Thursday, August 26, 2010

Red Flag Warning EPA Ammunition Ban

There is yet another assault on an individual’s God given right to bear arms; this one coming from of all places, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). First let me give a tip of the hat to Say Uncle and by extension the National Shooting Sports Foundation where I first learned of an underhanded attempt to ban traditional ammunition set in motion by an environmental group called the Center for Biological Diversity (CBD).

“With the fall hunting season fast approaching, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) under Lisa Jackson, who was responsible for banning bear hunting in New Jersey, is now considering a petition by the Center for Biological Diversity (CBD) – a leading anti-hunting organization – to ban all traditional ammunition under the Toxic Substance Control Act of 1976, a law in which Congress expressly exempted ammunition. If the EPA approves the petition, the result will be a total ban on all ammunition containing lead-core components, including hunting and target-shooting rounds. The EPA must decide to accept or reject this petition by November 1, 2010, the day before the midterm elections.”

Let that sink in for a moment, “the result will be a total ban on all ammunition containing lead-core components”; more than hunters and sports enthusiasts should be concerned the EPA could conceivably make it impossible to buy ammunition for almost any weapon, to include those used for self defense. I don’t know about you; but red flags began waving the moment I read that paragraph; something about the 2nd Amendment, or am I mistaken?

I looked up the Center for Biological Diversity and was impressed with their staff’s credentials; unfortunately I’d have to classify the entire group of well educated individuals as extremists who actually believe they’ve earned the right to tell the rest of us how to live our lives. These folk’s agenda supposedly is saving the earth while ignoring individual God given rights protected by our constitution; an interesting paradox.

I remember seeing an explanation, the difference between a conservative’s take on issues compared with a progressive’s take. Say for instance, if a conservative doesn’t like hunting he simply doesn’t hunt while a progressive who doesn’t like hunting will do his level best to make sure nobody else can go hunting.

Never mind, “There is no scientific evidence that the use of traditional ammunition is having an adverse impact on wildlife populations”; environmental progressives really don’t give a hoot (I couldn’t resist; my apologies), really don’t give a hoot about facts as long as their agenda moves forward.

The CBD lists it primary mission on its website and expects the broad natured statement to exempt it from criticism due to the lofty expression of purpose.

“At the Center for Biological Diversity, we believe that the welfare of human beings is deeply linked to nature — to the existence in our world of a vast diversity of wild animals and plants. Because diversity has intrinsic value, and because its loss impoverishes society, we work to secure a future for all species, great and small, hovering on the brink of extinction. We do so through science, law, and creative media, with a focus on protecting the lands, waters, and climate that species need to survive.”

If this were Saturday Night Live I’d be looking for Church Lady to use her favorite line, “Well isn’t that special”. I particularly like their inclusion of “creative media”. Creative media, that’s where feelings and good intentions outweigh facts and individual rights; no different than the EPA’s claim that CO2 is a hazardous gas which must be regulated regardless of whether or not Congress acts on Cap & Trade legislation.

Never mind, “A 2008 study by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on blood lead levels of North Dakota hunters confirmed that consuming game harvested with traditional ammunition does not pose a human health risk”. The EPA isn’t interested in facts which run contrary to their agenda; in this particular case they want to outlaw traditional ammunition, purportedly to save the environment.

I’ll be the first to admit lead ammunition is dangerous; standing on the wrong side of the ‘bang switch’ is often fatal. I read an autopsy report, written with a certain amount of sarcasm, in which a gunshot victim reportedly died of lead poisoning.

One more point from the article posted on the National Shooting Sports Foundation site, “Wildlife management is the proper jurisdiction of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the 50 state wildlife agencies”. What in thunder does the EPA have to do with regulating ammunition unless, once more for effect; Unless (let that word elongate and extend musically), Unless the EPA has an ulterior motive for wanting traditional ammunition banned?

The Obama administration has shown its displeasure with our constitutionally protected God given right to own and bear arms. They have expressed this displeasure by preparing to have Congress approve the UN Gun Treaty which would get around the 2nd Amendment by turning gun control over to the United Nations.

“Once the US Government signs these international treaties, all US citizens will be subject to those gun laws created by foreign governments.”

The EPA’s involvement in banning traditional ammunition is yet another aspect of running our nation into the ground. The EPA and other so called environmental organizations, specifically the Center for Biological Diversity (CBD) have shown contempt for property rights, which are inseparable from our God given rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. The EPA would put the Declaration of Independence and Constitution in a plastic garbage bag and bury them in a land fill rather than individual citizens have ammunition for their guns.

Please direct your letters of opposition directly:

Lisa P. Jackson
Administrator, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
1200 Pennsylvania Ave., NW
Washington, DC 20460
(202) 564-4700
Fax: (202) 501-1450

I recommend finding a way to ban the EPA, either through cutting its funding or some other means of removing their influence. They represent a threat to traditional American individuals much the same as they claim humans threaten the environment; their existence alone represents the threat to our way of life. When you hear the EPA is involved in almost anything, red flags should start waving.

This article has been cross posted to The Moral Liberal , a publication whose banner reads, “Defending The Judeo-Christian Ethic, Limited Government, & The American Constitution”.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Men are that they might have joy

My file system leaves considerable room for improvement. I was looking for an article I’d written which referenced the movie, Awakenings ; it has eluded my cursory search and will have to wait for another day. The movie, based on a true story, let’s the viewer glimpse the quality of life, or lack thereof, in a mental institution; more specifically, those who lived inside a body unable to move about on their own or show expression. These unfortunate individuals were, as one doctor exclaimed, as if they were encased in stone, incapable of thought or feeling; he was mistaken.

In one scene Dr. Sayer, having had some success freeing one patient from his temple of stone, attempted to convince a reluctant hospital staff to allocate a considerable amount of money in order to put more patients on an expensive experimental drug, hoping to restoring their quality of life, or as much as possible. One by one nurses and orderlies supported the project and signed their payroll checks over to the hospital, stopping to drop those checks into the hands of the administrator. The chance to improve the quality of life for a few of our Heavenly Father’s children was portrayed quite well; giving more than was expected or required was an expression of gratitude for what most of us take for granted.

Last week I read an article titled, Apologia , by Rhod at a friends site called, It Don’t Make Sense. There was a tone set among the paragraphs which bothered me enough to mention it, a lack of enthusiasm for something which should bring great joy; but instead made faith and religion sound like something settled for rather than eagerly sought. The single most important aspect of mortality is our relationship with our Heavenly Father and His Son Jesus Christ; but what I was hearing was more like a yearly employee evaluation report than testimonies of the Gospel.

I like to find short passages in the scriptures which I refer to as “Gospel in a Nutshell” ; sufficient on their own should a person find only that one portion of scripture it would have enough of the Gospel message to explain the purpose of mortality as relates to the Great Plan of Salvation, Father in Heaven and Jesus Christ. One such set of verses is found in 2 Nephi 2:4-10 (click on image to enlarge).
That my friends is a message worth printing; but a little further down in verse 25 is something just as important:

“Adam fell that men might be; and men are, that they might have joy.”

Read the whole chapter; but why stop there, read the entire book. Folks shouldn’t have to “settle” for a religion or denomination which doesn’t fulfill their understanding of the Gospel. Important instructions intended to help us through mortality should add excitement to our testimonies and efforts to obtain all that our Father has for us should be done with enthusiasm and joy. I’ll close with one of my favorite scriptures, Moses 1:39

“For behold, this is my work and my glory—to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man.”

This article has been cross posted to The Moral Liberal , a publication whose banner reads, “Defending The Judeo-Christian Ethic, Limited Government, & The American Constitution”.

Tolerance or Stupidity?

Theodore Roosevelt's ideas on Immigrants and being an AMERICAN in 1907.

“In the first place, we should insist that if the immigrant who comes here in good faith becomes an American and assimilates himself to us, he shall be treated on an exact equality with everyone else, for it is an outrage to discriminate against any such man because of creed, or birthplace, or origin. But this is predicated upon the person’s becoming in every facet an American, and nothing but an American...There can be no divided allegiance here. Any man who says he is an American, but something else also, isn’t an American at all. We have room for but one flag, the American flag... We have room for but one language here, and that is the English language... And we have room for but one sole loyalty and that is a loyalty to the American people.”

Are we being tolerant or stupid when we permit an invading force of anti-Americans to occupy our land? Some of you may think the question has to do with roughly 20 million illegal aliens from our southern border, and to a certain extent you’d be correct; however let’s not forget there are others claiming their purpose is to bring down America, Muslim jihadists living among us.

Take a few moments to consider the information in the following videos and the answer becomes clear; our politically correct attitude toward tolerance at any price will prove to be our downfall. Just one more thought, will our nation’s collapse come from outside invaders or will it come from within; we have the most treacherous band of anti-Americans sitting in the highest positions of government.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Just One of Those Things

Lucy and I were at J.C. Penny a couple of weeks ago and bought 4 new white dress shirts; but I picked up the wrong size neck size by half a size. It would be easy to correct the next time we were close, just exchange them for the proper size.

Saturday on our date night we went to Chili’s over by Willow Brook Mall so we took the shirts and sales receipt along with us. After diner we showed the sales clerk our bag of shirts and explained how all we needed was to swap our 4 shirts; nothing is that simple anymore. Their inventory system needed to show which shirts had been returned by neck size, the old sales receipt voided and a new transaction completed. It worked to our advantage because we happened to be there on ‘back to school sales tax free weekend’; we got a little over five dollars refunded.

While standing at the cash register a young man approached another sales clerk and asked if anyone had turned in a set of car keys. I felt a smile forming having overheard his misfortune and handed him my business card, “If you can’t find them, give me a call later on”. He looked at my locksmith card and put it in his pocket; but never called back that evening so I figured he found his keys.

Sunday afternoon my business phone rang and it was the sister of the fellow who’d lost his keys at the mall. She wanted to set up an appointment for Monday morning; the keys were no where to be found.

I was watching an interesting movie about the life of song writer Cole Porter, De-Lovely . Interesting may be the wrong descriptive word, depressing and outrageous might fit; perhaps the only reason I continued watching was for the phenomenal music which the man produced.

A phone call to my folks this morning after having made the key at the mall found me expressing all these experiences. My mother remarked, upon hearing about my fortuitous moment of having been standing at the cash register and overhearing the young man who’d lost his keys, “Well, it was just one of those things”. Call it subliminal if you want; but Cole Porter wrote a tune by that title, “Just one of those things”.

Many artists took a turn with those great lyrics; Ella Fitzgerald, Frank Sinatra, Shirley Bassey and my favorite by Nat King Cole. What a great way to start of the week; but it was just one of those things.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

A moment of silence for a fellow blogger

I got an email this afternoon letting me know a fellow blogger, Mary Adams, had passed away. I never met her and knew her only through her writings. Mary wrote her blog, By Study and Also By Faith , an excellent example of how a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints can share the Gospel. I thought it would be appropriate to communicate this information with those who might not have been informed of Mary’s passing.

If you’ve ever visited her blog you might have noticed a quote from Theodore Roosevelt she had posted. I’ll share that with you now:

“The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs and comes short again and again, who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions, and spends himself in a worthy cause; who at best, knows the triumph of high achievement; and who, at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who know neither victory nor defeat.”

Friday, August 20, 2010

Obama is neither Christian nor Muslim

Recent polling results would have our attention pulled toward the issue of Obama’s faith; is he Christian or Muslim? The answer would have to be, neither; Obama is a statist and has no faith in anything other than big government, bigger government and eventually total government.

There’s an old lawyer joke which goes, “How do you know when a lawyer is lying? --- His lips are moving”. The same holds true for Obama; but it’s no joke and nobody’s laughing. Obama has declared his faith on numerous occasions; his lips were moving but he never said anything worth listening to, these were politically operative phrases intended to mask his identity.

What the pollsters should have asked, had they wanted a better understanding of how the public perceives Obama, “Does Obama stand for traditional American values?” or, put slightly differently, “Is Obama’s vision of America compatible with the vision our founding fathers had for individual liberty and freedom?” The answer would have to come back, “No, Obama is a statist, and by definition, his belief in social interaction excludes faith in anything but the all powerful state."

 I received an email which supposedly was a partial transcript recorded during an interview on Meet the Press on September 7, 2008, information intended to nail Obama regarding his Anti-American mindset. As much fun as it would have been to share, according to my search results Obama wasn’t on Meet the Press on September 7, 2008; Joe Biden was, so there’s no telling what asinine things were said.

There’s no need to make up stuff; Obama’s actions speak louder than words. Under his administration and with the help of a ‘progressive’ (socialist) Congress, our country has been fast tracked toward destruction. Obama has made it a point to dismantle our national defense and enter into treaties with our enemies under the infantile assumption that by doing so the world will be a safer place. Obama has shown a reluctance to salute or even observe a modicum of respect for our flag during various ceremonies leading many, including myself, to wonder if he really does hate what our flag stands for. While on trips to foreign nations Obama apologized for America’s success, claiming we’ve taken advantage of our powerful position and imposed on less powerful nations.

Maybe Obama saw a need to apologize for America imposing our great influence in France when they were occupied by the Third Reich. We probably had no business imposing freedom in other areas of the world; Iraq comes to mind for some reason. Democracy is terrible to impose on others and most folks in the Middle East would rather live under Shiria law ; you believe that, right?

“Muslim or Islamic law, both civil and criminal justice as well as regulating individual conduct both personal and moral. The custom-based body of law based on the Quran and the religion of Islam. Because, by definition, Muslim states are theocracies, religious texts are law, the latter distinguished by Islam and Muslims in their application, as Sharia or Sharia law.”

Sharia is incompatible with America’s republican form of government; but that is not the path which Obama is taking us down and really not the topic of today’s article. While the media keeps their ratings up with a red herring on religion and 1st Amendment gobbledygook related to building a mosque close to Ground Zero, Marxist policies intended to derail our free market system and individual liberties are being implemented nearly as fast as the ink dries on legislation intended to deceive, manipulate and destroy America.

Obama is a statist and the ‘change’ which he intends for America is away from individual God given rights protected through constitutional restrictions on government. Obama’s inner circle of friends and mentors are for the most part anti-American Marxists who are pushing for wealth redistribution via entitlements. His agenda is based on the lie that all wealth is to be shared equally regardless of individual desires, needs or supposed rights. In short Obama is neither for Islam nor is he for Christianity as both claim to have authority outside of and above powers he intends to be held by the state alone.

Do you feel comfortable having a Marxist in the White House or would you rather return to government of the people and by the people based on constitutional rule of law? November is just around the corner; chose carefully, presently the path we are on is filled with treachery, lies and deceit. We need to restore grid lock in order to stop this insanity.

This article has been cross posted to The Moral Liberal , a publication whose banner reads, “Defending The Judeo-Christian Ethic, Limited Government, & The American Constitution”.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Why You Should Become a Member of FILOA

Here’s a story I sent off to ALOA’s Keynotes magazine and was published as part of their membership drive several years ago. I figure it should work just as well for the Fiercely Independent Locksmiths of America.

Last year’s tomato garden may have been my very best ever. The plants grew thick with tomatoes that were large and sweet. I enjoy a vine-ripened tomato sliced with a touch of salt; not much can beat the flavor.

Each year I take a few photographs to compare with prior crops. In this way, long after the last tomato has been eaten I can remember with a certain amount of satisfaction, having grown them in my back yard and look forward with renewed anticipation, the warmth of spring and yet another chance to plant some more. It wasn’t until mid-winter I discovered the reason for their success; tomato fairies.
No, I haven’t been re-visiting the 60’s and I haven’t taken a pain pill for my back in over a week. Like I said, I took pictures of my tomato plants; the best photograph I’ve been using on my computer as wall paper behind all the icons. This past week I was cleaning up the desk top, getting rid of some unused program icons which left a hole, as it were, in the middle of the desk top icons. More of the tomato plant picture could be seen, an area that heretofore I had ignored, my interest had been focused on the huge tomatoes. It now showed a part of the plants that were mostly leaves, off to the left of the part that had the tomatoes.

There, caught in the moment, mixed in with the lush green of the tomato plant leaves; was a clear and distinct image of a tomato fairy. She must have been flying in and out doing her magic at the very moment I took the picture; her wings outstretched as the reflection of the blue sky danced on them.
Not being an expert on tomato fairies, I have to assume the one in my picture must be a female fairy; either that or male fairies wear long gowns too. Her translucent figure blended in so well with the leaves as to render her nearly invisible. Had it not been for the sparkling of fairy dust near her head I would never have picked her out of the background. There was no denying her presence, the light blue wisp of gown as it gently floated above the plant, her face rising with the glow of tiny luminescent orbs to light her way. I showed the picture to my wife; but she insists my imagination has run away with me, that the image is the product of two leaves of varied hue and nothing more.

I’ve been involved with the locksmith business since 1976; starting out as a locksmith apprentice and eventually working for myself as an automotive locksmith specialist. I joined the Associated Locksmiths of America back in 1978. The fellow who introduced that organization to me explained that part of the yearly membership dues went to the Key Fairies. When I started to laugh he explained, in a sincere voice aged with maturity, how they work for professional locksmiths.

First he reminded me that, by nature and a solemn oath, Key Fairies are an honest lot and forbidden to steal keys in order to produce customers. They are permitted; however, to lay a corner of the daily newspaper over a set of keys which might lead the rightful owner to believe the keys had been lost. Fairies also have the ability to take a set of car keys from one pocket and move them to another, cause keys to fall into desk drawers and so on in order to provide opportunities for locksmiths to make a living.

In my twenty-five years as a locksmith I have never once seen a Key Fairy; all the same I have no doubt they have helped my business to grow. I renew my membership with ALOA without fail and know it’s a good investment. My wife can go on about the leaves making it appear or give the illusion of something that might look like a fairy. To see such things one has to have the faith of a child, regardless of age. I remember my mother telling me how she took a fairy from Staten Island across to Manhattan when she was young. What more need I say?

Now click on this link to download a copy of FILOA’s Membership Application .

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

A Picture IS Worth a Thousand Words

A friend of mine found a political cartoon regarding the building of an Islamic mosque so near Ground Zero and posted it to his Facebook page along with his thoughts, “The debate is not about the law or the Constitution. I don't think it’s even really about tolerance. The real debate is about respect, sensitivity, and reverence.”

To me it’s more about building up Islam to replace Western values, a statement of occupation in a conquered land. The property is owned by a Muslim; but that isn’t the issue, nor is it about freedom of religion as many have argued. This is about power; the announcement by Islam to Western civilization that they have no respect for our culture and this is their flag of conquest.

It would be hard not to equate the historical significance of the chosen name for this planned insult. The great mosque in Cordoba, Spain was erected over what had been a Catholic basilica in the year 711 AD. It was the center of power for several centuries under Muslim rule until the year 1236 when Spaniards conquered Cordoba. The population and the building were converted from Muslim rule and the Catholic Church established in its place; however, the structure continues to exhibit its original Moorish design and construction to this day.

Here I am yakking away when all I really needed was the political cartoon; a picture really is worth a thousand words. I wish my eyes were better so I could give credit to the artist; perhaps someone will enlighten me via the comment section.
This article has been cross posted to The Moral Liberal , a publication whose banner reads, “Defending The Judeo-Christian Ethic, Limited Government, & The American Constitution”.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Membership in FILOA

I’m in the process of generating a website for Fiercely Independent Locksmiths of America (FILOA). This page along with a secondary button to download a printable application form will show up when somebody clicks on the Membership Button. There will be a Members Only Button, password protected, which will link to technical articles not intended for the general public as well as a page where new or used locksmith items may be purchased.

I recently received an email letter from the Sgt at Arms of the Greater Houston Locksmith Association (GHLA) apologizing for their lack of timely responses to letters I’d sent regarding various issues over the last year. While I was glad to see the email, it only added to my resolve in making sure our new organization, (FILOA), addressed concerns of independent locksmiths regarding their industry. It should be noted, no such letters have been received from ALOA; my membership in their organization must not have been sufficiently important to them.

I was a member of the Associated Locksmiths of America (ALOA) from 1978 - 2009 as mentioned previously and it became painfully clear the all encompassing umbrella of the Security Industry left independent locksmiths without a strong voice; at times wondering if we had a voice at all. My original purpose for joining ALOA had to do with my acknowledgement that one day the locksmith industry would become licensed and it stood to reason, members of a large national locksmith association would be ‘grandfathered in’ as a matter of practicality; as it turned out I was correct.

There are all manner of qualifications for a locksmith license in the State of Texas as well as rules and regulations which were originally intended to protect citizens from unscrupulous fly by night operators; did I forget to mention a hefty yearly license fee? The problem with a state bureaucracy running the locksmith industry, at least here in Texas; they’ve became masters rather than servants of the industry.

“…Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed…”

One of the purposes of FILOA will be to simplify the lives of locksmiths by replacing arbitrary onerous rules and regulations which have been imposed on our industry with reasonable and prudent rules and regulations more in tune with a free market system. The single most vocal complaint I’ve heard from independent locksmiths has to do with asinine mandatory continuing education requirements imposed by the State of Texas in order to maintain a locksmith license. I suspect it is the same in other states. Lilliputian hoops and barrels do nothing to improve a working locksmith’s ability; they only serve to increase the cost of doing business and they certainly do nothing to improve the safety of the public.

There’s a trend, state bureaucracies micromanaging locksmiths; this must be reversed. A multitude of like minded independent locksmiths would be heard much more than acting separately. This runs counter to the agenda of the ALOA which would have each and every state control vast portions of the free market. In general the security industry has been legislated to death; but more specifically locksmiths, through licensing, burdensome rules and regulations written into law and overseen by bureaucrats with little if any responsibility to those whom they manage over.

America is built on the idea that hard working citizens are self disciplined and self governing. The Proper Role of Government is to protect its citizens, not enslave them. Our constitution provides a means to contain the powers of government; however, over the years many powers have been usurped and the result is loss of individual liberty. Call me a dreamer or an idealist; but I intend to do my part in restoring America to its greatness by adhering to the foundations established at its inception.

You will notice, upon reading the main portion of FILOA’s Membership Application shown below, the requirements are minimal. American citizens have a natural God given right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Wanting to associate with other locksmiths requires no license or background check; your signature is your bond.

Basic requirements:

Applicants must be involved in the locksmith industry as a locksmith, apprentice or tinker with locks as a hobby. It is important to accept and adhere to the principle of working only on locks or devices for which the rightful owner has authorized your skills and services.

Applicants must of good character and have a desire to follow the Ten Commandments.

Individuals with felony convictions need not apply regardless of having repented.

Applicants must be legal residents of the United States of America.

I_______________________________ (Print Full Name) have read the above basic requirements and would like to join the Fiercely Independent Locksmiths of America.

My signature represents a promise to live up to these standards.

_________________________________ ( Applicant’s Signature) ____/___/____( Date)

One year membership dues $ 15.00 (check or money order ) will be used to build and maintain a website which has been reserved; but is not in operation yet. A temporary website has been established at and will have to do for now.

Fiercely Independent Locksmiths of America
P.O. Box 681001
Houston, Texas 77268-1001

There’s a place to affix a copy of your business card to the official application form, which I might add has a really neat looking logo built into the letterhead. I included that part about felons not being eligible because there are certain limits which preclude membership, being a convicted felon is one of them.

I’m hoping to have the official FILOA website up and running very soon; however, if you’ve a mind to join now, without having the nifty looking letterhead Membership Application Form, then cut and paste the portion as shown and jump right in.

This article has been cross posted to The Moral Liberal , a publication whose banner reads, “Defending The Judeo-Christian Ethic, Limited Government, & The American Constitution”.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

The System Says You're Not Here

We live in a world dependent on computers; heaven help us when they have a glitch.  Sometimes the inconveniences are just that, minor setbacks which can be overcome in a matter of minutes; others take a little longer.

Take for example a story on MYFOXNY dot COM about Ruth and Karl Hess, a couple married for 53 years.  A computer error made for an interesting day.

“Ruth Hess got a call from her husband’s doctor’s office telling her that Medicare had declined payment to the doctor. Why? Because they mistakenly thought her husband Karl had died.” 

“Ruth Hess said, “That’s strange. We are sitting here having lunch and he just played tennis.”’

“Medicare told the Hess’ that they couldn’t handle trying to prove that Karl was still alive. They referred him to the Social Security Administration.”

The long and the short of it; Hess spent the rest of the day on the phone trying to get someone to accept the fact that he was alive.  He had to get through the computer generated phone systems we all look forward to, “For English punch 1, Espanol 2, if you are calling for a problem with billing punch 3, for results of a medical test punch 4, for a chance to win a 60” flat screen television punch 5…”

Eventually it boiled down to one digit of his Social Security number having been entered incorrectly; the computer had declared Karl Hess dead.  He was able to convince a human being that rumors of his death were premature.

Several weeks prior to retiring from the Houston Police Department in 1992 I filled out a barrage of forms to facilitate a smooth transition from active duty status so that my insurance and retirement pay would…; stop laughing, I heard that.  You guessed it; the system isn’t set up for efficiency.  It only took a couple of days for the impact of those forms to take effect.

I was on night shift patrol as I walked out the back door of the station to put my gear in the assigned patrol car for my night’s work.  Officers routinely go through preliminary steps of looking the vehicle over for new damage, inventorying the city issued equipment that’s in the trunk, checking for contraband which a previous shift’s prisoner might have ditched in the back seat area and in general making sure everything works.

One of the last things to complete prior to leaving the station was to turn the MDT unit on; that’s the fancy computer hooked up to the police dispatcher’s system.  I punched up the screen, filled in the appropriate blanks with my name, payroll number and password.  The system sent back a message, “Officer is no longer active”.  I got on the radio and advised the dispatcher my retirement didn’t start for another two weeks and would she override the computer and log me into service; amazingly that worked.

At the end of shift I pulled up to the gas pumps to top off the tank as a courtesy to the next shift.  There’s a management tool tied into the gas delivery system which keeps track of how much gasoline is pumped into any specific patrol unit and which authorized employee used that gasoline.   It was supposed to prevent unauthorized use of the City’s gasoline; filling up a personal vehicle, gas cans and things like that.  When I punched in my payroll number the gas pump shut down; the computer screen displayed, “Officer no longer active”.

I walked in the back of the station and explained how I needed to top off and the Sgt. punched in an override code so the officer on the next shift wouldn’t be cussing me for leaving the gas tank empty.  The rest of the week was a carbon copy; “Officer no longer active”, wouldn’t let me enter reports on-line or anything else of importance.  I might as well have stayed home for all it was worth; heck, the computer thought I’d already retired.

The last week with the Department had me working the desk; there was no signing on the computer or filling up a patrol car with gasoline.  The City really didn’t want a retiring officer getting involved in anything; the desk at the station was the safest bet. 

One last bit of information on my preparations for a smooth transition from active duty to retired status; the insurance forms I filled out; that was a waste of time.  It took me a month and a half to convince them I hadn’t quit; that I’d retired with full benefits. Thank goodness my family remained healthy during that period; no telling what kind of other problems would have propped up. 

Think about the fragile nature of our information systems.  Last week there was a “solar tsunami”, the result of an explosion of radiation directed towards Earth.  Astronomy buffs were looking forward to enhanced auroras in the northern hemisphere.

“The charged solar particles give Earth’s atmospheric atoms an energy boost, which then gets released as light, producing the shimmering curtains of greens, reds, and other colours.”

There are other side effects which may or may not be as welcome; solar activity often interferes with communications.  Even Ham radio operators would be rendered useless from electronic interference from such sun spot storm; no telephones no communication.

“Energetic solar storms can disrupt communication and navigation systems, can knock out power grids, and can pose radiation hazards to people working in space.”

The military is aware of “potential for damage” to communications networks and other electronic devices in the event of a nuclear detonation in the atmosphere.  Some experts claim such an attack would damage electronic equipment to the point of rendering them useless.  

Imagine having every database on every computer wiped clean; financial records, medical records, property recordings and just about any transaction which has been made in the past thirty years gone up in smoke.  The power grid would be gone; transportation would be at a stand still since everything depends on electricity.

We live in a world of cell phones, iPads, Droids and Blackberry devices.  Folks standing in the grocery check out line, seemingly talking to themselves, actually have little blue lights flashing from a device stuck in their ear transmitting their conversation.  Our vehicles have fancy computers to tell the spark plugs when to fire, the fuel pump to regulate the flow of gasoline and instruct the brake pads on how to stop in the most efficient manner short of locking up the wheels.  How difficult would it be to throw a monkey wrench into such an electronic dependent society’s fragile inner workings?

Karl Hess wouldn’t be the only one unable to get medical assistance; we’d all be wandering around in the dark.  This isn’t to say backup systems are not in place or that paper and pencils couldn’t be used as in days gone by; but oh my, wouldn’t that make a dent at the local McDonald’s hamburger check out?  I can see that kid trying to find a picture of a Big Mac so he’d know how much to charge; then asking the customer to make exact change because he never bothered to learn how to add or subtract.  

Be of good cheer; I make hard copies of most anything I write just in case the computer crashes and send them off to my folks; they don’t have a computer.  Mom and Dad read books, with real paper pages to turn; not from a Kindle or e-book device.  When they’re through with one they take it back to the library and check out another; not very efficient is it?  I have a book or two as well; not into X-Box games so I have time to read when the Astros aren’t playing.  

I was going to include a picture I painted for my folks many years ago.  The idea came from the last scene in the movie production of Ray Bradbury’s, Fahrenheit 451.  Books had been banned; however, a colony of self exiled people, far removed from society called the Book People, had taken it upon themselves to memorize a favorite book in order to preserve its content for future generations.  The painting showed my lack of talent for painting people; the lake and trees with falling snow was marginally acceptable.  Instead I took a photograph of one of our book cases, a chance for you to guess what titles might be included; bear in mind this is but a portion of our collection.

I better get this article posted on the internet before the rains hit later this morning; might knock out the power and all my ramblings will have been wasted.  By the time you read this, I might not be here.

This article has been cross posted to The Moral Liberal , a publication whose banner reads, “Defending The Judeo-Christian Ethic, Limited Government, & The American Constitution”.

Sunday, August 08, 2010

FILOA has a Logo

I had some time to play with a logo design and a little help from a friend who knows more about digital design; between the two of us we got pretty close to what I’d imagined in my head.

Next week another friend is coming by to help set up and design a professional looking website, one that will make a smile come to your face.   I’ll bet some big corporation would have paid a gazillion dollars to get a logo design as good; this one has a few pieces of printer paper, some printer ink and a couple of hours of art work thrown together.


Saturday, August 07, 2010

Citizenship or Servitude

One of the principles of our constitutional form of government has to do with the flow of power from the individual, to a group of individuals and then to our government which is permitted to govern us through powers granted it by that group of individuals and eventually the individual.  There is a stipulation buried deep within this concept which transcends all governing principles, our government can do nothing save it has the express permission to do so from the governed; but I’m getting ahead of myself, I’ll explain later.  Forgive my tendency to ramble as this runs a bit long.

Ezra Taft Benson explained these principles clearly and precisely in his talk, The Proper Role of Government .

“Leaving aside, for a moment, the question of the divine origin of rights, it is obvious that a government is nothing more or less than a relatively small group of citizens who have been hired, in a sense, by the rest of us to perform certain functions and discharge certain responsibilities which have been authorized. It stands to reason that the government itself has no innate power or privilege to do anything. Its only source of authority and power is from the people who have created it. This is made clear in the Preamble to the Constitution of the United States, which reads: “WE THE PEOPLE… do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.”’

“The important thing to keep in mind is that the people who have created their government can give to that government only such powers as they, themselves, have in the first place. Obviously, they cannot give that which they do not possess. So, the question boils down to this. What powers properly belong to each and every person in the absence of and prior to the establishment of any organized governmental form?”

I’ll use the locksmith industry in Texas as an example of things that have turned backwards over the years.  What’s the old fairy tale line, “Once upon a time…”?  Well, once upon a time the locksmith industry was a free market enterprise; individuals applying their skills in order to provide an income to their individual businesses.  Social and professional organizations formed as self governing bodies and as a means of establishing a presence when dealing with government; yet the final responsibility remained with the individual locksmith, his/her ability to make it in the free market system. 

Eventually pressure was applied to locksmith organizations from other entities such as the Alarm and Security industries to the point where the survival of the locksmith industry was in question.  Locksmiths compromised working in the free market, unencumbered, to a manipulated market wherein locksmiths would be licensed by the state.  Power to license locksmiths was given to the state by elected officials and to establish rules and regulation governing the locksmith industry; presumably to ensure the safety and well being of society. 

The legislature, once these laws were enacted, transferred authority to bureaucrats ( in Texas it’s the DPS/PSB) whose functions include creating rules and regulations governing individuals, licensed and unlicensed.  The locksmith industry may offer suggestions to this board of bureaucrats either individually or via established groups such as the Associated Locksmiths of America and other local organizations; however, these suggestions are not binding and the board of bureaucrats have nearly unlimited discretion in writing rules and regulations which affect how each locksmith engages in his/her business.   

Returning to Ezra Taft Benson’s explanation of the Proper Role of Government, he stated:

“The important thing to keep in mind is that the people who have created their government can give to that government only such powers as they, themselves, have in the first place. Obviously, they cannot give that which they do not possess.”

The idea wasn’t original to Benson; he having borrowed from John Locke nearly 300 years earlier.

“For nobody can transfer to another more power than he has in himself, and nobody has an absolute arbitrary power over himself, or over any other, to destroy his own life, or take away the life of property of another.” (Two Treatises of Civil Government, II, 135; P.P.N.S. p. 93)

If you want that boiled down into modern English it means no matter how many other individuals want to enforce a rule or regulation, a regulation authorized by legislation, which in turn was made by those elected by a majority of voters; that body does not have any authority save it belonged to those individuals to begin with.  We live under a republican form of government, not a democracy; an important distinction.  Individual rights cannot be voted out by a majority and two wolves can’t vote to have the lone sheep for dinner.

For example, if I have a locksmith business and you have a locksmith business it would sound pretty silly if I insisted you have specific size lettering on the side of your service truck, one which matched my expectations of reasonable.  I have no more authority to tell you how to run your business than a farmer or carpet installer. 

The same holds true for obtaining or maintaining a locksmith license.  While the state has declared locksmiths must have a license and gone to great lengths to define and regulate the industry, where does the state obtain the authority to tell anyone he/she must have a locksmith license or how many hours of continuing education is sufficient in order to work in his/her chosen field of income production?  The answer is, it doesn’t have that authority because those creating the legislation never had the authority, because the individuals who voted those legislators into positions of power never had the authority.  No individual or group of individuals has the power or right to deprive another individual of a God given right to move about in society making a living.

Here’s the important part, are you ready?  If individuals or group of individuals don’t have the authority to tell you how to run your business they can’t give that authority to their government (DPS/PSB).  Government has no power save it is given them by the governed and only then when such power is in keeping with the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God; where did that come from, oh I know, Our Declaration of Independence.  Read further as it had something to say regarding the consent of the governed:

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed…”

Here's an excerpt from the August 2010 Greater Houston Locksmith Association publication, Locked – In.  My local locksmith association was concerned the DPS/PSB might implement new or modified rules and regulations on the locksmith industry and wants to justify the expense of sending a representative to listen to those proceedings.

“Don Hiser (President of the Greater Houston Locksmith Association, GHLA) attended the July 8th DPS Meeting and gave a report. The top issue was the proposal to allow the substitution of a locksmith training course for the 2yrs of experience required to apply for a business license (the motion was tabled). Second is the requirement to submit a new fingerprint card when renewing a license or registration card (sent to committee). Independent Reports were also circulated from Billy Garrett (TLA President) and Bonnie Brown Morse covering the same meeting.”

While it’s wonderful to have members of our professional/trade organizations represented at meetings to offer suggestions to a governing body (DPS/PSB) and return with information which has a bearing on how individual locksmiths are required to conduct business in the State of Texas; it must be emphasized, none of these individuals or groups of individuals has authority to speak for me when it comes to a government entity establishing rules or regulations which affect my individual business.  They never had that authority; it violates a basic precept of our constitutional form of government.  If you’ve been paying attention that means the DPS/PSB does not have the authority to regulate how I conduct business as a locksmith; such authority has been usurped and violates the foundations of our republic.

“The important thing to keep in mind is that the people who have created their government can give to that government only such powers as they, themselves, have in the first place. Obviously, they cannot give that which they do not possess.”

Here’s a solution, one which would fit within the framework established by our Founding Fathers while at the same time placate the Nanny state mentality.  In those professions/trades where governing bodies have established a desire/need to license practitioners; doctors, lawyers, engineers or even locksmiths, then make it known that the license is a symbol of that individual’s having achieved or met a standard set by his peers rather than an enforcement mechanism which would deprive or inhibit any individual from applying his/her God given right to move about in society applying specific skills; in short, Caveat emptor , let the buyer beware.

Historically there’s another meaning applied to Caveat emptor which goes back to ancient Egyptian times rather than Roman, suggesting it meant “to deal in good faith”.  I find that remarkably important; the difference between “let the buyer beware” and “to deal in good faith”.

Such is the fate of America; do we work on the premise that most of our citizens go about their business dealing with their fellow citizens in good faith or have we sunk to a lower level wherein we assume the worst of our fellow citizens, believing that the only way to preserve stability is for the hand of government to step in and provide a modicum of fairness?

There is a tendency for the public to demand safety from “evil doers”, as if anyone, much less government, could guarantee safe passage.  This is the basis for creating a Nanny State, the all powerful parent figure who will look both ways for you prior to crossing the street, read the ingredients of your food prior to your consuming too much saturated fat, prevent scammers from bilking old folks out of their life savings on home repairs which never get done after paying for these services in cash or any of life’s pit falls.  The responsibility for what life throws at you is ultimately yours. 

When society requests or demands legislation to protect them from “evil does” it is, at the same time, demanding “righteous doers” relinquish God given or natural rights; hardly an equitable trade and one never intended or permitted under our constitutional form of government.  Is that why some would have us believe the constitution is a flexible document, to bring about changes to basic concepts of freedom so they could be distorted and perverted?

“The important thing to keep in mind is that the people who have created their government can give to that government only such powers as they, themselves, have in the first place. Obviously, they cannot give that which they do not possess.”

The war between those who desire to be free and those intent on enslaving us is a never ending battle.  The image of soldiers falling under fire doesn’t do the concept of war justice.  Each day we as citizens serving in our limited capacities; teachers, carpet salesmen, doctors, lawyers and even locksmiths must take up the cause of freedom.  Each generation of Americans needs to understand the slim difference between citizenship and servitude.

Oh! thus be it ever, when freemen shall stand
Between their loved home and the war’s desolation!
Blest with victory and peace, may the heav’n rescued land
Praise the Power that hath made and preserved us a nation.
Then conquer we must, when our cause it is just,
And this be our motto: “In God is our trust.”
And the star-spangled banner in triumph shall wave
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave!

This article has been cross posted to The Moral Liberal , a publication whose banner reads, “Defending The Judeo-Christian Ethic, Limited Government, & The American Constitution”.

Wednesday, August 04, 2010

What’s in your wallet?

Most of you have seen a series of credit card commercials with Vikings smashing things all over town followed by the line, “What’s in your wallet”. I like the one where the Viking pushes coins into his desktop computer slot to make a deposit; still makes me laugh.

Just south of Houston there’s the town of Sugarland where apparently a fellow’s pretending to be a policeman. He’s been going around asking folks to open their wallets under the pretence of conducting an investigation, even showing them a gold badge. While they’re distracted he steals a credit card or two and later goes on a shopping spree. What’s in your wallet?

When I was on night shift a fellow officer arrested a fellow and, while putting him in the holding tank, realized the suspect’s wallet was nowhere to be found. He went back to his patrol car, nothing. During the arrest, handcuffing and search the wallet had been placed on the trunk deck of the patrol car and never made it into the property envelope.

He asked me to drive back out to the scene of the arrest and again, nothing. He explained the loss of property to the station Sergeant, knowing full well that the final responsibility rested with him. The wallet and whatever was claimed to be inside would come out of the officer’s pay.

About that time the suspect interrupted, “That’s alright, Sir; weren’t no money in it; just some old pieces of paper is all’s was in it.”

My friend pulled out a twenty dollar bill and showed it to the suspect, “Will this cover the cost of a new wallet?”

“That’s way too much; just a cheap K-Mart wallet, five of six dollars will do.”

In an unrelated story which happened many years earlier the Department received a number of complaints from folks who’d been arrested for drunk and disorderly conduct. Money was stolen from their wallets, or so went the complaints; but it’s not uncommon for liars to lie and most of complaints turn out to be unfounded.

There was an unusual spike of this particular complaint centered in the northeast side of town, enough that red flags began waving on statistical data alone. Internal Affairs used arrest dates and times matched with man power rosters to figure out which officer or officers might be suspect; all indicators pointed to one officer.

The trap was set; a marked fifty dollar bill placed in the wallet of a wino followed by a dispatched call to that particular officer. The suspected officer/thief arrested the wino, placed him in jail and went back to his patrol area. Internal Affairs observed the entire incident, called the officer in question back to the station where they established that the officer had indeed stolen the marked fifty dollar bill.

The story made headlines in the Chronicle for a couple of days and the officer was fired. I don’t remember what criminal charges were filed or what transpired down the line; but a bad apple was removed from the barrel. It’s a sad day when a police officer violates the public trust.

Not too many weeks later I was attending an eight hour in-service First Aid course offered and conducted by the Red Cross at the police academy. A couple of officers from areas across the city were there, all as happy to be cooped up in a classroom as I was.

The instructor was sincere in his attempts to remind each officer of life saving techniques we’d all been exposed to while cadets at the academy; observe, clear the air way and if needed administer mouth to mouth until the ambulance arrived. After the presentation officers were picked at random and asked questions; looking for verification the information had been taken in. He pointed to me while putting a scenario together in his mind, offering a situation which would challenge my recollection of first aid procedures.

“Officer Stern, you’re patrolling your area and come across a man down in a ditch. What’s the first thing you’re going to do?”

“That all depends, Sir.” A slight grin surfaced as I baited the hook.

“Officer Stern, I don’t understand; depends on what?” He couldn’t see how a medical emergency would be affected by what area of town it occurred.

“It depends on what part of town you’re patrolling, Sir. For instance, if you’re on the northeast side of town the first thing you’d do is go through the man’s wallet.”

The room full of officers let out a knee slapping roll of laughter; my sarcastic remark having brightened up an otherwise elongated day. I should point out not everyone thought it was funny; the two officers attending from the N/E substation, they were not smiling. The black eye given the Department was because of one of their crew; he’d worked along side them and may even have considered himself their friend. So, what’s in your wallet?

This article has been cross posted to The Moral Liberal , a publication whose banner reads, “Defending The Judeo-Christian Ethic, Limited Government, & The American Constitution”.