Saturday, December 29, 2012

Presents Beyond Price

It's an ordinary snapshot of a snowy winter morning, taken from the deck of an upper floor condo. There's nothing remarkable about the picture, really.

But this photo was taken on Christmas morning in Boston's Cambridge neighborhood, from my daughter's back doorway. Not only did I get to spend Christmas with her and my baby grandson, I got to watch snow falling as we had coffee and opened our gifts.

Like spending time with a first grandchild, being surprised by a white Christmas was a gift that money just can't buy.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Christmas Time - Hallelujah!

I would love to have seen this live and in person. And perhaps to have chimed in. What fun! Watch for the amazed little boy in the GAP sweatshirt. Priceless.

Merry Christmas to all. Hallelujah!

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Beyond Words

I've seen a lot of bad news in my lifetime, beginning with the 1960s assassinations when I was a schoolgirl. Some of the tragedies, like 9/11, were especially terrible. But never in my life have I watched television news with tears running down my face until yesterday, as reports from Newtown, Connecticut were broadcast.

Words are inadequate. There is nothing anyone can say. But if you can find a prayer in your heart for those families in grief, please send it their way.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

A State's Right to Work

 Once upon a time, I belonged to a union.

It was at my very first job, when I was a teenager. I don’t recall the exact penny amount of minimum wage back in those faraway days, but I know it was less than $1.70 per hour. I worked part-time at the long-defunct A&P grocery store, after school on weekdays and all day most Saturdays.

On my first day at the job, I learned that a condition of employment was membership in the Amalgamated Meat Cutters Union. Never mind that I had been hired as a cashier and thus had nothing to do with the butcher. I had to become a union member, or become unemployed. Dues were $50 per person, regardless of wages, and they had to be paid in short order after being hired. That was a hefty fee for a kid making a buck-and-change. So my mother paid the $50 out of her own checkbook to keep me in the union’s good graces. I handed the check to the manager of the meat counter and paid Mom back out of my first several paychecks. Considering that my take-home pay averaged between $25 and $30 per week, it took a few months for me to reimburse my mother’s household account.

I don't know that I ever received any benefit from paying my union dues. Although after one year on the job, I did receive a dime-an-hour raise. 

At the time, I didn’t think this system was fair. My opinion hasn’t changed in the intervening decades. I still don’t believe that coerced participation in a union is correct in a supposedly free country. It seems Michigan is now one of two dozen states that agrees with me.

The Amalgamated Meat Cutters was the only union I ever joined. I have been stalwart in my avoidance of any job that smacks of unionism throughout my working life, right up to today. It’s just a personal preference, based on that early experience that left an enduring sense of injustice on an impressionable 16-year-old. I know many people who are union employees, and most are pleased with the arrangement. That’s good for them, great. But when people want to break away from a unionized system and are demonized, harassed, and threatened because of their wish, then something has gone terribly wrong with “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” Because intertwined in all three of those unalienable rights we find our right to work.

The presidency is not a monarchy. There is a mysterious and feisty spirit afoot in our country, an underlying sense of calm resistance and subtle rebellion. After President Obama's razor-thin victory, we are watching states assert their rights in ways that have not been seen in modern times. To date, close to two dozen governors are refusing to implement state-run exchanges to facilitate Obamacare.  Now, with Michigan joining their ranks, two dozen states are insisting upon freedom from labor union control by passing their individual state's right to work legislation.

Governors have clout, and the majority of them now are Republican. A state's rights, be they in labor or in legislation, are issues that are here to stay.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Obama's Way

King--I mean, President--Obama declares he "won't compromise" on taxes, a statement which brings to mind a quotation I read many years ago that is very timely to this moment in our history:

"If men will not be governed by God, they will be ruled by tyrants."

~ William Penn


It's going to be a very long, tedious, and probably dangerous four years.

Friday, December 07, 2012

Living History

Betty McIntosh, now age 97, was a reporter with the Honolulu Star-Bulletin when the bombs fell on Pearl Harbor 71 years ago today. She filed a story on the attack's effects on the civilian population that the paper wouldn't publish due to the graphic details it contained.

The story appears in today's Washington Post for the first time
, a vibrant link to a solemn day in our nation's history from someone who was there and lived through it. McIntosh concentrated on women and children in her reporting, presenting a rare perspective of what is remembered as a military battle.

As Pearl Harbor survivors grow ever more scarce, Betty's story becomes even more precious. Thanks to the WP for publishing it.

Wednesday, December 05, 2012

Stranger than Fiction

Last weekend I watched the movie For Greater Glory, whose label pronounced it a "true story." Even allowing for dramatic license on the part of the movie makers, I learned more than I expected to.

An atheistic Mexican government administration persecuting the Catholic Church in the 1920s sounded like fantasy to me. However, a few mouse clicks proved that it is an actual historical event. Andy Garcia plays the hero, General Enrique Gorostieta, who leads the rebels in their bloody fight for religious liberty.

The young Mexican hero Jose Luis Sanchez del Rio, played by Mauricio Kuri, joins the rebel army as a young teenager. At the film's conclusion, viewers learn that Jose was beatified by Pope Benedict XVI in 2005.

Aside from being a good movie, For Greater Glory was quite an education. It is heavy on violence, but that's unavoidable in telling this story. And it's always fun to watch Peter O'Toole no matter where he shows up--although playing an aged priest in Mexico is a stretch, even for him. Still, with quality stories now so rare in movies, I recommend watching it.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Dismantling the Dream

 "We don't have a lot of time here. We've got a few weeks to get this thing done."
-          President Barack Obama, 11/28/12

What are the two unspoken words at the end of the second sentence? “My way.”

The president is not interested in spending cuts to increase revenue. His only intention is to drag down “the rich”—those households making $250,000 per year or more.

Does anyone really think that $250,000 per year is “rich” in this day and age?

Let’s take a hypothetical husband and wife. One is an accounting manager; one is a software engineer. This couple has put in years of post-graduate work in their chosen fields, years of learning their professions, years of putting in long hours, nights, and weekends, many sacrifices of family time, in order to achieve personal and material success through their own efforts and talents, on their own time and their own dime.

Once upon a time, that was called “the pursuit of happiness.”

This professional couple is finally, as a combined income household, making more than $250,000 dollars annually. Good for them. They’ve worked their butts off for it. They have a home in a decent neighborhood that they were able to buy with a healthy down payment of their own money. They drive nice cars, which they’ve paid for themselves. Let’s say they have a couple of college-aged children, and they’re paying tuition out of their own pockets, just as they do with everything they own or purchase. And they pay their taxes, every year.

What gives the federal government the right to tell them that they have too much money and should fork over more of it to subsidize wasteful government programs?

If the president is so keen on a “balanced approach,” why doesn’t he insist on taxing every American—including all of those receiving any form of government assistance--a nominal amount? That way, at least we’d all have skin in the game. But for all his talk of “fairness,” President Obama doesn’t want that. He wants to take high achievers down a peg or two, in atonement for the U.S.A.’s terrible sin of offering the most opportunities for the most people in the history of the planet. In his redistributionist mind, it’s America’s fault that not everyone is in the top tax bracket.

What we’re witnessing is a calculated attempt to deliberately dismantle the American dream. There will be no reason to strive for financial success if this attack on our way of life succeeds. If Congress doesn’t hold the line against this blatant assault on our values, we are in far more trouble than a mere election can resolve.

Monday, November 19, 2012


Sing praises on the harp to our God

Sunday, November 18, 2012

The Gift of Learning

Today I finished the second course on the U.S. Constitution from Hillsdale College. If anyone is interested in America's founding and wonders how we as a nation devolved into our current bureaucratic mess, I recommend you visit Hillsdale's website, linked here, sign up, and start learning.

That's why I took the courses, which are presented as a series of online lectures. I kept wondering, how did the U.S. get to this point of gargantuan government? What would the Founding Fathers think of laws and regulations governing our choice of light bulbs, snacks foods, even trash containers? Hillsdale's Constitution 101 and 201 are gifts of education that will go a long way towards fostering better understanding of where we are as a country and, most importantly, how we got here.

There is no charge for the courses, although voluntary donations are of course welcomed.

If knowledge is power, education is the conduit. I can't think of a better holiday gift to give yourself than taking these courses. Who knows? If enough Americans learn the reasons why we're in the predicament we're in, perhaps "We the People" can start making positive changes.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Thursday, November 08, 2012

Reflections in the Aftermath

"Liberty without learning is always in peril; learning without liberty is always in vain."~ John F. Kennedy

Just a few thoughts on why the presidential election turned out the way it did:

  • Divide and conquer is a winning strategy. When you pit blacks against whites, rich against poor, women against men, gays against straights, and citizens against aliens, enough disgruntled subgroups emerge to splinter support for your opposition. At some point, President Obama's relentlessly negative campaign had every voter mad at some segment of the population. The engineered angst worked to his advantage. It was cheap and dirty politics, but he won.
  • Education is lacking. How many graduates of our public school systems have been taught the value of our country's founding principles? How many college students have read the Declaration of Independence or the U.S. Constitution? Do they know which of those two documents starts with "We the People"? Do they know where the Bill of Rights fits in? For the most part, our public educational system has degenerated into touchy-feely political correctness virtually devoid of true learning, with students taking classes on global warming, cultural trends, and various minority groups. Poor education breeds ignorant voters. Ignorant voters elect bad candidates who pass stupid laws. So here we are.
  • The free ride feels good. We have reached a point where the takers are exceeding the makers. With the myriad forms of government assistance available for a variety of reasons to more and more Americans, there is less pressure for individuals to produce and provide for themselves. Why work and pay taxes when the government is so willing to help with the bills? This entitlement mindset is moving us farther away in spirit from the pioneers who built America with their own hard work, then handed off a better tomorrow to their children. It makes it more difficult to press the case for a strong economy and a growing job market. And reliance on government to solve our individual problems sets the stage for a descent into tyranny. 

Although he lost by a substantial margin in the electoral college, Mitt Romney lost the presidency by about only 3% of the popular vote. Abraham Lincoln famously stated that "a house divided against itself cannot stand." That's where we are, divided--or, in modern terms, "polarized."

Lincoln went on to say, "I believe this government cannot endure, permanently half slave and half free." To adapt his statement for today's circumstances, I believe this government cannot endure, permanently half worker and half freeloader.

Half educated doesn't help, either.

Monday, November 05, 2012

Campaign Closer

Here's a link to "Monday Morning," a thoughtful piece by Peggy Noonan, well worth reading before we all head out to vote tomorrow.

Thursday, November 01, 2012

After the Storm

Hurricane Sandy has rained misery and destruction upon millions of Americans in 18 states and the District of Columbia. It's difficult to conceptualize the chaos and hardship people are enduring in the densely populated metropolitan areas of the Northeast. I can't begin to imagine it, and I grew up there.

Statue of the Blessed Mother - Breezy Point, Queens NY
Today is the Feast of All Saints on the Catholic calendar. The patron saint of the U.S.A. is the Immaculate Conception, better known as Mary, Mother of Jesus. I found it amazing that her image survived the raging inferno in Breezy Point, Queens. Her statue stands among the ashes of the neighborhood that burned to dust.

Is this a random coincidence, or a promise of hope? There is no way to know. But our neighbors who were devastated by the storm need more than human help. They need heaven's, too.

So I think a prayer is in order for those affected by Hurricane Sandy. In disastrous circumstances such as these, I favor the Memorare. The name is Latin for "remember." Appropriately enough, this prayer is addressed to Mary, the Blessed Mother:

REMEMBER, O most gracious Virgin Mary, that never was it known that anyone who fled to thy protection, implored thy help, or sought thy intercession was left unaided. Inspired with this confidence, I fly to thee, O Virgin of virgins, my Mother; to thee do I come; before thee I stand, sinful and sorrowful. O Mother of the Word Incarnate, despise not my petitions, but in thy mercy hear and answer me. Amen.
As Christians will recall from the gospel story of the Miracle at Cana, when Mary asks something of the Lord, he listens. It may take a long time on a rough and rugged road to arrive at the answer. But at some point after the storm, morning will come.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

A Bad Piece of Work

The more the news leaks out, the worse the story of the Benghazi cover-up gets. The shocking chain of events leading up to the death of four Americans on September 11, 2012, is uncoiling like a basket full of poisonous snakes.

There are several facts that can't be avoided. The first is that one of President Obama's stories is a lie--the attack can't be a pre-planned terrorist act and a spontaneous mob reaction to a video. The second is that no Commander in Chief worthy of the title hops on his plane and jaunts off to a Las Vegas fundraiser the same day that Americans are murdered by terrorists.

A third fact, most disturbing of all, is that the president had to have known what was happening, as it happened. As the bin Laden raid proved, this is the technological era of "live feed." Yet no help was authorized for our people in Benghazi, even as they begged for it during their prolonged battle. Why not? When directly asked that question by an interviewer, the president refused to answer--twice.

Tyrone Woods, one of two former Navy SEALs who died in the attack, was disobeying orders to "stand down" when he was murdered. He wasn't going to sit on his hands while the U.S. Ambassador he was assigned to protect was slaughtered. It cost him his life, but Woods was a man of courage and integrity, and he made the right decision. Too bad his "superiors" are so inferior to him.

This president is a bad piece of work. How fortunate for the nation that the presidential election is a mere nine days away. If by some chance Barack Obama is re-elected, he faces questions that will not go away and answers that will haunt a second term--not to mention a "legacy."

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Ten Reasons to Hope for Change

Last month, Hugh Hewitt devoted an entire show to “100 Reasons to Vote Against Obama/For Mitt Romney.” I downloaded the podcast and listened again, writing out the complete list.

Hugh said he came up with 100 reasons in less than an hour. The indictment includes such nasty items as the jam-down of Obamacare, the Solyndra financial debacle, and the drastic cuts to our military.
Choosing only ten reasons took some doing. I highlighted my “favorites” and found myself with 25 reasons. Combing through the 25 reasons, I whittled my personal list down to ten:

Ten Reasons Not to Vote for Obama

1.      The HHS attack on the Catholic Church and religious freedom

2.      The Benghazi 9/11 cover-up

3.      23 million Americans still unemployed

4.      The unelected bureaucratic IPAB of Obamacare deciding our health care

5.      The $700 billion cut to Medicare

6.      The growing deficit and debt

7.      Refusal to do a budget in three years

8.      Calling Fort Hood’s jihadist massacre “workplace violence.”

9.      Refusal to honor his Oath of Office and enforce marriage and immigration laws.

10.  The cover-up of the “Fast and Furious” Federal gun running scandal

All 100 reasons are valid. But there is one that resonates throughout all the other 99 reasons—“character counts.” Here’s hoping for change on November 6.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

A One-Word Answer

So, Mr. President, which was it--an "act of terror" or "spontaneous response" to a YouTube video?

You can't have it both ways. The murders of our ambassador and three other Americans in the Benghazi attack on September 11, 2012, demand one answer. There is only one answer, and you have to choose one: terrorism or video.

Don't start rambling off-topic about how much "our diplomats" mean to you. Just answer the question. For once in your presidency, man up. It's not a hard question, and it has a one-word answer. Was the attack: a) terrorism, or b) video?

You claimed in the October 16 debate that misleading charges about Benghazi are "offensive" to you. Well, I find it offensive that you've done nothing but throw a load of baloney about this brutal and deliberate attack on America at the U.S. voters in a sorry attempt to drag yourself across the Election Day finish line.

But the timeline speaks for itself. If you won't answer the question, the facts will answer for you. Come November 6, it might be time for you to hit your own "reset" button. Not a moment too soon for the country.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

An Easy Read

The only easy day was yesterday.
~ Navy SEALs motto

No Easy Day by Mark Owen (a pen name) is a first-person account told by one of the Navy SEALs who executed the Osama bin Laden mission on May 1, 2011. Although the book is close to 300 pages long, the story flies by.

Without disclosing sensitive information, Owen describes the unfolding of the mission in riveting detail. There are also many absorbing details about the daily life and inner workings of these elite warriors, their camaraderie, their professionalism, and their dedication.  

No Easy Day is a glimpse into the operations of the special warfare teams that set themselves between America and her enemies. Reading this book reminded me to be grateful yet again that we have such men standing in the breach for us during such perilous times.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

A Clear Voice

Lara Logan gives a brutally honest evaluation of current U.S. foreign policy vis-a-vis the Taliban and the existential threat it represents to the U.S. It's close to 20 minutes of viewing, but worth every minute. I recommend making time to watch and listen.

I think Logan merits a very rare title in the twisted world of today's media: Journalist.

Saturday, October 06, 2012

Steyn on Sesame Street

If you need a chuckle this weekend, read Mark Steyn's Big Bird takedown, "Sesame Nation."

But fair warning, gentle readers: wait until you've finished drinking your morning coffee before reading it, unless you enjoy nasal irrigations.

Tuesday, October 02, 2012

Remembering the Guardians

"How great the dignity of the soul, since each one has from his birth an angel commissioned to guard it." - Saint Jerome

On the Church calendar, October 2 is the Feast of Guardian Angels. Amidst the violence and hatred boiling over in the Middle East today, the angels assigned to guard our troops on the battlefield are working overtime.

Today would be a good day to pause and remember them--our troops and the angels, both.

Photo & Video: Eric Horner Ministries

Sunday, September 30, 2012

The Power of Prayer

If My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land.

There are 36 days to Election Day 2012. This election is worth praying about. Quite a few other people think so, too, among them Eric Metaxas, author of the best-selling book Bonhoeffer. He has suggested the idea of 40 days of prayer prior to Election Day, commencing on September 27, 2012.

It's not too late to join in. Each of us is still free to choose his or her own way of praying for our country. But I think that all believers would agree that, if ever there was a time to pray for the United States, it is now.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Conservative Celebrities

No, Clint Eastwood isn't the only one. Here's a link to the identities of 30 conservative Hollywood celebrities. Some of them are quite surprising (50 Cent? Really? Who knew?).

I would add at least two other luminaries: actor Jon Voight and producer Gerald R. Molen (whose latest movie is the unexpected hit, 2016: Obama's America).

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Thief in the Night

It looks like we've arrived at the threshold. Tyranny always begins with one knock on the door at midnight. After the door is opened, the knocks grow ever more frequent until suddenly, the jackboots rule.

Read Instapundit's excellent analysis, linked here. While on the subject, ask yourself why the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff is calling an obscure pastor in Florida to recommend that he rethink his inclinations to promote the infamous video supposedly causing all the chaos in the Middle East.

By the way, anyone who thinks the meltdown in the Mid-East is due to a trashy video and not to a coordinated effort by our enemies to attack the United States on the anniversary of September 11 is naive in the extreme. Naive, ill-informed, willfully blind, or all three. Check with the president of Libya if you don't believe me. The scapegoat video is serving the purpose of propping up President Obama's disastrous foreign policy. If the widespread death and destruction is all due to bad video, well then Obama's "Kumbaya" foreign policy must still be working.

But back to the unfortunate, not to mention untalented, filmmaker being hauled off for questioning in the dark of night. Ask yourself how a U.S. president sworn to protect the Constitution could so flagrantly violate his oath of office when an individual's actions are causing him inconvenience?

Perhaps a better question: Under a President Obama who never needs to face the voters again, will the exceptions to the First Amendment ever end? An even more chilling question: What evidence do we have that the exceptions would stop at the First Amendment?

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Ready, Shoot, Aim

“Governor Romney seems to have a tendency to shoot first and aim later.”President Obama, September 12, 2012, reacting to criticism

“I don't think that we would consider them an ally” – President Obama, September 12, 2012, speaking of Egypt--a Major Non-NATO U.S. ally since 1989

President Obama has proven yet again that he is incapable of seeing any fault in himself. He never begins with the “man in the mirror;” there is always someone else to blame.

The battered former president Bush has been forgotten, for the moment. Obama now is bristling at the temerity of his presidential campaign opponent for the high crime and misdemeanor of voicing an opinion on an international crisis. The president is especially annoyed because, well, Romney has the better case.

Here’s the statement issued by the U.S. Embassy in Cairo:

"The Embassy of the United States in Cairo condemns the continuing efforts by misguided individuals to hurt the religious feelings of Muslims – as we condemn efforts to offend believers of all religions. Today, the 11th anniversary of the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on the United States, Americans are honoring our patriots and those who serve our nation as the fitting response to the enemies of democracy. Respect for religious beliefs is a cornerstone of American democracy. We firmly reject the actions by those who abuse the universal right of free speech to hurt the religious beliefs of others." 
And here’s what Mitt Romney said in response:

“I think it’s a terrible course for America to stand in apology for our values,” Romney said. “The statement was akin to an apology, and I think was a severe miscalculation.”

Romney’s statement was strong, concise, and reflective of perhaps most Americans’ frame of mind. He sounded presidential to me. I find it ironic that Romney is continually criticized in the press for not being “bold” enough, yet when he stands up promptly to defend American rights in the midst of an international crisis involving the United States, he is pounced on for his “gaffe.”

Excuse me, but this man is running for president. I, for one, would like to hear his stance on a matter of such critical importance. I’ll wager most voters would, too

The president seems more focused on skewering Romney for daring to voice an opposing opinion than on protecting Americans in increasingly hostile nations. Nor was the president inclined to cancel his campaign fundraising appearances in the wake of the attacks on American lives and sovereign soil in foreign lands on the anniversary of September 11. I find Obama's breezy attitude toward this dangerous and growing crisis appalling.

Can you imagine the media outrage if George W. Bush was jetting off to a Las Vegas fundraiser after a U.S. ambassador and three other Americans had been murdered as foreign protestors swarmed our embassy and consulate in two foreign countries? In such a scenario, I think the NY Times might have run out of both paper and ink.

So to use one of the president’s many tired clich├ęs, “Make no mistake”—American voters will get no help from Obama’s loyal troops in the MSM, who are wholly dedicated to keeping their guy in office, the public’s right to know be damned. Americans need to be clear on where their presidential candidates stand. I’ll take a statement on foreign affairs from Romney any time—especially when what he says makes perfect sense according to our history, identity, and ideals.

We’re only 54 days away from making the second biggest mistake in our nation’s history. I’m hopeful that the majority of American voters, unlike the current president, are smart enough to self-correct.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Sunday, September 09, 2012

Grandparents Day

Well, today is my very first Grandparents Day. In honor of the occasion, I couldn't resist looking up these 15 Fun Facts about Grandparents. And thankfully, there's not a rocking chair mention among any of them.

How fitting that my new grandson, who will turn four months old on Tuesday, met my mother--his great grandmother--for the first time this weekend. As life gifts go, it's hard to beat that one.

To my readers, if applicable--Happy Grandparents Day.

Thursday, September 06, 2012

Fantasy, Fans, and the Finish Line

Several months ago, I decided to see what all the water cooler fuss was about and began renting the ten-part HBO series "Game of Thrones,"Season One--"A Song of Ice and Fire." By the end of the first episode, my family and I were addicted to the tale as if to video crack.

The story, based upon George R.R. Martin's series of novels, is an epic fantasy saga set in a medieval world of brutal intrigue, compelling characters, and suspenseful story lines. There are warring factions, deadly conspiracies, lords and ladies, mythical creatures, lots of bloodshed, endless plot twists--in short, everything to keep a viewer glued to the screen for ten hours.

After the first couple of episodes, my family shunned the DVDs and instead downloaded the first novel onto their Kindles. I watched the video adaptation of the rest of the first book in solitude, lecturing myself that I had too many books to read and could just as easily watch instead of read. But upon the kids' rave reviews of the book and their repeated encouragement to read it, I went ahead and downloaded the novel onto my own Kindle. In fact, I downloaded the "4-book bundle." I'm now tearing through the first book, which I've already watched in its entirety on TV, and have several thousand pages of continuing story awaiting me. And I know from various bestseller lists that there's at least a fifth book, if not even more to come. Needless to say, my Kindle now travels everywhere with me--post office lines, dentist's waiting rooms, lunch breaks at work.

In the meanwhile, I pre-ordered the DVDs of Season Two, not yet released. I'll be racing the clock to finish both the first and second novels before watching it. My kids, having got the jump on me, are already well into the second book. Depending upon when Season Two is released, I may be the one hiding from the television while I let them go ahead and watch.

So that's my fair warning on "Game of Thrones." If you love good storytelling, don't begin if you don't have the time to finish.

Saturday, September 01, 2012

The Good, The Bad, and The Voters

"We own this country....Politicians are employees of ours....And when somebody does not do the job, we got to let them go."
- Clint Eastwood at the 2012 GOP Convention

Clint Eastwood was the surprise guest speaker at the GOP convention on Thursday night. He's 82 years old, and he delivered an address that was unscripted, unrehearsed, and off teleprompter. There are rave reviews and there are brutal pans of his presentation, but one thing is certain: if a speech is still being talked about and dissected several days later, it was effective.

If the screeching protests and scathing critiques of Clint Eastwood from the network media elites and the limousine liberals in Hollywood are any criteria, he scored big. So blunt, direct, and specific was Eastwood's criticism of the president, it could take years for the lefties to recover their equilibrium.

Because it was so extemporaneous, Eastwood's speech had its flaws. There were odd ramblings, pregnant pauses, and sound issues due to Eastwood turning his head to face the "empty chair" of President Obama. But when he hit the mark, he was as deadly as Dirty Harry nailing a villain.

That visual of an empty chair really made a symbolic statement, and it irked the White House enough to prompt a response via Twitter. "This seat's taken," the tweeted message sniffed, showing a photo of the president sitting in his chair. Presidential campaign season is not for the thin of skin.

No intelligent voter is going to change positions because of a Hollywood star's speech. But some who are still weighing their decisions might take what was said into consideration. That's what has the Left so enraged. Eastwood may have actually reached some undecided voters.

If Clint Eastwood was successful in doing that, then he has helped to make my Election Day.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Moon Memories

Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin - 7/20/69 - AP/NASA photo

"Houston, Tranquility Base here. The Eagle has landed.”
~ Neil Armstrong, from the Moon's Sea of Tranquility ~ July 20,1969

I was a teenager when Neil Armstrong set the first human foot on the moon’s surface. It was a thrilling moment in modern American history, a time when everything seemed possible. Right before our eyes, even the moon was within reach

The moon landing was, in the jargon of the time, “a happening.” Just about everyone my age saw the first moonwalk on live television. I vividly remember watching with my father, asking a variety of questions that he patiently answered. As the astronauts bounced like paper dolls, moving in slow motion across the moon’s surface, Dad explained the different gravitational force on the moon. It was like witnessing science fiction made fact.

Neil Armstrong was a unique hero. He shunned the celebrity spotlight and lived quietly. In 1970, just one year after walking on the moon, Armstrong left the astronaut program to teach college engineering. He lived out his retirement on a farm in his native Ohio.
With the passing of Neil Armstrong, the Eagle has flown. Will America ever soar to such literal and figurative heights again? It doesn’t seem likely, at least at the moment. There aren’t many true American heroes left to us, and the few remaining become ever more precious.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

The Vanishing Present

I received this in an e-mail, and it makes a lot of sense to me (to my regret):

"9 Things Which Will Disappear in Our Lifetime Believe it or not, the following nine things will disappear in our lifetime.  Whether these changes are good or bad depends in part on how we adapt to them. But, ready or not, here they come: 

1. The Post Office Get ready to imagine a world without the post office. They are so deeply in financial trouble that there is probably no way to sustain it long term.  Email, Fed Ex, and UPS have just about wiped out the minimum revenue needed to keep the post office alive. Most of your mail every day is junk mail and bills.
2. The Cheque  Britain is already laying the groundwork to do away with cheque by 2018. It costs the financial system billions of dollars a year to process cheques. Plastic cards and online transactions will lead to the eventual demise of the cheque. This plays right into the death of the post office. If you never paid your bills by mail and never received them by mail, the post office would absolutely go out of business.
3. The Newspaper  The younger generation simply doesn't read the newspaper. They certainly don't subscribe to a daily delivered print edition. That may go the way of the milkman and the laundry man. As for reading the paper online, get ready to pay for it. The rise in mobile Internet devices and e-readers has caused all the newspaper and magazine publishers to form an alliance. They have met with Apple, Amazon, and the major cell phone companies to develop a model for paid subscription services.
4. The Book  You say you will never give up the physical book that you hold in your hand and turn the literal pages. I said the same thing about downloading music from iTunes. I wanted my hard copy CD. But I quickly changed my mind when I discovered that I could get albums for half the price without ever leaving home to get the latest music. The same thing will happen with books. You can browse a bookstore online and even read a preview chapter before you buy. And the price is less than half that of a real book. And think of the convenience! Once you start flicking your fingers on the screen instead of the book, you find that you are lost in the story, can't wait to see what happens next, and you forget that you're holding a gadget instead of a book.
5. The Land Line Telephone Unless you have a large family and make a lot of local calls, you don't need it anymore. Most people keep it simply because they've always had it. But you are paying double charges for that extra service. All the cell phone companies will let you call customers using the same cell provider for no charge against your minutes
6. Music  This is one of the saddest parts of the change story. The music industry is dying a slow death. Not just because of illegal downloading. It's the lack of innovative new music being given a chance to get to the people who would like to hear it. Greed and corruption is the problem. The record labels and the radio conglomerates are simply self-destructing. Over 40% of the music purchased today is "catalogue items," meaning traditional music that the public is familiar with. Older established artists. This is also true on the live concert circuit. To explore this fascinating and disturbing topic further, check out the book, "Appetite for Self-Destruction" by Steve Knopper, and the video documentary, "Before the Music Dies."
7. Television Revenues to the networks are down dramatically. Not just because of the economy. People are watching TV and movies streamed from their computers. And they're playing games and doing lots of other things that take up the time that used to be spent watching TV. Prime time shows have degenerated down to lower than the lowest common denominator. Cable rates are skyrocketing and commercials run about every 4 minutes and 30 seconds. I say good riddance to most of it. It's time for the cable companies to be put out of our misery. Let the people choose what they want to watch online and through Netflix.
8. The "Things" That You Own Many of the very possessions that we used to own are still in our lives, but we may not actually own them in the future. They may simply reside in "the cloud." Today your computer has a hard drive and you store your pictures, music, movies, and documents. Your software is on a CD or DVD, and you can always re-install it if need be. But all of that is changing. Apple, Microsoft, and Google are all finishing up their latest "cloud services." That means that when you turn on a computer, the Internet will be built into the operating system. So, Windows, Google, and the Mac OS will be tied straight into the Internet. If you click an icon, it will open something in the Internet cloud. If you save something, it will be saved to the cloud. And you may pay a monthly subscription fee to the cloud provider. In this virtual world, you can access your music or your books, or your whatever from any laptop or handheld device. That's the good news. But, will you actually own any of this "stuff" or will it all be able to disappear at any moment in a big "Poof?" Will most of the things in our lives be disposable and whimsical? It makes you want to run to the closet and pull out that photo album, grab a book from the shelf, or open up a CD case and pull out the insert.
9. Privacy  If there ever was a concept that we can look back on nostalgically, it would be privacy. That's gone. It's been gone for a long time anyway. There are cameras on the street, in most of the buildings, and even built into your computer and cell phone. But you can be sure that 24/7, "They" know who you are and where you are, right down to the GPS coordinates, and the Google Street View. If you buy something, your habit is put into a zillion profiles, and your ads will change to reflect those habits. "They" will try to get you to buy something else. Again and again."

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Must-See Movie

I'm planning to see 2016: Obama's America this week. It's a movie I think every American voter should watch before Election Day.

Academy Award-winner Gerald Molen and NY Times best-selling author Dinesh D'Souza have collaborated on this film project, something that I consider more than a public service. The movie is a call for American citizens to understand and rise to the challenge of the coming election.

Where will America be in 2016? The voters must decide in November. This film provides the voters with greater access to facts that have been hidden and ignored and gives them a better opportunity to make an informed decision.

Monday, August 13, 2012

A Hope for Change

Although I had hoped he would, I didn't think Mitt Romney would have the guts to pick seven-term Wisconsin congressman Paul Ryan, Chairman of the House Budget Committee, as his running mate.

I've been watching and listening to Paul Ryan over the past year. When it comes to the frightening state of our national finances, Ryan knows the numbers inside and out. The more I've listened to him, the more aware I've become that he knows what he's doing.

Come November, maybe hope and change will at last become possible.

Friday, August 10, 2012

A Voice for Voters

I once heard a commentator remark that when Peggy Noonan is on her game, her words are worthy of being chiseled in marble. Today is one of those days.

"A Nation That Believes Nothing" sums up the weariness of the American citizenry, the voters' disappointment with the presidential race's lack of focus on critical issues, and the immediate dangers in our path--specifically, the ripple effect of the California fiscal crisis.

I don't know how many Americans Peggy Noonan is speaking for today, but I'm sure the number is impressive. And I am certainly one of them.

Thursday, August 02, 2012

Standing for the First Amendment

Amendment I

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

On the spur of the momet, I stopped by the Chick-fil-A near my office last night on the way home from work. When I saw the long line of customers and the growing traffic jam, I decided to join the crowd.

I stepped into line at 5:00 p.m., and I left with mypackaged order at 6:45 p.m. With the possible exception of a Disneyland attraction many years ago, I’ve never stood in line for that much time.

The media is insisting this “controvery” is about gaymarriage. Isn’t it astonishing, that we’ve reached the point where a business leader who states that he believes that marriage is between a man and a woman becomes a controversial figure? But here we are. Chick-fil-A is being run out of Boston
and Chicago because the owner has a different opinion than the PC Thought Police.

"Chick-fil-A Appreciation Day” was not about gay marriage, or conservative Christians, or hate, or bigotry. This was about the fight to protect the First Amendment.

Since the USA’s founding, uncounted thousands of Americans have fought, bled, and died to protect and defend our rights and liberty. A couple of hours in line—followed by a delicious chicken sandwich and fries—was the least I could do in their honor.

Lee Habeeb put it best: "It is simply un-American to put a guy out of business for not agreeing with you."

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Radio Reading

I'm a conservative talk radio addict, but over the years I've learned that's a good thing. In fact, listening to talk radio, I've learned quite a lot.

One of my favorite features in talk radio is the author interview. I'm a true sucker for these, because I often find myself so intrigued listening to the author that I purchase the book--and find myself learning even more.

Below are three books I've recently completed reading that I recommend to any American voter in this highly charged election season. Long-time readers will recognize the authors' names.

After America: Get Ready for Armageddon, by Mark Steyn

One of my favorite people to listen to, Mark Steyn has earned his link on my sidebar and his place as one of the most quick-witted and entertaining, not to mention insightful, pundits on the political scene today. I hear him almost weekly in his appearances as a recurring guest on Hugh Hewitt's radio show. His prior book, America Alone: The End of the World As We Know It (2006), was a fast and fascinating read that has proved eerily prophetic about our changing global demographics, particularly regarding the consequences of Islamic influence on Western culture.

After America (2011) is a bit more in-depth, a bit more grim in its conclusions pertaining to our nation's future as a global power. But it is delivered with Steyn's trademark wit and flair, and I found myself laughing out loud at several points even as I shivered at his prognostications.

When I first heard Steyn on the radio, I thought he was Australian. As I continued to listen weekly, I learned he was Canadian-born, United Kingdom-educated, and now a resident of New Hampshire. If you haven't yet heard Mark Steyn's unique style, I recommend a visit to YouTube; type in "Mark Steyn" and take your pick of dozens of examples of his speaking. Knowing how he sounds, and his talent for phraseology, will enhance your reading experience.

Ameritopia: The Unmaking of America, by Mark R. Levin

Mark Levin is a take-no-prisoners talk show host, one who is highly intelligent, extremely astute, and completely out of patience with the liberal agenda in America. Don't take my word for it; listen to his show sometime.

Ameritopia (2012) examines in depth such classics as Plato's Republic, Thomas More's Utopia, Thomas Hobbes' Leviathan, and Karl Marx's Communist Manifesto to explain just how much trouble we, as a nation, are mired in. An attorney who served as an advisor in the Reagan administration, Levin makes a compelling case for the dangers of what he calls "post-Constitutional America," which can only lead us to ruin. Ameritopia is a disturbing book, but one that takes hold of the reader and doesn't let go. It teaches us where we came from, where we are now, and--if we are not more careful with our hard-won heritage of freedom--where we are going.

The Brief Against Obama: The Rise, Fall & Epic Fail of the Hope & Change Presidency, by Hugh Hewitt

A practicing attorney and law professor, Hugh Hewitt hosts a nationwide radio talk show each weekday, 3:00-6:00 p.m. Pacific time. In the interest of full disclosure, I'm a loyal listener since 2002 and a subscriber to the "Hughniverse," meaning I receive his podcasts and thus never miss a show. (As I mentioned at the outset, I'm an addict.)

Applying a courtroom approach, Hewitt uses extensive quotations from President Obama to open each of the 25 chapters in The Brief Against Obama (2012). Employing the president's own words, Hewitt then methodically and with legal precision exposes the president's statements as the complete failures they have been. Obamacare, the stimulus bill, green energy, unemployment, "the Fast and Furious" scandal, foreign policy failures--and unfortunately, much more--are all covered in depressing detail.

It's very difficult to dismiss the evidence when the president's own words serve as the preface to Hewitt's carefully documented debacle of shortfalls, broken promises, and outright falsehoods.

While different in background, style, and personalities, these authors all have very important traits in common: they know their subjects well, they are meticulous researchers, they write well, and they back up their writings with facts and sources. The end notes sections of each of the three books listed above are impressive and extensive. Unlike TV network news, nothing was pulled out of thin air.

Most likely, MSM honchos would love to pull these three insightful writers off the air. With solid information such as Steyn, Levin, and Hewitt have provided in these books--in thought-provoking and intelligent ways--good luck with that.

Radio. It's the new, much smarter, TV.