Saturday, May 30, 2009

Heel, Sit and Roll Over

Not much I can say other than training your dog could cost you an arm and a leg; well, in this case maybe only a foot .

“PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. — A former St. Lucie County firefighter who admitted taking a man's severed foot from an Interstate 95 crash scene last year has been sentenced to six months probation.”

“…she took the remains to help train her cadaver dog.” What was she thinking?

The charge was listed as a “misdemeanor because authorities couldn't determine the monetary value of the foot.”

I’m not making this stuff up; wouldn’t be possible to come up with something this dumb unless, perhaps, my name was Joe Biden .

Friday, May 29, 2009

Senator Cornyn - Do You Have a Backbone?

May 29, 2009

Senator John Cornyn
517 Hart Senate Office Bldg.

Washington, DC 20510

Subject: Supreme Court Nominee Sotomayor is not qualified for Supreme Court

Senator Cornyn;

This is an open letter which I will post to my blogsite, about the only means I have to express my disappointment in your spineless handling of your “constitutional responsibilities of advice and consent” as pertain to the vetting process of potential Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor.

I’ll include two lines from your recent statement to NPR which address my opinion that you have either lost your backbone or must have had someone standing behind you with a loaded gun preventing you from saying what needed to be said; I’ll give you the benefit of the doubt even though you probably don’t deserve it.

“I think it’s terrible. This is not the kind of tone that any of us want to set when it comes to performing our constitutional responsibilities of advice and consent,” Cornyn told NPR’s “All Things Considered” of the attack on Sotomayor as “racist.””

“Neither one of these men are elected Republican officials,” he said of Gingrich and Limbaugh. “I just don’t think it’s appropriate and I certainly don’t endorse it. I think it’s wrong.”

I’ll refresh your memory of what Sotomayor said which clearly points out one of two things; either she is a racist and has no qualms regarding blatant bigotry while wielding the powers associated with such a responsible position OR she’s too stupid to know how foolish her words were as she mocked the progress which has been made toward improving America towards the goal of being blind to race. Would you hand over a life time appointed position on the Supreme Court to anyone who is either a bigoted racist or too stupid to know when to shut up?

“I would hope that a wise Latina woman with the richness of her experiences would more often than not reach a better conclusion than a white male who hasn't lived that life.”

I know what you’re thinking, “What about Joe Biden and Nancy Pelosi, they don’t get any dumber than those two and they’re lined up in succession to occupy the presidency, what about them being too stupid to shut up?” They don’t count because they are elected, not appointed. You could say they act as an insurance policy against would be assassins contemplating taking out Obama, “Oh, no; Not Joe! Oh, no, Not Nancy!”

Had such a statement been made by a White Supreme Court nominee there would have been hell to pay. Even if you had someone standing with a gun pressed against your back when you made your groveling remarks, even then I’d have to say, “Get a pair!” Do you not hear or are you simply pandering for the Hispanic vote?

I’d also like to point out how wrong you are when singling out Rush Limbaugh and Newt Gingrich for exposing the racism which was not taken out of context or created in order to embarrass Sotomayor; she said it and it was a racist remark. These two responsible citizens commented on what was said. In the case of Limbaugh, his job is to inform and comment; something which the media would rather not do, actually report and inform the citizenry.

You’re correct, they ( Limbaugh and Gingrich ) are not elected representatives for any political party; instead they represent what the everyday citizen is saying, they simply have a larger audience. Are you saying individual citizen’s voices should not be heard?

Maybe it’s time you stepped down from being a Republican Senator if you don’t want to listen to the average on the street citizen voicing concerns which will affect the lives of every American. Perhaps you’ve been hanging around the folks inside the Beltway far too long and have outgrown the need to hear our voices.

I don’t think the new health care package being proposed by the Democrats covers backbone replacement; better find the one you misplaced. Now do your job and get on with the business you were elected to do.

T. F. Stern
Houston, Texas

Thursday, May 28, 2009

The Larger Vehicle is Always at Fault

A long time ago in a…

Back when I was a young police officer I turned in a report on a traffic accident which I’d been dispatched to investigate. A little later I was called to the Accident Division where my work came into question by one of the supervisors. He wanted to know why I’d found the driver of a small car at fault in the accident and issued him a ticket instead of finding the dump truck driver at fault.

I explained how the dump truck driver hadn’t done anything wrong, that the small car had changed lanes trying to make an illegal turn in front of the truck. I was told, “The larger vehicle is always at fault.”

I had sense enough not to argue and left it up to the supervisor to make what ever changes he figured needed to be made to the report. That was over thirty years ago and I still hold to my belief, idiots float to the surface and become supervisors because they haven’t the sense to be street officers.

We have a president of the United States of America pushing for a replacement to the Supreme Court; but he wants to make it clear that the downtrodden will be represented by one who has empathy for them. Exactly what does that do for the rule of law and the premise that justice is blind?

Maybe Obama believes, as did that idiot supervisor in Accident Division, “The larger vehicle is always at fault.” Obama has been apologizing all over the place for the evils caused by America, the super power. Obama wants to alter the landscape of America with “Change”.

During Obama’s run for the Oval Office he blurted out a line which I tucked away in my file box, a curious thought which should make anyone not strung out on drugs sit up and take notice of his intentions.

“My friends, we live in the greatest nation in the history of the world. I hope you’ll join with me as we try to change it.”

I recognize how our nation has drifted away from the original intent of the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution and Bill of Rights; a little loss of individual rights here and there, government’s whittling away God given individual rights in favor of wealth redistribution from those who have earned that wealth to entitlements to those who believe that class envy is more important than paying your own way. The degradation of private ownership toward collectivism in order to satisfy greed and power has empowered those in office by taking advantage of the premise that lazy people will vote for those who promise the most entitlements for the least amount of effort.

The balance of powers established to keep the legislative branch, executive branch and judicial branch in check has been eroding steadily; almost as if they were meeting in a back room to keep the public from being able to keep tabs. If these three branches fail to police themselves the fabric of our Constitution and Republican form of government has little chance of survival.

The legislative branch long ago quit trying to write laws which fit within the confines of the Constitution. The judicial branch quit trying to enforce the limiting effects of the Constitution as bill after bill got rubber stamp approval even though these bills disregarded individual rights in favor of “making life better for the little guy who never had a chance”, evening out that which was, as the wealth envy strategists have successfully promoted, disproportionally and unfairly lined the pockets of the rich at the expense of the poor.
The Executive branch has jumped in feet first with the idea of replacing the rule of law with “empathy”, another nail in the coffin of individual liberty which has all but destroyed the foundations upon which America was established.

You wanted “change”; well, it sure looks like a train wreck to me. So, who should get the blame; remember, “The larger vehicle is always at fault.”

Contrary to the old sign, “The buck stops here”, a sign on President Truman’s desk; the job of protecting individual rights lands squarely on the Supreme Court’s determination to have the legislative branch and the executive branch adhere to the Constitution and the rule of law. If these folks are not steadfast in their duty to protect individual rights under the Constitution, without showing favor one way or the other; then we as a nation are doomed to the consequences.

It’s bad enough having a congress with an approval rating lower than the local dog catcher and a president willing to sell the country into monetary slavery for the next hundred years; but a line in the sand must be drawn when it comes to Supreme Court justices.

That brings me to the problematic issue of Sonia Sotomayor being considered for appointment to the Supreme Court. I think it’s wonderful how she has risen to positions of respectability within the judicial system through hard work and self determination; however, and please don’t play the race card for my next statement, her being Hispanic or a female should have absolutely nothing to do with qualifying for a seat on the Supreme Court.

I find Sotomayor’s politically charged statements alarming and consider them as automatically disqualifying her for any consideration to a position which is charged, by oath, to support the Constitution. With that same set of values, the oath to support the Constitution; where is the demand for impeachment of President Obama for having declared a desire to undermine that same Constitution by his bold request to have impartiality replaced with “empathy” for those less fortunate and of humble birth? Isn’t that the same as saying, “The larger vehicle is always at fault”?

Sonia Sotomayor has been quoted as saying; a self qualifier for a seat on the Supreme Court, if you will:

“I would hope that a wise Latina woman with the richness of her experiences would more often than not reach a better conclusion than a white male who hasn’t lived that life.”

Where’s the outcry from national news media outlets screaming at the outlandish racism included in such a statement? What if, as Gregg over at Rhymes With Right posted earlier , this same sort of statement were uttered by a white person seeking appointment to the Supreme Court? There would be riots in the street after the drive by media eviscerated and crucified any non minority individual for such a blatantly racist remark.

“I would hope that a wise white man with the richness of his experiences would more often than not reach a better conclusion than a Hispanic woman who hasn’t lived that life.”

I apologize for being so ignorant; it’s perfectly acceptable to be a racist bigot as long as your skin isn’t white. What was I thinking?

I don’t care if you’re a conservative, liberal, Republican, Democrat, Libertarian or Independent; if you value the most basic Constitutional protections afforded individuals here in the United States of America, the last person any of us wants sitting on the Supreme Court would be a political activist who has already stated for the record how she intends to interpret the Constitution, with a preamble to include a bias for the down trodden or persons of color.

Do we really want a Supreme Court justice determining important issues with partiality based on the color of an individual’s skin, perceived standing in the community based on the amount of money they make, religious belief or any other issue outside the facts as pertain to the written law of the land?

I don’t know about you; but I’d prefer to keep the blind fold on “lady justice” as that would seem the only way to preserve what’s left of the law and the Constitution.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Is Sonia Sotomayor Photogenic Enough For SCOTUS?

The Houston Chronicle ran a story on its website, “Get to know high court pick Sotomayor through family photos”. Our society relies heavily on how a person appears in front of the camera in order to determine qualifications for high office; serving on the Supreme Court being no different, the easily swayed public needed to be assured of Sotomayor’s credentials.

“Here is a photo gallery spanning Sonia Sotomayor's life compiled by Rick Dunham from Sotomayor family photos released by the White House .” ( also linked in title bar )

The average citizen must be too stupid or simply not interested in knowing more than the fluff being circulated in advance of a life time appointment to the highest court by a president intent on providing empathy rather than the rule of law.

Senator John Cornyn ( R ) Texas, did his best to straddle the political fence, not wishing to disturb Hispanic voters, in an article by Stewart Powell , also in the Houston Chronicle. You have to remember how the Democratic legislature in Texas is holding up a bill which would require valid photo identification in order to vote; many potential illegal alien voters might remember this important issue in 2010.

When referring to a serious gaffe, “Cornyn said he would ask Sotomayor whether she really felt that the role of federal appeals courts was “to make policy,” as she said in videotaped remarks at a Duke University law school panel in 2005.”

“I haven’t made any decisions,” the San Antonio resident said. “Certainly, I’m not going to prejudge.”

“U.S. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison finds “troubling” statements she says Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor has made in the past 11 years that federal judges are able to “change policy.””


“Hutchison said her vote against Sotomayor in 1998 was about Sotomayor’s “judicial activism” as a district court judge…”

Gosh and oh by golly, all they need to do is look at the carefully screened photographs supplied by the White House to know all that needs to be known about Sonia Sotomayor’s qualifications for the Supreme Court position. Isn’t that a wonderful smile? ( Photo credit to Getty Images )

Monday, May 25, 2009

A Very Nice Piano Distraction

Lucy found a neat piano performance on Facebook by Jason Lyle Black which should brighten up your day. Once you find your way to his website ( also linked via the title bar ) there are a couple of video links worth listening to. The first video shows him playing Scott Joplin’s, The Entertainer; sitting backwards to the keyboard, not making this up. The other is a trilogy of sorts, which he did in September of 2008.

The trilogy starts off with a well know LDS hymn, We Thank Thee O God For a Prophet; except he takes “liberties” with the arrangement. I pegged it as a mix between Charlie Brown’s television movie music and the hymnbook. Then there is “None of Me”, a fun tune with some awesome playing. The last of the three, and perhaps the best of all three, a mix of an LDS hymn, If You Could Hie to Kolb ( #284 ) with Wyndham Hill style music.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Memorial Day 2009

I’ve heard some of America’s detractors complaining of our imperialism, grabbing huge chunks of land all in the name of liberty. They appear to be correct; American soldiers fought and died in countries too weak to defend themselves and we do maintain exquisite gardens in each of those countries, enough to bury our dead.

“The ABMC ( American Battlefield Monuments Commission ) commemorative mission is reflected in 24 overseas military cemeteries that serve as resting places for almost 125,000 American war dead; on Tablets of the Missing that memorialize more than 94,000 U.S. servicemen and women; and through 25 memorials, monuments and markers.”

I hear folks whine about how Americans are arrogant, spoiled or any number of insulting words; I bite my tongue and swallow hard as images of what the world might look like had American military men and women not taken up the fight for liberty around the world. The price we ask; only a plot of land to bury our dead.

I understand President Obama plans to visit Dresden, Germany in the near future. According to sources, “Obama’s great-uncle, Charlie Payne, served in the 89th Infantry Division during World War II and participated in the liberation of Ohrdruf, a forced labor camp that was a satellite camp of Buchenwald.”

I figure, having observed his bowing and scraping on the last trip across the big pond, this might be another opportunity for Obama to apologize for American actions during WWII. Obama has apologized his way across Europe hoping they will stop calling us names or even like us, why not in Germany too? We didn’t mean to drop all those bombs on innocent Germans; only on the bad ones, how can we ever make it up to you?

While we’re enjoying our freedoms and liberties this Memorial Day, freedoms and liberties bought and paid for by American Military service men and women who sacrificed their futures that we might enjoy ours; please have the decency to honor these, our valiant dead, with a measure of respect and gratitude.

I’ve included several pictures of “conquered lands” in France, England, Italy, and the Philippines; all part of American imperialism as we impose liberty and freedom on the rest of the world. Memorial Day is not a made up holiday simply to make a three day weekend; to sell hot dogs, chips and beer and for hourly wage earners to make time and a half.

Hopefully, as you drive down the street this weekend you’ll see plenty of American flags waving respectfully in the breeze, a chance for each of us to reflect on what Americans have done to preserve freedom and liberty, and a prayer that we may continue to have the courage to stand up for freedom and liberty as the struggle is never ending.

Hi oh Silver, Away!

Those thrilling days of yesteryear and all; a friend of mine sent me this YouTube video and I thought it was worth sharing. I would have thought the patrons at Carnegie Hall had been brought up better than to clap wildly in the middle of a performance; shame on them.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Pelosi Admits Waterboarding CoverUp Lie

I found this photo by Sammi Erin on Facebook. I guess it’s not any worse than the retouched photos the New York Times likes to print from time to time.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Congress and Parole Officers

I have a silly question; but one which might clarify some of my thoughts regarding Congress; does each individual congressmen have his/her own parole officer or is there a discounted group rate and one parole officer signs off on the lot of them? I ask only because the way Congress does business bears no resemblance to the way in which honest folks of integrity do their business.

I’ll use, for example, the Credit Card bill which is being pushed through in order to regulate the credit card industry. An amendment to the bill was slipped in, a provision to permit loaded weapons within national parks which was the only way such an extension of the 2nd Amendment right to bear arms would pass the mostly anti-gun congress. What has credit card legislation got to do with carrying a loaded weapon in a national park?

The answer, nothing! Congress passes legislation all the time, mixing apples and oranges and the result of their fruit salad approach is we have corrupted nearly every aspect of America. Rather than being honest and above board on issues our current form of government depends on being underhanded and dishonest because they know that any in depth scrutiny would expose the flaws to such an extent as to make them out as the liars and thieves they are.

Here’s a line from the FoxNews article which should explain Washington’s thinking:

“But the Coburn amendment showed that a surprising number of Democrats -- 27 on the Senate side -- are willing to back legislation expanding gun rights.”

Did you catch that, …legislation expanding gun rights? The right to bear arms didn’t spring from legislation; it came from God and is protected under the Constitution, a protection against government’s attempt to control the bearing of arms. They have it “bassackwards”.

Each time congress writes a piece of legislation attempting to get around the 2nd Amendment they do so in direct opposition to the oath and covenant they took when they were sworn into office. Where’s the rage and concern from the citizenry?

The two bills which caught my attention; the Blair Holt Firearm Licensing & Record of Sale Act of 2009 or H.R.45 and the other is the Denying Firearms and Explosives to Dangerous Terrorists Act of 2009 or H.R. 2159 . It’s time to become very concerned about the intent of Congress as they do their level best to deny American citizens 2nd Amendment rights under the guise of protecting us from ourselves.

James Osborne of FoxNews, wrote :

“The Denying Firearms and Explosives to Dangerous Terrorists Act of 2009 would authorize Attorney General Eric Holder to deny the sale or transfer of firearms to known or suspected terrorists -- a list that could extend beyond groups such as radical Islamists and other groups connected to international terror organizations.”

“Critics say the names of suspected terrorists could be drawn from existing government watch lists that cover such broad categories as animal rights extremists, Christian identity extremists, black separatists, anti-abortion extremists, anti-immigration extremists and anti-technology extremists.”

That ought to scare the hair off your noggin for anyone paying attention; government watch lists, like the ones circulated to local police and law enforcement authorities recently? Remember how Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano issued the memo declaring a national security issue, returning veterans on the list as these individuals might be recruited by right wing radicals?
You got it; anyone who doesn’t think and act exactly as the liberal leftist in power can and are listed as undesirables and even terrorists. How easily our government can and has perverted the ways of liberty; I’m still waiting for a frame to put around my own terrorist certificate .

“It doesn't say anything about trials and due process,” said Larry Pratt, executive director of Gun Owners of America. “This is one of the most outrageous pieces of legislation to come along in some time. It's basically saying, ‘I suspect you, so your rights are toast.’”

Regarding the Blair Hold Firearms Licensing Act , “This is just a ‘termite’ approach to complete confiscation of guns and disarming of our society to the point we have no defense - chip away a little here and there until the goal is accomplished before anyone realizes it.”. I think it was Peter Boyle who said that; but I could be mistaken.

In either case, government is attempting to skirt the intent of the 2nd Amendment through legislation providing limitation upon limitation on individual rights as if they had the authority to do so. This country is based on the rule of law; but that law must first make it through the filters provided by the Constitution and Bill of Rights; none of these pass such a test or even come close.

In case I failed to mention it, I’m so pleased congress has granted me permission, an extension of an entitlement from the Bush administration, to protect myself while in a national forest, a right I’d already been given by God; but which congress begrudgingly has seen fit to acknowledge. They couldn’t do it without violating the credit card industry’s right to operate in the free market system, without side stepping previously accepted criminal or civil court processes designed to protect consumers as well as providers of goods and services; but I keep forgetting how there’s been a mandate for “change”.

Ben Franklin has been credited with having said, “Those who would give up Essential Liberty to purchase a little Temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety.”

There are several variations of that; but they boil down to the same idea of selling your birth right for an empty promise. I like some of his other sayings as well.

“If Men are so wicked as we now see them with Religion what would they be if without it?”

So much for the idea that America needs to separate church and state; look where that has taken us. I ask again, do our congressmen have individual parole officers or does one parole officer check off for them at a group rate?

Monday, May 18, 2009

Hobo Kitties

I managed to snap a photograph through the window, Mama Hobo Kitty keeping a sharp eye on my every move. At the edge of the shadows is one of the kittens trying to get out and explore a bit. Some folks might be upset at the prospect of wayward kitties “infesting” their garage.

What’s that line from The Fiddler on the Roof, “To life! To life, LeChaim!” toasting the joy of simply being alive, “LeChaim, to life!” Here’s to the miracle of life, a gift to be enjoyed and appreciated.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Everything Including the Kitchen Sink

It’s hard to beat Sunday after church; a short nap after having gotten up in the wee hours for my meetings with the Bishop makes up for the short sheeted bed, breakfast after the nap and the Astros managed to hold off the Cubs late inning rally to pull off a win to split a rain out shortened series.

I worked in the tomato garden yesterday pulling weeds and my muscles are a bit sore so I’m sitting on a heating pad which I nuked in the microwave here in my favorite chair in front of the computer. I’ve already had my nap or this chair would work its magic and I’d already be asleep.

Lucy had me take a peek at some new kittens…; but let me set this up properly. Ever since William took Roxie off to live with him and our Thurbie died, the neighbor hood order of wandering kitties has declared our yard an unofficial gathering place. I think there are at least 4 cats from around the neighborhood which come by for a visit, other than our own Bubba Kitty.

The social order of stray dogs and cats is sometimes known as the “Order of the Hobo’s X”, in reference to the suckers who maintain the property with a blind eye to what’s going on. Their leader is a large black male cat who keeps his distance and prefers sleeping on either my work truck or my little green Beamer. Anytime I walk out the back door he scoots off and hides rather than take the chance on actually introducing himself.

There’s a younger male black kitty, a black and white female and a younger generation Bubba type kitty. They keep a low profile, either hiding in the bushes or in the garage where there are plenty of dark shadowy places.

Lucy pointed out the “arrival” of two kittens this afternoon. They appear to be about 4-6 week old and probably were born in our garage. One of them wandered into the open area near the tomato garden a while ago; but the “Mama Kitty” chased it back into the safe confines of the garage when she saw me at the back window.

Last night Lucy and I attended a fund raising dinner/auction for our local Boy Scout troop as they prepare for Summer Camp. We donated three top quality back packs to the auction which helped raise funds. Other items up for auction were monthly delivered dessert treats, home baked bread, dinners, yard work and baby sitting. There were some premium donations; club level seating at Minute Maid Park for an upcoming Astros’ game, round trip tickets on Southwest Airlines, a lap top computer with all the whistles and bells and even a high end stainless steel kitchen sink complete with installation.

Lucy’s favorite television shows to watch are on the home fix up channel; total reconstruction before and after miracles, kitchen or bathroom make overs and things like that. Our kitchen has been partially reconstructed over the years; a new refrigerator and new dish washer among other things.

Many years ago we had a small kitchen fire which brought about a new microwave oven, cook top/oven to replace the damaged built in unit along with remodeled cabinets and flooring.

“Dad, do we have a second fire extinguisher?” is not the kind of question you want to hear on the phone when you’re out on a Saturday night date with your wife. William did everything right; turned off power to the house and emptied the fire extinguisher where the flames were coming out behind the oven. It turned out one of the wires behind the oven had become loosened, arced and caught fire inside the custom cabinetry. Had William not been home and acted quickly we might have lost the house.

Of the many items offered at the Scout Auction, that brand new stainless steel sink with a new faucet and installation caught my attention. We must be living right, new kittens, healthy tomato plants, the Astros won a game, time for a Sunday nap; we have everything including the kitchen sink.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

VOTE = Vote Or Take Entitlements

Stephen Macklin has an interesting article over at Hold the Mayo called, “Changing the Air” . Stephen suggested the time has come to replace elected representatives in government in a similar fashion to opening up our houses with the onset of spring, a chance to get rid of stale air.

“I think as a nation it may be time to do that with our House. And it wouldn't hurt to do it with the Senate either.”

Stephen wants to call the process VICE and VOICE; go read his article since, after all, it’s his clever article and I’m only responding. I don’t think it has a snowball’s chance in hell of working because the American public has grown far too comfortable with bottom feeding.

I had originally typed “Chinamen’s chance in hell”; but that term has since been listed as Politically Incorrect and under the terms and conditions of Hate Crimes legislation could very well be a felony even though no intent was ever directed toward any one particular Asian individual. The term Chinamen’s chance in hell is a remnant colloquialism from a bygone era when slandering an entire race had nothing to do with rational thought, personal injury or good taste.

Such terms were meant simply to generalize the odds of success and nothing more. I would have thought, upon deeper consideration, that such a comment might even be complimentary since not going to hell would imply landing the individual in a more preferable location; but then again, this has little if anything to do with electing a representative to stand up for us in office.

The only way VICE or VOICE has a chance will be to change the voting base to reflect more responsible voters than are now counted. Our republic cannot survive without individual self control, as has been espoused by historians.

“Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.” John Quincy Adams

“That government is best which governs the least, because its people discipline themselves.” Thomas Jefferson

Both of those statements are directed to the idea that self governance is what America is all about, not being governed.

My brain wouldn’t engage the gear box as I looked for the particular quote that is hiding in my files somewhere or within one of the search engines available on the internet; in either case the exact quote eludes me. “Once a nation of free people learn they can vote themselves a portion of the community tax treasury that nation is doomed to self destruction” I know one of you out there can give me the exact wording and who said it; you get one “Atta Boy” for chirping in the correct answer via the comment section.

I maintain that voting is not a right; but a privilege which should be restricted to citizens who have shown some form of minimal responsibility and self control. Politicians, a deviant form of evolution originally called representatives, pander to those with limited, if any self control; those seeking government entitlements rather than pulling their own weight and actually having enough to then assist their neighbors.

There are ways in which to alter the current electoral process to weed out entitlement mentality individuals while at the same time maintain some semblance of civil order. A constitutional amendment would need to magically appear; because the crooks we have in Washington would never cooperate in slitting their own throats. The individual would have a choice between the privilege to participate in voting for local, state and national representatives OR accept temporary status as a ward of the state through acknowledged acceptance of welfare, tax relief or the other various entitlement programs which reduce otherwise self sufficient individuals to the status of indigent.

The temporary status of “indigent” would also be enforced through a timed “feed bag” arrangement which automatically would curtail the flow of entitlements so as to encourage self sufficiency rather than the current policy of “cradle to grave” government hand outs. Once the feed bag was empty that individual or family would either have to become self sufficient or leave the country and seek asylum in a benevolent socialist society filled with like minded slackers feeding off the fat of others with no control over their own wealth.

There is no such thing as forced sacrifice through taxation; the state mandated “offering” to help the poor is a poor substitute for charity which naturally occurs within the human condition. Robbing Peter to pay Paul guarantees that Paul will vote in favor of such governmental action and violates the premise of a self governing people by forcing one individual to give up the fruits of his/her labors in order to provide for another who could have supported his/herself.

So, who wants to work toward the concept of VOTE; you either get to elect representatives or sit back for a limited amount of time while slurping at the taxpayer assisted trough. You cannot have it both ways; the trough will only be refilled as long as working people are able to sustain not only themselves; but have enough to share with those unable or unwilling to do for themselves. This started out as a simple comment to Stephen’s article; I guess I “aired” that out, eh!

Friday, May 15, 2009

What kind of “govmint” do you want?

I’ve had a difficult time putting my thoughts together, how to present information mostly because of the source. I got a video in my email explaining basic forms of government; except it was produced by the John Birch Society.

So many of the folks I know have warned me about “those Birchers”, like they were some kind of radical kook fringe cult. “We’re all moving to Waco to be Branch Davidians; you want to join us?”, that kind of radical kook fringe inference. I should also throw in how some of these same good intentioned friends warned me about “those Mormons”, “You know they’re really not Christians; their Jesus is a different Jesus Christ than our Jesus Christ.” You can see where this is going, right?

I guess we have to make decisions on what to believe; hopefully we depend on something more relevant than Wikipedia, the New York Times, or MSN. I did some homework and found the topic more entertaining than anything I was taught in high school or college for that matter. Here’s one of the links, there are many others, and I still couldn’t say for sure whether or not the John Birch Society deserves the moniker of being a radical subversive right wing secret society; but in today’s culture of finger pointing and back stabbing, maybe having the label of “possible terrorist” isn’t such a bad thing.

I couldn’t figure out a way to embed this video, just click and take in 27 minutes of fairly clear cut information on "govmint" in general. You decide if we’re headed in the right direction or should we worry about the brown shirts knocking at our door in the near future?

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Time to Talk Baseball

I wanted to use “Let’s talk baseball”; but that’s what Larry Dierker used to call his column when he was writing or doing a spot on the radio. If I’d said, “Let’s talk health care”, or “Let’s talk government”; well, let’s not go there today.

My dad sent me an envelope full of old time baseball pictures a friend had given him. The church my dad attends has a couple of familiar names, Hershiser and Earnshaw; ones the son of a famous major league ball player while the other is the father of well know ball player ball player.

Baseball has given us some awesome names, Lefty Grove , the Babe , Hammerin’ Hank , Shoeless Joe and the list is nearly endless. What would we do without nicknames? There’s the Big Train , the Big Unit , Big Puma and Will the Thrill . Recently we lost one of the more colorful ball players, Mark “the Bird” Fidrych ; who could forget some of the antics he pulled cultivating the pitcher’s mound?

When I was growing up, a work in progress, my dad could rattle off statistics of nearly any major league ball player, team winning percentages for any given year, who pitched different games of a World Series and a host of other details about the game. Dad could also do Morse Code better than most folks whistle; but that’s because he did that for the Navy in WWII and has nothing to do with baseball.

Last night I watched the Astros get whooped, for lack of a better word, up in Colorado; final score was 12 -1. It was a pitiful exhibition; but only counted as one game and as soon as the sun came up this morning it was a new day, a chance to right things. I could say the pitching wasn’t up to the challenge, fielding or hitting; but last night it was a team effort in all aspects of neglect.

Cecil Cooper, the manager, left a struggling starting pitcher in to bat with two men on and only one out when the team was “only” behind by the score of 5/Zip. The next inning, after that same pitcher loaded the bases without recording an out, a reliever was brought in. I’m not saying the relief pitcher didn’t do his job; he did get two outs without letting a run score before giving up a Grand Slam to the deepest part of the park; just that the home run came with the count at a ball and two strikes, the next pitch was wild over the center of the plate.

I know, I could have talked about the blow out in LA where the Rockets got humiliated; but that has nothing to do with baseball. One good thing about basketball, maybe the only good thing, is they have some great nick names; Air Jordan , Shaq or the Glide .

I still can picture Michael Jordan flying through the air as if he’d figured out how to redefine the laws of gravity; a remarkable piece of magic, sorry that name goes with a whole different individual .

I had a nick name given me by a Lieutenant in the police department. I’d just transferred from patrol where you ride around in, of all things, a patrol car; to three wheeled motor cycles. The best description I can offer about that vehicle was they took the worst from a four wheeled vehicle and coupled that with the worst characteristics of a two wheeled motorcycle; probably the result of a biker on drugs doing time in the county slammer.

Where was I; oh yes, I’d just started learning how to operate the three wheeled motor cycle, practicing in the parking lot adjacent to the main station when I drove it into the side of a City of Houston Water Department van parked behind the old main police station. My natural instinct to lean, like you would with most other motor cycles with handle bars, did absolutely nothing to alter the path I was taking and by the time I pulled to one side; well, it was too little too late. It pushed the front wheel up under the motor and I broke the cheesy plastic wind screen off as I went over the handle bars. Fortunately my helmeted head kept me from going through the side of the van and there were no injuries, other than my pride.

I’d only met the Lieutenant once, a short interview two days earlier when he approved my transfer. The day after I’d destroyed one of his vehicles I got the name, “Crash”; but that was before we got to know each other. Later on, after many friendly confrontations, I had other nick names; none of which are suitable for print.

Monday, May 11, 2009

GPS Tracking – A Modern Day Issue

Glenn Beck brought up a news item today, the use of GPS tracking by agents of the government without a warrant . The whole things stems from a fellow who’d been stalking a woman, the woman notified her local police and a GPS device was attached to the suspect’s vehicle to verify that he had indeed been stalking her.

“Officers do not need to get warrants beforehand because GPS tracking does not involve a search or a seizure, Judge Paul Lundsten wrote for the unanimous three-judge panel based in Madison.”


“…The tracking did not violate constitutional protections because the device only gave police information that could have been obtained through visual surveillance, Lundsten wrote.”

The appeals court also admitted they felt “more than a little troubled” and have asked lawmakers to create legislation to regulate the use of GPS so as to properly define lawful use by police and private citizens.
At this point, and having read only what has been offered, I would have to agree with the findings of the court. I also applaud the court for its conclusion that with the advent of new technology, the legislature needs to write laws that reflect a reasonable and prudent use of these new technologies; but that it is not the court’s duty to legislate, only to make findings based on current laws.

This new Pandora’s Box has been opened and deserves a healthy examination of the pro’s and con’s which will eventually come back to bite us on the butt. If we as citizens expect well written laws it is up to us to alert our representatives as to the importance of individual concerns within the text of such legislation.

Let me lay some framework around which other ideas may be added. I’ll start with transponder technology which toll road authorities use to facilitate counting how many times authorized vehicles pass check points. This ability permits the authorized vehicle to drive at freeway speeds while being charged for the use of a span of roadway; no need to stop and chunk coins into a collection basket and the arrangement is mutually agreed to be efficient. I pay my toll road fees in advance through my credit card and as the amount dwindles down based on daily usage, my account is once again billed and a statement is sent for my verification.

The banking industry has similar technology to help in the apprehension of bank robbery suspects. A packet of money containing transponder technology is supposed to be slipped into the sack at the time of a hold up. That transponder is activated by the bank and the police are notified to track the “rat pack” which emits a recognizable signal to indicate its proximity to patrol units equipped with sensors. Such a tracking system does work and the only folks complaining are convicted robbery suspects.

There are private industry niche opportunities which use similar technologies to recover stolen vehicles and even stolen lap top computers. I don’t see folks getting upset with the use of transponder or GPS type technologies which help to keep property in the hands of rightful owners.

My own wish would be for police to use toll road transponders to locate stolen vehicles by placing the same kind of reading device on major streets and roads about town, the same readers as the toll road authority, except instead of collecting tolls these devices would be scattered throughout the city as a means of identifying and tracking stolen vehicles or other “vehicles of interest”.

Each transponder emits a unique identifiable signal, not much different than a fingerprint or a DNA sample. I see no reason why the information associated with these transmitters could not be shared from one agency to another.
As an example only; say my truck was stolen; it would only be a matter of instructing a computer that as of 14:27 hours a red Dodge Dakota equipped with toll road pass # KRT123587, belonging to T. F. Stern was stolen and to alert any and all police agencies in the area that its transponder signal can be identified should it pass within range of a reading device. Here again, the information supplied to any enforcement agency was based on information at the rightful owners discretion.

I also see no problem with the State incorporating a similar tracking module on every vehicle at the time of registration for license plates; vehicles, after all, are to be used on public roads and there should be no paranoia issues with being identifiable either visually or technologically.
The tracking device would have to be permanently mounted to the frame or other permanent part of the vehicle rather than as part of the license place since thieves are fairly adept at stealing license plates. These tracking devices would aid in the recovery of stolen vehicles and/or vehicles of interest. If properly designed these devices could be triggered to transmit, such as a license plate number given the authorities by a qualified witness. This would be a great tool for apprehending criminals; however, there is room for such a tool to be abused without limits placed upon such use.

I recognize the shift from “clearly defensible” toward an area where abuse might have the opportunity to pervert a good thing. I invite an open discussion to bring up such arguments which would make a paranoid person shake at the thought of such an abuse.

I have a feeling, call it what you will, that there should be a “probable cause” check and balance system associated with the use of tracking technologies, to include toll road transponders similar GPS devices. Police agencies should be held accountable for the use of new technologies which could or might be used in such a way as to cross the line of individual privacy. I will leave a related topic alone, at this time, the use of similar identifying devices on humans such as implanted chips or tracking codes on driver’s licenses.

The use of data collected by such a device should not be permitted to be used as a “stand alone witness”, either in civil or criminal proceedings and must have specifically worded language requiring a human being to act as verification of any actual crime or suspected behavior associated with the use of such a device.
This view is similar to my stated thoughts regarding the inappropriate use of cameras empowered to capture traffic violators running red lights or speeding. Mechanical devices should not be permitted as “stand alone witnesses” for enforcement and collection of revenue. Our society should continue to demand the ability to confront any and all witnesses for testimony supplied to a court of law; a device, regardless of how well it performs the functions for which it was implemented, can never stand alone as a witness which can be cross examined.

The Wisconsin appeals court, going back to the originally linked article, stated the information gained via the GPS unit could have easily been acquired through a visual verification and thereby did not violate the suspect’s right to privacy. The appeals court additionally stated the device was placed on the suspect’s vehicle while it was in a publicly accessible location and so did not violate a right afforded by a private and inaccessible location such as within a dwelling or any other protected area.

Future legislation directed toward transponder or GPS technologies would need to address these issues to clearly define how and when such devices are to be attached or used in order to comply with a wary public’s natural desire to protect civil liberties from abuse and government usurpation. Okay, here’s your chance to unload or add to what I’ve submitted.

Okay Class, Today We’re Going to…

Years ago one of my children had a high school class assignment in which they were to document how they’d spend a million dollars. They had a weekend to come up with documentation showing the purchase price of each and every item.

I told my daughter the exercise would have been much more meaningful had the assignment been geared toward reality; instead of a million dollars, have these kids figure out how to pay for an apartment, insurance, utilities, car payment, food, clothing and all on what could be made at minimum wage. Wouldn’t that have prepared these young people for that next level of citizenship better than squandering money they didn’t have; or was the teacher trying to recruit future congressmen?

This morning I read where a teacher up in Colorado had her 9th grade class test the waters of terrorism .

“A group of Colorado high school freshmen were asked to plot an act of terrorism by a foreign government on American soil as part of a lesson on terrorism, reported.”

“More than 110 students at Pueblo County High School were given two minutes to come up with their history project, the Web site reported.”

Excuse me; but how much of a “plan” would you expect anyone to come up with in only two minutes? Depending on how fast their internet connection was, it would take that long to Google even one site which might be helpful. They’d want explosives in various sizes, rifles, pistols, rocket propelled grenades, remote detonators, explosive vests and hallucinogenic drugs for the suckers picked for that job, special clothing to disguise the weapons and explosives, layout drawings to indicate where to inflict the most amount of damage, personnel files to determine the best targets, maps of the area to determine approach and escape routes and a host of other important factors. Two minutes would hardly be a serious test of the student’s ability to launch any meaningful terrorist attack.

How about some other social studies projects for the leaders of tomorrow?

Have them figure out how many days of work each year will be needed to pay for the national debt before any of their efforts go toward their individual needs and expenses. My goodness, that would be so much fun!

What about the cost of energy; a comparison study of how much electricity, gas and oil cost over extended periods of time starting in 1980 through the year 2020, with explanations to include Cap and Trade penalties planned by the Obama administration and Democratic controlled Congress. A gallon of gas will cost upwards of $ 5 to $10 dollars and we won’t want to run the A/C at home because the utility bill would be more than the mortgage payment.

Have the class figure out how much it costs to permit illegal aliens in our communities; include medical costs, education, housing, jobs and all other aspects of illegal immigration. Give the class at least 6 minutes to work on the project so they will have had at least 3 minutes more serious effort on the issue than our Congress.

We could give high school kids an entire weekend to explain the loss of individual liberties from the implementation of “hate speech controls” over the right to express criticism, private property and use as compared with ecological intervention, individual gun ownership for protection of property and life itself, the carefully orchestrated removal of rights guaranteed under the Constitution. These young people would out of necessity have to read the Constitution and understand the intent of the Founding Fathers; something which the public schools may find at odds with the socialist agenda now in place.

Heaven help us if one of these children happened to mention God as the Author of our nation, the only Being grand enough to bestow individual rights to His children which stands in direct conflict with the communist expression of entitlements from an all powerful and ever growing central government. That would cross the delicate line of tolerance for anything religious, much worse than tossing a hand grenade into a crowded classroom of eager young minds soaking up the State’s propaganda

I know, and this will likely be the next serious challenge to our young people are given while in the care and custody of the public school system; have the teacher hand out copies of Where’s Waldo. Break the kids into groups and let them point when they’ve spotted our hero. That way they can waste more precious time that could have been spent developing skills which might actually help them once they enter society.

Saturday, May 09, 2009

Stamps Mirror Who We Are

Many years ago I heard one of Dr. John Lienhard’s programs, The Engines of Our Ingenuity; more specifically, his explanation on Numismatics . The long and short of his talk boiled down to the premise that coins have a two fold purpose, a form of exchange; but beyond that they are a reflection of who we are and what is important to our culture.

“Money, after all, represents the works of our hands -- our technology. Our interest in money has a component that's far more honorable than greed. Money represents what we do. And what we do is what we are. A curious biblical remark tells us that our heart will be where our treasure is. It sounds cynical at first, but it makes more sense when we see money as a kind of condensed representation of ourselves. In the end, it's not surprising that we reveal our hearts in this most peculiar art form. We say who we are, and what we value, when we coin money.”

It wouldn’t be much of a stretch to include stamps in that same thought process; after all, stamps have a monetary value and in past times have been used as a form of exchange when coinage was absent. Beyond the values of the actual stamp would be the art form incorporated within the limited area for printing.

Philately, the studying stamps, is the natural twin to numismatics; both endeavors generally appreciate the relationship of the miniature works to the society which employs their use. Artists and engravers are challenged to summarize a single aspect worthy of their efforts, a chance to memorialize if you will, a pinnacle reached by that society. In the case of stamps, the artwork is something which will be observed in passing, affixed to the edge of a letter or important item to be mailed.

That brings me to something we should wonder about as a society. We will now be using the Simpsons to mail letters. I see this as a failure, in so many ways, of our society to strive for the finest available; instead we have permitted ourselves to sink to yet another level of mediocrity. I refuse to exhibit the Simpson Stamp; rather, I’ve displayed the cover of the Scott Postage Stamp Catalog from a few years back.

“The stamp issue is part of a yearlong Fox celebration dubbed "Best 20 Years Ever." Honoring all things "Simpsons."”

In the near future I suppose we’ll have stamps showing our fascination with erectile dysfunction, a pair of old fashioned tubs side by side at the edge of a lake. We could combine the medicinal value of Cialis, or some other major brand, with the postage stamp industry. Licking the stamp might become a little harder; and as always, should your trip to the mail box last longer than four hours; notify your postal inspector.

I don’t wish to sound like a broken record; however, that line from Douglas Callister, the one I referred to in last week’s Sunday School lesson needs to be shared with more of our fellow citizens; especially those in charge of the Post Office.

“When some music has passed the tests of time and been cherished by the noble and refined, our failure to appreciate it is not an indictment of grand music. The omission is within. If a young person grows up on a steady diet of hamburgers and french fries, he is not likely to become a gourmet. But the fault is not with fine food. He just grew up on something less. Some have grown up on a steady diet of musical french fries.”

Our culture has come to expect nothing more than french fries and hamburgers when we have so much more we could be enjoying. What does our music, our art, our literature have to say about us as a civilized people? Now, look at our postage stamps; we have the Simpsons, a beacon to the world of what we have become; God help us.

Friday, May 08, 2009

Bubba Wants Real Food

I enjoyed the comic strip LIO this morning as it showed how cats work at getting fed. Our Bubba let us know how she really didn’t like the new brand of dry cat food we purchased this past week. She simply refused to eat it; instead, she sat on the counter screaming a repetitive denunciation of what had been left in her dish. “You expect me to eat this garbage?” set to a heavy metal rap beat.

We’ve cut down on her canned cat food; every third day we spoil her with that treat, something which had already caused a mild rebuke. Once Bubba figured out we were not going to open a can of the fancy stuff she resigned herself to eating the dry stuff. “This new stuff though; really!”

After about fifteen minutes of ever louder complaints regarding the quality and possible origin of the unknown substance, a substitute for anything marginally resembling edible cat food; Lucy poured some of the other dry cat food in her dish. The scene, I’m certain, resembled that of Mia Farrow ending her hunger strike for the down trodden in Darfur except Bubba could give a rat’s patootie about human abuse, government corruption or any other political agenda; just as long as the food meets with her approval.

Here’s my advice, get a dog. Dogs will eat anything except lettuce, broccoli and tomatoes. Okay, so they leave a pile on the carpet from time to time; cats cough up hair balls which are just as disgusting. A dog will thank you with tail wagging excitedly as you pour out a measure of food each day; never once complaining that you bought the cheap stuff.

Thursday, May 07, 2009

Protecting Freedom is Our Responsibility

I started to write a long drawn out explanation of issues we as Americans should be concerned about; maybe I’ll do that tomorrow as a follow up. Instead I want to share a video that was made many years ago; call it prophetic, the information may be more pressing today than it was then.

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Bogus Tomato Pics

Lucy came home from grocery shopping with some store bought tomatoes, the kind that have the vine attached to make them nearly irresistible since the ones in our back yard garden are still weeks away from production. These will have to do until our plants get a little bigger.

I used the New York Times “integrity in journalism hand book” and stand by these photographs as genuine forgeries. I suppose I should have taken off the little stick on labels before shooting these photographs; but I needed to get my story out before the competition; it’s not that these tomato plants won’t eventually produce so it’s not the same as an out right lie.

Sunday, May 03, 2009

Sunday Music Menu

The Sunday School lesson for today had to do with how you spent the Sabbath. I’d suggested, via a quote from Douglas Callister, that we should be listening to the best music, reading from the classic works or otherwise preparing our minds and spirits for that heavenly home which we one day will return to.

“If we could peek behind the heavenly veil we would likely be inspired by the music of heaven, perhaps more glorious than any music we have heard on this earth.

When some music has passed the tests of time and been cherished by the noble and refined, our failure to appreciate it is not an indictment of grand music. The omission is within. If a young person grows up on a steady diet of hamburgers and french fries, he is not likely to become a gourmet. But the fault is not with fine food. He just grew up on something less. Some have grown up on a steady diet of musical french fries.”

Bonnie was with us for diner this evening and one of her friends had given her a copy of La Bohème on DVD to enjoy as a birthday present. We spent some time listening to our “favorite cuts”, not wishing to sound like a rock album; but there are some awesome scenes which many non-opera folks will recognize and immediately acknowledge as some of the best ever recorded.

Lucy and I ordered a copy of the La Bohème on DVD to send to my mom for Mother’s Day, not the same exact version as Bonnie’s; but has Luciano Pavarotti as Rodolfo, so it will be a struggle to get past. Here’s a sample from a performance given in San Francisco back in 1990. Would you pass the ketchup, please?

Saturday, May 02, 2009

I have to or I get to…

Many years ago my father in law was over visiting when my business phone rang. I excused my self from our conversation and took the call for service, getting the details written in our log book.

“You have to go do a job?”

“No, I get to go do a job”, I changed have to into get to making the point of how lucky I am to have folks trust me enough to let me work on their locks. My father in law had been an hourly wage earner all his life and until that moment I don’t think he ever looked at the opportunity to work as much more than having to.

Don’t get me wrong, he was in construction and was well aware that inclement weather wrecked havoc on making a living. He didn’t plan vacations, those were make up days for rain outs. All the same, there’s an attitude involved which either elevates or diminishes the mundane tasks of living.

I took this photograph of Jocelyne helping Meemaw do the dishes after diner the other night. Jocelyne pulled the step stool over to the edge of the sink and climbed a little higher in order to get her hands in the water. She was all smiles at having been permitted to help do the dishes. I wonder; at what point in life does doing the dishes turn from “I get to help” to “I have to do the dishes”.

When I was growing up I had to mow the yard; it was never “I get to mow the yard”. Why is that? Now the challenge of mowing the yard falls on me, not that I couldn’t hire some kid to do it; but I get to mow my yard. Every other week I get to edge and trim adding the exclamation mark. I think of the aches that go along with being stooped over while walking with the string trimmer and then marvel at how easy it is compared to the inefficient bugger of a tool my dad had me use; thank you, I’m grateful for modern conveniences and power tools.

One last observation and I’ll leave this alone. The other night, just prior to enjoying our diner, I asked for a blessing on the meal and closed with, Amen, JJ quickly jumped in with an “add on” request so I turned the “rest of the prayer” over to him. He wanted everyone to know how much he would enjoy going back to church.

Lucy and I got to take the grand children with us a couple of weeks earlier and they must have enjoyed it, more so than they let on. We keep a set of “Sunday Best” clothing for each of them for when the opportunity presents itself, my own children end up working many Sundays as they too are in business for themselves.

At what point in a young person’s life does going to church become “I have to go” instead of “I get to go”? I ask only because I’m teaching the adult Sunday School tomorrow, our regular Sunday School teacher will be away for awhile and each week a different person is being asked to fill in. The topic for discussion has to do with keeping the Sabbath Day holy.

I’ve learned that Sunday, the Sabbath Day, really is a day of rest from the mundane tasks which need to be taken care of the rest of the week. I get to attend my meetings at church, catch up with friends I don’t get to visit with except at church, enjoy reading a good book, listen to great music or enjoy a meal with my family. The point is I look forward to Sunday and the opportunity to contemplate the many blessings I’ve been given. I get to earn a living the rest of the week, on Sunday I get to say thank you.

The Flim Flam on Budget Cuts

I need to give a tip of the cap to Justin Gardner over at Donklephant and Doug Mataconis for reposting the same video on his site, Below the Beltway . We often have trouble visualizing large numbers when tossed around by politicians. Next time you want to add your two cents to a discussion you’ll feel a lot better.