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Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Sleep Well, America

The following speech made a big impression on me. It will make the same kind of impression on every freedom-loving American.

On December 13, Blackfive reported that Lt. General John Kelly, USMC delivered a speech to the Semper Fi Society of St. Louis four days after his son, Lt. Robert Kelly, USMC was killed by an IED on his 3rd Combat tour.

Kelly spoke of the dedication and valor of the young men and women who step forward every day to protect us. He never mentioned the loss of his own son. He closed with the moving account of the last six seconds in the lives of two young Marines who, with rifles blazing, died protecting their brother Marines.

‘On 22nd of April 2008, two Marines, Corporal Jonathan Yale, 22, and Lance Corporal Jordan Haerter, 20, assumed the watch at the entrance gate of an outpost in Ramadi that contained a makeshift barracks housing fifty Marines and a hundred Iraqi police.
‘Yale was a dirt-poor, mixed-race kid from Virginia with a wife and daughter, a mother, and sister he supported as well as he could on a yearly salary of less than $23,000.

‘Haerter was a middle class white kid from Long Island.

‘Two complete different worlds. Had they not joined the Marines they would never have met each other, or understood that multiple Americas exist simultaneously depending on one's race, education level, economic status, and where you might have been born. But they were Marines, forged in the same fiery crucible of Marine training, and because of this eternal bond, they were brothers as close, or closer, than if they were born of the same woman.

‘The mission orders they received from the sergeant squad leader went something like: "Okay you two clowns, stand this post and let no unauthorized personnel or vehicles pass. You clear?"

‘Yale and Haerter probably rolled their eyes and said in unison something like: "Yes, Sergeant," with just enough attitude that made the point without saying the words, "No kidding, sweetheart, we know what we're doing." They then relieved two other Marines on watch and took up their post at the entry control point of Joint Security Station Nasser.

‘Minutes later, a suicide truck with 2,000 pounds of explosives charged the entry point. It failed to penetrate, but it exploded, killing them both, and devastating everything within a hundred yards. But, it did not reach the barracks with their brother Marines and Iraqi police.

‘The two Marines deserved recognition, but there were no American witnesses and the General knew Washington bureaucrats would never accept the testimony of Iraqi policemen.’

In Ramadi, Kelly questioned half-dozen Iraqi police. They told the same story.
‘The blue truck turned down toward the entry point. The Iraqis knew what was going on as soon as the two Marines started firing. Some of them fired, but as the truck grew closer, they ran. The two Marines continued blazing away at the oncoming truck. Remembering their orders, they were determined it would not get past them and kill their brother Marines. The Iraqis also fired, and then to a man, ran for safety just prior to the explosion. All survived.

‘One Iraqi admitted, “We ran like any normal man to save his life. What I did not
know until then was that Marines are not normal. No sane man could have done as they. They saved us all."

‘A security camera supported his revelation. It took exactly six seconds from the time the truck entered the alley until it detonated.

‘Perhaps it took a second for the two Marines to come to the same conclusion about what was going on once the truck came into their view at the far end of the alley.
‘They had no time to talk to anyone, to consult their sergeant, only to act, and only five seconds to live.

‘Another two seconds to present their weapons, take aim, and open up. By this time the truck was half-way down the alley, gaining speed. Here is when the Iraqi police scattered.

‘The two Marines had three seconds to live. The recording shows the Marines' weapons firing non-stop. The truck's windshield exploded into shards of glass as their rounds take it apart and tear into the body of the SOB who was trying to get past them to kill their brothers bedded down in the barracks, totally unaware of the fact that their lives at that moment depended entirely on two Marines standing their ground.

‘If they had been aware, they would have known
they were safe because two Marines stood between them and a crazed suicide bomber.

‘The truck slammed to a halt immediately in front of the two Marines. In all of this instantaneous violence Yale and Haerter never hesitated. By all reports and by the
recording, they never stepped back. They never even started to step aside. They never even shifted their weight. With their feet spread shoulder width apart, they leaned into the danger, firing as fast as they could work their weapons. They had only one second left to live.

‘The truck exploded. The camera went blank. Two young men go to their God. Six seconds. Not enough time to think about their families, their country, their flag, or about their lives or their deaths, but more than enough time for two very brave young men to do their duty into eternity.

The General continued. “That is the kind of people who are on watch all over the world tonight - for you. We Marines believe that God gave America the greatest gift He could bestow to man while he lived on this earth - freedom. We also believe He gave us another gift nearly as precious - our soldiers, sailors, airmen, Coast Guardsmen, and Marines - to safeguard that gift and guarantee no force on this earth can ever steal it away.”

General Kelly concluded by saying, “Rest assured our America, this experiment in a democracy started over two centuries ago, will forever remain the "land of the free and home of the brave" so long as we never run out of tough young Americans who are willing to look beyond their own self-interest and comfortable lives, and go into the darkest and most dangerous places on earth to hunt down, and kill, those who would do us harm. God Bless America, and...SEMPER FIDELIS!"

After reading his speech, all I can say is “Sleep well tonight, America. Your military is looking over us.”

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

So, What''s Your Resolution?

I don’t make New Year’s resolutions.

Why? Truth is, I never kept any that I made, so I figured, ‘what the heck’. Just a waste of time on my part. On most peoples’ part.

Case in point. Forty years back, a friend of mine tried to stop smoking. That year, he resolved to stop cold turkey. The next year, he resolved to smoke no more than a pack a day; the next, smoke no more than a carton a week; the following year, it was no more than two cartons, and the next year, it was to purchase a small cart to carry the oxygen tank that helped him breathe.

And then there is this friend of mine who in 1991 resolved to give up his girl friend and stop cheating on his wife.

In 1992, he resolved to take his illicit liaisons out of town.

In 1993, he resolved to buy his wife a four-carat diamond ring in an effort to reconcile.

In 1994, he resolved to limit his gifts to his girl friend so he could pay alimony.

Now, having said all of that, I’ll admit that if someone is going to make changes in his life, the first of the year is the time. New Years signifies a new beginning—maybe not new or a beginning, because in reality you’re still stuck with the problems you had on December 31.

But, I suppose it is as good a time as any to begin.

New Years originated in 46 B.C. with Roman emperor Julius Caesar who established January 1 as New Year’s Day. Janus, the Roman god of doors and gates, had two faces, one looking forward and one back. Caesar felt that the month named after this god, January, would be the appropriate “gate” for the past year and the “door” to the new year.

How did he celebrate that first New Years? Why by ordering the violent routing of revolutionary Jewish forces in Galilee. Eyewitnesses said blood flowed in the streets.

In later years, Roman pagans observed the New Year by engaging in drunken orgies—a ritual they believed constituted a re-enacting of the chaotic world that existed before the cosmos was put in order by the gods.

Leave it to the human psyche to recognize a good thing. That same celebration has survived down through two thousand years. Mark my words, come December 31, there will be thousands of Bacchanalian celebrations around the world.

And if you’d seen some of the parties I have, you’d realize we are still re-enacting the chaotic world that existed before the cosmos was put in order by the gods.

Still, the fact that probably three quarters of the world will make an effort to alter their lifestyles does offer a psychological boost to one’s psyche if he is considering change. In other words, you’re not alone in your wishful thinking.

And if it will make you feel better when you break your resolution by the middle of January, three quarters of the world has probably already broken its resolution.

Once during a discussion on the pros and cons of resolutions, a friend asked what mine was. I told him I didn’t make them any longer, but if I did, it would to be a better father and husband.

His response? “You mean you aren’t a good one now?”

His reply reminded me of the old ‘have you stopped beating your wife yet’ question. I ignored him.

Some people go for resolutions in a big way.

The guy who blogs “Weird Meat” resolved this year to eat as many weird meats as he could. According to the Courier Mail, that includes raw yak, crickets, ostrich sandwich, and deer heart wine.

Personally, I think he wrote that for its shock value and the possibility of gaining more followers for his blog. Nobody could be serious about a concoction called deer heart wine.

On another blog, “Gala Darling” made one resolution, to learn a party trick such as weird stomach contortions or learning to belch the alphabet. If not those, then learn to do hand-stand pushups. Now, that’s something worth knowing.

But, back to you and your resolutions. You know why most of us don’t keep them?

Because we don’t think them out.

They are usually knee jerk decisions, right?

It has been my experience that to make a major change, it must come about in your lifestyle. In other words, ‘keep doing what you’re doing, then you’ll keep getting what you got.’

Resolutions are tough to keep. Like the comedian once said, ‘I dieted for a month, and all I lost was a month.’

But, give it shot. And good luck.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Shootout at the Sam Holley Corral

I was probably twelve before I learned that sleeping on the floor and riding bucking calves was not part of the Christmas celebration. That was also the Christmas of the Shootout at the Sam Holley Corral.

You’re probably thinking, now what’s the idiot talking about?

You see, I was one of the fortunate youngsters who was surrounded by a large, and I mean large family. How large, you ask? When we got together, we took up two zip codes. And this family gathered every Christmas.

Mama and Papa Holley had eight children. Now you give each of those children a spouse and kids, and the numbers explode exponentially to the fifties and sixties.
During his seventy-odd years, Papa Holley had four farms. The two farms I remember most were near Littlefield, some thirty miles or so north of Lubbock where the country is flatter than a wet saddle blanket.

The one out near Hart Camp had two family homes, one a three-room, the other, two. The next farm, back south of Littlefield, had four rooms. When the clan gathered, people slept everywhere, and in the middle of the night, if someone unfortunately felt nature’s calling, they had to tiptoe and stumble over dozens of bodies to get outside.

Oh yeah, this was way back in the days of outdoor facilities.

It was a joyous time for me and my cousins. Gifts back then were spare, but a cap pistol, a couple boxes of caps and being with each other more than satisfied us.
And that’s what brought about the ‘Shootout at the Sam Holley Corral’ on the farm near Hart Camp.

Papa’s barn with its loft and stalls and surrounding corrals made an excellent playground for cowboys and Indians—or marines and Nazis or good guys and bad guys.
Riding our stick horses, Ed and I climbed and rode through every inch of the barn, planting bad men in the ground with our trusty cop pistols(not to mention spooking Papa’s cows).

Our older cousin, Dooley, was always picking on us, and as I remember one particular day, Ed and I had grown tired of shooting imaginary outlaws, so we holstered our sixguns and took up bronc busting. Of course, having no wild horses around, we had to settle for Papa’s calves.

Ed, having lived on the farm, could stay on the bucking calves longer than I. Of course, if you know anything about corrals, the animals that inhabit them leave behind copious evidence of their presence.

Now, one of the natural laws of Nature is that when you are thrown from a bucking calf, odds are astronomical against your missing any of the numerous deposits the animals have left behind. And believe me, we didn’t beat the odds at all. Never came close.

Once, when I was trying to scrape some of the deposit from my shirt, a marble-sized rock slammed into the dirt at our feet. We looked around and spotted Dooley on top of the pole shed attached to the barn. He was drawing back on his slingshot.

We broke in different directions while he laughed maniacally and continued shooting at us. Now, we were just kids, but we weren’t stupid. Cap pistols couldn’t compete with his slingshot.

Darting under the shed, I grabbed a broken plank about two feet long. At first I didn’t know what to do with it, and then my feeble little brain gave birth to a brilliant idea. I scooped up a load of manure with one end, raced back into the corral, and slung it at Dooley.

The plank was just like a catapult. We could hurl that stuff almost fifty feet. My first shot, I missed by a mile, but now, we had a means to fight back.

Dooley was good with the slingshot, but it’s hard to hit a nine-year-old boy darting about like a crazed banshee. He did connect a couple times, but so did we.

When Ed caught him in the side of the head and Dooley started gagging, we figured flight was the better part of valor and raced for the house and the protection of the grown-ups.

Mama Holley ran us all out of the house to clean up. That’s when Dooley caught up with us. You don’t want to know what happened then.

Looking back, I was one lucky kid. It’s a shame they don’t make Christmases like that any more.






rconwell@gt.rr.com
www.kentconwell.blogspot.com

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Too Much Transparency?

Most of us have heard about Wikileaks dumping all sorts of classified documents out into cyberspace for everyone to read.

The furor over the dumping exploded like a runaway forest fire. Congressmen shouted ‘terrorism’ at the top of their lungs. Representatives screamed the action was treasonous. Others want to try him for espionage.

In fact, the outrage has been so forthcoming that around the first of December, Wikileaks was taken off numerous sites or servers through which it could be accessed. Paypal even stopped the company’s capability of receiving donations.

I can’t help wondering if a great deal of the protestations might not be more in line with Shakespeare’s “The lady doth protest too much, methinks.” Could it be that old husband defense, ‘deny, deny, deny, deny,’ is coming into play?

When a senator calls it a disaster, how much is he referring to the country and how much to himself? How much does he have to hide? Probably a lot more than he wants known.

With all the corporate sleeze; government lies and waste; nosy technology baring all secrets; and hundreds of other scams and swindles swirling about us everyday, no wonder there is so much protesting and posturing.

To be honest, I don’t really know what to think about the whole thing. On the one hand, if people’s lives are placed in jeopardy, then the decision to air the cables was abhorrent. If that’s the case, then charges should be filed.

On the other hand, if they simply relate the gossipy behavior and observations of various individuals, who cares?

Who cares if Silvio Berlusconi, Italy’s PM and most prolific braggart, profited from secret deals’ with Russia’s Vladimir Putin regarding energy contracts? What’s new about any country’s upper administration working out sweet deals among each other? We know ninety percent of them are crooked. That’s why this last election removed so many of the old timers who were on the take.

Then there was the cable revealing that during the Bush administration U.S. officials tried to influence Spanish officials to head off court investigations into Guantanamo Bay torture allegations, secret CIA flights, and the killing of a Spanish journalist by US troops in Iraq.

My one question is, why shouldn’t such behavior be shouted from the rooftops? If someone is guilty, they should pay for their crime. On the other hand, you know as well as I that greasing palms with money, favors, or deals goes on every day, not only in Washington, but Mainstreet, USA.

In another cable, according to Robert Booth and Julian Gordon of ‘The Guardian’, a classified directive which appears to blur the line between diplomacy and spying was issued to US diplomats under Hillary Clinton's name in July 2009, demanding forensic technical details about the communications systems used by top UN officials, including passwords and personal encryption keys used in private and commercial networks for official communication.

Why such underhand duplicity? To give us a leg up on other countries?
Then there were inane reports such as the Afghan corruption is overwhelming (as if that is a surprise); Hillary Clinton questioned the president of Argentina’s mental health(who knows why?); the Bank of England’s president played back room politics; or that often, the US ignores British input.

I don’t know about you, but I’m not going to lose any sleep over stuff like this.
Now I can understand one’s chagrin to learn confidential observations, usually negative, being revealed regarding an individual. Such behavior certainly doesn’t enhance friendship or trust. Perhaps, the individual should have thought twice before putting his comments down on paper.

We’ve all been in that situation, but is it criminal if one repeats lurid gossip?
However, I’m quite sure that somewhere in that humongous batch of cables are some that should not have been revealed, that would indeed compromise the safety of individuals.

So, who do we blame, Wikileaks or the idiot dumb enough to put inflammatory words down on paper?

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Where Were You When the Bombs Fell?

I was watching ‘The Wizard of Oz” sixty-nine years ago with my parents at the Rogue Picture Show in Wheeler, Texas, a sleepy little village in the Panhandle. Right in the middle of the show, the lights came on. Mr. Guthrie, the theater owner, climbed up on the stage and announced that Pearl Harbor had been attacked.

Most of the audience just looked at each other, not knowing what he was talking about. What’s a Pearl Harbor, some asked. As he went on to explain what had taken place, their puzzlement turned to disbelief and shock. But, all it meant to a five-year-old boy was that the Dorothy and Toto movie had stopped and the cartoon wouldn’t play.

I had no way of knowing then that date marked the end of U.S. isolationism; that from then on, my world and that of those about me would forever be changed.

Back then, most folks remained in close proximity to the their birthplace, so there was always a family gathering for holidays and other special occasions.
That night, the family gathered at my aunt’s next door.

We kids had no idea of the grownups’ concern.

Over the next few days, I came to realize things had changed. There was a different mood at home, in town, at school.

Then a couple uncles shipped out.

I came in from play a few days later and Mom was crying. I remember how she hugged me and said from then on, I’d have to be the man of the house. I had no idea what she was talking about.

The next day or maybe the next, Papa and Mama Conwell stopped at the house, and we all loaded into his 1940 Chevrolet.

We headed to Shamrock and the train station.

We stayed home while Dad went through boot camp on the east coast, Norfolk, Virginia, if I remember right.

When Dad returned, he then headed for California, and he took us with him. That was the beginning of two or three years of constant moving. From there Albuquerque, then Hutchinson, Kansas, and then overseas.

We stayed in Wheeler.

I don’t figure I’ll ever again witness the degree of dynamic energy created by the unified drive and motivation of the American populace supporting our country in those years. We were a juggernaut of determination and purpose.

Just about everything was rationed. Victory gardens were a way of life. Kids roamed the neighborhoods in paper drives. Farmers hauled in rusted and broken implements that would be melted down into war weapons.

If you lived back then, you remember how it was. I don’t know what percentage, but I’d guess three-quarters of everything went to support the war.

Soft drinks for example were next to impossible to find.

Once on the way to California, we stopped at a station in the middle of Arizona. My uncle and I went inside and in soft drink box, found a lone Seven-Up.

We drank it. When we went to pay, the owner exploded. He had brought that over forty miles so he could enjoy it himself.

That was how the rationing was.

I’m sure folks complained back then, but can you imagine the tenor of their complaints if called upon for such sacrifices today?

Women were taking over jobs men had once held, doing as competent and often better work.

America buzzed with the ‘can do’ and ‘never quit’ spirit, and that bulldog determination is what brought our country its greatest victory.

Times change. Today we’re facing an enemy we can’t eradicate with an atomic bomb. To me that makes it doubly dangerous, much more costly, and a battle that might never fully be won.

I hate to think the last eight or ten years being perpetuated decades into the life of my children and grandchildren.

Don‘t you?

I might be wrong, but I feel in the years to come 9/11 will prove to be as significant, and maybe arguably more so, than Pearl Harbor.




rconwell@gt.rr.com
www.kentconwell.blogspot.com

Whee

Where Were You When the Bombs Fell?

I was watching ‘The Wizard of Oz” sixty-nine years ago with my parents at the Rogue Picture Show in Wheeler, Texas, a sleepy little village in the Panhandle. Right in the middle of the show, the lights came on. Mr. Guthrie, the theater owner, climbed up on the stage and announced that Pearl Harbor had been attacked.
Most of the audience just looked at each other, not knowing what he was talking about. What’s a Pearl Harbor, some asked. As he went on to explain what had taken place, their puzzlement turned to disbelief and shock. But, all it meant to a five-year-old boy was that the Dorothy and Toto movie had stopped and the cartoon wouldn’t play.
I had no way of knowing then that date marked the end of U.S. isolationism; that from then on, my world and that of those about me would forever be changed.
Back then, most folks remained in close proximity to the their birthplace, so there was always a family gathering for holidays and other special occasions.
That night, the family gathered at my aunt’s next door.
We kids had no idea of the grownups’ concern.
Over the next few days, I came to realize things had changed. There was a different mood at home, in town, at school.
Then a couple uncles shipped out.
I came in from play a few days later and Mom was crying. I remember how she hugged me and said from then on, I’d have to be the man of the house. I had no idea what she was talking about.
The next day or maybe the next, Papa and Mama Conwell stopped at the house, and we all loaded into his 1940 Chevrolet.
We headed to Shamrock and the train station.
We stayed home while Dad went through boot camp on the east coast, Norfolk, Virginia, if I remember right.
When Dad returned, he then headed for California, and he took us with him. That was the beginning of two or three years of constant moving. From there Albuquerque, then Hutchinson, Kansas, and then overseas.
We stayed in Wheeler.
I don’t figure I’ll ever again witness the degree of dynamic energy created by the unified drive and motivation of the American populace supporting our country in those years. We were a juggernaut of determination and purpose.
Just about everything was rationed. Victory gardens were a way of life. Kids roamed the neighborhoods in paper drives. Farmers hauled in rusted and broken implements that would be melted down into war weapons.
If you lived back then, you remember how it was. I don’t know what percentage, but I’d guess three-quarters of everything went to support the war.
Soft drinks for example were next to impossible to find.
Once on the way to California, we stopped at a station in the middle of Arizona. My uncle and I went inside and in soft drink box, found a lone Seven-Up.
We drank it. When we went to pay, the owner exploded. He had brought that over forty miles so he could enjoy it himself.
That was how the rationing was.
I’m sure folks complained back then, but can you imagine the tenor of their complaints if called upon for such sacrifices today?
Women were taking over jobs men had once held, doing as competent and often better work.
America buzzed with the ‘can do’ and ‘never quit’ spirit, and that bulldog determination is what brought our country its greatest victory.
Times change. Today we’re facing an enemy we can’t eradicate with an atomic bomb. To me that makes it doubly dangerous, much more costly, and a battle that might never fully be won.
I hate to think about the last eight or ten years being perpetuated decades into the life of my children and grandchildren.
Don‘t you?
I might be wrong, but I feel in the years to come 9/11 will prove to be as significant, and maybe arguably more so, than Pearl Harbor.




rconwell@gt.rr.com
www.kentconwell.blogspot.com

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

A Week Never to Forget

Now, everyone be honest when you answer this question?

Was there anything significant about last Monday, November 22? How about the twenty-fourth—or the twenty-fifth?

Think hard, for there is also a little touch of irony mixed in.

After all, it was only forty-seven years ago.

If you can’t pin it down, you aren’t by yourself. I was surprised when none of the local media I read and watch failed to feature it. I had to go online to MSNBC to find any mention of the incident. In all fairness, a few stations did pick it up on the evening news—you know, sort of a knee jerk reaction when they realized the significance of the date.

Reminds me of the lack of exposure for D-Day; Pearl Harbor; and others.

Forty-seven years ago last Monday, November 22, John F. Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas, Texas.

There isn’t a person who was alive back then who doesn’t remember where he was when the news hit the airways.

I was teaching at Haltom High School in the Birdville School District (yep, that is a real school district) on the outskirts of Fort Worth.

There was a great deal of animosity toward the president back then. He was Catholic; he was rich; his ideas were too liberal; and half-a-dozen other common gripes when folks don’t like a president. Many voters felt he was leading us in the wrong path although he had earlier stood up to Russia and forced them to remove missiles from Cuba.

In case you don’t remember that incident, I’ll just remind you the U.S. was only hours away from a nuclear war.

Our country had never had a Catholic president. I didn’t know much about Catholicism, so I was concerned about the influence the Church would have on Kennedy as president. Consequently, I voted for Nixon who had served as vice-president under Eisenhower.

I know, I know. I was much younger and lot dumber. And sometimes I wonder if I’ve ever gotten any smarter. My wife says I haven’t.

But anyway, on that day, a Friday, during my conference period, I popped in the men’s lounge for a cigarette. Two or three of us were sitting there discussing Kennedy’s visit to Fort Worth the night before and his parade currently underway in Dallas.

The door burst open and the shop teacher stuck his head in. “What do you think about shooting Kennedy?”

Now the sixties were a different time, a different period with little or no political correctness.

Thinking he was just joking, I popped off and said, “I think it’s a good idea.”
The other guys laughed with me.

The shop teacher gaped at us. “No. I mean, it happened. Some Dallas idiot shot the president.”

We were all stunned and mortified by our joke.

The principal came on the speakers, announcing the news.

The rest of the day, we sat in classes with our students, everyone listening to the
minute-by-minute report of the tragedy that had taken place not thirty miles from us.

There wasn’t a sound in that whole school building when the announcement came that the president had died.

I didn’t see the TV, but word was that Walter Cronkite broke down when he announced
the president’s death.

That year Thanksgiving came late, the twenty-eighth, so instead of just Thursday and Friday holidays, the district turned us out for the entire week. We stayed glued to the TV. On Sunday, November 24, we saw Jack Ruby shoulder his way through the crowd and shoot Oswald.

Kennedy was buried Monday, the twenty-fifth. Everyone in the country watched the procession. None can forget Jackie’s tender kiss on the flag draping the casket, nor Caroline’s tiny hand touching the coffin, nor the poignancy of little John-John’s salute.

None of us moved a muscle as the casket was placed on the caisson and the procession began.

Those days will always be etched in my memory just as Pearl Harbor and the other significant events that mark the passage of our civilization from an age of innocence to the global miasma of uncertainty and confusion facing us today.

The irony? The assassin of the president died the day before the president was buried.

I once scoffed at the Camelot allusion regarding the president and his wife. If I had it to do over, I wouldn’t laugh at it. I would embrace it.


rconwell@gt.rr.com
www.kentconwell.blogspot.com

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

A Thanksgiving for Slim

A few weeks back, I was looking through some old family photos. Some of them go back almost a hundred years. The one that caught my attention was a line of grinning men and women standing in front of a clapboard shack. One young man held a baby.


Me. That was seventy-four years ago, but what caught my attention was an old man in his sixties standing at the end. His name was Slim.

I’ve mentioned Slim before. I never knew his last name. He wasn’t blood kin, but he was as much of the family as anyone.

As long as I can remember, he was always around. An old broken down cowboy from the Frying Pan Ranch up near Amarillo, the rigors of cowboying had sent him to the farm.
When I was growing up, he’d bounce me on his knee, then later let me ride on his back. I was around five or so when I heard his story the first time.

An orphan, he grew up bitter and angry, resenting everyone and always looking for a fight. He got in trouble once too often in Mobeetie, and the judge gave him a choice of jail or work, and if he quit work within two years, he’d end up in the calaboose. The next day, he hired on at the Frying Pan Ranch back west.

He remained wild and angry. After a few brawls in the bunkhouse, the foreman assigned him the hated job of repairing fences, all one hundred and twenty miles of four-strand wire.

The young hellion had a choice, barb wire or jail. He took the wire, which kept him away from headquarters a month at a time. And out of trouble.

Now he always looked forward to holidays, the Fourth, Thanksgiving, and Christmas. That was about the only time he could get away from his fence mending other than paydays.

Fence mending shut down at Thanksgiving for the winter.
Slim was counting the days.

Two days before he was slated to head back to headquarters some thirty miles distant, a blue norther swept across the Panhandle.

According to Slim, for one of the few times in his life, he was scared. He had seen too much evidence of the devastation those snow storms brought.

Headquarters was out of the question. His only chance was an old shack with two walls missing about three miles distant.

Hours later, he had not found the shack. His fears grew, but he plodded ahead.
Not long after, he spotted the cabin, and to his surprise, there was a light coming from around the edges of the cowhide covering the window.

Inside, an old man greeted him, explaining that seeing the shack deserted, he had repaired it and moved in for the winter. He had even rigged up a partial windbreak for his horse, and there was room for Slim’s animals.

The cabin was warm and a mouthwatering aroma arose from the pot bubbling on the potbellied stove. It was only rabbit, but the ‘best Thanksgiving dinner I ever had’, he said.

Four days, the storm raged. On the fifth, the skies cleared, and despite the snow, Slim headed to the ranch before the next storm blew in.

‘Everyone thought I was froze to death,” he said. “They didn’t believe me about the old man. So, the foreman and me went back the next day.”

The shack was deserted; two walls were missing; and a foot of snow covered the pot bellied stove.

No one could explain how he had survived four days in such a storm without shelter, but he had.

Now, I never heard Slim say this, but Mama Holly once told me that Slim had confided in her and Papa that he knew how he had managed to survive. Someone wanted him to live. ‘I reckon it was God,” he told Mama and Papa.

Gone was the anger, the resentment, the bitterness that had caused him so much trouble.

Slim stayed on the ranch even after a bronc busted him so badly that all he could do was cook, and for the next few years, he did that with a ready smile and a
willingness to go out of his way to help other cowboys.

You know, old men, especially cowboys, like to tell stretchers. I’ve often wondered over the years if Slim was just making all that up. I don’t think he was, because after Slim passed on, Mama told me an old cowboy from the Frying Pan Ranch showed up at the old man’s funeral.

Maybe it didn’t happen—or maybe it did.

I like to think it did.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Eleven, Eleven, Eleven

Last year as I sat at my desk on the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month, an eerie feeling ran up my spine. It may seem hokey to some, but at that very moment, to the minute exactly ninety-one years after the event, a strange feeling washed over me, a sense of deep gratitude for our fighting men and women who have struggled to preserve our country’s freedom.

I’m talking about Veterans’ Day, the day set aside to honor all the women and men who have served in our armed forces.

November 11 is the anniversary of the Armistice, which was signed by the Allies and the Germans in 1918 in the forest at Rethondes near the town of Compienge ending World War I.

At five a.m. that morning, an agreement was struck, signatures were fixed to the document, and an order to cease all firing was issued. Six hours later at eleven a.m., the Armistice went into effect. Arms were lowered, whistles blew, impromptu parades erupted, and businesses closed in celebration.

While I enjoy all holidays, the blessings of Thanksgiving, the gaiety and joy of Christmas, the holiness of Easter, the exuberance of July 4, Veteran’s Day is most precious to me because so many in my family shouldered the arms of war and went out to do battle to preserve the freedom I enjoy, and my children and grandchildren now enjoy.

Twenty years passed after that signing before Congress agreed upon a bill that each November 11 would be celebrated as Armistice Day. Fifteen years later on November 11, 1953, instead of celebrating only WWI veterans, Alvin King of Emporia suggested all veterans to be honored.

Representative Ed Rees, of Emporia, Kansas, was so impressed that he introduced a bill into the House to change the name to Veterans' Day. After this passed, Mr. Rees wrote to all state governors and asked for their approval and cooperation in observing the changed holiday. The name was changed to Veterans' Day by Act of Congress on May 24, 1954.

In October of that year, President Eisenhower called on all citizens to observe the day by remembering the sacrifices of all those who fought so gallantly, and through rededication to the task of promoting an enduring peace. The President said the change of name to Veterans' Day was an honor to the servicemen of all America's wars.

Many of my family served. My father spent a year on the west coast and a couple years in South America; a cousin served in the Army Air Corps; an uncle served in the army; and one in the navy. Another uncle served earlier in the Philippines, but was discharged with a blood disease that, according to oral family history, eventually took his life. Another cousin served in Korea and is still listed as a MIA after over half a century.

During the war, despite the efforts of those behind, family gatherings were filled with empty holes. Word always turned to those not present. I can remember seeing my grandmother’s and aunts’ eyes filling with tears as their innermost prayers went out to their loved ones.

We were one of the lucky families. Dad returned. My uncle in the army returned having received a shrapnel wound on Okinawa. My uncle in the navy made it back. My Air Force cousin returned safely. The only casualty we faced was my uncle who had served in the Philippines.

Then five years later, another cousin, Henry Shoop, whom we always called Dooley, shipped out to Korea.

We never saw him again. We never heard a word of his fate. All we know is he went out on patrol one night. The patrol was attacked. None returned, and no bodies were found.

I look around now at those brave men and women giving their lives for America, and I want to cry. I know the families of those serving realize just how dear the sacrifice our military is making, but I wonder about the rest of America. Do they understand?

If they don’t, they should drop to their knees and pray for that understanding be given them.



rconwell@gt.rr.com
www.kentconwell.blogspot.com

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

A Halloween Story

A Halloween Story

I don’t know how many of you are like me, but I still get a big kick out of Halloween. Unfortunately, over the past few years, only a handful of youngsters have come by.

Once or twice, none showed up.

My wife said it was my fault because of the recording.

Oh, I didn’t tell you about the recording. It’s nothing really, just an old 33 1/3 record of Halloween sounds, wolves, owls, vampires—you get the idea. I’d put out a speaker in the shadows of the front porch, and when trick or treaters showed up, I’d turn it on.

Talk about running and screaming. I should have felt bad, but I didn’t.
Today, most little goblins attend church- or neighborhood-sponsored activities. I feel kind of sorry for the little ones who will never experience a full moon shining down on a deserted lane winding through the woods.

When the girls were in elementary, they hosted a Halloween slumber party for six or seven friends.

We roasted wieners and marshmallows, told ghost stories, and then unknown to my wife, I touched off the recording. It was set on the wolf howls.

Fifteen seconds later, I knew I’d make a mistake for everyone of those girls were clinging to Gayle and me like Velcro. We had to pry them off.

Finally, after they calmed down some, they decided they wanted to go down Sarah Jane Road and see the hanging tree.

The isolated road is as gloomy and scary as the spooky road old Ichabod Crane traveled the night he confronted the Headless Horseman. A perfect road for the Living Dead—and highly impressionable young girls.

We only had to drive about half a mile, so I loaded the girls in the back of the pickup and we headed out.

I pointed out the tree and suggested they get out an look at it.
They did not budge. No way they were going to approach that tree.

I knew how they felt. One Halloween on my grand-mother’s farm, an uncle told my cousin, Ed, and me that every Halloween, the ghost of an old farmer that had been caught in a combine and chopped to pieces came back looking for his missing hand.

We laughed the story off.

That night, Ed and I trudged down the lane to trick or treat the only neighbor. Their boys accompanied us back to my grandparents so we could trick or treat them. Before we left, we told our friends about the farmer’s ghost. They snickered at us.

Now, you’ve got to get the picture here. The full moon was straight overhead. On either side of the lane were pastures dotted with mesquite, and I promise you, in the dark, the twisted mesquite limbs took on mighty scary shapes in the eyes of spooky ten and eleven year old boys.

And the fact we were talking about ghosts and werewolves and such didn’t help. Our frightened eyes made every shadow into Dracula or the Frankenstein monster.

And then we saw it. In the pasture, a floating white object. The wind seemed to be carrying it toward us, and then a mournful, whining moan came through the mesquite.

We set a world-record time getting back to the house. It took ten minutes to stammer out what happened. One uncle grunted. “Yep, that was old Burl. How long’s it been now, fifty years since he got cut all to pieces. He’s still looking for his missing hand.”

We listened to him with our eyes bugged out like a stepped-on toad frogs.

And I don’t have to tell you how big they got when my grandfather said, “Well, Kent, it’s getting late. You and Ed walk your young friends back home, and then hurry back.”

Wild horses couldn’t have pulled us from that house.

One of my uncles had to take our friends back home.

And they couldn’t get us outside the next day.

Years later, we learned the whole family had played a big joke on Ed and me. It was my Uncle Bud, Ed’s daddy, who played Burl in a sheet.

I tell you this, folks, those are memories I’ll never forget. And that will probably never come again.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Leave Education Alone

Leave Education Alone

I will bring in jobs; I will lower taxes; and I will reform education.”

You know what those are, the meaningless words of garrulous politicians spouting
promises like Moby Dick spouted water.

The most frequent promise is to reform education.

Well, excuse me for saying, but that has been tried time and again. Obviously the reforms do not work because there’s a new reform every four years. The first time I heard it was from Price Daniels, and every governor, senator, and representative candidate since them has said the same thing.

About thirty years back, the legislature started tying teacher raises to various tasks such as test scores, teacher evaluation—a jump through the hoop sort of thing. Of they do is botch things up.

One of the current whims is merit pay based upon student test scores, which is simply another futile attempt to change education by throwing a ton of taxpayer money at a problem.

With forty-one years behind me, I can tell you that money is not the solution.
Another movement is to pay additional money to teachers who go to low-achieving districts. On paper, it sounds logical. In practice, it is not only a waste of money, but also a garish display of the proponents’ ignorance.

Why?

I retired from what I consider one of the best school districts in the state—and I might add, with some of the lowest salaries in Southeast Texas when you compare it to districts of it’s size or larger.

Yet, we always had teachers from higher paying and lower achieving districts trying to find a position within the district. Some tried for years before they made it.

I know for I hired some from those districts. You tell me, why would they be eager to take a cut in pay to come to our district?

Even the idea of paying teachers extra if students score better is like trying to catch water with your fingers.

I used to joke with some coaching friends that I’d hate for my job to depend on 17 and 18 year olds. You never know how they will perform from one week to the next.

Sure, kids are hard to figure, to motivate. Like the old saw, raising a teenager is like trying to nail jelly to a tree.

But seriously, how do you hold a kid’s feet to the fire when he knows mom and dad will sue the district for him? How do you motivate a student when he knows regardless of how poor his work may be, he’ll still get a fifty or higher and probably pass to the next grade just to preserve his precious self-esteem? How do you get extra effort from a kid who sees other students treated differently because they are athletes?

So what happens? Reformers ignore the real problems, serious problems that would make a can of worms look like a simple five-piece puzzle for a three-year-old.

Now if you say ‘it isn’t the students’ fault, then I’ll say you’re right.’ On the other hand, you can’t blame a top-notch teacher for not wishing to undertake such a staggering job when the odds are against him.

States have thrown measuring devices at teachers for decades, and none of them work. They can’t because the basis of measurement is as intangible as a puff of smoke, a student’s effort or lack of.

The big problem in measuring teacher performance is that the reformers go to the wrong ones for input. You don’t ask school board members, senators, state education CEOs, college professors, or local political representatives. Most of them are like those ubiquitous education instructors I had back in the fifties, all theory, and little substance.

I conducted my first student teaching class as the professors taught, and the kids ran all over me. My cooperating teacher, a short, bowling ball of a lady, came in and promised to mash each unruly student under her thumb if they didn’t behave.

They behaved, and I taught. Poorly at first, but over the years, my classes were disciplined with only a few failures because parents and I made the kids study and pass.

When the smoke clears, all that is really left to help education are the parents and community following the discipline of:
1. Parents insist kids do homework
2. Parents stop making excuses for kids
3. Parents stop living their own youth through their children
4. Communities show the same pride in academics as athletics.

Practice those four disciplines, and I promise you, the kids will benefit.

rconwell@gt.rr.com
www.kentconwell.blogspot.com

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Enough is Enough

I try not to pay a whole lot of attention to what goes on in New York City. We’ve plenty of problems down here without taking on any more.

But, I couldn’t help shaking my head in wonder when New York City Mayor Bloomberg and the New York Governor Paterson asked the federal government to ban the purchase of soda pop and sweetened fruit drinks with food stamps.

You know what food stamps are, those federal vouchers used by 42 million low-income Americans to buy food.

According to Reuters, the two gentlemen from New York called sugar-sweetened beverages the largest contributor to the growing obesity epidemic.

Said Bloomberg, ‘There’s nothing wrong with an occasional one. But the kids are dinking a enormous amount of full-sugar beverages.”

And then the American Beverage Association jumped into the fray and started swinging by insisting the proposition is “just another attempt by government to tell New Yorkers what they should eat and drink, and will only have an unfair impact on those who can least afford it.”

Sound familiar?

Well, it isn’t much different down here in Texas. Forty percent of New York’s public school children are obese. Here in Texas, it is 35%--and growing. (no pun intended)

Now the food stamp regs do forbid purchase of harmful items such as tobacco and alcohol, but jiminy crickets, even a rocket scientist can get around that. Who out there has not witnessed items purchased with stamps or cards, then cash paid for the cigarettes or beer?

New York’s request has nothing to do with telling Americans what they can eat. All it does is state, ‘if we give you free money, then you are giving up the right to spend it anyway you wish. You must spend it according to the guidelines laid down.”

What is difficult about that? And what is wrong about that?

On the other hand, people are mighty slick at finding ways around rules and regulations.

My wife and I were waiting to check out at a supermarket in Beaumont when the lady in front paid for her groceries with a Lone Star card. I didn’t think much about it until the checker handed her twenty-five dollars in cash. Then the lady used the card to pay for her teenage boy’s one liter orange drink, and once again received twenty-five dollars in cash. She laughed and told the cashier she needed extra cash for the boat in Lake Charles. (for those who don’t know, the boat is a gambling boat)

I didn’t know welfare recipients could get cash, but when I went online, I discovered I was wrong. Recipients can receive a percentage of their benefits in cash-at least with the Lone Star card.

It isn’t my place to judge others, but you can’t help wondering upon witnessing another situation where a young couple, both seem perfectly healthy, paid for two baskets heaped with groceries with a Lone Star card.

Oh the other hand, when friends and acquaintances are subjected to various drug tests in order to keep their jobs, it somehow seems unfair that no such tests are required for those who apply for welfare. What it boils down to is that many must take drug tests to work so their taxes can buy drugs for those who do not have to take drug tests to draw welfare.

Am I wrong? If so, explain it to me.

Now this isn’t confined to just Texas and New York. The abuse is rampant across the entire country.

The LA Times reported that 69 million in California welfare funds to help the needy had been spent outside the state on a variety of luxuries including Las Vegas slot machines, Hawaiian vacations, and luxury cruises out of Miami.

How is that even possible when the benefit for a single parent of two is about $500.00 in California? It isn’t possible, which means those individuals have additional and unreported income. I think they call that fraud. Obviously those agencies involved are doing nothing about it.

I sympathize with the lady who told the president she feared for the American dream. We all should. This sort of abuse is pushing the dream far beyond our reach.

Let’s help those who really need it, not the moochers who are always trying to get something for nothing. Let’s hold their feet to the fire for once, not the American workers’.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

The Little Man's Party. Really?

I’ve told you, probably too often, about my two little grandsons, Mikey and Keegan. Well, guess what? We now have a brand-new little granddaughter, Kenli Marie Johnstone, Keegan’s little sister.

She was born October 1, only four days before Keegan’s birthday on October 5. Can’t you just visualize just how chaotic that birthday week will be in the coming years?

But, she’s healthy, ten fingers, ten toes, black hair, 20 inches long and topped the scales at six pounds, nine ounces.

Now, I know there isn’t a grandparent out there who doesn’t believe their grandchild is even prettier than Kenli. And that’s okay. I know the truth.

She came along a day so after I ran across some rather startling data online. Aware of just how online data can be manipulated, I checked all the information, and the results were very interesting.

Why? Well, you see, as soon as little Kenli gave her first cry at 1:21 pm October 1, that bundle from heaven was already $43,572.43 in debt thanks to our government. When I say government, I don’t mean just the present administration although it has set records that I hope will never be matched.

They spend money they don’t have. Why?

In the name of helping citizens.

Does it really? Take a look at the following data, and then you decide if the government has really helped.

The ten poorest cities over 250,000 in America.


City % below poverty Democratic mayor
1 Detroit 36.4 since 1961
2 Buffalo 29.9 since 1954
3 Cincinnati 27.8 since 1984
4 Cleveland 35 since 1989
5 Miami 26.9 since 1947
6 St Louis 26.8 since 1949
7 El Paso 25.3 since 2001
8 Milwaukee 26.2 since 1908
9 Philadelphia 25 since 1952
10 Newark 24.2 since 1896

See what they hae in common? They all adhere to the principles espoused by democrats. Now we all know that the Democratic Party is known as ‘the little man’s party’, a moniker of which that party’s politicians are proud.

What I see here are cities wallowing in an economy of entitlements. Naturally, those recipients are voters. And naturally, they do not want to lose free money. It is the poor who habitually elect Democrats based upon the promises of help and aid.

But you know what? Those poor are still poor after all these years. You tell me, what good have the Democratic mayors done for the cities?

The majority of those percentages want the government to take care of them. They want something for nothing. And obviously in those cities, that’s exactly what they are getting, nothing.

Oh, the politicians—hey, they’re cleaning up like bandits while the citizens are still waiting for handouts.

Now before any one becomes too rabid over what I’m saying, understand, we must help the sick and infirm as well as those who are making an effort to shed the shackles of poverty.

The others?

In 1942, Presbyterian minister William J.H. Boetcker published the pamphlet, Lincoln on Limitations. He also added ten of his own quotes to those of Lincoln, and often, writers have attributed those quotes to Lincoln. Some have attributed them to Reagan.

1. You cannot bring about prosperity by discouraging thrift.
2. You cannot strengthen the weak by weakening the strong.
3. You cannot help the poor by destroying the rich.
4. You cannot further the brotherhood of man by inciting class hatred.
5. You cannot build character and courage by taking away man’s initiative and independence.
6. You cannot help small men by tearing down big men.
7. You cannot lift the wage earner by pulling down the wage payer.
8. You cannot keep out of trouble by spending more than your income.
9. You cannot establish security on borrowed money.
10. You cannot help men permanently by doing for them what they will not do for themselves.

If you think about our present administration honestly, not with the colored lens of party affiliation, you’ll have to agree their actions are the opposite of these ten philosophies.

And that spells nothing but trouble.

I don’t want my little granddaughter or you grand children $43,572.43 in debt because of irresponsible congressmen and their leaders.

Do you?

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

There You Go Again, Mr. President

You’re doing it again, Mr. President. You’re jumping into new projects without completing any that you’ve begun. Oops, I apologize. You did push through the health bill that will not only drive the deficit higher, but also dig deeper into the American pocketbook. Oh, yeah, the stimulus—that will-of-the-wisp dream that stimulated hundreds of CEOs to award themselves obscene bonuses. Good job there.

But look at where we are today. The economy is sputtering along like an old Model T. Of course, the old Model T usually got where it was going. I have my doubts about your economy.

And yes, despite your fervent insistence that it is all ‘George’s’ fault, after almost two years, it is your economy. With the firepower you have in Congress, you’ve had ample time to make things better—like you promised over and over.

You were voted in because many wanted change. In their eagerness to make their lives better, they grasped at straws, and you were the straw they grabbed. So desperate, they never thought to ask what kind of change you had in mind.

I voted for the first time back in the fifties. I always voted for that individual I thought best for the job. When I looked at your record and when I listened to your speeches, I didn’t like what I heard and saw. That’s my right. The majority disagreed with me.

You know something, Mr. President. The majority doesn’t disagree now.

In a way, I hate that for I don’t believe you’re a despot like many say. I don’t believe you want to rule the world.

I think you sincerely believe all you say. I think your advisors believe that they say.

The problem is, you and your advisors come from another planet, that of Academia where cute little theories tossed around in the upper atmosphere in the tea rooms of Harvard and Yale seem Utopian, but actually pale in comparison to the harsh realities of hardworking people struggling day in and day out to put food on the table, educate their children, save a little, and perhaps enjoy life on the weekends.
And now you plan on reforming education in America.

I suggest you listen to people who know education. I have news for you. Three-quarters of the superintendents, chancellors, and commissioners to whom you have spoken are as inept as some of the teachers you are blaming for failing the children.

Other than you’re both Chicago boys, I can’t figure out why you chose Arne Duncan as Secretary of Education. If I handed out report cards to school district CEOs, Mr. Duncan would get a bright red F.

Why?

Greatschools, a nation wide non-profit organization that provides K-12 information about all private, public, and charter schools, ranked Chicago schools as a 4 out of 10 while rating Nederland and Port Neches, Texas as sevens and eights. A sobering comparison, huh?

If after eight years as CEO, Duncan couldn’t even get Chicago to a passing score, why listen to his ideas on how to better American education? Get real, Mr. President.

You talked about longer school days. You have no glimmer of what is going on there. You get an F also—also in red.

According to the Associated Press, Duncan’s rationale for longer school days was ‘Young people in other countries are going to school twenty-five, thirty percent longer than our students here.” He added to the AP. “I want to just level the playing field.”

Sounds noble, you think?

That’s B.S., Mr. President. That’s just another of the many fabrications to make your administration appear as if it cares.

In fact, according to the AP, U.S. kids spend more hours in school (1,146 instructional hours yearly) than kids in Asian schools who outscore us in math and science.

True, Japan and Hong Kong, said the AP, have longer school years by up to twenty days, but only spend 1,005-1,013 instructional hours yearly—less than our schools.
I predict this reform of yours will not succeed.

Why? Because the last two years have been eye openers for many of us. We might not have Harvard degrees, but we ain’t dumb. And we learned a long time back what B.S. smells like.

We’re doing okay down here. We’ve got a lot of bright kids graduating and going on to college and into the work force.

Sure we have problems, but our communities are working on them. We don’t need outsiders with completely alien cultural beliefs running our schools for us.

By the way, while you were enjoying your vacations, over five hundred Southeast
Texas teachers were in summer school working on advanced degrees and honing their skills as teachers.

Just thought you and your people might like to know.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Time to Haul Back on the Reins

Say you’re making preparations to attend college or to send one or more of your children off to school. If you’re like most of us, you’ll have to make financial sacrifices to achieve your goals.

But, what if you had a fairy godmother in Washington who could get you all the scholarships you needed? Just pluck them out of a never-ending supply of money.

Dreaming?

Nope, that’s what happened when nine-term Dallas Congresswoman Eddie Bernice Johnson awarded $31,000.00 in college scholarships to her grandchildren and a top aide's two children, using foundation funds set aside for black lawmakers' causes.

According to the Dallas Observer News, Ms. Johnson claimed she did not understand the anti-nepotism rules for the scholarships. Seems like she did not consider grandchildren as part of her immediate family. And this from a single woman pulling down two hundred thousand a year as a lawmaker.

Now Ms. Johnson is not by herself. Innumerable members of Congress have bent the rules for personal use of someone else’s money.

Two of the most recent instances of ethics violations have concerned Rep. Charlie Rangel D-NY and Rep. Maxine Waters D-California facing ethics charges.

During my research, I was stunned when I saw just how many of our lawmakers had been charged with ethic’s violations, a Pablum expression in the parlance of Washington insiders that covers just about everything under the felony statutes.

You know how it goes, a senator from the state of Xanadu takes a fifty thousand dollar bribe, and the accusation is not bribery, but ethics violations. Sounds better, you know?

Political correctness at its apex.

Would you believe that ninety percent of those accused of various violations of the law have served three or more terms.

The three representatives I mentioned earlier are all in the thirty-forty year brackets serving the people—no, let me rephrase that. I should have said “‘thirty-forty year brackets taking” from the people that long becomes a habit, just like entitlements become a habit.

In a recent survey, three quarters of all voters favored term limits. Only 16% opposed them. (I don’t have the details, but I can guess the demographics of that 16%-elected officials)

So why don’t we have them?

Let me tell a little story. According to watchdog U.S. Term Limits, opposition comes from legislative or judicial actions overturning the results of popular elections.

In fact just last year New York City leaders arbitrarily tossed out the results of two citywide elections that would have denied themselves additional terms in office.

Now this could never happen in the political process laid out by the Founding Fathers.

U.S. Term Limits noted that female historian Mercy Otis Warren, the Conscience of the American Revolution, protested exclusion of term limits from the constitution, pointing out the corrosive influence career politicians would have over the populace.

She wrote, “There is no provision for (rotation in office), nor anything to prevent the perpetuity of office in the same hands for life; which by a little well timed bribery, will probably be done.” --1788

Richard Henry Lee, George Mason, Thomas Jefferson, all Founding Fathers and along with many others feared that without a restriction on tenure, career politicians would take over the country.

History has proven Mrs. Warren correct in her assessment of the situation.
Until we follow the wisdom of our Founding Fathers to correct this fallacy in our elective process, we’ll continue with the same as we have now.

Albert Einstein is supposed to have remarked, “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and over and expecting different results.”

A neighbor said it a little differently, but it means the same thing. “Keep doing what you’re doing, and you’ll keep getting what you got.”









rconwell@gt.rr.com
www.kentconwell.blogspot.com

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

So Says the Constitution

There are two initiatives I feel are essential to all of us, issues that will have a definite effect on us and our children in the years to come.

Now, don’t laugh when I mention the first, term limits for all elected individuals. We can talk about that later.

The second, and the one I wish to address today, has to do with birth granted citizenship for offspring of individuals who are not American citizens.

The latter topic is naturally much more volatile than the first for it is what ties many of the illegal aliens to the U.S. You know how it goes, a young couple sneaks over the border in time for a child to be born, and Presto! Instead of Instant Oatmeal, you have Instant American.

Now, I’m not talking about the right or wrong of it. America is basically a fair-minded and compassionate country, willing to help others. It takes a cold-hearted person not to understand why so many aliens wish to be a part of this great nation.
And one of the slickest means is for an illegal to have his child born in the United States.

Now there is a great deal of talk about changing the XIV Amendment so such a finesse becomes a thing of the past.

The kicker is that when the amendment was first ratified in 1868, the idea behind the law was not as it is interpreted today. I don’t know when it changed precisely, but it is different. Somewhere along the way, some judge, whether Republican, Democrat, Libertarian, atheist, or Wiccan, was too full of himself and issued an interpretation of the amendment. That interpretation stuck so today we have a back door that is flooding country into bankruptcy.

The XIV Amendment begins “All persons born or naturalized in the United States and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside."

The first nine words mean exactly what they say, right?

The rest of the statement is also clearly laid out, “And subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside."

Now the word ‘jurisdiction’ is the culprit. Noticably so for it is a multi-syllabic, and most politicians and judges can’t handle more than two syllables.

Do you really think that if a Cheyenne maiden had given birth to a child in one of the Philadelphia hospitals that the country would have given the little tadpole the mantle of citizenship? Not likely. That was a privilege not given to the American Indians until 1924. So can one of you Constitutional Scholars out there provide evidence that the intent of that portion of the XIV Amendment was to cover any child of any pair of non-citizens even it the infant is born on our soil?

I think not, so let’s talk a little further about “Subject to the jurisdiction thereof.”

As you are well aware that those folks that Lincoln’s Dmancipation Proclamation liberated still did not enjoy the sames rights as those who freed them?

In 1866, the Civil Rights Act tried to rectify the 1863 proclamation by stating--now, read this carefully. “All persons born in the United States, and not subject to any foreign power, excluding Indians not taxed, are hereby declared to be citizens of the United States. ... All persons within the jurisdiction of the United States shall have the same right in every State and Territory to make and enforce contracts, to sue, be parties, give evidence etc. . .” It goes on to list all the rights of citizenship.

Now follow me here. “Not subject to any foreign power.” You and your spouse have a child. That child is yours. If you are a citizen of Mars, that child is a Martian, not an American. I don’t care if you’re in the middle of Times Square. If you and your spouse are Hispanic, Asian, Polish, Russian, you name it, that child is the same race. If you don’t have legal papers, he doesn’t have legal papers. He is still subject to the foreign power from which he came.

It is truly that simple.

Now we all know politicans seldom read what is put before them. It’s about time they do, and this is something with which they can begin.

That’s how all this mess began, with some full-of-himself judge interpreting a law he had probably never read.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

What Kind of Country Are We?

I cringe every time I witness another decision that diminishes our country’s allegiance to God. Unfortunately, evidence of such is everywhere.

A few weeks back, I mentioned that Richard Henry Lee, the Virginia statesman who called for the colonies’ independence in the Second Continental Congress, harbored the fear that the absence of legal limits to political tenure could create an oligarchic structure, a structure that allows a ‘rule by the few’.

His fears were echoed by Thomas Jefferson who worried that the Courts would overstep their authority by ‘Making Law’ instead of ‘Interpreting Law.’ Such endeavors create an oligarthic configuration in which select individuals in power determine what is best for all of us.

That, ladies and gentlemen, is what is taking place today. A few, who think they ‘know best’, are doing all they can to herd us like sheep into various pens.

That isn’t what our Founding Fathers had in mind. What they intended is that each of us would make his own decisions based, for better or worse, upon the relationship or nonrelationship we had with our Lord.

Man should take care of himself, not the other way around.

Recently I received an email from my old high school chat group that attributed several remarks to Andy Rooney, that admirable old curmudgeon.

I couldn’t determine if he were the author of the article since many articles have been falsely attributed to him. On the other hand, it seems to me this would be his type of wry admonition to those who harbor the notion they are better than everyone else.

You cannot deny that many court judges around the country are rendering decisions that cast God from our lives, despite the undeniable fact that 235 years ago, a handful of dedicated men established a republic based upon Christianity.

Now this Christianity is not a specific faith, but an adherence to God’s basic tenets of brotherhood and love.

Our country once believed that. Honest.

For example, did you know if you stand in front of the U.S. Supreme Court building and look up at the gable of the structure, you will see a row of world’s law makers. Each one faces the one in the middle who is looking out over the country. That middle lawmaker is Moses, and he is holding the Ten Commandants.

Then as you enter the Supreme Court, the two massive oak doors have the Ten Commandments engraved on the lower portion of each door. Inside, above where the judges sit is another display of the Ten Commandments.

Just about anywhere you go in Washington, you’ll find buildings and monuments covered with verses from the Bible.

James Madison, the fourth president, “The Father of our Constitution” said, “We have staked the whole of all our political institutions upon the capacity of mankind for self-government, upon the capacity of each and all of us to govern ourselves, to control ourselves, to sustain ourselves according to the Ten Commandments of God.”

And of the fifty-five founders of the Constitution, fifty-two were members of established orthodox churches in the colonies.

Patrick Henry, a Founding Father, exclaimed, “It cannot be emphasized too strongly or too often that this great nation was founded not by religionists, but by Christians, not on religions, but on the Gospel of Jesus Christ.”

Something else you might not have known. Every session of Congress since 1777 has begun with a prayer by a paid preacher. Oh yes, and his salary has always been paid by the taxpayer.

John Jay, appointed the first Supreme Court Chief Justice in 1789, stated “Americans should select and prefer Christians as their rulers.”

We could go on and on here, but the shame of our present situation is that for over two hundred years, our country prospered as a Christian nation. Now in the last few decades, either our leaders’ spines have turned to jelly, or they’ve forgotten God, or they simply do not believe in God.

They think because they try to accommodate everyone’s wish, they are doing that which is right and moral.

I wouldn’t be surprised if ‘In God We Trust’ were taken off our coin and replaced with ‘Praise to Allah’ or ‘Viva Zapata’ or ‘Hot’cha Sweet Mama.’

That’s how ridiculous it has become.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

The Joy (and Torture) of Putting Words on Paper

Ask anyone who is a serious writer, and that individual will tell you that in many ways it is a very demanding and often lonely vocation or avocation.

I added avocation because one of the mantras writers’ groups try to impress on members is ‘don’t quit your day job.”

No question now that some writers’ rewards have been quite substantial, both fiction and non-fiction.

Many people want to write. That’s fine. A common remark among retirees is that “Yep. I’ll retire and write that book I’ve always thought about.” Nothing wrong with that. Nothing at all. More power to them.

That’s why for the last few years, I’ve taught fall and spring classes in Lamar’s Continuing Education. The writing program was put together by a writer friend of mine who lives over in Lake Charles. At first, I wasn’t too sure about conducting writing classes, but I decided to give it a shot.

Believe it or not, I have been known to make perhaps one or two smart decisions in my life. Marrying my wife was the smartest, and teaching the class wasn’t a bad one either.

You see, writing is sort of like boxing. When you’re in the ring, there is only one person to save your skin, you. Same with writing except the beatings you take from it don’t bruise your skin or black your eye, only your psyche. And believe me, psyches taken longer to heal than a black eye.

Training as a boxer is lonely and demanding. Writing is lonely and demanding. I doubt if there is a successful boxer or writer out there who won’t admit that more than once, he considered tossing the whole idea in the garbage.

But he didn’t. He hung there, clawing and scratching, fighting the odds, and finally won that first fight or published that first piece of writing.

It’d be nice if at that point, you could say, “Well, that’s it. I can sit back and enjoy what I’ve achieved.”

A boxer can’t; a writer can’t unless the book is a mega-hit like Margaret Mitchell’s “Gone with the Wind,” or Harper Lee’s “To Kill a Mockingbird.”

It all honesty, when my first western, “Panhandle Gold”, was published by Avalon in 1991, I secretly expected I might be able to retire.

What a joke!

Dumb me finally figured out that while there was a market for the type of western
and mysteries I wrote, the demand was not sufficient for me “to quit my day job.”
My westerns are historical, like those I enjoyed years ago. The mysteries are light whodunits, retro of the forties and fifties.

These are some of these ideas I try to pass on to my writing classes. In doing so, for six weeks twice a year, I have the privilege to talk and discuss writing with other writers.

I’ve kept up with some of the writers with whom I’ve helped with their craft. They come from every walk of life. One gentleman is in construction, and he recently placed in the top ten percent of the screenplay competition at the Austin Screenwriters Conference. He interviewed with several Hollywood producers. I haven’t had the chance to contact him, but he could have a contract by now.(hope he doesn’t forget me)

One very talented woman gave me the good news a few days ago her book was going to the publisher, while another, one of her critique partners, has completed her novel.

It is satisfying to know that I contributed a tad to some person’s success.

While some from the classes continue writing, sadly, many give up. And I can understand why. They write to be published, but after a numerous rejections, frustration, then aggravation sets in. Finally, they just throw up their hands and say the heck with it.

You’ve got to be bull-headed about it, convinced of your own capabilities, and the likelihood of success down the road.

A friend of mine, now deceased, Bill Johnstone, wrote for seven years without being published. “I got mad,” he said. “And swore I wouldn’t quit.” He didn’t, having published well over three hundred westerns, horrors, and action adventures.
All it took was guts.

If you’re interested in the writing schedule for this year, take a look at my blogspot or email me at rconwell@gt.rr.com or go to www.kentconwell.blogspot.com. Look for my August 21 blog.

Or call Rhonda at 880-2233.

Oh, yeah, my first class begins September 14.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

The Yellow Brick Road

I can make the following remark because I am neither Democrat or Republican.
“No one, not even those Republican-bashing Democrats way out in left field who support the present administration’s policies can deny our country is in debt, big debt.”

Nobody sneezes at thirteen plus trillion bucks in the hole.

So what is the Fed doing about it? In all their so-called wisdom, they are printing more money. They’re buying debt with debt, according to Bob Livingston. “It’s shuffling money piles around. It’s taking money from one pocket and putting it into another.”

Meanwhile, writes Laurence Kotlikoff of Bloomberg News, the International Monetary Fund declares the United States is essentially bankrupt.

Bankrupt!

I can remember back in the post war years reading how well the automobile factories up North paid. The amount was a few times the $3,900 I earned my first teaching year in 1959.

Don’t misunderstand. That’s no complaint. I could’ve moved north for one the jobs, but I opted to teach. So, I’m not complaining.

It is just that over the years, I noticed, as I’m sure you, the increasing number of imports, some good, some shabby, but all produced at a wage considerably less than what I made as a teacher. I don’t think it is a stretch to say that during any year in my career, if I’d had that income and lived in one of those countries, I would have been considered wealthy.

That’s when I began to wonder when the bubble would burst.

Now it has.

And our government isn’t really helping us in the long term by continually printing up money and handing it out.

On the one hand, I’m glad for those teachers and firemen and police the last bailout bill helped. But then, I resent it because the 39 billion is not paid for. It is just another chunk added to the debt.

The bill kicked unemployment up to 99 weeks, almost two years. If I were in the unemployed shoes, I’d be grateful for it, but what will help more than the benefits are jobs.

It is a Catch 22!

What is so disgusting is that there are businesses wanting to hire workers, but cannot find qualified employees.

According to the Personal Liberal Digest, Mechanical Devices, which supplies parts for heavy equipment manufacturers like Caterpillar, say they’ve been looking for $13 per hour machinists for months. If they could hire forty, the company’s sales would increase by as much a 20 percent.

Trips to job fairs have been almost fruitless, said Mark Sperry, co-owner of Mechanical Devices. Many of the applicants just go through the motions so they could continue to collect unemployment checks.

A 52 year-old mechanic in North Carolina told The Journal he had turned down more than a dozen offers in the 59 weeks he’s been unemployed because they didn’t pay more than the $450 a week he collects for unemployment.

This is happening all over the country, said Bob Livingston. People used to making fifty to sixty thousand a year are not willing to take a thirty thousand dollar a year job when they can sit home drawing $23,000 per year and do it for two years.

Jobs are out there. Maybe not the plush jobs, unless you’re a federal employee. Federal civil servants earned an average $123,000 per year in salary and benefits in 2009 compared to the private sector that made about $61,000.

The present administration, in an election year vote-buying scheme, prints more money, passes it along to certain states to save state jobs. I told you who received the money in those states, teachers, firefighters, and police, each with unions that were among Obama’s and the Demo’s biggest supporters. (no, Texas isn’t one of those states)

What the present administration is doing is creating an ever-growing dependency class of government workers and handout takers, all of whom just happen to be voters. And for whom do you think they’ll vote? Not George W!

Don’t anyone try to convince me we aren’t on the yellow brick road to socialism!

What else can you call it?

Tell you what. Read Ecclesiastes 10:2.

Think the Lord doesn’t know what He’s talking about?



rconwell@gt.rr.com
www.kentconwell.blogspot.com

Saturday, August 21, 2010

writing courses-

Writing the Novel

This course will provide a basic understanding of the craft and art of novel writing. By the end of the course, the student will have developed a premise, a beginning, end and the characters to fill the middle of the novel.
Date: 9/14 – 10/19 Days: Tuesdays Time: 6 – 8pm Tuition: $79
Instructor: Kent Conwell

Social Networking : Building an Audience
Learn how to establish an online social media platform for making connections in the publishing industry, promoting yourself as a writer, and promoting your work. Though this class is geared toward writers, the lessons apply to artists and small businesses alike.
Date: 8/24 - 9/28 Days: ONLINE Tuition: $79
Instructor: D.B. Grady

Write for Children and Tweens
The basics of writing for children. By the end of the course you'll be primed and pumped to find your niche in the children's writers' market.
Date: 10/4 – 11/8 Days: Mondays Time: 6 – 8pm Tuition: $79
Instructor: Wendy Lanier

Nonfiction Bootcamp – Get Published (The Basics)
This course covers the basics of nonfiction writing. Participants will learn by doing, and come away from this class with the fundamentals of being a freelance writer for magazines and newspapers. Date: 9/2 – 10/7
Days: Thursdays ONLINE Tuition: $79
Instructor: Jessica Ferguson

Fiction Writing to Sell – Part I
Designed to familiarize the student with the basics of all the elements from opening hook to resolution.
Date: 8/23 – 10/4 Days: Mondays Time: 6:30 – 8:30pm Tuition: $79

Fiction Writing to Sell – Part II
In part two, we are going to expand on those areas most critical to the writing success and get into those areas we didn’t have time to cover as thoroughly before—such as plotting, subplots, structuring for conflict, building tension, weaving in clues and red herrings, etc.
Date: 10/14 – 11/18 Days: Thursdays Time: 6:30 – 8:30pm Tuition: $79
Instructor: DJ Resnick


Contact Continuing Education for Registration:
409-880-2233 Continuing Education
409-880-1832 PO Box 10008
http://www.lamar.edu/ce Beaumont, TX 77710

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Ponzi Scheme Deluxe

Did you know that 142 million Americans paid absolutely no income tax this past year? That’s right. Forty-seven percent of all taxpayers ended up owing a big fat zero. Zero, as in nothing, zilch, goose egg, Sweet Fanny Adams.

How did they manage to pull off this miracle?

They did it because the tax codes and generous benefits Obama has provided the middle class and lower income citizens.

Now I took exception when I read the previous paragraph. Being retired, I consider myself a fairly middle class, not even upper middle, and yet I paid a few thousand in taxes this past year.

Be that as it may, it is obvious why the government is cutting lower income earners and hiking the upper earners. President Obama has made no bones about taxing the upper class until it hurts.

According to CNN, nonpaying status used to be a sign of poverty, but Congress and the president changed the laws enough that much of the middle class is becoming part of the pool of nonpayers.

Now the income level at which a family of four will owe no taxes tops $51,000. Oh, you’ll pay in during the year, but you’ll get it all back.

This isn’t just a tax matter. It is much larger. If you can’t see what’s happening, I’ll tell you. The present administration is using taxes as a social policy in an effort to draw more voters into their devious web of the socialized existence our leader envisions for us.

Now, hold on, don’t shout me down right now. Follow me here. Those who pay no taxes do get money back because of various credits. They look, according to CNN, not at April 15 as the dreaded tax day, but the payoff day. They have put nothing in the game, so they don’t give a hoot what the government does as long as it pays off.
What is the difference in that and various entitlements?

Now I’m not including S.S. because we pay into it. I’m talking about the social welfare that has become so monstrously inefficient and hopelessly bureaucratic that it wastes billions of dollars annually.

And where does that money come from? Not just the fifty-three percent like me who pay taxes.

You remember old Bernie Madoff and his unbelievable Ponzi scheme. He used money from clients to pay off other clients. Worked great until it blew up.

And the schemes always do!

The government is doing essentially the same thing.

The money it gets from its taxpayers obviously does not cover the expenses of running the country. That’s why we have a deficit.

To get the money to cover the deficit, the government sells Treasury Bonds that they pay for by simply printing up more money. If it weren’t so serious, I’d laugh at the idea of those presses up in Washington running day and night until the bearings burn out printed 696 million bucks a day.

Here it is very simply. Say they write a thousand dollar check, then next day print two thousand to cover it, then the next day three thousand, and so on and so on.
Right now, they’ve printed thirteen trillion plus with no collateral. According to Bob Livingston, right now debt is paying for debt.

If you aren’t worried by now, you should be.

Obama and his party are perpetuating this outrage. They’re counting on tax cuts for the lower incomes, amnesty for illegals, ignoring terrorists, and increased welfare to built a voting base for their agenda.

IBD quotes a poll that says 51 percent want the Bush tax cuts made permanent. Just 28 percent do not. Republicans by more than four to one and independents by two to one want them permanent. Democrats, by 40 to 38 percent, do not.

The president has his vacations, golf, dinners, concerts; his wife exotic vacations to Spain; Nancy Pelosi spends 600 thousand dollars a year just to fly back and forth from California to Washington.

And hey, the Republicans are just as uncaring.

We can solve the problem. All we have to do is watch those we put in. If they are not prudent with our money, then vote them out.

Sure, it’ll cause us a little extra work, but I’m not any too anxious to spend twenty bucks for a bottle of soda water, are you?

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Showdown at Juniper Pass

I wanted to let all my friends and readers know my fifth historical western published by Leisure Books will be out this month. It is the third Jake Slade novel.


When halfbreed Jake Slade and his Apache brother, Nana, ride into the High Lonesome to bury their brother, Paleto, they are sidetracked in the Sangre d' Cristo Mountains when a band of scavengers hurrah the town of Juniper Pass while waiting for a hundred thousand dollar gold shipment.

.

The fast paced story is filled with action that takes an unexpected twist at the end.


The novel is available at major book stores and online. As the previous two westerns, it will come out on Kindle also.


Avalon is publishing my net Tony Boudreaux mystery, Murder Among Friends, and I was fortunate enough to sign another contract with them for my next Avalon western, Retribution at Dead Apache Springs.


Good reading


The Other Four-Letter Word

The other four-letter word? Spin!

You know what Spin is. You relate facts in such a manner to make yourself look good.

I don’t know about you, but I’ll readily admit that Spin is the technique that keeps me wondering just exactly what is going on in this state of confusion surrounding us today.

Give some guy or gal ten, twenty, or more years in an elected office, and they automatically put a spin on everything that rolls off their lips. Those snake-oil-smooth guys could make the sinking of the Titanic appear the fault of the current sunspots bombarding us or the result of George Bush driving a tractor on his Crawford, Texas ranch.

Take a look at what happened a couple weeks back when the Labor Department made its July report.

A caveat here. You and I both know the economy isn’t leaping forward.(a common spin) ‘Slogging ahead like a slug with a broken leg’ would be a better description.
But, take a look at the spin the government puts on job creation.

‘Unemployment holds steady at 9.6 percent!’

What they do not say is that an additional 5.9 percent have given up looking for jobs. Isn’t that group still part of the unemployed? Washington obviously doesn’t want us to think so.

The reality? 16.5 percent unemployment and holding steady.
Why give only partial figures? Naturally, to look good.

This same report states a loss of 131,000 jobs and the creations of 73,000 during July. In his speech, the president only mentioned the 73,000. He ignores the 131,000 jobs lost. Major spin.

As I see Labor’s report, there was a total job loss in July of 58,000 jobs. Why can’t they explain it like that?

This is the kind of biased spin put on information spouted by politicians kissing up to their constituents for re-election.

And that is the reason so many fail to tell the entire truth. Re-election!
But what if that reason were removed? What if they knew their time in Washington was ‘but fleeting’?

Thomas Jefferson urged a limit on tenure to be included in the Constitution, “to prevent every danger which might arise to American freedom by continuing too long in office.” The article also stated ‘no person shall be capable of being a delegate(to the continental congress) for more than three years in any term of six years.”

Richard Henry Lee said that the absence of legal limits to tenure along with other features of the Constitution as ‘most highly and dangerously oligarchic’, a structure in which power rests with a small segment of society. . .royalty, wealth, family ties, or, heaven forbid, career politicians.

George Mason stated ‘nothing is so essential to the preservation of a Republic’, our type of government, ‘as a periodic rotation.”

Unfortunately, in the final ratification, the measure was not included in the Constitution. I don’t know who kept it out, but I have a feeling that if you did a genealogy tree on those long termers up in the Magic City, you’d probably find some of their ancestors played an instrumental part in deleting the recommendation.

Don’t think so?

Take a look at what’s happening now up in that over-the-rainbow World of Oz they call Washington DC. A couple long term politicians are under the gun, accused of ethics violations.

They are not by themselves. You don’t have enough fingers and toes to count all the politicians guilty of such a violation, and invariably, they had one thing in common, multiple terms.

Will term limits ever come about?

I doubt it.

Too many up there covet the largesse passed out by the oligarchic class the wields the power today.
But it is a darn good idea.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Zip Up Your Pocketbook

Sometime back, I did a column on the overwhelming plethora of taxes that will jump up and smack us right between the eyes come the first of this next year.

A portion of these taxes are cuts the previous administration had enacted and that our present administration refuses to renew. That means we pay more taxes. Pure and simple. Yet Obama promised time and again, no tax increase.

Given the all-people-being-equal-even-if-they-don’t-work obsession of the ruling party in Washington these days, even a dummy like me can understand why the cuts haven’t been renewed. By not renewing them, the government is forcing more of the middle class to assimilate with those who constantly seek entitlements. One way or another, Obama is going to make us all equal, except for him and his elite clique of untouchables.

The decision is simply another cog in the current socialist-inclined wheel making everyone equal, everyone except the ruling party and its pals.

Such idealistic pie-in-the-the-sky nonsense has been around since the beginning of time. This current version might have had its genesis years back up in Harvard when Obama and some his classmates sat around in their BMWs on the beach at Bar Harbor posturing idealistic philosophies and theories that would save the world. Each probably swore that one day, he would be the one to right all injustices, to make sure no one did without, and to save the American way of life—you know, like Superman.

The major fallacy in such a scenario begins with those who initiate it. I figure it unlikely any of those young prima donnas had any concept of the middle class life, a life, according to Henry David Thoreau, ‘of quiet desperation’, whose owners went ‘to the grave with the song still in them.”

Like most Utopian concepts, when romantic theory meets harsh reality, theory crumples under scrutiny.

Of course, all of you, especially those who jumped on the ‘change the world’ bandwagon Mister Obama was driving, remember how he time and again proclaimed anyone making less than $250,000.00 would not see a tax increase?

You want to know how many he lied to? He lied to every last one of us who pay taxes. That’s right.

Just for a beginning, if you pay taxes in the lowest bracket, yours will increase from 10 to 15 percent; the next bracket increases from 25 to 28 percent, and the old 28 percent bracket jumps up to 31 percent. For those of you on the higher end, 33 percent jumps to 36, and 35 percent up to 39.5 percent.

Those of you with over a million dollar estate and who want to leave it to your heirs, well, I hate say it, but you best go to the grave before 2011.

Why? Under the previous administration’s cuts, your estate tax would be zero, zilch. Next year, because the man who wants to save the nation insists, your taxes will be 55 percent. That’s right. At the stroke of midnight, December 31, you can raise a glass of champagne to celebrate a jump in taxes on your estate from zero dollars to 550 thousand dollars. That sure makes for a Happy New Year, huh?

That isn’t all.

Not only will the marriage penalty return (where a couple pays a higher tax on the same income than a single filer), but also deductions for youngsters will drop from one thousand to five hundred.

And capital gains taxes increase from 15 percent to 20. Dividend taxes jump from fifteen to 39.6, and both will increase in 2013 when the healthcare reform bill ads a 3.8 percent Medicare tax for those making $200,000 and joint filers $250,000.
According to the Congressional Budget Office, by Obama permitting the previous administration’s tax credits to expire will increase taxes $115 billion next year, and $2.6 trillion through 2020.

How is that for ‘no tax increase?’

That’s just the tip of the iceberg, folks.

Unless you’ve been in a cave the last year or so, you know the staggering debt the government has run up. We’ve got to stop this madness. I’m not talking party, but individuals who support such wasteful ideas. Starting in November, we have to throw those wastrels out and then keep a close eye on those we put in.


rconwell@gt.rr.com
www.kentconwell.blogspot.com