Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Job Creation Obama Style

You know – I’ll freely admit I’m not the smartest man in the world. Not even close. I’m not even sure what I’m doing half the time, let alone what others are doing. But I pay attention to politics and what’s going on in the country, and get involved in discussions mostly as a hobby. I get lots of good stuff for the blog that way. A couple of things happened last week that have me scratching my head and thinking “Huh?”

First of all the Obama administration nixed the Keystone oil pipeline from Canada, at least for now. Citing a need for more environmental studies, even knowing the number of jobs the project will create in our slow and floundering economy, the President seems to be bowing to environmentalists (part of his base) in refusing to make a final decision until after the November election. The pipeline construction, maintenance and operation is estimated to create around 20,000 jobs. Yes, that’s 20 thousand.

The bottom line is that the Unites States does not have available, at this time, any reasonable, affordable alternative energy source for oil. Our vehicles run on oil and oil products. Certainly there are electric vehicles out there but there are none affordable for the average American at this time, particularly in light of the current economy. We are going to be dependent on oil for the next ten to fifteen years regardless of what other energy sources are developed. Sure, we need alternative energy sources. I have no problem with that. But in the meantime continuing our dependence on Middle Eastern oil rather than getting it from Canada (and developing our own) is simply ridiculous. Yet we slap ourselves in the face over and over by refusing to do things for ourselves.

Secondly, the Defense Department recently awarded a $345 million contract for military light attack aircraft to Sierra Nevada Corporation who, in turn, will be working with a Brazilian company, Embraer, to produce the planes. According the Hawker Beechcraft Corporation the government didn’t even allow their company to bid on the contract and therefore the awarding of the contract was unfair. They also claim that their AT-6 aircraft performed better than the Brazilian made counterpart and that it was more popular with the pilots that tested the planes.
Awarded to a stateside company the contract would have provided at least 1400 jobs, mostly union jobs, and would have kept the money and employment in the United States. Instead the planes will be fabricated mostly in Brazil and those jobs will not materialize here in the U.S.

In 2010, there was an accident on the Deepwater Horizon oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico that caused millions of barrels of oil to be released into the Gulf. All offshore drilling and oil production was halted by the President pending cleanup of the spill and research into how to prevent it from happening again. Even after the spill was capped, offshore oil production was left dormant for six months, leaving thousands of people out of work in an economy that was already hurting. New offshore drilling is questionable at best due to pressures from environmentalists yet, last year the President approved a $2 billion loan to Brazil to help them implement their offshore oil program. Rather than open new wells in our own waters and explore new oil fields (such as ANWR) the President is helping other countries develop their oil programs and assisting them with job creation. (And by the way – if offshore oil drilling is too dangerous to the environment why are we assisting other countries in the development of their own offshore oil program?)

So my simple mind is having difficulty understanding how these decisions to keep Americans out of work are being made. (I'm sure some of you are agreeing with the "simple mind" part.) Alaska has a pipeline. It was condemned by environmentalists, during construction, as being dangerous to the environment and wildlife yet it’s been in operation for decades with very few problems. So I’m having trouble understanding what the problem is with the new pipeline. It seems environmentalists merely like to prevent humans from progressing forward and, in some cases, from surviving at all. Take the case in the San Joaquin Valley in California. In 2009, the irrigation systems were closed by the government because a 2 inch minnow living in the canal has been placed on the endangered species list and it occasionally gets caught in the irrigation pumps. Environmentalists, in their love to protect animals of all types, completely disregarded the people living in the area in favor of the fish. The farmers were out of work and their families were hungry yet the environmentalists, aided by the government, told the farmers they and their families are irrelevant. One has to wonder about the sanity of those who place animal life over that of human families.

A large part of President Obama’s State of the Union address had to do with jobs and the economy for working class Americans. He paraded figures that were supposed to indicate a recovering jobs market. He promised middle class America that more jobs would be coming their way. He told them to rely on him and the government to help create jobs so that families could keep their homes and recover from the economic funk the nation is in.

Obviously, while the President was standing before Congress and the nation telling them one thing, he was actually doing the opposite. President Obama had the opportunity to create nearly 22,000 jobs which would have been a step forward in his promise to the American people. Instead he and his administration have proceeded to deny jobs through their actions and, in the case of our new military aircraft, send jobs overseas. Change we can believe in? Maybe not…

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Insidious

/inˈsidēəs/ Adjective: Proceeding in a gradual, subtle way, but with harmful effects


During his State of the Union address the other night, President Obama said “The executive branch also needs to change. Too often, it’s inefficient, outdated and remote. That’s why I’ve asked this Congress to grant me the authority to consolidate the federal bureaucracy so that our Government is leaner, quicker, and more responsive to the needs of the American people.”

What exactly does that mean, I wonder? Is the President trying to change the way our government is set up, with a balance of power, so that all the power falls under the Executive Branch? If that happens the President will have the authority to do anything and everything without the consent of the Congress or Senate, thus making them obsolete and making him, in all reality, a dictator.

Our Constitution delineates a system of separation of powers in which the three branches of government can check and balance each other. The men who wrote the Constitution, intelligent as they were, spread the powers of government among these three branches to keep any one branch of government from becoming too powerful. Now the President is calling that system “obsolete and outdated”, which is another reason it was set up that way. By design, the President cannot lay claim to all the power in our government. If the Legislative Branch gives its authority to the President we no longer have a democratic republic but an authoritarian government. Hopefully this will be another request from the President that goes unheeded.

In other news, the President spoke of “fairness” the other night when it comes to taxes and everyone paying their fair share. This seems interesting in light of the following story…

“A new report just out from the Internal Revenue Service reveals that 36 of President Obama’s executive office staff owe the country $833,970 in back taxes. These people working for “Mr. Fair Share” haven’t paid any share, let alone their fair share.

Previous reports have shown how well-paid Obama’s White House staff is, with 457 aides pulling down more than $37 million last year. That’s up seven workers and nearly $4 million from the Bush administration’s last year.

Nearly one-third of Obama’s aides make more than $100,000 with 21 being paid the top White House salary of $172,000, each.

The IRS’ 2010 delinquent tax revelations come as part of a required annual agency report on federal employees’ tax compliance. Turns out, an awful lot of folks being paid by taxpayers are not paying their own income taxes.”

Another example of “Do as I say, not as I do”, perhaps? If Mr. Obama is so interested in everyone paying their fair share why are his own staff not doing it? Anyone want to bet that next year’s IRS report does not include White House staff? Just sayin’…

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Term Limits Reduce Corruption...

Peter Schweizer, a conservative author and a research fellow at Stanford University's Hoover Institution, has published a new book called "Throw Them All Out: How politicians and friends get rich off insider trading.” The following paragraph is an excerpt from the book that makes a lot of sense with regard to our politicians, their lust for power and lust for money.

“Honest graft is so insidious because it piggybacks on legitimate service, and cloaks both in the name of public good. Give someone the chance to feel that they are serving the public and getting rich at the same time, and you have created a nightmare. Always a practical observer of human nature, Benjamin Franklin in 1787 expressed concern to the Constitutional Convention that when you give politicians the opportunity "to do good and well" you are asking for trouble. ‘There are two passions which have a powerful influence in the affairs of men. There are ambition and avarice; the love of power and the love of money. Separately, each of these has great force in prompting men to action; but when united in view of the same object, they have in many minds the most violent effects. Place before the eyes of such men a post of honor that shall at the same time be a place of profit, and they will move heaven and earth to obtain it.’”

I have said before that politicians in general, regardless of party affiliation (or lack thereof) are egotistical and greedy. I think this is true even up to the Office of the President of the United States. That statement isn’t about our current President, either. I believe anyone who runs for President has to be somewhat egotistical to believe they can perform the job effectively. Think about it – believing you’re capable of being the leader of the free world…? What an ego you’d have to have.

The recent insider trading scandal in Washington, even as our elected officials work to reform insider trading for others, is a perfect example. From www.economist.com: “Members of Congress are not barred from owning shares in companies that are regulated by committees on which they sit. They are able to trade freely, even if they find out before anyone else about regulations or events that could effect specific industries or the stock market as a whole, such as a war, an executive order or a new law.”

I’m guessing that’s why many members of both houses in Washington are millionaires. Not only do they secretly take kickbacks from lobbyists but they can also make informed investments that would be illegal for anyone else. In my humble opinion we need term limits on all politicians to help reduce corruption. Some people think it’s not necessary but it certainly would reduce the familiarity in Washington if they were all replaced at least every 10 years or so. Those who have been around the longest seem to have the worst records for corruption and deceit. It only makes sense.

The best thing that could happen in this country would be if all politicians were like George Washington who, when offered the Presidency for life, refused to accept it and stepped down when his time came. Washington didn’t want to be king. He wanted our democratic republic to work as designed. Would that any of our elected officials had that same integrity today.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Conservatism

Webster’s Dictionary definition: a political philosophy based on tradition and social stability, stressing established institutions, and preferring gradual development to abrupt change; specifically : such a philosophy calling for lower taxes, limited government regulation of business and investing, a strong national defense, and individual financial responsibility for personal needs (as retirement income or health-care coverage)

Wikipedia definition: a political and social philosophy that promotes the maintenance of traditional institutions and supports, at the most, minimal and gradual change in society. Some conservatives seek to preserve things as they are, emphasizing stability and continuity, while others oppose modernism and seek a return to the way things were.

Notice the difference between the two definitions? The other night I read something on a conservative web site and, for some reason, decided to look up the definition of the term “conservative”. I looked it up in Webster’s Dictionary knowing I would get an honest, unbiased definition. Then I looked it up in Wikipedia, knowing it tends to be a bit liberal, and found exactly what I expected – a definition that leans a bit left.

Webster’s defines it as “a political philosophy based on tradition and social stability.” Wikipedia, known for its liberal contributors, says conservatives want “at the most, minimal and gradual change” and that some “oppose modernism and seek a return to the way things were.” They noticeably leave that last statement without explanation so people can draw their own, mostly misguided conclusions.

There has been a lot of talk in the last couple years about how the Tea Party wants to return to the way things were up to and including slavery of black Americans. Anyone and everyone with a working brain knows it’s not true but it’s a big liberal talking point anyway. And it’s only going to get worse as 2012 progresses and the election draws near. Those who oppose President Obama’s re-election will be labeled as racists by many on the left regardless of their stated reasons for their opposition. It’s happening already.

True conservatives want what is outlined in Webster’s definition: lower taxes, limited government regulation of business and investing, a strong national defense, and individual financial responsibility for personal needs (as retirement income or health-care coverage). They want legal immigration, less interference by the government in religious beliefs and activities, less government involvement in their personal lives and less government spending as a whole, as well as less overall entitlements. The last one is also often viewed by the left as racist or they decide conservatives just hate poor people, old people and anyone who is dependent on the government. And it’s misguided thinking.

Many liberals I speak to regularly want taxes raised on the wealthy to make up for the massive government spending taking place in our country today. They see spending as a good thing even if it means spending money we don’t have and they want those who make millions or billions to pick up the tab for everyone. “After all,” they state, “they’re rich.” It matters not to them that the very wealthy already pay most of the taxes in the country while up to 47% pay nothing. Some of them (the liberals I know) proclaim a desire and/or willingness to pay more taxes themselves, albeit, knowing that’s most likely not going to happen. (It’s easy to claim you want to do something if you know it’s never really going to happen.)

Despite what some liberals want people to believe, conservatives really don’t want to return the country to the early 1800s. If that’s the case, and if conservatives and Republicans in general are racist haters, how do liberals explain the conservative support of Herman Cain or those who would support Alan West for President or a Vice Presidential nomination?

Janeane Garofolo tried to explain it in her own, odd, twisted thinking. “I believe Herman Cain is in this presidential race because he deflects the racism that is inherent in the Republican Party, the conservative movement, the tea party certainly. Herman Cain provides this great opportunity so that you can say ‘look this is not a racist, anti-immigrant, anti-female, anti-gay movement…look we have a black man over here! Look, he’s polling well and he won a straw poll over here.”

In other words – Republicans hate black people but if they nominate Cain, even though they’ll hate him for his race, it makes them look like they’re not racists. Janeane Garofolo needs to get a real life. And of course, if you point out the fact that many liberals voted for President Obama to show they weren’t racist that will be disregarded because “liberals are more enlightened and tolerant of everyone.” Uh-huh.

Bottom line is that regardless of the bad press by the mainstream media and the hateful, derogatory, inflammatory remarks directed at them by overzealous people on the left, conservatives want what they say they want and not all the ridiculous things alleged by the left. We don’t hate liberals – we merely disagree with almost everything they stand for. But we can do it without denigrating you.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

We Are Not Guards...

I have been retired from the Federal Bureau of Prisons for over four years now. Even so, I read an article the other day that inspired today’s post. Over and over it referred to a Correctional Officer, as a “guard”. This is dedicated to Correctional Officers worldwide who risk their lives daily in service to the people of their cities, counties, states and/or countries. The general public has no clue what you do on a daily basis. I do. Thanks to all of you who continue the tradition of excellence.

We are Correctional Officers. We are not guards. We don’t guard anyone. We maintain order and discipline and prevent inmate escapes, murders, assaults, fights, and other types of disruptive and potentially dangerous behavior.

On the street we have no real authority unless we’re escorting an inmate somewhere. If we witness a crime in progress, at least in most states, we have the same authority as a private citizen when it comes to intervening. Of course, if we’re in uniform and armed I doubt any problems would arise from it but most likely a good defense attorney would use our limited law enforcement authority to protect his client. As well he should. But because we’re law enforcement officers, most of us would intervene (if it didn’t detract from our responsibility with an inmate) if we witnessed a crime in progress. We are, after all, law enforcement officials even if some think we’re just “guards”.

Outside the prison fences and walls, and off of the prison property, we do not have the same law enforcement authority as a police officer. However, we have complete law enforcement authority over an inmate we may be escorting, anyone who tries to get between the inmate and us, or anyone who attempts to help the inmate escape. We have the authority to use deadly force to prevent an escape or to prevent the inmate, or someone who might attack the inmate, from causing grievous bodily harm.

Inside the fences and walls we wear many hats. We are the police officers. We patrol our “neighborhood”, monitoring inmate behavior and ensuring (or trying to, anyway) inmates follow the rules, much in the same way a police officer patrols his beat. We intervene, even physically, when it becomes necessary in the performance of our duties. During off hours, that is – when specialty staff are not working – we are the behavioral counselors, the work supervisors, the chaplains and the psychologists. Our top priority is the custody and control of inmates yet we often perform certain duties of other staff in their absence. We talk to inmates about their behavior, instruct them as to what they need to do and take corrective action as necessary. We give them instructions concerning their jobs and supervise them to ensure their duties are properly completed. We sometimes inform them of family emergencies or deaths and help them make phone calls home. Sometimes we even have to sit quietly and let them cry. We listen to their problems when they feel the need to share or ask for help. We intervene when they get depressed and think of suicide and prevent them from actually doing it, as best we can, until the licensed psychologist arrives.

We are not guards. We are Correctional Officers. We are intelligent, educated and well trained. Certainly there are exceptions (as in any other profession) but for the most part we treat inmates in a professional manner and we don’t abuse or mistreat them. The stories you read in the newspaper about inmates being abused are the exceptions, not the rules. This is true even after we get feces or urine thrown on us by an inmate in Special Housing who can’t manage to control his anger and/or hatred, or after an inmate assaults a staff member, one of our own. Our job is to protect the inmates from each other and to protect the inmates from those staff who can’t seem to control their own anger.

Normally, correctional staff in movies and on television are portrayed as ignorant, hateful and often downright evil, preying on the inmates or making illegal deals with them. In all honesty, if TV cameras followed officers around all day and we’re doing our jobs effectively, the show would be rather dull. Certainly there are periods of intense excitement but the daily routine would make for a boring reality show. Effective correctional work keeps it that way.

We protect the public on a daily basis, even if that public never realizes the extent of what we do for them. Next time you see a correctional officer on TV remember that in reality these are the people who keep you and your families safe from convicted criminals. We work with them every day so you don’t have to have them in your neighborhood. And, for the most part, we’re good at it.

We are not guards. We are Correctional Officers.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Dr. Martin Luther King Day 2012

On January 15, 1929, the Reverend Doctor Martin Luther King, Jr., was born in Atlanta, Georgia. He grew up to be a minister and an activist for the civil rights of all people but particularly for black Americans. His movement of non-violence was extraordinary in the face of the challenges and hatred he endured.

On April 4, 1968, Dr. King was shot and killed by an assassin in Memphis, Tennessee. Though the perpetrator(s) of the assassination were (and are still) controversial, the nation lost one of the greatest civil rights leaders in history. Was he killed because he was a powerful black man leading the African-American community toward equality or was the reason much deeper than that? We may never know.

I was 10 years old when Dr. King was assassinated. I was at a church function with my family when someone interrupted the proceedings and stated that Dr. King had been shot. My father, a Baptist minister, stopped the proceedings to pray, not only for Dr. King and his family but for our nation to weather this pending storm and to find a solution to the madness that would cause someone to take Dr. King's life. One of the men in the church group got up as soon as my father announced the prayer and left the church. I didn't understand why. I later asked my mother why the man had walked out and she explained to me that not everyone felt black people were equal to whites and that some disliked or even hated people because of the color of their skin. I had never been exposed to such blatant racism. My parents hadn't raised me that way and the only contact I had with any African-American people up to then was through our church. It never occurred to me that people could hate someone for skin color.

I remember in my neighborhood there was talk of rioting and the possibility of the "angry black people" coming across to our side of town and causing trouble. (The black neighborhood was mostly on the other side of the river. It wasn't a segregated neighborhood at all, but most of the black families in my town lived in one general area and not on the side of town I lived on, for the most part. I didn't know any better.) I recall one of my neighbors saying he had already gotten his gun from the closet just in case. The main thing I remember about the next few days was the tension and fear that gripped my white, middle class neighborhood because of Dr. King's murder and the possible aftermath. It never happened where I live.

One of the things I most remember about Dr. King is his "I Have A Dream" speech from August 28, 1963. I read it from time to time just to remind myself of the words of hope and inspiration. I personally believe it was one of the best speeches ever made in my lifetime. I have posted it below for anyone who wants to continue reading. It's rather long but if read with an open mind and open heart, it's moving and powerful. I hope at least some of you will read it and digest it.

On Martin Luther King Day, January 16, 2012, I hope you'll all reflect on Dr. King's work and his vision for a peaceful American with all of us living in racial harmony. It's a difficult vision for some, yet most of us manage to function in a racially peaceful environment every day. Why is it so difficult for others?

Here is the entire speech. Enjoy.
________________________________________________________________

I am happy to join with you today in what will go down in history as the greatest demonstration for freedom in the history of our nation.

Five score years ago, a great American, in whose symbolic shadow we stand today, signed the Emancipation Proclamation. This momentous decree came as a great beacon light of hope to millions of Negro slaves who had been seared in the flames of withering injustice. It came as a joyous daybreak to end the long night of their captivity.

But one hundred years later, the Negro still is not free. One hundred years later, the life of the Negro is still sadly crippled by the manacles of segregation and the chains of discrimination. One hundred years later, the Negro lives on a lonely island of poverty in the midst of a vast ocean of material prosperity. One hundred years later, the Negro is still languishing in the corners of American society and finds himself an exile in his own land. So we have come here today to dramatize a shameful condition.

In a sense we have come to our nation's capital to cash a check. When the architects of our republic wrote the magnificent words of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence, they were signing a promissory note to which every American was to fall heir. This note was a promise that all men, yes, black men as well as white men, would be guaranteed the unalienable rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

It is obvious today that America has defaulted on this promissory note insofar as her citizens of color are concerned. Instead of honoring this sacred obligation, America has given the Negro people a bad check, a check which has come back marked "insufficient funds." But we refuse to believe that the bank of justice is bankrupt. We refuse to believe that there are insufficient funds in the great vaults of opportunity of this nation. So we have come to cash this check — a check that will give us upon demand the riches of freedom and the security of justice. We have also come to this hallowed spot to remind America of the fierce urgency of now. This is no time to engage in the luxury of cooling off or to take the tranquilizing drug of gradualism. Now is the time to make real the promises of democracy. Now is the time to rise from the dark and desolate valley of segregation to the sunlit path of racial justice. Now is the time to lift our nation from the quick sands of racial injustice to the solid rock of brotherhood. Now is the time to make justice a reality for all of God's children.


It would be fatal for the nation to overlook the urgency of the moment. This sweltering summer of the Negro's legitimate discontent will not pass until there is an invigorating autumn of freedom and equality. Nineteen sixty-three is not an end, but a beginning. Those who hope that the Negro needed to blow off steam and will now be content will have a rude awakening if the nation returns to business as usual. There will be neither rest nor tranquility in America until the Negro is granted his citizenship rights. The whirlwinds of revolt will continue to shake the foundations of our nation until the bright day of justice emerges.

But there is something that I must say to my people who stand on the warm threshold which leads into the palace of justice. In the process of gaining our rightful place we must not be guilty of wrongful deeds. Let us not seek to satisfy our thirst for freedom by drinking from the cup of bitterness and hatred.

We must forever conduct our struggle on the high plane of dignity and discipline. We must not allow our creative protest to degenerate into physical violence. Again and again we must rise to the majestic heights of meeting physical force with soul force. The marvelous new militancy which has engulfed the Negro community must not lead us to a distrust of all white people, for many of our white brothers, as evidenced by their presence here today, have come to realize that their destiny is tied up with our destiny. They have come to realize that their freedom is inextricably bound to our freedom. We cannot walk alone.

As we walk, we must make the pledge that we shall always march ahead. We cannot turn back. There are those who are asking the devotees of civil rights, "When will you be satisfied?" We can never be satisfied as long as the Negro is the victim of the unspeakable horrors of police brutality. We can never be satisfied, as long as our bodies, heavy with the fatigue of travel, cannot gain lodging in the motels of the highways and the hotels of the cities. We cannot be satisfied as long as the Negro's basic mobility is from a smaller ghetto to a larger one. We can never be satisfied as long as our children are stripped of their selfhood and robbed of their dignity by signs stating "For Whites Only". We cannot be satisfied as long as a Negro in Mississippi cannot vote and a Negro in New York believes he has nothing for which to vote. No, no, we are not satisfied, and we will not be satisfied until justice rolls down like waters and righteousness like a mighty stream.

I am not unmindful that some of you have come here out of great trials and tribulations. Some of you have come fresh from narrow jail cells. Some of you have come from areas where your quest for freedom left you battered by the storms of persecution and staggered by the winds of police brutality. You have been the veterans of creative suffering. Continue to work with the faith that unearned suffering is redemptive.

Go back to Mississippi, go back to Alabama, go back to South Carolina, go back to Georgia, go back to Louisiana, go back to the slums and ghettos of our northern cities, knowing that somehow this situation can and will be changed. Let us not wallow in the valley of despair.

I say to you today, my friends, so even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream.

I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: "We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal."

I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood.

I have a dream that one day even the state of Mississippi, a state sweltering with the heat of injustice, sweltering with the heat of oppression, will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice.

I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.

I have a dream today.

I have a dream that one day, down in Alabama, with its vicious racists, with its governor having his lips dripping with the words of interposition and nullification; one day right there in Alabama, little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls as sisters and brothers.

I have a dream today.

I have a dream that one day every valley shall be exalted, every hill and mountain shall be made low, the rough places will be made plain, and the crooked places will be made straight, and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together.

This is our hope. This is the faith that I go back to the South with. With this faith we will be able to hew out of the mountain of despair a stone of hope. With this faith we will be able to transform the jangling discords of our nation into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood. With this faith we will be able to work together, to pray together, to struggle together, to go to jail together, to stand up for freedom together, knowing that we will be free one day.

This will be the day when all of God's children will be able to sing with a new meaning, "My country, 'tis of thee, sweet land of liberty, of thee I sing. Land where my fathers died, land of the pilgrim's pride, from every mountainside, let freedom ring."

And if America is to be a great nation this must become true. So let freedom ring from the prodigious hilltops of New Hampshire. Let freedom ring from the mighty mountains of New York. Let freedom ring from the heightening Alleghenies of Pennsylvania!

Let freedom ring from the snowcapped Rockies of Colorado!

Let freedom ring from the curvaceous slopes of California!

But not only that; let freedom ring from Stone Mountain of Georgia!

Let freedom ring from Lookout Mountain of Tennessee!

Let freedom ring from every hill and molehill of Mississippi. From every mountainside, let freedom ring.

And when this happens, when we allow freedom to ring, when we let it ring from every village and every hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God's children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual, "Free at last! free at last! thank God Almighty, we are free at last!"

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

We Didn't Have The Green Thing Back Then...

Lately it seems I get many of my ideas for blog topics from e-mails or Facebook posts that I read. This is no exception – except this is one of the better ones I’ve “borrowed”. I have no idea who wrote it originally but I borrowed it from my dear friend Gayle who posted it on her Facebook page. I have edited it ever so slightly to make it read a little easier but the content is the same. Thanks Gayle. This is great!

Enjoy.

Checking out at the grocery store recently, the young cashier suggested I should bring my own grocery bags because plastic bags weren't good for the environment. I apologized and explained, "We didn't have this green thing back in my earlier days."

The clerk responded, "That's our problem today. Your generation did not care enough to save our environment for future generations."

And you know? It’s true. Our generation didn't have the “green thing” in “Our” day. So what did we have back then? After some reflection and soul-searching on "Our" day here's what I remembered we did have....

Back then, we returned milk bottles, soda bottles and beer bottles to the store. The store gave us a small refund and sent the bottles back to the plant to be washed and sterilized and refilled, so it could use the same bottles repeatedly. They really were recycled. But we didn't have the green thing back in our day.

We walked up stairs because we didn't have an escalator in every store and office building. We walked to the grocery store and didn't climb into a 300-horsepower, carbon burning machine every time we had to go two blocks. But it’s true. We didn't have the green thing in our day.

Back then, we washed our babies’ diapers because we didn't have the throw-away kind. We dried clothes on a line not in an energy gobbling machine burning up 220 volts. Wind and solar power really did dry our clothes back in our early days. Kids got hand-me-down clothes from their brothers or sisters, not always brand-new clothing. We didn't have the green thing back in our day.

Back then we had one TV, or radio, in the house - not a TV and/or stereo in every room. And the TV had a small screen the size of a handkerchief (remember them?), not a screen the size of the state of Montana. In the kitchen we blended and stirred by hand because we didn't have electric machines to do everything for us. When we packaged a fragile item to send in the mail we used wadded up old newspapers to cushion it, not Styrofoam or plastic bubble wrap. Back then we didn't fire up an engine and burn gasoline just to cut the lawn. We used a push mower that ran on human power. We exercised with physical work so we didn't need to go to a health club to run on treadmills that operate on electricity. But we didn't have the green thing back then.

We drank from a fountain when we were thirsty instead of using a cup or a plastic bottle every time we had a drink of water. We refilled writing pens with ink instead of buying a new pen and we replaced the razor blades in a razor instead of throwing away the whole razor just because the blade got dull. But we didn't have the green thing back then.

Back then people took the streetcar or a bus to get around and kids rode their bikes to school or walked instead of turning their moms into a 24-hour taxi service or being required to ride a school bus. We had one or two electrical outlets in a room, not an entire bank of sockets to power a dozen appliances. And we didn't need a computerized gadget to receive a signal beamed from satellites 2,000 miles out in space in order to find the nearest pizza joint. But isn't it sad the current generation laments how wasteful we old folks were just because we didn't have the green thing back then?

Share this if you wish if you know another selfish old person who needs a lesson in conservation from a smarty-pants young person…

Monday, January 2, 2012

The 200 Year Cycle...?

I read this in an e-mail the other day and thought the information worth passing on. I’m not sure who wrote the original piece but there are things in it that need to be called to the attention of every American. The United States of America is a Constitutional Republic the likes of which has never been seen before. None of the democratic societies in the past have survived for more than 200 years or so. We have been here for 235 years. Our time may be getting close and from the events occurring in the last decade or so it seems that’s the case.

Our Constitution was written by intelligent men who put provisions in the document to prevent the Republic from falling. However, over the years our politicians have found ways around the Constitution and the rule of law to make changes and make things happen the way they want. Both parties are guilty and it’s only getting worse. The e-mail reads as follows:

In 1887 Alexander Tyler, a Scottish history professor at the University of Edinborough, had this to say about the fall of the Athenian Republic some 2,000 years prior:

"A democracy is always temporary in nature; it simply cannot exist as a permanent form of government. A democracy will continue to exist up until the time that voters discover that they can vote themselves generous gifts from the public treasury. From that moment on, the majority always votes for the candidates who promise the most benefits from the public treasury, with the result that every democracy will finally collapse over loose fiscal policy, (which is) always followed by a dictatorship.

The average age of the world's greatest civilizations from the beginning of history, has been about 200 years. During those 200 years, these nations always progressed through the following sequence:

From bondage to spiritual faith;

From spiritual faith to great courage;

From courage to liberty;

From liberty to abundance;

From abundance to complacency;

From complacency to apathy;

From apathy to dependence;

From dependence back into bondage."


Professor Joseph Olson of Hamline University School of Law in St. Paul , Minnesota , points out some interesting facts concerning the last Presidential election:

Number of States won by: Obama: 19 McCain: 29

Square miles of land won by: Obama: 580,000 McCain: 2,427,000

Population of counties won by: Obama: 127 million McCain: 143 million

Murder rate per 100,000 residents in counties won by: Obama: 13.2 McCain: 2.1

Professor Olson adds: "In aggregate, the map of the territory McCain won was mostly the land owned by the taxpaying citizens of the country. Obama territory mostly encompassed those citizens living in low income tenements and living off various forms of government welfare..."

Olson believes the United States is now somewhere between the "complacency and apathy" phase of Professor Tyler's definition of democracy, with some forty percent of the nation's population already having reached the "governmental dependency" phase.



With the number of people who do not pay taxes consistently growing it’s clear the numbers who are becoming dependent on government for their daily needs are growing as well. And while some will view it as racist (because that’s a quick and easy answer to something they disagree with), amnesty for illegal immigrants will only contribute to the numbers dependent on government and will increase the number of voters who favor government handouts and subsidies over personal responsibility.

Our Constitutional Republic, as it is, is in jeopardy. The timing is right and the ever growing attitude of Americans that government is the answer to their problems is eroding at the very fabric that has held the country together so far. And while some advocate a socialist government as the norm in the United States, others still work to prevent it from happening. Unfortunately, progressivism in this country is spreading to both parties and both are moving in a socialist direction. Conservatism, both fiscal and political, seems to be disappearing rapidly, even though, in this writer’s opinion, it is the only philosophy that will ensure the United States of America survives as the Constitutional Republic it was in the beginning.

As much as I want to disbelieve it, it is possible I will see the downfall of the United States as a free Republic and world leader in my lifetime. Our current administration seems bent on taking us down a peg; apologizing for America and making sure the world understands that we’re no better than anyone else even though we have been a beacon of hope and good in the world for over two centuries. We have been the most generous, the most helpful and the most concerned about other nations of all the countries on Earth. Yet we need to be taken down a bit?

I wonder – if America is so bad, one has to wonder why it is that millions of people are still trying to come into the country every year?

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Happy New Year

Another year has come and gone. In some ways it seems 2011 just arrived and in other ways it seemed to drag on and on without end. I must say the old adage is true – the older you get the more quickly time seems to go by. When you’re 10 years old a year is 1/10th of your life. When you’re 54 it’s only 1/54th of your life – not long at all in the scheme of things. All in all, with the passing of each year we look back at the good and the bad things that happened and reflect.

2011 was an interesting year to say the least. That goes for the world in general and for me. We saw an end to the war in Iraq – lots of our soldiers coming home. Whether our accomplishments there will last very long remains to be seen. We’ve seen some success in Afghanistan and are still trying to determine the best course of action for the long term there. Our brave military men and women continue to do their sworn duty to serve the United States whenever and wherever asked. And they deserve our honor and praise.

We saw a devastating tidal wave in Japan that threatened severe nuclear destruction. Fortunately there were Japanese workers who were willing to die in order to save the rest of their country and its citizens. I’m reminded of Spock on Star Trek saying “The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few.” Those men who worked tirelessly in that radiation, eventually sacrificing their lives in their efforts to stop a nuclear meltdown, were also warriors worthy of honor and praise.

We’ve seen our own country struggle through a recession that may or may not be over. Our government officials continue to serve their own interests for the most part, worrying more about re-election than serving the people they represent. Our President struggles with the weight of the office he holds every day and whether you agree with his political views or not, he is the President and he’s ultimately responsible for the well being of our nation. I pray for him to have to wisdom to do what’s best for our country and that God will guide him in those efforts. I hope every other believer, regardless of party affiliation, will do the same. Mr. Obama and our nation needs all the prayers they can get.

In my own life I saw some tremendous changes and although a couple were difficult, the year ended up being one of my best. After watching a relationship self-destruct before my eyes I found someone who truly loves me for who I am and not for who she wants me to be. Imagine finding someone from your past who, even though you haven’t seen each other for years, still cares about you and wants to make something work between you. And imagine how great it is to discover the old feelings are just as strong today as they were then – maybe even more so. I went from hurt and disbelief to happiness and disbelief all in the same year. Last night we spent a quiet evening just enjoying being together. I would have to say it was probably the best New Year’s Eve I’ve ever spent. I look forward to 2012 and what it will bring. Life certainly does have a way of surprising you sometimes.

Yesterday on Facebook I posted my New Year’s wish for everyone. It said: “Happy New Year to all of my Facebook friends and family. We may disagree about things at times (OK, some of us all the time) but I wish you all happiness, love and success in the coming year. Every year brings us new opportunities for all three and it's up to us to take full advantage of them. I know I will.” I mean every word of it. I wish you all the best of everything in 2012. Thanks for continuing to read my rantings. I do appreciate it. As much as I enjoy putting my thoughts down in writing I must say I also enjoy the fact that others read them and sometimes even enjoy them. I will try to find interesting topic to discuss in 2012 and keep you reading. Finding things to talk about usually isn’t that difficult.

Happy New Year.