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Friday, December 25, 2009

Christmas Psalm

Bear, Daisy and Tom crash after a Christmas Dinner that can't be beat....

Christmas Psalm
By Tom King © 2009

Christmas is my touchstone
It makes me smile at strangers.
It pushes me to reach out to family.
It fills my head with music.
It tells me I should at least try to be pleasant to the harried clerk at Wal-Mart.
Even though I am over-worked and aching down to my very bones,
I pull it all together one more time; one more year.
And I am lifted up and taught to be a better man than I had thought to be,
     because it’s Christmas


Thursday, December 24, 2009

Ho, Ho, Humbug - It's Scrooge for the New Millenium!

What is it about Christmas that makes so many people mad? I was tweaked today over a Christmas poem I wrote and planned to publish here tomorrow. It's theme was that Christmas is good for you because it encourages you to reach out to others. My critic asked what is the good of "reaching out" at Christmas if you didn't do it the rest of the year. Then, with a snear that was palpable, he dismissed what I wrote as "cute" and said it would appeal to the 'overly sentimental'.  Okay, so what's wrong with that?  Furthermore, what is wrong with dragging yourself up once a year, taking out your 'goodwill toward men', running it around the block and giving it a little exercise anyway?

Because we hunger and thirst, we are creatures that eat and drink. We do not eat and drink all the time, only when we are thirsty and hungry. So, in deference to this human need, we schedule meals so that we make sure to take in that necessary nourishment regularly to maintain our physical health.

Holidays and sabbaths are another scheduled indulgence of human need, like meals and snacks. We need to hang with our friends and family. We apparently need to party. Such celebrations feed, not just our bodies, but also our souls. I don't think it's an accident that most holidays are associated with some kind of food or feasting.  Our souls need to be fed in the same way our  bodies do.

So, what is so wrong with scheduling regular times to feed the soul? What's wrong with occasionally partaking of a little good cheer, peace on Earth, goodwill toward men. I cannot think of a better reason to make a little effort to reach out to your fellow man than because its Christmas. There ought to be a holiday that celebrates giving!

Cynics clame it's about greed and "what you get".  That's a lie straight up, except maybe for little kids who are, after all, unprincipled selfish barbarians by nature. For most of us who have matured a bit, Christmas is all about giving.  Don't believe me?  Try this experiment. Don't give any Christmas presents to anyone this year. Go empty-handed to every holiday gathering and watch what happens. Don't apologize or make excuses. Just don't bring anything.

You will not be turned away from a single party I guarantee. You will likely receive lots of gifts as well. It's also likely, someone will shove a little something extra under the tree for you, thinking you must have fallen on hard times. Nothing inspires generosity, especially at Christmas like someone in trouble. We need to exercise our giving bones once in a while. It's an instinct that is built into us, like breathing.  We want to give. We need to give. Christmas allows us to do it all out.

One of the best Christmases of my life was the first one where I had a job (a paper route) and was able to buy things for my family for Christmas.  I'll never forget it.  To this day, Christmas is like sticking my giving batteries into the socket for a bit. The recharge I get from this season carries me through the rest of the year.

In the same way, my weekly sabbath rest renews my spirit and recharges my relationship with God every 7 days. That doesn't mean I don't have a relationship with God the rest of the time. It just means I take a little special time for that relationship once a week. 

It's like having sex for a married couple.  Periodically coming together like that recharges a relationship.  People also need to come together in groups to celebrate. It recharges families and communities.  Without holidays, families die; communities wither. 

I agree with you that if you don't maintain an attitude of goodwill toward men all year it's pretty much meaningless to fake it just for Christmas.  But if you truly do try to keep it up all year (as I do), what's the harm in celebrating goodness, joy, generosity and peace on Earth good will toward men?

And what the heck is wrong with being sentimental? Sentiment leads us to perform acts of kindness toward our fellow man. The nicest people I know are the kind that get teary over movies and children dressed as squash singing about the food pyramid. I've been known to shed tears over a McDonald's commercial myself - ooh, their advertising guys are good....

At the same time I've given more hours to the cause of helping people with disabilities, seniors, low income families and abused and disturbed kids than I can begin to count. Don't tell me sentiment is phony or only gets dragged out at Christmas time like an Easter bonnet or those snow skis we keep threatening to use "someday".  Are we become so cynical that a bunch of fat old soft-hearted schmucks sitting around singing carols and giving gifts to people somehow threatens the new world order?

Do we so badly need to be hip that a little holly, hot chocolate and sentiment becomes a preposterous (and somehow dangerous) thing that must be sneared at lest sentimentality break out like an epidemic of the mumps? If that's the case, I'm glad I'm getting old.  I really don't want to watch this sad old world turn into that bitter cynical place it seems headed toward.  When I see my fellow man dismiss as sweet and warm and wonderful a celebration as Christmas, when they call it an "illusion of harmony", I despair for this current crop of human beings. 

Harmony is what we make of it. I may disagree with my fellow man over politics or religion (and frequently do as readers of this weblog know). That's inevitable when you have creatures as diverse and creative as human beings.  That doesn't mean it's not nice for one little bit of the year to stop and allow ourselves to get a little overly sentimental about the ideal of peace on Earth, goodwill toward men.

So Merry Christmas to all of you tonight in the hope that each and every one, who is of a mind to, finds something to get a little misty-eyed over........and at the risk of offending those of Uncle Ebenezer's party who may be reading this with their noses wrinkled up and a scowl on their lips.....

God bless us every one.

Tom King - Flint, TX

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

A Response to Pro Health Care Folks Who Think I'm Stupid

Health-Care-O-Matic: And don't ya wanna know how it works?

I gave a rather long-winded response to someone who challenged my opinion on health care by insinuating that I was an ignorant troglodyte basically.   Here's my answer:
It always comes down to name-calling and talking points with the health care true-believers. You assume that the free market is what caused the astronomical rise of health care costs. It's not! The government has been diddling with health care for 50 years and in that time has burdened the system with ridiculous regulations, burdensome paperwork and a heavy bureaucracy that it can ill support. Bureaucracies are like big dirty snowballs. They roll along collecting more bureaucrats who create more useless paperwork for each other. In segments of our economy where the feds haven't tried to meddle, things get done quicker, more efficiently and usually better. If my physician could make decisions strictly based on what was wrong with me and not on what someone in Washington thought ought to be wrong with me, if she didn't have to fill out 20 forms in triplicate and answer to a team of risk management people and lawyers, I could have affordable health care.

20 years ago my wife suddenly developed a volleyball-sized ovarian tumor. We'd just started a new business and invested everything we had in it. We had no idea what we would do. Her gynecologist told her not to worry. He did the operation for free, the hospital dipped into a local emergency fund to take care of the brief hospital stay. We were very grateful and did our best to give back to our community, providing free emergency day care at our center to people in need.

Under this health care plan, my wife's doctor will not be able to do such things for free. The law prohibits doctors from charging anyone less than what they charge the government. This well-meant law kills any sort of pro-bono work because if a doctor does treat a patient for free, he has to treat all the government insured patients for free and there goes his practice. If the doc goes ahead and does it and doesn't tell, and gets caught, he goes to jail.

This is what happens when you have government designed health care. It's like upholstering a chair with a sledge hammer when a staple gun is called for. You cannot sit in Washington and design a system that works effectively at the local level in all situations.

When I was a kid, I grew up without health care insurance. Our local docs charged people what they could best afford. Docs didn't get wildly rich until the government came along and started fiddling with the system to make it 'fair'.

I've seen how the system works with and without government interference and let me tell you folks, you can trust the doctors to be a lot more fair and compassionate than you can trust government bureaucrats. The most heart-breaking stories of medical neglect and misery that I have heard have come at the hands of government run medical programs and government/corporate medical protection rackets such as are common today.

You cannot solve the problem by giving the very thugs and bullies, who are responsible for the problem in the first place, even more power. I have been doing social advocacy work for seniors and people with disabilities and emotionally disturbed and disabled kids for 25 years. Ordinary people left to their own devices, in my experience are almost unfailingly generous and will do the right thing in their own communities.

Those who will not, those who are bullies and exploiters are a problem, but they aren't in charge, unless we elect them to office or put them in charge. That's what socialized health care does. It puts the foxes in charge of the hen house. When you have the kind of money concentrated in one place that a universal health care program represents, you WILL draw the greedy bloodsuckers you are complaining about like so many sharks to nibble off the edges till there is nothing left.

The only way to prevent that is to take away their power and put the health care system in the hands of those who have sworn an oath to care for the sick and turn the government to the task of beating off the sharks.

But the left won't consider that because they haven't the imagination to see how a decentralized system can work, even though such systems are more flexible, resilient and efficient than any centralized system known to man.

And, by the way, "Oh, yeah, well you're stupid!" isn't much of an argument, especially when I doubt a one of you started out in poverty like I did and worked for practically nothing all your working life to help people as I did (they don't call 'em nonprofits for nothing).

I own no home, have no savings, no medical insurance and work for myself when I can get the work. I'm the guy you guys keep trying to save and I'm here to tell you I don't want you to save me, especially if it means creating a gigantic bureaucracy to control every facet of our lives, stifle individual creativity, punish excellence and turn our nation into frickin' Detroit - the American poster child city for central planning and government funded development.

You look at history, at the dismal record of centralized government planning and you see what ought to be according to your ideology, and not what actually is. We are selling our children's futures for something that feels good and makes us feel less guilty because we're so well off.

And before you start telling me as a Christian that I don't really practice my faith (remember the old Golden Rule - I really do practice that and so do a majority of Christians), let's see you do what I've done, help the people I've helped, spent the unpaid hours I've spent doing real things to help real people and given back what I give back from my meager income (at least 4 times the percentage Barak Obama gives from his huge income).

It must be lovely to simply say I support global climate change laws and universal health care and save the whales and I don't use animal tested cosmetics and be able to sleep at night as though you've actually done something for your fellow man.

Let me see you out on the front lines and we'll talk about it. Let me see you collecting money and organizing your fellow church members to build a ramp for a disabled person in a wheel chair instead of saying, "Isn't there a government program for that?" and then going on your way as though that helped. Then I might be impressed. Maybe you do those kinds of things, but if you'll look at the stats, it's us "Christians" you talk so bad about that donate more money to third world development than the entire US government's foreign aid programs put together. Not only that, but when we send medical aid or build a well in a village, we drag our butts onto a boat and go over there with it to make sure it gets done.

I am well and truly sick of people who haven't a clue making sweeping statements about Christians who haven't bothered to find out whether they were true or not. I'm sorry if as a child you were frightened by a cranky Sunday School teacher. That happens! We're not all like it and it is every bit as wrong to stereotype the Christian community based on some anti-Christian propaganda you heard at some Students for Democratic Society Meeting when you were in college.

There, I've done it - I've gone off on a rant. I'm over my alloted blog length of 400 words.

I'm sorry, we were talking about health care.

My final word:  Good stuff if you can get it in its pure and unadulterated form!

Tom King - Flint, TX

Monday, December 21, 2009

Light One Candle

Light a Candle in Your Window

December 21, 2009
On this day in 1981, the candle of liberty was being snuffed out in Poland. Church watchers were sitting outside churches and synagogues watching to see who entered and were taking names. The secret police raided Lech Walesa's solidarity union offices. The leaders of the Polish freedom movement were being imprisoned as the Soviet Union threatened military intervention. In the midst of this, the Polish ambassador escaped to America where he met with President Ronald Reagan. Ron and Nancy fought back tears as the ambassador told the story. Vice President Bush comforted the ambassador's wife who had begun to weep. Then the ambassador turned to Presiden Reagan and made an unusual request.

"Would you light a candle in the window of the White House for the Polish people?" he asked.

In typical Reagan fashion, he rose from his chair, went straight up to the second floor and placed a candle in it. As the ambassador watched, he lit the candle with his own hands. Then, Reagan did the ambassador one better. He called a press conference and went on the air before the nation and gave a speech. In it, Reagan appealed to all Americans to put candles in their own windows that Christmas to show their support for the Polish people in their hour of peril.

I remember that Christmas. A candle went up in our window too and in millions of windows across the nation in solidarity with the freedom-loving people of Poland. It was an incredible display and the people of Poland still talk about it to this day.

In Iran, the people are stirring. The secret police take the leaders of the unrest off the street and throw them in prison or shoot them. The mullah's are watching. In Iran the common people yearn for freedom, yet America's new president is silent.

The reason is becoming increasingly clear. In the United States, Homeland Security compiles lists of Americans - gun-owners and preachers, radio personalities and community organizers (the real kind that don't get paid by Acorn). The Congress plans to meet on Christmas Eve to take one more giant step toward taking our liberty from us and our President waits anxiously in the wings to sign into law a scheme to further compass us about with the chains of federal control. Maybe our ambassador should defect to Poland and ask the president of Poland to put a candle in his window for us tonight.

When we are without leaders, it falls upon the American people to become their own leaders.
Let all freedom-loving Americans light a candle in their windows tonight as a symbol that we will not allow the light of freedom to die; a symbol that our prayers go up to our brothers and sisters in Iran, Venezuela, Cuba and North Korea who live under the thumb of despots and criminals and who long for freedom.

More than 2000 years ago a babe was born in a manger and angels proclaimed "Peace on Earth!" The prophet Isaiah said that He would "Proclaim liberty to the captives" and on the night of his birth that light of liberty was kindled and grew into the greatest free nation this Earth has ever seen. False kings and proud emperors have been cast by the wayside in building this powerful force for good. This nation has not only fought against tyranny, but has freed countless peoples from their own chains by direct or by indirect action - often by the mere fact of our existence.

We stand now at the end of the world faced with the greatest threat mankind has ever known. Our president once again bows to kings and potentates. Our representatives sell our liberties for 30 pieces of silver. The light of liberty is threatened.  

Until the author of our liberty returns, I would call upon all men of peace, all believers in freedom, justice and righteousness to rekindle the flame of liberty everywhere. 

Let's start with a single candle in our windows this Christmas.

I'm going to go light mine right now.

Tom King - Flint, TX
(c) 2009 - permission to reprint with credits is granted to all.

Friday, December 18, 2009

What to Do With The Tea Party?

I read several articles and listened to a radio rant yesterday about the future of the Tea Parties. How much of each piece was passion and how much was "audience carving" by radio hosts and pundits that are running a distinct 4th or 5th place, I'm not sure.  The thing boils down to two basic arguments.  

1.  We have a two party system - pick one! A third party is a waste of your vote.

2.  Both parties are corrupt and have failed us.  It may be time for something new. A third party can win!

So, let me muddy up the waters a bit with a third suggestion for what to do about the very powerful conservative forces that have martialed behind the Tea Party banner.  Admittedly this is a hybrid approach and would call for leadership that isn't in this thing to accumulate power.  My strategy would call for the Tea Party to lend its power to others without holding direct power itself. The leadership for this new "Party" would not take down the two party system, but would radically transform it without participating in the actual governance of the country.  Here's how it would work.

The Tea Party Movement should formally organize itself right down to the local level. It should elect local chairmen or women. It should hold state and national conventions. It should raise money to support itself. The one thing it should not do is run candidates for office.

So what would the Tea Party do?  Simple. It would formalize the power of the independent voter. It would pull together conservative Democrats and Republicans and independent voters into one body. It would seek out Republican or Democrat or, I suppose, even Libertarian candidates where that makes sense.  It would actively endorse those candidates whose integrity, ability and political philosophy matches what we value and could bring a solid body of voters down on the side of good candidates.
So how does that help?

1. It formalizes the conservative block under a single banner and gives Tea Party members the power to influence elections in a very real way.  The Tea Party vote would be courted by politicians who want to win the election.
2. It allows Tea Party members to stay with the party they already belong to and to work within that party for reform and yet maintain their connection to a solid body of conservative American allies outside the party that cannot be bullied by Democrat or Republican party leaders.
3. It lets us influence the entire field of candidates without the need to "throw away" votes on candidates that can't win. The Independence Party in New York does something similar. I think we need a national version of that.
4. By not running candidates ourselves, we help avoid the "absolute power corrupts absolutely" problem. The mission of the Tea Party then becomes, not securing and holding power, but holding politicians accountable, no matter what party they belong to.  You want a Tea Party endorsement and contributions? Do the right thing.
5. It formalizes strategic planning for conservatives. It gives us a mechanism for applying "behavioral conditioning" to politicians.  Naughty men and women in Congress are remembered at election time. Tea Party endorsements allow real conservatives who have Tea Party support to take a run at their party primary with a real chance of winning.  I see Tea Party endorsement as a balancing force standing in opposition to the party leadership's manipulative ability - both parties!

Though Teddy Roosevelt had an unfortunate flirtation with Progressivism, he did have one thing right.  "Speak softly and carry a big stick!"  We need a big, big political stick.  A formal Tea Party that doesn't run candidates could do that. The party leaders will weep and wail and gnash teeth, but they will pay attention.

The question is, can we find enough citizen leaders to pull the party together who have no ambitions to hold power, take bribes and graft or wear the trappings of power.  The Tea Party could act as "sergeant-at-arms" for the American political system. If our politicians are naughty, we rap their knuckles and fire them.
I think it could work.

I'm just sayin'

Tom King - Flint, TX

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Officials Search for Taliban Recruiter - Hey, Where Do I Apply?

According to the Sunday paper headlines officials are searching for a Taliban recruiter.  As a good card-carrying conservative, I decided rather than actually reading the article, I'd just go ahead and go off on a rant if that's okay with you.

The economy sucks.  Nearly one in five of us is out of work if you count the guys that flat gave it up and are hibernating for the winter. I saw that headline about them needing a Taliban recruiter and I thought, "You know, I could do that."

I could send those boys some real prizes to trick out as suicide bombers.  America is such a fertile ground for finding candidates for a job as a one way mystery shopper.  Besides, I've got the hat! I can imagine the interviews with the fellers I'd send old Achmacrankypants the Terrorist Human Resources Director.

SCENE: A Cave in Afghanistan
(Achmacrankypants the Terrorist Human Resources Director enters and seats himself behind a dead water buffalo that is serving as a desk.)

Achmacrankypants:  Miss Farouch, send in first Amerikan jihadist applicant!  And bring me coffee – extra goat milk.  My stomach is making noise like camel.

Miss Farouch:  Infidel number 1. Approach!

Cletus: “Howdy there.”

Achmacrankypants: You are Mr. Cletus Hogwallow

Cletus: Yup!

Achmacrankypants: You wish to join the Taliban and kill imperialist Yankee dogs?

Cletus: Jest point me toward them rascals.

Achmacrankypants: You will wage jihad!

Cletus: Yeeha!

Achmacrankypants: It is called Jihad!

Cletus: Yeeha!

Achmacrankypants: No, it is Jihad!

Cletus: That's what I said. Yeeha!

Achmacrankypants: I am admiring your spirits.  Let's try on special vest.
(Hands vest with dynamite and detonators to Cletus)

Cletus: Hey, I like this outfit there Mr. :Poopypants.  Hoo, boy, that there's some big old shotgun shells on this thang.

Achmacrankypants: Now, we just plug this wire in here like this.  Now you hold this little box like this.....

Cletus: I gotcha. This is one o' them radio thangs or somethin' ain't it?

Achmacrankypants:    Yes, Mr. Cletus. You must go and stand in the Yankee Imperialist Swine Market and push this button when I say to push it.

Cletus: Like this?

Achmacrankypants: No, no, no.  You must wait until I say “Push” on the radio.

Cletus: Push?

Achmacrankypants: Push

Cletus: Push?

Achmacrankypants: Yes, Push!

Cletus: Okay................


I bet I can find a bunch of really exciting new Taliban recruits for 'em.

Tom King – Flint, TX

Friday, December 11, 2009

Our Own Sarah Palin? Debra Medina IS a viable candidate - here's why.

Texas has an opportunity to lead the way next year in throwing the bums out. Is anybody as tired of the country club Republican Party as I am? I've been listening intently to the debate over whether we should run Perry or Hutchinson for governor next year. Well I don't know about anyone else, but I've got problems with both.  It looks like the Republican Party is once again giving us conservative lite vs. conservative lite.  Either way we've got a wheeler dealer and I'm not sure that's good for us at a time when Texas may need a leader who isn't afraid to offend the guys back at the club house.

Okay, I know you have to compromise your principles some to get anything done in politics. In many ways Rick and Kay Bailey have done journeyman service for the state of Texas and I do appreciate it. But I think it's about time for term limits to kick in here. No one owns the right to political office, nor should they. Rick and Kay will do quite well in the private sector. It's time for new citizen leaders.

Debra reminds me of Sarah Palin. She's already given the Republican leadership hell for illegal shenanigans at the Republican convention. She's a mom and a professional nurse and businesswoman. I would love to see someone like her in the governor's office. We have a weak governor form of government in Texas anyway, so it's not like she could do a lot of harm because of her "inexperience". The legislature is the real power in Texas. The Texas governor can, however, do a lot of harm if we get a dishonest one.

What about throwing away your vote?

No such thing. A Republican conservative WILL win in Texas. The Democrats keep running circus clowns and con men. A vote for Debra in the primary won't risk losing the race to the Dems. I don't think she'll run as an independent (nor should she if she doesn't win the Primary). If she loses, we can always vote for one of the other ones in the general election if they win the primary. Let's face it, Kay and Rick are pretty much two sides of the same coin. It's worth the risk to send a message nationwide by putting a virtual unknown into the Texas governor's mansion, especially when we may have to secede from the Union in the next couple of years just to save ourselves.

I want someone new.  Besides there are more of us who AREN'T in the Republican Country Clubhouse than there are in it.  If we really are sick of being led around by the nose by elitists, we're going to have to revolt and take back the party from the ground up.  We have a priceless opportunity to do that without risk of handing the whole thing to the Democrats.

This Primary we can make a statement and reject the business as usual politics that got us all into this mess.

Besides, I think Debra Medina rocks!

Just one man's opinion

Tom King
Flint, TX

Monday, December 07, 2009


Please don't think I'm writing a manifesto here. I'm not............yet!

But, I wonder how many red state Americans are still able to watch television anymore? We sit out here in the heartland and watch in horror as a government we didn't elect (or wish we hadn't voted for) turns our country into something we do not recognize. It looks to me like our President and his henchmen in Congress are gathered round the US economy and are beating it to death with sticks. It's like one of those appalling Youtube videos where a bunch of high school thugs knock a did down and kick him to death. We can do nothing about it, so we turn out heads away and cannot look anymore.

I always knew the world would end and that at its ending bad things would happen that we would not be able to prevent - only endure. Though I've long believed the world would end, I did not think to see its ending darkness in my lifetime. A prophet once observed that the last movements in the great drama being played out on the world's stage would be rapid ones.  She apparently knew whereof she spoke.

Jesus said that the meek would inherit the Earth. That will only happen if He comes to our rescue. What is happening now has been long planned. The machinations of the dark lord of this world are coming to fruition. There is a frantic quality to what is being done by the increasingly small group of people who are trying to turn the world into their own personal fiefdom. They know that time is short and that if they attract the attention of the great mass of people, they will not secure  or the opportunity is lost. power. What they do they must do quickly or it will collapse round their ears.

Health care must get done. Cap and Trade must get done. The great financial bailouts had to be done because it is only for another year that we will have a Democrat majority in Congress and the economy must collapse before that election happens. A crisis must be created as a pretext to expand government control. If people cannot be made to be so afraid that they willingly vote for their pretended saviors. If we won't surrender our liberties of our own free will, then the economy must be totally collapsed. The riches of the working wealthy must be taken away so that the only financial power left will be in the hands of government and their corporate allies (who will undoubtedly be protected).

Unless they continue the current relentless assault on the foundations of our country, all will be lost. If they delay too long the good people of this country will finally look up from their fields and workshops, notice what's going on and then it's out with the torches, frying pans and pitchforks. It may come to that anyway before the end of time.

I'll see you guys when the revolution comes. Should be lots of fun.

Just one man's opinion,

Tom King