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Wednesday, December 28, 2011

An Epic Snowball Battle

Happy New Year!

Here we are once again, staring at the one-time-a-year opportunity for another ‘do over’ or to use a golfers’ favorite word, a ‘mulligan.’

Even way back in Mesopotamia two thousand years ago, folks like you and me celebrated the chance to make amends for past behavior with new resolutions.(their new year wasn’t our new year, but that’s another story)

Down through the centuries, many life-altering events have occurred on January one. In 1660, Samuel Pepys made his first entry in his famed diary. Another was that in 1897, Brooklyn merged with New York to form the city, New York, and the next year, the Lightship replaced the Whistling Buoy on San Francisco Bay.

Earth-shaking events all, however, they all pale in comparison to that the momentous event that took place on the outskirts of Wheeler, Texas on January 1, 1944.

The Great Snowball Battle for Chapman’s Lake!

There had been several heavy snowfalls that year and ongoing snowball battles were common around our small town. Sneak attacks raged across the courthouse square, on the sidewalks, around the corners of the five and dime.

East of town, Chapman’s Dairy overlooked a ten-acre lake. To us boys, however, it was the Pacific Ocean. The pasture rose gently from the water’s shores to the milking barn about a quarter of a mile distant—a perfect sled run.

Now, Mister Chapman never minded us wild-haired boys traipsing across this pastures as long as we didn’t disturb his milk cows. We always gave the herd a wide birth, one of the no small reasons being there were three or four bovines with short tempers. One was especially temperamental. For some reason, her horns had grown down instead of up, and had to be cut to stay out of her eyes.

We called her ‘Crosseye” as well as a few other names when she chased us.

When the snowfall was extra heavy, the cows seldom strayed down to the pastures. Cows don’t paw at snow to remove it from forage like a horse. They push the snow aside with their noses, and if the snow is extra heavy or icy, their noses become tender and the dumbbells just stand there and starve.

Consequently, ranchers and farmers put out feed around the barn in covered troughs if possible.

That meant we usually had the whole snow-covered pasture to ourselves.

That year after Christmas, Jerry, Tony, Donald, and I were building a snow house when several older kids from the other side of town (six blocks away) showed up to challenge us to a snowball fight at Chapman’s Lake where they had built a fort.

We readily accepted the challenge and agreed to the winner-take-all-prize, next Saturday’s popcorn money, a whole nickel. All we had to do was take their flag down from the fort.

Nothing to it. Or so we thought.

When we arrived, we spotted a red flag waving over the small fort. One of the kids had cut it from his Pa’s discarded longjohns. They said it meant ‘no quarter’. That made no sense to me, but a flag was flag.

Leaving our sleds at the top of the hill, the four of us attacked the fort, but were quickly beaten back. Our leader, Jerry, decided we would attack with our tanks, meaning sleds.

We’d fly past the fort, loose a few snowballs, regroup for another pass. His plan sounded good in theory, but we soon discovered it was full of holes. Sitting on a whizzing sled and throwing snowballs called for a delicate balance none of us had mastered.

I fell off more than I rode; Tony crashed into the fort; Donald caromed off one side of the fort into the lake. Jerry was the only one who managed to ride and throw at the same time.

The battle surged back and forth. Each surge took us closer to the flag. Snowballs zipped through air. I guess all the whooping and hollering reached the herd of milk cows.

That’s the only explanation I have for the garbled bellow that rolled down the hill, jerking all of us around. Our eyes bugged out like stepped-on toad frogs when we spotted Crosseye shaking her head back and forth and charging down the hill in a bovine’s stumbling lope.

Pelting her with snowballs, wee took refuge behind what was left of the fort, but she didn’t hesitate. She went over the top, scattering us and taking down the flag.

When the last piece of snow had settled to the ground, Crosseye stood there in triumph, glaring at eight kids sprinting across the pasture in every direction like frightened prairie hens.

They claimed they won because we didn’t get their flag. We claimed Crosseye was our secret agent and since she took down the flag, we won.

They wouldn’t buy that. In the end, we decided upon another battle at another time, but it never came about.

Crosseye?

Well, we moved to Fort Worth five years later. She was still in the herd and still as ornery as ever.









rconwell@gt.rr.com

http://www.kentconwell.blogspot.com/

www.goodreads.com/author/show/13557.Kent_Conwell

www.amazon.com/-/e/B001JPCK26

www.kentconwell.blogspot.com

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Christmas Magic

If you’ve been out and around much at all the last few weeks, you’ve noticed it. It puts a smile on your face, a lilt in your voice, and a bounce to your step. It usually appears around Thanksgiving and unfortunately, lingers only a few weeks.

It is as warm as the smiling sun overhead, as solid as the ground at our feet, and as satisfying as a warm fire on a frigid night.

I call it the Christmas Magic.



Okay, so that’s corny, as in lame, but you can’t deny that in the last few weeks, most folks seem to be just a tad bit more jolly, a tiny bit more patient, and a teeny bit more cheerful.



That magic is intangible, beyond one’s touch, but, mysteriously, still as palpable as Aunt May’s homemade rum and bourbon fruitcake.

Caught up in the joyful ambiance of Christmas, I, as many, wish that intangible wisp of enchantment could last year around.

The pragmatic side of our psyches insist it’s only natural that after the first of the year to wake up with the disturbing feeling that something is missing. And no, I’m not talking about the hole in our bank accounts.



We’ve just spent days and weeks in anticipation of Christmas Day and then New Years. And because we were so anticipating the gaiety and cheerfulness of the holidays, once they are behind us, there comes a natural let down.



But there is no reason for that Christmas magic that fills the Season of Giving to fade away just because the calendar changes.

As I crept up the ladder of age, I came to realize why my father and mother always replied ‘I don’t need a thing,’ when asked what they wanted for Christmas.



Sound familiar.



At my age, I don’t need anything thing. I get a kick out of seeing the delight sparkle in the eyes of those to whom I’ve given what I could afford.



If you’ll look around, you’ll see that despite the problems we face, usually our blessings outweigh them. Might not seem like it at the moment, but Santa Claus is with us year around, or can be if we make the effort.



Don’t think so?



Recently, I read a delightful article in Newsweek Online of a mother’s concern that her seven-year-old would learn there was no Santa Claus.



Over the years, being the loving parent she obviously is, she had enhanced the magic of Christmas for her son by encouraging him to help with the decorations, add to the crèche, bake cookies, and yes, even spread reindeer food in the snow to light the way for Santa.

Can’t you just imagine the excitement coursing through that little guy’s veins? At the end of the article, she expressed relief that he had managed this Christmas still believing in old Saint Nick, but she had the feeling that sometime before next year, he would learn the truth.



She ended the article with the observation that despite what he might learn, as long as he believes, he will enjoy that special magic year around.



Perhaps that is where so many of us go wrong. Somewhere along the way we stop believing in Santa Claus just because those beliefs fly in the face of logic. I have a couple good friends who have reached the four score and ten mark who believe in Santa Claus, and I kid you not, nowhere will you find a couple jollier or more cheerful gentlemen. They brim with the anticipation of life and the excitement of each passing day.



F.P. Church said it much better than I in his response to Virginia O’Hanlon when she queried the New York Sun on the existence of Santa Claus. ‘Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus. He exists as certainly as love and generosity and devotion exist, and you know that they abound and give to your life its highest beauty and joy.”



There was not a soul in the world who could say that Santa did not exist if they witnessed the sparkle in the eyes and the broad grin on the faces of my two youngest grandsons, Keegan and Mikey, as they hop on their scooters or fire up their space rockets on Christmas morning.



That same excitement is no different in homes around the world. It’s just that during the Christmas holidays the love for one’s fellow man is even more pronounced.



But if you look, if you pay attention, you’ll see proof of Santa’s existence throughout the year. Perhaps it isn’t as noticeable among the stories of mayhem and murder, but it exists.



You’ll never convince that single mother there’s no Santa Claus after her son was given a new wheelchair by the Shriner’s to replace his dilapidated one. And what about the little girl who won a raffle at school and put aside her own wish for a beautiful little doll so she could instead select a hand-sewn blanket she knew her invalid mother admired?



No Santa Claus?



In Minneapolis, a parent was hit with unexpected car repair bills just before the holidays, wiping out the family’s Christmas budget. When she went to pick up the vehicle, a stranger had paid the bill. You think that family doubts the existence of Santa Claus?

And who is it that drops a $1700. gold Kruggerrand in the Salvation Army’s pot every year? Who is it paying off Wal Mart and K Mart layaways around the country?



No one can tell me that the spirit of Christmas is not alive throughout the year. It’s just that in the midst of our hustle and bustle, it sometimes takes a back seat, but it is always there, waiting to be dusted off.



As long as the human heart is filled with understanding and compassion, there will always be a Santa Claus, three hundred and sixty-five days a year.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Christmas on the Farm

If you’ve ever passed through or spent time up in the Texas Panhandle during the winter, you know just how cold the weather can be.

The eastern Panhandle is rolling sand hills; the west is prairie land flat as a wet leaf. And I’m here to tell you that neither conformation does in now way inhibit the wind howling down from Santa Claus at the North Pole.

Of course, we kids always looked forward to the first snow, but the initial thrill quickly wore off. Slugging through ankle deep mud to feed the animals and milk the cows has a way of throwing and ice-covered blanket over any degree of excitement.

Growing up, we lived next door to my aunt and her husband. He had a couple cows. He milked them in the morning, and with Dad overseas, my job was to milk them in the evening. It was a tedious enough task when the weather was nice, but during the winter, the snow and rain and mud put a quick end to a fifth grade boy’s delight over a fresh snowfall.

I was never one to complain when one of the cows started drying up. Now, I don’t remember actually muttering the words, but I probably added a footnote to my prayers at night to assist the old cows in drying up.

Even spraying cats with warm milk couldn’t detract from the cold slithering up my coat or pant legs as I squatted at the old bovine’s side.

About the only thing colder than milking cows in the middle of the winter was utilizing the two-holer out back. That’s a cold beyond description. Even the spiders and snakes left.

Fortunately, baths were taken in a washtub in the kitchen in front of the stove with the oven door open and the burners going full blast.

Come February or March, I was ready for Mister Winter to move on back north.

Luckily for us, our relationship with the two-holer only lasted during of the war for upon Dad’s return, he built us a house with all the facilities a couple lots over.

Usually, we spent Christmas on my maternal grandparents’ farm out by Lubbock. That part of Texas was sometimes given the moniker ‘Great Plains’ or ‘Staked Plains’, because it was so flat.

Those Christmases have always held a special spot in my memory. We’d spend a week or so at Mama’s for Mom’s family was fairly large, three sisters and four brothers. Not all could make it the same time, instead trickling in over a few days.

You get eight couples and their kids together, and very soon bodies are poking out every window of a three-room clapboard house.

We usually made the trip with my aunt and her husband. Both self-employed, they could take off when they wanted. Dad always had to work, so he’d drive on out the night before Christmas Eve

Since the adults took up most of the space inside, we boys played outside despite the cold. From time to time, we’d scoot inside to warm up and dry out.

Naturally fireworks, then as now, were part of the Christmas celebration, and we cousins would save up for an ample supply. Now, firecrackers on a farm were a big no-no because of the animals, so we had to wander off down to the local creek some half-mile away to set them off.

Roman candles were another matter for they weren’t as noisy as a string of Black Cats. Other than a hissing whoosh and a low decibel pop, the Roman candle served as an ideal weapon when we waged battle with each other.

Now, cousins in our family were sort of stratified, I suppose you could say. Each strata was about four or five years older than the next group, which meant the younger ones were prime objects for unabashed bullying.

The one who gave Ed and me the most trouble was Dooley. His name was Henry, Henry Shoop, but he had been stuck with the nickname Dooley as long as I could remember.

Anyway, one winter, Dooley cornered me and Ed out in the barn, which was a cavernous structure with a dozen or more stalls, two or three lofts, and no telling how many tack rooms and feed rooms.

And oh yes, in the winter, the floor turned to squishy mud from not only the weather but the afterthoughts of the bovines loitering about out of the frigid cold.

That day, Dooley was chasing us with a shovel full of afterthoughts he had scooped up with the intent of dumping it on us.

Even though he was five years our senior, the cumbersome load plus the slippery footing sent him sliding into a pile of afterthoughts himself.

That gave us time to scamper across the farmyard to the well house where we’d cached our supply of fireworks in a milk can.

Just as we pulled out our Roman candles, Dooley yanked the door open. Before he could move, we touched matches to the candles.

He stumbled back, fell over his own feet, then jumped up, but not before we sizzled his rear end with a couple balls. Laughing like lunatics, we chased him all the way to the house.

Retribution?

You bet. He finally caught us without our equalizers, carrying out his initial intent, to toss us in the afterthoughts.

The women made us strip down to our longjohns on the porch in the cold so we wouldn’t smell up the house. I swore to get even with Dooley, even though I knew I would pay for any revenge.

That night, Dad handed me the answer. He had to go back to Wheeler and I was to go with him. We’d leave early, before everyone got up. Mom and my brother would come the next day.

That night while Dooley slept on the pallet next to mine, I dumped a cup of afterthoughts in his boot.

Sometime later, Dad awakened me, and we left. I giggled all the way home.

According to Mom, Dooley pulled his boot on, then jerked his foot out and tracked the stuff all over the house before the women ran him outside.

I pleaded innocent. Mom and Dad knew I was lying, but when I saw them grin at each other, I realized they knew the truth. I kept expecting some kind of punishment, but it never came.

Until that summer. That’s when I ran into Dooley once again.













rconwell@gt.rr.com

http://www.kentconwell.blogspot.com/

www.goodreads.com/author/show/13557.Kent_Conwell

www.amazon.com/-/e/B001JPCK26







www.kentconwell.blogspot.com

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Panhandle Winters

Last few days, we’ve had some nippy weather, at least to my way of thinking. Now, I know if you’re from Minnesota, North Dakota, or any of the northern most states, these past few days were probably short sleeve and flip-flop weather.

When I came down the gulf coast forty years ago, it would have been short sleeve for me also. Weather is quite a bit nippier up in Fort Worth, and a heck of a lot colder up in the Texas Panhandle.

How well I remember those Panhandle winters. And how glad I am they’re just memories.

Seems like beginning in October and lasting through March or April, it was bitter cold with the wind howling and blowing snow or rain or both with chunks of ice tossed in just to keep you on your toes.

In our little town, only the courthouse square and the two main highways crossing at one corner of the square were paved. All the other streets were dirt, which mean come the first really wet weather, Mister Mud showed up, gouging ruts in the road almost a foot deep.

One good thing about the ruts was that they kept you from slipping and sliding off the road. The bad thing about them was it was next to impossible to pull out of them to get into your driveway.

For us youngsters who walked everywhere, the water-filled ruts were a no win situation. If you waded them, water poured down your galoshes. If you jumped them, you buried up to your knees in mud.

And speaking of galoshes, which are rubber boots over shoes, they were an exercise in futility for seldom a day passed that we didn’t inadvertently yank a stocking foot from both shoe and boot and plant it squarely in the mud.

That was sure a sloppy mess to cram back into your shoe, but you had no choice. Even I wasn’t dumb enough to run around barefoot.

Early in the year, like idiots, all we school kids looked forward to the first snow, watching it stick against the school windows and slowly cover the ground.

Sometimes if it appeared to be thickening, the school sent the buses home earlier for the majority of the routes were over—you guessed it, dirt roads.

The rest of us, the walkers, were usually released some minutes later, and we tore screaming and shouting into the falling snow like wild heathens.

Sometimes, if the show was really heavy, I went over to Mama and Papa Conwell just across the street. Papa would take me home. Other times, a handful of us boys would carry on a running snowball fight the whole mile back to our neighborhood.

Like all kids, we build snowmen, forts, and stockpiled snowballs.

Such battles were common at recess in our small school, which sat next door to the high school. Usually sixth graders and we fifth graders stayed away from the high school crowd.

One particular day, however, the opportunity for sweet revenge came my way.

The high school boys were locked in a snowball battle with the school superintendent, who had paddled me once or twice (with more delight than I figured he should gain from administering my punishment). I was far off to one side, but I hatched a devious little plan to get back at him. I put together a solid snowball and sneaked around behind him. He was so occupied with the high school boys, he never saw me.

Stealthily, I crept closer and closer. Finally, all I could see was his broad back. Now I had him. I savored my revenge! I drew back, and at that moment, he jumped aside, dodging a well-thrown snowball.

Guess who didn’t dodge?

It caught me right between the eyes.

I bawled and squalled. He laughed and led me to his office where he turned be over to his secretary who dried my tears.

When the kids in my class heard about my misfortune, they laughed. It went on for a week. That was how long it took my black eye to finally go away.

Often we had snow on the ground for several days.

To be honest, snowball fights are entertaining for just so long, and after a few days, boredom takes over.

One winter, Jerry, Donald, and I set out to build us a small cabin where we boys could gather and while away the days.

Finding no material for a cabin, we decided to build it out of the bales of hay my uncle had under tarp. Don’t laugh. A small cave under a stay of hay can be pretty snug especially if you build a small fire for warmth like we did.

What we didn’t realize was—well, that’s another long story, better saved until we have more space.









rconwell@gt.rr.com

http://www.kentconwell.blogspot.com/

www.goodreads.com/author/show/13557.Kent_Conwell

www.amazon.com/-/e/B001JPCK26
www.kentconwell.blogspot.com

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

December 7, 1941

When I was five years old, I sat in the darkened theater in our little town watching a two-year-old film.

The theater, or picture shows as they were called back then in Neolithic times, was named ‘The Rogue’. The movie was ‘Wizard of Oz’, and the day was Sunday.

Dad was treating Mom and me to the town’s Sunday afternoon matinee, which always began at one pm, ran only one time, and then shut down for the day. Each Sunday film was shown again Monday night. Tuesdays, best I can remember, The Rogue was closed only to be open the rest of the week.

Dad wasn’t a movie-goer. In fact, not too many grownups back then were. Still the Guthrie family had enough business to keep the picture show in the black.

That was back in the country’s period of innocence. Our little town was so out of the way that delivery of new films was made at night and left at the front door of the movie house. Films to be returned were left at the same spot.

Try to imagine if you will the fate of films left in such a manner today? Probably before the delivery truck turned the first corner, the film would be in somebody’s car and heading for the pawn shop.

But, enough editorializing. Back to the movie.

That Sunday was a treat—while it lasted.

While the film enthralled me, what I remember most that day was the film stopping; the overhead lights suddenly flashing on; Mister Guthrie hurrying down one aisle and climbing up on the stage.

Holding up his hands to quiet the muttering of the audience, he told us the radio had just reported that the Japanese had bombed Pearl Harbor.

Now to a five-year-old boy disappointed that the Munchkins had been turned off, that meant nothing. I didn’t have the slightest idea what a Pearl Harbor was. When I heard my Dad muyter a curse and Mom ask him what it meant, I knew something was wrong. It had to be something seriously wrong to shut down ‘The Wizard of Oz’.

At home, the family gathered, grandparents, uncles, aunts, cousins- all in front of the radio desperately seeking more news.

As the tragic figures grew, so did the family’s anger and resolve. Now, we had a vague idea there were problems with Japan. For months, the news carried bits and pieces concerning the rocky relationship between the U.S. and Japan.

But up there in the middle of nowhere called the Panhandle with only a couple ‘bobbed’ wire fences between us and the North Pole, the news meant little.

But as details trickled in, the words took on new meanings, and the anger and resolve grew in my family, as it did in millions of families across the country.

The surprise attack hit at 7:53 Sunday morning. The first wave damaged eight battleships, sinking five. Three light cruisers, three destroyers, and smaller vessels were lost along wit 188 aircraft. Fortunately, the main targets, the aircraft carriers, were not in harbor.

Casualties? 2,117 servicemen, 68 civilians, and over a thousand crewmen on the USS Arizona were killed plus 1,760 were wounded.

Sunday night, Japan attacked Hong Kong; Guam; Philippine Islands; and Wake Island. Monday morning, they hit Midway Island.

On Monday, December 8, President Roosevelt spoke to Congress, asking it for a declaration of war against Japan. He called the previous day ‘a date which will live in infamy.’

Congress did as he asked, and immediately infuriated Americans clamored to enlist.

I didn’t really understand what was going on, but I knew things were changing about me. And change it did. In its outrage, our country turned its bucolic existence into an all-consuming rage at its attackers.

A quote attributed incorrectly to Admiral Yamamoto, mastermind of the attack, states ‘I fear all we have done is awaken a sleeping tiger.’

That’s a movie quote, not his, but it proved apropos.

The Greatest Generation, outraged at such treachery, responded with fervor never before nor since witnessed in the history of the world. All the men in my family volunteered. I had cousins in the Air Corp, uncles in the Navy and Army, and my father in the Navy. Fortunately they all returned.

A few years later in Korea, my cousin, Dooley, was lost, Missing in Action. As of November 30, 2011, he is still missing. His DNA is on record, our one hope someday he’ll be back.

Of the 16 million plus Americans serving in WWII, over four hundred and five thousand died. You and I are here today courtesy of that generation and their supreme sacrifices. We dishonor their sacrifices if we do not keep America great.















rconwell@gt.rr.com

http://www.kentconwell.blogspot.com/

www.goodreads.com/author/show/13557.Kent_Conwell

www.amazon.com/-/e/B001JPCK26

www.kentconwell.blogspot.com

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

A Feeding Frenzy

You’ve seen videos of sharks in a feeding frenzy, ripping chunks from the prey, tearing at each other, filling the water with blood and slivers of raw meat.

That’s what the media appears to be doing today to the GOP candidates under the guise of impartial reporting. Maybe their onslaught is deserved. Maybe it isn’t.

What's the sense eviscerating a candidate when our primary concern should be to show our sitting president the road out of Washington and back to his daytime job as community organizer.

Case in point, old Herman Cain. That guy has been the center of the cold-eyed media’s frenzy for weeks now. They’ve torn him to pieces.

I’ll bet he’s glad Jerry Sandusky and Penn State came along to take over the headlines. Between that guy and the over-the-hill hippies at the protests, perhaps Cain can find a tad of respite from the heated accusations and innuendoes directed at him.

But in all fairness, you know as well as I, such recrimination, whether deserved or not, was due old Herman since he had the unmitigated audacity to surge to the top tier of GOP candidates.

The media reminds me of some of the wacky (read dangerous) deer hunters I’ve had the misfortune to run into over the last forty or fifty years.

Those are the crazies so anxious to take a deer that they shoot when a leaf moves, figuring they’d spotted a ten-point buck when in reality, all they manage is to put a hole through a maple leaf. But, they sure killed that sucker dead.

Seems like as if by magic, a bullseye morphs onto the chest of any GOP candidate who rises to the top, and the media takes aim, dreaming of Boone and Crockett headlines.

Now, I’m not defending Cain. Maybe he did, and maybe he didn’t. I have the same reservations as any of you who struggle to keep an open mind. We need to know all about our candidates, warts and all-within the bounds of credibility.

Accusers have stepped forward, then fallen back. Makes me wonder. Is it all a ploy paid by liberals or even opposing conservatives to demean and disgrace the man? Or is it the truth?

Such is difficult to define since the majority of the media has been in Obama’s back pocket since the campaign in 2008. Anyone who opposes him is fair game.

I’ll be the first to admit, some of the poor jokers on the receiving end of the media’s Spanish Inquisition deserve much of what they get, but I have yet to see the mainstream media nitpick at the current president the way they scrutinize every thread in the fabric of his opposition’s life.

Take Michele Bachmann. A good person, she is very sincere in wanting to put America on the right track, but she made too many blunders early on when she was in the top tier of candidates. Some were outrageous, such as implying the ‘shot heard around the world’ was fired in New Hampshire’ when it was in Massachusetts. Or her assertion that Perry’s HPV vaccinations caused mental retardation.’

What do you want to bet if Obama had made those remarks, we’d never heard of them? The media doesn’t appear to be taking him to task today for the politics he’s playing with the Keystone pipeline, dragging his feet until next year’s election, then approving it.

And then along came Perry, who rocketed to the top of the candidate list and back to the bottom just as fast. Why? The media honed in on him, his hunting club with the derogatory name; his loss of memory; his deplorable debating skills; even his twang.

In his favor, he didn’t name the lease; everyone is forgetful at the wrong time; great orators are not automatically good presidents; and what’s wrong with a twang?

The result of the media’s obsession with Perry? Old Rick tumbled down the hill right behind Jill—oops, I mean, Michele, and then along came Herman, self-made, Washington outsider with plain and simple ideas at which the media scoffed.

Can’t you imagine just how frantically the media struggled to dig up bad press? And they found it in the sexual harassment business, a sordid business to which they clung like cur dogs on a gut wagon.

Cain didn’t help himself during a couple interviews when he had to pause to put together a response. That was all it took to bloody the waters, and here came the sharks, gaudy headlines glistening off their curved teeth.

I think there might have been a few shreds of old Herman left to sink to the bottom. I’m not sure, for the predators did a pretty thorough job on him.

Then came Newt, who early on had been pilloried, but survived. When Cain tumbled, Gingrich hit the top tier. Now, they’re after him like fresh chum tossed in the water because he worked as a consultant for Freddie Mac to the tune of $1.5 million over seven or eight years. What is that, $200 thousand a year? Less than half of what Joe Paterno made at Penn State.

Now I don’t know about you, but I can understand many of these candidates messing up from time to time, and okay, the media takes them to task. That’s their job. Can you tell me Obama hasn’t messed up? What do we hear? Nothing!

But sometimes, the media, in their quest for blood, overreach. Bachmann made a remark that as a youth in 1961, her parents paid five bucks for a doctor’s visit. The media pounced on it, pointing out that 1961’s five bucks was $37.94 today.

So what? She was trying to make a point, although she was somewhat clumsy about it.

They jump Perry about a hunting lease with a derogatory name over which his father had painted. And they assume Perry is racially biased because of that?

And why did Cain’s accusers wait so long? As far as I know, only two identified themselves. I suggested it before, but paid hecklers and informers is nothing new in the political jungle surrounding us.

Even Romney has had his share of bad press regarding his flip-flopping and healthcare, and the president, with the media’s blessing, goes tiptoeing around the world without a care to his name.

You think the battlefield is bloody now, wait until the presidential campaign begins. You’ll see Chicago politics at its gaudiest.



rconwell@gt.rr.com

http://www.kentconwell.blogspot.com/

www.goodreads.com/author/show/13557.Kent_Conwell

www.amazon.com/-/e/B001JPCK26

www.kentconwell.blogspot.com

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

The Thanksgiving I Became a Man

Despite my age, I still look forward to Thanksgiving and Christmas just as much as I did when I was a youngster up in the Texas Panhandle, but for different reasons.

As I youth, three-quarters of my anticipation was getting together with cousins. The other 25% was the piles of food.

Today as an age-challenged individual, I count myself blessed to be able to look forward to the warm gathering of family and friends.

No question, Thanksgiving has changed over the years.

While turkey has always been associated with the holiday, as a youngster, our main fare was chicken, and usually it was fried, but we sure didn’t argue the point.

Today after a good meal, we settle back for a football game.

Sixty-five years ago, instead of after dinner TV (there was no TV), grownups gathered around a small space heater and brought the whole family up to date on their lives for the past few months. Outside, we boys ran wild.

Like most old codgers, I’ve romanticized those days. So what? We all pick the most pleasant days from the past to remember. that's how most of us make it from day to day.

As I think back to those days, the delightful aroma of dinner on the oversized stove seemed more palpable than what comes packaged from today's vendor; the friendly joshing and laughter merrier than the inane rattling from broadcasters and color men; the days brighter, and everyones' enjoyment more fulfilled.

Usually, we spent Thanksgiving at my maternal grandmother’s. They lived about forty-five minutes north of Lubbock, right smack dab in the middle of what is called the Llano Estacada or Staked Plains.

The story goes that the early Spanish explorers used stakes to mark their path back to their camp since there were no trees nor shrubs nor hills nor prairie dog holes to serve as landmarks. The country then, as today, is as flat as a wet saddleblanket.

The drive from our home in the Panhandle was only about two hundred and fifty miles, but it usually took us around six hours in the old pre-war vehicles. Even the post-war autos took five or so hours.

That time of year, the weather was chilly—well, not chilly, but cold.

Mama’s house had four and a half rooms. the pot-bellied stove in the living room and the stove in the kitchen kept the two rooms warm. The two bedrooms were like ice as was the bathroom out on the closed-in back porch. I tell you, there was no piddling around when you had to use the facilities.

One Thanksgiving that I remember so clearly was the year I shifted from boyhood to manhood, at least in my mind. It was around 1944. I was eight.

My Aunt Mae drove into our home at Wheeler with her husband, a bull of a man named Millard Coate. He was big and rough and his favorite curse was ‘son-of-a-buck.’ He was as amiable and friendly as he was rugged, and I instantly idolized him.

Most men in my family with the exception of Uncle Henry were only around 5’9”. Millard, or M.O. as he preferred for Millard Ore, stood well over six feet.

He drove a Studebaker bobtail with a arched plywood top over the bed. He had constructed it with twelve-inch sides so it would slip down over the sideboards and tailgate like a hat. He planned on taking the truck on to Lubbock for a job after Thanksgiving.

Since Mae had not seen her sisters, Mom or Elva, for several months, nothing would do but the three ride together and do what sisters always do, find out the skinny on everything that’s gone on since they last got together.

Me, I rode with Mo. Boy was I proud. Eight years old and traveling across the Panhandle without my Mom. A heady feeling for a younker like me.

I don’t remember much about the trip except somewhere past Plainview (the name clearly describes the how flat the land is around there), the top blew off the bed.

With a ‘son-of-a-buck’ curse, Mo pulled off and backed up.

I jumped out and almost froze when the bitter wind hit me. That land was so flat I swear I could see the North Pole. Clenching my teeth, I grabbed the top. I couldn’t budge it, but here came Mo, muttering under his breath. Without seemingly an effort, he lifted the top and propped it against the truck. He told me to hold it in place, which I barely managed to do until he shed his jacket. He bent over and grabbed the edge of the plywood, and heaved, sliding the cumbersome top back into place.

That was sixty-five years ago, and I still marvel at his strength.

Back in the truck, Mo laughed and slapped me on the leg. “By god, we got it back in place, didn’t we, boy? You did a good job. I reckon that calls for a cup of coffee and hot cocoa, what do you say?”

If you think I felt grown up helping him with the top, you can imagine how I felt when we marched in a nice warm café and sat at the counter, me beside that great hulk of a man who called out to the waitress, “Lady, I’ll have a cup of coffee and bring a hot cocoa for my partner here-with marshmallows if you got them.”

Mo’s been gone a long time, over twenty-five years.

I still miss that big old bear of a man.

Incidentally, I didn’t get the marshmallows. They were rationed, but I didn’t even notice. I was with my hero.











rconwell@gt.rr.com

http://www.kentconwell.blogspot.com/

www.goodreads.com/author/show/13557.Kent_Conwell

www.amazon.com/-/e/B001JPCK26

www.kentconwell.blogspot.com

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Green America Turns Red

If you didn’t know it, our president has been out on the road, riding in a great black RV constructed in Canada. The purpose of his journey is not to inform, but to campaign. After all, in a year from now the presidential election takes place.

Most sitting presidents do not to hit the trail so soon, but then, he is like no other president in our history. And no, I’m not referring to his race or eloquence, but to his inept attempts to administer the duties of his office efficiently and effectively. He’s learning the hard way that sophisticated educational theory hatched in an Ivy League all-nighter usually stinks like a rotten egg.

He does, however, possess a great deal in common with many federal and state bureaucrats in that he spends money like water. Of course, it is taxpayer funds, not his.

They say death and taxes are the only sure things in life, but I suggest there is a third that could claim a spot in that unholy Trinity, “No amount of money thrown at a project can ensure its success.’

That is what he and his administration of brilliant idiots have attempted since they first got their hands on the country’s purse strings. Their ideas bordered on the grandiose and ostentatious, never realizing that job creation, from which all else comes, cannot be generated by word or unproven ideas or fanciful theories, but by hard work, sweat, experiment, failure, regrouping, and working again.

And no, jobs do not come from sitting on one's tail drawing welfare either.

Today, our country is drawing near fifteen trillion in debt. That is almost $50,000. per individual.

Think back to the stimulus of 2009, over eight hundred billion.

Here’s one example among hundreds of waste. The administration gave the Department of Energy $500 million for green jobs. One hundred and eleven million was spent to train 21,000 workers for green jobs. To date, none of them are employed.

And then there was Beacon Power Corporation that filed for bankruptcy just a year after receiving $43 million guarantee from the Department of Energy.

Then you have Solyndra, maker of solar panels. They received a $535 million loan from the DOE. A couple years later, our president visited them and gushed just how proud he was of the way they had handled themselves. Solyndra, he claimed, was a model for all green energy companies.

And then what did they have the audacity and nerve to do. Why only months later, they went belly up, filing for bankruptcy.

Serves him right. No one, not even the president, has the right to take foolish chances with another’s money, but that is exactly what his administration is doing. And, to be fair, previous administrations also. Bush is in for his share of the blame. He can’t escape that.

Oh, they try to cover it up.

Another example.

How many of you out there own a Volt, GM’s electric car?

Not many, I can tell you that.

Why?

You see, the government anticipated building a 100,000 thousand Volts, but to date have sold only 928, a major, but well-deserved, embarrassment for Obama.

Why didn’t they sell?

Price for one thing--$41,000 plus it is a lemon among lemons.

The cars wouldn’t sell at that price, so GM lobbied Obama, who was pushing the Volt, for a federal tax rebate. They received a $7,500 federal rebate.

Federal rebate?

You know, don’t you, where that money comes from?

Think your wallet.

At a Detroit auto show, a Volt failed to start when it was demonstrated.

After testing Volt, Consumer Reports estimated mileage range on the battery is between 25 and 50 miles. And the only reason electric motor range is that much is because the heater or the air conditioner is not running. Range would be even less with either of the two in operation.

And oh, yes, the Volt requires premium fuel, so what little gas savings you get is consumed by the expense of premium fuel.

To save Obama’s face, General Electric (remember-they pay no taxes courtesy the present administration and Charley Rangel) committed to buy 50,000 Volts.

Everyone’s happy.

GM because they get rid of a dud of a vehicle.

Obama because it falsely appears he is greening the country.

GE because Obama is happy.

The only unhappy ones are the suckers, the US taxpayers We will be paying $5,000,000 for fifty thousand lemons.

Now, I never believed his ‘hope and change’ hype. If you still do, give me a call. I have a mountainside retreat in Galveston I’ll sell you at a real bargain.









rconwell@gt.rr.com

http://www.kentconwell.blogspot.com/

www.goodreads.com/author/show/13557.Kent_Conwell

www.amazon.com/-/e/B001JPCK26









www.kentconwell.blogspot.com

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Coincidence or Politics?

A couple days back, an old classmate of mine from decades past sent me a few interesting tidbits of information that caught my attention. After reading the first scrap of Washington nonsense, I started to skip the second piece, but for some reason I went ahead and read it.

I’m glad I did. Makes me wonder once again; just what is going on up there in Washington. At first, I figured the two incidents were simply coincidence, but upon second reading and a little research, I’ve come to the conclusion the two events are part of a larger game that is being played out behind the ludicrous façade of politics today.

You decide for yourself.

Now, everyone is aware of the ‘Occupiers’ in New York, a group of protestors endorsed by President Obama. I’m not exactly sure what they are protesting, but that isn’t as important as the spot at which they are conducting their protest.

I had heard the park in which they have settled, Zucotti Park, is not owned by the city. It is a private park owned by Brookfield Properties. I often wondered why the trustees of the park didn’t order the people off.

Naïve me.

Guess whom they recently hired as their attorney? Vice-President Joe Biden’s son. But that’s not all. Sitting on the board of Brookfield Properties is New York Mayor Bloomberg’s live-in girlfriend, and now guess what company just received some of the last of Obama’s billions in stimulus?

If you guessed Brookfield Properties, go to the head of the class.

How is that for coincidence?

No wonder Brookfield doesn’t mind folks squatting on their property.

But our President doesn’t just have his finger in the New York pies. He’s also hard at work in the kitchen over in Wisconsin, a state that could be ‘the’ swing state in 2012.

Now, I’m sure this is just coincidence, but do you have any idea who will be tabulating the electronic votes in Wisconsin in 2012?

No one but George Soros.

And who is George Soros, you ask.

He is none other that the biggest financial contributor to Obama, that’s who.

Talk about a fox in the hen house.

Anyone care to give odds on who will win Wisconsin?

My ex-classmate closed his message with a quote from Joseph Stalin. I didn’t verify the quote, but it seems apropos here. “He who votes does not have power. He who counts the votes has power.”

I’ll bet Florida would second that.

Over the last few years, I’ve seen too many Washington ‘coincidences’ to believe very few are anything but carefully constructed events to achieve political gains.

Think back, if you will, to the days prior to the first Republican debate. A time was designated for the debate. The next day, the president and the White House announced a request for a joint session of Congress on that same date so he could give his jobs speech. He was forced to back down, but can you tell me with a straight face that such an announcement was a coincidence; that he was not deliberately trying to disrupt their debate?

I’m gullible, probably more than the average person, but I’m not that easy to fool.

Ever since the first stimulus, I’ve wondered about the recipients of the grants or loans.

I hadn’t thought much about the loan to General Electric until I ran across it during research of several sources online. To my surprise, many of the sources utilized the expertise of one writer, Walter Korschek.

According to Mister Korschek, sometime back word surfaced that General Electric had over a billion in worldwide profits as well as a billion in domestic earnings in 2010. In addition, they paid no income taxes, receiving in fact a two billion dollar tax refund.

For years, GE had been making overseas loans and receiving interest. According to a loophole in our tax codes, they paid no taxes on the interest.

The Democrats got their nose out of joint and swore to their sorely taxed constituents that GE would indeed pay taxes. Charley Rangel, at the time Chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, decided to rewrite the code so GE would have to pay taxes.

And then a funny thing happened on the way to the forum.

One day Rangel stood ready drop the floor from under GE, tightening the noose about the neck of their loophole. The next day, he inexplicably removed the rope and tore down the scaffolding altogether.

An then a miracle. A few days later, a GE Foundation donated millions to New York City schools, several million of which went to schools in Charley’s Congressional District.

Coincidence? Or politics? Or a miracle?

You and I both know the president is always talking about spreading the wealth around.

Personally, he’s doing a lot better job at it than I care for. I don’t know how the wealth could be spread around any better than what old Charley Rangel is doing.

Rangel’s district is a model that Obama would love to see spread to the rest of the USA. The majority live in government housing, cash government checks, utilized government food stamps, accept government cell phones, use government health services, and take advantage of government social services.

On the other hand, it might be we should thank Obama. Had he not tried so overtly to move our country into a socialistic society, we might never have noticed just how far we’ve already slid as a result of back door politics and Congressional greed.

Irate Americans put many new faces into Congress in 2010. Our only salvation is to send that many more new faces to Washington in 2012.

Give us time, and we’ll win out.





rconwell@gt.rr.com

http://www.kentconwell.blogspot.com/

www.goodreads.com/author/show/13557.Kent_Conwell

www.amazon.com/-/e/B001JPCK26

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

America's Ace in the Hole

I recently ran across a sobering observation by an Eighteenth Century University of Edinborough professor, Alexander Tytler, a statement I’ve heard several times previously.

President Reagan even quoted Professor Tytler in a 1964 speech when he was stumping for Barry Goldwater. While some believe Lord Thomas Macaulay or Arnold Toynbee coined the conclusion instead of Tytler, the veracity of the observation is beyond question. Failure after failure of democracies from Mesopotamia to Rome have proven its chilling truth.

In referring to the fall of the Athenian Republic two thousand years ago, the statement was made that ‘A democracy is always temporary in nature; it simply cannot exist as a permanent form of government. A democracy will continue to exist until the time that voters discover they can vote themselves generous gifts from the public treasury. From that moment on, the majority always votes for the candidates (plug in Democratic Party here for its liberal policies) who promise the most benefits from the public treasury, with the result that every democracy will finally collapse over loose fiscal policy, which is always followed by a dictatorship.’

Now, I’ll be honest. When I first read that assertion in college back in the medieval days of dragons and damsels in distress, I scoffed. But today—well— our current situation does give pause to wonder.

Still I don’t believe it will come about, but much will have to change for its conclusions not to hold true. I think we have an ace in the hole, but only if we citizens will play it.

The professor continued. “The average age of the world’s greatest civilizations from the beginning of history has always been about two hundred years. During that span, nations have always progressed through the following sequence.

a. From bondage to spiritual faith
b. From spiritual faith to great courage
c. From courage to liberty
d. From Liberty to abundance
e. From abundance to complacency;
f. From complacency to apathy;
g. From apathy to dependence;
h. From dependence back into bondage

You can’t deny we’re somewhere between apathy and dependence, most having waved a joyous adios to complacency a couple decades earlier.

But the ace in the hole is the fact we are not a democracy, but a constitutional republic. That gives me hope and the country an edge.

Now we always hear we are a democracy, but is that all we are? Is that all the founding fathers intended?

Democracy is a form of government in which all people have an equal say in the decisions that affect their lives, including equal participation in the proposing, developing and passing of legislation into law.

A republic is a state in which the head of state and other officials are representatives of the people and must govern according to existing constitutional law that limits the government’s power over all its citizens. Because the head of state is elected; because its representatives are elected, it is a republic, not a monarchy.

The framers of our constitution were well aware of the inherent problems of a simple democracy, so that is why they labored over a set of laws that limited the government’s power. That set of laws became the constitution.

In a constitutional republic, the executive, legislative, and judicial powers are broken into three distinct branches.

That a constitution exists limiting the government’s power makes the state constitutional.

That the heads of state and other officials are chosen by election rather than inheriting their positions and that their decisions are subject to judicial review makes the state a republic.

I’ve voted Democrat. I’ve voted Republican. Once, in a state of temporary insanity, I even voted Liberal.

That is our ace in the hole. We can vote the scoundrels out—if we simply choose to do so.

Those already on the dole who enjoy the largesse of liberal policy make up about 47 percent of our 311 million population, almost one half, a shocking increase over the last century, an increase that parallels the problems of social security solvency.

For example, in 1940 when Ida May Fuller of Vermont received the first SS check, there were 160 workers for every retiree. Today, there are three for every retiree.
Same thing is happening with entitlements.

If our citizenry will shake the apathy from its shoulders, don the cloak of independence that was once a driving force in America, then we can pull ourselves out of this morass of welfare, which daily is carrying us closer to a socialist state.

That’s why I applaud the Tea Party, and the Occupiers.

They’re making themselves heard. Now some might be crackpots protesting just to protest; some are there to party; some are there because they have nothing else to do; but some are there for a purpose.

Like the Tea Party or not, you can’t deny they put many new faces in Congress.
What we need to do to add more new faces, individuals who will serve the people and not themselves.

We have enough professional politicians in Washington, those shylocks who want to control us by deceiving us into believing they re doing what we want while instead they do as they wish.

If you’ll take time to look at demographics, you’ll see that politicians who have served numerous terms represent constituencies receiving a much higher percentage of entitlements

Look at Charlie Rangel, D-Harlem. Unemployment in his district is out of sight; so are food stamps; so are every entitlement across the board. He is convicted of eleven ethics violations, yet his voters put him back in.


They’re afraid they’ll lose the welfare he provides them.

Jokers like Rangel and his ilk need to go. The task won’t be easy, but I’d like to see my grandkids enjoy the same America as I.

Wouldn’t you?


rconwell@gt.rr.com
http://www.kentconwell.blogspot.com/
www.goodreads.com/author/show/13557.Kent_Conwell
www.amazon.com/-/e/B001JPCK26

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Dad and the Texas Rangers

I hope you don’t mind a break from politics, at least for today. I just read something in the newspaper that brought back those halcyon days of my childhood in the little town of Wheeler up in the Texas Panhandle.

Our community was one of those ubiquitous small villages all over the USA where a dirty-faced boy or freshly washed girl, after a day of hard play, would drop dead in their bed without a care in the world.

We never questioned our security, our safety, or world.

So, what was so mind-grabbing in the paper?
Splashed across the headlines in Sunday’s paper were the bold words “Texas Rangers Return to World Series.”

If Dad were alive, I wouldn’t have had to wait until morning to hear the news. My phone would have been ringing off the wall as the game was over.
Dad was a big Ranger fan. He listened to every game after the team came to town in 1972. The move came after spinning seventy less than memorable seasons as the Washington Senators.

I promised myself when I started this column, I’d stay away from politics, but golly, the fact as Washington Senators, they accomplished nothing worthwhile in seventy years seems awfully familiar. Don’t you think?
But back to Dad and the Rangers.

When a Ranger game was on, you’d find Dad out on the patio with the radio and his flyswatter. Under the shade of a latticed roof covered with vines, he’d sit at an old table covered with a red and white checkered tablecloth with his cigarettes and ashtray, killing flies and sipping beer.

I was a big baseball fan also, starting as far back as the mid-forties. Dad had just come back from the war.

During those summers, almost every day, my best friend, Jerry Lewis, and I would lie on the grass in the shade of a giant cottonwood by the small creek just below our homes, listening to the afternoon ball games and spooking old fawn-colored jersey milk cows that grazed too close.

Usually, Jerry and I agreed on everything except he was a Yankee fan, and I always pulled for the Dodgers. Fortunately, they were in different leagues.
I can still hear the announcers’ voices and remember their names, (I think) Mel Allen, Jim Britt, Red Barber.

Looking back, I try to call up the magic of those days, Jerry and me sprawled out, leaning up against the rugged bark of a tree, cooled by the breeze sweeping across the hayfield and under the shade of the cottonwood. The sky overhead was blue as a robin’s egg. Puffy clouds that looked like elephants and goats and people tumbled past.

We probably had a RC Cola or Nehi Orange at our side.

The announcers’ voices were clear and crisp as they called each play. To this day, I can hear the crack of the bat striking the ball, the sharp sound cutting through the roar of the crowd. Even before the crack of the bat died away, Jim Britt or Red Barber would shout, “A homerun, ladies and gentlemen. A home run, and the Cubs lead it one nothing in the bottom of the seventh.”

We’d clap and shout with excitement.

That afternoon, when Dad came in from work, I’d run up to him and my words tumbled all over each other as I related the details of the game.

I’ll never forget how crushed I was when a bunch of us boys were talking baseball at recess one day. One of our friends sniffed and said. “Those guys who call the game ain’t really there. They just use sound effects.”

“What? How can that be? They got to be there.”

He calmly informed us his brother was in radio, and each station had a announcer who sat in a room listening to the game on headphones, then relating the plays to his own audience. “Why,’ he exclaimed, “he even has the sound of crowds on a record, and he taps his pencil against the microphone to make it sound like a bat hitting the ball.”

That night, Dad studied me a moment after I told him what I’d heard. He gave me that funny grin of his and tousled my hair. “Don’t listen to him. He doesn’t know what he’s talking about.”

That was good enough for me. In my mind, I could see those announcers high in the booths looking down on the field.

Years passed. I grew older. Major changes came about. We sort of relegated baseball to a lesser priority although we attended several Fort Worth Cat’s games after moving to that city.

Dad never got real interested in baseball until the Rangers came to town. They were pretty bad, but he hung in there. He always assured me that they were just rebuilding. Wait until next year, he would say. For the twenty odd years until he passed away, he faithfully followed the Rangers with all their warts and moles.
Well today, he’d sure be crowing. “See. Just what I said. They’ve been building up to this.”

I can see him now, flyswatter in hand, sitting at a table with maybe St. Peter, and the two of them looking down as the Rangers take the field in this years World Series against the St. Louis Cardinals. He’d give St. Peter that funny grin of his and announce. “I always knew they’d make to the series. And this year they’ll win it.”

When I think about him and baseball, those carefree days so long ago come sweeping back, carrying me back to those misty days in my memory. I hold so precious and dear.

Enjoy the series, Dad. You deserve it.




rconwell@gt.rr.com
http://www.kentconwell.blogspot.com/
www.goodreads.com/author/show/13557.Kent_Conwell
www.amazon.com/-/e/B001JPCK26

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Campaign Mode

You know what the definition of Campaign Mode is, don’t you? That’s when politicians tell you exactly what you want to know even if they have to lie about it. Hey, often, they’ll lie to us when the truth would serve better.

If you’ve noticed, in the last few weeks our president has gone back to his campaign mode he so successfully utilized in ’08. You remember, sleeves rolled up, collar unbuttoned-just a regular good old boy.

And he’s doing exactly what he did back then, telling us what we want to hear regardless of truth.

For example, a few months back at a Democratic National Committee meeting in Austin, he made the remark that we had doubled our exports.

The truth is in 2009, exports totaled $1,571 trillion. The first quarter of 2011, exports totaled just over $505 billion. If you multiply the first quarter of 2011 by four, you’ll have $2,020 trillion, which is an increase, but only 29%, not the doubling he claimed.

Why do they deliberately misrepresent their accomplishment to us? Obviously, to be re-elected, and if they don’t have something positive to say, they’ll make it up.
The old saw ‘believe half of what you see and nothing of what you hear’ is as valid today as when old Ben Franklin coined it.

Have you grown as sick of the budget mess we have up there?

I'd like to say, take heart, but I can't.

The president claims his budget ‘will help reduce the deficit to $400 billion over the next decade—the lowest level since Dwight Eisenhower was president.’

But a strange thing happened on the way to the forum. Using Obama’s own summary tables from his budget proposal, PolitiFact found that the deficit for 2011 will be $1.645 trillion. In 2021, the end of the span of which he spoke, the deficit is projected to be $774 billion, almost double his claim of $400.

In his effort to defend his healthcare, he stated categorically “twelve judges have thrown out legal challenges to the health care law because they rejected the notion that health care law was unconstitutional.”

Twelve judges did dismiss the case, but not because of ‘the notion health care was unconstitutional’ but because upon procedural grounds. They did not even look at the merits of the case.

Four more judges have ruled on it, two for, two against.

But doesn’t it sound much better to claim twelve tossed it out? He blatantly stated, “they rejected the notion that health care law was unconstitutional “, which they did not.

In another fairy tale, he claimed he had not raised taxes. If he didn’t then it was his clone who signed into law raising taxes on cigarettes and other tobacco products.

His clone also signed into law the new healthcare law that taxes those who decide not to have health insurance. By 2016, penalty/tax will be from $695 per uninsured person up to a maximum of three times that amount or $2,085.

No taxes, he claims. How would you explain that starting in 2013, individuals who make over $200,000 and couples making over $250,000 will see additional Medicare taxes as well as begin paying Medicare taxes on their investment income.

Another false statement.

Had enough?

No, well, this idea of cronyism has been bandied about in the last few weeks.
If you’ll think back, in his State of the Union address last year, the president stated “we’ve excluded lobbyists from policymaking jobs or seats on federal boards and commissions.”

According to PolitiFact, he did sign legislation barring lobbyists, but, as usual in politics, there was a loophole. That loophole was that he could, by executive order, issue a waiver okaying a lobbyist to work for the administration.

And that is what took place.

He issued a waiver for:

William Lynn to be deputy secretary of defense, the No.2 positional at the Pentagon.(think defense weapons) Lynn was a Raytheon lobbyists for six years, lobbying on defense-related issues.

Jocelyn Frey, director of policy and projects in the office of the First Lady. (this one states she is director of policy)

Cecilia Munoz, director of intergovernmental affairs in the executive Office of the President.

In addition, the White House has issued seven more waivers and among various federal agencies, fifteen more waivers had been issued.

I’m tired of listening to such dribble as ‘health reform will give every American the same opportunity to buy health insure the way members of Congress do.

Or preventive care saves money.

Or –never mind. The list of half truths is interminable.

I could go on and on relating his remarks, but the point is that up until the next federal election, citizens should remember Ben Franklin and be skeptical of all they hear, not just from the president, but from all politicians.

Now in all fairness to him, probably ninety-five percent of our politicians do the same thing.

They just don’t have a big a platform from which to speak.





rconwell@gt.rr.com
http://www.kentconwell.blogspot.com/
www.goodreads.com/author/show/13557.Kent_Conwell
www.amazon.com/-/e/B001JPCK26

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Is America Turning to Socialism?

Unless you've been stuck away in an attic for the last few years, you've heard the word 'socialism' batted around more than a volleyball in a five-game match.

Socialism advocates the means of production, distribution, and exchange of wealth should be owned and regulated by the community as a whole.

The philosophy is very much like communism in which all property is publicly owned.
Each person works and is paid according to their abilities and needs.

The difference in the two is that communism advocates class warfare, a word you’ve heard bandied about in the media over the last few years.

Joseph Stalin once said that "America is like a healthy body and its resistance is threefold: its patriotism, its morality and its spiritual life." He continued. "If we can undermine these three areas, America will collapse from within."

To that end, a platform of forty-five communist goals were established to insinuate destructive philosophies into the American model. In fact, these goals entitled 'Current Communist Goals' were published in the U.S. Congressional Record in 1963.

You're probably saying that was over sixty years ago, so what does that have to do with today? Read on.

Forty-five is too many to cover in such a short space, but there were some that leaped off the page and struck me between the eyes.

Goals twenty-four through twenty-six:

24. Eliminate all laws governing obscenity by calling them ‘censorship’ and a violation of free speech and free press.

25. Break down cultural standards of morality by promoting pornography and obscenity in books, magazines, motion pictures, radio, and TV. (what explanation is necessary? Take a look at what Hollywood and the printed word offers today)

26.Present homosexuality, degeneracy and promiscuity as "normal, natural, healthy."
(gay marriage had dominated headlines for the last several years)

In fact, take a gander at your TV schedule for the next week and tell me these three goals have not been achieved.

What a change from the sitcoms of the sixties and seventies. We had ‘Leave it to Beaver’,‘My Three Sons’, and the 'Brady Bunch-, all of which provided healthy lessons on life. We had heroes then such as Batman, the Lone Ranger, Superman. And we had the light-hearted 'Gomer Pyle', 'Dick Van Dyke Show,' and 'Betwitched'. The cartoons were light, always concluding with the good guy winning, not vulgar like the current South Park or King of the Hill or Family Guy, all three of which are laced with obscenities.

How did all this come about?

Here’s how.

Communist Goal 21 states 'Gain control of key positions in radio, TV, and motion pictures.’

Do you think this happening? The most recent example I can point out is last week, Hank Williams Jr made the remark that Obama and House Speaker Boehner playing golf was like Hitler playing with the Israeli Prime Minister. When asked to explain, Williams replied, "They, meaning Obama and Biden, are the enemy." His remark got his Monday Night Football opening canceled by ESPN.

Now, I'm not saying ESPN is communist. I’m not saying any media is communist. All I’m saying is that over the last forty or fifty years, our country has leaned more and more toward that particular philosophy.

Over the decades, government has been insidiously insinuating itself more and more into our lives.

Is this just coincidence?

Goal 27 calls for infiltrating the churches and replacing revealed religion with 'social' religion; it calls for discrediting the Bible and emphasizing the need for intellectual maturity, which needs no religious crutch.

Goal 28 states eliminate prayer or any phase of religious expression in the schools on the ground that it violates the principle of "separation of church and state."
We've seen that come about. We've witnessed students punished for praying in school. We can’t pray in school. We can’t pray at ball games.

And then there is the furor over ‘In God We Trust’ on our coinage.

I'm not smart enough to have a solution satisfying everyone, but our country was founded upon and by religious principles. We're not floundering around now because God is punishing us; we're floundering because our country has moved away from the principles upon which it was founded.

In Washington today, the thrust is to take from those who've worked hard, who've worked smart, or who hit a streak of luck, and give part of their income to those who don't have as much. Pure socialism.

Communist Goal 29 states ‘discredit the American Constitution by calling it inadequate, old-fashioned, out of step with modern needs, a hindrance to cooperation between nations on a worldwide basis.’

Don 't think so, then explain why North Carolina Governor Beverly Perdue suggests we skip--yep, skip (as in forgettabout it) Congressional elections.

And then farther up north, we have Peter Orzag stating that what our country needs is less democracy. Who is Orzag? A graduate of Exeter and former Obama staff member.

Are they communists? No, but they are leaning in the direction the communist philosophy espouses.

Fifty percent of households pay no income tax. How to you reconcile that with the socialist philosophy? Fifty million Americans are on welfare. That's not counting the twenty-three million illegals, the majority of whom are drawing some type of welfare. Aren't taxpaying Americans taking care of them?

Any way you cut the cake, it stills comes out socialism.

rconwell@gt.rr.com
http://www.kentconwell.blogspot.com/
www.goodreads.com/author/show/13557.Kent_Conwell
www.amazon.com/-/e/B001JPCK26

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Living Through Chaos

We’ve all been in situations when the unexpected forces us to change plans we’ve had in place for weeks or months. And when that happens, we’ve no choice but to make the best of it. Sometimes that’s hard to do; sometimes the repercussions are not what we had anticipated; sometimes, but not often, it all turns out much better than we expected; but always, we’re grateful when it is all over.

That is the sort of frustrating situation in which we found ourselves a couple weeks back for the Pecan Festival hosted by the city of Groves. Instead of the weekend being fun and relaxing, it became a hectic frenzy—not the festival itself, but the days leading up to it thanks to the unanticipated--and Mother Nature’s blessings.

We always try to attend the Pecan Festival with the grandkids, Mikey and Keegan. Now, we never attend opening day because it is too crowded. We usually opt for Saturday. This year, the festival’s dates fell on my grandson’s, Mikey, birthday.
Mikey's birthday party was Saturday at two.

Well, we talked about going Friday, but since Keegan was spending the night with us. We had planned to take him fishing at the rocks at Sabine Lake. Keegan is crazy about the place, and he’s turning into a good little fisherman.

Then things started going down hill.

Keegan was sent home from school ill. There went the fishing for when I picked him up, that little feller was as droopy as a wet noodle. Usually when he’s over, we jump in the pool, but all he felt like doing was lying around watching Spongebob Squarepants on TV.

I know, I know, erudite psychologists have claimed watching just nine minutes of Spongebob will turn a child into an idiot. In my years on this earth, I’ve not grown very smart, but I’m smart enough to know such conclusions are drawn only by idiots.

The same thing was said about the Three Stooges fifty years back, and while that might be the explanation for the idiocy of most of our current politicians, for the most part, American kids who enjoyed the Stooge’s silly antics turned out to be fine citizens.

But, back to the festival or actually the days leading up to it. We realized Sunday would have be our day at the fair. Open from 1-6, there was plenty of time for the boys to enjoy the rides and games.

I mentioned ‘frenzy’ earlier. Well, Keegan’s mom and dad worked Saturday, which meant we would also have his little sister, Kenli, who was almost one.

If you haven’t been around a one-year-old in a spell, I’ll tell you they are never still. She’s a climber and a crawler (though she is close to walking). As of this writing, I guess I could say she is walking for yesterday, she took about eight or ten wobbly little steps before plopping down on her plump little derriere.

Keegan still felt puny, so his folks decided he didn’t need to play in his peewee football game that Saturday morning, which was fine with me being the bus driver so to speak. But he also been invited to a couple birthday parties, Mikey’s being one of them.

Strange how a birthday invitation can perk a sick kid up. You ever noticed that?

Anyway, the first party was at Doornbos Park at eleven, and then his cousin’s, Mikey, at two.

Leaving Kenli with Gayle, Keegan and I headed for the first party.
Birthday parties aren’t like I remember with a handful of kids. Not only did youngsters show up, their parents were with them. I’d guess seventy or eighty folks altogether.

The hosts had a pony ride and petting zoo for the kids.

Great fun, great company, great people.

I lost track of the number of pony rides Keegan took, and his favorite animal in the zoo was an ancient turtle almost three feet long.

We didn’t want to leave, but we had to pick up Gayle and Kenli and head for Mikey’s shindig.

By then, Keegan was over whatever he’d had the day before. He hit the swimming pool with the others, and for three hours, the kids tried to drown each other.

Gayle and I were exhausted, but we still had the fair the next day.
That night, the drought around broke—big time.

We knew we were taking a chance of being soaked if we went to the fair. We were right. For the first hour, we huddled with thirty or forty others under a 20x20 pavilion out of the pouring rain witnessing a dog show.

Now I like dogs, but a dog show is not my idea of a fun time at the fair.

When the deluge finally slacked, we were all soaked, but we headed for the midway through ankle deep water with grim resolve to have fun despite the drizzle. Have fun or die-that was the motto we adopted.

The boys rode what rides were open, and we all took shelter under the canopies of game venues with each passing shower. The prizes they won probably cost all of five bucks althought we spent fifty to seventy on them, but it was worth it.

I kid you not, those three days, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday wore me to the proverbial nub. I even dozed through the Texans' football game.

That night, Gayle and I were asleep before our heads hit the pillows. I didn’t move a muscle.

How soccer moms do it, I’ll never know. My hat’s off to them.

Now, I’ve got to rest up for next year



rconwell@gt.rr.com
http://www.kentconwell.blogspot.com/
www.goodreads.com/author/show/13557.Kent_Conwell
www.amazon.com/-/e/B001JPCK26
www.kentconwell.blogspot.com

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Rick Perry and the Great Ponzi Scheme

Seems like some folks are upset about Rick Perry’s assertion that Social Security is a Ponzi Scheme.

Now, I don’t know if I’m for Perry or not. I don’t trust him. He possesses many of the attributes of the consummate politician, both good or bad. That means nothing.
There are only a few politicians I trust, and most of them are local folks. Even among the locals, there are those who put their own agendas above those of the public.

So, when I say, let’s talk about his remarks, I’m not supporting him, although I believe if you look at his assertion with an open mind, you’ll be able to see his point.

I’m not trying to change your mind. Most of you are too wise for that, but I just want to explain his point-of-view.

First, just what is a Ponzi Scheme?

It is a fraudulent investment operation that pays returns to investors, not from actual profits earned, but from money paid by subsequent investors.

The scheme draws new investors by offering returns other companies can’t guarantee. These returns are short term and offer abnormal and consistent returns. When other investors see that old Joe Moneybags’ investment with ‘Pie in the Sky Mutuals’ is drawing twenty percent, they fall all over their own greed to get in on the action.
The only way for the scheme to continue is to entice new investors--continually--as in day after day—to feed on itself.

Most of you have heard of Bernie Madoff who scored billions off a long running Ponzi Scheme.

A la Perry, let’s compare his plan to our Social Security system, shall we?

Bernie: took money from investors with the promise that the money will be invested and made available to them later.

Social Security: Takes money from wage earners with the promise that the money will be invested in a ‘Trust Fund’ and made available later.

Bernie: Instead of investing the money, old Bernie spent it on nice homes and yachts.

Social Security: After depositing money in a ‘Trust Fund’, politicians borrowed from it to supplant monies for the General Revenue Fund, using it for general spending and vote buying.

Bernie: When the time came to pay the investors back, Bernie simply used funds from new investors to pay the older investors.

Social Security: When benefits for the older investors became due, politicians paid the old codgers with money taken from younger and newer wage earners.

Bernie: When Bernie’s scheme was discovered, you-know-what hit the fan. New investors scattered like quail. Money dried up.

Social Security: When Social Security runs out of money, politicians try to force taxpayers to send them more or they cancel or pare down benefits to all those who paid into it.

Now, there you have it. That’s the point Perry is trying to make.

If you can see a difference in a Ponzi Scheme and Social Security, I’d appreciate you let me know. I’ll even print your response (as long as it is printable).

Now the old boy in my high school chat group who put me on to this comparison added one more comparison.

I think it is interesting enough to repeat here.

Today, Bernie Madoff is in jail.

Today, politicians remain in Washington with fat medical and retirement benefits or have retired to bask in the fact they are rich as Croesus and have federal buildings and libraries named after them.

Does Madoff deserve prison?

Definitely! His actions were deliberate, bringing about devastating ruin to hundreds of lives.

What about the politicians who’ve taken from Social Security?

I don’t know about you, but I see a double standard here that has no place in our country.

What to do about it?

Term limits.

House members-three terms; Senate-two terms.

A keenly perceptive activist in the intellectual life of our country, Milton Friedman, once remarked. “If you put the federal government in charge of the Sahara Desert, in five years, there would be a shortage of sand.

Ain’t it the truth.

rconwell@gt.rr.com
http://www.kentconwell.blogspot.com/
www.goodreads.com/author/show/13557.Kent_Conwell
www.amazon.com/-/e/B001JPCK26

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

A Way Out of This Mess

No one disputes the chilling fact that our country is $14 trillion plus in debt. No one can dispute that when Clinton left office, we had a surplus. No one can dispute the debt started under Bush and escalated under Obama.

Today, we stand here like dummies staring at a stack of thousand dollar bills 945 miles (miles, not feet) high. Nine hundred and forty five. That’s a greater distance than from Orange, Texas to El Paso.

Even such a simple explanation of the enormity of the debt is still almost too confounding for me.

Nine hundred and forty-five! Why that’s almost as many miles as your teenager puts on his car over the weekend, right?

Fourteen trillion, and now the administration wants and half trillion to do the same thing all over again.

Remember Einstein’s definition of insanity- doing the same thing and expecting different results.

How did this all happen?

Most of us know exactly how it came about because unfortunately, the same thing has happened to many of us. We’re rocking along, holding our own, and than bingo, we’re broke. How?

Well, it’s a lot of little things we overlook.

But then someone shouts. Hold on! We’ve been fighting wars for ten years now. Them wars ain’t little things.

And he’s right. The Iraq and Afghan wars aren’t little things.

So, let’s talk about them. How much have we spent?

No one really knows.

Believe that? You should. We’re talking about Congress here, folks, not forthright, plain-speaking Americans.

You see, Congress has allotted the Defense Department $1.3 trillion for the wars through this fiscal year. President Obama said the wars cost about $1 trillion.

But those numbers are incomplete. In addition to that which Congress appropriated, the Pentagon spent an additional unknown amount from its $5.2 trillion base budget over the same period. According to a recent Brown University study, the wars and their ripple effects has cost the U.S. $3.7 trillion--over $12,000 bucks per person, even for the newest little guy or gal to pop into this world.

Other reports put it over $5 trillion, others a tad under, but I figure if we set the monetary cost at $4 trillion, we’d probably be in the ballpark.

I was no math whiz in school, but even I can subtract, and $4 trillion from $14 trillion still leaves $10 big T’s.

Though many disagree with the war, everyone can see where those funds went. What about the others? The $10 trillion?

There are the entitlements, social security, Medicare, Medicaid, and others, all of which were designed to support those citizens who had fallen on hard times.
What about those who discovered the loopholes in the system? The illegals? How much do they cost us?

How about $340.000,000,000.00 a year? If you’re like me and all those zeroes confuse you, the figure is three hundred and forty billion a year. A year!

Cut that out, and in three years, we’d have a trillion cut off the debt.
Don’t believe the figures?

According to FAIR, the Federation for American Immigration Reform, a national, nonprofit, public-interest organization that believes our nation's immigration policies must be reformed to serve the national interest stated that every year up to $22 billion is spent on welfare for illegal aliens. Another $22 B is spent on assistance programs such as WIC, free school breakfast and lunches, and food stamps.

Two and a half billion is spent on Medicaid while $12 billion is spent on public schools for illegals who cannot speak a word of English.

Seventeen billion is spent annually on the education of anchor babies, the children of illegals.

Three million a DAY is spent incarcerating illegal aliens who comprise 30% of all federal inmates.

American taxpayers spend ninety billion annually on social services for illegal aliens.

Two hundred billion a year in suppressed American wages are the result of illegal aliens, and to add insult to injury, $45 billion a year is remitted to their countries of origin.

And every day, every year, our Congress sits on its thumbs seeing who can one-up each other.

It’s time for term limits on those jokers.

Right now, the Democrats and Republicans are playing footsy with each other--business as usual while trying to make it look as if they’re governing.

Ask any individual who has pulled himself out of bankruptcy or overwhelming debt, and he will admit he had to make some tough decisions.

It is time for Congress to do the same thing.

rconwell@gt.rr.com
http://www.kentconwell.blogspot.com/
www.goodreads.com/author/show/13557.Kent_Conwell
www.amazon.com/-/e/B001JPCK26

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Rick Perry Revisited

A couple weeks back, a gentleman stopped me in front of the post office and questioned me about an article I’d written about Rick Perry. He had considered voting for Perry until he read the article. Now, he had questions.

Well, we all do, and I hastened to explain that while I had strong reservations about our governor, what I considered his negative aspects no way precluded my voting either for or against him.

I was just stating facts. And I could name more issues such as the birther stuff, seceding from the U.S., and his penchant to be a bedfellows with Cintra, a Spanish-based toll-road developer/operator and Texas-based Zachry Construction

But then, you and I could take each candidate and find a list of negatives as long as your arm.

Perry’s a farm boy. He was an Eagle scout, A&M graduate, and an Air Force pilot.

He started out in politics as a democrat, but along the way switched sides. Much is made of the fact he has never lost an election, although in 2006 he won only by a plurality over Chris Bell, Carole Keeton Strayhorn, Kinky Friedman, a Libertarian candidate, and a write-in independent.

Perry polled 39 percent; Bell 29.8 percent; Strayhorn 18 percent, and Friedman 12.6 percent. The Libertarian and the write-in polled 0.6 percent.

It is interesting to note that less than 40 percent of registered voters participated in the election. So, out of approximately 10.5 million registered voters, he receive 1.7 million votes.

Put another way, he was elected by 17-18% of Texas citizens. Certainly not a majority choice. Perhaps just the lesser of six evils, huh?

He became only the third governor in state history elected by a plurality of less than 40 percent of votes cast.

Other elections, he solidly defeated his opponent.

It is true during his tenure, almost half of the new jobs in the country have been created here in our state. How much credit he should get, I don’t know. I do know he used taxpayer money to entice companies to create jobs in the state, but then, isn’t a governor supposed to take steps to help his state prosper?

Texas is a right-to-work state, meaning we’re not at the mercy of unions (although in their way, they do good). We have no state income tax nor state tax on capital gains, all choice plums for businesses looking to relocate or start up. You can’t give him credit for that. We had that before him.

This last legislative session, he tried, but failed to ban sanctuary cities-those that do not allow municipal funds or resources to be used to enforce federal immigration laws, usually by now allowing police or municipal employees to inquire about one’s immigration status. I applaud him for the effort.

Austin, Baytown, Brownsville, Channelview, Denton, Dallas, El Cenizo, Fort Worth, Houston, Katy, Laredo, League City, McAllen, Port Arthur, and San Antonio are all considered sanctuary cities. That means illegals can live there without fear of arrest and deportation while at the same time milking cities of funds designed to support legal citizens of need. Those city officials should be real proud of themselves.

In 2003, Perry managed to get tort reform, which means he put caps on non-monetary medical malpractice damages. Such legislation was instrumental in bringing more doctors into the state.

Texas has always been a litigious state, with Jefferson County having one of the most favorable environments for trial attorneys. This last session, Perry signed a ‘loser pays’ bill, which, depending on the situation, makes a losing plaintiff liable for the other party’s attorney fees.

On the flip side of this legislation is the concern that the poor will not pursue legitimate claims out of fear of losing.

He signed the voter I.D. bill, which is designed to prevent fraud at the ballot box.
Would I vote for him?

To the gentleman in front of the post office, I’ll admit I’m not sure. Besides, we’ve a long way to go. I can’t help thinking that someone who packs a .380 magnum while jogging could very well shoot himself in the foot.

The gentleman with whom I spoke is like most us, desperate to get the country going again. Many probably share his feeling when he said, ‘if the election was between Mortimer Snerd and Obama, I’d vote for Mortimer.’

What if it were between Perry and Mortimer?

You call it.


rconwell@gt.rr.com
http://www.kentconwell.blogspot.com/
www.goodreads.com/author/show/13557.Kent_Conwell
www.amazon.com/-/e/B001JPCK26

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

First Day Magic



“School days, school days, dear old golden rule days.’

Remember that? What was the rest of it? ‘Reading and ‘riting and ‘rithmetic taught to the tune of a hickory stick—‘

It goes on, these words of an old song written by Gus Edwards and Will Cobb back in 1907.

As kids up in the Panhandle, we used to sing it, at least the first few lines. After ‘hickory stick’, it continued ‘you were my queen in calico. I was your bashful barefoot beau’. That’s as far as we ever went, but it was a favorite for us back in the forties.

Now, we knew about the reading, ‘riting, and ‘rithmetic, but as third and fourth graders, we weren’t just real sure about ‘queen in calico’ or ‘bashful barefoot beau’ stuff.

Back then during the summer, if anyone had asked if we were ready to go back to school, we’d have grimaced and cried out ‘no’. Same way today. The truth is, then, as now, most of us were eager to get back to school, especially those who lived on farms and had daily chores.

It is easy to understand just how much more preferable it was sitting in an English class diagramming sentences rather than out in the hot sun chopping corn or pulling
cotton.

And as an educator for forty-one years, I always felt the excitement of that first day back in class. There was a sort of magic about it, and although most of the magic had worn off by the second day, it continued to come back year after year.

And if there is a teacher reading this, he knows of what I write.

After my first year in a school district on the outskirts of Fort Worth, I landed a position as a Penney’s manager trainee, a job that almost half again the size of my paltry $3900.00 teacher’s salary.

I had thoughts of staying with Penney’s. One of my friends was a trainee also. His dad managed a store in Conroe at a princely income of around $25 thousand.

That folks, was good money back in 1959-60.

But a strange thing happened on the way to the forum—oops, sorry, on the way to financial security.

The first of September rolled around.

What an eerie feeling.

For some reason, about a month before the start of school, I started thinking about what we were going to do that year. Unconsciously, I began laying plans.

Now this was before curriculum guides and politicians’ big noses; before George Bush doubled educational testing with ‘No Child Left Behind’ just after his brother, Neil, got into the educational testing business. (What a strange coincidence, but then seems like politicians and coincidences follow one another. Isn’t that a strange coincidence also?)

I was scheduled for a senior English class, which at that time focused on British literature the first semester and grammar the second.

As appropriate, I gave Penney’s my two weeks notice, and being a compassionate business, they appropriately suggested I just take the two weeks off and rest up.

I protested that I needed the pay, and in their sympathetic manner replied, ‘tough.’
But, I was back in the school business.

Even after forty-one years and more changes than I like to think, the first day always remained magical, exciting.

I’ve witnessed the transition from a bucolic educational system to one loaded with stress for students to achieve higher test scores. And if they don’t, the teachers, the schools are blamed, not the kids, not the parents.

Today’s system is more concerned about helping a youngster build self-esteem than readying him to face the world beyond the comfortable confines of high school. What does your boss pay you for, producing for him or feeling good about yourself?

That’s what I’m talking about.

When my daughters were in high school, a teacher friend asked if they were going out for the drill team. He was surprised when I replied they were staying in the high school band.

“But,” he said. “Drill team will be the highlight of their lives.”

“If being on a drill team is the highlight of someone’s life, they don’t have much ambition or any goals,” I told him.

The importance of education is just that, education and skills that give each youngster a chance in a world that is changing by the day.

Every year, kids will return to school, and every year, that first day magic will be there.

I miss it.


rconwell@gt.rr.com
http://www.kentconwell.blogspot.com/
www.goodreads.com/author/show/13557.Kent_Conwell
www.amazon.com/-/e/B001JPCK26

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Rick Perry, PPP


A couple weeks back, our own Rick Perry, PPP, (Professional Politician for President) tossed his Stetson in the ring for the top honcho of the country.

I don’t know how far he’ll go. I’ve no idea if he’ll even get the Republican nomination, and if he does, I have no idea how he’ll fare against Jimmy Carter the Second.

I’ve never met the man, but those who have say he is very charismatic. I don’t know about that, but I met Bush once at a Workforce Commission reception in Port Arthur. I can testify that guy is charismatic. Maybe not real smart, but—well, magnetic is a good word.

I did vote for Bush. Unfortunately, he left the country in worse financial condition than he received it. Despite partisan efforts to ignore the fact, Clinton did leave us a surplus.

Of course, Bush was hit with a couple wars, which does cost a little more than an afternoon movie and burgers. And then he came up with a couple unfounded initiatives, a stimulus and Medicare drugs, that stuck us deeper in the hole.

As even the most fanatic of Republicans must admit, he, despite the reasons, started digging this hole of debt, and then the bizarre policies of Obama dug the hole even deeper and much faster.

Can Rick Perry solve our problems?

He hasn’t solved Texas’ deficit, but he won’t demean our country as the current POTUS. He won’t kowtow to other countries.

But will he solve our problems?

Much was made about his August Prayer conference, but the fact is in the last eight or nine years, he earned $2.68 million and gave only $14 thousand to religious organizations. That is about one-half percent of his income while average Americans donated 1.2 percent. And they call him an ‘evangelical’ candidate?

Excuse my cynicism, but I’ve got a nagging feeling the Reliant Stadium Prayer thing was more political than religious.

And then five or six years back, he tried to ramrod through the I-35 Trans-Texas Corridor that would have displaced thousands of farmers and ranchers, taking from them hundreds of thousands of acres at distressed priced. Citizens protested so vehemently that the project was dropped last year.

A couple years later, he came up with an executive order to vaccinate all sixth grade girls in the state against cervical cancer without parental consent. Oh yes, and the vaccine came from Merck, which was represented at the time by Perry’s former Chief-of-Staff. Coincidence? Not hardly.

(You know why Perry, Obama, and others use the executive order, don’t you? It is a underhanded way to sneak a lousy idea around a legislature or congress that won’t go along with it.)

What about the Texas budget?

When Anne Richards left office, Texas had a surplus. George W and Rick Perry took us into the dizzying heights of 27 billion dollar shortfall.

While railing against federal waste and stimulus, Perry used the 6.4 billion of Obama’s stimulus money to help balance the last two Texas budgets. Oh, yeah. Almost forgot. Texas is paying higher taxes since he became governor.

I don’t have to tell you how hot it has been this summer, but Texas under Perry is holding on to millions of dollars slated to aid thousands of low-income and elderly folks pay for electricity.

The Dallas Morning News said Texas has collected $130 million to help those unlucky Texans to cool their homes, but has actually provided only $28 million, half of what they were providing ten years ago.

Why?

The budget shortfall--that he helped bring about. (tlk about Obama-Bush clone)
There’s a lot of political rhetoric out there, but here is truthful example of how Perry and politicians of both parties are kicking the unfortunate and old folks in the teeth.

Now, I didn’t know this, but according to the Beaumont Enterprise, in 2004 and 2006, Perry gave Countrywide Mutual $20 million to create 7500 jobs in Texas by 2010 or repay $834 for every job less than the agreed up total.

They failed, repaying Texas $6.04 million. Still, Countrywide came out with a tidy $13.9 million profit.

The flip side of that is that each job Countrywide created cost the Texas taxpayer $2,666.

It appears to me like many politicians, Rick Perry plays loose and careless with tax money.

Let me give you another example. When the governor’s mansion burned, Texas was about $11 billion in the hole. Since then, he has spent over $600,000 in public money to rent a sprawling estate in the hills outside of Austin.

Now, I wouldn’t want our governor to live in shack while the mansion is being rebuilt, but $600,000 is outrageous.

Considering the guy presently in the Oval Office, Perry might fit right in as president.

At least, we’d have him out of the state.

But then, we’d have Dewhurst.


rconwell@gt.rr.com
http://www.kentconwell.blogspot.com/
www.goodreads.com/author/show/13557.Kent_Conwell
www.amazon.com/-/e/B001JPCK26