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Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Yon' Cassius Hath a Lean and Hungry Look....

I've been ridiculed for not blithely accepting the notion that much of the world's ills are because we Americans drive Humvees and eat too much and have very nice houses. Well, I'm sick of it and I'd like to challenge that "we consume way more than our share" assumption. We live comfortably in the U.S. not because we are robbing the rest of the world, but for some really basic reasons that have to do with the way the U.S. is structured and was built. Here are ten factors in no particular order.

1. Government of the people by the people and for the people. As goofy as they get sometimes, we still have the right to vote 'em out and we can even change presidents without having to throw a civil war, unlike much of the rest of the world. You can't have a healthy economy without a stable government that doesn't monkey around with your business too much.

2. Peace - We don't have other countries running over our country blowing up things with tanks and missiles and such because they know we would, as that sage philosopher Hank Hill would put it, "kick their asses" Amazing how good that is for business.

3. Safety - Internationally? See above. Locally? We have a police force that believes it's here to "serve and protect" not spy and control the masses. Makes it a much better climate in which to do business.

4. Outstanding education - A few countries may claim to do it better, but most of 'em send their kids here for college. An educated populace is a money-making populace. And if you think our kids are stupider than we were, I challenge you to take the high school exit tests we give here in Texas. Brutal!!! Also, just because some of our kids are too lazy to take advantage of an available education doesn't mean that they can't. If they do, they grow up to be very smart people who make considerably more than the world average. I don't give a gnat's testicle that someone thinks Sweden's education system is better. So what. Who's the superpower anyway?

5. Low taxes. It was an ancient Roman senator that remarked that as taxes were increased, revenue to the empire decreased for some reason. Despots, dictators and tax collectors have been scratching their heads about that one for centuries. Business works better when the king doesn't take all the extra money you make away from you wiping out an incentive you have for making all that extra money in the first place.

6. Judicial system. When the robber barons rob you, if enough of you get together and take their sorry hineys to court, you can often find redress of grievances without having to stage a revolution or organize a raiding party. Merely hiring lawyers often works quite well.

7. We are an innovative people. Now the guy who criticized me about the whole "we consume to much" thing said that this premise was just wrong. In other words, Americans are fat and lazy and stupid, not smart, hard-working and creative. Okay, anyone want to guess how many superpowers there are currently in the world? With the entire planet hoping to knock us off our pins for being arrogant, I think we're pretty remarkable to stay on top of the heap for as long as we have. We come from ancestors who were kicked out of every "civilized" country in the world - most left the Old Word because they were smart enough to see what was really going on and got out while they still could - looking for a better land where they could be free to be their own creative selves without fear of persecution and where opportunity abounds. By the process of natural selection, Americans as a people are more likely to be energetic, creative and probably a little ADD. Though we come off as brash, boorish and arrogant to the entrenched bureaucracies of the old world who believe they are superior to all other life on Earth, Americans do tend to be great problem solvers. Not a lot of lazy, stupid people moved here from overseas. It was too hard to get here for the poorly motivated and they passed their genes along to their kids and grandkids.

8. We really do believe that everybody can do well with a little personal effort. The idea that it's all a zero sum game in which folks who do well must be robbing from others is not widely accepted in America. Folks who do rob from others in order to do well are generally rewarded with jail terms when we catch them at it and because this is an open society, a whole lot of them do get caught. We buy into the idea that a "rising tide lifts all boats". Our recent financial woes stem more from meddling and profiteering by our leaders than by any over-consumption on our part. In other parts of the world there is little or no expectation that a person may rise in the world any farther than their father or mother did. They are imprisoned by class, culture and a locked in bureaucracy that does not reward or even in some cases permit people to perform at a level above their fellows. To this day, the talented people of the world in such cultures look around them and see one shining city on a hill where they may make their dreams come true and they flock here by the millions, thereby improving the gene pool. Even the guys who swim the Rio Grande, if you did a profile, you'd probably find a gene for stubbornness, hope and courage in the majority of them.

9. In America you have the freedom to fail. We can all screw up time and time again, but if we keep on getting back up and wading back into the fray, we have every opportunity to turn it all around and succeed. The freedom to screw up and wind up virtually homeless and scrambling to get back on your feet is probably the most precious freedom we have and not one that is well understood or appreciated. In many countries, to fail is to die or be cast out. Here, it's a way of life that causes our mothers to worry about us. To create a pervasive fear of failure in a society is the surest means for creating a society that enshrines mediocrity and abhors risk-taking. Freedom to fail means we are also free to take risks so long as we don't mind accepting the consequences if we screw up.

10. Freedom of religion - the fact that each of us may worship as we please creates a body of the faithful that is strong in its diversity, that embraces the charitable needs of the nation (one church works with the homeless, another with orphans, another restores neighborhoods, others build houses, others run food pantries and soup kitchens, still others run hospitals and do disaster relief, still more send money and medicine to the sick and starving in other countries). The freedom to believe or not to believe without fear of retribution gives our nation a kind of strength that is not found in repressive societies where one faith is the only faith or where none at all is permitted.

Besides, Americans are nice people for the most part. When we produce more food than any other country, we share that food, we do not take it by force from other nations. We're the only country where being fat is a sign of poverty.

When we are able to buy more than we sell worldwide, how do we do that year after year? By being a huge money-making engine such as the world has never seen before in all its history.

When we consume energy, we buy it from others who wish to sell. We do not steal it from them. If they wish to hang on to their oil, we would have to find energy elsewhere. There are lots of sources. We just use the cheapest ones while they are available. We tear around burning gas and heating and cooling our homes and eating well and living in nice houses which others make money by building for us. Why? Because we believe that a nice life can be had by all and that an artificial leveling of income that turns us all into some grim proletariat where effort receives no reward and advancement comes by the clock and not by talent combined with hard work is unacceptable!!!!

The myth of the zero-sum economy is the most pernicious pack of drivel ever foisted on a trusting public by the supposed guardians of democracy. Today was a tough day for Wall Street. Maybe they need to dig down a little and buck up too. Maybe the tough, creative, wild men that came to this country looking for a chance need to re-emerge and drive out the creeping bureaucrats that have gradually overwhelmed our economy and would stultify it in order to bring it safely under control.

America has never been at its best when it was "under control". We're wild men and risk-takers. Let's try not to forget that as we're cleaning up the mess the bureaucrats have made of things.

I'm just sayin'

Tom King

Friday, September 26, 2008

Lying Lies and the Liars Who Tell Them

I want to apologize, in advance, for lecturing. I've been getting new variants of old e-mails with a new wrinkle designed to deceive people into passing them along.

What they do is put a line in it that says, "I checked this at....." and it gives a weblink. People look at that and go, "It must be okay, he checked." Then people send the hysterical e-mail warning on to 25 people in their address book. Ironically, if you actually check the Snopes link, it tells you that the e-mail is false. Tragically, you actually have to read the Snopes page to find out.

It’s just that some of what I see in the sending of subtly false e-mails by malicious individuals who wrote the originals and which take advantage of the trust of folks is the same technique I see being used elsewhere on the political scene nationally and internationally. What I believe is that the father of lies is seeking to deceive, if possible, the very elect in what looks like the beginning of the last days of Earth's history.

If Satan can use our trusting natures to spread confusion amongst humans, if he can discredit us by putting untruths in our mouths, even inadvertently on our part, so that you can't tell what's the truth, then he accomplishes his work bit by bit.

Because most of us don’t understand how computers work, we are particularly vulnerable to the “sky is falling” type of e-mail warning. In reality, you can avoid most problems by keeping your anti-virus programs up to date, by avoiding visiting dangerous sites and by using a malware program to scan your computer regularly. If you don’t open attachments you didn’t expect to get, that helps too.

In the same way, because most of us don't understand the financial system, we are particularly vulnerable to a stream of hysterical news reports that the "sky is falling". So what do we do? It seems to me we find folks we trust and try to tell the truth and ferret out the lies as best we can. I figure if we all stick together and help each other, the forces of darkness will find it harder to pick us off one by one.

It may seem extreme to treat hoax e-mails as the work of Satan, on a par with the vast deception being carried out in the national news, but here’s why I do. And don’t get me wrong, I don’t blame people who get taken in by these things. These e-mail hoax writers use a remarkable understanding of human psychology to decieve people and cause them to feel anxiety, distrust and fear. It actually makes me very angry at the original hacker who writes this stuff because it uses the better instincts and traits of good people in an attempt to deceive them. When we understandably want to warn our friends about this danger, then these little varmints laugh behind their sleeves at the people they have fooled.

Well shame on them!!!

What is remarkable is that this same technique is being played out on the world stage with virtually no difference in the basic method or purpose. Lies are being told and passed on from person to person. They look like the truth, they sound like the truth. They wear the clothing of truth, but underneath is a fabric of lies.

If you listen to the news today, you will likely hear stories that sound true, that frighten you and make you believe a certain thing that evil people want you to believe and the purpose of all that is to convince us to give up our liberty, our religion and our self-determination in exchange for the perception of safety. The safety offered, sadly is a safety from a threat that was never real in the first place; that was artificially created in order to maneuver us into being afraid and willingly giving up our fundamental rights in order to “fix the problem”. I believe that the problem with our financial system was deliberately created for the express purpose of discrediting capitalism and the free market system, opening the door to socialism and robbing us of those rights we once took for granted.

I see the signs that Christ is coming everywhere and the signs that Satan is actively seeking to deceive and destroy us. A powerful, centralized socialist/communist worldwide governement will provide the vehicle for Satan's servants to assume the overlordship of the entire Earth. They're talking an international currency and surrender of our sovereignity to world government and they are using our financial crisis as the excuse.

And what is really happening. We're watching an elaborate form of theater. The crisis is created in our minds. The whole thing is a tissue of lies in a house of mirrors and yet people will starve because of it. The government is buying up our economy with our own money. It's scary.

It’s time to pray and hang together. We do not have to fear. God is with us. We just have to make sure we know what's a lie and what's the truth. So, how do we do that?

"By their fruits shall ye know them."

Just One Man's Opinion


Sunday, September 21, 2008

He WILL get us out of Iraq.

Barak Obama's promise to get us out of Iraq and massively reduce the size of our military is one promise in all this election campaign that I truly believe. (We really need another Vietnam to boost morale in our military services)

His promise to increase the size of domestic police forces - I believe! (No more of those pesky demonstrations).

His promise to increase the size of government and the complexity of government regulation - I believe! (Nothing greases the wheels of American business like a lot of regulation)

His promise to increase taxes - I believe! (Never can have too many of those. Nothing energizes the economy like a lot of taxes)

His promise to give us change - I believe it! (No more of those pesky paper bills in our pay envelopes)

That's about it. The rest is pretty much bull!

I've been practicing the Old Soviet National Anthem on my banjo. I've got a feeling it may come in handy!!!

Monday, September 08, 2008

Injuns, Pirates & Community Organizers - Aargh!

Every summer in the middle of the camping season we had a week off to clean up the camp and take a breather from campers. We usually ran a life-saving class to train up the next generation of camp lifeguards and water safety instructors. About mid-week we always went to Arlington for a day at Six Flags Over Texas.

One memorable summer, we had all been doing a lot of canoeing – late at night, often merely drifting. A couple of us had mastered the art of paddling with the canoe gripped in your toes. Someone suggested we create a new level of canoeing honor – the Advanced Canoeing & Piracy Honor. We had a couple of new war canoes and so we all crammed ourselves into one canoe and began to practice. The target of our practice – The Indian Canoe Ride at Six Flags.

In those days, Six Flags had a ride that consisted of a huge Indian style war canoe into which some 20 people were crammed, given two foot long paddles and compelled to paddle a loop around a shallow lagoon near the Runaway Mine Train. It was a low impact, safe for little kids kind of thing. A couple of “Indians” sat at either end of the canoe with long paddles for steering. There were two islands and the canoes traveled a simple oval around them.

The tiny passage between the islands gave us the idea for the final exam for the advanced canoeing and piracy honor. The semi-final exam involved a moonlit night, sitting on the stern and bow decks or standing upright and removing your pants, but we won’t go into that here.

We arrived at Six Flags wearing identical blue Lone Star Camp Staff T-Shirts. At 11:30 we all arrived from different directions and slipped into line at the canoe ride, spacing ourselves so that we would all be in the same boat spaced evenly along both sides of the boat. Our pseudo-native-American guide pushed off without suspecting anything, though militarily spaced phalanx of blue shirts should have given him some pause.

We rounded the back of the second island and were approaching the gap between the islands when a soft chorus of voices began singing, “Stroke, stroke, stroke…”

Our Indian Guide began to look a little nervous.

Then our director, Sam Miller, sang out, “Paddles out!” 12 paddles came out of the water and poised at 90 degrees.

“Starboard pivot…………………..”

Paddles on the right side went back. Paddles on the left side reached forward. Some of the civilians on board joined in, thinking, I suppose that this was part of the ride.

“Hey, what’s going on?” shouted the bewildered Injun.


The starboard side of the canoe began paddling backwards (at least all the ones in blue shirts and some of the civilians).

The port side of the canoe began making a wide sweep stroke in opposition to the other side. Ponderously the canoe began to turn toward the channel between the islands.

“Hey, guys, c’mon,” our guide whimpered leaning on his own paddle trying to bring the canoe back on course.

“What are you doing back there?” the Indian in the front called out.

“It’s not me!” he called back. “We’re being hijacked.”
After a brief struggle, our guides surrendered to the inevitable.

“Oh, well,” Chief Pain-in-the-Buttox shrugged. “I always wanted to go this way…”

By the time we cleared the channel everyone in the canoe had joined in the hijacking and were merrily stroking in rhythm to Sam’s called cadence. A crowd had gathered on shore and were cheering our merry band of pirates on. As we cleared the channel, Sam called the commands that pivoted the canoe back on course for the dock. We swung around and found ourselves now playing “chicken” with the second war canoe coming straight towards us.

Sam increased the stroke count so that we were now cutting along at a pretty good clip. The Indian crews of the two canoes managed to avoid crashing headlong into each other, but passed uncomfortably close.

“Hey, you’re going the wrong way,” called out Chief States the Painfully Obvious.

"I know,” Chief P.I.B. called back. “I’ve been hi-jacked!”

As we came into the dock, Sam kept the speed up till just before we rammed the dock and then called for us to hold water. The canoe instantly reduced speed and glided into the dock smoothly and perfectly lined - except it was the wrong dock and we went in backwards.

Everybody bailed out of the canoe and scattered before security arrived. For the rest of the day, we heard snatches of rumor about a mysterious terrorist group that had hijacked the War Canoes.

There were copycat attempts later, but none that I have ever heard of were successful. Of course, they didn’t have three trained canoeing instructors, half a dozen lifeguards and some burly garbage men/lumberjacks along for the ride.

Now that’s community organizing!

© 2011 by Tom King

Friday, September 05, 2008

I Can't Get No, No-No, No-No...

Well, maybe I can.... Mick Jagger not withstanding.

I've resisted writing about Sarah Palin up to this point because I was a little afraid of gushing.

You see, despite the fact that I have repeatedly said I would have a hard time voting for the man, John McCain's choice of the Alaska governor as his running mate, changed all that in a moment.

And the Washington pundits think those of us in the conservative base are kind of silly for feeling the way we do about Sarah Palin. After all, she has no experience.

Pardon me? Even George Will, whose columns, I have placed on the start page of my browser after William F. Buckley died, criticizes McCain's selection of a relative political newcomer for the #2 spot in the administration.

Okay, let's look at "experience" as a factor. My top two favorite presidents of all time were rank amateurs in politics. One was a revolutionary war general named Washington who hadn't spent a lot of time in the Continental Congress - just managed to be there when it was important to be there. The rest of the time he was out leading men in the nasty business of killing enemy armies. I think one of the things that made him great was that he was NOT a serious politician. John Adams, who was a politician, mostly succeeded in making a mess of things as president. Jefferson, who contributed much to our constitution nearly got us in real trouble with his stripping of the army and navy down to bare bones. James Buchanan was the most "experienced" politician ever to serve as president as Will points out in his column and yet he was the most paralyzed president ever. He's the one who handed Abraham Lincoln a Civil War as a Whitehouse-warming present.

Which brings us to Lincoln...

Arguably one of the most important figures of the 19th century, this upstart politician had a term in the House and some time in the Illinois statehouse under his belt before his inauguration. His primary qualification? More people thought they could trust him than any other candidate.

Turns out they were right. Harry Truman was a hat salesman ten years before becoming president. Eisenhower was a general, but no politician. Ronald Reagan went from acting to the governorship of California and then straight on to the Whitehouse. He was never a senator or ambassador or Congressman.

A lot of our best presidents have been relative amateurs at politics. So why do so many Washington insiders think you need to be an insider to be an effective leader. When Reagan was president, the hatred for him in Washington was palpable. At the same time, the love for him in the heartland was deep and abiding.

Sarah Palin appeals to all us small town folks because we are sick of how the Washington insiders have turned our government into something sleezy and elitist and snobby. We're looking for someone with character and political pundits kind of forget that after they get on the talk show circuit awhile.

I was disappointed with Peggy Noonan, author of "When Character Was King", who criticised Palin's inexperience with a haughty nose in the air tone when she thought the microphone was off. Peggy admitted in her book that she didn't understand Reagan at first till she had worked for him a while. Sounds like she's been back in the news media too long and has backslidden from her faith in character as a primary leadership strength.

I will tell you this. I'm not worried about Sarah. She's shown that she has the guts to wade in and take over with a take-no-prisoners, style that warms the cockles of this crusty old conservative's heart.

God bless her. One of the pundits worried that she'd be only "a heartbeat away from the presidency".

I'm thinking that's not such a bad thing at all! She should appoint Fred Thompson her vice president when it happens!

Just one man's opinion....

Tom King