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A house of ill repute and a Minuteman . . .

Minutemen were members of the American colonial militia during the American Revolutionary War with England. Modern minutemen have been in the news recently, ordinary citizens who are working on the Mexican border monitoring immigration, businesses and government operations in an effort to help stem the tide of illegal immigrants, smugglers and illegal substances flowing into our country. Click here for the official site of the Minuteman Project.

And now just for fun here’s a bit of levity, a somewhat different definition of a minuteman:

Minuteman: A customer that double-parks in front of a house of ill repute.

A special note: Visitors familiar with my blog will undoubtedly notice and perhaps question the brevity of this posting. I have been chastised for the length of my musings, chastisements including terms such as overblown, overlong, verbose, childish, inane and other terms, up to and including ridiculous. The chastisement I hold dearest to my heart is a simple comment—and simple is the operative word—that was posted to my dissertation on Fox News’ Harris Faulkner.

The comment was: I think you are a boob.

That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

Postscript: Click here for my essay on Fox News’ anchor Harris Faulkner—trust me, the posting is worth viewing—oops, I meant to say the posting is worth reading.

 
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Posted by on May 31, 2011 in Humor, Uncategorized

 

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Supposed has only two syllables, not three—got it?

Supposed has only two syllables, not three—got it?

The world is in turmoil, and our country is currently in the midst of an upheaval caused by a never-ending battle waged by conservatives on one side and on the other side liberals, NOW, communists, fascists, Muslims, progressives, Nazis, abolitionists, various ethnic and racial minorities including blacks and Hispanics, many of the Jewish persuasion, unions, gays, and those that are vertically challenged—short people.

I have, at great length over a considerable period of time, closely observed and analyzed the current problems in the world, problems such as the revolutions underway in the Middle East and in Ohio, Wisconsin, Indiana and potentially in every state not governed by a conservative, and the wars in Afghanistan, Pakistan and Iraq.

Yes, Iraq—anyone that believes the war in Iraq is over is taking the proverbial head in the sand stance attributed to the ostrich, or better still, everyone that believes the war is over has their heads up their collective—sorry, the rest of that phrase escapes me. People in Iraq continue to die by the dozens from explosives-laden vests worn and detonated by morons anxious to meet the seventy-two virgins promised by their religion—die by the dozens has a nice alliterative ring, don’t you think?

At this point I must digress in order to inform my viewers, in the unlikely event that they are unaware that there are only 72 virgins available in the heavenly beyond, that it is not simply a matter of first come, first served, because all arrivals are served—or serviced, so to speak—equally. The same 72 are used by all, but it is written that regardless of the frequency with which those ladies are ravished, they remain chaste—ain’t that a hoot!

I have also considered the plethora of medical problems that plague mankind, problems such as malaria, HIV, AIDS and ingrown toenails, and class warfare and nature’s calamities such as tornados, tsunamis, earthquakes, floods, mudslides, forest fires and the plight of the Snail Darter and the Blind Salamander and the host of other threatened fauna and flora species in our country and across the globe, including Atractosteus spatula calico magna, the snaggle-toothed alligator gar found only in southern states, primarily Mississippi—okay, okay, I admit that I made up the snaggle-toothed part—oh, okay, I made up the entire name—well, most of it anyway.

Having given so much consideration to so many problems, I have selected one, and only one, to discuss on WordPress. It’s one that I can discuss with certainty, and perhaps in some way, in some measure, change the course of that problem and relieve at least one of the many adverse conditions that plague civilization, specifically our supposedly civilized English-speaking nations—please note the four-syllable construction of the word supposedly—I will explain that construction in the next paragraph. The following statement explains the problem I have with the way many people pronounce supposed: The word has only two syllables—not three!

Only two syllables but many, perhaps most, talking heads on television, whether guests or hosts, pronounce the word sup-pos-ed with three syllables. Those people are supposedly well educated, erudite even—at this point please note that the adverb form of the verb suppose has four syllables—sup pos ed ly—but that construction is not a problem—everyone gets that one right.

Many of those people pronouncing the word supposed with three syllables are attorneys, graduates of ivy league universities, many with PHDs, high ranking government officials whether elected or appointed, priests, teachers and school administrators and a multitude of others from every walk of life, people that emulate the pronunciation of the word by people they admire, believing that if they use that pronunciation it must be right, coming from such a supposedly erudite group—and once again there’s that four-syllable construction of the word.

In my survey of the pronunciation of the word by talking heads on cable television, I found those folks on Fox News to be the most frequent offenders, including the gaggle of attorneys that appear on that channel. That’s a real mystery for me—all of them certainly have at least one college degree, and many have several. I will, grudgingly, give Glenn Beck a pass on mispronunciation of supposed because he is not a graduate of any so-called higher institution of learning.

In previous posts I have mentioned a lady that I have known for many years, a lady for whom English is a second language. Her native language will become apparent by my saying that she pronounced the English letter I as an E, thus the term nit picker came across as neet peeker—I suppose it could have been worse in some other foreign language, coming across as neat pecker, for example, or perhaps as gnat pecker.

I mention that lady only because there is a slight possibility that one or more of my viewers may consider me to be nit picking in my effort to educate the public to the correct pronunciation of the word supposed when used as an adjective, as in the term the supposed murderer, or the supposed philanderer, etc.

I am neither neet peeking nor nit picking—my efforts in this venue are similar to the ever ongoing search for the Holy Grail, the vessel from which Jesus drank at the Last Supper, and comparable to the search for the Golden Fleece, the fleece of a golden-haired winged ram that was the offspring of the sea god Poseidon, the fleece that was so long and so arduously sought by Jason and his band of Argonauts.

The same people that pronounce the word supposed with three syllables also pronounce the two-syllable word alleged with three syllables, as in al-ledge-ed. I suppose I should make that a separate post, but I won’t bother—it wouldn’t make any difference anyway. May the Grand Protector of Syllables forgive them—I won’t!

That’s it—that’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

 

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Comments on “A letter from a Union soldier, 1861 . . .”

I recently received an e-mail from my nephew in Mississippi that included a copy of a letter written by a Union soldier on the eve of a battle early in the War Between the States. Click here to read that soldier’s final written words, beautifully written in a fashion that is largely lost to us in this day and age. My posting of the letter garnered a comment from a reader, a comment to which I responded at some length.

This is the reader’s comment:

I was educated in the British system and for a long time, the Civil war meant either the War of the Roses or Cromwell’s war. It was as an adult that I started to understand our own Civil War. It is a sad thing the young man did not survive, consigning his small children to the very horrors of an orphaned existence. That said, I have always been struck by how beautifully young men wrote 150 years ago.

My response to that comment follows:

Thanks for visiting and thanks for the comment. Your observation that the written word was beautifully constructed 150 years ago necessarily invites comparison with today’s pitifully penned letters. Cursive writing is a lost art, soon to be consigned to the graves of history, along with Egyptian hieroglyphics and prehistoric cave drawings.

Our children are not learning penmanship. At best, they learn the art of printing letters, then graduate from there to thumbing letters and numbers on digital devices and clicking on an infinitesimally huge host of pictorial characters that represent thoughts, locations, ideas and emotions, expressing themselves silently without leaving any sort of footprints for the future, other than those captured and held in digital form.

Should the unthinkable occur—nuclear war with the resulting loss worldwide of the atomic movement of electrons, neutrons and protons through electrical circuits, whether land based or hand held—without access to that method of communication mankind will eventually regress to its original system of grunts, groans, hand signals and facial contortions to communicate, and millenniums later will probably advance from there to crudely drawn pictorial representations on rocks and on cliff sides and in various caves around the globe—that is, of course, if anyone remains after the holocaust of nuclear war. Civilization is by far the worst for the deficiency in communication wrought by binary bits.

And finally, just to wrap up this response to your comment, I will quote an unknown contributor to our language:

What goes around, comes around.

That astute observation, obscured in the ancient mists of time, may be reversed without any loss of its meaning, namely, What comes around, goes around, a truism equal to another obscure saying:

There is nothing new under the sun.

It’s useless to Google that affirmation—there are endless variations that effectively say the same thing, whether or not shown on the Internet. Somewhere on our planet, probably penned on a cave wall or on a stone buried in the rubble of some ancient civilization, there is undoubtedly a series of identical crude pictures or symbols. That series ends and continues with unrelated pictures or symbols, and then centuries later, perhaps millenniums later, the original series is repeated.

And even that is not the origin of that contribution to our language. It was undoubtedly expressed in the grunts, groans, hand signals and facial contortions that were used to communicate with others of the human species, and even before humans appeared was expressed by the physical appearance and the sounds and poses adopted by non-humans, the so-called lower orders of animals.

That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

 
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Posted by on January 6, 2011 in civil war, death, Family

 

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A letter from a Union soldier, 1861 . . .

I received the following e-mail from my nephew in Mississippi, the nephew that toils lovingly and highly successfully in his chosen profession of designing and renovating churches of various denominations. The e-mail included a copy of a letter written by a Union soldier on the eve of a battle early in the War Between the States—I refuse to refer to it as a civil war—there was not a trace of civility in that bitter conflict. The letter was untitled and is reproduced in its entirety following my nephew’s e-mail, exactly as I received it.

Note: Letters to and about Janie can be found here, here, here, here, here, here and here. My not-so-humble opinion is that all are worthy of being read—I wrote them and published them to commemorate Janie’s life and to serve as a reminder to all that life is fleeting—in the words of British poet Robert Herrick (1591-1674), Gather ye rosebuds while ye may, Old Time is still a-flying. Click on that excerpt to read the entire poem and more about Janie.

This is the e-mail I received from my nephew:

Uncle Mike,

Your most recent posts, your letters to Janie, have reminded me of a letter I learned about from a public television series done by Ken Burns. The series documented some of the history of the American Civil War. Specifically, the program included parts of a letter written by a Union soldier who later became a casualty of that war. Although the letter was written before his death, the spirit of the letter, for me, transcends life and death. I believe your letters do the same. A copy of the text of the letter is attached.

Larry

This is the Union soldier’s letter to his wife, written on the eve of battle:

July the 14th, 1861
Washington DC

My very dear Sarah:

The indications are very strong that we shall move in a few days—perhaps tomorrow. Lest I should not be able to write you again, I feel impelled to write lines that may fall under your eye when I shall be no more.

Our movement may be one of a few days duration and full of pleasure—and it may be one of severe conflict and death to me. Not my will, but thine 0 God, be done. If it is necessary that I should fall on the battlefield for my country, I am ready. I have no misgivings about, or lack of confidence in, the cause in which I am engaged, and my courage does not halt or falter. I know how strongly American Civilization now leans upon the triumph of the Government, and how great a debt we owe to those who went before us through the blood and suffering of the Revolution. And I am willing—perfectly willing—to lay down all my joys in this life, to help maintain this Government, and to pay that debt.

But, my dear wife, when I know that with my own joys I lay down nearly all of yours, and replace them in this life with cares and sorrows—when, after having eaten for long years the bitter fruit of orphanage myself, I must offer it as their only sustenance to my dear little children—is it weak or dishonorable, while the banner of my purpose floats calmly and proudly in the breeze, that my unbounded love for you, my darling wife and children, should struggle in fierce, though useless, contest with my love of country?

I cannot describe to you my feelings on this calm summer night, when two thousand men are sleeping around me, many of them enjoying the last, perhaps, before that of death—and I, suspicious that Death is creeping behind me with his fatal dart, am communing with God, my country, and thee.

I have sought most closely and diligently, and often in my breast, for a wrong motive in thus hazarding the happiness of those I loved and I could not find one. A pure love of my country and of the principles have often advocated before the people and “the name of honor that I love more than I fear death” have called upon me, and I have obeyed.

Sarah, my love for you is deathless, it seems to bind me to you with mighty cables that nothing but Omnipotence could break; and yet my love of Country comes over me like a strong wind and bears me irresistibly on with all these chains to the battlefield.

The memories of the blissful moments I have spent with you come creeping over me, and I feel most gratified to God and to you that I have enjoyed them so long. And hard it is for me to give them up and burn to ashes the hopes of future years, when God willing, we might still have lived and loved together and seen our sons grow up to honorable manhood around us. I have, I know, but few and small claims upon Divine Providence, but something whispers to me—perhaps it is the wafted prayer of my little Edgar —-that I shall return to my loved ones unharmed. If I do not, my dear Sarah, never forget how much I love you, and when my last breath escapes me on the battlefield, it will whisper your name.

Forgive my many faults, and the many pains I have caused you. How thoughtless and foolish I have oftentimes been! How gladly would I wash out with my tears every little spot upon your happiness, and struggle with all the misfortune of this world, to shield you and my children from harm. But I cannot. I must watch you from the spirit land and hover near you, while you buffet the storms with your precious little freight, and wait with sad patience till we meet to part no more.

But, O Sarah! If the dead can come back to this earth and flit unseen around those they loved, I shall always be near you; in the garish day and in the darkest night – amidst your happiest scenes and gloomiest hours—always, always; and if there be a soft breeze upon your cheek, it shall be my breath; or the cool air fans your throbbing temple, it shall be my spirit passing by.

Sarah, do not mourn me dead; think I am gone and wait for thee, for we shall meet again.

As for my little boys, they will grow as I have done, and never know a father’s love and care. Little Willie is too young to remember me long, and my blue eyed Edgar will keep my frolics with him among the dimmest memories of his childhood. Sarah, I have unlimited confidence in your maternal care and your development of their characters. Tell my two mothers his and hers I call God’s blessing upon them. O Sarah, I wait for you there! Come to me, and lead thither my children.

Sullivan

A special note: The soldier, Sullivan, did not survive the battle—he died, but his letter and his spirit live on.

That’s the story of my nephew’s e-mail and the letter written by a Union soldier, and I’m sticking to it.

 
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Posted by on January 4, 2011 in civil war, death, Family, marriage, Military

 

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Revisited: Coming out of the shadows . . .

Coming out of the shadows . . .

During the 18 months that I have been blogging on WordPress I have largely avoided postings of a political bent, whether a bend to the right or a bend to the left. I have not been entirely successful, but I feel that I’ve kept my preferences fairly in control. This posting will, in one fell swoop, cancel every effort I have made to remain neutral. With this posting I am coming out of the shadows and into the bright light of day. I am going to share my feelings about the influx of foreigners across our southern border, and contribute a suggestion that will bring that influx to a halt.

By some estimates, an average of 10,000 illegal aliens—I refuse to call them immigrants—successfully penetrate our southern border each day—10,000 come in and stay in—they do not return home, and are added to the rolls for the greatest entitlements given by any government on earth. These penetrations include drug smugglers and people smugglers as well as ordinary folks seeking a better life for themselves and their families.

Do the math. That’s 3,650,000 per year, and in the coming 10 years that total will be 36,500,000 added to the estimated 20,000,000 already in the United States for a total of more than 56,000,000. I realize these are estimates, but they are in the ball park—perhaps fewer or perhaps more.

A frightening picture—how can our economy withstand such an onslaught? It can’t—this so-called illegal immigration will bankrupt the nation, an absolute given when combined with the current administration’s stimulus packages, entitlement programs and related actions. It can be stopped. Read on.

The solution is to build a wall, but not necessarily a fence or an opaque wall such as was built by East Berliners. Not that such a wall is ineffective—it was highly effective. It stood for some 28 years and in all those years a total of only 5,075 people successfully crossed to the West, an average of 181 people per year—181 successful illegal immigrants, so to speak. Among the unsuccessful attempts were 200 people that died in their efforts to immigrate illegally from East to West.

Mexico as a  sovereign nation is lost. That nation is lost to the drug cartels and nothing short of intervention by the United States military could return Mexico to the people, its rightful owners. That, of course, will never happen. Eventually there will be a cartel candidate for the Mexican presidency and the Mexican citizens will handily elect that candidate, if for no reason other than fear of the consequences if that candidate is repudiated.

Mexico is out of control. Its army and its state and local police are powerless to stop the cartels, no matter how many millions of dollars the US donates to their efforts. People are dying in the streets on both sides of the border, bullets are flying across the border, people have died on both sides of the border and many more will die in the future. That situation will only escalate unless we take action to prevent it now, or at least slow its momentum.

We don’t need a wall. Illegal aliens and drug smugglers will go over, around, under or through any wall we build, regardless of its height and regardless of its composition. As a law enforcement officer with the US Customs Service over a period of 26 years I have been to every official border crossing between Brownsville, Texas and San Ysidro, California and to many points in between those border crossings, and I know that a wall will not stop the infiltration of illegals, whether immigrants or drug smugglers.

Our border with Mexico is 2000 miles in length. That’s 5 280 feet per mile. With three feet to the yard, one mile has 1,760 yards. A hopelessly obsolete 30-30 caliber rifle, the efficiency and effectiveness of which is eclipsed by modern military rifles, will kill a deer at a range of 200 yards. If we divide 1,760 yards per mile by 400 yards, we arrive at a figure of 400. If in that mile we wished to kill every deer that crossed an invisible line we would need only 44 sharpshooters, spaced 400 yards apart and armed with a rusty old 30-30 caliber hunting rifle—pretty soon the deer would get the message and avoid crossing that line between hunters.

Obviously if we wanted to kill every deer along a 2000-mile line that would require a force of some 88,000 hunters. However, if we armed hunters with .50 BMG rifles, the weapons used by military sniper units, weapons with a range of more than a half-mile, one shooter could cover one mile, a half mile in each direction, and we would then need only 2,000 hunters, one for each mile of our 2,000-mile border and an additional 4,000 officers in order to cover three 8-hour shifts per day—far fewer than, just for example, the number of border patrol officers presently on the southern border. We would also need extra officers to cover for days off, sick days, days on annual leave and training requirements, but the total would still be far fewer than the current staff.

Got it? Six thousand sharpshooters from a vantage point created by towers—heated and air conditioned with porta-potties, of course, and its occupants armed with .50 BMG rifles and furnished with infra-red night-vision goggles, binoculars, radios, MREs for sustenance, plenty of water and lots of .50 BMG ammunition, and every deer that attempted to cross that invisible line between sharpshooters would not cross it, but would instead remain on that line. It’s rational to believe that all the other deer would soon wise up to the danger and not come near one of the towers.

Mind you, I have nothing against deer, but the situation on our border with Mexico reminds me of the joke about the papa alligator eating all but one or two of the million eggs or so laid by the mama alligator. The punch line of that joke is that if it were not for the papa alligator we would be up to our posteriors in alligators, just as we will eventually up to that level with those that we erroneously refer to as undocumented immigrants, of which they are neither—they are illegal aliens, and we need to deal with them now, sooner rather than later.

That’s my story and I’m sticking to it!

 
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Posted by on December 31, 2010 in Uncategorized

 

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Listen up, Prius owners . . .

Listen up, Prius owners . . .

Your noiseless ride in your Toyoto hybrid is coming to an end. If I understand it correctly there is now a law, fashioned by Congress and signed by the president, that will force automakers to equip hybrid autos and all-electric autos with additional sound-making equipment. The sound must reach at least 20 decibels, the minimum level of noise that is required to alert bicycle riders and pedestrians, particularly blind pedestrians, to an oncoming vehicle and enable them to take evasive action. Whether the law will be retroactively applied to older models  of such autos is unknown, but the demand by the blind will probably mandate the application of the law to all models—I mean, like, hey, you know, an older model Prius will dispatch the blind and the hard-of-hearing just as effectively as the latest models off the assembly line.

My first thought when I learned about the law was of the bicycles. Unless a bike rider produces at least 20 decibels of sound then pedestrians, blind or not, are endangered by bicyclists. When I was a kid we made a tremendous amount of noise on our bikes with clothespins and plastic playing cards. The clothespins held the cards in place, inserted between the wheel spokes—with a card in both wheels we probably exceeded the requirement for a minimum of 20 decibels. I can state definitely that our system worked because I never—not even once—ran into or over a blind pedestrian or a sighted person—never  even  came close! While bikes can easily be configured to produce the required decibels, what can be devised for fast-moving pedestrians? And what about joggers? Both could conceivably endanger blind pedestrians unless they produce the required decibels of sound.

Where does it stop? Will the mindless drones in Congress require whistling shoes, perhaps, or mandate that pedestrians and joggers carry some sort of noisemaker to warn any blind persons in their vicinity? Our government could require fast walkers and joggers to carry any one of numerous party noisemakers to warn the blind and the hard-of-hearing pedestrians.

Perhaps we could follow ancient China’s practice of having someone run ahead setting off fireworks to let people know an important person is coming behind them. Should we embrace that practice, we could hire some of our unemployed to run ahead of silent automobiles with the firecrackers—this would effectively warn any blind persons and hard-of-hearing pedestrians that may be loitering in the middle of the street.

This intrusion by the federal government into the auto industry, a business about which it does not know doodly-squat, is just the latest effort to expand its control over American businesses. The federal tentacles are reaching into virtually all areas of our economy, with government’s intrusion into the health industry the most visible and the most egregious threat to our economy and our well being. We should demand the right to utilize free social services on the same scale as undocumented immigrants—100 percent including professional, medical, educational, recreational and procreational.

The feds are endangering our society and our American way of life. MacDonald’s fries are endangered, school lunches are endangered, soda drinks are endangered and all references to Christianity are endangered, and the list goes on interminably. I have no doubt that at sometime in the near future the feds will place restrictions on our use of toilet tissue, probably restricting us to a maximum number of squares for clean-up purposes. Just imagine how many trees would be saved should we be restricted to one square of tissue—just imagine that!

In closing, I freely acknowledge that mine is a voice crying in the wilderness, virtually unheard and probably ignored even if heard, but one must press on. One must do what one can do, in amounts however infinitesimally small, to retain and enhance our right to flatten blind pedestrians and hard-of-hearing pedestrians, to pollute our atmosphere, to denude our forests, to poison our children with MacDonald’s fries and the heavily caffeined sodas of Pepsi and Coke, to exterminate the whales and porpoises and salmon to provide feed for our pets, and to maintain our American way of life.

That’s my story and I’m sticking to it!

 

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Coming out of the shadows . . .

During the 18 months that I have been blogging on Word Press I have largely avoided postings of a political bent, whether a bend to the right or a bend to the left. I have not been entirely successful, but I feel that I’ve kept my preferences fairly in control. This posting will, in one fell swoop, cancel every effort I have made to remain neutral. With this posting I am coming out of the shadows and into the bright light of day. I am going to share my feelings about the influx of foreigners across our southern border, and contribute a suggestion that will bring that influx to a halt.

By some estimates, an average of 10,000 illegal aliens—I refuse to call them immigrants—successfully penetrate our southern border each day—10,000 come in and stay in—they do not return home, and are added to the rolls for the greatest entitlements given by any government on earth. These penetrations include drug smugglers and people smugglers as well as ordinary folks seeking a better life for themselves and their families.

Do the math. That’s 3, 650,000 per year, and in the coming 10 years that total will be 36,500,000 added to the estimated 20,000,000 already in the United States for a total of more than  56,000,000. I realize these are estimates, but they are in the ball park—perhaps fewer or perhaps more.

A frightening picture—how can our economy withstand such an onslaught? It can’t—this so-called illegal immigration will bankrupt the nation, an absolute given when combined with the current administration’s stimulus packages, entitlement programs and related actions. It can be stopped. Read on.

The solution is to build a wall, but not necessarily a fence or an opaque wall such as was built by East Berliners. Not that such a wall is ineffective—it was highly effective. It stood for some 28 years and in all those years a total of only 5,075 people successfully crossed to the West, an average of 181 people per year—181 successful illegal immigrants, so to speak. Among the unsuccessful attempts were 200 people that died in their efforts to immigrate illegally from East to West.

Mexico as a  sovereign nation is lost. That nation is lost to the drug cartels and nothing short of intervention by the United States military could return Mexico to the people, its rightful owners. That, of course, will never happen. Eventually there will be a cartel candidate for the Mexican presidency and the Mexican citizens will handily elect that candidate, if for no reason other than fear of the consequences if that candidate is repudiated.

Mexico is out of control. Its army and its state and local police are powerless to stop the cartels, no matter how many millions of dollars the US donates to their efforts. People are dying in the streets on both sides of the border, bullets are flying across the border, people have died on both sides of the border and many more will die in the future. That situation will only escalate unless we take action to prevent it now, or at least slow its momentum.

We don’t need a wall. Illegal aliens and drug smugglers will go over, around, under or through any wall we build, regardless of its height and regardless of its composition. As a law enforcement officer with the US Customs Service over a period of 26 years I have been to every official border crossing between Brownsville, Texas and San Ysidro, California and to many points in between those border crossings, and I know that a wall will not stop the infiltration of illegals, whether immigrants or drug smugglers.

Our border with Mexico is 2000 miles in length. That’s 5, 280 feet per mile. With three feet to the yard, one mile has 1,760 yards. A hopelessly obsolete 30-30 caliber rifle, the efficiency and effectiveness of which is eclipsed by modern military rifles, will kill a deer at a range of 200 yards. If we divide 1,760 yards per mile by 400 yards, we arrive at a figure of 400. If in that mile we wished to kill every deer that crossed an invisible line we would need only 44 sharpshooters, spaced 400 yards apart and armed with a rusty old 30-30 caliber hunting rifle—pretty soon the deer would get the message and avoid crossing that line between hunters.

Obviously if we wanted to kill every deer along a 2000-mile line that would require a force of some 88, 000 hunters. However, if we armed hunters with .50 BMG rifles, the weapons used by military sniper units, weapons with a range of more than a half-mile, one shooter could cover one mile, a half mile in each direction, and we would then need only 2,000 hunters, one for each mile of our 2,000-mile border and an additional 4,000 officers in order to cover three 8-hour shifts per day—far fewer than, just for example, the number of border patrol officers presently on the southern border. We would also need extra officers to cover for days off, sick days, days on annual leave and training requirements, but the total would still be far fewer than the current staff.

Got it? Six thousand sharpshooters from a vantage point created by towers—heated and air conditioned with porta-potties, of course, and its occupants armed with .50 BMG rifles and furnished with infra-red night-vision goggles, binoculars, radios, MREs for sustenance, plenty of water and lots of .50 BMG ammunition, and every deer that attempted to cross that invisible line between sharpshooters would not cross it, but would instead remain on that line. It’s rational to believe that all the other deer would soon wise up to the danger and not come near one of the towers.

Mind you, I have nothing against deer, but the situation on our border with Mexico reminds me of the joke about the papa alligator eating all but one or two of the million eggs or so laid by the mama alligator. The punch line of that joke is that if it were not for the papa alligator we would be up to our posteriors in alligators, just as we will eventually up to that level with those that we erroneously refer to as undocumented immigrants, of which they are neither—they are illegal aliens, and we need to deal with them now, sooner rather than later.

That’s my story and I’m sticking to it!

 
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Posted by on July 2, 2010 in Uncategorized

 

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Quote by Eleanor Roosevelt (1884–1962) . . .

This will be one of the shortest—or less lengthy, if you will, of my rants on Word Press. This quote was on the front of a card I received, unbidden, from a company called Neptune, giving me the opportunity to complete a form and submit it to be included in a drawing for a prepaid cremation and information on obtaining a space in our National Cemetery based on my veteran status. I couldn’t help but speculate, considering the extent to which our government is delving into our private affairs, on whether they know something related to my health that I don’t know, some ort of information to which I am not privy.

No, that’s not a typo—I didn’t mean to say some sort of information. Ort is a real word and properly used in that sentence.

I declined Neptune’s offer to participate in the drawing but I kept the card with the quote—I found it pithy, proper and provocative and decided to share it with any wayfarer that may pass this way—please read and heed!

Yesterday is history,
tomorrow is a mystery
and today is a gift;
that’s why they call it the present.”

Eleanor Roosevelt (1884–1962)

That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

 
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Posted by on June 30, 2010 in Uncategorized

 

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A letter to Sue . . .

A long-time friend and neighbor of our daughter—the princess that lives, loves and works in Virginia—relocated with her husband from Virginia to Alabama, and that relocation prompted this letter. I’m posting it now in order to record our respect and love for her, and for her friendship and love for our daughter. For many years she and our daughter provided a safe port for each other, a haven to protect one another through all weather, either fair or foul, whether in or out of their neighborhood. They still maintain that friendship, over a considerable distance than before. Our daughter created a keepsake album for Sue, and this letter was our contribution to the album.

This is the letter, exactly as originally written:

Dear Sue,

We’re glad to hear that you’ve found a new home so quickly, and we wish you every success and happiness in your new location. However, we are sorely disappointed that we won’t have the opportunity to spend more time with you—the time we had with you on our visit with Cindy several years ago was all too short.

With your permission (actually, you have no choice in the matter), we will use our space in your album to tell others what sort of a person you are and perhaps in the telling others will learn what sort of people we are. We used the alphabet (English, of course) to describe the characteristics we observed in the brief time we had with you. We also formed some opinions and cemented others in many conversations with Cindy (yes, we talked about you). You’ll note that the adjectives are all positive—no matter how we searched, we couldn’t come up with any negatives.

Twenty-four of the twenty-six words came easy, based on our visit, conversations with Cindy, and our observations of you in numerous photos sent by Cindy—Weedette meetings, costume parties, chocolate parties, painting parties and more—oh, and in the glamor photos Cindy sent, of course.

The two letters in the alphabet which gave us some heartburn were X and Y, so we referred to the American Heritage Dictionary, Second College Edition, an item which I “accidentally” packed with my personal files when I retired. It’s appropriately marked PROPERTY OF THE U.S. GOVERNMENT. We gave the government 48 years, so we figured that was enough to compensate for the loss of the dictionary.

In the remote possibility that you are not familiar with “zingy” and “xanaduic,” we’ll save you a trip to the dictionary: American Heritage defines zingy as “pleasantly stimulating, especially attractive or appealing.” Xanadu was a bit more difficult—the word is defined as “an idyllic, beautiful place.” We felt that the term could be applied to a person as well as a place, so we coined a new word— xanaduic (we briefly considered “xanaduish,” but somehow it lacks the dash and verve—panache, if you will—conveyed by “xanaduic”).

Here are the 26 words we feel will afford others some insight into your character and personality— if you disagree with any, we’ll be glad to discuss—as in argue—them with you.

Affable                Judicious              Sagacious

Beautiful            Knowledgeable    Tactful

Charming           Lighthearted        Unassuming

Delightful           Merry                     Vivacious

Effervescent       Neat                        Wise

Friendly              Open-minded       Xanaduic

Genuine              Perspicacious        Youthful

Heartwarming   Queenly                  Zingy

Iridescent            Righteous

We’ll wrap this up by wishing you and Steve the very best that life has to offer, including health, wealth, long-life and happiness. If you’re ever in our area, drop in—we’ll leave the light on for you.

Mike and Janie, the Queen and King of Texas

(Appointed and anointed by Debbi Coney — thanks, Debbi!).

 
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Posted by on May 22, 2010 in Uncategorized

 

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Letter to Kaye and Gary, 1993 . . .

This is the complete text of a letter written to a couple in south Georgia—the state, not the country—we had recently returned from visiting relatives there. As the saying goes, there’s been lots of water under the bridge since then. The couple has since gone through a tumultuous divorce—as are most divorces. They now live in different states and their sons are grown and married—with children. My, how time does fly and how things do change—and not always for the better!

Yes, I wrote this letter on government time, but in all fairness please know that I had mastered all the rules and regulations pertaining to my duties, and was ready to spring into action should some unforeseen event occur. The time I spent waiting for work in my profession was down-time, comparable to the time fire fighters spend waiting for a fire and a call to action. For those professionals, there is a limit to how much time they can spend polishing the fire engines—eventually they’ll take the paint off the metal—and much of their time is spent sleeping, playing cards, writing letters, etc. On my watch the fire engines glistened in the overhead lights and were at all times ready to go. I feel no remorse for having used government time and government equipment for personal use.

San Antonio Int’l Airport

November 29, 1993

Hi, Kaye and Gary,

Is it Kaye or Kay? Can’t really tell just by hearing it, so I’ll take a guess at it and spell it Kaye. Either way you’ll know who I’m talking to, right? Given the fact that you’ve never gotten a letter from me it may take awhile for the shock to wear off. I’ve even shocked myself at some of the letters I’ve written recently. I’m doing the writing at work because I am bored, and I am bored because I have nothing to do—at least there is nothing I want to do. I’ve read books and magazines and worked crossword puzzles and played computer games until I’m tired of all that, so now I write letters, mostly to people who don’t expect them. All on government time, using government equipment, and drawing a government salary, even 10 percent extra because I am working nights. It’s your hard earned tax dollars at work.

I’m the supervisor on the 3-11 shift, and we only work the incoming international arrivals—passengers and baggage. There are no administrative functions to be performed after 5 pm, and we have long periods between flights, sometimes several hours. The inspectors have a television with cable in the break room, but most of them read during those down times.

We really enjoyed our visit to Georgia this time, especially the cookout. We counted 45 people there, including the little ones and the inlaws and outlaws. We don’t even know that many people here. Of course, now that I think of it, I didn’t know a lot of the people there either. I thought that you did a masterful job cooking the fish, and I’ll cheerfully recommend you in case anyone asks. However it’s my opinion that the ice chest filled with beer in the back of your pickup truck helped a lot.

We had a good trip back home. Stayed just two days with my two sisters in Mississippi, then back on the road to San Antonio. The ignition actuator broke in my truck, so I had to raise the hood and use a screwdriver—out here it’s called a Mexican ignition key—to restart the engine every time I had to shut down for gas or food or the restroom.  We hit heavy rain coming through Louisiana, but I was lucky because I didn’t have to stop for anything.

Say hello to Andy and Jacob for me. Those two have really grown since I saw them. Given enough time and enough hints, I may have been able to identify Andy in a crowd, but there wouldn’t have been enough time or hints in the world to help me recognize Jacob. He had changed so much there’s no way I would have known him.

Kids seem to grow up a lot faster these days. I think it took me a whole lot longer. And seeing all the kids at the cookout, and seeing the kid’s kids, and knowing that the kid’s kids will soon be having kids made me wonder where all the years went. I guess they just slipped by while I wasn’t looking, or maybe I was looking and just wasn’t paying attention.

And a bunch of those years have flown by. I am now one month into my 45th year of government service, 22 in the Air Force and working on 23 with the Customs Service. No wonder I feel a little bit tired. I guess when I retire I’ll do nothing—after that many years of government service, a change of pace would be impossible!

We are having all kinds of weather here. Fall and winter do not bring a lot of change to San Antonio. The leaves fall, of course, but we never get the kind of cold you folks get in Georgia. The Chamber of Commerce claims that “the sunshine spends the winter in San Antonio,” but if it does it hides out behind the clouds a lot of the time. Right now we are hurting for rain.

Hope Thanksgiving was everything it’s supposed to be for you folks. We had a good turnout here. Everybody was at our house except Cindy—lots of turkey and all the other goodies. Turkey isn’t such a treat any more. We eat so much chicken that a turkey is just another chicken—it’s just a lot bigger. I heard a television comic say the other night that he and his wife had eaten so much chicken that they threw away their mattresses and were roosting on the bed slats. We haven’t gotten that bad—yet!

Gary, you need to take time and smell the roses. Take a little trip out here. See the Alamo, do the mission trails thing, take a ride on the river barge, go broke in the River Center, take a run up to see the LBJ ranch—possibly the best bargain in the country—interesting, lots of fun, and all free—drink a few cold Lone Star beers, visit the Lone Star brewery, see the Buckhorn Hall of Horns, take in Fiesta Texas and Sea World, and maybe even fit in a trip to Nuevo Laredo to buy some Mexican junk.

Well, let me shut this thing down. I have a plane due in a few minutes. This will be the last one for tonight. It’s a Continental flight from Mexico City, with a reservation count of 64 passengers. Those flights usually have a high no-show, and this one will probably come in with about 40 passengers. We really had the passengers over Thanksgiving, coming in for the big sales after the holiday. Don’t let anybody tell you that all the visitors from Mexico are poor.

They come through here with lots of cash and every kind of credit card imaginable, and according to the Chamber of Commerce they spend millions. The planes are full and the highways coming up from Laredo and Monterrey are packed with private autos from Mexico, some of them from as far away as Mexico City, just for the after-Thanksgiving sales. By Monday everybody is gone, and we settle back and wait for the Christmas shoppers.

I said I was going to shut this thing down, but started  rambling again. Using a word processor to write letters is similar to eating peanuts, running down hill and sex—it’s hard to stop once you get started. I just had a call from the Continental people. The plane is late because of maintenance, and will be in at 15 minutes after midnight, so I’ll get home around 1:30 or 2:00 in the morning. This doesn’t happen too often, but even once is a pain. There’s some consolation, though—I’ll earn overtime for the late flight.

Tell Andy and Jacob to save some of the big fish for me for our next visit to Georgia.

Best regards to everyone,

Mike and Janie

 
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Posted by on May 11, 2010 in Uncategorized

 

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Thee and me, and they and fleas . . .

Thee and me, and they and fleas . . .

The purpose of this posting is to share a comment that a viewer—a spammer—posted to my tale of snipe hunting. Well, actually I have another purpose, but if I reveal it at this point I may lose a few arrivals to this posting. I will therefore hold the other purpose in reserve for awhile. The snipe tale with the comment and my response can be viewed here:

https://thekingoftexas.wordpress.com/2010/03/29/snipe-hunting-a-tale-retold/

This is the viewer’s comment that I retrieved from the trash:

Good evening, Happy Fool’s Day!

Two winkies went on a hunting trip. After it began to get dark, they thought it was about time to go home. They unfortunately got lost.One winkie said to the other, “I read that if you get lost in the woods you should fire three shots in the air. It is supposed to be an “S.O.S.” So, the second winkie shot three times into the air. After waiting for a few hours, they repeated the signal. They tried it over and over, but nobody came to help them. Finally, the second winkie said, “O.K., I’ll try again, but we’re running out of arrows!”

Happy April Fool’s Day!

This is my reply to the comment:

My response to your comment is somewhat belated because WordPress identified it as spam and trashed it, and I overlooked it until this moment. I agree with WordPress—it is spam, intended to attract viewers to a commercial website. However, I enjoyed the April Fool’s joke you sent so I recovered your comment in order to share the joke with others. And yes, your ploy worked beautifully—I’ll include a link to that commercial  site in this posting, just to say thanks for the joke—all’s well that ends well!

And now on with this posting:

I may have been the last person online to be exposed to the joke about two lost winkies firing shots into the air to attract  rescuers. It’s very likely—I tend to live a rather sheltered life, and I am not prone either to telling or listening to jokes that malign others (I can hear my three daughters laughing already). In this instance the maligned appear to be toys called winkies, so there should be no reprisals involved. I promised the April Fool’s Day jokester—the spammer—that I would post the commercial site just to say thanks for the joke.

The is the commercial site for Winkies—enjoy! http://www.winkies.com/

The joke could have involved someone or some group other than winkies, but our nation’s requirements to maintain political correctness should be followed at all costs. However, in support of those requirements I will suggest a few alternatives  for the joke other than winkies, and in doing so I will strive mightily to maintain a balance—to spread the wealth equally, so to speak—I urge my viewers to refrain from using any of these suggestions in retelling the winkies joke—please!

The hunters could just as easily have been identified simply as two hunters, whether male, female or mixed, or as blondes, little morons, Aggies, Texans, Minnesotans, Mississippians, Californians, Floridians, Native Americans, African Americans, persons of Polish extraction, Irishmen, Democrats, Republicans, Independents, Tea Baggers, members of various Black Cacuses whether at the state or national level, Ku Klux Klan members, NAACP members, members of the Supreme Court, the Senate, the House of Representatives, the IRS, members of ICE, DEA, EPA, NRA and any other of the multitude of alphabet organizations—federal, state, city, county and private that seem to have the ability to multiply on command, Tiger Woods and the star of Deep Throat (she’s dead, rest her soul, but the joke would still work), ad infinitum.

The joke could also have identified couples known nationally and internationally, whether of the same gender or mixed. Some examples would be Joe Biden and Dick Chaney, Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi, Rick Perry and Kay Bailey Hutchison, Hillary Clinton and her spouse what’s his name, John McCain and Sarah Palin, Obama and his closest advisor on nuclear matters, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Benjamin Netanayhu, Barney Frank and anybody, Mutt and Jeff, Blondie and Dagwood —the possibilities here, as in the preceding paragraph, extend also to infinity.

I am including two poems, the first penned by Jonathan Swift, a 17th century writer, and the second an expansion of that poem by Augustus De Morgan, a Victorian mathematician. I consider these poems particularly pertinent (I really love alliteration!) to the relationship between government and the governed in our nation.

Swift’s poem:

So nat’ralists observe, a flea

Hath smaller fleas that on him prey,

And these have smaller fleas that bite ’em,

And so proceed ad infinitum.

De Morgan’s expansion of Swift’s poem:

Great fleas have little fleas upon their backs to bite ’em,

And little fleas have lesser fleas, and so ad infinitum.

And the great fleas themselves, in turn, have greater fleas to go on,

While these again have greater still, and greater still, and so on.

Special note: You and I are the great fleas in these poems. They are us—you and I and more than 300 million other U.S. citizens. These poems represent upside down pyramids, with government at the top and us at the bottom. Our government and our constitution are moving in opposite directions—government is expanding and our constitution is shrinking accordingly.

In relation to fleas, government is the biter fleas and we are the bitten, and the pyramid continues to grow wider at the top and narrower at the bottom. Let’s face it—we are staggering and bowing under the weight of all those fleas, and unless that weight is lifted, or at least lessened, it will eventually bring us to our knees, a national position that may possibly be the desired goal of the upper echelons of biter fleas, or government.

That’s my story and that’s my opinion, and I’m sticking to both!

 

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More dumbing down of America . . .

Today is Tuesday, March 2, 2010.

I am noting the date in order to record the day that I peeked into the future of America, and my opinion is that our future does not shine nearly as brightly as it should, and certainly not as brightly as it did before the promulgation of certain documents by our government.

And in that vein, please know that I just signed off from a United States government web site that provides everything one needs to know in order to become a naturalized U. S. citizen. I left in haste because I was stricken with extreme nausea, a condition that developed in less than five minutes of reading the basic conditions that an applicant must meet in order to become a bona fide citizen of our country, entitled to all the rights and benefits appurtenant thereto.

Numerous inhalations and exhalations, plus several Tums tablets, plus some fifteen minutes in a supine position on the sofa (lying down face up, on my back, so to speak) enabled me to recover sufficiently enough to return to the site for further reading. My nausea returned immediately on arrival, but I managed to control it. I felt that it was the least I could do in order to understand the requirements enough to pass the basics on to my blog visitors.

I stayed at the site long enough to capsule the requirements into a few brief statements—actually,  they can be expressed in one statement, namely that an applicant wishing to become a naturalized citizen must be alive. I found no evidence that our Immigration officials would grant, or even consider granting, naturalized citizenship status to non-citizens that have departed this vale of tears for another world, regardless of whether they ascended or descended into their new world.

At this point it would perhaps be beneficial to define a naturalized U. S. citizen. Such citizens begin as resident aliens, those that hold a green card, a federal document that gives the resident every right enjoyed by U.S. citizens except for the right to vote and the right to hold public office. Under current regulations, any resident aliens that have held their green card for a certain number of years may apply for naturalization, the successful completion of which will entitle them to all the rights and benefits accorded to citizens born on U.S. soil, or born on foreign soil to parents, either one or both, that are U. S. citizens, regardless of the place of birth.

I could ramble on interminably—just as I normally am wont to do—by replicating all the requirements, but you can read them for yourself at this site, The U.S. Naturalization Test. Rather than repeating the requirements verbatim, I will compare them with the basic rules that determine whether our children will, at the close of the school year, either ascend from their present school grade to the next level or remain at their present level for another year.

While our schools may vary in some degree, most require students to attain a final grade of C, an alphabetical term corresponding to the numerical requirement of 70 points earned by students from a total of 100 points. I know of no legal exceptions to that requirement, although in the past some schools have elevated students that failed to achieve the minimum points by granting them the necessary points—70, a C. That practice was labeled a social promotion—I am very familiar with a school district in South Texas—deep in South Texas—that used the term Circle C. That district’s report cards featured a C within a circle, indicating that the student had failed to attain a passing grade but was allowed to pass to the next level—that’s the concept of social promotion in action!

No, my children never presented their parents with a circled C—had they received a report card with such, I venture to say that they would not have dared to bring it home—they would have probably claimed, wisely,  that the dog ate it!

I am not privy to statistics concerning social promotions in American schools, neither past nor present, and any prediction of future social promotions could not possibly produce accurate figures. However, I can accurately predict that social promotions—read granting U.S. citizenship—will be awarded by our U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) in direct proportion to the numbers of applicants that minimally qualify for U.S. citizenship.

Unbelievable? Read on!

An applicant for citizenship must be able to read one sentence in English from a group of three sentences presented in English. Reading that one sentence correctly awards the applicant the qualifying grade of 33 percent in the quest for U.S. citizenship. Thirty-three percent is far below the 70 percent required for children in our public schools to attain in order to pass to another level. Thirty-three percent would be considered an F-minus in our schools, but it’s a passing grade for the legal resident alien on the path to citizenship.

And here’s the exact sentence, copied from the English & Civics narrative—the catcher in the rye, so to speak—Your ability to speak English is determined during your interview on your naturalization application. Well, I say good luck with that!

In this instance the official becomes the catcher in the rye—whether the applicant passes or fails the spoken English requirement is determined by that official. Based on my experiences accumulated over a period of 26 years while working in proximity to Immigration officials, I found that some lacked full literacy in at least one language—English. All such officials were bilingual, but I could neither determine, nor vouch for, their literacy in languages other than English. To apply the term catcher in the rye, I believe that in some, perhaps most, of the time the examiner will catch the examinee as the need arises (see the post script below for an explanation of the term catcher in the rye).

Wait, there’s more:

An applicant for citizenship must be able to correctly answer at least six of ten civics questions—six of ten—that’s another grade of 60 percent, an alphabetical grade of D in our schools. And guess what? An applicant that fails to attain that lofty 60 percent may test again, anywhere from 60 to 90 days after initially failing the test—the same version of the test the applicant failed. Based on my knowledge gleaned over 48 years of military and federal civil service, bootleg copies of every test will soon be available, and new tests will be developed to replace the existing bootleg copies, and soon after that bootleg copies of the new tests will be made available, etc., etc.

Other than finding that the path to citizenship for a long-time legal U.S. resident is a piece of cake, there’s lots more learning to be gained by spending some time on the citizenship site. You might consider taking the sample tests. They could prove to be an eye-opener for you concerning your knowledge of our nation and its government.

I took the tests, and yes, my eyes opened wide indeed—the tests were not the cakewalk I expected and I stumbled on several questions. Actually, I gave the wrong answers but I managed to eke out an A overall.

Try it—you’ll like it!

I have striven mightily to avoid any semblance of purposely projecting personal political preferences (how’s that for alliteration!) in this posting. I trust that I have retained my anonymity, whether I’m standing stolidly and solidly in the center, or I’m leaning toward the left or to the right of our political spectrum.

I realize that any readers will be able to satisfactorily discern for themselves which political party, if any, will benefit (if there is any benefit to be gained) from this kindergarten approach to determining qualifications for U. S. citizenship, whether Democratic, Republican, Constitutional, Green or Libertarian, or any of the plethora of third parties that infest the United States.

I must resume my supine position on the sofa now—I am sorely in need of more Tums.

Postcript:

My reference to the catcher in the rye was prompted by Holden Caulifield’s thoughts expressed in J. D. Salinger’s 1951 novel The Catcher in the Rye. Holden says he pictures children playing in a field of rye on the edge of a cliff, and in expectation of them accidentally running over the cliff he stands ready to catch them—he thus pictures himself as the catcher in the rye, and says that’s all he wants to be.

It’s one of America’s greatest novels, a read that you’ll enjoy.

I believe that—I really do!

That’s my story and I’m sticking to it!

 

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Government: A three-legged stool theory . . .

Over a period of many years I have spent, and continue to spend, considerable time in the waiting rooms of various clinics in two military hospitals, Brooke Army Medical Center and Wilford Hall Medical Center, both in San Antonio, Texas. I often take a paperback copy of Thoreau’s Walden along to help pass the time. In addition to Walden, the book includes Thoreau’s On the Duty of Civil Disobedience, his classic protest against government’s interference with individual liberties. From the back cover: One of the most famous essays ever written, it came to the attention of Gandhi and formed the basis for his passive resistance movement.

While in the waiting room I also read any literature that might be available. There is always a wide selection from which to choose, donated by patients and staff—paper back books and hardbound books, detective novels, romance novels, westerns, self-help books, children’s books, medical literature, and periodicals ranging from Reader’s Digest (I love the Humor in Uniform section) to Cosmopolitan with its ubiquitous tips for good sex, usually professing to be “what women really want” or “what men really want,” all probably written by men—and then again, perhaps not.

Any publication, regardless of theme, has the potential of increasing one’s store of knowledge—one simply needs to separate the wheat from the chaff.

Prompted by a front-cover blurb that read, Exclusive interview! President Barack Obama, I recently read an article in Black Enterprise—Your ultimate source for wealth creation, in the issue dated April 2009. The article was written by a Black Enterprise journalist following a 15-minute telephone conversation with the president, an interview purported to be “the first black publication to get an interview with the president,” and “the first magazine to gain an exclusive with Barack Obama since he took oath on Jan. 20.” From that 15-minute phone interview, Black Enterprise journalist Derek T. Dingle produced a well-written article that covered all, or part of, five pages in the 8.5 x 11 inch, 96-page publication.

I recommend the article to any reader, regardless of one’s political affiliation. Different readers will have different opinions on its content, but there is definitely knowledge to be gleaned—and although I run the risk of repeating myself, I will repeat myself—one simply needs to separate the wheat from the chaff.

This is the pearl I gleaned following multiple readings of the article and an unbiased—really—attempt to separate the wheat from the chaff (yes, it’s another repetition, but it’s one that is important).

The president’s stool is wobbly.

Yes—I said it, and I believe it. The president’s stool is wobbly, and at this point I feel an urgent need to define stool, a word that has many meanings. In this context (from Wikipedia), it means a backless seat consisting of a small flat piece of wood resting on three or four legs, and specific to a milking stool, a low three-legged stool used to sit on while milking a cow.

My contention that the president’s stool is wobbly was formed on the first page of the article. The last sentence in the article’s third paragraph reads as follows: In less than a month in office, he signed the $787 billion economic recovery package, purportedly the largest overhaul of the U.S. economy in history.

The first sentence in the next paragraph reads as follows: That action, the president asserts, represents only “one leg of the stool” in his mission to revamp the economic and financial system.” In the same paragraph, the president refers to three other plans; to ensure the financial stability of banks, to help struggling homeowners modify their mortgages and stabilize home prices, and to review structuring plans of domestic automakers.

By my count the president created a four-legged stool in those two paragraphs—one leg for economic recovery, a second for bank stability, a third for mortgages and home prices, and a fourth for restructuring plans of domestic automakers. Of course, as all are aware, he has created many more “stools” in the interim, and it’s a sure bet that all have at least four legs.

In my far distant past, in addition to numerous other farm chores, I spent a significant amount of time sitting on a milking stool, one positioned properly to facilitate extracting milk from one of various milk cows. And guess what? The stool had only three legs.

A true milking stool—a professional milking stool, if you will—has only three legs. Three legs only, not four, with each leg cleverly placed equidistant from the others. The terrain on which the milking operation is performed will always be level if selected by the milker, but if selected by the milkee, the terrain may not be level. With a four-legged stool the milker will constantly be required to maintain equilibrium while milking the cow. A three-legged stool will always be stable, regardless of the terrain, and the milker can concentrate on the intricacies of his task.

Hence the three legs as opposed to four legs—the three-legged stool will provide the milker a steady platform from which to operate. The four-legged stool serves the milker well if on level terrain, but if the terrain is not level the stool will wobble, and as any old-time milker will testify, the job is precarious enough without a wobbly stool adding to the discomfort and dangers already present. The stool may be a bit canted from a true horizontal surface—in that event, the milker must compensate for the slope in order to finish the job.

In those long-gone and little-missed good old days, a milker arrived at his work site by a circuitous route, stepping over, around and sometimes in barnyard patties that often lurked in unlikely spots. Given the fact that young milkers sometimes milked in the half-light of morning and evening, plus the fact that such milkers were wont to go barefoot in summer, some missteps were predictable and numerous.

A milker often worked in extreme cold, or in extreme heat in a malodorous atmosphere, all the while ducking a constantly swishing tail and dodging hind-leg kicks aimed at the milk bucket or the milker or both, all the while attracting and stoically enduring the attention of flies, fleas, wasps and mosquitoes—a milker had no choice, because both hands were gainfully employed.

If we look closely enough, we will find that the president faces similar obstacles and distractions in his administration. I believe we can compare the president’s job with milking a cow, albeit a far more complex job, far more intricate and in a much more favorable working environment, and the effects, whether success or failure, are far more reaching than a botched milking. In a botched milking only the cow will suffer—if the president’s job is botched, our people, our nation and our future will suffer.

In summary, the president’s stool is wobbly because it has more than three legs and is not on level terrain. He should remove all legs above the count of three, ensuring that the remaining three legs are equidistant from each other. And if his stool (his presidential platform) is canted, he must compensate for the slope—he must hang on (please ignore the inadvertent pun) by using whatever muscle or muscles are available in order to finish the job .

Some may feel that I have taken an inordinate amount of time to support my contention that the president’s stool is wobbly because it is not on a firm foundation, and that he may be—nay, will be—distracted from his mission by the need to counteract its action and thereby risk failure to attain his goals, or at best attaining some but not all of his goals.

I offer no apologies to anyone—not to the president nor to my readers—not for my analysis of the Black Enterprise article nor for my analogy of the milking stool. The president is working from a precarious perch on terrain that is not level—he should either change the terrain or remove some of the legs on his perch. I believe my three-legged stool theory of government is  as plausible, as reasonable and as workable as any theory that has been formulated in the past, and I offer it up for consideration, whether for our nation, for other nations, or for the world.

An afterthought that comes to mind:

I frequently hear the term double down used in reference to political operations, meaning that by adding additional items, usually to bring specific people on board, to a change that is not gaining wide acceptance, in hopes that the change might be pushed through.

Double down is a gambling term used in blackjack—if a player is initially dealt a pair—any pair, whether aces, face cards, tens or other values—he is allowed to double his original bet by splitting the pair, giving him the opportunity of besting the dealer on two hands rather than one. However, it also means he may lose two bets instead of one. If the player splits the pair, the dealer will give each hand one or more additional cards, face up, as requested by the player using the term, “Hit me.” In all instances the dealer will insist that the player “make one hand good before looking at the other.”

I mention the term double down only because it has often been used in this president’s administration. I submit that my three-legged theory, if followed properly, would produce far better results than doubling down. However, the gambling metaphor still applies—the president should make good the first three legs of policies offered for consideration before proposing further changes—in other words, make one hand good before looking at the other.

This is a note for any readers of this posting:

There is some wheat in this posting, wheat that warrants your time and effort to search for it among the chaff and then separate it. Yes, I know, it’s another repetitionI said it’s important, remember?

That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

 
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Posted by on October 11, 2009 in Humor, Obama administration, politics

 

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