Thursday, June 30, 2005

Wrong Questions Being Asked

One of the headline stories in this morning’s Houston Chronicle, “Council hits pause button on TV funds”, followed closely by, “Public-access channel sparks a debate about free speech vs. obscenity issues”. According to Matt Stiles, staff reporter:

“The Houston City Council postponed funding for a cable public-access channel Wednesday amid debate about whether it would be censorship for the city to limit programming that one councilwoman labeled "obscene."”

The issue that should have been in question before City Council; “Why are tax payer dollars being spent to fund public-access television in the first place?”, not the content of those shows. There are plenty of privately funded television channels that have all manner of viewing options for the public. It is not a question of free speech vs. obscenity; rather it is the waste of public monies at a time when such monies are in short supply because of such wasteful spending on the part of elected officials, now that’s obscene!

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

I must be losing my touch

I went to the “town meeting” at the local MUD building a while ago. The first thing I was asked to do was to sign one of the “attendance sheets” that had been placed on some tables in the foyer. It was not; however, an attendance sheet, since by signing it I was essentially signing on that I agreed with their proposals, proposals which I had not yet heard. Most of those in attendance did sign and it should be no surprise that there were many sheep taking the place of thinking and reasoning human forms.

I did listen to the information, some of which might actually be worthy of pushing forward; more precisely, there was an explanation of how the glide paths of aircraft entering their final approach, somewhere about the ten mile markers which is where our subdivision just happens to be located, that instead of having a rather shallow attitude of declination or roughly 2000 feet, it could be raised to about 3000 feet without creating any issues as far as safety or extremes in passenger comfort while at the same time reducing ground noise complaints from neighborhood residents. The hand out material specified that it should be raised to 4000 feet; not being a pilot or one in a position to identify the issue of safety or passenger comfort, those figures are simply numbers to me.

In either case, I could see how some simple concessions on the part of the airport administration, the FAA and the pilots should be addressed; with the reserved stipulation that I endorse such a change only if it does not cause or create a situation that is a hazard to the safe operation of these aircraft based on their specific knowledge and input. I do not trust the bureaucratic managers of government to such a decision and I am quite certain that those in attendance of our town meeting would have bobbed their heads in agreement had the option been proposed to fly all airplanes below ground level and eliminate surface noise altogether.

Most of the other issues that were brought before our community members, quite frankly, did not apply to our particular location because we are, as I mentioned, about 10 miles from the airport facility. The presentation attempted to equate our lives with those who lived quite a bit closer, those whose homes were so close as to shake with each passing airplane; for those people life would be, and is, quite a different situation than our own. We have many airplanes fly over because Houston is the 4th largest airport in the nation as far as air traffic; however, by our location relative to the airport, the fact remains that airplanes must fly over our neighborhood.

I can’t see staging a major protest over the fact that it gets hot in Houston during the Summer; why would I get upset over the fact that airplanes headed to the airport can’t use some kind of “worm hole” in time to avoid my neighborhood. All they would have to do is drop through the black hole, keep from being crushed by the tremendous forces necessary to make a time/space leap and then appear at the airport. Don’t they have any consideration for my peace and quiet?

There was quite a bit of time spent explaining the disasters to our peace and quite that would happen each time a new runway expansion took place in the near future, all to be done with or without our approval. There were explanations of how it was impossible to carry on a conversation while sitting next to the back yard swimming pool; something that must be on the world list of atrocities imposed on the affluent citizens. Maybe these are the same folks who want to shut down Club Gitmo, I thought some of them looked a little worried when told that the air conditioning in the MUD building was doing its best under the circumstances and that the addition of an oscillating fan was helping to move the air. It must be noted that I couldn’t hear one airplane fly over because the fan was making so much noise. We really do have a tough life here in Olde Oaks.

I had a chance to raise my hand well into the meeting and advised everyone that I seemed to be the only one in attendance who was not bothered by airplanes flying over, the associated noise or the possible devaluation of my home. I further explained that I considered such meetings, at least as far as our particular subdivision went, that we would be Majoring in Minor Things, as was the name of the article which I published on the internet recently and linked via the title bar. I explained, above a not so civil attempt to shout me down, that I had come to be informed rather than be recruited to a cause.

I titled this piece, “I must be losing my touch”, because only two or three of my neighbors lost their composure and invited me to leave, pointing to the door. One was incensed that I would offer an opinion that was counter to his own while yet another was indignant because he claimed to have lost $40K off the value of his home’s retail listing. I didn’t point out the fact that his home’s value might have been affected by the recent Wal-Mart store being built at the front of the neighborhood. I should explain that while many folks consider Wal-Mart second cousin to Satan himself, I think they are a wonderful addition to the overall retail market and this way they are exactly one mile away and I don’t have to cross FM 1960 to get there. Through the rest of the meeting these two fine examples of the American process of idea exchange would check to see why I had not left, surely it was obvious to them, that my opinion was not in concert with the rest. I was beginning to feel better for having raised at least a few veins.

When the meeting ended, mostly from attrition, there were only a handful of my neighbors left. I made it a point to greet them, assure them that I did in fact live within the boundaries of the Olde Oaks subdivision; one having asked if I was “a plant” from the City could not believe that anyone could bear all that noise every time an airplane went overhead. Another of my neighbor’s was sitting on the back row and was grumbling to his wife loudly enough that I understood that he was miffed at my comments. I heard her quietly explain that she had never been bothered by any of the airplanes and actually enjoyed watching them and that he was behaving badly. She had accompanied him as a chance to meet socially with her friends and had no intention of making airplane noise an issue.

I did get to talk one on one with Linda Faulkner, a member of the Olde Oaks Board and is on the committee, “The Coalition for Homeowners Alliance Requiring Government Equity”, responsible for addressing all of the concerns which were brought up, real or imagined. I was never all that good in punctuation; isn’t there supposed to be a comma, a semi-colon or two sentences in a name that long? I thanked her for the information and told her that I agreed with the idea of increasing the altitude of approaching aircraft since it was based in solid reasoning and would improve relations with some of my more “fragile” neighbors. I still am mildly amused that so much time and effort was exerted to accomplish almost nothing of value. I plan to check into the provided web site, to keep informed. I still think that these folks have way too little to gripe or complain about.

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Free, Did you say Free?

I hadn’t planned to write this article until I was hit by Jimmy, one of Brad the Unrepentant Individual’s Free Radical’s two by four. That hurt by the way, the bruise may go down after I vent off some of this steam. In case you are wondering, Jimmy would have us believe that “Universal Health Care”, call it what you will, under the supervision of government would be a good thing. Read his article and then send him your best wishes for a quick recovery from his insanity.

I will keep my remarks focused on Jimmy’s off hand statement that would have us believe:

“It goes relatively without question that if you live in these United States of America, you have the ability (again, I’ll stop short of using the word “right”) to attend a public school nearly free of charge through graduation of high school. Education is a service paid for by the constituents of the school district…” (emphasis added )

The use of the words, “nearly free”, followed in the next sentence with, “paid for by” should be the focus of our attention when dealing with governmental control over education and or health care services. It’s definitely not free. The fact is that a public education costs a small fortune, paid for by somebody, just not those attending the classes. Then consider the quality of that public education compared to the same amount of time spent in a privately funded school system and the results will show a resounding failure in bold red ink of government run school systems. The system fails to educate to bare minimum college level entry requirements at a cost that is staggering. What makes it worse is that we have to pay for it regardless of the quality, at premium prices to boot.

Why should I believe that a government run health care program would be more efficient than one run in a competitive environment such as we have now? The answer is, I can’t. For all of its shortcomings, the private sector has been able to accomplish providing health care for the entire population, regardless of their ability to pay for those services. While some of the more elaborate procedures are provided to those who have lots of money and/or their insurance companies have lots of money, these services are available to even the poorest citizen as charitable donations. Government in charge of such a system would make all of us equally poor; poor service, poor quality and definitely poorer in the pocket.

The waste factor of government run programs is overlooked, “But, they are doing the best that they can.”, is not good enough. I have a better idea; all those folks with no money to pay for private medical insurance, no money to pay for private schools and no money to pay for food to put on the table, let them have all those services provide for “free” by the rest of us who have learned how to discipline our expenditures. Let them have the fruits of our labors with the express understanding that they relinquish their right to vote in the electoral processes. Eliminate their ability to demand such services and admit that they are beggars willing to take the table scraps from those with enough and then some; then I might consider government health care for “everyone”.

Let me continue to provide for my own health care via the totally corrupted privately owned health care system, thank you very much. To say that they have no access to health care is simply not a true statement; more accurately, they choose to spend their limited funds on other things.

Liberty Requires Self Discipline

This country was born, July 4th 1776 being the celebrated first breath. The thoughts of many gifted thinkers, dreamers and writers all came together and established the fabric which would permit so many varied people to individually accomplish to their fullest while establishing limits to the structure of government that might seek to contain such freedoms.

We are optimists, those who plan families and intend to bring forth children to this environment of hope. No where else on the face of this planet can an individual have so many opportunities to express the ideas, attempt to carry out those ideas and remain within the working framework of an orderly society. I say that we are optimists because a good portion of the world does not believe that so much freedom is a good thing and at each and every opportunity there are those who would remove our way of life, our freedoms and our ability to express thoughts and actions. There are many who live among us, driven to extreme by greed, lust for power or simply lack of self discipline. They are willing to accept the freedom and liberties created for all to extend themselves and accomplish their greatest goals and achievements; but would do so at the expense of their fellow countrymen, discounting other's feeble attempts and dreams as inferior and therefore not deserving of the same level of freedom or liberty.

In some countries they are called Monarchies; Kings, Emperors, Mullahs and the list of self proclaimed elitists is as varied as there are languages. In any case they are strong willed individuals who saw the opportunity to seize power and acted without hesitation to obtain and hold that power. Here in the United States of America, although the use of “United” and “States” might be quite a stretch now that we have Blue and Red splotches all over the map, we have no such comparative position; or at least it should not be considered as such. The difference is that our leaders are elected for and by the people as servants to those people instead of grabbing that power by virtue of force or coercion. Some of you might wonder if I fell of the turnip truck yesterday and hit my head when I landed on the pavement with such a remarkably naive statement. If it turns out that we made a poor choice then there is a mechanism whereby that damage is limited to the term of office and we can elect a different person to fill that position of authority; at least that’s the way it was set up.

We have learned by sad experience that it is the nature and disposition
almost all men, as soon as they get a little authority, as they suppose, they will immediately begin to exercise unrighteous dominion.”

(Doctrine and Covenants 121:39)

The “Great Experiment” which is the self administration of affairs by a group of individuals, has built into its fabric the visible flaws which are capable of destroying itself. While these flaws have been there from our inception, they have, for the most part been overlooked, not because they are not flawed; but because we respected our individuality, our common desire to exist with each other under the umbrella of such a flawed set of rules and laws and not to take advantage of such flaws so as to preserve the union and that fabric which permits our individual freedoms and liberties.

In the first house that I owned we had a back bedroom with one of the smaller window panes broken. It was only a corner that was broken, a clean brake that we could have fixed easily for about $ 5. We left it broken because our cats had discovered that they no longer had to howl and scratch at the door for attention when they wanted in or out. The hole was just barely large enough for them to squeeze through and so it made our lives that much easier. We accepted the flaw; realizing that some of our air conditioned comfort was escaping, that there were other ways to accomplish the same ends and yet we were content to leave it alone. Eventually there was one heck of a cat fight that started in our back yard and a chase that took out the remainder of that same window when the offending beast followed without regard for the fact that his head was larger than the opening. We then installed a Lucite replacement window expressly designed for cats to take its place.

The Constitution along with the corrective measures taken by the inclusion of the Bill of Rights is the fabric of our freedoms and liberties. Its not that they define our rights, for their intent is to limit government’s ability to infringe on the individual; something that has been overlooked. Those who came to America were aware of the extreme nature of government and how specific issues made life unbearable and went about the process of articulating the method and means of a totally new form of self governed people; The Great Experiment.

It has taken a little over 200 years for some of our more aggressive power seekers to “find”, change that to “seek out” the flaws in the fabric which holds our liberties together. There has been a concerted effort from within our own to dismantle the safe guards of individual liberty so as to dissolve and destroy them. This is no accident, no coincidence of nature; it follows an agenda and therefore can be identified. In 1958, Cleon Skoussen, former FBI agent, revealed in his book, The Naked Communist, the long term goals of the communist agenda. This information is also contained not only in the Congressional Record (August 1963), but also in the Communist Manifesto itself. Without going into a long list of the itemized issues presented as the agenda, I would present the idea that nothing short of a total collapse of our form of government is their goal and expect that the link provided will be sufficient to support my statement.

It is logical and appropriate to then proceed with the notion, avoiding the word “assumption” and the baggage that is associated with that particular word, that there are powers working at nearly every level of our society that have taken a silent oath in support of advancing the agenda of destruction. It is time to expose these traitors of liberty for what they are. We need not call them “the Liberal Left”, “Progressives” or any number of filtered down, less incendiary titles; they are Communists intent on our demise. It’s time to stand up on one side of the ledger or the other, define our intentions to either support furthering the Great Experiment or declare our inclination to destroy it.

A special Hat Tip goes to “Wally” for his comment regarding Cleon Skoussen’s book, The Naked Communist, when he visited Hold the Mayo’s Blog article, “Open Source Amendment Project - Revision 2”

Here is the URL permalink to Hold the Mayo because the tool to hide URL's is not permitting me to do that now. (my shoulders come together and my hands are held palms up at this time)

This is my entry for the Carnival of Liberty which is linked via the title bar. Please take the time to visit for some excellent postings by some of the greatest bloggers around.

Monday, June 27, 2005

How Many Indeed

I visited Willow Tree and read an article she wrote, “How many”, in reference to the number of Jews that would have to die before the policy of making concessions to murderers is stopped. I followed the link and read more about how terrorists murder Jews; something that has gone on for a very long time. The world leaders get together and work out policy and deals that sound sincere and all the while there are more murders. So, how many will have to die until they quit trying to diplomatically deal with murderers?

I’m a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, the Mormons. In one of our books of Scripture, The Book of Mormon, there is a story worth relating.
In Alma, chapter 24, in verse 21 we learn about a group of converts who at one time had been murdering savages themselves. Upon learning that God would require them to repent of their ways in order to gain entrance into His Kingdom, they laid down their weapons of war and vowed never to pick them up again for the chance of being made clean through and by the atonement of the Savior who was to come, even Jesus Christ. These people lay prostrated on the ground as the advancing enemy soldiers began to slaughter them in great numbers. No attempt was made to defend themselves and eventually even their enemies took pity upon them and ceased the carnage which they had brought upon these truly converted people.

I have listened to some of the survivors of WWII, the Jews who lived through the man made hell of the concentration camps intended to exterminate an entire people. I learned something about the human spirit from them, something that I had never thought possible. Many of these Jews, while far from complacent about their situation, regarded the taking of life, even the lives of their sworn enemies, to be a sin for which they were not prepared to wager their eternal souls and salvation on. They instead were led to the death camps as sheep to the slaughter. With this understanding my appreciation for such strength of spirit grew considerably. I had thought the Jews to be cowards, afraid to stand up for their rights, themselves; when the facts showed that, in fact, they were far superior in character and spirit to the rest of the human race as they submitted to the will of our Father in Heaven, not to the strength of the Third Reich.

I think I fall short in that area. I’m a retired police officer and I have a card in my wallet that explains the fact that I go down and qualify with my pistol so that I can shoot the bad guys if they need to be shot. I suppose that runs counter to productivity, not getting paid to do the same work as those who still wear the blue uniform. I don’t see myself as prostrating myself on the floor while the bad guys break down the front door and take aim at me or my family. I don’t see myself burying my Smith and Wesson 357 magnum in the backyard under the green bean crop either.

I think that I would be with those who stood watch over those very brave and courageous souls as they lay down and waited for their time to meet God. I would not feel guilty at all putting a third eye in some terrorist or any other bad guy intent on killing innocent people. If that makes my acceptance into my Father’s Kingdom less likely, then it is a choice that I make with my agency, that agency given to all men by our Creator.

Sunday, June 26, 2005

State’s Right Issue, Not !!!

I asked an attorney friend of mine his opinion regarding the Supreme Court decision Kelo Vs. New London. I wanted to hear a different angle than the layman’s rant. I was a little surprised to hear him attempt to validate the side taken by the MIB as he started going on and on about how land and property issues have always been State’s Rights issues. For half a second I thought that maybe I’d jumped the gun; that maybe the Supreme Court Justices hadn’t thrown the Constitution and the Bill of Rights in the trash can; but only for half a second as my mind clearly identified the most glaring issue, that being the individuals rights guaranteed to us by the Constitution via the Fifth Amendment.

Amendment V

No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a Grand Jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the Militia, when in actual service in time of War or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offence to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation. ( emphasis added )

The part that sticks in my craw are the words “Without Due Process of Law”. This is where the Supreme Court Justices have turned their backs on the Bill of Rights and We The People of these United States. Due process of law sounds fairly simple and yet that is what has been thrown away in many of the modern interpretations of law.

I will get away from this business of Eminent Domain for a little and take up yet a different side of the Due Process of Law concept, that of Traffic Laws. I was a street cop for twenty years I wrote my share of traffic tickets. Simple as they are there were basic points of law on each one that were necessary for the State to prove up a case in court. If only one of those points of law were missed then there could only be one finding, not guilty. It didn’t matter; say in the case of running a red light, how badly the information sounded as evidence; if only one point of the case was improperly documented or missed then the case was lost.

One of the points of law required that the violation was observed by a commissioned law enforcement officer who was commissioned by that particular jurisdiction to enforce those traffic laws; fairly simple, and yet if I observed someone run a red light in the City of Hunter’s Creek which was adjacent to the City of Houston, I could not issue a citation for that particular violation. I could be a witness to the violation; but I could not act in the capacity of a law enforcement officer because I was not empowered by the City of Hunter’s Creek to enforce their laws. The same will hold true to these traffic camera tickets that so many municipalities are installing or have already installed. The sticking point of law involved which these folks are so willing to overlook is the fact that no commissioned law enforcement officer initialized the legal process and instead that process was turned over to a machine.

Maybe as a collective society we have come to the point where, for such a minor issue such as a traffic ticket, we are willing to forego that one point of law in the overall interest of “community safety” and general welfare of the budget; however, by doing so we also must recognize that we are a country dependent on the rule of law and that without the protection of each and every point of law the individual’s loss of his right to a fair trial has now been corrupted in the name of efficiency. The traffic ticket issued, regardless of how accurate and detailed the points of law are recorded by the camera are missing a very important point of law, that being the observation a commissioned law enforcement officer with the trust and authority to act on behalf of the community which has been provided by that community for their benefit. He/she must be able to communicate his observation and his commission's validity as part of the elements necessary to prove up each and every violation or there is no case; no, not one that can be taken into court. That is how important the term Due Process is to our country of laws and protection of its citizens.

“Nor shall private property be taken for public use…” is the next part of the Fifth Amendment that I would like to examine, at least as it comes into the context of Eminent Domain and the abuse of that power.

Local officials, not federal judges, know best in deciding whether a development project will benefit the community”, justices said and then followed with, “The city has carefully formulated an economic development that it believes will provide appreciable benefits to the community, including -- but by no means limited to -- new jobs and increased tax revenue

There is an important step missing in most every case involving local government's attempts to force individuals off of their property in these latest “eminent domain” issues: Due Process of the Law. Call it greed, under the table politics, the good ole’ boy back door pay off. Call it what you will, it still comes off as corruption when looked at with anything other than rose colored glasses. Due process requires legitimate cause for effect, something that is sorely missing in nearly every single case that has been and is before the local courts today. Instead of due process, something which a trusting public requires for them to continue a belief in the judicial system which we all depend on, they are being given the insult of, “just because we said so, now do it, boy!”, from greed driven local municipalities too hungry to be concerned with point of law.

For an example, look at these homes which were deemed to be “blighted”, an eyesore to the community and in desperate need of condemnation so that they could be bull dozed in the hope of restoring valuable property to the community.

Each and every one of these homes has been taken care of and would be considered emaculate under most community standards; but, the shame of these homeowners was that they would not sell out to a business concern which wanted that particular parcel of land to expand their business. Can you imagine, the gall of these individuals standing in the road of progress simply because they felt more important than the community?

“The City of Norwood government and developer Jeffrey R. Anderson are trying to take these private properties away for Anderson’s private use.
Anderson—who has $500 million in real estate holdings and his own private jet—asked the Cincinnati suburb of Norwood to condemn five (for now, but the number will expand) homes and small businesses so he can expand his complex of private offices, condominiums and chain stores. He asked and paid for the “study” Norwood City Council used to declare “blighted” the 99 perfectly fine buildings bounded by Edwards and Edmondson Roads—a charade that enables the City to condemn any and all land in the neighborhood. The Norwood “blight study” itself admitted that not one of the 99 homes or businesses in the area was dilapidated or delinquent on taxes. Not one.”

Now let’s look at Freeport, Texas where Western Seafood and Trico Seafood are in a battle against being condemned, not because they are delinquent on paying taxes or for having a business that is floundering, (pardon the pun but I couldn’t resist), not so. These folks have been in business for about 50 years. They just happen to own a strategic piece of property that another citizen wants to build a fancy marina on. The prospect of having a huge tax base such as a marina full of rich folk’s yachts and the tax base that goes with such an operation was more than the greed incensed local government could handle They immediately condemned the two businesses and started court ordered removal of the previous owners so that the marina could be built. The case is now before the courts and with the recent Supreme Court ruling in Kelo Vs New London, with its specific wording that provides that “Local officials, not federal judges, know best in deciding whether a development project will benefit the community”, there will be little, if anything, that Western Seafood and Trico Seafood can do other than bend over the barrel and take it. If that seems a rather crude description, wait until it’s your turn in the barrel.

The Due Process of Law should not and cannot be centered on greed or the profit centered thinking of ones competetors, even when those competitors can accomplish a greater good for the community. To ignore this concept of justice is to ignore right from wrong. The common good of the community is lost when the basic rights of even one of its citizens is set aside. It is no different from the traffic ticket that can’t be proven in a court of law becaue just one point of required law cannot be proven. There can be no Due Process of Law when the initial process of “blighting” or “condemnation of a property” is rooted in the desire to side step the natural market place of commerce by implementing eminent domain instead of supply and demand. When such is used it becomes a reason for the citizens to throw off such “adjudications” as insults to logic, to reason and to common decency expected of government.

I have referenced a couple of my fellow bloggers who’s articles have been included in the formulation of this thought process. A special thank you and Tip of the Hat goes out to my friends Mover Mike and Brad the Unrepentant Individual for their articles posted.

Majoring in Minor Things

I live in a very nice neighborhood. I often have to pinch myself when I think of how many blessing I enjoy; beautiful trees and shrubs, manicured lawns and well complimented homes all around my own lovely home. There’s a golf course and country club within a few blocks with a tree lined divided road where I can exit the neighborhood and extend my visual enjoyment and still end up on a major thoroughfare.

I happened to notice a sign posted as I drove in that way to alert everyone to a “town meeting” this Wednesday. A quick glance let me understand that I was supposed to be upset over the amount of noise generated by passing airplanes as they followed the invisible corridors that lead to the airport, some 10 miles to the East of here.

I have to wonder about the irritability level that some of my neighbors must have. In the first place, that airport didn’t appear over night. It’s been there for a very long time, maybe even before these homes were constructed. To be sure, they have added and expanded to the airport to match or attempt to match the growth Houston has generated; however, I can’t see how complaining about airplanes headed to the airport, something that airplanes generally do upon arrival, will accomplish anything other than to alert everyone to the fact that we have become spoiled and self centered beyond reason. I happen to enjoy watching these marvelous contraptions as they gracefully and methodically make their way past our area.

It's not as if my house were being rattled and shaken to its foundations even though they do make some interesting power down noises during the approach process; again, it’s not like they don’t make that same noise over other neighborhoods along the same basic flight path. I knew when I purchased my home that I was fairly close to the airport; I considered my relative position to such a fine airport a positive asset since I often have to use that facility and this way my trip is shortened.

I have to wonder about some of my neighbor’s priorities; some of them sure must be upset about the airplanes flying overhead or why call a special meeting about fixing that problem? Why hasn’t there been a door to door campaign calling all of us to arms regarding the Supreme Court Justice's ruling that virtually eliminated property rights of individuals? Some folks have the remarkable ability to major in minor things.

On Which Road Will We Go

Thomas S. Monson, one of the leaders of my church, once related a story about how he was driving in his car and observed a young man with his thumb up attempting to hitch a ride. Upon pulling over he asked the young man where he was headed.


“Here was one who was content to travel in any direction, according to the whim of the driver who stopped to give him a free ride. What an enormous price to pay for such a ride. No plan. No objective. No goal. The road to anywhere is the road to nowhere, and the road to nowhere leads to dreams sacrificed, opportunities squandered, and a life unfulfilled.”

This past week the Supreme Court Justices have changed the path of our country from one where the rights of individuals to own property have been effectively transferred to government. Whether or not that was ever intended by our Founding Fathers when the Fifth Amendment to the Bill of Rights was written to include the Eminent Domain clause is a matter for historians; personally I do not think that Eminent Domain was ever intended to have such broad powers as to strip away individual rights to own property, and surely not to transfer ownership from one individual to yet another individual or group of individuals based on something as arbitrary as the latest definition of greater good of the community. I suppose we might be likened to the fellow with his thumb out, tagging along with the established rules and laws, the interpretations of those laws determining our destiny; however, this past week’s decision would more closely resemble a hijacking.

We have a choice to either permit the hijacking of individual property rights to go on without putting up a fight or we can hold them accountable for the crimes for which they are guilty of committing. I know where we have been, what is expected of us and what road we should be going down. It would be a terrible waste of our heritage to permit these black robed criminals to take us down a dark ally and steal our country out from under us in this way. I have no intention of going along for the ride on this one.

Friday, June 24, 2005

Letter to President Bush

June 24, 2005

Honorable George W. Bush
President of the United States of America

President Bush,

I write this letter as a concerned citizen in the hope that you will address the issue of restoring justice to the Judiciary in a more fervent manner; specifically as to the appointment of “originalist” mined judges to take the place of those now serving on the Supreme Court or who have left other Appellate positions throughout the land. It is my hope that our Congress and Senate will have the courage and stamina to impeach and remove those Supreme Court judges who have abandoned their sworn oaths to uphold the Constitution of the United States of America. The safeguards that are essential to protect the rights of citizens to Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness, the Constitution and the Bill of Rights have been thrown in the trash by the “progressive socialist movement” commonly referred to as the liberal left.

If we are to survive as a land of Liberty we need not be so concerned about terrorist from without as long as we have such henchmen working from within. It is time for you to step up to the line, regardless of the political risk; which is minimal since you are not in a position to run for the office of President again. Take advantage of the opportunity you have and bully the microphones, the television cameras and every medium at your disposal to enlist the thoughts of every thinking and caring American for whom you serve. I cannot think of strong enough language to express the need for this to be accomplished in a timely manner and so I will close with my hope and my prayer that you are up to such a challenge.


T. Fraser Stern

Now, anyone who wants to "preserve us a nation", go and do likewise.

Throwing Down the Gauntlet

I want some legal giant ( or giant wanna be ) to start drafting the Amendment to the Constitution that will properly safeguard Individual Property by clearly stating the definition of property, specifically land and the use of that land, limiting the scope of government burdens on the ownership and use of that property, define and limit the scope of eminent domain and the ability of government to seize property to include all of the ideas that have been expressed, ranted out of frustration and maybe include some logic and reason. Make it look like Thomas Jefferson, George Washington, John Adams, Ben Franklin and Condi Rice all got together and wrote it. Then present it via the internet and then have it published so that each and every citizen has a chance to vote on it as it is presented in its final state.

So, who is it out there that is up to such a challenge. Will it be Prof. Bainbridge or one of the lawyer bloggers, will it be the Captain who has quite a bit of influence, maybe one of the Little Green Footballers or per chance someone like Ross Kaminsky who writes one heck of a letter to the editor now and then? It sure won't be one of our elected spineless all mouth and no action Senators or Congressmen. Time to make your genius known to all, who ever you are.

Originally posted as a comment to Brad the Unrepentant Individual’s article which he called “
Quick thoughts from others on Kelo

Mover Mike has a petition that we all need to sign so go visit his site, do it now!

June 27th update: I found an interesting "taker" to the challenge. Stephen at Hold the Mayo is in the process of writing "Open Source Amendment Project". Go take a look and leave some comments to the exceptional work he has on display.

Let the Orgy Begin

I read the Houston Chronicle headlines off their web site this morning to check on the progress of the orgy of greed regarding the Supreme Court ruling in favor of expanded eminent domain powers for local governmental agencies. What had been a stretch for even the most ambitious carpet baggers has opened the field wide open for any and all now that the barrier of individual ownership has been removed entirely.

There are some statements of reassurance from elected officials claiming that, “…even though the courts have now said unequivocally that we can take your land to improve our tax base, let some schmuck with a bigger bank roll pay us off under the table just to put a Super-Buy Computer Store where your lousy Stamp Pads and Signs in a Minute takes up space; we are honorable men and would never do such a thing to our loyal servants, I mean subjects, I mean citizens.”

“Hours after the court's 5-4 ruling came down, Rep. Frank Corte Jr., R-San Antonio, said he would seek "to defend the rights of property owners in Texas" by proposing a state constitutional amendment limiting local powers of eminent domain, or condemnation.

The city of Houston has not, and likely never will, use eminent domain powers as aggressively as some cities simply for the purposes of economic development," White said in a statement. "We do respect property rights, and believe that eminent domain should not be used in a way that might simply benefit one economic interest versus another.

But officials in the beachfront town of Freeport, south of Houston, said they would move aggressively to condemn property owned by two seafood companies to clear the way for an $8 million private marina.”
…and you thought I was just making this crap up as I went along ranting…

Thursday, June 23, 2005

Impeach and Remove Justice Monkeys

I've had a chance to review several blogs along with the comment sections and have run across some good ideas, cooler minds prevail and all that. The single most important act that I can accomplish without resorting to violence is to write a letter to my US Senators, send them off and let all my neighbors in on it so that they will do the same. I will furnish them with a copy of my letter that I just sent off to prod them along. I suggest you do the same. I sent this same letter to Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison.

June 23, 2005

Honorable John Cornyn
Senator from the Great State of Texas

Senator Cornyn,

This letter is a formal request that you act, in your office as Senator representing the citizens of Texas, to impeach and start proceedings to remove from the Supreme Court of the United States of America all five Justices who voted in favor of removing individual ownership rights in the decision Kelo Vs New London. If you do no act on this in a timely manner I fear that the loss may become permanent and irreversible.

In case you have any doubt as to their names:
Justice John Paul Stevens wrote for the majority. He was joined by Justice Anthony Kennedy, David H. Souter, Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Stephen G. Breyer.

These progressive thinking justices have moved our country a major step toward total socialism where the state controls each and every aspect of our existence. This last decision to abolish the illusion of individual ownership of property; forgive my choice of words as I fully comprehend that the imposition of property taxes precludes any actual permanent ownership and so it becomes a transparent illusion, this adulteration of the eminent domain clause of the Fifth Amendment of the Constitution removes all doubt as to the fact that individual rights have been tossed in the trash can. In its place a new standard of back room political payoffs will take advantage of such a major break through in corruption and greed.

In case you missed the directive, your responsibility is to the citizens and the only acceptable action on your part will be to vocally and actively seek to have these five members of the Supreme Court impeached and removed from their elevated positions.

Thank you for your service

T. F. Stern

The Next Level – a True Rant

I’m still burning on how to explain what has happened today with the Supreme Court’s ruling that in essence rewrites the meaning of individual private property to mean that no such thing exists, that all property belongs to the state and can be arbitrarily confiscated depending on the whims of the “local” elected officials. Isn’t that what their explanation was as they ruled against the individual property owners in Kelo Vs New London?

Let me run some “what ifs” by and see if the recent decision might have a bearing on future life in these “here” United States. ( Try to imagine James Cagney in the movie Mr. Roberts; “Now you see “heeyah” Mistah!” I wonder why I thought of a tyrannical SOB the likes of him while thinking about the Supreme Court; my mind must be working overtime.) These are going to come off the top of my head, much like the hair that my kids now make fun of when they point to my emerging halo.

The most easy to come up with would have to have some land involved, so let’s skip to some other form of property, something that may be off on the horizon of possibilities.
The owner of a one year old pick up truck uses it to drive to and from the park and ride each morning. The total miles driven each way is 4 miles. The vehicle remains parked the entire day until the owner is dropped off by the local transit bus and he returns home.
The city is approached by an out of work tradesman, maybe a carpenter or a painter, who could make a good living if he only had the use of a truck. The determining factor would be that such a trade has a Fee Based Permit which the City makes money off of along with additional sales taxes and user fees. He can’t afford a nice year old truck at the local dealership and so he approaches his local city councilman and explains his need along with the fact that there is a truck just sitting around all day at the park and ride lot. How hard would it be to figure out a tax scheme that would be directed toward those who waste perfectly good vehicles, then take up space on an already crowded transit system, and make the tax burden so steep that it would be easier to sell the truck to the city at bargain basement prices in order to get out from under the imposed tax. The city could then sell the truck to waiting tradesman at a modest profit, collect a tax for having another vehicle on the already crowded roads and ….

The owner of a small hospital has no more rooms, no more beds and is making a good living by making sick people well. He isn’t making enough to retire in a style befitting his desires and so when another patient comes in for treatment a quick assessment of profit per patient analysis is made. It becomes clear that a patient who has had surgery already cannot make near as much for the hospital as one who is still waiting to have surgery and so the first patient must be released to “mend at home” a little earlier than reason would normally suggest. Oh, I forgot; this one is already being used by most of the HMO groups.

Maybe instead of a hospital the set up takes place in a hospice. There is a person who is going to die anyway, why not simply speed up the process and make room for another paying customer. Darn, that one already happened in Florida.

I keep working on a way to show that individual rights are still important to Americans, more especially, to the Supreme Court Judges who seem to have forgotten that it was individual Americans who stood up to King George when he ignored their voices. They signed the Declaration of Independence individually and became a group; but King George went after them one at a time in retaliation. I can feel my jaw tightening up and my blood pressure is on the rise too. I should let this rest for a while, watch a PBS show about the environment to calm down. I forgot, most of those are leftist propaganda shows and it will only make me more angry since I have to pay for these jerks telling me not to drive my truck because it might melt some glacier in Alaska, where they closed down a productive fishery because it was harming the local dwarf crab-snails or something; all paid for with my tax money.

I just sold a piece of property; one of the new forms to fill out had to do with all the environmental laws and rules pertaining to land use and endangered species. I had to admit, via the “I don’t know” line, whether or not my particular piece of property had any limitations of use placed on it. We had planned to put a vacation house on that land until some fool came along and offered me quite a bit more than market value for it. I let him have it and he can figure out when he wants to build on it; if they turn him down on his plans to build a cellar where some old Indian burial site, a horned toad lizard may have set up a nest or the last three southern blue wolf ticks have their last know natural environ, then it will be his problem. Funny how folks can meddle with something that’s not even their own land; keep the rightful owner from using it as seems fit or even proper.

I was listening to Roger Heathcock filling in for Rush today behind the golden EIB microphone. He told a familiar story about a “tree-hugger” who’d bought a sizeable piece of property and was in the process of climbing the tallest tree so that she could survey all of her land. As she got to the highest reaches of the tree she must have startled a nesting owl. Her rapid decent was not planned and she ended up going straight away to the hospital for treatment of her injuries. She related the event to the emergency room doctor and was told to wait in the treatment room so that splinters could be removed from her, putting it tastefully, her “private regions”.

Three hours went by and she was becoming aggravated for having been made to wait. The doctor finally made it back where upon she began to berate and belittle his professionalism. “I’ve been waiting 3 hours; what have you been doing?”

“I had to contact the US Forestry Service, the Fish and Wildlife Service, Bureau of Land Management, PETA and the Sierra Club. I then had to fill out all those forms that are associated with those organizations and they still turned me down on my request to remove old timber from a recreational area.”

And you thought I was going to leave on a sour note, fists clenched and ready to take on that bear with the tooth ache…yes, I’m still burning inside.

I read a blog by Quincy at The News, The Universe and Everything which he titled,
"An Absolute Abomination" worth the read.

Supreme Court Did Away with Private Property Rights

In a 5/4 ruling regarding the use of Eminent Domain in New London, Connecticut, the Supreme Court has virtually eliminated the individual’s right to property ownership in favor of the “collective” power of governmental entities. This alone should be grounds to remove those Supreme Court Justices, arrogant men who have rewritten our heritage to property ownership and abandoned the trust of the individuals for whom they were put in place to serve.

Local officials, not federal judges, know best in deciding whether a development project will benefit the community, justices said.” Excuse me for bringing this up, neither local official’s; elected or appointed, nor any judge’s names are on my deed of record under the line “owner” and therefore have no right to say how I use my property; provided that use is within the established existing deed restrictions. The key word is “existing”, as in at the time of acquisition, rather than restrictions established after the fact in order for such governmental entities to zone “undesirables” out from under their otherwise lawful property. There is no such thing as “collective rights”, only “powers” granted to government used to either protect individual rights or destroy those rights. I believe the latter is now in force.

The impunity with which these men have handled the rights of individuals is nearly beyond my ability to explain it to them. In one fell swoop 5 men have taken it upon themselves to do away with nearly every individual right fought for since the Magna Charta. Will it take violent force to restore these individual rights? I am not advocating the threat of personal attacks upon our judiciary; merely pointing out the fact that when the citizenry becomes disenfranchised from the government which has been put in place to protect such rights, then certain volatile elements of that same society will emerge as avenging angels intent on immediate resolution rather than pursuing a more tolerant or time honored method through the justice system. That justice system is no longer acting in the best interests of the individuals for whom they serve, and so, as an institution is at risk. It is not enough to trust those whom we elect to properly conduct the affairs of the community, not when such broad powers have been turned over to them.

"The city has carefully formulated an economic development that it believes will provide appreciable benefits to the community, including -- but by no means limited to -- new jobs and increased tax revenue," Justice John Paul Stevens wrote for the majority. He was joined by Justice Anthony Kennedy, David H. Souter, Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Stephen G. Breyer.

Justice Sandra Day O'Connor, speaking on behalf of the dissenting votes, "Any property may now be taken for the benefit of another private party, but the fallout from this decision will not be random," O'Connor wrote. "The beneficiaries are likely to be those citizens with disproportionate influence and power in the political process, including large corporations and development firms." She was joined in her opinion by Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist, as well as Justices Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas.

Instead of trying to come up with a Constitutional Amendment to protect the flag, something which should be addressed via the legislative process, We The People need to have an Amendment to the Constitution that clearly defines the right to private property of the individual, one that will replace the now “flexible or progressive” Fifth Amendment, which allows governments to take private property through eminent domain if the land is for "public use." The courts have systematically re-defined the meaning of “public use” in order to remove any semblance to its original intended meaning. In so doing they have dissolved the rights of the individual, the key element to the foundation of our country.

I have yet to read my regular list of blogs as this would come under the heading of "breaking news"; but I expect that this will be a hot item of topic for quite a few of them. Please feel free to chime in on this very important issue.

I have had a chance to read some of my friends blogs, here's a start on your reading list:
( My blood pressure is going up each time I attempt to insert a hidden URL and it screws up. I would include a permalink URL to each article but some of them are too long and push my side bar out of whack. So, in the interest of health and mental stability, my own, I will simply tell you to go visit them and find the articles they wrote. &^%$^&&&*(&*^%% and that goes for the horse too...)

Brad's Unrepentant Individual was still so bothered that he needed to rant...

Mover Mike has written about the dangers of Eminent Domain severl times...

Ross had an interesting thought as he expressed that this was the worst of the most recent supreme court decisions"...

Flag Burning Amendment is Wrong!

I have been letting this issue bounce around in my head now for quite a long time; being undecided as to my expression of thought regarding how to deal with the issue. I have read many articles in the news of late; the most recent being one by Laurie Kellerman of the Associated Press and the other by Ross Kaminsky of

The “straws that broke the camel’s back” as far as being able to discern my own thoughts came to me as I read the two articles; . “Supporters said there was more public support than ever because of emotions following the 2001 terrorist attacks in New York and Washington. They said detractors are out of touch with public sentiment.”

I was reading Rossputin’s article ( linked via title bar) on the same issue as he came to the conclusion, “If our country isn't strong enough to handle some idiots burning a flag, what is the point of our Constitutional republic anyway? The only protection our flag needs is protection from legislation.”

I agree with Ross in that there should be no Constitutional amendment regarding flag burning; for the purpose of the Constitution has no place for specific events such as being out of touch with current public sentiment and the emotions tied to singular events such as the terrorist attacks on the United States of America. I will; however, state that there should be stiff legislation presented and passed against such an act; to include a mandate of immediate forfeiture to the rights of citizenship of this country and for expulsion from our borders. Falling short of calling the act of flag burning “an act of treason” and worthy of prison or death; I would have to say that such an act is not compatible with citizenship in this country and works against the necessary felicity required to maintain our mutual respect for one another. Such and act does not fall under the protection of the First Amendment and would more closely be compared to yelling “Fire!” in a crowded theater.

Since we have virtually no border enforcement these flag burners can come back via any of the innumerable routes already in existence and so the penalty is without real consequence at this time. If the United States of America is such a rotten place to live; why burn the flag which represents our nation and have a desire to remain here, much less get thrown out and wish to return illegally? The answer would have to be that these folks want to destroy our nation, not repair it. Throw the bums out!

Prisoners being starved to death

Durbin must not keep up with CNN’s reporting of a request by the WFP on behalf of the North Korean people. I thought that Durbin would have jumped all over the fact that 6.5 million prisoners were being starved to death because the United States is only willing to donate a fourth of the needed food that the World Food Program has requested. Never mind the fact that the prisoners are the countrymen of North Korea; never let the facts interfere with a political lambasting of your opposition.

In an article covered by CNN, "Food is a scarce commodity," U.S. Deputy State Department spokesman Adam Ereli said. "When it's a scarce commodity it has a value. And there are those who seek to exploit that value for purposes for which the aid is not intended. And that's why monitoring is so important."

"Meanwhile, 6.5 million innocent North Koreans desperately need food aid. They have nothing to (do) with the polices of their government," he said. "They are in desperate need and the international community should get together and meet those needs."

The United States is responsibe for feeding the people of North Korea with donated grain and other basic food supplies; however, the corrupt dispersal system is exploiting their own with a black market system. Until there is managed oversight to the dispersal of donated food the Bush Administration is reluctant to empower North Korean government officials; a cold hearted slap in the face to any liberal minded humanitarian.

Here is another example of the United States mistreating prisoners, keeping them in a harsh environment while slowly watching them starve to death. The Bush Administration is to blame; holding up the shipment of food simply because the leaders of the North Korean people, a people who “have nothing to (do) with the polices of their government”, have refused to meet at the summit table to discuss their nuclear armament intentions directed toward the United States. Bush has lied about the WMD in other places around the world and is inflicting starvation and death to an entire country because of an unsound policy to defend Americans from yet unproven nuclear weapons. Have we seen any missiles landing in Kansas? Why is Durbin so worried about Gitmo and not saying anything about North Korea being starved into submission? (tic)

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Dyslexia of thought

I didn’t find out that I was dyslexic until I was in my second year of accounting in college; no wonder I was having a tough time of it. I’m sure that studying might have helped; although it never seemed to do much for my roommate, as we both got about the same grades. I spent my time at the student union building shooting pool while Alan was hunched over his books under those rotten fluorescent lights in the dorm. After each test we would compare results and it ticked him off that my grade was better. I found out that my dyslexia had some rather interesting side effects; something my accounting professor pointed out. At the bottom of a row of numbers to calculate; my answers would constantly have to be recalculated to balance out, the error being divisible by 9 each time. That was the clue; I was inserting the numbers backwards, 45 for 54.

I quickly decided that accounting was not a good profession for me; however, locksmiths work with lots of numbers too so I just have different issues to deal with. I was going to cut a key from code the other day; the information was numerically lined up with each cut designated as per its depth and spacing along the key blade, 245353. I cut the same wrong key, 243535, exactly the same wrong cuts in the same wrong places 3 times before I was able to talk myself through it at a much slower pace. Life can be frustrating at times.

Another interesting part about dyslexia is that I do the same with letters while typing. When I typed in 45 for 54 a moment ago it came out “fro”, something that was easily corrected on the fly. There are lots of “wrods” (words) I cannot spell without relying on spell checker; but the simple everyday ones are almost as big a challenge. I am now finding out that I also do the same thing with entire words every now and again.

I wrote a comment to a blog the other day and compared the author's logic to that of the one used in the “Give me Liberty or give me death” speech. I had the text in front of me as I wrote my comment; all the same when it came time to assign its author, even with the name Patrick Henry in front of me I typed in Thomas Paine and I was unable to pick up on it. I had also been reading in “Common Sense” and the name hit the electronic page and was off and gone. It wasn’t until the next day when a return comment pointed out the error. If it happened only once I could call myself ignorant of facts; but this happens all the time. Gosh, I wonder if this is CRS or just pre-Alzheimer syndrome.

I already wear some fairly expensive hearing aids, no line trifocal glasses and my joints hurt most of the time. My kids make fun of the halo appearing where robust hair at one time covered the back of my head. If I start having to get up three times a night for trips to the bathroom; well, that all “Depends”. The up side is I Yoda without trying talk I can.

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Wisdom from the grave…

The opening of Washington's Farewell Address (linked via title bar for complete version)

My daughter gave me a book containing many of the, “Great American Speeches”, which I use as a reference book. I can read the transcript of Patrick Henry’s, “Give Me Liberty” speech in its entirety or George Washington’s Inaugural address. Today I was reading Washington’s Farewell Address to the nation. It struck me as particularly important that his thoughts be taken up in discussion as we approach yet another July 4th celebration of our independence. I have included a link to a website that contains this speech.

After having made it clear that he would retire from public office he began with his concerns, much as a loving father would express to his children who are leaving his immediate care.

Here, perhaps I ought to stop. But a solicitude for your welfare which cannot end but with my life, and the apprehension of danger, natural to that solicitude, urge me, on an occasion like the present, to offer to your solemn contemplation, and to recommend to your frequent review, some sentiments which are the result of much reflection, of no inconsiderable observation, and which appear to me all-important to the permanency of your felicity as a people. These will be offered to you with the more freedom, as you can only see in them the disinterested warnings of a parting friend, who can possibly have no personal motive to bias his counsel. Nor can I forget, as an encouragement to it, your indulgent reception of my sentiments on a former and not dissimilar occasion.”

Washington then presents the foundation of his solicitude:

The unity of Government, which constitutes you one people, is also now dear to you. It is justly so; for it is a main pillar in the edifice of your real independence, the support of your tranquility at home, your peace abroad; of your safety; of your prosperity; of that very Liberty, which you so highly prize. But as it is easy to foresee, that, from different causes and from different quarters, much pains will be taken, many artifices employed, to weaken in your minds the conviction of this truth; as this is the point in your political fortress against which the batteries of internal and external enemies will be most constantly and actively (though often covertly and insidiously) directed, it is of infinite moment, that you should properly estimate the immense value of your national Union to your collective and individual happiness; that you should cherish a cordial, habitual, and immovable attachment to it; accustoming yourselves to think and speak of it as of the Palladium of your political safety and prosperity; watching for its preservation with jealous anxiety; discountenancing whatever may suggest even a suspicion, that it can in any event be abandoned; and indignantly frowning upon the first dawning of every attempt to alienate any portion of our country from the rest, or to enfeeble the sacred ties which now link together the various parts.”

This portion only will I draw from in order to make my point for the day. It was clear to Washington that “The unity of Government, which constitutes you one people, is also now dear to you. It is justly so; for it is a main pillar in the edifice of your real independence…” That being his foregone conclusion as to how the foundation of our nation must be set he went on to explain the means whereby such a foundation could be eroded and destroyed by, “every attempt to alienate any portion of our country from the rest, or to enfeeble the sacred ties which now link together the various parts.”

Let’s fast forward to the present day political scene. What kind of American intentionally attempts to undermine the collective efforts of his country, much less in a time of war? Who is it that would turn class envy into such a division of countrymen as to entice its citizens to walk down a road where one man’s lawfully obtained property could ever be esteemed as “ripe for picking” and redistributed to one who has not earned it? What manner of men divide the public by the color of their skin as a means to cause contention and divert the energies necessary to building a country and instead provide a barrier of hatred to fester and reduce any chance of conciliatory growth? Lastly, are these not the same concerns that Washington had on his mind when he provided us with his wisdom, that wisdom coming to us via the grave?

I would invite you to read the entire transcript of text as we approach our Independence Day, our decision, while made many years ago, we continue to stand firmly together in an excellent cause to truly be free. Let us listen with our ears open, our hearts and minds contemplating the intent of those who would divide us and to bring our nation into derision.
Posted by Hello

Have I Done Any Good?

I was doing a personal inventory of myself after reading a few blog articles this morning. The idea struck me as I commented to some of these ponderous philosophical discussions, more of a question as to my worth, have I done any good by entering into this discussion, will my comment make even one person consider or reconsider the path upon which to proceed? It dawned on me that the words of a hymn were entering into my thoughts, one that I have heard many times. Curiously, as a side, this morning I’ve been listening to Wagner’s music where he attempts to capture the essence of good’s triumph over evil and the constant battle within each of us.

Hymns 223, Have I Done Any Good?

1. Have I done any good in the world today?
Have I helped anyone in need?
Have I cheered up the sad and made someone feel glad?
If not, I have failed indeed.
Has anyone’s burden been lighter today
Because I was willing to share?
Have the sick and the weary been helped on their way?
When they needed my help was I there?

Then wake up and do something more
Than dream of your mansion above.
Doing good is a pleasure, a joy beyond measure,
A blessing of duty and love.

2. There are chances for work all around just now,
Opportunities right in our way.
Do not let them pass by, saying, “Sometime I’ll try,”
But go and do something today.
’Tis noble of man to work and to give;
Love’s labor has merit alone.
Only he who does something helps others to live.
To God each good work will be known.

Text and music: Will L. Thompson, 1847–1909, alt.

In our hymn book there are references to scripture which relate to the hymn. Here are the two listed for “Have I done any good?”

James 1:22, 27 reads, “But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves”

Alma 9:28 reads, “Therefore, prepare ye the way of the Lord, for the time is at hand that all men shall reap a reward of their works, according to that which they have been—if they have been righteous they shall reap the salvation of their souls, according to the power and deliverance of Jesus Christ; and if they have been evil they shall reap the damnation of their souls, according to the power and captivation of the devil.”

So, I ask again, have I done any good? Are my comments, my attempts to persuade, are these to be considered good works or are they feeble rationalizations for my lack of action? I would have to say that carefully chosen words require quite a bit of work and so my thoughts, those that are shared as opposed to those which I keep to myself, are indeed works and are therefore worthy of the time and effort required for them to be properly articulated.

Monday, June 20, 2005

The Year 1905

I posted an article “Poverty Threshold” a while ago and while going through my email I found something that should cause us to wonder, “How did we ever get by?” (There were no credits given for either the artwork or the information.) Thanks go out to Roni White for sending this out to all her friends via email.

Maybe this will boggle your mind, it sure did mine! The year is 1905, one hundred years ago. What a difference a century makes! Here are some of the U.S. statistics for 1905:

The average life expectancy in the US. was 47 years.

Only 14 percent of the homes in the U.S. had a bathtub.

Only 8 percent of the homes had a telephone.

A three-minute call from Denver to New York City cost eleven dollars.

There were only 8,000 cars in the U.S., and only 144 miles of paved roads.

The maximum speed limit in most cities was 10 mph.

Alabama, Mississippi, Iowa, and Tennessee were each more heavily populated than California. With a mere 1.4 million residents, California was only the 21st most populous state in the Union.

The tallest structure in the world was the Eiffel Tower!

The average wage in the U.S. was 22 cents an hour.

The average U.S. worker made between $200 and $400 per year.
A competent accountant could expect to earn $2000 per year,
A dentist $2,500 per year,
A veterinarian between $1,500 and $4,000 per year, and
A mechanical engineer about $5,000 per year.

More than 95 percent of all births in the U.S. took place at home.

Ninety percent of all U.S. physicians had no college education. Instead, they attended medical schools, many of which were condemned in the press and by the government as "substandard."

Sugar cost four cents a pound.
Eggs were fourteen cents a dozen.
Coffee was fifteen cents a pound.

Most women only washed their hair once a month, and used borax or egg yolks for shampoo.

Canada passed a law prohibiting poor people from entering the country for any reason.

The five leading causes of death in the U.S. were:
1. Pneumonia and influenza
2. Tuberculosis
3. Diarrhea
4. Heart disease
5. Stroke

The American flag had 45 stars. Arizona, Oklahoma, New Mexico, Hawaii, and Alaska hadn't been admitted to the Union yet.

The population of Las Vegas, Nevada, was 30!!!

Crossword puzzles, canned beer, and iced tea hadn't been invented.

There was no Mother's Day or Father's Day.

Two of 10 U.S. adults couldn't read or write. Only 6 percent of all Americans had graduated high school.

Marijuana, heroin, and morphine were all available over the counter at corner drugstores. According to one pharmacist, "Heroin clears the complexion, gives buoyancy to the mind, regulates the stomach and bowels, and is, in fact, a perfect guardian of health."

Eighteen percent of households in the U.S had at least one full-time servant or domestic.

There were only about 230 reported murders in the entire U.S.

These are statistics on the richest nation on the face of the earth. Posted by Hello

Poverty Threshold

I was reading Robert Bells article “How Poor is Poor” this morning. Borrowing from his thoughts:

“Since the inception of “the poverty threshold”, the definition of poor (an arbitrary government measurement) continues to be adjusted upwards. By any reasonable comparison to developing nations, the presumed poor in America have little to complain about. Moreover, the US economy has one of the lowest unemployment rates in the industrialized world. In light of the facts and just a little common sense, one might conclude that “poverty” is more of a political distinction than a literal state of impoverishment.” (emphasis added)

I was immediately reminded of a story related to our congregation at church. It was a while back and many of the details escape me; however, the information is worth sharing.

There was a family coming from Eastern Europe to a particular town in America after having lost everything during WWII. They had nothing except the clothes on their backs and it was Christmas time. The local Bishop had only a short notification that the family would arrive, a day or two tops, as he arranged for them to stay in a vacant room; either a cellar or above a garage, I cannot recall. In either case the room was barren except for a single light bulb hanging by its electrical cord from the ceiling, a make shift bathroom in one corner and nothing else.

The local Bishop called his Elder’s Quorum leaders and the Relief Society leaders over to see what could be done to make the place more livable. He left it in their care hoping that a little cleaning, maybe a shower curtain could be obtained to lend some privacy; after all, on such short notice and so close to Christmas it would be difficult to get much done. With the war being over, times were not easy for anyone and asking for help from those without much to begin with would be doubly difficult.

These folks went about building a walled partition for the bathroom area, painting the walls, putting in a light fixture, putting curtains on the lone window, carpeting the room, providing furniture to include a bed, a sofa, a small dining room table and chairs, a small refrigerator stocked with food and many small articles that we all take for granted.

The Bishop went to the bus depot and drove the family to their new home, unaware of the efforts that had been completed in his absence. Upon opening the door and entering, the room appeared as a gift from heaven. Instead of a cold and foreboding storage area, it was now a home ready for a small family. Instead of poverty these folks had managed to secure wealth beyond monetary comprehension. The quality of life that was provided did not cost a fortune; a sofa from Joe, a set of curtains sewn by Betty, a bathroom wall built out of a few scrap pieces of lumber and painted walls did not cost that much. There was no way to express the joy felt by all that night other than to say that nobody expected such a fine home to be made available.

When I hear about the poor, those who have little or nothing I have to ask myself what it is folks expect; for it is in the expectation where poor and rich is decided, not the cost. When Lucy and I got started as a newly married couple we lived in a one bedroom apartment, had a car to drive and had no idea we were poor; at least not by the quality of life we had. Our rent was $ 175 a month, car payment was $ 62 a month and we lived within our means; meager at best. We both were working for bare minimum hourly wage, roughly $ 2 an hour. There wasn’t a lot of money to paint the town red at the end of each week. We had no television to watch; much less the time to watch it as we both worked as many hours as we could. It never dawned on us that we were poor because we had sufficient for our needs. We had no credit card debt because we had no credit cards. If we couldn’t pay cash we did without. When I joined the police department it was a huge jump in pay for me; that should tell you how little I was making.

I have to wonder about arbitrary conditions assigned to classifications such as poor or wealthy. Robert mentioned the idea of a new Theory on Relativity, and that would be an interesting venture. Everything is relative to expectation and so poor is a state of mind, not a state of existence. If it were not for politicians constantly telling us how bad things are, how much better off we should be, how much they can do for us ( with other people’s money ); maybe life would be so much the better. I have to pinch myself once in a while as I look around and appreciate the many wonderful blessings I have at my finger tips. Being grateful for what I do have rather than complaining about what I don’t have is the difference between being poor or wealthy. Learning to appreciate the fact that if I want more I can learn how to improve my situation and thereby obtain more is the legacy of America, not the class envy prescribed by so many of our politicians.

Sunday, June 19, 2005

Father’s Day

I read Lucy’s article that she posted last night about her dad. It made an impression of me of how much a father’s example goes toward making a family unit work. I listened to the talks at church this morning; again the role of the father and how awesome that responsibility weighs on the shoulders. I wanted to add my own feelings, to draw out my own thoughts as Father’s Day is not reserved for those who have children; but for all who have been born, regardless of the relationship developed with your father.

My own father is a good example of the complexity involved in defining that role model. He used to be tall as a tree until I grew up and found that he was about average compared with other dads. He was strong as an ox, able to break the handle off of a pair of pliers while trying to use them instead of box wrench. I watched him play softball and was convinced that he was the best player ever to wear a first basemen’s glove. He knew almost nothing about repairing cars and it didn’t cause me to doubt his being my dad or if he loved me. I have a picture of dad standing next to our broken down car up in New England while on vacation one year. It had overheated and steam was pouring out of the engine compartment with the hood up. Dad had on a red pull over shirt and the veins in his neck were all swollen, the color of his face matched the shirt as he attempted to look like he had everything under control.

He was efficient in the kitchen as long as you didn’t mind eating strange combinations of sandwiches. He would line up the bread, slap peanut butter on one, jelly on another, bologna on one, cheese on another and repeat until he had enough to feed all three of us. The next step was a challenge; maybe he wasn’t meant to be up that early in the morning fixing sandwiches as he randomly selected which combination was to complete the sandwich, cheese/peanut butter, jelly/ bologna and so on. Lunchtime at school could be a meal worth missing.

The point is that it never mattered whether or not he could fix the sink, the car or make a better sandwich than the other fathers, he kept doing whatever he could to make things work. I knew that he was always doing things for me and my family and that was enough; the rest makes for some interesting “growing up stories”.

When Father’s Day came up as a lesson to teach my kids at church I knew there were some whose fathers were “unavailable” for one reason or another. I made sure to address the issue carefully and to feel out the emotions of these children. The lesson to be learned was mine as I found that each of these children had a deep an endless love and appreciation for their fathers, regardless of how I would have silently condemned them for making life difficult on these kids. Some were in single parent situations because of divorce, one had a father who had died and another’s father was in prison. Each of them had a special place reserved in their hearts for the “image” of a father they may not really have had. It did not matter what kind of fathers the other kids had, their father loved them.

As I go about the duties of being a father I hope that my own children will have a special place reserved in their hearts for me, ignoring my shortcomings and holding the “image” of their father instead.

Here are some articles I posted in the past that seem to be related to Father’s Day:

Friday, June 17, 2005

Wish I’d had a Taser

I was reading Cerberus this morning. He had an article about some woman who got the working end of a taser applied and caught on video. For a chance to read how a police officer expresses thoughts this would be a good place to visit.

I stopped a woman downtown for a minor traffic violation; it was so long ago I couldn’t tell you what the violation was now. She was driving a little 260Z Nissan with “T-tops” removed. When I approached the driver she started off telling me all about the racial reasons for my harassing her and that she had no intention of cooperating with some Honky intent on continuing the oppression of the Black people. I hadn’t gotten to the part of saying anything to her and had to rethink the possibility that I was on Candid Camera and this was a set up.

I did ask her for her driver’s license and instead of anything resembling normal she stood up inside the driver side compartment and then climbed on top of her car, sitting with her arms folded as she reclined on the T-top bar. I looked around to see if the sky had turned to red, burning hail falling or some other indication that would justify mass hysteria; no, it was limited to this one individual. I did happen to notice that one of my supervisors was across the street working his regular extra job duty at a bank drive through. He had his hands on his hips and was shaking his head in disbelief. I was more than a little grateful that I had a competent witness, one who could back up my observations when this all came down later in the complaint.

“Ma’am, I need you to hand me your driver’s license and get back into your seat. That’s my supervisor…”, pointing to the Sergeant now standing a few step closer as he expected the fight to start at any moment, “… he’s wondering why I haven’t put the cuffs on you already.” I hesitated while she thought about the information I had given her. “… or you can continue to act like a */#$ing baboon and go to jail, your decision.” She handed me the driver’s license, sat down in the seat and was so pleasant the rest of the interview as to believe she was running for office and I was a potential voter.

Darn, Taser technology had not reached the street officer at that point in time, wish I’d had a Taser that day and zapped her baboon butt so fast she’d of thought the banana was a treat. This one got logged as “it never happened”, at least no formal complaint was ever filed and I simply wrote her out a traffic ticket. Life goes on.