Bore Patch: Battlefield Preparation and Ft. Hood

Bore Patch: Battlefield Preparation and Ft. Hood

Please click the link above and consider the truth and practical implications of this assessment of the battle at Ft. Hood.

Makes you think, doesn't it?


All You Need to Know About Pelosi's Health Care Bill

I'm working on being more succinct.  I wish Congress would.


So, Con-men, ruin us

To Mr. Jim Guest, CEO, Consumers Union:

Last week I cancelled my subscription to Consumer Reports.

It wasn't because I sprained my eye muscles from rolling them every time I had to wade through the underlying global-warming-eco-religion whackism in every stinking product review. It wasn't because you have abandoned any pretense of objectivity and became a government snitch for the EPA. It wasn't even the condescending email I received from P. Rick Burns, Customer Relations Representative #1326379, which effectively said that my opinions were not sufficiently enlightened enough to appreciate how hard CU has "fought" for me, the lowly, weak and uneducated consumer.

No, what ripped it was your obviously partisan urging to support the Democrat health care plan(s). "Doing nothing about health care is not a solution" and "policymakers need to find a solution this year" ... did you hire James Carville to write this for you? "We don't endorse candidates" my ass.

So I cancelled my subscription. Why would I want to continue to support your statist agenda? Especially since I'll never be able to trust your auto reviews now that your minders and union brethren own the American auto companies!

Interestingly, within 72 hours of cancellation, the volume of spam to my email account quadrupled. I suggest you amend the section of your privacy policy which reads:

If you have an online subscription to one of our sites, purchase and download any of our online reports and services, or enter an online contest or sweepstakes, Consumer Reports will not exchange or rent for promotional purposes any information that specifically identifies you.

In the interest of full disclosure you should probably add in:

But if you cancel your subscription, all bets are off ... we're selling your email address to every spammer we know.

One of the spammers, of course, is Consumers Union itself, and today I received an email from you, Mr. Jim Guest, CEO, asking me to "demand action" on health care reform. Typically fascist of you. Are you so intent on action, action, ACTION that you don't care about why subscribers cancel and you don't think we can take the time to make the right kind of reforms?

Here's a step-by-step response to your insipid email.

Have you dreamed of becoming your own boss, going back to school, moving to a new place, having another child—but then thought, 'what about my health coverage?'

No. But if I did my thought would be, why has the government created such a freaking monstrous regulatory and litigation filled environment which makes my health coverage so expensive?
Most of us worry about paying for health care, even if we have good insurance, and we give up a lot of our dreams for a little health security. We give up dreams of retirement, a different career or better education. Millions who have poor coverage or no insurance at all give up needed check-ups, preventive care and medication.

We don't worry about paying for health care ... we worry about paying for insurance! Riddle me this, Mr. Obama regurgitator ... why do we need insurance coverage for preventative care and check-ups anyway? Do you buy insurance to replace tires or get your oil changed? And if anyone is giving up their "dream" for the sake of "health security" it either isn't a very big dream, or they are such wussies they probably wouldn't succeed anyway.
It's time to give all Americans freedom from the health insurance trap. In the health care reform we envision, you can keep good insurance coverage if you've got it, or choose reliable alternatives that cover what you need at affordable rates. No one is denied for pre-existing conditions; no one goes bankrupt because of illness. With that kind of freedom, you don't have to put aside your dreams.

Freedom from the health insurance trap? Don't you realize that the government CREATED that trap by incentivizing employers to provide insurance and separating the consumer from the purchasing decision? And there you go again repeating Obama's lie that you can keep your insurance (that's right, I said it - he lied!). What makes you think insurance companies will even want to compete in this market? What makes you think employers will not just pay a fine and leave employees swinging, grasping for a 'public option'? And the pre-existing conditions ... do you not understand the concept of risk? How do you expect insurance companies to stay in business if they cannot use their actuaries to design products? And that whole business of no one going bankrupt due to illness ... well, that's about as a likely as a world free of nuclear weapons. How naive. And how you can equate these current congressional health care plans to freedom is beyond me. What about the freedom to opt out? Oh, you can't allow that because some people might not be responsible enough to take care of themselves and then we all have to shoulder the burden, right? Wrong. They roll the dice, they take their chances and besides I don't see dead people stacking up in the streets because they are being denied care, do you?

To get the kind of health security we need, insurance companies should be required to take all applicants, employers should be required to cover their employees or pay into the system, and we need to allow people to buy into something like Medicare.

Do insurance companies get to set the price for "all applicants" or will it be mandated to make it "affordable?" Can you say, 'buh-BYE insurance companies'? Do you not understand that the high cost of employment is already a terrible burden on our economy, especially for small and mid-sized businesses? Yeah, let's make the employers pay ... what do they do for us except provide wages to everyone. Besides, they're all rich, right? And why would you want "something like Medicare."  Are you insane?  MEDICARE IS BANKRUPT! You worry about individuals going bankrupt, but don't care about the entire freaking country? Simply amazing.

If we are going to each shoulder financial responsibility for health care—individuals and employers alike—then the coverage must be affordable. But we also must be smarter about how we spend our health care money. We now spend too much for too little. We don't need to pay for hospital-acquired infections or substandard care. We do need to pay for prevention and the effective management of chronic disease. When we catch illness early, we enjoy a better outcome at a lower cost.

Why is it that when liberals speak of 'shouldering financial responsibility' they forget to mention that this burden is already way out of whack, with 25% of the population paying 85% of the taxes. If you continue to punish the successful at some point, they quit ... and then who totes the note? And why do we spend too much today? Well there is waste, fraud, malpractice insurance, research and development, excessive regulation, over testing, coverage mandates and of course that nasty 3% profit ... a whole host of reasons, but fundamentally it's because the consumer is insulated from the real costs and the actual transaction for goods and services. If there was market pressure, instead of Medicaid payment schedules and government mandates, efficiencies would improve, bad providers would be driven out and prices would go down. And that whole "preventative care reduces costs" *HS drives me crazy. More screening, more visits, more tests will drive costs up and if you don't believe me, how about the New England Journal of Medicine ? If you want to see lower costs, make people write a check for the cost of services ... they'll be wheeling and dealing like Charlie Rangel at an IRS audit and who knows, maybe they won't buy that carton of cigarettes so they can pay for the chest x-rays ... give the consumer some freedom to decide. Sound familiar?

Without reform, what dreams will our children have to give up? Our children will enjoy even less health care security than we have today, and pay more to care for us. We have an opportunity right now to finally overcome the obstacles that have defeated reform for decades, but we all need to work together to make it happen. Do you know anyone else who might join you in action? Forward this e-mail to them so they can send their own message.

OMG. I cannot believe you brought the kids into this. I'll tell you the dream they have to give up ... the dream of ever getting out of DEBT you ignorant TWIT! And health care security? Seriously, is anyone secure in regard to their health care? Ok, maybe PRISONERS! I'll tell you what we have an opportunity to do ... we have an opportunity to avoid yet another government intrusion into our lives, the greatest and likely final one. In the next 40 years, spending on Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid will double. DOUBLE. And we can't afford it now, genius. How are you going to pay for this? And don't give me that 'budget neutral' crap. If it's budget neutral, why do I have to start paying for it now, but it won't kick in for three more years? It's 'budget neutral' in exactly the same way that Social Security is self funded. What a maroon you are. And what exactly is it that you want to make happen? The destruction of our economy and our country?

Oh, and I'm forwarding this email alright ... I hope you'll be hearing from them.

Sorry I can't give you a 'Best Buy' rating ... although you scored "Excellent" in the sanctimony, arrogance and fascist categories they are not the features in which most consumers are interested.

Consumers Union ... an anagram of So, Con-men, Ruin Us. I should have known better than to subscribe in the first place.


A former subscriber

* Horse


My Brother's Keeper

... for I was hungry and you gave Me food; I was thirsty and you gave Me drink; I was a stranger and you took Me in; I was naked and you clothed Me; I was sick and you visited Me; I was in prison and you came to Me.

Someone tossed out this New Testament scripture (Matthew 25:35-36) in a discussion about health care reform. They added their own addendum, 'I needed healthcare and you gave me affordable insurance' expecting, of course, for everyone to come to the conclusion that Jesus supports Obama.

In July religious leaders from "a wide spectrum of faith traditions" issued a statement of support for health care reform, proclaiming it an urgent need. In August, President Obama participated in a national call-in and audio webcast to rally support from the religious community for his (or someone's) plan. He took that opportunity to declare providing health care for all an ethical and moral obligation, and even threw in a few King James Version phrases, "bearing false witness" and "brother's keeper". Which do you think is more authentic, Obama quoting scripture, or Karl Rove rapping?

Our pastor wrote in this month's newsletter that "Jesus was a liberal." In this week's Sunday School lesson the author writes "Giving priority to the welfare of persons over profits rouses fear and resentment in many hearts" and makes the argument that many are fearful of Christianity because it is a threat to our Western culture and, presumably, capitalism.

I am wary, and weary, of people who use religion as a weapon in social policy and political debates.

Dad didn't go to church. Somewhere around 1970 an elder from the church Mom took us to told me that I needed to 'work on' getting my father to church, but I wasn't about to talk church with Dad. He once told me that as a kid he was baptized every time a Baptist or Methodist tent preacher came to town, which was at least twice a year, and he was pretty sure he was covered. Anyway, this elder informed me that if Dad didn't come to church, he'd end up in hell. I never mentioned the conversation to Dad; his reply wouldn't be hard to imagine. I've never fully trusted "organized religion" since.

This story is just a little background to illustrate my life-long distaste and distrust of anyone who uses 'faith' or 'religion' or 'GEE-zuss' to justify their actions or promote their agenda. If the elder was truly interested in my father's soul, he should have been talking directly to him, not through a child. Simplifications like 'Jesus was a liberal' and 'capitalism is evil' tell us much more about the author's political opinions than they do about Christ. And does any rational human being, religious or not, believe that bombers, whether the suicide or abortion clinic type, are doing God's work? If God does not work at the political extremes, why would He work in the middle? In my opinion, God is not a politician, and the Bible is not a position paper (or a science book).

Now Cain talked with Abel his brother and it came to pass, when they were in the field, that Cain rose up against Abel his brother and killed him. Then the LORD said to Cain, “Where is Abel your brother?” He said, “I do not know. Am I my brother’s keeper?”

This Old Testament scripture (Genesis 4:8-9) is the original source of "my brother's keeper." Cain is essentially asking God, sarcastically, if he is 'responsible' for his brother. Most people assume that God's answer is "Yes, of course you are!" Of course you should help your brother ... it's the moral and ethical thing to do, it's what Jesus would do, it's what compassionate Christians should do ... you should always take care of your brothers and sisters.

You can, however, interpret this story in other ways. Animals in zoos have keepers, not the people made in God's image. Would Abel want to be 'kept' by his brother Cain? These are grown men with careers; Abel was described as a 'keeper of sheep.' If Cain had said, 'My brother is not a sheep and I am not his keeper', which seems a fair rephrasing, would President Obama be using this scripture as the moral foundation for his (or someone's) health care plan?

In this Biblical story God did not answer "Yes, you are your brother's keeper." Instead, the first thing God says is, "What have you done?" This is not a lesson about failure and omission, of simply forgetting to 'keep' your brother. This is a lesson about being responsible for your actions. Cain killed his brother. He took his life. Cain didn't forget to be compassionate toward his brother, he used his strength against his brother in a fit of anger and jealousy. The question from this scripture that should be used in the health care debate is not "Am I my brother's keeper?" but rather "What have you done?"

Assume for a moment that the current iteration of Obama's (or someone's) plan passes. How would we answer 'What have you done?' Have we provided affordable health care for all? No, we have not - not practically and not personally. Have we become our brother's keeper? No, we have not. We have instead handed our brother over to be kept, by the government. We have imprisoned him. Have we become more moral and ethical? No, we have not. We will have abdicated those obligations to the government, and to the "rich" and unrepresented future generations, who must pay for it.

I am not my brother's keeper, nor do I want to be. I also don't wish to be 'kept.' I have no need of Presidents defining morality, or of 'religionists' controlling public policy. It is not moral or ethical to give up personal responsibility or to empower bureaucratic keepers. The Democrats like to frame this debate in terms of "doing something" versus "doing nothing," yet it is the Democrat plan (or someone's) that requires us to do nothing. Health care becomes a government problem. Paying for it becomes someone else's debt, and we won't even have to take care of our brother, someone else will be keeping him.


Valid Questions

BackyardConservative: Bill Ayers No Dream

When Barack Obama first made a splash I had not one, not two but three friends give me a copy of "Dreams of My Father". They were all quite goo-goo over him based on his books. I thought they (both books) were pretty much just sentimentalism and self-promotion - something you could watch on Oprah in a 10 minute interview.

When the 'Ayers wrote Dreams' conspiracy(?) theory popped up it seemed plausible to me. It's not like there wasn't a precedent. I'm sure Ayers was yanking this blogger's chain here ( or telling the truth with deniability still intact ), but the question it raises is valid ...

IF it had been proven during the campaign that Obama had a ghostwriter for his autobiography, any ghostwriter, not just Ayers, would he have won the nomination or the election? And IF it's true, would it change your opinion of him now?


Fun(d) Raising

A friend of mine told me about getting a call from some GOP fundraiser. His response was that he would be contributing to individual candidates that reflect his conservative values. That makes sense to me, though supporting a few select conservative candidates (and subscribing to National Review) seems to have put my name on the 'sucker' list for Republicans of all stripes. My mailbox (both types) are overflowing with requests.

Here's the concerning bit. In all likelihood the Republicans are misreading the Obama backlash as a 'pro-Republican' wave. It's not. It is an anti-business-as-usual wave. The people aren't fed up with Democrats so much as they are of incumbents. The foolish Dems thought they were getting "new politics" and a whole host of folks who would normally vote Republican voted for Obama because they fell for the "change" mantra. They really just got more of the "failed policies of the past" ... Woodrow Wilson's policies. I guess everything old is new again.

Anyway, I've decided to have some fun with my solicitors. Every piece of crap mail I get at my house is being returned with some honest, grassroots, conservative feedback.

I got the above from my friends at the NRSC. I'm mailing it back to them as marked.


Peas in a Pod

Someone has to say it, Chris Matthews was right. In speaking about Teddy Kennedy, Matthew's said:

He wanted to be his brother's brother, and then he turned that torch over last year to Barack Obama. And the great thing about the Kennedy's is they always grew as a family. They tended to get better as they got older. This family got better. The Kennedy commitment to civil rights was almost accidental. It began because of history, '63 and Martin Luther King's march. By Bobby it became passion, by Teddy it became real, and then Teddy turns it over to the first African American and says, 'You got the ball.' Amazing history, Barack is now the last brother.
It's easy to see how Barack is now the last brother, though Matthews got it right for the wrong reasons.

Joseph Kennedy, the Kennedy patriarch, was involved in numerous and highly public extramarital affairs. Barack Obama, Sr. was a bigamist. Joe Kennedy was the exclusive importer of Gordon's Gin and Dewar's Scotch, and he was rumored to have made his fortune illegally distributing alcohol during Prohibition. Barack Sr. was an alcoholic.

John F. Kennedy's book 'Profiles In Courage' won a Pulitzer Prize in biography. From the moment it was published there were rumors it was ghostwritten, which were proven to be true in 2008. Rumors of authenticity also surround Barack Obama, Jr.'s book 'Dreams from My Father.' Both candidates used this literary 'street cred' to bolster their academic bonafides, and the books were crucial elements in their rise to celebrity.

Robert Kennedy had intricate knowledge of the Teamsters and organized labor activities. Barack Obama, Jr. is also intimately familiar with labor unions. One would be characterized as having an outside perspective, while the other would be more of an insider. Also like Robert, Barack was educated in a variety of settings, including schools in other countries. Neither had much stability in their childhood family life.

Like Edward 'Teddy' Kennedy, Barack Obama, Jr. has demonstrated a belief, and need, for a multi-tiered justice system, where elites get away with crimes that get common folks convicted whether it's tax evasion, voter intimidation or manslaughter. They, apparently, have similar beliefs in the purity and altruism of the welfare state, most likely because they see themselves as above it, rather than in it. Barack and Teddy also have either mediocre or non-existent academic records and an ability to find undeserved success. Obama was the first black president of the Harvard Law Review, and, curiously, did not publish anything in the review, though he still got a book contract based on that position. Teddy was busted for cheating at Havard and never paid a political price for it.

Religion fills an interesting role for both Kennedy's and Obama's. Barack Sr. was a Catholic converted to Islam who became an atheist. The Kennedy's, so closely associated with the Roman Catholic Church, were often at odds with their faith especially on issues such as adultery and abortion. JFK's Catholicism and potential obligations to the Pope were an issue in the 1960 campaign, as was Barack Jr.'s membership at Trinity and his devotion to Reverend Wright. Faith for either family seems to have been a tool of political expediency and not a belief system.

In political ideology, if it hadn't already been used, Barack could have easily delivered ...
And so, my fellow Americans, ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you can do for your country.
... because that is what he believes, that the state takes precedence over the individual.

Teddy may have passed the torch, but he seems to have done it in much the same way that he championed civil rights, like it was a gift ... something only he had the right to bestow, something granted to lessers from their betters and never with the intention of providing truly equal opportunity. After all, there can truly only be one royal family at a time.

* H/T to Kris at shoutfirst for the idea on the photo images
Which one doesn't have a halo?


A Cowboy Poet

My Uncle Ed passed away on July 12, 2009. I'm stealing these photos and comments from a couple of my sisters. I just wanted to share them, especially with my Panhandle friends.

According to Christina, this is Uncle Ed on his horse 'Red'. Seems like the Turner boys always had short, simple names for their horses ... Doc and Frank and Hollywood and Blondie (a palomino, of course). Uncle Ed said Red would jump in the back of a pickup bed while he was riding him. I don't doubt it.

More from Christina:

Mom went to the service today in Alanreed. Ed had told someone he didn't understand all the hype about cowboy poets, and he could write a cowboy poem too. So he scratched this one out on the back of an envelope...

I would like to tell a story before I leave this world.
It's not about Texas; it's not about a girl.

It's not about the places I've been or what I've seen.

It's something about cowboys, and what cowboys dream.
They like to dream about a pony that someday they're gonna own.

He might be a bay, or a little bald-faced roan.

You can bet he'll be a dandy and he'll be a handy too.

The kind the ladies love-
The punchers will like him true.
He'll be an easy keeper and safe to be around.

Rounding up a pasture or rodeo-ing in town.

He'll never cause you trouble

He'll just bring you bliss.

Come to think about it folks

I've owned two or three like this.

And I'm still dreaming.

"Little" Ed Turner

Amos Ed Turner, Jr.


Listen to the Music

Here's a snippet from an email sent out by the Republican Party of Texas this evening:

Texas is home to three of these so-called Blue Dog Democrats who are caving to the radical leftwing Democrats. They are Rep. Chet Edwards (D-Waco), Rep. Gene Green (D-Houston) and Rep. Ciro Rodriguez (D-San Antonio). These Blue Dogs should not be Pelosi's lap dogs. They need to hear from Texans that enough is enough, and a vote for the Democrats’ government-run health care system will be the end of their political careers. Please follow the links and call them, now.

Here's a snippet from an email that Barack sent out about 1PM today:

It’s time to fix our unsustainable insurance system and create a new foundation for health care security. That means guaranteeing your health care security and stability with eight basic consumer protections:

* No discrimination for pre-existing conditions
* No exorbitant out-of-pocket expenses, deductibles or co-pays
* No cost-sharing for preventive care
* No dropping of coverage if you become seriously ill
* No gender discrimination
* No annual or lifetime caps on coverage
* Extended coverage for young adults
* Guaranteed insurance renewal so long as premiums are paid

Over the next month there is going to be an avalanche of misinformation and scare tactics from those seeking to perpetuate the status quo. But we know the cost of doing nothing is too high. Health care costs will double over the next decade, millions more will become uninsured, and state and local governments will go bankrupt.

No doubt some smart person on some well respected blog could dissect either email, pinpoint the lies and fabrications and deliver some unassailable commentary about the respective truthfulness of these missives. This is not that blog. This is just arguing with a fencepost, and this is what the fencepost hears from me.

On the one hand you have an aggressive, purely political call to action that names names and details consequences. The Republican Party of Texas makes no bones about it. They write the labels in bold letters ... "leftwing radicals", "lap dogs", "government-run healthcare" ... and the call to action is quite clear.

On the other you have the broad 'we're gonna fix it' brush covering over every nagging healthcare problem, with "new foundations" and "guarantees." Instead of naming names, it insinuates that any information that doesn't support 'doing something' is just "misinformation and scare tactics" and then it immediately tries to scare the crap out of you with "costs will double" and "uninsured" and "bankrupt."

No reading between the lines or parsing the phrasing is really necessary, is it? Just read it and get a feel for it ... the tone ... the manipulation* ... the agenda. The conclusion I came to was this:

If bullshit was music, Barack would be a brass band.**

* it reminds me of Mr. Mainway's attempt to market the Bag O' Glass

** based on a Paddy Crosbie quote


Bad Parents

The meeting started a few minutes late. We were hoping one or two more members would show up because of the whole 'decently and in order' thing. Two additional members arrived about five minutes late so we had our quorum. If they had not shown up we would have canceled the meeting. Rules can be pesky like that.

Just as the previous meeting minutes were approved there was a knock at the outside door and immediately a curious "Hello?" coming from the hallway outside the office. Apparently the outside door was unlocked. Never one to miss an opportunity to sneak out of a meeting, I volunteered to investigate.

In the hallway was a stubby, forty-ish woman, somewhat disheveled, sweaty but not stinky, who, upon seeing me, immediately launched a breathless story about running out of gas and eviction notices and feeding kids and the bad economy. She waved her hands broadly, her head bobbing up and down and side to side, attempting to pin my eyes with hers, just outside the closed office door.

The hallway connects the office with Sunday school classrooms, the nursery and the fellowship hall. It's empty, except for me and this woman. The meeting was after hours. The scene triggered a memory of a young man about 6 years old standing in the same hallway and gesturing in the same way as the unexpected visitor. He was attempting to explain to me why it had been necessary for him to get a bucket of ice cubes from the kitchen, carry it to the top of the spiral slide on the playground and dump it down the slide while a group of little girls was attempting to climb up the slide. Upon removal from the playground by the nearest enforcer (aka "parent"), which happened to be me, he was pleading his case in hopes of preventing being ratted out to his parents.

The temptation to fire up the public safety and courtesy lecture was strong. Somehow, I resisted. I simply told him, "I will be speaking to your Dad about this", and I did. Later the boy remarked to my son, "You sure have a mean Dad" which is, of course, one of the great aspirations of my life ... to be "the mean Dad."

The delivery of the woman's "out of gas" story was flawless, and obviously well rehearsed. She attempted to herd me into a corner by circling around and standing uncomfortably close. I stood my ground and, having made the mental connection to the guilty six year old, easily adopted the role of parental observer. Her tone changed from subtly demanding to practiced pleading.

She dug in her purse saying, "I can show you the gas gauge on the car it's right out here in the parking lot and I've got the eviction notice right here. I need to get to daycare to get my kids soon or they'll charge me extra for being late. I've been looking for work all day and lost track of time. I only need twenty ... or ten or whatever you or your friends can spare." The last was said just quickly enough so it was clear the retail price was twenty dollars. I didn't say anything and instead just walked to the outside door and opened it. She stayed inside. I reached for my wallet. She stepped outside. I handed her ten dollars and said, "Don't come back." She left, without saying thanks of course, feeling, no doubt, that she had won.

She drove out of the parking lot in her older, but clean, Lexus sedan. The back plate was in a green and white 'DriveTime' license plate holder. There was a man in the passenger seat. I didn't care where they were going.

Once, a few years ago, our friend's fourth grade daughter opined, "Even third graders have cell phones now, Dad!" to which her father replied, "They must have bad parents." She didn't get the cell phone, and probably felt she had lost the argument without realizing the lesson. She probably will, someday.

After the meeting someone asked "Who was that at the door?" I told the story, briefly, and someone commented, "That was very Christian of you." I knew what they meant. And I knew they were wrong. Being a good Christian does not usually involve handing out money in inconsequential denominations. It was just bad parenting.

The money was a pay off, pure and simple. It wasn't given with a charitable heart and it really meant nothing to either of us. She gained ten dollars, hush money. Ten bucks for 5 minutes work. Maybe she earned it, the way that whiny kids throwing a tantrum earn the candy or toy that keeps them quiet. When you see that little drama between a parent and child play out in a store somewhere, do you ask yourself, "Who's the parent?" If the child gets the toy, you immediately know, at least at that particular moment in time. Is it fair to the child to put them in charge? What do they learn, the powerful strategy of whining?

Good parents say no ... a lot. They know if they don't the kids won't be able to handle failure and they will spend all their time pouting and moaning and crying and saying "But that's not FAIR!"

Which we all know comes once a year, usually in October.



It happened once on September 26, 1996, the night the Texas Rangers clinched the American League West for the first time ever. I was driving home on Central Expressway. Then there was the time at the Trail Dust Steakhouse in Denton, on March 4, 2001, after the house band played the first few bars of 'San Antonio Rose.' Another time I was sitting on the rickety front porch of a mobile home in Lake Dallas, drinking beer from a cooler on a hot muggy evening, while waiting for the spray to dissipate from a bug bomb inside our trailer. The stereo inside was cranked up so we could hear it with the windows and doors closed, but we had neglected to leave a light on and it was dark outside. And it also happened, unexpectedly, on Easter, in 2008, after a relatively routine visit to the hospital.

I'm sure it happens more than I care to admit or remember. Perhaps because it's not something I would typically record for posterity. Today, however, was truly surprising. I thought I should make a note.

In 1996 I was driving home alone from the hospital the day my son was born. The Trail Dust in 2001 was just dinner out with a bunch of friends from church, though it was the day after Dad's funeral. Lake Dallas was college days, and like so many of them, I was drinking beer, probably Coors, with Ed. We were no doubt solving the mysteries of life with our educated and worldly wise perspective. Easter 2008 was when my niece Colby was born. And today, well, was just another Sunday, which makes it all the more puzzling.

Today our church had planned a July 4th celebration. After services we served hot dogs, apple pie and ice cream in the fellowship hall. We had a short choir program of patriotic songs planned, and our service veterans brought memorabilia and medals and photos and uniforms to display. My wife is chair of the Congregational Life committee so for the last several years I have approached each of these events with more of a sense of obligation than anticipation. As I was grilling hot dogs I even lamented to one of my friends that it would be awful nice to simply roll out of bed on Sunday morning, come to worship and then go home, but it always seems like there is something 'extra' to do ... the curse of having a limited volunteer pool.

Our church is not big, we have about 250 members, and with the holiday weekend chances were the crowd wouldn't be huge, and it wasn't. We served about 100 people. It was a typical fellowship event. We ate before the preacher had a chance to say the blessing. Several people went straight to the dessert table, bypassing the longer line for hot dogs. Kids put too much on their plate, and everyone praised the food, more for its spirit than its quality, I'm sure.

The memorabilia table was quite impressive. Who knew we had so many distinguished service people in our congregation? I was truly humbled.

The choir sang a medley of service anthems ... there were caissons and anchors, wild blue yonders and the shores of Tripoli. The audience sang along. As the different anthems were sung people would stand in support of the branch in which they had served. I was at the back of the room, watching men and women stand with pride, and I was humbled again. I grew up and started my adult life in the time between Vietnam and the first Gulf War, and I know I have benefited from the sacrifice and service of these men and women. I have always appreciated those who served, because I do not know if I could have, but often wonder if it's dutiful obligation or sincere appreciation that I'm feeling. Today, at church, with those members I've come to respect and admire standing and singing, I realized that their service was not out of obligation, but out of love, and that no other reason would suffice for the risk and committment required of them. They must have gladly served. And I'm sincerely glad they did.

It actually happened when the choir sang a few verses from 'O Beautiful' and finished up with 'God Bless America' ... something about God or blessings or being purposefully moral ... I'm not sure exactly what caused it.

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

While the storm clouds gather far across the sea,
Let us swear allegiance to a land that's free,
Let us all be grateful for a land so fair,
As we raise our voices in a solemn prayer.

God Bless America,
Land that I love.
Stand beside her, and guide her
Thru the night with a light from above.
From the mountains, to the prairies,
To the oceans, white with foam
God bless America, My home sweet home.
I'm leaning against the back wall watching old, sometimes frail, men scattered throughout the room, singing with pride. I see a young man in his current uniform, with his daughter and his parents, and I recognize the pride I have for him. I see boys in scout uniforms respecting their country and their elders, preparing to be men some day. I see mothers whose sons serve, and wives who supported their husband's service. And I see that it is love, not pride or greed or arrogance or the pursuit of power, that enables these people, these every day people, these Americans, to achieve 'more than self.' And I cried.

Okay, technically, I didn't cry. I just sort of misted up. And now that I think about it, it could probably be attributed to the smoke from grilling hot dogs.

That night driving home on my son's birthday? I did have the windows open. It was probably air pollution, and not the awe of new born life mixed with the fear of parenting, that made me rub my eyes.

And it's much more plausible that the stuffed jalapenos at the Trail Dust watered my eyes, not those corny Bob Wills lyrics that Dad used to sing when we rattled around the Texas panhandle in any number of old trucks.

That night at the trailer? Well, yes, we did talk a little about his brother Buddy's funeral, and how seeing his family suffer from a distance impacted me, but those bug bombs were pretty strong and I'm sure we caught a whiff or two because the air was so heavy and still.

Colby's birthday? Well, of course I was happy that this precious little girl was born to such wonderful parents, that always makes you feel good because good parents are hard to find! But it was probably more a function of driving back from San Antonio that day ... you know, the weather and pollen count can change a lot in a couple of hours of driving in Texas.

Yeah. That's it. It was probably just the old allergies acting up.


The Greatest of These

In the gospel according to Obama, three things remain forever ... celebrity, apology and sacrifice. It's a toss up as to which of these he thinks is the greatest.

Celebrity is certainly important to him. The fawning press always adds a bit of unthinking adulation to an evening out, which eliminates the need for pharmaceutical assistance on Presidential date nights. And it is celebrity which allows him, like a superstar athlete or the current box office phenom, to embrace that sense of entitlement, the infallibility of purpose and the disdain for the laws of the common people.

Apology is also an essential part of Obama. Internationally, he apologizes on our behalf, though he is, of course, blameless. Domestically it's a little trickier because he must demand apologies from some groups and completely ignore the need for confession in others. I've made a handy list, in case you are keeping score:

Apology required:
private bond holders

executives with compensation contracts

the poor bastard who took the fall for the Air Force One & Statue of Liberty photo shoot

Pro-life groups & Bill O'Reilly for the murder of Dr. Tiller

Americans who drive SUVs and use incandescent bulbs or plastic grocery bags

Apology ignored:
labor unions

politicians corrupted by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac who instigated the housing crisis

Mr. & Mrs. Obama for their extravagant date night and frequent international faux pas

Muslim extremists, Microsofts 'Rendition' game for XBox, Keith Olbermann and Code Pink for the murder of Pvt. William Long

Environmentalists who have crippled our infrastructure and undermined our national security

Recently, however, sacrifice seems to be taking the lead, at least in terms of frequency. We are hearing it more often than 'self reflection' (which is the precursor to apology) and 'the rule of law' (which, for celebrities, should actually be read as 'the rule of MY law'). Every college graduate in the country is now expected to sacrifice their personal success, and the investment in their education, for the good of the community. And those dang rich people just have not given enough; they need to bleed. And American citizens in general will just have to suck it up and suffer more taxes, greater debt, fewer choices and the undermining of our entire social fabric because, well, that's the sacrifice we will have to make to implement Obama's vision which, as an added benefit, will secure the political power base for the socialist cause for decades.

As much as I hate to drag out the cliched 'according to Webster', it's instructive here. The dictionary has three primary definitions for 'sacrifice.'

1. The act of offering something to a deity in propitiation or homage, especially the ritual slaughter of an animal or a person.

2. Forfeiture of something highly valued for the sake of one considered to have a greater value or claim.

3. Relinquishment of something at less than its presumed value.

In this case, all definitions apply.

Obama perceives himself as a deity, or at least considers his vision of re-made America as an ideological (holy?) mission, to which we owe homage. A wide variety of things are being slaughtered ... capitalism, individualism, personal responsibility, liberty, ambition. If you're the deity, sacrifice is a beautiful thing.* Things are going bad? Obviously, the worshippers have not sacrificed enough! Things are going great? Obviously, the worshippers need to sacrifice more in thanks for their blessings! It's not so much 'win-win' as 'those in charge can't lose.'

Obama told the Notre Dame grads that they will be expected to "struggle together, and sacrifice together." To what end? Why, to serve "the community" of course! Those things you highly value, your labor, your education, your liberty, your individualism, well, they are now less important than the community, the government, the state. When I review my 20th century history, several national leaders promoted the old 'duty to the state' idea ... Wilson, FDR, Kennedy ... Mussolini, Hitler, Stalin, Mao, Ho Chi Minh, Pol Pot. If Obama had any intelligence, he would realize that his famous "failed policies of the past" comment is actually referring to these guys, not Bush!

Obama also devalues what he's asking us to give up; what we have, individually, is not nearly as important as what the government needs. He thinks money is not valuable to 'the rich', which completely ignores the human effort required to obtain it. Higher taxes for the rich is just a marginal sacrifice in his world. He's right in one sense, money, in itself, is not that important. But when you declare that a college education is a right, and everyone is entitled to it, not only do you water down the experience and put it on the path to mediocrity, you also eliminate the effort and the striving for success that makes it valuable in the first place. When you declare that housing must be affordable to all, you can't elevate the poor without bringing down the rich, which eliminates the incentive to acheive. When Obama insists that our safety and security were acheived through illegal and unprincipled means, he is removing the honor and pride that must be assigned to the task, if you expect good men and women to volunteer and perhaps make the ultimate sacrifice.

True leaders strive for respect, not celebrity. They trade in principles, not apology. They make sacrifices; they don't demand them.

I have sacrificed quite a bit recently. Income. My retirement investments. Time to spend on things like this blog. Peace of mind about my families future. My faith in the American political process. My sense of humor.

I am, however, willing to give up a bit more if necessary ... for the good of the country, of course.

Things I am willing to sacrifice:
The Department of Education
My compact fluorescent light bulbs
An extra clip of ammo so that someone else can be armed
The Department of Agriculture
50% of my Social Security contributions to date in exchange for the rest in cash, right now
Any and all Obama press coverage except one annual State of the Union address or, even better, testimony at the impeachment

* I have to thank Rob Bell and his "The Gods Aren't Angry" tour for this particular insight.


The only thing we have to fear ...

I've neglected the blog, but that doesn't mean I haven't been thinking about things. Here's a half dozen or so ideas for blog posts that I've crammed into one.

With the announcement of the 'missing link' fossil you couldn't help but hear the drumbeats pronouncing "science is king!" Even Google got in the act by using a fossil graphic on its home page. Personally, evolution makes sense to me, but you can almost hear its most vocal proponents going "nyah! nyah! nyah! ... your Bible is wrong! Here's proof that religious people are ignorant!" I don't think the Bible is a science text book. For their sake, I hope they don't turn to science for spiritual answers.

Liberals like to invoke evolution as an example that, like life, morals and society and laws must change; the constitution is a "living" document. If they truly embraced evolution and natural selection, then why do they endorse corporate bailouts, welfare, social security and universal healthcare? Doesn't that undermine the natural selection process and create a less productive, less efficient species? Can any of these types of government sponsored programs be rationally supported?

It seems like the whole point of declaring "science is king" is so that the corollary, "And I, as human, am King of Science!" can be invoked. God is a threat to these rational types, not because he's going to physically strike them down, but because at some point, God forces you to humility. Royals can't have that, can they?

As long as we are talking about the Bible ... a scripture reading at church planted the seed of an idea for a blog post. The scripture is John 15:15 and it says:

I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master's business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you.
Typically, I try to avoid using scripture in blog posts ... primarily because some people will immediately put you in the 'ignorant' category (see above) ... but this one struck me. I've often commented on Obama's arrogance and the general arrogance of leaders who think they know better than me when it comes to my running my own life. People like that think of others as servants, someone from which they can demand a sacrifice (heard any commencement speeches lately?). I think they have the relationship backwards.

As long as I'm quoting scripture, why not go whole hog. When is the appropriate time to invoke morality? Is it when you are choosing abortion, or before you had the sex which created the baby? Why are we indignantly moral concerning the so-called torture of enemies, but morals become irrelevant (or simply relative) in the abortion debate?

Why is it that "sex is natural and you can't prevent teenagers from having sex so you must give them condoms ... sexual behavior can't be legislated", but its okay to have a myriad of eating laws including taxes on fat and sugar "for our own good." Is eating not natural, too? What about our appetite to succeed? You can't ask teenagers to keep their pants on, but you can dumb down their education and instill a sense of entitlement in them?

Speaking of entitlement, how in the hell did Joe Biden EVER get this far in life? He must have been the star pupil in his 'Independent Living' class. All that time he bragged about commuting on the train no one ever mentioned that it was the 'short' train. What a maroon. Seriously. The people of Delaware should be ashamed. I defy anyone to find where he has ever made a completely intelligible speech. I pray for Barack Obama's health and safety every day because his backups, Biden and Pelosi ... well, I can't even bear to think about it.

From the privileged Joe Biden, good ol' workin' man Joe, we move on to the famous and extravagantly wealthy ... Gates, Winfrey, Buffett, Soros, my uncle Ted ... who recently met in New York to discuss charity and the impact that the 'economic crisis' is having. God bless 'em, they give a LOT to charity, but seriously, do you think they have any concept of 'real life'? If you told any of them they would have to live on a million a year, could they do it? What percentage of the million would they donate? I'm happy for them, I'm glad they are successful and I wouldn't begrudge them a penny of the money they've earned, but don't you think this could have been handled with a conference call or an emailed Powerpoint presentation? Executives get belittled for flying corporate jets, but no one thinks twice about the wastefulness of our celebrity class.

Speaking of billionaires, I hear that some of them are leaving NY and CA because of the tax burden. I think Texas should make a commercial and run it in Los Angeles and New York City and invite them all to move on down here. We love billionaires. I also think getting George W. Bush to star in the commercial is an excellent idea ...

Y'all come on down. There ain't no state income tax, we got killer Tex-Mex and you don't have to pretend to be all liberal and enlightened. It'll be fun. You'll see.
Wouldn't that be delicious? Does anyone have W's email address? Maybe I'll just run this over to his house later on.

And finally, there's this. There are a whole host of folks still giving Obama the benefit of the doubt. It could be typical American apathy. It could be they think they are being kind and generous and patient. It could be that they are trying to compensate for all those right wing extremists. Maybe it's a white guilt. It could be any of those things, but I'm sensing that underneath it all, people are afraid. They're afraid he's going to succeed, or (for the weak minded) that he won't. He used 'Hope' to get elected, and now that he has the power he's got a new theme. Fear.


A Reader

Last year, before the election, a friend convinced me to start a blog. It's been fun. I think that part of me was hoping for the "starlet discovered at the soda fountain" story ... someone would read what I wrote and proclaim "GENIUS!"

I am perhaps, and however, primarily a reader and I suspect my writing, while occasionally clever, will never be profitable or acclaimed. In the meantime, I'll continue to read, and occasionally, steal ideas from the good writers I find.

I read Mark Levin's book, "Liberty and Tyranny: A Conservative Manifesto" and was expecting the typical conservative talk show host rant/memoir. Instead I got a cogent, concise, concrete (Mr. Nooncaster would be proud) and well reasoned dissertation on the conservative perspective. Critics might say that his picture of "the statist" is overstated, but then, they'd be wrong. Read this book, and you will understand that conservativism is not a club of knuckle-dragging old white guys. Conservatism has intellectual, and logical, heft and that the left is not nearly as smart as they present themselves to be. They are on the wrong side of most arguments if you consider experience, history and logic trustworthy guides.

Anyway. Read the book.

I liked the book so much, I bought 5 extra copies from Amazon and sent them to friends. I get that Chris Matthews 'tingle-up-my-leg' just thinking about a book espousing conservative principles being at the top of the best seller list for weeks. I'd like to see it up there for the rest of the year.

I sent one to my friend Tom, with the following gift note:

To: Buddy Tom
From: Texas Redneck
because you'll never buy this yourself & because it sums up conservativism nicely & I hope you pass it on to your kids
Of course, some of the people I sent a copy to are not as interested in knowledge as Tom, so as a personal touch to get their attention, I customized the gift note ...

Speaker Nancy Pelosi
Office of the Speaker
H-232, US Capitol
Washington, DC 20515

To: Speaker Pelosi
From: Charlie Tuna, American Samoa

Levin's book on your shelf ... is it more like a caterpillar? or Celine Dion?


Representative Barney Frank
2252 Rayburn Building
Washington, DC 20515

To: Representative Frank
From: Moses Gobie

"These two entities—Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac—are not facing any kind of financial crisis"

Thanks a bunch, Barney!

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid
522 Hart Senate Office Bldg
Washington, DC 20510

To: Senator Harry Reid
From: J. Brown-Whittemore

will fares on your train from L.A. to L.V. be subsidized so we can gamble our tax cuts?

You love Levin? Enjoy!

President Barack Obama
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Ave NW
Washington, DC 20500

To: President Obama
From: Tony Ayers

I hear you are a reader. Hope you enjoy the nice gesture.
Levin's a big fan ... of that Constitution you swore to protect.

It cost me $17.74 to buy each book and have it shipped from Amazon. I figure these people will never read my blog ... and even if they did, they probably wouldn't understand it. They do, however, understand and acknowledge gifts. And Levin says what they need to hear much more better than I do. Ideologues aren't much for reasoned discussion, but perhaps a bright shiny object will get their attention.

I hope every conservative who can afford it sends a few extra copies to their DC favorites. They ignore the elected Republicans. They ignore and deny TEA parties. They insult us at every opportunity by denigrating our ideas and describing us a "bitter clingers" and "right wing extremists". Perhaps instead of throwing shoes, we need to throw the book at them.


Liberal Disconnect

Recently my sister wrote, "I'm a conservative and I believe in capitalism. I can figure most things out, but I don't understand liberals." I sympathize. The disconnect between liberal words and liberal actions is maddening.*

A list on Facebook said "Five People I Would Like to Punch in the Face." They were:

1. George Bush
2. Karl Rove
3. Rush Limbaugh
4. Sean Hannity
5. Dick Cheney

President Obama's policies are naive, self serving and dangerous. As a person he seems shallow and deceitful. Rahm Emmanuel is every bit as partisan, and probably more mean spirited, than Karl Rove. There are no liberal equivalents to Limbaugh and Hannity, unless you want to count Olbermann, Letterman, Stewart or almost any network news anchor ... but individually they are inconsequential; none of them have ever been verbally attacked by a President or a presidential candidate. And Joe Biden couldn't hold Dick Cheney's jock strap. But I've never wanted to punch any of them. It is, however, an instructive list for anyone wanting to understand how liberals think.

A list like this is made because it's divisive. It's a hate list. If you don't hate George Bush, you're stupid or uninformed or unenlightened. The list maker doesn't need to be informed or enlightened because popular culture and the main stream media have already validated their opinion. "The science", or in this case "the opinion", is already in. It's been defined for you and if you fail to subscribe to what your betters are telling you, then you are "the other." Liberals have no tolerance for dissent.

A list like this comes from arrogance, the hallmark of the liberal. It's obvious in every liberal policy and position. Taxes? They want control of your money because they can manage it better than you. Foreign policy? Entire cultures, built around hating America and its principles, will change their ways simply because the liberal elites are now in charge. Second amendment? If you're not liberal, you obviously don't understand how dangerous it is to have the ignorant masses armed. Health care? Liberals really can't trust people to manage their own health care ... or retirement ... or car purchases ... or education ... or environment ... or charitable contributions ...

Apologizing for America is not a demonstration of humility, it is the ultimate arrogance, assuming the role of spokesman for generations of Americans and validating the undeserved contempt of an unappreciative world.

You make a list like this because you really can't trust anyone. Self interest, in the liberal mind, has a negative connotation. Self interested to them means greedy, not ambitious, and even ambition is suspect. Liberals don't believe that "others" will follow rules, and so more rules are always preferred. Note, however, that if you are a liberal, if you count yourself among this enlightened elite, then the rules do not apply. Rules are for "others."

You make a list like this because you have no core beliefs. Liberal political opinions are more informed by what "sounds good" than what "is good." Distinguishing between sounding good and being good requires a definition for "good" which cannot be defined without a moral foundation. Inalienable rights? A liberal might say:

We are so much more sophisticated than those provincial white males that founded the country ... surely you don't believe that those antiquated ideas can apply to our 'post-modern' society? How quaint!

Without a core belief system, the general public opinion is easily shaped and the public itself is easily divided, grouped and controlled. Without a belief in true equality, a belief in the rights and responsibilities of the individual, there is no mutual trust. Liberals can't trust the states, much less individual citizens, to take care of themselves. They want the power concentrated at the federal level, preferably with their elite group in charge because they know best how to protect us from ourselves.

This year's Tax Day Tea Parties were not about just about taxes. It's hard to believe that anyone, liberals included, believes that the government is a good steward of our money. It's an issue we can confidently agree upon. The people who attended the Tea Parties were 'just folks' ... not elites, not "right wing radicals", not power brokers and deal makers. The anti-Tea Party media tied themselves in knots by alternating between reporting and ridiculing the protestors. How dare the public disagree with what they've been told to believe. The Tea Parties were about fundamental beliefs, not the crisis of the week. It appears that the American public is just about fed up with having their beliefs undermined.

The Tea Parties did not create division, nor were they based on arrogance. They affirmed that there are things we can all agree on and that those things are grounded in our basic beliefs. Liberals intentionally divide along the lines of race, sex, faith, education and class. Conservatives believe in uniting behind common beliefs, one of which is individual freedom, not group differences. Liberals struggle with the problems of "other people". Conservatives struggle with self-sufficiency, personal responsibility and duty. Liberals must constantly adjust their position, referencing popular opinion and the latest trend. Conservatives must constantly evaluate the changing world to determine the best way to apply their core beliefs to new issues.

There is a disconnect between what liberals say and what they do. Liberals say "equality", but create laws to keep minorities subordinate. They say "prosperity", but want to control and limit it. They say "peace", but promote surrender. They say "justice", but celebrate cop killers and terrorists.

A list like this perfectly describes how modern liberals think. Create division. Assign yourself the "correct" position. Marginalize and ridicule dissenters. Repeat when necessary to maintain the position of power. If you think saying you would like to punch George Bush in the face says something about you, that it identifies you as one of enlightened, you're right. It does.

* Just when I thought I had this out of my system, on the way to work I hear that President Obama is holding his first full cabinet meeting today, and on the agenda are ideas from every department head on how they can trim $100 million dollars from their budgets. That's million, with an 'M'. Liberals say "we're cutting the budget!" on one hand, while appropriating billions ( with a 'B') and trillions ( with a 'T') of your money with the other. I particularly enjoyed these lines from our President ...

In the coming weeks, I will be announcing the elimination of dozens of government programs shown to be wasteful or ineffective. In this effort, there will be no sacred cows and no pet projects. All across America, families are making hard choices, and it's time their government did the same.

That is why I have assembled a team of management, technology and budget experts to guide us in this work, leaders who will help us revamp government operations from top to bottom and ensure that the federal government is truly working for the American people.
Let me translate. What he's really saying is ...
I plan on empowering a select group of my friends and supporters to determine which programs we will continue to fund, to further ensure your dependency on the federal government and to continue our attack on your outdated beliefs.



It was very cold outside; a thick layer of ice grew on the inside of the single paned and poorly glazed window. It was only inches from my face as I slept in the bedroom next to the kitchen. The bed covers consisted of flannel sheets and two heavy quilts that Grandma Turner had made ... the 'prettier' one was on top. I knew Dad was up, even though it was dark outside, because I woke up in a sweat. When Dad got up and came into the kitchen he always closed the bedroom door, trying to minimize the noise. He didn't realize that the space heater in the bedroom quickly turned the top bunk into a roasting oven.

For some reason, this time, I got up, instead of shedding covers and feigning sleep. I opened the door asking if breakfast was pancakes or waffles, there was a pause, a plan was forming, and I heard, "Get dressed. We're going out for breakfast. You're going to work with me today." I made a mental note for the next time similar circumstances occurred.

It was early, too early for the cafe downtown to be open, but I didn't ask questions. I got dressed, with minimal whining, and Dad filled up the silver and the green thermos with coffee. He put sugar in the green one. He sent me out to start the pickup to get it, and the defroster, warm. A shivering return, without jacket or hat or gloves, prompted his barely perceptible head shake, my corresponding weak nod and a trip to the closet.

Soon we were at the warehouse (WAHR-house), fueling up the bobtail and filling its tanks with alcohol (AL-kee-haul). The alcohol was for the natural gas pipelines up north, to keep them from freezing. Exhaust from the diesel engine ran through a large cylindrical pipe, that served as the front bumper, and exited underneath the right front, a good place to warm your feet. Liberal, Kansas was our destination and I was already wishing I had grabbed a few other clothing items from the closet.

The first leg of the trip was to Perryton, 70 miles north. Sugared coffee, a symphony of drafty whistling from the bobtail's poorly fit cab and the occasional security light at a ranch house were the only things worthy of attention in the dark of the early morning drive. We stopped at the Dutch Inn for breakfast and since the company was picking up the check I got the chicken fried steak and eggs with biscuits, cream gravy and a short stack of pancakes. I had milk to drink since my stomach was already suffering from a coffee induced acid wash. Dad had toast and sausage and orange juice. I asked why he didn't get the steak and eggs and he replied that he had had enough of that stuff growing up which confused me, since I knew he grew up dirt poor.

He grew up on a homestead farm and ranch in Gray County, near Alanreed. They fed themselves with what they raised or bartered for and occasionally bought. They had steak and eggs every morning, unless the hens didn't lay, and then they just had steak, or some form of beef. They slaughtered their own steers for meat, but they had no refrigeration. They were also feeding 10 or 12 people at every meal so it didn't make sense to salt or smoke the whole thing when they would probably be eating it soon. The solution was to haul the carcass up to the top of the windmill with a block and tackle, "where the flys couldn't blow it." Every morning one of the boys would lower it down, Grandma Turner would cut off what she needed for the day, and then they'd hoist it back up. Gather some eggs from the laying hens and there you have your steak and eggs.

What they didn't have was toasted fresh bread. Toasted usually meant the bread was stale or moldy; fresh bread was eaten with churned butter. Nor did they have sausage, unless they made it themselves, and then it was usually smoked, not fresh breakfast links or patties. And orange juice was a true luxury. He said that oranges and pecans and socks were usually what he got in his Christmas stocking, in the good years. I could usually tell when Dad was stretching the truth, making an insignificant story into an epic, but this wasn't one of those times. My fine breakfast was difficult to finish, but I did, in appreciation of my new interpretation of 'feast' and in the hope of avoiding the "you're a dang sight better off than I was" speech.

We stopped at various booster stations on the way to Liberal near Booker, Darrouzett, Follett and Beaver, OK. The booster stations were impressive. The huge natural gas fired engines, with over-sized radiators, had a pop-pop-pop-pop exhaust you could hear from miles away in the flat, rural landscape. They shook the ground around them. At each booster station was an overhead tank, with plumbing that connected to the natural gas pipeline. Our job was to fill up those tanks with methanol, to be pumped into the pipeline, to prevent any water vapor that happened to be there from freezing. It had been below freezing for days. At noon on this Saturday, it was still in the single digits.

At each station there were always several various sized rubber balls scattered around. After a few stops I was curious enough to pick one up and Dad explained that they were used to clean the line. Somewhere farther north the balls were put into the pipeline and the pressure of the gas moved them down the line. They were different sizes because of wear and almost all of them, at least the ones on the ground, were cracked and brittle.

We stopped at the cafe in Elmwood, OK for lunch, though us working men called it dinner. The waitress knew Dad; it was a regular route and he stopped there often. I had a cheeseburger and Dad had the chicken fry. It was still freezing, but we drank iced tea. We each had a small bowl of cobbler ... cherry for me and peach for Dad ... and then it was on to Liberal.

Even then I viewed vehicles as having personalities ... the trusty steed, the tireless worker, the gracefully aging. The bobtail was the ornery bastard. The clutch was going and I just knew it would leave us stranded at some remote location. The exhaust, despite being a good foot warmer, sent too many fumes back into the cab. The cab had more than drafty rattles, it had un-closable floorboard vents, which might have been great in the summer. The seats had no head rest or arm rests or seat belts so there was no napping, only perching and sliding on the vinyl. The more methanol we unloaded, the bouncier the ride got. And, of course, there was no radio. Dad sang.

We made it to Liberal, which must be the nexus for all natural gas pipelines because we made several stops with none of them very far apart. The work was done and we started the 3 hour drive back home. Along the way Dad sang Bob Wills, talked about "batchin' it" in a line shack on some old ranch and told stories about one-eyed mares, pickin' cotton, how to set a corner fence post and various other handy tidbits. I still don't believe he roped that white tail deer.

We had made a big circle through the small towns in the panhandles of Texas and Oklahoma, with a quick, short dip into Kansas, and now we were makin' a bee-line back home, to Pampa, due south on US Highway 83 in a bobtail truck that I'd just as soon cuss at as ride in. The sun set somewhere along the way home; it was a glorious high plains one. I watched its glory fade from overwhelming to what happened, bouncing along, snatching snippets of panhandle from Dad's running monologue, soaking in the high lonesome and wondering how in the hell I wound up in a near broke truck, anonymously delivering alcohol, and freezing my ass off. At least we were heading home.

When we got home there were two plates of left overs, covered with other plates, in the oven. It was Saturday night, Mom was at work. We ate quickly and as I scraped the plates Dad made dessert ... peanut butter and syrup, with torn up pieces of white bread stirred in. After that, the dishes were rinsed and stacked and I went straight to my unmade bed, being sure to ask Dad to leave the door open.

It was cold here the other morning, though not below freezing. It was hot upstairs when I went to wake up the boy. He'd kicked the covers off and though his eyes were closed, I'm sure he heard me and the dog coming up the stairs. He forgot to take a jacket to school that day. His mother was not pleased, but I sort of understood.

Heat rises. You are what you eat. Like father, like son. Heading home is a good feeling. Some things don't change ... and shouldn't.


Bad Guys

Getting old(er) is so cool sometimes, especially looking back and finding an appreciation for how you got from there to here. Being on the road, moving forward to a destination, it's usually the immediate scenery and situation that is your primary concern. Reviewing the journey, looking back, can lead to powerful insights. You can see the evolution of your choices, and begin to understand how wisdom is only possible through experience.

I was reading the synopsis and reviews for 'Watchmen' ... "Set in an alternate universe circa 1985, the film's world is a highly unstable one where a nuclear war is imminent between America and Russia." I thought, America vs. Russia, I've seen this movie before ... but it wasn't an alternate universe, it was this one. At the time Olympic boycotts, naval incidents, KAL flight 007 and SDI were just headlines to me. Being on the road, it was hard to imagine that the destination those events would lead up to would be the fall of the Berlin Wall.

In 2009, twenty years after the demise of communism in Central Europe, we have a top box-office movie with a sub plot of the United States struggles against the Communists, who represented the antithesis of the American ideal. Communists were a popular choice for fictional bad guys, from Boris Badenov to 'Red Dawn'. Prior to that, the Nazis were the bad guys in everything from 'The Great Escape' to 'Rat Patrol'. Now, of course, we have Islamofascists and terrorism ... Hollywood even updated 'Casino Royale' so that James Bond is battling a terrorist banker, instead of a Soviet labor union treasurer like in the original Ian Fleming novel.

With all this experience behind me, and available for my analysis, you would think I could easily figure out who the bad guys are. The bad guys have historically been people like the fascists, the communists and radical Islam ... you know, the people who want to promote "the needs of the group" to a higher priority than "the rights of the individual." If the interpretation of my experience is correct, the bad guys are indeed easy to spot.

We've got ...

... environmentalists, who want to dictate the type of light bulbs I use and eventually, no doubt, my posture when urinating ... all for the benefit of "the planet."

... multiculturalists, who want me to be open and accepting of all other cultures, while criticizing and demonizing my own all in the name of "diversity" ... which seems a bit incongruent with "unity", though, of course, I'm not oppressed enough to have a valid opinion.

... hollywood, who wants me to accede the moral high ground in the name of "political correctness."

... the main stream media, who want me to accept their bias as fact because they represent "objective journalism" and they know what's best for me.

... Obama and the Democrat Congress, who want to take away my earnings, individual freedoms and American principles to 'pitch in', 'solve this crisis' and 'give back' the "disproportionate share" I took from the economy.

It seems so obvious to me who the bad guys are, but apparently I am wrong.

Another way to identify the bad guys is to see who is being punished, who is being portrayed as evil or who is being pushed to the margins of acceptable society. When I look at it from that perspective, it's clear that the bad guy is me. I'm being punished with taxes, and if I raise my son to be productive, he too will be punished. If I disagree with Obama's policies I am, apparently, un-American and "wishing and hoping for economic failure." And people who disagree with the Democrat power grab, like the House Republicans, are quickly marginalized.

It looks like I'll need a few more years to figure out how I managed to go from productive, law-abiding, tax-paying American citizen to greedy, puritanical, tax-avoiding bad guy. I'm hoping it will all make sense to me again in 2012.


Two Cents

The ideas and observations continue, but the time to write them down has significantly declined. Hopefully, regular posting will resume shortly.

In the mean time, and speaking of significant declines, Obama sucks.

From my friend Roger ...

An elderly man suffered a massive heart attack. The family drove wildly to get him to the emergency room.

After what seemed like a very long wait, the ER Doctor appeared, wearing his scrubs and a long face. Sadly, he said, "I'm afraid he is brain-dead, but his heart is still beating."

"Oh, Dear God," cried his wife, her hands clasped against her cheeks with shock!
"We've never had a Democrat in the family before!"



Hospitals are icky places because that's where people take their infections and diseases to dispose of them. Every nook in a hospital has hand sanitizer or anti-bacterial soap, just in case you weren't aware there were germs all over the place. A friend told me the other day that using anti-bacterial soaps leads to the development of 'super germs.' I got a mental picture of my hands serving as a petri dish* for bacterial evolution. ewwwww.

And then, as often happens, the words and thoughts began to tumble.

anti-bacterial ... anti-biotic ... anti-life? ... petri dish ... evolution ... revolution? ... disease ... sickness ... resistance?

"The economy is very sick," Obama told reporters.
Do you get the feeling that President Obama is throwing the bones to determine the proper course of action for curing the economy? In his February 9th campaign stop ... err, press conference, he said:

It is absolutely true that we can't depend on government alone to create jobs or economic growth. That is and must be the role of the private sector. But at this particular moment, with the private sector so weakened by this recession, the federal government is the only entity left with the resources to jolt our economy back into life. It is only government that can break the vicious cycle where lost jobs lead to people spending less money which leads to even more layoffs.

Did you notice him playing both sides? It "must be" the role of the private sector, but "only government" can solve the problem. That's an old witch doctor/fortune teller trick ... play both sides so you can't be wrong. He also conveniently fails to mention that the "resources" that the government will use originally belonged to individuals. That's a witch doctor trick, too. The only power he really has is what has been given to him by his victim, er, patient.

Oh no. Wait. I apologize. Please forgive me. I've just realized what a racist thing I've done ... comparing the President to a witch doctor. Let me try another analogy.

For nearly 2,000 years blood-letting was the preferred treatment for all sorts of fevers, infections and diseases. The theory was that you needed to get rid of the 'bad blood'. Sometimes they even transfused blood from a healthy sheep. George Washington was bled of an amazing five pints of blood during his final illness.

So perhaps Obama is an 18th century physician, instead of a witch doctor, convinced that blood-letting is the proper course of treatment. He's getting rid of the bad, evil, dirty money that people earned on their own, and is replacing it with nice, pure, clean money freshly laundered through the tax process. If centuries of examples about the non-efficacy of blood-letting didn't deter doctors from continuing to use it, a hundred years demonstrating the failure of socialism isn't that hard to rationalize or ignore.

It's unlikely, however, that Obama would subscribe to any of the beliefs or principles of our founding fathers. He once said:

America, this is our moment. This is our time. Our time to turn the page of the policies of the past.
I have it now. Obama is practicing alternative medicine on our economy. It's a 'natural' medicine, more about philosophy and feelings than science. The root cause of economic woes are, perhaps, a blocked qi ( c'hi ? ) caused by greed, so all possibility of financial success must be removed to put us in balance. Maybe the infrastructure projects, since the details are still being worked out, will have pyramids and crystal arches to help direct a positive energy flow across the landscape. Maybe the new schools will have yoga classes so kids can learn chakra balancing instead of engineering.

No, that analogy is still not quite right. I realize the New Age folks are probably in Obama's demographic, I'm just thinking he's got a little too much Chicago politics in him to be truly invested in that touchy-feely stuff.

Okay. This time, I'm sure I have it.

Everyday Americans can see that the economy is sick, but they also intuitively know that organic systems have amazing healing and recuperative powers. A little sunshine (instead of doom and gloom) ... some rest (instead of constant intervention) ... add some healthy fluids (cut the corporate, capital gains and income tax rates to improve liquidity) ... plus a little physical activity (lose the labor union weight and the stress of regulation) ... and the economy would be back on it's feet in no time.

Instead, Dr. Obama has admitted us to the ICU, in the permanently germy federal government hospital. He's pumping us full of anti-biotics, determined to rid us of a nasty infection of capitalism and individual freedom that we've had since we were born. He doesn't realize it's not an infection; they are the germs we depend on to live. Fortunately, it's a resistant strain. While we still have some strength, we need to make our desire for a second opinion known.

* Dutch researchers are trying to grow pork in petri dishes and give new meaning to the phrase Mystery Meat. "We're trying to make meat without having to kill animals," Bernard Roelen, a veterinary science professor at Utrecht University, said in an interview.