Monday, November 27, 2006

Another Homeowners Association Issue

"God creates men, but they choose each other." ~ Niccolo Machiavelli

Sometime back, I posted an entry about a woman who was being fined for having a sign posted on her house that showed her support of the troops. As it turned out, it had nothing to do with her political views, and everything to do with homeowners association rules. She violated the rules of her homeowners association, which is why I will never be a member of a homeowner's association.

Upon reading that initial story, I was concerned that she was being persecuted for supporting the troops, and if that was indeed the case, I would consider it a violation of the free speech clause in our Constitution.

Now, from the associated press comes a similar story, but this time a homeowners association is objecting to a Christmas wreath in the shape of a peace sign.

I suppose, given the content of this story I should call it a holiday wreath instead of a Christmas wreath.

The homeowners association, in this case, insists the homeowner is not being persecuted for being against the "war in Iraq", but is simply in violation of homeowners association rules.

But, just to show everyone that I am consistent in my beliefs, I believe the homeowners association is wrong in the larger sense that the homeowner is free to express himself anyway he wants to in accordance with the constitution.

Even if the sentiment is anti-American, which in this case, arguably, isn't.

On the other hand, I also believe that when a homeowner signs a contract to abide by the rules of a homeowners association, (even if they are stupid rules) it is generally assumed that the said homeowner has read and understood the rules and agreed with them before signing the agreement.

If so, the homeowners association is perfectly within it's rights to determine what displays on the homeowner's home are appropriate and which are not.

I said essentially the same when the display was a patriotic one.

I really believe homeowners associations are a violation of the Constitution. Any association or individual that stifles anyone's free speech rights is violating the Constitution.

Saturday, November 25, 2006

A Thanksgiving Lesson Learned

"Human beings, by changing the inner attitudes of their minds, can change the outer aspects of their lives." ~ William James

Since I moved to Virginia, all of my time has been taken up with fixing up this house. It has three bedrooms, 2 baths, a formal dining room and a large family room with a fireplace.

Quite a change for me, moving out of a one room apartment into this place!

Anyway, the house had been vacant for three years when we started working on it and it was a mess. I can't describe what it looked like adequately, but I will give you a hint:

For a while, it's only occupant was a stray cat. (Peeyooo)

It also had been vacated hurriedly, and most of the stuff that was in the house (and refrigerator) three years ago was still in the house. We took hundreds of trash bags full of unusable junk and spoiled food out of the house while working on it. Well, maybe not hundreds, but I bet I'm close.

Anyway, except for one bedroom, it is livable and looking good once again. That one bedroom's ceiling had caved in sometime in the last three years. We haven't had it repaired yet.

Hopefully that is next on the agenda.

So, for Thanksgiving, we cleaned and detailed the house getting it ready for our first house guests.

My 17 year old son, who considers himself above manual labor, was drafted into helping. (against his will, of course)

I was stressing, under the gun to get everything shipshape before the guests arrived, and I was barking orders and complaining and yelling at the kid for not working harder and with more attention to detail.

Eventually, we got to the point where we had only finishing touches left, and I instructed my son to vacuum off the upholstery in the den while I vacuumed the living room rug. His was a chore that shouldn't take more than 5 minutes at the most.

After vacuuming the rug, I turned off the vacuum cleaner and to my surprise and consternation, I could still hear the other vacuum running in the other room. I looked toward the source of the noise, and found my son standing in the middle of the room, shirtless, with a shop vac hose suctioned to his abdomen, and laughing.

At that precise moment I learned a valuable lesson.

Here I was, rushing around all stressed and worried that all the work might not get done in time, and he was taking a little extra time to have a little fun!

As I wound the cord up on my Eureka, I silently chastised myself for letting the preparation for the holiday take precedence over the enjoyment of the holiday.

With a sigh, I sat down in a recliner and took a break. If we didn't get everything perfect, so what? We could still have an enjoyable holiday with our friends and family.

The kitchen floor didn't get mopped before the guest showed up and you know what?

They didn't seem to even notice.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

That Was The President

"Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country." --John F. Kennedy

43 years ago today, The President of the United States was assasinated.

That Was the President, that Was the Man
(Phil Ochs)

The bullets of the false revenge have struck us once again,
As the angry seas have struck upon the sand,
And it seems as though a friendless world has lost itself a friend,
That was the president, and that was the man.

I still can see him smiling there and waving to the crowd,
As he drove through the music of the band,
And never even knowing no more time would be allowed,
Not for the president, and not for the man.

Here's a memory to share, here's a memory to save,
Of the sudden early ending of command,
Yet a part of you, a part of me is buried in his grave,
That was the president, and that was the man.

Everything he might've done and all he could've been,
Was proven by the troubled traitor's hand,
For what other death could wound the hearts of so many men,
That was the president, and that was the man.

The glory that was Lincoln's never died when he was slain,
It's been carried over time and time again,
And to the list of honor you may list another name,
That was the president, and that was the man.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Explain This To Me, Please

"It could probably be shown by facts and figures that there is no distinctly native American criminal class except Congress." ~ Mark Twain

The GOP body is barely cold and already the Democrats are making noises that threatens Americans, in my humble opinion.

Representative Charles Rangel (D) New York, has proposed re-instating the draft to bolster our forces in Iraq.

Now, I admit I have been out of the loop of late, so maybe I forgot, but it seems to me the Democrats were the ones that were accusing Republicans of planning on re-instating the draft. It seems to me the Democrats were against the idea at the time. Maybe they were just hoping to scare the American people into voting them into office ostensibly to keep that from happening.

It also seems to me that the Republicans denied that was even conceivable.

The Democrats were supposed to be the ones that were against the draft, weren't they?

Also, while I'm on the subject, Democrats are talking once again, (or is that continually?) about increasing the minimum wage by as much as two dollars an hour.

Now, I'm no expert on economics. Lord knows I can't even handle my own finances, but it seems logical to me that raising the minimum wage is a fast track to a drastic rise in inflation. This is how I see it:

Raising the minimum wage is supposed to enable the minimum wage earners in the country to afford those goods and services they previously couldn't afford.

Companies are forced to raise their employees salaries by two dollars an hour. Consequently, in order to keep their profit margin constant, they have no choice but to raise the prices on goods and services.

Am I right so far?

So, under that scenario, minimum wage workers now make an additional $80.00 a week, and goods and services that were once unaffordable have been raised in prices up to where they are once again unaffordable to those same minimum wage workers.

So then Congress will have to meet again and approve another wage increase to make those goods and services affordable again. But then, (consarn it) employers have to raise prices again.

I can go on, with Congress raising the minimum wage and employers raising prices to cover the loss in profits ad infinitum, but in the end what the whole thing does is cause massive inflation and a crippling of our economy, not to mention all the things that go with inflation like wholesale layoffs, and small businesses all over going bankrupt.

But, as I say, I'm no expert about these things.

I'm sure some loyal Democrats will be happy to explain to me how I am all wrong on this.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Murtha Loses

"Suppose you were an idiot and suppose you were a member of Congress. But I repeat myself." ~ Mark Twain

Well, now that Jack Murtha didn't get chosen to be 2nd in line to San Fran Nan, maybe he will go ahead and take the $50,000.00 from the FBI.

Or maybe he can get a loan from his brother, the Defense Contractor. After all, Murtha arranged for him to get the defense contracts in the first place.

He owes him.

Monday, November 13, 2006

No Worries, Mate!

"Democracy means government by discussion, but it is only effective if you can stop people talking." ~ Clement Atlee

The other day, I created a post painting a doomsday portrayal of what may happen when the Democrats take over the House and the Senate.

It was extreme, even fanciful. What I meant was, according to what the Democrats have been saying, all these things and more would happen.

In reality, I predict none of these things will happen. Instead of surrender in Iraq, higher taxes, the purging of God from all facets of American life, etc, I predict a lot of talk. But little action.

Why? Because that's the only things that the Democrats can do. Talk. Talk. Talk. But little, if any action. Listen to their rhetoric sometime. They can solve all the problems in America with talk, and negotiation.

They think they can talk the Islamo-fascists into being nice. (because negotiation with people you can't negotiate with has worked so well in the past.)

Then there will be the inevitable endless discussions about what is the best way to raise taxes, and get free medical care for all Americans, and on and on and on.

In the end they will have accomplished next to nothing.

Because the Democrats only plan is to talk about what they want to do.

And, after the American people see what the Democrats are capable (or incapable) of doing, they will happily vote the Republicans back into the majority.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Meet Doc Johnson

"All great things are simple, and many can be expressed in single words: freedom, justice, honor, duty, mercy, hope." ~ Sir Winston Churchill

Meet Robert P (Doc) Johnson, USN CPO Ret. "Doc" is my wife's father. Last week he celebrated his 84th birthday. He has no hearing in his left ear and only 5% hearing in his right ear. His wife, Virginia, died a little over a year ago of breast cancer, ending a marriage of 58 years. His depression was so severe that he rarely talked to anyone until recently.

Recently he began talking about his experiences in World War II. I have had the privilege of being the one to whom he chose to break his silence. He is hard to understand and oftentimes his mind wanders off topic, but his memory is sharp as a tack. The following is part of what I have been able to piece together from our conversation, which is usually one sided because he has difficulty hearing my questions, with the help of some research on the internet:

Doc joined the Navy sometime around 1939 at the age of 17. He had 10 brothers, and he was one of eight who served in America's armed forces at the same time during WWII. Incredibly, at least to me, all but one survived the war.

Doc served on several ships in different capacities, including the USS Colhoun, a 1060-ton Wickes class destroyer, in the Pacific theatre during World War II.

The Colhoun was built in 1919 at the close of World War I, as a destroyer. When the expansion of World War II in Europe and growing tension with Japan required enlarging the active fleet, Colhoun was taken to the Norfolk Navy Yard in June 1940 and converted to a high-speed transport. With the new hull number APD-2, she recommissioned in December 1940 for operations and training in the Atlantic and Caribbean in connection with the development of an enhanced amphibious warfare capability.

U.S.S. Colhoun

Colhoun arrived in the south Pacific in July 1942 and helped land U.S. Marines on Tulagi on 7-8 August, at the opening of the long and bloody Guadalcanal Campaign. She continued on transport and patrol service during the first weeks of that operation. On 30 August 1942, while off Guadalcanal, she was targeted by Japanese bombers. Hit several times, USS Colhoun soon sank off Lunga Point with the loss of 51 crewmembers. 18 were wounded, (out of approximately 149 crewmen) including Robert "Doc" Johnson. Doc was blown completely off the ship and into the water.

Doc's memory is unclear of how long he was actually in the water, (he was, after all, in shock at the time) but he remembers that his clothes were blown off of him and when he and a few shipmates were rescued, and except for his undershorts, he was totally naked. He received some severe powder burns on his hands and arms, (the scars are still visible) but otherwise was unharmed physically.

He went on to serve the United States until his retirement. His daughter, my wife, never knew Doc received the purple heart for his injuries until I asked him specifically about any decorations he received for his service. If he received any other medals, he didn't say. The purple heart was the only one he admits to earning. He may have more. He won't say.

I talk about Doc Johnson and his service to our country not because anything he did was particularly special. At least to the most Americans. No one in my family ever served in the service with any distinction.

I, myself, was judged physically unfit for military service when I enlisted and was given the draft deferment known as 4-F. I was not allowed to serve.

So Robert Johnson is the first actual combat veteran I have ever personally gotten "up close and personal" with, to borrow a phrase. The singular thing that strikes me about Doc is his humbleness regarding his role.

He says, "I don't see anything special about what we did in the war, we were just doing our jobs".

And that attitude is perhaps what makes Doc Johnson and hundreds of other veterans special, and why we honor them on this day. Without the unquestioning willingness to do their duty, and the understanding of his responsibility, in spite of danger and overwhelming odds, The United States of America might not exist as the most powerful nation on earth.

And the fact that this country is the most powerful nation of Earth is a testament to the courage and the diligence of the humble American servicemen and women who we honor on this day, Veterans day.

I don't think we can say thank you nearly enough to all of them, but once again, Thank you, Veterans.

Friday, November 10, 2006

What I've Been Thinking About

"Politics is supposed to be the second oldest profession. I have come to realize that it bears a very close resemblance to the first." ~ Ronald Reagan

So, Lincoln Chaffee is considering a move from the Republican party to the Democratic party.

There's a shocker for you!

Considering that through the years Mr. Chaffee has acted more like a Democrat than half of the Democrats in the party, I'd say this move was a little late in coming. Good riddance as far as I'm concerned. He has been an Albatross around the Republican Party's neck far too long.

Bon voyage, Mr. Chaffee, and don't let the door hit you on the ass on your way out.

I don't understand the rationale behind the resignation of Donald Rumsfeld. Seems to me the timing of this announcement did the Bush administration no favors at all. If the Democrats weren't already riding a high, Rumsfeld has to go and sweeten the victory for them. I don't get it.

He has been under a relentless barrage of unwarranted and undeserved attacks since becoming Secretary of Defense and has handled them better than any Democrat would, refusing to attack back or use the Democrats favorite argument of using ad hominen attacks to distract the American people from the real issue.

So why now? Acquiescence?

I think it is a bad move by the Bush administration to ask for his resignation, particularly at this time.

This will undoubtedly be seen as another coup for the Democrats. I see this as a lose/lose situation at this point.

I have heard that the reason that Rummy is stepping down now is to boost Bush's approval ratings and avoid a lame duck Presidency, but if that is true, I would be very disappointed with Bush. I thought he had more heart and integrity than that. I certainly hope there is a more valid reason than just to boost the Presidents popularity. That sounds more like something a Democrat would do.

Well, like I said, I don't understand this move by Rumsfeld. I suppose it's politics.

And politics really is a dirty business.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

The Death Of Reason

"Be careful that victories do not carry the seed of future defeats." ~ Ralph W. Sockman

Unlike many of my Conservative blogger peers, I am not going to assign blame for the Republican Party's stunning loss in yesterdays mid-term elections. I'm not even going to look for someone or something to blame.

The American voters have made their choice. The Democrats have won.

God help us.

I have always made it a point to try not to gloat when my team wins. I try very hard not to allow myself to be smug when it appears my predictions have borne out to be accurate. I don't laugh in the faces of foes I have bested. I try to carry myself with grace when victorious.

The reason for this attempt at humility?

Well, in less than a month I will turn 55 years old. In my 55 years on this planet, I have learned several lessons, most of them the hard way. One of them is this:

Egg on the face is not only unattractive. It stings.

However, I know without a doubt, that the Liberal and Democrat commentators that so often offer their comments on my blog will not ascribe to that particular self defensive philosophy. I know they will soon appear here and gloat to their hearts content.

I will do my utmost to bear these commenters with grace and dignity. I will try very hard not to allow myself to be offended.

With that firmly in mind, I console myself with the possibility that sometime in the next two years or so, these same Liberal commentators, who now are feeling so smug and giddy with the excitement of victory, will, in the middle of some cold dark night, wake up soaked in a cold sweat with the realization that their votes helped to destroy, or at least marginalize, what was once the greatest country on the face of the Earth.

They will realize with horror, that the once strong economy is in the dumps. The stock market has plummeted, taxes are so high that even the most financially comfortable among us may not be able to afford them, inflation and unemployment has skyrocketed, crime has increased sharply, terrorists are freely streaming over our open borders and attacking America with brazen regularity. Possibly even with nuclear weapons.

No longer will they hear the stirring strains of "God Bless America" or "The Star Spangled Banner" before a ball game. The phrase, "In God we trust" will no longer be emblazoned on American currency. In fact, if the Democrats have their way, we may be spending Euro dollars to pay the additional governmental fees with which we will be inundated.

They will be risking fines or imprisonment if they get caught worshipping in the church of their choice, unless the church of their choice is a mosque.

They will escape to same sex partners to avoid paying the increased marriage penalty which will only be imposed on a marriage between one man and one woman.

And so on.

Extreme? Perhaps.

But if some of the newly elected Senators and Congressmen succeed in enacting the legislation that they have in the past suggested may be the best course for America, that scenario may not be so improbable.

A few days ago, I sat down and began hammering out a blog entry about the campaign rhetoric being espoused through the various campaign ads in the media. The premise was that they are all promising a change in Washington if elected. Both Republican and Democrat.

My Father used to say, "If it aint broke, don't fix it."

In my humble opinion, I don't see what changes are needed in Washington. The economy is stronger than it has been in decades. The unemployment rate is the lowest in history. The stock market averages are setting new records every week. Taxes are low, We have at least some semblance of security in our country and are working toward making it stronger. We are making steady progress in the war on terror.

We haven't had a terrorist attack in our country since 9/11/2001.

What needs to be changed?

Well, maybe Government spending could be decreased, but other than that, I think we are doing pretty good.

"If it aint broke, don't fix it".

Then I lost my internet connection, lost the entire entry, and due to my schedule, I didn't have time to rewrite it, so it was never posted.

Incoming Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi, proclaimed last night, "The Democrats are ready to lead us in a new direction."

What direction is that? Backward? As far as I can see, America was headed in the right direction already. If we change direction, where will we end up?

So, I can no longer say, "If it aint broke, don't fix it".

Because now, it is broke.