Category Archives: Comentary

Who Are These People?

Republicanlogo.svgThese days I’m finding it hard to recognize my fellow conservatives. Conservatism used to be about free markets, a strong national defense, secure borders, a low tax burden, and limiting governmental control of our daily lives. We believed that The Constitution was the law of the land and was to be taken literally. It was not a “living document” to be interpreted at whim by the situational ethics of the day. We recognized that government was necessary and its purpose was to preserve the natural rights endowed upon all mankind, and enumerated in The Bill of Rights.

After suffering though the years of national degradation that Progressivism had burdened us with, we finally had a chance to step into the light. Out of all the potential presidential candidates, one knew the Constitution inside out, was well versed in foreign affairs, was articulate, inspiring, and an accomplished debater. His values were conservative values, and he had the courage to stand up for them. It seemed that Conservatism finally had a bold leader and the choice for President was clear. Then came Donald Trump.

I get the anger and frustration over Washington’s indifference to the will of the voters. I completely understand how Conservatives feel betrayed by the GOP. It seems that the majority of our representatives from all levels of government are only working for their own self-interests. What I don’t get is how any true Conservative can think that Donald Trump is the answer. He is a crony capitalist who has supported whatever politician he can get the most use out of, Democrat or Republican. His business ethics are questionable. His ventures have met with bankruptcy four times. His supporters know these undisputable facts, and have publicly stated, “they don’t care”. Trump is arrogant and petulant. His supporters know this, and still “they don’t care”. When asked why they support Trump, his followers almost always say, “he’s not afraid to say what he thinks”. That is certainly true. Trump has shot his mouth off and had to walk back his comments time and again, and still his supporters don’t care. As if unrestrained outspokenness is the only qualification for the leader of the free world. Trump’s supporters believe any explanation for his statements and behavior, no matter how embarrassing that behavior, or how well documented. These same people also believe any negative about Ted Cruz, no matter how obscure or questionable the website from where it originated. They consider the tabloids to be a trusted news source. They defend Trump with the fervent, mindless, zeal of cult followers. The belligerent reactions, to hecklers and protesters at Trump rallies, seems more in place at an Occupy Protest, than a Tea Party rally. Conservatives used to have more class than that.

Progressivism, Socialism and their big brother Communism, used to be the enemies of Conservatism. Now, thanks to the “Trump Train”, the only enemy of Conservatism seems to be the Republican Establishment. And to those who believe in Trump, anyone who isn’t a Trump supporter or a Democrat is an Establishment Republican. As much as I hate to say it, I agree with Hillary, “America has always been great, what it needs is to be made whole again”. Of course Hillary or (G-d forbid) Bernie are not the people to restore our nation, but true Conservatives cannot do it either, if they are being encouraged by the Trump Campaign to fight among themselves, and split into two parties.

For me, and many other Conservatives “dump Trump” isn’t about preserving the Republican Party. I couldn’t care a flying fig what happens to the GOP. “Dump Trump” is about preserving our nation. Those of you, who are still on the fence, trying to decide between Trump and Cruz, ask yourself why you are still on the fence. You probably want to support Trump, after all it seems a majority of  Conservatives do, but that little voice deep down inside says that something about this guy just doesn’t add up. Listen to that voice, the fate of our country might very well depend on it.

9/11 My Thoughts

Every generation has it’s defining moments.   Those events where you can remember where you were and what you were doing at that time.   I can remember three such events during my lifetime, the moon landing, the Challenger explosion,… 9/ 11.  I know we all have our recollections of that day.  Here are mine.

We were stationed at RAF Lakenheath, in England at the time.  There were two other bases nearby and we were living in the housing units just outside of one of those bases.   The circular street, called a close, had about twenty-five, neat brick houses surrounded by a fence.  It was just outside of the main gate of RAF Feltwell, just outside of a village with the same name.

“G” was taking his nap and I turned on the TV to CNN.  It was nearly two o’clock in the afternoon.  I watched what I thought was a report about a terrible airline accident.  Then, live on the TV I watched as a second airliner circled around and crashed into the South Tower.  As I sat transfixed watching the events unfold, it still hadn’t sunk in that this was a deliberate attack.  Then came the crash at the Pentagon.   I know at some point during this time I must have prayed.  Prayers for the people at the Pentagon, prayers for the safety of my family and my husband’s family even though they were thousands of miles from New York and DC.  And prayers for the people trapped inside a house of horrors as I watched through the TV screen as the South Tower collapsed.   I knew life on base was about to get very complicated.  My mind turned to some mundane thoughts.  “Did I have enough milk and bread?  What about diapers?   Heaven forbid I run out of diapers.

It was just after three pm, school had just gotten out and “A” came rushing through the kitchen door.  “Mom, I left my back pack on the play ground and we have to go back and get it.” “We’ll have to hurry before they lock the gates” I told her.  “Why would they lock the gates? “ She asked, unaware of what had just happened.  “I’ll tell you later.” I knew that any minute the base would be going into Threatcon Delta and if the base was locked down we might be stuck there for hours. I grabbed “G” and buckled him into his stroller, grabbed my purse and a couple of diapers, just in case.  We ran a block to the street that separated the houses from the main gate of the base.  As I showed the guard my ID, I asked him how long we had before he would be locking down.  He gave me a strange look and said he wasn’t closing the gate.  Obviously he didn’t know yet.  We ran to the playground, found the backpack, then ran the couple of blocks back to the gate.   We crossed the street just as the guard pulled the big iron gates, that would block vehicles from coming on to the base, closed with a loud clang.

Why did we have to run?  Why did they close the gates?  How do you tell an eight-year-old child that we are at war and maybe in danger?  I had to be straightforward.  “A” would not accept a half-truth.  We sat down and watched as the events continued to unfold on the TV.  Some people thought that it was wrong to let a child see the coverage.  But I have never lied to my children even when the news might be hard to bear.   The phone rang.  It was the hubs calling to say he would be home late.  “I know,” I said.  Then hung up the phone.  I know at sometime during the evening I called my family.  Even though I knew they were fine, I need to hear it from them, and “A” needed to know that they were OK.

The next morning, the gates to our housing unit were locked.   In front of the pedestrian gate where the kids would meet the lollipop lady that helped them across the road, was a Humvee with a .50 caliber machine gun on top.  For the next three days we were locked in.  Only the active duty military members were allowed in or out on their way to and from work.  No school, and very little information about what we were supposed to do.  This was new territory for us military spouses.  Some kept their blinds closed, others kept their lights off after dark.  The BX was closed, the Commissary was closed.  After a few days the walls began to close in.  We decided it was safe to let our kids play outside.  Under the watchful eyes of the guard, we walked by the gate.  There on the other side of the street in front of the entrance to the base was a mound of flowers.  Our English neighbors showed their support in so many ways.  The Queen even ordered that “The Star Spangled Banner” be played at the Changing of the Guard at Buckingham Palace.  The only time another country has been so honored.

Slowly we settled in to what was now the “new normal”.  The Humvee was replaced with a portable guard shack.  The gates were open, but were filled with iron obstacles that resembled giant jacks.  The kids having to show ID’s to the gate guard,  the vehicle searches and the dogs became routine.  As we once again returned to the villages we were often greeted with, “we’re so glad to see you out and about”.  It wasn’t the greeting of shop owners, glad for the returning business; it was the kind of greeting you would give a friend who was finally outside after recovering from a serious illness.

The whole experience was surreal.  As I went about my normal routine, it seemed somehow inappropriate to do so.   After so many had lost their life, it seemed wrong to go to the market, to go out to eat or to the pub, or go to London to do some Christmas shopping.  But carry on we did, because to do otherwise, was to let the terrorists win.

My most poignant memory of that time did not happen on 9/11 or the days following.  It came several months later.  “A” was learning patriotic songs in music class.  In her backpack I found a paper the music teacher had given them, and this was what she had doodled on the page.

911

The patriotism, the pride, the tribute of an eight-year-old girl.  There is hope for this country after all.

 

It has been a year since I first published this post, and now we face the very real threat of another attack inside our own borders.  Our enemies are emboldened by an American President whose entire political career has been immersed in Liberal Progressive ideology.  An ideology grounded on the belief that there is no such thing as true evil. Therefore, there are no principles worth fighting or dieing for.  In spite of a tough sounding speech, I have very little confidence that Obama will have the will or the means to  “degrade and destroy ISIL“.  His use of the term ISIL instead of ISIS shows that he is willing to afford this group a measure of respect.  In his speech he mentioned, once again, his imagined authority to act without Congress.  This should worry every American citizen, because Congress is supposed to function as the representative of the people.  Whenever Obama says he will act without the approval or coöperation of Congress, what he is really saying is that he will act without the approval or coöperation of the people.  His reluctant conclusion that something must be done about ISIS is not seated in his love for the United States or its citizens, but for political expedience only.  I still believe there is hope for this country, but we face some uncertain times ahead.

Modern Day Minutemen?

“We stand for freedom, for our rights, for social independence, for democracy, for freedom of speech, for everything, for a normal life,” she told The Associated Press from her hospital bed in Kiev. Excerpt from interview with Olesya Zhukovska

The words of this young woman, an ordinary Ukrainian citizen, a paramedic, should strike a chord with every American.  They should give us pause, to stop and think about how precious these rights are.  Right now in the Ukraine everyday people, most of them young, and middle class, are willing to die for them.  I’ve listened to and read the  interviews of these courageous people.  I am amazed, and shamed by them.  Amazed at their bravery and tenacity, shamed that they are willing to die for what we take for granted.

Sadly, we don’t just take these rights, rights protected by the Constitution, for granted, we are actually begging for them to be taken away.  We ask the federal government to take away our sovereign right to bear arms.  We look the other way when the FCC wants to monitor our newsrooms.  We allow the IRS, a bureaucracy created to impose taxes on us, to dictate our health care.  Is there any logic to that? We are happy to trade our personal freedom for a life free from worry or want. Let the government take care of us, just so long as we do not have to assume responsibility for our own lives.  We willingly elect to office men and women more interested in increasing their own power and pocketbooks than meeting the needs of their constituencies.  If we go to the polls at all, we choose candidates whose names we recognize, who are the best looking, the person our mother told us to vote for, or someone promising more free stuff.  We are gullible and believe pretty speeches.  We don’t expect our press to thoroughly vet our candidates and we don’t demand excellence from our leaders.  We settle for men and women of lesser integrity lest we have to look too deeply at ourselves.

Meanwhile, half a world away there are those who are prepared to die for what we are happily throwing away.   The very rights that generations of our own young men (and women, too) have fought and died to preserve.  The rights that our Founders painstakingly preserved in our Constitution, that we might be a shining example of what a nation can become when its people are free.  The kind of nation that the Ukrainian protesters are trying to create for themselves.

Yes, we should be ashamed

Sense and Syria

English: President Bashar al-Assad, Aleppo, Ab...

English: President Bashar al-Assad, Aleppo, Abbarah square (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

As Obama rushes headlong into an ill-conceived and unwinnable altercation with Syria, I find myself asking, why. I’m skeptical that the current resident is really concerned with America’s image as a military superpower, since he has sought to undo that perception ever since he took office.  No, Obama is a Socialist Liberal through and through, and one of Liberalism’s favorite imperatives is, “it’s for the children”.  The only justifiable reason for taking any action against Assad, is that there are innocent civilians caught in the crossfire between his evil regime and an equally evil rebellion. Could it be, that this is how Assad plans to draw us into a conflict that we have no business entering?

By using chemical weapons against his own people, he has goaded the United States into a response.  Like a playground bully who is too cowardly to pick a fight with the big kids, he tortures and teases those who are weaker, until the big kids can no longer stand by and watch the abuse.  He wants us to bomb him.  The only thing the radical Islamist groups hate worse than each other, is Israel, and by association, the United States.  If he can coerce us into waging war against him, he may be able to garner the support of his Muslim neighbors and maybe even some of the rebels themselves.  Once America’s involvement is secured, it’s all the reason any Muslim country needs to attack Israel.  It is a brilliant strategy.  After all, nothing unifies quite like having a common enemy.  Just ask Hitler.

If Obama is hoping that this is his chance to appear as a confident Commander-in-Chief, he is sadly mistaken. He will be seen as a gullible fool. One who was tricked into entering a conflict that will cost us much, gain us nothing, and will further diminish our standing in the world for years to come.

A New Kind of Slavery

Segregation of Restrooms

Segregation of Restrooms (Photo credit: Universal Pops)

Since the verdict of the George Zimmerman trial, I have watched the reactions from all sides with a sense of frustration. More than once I have found myself shouting at the radio, TV, or computer screen “just what do you want from us?”  The supporters of Trayvon and his family were adamant in their desire for a fair trial, for justice.   Once granted that trial and justice being served, they now want another trial in Federal Court under civil rights violations.  OK, just what was it that you wanted?  Justice or vengeance?  The leaders in the black community are calling for an end to racial profiling. However, they refuse to earnestly acknowledge that it is the violent behavior of many young black men, and the undisputable fact that young black men commit a disproportionate number of crimes, that are the causes of such profiling.  Instead, race-baiters like Jesse Jackson, Al Sharpton, and local black leadership foment an unreasonable fear of white people, and authority.  Many black parents now teach their children to keep their hands in view and speak respectfully to police officers. They tell them not to wear baggy pants, hoodies in the summer or let their underwear show.  They teach them not to be out late at night or hang out in certain areas or with known gang-bangers.  They  teach their children that they must do these things not to instill better values, but because white people have an irrational fear of black people and because of this, young black men are always in danger of being unfairly incarcerated or worse.  Funny thing is, these are some of the same things I have taught my kids.  Not because they might be the victims of a perceived injustice, but because it is the correct way to behave.  You are supposed to have respect for authority, and to dress and behave respectfully, if you want to be respected yourself.

There is clearly a disconnect between how the black community and the white community perceive identical situations.  In the white community, it makes perfect sense to assume that someone who dresses like, talks like, and has the same swaggering posture as a thug, is a thug.  According to the black community we should not make such assumptions unless the person has actually committed a crime against us. Mind you, it’s OK for blacks to be suspicious of other blacks, but if it is done by a white person, it’s profiling and should be illegal.   To most business owners, it is a sound business practice to analyze inventory and to secure merchandize that is often stolen.   If those items happen to be frequently purchased by blacks, then it is not business, it’s racism.

Almost without exception, black people will tell you of how they have been followed by store clerks, heard the locking of doors, and witnessed white people clutching their purses tighter when they approached. Even the President told of his experience.  I know that personally, when I meet a black person, unless that person, is dressed like or acting like a thug, I don’t behave that way. In fact, I can’t think of anyone I know who does. Could the experiences passed down from generations past, documented  accounts of past horrid treatment at the hands of whites, affect how you perceive your world today?  Could it be perhaps, that you have been conditioned by your culture to expect this kind of treatment and are hyper-sensitive to it?

No one in my generation, black or white, has attended a segregated school, used a segregated bathroom, eaten at a segregated lunch counter or knew anyone who owned or was a slave.  Our parents may have, our grandparents surly did.  But that was two generations ago.  We get it. We really do. Judging someone by the color of their skin is wrong.  It’s why we no longer form lynch mobs, or petition to keep black people out of our neighborhoods.  It’s why we think nothing of working, shopping or commuting with our black neighbors. The thought of returning to the pre-civil rights era is as abhorrent to us as it is to the black community.  That is why whites in America are becoming increasingly frustrated at being judged for what our ancestors did to your ancestors.

Told by politicians pandering for their votes, a media desperate for ratings and leaders within their own community hungry for power, that they deserve reparation, many of today’s blacks are no longer content with seeking a level playing field and a color blind society, they seek retribution.  By allowing themselves to be used by leaders more interested in increasing their own power, and by becoming dependent on government entitlements, the black community has embraced victim-hood.  By doing so, they have willingly become slaves all over again.  And this time no amount of white guilt can undo the damage.  It’s something the black community must do for itself.

What Did They Fight For?

From each according to his ability. To each according to his need.

English: Changing of the Guard at the Tomb of ...

Consider this quote from Karl Marx for a moment.  Imagine a society where you are free to pursue your passions.  Do you like to write poetry?  Fine you can spend all day writing poetry without worring where your next meal is coming from.  Have you always dreamed of healing the sick?  You can go to medical school without worrying about crushing debt.  Enjoy music?  Sit on the corner and play your guitar all day then go home to a mortgage-free house.  Have a talent for fixing cars?  Open up your own garage and don’t worry about overhead costs.  To the Socialist Progressive, this is the goal.  A moneyless society where everything belongs to everyone and the abilities balance out the needs.  A place where, without the encumbrance of providing for our basic necessities, there will be enough people who are smart enough to become doctors, engineers and scientists, enough people know how to grow crops, make clothes, and build houses, enough people who enjoy flipping burgers, picking up trash and scrubbing toilets, to balance out those who don’t.  Sounds wonderful doesn’t it?  No one has less than anyone else.  Everyone is a Prole.  But…….. No one can ever have more.  No matter how hard you work, how much you apply yourself, you will never have any more than the slackerd who donates his time and nothing more to the collective.

It is man’s basic human nature to desire a reward for his hard work and ingenuity.  To take pride in caring for the things he owns.  When these feelings are suppressed and made out to be evil, gone is the incentive to build, create, improve.   It is basic human nature that the Socialist Progressive ignores.  Most people will not willingly hand over rightfully owned property.   We are not meant to merely survive and when reduced to that existence we will cease to produce.  The idea of a self-perpetuating Communist utopia is a lie.  In order for there to be enough makers to feed the takers, someone must be in charge.  Someone who maintains the balance of farmers, factory workers, skilled labor, and entertainers.  The promise of pursued passions is replaced by assigned careers, and forced labor camps.  The Communist goal of freeing people from the slavery of the factory owner, replaced by slavery to the government.  This is the great irony of the Socialist Progressive movement.   You do not need to look any farther than our recent past, to Nazi Germany, Communist Russia, China, and North Korea, to find evidence that this is so.

The United States was never meant to be a place where we are controlled by the government.  Every Article, Section, and word of the Constitution and Bill of rights, were carefully drafted to protect the rights of the people to control their own destinies, own property, and enjoy the fruits of their labors.  Read the Bill of Rights.  Then realize that every one of those freedoms were paid for with blood.  The heros of the Revolutionary war understood the kind of life they would lead if ruled by a tyrannical government, and they were willing to die to prevent that from happening.  From that time on, our American military has fought time and again to stop the spread of tyranny thoughout the world.  From freeing  slaves, stopping the spread of Communism, to keeping Islamic terrorism from our shores.

We don’t like war.  The whole idea is abhorrent to us, and it should be.  But consider this quote from George Orwell,

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

The phrase “Freedom isn’t free” is not just a tired cliche’.  It is the truth.  Men and women have died defending the ideals of our Constitution.  As we go about our business and barbecues this weekend, take a few minutes to think about how we as a nation have honored their sacrifice.   We have elected to office men and women who seek only to increase their own power, whose idea of a perfect America is closer to that of Marx than that of Jefferson. We have allowed our own government to attempt to disarm us, and to use its power to intimidate and silence us.

We should honor our fallen veterans by demanding our government be accountable to us.  To demand that our government uses our taxes funds wisely, and respects our individual freedoms.  We have a responsibility as citizens to be informed, to show up and vote, and vote wisely. It is not too late to take our government back.  Don’t let our heros’ deaths be in vain.

Marriage Air Force Style

090611-F-1942W-207

A few months ago, my niece who lives some distance away, sent me a message with the following question.

         Was it hard being an air force wife? My boyfriend is starting to get ready for talking to recruiters and I just wanted to know if he were to get in and one day we got married how hard would it be to be an air force wife?

I spent fifteen years as a “dependent wife”.  This was a term I always despised so I came up with a better title: Military Household Management Specialist.  During this time, I have to say that I met some of the most, immature, self-absorbed, and incompetent women on the face of the earth.  Every deployment, every inconvenience was met with petulant whining and clever manipulation.  Deprived of their husbands, they expected the First Sergeants to find suitable substitutes for grass mowing, snow shoveling, car repairs, even light bulb changing and taking out the garbage.  And when the nights got too long and too cold, they found comfort in the arms of other men.  I had no respect for such women, and fortunately they were rare.  More often, I met women who were the epitome of grace, dignity, patriotism, and pride.  These strong and self-sufficient women became my role models.  They endured much.  Multiple births, major surgeries, cancer treatments, the deaths of loved ones.  All these born alone with husband and family members thousands of miles away.  Military wives help each other through these hardships and form lifelong bonds that transcend time and distance.  If the dreaded official car stops in front of your house, they are the ones who hold you up.  At the same time knowing, “there but for the grace of God”.  These are the women who inspired me.  They also humbled me. For I was blessed. Even though there were plenty of headaches, and hardships, missed anniversaries, Christmases and birthdays, my husband was there for the births of his children, and retired from service healthy and whole. Friday was Military Spouse Appreciation Day.  In honor of those who are still living the life, and those who are contemplating it, here, at the suggestion of my niece, is the answer I gave to her question.

There’s no easy one-size fits all answer to that question. I can tell you that being in the military is a hard life for families, but it can be a good and rewarding life if you have the right attitude. You have to understand that in the military the mission ALWAYS comes first. We were taught that in a Christian marriage, you put the needs of your spouse first, but it cannot be that way in a military marriage, you have to accept that you will be second, not because he wants it that way, but because it has to be that way. He might not get to be there for the birth of his children. He will miss birthdays, anniversaries, and Christmases and it will be as hard on you as it will be for him. You will move often and you will be thousands of miles away from your family and friends back home. You will be lonely and your non-military friends will not be able to relate to the life you now lead. You will need to be self-sufficient. You will have to mow grass, change light bulbs, take out the trash, and kill spiders for yourself. While your husband is deployed you will need to take responsibility for running the household. You will need to know how to pay bills, file taxes, and balance the checkbook. You will need to be trustworthy, because he will have to leave you his power of attorney, giving you the ability to handle any personal legal business for him. This will also give you the power to ruin him financially, so you have to be a woman of character. You will have to ask yourself, if you would be able to accept that he might have to kill someone in the line of duty. Would knowing that he did, change how you feel about him? You have to prepare yourself mentally for the possibility that he might be killed, but not to constantly dwell on that or you will drive yourself crazy. You will also have to teach your children how to deal with this as well. But to tell you the truth, it is worth it. You will be an important part of the support system that enables military men and women to do their jobs and get home safely. With the grace of God, you will grow and mature in ways you can’t even imagine now. You will be able to handle crisis and hardships that you never thought you could. You will get to go places and see things that you might never have the opportunity to if you weren’t a military spouse. You get to buy groceries at the commissary and shop at the BX and save a lot of money by doing so. You get military discounts at lots of stores.  You will gain the support and friendship of other military spouses. Most importantly, you get to be proud to be married to a man who is fighting to bring liberty and freedom to the world. You get to carry with you the satisfaction of knowing that the sacrifices you make, help to secure the peace of the only nation on earth that recognizes that our rights are granted by God and not government.  The most important thing you can do, is to be honest with your boyfriend about how you feel about being a military spouse. Share with him your fears and feelings now, before he signs up. If you get married, it won’t be just him serving; it will be the both of you and your children as well. This is a decision you should make together.

The Ghost of Christmas “Forward”

My Parents Tree

My Parents Tree (Photo credit: steviep187)

Robert Colton stood in the dining room of his well-appointed home, gazing though the arched opening into the living-room. The Christmas tree sparkled. Its lights dancing off the shining, shredded wrapping paper strewn underneath, the aftermath of the opening of presents.  The scrumptious aroma of turkey, stuffing, and pumpkin pie drifted through the house, teasing the stomachs of its inhabitants. Robert’s mind was not on the scene before him.  He was reflecting on his current state of affairs. The last few years had been a roller-coaster ride for his pest-control business.  When the housing bubble was on the rise, his company was hard-pressed to keep up with the demand for new termite bonds. Then the bubble burst, and the steady stream of new houses, ready to be protected from wood destroying pests, slowed to a trickle, and then a drip.  As the economy worsened, and loyal customers had to tighten their belts, renewing those termite bonds, and keeping the roaches at bay kept getting pushed further down the list of priorities.  Still, with a good business sense, he had managed to keep the company, that he had inherited from his father, prosperous. He thought about the two young men, having a beer by the fireplace. He couldn’t be prouder of both of them.  Mark, his son, had followed him into the family business. Wade, his son-in-law, was a Lieutenant in the Marine Corps. He walked across the room and joined in the conversation. Mark, soon to be a dad for the first time, was expressing his anxiety about being able to provide for the baby he and his wife Jennifer, were expecting in March.  Wade, just home from his second tour in Afghanistan, was happy to be sharing the holiday with his wife Hannah, and their five-year-old daughter, Emma.  While he was glad that this was his last tour to the Middle East, he still harbored a tinge of bitterness at ending the war with the job unfinished.  He couldn’t help feeling that a tour in Iraq and two to Afghanistan, amounted to nothing more than missed birthdays, Christmases and anniversaries wasted.  Iraq wasn’t secure, the Taliban would regain control of Afghanistan, and Al Qaeda still posed a threat to world peace.

“Thank you for the Video Barbie, and the Razor chalk scooter, and the Nabi, Pawpaw.”  “You’re welcome sweetie.”  Emma bounced across the room, and twirled the skirt of her black velvet and plaid taffeta Christmas dress.  Her blond curls, tumbling around her head, gave her an angelic look.  As she danced around the living room playing with her new toys, she embodied all the innocence and hope that makes children her age so precious.  Robert loved doting on his granddaughter and in spite of the half-hearted objections from his daughter and son-in-law, he spoiled her shamelessly.  This year however, the satisfaction he got from generously giving to his children and grandchild was tinged with remorse.  Even through the recession, he was able to hang on to all of his employees.  By improving the efficiency of his business, he was able to maintain the salaries and benefits for his workers, and still provide a quality service at a decent price for his customers.   It had been a difficult balance to maintain.  Every ounce of fat had been cut.  Every waste eliminated.  But now, with the November elections, came a new hurdle to scale.  The impending repeal of the Bush Era tax cuts and the looming expenses of the Affordable Care Act would hit his company hard. He could water down his chemicals and double his prices, but his conscience told him that would drive away business instead of increasing revenue.  And in the process he would irreparably damage the sterling reputation that his father had earned and passed on to him.  He spent hours with his accountants desperately searching for another way, but it was clear he had no choice.  So on the first day of December, it was with a lead heavy heart and a lump in his throat that Robert called all sixty of his employees into his office one by one and told them that in January he would have to let eleven of them go.  “Damn” he though to himself, “these are good people and they don’t deserve this”.  Now he was left with the impossible task of  choosing who to fire.  Many of his employees had been with him for years.  He had been invited to their weddings, then their children’s weddings.  They came to him for advice.  He thought of them as family.

He cared about his employees and tried to help them out whenever he could. So when Mike, one of his technicians came to him a year ago, and asked him for help with his sister, Robert didn’t think twice about it.  Angie was twenty years old with three children. When she found herself pregnant at sixteen, she dropped out of high school and never completed her GED.  Her life was spent with various men who were happy to father children, but had no desire to be fathers to them. Her family had made it clear that they would be willing to help her find a job and get on her feet, but her dead-beat baby daddies were not welcome.  The thought of keeping a schedule and following someone else’s rules did not appeal to her, it was much easier to find a sugar-daddy to pay her bills.  When her last boyfriend was sent to jail for armed robbery, leaving her alone with no employable skills and three mouths to feed, she was finally willing to accept her family’s help.  She moved in with Mike and his wife and agreed to meet with Robert.  After an hour-long interview it was obvious that Angie lacked the skills to work in the office, but Robert wanted to help so he offered her a job as a housekeeper.  Though his wife, Kate, insisted that she didn’t need help around the house, she agreed to give Angie a chance.  Angie was to work from nine to four on weekdays, and have weekends and holidays off.  Her duties were basic housekeeping and laundry but no cooking.  Her pay would be twelve dollars an hour.  A little below the average salary for a housekeeper, but Angie could bring the baby with her to work, and Robert and Kate agreed to pay the daycare expenses for the other two.  Angie and Kate were a case study in personality contrasts. Kate had always taken pride in her home.  She liked things neat and orderly.  The beds were always made and you’d  never find a pile of dirty dishes in her kitchen.  Angie took no pride in her work.  Kate tried to instruct her in proper housekeeping techniques, but Angie insisted on taking shortcuts.  Kate would often find her watching TV in the rec-room while a basket of laundry needed folding in the wash room. Kate was more than happy to give Angie time off to be with her children when they were sick, but it was odd how a trip to the doctor usually included a side trip to the beauty parlor or nail salon.  Then there was the habit Angie had of dropping, not so subtle hints, for clothes and toys for her kids. It was not unusual for Robert to come home and find Kate mopping, vacuuming or finishing up something that Angie should have done.  So they were absolutely dumbfounded when in October, with all the righteous indignation she could muster, Angie approached them and demanded a raise. When Robert pointed out that with her work ethic and skills she would have a hard time finding a job anywhere else, let alone one that provided childcare, Angie announced, without a shred of shame, ” When Obama gets elected next month, I won’t have to worry about getting a job.  The government will pay for my food, rent, and medical care.”  Then she turned, stormed out the door and returned only to collect her last paycheck.

Country Christmas Tree

Country Christmas Tree (Photo credit: Ladycliff)

Arliss Jackson’s modest home sat on an acre of land on the perimeter of a National Forest.  The perfect place for a man who loved to hunt and fish.  Arliss and his wife, Nicole, had begun saving for a down payment as soon as they were married. Fifteen years ago, they bought the land and had a house built on it. Arliss had considered himself lucky.  He knew several men, many of whom were in construction or middle management positions, who had lost their jobs.  So far, thanks to the keen business sense of his boss, his company had managed to avoid layoffs, but now that was changing.  He had begun working during the summer for Colton Pest Control, back when he was still in high school.  Though he was grooming Robert to take over the business, Old Man Colton was still calling the shots and he liked to hire local teenagers to clean up the trucks and the yard, and do other odd jobs around the office.  The old man saw something he liked in Arliss’s attitude and work ethic, so he made him a deal.  If Arliss would keep his grades up, and work to obtain some scholarships, Old Man Colton would  pay the difference for his college degree.  So Arliss worked hard and studied hard, and when he graduated college with a Bachelor’s Degree in Entomology, Robert, who had now taken over the business, hired him as a manager. Robert knew it would be helpful to have someone in the office who could help him navigate the numerous and sometimes incomprehensible labyrinth of EPA regulations that governed the pest control business.  Arliss  enjoyed his job.  He felt a satisfaction in providing a beneficial service.  One that protected property and helped prevent the spread of disease.  He felt a loyalty to Colton Pest Control and to the Colton family who had been more than generous.  When Arliss’s son Levi was born, he had a congenital heart defect that required surgery and a lengthy hospital stay.  Robert told him to take all the time he needed to be with his son and Nicole. He even offered to cover any medical expenses the insurance didn’t.  And when they were finally able to bring Levi home from the hospital, Robert and Kate came to the house with a spaghetti dinner and casseroles for the freezer.  Arliss understood better than any of the other employees, just how heartbroken Robert was to have to let some people go.  Robert was sure to let everyone know how pleased he was with their work, and that who would stay and who would go would be determined purely by the economics of the situation.  Arliss couldn’t shake the foreboding feeling that because he was one of the highest paid employees and worked mostly in the office and not out in the field, that he would be one of the first to go.

Arliss stood in his driveway watching the multicolored lights blinking cheerfully along the eaves of his house.  They almost seemed to be mocking his apprehensive feeling.  He walked through the front door and was greeted by the comforting, cinnamon smell of glazed ham, roasted asparagus and Nicole’s famous pecan pie.  He stepped into the living-room.  The lights from the Christmas tree danced on the shining tinsel, defying the mood that Arliss was in.  He looked across the room at Levi who was hooking up a two-year old X-box 360 to the new flat screen TV.  This year Nicole did something she swore she’d never do.  She got up at three o’clock in the morning to brave a Black Friday Doorbuster sale.  Her reward was an incredible deal on the TV.  It wasn’t supposed to be the only gift, but with the uncertainty of the new year, it seemed sensible to have one gift that everyone could enjoy, rather than spending twice as much on gifts for everybody.  “I’m sorry son about the lean Christmas. I know how much you wanted a new rifle.”  “That’s OK dad” replied Levi, “I can work this summer and buy one myself.”  Levi shared his father’s passion for the outdoors.  In the fourteen years since his heart surgery, Levi had grown into a healthy, handsome young man.  He was quarterback for the Freshman football team and was active in his church youth group.  He made good grades.  Kind and respectful, he was the kind of son that would make any father proud.  It’s why Arliss ached inside, that he couldn’t give his son more.

“Dinner’s ready!” Nicole called from the dinning room.  As they gathered around the table Arliss’s mood lightened.   The tempting spread on the table before him made him glad to be hungry.  As the family gathered hands to say grace, Arliss realized how grateful he was to have such a dutiful son and the love of his wife.

Christmas Tree

Christmas Tree (Photo credit: nathangibbs)

The smell of turkey, dressing and all the trimmings rose up from the kitchen to the small room of the homeless shelter that Angie shared with her three children.  The last two months hadn’t gone as she had hoped.  She had applied for food stamps and TANF and any other assistance she thought she could qualify for.  She was sure that the government would take care of her and her children so she wouldn’t have to worry about taking a job and finding childcare.  The assistance, that she was able to obtain, provided subsistence.  Not nearly the lifestyle she thought she should be provided, so she spent her days going to various charities to try to improve her position.  Mike was furious with her for walking away from the job that Robert Colton had given her.  She threw away a chance to gain some self-respect and be a good example for her children.  While her brother and his wife were ready to let Angie be responsible for herself, they were worried about what would become of the children, so after much deliberation they offered Angie and alternative.  They offered to adopt the three kids and raise them as their own.  Angie would have to sign over custody and though she would be allowed visitation, she would have no legal rights or responsibility to them.   Not wanting to believe that Mike was offering her a better life for her kids, she lashed out at him.  “Do you know how much they will cut my benefits without the kids?” she yelled.  “ I need those kids to get my money!”   And so, with all her desperation and wounded pride, she gathered up her children and their meager possessions and left without a thank you or good-bye.  She wandered the streets for a couple of days, finally winding up at the Our Savior’s Mercy homeless shelter.  She did not contact her brother or anyone else.  Mike searched for her, because he didn’t want Angie to be alone for Christmas, but he could not find her.

After Christmas dinner was served and the dishes put away, Arliss, Nicole and Levi gathered at Our Savior’s Mercy church as they had for the past ten years.  The church held a toy drive every year and the employees of Colton Pest Control were always one of their largest donors.  Robert liked to make a contest out of the annual event and agreed to match one to one every toy his employees brought in.  After the toys were sorted and bagged according to age and gender, the congregation would meet every Christmas evening and distribute the toys.  The church ran a large homeless shelter and provided toys for many needy families in the area.  The need this year was overwhelming, and with so many having to take lower paying jobs, the donations were down.  The group set out eager to bring a toy to a child that they knew would not otherwise have one.  After visiting house after house in the poorer parts of town, the group wound up at the homeless shelter.  They knocked on the door to Angie’s room.  She opened the door and the sight that greeted the church group was cheerless.  A picture of a Christmas tree that was colored by Angie’s four-year-old daughter was taped to the window.  It was the only decoration in the room.  The two pajamaed children sat on a bed, an eager look on their faces.  Nicole gave the girl a knock off Barbie doll, and gave the three-year-old boy a football.  She handed Angie an age appropriate stuffed animal for the baby.  The kids seemed somewhat disappointed in what they were given, and Angie was livid.  “I waited in line for six hours to register and this is all you have for my children?”  “I’m sorry,” Nicole, explained, “ times are hard and we had barely enough toys to go around this year.”

“I don’t want to hear your sob story.” Angie shot back.  “Those rich bastards like that Robert Colton can surely afford to buy some decent toys for less fortunate kids like mine.”  “If he paid his fair share then maybe I could get more money and I could afford to buy my kids some toys myself.”  Nicole choked back the tears and stepped out into the hall where other members of the congregation were gathering after handing out their toys.   As they walked back to the van, she said to the pastor’s wife, “I used to get so much joy out of handing out the toys, but women like that just make me feel used.”  The pastor’s wife tried to cheer her up. “ I know it’s discouraging, but remember we do it to show others Christ’s love for us.”  The van pulled up to the church and the members of the congregation returned to their vehicles.  As the members bade each other good night Arliss called out “Merry Christmas!”  He got in the driver’s seat, started the truck and said to Nicole, “I try to say that to everyone.” Nicole replied, “You should, while you still can”

When Legal and Moral Collide

Anti abortion rally in Washington, D.C. Decemb...

Anti abortion rally in Washington, D.C. December 2004. My own work. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I have always disliked the “pro-choice”/ “pro-life” titles for the sides on the abortion debate. It simply would have been more truthful to say “pro-abortion”, or “anti-abortion”.  Abortion advocates would like us to believe that the moral determination as to whether or not the embryo or fetus inside is a living thing, is a personal decision that each woman must decide for herself.  This is scientifically incorrect.  Even from the earliest stages an embryo exhibits the basic criteria for being alive.  The real moral question that a woman considering abortion must decide, is at what stage and under what circumstances is the taking of that life justifiable?  When I ask myself that question it becomes obvious that an abortion should only, ever be considered as the last resort to a dire circumstance. A woman who has been raped is in a dire circumstance.  A woman who must choose between life saving cancer treatment that would kill her unborn child or leaving the children she already has motherless, is in a dire circumstance.  A woman who is carrying a child with birth defects so severe as to be incompatible with life is in a dire circumstance. Even as a Christian, I could not sit in judgement of a woman, who faced with such a gut wrenching decision, would terminate a pregnancy. Though I might not have made the same choice.  A woman who gets caught with her hand in the cookie jar? That’s a different story.  There is never a “perfect” time to have a baby. Pregnancies are always expensive, inconvenient and somewhat embarrassing.  Those are never good reasons to have an abortion.  If you feel that you are not mature enough to raise a child, or that now is not the “right” time for you be a mother, there are options available to you that do not require killing a baby.

I felt it was necessary to clarify my position on abortion, because now I am going to say something that many conservative, Christians will strongly disagree with.

It is time to take Abortion, as a political issue, off the table.

By making a willingness to overturn Roe vs. Wade the litmus test for Republican candidates, we have played right into the hands of our enemies  and given them a club to beat us over the head with.  This has never been more apparent than in the last election, with its fictitious “war on women”.  Even with no basis in fact, the liberal left was able to turn an erroneous perception into a political slogan that became a wave of misinformed women voters that turned the tide of the election. Moderate conservatives have shied away from candidates that they felt were too hard-core, while Evangelicals lambasted the same candidates for being too soft.  All the while, the left eagerly exploits the irony that a group that fights for less governmental control of our private lives, fights to give the government control of a very private women’s issue.  Our legal system allows many things that are immoral or at the very least bad for us.  We must acknowledge that in most cases where the federal government tries to legislate morality, it does a very poor job.  Prohibition, the “war on drugs”, “don’t ask don’t tell”, and affirmative action are just a few examples. Can we accept the difference between moral and legal without compromising our values? Absolutely. Unlike the contraception mandate in the affordable care act, that requires businesses run by religious organizations to provide birth control to their employees, even if it goes against their religious tenants, Roe vs. Wade does not compel us to have abortions.   The problem isn’t that abortions are legal, it’s that women choose to have abortions of convenience. The real battle isn’t about overturning a law, it’s about changing attitudes about the sanctity of life.  We can still continue to put up billboards, hand out literature, educate the public, and provide services and alternatives  for pregnant women. We can teach our daughters, granddaughters, and nieces that abortion is wrong in the eyes of God. The battle should continue to be fought on the street corners, our homes and from the pulpit. Just not in the halls of Congress.

Hard or Hardship Government Economics vs the Household Budget

quora.com

quora.com

I sat at my desk today, doing what I do every Thursday. Juggling bills. As I pondered how much I would have left for groceries, after paying the phone bill, and gassing up the old “Silver Toilet”( my very thirsty pickup truck), a thought occurred to me. How is it that so many people have no real understanding of our national debt? We hear about it all the time, ” our grandchildren will be faced with the burden of our national debt”. But do we ever really think about what that means to us as individuals?  Household economics is really pretty straightforward.  If there is no money left after paying the bills, then you don’t eat.  Skip out on your power bill, you sit in the dark, decide you’d rather go on vacation than pay your mortgage, bye-bye home.  Real life teaches us that if you continue to spend more than you make, eventually it will all come crashing down around you.

It works the same way with the government.  It doesn’t matter what kind of fancy economic theory you adhere to, the simple fact is that our country is broke. I know, you’ve heard that before, so what?  Well, what that means to me is that I’ll have to depend on myself more, and government less.  It means that the Pell grant my daughter depended on for college isn’t going to be there, my Tricare premiums are increasing, and Social Security isn’t even a factor in my retirement planning.  It doesn’t matter what the politicians promise, we have two choices, realize that we are going to have to accept cuts to government programs now, or wait until the government defaults and then completely lose that safety net while the economy implodes on itself sucking us in with it.  Either way we will have to become less dependent on to government.

Given that cuts are inevitable, what makes more sense, to have a president that aims to control more of the population by increasing their dependency on government programs? Or a president who can make the tough cuts necessary to balance the budget?  We have to ask ourselves, do we want to suffer the controlled hardships of a government learning to live within its means? The way the rest of us do.  Or do we want to live through the devastation of a complete economic meltdown?

Americans have a noble tradition of  pulling on our boots, rolling up our sleeves, and shouldering the work.  We don’t run from hardship, we face it head on, grit our teeth and gut it out.  It will be interesting to see, if this new voting generation will rise to the challenge, or if they will just curl up in the fetal position, consoling themselves with You Tube and reality TV, while waiting for a savior to come and bail them out.

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