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Thursday, May 27, 2010

Power Corrupts

In a letter to Bishop Mandell Creighton in 1887, Lord Acton stated, “Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Great men are almost always bad men.”

Take a look at what we have in Washington today. Of course, Austin is no better, but luckily for us, the Texas legislature convenes only once every two years.

Pause and reflect. Think back to the number of legislators and congressmen who have had their hides nailed to the wall for almost every conceivable white-collar crime imaginable.

Just in our neck of the woods, I, as you, have witnessed many head to Washington for the first time, usually carrying all they owned in a four-year old Chevy. When they returned ten or twenty years later, they’re millionaires several times over.
Quite an achievement for the rank and file congressmen who makes $174,000 a year. Darned good budgeting, though given Washington’s spend-crazy attitudes, I don’t know where the newbies would learn to watch their money.

Who am I kidding? No one, that’s who. Most got their wealth with support from powerful individuals who expected a helping once the newbie congressman was able. Not all, but many.

Many of them served so many terms that they came to truly believe they deserved the seat—it was theirs and theirs alone. I witnessed one who lost after decades in congress explode in rage, spitting out the toxic suggestion that his constituents deserved the sorry candidate they got. Off camera, of course.

Most of those folks up there have honed corruption to a razor’s edge. They are so filled with their own self-importance that they believe they can do no wrong; that they know what is best for each of us; and that if we disagree, we are traitors and racists and bigots and even hate Mickey Mouse.

Look at how our president demeaned Arizona’s new law. I don’t know if it’s just me or not, but it seems he likes to throw his weight around. But he isn’t the only one up there throwing his weight around.

Up in Vermont in a pastoral setting of rolling hills covered with hay sits a two-story, red brick border crossing between the U.S. and Canada by the name of Morse’s Line. The crossing is about fifty miles southeast of Montreal on a lazy country road.
In this sleepy crossing, three cars an hour are considered heavy traffic. And most of them are visiting family. Said one of the retired custom guards, “We usually passed the day watching deer graze.”

And then the Department of Homeland Security, led by that All-Knowing Champion of Security, Clueless Janet Napolitano, decided to update the crossing. She also wanted several adjoining acres out of a dairy farm run by the Rainville family since 1946 that abutted the crossing.

Though the government had allocated 420 million for Homeland Security and planned to spend eight million plus upgrading the crossing, they only offered the Rainvilles $39,500.

The Rainvilles refused. Those acres brought in about a thousand bales of hay a year for the dairy herd of 150. At the current price of $3.25 a bale, after twelve years, the $3,250 would start coming out of their income.

Clueless Janet exercised her ‘power’ and told them either sell or the government will take it by eminent domain. (government talk for legal theft)

Now here’s what bothers me about the whole mess. First, why spend eight million upgrading such an out-of-the-way crossing? That is the epitome of government excess, spending just because they can, a behavior that is the reason the whole country is neck-deep in debt.

Second, why does Clueless Janet need several acres? What kind of crossing does she plan on building there in the middle of nowhere, a super Walmart?

And third, if they’ve allocated eight million to upgrade, how about buying the land at a fair or generous price instead of trying to steamroll the family into selling out? I’ll bet you if the Rainvilles were part of Napolitano’s family, they’d get a generous deal.

But then, the whole community jumped into the fray, and believe it or not, Clueless Janet started backing down. As of now, the whole thing is still up in the air.
Lord Acton was right, folks. Power corrupts.

It is time for us to send those jokers back to a regular job. If there is ever a
time to put in ‘term limits’, it could be with the fresh faces we vote in come November.

Pour C

In a letter to Bishop Mandell Creighton in 1887, Lord Acton stated, “Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Great men are almost always bad men.”
Take a look at what we have in Washington today. Of course, Austin is no better, but luckily for us, the Texas legislature convenes only once every two years.
Pause and reflect. Think back to the number of legislators and congressmen who have had their hides nailed to the wall for almost every conceivable white-collar crime imaginable.
Just in our neck of the woods, I, as you, have witnessed many head to Washington for the first time, usually carrying all they owned in a four-year old Chevy. When they returned ten or twenty years later, they’re millionaires several times over.
Quite an achievement for the rank and file congressmen who makes $174,000 a year. Darned good budgeting, though given Washington’s spend-crazy attitudes, I don’t know where the newbies would learn to watch their money.
Who am I kidding? No one, that’s who. Most got their wealth with support from powerful individuals who expected a helping once the newbie congressman was able. Not all, but many.
Many of them served so many terms that they came to truly believe they deserved the seat—it was theirs and theirs alone. I witnessed one who lost after decades in congress explode in rage, spitting out the toxic suggestion that his constituents deserved the sorry candidate they got. Off camera, of course.
Those folks up there have honed corruption to a razor’s edge. They are so filled with their own self-importance that they believe they can do no wrong; that they know what is best for each of us; and that if we disagree, we are traitors and racists and bigots and even hate Mickey Mouse.
Look at how our president demeaned Arizona’s new law. I don’t know if it’s just me or not, but it seems he likes to throw his weight around. But he isn’t the only one up there throwing his weight around.
Up in Vermont in a pastoral setting of rolling hills covered with hay sits a two-story, red brick border crossing between the U.S. and Canada by the name of Morse’s Line. The crossing is about fifty miles southeast of Montreal on a lazy country road.
In this sleepy crossing, three cars an hour are considered heavy traffic. And most of them are visiting family. Said one of the retired custom guards, “We usually passed the day watching deer graze.”
And then the Department of Homeland Security, led by that All-Knowing Champion of Security, Clueless Janet Napolitano, decided to update the crossing. She also wanted several adjoining acres out of a dairy farm run by the Rainville family since 1946 that abutted the crossing.
Though the government had allocated 420 million for Homeland Security and planned to spend eight million plus upgrading the crossing, they only offered the Rainvilles $39,500.
The Rainvilles refused. Those acres brought in about a thousand bales of hay a year for the dairy herd of 150. At the current price of $3.25 a bale, after twelve years, the $3,250 would start coming out of their income.
Clueless Janet exercised her ‘power’ and told them either sell or the government will take it by eminent domain. (government talk for legal theft)
Now here’s what bothers me about the whole mess. First, why spend eight million upgrading such an out-if-the-way crossing? That is the epitome of government excess, spending just because they can, a behavior that is the reason the whole country is neck-deep in debt.
Second, why does Clueless Janet need several acres? What kind of crossing does she plan on building there in the middle of nowhere, a super Walmart?
And third, if they’ve allocated eight million to upgrade, how about buying the land at a fair or generous price instead of trying to steamroll the family into selling out? I’ll bet you if the Rainvilles were part of Napolitano’s family, they’d get a generous deal.
But then, the whole community jumped into the fray, and believe it or not, Clueless Janet started backing down. As of now, the whole thing is still up in the air.
Lord Acton was right, folks. Power corrupts.
It is time for us to send those jokers back to a regular job. If there is ever a time to put in ‘term limits’, it could be with the fresh faces we vote in come November.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

To Spank or Not to Spank

A few days back, I read a column, The Liberal View, which submitted that spanking children should be out of style. At first, I figured the article would be one of those tongue-in-cheek pieces, but upon going deeper into the column, I discovered as usual, I was 180 degrees wrong.

The author was deadly serious, quoting survey results from the American Academy of Pediatrics. Now, I won’t sit here and dispute the results of the survey. I’m sure they were accurate when they said the response indicated that of the 2,500 mothers interviewed, .54 percent admitted they’d spanked their child once or twice within the past month.

Then the author fell back on the flawed old saw that ‘violence begets violence’. She implies if you spank a child, he becomes a little monster, a bully, aggressive. Naturally, he doesn’t morph into a dislikeable little savage overnight, but, according to her interpretation of the survey, he will eventually.

That’s BS piled higher than the Empire State Building, or whatever building is the tallest in the world. If spankings make kids bullies, I would have been the most aggressive bully in Texas. But you can ask anyone. I’m anything but a bully. I’m a great believer in ‘a soft answer turnth away wrath.’ (although today, a soft answer seems to invite it)

Now, the column used an anecdotal explanation that the writer’s grandfather, an immigrant (though I have no idea what that has to do with anything), used a cat-of-nine-tails on her father when he was a youth. Often her father said, he had no idea why he was being punished.(I don’t know what that has to do with anything either)
In addition, her father said that everyone (all immigrants, I guess) kept such a weapon in his home in that particular borough.

I admitted I was spanked—a bunch. If the American Academy of Pediatrics had interviewed my Dad, his response would have blown the survey off the charts. I was probably a two-a-week spankee—and those were the good weeks. But I can tell you this, I always knew why I was on the wrong end of the belt. There ain’t a kid alive who doesn’t know why he’s getting his tail spanked.

Oh yeah, I know, there are loonies out there. There are disgusting pieces of scum wearing human visages abusing kids. I’m not talking about them.

I’m talking about average moms and pops sincerely trying to rear their children, not the others. We can do very little with the slums and those sickos who shouldn’t have had children.

There’s spanking, and then there’s spanking. One has to know when and how and if the situation calls for it.

With forty-one years in our public schools, I, along with the other relics in my generation, have witnessed the decline of parental support for schools in respect to discipline and academics.

Once, troublemakers in schools were labeled as products of low income, single parent homes. I never believed that. I still don’t. There were as many problems with children from the more prosperous homes.

If that isn’t true, then why do even the more affluent school districts create their own police force or set up a working relationship with the local police?

My best friend, Bobby, and I were mischievous, but his Dad and mine kept us pretty much in line. When his little brother came along, his mom nagged his dad not to be as hard on him as he had been on Bobby. That kid got away with stuff for which our tails were blistered.

Bobby and I taught in the Fort Worth area in the sixties. I ran into him in Austin in the eighties at a conference. His forty-something brother had been married and divorced three times, was currently unemployed and living at home with the parents.

I know, I know. One example proves nothing.

Am I saying spanking solves everything? No way. Raising children is the hardest thing in the world, even worse than a root canal. Just find out what works for you and do that. Don’t let a new world liberal, or an old fogy like me, sway you.

One comment about the survey though. Forty-six percent, or 1150 Mothers didn’t touch the kid. What do you want to bet we have a lot more spoiled brats in that group than those who got their little tails spanked?

rconwell@gt.rr.com

www.kentconwell.blogspot.com

Thursday, May 13, 2010

When You're in a Hole, Stop Digging

I don’t know about you, but it seems to me there’s quite a bit of excitement going on around us today

A massive health bill will soon take over our lives; spilling oil is quickly filling up the Gulf of Mexico; a new Supreme Court nominee is in the news; and our neighbor, Arizona, appears to be teetering on the brink of revolution.

Oh, yeah, I forgot. A naturalized American citizen from Pakistan tried to detonate a
SUV full of explosives in Times Square. We were lucky as the dickens that he obviously had the IQ of a snail to bungle it as he did.

Despite the media stories catering to the administration, Iraq still looks bad to me, and Afghanistan is no better.

Any of us could talk for hours about the horrors and tragedies of earthquakes, volcanoes, mudslides, airline crashes, drug murders, and the plethora of angst with which we are hit everyday.

If we allow the tragedy to consume us, we’ll end up so depressed that we’ll play the ostrich and stick our heads in the sand or at least, stay in bed with the covers over our head.

When I get to that point, I take a deep breath, step back, and take a long look at really just how lucky I am despite a world gone bonkers.

I ask myself, just what can be done that isn’t already being done? Politicians control the laws; thousands of men and hundreds of ships are working feverishly to control the oil; Arizona will handle Arizona’s problems; aid is already assisting the victims of earthquakes, mudslides, and volcanoes; and professional lawmen are hard at work in the other areas.

About all I can really do is pray and send what donations I can. I think that’s about all anyone can do.

Everyone has his own opinions about the health bill, but, hey, that’s settled. It’s a law. There is a strong Latino outcry against Arizona. And it is easy to see why. Of course, Latinos are not the only illegals. There are folks here illegally from probably every country in the world, but right now, our neighbors to the south hold center stage because it is so simple to enter. Just crawl under the fence or ride the bus over.

As just about every American, I’m upset because our own government has crawfished on immigration control. I have no problem with immigration, but let’s do it by the book.

We’re a nation of immigrants. If you don’t think so, just ask the Native Americans (that’s politically correct language for Indians) from whom we stole the whole country in the beginning—from sea to shining sea we stole it.

You know, I would be willing to make all twenty million illegals legal today, at this very minute—IF a single one of you bleeding hearts can assure me that would not set off a flood of illegals from all four corners of our country.

You can’t. That cannot be done without securing borders. I mean, really securing them first. And you can’t prove that statement otherwise.

That being said, I can’t blame our Mexican neighbors for wanting to bail out of drug wars and find a better life for their families. And yes, there’s the rub. Why should those illegals be granted favors others of their own had to earn?

The answer is they should not.

Are we being insensitive to deport them back into harm’s way? Should we feel responsible for injury they might receive? Should we separate illegal parents from legal children or simply make the parents legal?

What about the fact illegals strain school budgets; swamp emergency rooms; and overburden social services? What about the fact you and I pay those expenses in our school, city, county, state, and federal taxes?

My only answer is to secure the borders. If you have a better answer, let’s have it. If you don’t, stop bellyaching.

Various sources put the number of illegals at 12-20 million. That’s 12-20 million who pay no tax other than perhaps a sales tax. They don’t work from January 1 to the middle of April just to pay all their taxes as you and I do. And in many instances, most of their wages go back to Mexico, not to local American businesses.

You’ve heard the old saying, when you find yourself in a deep hole, stop digging.

The only way we can stop the deep hole of illegals is to secure the borders like Arizona. Don’t count on Washington. They’re too busy playing their games up there.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Recollections About a Country Girl

Both my parents have passed on into a better world, Dad around twenty-five years back and Mom a little over eleven. She was eighty-six. Not a day passes that I don’t think about them. You’re probably the same. You know, a few seconds here, a few seconds there.

One fact I can promise you, the older you grow, the more you think of your folks.
Mom was a country girl, born in Montague County in North Texas near the Red River in 1913. One of eight children, four boys and four girls, she lived through the dust bowl and the depression. What little cash they made came from farming, which back then was hardscrabble tedium and exhausting labor from can’t see to can’t see.

Then one day, Papa Holly loaded the whole family on a train and headed west to Childress, Texas. There, he bought a wagon, piled kids and possessions in it, and trekked seventy miles north, settling beside Highway 83 five miles north of the Prairie Dog Fork of the Red River and five south of Wheeler, Texas.

Life wasn’t easy, but no longer were they forced to live the life so depressingly depicted in the classic movie, ‘Grapes of Wrath.’ The land was more fertile. That meant more crops to grow, and extra cash.

Back then, education wasn’t as important as getting the crops in, but Mom graduated, married Dad who lived in Wheeler, and set about making a life with each other.
Papa was always looking for a better farm, and one day he moved from Wheeler County to the South Plains north of Lubbock.

Once when I was about three, she wanted to visit her parents, but dad couldn’t take off work. We didn’t have a vehicle, so Mom and her younger sister, Mae, took me and hitched from Wheeler to Lubbock, over two hundred miles.

Years later when we moved to Fort Worth, Mom never hesitated to load us in the car and drive by herself three hundred miles back to Wheeler or out to Lubbock.

She was a doting mother, sometimes too much. Her sisters were the same way. I’ve often wondered if it were because they had four brothers. Luckily for them, I guess, most of their children were boys. I was twelve before my first, and only, female cousin came along.

Mom was independent and self-sufficient. When Dad went overseas in WWII, she took care of my brother and me, ran the house, planted the fields, harvested, and then marketed the crops.

As the years passed, she held down different jobs, but none that would not permit her to take off and see about her family. She took in dry cleaning, rented out part of the old house, and finally became a realtor, a job that fit her like a fine glove.
And she was superb at the job, mainly because she was honest, caring, and willing to work her tail off.

Always in the back of her head, she was doing it for her sons,
and as so many sons, we were never as appreciative as we should have been. Only years later after we’d grown up and got some sense, did we understand.

When I apologized to her for those years, she did what ninety-five percent of mothers do, what my wife would do with our daughters, she laughed and said she always knew how I felt. That’s how mothers are.

She was a dedicated Christian and churchgoer all of her life, and she did all she could to put her sons’ feet on that path.

Dad’s death staggered her, but like the hard-headed dirt farmer she had once been, she kept the house in Fort Worth, helped raise grandkids and great grandkids. In her later years, she once told me that looking after her great grandson had added years to her life. She was still driving in her mid-eighties.

It might sound hokey or corny, but when I think about her love for her boys and the love my wife has for our daughters, I can’t help believing it is so very much like the love God has for all of us. It’s as pure a love as a mortal can give.

To all you Moms out there, thanks for everything.