News
Dateline 5 July, 2015 (NYC)
(AP) Stephen B. Burke, Chairman and CEO of NBC/Universal announced today that, effective Monday, 6 July, 2015, NBC News and NBC Entertainment will no longer broadcast images, speeches, or political opinion regarding conservative political issues. Burke further declared that NBC is culling its current entertainment programming package to eliminate shows which might reflect detrimentally on gays, Hispanics, or liberal politicians. 
Accordingly, The Most Reverend Al Sharpton will take the helm of "Celebrity Apprentice", "A.D. The Bible Continues" will be cancelled because it perpetuates outmoded religious principles not in keeping with today's secular American audience. "Blacklist" will also be shown the door because the term "Black" itself is pejorative and may lead some viewers to perceive African Americans in a negative light. 
Burke stated that, in keeping with NBC's "Lean Forward" campaign they will no longer provide coverage of the Republican National Convention nor any of the Republican debates. Burke stated that far too many of the Republican candidates hold political and social views not in keeping with the network's liberal moral standards, nor that of its viewers.
NBC also announced that it is relaxing its policy on news anchors making political donations to Democratic candidates. Burke was quoted as saying "in today's world we believe our outstanding news journalists should enjoy the freedom to donate to the Democratic political candidates of their choice without worrying about restrictions on pursuing their liberal political beliefs.
In the wake of Donald Trump's criticism of some illegal Hispanics as being rapists and murderers, Burke issued a forewarning to anyone who opts to denigrate undocumented immigrants; "Our corporate culture and corporate policy will no longer tolerate criticism of the Hispanic culture, whether legal, or "undocumented" as that kind of language is offensive to our NBC Univision viewers."
"Comcast/NBC Universal looks forward to advancing the social agenda of America today." Accordingly, our news and entertainment divisions will do all we can to promote positive images of the LGBT community, work to relax immigration restrictions at our southern border, and, here to fore will no longer tolerate the prejudicial views of the religious right nor any conservative political opinion that is abhorrent to our corporate culture."

Saturday, July 4, 2015

"Divine Providence"


July 2nd, 1826.  Thomas Jefferson lay in his bed at Monticello, his life force quickly dwindling to the final hours.  He looked down,  to the polished oak floor as the early morning sun cast warm light through his bedroom window, and pondered his last hours.   No one knows what he was thinking but he knew the historical significance of this day....a day when a young red-head from the mountains of Virginia sat quietly in the back of Freedom Hall and listened as others spoke.  The other delegates often talked about the quiet spoken fellow who expressed himself better with pen and paper.  Earlier in June, it was the fiery John Adams who suggested Jefferson should write the Declaration of American Independence.  Though Adams and Franklin joined Jefferson as a committee of three to write it, it would be Jefferson who sat alone in his room and penned the document that would be praised, indeed worshipped, by people not yet in the darkness.  

"We hold these truths to be self evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness."

Those words had such elegance that it would be copied in over a hundred other national declarations over the next two centuries.  

The vote for independence was actually voted on, on July 2nd, but it would not be ratified and published until the 4th.  

No doubt Jefferson, as he lay on his death bed, was well aware of the day.  And surely, his mind roamed over the events since; the death of his wife, of children, of political sparring with Adams and Hamilton over the philosophies of supremacy of the individual over the state.  He would remember his election as President in 1801, and the second American revolution as Jefferson tore down much of the monarchial laws instituted by Adams.  And it would take years for Jefferson and Adams to patch up their differences and re-new their friendship.

While Jefferson lay dying in Monticello, John Adams lay dying up in Quincy, Massachusetts. Storm clouds had hovered all day above Peace Field Farm, Adam's beloved home.  Adams, bedridden as well, must have thought some on his old friend down in Virginia.  They had resumed their correspondence, shared their griefs, pondered the state of the nation, spoke of their own imminent deaths and the promise of reunion with their loved ones.  Even Jefferson, most of his life a religious skeptic, seemed to embrace the idea of a heaven in his later years.  

On the 3rd both old freedom warriors drifted in and out of a stupor.  While Adams slept fitfully through his night, Jefferson awoke at 9PM of the 3rd and asked "is it the 4th?"  "Nearly so", he was told.  Jefferson awoke again at 4AM but didn't speak.  On the 4th, around noon, as church bells in Charlottesville rang out in celebration of the 4th, Jefferson rallied for a few moments, spoke briefly to his loved ones, then died.

Up in Quincy, John Adams was also in his last hours.  Adams passed at 6:20 PM on the 4th, and not knowing of Jefferson's death, uttered "Jefferson survives."  Within moments of Adams' death a violent thunderstorm began; it shook the old farm house and rattled the eaves, and left the family gathered around his death bed awestruck at its timeliness.

In those times it would be several days before the nation learned of the two deaths, within hours, on the glorious 4th.   Once it reached the newspapers, the nation's citizens were stunned by the happenstance of the two founding fathers.  People took it as a sign from God, a "divine providence" as if God were saying "I am well pleased" their work and in the infant nation's direction.  It set off a hail storm of parlor talk; about Washington's miraculous escape from the British in New York, about the Christmas night crossing of the Delaware, the attack on the Hessians and the first American victory.  A new appreciation was offered for a rag tag army of patriots who defeated the world's greatest power and securing a form of government of and for the people.

No doubt, the statisticians today would fire up their super computers, and proclaim two founding giants dying on the same day, mere coincidence.  I'm just naive and stupid enough to believe it was indeed "divine providence"...that our Creator was telling us, if we stay on the right track, if we maintain a degree of morality and goodness, His favor is unlimited.  How could I not?  For two hundred years after the death of Jefferson and Adams America has advanced and prospered and became the envy of the world.  Alas, these days our "divine providence" is very much in jeopardy.  God help us all.

Friday, July 3, 2015

"The Forest For The Trees..."


I've often written that you can't really appreciate America until you've lived away from her.  Kind of a "you can't see the forest for the trees" kind of thing.  You live in someone else's country and you quickly see how marvelous our great country is.

I missed being home during the 1976 American Bi-Centennial.  I was stationed in Korea at the time.  But Armed Forces Television kept us up to the date on the various doings throughout the year.  I particularly remember a series of short subjects that NBC ran during the year.  They were called "History Rocks" and they were meant to teach our children a bit of our history.  (We could certainly use those little history lessons today.)

I remember having a rare weekend off as America celebrated her 200th birthday.  So I took a bus from Kunsan Air Base, in the far south, all the way up to the capitol of Seoul.  I took a room in the Hamilton Hotel, a rather run down military hotel in the heart of Seoul.  Yongsan Air Base was nearby so I walked over to the base and had lunch in the enlisted club.  On the way back to the hotel I stopped at many of the little street booths that lined the streets outside the base.  Every Korean seemed to be selling little American flags, and paintings of George Washington, or the Washington D.C. doubt appealing to G.I. homesickness and exploiting it for profit.  But I also sensed a real joy the Koreans felt in sharing our American birthday.  Many of those same street vendors had families who had fled south from their North Korean and Chinese invaders two decades past so they had a real appreciation that we were stationed in their country...enforcing a truce from a war that had never really been settled.

When I returned to my hotel room I turned on Armed Forces television and watched the Saturday night events that preceded the big day on Sunday.  Being 13 hours ahead of New York City time, Armed Forces television had the luxury of time record the events in Philadelphia and Boston and play them back for us serving overseas.

America back then was trying hard to heal herself; from Nixon's resignation, and from our withdrawal and the eventual fall of Vietnam.   I guess the Bicentennial celebration was our way of saying, we're down now, but look how far we've come in 200 years....choosing to remember our triumphs instead of our defeats.  And we seemed to need this celebration badly.

On Sunday evening I took a bus back down to Kunsan.  As we travelled down that central corridor of the country I looked out on farmland, and on infant trees, planted to replace the thousands of trees the Japanese had cut down to fuel their war machine thirty years earlier, leaving the country bare and barren.  I thought of how many Americans had died, at the Chosun Reservoir and elsewhere, to give these people breathing room....a chance to rebuild their nation.  And I was so proud of my country...and I missed her dearly on this 4th of July.

The next morning I woke up early and went over to the chow hall for breakfast before I reported for duty.  And as I sat and ate my SOS breakfast I joined with the other guys to watch the celebrations on Armed Forces television.  As I watched the tall ships sail into New York harbor the chill bumps ran up my arms and I had never felt so proud of my country.  

Perhaps the folks sitting harbor side there in New York were more joyful.  Maybe their eyes danced in delight at the magnificent fireworks displays and maybe they heard "Stars and Stripes Forever" a little more clearly than I did.  But I don't think they could have appreciated it nearly as much as I,  as I sat there and missed and admired the country of my birth.

Happy 4h everyone.

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Methane Madness


The Supremes have been busy this month....seconding Emperor Obama's Health care mandate, and declaring free speech on license plates not free after all.  They still have to rule on gay marriage.  

But the biggest ruling that's going to affect your pocketbook is the one being fought between the EPA and the coal industry.  Barry has said coal has to go.  Never mind that it still provides 67 percent of our energy's nasty and he doesn't mind us paying 300% higher electric bills.  Should the Supreme Court decide that the EPA's dictatorship over the nation's power source is valid, no one has been able to gauge the impact on consumer electric rates nor how big a hit our economy takes as factories are forced to pay triple digit increases for their power.  It will certainly generate inflation as those costs are passed on to the consumer, and it's not going to do a lot to help American companies compete in the world market.  

But, sadly, that's not even the worst news.  The EPA, already anticipating victory in the courts, have set their sights on the American beef industry.  How many of you know that cattle methane creates more pollution than all  the coal plants combined?

Well EPA has an answer for that as well.  They have been working with world environmental officials at the United Nations to halve beef production in the next ten years.   The United Nations has already declared the United States as a "major polluter" due to our substantial cattle production.  They have already declared that Americans must find alternatives to beef in their diet.  The chief "poobah" at the UN says Americans need to be consuming more grains and meat should be less than ten percent of our diet if the world is to be saved.  

(Of course, Congress, The Supreme Court, the leadership of the UN and the President will be exempt from these mandates.  Barry's got to have his hamburgs and Filet Mignon is still on the menu at the White House)

Any questions?