Friday, December 3, 2010

Conservatives and Sarah Palin

James Lewis has an excellent article in today's American Thinker entitled "Sarah Palin's Charisma."

Under the name of "Motown Mike," I posted the following in the comments section:

Leftist attacks on Sarah Palin are to be expected; I am concerned about the uninformed slights from conservatives:

“She’s a quitter. Look what she did with her governorship.” Oh? Did you read her book to learn why? Did you hear what she said on the day she announced her resignation? People don’t understand that people like Sarah actually say what they mean.

“She has no experience.” In 2008, Governor Palin’s experience outweighed Obama’s. And she’s been politically active since, credited with lifting several dozen Republicans to victory in the recent election.

“She has no gravitas.” Is that what you mean or is it that maybe you really have an issue with a president who is a beautiful and feminine woman? True, she’s not an intellectual. But unlike many Ivy League posers, she is smart.

“She’s another Barry Goldwater.” Please. It’s not 1964. That’s Democratic retrothinking -- that we live in those days of three TV networks, dominant Time and Newsweek, strong unions, and everyone shopping at Sears and grabbing their lunch pails to trudge off to work at Ford or put on their suits to go downtown to a sterile office. Times have changed. Besides, Goldwater never Twittered.

“The media will eat her alive.” When? She’s been beating them at their own game: she coined the term “death panels” and now leftists like Paul Krugman are using it. And when David Letterman went after her daughter, Momma Grizzly did a pretty good job of making him look like a dirty old man.

“She’s not electable.” That is the key question. And within the past week or so she herself said she is studying that issue. That’s political realism. That’s the mark of a real leader.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Just Tryin' to Help

We’ll sexually molest you
Choose your health care
Regulate food on your plate
Yes, we would dare.

Pick your light bulbs
Regulate your toilet
All for your protection
Don’t you know it?

Why, you say,
Are you such a wrecking crew?
Why, we’re the government.
We’re here to help you!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

The Day After

It’s dark along Wildcat Creek this morning. Why am I up at 5:30 when I didn’t get to bed until 1:30 a.m. following the Republican election night party at the Clarion Inn in Fayetteville, Arkansas? Easy to answer: my mind is swirling with all the events of the past 24 hours. And the past year.

Like others in the Tea Party around the country, there are a lot of things to be happy about regarding yesterday’s election. And some disappointments. Locally, people for whom the Cutest Community Organizer to Whom I Am Married and I actively campaigned -- Justin Harris and Charlie Collins --won seats in the Arkansas legislature. But Jim Keet, for whom we actively worked for governor, lost big-time to incumbent Mike Beebe. But in context, yesterday was exceptional for Republicans in Arkansas, long a one-party state: new U.S. Senator, several new House members and major gains in the legislature. This morning, the critical office of secretary of state remains too close to call, as are those of lieutenant governor and land commissioner. Political blogger Jason Tolbert thinks they’ll all go Republican.

Across the nation, it was a Republican night. But a lot of people didn’t vote for Republicans, mind you, they voted against Democrats. That needs to change: some of us are working to make the Republican Party more worthy of receiving votes.

Creek of Consciousness

This was the first election in which most or all of the people I voted for were people that I had personally met…Indeed, one of the great things about our political activism of the past eighteen months has been all the great people we have come to know…Meanwhile, Dan Wolschon, my friend since junior high days, and I were texting each other yesterday from our respective places as poll watchers – he in Michigan, me in Arkansas. He became a Tea Party activist earlier this year…Today, the term “We the People” has a stronger meaning...This year’s campaigns and activism got me out of the cocoon of Northwest Arkansas and its cities. Sometimes those of us who live here in Walmart-Tyson-J.B. Hunt-land are unaware of the charms of the rest of this state. There are some delightful people around the state and Hot Springs in the spring is beautiful!...I’m hooked – political trips to Little Rock have made me a fan of What-a-Burger in Russellville...Last night, when it looked like Charlie Collins was going to win his legislative seat by 90 votes, he turned to the Cutest Community Organizer to Whom I Am Married and said: “You’re probably the one who got me those votes.”…Why am I writing this -- I’ve only had four hours sleep. How write can I sentence that sense makes? -- Zzzzzzzz.

Monday, November 1, 2010

The Autumn Election

The late-day sun comes streaking across Wildcat Creek much earlier now as the days become shorter. It’s warm in the Ozarks, but the cold weather is coming. A sure sign yesterday was all of the wasps trying to find a way into the house – they know it will soon get cold. Lots of firewood stacked on the porch, waiting for the chill. Winterized the pump house today. The cold is coming…

The Cutest Community Organizer to whom I am married is full of energy, humor and songs tonight. “You’re glad the campaign is over, aren’t you?” I say. She doesn’t respond, but I know it’s true. Barbra has been a one-woman campaign machine this year: going door-to-door campaigning for Justin Harris and Charlie Collins for state representative and Jim Keet for governor. Last week she called a campaign office so she could get a rebuttal for an opponent’s sleazy attack ad. Then she called a local talk show to personally make the rebuttal because the candidate who was attacked couldn’t or wouldn’t put up a defense. And she’s been spending spare hours at Republican headquarters making phone calls. Saturday I drove her around our rural precinct as she handed out cards for Keet and for John Boozman for U. S. Senator and Steve Womack for Congress. It’s been a long year: it began for me last November when Randy Alexander asked me to manage his campaign for U. S. Senate. No way I could do that, given my day job, but I ended up as a part-time communications guy for him. Then came fall and Barbra and I worked in various campaigns – Barbra more than me as her day job is only part-time.

Now we’re on the precipice. Tuesday will tell. The Big Election. We’re working as poll watchers in Fayetteville: Barbra in the morning, me in the afternoon. I look over the list of poll watchers in our county and see that about half of them are Tea Party members. The Tea Party is what got us involved in politics, just like so many others around the country. It’s hard to say what will happen Tuesday: the news media predict a Republican blowout but given their loss of credibility one wonders if they’re just saying that to make conservatives stay home. It’s sad when you no longer can believe what you see or hear. But it doesn’t matter: we’re not as dumb as they think we are.

Some say Tuesday will be like the Republican victory of 1994. I don’t think so. I’m hoping it will be more like 1980. I remember election night that year, when Ronald Reagan blew the doors off the elite’s conventional wisdom.

It was amazing. It was thrilling.

Please, Lord, do it again.

However, assuming victories for conservatives Tuesday, our work will just begin. We got into this mess because so many of us were asleep.

No more.

The day after Election Day we go to work…

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

The Silent Tea Party

So I’m on my riding mower taking care of biz on part of my rural 2 ½ acres when a pickup truck pulls in the driveway. An old man gets out. I drive the mower over to him, shut down the engine and we begin to talk.

“Tell your wife I went and voted in the school board election,” he says. "She was right, there was nobody there, no line. I got in real easy.” The man is our neighbor down the road. The Cutest Community Organizer to whom I am married has been out talking to the neighbors, getting them to vote, encouraging them to support good candidates. Cutest Community Organizer has designated herself as our local precinct captain. That’s remarkable, since our county Republican Party does not have precinct captains, but that doesn’t stop her. The man said he had followed her advice: “Tell her I called the courthouse about an absentee ballot.” (his health is not very good). “They said they’d mail me one, so I imagine I’ll get that in a few days.”

Enjoying a beautiful Ozark morning, the man and I talked politics. Despite the health problems that have caused him difficulty in going to vote, he is knowledgeable about political personalities and what’s going on. Finally, having solved all the world’s problems, we wound up our conversation. Said the man: “I’m a Tea Partier. I’ve never been to one of their meetings, but I’m a Tea Partier.”

A Tea Partier. But he’s never been to a meeting or been to a protest. A silent Tea Partier. How many others like him?

A few days later, some of our local Tea Party people met at a local steak house with a coalition of other Tea Partiers from around the state. After the meeting, several of us hung out in the meeting room, enjoying dessert when a young man came in and began bussing the tables. I don’t remember who started it, but we got into a conversation about politics. He demonstrated keen knowledge of what is going on. He talked of issues, voiced knowledgeable criticisms, and said he liked the Tea Party.

A potential Tea Partier? But he’s never been to a meeting or been to a protest. A silent Tea Partier? How many others like him?

Today, Cutest Community Organizer went through the drive-through of a local fast food place. As the teenage boy serving at the window gave her change and a receipt, he slipped her a piece of paper. Taped to the paper was a printed question: What is your opinion of the Obama healthcare bill? Cutest Community Organizer pointed thumbs down and drove off.

Don’t know if this young man is associated with the Tea Party. Or if he’s ever been to a meeting or a protest. Is he a silent Tea Partier? How many others like him?

The Silent Tea Party.

It speaks November 2…

Monday, October 18, 2010

Creek of Consciousness

Difficult for me to write lately: demands of day job plus working in several conservative Republican campaigns, including those of Arkansas legislative candidates Justin Harris and Charlie Collins, plus efforts toward the Washington County Tea Party...The Cutest Community Organizer to whom I am married and I took training in poll watching, which we plan to do on election day. Voter fraud in Washington County is not as rampant as in other places in Arkansas, but the local Republican Party uses it as a get-out-the-vote technique. Still, the more eyes watching the better…At a coalition of Tea Parties meeting last week, we heard horror stories about efforts elsewhere in Arkansas to stamp out grassroots conservative activism. In one Arkansas county, when Tea Party members show up to monitor local meetings of the Quorum Court (Arkansas’ version of county commissioners), extra police are called. Hmmmm. Concern about the threat of those dangerous Tea Partiers or a bit of good old fashioned Arkansas intimidation?...We also heard about an effort to fine a Tea Partier $5,000 for alleged violation of election laws. The Tea Party member bought radio time on a political issue that was less than the $500 threshold requiring election registration. The radio station decided to provide free promotion announcements about the Tea Partier’s political program. The stations free promos are now being assigned value, and are being considered part of the Tea Partier’s donation. And of course the total value is now above $500 and the Tea Party member is accused of breaking election law. Absurd…Another Tea Party activist spoke of receiving a death threat.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

What a Country!

Somebody named "Norseman" posted the following on an American Thinker report that the government sent 89,000 Social Security stimulus checks to dead people or people in prison:

These are the same people that are going to run our healthcare system and determine if we live or die. The good news is that even though government run health care will kill me, I will still get paid. What a country!

Monday, September 6, 2010

Let’s Have Renewable Energy. For No Good Reason.

So I’m sitting at a renewable energy conference the other day, learning about all the wonderful things regarding wind energy. I’m learning that a stretch of the Great Plains sweeping north of Amarillo, Texas, is a veritable Saudi Arabia of energy if it’s generated by wind, that in 2008 the wind energy industry added 35,000 jobs, that technology is advancing and wind generating towers are becoming more efficient.

Interesting. And then I hear something that leaves me cold.

A wind tower manufacturing company’s CEO tells the conference that wind generation “needs a level playing field.” Coal and gas electric generation are cheaper, he says, and tightening up clean air regulations “will help us.”

Will help us? What do you mean by “us?”

It will help his business, bless him. And it will help the wind generation industry.

But it will not help us.

That’s because the so-called level playing field he wants is a higher cost of electricity.

Essentially, what he is calling for are tighter emissions standards on coal-fired power plants. That will put many of them out of business (which is exactly what Candidate Obama called for two years ago). And that will raise your electric rates.

Coal is the most efficient form of generation. Kill the coal plants and your electric bill goes up.

Coal, of course, is painted as dirty energy. And mining and transporting it can be messy.
But despite an increased population, a roaring economy for a quarter century, and ever more demand for electricity, coal generation has gotten cleaner, according to the Heartland Institute. And in coming years its emissions record will be even better.

But some advocate more use of renewable energy. That’s power generation from wind, solar, or biomass. In fact, there is serious talk of developing a national renewable energy standard (RES) that would require 20 percent – 20 percent! -- of all electricity to be from renewable sources.

That would require some suspension of the laws of physics. Or an awful lot of money.

A Heritage Foundation analysis of a U. S. Energy Information Administration projection of electricity costs to 2016 (in current dollars) shows that the cost to generate one megawatt hour of electricity with a coal-fired plant would be $78.10 (Don’t glaze over on me now, this is important). Land-based wind generation would be $149.30; offshore wind power would be $191.10.

Basically wind generation is about twice the cost of coal generation.

And, as I understand the Heritage analysis, these high costs of wind generation do not include backup generating capacity. After all, sometimes the wind doesn’t blow; or sometimes it blows too much and wind turbines have to be shut down, so there have to be backup generators. Also, Heritage seems to be saying that not included in these costs are transmission expenses. While the Great Plains may be a windy Saudi Arabia, they are isolated and transmission lines will have to take the juice to the population centers. My local electric cooperative’s government affairs guy says we’ll need 15-thousand miles of new high-voltage transmission lines to capture all that Windy Saudi electricity and that will be at $5 million per mile. Do the math: it totals $75 billion. So in addition to doubling electric generation rates, there’ll be capital costs passed on to your electric bill (at 100 million U. S. households, that’s another $750).

So why wind power or other RES? Good question.

For the environment? Sorry, the environment in the United States is excellent, especially compared to the bad old days prior to about forty years ago. To stop global warming? No sale: the alleged science regarding climate change is corrupt and the data are too biased to justify destroying our economy and burdening our lives based on faulty analyses. Because coal plants cause asthma and heart disease? Please. I learned the pseudoscience of cost-benefit projections in grad school and knew it was suspect then. How can you isolate your variables to prove your point?

Um, just because?

Now you’re getting closer to the truth. Because there is no good reason for RES.

Except for companies like GE and others who stand to make a ton of money if public policy pushes us toward RES.

You pay more for electricity. They laugh all the way to the bank.

Otherwise, there is no legitimate economic or environmental reason for RES.

Monday, August 30, 2010

A Perverse Thanks for the Ground Zero Issue

Thanks, Faisal Abdul Rauf, for your Ground Zero mosque proposal.

As distasteful as your proposal is, it’s finally bringing Islam to the forefront of our discussions.

For nearly a decade – maybe longer -- people of goodwill have been tiptoeing around this, afraid of appearing bigoted, afraid of violating their spirit as Americans.

And yet…

And yet, people have had a real discomfort about what they have been observing. Something has been not quite right. Something has been gnawing at them about Islam and its motives.

The Ground Zero mosque (or community center or whatever it is) is forcing us to look directly in the face of what Islam is about. Despite what its apologists say, Islam is not benign. It is not a religion of peace. In fact, it’s not really a religion as we understand it.

Finally we are awakening to the fact that we are in a struggle. And it’s not a struggle between two civilizations. It’s a struggle between civilization and barbarism. And it’s been going on well over a thousand years.

Europe has already gone further down the road on this, in terms of what they have lost and in terms of what they are doing about it. Both sides of that coin are distasteful. On the one side of the coin are the results of the latter-day Islamic incursion into Europe. Read the book “While Europe Slept.” In it, author Bruce Bawer describes leaving the United States to live in Europe. Although he professes ongoing love for his country, Bawer, as a gay liberal New Yorker, envisions Europe as somewhat of a progressive higher order, free of the uncouth backwardness of the U. S. But he discovers all is not perfect in Europe. And then, in shock, he watches the continuing surrender that Europeans, bound by political correctness, are making to the Muslim minority. By the time he returns to the States, Bawer’s expression of appreciation of what we have in America makes it seem as though he has morphed into a Rush Limbaugh. Bawer has seen that the advancement of Islam into Europe – one side of the coin – is not pretty.

Then there’s the other side: what Europe is doing about it.

Again, it’s not pretty. Belgium and France have outlawed the burqa. Spain is considering it. That seems extreme, but Europeans are becoming reactionary – in the literal sense of the word – because they’ve allowed too much to slide too long. The correct thing to do? Debatable. But some Europeans are recognizing that Islam is unlike other belief systems. And there is a 13-hundred year trail of blood as evidence.

Which brings us to Ground Zero.

First of all, this is not a First Amendment issue. No one is calling for the outlawing of a building whose purpose its developers claim is religious. There is a First Amendment right to build such a structure.

But there is also a First Amendment right to criticize such a plan (despite the call by the Speaker of the House for investigation of those who object).

The central issue is that Faisal Abdul Rauf and his backers are ignoring American sensitivities by putting an Islamic symbol in the location where the United States was attacked in the name of Islam.

That’s the issue.

And it tells us that despite our best efforts to paint a happy face on Islam, to treat it as harmless, our suspicions are correct: Islam is all about itself. It is a belief system of conquest and all who oppose it are infidels that must be crushed.

There is no compromise, there is no appeasement. You will be assimilated. Or crushed.

That’s what we are dealing with.

In putting its symbol on the wound of its attack on us, Islam is telling the world that it is continuing its conquest of the West and especially the Great Satan.

And in a perverse way, in all of this Rauf et al. have done us a favor.

Because now we have no excuse for ignoring the threat of Islam.

There’s much more to say on this. Questions arise, of course. What about individual Muslims, the people we know who are neighbors and friends and co-workers? What about them, some who themselves live in fear of those enforcing the harsher aspects of Islamic doctrine? What issues do we need to begin thinking about in regards to the First Amendment and freedom of religion as applied to Islam? What of the issues of the rights of Muslim women in a pluralistic society? Finally, for those of us who are Christians, what is to be our attitude, bearing, and response to Muslims, people to whom we have the obligation of presenting the gospel of Jesus Christ?

Heavy stuff. And those are future issues about which I will be posting on this blog. We’ve put these things off too long -- they are issues we need to be discussing.

Again, in a perverse way, thanks, Faisal Abdul Rauf, for helping us to get focused.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

With Apologies to Dietrich Bonhoeffer

First, they came for the coal miners, but I wasn’t a coal miner, so I didn’t speak out. Then they came for the bankers, but I was not a banker, so I didn’t speak out. Then they came for the car dealers, but I wasn’t a car dealer, so I didn’t speak out. Then they came for the auto companies, but I had nothing to do with the auto companies, so I didn’t speak out. Then they came for the insurance companies, but I wasn’t in the insurance business, so I didn’t speak out. Then they came for the medical professionals, but I’m not a medical professional, so I didn’t speak out. Then they came for my grandchildren’s money, but I don’t have grandchildren, so I didn’t speak out.

Then they came for the very air I breathe.

Without air, how can I speak?

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Signs of the Times

Took a drive across mid-America last week.

Along the way were signs of the times.

Billboards, to be exact. And other signs.

West of St. Louis on old-Route-66-cum-Interstate 44, a business has posted a billboard against current government policies. Elsewhere on the same highway: “Missouri loves Arizona (Mexico, too).”

One Midwestern billboard proclaims a quote from John Adams: “Liberty once lost, is lost forever.”

An upper middle class Michigan neighborhood has political-style yard signs proclaiming “Taxed Enough Already.”

What really got my attention were black-on-white wooden signs in Illinois cornfields along the interstate in the manner of the old Burma-Shave jingles that were popular from the 1920s to the ‘60s. For those too young to remember, Burma-Shave advertised around the country on sets of a half dozen red-on-white signs about a foot high and a yard wide. Each sign contained part of a rhyme with the last sign having the Burma-Shave logo. As seen below, some series of signs advertised the product, others functioned as kinds of public service announcements:

Our fortune
Is your
Shaven face
It's our best
Advertising space


Dim your lights
Behind a car
Let folks see
How bright
YOU are

Regarding the political jingles in Illinois, I can’t recall what any of them said. They came up too quickly to write down. Also, they were difficult to read at 70 miles per hour, which is exactly the reason Burma-Shave abandoned its roadside advertising campaign as the interstates spread during the ‘60s. However, I was able to make out the last sign in the series: “” and upon entering that URL into my computer I was directed to a site entitled “Billboards for America.”

There I found that a group of small business people began an organization that is gradually buying billboards to make claims against growing government encroachment. Now they have billboards in eleven states and are collecting donations for more.

Their web site ( gives samples of their billboard messages:

“Liberal Plan: They Spend. We Pay. Children Owe.”

“The Bigger the Government, the Smaller the Citizen.”

And my favorites, two billboards designed to look like electric-lit road work signs:




It was interesting last week to drive across the county’s heartland, where people tend not be flamboyant and are inclined to mind their own business.

But they’re restless.

Something is stirring.

You can see the signs.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

On the Moon.

I walked out of the building, absent-mindedly looked toward the southwestern sky and it just so happened that my eyes looked upon the moon.

The moon!

It had been on my mind all day in an entirely new way, and yet here it was in its familiar role, benignly gazing down on the summer Earth below.

It was July 20, 1969. And there were men on that moon. And I, along with millions of others, had been with them.

I had spent that Sunday working as an announcer at a suburban Chicago radio station. But was anyone listening? Everyone was glued to television watching as astronauts Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin landed and then walked on the lunar surface.

TVs were not all that portable in those days, but I had brought a fairly small black-and-white set into the radio station control room and placed it behind me on a chair, as I recall. I had announcements to make throughout the afternoon and records or taped programs to play, but every chance I got I turned around to watch Walter Cronkite and the unfolding lunar drama.

Earlier in the ‘60s President Kennedy had challenged us to put men on the moon by decade’s end. That was a tall order, considering that just a few years before he issued his challenge, U. S. rockets were blowing up on a regular basis. But today it was happening. Men on the moon. And just five months before the new decade.

What a Sunday! There was the thrilling descent from the command module, leaving astronaut Mike Collins to continue on lonely orbits to the far side of the moon. And then there was that landing. We listened as pilot Armstrong professionally read off altitude and descent and drift rates. He was as calm as if he was monitoring a residential gas meter. Men on the moon! Will they make it? Is this for real? Armstrong droning numbers. Controllers discussing a computer alarm. What does it mean? No change – still going down, down, down. To the moon.

More data from Armstrong. Just feet off the surface. Unbelievable!



A pause.

“Tranquility Base here. The Eagle has landed.”


A Cape Canaveral guy tells Armstrong everyone has been turning blue. Cronkite is all grins. Men on the moon. And I’m right there with them.

A few hours go by. I still have a radio station to run. I’m missing cues, making mistakes, generally doing a lousy job. But who cares? There are men on the moon, and we’re all there with them.

Then: walking on the surface.

The remote TV camera shows Armstrong’s bulky space-suited silhouette clumsily backing down the ladder. Is this really happening? Am I really seeing this? He steps to the surface.

The first historic words from the moon.

Are a blooper.

“That’s one small step for man,” says Armstrong, “One giant leap for mankind.” That’s not right: it was supposed to “be one small step for a man…” Too late. Moon or not, in live TV you don’t get a second take.

And who cares? There’s a man on the moon.

That night, leaving work, getting into my car, I’m overwhelmed by just the sight of the moon. I was just there today. Vicariously, to be sure. But I was there. With the men on the moon.

Driving home, I’m listening to the radio and an announcer misses a station break.

I know why.

He’s on the moon.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

A Trip to America

I got depressed Saturday morning.

Reading some online news items regarding the state of our country got me down. I tried to will it away, but it nagged at me.

I’m glad, however, that I had something scheduled for the day that was guaranteed to chase the blues away.

A trip to America.

Elkins, Arkansas, to be exact.

The Cutest Community Organizer to whom I am married and I went to the Fourth on the River parade in Elkins. (Clever: have your Fourth of July celebrations on July 10th. Beats competing with everyone else). We went to help campaign for Fayetteville resident Charlie Collins in his bid for the Arkansas House of Representatives.

Wasn’t much for us to do: ride in the back of pickup truck in the parade and throw candy and hold signs.

But what a grand morning it was! When’s the last time you’ve been to an old-fashioned small town parade?

It’s America at the roots.

Had you gone, look what you would have gotten: antique cars (check out the white ’57 Thunderbird), a lone rider on a horse carrying an American Flag, the MIA-POW Honor Guard bikers, police cars, fire trucks (lots of fire trucks – does everyone in Elkins have a fire truck in their driveway?). Along the parade route: men in overalls, pretty girls, children diving for thrown candy, young couples, old couples, a decaying old barn with an old-fashioned windmill behind it, new houses, old houses, the peacefulness of the rural Ozarks.

The green hills, green grass, green trees – green, green, green (lots of rain lately), and the bright blue skies and big puffy clouds.

People are friendly. Everyone waves at passing parade vehicles. “Vote for Charlie” the woman standing next to me on the truck yells. “Vote for Charlie Collins.” People wave and smile back. “I’ll think about it,” replies one guy.

It’s a hot, humid day, but people keep cool by putting their lawn chairs under big trees. For us, there’s a perfect temperature riding the truck going 10-15 miles per hour (it’s a three-mile-long parade, all motorized on the main highway through the Elkins area, so it travels pretty fast). One woman has an umbrella as a parasol that’s shaped like a baseball cap with markings for the University of Arkansas Razorbacks.

It’s a great, old-fashioned, Fourth of July parade. On July 10th.

And we’re having a great time.

The economy is crashing (witness empty stores in the Elkins area), the country is fighting two wars, the federal government is corrupt, incompetent or worse, and there is a palpable fear spreading around the nation.

It’s enough to get you depressed.

But don’t be.

Things are bright in America.

The America of Elkins, Arkansas, U. S. A.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Reflections on Thirty-eight Years of Marriage.


............................................................................................................................................................................................................In a store last week to buy a gift for the Cutest Community Organizer to Whom I Am Married. Small talk with two women working in the store:

Occasion? Anniversary.

How long? Thirty-eight years.

Wow. What’s the secret to your success?

I pause. How do you describe it all in thirty seconds?

“Put God first,” I reply. One woman nods. “Put Him first, then comes your spouse – put them before you.” I don’t take the time to go into all the detail of how I came to Christ about a week and a half after Barbra and I were married. Or how four years later, Barbra came to know Christ. Both of us raised in church – she Baptist, me Catholic – yet neither of us with a real relationship with God through Christ until each of us was about 24. I doubt if we would still be together were it not for that. After all, how can two know-it-alls live together without some Jesus-injected humility?

“Then practice courtesy with each other,” I said. “If we bump into each other in the hall, say ‘Excuse me;’ say ‘please,’ and ‘thank you.’ Don’t allow the familiarity of life together to let common courtesy go away. Another thing we do: if one of us is out and the other is home working on something and sloppy and grubby, we try to get dressed up somewhat before the other gets home. Can’t always do it, but we try. It’s just a courtesy.”

That’s what I told them. But there’s more that I didn’t think to say. I didn’t say that marriage is a commitment. That’s COMMITMENT. Some days the romance is gone: bills to pay, kids to raise, cars to fix, errands to run. Truth be told, there have been times that we haven’t always liked each other – at least the emotional spark has not been there. But the commitment remains. When you promise before God and man that you will stay together until death do you apart, sometimes that commitment is the only thing making it all go.

Ultimately, that’s what love is, is it not? A commitment. A decision.

Ah, but when the commitment gets you get past the problems-boredom-hurt feelings-anger-tedium-insensitivities-or whatever crisis it is, it’s great to fall in love all over again.

And as time goes on, it all gets better.

That’s why I admire people who have been happily married fifty, sixty years. Where the newlyweds are bright flickering flames, the long-married couples are the deep glow of long-burning coals.

Where young couples are poetry, dance, and song, for the old ones sometimes bad hearing and creaking joints drown out the party.

But through decades of caring for one another, putting each other first, being true to their commitments, it’s the old ones who are the really hot lovers.

I’m looking forward to that.

Happy anniversary, Barbra.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Watching the Lights Go Out

I’ve been intrigued in recent months by the county-by-county animation of the U. S. unemployment rate from January, 2007, to March, 2010. It’s at:

Also it’s on YouTube at:

Not only is it sobering to watch the decline of the relatively robust economy of two and half decades, it’s infuriating to focus on some of the details.

On the final frame, March, 2010, you’ll see that most of the country has gone “dark” with an unemployment rate of more than 10 percent.

There are some isolated exceptions which I can’t explain – lots of “red” (5 to 5.9 percent unemployment) in Montana and in business-friendly Texas, plus a few isolated counties around the country.

Meanwhile, across the Great Plains -- in the Dakotas and in the western sections of Oklahoma, Kansas, and Nebraska -- unemployment is for the most part very low, under 3 percent, which is generally considered to be full employment. Again, I’m not sure of all the reasons, but since I’m a professor and have a license to make things up, here’s what I think: 1) those are areas that for the most part have stable populations. If anything, these areas are losing people. Presumably, people who live there are working. If they’re not working, they leave, thus lowering the unemployment rate, 2) much of the employment in that area is agricultural and unemployment rates are calculated based upon non-farm jobs, and 3) the sparse populations mean that the slightest movements up or down in employment will have an outsize effect on the rate.

You’re welcome.

At any rate, by May, 2010, there were two non-western regions where some counties were doing fairly well. One of them was coastal Louisiana. Play the animation again and see that while most of the rest of the country goes dark, the bright colors stay on longer in Louisiana. Even by May, 2010, four coastal Louisiana counties were doing fairly well.

The only other Eastern area where there were more than isolated counties with low unemployment rates was in Northern Virginia.

Southern Louisiana and Northern Virginia with low unemployment? Why? Oil drilling has been driving Southern Louisiana’s economy. I was there in January and it was amazing to see in the middle of a recession that there were “help wanted” billboards. To be sure, these were for skilled jobs: welders, marine licensees, people like that. But there was work, lots of work, for people with the right skills.

And Northern Virginia? Why low unemployment there? That’s an easy answer: where do you think a lot of high-paid Washington government workers live? The economy is tanking, the lights are going out, but with all the government spending and new programs, things are bright in the company town of Washington D. C.

And the Washington people apparently don’t want competition in their low unemployment rate. They seem to be doing their best to help the oil spill throw Louisianans out of work. The feds are fighting in court to idle deep-water drillers. And by hampering oil-spill-fighting boats with goofy safety inspections, dictating where protective berms are placed, and refusing to allow foreign ships to help, it seems like the feds want to prolong the catastrophes of those who work in fishing and tourism.

It all can be kind of depressing. But take heart, all is well.

Legions of federal government workers are working -- working on your health care, working on your bank, working on your oil supply.

I wonder if they know who provides the money for those high-paying jobs and cushy federal benefits.

And I wonder if they know that the lights are going out everywhere else.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Creek of Consciousness

Finally. Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal is pushing aside BP and ordering a barrier built in the ocean to halt the oil coming ashore. Earlier Gov. Jindal said he was ready to go to jail for violating federal non-action in the Gulf. Leadership sometimes means doing it now and apologizing later…Normally I don’t believe anything I read in Time except maybe the words “the” and “a,” but Time says people in Key West, Florida, also are taking things in their own hands. They are working around the bureaucrats and are making their own preparations for oil that may come their way...I’m back on the local Tea Party board, but have taken, along with the Cutest Community Organizer to whom I am married, several minor positions in the local Republican Party. Grassroots activism needs to be channeled into established political parties to be effective (both parties, by the way)…One of the things about reading people’s online comments is that you find some real gems like this: Wake your friends and neighbors! If you aren't considered an alarmist by a good portion of people you know, then you aren't doing enough!!!!!! And then there’s the crazy stuff posted below…

Like Dave Berry: I Am Not Making This Up

You find some telling comments that people post online. Here's something posted awhile back in an online comments section by someone calling themself "Honest Lib." It was entitled "The Liberal's Burden." Is this for real? Or did I get taken by a put-on, probably by a conservative? I dunno -- I report, you decide...

Dennis, if not for so-called liberals, lynching and witch burning would also still be considered good and entertaining American freedoms.Do you actually believe progressives enjoy telling you where your kids must go to school, what books they may read, what you are allowed to drive, where you can live, what you can eat, smoke or drink, or how you are allowed to control your money? Well, this may be a shocker for you, but we don’t. In fact, it’s actually an extremely tiresome and taxing burden.You probably believe that being born with superior insight, wisdom and understanding is a great advantage in life, but in actuality it’s a double-edged sword. Great intelligence comes with great responsibility – we have an inherent obligation to shepherd the lesser among us, despite their often incessant objections. We couldn’t sit back and allow the unintelligent and unenlightened masses to behave as they see fit even if we more than a mother could ignore the dangerous actions of her child.
--Honest Lib

Parody or not, leftist actions demonstrate all of the above.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

The Cutest Community Organizer to whom I am married and I had a great time at the Doubletree in Little Rock at the Defending the American Dream Summit put on by Americans for Prosperity and American Majority.

Great speaking by Herman Cain, WSB Atlanta talk show host and ex-Godfather’s Pizza CEO (When’s this guy’s show going to go national?)* He defined the three tactics of liberals as “SIN.” Shift the subject, Ignore the facts, Name calling.

Grover Norquist, president of Americans for Tax Reform spoke of the “coercive utopians” who develop lists of rules longer than the Book of Leviticus. Norquist is truly brilliant and has a great way of illustrating points. Among the Norquistisms:

We need to stop feeding the government spending beast. Government types like to gnaw on taxpayers. If they can’t gnaw on taxpayers, they’ll gnaw on each other, every one of them trying to protect their share of the shrinking amounts of money.

Politically we’re divided into two groups. The “leave-us-alone” coalition of conservatives and libertarians and the “takings” coalition of big government types.

There are only two strategies to shrink government and only one of them works because it is measureable and binary [yes/no]: 1) Don’t raise taxes (measureable) and 2) don’t spend so much (subjective, unquantifiable). Norquist says focus on the first.

Coca Cola is a brand. We know the brand, we trust it. However, if we find a rat’s head in a bottle of Coke, we’ll never again trust the brand. The brand is damaged. “Republican officials who vote for tax increases are rat heads. They damage the brand.”

“Tax increases are what politicians do if they don’t have the guts to govern.”

George W. Bush in some respects duped conservatives. “Bush said: ‘I’ll leave your faith alone, but I’m going to spend too much. I’ll leave your guns alone but I’m going to spend too much…’” and conservatives didn’t walk away from him. That’s changed with the Tea Party movement. Tea Partiers, according to Norquist will walk on spending.

Conservatives tell their representatives to have a backbone when they go to the capitol. That’s humanly impossible, according to Norquist, when every person they come in contact with wants them to spend more money on some special cause. Conservatives, he said, need to be the exoskeleton of their representatives, protecting them and shielding them from the pressures to spend.

“Democracy is 51 percent of the people stripping the property rights of the remaining 49 percent.”

For American statists, “the value-added tax (VAT) is the next shoe to drop. They can’t get to European levels of government without the value added tax. They hadn’t intended to let us know they’re planning it, but people who talk about such things privately tend to say the same things on talk radio. It was too early to reveal it, but they did. It’s just like if you have a potty mouth in private, you’ll have a potty mouth in public. The November election will determine the VAT tax.”

“Lobbying is a 3 billion dollar weather vane.” It goes in the direction of whoever is in power.

One of my favorite columnists, Stephen Moore of the Wall Street Journal, spoke. What a down-to-earth enjoyable guy. According to Moore:

“I’m normally cheerful but every day, following the news, I’m getting depressed. Everything government has done for the last 24 months has been exactly wrong. We’ve spend $2.5 trillion to put us out of a recession. That’s an obscene waste of money. With that kind of money we could have suspended all of the corporate and individual income taxes for two years. Think of how our economy would be roaring then!

How much is a trillion dollars? The NBA’s LeBron James makes $40 million a year. He would have to play 25-thousand seasons to make a trillion dollars.

We’re going to borrow $10 trillion over ten years. That’s more than was borrowed the entire time from 1776 to 2005.

We are facing a tax tsunami when the Bush tax cuts expire at the end of this year: A 60 percent increase in the capital gains tax, a tripled dividend tax, the estate tax will go from 0 to 55 percent (and they are talking about making it retroactive). “I agree with what Steve Forbes says: ‘No taxation without respiration.’” Consider: if a person dies in 2010, their heirs pay nothing. Come January 1 [above a certain threshold] they pay 55 percent of their inheritance. It’s going to get ugly in nursing homes come November and December of this year. “Eighty to 90 percent of the estate tax comes from family-owned business. The estate tax is the first of the ten tenets of the Communist Manifesto.”

Politicians cry “Tax the rich!” Who pays the taxes? The top 1 percent of earners pay 40 percent of the taxes….the top 1 percent pay more in taxes than the lower 95 percent. The bottom 50 percent pay less than 3 percent of the taxes. Further, 70 percent of the rich are small business owners/operators. They’re the ones who create jobs.

When the Bush tax cuts expire, the average household will see an annual tax increase of $2,500.

“I am one of the few people in Washington who read the health care bill, all 24-hundred pages.” The bill says nothing about medical malpractice, yet that wastes 100 billion dollars in health care costs. Three positive reforms for health care would be 1) malpractice reform, 2) health insurance sales across state lines 3) health savings accounts (most Indiana state employees have gone to health savings accounts – they love ‘em).

Cap-and-trade [or as Steve and many of us call it “cap-and-tax”[ is based on the “greatest fraud,” the idea of global warming. It will destroy American manufacturing. The cap and trade bill ought to be named “The China and India Full Employment Act.”

In a panel discussion Arkansas State Representative John Lowry (D-El Dorado) rued the “arrogance of Washington. What you find there is not what you find in rural Arkansas.”
Coming from an area of energy producers, Lowry spoke knowingly of America’s need for energy reliability, fewer energy imports, and the need to convert to affordable, accessible energy comparable at the retail level, BTU for BTU, with what we have now. Under what he called “the global warming hoax” a small refinery in his area would have to invest $185 million to comply with cap-and-trade. That would be impossible, he said. It would cost 4-thousand jobs in an area already with 10 percent unemployment. Given massive natural gas supplies current technology is producing, Lowry said we need to move to converting vehicles to natural gas. Also, new technology can allow extracting of lignite as an energy source of which Arkansas has a large supply. We need expanded nuclear power, too.

French Hill of Delta Trust & Banking Corporation called for more outsourcing of government jobs. State and federal employees tend to cost in excess of 12 dollars per hour more than private workers, plus they get twice the health care insurance and three times the benefits.

Thanks to Teresa Crossland-Oelke of Americans for Prosperity and Laurie Lee Masterson of American Majority for organizing the Little Rock event.

And a good time was had by all.

*Check out what happened during a Q&A with Herman at a Douglas County (Georgia) Tea Party event.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

How did we forget how to get things done?

It’s been awhile since I’ve watched my favorite movie, Apollo 13.

I love that movie. Even read three or four times the book on which it is based, astronaut Jim Lovell’s Lost Moon.

At any rate, the near-disaster of Apollo 13 begs comparison with the real disaster of the BP oil spill. Because in the days of the Apollo program we got things done. Can you imagine if Apollo 13 occurred today? :

APOLLO 13: Uh, Houston. We have a problem.

HOUSTON: [recorded] We’re sorry – all Mission Control operators are busy at this time. However, be advised that your call is important to us. To state the nature of your communication please listen carefully. If you have a guidance system issue, please press 1. If you need assistance with life support, press 2. Retrorocket issues, press 3. We’ll be with you soon. [Recorded music sprach Zarathusra – opening of 2001 a Space Odyssey – begins to play Daaaa Daaa DaaaaaDaaaaaahhhhh.]

APOLLO 13: Houston, we don’t know if this is a guidance problem or retrorockets and given the decline in our oxygen, this might be a life support problem. So we don’t know what number to press.

HOUSTON: [Music: Boom, boom, boom, boom, boom, boom...]

APOLLO 13: Houston!

HOUSTON: Apollo 13, Houston. Thanks for waiting. Please be advised that your call is being monitored for quality purposes. What can we do for you?

APOLLO 13: Well, the spacecraft is shimmying and we’re venting something into space and we’re losing oxygen.

HOUSTON: You’re venting something into space? Have you filled out EPA Form 73-2, Variance Request for Spacecraft Emissions?

APOLLO 13: Well…

HOUSTON: That shimmy – is it affecting your trajectory? We’ll need to refile your flight plan if that’s the case. Of course we’ll need some of the suits to sign off on that and they’ve left for their taxpayer-paid golf trip to Scotland, so it’ll be probably ten days before we can get on that.

APOLLO 13: The most urgent problem we see is that our oxygen and power levels are dropping.

HOUSTON: Power levels are dropping? How can that be? Isn’t your windmill working?

APOLLO 13: Uh, no, Houston. It can’t work in space – there’s no atmosphere.

HOUSTON: C’mon, Apollo 13 – that’s good green power, the best space windmill designed. Let’s not be critical. Hold it, Apollo 13. President Obama is on the line and he wants to talk with you. Go ahead, Mr. President.

PRESIDENT: Hello. Apollo 13. It. Is. Good. To. Speak. With. You. [off mic] Could you speed that, uh, that, uh, that Teleprompter up a bit? You. Will. Be. Glad. To. Know. That. We. Are. Charging. The spacecraft builders with criminal negligence. Our people will hold our boot to their neck until this problem is fixed. Everyone here with me in Scotland is hoping for your safe return. And you will be glad to know that this is all the fault of George Bush.

APOLLO 13: Thank you, Mr. President. Hello, Houston?

HOUSTON: Go ahead, Apollo 13.

APOLLO 13: We’ve found another situation here. Our CO2 scrubbers aren’t working. We’re going to choke on our own carbon dioxide.

HOUSTON: What was that?!?!?!?!?

APOLLO 13: CO2 scrubbers. The carbon dioxide levels are increasing…

HOUSTON: Increased carbon levels? Increased carbon levels?!?!?!? You’re damaging the planet!!!!

APOLLO 13: But we’re not on the planet.

HOUSTON: It doesn’t matter. Increased carbon levels! Why didn’t you say so earlier? Now we have a real problem!!!!!!

Times have changed. In 1962 President Kennedy called for the U. S. to have a man on the moon within seven years. NASA did it. And still had five months to spare.

And, of course, Gene Kranz and Mission Control accomplished the impossible with Apollo 13.

Where have we gone wrong?

How did we forget how to get things done?

Monday, May 24, 2010

What I Saw at the Campaign

Unable to write for the past few weeks. Demands of the Randy Alexander for Senate campaign and my day job absorbed all my time and every last brain cell. Who deigned the week before the primary to be during my university’s finals week? Then, right into a couple of accelerated online summer school courses.


A victory for Randy was a stretch to say the least. And of the eight Republican candidates, he only garnered 3% of the vote. Initially, I agreed to work in his campaign because as a fellow Washington County Tea Party member I had pledged to help him if he ran for office. He decided to run, so I kept my word. As I worked with him and got to know him better I came to believe he was the best candidate for the job. Still do. That said, I’m totally behind the winner in the primary, my Congressman, John Boozman. More on that in my Arkie Malarky segment.

One of our fellow campaign workers said the money (not to mention the effort) we spent on the Alexander campaign was “tuition.” Indeed. This whole experience of about six months was a time of learning. We’re filing away these lessons for the future. And Randy is not done with politics.

The biggest thing I learned was that it takes a lot of money to run for office.

I did most of the radio and cable TV buys. I could have used $40,000 just for radio. We had about $4,000 for both media. A drop in the bucket.

After it was all over, I realized that Randy should have had $300,000 to run for the Republican nomination. We had a tenth of that.

It takes a lot of money to run for office.

But relating to money, there were positive things. For instance, it was interesting to see a Randy, a self-described introvert, grow into the position of being a candidate and doing what needed to be done: ask for money.

Other positive things related to our campaign team: a great, hard-working group.

And the Cutest Community Organizer to whom I’m married was dynamite. Said Randy: “If I had a hundred Barbras, I’d be a U. S. Senator.”

Week in and week out (daily as the election approached), Barbra took to the streets hanging Alexander for Senate literature on doors, talking to people she came in contact with. Initially she tried to organize teams to go out; but if there was nobody to go with her, she went by her self. Dynamite.

It was an interesting experience. We learned a lot. We got to know some great people.

And it sure takes a lot of money to run for office.

Arkie Malarky (for those who live in Arkansas or wish they did).

I was taken aback by the overwhelming support for establishment Republicans in the May 18 primary. I thought there might be a runoff between John Boozman and Jim Holt. Not a chance – Boozman walked away with nearly 53 percent of the vote, leaving Holt a distance second at 17 percent. I also did not anticipate Cecile Bledsoe to do so well, forcing a runoff with Steve Womack.

But there’s a lot to be said for name recognition and apparently the party’s relatively small size in Arkansas does not preclude its ability to organize for its candidates.

I think others among the conservative/Tea Party/Constitutionalist/libertarian wing of Arkansans were as surprised as I. It’s been an emotional week for some, and there are calls for backing independent candidate for Senate Trevor Drown.

Enough people doing that would guarantee returning a Democrat to the Senate.

Besides, John Boozman has an American Conservative Union lifetime rating of over 92. Yeah, I wish he were a bit more aggressive a la Oklahoma’s Tom Coburn, but John Boozman is a conservative. And he’s a decent man. And in Arkansas, where everybody knows everybody, it says a lot about Congressman Boozman’s reputation that he won so handily.

Being so caught up in the Senate race supporting Randy Alexander, I did not follow the Third Congressional District race closely; but I liked things said by Cecile Bledsoe and I intend to vote for her in the runoff.

By the way, one of the people I met during the Alexander campaign was Aaron Szabo, who has a production company, Imagine Film Company. We had great comments on our TV commercials and that stems not only from the image Randy projected, but how Aaron was able to capture it. We had very little money to work with, but Aaron put together some very simple productions that were really good. He was very affordable and easy to work with. A real pro.

Here’s my favorite of the spots:

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

On the Links

Let me get this straight: Disneyland hosts two hundred roaming cats to keep the rodent population down?

But, um, what about the Corporate Rodent Spokesmouse?,0,5574120,full.story

Friday, April 30, 2010

On the Links

Good analysis of the Tea Party movement in the American Spectator:

Powerline on the death panels:

Monday, April 26, 2010

Creek of Consciousness...

It’s been a wonderful spring on Wildcat Creek. Reminds me of the phrase that used to be (maybe still is, for all I know) on the mast of the newspaper in Springfield, Missouri: “’Tis a privilege to live in the Ozarks.”…Ironic to see Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Ramon Villaraigosa trying to tell the city’s unions there’s no more money. Villaraigosa got his start as a union organizer…Weekend Wall Street Journal had a compelling interview with Rwandan President Paul Kagame, who lead the country’s Tutsi minority against genocide. He’s not interested in foreign aid; rather, the future, he says, is in supply side economics and private investing. Are you listening, President Obama?...Heard somebody say the other day that they like getting information on the internet via video. Not me. Takes too much time. I’d rather skim and scan. Or read the transcript…Quick trip to Van Buren, Arkansas, Saturday to watch Union Pacific Railroad’s historic steam locomotive No. 844 chuff through. Like a classic car. But bigger. Much bigger. And loud…The Cutest Community Organizer to whom I’m married went to California for the weekend to help daughter Amber move. Here she is helping to prepare Amber’s house…Continue to work on the U. S. Senate campaign for Randy Alexander. Lots of candidates for Senate and for our Third Congressional District. In fact, if you’re from Arkansas and you are reading this, you and I are probably the only ones not running…What is it about Oklahomans? Nicest people in the world. Somebody has described Okie road rage as two people at a four-way stop sign, each trying the wave the other one through first. Even the Transportation Security Administration people at Tulsa airport are pleasant: “You all have a good day and a nice flight,” they smile…Leftist “worries” about Tea Party violence are laughable. Tea Party demonstrators are too busy cleaning up and leaving the site of their demonstration better than they found it…It began with the Reagan years and for the most part continued for about a quarter of a century: prosperity, real free market prosperity. Presidents George H. W. Bush and Bill Clinton knew not to tamper with it. Alas, George W. Bush got cold feet about it with the bank bailout. Now Barack Obama works to destroy it. It was a wonderful time, a time in which the rich got richer and the poor got richer, too…The health care bill is not the first time Democrats have stiffened resistance against themselves. The Fugitive Slave Act they championed in 1850, which compelled all U. S. civilians to aid in apprehending escaped slaves, fueled the abolitionist movement in the North.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Tea Parties: the Next Step

Couldn’t make the Tea Party rally on the Fayetteville, Arkansas, square yesterday.

Had to work.

There were several hundred reported to be in attendance. The Cutest Community Organizer to whom I’m married was there. She got drafted at the last minute to give a rendition of a poem on taxation she had come across

Of course, the Cutest Community Organizer was dramatic. As she has been known to be. She told me she got everyone snapping their fingers like real ‘50s beatnik poets and then she recited/sang her poem. Like I said, I wasn’t there, but she did a performance for me last night after I got home from work. Funny stuff.

Today there’s not a lot in even the conservative blogs about yesterday’s Tea Party rallies around the country. Somehow I’m not too surprised. I’ve been a part of the movement since I attended the first rally in Fayetteville exactly a year ago yesterday. I volunteered to be involved with the local Tea Party organization and eventually ended up on its board of directors. After briefly serving there, I resigned along with another board member to be involved in that board member’s campaign for U. S. Senate. A third board member resigned to get involved in a separate campaign and a fourth board member considered resigning to run for political office. Even one of the founding members of the local Tea Party did not stay in leadership in it long; she now has a fulltime job as a statewide conservative grassroots organizer. Non-board Tea Party members are devoting time to poltical campaigning.

That’s part of the future of the Tea Party, I think: it’s going to be a gateway organization to funnel people into political campaigns/offices or into established political organizations. Many Tea Party people, including those of us in Washington County, have become active in the local Republican Party. They, at least, will tolerate us; the Democrats, I’m sure, would not. After all, some Democrats have been quick to use typical leftist tactics against Tea Party opposition: “Dissent? Isn’t that another word for racism?”

There are attempts to nationally meld the local Tea Parties into one organization. That effort doesn’t seem to be going very well. That’s because the Tea Party is still in the grassroots “movement” stage. It’s a movement, not an organization.

Movements tend to go in one of two directions. Either they go through a fairly short life cycle, driven by the emotion of their cause, then sputter and disband when the emotion dies down. Or they organize and take on an institutional life which provides the mechanism to advance what they believe in. A classic example is John Wesley leading the pietistic Christian movement called “methodism.” After he died, the movement institutionalized into the Methodist Church.

Although our local Tea Party is highly organized, I’m not sure if that’s happening around the country. If anything, what I see crystallizing is ultimately not a national organization but a rallying point.

That rallying point is the Constitution.

People are reading it, studying it, and making plans to find ways to return the country to following it. If it’s not happening already, I envision study groups will begin springing up around the country to focus on the Constitution and the principles of the Declaration of Independence.

As a result, I’m not disappointed that yesterday’s Tea Party rallies may not have been as large as last year. Or even that attendance is declining in our local monthly meetings.

The Tea Party has brought people together, showed them they are not alone. Now folks are putting their efforts elsewhere: into other organizations, into political parties, into running for office.

All working to restore the Constitution.

Will the Tea Party continue? Perhaps, as a universal rallying point, as a clearing house of some kind. Or as something no one has yet grasped.

And if the Tea Party is no longer drawing the crowds like it did at first? No big deal. People are engaged, deeply engaged.

It’s Tea Party 2.0.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Confessions of a Recovering Journalist Part Two

In my relatively short career as a journalist, there came a day when I was unprofessional.

Very unprofessional.

That’s because that after interviewing a political candidate, I told the candidate that I supported his candidacy.

That was very unprofessional.

However, there were no other reporters around, no members of the public were there, no one was present except the candidate’s entourage. It was just a one-on-one interview between me, a radio reporter, and the candidate whom I had tracked down at a Missouri airport.

Yes, I told him I supported him. But with essentially no one there, I felt no guilt.

And I’m glad I did it.

That was back in the day when reporters at least feigned some kind of objectivity. It was nothing like the era of Clinton or the era of Obama, where journalists have become the de facto public relations arms of the candidates they cover.

The President sexually harasses an intern, lies about it under oath, then gets himself impeached and what happens? A pack of journalists jump up to protect him, to go after those prudes making the accusations.

And Obama? Don’t get me started. Journalists slobbering over themselves, having their legs tingling, running out of adjectives to describe the messiah. Anybody who dares ask the hard questions like journalists are supposed to do is labeled a racist, an enemy of the state, perhaps a domestic terrorist.

Or gets his or her reputation slashed like Joe the Plumber or Sarah Palin.

What happened to the real reporters?

What happened to the guys who always believed that everyone – everyone – was attempting to manipulate, lie to, take advantage of, and use them?

“Your mother says she loves you? Better check that out,” they would say.

And they were only half-joking.

What happened to the guys with the healthy suspicion about news sources? New sources in the real reporter’s mind, always want one thing: their point of view in your newspaper or on your airtime. Period.

Of course they can have their point of view in our paper or on our airtime. They just need to talk to the advertising department about it and they can pay to distribute most any message they want. You pay, you say. Otherwise, it’s my job as the reporter to frame the story in as fair and objective and truthful way as I can. And that may not be exactly the way the news source wants it.

Too bad. I’m not here for you, Mr. or Ms. News Source. My allegiance is to my readers/listeners/viewers.

That’s why some reporters went to great lengths to portray objectivity. Some of them would go to the extreme of even not voting. Because they knew they trafficked in one thing: not newspapers sold, not broadcast ratings. They knew their stock-in-trade was credibility.


Without it, how can we report the news?

That’s a big reason why the mainstream media is dying today. It’s not entirely the new technology or the defunct business plans, although that’s part of it.

It’s because the news media have sold their souls to their own agendas. And those of the people they cover.

And, given what their role is in the Republic, they’ve become very unprofessional.

As I was that day back in 1976 when after an interview I told a tall, genial Californian that I supported him.

I was unprofessional. I admit it. But had anyone else been around to witness it, I would never have said what I did.

But I did. And I’m glad.

Because the candidate eventually succeeded in his quest and became one of the world’s great leaders.

The candidate was Ronald Reagan.

And to this day he still has my support.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Confessions of a Recovering Journalist Part One

April 4, 2010
In my younger days I used to commit journalism.
While being a university professor is the best job I’ve ever had, being a journalist was probably the most fun.
What’s not to like? Just hanging out a lot, meeting interesting people, being the first to find out something, getting backstage passes.
As I say, what’s not to like?
I only did journalism for about five years or so: two newspapers, some radio stations and a cable television operation.
And instead of being referred to as a journalist, actually, I prefer the word “reporter.”
Reporters are guys who pal around with cops, judges, and aldermen. While they’re all friendly, sort of, reporters aren’t afraid to write critical things about cops, judges, and aldermen. If the reporter is fair, the cops, judges, and aldermen recognize that just as their jobs require them to be tough with people, the reporter has a job to do, too.
It’s all very professional. Everybody has a role to play.
Journalists? I’m not sure what they do. Go to grad school, I guess. And try to make journalism into a “profession” like law or medicine.
Given a choice between a journalist and a reporter, I’d rather read what a reporter has to say.
Best compliment I ever heard for a reporter was at a newspaper. Referring to a thin, middle aged reporter, the assistant editor said something like: “Don is old school. He can turn out a story with a cup of two-day old coffee and an old beat up typewriter with only 12 keys that work.”
Don was a reporter, you see. Not a journalist.
At any rate, I describe myself as having once been a journalist because not many people remember what a reporter is any more. Reporters have gone the way of bottle openers, floored-based car dimmer switches, and those old beatup typewriters.
But I miss those guys. And there were some sharp women among them, too.
If we still had reporters, someone before last year’s election would have asked Barack Obama the tough questions.
And then, from a haze of cigarette or cigar smoke, one of those reporters in their rapid two-fingered hunt-and-peck typing style would simply have written what Candidate Obama said.
And Obama would be found wanting.
And things would have been different.
It would have all been very simple.
No messiah. No swooning journalists. No tingling legs.
The fourth estate would have done its job.
Reporters would report. You would decide.
I miss those guys.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Saturday Afternoon with the Wall Street Journal

March 30, 2010

Given the internet and my lack of faith in contemporary journalists, I rarely read newspapers anymore. Except for the Wall Street Journal. In fact, it’s one of the few if not the only major newspaper that has not lost circulation in recent years.

A few days ago I decided to spend some time reading the weekend edition of the Journal. As a business professor I should really spend at least an hour a day reading it front to back, noting articles to talk about in class; others to link to for my students. That’s hard to do given the different demands on my time.

At any rate, I decided to take some time Saturday afternoon to leisurely read the paper. I was amazed at how chock full of controversial material just the first section of that day’s Journal was.

For instance:

--A few years back when the anti-Wal-Mart frenzy was at its peak, the city of Chicago refused to allow the big retailer to put a new store within the city limits. As I recall, Wal-Mart instead located nearby just over the city limits in a suburb. In reality, Wal-Mart has for the most part ringed Chicago with suburban stores. Except for one Wal-Mart in Chicago, the core city has lost sales taxes, jobs, and a place for lower income people to shop. Now, things have changed: ministers from Chicago’s South Side – most of them black – are pressuring the Chicago city council to permit a Wal-Mart Supercenter in a middle class neighborhood called Chatham Market. Some of these ministers earlier opposed Wal-Mart. But there are hard economic realities: the article quotes a Wal-Mart executive as saying that Chicagoans are going to the suburbs to spend a half a billion dollars each year at Wal-Marts. I don’t know what Chicago’s sales tax is, but if it’s 10% and all those stores were in the city, that would total $50 million in tax revenue. Of course, not all of those stores would be inside Chicago, but you get the idea. Also, the executive said, 2,400 Chicagoans commute to the suburbs to work at Wal-Mart stores. Plus, many lower-income people have to leave town to take advantage of Wal-Mart’s prices. Despite the recognition of advantages of having Wal-Mart in Chicago, there are still opponents. For instance, the inappropriately-named Good Jobs Chicago Coalition wants Chicago employers of more than fifty people to legally be required to pay a “living wage” of $11 dollars per hour. Wal-Mart sees it differently. They start people a few dollars below that; however, that changes over time: the average wage for non-management people at Chicago’s only Wal-Mart is $11.30. That’s more than what the Good Jobs coalition wants. I think the ministers see that, too. Besides, I’d trust the guys who know the realities of the free market to determine wages rather than a group of Chicago community organizers.

--I’ve written earlier that this health care bill is a complex Rube Goldberg scheme that has flaws, contradictions, potential lawsuits, and gaps in care that we’re going to be discovering and discovering and discovering as things go in effect. First, we found out that the bill designed to cover all uninsured children with pre-existing conditions doesn’t. Now, here’s another problem: the bill requires establishment of high-risk pools to cover people with health problems who are currently uninsured. The bill says the pools have to be set up in 90 days. Right. We could get to the moon in less than a decade but it seems that the people charged with organizing these pools are finding that 90 days may not be enough time to set them up. Aren’t you glad they passed the bill so we could find out about all this neat stuff?

--On Page A6 of the weekend Journal was a story about a federal regulation requiring contractors who remodel older homes to have special federal lead-paint certifications, to spread plastic all over the place while working, and to wear special clothing to offset the alleged dangers of lead in paint in older houses. Are you kidding me? We rip things up on our 107-year-old farmhouse and don’t worry about things like that. Wasps, yes; lead paint, no. The EPA claims over a quarter of a million children over a five year period ending in 2004 had elevated lead levels in their blood. I doubt it. The EPA is the group, after all, that is not really tuned into reality. They’re the ones who want to tax the air we breathe and to regulate cow flatulence. Please. If any kids suffered the effects of lead paint like the EPA says, I doubt if it was from a remodeling job. But here’s real the kicker: this all goes into effect April 22. April 22!!!! As in a few weeks. The EPA says it has trained 50,000 individuals to remodel in the EPA way and they say another 50,000 will be trained by April 22. But an industry association says so far only 135 of the 212,000 contracting businesses and 14,000 of the 236,000 individual contractors have been certified. Whom to believe? They had better figure something out quickly because when this goes into effect, contractors face fines of $37,000 per day for noncompliance. Have any of these EPA people ever worked in the private sector?

--Also on Page A6 is a great picture that illustrates much of what I’ve written above. It’s from Ellicott City, Maryland, and it’s a picture of an eight-car train wreck.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Creek of Consciousness:

We have both parties to thank for all the illegal immigrants, in my judgment: the Republicans wanted cheap labor; the Democrats wanted cheap votes…Maybe I’ll write on my tax return envelope this year what I said last year: “I paid my taxes, Mr. Treasury Secretary. I hope you paid yours”…It’s what they all have in common: Newt Gingrich has a politically correct way of identifying terrorists. He calls them “non-Rotarians”...Ever notice the way President Obama hisses out the word “profits” as though it were the equivalent of child pornography?…Unlike many other couples, the Cutest Community Organizer and I rarely disagree about money. Except maybe a little bit: she says she’s frugal and I’m cheap…I knew we were in trouble last year when John McCain, the Republican candidate, said he didn’t know much about economics. Oh, great, I thought. You know what you call people who don’t understand economics? They’re called Democrats...Some people think the things Glenn Beck says are crazy, extreme. I wish. The President brings communists into the White House, puts Mao on the Christmas tree, calls for wealth redistribution and nationalizes the banks, the car companies and the health care system all while indebting us beyond comprehension. And Glenn Beck is extreme?...After global warming dumped a foot of snow on Northwest Arkansas, the temperature then rocketed into the 60s. A friend said he was driving with the air conditioning on while watching the snow melt…Question for the death panels: my university students will be evaluating my teaching next week. Where do I send the results to determine if I’m still productive enough for health care?...Freud’s discredited but I still said it: writing a news release for a candidate I’m working for, I accidentally referred to the new government scheme as “health scare.”

On the Links

On the links

Sharpening the Patriot Act against the right.


Crimes of opinion in the People’s Paradise


No wonder the President insulted the Supreme Court over their corporate communications decisions. It’s allowing center-right groups to speak out.


Grandma the Terrorist? Michelle Malkin on all the hand-wringing by Democrats regarding those hateful Tea Partiers:


Speaking of which. Here’s some news the Establishment would consider non-news:
twenty – count ‘em – twenty leftist death threats against Sarah Palin:


Gore: "…we might be publicly criticized for running a pro-Democrat voter mill and even risk having Congress stop us." You think?


“But something about that deep rumbling out in the country says We the People have only begun to controvert.” From a few days ago, but Mr. Paul says it well.


“So, what happens when a dragon slayer – paid per dragon head – runs out of real dragons to slay? Well, he invents new ones, of course.” Matt Barber on the Southern Poverty Law Center.


Adult reassurance: Just because I post links doesn’t mean I agree with everything they say. Sometimes I wonder if I agree with absolutely everything I say.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Why I Quit Eating Steak

March 25, 2010

While an undergraduate at Michigan State University about 1969, there was a little steak cafeteria just off campus that I’d go to maybe once a week. I could buy a nice little steak, some Texas toast, a baked potato, and a salad. By drinking water, I kept the price to right at a dollar – that’d be about $5.75 today. Not bad for a really good meal.
Then came graduation and a move to Colorado in 1971. That was the year President Richard Nixon introduced wage and price controls. It was his plan to fight inflation that was what? Five percent?
Introduced in August, the wage and price controls lasted ninety days. Then for the next few years, there were different phases of wage and price controls that were, I think, on again and off again.
My personal problem with those wage and price controls was that they made me stop eating steak.
In 1972, having married the lady who would someday become the Cutest Community Organizer, I enjoyed going maybe once a week with her to a little steak house near where we lived in Pueblo, Colorado. It was somewhat similar to the cafeteria at Michigan State and the steak was good and the price was right.
As the seventies moved on and the Nixon Administration attempted to work its magic with the economy, I noticed the quality of steak began to decline. Then I learned that wage and price controls had messed up the supply chain that delivered the steak. I don’t remember the details, but as the cattle moved from rancher to feedlot operator to slaughterhouse to wholesaler to retailer to my plate, somebody in the chain got to raise their prices while somebody else in the chain could not. Again, I can’t recall the specifics, but it might have been something like the ranchers or feed suppliers could raise their prices but the feedlot operator could not. At any rate, somebody in the chain had to buy product at unregulated prices then had to sell the product at regulated prices. It was an economic idea worthy of government: buy high, sell low.
With those machinations, whoever was being squeezed in the supply chain began to pass on lower qualities of meat. Instead of those nice sweet steaks of Michigan State and early Pueblo days, I now was wrestling with tough junk that tasted flat and was hard to chew.
I quit eating steak. I learned that the low priced steak houses could no longer provide what I had expected in one of my favorite foods. To this day, I dislike modestly-priced steak. Even in nice restaurants where I would pay more money for steak, I found that you take your chances: sometimes a high-priced steak would be good; otherwise it wouldn’t. So why bother? Why risk a good amount of money to be disappointed?
I may be missing something in the economics of this. Since I rarely eat steak any more, I don’t pay much attention to it as a product . It may be many things have occurred besides Nixon messing with the economy nearly forty years ago that have resulted in my inability to find good inexpensive steak and my reluctance to spend top dollar for so-called quality steak.
All I know is that government tampering with markets ruined for me the pleasure of a nice, juicy steak.
Which brings me to my real concern.
I can live without a modest steak indulgence, but the forces which wrecked the steak supply chain are going to start killing people.
Watching government types think they can command and control all aspects of the pricing, supplying, regulating, and, yes, rationing of the health care system would be funny if it weren’t so serious.
They’ve developed a Rube Goldberg device and no one can comprehend what’s in it. How many rancher-to-feedlot-type contradictions are in there? What happens when there is too much Item A provided when we need Item B? And that it all should at Point C instead of Point D? What if the whole thing creates a picture as ridiculous as all of those New Orleans buses that could have been used to evacuate people from Katrina but were never moved to higher ground before the flooding began?
People are going to die from this.
Already I’ve heard two insurance professionals say that the new health care bill’s demand that insurers pay out 85 percent of premiums instead of the current 65 percent will have a devastating effect come January 1. Either insurance companies will have to double or triple premiums or go out of business.
Buy high, sell low.
Other creepy things are beginning to push their way out of this mess of a health bill. For instance, one of the big arguments for the health plan was that it would cover pre-existing conditions. Now, the Associated Press says the language of the bill does not cover pre-existing conditions for some children.
Great. I thought that was another reason why they had to do this. For the children.
What governments refuse to face is that free markets create information that allows buyers and sellers to determine the true value of goods and services. In other words, free markets determine prices. Given the seemingly infinite number of transactions and prices that must be determined, only markets – not government – can generate the required information to truly determine value.
But the government guys always have to interfere.
“We want to help the people. We’ll use our power to suspend the laws of economics. After all, it’s for the people. We know what’s best for them. We want to protect them. True, they may not like it, but they’ll come love it. In the meantime…
“Let them eat steak.”

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Paging Doctors Moylan and Crusher...

March 24, 2010

Doctor Moylan was our family doctor when I was growing up in the 1950s Detroit suburb of Oak Park. I don’t know his first name. “Doctor,” I guess.

Doc Moylan was maybe 40 years old. Or 45. Or 50. I was a kid, after all, and as a kid you think everyone is old.

Being about nine years old I remember one day when my mother sent me to visit Doc Moylan. Obviously I wasn’t sick because I walked or rode my bicycle a little over a half mile to Doc Moylan’s office. Might have been a physical checkup or something.

Doc Moylan had his little office on Geneva Street just off Nine Mile Road in Oak Park. I was in that neighborhood a lot. Across Geneva Street was Efros Drugs where my mother would send me to pick up stuff for her. I liked Efros because they had a lot of comic books and they had a cool section in the back where you could buy a bunch of those magic tricks that were advertised in the comic books. A few doors down from Efros on Nine Mile were the offices of Carpentry by Landry, a major contractor run by my uncle and a place from which my dad and most of my uncles worked.

I don’t remember if Doc Moylan had a secretary or a receptionist. I do know that he was an oldtime lone practitioner. And he made house calls. I recall him coming to our house and into my Vicks Vapo-Rub-smelling bedroom when I was sick. He had the traditional little doctor bag and would poke and examine me, then speak confident medical-type words to my mother, assuring her I was okay.

Doc Moylan liked to talk. You got not only health care from Doctor Moylan, but you got an enjoyable visit with a genial man who genuinely liked people. I remember on that day when I went by myself to his office on Geneva that he wanted to know how my parents were and what was going on with us.

I don’t remember paying Dr. Moylan anything that day – I imagine he billed my parents or more likely settled up with them the next time one of them made a visit.

Doctor Moylan couldn’t exist today. For one thing, advances in medical care for the most part have done away with the house call. Can’t lug all that fancy equipment around in the back of a Buick. Also, you can’t financially support the clerical staff needed for insurance and Medicare processing by sitting around chatting with the folks. Medical practice today has to be about producing revenue. And while I’m sure Doc Moylan had some kind of liability insurance he probably did not worry too much about his patients suing him. After all, they were his patients, his friends, and he was almost like an uncle in their families.

Doc Moylan had the luxury and the privilege of mainly providing personal care and expertise, much of it based upon the knowledge he carried around in his head (I’ve heard the old docs were experts at diagnosis by focusing on the smell of the patient and the room).

As great as Doctor Moylan was, I wouldn’t want to go back to the medical care of the 1950s.

Dentists offices in those days were torture chambers and an out-patient cataract operation I had about ten years ago would have required three weeks of recuperation in bed and permanent poor vision despite the operation. Today, it’s different: we have friends whose son had laser-directed heart surgery – heart surgery! – as an out-patient procedure.

It’s like we’ve been on the way to that little device Dr. Beverly Crusher waved over the patients of Star Trek the Next Generation that magically healed them.

Ah, but that won’t be coming anytime soon.

At least not from the United States.

That’s because we took the most advanced medical system in the world and one Sunday we broke it.

Correction: “we” did no such thing.

They did.

Driven by their pride, their bribes, their tricks, their cunning and most of all by the white hot Marxist agenda of the President and his White House thugs, they choked and stomped and kicked and gouged the American people until they got what they wanted.

And they’re wrecking a great health care system. It’s a system that prompted a Canadian provincial premier to leave left his national medical system to come here for surgery. Castro probably would have come here for medical treatment, too, but that would be hard to explain to the folks back in the worker’s paradise so he went to Spain instead.

To attain that health care has required investments of billions of dollars. And to secure those billions of dollars has required operation of the free market, even a free market compromised by government interference and the efforts of blood sucking tort lawyers.
And it truly has been a great system.

But now, like Captain Smith and the Titanic designer examining the damage shortly after the ship hit the iceberg, it’s dawning on us what we’re in for.

And it’s not pretty.

There’ll be no magic tools for Dr. Crusher.

And the standards we have today won’t last.

And medicine won’t be practiced the way it is now.

Which brings me back to Dr. Moylan.

Dr. Moylan had a personal relationship with his patients. But the technological advances made guys like him obsolete. Productivity became the byword. And because of changes in philosophies we had about insurance, we began to expect all the medical magic but with someone else paying. Throw in government pressure through Medicare and there was no way Dr. Moylan could spend his time chatting about your family.

As wonderful as the medical advances have been, a generation ago we lost the personal aspect of medicine. For a long time it’s been about costs and containment. Even my current doctor of fifteen years, a great guy in the tradition of old Doc Moylan, has time pressures. When I see him I can sense that as much as he’d like to sit and talk, there’s crushing financial overhead to fend off and revenue to be generated by moving on to another patient.

I understand.

But wait until my current doc becomes a government employee. We know how bureaucracies do things: they’ll squeeze the life out of us as individuals, but with their innate inefficiencies, they will never cut costs.

Sorry, Dr. Moylan. Sorry, Dr. Beverly Crusher.

It looks like the past and the future of American medicine are gone.

On the links

Whoops! Old John Dingell had a slip of the tongue on Detroit’s WJR and admitted that the health care bill is to “control the people.”

Thomas Sowell recalls FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover’s control over presidents and others with his infamous files. And he says, wait until the politicos get our health records.

Ben Stein quotes Churchhill: “In defeat, defiance.”

On the links…

If taxes are the price we pay for civilization, we’ve now become more civilized, right? Not according to Christopher Chantrill in American Thinker


It’s All About Them.

Boston Globe: With the Vote a New Stature for Obama
ABC News Tonight: Peloso “Most Powerful Woman” in History.


I’ll remember that when my Federal Cost-Benefit Analysis/Department of Motor Vehicles Review/Internal Medicine-Revenue Service dispatches me to the death panel.

Guess it’s time to check Netflix for Soylent Green.