Monday, November 30, 2009

The "Stuck on Stupid" Dictionary #21



Yes here we are once again (and so soon), adding yet more words to the lexicon of local terms more commonly known here in Toledo as the "Stuck on Stupid Dictionary". 




Now for those of you who have somehow managed to miss previous postings in this area (Shame on you, now go back and read all of the postings under the title of SOS, stuck on stupid, or dictionary.), the SOS dictionary is a reference guide to terms which nominally mean something to the rest of the English speaking world, but appear to mean something entirely different to us in Toledo and Northwest Ohio. 


Politics: 
1. A form of choosing leaders unique to human civilizations which often appears to be neither human nor civilized. 
2. A human behavior, the definition of which comes fro the Greek poly (more than one or many) and ticks (blood sucking insects), which more than seems to describe it.  


Politician: 
1. An individual who runs for elected office at any level of government. 
2. An individual who should be treated with caution and mistrust until they prove themselves worthy otherwise, having already established at least one instance of bad behavior in having run for elected office. (see Career Politician) 


Career Politician: 
1. An individual who spends a lifetime running for elected office at any level of government. (see Politician) 
2. An individual who should be treated with caution, mistrust, and most probably disdain; having already established that they have no real interest in holding down a legitimate job in life. 
3. A subhuman creature deserving no more respect than a common thief, an idiot relative, or a borrowing in-law (the behavior of which they seem to exhibit simultaneously); who should never be voted for and only spoken to when absolutely necessary, such speech being always done with one's hand clasped firmly over one's wallet.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Global Warming: The Conspiracy Conspiracy

It appears that in spite of Al Gore telling us that the debate on man-caused global warming is over, that this is in fact far from the case. As the furor over recently released emails from the University of East Anglia's Climate Research Unit shows (the definitive source of information on the subject), what we may know about the debate is that instead it has been being manipulated. 


As reported this week the the Wall Street Journal, it appears that there has been a systematic effort to suppress, refute, and repudiate any dissenting views other than that global warming is man-caused. When the scientists (and I use this term sarcastically) disagreed with an opinion not their own, they simply denied publishing access in prestigious publications to it. When the publication was not under their "peer-reviewed" control, they dismissed the publication itself. 


Having now had their nefarious goals and means revealed to the unwashed public, the claim is simply that the emails in question are being taken out of context or misunderstood. There is also a claim that the timing of the release of these emails, right before the Copenhagen Climate Conference scheduled for December 6-18, is more than suspicious. 


Even granting this to be the case however, none of the people in question are denying that the emails released are false or fabricated, or that they did not in fact say the things in these emails. 


For myself, I find it interesting this the most fascinating part of the story. A group which has been systematically acting as a Conspiracy to suppress any dissenting opinion and ridicule any dissent of its position is now crying "Conspiracy" when their own is revealed. Rather than actively defend what are apparently manufactured and predetermined results to the data gathered, they simply claim that the other guys isn't playing fair. I have never believed that the scientific debate on global warming is over, simply because I believe that the debate on no question of science can ever truly be over. We still debate Relativity, The Big Bang, and Evolution; in spite of the overwhelming evidence to some degree of truth in each. 


That is the job of science; to constantly question the established views, to debate the facts and their interpretations, and to reject any theory which does not explain all of the facts as we currently know them. Global Warming appears to be the scientific exception to the rule, with such debate squelched hardly before being uttered. 


In fact, I believe that there has been no such treatment of a scientific questioning since the Catholic Church's aggressive suppression of the growing body of knowledge of astronomy in the 1600's. (Though perhaps a Church of Global Warming was founded while I wasn't looking.) 


So how now do we view man-caused global warming? Is it fact? One can hardly say so when those who believe in it are forced to cook the data. Is it a failed theory? Perhaps, but there is much information yet to be revealed and who knows how real scientific debate will interpret them once they are. At the very least however, I think that we can safely say now that the debate is far from over, and that any action taken on the basis of the current "published understanding of the facts" may be premature. I think that we can also say that the current defense of the theory by the CRU is little more than a Conspiracy Conspiracy.



Saturday, November 28, 2009

White Snow / Black Friday

There was a chance of snow predicted for Toledo this weekend (which never really materialized), which might perhaps have prevented at least a few of the psychotic "early shoppers" from camping out in front of the doors of stores in waiting for the best deals. Wal-Mart, having already experienced the litigation involved with such practices in the past, chose a different path and has been open long hours since Thanksgiving to offer early Christmas discounts. 


However, anyone who was expecting a piece from me today decrying the rampant consumerism that has taken over Christmas will be sorely disappointed. No, much like the plot for the movie "The Day After Tomorrow", I consider this simply one more catastrophe of human origin that must be overcome by strength of character and treated simply as simply an annual test of survival. In fact I applaud this year, those with enough optimism to race out to the stores to spend at a time when the income of so many is in jeopardy. I salute those out there attempting to support the banking industry through credit card fees, interest payments, or check processing fees (and I'm sure that those evil banking executives that you were bitching about a couple of weeks ago are doing likewise). I congratulate those of you bolstering our position in the world economy as consumers by buying products undoubtedly manufactured in foreign countries (especially those of you who are union members and only were recently crying the blues about "buying American cars")


Perhaps those of you spending money like it was going out of style (something that I guess you learned from the government?) simply have a understanding of economics greater than my own. They say after all, that rampant inflation is right around the corner, caused by the government printing presses that have been running non-stop for some time now. 


So perhaps blowing all of your money now is simply your way of exercising what you see as your best hedge against such inflation. Perhaps instead, you know already of the next stage of government interference in banking; understanding that it likely includes credit card interest rate reduction regulation (after all, the current high interest rates have to rank up there with extortion or loan sharking). This would mean that you need have no fear of the massive balances to your credit cards and that there is little need to worry that like the government, you will be hard-pressed to keep up with even the interest payments on your debt. Perhaps you simply believe that we are just around the corner from the next Government Stimulus Package, and your spending is merely being done in anticipation of future government payback (which of course, you will also be paying for)


Regardless of the reasons however, you will undoubtedly be contributing to better retail numbers for the government to report upon in the coming days and weeks (and good news in any kind of economic report is something that a government can always use). You will likewise have proved beyond a doubt that hope springs eternal in the heart of the American consumer (regardless of the stark reality that they face)


You will also by the way, have done wonders for the Chinese economy, where I don't believe that Christmas is much celebrated. I suspect however, that while there will be grand coverage of the crowds in the malls, and much anticipation in the retail sales numbers; that there will be far fewer shoppers out there fighting for bargains than last year. 


Common Sense seems to be making a rare and unscheduled appearance among the American people, and profligate spending appears to be a behavior limited to Congress these days. The white of snow may be little more than wishful thinking in parts around the country this weekend, but I fear that the color in this year's "Black Friday" may more clearly represent that of mourning for Christmas retail sales.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

TFP Column: A Christmas Message for Toledo

With this being a holiday week, the Toledo Free Press is by convenience and necessity out early. Far from being a problem however, this simply provides you something to peruse while fighting the urge to nod off from the tryptophan in the turkey and the performance of the Lions against the Packers. 


It will also allow you to read the Christmas Message that I put together for this week's edition. While it's not the last that holiday message that I will probably pen for the year, it is I believe, appropriate as a compliment to Michael Miller's piece from last week. 


There's a lot of great information as well, about all things of a holiday nature going on in the Glass City. So turn off the Macy's parade (it's nothing but a bunch of Broadway show promotion these days anyway), stop picking at the turkey and the pies, and spend a little time catching up on the really important things going on in the Toledo Free Press.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

The "Stuck on Stupid" Dictionary #20

Yes here we are once again, adding yet more words to the lexicon of local terms more commonly known here in Toledo as the "Stuck on Stupid Dictionary". 






Now for those of you who have somehow managed to miss previous postings in this area (shame on you, now go back and read all of the postings under the title of dictionary), the SOS dictionary is a reference guide to terms which nominally mean something to the rest of the English speaking world, but appear to mean something entirely different to us in Toledo and Northwest Ohio. 


Legislative Dysfunction: 
1. A legislative process which misfires during execution or fails to reach satisfactory conclusion (similar to erectile dysfunction) because: it is unnecessary to begin with, provides no additional safety to the public, and cannot reasonably be enforced. 
2. Recently passed legislation by the Toledo City Council on "safely passing bicycles" and "texting while driving".

Thanksgiving Banned (?)

This another is a series of public service posts on holidays here in the United States. The first of these, Ban Halloween, sought to warn the public of the dangers on both sides of the problem to a bunch of costume wearing candy beggars. Today however, we take on a more serious issue, Thanksgiving.


Warning: Be aware that considerable irony and sarcasm will follow! 


Thanksgiving is the holiday traditionally celebrated on the fourth Thursday in November. It commemorates three days of feasting by early colonists to this country who after nine weeks of voyaging from Plymouth, England ended up in Plymouth, Massachusetts (coincidence, I think not). Having barely survived their first winter in this new land, they chose to celebrate that following fall. It is, in fact a tradition never repeated by them after the original gathering in 1621. 


Of course basing a holiday on a celebration by old white people seems doomed on the face of it, especially when one considers the recent treatment of our Founding Fathers. Neither can I find any great need to celebrate the traditions of the same people who gave us the sham trials and witch burnings in Salem, MA only some 70 years later. If this were not enough, Thanksgiving was in fact considered a religious holiday, its original purpose allowing these colonists to thank GOD for bringing them through the previous winter. What's more, the religious nature of this celebration involved thanking only a Christian God; ignoring the practices of any other religion. 


How anyone can therefore consider having a national holiday with religious overtones that ignores the cultural and religious diversity that has become so dear to the ruling elite is simply beyond me? Consider if you will as well, that while neighboring Native Americans (the Waupanoag tribe) were the architects of this colony's survival and were invited to that original celebration; that these same Native Americans were, like most others in this country, later chased from their homes and the greater part of their lands by the very greedy colonists that they saved ... hardly something to commemorate with pride. 


If this typical treatment by a European, white, invading population were not enough to see this practice ended once and for all, consider if you will the treatment of Turkeys as the centerpiece of the menu on this so-called day of thanksgiving. Turkeys, for those of you who didn't know, were once very close to being the national symbol of the United States. They even found support in this effort by Founding Father Benjamin Franklin, the eagle being considered little more than a glorified vulture by this early patriot. While perhaps not the brightest of birds, the turkey nevertheless can offer a great display and a substance that it produces (tryptophan), induces the need to sleep in humans. (Come to think of it, turkeys seem a lot like politicians, don't they?) How then can any holiday be celebrated by the murder, butchering, and consumption of such a national icon (turkeys I mean, not politicians)


And they are not alone! Along with turkey, many families in this country will serve goose, duck, and even ham (another political reference?) at these celebratory meals. How can PETA stand idly by as thousands of our animal friends are disposed of (probably inhumanely) in the name of a holiday devoted to "thanks" in this country? Is this in fact how we choose to celebrate the bounty of Mother Nature? 


The only redeeming thing that this holiday may in fact offer is that it was created as a national holiday in 1863 by progressive political hero President Abraham Lincoln. Other than that, the only thing that it has going for it is its stimulation of a depressed airline industry as the largest travel holiday of the year, that it provides a platform for the non-stop watching of parades and football games on television (providing yet further opportunity for laziness and gluttony), and of course that it is followed by "Black Friday" the traditional opening day of Christmas consumerism. 


We must therefore ask ourselves; what in the end is the Thanksgiving holiday in this country about? It appears to this writer as nothing more than a celebration of racism, gluttony (not to mention obesity), and the murder of our fellow creatures on the planet. As such, it has no place in the caring, politically correct, and progressive society that we apparently long to become. And so I say to those of you choosing to celebrate tomorrow with family and friends, gathering around a table to once more give thanks in 2009 (a year that may have less reasons than many to do so):


"Save me one of those drumsticks, will ya?"



Happy Thanksgiving

Monday, November 23, 2009

Glenn Beck & Communism



Those of you who listen to the Glenn Beck syndicated radio show or the FoxNews television show have no doubt noticed Mr. Beck's investigations of the political leaning of some of those advising our current president. 


Without going into the specifics of those accused or the proof uncovered by him of the principles espoused by these government officials and presidential friends , I must say that it has become a regular part of both shows. Now in the spirit of full disclosure, I freely admit to regularly listening to Glenn's radio program on 1370 WSPD here in Toledo. I am unable to get the television program however, as the level of cable that I choose to subscribe to does not carry the FoxNews cable station. I enjoy the program for its information, its entertainment, and its humor. 


It occurred to me however that some may in turn question Glenn's possible Communist ties. Shocking as it may seem, Glenn may have laid himself open to such an accusation based on the publication of his best seller from last year "The Christmas Sweater", which I myself wrote about in a column for the Toledo Free Press


Knowing that many pundits like to ignore the content of books by conservative authors in favor of demagoguery base on appearance, I fear that such a charge may have some basis in fact. After all, considering this piece of literature strictly on the size of the tome and the pigment of its cover, this work by Mr. Beck could be considered a: "Little Red Book". I'm just sayin ...

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Someone To Watch Over Me (Revisited)

The following is a re-edited and expanded version of a post that I did back in April of 2008. On this, the second anniversary of my father's passing, I decided that the subject was well worth revisiting. I submit it once more for your consideration.

We sometimes discover faith and inspiration in our lives in the strangest of places. I discovered it once again in my life during a conversation with my mother on nothing initially more interesting or important than lawn care.

Now in order to understand what must seem to you a rather bizarre connection, I must first explain to you that it was on this day in 2007 that my father passed away. His health had been failing for some time; but in spite of the difficulty in attempting to doing so, he liked to take part (or at least to feel that he was taking part) in the maintenance of his home and yard. Such care had always been a source of great joy and pride for him, and he simply refused give up the his interest in it.


When his medical condition had finally reached a point that he was tethered to an oxygen system full time, he was (however reluctantly) forced to surrender some level of control in this process. By then such care involved my mtierh trimming the edges of the yard with a self-driven push mower. My nephew Patrick, who had required the requisite skills for operation of the riding mower some time since, took on the responsibilities for the bulk of the yard. This system of lawn care had been going on for a couple of years and was by now a well established routine, with my father still participating in a limited supervisory and equipment maintenance role.

Spring followed fall and winter, but came early to Kansas City in the year following his passing; and what had once been the dry and dormant lawns of my parent's neighborhood were quickly blessed with warm weather and rain in 2008. The lawn, unaware and uncaring of the changes in the household, did what it was supposed to do and grew both quickly and luxuriously. Before anyone had quite realized it, this grass was in terrible need of a trim.

Taking the bull by the horns, my mother stepped forward to perform her part of the required labors by trimming around the edges of the yard. Patrick likewise soon appeared to take on his already well-rehearsed role in lawn care. This is where the real story begins.

Now the riding mower had not been run since the leaf pick up of that previous fall, and Patrick was unsure of the proper procedures to get it started after its abbreviated winter slumber, as his grandfather had normally instructed him in such situations. Stymied, he questioned my mother for potential answers to his problem with a potentially stubborn piece of lawn care equipment.
Now my mother is a talented women, but basic lawn mower mechanics has never been a part of those many abilities. The riding mower had in fact always intimidated her, and she had long ago made it quite clear that she wanted nothing to do with it (hence Patrick's responsibilities). It was therefore not surprising that she had no advice to offer him.

In an amazingly short period of time however, the full-throated roar of that mower was heard from the garage, and Patrick was soon after making his way around the yard. He completed his work on the yard that day with remarkable alacrity and departed immediately afterward, without a word to his grandmother before leaving. His hasty departure and lack of communication went without comment at the time. They were however, duly explained a couple of days later when my sister called to fill my mother in on the "rest of the story".
It seems that as Patrick stood in the garage, scratching his head over a solution to his dilemma and completely at a loss as to how to proceed, clearly heard the voice my father from right next to him say, "Pull the choke out and start the mower".

Never questioning it for a moment, he simply did as he was told, and the mower immediately caught. Though a suitable resolution to his problem had been achieved, Patrick was more than a little distressed over how he had reached it. Worried that he might be asked for an explanation and fearing my mother's sensitivity to the issue, he kept silent, working with dispatch and departing as quickly as he was able. It was only some time later in the comfort of home and parents, that he was finally able to relate what had occurred.

Now anyone who knew my father knew that he was never a terribly spiritual person publicly, and was normally unresponsive when questioned about his thoughts on such things. He was however a good husband, a loving parent and grandparent, and most importantly ... a well recognized master of all things technical. There were very few things that he set his mind to repairing or improving in which he was not capable of achieving success (as his many years and recognized expertise in the printing industry showed).

He was also someone who was never afraid to share that mastery of all things mechanical with his spouse and offspring of every generation at every available opportunity (many times without even being asked). It therefore seems only fitting (and hardly surprising), that he should find a way to make his presence felt in such a situation when the need arose.

As for my personal take on the story, knowing my nephew Patrick to be a young gentleman of quality and good character, I choose simply take him at his word. If he believes that it happened this way, then I believe it as well. I am also quite happy and relieved to believe that my father is out there somewhere keeping an eye on the family that he so loved (not that I ever really doubted it).

I for one, can use all of the help that I can get...

Friday, November 20, 2009

TFP Column: Spirit of Competition



Once again this week, I am off on tear regarding the way things are going in this country in the Toledo Free Press (big surprise, huh). This week, I am looking at our President's visit to our trade partners (and creditors) in the Far East with a little piece on "The Spirit of Competition" that you might find worth the effort to read. 


This being the weekend of the Michigan / Ohio State football game (order chosen alphabetically and not for any other reason), there is lots to read while prepping for the big game on Saturday. 


Of course if you want to know anything about what's really going on in Toledo from the Mayor to the Dog Warden (both much in the news these days), the only place to find it is in the TFP.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Trying Terrorists in NYC

I don't want to make it seem that I am accusing Attorney General Eric Holder of political machinations in attempting to bring accused 9/11 terrorist Khalid Sheik Mohammed and other alleged terrorists to trial in New York City (though in fact I might be), but I can't help but wonder if the nation's top prosecutor sees this as a no-lose situation for both himself and the Administration politically. 


If he achieves a guilty verdict in this trial, he can claim that his choices (and that of the Administration) were correct all along and take full credit for a job well done on both the local and world stage. If he fails to achieve such a verdict in spite of his department's herculean efforts, he can blame the failed result on the treatment and questioning of these accused terrorists under the rules of interrogation sanctioned by the Bush Administration before he went to trial. 


In other words ladies and gentlemen: "Heads I win. Tails you lose." I am sure that such ideas were given little or no consideration by the Administration in the decision to bring these self-avowed warriors of radical Muslim philosophy to trial in civilian court. [sarcasm off] 


What may have been given some serious consideration however, is that these trials are likely to captivate the media and the electorate for years to come. They will therefore provide a ready source of fodder for 24 hour cable news networks, political pundits, and high profile out-of-work lawyers who will analyze the coming judicial process in the most minute and annoying detail for all of us. 


They will likewise provide an abundant source of daily media distractions to a self-styled ruling elite that has already proved itself as savvy as any before it in the legerdemain of day-to-day media managed politics. I don't want to put a tin foil hat on here people, but I believe that it would be foolish not to consider this decision as yet another tool of distraction for an Administration that has already proven that it has a decidedly Progressive agenda that may well need one from time to time.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Toledo Is #1 In Ohio

The numbers are in and Toledo is the #1 ... worst metropolitan area in creating and sustaining economic growth in Ohio, at least according to the Milken Institute / Greenstreet Real Estate Partners Best Performing Cities Index

Dropping four places in this list from last year's showing of 194, Toledo came in at 198 of the top 200 cities in the 2009 survey, surpassing other Ohio cities: Youngstown (193), Canton (190), Cleveland (186), Dayton (183), and Akron (167) in its failures; in a survey whose numbers were calculated based on job growth and wage and salary levels, as well as other criteria. No Ohio city was ranked in the top 100 in this survey (though Columbus came in at 108), and in fact only Detroit and Flint, MI ranked worse in the survey conducted nationally every year. (Something to aspire to perhaps?) 

Governor Strickland must be very proud to have so many of Ohio's cities near the bottom of the list on this survey. Perhaps the plan to delay the reduction of state income taxes will have an even greater impact on next year's effort and group Ohio cities closer together near the bottom. 

Locally one has to be thinking. Our current Mayor, Carlton S. Finkbeiner has been holding press conferences almost every day lately in the hopes of once and for all establishing his legacy of leadership in Toledo. With the release of these numbers, perhaps he has yet another reason to do so, and an accomplishment he can truly call his own ...

It's Not My Party, But I'll Cry If I Want To


Being a Constitutional Conservative leaves one often in a rather lonely place politically. While I have registered with the Libertarian Party as that closest to my thinking, even many of their positions do not come into alignment with my own. This apparently outside-of-the-box positioning however leads me with some things that I would like to say (or more accurately whine) about where political parties are concerned today in the US:

__________

Listen, I have nothing against Democrats and in fact considered myself one in my youth. (Hey, I did grow up in Chicago after all, where being Republican was damned near illegal.) I believe however, that you have been led astray by a well educated, self seeking, power elite that have taken over your party's message. 

Where once you were the party of the little guy, trying to make sure that everyone in this country got a fair chance at achieving their piece of the American Dream; you now appear to have been led down an egalitarian path. The focus is no longer on equal opportunity, but on equal results. Your support of the union member has now evolved into a support of the union leadership. Intent on attacking big business and the bloated rich that you demonize in this country (in spite of the fact that they pay the government's bills), your leadership now appears oblivious to big unions and the bloated fringe interests of environmental concerns and animal rights. 

Who in fact is more evil these days, GM or the UAW? (Oh wait, they're the same thing.) Who is more onerous and odorous, Exxon or the Sierra Club? Who cares less about animals than they do about the exercise of power within government, the beef industry or PETA?

The truth of the matter is that any large organization, on either side of a given issue, is prone to egregious influencing and extortion of elected officials. Look around you with unclouded eyes., you may find that you have been led astray. 
 
__________

As for Republicans, I have nothing against you either, and in fact considered myself one in my youth (a bit later on, of course). I believe however, that you have been led astray by a well educated, self seeking, power elite that have taken over your party's message (hmmm, that sounds vaguely familiar)

You have abandoned your core beliefs in fiscal responsibility and small government, choosing instead to become the party of "somewhat less than the Democrats". Once the supporter of Capitalism and a free market-based economy, you now attempt to defend corporate bailouts, increased government handouts, and limited wealth redistribution. Far from being a party with a clearly defined message, you are now being told by your own leadership to accept ideals and concepts which were previously anathema to your principles in the name of creating a "big tent". Even worse, you allow your party of opposition to define what that big tent should be. Circuses have big tents my friends, but that doesn't mean that we will vote for the clowns. 

__________

Libertarians, you are nearest and dearest to my heart these days; but you have taken the concept of a political party to a level of disorganization that almost reaches an art form. This lack of basic organization skills makes your fund raising difficult and hinders your inclusion on the broader field of American politics. 

Far from trying to change this however, you glory in the internal anarchy and take pride in your self-imposed fringe status. In the name of such worthy causes as limited government and the 2nd Amendment, you have seemingly taken under your wing every anti-government cause on the planet. In the hope of increasing your power base, you embrace fringe groups that often scare your staunchest supporters and allow others to demonize the very freedoms that you seek as "wacky". 

As a Constitutional Conservative, I simply ask that each of the political parties of this government follow the dictates of the document that defines it and limits its powers. The Constitution, contrary to the belief of some, was not created as an 'organic' document and is not subject to the opinions of either the Executive or Legislative branches of the government or the whims of politicians, as seems far too often to be the case these days. Even the Supreme Court is limited in the interpretive oversight that it has on this document (though there are times when you would be hard-pressed to convince them of that.) 

It is the framework that supports the freedoms that protect us, and should be treated with appropriate respect as a consequence. I ask only that the branches federal government simply follow the guidelines in this document as set out by the Founding Fathers; and if they find them too limiting and wish to in some way change them, that they do so through the Constitutional processes provided rather than through creative interpretation. (For those of you who have not read this document lately, they call these Amendments.) 

I truly believe in these dangerous days that none of the political parties (and few individuals except perhaps, some of the more well-informed groups that came out of the Tea Parties) limit themselves to this simple rule-of-thumb, and that makes me rather sad. 

It's a terrible thing in this country to discover that the elected leaders who took an oath to "preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States" have mostly abandoned it either through willful neglect or carefully orchestrated deceit.

So I cry out against each of you; Democrat, Republican, and yes even Libertarian as I paraphrase the lyric: "It's not my party, but I'll cry if I want to". And as the line continues from this song from my youth, "You would cry to if it happened to you." My friends, it is ... 

(By the way, did you know that the expression "rule of thumb" came from English common law, wherein a man was allowed to legally beat his wife, so long as the stick used was less thick than his thumb. Perhaps the practice is worth reviving, only this time for use on recalcitrant politicians.)
 

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Happy Birthday Mom


I try not to use my self-appointed position at the Just Blowing Smoke blog for personal reasons any more than current crop of Congressional Democrats use theirs to abuse the American people with onerous and odorous legislation (you can see how wide open that this leaves the field however). The birthday of one's mother however, should be able to be seen by almost anyone as an exception worthy of note. 

And exception is exactly the word that should be used where this woman is concerned, for the exceptional indeed is the Matriarch of our family. I don't recall that my siblings and I were not a terribly unruly bunch growing up, but I am sure that we presented our fair share of parental challenges; even to a stay-at-home mom. These were probably made a bit made more interesting for her however by the fact that our father worked nights for the lion's share of our upbringing and traveled extensively afterward, leaving her the keeper of both love and discipline, a position to which she was eminently suited. 

This situation also left the lioness protecting the cubs (pun intended) from threats both foreign and domestic, and protect them she did. While some days found her breaking up the natural squabbling (fairly frequent as I remember it) that occur when there are four siblings under the same roof, others saw her wading into a crowd of teenagers far beyond her weight class to restore order to an unruly mob. Some found her acting as referee during the the occasional youthful shouting matches at home, while others saw here performing the same function at her sons' hockey games (though not officially, of course). In the end she gained the respect of those around her in all of these situations, and her advice was always listened to (if they knew what was good for them), and was often heeded (even the refs finally broke down and gave her a striped shirt)

An avid sports fan during her years in Chicago, she expanded her fanatical devotion to the Cubs, Bears, and Blackhawks to include the Chief and the Royals after moving to Kansas City, and later still to the KU Jayhawks. With all of these teams, somehow she is able to keep player rosters, performance levels, personal quirks, and character flaws on each player of every one of those teams straight in her head; with a perfect recollection of detail at the ready. She does this as well with a family of truly Catholic proportions spread throughout the country. 

Confronted with a name or a face, she is immediately able to place them by parents, siblings, children of their own, city of residence, and time since last seen. (A trait which she unfortunately somehow failed to pass on, at least to this offspring.) I am always astounded to see relations approach to say hi to "Aunt Sis" (a nickname picked up long ago), never expecting to be recognized or remembered; only to have her reveal minute detail of life to each person, while asking the most exacting questions about their current lives. 

So on this day of days, I choose to remember and thank someone who keeps so many of us constantly in her memory. For today Ruth Higgins reaches the all too young age of 80, a number notable for her fulfillment of a promise made long ago to seal her undying loyalty to the Chicago Cubs with a tattoo on her right shoulder (Winnie is smiling mom). The undying loyalty, love, and respect of this son however (and I am sure far more of the clan) are today reserved instead for this woman, who deserves oh so much more than any of us can show her.

Happy Birthday Mom! 
 

Saturday, November 14, 2009

And The Progressive Hits Just Keep On Comin'

Having attained the apparently necessary age and self-appointed title of Curmudgeon, one tends to look at things with a cynical eye and a jaded perspective. Most of the things that everyone talks about as being "the latest thing" appear to one in my position of simply being yet another example of "everything old is new again". 

Take for example the current Administration and Congress. While there appear to be some firsts seen with this current crop of politicians, much of what they say and do today is little more than ideological retreads. President Obama claims to be the first African-American president, but did after all have a Caucasian mother. Perhaps that instead makes him the first bi-racial president, though I suspect that other presidents in our history might have had some interesting pedigrees that they were unwilling to talk about. I guess a person can be who they decide they are however. 

President Obama is claimed by many of his sycophants to be the greatest uniter as a president since Abraham Lincoln, but Lincoln's election divided this country as it had never been divided before or since ... in Civil War. Obama and Lincoln do both come from Illinois however, and show a similarity views where the federal government is concerned; with both attempting to draw increasing power both to it and to the executive branch. (One could also point out that Lincoln was a great builder of railroads, and that the latest Congress appears to be a runaway train.) 

Beginning perhaps in the second term of the Bush years, it seems intent on legislating and spending in a way that has embarrassed drunken sailors. They have raised the debt ceiling (a rather curious term, isn't it?) more times than Visa has raised my credit limit in recent years, and to a worse purpose. Congress has likewise intruded in an ever increasing way in the personal freedoms of the citizens of this country. But we have seen this before in the "New Deal" of the FDR years and the "Great Society" of LBJ. It's not perhaps a change in philosophy that we are shown here, as much as an increase in the scope and scale of the governmental abuse. 

Money is hard to come by, and many say that it is the fault of this President and this Congress. Inflation also seems right around the corner, and the worth of a dollar may prove much less very quickly, but this too is not far out of our memory. Any of us old enough to have lived through the Carter Administration remember the gas lines, the double digit prime rates, and the fact that no one could afford to borrow money for anything. 

There is a lot of talk about organizations like the United Nations, the G20 and others will exert influence that will lead inevitably to a "World Currency" and a "World Government". We have seen this before as well, with Woodrow Wilson and the attempt to form the League of Nations. Many indeed were crying out over the ceding of our sovereignty then to an organization that we never actually ended up joining. 

In truth, there is a commonality to all of these abuses and the thinking that is behind them. Having done a good bit of reading on this recently (some of it horribly boring, let me tell you), I feel that I can state that all of these efforts show a recurring theme of Progressive thinking. This belief in larger and more onerous government control, in egalitarianism through wealth redistribution, and in a ruling elite of those best suited to leading runs through all of this like a recurring melody. Like the music of Neil Sedaka and Frankie Vali and the Four Seasons (whoops, really dated myself on that reference), Elton John and Billy Joel, or Fergie and Kelly Clarkson; there is a repeating theme to all of it. 

We began to see the shape of this music with the passage of the Stimulus Package, the the bailouts, and the most recent budget. We likewise began to see the shape of that which is to come with health care legislation, cap and trade, and the internet fairness doctrine. And though I find this particular form of music abhorrent (much as I feel about rap music), these are not tunes with which I am unfamiliar. The lyrics change subtly in these Progressive compositions from one generation to the next, and the beat speeds up or slows down as it suits those wishing to dance to the tune of the latest pied piper ... but the Progressive Hits Just Keep On Comin'. 

Friday, November 13, 2009

TFP Column: Saving Money By Spending On Trash

Another weekend, another attempt on my part to provide insight and perspective on the events of the week in the Toledo Free Press. 

Now I'm not the most knowledgeable person where the solid waste department of the city is concerned. Karen Shanahan has done a number of pieces on her blog on the issue, and Jim Harpen has provided some previous insight in an earlier column in the Toledo Free Press. Some of the recent events surrounding the situation caught my attention however, and I decided to put my two cents in (the only inexpensive investment that has been made it appears). 

As you know, I always correctly remind you that there is much more than my limited contribution in the TFP; but this weekend I fear that all reading it will agree with me. Michael Miller has outdone his normally outstanding efforts this week with a special piece that I will not attempt to spoil for you with faint praise. Neither will I specifically mention the many other great articles this week, lest they like I suffer by comparison. 

All of this of course, being the reason that you should take some time this weekend to catch up on what's going on in the Glass City in the Toledo Free Press.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

New City Legislation

On Tuesday, City Council stepped forward to pass new legislation to make it illegal to pass a bicycle without a minimum safe passing distance of at least three feet. Councilman Steve Steel sponsored this legislation, stating after its passage that even though it would very soon become law: - that it was not currently seen as a problem in the city - that it would be difficult to enforce - that it would not of much concern to police - that for the most part, the law would only serve simply on an educational basis (assuming of course that it's not forgotten in the next month)

Perhaps however the real impetus to pass such legislation, much like the rush to pass the texting legislation currently under review, was to allow grandstanding politicians to get ahead of a parade of similar legislation currently under consideration at the state level in so as to appear even more caring to voters. 

Now some of you may remember that I tried to deal with this law, as well as the previously mentioned local texting while driving ordinance under consideration in my proposed TOAD (Toledo Omnibus Auto / Bicycle texting while Driving) legislation last week. Obviously, I was not only unsuccessful in getting these two pieces of legislative nonsense combined, but equally impotent in getting them thrown down to defeat.  

Not to be deterred however, I am seeking to change tactics, seeking a different kind of legislation for Toledo. I now am therefore proposing the Add / Subtract Stupid Laws for Toledo. This legislation, which for simplicity's sake will be dubbed the "ASS Laws for Toledo" will seek to force council to remove one stupid law from the books every time that they add a new stupid law to them. 

My hope is that if we cannot prevent City Council from continuing to pass legislation best used as natural plant fertilizer, that we can at least try to maintain a consistent relative volume of such ignorant pronouncements on the legal books of Toledo. I urge each of you to call or email your district City Council person, and all of the at-large members of council, and urge them to vote for the ASS Laws for Toledo.  

Update: 

It has been brought to my attention that some people may be offended by the acronym used for the proposed landmark legislation that I have put forward. It appears that the word "ASS" can be considered offensive (possibly by those who feel that they could be considered one themselves)

An alternate acronym has therefore been called for, and while I am obviously disappointed after all of the previously expended effort in coming up with this rather clever acronym, in the end I find that the principle of the law itself is more important than the name by which we call it. I have therefore withdrawn any objection to a change (and besides, if just one life is saved ...). As a consequence, please feel free to now use DUMB as the replacement name for this proposed legislation, with this acronym in turn standing for Delete Unnecessary Municipal Bullshit. 

Understanding that words do mean things, I have promised to apologize for any offense that might have been caused to members of City Council for the use of what was apparently considered an offensive acronym if any such elected representative of the city will apologize to me for what I consider the even more egregious offense of the idiotic legislation being debated in City Council when they have more important things to do. 
 

Quote of the Day

"It's not that most politicians want to help you, it's that most politicians simply want to be seen to be helping you that should truly terrify each of us."  
- me

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

And They Called It ... Puppy Love

This week has seen the return to some level of prominence former mayoral candidate and current Lucas County Commissioner Ben Konop. Having taken a rather severe drubbing in September's mayoral primary, Mr Konop seemed to have chosen recently to take a less visible position on topical issues, but no longer. 

Ben has come out strongly in this last week on Lucas County Dog Warden Tom Skeldon and the subject of the number of dogs that are euthanized under his watch in office. Ignoring the fact that a Dog Warden Advisory Committee is currently addressing this very subject in the Dog Warden's office, our youthful commissioner has jumped instead in front of a sham parade being held by the Toledo Blade in calling for Mr Skeldon's removal. 

In this recent awakening, Mr Konop has seen fit not only to attack the dog warden (something that could get him in a lot of trouble if he were a dog and not a county commissioner), but to attack fellow Commissioners Tina Skeldon-Wozniak (whose cousin this dog warden is), and Commissioner Pete Gerken (whose relation will be on City Council and not in the Dog Warden's office)

Appearing more in the paper and in front of the media microphones in the last week than he did in the month leading up to the November elections, he appears to have found this as the next cause de jure to "sink his teeth in". 

Please understand me here. I am and always have been a dog person, and take a dim view of animal mistreatment. I had dogs all through childhood (a childhood which some have said has yet to end) and it has only been my schedule and landlord that have prevented me from ownership in recent years. I likewise believe that every dog that must be put down is a terrible tragedy; and that everything that can be done, should be done to prevent such occurrences. I should also point out that I cannot call myself any great fan of Dog Warden Tom Skeldon, finding his door to door license searches of the past both onerous and self-seeking. 

While believing that this Warden perhaps needs to be "held on a shorter leash" however, I believe that this recent attack is unjustified and little more than self-serving nonsense. I would suggest that if Commissioner Konop would like to be concerned with something of worth, let him be concerned with the safety of Lucas County residents. Instead of manufactured issues, let him seek to do something about the changing level of protection and the drastically changing fees that the Lucas County Sheriff seeks to charge communities around Toledo for such service (a subject on which his silence, and that of his fellow commissioners, has been almost deafening)

If not that worthy goal, let him seek a new level of cooperation with the incoming administration of Toledo Mayor-elect Mike Bell. Man's best friend needs our protection and our help, but not the apparently disingenuous affection shown here by the Blade and Mr Konop. If our commissioners would like to show true affection for these four-legged friends, they will find a ready supporter in me. I will not support however this self-serving, self aggrandizing, self-promoting sham of the emotion shown by these recent outbursts. Far from being a show of true caring, these fraudulent feelings cannot even qualify as ... Puppy Love. 

Happy Veterans Day

Perhaps no greater responsibility do we have in this country than to pay homage to those who have served in defense of the freedom and liberty that we enjoy today. Perhaps no no greater gift have we than the thanks that we offer for that service. 

To those of you who have served in the Army, the Navy, the Marines, the Air Force, and the Coast Guard we tender our love, our respect, and our gratitude for the efforts and sacrifices that you have made. (I have a few things that I would like to share with the moneychangers in this temple of freedom seeking to take advantage of this hallowed day in order to sell us a car, a mattress, or a television set; but I will not dishonor the sacrifice of veterans in this post by placing it here. But as the Irish say, "I've got you in me book!" and will deal with you in an appropriate manner later.)  

Update: 

I have been spending the evening of Veterans Day listening to the soundtrack from the HBO series "Band of Brothers" (also often broadcast these days on the Arts and Entertainment Channel). This was the favorite music of my late father, who was likewise enamored of the series, even though it depicts service in Europe when his was in the Pacific. 

It brings back some truly wonderful memories, both of him and the show. I should also point out that anyone who is not moved by this music, written by Michael Kamen, has no appreciation either of music or of the bond experienced by those who have served in the armed forces. While never being so blessed myself, I can at least share some small part of this experience by listening to the joy, sorrow, and majesty of the human condition embodied in this music. 

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Happy Birthday Marine Corps

Originally formed as two battalions of Continental Marines on this date back in 1775, the United States Marine Corps has continuously and honorably served this country for the last 234 years. 

For those who would like to see some additional information on the "Leathernecks" (a name derived from the leather collar of their uniforms during the Revolutionary War period), you may refer to some previous postings that I have done on the subject of the Corp. 

They include one on the recently opened Marine Corps Museum in Quantico, VA. Another one on the original Marine Barracks (first used in 1801, and one of the few structures in Washington not damaged during the British occupation of Washington in the War of 1812) and the Evening Parade, which I was privileged to witness during a memorable trip with a group of WWII Marine veterans on a trip to that city last year. 

Of course no history of the Corp would be complete without the very special, and to me very personal story of "Lost Battalion", Company A of the 10th Amphibious Tractor Battalion (in which my father served during WWII).

Oorah! 
 

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Harrop Cannot Take A "Principled Stand"

Today's Toledo Blade feature an editorial by syndicated columnist Froma Harrop "Tea Party Points the way to GOP loss in N.Y.". (I found the identical column under a different title here.), decrying the strategy of what she called the "Tea Party wing of the Republican Party" for its lack of success in getting Conservative candidate Douglas Hoffman elected to New York's 23rd district.  

She speaks of a this group condemning a moderate Republican (who seemed far more liberal than moderate to me), having outsiders like Dick Armey and Sarah Palin coming in to support a candidate with similar beliefs, and decrying big government projects like building roads and dredging the St Lawrence river as the reason that Mr Hoffman lost. She likewise calls Mr Hoffman a carpetbagger because he lives outside of the Congressional District. Of course this is typical of left wing journalism these days, which reports only the most convenient 'facts' to bolster a position while ignoring everything else.
  1. The Tea Parties are about conservative thinking, and not necessarily Republican thinking.
  2. If we are to decry the efforts of Sarah Palin and Dick Armey in NY, will similar condemnation be made of President Obama's efforts in the Democratic losses in Virginia and New Jersey?
  3. If Mr Hoffman was a carpetbagger for his residency, was Hilary Clinton likewise one when she first ran for the NY Senate seat, having never lived in the state before standing for election?
  4. Mr Hoffman's effort was his first in politics, a last minute decision, and that of a 3rd party candidate, all of which certainly had serious effect on his chances of winning.
  5. Ms Scozafava, the endorsed Republican candidate was so in tune with the Republican Party that when she dropped out of the race, she endorsed the Democratic candidate.
But all of these issues are beside the point. The mistake that Ms Harrop makes in her rush to judgment is to attack the effort as being by outsiders and the electorate in NY for making a principled stand. Somewhere in her analysis of politics, she seems to have forgotten that there is more to government than the two major political parties. She likewise seems unable to understand that having an elected official who does not believe in the principles that the voters represent serves no purpose, regardless of which party they claim to belong to. 

Mr Hoffman may have lost this election, and there may be one less Republican in the House, but New York voters have not completely lost. The voters of the 23rd District did very well by a candidate who stood for election without party support, but stood instead on conservative principles. This close showing by a last minute candidate should serve as a warning for politicians around the country of the power of those principles. 

There is an upwelling of Conservative thought going on in this country that can quickly turn into a lack of support for a candidate, Republican or Democrat, who believes otherwise. Being a Republican is no longer a guarantee of support from Conservative voters however, unless you believe in Conservative thought (in my case, Constitutionally Conservative thought)

The failure in the 23rd District may not have been the best run campaign in New York, and it was certainly unsuccessful in putting its candidate in office. I consider it a success however, because unlike Ms Harrop, the Hoffman campaign took not a party, but a principled stand. 

Saturday, November 7, 2009

One By One


Halloween is over now. I can tell because stores have taken down the candy and put up the Christmas displays. I recognize it as well because I can now no longer watch all of the cheesy horror movies that were being played back to back on broadcast and cable TV. 

You know the ones that I am talking about. They start with a diverse and often unrelated group of people either finding themselves on or in a house, castle, ship, island, cave, spaceship, etc; usually in search of some unnamed wealth or fame. Once there, they discover that the reward that they were seeking was either unavailable or not all it was cracked up to be and that instead what they are facing a challenge that they neither sought, nor are prepared to deal with. Realizing that their fate may not be what they dreamed of and that the world that they have found themselves in is fraught with danger, they discover that it will take all that they can give merely to survive this experience. Such however, is not to be the case for most. One by one, their frailties and personal foibles are exposed, making them vulnerable to the danger around them. Foolishly failing to recognize that their only strength is in unity both in person and of purpose, they wander about individually and one by one they lose their gamble and their lives to the hazards that surround them.

And in so many of those films, there are likewise those complicit with the evil, searching for purely personal gain as the reward to betrayal of their fellows. They are easily recognizable by their smiling faces and false pronouncements seeking only the safety of all. Almost as evil as that with which they are allied, it is of little surprise when it's discovered that all they seek is the advancement of their own situation. I have often wondered what madness possesses these people to allow themselves to be placed in such positions in the first place (though in some movies, such placement is strictly accidental). I have wondered why once finding themselves in such peril, they treated it with such denial and aplomb; recklessly ignoring the threats to their health, their security, and in fact their very lives. Surely vanity or greed can play a role in the taking such risks, but could any be foolish enough to believe that any reward could be accomplished without real labor and the accompanying risks.

I begin to understand it more these days however. In these heady times of bailout and stimulus, it begins to become more clear. How in these times of government bailout of private industry "too big to fail" can anyone fail to believe in a lack of consequence for bad decisions and hugely inappropriate risk-taking? In this period when legislators rigorously defend those who gambled on both the economy and the housing market to protect themselves from the tragically bad real estate decisions, should we not believe that such risky behavior is justified?

Such is the plot it appears, that we now find ourselves in. It is reality however, where we find ourselves discovering this dangerous challenge. And while some have consciously sought to dare the fates, many others appear to have simply blundered into this world, oblivious to the situation they now find themselves in and uncaring of the consequences. Still others, mostly ordinary people attempting to lead ordinary lives, are only now waking up to the seriousness of the times and the reality of the threat to such an existence.

As in those tired films, the danger seeks to separate us in order to achieve its end. Fearing defeat from a united front, it continually attempts to divide us by race, by religion, by income, and even by opportunity. Seeking to thwart any attempt to come together as either criminal or futile, that danger seeks to keep us at odds with each other to achieve our individual demise. Likewise using the tool of those weakest among us to its own ends, this impending doom continues to make use of such cowards, rascals, and charlatans as put themselves forward for such efforts. Neither effort must be permitted to succeed.

It is time to put an end to this poorly written B-movie plot, time to end this shoddy bit of cinema. We can no longer permit ourselves to be the victims in this tragic melodrama. Time indeed to throw out the villains, bridge the separations, and win back our lives before someone rolls the final credits. For if we do not do so, we will surely find that the evil that many of us so now fear has picked us off one by one.


Friday, November 6, 2009

TFP Column: Election Results In, Voters Lose

Here we are once again with the election behind us and the weekend before us. That means that it's time for another edition of the Toledo Free Press, where you know that I could not keep my two cents out of the mix when it came time to analyze the results. 

I didn't, with this column on my thoughts on the recent choices. 

There is as always, much more of interest in this weekend's effort in the TFP (I was personally taken with Michael Miller's family experience with H1N1). But this weekend's TFP is where you can catch up on everything that happened from the election of 2009 and everything that will be happening in Toledo. 

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Texting Legislation


I have watched from the sidelines long enough, and now feel obligated to step up on something. Legislation to ban texting in automobiles and new safety legislation for cyclists are both being bandied about Toledo City Council. It is time for Council step forward, since "even if one life is saved, it will be worth it". 

I am therefore proposing that Mr. Steel and Mr. Collins combine their efforts into the Toledo Omnibus Auto / Bicycle texting while Driving Legislation TOAD.

TOAD would allow no texting while driving a car, riding a bicycle, or passing a bicycle at a safe distance while driving a car. [OK, sarcasm off] 

I actually do think that they should combine these odorous pieces of nonsense so that we can more efficiently dispense with them. Besides, really lame legislation requires a really neat name to see it through. Using this one will allow us to say that anyone supporting this bit of natural fertilizer is, "Kissing the TOAD". 

I would suggest however, that Council drop this "media friendly" crap and put their minds to areas where they might be put to better use, filling holes in the city budget or the streets of Toledo come to mind.