Double Duty

Dad was in the market for a one ton dooley truck. We drove to Amarillo, to Plains Chevrolet, because they had several without beds and he wanted to put a custom flat bed on it. We looked at several on the lot before a salesman with a polyester tie, that was much too short (or perhaps his belly was too big) came out and asked if we needed some help.

After some discussion out on the windy lot about engines and transmissions and such we repaired to his "office" ... a glass walled closet with a desk, a filing cabinet, a calculator and an overflowing ashtray. We sat in molded plastic chairs while our new friend took down pertinent information.

At one point the salesman made some comment like "It looks like that orange truck is the one that fits what you need. What do you want to give for it?" I had never been part of any sort of price negotiation before and I thought it was quite generous of the man to let us make the first offer. Dad didn't see it that way and replied with a phrase that I have used many times. Dad paused for a second or two, as if he was thinking about throwing out a number and then he stood up slowly and said,

Son ... I can't do the buyin' and the sellin' both.

Then he looked at me, said "Come on, let's get some dinner." and we headed out of the office.

Predictably, the salesman caught up with us and began the 'let me talk to my manager' dance. They got down to an acceptable price, Dad said he'd think about it and we went and got some dinner. We came back and bought the truck after we got done eating.

Fundamentally, the problem with any government program, whether it's a bailout or national health care or social security, is that we, the citizen and the consumer, the source of funds and the recipients of the services, are responsible for both ends of the transaction ... and the government just sits in the middle, collecting its commission.

I understand that the transaction is not always perfectly balanced, that some citizens pay in more than they receive and vice versa, but I'm talking about the collective we, as in 'we the people.' And we are getting screwed in this deal.

I've often said I just don't get it ... why anyone would think that the government has any answers to problems, but I'm beginning to realize that where you ride on the transactional teeter-totter probably determines what you think of the deal in general. If you pay your taxes and take care of your own business then extra taxes are just a burden you don't really need because you likely won't take advantage of all the services. It's a bad deal. If you pay few or no taxes and depend on programs for a job or health care or housing then you might think it's a good deal.

I'm rarely afraid to stretch an analogy too far so let's say that the two people on the teeter-totter represent the opposite ends of this transaction. The person on the ground is the taxpayer. The person in the air is dependent on programs. I can understand why the person on the ground gets tired if it's their job to keep the other person up all the time. And I understand why the person in the air is nervous, they have no control of their situation and they might even be a little envious of the ground person's position.

But what I still don't understand is why either of them tolerate the government, standing off to the side shouting ...


When you are a kid you avoid the "bossy" kids on the playground like they had the ultimate uncool cooties. Unfortunately, it appears that the bossy kids have a talent for getting elected to office.



If you think about it, it's overwhelming, the whole everything-is-a-crisis mindset. At least it is for people like me, who have to gather an inordinate amount of data before making any decision. It takes me six months to buy a car.

On the other hand, I do trust my gut when it comes to certain things, so I've decided to take a shot at applying my gut instincts to some big topics to see if I can pare down my personal list of big issue whelms.

No. You don't give wine to a wino.

Yes. Finish what you start.

Yes and no. Clean up after yourself. I'm not your mother.

National Health care?
No. You take care of your personal business and I'll take care of mine. Thanks anyway.

Gun Control?
Yes! Oh wait. I was thinking gun "safety", which should be required training ... for everyone.

No. Okay, maybe if it's the result of a sexual assault. But stop using the phrase "unwanted pregnancy" ... somebody involved wanted something!

Gay Marriage?
No. The sex is different, the building a family is different ... only the economics are similar to traditional marriage, so 'celebrate your differentness' and be 'spiritually contracted' or some such and leave the traditional stuff to people who respect traditions.

The Economy?
Simple ... lower taxes, cut government programs, de-regulate and stand back.


Yes. More please, and thank you.

Iran? North Korea? Russia?
Two words ... military preparedness.

Poverty and oppression in third world countries?
Compassion, yes. Naivete, no.


Remembering Bessie

I was scanning some photos when I came across this faded one of my first car, a 1956 Chevy. No, it wasn't the V8 Bel-Air model, it was a straight 6, 2 door, three on the tree, Model 210. The picture was taken in 1975, at Hobart Street Park in Pampa, Texas shortly after a new paint job. It wasn't a particularly fine paint job, but it was affordable. I called her Bessie.

I thought that I should scan the photo, save it, before it completely faded away.

Bessie had a semi-interesting history. Uncle Lonzo, my Dad's older brother, Marion Lonzo, bought the car for his daughter, my cousin Sue. Sue lived in California and though I'm not completely sure of the history, at some point M.L., which is what the adults called Uncle Lonzo, drove the car from California back to Texas. Through some brotherly dealings, and probably because it had several mechanical problems, Dad ended up with the car and drove it as his 'work car', as opposed to the 'family car' which was usually the newest model sedan in the fleet, though that didn't necessarily mean it was any more mechanically sound than the others. 'Work car' simply meant that it was safe to throw a transmission in the trunk or haul livestock in the back seat when necessary.

The car eventually ended up on blocks (meaning cinder blocks for those of you unfamiliar with the practice) in our back yard, behind the garage. At 15 I had an unquenchable lust for independent transportation so I started bugging my parents for a car, particularly my Dad because I knew he had a weakness for buying automobiles. Dad generously "gave" me the 56 Chevy, and thinking that might be my only shot at having a car of my own, I took it.

Aside from battery, tires, belts, hoses, muffler and assorted fluids, the car also needed a steering column, suspension bits, a shift linkage and U-joints. It probably needed an engine overhaul, too, but that was beyond my expertise and finances. At the time I took ownership I had no idea of the extensive repairs needed because the first order of business was to remove the four foot weeds growing up through the front grill and de-flea the trunk that had served as a dog house and nursery for some recent batch of puppies.

By the time I got my license, and with some mechanical assistance from Dad and friends, Bessie had come to life. Later, with financial assistance from Mom, came the paint job and a new vinyl interior. Bessie had been transformed from a back yard junker to, if not exactly stylish and enviable, at least unique transportation in an eclectic sort of way. I was 16. Eclectic was cool.

When I was a senior, Dad found a deal on a 1971 Chevy Monte Carlo at a used car lot in Booker, TX. It had a 350 V8, air conditioning, an automatic transmission, forest green metallic paint, rally wheels and a black vinyl roof. I was in love. My friend Don White rode up to Booker with me and Dad to pick it up one night in March. Don and I took it for a test drive while Dad negotiated. It had little or no gas in it so we put $5 worth in it at the Allsup's. Dad's comment was if we were going to spend that much on gas we might as well buy it. We drove it back in a dust storm. Bessie was parked again, but at least this time in the relative shelter of a tin garage.

In 1983, not long after I got married, I wrecked a 1974 Monte Carlo that had replaced the '71. I had no insurance and ended up selling the '74 to help pay for the damage on the other people's cars. We were living in Atlanta so I called my brother Bill, probably collect, and asked him to do what was necessary to get Bessie drivable. Cindy and I flew to Amarillo and drove Bessie from Pampa to Atlanta in the middle of summer. Cindy learned the value of a Kool-Cushion before we made it to U.S. 287.

Soon after we moved back to Texas, to Victoria, Bessie was again put into storage. After keeping her in the garage for a couple of years, with all the best intentions of doing a proper restoration*, I finally gave up the dream and sold her for $1200 to a high school kid who was lusting for some transportation.

So now, Bessie's memory, and photo, are preserved and though I may be the only person that cares, it is done.

Previously I mentioned Mr. Nooncaster, my senior English teacher at Pampa High School. One of his standard assignments was the infamous "Thursday Paper." We would show up in class, a topic would be written on the board, and we had the class period to write an essay related to it. When we returned to class on Friday he would have picked out exactly two papers to read to the class as examples of good compositions. The reason I bring this up here is because the only one of my Thursday compositions he ever read was one I wrote about my car, Bessie. I just remembered that fact. And I also remember the topic which was something like "details a casual observer might miss."

A lot of my life has, unintentionally I think, been devoted to preserving memories. I try to teach my son the things I was taught about family and community and country and God. I tell stories, not because they are historically important ... who cares about the old cars I have owned ... but because regardless of the topic, stories are more than preserved facts. We all read between the lines to assess ourselves and to understand the author. I worry about details a casual reader might not get, but I trust a careful reader will. I remember that Mr. Nooncaster chose my essay, and I remember the topic, and I wonder what I have done that will be remembered.

* example of a proper restoration


The Road to Happiness

I read a comment today that took my thoughts in a totally unexpected direction. The comment was:

It's going to take a cultural re-definition of "enough" to cause any real change. It used to be that building a business and earning a good living, having something to pass along to the kids was "enough." Now it seems that there's no such thing as enough, and our society is paying the price.

The commentator was obviously referring to material possessions, "riches", and later went on to lament that too many people think that "things" will make them happy. The thrust of the argument was that corporations, businesses and people in general need to put the right things first; that until corporations make community contribution as important as profits, things will only get worse.

There's some truth there, and it certainly is a great jumping off point for railing against corporate greed, the evils of capitalism and the moral decay of our society, but what struck me was the admission that our culture needs to change. Greed and self-indulgence may be indicators of a decaying culture, and I assume they would be detrimental to a society, but is that the root of it all? I'm thinking it goes deeper.

There are many people who believe that when left to their own devices, people will behave badly and are irrevocably self interested. So we have programs like Social Security because we cannot trust families to take care of their own, or employers to provide decent retirement plans, or people to plan for their own retirement because they are inherently bad. We must prevent them from being that way; we must protect them from themselves. They believe that the most efficient way to get rid of this "badness" is through the force of law.

To make it simpler, let's call the people who see the world this way "Enlightened." They know best and they want you to behave to the standard they have defined. You can't be trusted to behave properly, unless of course you are Enlightened, in which case you fully understand and endorse the need to impose the proper standard on the non-Enlightened.

There's another group of people, we'll call them the "Enthusiasts", who think that people aren't really that bad. They think that if given an opportunity people will do the right thing. They admit that mistakes will be made, and that egregious mistakes should be punished, but that typical people in normal circumstances, while they may not behave perfectly, will at least behave acceptably. They don't, however, like other people (i.e., the Enlightened) telling them what to do.

The Enlightened believe, and have faith in, their ability to make sense of the world. They believe that with enough knowledge of how the machine works they can pull the right levers and push the right buttons and make the correct changes that will get us all on the road to happiness.

The Enthusiasts, however, believe in something bigger than themselves and that this bigger thing actually powers the machine. It could be a concept like freedom or love, it could be God or it could be their family, community or country. They believe that putting their faith into something bigger, something that exists outside themselves and that they can respond to but not control, is the best way to overcome their own flaws. They have guidance that works on themselves first, before it extends to others.

How is it that the Enlightened ones, who think that people are flawed and basically evil, have come to put so much trust in their own abilities? Could it be that they place themselves above the "common folk"; that they believe only "others" are evil, that they themselves are doing just fine? To put it bluntly, are they trying to take the place of God?

I am a human being. Human beings are flawed and corrupt. Except me, of course. I am so amazingly self aware that I can overcome my own flaws and still have time to fix yours.

Isn't that crazy talk?

The culture needs to change ... "we are the ones we've been waiting for!"..."Yes We Can!"..."Change We Can Believe In!"..."Our Time for Change!." The ironic thing is that this is "More of the Same." It's the same belief that fools us every time, that human solutions can fix a spiritual problem.

The comment was part of an argument that "things" don't bring happiness, that intangibles like family and safety and community are what make us truly happy. It's hard to argue against the truth of that sentiment, but I do have a question. Who built that road to happiness? Where do we get the concepts of love and family and community, the "things" that inspire true happiness? Are they human inventions, or programs provided by the government, or are they a spiritual inheritance that we instinctively know to follow?

Despite my concerns about current affairs, I'm still feeling surprisingly Enthusiastic.


Hooking Up

When I was a boy our garage was full of crap ... old TV's, old toys stored up in the rafters, miscellaneous hub caps, nuts, bolts, washers, screws, nails, sledge hammers, sewer snakes, broken hair dryers, barbed wire, inner tubes (with repair kits), vacuum tubes, vacuum cleaners, vacuum hoses, insulation, insulators, insecticide, spray guns, nail guns, gunny sacks, 2x4s, 2x6s, 1x2s, wheel weights, valve stems, grease guns, grease zerks, axle grease, bearing grease, motor oil, machine oil, Marvel Mystery Oil ... you get the idea, but don't think I can't go on.

One of my favorite things to do was to head out to the garage and hook things together ... I called it playing 'Mad Inventor'. I'd hook the broken hair dryer to the vacuum cleaner hose, with vacuum tubes punched through the top, and attach that to gunny sacks filled with insulation and insert the sacks into an overinflated inner tube and suspend the whole contraption from the rafters using tape or wire or nails or whatever I could find. I always started with a grand purpose, but soon simply hooking things together became more important than building the automated dog washing machine and making myself rich, famous and respected.

I had plenty of toys and friends and things to do, but 'Mad Inventor' was something all my own, a private game. I secretly hoped that my excursions to the lab would lead me to a great discovery. The process itself was fun, but I never stumbled upon the great inspiration, or, if I did, it quickly became secondary because I likely had an immediate problem such as how to repair the blown fuse before my parents came home.*

I don't remember when I quit playing 'Mad Inventor', but I do remember the same enjoyment of hooking things together, when I got older, from writing. I had outstanding English teachers all through Junior High and High School who encouraged me to write. And then, in college, I started reading things that weren't assigned, and discovered that there was a seemingly unlimited number of ideas out there. I wanted to write. I wanted to write things of substance and be admired for a tight style, unwavering logic and brilliant observation.

My writing, however, seems to borrow too much from the Mad Inventor, stringing thoughts together, oblivious of the original goal, just to see how they turn out. I still have to deal with the occasional blown fuse, and I have yet to perfect the automatic dog washer.

It annoys me that my life has followed the same sort of pattern. At times I wish I would have sat down at 14 or 16 or 21 years old, mapped out a plan and followed it directly and efficiently to the substance and admiration I've always secretly wished for (and even more secretly known that I deserve ;) ). And then, at other times, I just stand back and admire the majesty of the fortuitous connections that got me from there to here.

Looking to the future, it looks like I'm gonna need some duct tape, some WD-40, and a pair of brake shoe spreaders. Perhaps a center punch and a pry bar, too. Some cotton balls, or maybe gauze, upholstery brads, hog rings (with pliers) and some romex. And where in the hell did I leave that soldering gun and the alligator clips? With the magnifying glass, I think!

* Just a quick note here that might come in handy. If you do happen to blow a fuse, and don't have a replacement fuse handy, you can put a penny in the fuse socket and then screw the burned out fuse on top of it so it's not obvious. Be aware, however, that your Dad will eventually open the fuse box and discover the miracle of a burned out fuse that magically still works. Poker faces are useful for more than just card games because pennies in the fuse box are a good way to burn down the house, or so I've been told.


Long Time Gone

I asked my sister, who lives in White Deer, to send me some panhandle photos to use for the blog. As I was flipping through the photos she sent I kept trying to find a landmark I recognized, or even just a feeling about the general vicinity of the shot. I couldn't definitively place any of them. Maybe I've been gone too long.

I went through them more than once, trying to pick out one or two that might inspire a post. I noticed that I had somehow created a soundtrack in my mind to go along with the images in the slideshow. It took me a minute, but I finally recognized it as "Oklahoma Hills" by Woody and Jack Guthrie, which is, apparently, the state song of Oklahoma. Isn't that odd?

It's not really that odd. My siblings will recognize at least the chorus of the song ...

'Way down yonder in the Indian Nation
Ridin' my pony on the reservation,
In those Oklahoma hills where I was born.
Now, 'way down yonder in the Indian Nation,

A cowboy's life is my occupation,

In those Oklahoma hills where I was born.

... because it was a staple in a list of songs Dad would "beller" out, unannounced, as we bounced around some panhandle highway in some old truck. You'd be nodding off, your neck all twisted trying to find a semi-comfortable and stable spot for your head, when all of a sudden you'd hear Dad at full volume singing:

'WAY DOWN YON-der in the Ind-YUN NAY-shun

It always bothered me a bit because I knew he wasn't born in Oklahoma and who would want to claim that anyway? I'm guessing that the song meant something to Dad. He would've been in California when it was popular, and he was a panhandle cowboy as a young man. The song starts:

Many a month has come and gone

Since I've wandered from my home

I can see him being the homesick type. He must've been because he moved back which is how I wound up being Texas panhandle born and raised.

It's pretty obvious why that song popped into my head. These were photos of home, and even if I couldn't say exactly where they were taken, I still recognized them as home. I'm sure people who grew up in New York City or around California beaches or in Rust Belt factory towns can see a certain type of photo and feel a connection, a familiarity. And I'm also sure those familiar, comfortable scenes shape your world view, like it or not.

Do you recognize the never ending fields? The big blue bowl overhead. Dry air and dust that doesn't just tickle your nose politely, but forces you to adjust to it and not give in to that big head-shaking sneeze. The imaginary horizons existing beyond your ability to see. The fortitude of windmills and fence posts, surviving both drought and blizzard.

If you do, if you can feel those things in these photos, then I suppose it's okay if you were born in Oklahoma. We've probably got a lot in common.

Please Don't Squeeze the Shaman!

One of the sites I occasionally post in has an 'Off Topic' forum where someone posted a message that said:

Congrats to Barack Obama for being voted the 44th President! This is quite a historic occasion.

To which I replied:

yep. sure is. just like October 25, 1917.

I will admit that my reply was a bit snarky, but I also thought it quite clever, if not downright prescient. Anyway the moderator of the forum removed the thread to avoid potential nasty responses and unpleasantness.* I don't necessarily blame the moderator since that's their job (a volunteer one), but having the thread removed did make me think about why I chose snarkiness.

First, I don't want to congratulate Obama ... why should I? If I work real hard to educate myself, start at the bottom of the career ladder, gain valuable experience working my way up and finally, after demonstrating significant competence and ability and dedication to my organization, I get promoted to an executive position, I might expect some, and be entitled to, congratulations.

If, on the other hand, I'm given every break in obtaining an Ivy League education, use political means and a network of connections to advance, use questionable tactics to take out those competing with me for promotion at every level and finally, after recognizing and taking advantage of an organizational weakness, I am chosen as CEO despite my inexperience, should I be congratulated?

If you want to congratulate Obama for being a shrewd politician and knowing how to work the system, that's fine. As long as you know what it says about you for admiring those characteristics. Getting elected President of the United States was a remarkable achievement, but that doesn't mean he earned it, or our congratulations.

One might say he was entitled to win, but then someone would point out that entitlement implies government programs and is therefore a racist comment, which brings me to the next issue.

I find it incredibly disturbing that there is so little tolerance of any criticism of Obama. It's been apparent since the beginning. If you expose the tactics, you're racist. If you question the ideology, you're racist. If you run critical ads, you're threatened. If you report unflattering facts, you're shouted down. If you ask difficult questions, you're banished or investigated. If you don't agree with him, you're marginalized.

Given this track record, I doubt that President Obama will be the same "good sport" that President Bush has been when being ridiculed by Stewart, Colbert, Letterman and Maher. Oh wait. Nevermind. He won't have to be. I'm sure they've already gotten the memo ... "please don't squeeze the Shaman!"

* update: the thread has been re-instated and has been met with a rather large yawn so far ... an update to the update ... the thread actual spawned a long and reasonably well mannered discussion of many political issues, the most recent of which is the discussion of the automaker bailouts. See, it is possible to have polite political discussions ... but, apparently now not only can you not criticize Obama, you can't even ask them to tap the brakes on the praise!



McCain Wins. Olbermann's Head Explodes!

McCain Wins. Matthew's Suffers Leg Paralysis!

McCain Wins. Andrea Mitchell Dumb(founded)!

Obama Wins! Markets Rebound!
On Strength of Battery and Bottled Water Sales

McCain Wins. Dems Vow to Improve Voter Fraud Programs!

Obama Wins! France Vaults to #1 in Military Rankings.

McCain Wins. Americans Remain Arrogant Racists.

A Winner Declared! Urban Centers Riot!

Obama Wins! Fairness Doctrine Re-enacted!
Mark Levin to Co-Host MSNBC's Countdown

Obama Wins! Pelosi & Reid Caught 'Celebrating' in Janitors Closet At Victory Party*
*Photo ID's Required

McCain Wins. Obama Consoled by Wright!
Wright: "God #@$& America!"

Obama Wins! Inauguration Plans Revealed!
Ayers to Read Poetry of Mahmoud Darwish

McCain Wins. Dems Fire MSM!
Rush, Hannity, Levin et al Not for Hire.

McCain Wins. Democrats Sue!
Claiming Racism, Stupidity, & Failure to Submit

McCain Wins. Palin Forgives MSM.
Invites Katie and Charlie to Church

Obama Wins! Angry Poodle Savages Stuffed Animals!

Please submit your suggested headlines in the comments below.

inspirational thanks to aball ;)


Just Call Me Moses Rose

This particular presidential election has made me feel like Moses Rose's first cousin. Obviously it got me motivated to start this blog, to try to express (or should I say vent) my thoughts, but it goes beyond simply being anxious; Barack Obama scares the hell out of me.

I've never been a huge McCain fan, and frankly, I doubt that I would have been so worked up about it if the Democrats had nominated Hillary or John Edwards. If I'm honest enough to admit that, then it must be Obama that scares me.

There are two primary causes of my concern. The first is, I simply do not understand why his supporters are so enthusiastic. It's not simple admiration or logic or even partisanship, it's like he holds them in thrall and they are incapable of reason or critical objectivity. When I can't understand something or even imagine the perspective it comes from, that scares me.

Secondly, people like Obama who reach beyond duty, service and the operational execution of their responsibilities by invoking spirituality are scary. Typically they want to merge the spiritual with the practical, faith with reason and emotion to duty not because they truly believe it's "the right thing to do" or "God's plan", but because it gives them power. He has said point blank that he wants to "fundamentally change" America, and it's accepted without question as a good thing. He has said he wants to "change the world". By what power? He has said he wants to create a "civilian national security force." Say WHAT? What if Cheney had proposed that? What's amazing is the same people who rail against religion in America and oppressive faith based Muslim regimes are willing to assign him the role of de-facto spiritual leader. That is scary.

Some may say, "you're over reacting" or "it's not as bad as you say it is" and I certainly hope it's not, but the early voting numbers support my concern. I believe that people are either in love with Obama, or they fear Obama, and that is driving the turnout. I hope they fear him.

As I stated earlier, I don't understand the enthusiasm for this man. He has done nothing of consequence, and somehow that is a virtue. The greatest argument he makes for himself is that he is not George W. Bush, but doesn't that apply to nearly everyone, including his opponent? Even if you do not consider his specific ideology he's shown no particular skill in economics, foreign policy, national security or even holding a job! As for character we only know two things about him ... what character he says he has, and what character he has demonstrated ... but unfortunately, the main tool for discovering his demonstrated character, the press, has decided to take him at his word on character issues.

I've talked to a few Obama supporters, to try to help me understand their enthusiasm. Here's a synthesis of some reasons I've been given.

Have you read his books? He's so intelligent. They are beautifully written and if you've read them then you do know him. He's an articulate, spiritual person who really knows and trusts himself. He's not the typical politician. He's different.

Yes, I've read his books, and sorry, I wasn't impressed. He comes across as more confused than convicted. If he's such a gifted writer, why didn't he publish anything for the Harvard Law Review when he was editor? Is he articulate? We don't know because we have not seem him under pressure, and we have not seen him outside of a controlled environment. And spiritual?Oh please, give me a break. You do not attend a church for 20 years, describe its pastor as a spiritual mentor, and then suddenly discard and discount all of that for political purposes. But they are right about the 'not typical' part; he's an extraordinary politician ... dangerously extraordinary ... who has gone from being unknown to being the leading presidential candidate in what, four years? He's either a political savant, or fulfilling destiny.

Look, the time is right. We need change. He knows what's wrong with America. He was against a war that no one wanted, and he's the polar opposite of those in power now, who don't see how bad things are. We must shake up 'politics as usual'. He's our symbol. He's opposed to Republicans and he's legitimately defeated the old guard Democrats. How can that not be destiny?

We need change? No, we need to improve, but we don't need to change for change sake. And the war? He should get zero credit for his stance because HE WAS A STATE SENATOR AT THE TIME WITH NO STAKE IN THE GAME! Hell, we are ALL against war when we've got no responsibility. I can't believe how easily the Democrat party voters were manipulated on that topic. Doesn't it really just prove that we don't like ourselves very much and that we (meaning all the generations before us) have been on the wrong path? Do we really know better than our fore-fathers? Is it really time to tear that down? And he is no symbol. He is an opportunistic politician who has wrested racism from the social conscience and used it to promote himself. Review his political career and tactics and tell me what part of 'politics as usual' he has not exploited for his own political gain?

Electing Obama will prove to ourselves and the world that we are not a racist society, and that we want to become an equal partner in the world community. Obama as president tangibly demonstrates our concern for being part of that community and he will restore our international reputation.

No, it won't. Our friends will remain our friends and the people who want to kill us and see America brought to its knees will still feel the same way. As an added bonus, they may want to exploit our new found sensitivity. Face it, the world needs a strong America. You may not want to live up to the responsibility, but are you willing to abdicate that responsibility to Russia? to China? to a Muslim empire?

He cares about the middle class. His policies all reflect his concern for them. He understands that sometimes people need help. He's for healthcare and jobs and environmental goodness. He's in touch with what the common people need.

The only reason he invokes the middle class so frequently is that he needs their votes. He'd like to see them controlled by labor unions, whether they are labor or management. He'd like to control a big piece of your personal life by taking healthcare choices away. He's not interested in lifting up the middle class, he wants to keep them down by taking away incentives and creating a 'limited good' society. It does not take a scholar to see that the creation of Social Security and Medicare and Medicaid has actually taken away our freedom of choice since you cannot even discuss altering those programs without risking political suicide. Obama wants to create more of those programs. We, the generations after FDR, are paying the price for the failure of Social Security. Do you want to saddle your children and grandchildren with the debt that further programs will require? How selfish is that, and how does that help the middle class? I suppose it does help to keep them in their place.

Frankly, I can find no logical reason to support Obama. None of his social, foreign relation or economic policies make much sense, unless of course you want to see America become yet another weak, socialist country with no sense of purpose. And his intangible leadership skills are suspect because the only thing he has excelled at is promoting himself. I've already admitted that reasonable, objective criticism cannot be expected ( and probably won't be tolerated if he's elected ) and so any logical reasons against Obama will have no meaning to his supporters.

I could argue for a long time, and others more effectively than me, about how experience, character, political tactics, radical ideology, judgement, anti-semitism, corruption, culpability in the housing crisis, racism, promoting class envy, the moving definition of "rich", socialism, the importance of past associations, black liberation theology, missing pieces of the biography, fraudulent fundraising and the divine inspiration of memoirs would, for any normal candidate, create the scenario for a monumental defeat. But those have no meaning in this debate. Obama is, apparently, above it all. Every reasonable question is off limits with this guy.

When reason does not apply, only faith can provide an answer.

This morning I attended church. Pastor Harry's sermon was, as usual, well prepared and delivered. The subject was 'risk taking mission', how we should step out from our comfort zone and reach out to those outside of our church family. To look for opportunities to show love and compassion and caring to others that we may not have considered before.

Of course, I had brought my election anxiety with me and it was easy to see the power in the desire to 'change the world', to make it a better place, to promote love and compassion and understanding. Is that what Obama is tapping into? Is he helping us to be better people? Is that his plan to change the world, by having us be better individuals, asking us to give more? Is that the source of his supporters fervent belief? Do they believe he will help them be better people and America a better country?

A beautiful thought, but scary. I don't believe that Obama can make us be better people, and in fact, I would strongly argue that his ideology would do the exact opposite. It would turn us inward and make us think in terms of what we are entitled to instead of what we can strive for. I don't know if he's arrogant enough to believe that he, individually, can make that sort of difference in the world, but I have no doubt that he believes the power of the American economy and the spirit of the American people can change the world.

The problem is, we are already doing that, and "fundamental change" is only required if we agree that we need to change America to meet his vision. God gave us free will, and when we choose to change the world, to make it a better place, from within our own personal, individual desire, that is powerful. When you do those things at the direction, or coercion, of another, instead of from a personal commitment, you have given up control of your spiritual life.

It doesn't get scarier than that.