Friday, August 29, 2008

Weston and camping

I love to camp and study history, so this Labor day weekend I'm going to do both. Weston is a historic town that was once a bustling trade center on the east bank of the Missouri River.

However, Mother Nature conspired against mankind yet again and the river channel moved west. Weston is now somewhat frozen in time. It is a great place to relax and get a sense of what the past was like.

There's a link if you want to read more.

Two Americas, a nation divided against itself cannot stand.

Brigid shared her thoughts about pie cutting and Ayn Rand. Many agree with her. Some disagree. And a few describe her as "arrogant" and "ignorant".

Such is life in the "Two Americas" of the workers and the greedy few. The Progressive movement is nothing new. Why anyone would associate its most recent orator, Sen. Obama, with hope and change escapes me. Sen. Obama hasn’t offered anything new. It is the same vagueness about government taking a little from the exploiters to close the gap between them and the exploited advanced for more than a century. It hasn't worked yet, and not for lack of trying.

The ignorant, arrogant journalists at the New York Times published an article Aug. 16, “Seeing Tougher Race, Allies ask Obama to make ‘Hope' specific.”

““I particularly hope he strengthens his economic message — even Senator Obama can speak more clearly and specifically about the kitchen-table, bread-and-butter issues like high energy costs,” said Gov. Ted Strickland of Ohio. “It’s fine to tell people about hope and change, but you have to have plenty of concrete, pragmatic ideas that bring hope and change to life.”

Sen. Obama will tax the excessive, windfall profits of “Big Oil” and use some of the tribute money to give exploited Americans a $1,000 rebate. But he doesn’t address how he can force foreign-based corporations such as Dutch Royal Shell and the huge oil companies in Saudia Arabia, Russia, Venezuela, Brazil, Mexico, Iran, and China that dwarf U.S.-based energy corporations to pay taxes. If he can collect them, how will he keep “Big Oil” from raising prices or exporting the oil to friendlier harbors?

Sen. Obama might turn out to be another Barbary pirate and be placed on trial at The Hague. At the very least, he will scramble when the Saudis and Chinese stop funding the national debt, cease propping up our inflated currency, and end trade with us.

Americans have also invested in “Big Oil” and perhaps don’t even know it. Are you paying into a pension fund, saving to send your children to college, pay life insurance premiums, have certificates of deposit with a bank, or have a 401K plan? If you do, you are a stakeholder in “Big Oil.”

Who do we expect to bail out financial institutions when they fail? Could it be the promise of a $1,000 rebate could keep us from retirement or our children from obtaining the American Dream?

Al Gore compared Sen. Obama to the first Republican president, Abraham Lincoln, during the Democratic National Convention. Yet President Lincoln warned us that a nation divided against itself cannot stand. Progressives speak of fairness, a redistribution of wealth from greedy corporations and fat cats to those defined as exploited--Two Americas.

This is one nation. We imperil the republic to treat it otherwise.

Republicans sleep through economics and history courses, too, and that is why that party lost control of Congress in 2006.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

A fabulous day in the country

I'm working on a non-political post, one about the revolver that Elmer Keith said he used the backstrap of to cut his baby teeth.

But I've been known to take tangents. I get lost a lot. Life is full of right and left turns. The turns almost always vary in angle, but they are left or right turns nonetheless. Of course, one can not turn at all or choose to travel straight up or down. There may be exceptions to the rule, but they escape me now. I need more coffee.

There are the right or left turns Jesus described in Matthew 25: 31-46. That passage is a good compass. It can get us home when the GPS has lost power.

Jesus told us we cannot serve two masters. It is sort of like looking in the rear view mirror while applying makeup and lacking proper focus to reach a destination safely. No, I've never applied makeup while driving or otherwise. No amount of makeup will help this face. But I've worked some wrecks where that was the contributing factor. One makes steering errors when they're distracted by the concerns of this world.

It is a fabulous day, full of hope and promise. It is a day of new beginnings. This isn't "the worst I've ever seen it!", to quote a man I met at an Amtrak station this summer. To believe so allows us to be steered into wrong turns by our fears, lust, greed and other passions. Our perceptions of how flawed the world is can steer us the way of the goats.

May we all look at the people on our left or right or with varied worldviews from ours and see them with eyes of love. The beloved disciple John wrote, "God is love." We were all shaped in the image of our Creator, who did not build us exactly the same. Yet we are one in the body of Christ.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

More about faces

Barack Obama is the new face in this year's presidential horserace. Change we can believe in.

Thinking back to the two faces from yesterday's clipper botch, I realized Barry and I possess commonalities. We share the same generation and both of our mothers are Kansas natives. We're fathers, college grads, urbane, and both members of minorities. Most of all, our faces are not new at all. We have history behind us.

If you doubt Barack and I are brothers in arms fighting for truth, justice, and ethics reform and both actively involved in solving the challenges of everyday Americans and uniting them in a politicis of purpose, you've been deceived by the false and divisive methods of our opponents.

We also know the address of the U.S. Department of Justice and can craft media releases.

Yes, we both write very long sentences. We also cling to every word Mrs. Obama utters such as these from an appearance at UCLA earlier this year:

"Barack Obama will require you to work. He is going to demand that you shed your cynicism. That you put down your divisions. That you come out of your isolation, that you move out of your comfort zones. That you push yourselves to be better. And that you engage. Barack will never allow you to go back to your lives as usual, uninvolved, uninformed. You have to stay at the seat at the table of democracy with a man like Barack Obama not just on Tuesday but in a year from now, in four years from now, in eights years from now, you will have to be engaged."

We share perceptions of democracy with another old face, Mao Zedong, a fellow combatant of smear merchants and opponents of change.

"At home, we must unite all the nationalities, democratic classes, democratic parties, people's organizations and patriotic democrats and consolidate the great, prestigious revolutionary united front already in existence. Whoever contributes to the consolidation of this revolutionary united front is doing right, and we welcome him; whoever harms this consolidation is doing wrong, and we oppose him. To consolidate the revolutionary united front, we must use the method of criticism and self-criticism. ... This is an excellent method, which impels everyone of us to uphold truth and rectify error, and it is the only correct method for all revolutionary people to educate and remould themselves in a people's state. The people's democratic dictatorship uses two methods. Towards the enemy, it uses the method of dictatorship, that is, for as long a period of time as is necessary it does not permit them to take part in political activity and compels them to obey the law of the People's Government, to engage in labour and, through such labour, be transformed into new men. Towards the people, on the contrary, it uses the method of democracy and not of compulsion, that is, it must necessarily let them take part in political activity and does not compel them to do this or that but uses the method of democracy to educate and persuade. Such education is self-education for the people, and its basic method is criticism and self-criticism."

Mold, shape, compel, educate, unite, and demand us to sit at the table you set, Brother Barry. Our opponents have hidden behind the checks and balances of the Constitution, including the First Amendment, for too long. We need a king. Let us annoint him.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

The most quiet room in the house.

We're blessed with several privvy visits of lore. Elvis leaving the world from a Graceland water closet, Old Mother Hubbard fetching beer from the outhouse for her dog, and Thomas Crapper improving upon the work of Italian plumbers in service to the Queen. Then there are outhouse legends such as the lantern-waving lady ghost of Plimoth Plantation. We also have the history of Andy Gump, originator of those blue, plastic, rental outhouses parked at county fairs, construction zones, and the National Mall during protests and rallies.

Private toilets are quiet and are usually equipped with locks. Some thoughtful people keep a stock of magazines and books in theirs. Others run phone and Cat5e cables into their johns, which is something I'll never do. The throne room should remain an elemental place. Advances in wireless technology have made that pointless at any rate. However, the bathroom is a place where one can think tangentially. Unless someone starts pounding on the door . . .

Well, anyhow, I went into the lavatory at midday to clean up before a rare trip to town. While trimming my beard, the guage popped off the clippers. I drew the clippers back too late, which reminded me how terrified my two-year-old daughter was the last time I butched up my beard and had to shave it off. She cried and wouldn't come near me for weeks. That was 12 years ago, and since I was going to town to pick up very-same daughter for a doctor's appointment, I attempted to blend in the damage with a little more clipper work.

It worked somewhat like expecting body putty and chicken wire to renew a rusted-out '67 Mustang. The plastic guage again popped off. It went into the trash where it was soon met by a lot of gray whiskers.

After disposable razor work, the mirror face was the same one that petrified my daughter. The faint scars from accidents and fights each brought back a memory. The personnel-manual habits came back as I leveled out the sideburns and trimmed the moustache. Not many wrinkles were hiding under there, which was surprising. The face shows age, but it is all above eye level.

The toddler-turned-teenager didn't notice I had shaved for at least 15 minutes. Then she rolled her eyes. No tears in sight. Just sheer orneriness.

"The kids these days!"

Monday, August 25, 2008

As American as Pie

Tonight millions of Americans will face television without the 2008 Bejing Olympics. Instead thousands of satellite trucks parked outside Denver's Pepsi Center will transmit us the 2008 Democratic National Convention.

With such riveting entertainment, I should set down in front of the old CRT with a piece of apple pie ala mode and watch tonight's keynote speaker, Michelle Obama. I'm not going to watch, with pie or not, because Michelle wants the damn pie. And even though the image consultants are trying to tone her down, she looks mean enough to try to wrestle it away from me right here in my isolated, dusty, comfort zone called home.

Harvard-educated Michelle said this April 8 to a group of hopeful, North Carolina mothers:

"Most Americans don’t want much. They don’t want the whole pie. There are some who do, but most Americans feel blessed just being able to thrive a little bit. But that is becoming even more out of reach. The truth is, in order to get things like universal health care and a revamped education system, then someone is going to have to give up a piece of their pie so that someone else can have more."

Michelle, I'm not going to give you my pie. After all, your trial-lawyer friends who have been involved in litigation targeting fast-food corporations will tell you pie is bad for your health. In fact I think I will look after your best interests and never allow a pie past the oven door again.

I'm not as stout as Atlas, Michelle, and you're rather hefty. Let me set you down. The exercise will do you good. By the way, my 27-inch Sanyo CRT is a bit long in the tooth. Do you mind if I come to Chicago and boost one of your 60-inch plasma rigs?