Friday, November 29, 2013

Anger turned inward

I'm not a shrink. Nor am I a psychologist or a social worker.

I know how it is to feel very depressed, the kind that comes from internal factors, i.e., chemical imbalances and hard wiring in the brain, as I have been diagnosed with Bipolar I Disorder and am currently being treated with drug therapy. I have been in therapy for nearly five years.

The other form of depression is caused by extrinsic forces you cannot control such as the death of a loved one, a lost job and other life shattering events, which usually resolves with time and action. Sometimes you'll hear that depression is anger turned inward, much of which is caused by protracted feelings of helplessness and hopelessness. Many times people who are depressed need short term drug therapy to get them over the hump and back into the swing.

I think the American people are very depressed and yes, living those lives of quiet desperation because of the tremendous change and upheaval we are currently experiencing. Affected folks who are in their 50s and 60s are especially hit hard because they simply don't have the time to make up for losses caused by Obama's lame policies--and, yes, they're angry. Once that anger sets up and is equated with a foreclosure, a job loss or the dependence upon others for help, or all of these events occurring at the same time, facing the black dog of depression is probably unavoidable. We're only human, after all.

Moreover, there's insult to injury amongst older out-of-work men and women, which is the result of the generation gap between younger workers and them. Ageism is the large unspoken problem for many of these workers and again, that lack of control, and hurt, continues. No wonder so many people have given up looking for jobs. The longer they stay out of work, the older and less relevant they feel. And the more entrenched they seem in their spheres of no influence. They are in a helpless state.

And to whom do people look for some solutions? Well, that's another source of disappointment and frustration. We see a boy king--our president--who is doing his best to quickly push through all the progressive, collectivist, wealth redistribution programs he can, while we're supposedly not looking, and while Harry Reid hijacks the democratic process by removing the super majority vote from the senate rules. In the meantime, we have no representation. Depressing.

College graduates, dressed up and no where to go, must be distressed that they cannot find the job to pay off their student loans and instead find that unemployment among that group is beyond 53%. Young taxpayers must be miffed that they're being asked to subsidize the older and sicker among us while they are hale and hearty themselves. Why should they bear the burden of the rest of the world involuntarily? And why does this version of the Obama administration continually cozy up to immigration politics such as it did yesterday when he and Mrs. Obama met with protesters who are fasting at the Washington mall? Can't he differentiate between the war veterans he kicked out during the shut down and a bunch of illegals who are owed absolutely nothing from the rest of us? It is most depressing to see his constantly challenged allegiance going astray one more time. He does not have the impluse of a president who takes seriously his job of loving America first.

Instead, we are subjected to such onerous, behemoth POS legislation called Obamacare, about which we were lied to by the President of the United States. Instead of demanding that this entire debacle be defunded, we watch Capitol Kabuki theater. Any dollars which we have tried to put aside for retirement (if we have any), are becoming less valuable by Quantitative Easing, another useless scheme the Obama Regime has lain on the American economy. This redistribution of wealth is probably the most insidious of all of Obama's games. Once planted in the infrastructure, Obamacare will wipe out billions of dollars in wealth and destroy the insurance industry in the process. Of course, this was always designed to get the system to its end game--the universal care, single payer system. It's depressing to realize that death panels, euphemistically called health care rationing, are in our future. The eugenicists can't be far behind. In fact, some of them even wrote part of the law. What's particularly frightening--and depressing--is that the death panels will single out people like me, those they consider marginal because of mental health issues. Pretty Nazi-ish if you ask me.

Watching today's media is depressing. It is especially so as we view the Versailles press surrounding the White House and its inhabitants. For instance, did you know that the President hosted a Thanksgiving dinner for ten guests? And when he was asked who those guests were, the White House refused to give up their names. It is a private dinner...on tax-payer's china, in the tax-payers house, with tax-payer's wine and beef or turkey, and who paid the chefs and servers with tax-payer's TAXES! And the press corps just sits and slobbers over this president.

Depressed yet?

The list of the most remarkable changes and insults include our Middle East policy, what's left of it. It's interesting that we're challenging China militarily, not sure what that's about; and I'm not quite understanding the Muslim appointments in the White House, except there are six of them in high tier jobs which are connected in some way to Islamic relations. I wonder if we have the equivalent positions for other major religions. Somehow, I doubt that. All of this is rather depressing because Obama's actions seem so unilateral and dictatorial. He thinks he's, wait. He has been made Teflon by his toady press corps. So much more slobbering that it's slippery out there.

And finally, this morning, I am drawn to the latest, "I dreamed of  Peyton Manning," by Maureen Dowd, the leftist New York Times columnist. She states she is a latecomer fan to football (please, Lord, save us) and, with her new found "knowledge," attempts to compare the stars in football to characters in Jane Austen novels such as Sense and Sensibility and Emma. She says she's an RGIII fan. Wait till she finds out he's a practicing, demonstrable Christian! She'll have to look away when he gets down on his knee and prays and thanks God for the TD. Oh, and she wants to support a team that is not boorish. Well, that lets out the Steelers and the Raiders. Presumably, those would only include squads whose zip codes abut oceans. I'm pretty sure my Kansas City Chiefs would be considered peasants and most unworthy of her appraisals.

Now the lefties are fooling around with my football. Jane Austen indeed! Where's my antidepressant? Quick, before I get real mad!

Thanks for the read.

Friday, November 22, 2013

Where I was the day JFK was killed

Today. November 22, 2013. Fifty years later.

As I write, this morning in southern California is an exact copy of the one in Ft. Worth, Texas the day President Kennedy was shot--cold and rainy. I was an eighteen-year old freshman at Texas Christian University in Ft. Worth, Texas, preparing for my half day of classes. As I fixed my hair and applied my make up, the voice on the AM station in my dorm room updated us with the juicy details of where the Kennedys had been the day before and where they were going: how President Kennedy and his wife had been to Houston where they had visited NASA; how the First Couple alit in San Antonio and had spread their magic there among local Latinos.

Finally, dead on their feet, the President and Mrs. Kennedy ended activities that day at the Hotel Texas in Ft. Worth. Not to be embarrassed by their vocal, snobby neighbor Dallas, the locals decided to doll up the President's suite by borrowing sixteen original works of world famous art from some of Ft. Worth citizens' private collections. Dallas was always putting down Ft. Worth, calling it Cowtown. In the meantime, Ft. Worth, usually shrugged and just counted their money and tried not to worry about it. This time, a nerve must have been struck and putting on airs seemed appropriate. It's probable neither of the couple really saw the paintings as tired as they seemed to be.

The next morning--very early--November 22, 1963, the President appeared out in front of the hotel in the rain and entertained the crowd, while the First Lady was deciding what she'd wear today. The forecast was for clearing and sunny skys, typical of a warmish fall Texas day. She decided on a pink mohair wool suit trimmed in blue with a matching signature pillbox hat. Pure Jackie. Practical as well, Mrs. Kennedy had worn that same suit before at least five times.

Back on campus and late for my lab, I left the Kennedys with a background of clinking silverware and a small voice noise at the morning breakfast just as the President began speaking about how no one ever worries about what he and Lyndon were wearing that day. What a lovely sense of humor and delivery JFK displayed. No wonder everyone loved him.

Some time after noon, as I was leaving my English class in Sadler Hall, and stepping out into beautiful sunlight, I saw a small crowd and someone I recognized as Tom Sawyer, a guy who ironically looked very much like JFK. I heard him shout above everyone, "Kennedy's been shot!"

We were all in shock, then came tears, then the heartbreak, then the reality.

Then we all got caught up in the 24-hour per day television spectacle.Watching TV was what Americans did for three or four days. It was brutal emotionally because of the Kennedy family, especially Jackie and her children. Copious tears and upheaval was the order of the day. It was hideous.

The collateral rites and activities that accompanied the funeral of President John Fitzgerald Kennedy were fitting of a hero, even one who was a deeply flawed man in the flesh, yet carried a cache of morality that captured the American spirit and hope in all of us. He was a leader of men, profoundly dismayed by Communism and Socialism. He made no apology for hating organized crime. He knew that all boats float, and regardless of his father's dubious and downright illegal methods of obtaining money, he understood capitalism. Moreover, he was a demonstrated warrior and  Naval Officer who had seen action. He was one of the greatest generation, after all, who saw America's future as her best ever.

Unfortunately, many, many people believe that there is much more to the President's assassination than we're told. I've wrestled with it and have come up with maybes and nothing more. Knowing that politics is not only dirty, but also deadly, I can't help but wonder who else wanted him dead. We are now seeing how his personal conduct would've blown up in his face through blackmail. Then, a more conservative public would probably have turned against him. Then, there was the mob...and his mistresses he shared with Sam Giancana...and Frank Sinatra...and with Bobby...and then there's Marilyn. Camelot may have been only temporary anyway. How sad.

Fifty years later. Same day and date, same Thanksgiving week. Same questions. Eerie

Thanks for the read.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Bill Clinton's shot across O's bow

Has the Hillary Clinton campaign for president unofficially begun? Her husband, the ever subtle Bill, has offered some advice to a president in steep decline: President Obama, live up to the promises you made in the name of the Federal Government and let people keep their current health care plans.

President Clinton's guidance, however timed, most certainly gives his fellow democrats the cover they're seeking to drop this load of legislative dung--and the presidential dung maker--to make way for a new and improved health care plan; this time, however, the plan would be simpler and without personal indemnification and fines. It's the new Hillarycare 2.0, coming soon to all American homes--but, only for those who actually want it. President Clinton is using this issue as a front loading cover for Mrs Clinton's terrible job performance at the State Department, part of a likely constellation of many, many left wing ideological issues that she and her fellow big government-loving dems embrace as an instruction to a favored way of living one's life. Forget Benghazi and those enriching Chinese deals of the 1990s, she's your gal, your first woman president.

Mrs. Clinton's asking/instructing/conniving with her husband to kibbitz over Obama's broken promises can be enough to start the discussion on overturning and/or changing the entire law to fit her view of universal health care. During the presidential primary, she went to the mat insisting there was no way Obama's proposed health care plan could coerce the American public to buy insurance. It could not fine, nor for that matter, incarcerate anyone who would not go along with the plan, as it would be unconstitutional, and impossible to enforce (ironically, Chief Justice Roberts and the rest of the Supreme Court's left side declared the money part of the law a tax such that the IRS could enforce the fines and  impose possible jail sentences for recalcitrance).

That was then. Now we have a troubled and challenged system implementation which comes as a gift to the republicans and something that can be compared to a case of shingles for democrats; and strangely, a demonstrable boondoggle and an eerily untoward Obama legacy to Hillary Clinton. She can sing to the heavens for her good luck. What's eerie is that the Clintons usually make their own luck.

The Clintons are masters in the milieu of public imagery and perception management. They know they must react as opportunity presents itself. The ex-president carefully places a statement, usually some sugar coated criticism, and the media gratefully sends it into the stratosphere, like a second coming, for all to hear and see. Notice that Mrs. Clinton does not speak publicly unless it is a controlled interview or from the dais accepting an award or presenting a speech. She's not ready for her close up--probably deciding if she'll go Full Monty on a face lift. (I think she should, by the way.)  She will defy gravity, she must, according to Millineals.

Poor President Obama. I don't believe he realized back in 2007 just how harsh top flight politics would be. He's being directly hit for how he treated Mrs. Clinton in the primary. No matter how many career appointments, no matter how much he covers up for her on Benghazi, she'll never forgive him. In addition, this health care issue is a trickster which must be managed often offstage. More well-thought-out bombs will be launched as the need for ship-jumping increases in the party, and as the reality of the constraints and expense of Obamacare become known to the American people. Some of it has already started with Democratic Senator Mary Landrieu of Louisiana talking up her own changes to the ACA. The congressional elections are just a year a way, after all. The outcry is bound to increase.

In the meantime, let the salvos continue!

Thanks for the read.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Incognito's bad attitude

Much to the great concern and dismay of most of my girlfriends, I am a crazy sports fan--most particularly of college and professional football. I have my favorite teams which I expect to light up my life beginning late summer and through bowl games, playoffs and well into the next February when the time for the greatest football show of all time finally rolls around: The Super Bowl.

Great expectations
It's good to have two teams* to root for in case one of them turns into a doggie and you have to wear a bag over your head in shame. Sometimes, you have to wear two bags if both your teams let you down. It can be a devastating passage in one's life to have the quarterbacks you've helped raise (in your mind), get manhandled by five or six semis dressed up like defensive linemen because your offensive linemen look like Bambi on an interstate at night.

Yes, heartbreak accompanies the downside of fandom. It is a hazard which we must prepare ourselves for. I think the professionals should call it "Rams Syndrome." Perennial Los Angeles Rams fans know what I'm talking about. As far as I know, there is no cure, only learning to live with it.

Sticks and stones
Because I have invested nearly fifty-five years to the practice of watching football (I was a cheerleader in junior/high school and am a coach's kid), and because I'm old, I am claiming a certain right to holler about this ridiculous Incognito/Martin bullying baloney.

This issue belongs with the players, the owners and the coaches. Hazing is not new. Listen to the ex-NFL guys asserting the locker room activities, hazing practices, etc. Martin was stupid to bring it to the media and now Incognito will have to go away for a while. It's all so absurd. These are words, people. Words. So, Martin makes a federal case out of it? Please. He's an NFL player, for cripes sake. He can't take it? Please. He gets zero respect from me.

Non-fans can ride their high horses all they want; the fans of football understand that these very special people who number in the low thousands, these super human physical powerhouses provide the kind of competitive spirit and excitement that can't be found anywhere else in the world. In fact, football is the last truly American sport.

If non-fans in the media don't like football, they can try to outlaw it. As far as I know, it is still legal to play and watch football.

Weed out the bad apples and move forward. Like this is anything new...

Thanks for the read.

*Texas Christian Horned Frogs (Where's my bag?)
  Kansas City Chiefs 9-0

Monday, October 21, 2013

I'm a Dem. Therefore, I'm not sorry.

Since being a Democrat means you never have to say you're sorry, I shouldn't be surprised that we finally hear through Democrat Senator Dick Durban of all people, that Secretary Kathleen Sebelius will indeed testify before a congressional committee.

Why does it take a senator to answer the call from the committee? Why doesn't the secretary herself respond? Most importantly, why was there ever a question as to her testifying?

Stonewalling congressional Republicans evidently is a job requirement within the Obama Administration, which must utilize the services of each and all Democrats. One can only recall Attorney General Erik Holder who tops the list of recalcitrant witnesses, and who practically had to be dragged before numerous congressional committees by a team of Percherons. Clydesdales were considered, but since Anheuser Busch was sold to the Belgians, well, you know, political correctness and all...

As importantly, there have been other times that the people in the Obama regime did not respond to their own serious, game changing mistakes and poor judgment by simply doing what's decent and resigning, let alone say they're sorry. They react like little children; no, they're actually more like spoiled, enabled teens who refuse to acknowledge self responsibility. Over and over again, this crowd chooses to distract and simply moves on. Many times, they even get promoted ala Susan Rice. (Mis)lead by an aloof, haughty and arrogant president, they gather around their campfires and talk about their righteous day of fulfilling the dream of collectivism. What a wonderful world in which these folks live--no accountability, no price to pay. Never having to say, well, you know--so, so solly!

We know in the private sector, a person who could not complete a job and failed in his mission would probably be expected to resign--or get fired. Not this crew; instead, they batten down the hatches and wait for the storm to pass. After all, the press never holds them to account. Why should they worry about a small time ethic like accountability? Unfortunately, today we're also seeing this casual view of quality control among the ranks of the teachers unions, government workers and in nearly every area that is infested with bureaucrats and workers who have forgotten the Golden Rule and or are encouraged to be dishonest. They've bred and bred again into a bitter, me-first extension of the worst of the party they voted for. It's a mindset based in class envy and reverse racism that appeals to the lowest in us.

It seems remote, but there once was a time we could carry on a decent conversation with our loyal opposition without being called hateful names, shouted down and eventually dismissed as simply being--according to them--wacko or crazy. Now that this tactic is acceptable in the mainstream social and political discussion, we Republicans have a huge obstacle to overcome at the outset of any debate.

The greater media has succeeded in taking the strengths of the Republican Party's agenda, such as fiscal responsibility, lower taxation and smaller government, and have tried to define us by dumping it all into a trough of fascist-sounding goo, instructing the world that the media's definition is fact. However, not even the smallest slice of their coverage/analysis is accurate, and we have to overcome their imprecise propositions before we can even begin the discussions at hand. At times, it is extremely tedious and frustrating. At other times, it is simply laughable to listen to the ridiculous assumptions voiced by the left/progressives and the media's parroting of that same tired old folklore. They would like to tell you that deep down: Of course, we Republicans hate families and want them all to starve. We wake up in the middle of the night laughing about how Johnny and Polly down the street are hungry because we Republicans are mean. Psst. We're also racists. And we hate gays, Latinos and anyone else who is not like us. And we're all old, white guys who love war and hate peace.

Speaking of goo, there's the social agenda among the Republican ideals. Bill Maher or Jon Stewart--I don't remember which-- when speaking about abortion, called the fetus nothing more than a bunch of goo, something like a lot of mucus, not unlike something you'd cough up. Just as the atheist who calls Jesus Christ my "imaginary friend," to my face, I am shocked to my middle when the argument's reduced to such infantile results. It is a callousness which is frightening to me, reminding me of an anti world, a grown up and sophisticated place of fashionable black clothes, hip haircuts, sadness and depravity. Regardless of what these entertainers say or don't say (think about what they do for a living and then we'll talk about their real contribution to society and respective importance--it's not like they're curing cancer), there are mega millions of Americans who do not believe that abortion is a right of the mother, and that the child within her is also an individual with rights of his own.

But that fight is probably over for now since Roe v Wade is law. I also understand that the rest of voting public have different views. I maintain the belief  held within the Republican Party that the government should not pay for abortions. Period. Therefore, I am called, by the media and the progressives, off balance, crazy, a hater of women. A Republican.

Assuredly, the left has had lots of help from some of the members of our party in their perennial struggle to dehumanize Republicans. Ted Cruz, the senator from Texas, has succeeded in bringing to the fore a group of fighters who are downright proud as a Texas skunk that they took no prisoners (but he sure did stink up the place). I see he got an eight-minute standing ovation in San Antonio on Friday. In a ballroom of a hotel. Seven-hundred-fifty people were there. In the meantime, he's alienated millions of the rest of us and put our party in the odd position of explaining how we could let an unknown take the rest of us down. I'm still trying to figure that out, not to mention where the heck did our pride go? I sure would like a Mulligan on this one.

Dennis Kucinich, a far left ex-congressman, for instance, has been around forever and even ran for president. The Dems did not capitulate to him and his followers by allowing him to threaten to close down the government in favor of his views. They never even thought about it. Ralph Nader has been a thorn in the Dem's side as long as there have been lousy cars. The point is the Dems know a losing proposition when they see it: closing the government is a gigantic loser, no matter who does it.

Leadership certainly failed us. Cruz had no business dictating the terms of the discussion to close down the government. And because Republicans usually seek accountability, I'm afraid Speaker Boehner will pay the price for allowing Cruz to have his head. That may have been John's worst decision of his political life. I'm wondering if the long knives are out as I write. Saying we're sorry isn't going to change anything. Too late.

What is wrong with the Republican Party overall, however, is the messenger, not the message. I will always believe that. We have governors galore who could fill the bill and give the country a new direction. I suggest we start a search there.

In the meantime, Secretary Sebelius has a United States Senator running interference for her. The Republicans maybe should take lessons from the Dems on unity and leadership. These days, never saying you're sorry sure seems to go a long way in politics. It figures.

Just ask the president.

Thanks for the read.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

The GOP: One big, hot mess

They're about to blink.

It's not like I didn't tell them so.

Shutting down the government was a boneheaded move. What's so frustrating and unacceptable is they didn't accomplish anything positive in the budget negotiations; neither did they manage to get a delay in the Ocare individual sign ups.

The sixteen or so days the Fed closed down went for nothing. All we ended up with was another shot of really, really bad press, poor public relations and a wretched display of a lack of leadership in the Senate and the House. Obama's own toadies in the press kept him above the fray, of course, while the media made our guys look dumb. Any bad press the president did receive was blamed on Republicans!

It occurs to me that the embarrassment of the Obamacare system kick off would have been even more dramatically apparent if the government hadn't been closed. That monster isn't going to come up with a fix very soon. The volume alone of the data has to be a prohibitive issue when managing such an IT behemoth. We could have made many more political points from that disaster if we'd not been concentrating on closed national parks and dead soldiers payouts.

Instead, with the shut down evidently in his rear view mirror, the president is moving on with an immigration bill, which will become another huge debate before the fatiqued American people. This polarizing issue was selected for its righteousness factor, thrown out as an emergency so this regime can cram even more leftist causes down America's throat--just in case they lose power. Psychologically, it is a great chance for the president to appeal to his base and one more way to stick it to the American middle class by getting them to pay for it.

Meanwhile, instead of the Republicans' viable, competing, conservative and legitimate point of view taking hold and our getting what we really wanted, we got beat up, insulted and shamed by a media dedicated to marginalizing anyone outside the D.C. power elite. It has, after all, always been the messenger that has been the GOP's problem, and the Ted Cruz personna is no exception. He's a street fighter, whose tactics many Republicans fear because of the national electability quotient. Besides, RINOs have a rough time being called names. That's why they're RINOs.

In the end, however, the firebrand newcomers simply didn't have the votes to continue this fight, begging the question: how come there were enough votes on September 30th, before the shut down, and not today? Who fell out and why? Who's responsible for that miscalculation?

Where do we go from here? I believe we start with recognizing and coalescing around which we agree. The predominant right wing of the party is not as extreme as most people think; nor are the RINOs as ideologically left as some think. Most Republicans are thinkers who come to this party for its fiscal policies and couldn't care less about the social planks of  our platform. Alternatively, the pro life folks stick with the party because there's no one else who survives and gets even close to their moral foundations. Ronald Reagan, remember, who was pro life, was a right wing Republican, yet he appealed to almost everyone.

Some Republicans like to get themselves into these legislative traps every so often, i.e., allowing Democrats to place them on the wrong side of history. They were told it was bad idea to shut down the government and they wouldn't listen. There were innumerable opportunities to bring attention to the life changing Obamacare debacle without the drop dead decision to shut down our government.

Gee, it's fun to be a Republican.

Thanks for the read.

Monday, October 7, 2013

Pull over, George. I wanna see the presidents!

Regardless of the fallout from closing down the government, probably the most salient takeaways of this whole event are the displays of the huge, impersonal and vast reach of our elected officials and bureaucrats as they hunker down and "mean business," to wit.

The Amber Alert apparatus is arbitrarily shut down--an important, vital key in missing child response--by someone in the upper echelon of our government, while Michelle Obama's "Get Moving" program is up and running.

Did you know that the World War II memorial is closed, yet the president can do golf over at Andrews AFB?

How about this?

This is the road past Mount Rushmore in South Dakota. The Feds have made it so one can't pull over or stop to take pictures of the monument. Think about that. This seems like a punitive action against the American people from a vengeful and immature group of those who are declaring that since the government has shut down, they are "...winning." As Speaker Boehner stated, this is not a damned game.

Evidently, the Dems think it might be a game because just the other day, a couple, 80 and 77, were scooped up and displaced from their Lake Mead cabin. They have lived in there for 30 years, but the Feds didn't care...they were to be out of there while the close down was going on (don't you get extra points for old people?). Using that reasoning, then, the president and Michelle, the kids and others should be moving out of the White House.

The Dems seem to think that if they make life miserable for everyone else, the Republicans will be blamed. There's an excellent chance that is true. However, people are fickle. The longer this goes on, and the harder the Dems make it on people, the more people see these ridiculous inconsistent, doasIsaynotasIdo kinds of treatment of people, the greater appreciation people have of smaller, getoutofmyface kinds of less intrusive and cavalier treatment.

Having the representatives of our government, e.g., park rangers, bureaucrats, Et al in these anti public stances can't help but distress many people. Now that the Obamacare system is starting up, there must be a deep distrust of our government and its agenda. Obamacare anxiety will increase as the facts about the health care plan are revealed.

We will begin to understand that the core reason for this shut down is based in stories like the following: there will be people paying $700 per month in premiums for health care that they are required to buy. Of course, the bad news gets badder; the deductible for this particular plan is $14,000. If you choose not to buy insurance, the federal government will fine you. The amount of the fine is grossly unfair. We're talking major bucks (they are different amounts for different cases). Here's the fun part: the federal government, using the IRS, will take your money from you by garnishment. Also there are huge tax consequences if you don't do what you're told. Oh, I forgot. You can go to jail. Seriously.

So, perhaps the closing down of this out of control federal system is going to play into the hands of sensible Americans, of all ideologies, in that they see with their own eyes what happens when power gets into the hands of a few...what happens when there are bills passed that are too big to read...what really is important when it comes to our liberty.

And. We haven't even got to the actual health care delivery system itself. That's another issue. We don't even know if it will work under these new schedules and directives! Ask a doctor how he/she feels about all this.

Meanwhile, George. I suggest you listen to your Lovey Dovey and stop safely by the side of the road, take out your camera and click away. I'll bet there'll be plenty more after you doing the same thing. Why, that's the American thing to do, isn't it?

Thanks for the read.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Palin's rant: Bombs Away on Obamacare

I admit it. I've been mad at Sarah Palin for a long time now. I think she blew it when she resigned from being governor of Alaska. That one event made her look like a quitter, someone who couldn't stand up, who just couldn't take it anymore. More importantly, if she couldn't take the job of Alaska's governor, then she obviously couldn't handle the vice presidency. It seemed to me that some people were right about her.

Moreover, she refused to turn herself into someone more serious, choosing instead to become part of a cultural phenom in which she and her family became clowns. There were the reality TV RV hunting trips that lasted one season. It was during that interminable series that we got to hear Sarah's form of swearing--"flippin" for the other f-word--and the slide down the ice sheet whilst mountain climbing, among other ignominious activities, not the least of which was shooting a wolf. From a plane. Even yelling at her kids became an enlightening moment for the rest of us. See. She IS just like us.

Then there were the moments with another reality TV woman, poor Kate Gosselin who had those eight children, and whose husband had left her for another. Sarah's ability to truly bond with women seemed suspect in that epi. Poor Kate, rain coming down, miserable and unhappy with outdoor life, looked like she wanted to shoot herself. Of course, Sarah, aka Frontier Woman, was impatient with Kate, who again, looked like she could slit her wrists, if only the kids weren't there. The kids had a great time, by the way.

Other moments of family life were uninteresting and interesting at the same time. I just couldn't believe that this slice of life in the Palin's house was really happening before us and that she allowed her family this exploitation. Yes, it was like getting down on all fours with them occasionally. They're pretty casual folks, after all.

Then came Dancing with the Stars on which one of her daughters participated. That's just an indignity I wouldn't wish on any of my friends. But the Palins were there, front and center, for the happy and exciting event.

In sum, I think the Palins decided they needed money and simply struck while the iron was hot. Isn't this a typical American story? Someone has to pay for that big motor home. And plane. And house on the lake.

For those reasons, and for one other, I was disappointed in Governor Palin (do you get to keep the office title if you resign that office?). She's stubbornly refused to capitulate to the importance of academia and her participation thereof. I just wonder.Why couldn't she have taken some time to go to graduate school, or studied areas of government affairs, or something? Many people come from remote areas of the world and get "finished," so to speak; I think "polished" is a better word for them, just by moving up and off of their own centers. There's a lack of curiosity that bothers me...and arrogance.

In this piece,, she's the feisty, old campaigner whom the right loves so much. She's also very, very bitter. But she does have points. She makes a particular one about the question of closing down the government, mainly that "they" hate us anyway, so it doesn't matter what the Republicans do.Of course, I disagree, knowing that perception in politics is reality, and a shut down government caused by Republicans regardless of their stripes is bad karma. That remains to be seen; thus the reason for defunding Obamacare without closing the government.

Mostly, her piece is pretty hot. She's out in full regalia in support of Senator Ted Cruz of Texas and is challenging the power structure of the party, daring them to ignore Cruz at their own peril. She hit the nail head on with her understanding of Obamacare, The Ruination of America. We all agree there and can move forward on that issue alone. In fact, we all agree on almost everything.

When the dust clears and families are paying upwards of $600 per month in health care premiums, it likely won't matter who's in power. They won't be for long. Our economy probably cannot sustain this expensive boondoggle.

Regardless, Governor Palin is letting everyone know that no matter what "they" say about her--the media, Democrats, other Republicans--she's never going to change. And she's more engaged in that type of rhetoric than ever. There's something about that bravata that inspires me, the citizen...and scares me, the Republican, to death. She's back and I'm not sure I'm happy about that.

Thanks for the read.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Jane Fonda's Recidivism: Get a life!

Hanoi Jane, America's Sweetheart's image on tee-shirt
Jane Fonda, aka Hanoi Jane, finally came clean and so much as admitted that she really is unrepentant. She proved it by wearing a tee-shirt displaying a defiant and young Fonda at work in Vietnam, demoralizing U.S. troops in 1972 when interviewing and discussing her role in a new movie.

I thought she actually apologized for nosing in on foreign affairs some time ago, didn't she?

Evidently, she didn't really mean it--her fingers must have been crossed behind that yellow-striped back of hers--because these days, her response when asked about her wearing the inappropriate tee-shirt is, "They (the vets) need to get a life."


What kind of ego, what kind of low character does (and continues to do) what she has done? Think about it.

Wearing this kiss off tee-shirt is not just a silly, sad and unexpected response to one to two questions about an indiscretion of youth. It is a painful revelation of a rather immature, although aging woman who seems incapable of telling the truth.

Point in fact. When I was in my early thirties, in the 80s, I used her exercise books and tapes. They were helpful and extremely challenging. There were two or three of them, one of them aerobics and another was a step routine, the other I can't remember. I probably worked out to them two to three times a week, when I wasn't running four miles. Indeed, I was in pretty good shape. Frankly, however, I didn't carry on this heavy routine just for health's sake; I was addicted to it as well as using it to support my eating habit. Having always loved eating, it worked fine. But there were always areas that didn't respond as well. Fonda's body, though, always was perfect. Right on, I thought to myself. If she can do it, I can do it too. I just worked harder.
Fonda to Vets, "Get a life."

Someone might ask, well, if you didn't respect Fonda, why in the world would you buy her tapes? I'm not sure, except maybe I thought she had changed, or that I could forgive her. I don't know really. But I did know I liked the results, so I stayed with her. It was stunningly obvious the workouts she performed were working for her. Her brand had changed from traitor to harmless celebrity person in a leotard with pink and purple stripes.I can't believe I was so unprincipled at the time. I bought it all.

Much later, come to find out (no one knew), Ms. Fonda was in and out of plastic surgery suites for all kinds of liposuction and tummy tucks, arm contouring, you name it, she had it done. So, not only was she a traitor who refused to own up to her treasonous behavior, she was a snake oil salesman making zillions on her new brands of self-improvement. In the meantime, she was fooling vulnerable women into thinking all they had to do was one more rep of this or that exercise and they'll look like Jane.

No one looks like Jane except what the unauthentic Jane asks her doctors to make her look like. I feel sorry for the women who are dealing with body dysmorphic disorder, anorexia or who had eating disorders. She really did a number on them. I honestly don't see the difference between Fonda and some of the baseball and football players who use steroids. It's all a sham any way you slice it.

Then there's the unauthentic time when she became a Christian. As a Christian myself, I can't comment on that more than it seems if one is truly repentant for one's missing the mark, should not one stand up foursquare and admit it, instead if insulting the people whom you have hurt? It seems to be another deep flaw in Fonda's character, or perhaps it's a developmental issue--that she would consciously demean and attack Vietnam veterans and/or those who have already been so sorely affected by that damnable war. It's as if they're ex-husbands or someone she has total disregard and disgust for. They don't need a replay of her hard hearted treatment. There's nothing like humility when faced with public disgrace. She should learn from that, but her ego is so huge, I can't see that ever happening.

Moreover, her portrayal of Nancy Reagan in the above mentioned movie, "The Butler," holds a strange irony for me. Ms. Fonda said in an interview that "...she happened to know that Mrs. Reagan knew she was playing her in the movie..." She says this with an almost teenaged nanner nanners as she relates breathlessly this fact to the interviewer.

Ironically, it seems she yearns for a type of legitimacy by suggesting that because Mrs. Reagan not only knows about her role, she encourages it somehow. What difference does that make? In other words, Mrs. Reagan, because she thinks you're a good selection to play a cameo role, somehow approves of your dismal form of participatory politics? It's like the Capitol One credit card ad where Alec Baldwin is insisting because he's played a pilot in a movie he's capable of flying an airplane. It's really Freudian when you look at it.

This is so Fonda. I'm ashamed of myself for spending any money on her. But I can repent by advising Ms. Fonda that she is going upstream and will die on the rocks if she continues her head strong defiance. Some huge and uncomfortable truths are always at the end of big stories such as hers. This type of ego driven strutting has all the authenticity of a lightening storm at Disneyland. The real stuff comes when there aren't any lies left to tell.

Thanks for the read.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Artists and sentinels: epilogue

The end of the story

My father and mother, Andrew and Lois Layman, moved from a gorgeous 3500 square foot Dilby Tudor in Kansas City, Missouri to a ten-acre farm in Johnson County, Kansas. The place had some major barns and chicken houses and a lovely redo house. They came there with me and my older brother, their second family. Their first family, my sibs, were married and off on their own. We arrived when I was in second grade. Dad commuted 25 miles to his office (the plant) in KC.

Dad, aka Chief Layman, was with Bendix for 30 years. He was active in Lions Club, a 32nd Degree Mason, involved in Toastmasters, Managers Club, an elder in Country Club Christian Church in Kansas City, along with endless other farm and community related activities such as sharing pastures with neighbors, labor and old tricks he had learned as a boy. Our neighbors respected him because of his know how and that he wasn't another one of "those gentlemen farmers."

I think my love for the outdoors came from my tagging along with him on those outings to the neighbors to pick up livestock or go to the wheat fields to take in grain. My dad also taught me how to shoot, although guns were not a big deal in our house. We had a 22-caliber rifle that was kept over the back door transom on the porch and that was it. I think a broom would have been more efficient--and quicker.

My love of sports came from my time with Dad. We'd go to KU basketball games together, enjoyed pro and college football and shared together the general love of sports. That carried on till the day he died. I could always count on my dad to talk about sports with me.

Living in the country was an adjustment for me. I was afraid in the middle of the night. The casualness of my folks' attitude toward security stunned me. Yes, they sort of locked the back door in summer with one of those things that looks like a question mark that hangs on a loop; however, the door was a screen door. I realized later it was Russians my dad was after, not Clutter murderers. I suppose he was confident he could handle anything that came along, or that the odds were such that nothing would happen.

I did have so many advantages, such as owning a horse and living a wonderful existence in a beautiful woodland with hills and valleys. The Native American past of the area provided plenty of arrowheads and artifacts for kids to dig for and hunt. Exploration was a large part of my early life.

After my brother went to college, I became an only child for five years. That was not a bad thing. My folks kept up the chase and taxi service during that time--not an easy thing for parents who had an active kid late in life. How many cheerleading practices and games, how many newspaper meetings?

Then, thankfully for everyone concerned, I went off to college.

Mother and Daddy were alone, for the first time in how many years. Daddy retired and they kept up their "normal" routine, although I'm sure the adjustment was enormous for my mother. They bickered about moving to the desert in Arizona for the winters, about moving to town, about this and that. Meanwhile, they were visiting their children who were scattered about the country, enjoying themselves. I wish I could say that after so many years in retirement they figured it out. Regretfully, that Air Stream simply wasn't in the cards. Not in this lifetime.

It was almost summer, a hot and humid, mid-afternoon. Dad was mowing a neighbor's field--a flat place between a marble quarry and a hedge row where I used to ride my horse, Billy--about two miles away from the farm. It seems he had lain down under a tree, the tractor gearbox in park with the mower blades still spinning, his straw, panama-style hat on his chest, and his hands were clasped, fingers intertwined across his midsection as if resting, or maybe praying. There, under a silvery leafed sugar maple, he died.

One of our dear neighbor's teenaged sons found him.

The date was June 15th, 1978. The following Sunday was Father's Day.

My greatest fear had come true. He was gone.

Thanks for the read.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

No more Clintons, Bushes, Cheneys, Obamas, et al.

Legacies. We're surrounded by them.

They're psuedo hibernating, some of them, in their respectable foundations--like Hillary at the Clinton Foundation, coming out only to sniff the air, clearly avoiding Washington snits, and then returning just long enough to have people wonder, "Where is Hillary?". Don't forget Chelsea.

It is in these lairs that the betters among us fulfill their beauty/fitness routines to get in shape for the fight. This foundation scheme is very convenient and is indeed a literal platform from which to spring forward towards the biggest fight of them all: America's presidency.

Then, there's Jeb Bush. And the nephew, George Bush. Why is it, everyone's a candidate, just like Grandpa and Uncle Georges? Enough already. Can't they find real jobs?

Liz Cheney? Okay, I guess. Another legacy, as if she somehow deserves to be where she is by virtue of genealogy.

And one Obama is enough for anyone.

What I like to see in the Republican Party are the new lines and new faces. I like when they kick the president where he lives and try to stop his illegal executive pronouncements like delays in Affordable Care Act.

I enjoy watching the Legislative branch of our government actually performing its job, riding herd over the Executive branch. It's absolutely thrilling to me to see our freshmen congressmen stand up and speak truth to power...and then follow through again and again. These new Turks are serious and seem uninterested in the core power of the old GOP and their rules. I admit to having to renege on my view of nepotism because the son of Ron Paul, Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky, is tearing up Washington. He's running for president. Then there's Senators Ted Cruz from Texas and  Mike Lee of Utah, both attorneys, who are convinced we can name this Affordable Healthcare Act a turkey before it even gets started, and hoping to defund the entire thing.

It is interesting that the President is using the guilt card as he stumps for implementation of the ACA.  He likes to say that we Republicans are denying some 30 million people from receiving their coverage. Of course, his metrics are as phony as his rhetoric. What he should be saying is this: your coverage is going to cost you yearly anywhere between $6500 individually and $12,500 for a family. And you have no choice. Those are the real facts. The old guard in the GOP seem to be oblivious to these issues while they hang on to the maddening status quo. In other words, they've given up, as usual, to the drumbeat that the Progressives have kept going, as if there's no other option.

In addition, considering perception in politics is reality, we in the GOP simply cannot risk poor PR--again--by shutting down the government. Surely this matter can be played more deftly than we've done so in the past. Indeed, some Republicans are arguing that the last shut down wasn't all that bad, that we gained seats in Congress, and it all came out in the wash. Be that as it may, the perception overall, was unfortunate, and the low information voter remembers those low lights, instead of the principled debate that the old GOP put forth. One still hears how the bad Republicans blinked, while the Dems and President Clinton played it to the hilt. Let's not make that mistake again.

Rinos need to understand once again that compromising with Progressives is a fool's errand. Some of the new blood in Congress gets that. Whether it be about Obamacare or immigration, we've been had over and over, and the new strong hearts of the party are correct in their impulses to stand firm. Out of all of these new voices, we can hear some strains of exciting and encouraging arguments, while the old is so old that it creaks from its constant preoccupation with twentieth century ideas and solutions, most of which belongs in a trash heap.

The new, on the other hand--those in the GOP who understand governing from strength, are on the cusp of change, ready to relieve the constrictive hold of the middletons in our midst. It is time not to compromise for compromise's sake; rather, the time has come for the GOP to acknowledge a new electorate with a new understanding of what it is to be a twenty-first century citizen of the United States.

New leadership, new ideas and new policies are needed to carry forth a reborn America--one which recalls the greatness of our country--first in the world in all things--as it used to be when we were not ashamed and guilt ridden because of the words of a few minority bosses and race hustlers.

In my theory of "Everything's Wrong in America," a huge axis change must occur. That begins with regular people beginning to understand the old ways of establishment politics. Of course, term limits are a part of that change. The professional politician is the bane of our lives.

Meanwhile, HRA, Hillary Rodham Clinton, is poised to be coronated Queen.

Dear Lord, I'm so sick of her. Why must we have these infernal personalities who are no more caring of you and I than she is of a bunch of animals in a zoo? It is the structure of the system, as well as their deep egos and greed (just how much are the Clintons worth now?), that we are subjected to the constant barrage of their politics and activities.

The Democrat Party has become nothing more than a clown car pouring out entrenched, tired, shameful personalities as old and predictable as ever. The Republicans? Well, fortunately, we've somehow found it in our beings to elect a few stars.

Out with the old; in with the new.

Thanks for the read.

Monday, July 29, 2013

The Artists and the Sentinels

The Artists

My assault on my five-year screenwriting career began as I pored over the documents, records and stories of family members during a long genealogical research project. Being a writer, I couldn't help but dramatize in my head the events that I read about in the their lives. There were dozens of documents from which to pull great stories

However, as rich as the data I had before me, they were daunting, and truthfully I was ambivalent about genre. How shall I get these tales told? A novel, short stories? It wasn't until about six months into my research that I was wakened in the middle of the night in full sweat following a dreadful nightmare. As vividly and brightly as the sun rises in the east, I realized the dream was about my great grandmother, a Quaker, who lived in Chester County, Pennsylvania, and her father, who was born there in 1670. The ramification about the truth of her life was a compelling story and a changer of material facts in our family tree. The truth was a story-and-a half. It had to be told.

It was then that I decided I would attempt my first screenplay, and it would be a suspense/thriller.

To start, I bought every screenwriting book on the shelves, the latest screenwriting software and enrolled in as many premier screenwriting seminars as I could afford.

Getting my presence out in Hollywood, I searched for and discovered the most popular online forums and message boards, becoming more than just a lurker. Soon I was participating in screenwriters' online conversations, discerning who knew what and whom. The pros became easy to spot. I was beginning to get excellent assistance and guidance from other writers who traded war stories--and even making a fool of myself on the message boards; but, I was learning nonetheless. I got caught up in a few arguments and found out who my friends were.

I devoured the trade magazines and each day was consumed with writing and rewriting, outlining and rewriting.

Did I mention rewriting? It seemed endless. Still does. This is when I remember Dorothy Parker's saying that no one loves to write, he only loves having written.

Finally, the finished product, or what I was convinced was a finished product, “Disowned and Dismembered” (D&D) was ready for its “coverage.” Coverage is what Hollywood calls reading and critiquing in order to receive one of the following actions: Pass, Consider, or Accept. I paid a consultant (reader) for my coverage; some writers do and most don't because they really can't afford it. Studios have their own coverage/reader departments.

It’s here I need to say that what most newcomers don’t know, and don’t want to know, and don’t hear is screenwriters usually don’t have a Consider or an Accept until he's written twelve to fifteen scripts, if at all. By that time, the wife has left, or the writer has died, or the house has been repossessed and the family is gone, leaving nothing but peanut butter, crackers, Fido and a notice from Southern Cal Ed that the computer will be cut off in two days. I was blessed to be supported by a great husband who understands the creative process and is kind of a workaholic himself. But writers never should kid themselves; it's more than a full -time job and it takes every minute of the day.

Besides placing the script on a service that allows producers and other developers to read my log line (a 25- word or less synopsis of the plot), I also sent it to my cousin, a director who had a few movies under his belt. He liked it a lot; it was about his family after all. But in Hollywood no one sends scripts on to their Hwood pals from unknowns unless he’s really sure. It’s just not done. I sort of knew that, but was hoping anyway. My work of art got stuck at the bottom of his own personal pile of other masterpieces. In fact, I don’t know if his pile consisted of the scripts that he wrote or the rest of the scripts he got from friends and his other cousins who fancy themselves great screenwriters. He finally admitted to me that "he didn't know how to get a movie made."


I got many hits on my log lines, but still no takers. My coverage was good, but no takers. I got great notes. I got read by five producers. They all said it would not sell at the box office, but they loved it. Still. It was too American. A story about a rape of a Quaker girl in 1723?  No one would come to see it, except my relatives. Well, duh. That's why I added all the thriller stuff. Duh.

I didn't care about their take on the American thing. I knew the American thing would always sell. How ridiculous. I know America. It probably just wasn't very good, not well written enough, a mechanical problem, a technical issue with the plot, I told myself...arrogantly.

So, I threw D&D on the shelf and started research on another American screen play. This one was called “Shock Tx”, an-in-your-face American action drama set in pre-WWII Indianapolis.

My dream cast: Matthew McConaghey is my leading man, the Indy race car driver in 1937, whose need for do-it-yourself shock treatments between races in his Gasoline Alley garage becomes a problem; Jon Voight is his aristocratic physician father; Jessica Lange is Voigt's wife; some gorgeous blonde ice queen I’ve yet to decide on plays a Nazi psychiatrist; and Ben Affleck rounds out the cast as Matthew’s alcoholic shrink brother.

Both brothers are in love with the Nazi doc. I can’t say what balances this story out, but something happens to keep the family’s name and reputation in tact. This story is full of wonderful race scenes in the 30s at Indy, plus some fantastic bad guy action and old rivalries. Many scenes take place in a creepy old mental hospital.

I guess that script wasn't very good either. It must have been the writing and the presentation. I still believe in the story. Maybe they didn't like the Bugattis, Mazerattis and other ancient Indy cars or the crowd scenes where the flagpole is struck by lightening and the huge American flag gracefully falls on the grandstand full of spectators.

One reader, a woman 38-years old, told me she didn't think people today would relate to WWII stories. They seem too unrealistic, she said. Another mentioned she thought they were too far fetched—she didn't think that people actually took their sons to the train station to see them off to war as I had portrayed it in a scene in Shock Tx. I mentioned that that particular scene was from my own experience when my family took my older brother to Union Station in Kansas City in 1951 to send him off to Korea. I was six at the time. I remember also picking him in 1952 when he returned.

Good thing I didn't model the departure after the time my next brother went to war and was sent to Vietnam. In 1963, my mother and I traveled to New York and saw him off on a huge troop ship full of soldiers. I'm afraid the reader wouldn't have believed that one either. As I recall, afterwards we had dinner at the Dixie Hotel and enjoyed The Johnny Carson Show at Rockefeller Center.

When I used the name “Christopher” in D&D, one of the readers told me to change the name because it was too “modern” for 1670. I replied I couldn't because that really was my grandfather’s given name—in 1670.

All right, then. I finally believed them. There’s no market for Americana in Hollywood. They had me convinced! After four or five years, I gave up on the art of screenwriting.

I stopped writing for Hollywood.  Instead, I started a successful blog, Planet California, and began writing for America about American culture, politics and me. That was thirteen years ago.

The Sentinels

My father, Andrew A. Layman, who weighed 13 pounds when he was born on the 4th of July of 1905, got drunk once. My father gambled to excess. Once. His doctor told him to quit smoking once at which time Dad threw the near full cigarette pack into his dresser drawer where they remained till the day he died twenty years later. My father did nothing to excess.

As a little girl, the fondest memory I have is sitting on my dad's lap and leaning up against his barrel chest, listening to his heartbeat. There was no greater security in my world, and no greater fear that is would someday go away. His massive presence was so powerful that I was never afraid when he was around. No sane man would start a fight with my father unless he could finish it. I never realized that power until when I was around weak men when I got older. I also found out through him that there is more to strength than muscular power.

There was no one like him. I was able to point to him proudly as my father; he was so different than the others in his looks, his gracious, elegant dress style, his impeccable manners and who he was as a man. He never embarrassed me in any way.

Local Sports Hero
My father made a vow that none of his children would ever have to pay their way through college. None ever did. That’s because he came from a family who did not value education and success. Rather they were professional farmers who had no time for niceties and anything resembling warmth and love. My father, the oldest of nine siblings, decided early in his life that he simply was not interested in the hard work of a corporate farm. He escaped that life and never looked back by putting himself through school and earning two degrees.

When you were as popular, handsome and talented as Andy, you got yourself a ticket to Purdue University at least for a year. To this day, I'm not quite sure what caused him to leave after the first year, but it might have something to do with doing things at least once. What that once was never became clear to me. That was back in the days when kids like me had to mind their own business and didn't ask their parents a lot of questions. He probably ran out of money.

Dad spent the rest of his college career at Indiana Teachers College in Danville, Indiana where he made his way through working in a hotel firing furnaces and earning four varsity letters and receiving two Bachelor of Science degrees. He also set the state collegiate record for shot put one year, a couple of other records and was able to maintain his grades. In addition, he was eligible to go to the Olympics, but the teams did not have the money to send the athletes at that time.

Following his graduation and then teaching a couple of years, he married my mother, Lois Spray, in 1928 after having met her three weeks earlier. That is probably the rashest, most impetuous, most immature action my dear father had ever taken in his life as well as probably the happiest and best decision he ever made.

Mother had an interesting way of telling the story that he was engaged to someone else when they met. By the way, it's from her side of the family, the English, anti war one, that I fell heir to the smug gene. Sometimes, I use it as well as she ever could.

I remember Mother often referring to Tom Wolfe's novel, You Can't Go Home Again as she spoke of those days (before they met) and Dad’s more unfortunate choice of schools to debut his coaching career was his own alma mater. I'm afraid his time there was short lived as his teams had not lived up to the hype of the home town hero's own press clippings.

That didn't last long. By that time he was married to Mother a year, he had a new baby and was in another inky dinky Indiana small town. Mother was pregnant again with my sister. It was the Depression. I don’t think anyone was too happy.

Dad and his little family moved to a few other towns and by the time my next older brother was born in 1940, my father had taught for fifteen years, coached a number of championship basketball, football, baseball and track teams in Indiana high schools.

Teacher first, coach second
Separated by less than fifty miles and ahead of the famous Coach John Wooden by just a few years, men like Coach Wooden and Andy Layman gave a generation of American coaching its identity and backbone. They made Indiana basketball the way ahead for lots of boys who didn't have another way out. If you've ever seen an interview with one of these kids, you’ll understand this basic theory of life: It starts with the clinic of how to put on your socks. You can't do anything if your socks don't feel right. Dad always said he was a teacher first and a coach second.

Those Indiana farm kids learned rules and gamesmanship, American history, manners, sportsmanship, honor, chivalry, how to become more by watching what their coaches did. They even learned how to dress, how to shine their shoes, how to treat a lady, how to talk. They learned everything by example. They also got a look at my mother and thought just maybe if they got off the farm went to college they could get a pretty, classy lady too.*

School rivalries grew as towns identified with their coaches and teams. The pressure was beyond great. If a coach won he was a king; if he lost he'd better move him and his family on. The good news was he had four chances to prove himself in many cases--most little schools had one coach for all four sports. However, there was no doubt Indiana basketball was king.

A young, popular, successful family man with a nifty family who had everything going for him, even in the depths of the Great Depression, defined my parent's entire greater generation and was expressed by their moods of cautious optimism. They had friends, played Mah Jong every Saturday evening, and yes, they even had some fun. They dealt with the same issues as we, yes, even fellow teachers who happened to be gay--I remember Mother and Daddy talking about a couple of "old maids" who were on the faculty, but as is typical, it was absolutely no one's business. There was always something going on because people are people no matter where they are. Mostly, other people's business was left at just that and gossip wasn't allowed in our house.

Yet a man with so much else who literally could not feed his family, who had to move them all to Gary, Indiana in the summers so he could slave in the steel mills, settle them temporarily in shacks--on the beach of Lake Michigan-- then they had to turn around and move back so he could coach the following fall. Or he painted barns to make ends meet. Now, it sounds like a fantasy when I hear about how poor people were in the thirties.

Mother, teaching third grade, was still circling the block on the way home from school so Mr. Smith, the grocer, didn't spot her and hit her up for the 15 cents she owed for last night's hamburger. She would probably be slicing potatoes and figuring how the heck she was going to make hamburger gravy taste good again tonight. At least they had the tomatoes from the weekend to keep everyone from getting scurvy. Even mailing that postcard to her sister was a luxury.

Things were changing. Mother would be going to Grandma’s in Indianapolis and stay because she was due to deliver my brother in August of 1940. It was so hard on Mother and Daddy to be apart, but they did what had to do.

Of course, that year Daddy had won another fantastic championship and Mother and Daddy still didn't have any money. Dad dearly loved his job, his boys, his teams and his town, and the town loved him; but, the time had come to do something different. I often think of the pain he must have felt when he said goodbye to that wonderful life.

He didn't really realize it then, but his most of his boys would soon to be off to Africa, to Europe and the Pacific and his heart would have been broken over and over again anyway.

DuPont Nemours
Hitler had invaded Poland in 1939.

The famous German genius/scientist, Albert Einstein, wrote an important letter of alarm to President Roosevelt informing him about an outrageously dangerous weapon technology and that our lives-- yours, mine, and everyone’s--would be changed forever because of it. He told him America had to do something and fast. That was when we thought America was good for something and had certain obligations..

Dad had the prerequisite education, major leadership experience to become part of something very important and special. His personal reputation was spotless and his way with people and steady demeanor meant that all they needed to do was plug him in and turn him on.

Dupont Nemours came after and hired my dad. They sent him to the FBI Academy for three months, and then in a few more months he was moved along the rest of the family to Richland, Washington, a tiny berg on the banks of the Columbia River in the desert. Mother said she thought they had arrived on the moon. They might as well have, according to my sister. Everyone lived in barracks for a while until their homes could be built, er, I mean, fabricated.

The town of Richland started out at about 3000 people in 1943, the little county seat of Benton. The Manhattanites liked its remote location nestled down in the valley along with that nice power resource of the Columbia River. It was a perfect place to make plutonium for a bomb. No one knew that but a “couple of people” like Enrico Fermi (our neighbor), and his scientists, General Leslie Groves, and of course, Dad.

When Uncle Sam moved in, there was little the townies could do. The population of Richland, Kennewick and Pasco, a tri-city area, grew to about 30,000 in a little over a year. The Mahattan Project was in full bloom.

Typical problems occurred with fast growth, disparate people and quick planning. Law enforcement was handled as well as could be expected with two departments—the Civil and the Federal run by the same people—my Dad’s. It was a tricky job as it entailed more than just law enforcement. It also consisted of extreme security issues near and on the plant reservation. The security division even had to deal with Jim Crow laws on the books, an impossible and immoral issue for good men like my dad.

Lots of personal and human interest stories came out of that time in Richland. I've heard so many of them. My family was quite happy in Richland. One of the tales involves a bunch of my older brother's friends and him placing one of the security vehicles on the roof of one of  Dad's stations. My sis told me Dad just laughed. That sounds like Dad. Since I'm the baby of the family, I feel like I got snookered by Mother Nature out of sixteen years of my folks' life, so hearing these stories are bittersweet for me and I always wished I had been there too.

Rumors were rampant as to what was being manufactured at Hanford. Speculation was strong that it was toilet paper. No one could talk about it because of the security issues. They were serious about it. Toilet paper worked just fine.

The dangerous post war period
That war was over. A new one had begun. The Cold One. Research at Hanford continued and things nuclear moved at a breathtaking pace. In the meantime, I joined the family. I was born one week after the second bomb had been dropped on Nagasaki, Japan.

Later, one day in 1949, Dad called Mother, and asked her how many clean shirts he had in his drawer;  he was off to Kansas City in an hour.

Dad became the security executive for the Bendix Aviation Corporation, a major contractor for aviation systems employing 8000 people. It was not until much later, after he was gone, that I discovered the scope of his civil defense responsibilities. I knew none of this until years later and only until I read about different events in the newspaper, or searched in newly released unclassified documents.

My father shielded our family from every bit of it. I learned my politics from my experience and through reading and debating others, not from anything he ever said or imparted or inferred from his experience on the job. Furthermore, I never noticed a difference in manner or mood if he knew I was around. "Steady" had a new exemplar in my dad.

The musician, writers, intellectuals, poseurs
It is in Mother’s family that the political ambivalence and anti war strain comes through even though it is her father, a staunch Republican who is my guiding light in my political writing.

The Quaker and mainline Protestant antiwar roots run deep, even to the point that my great grandfather, family legend has it, threatened my grandfather that he would not send him to college if he enlisted in the Spanish American War. My poor great grandfather’s stiff-necked promise came true, much to the shock of many in the family and without;

Regardless, my grandfather simply sloughed off the his unkind gesture and kept up his part of bargain for his country by becoming a remarkable citizen, after he served in The Philippines and contracting chronic malaria. There was no antiwar "nonsense" for that Republican.

There are some in my extended family who have always carried the anti war bug. They talk about the heroism of the protesters of war and those who avoid war at all costs. I've heard them say they think America is a terrible place because we dropped the bombs on Japan. They would do so with full knowledge that my father was in the same room at the time.

Everyone is entitled to his opinion.

Maybe they haven’t figured it out the same way I have, that sometimes you must give up something big to keep something bigger. That there are things you might have to lose, like my Grandpa did when his old man said no to his patriotism.

Andy always kept silent during the political rants and hollers emanating from the dining room. I still can picture him as he stands on his front porch from which he gazes across his rolling northeastern Kansas limestone hills and pastures of cattle and grass. Yonder in Missouri lay silos with nuclear war heads destined to be pumped up to the top, huge bombers at rest in their hangers, other man made secrets and truths Hollywood once said, "you can't handle!" With his years of experience and knowledge, one can only imagine what he thinks of the rest of us.

What I know for sure is this: artists dream and talk while the sentinels guard and watch.

Thanks for the read.

*What I didn't know until a year ago is about the time my dear, classy mother was kicked out of a gymnasium at a basketball game for a mouthy exchange with a referee. The story goes that Dad's boss, Mr. Albright, the principal of the school, simply told Mother, "Now, Lois. We can't have this." Nothing more was ever said. What my dad said--or didn't say-- is not known.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

One drop and you're black

Chris Rock said it.

When Harvard Professor Henry Louis Gates, Jr., the fellow best known for the infamous Beer Summit at the White House, also known for his PBS show "Finding Your Roots," told Mr. Rock that he had a bunch of American Indian and Scotch Irish blood in him, he reacted with that very defensive, and somewhat hostile and emotional response.

Of course, no one may really dictate how a person defines himself. One gets to name himself, or change his name, call himself an African-American, a White-American (Mulatto), Caucasian, etc. Who are we to make such a determination? In America you can do what you want.

It is interesting that nearly a quarter of African-Americans have Native American blood in them; and about another fifty percent have a humongous amount of Caucasian in them. President Obama's one of them. Most of these folks consider themselves black...or African-American and having grown up in a predominately black community explains that identity choice.

The distinct pathology of the reaction to George Zimmerman's acquittal is a lot like the one drop and you're black remark. It makes no sense. An entire community of people who are so unreasonable, so out there that they can't think straight and thus, continue to challenge the status quo race relations in this country, which really aren't so bad these days when we consider the huge strides made in the last forty years. Good grief, we have a black president!

I can't help but think that regardless of the current occupant of the White House, there's really nothing that people can do to satisfy this particular group of people. The outlandishness of this protesting class is so sick, so off kilter, so counter intuitive, ridiculously unreasonable and illogical, that no one with a legalistic, sane mind can deal with them. They're the reason laws are written and enacted. They operate on dangerous emotion and negative energy and hero worship of black bosses who are exploiting the more stupid among them. It is an evil attempt to thwart rule of law. The protesters are psychically overwrought and whipped up by a corrupt and lawless Justice Department, an Executive Branch of the Federal Government and the local County Attorney, as well as disingenuous politicians who are also pressured by the president and the Justice Department.

Even liberal-minded Alan Dershowitz, who if he were dead, would be rolling over in his grave knowing that the Zimmerman case has nothing to do with race and profiling under the law.

Nevertheless, ideologues in the mainstream media who are motivated by and operate from white guilt are undergirding this insane and fantastical, pathological myth about the facts in the case. (And then there are the lawyers-turned-commentators like Nancy Grace who is obnoxious and disgraceful in her anti-Zimmerman zeal.) It's the old two plus two equals five distraction and distortion of the Left.

Meanwhile, again. Nothing works; nothing pleases them; and nothing will ever change.How can they be part of the conversation when they can't talk--or even think straight!

Having the first black president wasn't even enough. Nothing ever is. They need to be ignored.

Thanks for the read.

Thursday, July 4, 2013

The Texas abortion debate

When the Progressives in Texas say the Republicans just want to reduce the number of abortions by passing the Texas Abortion bill, they're absolutely right. It's not stealth, nor is it pulling the wool over anyone's eyes. That's what the pro life movement wants: fewer abortions.

The fact is taking the life of an innocent child at any time is wrong; but, by passing this bill and adding the ability to take one at or after twenty weeks is as sick and degenerate as any civil society can practice.

There's a new Texas State Democrat star--Wendy Davis, who filibustered and succeeded in keeping this bill from becoming law. That made her the martyr du jour--the Progressives love their martyrs--and got her on Meet the Press on Sunday. Her pontificating on women's rights  as they relate to this abortion bill--the one she singlehandedly kept from affecting every last woman on earth--makes my teeth hurt.

Unfortunately for her, and womanhood in general, Governor Perry of Texas reintroduced the bill for another try. That same day, to be sure, the opposition reaffirmed their hatred for the bill and came out in force to protest. This time, I understand that they shouted "Hail Satan!" in response to the pro life/Christian groups who stood across the street counter protesting by singing that rabble rousing hit, "Amazing Grace."

Hail Satan?

So, how has this Roe v Wade argument gone from a sixteen-week limit on abortions to the twenty weeks that is being fought for today? I must have been asleep. I admit, I've let my guard down on the social issues we've been facing, mostly because I hate to deal with them...and, I've been lazy.

I've read the Texas bill. No where within does it take away the so-called mother's rights, nor does it block a mother's ability to have the abortion. In fact, it simply calls for procedures to be instituted which enhances the subject's safety. The pro abortion people say it closes down some clinics because of those safety guidelines. Again, it's no secret that the authors of this bill and the people of Texas want fewer abortions.

But, something has changed in the public square and state houses in this country and that is, in fact, this: there is a strident, heartless tone in these fights.

People who used to think that killing a baby outside the womb was a barbarity now are actually lined up to repeat the drum beat of these murderous procedures in the name of a woman's right to her own body. Of course, at time of conception or at twenty weeks, a woman's right to her own body ceases as that small being's begins. Those underlying precepts are the arguments at which all conversation begins and ends from the perspective of the pro life community. Unfortunately, empirically speaking, the more secular one is, the more pro abortion one tends to be. In talking or arguing with someone like this, withstanding insults about your ability to "understand" science and biology* and establishing brain power and intellectual parity with the conversant can take time and patience. If one is lucky, and the debate gets rolling, the poor pro abortion side eventually gets left in the dust with his empty sack of sadness and the dark reality of death.

In our new world of  what I have come to call "Everything's Wrong," we Christians must stand for something. I might as well begin with this.

Thanks for the read.

*Inronically, it was through my college microbiology and chemistry classes that I understood that life begins at conception.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Stick to your knitting!

There was a time not terribly long ago that a group of about maybe 245 to 350 people--scientists, army and security specialists and a couple of politicians--were able to keep a secret about America putting together an atomic bomb program that was as complicated as it would be controversial. My father was one of them.

The success of the Manhattan Project depended very much upon the discretion and patriotism of those people, and the integrity of the structure of the grand plan of compartmentalization of work areas across the country consisting of secret cities and facilities and areas which brought about the development and manufacture of plutonium in Hanford, Washington, where I was born. Another fuel, Uranium 235, produced in Oak Ridge, Tennessee, was being developed as a vital component needed to actually set off the test bomb in the desert below Los Alamos, New Mexico. The real thing came to fruition and finally were dropped and exploded on the people of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Japan. Of course, those terrible weapons of mass destruction finished the war with Japan and, thus, because of their potency and savagery set up the Cold War with the Soviet Union and a new national security paradigm. In addition, the possession of such technology reinforced America's claim with the Soviets as bipolar powers, almost equal one to the other.

I've often wondered how my dad, who headed up Hanford's security division, would view today's security establishment. I believe he would think there could be no Manhattan Project, partly because of electronic surveillance capabilities, in addition to the lack of  integrity of participating individuals who would sell their mothers for fame or fortune.

Today, there too seems to be a lot of consternation about outsourcing government security jobs to outfits like Booz Allen Hamilton and others. I don't share it.
Compartmentalization of knowledge, to me, was the very heart of security. My rule was simple and not capable of misinterpretation--each man should know everything he needed to know to do his job and nothing else. Adherence to this rule not only provided an adequate measure of security, but it greatly improved overall efficiency by making our people stick to their knitting. General Leslie R. Groves, head of the Manhattan Project
You see that outsourcing is not new, and its advantages seem obvious. The Manhattan Project served as a model for post war national security and is used today. One major difference is the shear volume of top secret security clearances: there are 1.2 million of them, whereas years before only a few thousands carried a top secret classification.

So, I find it difficult to blame outsourcing for our snoopy problems. It is more likely that the ethos of our times that say that self-important individuals such as Edward Snowden believe they can effect some major change by blowing off their top secret classifications and enter the world of Assange and Manning into some sort of espionage immortality.

That being said, I also have great reservations about the NSA programs and the Patriot Act. I didn't like it when President Bush started it, and I don't like it now. Too much has gone wrong. Too much information. Too much access. Too much. Even with our new, asymmetrical warfare model, the Patriot Act goes too far. We must begin profiling Islamists who seek to kill us, not listen in on Grandma Schottenheimer and Sister Sue.

When my dad watched out for bad guys,  like Soviet spies (American) Theodore Hall and (German) Klaus Fuchs, both physicists who were working in the "areas," there was no need to listen in on fellow citizens. The "enemy" then was not you and me.

Now Americans have become the enemy in the metadata revolution. Every bit of telecon information is currently connected to that great data center in the sky (or in a gigantic repository in Utah). There is another program, called Echelon, owned by Great Britain which is the next step up in data collection and has been utilized  by our government for years now. Do not kid yourselves; this information is already being accessed, whether the phone calls are listened in on or not. The exponential speed at which data is put together into dossier fashion is astounding. My fear is our government--the Obama regime especially--will continue to lie and cover up to the nth degree, leaving our civil rights in the rear view mirror.

Quaint as it is, I wish we had knitting to stick to.

Thanks for the read.

Monday, May 27, 2013

Soldiers and Sailors

Those who gave

Today, I pay tribute to the members of my immediate and extended family who have fought in the Armed Forces of the United States going back to the Revolutionary War up to today.

Love, William Henry II, Lt., Aide de Camp to General George Washington, lost leg at Battle of Yorktown. (grandfather)

Spray, William Nelson, Lt., fought in the War of 1812. (uncle)

Spray, Frederick Adam, Pfc., lied about his age to join the service to fight in the Spanish-American War. (grandfather)

Spray, John, USN, landed on Normandy, December 6, 1944. (uncle)

Layman, James, Lt., youngest officer in the Union Army, fought in Civil War. (grandfather)

Layman, John Robert, Pfc., fought in Korean War. (brother)

Layman, Curtis Frederick, SP5, fought three tours in Vietnam. Bronze Star, Silver Star, Medal of Commendation. (brother)

Osterhout, George Thomas, Sgt., Union Army, fought in Civil War. (grandfather)

Hall, L.T., Pfc., World War II. (father-in-law)

Hall, Hugo, Pfc. World War II. (uncle)

Lambert, Homer, Pfc.,U.S. Army, French Medal Legion Winner, WW I. (uncle)

Smith, Charles R., Pfc. U.S. Army, WWII. (uncle)

Avery, Pete, NCO.,U.S. Army, WWII. (uncle)

Smart, Randolph, Col., U.S. Air Force, career, served in Viet Nam. (cousin)

Smith, Earl, U.S. Army, WWII, died in battle. (uncle)

Smith, Dale, Col., U.S. Army, served in Korea. (uncle)

Roberts, Ward., U.S. Army Air Corps. Flew reconnaissance and bombing missions over Germany in 1944 and 1945. (uncle)

Ward, Neal, Officer, U.S. Air Force, reconnaissance missions during cold war. (cousin)

Ward, Darrell, Lt. Col. U.S. Army, active. (cousin)

Leigh, U.S. Army, Lost his life on Anzio, buried there (my son-in-law's grandfather)

Cook, Charles, Officer, Tail Gunner, U.S. Army Air Corps, WWII. (brother-in-law)

Cook, Warren B., U.S. Navy, Seabee, WWII. (brother-in-law)

Beam, Ross, U.S. Navy, of Front Royal, Virginia. (nephew)

Kirby, Matt, U.S. Army, career, currently at Ft. Riley, Kansas. (nephew)
Thanks for the read.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Rich IRS employees don't know nuthin'

This IRS thing bugs the youknowwhat out of me. I just can't let it go. So does the AP scandal and Benghazi mess, as well as the takeover of different agencies in the government by Homeland Security and their personal private army with their 2200 tanks and 1.5 billion rounds of ammunition. There are so many areas of too much government and enough glaring problems to keep me busy reporting on them till the next election.

In that vein, after I wrote about the IRS Director of Exempt Groups (what a stupid title), Lois Lerner, I snooped around the internet a bit more and discovered that this bureaucrat extraordinaire cashed in something north of $750,000 over the past 4 years in salary and bonuses--mostly bonuses. Her salary is about $175,000 a year.

That infuriates me. How can any civil servant become rich?

Think of it.

Richard Nixon was right when he said, "Always follow the money."

Thanks for the read.