Saturday, December 31, 2016

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Wednesday, December 07, 2016

Honoring Pearl Harbor

Break, break, break
         At the foot of thy crags, O Sea!
But the tender grace of a day that is dead
         Will never come back to me.

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Well, Excuse Us

"I attribute my success to this--I never gave or took any excuse."

 ~ Florence Nightingale

Listening to radio news today as I usually do each weekday morning as I prepare to go to work, I heard something that made me laugh out loud--at 7:00 AM (no easy feat). President Obama was blaming the Democrat loss of the presidency on the ubiquity of "Fox News in every bar and restaurant in big chunks of the country"--and he was serious!

Now, I understand that Air Force One bypasses all of the Little People International airports. But does no middling advisor or government lackey ever report back to the president on the never-ending CNN (sometimes called "Clinton News Network") channel blaring in every airport terminal from sea to shining sea? CNN is not exactly known for its conservative slant. Throughout the campaign, they were firmly in Hillary's corner, broadcasting gently in her favor while slamming Trump at every mention. And airports are more heavily populated than bars.

What about the alphabet networks? Anchors and pundits at ABC, CBS, NBC, plus public television stations and major newspapers across the land were hard-pressed to find a positive word to say about Donald Trump, as all the while they dodged and weaved among the Hillary scandals raining down with alarming regularity. In addition, the media minimized and made excuses for any Clinton negative and amplified and belabored negatives for Trump. Example: The Clinton Foundation and her personal fortune? No problem, move on. Trump's business empire? The death of the nation.

In short, Hillary Clinton had the entire mainstream media apparatus of the USA, both print and video, working for her, while Donald Trump stood alone except for Fox News and conservative talk radio. She also had academia, social media, and Hollywood on her side. Yet she managed to lose. And somehow this is the fault of Fox News? I keep hearing and reading about how brilliantly smart this president is, but he can't prove it by statements like that.

Ever since Election night, when television commentators stared blankly at the reddening map and glanced speechlessly from each other to the cameras, excuses for the loss have been snowballing, culminating in the farce of recounts underway in traditionally Democrat states that (because of Fox News) voted Republican this time. It doesn't occur to the exalted elites that the American people just decided to try a different approach this time. They will never consider the possibility that they have alienated too many voters with too many broken promises and too much political correctness, to the point that they have lost the people's confidence as well as their attention.

The privileged liberals of our country--our current president the most prominent among them--think that anyone who disagrees with their incontrovertible wisdom is simply stupid. For that pomposity, there is no excuse.

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

The 100-Day Plan

Have you read Donald Trump's "100-Day Plan to Make America Great Again"? I just read the entire document for the first time tonight. I didn't find the ravings of a madman. What I did find was a blueprint for a powerhouse revival in this country if even part of it gets implemented.

It starts with the "Drain the Swamp" theme of cleaning up corruption in Washington D.C.:
  • FIRST, propose a Constitutional Amendment to impose term limits on all members of Congress;
  • SECOND, a hiring freeze on all federal employees to reduce federal workforce through attrition (exempting military, public safety, and public health);
  • THIRD, a requirement that for every new federal regulation, two existing regulations must be eliminated;
  • FOURTH, a 5 year-ban on White House and Congressional officials becoming lobbyists after they leave government service;
  • FIFTH, a lifetime ban on White House officials lobbying on behalf of a foreign government;
  • SIXTH, a complete ban on foreign lobbyists raising money for American elections.
I find nothing objectionable in any of that initial content. The "Contract with the American Voter" goes on to address the American workers, national security, the constitutional rule of law, middle class tax relief, energy, healthcare, and illegal immigration. If Donald Trump can accomplish even a part of what is set out in his Plan, it will be more national progress than has been achieved in the past fifteen years.

I'm looking forward to seeing how much he can actually get done.

Friday, November 11, 2016

Honor Our Veterans

November 11 - a day to honor our Veterans

Wednesday, November 09, 2016

What Just Happened?

Against all odds, predictions, logic, and reason, Donald J. Trump has been elected the 45th president of the United States of America. As the votes were tallied late into the night and on to early morning, Trump captured one unexpected state after another in a most astonishing march across the electoral map.

How and why did this happen? On television, the many panels of media sages were nearly speechless with shock. One well-known political analyst almost whined, "What did we miss?" Well, when you're not paying attention, you can miss a great many things. What follows are a few of them.
  • "Flyover country." It's just a popular expression among the jet-setting elites, but flyover country became the catalyst for a political earthquake last night. All the ranchers, farmers, small business owners, family business employees, the left-behind workers from the struggling coal and steel industries, they all fought for their country with the most powerful weapons American citizens have--their votes. The households broken by the costs of Obamacare, the business owners strapped by regulations and sapped by taxes, the forgotten unemployed and underemployed--all of them showed up and made a stand for their families and their chance to shape their own way of life. And they won.
  • What else was going on? Donald Trump talked about strengthening the military, keeping America safe, protecting our borders, being the "law and order" candidate. Listening to him were members of all branches of the U.S. military and their veterans, law enforcement officers and first responders across the country--and all of their friends and families.
  • There has to be more--"Make America Great Again." A motto that was ridiculed by cultural elites throughout the campaign, it nevertheless spoke to millions of Americans who remember when we felt good about being U.S. citizens. We are a good people, we live in a great country, and we know this. How refreshing it was to hear a potential leader actually proclaim the promise and opportunities of our nation and the potential of our people rather than constantly pointing out our flaws.
  • Speaking of flaws, of course Trump the candidate had a wide assortment. During the campaign, he said many terrible things and often behaved badly. But apparently people could see that he was being himself, warts and all. His opponent was an accomplished liar with a long history of subterfuge and double dealing. Americans have grown so weary of that tired and predictable behavior. Collectively, the country's voters seemed to say "Give the big-mouthed boor a chance." As he might have put it, "What the h#ll do you have to lose?" As president, he will need to do better. The man has built himself a fortune, so he must be reasonably smart and able to improve. Voters were willing to overlook his shortcomings for a chance at real reform in our political system and change in our cultural climate.
Will Donald Trump be able to deliver on his promises? Time will tell, and very soon. In the meanwhile,  I'm glad Trump broke the china (couldn't resist) in this historic election. As he might say, "Unbelievable."

Land of Possibilities

Nothing is impossible, the word itself says "I'm possible."

~ Audrey Hepburn

November 8, 2016 - Donald J. Trump wins the presidency

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Response to an "Angry Reader"

In this link, Victor Davis Hanson writes a dignified, finely honed, fact-filed response to his "Angry Reader." It's definitely worth reading--first the "comment," then VDH's response--because this "angry reader" typifies the sanctimonious attitude found in most Clinton voters.

It's going to be a very long four years.

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Regretfully Right

Mark Steyn called it, ten years ago, in his book America Alone: The End of the World As We Know It. In 2005, Steyn predicted with startling accuracy the perilous situation the world now finds itself in with radical Islamic jihadism.

If you haven't read it, you should. I read America Alone when the book was first published, and I enjoyed Steyn's sparklingly humorous writing style as much as I learned from the facts and research presented in its pages. It's disconcerting to see that modern history is unfolding quite similarly to what Steyn foretold over a decade ago.

Steyn's later book, After America: Get Ready for Armageddon was published in 2011. It is a lengthier, more in-depth, more concerning forensic of the dire consequences facing the world in the wake of American withdrawal. I read that book, also, and I'm sorry to say that Mark Steyn was correct again. We are today witnessing, actually living and dying in, the results of the USA "leading from behind." Unsurprisingly, it's neither a safe place nor a pretty sight.

No one knows what the future holds. But we can be reasonably certain that it will be much more difficult than it should have been, had we only heeded and acted upon obvious warnings.

Monday, October 03, 2016

History in Chains

Riga, Latvia
I stumbled across Jay Nordlinger's "Baltic Journal, Part I" and it captivated me. In one short paragraph, he sums up the hidden history of the Baltic states: Latvia, Lithuania, and Estonia:
"Everyone in the Baltic states has a story — a story of parents and grandparents, if not themselves. Every family endured horrors — at the hands of Nazis, Soviets, or both. Often both."
I know these stories, and so do my children, because my husband's Latvian family escaped the Soviet devastation of their country following the Second World War. Very few people know this shadowed history, because it isn't taught anymore. What happened to the Baltic people should never be forgotten, but to the world's shame, it's as though the atrocities they suffered never even happened.

I'll be following Nordlinger's journey through the Baltic states with interest and appreciation.

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Drop the Subject

Like millions of my fellow Americans, I watched the presidential debate on Monday night. Below are five topics I never want to hear mentioned again, in a debate or anywhere else:

1.  The "Birther" Issue

Where President Obama was born has absolutely nothing to do with the state of our disappearing jobs, the limping economy, improving the nation's border security, strengthening the military, or protecting us against radical Islamic terrorism. Mr. Obama's presidency will be history in less than four months, so this media-driven "controversy" is meaningless. Why are the presidential debates wasting precious time rehashing this boring nonsense?

2.  Personal Attacks

Donald Trump has a bad habit of calling people names. And? What's the point of pursuing this personal negative? We want to hear candidates talk about the issues and how they would handle them. We don't want to hear schoolyard trash. Is Hillary Clinton so flawless? She has been shown to have a bad habit of exposing national secrets to foreign enemies, then lying about it under oath. There is a nasty name for her behavior, too.

3.  Tax Returns

I'm less interested in Donald Trump's tax returns than I am in the 33,000 emails deleted from Hillary Clinton's home server. I wonder if she checked for messages from Trump before hosing her in-box. Maybe he emailed her his tax returns.

4.  "My Husband"

Who cares what happened under Bill Clinton's watch? The world today is a very different place, largely due to his inaction. You're the one running now, Madam Secretary. Do you need to ride his coattails to win? Can't a woman get the job done on her own? Forget the 1990s, let's get real-time. What's your plan, besides massive tax hikes and more job-killing regulations? Stop name-dropping and start getting specific about how you're going to engineer the financial gouging of hardworking Americans.

5.  Boasting

Mr. Trump, we all know you've got a healthy ego. The presidential debates are not the time or place to remind us. We don't want to hear how much people love you, how many endorsements you've acquired, how proud you are of your accomplishments. Just stick to the issues. Tell us again about your plans for tax cuts, keeping jobs here at home, rebuilding manufacturing, slashing regulations. You can brag after you've won the election--if you do.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Ten Random Musings on Current Events

1. Immigration:
If you want to come live here, you need to prove to us that you're worthy of acceptance. We don't need to prove anything to you. This is our country.

2. Islamic Terrorism:
The radical Islamic terrorists want us dead. They will not stop attacking us. If we want to survive, we need to fight back with full power. I don't care if it hurts their feelings.

3. Police:
Do what they tell you to do. Do it immediately after they speak the words. If you do that one simple thing, you probably won't get shot.

4. Guns:
I've never shot a gun. But the Second Amendment protects a right that makes the USA unique. I think every state should have background checks and a waiting period. And do I really have to say, anyone on a terrorist watch list can't be allowed to own a gun.

5. Climate Change:
I agree, the climate is changing. All of the physical world is always changing; change is the only constant in nature. How much of it is our responsibility, I don't know. Neither do the "experts."

6. The Affordable Care Act:
Rather than saving me over $2,000 a year as the president promised, "Obamacare" cost me $2,300 at tax time. It's not affordable. Get rid of it and let the free market figure out health care.

7. Sitting Out the National Anthem:
So, you feel solidarity with "the oppressed." Take a look around the world and see if you could earn $119 million playing a game in any other country. Jackass. Excuse me--I meant, ungrateful jackass.

8. President Obama:
You had a golden opportunity to unite us. I was proud when a half-black man was elected--even if I didn't vote for you. Then I watched you divide black/white, rich/poor, gay/straight, Republican/Democrat. You completely blew your chance. But you're too conceited to know it.

9. Hillary Clinton:
Lies, lies, so many lies you probably don't even know what the truth is anymore. You're a criminal--a felon, actually. You may well become president, but you will be a dismal failure. You already are.

10. Donald Trump:
You could be dangerous; you might be a savior. No one knows how many supporters you have, because many won't admit it--out of either shame or fear. Traditional media hate you with a blind ferocity that prevents them from realizing they're helping you. You may well become president, and there's no telling where that will lead us.

Sunday, September 18, 2016

President "I, Me, Mine"

All through the day I me mine, I me mine, I me mine,
All through the night I me mine, I me mine, I me mine

 ~ George Harrison, The Beatles

So President Obama would consider black Americans not supporting Hillary Clinton a "personal insult" to "my legacy." Does this man never stop talking about himself?

Review any speech in his presidency. It is always about him.  It's not about the state of the country, or its future, or even the validity of his political philosophy. It's about him.

Now he's browbeating and bullying voters to cast their ballots in line with him. The president's overblown egomania grew tedious at least seven years ago. Please, oh Great One, give it a rest and let people make up their own minds who they'd like to be president. As shocking as it may seem, voters may not agree with you.

Sunday, September 11, 2016

September 11th ~ Fifiteen Years After

 Deliver me from mine enemies, O my God: defend me from them that rise up against me.

~ Psalm 59:1 (KJV)

Saturday, September 03, 2016

A Saint for Our Time

Before you speak, it is necessary for you to listen, for God speaks in the silence of the heart. ~ Mother Teresa of Calcutta

This weekend, Pope Francis will canonize Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta, confirming her as St. Teresa. It's a big day.

The Roman Catholic Church certainly has its woes. But it also commands continuing worldwide interest and attention, as noted in this NRO article by Kevin Williamson, himself a Catholic convert.

Even on the cusp of sainthood, Mother Teresa has her critics; don't we all? I sometimes wonder how much her detractors have done for the poor and needy among us. Then I realize that she was too busy doing her good work to care about what others thought or said. That's an important lesson in any era, but especially so in our own self-absorbed times.

Monday, August 29, 2016

Funny is Forever

"'Gregor Sampsa awoke one morning to discover that he had been transformed into a giant cockroach.'"
"Nah, it's too good..."
Bialystock & Bloom reviewing bad scripts - The Producers

Almost anyone who likes to laugh enjoyed at least some of comedic actor Gene Wilder's work. From The Producers, to Blazing Saddles, to Young Frankenstein and far beyond, Wilder's sometimes smart, sometimes silly humor was hard to resist.

The Producers is my favorite Wilder movie, but many of his films have become comedy classics over the decades. Gene Wilder died today at age 83; he had been suffering from Alzheimer's for several years. It's always sad when talented stars leave us, even if it is their time. Fortunately, we get to keep watching his movies.

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Politics and Pain

This election season reminds me of nothing so much as a root canal--it's agonizingly uncomfortable, I can't wait for it to be done, and I know new pains await me when it's over.

If Hillary Clinton wins, the Supreme Court is lost to progressivism for at least a generation, probably forever. The nation, as originally founded, will be finished. Big Government will rule and grow stronger and more centralized, with basic rights such as freedom of speech and religion imperiled. That's not even mentioning what a President Hillary would do to the Second Amendment. In short, the Constitution would fade into history as we march on towards a totalitarian state. And never mind the Clinton Foundation and email scandals, which are shaping up to be post-election catastrophes that will make Watergate look minor league.

On the other hand, if Donald Trump wins--what will happen? Nobody can predict with any certainty what a Trump presidency would represent. Some people find his unpredictability refreshing, while others are terrified by it. Some like his brash outspokenness; others are disgusted by it. Many Americans will forgive his wild misstatements and blunt insults; many will change their vote because of them. Which swaths of voters will turn out in greater numbers? No one knows. How many people are not admittng that they'll vote for him? No one knows that answer, either.

I just know that in November, when the USA gets out of the dentist's chair that is the 2016 presidential campaign, we will have a large bill to settle and a lot more painful work ahead of us.

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

A Precious Gift

Trailing clouds of glory do we come
From God, who is our home:
Heaven lies about us in our infancy!
 ~ Wm Wordsworth

My fourth grandchild arrived soon after dawn today. I was blessed to be holding her when she was less than ninety minutes new.

There is something mystical, magical, and very spiritual about holding a newborn infant. You watch her open those brand new eyes and gaze inquiringly, with startling wisdom, up into your face. She is life renewed looking out at the world, a unique beginning, a gift from God to encourage us weary mortals onward in our journeys. A newborn infant is always a fresh start.

Welcome, little one. Your grandmother is so grateful to be here with you.

Saturday, August 13, 2016

The Unraveling

Every nation has the government it deserves. 

~ Joseph de Maistre

One of my college professors was fond of noting that "there is nothing new under the sun." In this disturbing election cycle, I suppose we can take some comfort in that. However dysfunctional, corrupt, and inadequate the system may be, it seems humanity has suffered through similar circumstances in the past.

This knowledge of the great turning wheel of history helps to give me some philosophical perspective on the upcoming presidential election, which I privately term the "Lucrezia Borgia vs. Caligula" match-up. I think our country is in very serious trouble when we have a lying felon and a bombastic businessman as our two major candidates for the presidency. Regardless of who wins, I wonder if we as a nation can recover or if, as other great nations before us, we are unraveling into a long and painful sunset. I suppose that time alone will tell.

Saturday, August 06, 2016

San Diego's Terrible Loss

Thousands of police officers honored Officer DeGuzman
San Diego Firefighters pay tribute from freeway overpasses.
San Diego honored Police Officer Jonathan "JD" DeGuzman on Friday, August 5, as he was laid to rest, one week after he was shot to death behind the wheel of his patrol car. His partner was critically wounded and is recovering in a local hospital.

More than 2,000 police officers from across the country, some from as far away as Chicage and New York City, were in attendance to pay their respects to Officer DeGuzman, aged 43, who leaves behind his wife, a son, a daughter, and parents--all of whose lives will never be the same.

For the city of San Diego, this is a terrible and irreplaceable loss. For Officer DeGuzman's family, it is a devastating wound that can never truly heal.
600 police vehicles escorted the funeral procession.
In the white shirt: Officer DeGuzman's 17-year old son.

Officer Jonathan "JD" DeGuzman ~ Rest in peace

Saturday, July 30, 2016

An Important Distinction

The U.S. Constitution's ban on a "religious test" is being tossed about loosely with regard to immigration policies. But as Andrew C. McCarthy explains so clearly, the religious test applies only to positions of elected government officials and other positions of public trust.

The religious test ban in no way references immigration, which in the Founders' minds would have been a states rights issue. The federal government would only have had jurisdiction over the qualifications for citizenship. Would that it were so today.

How likely is it that the Founders would have agreed with allowing potentially murderous Islamic jihadists into the country, unchecked and unvetted? This is yet another destructive example of how far we today have drifted from the moorings of our nation's foundation.

Saturday, July 23, 2016

Hard Times for Simple Dreams

Cambria County, Pennsylvania
Photo by Scott Goldsmith, Politico Magazine
These days I get most of my news from the Internet. The alphabet TV networks are usually carefully packaged "info-tainment" for left-leaning agendas. Sadly, the old-fashioned newspapers that I used to love reading are now always a day behind the headlines.

Real Clear Politics is my most frequently visited news website. You'd need all day to consume all of its news, from both left and right wing perspectives. While scanning through some RCP sidebars one day this week, I chanced upon Politico's "Uprising in the Rust Belt" by Keith O'Brien. It describes the reasons behind the sea change in voters' philosophy in Cambria County, Pennsylvania. The article captured my attention immediately, because this beautiful, unassuming corner of the world is where I went to college.

The residents of Cambria County are not complex. I didn't know the local people well, but I watched them up close and learned their salt-of-the-earth values. They love God, family, country, honesty, hard work, neighborly kindness--all of the components necessary for a successful America. When I was a student in the 1970s, US flags flew from front porches or window frames on most houses. On my trips back to college reunions in recent years, I observed the flags are still flying.

During his senior year at our college, my husband Pete was a student teacher at the county high school. He once gave an essay assignment to his sophomore class to write about what they wanted to do when they graduated high school. Pete allowed me to read their papers. Not one of over two dozen essays mentioned moving to the big city or going away to college. These rural Pennsylvania teenagers wrote about working with their fathers in the coal mines, running the family grocery store, or becoming a steel worker. Unanimously, they wanted to build their adult life close to their childhood home. Their dreams were simple, but equally as valid and important as those of the Trump children.

Change comes slowly to Cambria County, but it seems to be coming now. These good people were, had always been, rock-solid Democrats. Yet today, forgotten by the powerful, mired in economic distress, and frustrated with unfulfilled dreams, they are justifiably angry and ready to re-evaluate their vote.

Bill Polacek, a steel company CEO from Johnstown, makes a powerful comment:
“People are fighting back. They’re saying: This is not complicated. You’ve got to do something. They’re tired of talk. And that’s the thing with these candidates: Hillary is talk; Trump is going to do something.”
This quote is, as Donald Trump might say, "huge." I don't know how many quietly hidden Cambria Counties there are across the USA, but I do know this: if heartland people who have been so loyal to one political party for generations are ready to turn away, this presidential election will be full of surprises. I hope the coming of more prosperous times for Cambria County will be among them.

Saturday, July 09, 2016

In Sorrow and Gratitude

“People sleep peaceably in their beds at night only because rough men stand ready to do violence on their behalf.”

George Orwell

Thank you to every police officer who stands watch each day so that we don't have to. May you be safe in the streets, on the roads, and in the constant face of danger.

Officer Down Memorial Page

Monday, July 04, 2016

Freedom, Word for Word

Transcript of Declaration of Independence (1776)

IN CONGRESS, July 4, 1776.
The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America,
When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.--That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, --That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.--Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.
He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.
He has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his Assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.
He has refused to pass other Laws for the accommodation of large districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right of Representation in the Legislature, a right inestimable to them and formidable to tyrants only.
He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their public Records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures.
He has dissolved Representative Houses repeatedly, for opposing with manly firmness his invasions on the rights of the people.
He has refused for a long time, after such dissolutions, to cause others to be elected; whereby the Legislative powers, incapable of Annihilation, have returned to the People at large for their exercise; the State remaining in the mean time exposed to all the dangers of invasion from without, and convulsions within.
He has endeavoured to prevent the population of these States; for that purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migrations hither, and raising the conditions of new Appropriations of Lands.
He has obstructed the Administration of Justice, by refusing his Assent to Laws for establishing Judiciary powers.
He has made Judges dependent on his Will alone, for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.
He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harrass our people, and eat out their substance.
He has kept among us, in times of peace, Standing Armies without the Consent of our legislatures.
He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil power.
He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation:
For Quartering large bodies of armed troops among us:
For protecting them, by a mock Trial, from punishment for any Murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States:
For cutting off our Trade with all parts of the world:
For imposing Taxes on us without our Consent:
For depriving us in many cases, of the benefits of Trial by Jury:
For transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended offences
For abolishing the free System of English Laws in a neighbouring Province, establishing therein an Arbitrary government, and enlarging its Boundaries so as to render it at once an example and fit instrument for introducing the same absolute rule into these Colonies:
For taking away our Charters, abolishing our most valuable Laws, and altering fundamentally the Forms of our Governments:
For suspending our own Legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever.
He has abdicated Government here, by declaring us out of his Protection and waging War against us.
He has plundered our seas, ravaged our Coasts, burnt our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people.
He is at this time transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to compleat the works of death, desolation and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of Cruelty & perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized nation.
He has constrained our fellow Citizens taken Captive on the high Seas to bear Arms against their Country, to become the executioners of their friends and Brethren, or to fall themselves by their Hands.
He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages, whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.
In every stage of these Oppressions We have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A Prince whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.
Nor have We been wanting in attentions to our Brittish brethren. We have warned them from time to time of attempts by their legislature to extend an unwarrantable jurisdiction over us. We have reminded them of the circumstances of our emigration and settlement here. We have appealed to their native justice and magnanimity, and we have conjured them by the ties of our common kindred to disavow these usurpations, which, would inevitably interrupt our connections and correspondence. They too have been deaf to the voice of justice and of consanguinity. We must, therefore, acquiesce in the necessity, which denounces our Separation, and hold them, as we hold the rest of mankind, Enemies in War, in Peace Friends.
We, therefore, the Representatives of the united States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That these United Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States; that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do. And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.

The 56 signatures on the Declaration appear in the positions indicated:
Column 1
   Button Gwinnett
   Lyman Hall
   George Walton
Column 2
North Carolina:
   William Hooper
   Joseph Hewes
   John Penn
South Carolina:
   Edward Rutledge
   Thomas Heyward, Jr.
   Thomas Lynch, Jr.
   Arthur Middleton
Column 3
John Hancock
Samuel Chase
William Paca
Thomas Stone
Charles Carroll of Carrollton
George Wythe
Richard Henry Lee
Thomas Jefferson
Benjamin Harrison
Thomas Nelson, Jr.
Francis Lightfoot Lee
Carter Braxton
Column 4
   Robert Morris
   Benjamin Rush
   Benjamin Franklin
   John Morton
   George Clymer
   James Smith
   George Taylor
   James Wilson
   George Ross
   Caesar Rodney
   George Read
   Thomas McKean
Column 5
New York:
   William Floyd
   Philip Livingston
   Francis Lewis
   Lewis Morris
New Jersey:
   Richard Stockton
   John Witherspoon
   Francis Hopkinson
   John Hart
   Abraham Clark
Column 6
New Hampshire:
   Josiah Bartlett
   William Whipple
   Samuel Adams
   John Adams
   Robert Treat Paine
   Elbridge Gerry
Rhode Island:
   Stephen Hopkins
   William Ellery
   Roger Sherman
   Samuel Huntington
   William Williams
   Oliver Wolcott
New Hampshire:
   Matthew Thornton

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Friday, July 01, 2016

100 Years Ago

I've been aware of the time going by
They say in the end it's the wink of an eye

 ~ Jackson Brown

One hundred years ago today, July 1, 2016, the horror that was the First World War opened a new hell on earth as the seige known as the Battle of the Somme, or the Somme Offensive, began in France. Over a five month period, from July 1 to November 18, more than one million soldiers were killed or wounded. (For riveting history of World War I, try the podcasts "Blueprint for Armageddon," by Dan Carlin.)

On that same summer day a century ago that one of the bloodiest battles in human history began, a baby boy was born thousands of miles away in a poor working class neighborhood in Manhattan, New York, to Irish immigrant parents. That newborn child was my father.

There is a charming adage that claims "every child comes with the message that God is not yet discouraged of men." When I think of the brutal mass destruction that began on my father's birthday, and then consider the man, husband, and father he became, I'm inclined to agree that God is not yet done with humanity.

Further evidence of benevolence in the universe is the fact that movie legend Olivia de Havilland, also born July 1, 2016, turns 100 years old today. My father lived 70 years; de Havilland is celebrating her centennial. It's a reminder to me that regardless of how much we are allotted, time passes quickly for all of us. Far more important than our span of years is their content and what we ourselves make of them.

Monday, June 27, 2016

Back Off, Big Government

It has been rather an entertaining stretch of hysteria, the media's reaction to "Brexit," Great Britain's assertion of--gasp!--its own sovereignty. I can't imagine what's so shocking about it, but then again I'm one of the troglodytes who actually believe people should have a say in how their country is run.

Photo from GMX
Think about it. Everyday people--not just Americans or Brits, but everyone in all Western "democracies"--are supposed to listen to the self-appointed "elites" in charge of running--or should I say, ruining--our lives, our careers, our economy, and our government. It gets tiring, following all those orders handed down from on high, does it not? "Follow these regulations...use this light this trash this car." Or better yet, pack yourselves onto a bus or a train, while we, your worthy betters, get chauffeured around in SUVs with bullet-proof windows.

Is it so surprising that at least one country has stood up and said "Stuff it!" to the insufferable powers that be?

The most laughable canard that's been peddled ceaselessly is that the "older, less educated" British voters wanted to leave, while the "younger, better educated" demographic wanted to remain. Of course. Just look at those old codgers in the photo, celebrating the results of the Brexit vote. And where, oh where, are all their blue collars?

I think Brexit is just one more symptom of the sickness of our time. Too much government interference by too many bureaucrats in too many corners of people's lives has finally resulted in a gigantic slap-down. Hooray. I hope the reaction is contagious and reaches American shores soon. Brexit could be the start of a very healthy trend.

Sunday, June 19, 2016

The Lasting Impact of Dad

I'm still trying to imitate Dad and still falling short.
~ Happy Father's Day ~

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Questions after Orlando

"President Obama, who has spent his presidency yearning for the reality he wants rather than the one he has, once again downplayed any suggestion that this was another battle in the war on Islamic terror he does not want to fight."

Where do you begin to try making sense of the increasingly delusional responses to the radical Islamist terror attack in Orlando? 

Do you start with the media and elites who quickly flip to supposed bigotry against homosexuality?
Do you talk about a possibly gay Islamic man so full of self-loathing that he commits this atrocity?
Do you pivot to presidential elecction polling numbers?
Do you blame it on America, because everything is our fault, after all is said and done? 

Or do you start with reality? Yes, I'd like to start there, thank you. It goes like this: A radicalized Islamist cold-blooded killer slaughters 49 of our fellow Americans and wounds 53 more. It's the most devastating terrorist attack on American soil since the radical Islamist terrorists flew planes into the World Trade Center almost fifteen years ago. That's where the conversation should be.

Raw evil. Look at it. It's ugly but simple. Evil. A radical Islamist murderer. Nothing else to be said.

Do you think maybe we could keep our eye on that ball for oh, maybe 24 hours before veering off into completely irrelevant political agendas?

What about the victims?
What about the families?
What about compassion, and giving a damn about people, and leaving your personal opinions out of the carnage for a respectable period of time?

What about recognizing the truth of what is happening before our eyes, around our country and across the world? What about doing something to stop it?

That's it. That's where you begin.

Monday, June 06, 2016

D-Day Remembered

Victor Davis Hanson refects on D-Day, on this 72nd anniversary of the Allied invasion of the beaches at Normandy. There is so much to remember and appreciate of what those soldiers did for us. So many of them gave up their lives so that we could live ours.

From the Semper Fi Parents Collection

Sunday, May 29, 2016

Pause to Remember

Many Americans will enjoy a day off work tomorrow in observance of Memorial Day.

It would be right and just if we all took a moment to remember that our "holiday" was purchased at a terrible price.

Thursday, May 26, 2016

History in Shadows

Victor Davis Hanson provides us with a refresher course in World War II history as President Obama visits Hiroshima. The facts regarding the buildup to and aftermath of Japan's attack on Pearl Harbor are rarely presented today.

In ending the embargo on Vietnam arms sales, the president vows to end a lingering vestige of the Cold War. New York Post writer Seth Lipskey cleverly wonders when we're going to end the "lingering vestige of the Communist Party."

The United States is not perfect; we've got more than our share of flaws and errors. But we are far from the destructive villain popular myth makes us out to be. Our historical reality has been so distorted by political correctness run rampant and defamed by ignorant elites that love to hate us that we are forgetting--or, more sadly, never being taught--the heroic achievements and enduring promise of our country.

Our unique history has been shrouded in shadows. I wonder if Donald Trump's success thus far can be attributed to the simple fact that he's shining a light on our good points. I suspect it is, for that's something most Americans long for dearly.

Sunday, May 08, 2016

Mother's Day

“Behind all your stories is always your mother’s story. Because hers is where yours begin.” ― Mitch Albom

Sunday, May 01, 2016

"The Rise of the Unprotected"

The protected make public policy. The unprotected live in it. The unprotected are starting to push back, powerfully.
~ Peggy Noonan, Feb. 25, 2016

Peggy Noonan wrote this piece back in February. The continuing success of the Trump candidacy seems to prove her point, and as usual Noonan presents it with more pith and style than just about anyone else, except perhaps Mark Steyn.

Conrad Black also has some keen observations on how we got into Trump-land, and it was his article on Trump's "inevitability" that linked me to Noonan's analysis of the rise of the unprotected.

I think Noonan's choice of words--"protected," rather than the shopworn term "elites," vs. the "unprotected," meaning you/me/everyday working people--and the powerful imagery of her examples, are spot on target to explain the uncontrollable mood of today's electorate.

In a nutshell, the unprotected are tired of taking all the hits to keep the protected safe and cozy. Donald Trump has tapped that vein and is running it wide open. If Trump is the Republican nominee, and if he can keep that line flowing clearly, he will be the next president.

I'm not saying I like what's happening in our national politics today, but I am a realist. More to the point, I'm also weary of being unprotected.

Saturday, April 23, 2016

The Bard's Birthday

We know what we are, but not what we may be.
~ Wm. Shakespeare

Today is William Shakespeare's birthday. The New York Post had an interesting article about how Shakespeare was almost lost to history. Alas and alack!

There is a fascinating theory that Shakespeare worked on the King James translation of the Holy Bible. Supporting clues are embedded within Psalm 46 of the King James Version (KJV).

Work on the KJV translation began in 1604. It was published in 1611, the year Shakespeare turned 47 years old. If he had been involved in the project, he would have been working on it at age 46.

Now comes the fun part.

If the reader counts 46 words in to the 46th psalm of the KJV, you'll find the word "shake." Then count 46 words back from the last word, and you'll see "spear." Pretty cool, huh? Could it be a secretly coded signature by one of history's greatest geniuses? Methinks, aye.

"In natures infinite book of secrecy, a little I can read."

Friday, April 22, 2016

America, Lost

 "Because the great choice in a nation of 320 million may come down to Crazy Man versus Criminal."

Peggy Noonan sums up the feelings of countless Americans in this column about experiencing "That Moment When 2016 Hits You." Read it and weep.

Saturday, April 16, 2016

So Close, So Far Away

Aunt Kathleen ~ c.1940
Her name was Kathleen, and she was beautiful. She was my aunt and my godmother. Today she died at the honorable age of 94.

Born in 1921, eighteen months after my mother, Kathleen was the second of five children. Of all the siblings, now only Mom remains.

Most of my memories of my aunt are from childhood. Soon after my birth, she married and proceeded to have five sons and two daughters, in that order. In my early years, she lived in the New York suburbs. Our families visited regularly, and I often spent a week at my aunt’s house during summer vacation. Looking back, I’m amazed she didn’t mind having another mouth to feed.

My memories are old but vivid. In my mind’s eye, I see identical tee shirts in several different sizes fluttering from her clothesline, turned inside out in case the sun faded the fabric. I recall a large plastic tablecloth spread on her garage floor, a tall step-up chair, and the hum of a barber’s clippers while each of my cousins sat in turn as she gave them buzz haircuts. I remember huge plastic pitchers of powdered milk, one plain and one chocolate, that my aunt vigorously mixed and placed in the refrigerator the night before “so the flavor sets,” she once explained to me.

I also remember being made to feel quite special on certain occasions. On my sixth birthday I received a gold birthstone ring from Aunt Kathleen and Uncle Bob. She would present me with a small gift as a reward for a good report card. These kind surprises occurred as her own family was growing so quickly. I marvel that she found the time.

When I was twelve years old, my aunt and her family moved from New York to Florida after my uncle took a job there. This was a seismic family event. Visits, by practical necessity, would become increasingly rare over the decades. My own relocation to California further restricted our physical contact. She telephoned me the day after Pete died, overcome with emotion. I remember being so glad to hear from her. But it’s well over twenty years since I last saw my aunt.

The first year after she moved to Florida, she and I exchanged letters. Aunt Kathleen’s letters, two or three pages long, were written in crisp, clear script on loose leaf paper (no doubt lifted from a three-ring school binder). I would devour her words, often reading paragraphs aloud to my curious mother, then quickly write back. Sure as sunrise, within two weeks, Aunt Kathleen’s answering letter would arrive.

My aunt never drove a car, and my uncle was often away from home for his job. Yet she raised and cared for seven children, kept a spotless house, walked to and from daily Mass--and wrote letters to her niece a thousand miles away. Remarkable.

I kept my aunt’s letters tied in a ribbon and tucked in a drawer in my childhood bedroom. Over many years and several moves, the letters have been lost. Today, remembering good days long gone, I dearly wish I could read them again.

Sunday, April 10, 2016

Political Fatigue

It's tough to stomach the thought that our "Mad Max" political season will continue with increasing intensity throughout the conventions and all the way past November's election. I, for one, am exhausted and already sick of all the candidates. Sander's wagging finger, Clinton's carping voice, Cruz's smarmy pandering, Trump's obnoxious rants, Kasich's delusions of relevance--all wore thin, months ago. The idea of a four-year term for any of them makes me weary.

I've talked with many people of widely varying opinions on national issues, and everyone seems to agree on one thing--nobody now running is a promising candidate for president. The prevailing sentiment among everyday people seems to be that "we don't like any of them and we're screwed no matter who wins." This voter ennui is symptomatic of just how ill our nation has become.

How sad for the country that there's probably more truth than poetry to that thought.

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Biting the Apple
Can you imagine an American company in the 1940s denying a request by federal investigators to help the war effort? No, I can't imagine it, either. But what a difference seventy years can make. Apple, in refusing to assist in accessing the iPhone data of the San Bernardino terrorist, put company before country. For awhile, it seemed that Apple had the high ground in the PR battle, if not the moral struggle. Apple seemed quite pleased with itself.

But, as I suspected they would, the FBI found a "third party" to hack into the targeted iPhone. Now Apple, who argued the sanctity of their high security brand, must confront the fact that an unknown entity can crack their treasured secret code. Worse, the whole world now knows that iPhones are vulnerable. Furthermore, Apple doesn't know how the data was accessed. But what's really the pits (sorry, couldn't resist) is how many other iPhones in government custody are next on the third-party
hacking block.

I'm guessing the FBI won't be sending Apple the briefing, either.

Saturday, March 26, 2016

Light a Candle for Us

I'm losing count of how many times this has happened, but events always seem to follow a set pattern following an Islamic terrorist attack.
First there's the sounds and images of explosions/gunfire/bomb detonations that result in carnage, death, destruction, and panic mixed with heroism, all viewed through veils of smoke and shadows of running figures. Immediately after we see 24/7 media coverage, often fraught with misinformation or even rumor. Next comes the obligatory outrage expressed by world leaders, complete with platitudes about "solidarity" and "thoughts and prayers," all of which is meaningless empty words. The current American president will be sure to throw in a warning about not judging Islam by the acts of a few. (Interesting how, after a mass shooting in the USA, he never warns about not judging all gun owners by the acts of a few.)
After the heads of state have dutifully weighed in we begin to see the increased security, with armed military and law enforcement officers patrolling in full fighting gear, often with search dogs. The police presence juxtaposes with the calm and meditative candlelight vigils, with flowers, teddy bears, and heart-rending signs and letters piling up in close proximity to the site of the latest atrocity. This is the longest portion of the standard reaction, often lingering for days as news anchors capture poignant closing segments for their television network that are certain to bump up the ratings.

Newspaper stories continue to appear regarding an "ongoing investigation" as the days wear on. We may even hear about additional suspects being apprehended or new twists to the evil plot. But the buzz is now fading. The news articles grow shorter and less frequent until they disappear. People go back to watching "Dancing with the Stars" and talking about the newest iPhone.

What can we do, after all? Nobody wants another Iraq War, we say to each other over drinks at happy hour. No, of course not. But what we sometimes forget is that we may not have a choice in the matter. In fact, it is becoming increasingly obvious that we don't have a choice. We have an enemy that means business. Until we mean the same back at them, we are all in grave peril.

Finally, about ten days to two weeks after the terrorist attack, we have returned fully to "normal," listening to presidential candidates hurl insults at each other, fretting over gas prices, looking forward to weekend sports. As attention ebbs away from the latest international scene of death and devastation, the Islamic terrorists press quietly ahead with their plans for the next attack on Western civilization.

As we continue our rituals of complacent reaction, there is no doubt that one day, the candlelight vigils will be for us or our loved ones. It has been so already, in both Paris and Brussels.

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Saturday, March 12, 2016

Houses of Glass

President Obama is a fine one to be talking about the "crack-up" in the Republican party. In the classically clueless style of a glass house-dweller hurling stones, the president ignores the "crack-up" in his own party, where the two contenders for the presidential nomination are your friendly neighborhood communist and a compulsively lying felon (albeit an unconvicted felon--thus far).

What's going on in politics today is a voter revolt against the dictates of the oligarchy--on both sides of the spectrum--that has for too long ignored the citizens' voices and imposed its own will on the electorate. What the voters of both parties seem to be saying is this:
"Those days are over. We will not listen to you or your media watchdogs this time. We will choose the next president, no matter what our 'rulers' tell us to do or think."
I'm not sure I like what's going on, either, but one thing is for sure--it appears that We the People are going to have our say this time around. That makes the supposed shelter of glass houses a very perilous place indeed.

Monday, February 29, 2016

Questions in Black and White

The "black vs. white Oscars" made me feel like it was the 1960s again. Even in Hollywood, it seems we're back to the whiny "you dissed me because I'm black" atmosphere that permeated the country forty-to-fifty years ago.

How ironic--and sad--that, far from being the crowning achievement in a long, courageous, bloody path to equality, Barack Obama's presidency has returned the nation to a color-conscious, sniping, and resentful collection of malcontents.

I suppose that Chris Rock did the best he could as host of the awards show. But, despite a few chuckles, it was painful to watch. I don't think I'm alone in my weariness of the word "racism." It's thrown around with such boring regularity that it's become virtually meaningless. That's the real injustice, because true racism is a powerfully destructive force that gets no clarity today. Any perceived slight is deemed "racist"--the "all-white" Academy Awards being a prime example.

In my book, deliberately causing harm to people because of their color, that's racism. Leaving them off a list of Hollywood award nominees, for whatever reason? Is that really "Racism"? After stars such as Denzel Washington, Halle Berry, Jamie Foxx, Forest Whitaker, Morgan Freeman, Stevie Wonder, Whoopi Goldberg, and Jennifer Hudson (complete list linked here) have taken home the golden prize? Not so much.

Do we now need Affirmative Action for the Academy Awards? Will the Motion Picture Academy be required to nominate people based on race, regardless of the quality of their work? If so, then why don't the African American performers just stick with the Black Entertainment Awards and leave the Oscars to the white folks?

In 2016, when the United States has established a distinguished history of diverse racial achievement at the highest levels of government, industry, academia, literature, and art, why are we even talking about "racism," let alone letting it dominate our culture? What is to be gained by this? A more urgent question perhaps is, what is to be lost?